Going Solo

This time next week I’ll be on my way to Tenerife for a few days of rest, relaxation and some much needed winter sunshine.

I’m doing all the usual holiday prep; dusting off my bikinis, slathering on the St Tropez and stocking up on reading material for the flight and anticipated lounging. The only thing that makes this holiday different to any other is that the excitement is tinged with apprehension, as this time, for the first time, I’m going it alone.


I’ve travelled alone on business many times, and have flown independently all over the place to meet up with far flung friends, so I’m not at all worried about the logistics of travelling solo, but this is the first holiday that I’ve planned and booked knowing it’s just for me. I appreciate that 5 days in a Spanish resort isn’t exactly akin to trekking the Arctic or sailing single-handedly around the world, but for someone who has always had a sketchy relationship with her own company, it’s a challenging and somewhat daunting prospect to spend several days and nights with only myself to talk to.

I’m nervous enough to have still been considering cancelling up until a few days ago, especially now I have another trip booked with friends in a couple of months time, but I knew that if I wimped out I’d beat myself up about it, so for better or for worse I’m going. I’d always rather regret something I’ve done, than something I didn’t have the balls to do.

Reactions from friends & colleagues to my upcoming jaunt have ranged from assurances that it’s courageous and exciting, to horrified exclamations of ‘Why?!’. Well the why is because I don’t have much choice right now. Of course I’d love to have a travelling companion, someone to share the adventure with, to laugh with, to reflect on the day with over dinner, and (crucially) to make sure I have adequate sun cream on my back. Unfortunately this time, with a very limited number of friends whose circumstances allow them to up and jet off, it just wasn’t to be, and I’d rather go it alone than not go at all.

I’m looking forward to the break from Jersey, soaking up some sunshine and hopefully meeting some new people along the way, but I’m also staying mindful of the anxiety I’ve written about before. I know from experience that too much time on my own can be a trigger, and that if my mood drops I can find it hard to motivate myself, so I’ve tried to get a step ahead of the game, and have already researched some fitness classes I can join at my hotel (because there’s no better mood boost) and booked an adventurous activity for each day that will force me into the outside world, whether I’m in the mood for it or not.

So in a matter of days I’ll be paragliding, sailing, kayaking with dolphins, snorkelling with turtles and rounding it all off with a day at one of the top-rated spas in Spain. All that and plenty of lazing in the sun should be enough to keep me busy for 4 days. The evenings might be a little harder to fill, but so long as I have my kindle and a few things downloaded on Netflix, I’ll get by. A few early nights might even do me good.

I’m sure I’ll be documenting my adventures & keeping up with the outside world on social media whilst I’m away, so keep your eye on my instagram @mswannabean for shameless holiday spam, and watch this space for a holiday blog when I’m back.

If you’ve holidayed alone before, I’d welcome hearing about your experience.


Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…

Just a few days left until Valentines Day, undoubtedly the most divisive of the high days and holidays spread throughout each year.

When I was much younger, Valentines was fun. It was an exciting time of school yard crushes, secret admirers, cheesy poems, and gaudy cards addressed in block capitals and signed only ‘?‘. Rather than being a day to celebrate relationships, it was an opportunity to put your heart on the line and admit to the object of your affections that you’d like them to be your Valentine.

Would you be one of the lucky ones to have a pink envelope drop on the mat on the 14th? If you did, was it really from a mystery suitor, or was it from your Mum? Had you sent one? To who? Will he guess who it’s from?? It was all light-hearted and giggle inducing back then, no more a cause of heartache or stress than Pancake Day or Halloween.


I’m not sure whether times have changed, or I have, but somewhere along the line the magic has disappeared. Much like almost every other occasion, the plague of commercialism has taken over, and shops have been crammed with hearts, flowers & chocolates since Boxing Day, with advertisements for everything from bathroom tiles to bacon referencing Valentines Day and piling the pressure on. It’s all got a bit much, and the real meaning seems to be lost.

Now it’s largely a day for enforced, borderline uncomfortable romance between people who’ve already been together for years. Florists are laughing all the way to the bank, and restaurants are full of couples paying over the odds for contrived menus whilst discussing when the car next needs a service and who’s turn it is to take the kids swimming. Now don’t get me wrong I think it’s wonderful to spend some quality time with your loved one, buy them a gift they’ll appreciate or inject a little fresh passion into proceedings, but for me this is better done randomly throughout the year than on one Hallmark-sponsored date.

