Expect Nothing…Appreciate Everything

My Aunt Anne was a special lady…for a long time I was scared of her.  Who wouldn’t be when you saw her appearance?  She was a tall lady with flaming red hair and an eagle eye.  Intimidating through and through.  Aunt Anne had a habit of telling people off.  Not just children, adults too…grown men could be reduced to tears once they came under the scathing tongue of Aunt Anne..  She always knew best…and in all honesty I think we all knew that she really did know best.  Aunt Anne was a very special lady, one of the wisest, shrewdest and most prudent people I have ever known.

Aunt Anne took a close interest in my sisters and I during our teenage years.  I am so glad she did!  She seemed to know, I don’t know how, but she knew all of our deepest thoughts and feelings.  Such a discerning lady.  She took an interest in our plans and goals, our friends and the boys we had crushes on, she noticed what we talked about, what we spent our pocket money on. She could have run an intelligence agency because she picked up on all these details and came to frighteningly accurate conclusions (which of course she made sure she drew to the attention of our parents).

While I was a teenager, Aunt Anne saw something lurking inside me, something weighing my heart down.  She detected an unusual level of anxiety.  She probed me over it.  I was frightened.  It might sound silly but I was frightened by the cost of life in this world.  The cost of housing, the cost of utility bills, the cost of transport, the cost of clothing and food – it all seemed overwhelming.  I was a teenager and I did not have to bear those costs yet.  But I was looking ahead, worrying about tomorrow.  I looked ahead and thought I had no choice but to become enslaved to a company, chained to a desk, trapped in a job I despised…all just to be able to afford to be alive.

Aunt Anne subtly helped me to realize that I did have choices.  My habits and decisions would effect the cost of my lifestyle.  She taught me many practical tips.  She sat with me and trained me in developing a budget and how to decide what was really important to me.  She showed me how I could stretch my pennies and to make what I owned last longer.  She taught me about free fun…so rather than spending my leisure time visiting restaurants and cinemas and theatres, as often as I may have liked…I made those things very occasional treats and instead learnt to love the great outdoors, learnt to bake and invite friends over to my home instead of us all going out to eat.  I always ended up with a huge drinks collection when I hosted an evening for friends.

She taught me to glean enjoyment in life and creation.  From even the smallest delights…dewdrops on a spider’s web, the appearance of the first spring flowers…to revering the grandeur and majesty of mountains and sunsets.  She showed me their worth is immensely greater than anything money can buy.

I am grateful to Aunt Anne for helping me see that if I wanted to live within a balanced budget and avoid being enslaved by years of debt, I needed to change my attitude, my aspirations, my ambitions and to cultivate contentment.  (My parents were caring for seven children. There was no way they could supply our every whim and wish, so I think we had been helped to realize we could not always have what we wanted.  My parents also helped us see that we needed to be willing to share and to see that everyone of the family was important and none should be demanding more than the rest.  Life is so much sweeter when you are able to share and think about what you can do for others.)

Sharing sweets

One very practical piece of advice she passed on to me was “Expect Nothing…Appreciate Everything”.

Now Aunt Anne used that advice in reference to things, possessions.  But as soon as she uttered those words, they rang true to me in so many other avenues.  Perhaps they do with you also.

Her words have swum around my mind on many occasions…especially when I was involved in a new project with a new group of people or making a new start…everywhere I have been I have told myself:

  • Expect Nothing….don’t be disappointed by having unrealistic expectations.  Work and give without thinking of what you want to get out of it.  Show the kind of love that does not require reciprocation.
  • Appreciate Everything…every time someone does something nice, even the littlest  kind gesture, make sure you show gratitude.  Look after what and who is in your life, show how much they mean to you.  Count your bounteous blessings!

I have found that by heeding the sage advice of Aunt Anne I have never really had worries.  I have felt richer than I ever imagined.  I have avoided debt.  I have travelled to many countries because people I met and worked with asked me to go and visit them, I have had adequate accommodation in some very beautiful locations which I have cared for and kept clean. I truly have had far more than I have ever needed.

As for people…well, I have found that life is rich – rich with people whom I love and who love me.  I am convinced that my treasure of life experiences, memories and friends has been accrued partly because I followed Aunt Anne’s wise words: EXPECT NOTHING…APPRECIATE EVERYTHING.

Thank you


Many of us are very sad at the news that First Fridays, Daily Prompt and The Community More are no more to be…We are all hoping there will be ways to keep the connections going.  Well one way appears to be challenges bloggers can nominate each other for.  So this post is Day One of the Three Day Challenge.

I was nominated for this audacious challenge by Mr Mark Anthony, as you can see from his post.  Mark has recently completed this challenge himself.  Thank you Mark Anthony…the nomination gave me some ideas regarding more lessons in life that Caramel has indeed learned.  I am pleased to be able to share them on the Crushed Caramel site.



• Thank the person who nominated you.

• Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

• Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

“ Expect Nothing….Appreciate Everything” 


My nominees are:




I love looking at your posts and appreciate all of your support and encouragement.

I hope you enjoy this challenge as much as I have.  Have fun!

I have one more day of the challenge to complete, one more post, one more quote…I have been working on it…one more to come…it is another weepie.


Those For Whom Fame Does No Favours

I don’t know what I am wearing today….it was still a bit dim when I grabbed some clothes out of the wardrobe and I have ended up looking like a mix between a nursery teacher, a leprechaun and a lollipop lady.  I wonder what that delivery man thought of my outfit when I answered the door.  It wouldn’t be too bad if I hadn’t have grabbed the jade green cardigan because it felt chilly this morning….too many bright contrasting colours going on here….

Wouldn’t it be horrible to be famous and open the newspaper to find a hideous photograph of yourself opening the door to a delivery man whilst wearing a dreadful combination of colours…all because you were on your own cleaning the house all day?  I am very glad life is so simple at the moment.

I am content here.  Life is simple, uncomplicated.  But my life is so different to the one I led before the morning I woke up in an ambulance heading to a nearby hospital.  I had a very exciting career and was involved in major international projects.  I was interacting with hundreds of people on a daily basis.  Life was jam-packed full of important tasks and people.


I am not famous, I am not remotely important….but the work I was involved with was….I was in a role for a long-time which was very much involved with “the public” and in various projects I ended up in high profile situations and have worked with and socialized with men who are regularly in the lime-light, some on TV shows, or asked to appear at large public events and give speeches, some with weighty executive responsibilities – having to make decisions or even those involved in judicial functions. None of my associates or colleagues were well known for anything trivial, but for quite serious stuff.  Men of great prominence and import.  They all put in long long hours and are never paid “over-time”.  I think people would be surprised at how petty a financial return these men actually receive.

All have a reputation to be worried about.  Not for their own sake.  These men, if they did something seriously wrong…well they would likely resign (or be dismissed) and then then would have to find another situation.  But this is very very rare.  They are men of integrity otherwise they wouldn’t have been attracted to these demanding and self-sacrificing roles.  But there is a risk of them doing something that would limit their freedom of speech and the effect of their hard work.  A risk despite them taking it seriously that they should be excellent role-models.  When you work with and socialize with imperfect people who are trying with all their might to do something really marvellous, they are making sacrifices and working tirelessly and all because they care so much about those they are helping.  You have to keep your mind fixed on that…they are imperfect, but they are trying really hard to make a difference, to uphold good. Because, with imperfect people you find…imperfections.  Of course, it’s not possible for them to shed all their imperfections.

