Alternatives to Online Dating: Part 1

When my sister got married in November, I suddenly felt truly inspired in a way I never had before. Love is real, love is possible, love is something we can all find (and already have no doubt, in one way or another).

I had reached a point where even the thought of an online dating app made me angry. I just found them really boring, full of profiles that all looked the same after a while, and most of all, it felt that people didn’t even want to meet, that they would prefer to interact behind a screen, and then dispose of you when they lost interest (because it’s easier to do that with someone you haven’t actually met). After trying a number of formats over the years (Okcupid, Lovestruck, E-harmony, Happn, Tinder, Once), I joined Bumble and that really was the last straw… a totally zero date success rate, and I felt as if there were a load of unwritten rules that I wasn’t following and basically felt like a failure.

So I decided to delete all of them. Be free. But then I thought… how do I meet someone now? Is it possible to meet anyone the old-fashioned way? (What even is the old-fashioned way?!)

I did a search on singles events in my local area… surely there would be other people who had also lost faith in dating apps… surely I wasn’t the only one?

I soon found out that there was a regular Speed Dating event about 10 minutes away from where I live. The thought of speed dating made me a bit nervous (remembering a really cringe lock-and-key event I went to a couple of years ago) but I figured there would be no harm in trying it out. January – the time for new year’s resolutions. The time to try a different approach to dating.

On the night it was snowing and I thought about not turning up. But the thought of trying it out was intriguing and the fact it was only a short walk away made it easier to go along. I figured that if it was rubbish I just wouldn’t do it again.

It was a bit awkward on arrival and I shouldn’t really have been surprised about this, but most of the other women there had come with at least one friend for moral support. I hadn’t really thought much about the fact I was going alone until it was actually happening. I tried to strike up conversation at the bar with a guy who had arrived at the same time as me, but he seemed really shy and unfortunately it was like getting blood out of a stone.

Luckily, during the actual event, the conversation flowed much better. There were numbered “stations” at different tables and that was where the women sat. I chose a seat at a sofa and stayed there for the evening while the men rotated round every 4 minutes. It’s surprising how long a 4 minute conversation is and it is definitely enough time to make a judgement about whether the person you’re talking to is someone you’d like to know more about – or not, as the case may be.

In total I chatted to about 13 different people; some I was disappointed when the 4 minutes ended, others relieved… there was also a mix of people, some I fancied but the conversation just didn’t work, others I enjoyed the conversation but didn’t fancy them, and others that I did fancy and wanted to chat to more. One guy seemed panicked by the 4 minute timing and frantically asked me quick-fire questions in a crazed way… one guy kept nudging me coyly throughout the conversation, another guy told me he could decide on the 2nd date if he wanted to marry a girl, then proceeded to ask me to the name the time and place of our next date. There were however some other nice, normal guys who I got on with and could have chatted to longer.

When the speed dating finished, we were invited to stay longer and have a drink, although most people just left. I stayed and talked a bit longer with the other guests, which it was nice to do without the time pressure.

As an alternative to online dating, it definitely has potential. For a start, I met about 13 new people on one night; you instantly find out if you have chemistry, or are able to hold a face-to-face conversation (which might not always be the case if you have only ever talked  on-screen). The downside was that it did get a little boring and that the host company only gave you from 9-5 the next day to upload your score card info (whether you wanted to keep in touch or not, to find out who you matched with) and I didn’t upload my information in time (as I was at work the whole day without much of a break).

However you don’t have to rely on the score card info, you can always be brave and exchange numbers with someone you met on the night and take it from there… 😉

So… my search for true love continues… watch this space!





Edinburgh Hogmanay

Yes, it’s a little late now and most people have moved beyond new year’s excitement and into the more dreary mood of January (or at least that’s the general feeling I’m getting around me at the moment)… but I really wanted to share my experience of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh as it was my first Hogmanay.

Watching the midnight fireworks through the trees on Princes Street

It was my second trip to Edinburgh after visiting in October 2014 (you can read it about it here if you like) and I was surprised to find just how familiar the city felt to me. I also expected Edinburgh to feel slightly intense in the lead up to this huge event, as I’m sure London would, where around a major event I would expect at least an air of anticipation and at most a mad frenzy. However I was pleasantly surprised that the whole time I was there, Edinburgh felt relaxed, chilled and had a really positive vibe. It was as if throwing New Year’s party attended by thousands was a walk in the park.

On New Year’s Eve there were several different events on in the city centre, including the Old Town Ceilidh and Concert in the Gardens (featuring Paolo Nutini). I did wish I had been able to get tickets to the live concert as it would have been cool to hear some live music on the night, but although I booked well in advance (in October) it was sold out even then. The moral is, if you are interested in attending, book tickets really early.

