I’ve actually applied for another job! As ‘Head of Digital and TechEd’ but for another Government department it seems similar to the job I currently do and I spent a fair amount of time trying to get the application as good as possible… this is the first job that has really jumped out at me all year so far…
As mentioned 6 months ago, I love the flexibility of my current job so I’m hoping this opportunity would also enable me to work from home a couple of days a week and with a similar flexible working pattern…
This is already a ‘win win’ as even if I don’t get an interview at least my application is up-to-date meaning future job apps will be easier! But lets see how things go… will provide an update in due course…
During past weekends, Chris and I had walked most of the 62.5 miles of the Norfolk Coast Path and had only 7 miles (between Mundeley and Cromer) left to do… well this has now been achieved and full details of the entire 62.5 mile route can be found on our travel blog.
Another book about cycling around the world… and I loved it! Another incredible adventure which was well written and so interesting to read. Alastair was only 24 when he decided to leave his home and family in England and cycle through Europe and the Middle East and all the way down the length of Africa to Cape Town. Brilliant!
These are a couple of quotes which really demonstrate Alastair’s ability not only to write beautifully but to fully capture his humble sense of engagement and absorption from his surroundings:
Alastair supports ‘Hope and Homes for Children‘ an organisation set up by a British couple who find homes for children who have been abandoned or orphaned. When Alastair met some of these children in Sudan he said “as I shook their small hands and looked into their shy eyes it was with a feeling of ‘you are amazing’… A beginning with no schooling, home or parents is out of my comprehension and I drew so much strength and resolve from them.”
A few pages later… “Despite their poverty, the Sudanese people I met were happy. They had dignity and self-respect and were content with what little they had. And they had an abundance of friends, family and faith. They were the kindest, most cheerful, hospitable and welcoming people that I had ever met. I pedalled through the village towards Ethiopia with a smile on my face.
Paragraphs such as these are so inspiring and heart warming that I can’t wait to read about the next leg of Alastair’s journey which stretches the full length of the Americas. I love the sense of adventure mixed with dose of motivation each time I read a section.
Following this first book Alastair became an adventurer who writes about his travels, gives lectures and pioneered the concept of microadventures. Alastair’s idea of microadventures are about fitting in a little inexpensive adventure at the weekend to escape your life perhaps by camping under the stars or wild swimming in rivers.
My version of a microadventure has been many mini trips to Europe where, when I’ve been short of time and money, I’ve still travelled and seen the highlights of Paris, Amsterdam, Florence, Berlin and several more cities in a day or short weekend. In fact, I see and appreciate my life as being packed with microadventures… a beautiful 5 mile walk which ends in a country pub during a warm sunny evening after work; a weekend of camping with lovely friends; an afternoon bike ride across bumpy tracks and fields to see my parents… or end in another pub… a trip to the coast or Peak District to do a long walk…
In preparation for my relaxing Cuba beach holiday I purchased a good old paperback which I felt would be far easier to read than reading books from the Kindle app on my iPad! You can leave a book lying around on the sun bed, it doesn’t matter if you get your smeary sun cream fingers on it and the odd splash of pina colada doesn’t hurt…
I managed to read this book within the week I was in Cuba and while I found it quite good and I enjoyed reading it, I could take it or leave it… it wasn’t one of those books that keep you gripped from start to finish…
I did enjoy some of the themes and values which came out strongly from the book… the warmth of the traditional Irish family, the complications of relationships and the idea that following your true feelings is best!
However I’m starting to realise that ‘chick lit’ isn’t really my thing… I’m really keen to read the next instalment from Alastair Humphreys where he cycles from Patagonia at the tip of South America, right up to Alaska in the very north of the Americas land mass. Tales from real life adventures are much more exciting!
Book read: High and Low: How I hiked away from depression by Keith Foskett
I really like the way Keith writes… descriptive enough to make the book interesting and conjure up a suitable image in your mind but without being too over the top…
This is the second of Keith’s books that I’ve read and I was interested to learn more about the links between hiking and depression… since I’ve been doing so much exercise for the last 6 months I feel I’ve been on a permanent high… However I can see that even if you do a lot of exercise, this can surely help to lift your mood but it isn’t a cure for depression. Reading the book through the eyes of someone suffering helped me to understand the condition.
