Tag Archives: challenge

40 Before 40: Challenge #14

15 Nov

Challenge 14 on my #40Before40 list is to eat vegan for 3 months. I haven’t started the challenge yet but I have started some research into it. I think that this challenge is certainly doable but I will have to plan in advance.

I have already had a look in supermarkets to see what alternatives they offer. One of the supermarkets here has a coconut oil spread alternative to butter. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I haven’t tried it yet because I don’t know if I am just not going to eat butter at all. I don’t eat a great deal of it anyway.

I have stopped drinking milk and have tried almold, oat and rice milk as potential alternatives. I am not particularly taken by any of them and almond milk is by far the worst. They seem to be a lot thinner than milk and a bit sweeter to the taste. I have also noticed that no matter how much I put in my cuppa, it doesn’t make it go the right colour. You will know what I mean if you are British and reading this. We have colour charts like most countries have for paint for our tea.

I have also swapped my normal breakfast of museli and youghurt for chia seed pudding made with my milk substitute, which hasn’t been so bad. Of course, when I do get going with it and I can’t have eggs and bacon for breakfast, I will definitely be complaining.

There is a good range of meat free products available in Coop. It’s mainly bean burgers, falafel and so on. All of this I can make myself, if I do manage to get myself organised. They also sell dairy free cheese. It will possibly taste like plastic but it is good to know it is there.

I have also spent quite a bit of time online researching some receipes. I googled best vegan breakfasts and I got a list of receipes that say “drizzle over a bit of honey…” If it has honey on it then it isn’t vegan. I was hoping that I would be able to find a list of lunch ideas which says “to the horseradish add roast beef”. That would make the challenge easier but I don’t think that I will find that.

I plan to start this challenge in earnest next spring/summer. As more fruits and vegetables are available in spring and summer, I think it will be easier to do it at this time of year. It will be tough not to have sausage on the BBQ but I can have grilled vegetables which I like just as much.

In the meantime, I will be continuing my search to find alternatives and ways to make sure that I get all the vitamins and minerals that I need. This is defintiely going to be a challenge! If any of you have any vegan receipes or tips that you would like to share with me, please feel free to get in touch!vegetables-2898523__340

40 Before 40: Challenge #27

6 Nov

Reading is one of my passions in life. I could easily sit and read for the whole day if I had the time and there were no interruptions. A great way to learn another language is to read. It is surprising how much you can learn passively.

However, as it is not always easy to read in another language, this can take the fun out of one of my favourite past times. Sometimes it feels like you are taking more time looking up words than you are actually reading the text. Despite this, I decide that my Challenge #27 would be to Read 40 novels in German.

So far, this is what I have read:

1. Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink (The Reader)

I read this book as part of my German lessons earlier this year. I wrote about this at the time on my blog. If you didn’t see it the first time, the link is here.

2. Happy Birthday Türke! by Jakob Arjourni (Happy Birthday Turk!)

This is the story of a private detective of Turkish heritage born in Germany, who is asked to investigate the death of a man, after the police have shown their disinterest to use resources to solve the murder of a “foreigner”. The story begins on the birthday of the detective, hence the title “Happy Birthday, Turk!”

The story also explores issues, such as racial stereotypes and the tensions that exist between people who are seen as foreigners and those who consider themselves to be natives. The books ends with the detective not only discovering the truth but also uncovering a corrupt system.

Thanks to this book I now know more words for prostitute in German than I do in English. I have no idea when I will use these words though.

3. Ein Tag mit Herrn Jules by Diane Broeckhoven (A Day with Mr Jules)

This was am interesting book about a woman whose husband passes away in his armchair in the morning. She doesn’t want to accept this and carries on her day as usual. What throws a spanner in the works is when the autistic child who lives in the same building comes over. He regularly comes over to plays chess with the man who has passed away.

Being autistic, he doesn’t like changes to his routine and the wife has to let him in to play chess with her husband. The boy realises quickly that his normal chess player has passed away but he spends the day with the wife anyway. By the end of the book, the wife has come to terms with her loss and admits that she needs to contact the relevant people, including her son and daughter, to deal with the death of her husband.

4. Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot by Sibyelle Berg (A few people search for happiness and laugh themselves to death)

This was an interesting book. I mainly chose the book because the author lives in Zurich. The story has short chapters which focus on individual chapters, by the end of the book several of the individual stories have intertwined.

The book explores themes such as love, loss, the complexity of relationships and, to a certain extent, the meaning of modern life.

By the end I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. I had quite a few unanswered questions. In terms of my language learning, I did learn a lot of new words, especially colloquial terms that are perhaps not easy to pick up by formal German lessons.

Four down, 36 to go…

40 Before 40: Challenge #10

14 Oct

After the Cardiff Half Marathon, I was surprised when I realised I had actually completed Challenge #10 of my 40 Before 40 list (‘Beat at least one of my running PBs for 10k, 10 miles, half marathon or marathon’). It was definitely not my intention to do that!

Somehow, I managed to beat my 10 mile (16km) personal best by a whole 9 seconds. Doesn’t sound so impressive, does it? If a professional runner takes 9 seconds off their time, it is a big deal. It doesn’t really work the same with amateurs, like me, who don’t have a great time to begin with.

Because it wasn’t my intention to aim to beat my best on this occasion, I have decided to say that this challenge is complete, because I have done it, but the tick is only marked in pencil. I know that I can do a lot better than this. However, if after 4.5 years when we are getting to the end of the challenge and I haven’t managed to do this in a more convincing manner, I will change the pencil mark to indelible ink.

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Since the Half Marathon, life has been a bit hectic. I haven’t been on any longer runs since then. I have decided to try and improve my times of some shorter running distances and then over time to increase the distance, while still trying to keep the faster pace. In addition to that, I will be focusing on eating healthier and losing some weight.

I have started off modestly with the running, by starting with 3km. I will try to get my time down to around 16 to 17 minutes and, once I have achieved that, try to run for 5km at the same pace. Let’s see how that goes. It may or may not work as I plan it to, but it is worth a try. This also means that I can focus a bit on core strength exercises which I have been too lazy to do over the past year. These exercises can be a bit boring and it is easy to overlook how important they are but they definitely help to improve fitness and performance.

Having said that, because the weather is still nice, I have planned to go for an 11km run on Monday evening after work. I know that 11km seems like a very specific amount. There is good reason for that.

While I was training for the Half, I had to scout out suitable routes. One of the routes is a nice route along the side of the golf course, along some farm land and past a field where there is a stable with horses and donkeys. Just past that field there is a bench, where I would sit for a rest when I had only just started my training. According to my running app, this bench is exactly 5.5km from my door. So, there and back makes 11km.

For some reason, 11km seems like so much more than 10km. That means that on Monday evening, I might have earned myself a well-deserved piece of chocolate.

40 Before 40: Challenge #2

9 Oct

For my second challenge of my 40 Before 40, I have decided to take on one of my passions in life – travel. My challenge is to visit 40 of the 51 countries in Europe before my 40th birthday. One of the plus points of moving to Switzerland was that it is in the centre of Europe and a lot easier to travel around. Over the past few years, I have been to a lot of new places but there are still more on the list to get through!

I was shocked when I realised that there were 51 independent countries. I have checked with several sources and they all say the same. So it must be true.

Technically, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey are transcontinental countries as they span Europe and Asia. Armenia and Cyprus are considered to be European countries, although they are geographically in West Asian territory.

Below is the list of the 51 European countries and next to the ones I have already visited I had put the date of when I visited. For some of the countries that I haven’t visited in the last 15 years or so there is just an approximate date.

So far, I have visited 25 out of the 51. I had better get packing my bags!

