Tag Archives: inspiration

How Do They Find The Energy?

My morning commute was rather entertaining this week. Bizarrely, every morning a family with small children boarded the same train as I did and sat in the seats on the other side of the central aisle.

My goodness – children are hilarious aren’t they! I mean – you could not pay for that kind of comedy act. Mum looking harassed, reminding a laidback Dad of where he needed to be, at what time, and at which side of the building….all at the same time as she tried to read a story to her little ones – and she was such a great story reader, packing expression and drama into every sentence.

However, it was the children who stole the show. Their non-stop chatter, perfect comic timing, brutal observations – oh my – it was brilliant.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

When I reached the office after my first journey with them, I wrote down some of what I heard. So my delight at seeing them a second and a third time, and being able to listen to the family banter and note down some of the genius remarks from the children – oh it was a little treasure trove of inspiration and I am sure I will be using it in future writing.

But truly, I have no idea how those parents find the energy to accompany those children. I was shattered after a half-hour journey with them.

Why Did The Snail Cross The Road?

I have been asked so many times what my goals are for the new year. They are exactly the same as they were last year, and the year before! I wrote about it one day after I almost squished a snail who was making his way across the pavement in the direction of the road.

This little fella had a very close shave with Caramel today.  It would not have been Crushed Caramel.  It was almost crushed Mr Snail.  Oh so close!  He really was a little fella.  I was very relieved that I noticed a little white blob and then crouched down to realize he was making his way at a reasonable pace across the pavement.  I thought his shell was really pretty.  So much so, that as you see, I was moved to take a little photo to share him with you today.


I was rather concerned though about his general direction.  The little guy was heading away from a very lush green flowery suburban garden and he was set head on towards the road.  Why would the snail want to cross the road?  Should I intervene?  I don’t think he would stand much chance against the Chelsea tractors that rumble along this road.  Should I have picked the little one up and relocated him to another nice patch of greenery?  I had a bit of a moral dilemma…and I am still very doubtful that I did the right thing.  Maybe I was interfering.  Perhaps there was a very important legitimate reason why he would risk his shell to make it to the other side of the road.  I could have set him back from reaching his ultimate goal.

Of course…that made me think about a situation I faced recently.

Next month…it will be three (now it is three and a half) years since I was the victim of a crime, that has knocked my life completely off course. Now I don’t want to talk about that here. But recently a friend told me she had seen some of the men who helped me out after they found out what had happened to me. They used to co-ordinate the projects I was involved in and they often piled a great deal of work onto my plate and asked me to do long long hours.  After they found out I was in hospital after being found by a security guard, they discretely made it possible for me to be absent from the work I was responsible for.  They travelled across the country to visit me while I was staying with my family and I was able to talk a little about what I had been through the night I was attacked.

At the time I appreciated their reassurance that nobody was expecting me to rush my recovery. They made it very clear at the time I can take as long as I need to get back on my feet. You cannot rush someone to overcome a horrific ordeal. They assured me that time was not the issue. They wanted me to do whatever I needed to recover in every way.

My friend had seen these men and she told me that they were asking after me.  It has been a while since I was in touch with them.  What did she tell them?  She told them that I was doing really well, that I seemed happier than she had known in years.  She told them that she thought having a change of scene and a change of pace was really good for me and that I seemed to be thriving.

I know she meant well…

But I ached inside when I thought of what those men must have thought.  They are looking after everything for me.  They are keeping my belongings safe.  All the furniture that I own is there at my accommodation waiting for me to return.  90% of my clothes and shoes are there.  All my family photos and everything precious and sentimental to me is there…waiting for me.  I miss my home…that is my true home.  I miss my career.  I miss my world of friends and the sphere of activity I was very busy within.  I miss it intensely.  I ache to be back there.

I am here, not by choice, but because I needed to recover from what happened to me and build my strength and stamina back up before I can go back to that extremely demanding lifestyle – demanding, but immensely rewarding and satisfying.  It is the most purposeful existence I have ever enjoyed.  Yes, I was sometimes naturally tired after the long hours I put in helping people.  But it gave me a level of joy no other job has given me.

I know my friend loves me and wants what is best for me.  I know she meant well in what she said…but I am now nervous that they might think I prefer being away from that demanding career and the inconveniences of the area I lived in.

I guess I am a bit like that snail.  I am trying to make my way steadily and at a pace that is maintainable to reach my ultimate goal: HOME!  I am worried her words, to those men who care about my welfare so much, might make them think they should not expect me back.  I am so anxious I am going to have to write a letter or an e-mail to let them know I am doing well, but the life I have here is nothing compared to the one I had before.