Meanwhile those of us who don’t have someone special in our lives at the moment are rather left out, with seemingly every business shouting about Valentine offers that don’t apply to us, whilst the very idea of making a romantic gesture to someone you quietly fancy these days seems at best a bit out-dated, and at worst a bit stalky or intrusive, which I think is a terrible shame.

What could be more lovely than taking a chance, throwing caution to the wind and letting someone know that you’re thinking about them? And by that I don’t mean liking their latest post on Facebook or following them on Instagram; embrace the old-fashioned and send a card, hand them a bunch of daffodils or ask them to dinner. It’s a gamble of course, they may not feel the same way, but then you’ll be no worse off than if you’d kept quiet, and you’re at least very likely to have brightened their day.

In my 34 years the Valentines Days that I can remember aren’t the ones when I was in relationships; they are the ones when I’ve been truly surprised. The card from ‘Mr H’ when I was at school (it took me a while to work out who that was, but it still makes me smile 20+ years later), and mysterious roses delivered to work one February when I was freshly broken-hearted. Small gestures that warmed my heart by proving that however dire my situation seemed at the time, there really was someone out there who cared.

So if you’re single this year, and there’s someone you have an eye on, seize the opportunity this day presents and GO FOR IT! As my favourite mantra dictates, If Not Now, Then When? And if you are already with someone who makes your heart beat faster, you lucky things, then go ahead and do whatever makes you both happy on Valentines Day – but don’t forget to show how much they mean to you on the other 364 days of the year too. As for me? Well I’ll probably be keeping my head down & waiting for it all to blow over.

Let me know in comments your best (or worst!) Valentines story, or what the day means to you.

London, Baby


This last weekend, I hopped off the rock to spend a couple of days in the big smoke.

The purpose of my first visit in years was primarily to catch up with an old friend whose work has fortuitously (for me at least) sent her round to this side of the Earth from her home in Australia.

With that in mind, I hadn’t given much thought to the location, I was simply going to where Elle was, whether that had been London, Lancaster or Lyme Regis. It wasn’t until the train rolled out of Gatwick Station en route to Clapham Junction, past houses and streets and traffic that stretched on out of sight, that my love for the Capital came flooding back to me.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel so comfortable in this sprawling city. I’ve never lived there, nor really even spent more than a few days at a time within the M25, but somehow I feel right at home.

I love the iconic buildings, the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus & Leicester Square, the Markets and the Museums, and sitting by the Thames just watching people go by, I even love the Tube. I love that the options of things to do and explore and discover are endless and ever changing, and that everything seems so easy to navigate and plan. I also treasure very fond memories of Theatre trips and School excursions when I was young, and slightly wilder weekends with friends in my Twenties.

I love the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard, Hamleys and Harrods, the Black Cabs and Red Buses and fluttering Union flags. Even the rude commuters, honking traffic and dithering tourists. Everything that makes London what it is.

Most of all though, I think I love the vibrancy that comes from a place crammed full of people from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth. Millions of people going about their daily lives, all rubbing along together. Each anonymous yet part of the community, all at once. For me it felt like the perfect antidote to when Island life has started to wear me down; reminding me that there’s life and adventure and opportunity outside of this little bubble I currently exist in. Somehow the claustrophobia of a being in a crowd helps me breathe a little easier.

Of course one of the best bits about London is that at any one time there are about 8 of those 8 million people that I’m lucky enough to call friends. Some I’ve known for only a short time, and some for longer than seems possible, but they are each as good a reason as any to visit more often.

This weekend the weather wasn’t kind, and the time flew by at warp speed, but I had the best couple of days I’ve had for a while and can’t believe I’ve left it so long since my last trip to the Metropolis; I genuinely can’t wait to get back.

Which place always make you feel at home? Where is your favourite place to visit and why? Please let me know 🙂



The Dating Game

After a self-imposed dry(ish) spell at the back of end of 2017, when I became utterly disillusioned and convinced that I should just get a few more cats and call it a day, I have recently dived headfirst back into the Jersey dating melee.

Partly in the interests of escaping my comfort zone, and partly due to encouragement from friends who have lost patience with my tales of woe, I find myself back in the game. Whilst I wasn’t necessarily lacking opportunity last year, I was loathe to take it, so I’ve adopted a ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ attitude and jumped right in.

