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Wednesday, 28 November 2012


this morning i have been gifted an unexpected hour of time. my car has issues and as i wait for a man to come and fix it i came back into my house, immediately going to all the chores i have to do. 

it's the second time this week something i rely on isn't up to speed. last night i arrived home to no internet. my provider was doing upgrade works that left us without connection for four hours. it made me realise how much i take connectivity for granted. before last night i would have told you i could live without always being on-line but now with all the different things i do on-line, not least this space here, i think i would struggle with having no access to the world wide web.

as i sat down to dinner it was sobering to realise my reliance on something that is an inanimate object. i soon realised what i missed was my connection with people. i don't always go to news pages and pour over what is up and coming to keep myself ahead of the game but i do connect with people. it might be mailing friends or checking facebook, it might be uploading to flickr and looking at contacts uploads, it might be writing in this space or reading and commenting on others spaces. whatever it may be it is about connection, connection outside of yourself. 

last night i went old school, i wrote the letters that are long overdue. funny how a break in modern connections forced me to think of the old ways. i need to remember to do that more often.


Saturday, 24 November 2012


Rain falling on the window panes
Snuggled under a duvet
Saturday morning no need to get up
Papers in front of me
Cup of tea by the side

Rain falling on the window panes
Smells of baking coming from the oven
Homemade soup in a mug
Saturday lunch time

Rain falling on the window panes
Fire on
Candles lit
Glass of wine in hand
Snuggled on the sofa
Strictly swirling dresses
Graceful dancing
Saturday tea

Rain falling on the window panes
Snuggled under a duvet
Cup of tea by the side
Saturday night


Friday, 23 November 2012

at the kitchen sink

whilst doing the dishes tonight i found myself humming. do you ever do that? sometimes i have no idea what i am humming. that happened tonight. i realised i was humming this but actually what i was thinking of was this. i went to my lounge and pulled out the greatest hits of paul mccartney and wings, played the cd and sang along.  i carried on washing up and left the cd running. almost an hour later this track played. 

i realised as i was watching that i expected it to be this video. not sure how i got them mixed up in my head but i know that both tracks were on the pipes of peace record. it took me back to our old school friend jane (a different jane to the one who writes here) how i introduced that record to her family and how i was told that every time they heard it it made them think of me. i love how you can forget something but hearing a song suddenly brings it all back; drinks parties at christmas, early morning cups of tea, a younger sister much more keen to get to school than we ever were, a younger brother who made us all laugh and dinner invites at any time of the year. happy, cherished memories.


Thursday, 22 November 2012


This week the onset of Winter has been very much in evidence. Every time I've been out in the car leaves have whirled on the road in front of me, and the trees now look bare. The sky always seems grey and dark, and the season of winter has stripped away the last threads of autumn.
Winter is also a reflection on a personal level, as we go through seasons in our lives, times where sometimes everything is barren, compared to the fruitfulness of summer.

This week there has been the usual things that make life more tricky, sick children, leaking water pipes and the usual family debates on homework. But in other areas of my life I'm still going through aspects of winter, where it is hard going.

This morning I was reminded that this is fine, and also to hope within that:

'Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vine
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food...
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold and no cattle in the stalls
yet I will rejoice in  the Lord, I will be joyful in God my saviour'

Habakkuk 3:17-18

It doesn't matter if there is no obvious 'crop' ,  what matters is God is unchanging, and I can place my hope in that, where I am is normal. All week through various friends I've been reminded to be thankful.

Tonight as I looked out of the kitchen window something colourful caught my eye against the bare branches. I went out to the bottom of the garden and there was one flower on a camilla that normally flowers in spring. It's the first time I've seen it.