Some of my friends here find it hard to understand this.  I can see they want me to let go of the past.  They want me to “close a chapter and start a new one”…I have heard that so many times I have a strong dislike for those words.

This is how I have tried to explain things to them:  Imagine a married woman who is the mother of small children.  She loves her family.  She works hard and is tired, but she is content with her purposeful role.  One day an event occurs which separates her from her family.  Imagine she wakes up and is told that it is much too dangerous for her to go back to them right now.  In the meantime, she is provided with a safe and pleasant home and she has interesting work that keeps her busy but is not exhausting.  She is safe, she has everything she needs and much more.  Could that woman really forget where she belongs?  Could she ever forget her true purpose?  Could she forget her family that she loves?

I have to get back to my home, my life, my world…I will march on.  It may take a lot longer than I would have liked. I will be like that snail heading with determination towards the road…heading on a long perhaps arduous journey at a frustratingly slow pace…But I am determined I will make it back to where I belong. One day I hope to make it home, no matter how long it takes. One thing is for sure, there is no way I am going to give up my goal and head in another direction for something that is vanity to me.

Who would have though a little snail could provide so much inspiration?

Once On The Lips…Forever On The Hips

On a cold Tuesday there was nothing better than being welcomed into the kitchen of my Aunt Sal.  “Tuesday Newsday”, as we called it – Aunt Sal was a fountain of information about everyone in town!  On a Monday she would do her weekly food shop and bake a fruit cake.  It was general knowledge that she liked to have visitors on a Tuesday because she had clubs and classes she attended every other day of the week.  No matter how many of us dropped by, she always had enough soup heating in a huge saucepan.  It would be accompanied by wedges of crusty bread with a thick lashing of salted butter.

Aunt Sal was warm and generous and hospitable…the perfect auntie in every way.  I do wish you could meet my Aunt Sal.  I want to tell you about the downstairs water-closet (or bathroom) at my Aunt Sal’s sweet little terraced house.

There is only one way to describe it.  It was a pig-sty to be frank, a total pig-sty!

Literally…a pig-sty.  She had a collection of hundreds of pig ornaments.  She had been collecting little piggy ornaments for decades and this was the throne room for her collection.  Whenever family members would go away on holiday they would bring back tiny pigs in their suitcase…and into the water-closet they would go.  She had a truly international pig collection.

Sometimes we would invite a friend to come and visit Aunt Sal for the first time.  If they asked to use the bathroom, Aunt Sal could never resist saying “Of course, but please forgive me luvvy, it is a bit of a pig-sty!”  We would all look at each other smiling (Aunt Sal’s house was immaculate) and we loved seeing the reaction of our friends when they returned after their discovery of Aunt Sal’s impressive piggy collection.

I remember the pigs vividly…but there was one piggy in that water-closet that has had an influence on my life choices and I have remembered more than any other.  It was a cross-stitch piggy wearing a tutu and in a pirouette pose.  Next to the piggy in needle-work was the phrase “Once on the lips….Forever on the hips!”


For reasons that I guess are fairly obvious…this has been a quote that has stayed with me for years!!!  Arguably it is one of the more influential quotes on my habits and life choices.  There is a lot of talk today about the pressure that glossy magazines, the fashion world, the entertainment industry and the media put on young woman to be super slim. Perhaps that is so…I have never let myself come under the yoke of the media and entertainment industry…and if you had a look through my wardrobe, I am sure you would agree I am in no way influenced by the fashion industry.

There are those who prefer to allow an inordinate quantity of dainty morsels to cross their lips and later to atone for their indulgences by zealous activity in pilates, zumba and nordic walking.  However, I have to maintain a tight grip on my schedule and the size of my girth!

No…the quote that has prodded my culinary conscience and led me away from the path of  cream cakes, doughnuts and crisps or chips or any other scrumptious snack…is from the piggy in Aunt Sal’s water closet: ONCE ON THE LIPS…FOREVER ON THE HIPS.


Many of us are very sad at the news that First Fridays, Daily Prompt and The Community Pool 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.

“ Once on the lips…forever on the hips” –


My nominees are:

The Worldly Microtalesrpress.com



I have loved reading your previous posts and can’t wait to see what you can do with this!

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

I have two more days of the challenge to complete, two more posts, two more quotes…I have been working on…more to come.





Storms And Rainbows

Despite everything that is causing anxiety, it has been an incredible spring. I have had a taste of it each morning and each evening when I am going to work and walking home. I walked down my road the other day listening to birds and admiring the colours of flowers and the scent from the wisteria. The trees are bulging with heavy green foliage.

