Lessons In Love And Life

It has taken me a while, but I have just about managed to complete my SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post. Here is Melanie’s (Melanie is the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind) original post below:



What does a successful relationship look like to you?

That is a good question Melanie!

I am no expert on relationships. I have many successful friendships. But I don’t have a huge amount of romantic relationship experience. There was my teenage sweetheart. We courted for years, but when I was around 24/25, I realized there were sound reasons I felt I should end the courtship before we married.

After that…the next few years were a bit odd. I went on dates. I developed some close friendships with male friends. Two men proposed to me during the next few years. Both I said no to for good reasons. We were heading in completely different directions. In addition, the dynamics would not have worked. I need to respect the man I marry, I need someone whose qualities I admire and I need to be able to trust they have their head screwed on. I need someone to make decisions, decisions which I will support and help to be successful. Both of those men were in awe of me and the pace I set as a volunteer. They also loved my accommodation, which was gorgeous.

Then there was Jack. I have to admit, I was exhausted by what happened with Jack. It drove me to despair. Even now I am not sure what exactly went wrong. But I am certain that it was partly because communication broke down between us. We were both too concerned with what others thought and said. After  was attacked that night in the park by a stranger, it was hard to imagine ever being close to a man again. I did try, but it was not right.

IMG_20180722_123051 (2)Along came Goldfinch two and a half years after I was attacked. After a wonderful thirteen months with him, he went home to Australia. He wanted me to be open-minded about meeting someone else and falling in love. I went on two dates with a guy and was physically sick (of course now I realize there was a reason I was struggling with sickness quite a lot around that time).

I can’t contemplate right now the whole meeting someone new and falling in love scenario. I am not adamant that it will never happen. But I don’t want to put any effort into pursuing it. For the moment I am content with being in love with my gorgeous Australian penpal and visiting him whenever I can.

What is a successful relationship? Two people who have a positive effect on each other? Add to each other’s security and make each other thrive?

I guess love and trust and communication have to be major elements. Forgiveness. Appreciation for each other and realistic expectations. Two people who can have fun together and also show concern and care for each other. Loyalty.

But I do think…even the most successful couples will have to be prepared that there can be other heartaches that will cause great grief and pain.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning medal for?


When Goldfinch allowed me to put his clothes through the washing machine after he travelled back from abroad…I believe he was kind of amused when I ironed not just his shirts, but everything that I could iron, even his underwear and handkerchiefs.

What do you wish you knew more about?

Oh wow – so much!

This planet has so many fascinating creatures and locations. I wish I could study them.


I would love to know more about gardening and cultivating crops. I wish I were more skilled and could make clothes, curtains, Roman blinds, and furniture.

I wish I knew more about Goldfinch. I would love to know him inside out.

What is better in your opinion – asking for forgiveness or permission?

Oh it depends!

When I worked in pharmacy, I remember having to reign in the enthusiasm of some of the new staff I was training. They couldn’t wait to get involved in the dispensing process of prescription only medication or controlled drugs. But we had to be strict that they should not go beyond what they have been trained and authorised to do. If you cause someone to become seriously ill or die because you do something without an awareness of the dangers – you may ask for forgiveness, but it might be hard to forgive yourself.

But in general life, you might not  need to be so uptight about rules and regulations. If you are a hesitant person, always holding back, never being decisive etc – maybe some would encourage you to be more bold in life. Do things. “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

But I would be a bit wary of someone who uses that as their mantra and is regularly manifesting a disregard for the rights of others, flouting authority.

People have such different attitudes towards rules today. I love rules. Rules make me feel secure. I am happy to obey them. So when I am genuinely not aware of a rule and I make a decision or take an action and later on find out I had done something wrong, then I would ask forgiveness. Did I ever tell you about my friend who ended up in trouble when she was in Ireland for face-painting at children’s parties etc? She did not know she was supposed to apply for some kind of face-painting permit.

If I feel there is any possibility of me encroaching on the rights of others, I would ask permission. I would not borrow something of someone else’s without asking first. I don’t just presume. Unless it is a family member or friend who I have known for years and who I know would probably find it ridiculous for me to be worrying about their permission.

Hope you’ll forgive me, but I feel it’s time for a song!


What’s the best thing about your life right now?

My family still hold the number one spot for the best thing in my life!


Crazy Hectic Days Are Here

I have always had quite a busy life, especially so in London. But right now…it’s all chock-a-blocka!!

I think I am going to have to move down a gear with regards my blogging. Don’t worry, I am by no means losing any enthusiasm for the writing and the very lovely blogging community. It’s just that a lot is happening in the world of Caramel. I seem to have been doing more running round recently and life is feeling rather jam-packed.

