Lifestyle Design

My Primary School Autobiography (From When I Was 7 Years Old)

Glasgow, Scotland, UK • February 1998 • Length of Read: 12 Minutes

Whilst cleaning out my room this week I came across a box of old assignments I'd completed when in primary school. Most of it was rubbish, but amongst the scribbled jotters and scrunched paper, I found the autobiography which I'd written and annotated for one of my classes. I've translated this into the below unedited and unabridged version solely for myself, however, you may also find it really quite entertaining. Without further ado, I give you 7-year-old Crobs' half-glass-empty perspective of the world.


I think my life has been quite worthwhile and I hope you will find my autobiography interesting. As well as all this I want people in other countries to know what a person in a different county’s life is like.

This book is about my life up till now from when I stood on a banana with bare feet to my holiday in Holland. I hope you will enjoy this book and I hope it will bring back memories from your past.

By Christopher Roberts (Aged 7)

Chapter One

On Tuesday 14th May 1991 I was born in Paisley Maternity Hospital and I was 6lb 15oz and my star sign is Taurus. I took a day and a half to be born and Mum lost so much blood she had to get two pints. I am very glad I am called Christopher because the other names I was to be called were Gareth or Ryan and I don’t fancy those names very much. My name was finally decided when my Mum and Dad both voted and Christopher was the name they liked best. It is very strange but I was baptised at the age of six with my brother at Broom Church on 28th January 1996. “Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents came to Broom Church for the Christening then came back to our house for lunch” Mum recalls.

“Close friends had their baby Christened at the same time which made it special” adds Mum. I was an all-right baby at night waking about every four hours for milk.

“Fortunately, Christopher slept well at night because I needed a rest having pushed the pram all day as this was the only time that Christopher didn’t cry,” says Mum.

“Christopher was the second child in the history of Nursery to be recommended to leave. This was because he was so miserable and cried most of the time” Mum also says.

I cut my first tooth at about four and a half months old round about the time of a normal baby. I started walking when I was eight and a half months old on 2nd February 1992 and my first shoes were blue and had clowns on the front. I am very accident prone as Gran says: “Poor Christopher has to be taken to A&E on three occasions as a toddler with severe cuts on his head.”

When I was about one and a half I started talking and my first words were ‘mum’ and ‘dada’. I had the Chicken Pox and some colds but apart from that I wasn’t ill.

Bananas and baked beans were my favourite solid food but I like yoghurts as well.

My favourite toy was a plastic tool box and I was always clutching a tool and my Gran said I even took it on holiday to Jersey with me.

Chapter Two: Earliest Memories

It was the night before Christmas and I couldn’t get to sleep. The next day was Christmas and I was getting my first games console. It was going to be a PlayStation and I couldn’t wait to get it plugged in and play it. My room was very dark and the only bit of light was coming through a crack in the door and there was an eerie feeling in the room. I lay in bed thinking about what games I was going to get for it when I dozed off to sleep. The next morning I woke up and switched the light on: “Oh no! It is 2 o’clock and I still have five whole hours to wait until I can wake up mum and dad, what should I do?” I tried to get to sleep again but I simply couldn’t I was too excited so I carefully tiptoed silently out into the landing to see if Santa had been. Yes, he had! My stocking was bulging with presents and my other small stocking was crammed full of sweets I couldn’t bear it. Looking at all those things and not being able to open any of them…. How disappointing! I walked back into my bedroom feeling very disappointed and jumped into my bed. I lay there for hours on end thinking about nothing but my presents until finally, finally, seven o’clock came. I flung off my bed covers and leapt out of bed, charged into my mum and dad’s room with my stockings and ran back for the presents that wouldn’t fit in the stockings. After I did all this I jumped about in a frenzy shouting: “It’s Christmas, it’s Christmas!” By doing this I woke up the whole household, even my brother which is very surprising as he could sleep through a tornado. Anyway, he was awake. After all this commotion and I had quietened down the only noise you could hear was the noise of wrapping paper being torn up and my brother shouting: “look what I’ve got, look what I’ve got!” until I found my PlayStation. I rushed up to my dad and heh came stumbling into my room and set it up, then I rummaged about for a game and popped it into the machine and I sat there for hours on end playing it. This was my best Christmas ever.

Talking about Christmas, I have also got another memory about when I went to Millport. It was a beautiful day and me, my mum, my dad, my brother, my friends, and my friends’ parents all stood at the harbour waiting for the ferry. My friends Kirstie and Martin and I had yo-yos with us and we played with them whilst looking at the bright yellow sun, the birds flying in the sky, and the green leave on the trees. Then the ferry arrived and we all jumped on, it was going to take us half an hour to get there so we told each other and looked at the waves splashing at the side of the boat. We finally made it to Millport, we got off the boat and walked onto the sandy beach and up onto the kerb and went to a bike shop to hire bikes to cycle around the island. After we had all got our bikes Kirstie and I went to ask when they were to be back and the man said in two hours and that was when I was run over. We were just going to cross the road back to our parents and because there were so many cars parked, we stood in a parking space that was empty when a taxi reversed into the space. The parents were all shouting so I jumped back and they all signed with relief. After that I crossed the road safely and we had a fine day cycling around the island.

Chapter Three: Earliest Memories at School

I remember my first day at school when I was in P1. I wore a shirt and tie but I hated it so much my mum let me wear the school polo shirt. I didn’t always like school and sometimes I didn’t want to go. I soon settled down though, once I got to know my teacher, Mrs Leslie, who was very nice. The classroom was about 12 meters long and wide, there were about 30 people in my class it was very stuffy and it didn’t smell of anything really but people. I remember sitting next to a boy called Ross Maitland who actually lived down the street from me. My worst subject was language because I didn’t like writing stories very much. I liked it when it came to reading though because I liked reading stories and the first book I read was ‘Robbie’s First Day at School’ and I liked this book because it was about his first day at school.

