Friday, 30 May 2014

Word of the Week

Friday rolls around again and it's time for Word of the Week.

Some weeks I struggle to decide what word best sums up my week.  As I don't go out to work there are days when I see no-one apart from my lovely family and my only chat is on Twitter!  That makes it tough to decide how to sum up the week.

This week, however, I had no trouble.  My word is ...


I'm finally getting my head around where I want my life to go in the next few years. 
I'm finally starting to organise myself - in my head at the moment.
I'm finally doing things that make me happy and content and not worrying about what everyone else is thinking!  Can it be that after fifty something years I've finally learnt not to worry about people judging me?

So I'm planning to crack on with my writing - I've a few ideas milling around and on my other blog - if you're interested - I'm trying out a few ideas.  Hopefully there will be a book in the offing later in the year.
I'm also doing some craft work - not Kraftwerk!- which I hope to sell via a Folksy shop.  This is making me unreasonably happy as I'm really enjoying sitting quietly and making something.  Just wish I had some artistic talent, then I could  do more.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

How far have we really come?

At first glance there doesn't seem to be much that Maya Angelou and Farzana Parveen have in common.  One was an award winning poet, playwright and activist who died aged 86; the other was a 25 year old pregnant Pakistani woman.  By co-incidence they died within 24 hours of each other. 

So what is the link?  Both women were victims of prejudice.  Racist, religious and misogynistic.

Maya Angelou was born in the deep south of the USA in 1928.  Her family were, in modern terminology, dysfunctional; a broken marriage, children moved around the family, an abusive step parent, violence.  She was abused and traumatised so much that she didn't speak for 5 years.  Through great strength of character she rose to become an award winning writer and humanitarian.  She was honoured and feted for her work - her auto biographical book 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' tells of her childhood, the abuse and her rise from the ashes of her life.  It looks at identity, racism, abuse, literacy - a sweeping, moving book which reduced me to tears on many occasions.  Her poetry is funny and touching in equal measure.  She wrote about being a black woman in the 20th century, but is more than that.  It touches on the lives of all women, how we are treated by society, how our lives really are and how we soar above all the adversity we face with humour, grace and style.

Farzana Parveen was a Pakistani woman, 3 months pregnant with her first child.  She was married to a man that her family disapproved of.  For this she was stoned to death outside a court in Lahore by her father and other family members.  These so called honour killings are not uncommon in Pakistan.  The BBC reported that there were nearly 900 in 2013 but stated that these were only the reported cases and the number is most likely to be much higher.  These women are killed for marrying against the wishes of the family, for adultery, for behaving immodestly; basically for not doing what the male members of the family wish.  For in Pakistani society it is the men who hold all the power; women are goods and chattels in the way they were in Medieval Europe. 

I was saddened by Maya Angelou's death.  I admired her as a woman, a writer and as a wonderful person.  Her voice alone thrilled me - slow in pace, deep in tone, she radiated thoughtfulness and wisdom.  Her poetry moved me and amused me in equal measure; would that I could write like her!  Her story moved me.  Along with Alice Walker she opened my eyes to the plight of black women in segregated America and acted as a contrast to the Gone With The Wind view of the Deep South - and I do love Gone With The Wind!

I was saddened and outraged by the death of Farzana Parveen.  She was a young woman expecting a child, a joyous time for most women.  She was innocent of any crime by any civilised measure.  The only thing she did 'wrong' was to marry a man that her family didn't want her to.  For this 'crime' she was humiliated and murdered in a brutal, horrific and public manner.  I don't really want to think about the terror she must have felt when she realised what was happening to her, neither do I want to think about the crowd of people who stood by and did nothing.  My anger is directed at her father and Pakistani society which allows these honour killings to continue. The police don't investigate thoroughly, the courts hand out light sentences or no sentence at all and many families don't pursue cases against those who kill or are violent to women.  This means that such violence is seen as the norm and acceptable.  Unless and until the people of Pakistan take violence against women seriously we will continue to read about shocking events like this.

RIP Maya Angelou.

Rip Farzana Parveen.     

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Lovely Stationery!

As it's Wednesday I thought I'd get involved in Paper Peep over at where people share their often irrational love of all things stationery.  As luck would have it I popped in to Paperchase yesterday to look at planners and by some strange coincidence I managed to buy some things!

So obviously I bought a planner!  There are lots of nautical print about and I was drawn to this jolly string of bunting.  It almost looks too nice to write on but I think I'll manage, I badly need to get my time organised so that I can begin to achieve everything I want to.