I’m not going to write here about any specifics obviously. That would  be deeply unfair to the innocent parties involved, and besides, a Lady should never kiss & tell.

I just wanted to write a bit about the ups and downs of dating in your 30s, and in Jersey specifically. It’s never going to be easy in an Island of only 100,000 people. All very well when you’re in your early 20s and all your peers are in the same boat (they were good times!) But by mid-30s when it feels like all the good ones have already been snapped up, it can feel more like a couple of minnows in a puddle than plenty of fish in the sea.

It feels harder to meet people organically here, somehow. For all its positives, Jersey can be cliquey, and a tiny bit judgy, so unless you meet through work or friends, it can be difficult to get chatting to someone new. That’s probably why most singles I know resort to a dating app of some sort at some stage. I’ve tried a few, with mixed results. Plenty of Fish is a nightmare, for a girl at least. I was deeply uncomfortable with the fact you have no say in who sends you a message, and even more uncomfortable with the content of some of the aforementioned messages. These slimeballs are walking the same streets as me. No Thank You.

Despite its reputation as a soul-less hook up app, I’ve had the most success online with Tinder. The fact that you’re judging and being judged on looks alone, at least initially, doesn’t suit everyone, but isn’t that what we’d all do in a bar or nightclub anyway? If a guy asked for my number on a night out there’d have to be some kind of attraction in order for me to hand it over. Of course some people are only using the app for one thing, but those I’ve encountered have at least been upfront about it, and there’s no hard feelings when it’s a ‘Thanks but no Thanks’ in return. The majority that I’ve spoken to, and all of those I’ve met, have been more open-minded about what they’re looking for or expecting to find. Perhaps I’m choosy about those I meet in person, and I always spend a bit of time talking to them before accepting or offering an invitation to meet, but I can hand on heart say that I’ve never felt uncomfortable or pressured on a Tinder date, in fact generally I’ve had a really good time. From what I’ve read online, that’s not always the case – thus the reputation I guess. Maybe the nature of Island life makes people behave themselves a little better. You never know who’s watching.

Of course a girl has to be careful. I ALWAYS tell a friend where I’m going and who with, and prefer to stick to a drink or two in places I’m familiar with for a first date. I also prefer to pay my way and buy my share of rounds at a first meeting – that way nobody is left feeling they’re indebted or owed. If we don’t hit it off then no harm done. Lastly, I always at least start the evening driving. If it doesn’t go well I have an easy get-out clause and getaway car on hand, and if I’m having a good time and want to stay longer there’s always Home James to call.

A hurdle probably unique to small communities is the apparent disparity between the number of single Ladies, and the number of single Men. To me at least, it seems like the girls outnumber the guys significantly. This could be why a local restaurant trying to organise a ‘First Dates’ style evening for Valentines has had 30 applications from Women, yet only 6 from Men. It might also be why a lot of Men in Jersey, although in fairness not all of them, seem to be lazy when it comes to their online profile or pre-date chat. Compared to those in larger and more populated places (I’ve done some Tinder swiping elsewhere, purely for research purposes, you understand) hardly anyone here bothers with any kind of a bio, and a lot don’t even add a decent picture. Do they not understand the concept or are they so snowed under with Women that they don’t need to make an effort? Who knows.

The limited population also proves a problem. Once you’ve eliminated your exes, your friend’s exes, your ex’s friends, your colleagues and those who are clearly serial killers in waiting, it leaves approximately 4 potential dates. 2 of whom you’ve already dated, and the 3rd you’re pretty sure is married, although it does blow my mind a bit that there are still people my age in Jersey that I’ve not met before; yet without fail we’ll have a number of common friends or acquaintances. At least it’s an icebreaker if the conversation dries up.

To answer my own question, what’s the worst that could happen? Well so far, touch wood, the worst has been a quick drink with someone I won’t see again, and that’s hardly the end of the world. The best that could happen? Well the sky’s the limit…. watch this space.


Anxiety Girl

If I had a superpower it would be leaping to conclusions in a single bound.


Until about 18 months ago, I had never really suffered from anxiety. I’d been anxious of course about an exam result or an interview, but didn’t recognise the difference between that and actual anxiety.

