Saturday, 30 November 2013

And so the end is here ...

BEDN Day 30 and it's all over bar the shouting.

Well, here it is,  my final Blog Every Day in November post.  It feels odd to think that tomorrow I'll only need to blog if I feel like it.  I've loved the discipline of blogging each day.  I've found the topics have helped to get me through the days when I'd have struggled to think of anything to blog about, even if some of them have resulted in less than stunning posts.

So my promise from here on is to be good to my blog, to try to write something at least once a week.

I'm toying with the idea of having a theme for the blog, writing about books, reading and writing, sharing what I think about the things I'm reading and my constant struggles to sort out my writing.  I might have to re-name the blog too - that's if I can work out how to do it!  I'm still not sure how people get the extra links to other pages on their blogs.  I need a tech tutorial!

So farewell BEDN and hello to a renewed sense of blog love.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas List

BEDN Day 29 and we're coming over all festive!

So what do I want for Christmas?  It's a long time since I wrote a letter to Father Christmas - no Santa for me, he'll always be Father Christmas.  I seem to spend ages thinking about what to get for everyone else that I rarely think about what I'd like.  So I'm going to throw caution to the wind and indulge myself for a few moments lusting after all sorts of stuff.

Top of the list are always books.  You can't go wrong buying me books; I love to read and always have at least 1 on the go.  I can't imagine going to bed and not reading - apart from Match Of The Day nights!  I'm a huge fan of Scandi murder mysteries so any of those would be perfect.

Another bottle of Chanel No5 would be wonderful too.  I usually get it when we go on holiday through the old duty free but this year I was seduced by Lady Gaga so I'm running low on Chanel!

If I'm going really fantasy then I'd love to go for afternoon tea at the Randolph!  It always looks so elegant in there and I love the ritual of a proper afternoon tea.  I think I might need a new outfit for that too (I can hear my husband saying 'no you don't' and my son saying 'not a new handbag you don't!')

I've just had a new programme for the Oxford Playhouse so tickets to some of the shows would make a great stocking filler, as would tickets to see Richard II with David Tennant or Henry V with Jude Law.  Mind you, any serious play in London would be nice - not a musical, I don't do musicals!

And if none of that is available the I'm still waiting for a romantic date with Benedict Cumberbatch - assuming he's free and picking up the bill at the end of the evening!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Great Outdoors

BEDN Day 28 , the great outdoors so I should channel my inner Bear Grylls!

I'm not really an outdoorsy person so I've wondered what I should write about.  I've decided to think about what the outdoors means to me and how I relate to it.

I'm lucky to live in a lovely part of the country and really should make the time to get out and about more often.  There is a lovely walk down by the river which is beautiful whatever the time of day or year and whatever the weather.  My husband and I used to cycle out to the surrounding villages on a Saturday but we haven't done that for a while either.  I do enjoy being out and about - during the summer we went to Wayland's Smithy on the Ridgeway, a favourite walk of ours and we took a picnic.  It was a lovely sunny day and for a while we had the Smithy to ourselves.  There was a slight breeze, plenty of birdsong and a total absence of the usual noise that accompanies life.  It was perfect. I took my shoes off, stretched out on a blanket and soaked up the peace and quiet.  Absolute bliss.

So next year we must try to do that sort of thing more often, get out into the countryside and enjoy some quality time with nature - and each other of course.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Yes Moments

BEDN Day 27, Yes Moments.

I'd never come across this term until it turned up as a BEDN prompt.  However, serendipity is a wonderful thing and yesterday at about 6pm I had a 'Yes Moment' all of my own.

Earlier in the day I attended an interview for a post tutoring Functional Skills to Post 16 students in my home town. I had to teach a 30 minute session on root words, prefixes and suffixes which I was really nervous about but it went really well.  I liked the students and the other people working in the unit.  But - and it's a big but - I've attended many interviews that I thought went  well only to get THE phone call; you were a strong candidate but ...

So as time ticked by I was convinced that I'd missed out again.  The afternoon passed without a call and I set off for the gym.  On the bus journey in I did a brilliant job of convincing myself that no news was bad news and that I'd heard nothing because they were too chicken to phone and say I'd missed out on the job.  Good job on myself, eh?

At 6pm, sitting opposite my husband about to start eating my mobile rang.  'This is it' I thought, 'Time to put on  a brave face'.

But they offered me the job! 

So I had a 'Yes Moment' - the moment someone said 'yes' to me and gave me a little self confidence back.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Home Sweet Home

BEDN Day 26 topic Home.  Oh good grief!

Some topics don't relay float my boat and - guess what? - this is one of them.  So what do I do when inspiration doesn't strike?

