Hurtling through the year – how am I doing?

64 days in and 64 things done. Numerically pleasing but if you’re any good at maths you’ll realise this means I’m really very behind in my challenge!

I’m not worried yet. I haven’t started the bike rides and I have two scary little solo holidays booked where I hope to tot up a few ‘brave things’. I’m booked onto a couple of drawing courses to make up for the fact that I’ve only done two sketches so far and these will count as ‘art experiences’, too. I’m getting into the slightly random Jane Austen challenge, with a trip to the Jane Austen’s House Museum planned with the lovely Sarah who inspired me. I could easily put more effort into ’40 lots of positive feedback’ and I’m sure 37 people will start asking for favours soon! (Hint hint.)

After two months I’m beginning to think this is quite a nice way to carve out your time. I admit some of it is quite self-indulgent – I’m not sure trying 40 new drinks is going to change the world or improve my skills. But with a bit of thought and a number of your choice (doesn’t have to be your age or even my age!), you could use this strategy to help develop a particular good habit (or even limit a bad one), increase your knowledge of a topic, make sure you keep on top of something you don’t like doing, help someone with their own goal or project or give yourself an excuse to do something you love but always feel guilty about doing. And the variety is useful if you are bit bored with life or, like me, aren’t very good at concentrating on things.

As my ‘new thing new thing’ alarm bell is now well and truly wired into my brain, I’ve been getting a bit annoyed when I do something new and realise I can’t add it to this year’s list. An obvious omission was ’40 new albums’; many years ago I would have managed this and more without thinking but I’m horribly out of touch now, so this would have been good for me – maybe I’ll do it anyway, there’s still time. And the parts of the challenge that involve books are not moving on very fast as I keep reading the wrong sorts of books. It’s likely some of my ’40 days of holiday’ will consist of manically reading short classic children’s books.

Still, 64 things – I doubt I’d have done a fraction of them if I hadn’t started this new project, including one of my favourites so far, a modern calligraphy and brush lettering workshop (see the featured image). I’m updating my ‘progress’ here but I’m not sure how best to keep the blog going in the meantime. I recall that a few people muttered about joining in with me…it’s not too late! Hellllooooo!! (In other words, HELP!)


40th Birthday Challenge – early days

My 40th-year challenge consists of 17 mini-challenges, each with a target of 40. I’ve started 8 of them, booked tickets for others, and done a bit of planning for the rest.

As predicted, the ’40 new recipes’ challenge is going well, with five under my belt so far. Good at trying new recipes – hopeless at remembering them and building a repertoire!

The book-related challenges haven’t got going at all, mainly because I was already reading 4 really long books, and only one of them will have moved me forward in my challenges once I have finished it. Argh! I’ve also joined a Random Travel Challenge on Goodreads and have to read a book from each of these countries:

  • Botswana
  • Chile
  • Hungary
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden

Luckily I’ve managed to find a few biographies that look good and are set in three of the countries – phew. Really excited to explore these places from my armchair/the bus/coffee shops – but I have got a lot of books to read this year! I’m getting quite good at squeezing a couple of pages in here and there; it really works.

The trouble with setting challenges for yourself is that you have to make your own rules, and these end up being a bit random as you tweak them to fit. ’40 works of art’ has turned into ’40 art experiences’ because I hadn’t really got the detail straight in my head and didn’t know where to start. And I’ve allowed myself to duplicate (new biopic at the cinema would count three times – film/biography/show) but I’m banning myself from duplicating anything from the Jane Austen list. Why did I decide that?

But the ‘least likely to succeed’ challenge – 40 days of holidays – is making surprising progress, with 18 days booked in so far. Yes, two of them make up ‘a leisurely weekend in Cambridge’ but they still count – my rules! And not all of them are in the UK – first of the ’40 brave things’ was to book my first non-UK solo holiday. Eeek! And just before that, my first solo holiday EVER. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Maria’s 40th Birthday Challenge: 680 things (or, why do I do this to myself?)

For the first time in my life, I’m not really looking forward to my birthday. I’ve got no issue with turning 40 and there’s no point whining about getting older, but I had been planning to have a big party for everyone I know – and I’ve decided I can’t do it. I don’t like being the centre of attention so it’s no great surprise, really! I know lots of other people who will be 40 this year; maybe one of them will make up for it.