I picked up this, the first paperback book I’ve read in years, at Heathrow Airport to take on my recent Seattle and Alaska trip. This is also the first ‘story’ or fiction book I’ve read all year… or for several years in fact… I wanted to look further than travel adventure books this time!
This book is, in many ways, a heart-breaking love story about a couple called Robbie and Emily… the book begins with the couple in their 80’s and is a wrenching account of Robbie dealing with Alzheimers. The story jumps back to different times in their lives and the struggles they’ve faced together over the years. I enjoyed reading it but it has a weird and somewhat uncomfortable twist at the end…
This book was the second of the ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ Smiths airport deal… and another about relationships… it took some perseverance for me to get into, but once I did, I quite enjoyed it. The book is set in Cornwall and follows the life journeys of its main characters, Nell and Van. There are a few twists and turns and several thought provoking sections… and much of the book is actually quite sad…
I did enjoy reading these two fictions books… but I’m back onto another travel book again… about another cyclist attempting to cycle around the world…
These tracks are in no particular order and I’ve tried to list each artist only once… but found it difficult to narrow it down to one track in many cases… never mind…
Kissing a fool or maybe Spinning the Wheel or perhaps Cowboys and Angels… all classics by George Michael… I love the intro to Cowboys and Angels about 45 seconds in and also the smooth mellow saxophone instrumental at the end… Oh, and Fast Love and December Song, Georges ‘other’ Christmas song…
Space Oddity or maybe Fame or maybe Aladdin Sane by David Bowie: legend…
Corner of the Earth by Jamiroquai: awesome track which reminds me of trekking in remote places
Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks: love this… chillin’ summery F*** it kind of song… also like ‘Tired of Waiting for You’… how cool were the 60’s?
Tainted Love by Soft Cell: brilliant and classic 80’s track
Gloria; Sunday Bloody Sunday; New Years Day… I’m a big fan of early 80’s U2 tracks. Oh yes… and Party Girl… silly but fab song!
Could You Be Loved? One of Bob Marley’s brilliant tracks…
Light my fire by The Doors: always been a fave; together with People are Strange…
Club Tropicana by Wham! You can feel the holiday vibe with this
Pass out by Tinie Tempah: love the instrumental bits in this
California Dreaming by Mamas and Papas: bunch of hippies singing about one of my favourite places… love it!
Bohemian Like You by Dandy Warhols
Spaceman by Babylon Zoo… slightly weird
Blue Monday by New Order: reminds me of the 80’s
Valerie by Amy Winehouse: brilliant track… or Back to Black? Maybe Back to Black pips the post of my Amy faves… a bit depressing but Amy at her best…
Happy by Pharrell Williams: a real uplifting song… in fact probably the most uplifting song I can think of
Hawaii 5-0 theme tune: one of my favourite instrumentals; reminds me of Hawaii
Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs: classic… ‘nuff said…
Paint it Black by Rolling Stones: a classic Stones track… closely followed by ‘The Last Time’… love this too…
Echo Beach by Martha And The Muffins: gotta have a beach track or two in here somewhere!
Don’t stop the Music by Rhianna: I like a few Ri Ri songs but this is probably my fave…
Livin La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin: maybe a bit cheesy but I still love this track from old swivel hips!
Smile by Lily Allen… bit of attitude from Lily… Love it…
The Real Slim Shady by Eminem: one of many excellent Eminem tracks
Feel by Robbie Williams: by far the best Robbie track… spine tingly brilliant…
Aint No Sunshine by Bill Withers
Wonderwall by Oasis… classic
Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana; one of my favourite bands
Mambo Italiano by Sophia Loren: love a bit of latino Italiano…
Mucho Mambo (sway) by Shaft… more latino… makes me want to get up and dance about… sorry, one more… also Lambada by Kaoma… want to find a beach bar and do the lambada all afternoon with easy access to a jug of caipirinha… sigh…
Thriller by Michael Jackson: have heard this hundreds of times but never get tired of it… well its either Thriller or Off the Wall… I love Off the Wall too, real boppy stuff…
Black Velvet by Alannah Myles: sultry…
Gypsies Tramps And Thieves by Cher: best Cher track… so original… actually not usually keen on her songs but this is an awesome track…
Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension: my birth sign and another hippy track!