It seems so out of place with the rest of nature,  but there was the colour and life against everything else. This is the joy against the darkness, and I'm learning to be thankful for that.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012


tonight i sit in a fog of exhaustion. sitting in a house strewn with bags containing items that need to find their place. eating a dinner of leftovers and drinking the last glass of wine. feeling tired but thankful. knowing this time is my time.  

the working week will be there tomorrow but tonight i remember; low lying november sun melting the first frosts. time spent with friends to recharge our batteries. the sound of the waves breaking against the shore. turning the corner to enter an enchanted world, well in my imagination at least. fog rolling up and down hills on an almost minute by minute basis revealing and hiding its beauty. a reunion of family. modern technology allowing far flung members to connect and feel part of it. modern technology failing just enough to make us feel cut off. generations connecting, healing. late nights. early mornings. together; be it two or thirty two. 

in the last three weeks i have snapped over a thousand images, i'm behind in looking let alone editing. but for now here's a photo of what triggered my imagination. jane and i spent a weekend away together. i uploaded this photo to the flicker pool for habit and again it was selected. 

tonight i am procrastinating. i'm okay with that.


Sunday, 18 November 2012


Getting up early on a Sunday morning brought unexpected benefits. Sunrise and the first frost of the winter caught my eye as I drew back the curtains.

Suddenly getting up at 7am on a Sunday seemed like the right thing to do. Five minutes later the light had changed, sometimes it's just about being there at the right moment. Those are the gifts in the day.


Thursday, 15 November 2012


The last few weeks every road around where I live seems to have been dug up for gas works, signal repairs or emergency work, meaning that going anywhere in the car is quite unappealing due to the traffic congestion that is building everywhere.
I have a mini, and love my mini for many reasons, but going to work it has suddenly meant sitting in traffic jams. My 15 minute journey to work has turned into 45, and stress and frustration have built. So I've dusted off the cobwebs.

Meet my new mode of transport.

Every morning I now get on my bike and cycle to work. Now this is from a girl who doesn't really like exercise, but needs must. The challenge is what to wear to cycle in, that can easily turn into the professional woman look. So, pumps on with smart trousers away I go, with rucksack to hand with high heels safely stowed.

Going on my bike has brought in unexpected benefits. The wind in your face as you cycle down hill makes you feel alive. The challenge of getting up the hill quicker each day provides incentive, and the fresh air clears the head at the start and end of each day.

But it has also made me appreciate even more the beauty of where I work. This is my route into the office.

I work just the other side of the lake, only on my bike can I get so close.

Yesterday whilst sitting at my desk I saw a fox go past on the path near my window. My work like everybody's can be very stressful, but nature surrounding me brings perspective. Travelling on two wheels rather than four has brought freedom.


Monday, 12 November 2012

ten years ago

i am the eldest of three children. my brother lives in london, my sister round the corner from me in manchester. this morning my alarm went off at 5am. i got out of the bed in the spare room at my brothers house and drove the 197 miles to my house. all before work. ten years ago it was different. ten years ago i answered a phone call around 6am. my brothers voice cracking with emotion simply said "em, dads dead". it was a heart attack. he was 57. 

numb i clung to my boyfriend who held me while i reeled from the shock sobbing. he not only went with me to work that morning (i insisted i needed to go in for an hour clinging to the daily normality, blissfully unaware how unrealistic that was) but he drove us to the airport. dad lived in spain. none of us were with him when he died. now all three of us started our journey heading only towards saying goodbye.

by nightfall all of us had congregated at his home. dad was still there. no longer in his bed but in a box at the foot of it. it's a cliche to say but he really did look like he was sleeping. he had been dressed in clothes i had never seen him wear before but i was assured that was what he would wear to relax around the house. i realised i was more used to seeing him in a suit not the relaxed moroccan inspired get up he was now heading to eternity in. i stood and stared trying to take in the enormity of it all. finally left alone, i talked to him. i honestly can't remember what i said. the following morning each of us went in to say our goodbyes. that was when i told him how i felt about him, how much i loved him and would miss him. how sorry i was that we had never got to do some of the momentous father daughter things together like walking down the aisle. i told him i would miss never hearing his father of the bride speech. a mercedes arrived to take him to the funeral home. a brand new car, he was the first one to ride in it, we decided he would have liked that. 

the next few days were a whirl of arrangements. each of us wanting to contribute to the farewell that would be the funeral. i contributed a poem that was writen on a folded piece of paper that i picked up when i grabbed my passport that fateful morning. we busied ourselves with making the order of service, talking through stories for the eulogy, meeting with the clergy that would preside at the service, buying clothes to wear (in our haste to arrive in a different county none of us had thought to pack our sunday best). we made arrangements for cars, flowers and food. we made phone calls and gave directions. we stood tall and gave him a send off he would have loved, one that we thought was fitting. we said our goodbyes and drank our toasts until the early hours of the morning.  