I also liked lunch, because I could see people from older classes I knew and I loved the jam sandwiches that I had for lunch. We were also allowed to have lunch outside when it was sunny, round the other side of the school at the benches. I also liked lunch because the next step was playtime.

In loved play time because I could run about, get fresh air, and see pals from other classes. I knew quite a lot of people from other classes and I began to like them even more when the classes were muddled up. I liked playtime most in the summer though because you were allowed to go on the grass and play. My favourite games in the playground were ‘tag’ and ‘wars’ where we pretended we were space ships and tried to blow each other up.

Sometimes though I don’t like being in the playground because one day I was playing tag with some girls that I took a run to school with when I tripped over somebody’s school bag that was lying on the ground, luckily though I had my school bag on otherwise it would have been really painful. Everyone was laughing at me, even some mums because it was before the bell had rung. I went red because I was so embarrassed. I ran over to the mum I was with and she gave me a hanky to rub my hand. Then the bell rang and I went into school feeling happy again.

Chapter Four: My Great Gran

My great gran, Nessie Arthur, had a very interesting life and this is part of it.

My great gran Nessie Arthur was born in May 1901 and lives most of her life in Perth, Scotland where she dies aged 93 (in 1994).

When she was 10 her mother died of influenza. Her father was too busy to look after her and there were no nurseries to go to so she went to stay with her Aunt Katie in Edinburgh. In early 1913 (when she was 12) Aunt Katie took her to Canada to live. There were no airports at that time so they crossed the North Atlantic on the Cunard Linear Mauretania, a journey that took almost 14 days. I was told it was very stormy and must have been scary for a young girl as it was only the year before that the Titanic had been sunk.

The start of the 1st World War in 1914 stopped Nessie returning home to visit her father and as there were no international telephone calls, the only way of communicating was by letter.

When the War ended, Nessie managed to come home in 1919. By now she was 18 and started to work in Jenner’s Department Store in Edinburgh.

Whilst she was working, Nessie met and married William Arthur in 1931. A few years later my Granny was born and then a son Sandy Arthur.

It must have been very hard to leave her dad and travel to a new country but she did and that was my great gran’s life.

Chapter Five: My Favourite Sweets

My favourite sweets are Blackjacks. They are a bit like the shape of a half-cube and are black in colour. They are rough on the side but smooth on the faces. The wrapper is also black and it has Basset’s & Beyond written on it. I prefer to open the wrapper by pulling up the tab and ripping it off but sometimes I open it carefully. The sweet doesn’t really smell of anything but if you smell it carefully it smells of liquorice and it feels squishy if you hold it for a long time in your hand. If you hold the sweet on your tongue it feels a bit stingy. The texture in your mouth feels hard to begin with but if you suck it, it will go smooth. The sweets don’t taste like any other sweets except Blackjack bars and they themselves taste like liquorice. You can suck the sweets or chew them but I prefer to chew them because it’s easier than sucking. I normally eat them when I come home from tennis and in my room I normally eat them once a week.

I also have another favourite sweet: Polo Mints. They are the shape of a circle and have a hole in the middle of them. They are white and rough on one side where the print saying ‘Polo’ is. The wrapper is blue, green, white and yellow and I prefer to open them by ripping off the paper at the top and picking them out. They smell of mint and are rough in your hand and if you place it on your tongue your tongue feels all minty and your mouth feels refreshed. The texture doesn’t change in your mouth and they taste of mint. They also like Soft-mints, another sweet, but that’s all. You can eat them by biting or sucking, I do both and I normally eat them twice a week

Chapter Six: When I Was Ill

I was 10 years old and I was at school. I couldn’t eat my lunch because I had a sore tummy and my head was in agony. I went outside and I found that I felt too sore even to play so I went into the bathroom and was sick in the toilet. I was going to go to the medical room when I felt fine again so I went out to play only to find I felt really bad and had another sore head. I dragged through a long playtime and finally the bell went. I went upstairs and into the classroom with the rest of the class to find my sore head was even sorer in the heat of the sun in the classroom. I was in the middle of my work when I was sick again, not too much but was sick so I told Miss Milne and I went down to the medical room and lay on the bed for a little while thinking about the bell for home-time and my house. I then felt better and went back up to the classroom sill thinking about home-time. I managed to last five minutes before the bell until I puked up and this was a lot of sickness. Then the bell rang and I went outside to see my mum because I wasn’t to go on the bus. I went home in the car and jumped onto the sofa and had a rest, my mum said to try and get to sleep but I couldn’t so I just say there thinking about nothing until I felt a bit better and was able to watch television. All I had for tea was tortillas and a drink of milk then it was time for bed. My mum gave me Calpol before I went to bed because I still had a sore head. I lay there in bed or hours on end because I couldn’t go to sleep, the bedroom looked quite scary because I thought objects in my room looked like other things and it looked like their shadows were moving. Then I finally got to sleep. I woke up in the morning feeling just as bad so my mum said I should stay off school and wait until I was better. My mum had a friend round called Jill and she brought me a comic which was very kind of her and that took up quite a bit of time as well as a Star Wars video. It was finally night time and I went to bed feeling much better and fit again. I woke up in the morning with the sun streaming through my window, the birds chirping and my brother jumping about the place. I was feeling much better now so I went to school feeling fit again, and that was my day sick off school.

Chapter Seven: Things I Love and Hate

These are the things I love.

I love my PlayStation because when my friends come round to play we have a lot of games to choose from and sometimes they even bring games of their own so we don’t get bored. I also like my PlayStation because I’d get a bit bored if I didn’t have it to play.

