24 More Things I’ve Learned by 24

Pastel pink and floral notebooks

Last September I shared 23 Things I’ve Learned by 23. Now approaching my 24th birthday, I’ve put together another list. I’m all for lifelong learning.

Here we go:

1. You can’t and don’t need to do everything. Prioritise your commitments.

2. Qualities can be more important than qualifications.

3. Social contact can help you live longer. Make sure to ‘build your village’.

4. What a stranger at a train station thinks of you really doesn’t matter.

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September Reflections

View from Cissbury Ring, West Sussex

If Richard Curtis adapted my experience of this month into a romantic comedy, it could be called One Wedding and a Funeral. It would feature plenty of love, laughter and tears, without puffy dresses or patterned waistcoats.

September has brought another milestone – going back to school. I recently started the second year of my MA. This looks set to be the last autumn I spend balancing professional work and academic work (and blogging and…). I’m keen to get stuck in and appreciate the experience. Please remind me of that when I’m in the library two hours from home and it’s dark outside.

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A Life Well Lived

Sam, my Grandad, passed away on Saturday. For the past few months, my family has been going through the raw, uncomfortable process of losing an important person. Grandad was witty, clever and always supportive. His steady presence was accompanied by a love of history, languages, golf and West Bromwich Albion F.C.

I miss – and will continue to miss – his stories. In April 2013, we stayed with relatives in Mumbles, a village at the far end of Swansea Bay that leads to the Gower Peninsula. I’ve written briefly about this place as home before. On this visit, like many previously, we walked around Oystermouth Castle. As my cousins played on a tire swing and Nanny looked across the bay, Grandad and I ventured through the trees. He gestured to the house where he and my great grandparents had lived in the 1950s, enthusiastically describing how he grew from a teen into a cheeky young man with a motorcycle. Before this he had lived in Ethiopia and afterwards he moved to Birmingham. In the early 1980s, his young family moved back to the Gower, where my Mum later met my Dad, an Oceanography student from Kent.

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Coeliacs Abroad: Florence

A view of Florence, Italy, from the Duomo.

Molly in Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy.

I recently visited Italy for the first time. I met my parents in Florence, where we stayed in a charming, convenient Airbnb for four nights (Friday to Tuesday).

I was excited about the culture but slightly apprehensive about what three coeliacs would eat in the land of wheat pasta and pizza. As with Amsterdam, I researched places beforehand and we managed well.

Here are some highlights from our trip.

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For Mum

In the hallway, our childhood photos sit side by side. Occasionally we pause on the stairs, noticing the marked similarities – the full faces, full fringes. I am three, at nursery completing a puzzle, looking away as if I already know where the pieces fit. You are sitting down, tucked neatly next to your sister.

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