Will You Get Up And Dance With Me?

It’s not at all long until the weekend now…is that not a great reason to start celebrating?!

I have two more great reasons. I have been nominated by not one, but two bloggers for a “3.2.1. Quote Me!” challenge on a very fun theme. The fabulous theme is: CELEBRATION OF LIFE!

I was nominated by both Jay-lyn, the creator of The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom and Dr.Tanya, the creator of Salted Caramel as you can see from their posts below:



Not to forget, for those of you who are not familiar with “3.2.1 Quote Me!” challenges, they start out with wonderful Rory, the creator of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! as you can see from his post:


Rules: 3.2.1 Quote Me!

Thank the Selector

Post 2 quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day.

Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’


I actually want to start this post with a video, rather than tagging it to the end:

I have been a bit forlorn about Goldfinch leaving very soon, so I needed to find something to perk me up a little and put me in the mood to write about celebrating. Nothing quite like the muppets to bring on the party spirit!


Well, here are my two quotes on the theme of: CELEBRATION OF LIFE!!!

You never know what is around the corner. Life storms can develop at a moment’s notice. So make the most of sunny times in your life. Don’t wait for special occasions or holidays. Celebrate now, celebrate the moment. Think of all the reasons you have to be grateful. Make as many days as you can just a little bit special. Sprinkle wonderful around your family home, around your workplace and everywhere you go.

Tribulation comes to everyone at some point, the good and the bad. So work hard and then enjoy the results of your hard work, celebrate! Adorn your life with beautiful experiences and memories. Enrich your life with delightful people. Make time for wonderful. Fill your life with stories you will enthusiastically tell others or eagerly write posts about on your blog-site!

My life. I have had hard times to be sure. Do I want them to define me and dictate the course of my life? Nope! Do I want to be happy? Yep!

Have a full on determination to love life and enjoy it. Think about what you can do to contribute to life…give your all to making life wonderful both for you and others. Practice giving and people will give to you – in my case gloves and “posh” hand soap!

When invited to a party, be one of the first up on the dance floor and be willing to dance with anyone there. You will always be on party lists because of what you bring to the party. Throw yourself into life, make life fun and enjoyable for those you spend time with.


Now as this post is about celebrating, and I have introduced the party theme to it…I am going to share with you one of the songs that gets me straight up on the dance floor.


It’s All A Matter Of Training

Has anyone asked you a question which was so interesting to you, that you found it hard just to give a short simple reply? My thoughts have been chopping and changing for the past few days, like a restless sea! Well, partly that was due to my determination to keep guessing the mystery blogger on Rory’s challenge!

Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind has asked some fascinating questions this week as many of you already know. I am late again this week because I have pondering them at length! Just in case you have not had chance to see Melanie’s questions yet, please take a look at her post below:



If your five year old self woke up in your current body, what would happen, what would you say?

I would be alarmed. I am sure it would feel very disturbing to have an adult body with these two huge lumps on the front of me. I can imagine being very embarrassed at the age of five.

I would instantly think of that film with Tom Hanks “Big”.

I think as time passed, I might start to think of some of the things I might be allowed to do. There would be rides at the theme part that a five-year old me would not have been tall enough to go on, but in an adult body I would love to go on all the big rides at the theme park. I would probably make myself quite ill!

And I would go to a department store and try on all the lip-stick and perfume like the grown-up ladies do. Five-year old me was in awe of my Mum and her high heels and her lip-sticks. Now I hardly ever wear make-up (just for big nights out, but not on a day to day basis), but five-me old me would have been very interested in make-up counters.

If I had money in my pocket, I would probably also buy myself lots of sweets. More than I could ever eat. Probably make myself ill again!

And I would boss my sister Mandy around and exult in being taller than her. Mandy is two years younger than me, but she has always been two inches taller than me, since I can remember.

What is a relationship deal breaker for you?  Whether you are talking about a romantic one, a friendship or a related to sort of relationship?

Great question!

I feel like I can get on with most people. I would always treat people with kindness and dignity. But as for those I choose as close friends or to have a romantic relationship with…well there are a few things that would make that unlikely.

I love people. But I find it hard to be around certain habits or practices. If someone swears like a trooper making the air turn blue, or if they smoke or drink to the point that they don’t make sense and look like an idiot, I just don’t want to be in their presence. I don’t feel attracted at all to that.

I can’t bear violence, so if someone wanted to watch violent films or play violent video games I would recoil from them. I don’t like aggression, so if someone was regularly losing their temper, I would avoid them.

There is no perfect person. Some have not been raised to be clean, or tidy, or organized. I can believe that anyone might make a mistake, or give into occasional weakness, whether it be a lie or a wrong desire. But what do they do a bout their mistakes? Do they feel sorry afterwards? Do they try to fix any damage they have caused? But when someone is deliberately doing something they know is wrong and could harm others, I find myself putting a distance between myself and them.

There are certain attitudes that I don’t think I could tolerate at all though, including racism and bigotry. I don’t like it when I hear someone being unkind about others, making fun of them in a cruel way or using sarcasm to humiliate them or malicious gossip about them. I don’t like arrogance or conceit.

My parents have trained me to be clean, respectful, kind, considerate, helpful, gentle, mild, peaceable and to dignify others. If I was with someone who clearly had not had that training…I am still kind to them, and I would only ever be respectful to them, but I don’t feel a close rapport with them. A romantic relationship would probably be impossible, because how could I respect a man who I thought was a total loser?