The problem is…they are in the public eye, under constant scrutiny.  There are some within the media and some of the public who love nothing better than becoming aware of and exposing the failings and mistakes of others. Especially people who have a reputation as…well, as being renowned for their noble deeds, their insightful decisions and trustworthiness.  The pressure on these men can be enormous.

Take this situation for example….one of these men in his fifties…he travels around the world and is always working.  He visits a lot of projects and conferences and because he truly is interested in people he walks around and meets local people.  But in this day and age – what do people want?  They want a selfie with him.  So, he has a queue of people with cameras.  Amongst those hankering after him, are beautiful young women.  It is not uncommon for him to receive propositions and proposals of marriage from beautiful women, some half of his age.  He is not physically in the best of shape (I am being kind) as he has little time to exercise and a lot of his work involves sitting in very long meetings and he travels for long hours.  But nonetheless, these women think he is a catch.  He is a man in a position of great trust.  He is devoted to giving his best within his role and the responsibilities he carries.  He feels at this point he is better able to be effective if he is not anxious for the emotional and other needs of a woman, so he is trying not to be distracted.  He knows these women would not be interested in him if it were not for his being in the lime-light because of the enormous responsibilities he has been entrusted with.  Some of these women might have a very misled idea about his life being glamorous or financially rewarded.  Imagine one of these beautiful women takes a selfie with him and the picture is misused.  Well…!

Sometimes….a person’s desire or request for privacy may be nothing to do with fearing they have anything sinister or disgraceful they want to hide.  They may be naturally and normally a very open people person who is happy to share themselves with others.  In some cases, they might just want to be able to get on with the work that is so important to them without fear of a camera catching a moment of tiredness or thoughtlessness and then publishing it for the whole world to judge or mock.  The issue is the attitude of people (press and public) who seem to be endlessly entertained by trivial things, a fascination with what a person drinks, all the things they might do in their spare time, any clues about a budding romance…it goes on and on.

So these men (and women) might find it hard to ever feel “off-duty”.  Of course, they are utterly dependant on their close associates to understand that when they see their imperfections up close….to expose these could have a detrimental effect on the invaluable work they are doing.

There is always going to be a little pocket of my life that I have to be very selective and careful when referring to…simply because I have seen great men be brought down by merciless media and puerile public.  I care too much, far too much about the great work they are doing.  If I relate an experience it will generally to be to make a point, I try not to use them for entertainment value.  But in doing so I am always feeling cautious that I might carelessly be including a detail that seems perfectly innocent to me, but someone else might pick up on it and see it as a way to inflict some damage.

I care for these men.  Not romantically.  But I have seen them up close, and yes, they are imperfect, but I believe they are worthy of all the support and loyalty those like me who have worked with them on projects and socialized with them can muster.

There are some men and women who are in high profile roles, they work tirelessly, they are passionate about what they do…I know many who are amongst those for whom fame really does no favours.


Without Water I Would Wilt

There was a young woman on the bus today gazing at me…I tried to ignore it.  I started to feel rather uncomfortable.  I recognized the look in her eyes.  I was nervous that she was eyeing me up with the glint of lust in her expression!

At last, I noticed it was not me she was looking at, it was my water bottle.  The little cogs in my head began to turn.  She was thirsty!  There I was sipping at my sparkling water without a thought to my fellow passenger.  As soon as it clicked in my mind that I was making her abstinence from food and water a bit difficult by sitting there and guzzling in front of her, I felt so guilty.

When I considered that the young woman who was sat near me on the bus must have been very thirsty on this hot hot day…I did feel guilty of being insensitive.  I slid my water bottle in my bag and I did not have another sip until she had left the bus.

I should have known.  I have several co-workers who are fasting at the moment.  I knew a little about their fasting.  I knew they don’t eat any food during sunlit hours, but they can eat after sundown, which of course at this time of year is pretty late.  Until this year, I was not aware that they don’t drink any water though.  It is really hot here…of course nowhere near as hot as many of the countries where millions of followers of Islam live.

Ay karumba!  I would struggle.  In this heat, I do have much less appetite for food, but I consume twice as much water on sunny days.  In fact, if I stop drinking water during this glorious weather I wilt.  Years ago, I spent some time in Ghana…I realized then my utter dependence on water just to stay alive!

One of my co-workers made me laugh telling me about her own experience of fasting.  That day they knew that sunset would be officially at 8.58pm.  She said before that time they start cooking.  Everything is ready for the meal.  They lay the table, put out dishes containing their meal.  The whole family sit around the table watching the clock.  Then as soon as it is 8.58pm….woooolf!!!  They start scoffing.  She did make me giggle imagining her and her family around the dinner table like that.

She explained that fasting during the daylight hours helps them to think about those who are poor and do not have food and clean water.  Fasting helps them to be mindful of the poor and generous to them and teaches them to appreciate what they have.  She said there are spiritual benefits and it purifies their inner person.

Of course, it is commendable to think about those who struggle to obtain their basic needs.  It brings tears to my eyes when I remember a man we met from Liberia who had travelled to Ghana to flee from violence.  His wife has been killed in an outbreak of violence.  We met him and his six children.  I will tell you all about them in another post, such a special day to meet this inspirational and appreciative man.

I must admit…being aware of the injustices of this world makes me feel very uncomfortable at times…I really thought our family were poor until I had the opportunity to do some travelling and then my eyes were opened.  Every teenager that grows up in Western Europe or North America or in any other country abounding in far more than we ever could really need…should travel…and then they should never whinge about not having the latest i-gadget or snazzy sneakers…how petty and insignificant those things seem after you have seen countries where people live on around $1 a day!

For many years, I have loved visiting beautiful estates and National Trust properties. When I was younger I used to imagine myself floating around in a pavlova style dress, as if I was the lady of the manor.  Please tell me I am not the only one!  However, as I learnt more about history and how this enormous wealth was accrued, often on the backs of atrocities like the slave trade…the more I learnt the more guilty I felt about being born in a land that has such a shameful history.

I know it is complicated…I know things are not black and white…but for me I think that as long as I know there are injustice and suffering every moment of every day, inequality on a deplorable scale and that there is an agonizing outcry of “why?” and “when will this end?”…I am always going to feel a sense of guilt living in a land where things are relatively easy.

Surely you agree with me, that guilt will always be there while things are not fair.  I long for the day when every single member of the human family, no matter which land they were born in, which language they dream in, or the shade of their skin…will be safe and happy and healthy.  A world where nobody will go thirsty or hungry again.  I long for the day the whole earth is at peace.  I am no relation to John Lennon…despite my Liverpool roots.

I just know it in my bones that this world is not right…and it will not be right until every inhabitant of Planet Earth is thriving without feeling guilty that others are scraping by just to keep their families alive.

Every member of our huge and delightfully different human family drinking life to the full…no shame, no pain, no fear, no guilt, no anxiety, no hatred, no prejudice…



Two Men Parked Outside In A Big Black Van Staring At My Windows

Black Van

It’s OK.  The decorators are here!  They pulled up outside the house at 5.30am in a big black van and have been watching my windows, for any signs that I am up and ready to let them in.  At first I found it incredibly intimidating.  Now I comprehend why they do it.  If you are a tradesman or tradeswoman….or tradesperson…ugh…Let’s start again!  If you are a plumber, electrician, painter, decorator…chances are you find it easier to use a vehicle for work.

