sunscreen, routine and ‘where do you get your protein?!’ – two thousand and seventeen.


2017 began on top of Primrose Hill. I had Jordan on one side and my cousin Li on the other. Standing on a picnic blanket in the cold and drizzle, glitter on our cheeks and face paint smeared around our eyes. The fireworks exploded ahead and the crowd surrounded us with tipsy cheers and chat. I’ve had worse New Years Eves and staying sober was surprisingly still fun; we drove home screaming the biggest hits of the year out the car window and Li rolled her eyes before dipping in and out of sleep.

2017 has been a good’un. It’s probably the first year of my adult life where I haven’t lived overseas and nothing dramatic has happened. It’s nice to have a year to rest I guess. But to be honest, I haven’t rested, things have been hectic and busy and upsetting and brilliant and stressful, and for the most part I’ve been pretty happy.

I worked as a childminder in St Albans and looked after a girl (7) and a boy (5) – the family were and still are bloomin’ amazing and I felt very at home straight away. It took a little longer than I’d hoped for the kids to warm to me but I persisted with singing Dua Lipa in the car and cooking them food that was good for them rather than the potato smileys which they so tirelessly begged for. My patience was tested everyday but on the whole I had a lot of fun and was grateful to not be stuck behind a desk. I drove a car which was older than myself and I successfully locked the keys inside one day whilst the kids screamed and wished ‘mummy was home and we never have to have a nanny like you again!!!!’. Building fairy gardens and making race tracks out of bins were the highlights of the job, reverse parking in a diagonal space each week was definitely a low.

As a special treat to the kids, during half term I took them out to Pizza Express. The waiter gave them crayons and paper – the girl showed me her drawing, I expected a little family portrait or a rainbow, sun or something on that level of sweet. She shows my a yellow box with a ghost outline inside; underneath she’d written ‘snapchat’ and explained this was the logo to the app that she loved so dearly. ah.

I cooked bolognese in the slow cooker, roast chicken, carbonara and a whole host of meals with meat for the kids. I’ve been veggie on and off for years and am a pretty strong willed one at that. However, during my time with the kids I would feel awful guilt for throwing away uneaten food from the kids – and for the first time in a long time I would casually eat a forgotten sausage from their plates. Or help myself to the last serving of spaghetti Bol. Before I knew it, I’d served myself a portion of the same things they were eating. I always felt awful for it afterwards but couldn’t put it down to whether it was the action of digesting meat or just the feeling of guilt afterwards. When I finished working there I didn’t touch a single piece of meat.

In January and February I was obsessed with the gym. The mornings, nights and what seemed like a large chunk of the day were dark, wet and miserable and the gym was my go to for a quick pick me up. I didn’t bother with a training plan but threw myself into cardio and classes and felt great for it.

Valentines day was a bizarre one. My little dog Peachy was due a holiday (or my dads friend fancied looking after her for a few weeks) so with the excuse of driving North, I took the oppurtunity to treat Jordan and myself to a weekend in Liverpool. The second hand shops were fab, the food was more than decent and we discovered so much beauty that the city offered. We stayed in a converted prison and took lovely photos and generally had a really good time. That was until we went back to the car, ready to go home. The car windows had been smashed and there was glass shattered all over the seats. The guys who worked at the car park told us how a man had smashed windows of three cars, looking for things to steal. He’d taken about €2 euros from the car but left the sat nav. We spent all morning ringing our insurance company and car garages before finding a place which would put a temporary clear plastic sheet over the passenger window as no one in Liverpool had our window in stock. The plastic sheet was noisy and let in a lot of cold air, which wasn’t that entertaining on our 6 hour drive home in the rain.

March came by and I got a new job at Oxfam. The whole process was strange but pretty painfree. This was my third role at Oxfam so I had manageable expectations and knew what to expect when moving to and living in Oxford. became my weapon of choice once again and I spent hours trawling through listings of dingy, damp and disgusting homes. I picked the best of a bad (and pricey) bunch and drove down the m40 to see potential new homes – Jess Glynne blaring loudly so I could strain my voice and give myself a headache signing along before I’d even arrived. Houses in Oxford are generally very old. Therefore houseshares are old and unkept. Your housemates are likely to be students, publishers or working at Oxfam. I saw houses that were so cluttered that there was nowhere to hang your coat, put your bag or even sit down – pots and pans hung from every wall in the kitchen, rugs were covered with piles of newspapers. I just saw shitty houses. I spent another 2 weekends seeing rubbish places that cost £500 – £700 a month for a room. Which is damn right insane. As I was losing sanity and hope of living within a decent distance from town and work, I saw a place in Cowley on Hollow Way. There were 2 female housemates, one guy and a visiting dog. If the dog wasn’t enough to sell it to me, the price was. It was the cheapest of the bunch, right by a bus stop that could take you to Cowley Road, town or the station in 20 wish mins and I was a 9 minute walk from work. I messaged them straight after I’d seen in it and moved in a week later.