Well the fact is this isn't the first time this has happened to me lately.  I was supposed to be taking part in NaNoWriMo this month but after writing 1,000 words the darn novel died.  I gave it First Aid and prayed over it.  Finally I gave it the Last Rites and that was that.  There was no inspiration so I left the thing unwritten.

Part of me knows that I should have ploughed on and made something out of it but I knew deep down that there was no novel there to be written.  Rather like this silly blog post!

See you all tomorrow when I hope to be more inspired!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Countdown to Christmas!

BEDN Day 25 - one month til the big day!

Somehow I'm never really ready for Christmas when it comes round.  I try to be organised but somehow it all creeps up on me!

This year I'm trying to do thoughtful presents - mostly made by me, which I hope tells people that I've thought about them as individuals and made something while thinking of them.  It may all go wrong and they just think I'm being cheap but that's a risk I have to take.

As an aside I have an interview tomorrow and have already started to worry!

Calm down, dear, it's only an interview!

Sunday, 24 November 2013


BEDN Day 24, topic Motivations and I'm stumped!

I'm not a very motivated person.  This probably explains why I've never really accomplished much in life.  Bill Cosby said that 'In order  to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure'.  And that's where it all goes wrong for me.  I fear failure more than almost anything.  I'd rather not try than have a go and make an ass of myself.  This explains why I hardly ever try anything new, why I get so nervous at interviews and why this post is so short!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Date Night!

BEDN Day 23 & we're going on a date!

Technically it's been years since I went on a date having been married for 31 years.  However it's now considered a done thing for married couples to have date nights - not sure why but presumably to keep the romance going. We don't really do romance in this marriage so have never done date nights.

But in the spirit of BEDN I'm going to imagine an imaginary date with my other half.

We're not ones for clubbing or staying out late so our date would be during the day.  A  nice stroll along the river, holding hands naturally (sometimes our son rolls his eyes at the fact that we still hold hands when out after all these years!)

If the weather is warm and sunny then we can find a nice spot to sit and chat, preferably on a seat but the grass will do at a push (feeling my age even in a fantasy!)  Then we could pop into one of the riverside pubs for a drink and bite to eat.  Returning home a nice cup of tea and cuddle with the cats would round off a nice date. 

It's not very rock and roll or romantic but it's the kind of thing that we enjoy doing and probably don't do enough.   

Friday, 22 November 2013

Leaving on a jet plane.

BEDN Day 22 and we're thinking about travel.

I'm going to take a fantasy journey.  It mirrors a journey I have really taken but as I'm not likely to do it again for a while it's a fantasy at the moment.

I arrive at the airport, check in and spend some time in the Sky Lounge before heading to the plane.  I turn left on the plane and settle in for a relaxing flight to my destination.  A short train ride from Pisa airport and I reach my favourite place on earth - Florence.

We spend a few wonderful days walking around the city, drinking coffee in a variety of piazzas, visiting galleries to see the wonderful works of art - I have to see Michelangelo's David and the Brancacci Chapel which houses my favourite frescoes by Masaccio and Filippino Lippi.  We eat at small local restaurants in the back streets behind the railway station and wander through the streets looking for another gelaterie to sample more flavours.

Waking in the morning to the sound of the bells of the Duomo, looking forward to another day in the most perfect city is my ultimate fantasy.  Everything seems better when I'm in Florence so I hope I can return one day soon.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

World Television Day

BEDN Day 21 - Television!

Well here's a topic I know something about!  I confess to be a Telly Addict; I watch far too much TV and it eats too much of my time. I should be more discerning in my viewing but I tend to out the TV on as soon as I get up and graze on anything it offers throughout the day. I watch some real rubbish in this way (as I type an old episode of Jeremy Kyle is playing) and I really feel that the time has come to be more selective in my viewing.

I could get so much more done if I stopped being glued to the TV.  In order to get anything productive done I need the TV switched off; it's too distracting and I watch passively until hours have passed by.  I wasn't brought up this way - the TV wasn't constantly on in my childhood home and Mum was quite scathing about friends who had the TV on all the time.  So why am I so addicted to this 'chewing gum for the eyes'?

Perhaps one of my goals for next year should be to watch less TV, to only watch the programmes I really want to watch rather than anything that happens to be on.  I promised myself last year that I'd listen to more radio and watch less TV; that never happened!  In fact I don't think it even got off the ground.  It was a vague promise that I made no effort to keep.

So I'll say here 'I'm a Telly Addict and I promise to watch less TV, being discerning about my viewing and turning the TV off when there is nothing I want to watch' 

Here's hoping I can stick to it this time  I'll report back ...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Turn to the left ... Fashion!

