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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Reflection Part 2

So, last post here we go.

Firstly, I'd like to say how strange it feels to know that we won't be on this space again. It makes you feel that somehow what you write is even more important, regardless of how many people will read it.

This blog started as a place for us to record 'What are days for'  based on Philip Larkins poem, and wanting to look and find a bit more meaning in each day. It was about noticing the small stuff, the gifts in the day, which if you weren't careful you could just miss as each hour flew by with the never ending lists.

When I read back now over some of the posts it's served as a really good record- a trip to Thailand, moving house,  family weddings and kids growing up. But it's actually some of the smaller things along the way that it's so good to look back on, times with friends that would have been forgotten, the sunrise early one morning, making cakes and Christmas lights.

I spoke last night about some of the stuff I'd learnt whilst blogging, and there is a couple of things I'd like to add. Firstly, it is so true, you never know what is going to come along next. Whilst some of the stuff is predictable life can still surprise you, and in a good way. I would never have believed in 2011 I'd run a half marathon, in 2014 I did. I've learnt to never just expect that each year will be the same, and it's so good to know that within that God is with me whatever.

Secondly though I haven't posted as frequently as Em on here to have a space to reflect has been so good- I love words, to use them outside of  work email again has been so good.

However, the best bit of the blog has been friendship. Em and I have been friends longer than both of us would care to admit (being women of a certain age) and we've been there for each other through some really difficult times.
But to share this together has been so special- she's encouraged me on, though this space we have laughed, learnt to 'stand tall' together  and I am constantly in awe of her ability with a camera.

To finish of the blog I looked through all the photos I had, and discovered that I hardly had any pictures of Em (or none that she'd forgive me for) because you see she is always behind the lens rather than in front of it.

So guess what- I'm posting a selfie that she took, where we both got soaking wet, but it was fun, and say thank you Em for sharing this with me, it has been a gift in my day.


fifteen things i've learnt during our time at 'what are days for'

today is officially the day we finish writing in this space. 

yeah, i know there's part of me that is sad about that too. i've been coming to this online space for four years now to share my life with you. first and foremost i would like to thank you for reading and continuing to come back. but before we close the curtain on these last four years together i thought i would look back and note down what i have learnt while writing at 'what are days are for'.

1. try even when you think you can't do it. this blog came into existence because i told jane i wanted to start a blog but didn't want to do it alone, i wanted to share it with someone, but who? she suggested maybe she could fill the opening. we forged ahead with no experience, neither of us writers nor proficient in technical know how. it was a big learning curve and though sometimes frustrating it was exciting.

2. always remember why you started. we called this space 'what are days for' after a philip larkin poem. jane had bought me a copy of one day by david nicholls and the first chapter is prefaced by larkin's poem 'days'

what are days for?
days are where we live
they come, they wake us
time and time over.
they are to be happy in:
where can we live but days?

we didn't realise when we named it but we inadvertently created a manifesto for our blog. this was the space where we told the story of our days; the big life experiences and the small "here's the buttercup that is growing in my lawn" days. if ever we forgot what we were doing here, our back story provided the answer for us.

3. write because you want to. if you write because you feel you should i guarantee you will start resenting this space you have created and quickly become bored and lose heart. write about anything, no matter how small, even if it's just images and three small words, slowly you will find your feet.

4. be honest. if it's a down day say. if you've won the biggest prize tell everyone.

5. embrace your own creativity. give yourself permission to dream and make space to think, to learn, to organise. seek out time alone with your thoughts, even it it's just a few minutes on the daily commute. realise that those five minutes spent dreaming can inform your whole day - regardless that i have spent the day running my companies tax year end and listening to the wind howl round my office - those five minutes this morning provided inspiration in my thought processes to write this for you tonight.

6. do all the above and add a pinch of discipline. what? i know, a space you have created to be creative within surely doesn't require discipline? do it for four years and then tell me you disagree. to write at all is discipline. if you dream of creating anything some kind of discipline has to be added to the mix regardless of if you want to soar into the sky or fly under the radar.

7. stretch yourself. don't be afraid to challenge yourself with a project. i took on writing for 31 days last october, i can honestly say it was the most planning i had ever done whilst writing in this space and through doing it i gained an insight into how people must have to work who make money at blogging. i have a new found respect for such souls.

8. listen to peoples opinions about your space. but remember what brene brown says - if they are not in the arena with you, putting themselves out there too - their words do not hold the same gravitas. do not allow negativity to stunt your creative growth.

9. find community and link up. read other blogs, make connections with their authors. subscribe to your favourites and don't be afraid to ping an email back to their inbox if something they have written has touched or inspired you. some day someone will do it to you and you will realise how exciting yet fulfilling it is.

10. gratefulness changes attitudes. mainly yours.

