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30 and Proud

5 Feb

I’m 29 years and 11 months old today. I have one month left in my 20’s. Goodbye youthful skin, late nights, being ‘down with the kids’, and having bearable hangovers (just). Hello crows feet, a slowing metabolism, early nights and brain crushing hangovers.

Dramatics aside, truth be told, I have been dreading turning 30. That was until last month when I read an article which changed my mindset. It was an article in the Huffington Post titled ‘9 things you should never say to a woman who is turning 30’. The author of the article, also turning 30 (and excited about it!) noticed a trend of back-handed compliments about getting older and being ‘past it’. She highlighted the unwritten rule in our society that women should be terrified of getting older, and therefore shouldn’t embrace it. But why shouldn’t we? We are wiser, more confident, and more secure in ourselves, and these are things that should be celebrated. Not only that, but it’s a privilege denied to many.

So now, as I near my 30th birthday, I’m grateful to reach this milestone and excited for what lies ahead. I remember being 19, and approaching 20 with a dread like ‘oh oh another decade looms. I’m still a kid, I know nothing, I’ve not achieved anything!’. So in a bid to approach my 30s in a more positive mindset, I have reflected on everything I am proud of and have achieved to date, and in keeping with the 30 theme, I made a list of the top 30. Not only that, but I’ve made a list of 30 new goals to strive for.

Thumbs up for turning 30!

Thumbs up for turning 30!

30 things I’ve achieved so far…

  1. I saw my long-suffering football team, Kilmarnock, win the Scottish cup in ’97.

  2. I have a big sister who is also my best friend. We are like chalk and cheese most of the time, but there’s no-one else like her!
  3. I have a crazy, fun-loving mum, and comic, role-model dad, who encourage and support me in everything I do.
  4. I have true life-long friends. Like, from nursery. That’s over 25 years of friendship – thanks for putting up with me girls! (Claire, Louise, Allana, Vicky).
  5. At 18, I left home and moved to Dundee to start uni.
  6. I made another group of life-long friends when I went to University in Dundee – which made my 4 years at Uni the best ever! Thanks girls!
  7. I went to Art school and got a bachelor’s degree in Product Design.
  8. I then went to Business school and got a Master’s degree in Marketing.
  9. With over 5 years experience, I’ve carved out a career in Marketing for myself. Every day is a school day!
  10. I have a big family spread out across the country and overseas. They are all a little crazy in their own way and I love them for it.
  11. I backpacked through SE Asia at 22. Island hoped around Thailand, snorkelled to ‘The Beach’ on Koh Phi Phi, partied with lady boys on Koh Samui, and danced until sunrise at a full moon party on Koh Phangnan.
  12. I’ve seen my fair share of sunsets on the White Isle. And just happened to see some of the world’s best DJ’s at the world’s best clubs – Hed Kandi at El Divino, Tiesto at Amnesia, and Groove Armada at Space, being some of the more memorable ones.

  13. I’ve been to countless festivals and gigs and saw some of the best artists of my time: Oasis, Bruce Springsteen, The Stone Roses, The Who, James Brown.
  14. I try new things – including millinery (hat making), tap dancing, snowboarding, burlesque…
  15. I climbed (read: crawled) up Ben Nevis.

  16. I am an Auntie to two of the cutest, funniest and wildest nephews around, Lyall & Harris. Keep it real kids.

  17. I’ve been fortunate to see several of my best friends get married, and looking forward to a few more!
  18. I’m even more fortunate to be an ‘Auntie’ to an ever-increasing army of little people who belong to my friends.

  19. I moved to another country (twice!). In 2011, I took an English teaching job in Daegu, South Korea. I didn’t know any body and didn’t speak the language. It has been one of my greatest life experiences to date.
  20. I crossed the border into to North Korea (it may only be by a few metres at the DMZ, but I’ve stepped into North Korea nonetheless).

  21. I kicked cancer’s ass! Now two and a half years all clear 🙂
  22. I did a bungee jump and raised over £2,500 for Ayrshire Cancer Support.
  23. Over the last two years I have lost a shed load of weight. 35kg to date (or 5 ½ stone). And still some to go. Having been overweight my whole life, I decided at 28, that I didn’t want to lead that life anymore and gave myself until my 30th birthday to lose the junk in my trunk!
  24. My personal best for downing 2 pints of Guinness is 36 seconds. Pow pow!

  25. I am a runner. I’ve spent a lot of my twenties wanting and trying to be a runner. And I’ve finally realised that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, you are still a runner.
  26. I have run 10k races in 3 continents. Last year I got a new PB 60:50.
  27. I have met my match in John Boy. He supports me and cheers for me, and challenges me in a way I’ve never been before. He’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I just need to get him in the same country as me first!
  28. I travelled solo through Cambodia and Vietnam – didn’t die.
  29. I backpacked around Australia. After 6 years of talking about it, I finally got my finger out and got my ass down under!
  30. I sky dived from 12,000 feet onto a beach on the Gold Coast.