I had tickets to the Street Party which meant that from 9pm to 1am I joined the crowds on Princes Street, sang, drank and danced along to pop music; we even managed to get our photo up on the big screen. Every hour leading up to midnight, there was a small firework display up at the castle, giving a taster of the display to come when the clock struck twelve. I had such a great time street-partying that I didn’t even really notice the time ticking away and the countdown seemed to go by in minutes, not hours. Before we knew it, we were watching the beautiful New Year fireworks at midnight, and one hour later, having danced some more, we were singing Auld Lang Syne before the Street Party finally finished.

It was one of the most chilled, happy, positive New Year’s Eves I have ever celebrated and I would definitely recommend it if you are thinking about doing it. Just make sure you get bookings in early so you don’t miss out.

The Importance of Being Earnest (in life and blogging, 2017)

Sorry, Oscar Wilde fans, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the play of the same name… I just borrowed the title because it fits so beautifully with my new intentions for 2017.

For the past few years I have written Happy New Year posts, setting out my aims for the year ahead, and I would have done so again. This is usually a time where I like to reflect on the year gone by and approach the new year feeling refreshed and positive. And I very much feel like I am approaching 2017 from a positive place, perhaps the most mentally healthy I have been for several years, and following last year’s struggles with depression, this is a huge achievement for me. I’m so pleased and happy to be here, feeling this way, when at times it didn’t seem possible that I would feel like this ever again.

So, on being earnest. I am interpreting earnestness using the following definition:  earnest-definition

And I am stating my earnestness today because one of my “new” goals for 2017 is to write more. I also said that in 2016, and 2015 and possibly 2014 and 2013… and, did I?


But this year I absolutely mean it. I really do. Seriously. Earnestly. Because my “new year” didn’t start 2 days ago. In a way it started when I returned from Australia in August 2016, with a fresh perspective and outlook. The post-Australia, second-half-of -2016-me was energised and determined not to look back. I have since made some changes to my routine that were holding me back from worklife-balance, from having time for the things I enjoy and I have made some space. Space to breathe, space to relax, space to be myself.

So even though previous new year’s resolutions to write more have not stuck, I am hoping that 2017 will be different, that I will use the space I have created to write, express and put myself out there in a way that I feared to do so in previous years.

Happy New Year readers, let’s have a good one!





It is just over a month ago that we lost our family pet, Jet, and I have been meaning ever since to write him a tribute… but I needed time enough to do him justice… as he was a very “special” kind of pet 🙂


Jet was a complex little dog who was many things at many times… he could be cute and adorable, he could be silly and really stupid, he could also be aggressive and there were times when you had to know to leave him alone; but in the end he was our dog – we loved him and he loved us back.

We got him in April 2000 when he was 9 weeks old… and the fun started there. He was a naughty puppy – he got kicked out of puppy training and it didn’t take us long to realise that he was very anti-social as he would always try to bite other dogs, even if they were just minding their own business. He often ran away and I remember him jumping the fence on many occasions… and also remember searching the neighbourhood, knocking on doors asking if anyone had seen him.

Even though Jet could be a pain sometimes, we soon realised that a lot of his aggressive behaviours stemmed from the fact he was actually terrified of unknown things; that he got nervous around other dogs and then tried to bite them. Realising this helped me to understand why he didn’t act the same way as most other dogs.

As he got older, Jet mellowed a lot. When he was young, he was the one taking us for walks, choking himself on the lead in desperation to walk at the front. As time went on, he slowed down and didn’t mind trailing behind at the back any more. He used to have a lot of energy and run round the house in crazy loops when a member of the family came home. In the last year or so of his life, he just about managed to wag his tail for you when you came in.


There are so many stories about Jet’s craziness that made us laugh over the years… like the time he ran across an iced-over lake to chase a bird and then fell in…

there was the first Christmas with Jet, where dad put a bird decoration on the tree, and Jet tried to eat it…

…when Jet learnt to climb the stairs for the first time, but got stuck when he realised that he didn’t know how to get back down again…

But as well as all the crazy things, Jet was a friend when we needed him most. He used to keep my sister company when she was writing essays; he kept my other sister company when she spent a year living and working at home after graduation, and, as for me, daily walks with him got me through a difficult time in my life and I feel forever grateful for that.

Jet… we loved you and we will never forget you… thanks for all the fun times



Home and Away


Yes… I’ve borrowed the name of the Australian soap opera for this blog post, which fits nicely because I very much intended to write about my trip to Australia on my return, there are so many photos, a couple of videos, and so many experiences I could write about (and probably will, when the time is right). However, since my return I have very much enjoyed all the simple things I missed when I was away and all the things about being at home.

In the couple of weeks since I got back from an amazing trip away, I have actually enjoyed just doing normal things like sleeping in my own bed, and enjoying living in a new area of London, where I do feel a lot happier.

I have also enjoyed spending some lovely days with my family (there is a wedding to prepare for!) and some lovely catch-ups with friends. A few days ago, our family also said a sad good bye to our beloved dog Jet, who had a long, happy (and crazy!) life.

