Grateful for a Guest Blogger

I’d like to think I’m pretty good at being complimentary about other people, but I doubt I’m alone in having difficulty blowing my own trumpet a lot of the time. I think a lot of us probably have that internal nagging voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that everyone’s looking at us, that we haven’t done the best we could have done. And that’s not nice.

But reading the recent press questioning the public’s apparent dislike of ‘confident’ women such as Strictly’s Alexandra Burke and X Factor’s Grace, it’s no surprise that we feel like we should put ourselves down before building ourselves up. It comes back to the idea built upon age-old, inherent stereotypes that women are ‘bossy’ whilst men are ‘assertive’; women are ‘smug’ whilst men are ‘confident’. Why do we have such a problem with liking ourselves?!

My physio (who, by his own admission is not a normal physio) is a big advocate of being your own best friend; sees a lot of correlation between physical pain and how we feel about ourselves. He recently asked me to undertake the slightly unusual exercise of asking my friends what they like about me. Not exactly a normal or comfortable question to ask, but I received a wide range of responses, all equally lovely. One friend said “your eyebrows”, and I will absolutely take that! But my good friend Julia went above and beyond; provided me with a whole article’s worth of compliments that made me absolutely bawl my eyes out.

So I thought I would share that here…

SENSE OF HUMOUR

You are incredibly funny, and not sure if you realise it. You regularly have me chuckling away, and have a way of phrasing things that is just perfectly timed. I’ve laughed so much with you and know you can always bring light to any situation.

BRAVERY AND STRENGTH

I’ve yet to meet anyone (and don’t think I ever will) who has handled pain and grief with such dignity and bravery as you have. Rarely getting upset and having those moments that most of us would have, it’s so incredibly amazing how you handle things, which shows such strength of character. Strength I don’t think you consider yourself to have. I’m always in constant battle with myself about whether I did enough for you, am I mentioning my own Mum too much, focusing to try and make things normal or is that the wrong thing. It’s so lovely hearing you talk fondly about your mum, whether it through childhood, past experiences or just the odd reference. You’ve always got on and focused on the positives like family, which is so unbelievably admirable. You show incredible strength for your Dad.

SENSE OF FAMILY AND SUPPORTIVENESS

Your support for your family is incredible, with unwavering loyalty and love. Always a happy atmosphere and getting along, with such fun times had every time you go home. This is a rare commodity and you are so supportive to all of your family members.

ASSERTIVENESS

You are very good at your job;this is really clear and you always come home with stories where I can tell that you are clear and concise with what you want to do and where you want to be. Everyone respects you and trusts you implicitly.

FRIENDLINESS AND KINDNESS

Everyone I know enjoys your company because you are kind and great fun to be around. Always up for an adventure, I’ve enjoyed so many of our trips together. Doing little things like leaving me a note welcoming me back after a trip is so thoughtful and kind. You’re a great friend.

The fact that you have been bridesmaid a few times now is also testament to that!

ELOQUENT AND INTELLIGENT

You have an amazing way with words! You should be a writer, and I fully back and support you on that! Always eager to read the next book and broaden your horizons. Extremely intelligent about life and current affairs.

GREAT LISTENER

You are always incredibly patient and listen to my many many moanings! You’ll always humour me when I come back with the next ridiculous story or drama no matter how silly it may seem. And you chip in with great support and feedback; I value this so much and it’s a tough trait to master.

GREAT FUN AND GREAT HOUSEMATE

We have so much fun and I love our post day catch ups over the latest Netflix drama! If we stay awake that is! Never any judgement over any aspect of life or anything at all!

Right, pep talk time! I’m also going to say that I think you have so much to be confident about, and it makes me upset to see you doubting yourself at times and worried about what everyone thinks about you (we all do don’t we!) You are stronger than you think, you really are. Go into a crowd and not worry that you think people are looking at you, take that leap of faith and challenge your independence. I’d like to leave you with the motto ‘what’s the worst that could happen’?!

