Category Archives: Life

Happiness – one week & five things that helped #3

The weather took a major turn for the worse this week (12-19 May 2017) – it’s hurled down for most of the week, the garden certainly needed it – everything was really parched. But, all the rain meant I didn’t get into the garden much, let alone anywhere else. I’ve also been feeling very tired, and arthritis pain is high.  However, I’m continuning to note down activities, people and things that make me happy or I’m grateful for.

As ever, major thanks to Suzy from www.fromthefringe.co.uk who hosts this weekly gratitude link up.  I think she’ll recognise the lighthouse, as she lives around the corner from me 🙂 Also to Emma from www.misspond.co.uk who inspired me to blog and also writes regular posts on Happiness.  Thank you ladies. One of the things, I love about blogging is meeting (usually virtual) new friends, finding a community and developing a network of people all around the world. I’ve been very grateful for them all these last couple of years.

Here are five things that helped bring me happiness this week:

1. Hen Do arrangements 

Officially, according to tradition (recent tradition, mind you), I shouldn’t be organising my own hen do – but I am.  It’s because I have friends from various parts of my life work, locals, friends from uni, women’s institute and friends I met for random reasons over the last 30 years. My two UK bridesmaids have a lot on in their lives at the moment. One lives in London and is doing a Masters. The other is local to me in Lancashire, but she has a very hectic family life, busy life and her own 25th wedding anniversary do to arrange.   I thought I’d get the ball rolling so I asked everyone what they might want to do… So I’ve done a survey – I want to give people a chance to get to know each other, potter around Manchester, and also have some fun.  No dressing up, no tackiness, no clubbing (I’m too nackered). I am quite sure an Afternoon Tea will be involved 🙂

2. A visit to Salford Angels Women’s Institute 

I’ve been a member of Cottonopolis WI (since it started in January 2015), we meet in Ancoats, just north of Manchester city centre, on the first Wednesday of the month (7.30pm). Do come along if you’re a local. There’s always cake 🙂

I’ve written a few times about WI means to me; the fun, camping, adventures and excellent meetings and speakers – it’s most definitely not jam and Jerusalem – it’s been a campaigning organisation since its inception in 1915, lobbying for equal pay, The WI were founding members of both the ‘fair trade’ and ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

One of the great things about all the new WI’s around Great Manchester is we do lots of joint activities and people attend other WI meetings – so I know ladies all over the city.  So on Thursday I went off to see the Salford Angels and had a lovely evening, with plenty of cake.

3. A walk around our neighbourhood – Monton in Salford

My Chap and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood after we’d had our tea. It’s something we do often in the summer evenings. We have a good look at all the flowers and plants in front gardens, noticing plants for our garden.  It was lovely to chat about this and that, nothing complicated or heavy, just a good chat and a laugh or two.

We are lucky to live in Monton, in Salford. It’s very green place, the Bridgewater Canal is at the end of my street, Worsley Woods are a mile, or so away, and there’s a couple of golf courses (not that we play – but there are many footpaths).  There’s even a parkrun at the end of our street.

It has a lighthouse that’s 30 miles from the North Sea (it’s really a garden shed) – just another reason why Monton is a bit quirky.

Red and white lighthouse, with two canal barges by the Bridgewater Canal

19 May 2017 – the lighthouse by the Bridgewater Canal, at Monton, Salford -30 miles from the sea!

4. Lunch with my pal C

I had a great time catching up with my good pal, hearing all her news and discussing my news – it really lifted my spirits. She’s a good listener. I’ve known C for over 12 years, we shared an office at work. She’s an IT geek and I’m not 🙂 Our birthdays are a couple of days apart, we usually go out to celebrate our birthdays, involving cocktails. Annual trips to Manchester Christmas markets, days out to Dunham Massey. Shes part of the Cottonopolis WI posse too – and obviously, she and her husband will be at our wedding in September.

5. My Gardening magazines arrived

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I love our garden and gardening.  Ive been a bit lax about take part in In a Vase on Monday recently, but I’ve got my eye on some margarites for next week. Bloggers get involved from all around the world. Their beautiful flowers lift my mood when I’m feeling low. This link hosted by Cathy at:

This week my Gardeners’ World and Royal Horticultural Society Magazine arrived. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through deciding what we might plant, or if money and space were available. The Gardeners’  World is very accessible for beginner gardeners like me, the RHS one helps with plant pests, plants that might suit our shady, north facing soggy back garden – and Latin plant names too.