I have mentioned a few things in posts recently, but here is basically what is going to be gobbling up more of my time:

  • I have a close family member who is very ill. So I will be travelling to see my family more frequently. Each time it is a round trip of over 450 miles via public transport. It takes me almost six hours to get there on the train.
  • I am saving extra pennies for my trip to Australia to see gorgeous Goldfinch. So I am saying yes to any overtime that is offered.
  • I am not slowing down with any of the volunteer projects I am involved in.
  • I have three weddings to attend before I go to Australia.
  • I have to make sure I have enough sleep – my head pain is bullying me and I find that the less sleep I have the worse it is. I need around ten hours of sleep each night to be able to function normally. I also have a couple of appointments coming up within the neurology hospital who are looking after me now – hmm.
  • A lot of my friends who do unpaid volunteer work overseas nine months of each year are coming back to England to work for three months (to earn the money to go and volunteer for another nine months). I have had several requests if they can stay over after arriving at Heathrow or Gatwick before they travel to their family. I have five weekends when I will be hosting friends throughout April and May.
  • There just seems to be more going on at the moment. More invites to spend time walking with friends or attending events. I am saying yes to everything that is free! And no to anything that would eat into my Australia fund.

In short, I think I am going to seem a bit quiet compared to normal and I will also be a bit slow with responding to prompts and nominations. I love being tagged for various blogging challenges. I really do. However, I already have nine posts in my drafts folder which are nominations or tags from other bloggers. I will do them and I will enjoy working on them. However, please do be patient with me because…I am finding I have less and less time spare.

In addition…I need to eat. I am on a strict budget at the moment due to my Australia fund, so as I cannot survive on a cup-a-soup diet, I am accepting every invite out to dinner I receive! I have some great foodie friends who love nothing better it would seem than hearing me drool over their culinary creation and tell them how delicious their cooking is.

I am still around and will try to keep up with posts in my WP Reader (but I know I have fallen behind). I will try to work on posts when I do have a little time.


I Have Bookmarked This Chapter

spring 1

During the past few weeks, I managed to squeeze in a journey across the country with a special little box. I have not thought a lot about that trip. It was so rushed. I had a purpose, a mission. Mission completed, I returned to London. Quickly, I was back to the hustle and bustle. I didn’t have time to contemplate what had just happened.

But it’s times when I have a moment to pause, when I think of her in that little box, fast asleep in a very beautiful location near to people I love. I feel relief. She is somewhere special to me.

A special chapter in my life. A chapter that came as a surprise and instigated great excitement. A chapter that did not end the way I would have hoped, but instead, a tearful ending. I will often pick up the book with the stories of my life, and flick back through the pages to this chapter and remember  the intricate details, the intricate moments, every nuance, every emotion, all the drama, all the trauma.

But I feel a sense of peace.

And The Verdict Is: Not-Guilty!

After yet another shaky morning, I had to go hospital again. I had so many plans for Monday…and most of them had to be postponed. Yet…it’s a necessary part of my life right now. The NHS are doing their best to keep me alive and kicking, and free to enjoy life’s many pleasures. So really it is incumbent upon me to make sure I do enjoy life – is it not!

This is my SHARE-YOUR-WORLD post for this week and here is the original post from Melanie, creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind:




Do You Have Any Guilty Pleasures?

It’s so rare that I buy a packet of vegetable crisps, I don’t feel any guilt at all when I do buy a bag and devour them after a long day at work. That’s not my only pleasure in life! Far from it…but I have a bag of vegetable crisps in the cupboard. I am just not hungry enough to eat them yet.

pleasure (2)pleasure (3)

I try not to feel guilty about pleasures, because life should be a pleasure. But I think that in order to enjoy life properly you ought to be balanced. Work is a wonderful part of life, and I find it very satisfying. Sleep and rest are vital and without them, you would not be very productive during your working hours. It’s very important to have some time for things you enjoy, things that refresh you and energise you or help you relax and de-stress.

With regards food…well, as long as you are balanced, there should be room for treats. To me food is like fuel. If you are going to burn off the calories you put into your body, then enjoy them. But if you are not active and want to sit on the sofa in front of the television eating crisps and cake – well…I don’t know if it’s guilt you should feel, but it’s not showing appreciation for your body. I love food. If I feel I have eaten more than I should, I try to be a bit more active, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or squeeze in a brisk walk whenever I can. So I am not going to feel guilty about the rare bag of vegetable crisps that are my favourite treat.

Are there any pleasures I feel guilty about? Not really. I work hard. Most of the work I do is unpaid, as a volunteer. The pleasures I enjoy are generally simple inexpensive pleasures – and they are an important part of my life. I take enormous pleasure in creation. There is nothing so delightful to me as having the time to wander down country lanes, breathing in the aromas of spring and summer and feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Nothing so wonderful as sitting high up on the sand dunes on the National Trust beach near Formby, and watching the sun set. Nothing as romantic as lying in the grass wrapped up in the arms of the man I love, counting white clouds travel across the blue sky.