If you have a trade and you have to travel to various residences to complete tasks then you will likely have to take tools, dust sheets, paint or whatever else you might need to be able to carry out tasks.  It is helpful to have your own vehicle to carry with you all the equipment and materials you will need.

Now in most parts of the UK it makes sense to be a driver.   Roads move fairly freely, in many areas there are few restrictions or charges to park your vehicle on a residential street.  But think again in London!!!  Traffic congestion, restrictions on parking in most areas, and then when you do find a pay and display area, it can cost a lot.  On the road I live on you have to pay-and-display between the hours of 8.30am to 6.30pm.  It costs £2.90 per hour, however, you are only allowed to park for a maximum of two hours.  It must be a nightmare for a tradesman with a vehicle.

This is why the decorators are here so early.  Now I understand, I make the effort for them.  I have been up since 4.45am.  I am rather house-proud so I always do a tidy up and basic clean in any rooms they are likely to enter.  As soon as they arrive, I send them a text message to say I am up and about.  They love it!  I let them in at 5.35am.  Am I not one of the nicest customers/house-holders?  I can see they are not wasting any time.  If they can get the work done and then get home missing the rush hour traffic jams completely…well good for them.  I am happy to adjust as it makes sense…now that I actually understand why they are sitting outside in a big black van staring at my windows at 5.30am.

Although I am a driver, I have rarely used a car since I moved to London (only when I was asked to drive on behalf of the infirmary I worked for – but that was a fleet car).  But I have felt that I just don’t need to drive at all, not for myself.  The only thing I miss, is not having a car to do a big weekly shop.  Instead, I do two of three small shops each week and I am sure I end up spending much more money.

Now…I really want to talk for a little while about buses.  I have been preparing tomorrow’s post…and be warned it is a weepie!!!  I need to shrug it off and dismiss it from my mind for a while.  So to do that I would like to think about those gorgeous shiny red double-decker motors that tourists love to take photographs of.  If you are not remotely interested in London buses….this is a signal to stop reading now….

The public transport system here is amazing.  I can walk to the end of my road and every 4-8 minutes there is a bus that will take me on a 48 minute journey for £1.50.  The bus route runs 24 hours a day!

Elsewhere in the UK the story is not the same.  In the town where I grew up, we had to walk fifteen minutes to get to the nearest bus stop.  The buses were supposed to come every 30 minutes, but were often way off schedule.  They certainly are not 24-hour routes.  They normally start at around 6am and finish at around 10pm.  Our town had no train station.  There were some villages that had a bus just one day a week.  It would pass through at around 9am and then make the return journey at 4pm.  For many residents it was their only way to travel into town to do their weekly shop.

When I first moved to the south of England I lived in a fairly rural area (actually it was a little taste of paradise)…half-way in between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Princess Kate (I never hear anyone calling her that) neé Middleton’s family.  For three and a half months I worked in a nearby town.  It just happened that those months were November through to February.  My hours were 9am-1pm each weekday.  To drive in a car it took about 25 minutes.  However, I had no car back then.  So I had to catch the bus.  Well three buses…that is on the journey to work…and two buses on the way back.  I woke before 5am every weekday.  I had to walk 20 minutes to a bus stop where a bus would take me to a village.  There I had to wait in the cold, in the dark for another bus to appear.  At that time of the morning there was no direct bus service.  The wait for the next bus was schedule as 23 minutes, but it was sometimes much longer.  Some mornings I remember it was bitterly cold and I had tears streaming down my face because the cold was so painful.  I would arrive in the town center just after 8pm and then I had to wait for a third bus to take me to the business park where I worked.  I worked out I was traveling anywhere between five to six and half hours each day, but being paid for four hours per day.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet?  I hope so!!!  What did I face when I reached work?

My job involved dealing with customers, a few of whom behaved rather obnoxiously.  I am going to say something controversial…Customers are not always right…and if I owned the business there are some customers whom I would have asked to leave and not to come back again.  The numerous occasions when I have looked at a cashmere sweater which a customer wants to return, and wondered to myself, “have they tried to feed it through a shredding machine unsuccessfully and then decided just to lay it our on their road and drive over it several times?”

However, I am one of the most uber-polite people I have ever known and I even admire myself for the incredible ability I seem to have to remain completely calm when somebody is outrageously rude and unreasonable. I am able to explain a company policy clearly in a respectful way and hold my ground. Nobody was surprised though, when I gave my notice in.  They thought it was a miracle that I had never been late and never had a day off sick after standing around in the freezing cold each morning for all those months.

I have another story…it is too long for this post.  Look out for it in the future…I think I will call it “Teenager Tantrum Leads To Traumatic Travel Tale” or something like that…it is really the story of one of the most provoking teenagers I have ever had to deal with…but it will also demonstrate to you how unreliable the public transport system can be in some parts of the UK.

No, here in London, I truly do not miss having a car.  Public transport is wonderful. Yesterday there was a huge change to the train time-tables here.  Plenty of people are upset and full of angst about the changes…but for most travellers, they will get use to the changes within a few weeks.  For me…I cannot complain.  Compared to my public transport experiences elsewhere in the UK…London is a breeze!

Come on London Buses!!!  Woo-wooh to hopper fairs!!!


I Think She Is Creating A Monstrous One, Whereas I Am Trying To Avoid Being One

I enjoyed a nice dinner out with a friend tonight who told me all about her personal life.  She has inspired the following post:

So when I saw my friend tonight, she told me about a complication in her relationship….

……..she is in a relationship and has been for around 5 years, he loves her, is talking about them getting engaged and married. He is very handsome and he is a decent guy. Although they both get tired and moody, he is devoted to her. She thinks the spark has gone out of the relationship because they are often both tired.  She started a new job in an accounts office a few months ago…..and has been enjoying the overt flirting between her and a good-liking guy who likes flirting with all the women in the company.  She has started to drive him home from work, because his home is “not all that far” out of her way. They text continuously outside of work…and they have kissed.  She didn’t explain how and where the kiss came about.  She wants to have a fling with him and is hoping the feeling is reciprocated.  She knows he is involved with several other women, he seems have numerous casual connections.  But she is very excited by him.  She asked me what I though about it?

What did I think????!!!!   Aaaaaagh!!!!

I thought “why on earth would you want this ridiculous complication to something that has the potential to be super duper lovely?”

Then my friend asked me about the relationship I have with my love…

Aaaah sigh!!!  I thought I would answer that by showing her a draft of a message I typed out but was hesitant to send to him.  I am always anxious that he will think I am a burden, a complication to his life and he will fly… fly far far away.

Below is the message I am too scared to send to him because I fear he will view me as a complication in his life that he does not need right now.

Please don’t become nervous when I use words like “love”……I am not looking at wedding dresses longingly.  I just have enjoyed everything…….and would really like to spend more time with you.

You have given me plenty of reasons to apply the sage advice of Aunt Anne……”expect nothing……appreciate everything”. In other words……you have promised me nothing, but you have brought me excessive pleasure already and I am eager for more. 

Love – but not in a scary way. I love you far more than ice cream……because I am willing to give up ice cream for you. You bring me far more pleasure than even my favourite ice cream – even the salted caramel peanut butter crunch on a waffle cone you and I shared at the beach.

