The Book Lover’s English Adventure

Books, Life

Earlier this year I took a little holiday back to my English homeland and went on a road trip with a friend. Due to crazy work schedules, jam-packed lives, and my parents springing a family weekend trip on me, our plans prior to the trip got about as far as deciding to hire a car and head to Cornwall. And so began a road trip that ended up being a little literary tour around the South West of England. So, if you’re ever wondering where to go outside of London for some culture ‘n’ that, take a read.

 

STOP ONE:
Who left those stones there?
Ok so this one isn’t literary but it is historical/cultural! Our trip started bright and early one Monday morning, trading the busy London streets for the rolling (rainy) countryside surrounding the A303 as we headed towards England’s south west coast. What neither of us realised was that we were about to drive passed one of England’s oldest landmarks (apparently we’re not very good at map reading). Suddenly my friend pointed out the odd shaped stones in the distance and it took us both a moment to twig it was Stonehenge! So naturally, we stopped and took a wander. Stonehenge

Honestly, from the road these stones don’t look that amazing, but up close and with a bit of historical context added to the mix from the exhibition and audio guide, they’re pretty darn impressive.

 

STOP TWO:
A town twinned with fantasy
Unless you happen to be an avid Discworld fan like my holiday pal and I, you might not have heard of the town of Wincanton. It’s a quaint English market town somewhere in Somerset with a few little cafes and shops. For many, its a pretty insignificant place on the map. However what makes it special to book nerds like me is its rather unusual twinning with a fictional fantasy city. You see, Wincanton is twinned with one of the most notorious cities of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – Ankh-Morpork. 

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As TP fans, obviously we made sure to stop here and discovered that not only is Wincanton home to the Discworld Emporium (the only official merchandise store/Discworld pilgrimage site) but it also happens to have a few Discworld street names lurking in one of the housing estates if you look hard enough.

 

STOP THREE:
Misty cream teas on Dartmoor

After a night in Exeter we continued on our journey to Cornwall by driving through the notoriously misty Dartmoor National Park. Situated in south Devon, Dartmoor’s foggy hilltops have inspired many a tale – most famously the escapades of a certain deerstalker-wearing private detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles is set on Dartmoor, and the old Duchy Hotel, where Conan Doyle was a guest and supposedly inspired to write his story, is now the main Dartmoor visitor centre.

Cream teas on Dartmoor

The moor itself, spans an impressive 954km² of grassland, hilltops and diverse landmarks. So, if you’re not caught out by the cold, misty rain like we were, you can go hill walking, ride through the moor on horseback or enjoy a spot of whitewater kayaking before retiring to your hotel to keep writing your novel.

We managed to pick the one day with terrible weather to visit, so we took shelter in the visitor centre before enjoying the most delicious cream tea in a little nearby café.

 

STOP FOUR:
A legendary King on a clifftop
Laying Claim to the LegendAny fan of historical tales of Knights and magical swords will be more than familiar with The Legend of King Arthur. Me? I did an entire module at university about the ancient and modern interpretations of the legend so I’m a bit of an Arthur Nerd. So while planning what to do with our second day in Cornwall we realised our road trip could take us to the ruins of Tintagel Castle – the place that claims to be where it all began, with the conception of this legendary King.

These rugged cliffs don’t just house a castle ruins, they look out over the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean and give some spectacular views. We decided to climb the steep old stone steps to the castle and take a wander. And our reward once we got to the top? Discovering a statue of the legend himself. So of course we posed for a selfie with it!

Meet Dave

The story goes that the people at English Heritage thought it would be cool to have a statue up there so they commissioned it and had it helicoptered in. Rather than being an artist’s impression of King Arthur, it’s actually modelled on one of the gift shop staff, a 6ft tall bloke called Dave. How do we know this? We asked the guy at the ticket booth.

 

STOP FIVE:
Roaming through Regency in Bath

On the final day of our trip we woke up in Bath. Bath is a town known for its hot springs and architecture, but it was also briefly the home of 18th century novelist Jane Austen.

