Sunday, 22 January 2017


It's been a bit frosty out!

Been slightly blown away by some family discoveries this week – and weird coincidences.... Let’s start with the Peaky Blinders. For those of you that follow, you’ll know this is a drama series following the semi real adventures of a gang in Birmingham, set after WW1. I love a good period drama and one with the added bonus of gorgeous vintage fashion, slightly edgy stories and the exceptionally handsome Cillian Murphy – well! I did miss the series when it first broadcast but DD treated herself to NetFlix and so endless TV is now a click away. We are most of the way through Season Two and there are regular flashbacks to the main characters experiences in WW1, along with associated effects of PTSD. They were tunnellers, an occupation which involving digging tunnels under enemy lines to plant explosives. Just look it up, the stories of their part in the war are truly unbelievable. I had only just had a conversation with a friend about how we can never really appreciate the conditions that any of those brave guys had to endure (all of them, not just tunnellers). We also wondered at the job the tunnel diggers had to do, and could you imagine having to do that. I hate enclosed spaces and would just be filled with fear at the thought of tunnels let alone explosives and fighting and the thought of breaking into an enemy trench accidentally!

Fast forward a week or so and I am sat at the computer working on my family tree research. I go back and forth to this as the mood takes me. I try to be organised but get distracted by random leads to follow... This particular evening I was following my paternal grandmothers line when up pops a William Redding, my 2x great uncle. He fought in the Boer War (a whole new piece of history that I shamefully know very little about) but then ended up joining the Royal Engineers 184th Mining Coy, He was a bloody tunneller in the First World War. From what I can make out he ended up near Arras when heavy German bombing caused massive damage and William was among the casualties. He was taken to Rouen hospital where he died from his injuries, aged 37, on June 8th 1916. He was buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, in France. 
This weekend we took a drive out to see his name on the Roll of Honour at the churchyard in Little Marlow, Bucks. His name also appears on the War Memorial at Flackwell Heath but my incompetence and lack of Wifi signal meant that we missed seeing this too. Next time..... 

Roll of Honour at Little Marlow Church

William Redding - remembered.

I would like to be able to visit his grave in France too – I don’t know whether any of his family at the time would have been able to make the trip but it seems to be a small thing we can do to pay respects to one of those brave men that never came home. 
Lest We Forget x

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dry January (and a bit of December)

Well, there goes the first week of 2017. It’s been an interesting one! I didn’t make any resolutions but I did set a few intentions instead. Not sure if intentions sound less pressured than resolutions but it works for me.... I have all the usual suspects covered. Eat more healthily, do more exercise, meditate regularly, make time for self practice of Reiki, have fun etc.

However, one intention has been more accidental and this one has given me lots of things to think about this week. I spent a very enjoyable evening with my beautiful friend Mrs S just before New Year. We chatted, we drank, we ate good food and drank some more. We giggled (and drank) and listened to great music. Did I mention the drink? I actually rarely drink to excess (despite what others might tell you!) but this one was a doozy. I suffered all the next day, and the day after that. Now, at no point did I consciously decide to give up alcohol but after a few days I did feel a bit better, then a lot better and my mind started suggesting “Oo, why don’t we try Dry January? That might be fun! Bet we can’t do it!” Around this time, coincidentally, two inspirational ladies that I follow online posted items around alcohol and giving up. To be fair both Rae and Sas have totally given up and I am not even suggesting that at the moment. Mine is more about let’s see how this goes. Bearing in mind I have both my birthday and a trip to Gran Canaria with a friend planned this month it could be a bigger challenge than I thought.

But, the positives so far have been great – and even DH has noticed. He did sheepishly mention that he thought I was drinking a bit too much. Not lots, but most nights I had a drink or two to ‘unwind’. Now I am discovering the joy of the evening cuppa and all manner of sparkling juices! Hmmm, if only I can get to grips with my salt and vinegar crisp habit too :)

Hope you are finding success with any resolutions or intentions that you have set for 2017 – would love to hear what they are!

