30 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I'M 30

Saturday

I'm 23 ... well, nearly! 


I am posting this the day before my 23rd birthday so if you are reading this after 3rd April then I'm 23! I usually like to write blog posts about my birthdays, I think I wrote one in 2020 about having a lockdown birthday, then in 2021, I don't think I wrote one because I already had one lockdown birthday before that one, and didn't really have anything to say.


This year, I thought why not make a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. Seems like a good time to start it as I have 7 years to complete it. I feel weird writing this as I started my blog when I was 17 and I do not feel as old as 23 but there we are. Factually, I am 23 but in my head, I am about 19.


After having 2 lockdown birthdays and spending the first couple of years in my 20s stuck in and being very restricted, it made me think that the rest of my 20s is not for wasting. However, it has also taught me to not be too hard on myself if I don't do everything on this list because there are so many things that could affect it.


Anyway, in my 30 before 30 list, I have included lots of things I have always wanted to do, some things I am a bit scared to try, and some things I feel like everyone has to do at some point.


It's only really fun things as I didn't want to include anything serious like getting married or buying a house because sometimes life goes in weird directions and I don't want to put pressure on myself for serious things like that - that can be for later maybe, well after I'm 30.


I did struggle to come up with 30 things at first, so I turned to Instagram and asked people what they thought. A lot of people said to add skydive which I have not added. I know that is a bucket list item for many people but I just feel like I won't do that so why set myself up for failure?


There are a few ambitious things on this list, but mostly I wanted to include stuff I actually will do so when I do turn 30, I can look back and hopefully have done most, if not all of the list. 


I also remembered that I can do lots of additional bucket list-worthy stuff if I eventually do decide I want to, I am not just limited to the things on the list.


So here we go! I will be updating this page accordingly, ticking off each thing that I do so keep up to date and bookmark it if you are interested.


Girl in a dress holding a glass of wine

30 things to do before turning 30


1. Travel to Asia


I have always wanted to go but couldn't decide on a country so I just picked the whole of Asia to be safe. My top choices at the moment would be Thailand, Bali, or Japan.


2. Cook a roast dinner


I have managed to go 23 years (including 3 at uni) without ever making a roast dinner. This is definitely something I need to do to get my imaginary certificate for adult life. Stay tuned for a pic of the most banging roast you have ever seen - it will probably be chicken.


3. Reach 10k followers on Instagram


Exceeding 10k followers on Instagram has always been a goal of mine. My goal for the end of this year is to get to 6000 so add 4k in 7 years that's not too unrealistic. Although, if Instagram is not a thing then anymore and there is something new I will change this line.


4. Get a tattoo


Only a tiny one, I hate pain and wouldn't want a huge one. Just a little one to say I've done it. Obviously of something nice.


5. Try a new cuisine


You may know I am really fussy with food and I find trying new food difficult but lately, I am making it my mission to try new things so I am going to try something from a cuisine I have never had before. Wish me luck!


6. Go to Disney World


This is probably my most unrealistic and ambitious goal but I really want to go to Disney World in Florida. Is it embarrassing to go to Disney World in your mid-late 20s? NO. I would just love to go and do the whole shabam with Universal as well. My only issue is I need to find someone to come with me!


7. Move out


Let's hope I move out before I'm 30 although in this economy, who knows?


8. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant


Even though I am a fussy eater, I love food, and going out for meals and eating at a Michelin Star restaurant is just something I have to do.


9. Buy a designer handbag


I have only recently started becoming interested in designer bags and have always just bought random ones from Asos (or even Shein, don't come for me fashion gods) so I would love to treat myself with a timeless, designer bag. My only problem is I always like THE most expensive ones of all haha I am not going to be spending more than I earn in one month but definitely will splurge on the perfect bag one day.


10. Make new friends


First of all, I have to say I love the friends I have (don't hate me guys) but I would think there is probably something wrong if I haven't made any new friends at all between now and the time I'm 30.


11. Visit Lisbon


Such a pretty city that keeps coming up on my For You page on TikTok so why not include it?


12. Try sushi


I took my first step by trying Japanese food a few months ago. I tried Sashimi which is raw fish, so my next challenge is to try Maki, the more traditional sushi that you see rolled up with rice.