Instead, I’m going to spend the WHOLE of 2018 embracing the number 40 by doing 40 things under various headings!

This is all going to test my commitment and project/time management skills, all of which are in need of development. For each of the 17 projects below, I need to do 3 or 4 tasks each month, or 1 or 2 each week, if I’m going to achieve them all. Assuming no duplication, there are 17*40=680 things to do in 2018, which means 1.86 things each day! It’ll take ages just to record it all. In 2017 I set myself two tasks and didn’t do either of them… I’m sure it’ll be FINE.

Here’s the final list of ideas, in descending order of how likely it is that I will achieve them.

  1. 40 new recipes – this is at the top because although a recipe nearly every week is quite a lot, you can catch up easily by doing a few new recipes all in one lovely cookery day.
  2. 40 plays or shows or concerts or cinema trips this takes some organising but some will be organised by other people and all I need to do is say ‘yes’ and turn up. I am winning as I am already booked to see Suggs and my friend’s little girl in a panto. (Together! Not really.)
  3. 40 outings on a bike – it might be a bit optimistic to have this so near the top, since I am a rubbish cyclist, I didn’t go out on a bike at all in 2017 and I don’t have a helmet, but I reckon if I can make it out once, then 40 cycle rides should be possible. 40 accidents, too, I expect.
  4. 40 sketches – a good excuse to go to Drink and Draw events more often. Might need a theme to keep me motivated.
  5. 40 new local (Cambridgeshire) places – this one should just happen naturally but there are lots of museums I haven’t been to, so I will try and put a bit of effort in, too.
  6. 40 books I ought to have read by now – looking into studying a masters in English Literature made me realise how many classics and other important books I haven’t read. My Goodreads Challenge in 2018 will be 52 books but I’m also doing the ‘Around The World in 80 Books’ Challenge (the option where you don’t have to read 80 books) so I will need to be inventive and efficient in my book choices, especially with number 13 on this list too.
  7. 40 new drinks – hopefully a fun and easy one, and I promise they won’t all be alcoholic.
  8. 40 new films – this is where I start to hope for some overlap (see item 2).
  9. 40 words in a language other than English – I can see me getting to December and not having done this through being indecisive about what language to learn.
  10. 40 favours – this would be higher up as I like to be useful to people if I can, and I’d like to think I already do 40 favours in a year, but I find people aren’t always very good at asking for help. This is an actual advert to the people I know to book me in for something you need help with – you can remain anonymous on the blog if you wish! (Probably best not to leave me with children who are too little to tell me what they need as I have no clue.)
  11. 40 lots of positive feedback – this and the previous one were inspired by Kerri’s suggestion of 40 good deeds. If I’m left to my own devices to choose the good deed I’m in danger of helping people with things they didn’t want help with. But surely even I can’t go wrong with positive feedback. I’m thinking thank you notes or online reviews. Love getting good feedback myself, and am hopeless at dishing it out!
  12. 40 biographies – autobiographies or biographies, but not just books. Films, TV programmes, live shows, anything else that occurs to me – so I can count my ticket to see Suggs in his show about his life, yippee. Not Jane Austen, though (see number 16).
  13. 40 works of art – I am very much out of my depth when it comes to art so I am going to pick my friend Clair’s brains about how I might tackle this one, as it was her idea.
  14. 40 happy moments – suggested by Rosa. Happiness is an elusive and random beast, and Rosa is a much more positive person than me, so I don’t really know what will come out of this one. It seems fraught with dangerous opportunities for offending or embarrassing people. It has occurred to me today, though, that in my two years of doing new things, some of the happiest were where I created something (e.g. flower arranging), in a sociable and companionable environment, but didn’t give a hoot what everyone else thought of the thing I had made! Any compliments I got were hugely appreciated and often unexpected but I can honestly say I would still have been happy if everyone had turned their noses up at my finished product. For someone who is generally absolutely paranoid about other people’s opinions, this is quite a revelation. I wonder if it is significant that most of these things involved being taught by someone (I’m not good at teaching myself how to do things) who also provided all the materials and cleaned up afterwards (leaving me to do just the happy bit). Wouldn’t it be lovely to be good enough at something to teach it to a room full of people who all go away totally chuffed with what they’ve achieved? Especially if they remember to give positive feedback…
  15. 40 brave things – I’m not very brave but maybe that means this one will be quite easy, as so many things are scary!
  16. 40 Jane Austen-related things I’ve hijacked this project from my friend Sarah and I’m hoping she’s going to be the driving force, as she has a huge list of places to visit already (and a car). But 40 is a lot of things and although there will be some duplication (biographies, books I should have read, holidays), we will need you to wish us luck!
  17. 40 days of holidays – this was the first idea I had for this project. I am really struggling with the concept of holidays though! I’ve only been on holiday once without my family or my ex, and that was 20 years ago, so I am starting from scratch. I am going to include weekend visits to friends and family, and days that I spend as if I was on holiday (tourist-in-my-own-town type days or crafty workshops). But I am very poor company for even my bestest of pals after a couple of hours, I don’t want to go on holiday on my own, and I don’t want to go away with a group of strangers, so this one was doomed to fail even before I added 16 other challenges to my life. But I will try!