Background, Beautiful, Bloom, Blossom

It has been glorious. My family are still staying at home. We are helping each other, supporting one another – physically, emotionally, financially and there is no shortage of home entertainment videos.

My boss likes to make sure we end a shift at work with a song and a dance. It is great fun. We need that lift after a hard day at work. I am working again today. I am looking forward to coming home and resting after a busy week at work. Sleep is so delicious of late. I am still sleeping nine or ten hours every night, which is incredible for my body and my brain.

Although I have spent more time than usual on my own of late, I keep on thinking of the incredible people I have met on my voyage through life, people who inspired me and encouraged me to make brave decisions. I spurned the world’s economic system to work full time as an international volunteer. People laughed and asked how I could live without any wages. I lived. I truly lived. I felt rich.

I have been thinking about the Liberian refugees we met in Ghana seventeen years ago. I have been thinking of my cousins who were in Rwanda working on a project with Hutu and Tutsi volunteers when violence engulfed the region. I have been thinking of Katrina, who I cared for until she took her last breaths – she was one of the most beautifully hearted people I have ever known. I am so grateful that my life has been so rich with people who have taught me that even in the most terrifying of situations, unexpected acts of love and self-sacrifice arise.

Even in storms there are people who help you see rainbows everywhere you look.

Rainbow, Thunderstorm, Storm Clouds


Manchester -In A Heat Wave

What you do when your feet start to suffer because of the icky sticky oooey goooey consequences of walking for miles on concrete paths in the city during a heat wave?  (I have been wearing summer dresses and ballet pumps.)

You head straight to the nearest shoe shop and beg them for help.  Lo and behold!  They found me these delightful sandals.  Let me hype them for a moment…Lovely thick chunky sole, great for walking, rose gold soft leather straps on upper of sandal that does not rub your tootsies.  OFFICE (that is the name of the shoe shop) you saved me from sore feet misery!


At this point I must mention that it was Stephen T Stephen T the creator of Armageddon Cafe who inspired me to share my feet with you!  He was brave enough to publish a photo of his own fine feet for the whole blogging world to see in his post below:


If Stephen was brave enough, so am I!  (Any complaints about my feet can be forwarded directly to Mr Stephen T himself.)

Well this is Manchester in a heat wave:


I am going to admit that the heat is getting to me a bit now.  I have been guzzling so much water and oddly, it doesn’t seem to need to escape.  It does not bear thinking about.

Today we arrived at Victoria Train Station and saw the Manchester Evening News Arena for the first time since the explosion that killed twenty-two who had been attending a concert last year.

We packed a lot into our day in Manchester and we walked all the way down to the other end of Oxford Road – which was only possible because I had my new sandals.  We packed in shopping, museums, and a restaurant in the evening.

sorbet in coneWe also had time to visit a gelateria.  I was gasping at this point.  I had not eaten anything all day because of the heat but I was craving some wonderful refreshment.  They had three dairy-free sorbets.  I asked for a waffle cone.  I knew I wanted the mango sorbet for certain. In the end I asked for a big scoop of the lemon sorbet on the top because it sounded so refreshing.  Don’t tell my Goldfinch, it is our little secret.  It was so so delicious.  Totally did the trick and energised me for our trek down to the Manchester Museum and beyond.

I am preparing a post about my rebellious blip as a teenager.  I remember having a lot of mixed up emotions, but those emotions settled once I found something that gave me a sense of purpose and a positive outlook.  I was needed and useful and was able to work as a volunteer with hundreds of happy and interesting people.  Nonetheless, there were at least nine months when I was difficult for my parents.  It did not last, and it is buried history.  But the post I am working on will contain more details about my first affiliation with Manchester.

But right now I want to share a memory of Manchester that is still vivid in my mind over twenty years later.  It is an event which almost shocked me out of childhood and made me aware that no matter how much I looked for the positives, this world needs changes on a large scale.

One Saturday in June 1996, my Mum allowed my sister and I to go shopping inshopping Manchester on our own.  This was quite a big token of trust.  I was fourteen at the time.  My sister Mandy was twelve but she was already two inches taller than me.  I had been to Manchester before, but Mum did not know that (…I had gone with a school friend when we should have been at school).  So my parents were hesitant about allowing us to go, but I begged and pleaded.  I was about to start working in Manchester (doing little insignificant tasks and running errands) and I wanted to buy some clothes as I could not wear my school uniform at a record company.  My Dad realized that if I was going to have to catch the bus and then the train into Manchester every time I was working, I may as well have a trial run of going into the city and learning the travel routes.

