Thursday, 25 February 2021

Upside Down


I love looking at the world from a different perspective, which has been just as well these past 12 months.

But now there is light at the end of the tunnel and I can't wait for June 21st for three reasons: it's World Yoga Day, my grand-daughter is due and according to one BoJo our topsy turvey lives can find some semblance of normality.

I am so happy I can't stop smiling.

Actually I was laughing at Frankie's antics but never let the truth stand in the way of a good story said my old newspaper editor.

I think he was joking!

Today the weather was beautiful so we took Frankie to the beach and discovered some new slacks.

We walked past the Asparagus Fields - Formby Asparagus is quite a delicacy

They have been growing asparagus here since Roman times according to the National Trust

Formby Asparagus was exported around the world and it is rumoured that it was served to the first class diners on the Titanic.

But as the asparagus isn't ready until May and the Titanic sank in April I will leave you to make your own mind up on that one.

Frankie braved a dip in the sea and we re-booked our three day break in Windermere for May 18th.

The future is bright, the future is orange.

Today I wore:

Orange Sweatshirt, Vest and Leggings by Sweaty Beetty

Trainers by Nike


Friday, 19 February 2021

Happy Birthday To Me


It's my birthday today.


How did that happen.

If you are into numerology 5 and 5 make 10.

This guitar I am pictured with was a gift from my birthday 10 years ago.

And guess what I got for my 10th birthday?

Yes, a guitar.

And you know what, I have never learned to play despite the best of intentions.

They do make great props though!

I share my special day with Helen Fielding, the author of Bridget Jones; Seal and Amy Tan.

Also Prince Andrew but lets not mention him.

I was born on the cusp of Pisces and Aquarius but when I was a reporter at The Liverpool Echo I interviewed an astrologist who took  my date and time of birth and said I was definitely Pisces.

Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac  and they are considered to be kind souls who are creative and empathetic.

Apparently they have hobbies such as painting and writing!!!!!

I certainly agree that I am not bound by logic (as my whole family will tell you) and am definitely open to new ideas.

But numerology and astrology aside - both new ideas to me - it's been a fabulous day.

Briony and her fiance came round to drop off my present and they even brought Bud for a cuddle.

They got me this fabulous PJ and Robe set.

Sam, Sophie and the bump dropped off a plant and a Sweaty Betty voucher and friends came round for socially distanced doorstep chats to drop off lovely gifts.

I was thoroughly spoiled.

Mum who is in our bubble came round in the evening when my other two sons who live at home were back from work and we had a lovely evening together.

The evening meal was my favourite takeaway - Indian - and a Vegetable Biryani washed down with lots of red wine.

Today's outfit was inspired by  Vix and her Wear. Sleep. Repeat . challenge as I wore this dress the last time I posted.

And it was also inspired by this photo.

Today I wore:

Boots - Clarks

Dress - New Look

Shirt - Top Shop

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The Joys of Lockdown Living


There is much to enjoy about Lockdown Living. *

Thanks to Lockdown Living I am re-discovering the joys of:

1. Dressing up again. Until lockdown I would spend entire days even weeks in yoga leggings. Today I took great pleasure in dressing up for a walk to the shops.

2. Embracing and noticing all the subtle and not so subtle changes in the weather. I have made the effort to get out everyday because there is no such thing as unsuitable weather, only unsuitable clothing.

3. Walking with friends outdoors seems to encourage more positive and healthy conversations instead of gossiping in coffee shops.

4. Smiling at strangers to connect. No need to get into awkward conversations. As Spike Milligan said: "Smiling is Contagious."

5. Teaching yoga from my front room with no wasted commuting time.

6. Writing. Lockdown brought me back to this blog. I rediscovered my love of writing and finally enrolled on a course to train to teach Writing for Wellbeing.

7. Reading. The only books I was reading prior to lockdown were yoga books. Since lockdown I have read at least two fiction books a month. Why did I stop?

8. Knitting. I have started to knit a blanket for my grand-daughter who is due in June.

9. Crocheting. I finally finished the Chakra Blanket I started three years ago.

10. Snail Mail. With the shops shut I have shopped on ebay, supporting small businesses whenever I can. I finally found someone I could send my broken fountain pen to and this master penmaker restored it to full working order. It may have taken three weeks but it was worth it. Another small business supported.

11. Writing with a fountain pen. See 10.

12. Selling clothes I no longer wear on ebay.

13. Planting seeds and watching them grow.

14. Sitting doing nothing with a warm puppy snoozing on my lap.

15. Walking to the shops. Buying only what I can carry back including daffodils.

Today I wore:
Boots - Next
Dress - New Look
Tank - Oasis
Belt - TK Maxx

* I am acutely aware that lockdown has been terrible for many people.

 I know I am one of the lucky ones, I have only lost thousands of pounds from lost work, cancelled retreats and workshops.

I miss spending time with my family and friends.