The first time it hit me was on a flight from Majorca to Jersey, when I knew that whatever happened after I walked through arrivals was going to determine whether my marriage was really over. I found myself sitting in baggage claim, head between my knees, heart pounding, trying desperately (but not altogether successfully) to stop myself from a/ crying, b/vomiting and c/ hyperventilating. You don’t want to do those last two at the same time, believe me.

I didn’t know what was happening at the time, aside from the fact that it really wasn’t ideal, but I’ve come to realise that it was a full blown anxiety or panic attack. Luckily the first time was the worst time, and I’d only describe one or two of the incidences since then as ‘attacks’, with ‘episodes’ seeming a more appropriate and less violent word to describe what takes me over every so often.

From time to time since that day in the airport, I’ve been gripped by feelings of anxiety for anywhere between a few hours and a few weeks (the 3 weeks after my Grandmother passed away were a challenge). By day the feelings manifest in a relatively manageable way; low level nausea and loss of appetite, lack of concentration, tearfulness and a slightly increased heart rate. I thought I might have been imagining the latter but I’ve checked, and it’s a thing. Pretty standard regular symptoms for a lot of Women.

It’s by night that the full effects really kick in. Chronic sleeplessness is fuelled by my mind running at 1000 miles an hour, replaying conversations word by word, analysing any situation over and over and over again, and jumping wildly to irrational conclusions. An off the cuff comment at work can easily become an imminent sacking, and if a friend hasn’t replied to a message or email I become convinced it’s because they’re dead, they hate me, or they’re hiding something from me, probably because they hate me. The innumerable completely rational reasons for their delayed response don’t even register, I convince myself of the worst, and can’t be persuaded otherwise.

Mostly however I worry uncontrollably about the future. Whilst normal, level-headed rational Me knows that things will be ok, that an unknown future is actually quite exciting, and to take one day at a time, anxiety stricken Me is utterly incapable of thinking straight, instead inventing all kinds of future scenarios for myself, none of them particularly good, and scrutinizing every past event from my childhood until yesterday that has led me to where I am. The best way I can describe it is that my mind is taken over, or starts to self-destruct. As hard as I try I just can’t pull myself back into reality at these points.

Sleep, when it finally arrives, barely helps as I’m prone during these episodes to nightmares, waking up sweat-drenched and tear-streaked, heart beating out of my chest at whatever horror my subconscious has thrown up.

18 months in I’m slowly learning what can trigger these spells of chaos. Too much time spent in solitude, especially when I’ve not planned to, is almost guaranteed to set me off, I’m more likely to start to spin out when I’m hormonal, or by allowing myself to get stressed by work or life.

Despite the above I try and keep in mind that I’m one of the lucky ones; 99% of the time I’m completely fine. These episodes are intermittent and often I can go months without a sleepless night or an irrational thought, whilst I have friends who suffer with varying levels of anxiety all the time. I’m so sorry that I didn’t understand until I experienced it myself, and dam girls I don’t know how you get out of bed in the mornings.  You have my utmost admiration for carrying on.

I’ve been reading up on what steps I can take to manage anxious feelings, and am already cutting back on alcohol, caffeine and nicotine which can aggravate the problem, eating well, trying hard to accept what I can’t control, letting go of disappointments and beginning to practice mindfulness and positivity exercises to keep my head on the straight and narrow.  I already knew that exercise and keeping myself busy and sociable is a guaranteed way to get back on track, but that can be tricky at 3am in the dead of winter.

Certain friends now recognise when I’m not myself, one will make sure I’m eating by bringing me food to work, and another two will bombard me with messages, jokes and gifs designed to make me laugh. I don’t think any of them know how grateful I am, so I hope they’re reading this.

I’m optimistic that in time, as my life settles down and whatever path I’m on becomes clearer, that these bouts become fewer, farther between and easier to extinguish. Until then I’ll keep talking about it, and keep asking people to read about it, because nobody should ever be ashamed to admit that they’re not ok.

I’ve included a few helpful links about anxiety below, and for anyone reading this who recognises the feeling and believes they need further support can call Anxiety UK on 08444 775 774 or MIND on 0300 123 3393, or speak to your GP.



Anxiety UK

New Year, Same Me (Only Better)

Happy New Year! Here we are in 2018. How did that happen?

Now is the time of year that gyms are full to capacity, the pubs are empty, and the supermarket fruit & veg shelves are bare (and not just because of the pesky boat). It seems like every is determined to completely reinvent themselves.