11. schedule breaks. sometimes taking time out reminds you exactly why you are writing and enables you to miss it when you don't.

12. expect the unexpected. the biggest surprise to come from this space was to make friends with and then meet a fellow blogger, who at the time was based in the usa, in real life. we not only communicate every week through the sabbath society she started but she now lives in england.

13. a sense of humour always wins out. try to maintain it. 

14. notice the little things in life. these usually turn out to be the biggest indicators of your passions. when you find them, embrace them.

15. don't assume someone (or everyone) is doing it better than you. that's just the little voice in your head talking. were they alongside you taking the picture at exactly the same time? have they been living a life parallel to yours and you've just not known it? no. your point of view is just that - your perspective - not anyone else's. share it. 

i've loved sharing this space with jane, loved how we have provided different perspectives on a life lived. our friendship formed as teenagers was already strong but through this space we have increased our contact, shared our best part of the week together with you each week, worked on photo projects to illustrate what our days are for and most importantly for me; my friendship with jane has gone from being in the pool of best friends to being my best friend. 

i came to this space not knowing how it would work out and i now realise, with very little expectation. what it has given me is a gift i didn't know i was looking for, let alone needed. it has given me the gift of expression. i have grown in confidence with my ability to not only take pictures but to write too - never mind that i get hung up about how i write as i talk. i try to remember that's just the voice in my head talking (see #15) and share my perspective anyway.

we are hanging up our hats here each for our own reasons. for me i am ready to step out on my own two feet. i am currently working on my own online space. a space where my hope is that my images and words will dance freely. the technological learning curve is even steeper now than when we started here four years ago so my dream is unfolding one page at a time. i'd love to have you along for the journey. if you would like to know where i land then join with our loyal subscribers and add your contact details to our subscription box, confident in the knowledge we will never share your details.

thank you for reading along with us over the last four years. i will always be grateful to jane for suggesting we do this together and eternally grateful that on this road i have discovered my creative ability again, may i never let it go.


linking with emily freeman at chatting at the sky one last time

Monday, 30 March 2015

Reflection Part 1

So, as we are officially now into the last two days of posting on this blog, I thought it was time for a bit of reflection.
Looking back on the blog there have been lots of good memories, things that looking back now really make me smile.
However, if you have read more than a few of my posts you will frequently get to hear me talking about not enough time, too much to do, finding it hard balancing work and home life etc etc etc...

It's funny but when you look back over writing over a number of years its easier to trace the patterns, and being busy, or too busy is certainly one of my patterns. Over the last two years like Em I have really tried hard to rest more, and have a true 'Sabbath' on a Sunday. This time has become very important, and though I've not managed it all the time I definitely have learnt to rest more, and this has now become a treasured time in the week where the pace definitely slows.
But I've also learnt that my naturally personality is to take on more, and that I'm not very good at just stopping. That's a challenge to me to learn to live in a different way, and learn to only spend time on the things that matter most, to think carefully before I just decide to go and take on something else.

And that's the second learning thing that's definitely happened over this blog. As a woman I seemed to have been born with innate sense of guilt, add to that the guilt I pile on myself for being a working mum, and the damage I imagine I'm doing to my kids that gets even worse. I've talked with Em about this many times, and she has rightly challenged me on this guilt.
Since Christmas I've been working longer hours, which guess what- it makes me feel even more guilty. However, I made a decision that rather than asking the kids all the time if there were problems because I was working more, I'd accept the current work, and be normal at home, rather than adding my guilt to them. And do you know what? The house hasn't fallen apart, and there have been no complaints from my two lovely children about me working....by me not making it an issue it's been better.
So today, I couldn't help smiling when I open my paper to be told that the thing that caused the most damage to teenagers was not mothers working, but mothers passing on anxiety and feeling guilty....oh what a learning curve.

So reflection part one for me is to not let my days be ruled by guilt, lists, always stressing because I've not enough time, and accept me for who I am, and focus on those important people.


james corden on the late late show, seen it?

monday. lets laugh in it's face.


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Saturday, 28 March 2015

collective wisdom of humanity

today for the first time i watched dave isay's ted talk. this month he has been awarded the ted prize and his wish is to "spark a global movement to record and preserve meaningful conversations with one another that results in an ever growing digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity." through his non profit organisation storycorps he has released an app that gives you pointers to ask questions of the person whose story you most want to hear.  the app then allows you to record the interview and not only save it but should you so desire you can upload it to them and they will archive it at the library of congress. for the first time the app allows storycorps to have reach outside of the states. i was inspired to download it, i hope you will too. i know who i want to interview, do you? 


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Friday, 27 March 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The right shoes

I hate buying shoes, see I'm much more of a boots girl, or flip flops in summer. However, I have to wear grown up shoes for work. My current shoes are well past their sell by date, with heels now broken.
Yesterday I finally managed to go out and buy some new ones.