13. Night out in Manchester


I have never been to Manny so would love to go for a weekend.


14. Winter sea dip


It may not surprise you that I did not come up with this myself. This was a suggestion on my Instagram from my friend Skye. Then I thought, why not include one that is a bit horrible and scary? The rest are a bit too nice.


15. Visit Scotland


I have been to Wales and Ireland, and obviously I live in England so need to go to Scotland to complete it.


16. Watch Pulp Fiction


Yes, I still haven't seen it. At least if there are more pandemics between now and when I'm 30 I should get at least one of these.


17. Go on a solo trip


I am looking for Eat Pray Love vibes. I keep seeing people go on solo trips and having an amazing time. I just think this would be sooo good for my confidence. Don't get me wrong, I will be absolutely petrified to do this because I get anxious just going on a shopping trip by myself but once I have done that, I will feel so good, like I can do anything.


I will probably just go on a solo trip in the UK though, I am too scared to go abroad.


18. Read 100 books


This seems like loads but my reading goal for this year is 30 books so it's actually not that much if I do 30 books every year.


19. Visit Harry Potter Studios


This goal is secondary to Disney World, if I can't go there I will at least go to Harry Potter Studios.


20. Watch a musical in the West End


I absolutely love watching musicals, I have seen a few now in the Mayflower in Southampton but I have never been to see one on the West End.


21. Go to Pride


As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I have always wanted to go to Pride and celebrate the community and the history of LGBTQ+ people.


22. Visit Barcelona


OK, I have actually booked Barcelona for this year so maybe it's cheating? But I booked it after I wrote this list a few weeks ago!


23. Go to Bombay Sapphire Distillery


The Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery is actually so close to where I live so I need to go!


24. Go to Notting Hill Carnival


Again, Notting Hill Carnival looks so much fun. (I am running out of reasoning as to why I want to do things this far down the list - can you tell?


25. Go on an Alpaca Walk ✔️


Alpaca walk

26. Take Joe to Longleat


I live about half an hour from Longleat and I went loads as a kid and I really want to take joe because we love animal things like the zoo and aquariums but we haven't got round to it yet. We will go!


27. Progress in my career


As I have pretty much only just started in my career I would hope to progress to a more senior role in the next seven years. At the moment I just need more experience so I will definitely have that as time goes on.


28. Buy a new car


I still currently have my first car that I bought when I was 17 so definitely deserve to get a new one at some point in the not too distant future.


29. Go on a skiing trip


I have actually been skiing but I went with school so it would be great to go as an adult and be able to stop at the pubs on the way down. Not too many though don't drink and ski!


30. Visit Brighton


I have never been to Brighton before and it's only about 2 hours from me. I've just always wanted to go!


And there we have it. Feel free to use any of these items to build your own list of things to do. It doesn't end there, there are loads more things I want to do than this but I suppose I can add them to the list of things to do before I die - don't have to do everything before I'm 30.


Have you done anything on my list?

GETTING STARTED WITH INSTAGRAM REELS

I finally feel qualified to write this as one of my reels reached 11.5k views so I am pretty impressed with that.

If you are an avid Instagram user like me, you will have seen many Instagram reels by now but I won't assume EVERYBODY knows a lot about them. Basically, reels are taking over Instagram now. Before, Instagram was all about sharing photo content but now, Instagram is pushing video content by allowing users to create short videos called reels, which are very similar to the videos we see on TikTok.

I have been having a lot of fun creating reels lately, and as you may be aware, I am always wanting to grow my Instagram and blog so I can reach more and more people with the content I love creating.

At the moment, any reel content I post gets more reach than my picture content, and now that I have gone viral (yes I am counting 11.5k views as viral), I thought I'd give you some tips on creating successful reels. To put this into context I currently have 4.7k followers at the time of writing this so either way I count reaching that many people as a success.

Disclaimer though, sometimes I feel like it is random which videos do go viral. I have seen some really pointless videos go viral that have taken no effort, whilst seeing other well-thought-out videos that you can tell people have worked really hard on getting fewer views.