You’ve accomplished so much in your life and should be proud of that. Try not to let negative thoughts creep in, know that I (and all of us) believe in you as a person and how great you are. Sometimes you just need to hear this from people: please let this be a boost to your confidence and clear any self-doubt. Always your biggest champion and I’ll always be there to support you in everything.

[Pause for a Noah’s Ark-esque flood of tears…]

I was so taken aback by how wonderful that list was to read, and by the fact that Julia had taken the time to write it. I’m so lucky to have people in my life who appreciate me.

I didn’t share this so you could all see what a wonderful person I am (well, okay, maybe 1% of me did), but to share the importance of recognising the good in ourselves, of seeing the wonderful things as well as the flaws.

So give it a go: ask your friends and family what they like about you. I guarantee they’ll all have something lovely to say. And now the hard part (and I’m talking to myself here): believe it! Let’s try and be our own best friends in 2018. Because,to quote the great philosopher RuPaul Charles, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?!”.

Advertisements

Grateful for Temperate Climes

Having spent the morning walking around in a state of perpetual fear, attempting to a) not fall over (no Clare, trainers are not a suitable choice of footwear when it’s 1 degree and snowing, even if we are in London) and b) not freeze my fingers off (ever heard of gloves, Preece?), I am genuinely grateful that this massive great pain in the guise of something magical and exciting only arrives once or twice a year. There we go, I’ve said it: I am not a fan of snow. (Come on guys, give me a break; this is post number 50 in a year of being grateful – grant me some artistic licence here, please).

Of course snow hasn’t always been such a cause of anguish for me. I remember many a happy childhood snow day: sent home from school, unsuitable patent shoes plodding across the cotton-wool blanket of the playground to build a snowman in the back garden (if I had it, I would insert a photo of myself and my school best friend Becci Hemming wearing our new “snoods” whilst posing next to said snowman here); waking up to the pure thrill of news that school was closed again; being allowed a special hot chocolate just because it was so cold outside. Snow isn’t such an issue when you don’t have to worry about getting yourself anywhere, and you’ve got parents who will ensure you’re wearing the adequate 47 layers to stay warm.

And yes, of course that feeling of waking up to a silent, ice-covered world will always be a little bit magical, a little bit ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. But these were the days before social media. Now, has it really even snowed if every single one of your Facebook friends hasn’t posted a photo of their back garden with the obligatory 1 inch of snow on the bird table? I sound like I’m being a massive scrooge here; I’m really not (I hope) and I have no doubt that if I had a child in my life I would be loving wrapping them up in a Michelin-man snowsuit and capturing their first experience of the snow. But I don’t, so all I’m thinking is: will my train be running tomorrow, what footwear is going to adequately protect my delicate tootsies, and how do I prevent a day of the world’s flattest hat-hair whilst stopping my head from evaporating into the cold?!

Perhaps it’s only since I’ve become a superficial person who cares too much about what I look like that snow has become a real source of inconvenience over anything else. I remember it snowing when I was in college and feeling so furious at my father for daring to suggest I should wear walking boots rather than my usual canvas Dunlop trainers and ridiculous flared jeans. How dare he force me to wear something so deeply unfashionable?! What if somebody saw me and realised that I wasn’t as cool as they had initially thought?! (In hindsight, you’ll be shocked to hear that I was on no level cool anyway, and walking boots would of course have done nothing to help or hinder this image). I must pause here to give a shout out to my fellow unsuitably-shod friend, who wore sparkly ballet pumps to walk all the way home from work after abandoning her car in the snow one year. Shockingly she still has all her toes. You know who you are!

img_1035

At uni, myself and my friends would choose to go out to clubs in the depths of winter without a coat, rather than pay the extortionate warmth-tax of £1 to put a coat in the cloakroom. Were they insane?! We’re not made of money you know. In fact, that’s probably why I still don’t own a house age 31: cloakroom fees. (Honestly, I have no logical explanation for that: we were simply ridiculous).