We’ve been to RHS Tatton Park garden show most years (we are going again this year), but I only got around to joining RHS last year.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that the 5th RHS garden Bridgewater will be a mile or so from our house up the canal (hence it’s name). It’s great for Salford in so many ways, not least employment and training. Watch this space, as it develops – work has started, it opens in 2019 – the plants need time to grow 🙂

What have you been grateful for this week?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

This weekly gratitude post covers:

  • Week 3 – Friday 12 May – Thursday 19 May 2017
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Happiness – one week and five things that helped #2

It’s been glorious weather for most of the week here in Manchester, I’ve managed to get out in the garden every day, even if it was just to water things.  It’s been bone dry and both our waterbutts are empty.  I could, of course, show you a picture of plants in my garden, as that always makes me happy.  Likewise, My Chap lights up my life :-). But, this would be a bit of a cop out for a weekly gratitude post, so I think I’ll feature them on special occasions only.

I was inspired to write a weekly gratitude post by:

  • Suzy – www.fromthefringe.co.uk – she had a new nephew arrive this week how exciting 🙂 – her latest post on five things happiness is here

1. Choosing music for our wedding  

Four CDs and a note book with a green and gold dotty cover

12 May 2017 – choosing music for our digital playlist – plenty of indie classics 

We aren’t having a DJ at our wedding, instead we are going to have a digital playlist. We spent a happy Saturday night in listening to tunes old and new – and thank goodness for digital download sites.  We’re going to have lots of different playlists for different parts of the day. They’ll definitely going to reflect our somewhat ‘eclectic’ music tastes.  Lots of indie classics too.

2. Lost a stone 

Blue one stone slimming world award and book

12 May 2017 – slimming world one stone award and book

Given everything that’s been happening since Christmas, I’m really pleased to have managed to lose some weight, without going nuts on a silly diet.  I’m fortunate to go to supportive groups and have a great consultant who’s a really good cook. Ive got no number in my mind, just to fit into smaller jeans, help my arthritis pain and not look frumpy in my wedding dress. Onwards and downwards 🙂

3. Rock and Roll Bride magazine arrived 

Rock and roll bride magazines - blue haired and pink haired ladies

12 May 2017 – Rock and Roll Bride magazines

As I mentioned before ours is a very unconventional wedding, I was a bit lost looking for inspiration in the wedding magazines – all stick thin, 20-somethings with huge flouncy, sparkly, strapless, ivory flocks – and everything very expensive. None of it was what My Chap and I wanted for our day.  We had very clear ideas about what we wanted, and what we didn’t, but didn’t know how to find suppliers apart from trawling the Internet…

Then I spied a magazine front with a lady in a gold dress and her husband in tweed – both with plenty of tattoos – so I found Rock and Roll Bride www.rocknrollbride.com/ – a blog, and the ‘most’ supportive Facebook group – lovely, helpful and kind people.  Diversity at its best 🙂

So I would say Have the wedding you and your partner want 🙂 Although, it’s a lot easier when you’re paying for everything yourselves 🙂

4. A barbecue at a friend’s house 

Fire pit made from a washing machine

17 May 2017 – fire pit made from a washing machine drum

My Chap and I went to a lovely barbecue/house warming at friends we know from mountain biking and running. My Chap ran man v mountain with the chap last year and has mountain biked with them all over the Lake District, Pennines and Peak District. Ive eaten alot of cake and gone on plenty of walks in beautiful locations.  We caught up with lots of friends which was lovely.  The host M is a very handy, he made the firepit from an old washing machine drum.

5. New shoes – my first ever Irregular Choice 

Irregular Choice shoe box

17 May 2017 – my first ever pair of Irregular Choice shoes – for my wedding

I’ve bought my first ever pair of Irregular Choice shoes – no sneaky peeks as they’re for my wedding outfit. They are absolutely beautiful and so comfortable.  I don’t really do heels either so these are perfect. My Chap loves them and encouraged me to buy another pair for ‘going out’ 🙂 This could be an expensive passtime.

