Hannah Jane Parkinson
Hannah Jane Parkinson
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I don't need to climb Everest. Even a modest summit brings big rewards | Hannah Jane Parkinson

I don't need to climb Everest. Even a modest summit brings big rewards | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Nothing but sky above and unbroken views all around – there is something so glorious about getting to the natural end of a climb Fri 16 Oct 2020 02.00 EDTI doubt I will be summiting Everest (never say never!) but I was schooled in climbing early on. Both my parents were climbers (my mother even free-climbed while pregnant which… maybe don’t do that). I reached the top of Moel Famau in Wales, aged three (OK, it’s 555m high to Everest’s 8,850 metres, but it was baby steps, quite literally). At seven, I topped Snowdon (1,085m). I crawled up and cried a lot. I recall being extremely unimpressed...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Oct 16
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In our divided age, nothing makes me happier than changing my mind | Hannah Jane Parkinson

In our divided age, nothing makes me happier than changing my mind | Hannah Jane Parkinson

e crucify politicians for their U-turns and often it is justified. Flip-flops, however, are rather different from the utter chaos we’ve seen of late, where it would be more accurate to say government policy is under the influence of centrifugal force. Not so much about-turns but a general vortex of mess.As easy as it is to slag off politicians and public figures (and I do my fair share), it is a mark of intelligence and good character to be able to have one’s mind changed. I don’t mean shifting opinions for individual gain; watching for whichever way the wind blows, then reneging on a...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Oct 9
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I’d heard about a running ‘high’. Now, I too, have felt the buzz of finishing a 5k | Hannah Jane Parkinson

I’d heard about a running ‘high’. Now, I too, have felt the buzz of finishing a 5k | Hannah Jane Parkinson

It’s a hard slog, but after working my legs until they’re heavy, I will have a spring in my step Fri 2 Oct 2020 02.00 EDTI used to do what I call – many apologies – “gym ’n’ swim”, which is what you’d imagine. I never did one without the other, because the opportunity to cool down in the water after time on the treadmill or bike – and the strenuous activity of watching others lift weights – was too inviting. Even if my shoulders ached with fatigue and I only did a few laps, I felt so good afterwards. I don’t like to write that because it will annoy plenty of people, just as when runners...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Oct 2
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A shimmering reflection doesn’t just light up your day – it can be transcendent | Hannah Jane Parkinson

A shimmering reflection doesn’t just light up your day – it can be transcendent | Hannah Jane Parkinson

umans are both vain and insecure; in fact, two sides of the same coin. Perhaps because, too often, for me the latter outweighs the former, I don’t love looking into mirrors. I do, however, love reflections.Some are shimmering, dancing: the light that bounces from lido water as one cuts through it; the way a sea is studded with diamonds in the distance. At home, clearing out an old chest, I found a miniature mirrorball. I have no idea where it came from, but as I placed it on the floor, intending to discard it later, the sun streamed through my window and threw bright yellow squares all...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Sep 11
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The power of touch: having sex with another woman shook my brain and restarted my heart

The power of touch: having sex with another woman shook my brain and restarted my heart

Everyone’s “first time” is different: a drunken, messy affair; a gentle experience with a committed partner; a huge disappointment; a satisfying endeavour – or a combination.But some people, myself included, have had more than a single loss of virginity. (The description of “losing” your virginity is quite odd, isn’t it? As if it has been left on a train seat. Though, doubtless, that will have been the case for someone out there.)My first time having sex? An upstairs bedroom during a teen house party, I’m afraid. We’ll breeze past the mortifying moment my friends opened the door and stuck...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Jul 15
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With or without trickling water features, a massage makes the world seem lighter | Hannah Jane Parkinson

With or without trickling water features, a massage makes the world seem lighter | Hannah Jane Parkinson

t sounds indulgent and that’s because it is, especially in the present time of national uncertainty, but I adore a massage, and it is something I have mightily missed. I worry that they have been tainted in popular consciousness by creepy co-workers lurking over interns, or sepia memories of adverts in phone boxes promising “happy endings”, or perhaps villains in films casually issuing directives for genocide while face down wearing a towel.Really, though, is there anything better than a massage that hits the spot, or multiple spots? That kneads knots and soothes skin, pummels away pressure...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Jun 26
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This night owl would love to be a lark. The things I could do before midmorning ... | Hannah Jane Parkinson

This night owl would love to be a lark. The things I could do before midmorning ... | Hannah Jane Parkinson

ise and shine! Something I have never said in my life, except perhaps to a one-night stand, to give them a hint. In the language of lifestyle magazines, wellbeing websites and, well, nature: are you a night owl or an early-morning lark?I am a night owl, though that is usually under the duress of insomnia. Rather than lying in the dark and fretting about how little sleep I am going to get, and how tired this will make me the next day, I try to get up and do something productive (I use the word very loosely). If I had the ability to change myself in this particular regard (believe me, I have...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Jun 19
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The journey home after a perfect trip away is the best, bittersweetest bit | Hannah Jane Parkinson

The journey home after a perfect trip away is the best, bittersweetest bit | Hannah Jane Parkinson

here is a reason plenty of feelgood films close with a completed trip; the end of a journey. A wide-angle shot of a bunch of festival-tired friends, heads leaning against one another; the close-up of a protagonist looking out of a plane window, a smile spreading across their face. Unlike so much that appears on screen, I know both these shots to be tangible and true.A lot of people associate the good feeling of returning from a trip with switching the lights on, dumping luggage in the hall, putting the kettle on and breathing in the marinade smells of home. But that isn’t coming home; that...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
May 29
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Setting the out-of-office is the virtual equivalent of slipping on the flip-flops

Setting the out-of-office is the virtual equivalent of slipping on the flip-flops

