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Friday, 30 August 2013

eight things i learnt in august

august - a month when i love my daily commute. 

my home is surrounded by primary and secondary schools - good ones - the ones everyone wants their kids to go to - some of them take kids from out of the area. my daily commute involves rubbing shoulders with business travelers and yummy mummies in their 4 x 4s not to mention school buses. read queues and lots of them. in august that stops - schools are out and everyone goes on holiday. as september rolls around i will find it hard to set the alarm earlier and leave the house at my eleven months of the year regular time - but that's next week - this week we can still revel in augusts relaxed style. in keeping with the relaxation perhaps i didn't pay as much attention to what i learnt this month but here goes - eight things i learnt in august.

1. its two hundred years since jane austin's pride and prejudice was published. this month i went to see it performed at castle howard near york. i had never been to this stately home before but on arriving there was told:

2. castle howard was the location for the filming of bbc tvs adaptation of brideshead revisted in the 1980s. it is a beautiful setting and i would love to go back and explore the extensive grounds and house at a later date.

and talking of stately homes:

3. downton abbey is actually highclere castle in newbury, berkshire. i was told this by a friend while chatting about castle howard. apparently the writer of downton abbey, julian fellows, knows the owners - the earl and countess of carnarvon - and he had this house in mind when he started writing downton. it is open to the public and i am certainly going to go and explore this one when it reopens again next year. when i googled to find it i found that the current countess of carnarvon has just started a blog - check it out here.

4. i'm a sucker for orla kiely shopping bags. this month i have bought not one but two of her shoppers - telling myself it was fine as they are inexpensive and some of the proceeds from the sale go to cancer research. when i googled to find out how much i found that 25p from each sale goes to cancer research and 25p goes to the royal college of art - i'm happy with that. what i also found out was that these bags are limited editions for tescos - you can find them on ebay for much more than the £4 i spent.

5. make up artist to the stars, charlotte tilbury, is launching her own make up range. 2 september is the day to check out her new website. why am i excited about this? i'm not a girl who wears a lot of make-up, in fact this month i have been described as cheap in the makeup department as i only really wear mascara and lipstick. but this range is being dubbed "a 360 degree beauty brand" due to the fact you can click on a product and there will be a video to tell you how to use it together with videos showing you how to "do" certain looks. it's going for the helpful angle - i like its style (and i need the help).

and speaking of stars:

6. matt damon re-wrote the ending of the bourne supremacy just two weeks before its cinema release date, scripting the final line "get some rest pam, you look tired." he also worked alongside director doug liman who directed the first bourne film - bourne identity - to ensure that the ending worked - hard to believe but matt damon went into filming bourne off the back of two box office flops (all the pretty horses and the legend of bagger vance) he worked hard to ensure he didn't have three flops in a row.

and speaking of working hard:

7. this month i learnt from my friend who is a pastoral head in a secondary school how she has been trained to help kids who self harm by cutting. she sits and talks with them while they hold ice in their bare hands. the numbing of the hands whilst holding the ice gives them the pain that cutting does but obviously is not harmful to their health. i am constantly amazed not only by how much pain young people carry and what it causes them to do to themselves but also by how willing professionals are to help these individuals. i was inspired. 

and lastly:

8. you can conference call on an iphone. this month i spoke to both my sister and sister in law at. the. same. time. once you have made your first call all you need to do is press the add call button on your keypad and dial the next number then press merge calls - simple. 

this year seems to be anniversary heavy - not just is it 200 years since pride and prejudice was published - it is also 50 years since c s lewis died and 40 years since j r r tolkin died. wednesday was the 50 year anniversary of martin luther king jrs "i have a dream" speech. bbc radio 4  got notables including congressman john lewis, stevie wonder, the dalai lama and nelson mandela's first grand-daughter ndileka mandela to read the speech - hear it together with images of the time here


linking with emily at chatting at the sky.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

thankful thursday

this week i am thankful for my health - physical ability is something that i all too easily  take for granted. i am thankful for the robin that has visited each evening whilst the garden is being done - his appearance has made me smile mainly because he is shy - each attempt to take his portrait resulted in him flying away. i am thankful too for modern communications enabling me to keep in touch with friends worldwide be it through a phone call, text message or instagram photo.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

a confession

i'm not a gardener. 

my garden is currently under construction. i'm so excited about it and can't wait to share it. 

watch this space.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

thankful thursday

tonight i am thankful for our human capacity to talk and listen. sometimes all that is needed is a trusted ear into which you speak the things that most scare you. i am thankful to have skills that can be shared to help others towards a better future, thankful too to receive help from others skills - soon i will the proud owner of a new enhanced garden. i am thankful for infectious laughter, game playing fun and a cool glass of wine at the end of long working days not to mention shepherds delights evenings.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

August so far.....