Mrs Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel… fantastic classic film! Scarborough Fair and Sound of Silence are more awesome tracks…
She’s not there by The Zombies
The Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune… love this and could listen to it over and over again… fabulous piece of music
Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira: Sassy… wish I could shake and swivel my hips in the manner of Shakira…
Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses… awesome track especially towards the end where it goes… ‘Where do we go… where do we go now…’
Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc: an absolute must have in my list!
Love and Pride by King: not the best vocals but a brilliant tune… another classic 80’s track and really uplifting
Lady Gaga – Telephone ft Beyonce… love this song!
Call Me – Blondie… brilliant 70’s track…
Hung Up – Madonna… what is it with telephone songs??? Am I weird??? No… while I like this Madonna song I think Secret is probably my favourite Madge track…
Ticket to ride; Twist and Shout; Love Me Do… a few classics from the Beatles
Message in a bottle by Police…another real classic
Baggy Trousers; House of Fun; Night Boat to Cairo… love a bit of early Madness…
Down Under by Men at Work… a guilty pleasure
Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink – Lady Marmalade… Hey sister go sister…
Hotel California by The Eagles… another brilliant track which I could listen to over and over again…
This is the first book by a famous travel writer that I’ve read this year. This book documents Bryson’s trip from the very top of Europe starting in Hammerfest in Norway as he travels across the continent and right through to Istanbul where the east of Europe meets Asia.
This was Bryson’s first travel book which was written in 1991 and I must say that I did read the original paperback version when it was published then, so over 25 years ago.
It felt weird reading this book again as it is nothing like I remembered it! This shows how time can distort the way you remember things… I have since been to many of the places he visited which is great as I can now relate to them. Maybe this is another reason I remembered the book so differently?
This isn’t the best book of my 50@50 challenge year by any means… Bryson does complain a great deal and does paint himself as a stereotypical moany tourist… I found the book funny in places but after a while the jokes become a bit tedious…
Elspeth was the first female to circumnavigate the world by motorbike and documents this fantastic journey in the form of her book. She is incredibly inspiring as she shares every detail including accounts of her being treated badly, being ill and having to deal with nightmare bureaucratic border crossings.
She did this between 1982 and 1984 so long before the days of smart phones and sat navs… and while in her early 20’s…
I was in the middle of reading of her immense courage and the hardships she overcame on her own while on my recent solo trip to Montenegro. This really put my trip into perspective… the short flight, comfy hotel, things to do, people being super friendly so not even a little toe dipped out of my comfort zone… Elspeth inspired me to do something more adventurous another time…
Elspeth noticed that people in developing countries seemed far happier as she reflected on her journey towards the end of the book:
“It was clear to me how easy it is to take things for granted and forget to be grateful for the basics in life: family, food and shelter.”
This is something I also noticed while travelling around the world in 2016… travelling in developing countries is a humbling experience…
An interesting and realistic account of a family of 5 who travelled around the world in an old VW camper van. The author (the dad, Simeon) gives you a good insight of what would be involved if you ever wanted to take on such a trip, setting out a number of issues for example with border controls and with shipping their van between continents.
This book did take me a while to get into so progress was slow at the beginning. However the book got better and better as the family continued to drive through Europe and into Turkey, Syria and Jordan and onto India, Australia and the US.
Incredibly Simeon drove his family through Syria although thankfully for them this was shortly before the tragic events of Syria took hold. Even so, he described the tensions the family felt in a country on the brink of civil war.
This book definitely inspired me even more to take on something similar… maybe not driving around the world in one go but I would certainly love to drive around the UK, Europe, Australia and the US in camper vans!
