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Real Disney Magic

Arriving in Disneyland (Paris) on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon in early March gave me something I never dreamed it might.

Of course, I’d been looking forward to spending some really good quality time with my family – something that’s been in very short supply for so long that I couldn’t remember when it wasn’t. You know your life is going wrong somewhere when you realise you are miserable all the time and there seems to be nothing that can break the downward spiral of discontentment and despair. When it feels like even your closest family members really have no reason left to love you anymore because you feel so toxic.

When the FAB Hubby suggested it just before Christmas, I’d shrugged and assumed that, like many other dreams from the past, this one too would never see the light of day. I mean, what grown woman wants to go to Disneyland, for goodness sake? The thought HAD crossed my mind when my girls were much younger, and then again when my son was small – especially when one of my students was the son of one of the project managers of the much anticipated Hong Kong Disneyland Park  – but somehow, it just never happened and frankly, holidays are not something I’ve ever really known how to take. I’m not so good at the relaxing part and enjoying life, like many people I know.

So once I saw the tickets and the many conversations between the ten participants of this jaunt to the Continent confirmed that it actually WAS happening, I found I was really quite happy about the whole event. I am aware that I can be a bit of a killjoy at times and so decided that success for me during this holiday would be to have some good photos and some cherished memories of shared good times together. I hate roller coaster rides and to be honest, Disney itself has never been a massive influence on my life, so I really wasn’t expecting the place to work any kind of actual *magic* upon this world-weary, somewhat lost soul. How wrong can a person be?

It first happened about twenty minutes after arriving at the Gotham City-sized car park, which was remarkably empty at 2.30pm on this particular Friday afternoon. Perhaps, not surprising in itself of course, especially considering the cold, damp weather forecast and the fact that most people would be at work or school or otherwise engaged in their everyday lives.

We’d trekked the hundred miles from the car park to the main entrance (seriously – travelators help, but it’s a really long walk!) and not been too put off by the large green hoardings just outside the magnificent Disney Hotel, declaring that Disney Magic was being worked upon this particular area just now, so it was closed for visitors. I hoped that wouldn’t be too much of a recurrent theme for the next three days. These hoardings had shadows of the Seven Dwarves and characters from Peter Pan that we adults recognised but that scared the bejeezus out of my three-year-old granddaughter, Scarlett, who imagined they were real.

And then we found ourselves in Main Street, USA.

And there was the actual Disney Magic Castle.

DL MAgic Castle

The actual Disney Magic Castle at Disneyland Paris. It’s actually Magic.

Right in front of us.

That’s when I first felt the magic. ‘Dah, dah dah dah, dah dah dah! ‘ trilled the loudspeaker somewhere above my head (you KNOW the tune).

It was so familiar and yet so very strange. Actual goosebumps. And not just because it was about 2º.

And suddenly my face was wet with happy tears and I smiled for the first time in a very long time, from a place very deep within my soul.

This was going to be awesome.

A lot of other stuff happened during the rest of the afternoon – I’ll skip that for now (don’t worry – I’ll come back to it later, in another post!) though to get to the next time my face got wet. I KNOW! TWICE… in ONE DAY! Who’d ‘a thunk?

Again, it took me by surprise – because one thing on my list of ‘Things I hate with a passion‘ are fireworks. Ask anyone who knows me well – fireworks leave me cold. When I was about nine or so, I used to watch one of my favourite TV shows, called ‘Magpie’ which was a bit like ‘Blue Peter’ with a really catchy theme tune that immortalized the old wives’ tale about magpies –

Magpie logo

Murgatroyd the Magpie from the TV show

One for sorrow, two for joy;

Three for a girl and four for a boy;

Five for silver, six for gold and

Seven for a secret never to be told‘.

They added some extra lines that went Eight is a wish and nine a kiss – ten is a bird you must not miss, Ma -aah- ahh- ag- pie! (clicking on the link will take you to the theme tune on YouTube, in case you’re interested!) Murgatroyd the Magpie was their logo – I loved him!

