chestnut book blog

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30 things before I’m 30 – an update

The first signs of spring have been seen in London! I walked home from work last night listening to cheerful bird song and saw the first signs of blossom. I took a few photos to share as it really put a spring in my step (pardon the pun!).

Blossom in London


The spring arriving also means that it is now less than a month before I hit a Big Birthday (I felt it needed capitals!). I thought I’d reflect on the list I made this time last year, to see how much progress I’ve made. I have to confess that this list was for me as much as anyone else, and some of it feels a lot less relevant now after a year of exciting opportunities and changes, but it might be of interest nevertheless.

30 things before I’m 30, in no particular order….

1. Have a dog in my life: Still no dog unfortunately, but steps are being made towards it and Mr Chestnut Book Blog has finally agreed I can definitely have one when my job allows i.e. I am at home a bit more. That is a lot of progress in my book! I am also now on the RSPCA list as a Guinea Pig ‘foster-carer’ (isn’t that funny?!) so there will be many more piggies in my life soon I hope!

2. Start my PhD: No progress on this at all because a few other interesting, work-related opportunities have  taken priority in the last year and will continue to do so in all likelihood. I’ll come back to this one day though.

3. Start writing again by continuing my blog and writing at least one short story: The blog has had a few quiet periods when life has got in the way, but in general I’ve stuck to it well in the last year and I have been doing more creative writing.

4. Save more: This was going reasonably well until we went skiing in February and then we booked a trip to the US for this summer! Oh well! I’ll try again soon.

5. Read all of Shakespeare’s history plays (and try to go and see a few): We saw Macbeth at the Globe last summer which was fantastic and I have cracked through two history plays, but have many more to go.

6. Go swimming at least once a week: I have been swimming, but certainly not once a week so a bit of a fail! I did rediscover an enjoyment of tennis this year though and we played once a week in the summer. Can I count that, do you think?!

7. Reach out to friends once a month (at least): Yes! I think and hope I have been a much better friend this year. I’ve also made quite a few new friends this year  – I’ve observed it is harder to make new friends the older you get so that has been lovely!

8. Stand on the Great Wall of China: Yes and it was just as amazing as I dreamed! Here is one of the pictures:

The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu region

The Great Wall of China, Mutianyu region

9. See the Northern Lights: This didn’t happen in the end, because we couldn’t turn down the offer to go skiing with friends instead. I will go one day though!

10. Save up for a gorgeous handbag: Gorgeous handbag is now mine with a little help from some birthday and Christmas contributions from my lovely family and husband. I hope I’m not too much of a materialistic person, but my handbag is very beloved!

11. Get enough sleep by going to bed a little earlier: I think this has been going a bit better this year, although I do need to remind myself frequently to stick to it, as it makes such a difference to my general well-being. I am no Margaret Thatcher, surviving on four hours a night!

12. Remember to be serene if things are stressful: Progress on this has also been mixed but I think, in general, I don’t worry about things I can’t control quite as much as I used to and am happier for it.

13. Be brave when there is the opportunity: I’m taking a leap of faith in changing my job shortly, but being brave enough to meet challenges head on, rather than being an ostrich, will always be a goal of mine.

14. Try being blonde for a while: I did this. I think it is fair to say it wasn’t a huge success and I am now back to the safety of brunette-dom! You live and learn, but the journey was fun!

15. Sort out my pension tax issue once and for all: Done and I felt very smug after I navigated the maze of automated telephone options that the Inland Revenue sends to try us!

16. Go to the theatre: We went to see Macbeth as I mentioned above, but there are quite a few plays coming up that I’d like to see so one to continue with.

17. Move to the country: No progress on this and, in fact, it is actually going to be another year or two until we can move because of jobs etc, but the dream is still there!

18. Try a new recipe at least once a month: I’ve definitely done this and find cooking new things calming and enjoyable. Mary Berry has become my foodie hero this year!

19. Reread the Anne of Green Gables series: I am just coming to the end of Anne of Ingleside!

20. Wear more bright lipstick: When I do this, it makes me feel happy! That was a very unexpected side-effect. It has also introduced me to a whole new world of ‘lipstick on the teeth’ issues though!

21. Spend more time with my family: I don’t think I’ll really be able to do this until we move a bit closer to them, but I’ve tried!

22. Try to stop the nervous habit of chewing the inside of my cheeks: Limited success. Dentist still unhappy with me! Perhaps my worrying is less under control that I think!

23. Invest in some good skincare: I’ve tried to generally look after myself better this year and I think it is working.

24. Listen to more music – buy those cd’s you’ve been thinking about and dig out your iPod: Biting the bullet and getting an iPhone has actually done the most towards this goal. I now have my lovely Dolly Parton with me wherever I go!

25. If it is not beautiful or useful, get rid of it!: I have definitely been more selective about what I buy and more ruthless with what I keep this year and will continue to be so.

26. Kiss my husband everyday: Generally successful!

27. Lose 7 lbs: Skiing did this, yay! How on earth that happened given the moutnains of cheese I also ingested during that week, I have no idea!

28. Figure out how to be happier in my job or work towards getting a new job: New job will start in May. Excited and nervous!

29. Watch less rubbish T.V: I’ve definitely been reading more than ever this year and so watched much less T.V.

30. Remember this is only the beginning!: I will remember!

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The Scottish Play

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…

Inside The Globe

Inside The Globe

Yesterday, we went to see a new version of Macbeth at The Globe. Since studying Macbeth both in primary and secondary school, it is one of my most loved of his plays. As a tragic hero, I think Macbeth is one of the most sympathetic. Ambition is an understandable fatal flaw. Hamlet’s indecisiveness, King Lear’s blindness, Othello’s jealousy are all on some level incredibly frustrating whereas Macbeth’s ambition could be a wonderful thing, until it becomes ‘vaulting ambition, which o’er leaps itself’ as he says himself. Credit to him for self-awareness!

Macbeth’s soliloquy towards the end of the play after (*spolier alert!) Lady Macbeth has died is etched  into my memory after committing it there for an exam.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

It is hard to think of a more despairing but beautiful speech. I always thought that this reaction to Lady Macbeth’s death was strangely muted, but perhaps the more tragic for it. It seems Macbeth knows there is no hope for him and, without her, feels it doesn’t matter anyway, as life is an illusion that signifies nothing.  This speech is also a dose of healthy scepticism about theatre as well, if life is just a poor player that signifies nothing as well. At the end of his career when he wrote Macbeth, does this say that Shakespeare tiring of theatre? I can’t agree that theatre signifies nothing. I think it is an important mechanism for culture, art, release, social and political commentary and entertainment. However,  does it have a tendency to take itself a little too seriously? Yes, sometimes, and I love Shakespeare all the more for his commentary on his own profession.

Every time I see Shakespeare, I marvel at his continuing relevance and beautiful words. His deep knowledge of what makes human beings tick, despite writing four hundred years ago, knocks me for six every time.

Macbeth Programme August 2013

Macbeth Programme August 2013