And now for 30 Goals


  1. Run a half marathon
  2. Run a full marathon
  3. Complete a triathlon


  4. Work for a NGO
  5. Start my own photography business
  6. Become an accomplished public speaker

  7. Write a book


  8. Road trip around New Zealand in a camper van
  9. Island hop around Fiji
  10. Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef

  11. See the Milky Way from Uluru
  12. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  13. Travel to India and see the Taj Mahal
  14. See the Northern Lights from Norway
  15. Ski in the Alps
  16. Live in NYC for a year
  17. Road trip the southern US states
  18. Travel to Peru and visit Machu Picchu
  19. Climb Mt Kilimanjaro
  20. Ride in a bobsled


  21. Re-learn the piano
  22. Learn to surf (in a country without sharks)
  23. Learn to snowboard
  24. Learn a new language
  25. Learn to code
  26. Learn to sail and own a boat (just a wee one)
  27. Get my PADI

    Personal Life:

  28. Buy an old farmhouse and renovate it
  29. See Kilmarnock with the Scottish Premier League (this is more of a dream than a goal)
  30. Really get to know my parents, aunts and uncles – listen to their life stories

    _ _ _

    A sensible person would include ‘pay off student loan/ credit card’, ‘save for retirement’, buy a house’, ‘get married’, ‘have kids’ etc, but life should never be taken for granted, and as the saying goes ‘you can’t put a price on a good time!’.

    So here’s to everyone turning 30, the adventure continues!

“You Don’t Always Win Your Battles, But It’s Good To Know You Fought”

19 Oct

The title is a quote by Lauren Bacall, and from one inspiring woman to another, I’m extremely proud to have not one, but two accomplished authors in my family. My Great Aunt moved to Canada, from Scotland, in 1963, and there her life in Canada begun.

Being one of my gran’s younger sisters, she travelled back and forth to Scotland often to visit family, and although I have never spent a great amount of time with her, she always has a smile for you, she is warm, chatty and is full of life!

She met her second husband in the late 1980’s and after being married for 9 years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. This is where her story begins. She tells her story about caring for him or 17 years, the benefits and challenges she faced in choosing to care for him at home, in the hope that it will help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

‘Martin and Me: My Life on Hold’, under her alias, Anne Louise Larpnel, is available on Amazon now, both in paperback and Kindle: Martin and Me: My Life on Hold

'Martin and Me: My Life on Hold' by Anne Louise Larpnel

‘Martin and Me: My Life on Hold’ by Anne Louise Larpnel

It’s a very touching story, easy to read, full of practical advice, and fond memories of their time together. As another reviewer noted, it’s like listening to a friend share their experience over a coffee. One particular tale that made me laugh out loud was when Martin was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and he could no longer go to the toilet by himself. One day he was constipated, and having no luck they decided to give up for the time being and try again later. Upon pulling up his pants from behind, my Aunt felt a thump on her head, gave it a shake, and low and behold, a number 2 fell onto the floor!

The book is filled with many other funny little stories like that, which makes it all the more heart-warming. And if you happen to be in London, Ontario today, she is doing a book signing at Chapters/Indigo from 1pm – 4pm. Please go along and say hello, and tell her, her great niece in Australia sends her love.

Happy New Year!

6 Jan

I’ve been extremely quiet on the ol’ blogging front over the last 6 months. This is about to change, I promise.

As I begin to make new plans for 2014, I spent time reflecting on the many many great times, memorable experiences and personal achievements of 2013. And not one to miss a trick (read social media fad), I made a flipagram:

Flipagram: My Year in 2013

In summary, I saw in 2013 in Donegal, visited Berlin, London, Ibiza, Dublin, Orkney, Prague, Exeter. Went to 7 weddings and 3 hen weekends. Celebrated 3 engagements (and asked to be a bridesmaid at 2 of them!), 1 baby, two 18ths, three 30ths and a 60th. Went to a couple of gigs (Glasvegas, Stone Roses, Kings of Leon, Jake Bugg, Disclosure, Ocean Colour Scene, The View to name a few). First bungee jump, first snowboarding lesson, one year all clear, and lost 4 stones…

All in all, it was a very good year! No wonder I didn’t have time to blog!

Flowers, flowers everywhere…

4 Sep

Flowers, my house is full of flowers. It’s nice. It’s a reminder of all the love my family and friends have been showering me with. I had my first surgery nearly two weeks ago at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, since being diagnosed with cancer. It was fertility conserving surgery, a combination of LLETZ and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove some lymph nodes in my pelvic area to test for spreading.

I’m now at home recovering and patiently waiting on the results. My surgeon said everything went well, and I was even discharged the day after my operation, but it still hasn’t stopped me thinking the worst. I’ve been more emotional these past few weeks than I have been and I think that’s because the severity of the disease is finally starting to sink in. It’s devastating to think I might need a hysterectomy and therefore unable to have children. However, there’s no point dwelling on the ‘what ifs’. Here’s to getting the all clear!

