Monday, 22 April 2013


On Saturday I turned 31. Not a particularly momentous number. I wanted to do something a bit different with my day* so decided to celebrate by doing 31 random acts of kindness. This is not at all my idea, I saw it on Pinterest from this lady who did a huge 38 acts of kindness on her 38th birthday. I just thought that was pretty cool and might mean that I remember the day a bit more than most other birthdays that blend into the past. I managed to rope in my husband to help and we started writing down ideas of what to do.

*actually, I really wanted to go to a really nice sushi restaurant and get pissed on sake but I'm pregnant so apparently both of those things are frowned upon

Some suggestions from my 3.5 year old nephew included:

1. Give Papa some wine (this is actually very kind, his grandpa really does love his wine)
2. Shoot some spidey webs
3. Wee on someone's face
4. Give someone soap who needs it
5. Buy someone a car

Suggestion from my sister
1. Take my kids away as they're driving me mad

These unfortunately didn't make the final cut but here are the ones that did and this is how our day unfolded. 

1. Bought a coffee for the next person who came along in the coffee shop
Our first deed and the first indication this may not be as easy as we thought - cue a lot of confusion, us ending up with 2 coffees, the next woman being French - not understanding why she didn't pay for a coffee and us skulking out. 

2. Picked up fallen over bikes
A pretty easy one although when my husband picked up one bike - the owner appeared and accused him of knocking it over in the first place

3. Baked cookies and handed them out to strangers
Not surprisingly people were a little wary of this. Perhaps giving cookies in Amsterdam was not the cleverest idea but the baby and husband acted as great accessories in making me look less like a drug-pushing weirdo. I had to start chucking in "it's my birthday you see" only then people were very smiley, shook my hand, ate cookies and said congratulations.

4. Took photos of tourists for them
A crowd pleaser

5. Picked up litter throughout the day
Here is some litter, see? (which I then put in the bin)

6. Gave back a toy car that was going to be left behind by a toddler

7. Wrote a post card and posted it to an old relative (who doesn't love getting old-fashioned post)?

8. Donated money to this crazy challenge my husband is doing

9. Left coins on bike seats for people to find

10. Gave money to the worst busker you've ever heard (and then some to a good busker)

11. Bought some little flower pots and left them on people's doorsteps with a message saying "Have a nice day"

12. Left a 2 euro coin on the find fence (lost property) in the Park

13. Gave helium balloons to kids and tied some to bike seats 
One of my favourites - helium balloon + kid = joy

14. Bought a glass of wine for the random old guy reading his book in the cafe next to us
He was a little bemused I think but said thank you and we had a "cheers" moment. He then kept looking up from his book as if he wanted to say something but never did...

15. Gave people random compliments
I told one guy I liked his bow tie (he looked like Dr Who) but he looked at me very oddly and told one little girl she had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen and she lit up with a huge smile

16. Swapped coins for an old couple to pay for their trolley in the supermarket

17. Let someone go in front of us in the shop queue 

18. Gave money to the homeless man selling the Big Issue (equivalent)
We actually offered to buy him food from the supermarket but he didn't want anything. 

19. Dropped off a bag of clothes for women in need
This is a proper good deed isn't it? I liked this one

20. Posted some magazines through the door of a doctors surgery for their waiting room

21. Entertained kids in the park with giant blowy bubbles

22. Sorted rubbish by local recycling bins dumped by others

23. Funded a Kickstarter project
I firstly chose this project because it was in Amsterdam. Plus I liked the general idea - as it was my birthday I'd had a lot of "Happy Birthday" messages on facebook which is all very nice of course but nothing beats a phone call. 

Two of my best friends hadn't called on the day, they were walking in Exmoor together (I have cool friends) so I got into bed feeling unloved. Just as I was drifting off I got an answer phone message from them both (drunk) saying they'd been trying to call all day checking for reception on hills, moors, and had even been in an actual phone box with the cord cut but finally got through from their little b and b. That MADE me day, and made me laugh a lot.

24. Posted positive comments on blogs that I regularly read
It's always warming to receive a nice comment on your blog (hint)

25. Returned a jug to our neighbour with flowers in after having it for a year 

26. Called O's granny and arranged to meet her in London in a few weeks
O did this one and he felt SO good after. Everyone neglects their grannies a bit and has that sense of "oh dear I should really call..." when other things always get in the way. We told her I was pregnant and arranged to go and see her when in the UK in a few weeks which she was thrilled about.

27. Gave advice on baby questions on website I use a lot (only stuff I knew about first hand of course)

28. Read my son 8 books at bedtime
He is really into his books at the moment and usually he has three - this time we nailed 8 whole books and I think he would have happily had more

29. Reached out to a friend in need

30. Bought a present for O's godson which was LONG overdue

31.Registered as a Blood Donor in the Netherlands
By this point it was 11pm at night, I was about to go outside to wash car windows, adopt a soldier, adopt an animal - do ANY bloody thing to reach the dreaded number but I suddenly realised I could give blood. Much better.

So there we have it. After a little bit of a late start in the day (I was allowed a lie in, then had a leisurely breakfast, then little A fell asleep with all the faffing) - we finally got to 31.

Things we learnt:

-People are incredibly suspicious in this day and age. (Naturally, I would be too and would NOT have taken a cookie off a stranger, are you mad?) "Don't talk to strangers. Don't accept sweets from grown ups" etc. All of this was running through my head. It's a shame really as there was a lot of scepticism when we were honestly just trying to be nice.

-Being British -  going up to strangers doesn't come naturally to us, there was a lot of stuttering and stumbling, time-wasting and missed opportunities.

-Offering people cookies in Amsterdam perhaps isn't the best idea (especially to Police men, which we did)

-There is no totally selfless act. (That wise philosopher Phoebe on Friends said this). You do nice things to feel good about yourself really don't you? By the end of the day I did feel good but shattered. It's hard work trying to find nice things to do for people without them thinking you're just a weirdo.

All in all it was a really great day and felt good to do something completely different. 



  1. fab post, loved it! oh and huge congratulations another bambino on the way! x

  2. Georgia this is amazing. You have totally inspired me (although I doubt I'll ever get round to doing the same thing). Well done you. A day well spent. Pips xx

  3. Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing this on AM!! I do hope you continue this tradition and live to be a hunderd! X

  4. Pippa sent me this through (I'm a colleague) and I think its fantastic! So hereby (I'm feeling a little pressure from your commenting on blogs note...) good job you! :D

  5. Hi Georgia,

    I think this absolutely brilliant. We would love to re-publish it on Amsterdam Mamas if you would let us? Please let me know. And a very happy (belated) birthday.


  6. Woo hooo Gi that is very brilliant.
    Just dying for you to get what should have arrived on the Birthday Morning, which would have made your day EVEN BETTER.
    We should have taken pics of the Exmoor phone attempts I now realise; our faces of joy at finding the phone box and despair/knicker wetting laughter at finding the cord severed.
    I LOVE the photos of you looking shifty whilst approaching strangers.
    Big kisses all round. xx

  7. Love this! Well done. And congratulations on the pregnancy! xx

  8. Loved this post! I'm going to try to do that for my birthday this year! :D