If you rewind your minds all the way back to a whole two days ago, you may remember that it was my birthday. I turned 24 so now I’m basically Owl from Winnie the Pooh, full of wisdom like that old man who trained Jaden Smith on the Karate Kid, as evidenced by my super wise 24 life lessons. If I tell you to put your coat on the floor, you better put your coat on the damn floor! I’m kidding. And in the spirit of honesty and being an open page, which is what I try to always be on this ‘ere blog, I’ve never actually watched the Karate Kid the whole way through but I have seen that same scene about 6 times. I think I must always walk into the room at the exact same moment of the movie. That or my sister just really likes that scene and plays it on repeat.
Anyway, now that I’m 24 (which actually feels super old – what am I even doing with my life?!) and a survivor of an evil monkey attack, I’m more aware than ever of just how short life can be. I’ve never been one to put off doing what I want to do, which is clearly evident by the number of long holidays I’ve taken alone because no one will come with me *cry*, but this year I want to make a conscious effort to do a bunch of things that I really really really want to do/achieve. And that conscious effort starts with this list, which I’ve made and published purely to hold myself accountable, if nothing else.
So if you’re not interested, no-one invited you to the party anyway. That was rude, I’m sorry. But seriously, this is a long one so if you really couldn’t care less what I have planned for my mediocre life for the next year, please do feel free to come back another day. But for anyone who does care (and I know some do because we all have a pinch of nosy buggar in our DNA), here’s my 25 things I want to tick off my To-do list in 2016/17:
1. Learn to make Welsh cakes
If you’ve never had a Welsh cake, have you even lived? That was mean, of course you have. And besides, Welsh cakes aren’t actually that great unless you’re Welsh living outside of Wales where it’s impossible to find them anywhere except airports in London and randomly Co-Op in Hereford. Clearly I spend a lot of time outside of Wales and each and every time I’m away for longer than a week or so I get a hankering for those little discs of raisin-y goodness, and it’s a hunger that just can’t be satisfied by any other baked goods. The only solution to my long-running teatime drama is to learn how to make them, which granted I’ve been harping on about doing for years to be honest BUT THIS YEAR IS THE ONE.
2. Visit 10 new countries
This may seem a bit extreme and woah how you gonna manage that then you big ball of unachievable daydreams to the outside eye, but I’ve actually already got trips booked to 7 countries (Latvia, Romania, Moldova, Sweden, Lithuania, Georgia and Armenia) and tentative plans to wear a kilt and go to Scotland (IT COUNTS OKAY!) with my chummies, so that’s 80% of the target hit by May. I might even swallow my pride of being a long time “I will never go to France”-er and actually go to France. Which leaves one more…to be continued.
3. Sort out my life
I made that sound a lot more intense and dramatic than it actually is. I mean stuff more than life, I guess. I need to sort out my stuff. I live in a box back home, which is currently full to the ceiling of smaller boxes full of stuff which honestly I just don’t need. I could probably clothe the whole population of San Marino with the amount of clothes I have that I just don’t wear. I could knit a blanket large enough to cover the surface area of the world with the amount of yarn I’ve hoarded that I’ll never get around to using. The thought of going home and having to battle my way through all of my stuff to get to my bed gives me a stress headache. I need a serious declutter and maybe my own dumping ground
4. Read 52 books
That’s 1 a week which is totally doable. I love reading but have found it really difficult to keep up with my long ‘to read’ list knowing that reading involves having to first find, then buy a book in English then lug it around the world on my back. Because I don’t give away my books. Oh, no no no no no! Buy a Kindle; problem solved, I hear you say. Well, I had one. It got stolen. Now I don’t have one. I don’t know how I’m gonna keep track of these 52 books, mind. Maybe I’ll buy one of those seemingly pointless but still quite useful book diaries?
5. Throw a Harry Potter party
So the other day I was staying at a hotel with one of those really annoying WiFi connections that only allows certain websites. In this case it was Daily Mail (always Daily Mail, no matter which country, network provider or website blocks. I swear Murdoch pays for the privilege of annoying us globally) and Etsy, and what’s a girl to do in such situation but aimlessly browse Etsy for things she really doesn’t need but will inevitably buy anyway?! I came across Harry Potter cake toppers and now I want Harry Potter cupcakes and Harry Potter [veggie] sausages on sticks and Harry Potter cheese and pineapple stuck in an orange so it looks like a knarl and I want to dress like Harry Potter and be Harry Potter and sway to John Williams goodness with a stuffed owl on my arm. Basically yeah. Harry Potter party for moi.
6. Crochet myself a blanket
Last year I decided to only give handmade gifts for Christmas – aren’t I a right little cutie pie? It was actually a really good idea except for the fact that I shot for the moon and landed on the stars in that I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to finish everything meaning that most people got half-finished things which is at least something. Except for one of my poor nephews who’s blanket is still in my WIP pile. This year, Sammy! Anyway, this year I’m going to be super selfish and make nothing but a fully grown, adult-sized blanket for myself. It will be green. Maybe.