What Is The Worst Pick Up Line You Ever Heard?  

I think the pick up lines that were the worst were the ones I did not understand, because I was an innocent. When I was younger so much went over my head. From the perfectly polite “do you want to get your coat now?” (I didn’t understand what the guy meant, I thought he was telling me to go and sit back down with my friends, where my coat was)…to some overtly suggestive lines, which I did not understand because frankly, I am a princess and my mind is not like the filthy gutter-snipes who were chatting me up. There have been times when the breakdown in communication resulted in me wandering off, simply because I was baffled.

I like men to be straight, not to mess around with clever lines. If they like me, they just need to say that they are enjoying themselves and would like to spend more time with me. But for me safety is a huge huge issue. Especially after the crime I was victim of. I need to feel safe and to trust a man. Goldfinch made me feel safe. Goldfinch just made it clear that he liked my company and would like to spend more time with me. It wasn’t complicated. And being treated like a princess – I’m not talking about anything over-the-top, just opening doors for me, helping me on with my coat, and holding my hand or linking my arm when we are walking together…all those gestures make me feel I am safe.

What Slang Or Trend Makes You Feel Old?

I don’t feel old yet. I am not very up-to-date with technology, but that is a deliberate choice. The only thing that sometimes makes me feel old is when I refer to something that a young person has never heard of. Last week, I said to someone that the task I had to do at work was like a Krypton Factor challenge. They did not have a clue what I was talking about!

What Do You Consider The Most Over-rated Song?

I don’t know. I guess there are songs that seem to have way too much air-time on the radio. But I rarely listen to the radio. It’s only two afternoons a week when I arrive at work when the radio is on. As soon as my manager has left, I turn the radio off, because I can’t concentrate on my work with the music and chatter on in the background.

There is a song that Jack and his friends used to sing at me – and I mean at me. I never understood why he decided it was the anthem to attribute to his connection with me. I heard it so many times. I have walked into parties, functions, training meetings and charity events and heard Jack’s friends start to whistle it, or hum it or even play the song on one of their phones, as soon as I was near. A couple of Jack’s colleagues confessed they had put together a playlist for Jack of songs that told the story of him and I. I was so fed up of it all. I did like this song, before Jack and his friend’s decided to attach it to my presence:

Instead of a Tender Mercies question, here’s a philosophical one instead:

You Find A Book And Begin To Read Only To Discover That It Is Your Life. You Get To The Point That You Are At Now, Do You Turn The Page Knowing That You Will Not Be Able To Change The Events To Come?

The next page is blank. My future life has not happened yet. It is not written down because anything might happen. There are decisions I can make that will effect my future life. Although there are major events on the world scene that are written down (the future of the United Nations, the religious, political and commercial empires of this world), the details of my life and the choices I will make are not written down.

I have free will, which plays a major role in determining how my life will turn out. It is largely up to me to write my own life story, rather than feeling it has already been written for me. There are situations that may occur which nobody could predict, as I know from experience. How I react to them is part of my life-story.

Harsh And Beautiful



Harsh and beautiful at once

Cold yet spectacular

Rugged but serene

There are days when life can be hard to fathom

You are always there to settle my disquiet

I would be lost without you



Everyone Adored Him

On the road we call life, we pass many people. Some only briefly share the road with us. But all will leave their mark on us in some way.

I think most would agree that leaving primary school and starting high school at the age of eleven is frankly terrifying! When other students are friendly and help to put you at your ease you are so grateful.

One of the most super-friendly students in our high school was Carl Sanderson. He was a handsome young man. But what everyone would remember him for, was his smile. When I was eleven, and beginning high school as a Year Seven student, Carl was fourteen starting Year Ten of high school. He was friendly with everyone, not just me. Yet it made such a difference to know there was a friendly face and a cheerful smile, belonging to a fellow student who was going to look out for me.

On my first morning of high school, while I stood nervously at the bus-stop waiting for the bus to arrive, he was one of the few that said hello. At the end of the day he saw me again and asked me how was my first day of school. How many of the older students care to ask a younger kid how they got on during their first day of school?

I quickly realized that Carl was one of those boys who was everyone’s friend. Everyone adored him. He was soooo cute (too old for me to worry about how cute he was). The teachers clearly were very fond of Carl too.

I don’t have many memories of Carl in all honesty. Just that he was super friendly and always had a smile and a greeting for you. I wish I had more to tell you about him. It kind of makes me angry that I know so little about this lovely young man. After I had been at school for a few weeks something happened that shocked me and the whole school.