Is there something out there, a thought, an idea, a current event, or a fear that you find deeply unsettling?

Several. Racism is insane and horrid for a start.

I find it very frightening that some people are playing the most unimaginably violent video games. It’s as if they are training their minds for sadistic crimes or warfare.

I know people might not go out and do in real life the things they might do in a game…however, it seems as if they are programming their brains to react to a perceived threat and to  lose respect for the value of human life. We live in a world that is at risk of becoming more and more divided politically, if someone has been training their thinking to be violent, I fear what they might do during a time of upheaval.

I do believe that there are violent times ahead. When people get very upset about an issue…violence sadly can spread quickly. Society is tempestuous even now. What will spark even more turbulent times?

My parents used to explain to me that people’s behaviour can change overnight during times of hardship and political turbulence. They said those can times can “test a person’s metal” so to speak. Some people are quick to express their anger with unimaginable acts of violence themselves.

And one that is a bit whimsical:

whimsical.pngA whimsical thought?

Well…I have never been interested in fantasy characters like fairies or unicrons. But I keep hearing people say they are convinced they are real. Adults. I know some adults personally who seem really obsessed with magical fantasy characters fairies, wizerds, unicrons – I find it bizarre.

But then even as I child, I didn’t like reading or watching anything about magic. I was offended when I realized that so many children’s stories were make-believe. I wanted people to be straight with me and tell me what was real and what was not, rather than telling stories that played with my emotions.

If you were arrested with no explanation, what would your friends and family assume you had done?

I hope they would presume it has all been a big mistake or I have broken a law I was not even aware of. My parents trained me to obey the law and pay my taxes and show respect. So they would not expect me to anything other.

The only time I would ever conflict with what “Ceasar” asked of me, is if something  was asked of me that was totally against my conscience like being asked to go out and kill someone in a war. Currently that does not happen here, but there are still countries where rather than providing a non-military service for citizens, the government will imprison young men whose conscience does not allow them to be trained in warfare.

It’s quite an emotional subject to me because I had the privilege of working with some remarkable older German volunteers who were survivors of concentration camps under Hitler’s Nazi government. These survivors were not sent to concentration camps because of their ethnic origin. Rather they were detained because they refused to salute Hitler and they refused to join the war effort. They were very inspiring. I helped to arrange several events for National Holocaust Memorial Day over the years and of all the people I have met, I was moved by them. I ought to write about them really, there is so much to share.


What were you grateful for this week?  Something that brought some joy into your world?

I bought a train ticket which will take me over 200 miles across the country and it only cost me £8.00. That is an amazing price!

handsoapI am also grateful for the “posh” hand-soap and “posh “hand-cream I mentioned in a post yesterday. A very kind friend, who perhaps overvalues soap, sent me a gift.

And I am very grateful for the gloves I received from another friend! I am all for practical gifts. Don’t give me jewellery, I will probably break it or lose it. Don’t give me chocolates, I want to lose some weight. But hand-soap and gloves are very useful and appreciated.


Now there were some rather gloomy images in my post…and you know me, I like to maintain a joyful spirit to life. So I am going to end on what I hope for the future for you and for me and for our entire human family. This is what is in my heart and this is what I am training my brain for:



Only 114 Days To Go!

Today was dark…it was grey and damp. Was it raining? I don’t know, but I ended up soaked to the skin when I went shopping. Moist air was coming at me from all directions.

I found out today that Goldfinch has to go away again this weekend…which means, the next time I see him, will be the day before he flies out to Australia. That was a heart-sinking piece of news, I have to admit.

However, on the brighter side I picked up my train tickets to North Wales today – that last week of December is something I am really looking forward to. I might be going up Snowdon on Boxing Day – I love the nutcases in my brother-in-law’s family who would want to do that. I am really keen at the moment. My sister is worried because I had breathing difficulties so recently. The thing is, it’s not exertion that causes my brain to play up. My consultant said he would be happy for me to return to basketball if it were not for the risk of receiving a blow to the head. Hmm. I would love to go up Snowdon on Boxing Day!!

handsoapI received two parcels today from friends, one was posh hand-soap and posh hand-cream. I say “posh” because there is no way on earth I would ever pay £18 for a bottle of hand-soap and £20 for a bottle of hand cream – yes I looked at the website just now, I should not have. The other was some lovely gloves…I am very pleased because it is getting cold. Cold, dark, grey and damp. Gloves are highly appreciated indeedy!

I made three litres of butternut squash soup today. Most of that is now in the freezer. I ironed and did some office work for my employer (I do a lot of different tasks to help them run both their business and their domestic home) But my working day is not over yet! I have finished one job, but I am heading out now to another job…I have three hours to go, so I should be back home before 11pm…

Aaaaah! I saw the picture prompt for today from The Haunted Wordsmith and all I could think of was spring! I had an idea for a story. But I am not going to have the time to do it justice, so I will save my idea for another time. Instead I am going to say how much I am counting the days, longing for this gloomy, shivery, soggy time of year to be over and for spring to appear again. It’s only around 114 days until Spring!


Too Close For Comfort

I had a surprise on Monday night.

