I have wide and varied interests: being a polymath, I’m always looking out for new things, but I have a certain number of interests that are fairly consistent.
After being made redundant in 2006, I took the opportunity to realise my dream of travelling around the world in 2007-8. I kept a record (if not a very polished one) via a travelblog. My travels took me to South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. I then continued my travels around Europe, working as a voluntary Tour Leader for Oak Hall. I attended a travel-writing course in 2007, but decided that I was going travelling to broaden my mind and enjoy new experiences, rather than write about them! Once travelling, I of course looked for ways to challenge myself, in particular with gaining my PADI Open-Water qualification, jumping out of a plane, but the main joy was in constantly meeting so many different people! In 2013, I had the privilege of being one of Tearfund’s first #TFBloggers, and my book has led to a number of invitations overseas!
Christianity & Contemporary Culture
Church is not a building, it’s the people and the personal relationship with Jesus Christ: what does it mean to become more like Jesus? How do we authentically influence the culture that we live within by the way that we live? I have a very ecumenical background: I grew up in an Open Brethren church, went to a Baptist Church at University/with Oak Hall, an Anglican church throughout my PhD and Winchester working life, and in Durham mix College (Anglican/Methodist) services with a Methodist housegroup.
I love books and I constantly trip over the many books scattered around my room – or have to remove from my Kindle memory! Often using books for time out, I love easy reading, including chic lit and Regency trash, but sometimes the brain calls out for something more strenuous. The books that remain on my bookshelves tend to focus on the following topics: Christian living, body image, life coaching, travelling, and a variety of books related to my thesis. I grew up with a love of Anne of Green Gables (Prince Edward Island is on my bucket list!), Laura Ingalls Wilder, and continue to re-read Georgette Heyer (which my mum introduced me to) at many opportunities.
I find the way that people make meaning out of the world fascinating, although I found studying Psychology in my first year at University too ‘sciency’. I now enjoy reading many life coaching books, undertaking personality tests, and enjoy Psychologies magazine. I take opportunities where possible to attend courses which will improve my personal development, and give me extra skills. I loved my time in Girlguiding, achieving the Baden-Powell Trefoil – but only getting halfway through my Guider’s warrant before I headed off travelling – one day I’ll be back!
I’m really interested in the holistic concept of fitness, and whilst earning, am a regular sight down the gym. Circuit training, Boxercise, Bodypump’, and martial arts are my favourite classes (yellow belt karate), whilst swimming is my ‘turn-to’ activity when all that’s just too much.
In 2006-7 I ran two x 10ks in a respectable time (just over 1 hour each), and completed the (overnight) Playtex Moonwalk in London in 8.5 hours. Global budget travel and fitness are two concept which don’t work too well together, but I ensured that I topped up with regular quantities of fruit & vegetables. I ensured that my plans involved active activities (e.g. scuba diving), and a regular amount of walking, including several treks in New Zealand, and the Inca Trail in Peru. I choose to exercise as I seek to improve both body and mind. I started attending the gym in the second year of University and my grades noticeably improved! I love skiing too (see this video from my early days).
I tend to sponsor friends who are doing events, but also regularly support the following: Church and Media Network; Greenbelt; LICC; Tearfund; The Bible Society; The Trussell Trust; Christians Against Poverty; Hope for Justice; Christian Aid (via The Worship Cloud downloads). I used to work in the Prison tea bar in Winchester, slept outside for Winchester Churches Nightshelter, did The Moonwalk (26.2 miles) for Breast Cancer research, and was a volunteer leader for Oak Hall. I tend to restrict doing sponsored events to no more than every 2 years.
I have been interested in Fair Trade for several years, and remember using it to teach about the growth of a new brand (Fair Trade) as different from that of an established brand (Guinness, which does some wonderful advertising). It’s possible to enjoy Fair Trade food in the form of chocolate and banana cakes, and I even have a Fairphone.
There’s nothing better than grabbing a bowl of popcorn and settling in front of the TV with a good film, even better in the cinema. I own a large number of DVDs, and love watching certain films repeatedly, especially the extras. It’s amazing how inspirational films can be in allowing you to think creatively about something else. For example, ‘The Matrix’ helped me to get to grips with postmodernism for my PhD, and the ‘how we did it’ for Shrek allowed me to think about how the creative process for getting a message across works. I tend to find life too busy to allow for much television, but iPlayer means an increasing amount is watched. Sometimes, a little live show at the theatre is great… my favourite so far is the Lion King (seen twice!).
I love to have music playing when I’m working, it helps me focus! I enjoy most kinds of music (except thrash metal, some kinds of jazz, and Peruvian pan pipes) from Classical through to Dance music. Different moods and tasks require different styles of music… More recently, in an attempt to improve my mind, and my audio-non-visual skills, I increasingly listen to Radio 4, enjoy Radio 2, and download MP3s from the ‘net.
A Clean Giggle
I have a very ticklish sense of humour, and I love hearing a good, clean (and funny) jokes. My PhD took a cultural history approach to understand the historical understandings which contributed to the meanings which people took from the posters, and I particularly enjoyed engaging with the humorous posters… in several different styles.