Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Baby Name Tag Challenge

So, a tag that I'd spotted on Tumblr a while back is the Baby Name Tag Challenge. I often
skulk around baby name blogs and apps because when I'm writing, I often use them for finding good names for characters. I came across this tag and thought I would give it a go. 

Note: I'm not disclosing any of the actual names I plan on using for my future children. At least not the first girl name and first boy name I plan on using. There are plenty of names that my partner and I have on the outskirts of our minds that we've not fully agreed on yet. Anways, I thought that this would be something fun to do whilst I currently take a work break. I am really interested in unusual, unique names. After all, that's the purpose of a name in the first place: it serves as a unique identifier. What's the point of having a class full of people called John Smith? You suddenly have to think of new ways to identify and separate them. So here we go, the names I'd choose but not the ones that my fiancee and I currently have planned.

1) Names from the 'Most Popular Names' list.
William and Harper - but I'd never use either. 


2) Twins
2 boys: Harrison and Beckett
2 girls: Enid and River.
Boy/Girl: Harrison and Enid


3) If I could change my name? Alira

4) Four kids, names all have to start with same letter.
Can't pick a letter. This would never happen. I don't really think I'd ever give my kids names that are too matchy-matchy. It's just not my style.  Closest I can think of is Enid, Edith, Ezra and Elodie.


5) Favourite animal inspired names?
Wolf


6) Favourite colour inspired name?
Violet


7) Top 3 boy names
Kept secret, will use

8) Top 3 girl names
Kept secret, will use

9) Favourite celebrity baby names:
Scout (as in Scout Willis)
Ignatius (Cate Blanchett's child)


10) Ultimate guilty pleasure name
Virginia: It's a name I'd love to use but can't because it contains the word 'virgin' and sounds like 'vagina' so bullying would be a concern. 


11) Most hated baby name?
Gary
I also personally don't like it when a baby is named after the father and then becomes Hank Jr or Harry Jr. Give them their own identity.


12) Name based on food/drink?
Hmm... Is this even really a thing? Other than Apple, Gwyneth Paltrow's kid, I can't think of any food or drink based names I'd really like. 

13) Name based on a month:
Juno (like June)


14) Baby name from Twilight?
Jane


15) A baby name that is already in your family?
Cameron 


Find the full list of questions below and feel free to steal it and post your own: 


 Questions
1. List your favourite and least favourite names from the SSA 2011Top 10  Baby Name List. (why do you like or dislike them and would you use a nickname? http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/ 
2. If you had twins, what would you name them? (G/G, B/B, B/G) 
3. If you could change your name to anything, what would it be? 
4. You have 4 children. Any gender. Their first names all have to start with the same letter. What would their names be? 
5. Favourite animal inspired name.  
6. Favourite colour inspired name.
7. Top 3 boy names. 
8. Top 3 girl names. 
9. Favourite celebrity baby name. 
10. Ultimate guilty pleasure name.  
11. Most hated baby names. 
12. Choose a baby name based on a food/drink. 
13. Choose a baby name based on a month.  
14. Choose a baby name from Twilight. 
15. Choose a baby name that is already in your family. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

How To Support A Depressed Lover.

Depression sucks. If you've ever experienced it, briefly or for a long period of time, you know this to be true. Similarly, if you've seen your partner or someone you love experience it, you know how helpless you can feel in trying to help. I've been with my current partner for almost seven years. When we met my depression was, I feel, a lot worse. I'm older now. I'm better at handling the illness. Back then, it was certainly more of a constant, nagging experience and I'd just gotten out of a relationship with someone who also had severe depression so needless to say we weren't the best help for each other. I'm starting to feel better now, but the depression itself certainly hasn't gone altogether. I'd dated people before who were dismissive of my depression or destructive in nature which worsened my mental health a great deal. I therefore feel so lucky to have someone who cares for me and really knows how to handle me when I'm at my worst. It's up to the individual as to whether they want to seek therapy or medication but around that, there are little things that you can definitely do to help someone with depression. From my experience, and from the help of my wonderful partner, here are some things you could do to help a depressed lover.

1) Keep Them From Harmful Activities
If they already have depression then things like smoking and drinking probably aren't making it any better. Try to be supportive, but just try to keep them from doing anything self destructive, even the little things that may seem harmless.

2) Support Them In Helpful Activities
Even if what helps them is sitting under a blanket in complete, comatose like silence and stillness for a few hours. If you can be there if means a lot even if your partner can't tell you. Encourage them to do the things they love. Make sure they eat and eat well.

