My ‘Mindful’ Garden – I’m in the moment

To Dwell is to Garden – Martin Heidegger, (1889-1976) German philosopher

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Physicist and Nobel Prize winner for General Theory of Relativity

With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment – Nhat Hanh (1926 – he’s 91!), Buddhist Monk

For me, Gardening is mindful, being in the moment. It doesn’t have to be me ‘doing’ things, it’s about the scents, the rustle of leaves, the birds, the hum of lawn movers in the distance. For me, when I’m in the garden, I’m in the moment – I find watering, deadheading and weeding relaxing – and planting too. For me, it’s about peace and recharging.

About my garden – it’s small, it’s rubbly soil and north facing; the neighbour’s have huge conifers, which make it even more shady at the end of the garden.

I love it – our small, sanctuary from the hussle and bustle of the world

I’m content in the garden.

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Before I bought my house – Summer 2009

In high summer 2016… some of the conifers on the right have gone now – but those on the left are even bigger ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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My garden is a work in progress – like me. I’m 51 – I definitely feel I’m in a new chapter with My Chap (my new husband) holding my hand, metaphorically too. To be fair, he does all the digging and heavy work as I have osteoarthritis. It’s a team effort in the garden.

and there’s always time to eat and relax.

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Many pots planted (and watered), and always Yoda – any season… Yoda (and Star Wars have appeared many times on this blog).

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I love lavender too – it figured very heavily at our wedding in September 2017 (it was our ‘confetti’ too) I have about 20 different plants around the front garden which gets sun all day.

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Lavender and a cabbage white butterfly

Many crocuses and violas too. Always something for the birds too.

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It’s not all purple flowers though – there’s lots of colour around the garden. Orange and yellow life my mood in Spring. I love tulips too.

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Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. Luther Burbank, American Botanist

Meanwhile, you’ll find me in the garden, drinking Earl Grey or a Pimms… you’re welcome to join us if you’re in the area ๐Ÿ˜‰

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What do you do that’s mindful?

Originally, I wrote about what my garden means for me for the April competition at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute. We were asked to suggest our mindful activities, there was a vast range including knitting/crochet, sewing, baking, art or drawing, listening to music, and a few people like me loved walking or being in the great outdoors.

Our speaker in April was Deb Connor – an all-round star who led some mindfulness exercises and stretches. She’s a trained mindfulness teacher, an acupuncturist and is a vegan too.

I’ve been doing mindfulness for a couple of years now – which combined with over 10 years of yoga has really helped my mental wellbeing. I’ll write about this another to

Women’s Institute – Cottonopolis WI

We have such alot of fun at WI meetings, in June we made beauty products from lavender, peppermint and coffee skin scrubs.

Our next meeting on Tuesday 3rd July (730 at St Micheal’s George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester) is tea tasting. I can’t wait.

If you’re local come along…

Let me know in the comments what you do that’s mindful? Do you have a garden? What does it mean to you?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

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In a Vase on Monday – Marvellous Manly, Sydney Harbour, Australia

We are all equal in front of a wave – Laird Hamilton – professional big wave surfer

My Chap and I were in Sydney for a few days ahead of travelling to Melbourne for my nieces 18th birthday party. I’ve been to Sydney seven times over nearly 30 years. It’s one of the truly great cities of the world – and I could never get tired of traveling around the city by foot, on the Ferries or the double decker trains. My Chap has never been, so we decided to see some of the key places. I’ll write some more posts about our travels around Australia, so do come back again.

Sydney has changed alot in some ways, and in other ways has stayed exactly the same. I’m not talking about the famous sights, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, the Ferries or the Opera House. Sydneysiders are still friendly, helpful and still have a really weird Australian accent. Though you’ll find, like most cities, the waiting and serving staff come from all around the world; we met Italians, Dutch, Germans, and of course, Brits and Kiwis.