New Year, New Me? No Thanks. I’m quite happy with myself, most of the time, and don’t feel the need to shackle myself into a tedious regime that is almost certain to fail, in order to be someone different. There’ll be no Dry January here, I won’t be partaking in the 5:2 diet and my gym is actually closed for 3 months, so there’s no danger of me darkening their door. No sugar ban, no Nicotine patches and no jumping on & off the scales daily.

That’s not to say however that I haven’t used the holidays to have a think about where I am, where I want to be, and how to get there. I’ve come up with a list of 10 guidelines or targets for myself over the coming year. Not resolutions as such, just things to think about as I go about my usual life, to help keep me on the right track.

1. Say YES to opportunities

This year I’m going to try to agree to any new suggestion or experience that comes my way. Whether that’s joining my friends for a boxing class, making a presentation at a work event, or going on a blind date – I’m going to embrace it all and see how it turns out.

2. RUN! 

Dark nights and wild weekends have had an impact on my running of late, but with a place in the Great North Run looming in September, I need to get back out there, stat.

3. Look After My Skin 

Let’s face it I’m getting on a bit now, I love the sun and I smoke. It’s time to start taking my make up off from time to time, and throwing some moisturiser on.

4. Learn Something New

I’m not sure what this will be. I’ve downloaded the Duolingo app, and started pole dance lessons. Neither of these might work out, I may end up learning to code or line dance or successfully do an eyeliner flick, but I’m going to keep in mind that we should all keep learning, no matter what.

5. Have A Solo Adventure

This is more of a target than a guideline. At some point this year I want to do something just for me. I don’t know quite yet what this will be, but there are a few ideas floating around my head. Watch this space.

6. Smoke Less

Yes I know. Smoking is terrible and I should quit. But I’m not going to, just yet. I very much enjoy the smoke I have after a good meal with friends, or with a large glass of wine in the sunshine, so I’m not going to torture myself by giving those up. But I am going to try and cut all the ones I don’t particularly enjoy.

7. Cook More 

Since I’ve been living on my own I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I miss cooking for someone else, and can’t often find the motivation to do it for myself. But I’m going to make the effort now. Sometimes I’ll cook healthy nourishing meals, and sometimes I’ll cook dirty great buttery creamy treats. But I’ll cook.

8. Be Kind, Randomly

I love random acts of kindness, and am going to try and perform one as often as possible. Treating a friend to lunch, complimenting a stranger or volunteering for a charity. Whatever I can do to make someone smile.

9. Make Some Decisions

I have some big ones to make coming up, and the scariest part is making them on my own. Some are small and some are potentially life-changing. It’s easy to put them off, but make them I must, so make them I will.

10. Be Happy

I hope this one speaks for itself.


I’m going to write these out and stick them somewhere I’ll see them every day. Some will be easier than others, and some may fail where others succeed, but they’re just the little things I’d like to remind myself of as the weeks and months all too quickly role by.

I don’t want to come out of this year a ‘New Me’. I hope to be the same Me, only better.

Did you make any resolutions? Is there anything you’d like to improve on this year? Let me know in comments 🙂



‘‘Twas The Night After Christmas…

Well there we have it! Months of steadily intensifying build up and all of a sudden it’s all over, just like that. 24 little hours and it’s done.

The wrapping paper we agonised over in Paperchase has been ripped off & binned without a second thought, we’ve all eaten our body weight or more in cheese & chocolates and there are more pine needles embedded in your socks than on the tree.

It’s enough to make you wonder if it’s all worth it, but for the majority of people I think it probably is.

However you’ve spent the last 48 hours or so I hope you’ve had a wonderful time, enjoyed the company of friends, family or perhaps strangers on the internet, and also taken a moment to reflect on the year just gone, the blessings and challenges it brought and the lessons we can learn to take on into the next year.

It’s also a time to think of those no longer with us, to remember the good times we shared, maybe light a candle and raise a glass in their honour.

Personally I’ve enjoyed a nice balance of fun times, meals and drinks shared with good friends, along with some time to myself, stuffing my face in front of the TV, ugly crying at Christmas movies (It’s A Wonderful Life gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME), catching up on some sleep & collecting my thoughts.

Tomorrow I fly off to extend the festivities for a few days with family, so this will be my last post until January.

Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing last few days of 2017, and a very Happy New Year 😊