The thing is, despite moaning when it’s cold and moaning when it’s hot, I do feel genuinely luckily to live in such a moderate climate for the most part. And in all seriousness, having heard the tales of my friends who were living in the British Virgin Islands when Hurricane Irma hit earlier this year, we should really be grateful that the most we generally have to worry about weather-wise in the UK is a few flakes of snow or one or two days above 30 degrees.

I guess if I lived somewhere colder, I’d be used to it and I wouldn’t moan so much. But hey, here we are and I’m moaning about snow. But we’re all about being grateful here, so if you love the snow, then I love your love for it. However, I’ll be loving it from inside my flat with the heating on full blast and the curtains shut. Anyone got a spare balaclava I can borrow for my journey to work tomorrow?

img_1037

Grateful for These Bundles of Joy

Before this year, I have never really known any babies very well. The youngest person in our family is my 28 year old cousin, so with the exception of my 4 year old dog-nice, Kim (I’m not being incredibly rude here, she’s actually a dog), I’ve had very minimal exposure to non-adults. Here’s a picture of Kim just in case you don’t believe me, because let’s be honest: any excuse to post a picture of this angel face. Anyway, back to the human babies.

My friend Rie was the first of mine to give birth in 2015, and I’ll never forget meeting baby Oliver at just a few weeks old – the tiniest, most amazing little thing I had ever held. Because we don’t live in the same city, I’ve seen only snippets of Oliver’s first two years in person – from a bouncing baby on his mother’s knee as she casually ate a full meal one-handed (a technique I’ve learned is essential to all parents), to a little dressing-gowned toddler who cried at the sight of my terrifying face (it has that impact on people), to a confident two year old who couldn’t wait to show me his toy cars. They sure change fast when you only see them a couple of times a year!

This year I have been lucky enough to have not one but two new babies in my life, and it’s honestly been the most fantastic thing getting to know them and see them grow (clearly nowhere near as fantastic as having one of your own, but I’ll take what I can get at the moment!).

My friend Becky gave birth to Joshua in February and I remember being so taken aback by how tiny he was, I couldn’t stop staring at him. He was just the littlest human being I had ever laid my eyes upon, and totally perfect in every single way. I could have held him forever that first day I met him. We forgot to take any pictures because we were just so transfixed.

Shortly after, my friend Robyn gave birth to baby Mollie, another teeny tiny baby; a dainty little princess who I met at just under a week old. What an honour to share in such an early moment with Robyn and Simon.

Since then, I have been lucky enough to see both of these bundles of joy (as well as their lovely parents) on a regular basis, and they have brought me so many smiles and so many special new experiences. The thing that has always taken me aback (apart from their tininess, can you tell I’m always amazed by how tiny babies are?!) is how naturally parenting seems to have come to my friends, even if they don’t think so themselves. I’m just in awe of how both Robyn and Becky have simply known what to do: the casual swing of the car seat into the car, the miraculous rocking of the baby to sleep, the relaxed conversation whilst feeding/bathing/changing a nappy, and the ability to carry on with your day like a sane human being, on less than three hours’ sleep. They’ll argue with me and say that’s not the case, but it’s been truly lovely to watch.

So I couldn’t get through this year without sharing my gratitude for the beautiful friends who let me into the lives of their beautiful babies. It has been so special to share in these new chapters in my friends’ lives, to see their babies grow and to watch them flourish as mothers.

My Baby Highlights of 2018

Pushing a pram – “Imagine if people think this is my baby!” I think.