Now I didn't need a new notebook!  That being said, I couldn't resist this notebook as it has kitties on it.  The tiny book, which is slightly out of focus, has pretty shells on it.  Again, I didn't need it but it is so cute and will even fit in some of my tiny handbags so it came home too.

I'm a member of Postcircle so I'm always on the lookout for lovely stationery to use.  I was drawn to the shaped note cards as I've received a few of these from my Postcircle friends and I loved them.  So I got a pack ready to send out some happy mail!

Lastly I bought some postcards.  I've recently joined Postcrossing which sends postcards across Europe.  So far I've sent 2 but thought I'd get a few in and get involved again.  I'm not sure the cute cats one will get any further than my stationery box though!  I might share the contents of the box next week!

So there we are, this weeks papery acquisitions.  I didn't 'need' any of them but I'm sure I'll enjoy using them and they make me happy so who cares! 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tuesday thoughts

Today I'm supposed to be writing about National Barbecue Week but the fact that it's drizzling out there means I'm not really inclined to think about barbecues at the moment.  So I thought I'd just ramble for a bit about things that have been going on.

Well, having mentioned it, I suppose I should start with the weather.  Yesterday was a Bank Holiday and thankfully we didn't plan to do anything specific ad the weather was in full Bank Holiday Monday mode.  We Brits have a love/hate relationship with the weather.  It is said to be a national obsession and it's certainly true that we spend a lot of time talking about it.  It's a safe opening gambit when you meet someone to comment on the weather. We also seem to think that the weather was much better in 'the olden days' and always refer to the long hot summers of our childhood.  Maybe we just remember the times we spent all day playing out in the sunshine rather than the days when we were cooped up from the rain!  The winter weather seems to go in the opposite direction with us only remembering the dreadful weather like the terrible wet weather and flooding this past winter.  My mother used to talk about the terrible snow in 1962 &63 when she had to trudge to school through snow drifts with me and my baby sister.

The other topic that's been keeping us talking over the last few days is the European Election.  My son sat up most of the night watching the results and tweeting.  I must confess that by midnight I'd had enough and went to sleep.  The death of the coalition has been predicted, various part leaders have been interviewed and the Daily Mail is getting its knicker in a knot about the rise of UKIP.  Personally I don't think I can bear a whole year of build up to the general election next year!  I tend to make my mind up which way to vote when I'm standing in the polling booth, although I've already decided who not to vote for by then.

I've written a piece about my Tourist Trap which may feature on another blog next month.  So if you feel like reading it  pop over to and see what I have to say.
Here's a clue what it's about ...


Let's hope I can be more focused and less woolly tomorrow!

Monday, 26 May 2014


OK so I'm a bit out of sync with the BEDM topics but I'll try and get back on track tomorrow.  However I couldn't let the opportunity to write about childhood pass me by.

Looking back it's all too easy to romanticise childhood.  I've taken off my rose tinted glasses for this post but my natural nostalgia still comes through.

I had an unremarkable childhood but to me it was pretty perfect.  I grew up in Birmingham, in Edgbaston.  No, not the posh part with the cricket ground and the big houses,

 the more ordinary part with the reservoir.

 We lived in a late Victorian terraced house which rambled over 3 floors and a decent sized garden. 

For many years there were lodgers living with us - nurses in the attic and a travelling salesman called Mr Harris in the small single at the front of the house.  He was the only person I knew who ate kippers for breakfast!  The nurses were all impossibly glamorous and seemed to have wonderful social lives filled with mini skirts, mini cars and boyfriends.  The sort of life I pictured having when I was a grown up.

My sister is nearly 4 years younger than me so wasn't really in my gang, she just hung around with other irritating little brothers and sisters that we were told to play with.  They were always the villains in our games - me and my mates were the cowboys, they were the Indians; we were the knights, they were the dragons.  We played either in someones garden or in a variety of waste areas - the railway cutting or some waste ground which was latere built on.  The railway cutting was forbidden but we still went there.  Mum always knew when we'd been there and I couldn't work out how she always knew - later it turned out that skidding down the embankment stained our knickers with grass stains!  Girls didn't wear trousers in those days.  One year there was a dead dog in the railway cutting and we were fascinated by its decay - poking it with sticks until one day maggots poured out from under it and we all ran off screaming, boys included.  We also found a DALEK in a shed - we were so scared and only dared tiptoe up for a quick peep before running away.  Well, who wants to be exterminated?  It turned out to be an old railway worker's broom resting on a dustbin!