7. Save money
I mentioned a little while ago over here in one of my pointless rambling posts about my current life that I’ve put the most tiniest, minute amount of money in an ISA so now I’m all sorts of going on holiday to the South of France every summer with my kids Quentin and Patrizia and sipping fancy wine out of a gold-plated goblet while playing sweet sweet music on my antique Stradivarius because my husband makes Bill Gates look poor levels of adult. Or maybe that’s an overreach. But I’m almost a quarter of a century old now so I should probably start being sensible for a change and have a savings account that’s a little more substantial than the £4.21 I’ve earned from three months’ worth of Lloyds Save the Change program.
8. Learn how to French braid my own hair
It’s too freaking hard to do! I don’t actually know the difference between a Dutch and a French braid, but I think I can just about manage a pathetic excuse of a Dutch on the right side of my head. The left is a lost cause for France, Netherlands and everywhere in between. No amount of YouTube videos and How To guides have helped and trust me, I’ve watched/read a lot, but I really really really really really want to learn. The end.
9. Take all my minions somewhere super fun
Sorry to disappoint but I don’t actually have an army of little yella fellas at my beckon call. What I do have is an army of tiny humans who I’m quite fond of, aka my niece and nephews. The word army may be a slight exaggeration too – I don’t even have one for each day of the week yet. Anyway, I want to take them somewhere super fun and *excuse the cheese* make memories, because they’re my faves even if they do punch me a little too hard sometimes.
10. Come back to India
I love India. It’s one of my faves. In fact, if cheddar cheese were more readily available and the Dairy Milk over here didn’t have the texture of hot chocolate powder, I might even go so far as to say I’d live here. Not permanently, but for half the year maybe. I’d be like all the Russian people who take over Goa every Christmas and leave as soon as Russian weather picks up a bit (does it ever really pick up there though?) except somewhere not Goa. Anyway, I haven’t even left yet but I already can’t wait to come back.
11. Pay off my whole entire credit card
There’s not actually that much on it but I fall in the trap every single month of paying off the minimum payment or, get me, sometimes a bit more and then spending it the next day just because it’s there. It’s stupid, I know it’s stupid and seeing it there in black and white just magnifies the stupid by 100. I never actually wanted a credit card in the first place because I know I’m the kind of silly sausage to not grasp the concept of paying something off, but thanks to Santander bringing my previously bloody marvellous credit score crashing down like a meteor. Which brings me to my next point…
12. Get my credit rating out of the gutter
This is a lesson for anyone out there who thinks Santander is joking when they say you must deposit at least £500 into your student account every semester for it to maintain its student status. I promise you, they mean business. And the best part is, when you miss a payment (or two, or three…) they’ll just BAM revert your account to Current and cancel your overdraft, leaving whatever’s in there as the dreaded ‘unplanned’ without even telling you. Or they will tell you. By mail. To your home address. When they know full well you’re on your year abroad and you specifically asked them in advance that if it’s super important to communicate by phone or using that fancy online communication thing the online banking thing has. Sigh. Don’t worry Santander hun, it’s not like I ever wanted a mortgage anyway…
13. Go to a blogger event
Or just, you know, meet someone. I’ve kind of opened myself up to the rest of the blogosphere recently (since this post where I decided the throw caution to the wind and eff it all) and it’s resulted in some pretty nice friendships/bloggerships forming. I’m really enjoying the sense of community and the little chit-chats and the comments and the support and everything, and it just makes me feel all happy and smushy inside. So I’d love to go to a blogger event to meet some of these online folk in real life, or just to meet up somewhere with someone or some folk would be nice too!
14. Learn to drive
I’m gonna cheat on this one. My friend over here in India has double, triple and quadruple pinky promised he’ll teach me to drive here so that when I go home I’ll have a headstart when it comes to lessons. Although when I stop and properly think about it, learning on Indian roads would probably have the opposite desired effect but whatevs, I’ma be featured in the next GTA.
15. Visit Italy
It’s been almost 18 months since I graduated with a BA in Translation and 7 months since I left the job which required me to actually speak my languages out loud and not just write them on paper. Having spent the best part of 4 months in South and Central America, my Español has had a good workout. Italian, however, is lacking. And what better way to refresh my brain than a week or so of sun, gelato and real pizza?!
16. See more of my buddies
My friends are actually the best people in the whole world even if they mostly ignore my Whatsapp messages and don’t like my Instagram posts with the exception of one lonely little fiery-haired darling. Seriously, they’re awesome even if they only read my blog when I force their face into their screen except for Jess James (hi JAJ!). Me? Mad? No! Nah, seriously they’re great. And I don’t see them enough. I should do a better job at stalking them and just stand outside their houses every morning with a newspaper and glass of orange juice or something.
17. Perfect the art of making poached eggs
Poached eggs are my favourite thing in the whole wide world, but I can’t for the life of me make them! Not even with one of those little yellow rubber pocket things you can buy for £1 in Asda. So whenever I fancy a poached egg I have to bang a lot of pots and pans around in my kitchen, sight a lot and make myself look pitiful in the hope that someone else makes them for me. Usually it works but I wanna be a big girl now. If anyone has any foolproof poached egg tips, throw ’em my way.