Bedtime stories – Robyn and Simon love to embarrass whoever is visiting their house by encouraging them to perform a monologue from a children’s book, seemingly under the pretence that it’s for the benefit of Mollie. I can only presume that in reality, they are scoring each performer in a Strictly Come Dancing style competition, with points for characterisation, accents and comedic timing. Can’t wait to see the leader board guys! I’ve read many stories to baby Mollie, and all jokes aside I have absolutely treasured these moments, especially as I love reading so much myself. I think I might have been docked a few points for my latest performance of The Gingerbread Man however: unaware of this book’s completely morbid ending – and naively presuming the fox was simply trying to help the gingerbread man cross the river safely because this is a book for a 6 month old baby and why must the world be such a horrible place – I gave the fox the accent of an old, friendly gentleman. A prompt from director Robyn Northcott came too late, and the friendly old gentleman had eaten the gingerbread man before I could modify my accent. Thankfully Mollie didn’t seem as traumatised as me!

Feeding a bottle – What a cuddly, special time; a time when you are pretty much guaranteed that the baby won’t start screaming because it’s realised you’re not its mother or father. Although when the bottle runs out, that is of course a different story…

Feeding actual food = If there’s one person in this world who loves his food, it’s Joshua Jack. Yesterday I had the pleasure of feeding him in his big-boy highchair. Another special first for me. And who even cares if there’s tagine in his ear and a sea of blueberries on the floor?!

Successfully rocking the baby to sleep – Myself and three friends (none of us with children) were tasked with looking after Joshua for a few hours a couple of weeks ago. All went swimmingly until nap time arrived. “Perhaps we can just put him in his cot and he’ll go to sleep” somebody extremely foolish said. Oh no, no, no. A hundred years later, when those little eyelids finally drooped shut, I have never felt a sense of achievement quite like it: yes, it was me, queen of sleep and expert in childcare, who finally got Joshua to nod off. Of course he woke up 5 minutes before his parents arrived home and Becky and Antony returned to a scene of chaos: a screaming baby half in half out of his dungarees as if we had inadvertently created some sort of non-gender conforming denim maxi dress, the four of us desperately trying to work out how this unknown contraption heated up the milk. Please let us come back Becky!

Getting a kiss – yesterday Joshua gave me a kiss and melted my heart!

Turning that frown upside down – Mollie is a delicate little thing. Much like her mother she loves being at home with her family and nobody else, so I’m always prepared for a few tears when she sees my face and realises I’m an imposter in her fortress. Last time I visited, I was met with the most upside down mouth anybody has ever seen, but by some miracle I was seemingly less terrifying than usual and we were automatically best friends again. Result!

All of these very normal moments have been completely new to me this year; they may seem very every day to a lot of people, but I’ve treasured each and every one. I can’t wait to share in many more of these experiences as the months and years go on and these little people grow up. And the best bit: I still haven’t had to change a nappy!

Grateful for the most wonderful time of the year (I know it’s too early and I don’t care!)

Having spent the majority of this weekend battling the Black Friday crowds at Westfield (it was a toss up between there or Oxford Street; I think I made the right choice) you might expect I would be feeling a bit ‘bah humbug’ about this whole Christmas malarkey. Too commercialised, starts earlier every year, just an excuse for shops to exploit their innocent (apparently brainless) customers with false deals etc etc. Well, quite the contrary: in fact I’m sitting on the tube listening to Santa Baby (Buble version, obvs) as we speak. Because I simply don’t care that it starts earlier every year: I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Shakin Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone is literally my morning motivation; Michael Buble’s Christmas is the soundtrack to my December and if I could drown my whole house in fairy lights I definitely would (Jules, can we talk about that?).

Clearly nothing will ever compare to the sleep-depriving excitement of Christmas as a child: the thrill of waking up in the morning and wondering “has he been?”, the conveyor belt of presents, the living room reduced to an ocean of wrapping paper within minutes (and the subsequent boring hour of waiting for the grown ups to open their presents). Our little heads focussed on the tangible things back then, because we hadn’t realised that life itself is the real gift, that each day is a blessing rather than a guarantee.