I nearly changed this challenge in case it seemed a little ‘fluffy’. However, as I was preparing for this, it forced me think carefully and put many things into perspective. Having reached the age of 50 and having seen how incredibly hard so many people’s lives are in terms of poor health or simply their life circumstances I do feel immensely lucky to have an abundance of things to be grateful for. I also realise that life can change in an instant so I try to make the most of it and try never to take anything for granted.
Psychology studies have shown that people who feel and express gratitude are consistently happier, are more able to deal with adversity and are less likely to suffer from depression.
And FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerburg had a resolution in 2014 to write a thank you note every day in a bid to counteract his critical nature and express more gratitude.
So, (being very diplomatic here) in no particular order…
My husband: Chris, the person who shares my life. I am grateful that he chose me as his wife and we continue to build on our companionship, experiences and joy as we travel through our combined life journeys together.
My children: I am incredibly lucky to have a son and a daughter, both now in their twenties. Nothing can beat the feelings of love, awe and protection I have felt since they were both born…
My parents: who, lets face it, if it were not for them, I wouldn’t be here! My parents who brought me up, taught me right from wrong, gave me a warm and happy home and guided me from the very beginning of my life. They are all (including my two step parents) very different and I have learned a lot from each of them in different ways.
My brother and wider family: including all of my relations such as my lovely step daughters, parents-in-law, nephew and niece and all of the others, all of whom I enjoy spending time with and who enhance my life in one way or another.
My physical health: I’ve got to the age of 50 and thankfully have good physical health which enables me to lead an active lifestyle. I am now determined to do what I can to maintain my health in order to maximise my chances of a healthy old age. Until recently I put an average effort into keeping fit and healthy but as the weight crept on and I found my cholesterol levels had increased I gave myself a sharp nudge to focus on my health as a priority.
Freedom: thankful I live in a country that allows a fairly decent amount of freedom. In the UK we generally have the freedom to make choices about our lifestyles irrespective of our age, gender or background. We can wear what we want, eat what we want, work and travel when we want and don’t have too many restrictions.
Holidays: In relative terms holidays have gradually become cheaper throughout the last 30 or 40 years which means many people in the Western world can enjoy several holidays and trips away each year. I am therefore grateful that I live in a time to be able to do this. Even 30 years ago, most people only had one holiday a year. And even less in previous generations.
Budget airlines: the likes of EasyJet and RyanAir have enabled me to see a fair amount of Europe, something which would have been more difficult and expensive in the past.
My best friend: we’ve been friends for over 35 years and she is the one person who has always been there as someone to confide in and share my highs and lows.
My friends: nothing beats having warm and lovely people to share experiences and good times with. I am particularly grateful that some of our friends have navigation and outdoor skills which enables me to join them for amazing trekking adventures.
My work colleagues: these guys make my work life so much happier!
My job: which provides a decent income which allows me to lead a comfortable life. I’m lucky that it is so flexible which means I can work at home sometimes, vary my start and finish times and build up hours to take additional ‘flexi’ days.
My annual leave allowance: I am thankful I have 32 days of annual leave each year which enables me to take several annual trips away.
My home: working in London, I constantly see homeless people sleeping rough on the streets. This always makes me feel grateful that I have a home to go to. We live in an apartment so it isn’t huge but its warm, comfortable and we have a roof over our heads.
Hot water: and a lovely hot shower each morning.
Clean water: to have taps with clean running water is a luxury compared with many countries around the world.
Central heating: as a teenager living in a 400 year old cottage, I remember waking up with ice inside my windows in the winter! I don’t have this in my warm cozy flat. Again, central heating is a relatively modern luxury which wasn’t available for past generations.
Dishwasher: I always appreciate not having to wash up the dishes… a) because I find washing dishes is a boring chore and b) because I have ezcema and the washing liquid makes my hands sore and itchy…
Washing machine: I also appreciate not having to hand wash clothes!
My comfortable bed: having slept in a range of uncomfortable beds while travelling the world in 2016, I am always grateful I have a warm and comfortable bed to sleep in. We brought a new bed last year and paid a bit extra for Egyptian cotton covers and a soft comfy mattress cover.
An abundance of fresh food: always at our fingertips.