I love my Nike T-Shirt as well because it is blue and blue is my favourite colour. I also like it because I feel cool in it and it has a nice pattern with a tick for Nike on it and checked squares. It also makes me feel free because I don’t have any weight to carry. It is the most favourite t-shirt I have and I wear it all the time so my mum has to do quite a lot of washing at the end of the week.

The third and most final thing I like is my GameBoy because it is small and I can take it anywhere with me just by putting it in my pocket. I like this also because it gives me something to do when I go on a long, boring, journey. I also like it because I have a selection of games to play and I have a light to see in the dark so I can play it in my bed at night without anyone knowing.

Now I will tell you about the things I hate.

I will begin with my Adiadora jumper. It is too small for me but my mum insists I wear it when my other jumpers are in the wash. I don’t like it because it is a sort of grey and white colour and it is disgusting.

I also hate tomatoes because they look revolting inside with all the pips and they taste disgusting. They are red and there are so many of them on pizzas it is unbelievable. I also hate cucumber because it tastes all sour and revolting.

Finally, I hate nursery rhymes because every night I go to bed all I can hear from my brother’s room is nursery rhymes from his tape recorder and he turns it up so loud I can’t get to sleep. Luckily though the tape recorder broke and he hasn’t listened to it since.

A Comprehensive Guide to Camping in the Wimbledon Queue [2016]

Wimbledon, England, UK • July 2016 • Length of Read: 12 Minutes

My friend and I camped over the middle-weekend of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, in the hope of getting Centre Court tickets on Monday 4th July, when both men’s and women’s fourth round matches were taking place. For each day’s play, 500 tickets are available for Centre Court; Court 1; and Court 2, on a first-come, first-serve, basis. Due to outrageous demand however, in order to get these places in the queue, you have to camp for two nights prior to the day on which you actually wish to attend The Championships. Don’t think of it as camping though. Rather, think of it as a two-day-long pre-party.

Doug and I were coming from Scotland and, staying at a friend’s house on the Friday night in the upper-class postcode of SW20, arrived at Wimbledon Park, where the queue begins, at 9am on the Saturday morning. Our host had fed us with a delightful breakfast of poached eggs and asparagus on toast in anticipation of a hungry 48 hours ahead, and as we chowed down she busied herself by packing a cooler bag to take to the Henley Regatta, which was also occurring that sunny weekend.

“What exactly is the Henley Regatta?” I asked Doug during our taxi journey from the leafy suburb towards the grounds; eyeing up a leggy, tanned, Eastern European girl strolling swiftly along the pavement; tennis bag bouncing off her back as the stylish dress she wore fluttered gently in the breeze.

“I think it’s just an excuse for rich people to get super drunk during the day,” he mused, “with a little bit of rowing in the background.”

We had similar sized bags to this competitor ourselves, adhering strictly to ‘The Official Guide to Queueing’ published on the Wimbledon website, which stated: ‘There is a bag size restriction of 60cm x 45cm x 25cm (aircraft cabin size). We will not be able to accept bags larger than this recommended size. Also, due to space constraints, overnight queuers should use tents which accommodate a maximum of two persons.’ Joining the queue behind a father and son; two middle-aged Dutch men wearing blue jeans and pristine white blazers; and an English lad who looked like a cross between Gareth Bale and Tim Henman, it turned out that this rule is complete and utter bollocks. The first tent I saw was more comparable in size to the Sydney Opera House than that of what people slept in at festivals.

[QUEUE TIP #1 – Don’t worry about space. Bring as much shit as you want]

Because we had arrived on a Saturday, we were initially given queue cards for the Saturday play, and looking up from my bit of paper with #9745 on it, I couldn’t help but notice that there were more inflatables than in the swimming pool of a childrens’ holiday camp. People had brought blow-up mattresses; blow-up sofas; blow-up tables - I wouldn’t have been surprised if there were even a few blow-up dolls kicking about. As my 6’7” companion unfolded our barely-two-man tent, I looked over at the Dutch guys, each popping up their own individual home.

“I bet you the price of a ticket to Centre Court that you can’t keep that blazer white for the next 48 hours,” I challenged Pinot, the taller man of the pair.

“Why do you think we have two tents?” he chuckled. “One of them is acting as a closet to store our luggage and hang up our jackets in.”

Unfolding my camp chair, I took a seat beside them and cracked a beer. It may have only been 9:30am, but the sun was beginning to peek out from behind the clouds and, as Martin, Pinot’s partner in crime, so poignantly put it: “We’re on our holiday – where there’s no etiquette for drinking.”

[QUEUE TIP #2 – The Official Guide to Queueing states that you are only allowed to bring in two beers, or one bottle of wine, per person. This is a lie. If one reversed an 18-wheeler haulage truck into the grounds and started rolling kegs off the back, nobody would bat an eyelid. Stock up for the weekend]

We spent the morning talking complete nonsense, until a guy setting up his tent opposite got out a mallet and started hammering the ground like he were Thor from The Avengers. Unable to hear one another over the racket, the Dutch guys decided to head into Wimbledon Village for lunch whilst Will, the real name for the man who looked like Henman’s double, Doug, and myself, crowded around the radio to hear the remarkable news that Djokovic had been knocked out by Sam Querrey. Cheers erupted from all four corners of the park.

[QUEUE TIP #3 – If you’re a Novak fan, keep it to yourself]

Mid-afternoon, the Honorary Stewards wound their way down the lines of tents, which had grown to about 5 rows of 100, to replace the Saturday cards we held with queue cards for the Monday. We were given #290 and #291, comfortably falling within the first 500 needed to get the option for Centre Court. The line opposite had been getting nervous however, it being unclear as to where the final ticket would actually be falling. An Italian couple about five tents down from us on this opposing row dropped to their knees in delight when they were handed their equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.