The long summer holidays were bliss.  We played out all day, roaming about the neighbourhood getting into various scrapes.  There was an abandoned house close to my home and we were told never to go in because there were rats; so in we went and terrified ourselves in the cobwebby dark. There was a crab apple tree behind some garages and we were told not to eat the fruit; so we ate it and had the worst stomach ache ever.  The local park had a paddling pool which we were only to go in if there was an adult with us; me and my friend went in on our own, I cut my foot on broken glass and had to get a bandage from her Mum, I tried to pretend it hadn't happened but my Mum wasn't fooled buy my trying not to limp!  Happy days!

Holidays were in a caravan in Devon.  Long, sunny days running around the fields and beaches, picnics, bottle of coke with straws in outside the pub, listening to the cricket on an old radio while lolling in a deckchair.

Was it really like that? 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Healthy Living

Today's #BEDM topic is healthy living so I thought I'd share a little about my recent foray into the world of the healthy.

I've never really thought about my health much, I've been lucky that I've not suffered any major physical ailments so I guess I took it all for granted. 

I didn't even have an epiphany when I was hit by an illness which made me re-assess my health and my lifestyle.

Several years ago my hubby and I joined a gym.  We both went a few times a week, followed a programme set up for us and thought we were improving our health and fitness.  Hubby was really good, sticking t the programme and getting totally sweated out each session.  I however soon reverted to type and started cheating.  I cut the time I spent on the machines and exercises, I missed attending on a few days and I never got sweaty or out of breath.

Needless to say hubby's fitness started to improve, he revamped his diet and started to lose weight and gain muscle. (No that's not him, so calm down dear!)

I stayed resolutely where I was and soon I was hardly attending the gym at all.  We cancelled my membership and I reverted to couch potato, my default setting.

Then I decided that I wanted to improve my fitness.  So I re-joined the gym and also signed up for an hours personal training each week.  As part of the package I had to reassess my eating habits.  This was difficult for me as suddenly all my staple foods were off limits - no bread, pasta, potatoes, cheese or crisps.  In came more quality protein (chicken - bye-bye veggie credentials!), quinoa, rye bread and high protein breakfasts to replace the cup of tea and slice of toast occasionally breakfasts I was used to.

So far I've lost 10kgs, gained some muscle and generally feel much better than I did before. But don't tell my PT that or he'll make me lift heavier!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Word of the Week

This is the first time I've attempted this, so be gentle with me!

The word for this past week is ...


I've come to realise that without loads of organisation I let time trickle by without achieving anything. Since stopping regular employment I have had loads of ideas for things I want to do. The problem is that I have this annoying habit of dithering and faffing about which means that the days float past with gay abandon but without me actually getting down to doing all the things I want to.

So, with great reluctance I have decided that I need to get organised. I need structure in my day to stop me messing about and not getting anything actually one.  I have entered a giveaway to win a planner with TheL's Mum  but I'm determined to sort my slightly chaotic life out.

Even if I don't win a planner - and with my luck it's unlikely - I will organise myself.  My first step is to work out a timetable for myself/  Now I know that this sounds  a bit childish but it will work for me. As a former teacher I feel happy working to a timetable, it keeps me on track and adds structure to my day.  Without structure the day runs away from me!  What a thing for a grown woman to admit, her inability to take charge of her time unless she's written a timetable!  But if it works then ii will embrace it. 

Now all I have to do is resist the urge to buy new stationery to do timetabling with!    

Thursday, 22 May 2014


About  a billion years ago (OK 2!) I registered to take a MOOC in Cultural & Literary Expression in 18th & 19th Centuries.  Wow, now I've typed it in it's a bit of a mouthful, ain't it?  Needless to say I forgot everything about it until the other day.  I feel that I ought to get round to staring the course but I'm very bad at scheduling things - I go to bed with lots of plans for the following day, wake up full of enthusiasm for what i will achieve then the day quietly slips by in a haze of doing nothing and light faffing about and nothing gets accomplished. 

Now my question is this: 

Should I actually write myself a timetable of things to do on each day so that nothing gets overlooked?  Or would that be too silly?  As a former teacher I'm comfortable and happy working to a timetable but it seems a bit daft to apply that to my life away from school.  Also it rather takes the spontaneity out of life - I rather like being a free spirit!  But the flip side of that is that whole weeks pass by without me accomplishing a tenth of the things I want to do.  And I'm toying with the idea of opening a Folksy shop to sell some of my crafts - if I can't get myself organised I'm going to fail at that and I'm not sure my confidence will recover from that!

So I ask you  - to timetable or not to timetable?  That's a question!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

He blinded me with science!

