Thank you, Beast from the East

As a teacher in the UK, I often feel as if I am on a treadmill where the setting is slightly too high and I just keep going and going, a seemingly never-ending cycle of planning-teaching-marking, of getting up early, working a full day where an uninterrupted break time is a luxury, coming home and doing more work, and repeating the cycle the next day. On top of this, I don’t make it easy for myself when it comes to my home life. I put far too much pressure on myself to keep up with cleaning, tidying, washing, and find that I feel stressed when my home environment is chaotic. I also care a lot about my family and friendships, prioritising them too, but if I’m honest, do I prioritise them above my work? I really try to, but striking a balance is hard. I consciously make an effort to set myself boundaries of when I’ll work and when I’ll see friends and family, but I also find that I need time for just me to be on my own, and that is very difficult to fit into my busy schedule.

Considering all this, I very often feel myself wishing and hoping that if I could just have one day off, if I could only stop for a moment, that I would get some much-needed breathing space, that I could get off the treadmill. I often get up in the morning, longing for more sleep and wishing I could stay in bed. On my days off at the weekend, I have often packed so many plans in, almost trying to make up for the all the work I do, that it isn’t really a rest. Work hard, Play hard.

So you would think that this morning, when I got a message through from the Assistant Head that our school was closed due to the snow, that I would have been rejoicing. A day off? My prayers had been answered!

Wrong – my initial feelings were worry and disappointment: disappointment, because Wednesday is usually the “easy” day in the week for me, where I get 2 hours or so of Planning time, less contact time with the challenging members of my class and generally less marking; worry, because I left my laptop at work yesterday, as well as the fact that to complete planning at home I need access to the medium term planning on the school system and I can’t get onto that at home. A day off school, unable to do work, unable to use this time to prepare for next week… I felt like I should be happy about the free day ahead of me, but instead I felt anxious.

Feeling worried, I shared my feelings with my family, who told me to just enjoy the day. I knew I should feel like that… but I still felt underlying guilt that I wouldn’t be able to work. It wasn’t until our boss sent us an e-mail that actually told us all to enjoy ourselves (don’t do any work, and don’t check your work e-mails again!) that I started to feel better, that actually it was OK not to do work today.

So, with my gift of a free day, I did the kind of things that I usually long for – simple pleasures that made me feel much more relaxed and happy. I went back to bed, slept, caught up on some TV, chatted with family, met friends for a coffee… and we ended up making snow angels and having a laugh, walking like penguins huddled together under an umbrella as the snow came down around us.

It was a fun day, which made me embrace my inner child, playing in the snow, taking pictures of the pretty scenes, and finally just letting go. The roads here are also far too dangerous in these weather conditions, so it comforted me that by staying off school, we were keeping ourselves and others safe.

So, thank you Beast from the East, for forcing me to relax and to realise that the sky doesn’t fall in if you get off the treadmill for one day! (Even if there are huge snowflakes falling from it).

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New Year, New Decade

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Welcome to 2018, my first blog post of the year and I am very much looking forward to what this year may have in store.

I skipped my usual Christmas/New Year posts when for the past few years I have found that I become very reflective at this time, both about this blog and about wider life in general, and have tended to set myself new goals (usually writing more frequently features on my list… sadly I never manage to write as often as I want to).

However, this new year period I found myself feeling very resistant towards the “happy new year” attitude… and after wondering why I felt this way (so grumpy!) it dawned on me that there was more going on… in fact, the “new year” was being dwarfed by an impending big birthday that was making me feel very apprehensive – the big 3.0.

Having a January birthday does mean that after Christmas the celebrations don’t stop – you get to prolong the eating and drinking a little bit longer; you get a second load of presents and you get a little bit of joy in what would otherwise be a dreary winter month.

But this year I was approaching January with trepidation. The big 3.0. seemed looming and I had an urge to become invisible and let it pass me by without a word. A couple of weeks before the big day, I deleted my birthday off Facebook in the hope that people might not notice my birthday and temporarily removed the ability for people to post messages so that no one could send me a “Happy Birthday” message – for me it wasn’t going to be a happy occasion.

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This feeling of wanting to hide from my birthday was made harder by the fact I have a twin sister, who didn’t seem at all bothered by turning 30 and wanted to celebrate like any other birthday. Our different attitudes towards the day made me think about where my feelings were coming from. It’s just that, when we were younger, we would often talk about what we would have done by the time we were 30. We had ambitions, we had goals. We would think about where we would be living, what our jobs would be, we’d be married, we’d have children. The dream was of a stable, happy family life.