“#490,” the man screamed at the top of his lungs. “YES!” I ran across and gave him a hug as Martin started chanting.

“Are you excited for the Italy game tonight?” I asked him, his national team scheduled to play against Germany in the quarter finals of Euro 2016 that evening.

“What game?” he replied, looking slightly confused.

“The football game,” I laughed.

“Alas, Federer is the only one for me,” he responded, emotionally.

I turned to look at his girlfriend, a sense of disappointment spreading across her face, and wondered how much longer it would be until she would be requesting: ‘new balls please’.

[QUEUE TIP #4 – To be in the first 500 persons, and get tickets for Centre Court, arrive by 12pm at the latest, two days before]

Once the Dutch guys had returned from a three hour lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing card games and drinking further beers. Getting peckish, we decided to get some dinner. Phoning the local takeaway, we placed an order, told them our location, and simply waited. You read that right. At Wimbledon, you can get fast food delivered to the campsite. Unbelievable.

[QUEUE TIP #5 – You can get takeaway food delivered to your tent]

Just in time for dessert, as we polished off our pizzas a kid came round selling cupcakes; the expression on her face one of: ‘my parents have forced me to do this in order to complete the requirements for a Girl Guide Badge’.

“Would anyone like to buy a gluten free treat?” the fourteen year-old asked, meekly.

“Do they come with weed in them?” I joked.

“Oh sorry, are you celiac?” she responded, concerned. “Because they do have wheat in them unfortunately.”

As Pinot burst into hysterics, tears rushing down his face, she looked at us with a blank waxwork-like demeanour.

Eventually composing ourselves, we only managed to squeeze in one further game of cards before yet another kid came round; this time a little boy selling chocolate bars to help raise funds for a school trip.

“Are you off to build mud huts in Kenya, or something like that?” I queried, handing over some coins and gesturing for him to keep the change.

“No, we’re going skiing in Courchevel.”

Great, I’d just given a rich kid further funding towards having a jolly in the Alps. We polished off the beers, and as people started tucking in for the night on their luxurious inflatable beds, I curled up in my sleeping bag next to Doug, tossing and turning on the cold, hard, ground; my sunburn flaming up.

[QUEUE TIP #6 – Regardless of the weather forecast, bring sun cream and an umbrella. This is the UK we’re talking about after all]

I awoke extremely early the next morning with a dead shoulder blade, bruised hip, and wet jumper. As I unzipped the awning to reveal another baking July sun, I noticed Martin was already up, and shuffling around outside.

“How was the pub?” I asked. Shortly after we’d been conned into buying chocolate off the kid, Martin and Pinot had headed to the Auld Fields for dinner and to watch the game. This pub is only a five minute walk from the campsite and its food is absolutely ace.

“Great,” he beamed. “We met a gorgeous Swiss girl who is staying in tent 102 with her father.” By this point, everyone outside our little group had started being referred to as their ticket number.

“What was you opening line?”

“Can I use the charge socket by your chair?”

“And did it work?”

“Well I’ve now got full battery on my phone if that’s what you mean,” he giggled, before picking up a towel and wandering off to the nearby Boat Club, where there were showers available for £5 between the hours of 5am-8am.

[QUEUE TIP #9 – It is heavily warned that, if you leave your tent for more than 45 minutes at a time, the Honorary Stewards will remove it and your ticket will be confiscated. In reality however, they are also there to have a good time, and unless you take the piss by going to stay in a hotel for the night, they won’t really care. Loads of people went out for the whole afternoon, and some even went night-clubbing on the Saturday. None got kicked out]

I followed Martin twenty minutes later into the dilapidated building at the perimeter of the park, hanging up my clothes in a locker room which seemed to have maintained the same décor and amenities since The Championships began in 1877. He was still there in the communal showers when I arrived, and only after I’d washed, got changed, returned to my tent, and had breakfast, did he then eventually appear back.

“Where the hell have you been?” I asked, genuinely puzzled as to what took him so long.

“Getting my money’s worth,” he winked. “Plus, there are some areas of your body that are just simply inappropriate to wash when others are present.”


[QUEUE TIP #10 – Pay the £5 for the communal shower. You don’t want to be that person on Centre Court sweating out three-day-old body odour, especially when most others around you are dressed like they’ve just stepped off a private yacht]

The rest of our Sunday followed similar suit to its predecessor; by which I mean we sat around in the sun, drank more beer, and talked more gibberish. In the words of Ron Livingston from the classic comedy Office Space: I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.” Will was camping on his own, having made friends in the queue in previous years, and we were already planning our visit to The 2017 Championships. I was initially skeptical about spending 48 hours stuck in a queue in a field, however at that moment I would happily have spent 72 hours, and we hadn’t even reached the reason for us all being there yet.

[QUEUE TIP #9 – Make sure you go to the bathroom before entering the main queue on the day of play. There are minimal opportunities to go again until you're actually in the grounds. Don’t bother bringing toilet roll, as the latrines are kept well-stocked, however I’d advise you pack some hand sanitiser]

On the day you wish to enter the grounds, you are woken up at 5am by the Honorary Stewards. Campers are given an hour to get their shit together, deflate there inflatables, put their tents into luggage storage, and line-up back in numerical ticket order. Then begins the long, meandering, journey out the park and along the edge of Wimbledon Golf Course; passing entertainment-lit stands; welcome signs; and overly-buoyant employees, until your ticket is exchanged for a wristband at the security gate: The golden lettering of ‘Centre Court’ glistened off the solid blue background as I fastened it on tightly. It was 7am at this point, and we had to wait until 8:45am until the metal detectors were turned on. After what felt like only minutes however, we were sneaking in our cans of Pimm’s which had been purchased from the local supermarket; not willing to pay the £8.30 per glass they were charging inside.

