Things I tried to do on my sabbatical

I took two months off between quitting my old job and starting my new job. On my to-do list for the sabbatical were the following, and this is how I got on.


Please bear in mind I was expecting this sabbatical to last at least 4 months, and actually it was a week and then 4 weeks… (interrupted by a week in the USA, and two weeks of full time mum mode with Supernanny out recovering from appendicitis):

  • read 10 books – pfff. I opened and abandoned one, and have started but not abandoned 3 more.
  • resurrect blog – done! Right at the end of the break, but it still counts, right?
  • cook 10 new meals – definitely done. I like HelloFresh* and Gousto* for helping me switch up the meal planning
  • go on 3 long bike rides – pfff. Not a single one. We did take the bikes to CenterParcs though.
  • Walk at least 10 miles across London – who was I kidding?
  • lose 8kg – yeah, right. Next!
  • Start learning Italian again – ummm, nope.
  • establish a gym habit – hmm. Start gym habit, sure. Establish – no.
  • Run a sub-30 minute 5km – astonishingly, done! New shoes and a new route helped, as did a new podcast to listen to!
  • Learn to write a website – I did a few website sessions but it’s painfully slow progress.

* There are referral benefits for these – if you want me to introduce you, drop me an email at and I’ll set you up.

Less loftily, my specific Bullet Journal October tasks and goals were:

  • Get a new job – done!
  • Catch up on the family budget – done at some point early in October for the previous 6 months, and I’ve been keeping up since
  • Get new clothes – done. I have been throwing out anything that doesn’t fit / I don’t like (a la Marie Kondo) and found myself somewhat short of clothes. A £100 spree at Marks and Spencer fixed that up.
  • Get Bookmark to go to sleep in her bed – achieved on a few occasions, but not a solid habit yet, though we are doing pretty well so far in November despite teething and a horrible cold
  • Go to Confession – done
  • Sew 3 projects – I sewed two (a plastic shopping bag holder and some cleaning clothes that are flannellette on one side and a silly pattern on the other). I failed miserably at two skirts and got grumpy.
  • Start a crochet project – done (earwarmers)! I even finished it too. Unfortunately it’s a bit small for me, and Bookmark doesn’t see the point in earwarmers.
  • Sort the photos we have of Bookmark to date, and get a new canvas printed up – didn’t touch this one
  • Practise 3 braid hairstyles – or this one!

On my November goal list is (some of them are the things I didn’t get done in the last few months!):

  • Start new job (done!)
  • Get Christmas shopping started and completed (urgh!)
  • Get Bookmark to go to sleep by herself consistently
  • Sew/crochet 3 new projects
  • Practise 3 braid hairstyles
  • Read and review 5 books
  • Go on one long bike ride. See how I’m not defining “long”?
  • Take Bookmark out on the bike at least once
  • Finish the German Duolingo tree and have it all gold at once!
  • Get started on another language’s Duolingo
  • Look at other language learning tools e.g. Memrise, conversation tools
  • Carry on with website learning

And on the November task list (I put less lofty aspirations here):

  • Birthday present for Supernanny, whose birthday is a week before mine
  • Sort the photos we have of Bookmark to date, and get a new canvas printed up
  • Fix up my very broken cricket pads

Plenty to keep me busy!

US election mood-lightener

I haven’t watched much Stephen Colbert, but this job interview preparation session he did with Barack Obama is very entertaining.

It’s 7 minutes in total and not safe for work or small ears, but I recommend it anyway for a little bit of light-hearted diversion from the anxiety of waiting for the election results.

Bullet Journalling week – the overview

I’ve taken to bullet journalling in a slightly sporadic and inconsistent way, but I do enjoy it and it is definitely help me be more organised and spend less time “doing housework / house admin” and more time doing things I want to do.

(for those who don’t know what bullet journalling is, here is the original creator’s take and video:

plus a few other introductory posts – Modern Mrs Darcy, Bohoberry, Tiny Ray of Sunshine).

