Category Archives: 25 new things

A new set of challenges

Hello from a very soggy Sunday morning in Leeds. We are in the middle of “Storm Brian,” which is pretty full on. I’ve been awake since 5am (great Sunday lie in) after waking up from a horrible zombie nightmare. Maybe I need to stop watching The Walking Dead right before  we go to sleep…

Parker is delighted that I’m up so early and has pushed my laptop off me and has started giving me a slightly scratchy massage.


When I first started my blog in 2015, I gave myself something fun to do, and also to write about by setting myself 25 challenges to complete before I was 25. I didn’t really complete them all, but it was good fun. You can click the links to read about when I tried lobster, caviar, and meditated for ten days.

Now I’m picking up my blog again, I’ve decided to give myself a new set of challenges. (With no more fishy business – now I’m a veggie)

Although I’ve just turned 27, I’m sticking with 25 challenges (seems like a more manageable number haha)

Here we go, here are my challenges for the year!

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1- Visit India

2 – Hike one of the three Yorkshire Peaks

3 – Read “Shantaram”

4 – See live comedy

5 – Watch “Gone With The Wind”


6 – Get a tarot card reading

7 –  Take a language class

8 – Donate 200 things to charity

9 – Spend no money for one week

10 – Go to a pilates class

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11 – Learn to salsa dance

12 – Play piccolo in an orchestra

13 – Learn to sew and make something wearable

14 – Host a dinner party for my friends

15 – Go plastic free for a week

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16 – Try making my own cosmetics

17 – Go Christmas shopping in York

18- Go to Ireland

19- Go to a concert of music from another culture

20- Go vegan for a week


21- Read sixty books in a year

22- Volunteer to help out with a charitable cause

23- Start drawing again

24- Have a car-free week

25- Do yoga every day for thirty days

So there we have it! I’m excited to get going. How nice to have a list of stuff to fall back on when I’m bored.

I’ll keep you posted with how I get on.

P.S. apologies for the photo overload! These are all photos I took on our visit to Harewood House yesterday where I had my mind blown by the dahlias. I am no longer using instagram, so you can expect a lot of photos making there way on here.




“Another day, another dollar.”

Well hello there,

You find us entering our eighth and final week of fruit thinning. There’s a lot of people muttering “another day, another dollar” around here. Catchy.  I’m just amazed that we’ve A) come this far and I haven’t yet fallen off the ladder and died (there’s still time…) B) I haven’t lost my temper and been sacked.

Nothing new to report over here. On a sunny day last week, our Kiwi friend Rochelle took us to the river, and we took some “flagoons” (takeaway beer) with us, so that was a nice change of scenery. We discussed how the supervisors are always yelling “check your tree before you leave!!” And how this might be, in fact some kind of philosophical life motto. Check your tree before you leave. Check your tree before you leave… Mind blowing!

We cycled to the supermarket and discovered that Whitakers chocolate was on offer!


I also found this banana that was so big that I couldn’t leave it there.


(I’ve added my passport for scale.) We later discovered that it was a plantain, not a banana. A bit disappointed, but eating plantain was one of my new tasks to try before my birthday, so it’s good to tick one off!!

I’m so delighted that next time I post on here we won’t be in Hastings!!!!!!!!!! Yes!!! It’s been a long week. So long, that Tom invented the “biscuit salad” in order to get us through.


We’ve bought a laptop, so we should be able to start posting some decent photos for your to see soon. It also means that tom has been able to do some sound stuff, and he’s made a post of all the music we heard in Central Park! Takes me right back.

The majority of our evenings this weekhave been taken up with a Star Wars marathon. I have not watched a single of the six films all the way through without falling asleep. So tired. But very excited for the new film, which we plan to see in Wellington next week!


So yes, as I said, not much to report, so I’ve decided to compile a list of things I’ve learnt over eight weeks of fruit thinning:

1) I can’t eat apples anymore.

2) The apples we are thinning are exported around the world, and sold in the UK in…. Wait for it…. HARRODS. Harrods daaaaarling! Only the best apples for us, oh yeah!


4) If there is a god, he/she is responsible for creating audiobooks, the Women’s Hour and Serial podcast, Buffs (for holding your speaker and phone to your neck whilst you work, like a poor man’s hands free device) The Beatles, Newton Faulkner, and rubber palmed gloves. Speaking of audiobooks, I have never felt more British than when a weird sex scene happens on the book I’m listening to, and I have to cough loudly and shuffle around on my ladder so my colleagues won’t hear! Ha!