BEDN Day 20 - fashion!

Well this is another tricky one.  I have a vague interest in fashion, usually know what's in and what's out but rarely follow the dictates myself.

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with fashion.  I had a Saturday job and spent all my wages on clothes and shoes.  My first real fashion memory is owning a pair of bright red Oxford Bags that I thought were fantastic.  My father asked why I wanted to dress like a circus clown and I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes at him for that comment!  I also rocked purple smock dresses, cheese cloth shirts, loon pants and platform shoes.  Bomber jacket that weren't warm enough/waterproof enough for an afternoon stood in driving rain at the Holte End, love beads, a suede jacket with faux fur trim that smelt like a wet dog when it got wet - a; these and more were my fashion loves.  Yes, I;m a child of the 70s and I still love those fashions, despite the label 'the decade that taste forgot'.

Now I dress for comfort - no platforms for me these days! - although I'd love to spend just one more day top to toe in the latest shapes and styles.  However, I don't want to look like 'mutton dressed as lamb' so I'll stick to things which let me blend in (although I still love a bright nail polish)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


BEDN Day 19 (where has the time gone?) and today we talk about something from today's news.

On BBC Breakfast there was an item about the most popular new word of the past year - the 'winner' was selfie.  Although the word has been around for a while now it has come into more popular use over the last year, often on the back of Tweeted selfies from celebs.

I'll confess, I hate having my picture taken.  I run like crazy if I see a camera and if I really have to be in the photo I try to make sure I'm standing behind someone and usually trying to duck behind their back!  So it will come as no surprise that I've never taken a selfie.

I can't see the attraction.  Maybe if I was photogenic like some of the celebs than I might take selfies at the drop of a hat.  Maybe if I lived a thrilling life and had lots to share the I might take selfies.  Maybe if I was in an exotic location or standing next to Johnny Depp then I might take selfies.  None of these things apply so I've never succumbed to the lure of the selfie.

Am I missing something?  More importantly, is the world missing anything by not being included in my life?

Or should I just join in?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Anti-Bullying Week

BEDN Day 18 - Anti-Bullying Week, a serious topic & one that really got me thinking.

At primary school I was bullied.  At the time I had no idea this was what was happening to me, I thought it was something that happened at school like lumpy custard and nose bleeds.  I didn't tell anyone - what would I have expected to happen?  This is how I was bullied - a girl from a couple of years above me would come up to me, stand in front of me and take a step forward, forcing me to step back.   She then stepped forward and I  stepped back. This continued until I was standing in the corner of the playground where we would remain until the bell was rung.  Then she went to her classroom and I went to mine.  Sounds funny when I type it now but it was mildly threatening - I had no idea why she did it, what I had to do to get her to stop, or why she chose me.  We never exchanged a word so I never knew what it was all about.  Eventually she left fro secondary school and my play times were my own again.
I went to the same secondary school as her but our paths didn't cross at school.  When I was in the Sixth Form I went on one date with her brother but didn't make the connection until we bumped into her when we were on our date.  There was a huge group of us and she showed no sign of knowing who I was.  After one more drink than I should have had, I asked her why she had treated me like that at primary school.  She had no idea what I was talking about!  She didn't remember me at all!

This to me sums up bullying - an act that traumatises the victim but means nothing at all to the bully.  My bully had no reason for singling me out, I was totally anonymous to her, I could have been anyone.  She forgot all about me once we weren't thrust together in a school playground, yet I remembered her and what she did for years after.
It felt good to confront her - I told her how she had made my life miserable for a few years and how I had spent too long wondering what was wrong with me to attract that type of attention.  She looked embarrassed and tried to mutter an apology.  I brushed her sorry away as it meant nothing to me.  I had grown as a person, got over it and was stronger as a result.  As a former victim I had never bullied anyone, I stood up to bullies and stood up for victims whenever I could and I still do.  I won and she didn't; that's the most important thing I took from that experience.
In my time as a teacher I had to speak to many children about bullying, both those who were suffering, those who were doing it and those who needed to be educated about bullying.  There is a never ending list of reasons why people are bullied, none of them an adequate justification, but one thing never changes - bullies are cowards, they are weak and feeble people who back down when challenged and they are rarely happy.

So this week have the courage to speak up if you're being bullied and speak out if you see bullying - you can make a huge difference to someone's life.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Relax ...

BEDN Day 17, topic Relax, so take a deep breath and relax ...

I've never had any trouble relaxing -  if anything I have trouble un-relaxing.  I think I'm generally a fairly chilled character (not sure everyone would agree) so I can switch off without too much bother.  However, at certain times I can be a worrier - usually about things over which I have no control.  I inherited this from my mother who could get herself into a right stew about the silliest things.  Well, I thought they were silly then but sympathise with her now as I can be very similar at times.  Luckily this is not a regular occurrence!

