And may the odds be ever in your favour

Archery

The odds were in my favour it seems because after our fun afternoon of axe throwing earlier this year, I wrote a TripAdvisor review for the company we went with and won myself another activity with them for my efforts!

Rather generously, the prize was for me and four guests so I decided to drag along the mother and her two sisters (plus husband, poor sod) to try something new for the month of July.

Unfortunately I have no photographic proof of this, but I was MUCH better at archery than axe throwing. We learnt how to hold the bow and arrow properly (i.e. not how they do it in the Hunger Games) before being let loose on some targets. Whilst I didn’t quite skewer the apple on the mannequins head, I did manage to pop the balloon target I was given. I think I may have found my sport!

 

The Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway, Friends

{friends}

R has been my best friend since secondary school. We don’t see enough of each other these days unfortunately, but she’s always game for a silly jaunt somewhere and was more than happy to accompany me on my 30 before 30 quest to see more of the UK. So, to Belfast we went!

Our weekend started, as all good weekends should, with tea and cake. We spent some time gossiping and people watching before making our way to the hostel to leave our bags since it was too early to check in.

I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels in my time and unfortunately, Lagan Backpackers was one of the more disappointing ones. Not informing your customers that your hostel is undergoing construction and there are only two toilets for the entire building? Not cool. One of those two toilets having no working lock? Even less cool! Our room was reasonably comfortable but the communal areas felt very scrubby. Luckily we weren’t planning on spending much time there beyond sleeping.

R got some recommendations for things to do from her Northern Irish boss, of which a Black Cab Tour was a must. Our guide was passionate about the history of the city and I left feeling I had a better understanding of The Troubles, but man, humans can be such animals to each other. It was an upsetting couple of hours but I’m glad we went.

Belfast Black Cab Tour

{bonfire making}

For the main event of the weekend, I had initially planned that we would hire a car and drive up to the causeway ourselves. However, knowing that I’d be tired after a long work week I looked into other, lazier options. I found a Groupon for a bus tour and £25 later had two vouchers in my possession. I was a bit apprehensive about the quality of the tour after having read some reviews online but I needn’t have worried. The bus was on time and the driver entertaining. Somehow the clouds aligned and only spat out their rain when we were safely on the bus between sights.

We went to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge first and had an hour to walk around.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

After a quick lunch stop it was time for the causeway.

Giant's Causeway Up Close

{The Causeway, up close}

The Giant’s Causeway lived up to expectations. The weather helped, it was moody and atmospheric. I still find it hard to believe someone hasn’t hand chiselled those columns!

Giant's Causeway, Details

{Giant’s Causeway, details}

I signed us up for afternoon tea at the Titanic museum on our last day. The museum bills itself as a world class tourist destination which, I must admit, I was a bit sceptical about. But throw in cake and a replica Titanic dining room and I’m there. R, not being the afternoon tea connoisseur I like to think I am, was a initially unsure of the idea fearing it was a fusty, boring activity but she loved it. Obviously. I don’t know how anyone could not love tea and cake.

Titanic Museum Afternoon Tea

{Titanic Museum, afternoon tea}

We ate, drank and were merry whilst a live band entertained us. The museum was fun to mooch around although I must admit, our enjoyment was largely bolstered by our tea experience.

Titanic Museum Afternoon Tea Feedback

{afternoon tea, important feedback}

We spent our last hour in Belfast stocking up on Tayto’s. Because really, why wouldn’t you?

Tayto Prawn Cocktail

{Tayto}

 

The end of March

Gosh, times flies.

The last few weeks of March whizzed by and now we’re in the middle of April! Here’s what’s been going on.

After our fun weekend of axe throwing, a dentist took an axe to my face to remove a troublesome wisdom tooth. Well, not quite, but my face felt pretty butchered after the 30 minutes of jaw yanking I experienced in the dentist’s chair. One tooth and three stitches later I emerged a little less wise but in a fair bit of pain. I’ve had two wisdom teeth taken out before and they were a breeze but this time I was on soft food for five days and still had a tender face for a week and a half after.

Indian Tiffin Rooms

{Not soft food, eating at the Indian Tiffin Rooms}

A good friend of mine came down from Edinburgh for a weekend and we spent it eating and drinking, and drinking and eating. So much so that I found myself needing a detox and came up with and idea for a 30 day challenge for my 30 before 30. As I write, I am 18 days in to no sugar/crisps/general junk/mindless snacking and surprisingly I’m finding it fairly easy. I’m not quite sure why as I’ve tried something like this multiple times before but failed miserably. I think maybe my body finally had enough of the rubbish I’ve been putting into it in the last few months and is enjoying the break.