3) Keep The Place Clear
If you can do a little bit of tidying, this can be very helpful. They say a tidy house makes a tidy mind and whether or not this is true it certainly makes things feel a little more organised. It's easy enough to leave mess, but mess accumulates and becomes clutter which can quickly become full domestic chaos. If your surroundings feel more clean and clear, this may help.

4) Eat Well
Try to have a diet involving lots of healthy food with a real focus on fruits and vegetables and less sugary, salt-filled, processed food causing blood sugar levels to drop and the body to feel sluggish. To fix something bad inside you have to put in something good.

5) Take Your Partner Outside
They say a little sunshine is the best way to boost happiness. Try to get them to go on a walk, however brief. Encourage exercise and exploration. Try and find activities and things to do.

6) Ask Them About Their Feelings.
If they don't want to talk then that's OK. If they do then talking it out can actually help boost their mood. Don't always try to find a solution to every problem. Don't try to turn it into a teachable moment. Sometimes when we're depressed and we just want to offload some emotional baggage all we want to hear is someone say to us "Yeah, that sucks. I love you." rather than "wow, have you tried doing this?" or "yep, that's life. Get used to it."

7) Prompt Self Care.
Remind them to do little things to care for themselves. This can be as simple as making their bed in the morning, having a warm bath, listening to a relaxing audiobook before bed. A few gentle reminders may set them into the habit of doing these little things which may help to restore a sense of order and structure.

8) Banish Their Destructive Thoughts.
In my relationship I've had some really low moments when life around me was getting too much. Even though I have plenty of people in my life who love me that love doesn't always penetrate the walls depression can put up. At one point, when I was experiencing quite extreme suicidal ideation, my partner just sat with me and didn't belittle me for these feelings. My partner, knowing I'm a writer, broke it down for me with a metaphor: 'you have to remember that there's a killer in your brain. It's eating away on the inside and trying to make you destroy the outside. Don't let it make you finish the job.'

9) Smile. Hug. Show Love.
Unless they need personal space, hug them. Give out long hugs and try not to break away from that hug if they're not letting go - you have no idea how much they may need that hug. Snuggle up on the couch under a blanket and just be close. Sometimes just a little bit of human affection can make you feel a little better. If something makes them laugh try to keep making them laugh. Smile around them and try to prompt them to smile. The more we smile and laugh actually can help to boost our mood.

10) Remind Them That They Are Loved.
Do nice little things for them like breakfast in bed, picking them flowers, putting on their favourite movie. Make them cups of tea or cook their favourite meal. Do little things to spark up positive feelings. Sometimes it really makes the difference when depression seems to be taking over.

11) Take Care Of Yourself Too
If you are trying to help someone you love who is mentally ill and you yourself are also mentally ill or become mentally ill whilst caring for them, this is potentially problematic. It can be really difficult to balance caring and being cared for. I feel if all parties in the relationship are experiencing depression or mental illness, then it is crucial to support and love each other but to also consider getting external help through therapy, medication or whatever may work for you. It takes a lot to be someone's crutch and it's even harder to do when you yourself are falling.



Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Alrighty, so my 25th birthday is tomorrow.

Roughly four years ago, I was coming to the end of my university degree. I had spent three years in a big town in Yorkshire and I'd been working and working and working on my degree. I found myself watching YouTube and looking at videos of a YouTuber I like and she was rock climbing down canyons in the American dessert. I had this strong feeling that I was watching someone else live and I myself wasn't out there in the world living my own damn life. I sat down that day and I typed up a list of things I wanted to achieve before the age of 25. Okay, so I'm almost 25.

So, here is my final update on my B425 list progress. I will soon sit down and write a new list, like 30 Before 30: a list of things to accomplish before I turn 30. Here we go... 

- Stick with your pescetarian diet and maybe try going vegan for a month just for the experience.
Well, I am still doing the whole pescetarian thing and I've actually considered trying the vegan diet for a month in 2016. Watch this space. It's something I'm probably gonna have to do a little bit later than expected, but I will try. 

- Make a savings account. Ok, that sounds like a really dull one but in a few weeks I'll be looking for a job and I want to have money to put away for my future that can go towards a deposit on an apartment, paying for a nice holiday, paying off student debt etc. It seems kinda lame, but I feel at this stage it's a sensible thing to do. Even just £10 a week will do the trick, however much I can put in there.

Okay. so this one seems so crazy to me. I started a savings account and very soon my fiancee and I are actually going to be buying a house. I can't believe that a few years ago, I was sat in our tiny apartment, hoping to scrape together the funds for a basic apartment when my fiancee and I are now looking to buy a three bedroom house as our first home. This one really warmed my heart.