For proper relaxation I need 5 things - a nice cup of tea, some chocolate (milk and Cadbury), a good book, Sigur Ros on the CD player (Ágætis byrjun by preference) and a lap full of cat.  Now I can stretch out across the settee and let all my  cares melt away. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013


BEDN Day 16, topic Hobbies and, surprise, surprise, I've taken a picture!

 This picture covers my current hobbies - knitting, which I'm always doing (great hobby for in front of the telly!); sewing, which I'm trying to get back into (there's a pair of trousers cut out in a bag somewhere!); reading, always at least 2 books on the go (this is for next); writing, which I do sporadically (and wish was more than a hobby); crochet, which I've just learned and wish I was better at (I'll attend a proper class soon); and cooking, well baking really (I make a mean lemon drizzle cake!)

When I think of hobbies I think about the ones I had as a child, stamp collecting being the main one.  I was never one of those children who had a load of out of school activities to go to and this became a problem when I had to fill out college applications - my form looked rather blank compared to other people's, all girl guiding, tap-dancing and outdoor pursuits! I've re-discovered the joys of having something to do in recent years and I suppose you could throw the umbrella of 'crafting' over my hobbies.

One interesting consequence of all this 'crafting' is my impending involvement in a film set in WW1 for which I will be knitting at least one garment.  So far I'm still waiting to get yarn and pattern although I've been told that I'm probably knitting a gents cardigan.  I promise to blog about it when there's more news.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Favourite Folk

BEDN Day 15, topic Favourite Folk - how long do you have?

I've spent a long time today thinking about my favourite people and I could have an extensive list filled with my favourite celebs and sports people but I guess that's not the point of the topic.  So I've screwed that list up and I'm starting again with a more realistic and personal list.

Obviously first on the list is my husband of 31 years.  He's had to put up with a lot being married to me (I can be high maintenance at times!) but he's always been my greatest support.  He lets me be who I want/need to be and is non judgemental about the daftness that sometimes surrounds me; he even supports my irrational need for kittens at regular intervals.

Next is my son - always entertaining and sometimes frustrating.  There is never a dull moment with him around but there is only so much Pokemon one woman can take!  He was the apple of my eye when he was born and is now the mature fruiting tree of my life - look at that metaphor, stretched to breaking point!

Then there is my wonderful, sensible sister and her family - my handsome brother-in-law, the cleverest person I've ever met and their marvellous, sporty son.  I wish we lived nearer to them so we could see them more often, I wish I was better at phoning for a gossip but it's always a pleasure to get together - she makes great soup and is always up for a glass of wine!    

My mate Kathryn is a favourite person too.  I met her through work and, although we no longer work together, she's a great pal and we have regular chats over coffee and cake' such a pity she's a Man U fan!

My lovely Post Circle friends deserve a mention - Corrina, Anna, Nic &Char - I'm sometimes bad at writing promptly and we've never met in person but it's lovely to hear from them and get to know there lives.  I have a couple of Twitter mates - Mairi and Faith - who I 'meet' on Saturday to gossip about Strictly and they're great fun!  They make Strictly more fun!

Now I'm allowing myself a little fantasy in the topic.  Some of my favourite people on the planet make the music that I adore - obviously I have to mention Radiohead who are a bit of an obsession for my husband and me.  But most of all I mean Sigur Ros - their music is so wonderful, ethereal, touching and moves me in a way no music has ever done before.  I'm planning to have some Sigur Ros at my funeral; it's the music I imagine sounds closest to the music of heaven.

So there they are, my favourite folk.  Hope I've not offended anyone by forgetting them!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

How long does it take?

BEDN day 14, the topic is Workplace ... well I don't currently have one so I'm going to blog about the gym.

I've been going to the gym fairly regularly for a few months and I now need to ask the question - when will I see some results?

I'm very impatient when it comes to the gym.  I want to see some change now!  Not next month or next year but now!  I know this is unreasonable but that doesn't stop me wanting it.

When I'm swinging that blasted 8kg kettlebell I want to see a result when I get changed - why is that unreasonable?  I'm working hard and I should get the rewards.

OK, so I can feel a difference, which is lovely but I now want the compliments!

Shallow or what?

So someone tell me I look great or I'll reach for a slice of chocolate cake and to hell with the workouts and sweat!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


BEDN Day 13 and our topic is World Kindness Day.

I'm not too sure what to say about today's topic.  I've always assumed that people are intrinsically kind to each other so I'm baffled as to why we would need a World Kindness Day.