Looking across Manly and the North Shore beaches

On Monday morning we headed off to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly, which is on the North shore of Sydney Harbour. Sydney has an amazingly cheap, integrated, transport system across trawith a top up card like the Oyster Card. It’s easy to add money and the fare system is very clear – it also extends right out to the Blue Mountains which are over an hour away on the suburban trains. I wish we had a system like this in Manchester.

The trains (which are double decker and also serve as Underground trains) and buses stop right by Circular Quay – I recognised lots of the ferry names from previous visits so I know they ‘recycle’ them. The Ferries come in various sizes and people ‘really do’ commute to work by ferry. You can easily ferry hop around the Harbour, including visiting the zoo. We didn’t have time to do this much, but will definitely be on the Ferries more next time we visit.

Manly is about a half hour ferry ride, which also takes you past The Heads, the entrance to the harbour and it’s very easy to see why Captain Cook sailed straight past, and made landfall at Botany Bay a few miles down the coast. It’s a very small gap for such a huge harbour. Both North and South Health are now part of Sydney Harbour National Park. Cook sailed on to Botany Bay which is now the centre of the Australian shipping industry.

Sydney Harbour is the fourth largest harbour in the world. It’s proper name is Port Jackson. The geographical centre of Sydney is Parramatta which is a 45min ferry ride to Circular Quay. Manly is 25 minutes heading east towards the Heads. So this gives you a good idea just how vast Greater Sydney is, each neighbourhood has a different character and there’s usually intersting things to p see, parades of shops, parks and markets. If you’re a ‘people watcher’ like me, you’ll enjoy pottering around and a trip on a ferry is always good fun. There are many bays and inlets, with harbour or sea views commanding huge sums, these are some of the most desirable locations in the world.

We saw incredible homes almost glued onto the cliff often with infinity swimming pools. They have alot of glass and huge family rooms and outdoor eating out areas.

Manly – an Autumn Day Out

Manly It’s the home of Australian board surfing. Everyone tells you to visit Manly and they’re right. It’s a lovely place with many 1920s Art Deco buildings, just head over the road from the ferry terminal up the Corso to the surf beach. When I first visited Manly in 1991, the Corso was full of seaside ‘tat’ shops, but it’s definitely scrubbed up now. There’s some great places to eat and plenty of clothing shops. The Art Deco pubs have scrubbed up too – no sign of the 100 dollars fruit machines like the first time I visited.

If you like watching Australian sport Manly have a Rugby League team – Manly Sea Eagles. I watched them cuff Parramatta, the last time I visit Sydney in 2004.

Manly Surf Beach

It’s the Autumn in Sydney, the temperature was a lovely 19 degrees, sunny and there were were 30 foot waves – but most of the surfers were out on a spur from the rocks by Shelly Beach – too far away to photograph though.

We had a lovely day pottering around Manly, which has some great walks which take you past the ocean swimming pool.

We walked from Manly Surf Beach, via Shelly Beach to North Head – about 3 miles. There are sculptures and heritage boards along the way – it turns out Manly surf beach used to be called Cabbage Tree Bay – there are a few of these trees on the foreshore.

North Head National Park – new setting for In a Vase on Monday

The hills on North Head were covered in Banksia trees, so I improvised with the ‘In a Vase on Monday’ – no plants harmed in taking the photograph ๐Ÿ˜‰ and I look closer to the edge than I was. I hope Cathy from Rambling in Garden will let me off with this – and I promise to do a proper vase when we are in Melbourne.

Do have a look at Cathy’s post this week – roses! There’s always beautiful flowers from around the world.

I’ve been taking photos of interesting plants I’ve seen around Sydney – I’ve got no idea what most of them are, although I’ve spotted plenty of our house plants growing happily in gardens – seen some huge Peace Lillies.

We spent a relaxed half hour looking at the views and watching the surfers. There weren’t many plants blooming, there were many succulents around and it was very dry and dusty. Easy underfoot though and there are board walks too. Since this is a National Park, no dogs are allowed (with v heavy fines) – not a problem for most tourists.