a week after i received the phone call i arrived back home. the whirl of activity giving way to the silence of my own home. in the space of a month we had celebrated our mum re-marrying and buried our dad. it was all a little too much to take in. i spent a week at home before heading back to the working routine.  the words that spoke to me were uttered when i went back to work. spoken to me over the phone by the wife of a work colleague. she told me "life will never be the same again but you can decide if it defines you or if you go on with life". she was right. life never would be the same again. her words echoed into me as i went about my daily tasks. around the six month mark i decided that i had to try and go on with my life, that dad would not have wanted his death to define me, he would have wanted me to live my life.

you see dad lived his life. at times to me it felt as if he was larger than life. he was 6'2" tall, to me a man of imposing stature and impressive looking. he is the only man i know who would have thought about wearing yellow "rupert the bear" style trousers with a red shirt, he got away with it, just. he loved to laugh and would often start conversations with us by asking "do you know any jokes?" he was thrilled when we did but if we didn't he would have a new one to tell us before he would launch into "have i told you one about?" and dig into his story repertoire. most storytelling nights were accompanied with a glass of something, many a night that glass would turn into another and another. some of my most cherished memories are of dad with his brother and their kids playing games (usually snooker), telling stories and the laughter becoming louder and louder. there was the routine to life too. swimming every saturday and church every sunday. dad's storytelling would come to the fore there too. i remember him standing in our childhood church silhouetted by a large window, holding open his black leather bound bible and telling the story of a young girl who asked her mother why her hands were so gnarled and ugly. he eloquently described a mothers love for her daughter; the story of how in a house fire the little girls crib had caught fire and she put her hands into the flames to rescue her daughter. the little girl examining her mothers hands with new eyes exclaimed "mother what beautiful hands you have". our parents shared their faith with us. through that example i found my faith. they separated when i was eleven, my brother ten and my sister two. for a while relations were not quite as convivial as they once were with dad. as we grew older we appreciated each other more. there is a history of men dying young on my dads side of the family (pete and jimmy we still miss you too). as each funeral was attended we could no longer justify the rift that had appeared. dad often remarked that if he had known that all he had to do was to retire and live in spain to get all his kids visit him at once he would have done it years ago. we shared many a happy time there all together. 

i don't have children of my own but my brother and sister do. they have spoken in the past of their sadness that dad did not meet his grandchildren. many a day i see him in them. i see him in lola's concentration and determination. i see him in betsy's athletic ability. i see him in fleur's ability to put together a brightly coloured outfit, just so. i see him in gloria's need to sit away from the crowd for a little with her own thoughts before she rejoins the fun. i see him in finlay. well, when we call fin "mini richard" we are referring to my brother but really he is dad's mini me too. lenny is only ten months old but judging by his infectious giggle i think he might grow into that large laugh. lets hope he becomes a storyteller too.

and what about his kids? dad was a hardworking, ambitious man. he was quick to encourage whether it be on the football pitch or sat down quietly drawing. he loved music, he played his organ by ear having only had minimal lessons when he was young. the advice that he gave was insightful and knowledgeable. he wanted the best in life and he showed us he was not afraid to go out and get it. he was a large character with a sometimes quick temper but who also needed to sit quietly and ponder. i think he would be proud of us all. we each embody parts of his character. my brother has his own company, my sister designs, makes and sells handbag sized solutions for keeping kids occupied and i show off my images and write in this space. i think he would have loved our creativity. i know all of us would love for him still to be around for us to share all that has happened these last ten years.

there is no grave in the uk for us to visit. no physical place for us to go to meet dad and have a chat on a day like today or on any other day. i may not have got to say goodbye to him but i know through the faith we both shared i will get to see him again someday and i know he is going to have some great new stories to tell. i can't wait.