Regency Fan LanguageIt’s widely accepted that Jane’s time in Bath heavily influenced the novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. By this point in our road trip we were aiming for a final literary adventure to complete our set, so, naturally, when we discovered there was a Jane Austen Centre we knew exactly where we were headed! We took a very quick and slightly damp stroll through the city, admiring Georgian houses and the impressive Bath Abbey on our way to 41 Gay Street, the home of the Jane Austen Centre. Once there, we joined a short tour through the house guided by various characters from her novels who told us about Jane, her family, and the society she was a part of. Finally, like all good English literature fans, we took the opportunity to dress up in period costume and pose with Mr Darcy!

Awkwardly posing with Mr Darcy

 

Life with PCOS

Life with PCOS: It’s not just about periods

Health, Life, Sex

The room smelled oddly like my old GCSE Art classroom. Outside, the world hustled and bustled. Inside, people sat in ones and twos, flicking through upmarket magazines, brochures, and books on trying to get pregnant. A portable digital clock in front of me counted down the minutes ’til I had to go back to the nurse to give up another vial of blood.

Unlike my GCSE Art classroom, expensive-looking paintings adorned the walls. Sun shone through the floor-to-ceiling windows. It was an unseasonally warm February morning. The clock bleeped. I stood up and shuffle-clomped to the nurse. I was in my winter boots – the forecast had said rain – she commented I was a little overdressed. I laughed awkwardly with her, mumbled something about these being my only waterproof shoes with grip. Seeing as I was recovering from surgery, I didn’t want to slip on the ice later. Blood done, I wandered back to my spot; digital clock in hand. I put it down and started flipping through a magazine about women and art.

Imposter Syndrome

In the end I spent over 2 and a half hours in that waiting room that day. And honestly, it was weird. I watched as couples came in, nervous, shy, awkward, anxious. Then women on their own, just as awkward or anxious as the couples, a look and a small smile flashed in my direction as they took a seat.

Every time I smiled back, I felt like an imposter.

Here were women and couples waiting to be seen by a doctor. All, presumably, waiting to find out what they could do to start a family, how they could successfully get pregnant. Here was I, alone, flicking through a magazine, surrounded by the smell of my GCSE Art class. In this place where people waited and learned if they could pursue fertility treatment, I was waiting to find out if I had an insulin problem.

I think that’s partly why it felt so weird. It didn’t help that on my first visit to this clinic a couple of weeks earlier, some language mix-up (as is inevitable when you’re speaking to doctors in a language you are still learning) had led to them asking me when my partner would be arriving to fill in the forms and have his first check with the doctor. Not an awkward scenario at all. No sir-ee.

This time I’d gone on my own for two reasons – firstly it was a Friday morning when most other people I knew would be at work. Secondly, I hadn’t thought I’d need “moral support”. I was only going to sit there and wait for the glucose drink to be processed by my body while they monitored it in the form of taking blood samples every once in a while. As I watched couples being called into consultation rooms I found myself envious of them. At least THEY had someone to go through this with them. At least THEY weren’t dealing with this on their own. And it dawned on me, in that moment, that I had never planned to deal with this on my own.

It’s Not Just About Periods

If you’ve read my previous post about polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you’ll have a little insight into what I’m talking about. It’s been suspected since I was 18 that I have PCOS. But in the 12 or so years since that vague diagnosis, I’ve not really explored treatment options or really been aware of the additional health issues that can arise connected to it.

Earlier this year (2017) it became time to start exploring treatment. It wasn’t really my decision to be honest – it came more from my gynaecologist discovering white marks in my ovaries that were probably cysts but could be tumours and referring me to the hospital for further tests. At the same time she referred me to what the Germans call a Kinderwunsch (fertility) clinic to determine if I really did have PCOS or if I had been misdiagnosed all those years ago. All of these steps lead to me admitting it was probably time to look into ways in which this condition could be managed and my body could be a bit more “normal”.