Friday, 30 December 2016

And finally - Happy New Year!

Instalment 3 Sept – Dec

Well here’s to the final part of my highlights of 2016. I was very heartened by the messages I received after yesterdays post, mental health is something that clearly touches lots of people and this makes it so important to get it out there!

So – DS#2 finished his training at Harrogate and applied to move to Bovington for Phase 2, working with tanks. We were thrilled when his change was accepted and very excited to join him for a Family Day on the camp once he had settled in. It was packed with things to see and do, including a spectacular display by some of the troops and vehicles. We even got to climb on and into some of them (the vehicles, not the troops - that would just be weird!) The camp is right on the south coast and so after the Family Day we were able to spend a little bit of time enjoying the scenery.

Tanks and people stood on tanks.

The boy and a Challenger 2

The boy in a Challenger 2

My friend Kathy and I travelled into London in October to visit the Om Yoga Show again. We did this last year and had an inspirational and free sample rich day. There were less free samples this year but we both came away feeling motivated. I have booked to go on a yoga retreat to India next year and have been trying hard to keep up my practice. It is still my little oasis of calm in the week.

There were some people doing yoga behind us!

The big event for the family during this time was a new addition! DH sent me a very cute puppy picture via email at work – no message, just the picture. To cut a long story short, a couple of weeks later we were heading home with a very lovely bundle of fur and legs in the back of our car. The new pup was christened Sirius Black (a mix of Harry Potter and the dog star) and is already a very special member of the family! Part whippet, part collie, part tornado, he is into everything and everywhere.

What a cutie!

November saw me off on a retreat. Led by the very wonderful Sas Petherick, Sacred Rascals was held in a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds. I arrived not knowing anybody, not sure what to expect, full of fear and so totally feeling it was the right thing to do. Well, the weekend was the most wonderful experience. The group of women who attended were the loveliest, most supportive and welcoming bunch ever. We were spoilt with glorious food, space to rest, read and explore, did some magical self discovery and I even spoke out loud! Some of us have stayed in touch since – if any of you are reading this then thank you xxx

Our circle - just magical!

We got to live here for the weekend :)

There was a spiral in the gardens and I found this heart right in the middle.

December has been a bit of a crazy time. I have fitted in some craft fairs and Jane and I had a jaunt to the seaside! One of our new things was to try dancing and so, since around Easter we have been doing a Lindy Hop class with the lovely Alan and Lisa. It has been a total hoot and we have loved it. We decided to sign up for a dance weekend away and so the weekend before Christmas saw us heading down to Torquay. Once there we decided that although the bands were good and there was some fantastic dancing to watch, we were probably neither good enough nor brave enough to join in. This wasn’t a problem as we decided to eat, drink and shop instead. Thus we had a most wonderful relaxing weekend and came back feeling ready to take on Christmas and all that good stuff.

I made acorns for the craft fair

Torquay sunset

And so – I have enjoyed a very quiet Christmas with my family. I have caught up with friends, caught up with some things I wanted to do and have given some thought to the coming year. It has been good to just have time to reflect and regroup. However you are spending the New Year, I wish you well and hope that 2017 is sparkly and wonderful!

Happy New Year to you all - see you in 2017!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Instalment 2

Instalment 2 – May to August

Well this may be the toughest of the update blogs to write..... but let’s start with some good stuff! Jane and I continued our ‘new things’ pact with a spa day in Oxford. All very girlie and relaxing. She also persuaded me to try Go Karting. This was not such a success unless you count my impeccable driving manners “please, do go past, I am merely holding you up with my slow speed” “no, no, after you, I insist!” I was quite frankly shit (but very polite!)

DH and I journeyed down south again for the Dig For Victory Show. Another awesome day of vintage fun. I treated myself to a proper hairdo from the lovely ladies at Heartfelt Vintage from Bristol. I came away feeling very beautiful.

My hairdo!