Carl Sanderson was killed when a motor cycle hit him. The driver was speeding of course. I was told he was travelling at around 80 miles per hour when he hit Carl. Apparently Carl died at the scene. He had been crossing that road on the way to collect a younger sibling from school.

Carl made an impression on me in the short time that I knew him. I realized how much it means when you are nervous or alone, to be greeted by a warm friendly smile. I realized how much it means when another human takes the time to show interest in you. During the brief acquaintance I enjoyed with him, it struck me how warming and encouraging another person can be just by their friendliness. I decided I wanted to be like Carl.

When I look back at the brief time Carl and I were at the same point along the road of life together, I still draw inspiration from that lovely boy and remember how it feels when a warm and friendly face shows a little personal interest in you.

I would love to meet Carl again one day and to be able to tell him that despite our brief acquaintance, I had never forgotten him and had actually tried to be more like him.


Making Life Taste Sweeter

I have always loved the SHARE-YOUR-WORLD questions provided by Melanie the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind. No matter what kind of a week I have had, it always cheers me up working on these posts. Melanie has provided some great questions again this week:



What’s the first thing you notice about a person?

I had not really thought about that. When I lived up north, I think the first thing I used to notice about a person was how they were dressed. But then I moved to London. I stopped noticing how people were dressed because frankly, every shade of weird and wonderful is here in London. People really do seem to wear whatever they want.

So thinking about it, as I walk down a busy high street, what I notice about people is whether they are smiling. I have noticed there are a lot of people who look unhappy, tired, stressed and disconnected.

When I do see a smile it lifts my heart.

We need more smiles please!

What three habits do you feel would improve someone’s life?

Think about what you can do to make your life one big thank you every day. Live life in a way that shows you appreciate it, by looking after your body and enjoying creation. Make time for the natural world – there is so much beauty and incredible wisdom to be seen in creation. Observe creation closely.

Don’t complicate your life with too many things. Keep life simple. Try not to pay attention to all these commercial advertisements. The cost is often greater than the worth of many material things. Avoid debt. It’s lovely to have a stress free life because you are not a slave to debt.

Think about to whom you can show love and kindness each day. It does not have to be big gestures that are expensive. Do what you can. That might be something practical like washing the dishes or emptying the rubbish bins. Or sending text messages, e-mails, cards and letters to people to let them know you have been thinking of them and that you miss them. Or perhaps baking some cookies for friends or workmates or neighbours who you don’t know very well – or…well look, if you are ever lacking in ideas something is wrong. Spend time thinking about how you can give more. Don’t be expecting a return. You may already know these secrets:

giving (2)There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.

Practice giving, and people will give to you. They will pour into your laps a fine measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. For with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you in return.

What takes up too much of your time? Would you stop that if you could?

Since I received head injuries, I am amazed at how much more sleep I seem to need now. I need much more then eight hours. I probably average ten hours sleep each night now, although some days I have to work longer hours so I have less sleep and I start to struggle.

I guess I would like to be able to get by without as much sleep – but it effects my coordination, concentration, cognitive abilities – all sorts of aspects of my daily functioning. I also feel I am more likely to become upset and anxious if I have slept less than my brain seems to need nowadays.

Cookies (biscuits to those elsewhere), pastries, pie or cake? If not, what does your sweet tooth crave?

Oh yes please, all of them. Line them up, one at a time and I will demolish them!

I actually prefer to eat savoury food and leave sweets out of my daily diet. Although I make allowances for sad times when it’s nice to have a treat to cheer myself up. In all honesty I make sure sweet things are a rare treat (ONCE ON THE LIPS FOREVER ON THE HIPS)…I love all sweet things – pretty much any combination of flavours – but I am always a sucker for caramel!

With regards sweet things – I like pretty much everything. I love squidgy cookies, or shortbread, or ginger stem biscuits or custard creams. I love a Danish pastry or an eclair, a pain au chocolate or a Bavarian slice. I love pecan pie, key lime pie, Bakewell tart, treacle tart, tarte au citron, cherry pie, custard tart. Cake – don’t get me started! Any cake – cheesecake, fruit cake, Eccles cakes, sandwich sponge cakes, coffee and walnut cakes, banana loaf.


I love it all.

Gratitude?  Are You Happy?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

I am very grateful that there are so many people who despite leading busy lives, are willing to take the time to say a few kind words of encouragement and let you know they care. It has been so touching to receive so many kind comments this week. We are all imperfect and yet capable of such wonderful kindness.

I am grateful I have such a supportive family and world of friends (even though there are many friends who seemed to evapourate because of what happened with Jack). I feel very blessed and deluged with love. I am very grateful for Goldfinch – I am worried about him at the moment. I don’t want him to be burdened.