And so I think as adults, it’s really all about the build up to Christmas rather than the day itself: an excuse to see every single friend you’ve ever known in the space of a month, to warm your belly with mulled wine, to watch Love Actually 57 times and to eat chocolate for breakfast with zero guilt. To look forward to time away from work, bedded down in your onesie with a cheeseboard and the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. It’s about good times with good people.

Please don’t think I’m one of those wholesome people who donates to charity instead of buying Christmas presents, by the way. I absolutely love giving presents (and receiving them, lets be real), finding that perfect little gem that makes ten hours trawling around the shops finally worthwhile, carefully wrapping everything and nervously awaiting their opening. For me, Christmas definitely wouldn’t be Christmas without the opportunity to treat my loved ones and to get some goodies in return. And I know I’m incredibly lucky to be saying that.

Of course my Christmasses are a whole lot different than they used to be; this year will be the third without Mum. That first year I wondered whether we’d be able to smile and enjoy the day ever again; I was so nervous about that particular 24 hour slot in the year. But my brother and future sister in law did a fantastic job of creating a Christmas that was relaxed and easy going, whilst at the same time being recognisably different than usual; it was a new kind of Christmas rather than the same old one with a gaping hole for Mum (which is of course always there anyway, and needs no stark reminders). I’ll always be so grateful to them for that Christmas. Against all odds, we had a wonderful day.

And I have found myself stepping into my mother’s shoes quite seamlessly when it comes to Christmas: becoming obsessed with getting a particular present and visiting 40 different shopping centres in the space of one day in order to find it; buying my Dad slippers that will bring him absolutely no joy whatsoever but will help me sleep a little easier at night knowing he’s not walking around like a hobo, spending an inordinate amount of time selecting napkins and getting into an inordinate amount of stress regarding roast potatoes.

Christmas is just one day in the calendar, but it’s also a reason to come together with family and friends, to do what you always do, or to do something different; to argue over the bread sauce or burn the pigs in blankets, to wear yourself out at parties or stay inside wrapped in a big cosy blanket. We’ve all got something to be grateful for, and there’s no better time of year to celebrate that.

So please, get the tinsel out, wrap yourself in fairy lights, replace your five a day with Quality Street and get drunk every night of the month (responsibly, of course) – because it’s Christmas and why the hell not?!

Grateful for Robyn

Dear Robyn

Having spent a gorgeous afternoon with you and your little family this weekend, there seems no better day to be grateful for you my love!

We first met almost nine years ago now (can you believe that?!) when you welcomed me on the first day of my new job. I still remember you in your tartan dress and beret (it was 2009); that stunning smile of yours made me feel instantly at ease. You’d got me a new notepad and written my name on the front in your curly handwriting; I knew everything was going to be okay. I didn’t know then that I’d be making a friend for life; that we’d share moments of inconsolable hysteria almost every day we worked together, that I’d get to see you grow up, watch you get married and hold your five day old daughter in my arms.

I think we realise now that those jobs weren’t exactly the pinnacle of the high powered business world, but my god did we have fun. Intelligent enough to be left to our own devices and conscientious enough to get all our work done before time, we found ourselves seeking out additional tasks to fill the hours. In weekly ‘poster meetings’ we’d use our favourite felt tips to creatively map out priorities for the week, whilst generating a realistic enough reason to sit in your office with the door closed for an hour, laughing our heads off. When not attending invented meetings together, we’d chat on MSN messenger from two feet across the room, occasionally having to retreat out the back to relieve the shoulder-shaking silent states of hysteria we had driven ourselves into. I don’t even know now what was so funny, but there always seemed to be something.

We found friendship through a mutual love of food and makeup; we’d share biscuits at our desks and go on hourly tea runs together. The highlight of the week was always ‘M&S Friday’, where we’d allow ourselves a calorific break from our usual marmite-on-toast kind of lunches, stuffing our faces with scones or egg custards or those million calorie cream-filled desserts. The bonus of our lunch breaks was that you’d ensured we always shared the 1.30 slot – so only three sleepy hours to fill when we were back at our desks with full bellies.