At the turnstiles, we lined up at those offering tickets for Centre Court whilst hordes of fans looked on in jealousy. Handing over £104 each, we then entered the hallowed grounds and immediately looked up at the giant yellow board which showed the order of play for Monday 4th July 2016. First up on Centre Court was Roger Federer; followed by Serena Williams; followed by our compatriot, Andy Murray. What a time to be alive.

10 Countries That Don't Exist

Glasgow, Scotland, UK • June 2016 • Length of Read: 7 Minutes

A lot of people dream of visiting every country in the world. Phrases such as ‘50+ countries and counting…’ or, ‘On a mission to cross off the world’, appear on globetrotters’ blogs and social media accounts like they are badges of honour; albeit badges of honour that nobody else really gives a shit about, like the Cub Scout badge for ‘nut culture’ (Look it up, it’s actually a thing).

I’m personally not too bothered about ticking off every country on Earth. I’ll never stop adventuring to its four corners and seeking out new adventures and experiences, but there are some places I’m just not that fussed about visiting. Have you ever been to Andorra? Probably not. Well I have. And let me tell you. The most interesting thing I found to do there was order vodka jelly shots from a moderately attractive Irish blonde whilst a Japanese-fronted cover band played early noughties pop-punk tracks. If I recall correctly there were also some mountains. Tour over.

For those of you that do still dream of setting foot on all 193 United Nations member states however, let me up the ante. Like a bonus level on a video-game, I’m going to add ten more ‘countries’ to that list. Ten countries that aren’t, correctly speaking, actually countries.

They are instead referred to as Micro-Nations; pieces of land that claim to be independent or sovereign nations, but are not recognized by world governments. In order to be defined as a country you need to have and meet the following three criteria: a permanent population; a clearly defined territory; and a government capable of interacting with other states. The following ten Micro-Nations all stake independence as a result of these criteria, however have not yet gained United Nations recognition. The following ten Micro-Nations are therefore countries which don’t exist:

1) The Principality of Sealand

Probably the most famous Micro-Nation, Sealand is a wartime fortress situated 12km off the East coast of England that has claimed ‘country’ status since 1975. Built during World War II as a defense post, it was never demolished upon being decommissioned. It therefore stood unused until 1967 when one Roy Bates took over the platform as a base for his pirate radio station. After a few drinks with a lawyer friend of his, he then had the genius idea of establishing the fort as a nation state, despite it only covering a total area equivalent to two tennis courts. Now run by Roy’s son, Prince Michael, Sealand has a population of 27; publishes its own passports; prints its own stamps; and has even minted its own coins.

2) Freetown Christiania

Right in the heart of Copenhagen sits a former military barracks that lets off a heavy whiff of marijuana. Taken over by hippie-squatters in 1971 as an anti-governmental social experiment, Christiania became a self-governing collective operating under its own rules and principles. Following a dark era involving hard drugs and murder this Micro-Nation has now cleaned-up, and its 850 residents are currently deliberating an offer from the Danish government to outright purchase the 34 hectares of land they live on. I’ve personally visited the area and it’s a must-see attraction if you ever visit the Danish Capital.

3) Mayotte

Far out into the Indian Ocean lies Comoros, an archipelago of four islands which became fully independent from France in 1975… well, almost. Three of these islands voted overwhelmingly to form an independent African state, but the fourth, Mayotte, wished to remain under French rule. When The United Nations granted Comoros new country membership however, it did so for the whole archipelago so as to avoid any decolonization chaos. Mayotte therefore sits in the middle of a stalemate, being a French ruled member of the European Union on one side, and a geographically recognised part of Comoros on the other.

4) The Principality of Seborga

Hidden on the Italian border with Monaco and France is a ‘legal twilight zone’ known as Seborga. Originally a principality of the 10th Century Holy Roman Empire, Seborga was thought to have been sold to the House of Savoy in 1729; however no documentation or evidence of this was ever registered. This meant that when the Italian peninsula was unified into the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th Century, Seborga was never mentioned. The local florist now goes by the title of His Serene Highness and presides over the mountain village (population: 300) with a court of white-robed knights.

5) The Sovereign State of Forvik

When a solitary sailor crashed his vessel in the Shetland Islands during a failed attempt to circumnavigate the British Isles, he decided to just settle there. Dubbed ‘Captain Calamity’ by the Media, Stuart Hill became the sole resident of a tiny island that he named Forvik, and claimed its independence under the basis that the 0.01km2 still remained part of the old Norse Empire. The Micro-Nation’s official website states that Forvik now ‘wishes to enter into negotiations with companies with the ability to carry out oil exploration work in its waters’, however warns that ‘only those with a proven track record need apply’.

 6) Rapa Nui

The most remote place on planet Earth, Easter Island is known the world over for the giant Moai sculptures which litter its sparse landscape. Situated 3,800km off the west coast of South America, possession of this island was taken from the Rapa Nui people by the Chilean government in 1888. These Polynesian inhabitants are the subjects of the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond. The author illustrates how over-cultivation of the island’s environment, in a desire to build some 887 Moai headed statues, has led to this annexed territory being permanently drained of its resources to the point that the indigenous people now struggle to survive on the island at the end of the world. Despite this however, Rapa Nui activists still fight for their right of self-determination and ownership of the island, which has resulted in violent protests with the Chilean police.

7) Principality of Hutt River

500km north of Perth, in the Western Australian outback, is Hutt River, an enclave which was claimed independent by Leonard Casley in 1970 following a dispute with the Australian government over grain quotas. Hutt River then declared war on Australia after the national tax office failed to stop demanding the payment of taxes. In response, Prince Leonard and his wife were deemed to be non-residents of the country, and the postal service refused to handle any mail sent from, or addressed to, this Micro-Nation. As a result, any incoming or outgoing post now has to be re-directed through Canada.