I remember reading a few years ago about random acts of kindness, where folk randomly do something kind for someone they know or a stranger.  Being a natural cynic I always wondered what would happen if you went up to a total stranger and did them an act of kindness - would they be surprised, baffled, grateful or try to knock your block off?

I suppose I hope that I go through life being kind to people and don't need a special day to be kind.  Perhaps there are folk who need a nudge!

So was I kind to people today?  I don't know - I think I was but not in an overt way that I can quantify.  Maybe I'm not the person to ask; as those I've met today!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Day 12 BEDN and my topic is My Hometown - don't know how to interpret that?  Could either be where I was born and brought up or where I call home now.

I was born in Birmingham more years ago than I care to remember.  We lived in a three storey terraced house in Edgbaston and this was my home from 6 months to 23 years, even though I didn't live there for all those years (4 years at college).  All my childhood memories revolve around that house, the garden and the surrounding area.  I went to school within a short walk of the house and most of my friends, certainly until secondary school, lived within walking distance of my house.

As I got older and moved to secondary school, still within walking distance of my house, my horizons broadened.  My friends lived scattered across Birmingham and I started to venture into the city centre on my own.  There were still parts of Birmingham I didn't know, and still don't, but I saw more areas than my local few streets.

After I married we moved into a home in Halesowen, a town a few miles from Birmingham so I still had a similar frame of reference, popped into Birmingham fro my major shopping and worked in Birmingham.

In 1997 we moved to Abingdon as a result of my husband changing jobs.  This meant I moved to within a few miles of the village where my mother was born and it felt a little like a homecoming.  I had spent plenty of time in this part of Oxfordshire when I was a child as we visited our Oxfordshire relatives.  In a way it felt odd to be back here but now as a resident.  As I started to research my family tree I found some distant relatives had lived in Abingdon and I had some fun wandering around the town looking for the buildings they lived and worked in.

I'm now not sure where I would call my hometown.  I still consider myself to be a Brummie but my accent has faded, unless I'm cross when it returns!  But Abingdon is where I am now and it's where my son has his memories so maybe it's home for the time being.  As we get older we have been thinking more about where we want to live in our retirement.  A part of me wants to stay in Abingdon as it's where I'm familiar with now but part of me would like to return to Birmingham.  However, when I visit Birmingham it doesn't feel like home anymore - this saddens me but maybe that is the reality, I've been away too long and the friends I had back then have all moved away or I've lost contact with them.  So who knows what will happen.

There's an old cliché, 'Home is where the heart is', which seems apposite here - my home is less a location and more a state of mind; wherever my loved ones are is where I call home. It's not really a town, is it?  

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day

BEDN day 11 - Remembrance Day (I thought this topic was yesterday but logic says today is the right day for it)

My father served in World War 2, he was in the Army, Royal Artillery regiment.  He rose to the rank of sergeant and was posted to India and Burma, where I believe he fought.

He never spoke of his wartime experiences.  If asked about his time in the army he told my sister and myself stories about his first time in a plane, tall tales involving tigers and tents and warnings not to get tattoos when drunk in India!  He never mentioned anything about the actual war, what he saw or experienced or how he felt about it.  We stopped asking about the war and just enjoyed his tales about his time in India and his mates. 

Later we realised that he must have seen unbearable things, perhaps involving those same mates he spoke of (I don't remember any names if he shared them).  He may even have done things which he didn't want to remember or share with his loved ones.  As we grew up and learned more about the war we distanced those things from the Dad we knew - a funny, kind, loving man who is now greatly missed.  He wasn't the man who went to war or the man who came back - we never knew him then and only knew the man he became.  Our Dad.

Dad had a deep seated distrust of all things Japanese.  He wouldn't allow anything made in Japan in the house, which Mum said was because of what he'd seen during the war; I don't know whether he told her about his wartime experience but she may have known more than us.  As I grew up I learned about atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in Burma and the Far East; it upset me to think that my Dad might have seen these things so  I didn't think about it and stopped asking him about the war.

Dad always wore his poppy in November and observed the silence on Remembrance Day.  I often wonder who he was remembering but he didn't say.  Dad wasn't one to make a fuss about things so we never found out any more - there were questions that we didn't ask and he didn't volunteer any information, again because it was a time he didn't care to revisit.  He didn't attend Remembrance ceremonies as he wasn't a church goer but I think he marked the occasion in his heart.

So when Remembrance Day comes round I think of Dad who we lost suddenly in 2000; I also think of all those brave men and women who served in many ways in many wars and I'm proud of all he did and all he meant to me, my sister and  my Mum.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Something Different

Day 10 of BEDN and the topic is Something Different; the suggestions are to blog about something outside your comfort zone.

