Things I Want To Do In 2018

It may be a little bit beyond the new year, but I guess spring is as good a time as any to plan the year and set any travel and experience goals! These aren’t big, but that’s the point. Nowadays glamorous travel bloggers seemingly seeing the world for free, access to more and more remote travel destinations has become entry level and a badge of honour. I sense a sort of travel snobbery evolving, so I want to try and keep it real this year.

I have really felt the pressure to see and do more, but my education in slow living is teaching me to try and make smaller, more tangible experience-based goals. I would of course also love to visit far-flung and remote places, but I also want to feel simple pleasure and easy bliss. Life isn’t just one long bucket list, because what if one doesn’t complete every task? Have you then failed at life? Call me melodramatic but it is something I think about. I do have a list of places I want to go and things I want to do, but I also try and find a balance. I don’t have to use every bank holiday weekend for an international city break, or every week’s holiday to sprint off to Asia. It’s fine to dream small, because sometimes big things happen too.


Sleep under the stars

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There is nothing a city-dweller loves more than taking advantage of the lack of occluding pollution when visiting less urban spots. Use a cool stargazing app, I use Night Sky, which can identify the planets and constellations when the phone is pointed towards them. I’m obsessed with the heavens, and have been since I was a child. When I am out of the city, staring up, I imagine what it must have been like hundreds, thousands of years ago. No hard scientific evidence, weather forecasting, news on CNN. No way of knowing if what you are doing was right, or what might happen in the future. There’s a certain kind of hope that lies in the sky, either that we are not alone, or that the gods are watching over us. It’s fascinating to me, and something I hope to teach any future kiddies of mine all about.


Watch the sun come up on a beach

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Watching the sun go down is easy, you fall into it after a lazy afternoon and before happy hour. Actually waking up extra early and watch the sun come up, though, takes extra effort. Dawn is my favourite time of day, as an introvert having the true peace of knowing most people are still tucked up, asleep, is so calming. I always talk about having a lie-in on holiday but still find myself up before everyone else, slowly sipping a coffee on the balcony while everyone else dreams. I’m South African, I love beaches, so combining my two favourite things equals an empty beach and plenty of awesome photos.


Hire a canal boat with friends

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Picture this: a lazy Saturday, the mid-summer air is heavy, and you and a few friends are sipping drinks on the deck of a narrowboat, the length of a canal behind you. This has been my dream for ever, and I do solemnly declare that 2018 is the year I am going to do it. The only question is, what cocktails do I bring?


Have a gourmet picnic

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After years of London living, summertime requires an almost military-level of organisation in order to enjoy even an hour of sun in a nearby park. Tote bags, mismatched beach towels, and a few bottles of beer (never the opener though… sigh) are all we can scramble together in the sprint to enjoy the sun. This year I pledge to get a proper picnic set, ready to go at a moment’s notice, and take some proper homemade food to enjoy outdoors in style. Just add friends and prosecco.


Go on a cooking course

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Bread-baking, pasta-making, you name it I would love to do it. This year has to be the year this recipe-dodger (physically can’t follow them, it must be a genetic thing) actually learns to cook something intricate and fancy. Thai? Tacos? Who knows, but I can’t wait!


Visit the UK’s only desert

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You would be forgiven for not knowing that England has its own desert, and it is located on the south coast. In between Hastings and Folkestone, this area is more famous for its nuclear power station. Years ago only artists, poets and filmmakers inhabited the quaint fisherman’s cottages in eccentricity. However, there is a contemporary architecture scene growing along this portion of the wind-battered coast. The feel seems to be very wild west, very interesting, and promises to yield picture-perfect scenes for any photographer.


See an open-air performance

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I have been meaning to do this for years, especially as London’s Regent’s Park has a not-so secret outdoor theatre showing critically-acclaimed performances. I’m imagining a balmy-but-cooling evening, lots of prosecco, and some fantastic theatre.