8) Pontinha

This will sound crazy, but Pontinha is effectively a Knights’ Templar fort that was hacked from a rock situated 700km off the west coast of Africa in the 1400s. The Micro-Nation’s case for independence is currently being analyzed by the United Nations, with Prince Barros, one of the fort’s four ‘residents’ and a schoolmaster by day, confident that Pontinha will be the Brazilian government’s door of entry to Europe when it is eventually recognised.

 9) Republic of Minerva

When the Lithuanian real estate millionaire Michael Oliver came up with the idea of forming a libertarian society, a pair of atolls in the Pacific Ocean to the south of Fiji and Tonga were identified as potential ground on which such a nation could be built. The submerging reefs were artificially constructed using concrete and coral blocks, with the more southern island being shaped into an infinity symbol. This displeased the Tongan government however, who had been using Minerva as fishing area before it declared independence in 1972. They sent out a ship to reclaim the atoll as their own, mounting a flag on the north island and declaring it part of Tonga just months after. The now-submerged Minerva is said to have some of the clearest waters and best diving in the world.

 10) The Kingdom of Lovely

As part of the BBC TV series ‘How to Start Your Own Country’, humourist Danny Wallace (of Yes Man fame) ended up turning his London flat into a Micro-Nation called Lovely. Taking the advice of eccentric leaders, including Prince Michael of Sealand, King Danny first tried to invade an island and purchase a castle before setting up an online community of residents that grew to 60,000 people. Not content on creating a currency (the I.O.U); a motto (Have A Nice Day); and a national flag (pixelated Union Jack), Danny went as far as entering his self-penned song, Stop the Muggin’, Start the Huggin’, into the Eurovision song contest in an attempt to gain legitimacy. Unfortunately the organizers didn’t quite like his sound, despite the enthusiasm.

So there you go; 10 Micro-Nations that claim statehood but don't quite exist. Who knows what will happen in the future however, with borders constantly shifting. After all, they are just imaginary concepts;  lines drawn in the sand with a stick. The real question is: Which one of the above will you attempt to visit first?

20 Life Lessons at 25 Years Old

Glasgow, Scotland, UK • May 2016 • Length of Read: 9 Minutes

Two years ago, on my 23rd birthday, I wrote an article on the 18 pieces of advice and wisdom I would share with my eighteen year old self. Despite being more of an exercise in personal reflection and to measure how much I’d developed and grown over that 5 year period however, it also proved to resonate with a large number of readers.

Fast forward, and last week I celebrated my 25th birthday: the quarter-century; the quarter-quell; and, for a growing number of people, the quarter-life crisis. At 25 you really start to worry about where you are heading; your status in society; your position on the professional ladder of success; and all those things you thought you’d have accomplished by now but which remain dreams. Following-on from the advice given to my 18 year old self, here are 20 pivotal life lessons that I’ve learned during my 25 years on this planet we call Earth:

1) Almost everybody is making it up as they go along

This is the most important realisation I’ve made to date. I used to be of the mind-set that everybody else knew exactly what their life purposes were, and whilst I was floundering around they were all walking single-track paths to greatness. Reality check – even those people who appear to have it all figured out are flying by the seat-of-their-pants on a regular basis. Life more resembles an obstacle course than an open highway. An obstacle course with myriad different finish lines. You may have an end-goal in mind, but there will be all sorts of unpredictable pitfalls and challenges along the way. Conquering obstacle after obstacle, you’ll soon realise that this original end-goal may no longer be what you want after all, and that a complete change in direction is needed. This is normal.

2) Stop trying to impress people

Remember that person you met at a party who, when politely asked what they do, recited a memorized life story that listed all their achievements from the primary-school handwriting prize to their PHD in astrophysics? Chances are you thought they were an asshole. The more you try to impress people, the more arrogant and egotistical you will look, and, paradoxically, the less impressed they will actually be. It’s great to be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t go shoving them down peoples’ throats like hot dogs at an all-you-can-eat competition. They will just end up choking on your narcissism.

3) Nothing is as serious as it first appears

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. When you do something undesirable, your brain starts to invent all manners of far-fetched outcomes; inflating things out of proportion into an enormous balloon of anxiety. In reality however, nothing ever comes of these concerns. The truth is most people are too self-absorbed to even register these events, never mind having any interest in them. Best put by Mark Twain: “I’ve had lots of worries in my life, most of which have never happened.” Next time you have an ‘Oh my God, my life is ruined moment’, ask yourself: Am I going to prison? Has anyone died? Has the world stopped turning? Unless you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to any of these three questions, then it’s probably not a big deal.

4) Filter your sources of information

Most of what is written on the internet is bullshit. You might even think that this article is bullshit. If you do, then stop reading now. I urge you. Go and give your mother a call and ask her how she’s doing. Go and fix that broken door hinge you’ve been putting off repairing for the past month. In this digital age we are constantly being bombarded by information that is irrelevant, time-wasteful, or agenda-specific. Do yourself a favour and learn to filter out the crap. If you do feel that my advice here is beneficial however then keep on reading; and don’t forget to hit that Facebook ‘like’ button when you’re done.

5) Take trusted persons’ recommendations on-board

If a friend raves about a new band or artist they are obsessing over, take the time to give their new album a listen. If a close acquaintance can’t stop beaming when giving you a synopsis of a movie they recently saw, then make a note to watch it at some point. At worst you’ve spend a couple hours of your life being bored, but the enjoyment and further understanding you could gain is immeasurable.

