37 Before 37

37 Before 37

Now that I’ve turned 36, it’s time for me to unveil my next birthday list. In case you don’t know, each year, just after my birthday, I make a list of things I want to achieve by the time my next birthday rolls around. I’m notoriously bad at it, I rarely tick more than a few things off each list, but I persist anyway because I really like making the lists, and by this point, the list is kind of central to my blog!

Unbelievably, 37 Before 37 is my tenth list! As I mentioned last year, each year gets harder and harder, as I have to think of one new thing for the list. I tend to look around the internet for inspiration, but the problem there is that many people make grand lists of big life events that they want to achieve, and my lists aren’t about marriage, houses, babies, etc. They are about the little things that make life a little more interesting!

So here’s this year’s list. Some are a bit silly (e.g. get drunk – on the list because I don’t really drink any more but it’s fun to sometimes have too much!), but I’m going to try hard again to get them done!

  • Tick off three incomplete items from previous lists
  • Watch ten films based on Shakespeare plays
  • Watch ten animated non-Disney films
  • Read all the Poirot books
  • Finish three cross-stitches
  • Knit a blanket
  • Go to Paris
  • Do something amazing for Hannah’s 30th birthday
  • Re-read Lord of the Rings
  • Buy a car
  • Set up a home writing space
  • Get a National Trust or English Heritage membership
  • Have a day out with my sisters
  • Watch 52 films by women (written or directed)
  • Go to ten new-to-me vegan restaurants
  • Have watched ten foreign-language films from this list
  • Bake eight cakes
  • Complete an online screenwriting course
  • Go to the theatre
  • Learn to play my ukulele
  • Have a regular yoga practice
  • Go on five weekends away
  • Start an IGTV channel
  • Establish and stick to a morning skincare routine
  • Feature five Essex Loves interviews
  • Enter a writing competition
  • Earn money from my blog
  • Photograph fifty new blue plaques
  • Re-design my blog
  • Finish watching E.R. and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Listen to 12 audiobooks
  • Get drunk
  • Use 12 new vegan/cruelty-free items
  • Go to a live recording of a podcast
  • Rewatch The West Wing
  • Go to a boot sale
  • Watch all previously unwatched Steven Spielberg-directed films

By the way, if you’re wondering how I got on with 36 Before 36. a round up post is on its way, but time was ticking away and I thought I’d better get 37 Before 37 up and running so I could make a start!

Birthday Club 2019

I’ve decided to try again with a Birthday Club – it worked really well a couple of years ago, but then I dropped the ball on it last year, despite encouraging people to sign up! So I’m going to try again…


The rules are simple. Send me an email with the details below, and I’ll pair you up with another person. You can then buy a gift, or a small selection of gifts, up to a value of £10-£12, before postage, and send it off in time for their birthday. They’ll then do the same for you!

Email me – itydarling@gmail.com – with the following information:

  • Name
  • Postal address
  • Date of birthday
  • Age (if you want to share!)
  • Likes and dislikes, including allergies

Closing date for entries is 2nd December, and I’ll endeavour to get people paired off by 9th December, so that anyone paired with an early January birthday will have plenty of time. I’ll also try and send a reminder email a week or so before your partner’s birthday, in case you’re as unorganised as me!

On Iceland, orangutans, and palm oil


Over the past few days, you’ve probably seen the Christmas advert that Iceland, a UK supermarket, were planning to show on television. The advert has been deemed to be ‘directed towards a political end’ by the broadcast code for advertising practice, and Iceland have therefore been prevented from showing it on television, but the full advert has been doing the rounds on social media. It’s actually a short film by Greenpeace that highlights the devastation of the palm oil industry on orangutans and their rain forest homes.

People are up in arms, and why wouldn’t they be? Not only is the banning of the advert worrying, but it has stirred up a lot of emotions about orangutans – they are beautiful creatures, (ones that already feel tragic because of their droopy faces) and their homes are being razed the ground for us. Anything that can make people think about the human impact on the world is a good thing; if you do any amount of reading on the subject of the environment, you’ll know that we’re very nearly at a point of no return when it comes to the resources that we use.

My main issue as I watch my newsfeeds clog up with petitions and sad-face emojis, is that the vast majority of the people who are upset are committed meat-eaters. I’ve made a promise never to be a preachy vegan, and I think that, for the most part, I’ve stuck to that in the ten and a half months since I swore off animal products. I’m not perfect, and there are plenty of things that I know I can still do to reduce my own impact on the world.

But as your friendly neighbourhood vegan, I’m here to say that if you’ve watched this Iceland advert and felt truly worried about what we, as a species, are doing to this planet, you may want to take a look at some of the statistics about animal agriculture. Greenhouse gases, water consumption, pollution – all things on which you can make an impact by going vegan, or at least by reducing your meat consumption. Take a look at the Veganuary website for a detailed look at some of the benefits of changing your diet. If your conscience has been pricked by an animated short film, take this chance to find out more about how your lifestyle can make a difference.

As a non-preachy vegan, I’m not even going to get into the discussion of why the plight of a baby orangutan elicits sympathy in a way that a baby cow doesn’t. Again, there’s a whole wealth of information at your fingertips if you’re interested in learning more.

It’s interesting when something I spend a lot of time thinking about, both on a personal and professional level, hits the headlines, and I see what I know is true: as a society, we’re all worried about the future, and for the most part, we all love animals. And I’m sure that as time goes on, more and more people will connect their own actions and choices with the future of the planet. It can be daunting, especially as we know that real change can only come via the people in charge. But I truly believe that my own choices are important.

Just Jane 004


A semi-regular series in which I share a fact or three about myself.

I hate whales. Or rather, I’m sure they are lovely, but I have a weird phobia/fear of them that means I can’t watch them on television, or think about them, because they make me feel tiny and that makes my arms go tingly. I’ve written about it before, but it’s a vastness thing – they are too big, and my brain struggles to comprehend my relativity to them (the big ones obviously; I’m fine with orcas and the like). I’m similarly affected by really tall trees and space.

I’m a real fan of podcasts, and my time spent listening to them is the reason that my book totals for the past few years have been so low. I have my favourites: Wittertainment, The West Wing Weekly, Serial, Casefile etc. But I’m always, always up for discovering new podcasts, and I love finding something I can binge. I’ve tried to start a regular podcast post here on the blog, but I have managed one post so far. As is the case so often with series that I start on this blog.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that to love books you have to own books. I have a lot of books, but my house isn’t big enough to have beautiful bookshelves full of hundreds of books. Nor do I really have the money for that either. So I make extensive use of the library, and I try only to buy books that I will want the authors to sign. Maybe one day I’ll have a house that will fit more books in, but if not, I won’t mind too much.