At the end of 2018 I plan on re-sharing this list, but replacing the stock photos with my own. I can’t wait for some fantastic adventures!

Blending in and Belonging: a Third Culture Kid’s Story

I was born in urban Johannesburg, South Africa to Irish and South African parents. At the age of nine, the family relocated to suburban Athens, Greece. After a few years, we relocated to rural Ireland. I went from swimming pools to giant forests in my backyard with just a few years inbetween. The countries separate my developmental stages, child, pre-adolescent, adolescent, and young adult. Every move I sought to reinvent myself, but found myself mostly staying the same. The same, but indescribably different.

I have always been confused about where home is to me, I both resent and exploit the eccentricities of my upbringing. When in one of My Countries, I tell people I’m from The Other. I have always wanted to belong, blend in, wave to neighbours in the street. I also like to be the new girl, the blank slate, the one who makes small, silly blunders of colloquialism and translation. I am a walking naughties flick chick caricature.

Learning about bugs, or something

I have reached a point where I have stayed in the same city for seven years, and the same country for ten (gulp). I have itchy feet, wanderlust, and dream of foreign shores daily. Yet I am still here. Here but not here. Always I wonder: do I not belong because I don’t put down roots, or do I not put down roots because I feel I don’t belong? I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer; and yet I remain untethered, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. I too am a Millenial, a member of Generation Rent, does that help me or hinder me?

Actual, barefoot me

I was born into Apartheid, was barely past a toddler when South Africa had her first black president. I have travelled deserts, walked barefoot without my feet touching shoes for days on end, and felt the feeling of nearly drowning many times in the Indian Ocean. I have seen wild fires ravaging parched land, ancient archaeological sites with marble smooth and shiny from millenia of footsteps. I have snowmobiled in Yellowstone, and skied in the shadow of Mount Olympus. I have made and lost more friends I can count; some great, some merely transient anyway.

How can I possibly tell anyone everything I have seen? Everything I know, everything I worry about? People who have stayed in the same city all their lives – with a back-catalogue of friends from playschool to present – how can I possibly compare, communicate? My language is Greek and English, art and Afrikaans, weather, music, starry nights and French and Spanish. I grew up bilingual but also learned foreign languages before both my parents. As a ten-year old my juice stall in a different alphabet, language and currency than what I was born into.

The final question, is can this void in me ever be filled? I plan holidays and I travel. When I travel, I travel incognito, with my local’s disguise. I dread someone finding out who I am – what I am – but what am I? What is it I live in fear of being discovered? A fake, a fraud? Or someone who knows ‘home is where you hang your hat’? Do I try and blend in, or do I open my messy self up for examination?

Do I tell them who I am?

Desert Dreaming: My Arid Landscape Bucket List (part two)

Check out part one of my favourite desert landscapes that I have, and hope to visit!

 

Arabian: Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Wadi Rum Tourism

Around two hours south of the famous ancient city of Petra is the Wadi Rum Protected Area. Moon Valley, a site within the conservation area, is so-called because of its remote and extreme conditions. The seemingly endless peaks and crags present plenty of inspiration for activities. Imagine hiking the same paths that Lawrence of Arabia did years ago?

I want to sleep beneath an endless sky in an authentic Bedouin Camp, and round off an enlightening trip with sand boarding and a camel safari. Wadi Rum looks like the quintessential desert experience.

Stay at: Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp


Atacama: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

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I have always wanted to visit the Atacama – it is the world’s driest desert after all! No bucket list would be complete without some superlative, and the Atacama really seems to be one of the last uncharted places left.

When I go, I want to see flamingoes, vicunas (relation of the llama) salt pans, pastel-coloured hills, and miles of endless expanse. Due to the altitude and lack of pollution, star gazing will be the ideal nighttime activity – no effort required!