  1. Albania
  2. Andora
  3. Armenia
  4. Austria – August 17
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Belarus
  7. Belgium
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  9. Bulgaria – July 2008
  10. Croatia
  11. Cyprus – sometime in the 90s
  12. Czech Republic – July 2016
  13. Denmark – July 2016
  14. Estonia – May 2015
  15. Finland – May 2015
  16. France – December 2016
  17. Georgia
  18. Germany – June 2017
  19. Greece – around 2000
  20. Hungary – March 2014
  21. Iceland
  22. Ireland – June 2003
  23. Italy – May 2015
  24. Kazakhstan
  25. Kosovo
  26. Latvia – September 2015
  27. Leichtenstein
  28. Lithuania – September 2015
  29. Luxembourg
  30. Macedonia
  31. Malta – sometime in the 90s
  32. Moldova
  33. Monaco
  34. Montenegro
  35. Netherlands – December 2015
  36. Norway – March 2017
  37. Portugal – June 2014
  38. Poland
  39. Romania
  40. Russia
  41. San Marino
  42. Serbia
  43. Slovakia – August 2017
  44. Slovenia
  45. Spain – Sep 2014
  46. Sweden – Dec 2014
  47. Switzerland – country of residence
  48. Turkey
  49. Ukraine
  50. UK – birth place. That must count as being marked off the list
  51. Vatican City – May 2015

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Survivor

4 Oct

Along with 25,000 other people, I survived the half marathon on Sunday in Cardiff. From 9am on Sunday morning, the place was packed with runners ready to make their way around the 13.1 mile course. The 0.1 is very important. It’s this last little bit that will kill you off, if you’re not careful.

Of course, I could have trained more, lost a bit more weight but it was too late to think of what could’ve beens. Armed with a Cardiff City bin bag to keep me warm before the gun went off, it was only going to be my mind that would hold me back.

The start of the race was ok. There were so many people that it was impossible to start off too fast. We had already walked along part of the course two days before so I knew after we went through Penarth Marina and over the Barrage to Mermaid Bay that I was half way there.

I had a couple of bad patches, especially between mile 8 and 9 and then again after 10 miles, but with the help of the Rocky theme tune and some more classic hits, I managed to power through.

Overall, I was disappointed with my time but I did manage to run a 10 mile personal best. I only managed to beat it by 9 seconds, and I am sure that I can run better than that.

The weather stayed reasonably dry and I fully deserved my beer and fish and chips in the pub afterwards. I was glad that I didn’t have to get on a plane back to Switzerland on Sunday night. The legs were a touch sore.

On to the next race…

40 Before 40: Challenge #8

21 Sep

The eighth challenge on my #40Before40 list is to watch all of the films on the iMDB Top 250 films list.

These are the highest rated films on the iMDB (internet Movie Database). As the list is subject to change, I have “frozen” the list on 27.08.2017. My aim is to watch all of them before I turn 40.

Below is the complete list with the films that I have already seen highlighted in another colour. As I previously mentioned, the rule is that I don’t have to rewatch films that I have seen before.

I have been 100% honest with the list. I have seen parts of some of the films and then fallen asleep (think Lord of the Rings, but this was also true for Gladiator). So I will rewatch these in order to tick them off my list with confidence.

Of the 250 films, I have seen 79 of them. The films that are highlighted in green are films that I have recently watched. I have written a small review of these films at the bottom of the list.