My boys are both really into


so we try to attend anything science and maths related.  This week we have been lucky that there have been events in Oxford as part of Pint of Science, a world wide event where scientists share their knowledge and enthusiasm with members of the public.  In Oxford these took place in a city centre pub, hence the title!

Now I'm mathematically and scientifically challenged.  I dropped Chemistry and Physics at school before O Levels and failed to pass Maths until I was in my late 30s.  Not the natural  audience for maths and science talks you might think.  Well in the role of Good Wife and Mother I often go with the boys to these talks - I've seen Jim Al Khalili, Marcus du Sautoy and Richard Dawkins several times.

However I do have a certain amount of natural curiosity so I do enjoy these events.  I don't know how much I learn but it is always fascinating to listen to enthusiastic experts talking about their passion. 

On Monday night  we heard from Professor Alain Goriely who talked about left and right handedness in nature - why plants and other natural structures turn in  aright or left handed way. It was fascinating if rather baffling for a non-scientist like me.
On Tuesday night we heard from Professor Roger Davies who talked about Galaxies and Black Holes - how they formed, what they are and what will happen when the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy collide ! There was the added bonus of a set by Lieven Scheire, a very funny Belgian physicist and stand up comedian.  He attempted to explain special relativity using rockets and barn doors, gave us a who's who of Belgian physicists and stripped down from eight t-shirts to one!

The boys and I enjoyed both events  - I especially enjoyed the comedy aspect as it taxed my brain slightly less than the hard core science!

So if Pint of Science come near you, do go.  It's fun for non-scientists too!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Being Adventurous

What does the word 'Adventure' conjure up for you?
Here's a dictionary definition:

adventure: noun
An unusual and exciting or daring experience.  Excitement associated with danger or the taking of risks. A reckless or potentially hazardous action or enterprise. 
So how does that relate to me? I haven't really gone out of my way to undergo unusual, exciting or daring experiences.  In fact I shun anything daring.  On a holiday on Ithaca the beach that the windsurfers were using was across the bay from our accommodation.  The holiday company had laid on a small boat to take us to and fro.  On the first day we went over to the beach, I didn't enjoy the trip but tried to be brave as my young son was there with us, loving every moment of it.  The journey back was choppy (raging to my mind) and I literally flung myself out of the boat onto the jetty so grateful was I to have survived the experience.  Every subsequent day the boys went by boat, Mum walked along a wonderful goat track and arrived 30 mins later!  On another holiday we took a speedboat trip to the local town and again I threw myself out of the boat onto the jetty, trembling.  I took a taxi back and was sitting in the bar sipping my second beer when the rest of the gang returned to the hotel!

So you can see that I don't really do adventure, even small ones.  I think I'm allergic to adrenaline!

Monday, 19 May 2014

First day of the rest of my blog's life

OK blog, it's just me and you, mano a mano, fight to the death etc.

Well, maybe not to the death but you get my drift.  It's time to sort out this ramshackle blog and set it out on the road to world domination! Or something like that.

I decided that the title of the blog wasn't really very helpful.  After all it wasn't really about Abingdon at all so why would it be called It's Fun  in Abingdon?  I tried to chose something more catchy and in tune with what I want the blog to be.  I'm hoping that it will develop more into a 'me' type blog than a little lost blog in search of a home.

So, drum roll please, here is the new title:

'thoughts of a fifty-something fruit cake'

I want to blog about the things that matter and are important to me.  I've spent a lot of time looking at other blogs and am totally in awe of how organised some people are about their blogging - take a bow youbabymemummy - and I hope that my blogging life will one day be as organised and together as hers.

I also found that there are loads of blogs about being a new mum (wish they had been about when my son was tiny) . As I now have a strapping 25 year old I'm not going to be blogging about bringing up baby.

There are also lots of fashion and beauty blogs.  Well, I've not been that interested in beauty/make-up since i left college and if I bother these days it's only to swipe on some mascara and smear on some lipstick.  Also I don't think the blogosphere is ready for my fashion tips - often when I think I look like the cat's pyjamas I actually look like a dogs' dinner!  I may pop the odd picture of some nice outfit or accessory but I don't think I want to focus on fashion.

So what will I write about? Well, anything of interest or note in the world, what I'm watching or reading, any interesting places I visit and anything else that takes my fancy.  Basically a fifty-something view of life. Feel free to suggest anything you think I might write about - I'm open to sensible suggestions!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Museum Day

#BEDM Day 18, topic Museum Day - who even knew?  That's one of the great things about these blogging challenges, I learn so many new things.

As anyone who has read my blog before - surely there must be someone? - I attended a poetry writing day at the Ashmolean a while ago.  It was a good day, wandering around the museum looking for inspiration.  At the time I promised myself that I'd do it again; needless to say I haven't yet but now I'm reminded about it I will try to visit again soon.

