Ten reasons blogging is bad for your health

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1. Everyone knows only narcissistic types that give too much importance to their own views write blogs. So if you write a blog that must mean you are one of those people and if you tell people you write a blog then that means they know that you are one of those people too.

2. You might think you are being original but actually when you are staring at a blank computer screen you’ll find yourself skimming through thousands of other seemingly original blogs to either outright steal their ideas or at least use them as a trampoline to your own inspired ramblings. For example: this post is ripped-off from inspired by AOpinionatedMan’s ‘why my blog sucks’.

3. It’s easy to treat blogging as an online journal type thing, except the beauty of old-fashioned book type journals is that no-one else reads them. On a blog you might accidentally let slip all sorts of secrets and weird aspects of your personality, such as strange zombie imaginings, for anyone to see.

4. There are already so many great ways to waste your time (like reading, watching tv, endlessly Facebook stalking old school friends) blogging is just another excuse to go to bed later than you should do and to waste free time that could be spent on more productive things (like cultivating understand through literature, catching up on relevant popular culture through visual medium and investing time in becoming reacquainted with the lives of old friends).

5. Most bloggers aspire to have a popular blog read by more people than their mum, and want to feel the ego boost of being loved and admired far and wide. However if your blog does actually become popular then you can become a target for jealous angry types (who I understand have brightly coloured hair and live under bridges) who might tell you you aren’t as wonderful as you think and may even use mean words to try and hurt your feelings.

6. Blogging is the ultimate delusion. We’ve all heard stories of people who started blogs and now get millions of pounds a year on the back of their humorous wit and whatnot, but thinking this might happen to you is as unrealistic as dreaming that you are distantly related to a rich prince of a made up country like Liechtenstein, who will die and leave their country, castle and ridiculous wealth to you, because somehow they like you more than any other distant family member (maybe they are a fan of your blog).

7. Blogs give you a platform to talk about anything you want, but some things you don’t need to talk about. Seriously who wants to read about when you are feeling sick, worrying about getting old and the fact you like to eat weird shit?

8. Starting a blog is a bit like buying a pony on a whim. You think blogging will be a fun diversion from stresses and strains of everyday living but before you know it you are devoting more time and energy than you have to spare to this thing you have created and find yourself regularly questioning whether you shouldn’t have thought the whole idea through before just jumping in.

9. It’s easy to blog, so easy that there are millions of us doing this. So many in fact (of the probable-but-in-no-way-substantiated-by-actual-evidence kind of fact), that if you asked every blogger to hold hands there’d be enough of you to circle the globe 300 times over.

10. There is so much blogging advice out there (you shouldn’t write lists, lists are popular, you should only write posts of less than 300 words, if your blog isn’t at least 2000 words no-one will read it, you should post at least every day, you shouldn’t post more than twice a week, etc. and contradictory etc.) that if you try to follow all this you will develop mental health problems.

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The food shaming incident

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Kids can be mean, we all know this and have probably all both been a) the subject of a kid’s meanness and b) one of the kids being mean at some point in our lives.

Let me tell you the sad tale of the day I was subject to the meanness of other kids and shamed for asking for a hula-hoop. For those of you that aren’t British or are otherwise unfamiliar with the snack, hula-hoops are a kind of crisp, they are little potato rings you can fit on your fingers, so both fun and edible!

First things first, you need to understand that I have always liked my food. I’ve also never been a fussy eater and like to try most things, there is perhaps a handful of foods I don’t really like but even those I can eat if the occasion calls for it and it would be rude to decline (if you are wondering these include: fruit cake, normal trifle, marzipan and horseradish).

I come from a family that likes food and would rush to eat our dinners first in the hopes of being first in line for second helpings of whatever was on offer. Trying to distract family members at dinner-time so that you could steal what was on their plates was quite routine. But woe and behold if you got caught stealing someone else’s grub!

Once when I came home late after some activity my parents were out, but my brothers were there to ‘look after’ me. As I sat down to eat my reheated dinner my brothers sat either side of me and the eldest would sneakily take a piece of pasta from one side and as I turned to him in a rage my middle-older brother took a piece from the other side. Doubly mad at the middle-older brother, for joining in the food theft game and for copying the eldest brother in doing so, I stuck a fork in his head. Don’t worry I didn’t commit fratricide at an early age, I didn’t even draw blood, I did teach both of my brothers a valuable lesson and neither has stolen food from me since, or at least not that I know of.

