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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Out of the Ordinary

As you may have picked up from some of my posts I spend alot of my days dashing from thing to thing, with little chance in my day to stop. Time or lack of it is something I continually struggle with, and strive to have more of. At the start of this week work was crazy, everyone seeming to want a piece of me, and my brain flitting between to do lists and making an appropriate response.
Today the world turned upside down and I started jury service. Suddenly there was time. I sat in a waiting room, with no option to leave for 3.5 hours. No one came and demanded of my time. I had no work emails that I could answer. Instead there was acres of space. This afternoon there was more. I'm not great with space, and the contrast to earlier in the week was huge. Today was an out of the ordinary day, of learning how to accept space, of waiting.
In yet, both yesterday and today I have had unexpected conversations, where people have landed unexpectedly in my day, and the conversation has quickly got to a deeper level. These are the moments that life should be about, the connection with others, the point where you can be there for someone in their moment of need. I am struck again how these conversations take you by surprise, how they arrive when you don't expect it. I like that. It takes away from the routine.
So, on my out of the ordinary day, I am less tired, but most of all thankful for those connections that can occur no matter how you spend your day.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012


saturday was a great. the sun was shining. weekend jobs were put off. a jaunt was called for. i went record shopping with a friend. bliss. that might not be everyones idea of fun. but. to me, it is. i am an old school girl. i remember the glory days of vinyl. the days where i used to save up my pocket money to go to the local record shop (the one that wasn't woolworths) to buy a record. as the local record shop has long since gone a trip to hmv was called for. again old school; i like to buy the cd. i know it's all about downloads now. but. there is something great about actually going to a shop and having the instant gratification of the record in your hands. no delivery to wait for. that to me will always be better than the tracks appearing on your computer screen. you never have the artwork in your hands. i'm way too sentimental for that. it makes me sad to think that one day it will be downloads only. my storage space will be freed up. but give me visually stimulating artwork any day.

so what did we buy? music i had never listened to before. in this day and age when you can check out online prior to buying with the likes of spotify or we7. i did neither. i listened to the radio. the actual radio. in my office the radio is mainly background music. every now and then tracks get through the quiet and arrest you. that's what happened with michael kiwanuka. his track i'm getting ready stood out. when i heard him do a live lounge performance. that was it. he was the winner of the bbcs sound of 2012. judging by this record. i am not surprised. brilliant. 

(of course the artwork might also have helped the impromptu purchase).

my second choice was emeli sande our version of events.  this voice came through the tv screen whilst flicking channels.

what a voice. what a talent. this girl trained to be a doctor before starting performing herself. she writes songs for others too. the sleeve note thanks read like a whos who. she also won awards this year; the brit awards critics choice. parts of this record bring to mind massive attacks blue lines. to me. that is no bad thing.

i bought both records blind. i am not disappointed.

my friend opted for records old and new. the old was saint etienne. the best of.  

(i quite like the packaging of this one too).

the new was broken bells.  i had been told about the project. found it unlikely. we listened on spotify. loved it. he bought it. on second listen i remembered a lot of the tracks. i love that. that's when you know you have good songs. the singalong factor at the second listen. when it happens at first listen, you know you have a keeper.

finally. thirty one. this was the reason for the record shopping trip. a birthday voucher to spend. this was the record that was selected to be the present. i was happy about that.

thirty one has been put together by the factory foundation in manchester on behalf of CALM (campaign against living miserably). it is a charity that aims to help reduce the suicide rate amongst men under the age of thirty five. i would urge you to buy this record not just because it has good tracks on. but. because it will help others. 

records purchased. car journey home. sun still shining. french doors flung open. glass of wine poured. now the marathon ripping of cds commences. and. scanning of barcodes into databases. (thats the sign of a modern record buying person).  the music and conversation continues late into the evening. musically stimulated. happy. content. i was glad i put the jobs off until sunday.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

seven day snapshot

a birthday cake. first time. nigella never lets me down. a trifle. first time. "it was the best trifle i have ever tasted" said steve. lorraine pascale a new heroine. big fat tipsy trifle. click through the link and try it for yourself. you will not be disappointed. i guarantee. word of warning; it takes longer to put together than she says. at least the first time. it's worth the effort. mothers day. and the youngest nephew is smiling. and laughing.  


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Meet the new addition

This is Patchy. Amid much excitement he joined our home on Monday evening. He is very lovely, and likes his wheel. We are getting used to the sound of a squeaking wheel all night. He sleeps all day. Fun times.


Monday, 19 March 2012


reading janes post about mothers day brought tears to my eyes. i remember barbara well. jane and i have been friends since school. growing up in the 80's amongst other strikes we remember the teachers strike. during that time we were not allowed to stay on school premises at lunch time. jane lived near our school. each lunch time for what seemed like months (although i cannot remember actually how long) we went to janes house to have lunch. each day barbara would appear with drinks and offer us whatever she had baked that week (flapjack and parkin were the favourites) to accompany the packed lunches we brought with us.  after janes dad died i became the friend who jane would call and ask to pop in and check on her mum if she was worried about her.  that was the time i got to know barbara well. up until that point we hadn't got past the polite conversation you have with a good friends mum. the more i popped in to check and report back the more we built up a rapport that resulted in me being just as cheeky to her as i am with my own mum. the laughter came easy. when she became ill i was happy that i could be someone to visit her in reading who reminded her of her beloved north west roots. i know how much jane misses her. i know too what a fantastic mother jane is. she exhibits touches of her mum; she bakes, she walks, she loves nature. whilst remaining her own independent soul. moulding and challenging the young lives she has care over into the man and woman they will be become. i know barbara would be proud. i have no doubt. 

as i read the post i realise that i take my own mum for granted. i am guilty of thinking she will be around forever. when the truth is we do not know what is around the corner for anyone. janes post made me realise that i need to embrace some time with my mum. for that prod i will be eternally grateful. we did celebrate with her yesterday. my sister, her family and myself. mum is now grandma. as such is shared around further. to her children she is known as magic madge. to her grandchildren grandma magic. really she is just mum. and i love her. 