How has your week been? And what have you been grateful for?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

This post covers week Friday 5th May to Thursday 11th May – next week I’m hoping to be more prompt with posting – Thank you, as ever, to Suzy for hosting the link up – www.fromthefringe.co.uk 

Happiness – one week and five things that helped #1

The human mind always makes progress, but it is progress in spirals.
Madame De Stael (1766-1817), a woman of letters, at the heart of European romanticism and a leading opponent of Napoleon.

This year has been very tough, I’m not ready to go into details at the moment, but I’m beyond fortunate to have my family and friends around the world, supporting us all – but most of all My Chap whose been my rock since the day we met.  Im SO excited to be marrying him later this year.

My health hasn’t been great, including much increased arthritis pain too, contributing to bad sleeping and chronic exhaustion; but I’m working on all sorts of strategies to help me.  I am grateful to everyone who supports me, the NHS staff, colleagues, friends and family – I’d be in a pickle without them.

Amongst these tough times, there has been times of happiness, things and people that have made me happy. As part of my mindfulness practise, I’ve been noting them down, more systematically, in my diary.

I’d been thinking for a while that I’d like to start writing a regular post about what I’ve  been grateful for and/or what’s make me happy.  I was inspired by:

They’re great ladies – one I’ve known for years in real life too (first in Manchester and now she lives in Worcester) and the other lives round the corner from me – though we’ve not yet met face to face. That’s the Internet for you – hopefully we’ll meet up soon.  They write thought-provoking blogs, touching on wide ranging topics including feminism, life with a chronic pain condition, running, the outdoors, food, cooking, life in Manchester and the West Midlands – many adventures and plenty of gin 🙂

Please have a read of their blogs

1. Journals – gratitude, health notes and ‘to do’ lists

7 May 2017 – stigu journal, calm journal and ‘to do today and tomorrow’

I love my Stigu Planner*** (http://sticktostigu.com/);  it’s a combination of a diary, note book and to do lists. They describe it as a rest and zest handbook – there are themes for each month, weekly practise activities – some of them are really funny cartoons. I had a stigu journal last year too – it’s not too ‘full on’, supporting my wellbeing, without being all about ‘rules’.

The Calm Book – calm the mind, change the world*** is great for suggestions on Nature, Sleep, Travel, Work, Creativity, Relationships, Food  (www.calm.com), with affirmations and visualisations (there’s an app too).  The daily questions are:

  • What made you feel calm Today?
  • What are you grateful For?
  • What were three highlights of today?

It’s so beautiful with wonderful illustrations and pictures; I can’t write in the book – I tend to write in my stigu journal instead.

For well over a year, I’ve been making a note of my arthritis and pain symptoms, as participant in Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, (www.cloudywithachanceofpain.com); it’s a citizen science project run by the University of Manchester investigating if there’s a connection between weather conditions and chronic pain.  For me, warm, dry weather definitely helps my arthritis pain; I’ve been tracking it with an app as part of the project.  I’m looking forward to reading the wider results.

Also, I’ve been doing daily mindfulness practise for a couple of years now, and reflecting on what I’m grateful for each day – so I’ve decided to be a bit more organised about writing them down, so I can look back in the future, as my situation improves.

I’m grateful for all these things these things, and yoga too.

2. The Garden (and Gardening) 

Hand with two rings with mud under fingernails, sedums in background

7 May 2017 – been replanting sedums for My Chap – mud under the fingers as usual. 

I managed to get out in the garden every day this week, sometimes it was for only half an hour to water the plants. It’s been v windy and dry here.  We’ve managed to sort out, cut back and clear alot of the ‘dead wood’ from the winter. We’ve planted some shrubs too.  Ive written before how my garden is my solace; I know I ‘need’ to spend as much time as I can outside – even if it’s just drinking tea in the garden – when I’m too exhausted to do anything more.  I’ve been planning which flowers to cut for next week’s In a Vase on Monday too.

  • A summary of my ‘In a Vase on Monday’ offerings since 2015.
  • Cathy hosts the meme over at Rambling in the Garden – here’s her summary. Each post will have links to people (and their vases) contributing from all around the world.