However, I am a glass half full person and have chosen to focus on the positive things and not the negative ones

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Brimful of Asha


How are you doing?

It's a strange time isn't it?

To navigate the lockdown week I try and make weekends a little special.

Working for myself I could spread the work into the weekend but I don't.

Weekdays are for work.

Weekends are for chilling.

I start Saturday mornings by stripping the bed, singing to the radio and reading as long as I want while the sheets are in the washing machine.

When I turned on the radio this morning the first song I heard was Brimful of Asha.

It took me back to a long car journey in the summer of 2000 when we took our then four month old with his three siblings to see family in Swansea.

It was a very stop, start journey as you can imagine with four children under eight.

Are we there yet?

Playing on repeat was a cassette tape (remember them?), Now That's What I Call Music 39, which included: Never Ever by All Saints; Angels by Robbie Williams; Perfect Day by David Bowie, Lou Reed & more and Brimful of Asha.

Brimful of Asha by Cornershop was the one that everyone loved to sing along to.
If you haven't heard it, the song is about the importance of the Bollywood music industry and is multi-layered with meaning as it references two famous sisters  - Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar and celebrates Indian culture.
However,  asha also means hope and Bollywood movies are seen as a fantasy of a better way of life.
The idea that the movies offer something lovely and comfortable is summed up in the refrain:
"Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow," which our kids used to love singing at the tops of their voices especially as Ben was breastfeeding at the time!

The song did indeed remind me of better times, last summer in fact when my children were last all together with us to celebrate Briony's 23rd birthday.

Coincidentally, it was when I last wore this top - honestly, I was already dressed when the song came on the radio!

Here's to the next time we can all be together again.

Until then I will just makes the best of it, cuddle Frankie and sing along to Brimful of Asha reminding myself how lucky I am to have such happy memories.

Today I wore:
Boots - Marks and Spencer
Leggings - Next
Jumper - Miss Selfridge
Top - Silk Fred

Thursday, 11 February 2021

The Long and Winding Road


The morning of February 11th 1989 was very similar to Feb 11th 2021.

It was icy cold, sunny with blue skies.

It was my wedding day.

I was 22 and my groom was 23.

Three of our four children are now older than we were.

The weather changed as I entered the church, the skies darkened and the rains fell.... hard we had to have all our photos inside the church and the venue.

If I was more literary I would probably talk about pathetic fallacy but I'm not, I'm more of a hack.

When I was a young reporter on The Ormskirk Advertiser I was always sent out on the Golden Wedding features.

I would return to the smoky office and  the rest of the newsroom would play Golden Wedding Bingo.

"It hasn't always been easy." Tick.

"We've had our ups and downs." Tick.

"Never go to sleep on an argument. "Tick.

"You've got to take the rough with the smooth." Tick.

"In sickness and in health." Tick

"Give and take."

"We've got each other and that's all that matters." Bingo.

I would roll my eyes and join in the laughter hoping that a new reporter would be taken on soon so I could pass this job on to the new boy or girl.

I would look at the elderly couple in front of me and the young couple smiling back from the photo on the sideboard behind them and found it impossible to believe their protestations: "it seems like yesterday."

Yet it only seems like yesterday when we were at the bottom of Glanrafon Hill in Bangor and my husband proposed to me during our second year at uni.

It is a long, steep and winding road to get to the top of Glanrafon Hill.

We had our photo taken about a third of the way up four years ago when we went back for a visit.

As I look back on 32 years of married life and those wise words that I used to laugh at, I hope that I am only halfway up the hill.

Today we should have been in the Lake District enjoying an anniversary week away but today we are home babysitting our childrens' dogs.

Still, we have each other and that's all that matters!

Today I wore:

Boots - Next

Dress - Vintage from The Pre-Loved Attic.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Pearls Before Swine


I am wearing my late mother-in-law's pearls today.

I bought them for her when I was in Hong Kong.

When she died in 2012, her daughters gave them back to me.

And today on the farm, feeding the pigs, reminded me of that saying: "Cast no pearls before swine."

When I first got together with my husband, I think I was the swine in my mother-in-law's eyes.

I was never good enough for her beloved youngest son.

When my then fiance phoned his mum to say we had got engaged her reaction was: "you fool!"

She was a complicated woman and probably the most stylish woman I have ever known - I wrote about her here

We didn't speak for about 6 months until the week before our wedding.

After that we muddled along.

By the time I went to Hong Kong in September 2002 I had given her four grandchildren and she realized I wasn't going anywhere and so we called a silent truce.

The trip to Hong Kong was back in the day when I was a journalist and as I worked for The Liverpool Echo (part of the Mirror Group newspapers) we got some pretty good trips.

Hong Kong was one of the best.

We flew business class from Heathrow and stayed in the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

The trip was hosted jointly by the hotel group and the Hong Kong tourism board.

We had a great time being whisked off to all the tourist hotspots, treated to meals in the best restaurants, cocktails and manicures and the full works.