I would watch you reapply your makeup every lunchtime at the kitchen table – and I’ve still no idea why on earth you bothered doing that – learning about Benefit blusher and red lipstick. We’d sit on the fire escape tanning in the summer, spend our days moaning about the cold in the winter. You gave me a lift home every day – one of those days you nearly ran me over, and of course the only logical response to that incident was to nearly die laughing.

We learnt the very boring intricacies of each other’s lives, dreaded the days when one of us was on holiday, shared in the trials and tribulations of our early 20 year old existences. Eventually the time came for me, then you, to move on. Although the workplace has never been quite as hysterical since, I knew there was never any danger of us losing touch.

You’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed you most: to listen, to reason, to share in my troubles; to plot our bitter revenge on the boy who never texted me back. More than once, we met in that sad little Italian in Morden to pore over my problems with a lasagne and a limoncello. You’d never judge, never dream of telling me to buck my ideas up and get over it – you were simply there, and that means so much to me.

We made a rule that neither of us could get married until our hair covered our boobs. You reached that goal and I was beyond thrilled to see you walk down the aisle and marry Simon. Goodness me, what a beautiful bride! It was clear how much effort you’d put into the day; it was just perfect.

I remember another friend telling me how impressed she was with the regularity of our meet ups. It’s never really been an effort though has it? No matter how often we get together we’ll always have to talk at a million miles an hour to get all the important news fitted in, whether it’s what we’ve been watching on TV, what mascara we’ve been using or who’s been annoying us the most.

I can’t get over how naturally you’ve settled into being a mother: I absolutely love watching you with Mollie; she has brought such tangible joy to you and Simon and you couldn’t be more perfect with her (especially for someone who always said she didn’t like children!). I can’t wait to continue on this new journey with you, to watch Mollie grow up and into the world.

Thank you so much Robyn for being in my life; for your never ending kindness and hospitality, for your hilarious honesty and for choosing a husband who can cook. Thank you for caring about the same inconsequential things that I care about, for sending me stupid Love Island memes and for sharing in my outrage at the latest Z list celebrity gossip. I simply can’t imagine my life without you in it.

All my love,

Clare XXX

Grateful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice

On Remembrance Sunday, it seems only fitting that this post should be dedicated to those who have served and continue to serve for our country.

As I stood at my hometown’s local remembrance service this morning, I was struck by the sheer volume and diversity of people out in force to pay their respects. Despite the fact that the majority of people didn’t know the words, tune or tempo to any of the hymns (myself included), or that somebody’s dog barked for the entirety of the two minutes’ silence, or that more than one young Army cadet had to be lead away by St. John Ambulance having taken a funny turn from standing out in the cold for too long – none of this mattered. What mattered was that people were there. 

You would need a heart of stone not to be struck by the poignant emotion of the Last Post or the bitterly sad words from For the Fallen. My heart explodes with admiration and pride and devastation to think of all of those who have lost their lives in service of our country – and of those who chose and continue to choose such an honourable career path. 

Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to meet lots of veterans and to gain an insight into the military community through my job. Sadly, as my role has changed I no longer have such involvement, but I’ll be forever grateful to have had the chance to know and be involved with such a special community.

Prior to starting this job, over six years ago now, I remember diligently writing out every single rank from each of the three forces into a brand new notebook, aware that I was utterly ignorant when it came to anything military related, and unsure how best to educate myself. (It turns out there was a crib sheet for rank groups and nobody expected you to know them all, ever). Like many people, I probably had some misconceptions around what working with veterans might be like. Would they all bark orders at each other or be suffering from PTSD? Would they be unfriendly and difficult to relate to? Shocker: no. And guess what? A veteran isn’t just an elderly man with Second World War medals! 