In the UK fireworks are generally only used at one time of year, unless (nowadays anyway) there’s some kind of special celebration such as a royal wedding or a summer outdoor concert or something, but when I was young, all through the month of October small groups of children would make effigies of Guy Fawkes, using one of their dad’s old shirts and trousers stuffed with straw (or mum’s old tights) and wheel him round in a barrow shouting ‘penny for the Guy?’ to all and sundry in the hopes that some would offer you some dosh so that you could go and buy some fireworks to let off on Bonfire Night – ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November; Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason, why gunpowder treason. Should ever be forgot!‘.

Frequently, of course, some children (usually the older ones, who were generally out to create a lot of mischief) would let off their fireworks, throwing bangers and crackers willy-nilly before the designated night of merriment, much to everyone’s delight. Well, everyone who wasn’t me. You see, I had watched those awful episodes of Magpie when they featured the consequences of such mischief-making, gone horribly wrong. It seems that gangs of older kids (and I knew some of these people) routinely found it very amusing to tie Catherine Wheels or Rockets or other such delights to the tails of unsuspecting moggies and even occasionally small pooches and then light them and run for safe cover, to see the object of their handiwork desperately struggling to free themselves, before the inevitable awful lift off, lighting up the sky as they flew through the air.

This practice simply terrified me, all the more so since I knew several very unpleasant characters that were responsible for such atrocities, although I had no actual evidence that they were involved of course, so couldn’t substantiate my claims to any person of authority. In truth, I was very afraid of these louts myself so I wasn’t about to endanger my own safety so recklessly – even though I felt like a terrible coward for choosing this path.

Photographs of maimed cats and later, when the campaigns became more aggressive, there were pictures of maimed children too, were quite sufficient motivation for me to hate the source of such evil – fireworks, even tiny little sparklers, became the thing I feared and hated most on Earth. It’s taken nearly forty years for me to change my mind.

We’d had a long day travelling, arriving, exploring and being enchanted by Disneyland. We stayed in the park for the big fireworks show at 8.00 pm, seated on wet chairs in a huge crowd of people waiting for the same thing. Hot chocolate and some bright flashes and then we could go to our lodgings to get a good night’s sleep – that’s what I was looking forward to most at this point.

Until the show began.

And what a show!

As soon as it began, I could feel that *magic* happening again. I smiled once more. It was all so charming and adorable, so exciting and – what was it… thrilling?

I had to leave the family group to get a better view for my camera – we were too far away. I snickered in between other small groups and eventually found a reasonable vantage point to watch the show – me, who hates fireworks!

And before I knew it, those tears were streaming like Colorado Rapids down my face. The rain had definitely stopped, so it wasn’t Heavenly precipitation causing this flood. No-sir-ee. I was crying, smiling, laughing, pointing delightedly at nothing in particular, wiping away my tears with the back of my hand and never taking my eyes off the fireworks show.

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When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do
Fate is kind
She brings to those to love
The sweet fulfillment of
Their secret longing
Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true

It really is *Magic*!

Thanks for reading this one, there will be more because it was such a great experience, so do come back again! 





A yellow rose

My FAB hubby has bought me flowers almost every week since we married nearly 36 years ago – except for Valentines’ weeks, when I simply object to the ridiculous over-pricing of this simple expression of love. I’ve taken many photos of the various bunches of flowers over the years, but this one, THIS one is as close to perfection as I can find. I just had to share it with everyone.

Yellow has long been my most favourite colour for roses – and I don’t know if this happens to you when you see one but I’m always playing a snippet of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ in my head each time I see them. No? Just me then!

So, without further ado – I give you Liz’s Yellow Rose.

Yellow rose sm

A perfect yellow rose


Possibly perfect.


Nunnington Hall: The Carlisle Collection

I’m not often overly enamored of the various trinkets that stately home owners like to put on show to the Great Unwashed – i.e. you and I, Joe Public and the like. I mean, I love the historic settings and there is definitely great value to be imbibed through getting up-close-and-personal with the hoity-toitys’ treasures but sometimes these things can leave one really wondering if there ever were real people who, once upon a time, loved these objet d’arte as much as the historians would have us believe.

The Carlisle Collection, a unique collection of truly outstanding miniature rooms, fully furnished in intricate detail and commissioned by Mrs Kitty Carlisle in the early to mid twentieth century, is housed in the attic rooms of Nunnington Hall, near York in North Yorkshire.

