The Joy of Cake.

Esther Chilton Challenge – Cake

After the event, she concluded that there is something which definitely assists in getting to know someone when meeting them for the very first time.

Cake.

Yes you see, if you give them a choice you will find out whether or not they are comfortable or uncomfortable. If they are easy going or uptight, watching their weight or happy in themselves.

Turn up with Cake. Who can resist? Especially if it’s Organic, Dairy Free, Gluten Free. Then there is no reason not to partake of cake. Unless you are diabetic or really don’t like the flavour of course!

So there it was. A very pleasant first meeting, where we arrived with cake and one of us would not take No for an answer since it would be strange for two out of three of us to be eating and the other not. So out of politeness, the other one joined in and we found that we all liked the cake after all. It’s such an ice breaker too isn’t it. To be blessed with colour, texture and flavour which should there have been any break in the conversation, or awkward silences or questions (which thankfully there were not) then a mouthful of cake will always give you a moment of thinking space.

So we all sat around the table, talked endlessly about all kinds of things, our own history, travel, families, work, recipes and making cake and got to know each other better. I know, three ladies enjoying lunchtime at a cafe is not unusual in itself, but a rare thing for at least two of us and one of us was on the other side of the world. Taking the presented opportunity, we indulged ourselves chatted over coffee, hot chocolate and a rather nice Dandelion Latte and this rather lovely cake in a place called Kunara at Forest Glen, Buderim in Queensland. An organic marketplace with lots to see and a lovely café within the garden centre. We stayed for a few hours and figured that it is well worth a visit if you are ever around there and if you are up to walking it off afterwards,  (the cake that is) then it is a lovely area surrounded in nature.

Full Moon over Baghdad

There is something quite surreal to be looking out of the window of an aeroplane at 4.30am local time cruising at 41000 feet past Baghdad and seeing a beautiful full moon out of the window. Lights of an unknown landscape are scattered below me.

At times, it looks like we have somehow come to a halt in the sky, so it’s difficult to believe that we are actually travelling at almost 600 miles per hour.

I didn’t think for a minute when we booked the flight about the countries it would pass over on the way around the world. Bizarrely it didn’t even cross my mind, but as I look at the flight path and it takes me past so many areas that have appeared in the news over the past few years and months, it does get me thinking. But I am not worried, just thinking…

En route we have passed Germany, Belgrade, Budapest, Istanbul.

The awesomeness of this trip of a lifetime suddenly kicks in and I am feeling such gratitude for the opportunity that has been given to me.

I remembered that I thoroughly enjoy flying. The take off, being in the air, the views from the window. Where we I travel once I am on the plane all of the stress that I have felt in preparing for the trip, after the meltdown of finding the airline had cut the luggage allowance, once I had arrived at the airport is gone and but a memory.

As I continue to write we are flying on past Basrah. I don’t know what I expected to see through the clouds it looks just like any other area at night.

The world feels such a small place when you view things on the map and you remember people you have met and the places that they come from. I find myself thinking “ So I know someone from Tehran”, as though they live just up the road and I could pop in to see them.

Many years ago I had a boyfriend whose family were from Kuwait. Although I have never visited these places before, there is something that links me to them as I travel on this journey.

The hostess has just handed me a hot tortilla wrap. It was unexpectedly delicious. It is 2am at home and I wouldn’t normally eat a chickpea curry wrap at that time of the morning, or even anything similar to it but extenuating circumstances apply. Like that occasional naughty kebab on the way home after night outs in my youth.

So although I might body is starting to tire, I didn’t sleep much last night either due to last minute packing and excitement. But I dozed earlier and have awoken with renewed energy and enthusiasm at what else I will see on the next leg of the journey.

Between the snatched sleep I have been listening to Jazz and relaxing chill out tunes. Since my eyes are tired and dry I didn’t want to try and keep track of a fast moving screen with a movie if I was to have any hope of sleep.

I took a little walk around this level of the airbus earlier, since nice my hips were threatening cramp and realised that there were lots of empty seats, people camped out with legs sticking out of blankets everywhere and the poor tired baby who cried for the first two hours has finally gone to sleep. Alas I spoke too soon and the little one has started up again. It always makes me want to give them a cuddle and see if I can help. Sometimes I miss that connection from a past life as a babysitter and honorary auntie.

