My Money Diaries: January

Welcome to the first in My Money Diaries series. If you're new to my blog you might want to read this post first to see where this idea was born and give the original series on Refinery29 a read (it's brilliant, I highly recommend it).

As it's my first one, I'm giving a basic introduction to how I organise my finances each month and then will document a week of my spending.


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My Money Diaries

As a dedicated reader of Refinery29, there's one email I love dropping into my inbox every week: The Money Diaries


This series is touted as:

We're tacking what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period - and we're tracking every last penny. 

Not only is this a brilliantly voyeuristic thing to read, some of them are fantastically written (the Drag Queen on £16k one was last years highlight) but this is also one of the best budgeting tools I know: write down every damn thing you spend. 

Each January I put myself on a budget, usually to kick off my year to a good start and get me in the right mindset regarding spending, saving and generally behaving myself financially. This January I'm even more broke than usual as I've just paid for a trip to Belgium next month (#BeerTours) which means I've had to be even more mindful with my money. When this is necessary I do my favourite trick of allocate myself a budget, withdraw that exact amount of money from my bank and use nothing else for the rest of the month. As long as you can leave your contactless cards firmly in your purse, then this works a treat.

However, I thought starting a Money Diaries series on my blog might be interesting and if I do this sporadically throughout the year it might keep me accountable. 

It's going to mean disclosing some financials - not my salary, that's no one else's business - and my rent is scary, but I do pride myself on being a relatively good spender AND saver (or so I think), so it might be useful to someone reading who is looking for some good financial behavioural tips. 

And so My Money Diaries is born, with full credit to Refinery29 for this idea. Stay tuned. 

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Pretty Good Year

I came into 2017 hopeful for a good year. 2016 had been such a shitshow on many levels so all I could ever hope for was that the next year would be a better one. 

Life is short and opportunities can pass you by so fast, so in 2017 I decided I would try to do everything that I possibly wanted to do. Nothing changes until you try! 

No one has the time or bandwidth for me to run through all the amazing things I did in 2017, so here are my personal highlights. 

I met some of the most amazing women on earth: and even if I didn't get to speak to them face to face, I got to sit in a room and absorb their wisdom. Highlights for me this year include Gillian Anderson, Margaret Atwood and Jodie Foster. I can't believe I was in the presence of three of my heroes this year.

I ran with my favourite hobby, science, and grasped every opportunity that came my way with both hands. I met 2 astronauts (Scott Kelly and Jim Reilly), I laid under a rocket at Kennedy Space Centre and a Space Shuttle in Washington, I sat in Mission Control for the International Space Station at NASA Houston, I went on the Science March and laughed so hard at the brilliant signs that people were carrying, I went to Blue Dot Festival and danced to Orbital in a field looking at the beautiful Lovell Telescope, I celebrated Yuri's Night in Edinburgh, I touched 3 pieces of the moon and saw 4 pairs of boots that have actually walked on the moon.

I revived my love of cult tv and spent time in my beautiful nerd community when Twin Peaks S3 aired and talked about it to everyone I met, I cosplayed as Shelly Briggs to LFCC, I took my friend from Melbourne to Cardiff to the Doctor Who Experience for one last time before it closed and I cried when I discovered we were finally getting a female Doctor. 

I experienced so much live theatre, comedy and music at the Edinburgh Fringe, I had my mind blown when I went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I saw Public Service Broadcasting more times than I've seen any band in my 38 years on this earth, I finally got to dance to Bananarama as they sang their hits on stage in Hammersmith, I experienced first hand how lucky you can get in theatres in the West End when I got my seat upgraded for free at Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Venus in Fur. I discovered Kisstory and Ultimate Power nights out and danced myself into several sunrises.

I embraced and experienced new lifestyle choices; I stayed in a Tiny House when I was travelling around the US, I bought a bike and began cycling all over West London and Surrey, I improved my minimalism and moved into a beautiful brand new home, I learned that spending you money on the best bed you can afford makes your life even better than you could imagine, I steered clear of romantic relationships, invested in my friendships and focussed on my own happiness; all of which were the best emotional decisions I've ever made. I stopped wearing make-up as often, I gave up wearing heels, I spent more time outdoors, I have run out of  money at the end of the month more times than I ever have in my life, but it was so worth it. 

It's been one of the best years of my tiny life. It's been so good that I'm even going out to celebrate New Years Eve this year (something I've not done since 2004) as I want to go out of this year on the absolute high that it's given me.

Life, you are full of surprises. I can't wait to see what happens next :)

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In case you're new, or have never interacted with me on social media, I BLOODY LOVE SPACE, ME. 

Introvert designs FTW, NASA. 