My first museum experience was at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.  I remember being taken there and enjoying looking at all the exhibits.  I loved the costumes, the mock up rooms (I remember a cobblers shop & a nursery) and the mummies.  My mum didn't like the mummy gallery and would try to steer us away from it but both my sister and me loved the painted sarcophagi and the idea that there were dead bodies wrapped up in them! Pair of little ghouls we were.

But the stuffed animals, well those were my favourite.  All those creatures, dead for ages and arranged in glass cases with painted backgrounds.  There were tiny creatures - voles, mice, bats - who I felt really sorry for; big cats - the tiger was a favourite of mine; and the animals that frightened me a bit (OK a lot!) - the polar bear with its bared teeth and pink tongue, a variety of snakes and cases of spiders and beetles, which I find fascinating now (more so the beetles if I'm honest!)

As a family we've enjoyed Morwhellham Quay in Devon.  This is a living museum where you can see what life was like in previous centuries when Morwhellham Quay was a thriving port.  There's a great waterwheel, it's really peaceful and you can take a carriage ride.  When my son was young he enjoyed going there and looking at all the things from 'the olden days'; there were demonstrations when we went there and you could watch people enacting former professions - baking (which he seemed to think was exotic even though I baked weekly!) and a chemist shop where they told us all about the potentially lethal things that were prescribed in days gone by.

Now he's all grown up we don't tend to 'do' museums as a family but I still enjoy a wander round them.  If  I'm ever in a new town or visiting London I always head for a museum.  It's a wonderful way to wile away a few hours - and they often have a great shop to sooth my retail muscles!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

#BEDM Day 17

Well I've missed two days of the challenge so I guess that's a fail then! However I'm not going to beat myself up over it but just get back on the horse.

I haven't even checked out the topic for today as I've decided to do a little blog about my walk to the supermarket this morning.
I saw the following - a beautiful, friendly black and white cat; a tiny damsel fly heading straight for me (it swerved at the last moment!); a slightly confused pigeon who couldn't decide whether to run away from me or fly (it decided to fly in the end); some dappled sunshine through leaves; two young lads who have been taught no manners failing to say 'Thank You' when I stood aside to let them through the passing place (I'm turning into my mother!); warm smiles from the staff at my local Waitrose; a lovely chat with an old gentleman about the weather & the benefits of having a positive attitude; a chatty #Post Circle letter waiting for me when I got home.

All in all, a good start to Saturday.

And my lovely husband returns from South Korea this afternoon!  Yay! 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

#BEDM Day 14

After my abject failure to write anything of any consequence yesterday I was determined to do better today. The topic is Home Sweet Home & I was sure that I could manage something on that topic.

Then the news broke of the death of Stephen Sutton.  Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer in his late teens.  Rather than wallow he decided to try & make a difference.  Through social media Stephen raised over £3 million for Cancer Research & touched many lives with his humour, selfless attitude & thinking of others before himself.  Today he lost the battle & passed away in his sleep aged only 19.

I think back to when I was that age.  I was at college, having a ball by the seaside with my friends.  I was totally self absorbed in the way that only teenagers can be.  The world revolved around me & my life, what I wanted to do, my friends & our social life (there was a bit of study in there too!) 

I was lucky.  I was fit & healthy, able to live my life to the full, exploring the world & my place in it, growing as a person.  I didn't have to face my own mortality or undergo traumatic medical treatment.  I have no idea how I would have coped  if that's what I'd faced.  But I fear that I would have been wracked with self pity, feeling sorry for 'poor me', turning in on myself.

Stephen was not like that.  He fought the cancer while thinking of others.  He knew that for him there would be no cure.  Yet he put his time & energy into raising awareness of cancer & the need for research.  He used the tools available to him, namely social media, and got many people donating & thinking about cancer.  His fund-raising effort was amazing & many people will benefit from the research that will be carried out in his name. 

I hope everyone who donated to Stephen's appeal will make another donation in his memory in the next few days.  It would be awesome to see that total soar. 

I didn't know Stephen personally but his passing has bought a tear to my eye & made my heart a little heavier today.  My thoughts are naturally with his loved ones at this difficult time.  I'm also thinking about all the cancer sufferers who will benefit from Stephen's selfless spirit & fund-raising.

A truly inspirational young man who touched so many in his short life.  RIP Stephen, the world is a poorer place without you.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Oh bother!

#BEDM Day 13

Topic - beauty

My reaction - see post title

Result - I'm blogging by the letter but not spirit of BEDM!