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Today, its Mother's Day. This is the second Mother's Day, since Mum died, and I'm still finding it tough, the gap where my Mum used to be is still very noticeable, and I miss her.
This week in my garden the camellia has come into flower.
It is beautiful, and very poignant that it should have flowered this week, as this was my Mum's camellia, that I'm now watching for her. But it also has a story that makes me smile. It lives in a very heavy, brown pot, and when Mum moved from Manchester to Reading I couldn't lift it. Mum said leave it- I was determined to bring it as I knew how much she loved it. In the end I dug it out of the pot, and drove it down from Manchester in a scruffy yellow bucket. while the removal men took the pot. It caused much argument and subsequent laughter, and now it sits in the lovely pot she chose.
This weekend Ellie and I have had one of those weekends- a mother and daughter weekend where we both manage to get under the other's skin. The argument is about a model that has to be built for a school project. Saturday morning there are tears, arguments, but above all the theme of the conversation is me telling Ellie her way won't work, and Ellie trying to prove it will. The more I say it won't the more Ellie tries to prove it will. And I see the pattern again...of independence...of trying to prove your Mum wrong, and that you can do it, except this time I'm the one saying it won't work.
See that's the thing with Mother's and Daughters, before you know it the cycle is repeating itself, and where once you were determined to do something you now see the independent streak passed down.By the end of the weekend we had achieved this:
And all is happy with the world. When I was growing up Mum and I were never that close as I was too busy making my stand, proving that I was right (or thought I was). Only after Dad died did our relationship deepen. On Mother's Day I can reflect, and say Mum, I now understand.


Saturday, 17 March 2012


this is gloria. my youngest niece.

when i saw jane i also visited my brother and his family. i had one on one brother sister time and one on one niece time. gloria asked if she could take pictures with my camera. the strap was adjusted to fit her wrist. off she went around the house. these are some of the photos she took.

i love the perspective. low. looking up or looking down. not all are in focus but none have been cropped. i think she might have the eye. 


Monday, 12 March 2012

magical musical indulgence

last friday evening i was at home alone. last week was both hard and joyful. by friday the combination of the two had got me. i was glad of the peace and time to relax. there are different ways i relax. stealing an hour to read a magazine uninterrupted. listening to music, newly found or old favourites. going out with friends. watching a film. cooking dinner. last friday i switched on the tv hoping there would be something that would be "chewing gum for the eyes" (my version of easy listening). what i found was not chewing gum. what i found was touching, poignant and moving. what i found was still bill: the bill withers story. now i am a music fan. bill withers is a name i know. in honesty i know the hit records. i didn't know anything of the man. i didn't know he came late to music. i didn't know before he made music he made toilets for aircrafts. i didn't know he is now seventy. i didn't know he met his wife at a gil scot-heron gig and retired pretty much as he had a family as it was important to him to be around when they were growing up. nor did i know this man's perspective on life. he speaks about when you are not conditioned to be a certain way you can see life and have insight that conditioned people do not see; "if nobody throws their rules at you, you might have a chance to make a hit record". he speaks like a song-writer. i urge you to find a spare ninety minutes, click through the above link and treat yourself to a little magical musical indulgence. for those of you who only have two minutes; click on the video below and enjoy.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

free friday

last week i travelled south. jane and i had a date. a date with a free day. no plans. no children. no husband. we couldn't remember the last time that happened. life happens. sometimes it is good to remember to slow down. spend time. relax. last friday we did just that.  we chose a location and went with the flow.

a spot of retail therapy.

a bite of lunch.

a walk by the river.

a stop on a bench. with an inscription that we loved.

a sugar hit.

a chance to take time.  "this is the me i never get time for" said jane.

home time. time to find places for new purchases.

the routine is back. dinner is made. sharing wine whilst doing so.

kids happy. friends round for tea. evening activities attended.

never would we be without these kids (my god kids). nor husband (my friend).  but. time and space away. only for a few hours. brings with it a thankfulness. thankfulness for what you have. what you share. what you give. and what comes back to you.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Head Space

Today has been one of those stupid busy days. Meetings all day at work with the height of luxury being time for a cuppa soup at lunch, dashing giving lifts everywhere as part of the mum taxi service early evening, then a lovely friend round in the evening with a birthday cake made in between.
I'm lying in bed typing this, and every bone in my body aches with the tiredness of the day. In yet, today was a success. At work my head worked, I remained calm, and situations that could have worn me down didn't. We made a cake even though an extra emergency shopping trip was required for icing sugar. Homework on homophones (didn't even know what they where till this evening, I'll leave you to go google that one:))was completed without tears. Washing is folded, the kitchen tidy.
And I am reminded yet again that my ability to deal with a day and remain in one piece is not to do with how busy you fill it, but rather on your headspace, your inner you enabling you to walk tall. Today, was a good day.


Thursday, 1 March 2012


i am writing this post whilst on my lunch hour. 
my last working lunch hour for two days. 

this lunch hour the sun is shining. 
this lunch hour the parking spot right by the shop door was free. 
this lunch hour i got the last falafel and houmous wrap on the shelf. 
this lunch hour i walked to the post box to post the letters.
without a coat.

tonight i will drive south.
tonight i will listen to music through headphones.
on shuffle.
and sing along.

tonight i will arrive at my friends house.

we will embrace.
will will talk.
we will laugh.

tomorrow we get to be just us two.
hanging out.
for a whole day.

the joy of friendship.
short hand.

i am thankful.