- Stand out in public with a 'Free Hugs' sign for at least an hour just to spread some joy. Maybe do it to raise awareness of/raise money for a charity that helps with mental health.

I haven't done this one yet but it seems like a nice idea! Again, watch this space. I wish I'd done this in 2016. I feel last year we all needed free hugs.

- Revisit places that made me happy. I want to travel to the islands around my home country, Scotland, and return to some of the places that have brought a sense of inner peace. I want to be the old me that swam in waterfalls, danced til dawn and even skinny dipped in the North Sea. I also want to revisit Venice. I'd return to Venice every year if possible. There's no place ever I've felt more at peace in.

Sadly, I don't think I've actually been to Scotland these last four years. May have to make a visit. However, I have been to some other truly awesome places.

- Finish at least one novel and seek publication for it. Pretty self explanatory but I'd like to be a published writer by 25. Before you say it - yes, I know how tough it will be, but there is no harm in being ambitious.

As I read this one, I truly started tearing up..... how was I to know that a few months later I would land my first ever publishing deal? My first book came out in 2013. I have the guts of a novel written. I have other ideas and projects in the works too. I've not really finished anything because I've spent the last few years working every damn day to save up to buy a house and a tired brain doesn't necessarily create great literature, but soon.... soon I hope to have the time to write again. So glad I completed this one. You have no idea.

- Try to learn how to make sushi., even just one basic kind.

Haven't done it yet. Give me time. I just need rice, nori and bamboo rollers, right? Hmmm.... we shall see.


- Take up a class in something new. Maybe I could do one each year. Maybe I'll finally learn to knit or take up karate. Or both. Knitrate.

Actually, I took up gardening over the last two years. So I guess that counts as a hobby.

- Get back into hiking. Once your leg is healed, try jogging again.

Okay, so I wrote this one in because I had recently had a severe injury to my knee which has caused years of long term, chronic pain and it has been incredibly difficult to do, well, anything. But I've done a lot of walking and hiking and long walks so I'd consider this a success. I actually went on an uphill hike with my fiancee this past weekend and we met loads of lovely horses. 

- Roadtrip. It seems like a dreadfully cliche thing to do but I'm gonna do it... Straight after I learn how to drive and buy a car.

Didn't do it. 

- Learn to drive.

Didn't do it.  Should do it this year.

- Buy a car.

Didn't do it. 

- Act again. I used to be involved with amateur dramatic societies and really enjoyed it. It was relaxing to spend an hour a week playing dress up with your friends and pretending to be someone else. I may also follow in my father's footsteps and attempt to write a pantomime. Maybe I'll direct a play.

I totally did this one and got really close to directing, I just didn't have the time. 

- Get in shape. One day I'll probably be acting as an incubator to a human being and that will make my tummy swell to the point I'll have little pink lightning bolt style stretch marks all over. I would like to slim down as much as possible and enjoy a few good bikini years before the whole baby thing.

Again, because of the whole knee injury thing, it has made exercise difficult. My knee causes great amounts of pain and discomfort. I have put a lot of work into making this better though. Almost every day in November, I went to the gym to build up strength in and around my bad knee. It's a work in progress, but such injuries take years to heal. I'm healthier, but there is still work to be done. I have actually dropped a few pounds already in the last two months.

- Visit at least one of the following places, at the very least: New Zealand, Australia, USA (preferably for a road trip style holiday), Canada, Spain, Ireland. If you hit more than one, even better. Anything beyond that is just gravy. Also, take more trips/short breaks with friends like Kavos this summer. Find a nice mixture of travelling alone and travelling as part of a group. New Zealand is the most likely at this point in time - but if the changeover is in America, that technically kinda crosses USA off the list for the time being.

I am so pleased to say that this year I went to the USA and Canada. Haven't done Australia or New Zealand but my fiancee and I are actually headed there in 2017 because, aside from just saving up for a house, I also secretly put aside money to take us on the holiday of a lifetime and I am so excited. In the last few years, I have also been to Germant, Greece, Budapest, Italy and France.

- Try your hand at journalism.
Not long after posting my B425 list, I actually was accepted to write for The Huffington Post UK. I just posted a new article there. 

- Write some form of fanfiction, just for shits and giggles

*cough* I did this. 

- Get a job. Any job. I don't mind what, but I do know that I want to be working as soon as I am done with university. How else am I going to support some of the more expensive entries on this list such as world travel?

Did this. Did this a lot. 

- A list I read featuring things to do suggested to write a song and put it out there. I'd like the idea of just recording a couple of songs with friends to contribute to the ever growing monster that is music. I miss singing. I want to get back into singing again, strengthen my voice and my lungs, and record a few songs... maybe even perform them live to an audience.