Turns out all wasn’t peachy as my room was teeny tiny, a lil mouldy and we had dramas almost every week. My (female) housemates totally made up for it though. We had a good thing going on and could laugh off the annoying instances that seemed so frequent.

On April 23rd I ran the London Marathon. I decided to raise money for Otjikondo School Music and Arts fund. So many people I know understand why Otjikondo is so important to me and music and Arts at the school is something I always get stuck in with when I go back to Namibia to visit. I’d been really lucky with my training, I took things slowly and it had been enjoyable for most parts. Knowing I was doing this all for my lovelies at Otkjikondo gave me the motivation I needed for early starts, long runs, stretches and good nutrition. The day came and I wore an Ovambo outfit kindly made by my mum – my name was spelt out on the front with ‘Otji’ on the back. I arrived at the start line with my friend Lucy, the atmosphere was as everyone describes, ‘incredible’. As we stepped over the start line, I looked to my left and saw Prince Harry, William and Kate cheering on the crowd – I screamed ‘omg the royals!’ And they full looked at me and waved. Maybe if I’d made a little more effort, I’d be planning a royal wedding now instead of writing this out. The run was amazing – you forget about the pain in your legs and the weight of your feet when you have what feels like the whole of London out to push you on. My name was called out every 5 seconds or so and I spent so much of the course jumping around and spotting people I knew. You also realise that no matter how much you plan, you will never know where your friends or family are standing, so you are on and off your phone (whilst running still), whatsapping, sending your location and phoning people for the few seconds of joy when you see them. The signs in the crowd had me cracking up and some of the costumes were fab. The final stretch down the Mall is something I
I’ll never forget; the crowd are going crazy, you find this energy from somewhere and I sprinted the length of it, posing for photos as I went. I collected my medal, goody bag and walked towards my friends. My legs buckled, I froze up and hand to physically pick up my legs to walk along. We spent the afternoon walking (thanks dad), drinking and chatting about the day. I went to work the next day and felt like a zombie for the rest of the week.

Festival season came around faster than I could expect and it was my job to lead the Stand as One campaign – reuiniting refugee families in the UK and overseas. I drove to, set up at and lead the campaign at Common People, Download, Glastonbury, Lattitude, WOMAD, Reading and Bestival. I was lucky to be working on a campaign that so easy for myself and the public to get behind. Although the work was fulfilling, it didn’t stop it from being tough. I really struggled with the workload and hours and would often be at the office from 8am until past 8pm. I told myself I needed to put my all into it but it meant I was worn out and physically exhausted. The perks were driving my beloved van (it became my second home) and meeting so many passionate and genuine volunteers. Nothing compares to friendships I made over the summer, as well as catching up with friends from 2016 when I was also volunteering. I made it through 7 music festivals with the help of volunteers, friends, colleagues and family. It’s something that taught me so much (how to tow a van out of ankle deep mud, how to negotiate for free food, how to put up an 8 man tent in gail force winds, how to blag your way backstage, how charge 30 phones in a caravan and how to keep my nerve around people who are no help at all) and I experienced moments which others only dream about, but I think one summer is enough. It puts a strain on yourself and everyone around you and my energy and wellbeing was something I didn’t want to give up again. Despite the tough times, we achieved some awesome things; my team of volunteers signed up over 19,500 people to Stand as One and because of the support behind the campaign, Angus MacNeil MP has chosen refugee family reunion as a Private Members Bill, to be heard in Parliament in March 2018. Plus I tatted some awesome clothes, costumes and more cider than I could carry.

A friends holiday was in order and we managed a last minute trip to Budapest. Im not sure how we managed to regain a friendship between the four of us (Mollie, Rhiana, Anna and myself) after all the puns – just a bunch of Budababes, buDABpest on em, getting Budapissed, budaboozy and the rest of it. We had a really chilled, fun time and joined the hoards of hen and stag dos – ‘yeah we’re on our hen do, our costume is that we all wear denim. Cool right…?’. The most ridiculous part of the holiday was the beer bike we signed up to do; a way to see the city and drink litres of beer whilst cycling on a 8 seater vehicle. It would’ve been great, if it weren’t for the fact that 2 pedals were broken, meaning we were all doing more work than we should’ve been. By the end of the tour we were outside the converted bike/car vehicle, pushing it along the road – tipsy but not drunk, as it felt like we cycled the Tour De France. Never again.

One day I woke up and decided to go vegan. No pre planning, didn’t need to watch ‘What the Health’ or ‘Cowspiracy’. Didn’t buy a cook book. Didn’t make a food diary. I just thought I’d give it a go. 7 months later I’m still well and truly vegan, and it’s so much easier than you’d think. Obviously there are loads of benefits; I sleep better, my skins clearing up (slowly albeit), I’ve lost weight and I do have more energy. But there are unexpected changes, at times I feel weak but its because I haven’t eaten enough (you have to force yourself to eat almost double as you used to), sometimes people will say you’re being difficult or anti social or ‘you’re not getting enough protein!!!!!!’ – but you have to trust your morals, body and education and know that you’ll be just fine.