Any preconceptions were soon dispelled when I found out that my new manager, Karen and my new colleague, Lorraine had both served in the Royal Navy. Both beautiful young women with painted nails and an interest in shoes. What?! I’ll be forever in awe of how very different their roles used to be. And although the stereotypes most definitely aren’t true, I do notice an inner confidence, a certain poise and level of commitment that maybe not all of us civilians possess. 

And of course I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with lots of other veterans, serving personnel and military spouses over the years. My colleagues are genuinely some of the loveliest, most caring people you will meet – so passionate about their jobs, so committed to doing the best they possibly can for their Service leaver clients, going above and beyond to provide a service that they really, truly believe in. Not all workplaces are like this. The crazy thing is, I don’t think a lot of them even realise that they are going above and beyond: they just wouldn’t have it any other way.

In recent years, The Royal British Legion has launched ‘Rethink Remembrance’ promoting the fact that each poppy doesn’t just remember the fallen, but also shows support for our current and future veterans and Service personnel. So this week I’m grateful for everyone who has served and is currently serving in our Armed Forces: we are so lucky to have you. 

Grateful for 30

Reflecting on the past year as a 30 year old, I realised I haven’t done too badly. This year hasn’t been earth shattering, nothing majorly dramatic has changed in my life (and I’m not complaining), but it’s been full of lots of happy memories, supportive friends, moments of hilarity and special family times. During my 30th year I’ve visited five different countries, been a bridesmaid, been asked to be a bridesmaid twice more, been to three fabulous weddings, stood up and spoken in front of a room full of people, met two brand new babies (and learnt how to hold a baby without fear of dropping it), joined a gym (and actually managed to go), cooked a Christmas dinner, and made lots of new friends. 

(Things I haven’t done: bought a house, got a new job, found a boyfriend, learnt to drive – but we’re not here for the negatives on this blog are we).

So, on the eve of my 31st birthday, here are 30 things I’ve learnt during 30:

1. Buy Egyptian cotton sheets; life is too short for Ikea’s cheapest, and they’ll make you feel like a princess (but will be a bitch to iron).

2. Get your eyebrows done by a professional; your face will thank you for it later.

3. Not all friends are forever, some are just for the moment – and that’s okay.

4. Saving money is hard – but you can’t skip around in a cloud of ignorance forever.

5. You can freeze milk!

6. Canary Wharf isn’t as bad as you think it is, but you will develop a deep seated hatred of tourists when anywhere else in London.

7. If you try and vacuum a spider off the ceiling, it will probably leap off into your face before you get there.

8. Don’t always trust Google Maps!

9. You’re stronger than you think you are.

10. The Mega Bus can actually take you to Wales for a pound – and the bus is actually quite nice!

11. Make the most of your private healthcare.

12. You’ll never ever win the Euromillions; stop wasting so much money trying. 

13. People aren’t judging you as much as you think they are.

14. You can make bircher musli yourself rather than buying it from Pret.

15. You have the ability to get up and out of the house within 15 minutes if one of your best friend’s hen dos depends on it.

16. Don’t forget to set your alarm! 

17. It’s okay to tell someone if they’ve upset you. 

18. Ceilidh isn’t pronounced see-lid.

19. Get your hair cut regularly; people really do notice.

20. Pole dancing is not your forte! 

21. You have just as much right to be here as anybody else. 

22. Nobody will ever thank you for working overtime – so if you do it, do it for yourself.

23. It’s okay if you want to watch Love Island; everybody else is secretly watching it too.

24. Don’t doubt your intelligence. 

25. You’re never going to like olives – stop trying to make yourself.

26. You’re never too old to have ice cubes pelted at you from across the street by teenagers.

27. It’s okay to prefer prosecco to champagne.

28. You may have to face the prospect of a future without Uber. Telephones still exist: you have the ability to ring a taxi. 

29. Don’t forget to floss: fillings are expensive (and your teeth are pretty important too). 

30. Nobody has a clue what they are doing; you just get better at pretending as you get older.

Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my year: for the laughter, the support, the hugs and the memories. Here’s to 31!