I did forget that sunset comes earlier and quicker than in the UK, so we had to cut short our walk around North Head and head back as we didn’t have a torch and my fear of Australian critters would overcome in the dark.

We walked back to Manly and had dinner, and a pint or two, in Four Pines Brewery – thoughtly recommended. Then the ferry back to Circular Quay – it was very windy so we were the only people out on the prow – hardy Brits.

It was a great day out ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunny Sydney – we will be back

It’s a whistle stop tour but we will be back to stunning Sydney…

Come back again for our next adventure around Australia – the Blue Mountains – an hour out of Sydn

Have you been to Australia? Where did you go? If you’ve not visited yet, what would you like to see?

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xx xx

On an adventure to BlogOn X

I’m planning on writing more this year, getting a shorter URL and I’ve got plenty of ideas for blog topics. More photos of flowers too. This weekend I’m off to a blogging conference run by the team at BlogOn (https//BlogOnuk.com) – it’s only down the road at Hotel Football, in Old Trafford, in Manchester – about three miles from my house. I’d seen bloggers taking about how well run, and useful, the conferences are, so I signed up. I wanted to learn some new skills, update my knowledge, especially about Pinterest, and maybe talk about collaborations. I’m very much looking forward to meeting some other bloggers face to face, that I know via Twitter and other social media. It’s always good to spend time with people who do a similar role to you, and have some fun.

If you’re coming to the conference come and say hello ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping I’m not a fish out of water.

We’ve been asked to write a bit about ourselves and link up… So here goes…

  • Share a recent photo of yourself

I’m Bec, I live in Monton in Eccles, which is in Salford in Lancashire. Monton is on the West of Greater Manchester, about six miles from the city centre; it’s leafy round here, with Worsley Woods, a couple of golf courses and the Bridgewater Canal is at the end of our street – we’ve got a good cafes, bars and restaurants around here and a growing number of street art bees.

I blog about flowers, gardening, wellbeing and our adventures out and about, usually in the Great Outdoors . I’m a Southerner originally, born in Berkshire. I’ve lived here for 20 years, visiting since 1989, so I’ve seen lots of changes around Manchester.

I’m definitely in my spiritual home among the friendly Northerners. Also, I know the correct words to use to order a bread role in any part of Greater Manchester. In Eccles its a barm ๐Ÿ˜‰ I eat my chips with gravy, but never mushy peas (Devil’s work).

This is the first picture of me I’ve ever put on the blog. I feel like I should tell you I’m wearing a White Stuff dress, with Razzle Dazzle Irregular Choice shoes – Outfit of the Day and all that ๐Ÿ˜‰ The photo was taken just before I headed out to my Hen Do afternoon tea last September.

  • Whatโ€™s your favourite pizza topping?

Olives, anchovies, prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella on a super thin crust.

  • You can have dinner with any three guests dead or alive- who do you choose and why?

I could easily pick three gardeners, three historians, three chefs, three novelists, three adventures, three musicians, three scientists, the list could go on. But, I’ll confine myself to a group who’d have so much to discuss and share – Nigel Slater, Mary Beard and Charles Darwin.

  • Up to now what would you consider being your biggest life achievement?

I’ve raised alot of money for charities to research Motor Neurone Disease (because My Chap’s brother died aged 49 in 2017 from MND) and cancer (because lung cancer took my Dad 18 years ago when he was 70). In my day job, I’ve helped academics win millions in funding for research with patients in the NHS – just about any topic or disease you can think of. I’m proud I help people make a difference – and make the world a better place.

  • If you woke up tomorrow as a character from any Disney film or book who would you be and why?

I watched most of the classic Disney Films as a kid in the 1970s, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Snow White, Lady and the Tramp, etc. My favourite is Jungle Book – I love the songs. I’ve never seen Bambi though.

