Not Dropping My Guard

Something happened on my way out of work last week. One of my colleagues noticed my engagement ring and asked me about it. I panicked. I did confirm that since the end of October I have been engaged to be married to Jack. But I started waffling about the drama we have faced in the past and my reasons for being discreet about our plans for the future.

Girl, Woman, Young, Beautiful, Makeup, Hair, Person

I guess I panicked because over the past eighteen months, I have felt scared to lose this wonderfulness. I have genuinely felt afraid that something awful could tear Jack and me apart again. I know a lot of it is psychological – but there are a range of safety guards and defence systems I have put up to keep my relationship with Jack intact.

Some of that includes just not talking too much about our life, and not allowing people who don’t know him know who he is. I know that some people do the most crazy things when excited by the thought of being within reach of a celebrity. I am hostile to anyone potentially ruining our happiness or jeopardising our security.

The colleague who saw my engagement ring is a very sweet and lovely person – I adore her. Yet, I panicked. I panicked because I have learn from the past seven/eight years of knowing Jack personally that other people are unpredictable. I cannot control their behaviour. In the past some people who I adored and thought were kind people and thought were my friends ended up contributing to the spread of false and harmful gossip about us.

I guess it is because I cannot control what other people do, that I fight to keep some control myself. It’s not nice, but hiding, being discreet and even secretive, and retaining strict control on how much information about my personal life I am willing to share – it makes me feel safer. I know it runs the risk of alienating lovely people. But I have a wonderful network of people who know Jack and me and I feel safe within. I am super careful of how much I share with anyone who does not already know us.

There may come a time when it no longer matters – like maybe when Jack and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary maybe? Until then – I think I am going to be guarding my precious relationship, one that was salvaged from a terrible shipwreck and then lovingly restored. Jack and I have something that many would have thought impossible. I am not going to risk that.

If You Could See What I Can See When I’m Cleaning Windows

WINDOW CLEANING – arguably the best job in the world!  Today…it is my job to clean all of the inside windows of this beautiful five storey house.  I don’t normally stop to look at the view so much but already today I have gained a great deal of inspiration for future posts.

Right now…I want to tell you about one of the most loved window-cleaners in the whole of England…MY DAD!

Window Cleaning

(No…my Dad is not George Formby…if you are not sure who George Formby is, then either scroll down to the bottom of the page, or listen to this very famous track on YouTube.)

I mentioned in another post that during our school holidays, we often had to go to work with Dad.  Since I was born, Dad has been a window-cleaner. I have very fond memories. I remember having the job of carrying “the little ladder” and always had some “scrims” in my pockets (they were the cloths used for mopping up water from sills etc or for cleaning Georgian window panels). Dad gave us tasks so that we felt useful. During a day of window cleaning we might carry things, or wipe any sills we could reach, or hold back plants away from the window so Dad could clean them easily. Sometimes, Dad would ask us to run ahead and ring the doorbell and when the house-holder opened the door we would politely tell them, “the window-cleaner has almost finished and he says it is £4.50 please”.

window cleanerSome of Dad’s customers have seen his little ones growing up.  At the age of five or six, I used to wear red wellington boots and a green woolly bobble hat. One day I lost my bobble hat and was very tearful about it. Dad allowed me to join him on the Friday evening when he visited any customers who had not been home that week to collect any payments they owed him. I asked every customer if they had seen my green bobble hat. Imagine my relief when one lady said she had found it in her garden and had recognized it immediately and had kindly kept it safe until the window-cleaner came again.

Dad’s customers were very kind to us. They often invited us inside to play with their children, or sat us on their sofa and allowed us to watch a cartoon film. We were well supplied by Dad’s customers with juice and biscuits.  They would even give us some money to buy sweets.

Dad’s customers loved him and his little team of helpers.

Now…my daddy is 72 years old…officially he has retired. However, he still goes window-cleaning for one or two days a week so that he can afford a holiday in the sun with my lovely mum once a year. (Their last holiday abroad was in March 2020!)

72 years old!  Not only is he still window-cleaning, but he goes to the gym three times a week…he uses his free bus pass to get to the gym. I love what he does when he is on the tread-mill.  If a younger man starts on the tread-mill next to him, my Dad will start “racing” with him. I have even seen my Dad lean over and nudge the arm of a complete stranger on the neighbouring tread-mill and call out “I’ll have yer a race!”  Better still, he is usually the winner.

Which makes me smile for so many reasons.

Working for wealthy people has made me wonder many times:

There are people who who sit at a desk all day and then pay a monthly gym membership fee to try to keep in shape. My Dad has been going up ladders for all these years and he is incredibly fit. It is only since he has started to received his pension that he has decided to join a gym.