Summer passed and I turned 23 at a surf festival in Cornwall (volunteering as a steward all the while). Our male housemate told myself and the 2 other girls that we had to leave the house in Oxford as the landlord wanted to refurb. It turns out he lied and just wanted us out so he could live with his deadbeat mates. If they wanted to live in a dingy house with added damp for decoration, then they were more than welcome to it. We found out they’d listed our rooms for rent without telling us, conducted viewings in our rooms whilst we were away (disgusting violation of privacy if you think about it) and didn’t even say bye when we left. We packed up a van and drove our belongings to London. I can confirm that this was probably the pit of my year; I was sick with the flu, we were stressed and had more stuff than we could’ve imagined. With a month still remaining of my contract at Oxfam, I moved into housesit at a gorgeous family home close to central Oxford. I spent my evenings cooking, gardening and reading. I felt like I’d gone to a retreat, only it was free. They did have a 16 year old cat however which screamed like a toddler and put its paws on my face at every oppurtunity.

I sat in limbo – nowhere to really call home, no job and no idea what to do next. As usual, I went overseas to fill the void. I spent 3 days in Brussels with ONE campaign. We were telling EU leaders why they should renew the Aid budget, which supports people all over the world to access good quality health care and education. Conference days were insightful but became tiresome when we were sat in the same seats, watching presentations for hours and hours. However, the food was top notch. As always, the vegans assembled and we ploughed through salads, sandwhiches, wraps, pies, veg, fruit, grains etc etc. Bono sent us cupcakes as a thank you our hard work (seriously) and we managed to convince MEPs to vote in the way we wanted them to. Not bad for a bunch of young activists from around Europe.

Scrolling through facebook one evening and I see an advert for ‘UpRising – Fastlaners. 18-25 and unemployed? Free course’. Hell yah I love me a free course and I was unemployed as heck. I signed up, had a quick chat with an Emma on the phone and received info by email. It was an 8 day course in London, visiting different businesses and places of work, designed to give you the skills and contacts you’d need to get a job you really want. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea but I had the time to do it so I got involved. As cliche as it sounds, I met some really awesome, like-minded people. We shared the pains of job hunting, application writing and just the general disheartening feeling of being rejected for things you know you’re perfect for. Each day took us to new workplaces; start up spaces, software developers, charities, corporate offices, media agencies etc. I loved how much we focussed on our own ‘brand’ and catered to what was relevant for us individuals rather than just seeing us as ‘unemployed young people’. My confidence grew (who knew there was space to go) and by the last day I was truly gutted to say by to the friends I’d made.

After completing the course, I went to a job interview at Comic Relief and heard the next day that I’d been offered the role. With 2 weeks until the start date, my mind turned to travel. I sat at the computer and googled ‘hot countries in November’. Fiji, Bali, Hawaii, Mozambique, South Africa, Australia. A few destinations were ruled out due to distance and some were uncharacteristically stormy for the time of year. Morocco popped up. I’d never been keen to go as I’d heard questionable stories from female mates who’d been. However, when I realised you could surf there, I changed my mind and booked flights and a week stay at a hostel in Taghazout. I planned to spend 7 days surfing and probably go to a few more cities before flying home from Marrakech. After a few days surfing, I knew I wouldn’t be in a rush to leave. The waves were decent and day to day costs were so cheap, I saw no reason to explore when I was enjoying relaxing and doing F all. The only downfall were the bed bug bites that covered my body. I was red and rashy and was told repeatedly that it was my clothes that were dirty and thats why I was being bitten. Errrr nope. It wasn’t until other guests started being bitten that they took me seriously. I moved bed 4 times, attempting to escape the mites which had taken over the whole hostel. Bugs aside, it was a well deserved break and being in the water everyday made me fall in love with surfing. Being in the ocean and experiencing it’s force is a powerful feeling and grounds you. I went from a newbie surfer to riding waves with friends who have surfed for years – I’m no expert yet but I’m a lot more confident in deep water and on bigger waves than I was when I arrived.

My windswept hair and salty, sandy body returned to the UK and began working as a social media exec at Comic Relief. The environment is hectic but there are some helpful and cool people to help you through it. Commuting from my parents in Welwyn was a bore so I found a cute little room in a 2 bed flat in Clapham South and live with a girl called Kabeh. We get on really well because she’s a fellow Leo and generally a lovely, genuine person. I try walk to work most days and get the tube when it rains. I have a slow cooker which I’m strangely passionate about (err hello hot porridge ready for you when you wake up) and have busied myself with London life. Yes its pricey but its also equally great. Theres always an event to go to, people to catch up with and bars and restaurants to enjoy and I don’t actually know what I did with myself before I moved here.

I ended the year in Vienna – back with Jordan, Li (plus my aunty, uncle, and other cousin in Austria). The days leading up to NYE were a mixture of fireworks, waltzing, snow that turned to sleet, hours spent in comfy vegan restaurants, admiring Picasso’s work and sitting on my aunts pantry floor to try and warm up.

