I disappoint myself that for December I have not managed to spectacularly end my year’s resolutions with a display of singleminded brilliance, or even a hint of it.  In fact, the only effort I really made was to finish reading a book with less than 100 pages of large print.  Achievement, it transpires, is not my middle name.  However, to my surprise, 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12 count as successes in my low achieving year, which means a 50% achievement rate.  Not so bad after all (ignoring the changes I made to 1 and 5).

  1. One new country  changed, due to unexpected completion in the first month, to 3 times per week at gym which was cancelled due to quitting the gym.  I should have kept the original and smugly written here about not one, not two, not three but four – FOUR – new countries for 2017.  Overachieved.  And then messed it up by changing it to something I was only very temporarily enthusiastic and optimistic about doing.  Rookie error.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  I fear repetition of my “I’ve thought a lot about this” mantra is wearing a bit thin.  No further progress made, except, obviously, thinking a lot about it.
  3. Quit steno.   As 2017 sashays into 2018, no change to my steno status, but I will still be plotting my plan B into 2018 … and probably beyond.
  4. Lose 14lb.  There has been a late development on this in that I now actually weigh about 1lb less than when 2017 started.  As I went up a fair few pounds, this unexpected turn of events almost feels like a success.  14lb would not be achieved without every pound mattering … oh, who am I kidding, I made zero effort to lose weight, hoped it would miraculously come off because I’d made it a resolution and now I’m mildly chuffed for having lost 1lb, which I haven’t ruled out as being a glitch with my scales as there is no obvious reason why I have lost any weight.  Another resolution to drag into 2018 with me, unless I decide to embrace the “out with the old, in with the new” resolution theme.
  5. New 365 Instagram was such a success that I changed it to Write two blog posts per month, which I managed to do for one month, to much self-congratulation.  What was I thinking, changing an achievable and achieved resolution into something far too ambitious for my low-achievement history with resolutions?!  My travel Instagram posts will continue and I should do more portraits.  I enjoy taking photos particularly when I’m away so I look forward to keeping that up.  As for the blog posts, maybe with the website progress will come more blog posts.  Or maybe I’m having an unrealistic burst of optimism for my get-up-and-go in 2018.
  6. Read 12 books.  I read more than 12 books this year, which is marked progress on 2016.  I would like to read more, I’m just not very good at making time to read.  In December, I finished a novella (I am so counting that as one book), The Pearl by John Steinbeck.  It’s a story as relevant and disturbing today as it would have been when it was written, about money and power and how they can ruin us.  I only finished reading it because I felt a need to have finished at least one book per month, and I have.  I sense success creeping into this resolution list …
  7. Mobile on silent more.  This has been habit forming.  My phone is pretty much always on silent now and I expect it will stay that way.  I also plan to stop wasting time checking Facebook as much, probably by going cold turkey from 1st January.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I have had another mini sort-out this month.  I have definitely managed to address the clothes in/clothes out balance and more have gone out than come in this year, which is a relief and, for me, a huge achievement.  Yay me.
  9. More picnics.  I have never spent so much of a year away from home and in hot countries with so many outdoor eating opportunities.  I have also never had so few picnics, I don’t think.  I could so easily have spent 2017 posting picnic photos on beaches and/or in amazing places.   What a wasted smugness opportunity!
  10. More fish.  I have definitely eaten more fish than usual, it just doesn’t sound like a remotely heroic resolution to have done.
  11. Tax in May.   Well, “May” became “September” but September is far more preferable to the Novembers and Decembers of recent years.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Not only was my Christmas shopping as good as done by November, most of it was wrapped then too.  As a result, I had one of the least stressful pre-Christmases I’ve had in years and I was able to avoid the shops and online deliveries in December.  It would be great if this were to become a habit, but I’m not particularly optimistic as this level of organisation was almost unprecedented in my lifetime!

2017 will not go down as my year for getting things done, so I suppose I should muster up some confidence in my 2018 potential.  I have, however, realised that I need far more specific goals in a specified time scale to motivate me.  While all these resolutions are things I’ll want to continue into 2018, for 2018 I am going to set myself monthly challenges and treats, as I did with unprecedented resolution success in 2016.