We have Dammam and Bahrain left on our way to Abu Dhabi and will arrive in about an hour from now. So far it’s been a lovely flight as it is just getting light and the scenery changes again we are blessed with the sunrise from the tail camera on the plane and a new day in this time zone at least. Welcome to March.

Letting Go

It is that time of year, the very last bit where we cannot help but to take stock of the year that has been and think about our hopes for the new one that’s coming.

What we wish to let go of, the old habits the things that no longer serve us.

And so it began on the early hours of this morning. The brain dump. You know those snippets of thought which do not give a clear picture, they are just random things flying around my head. A thought here and there which doesn’t make sense and then is gone forever.

Letting go.

So what am I letting go of?

Firstly, the thoughts that I am a sick person. This is a big one, I know it to be true but it is not who I am, therefore it should not shape me.

In the past few months I have got nowhere, it has held me back from living a life the way I want to and although I have rested the body and the mind I have felt defined by it and that should not be happening. I have relied upon Drs to find and treat the cause of illness and they have failed me, pushing me from pillar to post as they tell me that it’s not what they think it is, whilst not finding out what it actually is that has made me so suddenly and inexplicably ill. I do not fit in their box. So they have left me out in the cold to fend for myself and all that time has been wasted and I am left doubting my sanity and my longevity.

I am Me.

I am still the person I used to be, but I have grown. I have awakened parts of me which have been sleeping. Hidden from view for so long I had forgotten that they were there underneath all of the other stuff that has been going on.

I am still a loving, caring, partner and friend, daughter, mother. I am a great listener and confidante. Someone who offers careful advice when it is sought. Who will happily teach what I know to others if it helps them. In return I ask for consideration, for care and occasionally thanks for my efforts. It does not make me a bad person, I do require validation to know that I am not wasting my time and know that I am doing the right thing.

I am letting go of the victim inside, as I said to someone recently, that is in the past. Long gone and I have dealt with it and the fallout. Again it does not define me for that is not who I am. I have been victimised for the past few years and had some of the darkest thoughts of my life whilst I struggled to deal with the fallout from it. That is not who I am. I want to move on from that now is the time. I have battled it and the depression which comes in that package and I want to move on. Stronger from the experience not allowing it to hold me back any more.

I have done my grieving. For the Loved Ones we have lost, we cannot bring them back. Only the memories remain, sometimes a tear will fall and catch me out, but I will not wallow in the depths of grief or dwell on the circumstances which caused the loss.

Too much time has been spent dwelling on the past. The past is gone. It is time to move on, metaphorically and physically.

There is a whole world out there that I have yet to see.

But I don’t need to see all of it. Some of it the way that it is run, the damage that is being done to it and the people that are hurting each other in it, are not what I need in my life. I owe it to myself not to be drawn into this first hand. I have figured out that I annoy always strong enough to cope with the fallout.

As with so many things, I need to protect myself better. I need the connection with the earth that surrounds us so I am planning to spend even more time in nature and learn more about my foraging journey, it has taught me so much in the past year alone, given me medicine to heal my body and options with which to feed my family. I will grow more in whatever space I have, plants to nurture and care for us.

Friends and family. Over the past year, I have taken time out when I needed to. There have been times when the only people I have seen or spoken with for weeks have been my partner or my mother. I love the bond that I have with them both, but just sometimes I need other people in my life too. There have also been times when their company has been more than enough for me and I have sought, or even craved silence and solitude. They have often fought to understand that, but have given me space nevertheless. I want to see more of my friends this coming year, the ones who are still there or me and haven’t fallen by the wayside whilst I have been ill. The ones who care enough to make the time and effort that is needed to maintain a friendship. The ones who are not phased by my strangeness, the new things I want to try and still embrace me for it. My sisters and brothers, not bonded by blood but by shared interests, a love of life and all that it holds for us.

So as I attempt to let go of all the things that no longer serve me, a decluttering of the mind, body and spirit. I am starting to feel as though a weight is starting to lift.

The light that surrounds me, I need to let it in, it can only shine if it has a power supply. That has to be me, no one else. I have to make that happen.