6) Learn basic DIY skills

I’m not just taking about painting and decorating here, although these are also extremely useful skills to have. I’m more broadly talking about anything that you take an interest in. Love cars? Then teach yourself the ins and outs of how an engine and carburetor operate. Love computers? Then learn HTML coding and simple programming. Love art and design? Then take a sewing; flower arranging; pottery; [insert interest here], course. This will further your passion, education, and overall enjoyment for it.

8) Save specifically for your dream goal

Whether you want to buy a house; save for a wedding; or, like me, travel the world, have a separate bank account with the sole purpose of saving specifically for this dream goal. Then, whatever you do, don’t touch it for any other reason. This will allow you to keep a more accurate track of your finances whilst removing any urge to spend it on a short-term benefit that will only hamper your larger aspirations.

9) You will see your best friends less and less, but that’s OK

When at school and University I saw my best friends almost on the daily. As I got older, took on additional commitments, and pursued different things however, I probably now only see these friends once a month. Those friends I used to see once a month I may now only have an annual catch-up with. When I do now see these friends though we spend better quality time together than ever before. We go on adventures; try new experiences; have uninterrupted-by-technology discussions, and, as a result, still feel just as close.

10) Prioritise your family

During the past year I lost my two remaining grandparents – it was a shit. As this branch fell from our family tree however, a new limb sprouted when my eldest cousin got married. These emotionally conflicting events brought our family closer than ever and truly made me realise that it is our duty to look out for, and help, our relatives through both thick and thin. You are never too busy for your family – end of discussion.

11) Stand by your own principles

Have your own personal boundaries and stick to them. If something doesn’t feel right in a relationship, then speak up; if a business decision doesn’t seem logical based on your experience, then challenge it; if someone tries to coax you into doing something you don’t agree with, don’t bow down to ‘peer pressure’ - you’ve not a twelve-year old in a playground anymore.

12) Don’t compare yourself to others

Trying to keep up with the Joneses didn’t get anyone anywhere. Have role models who you look up to and mentors who can help guide you, but don’t ever try to become a copycat of someone else. Be original.

7) Break the rules

So what if 7 doesn’t sequentially come after 12? Whoop-tee-doo. If life doesn’t follow any particular sequence then this blog post doesn’t have to either. Don’t feel the need to conform to societal norms and conditioning. As long as it’s not illegal then feel free to do whatever you want.

13) Own less shit

“The things you own end up owning you” – wise words from Fight Club’s Tyler Durden. Material possessions provide short-term enjoyment which ultimately leave us under-satisfied. How many people do you see with flashy cars; designer clothing, and all the latest gadgets, but carry the facial expression of someone who’s just found a human turd on their lawn? Rather than spending your hard earned dollars on more shit and clutter, put it towards experience and personal development. As The Minimalists advise: “Don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom.”

14) It’s OK to do things on your own

When you were a kid it was seen as being uncool to do things on your own. People would call you a loner and a loser. Ironically however, it’s the things that you do on your own that throw you furthest from your comfort zone, help you develop, and are the bedrock for success. I’ve been to many concerts on my own and had an absolute blast; I spend hours reading and writing with nothing but my thoughts and it is sheer bliss; Hell, I’ve even gone travelling alone to different continents and had some of the best experiences of my life. Also, you know the age-old adage that it takes 10,000 hours to mastery? Most of this is behind-the-scenes grafting that nobody witnesses. They see someone whom they regard as ‘successful’ and think of them as being cut from a different cloth. Bullshit. Yes, some people may have hidden advantages (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell), but nothing trumps hard work and commitment. And while we’re on the topic of success…

15) There is no set definition of success

In his award winning podcast series, entrepreneur and investor Tim Ferriss interviews people who are experts in their field of practice; from Oscar winning movie stars, to Olympic athletes, to billionaire businessmen. A recurring question he asks his guests is: “when you think of the word ‘successful’, who is the first persons that comes to mind?" What really struck a chord with me was that nobody answered with the £bn net-worth ‘Richard Branson’ or EGOT winning ‘Whoopi Goldberg’, but instead with ‘my mother because she was a great role model’, or ‘my best friend Dave and his wife because they have a wonderful and happy family’. Success cannot be quantified and has a different meaning to each individual.

16) It’s not failure if you learn from it

The educationalist Sir Ken Robinson speaks about the importance of failure in the process of learning and succeeding. He argues that “By the time most children become adults they have become frightened of being wrong. We run our companies this way, we stigmatize mistakes, and we are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is we are educating people out of their creative capacities.” Having obtained my University degree and left the education system behind, I can testify that the fear of failure likely prevented me from achieving certain things and most definitely hampered my creative thought process. I’ve since removed that word from my mental dictionary altogether. After all, is something really a failure if you learn from it? As Thomas Edison said prior to creating the light bulb: “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work. But just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do, doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

17) Make a habit of the important things

Once something becomes routine then it no longer feels like a challenge or chore. I’ve manage to build meditation, exercise, and language learning into my daily routine so that they have now just become the norm. No longer do I have to drag myself down to the gym or slap myself awake when learning Spanish verbs, and the processes are more enjoyable as a result. However, although it’s great to stay driven and hard-working, don’t forget that…

18) It’s OK to chill out once in a while

Crack a beer, hang out with your friends, relax, and laugh your worries away. Some of the best days of my life was when we were all simply wasting time.

19) Keep track of all the cool stuff you want to do

You know all that really cool stuff you want to do in your life? It’s not bad idea to write it down. I keep a bucket listt which aids in planning my next experience or adventure, is motivation to get off my ass and do something worthwhile, and hopefully inspires others to do some really awesome shit as well.