I’m keeping my BuJo pretty basic for now – I’m not blessed with much artistic talent, but I am enjoying being able to look back over the last few months and see the changes in my life coming out nicely!

I thought I’d do a couple of posts this week focussing loosely (can one focus loosely?) on the BuJo:

  • my love of stationery and my inability to spell the word
  • my October and November (ongoing) goals
  • Things I promised myself I’d do on sabbatical and how I got on with those
  • anything else I think of!

Are any of you using a BuJo?

Oh – and a link to my Pinterest Bullet Journal board which is mostly my envy of other people’s handwriting!

Things I learnt in May/June/July

  1. I like bullet journalling, even though I find it hard to do consistently.
  2. It takes longer to get to London Bridge than I think it does, and to leave the house with a one-year-old, and the combination is very very bad. But British Airways are lovely and don’t smirk at you when it transpires that you actually booked a flexible ticket and so can rebook without any hassle at all.
  3. Some unusual cricketing rules – I took an umpiring course in March and really enjoyed it!
  4. I can live without chocolate. But I don’t like living without it.
  5. Kids learn by example surprisingly fast. Bookmark likes to clean things. Obviously I spend too much of my parenting time cleaning!
  6. I really enjoy having a place to blog, even if I don’t do it often.
  7. Hobbies are much more fun when you’re not worried about doing them well.
  8. It’s really easy to lose a specific fitness (in my case, cycling) even though you are working on general fitness or a different specific fitness (5km running).
  9. Sometimes 6 USB ports aren’t enough.
  10. It’s really hard to tell black trousers apart in the dark.
  11. Soft play centres for kids are amazing.
  12. Sometimes I don’t want the reward, even when I’ve earned it.
  13. I can’t consistently get to sleep by 10pm.

To-do list

“I have my best ideas in the shower” says everyone.

I mostly remember things I need to do when I’m in the shower. By the time I’m out of the shower, I’ve forgotten them again. If only I had some way to write in the shower?

Enter the Bath Crayon.

The Hedge Fund Slave saw some in Stockholm airport and brought them back for Bookmark, and we draw cats and stars and ducks and goodness knows what on the walls of the bath during bath time. A stroke of genius has led me to commandeer the black crayon (which Bookmark never used) for the shower!


(These ones on Amazon – affiliate link – aren’t the exact ones that we have, but they look very similar – you get the idea.)

Copyright laws

Someone kindly commented on a recent  post that I should read Gone with the Wind, and that that would cure my reading ills.


Thinking “that’s a pretty old book, I wonder if there’s a free ebook version of it now” I do a spot of Googling. And discover that it is out of copyright in Australia, but not in the USA and EU (of which, for now, the UK is a part).

How weird is that?

It gets weirder. This UPenn site gives a handy overview; in short, lots of countries operate “life + 70” i.e. the item enters the public domain 70 years after the author died. Margaret Mitchell died in 1949, so we can expect to see free ebook copies of GWTW in 2019. Some countries operate “life + X” where X is not 70; X is at least 25 in keeping with the Universal Copyright Convention except in a few countries where copyright is basically non-existent.

However, Australia changed from “life + 50” to “life + 70” in 2005 and didn’t make it retrospective (a wise choice in my opinion – how on earth would you administer that?!). So GWTW went into the public domain there in 1999 (MM’s year of death + 50), and they didn’t try to get it back in 2005.

A little literary legal quirk for you! The UPenn site is very readable and interesting – I would definitely recommend a quick read.

(and if you’re wondering, I resisted temptation for now, but I might download it when I’m in Australia in December as by my interpretation that would then be legal? Would I be allowed to bring it back to the UK? So unclear!)

New job

I start my new job today – first new job in more than 8 years (though I have changed role several times in those 8 years and gone on and come back from maternity leave).

I’m oddly relaxed.

Wish me luck anyway!