Honestly, I never planned to deal with this on my own. I knew one day I would need to get treatment of some kind but I’d been expecting it would be something that would happen once I actually found someone I wanted to be with for forever, someone I wanted to have kids with. The fact that all the research I keep doing into this condition suggests that medical science doesn’t really know how to treat it or what really causes it, didn’t exactly fill me with confidence to pursue treatment. That plus how, unlike some other women I’ve come into contact with the same condition, PCOS didn’t really seem to affect my life that negatively. So really, what was the point in getting treated? It’s not curable anyway.

Know What’s Normal

Well apparently one reason to start being serious about the treatment is the potential other conditions it appears it can lead to in later life. One of those being diabetes. Which brings us back to the reason I was sat in this Kinderwunsch clinic feeling jealous of all the women coming in with husbands, boyfriends, partners, and parting with my own blood in the first place.

The doctor, having now pretty much confirmed I did have PCOS, needed to determine if I had abnormal insulin levels too. Insulin resistance or abnormal insulin levels can be an indicator of PCOS (and obviously if this is the case it adds to the risk of developing diabetes later in life). The thing is, just because you have PCOS doesn’t mean you’ll have high insulin levels (mine are pretty normal by the way), and you can have insulin resistance and not have PCOS. It’s not a hard and fast rule, it’s just one of the things medical research has noted about the condition.

And this is the thing, so little seems to be known about how to treat PCOS and we women don’t often talk about things like this except to perhaps our closest girlfriends – and even then it’s sometimes heavily edited – this is the main reason I have chosen to write about what I’ve been through.

It’s a little scary because there are people out there who know me who are reading this, but in the end, I need you to know too. I need you to know so that you can share it with your friends. Girls, I need you to read this to know that it’s important to know what’s normal for your body – and if it’s vastly different to other people’s normals, to know why that is. I’m writing this because I need people like me to know they aren’t going through this alone. That it’s ok to sit in the fertility clinic and be jealous of the people there who most likely are in a similar position but have a partner by their side. It’s ok to not really know what to do or how to handle this. It’s ok to wonder why your body sucks at this pretty basic human function – being able to reproduce – and to wish you didn’t have to deal with it alone (even if you’re not even thinking about actually having kids yet!). It’s ok to wish there was someone here with you, holding your hand through it all. 

And, you know what? It’s ok to talk about it too. Because it’s through talking and sharing we discover we aren’t really alone. We discover there are others who know what it’s like, and there are friends who wish they could make it better. Through talking we find those who will always be there for us, friends who will listen. And by talking we help other girls, other women, who were told they’d “grow out” of it or that their irregular periods were “just a phase” or those who are tired of trying ANOTHER pill, to take charge and learn to love their bodies, quirky ovaries and all.

books

Books and books everywhere; but not a word was read

Books, Life, Reviews

This is probably not the post I should be writing. Nor is it the post I planned to write next. It is, however, the one that is currently forcing words out of my head, through my fingers and on to the screen, so let’s see where it goes.

I LOVE BOOKS!

61TWsgq-XlL._AC_UL320_SR230,320_Ok, that’s probably not a surprise. Especially if you know me well. I have been having a love affair with books since I was a small child. And it has been a long and great affair. So great, my parents used to use the threat of not being allowed to read before bed as a disciplinary tactic. One of my earliest memories of school is sitting on the Reading Carpet reading Stories for 8 Year Olds when I was barely six. It didn’t have many pictures but I didn’t need them. My imagination was in overdrive as I read about Ancient Greeks fighting over golden fleeces, Arabian thieves in a hot bit of bother, and Arthurian legends battling a green knight. I quite enjoyed that book and all its many stories.

My love of books has continued into my adult life – despite taking a battering during my university years when I’m not sure I ever managed to finish even one of my reading lists! I love books. LOVE THEM. I love the way they make me feel, the way they invite me to explore the worlds within them. I spend hours perusing bookstores looking for gems I might like to read. And inevitably, I buy them. And buy them. And buy them.