Admittedly, it is strange and very self indulgent to write so much about ‘my’ year, but its so satisfying to get it all out, reminisce and remind yourself of what you’ve been through and achieved in 12 months. Like I said at the start, I don’t feel like 2017 has been a momentous year. I look back and wish I’d of aimed higher or committed myself to something substantial. But if I had done that I wouldn’t have met half the people that I did this year.

Massive thanks to everyone who’s made it amazing – Mum, Dad, J, G, Rhiana, Mollie, Anna, Natalie, Kate, Jacqui, Emma, Kabeh, Max, Summer & Alan, Marcia & Bernd, sooo many people at Oxfam and my new pals at CR. (+ many, many more)


Fair Tax talks – OxOx 2016

campaigns, Uncategorized

Fair Tax: what does it look like and how do we get it?
Oxfam and University of Oxford co-sponsored Symposium

#OxOx2016 #FairTax

You know you’re a true adult when you spend your Tuesday evening at a conference on tax evasion.

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As dull as it sounds from the outside, it was surprisingly interesting. At work lately we’ve been covering tax evasion, the Panama Papers leak, tax havens and how it contributes to poverty. Because all the content is sent our way, it sometimes passes over my head and I don’t fully understand whats going on from all sides (which I probably should). I’m also a ONE campaign youth ambassador and we’re calling on our MPs to do more to pressure David Cameron ahead of the Anti-Corruption Summit on 12th May to ensure tax transparency is a priority. Basically tax is a big deal at the moment and I want to learn more about how we can make it fair – to people like us and those living in poverty.

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The event, hosted by Oxfam GB CEO Mark Goldring, brought together the shared knowledge of Oxfam’s directors and the University of Oxford’s African Studies Centre during the aftermath of the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal.

Dr Carlos Lopes from the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa was the keynote speaker. He introduced the notion of fair tax in Africa.

Dr Lopes told the room about how 6 out of 10 unequal countries in the world are in Africa – mostly in southern Africa. Coincidentally, 6 out of 10 jobs in Africa are classed as informal, which means employees are vulnerable to external shocks. Imagine if you had no protection over being fired out of the blue and no savings as a back up in case this happened. The closest comparison I can think of is being on a zero hour contract; no job stability and the inability to plan ahead.

‘We need to advocate for inclusive structural services – which will be economically empowering’ – Think less about international aid and more about how poorer countries can help themselves because money will be accessible to them if everyone pays the correct taxes.

‘The Panama Papers shone a light on tax evasion and now the whole world knows how bad it is’ – this is so true. I had very little interest in tax evasion until the Panama Papers leak, this Panorama story is a simple explanation of the global issue. Now that the world is listening, we need to take action to ensure this is the last tax scandal we have to witness.

’50/ 60 billion dollars are lost annually for Africa. Imagine the impact that could have in reducing poverty and increasing productivity’

Dr Lopes makes it simple; billions of dollars are disappearing. From countries who could desperately use the funds because of their current inequality status and vulnerability.

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The next speaker was Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi. As one of the world’s leading economists she spoke with confidence, grace and humour.

‘Taxation is part of a social contract – but the contract isn’t fully developed’ – No one is really sure where they stand in this contract so can get away with paying the bare minimum or nothing at all.

‘Flat tax means the burden falls heavily on the poor’
‘We’re encouraged to reward compliance. but what are we doing about those not paying taxes?’ – what are the rewards of paying your fair share of taxes? Healthcare, education, public services? These are available to those who avoid taxes too.

‘Thanks to Panama Papers we can see the illegal tax activity but not all tax avoidance lives in Panama or the Caymen Islands – some of the biggest tax havens are British Virgin Islands and the City of London’
‘If we’re serious about reaching the Sustainable Development Goals we need to get serious about tax avoidance’ – Basically, how can world leaders call for a more fair and equal world if other leaders, celebrities and big brands don’t pay their share of tax?!
‘Oxfam need to show up the tax havens in the UK’

Next up was Winnie Byanyima – the executive director of Oxfam International. Before that, she served as the director of the Gender Team in the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme.

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Winnie believes that tax is a political issue. Representing Oxfam means being politically neutral on most topics but maybe this one is unavoidable.

‘Tax has the ability to create a fairer society due to the distribution of health and education.’

‘1 company tried to avoid paying $400million in tax in Uganda. Which is more than the government healthcare budget for a whole year’
‘We need an increase in transparency – which requires a global agreement from companies, country by country. The world is watching the Anti Corruption Summit’

‘We must call it what it is – it’s theft’



Kevin Watkins is Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute. His research focuses on education, globalisation and human development.
‘Google/Amazon/Starbucks think tax is voluntary, like making a donation’ – how do large corporations get away with treating the necessity of pay taxes like a voluntary action? Why do we still consume from these companies who avoid what we pay as citizens everyday?
‘In Pakistan tax is like an elite sport, incredibly rich people aren’t recording their wealth. What are you doing with that money? We need to format a smart strategy ahead of the Anti Corruption summit.’