Today I wore them to London for a big meeting where you have to look the part. And do you know what I learnt? A new pair of shoes can help you walk tall:)



a day of ticking items off the to do list culminating in a long overdue catch up with a old friend. a good day.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

the moon and the stars

there aren't many everyday problems that can't be forgotten by two hours of communal singing.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

both sides now

my compos mentis day began with an email exchange with jane. i'd mailed her last night telling her i was flummoxed when her favourite song ever didn't appear on my phone as the killers mr brightside but as diversity and inclusion love has no labels. a glitch i discovered was rectified on my iphone when i reloaded the page (fyi). low and behold there was an image of mr brandon flowers before me confirming my first thought. i fired off an email exclaiming my relief. jane's retort this morning was to ask what my favourite song ever was. i had no answer. i love music and listen to an eclectic mix, some of which i have shared here but my favourites change through decades and seasons. an answer which when received, jane expressed relief as that was what she had suspected.

it's bugged me today. 

it's been a busy work day with not much room for thinking about favourite songs ever but coming home and putting my hands in the washing up bowl, the monotony of the task let my mind wander.  i thought about the last album i had bought. the album is by joni mitchell and is called both sides now; it's the title track i bought the record for. the reason i bought it? it's a beautifully orchestrated updated version of the well known song. and it reminded me of one of the things i love about music; how youth can have it's own arrogant attitude and how age and experience can add gravitas. both sides now was written in 1969; the year i was born. i can't remember when i discovered it but certainly more than a decade later. the second version was released in 2000 over 30 years of experience can be heard in her second vocal. boy, is it powerful. those who have ever watched love actually with me will know that without fail i always tear up when this song accompanies emma thompson's character karen in the scene where she realises the jewellery she thought her husband had bought for her for christmas had obviously been given to someone else.

have a listen for yourself. 

both sides now 1970

both side now 2000

i think my favourite songs will always change but as ricky wilson on the voice uk says - a vocal has to make him feel something if he is going to engage with it. i couldn't agree more. to me, this song is a perfect example.


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Monday, 23 March 2015

Monday evening

Tonight Ellie and I were having fun with boxes....I'm playing a version of Deal or no Deal with the youth group on Thursday. Tonight we started the preparation.

Then my favourite radio show started.. and first track was my favourite song of all time....that has to be a gift on a Monday evening.



you're right they should. 

not sure they would be inspired by the spelling though.

(the person who initially got held back in her english class due to her spelling ... )

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Saturday friendships

Milla and I decided that pouts and selfies are the best thing to do after special chocolate biscuits!

Ellie (On behalf of Jane)

saturday fun

a day of sunshine with a minus wind chill factor. two nephews helping in the garden; sweeping leaves, composting and mowing the lawn. doors flung open, everyone running in and out, football, frisbee, running, postman pat movie, laughter and tears as they were collected. a fun saturday.


Friday, 20 March 2015

international day of happiness

i woke ahead of my alarm this morning, that doesn't usually happen. what almost never happens is i switch the alarm off and start the day early. this morning i did. god bless an early night. and god bless an iphone camera. we watched as the morning light turned dark and then to our surprise the clouds parted just enough for us to see a crescent shape blinking in front of our eyes when we looked away. jostling each other for position we snapped at will surprised to see some kind of image emerge on our camera phones. my first solar eclipse. something to be happy about on international day of happiness.


Thursday, 19 March 2015


for the first time this year i threw my coat on the passenger seat. during an impromptu outdoor meeting, i stopped mid conversation and commented how warm the sunshine was on the back of my neck. we both smiled and turned to face the heat source.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A trip to Cambridge

Today I went to Cambridge to look at new graduation robes- so interesting... this is one of the new designs for another University.



stuck in traffic on the way home i watched the sun go down, turning into an orange fireball as it went.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuesday night chores

Washing.....it doesn't get more exciting than this on a Tuesday evening....



the moment your car is stopped in its tracks at the pedestrian crossing by the lady putting her weight behind a fully laden trolly who turns, smile beaming and mouths "thank you". the moment you notice the beautiful tulips left over in the store from mothers day really are reduced to £2.00. the moment you realise you might just have caught a shot good enough to illustrate the excitement your three year old nephew experiences at making big bubbles all by himself. the moment you realise he actually prefers pouring out the fairy liquid mixture and jumping in the green and white puddle in his wellies. the moment your mum tells you to go home because "you look awful" and you turn round and tell her "if you think this is awful, you should have seen me last week" and you both laugh.


Saturday, 14 March 2015


the only picture i took all day. my first time out in three days boy, it was busy. i'm happy to be back on my sofa.


