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.
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.
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.
After a quick lunch stop it was time for the causeway.
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!
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.
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.
We spent our last hour in Belfast stocking up on Tayto’s. Because really, why wouldn’t you?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
Before long, it was time to play.
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.
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!
- Save £30 per month and buy myself a birthday gift
- Learn how to crochet, and crochet an afghan
- Learn how to knit, and knit a bobble hat
- Sew a dress…
- …and wear that dress to afternoon tea somewhere fancy
- Sort through my pile of ‘to alter’ clothes
- Get new glasses and contacts
- Organise, back up and print my photos
- Run the Manchester 10k
- Complete Spanish Duolingo
- Sew a quilt
- Survive Tough Mudder
- Learn how to shoot a gun
- (Re)Learn how to parallel park
- Escape a room
- Complete a 30 day challenge
- Walk from Manchester to Leeds
- Hold a car boot sale
- Walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks
- See more of the UK, specifically The Giants Causeway in NI, Lochness in Scotland and Mount Snowdon in Wales.
- Go camping
- Attend a secret cinema
- Make something and sell it
- Read 30 books
- Go on a spa weekend
- Start a blog
- Learn how to make round chapatis
- Conquer my fear of spiders
- Learn how to hold a tune
- Try something new every month