Christmas wrappingI may actually have been fairly brilliant in November.  It could be argued I bigged up a few achievements but, give me credit, I’ve only gone and done one of my resolutions in time and in an overachieving kind of way.  Oh, yeah, self-worth at an all-time high for 2017’s resolutions.  (Though ignore the first few things, I peak later on in the list)

  1. 3 times per week at gym.   Unfortunately, no gym membership (I know, I know, voluntarily and enthusiastically cancelled) so no gym.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  I’ve definitely spent more thinking time on this one in November.  I also eventually managed to remember how to get into it to edit it, was so jubilant over that achievement that no changes were made despite overriding sense of having progressed this.  Believe it or not, this counts as progress.  I’ve lowered the bar considerably in an attempt to boost morale as the Decemberness/end of yearness sinks in and overall resolution failure looks inevitable.
  3. Quit steno.  “It’s all in the mind” can have so many meanings.  Well, I’ve thought A LOT about quitting.  I haven’t remotely quit and neither do I have a plan B, but thinking counts for a lot.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  Oops, did I forget this one again?!  I need to at least get back down to where I was when I planned to lose 14 lbs.  In December of all months, gulp.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  Quality not quantity …
  6. Read 12 books.  I’ve overachieved this year, exceeded 12 books already, so I shouldn’t feel bad that I’ve not read a book in November … but actually I think I did, I just can’t remember it now.  I did start a novella by John Steinbeck, The Pearl, but haven’t even finished that.  Oh, I definitely did read a book, it was horrid.  Far too dark and deep and full of magical realism for me, though apparently it’s very good, Temporary People, by Deepak Unnikrishnan, a series of short stories that connect about lives of immigrant/temporary workers in the UAE.  Weird, bad dream type stuff doesn’t work for me at all so the important message behind it all was lost on me.  I only just managed to force my way through it and scored it 2/10, though it only rose above 1 because it’s probably more clever than I am, which I felt should be acknowledged, but my enjoyment of it was non-existent.  I can see it is an important insight/perspective into the lives of immigrant workers though.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  I spend far too much time checking my phone these days, it being on silent.  I’m formulating a plan to minimise my mobile phone time for 2018.  I also use my phone while walking far more than is acceptable, but it at least is silent and doesn’t annoy fellow passengers/passers-by; it just annoys me.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  Inspired by my talk of another clothing cull last month, at the beginning of November I had a slightly frenzied sort-out, which largely involved not thinking about what I was getting rid of.  A few days later, clothes already in a charity shop, I realised that I only had two long sleeved t-shirts remaining and a winter wardrobe far too cardigan-heavy for the style I picture myself having.  Then I had another frenzied attack on my wardrobe and took another smaller bag to charity.  I have fewer cardigans now.  I’ve also confronted my love of a few pairs of (very worn, bobbly and/or faded beyond even my creative take on fashion) trousers and shorts with a bout of uncharacteristic ruthlessness.
  9. More picnics.  I ate my sandwiches outdoors, including adding slices of cucumber to the sandwich (I can’t be doing with soggy cucumber-soaked bread).  I’m veering towards counting this as a picnic as there was unwrapping and food construction involved.  I falter slightly when I consider how quickly I ate my “picnic”, though at c3 degrees centigrade who could blame me?  I would have eaten them indoors were I not adamant that a picnic was in order.  Hurrah, I’ve tipped the balance and have concluded a picnic was had.  Oh, yeah, how good is November looking … and I haven’t even got on to number 12, the crown in my whatsname.  Or maybe jewel in my (very dull, tarnished) crown.
  10. More fish.  Definitely more than usual again … I say that because I’ve just, 1st December, had fish for dinner.  Hey ho, I definitely had a few fish dishes, and “a few” is more than some of my pre-resolution months’ fish intake.
  11. Tax in May.  Done, and I even, for once, have my tax money in place ready for January.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Brace yourself, not only have I done my Christmas shopping (thank you, India, for being a great country to go shopping in) but I’ve already had my annual wrapping day with my wrapping-loving friend (don’t feel sorry for her, she claims to really enjoy wrapping and my side of the deal is to make Christmassy food, so we had ginger and pepper spiced soup and spiced biscuits while she wrapped – win/win).  I have a few more to wrap and a few biscuit tin type presents to buy but otherwise done and, yes, I did wrap my wrapping friend’s presents myself, albeit not as beautifully as she wraps.