But I am not going to rush into giving you my left kidney. I have known you for a few months (and loved you every day and every night) common sense tells me I should not share a kidney with someone I have only known for a short time. When you said love should be measured and…..realistic.

Please don’t be uncomfortable with me admitting that at this stage I love you far more than ice cream but less than my kidney…..I was not trying to frighten you.

I know I am not making  much sense now…..that’s because I am tired sweetie  I just love thinking of you…..not eager to switch off to you…..I think I have forgotten my point. I was worried that when I mentioned the word “love” you sounded anxious and uncomfortable. 

I know you don’t want any complication in your life right now.  I fully comprehend you are keeping life simple, living the moment, living for pleasure.  I think that means that a long-term relationship would be a complication.  I think.  Please correct me if I am way off track.

My point being……you have never alluded to any kind of serious, committed, permanent, connection…I am OK with that. I don’t think there is anything remotely complicated in the connection between you and I.  We have so far spent some very very nice time together…..very nice indeed…and I would like to spend more time with you……but realize you are busy with work…..and there are others in your life who are further up your list of priorities.

I do not want to be a complication, a burden who will slow you down or take up time you want to use elsewhere. 

But I do want you to come to me when you want to come to me.

Please don’t view me being in love with you as something that should cause you anxiety.  I want to be allowed to feel unbridled fondness and to engage in expressing that.

I…….I am going to snuggle under my bed covers and drift off to sleep and exult in knowing no alarm clock is set for tomorrow morning.  I love you G, I wish you were with me right now…please don’t be alarmed.  It is all your fault for being wonderful.

Under The Covers


via Daily Prompt: Complication




Wonderful Wednesdays

It is Wednesday afternoon.  This is one of my favourite times of each week.  It is my own personal house-keeping day!  HAPPY PLACE!!!  I clean, wash and iron all afternoon.  (On Wednesday morning I help my landlady with her shopping and gardening and sometimes do some cooking for her.)  By the time I have finished, my ickle abode is sparkling.  I love seeing it super glossy and ready to invite anyone in.  I don’t live too far away from the Queen.  I am sure she would be honoured to visit this little nest after I have polished everything up.  After finishing all my work, I reward myself with a luxurious soak in the bath tub.  If it is early enough, I look for something on BBC i-player or ITV i-player to watch until bedtime.  I am hoping to squeeze in an episode of Poirot tonight.  Sometimes a glass of wine might be part of my reward…but not in recent weeks, as I am trying to be strict with myself so that I can lose a bit of puppy fat.  I want to be as almost perfect as it is possible for my beloved Goldfinch.

Say it with me: “ONCE ON THE LIPS….FOREVER ON THE HIPS!!!”  Do they call that a mantra?

I am a methodical and thorough house-keeper.  I follow a set route so that nothing is missed.  I have a schedule for work that does not need to be done every single week.  “Projects” that are either scheduled for once a month, once every two months, once every three months, or once every six months.  I don’t vacuum my mattress or soft furnishings, or clean the inside of cupboards, or defrost my freezer every week.  They all have set times on my house-keeping schedule.  I genuinely enjoy cleaning.  I have worked with an amazing group of house-keepers who trained me in their methods and showed me the most useful pieces of equipment to use.  I limit the use of chemicals and prefer natural products including vinegar.

I cannot tell you how good I will feel later today when everything has finished.  The elation of gratifying contentment and the comfort of knowing I did what I was supposed to and my parents would be so proud of me.  I have cleaned most rooms.  I am just about to have my dinner and then afterwards I will clean my kitchen area.  I have recently changed the order I clean.  Before, I used to start with the bathroom, then move onto the kitchen and then the bedroom, study, halls and lounge area.  Then I would make myself some dinner (making a mess in the kitchen again and still be left with a stack of ironing with a full tummy that just made me want to snooze.  I realized it was not working.  Now I do the ironing after I have cleaned the bathroom and put all of my clothes and bed linen away before I clean the other rooms.  I leave the kitchen until after I have had dinner.


It makes so much more sense.  Above is a photo of my kitchen area (I have just moved the toaster and kettle and other items onto a little table so it is easier to clean everything.) Super easy to clean.  It won’t take me long, and then rewarding myself can begin.  You might be able to spot some food splashes…but remember, I have not started cleaning yet.

Perhaps one of the best things about Wednesday is bedtime.  I never tire of slipping into fresh bed linen and breathing in sweet lily scent.  Aaaaaaah!  One of the most delicious events of the week.

Well, I shall delay my kitchen cleaning for no longer.  The sooner I start, the sooner I can enjoy that blessed feeling of “My work is done here, I can put my feet up and relax”.  One of the lovely things about life, work and then relax with that snuggly hug of a feeling – satisfaction.  Everything is good!…as someone very famous once said…several times…




I Could Never Put Myself Through That Again

I found a journal from a few years ago.  Scary!  What would it contain?  I found a passage that caused my mind to flood with memories.  I WAS STOOD UP ONCE.  It has only every happened to me once.  But it was a bit of a shocker to me.  I wrote a passage in my journal.  I also found some paper napkins with my hand-writing all over them.  I recalled that after I had been stood up I took myself to the other side of London and went to a restaurant and then after it had closed, I went to see a movie, and then I went to a 24-hour fast food restaurant nearby.  I then travelled into the centre of London and as it was by then 5.30am I breakfasted on espresso and a croissant before I went back to my accommodation and checked my inbox.  There was an e-mail from him.  He told me how much he loved me and how much he was longing to meet me, but he needed to cancel our meeting.  I sent a quick reply saying it was a shame because I had not seen his e-mail before I had left the house so I had waited for three hours at the railway station we had decided to meet at.  After that I slept all of Sunday right through to Monday morning. When I checked there was still no answer from him.  Anyway, if you are up to reading a weepy, here is the entry from my journal after that weekend.

(It is a bit long and I am sure I repeat myself over and over.  When I have time, I think I should edit it to make it a bit easier to read.  But for anyone who likes an outpouring of heart ache, here is a chance to read the raw, uncut version before I shorten it.)



I am really hoping you have not had chance to check your inbox …because I am kind of disappointed not to see a word from you.  But please know….it is only because I had been looking forward to meeting you so much and I am now finding myself confused and uncertain.  Simply because I have grown to love the man I have been receiving messages from daily for eight months. What happened does not seem consistent with you.  Or the you I thought I knew.  So, either, this past weekend was a blip…a carelessness of thought and moment of inconsiderateness or for these long months you have been trying to be something that you don’t think you can be after all.

I read my napkins from Saturday night…my oh my.  I poured out all my feelings on those napkins.  A man devouring a cheeseburger in McDonalds was watching me scribbling onto napkins and he asked me if I am a writer as he saw me scribbling away.  I told him I am not, but I like writing letters to friends.  After chatting me up he invited me to go back to his place for the kind of drink McDonalds don’t offer.  Scary!  I graciously declined.  Those napkins…maybe you would find them interesting…maybe you won’t want to see how disappointed in you I was that night.  My first thoughts were worry for your safety.  Slowly my sentimentality melted and I saw the situation in the harsh light of reality.  I believe you were deliberately not supplying me with a contact number to reach you and deliberately not calling or texting me to check if I had seen your message.  Was it your actual intention to leave me there for so long?  It made me write some stuff I regret now.  Don’t worry, there is nothing too horrific.  The worst point was when I wrote that I was starting to think you were a complete utter loser.  None of my other words were as harsh as that.  They just contained expressions of confusion and pain.