It is enchanting; stepping in to see each display case is a sheer delight.

Carlisle Collection: Antique Shop showing scale

Carlisle Collection: Antique Shop showing scale

The scale is reportedly on an uncommon 1/8th (1 inch = 8 inches) measurement – uncommon because most other similar artifacts are usually on the smaller 1/12th scale (1 inch = 12 inches). The considerable attention to detail is outstanding and evident in each of the dozen or more displays.

This means that everything is really tiny, but perfectly formed.

… so many possibilities, so little time! I’ll leave whatever comparisons you want to make to your own imaginations 🙂 

The first room to capture my attention was the Antique Shop – apparently this was what she constructed with everything that was left over from furnishing the other rooms. What a creative way to display the gallimaufry of ephemera that had no other place! ‘Something doesn’t fit in any of the other settings? No worries! Let’s create an antique shop so nothing looks out of place!’ It’s a stroke of genius, in my mind at least.

Carlisle Collection: Antique Shop interior from above

Carlisle Collection: Antique Shop interior from above

Totally mesmerizing, I was fascinated with the tiny ceramic animals sitting on a display table and an exquisitely etched silver tea service on a silver tray. Looking through the glass in the front door made me feel like an actual giant. Truly. I suddenly completely understood Alice in Wonderland at the deepest level.

Next we spied the tiny greenhouse, complete with potted plants and gardening tools. *Squee!*

Carlisle Collection; Greenhouse

Carlisle Collection; Greenhouse

The painter and decorator’s workshop floored me with the rolls of wallpaper, stacked neatly on a shelf – Mrs Carlisle had taken the trouble to PRINT a variety of different patterns onto the wallpapers in store – one was conveniently opened up for inspection on the work bench.

Carlisle Collection; Painter and Decorators's Workshop

Carlisle Collection; Painter and Decorators’s Workshop

Teeny tools and even the bicycle parked under the stable door made me smile broadly. I was really beginning to enjoy the display!

Now we moved across the hall to another room filled with enclosed display cabinets. These were nothing short of spectacular. I was delighted also to spot that the National Trust provided appropriate portable stepping platforms so that younger visitors might be able to see the marvelous detail for themselves – it’s a nice touch.

The Adam Music Room with its variety of splendid instruments, including a mandolin, a Spanish guitar, cello, viola, violin, clarinet, harp and harpsichord as well as a music stand with sheet music stacked up rather precariously made me wish I had such a room in my own house.

Carlisle Collection; Music Room

Carlisle Collection; Music Room

The Palladian Hall, reputedly the last of the rooms to be commissioned by Mrs. Carlisle is modeled on one at Hatch Court in Somerset.

Carlisle Collection; Entrance Hall

Carlisle Collection; Entrance Hall

The balustrade pattern was hand carved and then each of the 84 balusters were cast in brass whilst the  88 inches of carpet for the stairs was hand embroidered by the dedicated Mrs Carlisle, who also created all of the soft furnishings for each room setting.

The Georgian Bedroom then is even more fascinating (for textile-techies such as me at least) by this fact – take a look at the teeny little patches that Mrs Carlisle used to make the quilt for the bed – each one can be no more than a quarter-inch in size. And they are hexagons.

Carlisle Collection: Georgian Bedroom

Carlisle Collection: Georgian Bedroom

And, remember that back in the times that she made these remarkable bed-coverings, she would have had to have cut each tiny hexagon out by hand, tacked it to a tiny card template and then stitched each with minuscule stitches to the next in order to create the 12 inch long (approximately) counterpane. My mind was simply boggled!

The Queen Anne Drawing Room was actually Kitty Carlisle’s first commission, which she had modeled upon F.J Early’s Queen Mary’s Dolls House.

Carlisle Collection; Queen Anne Drawing Room

Carlisle Collection; Queen Anne Drawing Room

The attention to detail is simply breathtaking – dovetailed joints and even secret compartments in the writing bureau! I was also informed that the china is genuine Limoges Porcelain. Again, our seamstress busied herself with tapestries for the chair covers and footstools as well as the handsome room carpet.