My laptop: one relatively small device which can do so much: store photos, produce documents, send and receive emails, use of Google to research and plan trips and for the vast amount of knowledge available at your fingertips and countless other tasks. Sad, but I love my laptop!
Fast Internet access: essential in this day and age. Surprisingly one of the worst places for Internet access during our 2016 travels was Australia!
Books: as well as something to relax with at the end of the day, books provide a massive source of inspiration and knowledge.
Music: can be incredibly uplifting although this depends on the type of music you listen to! This is why I prefer upbeat music.
Dark chocolate: another little pleasure… nice dark chocolate straight from the fridge
Coffee: necessary throughout the day and particularly first thing in the morning… I’m grateful for that little quiet time when there’s just me, coffee and my laptop… personal laptop that is… not the ‘w’ one…
My car: I’m using it much less for local journeys particularly now that I have a 1050 mile walking challenge to meet this year, but having a car gives me the freedom to more or less go where I want, when I want.
Lack of stress: something I have learned much better to deal with as I’ve got older. Its important to rise above minor stresses and irritants and to stop wasting time and energy getting stressed over them.
Lack of debt: only a recent thing… I’ve relied on credit cards far too much throughout most of my adult life… now the feeling is good that the only debt I have is my mortgage.
Meals with family and friends: priceless! I love spending meal times with these special people 🙂
My drive and determination: this helped me to push through and achieve my academic and career aspirations. It also helped to ensure we achieved our year long 2016 career break.
My sense of adventure: just makes life more interesting…
My positive attitude: life is to be enjoyed and not endured and having a positive attitude helps me to swiftly get through tough times.
My mental health: thankfully I think my positive attitude helps to maintain good mental health. I’ve never suffered from depression or anxiety or any other mental health condition. I hope this continues!
My open mind: while I have listed many modern day conveniences I am flexible and desire a simple life. I would be as happy with the adventure you experience while camping as with the luxury of staying in a 5 star hotel. My open mind enables me to try new things, new foods and new experiences with enthusiasm.
My sense of humour: OK, so I’m not the wittiest person around but I believe its important not to take life too seriously and to see the funny side of things where possible.
Knowing when to let go: essential… nobody’s perfect and you need to drop things that start to impact on your own wellbeing and happiness. I try to let go of the following: perfection (its too stressful and being perfect mostly doesn’t matter anyway); baggage (sometimes difficult but if you don’t let go, it drags you down); worrying (doesn’t change the outcome); other peoples opinions (OK to listen but always best to do your own thing).
My minimalist values: maybe having an open mind has helped me to value experiences over things. Rather than spending money on material things including cars, houses, designer clothes and suchlike, I value living my life to the full with weekends spent walking in the countryside, weekends visiting a new place in Europe and holidays at every opportunity.
Beaches and the sea: I don’t enjoy laying by the beach on a sun bed but I do love beaches and the sea. That is snorkelling, swimming, walking along the beach, watching the waves crashing and soaking up the beach atmosphere.
Mountains: I am grateful that I’ve been able to climb a few hills and mountains and experience the sense of achievement and also the solitude this brings. Not everyone is able to do this and I’m keen to continue climbing hills and mountains while I am can. The feeling of standing at the top of a mountain and being awarded with incredible views is exhilarating.
Trekking: again, trekking around the countryside and particularly in scenic places such as hills and mountains in national parks or along the coast and the feeling of freedom you experience.
Restaurant choices: we are lucky to have a vast number of restaurant choices which enable us to sample fantastic food from every corner of the globe. This wasn’t something as common 50 years ago.
Laser eye treatment: brilliant! I had laser eye treatment when I was 40 years old so have spent the last 10 years being free from glasses or contact lenses.
Laser hair treatment: oh yes… permanently getting rid of pesky unwanted body hair about 4 or 5 years ago was awesome. It was great that during our 2016 travels I had the freedom of not having to shave my legs or carry a lady shave around.
Improved ezcema: I’ve suffered with ezcema since I was a baby and have had times when it has been so bad it has affected my entire body. Sore, inflammed and incredibly itchy skin… thankfully it seems to have improved as I’ve got older and got better at managing it. It hasn’t gone and it’s left its mark with scars and damaged skin but it’s under control at last!