‘Flowers in a beer mug’ – one of my many bouquets of flowers


The ‘C’ word

18 Jun

I’ve always had the mentality that ‘it’ll never happen to me’, so when I found out yesterday that I have cervical cancer it was earth shattering. I think I’m still in shock. I have a thousand and one questions and thoughts going on in my head that I can’t make sense of yet, I’m gutted and I’m scared.

I need to go home, not because the treatment is bad here, if anything I believe it would be far better than in the UK, but I need my family and my friends now. I’m gutted that I have to leave Korea, I’m not finished here yet, I had so many plans and my tan’s not at its optimum. But at the end of the day my health is number one, so I need to pack up, ship out and head home, get on the battle gear and start kicking cancer’s arse.

It looks like this Korea blog has just turned into a cancer diary… I’ll try limit the depressing posts, I promise.

Kung fu panda – he’s going to help me kick some ass!

A letter to my nephew

15 Apr

To my nephew, Harris,

Welcome to the world. You’re now a month old and I haven’t met you yet. Last month was probably the most trying time for me since I’ve been in Korea. The day you arrived, the 13th March, was a bitter-sweet day for me, made worse by the fact that my big bad school didn’t grant me the holidays to come home for your arrival.

Harris Robert Thomas Calder

You won’t know this yet, but I am besotted with your big brother Lyall, and even though I haven’t met you yet, I’m already equally besotted with you. In fact it’ll be hard to hide my favouritism towards you since you’re child number 2, like me.

I was delighted when my mum, your gran Patsy, excitedly alerted me of your safe arrival at a healthy 7lb 8oz, and that your mummy, my big sister, was doing great as well. But the fact that I know I won’t meet you for another 5 months is hard-going.

You won’t even know what Skype is yet, but you’ll know all about it soon enough. Your big brother is a pro-skyper these days! It’s the best invention ever, and it means that I never miss a thing in you and your brother’s short little lives – I just wish you would be awake one of these times when I Skype you.

I hope you’re being a good boy for your mummy and daddy. You have been blessed with a huge family who have nothing but love and adoration for you. You and your big brother are going to grow up to be the best of friends and cause lots of mischief together and I can’t wait to watch you every step of the way.

I can’t wait to meet you, see you in 159 days little man!

All my love,
Auntie Lauren

He's the little brother

Great Scot!

17 Feb

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle
when the sun comes up you’d better be running.” (Anon)


In an attempt to regain some kind of fitness level whilst in Korea – I’ve signed up for the Daegu 10k in April. It just so happens my cousin is visiting from down under at the same time so, being the avid triathlon participant that she is, I signed her up too! Team name: ‘Great Scots’ (before anyone questions my cousins authenticity – she was an Ayrshire lass originally).

Note to future prospective visitors: If you come and visit me, running a 10km is not mandatory! Honest. Please come visit me!

It’s now the middle of February and the race is 7 weeks on Sunday. Thankfully, I’ve already started training, I joined the gym at the end of January and have been building up my running on the treadmill, I’ve also just started swimming again, and as soon as the weather picks up I’ll get back out onto the road and start pounding the tarmac Liz McColgan style!

I would love to run it in under an hour, but realistically I don’t think I’m going to get my PB in this race. I’m more worried about the sweeper bus catching me after 1 hour 30 minutes, or worse still being overtaken by an ajumma!

A gaggle of ajummas

Note: An ajumma is a Korean granny – they are legends in their own right.

And he’s off!

10 Feb

The biggest downside to living abroad and away from your family, for me, is missing my nephew’s milestones as well as the impending arrival of nephew number 2 in March! My first nephew, Lyall, will turn one next Sunday (February 19th) and it’s his first birthday party on the same day. Since I’ve been away, he’s said his first words AND he’s just started walking. It’s killing me to miss these major triumphs in his little life, but thankfully Skype and my sisters iPhone make sure I never miss a thing!


A few weeks ago I received an invite to his party , I’m not going to lie, it nearly set me off! But I was the proudest auntie showing it off to all the Korean teachers – one of them even asked if she could photocopy it – I think that’s because it’s unusual for kids to have birthday parties in Korea, and even more so to send out invitations.

Lyall's 1st Birthday Invitation

Saddling up!

30 Aug

Departure minus 16 days…

My flight is booked, my visa is on it’s way, I’ve purchased a big ass suitcase and my leaving party is on Saturday… it suddenly feels all the more real.

I’m working my last full week and I’ve already started to say a few good byes… which is proving tougher than expected.

I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead for me in South Korea, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous/ apprehensive/ scared/ and daunted by the whole prospect of upping sticks and moving across the world to teach kids who speak a language I don’t know. I just need to keep telling myself that these feelings are natural (right?).

I’ve become increasingly sentimental in the last few months and the thought of having to say good bye to my family and friends here in Scotland is heartbreaking….  I know I’ll be a wreck when it comes to saying goodbye to my dad, my sister and my 6 month old nephew at the airport (my mum has already said she can’t face it – which is understandable considering she broke her heart when I moved away to Uni in Dundee!)

Nevertheless, as a hero of my grampa’s once said: “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway”.

John Wayne

I better get packing!