I have often observed that there are some people who “own” huge and beautiful houses…who don’t really spend much time in their homes because they are at work paying off the mortgage. Whereas their house-keeper spends many hours in their home and knows every nook and cranny of it. Some house-keepers cook for hours in a top-of -the range kitchen that their employer has paid for, but never even heated a tin of tomato soup in themselves.

Then there are the parents who have children who they hardly ever spend time with. The nanny is bringing up the children. Now, I am not talking about those who have little choice about this – due to circumstances. Some parents have to work so many hours just to provide a roof and food and clothing for the family that a baby-sitter or nanny is an essential part of the team. But I am talking about some of the super-wealthy I have worked for, mum is off to have her nails done and go to yoga and Pilates and a shopping trip and lunch with the girls…and the nanny is with the children. I saw this day after day and  I always found it a bit odd. I am not sure what the point of that is.  Is not the point of having a child to be able to teach them and shape their little minds and hearts them with all of the wonderful lessons in life that you have learnt? How can you do that if you see them so infrequently?  Who is there to take the child to school? To care for the child when they have chicken pox? To listen to the little one pour out their heart about their trials and tribulations at school? Why – the nanny! Respect to nannies everywhere!

walking dog.pngNow this is one of the oddest situations I have been in that still strikes me as kind of hilariously upside down. I lived for a few years in an idyllic location. Six months of the year the owners of a stunning estate would travel. My job was to live in their huge and frightfully luxurious house.  I was not paid a penny to do so, but neither did I pay any rent or bills. I was “security”. I was allowed to view their home as my home. I was allowed to swim in their swimming pool each day.  I was allowed to use their tennis courts whenever I wanted to. I was able to walk their dog throughout their woodlands and meadows. They wanted me to drive each of their five cars to make sure everything was alright with them. Even better, I was allowed to have my friends over. They wanted there to be people coming in and out of their property to deter potential burglars. Of course I did also have to make sure that if anything went wrong that I contacted a plumber or an electrician or the vet. Other than that, my only work was cleaning up after myself. I was heavily involved in voluntary projects so this living arrangement suited me perfectly. But it did seem incredibly ironic…there were young professionals in the area who had been through university and obtained top degrees and were now working hard in their chosen career…they could only afford a tiny bedsit.  I was working on an unpaid basis for charities and then earning my food money with a couple of cleaning and dog-walking jobs…I was living in luxury. The owners of that estate trusted me with almost everything they owned.

Window Cleaning with Dad has definitely taught me to think outside of the box. His example has taught me that if you are reliable and diligent and industrious and most of all a TRUSTWORTHY worker…then rather than worrying about climbing a career ladder…

…well…let’s just say: “If only you could see what I could see when I’m cleaning windows!”

PS…Did I almost forget to mention George Formby? The very inspiration to this post!!! I was listening to it today when I was working away cleaning the windows.

Another blogger – hold on moment…let me get her name right…Thechaoticmind…she has a post listing a great selection of five songs that will cheer you up on any day…below is a link straight to her site…I loved her choice of songs – perfect pick-me-ups for any down day…

….but I would be pleased to make George Formby number six on the list…are you rolling your eyes at me???

https://thechaoticmindandmore.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/five-songs-through-generations-to-get-you-through-your-worst-days/

A Walk In The Woods

CARAMEL'S CORNER

Today I am reviewing a marvellous book penned by Esther Chilton, the creator of estherchiltonblog. This beautiful story book “A Walk In The Woods” (front cover art work by talented Charlotte Newton) is a book I have admired greatly from the moment my paperback copy arrived.

As I began to read this exquisite collection of stories, my thoughts applauded what I was reading. I just kept thinking to myself, “My! Esther is such a clever writer!” Why do I say that. Well, besides the obvious quality, perfect editing and quality production than shine throughout the book, Esther’s style in her short stories is notable. Each finely crafted story has impact.

Before I started blogging, I never read flash fiction or short stories, I only ever read long dramatic epic novels. I have marvelled at the talent of so many writers who know how to craft a meaningful story in few yet precisely chosen and arranged words and phrases. Well Esther’s short stories in “A Walk In The Woods” are a model of telling a powerful tale, often with an unexpected twist or a pithy veridical conclusion.

As I would expect from Esther, “A Walk In The Woods” excellently showcases her talent as a writer and editor. Not only will readers enjoy her compilation of stories, but also admire Esther’s superb crafting. Esther Chilton really is such a very clever writer!!!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Waiting For The Results

I spend one hour a week waiting – slightly anxiously. If you recognise the items in the picture below, you will have already guessed what it is I am waiting for.

Twice a week, patient facing NHS staff, care providers and other health workers take what many know as a Lateral Flow Test or a Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test to detect if we might be carrying …you know. If we test positive, we would be sent for a different kind of test that is more accurate.