This is probably a dream that most people have or at least that most people of a certain generation would have, perhaps things are different now. But as children of the 90s and from quite a traditional family, these were our goals.

Comparing my real life now with these goals – they didn’t happen, not for me. I’m not married; in fact I’ve never been in a serious relationship. I have no children – and I do feel as if time is ticking. Whether it’s true or not, the notion of the “biological clock” does play on my mind because I would love to have a child (if the situation was right). I feel as if I should have progressed more in life than I actually have, that 30 is a truly “grown up” age and that I’m not mature enough; throughout my 20s I’ve been childish and now I’m falling short of social expectations. Where these expectations come from and whether they are right or wrong is a debate in itself – but feeling as if I’m not achieving what I should be makes me feel inadequate and that I’ve got some “catching up” to do.

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Many people have laughed when I suggested that I was sad about turning 30; saying that I was taking it too seriously, that the day after your 30th birthday you would wake up just the same and nothing would have changed. One friend did share my feelings and perhaps she also feels as if she hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Well, of course, the day came and my feelings had mellowed towards the day slightly. Having a twin who wanted to celebrate ended up rubbing off on me and I had a lovely day which was filled with love and good wishes sent to me from friends and family. My sister and her friend have also organised us a joint party happening next weekend, and I know it will make me happy to share the special occasion with my family and friends.

As I enter a new decade of my life, it’s time to set myself some new, more modern goals. I do dream of a stable, happy family life and I dream of being in a relationship, but you cannot force or rush these things. It’s easy to be hard on myself for all the things I haven’t achieved but I should really think about what I have achieved – and that is recovering time and again from stress, anxiety and depression which plagued my 20s, as well as travelling and living abroad which gave me amazing life experiences and made me a stronger person. In my 20s, I learnt the hard way just how important it is to look after yourself and I’m going to try and use all that I learnt to make my 30s as healthy and happy as can be.

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From London to Lincolnshire: Part Two – And breathe…

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In my last post (which was sadly over 3 months ago) I mentioned that I had recently moved “home” to Lincolnshire and that I had been relaxing before the September madness begun.

What I didn’t realise fully was that September really would be MAD, and October… and November…

I feel as if the last few months have been an absolute whirlwind; they have pushed and tested everything I thought I had learned about a) teaching and b) managing my own struggles with anxiety and depression.

I guess any kind of major life change will do that to you. And I have to remind myself not to be too hard on myself, that I haven’t actually been here for that long and that on the whole I have settled in well, made friends, joined a new choir, and also made great strides with conquering what was once a somewhat debilitating fear of driving (there is a whole blog post I am planning to write about that!)

Changing schools is always difficult, getting used to a new way of working, new colleagues, new class of children, new expectations from leadership… and I am really pleased to say that I am enjoying my new position, that I couldn’t really have asked for more supportive colleagues who have made me feel so welcome. My class on the other hand… whilst the majority of them are lovely, there are a few who do challenge me and I’m not ashamed to say that they have occasionally brought me to tears at the end of a draining day where I have felt that I have failed or let myself down as a teacher. This is where I have to remember not to be too hard on myself.

Moving back to live on my own is something I really wanted to do and I don’t regret the decision to live on my own at all. I think it’s important for me to come home after work and know that I have this space to myself. However, this might sound silly, but I am really struggling with managing all the household jobs on my own, like cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping… I know that’s not a lot and that people do these things every day… but for some reason I feel like I can’t manage to do it all. I think it’s also to do with changing schools and having trouble with a new school routine. I end up taking marking home with me and working for about one and a half hours every evening; I then can’t do the other stuff I need to because I’m so tired. It feels like I’ve spent the last 3 months being tired and feeling as if I don’t have time to do anything well; I am just doing lots of things in a substandard way.

It got to the point a few weeks ago where I had been so down on myself for all the things I wasn’t doing, as well as not sleeping enough, not having any time to myself, that I actually started to feel like I was losing my grip on reality. My head was no longer clear, it was just full of noise. On reflection, most of this was probably a lot of self-criticism.

I quickly realised that to nip this in the bud, I was going to have to change a few things. Sleep more. Cut down on alcohol and unhealthy foods. Have some me-time. Stop putting myself down. Think more about the things I have done, rather than everything I haven’t.