Monday, 12 May 2014

BEDM Day 12

I've lost the plot as to what the suggested topic is for today so I'm going to wing it!

Today was an OK day.  Trip to the supermarket, knitting, cricket; what's not to love?

We had several large rumbles of thunder as I was cooking tea.  The cats got all hot and bothered but it didn't amount to much.  Not even any rain to speak of.

I'm toying with the idea of starting a Folksy shop and selling some of my creations but I've yet to investigate this seriously.  It did give me an excuse to colour code my stash though!

So there we are, an average day, nothing exciting but it counts as a post towards BEDM!

Sunday, 11 May 2014


BEDM Day 11 & the topic is sandwiches (National Sandwich Day apparently)

Well it's been a while since I had a sandwich.  This is because of the eating regime my PT Simon has me on.  Basically, if I like it, I can't have it!  Seriously I'm very restricted in the carb department which means no bread except rye.

Now I'm sure there are those out there who have made successful sandwiches using rye bread. I'm not one of them.  For me a sandwich needs soft white bread, wholemeal at a push.  But rye just doesn't do it for me in the sandwich department.

Back in the good old days when I was allowed sandwiches I had a few favourites - cheese with anything (tomato, pickle, salad, Marmite, jam), egg with mayo or salad (no cress please!), marmalade, Vegemite, sandwich spread (good grief I love that stuff!)

Now I have the salad without the bread which isn't quite the same.  There is a moment in the future, when I've achieved a target weight, that Simon says I can have cheese, pasta & bread again.  I'm already planning a cheese salad sandwich ... or cheese & tomato ... or pickle ... or crisps ...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Oh for goodness sake woman!!

It had to happen.  I spent so much time yesterday pondering what I could write on the topic of Motivation that I totally failed to write anything! 

Today's topic is World Fair Trade Day but I'm going to try & address yesterday ...

Obviously I need a real kick up the pants in terms of motivation, otherwise why couldn't I get my act together & write something?  I guess it may be dependent on whether the topic grabs my attention.  I often find that I struggle when I'm not really interested in something.  This isn't the end of the world when it comes to blogging but is more of a problem when it comes to more important stuff like my writing.  I know that to improve & gain confidence I must write each day but it's so easy to put it off until another day (which of course means not doing it at all!)

I think some it stems from the fact that I'm not very confident in my own abilities.  I always doubt myself, even when folk have been kind enough to say nice things about my writing.  This also explains why so little of my writing has seen the light of day - I just don't have the confidence in my ability.  I'm trying to resolve to been more confident about it but, like a lot of things, that's easier said than done.

So my motivation has to be to get my writing out into the big, wide world & see if it sinks or swims.  Watch this space!  

Thursday, 8 May 2014

BEDM Day 8

Local History Month - who'd have thought it?  So a few facts about sunny Abingdon.

Abingdon has a strange custom known as bun throwing.  Whenever there's a Royal event - jubilee, wedding etc - then the local councillors throw buns to the crowd from the top of the Town Hall.  This tradition has been going on for many years.  There is a collection of buns in the museum which date back to Queen Victoria.  No one knows quite how it started but it's very popular - hundreds of local folk turn out when a throwing is happening.

We also have a weird ceremony where a local is voted Mayor of Ock Street.  The honorary mayor is a resident of Ock Street, gets to parade down the street.  This is linked to the local Morris Dancing troop who are very active and often to be seen dancing outside various pubs on bank holidays.

We also have a fair every October which closes the High Street and Ock Street.  This used to be a hiring fair but is now just an excuse for 2 days of rides and burgers.  The local teenagers love it!  One week later the Runaway Fair arrives; this was the chance for anyone who didn't like the job they'd found at the hiring fair to 'runaway' and find a new job.

Abingdon also has a thriving local market every Monday.  This has been going on for over 450 years and is well attended by locals.  You can buy a wide variety of things at the market from fruit & veg to fresh local bread to bin bags to foam padding!

Abingdon has many other interesting features.  It lays claim to being the oldest town in England, has a church that is the second widest in England, it's the home of Abingdon School (one of the oldest public schools in the country & where Radiohead met!)  Come and visit if you're ever in South Oxfordshire!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

#BEDM Day 7

Today's topic is Gadgets but that's not a topic on which I have anything to say so, again, I'm going off piste!