So far my results have been negative, negative, negative. Looking at this picture you might be unsure because it looks as if the red line is between the C and the T, but if the camera was directly over the test cartridge you would see that it is on C – which means negative.

This is the new routine. I have not had any symptoms of the virus. But whether or not we have symptoms (as we know there are a lot of people who have the virus and have no symptoms) we still test and then we report the results on the government website. We are getting used to the new routine.

We have all had to do things we have never done before, we have all had to make small adjustments and major changes. We have all made sacrifices. We have all felt a little nervous. It is strange for us. Having a swab stuck up both of your nostrils twice a week and waiting for the results is not something I relish. But it is important. So is wearing that face mask, washing those hands and staying at home (unless you are taking your local daily exercise, picking up essential shopping or you cannot work from home – key workers certainly cannot!)

I think it’s obvious that many are feeling weary of the pandemic – but I promise you – any weariness you may be feeling is nothing compared to the way NHS staff feel after a shift of more than twelve hours on their feet and donned in full PPE, seeing people suffering agony.

So please….please stick at it. Stick to the rules. Don’t look for loopholes or look at other people who are breaking or bending the rules. Please just stay home and stay safe.

A New Workout Routine?

Spider, Web, Hairy, Repairing Web

I was watching a video of Nat King Cole a couple of days ago for my SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY choice and at the end YouTube made some suggestions for what I might be interested in next. What did they think Caramel might enjoy watching?

Here it is:

The way she moves at the start of her routine is….what’s the word creepy/fantastic! I love it. Suddenly I feel as if I need to be able to dance like that – that would be one cool party trick! Parties – do you remember them?

Winter In Wales

Wales, Uk, Nature, Mountain, Outdoor, Hills, Britain

I have received some beautiful photos of Snowdonia taken recently. There are few places I love more than North Wales. Even in winter, it is wonderful place to be. It is always a pleasure to see the Welsh half of the family – well this time only a handful of them. Passing through villages and towns where I have many friends and wishing I could pop in for a cup of tea and a slice of Bara Brith.

It’s hard to explain the huge difference between Snowdonia and London. I am only in London because of the charities I work for having so much work to do here. But London, like most cities, is a crazy way to live.

Whenever I have spent time in Wales, it strikes me as complete madness that we have these awful concrete jungles we call cities. I think we will need to disband them at some point. They obscure the beauty of life.

I am so sad I missed the chance to visit my family in Wales during 2020. However – I must look ahead to the future!

CARAMEL’S CORNER 2020

Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/climbing-over-grit/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/let-love-speak/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/preposterous-tales-from-the-newbury-short-story-teller/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/managing-the-depression-puzzle/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/wish-upon-a-leaf/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/heart-songs/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/zion/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/21/swinging-sanity/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/we-hide-what-we-hate-about-ourselves-2/

There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Consider The Context

Aquatic, Background, Beautiful, Beauty

Please don’t examine me so closely

Please don’t analyse my every shade

In the stark light of this cold world

Devoid of warmth and colour

Take a few steps back if you will know me at all.

View me in the context of my family

Together we are a vibrant shot of life

A pretty and kindly haven of joy

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 10-monet-painting.preview.jpg

Look at me in the greater scheme of things

How I interact in my world of friends

How I bloom even during dark days

Dancing with glee in the kaleidoscope I play in

View me as a tiny yet wonderful ingredient

In this grand and splendid universe of delight

I am only who I am due to a lifetime of others

Who’ve coloured every moment of my existence

My homage to all who have made me “me” and made me happy to be me

Attention Please…

…I have an announcement to make! It’s about the scheduling of posts on my blog over the next few weeks.

Laptop, Computer, Business, Table, Paper, Flowers

I have a thousand ideas, and literally over two hundred unfinished posts in my drafts folder. But I really do have an frightfully busy month ahead and I think I need to give attention to some projects at home I have been neglecting.

Therefore…over the next few weeks I will be balancing my blog out with some fresh content – CARAMEL’S CORNER BOOK REVIEWS and SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY – with some republishing of some of my older posts. That will just help me to take the breather I need at the moment to get on top of everything and also everyone who would like some attention from me right now.

So….are you ready for some highlights from CARAMEL (LEARNER AT LOVE) published over the last two and a half years? I truly hope you enjoy these flashback posts as much as I do!

Anticipation Building…

Flowers, Plants, Blooms, Bird, Wildlife, Landscape

If there is one thing that is going to help me get through the next couple of months it is my building excitement over the return of spring!!! Perhaps you feel that way too?

Just think no matter what has occurred in human history – all manner of trials or hardships – nothing has stopped the march of the seasons. Spring is coming, just as sure as the sun rises each day! It makes me ripple with pleasure at the thought of what is ahead!!!!!!!!

Soon the long hard winter of man’s rule will have passed and life will return! Then there will be a celebration like no other!