Please don’t take this as an indictment of my parents, we weren’t squabbling over food because there wasn’t enough to go round, or we only got fed once a week and were left to fend for ourselves from scraps elsewhere for the other 6 days of the week. We were just a family who liked to eat.

As I do with almost everything, I tend to assume that everyone else is just like me until confronted with evidence to the contrary. Therefore I assumed it was perfectly normal to show a healthy love of all things edible and to try to get as much as possible.

Capture d’écran 2015-04-09 à 15.02.33The Hula-hoop incident must have happened when I was about nine or ten. This was before, or perhaps the start of when, I became conscious of body image, a desire to look like girls in SmashHits! Magazine and a realization that being yourself can at times be dangerous.

We were eating lunch indoors and I went to the bathroom, when I returned one of the girls, let’s call her Tanya although that’s not her name, opened up a bag of salt and vinegar hula-hoops and one of the other girls around the able asked if they could have one, quickly followed by another girl and then another. When everyone else had asked for a hula-hoop I naïvely asked if I, too, could have a hula hoop? At which point all the other girls, I think there were eight of us around the table, burst out laughing!

It turned out people, or Tanya at any rate, had noticed that I had a habit of asking to try other people’s crisps and they thought it would be amusing to lure me into a false sense of security by following their lead in asking for a crisp, before cruelly pushing me into their devil pit of mockery!

There’s really nothing worse than having other people point out to you habits that you had, up until that point, been blissfully unaware of, but are now unable to forget. Since that day I never ask anyone, with very few exceptions, if I can try their food. If people voluntarily offer me their food I go into automatic child survival mode, sense a trap, and will usually decline at least once or wait to see how others respond before I judge whether or not I can indulge myself without fear of ridicule.

Probably none of those girls remember their lunchtime prank. It wasn’t exactly the worst thing kids have ever done, and undoubtedly I’ve indulged in worse to others, and they probably weren’t aware of the effect it had on me. But that was the first time I felt shamed for my eating habits and became conscious that certain behaviours, i.e. showing an appreciation of food, were not okay. Worst of all though I never even got to eat that bloody Hula Hoop!

Ten reasons it’s easy to be a recluse in the modern era

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1. Virtual social life obscures lack of actual social life

You can pretend to have an active social life, be fully engaged in the latest details of the lives of hundreds of contacts just by posting the odd status update on Facebook or wherever and clicking a few random ‘likes’ here and there. There is no need to actually engage with anyone. Should anyone intrude on your personal space by making a comment on one of these updates you can just click ‘like’ until they go away again. I call this the virtual unreality.

2. If you can’t be a part of everything you might as well not exist

There are so many social media platform that if, say, you only really use Facebook and created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of thinking it’d somehow make your blog cooler there are so many other online arenas you are completely failing to engage with. When it comes to Tumblr and Pinterest and other things you don’t even know the name of you might as well be living in a cave.

3. Fisticuffs over Facebook will lead to societal meltdown, or at least intractable family divisions

I envisage that future wars will not be drawn up over boundary or ideological disputes but over those pro- and those anti-Facebook. Seriously, I’ve had some pretty heated exchanges with my brother about why he bothers with sending words via Twitter and images via Instagram when he could just combine the two in Facebook, he argues that FB knows more about me than my fiancé. One of these days it’ll come to fisticuffs at dawn.

4. Your social life depends on your smartphone battery, so its doomed

If you have an all-out power failure or maybe just misplace your phone charger your access to a social life will die in the amount of time that’s left in your smartphone battery. So that’ll be about two hours then.

5. It’s now so much easier to flake on people

It’s easy to ‘forget’ to actually meet people. Remember a life before smart technology when you used to meet people by making plans on Monday that you’d meet on Saturday at the waterfall in the shopping centre at 11, and somehow that actually worked? Now if you don’t confirm and reconfirm plans at least twenty times you have a legitimate excuse to just not show up by saying ‘I’m sorry, you didn’t facebook message me two seconds before I was going to leave the house so I assumed you weren’t coming’.

6. You can be a hermit without anyone noticing

You no longer need to leave your house. Ever. You can work remotely. You can order clothes and food online to be delivered to your door. You can attend online networking events. You can study online. You can meet new people online. You can even Skype friends and family if you really feel the need to look at someone in real time. Once you’ve mastered hurling your bin bags at the bin collection spot there’s no need for you to actually set foot outside ever again.