I HAVE A CONFESSION

I don’t read these books as fast as I buy them. So they arrive in my house, they sit on my bookshelves, or in piles on the floor or in my Kindle library, and they wait. They wait and they wait. Their pages wait for my eyes, hoping I might pick them up and see what’s inside.

As I ate my breakfast this morning, sat in front of my bookshelves, I realised just how many of the books hanging out on those shelves I’ve half read or never even opened. I counted nine. NINE. Nine books I haven’t explored. That’s not including the ones that I know I’ve started and forgotten about or the ones lying quietly on my Kindle. Yet I still go and buy more. Just last week I was eyeing up three new ones in a local bookstore. I think maybe I have a problem.

It was that revelation that inspired this post. Not that I may have a problem with buying books, but that I have so many I haven’t read. Granted at least half of the nine books I haven’t read on my bookshelf were gifts, but still, most of those were gifts I asked for!

With these many never-opened tomes in mind, I decided I’m  going to set myself a new reading challenge. Now, every year for the last six or seven, I have set myself a reading goal using GoodReads Reading Challenge function. I never quite make it, but I do at least read something. Since 2012, my goal has been 20 books. This year I dropped it down to 15 in the hope I might actually manage to reach 2017’s goal! So as part of those 15 books, I’m going to attempt to read at least four of these never-opened paperbacks (they are nearly all paperbacks) sitting on my shelf. What’s more, I’m going to list them (all nine) here and give each one I do manage to read a little review.

THE UNREAD NINE

US – David Nicholls

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

Soul Music – Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown –  Terry Pratchett (the last Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, which I have put off reading because I don’t want the stories to end. I have a silly idea that involves reading all the Discworld novels in order to then finish with this one, so it probably will remain unread for a while)

Prisoners of Hope – Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R King

Ok, dear readers, help me, which one should I read next? (I will start it after I’ve finished the book I’m currently reading – Perfect by Rachel Joyce in case you were wondering). Also, if you want to join with me on reading any of the books that have been gathering dust on your shelves, or even fancy picking up one of these – feel free!

Lastly, before I sign off, it might amuse you to know that as I finished this post I received an email with the subject line Amazon.co.uk recommends “After You Left”…, which is basically an email full of recommended books and may as well have had the subject line AMAZON SAYS BUY MORE BOOKS!

Stop Saying We Need To Address The Gender Imbalance

Career, future, Life, politics

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen posts like this one on HuffPost and J Law’s rant on Lenny talking about women in our society, whether we’re represented at the top and what we’re being paid compared to our male colleagues.

Everyone’s clamouring that we’re not doing enough and there should be more women in high/authoritive positions, and I don’t disagree, I really don’t, there should be more women in top roles. However, I feel like half the reason that it “hasn’t happened yet”, as so many people bemoan, is because this only started being a real REAL focus in the last 5 -10 years. Probably closer to 5. It hasn’t happened yet because it takes TIME TO WORK to those positions. Merkel is 60 or so right? Most leading politicians are in their 40s or 50s, that means they were born in the 1960s or 1970s when the roles and views of women were starting to change but only in certain circles. These people were born into a world with a very different mindset about the role of women compared to the mindset of the world today on this same issue.

We live in an age where people expect to get things instantly, and we don’t see why we can’t have gender equality instantly. But changing mindsets isn’t an instantaneous thing. Changing mindsets is a long process. It takes decades. Centuries even. How many years did women fight for the right to vote in the way we so often take for granted now? It wasn’t an overnight movement. It took years of protesting and petitioning. It took people, mostly women, making huge, bold moves in the hope something might change this time. Votes for women wasn’t something that was a success within a few years.