Stay at: Hotel Poblado Kimal


Sahara: Morocco, Northern Africa

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Of course, it’s the SAHARA, it has to be on this list. It was the first desert I learned about, and one that still carries so much intrigue to this day. The Sahara is one of the largest desers in the world, covering a large portion of Northern Africa, so provides a near endless selection of ways to enjoy the landscape. My dream thing to do in the Sahara? Stay at a real-life desert oasis by night and wonder the dunes by day.

Stay at: Riad Nomad


Sonoran: Phoenix, USA

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Of course no desert list would be complete without a real wild west backdrop – the saguaro cactus-lined Sonoran desert. Extending through Arizona to Northern Mexico (including the Baja California peninsula), the Sonoran desert has always been a dream destination for me. Unlike a lot of other deserts on this list, it is not completely desolate, but actually full of flora and small fauna. This is the place to hike all day, and camp in a secluded spot at night.

Stay at: The Wigwam Hotel if you don’t fancy a tent!


Viana: Boa Vista, Cape Verde

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A bit of a rogue and unexpected entry, but one that coveniently combines tropical sandy beaches and barren African desert in one handy trip. Off the coast of northwest Africa, a bit further afield than the Canary Islands lie the Cape Verde islands. Unspoiled scenery and an eclectic Creole-Portuguese-African culture make this a little gem, only around four hours’ flight from London. It’s like our own little Caribbean!

Stay at: Spinguera Eco Lodge

A Perfect Brunch

Salon is a small restaurant in a covered market area in Brixton, South London. Self described as ‘fine dining without the fuss’, we put its menu to the test one dreary and slightly hungover Sunday morning.

Outside

You would be forgiven for walking past it without even realising, so unassuming is the store front, I have myself walked past it for the last few years. What initially started as a pop up above an artisinal cheese store became a permanent dining space, followed by the acquisition of a wine store next door.

The vibe is smart and polished, but relaxed and unfussy. Downstairs is a bar area, but upstairs is the dining room overlooked. The convivial atmosphere seems perfect for any occasion, a relaxed lunch with friends or an intimate dinner for two.

Menu

The menu is super varied, utilising local and seasonal ingredients. This is not your typical ‘brunch’ fare early on a Sunday morning, there wasn’t a waffle or pancake in sight. The oat milk flat whites arrived; simple and unadorned, and the food served by the chef himself.

Clockwise top to bottom: buttery corn bread, sriracha, kale and smoked salmon royale, sweet potato hummus on sourdough with confit bacon lardons, and hash browns.

Lemon meringue pie

Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs (we even shared dessert, I mean who has dessert at breakfast?!) but it’s so worth it – and at a fairly reasonable price. The flavours hung on the palate long after we’d left, this is not a meal you want to pop a mint after! It’s really special when you find a spot that really speaks to you, somewhere that you could both see yourself working in and yet also feeling like home. I look forward to visiting for dinner and a glass or two of organic wine!

Desert Dreaming: My Arid Landscape Bucket List (part one)

Throughout my life I have realised I am obsessed with deserts, an arid landscape really seems to inspire me. They make you feel small, yet part of something larger, and provide the gentle stimulation needed to pick up on the subtle nuances that make them so beautiful. I think it all stemmed from my Windows PC screensaver at the time:

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So here are my top picks for arid and semi-arid trips, in no particular order:


Karoo, South Africa

The Karoo is an area of semi-desert in the heart of the South African interior. We recently went on a safari at a boutique game lodge there; and both lost and found ourselves in the short time that we were there. The Karoo is interspersed with quaint towns, with iconic windmills that dot the barren landscape. There are so many things you can do in this area of South Africa, from boutique game lodges to humble motels with plenty of outdoors activities in between! Easy access by car from Cape Town, George, or Port Elizabeth make it the perfect mini-break within a holiday.