Please join me! (I don’t mean join me on holiday – join me with a bit of this project.) I’ve had pledges from Laura R, Leona, Emily, Clair C, Emma and Catherine so far. If you want to take part in one of these specific challenges, let me know, so we can help each other. Pick whatever number you want, especially if you have a different big birthday this year. Or choose a different challenge – other suggestions included cheeses, football grounds, new people and castles!

Happy New Year, all.

Don’t forget about the New Things!

I have done many new things this year – none hugely adventurous, and many not much fun. But while the new thing habit still seems to be there, I’m losing the knack of acknowledging the things! Not good. One of the benefits I noticed after doing a year of a new thing each day was that stopping and thinking ‘that was a new thing’ is quite good for you, especially if you’re struggling to remember what you’re doing in life or are feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed by it all.

I’m going to start a new project next year so I’m closing off this year with a few of the new things that I can remember from 2017.

Selling a house

Oh my goodness. I never want to have to do this again. There were so many new not-fun things that I didn’t have any energy left for fun things. If I buy a house again, I am staying put until the bitter end. However, I made a profit, so I totally shouldn’t whinge. I’m sure if I look back in a year or thirty I will be able to see that it has all made me a better and stronger person. Here’s my attempt at a positive spin even though I didn’t want to move and it made me ill.

  • [During three weeks of house viewings] I learnt it is possible to clean your house from top to bottom EVERY DAY. It is NO KIND OF LIFE. Wake up, clean, work, clean, admire clean house, sleep (and dream of cleaning). At least now I know that I CAN do it – I just choose not to.
  • Employed a gardener and an estate agent. Pleased with both.
  • Successfully obtained Retrospective Building Control Authorisation (oops).
  • Said ‘no’ to an offer.
  • Chose from two equal offers.

Thank you thank you THANK YOU to the huge number of people who helped me get to the end.

Living in temporary accommodation (in style)

The house sale took months but I suddenly had two days’ notice to move, so back to the parental home I went. It’s an awkward commute for someone who gets travel sick on buses, so I had a back-up plan: stay in a Cambridge College. I spent three weeks in a student/conference room in lovely Robinson College:

I’ve never stayed in one of the Colleges before, and since I did an Open University degree, I’ve never even stayed in student accommodation before. Other new things ranged from venturing into a Senior Common Room (as a guest, not illegally) to putting up some battery-operated fairy lights. As well as having a blissful 20-minute commute on foot, I treated this as preparation for going on holiday on my own. I think if I could go to work during the day, going on holiday on my own would be easy! Weirdo.

Practical and useful stuff

  • Started an OpenLearn course, to see whether I might be ready to do a masters degree. The answer is no, but maybe one day with a bit of a preparatory work.openlearn
  • Commuted to work on the guided bus. I also loaded the Stagecoach onto my phone (semi-useful) and bought a Megarider Plus on said app (never again – twice it didn’t work just at the point I needed it so had to buy two unnecessary tickets). I really did want to enjoy my guided bus commute but it ain’t the train.

Work stuff

Oh dear, not much, surprisingly!

  • Met the new VC.