We went to London for the day at the end of March to meet my cousin and her fella. As per usual I managed to conspire to go to bed past midnight when we had to be up for 6. Oy! We arrived in London too early for much to be open so we spent an hour chatting over coffee until the British Museum opened.

Space Invaders in London

{Space Invading London, yellow coat}

After a quick stop at the Laura Lee shop to see if they could fix a ring of mine, we still had over an hour before our lunch date. It was a beautiful spring day and Google Maps told us our destination was only a 46 minute, two and a bit mile walk away so we decided on a leisurely mooch. The directions could not have been easier. A right, a left, then 2 straight miles down a nice long road.

Down a nice, long, straight road. There was no chance of getting lost…

46 minutes later we were still 35 minutes away from our destination in the middle of a crowded Oxford Street. I did not realise it was physically possible to walk so slowly, but the most befuddling part of it was the fact that we didn’t realise just how late it was until I glanced at my phone and noticed that an hour had passed and we’d not made much headway.

We. Are. Numpties.

And if my cousin and her boyfriend were thinking the same, they were too nice to say anything. Lunch was lovely. The company, fantastic, the food a little lacklustre. We then mooched a little to go meet my aunt for coffee and a catch-up. Before long, it was time to go home.

Eton Mess

{Eton mess, made but not eaten by me}

We also celebrated my father-in-laws birthday with a home cooked meal. I made a peppercorn sauce to go with the steaks my husband was cooking. It was the first time I had ever flambéed anything and those flames are a lot scarier in real life than on the TV. I also contributed an Eton Mess of which I DID NOT EAT A BITE! Yay, willpower!

Tomahawk axe throwing

Ripley Castle Axe Throwing; Live for Today

{two handed throw}

A couple of months ago, when I was mulling over what I wanted to put on my 30before30 list, I saw a Groupon for a session of Tomahawk axe throwing. I couldn’t resist and that’s where the idea for trying something new every month came from.

Over the weekend we cashed in our voucher for an hour of axe throwing at Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire.

Ripley Castle Daffodils

{daffodils}

The rain couldn’t decide if it was coming or going so I wore my favourite yellow rain jacket to keep the drops at bay and blend in with the local foliage.

Ripley Castle Walk

{yellow is my favourite}

We arrived early which meant we had to kill some time by eating cake. You’d be surprised how many times we find ourselves having to eat cake to pass time. It’s almost like I plan it…

Ripley Castle - Afternoon Tea

{tea and cake}

Before long, it was time to play.

Ripley Castle Tomahawk; Live for Today

{tomahawks}

I had hoped that I’d have some innate skill for the sport. But I don’t. I am after all the girl who, on more than one occasion, has tried to throw a ball to someone only for it to inexplicably end up travelling backwards. I tried to throw the axe with my right had. Missed. I tried with my left had. Missed. I tried with both hands. Ack! It’s the taking part that counts, right?

Still, I had lots of fun trying but I’m going to have to find another way to look after myself if a zombie apocalypse hits! Maybe archery? That’s for another month though.

30 before 30

notesofjasmin 30 before 30 list

There are a lot of things in life that I think I should be able to do, but I can’t.  Knit, speak a second language, make a soufflé. I turn 30 in 14 months so it’s time I crack on and finally realise some of my long held goals and dreams.

My twenties so far have been pretty fantastic and I want to savour these last few months before I journey on into a new decade. This isn’t a bucket list though. There’s no skydiving or travel to India to find myself on here, those things will be done, just not this year. Instead, I want to learn a few new skills and have some fun experiences along the way.

And since I’m getting older and my memory is getting a bit ropier, I’m going to blog as a way to help record the memories.

Here’s to the little things! 

  1. Save £30 per month and buy myself a birthday gift
  2. Learn how to crochet, and crochet an afghan
  3. Learn how to knit, and knit a bobble hat
  4. Sew a dress…
  5. …and wear that dress to afternoon tea somewhere fancy
  6. Sort through my pile of ‘to alter’ clothes
  7. Get new glasses and contacts
  8. Organise, back up and print my photos
  9. Run the Manchester 10k
  10. Complete Spanish Duolingo
  11. Sew a quilt
  12. Survive Tough Mudder
  13. Learn how to shoot a gun
  14. (Re)Learn how to parallel park
  15. Escape a room
  16. Complete a 30 day challenge
  17. Walk from Manchester to Leeds
  18. Hold a car boot sale
  19. Walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks
  20. See more of the UK, specifically The Giants Causeway in NI, Lochness in Scotland and Mount Snowdon in Wales.
  21. Go camping
  22. Attend a secret cinema
  23. Make something and sell it
  24. Read 30 books
  25. Go on a spa weekend
  26. Start a blog
  27. Learn how to make round chapatis
  28. Conquer my fear of spiders
  29. Learn how to hold a tune
  30. Try something new every month