Well I don't know what to talk about here - I'm not sure my blog has a comfort zone!

So here goes, I'm going to attempt to blog about something techie! 

Several weeks ago my husband said that he'd been thinking I ought to replace my trusty old Nokia with a more modern smart phone.  My face must have blanched because he softened the blow by saying a Blackberry would be low tech enough for me yet propel me into the realms of  smart phones.

I currently have a little Nokia ExpressMusic which I use to listen to music on, surprise surprise.  I rarely use it as a phone - few people know my number apart from some annoying companies who phone up trying to sell me crap (any idea how I block those?)  It does exactly what it says on the tin which suits me fine.  I can take pictures with it - fairly low resolution and it does tend to wash out the colours - but so far that's been OK for me.  However I'm starting to put more pictures on the blog so I'm re-learning how to use our digital camera to get better colour reproduction.

 Now I know very little about Blackberrys - my sister had one at one time and she's less tech savvy than me so they can't be too bad!  I've had a look at a few and this is the nicest - don't ask about features, I'm all about style over substance!

    What do you think?  I'm not sure it counts as a smart phone as it doesn't have a touch screen but I hate touch screens anyway - why do they move so fast?

Or how about this one?

Stylish or what?  The only problem is it loks too high tech for me - loads of buttons that I could press by accident - there are still features on my little Nokia that I've no idea about!

I don't think this counts as a tech blog but it's the best I can manage!  I'm heading back to my comfort zone now - knitting and drinking tea!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Blogging ...

Day 9 of BEDN and we're thinking about blogging - why is Bob Marley playing in my head?

I'm a bad blogger - I forget that the darn thing needs love and attention so it gets ignored for weeks on end.  That's one of the reasons I signed up for BEDN, it's making me blog on a regular basis and also making me think about what I blog, sometimes out of my comfort zone which is stretching my writing muscles.

The problems I have with blogging are mostly technical.  I'm a real Luddite when it comes to technology - I have some old tech stuff and won't upgrade as I'm terrified I'll never learn how to use the new stuff.  So my blog is basic in the extreme. I'd love to have fancy sidebars (or whatever you call them!) and pretty personal to me features but I've no idea how to do it.  Nor do I know where to go to learn these skills (do they have a name, like blog modification?)

I'd love a posh, fancy blog but perhaps that wouldn't suit me.  I'm a low-tech girl and maybe it's fitting that my little blog reflects this.  I only hope that the quality(?) of the writing makes up for the lack of whistles and bells.    

Friday, 8 November 2013

A Day in the Life

Day 8 of #BEDN and the topic is A Day in the Life, where I'm supposed to blog about my day.

Well my life is really boring!
8am make breakfast
8.30 finish breakfast
9am load washing machine
9.05 absentmindedly stroke cat

You get the picture ...

So I've decided to go 'off topic' today - forgive me #BEDN!

One of the lovely things about BEDN has been the chance to read other people's interesting blogs.  There are some genuinely fascinating ones out there and it's such a joy to learn about other people and their lives.  I've learned so much about crafting and cooking and lifestyle and ... well , you get the picture.

This has highlighted a problem with my blog - it has no focus.  It's a place where I ramble on about anything that takes my fancy.  While this may be good for my soul, it's not interesting for a reader.  I can now see why I've never got any comments or feedback on the blog - what do people comment on when everything is so random?  Also, I don't have any core or regular readers - there's no theme or context to the blog.  This poor blog is sick and needs fixing!

So I'm now wondering what to do with the poor thing.  I don't want to kill it off as these past few days blogging regularly have been very enjoyable.  I don't feel confident enough to do a lifestyle, crafting or cooking blog so I'm thinking of turning this blog into a 'literature' blog.  I love reading, do a lot of it and would like to share my love of books with others who are interested.  I'm not sure I want it to be an online book club (that way I can keep control of what I read!) but I'm not sure if that would be of any interest to anyone.  Maybe it could be a general 'popular culture' blog - or is that just an excuse to write about what I've watched on the telly?  Should I include other forms of Art and Culture?  What about including my own writing?

As you can see I have a lot of thinking to do!  Hopefully by the time the topic turns to blogging I'll have made some decisions, or at least be moving towards a decision.  Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

10 Things

Day 7 of BEDN, topic 10 Things and they can be any things apparently.  It's too early for resolutions so I thought I'd share 10 Good Things that have happened to me this week.

1. I woke up warm and cosy with a family I love who love me right back, a roof over my head and food in the fridge - this makes me very lucky, grateful and happy  as there are those in the world who don't have these things.