Lovely fun stuff

Just a taster:

  • Went to a fortified wine tasting – it was ALL delicious and I’d never had any kind of white port until then.sherry
  • Made a wreath, at a very fun and festive class:
  • Learnt how to crochet – by joining a lovely lunchtime knitting club at work. Thanks to Jill for the patient teaching. I’m still very much a beginner so hopefully more crochet-new-things to come.crochet1
  • Made a glass coaster. It took 45 minutes plus a week for the baked version to be delivered. I really enjoyed this and I’m so happy with my slightly lumpy result!
  • Watched the entire series of The Box of Delights in one sitting – in the cinema! With wine. Bliss.
  • Read all the Man Booker Prize nominations before the winner was announced. When I say ‘all’, I mean 4.25 of the 6. But the thought was there. The one that won was the one I didn’t read. The actual best one was Elmet.man_booker

New niece-related things

I always end up doing new things when I see my nieces. Examples:

  • Prepared and supervised a scavenger huntscavenger
  • Made a garlic focaccia using the recipe box they gave me as a Christmas present.Foccacia

New places

I’m much better at popping into random places than I used to be, just because they are new. It’s never a waste of time.

  • Walked a new section of the guided bus route (Fen Drayton lakes to St Ives).
  • Wandered round some cemeteries (Mill Road and Ely)
  • Went to Felixstowe
  • Went to Aldegarden campsite. Got the train to a new place (Saxmundham). Stayed in this tent all on my own. Lit a fire in a woodburner all on my own. It lasted about 5 minutes.

Next year’s project involves me turning 40 and doing 40 of various things. Some of them will be new so I’ll keep blogging!

New September things: Hazel to the blog rescue

My blog has withered away since I cancelled my broadband, as I thought I was moving house and then didn’t!

Fortunately, Hazel has written something for you all instead. I have done some nice new things over the last few months (including #SeptemberDailyPhoto) so hopefully I’ll be inspired to write something again soon! Here is Hazel’s September summary.

A big shout out to 2 amazing ladies, Maria and Caroline and a big thank you to a great September!

I’ve had great fun with lots of new things this year from starting my own blog to reading Italian poetry in a National Poetry Day event and of course plenty of new food and drink.

Meet just 2 of my new friends: Espresso Martini and Old Fashioned. A theme that I am happily going to continue with a new cocktail a month.

Caroline invited us along on her daily challenge of taking a photo at the same time each day for every day in September and I must say I loved being nosey and seeing everyone’s #Septemberdailyphoto journals.

I used my #SeptemberDailyPhoto to go on wellbeing wanders and soothing stress busting strolls in my lunch break and longer rambles at the weekend (even though a lot of weekends turned lazy and cosy instead of active in the fresh air).

From finding many a floral friend and subtly snapping photos of gardens and their gates I have carried on taking my 30 minute wellbeing walks at lunch times and I’m still finding new gems, although I have stopped taking photos of them in case the residents think I am a strange stalker lady! My favourite find might have to be my garage donkey and then learning all about these hardworking four legged friends.
My best find and my new best bench friend has to be the Library Garden at Rock Road, which is soo pretty and has that secret garden feel as you would never know it was there!garden

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

I would agree with that quote but I would add notebooks as who doesn’t need stationery! And what stunning stationery you can find in this Venetian favourite of mine!


Even my photo models have loved this challenge with my plant pot buddy from day 2 throwing herself into the spirit of the thing by transforming into a Dalek to grab my attention and steal the show by making the final photo!

I couldn’t let my Plant Pot Buddy do all the blossoming and transforming and with a very proud hat on and with my new purple heeled ‘I feel amazing’ shoes who had to feature both on my photo journal and to give me confidence in my first poetry reading where I read this beautiful poem by Alda Merini.

My daily challenge for October is to read a picturebook a day and then draw or write something for 10 minutes on my bus ride into work. My A-Z of picturebooks blog post will be coming soon!


New things every day in May: Caroline

Caroline is continuing to do many more new things than I will ever manage to do but she has inspired me to get my act together and do a new thing each day in July – I have a few things lined up already so it should be EASY. Feel free to join me, you have a bit of time to prepare!

Last year I did something new every day in May. This year, I did it slightly differently. I did Adriene’s 31 Days Yoga Revolution every day. On top of that, I tried to do at least one other new thing. Here’s how I got on.