I have written songs. Haven't recorded any. Give it time.... 

- Get involved with charity again. Do fundraising or donate each month. Something. In this world it's far too easy to forget these things
I've donated to charities and raised money for charities so another success on this one.

- Learn to cook. Ok, I will admit it. My cooking is pretty basic. I've been meaning to try to learn how to cook Chinese cuisine for some time and after university I shall probably try. I'll also look into interesting vegetarian recipes and maybe try to come up with my own. If I write them down I could create a vegetarian cookbook. Ha! Me with a fucking cookbook. It's actually a pretty funny idea. Actually, you know what? I'll try it.
I am so much better at cooking now. Another success. I mean, I could be better. I'm still learning, still improving....

- Try to write a vegetarian cookbook of your own recipes. If no one wants to publish it, which is probably what will happen, start a blog about it.
I have started my notes on this project. 

- Take up some sort of dance class. Come to think of it, future me, you've always been shit at dancing and learning how to move your own body might be good. Ballroom, salsa, whatever. It's cool. Just not disco. We tried that once. We quit after the first session. DEAR GOD, EVERYONE WAS WEARING DENIM AND DANCING TO COTTON-EYED JOE AND SEEMED TO ENJOY IT.
Not done this due to the whole knee thing. Something for the future....

- Try to pay off your student debt as soon as possible. Good creddit, yada yada. Weight of debt forever looming until you do, yada yada. You get the point.
Too busy saving for a house but have made some student loan repayments.

- Start writing/filming/creating short films and sketches. These can be for YouTube or to pursue a career in film. Anything! I'd love to direct my own film or TV show that I had written and was therefore there from the point it was created and seeing it through the whole process.
Tried, wasn't keen on it.

- Take up photography. It used to be something that you were so interested in. I'm not saying you have to do a course in it or anything but as long as you can see something pretty, hold a camera and press the right button it could be a nice way to spend your time.
Done.

- Buy cheap clothing/accessories and modify them, make them really personal. Like your Bauhaus shirt... but better.
Not done yet.

- Read all the books on your "To Read" list. Maybe even do the challenge of setting yourself 50 books to read in a year and get through some of the classics you've neglected, and the books that have been lying around on your shelves for years that you said you'd get around to.
I don't even have to check the list. I'm sure I haven't done this.

- Get back into writing poetry, maybe try and get a book of poetry published. Also support current poets and go to more poetry readings.
I wrote a whole book of poetry and submitted it to a publishing house.

- Go canoeing.
Didn't do it.

- Try to learn how to make proper French style macaroons.
Didn't do it.

- Skinny dip again. Because it's fun and nudity is fun. FUN.
Did it, 


- Go to a gay pride parade or Slut Walk.
Didn't do it...yet.

- Try to get over your fear of needles and give blood. You're Type O Negative. Not only do you share your blood type name with a band, but it can save a lot of lives.
Didn't do it. Still afraid, Damn it.

- See if you can take up taiko drumming. Gotta love taiko drumming. You're shit at instruments but you can probably bang a big drum.
Googled it. Haven't had the opportunity yet.

- Take up a sport, even if it's badminton in the back garden.
Did a lot of running, weight lifting and swimming.

- Get into weightlifting with Hannah and get physically stronger.
Done it,

- Take up bellydancing. It's something I've always wanted to do and I've not done any sort of bellydancing since my poor attempt at it on a coach on the way back to Cairo. That reminds me... if I ever get the chance to ride a camel again, I promise I won't scream a second time round. They're wobbly fuckers.
Didn't do it. 


- Maybe try getting involved with the Cambridge Film Festival again. Last time was so much fun and it'd be a great experience. 
Didn't do it - the internship I did previously is no longer available due to funding issues. I have, however, done a lot of exclusive marketing work in the world of cinema.

- Plant a tree. Somewhere, anywhere. Just do it at least once.
I have planted several.

- Spend more time with your family and pay for it. Take them out to dinner, do nice things and foot the bill. Lord knows they must have spent a fortune raising you.
I have done this. Woo! Adulthood!

- Help your sister revise so she can achieve great results in her exams. I know you were always worried she'd come along and outshine you but you love the little bugger so you really don't mind at this stage if she does.
My sister is almost 18. I tried to help her on exams as best I could. She's getting ready to go to uni now. 
- Host a themed party. Growing up I was known for throwing big scale themed parties. My Moulin Rouge! themed party was still the topic of conversation when I was leaving the town, about three years after the party itself. I threw three big parties, each having a theme. I'd kinda like to do it again. Maybe not on so grand and house-trashing a scale - that Moulin Rouge! party was great but we were still pulling beer bottles out of bushes years later.
Not done it.