But the best part of the trip to me was the free time to wander through the streets and get lost in the lanes and the back streets where every corner had a temple.

The scent of jasmine, incense and the late summer heat was intoxicating.

I was the only newspaper journalist and the other members of the press pack included writers from travel magazines, womens' magazines and bridal magazines.

The trip was a huge success despite the night in the hotel's Captain's Bar when we were offered a large sum of money by a group of Australian businessmen who had mistaken us for some high class hookers.

I was flattered.

The fiery Irish reporter - not so much.

The look on the face of the hotel PR director when we told her in the  morning was a picture.

I loved buying presents for the rest of the family including these outfits for my youngest two.

But I couldn't find a gift that was good enough for my mother in law.

On the final day we were taken to the pearl market in Kowloon and I decided to buy her some pearls.

I knew she had some very expensive pearls and probably would  not be that impressed with the ones I bought for about £10 but I didn't want to leave her out.

Yet for the next 10 years until her death in 2012 she wore the pearls I bought her every time she came to dinner or went out with us.

I think that was her way of saying I wasn't that bad after all.

Today I wore:

Skirt by Warehouse from ebay

Jumper by J Crew from ebay

Boots - Hunter

Pearls - Hong Kong Pearl Market

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Death Of An Icon

One warm June morning in 2009 I was travelling to HMP Garth where I was writer in residence.

I had a rough outline of a lesson plan for my writing group that day but it was thrown out of the window when I turned on the car radio and heard the news Michael Jackson had died.

I didn't know Michael Jackson personally but his presence had been around for as long as I could remember.

It was the soundtrack to a 24 hour coach trip on our return from a French school trip. 'She's Out Of My Life' was playing on repeat as I snoozed on the seat stealing the odd glance at my current crush, Andrew Smith sleeping just a few feet away from me.

"Don't Stop Til You Get Enough " was the song that had everyone on the dancefloor at the school disco whose faces I can clearly see even though it has been 40 years since I last saw them.

"We are the World" reminds me of the  elation of staying up all night with my friends watching the Live Aid concert.

Despite his court battles and personal struggles his music remains deeply embedded in my consciousness.

After hearing the news of Michael Jackson's death I decided to abandon my lesson plan and create a new lesson called, Death of an Icon which proved to be the most popular writing session.

The pens kept rolling as personal stories were woven within the lives of the men and Biggie Smalls, Elvis and Roy Orbison.

It appears that while we may never have met people in the public eye, their lives can entwine so neatly with ours that they establish deep-seated roots.

The public outpouring when Diana died touched me in a different way.

I was up in the early hours nursing my two-month-old daughter when the news came on the radio that she had died. It may have been the hormones or the feelings of sadness at a mother of young children dying too soon that had me in floods of tears.

And when I left the church hall on high in April 2016 after teaching my first Teen Yoga class my mood plummeted when I heard again on a (different) car radio that Prince had died.

So yesterday when I heard Sir Tom had died I felt a stirring of emotions but it was different.

There was a tear in my eye and a sadness on my heart as I watched the news run through the past events which brought Captain Sir Tom into our lives.

But there was something else.

A smile on my face.

Isn't it strange to feel sadness and joy at the same time?

And as I watched the news I realized I was not alone, the news presenters, journalists and NHS workers who were discussing Captain Sir Tom were feeling the same too.

There was something else too.

The privilege of witnessing a life lived well.

Thank You Captain Sir Tom.


God Bless!

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

A Snow Day


We don't get much snow in these parts - too close to the coast.

Apparently the water keeps the air warmer and the snow melts before it lands.

The last significant snowfall we had was in 2010 when the snow fell thick and fast, lasting a few weeks.

It was magical.

We had waited a long time, the last big fall before that was in February 1996 when my son who is now an assistant headteacher had just started primary school.

But I saw some snow today in the form of these beautiful wild snowdrops on our walk in the woods.

It had been raining all morning but I had so much work to do - shifting furniture to create a makeshift studio - and filming and editing some yoga videos.
I needed to get out and by 2pm the rain had stopped.
We decided to take Frankie on one of the walks we used to do with our old labrador, through the woods by the dunes.
Frankie is four months old and he has brought such mirth, mess and mayhem into our lives but we wouldn't have it any other way,

He is so good at recall, we didn't need a lead all the way round and while he did play with some other dogs he came right back when he was called.

We didn't make it to Devil's Hole, a great big crater in the dunes where the local children take sledges and slide down.

There is so much wonderful wildlife around here.

The shapes of the trees are magnificent.

Frankie has so much space to explore.
And now he's sitting by my feet snoozing as it has started to rain again.

I am so glad we managed to get out while it was dry.
And who needs snow when you have snowdrops?

Today I wore:
Shoes: Next
Dress: New Look

Breton Bull Dog

  Its spring on the farm and time to break out the Breton Top. Fresh and clean but with long sleeves to keep out the chill wind that blows a...