Kalahari, Southern Africa

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The Kalahari desert spans South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. It’s even possible to visit the point where all these countries meet! Within the Kalahari is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, where red sand dunes blend into a vast scrub plain full of wildlife and flora. Here, the moon feels bigger and closer when it sits above you at night, and all you can hear are the occasional noises from nearby animals. Side note: we scattered my father’s ashes here, which adds to the air of myth and mystery as he rests amongst the lions and giraffes. It can be tricky to get here, as it is a nine hour drive from Johannesburg, and internal flights to the tiny Upington airport are costly. However, it is worth the trouble and you will not be disappointed!


Death Valley/Mojave, USA

Death Valley was an experience. We camped there, in December, and nearly found out why they call it that in a very long, cold night. Death Valley National Park itself offers so many interesting things to do, including phenomenal star-gazing (seeing the milky way with the blind eye is pretty cool). The rest of the Mojave, running down the southwestern California, offers beautiful canyons, and hills of multiple sun-bleached colours. Getting to parts of the Mojave is fairly easy, and it can be accessed a drive away from Las Vegas or Los Angeles. To see the best bits, ‘glamp’ in Death Valley, or stay in glamorous Palm Springs and make day trips out into the barren landscape.


Namib, Namibia

Wittered Tree on a Dessert

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The Namib is the desert that meets the sea, and remains elusively on my bucket list. I first got curious about it after seeing the aforementioned Windows PC screensaver as a teenager. Namib means ‘vast place’ in the indigenous Nama language, which basically means I need no further reason to visit. There are two main sites to visit: the Skeleton Coast, and Sossusvlei. The Skeleton Coast, or ‘the land God made in anger’ as referred to by the bushmen of interior Namibia, is the inhospitable coastline dotted with shipwrecks from unlucky souls before. Explore that, and then head south to Sossusvlei to view in person the iconic white salt pans ringed with red sand dunes.


Tabernas, Spain

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IES Maestro Padilla

The Tabernas lies just inland on the southern coast of Spain, and is one of the very few arid areas within Europe. The spectacular desert landscape has been the set for many movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, and A Fistful of Dollars. This is the easiest entry on this list for accessibility from the UK/Europe, being less than three hours’ drive from Murcia or Malaga. Keep an eye out on the blog for a trip there in the near future!


Do you think I have I missed any out? Let me know! Part 2 will cover the next few of my dream deserts, coming soon.

Western Cape Safari

Cape Town has safaris near by too! If you didn’t know that, or are planning a similar trip to the Western Cape, please keep reading .

On a recent trip to Cape Town, we wanted to get away from it all. Completely disappear for a few days. I remembered the ‘Little Karoo’ from childhood visits, and thought it’s relative proximity by car to be our perfect solution.

Sun-baked teracotta-coloured sand separates bushes of fynbos like capillaries as we wound down Route 62 (South Africa’s answer to the US route 66) further and further away from the city. We stopped at The Barn On 62 in the quaint little town of Montague, sipping on the most indulgent iced coffees beneath waving banana trees.

Iced coffees in Montague on Route 62

More minutes than I had initially expected passed with our little white VW Polo weaving over dirt roads. The gate to the lodge was unmanned, just a little sign stating this was the right place. There was doubt on my husband’s side that this was the right place, however as the resident South African I took a deep breath and got out to let the car through as I closed the gate behind us, leaving cellphone signal behind. Our little Polo rattled over the dirt, disturbing two Eland buck and causing them to escape across the road ahead of us.

Our arrival at the lodge was accompanied by an immense desert sunset, and the evening improved when we were informed we were to be the only guests for our whole visit, leaving the smiling staff at our sole disposal. As soon as was polite I got into the pool, sipping on crisp gin and tonics whilst admiring the view. Despite being the only guests, we still enjoyed a full dinner service replete with beautifully set table, ending the evening with a bottle of local port beside the fire.