  1. Yoga Revolution day 1. Did a 2-mile run on a new route – along the busway.
  2. Yoga Revolution day 2. I also had lunch in Darwin College, where my partner Chris gets to eat for FREE every day! The food was tasty and the surroundings are absolutely stunning. I saw moorhens, blackbirds, several bees, and the odd student.
  3. Yoga Revolution day 3. Also, I was spotted! I wrote a feature for the latest International Therapist magazine, a trade magazine for massage therapist. Someone at work recognised me from this rather niche publication!
  4. Yoga Revolution day 4. I’m really starting to get into the yoga-ing now and I like her presentation. Feeling very zen after my yoga-ing, I then put out my bins, wanting to be in contact with Mother Earth or something, so did it barefoot and connecting with the ground. I painfully stubbed my toe and now it’s purple. It precipitated a workplace ‘is my toe broken?’ conversation. On inspection, a workplace self-styled broken toe expert claimed it was only badly bruised. I also did two more new things: stood at the front of the choir to hear them sing a chord (it sounded amazing!) and righted a kicked-over wheelie bin. Some of the rubbish spilled on to the street, so I put it back in. They like coffee very much. Made me think you can tell a lot about a person by the contents of their wheelie bin.
  5. I did Yoga Revolution Day 5. This is the first day that I’ve woken up really wanting to do the yoga. It was all about ‘finding your rhythm’, which I enjoyed. This month is ‘Wellness Month’ at work which means lots of potential new thing activities. I went on a guided Mindfulness in Nature walk, which was amazing. I work on a nature reserve and often go for walks around the reserve at lunch time, but this was all about doing it more slowly, and being ‘in the moment’ without lots of thoughts in your brain. It finished with a guided meditation in a bluebell wood. Lovely! This kind of thing doesn’t come easily to me but I’m keen to learn more. In the afternoon I went to see the new goslings at work instead of a tea break. A gosling break.
  6. I did Yoga Revolution Day 6. Much more energetic this one, with an extended abs section that was quite hard. This afternoon my choir sung in the St Mary the Virgin Church in Fen Ditton to celebrate the church’s 800th anniversary. It was a church I’ve never been to before, and we sung a variety of songs including Sumer is Icumen In which is about as old as the church. I also played my flute in a World Premier – a piece composed especially for the concert. I played my flute in a pulpit, yet other new thing.
  7. I did Yoga Revolution Day 7. I also read a book on Marma Therapy – Ayurvedic Massage. This was a new thing for two reasons, first of all, I’ve never read it before, and secondly, it’s a book I was sent as a prize for ‘Best Communication’ in International Therapist magazine last month, as I wrote them an article about massaging homeless people at Crisis at Christmas. Marma Therapy is fascinating, it uses points around the body in a similar way to acupuncture but originates in India. Certainly something to explore further.
  8. I did Yoga Revolution Day 8, a very relaxing and ‘restorative’ session which was lucky as one of my other new things was sending an angry tweet to the Financial Times. It was regarding this article which suggests that a lot of people are proud of the fact they don’t have a basic grasp of maths. The writer seemed to have no concept whatsoever of dyscalculia (numerical dyslexia) and as I have this myself I got a bit ranty. So I calmed down by making two origami penguins.Penguin
  9. Today’s new things started early, when I took a photo of a rabbit before getting my lift to work. There’s a colony of wild rabbits near to my pickup point, but I’ve never caught one on camera before. I also went to my first work leaving do in a yurt. My workplace were given a yurt by a corporate supporter, with the view to it being an extra meeting room. It’s huge! Finally, I did day 9 of Yoga Revolution, a very energetic one with lots of ab things and leg lifts.
  10. I did Yoga Revolution day 10 and on the way to work saw a crow eating a dead squirrel. Never seen that before, but it turns out they will eat virtually anything!
  11. I did Yoga Revolution day 11 and had a go at Clubbercise at work. This was also a part of the RSPB’s Wellness Month, and again was in the yurt. Clubbercise is basically aerobics moves (grapevines and the like) to 90s clubbing music like Cafe del Mar, holding glowsticks. It was quite strange to be dancing around with glowsticks in the daytime, in a yurt, at work, but it was really fun. I suspect the loud music may have annoyed some people looking for quiet tranquillity.clubbercise