18. Stop being so lazy and cook more
Working in a restaurant which is more like a family than a workplace has its upsides – namely, free food. And free food is an absolute Godsend, but it just makes me lazy. Honestly after five years of ‘living alone’, the only stuff I can cook is pasta, fajitas, pie and cheese and bean toasties. I will be the most awful housewife someday. This year I want to add at least two new fancy dishes to my repertoire. And by fancy I mean like, soup or something.
19. Go to a wedding
I am that person who invites myself to everyone’s weddings. If I’ve ever met you in real life the chances are within the first few hours I’ve said something along the lines of ‘Please can I come to your wedding when you get married whenever that’ll be and wherever it is? Please pretty please’ and mostly my unsuspecting victims say yes because I seem crazy. But despite at least 50 self invitations, do you know how many weddings I’ve been to in the last I don’t even know how many years?! One. And it was a person I’d never met before in my life – the cousin of a friend of a friend – and still haven’t met now other than an awkward ‘you look so pretty’ mumbled at her through the window of her wedding car. Oh, and I wore gym clothes. And the whole ceremony was in Malayalam. And I nearly died of heat exhaustion. So yeah, my plan this year is to physically force two people to marry each other so I can go to the wedding. Preferably in English but y’know, I’m not actually fussy.
20. Family reunion!
It just took me 3 attempts to spell reunion right. Shameful. Without going into too much juicy detail, I haven’t had a proper relationship with one of my sisters for almost 2 decades through no fault of ours: we were victims of circumstance (lol). Anyway, she’s had a baby and we’re both grown ups now so this is the year we’re going to meet up, we’re going to start again and skip across a meadow to run into each others arms. Or we’ll just meet for a coffee which neither of us drink, whatevs.
21. Be Zoella
Lol, me so funny. I don’t want to be Zoella. I don’t like stripes or pugs and I’m too fond of swearing when I stand on Lego to ever be her. But on a serious note, I do kind of want to see this here blog of mine lift off from the gro76yhund (that means ground in “It’s 4am and I should be sleeping language”, fyi) a little more. Maybe, you know, have enough subscribers so that I can actually call myself a blogger without wondering if I’m being too over-confident and self-obsessed, and maybe be successful enough so that someone somewhere will send me socks to review. Seriously, someone send me socks. I’m an actual sock expert, promise.
22. Go on a picnic with a picnic blanket
Of all 25 on this list, this will probably be the most difficult to achieve. Mainly because we have about 4 days of good weather a year in UK, most of which fall on a work day or when I’m out of the country. But I really want to pack food into a basket and take a tartan blanket and have a real picnic and feel like I’ve walked straight off the page of a Jane Austen novel. Jess James, if you’re reading this – picnic date next year?
23. Buy a snazzy laptop
When I was in Belize there was this tiny little thing called a hurricane (eventually downgraded to Tropical Storm) making its way across the country which completely knocked out the electricity for about 2 days. What to do in 2 days sans electricity?! Well, first I wrote some blog posts. Then my laptop battery died so I resorted to decorating my laptop with Finding Dory stickers I’d bought in Mexico for less than £1. Now the stickers won’t come off and it’s actually really hard to be taken serious as a grown up, work from home, self-employed baller when your cheapy little laptop looks like something produced by Fisher Price. So yeah, I want a Mac. And you wanna bet I’ll be offsetting the cost against my taxes at the end of the year because this self-employed malarkey is fan-bloody-tastic.
24. Take more photos
It was only this year – this trip actually – that I got over my fear of cameras and started willingly taking or posing for photos of myself. I’ve even taken a selfie. You’ll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of photos of me between the ages of, say, 11 and 18. And from 18 onwards the only photos are of me at cool places or the obligatory annual Christmas photo with my pals. And it’s because I had absolutely no idea how to smile on camera without looking like an absolute toolbag and no-one wants a bunch of photos of themselves looking like someone’s creepy uncle. Anyway, now I’ve learnt that if I shout “QUICK MAKE ME LAUGH!” before someone takes a photo, they get caught off-guard and in turn it makes me laugh, resulting in an actual non-creepy uncle smile. Magic. So this year more photos. Not just of me, that’d be odd. But of family, friends, everyday things, you get it.
25. Make the most of everything
It’s in the unwritten rules of blogging that you can’t end a post like this on anything other than a cheese fest. And what better cheese fest to end on than this?! I want to enjoy life, GRAB THE BULL BY ITS HORNS, LAUGH MORE AND FROWN LESS AND EAT MORE PIE AND HAVE MORE FUN AND GO MORE PLACES AND SEE MORE THINGS AND SAY YES TO EVERYTHING AND AAAAAAH. Etcetera etcetera.
So that there, fellow online folk, is my list of things I want – nay, I will – do before I reach a quarter of a century.
Some of them may crop up in a few posts in the future, if they’re super awesome and fun and worth writing a post about (like seriously, don’t expect me to go into detail about how I learnt to make soup) but other than that I’ll probably just do a sort of catch up in 3 or 6 months time to see how far along the list I’ve gotten, if I’ve even done any of them.