Good Friday 2013

It’s been so long since my last post that regular readers might wonder whether I’ve been having trouble putting more life in my day.  The truth is, I’ve been really quite busy and don’t have much time on the computer anymore.  My writing course deadlines are slipping away from me and French has fallen by the wayside a bit too.  But I like to dabble in new things, so I’m working on the assumption that I’ll get around to these things soon enough.

On Good Friday we indulged in my favourite activity of all at the moment – spending time in London.  Lindt had sponsored The Great Easter Egg Hunt and we went up to Covent Garden to take part.  I used to spend a lot of time in Covent Garden; I love the place.  In fact, if I had half a million of disposable income, I would buy a one bedroomed flat there and have the whole experience on my doorstep.  As it is, we drive to Wimbledon and get the tube from there.  The eggs to be hunted are huge, designed and made by artists, mounted on pedestals, to be auctioned off after the event in aid of Action for Children.  We found 68 out of the 101, although we were told that one of them had been stolen.  This is a disgrace, as the egg is worth a lot of money to the charity but is more or less worthless to the person who stole it.

As well as the Easter Egg hunt, Covent Garden is host to many and varied shops and boutiques, as well as market stalls.  There are also designated areas for musicians and entertainers to perform.  This is one of my favourite things about Covent Garden and I’ve spent many happy hours hanging off the railings on the upper walkway while an opera singer or string quartet performs on the lower walkway.  I wasn’t disappointed this time either, as there was a fabulous opera singer performing, Seija Knight, who sang several of my favourites, including Schubert’s version of Ave Maria, and the Flower Duet and Madame Butterfly.  I’ve been in tears before watching singers in Covent Garden and this performance just slayed me.  Amazingly, she said that people often come up very close to her as they think she is miming, or using a microphone.  I find this unbelievable as the power and quality of her voice could not be conveyed so clearly by electronic means; she has no need to mime or use a microphone.  A truly special occasion and I was lucky to have been passing at the right time.

How I love London.  There is something for everyone, you just have to know where to look.


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One Week February 27th – Coffee and Lent

This week, I am linking up with Older Mum in a Muddle who is running a project called One Week.  The idea is that you post a photograph and a few words or short(ish) paragraph which capture the spirit of the time of year.  It can be photo of anything that distills and diarises your experience of this week.  Details are here if you would like to join in.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love and adore a really good cup of coffee.  The whole experience matters to me, from choosing the right cup to suit the mood, through putting the right coffee in the espresso machine, to getting the right amount of froth on the milk and putting it all together.  I love the whole ritual and wrote about it once here.

So for me, giving up coffee for Lent is a Very Big Deal.  So big in fact that I’m a bit late in embracing the challenge.  It’s taken me since Shrove Tuesday to talk myself into it.  But I’m finally there: deep breath and drum roll – this is my last cup of coffee until Easter Sunday.


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One Week February 26th – Battersea Park Zoo

This week, I am linking up with Older Mum in a Muddle who is running a project called One Week.  The idea is that you post a photograph and a few words or short(ish) paragraph which capture the spirit of the time of year.  It can be photo of anything that distills and diarises your experience of this week.  Details are here if you would like to join in.

I read somewhere that Battersea Park Zoo in London has a tunnel for the small children to crawl through which brings them right up close to the meerkats in the middle of their enclosure.  I love meerkats, and I know that my little chap does, so we went along to see if the tunnel was large enough for adults to get into too.  Answer, only the very enthusiastic ones!

Great meeting place for a few excited children! Speaking of excited creatures, an Emu took exception to my husband taking it’s photo, reached over and, with a sharp peck of it’s beak, had the camera out of my husband’s hand.  Another dad caught the whole thing on video and it caused a lot of merriment amongst the assembled group.  Luckily the camera was on a long loop around my husband’s neck, so he managed to retrieve it without too much bother.  But just look at the expression on this emu’s face. Not happy!


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One Week February 25th – Keeping Warm

This week, I am linking up with Older Mum in a Muddle who is running a project called One Week.  The idea is that you post a photograph and a few words or short(ish) paragraph which capture the spirit of the time of year.  It can be photo of anything that distills and diarises your experience of this week.  Details are here if you would like to join in.

So, with the fledgling feeling that spring may be just around the corner, what is it sensible to do? Start knitting scarves of course.  It started with my son asking how knitting was done, so we bought some small needles and a little ball of bright green wool, and knitted teddy a scarf.  I found the experience so therapeutic that I bought bigger needles and four balls of that wool that looks as if it has knots all along it and began knitting that into a scarf for me.

There’s something soothing about the repetitive action and something very satisfying about seeing how quickly the scarf grows.