Also (not pictured) there is the Day Nursery, which features a delightful toy Noah’s Ark, complete with a long line of paired animals, patiently waiting their embarkation amongst many other cherished toys; there’s also a Night Nursery, complete with a cot and a crib and other accouterments to childish slumber. It’s just lovely to see.

What a wonderful way to spend an hour or two  – if you ever get a chance to visit, this is definitely a must-see attraction, especially if, like me, you’re interested in miniature worlds.

NB: With regards to copyright; I did ask if it was OK to take photos and was informed that as long as I didn’t use a flash this would be OK and I do hope that I’m not upsetting any copyright rules by publishing my own photos here – if anyone is concerned about this, please can they let me know by contacting me via the contact details on the ‘contact page’ of this website. Thanks.

There’ll be more about our trip to Nunnington Hall last weekend, which we went to in order to see the gorgeous ‘Aspects of Rievaulx Abbey’ Exhibition that was showing my two art teachers’ work, Anne Thornhill and Paul Blackwell – that’s a whole other post though, so keep reading!




Finding Fathers

My daddy died on the 9th of November 1969, when I was eight years old.

In those days, no-one discussed death with small people and so I knew very, very little of what happened to him. I have a copy of his death certificate that I inherited from my mother when she died, five years after he did. So I have known for over forty-five years that he was buried on the island of Barbados, but I haven’t ever plucked up the courage to find whereabouts on the island. It’s not a very big island so I guess I’ve always assumed it wouldn’t be too hard to find, when push came to shove.

So, the shoving is happening soon.

In the wee hours of this day, as others slumber, I am too excited to sleep. There are many reasons for this, but primarily it’s because I’ve finally realised that this is actually real and we will be going on the holiday of a lifetime in a few short weeks.


Millionaire’s paradise, playground of the rich and famous.

Exquisite, beauteous jewel isle at the very edge of the Caribbean, where the days are warm and sunny for almost all the time.

It’s also the place I spent some of my early years – regular readers will already know this. I arrived in early October 1966, just before the island declared Independence from Great Britain and lived through some interesting historical times, including the installation of the first Prime Minister, Errol Barrow. The school I attended stands adjacent to the Government House and I recall watching parade ground antics from my classroom window. I was fascinated by the white plumed hats.

It all ended with the death of my daddy, who wasn’t my (biological) father, but was always my daddy. It was a cold hard bump to find myself in England, in winter, after the warmth and beauty of island heaven. I knew it was because he had died, but couldn’t, for the life of me, fathom why we had to leave and return to Blighty. If only someone had thought me worthy of explanation.

My FAB Hubby has long promised that we will go there to see the place I spent time growing up – it’s just about the one place that I’ve never had any likelihood of an opportunity to revisit. This hallowed trip has taken on mammoth proportions and when the promise seemed to be starting to materialise a few short weeks ago, I’ve steadfastly promised myself that I would NOT get excited or begin planning anything because, well, I didn’t dare to dream that it might really happen.

But dammit, life is too short to not allow oneself the pleasure of anticipation, the thrill of planning what to do and where to go during our visit. So tonight, I gave in to the Dark Side and dove in.

It is simply breathtaking to think that I’m actually going to go.


So I’ve been downloading pictures to use as my screen savers – they’re not my photos, so I’ll not use them here  (except the one below -I can’t resist since this is where I learned to swim!) , but you dear reader, yes, I am talking to YOU! -You WILL get to see all the gazillion photos I will be taking myself. With my own camera. With my own eyes. Oh, YES! (I am a tad excited about that prospect, you may just detect a nuance of exhilaration. It may take a while to pass!). I may have to buy a new camera to be sure of capturing everything just so.

And then I stopped and realised something.

I Googled cemetery’s in Barbados and not only found the Westbury Cemetery immediately, but found my daddy’s records in mere seconds.

I think it’s going to be the first place we’ll go to.

I’ll let you know.

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach in Barbados, where I learned to swim.

As ever, thanks for reading!

Thoughts: Emotional Safety

Thoughts: Emotional Safety.