I want to inspire again. Teach again, be a mentor to others. Share knowledge and help others grow and heal.

I think that in doing so, I will also be able to heal, for I am not yet complete in that process and do not have to do that alone. With the support of others so much more is possible. I do not have to fight things alone. I am not alone, there are people dealing with the same problems, probably also thinking that they are having to deal with it all themselves and that is not the case. Someone out there knows your pain, they also might know how to make it better.

Divide and conquer springs to mind. Divide the problem and we will conquer it. As they say a problem shared is a problem halved. Although that isn’t always the case, it can often help so talk to people, if not in person then at least online.

So what am I looking for at the end of this year?

Closure on so many subjects.

I do not want to take the things that have ruled me relentlessly over the past year into the next one. I’d like to say that they have no place in it but as many are still work in process, I think the key is not to let them dominate.

There are things which are yet to conclude, but the wheels are in motion, which means that I am not standing still, helplessly waiting on others to do as they should.

Next year I have to go out there and get it, whatever it may be. Grab the bull by the horns and steer my life in the direction it needs to go. To make progress, however small the steps at first. It is important for me to remain moving, not get set in the concrete caused by fear or trepidation.

I don’t yet know how, or what. But I do at least have my why…

If it is all left to chance, then there is a lack of direction and that easy come easy go doesn’t really suit me of my needs. I like the reassurance that there will be provision for what is needed. Food on the table, bills getting paid and flying along by the seat of my pants is not the way forward for me. It’s too stressful, it has caused more arguments and upset in the past 12 months than we have ever had. So I need to fix that and I need to do that soon.

I have been the breadwinner over the past few years and to take an enforced step back from that has caused such strain that I have often felt broken and helpless. Flailing around drowning when we should be treading water. So if I am well enough to find a job, if it pays the bills then I will give it a go. If it is an unqualified job, with no responsibilities then it will be less stressful and I may be ale to rebuild myself to management level again at a later date. Physical capability might not yet allow me to follow my business dreams but I will hold them in my heart and mind and if I can start as projects or hobbies then I can build on those skills for later.

They are my dreams and I will not just give up on them. So I intend to follow some of mine this year.

Preparing for Christmas…

So we are now less than a month away from Christmas and I am wondering if I should decorate the trees? I was thinking that I might make some tiny handmade decorations for these little ones, although they will have to be weatherproof as these two already live outside.

These babies were grown from seeds dropped from pine cones collected from our home in Scotland by some people who are very special to me and have now moved to the other side of the world in Australia. Before they emigrated they gave them back to me and one day when they’ve grown they might be taken back to their homeland. Meanwhile they are about 12 ins tall, keeping me company in the South and reminding me of home and them.

As we get nearer to Christmas I will miss my friends even more and cherish the memories we have of last year when I got to visit them for a few days before they went. I am lamenting the fact that this year I won’t be able to send the silly gifts and home made things to one of my dearest friends, but I will hold them close to my heart and as always send them love. The distance is just a number, until we meet again.

A burst of creativity 

25/6/17 After a week of feeling exhausted with high levels of pain and very little sleep I was met with an inspired moment. So this weekend’s sudden burst of creativity has come about by this….

A small pot of local flowers from my garden which either looked pretty or smelled nice. I thought I might be able to make some pot pourri to send to my friend in Australia as part of her birthday gift and to remind her of home. I miss her even more since she emigrated. Yes I have lots of wild flowers which have grown in the wrong place (otherwise known as weeds) but they are blooming and some of them smell rather lovely too so I’m not afraid to include them.

Unfortunately I then looked it up and found out that you cannot send plant matter to Australia since they have strict laws. So I thought about making her a wildflower bouquet mixed up with the ones from my garden and photographing it for her. Perhaps I would make it onto a notebook so she can write a journal, or get it printed for her and put in a frame. Who knows but on our evening walk we collected more and since it was a rainstorm by the time we arrived home I had to store them in the fridge overnight and so this was made today. 


It adorned my dining table for the day as I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it next. Send it with blessings to the wind, or make the pot pourri out of it, it does smell rather nice. In the end I have opted for both. 