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January 21st – Get Fit and Feel Epic

Well, with a battle cry like that, how could I say no?!  Feeling Epic (with capitals) is what this year is all about for me.  I’ve been writing since new year about some of the things that I’ve been doing to put more Life in My Day, one of those things being exercise.  I wrote here about my sudden inclination to take some exercise.  It was my first day off the lead after the Christmas holidays.  Hubby was back at work, son was back at school, and I had a bit of time to myself, so I went for a walk with a friend.  Then I went to the gym and ran 3k, which doesn’t seem like much but it was a big achievement for me and I felt very pleased and proud.  Full of good intentions to continue.  But then what?  Nothing much.  One swim is all I’ve managed since then.  My warm waves of energy and enthusiasm seem to have dissipated, I need fresh motivation.

They say that the hardest thing about exercise is putting on your kit.  I’m aiming to put that to the test.  Being more of an abstainer than a moderator, I have to do something every day or at least on certain identified days, rather than just “three times this week” or “four times over the holidays” or whatever.  I just find that approach works better for me, otherwise I find myself saying “OK, is today one of the days I’m going to exercise, or will it be tomorrow?” and then nothing gets done.  I work best with objectives and deadlines, I like knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing to get the results I want.  So, with that in mind, and once all this snow clears and I’m confident enough of the road conditions to get back to the gym, I’m going to put on my kit, step outside the door and go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  I’ll tell you later whether putting on my kit was the hardest bit!

I’ve long been a fan of Kate On Thin Ice, an eclectic blog full of energy and thoughtfulness.  Kate’s running a competition to win some exercise related gizmos designed to help when motivation is flagging (or practically non existent in my case).  This is my entry for the ‘Get Fit Feel Epic’ competition hosted by Kate on Thin Ice.  Details can be found here.


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January 15th – Cinema

Cinema used to be a very big love of mine.  I don’t mean in a critic sort of way, just that I used to love going, every week, to see something new and different.  I’ve come across some amazing films that way, that probably would never have appeared on my radar otherwise.

When I lived in London, I was about a 20 minute walk from a large multiplex and it was £5 admission if you went early enough in the afternoon.  So I went early Saturday afternoons, nearly every week.  I saw some amazing films, and some trash it has to be said.  But enjoyable, whimsy trash nonetheless.

When I moved out to the country, our nearest cinema was a 20 minute drive away.  It was (maybe still is) a flea pit, filthy on the handful of occasions I’ve been there, litter everywhere, not a pleasant place to be.  So I didn’t.  However, now my little man is at school, settled and very happy, I feel more at liberty to start going again through the day.  The cinema at Bluewater is beautifully kept and has an 11am showing (or thereabouts) for most films and I feel that, as I do not find it easy to go in the evenings for all sorts of reasons, I’m going to take advantage of that early showing every couple of weeks.   I’ve really felt the lack of cinema in my life in recent times, and in order to address that I got myself a subscription to LoveFilm, and had DVDs delivered to home.  Really this was the only way I was going to get to see some of the films I wanted to see.  But now I have a bit more time during the day, I’m going to return to the cinema.

I’m also enjoying introducing my son to cinema.  The first film he ever saw was in 3D, at the Science Museum in London.  It was about life under the sea, and the beginning of the film had lots of octopi seeming to float out of the screen.  It was really amusing to see all the little hands in the audience reach up as if to pluck them out of the air!  Since then he’s seen Madagascar 3 and a film called The Pirates! in 3D and Top Cat and a couple of others in standard format.  He’s loved them all.

Some films are so much better on the large screen: I would have loved to have seen Avatar and I will see the sequel on the big screen.  I went to see Life of Pi in 3D last week (in the evening with some friends) and enjoyed it very much.  It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in recent times and it would have lost so much of its spectacular cinematography on the small screen.  I’m aiming to go to see Les Miserables next week as I think the atmosphere will be so much better at the cinema.  That is going to be such a popular film!


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January 9th – Treading water

In order to put more Life in my Day, I have decided upon several longer term aims which I’ll keep coming back to, regularly examining, moulding and shaping them in anticipation that they will make life better overall in the long run.  Two of these aims are to eat better (and thereby, perchance, lose a little weight) and exercise more regularly, thereby clearing my mind, improving my health and generally putting a bit more of the old bounce back in my bones.

A very wise blogger recently said to me that making longer term goals part of goals for the day was very worthwhile, as is waking up and deciding that actually, today I want to achieve nothing (thank you Jetta!).

Today was a bit of a mixture of pursuing long term goals and doing nothing.  I wanted to visit a volunteering centre to see what they might have that I could get involved in.  Their flyer suggested “it’s not just about charity shops” and that appealed to me.  So whilst I waited for them to open, I went to the coffee shop (thereby scuppering my healthy eating record for the day).  I was just about to leave to go to the centre, when I read the flyer again – please ring to make an appointment.  Hmm.  It’s not a drop-in then.  I rang and left my details but nobody has yet called me back.  The centre is open only on Wednesdays, so another week will pass before I can follow that up.

