A Happy, Homely Holiday

Most of my blogs are usually focused on the future and things I’ve learnt. This one’s not. The Christmas break was so long and enjoyable this year –such that I’ve not had for years and for the first time, I don’t feel that doing very little was a waste of time.

No stress, more life

15697252_1056665667777517_6059869091787251333_nInstead of a jam-packed 7-10 days, regimented to the minutest of details to ensure I met every relative, friend and appointment for their allotted time slot, still finding time for countless other activities envisioned in the previous months – I relaxed. And yet, a lot still got done. In fact, being under reduced time pressure over Christmas actually seemed to increase the activities that could be fit in.

The ‘schedule’ wasn’t rigid and I had time to ‘overrun’ activities. Nothing was missed and everything as much more enjoyable.

The first few days were spent winding down from the term. Mum gave me plenty of space and yet we still got into town to see an old friend and do all the other things we’d planned. I had lots of time to enjoy mum and Paul’s new hot tub(!) and managed to fit lots of sport in.

Christmas day was a dream. We tried the Red Lion pub for the first time on a Christmas day, meaning there was no washing up and everyone could chill. We had time to reflect on those we were missing too, but the fact we weren’t stressed too and that we were all together (seeing almost all of my family) made it easier. Finishing up in the tub with my neighbour, Ross, just topped off what couldn’t have been a better day.

They say everything has a price: well possibly. I’d somewhat heedlessly agreed to run with mum’s club on Boxing Day – a small 9 miles which turned into nearly 11! To say I didn’t enjoy running under those clear blue skies across the Lincoln Heaths though would be quite an untruth.

The best bits

The best bits of are hard to choose (the classic response to any, “how were your holidays?” question), but I really did enjoy seeing so many people over Christmas and New Year. Although I don’t remember much of New Year’s Eve after about 11:30pm, if the first part was anything to go by, I am sure it was amazing!

I even got a chance to visit friends in London. Edouard was kind enough to let me stay at his and we enjoyed a fantastic lunch out on te Saturday. I saw old friends and heard how well they were doing (felicitations encore, Kankou!) on Friday and caught up with so many others, who are also all well, happy and despite being busy, took the time to meet me.

Nothing seemed to go wrong and everything went right. Everything got done that needed to be done, but even though my targets were only reasonable, it was enough.

To say I wasn’t looking forward to coming back to campus would not be true and I am indeed glad to be back now. My first courses have been interesting and it’s been great to see everyone (nearly!) again.

Already the Golden Cage’s intensity is back, but in all the very best of ways. Irakli’s incredible Georgian food (thank you! Georgia is definitely on my list of countries I MUST visit) meant I had to break my sugar-free attempt for another day, and I’m already putting plans in place for activities in the weeks ahead. Nothing has changed and yet everything is better since we’ve been away: I’m looking forward to many a tea (thank you Rafael for the beautiful mug!) and probably a Soplicka, city trips and goodness-knows what else over the next 5 months.

Poland, whatever you have in store – I’m ready*!


*Except for perhaps the-10°C cold every day.

It’s that time again!

Another New Year

Until 1582, New Year’s Day was actually the 1st of March (hence Dec-ember, having been the 10th month). Although it’s really just another day, retreating festive decorations seem to give way to a clear run of opportunity to get to work on new goals and new hopes for the year to come. After the surprises of 2016 and no less than a bit of excess over Christmas and New Year (there’s a reason I didn’t write this on the 1st of January) I’m jumping on the bandwagon with my own goals for the year to come.

Resolving revolutionary resolutions

Alright, so they might not be revolutionary resolutions, but they’ll hopefully be at least a bit progressive! I’m a big believer in time management (I know, sigh), and one of the ways I like to ‘make good use of time’ is to listen to podcasts while walking and running. This one was surprisingly good and struck a bit of chord, given the timing as I took a walk on New Year’s Day.

In it, Laura Vanderkam suggests that we never really lack time, rather we just don’t consider the activity a priority. We can do anything we want, if we want to do it enough. Based on studies of ‘successful people’ she suggests that they are more often than not, simply good at prioritising. Every decision is a choice of a way to spend our time.

She also gives a structure for organising priorities, and suggests that in each of her 3 categories, we’ll be most balanced and happy if we find a ‘priority’ to put above all else in each.

I’m going to try this ‘structure’ this year and see how it goes. If can make good use of the 8736 hours this year, then great. I’m keeping them flexible and not too specific as if 2016 taught me anything, it’s that you can think you’re heading in one direction one month and you’re half way across Europe the next (and that’s great). And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year!


1)     Invest more in people who invest in me

I’ve not always felt I’ve given the people who give their time and energy to me as much in return and have suffered for it. With all of the technologies available it’s amazing how you can still lose contact with people you hold dear but perhaps lose pace with.

Taking 20-30minutes every day to consciously give someone my time who needs it should be a goal.

2)     Listen in proportion to my ears and mouth

I’m more and more interested in current affairs, forming opinions and developing new areas of interest I’d never have dreamed of 2 years ago. But to make sure my view is balanced and that I can make valuable contributions to debates, I need to keep a balanced perspective too.

As my mum told me (and will be rather pleased I’m taking it on board), you’ve got 2 ears and 1 mouth – use them in proportion.


3)     Get my 10km time to below 40 minutes and take at least 10 minutes of my last half marathon time

Perhaps my only quantifiable priority: let’s see if I can sick to the training schedule…

4)     Keep this blog going

Of course (and hopefully the readership!)


5)     Make sure that I’m in a job I’m happy in, where I can truly say my responsibilities make a real difference for the better by the end of the year

Without specifying a particular role, I’m trying to stay open to possibility whilst clarifying for myself what that needs to have, so that when opportunities arise, I’ll know which way to go.

The plan


Steep climb still ahead… At east someone had left a rope…

About 2750 of those 8736 hours of the year will be spent sleeping. Beyond that however, even discounting hours at work (probably about 1800), travelling, eating (1100 hours) and ‘miscellaneous things’, I’m left with thousands of hours to work specifically towards these 5 things. Hopefully 2017 will be full of surprises and maybe even more achievements than those I’ve prioritised above. Anyhow, I’ll only be able to let you know in about 8700 hours/52 weeks/363 days!

P.S. I’d be interested to know what others think/their priorities for this year too.