So before we start, it's important to remember it is a learning experience, and sometimes Instagram can be cruel that way. I am still learning and am not an expert, I am just sharing why and how to get involved for beginners!


Person holding iphone

Steps to creating successful reels


1. Watch reels


Before creating any kind of Instagram reels, you need to watch them. This might seem a bit obvious but it's a fundamental step. By watching Reels, you can see what kind of things are coming up on your page and the kind of things that are going viral. You are also able to see trends in what people are posting and you will probably notice popular sounds that get put over reels.

2. Be confident and go for it


Once you have watched reels and thought, maybe I could give this a go - then go for it! If you want to grow on Instagram this is a great way to do it. I used to feel nervous about filming content while I'm out somewhere or would be worried that they would get no views, but once I stopped caring about things like that I started to have a lot of fun creating reels.

I will admit, I could post them a lot more and I hope to soon, so keep your eyes peeled for more video content from me on Instagram.

3. Make a list of reels you would like to create


If you want to be a regular reel creator on Instagram, it's probably important to list the ones you want to make and be organised with the content. You can do this by seeing what similar accounts to you are making, or just thinking of what represents you.

This step is my downfall at the moment. I usually just create reels at random and put together videos I take when I'm out. This is fine too.

4. Create saveable content


I always find points like this kind of ambiguous but what I mean by this is, create content people will want to save for later. At the moment, the more saves you get on an Instagram post the more likely your post is to get pushed to more people - they are way more valuable than likes as it stands.

So for example, if you are a foodie blogger and post a reel of a restaurant, people are probably likely to save this if they want to visit this restaurant. If you are a fashion blogger and post some summer outfit ideas, people will be likely to save this if they want outfit inspo.

The reel I posted that reached 11.5k views was of my time at Ballie Ballerson, a ball pit bar in London. As a lot of people want to try this place I got quite a few saves which could be a factor in the number of views.

5. Try to hop onto trends


When you are watching reels and see a trend that you might be able to hop on, then why not try it? For example, if you see a small business trend and you have a small business account - see if you can try joining in. 

Jumping onto a trend gives you a lot of potential to go viral because if you see a lot of videos in the same trend, it means that Instagram is clearly pushing videos that are trending.

6. Use trending sounds


When posting reels, you will notice you have the option to put music or sounds over your video. Similarly to trending videos, if you notice a sound going around your reel for you page, it is clear that Instagram is pushing reels with that sound so see if you can use it over one of your videos.

I usually try to use popular music for my reels, you will be able to see which music is most popular when posting.

Side note: If you are using original sound like you talking or a voice-over - apply subtitles. This makes your content accessible to more users. Also, a lot of people scroll past videos with no sound so this gives them a chance to read your captions.

7. Add text to your reel cover


The cover of your reel is something you can choose when uploading. You can either choose a part in the video or upload your own image. If you include a line of text on these, people will be able to read what your reel is about before choosing to watch.

For example, if you are reviewing a restaurant, you could write "McDonald's Salisbury Review" on the cover so it's easy for people to pick out from your profile or from their saved videos (hopefully). Also, McDonald's was the first thing that came to my mind - clearly, I need it.

8. Share your reel on your story


Did you know if you post a reel on your story, the views on that count as reel views? This way if someone is clicking through stories but not necessarily watching it on their home page, you will still get your reel across to them through stories. I do this every time I post one!

If you can, try tagging people who are likely to share your reel on their story too because views from their story also count as reel views. For example, if your reel is a restaurant review - tag the restaurant if you can as sharing it is good PR for them, and will help to increase your views and reach.

9. Trial and error


My first reel didn't get very many views and I could have easily given up and said that's not for me. However, you need to keep trying and seeing what works for you, it's definitely a learning process. 

Also, as I said earlier, sometimes Instagram can be cruel with what it pushes and what it doesn't. But hopefully, after following best practice (AKA the tips above) you should reach a good amount of people.

10. Be authentic


If you were wondering if I was going to end the tips with a cringe one then I hope you are satisfied. Yes, this is cliche and again, quite ambiguous but if you are not being yourself in your content and posting about stuff you are passionate about, what is the point? 

