Liebster Award Nomination

On Wednesday I woke up to a lovely email from Keeley and Pete (a.k.a. explaining that they found my blog inspiring and have consequently nominated me for the Liebster Award! I was completely over the moon. While I’m aware that I do have a following (albeit a very small one), my decision to start blogging was for my own personal development. It was primarily to practise writing on a regular basis but also to work towards being a better person, so to hear that somebody else appreciates it really made my day.

Liebster rules

First of all, I would like to thank vibeslifeus for the nomination. A keen traveller myself, I find their blog about music, travelling and keeping your identity after becoming parents truly refreshing and look forward to hearing much more from them.

Vibeslifeus set me 10 questions to answer, so let’s get started!


Q and A

1. What is the most extreme thing you have ever done?

  • I wouldn’t say I have done anything extreme… though I do have a habit of going on spontaneous trips to far off places without much prior planning… oh, and I have also run a 6km race three-legged more than once…

2. What is the best memory that you have while travelling?

  • Sitting under a starry sky with absolutely no light pollution whatsoever.

3. If you could give someone £1,000,000 who would you give it to?

  • Probably my brother and his new wife so they can begin married life debt free (and hopefully invite me on a few awesome holidays too!).

4. Do you think education, as it is today, does justice to life and learning?

  • No, but then again, isn’t one of the joys of life finding things out for yourself?

5. When do you find time to blog?

  • I don’t find time, I make time.

6. Marmite, love it or hate it?

  • Hate is a strong word… but I definitely don’t love it!

7. Who are your 6 ultimate dinner party guests, and why?

  • Great question. Adele for her sense of humour, Judi Dench for her class, because I think he would make her giggle, the comedian Jon Richardson because he’s both funny and local, Professor Brian Cox for providing interesting conversation and my allusive Italian cinema lecturer Stefano because he would always start telling the most unlikely stories but never finish them. I also feel like these people would gel as a group.

8. Have you ever visited a place just because you saw it in a book/series/animation/movie? What was that place?

  • I went to Savoca because it’s where part of the Godfather was filmed… but I am yet to actually watch the movie.

9. What would your superpower be?

  • Apparition (see Harry Potter).

10. What is your favourite book?

  • The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent.


11 random facts about myself

  1. I used to be able to do the rubix cube. (I need to relearn the combinations).
  2. I almost passed out in a hot yoga class in France.
  3. I have never broken a bone.
  4. I speak Italian and French fluently and can get by in German too.
  5. Parsnips are one of the few foods I would rather not eat.
  6. I can still do a straddle L sit from my limited gymnastics days.
  7. I really dislike the feeling of chalk on my hands (hence the gymnastics days being limited).
  8. I play the piano, guitar, ukulele, clarinet and sing with varying success.
  9. I drink at least 5 cups of tea a day.
  10. I love surfing but am quite scared of the sea.
  11. I have two mad spaniels called Skye and Pippin.


My nominations


Questions for my nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Tea or coffee?
  3. Do you have a life motto/an inspirational quote you try to live by?
  4. Tell me your guilty pleasure.
  5. What is your favourite time of year and why?
  6. Describe yourself in a haiku.
  7. What is your signature recipe and why do you like to make it?
  8. Tell me your favourite joke.
  9. What is your favourite mode of transport and why?
  10. Do you have a hidden talent?
  11. Tell me your best dinner party anecdote about yourself.


That’s it folks! Entries close on the 25th December so if you want to be considered then you should follow the rules before then.




P.S. As my act of kindness for the day, I am doing a late night taxi service for my Dad – it’s his office Christmas party tonight. Oh, how the roles have reversed!



Be kind to yourself

25 days of kindness – December 15th

Being kind to others is a way of being good to yourself.