7. Too much homework to hold an actual conversation in the pub.

There is so much information online, Wikipedia articles, YouTube videos, virals of an elephant riding a horse balanced on the helmet of a man on a skateboard that if you try to go out in public without knowing what’s #trending you will be shamed into looking like a moron and lose any real friends you thought you had.

8. Cybertourism removes the need to actually go anywhere

Ever wanted to see the Pyramids, the heads of Easter Island or just the British Museum? Once upon a time you had to work bloody hard, save up loads of money and then you could go on an awesome trip none of your friends had done and enjoy bragging about it when you got home. Now everyone has already been everywhere that you can see what these places are like through friends pictures online or using GoogleEarth spyware, getting a drone or just doing one of the online tours tourists attractions are offering. Why get out of bed and risk encounters with the stinking masses when you can feel like you’ve had a productive day by having a quick online tootle around Parliament in your pyjamas whilst eating Marmite toast in bed. No-one can see you to judge the butter in your hair and crumbs on your face.

9. Reading the Daily Mail Online increases fear of the outside

Certain highly reputable yet overwhelmingly popular sites, in the UK it’s the Daily Mail online, I imagine in the US Fox news has some sort of online equivalent, would have you believe that the world is a terrifying place full of disease ridden immigrants, violent immigrants, insane immigrants, volcanic eruption-causing immigrants, traffic-inducing immigrants, financial-crisis-inducing immigrants and just bastard-stealing-candy-from-a-baby immigrants who make the world such a terrible place you might as well stay indoors.

10. Being a recluse is really what everyone wants

Technology has been designed to help people lead easier lives (and also to make us think we need expensive things to lead meaningful lives). Cave men lived in caves, which was great but in the age before technology it was realised it was actually easier to live together in commune to get more stuff done in an ‘I’ll milk your cow you give me a turnip’ sort of mentality. Nowadays we don’t need other people for comfortable lives but we still cling on to this concept so all this great technology helps us to transition away from old fashioned ideas of friendship, family and community and to progress towards single unit living, like the single-cell amoeba we all came from.

Would you go to Mars?

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I’m not sure how this related to Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, but at the latest Geneva Book Club meet somehow the mission to mars came up and was quickly dismissed as nothing more than crazy fantasy for unstable persons.

If you are unfamiliar with the mars mission in summary the idea is that a self-sustaining human colony will be established on Mars. From 2024, missions of four people at a time would head out to the planet every couple of year for a one-way trip. Thousands volunteered for the mission.

Internet connectivity should be available so colonists can keep up with friends and family and so that some big brother-esque entertainment show could be broadcast to those at home (‘this week vote for your least favourite missioneer to get sucked into the universal abyss…’).

At the post-book-club drinks we returned to the subject and the general consensus was that firstly, it was never going to happen  and secondly, even if it were actually possible, you’d have to be insane to volunteer. Clearly I fell into the insane category.  

My fellow book-clubbers already suspect I am a little odd. When asked as an ice-breaker question ‘what we’d most like to be remembered for after we die?’ some replied loyalty, sense of humour, writing a great piece of fiction, etc.. My answer? ‘I want to be remembered for saving the universe.’ Not even just the earth but the entire universe. I added that this was what I’d wish for the future, not something I actually thought I’d already achieved in case their nervous laughter was a distraction technique whilst someone snuck out to call the men in white coats to come and take me away.

You could say I have delusions of grandeur, I prefer to think of myself as just being very ambitious.

I’m not saying I would volunteer for the Mars mission but I wouldn’t absolutely rule it out either. I don’t deny that leaving friends and family behind never to be seen again would be a massively difficult undertaking even if you knew that you could still stay in virtual contact. The hardest part of being in Switzerland is not being able to regularly see loved ones in the flesh and that’s just an hour’s plane ride from the UK. Even with super rocket technology I’m pretty sure it’d be more than an hour’s ride away from Mars and in any case there wouldn’t be the possibility of going back. Ever.

But throughout human history examples can be found of people leaving everyone behind for a new journey from which they never expect to return. I doubt those on the Mayflower setting sail from the UK to the newly discovered America at the start of the seventeenth century ever expected to return to those left behind. The thousands of individuals every year who give up everything and leave everyone behind to undertake the dangerous journey to try and enter the US or Europe illegally might harbour some slim hope that their families can one day join them but probably know the chances of that happening are pretty unlikely.