My safety: in the UK we enjoy relative safety. Sadly there has been a number of terrorist incidents within the last few years but in reality, the chances of one getting involved is quite minimal. Compared with many countries and within reason and with normal precautions you are safe to go about your daily life without fear of being mugged or murdered.
My life: and hopefully many more years to come! You never know what life has in store for you and I am firmly committed to making the most of the journey through my life…
In many ways I would like to think I lead a fairly minimalist lifestyle. Five years ago, my husband Chris and I downsized from our house and moved into a smaller apartment. Before we moved we significantly reduced our possessions and spent many weekends taking stuff to charity shops and to the tip.
Nearly 5 years on and the clutter is starting to build again… I’m not overly keen on spending time ‘tidying up’ as there always seems something better I could be doing. So I have to be in the mood to have a sort out…
Well… I’ve made a start today! The first bit of decluttering I’ve undertaken this year began with a clothes sort-out. As this ties in with my ‘capsule wardrobe‘ challenge, I’ve put the details under that heading.
As well as finishing off my clothing declutter, I also need to focus on the following:
Sorting through my paperwork (tends to build up however hard you try to reduce it)
Sorting through my books (I now buy Kindle books but have quite a few books that I haven’t even looked at for 5 or even 10 years…)
Sorting the kitchen cupboards (checking everything is in date and fit for consumption)
Sorting the freezer
So, as mentioned above, I’m not entirely new to the concept of minimalism and de-cluttering. One of the main reasons for doing this is just to keep life simple. Sorting through heaving wardrobes trying to find something to wear is stressful and I’m keen that my life is as stress-free and easy as possible.
Decluttering isn’t just of the material nature… I’ve got my meditation classes starting next Tuesday in order to do some mind de-cluttering!
Its Easter Saturday today which means a long four day weekend and the perfect time to start making some progress towards a capsule wardrobe!
Wikipedia explains the official term capsule wardrobe was coined in the 1970’s by somebody called Susie Faux with the idea being you create a wardrobe with a few essential pieces of key clothing that don’t go out of fashion.
Like most things, you can take this type of phrase and adapt it as you wish. My reasons for creating a capsule wardrobe are as follows:
Reduce the stress of too much clothing clutter
Create more space in my wardrobe
Only keep clothes I actually wear
With reference to the third point above it has been said that the 80:20 rule often applies to clothes and I found several web articles on this. The idea is “many people wear only 20% of their clothes for 80% of the time”. I think this is a fairly accurate description of the frequency of the clothes I wear!
I’ve made the initial attempt at de-cluttering my wardrobe… I think I still have a few more things to reduce before I can official say I have a ‘capsule wardrobe’ but I’m pleased I’ve made a start today!
These were the basic rules I applied to my clothing de-clutter:
Get rid of anything that is too big – now that I’ve lost nearly 2 stones since 4th December 2017 I don’t want to keep anything that is too big ‘just in case’. I need to get it into my head that my current size is my size and that it is a permanent thing and not a temporary state. So after trying multiple things on I’ve sifted out various items of larger clothing that now look ridiculously baggy.
Get rid of old and tired looking clothes – and faded and generally clothes that are past their best. Some of these items of clothing have hung around in my wardrobe for a couple of years and are just taking up space.
Just keep a small number of ‘indoor’ clothes – like the old pair of jeans that you wouldn’t want to wear if you are going out but are OK to wear around the home. You only need one such pair! And maybe a couple of tops…
Get rid of clothes I haven’t worn in a while – I don’t want to put a time limit on these as some only get worn on certain types of occasion. For example, I may not have worn my strappy sandals for 12 months but that doesn’t mean I won’t wear them in the summer. I think this just needs a bit of common sense and maybe re-phrasing to ‘get rid of clothes I am not intending to wear ever again’…
So I still have my shoes and underwear to go through but already I have a nice big chunk of space in my wardrobe!
And I need to start thinking more carefully about how I’m going to apply the idea of a capsule wardrobe which I think is something more than just getting rid of a few clothes…