I have ever so slightly redeemed myself in October, despite some consistent failings, mainly around weight and clothing.  Actually, this list starts off badly, then I felt artificially buoyed by a run of successes, hence the addition of the “slightly”.  I now have the realisation that there are only two months to go before (yippee) I can think up more suitable/achievable/inspiring goals and (oops) to complete enough of this year’s to feel a sense of achievement and self-worth.

Another pool to prove I really have been swimming

Another pool photo to illustrate a gym plan B 

  1. 3 times per week at gym.  I forgot to think of something else to replace my post-gym-world goals.  I still do 10,000-plus steps a day and have been in an unexpectedly large number of very nice hotels with pools so I have been swimming far more than usual.  That’ll do for an exercise goal, indeed that’s as good as it could ever be!
  2. Website with clear purpose.  I would cross this one through too, were it not that I still intend to achieve this.  There’s always November, right?!
  3. Quit steno.  To put a positive spin on what really should be an accepted mega fail, I am doing less steno and I am spending a lot more time thinking of ideas for my plan B career.
  4. Lose Gain 14 lb.  Yeah, yeah, it’s not really a viable goal but it’s what I’m heading for.  I am spending far too much time around buffets, and not just for breakfast (there has recently been buffets for post-breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – I am incapable of walking past snack-style buffets without taking a few, ahem, nibbles).  I need to address this goal reversal, it’s neither healthy nor attractive.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  One, as they say, is better than none.
  6. Read 12 books.  My reading levels slowed down in October compared to September but I read one and started another.  The one I read was only just not chick lit, but it has given me ideas for a plan B job so The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry was a good read and I am at least reading one book per month, which is an improvement on 2016.
  7.  Mobile on silent more.  Largely, yes.  I don’t know that its being on silent has decreased my mobile time though, which is the main reason I wanted to keep it on silent more.
  8. Reduce Increase amount of clothes.  Incoming has massively taken over from outgoing clothes.  This needs to be addressed and maybe November could be the month as I’ll soon be getting out some more wintery clothes, will need more room and can establish whether I’ve worn all the clothes that made it past my last significant cull, which was long enough ago to determine that anything that hasn’t been worn since isn’t going to be worn.
  9. More picnics.  I saw some people having a picnic along a beach in Oman.  They were cooking on coals, had a shisha pipe on the go and a mass of food in tubs on a large picnic blanket.  I desperately wanted them to invite me to join them.  They didn’t, but I felt inspired to have a fancy picnic … though the weather in the UK at the moment isn’t as conducive as a hot Middle Eastern night beneath palm trees next to a sandy beach and the Arabian Sea …
  10. More fish.  I was away for most of August in either Oman or India and I made a real effort to focus on fish and seafood and I totally overachieved on the more fish front.
  11. Tax in May.  Been there, done it … and now just registered I actually have to pay it in January.
  1. Christmas shopping by November.  I’ve done so much Christmas shopping already that I almost feel I must have overachieved on this too, but I’m sure there are a few more things I need.  This challenge has been massively assisted by lots of time off in India and Oman, where shopping is a far easier and more enjoyable experience than it usually is for me.