To take the UK as an example, modern campaigning for women’s right to vote started in the 19th century. The movement that would become the Suffragettes was born in 1903 but it took 15 years and a World War before Britain let women have the vote. And that was on the condition they owned property and were over 30. It was another 10 years after that before British women could enjoy the same voting rights as British men. Some countries, like Finland, were decades ahead. Others took much longer to adopt gender equal voting rights.

Will It Ever Happen?

As a generation who expects to get things straight away, if something doesn’t happen in the next five minutes we wonder if it could ever happen. We forget that sometimes things don’t happen in the blink of an eye but more in the gestation of an embryo. If something doesn’t happen now, our generation questions whether it’s going to happen at all. This morning’s newspaper is the lunchtime chip paper before it makes it out of the newsstand. Only, no one eats chips in paper anymore. A better analogy would be this morning’s newspaper is lining the cat litter tray by noon.

So yes, we need more high profile powerful women. Women like Hiliary Clinton and Angela Merkel. Women like Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence who call companies out on the gender pay gap. But remember 20something and 30something feminist supporters (women AND men) – we have grown up listening to people telling girls we can be whoever we want. We can be a president, we can be a CEO, we can earn the same wage as our male counterparts. But yet, as Always so wonderfully pointed out last year in their ad campaign, “like a girl” is a phrase we’ve all grown up with being used as an insult too.

I don’t want to gain a “top position” in a company tomorrow because I am a woman. I want to gain that top position because I worked my way there. Sure, maybe I still have to work harder and longer to get there than my male counterparts. Sure, maybe I still have to face more prejudices on the way there. But I don’t have to work as long or as hard or face as many of the challenges as a woman in my position would have done 40 years ago. That’s progress.

The Gender Imbalance

Stop saying we need to start addressing the gender imbalance. We don’t need to start addressing the gender imbalance because we already ARE addressing the gender imbalance. Things like this take time for it to show out at the very top. It’s not ideal, but that how things go. When my generation are sat there, drawing our pensions, and the gender imbalance/gender pay gap is still like today’s, THEN we have a problem. But I hope and believe, 30 years from now, the girls born today will be confident in their roles and goals and be on the kind of equal standing with their male colleagues that is our dream ideal.

Sure, make a point. Photoshop the men out of photos of political leaders, business leaders and other male dominated professions but stop whining that we’re not doing enough, fast enough. What we’re not doing enough, fast enough right now is making sure people have basic provisions to live. That people in war torn countries can seek refuge in other nations.

And to get back to Feminism or whatever we call this, we’re not doing enough to change attitudes in places where women are still second class citizens. There are countries in the world where women don’t have the same rights to life and freedom as you and I. Where they can’t drive a car, or wear what they like, or choose their husbands or enjoy the same access to education. It’s all very well us Western Europeans or Americans or Australians crying that there aren’t enough women at the top. What about the places where there aren’t enough women at the middle, or even at the bottom? How about we also shout about that too? How about we stand together to raise future generations ACROSS THE GLOBE who value women AND men and embrace the different things men and women can bring to the table precisely because they have different genders?

We don’t need to address the gender imbalance. Rather we need to keep working to change gender mindsets.

Sunset over Hamburg docklands

20ish Things I Tried To Do Before I Was 30

Life, Music

Well, that’s it, I’m officially 30, and have been for almost a week. In fact it started at quite a pace with an early morning flight for work and a client presentation.

But you don’t care about that. Hopefully if you’re reading this it means you’re kind of interested in whether I managed to succeed at any more of those challenges. So here goes:

1. Get that tattoo! 
I don’t have the tattoo yet, but the wheels are in motion to get it. 

2. See your favourite actor in one of the major plays of the season in London.
Done 😀 and I plan to post a little review soon.

3. On a night out, if you spot a hot guy boldly buy him a drink. 
No hot guys spotted. Although there were arguably not that many nights out to spot any hot guys. 

4. Help the homeless
TICK

5. Prepare your lunch at home for a full week
5 days worth of lunch taken in to work 😀 Go me!

6. Write that first chapter...
I half did this… it needs a bit more work but if you’re interested/lucky I might share this opener sometime soon.