I was scrolling through a considerably larger number of bloggers than normal due to my determination to crack Rory’s cryptic clues for his incredibly tough “Guess The Blogger” candidate:


By the way – we need all the help we can get! Rory has really made this one hard and I am losing my wits trying to discover the identity of the mystery blogger.

The surprise I had came when I was typing into my Search bar in the WordPress Reader all sorts of combinations and I suddenly saw a face that looked familiar. I clicked onto the blogsite and was surprised to find Jack’s mother. Jack who I used to live with –  my ex-flatmate – yes the one who crushed Caramel!

I frequently met with his parents. In fact I still remember the first time Jack introduced me to his father. I was crossing the road and Jack was helping his father with his suitcase (his parents had come to stay for a few days). I was going to walk straight past, but Jack called me over and seemed very eager to introduce me to his father.

I also remember having dinner with Jack and his parents. In fact, I rang Jack and told him I didn’t feel I could go through with it because so many people were talking about he and I and that if we were seen (which of course we were seen and yes it was all over social media) there would be even more talk. Jack pleaded with me and assured me that everything would be fine. But when we were actually at dinner it became obvious that his mother did not seem to like me at all. She would not make eye-contact with me and she kept on making rather sarcastic comments about man-hunters. But everyone told me she has always been very protective of Jack and is very suspicious of women who want to bag her son.

Whereas Jack’s father was absolutely wonderful to me. He was a true gentleman and was always friendly and kind, even Jack was being very strange with me. Jack’s father is down-to-earth and just plain nice! I guess I can understand her caring for her son and being a bit menacing towards single women. If Jack had opened up to her about his perceptions of me, maybe she would feel hostile towards me – I will never know!

Hmm. I know she is a writer. I even bought one of her books a long time ago. It never occurred to me that she might be blogging and coincidentally also using WordPress. I had a look at her posts. I was scared to like any of them. It felt rather strange seeing her photos of the family – I have met all of the family, and yet, with things being the way they are, I just did not at all feel right viewing them. And there is no way I am going to follow her. What if she connects my posts with her son? I am afraid ! Very afraid!

I do wish Jack and I could make peace. I am so eager to write more about Jack. But I want to wait until after Goldfinch has left. He was rather upset with me a few months ago because he felt as if I am never going to get over Jack. I don’t want anything to ruin my time with Goldfinch before he leaves.

Disappointed And Disillusioned

Have you ever felt really disappointed in someone? Perhaps you were shocked by something they did, and were confused as it did not seem in character with the person you thought you knew?


I have had that experience recently and it has left me rather bewildered. I have no idea where this is going to leave our friendship in all honesty. (No, I am certainly not talking about Goldfinch!)

We all make mistakes, I know. But when someone had painted a picture of themselves a certain way, and then goes onto show over a course of time that they are not at all what they had originally made out they were.

I am left feeling really disillusioned with them. I keep wanting to say: “I don’t know you.” I have lost faith in this person. How to find a kind and tactful way to say, “I really do not trust you any longer.” Hmm.





What Will You Do With Yours?

What do you think I am describing below?

  • You have one, I have one. But I have never seen mine, and you have probably never seen yours.
  • It weighs about three pounds (1.4 kg)
  • Most people have only used about one billionth of it’s potential capacity within their lifetime.
  • It has been described to as “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe”?

The human brain! It is markedly different from the brain’s of other animals on this planet. One capacity that the human brain has to a superior degree is that of creative imagination.

I have been tagged by Rory, the creator of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! for a “3.2.1 Qiuote Me!” challenge on a remarkable theme: CREATIVE IMAGINATION, as you can see from his post below:


Rules: 3.2.1 Quote Me!

Thank the Selector – Thank you Rory!

Post 2 quotes for the dedicated Topic of the Day.

Select 3 bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’



I was reading an article about a brain expert, who teaches at a university in England. He has been studying the human brain for fifty years. Some of his explanations where a bit overly technical for me, but he did make it clear that the human brain has an extraordinary capacity and potential. I will simplify his explanation:

“The human brain has many billions of neurons, which communicate with one another … a single neuron may make many thousands of connections with other neurons…. The total number of connections in the brain is astronomical!”

There is a universe inside your head!

The possibilities are enormous. Look at the incredible diversity of creative ideas reflected by different bloggers. We all have a different flair, a different take on the word prompts and writing challenges.

I think it’s wonderful to have at least one medium – whether it is art, music, poetry, story-writing – to develop and explore that remarkable feature of the human brain – imagination – ideas – that lead to creation. It is something that it is worth giving ample time to, because it is very rewarding to imagine and create. This ability makes humans very very special. How we use our imagination and what we go on to create may have a massive impact on our future.


creative imagination

I was looking for a quote I heard many years ago, but I could not find it, so I went with the one above instead. But the quote I remembered was referring to the mind of the Creator and his exquisite imagination.

I think many of us do know that spending some time out in nature is incredibly good for us. Beholding spectacular mountain views, magnificent sunsets, being inspired by starry skies, the rainbow of colours that erupt in the spring-time….there are so many gloriously beautiful scenes all around us in creation, or if you prefer, nature. Whether you believe that a mind, full of imagination, is behind those scenes or not, I am sure you will agree it is really good for us to be able to soak up the great outdoors.

I don’t think many of us are living the way we were designed to. Currently we live in a system that often turns us into the proverbial hamster running endlessly round and round the same old routine.