2. My cat loved me just enough to cuddle up in bed before leaving to snuggle with Daddy!

3. I walked into town, it wasn't raining and a lovely little boy said 'Hi' and waved as he ran past me.

4. Heinz soup for lunch!

5. I got complimented on my felt fox brooch which I'd made from a Mollie Makes kit.

6. Masterchef  is back!  I love Michel Roux Jnr, such a lovely man (and he speaks French too!)

7. My lovely sister sent me books and home made chutney - Mum's old recipe, I love it.

8. Some good gym sessions - not sure how much difference it's making but I'm living in hope.

9. Someone told me they liked my hair - I had it all cut off several months ago and I hadn't seen them since - it reminded me that the change of style was a good move.

10.  I found some lovely wool to knit a baby cardigan, a Twitter friend is expecting next year and I want to knit for the new baby. 

So there's my 10 Things - hope you like them! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Day 6 of #BEDN and the topic is stress, today being National Stress Awareness Day.

Well, I don't claim any great insights when it comes to stress - I have suffered from it in the past and have learned to recognise the signs in myself.  Whether that makes me better at coping or avoiding stress I don't know.  My problem is that I'm very bad at saying 'No'.  If I'm asked to do something my first and instant reaction is to say 'Yes'.  I was brought up to be helpful and accommodating so it comes naturally to me to help; this is not always good for my stress levels as I can find myself overstretched. 

My first encounter with 'bad' stress came when I took too much on at work and my support network failed.  I suddenly found myself unable to function and was signed off work for a while.  It took me several more years before I really started to recognise the triggers for myself and I'm still fighting the urge to say 'Yes' all the time.

So to anyone struggling with stress at the moment - don't give up, it will get better.  Find what works for you and take time out for yourself.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Bonfire Night

November 5th - not my favourite night of the year.  You see, I hate fireworks!

Even as a small child I was frightened of fireworks.  I'd sit in the house with my Mum while Dad and my sister enjoyed watching and setting off fireworks.  I don't mind the bonfire part of Bonfire Night and obviously the food is fab - jacket potatoes, toffee apples, parkin, what's not to love?  But the fireworks - no thanks!

I 'manned-up' later when my son was born and took him to firework parties but I still cringed at the loud bangs.  It became a bit of a family joke - 'Oh look, there's Johanne with her fingers in her ears jumping with fright at the fireworks!'

So tonight I'll be hoping it all goes off quickly and wishing I could hide under the table with my cat, Bonnie!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Food Glorious Food!

Day 4 of BEDN and the topic is Food Glorious Food - well that covers a multitude of sins, doesn't it?

I bake at least once a week as my boys have areal weakness for cakes!  I'm not one for fancy decorating, I think I could do it but it never seems necessary for a batch of chocolate chip fairy cakes that get eaten really quickly.  My Mum used to make wonderful cakes which she decorated - I have some great memories of birthday cakes she made for me and my sister. I wish I had pictures of them, especially the upside-down mushroom cake!

  My latest success was a lemon drizzle cake  made to Mary Berry's recipe - the perfect blend of sweet cake and tart lemon drizzle.  It was wonderful!

I'm a huge fan of The Great British Bake-Off and would love to bake some of the creations on there.  Maybe one day ...  I'd like to try Chelsea buns after watching Paul Hollywood make some this weekend but when he says they're challenging I think perhaps I should try something less 'challenging' for the time being!

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Day 3 of BEDN and our topic is Light.

This had me scratching my head for a while. What does one write about light?  I'm no scientist so I can't analyse light as a scientific phenomenon - gosh that sounds pretentious!  So I was left wondering whether to go with the topic or go 'off piste'.

Then I re-read yesterday's post and thought about light in art.  As I said yesterday I'm not an artist; I wish I was but I've long since accepted that I haven't been blessed in that way.  However I do have an appreciation of art and enjoy going to galleries and browsing.  So today I'm going to share a few pictures that I love featuring light.

 I could have chosen anything by Turner as he was a master at the use of light.  the milky, misty quality of the light in this painting of Chichester Canal makes me think of early spring mornings with a slight chill in the air - that watery quality that light has when there is little warmth in it.

Holman Hunt's Light of the World has long been a favourite of mine.  I'm a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and was lucky enough to live for many years in Birmingham which has a fantastic collection of their work - many an hour was spent wandering through the galleries in the Museum and Art Gallery admiring these paintings.  I love the warm glow of the lamp in Christ's hand and the gesture of welcome, also the faint glow of a halo around Christ's head.  It is a painting that I have stared at on many occasions and I love it; many people don't enjoy religious paintings but I've also been strangely drawn to them.