 August arrived, and after the craziness of July the relief was palpable, as the layers of school, end of term events and weekly activities were removed. I had been longing for a time when everything was less rushed, a time to rest, restore and enjoy. The promise of summer was even shown in the sky.

August started with a visit to one of our local country parks, to hear a tribute band and have a picnic. It's one of those things we always said we would do and never have. In the year where I'm learning how to kick back, and spend some time doing things that don't always involve responsibility it was the year to finally get organised and go. The sky was grey, everyone else arrived with picnic tables and chairs, we had a rug and a basket. It rained. But on a Friday night we stood and danced in a field to ABBA with a group of strangers of all ages, who didn't care about anything, but just enjoying the moment. At the end fireworks lit the sky, we stood and watched. Time stopped, and then in a second picnics were gathered and the crowds dispersed. For a few hours I was outside my usual comfort zone, and it was good.

No summer is complete without a beach, and we are fortunate to have one near-by. The sky at night was beautiful, a true place to forget, to stop and look at the sky.

Followed by beach BBQ's.....

One of the things I most love about August is the time to do those special things. Ellie still appreciates doing things with her Mum, I know I'm on borrowed time, so trying to grasp every moment. Last week we went to Buckingham Palace, and did all things royal. We got excited at getting a gold bag that said on it 'Buckingham Palace' getting tissue paper with gold crowns on and wandering round the Queens garden thinking who else had walked where we were. As a girl believing in royal heritage it was fab.

There was also a twinge of sadness- my Mum would have absolutely loved it. But last week it was about building memories between the next generation of mother and daughter.

So two weeks to go before it all starts again......and in between all the lovely things we've done I'm still looking for that promise at the end of a rainbow of balance, of how to spend time of living in freedom.

I've bought some books, got planned in time by a beach, and the promise of sunshine. I'm hopeful.


Thursday, 15 August 2013

thankful thursday

today i am thankful for sunlight. for the start of this week being a sunshine and showers day, a day spent dodging the rain and looking for rainbows, surely there must be one around here somewhere? the ensuing laughter when finally it was sighted - rather than letting me jump out of her car to take a picture my friend insisted she would turn the car around and chase it - by the time she had done so, it had gone - "i've been waiting for that all day" i said over both of our giggles. for a lunch hour spent on a sunny deck and overcast days turning into blue skied early evenings. for an impromptu one on one dinner with my oldest niece tonight, for conversation about holidays, grandparents and how she has mastered handstands and flips underwater but how her cartwheel was an "epic fail", for the smile of the waitress as she started placing her order with a "please may i have"  and at the realisation that she is growing up quickly, a thankfulness at being taken along for part of the ride.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Thursday, 8 August 2013

thankful thursday

this week i am thankful for the summer, the sunshine that warms and tints my skin - glow. for a reduced schedule not just for myself but for others - it brings rest and allows me to not always be so in touch - virtually or actually. for new phone apps that allow me to chart the route to the house of a good friend who has just moved areas, for the sense of direction i possess when said app was rendered useless when the battery ran flat. for the new house i visited in the middle of the countryside being directly opposite a farm in whose shop i found six beetroot larger than my hand held in a fist - for fifty pence. for finding a recipe that uses not just the beetroot but the abundance of thyme growing in my garden. for friendship that celebrated my birthday late by way of open air theatre in a stately homes grounds. for being in england where even in this lovely summer the rain fell on the proceedings - but only in the interval. for a goddaughter who brought sunshine to a hectic work day when she called to thank me for her birthday gifts (i knew the sound of music would be a hit). for nieces and nephews who shout my name and run towards me with arms outstretched wide when i haven't seen them for a week. for family that not only like each other but love and trust each other too, they are the keepers of old memories and creators of new.