I see people travelling on the tube here in London and they look uninspired and tired. For many, life revolves around work, their phone, TV, and a host of other man-made things, that seem to distract them from using their own imagination and thinking about the stunning beauty of this earth, the beauty all around us that is not at all man-made.

I find that the world that man has built seems to stifle something deep inside of me. I rebel against it frequently. I need nature, creation. I don’t watch much TV, but I love a good documentary about creation like BBC’s “The Blue Planet” series.

I have just watched an incredible five minute video on a website I frequently visit because it inspires and educates me. The video is about light and colour – it humbled me to think how extraordinary creation is. It explained the phenomenon of iridescence. Although the technical explanation was impressive and made me admire the ingenuity of the designer, yet again I was in awe of the sheer beauty that this design feature produces. I believe it speaks volumes about the mind, the imagination that came up with these ideas and created countless ingenious and spectacular “things” which don’t pollute the air and water and do not block out the light from the stars.

For me, the greatest creative imagination is evident in what has not been man-made, but is displayed generously throughout our home planet. I truly believe that we should all make ample time to consider the marvels of creative imagination that are all around us.



A friend told me I am a left-brainer, and I have to admit her explanation sounded very plausible, although I am sure I do have two halves of my brain. But I do agree that I have a brain that is more wired towards maths and science and being organized and practical etc.

I am not very good at art or anything particularly creative. However, I love creation. My sister brought some things down from my flat on the other side of London recently. I found in one box a stack of note-books which I had decorated myself with pictures I had cut out of travel brochures and wildlife magazines.


That is just about as creative as I have ever been. But for years I used to make my own cards too in a similar style, because buying cards was so expensive. I sent a lot of letter and cards.


Well, I am going to nominate three bloggers that I do know are a lot more creative than I am:

amydwestphal amydwestphal – Amy-Westphal.com

stoner on a rollercoaster stoneronarollercoaster.wordpress.com

klaugen Klaugen





…because ever since I started to think about the word imagination…I have been thinking about this song:

Two Weeks Notice

It is coming…

The wave has been building for some time

It races towards me with fury

Goldfinch will be leaving in two weeks time

In the depth of my grief

Will darkness and gloom overtake me?


I am going to have to get myself

one of these babies:               






Finding French Charming Has Nominated Me For The Liebster Award

I have noticed that there have been a lot of posts about the holidays recently and it is clear that holidays can be a very different experience for many. I personally don’t observe any traditions that have origins I don’t feel comfortable with. But I love time off work with my family and great friends. It’s nice to have some naughty food during these cold dark gloomy days.

It was interesting to see the questions from Finding French Charming as some of them are about the holidays, and as I looked through them I thought about all the posts I have seen about the holidays – for some bloggers, they seem to be having a whale of a time. But for others this seems to be a time that can provoke stress, loneliness, heart-breaking memories and a forlorn longing for something that every human being should have – genuine warmth, security, love.

The world just ain’t right! Never mind politics and economics…there are too many people out there without what makes humans thrive regardless of your economic circumstances.

Take a look at the fabulous Liebster Award post from Finding French Charming. I think a lot of you are familiar with her posts, but if not…please go back and look at her posts from earlier this year – they are so much fun to read through.



  • Acknowledge the blogger that gave it to you and display the award
  • Answer 8 questions that the blogger gave you
  • Give 8 random thoughts about yourself
  • Nominate 8 other bloggers and notify them of their nomination
  • Ask your nominees 8 questions

The Questions From Finding French Charming:

Is there a famous person you strive to be like? (Style, accomplishments, attitude)

celebrityThe thing about most famous people is, I only see a glimpse of them, often a carefully coordinated glimpse that is controlled by their media agent. They have very little interest to me. I did not have a television for over ten years, so I am not very up to date with who is famous anymore, there seem to be a lot of “celebrities” whom I have never heard of or seen before.

I only strive to be like the people I know well, mainly my parents and some of my wonderful friends who have spent years or even decades working as volunteers. I have a few famous friends. I strive to imitate wonderful qualities like kindness and compassion in any of my friends whether they are famous or not. Fame is a very fickle thing indeed.

I truly admire my ex-flatmate Jack, because he gave up so many opportunities to enrich himself, when he became a full-time volunteer. Instead he has used his fame to be a positive influence on young people. I applaud that.

What is the craziest color your hair has been?  Was it an accident or on purpose?  How old were/are you? (add a pic if you have one!)

me at 9I have never dyed my hair.

This was my hair colour at around nine years of age I think. And this is my hair colour today. I do notice the odd silvery hair though. My Dad who is seventy has the same colour hair and he has a few whisps of silver. I am wondering if I will be the same.

Mandy my sister has been dying her hair since she was eleven. She loves to change her image regularly. I always say to her “Go light in the summer and go dark in the winter!”

My mum once left us with Dad one afternoon so she could go to a hair appointment. She came home with an unusual shade of red and a perm. We were all a bit shocked to be honest. Mum now has beautiful long golden white hair. It’s not white, and there is no hint of grey or silver and it’s not blonde, it’s almost platinum blonde I guess. Anyway whatever it is, her hair is in gorgeous condition. She normally wears it up when she goes out. But around the house she might have it down and it is very beautiful.

As the holidays are around the corner, do you have a favourite decoration?  Where did you get it and how long have you had it?