I re-read your message a couple of times just now.  It kind of hurts.  You sent it one hour before we were due to meet.  You knew I had already left home and would not have any access to my e-mails.  You knew I would have my mobile phone and I had given you my number several times to make sure nothing could go wrong.  However, I respect a man who is eager to use his head not just follow his heart.  I guess your message was kindly put.  There are parts that are not making sense to me. You still claim you want to meet me…but after eight months we make an arrangement and a “miscommunication” occurs.  If only you had made your decision, a decision I respect, before I left.  I gave you opportunity earlier in the week to bail out if you wanted.  I mean, I kind of would have preferred to receive it before I bought a new dress, new shoes and new jewellery and spent money on a gift for you…I wish you had cancelled before I left here with no contact number for you.  But for you to send an e-mail cancelling after I had left here.  I had told you that I would need you to use the mobile to contact me.  I mentioned several times, I would not have any access to my e-mails.  But you either chose not to tell me before I left, so I would go through all the unwelcome sensations of being stood up….and I am still wondering why,.maybe you just didn’t notice what I had said about not having access to my e-mails.  Never-mind.  I would love to make excuses for you.

Tell me please….your message on Saturday, when you said you wanted to cancel….was that actually saying you want to end this relationship?  Could you please make that more clear if that is the case.  Because that is the way it feels.  But I don’t know if I am jumping to a conclusion you didn’t intend.  You say you love me and want to meet me after these eight months of friendship online.  Being abandoned has left me doubtful.  Maybe I am still stinging from the pain and humiliation of waiting outside a railway station in the cold and the awareness you were not coming.

I am anxious.  I am sure you have some feelings for me.  Your words, your messages are so beautiful.  But I don’t think they are entirely consistent.  I can be gullible at times…but it is eating at me that you have chosen not to use the mobile phone number I gave you to contact me.  You could have sent a text to make sure I had received your cancellation e-mail (which I hadn’t).  Even prior to this, you don’t seem to have been keen on giving me your number.  We have talked about us both feeling safe and not taking risks.  But at this stage, it doesn’t make sense to me.  You said you were sorry for being vague about the details planned for Saturday.  I am kind of wondering if you were just playing along and had no intention of meeting me…or perhaps have been playing along for months without any serious intentions.

Maybe I am just being dim…was your decision to cancel and your message actually your way of saying you don’t want to develop this any further?  Or to end this….as in “sayonara”???  Please don’t be afraid of spelling it out to me…you are always kind and polite but if you want me to sling my hook – you might have to be a bit more blunt with me.  But telling me you love me and want me in your life is confusing me.

I don’t think that now.  As you might imagine, since Saturday night, my feelings have been up and down like a yo-yo.  I don’t think am not really bruised, just feeling as if everything is up in the air with regards to you….and I kind of would like some help from you to settle things down.  Please help me to understand.  I don’t know enough about you to be able to understand this.  Are you nervous?  Nervous of me, or nervous you might not be as confidant as you want to be?

I can’t think about making another plan to meet you.  It obviously has not been wise. Now I am wondering what on earth you want for us.  If you do want to end this….please tell me.  I had been in love with the thought of hanging out with you, either in town or on a sofa watching a movie and sharing a take-away.  Who knows what else might have developed?  This penpal relationship has been wonderful…but after the weekend I am resolute, until I hear some kind of explanation from you, I need to protect my heart.  My hopes have come crashing down in flames.

I do feel though, I am not willing to turn up at any other location in a beautiful dress. Maybe if we do make another plan to meet, I will put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and we can grab a coffee somewhere.

You can decide for yourself whether our contact is worth anything at all to you.

I don’t think I am the one to be making this decision.  You felt you had to cancel Saturday….so it is left to you to decide what next.

Perhaps the thought of losing the friend who has been sharing every day for eight months is frightening.  There is a large possibility we might be a bit wooden and awkward with each other at first.  Every man I have had a relationship with has not impressed me initially, but I grew to like and trust them more.  I am not worried about the two of us needing a while to feel at ease with each other.  There is going to be an odd transition between virtual and real.

I hoped I had made it clear I am not expecting an overly confidant and possibly pretentious, conceited or arrogant man.  I was hoping for someone caring, kind, humble, hard-working, sensible, with a friendly sense of humour and who wants to share some time with me….I don’t think I ever asked for a smooth-talking, stylish, cool as cucumber, thick-skinned extrovert.  I would be thrilled to be the friend of a man who knew I loved him for his being the salt of the earth.  I am not a snob…I just value kindness, humility, modesty and sincerity.

Right now I am doubting I ever really knew you my love…I don’t know what you really want.  Maybe you don’t want to think about a relationship.  Maybe you just want to remain devoted to work and looking after your home and your motor and a relationship with a woman is just an extra stress you don’t need.  I have tried to be myself, and to be very open with you and I have tried not to express my feelings about you until I was sure about them.  But at the moment….I kind of feel as if there is nothing I can do….to make you want a real life relationship with me.  Maybe you are tired of having a loyal penpal and my messages are taking up too much of your time and worry.  Or perhaps you do want or do like the idea of a relationship…but it seems as if it might involve too much effort and it is a bit overwhelming.

Well….I have made a decision.  I don’t want a fantasy relationship anymore.  I am not willing to invest in something that is either just a bit of fun, a joke, a trivial penpalship, a virtual relationship…whatever it is.  I don’t know what this is anymore.  I thought we were two people who had enjoyed getting to know each other and had started to have feelings and were believing we had fallen in love.  I don’t think I can do this anymore.  I am very sorry.  It’s not that I have anything to complain about.  I just can’t build my hopes up and beat my fears down and then face disappointment without feeling something has to change now.  I have lost my sense of trust and I am not sure I can be a penpal anymore.  There are so many odd things that you have said that made me believe you really wanted to meet me.  It seems really odd now my love.  I can’t bear to look at your messages at the moment.

As for me….my feelings for you are still here, live and kicking, undeterred by the disappointment over the weekend.  But if you think it wise, I am happy to throw some ice on them.

Forgive me but I still don’t know what to think and how I am supposed to be feeling.  I have never had this experience before.  I don’t know how long I should have waited or not waited.  Was three hours too long?  I exaggerate, it was only two hours and forty-five minutes really.  I don’t know how long to wait to hear from you after telling you on Sunday morning what had happened.  Perhaps you are dreading seeing a message from me.  There may be a perfectly legitimate reason.

Actually, I have been thinking about what happened when I was at the station on Saturday evening.  I had a couple of blokes hanging round the station pay me a bit of attention.  Three women asked me where I bought my dress (I am not telling anyone – hee hee – I know it is gorgeous.)  One tall bloke who was wearing more jewellery than Mr T said “hey gorgeous, need a lift somewhere”.  I just laughed and said I was fine.  I noticed a man who was talking to someone on the phone and heard him say the words “just come to the station entrance and look to the right…it is the right thing to do.” A while later I saw him with another man.  For a moment I thought it might be you…I really did.  I was not sure because there were so many men who seemed to fit your description pass me I was confused with who I was looking for.  Anyway, this man went into a shop I can’t even remember the name of the shop, though I was stood outside for so long – maybe it was Whistles or something.  Anyway, I looked at him a few times and he looked a bit nervous…but then his friend seemed to be calling to him and I thought he shouted Keith….so I figured it could not have been with you…because we have had this conversation about names already.  I had already decided I was cold and I had not had anything to drink since lunch-time so I went and bought myself a cup of tea at the sandwich bar inside the station.  When I returned, the two men were both gone.