- Get involved with local volunteer work.
Hmm.... I wouldn't say I'd really done this one.

- Take up meditation. I tried it in my teens and I probably just wasn't as emotionally mature back then to do it any justice. Even just one or two attempts will allow me to score it off of this bucket list.
Haha - I've tried this one. It helps a little but my mind is too busy. 

- I know I've already discussed cooking, but why not try a cooking challenge? Like in the film Julie & Julia where the protagonist gave herself a year to cook every recipe in the Julia Child cookbook, I'd love to do that. It'd certainly whip me into shape and I could hold dinner parties, maybe get some feedback for my efforts.
Not done yet, but I do own several cook books.

- Further explore your family history to better understand your roots. 
Nope.

- Try vlogging.
Did it, not a fan.

- Study a language. I've already studied French (A* at GCSE level, and then I took it all the way onto sixth form), Spanish (A at GCSE) and I also did Italian and Japanese (both without exams) and I'd like to either learn and revisit one of these or learn something completely new. Languages were always something I was good at.
Gotten back into French and Italian, but not a new language

- Get a tattoo. Well, this one is optional, but you've always liked them so I figured I'd put it on the list.
My skin is still naked.
- Try yoga.
Not done yet. I downloaded some apps and tried for a few good minutes but man, I am not flexible.

- Take photos and create beautiful scrapbooks full of memories. We seem to live in an age where having photos is all about putting them up online. Am I the only non-hipster who truly misses old Polaroids? I want to document this ol' life of mine in general, really. Hence vlogging.
Done.


- Try taking up art. I used to draw, I tried painting. I mean... why not?
Nope. Will try again at a later date.

- Go zorbing/zorbballing or whatever it's called.
Haven't yet but I really, really want to do this. 
- Try to climb a mountain - or as high as you can get with your vertigo.
Haha, not climbed a mountain yet.

- Get drunk at Disneyland. There. I said it.
I erm.... did this one. Don't tell Mickey.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Writer Problems#10: Productivity!

So, this is something I have obviously struggled with the last few years. I have done very little in
terms of blogging and I haven't written much. This is because, when I come in from a long day of work in the office or an eight hour shift on my feet, I am so tired and instantly lack productivity!

We have to find ways to be productive. Different things work for different people. Much like revising for upcoming exams, you have to find the motivation to be productive in your efforts to become a writer.

Here is a list of 25 productivity secrets from some of the greatest minds throughout history.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

My Top 10 Films of 2016.

2016 was an interesting year in the world of Hollywood. At the moment, we are seeing a lot of sequels and the continuation of various franchises. Actually, I must say that a lot of my films were new things or book adaptations or stories that took a franchise in a new direction.

Here are my top 10 films of 2016. Please note that this is based on my own personal enjoyment. I cannot wait to see what 2017 has to offer.


  1. Deadpool
  2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  3. Zootropolis/Zootopia
  4. The Girl With All The Gifts
  5. Arrival
  6. Hail, Caesar!
  7. The Girl On The Train
  8. Collateral Beauty
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  10. Moana

Sunday, 1 January 2017

My 2017 Resolutions.

Okay so following my reflections on aspirations post, here are my resolutions for 2017. Obviously, anything I can tick off of my B425 List is also a huge help.

My goals:


  • Lose weight and get in shape
  • Go to New Zealand
  • Plan wedding with my gorgeous fiancee. 
  • Buy a house
  • Find a new job
  • Read every Anne Rice book (I haven't read quite a few of her new ones and non Vampire Chronicles ones)
  • Write again.
That's it, I think. I don't want to overload myself as I think it's going to be a really big year for me. I want to travel. I mean I have been saying I'll go to New Zealand every year for the past five years at least! At least in 2017 I will do it - and I truly feel that my partner and I need to do this trip before we have mortgage payments to consider every month. We will hopefully take some serious strides in planning our wedding and hopefully, this time next year, I will be writing to you from our very own house. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reflections on Aspirations.

Hello blog.

So... it's been a while.

I can see that my last blog post was posted in the month of August.... in the year 2015. So it has been about a year and four months since my last post, written in a flurry of anger. I must admit it feels like a lot longer.

I am sitting down to write this on the last day of the year 2016. If you could have told me in 2015, at the time of my last blog post, what 2016 had in store, I am not sure how I'd have reacted. So many celebrity deaths, some of which still hurt, particularly the loss of David Bowie and Carrie Fisher. 