‘It may be Africa’s problem but it needs a global solution’

Jayati ended the session with a question from the audience. A lady asked, how can we reward those who do pay their fair share of taxes? What are the carrots? ( a metaphor for rewards.)

Her answer was that ‘carrots for compliance didn’t work – sadly we’re only left with the stick for punishment..’

‘..and sticks work best when you don’t have to use them’

The event was really interesting to attend. Hearing from such prestigious directors and economists was truly inspiring and increased my interest in how our governments are going to tackle tax evasion.

Tomorrow is the Anti Corruption Summit. All eyes will be on London and David Cameron. Decisions made will decide the global position of wealth and poverty. As soon as taxes are fair, more money will be available for education, healthcare and jobs for the world’s most vulnerable. And the sooner that can happen, the better.


Catch me on Facebook, Twitter or instagram.


p.s. you can watch the summit live here use #AntiCorruption to join in with the conversation


Why I’m so into activism & charity work

campaigns, Uncategorized


Because there’s no better way to get your voice heard

Because I think of my home as bigger than the city of Oxford

or the country of England

Because I enjoy meeting people who are passionate about something

Because it’s a great chance to travel

Because it will look good on my CV

Because it provides a chance to use and develop skills I don’t use in my everyday life

Because it’s really fun

Because I like being around like minded people


Because I’ve made friends for life

Because I get to be creative

Because so many young people feel like they don’t have a voice

Because I think I’ve got ideas worth hearing

Because I enjoy having friends and second families all over the world

Because I can’t sit back and watch global issues continue

Because I have high hopes for the world around me


Because I like filling my time with productive activities

Because I learn so much about the world around me

Because I get to do loads of really random stuff

Because I can change people’s minds

Because I can raise money for great causes

Because I find it hard to disconnect myself from other people’s issues

Because I know with other people we can slowly make a change


Mary x

See what I’m passionate about here 

See what I’m up to on Facebook





What ya doing in Oxford..?

Europe, Uncategorized

Who knew over 80 of my Facebook friends gave a fudge that I was moving to Oxford?!

So yeah. On Sunday I moved to Oxford after 3 months in Welwyn (post Kenya.). I’m currently a very happy bunny because I somehow managed to land a 3 month job on the social media team with a pretty big UK charity. They work towards the issues that I’m most passionate about and operate on such a huge scale. It’s very easy to work out which charity it is but I won’t say it here cos I don’t need no drama.

It was a speedy transition from jobless, to application, to interview to starting out. Which means I had a day to rush around south Oxford viewing flats & houses that would take on little old me for just 3 months (this came after countless messages to landlords which is always super fun).

I decided on a cute house share in Cowley with 3 other guys. It’s in a residential area so not crazy lively but it’s spacious and clean and convenient so all round great. On Sunday Georgie, Chad and I went to Birmingham to see our cousins and family then drove to Oxford on the way back to drop me off.

I unpacked and prepared for the week ahead. I started the new job in Monday; the first days have been a bit of mix. Overwhelming at times, also pretty calm and chilled. I’ve sat in on a few exciting meetings (that sounds sarcastic but it’s actually not.), been given a few responsibilities and been up and down the 2 flights of stairs to my desk a million times. but yeah, so far, so good. The entry into the ‘world of work’ is a little different for me because I’ve spent so long either working to my own hours or just having such a relaxed schedule and tasks that very little could go wrong (African time is real). Now I’m on the opposite of the spectrum so woah, surprise surprise I’m not allowed to just jam outside with the kids, chill on the beach or wear shorts and t shirt because I’m profesh now hunnay.


Yesterday Papa Mandefield happened to be working like 100 metres away from my office so we met in Costa and did a lil supermarket shop cos my fridge shelf was feeling empty and sad. I went for a run round Shotover Country Park because the weather was iiiite. I was surprised at how much open space there was, right next to the dual carriage way and there were so many monkjack deers!? Monkjacks are one of life’s greatest mysteries. They’re so bizzarre. Their faces are proper deer-like but the back half is like an overgrown rabbit.


Tomorrow I’m going to play a casual game of Ultimate Frisbee with a bunch of people I’ve never met before (pray for me plz). I reckon I’ll come back to London on Friday night to see a certain Miss Gaynor but after that I’ll shimmy back to Cowley. SoooOooOOo0o if anyone fancies a day/weekend out HOLLA at me. I don’t have a working phone because I may or may not have smashed it on the morning of my first day… but message me on the old faceboookkksss.

That’s all for now chumps. Exciting shizz coming up next week (… did someone say speaking at parliament..?!)


i wear work clothes cos i’m a proper office gal these days. 

Mary xoxox

I’m going to run 600 miles for charity

Africa, Sport

There’s no time like the present to start fundraising for my 3 month voluntary trip to Kenya with VSO!

I’ve had the idea to run the width of Kenya, all 600 miles of it… I’ve used my trusty Google Maps to calculate the distance from the border of Somalia on the east of Kenya to the border of Uganda in the west, passing through the town I’ll be living come September, Nanyuki.

P.s. It’s actually 589 miles but let’s round it up to make it even harder aha.

