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Wordless Wednesday – Life isn’t a dress rehearsal – wear the shoes

9 May 2018 – Wear the shoes –

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Wordless Wednesday – Marvelous Manly, surf’s up

16 May 2018 – at the end of the ferry is Manly, Sydney. Just as stunning as I remembered.

In a Vase on Monday – love and marriage #teamRebecca

It’s been a week full of love for us, Valentine’s Day we’ve been to a very special wedding too – My Chap’s nephew 🙂 and his fiancee Rebecca.

Lovely food too – pancakes with blueberry sauce on Shrove Tuesday, made by My Chap, and a sumptuous Chinese dinner to celebrate the ‘Year of the Dog’

Wreath (not a vase )on Monday – deck the halls

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la! ‘Tis the season to be jollyWelsh carol dating from 16th century.

In this case it’s spruce but I’m sure you’ll get the idea 😉 Last Sunday, I went to a wreath making course at Ordsall Hall, a couple of miles from where we live. I’d decided earlier in the year to make our door wreath – My Chap usually comes home with a really blingy one from one of his florist pals. So I’d been on the look out for a course… the one at the Hall, you could bring your own greenery too….and it was a good price too.

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How to make a wreath
Huge thanks to Kate from the Gardening team at the Hall – she was great. Do have a look at their plans for the garden for 2018. Their 1918-style allotment is back for 2018.

We could take cuttings from our garden so I took rosemary, some cinnamon sticks from the spice cupboard, pine cones we’d picked up from Worsley woods and some extra spruce branches. There was all sorts of things to add, sparkly ribbons, baubles etc, but I decided to keep the wreath fairly minimalist – and emphasise food 😉

  1. There was a ring of moss (on the back) and spruce branches on the ring already which I added to. It’s time consuming to make this yourself (and hard on the fingers) and we were only there for a couple of hours.
  2. Lay out where you want everything to go first, and think about the layers of decoration – branches first.
  3. It’s exactly the same principle to attach anything to the wreath, wrap the wire tightly around twigs and, and poke the wire through the moss and thread back through tightly and snip off. For the pine cones, wrap around the lowest level of
  4. Group things in odd numbers, as it looks more natural – same in gardening too.
  5. I tried dried chillies but they disintegrated 😦
  6. Remember to water your wreath carefully, with a jug now and again, otherwise the foliage will fade.
  7. After I took the picture on our front door I added bells on ribbons too.
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17 December 2017 – my wreath hanging by the door from the Great Hall, Ordsall Hall

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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.

Wordless Wednesday – Azalea ‘thinking of home’ bush

pink azalea flowers

Electric pink azalea ‘Thinking of home bush’ 20 April 2017

A falcon hovers at the edge of the sky.Two gulls drift slowly up the river.Vulnerable while they ride the wind,they coast and glide with ease.Dew is heavy on the grass below,the spider’s web is ready.Heaven’s ways include the human:among a thousand sorrows, I stand alone.
Du Fu – Influential Chinese Poet (712-770) – Also he wrote often about azaleas