7. Apply for a job that sounds like a real challenge
TICK

8. Make out with a Bavarian.
Well, I ruled out making out with a Bavarian but I did attempt to have a conversation in German with the taxi driver who took me from Munich airport to my client meeting. Seeing as I’d been awake since 4am, who knows whether what I actually said made any sense, but he at least humoured me for the 30 minutes he was a captive audience.

9. Adopt a kitty.
I got to pet 6 beautiful kittens and a slightly anxious mummy cat while visiting friends of mine in London.

10. Write a fan letter to One Direction.
Done. Read it here: http://wp.me/p2oEtS-2O

11. Fund something ridiculous but cool on Kickstarter.
Ok, so I have to admit that technically I completely forgot about this one. BUT, I did preorder a friend’s book he’s planning to self publish so that kind of counts right?

12. Find a “Victorian Female Hobby” ™ and reclaim it. Cross stitching feminist slogans is a good start!
Nope, failed at this one spectacularly.

13. Get drunk without getting a hangover. Believe me, it’s going to be the last time.
I don’t ever drink enough to really claim that I did this to be honest. 

14. Sleep underneath the stars.
I’m claiming dancing under the stars and then sleeping between 5.30am and 10am for this one.

15. Write a poem.
I started to write one, inspired by the current discussion about Syrian  refugees. I don’t think it’s ready for public consumption yet but maybe I’ll share what I did with you some time.

16. Kiss a stranger without any foreplay.
Nope. Didn’t manage this one either.

17. Stagediving. Go for it.
Or this one :/ Oops.

18. Get up early and watch a sunrise somewhere beautiful
I got up early and saw the sunrise on my journey to the airport on my 30th birthday. Not really somewhere beautiful but still pretty amazing.

19. Go to the top of a mountain and sit there contemplating the world.
Again, didn’t make it up a mountain but contemplated the world while several thousand feet in the air travelling across Europe. Can we say that counts??

20. Go to a music festival
TICK – MS Dockville in Hamburg

21. Watch a meteor shower
TICK – Watched the Perseid from my balcony

22. See Wicked in the West End
TICK – this was a last minute whim added to my list when deciding what I could do with the rest of my stay in London to see Hamlet

Ten Days On: 29 Things To Do Before I’m 30

Life

Wow, so it’s just over a week since I had this crazy idea to try and find 29 things I could cram into the final month of my 20s. And what a busy week it’s been! Unfortunately not on completing challenges, but with deadlines for my day job (I really need to work on my work-life balance). Anyway I thought it was about time I should create some kind of “progress report”, not least because I wasn’t actually sure how long my list was after some of you so kindly contributed ideas.

First up are three suggestions from the wonderful filleboheme

1. Get that tattoo! (Or, considering timings and waiting lists, I think ‘book that tattoo appointment’ also counts in this case.) 
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
This is definitely something I am going to try my hardest to do. I haven’t booked an appointment yet, but I have finally started to try and find a tattooist that will do the sort of thing I’m looking for.

2. See your favourite actor in one of the major plays of the season in London. (Ok that one’s cheating a bit but some of these should be easy, right? 😉 )
STATUS: COUNTDOWN TO THIS IMMINENT EVENT HAS COMMENCED 😉

3. On a night out, if you spot a hot guy boldly buy him a drink. (Because 30 is the age of fearless.)
STATUS: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
All I need to do is find time to go on a night out and then find a hot guy… Easy peasy….!

The next few suggestions came from The guy from the other floor at work

4. Help the homeless
STATUS: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
I’m interpreting this as doing something to help someone homeless – eg buying them a coffee, getting them something to eat, giving them an umbrella when it’s raining.