However, since Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, I’m taking Leia at any age, as my character…

I was 11 in 1977 when Star Wars came out and I’d never seen a woman as the lead, a hero, in charge – it affected me deeply. The film was massive in the playground; I think I saw it three or four times that year. I was, and still am, a massive Star Wars and sci-fi geek. Wish I’d kept the light sabre though. In the recent films Leia, as a General, is only a decade or so older than me, so I hope I have her compassion, determination and wit.

Yoda and Pansies in the Spring Sunshine

    I have a special love for Yoda; he has appeared so many times in the blog he has his own Tag.

    • What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

    Stretch! Wiggle my toes and fingers. I have osteoarthritis in my fingers, toes and in my back, so I often wake up very stiff.

    • If you won the lottery what would be the very first thing you would buy and why?

    A round the world airline ticket for My Chap and I, to visit friends and family, watch some tennis, go to some gigs and walk on beaches. Then we’d come back to Manchester, pay off and do up our house and garden. We’d stay here, as we love Manchester, but we’d also love a house by the sea.

    • What is your favourite quote from a movie?

    ‘Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future’. Yoda

    • If you were a superhero what would your super power be?

    Time travel – not only because I love history – but it would mean I could visit people in a instant.

    • What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

    When I was a teenager, My Dad used to talk about ‘Things a Girl Should Know’, most were practical like how to open champagne, how to shake hands firmly, tie bow ties properly, change a tyre etc. He taught me to cook too, but that’s a whole other story.
    He told me to be true to myself, be kind, help people, when you can and say No to things you really don’t want to do.

    And to trust your gut.

    • Which emoji do you use the most?

    I’m absolutely bobbins at doing emojis, so I can only use three (typing the characters too) – ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything what would it be?

    My Granny Dolly who was a country woman, a working class suffragette, dog breader, judge at Cruft and a terrible cook, said to use moisturiser every day. Her skin was amazing, even in her 80s, and I’m afraid I didnt take this advice. I realised the error when I turned 40 and have mostly remembered the moisturiser since then.

    • What do you currently have set as the wallpaper on your phone?

    This is the bay at Flinders, on the Mornington Peninsula, just south of Melbourne. My Australian family live here some of the time. Flinders is a village, with a General Store, one pub and a few coffee shops – it’s a peaceful, sleepy and relaxed place. I love it there.

    • If you could do anything in the world as a legitimate job what would you do?

    Be a guide around one of the great gardens, photographing people, places and plants – sharing and tweeting too.

    • Where is your favourite place in the world?

    I don’t have one favourite place – I guess mine is more about what places make me feel – a state of mind. Contentment, peace, relaxed but it would definitely have beautiful flowers.

    And now to see if I can add the link button without a laptop. It broke on Monday so I’m using the tablet at the moment (TMI probably). Oops I chopped my head of on the link box.

    Do have a look at the BlogOn X – linky for more blog and bloggers ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve found some new ones to follow.

    Any thing I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.

    But, in the meantime, remember Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

    Carpe Diem

    Love Bec xx

    In a Vase on Monday: Create your own sunshine

    ‘Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine’ Anthony D’Angelo – American Educator

    The weather has been a bit chilly and windy here in Salford, so for today’s vase I picked the brightest colours I could find in the garden – lots of different kinds of dwarf daffodils, including a solitary frilly one. Most of the Daffodils came from a mixed bag of bulbs from my local garden centre Bents. I added some bright yellow primrose, which opens as orange, and a frond of blue scilla. I matched them with an aqua glass vase, which I bought at the Eden Centre a few years ago – it’s made from reclaimed glass, has a metal hanger, handy for wedging stems against. The vase is really a tealight holder – it’s appeared before In a Vase on Monday, with daffodils but I didn’t realise that until I looked it up on the blog. There’s rain drops on the Primula and one of the Daffodils has been munched – oh well that’s Nature for you.