Today on the bus out of Oxford there was an old lady & her daughter/carer.  She was of Oriental appearance & must have been in her 80s.  She had a lovely, soft, kind face which had her whole life etched upon it.  It spoke of her long life, her family & friends, the fun times & the bad times, work, happiness, sadness & everything in between.  When she chatted with the woman who was with her, her whole face lit up & she became really animated. When they finished their chat her face softened & she gazed out of the window, watching the world pass by.  She seemed so serene as she watched the passing houses.  I wondered what she was thinking about as she looked at the passing scene; I wondered if she was thinking about another landscape, perhaps from her past, in another country.

What struck me most of all was her beauty.  She wasn't beautiful in the youthful, unblemished way we're used to these days.  It was a natural beauty, she looked the way an woman in her 80s should look.  She was totally natural, no embellishments, nothing fake.  It got me thinking about how fake some people look, especially 'women of a certain age' as they desperately try to hang on to their passing youth.

Many years ago we had a holiday in Florida.  There were many things that I remember from that holiday but I'll always remember the older women who had undergone some form of cosmetic surgery.  Their faces were taut & unlined, barely able to move as they spoke or smiled, tanned until they looked as if they were made of old, cured leather.  The tightness of their faces contrasted with the skin below their necks which had not been pulled & tucked.  It looked as if two women had been joined together by some mad scientist a la Frankenstein - old woman's wrinkled body, young woman's smooth face & neck.  As they insisted on walking around in string bikinis there was no way of not noticing!  What did they see when they looked in the mirror?  

Apart from the fact that I'm a coward, I can't conceive of a single reason  I would undergo cosmetic surgery.  Never having been a beauty during my youth I don't know how it feels to lose beauty, so maybe I'd feel differently if I was always reminded of the looks I no longer have.  I have the face that I deserve, the face that my life has given me & that's OK by me.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Passion Project

#BEDM Day 6 & Elizabeth suggest we think about 'entrepreneurial spirit' - er ...

Well I'm not sure I'm cut out to be an entrepreneur.  It seems to be an different type of being who has cool ideas & knows how to make them fly.

If I could invent an entrepreneurial me then I'd love to make money from writing.  There is a tiny voice who lives at the back of my brain who desperately wants me to be a writer.  She's very shy & doesn't get out much but she'd the reason I started to blog.  My usual chaotic way of going about tings means that the blog was pushed into the world kicking, screaming & not eve half thought out.  Hence the mess that it is.  No focus, no theme, no nothing.

I still want to be a writer, whatever one of those is, but I'm not sure that I'm watching that ship sail away over the horizon while I still cling to an unobtainable dream.  I'm also scared that I don't really have anything to say, which would seem to be a rather important part of writing!  Add to this a fear of sharing what I write with others & you can see why it's still a pipe-dream!

The more I think about it, the more I think that the blog needs an overhaul, maybe even pensioning off & re-inventing.  But I'm also rather attached to it now, the crazy tangents that it often goes off on while I'm not watching.

So there it is, the germ of an idea but no more.  I'd love some advice about sorting the whole blog thing out - it looks like it's put together by a child (that's my tech level!) & I'd like a more professional, funky looking blog, eve though I'm neither professional nor funky!

Anyone out there with some advice for a frustrated writer?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bank Holiday Monday

#BEDM Day 5, topic Cinco DE Mai & I'm going off piste!
As Cinco De Mai (however you spell it!) doesn't mean a whole heap to me I decided to blog about what I got up to today ion Bank Holiday Monday.

A conventional start to the day - get up, drink tea - followed by making a picnic lunch for our afternoon trip out into the great outdoors.  We then headed to the gym where lovely hubby did a Body Combat class & I cycled, cross trained & threw a few weights about.

We then headed off into the countryside for a walk & picnic lunch at Wayland's Smithy.  It was a lovely day for a walk along the Ridgeway, starting off warm but cloudy & ending with warm sunshine.  We walked along the Ridgeway until we got to Wayland's Smithy, a favourite spot of ours.  Heading for 'our tree' we spread our Poundland blankets on the ground & enjoyed a lovely picnic - as I made it , I would say that!

You can just see the tops of the stones here - David Bailey I'm not!

We headed back along the Ridgeway & the sun came out.  It's always a sobering thought that for thousands of years people have been walking this route - makes me think deep thoughts & wonder about my place in the universe.

 This is a view across to the Iron Age hill fort at Uffington where the White Horse is carved into the hillside. Today there was a National Trust initiative to re-chalk the White Horse going ion so things were very busy on the hill.

And finally a view across from the entrance to the car park; it's difficult to see in this picture but you can see for miles across Oxfordshire & Wiltshire.