I was inspired by an artist named Day Schildkret who on his walks collects things and makes beautiful sculptural earth alters from his foraged finds which he photographs. Known as Impermanent Earth Art You can see his work at http://www.morningalters.com I love his work and am perfectly happy when doing my own foraging for beautiful things.

But it somehow set the ball rolling. Last night I wrote up my poems to the pc from the notebooks of my last trip it boosted my morale again finding out that I have almost reached my quota for my second book selection (a further 100 poems) and it seemed to trigger the writing again, suddenly whizzing around my head. This morning I wrote a poem about my friend who has invited me to her wedding next week. I plan to give it to her for a gift and thought that I need to do something else for them too. I am all for a bit of upcycled giftware and have made her a recycled roof slate chalkboard with the wedding couples initials in a logo and the date of their union. The slates were reclaimed from Scotland. I have a few of them I intended to make up for some friends and family or perhaps sell at a later date.


I hope that they like it. 

I also made one for our home which is personal to us. This has become our catchphrase of late since wherever we are as long as we are together it’s home.

It seems that I have been able to write more poetry this week. Not all of it suited to a book, or here but had to be written nevertheless.

Hideout

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Ahh the memories, of where we used to hide as Children.

At my Grandparents house, they had a dining table.  It had drop leaf sides and a cupboard in the centre with a shelf in the middle and a drawer at each end. When we played hide and seek with my cousins, this was usually where I chose, under the shelf inside.  Well, I was quite small!  I have the dining table in storage, the memories all came flooding back when I saw it.

In our first house, my favourite was in the larder, with my best friend sitting under the bottom shelf on the floor, making bread squares, by squashing the bread very hard into cubes.  It began when her father went fishing and we had a conversation about what fishing bait he used.

After that, when Dad emptied the big cupboard in my box room of all of his stuff and I was allowed to use the space to keep my toys and books. I used to sit in there and read stories to the Dollies and the Teddies.  The door would be open and I would take a pillow and sit on the floor of the cupboard with my back against the wall.

When we moved house aged 10, I had to find new hideouts.

A favourite was the bathroom roof, My bedroom window opened out above it and I would sit out on the ledge of the roof straddling it and be able to look down the street across all the other gardens, trees and flowers.  It was quiet there and no-one bothered me.  I always got into trouble for being out there since it was deemed dangerous, but I actually felt very safe up there.

Down the road from where we lived there was a brook with a bridge. I used to go there with my friend who lived over the road, we would fish for sticklebacks and read books and camp out under the bridge.

via Daily Prompt: Hideout Image: Morguefile

Levels of Weirdness and Unity.


It’s funny the things that bring us together. The familiar weirdness that two or more people share, which becomes a small group, then sometimes a bigger one.
What springs to mind is the myriad of things that bring us together in the first place. A hobby or a pastime. An illness or A favourite something or another, all over the world there are people joining together like never before. There are Groups for this or that bringing people together in some small way. Share your likes and you will find other like minded people who share them too, who can illuminate where something was missing, forcing you to look at something their way sometimes just for a moment, or maybe change your perspective forever. Yet, because you share that common interest you are susceptible to their outlook. I guess it is what helps us grow as people. Sometimes we get misguided or manipulated or just plain confused along the way. Sometimes it can bring us new friends or experiences which we had not thought to try before.

But in among it all for at least a while, there is unity a common bond and a weirdness which connects us and I celebrate that.

 

Young Men aren’t supposed to Die.

 

A couple of days ago we said our final Goodbyes’ to my partner’s best friend Tommy. They had been in each other’s lives for over 40 years. So now my man is grieving again, for another lovely man like so many taken before his time.  I wrote this poem when he died.  His family did him proud though and gave him a nice service with wonderful tributes for a life well lived. He was a good man and a great friend to my partner and boy do we miss him.  This photograph was taken the day he died, from the slipway where he regularly launched his boat with his son and his friends, it is a special place. May he rest in peace now, but the memories and stories will live on.