I came across this quote by Harold Kushner today and I am completely on board. Not only does consciously being kind improve our feeling of self worth, but seeing someone appreciate our action can leave us with that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Yet after a difficult day and hours spent compiling lists of potential acts of kindness, nothing seemed a viable option… until I saw the following suggestion: be kind to yourself. And that’s when I realised that Harold Kushner’s idea concept can also work in reverse. Sometimes, you have to be good to yourself in order to be kind to others. Whether that’s taking a hot bath, sitting down to eat something delicious and nutritious, or in my case, drinking a big glass water, closing my laptop and getting an early night. It’s time to stop beating myself up about things I can’t change and to wake up tomorrow ready again to kill it with kindness.


Mary x

P.S. My cheek swab kit arrived today from DKMS blood stem cell donation! (See my post ‘Bloody Mary’ from December 7th).

Mondays and mini messages

25 days of kindness –
December 11th

Alas, another Monday. On the plus side, there’s only one more dreaded M-day until Christmas!

Working from home, I find knowing it’s the start of a new week quite motivational. But then again, I don’t have to leave the house in the morning whilst it’s still dark, de-ice the windscreen, sit in traffic for an hour only to then sit in a grey box at a computer all day. All I do is change from my nighttime into my daytime pyjamas, make a cup of tea and some hot buttered crumpets then I’m good to go!

Anyway, I digress. Christmas spirit, acts of kindness and all that jazz.

It has become increasingly apparent to me how difficult it is to be kind to people when you go virtually the whole day without seeing anyone. Oh, the joys of living in the sticks… The only time I did leave the house today was to visit my elderly Grandmother in her new care home, but that hardly counts as being kind, but rather as being human.

No. Today I decided to do a little something for my Dad. If you saw my post on Saturday, you would know that if there’s something you could possibly do to help my father, he’ll already have done it before you had any idea. So, how do you do something thoughtful for the man who leaves nothing to chance?

Because I’m insured to drive my Dad’s car (and my Dad is a generous man), he always fills the glove box with sweets and chocolates in case I get peckish. As a result, we have an ongoing joke-argument in which I tell him off for making me eat rubbish, and he protests that he only buys things because I keep eating them. I did consider being the one to fill the glove box for a change as my act for the day, but naturally there was no need since it had recently been re-stocked with Werther’s Originals and a packet of Jelly Babies. I settled instead for leaving a little message on the steering wheel for when he goes to work in the morning.


Now to try and prevent him from reading this blog and ruining the surprise…


Mary x


There’s no day like a snow day

25 days of kindness – December 9th

That’s right, it snowed! Naturally, I felt I had to name today an official snow day, i.e. an excuse to not doing anything even remotely productive. While the snowflakes were falling thick and fast, it wasn’t for long enough to reach optimum sledging/snowman building depth, so I wrapped up in my slightly-too-small reindeer hoody (with antlers, of course) and enjoyed the wintry scene from indoors. My Dad, however, seemed to have other ideas… who decides to mow the lawn on the one day of snow this year?!

IMG_8487 (1)

Reluctant to venture outside, I knew the perfect small but sweet act of kindness for today. In recent years I have definitely been slacking with my Christmas cards. Either I’ll write them but forget to send them, give them out in person so late that it’s virtually time to take down the cards and put away the decorations for another year, or I’ll just forget to write any at all.

I know some people like to complain that sending Christmas cards is bad for the environment, or that we should give the money that would be spent on them to charity instead. Since I already have a stash of cards, it’s not much worse for the environment now if I send them. And as my Mum would say, we should give the money to charity as well without depriving somebody of a card. And she’s right; there’s something special about receiving a handwritten note in the post, especially when the sender takes the time to write a thoughtful message rather than just signing their name underneath the pre-printed ‘Seasons Greetings’.

So, Christmas cards written, I think it’s time to call it a night. And who knows, I might even get round to posting them this year.


Mary x

Confessions of a Shopaholic

25 days of kindness – December 8th

Thank goodness it’s Friday! And I’m now one week into my Christmas kindness blogging challenge, woohoo! To be truthful, I’m currently spending most of my time sending job applications so the days seem to have lost their definition, but there’s no harm in sharing the sense of weekend euphoria with the rest of the world.