Stupid idea this, going public with my new year resolutions.  I blame my poorly considered resolution choices.  I should also have kept my positive number 1, visiting one new country in 2017, as I have just made it to four this year, being in Oman, number four, as I type.  It starts badly with my newer number 1.  For October, I will focus on 2018, I think (yeah, it’s really that bad, though I may feel more positive once I start writing this and forgotten September achievements come to light …)

  1. Swimming instead of gym

    3 times per week at gym.  I’ve quit.  I haven’t been once in September.  I hate the gym.  Perhaps I can put a positive spin on what might seem like an epic fail because I gave it a go and now feel I can say from a recent experience that I hate gyms, they’re not for me, hamster wheel boredom, etc.  Oh.  Should I have a new number 1?  No.  Maybe I should resurrect the original one, to visit a new country in 2017, so I can start every month with a tick.

  2. Website with clear purpose.  Oh, don’t be ridiculous.
  3. Quit steno.  It’s not going well.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  Take your pick between duplication of point 2 and point 3 for progress report.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  I think I forgot about this one.  I have at least written this one on time.
  6. Read 12 books.  Would you believe it, I read four books in September so I’ve definitely already read my not very ambitious annual minimum.  I finished one of the most dreadful books I’ve ever been stupid enough to not abandon, I read a holiday chick lit book only marginally better than the previous one (hmm, these almost don’t count as books and I’m obviously not sharing what they were).  I then read Understanding Hoarding by Jo Cooke, which was a fascinating read on a subject matter I can relate to for many reasons.  Then I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, an imaginative story about not quite real events and people, which was exactly what I’d hoped it would be.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Yes, but not as often on silent as it was for the first six months of doing this.

    Minimalism Gandhi-style

  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I am fairly sure I remember adding one thing to a bag of miscellaneous stuff I took to a charity shop.  Oh, wait, how many items of clothing did I recently buy in India …
  9. More picnics.  Refer to my update on points 2 and 3.  Actually, no, I ate my lunch (albeit not quite a picnic spread, as it were) sitting on the beach in Muscat today.  One outdoor lunch is better than no picnic.
  10. More fish.  I had a week’s holiday in Mallorca where you can barely see a non-fish dish on the menu.  I ate fish every day, I think.  I have definitely eaten more fish this month than most other months this year.  Yay, a sense of achievement after all.
  11. Tax in May.  Done it.  It took much huffing, puffing and faffing but I started well on 1st September and somehow finished it and sent it in that day.  Only four months late, which isn’t that bad for me.  Oh, should I change this one too?  Nah, it’ll look good for November and December, right?!
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  I’ve started.  Yes, September, and I’ve started Christmas shopping!  Very pleased with myself.  Not to sound pessimistic but, even if I get seemingly all Christmas shopping done, I can’t imagine in the lead up to Christmas not having a few more things to buy, but I’m otherwise feeling uncharacteristically optimistic!

It may just look brown and bleugh, but this was a great fish dish of crispy red snapper, mango salsa and curried sweet potato mash (Parallel, Khan Market, New Delhi)

Phew, July’s shame has made August’s progress look almost spectacular.  Well, that might be exaggerating ever so slightly but it’s a novelty to feel a mild sense of achievement … eek, I’m definitely bigging my achievements up.  However, I have decided that I chose mainly unachievable, vague and uninspiring things to do over 2017 so how much brilliance can really be expected?