In truth I am hoping this is not the end, just a little challenge that together we can work on getting over and cement what we have been building.  This is not supposed to be stressing you out .  If you are not enjoying this relationship any longer…we can just stop. Neither of us owe anything to each other.  Neither has harmed the other.  Neither has been unkind or abusive to the other.  If we chose to end this before we meet…well, I have very fond and positive thoughts and feelings towards you.  You have built a friendship with a woman and declared your love to a woman and then accidentally left her outside a train station on a Saturday night…right I am not mentioning it anymore.  Because it’s not being stood up that I am bothered by anyway.  It’s more understanding what is going to happen next.

If we dissolve this friendship…I have plenty of things I can keep myself busy with, plenty of friends who make me thrive…but I am not in search of another romance.  In fact if you say you want to end this…I think I deserve to be a bit down. I deserve the chance to play sad songs and eat chocolateI have many friends who will help me laugh about this situation and move on.  Not that I want to.  I don’t feel like laughing now.  But I don’t know how to feel because I don’t know what is happening anymore.

Sorry lovely…I love you…but I don’t know what is happening here…and I don’t know what is happening next.

I do love you…but I am waiting to hear from you and in the meantime….

….I am going to just get on with the life I lead which you have a good idea of…work, cleaning, washing, ironing, meeting up with friends for a drink/meal (and occasional karaoke or dancing), walking, swimming, reading, shopping, my family, museums….all pretty normal stuff….it is the people in my life that make it so rich and rewarding….if you are  not going to be one of those people – that’s sad.  I would only wish you the very best and hope with all my heart that I have not caused you any hurt, regret, any unintentional offence you have been too polite to tell me about.  I would always hope you have success in all you turned your hand to.  But I would prefer, much prefer, that we met and had chance to see if our lives will over-lap and how much that will be the case.


In case you were wondering.  He did e-mail me.  He sent a beautiful apology.  We continued our penpal friendship for a few more months.  It was never quite the same. One day he just did not reply to one of my messages.  I ached at the time.  But I think he made the right decision.  There must have been a reason that he knew but would not tell me why we would never meet.  I have looked back at his hundreds of messages.  Now I can see inconsistencies I never noticed before.  Still, I don’t want to think or speak negatively.  He brought me a lot of joy, it was nice having an exclusive penpal who shared every day with you.

But I did it once, and once is enough.  I don’t want to have an internet relationship.  I prefer to meet someone in real life, which is how I met my beloved Goldfinch.

In all honesty…it is something I could never put myself through again.


At The Age of 5, I Thought I Would Be Farmer Prime’s Wife When I Grew Up

Now I am not just saying it to please you…I did enjoy the art class on Sunday.  The thing is I have normally spent all my free-time from childhood onward on sports and hiking where I can push myself or just run around having fun…noisy events – karaoke, parties, dancing, live music, loud friends.  I do also like museums and historical houses and sites.  Even though I am not all that noisy in myself I am attracted to noisy, loud, energetic people.   But it was nice to sit and feel calm and concentrate and try to produce something respectable with a pencil.  I was more relaxed than I expected, and I was pleased I was starting to make a bit of progress.  Not that I have any aspirations for even attempting to accomplish something worthy of praise.  But the point is…I enjoyed it.  And I was very impressed by what you and some of the others in the class were able to produce.  I told my workmates on Monday I had been to an art class, but I was too much of a wimp to tell them what I was drawing.  In fact, when they asked me what we drew I said “oh, all sorts of things.”

I do like trying to please you Goldfinch.  I am mushy…I know…and if it annoys you I will try to reign it in.  It’s not just because I am female…I am sure you and I both know many women who are not sentimental at all.  I am sentimental I guess.  I think I am realistic too.  I am a big believer that each person is going to think and feel differently…and in some respects it is a miracle that people meet and decide they will try to build something together…except for hormones, they take the miracle out of it.  However, when it comes to love, you can’t force anything…there is no door handle on the outside of the human heart.  On a realistic (maybe pessimistic) note…I don’t believe that I “float your boat” anywhere near as much as you float mine.  I don’t think you like me saying that.

I cannot concern myself with the way every single other person thinks and feels – and trying to generalize is futile (even if most men are from Mars). But generalities aside, I do try to understand those close to me….as in where are they coming from mentally and emotionally?  Sometimes, it’s enough to try to keep an eye on my own mind and heart, and try to figure out why I am doing things.  It is ingrained in me to want to love (and be loved I guess).  So much of what I might say and do is just inclination formed by years of past experience.  I can’t see myself changing drastically unless I was changed by a major event.  To me…well, as I have mentioned, many men are from Mars…and frankly I don’t think I would have much motivation if it was hormones alone that were impelling me.  I love thinking of you in a sentimental frame of mind, maybe romantic.  My head is in a very happy place when I am trying to think of little things to please you.  It feels great to be sweet and kindly and homely and lovely and giving.  It makes me feel like my mum…and I mean that in a very good way.  But if you find you are not enjoying it, I will listen and adjust.

It is not difficult to feel fondness and affection for you…it would be difficult to try to repress it.  You do make me feel happy…and you bring me great pleasure.  Mentally I know…if you were not going to leave England, I guess I know where my thoughts would collide with yours and there would be challenges to any lasting connection.  We would probably drift apart naturally.  We would not have the desire to spend time with someone who deep down we realized was from a different planet.  Maybe it is because you are not going to be here for long that I am switching my mind off and following my feelings of happiness and pleasure and excitement.

bananaepisodeI don’t know what I am doing long term anymore.  Life has not worked out the way I expected it to.  I was thinking back to a little 5 or 6-year-old me.  This is me back then.  Please excuse the absence of front teeth.  I had eaten a banana one of my dad’s customers gave to me and by the time I finished it I had accidentally swallowed my two front teeth which had been very wobbly.  As you can see I already had an impeccable sense of style, sunglasses, leather jacket…and although I would never become a rock star, I was well on the way to becoming a karaoke queen.

One of my school mates was a boy named Ian Prime.  He was like a miniature jolly farmer.  I was too young to have a crush on Ian Prime, but I think I knew that he and I were a match.  We were on the same level.  I could see Ian Prime as the farmer, and me as the farmer’s wife.  I think that is how I thought life would turn out when I was a little girl.  I am not sure really what else it is all about.  There was never any issue about meeting parents.  I knew Ian Prime’s mum and he knew my mum.  A man and a woman start a team, they build together a home, they plant veggies and harvest them, she cooks meals and makes curtains, he carves out furniture and fixes fences, there are cows to milk and all sorts of animals to feed, then there might be children…although at the age of 5 or 6 I could not see myself having children and I still can’t imagine it now.  But that might be because I feel as if I am still a child myself and can’t take on the responsibility of a child.  But the rest I can see.  I still don’t understand how the system we live in does not seem to allow for that.  I don’t think I have goals or ambitions because the world is so shaky and unreliable and even basic human desires seem unattainable.