  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. The Godfather
  3. The Godfather: Part II
  4. The Dark Knight
  5. 12 Angry Men
  6. Schindler’s List
  7. Pulp Fiction
  8. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  10. Fight Club
  11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  12. Forrest Gump
  13. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  14. Inception
  15. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  17. Goodfellas
  18. The Matrix
  19. Seven Samurai
  20. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
  21. City of God
  22. Se7en
  23. The Silence of the Lambs
  24. It’s a Wonderful Life
  25. Life is Beautiful
  26. The Usual Suspects
  27. Léon: The Professional
  28. Saving Private Ryan
  29. Spirited Away
  30. Once Upon a Time in the West
  31. American History X
  32. Interstellar
  33. Psycho
  34. City Lights
  35. Casablanca
  36. The Green Mile
  37. The Untouchables
  38. Modern Times
  39. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  40. The Pianist
  41. The Departed
  42. Rear Window
  43. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  44. Back to the Future
  45. Whiplash
  46. Gladiator
  47. The Prestige
  48. The Lion King
  49. Memento
  50. Apocalyspe Now
  51. Alien
  52. The Great Dictator
  53. Sunset Boulevard
  54. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  55. Cinema Paradiso
  56. The Lives of Other
  57. Grave of the Fireflies
  58. Paths of Glory
  59. Django Unchained
  60. The Shining
  61. E
  62. American Beauty
  63. The Dark Knight Rises
  64. Princess Mononoke
  65. Alien
  66. Old Boy
  67. Witness for the Prosecution
  68. Once Upon a Time in America
  69. Das Boot
  70. Citizen Kane
  71. Dunkirk
  72. Dangal
  73. Vertigo
  74. North by Northwest
  75. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
  76. Braveheart
  77. Resevior Dogs
  78. M
  79. Requiem for a Dream
  80. Amélie
  81. Like Stars on Earth
  82. A Clockwork Orange
  83. Lawrence of Arabia
  84. Double Indemnity
  85. Taxi Driver
  86. Your Name
  87. Amadeus
  88. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  89. To Kill a Mockingbird
  90. Full Metal Jacket
  91. Toy Story 3
  92. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  93. Singin’ in the Rain
  94. The Sting
  95. Toy Story
  96. Bicycle Thieves
  97. Inglorious Basterds
  98. The Kind
  99. 3 Idiots
  100. Snatch
  101. Monthy Python and the Holy Grail
  102. For a Few Dollars More
  103. L.A. Confidential
  104. The Hunt
  105. Good Will Hunting
  106. Scarface
  107. The Apartment
  108. Rashomon
  109. A Separation
  110. Metropolis
  111. My Father and My Son
  112. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  113. All About Eve
  114. Yojimbo
  115. Batman Begins
  116. Up
  117. Some Like It Hot
  118. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  119. Unforgiven
  120. Downfall
  121. Die Hard
  122. Raging Bull
  123. Heat
  124. The Third Man
  125. Children of Heaven
  126. The Great Escape
  127. Chinatown
  128. Ikiru
  129. Pan’s Labyrinth
  130. My Neighbor Totoro
  131. Ran
  132. Inside Out
  133. The Gold Rush
  134. The Secret in Their Eyes
  135. On the Waterfront
  136. Incendies
  137. Judgement at Nuremburg
  138. Bridge Over the River Kwai
  139. Howl’s Moving Castle
  140. Room
  141. Bladerunner
  142. The Seventh Seal
  143. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  144. Smith Goes to Washington
  145. Casino
  146. A Beautiful Mind
  147. The Elephant Man
  148. Wild Strawberries
  149. V for Vendetta
  150. The Wolf of Wall Street
  151. The General
  152. Warrior
  153. La La Land
  154. Andrei Rublev
  155. Trainspotting
  156. Dial M for Murder
  157. Sunrise
  158. Gran Torino
  159. The Bandit
  160. The Deer Hunter
  161. Gone with the Wind
  162. Fargo
  163. The Sixth Sense
  164. The Big Lebowski
  165. The Thing
  166. No Country for Old Men
  167. Finding Nemo
  168. Tokyo Story
  169. Logan
  170. Hacksaw Ridge
  171. Cool Hand Luke
  172. Rang De Basanti
  173. There Will Be Blood
  174. Rebecca
  175. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  176. Come and See
  177. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
  178. How to Train Your Dragon
  179. Mary and Max
  180. Gone Girl
  181. A Wednesday
  182. Into the Wild
  183. Shutter Island
  184. It Happened One Night
  185. Life of Brian
  186. Wild Tales
  187. Platoon
  188. Hotel Rwanda
  189. The Wages of Fear
  190. Rush
  191. Network
  192. In the Name of the Father
  193. Stand By Me
  194. Baby Driver
  195. The 400 Blows
  196. Ben-Hur
  197. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  198. Persona
  199. Mad Max: Fury Road
  200. Spotlight
  201. 12 Years a Slave
  202. Million Dollar Baby
  203. Memories of Murder
  204. Jurassic Park
  205. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  206. Amores Perros
  207. Stalker
  208. The Maltese Falcon
  209. Paper Moon
  210. The Truman Show
  211. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
  212. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  213. The Night of Cabiria
  214. The Princess Bride
  215. Before Sunrise
  216. Munna Bhai M.B.B.S
  217. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  218. The Grapes of Wrath
  219. Prisoners
  220. Rocky
  221. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  222. Touch of Evil
  223. Catch Me If You Can
  224. Diabolique
  225. Gandhi
  226. Sholay
  227. Donnie Darko
  228. Monsters, Inc
  229. Annie Hall
  230. The Bourne Ultimatum
  231. The Terminator
  232. Barry Lyndon
  233. The Wizard of Oz
  234. Groundhog Day
  235. Le Haine
  236. Jaws
  237. Twelve Monkeys
  238. Internal Affairs
  239. The Best Years of Our Lives
  240. Hera Pheri
  241. The Help
  242. In the Mood for Love
  243. Beauty and the Beast
  244. The Battle of Algiers
  245. Gangs of Wasseypur
  246. Dog Day Afternoon
  247. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  248. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  249. K