Sponsor me here! Help a sister out and donate a few pennies or more if you’re a generous type 😉
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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Of course I can’t do this in one go so I’ll be adding up my miles from now and hope to complete it in 2 months. I’m setting myself a massive challenge here as I’m not an experienced runner, I’m generally a busy bee and the heat of southern Spain leaves me pretty knackered after work and general errands let alone socialising, friends visiting and travelling. But I love a good challenge; Kenyans are renowned for being some of the best runners in the world so simply running something like 10km would not do the country justice! Haha let’s see how long my confidence lasts ;D

To make it more interesting whenever somebody donates (whatever amount, I’d be chuffed with £1!) they’ll have the chance to request adding something to make the journey more interesting. I’m thinking running in a silly hat, fancy dress, a weird hairstyle, face paint etc. Also you can request other sports to contribute to the 600 miles; swimming (I don’t have access to a pool but I’m close enough to the beach), cycling, walking or hiking. I’m open to some wacky ideas if you’re donating! I’ll update my blog and Facebook Page with photos and videos of proof and commentary of how it’s going (expect sweaty selfies and videos of me generally dying of exhaustion yay).

I’m excited about this as my first fundraiser for the cause and probably the toughest challenge I’ve set myself. Please share my JustGiving page if you want to support and donate if you’re feeling super sweet; stay tuned for news of how my 600 miles is going!

Let’s start this; 600 miles / over 965km to travel to Kenya to volunteer with those a lot less lucky than you or me.

Share you support with this hashtag #MazRuns600

Mary x

Mary’s Project – 2014

Africa, Au Pairing in Paris, Europe, TBT

Hey did you hear the news?! Its a whole new year! In no way is this post a brag or ‘oooh look how exciting my life is’ because that’s lame. I’ve posted quite a lot this year but there lots I’ve missed out. I love the idea of looking back on my blog when I’m old and boring and cringing at what I used to get up to. So here’s my (some of what was missed on the blog) year review. Happy new year to everyone 🙂 10 gold stars to you if you read the whole post…

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2014 was welcomed with my sister and her/our friends (yes we share friends cos we’re totes mature) in a crowded club in London, a group of creepy looking men told us the drinks were on them so we proceeded to the dancefloor, drinks in hand. Next thing we knew the bartender is snatching them off us and we’re laughing uncontrollably and not embarrassed like we should be. Don’t remember how I got home but I woke up on Zoe’s sofa feeling great. I went to Cambridge for Sara’s 21st birthday and had such a good time, apart from the vomit bit (not mine). The following days were spent cramming driving lessons with my instructor Geoff and practices with dad. Mum told me that if I didn’t pass my test I wasn’t allowed to go to Cape Town (already booked). So 5 days before I flew to SA I passed first time.

I packed a huge suitcase, left Mum, dad, G and Peachy and flew to Dubai then Cape Town all alone. Callum and I hadn’t actually arranged where we meeting at the airport but luckily he got there as I arrived. Dirk and his girlfriend Danielle drove us to Edgemead, our home for the next 4ish days. There was a swimming pool so I was happy. Our next home was Bothasig, like the ghetto version of Edgemead. I ate dairy milk top deck, fudge and fanta pineapple almost everyday and worked hard on my tan. I saw old friends at penthouse and generally had an amazing time. The hottest day of the year was spent at the reggae jam in Langa, 42 degrees C. I met Thami and Nomveliso and fell in love with the township. We saw Jeremy Loops and loads of reggae bands. I went back to volunteer at the kindergarten for a little bit, conditions were a lot different to what I had seen before but I loved teaching the little ones dances, nursery rhymes, colours and numbers. I got 2 jobs in the space of a week and worked in a photography studio and kept myself  busy as an entertainer at kids parties. Callum and I made the most of the self timer on my camera and saw the most beautiful beaches, parks and ice skated with the professionals…

I took a week out to see everyone at Otjikondo and it felt like I’d never left. But it was extremely strange not to have Fran by my side. After the few days I stopped in Windhoek, I drank cocktails on a roof bar and took a 24 hour coach back to Cape Town, sitting next to the same girl, Nina, I had sat with on my way. Back in the motherland Nina hired a car and we created new dramas everyday; locking the keys inside, breaking down in the middle of nowhere and getting stuck on the steepest hill in the world. I imagined that would be the place we’d die! We made friends with beach dogs and checked out surfers all day long. A trip to Cape Point was beautiful.