Me – no, not at all.

carriage lightBut I remember when we used to visit my Grandparents during December, they always had quite a large tree in the corner of the front siting room, near some French doors that led through to the larger living room at the rear of their house. I was quite taken by the Cinderella carriage lights they always had in gold, blue, green and pink. They were kind of pretty.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life in regards to how you celebrate the holidays?

Well, for years I have worked during the holidays because I have been working in healthcare and that requires staff 24-7-12-365! My oldest sister is a nurse. My brother is a Doctor. Mumma was a nurse and always worked on the bank holidays.  She could get either double or triple pay on bank holidays. Dad was a window-cleaner, and so it made sense for him to take time off during the winter holidays when the weather was rotten.

Because Mumma was out all day, Dad allowed us to have one duvet day. We were allowed to stay in our pyjamas and watch cartoons, but only for one day. He did not want us wasting the whole two weeks school holidays by being lazy. He made sure we were active and had fresh air. We have always been summer kids. When the weather was bad and we were stuck indoors we would all suffer from cabin-fever. We could read and play games, but we longed for outside and Dad would have to make sure we were all wrapped up. He then took us out on brisk walks around town, so he could keep us active and make sure we were tired out and would sleep properly. He used to get us running and climbing and having races with him. Dad could make anything fun.

There were a lot of older ones we knew who might be alone over the holidays, so Dad would often take us to visit some of those he knew would be alone. At the time, I don’t think we understood how much it meant to some of them to have my Dad turn up with his young crew who invaded their home for a couple of hours before he took us elsewhere. We thought it was great because we were fed cake and pie and chocolates everywhere we went. So we were well up for it. We chatted away to our hosts who apparently would have spent the holidays on their own. Dad couldn’t bear to think of older ones without any family being all alone. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement – I think. I don’t know if it was odd. But I do know we were a very popular little crew.

On days when we were all together we would visit my grandparents. They would give us a parcel each with one “big” present and a host of other things like a new year diary, embroidered handkerchiefs, a jumper, gloves, sweeties etc. Other days we would meet up with lots of other friends and their families and go for a walk, sometimes there were about a hundred of us. Either in the Lake District or North Wales. Or a couple of times we went somewhere like Chester Zoo. Then we would split up into smaller parties and go to someone’s house for food and games.

When I used to go back to school the other children would boast about all the expensive gifts they had received. I didn’t like that. But I do know, we didn’t miss out on anything important. As I grew older, and especially once I left school and started working, I noticed people would come back to work after the holidays grumbling about their family and were clearly stressed from over-spending and over-indulging.

What was the worst holiday disaster you’ve experienced?

There are a lot more heart attacks, mental health break downs, suicides during December and January, so of course that is one of the reasons why working in healthcare, this time of year is dreaded. I have often worked long hours and come home completely wiped out.

The worst was one year when I was working extra shifts for a local nursing home and we had half of the normal staff levels because of illness. There should have been two nurses throughout the day, with ten carers during the early shift and six during the late. But there were six of us during the early shift and only three of us during the late shift. Then we had a call to say there had been an outbreak of the Norovirus at a local hospital and they were bringing eight patients from that ward to our facility. I was utterly exhausted after those few days.

This year I will be off from December 24th right through to the following Monday. I am so so thrilled to have almost a whole week off. I think it might be the first time for over fifteen years. I will be in Wales, but will be seeing all of my direct family and a lot of the in-laws.

Are you a “Black Friday” shopper?  If yes, explain your strategy.  If no, how do you do your holiday shopping?

I have only heard of Black Friday within the last couple of years. But so far I have not had chance to make the most of the sales. I think we have just had Black Friday – I worked for fifteen hours that day and was not involved with any shopping – except that I did pick up some vegan fish-style burgers. But they were not in any kind of sale. I just really wanted to try them because I am curious as to what they might taste like. I have not had fish since before I was six years old, and the only fish I actually remember is fish-fingers.

What place of business do you frequent so often they know you by name? (besides where you or a spouse works)

The post office staff are so lovely. They all know my name and where I work now and where I used to work. I have noticed they always look a bit fed up with some of the customers who take out their frustration about the long queues and not being able to obtain the service they had queued for. So when I appear, their little faces light up. I always try to cheer them up with a little friendly chat and a joke (I don’t know many jokes). It seems like a nice little token towards someone who has spent the morning having customers shout and grumble at them.

What kind thing has a stranger done for you recently?  Did you pay it forward?

There was a man at a railway station I went through who was randomly giving out beautiful roses to people passing. One rose each. I thought he was selling them at first, but he said to me, he just wanted to do something kind. People do look very stressed at this time of year. Maybe he wanted to try to brighten someone’s day?

Have I paid it forward? Well, I have not been giving out roses to strangers outside railway stations myself no.

But I did give those chocolates I was given by a young man who should not be giving me chocolates to my workmates. They enjoyed them very much as far as I could see when I was back at work.