So there is a human precedent for leaving people behind but the challenges wouldn’t end with those final farewells. The danger of getting there and trying to survive would probably be an hourly toil. So much could and probably would go wrong it’d be like a never-ending sequel to Gravity with nail-biting tension, just waiting for one disaster from the next to strike. As much as they are trying to prepare for all eventualities the planet is such a mystery that they can’t even know what the eventualities could be? Oxygen and food supplied running out are at the obvious end of the spectrum, monster mars sea storms chewing you up and spitting you out into a black hole like an expert pool hustler could be at the other.

martian poolBut, even so, the idea of going to Mars is absolutely amazing and maybe amazing enough to outweigh the negatives. To be the first colonists on another planet is just the tip of the Doctor Who imagined future I’d kind of like to be a part of.

That sense of discovery that must have sent shivers up the spines of those watching the first moon landing in 1969 multiplied into a scale as incomprehensible as the very idea of living on a different plant is really kind of awesome. It appeals to that sense of childish adventure I never really grew out of and whilst I no longer race to climb as high as possible up the nearest tree, that fear of falling has got in the way there, I am still drawn to that hidden entranceway or obscured cave or clearing or whatever presents the opportunity for secret discoveries.

Undoubtedly I’m also influenced by my love of Doctor Who and classic Sci-Fi my dad subjected me to including Blake 7 and old school Star Trek, which makes it probably a bit easier for me to imagine life on another planet than someone more grounded in reality.

On a good day I tend to think I’m both the centre of the universe and an insignificant speck in the history of time so perhaps the idea of literally being swallowed up into the unknowable fathoms of the universe but whilst leaving Earth as a hero etched, at the very least, into the genealogical tale-telling of future distant relatives (if not remembered by all humanity) does pander to my sense of (in)significance.

If I were to go I would fully expect my fiancé to come with me. I mean he came to Switzerland so it’s only right I should expect him to come with me to Mars as well, right?

What do you think? Am I a complete nutter who needs to be locked away for the sake of humanity and/or my long-suffering partner, or would you too be tempted to go to Mars if the opportunity presented itself?

An Image of Youth Unbroken

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In memory of Megan Biddle


Whilst we live, you are immortal;
Apart from us but a part of us for ever more.
To you minutes and hours take no toll,
But march on us, unwanted and unasked for.

Like a flower pressed between
Two perfect sheets of glass and frozen;
You are free of time and yet trapped within,
An image of youth unbroken.

Unconcernedly the world keeps spinning,
Pulling us further and further from you;
It cannot erase what once had meaning,
But takes from us what we never knew.

Grey hairs will never leave their trace,
Although years dispense us this aging gift;
Wrinkles will never crease your face,
But fold in ours the dates you missed.

And when we are blurred, and fade away,
And are extinguished one-by-one,
Your memory will burn bright until the day,
That final flickering image too is gone.

When we too are liberated from our time,
Then you shall move from this eternity into the next;
Today’s sorrow will be redefined,
And we shall be reunited for all the rest.


On Monday I received the terribly sad news of the death of my parent’s neighbour, Megan. Megan was an eighteen year old woman I had known since she was a little girl. Her mother used to babysit for me and my brothers when we were small and when they moved next door to my parents house some years later I had the opportunity to babysit Megan and her brother Jack. It had amused me to think maybe someday she would babysit my children.

I knew Megan as a happy girl, full of love and life and laughter, like her whole family. Whilst I did not know Megan well as a young woman, having moved away by this point, I never saw her without a smile on her face and believe she grew up in the same spirit of happy adventure I knew when she was younger. It is overwhelmingly sad to think that she is no longer with us and I cannot imagine what her friends and family are suffering.

Her friends have organised a paypal collection to raise money for a commemorative bench, festival-style bands to remember Megan and for anything remaining to go to a charity Megan would have liked.

If anyone would like to donate you can do so through Paypal to the email address:
alice-rose.brooks(a)hotmail.com *

*replace the (a) with an @ – Writing it as above limits the likelihood of that email address getting spam.