In 2015, you could have told me that the following July, I'd be engaged (perhaps I shall post a blog post of my engagement story to follow - it really is quite a tale) and that I would be sitting here now with a stunning six sapphire engagement ring. 

Anyway, 2016 for me was a long year. It was a tough year in many ways. For the majority of this year, I found myself working two jobs at any given point. It would be rare for me to have a day off. However, this was the way in 2015 also for most of the year. Truth be told, I've been breaking my back the past two years working as hard as I can so that I could put away enough money for a decent deposit for a house for my fiancee and I to live in. 

In that time, I haven't written much. I haven't blogged. I've not really had much spare time to develop hobbies and pursue interests. To tell you the truth, I have felt like a total fucking zombie. 

So here I am, a few hours from midnight on New Years Eve, and the topic of Resolutions came to me. I have previously posted my resolutions for the new year on this very blog. So as I was sitting here, I began to think of what I want to achieve in 2016.

Suddenly, I thought of another list I had written here: My B425 List. 

When I was merely 21 years old, about to finish my course at university, I felt that in my three years of study, I hadn't really been living. I had just focused on my studies and had few opportunities to do much around that. So I sat down and wrote a list of things that I wanted to achieve before I turned 25. 


Well that list has been in the back of my mind for the last four years however, as I am turning 25 in just two months. I started to think about the list a lot more. Today I found myself thinking about it quite a bit. I thought to myself, God, it's such a shame. I've hardly done any of the things on my list and soon I will be out of time. I'll have to carry all of those items over onto a list of things to do before I'm 30. Well, maybe it's the Jack Daniel's I had earlier, but as I read the list I found myself getting quite emotional, not only because I have actually ticked off more itms on the list than I previously realised, but that 21 year old me had absolutely no idea what was around the corner.... 

So please, indulge me as I go through my B425 list on the last day of 2016 before writing my resolutions. 

- Stick with your pescetarian diet and maybe try going vegan for a month just for the experience.
Well, I am still doing the whole pescetarian thing and I've actually considered trying the vegan diet for a month in 2016. Watch this space.

- Make a savings account. Ok, that sounds like a really dull one but in a few weeks I'll be looking for a job and I want to have money to put away for my future that can go towards a deposit on an apartment, paying for a nice holiday, paying off student debt etc. It seems kinda lame, but I feel at this stage it's a sensible thing to do. Even just £10 a week will do the trick, however much I can put in there.

Okay. so this one seems so crazy to me. I started a savings account and very soon my fiancee and I are actually going to be buying a house. I can't believe that a few years ago, I was sat in our tiny apartment, hoping to scrape together the funds for a basic apartment when my fiancee and I are now looking to buy a three bedroom house as our first home. This one really warmed my heart.

- Stand out in public with a 'Free Hugs' sign for at least an hour just to spread some joy. Maybe do it to raise awareness of/raise money for a charity that helps with mental health.

I haven't done this one yet but it seems like a nice idea! Again, watch this space. I wish I'd done this in 2016. After a year like this, people probably needed free hugs. 

- Revisit places that made me happy. I want to travel to the islands around my home country, Scotland, and return to some of the places that have brought a sense of inner peace. I want to be the old me that swam in waterfalls, danced til dawn and even skinny dipped in the North Sea. I also want to revisit Venice. I'd return to Venice every year if possible. There's no place ever I've felt more at peace in.

Sadly, I don't think I've actually been to Scotland these last four years. May have to make a visit. However, I have been to some other truly awesome places.

- Finish at least one novel and seek publication for it. Pretty self explanatory but I'd like to be a published writer by 25. Before you say it - yes, I know how tough it will be, but there is no harm in being ambitious.

As I read this one, I truly started tearing up..... how was I to know that a few months later I would land my first ever publishing deal? My first book came out in 2013. I have the guts of a novel written. I have other ideas and projects in the works too. I've not really finished anything because I've spent the last few years working every damn day to save up to buy a house and a tired brain doesn't necessarily create great literature, but soon.... soon I hope to have the time to write again. So glad I completed this one. You have no idea.

- Try to learn how to make sushi., even just one basic kind.

Haven't done it yet. Give me time. I just need rice, nori and bamboo rollers, right? Hmmm.... we shall see.


- Take up a class in something new. Maybe I could do one each year. Maybe I'll finally learn to knit or take up karate. Or both. Knitrate.

With the whole work thing, I've not really done much in terms of hobbies. SOOOOON.

- Get back into hiking. Once your leg is healed, try jogging again.

Okay, so I wrote this one in because I had recently had a severe injury to my knee which has caused years of long term, chronic pain and it has been incredibly difficult to do, well, anything. But I've done a lot of walking and hiking and long walks so I'd consider this a success. 