5) The cure for insomnia is a stress-free, physically tiring job.

6) Yoga is the answer to sore backs.

7) Wear Sunscreen. (Thanks Baz Lurmann.)

8) You will develop a comedy tan involving white hands and feet, which is really useful if you want to be some kind of weird mime artist in a bikini.

9) Pesticides are revolting, and make you sneeze constantly. And if you’re pregnant, you can’t work in the orchards – so it must be pretty harmful…. Which makes me even more glad to be leaving soon!

10) I can complain and whinge as much as I want, but in the end, I’m a lucky lucky person to be able to travel, and leave the job when I want. There’s plenty of people working here who have a family to support.

11) Shit jobs give you a drinking/chocolate consumption problem.

As a final note, here is a selfie that I accidentally took on my phone. I think it’s hilarious!!!!! HA


When people discover that we’ve been working here for seven weeks, they are really surprised that we’ve survived this long. I like to respond with “yeah I used to look like Kate Moss before we started working here.”

Now I’m like this version of Mossy:






New things: 9, 10 and 11

Well hello. It’s been a while hasn’t it. We’re leaving in less than two weeks. Can you believe it? In less than two weeks I’ll be on my way to New York via one way ticket. Yikes!

Recently I’ve been tying up loose ends with work,  visiting friends and family, and doing various essentials before we leave. Oh. And I got engaged. WHAT?!

I’ve also ticked a few things off my list of 25 things to do before I turn 25.

Number 9:  Try lobster

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As a massive lover of prawns, I had no doubt that I’d love lobster. I did, it was bloody delicious. Not so keen on smashing it open with tools that look like they belong in the Thackray Medical Museum however. I also wouldn’t eat it again because I don’t agree with boiling something alive for the sake of my tastebuds. Sorry to go all animal rights on you there -I’m currently teetering on the edge of vegetarianism!

Number 10: See my friends get married. 

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Wow, we had such a lovely weekend seeing this pair tie the knot in Shropshire! We met Chris and Rhiannon at music college and they’ve been such good friends to us, so it was truly lovely to be a part of their big day. Rhiannon looked absolutely stunning and so so happy. Congratulations you two!

Number 11: Finish my TEFL qualification

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Finally! This feels like a massive achievement as it’s something I’ve been slogging away at since January. I’d love to teach whilst we’re away but I don’t think we will be in one place for long enough for me to do it. Sometime in the future though hey? Did you know that there are nine different types of pronoun? Neither did I.

Here are the other things I said I’d do before I turn 25 but probably won’t because of who I am as a person:

  • Read Jane Eyre (got the audiobook though didn’t I 😉 )
  • Eat plantain (maybe possible still?)
  • Watch The Lives of Others (no netflix now so…)
  • Reach my goal weight (unless I start rounding it up?)
  • Go carless for a week (actually, I will! Leaving lovely Gerald in Kendal today, so I’ll be carless by default)
  • Hike the three Yorkshire peaks. HA
  • Do some drawing (easy!)
  • Volunteer at a charity shop
  • Use my DSLR manually (I can do this whilst we’re travelling)
  • See live comedy
  • Clear out the house (I’ve been reading the life changing magic of tidying and I feel like I’m getting somewhere.)
  • Go on my first long haul flight. (yup)
  • Get drunk on the beach in Fiji to celebrate turning 25. (Not long now!)


Things I’ll be doing before we go:

  • Throwing a big house party.
  • Packing my rucksack. Jumping up and down on rucksack. Crying. Unpack rucksack. Repeat the above.
  • Clearing the house.
  • Crying into the fur of my cats.





New things 8) meditate each morning for ten days

Why hello there. It’s been a while hasn’t it? It’s been a bonkers time of year here – end of the school term, so work has been mega busy, ergo little time for poor old bloggy blogs. Anyway. Amongst the madness, I’ve been travel planning: got my rucksack sorted and I’ve booked my travel jabs for Friday. Eek!

In other news, I’ve tackled a new item off my list of twenty five new things before I turn twenty five. Meditation.