Eight Random Facts About Me:

  • Before my head injuries I hated hats – the only hats I was willing to wear were hard-hats on construction sites. But now I have twelve wide-brimmed hats, a couple of bucket hats and eight woolly hats. I feel a lot more confident when I wear a hat.
  • I have been too scared to drive since I had my head injuries, although before then I drove up and down the country with confidence.
  • pestoI love my food processor. I love making my own hummus, pesto, coleslaw and how much easier it is to make parts of other dishes – for example a biscuit base for cheesecake. It’s really hard to imagine not having a food processor now.
  • I have taught several adults how to swim, including three women from Pakistan who had never been a swimming pool before they came to England.
  • I live in an area where there is a lot of limescale from the water. To combat it, every time I have a shower, I spray a solution made of water and a little white vinegar all over the glass and then squeegee the glass and the tiles and wipe everything down with a terry-towel. My walk-in shower always looks perfect.lawn mower
  • I used to drive a ride-on lawn mower to keep the lawns of a rather grand estate where I lived immaculate.
  • I love having cookery lessons from friends from other countries. I have had cookery lessons with friends from Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Spain and Thailand – and I am always eager to learn more.
  • After Goldfinch has left, I am thinking of moving closer to my family, because I am giving up hope that I will ever make it back to my home and career on the other side of London. I am having too many problems since my head injuries. It is making me despondent. I don’t think they can accept me as a full-time volunteer. If I can’t be here in that capacity, I think I would rather be where my family are – which is difficult because they are spread all over the country. But I like idea of spending some time in North Wales for a start. I would love to see my nineteen month old niece growing up.

Eight Question For My Eight Nominees:

  • How long have you been blogging for and why did you start blogging?
  • What kind of food do you enjoy during the colder winter months?
  • Do you wear hats and if so – what kind of hats?
  • Have you ever had any unusual jobs or ways to earn money?
  • What do you do to cheer yourself up when your heart has been broken by someone?
  • Have you ever worked on a construction site?
  • Have you ever had an overnight stay in hospital? How was your experience?
  • Have you always lived in the same area? Or have you relocated within the same country or abroad?

My Eight Nominees:




Maybe I Should Have Called Your First

As soon as I saw the theme for today’s SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY my mind started to flood with ideas of songs. I feel totally spoilt for choice this week.

Today’s theme is: FIRST…

…as you can see from the original post from Helen Vahdati, the creator of This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. Take a look and do please join in. If you like music, you will love taking part in SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY!


Tracks from Roberta Flack, Lionel Ritchie, Kylie Minogue, Barry White, Bananarama, Madonna and a host of songs by the Britpop bands of the late 1990s all started bouncing around my head. I am going to be looking out for some of the other songs I have rolling around my mind and I am tempted to post another SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY post very late tonight if some of the fabulous songs on the theme of FIRST have been missed.

But this week, I am indulging myself by picking my favourite, my stand out! This is one of the songs I have loved from the moment I heard it and am sure I will love for years to come.

Today, my choice is a song that was first made famous by Cyndi Lauper, although I believe it was intended for Roy Orbison. My music tastes are diverse. When I worked for the record company it was era of Oasis, Blur, Pulp and a host of other British bands, so I know that era of music best. But I love classical music and a thousand golden-oldies and stripped back acoustic tracks nowadays . Modern pop has to be perfectly produced to get my attention. And to me the following track is absolute pop perfection! Or perhaps I should say pop rock perfection!

This song is not just my favourite. I have many friends who adore Cyndi’s version of this phenomenal song. It has to be one of the top choices for any drive-time playlist. When I worked with a team of sixty house-keepers this was one of the most popular choices for a bit of lunch-break karaoke. Can you see us grabbing a dish-brush or a mop and pretending it was our microphone and singing our heart out to this? I LOVE THIS SONG!!!

I had to escape
The city was sticky and cruel
Maybe I should have called you first
But I was dying to get to you
I was dreaming while I drove
The long straight road ahead, uh, huh

Could taste your sweet kisses
Your arms open wide
This fever for you is just burning me up inside

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
Is that alright
I drove all night

What in this world
Keep us from tearing apart
No matter where I go I hear
The beating of your heart
I think about you
When the night is cold and dark
No one can move me
The way that you do
Nothing erases the feeling between me and you

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
Is that alright
I drove all night

Could taste your sweet kisses
Your arms open wide
This fever for you is just burning me up inside

I drove all night to get to you
Is that alright
I drove all night
Crept in your room
Woke you from your sleep
To make love to you
I drove all night… to hold you tight

Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly – thank you for pop perfection guys!



The Way I Felt That Day!

There was one day when I had the most incredible news of my life. Have you ever received news that meant so much to you that your heart leapt? News that gave you a huge surge of elation.

When I saw the picture prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith it brought back to my mind that elation, the heart-leaping, spirit-soaring, joyful jubilation of hearing news that you have been longing for throughout many years.

Humpback Whale, Jumping, Breaching

I remember that day vividly. It was such a strange day in many ways.

I think I have mentioned that it was March 1997 when I first became involved in a local charity’s project and started my career as a volunteer. In May I started study leave for my GCSEs. I didn’t do any revision for my exams – I was fortunate to be able to rely on the many years of paying attention in class and doing my homework. But I was so glad to be free! At last I found something purposeful.

roofersI was able to work on some extraordinary projects throughout the north of England and Wales and worked with thousands of people. I became part of a core team that helped to train new volunteers. There are some very special people I want to write about in the future.

constructionTen years later, I left home in order to be able to work as a volunteer in a part of Southern England, where there were a stack of projects and not many volunteers (partly because the cost of living in that area is so high).  Although the first year was hard, because I missed my family and friends up north so much, it did not really take me too long before I started to feel at home down south.  I made many wonderful friends and fell in love with the countryside.  I ended up living on the grounds of a beautiful stately home and being allowed to roam their gorgeous estate, and because they trusted me, I paid peanuts for my accommodation, which was another fortuitous factor in my volunteer career in the south of England.