A Karoo sunset on arrival at the lodge

Waking each morning and drawing open our curtains filled me with so much excitement, if there is one thing I have learned about this desert is that you won’t have the same day twice. We had days of blistering heat and keeping to the shade, as well as days where a heavy mist sat just above the low shrubs in the land before us. I still can’t tell which was more mesmerising, and I did not get one opportunity to read my book as I kept finding my gaze drifting over the endless view.

Top and bottom: how just a few hours can give a whole new view

We went for game drives, with morning coffee served alfresco in the bush and sun downers at the top of a ‘koppie’ (hill) for the best view. With all three meals and activities organised by a sweet and helpful staff, all I could do was spend  the time at the lodge in an almost meditative state, constantly staring out at the horizon.

Sundowner view

We saw ostrich, zebra, baboon, eland, kudu, and rare blue wildebeeste on our drives, but most memorable were the animals that approached the lodge themselves. A small herd of impala came grazing by the lodge one morning, and on a short walk around the lodge (with a walkie-talkie for emergencies) we came across a few brave giraffes coming towards the lodge watering hole. It’s one thing to see animals from the game drive 4×4, but is a whole other to spot some elusive creatures on foot and without a guide.

Impala viewing from the deck, centre of picture

Brave giraffes seen on foot, left centre of picture

The desert always teaches me something, I guess that’s why they have such attraction to me. The Karoo tought me about nature and loss, seeing a few old skeletons of animals not able to survive a harsh and long time of drought made me think about the beauty and cruelty of nature, and what might befall places like this with even more intense climate change in the future. At what point does ‘survival of the fittest’ end and extinction start? How many animals have to die before we realise something has to change? I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the answers in my lifetime, but for now this little corner of the Karoo has opened up a little piece of my heart.

 

Let me know if you have visited or have plans to visit the Karoo area!

Day Zero: Water Crisis in Western Cape, South Africa

Earlier this year, the threat of ‘day zero’, the day water stops running from taps, loomed above South Africans locally and internationally alike. Cape Town would be the first major metropolitan city to run out of municipal drinking water supplies as dams are at an all-time low due to a dry winter rainy season.

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Photo via Good Things Guy – Theewaterskloof dam

‘How are you managing with the water restrictions?’ asks every Capetonian I know and come across on this trip. ‘Just fine’, I say. Of course staying within the 50 Litre per person per day limit is easy for us on a two week visit, I mean, we have to right? I have lived in South Africa, Ireland and the UK. I have lived through minor water restrictions; as well as plentiful and low cost supplies. This water limit was for us a part of our visit, but how long would it take before the novelty wore off? Before we were really challenged to accomplish everyday tasks?

In the UK, the average person uses around 150 Litres per day, and I’d say I’m pretty average, so what did it take us to keep within the target?

  • 90 second showers (18 litres), as infrequently as possible, tap off in between for lathering
  • Dry shampoo to lengthen time in between washes
  • Baby wipes for freshening up
  • Showering over a bucket, and using this water for toilet flushing
  • One to two toilet flushes per day
  • Minimising cooking water (baked or grilled instead), reusing water for dishwashing
  • Only fill sink up minimally for dishes and wash as many as possible in one go
  • As few laundry cycles as possible (on average a washing machine uses 50-100 litres per cycle)
  • Many residents have rerouted laundry grey water to use for toilet flushing
  • Using hand sanitizer instead of hand washing in certain settings
  • Using bottled water as much as possible (drinking, boiling food, etc)

Regretfully, a lot of waste is created here in making do with the minimal water resources. Plastic bottles in unimaginable numbers, wipes for face and kitchen cleaning, hand sanitiser bottles, dry shampoo bottles and more. It really struck me as to how stuck we are in this resource management/waste cycle as a society, and how we urgently need to rethink how we move ahead from here.

It’s getting harder and harder to clean the volume of water needed every day, one reason being pollution of freshwater sources (oil spills and microplastics anyone?), as well as seawater desalination being prohibitively expensive to implement at present. I realised while I was out here that this water crisis is not just a South African, nor indeed and African issue. This is something that could happen to any of us anywhere, with increased levels of drought (even in Europe and the USA) being projected in the near future due to climate change.