  1. 3 times per week at gym.  Now, don’t be too judgemental that I made it to the gym a mere six times in August.  I was away for two weeks and, quite frankly, I absolutely detest going there.  It’s a friendly gym, it’s not disastrously busy and it takes about two minutes to get there door-to-door, but I have now had time to reaffirm my immense dislike for gyms.  I feel like a hamster forced to run round and round a wheel.  It’s not natural and it’s unbelievably tedious and boring.  I shall be quitting in September.  I will think of a plan B for my bingo wings and well-formed muffin top.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Still lacking direction and discipline, unsurprisingly, but have added a few things, albeit in a very minimal effort kind of way.
  3. Quit steno.  It seemed like a good motivator to make this part of my 2017 to do list.  It hasn’t been.  I have, however, done more very enthusiastic research for a future food truck business.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  I thought I had this one in the bag, with a two-month “upset stomach” (there have been GPs and tests involved and all is essentially ok, fortunately).  Somehow, there has been no change to this one.  Plan B required.  Actually, let me be honest, I’m probably on about plan T and, with just four months to go before 2018, my optimism, not that I remember ever having any, has dwindled at a similar rate to my enthusiasm for the gym.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  Done.  Yes, really.  Two in one month, this one being the third (ah, but it’s September as I write this – but still two in the bag) and another already sprouting for September.  It’s a joy to have success in this list these days.
  6. Read 12 books.  I reiterate, 12 books over the year; I didn’t set myself too tough a goal.  I finished one, completed another and almost finished a third, which was so embarrassingly awful I don’t think it should count as a read, though for the sake of unprecedented overachievement, it’s going to count even though I’m so not going to say what book it was.  The finished one was Delhi, by Sam Miller, continuing my Delhi theme, which I largely read in Delhi and was able to visit a few places mentioned in the book.  The other was a children’s book, Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.  I have always enjoyed children’s adventure stories and this was pretty good, but probably aimed at younger children than is probably ideal for an adult reader.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Another success, but I think I’m checking my mobile more at the moment, which is slightly defeating the purpose.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  Did I really think I’d get rid of some clothes to balance out new clothes I’d bought?  Oh, how I make myself laugh.
  9. More picnics.  Oh, really, summer and I can’t think of a single picnic I’ve had.  Does a coffee drunk on the street count?  Even a bit?  (No, I thought not)
  10. More fish.  Minimal fish consumption, though I did make an effort over two weeks of buffet breakfasts, lunches, mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to ensure a small serving of fish.  I’m actually quite shocked by my patheticness.  Also wondering about a possible link between multiple buffets and weight loss fail.  No, surely not?!
  11. Tax in May September.  On 30th August, I officially started shuffling some papers and assessing my receipt box.  Then I got myself super stressed so abandoned after less than 20 minutes.  I managed the same again on 31st August, though I think I managed nearer 25 minutes.  I thought a lot about my tax return.  This is progress on an impressive scale; it’s the thought that counts.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  I reiterate, what was I thinking making this a resolution for the whole year?  However, in an unexpected twist, as I’ve been travelling way more than usual, I’ve asked a few friends and family about possible Christmas presents from upcoming trips.  In August.  Who’d’ve thought I would update this with anything other than a dismissive eye roll before November?!

cofI would probably best be advised to quit my resolutions (and writing about them), though that’s more or less what I inadvertently did in July.  This is a fail more epic than all the other fails and the fish and chips I snuck in on 30th July were so un-fish-like that I thought it was chicken, but it’ll have to be fish as I haven’t eaten much fish, and, really, that isn’t even the most unachievable of my 12 things.  August couldn’t really get much worse than July … you’d think.

Oh the shame …

  1.  3 times per week at gym.  No.  I’ve been eight times in July, though in my defence I’ve had a mutating catarrh and cough bug for half the month, which still isn’t at all ok, and three of those gym days were while I was staying in a hotel, my having taken gym wear on a trip being a massive first, so kind of double points for that.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Not even looked at it except to copy a link to something within it, which so doesn’t count but at least proves I can remember my URL.
  3. Quit steno.  Oh, it’s not all doom and gloom after all, I have made some good moves thinking about the food outlet I’d like to have, but in fairness this has focused primarily on eating a lot in the name of research.  It feels productive though.  Ish.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  Note above comment about research.  Also, with half the month in hotels,  I can’t be blamed for failing this so spectacularly, though I am actually beginning to hold back on the buffets.  Have avoided scales most of July as I think the results will be fairly predictable.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  Oh, don’t be ridiculous.  Though I feel a glimmer of hope that I have at least managed to write this post at the right time.
  6. Read 12 books.  I read one, City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, which I loved; such a fascinating, evocative and well-written book about Delhi, where I am while writing this.  I started another Delhi book in July so I’m managing the minimum of one book a month so far.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Still a success, hurrah for number 7!
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  Oh.  Turns out Delhi has some great clothes shops.  I’ll probably get rid of some clothes to make way for them when I get back to the UK …
  9. More picnics.  It’s summer, picnic season.  I’m trying to think of anything I’ve eaten outdoors.  I may have eaten one lunch outside.  I am now having to re-think the definition of “picnic”.  I think it should be more of an event than a sandwich consumed from a bench circled by pigeons in the midst of a London paved area.  Maybe I should change it to “More al fresco dining”, which obviously isn’t at all a pretentious way of saying “eating outdoors”.
  10. More fish.  I may have had the worst fish and chips ever this month.  In Delhi, foolishly, I thought I should try Indian British food in India as I so often have British Indian food in Britain.  I now know what disappointment feels like on that score.  Part way through the fish, I actually questioned whether it was fish or chicken I was eating, that’s how bland it was.  And the tartar sauce was hardly better than mayonnaise.  And the chips were salt and vinegar free.  I feel like a discussion was had in the kitchen about what makes British fish and chips and someone said “bland”.  I had some prawns earlier in the month and there may have been one other fish dinner but, really, what a fail, especially if my fish and chips really was chicken and chips.
  11. Tax in May.  Oh, go on, put me out of my misery, I’m sure you can guess this one without my spelling it out.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  See above but more emphasis on the “yeah, right” eye-rolling.