Sometimes the sickness will deny,
But young men aren’t supposed to die.
The chance for them to fulfil their lives,
Not leave behind children and wives.
But what is young and what is old?
Who’s the one who’ll break the mould.
One with love, who’s heaven sent
A long and healthy life that’s meant.
Over the years he’d come to show
A friendship that would grow and grow.
So Dear Lord, hear my plea
Although from pain, this one’s now free.
But all along, much life to live,
For friends and family, love to give.
One dear friend who’d help the poor
In cherished memory, here no more.
I think of the extra time we’d happily buy,
Time spent to wonder, or understand why?
Taken from this life way too soon,
The light went out, an empty room.
They fought so hard to be the boss,
Left startled by such sudden loss.
So as I stop and loudly cry,
Young men aren’t supposed to die.

Christmas, The Holidays How are you spending them?

This was going to be my “Happy Christmas” post when I began it last week.

We are still enjoying or enduring the Holiday period here in the U.K. As we head now towards New Year. I am grateful for the fact that I am enjoying it.

This Christmas I knew would be vastly different for us and I honestly did not know how it would go. After the year that we have had it couldn’t help but be. It is the first one where we have not had Kato physically with us, he was here only in spirit. He entered my thoughts daily and although I looked for signs I did not see any. However I still felt that he was part of the family here enjoying Christmas morning together.

The past week we have been getting ready for the occasion and I have never felt so unready before. I went for a job interview the week before and it went well. I came out with such a positive feeling about both the job and myself and hoped that I may be offered one of the two positions they had spoken about. That weekend, my partner told me to call my friend who was emigrating this week and book a ticket to visit her. It was a wonderful thing to do, I feared that she would be too busy but she jumped at the suggestion. So I had a fabulous time with her and her family before they went, I came back having felt such love, I was on cloud nine.

On coming home I tried to fit in getting the house “Christmassy” but had only just enough money to get food and a few small gifts for family, so had to buy gifts wisely. Whilst my partner and I sold a few items, the people came to collect. The truck went this week, I didn’t feel stressed about letting it go. The relief that we would have funds for the shortfall again this month outweighed that.

It also meant that Hope, my Beautiful blue car has been brought out of the garage and I  able to drive her again for the first time in months again thanks to the assistance of friends who made sure that she was safe for me. I played Santa and delivered gifts and cards on Christmas Eve and got to see and hug another friend I have not seen this year.

So being broke has been the new norm for this past year along with so many other emotions. But as we end the year I can’t help thinking we have lost a lot of people. Not just the ones who are old, but the ones who are taken far too soon. When faced with this situarion, you cannot help but rethink how you wish your life to be as the new year approaches.

I did not hear about the job, but that did not stop me from applying for many more this week. At some point, someone will offer me one, when the time is right so I must trust that the right one will come along too. It felt like I have turned a corner being invited for an interview can do that to you. Lift you up spirits and all and make you concentrate on the positives.

However recently my partner has been ill, he is feeling very stressed out about making ends meet but it has all come together just in time and he is wondering where the next bit will come from, looking for things he can turn around for a little profit to keep our heads above water until that elusive job comes along. But his heart is heavy and it’s making him tired and he is in pain with the various health issues he has and damage to his body over the years. He has been told to take it easy by the doctor, but the doctor knows that he doesn’t know how. Which can be a bit of a cycle for him, it also makes me worry about him.

This Christmas we did not get fancy gifts for each other. He bought me something lovely when we were in Scotland in the Autumn and I have kept it for Christmas. I bought him something he needed, a pair of boots to keep him comfortable whilst we walk the dog together and our present to each other was our beloved Roki. For Birthday, Christmas and my Birthday. No other gift is necessary as we have the love and happiness that he brings us. We collected our new baby seven weeks ago and he is the family we craved to have again.

We awoke on Christmas morning and all piled onto the bed for a big family hug. The day was mild and bright and we made plans to go out and see it. I did not spend the morning wrapping gifts for others as I had in previous years. I had managed to wrap the few that I had bought and most had already been given by then.  We sat talking, played music and had a lovely breakfast of smoked salmon omelette which is an all family favourite. I thought about the big Meal that I would make later and planned to speak to my friend to wish her a safe journey.  Our Christmas Day was non eventful to the outside world but just right for us. We sent and received messages of good cheer to family and friends but to see the face of your child as you give him presents on Christmas Day was just the perfect way to spend it.