A year in Geneva

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22 February 2015 was my one year anniversary of moving to Geneva. I celebrated this by trudging through the slushy snow to go to work (yup that was on a Saturday but don’t worry I don’t make a habit of it) and later I met up with a friend for a drink. I forgot to spend any time reflecting on the momentousness of the occasion as I experienced a pretty normal day without spectacle. So I’m using this week’s blog post to consider what failed to register at that time and offer a retrospective on my year in Geneva.

When I first moved here this city seemed so strange and alien to me, so far from ‘normal’ life that for my first few days, well probably first six months actually, I was constantly noting the passage of time and questioning whether coming here was the right move or not. (Parlez-vous franglais per favore, mein leiber dich?)

My first few months, when it was just me, whilst my fiancé tied up loose ends in the UK and prepared to join me, was quite an intense experience. I lost quite a lot of weight through a combination of discovering meat was too expensive to eat and going running most evenings, not because I’m an exercise freak but because I had nothing better to do. In my first flat I didn’t have television or radio so most evenings were spent watching a DVD on the laptop, reading, running and an early night. (“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”)

I strove to make friends and discovered this was a pretty exhausting process when driven by compulsion. If I stopped to think about it I have to admit I was pretty lonely and I needed some friends in the flesh, although was grateful to remain in contact with those friends I’d left behind. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder)

But it started to pay off and relationships that maybe had to be forced a bit in the early stages developed into something more genuine and I’ve met some very cool people. Although some of these I’ve also had to say goodbye to as their expat adventures have taken them elsewhere. And that hasn’t been easy but the great experiences we’ve shared more than make up for my sadness at their departure. (An expat among expats)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found a lovely flat in an area I really like that suits me well. It is close enough to walk to the centre of Geneva but enough out of town to be pretty quiet and it borders on some truly beautiful woodlands along the river Rhone. We navigated arrangements, which were surprisingly straightforward, for the cats to fly out to join me, travelling as cabin baggage from the UK to Switzerland. I had no idea that animals could even travel in the cabin on flights, probably because you can’t do this coming into the UK, but it was a pretty easy process. And with the cats and then our UK life shipped out to me in boxes, my new abode started to feel more familiar. Normality was creeping up on me, gradually seeping into the day-to-day.

I had a period of illness when I felt completely sorry for myself, nothing serious but a flaring up of multiple minor ailments that I was left to fend to myself. Nothing is worse than feeling a bit grotty and not having anyone to complain to about it (that can’t escape from the whinging by just hanging up the phone). I also didn’t understand how the health system worked, but fearing the financial cost of seeing a Doctor I potentially couldn’t communicate with decided to stick with home remedies and sweat it out. Literally. (Why I’m not great with doctors)

I now had the cats for company but Jasper chose this moment to develop an infected abscess and force me to figure out how vets work. However, having someone else’s needs to focus on stopped me from indulging in so much self-sympathy. And not needing a loan to pay for his vet’s fees was a pleasant surprise! (The forlornest looking lampshade)

Jasper lampshadeEventually the fiancé came out too and my world started to right itself a little bit more, although his being there after several months of living apart did take a bit of adjusting to. (The arrival of the fiancé!)

We settled into a bit of a routine, disrupted by a few trips back to the UK including for my best friend’s amazing wedding. (The art of public speaking) And also a trip to Portugal for another great wedding. (Strangers are friends you haven’t yet met) I’d work, he’d job hunt, keep the flat in good working order and cook for me when I got home. I definitely got the better end of the deal.

His job hunting has been a bit frustrating with nothing resulting in paid employment to date but we’ve scraped by on my salary, and spent a lot of time speculating on how great it’ll be when he’s working and we can buy this, go there and enjoy that. A bit like playing the game of ‘when I win the lottery’ just with better odds. Even on a budget though, we still managed to try some fun new things. (The fears we all share)

Christmas and New Years were spent in Geneva. We had a nice time with great friends on those days and enjoyed a leisurely period of blissful nothingness for the days in between. I’d thought it would be weird to have such a friends and family-lite Christmas but actually it was really relaxing not rushing around like lunatics trying to see everyone, and after quite a disruptive year it was easy to appreciate a bit of quiet time. (Going somewhere nice for Christmas? Well, bully for you!)

This year, has felt a bit strange with personal challenges and exciting work opportunities but these have been absorbed into the new normalcy of life in Geneva. (Resolving on a great 2015, The tedium/tremendousness of travelling for work) I’m not quite settled here yet and don’t think I will be until the man finds a job and can start to find his own way to a regular life here. But the fact that my year’s anniversary here was so unremarkable is a good sign. It doesn’t feel quite like ‘home’ yet but it doesn’t feel like another planet anymore either.