For all that time, I gave at least twenty hours each week to voluntary projects for which I was unpaid. In addition I worked on a part-time basis to earn the money I needed. I learn to live frugally and I am very glad of it.

I longed to become a full-time international volunteer. I had met many who were. But I was given a very realistic description of the challenges that are involved in that role. The accommodation is very basic and modest – well small, very small. There is a a strict schedule and volunteers are often required to work “over-time”. There can be challenges when sharing kitchen and bathroom areas with other volunteers who come from different backgrounds and cultures. The physical demands and difficulties in the various challenging assignments can be exhausting.

For many reasons, the number of single men vastly outweighs the number of single women. There are many many part-time roles for women, but the role of a full-time international volunteer is so tough, that it is normally only men who are invited to take up this role. The physical, emotional, mental tests they put you under are designed to reveal if you really can take on a self-sacrificing role and if you really can be sent anywhere in the world and adapt to any way of living. Many men cannot hack it. Yet in general, they are more likely to endure and remain in this role for longer.

When I was living on a shoe-string in the south of England, I was involved with projects all over Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Bristol and beyond. I was also handling the accounts for local charities and had to deal with a complicated situation where a celebrity had made a huge blunder (it was sorted out eventually, but we almost had to get the police involved). To earn my crust, I worked within healthcare – I had a bank contract for zero hours a week. There were always shifts available, but mostly I worked for two six hour shifts a week. For two years I managed to live on my wages from twelve hours work, so I could devote more than thirty hours each week to working with charities on an unpaid basis. I was happy, very tired at times, but deeply happy.

construction clothesNow a special man, a friend, created an opportunity for me (I will save that story for another post!) and some time after that I received a telephone call, asking me if I would be able to travel up to London for a training day, as they would like to start using me on important projects on the site where all of the UK projects and around 25% of international projects were organized from. I was thrilled!

I went for the training day and fell in love with everything and everyone. My heart was bound up with the site in London which was an absolute hub for volunteers. There were 540 full-time volunteers at the time. (That number rose to 800 during the next three years.) Around half were married couples and the other half were single men. There were around ten single women, five of whom were over sixty years of age and had been widowed. There were also around 200 who worked their part-time. Over half of those part-time volunteers were single women. I was told again and again that it is extremely rare that any single women would be asked to become full-time volunteers, because of the challenges involved. On occasions, when it did occur, it would be if a single woman had a very specialist skill that was needed. Over the next six months I drove backwards and forwards between London and my accommodation on a countryside estate. It was seventy miles each way. I was doing two night shifts each week in London. I must admit doing night shifts did effect the rest of my week. But I managed. I had a very difficult and demanding schedule for six months during which I often felt I had jet-lag.

care assistantThe night shifts were necessary because they had an infirmary for volunteers who were seriously ill. Most of the patients were well into their nineties and were now effected by dementia, although their mobility was excellent. Most of those we were caring for had sacrificed opportunities to marry or start a family of their own because they were devoted to volunteering. So now, we became their family and gave them a very special standard of nursing care, marked by love and appreciation for all they had done and how special they were to all of the people they had helped over the decades. We also had patients who were receiving palliative care as they had advanced cancer, including some young ones in their twenties. Very brave. They could have returned home, but they wanted so much to keep their hand in volunteer projects for as long as they could and be near the other volunteers who had become like a family to them.

Then one day, they asked me if I was willing to come to London to work for two day shifts, the first was a Friday and the second would be the following Monday. I jumped at the chance. Working night shifts meant that I had very little chance to meet many other volunteers, just the direct team I was working with in the infirmary for volunteers who were seriously ill.

But during the Monday night shift I worked a few days before I was due to do my first day shift, since the day I had been trained six months earlier, I found out some news. I had mixed feelings. Suzie, the girl I was working with, told me that another part-time volunteer, who was a single woman, had been invited to become a full-time volunteer. Her name was Marta and she was German. I had never worked with her. She was a psychologist.

I wanted to be happy for Marta, who I had never met. However, I was crushed. All my hopes seemed dashed.

I drove back to the countryside on Tuesday morning after my night shift and stayed in bed all day, weeping. But then on Wednesday and Thursday I walked out in the woods and muddy fields through the pouring rain. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I was so bitterly heart-broken, but I couldn’t tell a soul about it. I found myself wishing I had never known the joy of meeting so many wonderful people and the satisfaction of slaving for others. I had never been so overwhelmed with sadness. It was awful!

dining room.jpg

On the Friday morning, I left my accommodation at 4.30am to make sure I was not late for the 6.30am arrival at breakfast, they had asked of me. I was rather nervous of walking in alone to a huge room where 400 would arrive for breakfast. I still remember who I was sitting with around the breakfast table that morning.