I was the next one to hire a car. I don’t know how to sum up the stresses we had, but we survived and had some wicked days covered in monkeys and beaching it. I saw friends of friends and navigated my way through the madness of the city with no map, no GPS and very little experience and maybe a bit too much ambition. I had dinner with Gilly, Arnold and Oliver and was so happy to see part of my Otjikondo family so close to this new home in South Africa. I drove to the airport and Callum and I met his mum and step dad Bill. More beach days, numerous pizzas and countless tap waters with ice, a straw and no lemon. We showed mum and Bill around and they provided hours upon hours of laughter. We all went to improv classes with some great people and saw a few shows. I went to a helicopter session and enjoyed it more than I expected. Driving to Addo Elephant Park was so memorable; we stopped off at Knysna and saw wild dolphins just as we were standing on the beach. At the elephant park there were all the safari animals and every time we saw an elephant we were speechless. Reversing from a herd wasn’t the best idea (in hindsight) but thrilling in the moment. We made light photos by our little cabins and Callum fell sick and was unintentionally hilarious. Trish and I got hair braids; hers stayed in for a week or two, mine is still in my hair almost 8 months later. We bid mum and Bill farewell as they continued on to Asia.

I went to study a short course at Cape Town School of Photography. It reconfirmed a lot of what I already knew but I got my passion for photography back and met some lovely guys and gals. We spent our last day at the waterfront snapping away. On my way home from class one evening I tried on some outfits in the boutique near penthouse, the shop owners asked me to photograph their new line in exchange for some clothes, an offer I unfortunately never got to carry out. I was also invited to a fashion show at the Grand Daddy Hotel to photograph and chat to the models and designers. Although its not that big of a deal to most people I was pretty proud of myself; I went alone without knowing anyone and was shooting a new style. I spent 1 last night at penthouse and boarded another 24 hour coach to Namibia. The journey was disrupted and I had to make the decision to head to Europe. I had one of the worst days of my life in Windhoek, tirelessly googling solutions and making my way to a few high commissions and embassies.

The weekend before I flew was spent at Otjikondo again and I finally met Chelcie (and Ottilie for the second time). Goodbyes were hard but it was nice to have some proper closure. I met 2 swedish guys in Windhoek who were on the same flight as me, we were a bit slow to get to the airport and managed to be the last ones to board the plane, after our final Windhoek lager. As we flew over Nigeria I saw a  lightning storm and wanted to wake everyone up to show them. It is without a doubt one of the best sites I’ve ever witnessed.

I landed in Frankfurt to a heavy case of culture shock. I spent the next 2 days sulking and hungry because I couldn’t justify €10 for a Mcdonalds… The cheapest thing to keep me entertained was hair dye so I spent my last evening in Frankfurt going blonde. I chatted to Nina and thought the best decision was to go and see her in Berlin. I was the last one on the coach (bit of a ritual now) and didn’t even realise where Berlin was in relation to Frankfurt. Berlin was so cool and I was pretty happy to see nina so spontaneously. I then saw Georgie in South-ish France, I worked harder on my tan, played water volleyball, rescued a baby bird and cycled to the beach. I said bye to her tiny cabin house and got the train to Paris to see Callum. I can clearly remember this as another one of the worst days of my life. It was Sunday and the hotel Callum had booked was no where near paris. I had no phone or internet and everywhere was deserted and there were train strikes. After hours of sitting on the side of the road waiting for non existent buses I finally reached Chilly Mazarin, where we were staying for 1 night. We went out for mussels. The next day I was covered in huge red itchy lumps. I’d had an allergic reaction that got more itchy the hotter I was, unluckily it was one of the hottest weekends of the year. We went from chilly Mazarin to Noisy Le Sec, into a crazy open house that was run by a psycho Chinese guy who couldn’t speak English or french and had anger issues. His wife shouted at us down the phone before we gave up trying to be nice and fled the scene. The weekend was great, despite my constant need to stop and scratch and Callum had made me a video montage with goodbyes from everyone in South Africa which may have made me shed a tear or two..

A cramped coach journey home welcomed us to Victoria station where dad greeted me with open arms and questions over my bright blonde hair. Welwyn Garden City hadn’t changed and summer just seemed to resume as if I’d never been away. I found it hard to have proper conversations with random girls and guys at parties that started with ‘omg you went to Africa, was there monkeys everywhere?’.

I desperately wanted to get back on the road, just like everyone feels after travelling.

It was pretty cool to be reunited with my friends again though. I still managed to really enjoy my summer; working, catching up with everyone I’d missed and enjoying the fact that my sisters wardrobe was now technically mine. Fran surprised me by coming down from Leeds. That was so so so good and sneaky of her and my mum! We saw a bloodied goat at the farm with Mollie and were temporarily traumatised. I took Fran into London where we shopped and went to a mini festival in Camden. I turned 20 and saw almost all of my favourite people and went out in London to celebrate. Camping, more birthdays, weddings, BBQs, seeing Laura Mvula at the BBC proms and a trip to Birmingham completed the summer.

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By August I’d got a job in Paris! Travel bug fed and working with kids, tick tick. I left Hertfordshire once again for a suburb just north of Paris, a new home, family and job. Au pairing was difficult at first, I don’t blame the kids for not warming to me straight away but I couldn’t really complain as my host family were so welcoming and made me feel at home pretty quickly. Gradually the kids have become a lot more cooperative and very friendly despite the occasional drama!  Everyone back home fretted that I’d have no friends and be mega lonely but it was the same situation to starting university (or what I imagine it to be). All au pairs, expats and erasmus students were in the same position. The first few weeks were so sociable and I must’ve met hundreds of girls and guys working, studying or just visiting Paris. I then got into a routine, something I hadn’t really had since Otjikondo. Tefl, work, drinks in central paris, picnics every weekend (always with peach wine), dinner parties and movie nights.