An arty shot of iconic planes or a shit out of focus one - you decide!

A demonstration of wartime cookery.

Now the end of June saw the whole Brexit thing but this all kind of passed us by. I am not sure if I have mentioned on here or not but DH suffers from mental health issues, something which affects all aspects of our lives. Things came to a head for him one evening and he took an overdose. I found him in our garden, hypothermic and unconscious. I still don’t really know what to say about the whole thing – we got to see the best and worst of the NHS system and found some amazing support from friends and family.  I did ask DH if I could mention this on my blog and he was keen that anything that got people to talk about mental health had to be a good thing.

Anyway – from lows to highs. In August DS#2 had his graduation parade from his Phase 1 army training in Harrogate. We took the opportunity to combine it with a visit to York and a couple of nights away. The day of the parade was very wet and windy. My carefully chosen outfit was hidden under a very fetching plastic poncho. I also had to hold my hat on, something the poor lads couldn’t do on the parade ground. This resulted in lots of hats being whipped off and blown away and having to be retrieved by the RSM’s.  It made for great entertainment and huge cheers from the crowds.                 
I can’t explain how proud I was of DS#2 on that day. He looked so handsome, so grown up and had gone through so much to get where he was. I was just bursting inside.. and crying a bit... and determined that he would have his photo taken. A lot. He’s not keen on the whole photograph taking thing!          

It's a bit wet!

I can see him!!!

Proud Mum moment and DS#2 suffering yet another photograph

Jane and I continued our adventures with a go at punting on the Thames at Oxford. The guy at the hire place looked quite worried and suggested, several times, that perhaps we would be safer in a row boat. But no, punting had been chosen and punting was going to be done. Jane turned out to be very good and I couldn’t get the sodding pole out of the mud. So technically she punted and I sat in the punt and cheered her on.  We finished the adventure with the worlds biggest picnic on the banks of the river which sounds lovely but involved fighting off ducks and wasps and trying to find somewhere to sit that wasn’t covered in bird poo.

Anyway, enough for today. Do look out for instalment 3 where we get up close to tanks, the family has a new addition and I 'find' myself  - deep and meaningful stuff!                                                                                                  

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 and all that....

Feeling inspired and ready to get back on the blogging train so thought I would wait until the tail end of 2016 and blast you all with a whistle-stop tour of my year (not all in one go you will be glad to see!)
So here goes with instalment 1, Jan to April – we all know that 2016 has been a pretty crap year for lots of people and for lots of reasons. This has been no different for me either, it has seen some bloody damn horrible lows but it has made me incredibly grateful for the bright spots and good things that happened too.

My friend Jane and I came up with a plan back in 2015 to do new thing each month – this hasn’t always happened, sometimes life gets in the way, but we have done some very cool things throughout the year. We went to the opera to see La Boheme in Feb, lowered the average audience age by a good 40 years and felt somewhat out of place with all the real cultured people. To my shame I didn’t have clue what was going on but we stayed til the end and I only fell asleep once! I do remember feeling slightly confused by the gloves worn by Mimi in her (spoiler alert!) death scene. They looked like giant pork chops which somewhat detracted from the feel of the moment and I am sure this is not what the costume designer had in mind.....

I visited my Dad and stepmother in Denmark with DD in Feb too. This was a short trip but we packed lots in. We visited the Hans Christian Anderson museum, which includes the house where he was born. DD enjoyed this as she loves HCA stories. Highlight was her trying to describe a storyline she vaguely remembered to the confused lady in the shop who loved a challenge and wasn’t going to give up! Thank goodness the Danes have a better grasp of English than we do of Danish – we got there in the end, it was ‘Big Claus and Little Claus’. We also went to see the Viking ship burial at Ladby. This is the only ship burial where the ship is still in the mound. The display is breathtaking and very atmospheric. We were lucky enough to be the only ones there when we went – lots of time to take in the mood of the place. They were also putting the finishing touches to a replica ship when we went. Totally life size and built using traditional methods, it was very impressive.  