sdrI’ve made a few changes – well, two.  A cursory review of June’s achievements isn’t looking good.  I did feel like I’d achieved something by reviewing my list though, but the issue of the “i”s popping out, hence the jaunty angles, and a lack of letters led to an enthusiastic resignation of further review.  Small steps, right?!

  1.  1.  3 times per week at gym.  I have had gym membership forced upon me (does that sound ungrateful for a birthday present?!) but I do want to get fitter and more toned.  So far, month one, it’s averaged out to at least three times per week.  Good start.  I still hate the gym though.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Ah, yes, maybe I forgot about my website in June.  On this basis, July can only be an improvement, which is the only positive thing I can think to say about the progress of my website.
  3. Quit steno.  I might as well have written “Bathe daily in warm Champagne” for all the progress I’ve made on changing my job.
  4. Lose 14 lb.  Been to the gym, building muscle, appear to have gained a bit of weight.  Spent a week in India, ate roughly double normal quantities of food, sweated a good five litres of water every day and overall my unofficial weigh-in has me a pound down.  It would be a shallow victory to say I’ve succeeded on this front though, even by 1/14th.
  5. Write two blog posts per month.  I probably wrote that intending it for July …
  6. Read 12 books.  I finished The White Tiger, a fascinating insight into lower caste life in India.  This is a really insightful, thought-provoking story and I enjoyed it a lot, despite the dark undertones.  Oh dear, it took all of June to read most of one book.  Not quite the minimum for 12 books over the year.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  While it is still largely on silent, I have recently taken to checking it all the time.  This is almost as bad as having it with sounds.  I’ve annoyed myself by being so phone-focused of late.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  Oh, the clothes thing.  I thought I’d got rid of that one … so, no, I “forgot” I had intended to get rid of more in June.
  9. More picnics.  Surely I had one, it having been so hot in June.  Surely … (obviously another fail!).  No, wait, maybe I should change this to “more al fresco meals” as I have managed that a fair bit in June.
  10. More fish.  I can probably give myself a limp pat on the back, though with emphasis on prawns.
  11. Tax in May.  I got into my self-assessment Government Gateway site.  Don’t underestimate how difficult that was.  Just by getting in, I feel I have made progress (in a belated kind of “oops, May has gone” kind of way).
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  I’m on course to succeed, it being 1st July.  I feel this was a duff resolution as it’ll be relevant in the run-up to December.  Brace yourself for over-achievement in November.

With the odd non-life-changing exceptions, I might as well copy and paste last month’s “progress” report.  I haven’t ruled out changing my resolutions for next month, a half-year reassessment, but going by my, “Ooops, forgot I was supposed to be doing that” mindset with this, the odds are high I’ll forget.  But do note the perfectly timed 31st of the month post, the impressive timing of which I put down to the Bullet Journal obsession I started in May, a far bigger success story than this resolution list.