Resolving on a great 2015

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“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – Abraham Lincoln

So 2014 has drawn to a close and 2015 has begun! With the marking of another year’s passing there is a medley of resolutions to be made.

Generally, I want to improve my health. Specifically, I’d like to run a half marathon this year, not really because I think I’d enjoy running 22km but more because I think I’d enjoy telling people I’ve done this and because my best friend did one last year and I don’t want to be outdone! I also want to commit to ice-skating on a weekly basis (whilst the rink is open), to be able to stop without crashing into the sides and to be able to skate backwards.

This year I’m also going to work on the long-standing goal of being able to converse easily in another language, an aspiration that has become a tad more pressing since moving to a predominantly French speaking part of the world and realising my existing language skills are really sub-standard. By the end of 2015 I hope to be confident chatting to strangers in the language.

Finally I am resolved to start actually working on one of those books I’ve always wanted to write, to start undertaking some research, come up with character briefs and a developed plot outline and maybe even start writing it.

So there we go, my resolutions for 2015. As I’ve publicly shared them with you all do feel free to give me a nudge every now and then to remind me about these.

I love making New Year’s resolutions because I think it’s good to put a bit of pressure on myself at the start of each year to strive to do just a little bit better. I make resolutions every year, some I’ve kept and some I haven’t, a lot of them I can’t even remember.

From experience I’ve learnt that the more general the resolution (i.e. be healthy) the less likely I am to achieve that so I hope the specific goals I’ve set will be enough of a challenge to push myself a bit harder in certain areas but not so unobtainable as to be doomed to failure. If I tried to simply cut out a bad habit completely, i.e. consumption of chocolate, the chances are I’d smugly manage one or two days and then thoughts of the chocolate I’ve banned myself from ever having again will infiltrate every waking moment until I cannot take anymore and give in to a chocolate binge of Peter Jacksonesque epic proportions! Approaching my resolutions as goals to be achieved by the end of the year rather than behaviours to be instantly changed from 00:01, 1 January takes the pressure off a bit.

A lot of people are dismissive of New Year’s resolutions and I can understand why when we tend to make and break the same resolutions every year but nonetheless I think there’s something admirable in the whole process.

Whilst I think you can make life-changing decisions at any time of the year I think that New Year’s resolutions provide a natural kick-start to the process of self-improvement. There is something fresh and optimistic about the start of a new year, the closing of one year and looming blank canvas of the next. It’s the perfect time to take stock of where we are, to identify any aspects of our lives we might like to see changes in and to think about how we can attain these.

This year was a pretty eventful one for me. In trying to realise my career ambitions I moved country to start a new job and life abroad, away from family and friends. Thankfully my fiancé and cats have been able to share in the adventure with me, although granted the cats didn’t have much of a say in the matter. I’ve tried a number of new things (shooting, rope climbing, running 10km, book-club and ice-skating to name a few) and I’ve met a staggering number of amazing people. Was I expecting any of that at the start of 2014? Not at all. So it’s exciting to think what sort of things 2015 might have in store for me that I can’t even imagine yet.

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This year I had a really great Christmas with friends I didn’t even know last year and rounded 2014 off with a memorable night out on New Year’s Eve which was everything I could have hoped for and really ended the year with a bang (and not just from the fireworks).

Sadly the first day of 2015 wasn’t the optimistic start that I’d hoped for as we received the sad news that my fiancé’s grandfather had died. Whilst his passing wasn’t wholly unexpected, given his age and several underlying health problems, that didn’t make the news any less shocking or upsetting. The loss of this lovable rogue, who I will always remember with a smile on his lips and mischievous twinkle in his eye, has certainly taken the edge off my unbridled hopefulness for 2015 but it has also caused me to take stock of what, and who, really matters.

I remain optimistic for the year ahead and committed to my resolutions but I am more grateful than ever to have the love and support of a number of wonderful people in my life, who I know will make the realising of my personal aspirations that much easier. Whilst it feels good to be able to reel off a list of achievements each year my greatest ongoing resolution is to be the kind of person that can provide similar levels of love and encouragement to those I care about. Although if I can become a proficient skater in the process then so much the better.