It’s my thirty-ninth birthday today. I only have one year left of the extraordinary decade that is my thirties. I intend to make the most of it and be as ready as I can be for my forties, which I hope will be an even better decade for me.

I didn’t think I’d still be learning about myself at this age, but every year brings more wisdom, experience and confidence. This year I intend to say ‘no’ a lot more and focus on identifying the things that are right for me.

I celebrated my birthday with family, cake and presents under the Christmas tree in Edinburgh this morning, and am now back home in Newcastle for a quiet evening with pizza and TV.

Birthday cake
With my birthday cake, made with care as ever by Dad. (c) John Cooke 2024.


I feel like I’ve barrelled through most of my thirties at a rate of knots – forty is definitely very much visible on the horizon – but so far it’s been a much better decade than my twenties and I’m feeling really positive about this age. As I get older I realise more and more that what is expected of me should not be the focus, and that life should be lived in the way that I feel is most right for me.

A lovely quiet birthday today with the usual cards and presents under the tree, birthday cheesecake made by Dad, and time to myself to relax.

Birthday cheesecake

Merry Christmas!

I’ve had a nice few weeks prepping for Christmas and am now enjoying the celebrations with family. I hope you’re all having a lovely time too!

Christmas cake

I’ve got some New Year’s Resolutions posts coming up next week, some additional festive parkrunning and some blog plans to share. In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of videogaming and sleeping. Enjoy the festivities everyone!

Comma day

In running streak parlance, I am going to earn my comma this evening 🙂 I am going to join the social group run for my thousandth day running in a row. I was a little bit worried last night as my back issues were playing up, but everything seems to be fine today so fingers crossed I’ll be able to keep up with the group. It’s usually busy on the Monday night run so I’m sure there’ll be plenty of company.

After that, I will be joining Geth at home for celebratory cake!

parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #50

It was a relatively short-notice volunteer slot for me this week after I decided to rest my knee until next weekend – and a really great day for it, because Jesmond Dene parkrun was celebrating its 50th event! With the COVID hiatus it had been a long time coming, so there was much cake to be had at the finish.

Red velvet cupcake
Mini red velvet cupcake ❤️❤️❤️

I was marshalling at the ‘mind the steps’ point, which I hadn’t done since February 2020 – it’s a nice peaceful spot a few hundred yards from the start/finish, and so you get to see everybody going out as a big clump and coming back as a trickle!

Marshalling again next week.


I think, from today onwards, I may be slipping over the border towards ‘late thirties’ rather than ‘mid-thirties’. I am much more okay about this kind of border crossing than I used to be in my younger days. Life is getting better in most ways as I progress through it.

I had a nice normal birthday today (in contrast to last year) because I was able to spend the morning celebrating with family in Edinburgh before travelling back to Newcastle for the evening. I’ve got a few final days of Christmas to enjoy at home before the decorations disappear for another year.

Birthday cake
Dad made me his usual delicious New York style cheesecake. Photo (c) John Cooke 2022.

Christmas Eve

It’s been a very long year of work / studying / creative pursuits, but I am finally on holiday. Christmas is the only proper holiday I take all year as business calls the rest of the time! As such, I am really going to enjoy the next couple of weeks. Blog posts will be mostly short but I should at least have a picture to put up every day.

Here’s the first one:

Christmas cake

Dad and I did some Christmas baking this afternoon! I made the cake in November and we decorated it today. We also made some mince pies. I’ve been eating supermarket mince pies all month but homemade ones taste extra special!

Mince pies

Now to settle in for (hopefully!) a much happier Christmas than last year 🙂

(Still no earworm playlist, sorry. Hopefully Hogmanay will be quiet enough that I can get a bumper version posted.)

Another busy week begins

I had hoped this upcoming week would provide a bit of a breather, but as ever there’s a lot to do. Today I did a bit of day job work and caught up with most of the housework, and the rest of the week will mostly be spent either working or studying. I am going to prioritise some evening downtime, though, as it’s badly needed at the moment.

Still hoping to have everything organised for Christmas by the end of November…

Christmas cake
I made the Christmas cake yesterday, which is a big job ticked off the list!

The inbetween month

The Hallowe’en decorations are down. Well, except for the pumpkin and neep lanterns I carved, which have still got a few good days left in them before they go in the bin. I always feel that Hallowe’en can be extended right up to Bonfire Night if necessary 🙂

November, when I’m not busy working and/or studying and/or working on some interactive fiction for NaNoWriMo, is going to be all about getting everything prepped for Christmas so that I’m all organised by the beginning of December and can just enjoy the festivities. This time next month I will hopefully have a fully decorated house and everything done and dusted!

Now, if I could just think of something I actually want for Christmas… I’m drawing a blank this year!

Hallowe'en cake
I made a Hallowe’en cake at the weekend from my pumpkin and neep innards. It doesn’t look like much (I need some spider decorations or something) but it tastes nice!