Saturday sunset

A quiet day after a busy week. Sitting from the sofa the sunset caught my eye.
Happy weekend everyone.


Friday, 13 March 2015

get well soon

a friend dropped off flowers to "cheer me up" once i'd dried my eyes; they did.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

From small bulbs

I was given a bulb kit for Christmas. Usually planting bulbs goes on my good intention list and never gets done. This year I made time and actually took the bulb out of the box and planted it. I cannot quite believe what it's grown into. It was worth waiting nearly three months for.



what is it about food tasting so much better when someone else cooks it? especially when you are ill.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

First sighting

Driving home from work today I had to pull over- as I spotted for the first time this year early spring blossom. Winter is definitely nearly over.....


inside out

you know the thing that sometimes happens when you can't shake the winter lurgy? when it keeps coming back every couple of weeks or so? yes, that would be me today. sat at my desk, aching, watching the minutes tick by (and wishing they would go faster) i watched this. for a minute i stopped coughing and got lost in imagination land. so good i watched it twice.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

sesame street

tuesday has been brought to me by various hues of the colours blue and yellow.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Follow on

So my lovely blog followers (and sorry Emma and Jennifer for being a bore) this is a follow on from my post last week -today Simon Singh tweeted Jake's maths writing!! Even more exciting there have been replies. Excitement levels in our house=fever pitch. What a Monday!


the end of the day

dinner tonight necessitated not one but two extra trips to the supermarket. the first time i picked up flowers for a much needed shot of colour. the second time a walk round to the corner shop rewarded me with the light changing as the sun went down. the life enhancing beauty of nature.


Saturday, 7 March 2015


today i spent time with an old friend possibly for the last time in this beautiful place. i'm excited for the future; for all of us. 


Sunny Saturday

For the first time this year I sat in the garden this afternoon, feet up, newspapers by the side and just relaxed in the warm spring sunshine. It doesn't get better than that for a Saturday.


Friday, 6 March 2015


escaping from the office at lunchtime i walk into the blinding sunshine, driving to grab a sandwich the heat through the windows warms my skin. opening the car door i turn my face towards the sunshine; I'm blown backwards by the wind. i couldn't believe an ice cream van was parked outside the supermarket; way too early for that.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Best bit of the day

Watching the English Sewing Bee- mum and daughter time, perfect for a Thursday.






these are my first daffodils of the season. i bought them last friday. it took some of them until tuesday to even think about opening. others are only just thinking about it today.


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A Stretched Wednesday

Today I've worked too many hours, thrown the cheese slice in the bin (later found by my half who is convinced I'm losing it) and eaten too much unhealthy food (i.e. chocolate and crisps).

But I have watched this:



living a beatles song

today was one of those days where each hard thing i had to do in the day panned out to be exactly that; hard. sorting through papers at home i found these gems tonight, they reminded me no matter how hard your day there is always something to be grateful for. some days it takes me longer to remember that than others.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Talk of Tuesday

Today has been a big day in my household. I don't often talk much about my kids here, but seeing as we are in count down to close off on the blog here goes.
My son is really into maths. By that I'm talking huge into maths, he is 17, and will sit and do equations for fun, reads maths books in his spare time, and I'm now used to pretending to understand when he talks maths.
Today his hero came to school, he met him and he signed his book.

So tonight the talk in our house has been Simon Singh, the excitement palpable. Even more so because he has asked to see something that my son has written, so tonight we've created a blog. If you fancy a look here you go: www.goodtobeageek.blogspot.co.uk
It's been the talk of Tuesday.


will i never learn?

for the second day running i burnt my tongue on the first mouthful of soup at lunchtime.


Monday, 2 March 2015


morning; curtains drawn, hail on the rooftops. mid morning; snow flurries, turned to rain. rush hour; sunshine shone through. finally home; the view from the back garden.


Monday night messiness

Sometimes 'what are days for' is about general keeping the house going, it is not particularly glamorous, but Monday night is about clearing up the mess. Left over tea plates merge with tea preparations, merge with left out school work, and if you look closely you can find the jam left over from breakfast.
Tonight is about clearing up, making the kitchen not looking like a bomb site, and putting on washing. But do you know what? That's ok. Because part of my role is about the mundane, and knowing that in a few years when the nearly grown up people have left home I will long for these days back.
Let the clearing up commence.


Sunday, 1 March 2015


hello friends

you will have noticed we have been quiet in this space for the last couple of months. after four years of sharing our lives with you, we have decided the time has come to draw to a close our what are days for collaboration.  we would like to share our daily moments with you for one last month in celebration and hope you will join us as we snapshot our way through 'till months end.

Emma and Jane

the weekend has mainly been spent with this pair. park action, picnic, school fair, shrek, four seasons in two days, fun.