A weekend in Milan, 4 days in Zurich, a weekend home and a day in Brighton, a few days in Ireland and another weekend home including a quick trip to Nottingham all before Christmas holidays meant I wasn’t sat still for too long. I surprised Rhiana for her 21st birthday and it was the best thing ever to see her reaction to me turning up in Boots. I returned home very hungover and saw Charlie and her bump for her baby shower. We played pin the sperm on the egg and decorated baby grows, we’re all a little bit too excited for the little boy to arrive and to be aunties! And I’m so excited to see Charlie be a mummy.

Paris was lively before Christmas and there was lots to be done; a meeting for a zine project, visitors, lots of running, Christmas shopping and seeing a circus musical with Lucie the evening before I took the train to Vienna to see my family for Christmas. I then interailed and couchsurfed in Budapest, Bratislava and Amsterdam. The plan was to also go to Prague but time wasn’t on my side. I honestly had an unforgettable 2 weeks and would do it over and over if I could.

The year was mad and its flown by (doesn’t everyone say this every year? Where are we getting our concept of time from?!) and there was barely a boring day. There have been some major lows in the past 12 months; times when I’ve just wanted to click my fingers and land back in my own bed in welwyn and watch crap tv but when I put things into perspective I’ve been very lucky and the majority of it has been more than awesome. I’ve been in 11 different countries (12 if you include England) and spent hours upon hours in train stations and airports but I’m happy to be traveling as much as possible at the moment. Who has time to sit still!?Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 01.02.01

If you’ve been in my life at any point in the past year then thank you! I’ve met a lot of cool guys and gals and very few idiots (yay!). And my year would’ve been poop without you.

big uuuup, 2015

Mary x

UK to Cape Town(ish) 1st -21st Feb 2014



Here’s a quick round up of my time in South Africa so far, I’ve had an incredible time and it’s difficult to express in writing. I left the UK on 1st February, saying goodbye to friends and family was as horrible as ever, especially as I don’t have a definite date of return. My parents dropped me off at Gatwick airport and after i went through security I suddenly felt very alone. It was weird not having ANYONE to chat to, I’m so used to having Fran by my side that I felt a bit lost without her. After watching Bridesmaids while I waited for my delayed flight I boarded the Emirates plane to Dubai. From Dubai I waited for 4ish hours to then board the next flight to Cape Town! In total my journey was over 24 hours long but I managed to keep myself entertained and almost sane.

Stepping off the plane onto African land was amazing, I felt like I’d arrived back home again. I forgot how slow everyone is though. Everyone’s chilled out, no rushing around… Which is great most of the time but not so fun when you’re waiting 20 minutes for some fast food. I now live in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town with my boyfriend Callum and a friend Dirk. It’s a quiet town but it feels safe and I like to compare it to Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives… Just a bit more ‘urban’. Even though I’m looking to move here permanently, I spent the first week on holiday.

My first evening here was spent drinking cocktails at a bar by the beach, meeting the guys and discussing different words we use in England (apparently we call pineapple’s ‘Cosapungas’…) The week took me from the Waterfront where Callum and I spotted seals whilst on a boat tour, to go karting at Canal Walk (I crashed into the tyres and lost). One day was spent beach hopping, from Cape Town to Muizenburg to Kalk Bay to Fish Hoek, all for 30 Rand (like £1.80). Another day we went ice skating and seemed to be the only non professionals in the rink, which was daunting to say the least! The same day Callum and I played some old school games at the arcade and watched Wolf of Wall Street at the cinema (amazing film!).

I’ve managed to get 2 jobs in our local town since being here which is amazing as they’re both doing things that I love. The first is working for Camber Clubs, leading children’s parties. On my first day we travelled to Durbanville to set up a toddlers party. Setting up the slides, climbing frames, see-saws and ball pit didn’t seem like too much hard work. The house where the party was was maybe the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen. The second job is assisting in a children’s photography studio in Plattekloof, I haven’t started yet but I can’t wait to get involved.

I think I can say I’ve occupied myself well since arriving and now I’m on my next adventure, in Namibia on my way to Otjikondo, the school where Fran and I spent a year volunteering. I’m returning without Fran which feels horrible! But I’m still extremly excited and I’m looking forwards to seeing the children, Stommels and new GAPs!

Sending lots of love to everyone at home,

Mary xxx

A Night for Namibia


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My fundraising show is this tomorrow! (Thursday, 3rd May). I’m so excited and i really hope all my hard work pays off and i raise lots of money for Project Trust to allow me to go and volunter for a whole year!
If you live locally PLEASE come and watch the amazing talent from young people from Hertfordshire. tickets are only £5 for students and concessions and £7 for adults. It starts at 7pm and is suitable for all ages. ALL INFORMATION IS ON THE WEBSITE:
wish me luck!