It can be easy to just want to create reels for marketing as they are good for reach but if you are inauthentic, it will really show to viewers and be reflected in your reach and engagement. You have to actually enjoy what you create and post meaningful content.
And there we have it. If you end up creating reels using these steps, let me know how it goes! If you have any tips for me that I haven't mentioned then I'd love to hear them - my goal is to beat 11.5k.

FLESH AND BUNS LONDON REVIEW

Visiting Flesh and Buns in Oxford Circus was a very big deal to me so I had to write about it. I am really fussy with food - you may know this if you have read my Being a Fussy Eater blog post. This was the first time I'd tried Japanese food or have been to a Japanese restaurant. 


Full disclaimer, my go-to cuisine is usually Italian but I am on a mission to venture out, especially when I visit London. I live in a place where the only Japanese food you can get is from Wagamama or Sushi in a Tesco meal deal.


Spoiler alert, I loved it here and this has opened me up to trying more new restaurants and trying more Japanese food.


I had seen Flesh and Buns reviewed on TikTok a lot and thought it would be the least scary place to try for Japanese food.


You might be thinking Flesh and Buns is a bit of a weird name, it's because their main thing is bao buns and meat, but they also have lots of small plates, sushi, and Poke Don bowls to choose from too. I am not sure if bao buns are technically Japanese. I believe they originated in China but they may have them in Japan too.


Just from walking into this restaurant, it felt very central London kind of posh vibes already so I knew we were in for a special meal just from walking in. Basically, the decor sets you up for the meal. We also sat right next to the lucky cat wall which I was excited about.


Lucky cat wall flesh and buns


The drinks


To drink, I got their signature cocktail, the Lucky Cat. I had to go for this one even though it was their most expensive cocktail. It came in a lucky cat cup with a sparkler. They definitely use this novelty cocktail to make money and it worked on me! I thought it tasted quite nice but if it was in a different glass and didn't come with a sparkler, who knows if I would have felt the same? I can't even remember what flavour it was, I was too excited by the presentation.


Lucky cat cocktail flesh and buns


Joe got Sake which he'd been wanting to try for a little while. He really liked it and I wasn't so sure when I gave it a try. It kind of just tasted somewhere between a strong white wine and a weak vodka to me, and I don't really like either of those things, but I'm glad I can say I've tried it.


The food


Now onto the main bit! First of all, we got some Seabass Sashimi to try which was so pretty and it was nothing like anything I have ever tasted before. It was amazing to try and I was so impressed with myself for liking it because I'm so fussy with food.


Seabass sashimi flesh and buns oxford circus


Second of all, we tried some of the small plates. I really wanted to try the beef fat potatoes as they looked so nice but sadly they had run out. Instead, I went for the corn tempura and Joe had chilli squid. The corn tempura was really nice, again, nothing like I'd had before but it got quite filling towards the end.


It was at this point I had to ask for a knife and fork as it turns out, I'm a bit of a chopper at using chopsticks. But I will keep trying! That was my first time so hopefully, I can become a pro soon.

Related: Gordon Ramsay bottomless street pizza review

For the main course, I had crispy duck leg with bao buns and Joe had the Chicken Teryaki Poke Don bowl. The bao bun and meat mains are quite expensive, it was just under £20 for my duck and you only get 2 buns and there other meat options that were closer to £30, but this is what I wanted to try. 


Crispy duck leg flesh and buns

Crispy duck bao bun flesh and buns

Chicken teryaki poke don flesh and buns


The Poke Don bowls are way cheaper and are around £12, so you can end up spending a lot here, or you can have a more budget-friendly meal.


And if that wasn't enough food, we both went for a dessert. I had the s'mores which came with a fire for you to roast your marshmallows on, and biscuits with chocolate. This was so messy but so good. I had to use a spoon in the end. Joe had a chocolate brownie with match ice cream that was also presented in a really impressive way.


Smores flesh and buns

Chocolate brownie flesh and buns


I can never normally fit in a pudding but the food was so light and not too filling I was able to have one.