Those of you who know me well will know that I am one of life’s stress heads. If I’m not worrying about something, I feel worried. So I decided meditation was something I wanted to try. I’ve heard it calms your mind and stops it going into overdrive – perfect. So I downloaded the free Headspace app and began meditating every morning before I got out of bed.


Headspace has a free ten day guided meditation system.

Something that surprised me: It felt different every day. Some days I was entirely focused, and felt irritated when reminded to “bring the mind back if it has wandered.” Other days when this was mentioned I realised I was in a complete daydream.

Also, I didn’t feel the benefit of meditation until I stopped. The day after the ten day course was complete I felt really frazzled and stressed. It took me a while to realise that it was because I was no longer meditating.

Something that made me laugh: Quite often I’d forget to go to the toilet before beginning the session. Don’t do that. Opening my eyes to find Tom’s face in mine was another highlight.

What did I learn?: It’s not as hard as it seems. It’s also more beneficial than it seems, and less silly. I’m going to keep going 🙂

All together now: OMMMMMM


New things 7) Try caviar

Before I turn 25 I’ve given myself 25 challenges.

One was to try something I’ve always wanted to try: caviar.

So off to Waitrose (of course) I popped, and got all the proper ingredients.


(mini pancakes)



(Lumpfish caviar. I’d never heard of lumpfish before, but it was a damn sight cheaper than salmon caviar)

DSC_0319(I read online that soured cream is what should be served with caviar.)

Drrrrumroll pleaaaaase


I didn’t like it.

What did I learn?

  • Fewer things will make you feel more like a pretentious idiot than buying caviar in Waitrose darling.
  • You shouldn’t let stainless steel touch caviar, i.e. use a wooden or ceramic spoon. (apparently it ruins the taste.)
  • One should keep one’s caviar chilled. It should be served on ice during a dinner party situation.
  • Caviar tastes like fishy fish. Salty and with a small explosion in the mouth. Also it’s quite unsettling when you find a little egg nestling amongst your teeth afterwards. Shudder.
  • It allows you to take incredibly poncy photos like the one below.



(La dee dah! Love the blue colour of the eggs though, amazing!)

Did I enjoy eating caviar?


Would I try it again?


My other food challenges before I turn 25 are lobster and plantain. I have the feeling I might enjoy those more.



New thing 6) Walk 10,000 steps everyday for a week.

Before I turn 25, I’m trying to do 25 new things. This is partly to get my out of my comfort zone, partly to stop me being bored waiting for September, and mainly so I have something to write about on here. Some of my new things are interesting, some are incredibly mundane. Unfortunately this weeks challenge falls into the latter category. You can read my about my past challenges here.

Health care professionals state that we should all walk 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy and fit and prevent weight gain. As a music teacher, I don’t do a lot of walking day to day. I literally get in the car, drive to a school/ student’s house, teach then drive back home. I run 5k twice a week. (You can read about my running antics here.)

So, I popped my pedometer on and walk I did.



Things that surprised me: 

  • My pedometer doesn’t work very well. It told me my 5k run was 4.5km and got stuck on around 8,000 steps whilst I was walking on the spot in front of the TV.
  • 10,000 steps is a LOT. It’s essentially an hour of walking each day.
  • It’s hard to fit that amount of walking in during a working day. I had to work round it by walking on my lunch breaks and walking up and down the stairs in the house, and on the spot in front of Netflix in the evenings.
  • I actually felt happier and less stressed for walking throughout the week.

Things that made me laugh:

  • The little dancing celebratory man on the pedometer who pops up when you hit 10,000 steps.
  • Walking around Headingley on one lunch break thinking “fantastic! Clever old me for getting my steps up” and then realising I’d forgotten to put the pedometer on that morning.
  • Demanding that Tom came for a walk one evening as I hadn’t made up my steps and then walking to the pub thus cancelling all health benefits.

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(Looking gimpy whilst stomping round and round my local park during a downpour)

Moving forwards:

I’d like to add more walking to my daily routine. I love how it boosted my mood and reduced my stress levels. I also slept better throughout the week. However I won’t be wearing the pedometer anymore – it made me feel a bit pressured. Also, I need to find some new walking routes!




New thing 5) Take a week off social media

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a complete social media addict. Current addictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Obsessively checking my email.


As part of my 25 new things before I turn 25, I decided to give up social media for a week.