3. Afternoon Tea with a pal 

Cakes sandwiches on a three tier vintage China cake stand

7 May 2017 – Afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience, Monton, Salford

I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend, and her beautiful baby girl, we talked about life, the universe and everything – wedding planning too. I met her at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute (www.cottonopoliswi.com) She’s wise and kind,  much more crafty than me, and makes great cakes too. The afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience*** in Monton was top notch (www.vintageambiance.co.uk)

4. Smoked Salmon Salad

7 May 2017 – smoked salmon salad in the garden


It was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK , and, the weather was lovely, so we had lunch in the garden everyday. My Chap is a great cook, and makes a great salad – this one had lovely heritage tomatoes too. My Chap and I talked about what what veg we might grow in the garden this year; cherry tomatoes haven’t grown well these last few years, we don’t have a greenhouse, so I don’t think this helps.

The smoked salmon reminded me of all the men in my life who’ve loved it. My Uncle Fred introduced me to it when I was about 18 months old. He, my Aunt, and my Dad grew up in Hackney in East London before, and during, Second World War with many Jewish neighbours so it was a staple food for them.  My love of cooking comes from them, I feel their influence and love every day, even though they’ve all passed on a good few years ago.

5. Wedding Planning 

7 May 2017 – wedding countdown website


We’ve been trundling on with our plans – we’ve spoken to our friend about invitations, I’ve met my dress designers, bridesmaids dresses are on track and we are meeting our florist soon too. Our photographer is great too and every time we go to our venue, we love it even more, they make luscious cake too.  Ours is going to be an unconventional wedding – just the way we want it.  My Chap is doing so much of the arrangements as I’m under the weather, it’s a team effort – Roll on September 🙂

The quote from Madam De Stael, was in my Stigu Journal, reading about her reminded me, we must persist. As Stigu notes elsewhere , life moves in spirals, only you can decide in which direction.  I’m  moving in the right direction… Slowly but getting there.

What have you been grateful for this week? 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec

xxx

I’ve mentioned activities in Friday 28 April to Thursday 4th May 2017
***Please note: I paid full price for both journals and afternoon tea, I wasn’t asked to write a positive review.

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

In a Vase on Monday -friends, flowers and the future – it’s never too late

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust 1871-1922

This week is the third birthday of ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. This week she asked us to join her and write on the theme of three.   Cathy’s blog post really resonated with me, her kind words in my difficult times last year really helped me, as did her fellow gardening bloggers from all across the world.  Reading their blogs and all the beautiful flowers lifted me so much… and inspired me to plant, prune and grow.  I’ve picked three kinds of plants to represent three groups of my friends.

  • Lacecap hydrangea – these are white, fading to pink and then finally the delicate brown of the lace which look beautiful through the winter. It’s planted in my front garden and it makes me smile every time I leave the house.
  • Rudbeckia – The dark one is ‘Cappuccino’; I don’t know the name of the bright yellow one. I bought it at Monton festival. There are hundreds of varieties of Rudbeckia.
  • Hypericum – which has small yellow flowers in the spring which change to red berries in late summer and black berries in the autumn. This plant was in my front garden when I bought my house seven years ago.   So much has changed since then but so much has stayed the same.

My friends have helped me so much especially these last 18 months, just as my garden has.  Writing my blog helped me too even though most of the time I was so exhausted, I could barely string a sentence together or take photos.    I’m feeling so much better now, but my new role means reams reading, many people to meet and numerous projects to plan, so  less time for getting outdoors, let alone blogging.
My mission for 2017 is to be much more organised!

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

These flowers represent just some of my friendships –

  • Hydrangea – my Women’s Institute friends (some are old friends and some new) Inspiring Women every one of them – We’re members of Cottonopolis WI, in Ancoats, in Manchester www.cottonopoliswi.com– do come along if you’re local
  • my pals from work who come from so many places near and far (like the many varieties of Rudbeckia), some of them I’ve known for nearly 20 years and others are much more recent arrivals in my life.
  • and my Monton pals who’ve always been here with me  🙂 like the Hypericum.