  1.  One new country.  Been there/done it three times.  Of course I haven’t over-achieved again!
  2. Website with clear purpose.  I got into the website, progress, and I actually wrote something for it, almost unprecedented progress.  Maybe this list is going to go better than I initially thought.
  3. Quit steno.  Yeah, right.  I did look at two job adverts and dismiss them out of hand, pre-empting the dismissal I would have had inflicted on me had I applied based on my questionably relevant experience.
  4. Lose 14lb.  Don’t be ridiculous, the struggle is in maintaining January levels.
  5. New 365 Instagram.  Done/doing travel and portrait posts, though I peaked earlier in the month while I was working abroad.
  6. Read 12 books.  I read one book, White Masks, by Elias Khoury, translated from Arabic and set in Lebanon.  I found its content quite consuming and the detail of a new kind of everyday life continuing during the civil war was disturbing.  Very atmospheric, thought-provoking book.  For my enjoyment, which equates to how happy it made me feel, only a 5/10, but for the quality of the writing and narrative, probably 8/10.  I have now started The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Still doing well with this.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I fear a few incoming that haven’t been matched with outgoing.  I will redress the balance in June.
  9. More picnics.  I was given a cool cool bag for my birthday and used it the next day for a picnic on the beach.  It may only have been one picnic, but that is “more”!
  10. More fish. Four fishy meals in the photos and I only took the photos because of the dishes’ spectacularness, ie I had more than four fish meals but I actually photographed four because they were such good meals, including a home made salt and pepper squid with fried bream.  Definitely more fish this month.  And, ahem, yes, there were two very fancy restaurants there, The Ivy and Cinnamon Club, both of which were birthday treats, I feel I should point out.
  11. Tax in May.  My accountant resurfaced, I have my paperwork back from last year and I am in the process of getting new Government Gateway access codes and passwords.  A suggestion of progress if I ignore the May element.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Pff.

Manama Gold Souq, Little IndiaBy re-reading last month’s post, I am shamed into acknowledging an increased lack of focus and a ten-day delay in posting.  All in all, there is, unsurprisingly, little progress to announce.  This list is seeming less and less productivity enhancing as the months go by.

  1.  One new country.  Turns out this is my most over-achieving goal as I went to a third new country in April, Bahrain.  I am very much enjoying this challenge for the year and I wonder if there will be a fourth new country this year?  Surely not!
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Ah, yes.  Complete and utter fail, down as far as not even looking at it.  Total fail.  Maybe May is website month … if I can remember how to get into it.  Again.
  3. Quit steno.  Oh dear, another clear fail.  I have at least spent a lot of time wishing I could think of a plausible plan B.   Surely that counts for something?!
  4. Lose 14lb.  A hat trick of failure.  I have had over two weeks of buffets and eating out in UAE and Bahrain, but my having sweated as much as I did has at least  meant, miraculously, I’m back to around January levels.  Could this count as a whisker of hope?
  5. New 365 Instagram.  As I’ve been travelling and spent time with friends, I have actually kept this up as planned, so a resounding “phew” in terms of a resolution tick amidst the crosses.
  6. Read 12 books.  I’m doing well, though I’d hoped to over-achieve more.  In April, I read two books and started a third.  I particularly enjoyed The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, aged 83 1/4.  It was an interesting and witty insight into old age and life in a (Dutch) nursing home.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  This is continuing to be my default setting, mobile on silent, though I fear I may be going through a phase of checking my phone a bit too frequently just in case I’ve missed anything.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  19 items of clothing were bagged and taken to charity.  Unfortunately, maybe 10 new items took their place … maybe 11 or 12.  The cull felt good.  I even managed to find some jeans, not that they resemble the pair I had in my mind.  They’ll do though.
  9. More picnics.  Somehow, this hasn’t happened, though I had an al fresco ice cream in Dubai, slightly marred and hastened by it being 40 degrees.  Surely that wasn’t the only sort-of-but-not-really-a-picnic?  I did order breakfast while sitting outside a cafe in Ajman, UAE, but I had to go inside to eat because I got too hot.  But, see, that wouldn’t have been a picnic either, more of an al fresco meal.  It’s different, isn’t it?  So, in summary: zero picnics.  Epic fail.
  10. More fish.  I peaked early, in January, with this one.  I had a delicious fried fish (fish unknown, in Bahrain), I’m sure there were some prawns at some point – yes, yes, I had some prawns in a salad, once – gah, no, that was on mother’s day with my mum.  In March.  Oh, please, how hard is it to eat fish “more”?!  Very poor.  This sets the bar at a realistic height for improvement in May.
  11. Tax in May.  Fairly disastrous lead-up to my deadline.  Weirdly, my accountant has disappeared and I don’t have a few things I need to start doing my own tax returns again.  I do have “sort receipts” on a To Do List though.  Genuinely, this is at least partly an impending failure due to some circumstances out of my control.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  By far the most ridiculous goal of the year, which obviously means this is not even a consideration.  But, as with last month, I am stocking up on a few birthday presents.