Detail from the ship

All the skeletons of the horses are still there..

The replica - almost finished

I really valued the family time too – something that we don’t get enough of. I probably don’t tell them how much I miss them either.....

Other highlights of the first part of the year were music related. DS#1 had his first gig at a uni bar which we went along to. We got about 2 words from him while he chilled with friends but we were well impressed with his bass playing! 

Musical highlight 2 was also with DS#1 where I accompanied him to London to see Muse at the O2. Now I have to admit to having only a vague knowledge of Muse before buying the tickets but I was sent a playlist to better acquaint myself with some of their well known tunes. DS#1 and I spent a lovely day together exploring London and Greenwich in the rain. I ended up giving in and buying an umbrella, at which point the rain stopped! We walked along the river from Greenwich to the O2 in good time for the gig – it was a spectacular show although I had not researched enough before hand and didn’t realise the floaty balls were actually drones! This would have made a bit more sense of the show and I would have been a lot more astounded at the display. Oh well, my first resolution for 2017 shall be ‘research before you go!’

You don't want to know how long it took to get this picture with the 'Muse' in the right place! 

Drones - not beach balls

Bloody spectacular show

Please do check in again for instalment 2 where our intrepid heroine has the best and worst days of the year, has an amazing hair adventure and doesn’t get drowned!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Self Care Sunday #BEDN

Was inspired to finish this skein of yarn! 

I have spent this weekend feeling blessed! Got to spend some precious time with #1 son on his visit from uni. He didn't even bring washing home 😊 
I have spoken on the phone three times to #2 son up at AFC Harrogate, hearing all about his attempts at swimming and his new skills of rabbit skinning. 
I attended the Remembrance Service at our village war memorial. Sobering and very emotional for me especially this year. 

One of the giant wall art pieces at Harrogate. 

And this afternoon I spent some time with a lovely friend at a spinning and weaving workshop. Picked up some tips, refined my technique and loved being creative in such good company. 
It's been a weekend of counting my blessings and being thankful. 
How have you spent your weekend? 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Unusual Hobbies - #BEDN Day Seven

Great start to the Blogging Challenge – I have missed two days already! In fairness I have had a busy couple of days and now #1 son has come to visit from University so I am enjoying his company for a few precious hours!

I am sad that I missed the ‘Firework’ prompt. I thought long and hard about how I had no interesting (read ‘in focus’) firework pictures. Instead I had a post all planned out about Guy Fawkes and how pictures of his pre and post torture signatures had inspired my rather gruesome interest in mediaeval torture instruments. Now, don’t get me wrong – I wasn't interested in a weird way, more a horrified fascination... I realise now I am digging a hole so maybe I should move on to a different prompt!

Before and After - Image from Google Images

Today’s is ‘Unusual Hobbies’ (which could include the above?) Hmm – I have lots of hobbies. In fact I drive my family to distraction by my short attention span when it comes to trying new things. In fairness I like to dabble and will, more often than not, come back to something when it once again takes my fancy. I did try asking them what they considered to be my most unusual hobby and these were the answers I got:

Who could not love a face like this? Most of my family apparently...

  • ·         Taxidermy – I have quite a collection and have had a go at a few things myself. I also have a few specimens in the freezer which is always good for a laugh when my daughter is trying to find the fish fingers! (joke) 
  • ·         Spinning wool – I have been trying to teach myself to spin yarn on a wheel. I'm not great but it’s quite therapeutic. The problem is I am not very good at knitting.
  • ·         Collecting Ugly Cats – My Mum used to collect Crested China and had a beautiful display case full of it. I never quite got into it in the same way but did discover that there are a number of quite startling cats produced so I limited my collection to these lovely creatures. I have to keep them in my room though as no one else seems to appreciate their happy faces!
  • ·         Bee Keeping – possibly not that unusual but it is usually a talking point when people find out.


Well I guess this post will have either intrigued or scared people – I think I might be a bit worried to ask which!