Screw it, let’s do it

Someone asked me recently why I don’t really ever post photos of myself anywhere. This. This is why.

I know my limitations, but admittedly I frequently indulge in outrageously sexy pics other people post..
Credit: Voodoo donuts
Credit: John Deere
Credit: Sheepland Slippers
Credit: The Indepenedent


I have reached an unexpected stage in my parenting career where I have found myself with a modicum of time for things like blogging (apologies), dental treatment, moisturising and more importantly, reading! I am luxuriating in the fondling of pages, the feel of a smooth spine, the crackle of a new edition and the weird smell of libraries. It’s a glorious thing to be able to escape into other worlds, and learn a few things to boot.

Which brings to me to the title of this blog, and also the title of a short read by Sir Richard Branson. I didn’t really intend to read his book, but it was 10p towards ‘Dogs for the disabled’ and a long wait for a train. While the book contains a lot of motivational messages, lessons on life, and ways not to fly a hot air balloon that I will merrily dismiss, it did remind me that dreams can happen when you’re a bit brave and just get the hell on and do it.

I wanted to blog again. Really just for myself. It’s a beginning.

Everything else? Screw it, let’s do it!

Running with it


I have started running.

And blogging too again, apparently.

I have never had myself down as being a runner. Too many bits of me seem to move independently and require strapping down. Then there is my unladylike gait. And the thought of me in leggings…the thought of other people having to see me in leggings…it just didn’t seem kind.

Running also seemed to me without reason. I read somewhere once, that the reason why people wear all the gear is to indicate to others that they aren’t running to or from something, they are just simply ‘running’. Because.


Now, I love walking. Walking relaxes me, it is at a slower pace and so you are afforded the opportunity to stop and notice and wonder; it is also a very essential part of getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’, but without the need for a sports bra.

Earlier this year however a friend turned to me and asked me to run with her. It is therapy that she badly needs right now, and she asked if I could be her running mate. I had decided when the hand struck midnight earlier on in the year that my mantra from hereon is going to be ‘why not’ – a strange little experiment I have going on to see where this might take me.

So far only to Little Heath Road and back, but you know…

And so this was my reason for starting running. I’m not sure I love it yet, but I am steadily making progress on my ‘Couch to 5K’ app, and it’s always interesting to see what you can do when you truly step outside of your comfort zone. All the times I have really done this, I have felt my most free.

People say they run to feel free.

And now I own leggings.

Working on it…

Steve's building services

It’s now seven weeks into the build and we are all absolutely exhausted.

Yes, of course, the prospect of living in an environment infinitely nicer than our previous one, particularly minus the anaglypta wallpaper and omnipresent smell of granny (think carpet underlay) is very exciting – but the process of achieving a vision of semi-detached perfection is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. Hence no blog for quite a while.

It doesn’t help either that the Toddler has been going through one of her ‘phases’ too which has entailed random napping, much grumpiness, the necessity of cheerios to aid the putting on and removal of clothes, and (much to my dismay and feelings of failure as a parent) copious amounts of Peppa Pig. And Suits. And wine.

The latter two might have been for me.

It has long been said that a tidy home is a tidy mind. Right now, neither of these things ring true, and I have come to realise to what extent my immediate surroundings have an impact on every facet of daily life!

Still, not long to go, and oh my it is all showing great potential. I share with you a small window in to the madness…


IMG_20140808_163238 IMG_20140808_163351 IMG_20140811_200321 IMG_20140811_200519 IMG_20140818_163234 IMG_20140822_180926


Solar powered

Cliveden Gardens, Maidenhead

OK, so blogging every day was perhaps a tad unrealistic, particularly given that the sun has been putting in a lot of appearances lately, and every part of my being just wants to burst into song, frolic amongst ears of wheat, and run through the hills sporting an Austrian girdle.

Do you get that?

Sun (snd very blustery days) makes me a little  bit ADHD, and so I have been dragging poor Kate and others that are willing to anywhere open within a 25 mile radius. It’s been super!

Water Garden at Cliveden, Maidenhead
Water Garden at Cliveden, Maidenhead
Kate and her Grumpy
Kate and her Grumpy
Lady Muck
Lady Muck
Small girl, big chair
Small girl, big chair

I also suspect I am in need of a holiday. I do tend to go a bit stir crazy given any restriction on movement, and there is only so far we can currently travel whilst keeping to the toddler’s nap schedule (to be messed with at your peril), and my dear daughter does become rather restless if in her car seat for any length of time (and the raisins run out).