Ah, my friend, Tom Atkins, a sublime poet and philosopher with whom I am connected via the Creative Group that author Jon Katz conceived, is simply brilliant at expressing that which lies deep within many of us. These words are not only wise and beautifully articulated, but they are above all, like their author, kind and true. I struggle with being kind – to myself and sometimes towards others, but all I ever need to do is read his words and I am inspired. Thank you Tom, for your wisdom and your friendship. I hope you don’t mind me re-blogging this one.

Wedding Album

It’s been a while hasn’t it? There are a bunch of reasons why I have taken a hiatus from writing this blog which have little to do with why I’m pumped enough to resume today. On the basis that I’d prefer to write about something I HAVE been doing, rather than something I haven’t, just go with me here, OK?

So, a million years ago my lovely nephew, Lee, and his then fiancée, Lyndsey, asked me if I would be willing to take some pictures of their upcoming nuptials and given that I had done the same for his little brother a couple of years ago, I said ‘Yes’ of course. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? I’d be honoured, of course. So, I’d agreed.

And in any case, it was months away and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. At all. It’d be a cinch.

It’s possible, you might just be picking up on a teeny, tiny, almost insignificant amount of anxiety on my part about this project. I don’t know why. It’s just an ‘Ely’.

(What in Heaven’s name is an ‘Ely’? I can hear you asking… well, I could direct you to a very funny book entitled ‘The Meaning Of Liff’ that I read, way back in about 1982 I think, which had definitions of a whole bunch of ordinary words that gave an insight into that very vexed question, ‘What, if anything, is the meaning of Life?’. It was a chortlesome volume that held my attention for many a long moon  – as you can probably tell by this lengthy reference to a single definition held within it’s covers. An ‘Ely’ was defined as ‘That slightly anxious feeling one gets when you realise that something is amiss, very definitely, but you cannot quite put your finger on what is actually wrong – you just KNOW that something is amiss.’ See… don’t say this isn’t an educational blog – you’ve probably learned something new today. You’re welcome.

So, I’m having a bit of an Ely, but since I can’t quite say why, I push it to the recesses of my convoluted grey matter. Which is actually a very scary place to be. You really don’t want to go poking around with any kind of a stick there … seriously, you must have something way more entertaining to do than exploring the deepest crooks and nannies of my mind – unless you’re a psychoanalyst of course. Then, I could understand your unnatural interest in my mental machinations.


Sorry – I’ve been losing it a fair bit recently. It’s probably best if I return to the story for today eh?

So, I’ve agreed to take these photos and it all starts getting very *REAL* when we go and visit the venue and walk around the lovely grounds, inspecting the log upon which Lyndsey wants to sit, displaying the elegant bridal gown to best effect, looking wistfully off into the distance whilst a gentle breeze playfully catches her veil and causes it to billow gracefully… I can do this.

Of course I can.

I am the master of Photoshop.

I can make things happen, even if they didn’t really happen that way!

Or can I?

So, I don’t know who was more nervous that lovely sunny Sunday morning last August. Yes. You heard right. Last AUGUST.

Good things come to those who wait. That’s my defence. And I am sticking to it!

As I drove down the motorway at some ungodly hour (to be with the bride as she gets ready for the day) I am going over and over in my mind what to do. Which lenses to use for which shots. When to send the ushers out to get the next group of people. What to do if the children are uncooperative. All bases are covered – I have  pieces of paper with every moment planned, in triplicate, to ensure that everything goes swimmingly and I don’t do the unthinkable and, you know, screw up or anything.

And actually, for the most part, I didn’t.

Unless you count the bit where my camera did the implausible and decided to stop working properly just as I start to take all the pictures of the family groups… and I realise that the last 80 or so pictures were taken at an entirely incorrect setting. They’re all s**t. Blank. Mahoossively over-exposed so that all I can see on my display screen is a big white blur. For eighty shots. ‘Cos of course, I was so busy, I forgot to keep checking in between each different setting  that I’d not done something stupid like nudging a button somewhere.


But you see this is where being an extraordinarily organised ex-primary-school-teacher comes in very handy. And an ex-girl-guide to boot.


That’s their motto.

And now it is mine.