  12. I did Yoga Revolution day 12 which had a lot of energetic sun salutations. I then made baked spicy tomato eggs for dinner. Needs a bit of tweaking!
  13. I did Yoga Revolution day 13 and met two friends for a cup of tea in a cafe in Histon called The Geographer. It used to be a travel agent, hence the name. It was nice and understated, not like places like Stir which I really don’t like at all. Then in the evening I went to see a comedy show called Guilty Feminist. All I knew about it beforehand was that it was a podcast recording and it was feminist comedy. It turned out the Guilty Feminist is quite a big thing. It was sold out (I think 3 audience members were male) and the people going to see it were *really* excited. I’ve never listened to any podcast, let alone this one. I watched the recording of two separate podcasts, and they seem to follow the same pattern. The ‘I’m a feminist but..’ bit, where they finish the sentence in an amusing way, then they talk about their ‘challenge’ for that episode, then a bit of stand up, then a discussion with a guest. The guests were Mae Martin and Sindhu Vee, and both sat next to me – not that I had any idea who they were beforehand. Sindhu Vee spoke about her struggles with anxiety and how it can cripple her and stop her from functioning. There was a fair bit of audience participation, and the audience was asked how often they suffer from this kind of anxiety. About 90% of the mostly female audience indicated they suffered at least once a week. I don’t think I’ve ever had anxiety like that. Ever. Sindhu said it was because ‘women are judged, judged all the time. Even down to the point of what we wear, what we say, what we do..’ It made me think a lot. Do I get anxious of my clothes because I think I’ll be judged because of them? No, I just get dressed. Maybe I’m lucky. [Yes, you are! I’m amazed I ever leave the house because of this issue! MW]
  14. I did Yoga Revolution day 14 and went to Maria (the New Things Queen)’s car boot sale in Trumpington. It involved a bit of wandering to find it. I spied a rather nice green dress on sale – one I’d coveted from afar because Maria used to wear it a lot. It was £3. I put the hanger back on the rack (a car boot faux pas) to count my change and another lady expressed an interest. Calamity! After a polite fight, she got her husband to toss a coin, and I was victorious! The green dress is mine. I must familiarise myself with car boot sale behaviour. On the way back into town I saw two new things: a queue of people waiting for Poundland to open, and a group of 20 60-70 year old men, all with Lambrettas. They were later identified, through Maria’s facebook groups, as members of the Cambridge Scooter Club.
  15. I did Yoga Revolution day 15 and learned a new shimmy in my bellydance class. There are lots of shimmies and this one involved more brain, it required focus rather than just letting everything wiggle. I think it’d need a bit of practice to perfect.
  16. I did Yoga Revolution day 16 and learned a new workplace phrase: ‘analysis paralysis’. It means spending too much time waffling on about something and trying to make a decision than just getting on with it. Analysis Paralysis became our pub quiz team name for the evening, and we won. There’s no time for analysis paralysis in pub quizzes.
  17. I did Yoga Revolution day 17 and collected my winnings from a workplace Eurovision sweepstake. It’s the first time I’ve ever won a sweepstake at work. They’re organised by someone called Kevin, aka BetKev.
  18. I did Yoga Revolution day 18 and saw the famed Croatian Eurovision entry, where a man does a duet with himself in two different vocal styles.
  19. I had a go at Laughter Yoga at work, as a part of Wellness Month. The idea is that mimicking the action of laughter has the same effect on the body as actual laughter, so we had half an hour of walking around saying ‘HO, HO, HA, HA, HA’ ‘throwing the laughter’ to people, rubbing in the laughter cream, and so on. It finished with a short relaxation session. Reactions were mixed – some people loved it, some hated it. I was on the fence, but I certainly laughed a lot, which is the point I think!
  20. I did Yoga Revolution days 19 and 20 (as I missed doing one yesterday). In the evening I saw three tribute bands I’d never seen before: Pure DC (AC/DC), Guns 2 Roses (Guns n Roses) and Dressed to Kill (KISS). A lot of the crowd were wearing tshirts of the actual bands rather than their tributes. There were a lot of bored children. I genuinely enjoyed Guns 2 Roses, but was a bit bored by Dressed to Kill, despite the outfits, makeup and pyrotechnics!