Of course my parents gave me a huge lecture on safety.  Looking back, I guess allowing a fourteen and a twelve year old to head into a busy city without an adult was quite a big deal.  We did not have mobile phones.  But we knew how to use a pay-phone if there was any trouble. Both of us were tall and looked older than our age, especially Mandy.

victoria station.jpgWe were so excited.  We woke up bright and early that morning and set out on our adventure.  We arrived at Manchester’s Victoria Station at around 8.30am.  We walked from there along the main road to Marks and Spencers and then crossed the road and headed into TopShop.  I spent all my money in TopShop, River Island and Bay.  It was perhaps only half past nine when I realized I did not have enough money to buy any more clothes.  But I am pretty certain I did buy Mandy and I an ice-cream in a cone. Without money we had no idea what we would do for the rest of the day in the city.

We discussed it and decided we may as well just go straight home and then we could go out and play with our friends.

As we walked away from the Arndale Shopping Center in the direction of Marks and Spencers, I said to Mandy, “There seem to be a lot of police around this morning.”

Mandy’s reply, “Duh!  It is a city, of course there are a lot of police around!”

Wham!!  Suddenly a police woman had crashed into me and I was on the floor clinging with all my might to my shopping bags.  I was not sure what had happened.  The police woman helped me up and apologised.

police tapeWe were just about to turn right to head back to Victoria Station when a police man unravelling police tape barred our way and told us we were not allowed to go that way. We asked the police man which other routes would take us to Victoria Station.  He said he was not sure, but he told us firmly, “you need to evacuate this area immediately.  Just head in the opposite direction calmly, but you need to turn around and head away from here.”

Mandy and I were obedient, we were just a bit worried because we did not know our way around the city center.  As we hesitated, we saw people arguing with the same police man.  One man kept insisting he had to cross the police tape because he needed to return his library book.  Another man who was so enraged that he could not go past, started to rant and yell and exclaim, “it’s not as if there is a bomb or something!”

We felt sorry for the police man, but it was not long before other police staff joined him. Mandy and I started walking up past the Arndale Shopping Center again.  I can’t remember which road we turned down but eventually we managed to find our way back through side streets and down to Victoria Station.  We boarded the train back to Wigan and then caught the bus to our home.

When we walked through our front door…well, you should have seen the look on Mum and Dad’s face!

It turns out that we had caught the last train out of Manchester.  We had no idea until they told us and sat us in front of the television to watch the news, that a van that had been parked outside Marks and Spencers (a van we had walked past twice that morning) containing a bomb had exploded and had ripped an enormous hole out of Manchester City Center.  The shops I had bought my clothes in had been destroyed.

Manchester bomb.jpg

There are a heap of videos online showing the explosion of the van.  I found them upsetting to watch, so I did not want to post anything that was too disturbing.  But here is a photo of the area Mandy and I had criss-crossed several times that morning, after the catastrophe caused by the biggest bomb that had been detonated in Britain since the Second World War,

It was such a bizarre surreal feeling.  I found it odd that Mandy and I had no idea of the danger, we had calmly left the city and had been completely oblivious to what was going on behind us.  Apparently, there were no fatalities that day, but there were two hundred people injured and just a massive amount of damage.  Manchester City Center became a construction site for the next few years.

I walked through that area again several times when I visited Manchester with my friends this week.  I have vivid memories of that day and I remember how they effected me for many months to come – I do think that event spring-boarded me into my little rebellious blip.  I just had a lot of mixed up feelings about what had happened.  I expressed it by being difficult for the next nine months.  By March 1997 it was all over and I never looked back.

Since that day I have worked as a steward at large events and due to two bomb scares while I was at work we have had to evacuate thousands of people.  I always took the training we had seriously and remember how clearly spoken and firm you have to be with people when you give them instructions to leave the area quickly but calmly.

There was one image I really wanted to share with you:


It felt kind of special seeing this little red fella again.  You may not be able to make out words on the plaque, but basically they indicate that this red post box survived the bombing almost undamaged.  During the rebuilding of Manchester City Center, it was relocated and then once the construction had progressed enough they brought the same post box back to it’s original site.

I hope I don’t need to explain the inspiration this little red fella gives.

This post is dedicated to all those who face a catastrophe and have to keep going.  Some of us may have needed to take a bit of time out to get our heads around what has happened.  But now others will look to us as a pillar of strength and inspiration for what we have survived (almost undamaged).

Sadly, the explosion last year at the Manchester Arena did result in twenty-two fatalities and many more injuries.  I know it must be tough for those who were there that night.  I remember my own emotions back in 1996.  How much more so must those who lost loved ones in 2017.

Oh for a world that does not have to deal with fear and terror.

All my love….from Caramel in Manchester…xx