Each year at school our teachers would record each member of our class saying “When I grow up I want to be a…”  Our ideas changed from year to year.  My teacher’s favourite goal in my case, was when I was seven.  I claimed “When I grow up I want to be a sculpture.”  I had not realized I meant a sculptor.  But prior to that, I had stated with conviction, “When I grow up I want to be a farmer’s wife”.  My view of how my lifeconstruction would turn out all changed when I was 15 and stepped onto a construction site and enrolled as a volunteer for local charities for the first time.  I suddenly realized I had no desire to be a Mrs Prime…I wanted freedom to come and go as I pleased.  I didn’t want to be tied to anyone or anything, not even an employer.  I had to find a balance of course.  And the balance for me was first part-time employment and then self-employment so that I could be free to travel on voluntary projects all over the country and then all over the world.  As a result, I actually became a slave to the work I was doing on a voluntary basis.  A voluntary slavery that I truly loved.

It frightens me that in the summer it will be three years since I have been separated from my life, my world.  Will I be back by then?  My hope is fading.  Which makes me wonder…if I will never make it back to the life that I love…should I start thinking in terms of the way I previously thought the world worked.  Find an Ian Prime?…or wait for an Ian Prime?  I might be waiting until my dying day.

Anyway…I don’t think you see yourself as an Ian Prime type.  I don’t want to presume anything.  But you have told me things along the lines of that you just want to enjoy life and pleasures.  You seem willing to try almost any new experience.  You seem kind of fearless as if you have nothing to lose.

It does kind of scare me that if I don’t make it back to my life and my world (which I am terrified might never happen) then I have nothing to live for.  I just have to take one day at a time and appreciate everything and everyone in my life here and be open minded and adventurous about the future.  Sometimes all I want is an Ian Prime…I wouldn’t need to be swept off my feet by him.  But I do need to belong to him.  But if he could just give me a list of jobs to be getting on with, and if he could touch base with me regularly to tell me if I was doing well or if I needed to learn to do things in a better way.  I like a little pleasure.  But I crave purpose.  I need occupation, I need work, I need to have things to do for people I love, or even those I don’t love, I need activity and purpose and a lot of it.  I don’t mind how repetitive or mundane that work is.  And of course, I thrive when I feel secure and appreciated and loved.  How could I not?  Yes, it makes me try even harder.

I am waffling Darling….I don’t think you want to be bored with all this.  I am not sure even what I am trying to say…except…and please don’t take offence, I don’t think you are an Ian Prime.  But I am very grateful that you are letting me be in your life right now.  Goodness I am grateful to you.  I am loving every moment with you.  Yes, just thank you Goldfinch.  I don’t think you would have picked me off the shelf in the supermarket, but I am so grateful we both happened to be alone one October evening and had the courage to start a friendly conversation.  It has led to many months of joy.  I don’t think you want to be my Ian Prime, perhaps you don’t want to be any other woman’s Ian Prime.

Maybe you prefer the James Bond-ness of being a single footloose 40-something, fine figure of a man.  But anyway…you are doing what you want to…but you are bringing me great pleasure and happiness.

I would love to be taking you to all the amazing places my family and friends have explored in North Wales, the Lake District and Scotland.

Lots of thoughts in my head I am getting out on the page here…and I am frightened you might not like these thoughts.  I have no desire to ever hurt, offend, or annoy you.

Anyway…for now…I will just keep taking one day at a time with you…keep enjoying every moment with you…and try not to worry that I am boring to you because my head does not particularly see beyond a world where I am devoted to volunteering or else to an Ian Prime, who will be the centre of my universe.

Coffee Cups (Cherry Chocolate Granola)

Another working week over and done with and now it is Sunday….my day of rest…NOT!!!

Even on my Sunday I am up bright and early because I have a lot to do today…but first I am determined to enjoy my breakfast….I have had fruit all week for breakfast (and salad for lunch and dinner every day I was at work)…but today…ooh la la…I am having cherry yogurt, I bought it for Goldfinch and forgot it was still unopened in the back of the fridge with a use-by-date of 14-05-18. And because I have never been in the habit of eating yogurt naked….I nipped into Waitrose straight after work last night to buy some granola, and fell for chocolate cherry granola which I can only imagine is going to taste incredibly yummy. I have just made my coffee and am waiting for it to percolate and then I am going to enjoy.

Aaaaah…..so nice to have time to feel I can just dawdle along in first gear for the next hour or so…so nice!!!

Speaking of granola…I had an odd experience in a health store on Wednesday. My landlady asked me to buy her some spelt muesli. They did not have any in Sainsburys supermarket, so I nipped into an expensive health store across the road where they do stock lots of spelt foodie items. I meant to nip in and have a look round to see if I could find what she wanted. But as soon as I walked in a shop assistant bounded up to me and asked if he could help me. So I told him I was looking for spelt muesli…his face reflected panic. I followed him around the store twice before I realized he did not know where to look. I was sure we had passed a section with cereals. He came along with me. He picked up some spelt flakes off the shelf and handed them to me. I thanked him but said I was looking for muesli. So then he picked up granola off the shelf and gave it to me. I started to find myself becoming a bit giggly. I said that it looked nice, but I knew my landlady already had granola, she had asked me to buy muesli. He replied “but granola is muesli, they are the same thing”. I told him I think they are slightly different. He asked me how. I looked at him really finding it hard not to express my amusement. I described granola as being a bit crunchier than muesli. He started reading the back of the packet of granola. Then he said to me “I’ll tell you the difference between muesli and granola. Muesli you have with milk at breakfast time, whereas granola you have with fruit and yoghurt and you eat it in the afternoon.” I was really taken aback at the confidence he delivered his conclusion to me…and I was dying to laugh but politeness helped me to restrain it. Anyway, he then said that they didn’t sell muesli. I thanked him for helping anyway. Within moments another shop assistant appeared with a bag of gluten free spelt muesli in his hand.

I bought myself a coffee cup this week….I have been looking for one for weeks, but didn’t like the colours I saw, but fell in love with the one I saw in Robert Dyas homewares store. But then two days later a friend nipped round with some clothes I had lent her and she gave me a coffee cup…I remember telling her how guilty I feel every time I buy a coffee because of the difficulties recycling coffee cups so I intended to buy a coffee cup to have in my work bag. So now I have two as you can see from my photo!

20180310_214048The taller one I bought and the shorter is the one she bought for me. Oh…I can help save the planet in style!  Every morning when I turn on the news before I head out for work there is a news item about single use plastics – bad bad bad….  Ever since we watched the beautiful BBC Blue Planet and especially the recent Blue Planet ΙΙ, we have all become very upset that our magnificent oceans and the myriad of sea creatures that leave us full of wonder and awe are being damaged by our daily coffee purchases amongst other things.  My next purchase will be a re-usable water bottle, a solid one that I can wash out again and again.  I must do this because I do buy a lot of bottled water. I can’t bear to think of harming the creatures in the ocean I am fascinated by.  (I heard that by the end of the year plastic drinking straws and cotton buds will be banned.  I am not sure who uses cotton buds anymore anyway.  Every health professional sternly tells you not to stick them in your ears.  Maybe some people have other uses for them.  But my life will not be cramped by the absence of straws or cotton buds.)