20) Love

Love. Love. Love. Always

10 Inspirational Travel Movies

Glasgow, Scotland, UK • April 2016 • Length of Read: 7 Minutes

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

Before he became a Marxist revolutionary and anti-imperialist martyr, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara undertook a spontaneous 8,000km motorcycle journey with his friend Alfonso to explore the vast South American continent. In 1952, under the guise of leprosy doctors, these twenty-something medical graduates jumped on a haggard two-wheeler labelled ‘The Mighty One’ and began a four-month adventure to learn about a land they only knew from books. From Ernesto stealing the wife of a man kind enough to fix their continually faulty motorbike; to their tent being swept away in the wind; to the pair’s continual bickering; to the infamous Anniversary Routine trick they deployed to get free meals, The Motorcycle Diaries shows life through the eyes of a young man with a changing worldview. A stay at a Leper Colony in the Amazon Basin towards the end of the trip may well have been the deciding factor in what ‘Che’ then went on to pursue in later life.

Euro Trip (2004)

The American Pie of travel films. After high school graduate Scotty gets a flirtatious e-mail from his German pen-pal Mike, he blocks the address and tells him never to make contact again. When he’s informed by his brother that Mike is not actually a guy, however, but a gorgeous blonde girl called Mieke, Scotty and his friend Cooper embark on a crazy European adventure with the goal of tracking her down. Accidentally joining a bunch of football hooligans in London (led by Vinnie Jones), the pair then meet up with two other friends in Paris and the quartet zig-zag their way around the continent getting high in Amsterdam, chased off a nudist beach, messed up in an Eastern European nightclub, and generally fall into failure everywhere they go. The sister-film Road Trip is also a must-watch.

The Beach (2000)

This film adaption of the cult-classic novel by Alex Garland will make you want to immediately book a flight to South-East Asia. The story follows a young English man called Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) who, when backpacking through Thailand, learns of a secret Utopia hidden on an unknown island far from the tourist trail. As he becomes ingrained in the small community residing on this paradise’s beach however, not all is as it initially seems.

Into The Wild (2007)

Into the Wild tells the real-life story of Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch), a 21 year-old who sold all his belongings; gave his parent’s entire college fund to charity, and hiked out into the Alaskan wilderness under the pseudonym of Alexander Supertramp. Inadequately prepared for the environment his decomposed body was then found four months later by a group of hunters, McCandless having become stranded in the bush and starved to death. Directed by Sean Penn, the film’s cinematography is mind-blowing and you’ll be hard-pressed not to just sling a bag over your own shoulder and hit the open road after watching it.

In Bruges (2008)

This hilarious black comedy sees two Irish hit-men having to lay low in the Belgian city of Bruges following a failed job. Whilst waiting for a call from their boss Harry (Ray Feines) with instructions, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) is happy to spend the time exploring the beautiful medieval city whilst his partner Ray (Colin Farrell) tags along and complains endlessly about how bored he is:

Ray: Bruges is a shithole.

Ken: Bruges *is* not a shithole.

Ray: Bruges *is* a shithole.

Ken: Ray, we only just got off the fucking train! Could we reserve judgement on Bruges until we've seen the fucking place?

Ray then meets the gorgeous Chloe on a film-set however, and the hopeless pair decide to make the most of their time together. This results in a fight with a Canadian couple, the blinding of her thieving ex-boyfriend, and repeatedly offending a midget. The final shoot-out will have you in stitches whist also craving a weekend city-break to this Flemish World Heritage Site.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Joining his fiance's parent’s business trip to Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) falls in love with the city that meant so much to the literally icons he admires. A successful screenwriter, he is struggling on his first novel and sees life in the French capital as just the inspiration he needs to finish his book. He suggests to Inez (Rachel McAdams) that they move there following the wedding, however she does not share his romantic notions of the city. The two grow apart, an whilst Inez spends more and more time with her family and friends, Gill goes off on midnight ramblings; finding himself transported back to the roaring 20’s in the process. A Woody Allen masterpiece.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Whilst on an inter-rail tour of Europe, American backpacker Jesse (Ethan Hawke) has a chance encounter on a train from Budapest with Celine (Julie Delpy), a French girl returning to Paris. The two immediately make a connection and Celine agrees to get off in Vienna to spend some time with Jesse before his flight back to the United States the following day. The two wander around the city getting to know each other on an extremely intimate level, the short-time frame accelerating their relationship beyond what would normally happen. Full of incredibly articulate dialogue, this is the first in Richard Linklater’s trilogy of real-time romance movies and captures what it’s like to make everlasting bonds whilst on the road.

L’Auberge Espagnole (2002)

THE University Exchange program movie. Set in Barcelona, it follows the ups and downs of a group of ERASMUS students from all over Europe who have been thrown into an apartment together. The main protagonist, Xavier, finds himself moving in with an Italian, German, Dane, Englishman, and a German, who, despite their cultural differences, all end up bonding over their shared experience.

Y Tu Mama También (2001)

One of the most erotic films out there. Sex. Sex. Sex. Mexican teenagers Tenoch and Julio have waved their girlfriends goodbye for the summer, and whilst their other-halves are travelling through Europe the boys dedicate their time to partying and doing drugs. Meeting the wife of one of their uncles at a wedding, they convince her to go on a road trip with them to the coast. The three head off on a journey which exposes unexpected truths that each character did not expect, hidden relationships, life visions… and your mother too.

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)

The Wild West classic starring Robert Redford as the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as his right hand man, Sundance. Part of the train-robbing Hole in the Wall Gang, so named after the hideout in Wyoming, this pair chance their luck one-too-many times with the law and end up on the run from a special posse who have been hired with the sole purpose of stopping them; dead or alive. Following a lucky escape, the pair decide to take drastic action. “Let’s go to Bolivia,” suggests Butch.