The fact I didn’t post on 1st April (it being 7th April as I write) sums up my progress on pretty much everything, sloppy and sluggish.  April needs more focus.

  1.  One new country.  Old news.  Already done, but now thinking it would be good to go for a third new country.  March was not remarkable for its progress and motivation so perhaps best not to aspire to overachievement.
  2. Website with clear purpose.  Probably best to skip this one as I’ll only end up feeling disappointed in myself if I dwell further on the sorry state of my website.
  3. Quit steno.  I have thought quite a bit about this one and have something positive to report.  As I listened to President Trump speaking from his Florida club about the US military action in Syria, I realised that if Trump can become president, I can do anything I set my mind to.  I will be setting my mind to goals far beyond those I’d dared contemplate before so a new perspective could result in April progress.
  4. Lose 14lb.  Oops,  I forgot to reprogramme my mind to “lose” not “gain”.  I have been on a snack fest and the novelty is yet to wear off.  Lessons are being learned.  Tough lessons.
  5. New 365 Instagram.  Progress has been made, with both travel and portrait photos having been posted on my Instagram account.
  6. Read 12 books.  I am so on it.  Reading has increased and I’m even wildly optimistic I’ll be able to double my 12-book target.  That might be a bit hasty, especially as March’s progress was aided by my reading a short book (84 Charing Cross Road – a gem of a book), finishing one of February’s books off and adding another to the list that I’d forgotten I’d read in February.  But, hey, positive thinking and all that.
  7. Mobile on silent more.  Mobile still almost always on silent.  Phew for a resolution it transpires I can fairly easily stick to.
  8. Reduce amount of clothes.  I’ve thought about this a lot.  A day may well come in April where I go on a wardrobe rampage.  If that day comes, I will be brilliant at culling.  In the meantime, I rashly got rid of a pair of jeans and have majorly failed to replace them.  Another lesson learned in March, to replace then chuck, not chuck then replace.
  9. More picnics.  Oh yeah, check me out, a picnic, a non-controversial-does-that-

    Littlestone, near Dungeness, Kent

    count-as-a-picnic, has been had.  One in three wintery months sort of maybe possibly counts as “more picnics”.  Ish.  The photo was taken before the wind blew salad out of the tub and sand into it.  Thank you to my friend Fiona for the fab food and to my mum for the bargain post-2012-Olympics picnic blanket!

  10. More fish.  I probably ate enough fish in January and February to not feel quite as bad as I should otherwise feel for the very minimal fish in my March diet.  A week into April and I fear focus is required for a positive April update.
  11. Tax in May.  There have been issues, surprisingly well beyond my control.  I’m bracing myself for failure, though with a degree of shared blame.
  12. Christmas shopping by November.  Pff, I’ve realised there are too many birthdays to address Christmas so soon.  I also don’t like shopping and, really, what was I thinking setting this as a goal?!


et cetera