The square vase is a gift from one of my oldest friends from University in Stirling – I’ve known her and my other Uni pals thirty years this autumn.  How did that happen ;-)? I feel 31 in my head apart from when my arthritis, aches and pains are playing up.  They’ve been such a support to me over so many years, but especially these last 18 months.

Cathy also talks about how picking flowers for her Vase has made her very observant about her garden.   This certainly chimes with me – noticing what is in my garden, what’s in bud, flowering, what’s gone over – and also what’s been munched by the slugs.  It helps with my mindfulness, which is one of the  activities which helps me daily.  She also says it’s humbling to read how the meme has changed people’s lives.  I know it’s changed mine.

Thank you Cathy

I know how much though goes into Cathy’s comments on every blog that links up to the meme.  Her words helped me so much when I was feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.

And I’m sure this will make Cathy smile – as usual I’m late with my contribution.  I don’t think I’ll count up how often I’ve actually posted on a Monday and how often I’ve missed the day – oops. Cathy says it doesn’t matter so I guess I’ll keep picking vases and posting them a bit late.

It’s been a very hectic at work – and frankly it’s been another momentous week for the world.  So I’ve been reflecting this week about remembrance, friendship and the future.

  • I joined in with ‘In a Vase on Monday’ on 16 March 2015 only a couple of weeks after I started blogging – tête-à-tête daffodils and iris.  I’ve planted daffodils for next Spring this week – how appropriate 🙂
13 November 2016 - 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

RHS Bridgewater – their 5th Garden here in the North West of England

This week I went to a public meeting about the plans for the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Garden on the site of Worsley New Hall in Salford.   It’s called Bridgewater because the canal runs to the south of the site.

  • There’s a sneak preview on the RHS website – and they’re asking the public for comments via email.
  • The plans look wonderful, they will repair the walled kitchen garden, repair the Victorian cottages and bring them back into use.
  • There will be low glass buildings, with cedar cladding and wild flower roofs.  It goes to Salford planning committee in December, with work starting Spring 2017.
  • There will be 140 jobs created at the garden, many volunteering opportunities, education, and support for schools, young people and the local community.  They will repurpose the disused terraces and formal gardens, repair the lake and put in a new one.
  • The first phase will open in 2019 (the area in the SW on the map) as the plants need to grow :-).

 The garden will be about a half hour walk from our house along the canal.   I’ll be a regular visitor; just like my Mum who’s a regular visitor at Wisley.  We often walk up to Worsley Green and the Woods, no one can believe how lovely it is despite being in the middle of the city.  We’ve been getting out on more walks around Lancashire and Greater Manchester too, so fingers crossed I might get up a small hill or two next year.

I can’t tell you how excited I am.   It will be stunning…  a new beginning.

In other news, we think we’ve found our wedding venue for September 2017.  It won’t be a surprize that it has a beautiful garden.

My Chap is my rock – he has truly helped my soul blossom – he IS my new beginning.

As Robert Ford (1874-1963), the American poet, who knew a thing or two about the rural life, said:

In three words I can some up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.  Robert Ford (1874-1963)

Carpe Diem indeed!

Much Love

Bec

xx

World Arthritis Day – my hand, his hand, our future

12 October 2016 – always holding my hand – sometimes metaphorically 🙂

My chap picks me up when I fall, holds my hand and is always by my side – my rock.  He’s always so positive, even when life throws up problems.

On #worldarthritisday I’m reaffirming a promise I made to myself – to keep going forwards.

I was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in my fingers and toes in Summer 2015 aged 48 – and in my lower back in September 2016. I’ve had chronic back pain for six years so I think the arthritis has been developing for a while.  It’s constant pain, every walking moment of every day – nothing stops the pain, painkillers aren’t a solution for me.  Mindfulness helps as does yoga and tail chi – it’s trying to manage my pain and stiffness. 

But, I carry on with life, doing as much as I can. 

worldarthritisday.org/

Sunshine and warm weather help me;  I’m having a good week as we are on holiday in Lisbon. I track my symptoms with the ‘cloudy with a change of pain’ App developed my researchers at the University of Manchester.  It’s a citizen scientist investigating if the weather affects peoples’ arthritis pain and other symptoms. anyone can get involved.  It’s really helped me.

www.cloudywithachanceofpain.com