Two weeks with limited water is doable as a tourist, but we really don’t realise what we have until it is gone! What I’ll take home with me to London is that I, and all of us worldwide, could really reduce our daily household water consumption to help relieve the pressure on our precious water resources.

Could you live on less water? Try following just some of my tips above and let me know your thoughts!

We Came for the Porter: Tour of a Brewery in Hackney, London

At Christmas we were bought tickets for a tour of our favourite local brewery, 5 Points Brewing Company in Hackney, London.

Located down a small cobbled street, under the Victorian arches of a train station is a relatively small and unassuming brewery. Conceived only five years ago, this relative newcomer solidified it’s place in our hearts a few years ago after a particularly memorable afternoon of IPA at an outdoor event at their London Fields warehouse. 5 Points are strongly community-oriented: their brewery uses 100% renewable resources, and is a living wage employer. It’s clear that sometimes in business, small is better.

The selection

The tour started with tasting a selection of 5 Points beers at shared long tables, while members of the team talked about the history and brewing process. This was great as we got a chance to get stuck in and avoid any long lecture-style talks!

The four light beers

First up was the pils, robust and dry. This was followed by various iterations of a pale ale: XPA, pale and IPA. The surprise favourite at this stage was the XPA, or extra pale ale. It was crisp and bright with a citrus flavour and grassy smell. The pale ale packed a bitter punch, and the IPA was a welcome burst of almost creaminess with an almost perfumed finish. It’s worth noting that all the beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized, which is really evident in the strong character of all the brews on offer.

The resident packaging expert talking through the merits of cans vs bottles

Last up were the two darker options, the brick field brown ale and the all-time best: the railway porter. Both had rich, creamy coffee and chocolate flavours but the latter is just dessert and alcohol all in one neat package.

Brown ale

Most suprising was the relative small size of the brewery, the main floor occupying only one or two railway arches. We were given tbe opportunity to walk through the process from beginning to packaging (cans are superior for preservation than bottles due to better blockage of beer-damaing UV rays), leaving me feeling like I could hold conversation with even the biggest beer buffs.

The brewing process, from start to finish

Included in our tickets was a ‘beer haul’, AKA a goodie bag of cans to take home and continue our beer education. Beer homework, if you will. Possibly the best part of the goodie bag was the bag itself, a gorgeous sturdy tote perfect for next weekend’s farmers’ market!

We left having made new friends with two older east London gents, and with an extra free beer ‘for the road’ (I prattled on and on about the porter so one of the tour facilitators opened a ‘spoiled’ bottle for the walk home). The staff were really passionate and knowledgable; promoting an almost dream lifestyle of working with friends, being paid to drink beer, creativity and fulfilment.

Where do we sign up?

Sudden Stranger

A Self-Care Story

I read a great article by Brianna Wiest that really reflected and changed how I think about the pervasive ‘self care’ trend. Here are some of my thoughts:

I had a week off, alone, at home. Initially for myself I had planned sauna trips, gorgeous home-cooked meals, long baths, reading novels, and generally frolicking around like women laughing alone with salads. I was going to CARE for myself, love myself and feel great.

However, what I did this week ended up being way less cute and instagram-worthy. I trawled through the depths of my email inbox to deal with outstanding queries, delete old and unneeded emails (625 – ASOS I’m looking at you), and categorised emails that I needed to keep.

I was alone in the house for the longest time in years (a normal everyday reality for lots of people so no self-sympathy!) and it became apparent that I had to just sit in to the quiet. I booked dental appointments, did university coursework, and reflected on past conversations and situations. I repotted plants that were beyond pot-bound (bad mom!), and made plans to re-seal the bathtub (ok I’m behind schedule on that one). I reached out to people I hadn’t spoken to in a while, I also removed from social media those that do not do me any good.