I began by deleting all the offending apps off my phone and iPad. I also cleared out my email inbox which had over 3,000 unread emails. That little red notification sign was making me feel stressed and I felt much better in having a clear out and unsubscribing from the ridiculous amount of spam I received daily.

Something that surprised me: I felt a lot calmer in my week away from Facebook. Scrolling through Facebook feels like an information overload. In getting rid of it, I actually had a clearer mind and more time to think.

Something gross: When I sat on the loo I found myself reaching for my phone to check Facebook, Tumblr, etc. etc. Yuck! That habit has now been culled. Next time I post a Facebook update I’ll always wonder who is reading it whilst sat on the pooper.!

Spare time: I felt like I had a lot more spare time throughout the week. I channelled this into reading more (surprise surprise) and also working on this blog.

How it changed my concentration: When watching Netflix in the evenings with Tom, I realised I no longer feel so confused and have to ask what’s going on. My concentration had improved because I was no longer constantly checking notifications. I also had better conversations and listened more intently when I wasn’t glued to my phone screen throughout the week.

Moving forward: After the week was up, I reinstalled Facebook on my iPad. I felt glad to be back, but immediately annoyed by the time I wasted on there. I no longer have the urge to transcribe my daily life into status updates. I’ll be keeping my phone social media free!


New thing 4) go to a yoga class

As part of my 25 new things before I turn 25, I attended a beginner’s yoga class yesterday.

I payed my fee online (12 quid for ninety minutes) and shuffled up the road to Kula Yoga in Chapel Allerton after I’d finished my morning teaching work.

There were twelve attendees in the class, plus our lovely teacher, Claire, who was really helpful.

We began with some breathing and warming up exercises and then went into a few basic postures.


Something that surprised me: Some of the moves were really hard. The above is ‘downward facing dog’ which made my arms and legs shake with the effort. I woke up the following day with achey muscles in my shoulders and legs.



Something that made me laugh: At the end we lay on our mats, covered with a blanket with a bean bag over our eyes. We listened to calming music whilst we received a shoulder massage. This was one of those situations where I know it would be really inappropriate to laugh, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Miranda:

Would I do it again? I’m eager to start doing some sun salutations in the morning to wake up my body. But in terms of general exercise, I’m going to stick with my running. There was a bit too much lying about on the floor for my liking!


New thing 3) Learn about flight Co2 emissions

Before the age of eighteen, I had only flown once. Since then I’ve flown each summer for a holiday.

In September we’ve booked our first leg of flights for our round the world trip:

Manchester-Rekyjavik-New York

New York – Los Angeles

Los Angeles-Honolulu (Hawaii)

Honolulu- Nadi (Fiji)

Nadi-Auckland (New Zealand)

That’s five flights. And that’s only the first half of our trip. After New Zealand we’ll most likely fly to South East Asia via Australia.

The above makes me feel understandably excited, but as a resident of the planet, I’m horrified by the carbon emissions.

According to UN statistics:

“CO2 emissions generated directly from the tourism sector account today for 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions but this may be higher (up to 14 per cent) if measured as radiative forcing, i.e. the warming caused by CO2 as well as other greenhouse gases. To understand the magnitude of these numbers it should be noted that if we compare tourism with the emissions of countries, tourism would be the 5th bigger polluter worldwide.”

We need to be conscious of our our carbon footprint whilst we are away…

This is what we will do:

1) Use local or public transport wherever possible. We will be biking and walking as much as we can whilst we are away. We’ll avoid hiring cars where public transport is possible.

2) Invest in carbon offsetting. There are many projects that counterbalance the emissions from flights, such as tree planting.

3) Travel light. We will take one rucksack each that we can ourselves carry.


New thing 2) Run 10km

In September I noticed I was out of breath when I got to the top of our stairs in our house. Enter running shoes.



I ran and I ran. I ran until I could do 5km without stopping. Then I did 5km twice a week.

I decided to challenge myself to doing 25 new things before my 25th birthday, and a 10km run was one of them.

Bank holiday Monday, I plug myself into Strava. I ran and ran. I had a clicky hip and a blister on the bottom of my toe. I got lost. I ran for an hour and twenty minutes and I accidentally ran 16km. (whoops!) Direction is not my strongest sense!

Luckily, Tom is so good at navigation that I call him Tomtom. He’ll be in charge of map reading next year!