    I probably sound like a broken record, but the weather has been very backwards and forwards in April in Salford. It’s been even more changeable than usual for April, – and not many April showers either. There was the brief hot, sunny 70degrees for a few days mid week, which ‘might’ have been our Summer/Spring. It was rather wasted as I was at work, but it did give me a chance to take some photos around Oxford Road. Doesn’t it look awesome and I love the living wall on the side of the Physics building. I wish there were more of these, and more Cherry trees around campus.

    Manchester and Salford look stunning at the moment with the many ornamental blossoms – I counted over 50 trees on the way home in so many shades of pink and white, on my 6 mile commute (and two miles in motorway in deep concrete cuttings). I must take some photos of the local ones around Monton – there’s four mature cherry trees on our Green, which definitely isn’t big enough for a cricket match.

    As usual I’m linking up with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden; she has a beautiful collection of many shades of white, with streaks of green when you look closely. Like many things, if you look closely you see more. A good reminder for life generally – and doing this helps me be mindful too. I’m expecting to have Tulips in my Vase on Bank Holiday Monday, there are many coming though.

    Blurt Foundation #blurtselfcareathon April

    This finished today -Monday 30 April 2018. It’s been a reflective day for me.

    I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding photos to represent the topics – sometimes it was very thought provoking, other times the photo and description were straightforward – some photos I had already and some I took especially for the prompt. I made a couple of collages too.

    I’d definitely do another of these prompts again. Have you seen anything suitable? Would you have a go? Let me know in the comments.

    *****

    Instagram: @becinmonton
    Twitter: @becinmonton

    Follow the Instagram hashtag – #blurtselfcareathon

    *****

    Thank you to The Blurt Foundation for all they do to help people like me – I’d have been a mess if I hadn’t found them. I’ve written about them a few times on the blog.

    Follow Blurt Foundation on Instagram @theblurtfoundation
    Follow the Instagram hashtag – #blurtselfcareathon

    Follow Blurt Foundation on Twitter @BlurtAlerts

    More resources and help for depression and anxiety at: www.blurtitout.org

    The Blurt Foundation’s CEO Jayne Hardy knows so much about self care, she wrote a book about it :-). It’s available from bookshops Self Care Project

    Follow Jayne on Instagram @jaynehardy_ and twitter @JayneHardy_

    *****

    I can see my neighbour’s stunning cherry blossom from my front door. Isn’t it gorgeous? It lifts my mood.

    In the meantime enjoy National Gardening Week – hope you can get outside to enjoy some gardens, flowers and plants… or just a walk in the sunshine or doing something you love. It’s due to be a sunny Bank Holiday weekend so we’ll be making the most of it.

    I’ll be taking notice of the small things too – #mindfulness. I’ve tapped into more of my inner sunshine despite being ridiculously busy.

    We go to Australia in less than two weeks to see our awesome relatives so we will definitely see some genuine sunshine (inner sunshine too).

    Carpe Diem,

    Love Bec xx xx xx

    Wordless Wednesday: DAY 25 WATER #blurtselfcareathon

    25 April 2018 – DAY 25 WATER #blurtselfcareathon Flinders, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

    I’m happiest by the water whether it’s rivers, lakes, the sea. All my Australian family love the sea too.

    This is Flinders, a village on the Bass Straight side of the Mornington Peninsula where they live some of the time. It’s peaceful and beautiful at Flinders. #rechargethebatteries.

    We are so excited to see our Aussie family in Melbourne next month.

    Wordless Wednesday – DAY 18 SOCIAL #blurtselfcareathon

    18 April 2018 – DAY 18 SOCIAL #blurtselfcareathon – My Australian family and friends, pals from Stirling University, Manchester work crew, RunMND posse, the Women’s Institute ladies and finally, but certainly not least my Eccles pals.

    I’m a sociable and friendly person – I’m so fortunate to have so many friends and family who’ve supported me in tough times and good. And of course, My Chap – he makes me a better person.