- Roadtrip. It seems like a dreadfully cliche thing to do but I'm gonna do it... Straight after I learn how to drive and buy a car.

Didn't do it. 

- Learn to drive.

Didn't do it. 

- Buy a car.

Didn't do it. 

- Act again. I used to be involved with amateur dramatic societies and really enjoyed it. It was relaxing to spend an hour a week playing dress up with your friends and pretending to be someone else. I may also follow in my father's footsteps and attempt to write a pantomime. Maybe I'll direct a play.

I totally did this one and got really close to directing, I just didn't have the time. 

- Get in shape. One day I'll probably be acting as an incubator to a human being and that will make my tummy swell to the point I'll have little pink lightning bolt style stretch marks all over. I would like to slim down as much as possible and enjoy a few good bikini years before the whole baby thing.

Again, because of the whole knee injury thing, it has made exercise difficult. My knee causes great amounts of pain and discomfort. I have put a lot of work into making this better though. Almost every day in November, I went to the gym to build up strength in and around my bad knee. It's a work in progress, but such injuries take years to heal. I'm healthier, but there is still work to be done. 

- Visit at least one of the following places, at the very least: New Zealand, Australia, USA (preferably for a road trip style holiday), Canada, Spain, Ireland. If you hit more than one, even better. Anything beyond that is just gravy. Also, take more trips/short breaks with friends like Kavos this summer. Find a nice mixture of travelling alone and travelling as part of a group. New Zealand is the most likely at this point in time - but if the changeover is in America, that technically kinda crosses USA off the list for the time being.

I am so pleased to say that this year I went to the USA and Canada. Haven't done Australia or New Zealand but my fiancee and I are actually headed there in 2017 because, aside from just saving up for a house, I also secretly put aside money to take us on the holiday of a lifetime and I am so excited. In the last few years, I have also been to Germant, Greece, Budapest, Italy and France.

- Try your hand at journalism.
Not long after posting my B425 list, I actually was accepted to write for The Huffington Post UK. 

- Write some form of fanfiction, just for shits and giggles

*cough* I did this. 

- Get a job. Any job. I don't mind what, but I do know that I want to be working as soon as I am done with university. How else am I going to support some of the more expensive entries on this list such as world travel?

Did this. Did this a lot. 

- A list I read featuring things to do suggested to write a song and put it out there. I'd like the idea of just recording a couple of songs with friends to contribute to the ever growing monster that is music. I miss singing. I want to get back into singing again, strengthen my voice and my lungs, and record a few songs... maybe even perform them live to an audience.

I have written songs. Haven't recorded any. Give it time.... 

- Get involved with charity again. Do fundraising or donate each month. Something. In this world it's far too easy to forget these things
I've donated to charities and raised money for charities so another success on this one.

- Learn to cook. Ok, I will admit it. My cooking is pretty basic. I've been meaning to try to learn how to cook Chinese cuisine for some time and after university I shall probably try. I'll also look into interesting vegetarian recipes and maybe try to come up with my own. If I write them down I could create a vegetarian cookbook. Ha! Me with a fucking cookbook. It's actually a pretty funny idea. Actually, you know what? I'll try it.
I am so much better at cooking now. Another success. I mean, I could be better. I'm still learning, still improving....

- Try to write a vegetarian cookbook of your own recipes. If no one wants to publish it, which is probably what will happen, start a blog about it.
I have started my notes on this project. 
- Take up some sort of dance class. Come to think of it, future me, you've always been shit at dancing and learning how to move your own body might be good. Ballroom, salsa, whatever. It's cool. Just not disco. We tried that once. We quit after the first session. DEAR GOD, EVERYONE WAS WEARING DENIM AND DANCING TO COTTON-EYED JOE AND SEEMED TO ENJOY IT.
Not done this due to the whole knee thing. Something for the future....

- Try to pay off your student debt as soon as possible. Good creddit, yada yada. Weight of debt forever looming until you do, yada yada. You get the point.
Too busy saving for a house but have made some student loan repayments.

- Start writing/filming/creating short films and sketches. These can be for YouTube or to pursue a career in film. Anything! I'd love to direct my own film or TV show that I had written and was therefore there from the point it was created and seeing it through the whole process.
Tried, wasn't keen on it.

- Take up photography. It used to be something that you were so interested in. I'm not saying you have to do a course in it or anything but as long as you can see something pretty, hold a camera and press the right button it could be a nice way to spend your time.
Done.

- Buy cheap clothing/accessories and modify them, make them really personal. Like your Bauhaus shirt... but better.
Not done yet.

