greenbottletree











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.


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-
    sdr

    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?!

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Oh, check me out, writing this less than an hour before 1st March.  Unfortunately, this exemplary demonstration of organisation and timeliness is not a particularly accurate summary of February and my plans for focus and progress.

(Original list is at the bottom of this post)

  1. Already done *smug*.
  2. I eventually got into my website, having mis-remembered my password, which I argue is different to having forgotten it.  I set the bar low as the achievement of cracking my password felt so real I did nothing more on my website than rejoice in having accessed it.  Does it count that I definitely thought about what I wanted to do with it a lot more than in January?  Weak, I know.
  3. Progress report on a par with last month, ie I’ve changed my work pattern but all that will end in a mere matter of days.  This needs to be worked on with uncharacteristic displays of productivity.
  4. I am writing this from Dubai and spent virtually all of February in hotels where I have indulged in buffets for up to three meals a day.  In summary, I must have meant “gain” 14lb.  In which case, well done me, I’m making good progress.
  5. Overachieving for the second month running, with 365 days of travel and portraits going well due to the fact I’ve been travelling so much, though still a bit wimpy about asking people to take their  photo.  But all in all, one of the few definite successes.
  6. I read The Girl on the Train (the murder element seemed a bit too 1980s familiar but it was an easy read), I thought I’d read another book too but if I did I’ve somehow forgotten.   I’m now reading The  Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (enjoying it a lot but I’m slightly worried it could be disappointing by the end).  I’m optimistic I’ll finish The Miniaturist and maybe even another book.  I’m feeling quietly confident about the reading of 12 books this year, already being almost a a third of the way there.
  7. I’m starting to think I’ve cracked this one as my mobile is now almost always on silent, though I have fallen back into my bad habit of reading messages and mails while walking.  Annoying habit and I need to stop.
  8. Very surprisingly, I did get rid of the five items of clothing I’d said I should do for February.  A more thorough sort is in order for March.  A credible hint of accomplishment.
  9. Again, I’ve been in Doha and Dubai and still not had a picnic, though in Doha I got a bit stressed by all the rules written out along the Corniche (earmarked picnic area) and thought I might not be allowed to eat there anyway (seriously, not exaggerating).  How hard is it to have a picnic, especially being in hot countries?  No, wait, it rained a few days in Doha, it’s rained a few days in Dubai, London and Guernsey have been wet and/or cold so what opportunities have I had?  Does an ice cream count?  No, thought not.  I did eat the top of a lunch baguette while walking in Guernsey.  Surely that counts as a picnic?  Fail.  Again.
  10. I’ve definitely not eaten as much fish in February as January but I’ve undoubtedly had more than usual.  Another success, though not exactly a sense of victory to have eaten a few fish dishes.  I really am setting myself some unexciting challenges this year.
  11. No tax return updates and my current receipt collection is even more disorganised than usual.  Oh well, got a bit of time for this one, sort of.
  12. What was I thinking putting a Christmas shopping thing on my 2017 To Do list?  ie no, of course I haven’t done any Christmas shopping.

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The original list:

  1. One new country
  2. Website with clear purpose
  3. Quit steno
  4. Lose 14lb
  5. New 365 Instagram
  6. Read 12 books
  7. Mobile on silent more
  8. Reduce amount of clothes
  9. More picnics
  10. More fish
  11. Tax in May
  12. Christmas shopping by November


mde

Battered cod, curly fries and lemon pepper dip at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant

It’s 2nd February and I’ve just read my optimistic January post.  I thought that with monthly updates I’d be able to keep in mind what it is that I hoped to do over a month.  I clearly don’t know myself well enough, I need daily reminders!  Hoping for more focus in February, here follows what I was supposed to do and did do in January and what I WILL do for February.

  1. What a start, I stayed in Qatar last month, which was a new country.  Check me out, one month in and one resolution ticked off.  Maybe it’s not going so badly after all?!
  2. Turns out I thought a small amount of progress was likely on my website. Zilch, absolutely nothing, in fact I don’t even think I looked at it.  Big fail.  I will set the same ludicrously achievable aim for February.
  3. Quitting steno wasn’t looking likely for January, likewise February. But for January and February I have taken time off and completely changed my working pattern, so actually I take that back and feel I have done something to alter my working life.  Next month onwards will be the big test for this one.
  4. Losing weight in January, just no. Also, I had one holiday and two work trips so have been away most of January and very much in dangerous buffet breakfast territory.  I have also eaten out far more than I’ve cooked at home.  To which end, I haven’t even dared set foot on scales.  For February, I am currently away from home and will be again later in the month too.  I will go easy on the buffet breakfasts and abstain from desserts (most days).  I do not hold out much hope for even maintaining last year’s weight let alone losing anything.
  5. Totally overachieving on this one! My 365 Instagram projects are for 365 portraits and 365 days of travel.  As I have been away most of 2017, the travel days have exceeded days of the month and I’ve taken a few portraits, though I am far from embracing the idea of approaching people to take their photo, having only done it a few times and otherwise just taken two photos of people I know.  I am confident a habit is forming and these two Instagram projects will continue as planned, though I need to take more portraits.
  6. I read an Icelandic crime fiction novel, Strange Shores, by Arnaldur Indridason, which I should get bonus points for reading while I was in Reykjavik! I am also almost at the end of The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany.  I have enjoyed/am enjoying both.  I should aim high and try for another two novels over February.
  7. Total success. My phone is now almost always on silent and as a result I check it much less and feel less mobile-dependent.
  8. Does it count that I’ve got rid of a pair of jeans that had worn thin in an inappropriate place? No, probably not.  Didn’t expect to start reducing clothes and didn’t.  Oh dear, I did buy some new clothes though.  Right, that’s it, I will get rid of at least five items of clothing in February.
  9. More picnics. I’ve missed some good opportunities for this as I was in Qatar and UAE with temperatures in the mid to high 20s.  I’d be pushing credibility to say that I did at least eat at a few restaurants and cafes sitting outdoors.  I did though!  I did have a breakfast pastry standing outside in light snow in Reykjavik.  That semi counts.  No, I can see I’m scraping the barrel.    At least one February picnic is in order.
  10. To eat more fish, overachieved. I ate way more fish in January than I usually eat in about six months, though aided enormously by a week in Reykjavik, almost two weeks in Gulf states and being in Guernsey for the end of January, so four seaside locations.  I’ve had hammour, cod, haddock, lobster, prawns, squid, wolffish, scallops, mussels, seatrout, salmon, crab.  “More fish” is a bit loose so I’ll aim for at least once a week for February, which sounds a bit pathetic but is more than I’d usually eat.
  11. I repeat my “pff” for having completed my tax return by May. At the very least, I’m sure I could manage to update my receipts up until now.
  12. Christmas shopping by November, I haven’t yet started, unsurprisingly. But, that said, being abroad is a good opportunity to buy a few presents so maybe in February I could stockpile anything if something looks suitable for someone in particular.  But it feels far too early for stockpiling so I won’t let myself feel bad if I make no progress on this.

The original list:

  1. One new country
  2. Website with clear purpose
  3. Quit steno
  4. Lose 14lb
  5. New 365 Instagram
  6. Read 12 books
  7. Mobile on silent more
  8. Reduce amount of clothes
  9. More picnics
  10. More fish
  11. Tax in May
  12. Christmas shopping by November


et cetera