I’m feeling better. For the last few days, I finally felt I had the headspace to sit down and write this. But I know that although I have settled in well here, I am having a few struggles to find a new work/life routine that works for me.

I’m hoping that I’ll figure it out soon, and I’ll keep you updated in the next blog post. In the meantime… I’m going to remember to be nice to myself, and when everything feels too much, to stop, take a moment, and breathe.

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From London to Lincolnshire: Part One – From City Commuting to Country Cycling

Hello friends. It’s been a while. I’m going to blame it on dodgy Internet connections which meant I struggled to find a private space to write for about a year. But I’m back and ready to fill you in!

I have recently moved “home” to Lincolnshire from London and as a teacher I have kind of a luxury in that I have the six week summer break to settle in to my new place, refamiliarise myself with the way of life “up here” and generally relax before the September madness begins.

One way I decided to get acquainted with my new adopted city of Lincoln and the surrounding area was to get out on my bike to explore. I found a cycle route called the Water Railway, so called because the tracks follow what used to be a railway between Lincoln and Boston, which seems to have been finally closed around 1980 (although don’t quote me on that… I’m no expert). If you do the whole thing from Lincoln to Boston, you will cycle 31 miles – not something I think I could achieve even if I wanted to. Luckily there are many stopping points along the way and I decided to choose Bardney as mine, which is 9 miles from Lincoln, making it an 18 mile round trip (and slightly more to get back to my house which, I might add, is right at the top of the hill near the Cathedral).

I started the main route from Waterside South and it was pretty straightforward… all you have to do is follow the path. It runs alongside the River Witham and is more or less flat, perfect after navigating some of the steep streets of Lincoln to get there. Along the Water Railway there are also many places to stop and rest, as well as historical signs, some of which I read, and some of which I just cycled past as I was keen to get to my destination. However it would be good to take more time over it if you were particularly interested; there was information about each place along the path (including Washingborough, Fiskerton Fen, the Five Mile Bridge, Bardney Lock) as well as information about the old stations and ferries that would travel along the river to Boston (taking six hours each way – according to one of the signs I took the time to read).

It was a great place to see wildlife and, along the way, I saw (in no particular order): a hedgehog, a heron, some swans, cows, possibly a kestrel, some martins, dragon flies… this might not seem that special but it was to me, after cycling to work in London and not seeing anything natural (except perhaps an urban fox if you’re lucky).

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There were also several artistic sculptures and pieces along the path which I suppose are there to add interest, as it could otherwise get quite dull; after all, you are more or less cycling miles along what seems to be a straight and relatively even path. One of my favourites was some metal cows, and when I passed it on the way back, there were real cows on the opposite bank.

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One of the most interesting parts of my venture along the Water Railway was my stop in Bardney, particularly at Bardney Tearooms. I admit, I really didn’t know much about Bardney before I cycled there, but I knew I would find a cafe there to stop at. What I didn’t know was that Bardney Tearooms appears to be housed in the old station building and there are what seems to be the original station signage on the front and the old gate which would have been opened out at the level crossing. Inside, the tearooms were very quaint and had a kind of 1940s feel (possibly there was some wartime memorabilia but I might be making that up).

 

 

After stopping there for a cheeky ice cream I decided to head back to Lincoln. I found it somewhat easier on the way back as I had more of an idea of the distances involved, but I was also cycling into the wind which made it harder. Finally, when I came off the Water Railway at Waterside South, I had the ascent to the Cathedral Quarter and admittedly, there was one street where I got off and pushed (but according to the map, the gradient was more than 1 in 7, if you know what that means)!

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After being used to cycling in London alongside the traffic, it was really nice to get out into the open and cycle for a long stretch. In London I would always cycle with a high-vis jacket and helmet and I’m not going to stop doing that as I think they keep me safe, however at points I did feel a bit silly wearing it all, because you could probably get away with not doing that on the country paths. The advantage of London is that it has properly marked cycle paths and I was worried initially that it wouldn’t be as safe in Lincoln, however to my pleasant surprise, some of the busier roads had off-road cycle paths and crossings that you can cycle over when the light goes green. At Bardney Tearooms I also picked up a detailed map of Lincoln which has a key for each road according to its safety for cyclists.

So hopefully before I return to school in September, I will get another chance to try out a cycle path in Lincoln. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and I look forward to writing many more now that I have Internet 🙂

A Celebration of Wellness

I’m currently on a train to Lincolnshire, travelling to my brother’s wedding, and instead of doing my usual train journey thing of eating followed by sleeping, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to grab a few minutes of quality writing time.