My lovely lovely wonderful Goldfinch is somewhat of an expert on waterways and the environment.  He says much more needs to be done.  I am sure he is right.  I am sure the vast majority of people would be pleased to make sacrifices where needed to preserve this incredible planet.  I asked him last week, what does he think is the next practical solution to take.  We are getting rid of plastics we don’t really need and re-using coffee cups and drinking bottles more.  I asked him what is next.  It sometimes seems a bit overwhelming, but I think most of us understand that we all need to do something or give something up.  The collective effort can achieve huge results.  Do you know the story about the starfish on the beach?  I don’t have time right now, but I will relate it in another post.

My other exciting buy this week….Higgledy Piggledy Pies…four new vegetarian varieties and on offer in the Waitrose supermarket. I can’t wait to try them.  I have not baked a pie in ages.  Pastry…not very waistline friendly.  But I feel in the mood for baking savoury things at the moment.  I am an occasional baker.  I bake for friends.  They love my bakes and tell me I am an amazing baker and should apply for one of these TV baking shows.  I know better.  I am not a great baker at all.  BUT I DO KNOW HOW TO READ.  I obey the recipe precisely, every letter!  It is a very clinical mechanical way of baking, but yes the bakes come out well.  All credit to the recipe writers.  I never remember the recipes.  If you asked me to jump up and bake a sponge cake or shortbread right now, I would not be able to do it.  My head does not retain recipes.  But I have made hundreds of cakes and biscuits by faithfully following other people’s recipes.

I found a recipe for a dish that looks absurdly simple but delicious. It is so simple that I can actually remember it. Take one 600g tub of fresh veggie soup, the type you find in the chilled section in the supermarket, and heat gently in a saucepan and then add 400g tin of cannellini beans (after draining and rinsing of course) add any seasoning you desire. pour this concoction into an oven proof dish. Then take a fresh garlic baguette and blitz it in a food-processor (or you can grate it if you don’t own a food processor) It should be nice chunky crumbs, not fine crumbs. Mix this with grated cheddar cheese (the recipe specified 75g but I would probably leave that to the eater to decide how cheesy they want their supper to be). Sprinkle your cheesy, garlicky bread crumb mix over your bean and veg soup base. 15 minutes baking in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200°/fan 180°/gas 6.  This recipe could turn out to be an easy tasty simple supper for when friends come crashing through the door.  Or it might be awful.  I am going to experiment on a friend and his two teenagers who are coming over for dinner next week. So long as I serve chips with it they will be happy! And a naughty pudding. I think pudding will be something simple like brownies…..I refuse to put in excessive effort for teenagers because most would be just as happy with a gooey cake that came straight out of the box from a supermarket.

By the way, if you don’t own a food processor.  I have never had one up until a year ago.  There was life before my food processor… and life after.  The main difference is making my own hummous which I do most weeks, my own pesto…yum yum yum, and things like home-made coleslaw are so easy to make.  Whizzing up cookie crumbs for a quick cheesecake base etc.  I like it.  It is hard to imagine life without a food processor now.  I don’t buy gadgets generally.  My sister and her husband have all sorts of juicers, spiralizers, pop corn makers, doughnut makers, an ice-cream maker.  I am sure these are all fine things in themselves, but my cute kitchen can’t store too many gadgets.  But the food processor definitely deserves it’s place.

I finished my cherry yogurt dressed with cherry chocolate granola and my coffee some time ago and now I am going to have a shower and get going…busy day ahead.


Cheesy Dreams

I had such an odd dream last night.  I remember it fairly vividly and have found it has been playing on my mind all day.  What do you think?  Could I have been over-indulging in cheese?  Is it cheese that is supposed to make you have odd dreams?

It started with a very familiar scene to me, paying a £5 fee to go swimming at the pool in the town where I grew up.  For some reason I had my lap top in the pool with me…and it was still working even when I dived underwater with it.  Then I decided I had finished with it so I would close it down and put it back in the changing rooms.  While it was closing down I started looking around and noticed all the tiles and grout were immaculate, pure sparkly white.  Then I headed to the changing room to put the laptop away.  For a moment I considered getting dressed and leaving because I was tired but then I recalled I had paid £5 and I had not really had a proper swim, because I had been on my laptop for so long.


At that instant one of my sisters came into the changing room, surprised to see me.  Lots of other people came in behind her.  I went back out to the pool.  I was about to slip into the water when I noticed I had my trainers on.  So I took them off and decided rather than return to the changing room I would leave them on a bench against the wall.  I went to the water again and noticed my purse and keys were in my hand, so I decided I would put them with my trainers.  I returned to the water, and now I was aware I had on a summer hat and sunglasses.  Back to the bench.


By the time I came back to the water something odd was happening.  One side of the pool had lessons starting, swimming lessons and canoeing lessons…at the same time.  Along the other side were fishermen casting their rods into the swimming pool.  So now it was just the middle of the pool where there was room to swim.  I headed over there.


I tried to swim a length of the pool but my route was blocked again.  There were three women sitting on the side of the pool talking and cooking on some kind of little stove.  It was a dream of course because…. what came off that stove were giant pastries, like Danish pastries with cinnamon and icing, some had thick custard.  They saw me lingering and offered to move out of the way so I could reach the water.  I said I didn’t mind stepping over them, but I was jealous of what they were making.  Anyway I finally made it into the water, but I felt so ill I had to get straight out.  That was the end of my dream!!


Strange hey!


Some parts make sense.  I love swimming.  I love clean tiles.  I love seeing freshly tiled and grouted surfaces.  My youngest sister and her husband are both tilers.  I met my brother in law when I was 16 and he was 11 when he was helping his dad tile a swimming pool.  It was one of my first volunteer projects.  I had swimming lessons for years.  I loved canoeing, but only did it in school trips and on holidays.  I knew they ran  canoeing lessons at the local pool, but my parents said they could not afford for me to go to canoeing lessons in addition to other hobbies I already was involved in.  Mum and Dad made sure all seven of us children had swimming lessons, but there was no way they could accommodate all of our faddish interests in ballet, trampolining, canoeing, pottery and so on.

I don’t really understand the fisherman in the dream. (Maybe they are trying to catch me to stop me from reaching my goals.) The women who were baking on the stove…well, I guess I like baking, I like any kind of cake or pastry and I’m trying to be good (want to be as almost perfect as possible for my lovely Goldfinch), so it probably does make sense that I’m dreaming about pastries and cakes. (Again, possibly the cakes and bakes have slowed me down and distracted me from reaching some goals.)

I think the whole dream of the swimming pool becoming more and more crowded and all the obstacles to me actually getting in the water and having a swim is kind of a parallel to my current reality.  Since I was the victim of a crime almost three years ago, I have trying to rebuild my life and get back to where I was before.  Slowed down even by things that I had forgotten to do, such as how I had forgotten to take my trainers off and take my hat off, delaying me getting into the pool. It seems to me that that part of the dream was perhaps to do with me getting a bit frustrated with all the little things that I seem to need to do before I can be where I want to be.

I don’t normally try to interpret my dreams!  I certainly don’t think they are omens!  But I do think your brain is trying to sort and make sense of all sorts of input and connections.


Have I been eating too much cheese?

Cheesy Dreams