After breakfast I went to the infirmary and received my work assignment for the day. It was so different to be there during the day-time. I was able to do some work with Suzie, but also spent time with other volunteers I had never met before. I met Marta for the first time that morning. Kevin, the supervisor who had been coordinating my shifts for months asked me how I had heard and seemed to apologise to me because I think he knew how much I would have loved to be there full-time. Several of the volunteers I worked with during the day were very chatty but the question was asked of me several times, would I like to be a full-time volunteer. I was on the verge of tears again and again. None of them could know I had cried for the previous three days because I was convinced there was no possibility of being asked now that Marta had.

nervousI had lunch with Suzie and Nadine (another of the girls I worked with in the infirmary) and Nadine’s husband James. After lunch, we went back to work. Kevin asked me if I could make sure I was available in about half and hour and asked me to be at his office by 1.30pm. I made sure I had finished my tasks and was there at the time he had asked of me.

I was so nervous before I went though. I had been fighting tears most of the morning and I was not sure i could keep myself composed in front of Kevin. In addition I was going to have to tell him that I could not do as many night shifts as normal for the next month because I had to attend a training course and I was going to be moving home. I could no longer afford my accommodation (even though it didn’t cost a lot) so I was moving into a spare room that was part of a farmhouse, where I would be helping care for the animals on the land.

beforeWell, I knocked on the door, and Kevin opened the door and closed it behind me once I had entered. I was surprised to find one of the directors named Rod, who managed the entire facility there.

I sat in front of them very nervously. They asked me if I was enjoying my work there. They wanted to know how I was finding the travelling and how was doing night shifts effecting my regular week. I found it hard to talk, I am sure I felt myself crimsoning. Then they started talking to me about why Marta had been invited to become a full-time volunteer and how her experience in psychology were needed because they had a volunteer who had cancer who had suddenly lost her husband who had a massive heart- attack and died in one night. His bereaved wife had suffered a serious nervous breakdown and was in need of specialist care.

I nodded. I knew there were good reasons why Marta had been chosen. I knew I should be happy for Marta and for the infirmary that the needed skills had been available at the right time. They explained to me how very hard it is to obtain approval for a single young woman to become a full-time volunteer and how it was only given in exceptional circumstances. I nodded.

Then they explained that the infirmary was becoming busier and busier and they needed to expand it. More rooms, more volunteers. They knew I was one of the most experienced of the volunteers in healthcare and that I had showed already by my reliability and my attitude that I was eager and willing. They said they had hoped that I might be able to help to train new volunteers and to advise them more closely on needed equipment. They asked me if that was something I wanted, would I like to be more involved? Would I!

And then…

…they told me that when they had asked for permission to invite Marta to become a full-time volunteer, they had decided to request permission to invite another single woman to become a full-time volunteer, because they felt there was so much need within the infirmary. They said that they had approval to invite Marta two weeks before. And they told me that during the course of that very morning they had been informed that they had permission to invite another single woman in as a full-time volunteer…

…and that single woman was me!

I must have looked completely shocked. Well, I was shocked! Speechless. It had never crossed my imagination they would be able to invite both of us to become full-time volunteers. They said if you don’t believe it, here it is in writing. They handed me a long white envelope with my bame typed out on the front, and told me to take it home and think carefully about it and to let them know. But they wondered if I could give them an idea if it was likely I would accept. I was gobsmacked! “YES YES YES!” They asked me if I minded if they told the other team members, because the whole team had wanted me to become a full-time volunteer. I said “of course!”. We opened the door and all three of us left the office. Suzie was just outside the door and I remember her looking at me with a quizzical expression.

afterAt 2pm there was a meeting for all the infirmary staff. The supervisor and the director I had been in the office ran through some important information with the whole department. They then asked if everybody knew that there was going to be a new full-time volunteer joining the team. Everyone nodded and affirmed they knew Marta was going to be joining them. Rod shook his head. He said, “haven’t you heard that we are going to have another full-time volunteer?” Everyone was surprised and asked who? Rod and Kevin pointed at me!

I will never forget the reaction of the rest of the team! Everyone was so pleased. I was hugged by everyone. Some of the team said they had been praying for me to be invited in.

What a day that was! That picture right up at the top – the picture prompt – that is just how I felt. Heart-leaping, spirits-soaring, joyful jubilation! That was exactly the way I felt that day! I had never felt so utterly thrilled about anything. After the day was over, I went out to the car and rang my parents and my sisters! Then I drove over to some very close friends I was spending the weekend with. Three girls who I had worked with on many volunteer projects and loved the company of. They were thrilled for me.

Within a month I was living in London, sharing a tiny flat with Marta and Suzie. Three of us sharing a bedroom. Bunk-beds and a wall-bed. We shared a tiny kitchen and bathroom and had a living room which had a two-seater sofa and and armchair and a desk. But we had French doors and a balcony that looked out onto a lovely view of a green park with a cedar tree and a luxury apartments development where footballers, popstars and people had too much money lived next door to us. I still reckon we had a better view than they did as they were looking at our much more modest block of flats!

Moving to London to become a full-time international volunteer was like a dream. It was like coming home…even though I had been happy before.  I was happy on a different level. Everything felt right. The routine, the dignity, the rewarding work, the huge numbers of people I saw and worked with. I found I didn’t miss receiving wages. My main assignment would be in London, but at any point I could be sent elsewhere. I loved the astonishing variety London life offered. I found that I was thriving in this life-style.

I was deeply joyful and content – my life was challenging at times to be sure but deeply satisfying. I was truly happy. And then Jack was invited to become a full-time volunteer…