So having started the day by going backwards, in some respects, I decided to make amends by going for a swim.  This resulted in two life affirming events, to make up for the two false starts earlier in the day.  The swim was brilliant, the pool was practically empty, and I managed a good 30 lengths in about 20 minutes.  When I was sitting in my car getting ready to drive back, I saw two separate women trying to get into their cars without unlocking the doors.  I do this ALL THE TIME!  And it makes me feel like such a Charlie.  It was amusing and reassuring to learn that I am not the only scatterbrain who forgets over the course of an hour that she left her car locked.  I’ve no idea why I do this, but it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

So today was a bit of a treading-water day.  I’m not sure how much I’ve actually achieved, but my intentions were good!


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January 7th – Exercise!

Exercise is just one of those things that most of us don’t do enough of.  I know I don’t.  Sometimes just the thought of making the effort just makes me want to sit down on a deep sofa with a large latte and blueberry muffin.  Defeating the object, I know.  When people say that you feel so much better after exercise, I tend to think – yes, that’s because you’ve stopped.

It wasn’t always like this.  Last year, I was running 10k in just over an hour, and really enjoying it.  But then I changed my routine, got out of the habit, got a little less fit, a little more fat, and then there was a brief period of illness in the autumn which stopped me in my tracks completely.

My son went back to school today, so it’s a good day to blow away the cobwebs of inactivity and the out-of-routine-ness of the Christmas period.  I met a new-ish friend in the park for a walk and a coffee.  She works with books and has travelled a bit, and is very much my kind of person.  We had a great chat about books we love, places we’ve visited, plans for the future, and before I knew it we’d walked all the way round the park.  After coffee, I felt so energised that I decided to go to the gym for a swim.  But when I got there, the pool was full of people doing aqua-fit to music played at top volume, which just didn’t fit in with my frame of mind this morning.  So I hit the treadmill instead, and surprised myself by running 3k.  All in one go.  Not much by some people’s standards, but who cares about comparing myself with anyone else.  It was an achievement for me, a big one.  And I feel as if I might have done a couple of hundred metres more had I not forgotten my water bottle.

So this is a great start to my year of finding life affirming things to do every day.  I can run for more than a few minutes at a time, and what’s more, I enjoyed it.  I now feel so enthused about it, I can’t wait to go back on Wednesday.


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January 5th – Theatre trip to London

OK, it was a children’s production, but nevertheless it was time spent in London, and we all enjoyed the show.  We went to see Room on the Broom at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.   It’s based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, which we’ve always really enjoyed; the rhymes are excellent and the verses are so catchy that it’s easily remembered.

My son was given a child’s size guitar for Christmas so when we arrived in London we went to the music shop on Charing Cross Road and bought a tuner.  I used to play the violin when I was younger and have a set of pitch pipes for that instrument, but I know nothing whatsoever about guitars or how to tune them.  We talked to the man in the shop and ended up buying an electronic tuner which works for any instrument – you can even tune your nose, as he demonstrated to us!  This little gizmo is going to be useful as one of the ideas I have in the back of my mind for this year is to learn another instrument.  At the moment I’m thinking oboe or clarinet, but I’ve yet to decide.

After the theatre we had lunch in a Soho sushi bar and then visited a bookshop.  We came home then, as the little man was tired out from walking round the West End and all the excitement, so we walked back down to the station and caught the train home.

A brief visit, but enjoyable nonetheless.


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January 3rd – Photography Project

Last year there was something going round on the internet that really appealed to me.  Someone had taken a photo of their daughter every day of her life and then run them all together into a sort of video.  10 years (or something like it) in a few minutes.  It was fascinating!  I thought how great that was as a way of capturing that ethereal way in which children grow – one day you look at them and they just seem different.  I see my son every single day and yet some mornings I wake up and even I can see a change in him from the previous day.  And he’s growing so fast!

I’m not knowledgable enough yet to put something like that together (I think the chap who did it might have been a film maker) but it occurred to me that I could still take the photo every day and have a photobook printed up at the end of the year to record them.  Somehow I just never got around to it.

But then today was one of those mornings where I looked at my son and felt that he’d grown in the night.  Changed again, a little closer to the amazing young man I know he is going to be.  So I took a photo of him.  And I’m going to take another tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.  And onwards through the year.  It takes only a minute or two to do, and the photos don’t have to be perfect,  just a fairly acceptable representation of him as he is on any given day.  And at the end of the year I’m going to have them printed up into that photobook.

What could be more life affirming that watching my son grow and thrive?

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