You see, there is something I have been meaning to write about, but I kept refraining from putting pen to paper (or letters to screen?) because part of me didn’t want to jinx it.

It is, essentially, a celebration.

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A celebration that I am in a good place, and I’m not going to take that for granted. Because I know that not so long ago I was in a terrible place and wondered if there would ever be a way out.

I feel so much better and, having felt stressed, angry, sad, irritable and all other shades of depressed for so long and not really known it, I now feel generally calm, happy, strong, rational, clear-headed and excited about the future, and have done for several months.

In my experience of managing mental health, I once read somewhere that it is a good idea to write down what it feels like for you when you are well. There might be a few reasons for this; one idea is to read it when you are down to reassure you that you can feel well (because when you are in the throes of mental illness it may feel like you will never feel well again). Another good reason for doing this is that you are able to identify how your body feels and what your emotional state is like when you are feeling good, and, by comparison, to recognise when you aren’t feeling so good. This kind of personal understanding of your own reactions and moods can be extremely helpful if you begin to feel ill again; you can then take steps towards wellness before it becomes worse.

So, what brought about this change in me? I feel so different, I almost feel younger (which must be a sign that I felt this hopeful and happy at a time in my past; I’m thinking of my final year at uni where everything seemed to come together and I was excited about graduating and what the future would hold).

It didn’t happen by accident, that’s for sure. It’s not like I woke up one day and was like, Oh, I feel well again! (which is kind of what happens after a few days of having the flu).

There are a few things I did, and am still doing, which have helped me to feel so good in myself:

  • I stopped taking the anti-depressants. Obviously, this may not work for everybody, but I realised that since I had been taking the pills, they had made my moods more erratic, and I had never had a feeling of being well. I had the dosage changed several times and nothing seemed to work. In the end, I decided I didn’t want them any more. I had actually felt better without them and thought that I would see how it went for me and if I needed something else, I would try that. It’s been a year now, and things have just got better and better. Obviously, if things had not improved, I would have probably tried a different type of pill. I’m not advocating coming off the drugs as a cure, I just had a personal feeling that they hadn’t helped me. I think it’s important to listen to your body in these situations. If you need them, take them; I know many people who have taken anti-depressants and it has worked for them, it just didn’t work for me.
  • I gave up caffeine. This one is so simple, but it had the most amazing affect! I started drinking decaffeinated tea and coffee instead of the usual kind, and it didn’t take long for me to notice a difference in my moods and general feeling of well-being. I’ve always been pretty sensitive to caffeine and had avoided coffee for a long time, but cutting it out completely was probably one of the best things I did to feel well again. Now, if I drink it by accident or when there’s no alternative to decaf, I instantly feel the effects on my body. To me, the effects of caffeine on my body mimic those of anxiety (fast heartbeat, feeling a little nauseous, feeling angsty) and are just unpleasant. Without it, I feel so much better, less anxious and highly-strung.
  • I had therapy. I did the NHS CBT counselling and it gave me some practical short-term strategies to manage anxiety and depression, but it didn’t go anywhere near deep enough for me. I saw a private counsellor instead. It was in central London, it was pricey, but it was an investment. I knew in the very first session that this counsellor was going to be a great help to me. I went to see her for around 9 months, every week to start with, then every two weeks when I felt better. Did I enjoy going? No. Did I always want to go to the sessions? No. But I did it because I knew it would be good for me. And it was.
  • I joined a choir. I feel like a member of Glee Club… I joined a choir which sings the cheesiest songs but it’s so much fun. Every Monday night, I go to the local Salvation Army Hall and sing classic pop tunes, such as ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet and ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ by The Beegies and Take That! It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and part of me is a little embarrassed, but the other part of me has so much fun I don’t care. I also feel part of my community and I meet other people so there are lots of good things about it. Plus the instructor makes me laugh from beginning to end. It is definitely good for my soul.
  • I stopped overreacting to little things. In hindsight, I can see how stressed and irritable I was, because little mishaps and annoyances used to upset me beyond belief. Now I often find myself laughing in the face of adversity. Sometimes I have to stop a negative or stressed thought in its tracks and consciously decide not to engage with it. It works. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s not worth the negative effect on your body and mind.
  • I stopped bringing so much work home. I realised that when it came to work, something had to give. It was a choice between my health and my job, and my health had to take priority (because, without it, I wouldn’t be able to do my job anyway). As a teacher, it is easy to take work home and the hours can stack up if you don’t notice. So I set myself some boundaries, made sure I stuck to them, and I really noticed a difference. I now feel like I have a much better work/life balance, which I once thought was absolutely impossible.