  21. I did Yoga Revolution day 21 and then went to see the new Cambridge North station. I didn’t actually get a train from there though, as that would’ve been a bit pointless – and I didn’t have anywhere particular to go! It took 12 minutes to cycle there compared to the 20 minutes it takes to get to the central station – but then journeys to the other station take 6 minutes. Not necessarily worth it in terms of time, but I reckon I’d use the station to get to Ely as that cuts out some of the journey.
  22. I did Yoga Revolution day 22 and at work, walked back through the reserve only concentrating on the birdsong (of which there is quite a lot, as it is a nature reserve). I was practising the Mindfulness of day 5 and I was surprised at how much easier it was to do the second time around.
  23. I had a work meeting in the Gamlingay Eco Hub, the most energy-efficient community building in the country! All of its heating comes from renewable energy and they harvest rainwater for toilets and sinks, meaning they have virtually no utility bills! The building was mostly paid for by fundraising in the local community. I also went to see Mew at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (neither of these are new things) and went to a new pub, the Green in Shepherd’s Bush.
  24. I did Yoga Revolution day 23 and, following a work conversation about Live TV which also spilled onto Facebook, discovered that one of my Facebook friends once appeared on Live TV. Someone else found the clip – it was a sports quiz show with added scantily-clad women. Quite amusing, but really, really awful!
  25. I did day 24 of Yoga Revolution and helped to lead a singing workshop at work as a part of Wellness Month. It was outside in the lovely sunshine and we did a range of fun warmups and then learned some rounds. We also managed to recruit a new bass, so a job well done. In the evening I went to my normal Timeline Choir practice, and it was in workshop style taken by Cath Coombes. We sang a song in Swahili, one in Hebrew, and an Irish song. To get home (for complicated reasons involving wanting my bike to be at the train station) I got the train from Cambridge Station to Cambridge North. Cambridge North is, however, 30 minutes walk from my house.ticket
  26. I did day 25 of Yoga Revolution and gave workplace massages at work as a part of Wellness Month. That’s not a new thing, as I did it last year too, but the new thing was doing them in a yurt – an excellent place for massages – and massaging the back and shoulders of my head of department, who seemed to really enjoy it.
  27. I went to the MCM London Comic Con. We were in London for Chris’ birthday, but this was the main focus of the trip really. I’d never been to one of these before, but it’s basically an enormous convention full of sci fi nerds, often in full regalia. I went to a panel with two people from Firefly, a Q&A with The Bloke Who Played Flash Gordon, and another one with The Blokes Who Played Rimmer and Kryten in Red Dwarf. The latter were the funniest. I inadvertently wandered into a meetup consisting of people dressed as Disney characters and they were just… odd.
    In the evening we went to the Green Man Courtyard Beer Festival.comic con
  28. I did days 26 and 27 of Yoga Revolution, and then in the evening went to Jamie’s Italian, where I sampled cannelloni from their new summer menu, which was also half price. In the evening I saw Reginald D Hunter (not a new thing), supported by Glenn Wool (a new thing).
  29. I did Yoga Revolution days 28 and 29, and as it was Chris’ birthday, I made Boob Cakes.boob cakes
  30. I did Yoga Revolution day 30 and did a fitness test at work, which tested heart rate, pulse, strength, suppleness and cardiovascular fitness. I did 80 star jumps in a minute! Then in the evening I played a room escape game at a new place in town – Lockhouse Games. We escaped! This is mostly because Chelley and Rob Lucas are real-life escape room superstars.
  31. I did the final day of Yoga Revolution! I think I’m going to miss it, so I was pleased to find that Adriene has many other free yoga videos on her yoga channel! I also learned some phrases in Croation, as I’m going there on holiday next month. They are,
    How are you? Kako si?
    What’s your name? Kako si doves?
    Good morning: Dobro juto
    Good night: Laku nok
    Please: Molim
    Thank you: Hvala