That all sounds pretty normal, and not really noteworthy. But that is the point. I’ve learned that self-care is dealing with the shitty things that are at the top of your to-do list but the bottom of your priority list, and as Brianna Wiest said, it’s often ‘parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness’.

 


Matcha

This resonates so much with me, because if we’re honest it’s easy enough to agree to a salt bath and have a macha latte and just feel grateful. However I guess the real work is dealing with the difficult stuff, being assertive and your own advocate, working to build a better future for yourself. Ignoring credit card debt, toxic people in life, renewal notices and moulding bath seals doesn’t make you feel better long-term because the weight of this cosmic to-do list still rests heavy in the back of your mind, and eventually they will surely catch up to you in bigger and badder ways.

I agree that self-care is owning up to and reflecting on past mistakes, and pushing yourself to do the best possible in any given situation. Sometimes it is a lie-in if that’s what you need, but sometimes it is getting up early for a dreaded gym workout because that may be what you need too. As Poorna Bell points out, it’s also knowing and respecting your own limitations. It’s being kind to yourself when you’ve scheduled to go out but really can’t face it, and I think a big one is knowing when you need some extra support (a cleaner, a friend, a therapist).


I also loved the idea of ‘building a life you don’t have to escape from’ from Brianna’s article. I think with all the great talk occurring about mental health these days, self-care (the REAL self-care) could be one piece in the puzzle of improving symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. Putting yourself first, and truly sorting out controllable aspects of your life, really seem like a great recipe for calm to me.

It IS easier said than done, but that to me is the point. I feel that sifting through the crap, making the right choice even if it is the harder one, and putting yourself first at the end of the day really proves to yourself that you are worth it.

And yes, you are most definitely also worth a matcha latte and piece of cake after all that hard work.

Finding Calm in Zone One

(My only Black Friday sale purchase was access to a thermal spa for two at the Spa Experience by Better in East London. I’ve been here before, it is a fantastic facility for the price and sometimes is just a much needed way to feel pampered without breaking the bank).

It was in the heat and mist of the eucalyptus and mint steam room (the hottest one-my favourite), where I kind of truly stopped for a few minutes. I know switching off is something I can be terrible at. A couple chattered quietly on the other side of the room, and drops fell from the ceiling where they had condensed from steam. Months ago these things, these little noises, would have me quietly seething. After all, how can I be ‘quiet’ when all isn’t QUIET?

Mindfulness is simply allowing time to pass, without adding one’s ‘stamp’ onto each passing moment

Many times when I was first starting out, I really struggled with background noise, with closing my eyes which allowed thoughts to race through my head. The more that appeared, the more I would assume failure.

I feel my study of mindfulness/meditation has helped me find a place, that place in my chest, where I can place my awareness and allow the noises to be where they are. And it struck me that all mindfulness and meditation are is simply allowing time to pass, without adding one’s ‘stamp’ onto each passing moment.

Every time we try to control a moment, or do something else, or try and extract every bit of value from something (what I’m guilty of the other 99% of my day) is akin to us trying to add our own stamp to time. Ro almost own it. This feels something we do, without realising, from a place of ego.

Why must we attempt to own every second? To fill each hour with long to-do lists of tasks we should do and people we ought to see. There is a certain beauty in movies unwatched, laundry unironed, and simply feeling time pass by.

Two great challenges to feel this slow ticking of time, the universal heartbeat are to:

  1. Enjoy a lazy lunch deal in a restarant with no entertainment, taste your food, and let the natural progress of the meal be your only clock.
  2. Like I did, try and find a sauna or steam room somewhere. A garden or beach would also work perfectly. Place your awareness in what I imagine to be an elevator from your head down into your chest, at your heart chakra, and let those thoughts pass through your mind unanswered.

So there I was, not being perfect, not being a zen master, but simply allowing thoughts and time to pass.

As it will always continue to do, regardless.