‘It’s never too late in life to have a genuine adventure’ RobertKurson, author (1963– )
Happy New Year 2018
Happy New Year everyone, may your 2018 be happy and healthy. We’ve been down south to visit my Mum, and only got back to Salford for Hogmanay, so I decided to pick plants from both gardens. I cut some Cornus (dogwood) from my mother’s garden which has bright red stems and variated leaves, and when I got home, I cut some Hypericum from my front garden. My garden is very wet and blown about, but there are crocus and narcissi poking through the soil, and the hellebore are flowering so they will probably get their chance next week in a vase.
This was one of the first vases My Chap bought me; it has appeared a few times in In a Vase on Monday as has the Hypericum, inflower though ;-). There’s a few shoots poking through too, so that seems appropriate for a new year too…
Please have a look at Cathy’s vase this week, over at Rambling in the Garden who hosts IAVOM, as well as contributions from gardeners around the world.
My Mother’s Garden – frosty December 2017
I’ve written a few times about my mother‘s garden, she’s lived in the house since it was built in the 1970s – there’s many happy memories of food, playing games and relaxing in the garden with the family. My mum is the gardener in the family, my Dad mostly dug holes for plants, mowed the lawn and grew herbs. I get my love of gardening from my Mum.
The soil is clay so that’s why much grows in pots and a North facing garden just like ours in Salford. There’s usually a great many fuchsias in pots on the terrace – as usual, they’re living in the garage over the winter (there’s a window). My Mum has a gardener to do the heavy work, and pruning now, as she’s been retired along time. My Chap and I do get roped in when we are visiting though.
2 January 2018 – frosty Berkshire garden (including Dogwood)
We had a very quiet Hogmanay, it’s been a very tough year with loss, health troubles, especially my osteoarthritis, but I’m on the mend now and am much more myself. But 2017 was the Best of Times too. I married the love of my life 🙂
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 continuing to note down activities, people and things that make me happy or I’m grateful for.
Thanks, Emma from www.misspond.com who inspired me to blog and also writes regular posts on Happiness. 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.
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.
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. She’s 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. I’ve been a bit lax about taking 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.
6. Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Garden, Salford
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 Bridgewater Canal from our house (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 🙂
‘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. I’m SO excited to be marrying him later this year.
My health hasn’t been great, including 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 have 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 makes me happy. I was inspired by:
Many other bloggers use happiness, gratitude or mindfulness journalling
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 around 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 🙂
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*** (www.sticktostigu.com/); it’s a combination of a diary, notebook 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)
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.
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
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 every day. 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 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 the 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?
I’ve mentioned activities on 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.
Hope smiles from the threshold of year to come, whispering ‘It will be happier…’ Alfred Tennyson
Worsley Woods Parkrun Marker – 1 January 2015
I don’t make resolutions in the conventional sense of ‘New Year, New Me’ as I think the pressure of expectation often makes people fail. I just believe if you want to change something whether it’s big or small, just do it. Pick a day, start and try your best… it doesn’t have to be on 1st January either. It’s also important to remember that small changes count just as much big ones; everyone has to start somewhere… and this year in 2016, it’s about carrying on, finding more happiness and new adventures.
In many ways, 2015 was a terrible time which had a massive impact on me – my friend Steve died very suddenly, which had an overwhelming impact on me mentally, physically and emotionally. I’m still working thorough this and getting myself back to where I want to be. Then my role changed at work very suddenly and there are huge rearrangements next year across the organisation, so there’s on going uncertainty. I have no idea what I’ll be doing and where I’ll be at the end of 2016. But I know My Chap will be by my side holding my hand (metaphorically too) – he’s my rock. My family and my pals have been great too (mostly). I’m a happy person generally, but my resilience, energy levels and health have taken a major hit in 2015. But, this trauma has reminded me about what I believe…. Continue reading →