These are some of the main things I did which have helped me become a happier person in the last year or so. There are other little things which all add up, like making more time for friends, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet.

There are so many parts of your life where changes can be made: your diet, your social life, your exercise, your work/life balance, your sleep patterns, and even if you start working on improving just one of these life areas, everything else somehow begins to fall into place too.

I am just so grateful that in the last year or so, I have made some amazingly positive changes in my life and feel so much healthier, happier and stronger. There was a time when I didn’t think this would ever be possible. I still get my moments of anger and sadness, that’s human, and they are just moments, not stretches of days or weeks like they once might have been.

I’m grateful to all my friends and family who supported me through this time, but also for my own strength and perseverance which got me through and I’m writing this partly in case I do ever feel down again; to tell myself, that yes I am strong and I can feel well and I can overcome depression and anxiety.

So, here’s to the future, and to finding strength, health and happiness.

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Alternatives to Online Dating: Part 3 (perhaps the last in the series)

I have a confession to make… I briefly went back on Tinder in a moment of loneliness. I very quickly remembered what had caused me to delete it, but only after getting a few dodgy messages and arranging an unsuccessful date. Unsuccessful because it never actually happened. We messaged, we whatsapped, we arranged a date and then rescheduled it because the guy was unwell; he seemed genuinely disappointed not to be able to make it and was keen to rearrange another time, then on the day he chickened out and said it wasn’t a good time for him. So then I got angry (again) and have now deleted Tinder (again).

This unsuccessful date above follows a series of unsuccessful non-dates from a guy I met at the speed dating event (described in Part One). This guy would sound like he was making an invitation, such as by messaging something like, “Are you free in the day time on Saturday?” or “What are your plans this weekend?”, only to then reply to my answer with “I’ve already got plans” or not to reply at all. Very strange behaviour, very puzzling, I just couldn’t work out whether he wanted to see me or not. I’m assuming not seeing as I haven’t heard from him in several weeks.

Anyway I have digressed. The brief interlude where I went back on Tinder precedes my second attendance of a ‘Speed Dater’ organised event, the same company who organised the Cookery Class described in Part Two. This time I had signed up for a wine-tasting event. I love wine and I’ve always wanted to do wine-tasting – here was my chance and the prospect of meeting someone whilst doing it was an added bonus.

Luckily this time there seemed to be a more even spread of men and women (although as always there were slightly more women). There were also a couple of familiar faces from the Cookery Class I had attended.

We were offered a glass of wine on arrival and after a little time for mingling, we were grouped at 4 tables. Women stayed in their places, men rotated to different tables after one or two wine tastings (six different tastings in total). We had a selection of 3 white, 3 red. A wine expert talked to us about the wine, we smelt it and tasted it, I thought perhaps we would swill it and maybe spit it out as I have heard about wine tasting before… but at this event, there was no spitting out, just drinking the wine (although there was the option to pour it away if you really didn’t like it). As you can imagine, after the glass on arrival and several different tastings, I (and the other attendees) got a little bit tipsy. As the evening went on, everyone was noticeably more relaxed, sociable (even rowdy…)

It was a fun evening and I would recommend it if you like wine, but you really don’t have to be particularly interested in wine or an expert. You can just turn up, have a few drinks, get chatting to different people and see if you meet anyone you like…

Unfortunately for me there was no such luck; with these Speed Dater events you have the opportunity the next day to message the other attendees online, which I did but have sadly had no reply…

So, three events so far, the search continues… but I haven’t signed up to anything else yet as I am losing the will to date. This may be the last in the series of ‘Alternatives to Online Dating’ unless I decide to do any more organised events. I’ve just lost my P.M.A when it comes to dating. The apathy of the guys I have met lately has seriously frustrated me, as have the false impressions created by people’s profiles, and the fact that people seem to want to socialise with a screen rather than face-to-face with a real person. This is a symptom of the technological world we live in, but it makes me seriously despair. There is a lot more to my anger and frustration than the fact I am struggling to find the right guy for me. The anger and frustration I feel are part of the wider issues and worries I have about an apparent total reliance on technology and online “socialising” as a preference to talking to someone in real life; of self-promotion through false images and instant gratification through technology rather than investing and building relationships through face-to-face encounters.