- Read all the books on your "To Read" list. Maybe even do the challenge of setting yourself 50 books to read in a year and get through some of the classics you've neglected, and the books that have been lying around on your shelves for years that you said you'd get around to.
I don't even have to check the list. I'm sure I haven't done this.

- Get back into writing poetry, maybe try and get a book of poetry published. Also support current poets and go to more poetry readings.
I wrote a whole book of poetry and submitted it to a publishing house.

- Go canoeing.
Didn't do it.

- Try to learn how to make proper French style macaroons.
Didn't do it.

- Skinny dip again. Because it's fun and nudity is fun. FUN.
Did it, 


- Go to a gay pride parade or Slut Walk.
Didn't do it...yet.

- Try to get over your fear of needles and give blood. You're Type O Negative. Not only do you share your blood type name with a band, but it can save a lot of lives.
Didn't do it. Still afraid, Damn it.

- See if you can take up taiko drumming. Gotta love taiko drumming. You're shit at instruments but you can probably bang a big drum.
Googled it. Haven't had the opportunity yet.

- Take up a sport, even if it's badminton in the back garden.
Did a lot of running, weight lifting and swimming.

- Get into weightlifting with Hannah and get physically stronger.
Done it,

- Take up bellydancing. It's something I've always wanted to do and I've not done any sort of bellydancing since my poor attempt at it on a coach on the way back to Cairo. That reminds me... if I ever get the chance to ride a camel again, I promise I won't scream a second time round. They're wobbly fuckers.
Didn't do it. 


- Maybe try getting involved with the Cambridge Film Festival again. Last time was so much fun and it'd be a great experience. 
Didn't do it - the internship I did previously is no longer available due to funding issues. I have, however, done a lot of exclusive marketing work in the world of cinema.

- Plant a tree. Somewhere, anywhere. Just do it at least once.
I have planted several.

- Spend more time with your family and pay for it. Take them out to dinner, do nice things and foot the bill. Lord knows they must have spent a fortune raising you.
I have done this. Woo! Adulthood!

- Help your sister revise so she can achieve great results in her exams. I know you were always worried she'd come along and outshine you but you love the little bugger so you really don't mind at this stage if she does.
My sister is almost 18. I tried to help her on exams as best I could. She's getting ready to go to uni now. 
- Host a themed party. Growing up I was known for throwing big scale themed parties. My Moulin Rouge! themed party was still the topic of conversation when I was leaving the town, about three years after the party itself. I threw three big parties, each having a theme. I'd kinda like to do it again. Maybe not on so grand and house-trashing a scale - that Moulin Rouge! party was great but we were still pulling beer bottles out of bushes years later.
Not done it.

- Get involved with local volunteer work.
Hmm.... I wouldn't say I'd really done this one.

- Take up meditation. I tried it in my teens and I probably just wasn't as emotionally mature back then to do it any justice. Even just one or two attempts will allow me to score it off of this bucket list.
Haha - I've tried this one. It helps a little but my mind is too busy. 

- I know I've already discussed cooking, but why not try a cooking challenge? Like in the film Julie & Julia where the protagonist gave herself a year to cook every recipe in the Julia Child cookbook, I'd love to do that. It'd certainly whip me into shape and I could hold dinner parties, maybe get some feedback for my efforts.
Not done yet, but I do own several cook books.

- Further explore your family history to better understand your roots. 
Nope.

- Try vlogging.
Did it, not a fan.

- Study a language. I've already studied French (A* at GCSE level, and then I took it all the way onto sixth form), Spanish (A at GCSE) and I also did Italian and Japanese (both without exams) and I'd like to either learn and revisit one of these or learn something completely new. Languages were always something I was good at.
Gotten back into French and Italian, but not a new language

- Get a tattoo. Well, this one is optional, but you've always liked them so I figured I'd put it on the list.
My skin is still naked.
- Try yoga.
Not done yet. I downloaded some apps and tried for a few good minutes but man, I am not flexible.

- Take photos and create beautiful scrapbooks full of memories. We seem to live in an age where having photos is all about putting them up online. Am I the only non-hipster who truly misses old Polaroids? I want to document this ol' life of mine in general, really. Hence vlogging.
Done.


- Try taking up art. I used to draw, I tried painting. I mean... why not?
Nope. Will try again at a later date.

- Go zorbing/zorbballing or whatever it's called.
Haven't yet but I really, really want to do this. 
- Try to climb a mountain - or as high as you can get with your vertigo.
Haha, not climbed a mountain yet.

- Get drunk at Disneyland. There. I said it.
I erm.... did this one. Don't tell Mickey.