I had a plan B. Actually, I had plans C through Z as well, if truth be told, but I didn’t need any of them, so we can all heave a great sigh of relief as plan B was the Get Out Of Jail Free Card and I was enormously grateful to my FAB hubby as he had been snapping away with camera B, you know, JUST IN CASE. And Camera B (my daughter’s Nikon, set entirely on automatic, so that it was completely foolproof. Lesson learned), captured all those moments I missed. Beautifully in fact.

So now all I had to do was edit the 2,245 images and create a perfect album for Mr and Mrs Lee Deaves.

Holy Schmoley!

It’s taken hours and hours of staring at my screen, sometimes replacing pixels here and there, knitting images together, brightening faces, fixing intrusive lights or bags or whatever else to come up with these, my favourite images, which have made it to the album.

I am very proud of it.

And I loved doing it.

Which is actually what it was all about. For me anyway.

I hope you enjoy seeing these images – the link to the album is no longer available, sorry! but I’m including my most favourite pictures here too – thanks for being gorgeous subjects Lee and Lyndsey! And, congratulations too 🙂

The Dress ... just waiting for the bride!

The Dress … just waiting for the bride!

The Bride and her dad, setting off to the ceremony

The Bride and her dad, setting off to the ceremony

The Groom, reflecting on what is about to happen...

The Groom, reflecting on what is about to happen…

The angelic Flower Girl

The angelic Flower Girl

Cheers! Congratulations to the Bride and Groom!

Cheers! Congratulations to the Bride and Groom!

That dress is just gorgeous!

That dress is just gorgeous!

The Mother of the Bride looking relaxed just before the ceremony

The Mother of the Bride looking relaxed just before the ceremony

OMG! The boys all LOVE the ring... :)

OMG! The boys all LOVE the ring… 🙂

… and the final log photo…

On the Log, with the gentle breeze catching the veil (you totally cannot see the groom throwing that veil up, can you?)

On the Log, with the gentle breeze catching the veil (you totally cannot see the groom throwing that veil up, can you?)

Of course, no wedding is complete without a couple of bloopers… so, the log was located in quite a boggy area of lawn and the bride had removed her own shoes, so they didn’t get dirty. My able assistant (and rather FAB hubby) came to the rescue by offering his shoes as a substitute as the bride toddled off the the next location, under the romantic, wide-boughed tree – the groom simply peeing himself with laughter!

Erm...those shoes seem a little wrong don't you think?

Erm…those shoes seem a little wrong don’t you think?

And the final word must go to the bride’s mother, Pat; this picture says it all I think!

The Mother of the Bride has a final tipple...

The Mother of the Bride has a final tipple…

What a great day – thanks to everyone, but especially to the wonderful bride and groom who were marvellous subjects. Let’s do this again sometime eh?

Haiku: Simon and Lenore

From a great writer, about two muses whom we all miss now. Thanks Andy, for writing this and saying it all, so succinctly and beautifully. see – I needed far more than the requisite seventeen syllables just to say well done!

Newton's Take

Simon greeted her
Come Love Dog, so much to see!
Lenore kissed his nose

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PIF gifts – everyone needs them!

I’m a big movie freak, I think it’s the visual nature of the story-telling that appeals to me and of course, to millions of others.

What a great movie!

What a great movie!

A while back, (thank you IMDB, for the  reminder!) in fact fourteen years ago now, there was a superb film entitled ‘Pay It Forward’ in which a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) tries to change the world with a simple principle: instead of payback for favours that others do for you, why not do favours for other people before they do something for you? He started to ‘pay it forward’ as a guiding ethic and found that he was able to effectively change the world. Yes, it was probably a bit schmaltzy in places, but the basic tenet of doing kind acts for other people, without expecting something back from them has grown and grown as a concept and is now a global movement.

Pay It Forward - a simple and effective concept

Pay It Forward – a simple and effective concept

I was fumbling around on the InterWeb thing a few days ago, looking for something else (as usual) when I came across the Pay It Forward Experience. Founded by one man, Charley Johnson; it exists to simply make someone’s day better by doing something kind for them.

The principle here is even simpler than the movie of the same name – Charley isn’t asking any one person to change the world, but if each person who hears the message can be kind to one other person each day, well, that’s a great start and if you think about it, if everyone did it, then the world WOULD be a better place. A million people doing something nice for a million other people. THAT’S the way to change the world my friend!