The bill


Our bill for basically 4 courses and a drink each came to around £106 for two, including a 12.5% service charge, which I didn't mind paying because we had great service. Because this was in central London, I don't think that price was too bad for all that food. The beauty of this place is, you can get as many or little courses as you want and can end up spending loads, or you can spend less than we did.


Flesh and buns logo oxford circus


There are probably loads of restaurants similar to this around London that cost way less but it was a special meal and we loved trying new things here.


I would definitely recommend it here and can't fault anything.

Related: 7 fun things to do in Shoreditch

Will you be trying Flesh and Buns next time you're in Central London?

5 REASONS WHY BOOKS STILL MATTER

This is a guest post from Jamie at JamieAdStories.

I was really pleased to get the chance to write a guest post for the brilliant Wool of the King blog. After thinking about what I could discuss, I decided to explore why books are still very relevant and important in our modern world. 


Reading is a skill that is not readily available to thousands of people around the planet, so it is definitely worth celebrating and protecting. Books take many forms these days, but however you imbibe them, they provide education and entertainment for so many of us. In effect, books are the keys to other worlds and information; they provide inspiration, stimulation and make us think reflectively about our lives and the way we live them.


So, let me outline some of the reasons for my believing that books really do matter. The following suggestions are open for debate and I would welcome any thoughts on these in the comments below.


Books and plant on windowsill


1. Books are flexible


Although some people still think of books as printed papers that stem back to Victorian times and oily printing presses, we all know that books have changed with the times. These days, if you want to read a book electronically, you can lap up a story using a kindle reader or iPad. As well as this, audible versions of popular novels have helped to establish a big market for audiobooks.


When buying a book, you can choose how to access that text. For me, I still like to peruse a book shop and flick through the pages of freshly printed stories. But it is possible to get hold of a book right away if you find you cannot wait to get your hands on a physical version. Gone are the days of queueing up at midnight for the latest J.K. Rowling book. You can now download an ebook instantly, should that take your fancy.


2. Books are teachers


Yes, non-fiction books can open our minds to new nuggets of information – that goes without saying. However, fiction books teach us lots too. For instance, I have become interested in visiting certain parts of France, thanks to the novels of Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat). Many of my family are obsessed with crime dramas and, as a result, seem to think they know everything about courtrooms, having picked up lots of lingo from reading about detectives and hearings.


3. Reading is good for the brain


We all need to keep our brains busy so that they carry on working effectively. I am no scientist but I do know a dementia expert who says how important regular reading is in flexing the muscle and continuing to fire synapses. 


Reading expands our vocabulary, makes us think about contexts and storylines, and enables us to make connections with places we have been. Using our memories, we try to find settings we can recall which may help us to envisage a story location.


4. Books are social beings


Just like when you didn’t attend a party that all of your friends went to and you have a case of FOMO (fear of missing out), if others are talking about a new novel, you soon want to be a part of that conversation. Book groups and online forums are very popular these days and sharing thoughts about stories is widespread through blogs and podcasts.


I really enjoy engaging with other bloggers about particular books and often check out Booktube on YouTube where bloggers either ‘big up’ or rip apart new fiction. Personally, I only write about books that gripped me as less satisfying stories don’t hold my attention long enough to make me want to disrespect them. Not all books suit everyone, after all. But it is a reader’s market with so many genres and wonderful authors producing a wide range of stories.


5. Books make a difference


Over the years, books have played important parts in history. These days books provide the inspiration for TV shows and movies, as well as theatre plays. Books have encouraged social change and influenced revolutions. Even today, when a biography comes out about someone famous, the newspapers flock and people start talking about the issues that arise from it.


Books are relevant as they open minds, challenge perceptions, and inspire people to use their imaginations. It is well known that writers get their ideas from other authors. The more you read, the better the ideas you come up with.

Related: Books I read in 2021

Summary


Hopefully, I have convinced you that reading books is still worthwhile and suits the modern world well. Books got me thinking as I grew up and later inspired me to have a go at writing fiction and reviewing books on my blog JamieAdStories. For a previous post about this, please check Why Reading Is Important.


Thanks so much to Lauren for enabling me to write on her lovely blog. I love being able to share my passion for books with everybody and hope you will share your thoughts on the article.