Richard Robertson Trail Buchanan
16.12.1944 - 12.11.2002


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Balancing act

Well you may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet on here for the last couple of weeks. The thing about writing a blog is that once you stop writing it's sometimes quite hard to come back- the words struggle to get out there and the longer you leave it the worst it gets.
So, this is me coming back to writing. It's been a tricky couple of weeks, after a lovely time away for half term coming back to reality just seemed too hard. My head went into free fall and a fog descended into the brain. The list of work and home stuff seemed just too much, and I did not have the drive to get back to the pace of life that seems to be required to get through. Living with a headache is tricky, your mind will just not work at the pace you want.....

Everything is a balancing act, and at times you think you will fall in the water. Yesterday finally my head cleared, I'm still tired but it's bliss. Bliss not to feel ill, bliss to have clarity. Mental battles sometimes are the hardest, as they are so difficult to express.  I've managed to walk to the end of the metaphorical beam of the last week, and not fall in, and I see within that all the friends who have been there supporting, and helping. My bible reading this last week have been about resting in God's presence, I am still trying to get my head round that it's a commandment to come and rest, I do busy too well. As I go into this week I want to learn again to come and find rest, to claim the promise that God is walking with us in every situation.


Monday, 5 November 2012


this weekend i went to visit my mum. it was a short visit but boy, we packed a lot in. aside from spending time with family, my favourite thing about the weekend? i got to wear sunglasses. the sun shone all day, the rain only calling at night. my second favourite thing? snapping photos of a church they will be heading to for a wedding next week and spotting a statue in the distance looking out to sea. vocalising "that looks like nelson" to be informed "it is, there is a naval school next door". i'm falling in love with the unexpected at the moment. third favourite thing? uploading one of these photos to one of my favourite blogs, habit. i added my voice to the photo pool and was amazed to be selected again.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

it's been playing on my mind

tomorrow i have workmen coming to my house. 

a couple of weeks ago i realised that paper in my lounge was coming away from the wall. on examination i decided the shower must be leaking. it's directly above and it's happened before, i assumed the repair had sprung a leak and would need fixing again. secure in the knowledge i had diagnosed the problem i made a phone call to "the man who can" and did nothing until his arrival. 

a couple of days later, him lying on the bathroom floor shining a torch under the bath it was clear for all to see that everything was dry, there was no leak. at this point as i had done nothing to examine the problem, just declared diagnosis, i suddenly thought "am i imagining this? i'm sure the wall was cold at least". downstairs we trek. "the man who can" does indeed confirm i am right the paper has come away from the wall and the wall is indeed cold. 

as there is no obvious sign of a leak above we head outside to check the gutters. no blockages, no breakages, everything in good order. there is one last thing to check, the brickwork. from the top of the ladders his diagnosis is confirmed. there is water ingress through my brickwork. the mortar has perished leaving small holes that rain can get into. "is this an exposed wall, does it get the weather?" he asks "yes" i reply "it is and it does". "it's not a big job" he says, "it's only a small area, all it needs is the old mortar to be raked out and new mortar inserted to weatherproof the house and stop the water getting in". the relief i felt was palpable. i had not wasted someones time, he was not only able to diagnose the problem but fix it also.

since that has happened it has been playing on my mind that i made an assumption. not only that but i went with that assumption. i didn't investigate, i didn't ask questions, i did not attempt to understand the root cause of the problem. i also jumped to the obvious solution, didn't take my time to consider other options. how often do i do that? how often do we all do that? 

this brickwork problem of mine is small and listening to the diagnosis a couple of things struck me. the size of the holes; bigger than the eye of a needle yet smaller than the head of a nail. that is all that is needed for rain to get in, soak your brickwork and damage your decoration. aren't we all exposed to the weather of life? don't we all at points feel battered by the elements? the other thing that struck me was the solution to the problem; just rake out the old mortar and replace with new. simple, easy and effective.

thinking on this i resolved to try not to make as many assumptions as i do. have you ever tried it? once you do you realise how much you assume and take for granted and how much is ingrained. they say prevention is better than cure. i can't say i'm finding it as easy as rake out the old and replace with new but i am assuming (ahem) my new awareness will be my first step to waterproofing myself. i'm quite sure lifes storms will soon test my resolve. only then will i find out if my new decoration is a flimsy summer dress in a downpour or if i'm fully equipped with waders for the deluge.