5. Prepare your lunch at home for a full weekHomemade lunch (because we all know how delicious the food at work is)
STATUS: IN PROGRESS.
I realised a full week, as in going from a Monday to a Friday, was going to be quite a challenge as I’m taking a few days off here and there in the next few weeks, leaving me with only one full week. So I changed this challenge to preparing my lunch at home for at least five separate working days between now and turning 30. And I actually managed to take food to work twice last week. I took a photo of one of the meals to prove it! Now, does taking in leftover pizza from the weekend count as “preparing your lunch at home”?

6. Write that first chapter you’ve been thinking about. It doesn’t necessarily need to make a full book but just start with it..
STATUS: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
A couple of other people suggested this to me when I mentioned my post idea. Plus, I had actually thought about some sort of challenge like this so it should definitely be on the list! I haven’t done anything about it yet though…

7. Apply for a job that sounds like a real challenge
STATUS: WELL WHY NOT?

Then came suggestions from Feylamia

8. Make out with a Bavarian. (’cause some of these should be easy. *giggles and runs*)
STATUS: UHMMMMMMM
This one made me laugh out loud when I read it 😀 If you know me, you’ll know that this is quite opposite to my personal principles and I’m not going to actively go out of my way to seek this one out and do it. However, making friends with a random Bavarian could be an interesting challenge. Especially if I try and only use German to do it…!

9. Adopt a kitty.
STATUS: IF ONLY I COULD
I really love the sound of this one, however I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed pets in my apartment so I think I am going to have to find a cat I can be a surrogate owner/auntie to. (And my friend’s cat just had six adorable kittens so I guess I can be an auntie to them?) Or alternatively I’ll befriend any lonely lost cats I stumble across in Frankfurt.

10. Write a fan letter to One Direction.
STATUS: HAHAHAHAHA
I’m still laughing about this one but think it is a fabulous idea. I should write it as a really serious fan letter, right? Guess I better learn more names that Harry and Zayn too…!

11. Fund something ridiculous but cool on Kickstarter.
STATUS: MUST REMEMBER TO CHECK OUT THE LATEST COOL KICKSTARTERS
This is a brilliant idea! I am really up for doing this, even if it’s only giving 10€ to some ridiculous hipster project.

12. Find a “Victorian Female Hobby” ™ and reclaim it. Cross stitching feminist slogans is a good start!
STATUS: INTERESTING
I am going to have to Google this and see what there is!

Now on to suggestions from Sebastian

13. Get drunk without getting a hangover. Believe me, it’s going to be the last time.
STATUS: I’VE BEEN DREADING THE DAY A SINGLE GLASS OF WINE GIVES ME A HANGOVER
But actually, probably because I don’t tend to get drunk (I haven’t for years), I also tend to avoid horrible hangovers after drinking. Go me!

14. Sleep underneath the stars.
STATUS: HECK YES!
Does the fact I’m going to a music festival in the next few days and will be sleeping in a tent count?

15. Write a poem. When you’re over 30 and grown up, maybe people think you’re strange if you still write poems.
STATUS: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
Best get some pen to paper or fingers to keyboard or something and start writing!

16. Kiss a stranger without any foreplay.
STATUS: SEE BAVARIAN CHALLENGE ABOVE
But you know, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to kiss a stranger on the cheek by surprise! 😉

17. Stagediving. Go for it.
STATUS: WHY NOT?
I mean, it could be amusing right? Like I said earlier, off to a music festival soon so I’ll give it a try (and try not to get kicked out of the festival at the same time!)

And finally I received these two suggestions on Twitter from @yedennek

18. Get up early and watch a sunrise somewhere beautiful
STATUS: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED
Although I haven’t yet figured out where that somewhere beautiful should be…

19. Go to the top of a mountain and sit there contemplating the world.
STATUS: DOES A VERY BIG HILL COUNT?
If so, then I will be attempting to find time to go for a walk in the Frankfurt Taunus…

So that all makes a list of 19 things so far. I guess I better get thinking on another 10 or so, seeing as I know I won’t tick off a couple of the ones listed here. And I’m still open to suggestions from you, dear reader/cajoled friend, so feel free to leave them in a comment below!

Until next time…