It might seem a little odd to be writing about the joy of composing one’s out-of-office when, thanks to the pandemic, most of us are already out of office.But the thought that foreign holidays may be a long way off is making me ache for one. I just want to sit on a beach somewhere. Swim in the sea. Not worry about a spike protein penetrating my lungs.When one thinks of the glorious anticipation of a holiday, packing comes to mind. But, being a perennially disorganised person who would probably have made the journey to Mordor with the ring and nothing else – in fact, possibly not even the...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
May 29
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My local park is a space where I can be alone – and feel part of the community | Hannah Jane Parkinson

My local park is a space where I can be alone – and feel part of the community | Hannah Jane Parkinson

s I write, it is week four – possibly five? – of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. I cannot measure out my life in coffee spoons, as I do not have one of those fancy espresso machines, but nevertheless there are the daily routines of tea and biscuits, stroking the cat, ignoring emails and then, finally, working. Usually after I have found and considered random things around the house: a lanyard that belongs to the past; a book I hated, stuffed under a piece of furniture.At some point in the day, I make my escape. I head towards space that is open and green; towards water, which knows...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
May 15
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Cheating a hangover is one of life's gems

Cheating a hangover is one of life's gems

race yourself. That is the first thing that enters one’s head after a heavy night out, before the eyes are even open. Sometimes, listing nausea or a banging in the brain is what wakes us in the first place. We all know that if someone invented a cure for hangovers – and boy, have they tried – that person would be very rich indeed. Or worshipped as a deity. Most likely both.It doesn’t matter if it has been one too many after work drinks or cracking open a second bottle of wine with one’s partner… the consequences of over-indulgence patiently lie in wait.It’s the knowledge that a brutal...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
May 8
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Like a marathon, the thrill of painting is the finish

Like a marathon, the thrill of painting is the finish

f you really want to experience the glory of paint, the thick swell it can cause in the heart, I’d recommend seeing a in the flesh. Failing that, acquiring one of his books. I consume art as some sweep the shelves of pharmacies for multivitamins. Throw it down my throat like a shot. While I can appreciate the intricacies of a charcoal sketch and the calming sensations of a watercolour, it is the slathered fat waves of oil and acrylic that are my drugs of choice.I doodled constantly as a child and a teenager, almost compulsively. Every available surface was covered: the margins of...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Apr 24
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Isn’t it the best to be given an unexpected treat, offer or upgrade for free? | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Isn’t it the best to be given an unexpected treat, offer or upgrade for free? | Hannah Jane Parkinson

hey say fortune favours the brave. But what if it favours those who are nice to check-in staff, happen to encounter a hospitality worker in a good mood or are canny enough to hit a market just before it closes?Sometimes good things do, in fact, come for free. And if there is one thing better than a treat, it is an unexpected one. Finding a fiver in an old jacket pocket feels like winning the lottery. Being the recipient of random human kindness somehow makes one feel shiny, special. Now, I don’t wish to sully the wholesome tone by bringing commerce into this, but… isn’t it the best to get a...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Apr 17
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It’s bliss, arriving early – so why am I always late? | Hannah Jane Parkinson

It’s bliss, arriving early – so why am I always late? | Hannah Jane Parkinson

am a chronically late person. I am not proud of this. It is a flaw in my character, and I am certain many of you reading will agree, a significant one. Some people don’t seem to mind tardiness. I am lucky to know quite a few such people. But others, understandably, find chronic lateness the height of rudeness, and emblematic that an individual values their own time over that of everyone else.My main issue is that I am easily distracted. I am somewhat childlike in my facility to have my attention captured by, well, literally anything. Most people grow out of this, but I seem to have grown...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Apr 3
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Running the perfect bath is an art – get it right and the day’s woes melt away | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Running the perfect bath is an art – get it right and the day’s woes melt away | Hannah Jane Parkinson

s a nipper, although frankly I mean until about the age of 18, I wasn’t keen on baths. I was hyperactive, and staying more or less still for a period of five minutes or longer required effort. As a teenager, I found baths not conducive to my lifestyle, which mostly consisted of being late. Quicker bathing meant more sleep; more texting; more listening to indie bands with names unfathomably made up of punctuation.Then: a mid-20s baptism into the devoutness of baths. A love of soaking bubbled to the surface. This love smells of lavender and bergamot oil. It feels like the damp, crinkled edges...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Mar 20
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Remembering a fit of the giggles can make me lose it all over again | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Remembering a fit of the giggles can make me lose it all over again | Hannah Jane Parkinson

e get the giggles. We do not choose the giggles. The giggles choose us. It is entirely the giggles’ decision as to when they will join us, and when they will leave us. There is a reason, when I am roaring with laughter, that I say: “I’ve lost it.” (If I can get the words out.) There is a reason we refer to them as “fits” of giggles. It does not matter, the place, the time, the inconvenience – we are at their mercy. Our cheeks aching, shoulders shaking, tears streaming, nostrils bubbling.The giggles are a distillation of pure, exuberant, atavistic happiness; and therefore one of the very...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Mar 13
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Sitting alfresco at a piazza table is a continental privilege I’m never giving up | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Sitting alfresco at a piazza table is a continental privilege I’m never giving up | Hannah Jane Parkinson

have favourite squares in Britain: Radcliffe Square in Oxford, dominated by its majestic camera; Millennium Square in Leeds; Trafalgar Square in London. Other favourites are much farther away: my breath was stolen by St Petersburg’s Palace Square; I was bowled over by Cairo’s Tahrir Square; charmed by Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa.But who does town squares best? Continental Europeans, of course. That’s why we often describe squares by their Italian name: piazzas. I have special memories of Pariser Platz in Berlin and Livu Square in Riga. When those of us not from the continent think of our...

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Hannah Jane Parkinson
Mar 7
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