Our boy had two fleece blankets which were donated by the emigrating friend and he was so thrilled with them. He had a rope toy which I had given him a couple of days earlier when I had returned from my trip and a woven cloth toy, which in our house is known as “A wonderful fling to be flung” which my mother had made for him. He also had some treats and was so ecstatic that he didn’t know what to play with first. So he just decided to pick up as many as he could at once, throw them all into the air and then roll on them. He is happy. I sent a message to his old family Thanking them for the most wonderful gift to us and received a touching response.

It was late evening by the time I had prepared and cooked our Christmas meal which meant we were up until very late and watching the films on the TV till the early hours. It didn’t matter so much. On Boxing Day I collected my brother and took him to our sister and her partner’s house for a feast. It was lovely, I haven’t seen any of them in months it was just nice to sit around and enjoy a meal, we also watched a funny film and laughed together.

They say it becomes different as you get older, but that is the true meaning of Christmas to us. We have love. We are not in Scotland for the first time in three years we have stayed at home. That in itself felt a little  bit odd but less stressful for me as I didn’t have to pack or travel Christmas week and it never quite feels like the holiday until you arrive at your destination.

My good intentions as to how we should spend Christmas did not come about, again we did not decorate the house for the occasion. My partner said it wasn’t important and we just ran out of time before the big day. This Christmas was about sharing Love and Time, after all who knows how much of it we have left, that was the most important thing and we achieved that.

So however you have spent yours and however you choose to spend the holiday time you have left, I hope that you enjoy it.

I want to Thank you for following my blog since I began in February, for the friendships that grow along the way and the support that you have shown me over the past few months.  I hope that we all continue on our journeys through the next year and find new inspiration, experiences to write about and I will enjoy hearing about yours.

The Daily Post – Festive

 Sisters

I am not talking about the ones you cannot choose the ones you are bonded to by birth and blood. Although I love her dearly, I am also lucky enough to have other sisters of my choosing. They are treasure to the soul and I am totally blessed to have known them and loved them.

For instance there is the girl who I have known since I was 18 months old and saw her moving in up the road, she has been a sister of mine ever since.  Sure over the years we have fought, when we were on our way to school with each other as small children, we regularly argued.  When I see or speak with her, time stands still, we are six again, chattering and laughing and always pleased to be around each other. When she went away to college and I moved away in our teenage years, I missed her so much. I am glad that I am able to see her and her family more often nowadays.

Then there is another lovely lady, with whom I have been through so much over the years. When we were 13 or 14 years old, we became blood sisters, you know where you are so close that a part of you wants to never lose that. You ceremoniously cut yourselves and say something like “your blood, my blood, our blood” and swear that you will be sisters forever.

We shared our first boyfriend, but that was not intentional, he was just a rat! We moved on from that and remained very close. Then a while later we lost touch for several years. During that time I honestly felt that a part of me was missing and I often thought about her, but did not know where to find her, or even if I should. I did not know if she would be the same girl underneath or even if she should be, but when we met up again and I met her wonderful family for the first time. It was as though no time had passed and they all were part of my family too. I am writing this as I think about the years since then and the fact that I am about to be parted from this family again as they emigrate to Australia on Christmas Day. Yes the other side of the world and wonder when I will see her again. Notice I say when, not if. You see I have a wonderful man who knows and loves me and makes things happen for me. He has driven across the countryside just to make sure that I see my friend whenever we are en route back to the South from Scotland. He knows that I will feel such loss when she is gone again, as I did before. So he has given me yet another wonderful gift. His Christmas gift to me is that yesterday told me to call her and tell her I was going to visit her and her family before she leaves next week and I am heading off on the train to see them all for a couple of days. I am so thrilled to be able to do this. We are looking forward to walking those hills together and her showing off the sights in her pretty part of Yorkshire. 

Her children when we last visited said that they would like to see me for Christmas so I have sworn her to secrecy and will just turn up at their house to surprise them. We are all excited about this unplanned visit as it was beyond my wildest dreams to see them all again since they weren’t able to visit us.

I have a treasure that is priceless. It is the people who surround me with Love and I am truly blessed and grateful.  

The Daily Post – Treasure