On the journey home we were driving along the A420 when I saw a stunning house in some trees.  It was just the sort of house that makes me think 'I wish I lived there'. It had wooden beams, plaster covered walls & was symmetrical with a pointy roof - I'm really selling it, aren't I?  As we drove past I looked through the hedge-line & what did i see?  Lots of lovely elderly men playing croquet, all dressed in white with floppy sunhats on!  They looked as if they were having such a great time.  A real slice of rural middle England.  What a smashing end to a lovely day.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


#BEDM Day 4 & the topic is Sci-Fi.

Well, what can I say?  Of course it's Star Wars Day & my son rolled his eyes audibly when I wished him a Happy Star Wars Day this morning!  But I was rather concerned about the topic as Sci-Fi isn't a genre I'm all that familiar with.

As an avid reader who always has at least 1 book on the go I suppose I should know more about Sci-Fi.  I read a few John Wyndham novels when I was younger & have a passing knowledge of HG Wells (mostly through watching The Time Machine!).  However I didn't get into it &, if I'm honest, didn't get it either.  It's not that it seems too fantastic most of the time. I don't have a problem suspending my disbelief with other forms of fiction; heck I even enjoyed The Da Vinci Code!  But Sci-Fi - nope, not for me thanks.

I've seen my fair share of Sci-Fi movies, on the other hand. My husband, and then later my son, are  both into Sci-Fi.  To be fair to them, they're into science in general but love a good Sci-Fi movie too.  My son is an encyclopedia of trivial knowledge about Star Trek, all franchises! Now I appreciate a good episode of Next Generation as much as the next mother but there are limits.  Naturally the episodes they like are the tedious ones I loathe but that's par for the course with Sci-Fi - the more Sci it is the less I like it!

Now that's not to say that I don't appreciate a good Sci-Fi movie - I enjoyed Soylent Green & Total Recall -  but given the choice would rather see a film with, oh I don't know, a plot, dialogue & three dimensional characters!  And don't even get me started on 2001 or The Matrix!

So you see, Sci-Fi's not really my topic but I can muster an opinion (generally true about most topics, to be fair!)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Weekend Wake-up

#BEDM Day 3 & the topic is about how the days start at weekends.

My normal routine on Saturday is to ignore the radio when it goes off at 6.30 & hope that the cats will let me have a lie in!  At some stage my lovely husband will get up & make tea.  By the time the tea arrives I've usually got out of bed & had a wash etc. I drink the tea while deciding what to wear for the day - thankfully I don't have that extensive a wardrobe so I usually go for what's comfortable.  Then it's time to get out of the house, a quick trip to the supermarket & head for the gym.

Sunday is much the same but I have to remember to put the wine in the fridge & the joint in the oven & set the timer unless it's cheese butties for lunch!  Another trip to the gym which usually results with me deciding to have a leisurely breakfast & read my book rather than break into a sweat!     

Nothing very exciting about that is there?

Friday, 2 May 2014

Favourites? What favourites?

Today is Day 2 of BEDM & I'm supposed to look at my 5 favourite posts.  Wow! I'm not sure I've really got any favourites.

I am rather fond of the post about my bus trip with a bee.

And I suppose the post about writing poetry in the Ashmolean was cool, as was the day.

But once my posts are out there I tend to forget about them.  Maybe I should try to love them more?!?

So this is a short post & I hope that tomorrow's prompt gives me more scope to write more.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Is it that time already?

#BEDM begins today & I'm not ready!

Today's topic is 'What's your blog about?' - well, I really wish I knew!

When I decided to blog it was more as a way of 'forcing' myself to write & get my writing out of the closet & into the world.  However, that's not what happened.  I struggle to know what to write about so I often end up not writing at all, which rather defeats the point of the blog!

Also, I'm not very tech-savvy so my blog looks dull compared to most of the wonderful ones I follow - take a bow Elizabeth at Rosalilium & Char at Dinoprincesschar!  So I often feel disappointed with my poor little blog - it's not its fault but I don't know how to fix it.

The lack of direction in my blog mirrors the lack of direction in my life; I often feel that I'm being pulled down life's river without a map or any means of steering!  I think I need to get my  blog, and by extension my life, onto some track, especially if the aim of the blog is to promote my writing.

I also have a little bit of envy towards those blogs which have their own web address.  As a novice blogger I thought the only way to blog was through a site like blogger but now I've seen other blogs I realise that there may be more scope to get the blog 'out there' with a proper web address.  I'm often frustrated that I get few views & even fewer comments.

So there we are, a rudderless, lost blog with no focus - sounds like a mess to me!  Maybe this month's BEDM will give me the kick up the pants I need to sort it out & get it on track & buzzing.

Now to sort out my life while I'm at it ...