When I get a little more time to reflect, when I can give these things my full writing-attention so I feel I am doing them justice, I will write more about Australia and also I am planning to write a little tribute to Jet.

But for now, I just wanted to write this post to say that whilst I had an amazing time away, I am also happy to be home, and happy that I feel so at home in my new flatshare. I feel that I have returned with a refreshed, invigorated outlook.

Watch this space for the upcoming blog posts… possibly featuring a video of some whales 🙂


From London to Australia…


Today is a big day. Later I will be catching my first ever long-distance flight and will be away for nearly a month. It’s going to be the biggest trip I’ve ever done. I’ve got a huge backpack and my passport. Everything seems ready.

I’m comforted and happy that I am looking forward to this trip and have been more organised with the planning of it than trips I did last year. One of the first blog posts I wrote on here (about 4 years ago now!) was called ‘Travel’ – simply about how I enjoy travelling; at the time I thought travel would always be something that made me feel excited, happy, adventurous.

However in the last year, I lost interest in travel and didn’t feel excited about trips anymore. I felt scared deep down, but on the surface it was like I felt nothing. I didn’t plan trips with anticipation like I had before. I can see now that maybe that is because I had lost interest in everything I had enjoyed. When I realised I’d lost interest in travelling, I felt I had lost a part of myself and I didn’t know if I would get it back again.

But after several months of positive changes (and lots of them, in all different parts of my life, including food, drink, house move, new hair cut, just generally taking more care of myself), it is like the Me That Travels is back!

And here I am, ready to go, I even prepared this map of my trip (it’s quite technical and I think you can zoom in to see things closer). I’ll keep in touch as best that I can, maybe not on here but perhaps on Facebook and Instagram! See you on the other side of the world 😉

Ynys Mon: Old and New Memories


Last week, on May Bank holiday weekend, I went on a somewhat risky holiday to North Wales.

  • Risk 1: the weather – everybody knows that Britain does not have the best weather… and especially in North Wales it can be very wet and windy. I was just praying it would be dry!
  • Risk 2: nostalgia – should you ever go back to a place you once held happy memories? The risk is that the changes you find from past to present are upsetting, or stirring up old memories could be emotional in a way that you are not prepared for.

This was not a typical British holiday. My sister, parents and I were going to be staying on the Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon in Welsh – and sorry for those who know there should be a circumflex on the o but I can’t get my computer to do it!), which we left about 21 years ago, when my sister and I were 7.

Old memories

I have a lot of happy memories from my time there, and nearly all of them involve being in the outdoors, on the cliffs, at the seaside, in the woods and in all weathers, too. Splashing at the windy, cloudy beach, in wellies shaped like frogs; searching the woods for the Three Bears’ house (thanks Mum & Dad!); being pelted in the face by hailstones at school pick up time; a school trip on a life boat; walking past long reeds and grass, thinking of the adders that could be lurking there; picking honeysuckle from the roadside as a gift to a teacher (a little bit of a teacher’s pet, clearly!)

I left a piece of my childhood heart in Wales and I really wanted to go back, most specifically to the South Stack, where there is a lighthouse and where we used to go and look for puffins with Dad. This is a place I always remembered fondly.

South Stack

New memories

Going back 21 years later, it was time to look back but also to create new memories in the present, being older and wiser and more able to appreciate the stunning scenery around us. We won the gamble we had taken on the British weather as it was sunny and warm throughout our stay, with hardly any wind on our trip to South Stack and Holyhead mountain. It felt like a miracle to see the sea with no white breakers and to be walking around Anglesey in short sleeves… and having to put sunscreen on my fair British skin. I was no longer the child hiding her face in her coat to stop the painful white ice-stones pummelling into me. (As you might have guessed from that old memory, that was the day I learnt what “hailstones” were).

Another new memory I will take with me about Wales is a sense that it holds some kind of spiritual, magical feeling. There were times when we were walking through woods with the sunlight slightly breaking through the leaves, the flowers and undergrowth dappled with light, a peace around us, everything so still but also as if it was somehow waiting to come alive. I’m not sure I am really describing this feeling very well, but when you think about Welsh myth and legend, with the red dragon emblem, it does feel appropriate that this sense of magic seems to live and breathe in the Welsh landscape and countryside.

DSCN0232 - Edited
a sense of spirit and magic



I have mainly written this post so that I can let the photographs I took really speak for themselves about the beautiful landscape and scenery of our trip. The sunny weather was the perfect backdrop to show it off, but also, if it had been gloomy, it might have brought out a different “moody” feel to the landscape. Whatever risk there is with the weather, this nostalgic trip has awakened a deep love in me for this part of Wales, this “home” I left, and still carry with me in my heart.

South Stack and Holyhead Mountain


Woodland Walks


Coast and Beach


Snowdon National Park – Llyn Idwal