 

Recent film reviews:

71. Dunkirk – I thoroughly enjoyed this film. To my shame I didn’t know much about what happened at Dunkirk. It was an eye opener and very emotional to watch. The woman sat next to me in the cinema was sobbing her heart out. The film shows three separate stories that are intertwined. I was completely engrossed until part way into the film when I thought “Oh that’s Harry Styles!”. In fairness, he performance was good; a lot better than his 1D days.

146. A Beautiful Mind –  I am not sure how I have managed to avoid this film for the past 16 years. I think that I have seen the start of the film before because it did seem familiar. It is the story of the mathematician John Nash, who suffered with mental health problems, even though his work and theories have probably influenced economics more than anyone else in the 20th century. The story was not 100% accurate, as I later found out reading more about his life online, but the story is interested and had me gripped.

170. Hawsaw Ridge – I had no idea what this film was about. It charts the life of Desmond Doss, a soldier in WWII, who is a consciencious objector to war because of his religious view. He enlists in the medical corps to save lives rather then take them. The film, more than any other war film I have seen, depicts the senselessness and futility of war and also serves as a reminder than one person can make a difference.

175. How to Train a Dragon – one of only two animated films on the list that I haven’t seen. For me, there weren’t enough innuendos aimed at adults in the film. Normally in these types of films there are several layers so that adults understand some parts of the film in a slightly different way to how a child would. Nevertheless, the good defeats evil in the end. And the dragons are pretty cool.

194. Baby Driver – I have no idea what I was expecting with this film. I had only seen the poster for the film before I went to the cinema. The film was a lot better than I was expecting and had a really good cast. I also loved all the music. Highly recommended.

238. Twelve Monkeys – I have a sneeky suspicion that I have seen this film before, but I watched it all anyway. Bruce Willis’ character time-travels between the 2034 and 1996 trying to find out who has wiped out the human race with a deadly virus. An, at times, complex plot because of the to-ing and fro-ing between the two time periods.

 

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40 Before 40: Challenge #29

19 Sep

One of my challenges for my #40Before40 is to read every book on the 40 Books that Every Woman Should Read list.

My reasoning behind this was that I predominately read books my male authors; more by accident than design. I recently discovered that the Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbo, is actually male. All this time I thought he was a woman, mainly because in English “Jo” is a woman’s name and “Joe” is a man’s name. So, this list will hopefully redress the balance.

There are a number of books on this list that I have part read and not finished. Some of them I definitely started as a young teenager and never go round to finishing.

Of course, I have read all of the Harry Potter books. I was a bit late to the party. I read all of them, one after another, in the summer of 2015. Some of the authors are not as famous as J.K. Rowling but I am sure that their books are equally as worthy of being on the list.

Below is the complete list. Those books highlights in red I have already read. Out of 40 I have read 4. Time to get reading!

  1. The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley
  2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  4. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  6. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  7. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  8. Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector
  9. The House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende
  10. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  11. Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion
  12. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  13. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  15. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  16. Runaway by Alice Munro
  17. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  18. Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson
  19. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  20. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  21. Cherry by Mary Karr
  22. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  23. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
  24. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  25. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  26. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer
  27. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  28. Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender
  29. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  30. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  31. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  32. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
  33. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  34. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  35. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  36. What Was She Thinking? by Zoe Heller
  37. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  38. Broken Harbor by Tana French
  39. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  40. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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