Once again, doing a new thing every day has been interesting, energising, and encouraged me to view every day in a new light. It’s easy for life to feel like a bit of a treadmill of going to work, coming home etc at times, and doing new things every day, even tiny things, is a great way of snapping out of that, and also getting round to doing the things you never thought you’d get around to doing. I think I’m quite a convert to yoga now, thanks to Adriene.

Home and garden new things – April

One of my favourite things these days is hearing someone say ‘Oh Maria, I did a new thing yesterday!’ I’ve had some lovely comments lately from people who have persuaded themselves to do something because it would be A New Thing, or who just enjoy reading about everyone’s ventures.

April’s theme for my New Things Challengey Group was to do something new in the house or garden. It’s just the time of year for that sort of new thing. Although some of them happened in March and May.

From March (partly inspiring this theme) both Jade and Claire revamped some cupboards. Here are Claire’s:

And Jade’s:

Both Claire C and Emily dug out new flowerbeds – Emily’s is for her daughter:

Emily also tried a new trick – planting parsnip seeds and radish seeds in the same place so the radishes act as a marker to remind you where the parsnips will eventually pop up – and Claire C also started a sunflower competition with her family.

And Emily made this lovely support for her peas on her allotment.


Sarah P sanded and painted a bench. And she went on a bike ride with her daughter for the first time.

Clair bought, constructed and filled a new raised bed planter! And planted it up with yummy veg and salad.

Caroline sent some packets of sunflower seeds to her friends (including me, yay) – they were left over from a mailout at her work. She also planted some herself, but I forgot to check with her whether this was a new thing, too. Caroline is doing a new thing every day in May – check out #newthingeverydayinmay over on Twitter.FB_IMG_1495964399144

Sacha blitzed some plant pots that hadn’t been touched in years and planted them up with flowers.

Alison let her eldest son take over her kitchen while she was out, and ended up not just with some lovely crème brulee but also lessons in how to use her blowtorch that she’s always been too scared to use.

Terry planted a new variety of rocket and Viv planted some basil.

Leona planted seeds in trays for the first time – spinach, spring onions, leeks and French beans.FB_IMG_1493629721275

Jade laid some topsoil and grass seed – the previous occupants of her new home had had a bonfire and done this:

Also this month:

Caroline wrote an article for the International Therapist magazine about massaging homeless people during Crisis at Christmas – this isn’t new but the fact that it got named their ‘Star Communication’ was! And she got sent a free book on Ayurvedic massage. She also:

  • cooked roasted vegetables for the first time,
  • went to a new ballet (Jewels)
  • and was accepted as a volunteer at the London 2017 World Athletics Championships, which means she already has a new thing lined up for August.

Leona volunteered for two hours for the parents’ association flag day at her children’s school, did dance aerobics at her gym, and also did this visit which she volunteered to undertake for a special interest group (a new thing for her earlier this year), and which ended up ‘online and over Twitter which is very cool in a library nerdy way’. FB_IMG_1493629470247

Lauren did her first run commute and enjoyed it so much she did it again the following night. And she bought her first pair of climbing shoes.

Claire C started a new job and went to a metafit gym class.

Jade made some spicy chickpea snacks – says they turned out more like rabbit poo, having been left in the oven too long, but a new thing is never a fail in my book!

Shannon held a baby goat (called Bambino).

Liz and Shannon ran their first half-marathons. And raised over £400 for Mind!

Emily made rhubarb cordial.FB_IMG_1493629663375

Jacqui went to one of the set menu/film nights at our local Wildwood, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

Which leads me on to my current theme for May – doing a new thing that you’ve meaning to do for ages! You have a few days to squeeze something in on that theme.


I started this month planning to go back to doing a new thing each day because I was missing it! I promptly forgot – but still managed a fair few new things, not least because I’m in the middle of trying to sell a house for the first time which has generated many new things, some of them a bit scary and exhausting. I’ll save that list for another day when it’s all over! But here are some of the other things I have done:

  • Made two quizzes for work, for a training session. I enjoyed this a lot. I might start making quizzes for myself, tests on how to function better as an adult human.
  • Responded to a ‘wanted’ ad on Freecycle – it was a handy spot for something I had just been about to advertise.
  • Some London new things including getting the tube on my own! Finally. I first mentioned this back in February last year, when I was pondering how this project was making me get round to doing things I had been avoiding – I’m pleased to see I’ve since tackled some of the others, too, although still a few to do. Other London new things included dinner in Chinatown and tea and cake in Whittard’s Covent Garden Tea Bar.
  • Sold something on Gumtree (I’ve advertised something before but it didn’t sell).
  • Set up voice recognition on my internet banking.
  • Donated a magazine to the collection box in Ely public library (they are passed on to residential homes).
  • Tried the vegan samosa stall on Ely market (I have been back since – they are delicious).
  • Went to a new Meetup group, which was also my first non-fiction book group.
  • Made lemon linguine.IMG_20170423_204210
  • Walked in a new place – Ely Common.
  • Went to ‘Earth Optimism‘, which was a new event full stop.
  • Found a swarm of bees!FB_IMG_1495964367662_kindlephoto-2419139

The challenge for June will be for you (and me) to do a new thing that someone else has done as their new thing somewhere on this blog!