2017 Book Challenge

This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to read more books, so my Dad and I have decided to do this reading challenge together to get some new reading inspiration!

The list itself is fun, and we’ve both put together a list of books we plan to read in 2017. I’m going to post here all the books I have read (which I’ll update as I go along) with a short review of each book.

My first stop was a trip to Waterstones to buy some new books, as frankly, any New Year’s Resolution that involves shopping is a great idea! Continue reading

A day at the zoo

Last weekend my sister and her family came to stay, and we went to check out the Cotswold Wildlife Park – our nearby zoo, and it was BRILLIANT!

I love zoos, and getting to see lots of amazing animals, although I increasingly worry about the cruelty of animals being trapped in small cages and things. However this zoo was FANTASTIC! Tons of amazing animals and the cages and paddocks were cleverly designed so it seemed like they weren’t in cages at all.

Here we are, pretty excited about the zoo in the morning…

And still pretty excited when we were in the car on our way!

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As part of my book challenge this year, the first book I happened to read was Rebecca, and in it I discovered a quote that I really love!

Then while staying at my mum’s recently I got a chance to do some block-printing, and so I printed it out, letter by letter.

The actual print was huge, but I’m planning to print out a nice photo of it and frame it for my casa somewhere.

I (heart) Pottery

I have finally achieved something I have been trying to do for years. Ever since I moved to Oxford I have been keen to find a local pottery class I could take, as I adored pottery as a child, and have been keen to take it up again ever since. All my years living overseas made that hard to do, and even when I was based in Oxford it was hard to find a class I could easily access on a weeknight, without a car etc. However I finally found one and I’m LOVING it!

Here are my first attempts at making some pinch pots and finger pots – very crap, but useful for practicing with glazes and slips etc.

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Life admin… and the Year of Maya

Well it’s been a busy few months, work continues in a fairly predictable way, still interesting and enjoyable, and somewhat stressful at times, but the other elements of my life have been interesting and complex as well. Juggling my life admin and getting the work-life balance right is something I’ve been very conscious of this year, and something that seems to get harder as I go along.

I’ve noticed a few things lately that have made me stop and reflect on my general work-life balance. (Spoiler alert – this is a fairly long post, so you might want to get a cup of tea and settle in).

Firstly, my job has become busier and busier, meaning I’m working longer hours than ever before, and the stress levels that go along with that are sometimes a little tough. It occurs to me that for most of my twenties, I was drifting about in different lower-level jobs overseas, and while there was sometimes stress, I wasn’t really in what you might call a career. And once I decided on my career, it took me several years to break into it, doing my masters, all those months unemployed, and finally getting a foot in the door, in a relatively low-level job where I was often bored or under-used, and I had to put in the time to slowly work my way up the ladder.

Now that I find myself in my mid-thirties, and finally doing really well in my chosen career, and finally in a senior enough position that I have autonomy and some authority to do things on my own, and I’m managing multiple projects, the stress and pressure has increased along with the increased levels of responsibility I always craved. I wonder if it’s an inevitable step, and one that others have trodden before, and how much of that comes with being in my mid-thirties? Does everyone, in roughly their mid-thirties, hit their career stride and find increased stress and pressure as a matter of course? Or does it happen to others earlier or later in life (I’m conscious that I started my chosen career later in life than some do). Continue reading

More crafty things

Here’s another couple of crafty projects I’m pretty pleased with – my new gin lamp and my kimono!

Here’a the kimono I made all by myself on a whim…

I don’t have any good pics of the finished thing, but here’s one of me wearing it at Christmas while my niece stuffed my belt with wooden spoons….

It’s super comfy, made of thin stretchy t-shirt type fabric, and I love it!

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Cheese, Wine, and some delicious new recipes

This year a few things have happened to me in relation to food, resulting in some new experiments in the kitchen.

The first thing is that my palate appears to have suddenly matured, and I discovered that after 35 years of hating blue cheese, suddenly my tastebuds think it’s pretty much the best thing ever. Weird, but also delicious.

Secondly, my appreciation for red wine has suddenly soared, leaving me keen to try and taste lots of new and different red wines, in order to learn what I like (previously my only knowledge on the subject was that I liked Rioja, and all other red wines were a bit “meh”, But this is no longer the case! I also now have a fabulous book on wines which is helping me to learn and navigate the differences.

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Highlights from the last few weeks

Well, as I know a few of my faithful blog readers are not on facebook, here are some of the highlights of my life, in the form of my facebook posts, for the last couple of months, purely for your amusement.

17th November 2016

So, while I’ve been in Kenya, my boiler broke down, which was really complicated to get fixed remotely from here, and although it is finally fixed now, it is going to cost me a fairly big chunk of change.
This morning my lodger informs me that the washing machine is leaking and has flooded the kitchen. No idea yet if it’s fixable or requires a whole new washing machine.
Apparently everything is broken.
I blame Trump.

21st November 2016

For all my humanitarian peeps, and any others who are interested, here is a really interesting piece on the future of USAID under a Trump administration.

“Women and girls may have the most to lose. From the World Bank to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the SDGs to the new UN Secretary General, the economists, technologists, health advocates, educators, humanitarians, rights activists, and data junkies are all aligned and making the argument that investment in women and girls might be the best dollar spent…. Vice-President Elect Mike Pence, a radical social conservative, may be influential in rolling back US policy and investments in support of women and girls.”

22nd November 2016

A memory that popped up from 2 years ago:

“Aah, lush evening at the spa with my mum and my sister. I’m proud to be from the kind of family that can start a water fight in the sauna of tranquility… 😀” Continue reading

All the places I’ve been

In a recent conversation with my dad, I realised that in his 70+ years, he has travelled to a huge number of countries, (34 and counting!) so I thought it was worth listing all of mine out too to see how we compare!

My dad also pointed out that the majority of his travelling happened in his 20’s and 30’s, as like most people, once you settle down and have kids you tend to travel less often, so here is our combined list:  Continue reading