I would encourage anyone reading this piece to go and check them out – it certainly makes you think. I can hear John Lennon singing ‘Imagine’ all the while when I’m thinking about it myself. A true brotherhood of Man.

The thing that sparked me on this train of thought was the arrival in the morning  post of a present. Given to me with great love and consideration by a wonderful lady whom I have never met. Her name is Eileen Hileman and she’s another one of those wonderful angels that walk amongst us.

I first ‘met’ Eileen about twelve months ago as we became a part of the amazing community that Jon Katz, an American writer whose books about dogs (in particular) have made me laugh and cry and squeal with joy, founded based upon the brilliant blogging journal he writes about his life at Bedlam Farm. It is an online community that is like no other, a place to share art in multitudinous forms with like-minded people. The friendships that have been forged in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm (or OGBF/ Farmies) in the past year are remarkable – I’ve found so many people who share a common passion for beauty, nature, sensitivity and creativity and all of them live many thousands of miles from my home, here on the grange. A collective uproarious sense of humour is usually at the heart of everything shared there, which makes each day seem just a little brighter and more cheerful than before.

We’ve all taken thousands of photos, posted poetry, artwork and blog posts as well as taking group courses and giving each other considerable positive feedback and support. We’ve laughed and cried together, congratulated and consoled each other at appropriate times. We have all shared many aspects of our lives, past and present with each other. In short, we have become true *friends*. It’s been a remarkable adventure into the unknown and I’m immensely glad that I’ve been able to be a part of it.

Eileen is the wonderful person who makes beautiful quilts for people. She’s made them for several group members – each for their own reasons. I’m not sure why she decided to make one for me, but I am so very pleased that she did! On Saturday my quilt arrived. A cuboid cardboard box was just waiting for me to rip it open. Then came the layers of tissue and then finally, out poured this glorious emerald-backed quilt with the most beautiful, jewel-like colours arranged in an intricate pattern all over the top. it is just so lovely, I can’t tell you – so here’s a picture.

The exquisite quilt that Eileen made for me!

The exquisite quilt that Eileen made for me!

I wanted to thank Eileen so much for her wonderful gift. It’s amazing.

In the true spirit of paying it forward, I’m going to have to think of something that I can do for others. I guess you’ll just have to watch this space to find out what that’ll be!

Thanks for reading!



Wishing it so…

Wishing it so….

Learning to FLY!

My virtual OGBF friend, Susan Popper, posted a link to Tom Petty’s performance of ‘Learning to fly’ and I was reminded of my life-long love for his music. This video is one of my favourites: because I am reminded of a time in my life when I was indeed learning to fly, metaphorically speaking of course.

How inspirational the lyrics for this song are: ‘I’m learning to fly/but I ain’t got wings/ comin’ down/ is the hardest thing’ – the words speaks for themselves really. But it’s the next verse that I find more true to life for me –  ‘Some say life/ will beat you down/ and break your heart/ and steal your crown’. The next line, ‘So, I started out/ for God knows where/ I guess I’ll know/ when I get there’ are the words that get me hooked – I always took the message to be that no matter what life throws at you, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get on your way to somewhere.

It’s a great thing to remember after the week I’ve had. Depression is not something you have a great deal of control over and I’ve been in a deep, dark funk for most of this week. I couldn’t put it into words at the time and now, I’m not sure I want to, but going out into this afternoon’s bright sunshine was the perfect antidote. The sea has an ethereal healing power that I don’t yet understand, but every time I look out over the undulating, sparkling water, whether it’s calm or stormy weather doesn’t matter, I am calmed, uplifted and refreshed.

Whilst walking around the Vincent Pier at Scarborough late this afternoon, I spotted this beautiful cormorant. At first, he dived spectacularly into the water and disappeared for a full two minutes – whether this was just out of my sight or he stayed under water all that time I don’t know, but I watched intently for his reappearance and was rewarded with the treat of his flight right across the water in front of me.

Learning to fly

Learning to fly

What a beautiful creature! I feel like maybe it’s time I learned to fly!

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