New Things Challenge Week 5: international and learning/skills

I think these themes were a bit dry but we still ended up with a lovely mixture of new things, both on- and off-topic.

Viv made roasted cauliflower soup with cheese crisps.

Shannon went to her first university lecture.

Jade started to learn how to read medieval manuscripts.

Terry (me mum) made some very sweet Scandi-style Christmas decorations.fb_img_1476132469692

Terry and Viv both managed to upload their photos into the right place on my Facebook event page for the first time. Little victories.

Hazel and Caroline (and I) went to a rather gorgeous Finnish storytelling show – Fire in the North Sky: Epic Tales from Finland.

Adam listened to some new music from around the world on (at least I think he did, he recommended it anyway) and booked a ticket to see his first Polish film at the cinema.

Rachel made pasta and pesto from scratch…IN ITALY.

Leona made moussaka.

Alison made polenta chips and went to her Spanish evening class – it was her third week so not really new but I expect she did lots of new things during the lesson.

Rosa went to a lunch lecture about animal welfare and ethics.


I went to the Wellcome Gallery in London which had 2 exhibitions. One was called Bedlam and looked at the way we as a society have treated those with mental illness by focusing on Bethlam Royal Hospital, London. It has excerpts from patients, historical documents and images which looked at how we went from torture, chaining people up for years, to realising art and creativity can help. It looked at what it meant to be “mad”. It was very interesting and very worth a visit. We then went to the second gallery which was all about the subconscious. Here I learned about more about Sleep Paralysis. This is when you wake up but can’t move. It is hideous! But I learnt that this happens because your body naturally paralyses itself whilst asleep – to prevent you from acting out your dreams – normally your paralysis would go before you wake up – the reason you would experience sleep paralysis – is because your body has woken up before you have been naturally released from your paralysis. [And] I went to St. Albans Food and Drink festival and tasted food from all over the globe… from Malaysian, Brazilian, Jamaican to rather delicious mexican Churros and chocolate sauce.

Liz went to see The Beat.fb_img_1476132423645

Claire watched her daughter rehearse for the village’s amateur dramatic panto, Pan, started reading a book she’s had for ages, and went with her family to see the Harvest Festival displays in Ely Cathedral.

Jacqui and Matt went to Chippenham Park.

Caroline’s Mindapples

Caroline set herself a different challenge. What are your five a day? 

At the end of September, I went to a conference called Charity People and Culture, all about how to create healthy workplaces in the charity sector. One of the talks was from a company called Mindapples, who focus on encouraging people to look after their minds. They say that people know about healthy food and keeping fit, but neglect doing things for their mind. So they go around different places and ask people what their five mindapples are – the things they do to help their mind. What I liked about the talk was that mindapples are personal to the individual – there is no point encouraging everyone to practice mindfulness as it doesn’t suit everyone. Some just need to sit down with a cup of tea. One of the things he said was ‘Don’t just do something – sit there!’. This resonated with me because I’m always doing something.

So as part of Maria’s challenge week, I resolved to do five mindapples a day. I think the idea of mindapples is that they don’t have to be five unique mindapples every day, but as it was only for a week, that’s what I did:


  • Watched my goldfish swim around their tank for five minutes.
  • Stroked my cat.
  • Went for a lunchtime walk around the reserve where I work.
  • Went bellydancing.
  • Played my flute.


  • Looked at the pattern of early-morning dew on a spider’s web.
  • Sung a choir song (Three Ravens) whilst cycling.
  • Watched some rowers on the river.
  • Took part in a psychology experiment for my friend’s PhD.
  • Sent a postcard to a friend I’ve not seen for a while.


  • Did several inexpert sun salutations in my living room before work.
  • Admired some yellowish-brown autumn leaves.
  • Taught a Liberian song to my adult music reading group and enjoyed hearing their harmonies.
  • Read a chapter of my book (a murder mystery set in Istanbul).
  • Made an origami zebra


  • Danced around my kitchen whilst cooking breakfast.
  • Watched some gulls in a field on the way to work.
  • Wrote haikus in celebration of National Poetry Day.
  • Sang in 7/8 time in my Thursday choir.
  • Did a crossword.


  • Did some t’ai chi before I left for work.Listened to my friend Steph talk about her sabbatical in India.
  • Looked at some flowers in the reserve garden at lunch time.
  • Bumped into someone I used to work with and had a chat.
  • We did a music quiz and won!


  • Taught some children the flute and recorder.
  • Did a word puzzle.
  • Ate some out of season raspberries.
  • Went to an evening of Finnish folk music and stories. It was amazing!
  • Had a 10pm bike conversation on the way home.


  • Massaged a lovely massage client.
  • Had a conversation with Chris about where to go on holiday.
  • Listened to some Egyptian bellydance music.
  • Sang some entertaining sea shanties with my Sunday choir.
  • Started to knit a starfish.

I’ve enjoyed this week. I think the mantra ‘do something every day that makes you happy’ is a good one to live by!

The Challenge Week next month is 14-20 November, with the themes ‘Community‘ and ‘ The Natural World‘.


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