I honestly just don’t know what more I can do other than to go back online and play these silly dating games of messaging someone online for weeks on end because that is the apparently normal thing to do now before you can even suggest meeting in real life. Only for your real life meeting not to happen because the other person gets freaked out that the relationship is moving off-screen, or for one or both of you to be disappointed by the real life meeting because they don’t look like their profile picture or have a weird voice or quirky habit that you never would have known about if you had just kept messaging online.

Perhaps I sound bitter; perhaps I am. Perhaps I am seriously worried about what these trends I am noticing on the dating scene mean for the future of our world – there is a huge over-reliance on technology, a kind of fear of meeting a new person in real life, and an assumption that a new person will be available with one swipe for your instant sexual gratification… but where does that leave people who want a meaningful and long-term relationship?

 

 

Alternatives to Online Dating: Part 2

Following my venture into Speed Dating described in Part 1, here’s another instalment in the series involving… a Cooking Class for singles.

These seem to be trendy at the moment and I’m picturing the slightly cringe Match.com advert for this kind of event, where a nerdy guy is making two prawns talk to each other and finds love from a girl who doesn’t judge him, but joins in… (isn’t he just living the dream…?)

I found the event I attended on Speeddater.co.uk and my main reason for doing it was that I love cooking and I love food, and I thought it would be a great way to meet like-minded people. Included in the event was a glass of Prosecco on arrival, the meal you cook as a group (chicken saltimbocca) and a chocolate brownie dessert cooked by the chefs. I sort of thought that if I didn’t meet anyone, at least I would get to learn a new recipe and eat a (hopefully) delicious meal. At £38 I did think it was a bit pricey (compared to Tinder for example which is free!) but when I thought about what was included: the drink, the meal, the cooking class, and the opportunity to meet other single people, I thought it was worth a try.

The event was hosted at L’atelier des Chefs near Oxford St and it was a really nice venue. I enjoyed the glass of bubbles on arrival and all the staff were really friendly. There was quite a big group of singles (about 20) but I have to admit I was disappointed to find that there were quite a few more women than men. We were split into groups for cooking, and in my group there were 3 women including myself, and 1 man. This frustrated me, as I spent a lot of time interacting with the other women, and although they were all lovely and it was fun, meeting other women is not exactly what I had come for.

The cooking class itself was run by a professional chef who was good-humoured and coped well with quite a rowdy bunch of people in his kitchen, as well as our (collective) ineptitude (e.g. not following his instructions as exactly as he had hoped). It was a good laugh and I enjoyed learning the recipe; it also revealed to me that the way someone approaches cooking can tell you a lot about their general personality. For example the woman next to me seemed very meticulous in that she chopped things very slowly and finely, and was anxious about following the recipe exactly to the letter. Some people are more laid-back and if something doesn’t quite go to plan, they just brush it off. In general, the entire group seemed to really enjoy the cooking class and it was pretty straightforward, with every group member being involved.

We dished up our own meals, following the chef’s instructions, and we had also individually prepared our own chicken breast, which we then ate ourselves. I liked this as I don’t know how comfortable I would have been eating meat prepared by someone else in the group. I know that might sound really paranoid but it just made me a lot more comfortable that I was eating my own food.

We all sat around a table to eat, men on one side, women on the other, and then we could enjoy the fruits of our labour. It was nice to get a chance to meet different people in the group, and after the main meal, the men moved along one or two spaces so that we got to meet more members of the group. However, I still felt bothered by there being more women than men and I feel like I did spend too much time talking to women rather than men, facilitated by where we had been grouped for cooking and sitting down to eat.

After the event, which finished around 9.30, we had to leave the venue but it was suggested that the group could continue their evening at the pubs nearby. I, however, decided to call it a night… I just didn’t really want to spend any more time chatting to 20 people I didn’t know, and I hadn’t met any men who I wanted to spend more time with. Overall it had been fun, but it really is hard spending a long time with people you don’t really know. Although maybe it’s easier for some people, I’m not sure.

So should you try a dating cooking class? If you like cooking and you want to meet other like-minded singles then, yes. I did enjoy it and I would be keen to do it again, were it not for the lack of a 50:50 ratio and also that towards the end, I did feel like I ran out of steam a little interacting with a large group of people. On the plus side, I did eat a delicious meal AND I got to keep my apron!

The search for love continues…

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