  This is from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and is another Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painting, this time by Ford Maddox Brown.  Although the subject is a little 'chocolate box' for a modern audience I love the clarity of light in this painting.  I can feel the warmth of the sun and smell the grass and lambs.  The porcelain skin of the two main characters and the pale blue of the woman's dress make this a very British painting - she must be one of those women who kept out of the sun and didn't have to work outside. 

So those are my thoughts on light.  Hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Something You Made

Day 2 of BEDN and the suggested topic is Something You Made.  Well, that's a tough one.  During my life I've made loads of things, including mistakes, but which one to choose?

I've always wanted to be artistic.  The idea of taking some paint or clay and turning it into something beautiful.  However, I don't have an artistic bone in my body - give me paint and I'll blob it on paper making nothing but a mess.  I have a picture in my head but for some reason it doesn't translate into art on the paper.  The same with clay, I can't get my fingers to do what I want and end up with a lump of nothing and a feeling of frustration.

So I moved towards crafts rather than art.  I can follow a pattern and produce something reasonable.  It doesn't feel very artistic - the artist has created the pattern and I'm just a follower.  But I think it's the closest I'm likely to get so I'm grateful for small mercies!

A few months ago I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet.  I've been knitting for  as long as I can remember; I learnt to embroider and sew; I tackled a patchwork and can do cross stitch but crochet was a skill that passed me by.  So I got  a book and tried to teach myself - with varying degrees of success!  I mastered chain stitch with no problem - well how hard can that be?  Then came double stitch; my first attempt at that turned into a triangle as I didn't work out which stitch I was supposed to use on the turn.  My second attempt was better and looked more like the picture in the book. 

Then my copy of Mollie Makes arrived and the free craft kit was a teal crochet brooch in the shape of a bow.  I was really keen to give it a go but my courage failed me.  I put the kit away, resigned to the fact that I'd never complete it.

A few months passed and I looked at the kit a few times wishing that I could crochet!  So I plucked up all my courage and made a start.  The chain stitch was fine - I could still manage that!  Then I had to turn and tackle double stitch - this was the moment of truth!  The first attempt seemed to be going triangular again so I unpicked, had a cup of tea and tried again!  Success!  I had worked it out and it seemed to be behaving.  I followed the pattern, took it slowly and soon I was sewing the pin on the back.

I played around with crochet for a few weeks and managed a free form piece which is as near to 'art' and the act of creation as I've ever come - I'm insanely proud of it but no-one else knows how precious it is.  It doesn't look like much but it's my baby.

I still can't crochet - half treble defeated me.  I think I need someone to show me rather than trying to follow the book (maybe I'm crochet-stupid!)  But the Mollie Makes brooch is a success and the free form crochet will turn into another brooch when I get round to buying a pin for it.  I'll wear it with pride but no-one else will know how special it is.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Introduction on Day 1 of BEDN

Well here we are, 1st of November, my Mum's birthday & I'm starting blogging everyday during this month.  I have no idea what I'm going to talk about - those who know me in real life will be shocked that I might have this difficulty, it's normally getting me to shut up that's the problem!

So today is Introduction Day.  I'm Johanne, 55 and counting, originally from Birmingham but now living in Abingdon (the clues in the title of the blog!)  I moved here in 1997 when my husband changed job and have ended up living a few miles from the village where my mother was born & raised.  That felt like a homecoming & I have spent some time researching my family tree since moving to Oxfordshire - my maternal family grandmother's side didn't tend to stray from the county so I guess that means I have deep roots here; my paternal family are more scattered - maybe hey had itchy feet!  I keep meaning to sort out all the names and get some structure to the story but that's for the future.

I'm currently looking for work but finding it very difficult - maybe I'm getting too old!  By training I'm a teacher and have had some lovely & interesting experiences in schools.  I enjoy working with young people and that's what I'd like to do as a job but, as I say, it's proving difficult at the moment.

As well as blogging every day in November I am attempting NaNoWriMo again.  This is National Novel Writing Month which involves writing a 50,000 word novel in a month!  Sounds daunting and by gum it is!  Last year I got to the half way point in words but was no where near writing 50,000!  I'm hoping to be more disciplined this year and succeed - who knows I may even publish!

I'm also knitting for a film about WW1 - I think I have a pattern and yarn sorted out so at some stage I'll have to put down the spring top I'm currently knitting and knit my way back to the 1910's.  Vintage patterns are a challenge and I'm pretty sure that I will spend some time tearing my hair out over it but there is a lovely community on Ravelry to support me through it!

Does that all make me sound crazy-busy?  Some days it feels like it!

Well, that's me!  Look forward to reading some of the other BEDN contributions over the month and reading any comments on my blog - may even make some new friends ...

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