Space is not only fascinating, beautiful and educational;  it gives you great perspective about life, who you are on this planet, and the size of this planet. It makes me think we really should all be pulling together, not forcing ourselves apart. There are people orbiting the earth every 90 minutes in a science lab RIGHT NOW ABOVE YOUR HEAD and we're pissing about whinging about boys or twitter likes, or dress sizes. 

Fuck that noise, get some perspective. Get some space. 

Sit under a Saturn V or lay under the butt of a Space Shuttle, you quickly realise how tiny you really are. 

Saturn V @ Kennedy Space Center, FL

Space Shuttle Discovery @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, VA 

(Photo credit to my official #spacetours photographer: Martin Greaves)
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Life Happens

When you give up big things in your life you wonder how you're ever going to fill the void that they leave behind. This is true of so many things; relationships, diet culture, social media - when they've taken up so much of your time what happens to the void left behind when they're gone? 

The answer is always the same, the void isn't left hanging there. In fact there isn't even a void, the space is instantly filled up with other things.

I've realised this is also the case with blogging. I stopped writing and the void got filled with life happening. 

Life is happening, though. At a fast pace. It's ridiculous and fun. I wouldn't want it any other way right now. I am completely happy. 

I'm sure I'll have something to write about again in the future, I just can't commit to what or when that will be. The blog stays, though. I don't want to lose my creative outlet altogether. After all, girl is always entitled to change her mind. 

I'm still somewhat active on Twitter and Instagram, you can find me there if you'd like to. Otherwise, I'll catch you later and thanks for reading. 

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Doctor Who: BFI & Radio Times Television Festival

As part of the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, I went to the Doctor Who panel a couple of weekends back.

With Executive Producer for the show, Brian Minchin and what was advertised as cast members (but with no confirmed names). This is quite usual, as when I went to the Yonderland S3 launch at the BFI we were due to have a few members of the cast but ended up with a full-house. 

Doctor Who is going through a regeneration this year, in every sense; there's two new companions onboard (Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas) and in the near future a new writer taking over (Chris Chibnall of Broadchurch fame) and a new Doctor soon to be at the TARDIS helm (place your bets; Kris Marshall is current favourite at the time of writing), so I expected this event to be more than just a chat about the new series and some previews of the epsiodes to come (due to air a week after this panel happened). 

Doctor Who panels can always be a bit cloak-and-dagger, though. They tend to never give much away (I was at the panel at DWF in which Sarah Dollard spoke in great depth about her trap streets episode without giving away which character she had to kill off in the episode, and she was so tactful) but give enough away to let you know something is going on. Anything can happen, basically. You take a gamble when you book these tickets as to what you're going to get.

But that's all part of the fun, innit?

On the day, Brian was joined by Stephen Moffat, Pearl Mackie and, Mister crushed-velvet-jacket himself, Peter Capaldi.

We were treated to an IMAX viewing of the latest trailer and some scenes from the first episode of series 10, all designed to give us a good introduction to Bill and the relationship she develops with The Doctor.

It was clear from the discussion that series 10 is another fresh start. A new companion always seems to trigger that, Moffatt said it was the closest in feeling to 'Rose' of all the new companion episodes to date. I'm excited about that. I love a new companion episode as much as I love a new Doctor one, and I'm already pretty fond of Bill, so I can't wait to see her how character plays out this series.

Obviously, we're also saying goodbye to Peter this series (on the Sunday I attended this panel he'd just finished filming the series on Friday) and he did seem a little subdued. I assume it was mostly due to sitting in a dark room talking about Doctor Who for the millionth time, but I guess you can read into it as much as you wish. One thing he did do (which I've noticed in previous panels as well) is that he comes alive the Q&A sessions with the audience. That man loves his job and the relationship the fandom has with the show, and as soon as someone asked a question about Old Who he was off talking about Patrick Troughton. Bless him, he's still just as big a fan as he always was.

And yes, someone asked about the new Doctor and Peter played the pronoun game very well; 'they'll have the best job in the world' and so on. Moffat spoke honestly about spoilers being revealed (how they were very cloak-and-dagger about things last series, despite him being great at leaving production notes on the First Great Western line) and that this series they've decided just to let things roll (I immediately let this mean that if the new Doctor announcement gets leaked, it's probably accurate, like when bets stopped being taken on Capaldi back in 2013).

So, we didn't get all the gossip we really wanted, but we got to meet Pearl, and that was fantastic. Personally, I love a new companion episode as it's like having a refresh button on the show - anyone can jump in at that episode and learn who the Doctor is and enjoy the series from start to finish without getting too hung up of canon (albeit the first episode of series 10 turned out to be littered with in-jokes, but they weren't too obvious).

Let's see how the series progresses, but for this one, I am hopeful. At least we know we're in for a dramatic ending!

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