Since graduation, sorting out my room has been a work in progress. Between moving away for university then living abroad for a year, I appear to have accumulated three times the amount of general clutter than any human could possibly need. However, the issue with spring (or more accurately, winter) cleaning is that things tend to get messy before they get tidy again… and that’s the point I usually reach before something more important comes along and I have to call it a day. So, my bedroom having looked like a ransacked clothing store for quite long enough, I decided to finally give some things away.

IMG_8460 (2)

After a hairy drive along some treacherously icy country lanes, I trundled through Clitheroe with my sack of goods in a Santa-esque fashion and donated them to the RSPCA charity shop. An animal lover and proud owner of two spaniels, I’d like to say that I carefully selected this organisation for the brilliant work it does fighting against cruelty to animals. (In reality, the bag was flipping heavy and this was the first charity shop I passed, but that’s beside the point).

Feeling physically and emotionally lighter, what better way to celebrate than… with a spot of shopping to fill up my room again! I dropped by my old work place and treated myself to these FABULOUS trousers. Thanks La Tete!

queen of hearts trousers

I’ve told myself I can only wear them once I’m no longer funemployed, but who am I kidding, it would be criminal to leave these beauties in the drawer.

Bon week-end !


Mary x


Bloody Mary

25 days of kindness – December 7th

I’ve never particularly got along with blood. That isn’t to say I’m not thrilled that my pint-sized body seems to be filled with the stuff and it’s whizzing oxygen around and doing whatever else good blood likes to do. I just don’t feel the need to a) talk at length about it or b) see it.

I’ve had a few tests done in the past in which my blood was stolen from me, but the thought of actually willingly donating it makes me feel physically sick. Sitting there, hooked to a machine, watching the essence of my own body being pumped into a bag… no thank you.

So naturally, I felt I had to register as a donor. After all, if giving someone part of your body and soul isn’t kindness, then what is? Well, I am over the moon to announce that giving blood was not my act of kindness for the day, and nor will it be any time soon. It appears that my love for exploring far off places means I am currently ineligible as a donor. Oh, how my heart bleeds.

big love gala_save the date_RED TYPE ONLY

However, I am not completely off the hook. My new sister-in-law shared a link with me today, suggesting I register with DKMS. It’s a non-profit organisation dedicated to matching blood cancer patients with blood stem cell donors so that they can have a potentially life-saving transplant. Accepting that this really is a cause worth supporting, I signed up and am now awaiting my free cheek swab kit. The odds are that I’ll never be needed, but if so, I’ll just have to face my fear and focus on the big cup of tea and chocolate biscuit which surely must follow.


Mary x

P.S. If you were wondering what the feature image is, it was the beautiful parcel sent to me today by my dear friend and fellow blogger, Benjamin Barnabas. Be sure to check out his page!

Make mine a double

25 days of kindness – December 6th

Day six, il 6 dicembre, and it has to be said, I was looking forward to this act of kindness.

I’d arranged with my Auntie, an EAL tutor, to help with her new 6-year-old Italian pupil. The poor boy appears to be suffering from Selective Mutism, so the hope was that, with my Auntie’s teaching skills and my Italian knowledge, we might at least be able to make some progress with his English comprehension.

After negotiating with my Dad to take his car and deciding against using Google maps (then inevitably getting lost along the way), I arrived at the school just in time for our lesson. Sporting my visitor’s badge with pride, I was led to the reading room where we waited for our pupil… and we waited… until the school secretary came apologetically to inform us that today was his first ever day off sick. Typical.

The secretary thought it might be worth calling home to see if he wanted to come in just for an hour for our lesson. Having had plenty of experience with Italian mothers in the past, I knew there was not a cat in hell’s chance of his mother bringing her feverish child into school for a nanosecond, let alone an hour, but I agreed, had a nice chat with her in Italian and promised to come back again next week.

After another long day of career planning and application writing, I was explaining to my Dad how I’d made him cycle to work for nothing (well, not quite nothing – my Dad is glad of any excuse to ride his bike!) and that I’d yet again flopped in my kindness challenge. Cheerily, he piped up, “Don’t worry, you can do us a favour and take me and the lads to the pub!”. So that, my friends, is exactly what I did.




Mary x