In fact she hates sitting still.

Don’t know where she gets it from.

6 May

Station at Beale Park


For Mother’s Day I was given an annual pass to our local wildlife park, and Kate and I visit often (the gardens particularly are so beautiful). Kate’s obsession is the little train that does a circuit of the park, and we have made it a tradition now to catch a ride before heading home.

Today as we approached the little station, it appeared we would be the only passengers on this trip. The train’s driver asked if we minded waiting to see if a few more people would turn up, and as we were hurry, we stopped and chatted and were regailed with this story.

A month ago Bryan the Train Driver had been sought out by a company who specialise in finding the heirs of unclaimed wills. This had led him into discovering an Aunt he never knew he had, and becoming the recipient of a sum of money that was greatly unexpected. Feeling rather awful he had never had contact with this long lost relative, Bryan felt it only proper to attend the Aunt’s funeral, where he met a couple (The Cornwells) with whom he shared a connection – Glebe Court, an old manor house in Goring-on-Thames.

The Cornwells had been house keepers for the owners of Glebe Court – the Shoolbreds and later the Golodetz, but left when the ouse was demolished and the land sold to developers in the 1970s. Bryan’s link to Glebe Court had been to obtain some architectural salvage prior to its demolition in order to sell this on for his employers at the time. However, he had found it so difficult to let some of the pieces go, such was the beauty of their craftmanship, he had bought them himself and incorporated them into his own home in Goring (where he had moved to from Worcester). At the mystery Aunt’s funeral, Bryan had told Cornwells of this, and they were visiting his house this very evening to reminisce about the good old times of Glebe Court.

I write about this because my Grandparents, Frank and Ivy Godfrey, and their seven children (including my Mum) lived in Glebe Court Lodge, the Groundsman’s residence at Glebe Court, as my Grandad was Head Gardener to the Shoolbreds and knew the Cornwells well.

They say that you know everyone in the world through 9 people. Today I believe this to be true.

A post a day


You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
Love like you’ll never get hurt,
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’,
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

Susanne Clarke and Richard Leigh

I do. A short post a day to keep me in check and to see what becomes of writing like no one is reading.

Loaves and Fishes


London Aquarium


Emily and fish

Helen and Emily

yellow snow

Yesterday I met up with my dear friend Helen and her daughter (and my adopted niece) Emily, for a visit to see the ‘fishes’ at the London Aquarium. It was wonderful to see them both, and as is always the case, Emily had grown up beyond all recognition and kept me in constant fits of giggles with her exclamations of ‘oh no’ at the sight of anything untoward,  and was a lovely reminder of how amazing a place the world is when you have only 2 years worth of experience, and aren’t yet 3ft tall. The shock of the sensation of touching ice was enough to provoke tears, but a hug from Mum was all that was necessary to put everything to right again. These girls have a very beautiful relationship and friendship, and it was great to be part of their world for a day.

Sadly, however, not m/any snaps of our trip were in focus owing to the lack of light, a ban on flash photography, and the adventures of someone who is two, but this is of course by-the-by, and the good news is that no one was tempted by the yellow snow.

I have become a bit obsessed by bread blogs lately. I haven’t yet pursued this avenue of baking, but I am doing a fair amount of research with thoughts to entering a loaf into the Tilehurst Horticultural Association’s annual show. I fear I will face stiff competition owing to last years offerings, but I hope that 3 months of practice will hold me in good stead.

If not, I will be accepting ideas for a ‘garden on a plate‘ – this year’s theme being ‘The Olympics’. I consider that there is more than one way of being creative with a spring onion…

I dream of Paris

Paris at night - I dream of Paris!
Source: Inhabitat

I have always been a dreamer, and today all I can dream of is Paris.

My only visit was with Neil the weekend before we moved into our first house. Or rather I helped Neil move into his first house and never left.

A minor detail.

We stayed at a tiny hotel in a windy back street of the 15th arr. district. It was a really hot summer and I remember being really excited that we could see just see the Eiffel Tower from our bedroom window if we stood on tip toes, albeit rather obscured by the heat haze.

We of course journeyed to the summit of the ‘Tour de Eiffel’, took a boat trip along the Seine, saw a portrait of a lady smiling at the Louvre, took in the sights of the Champs Elysee, raised eyebrows at the Moulin Rouge, got lost in the Trocadero and had some very cheesy caricatures drawn of us that thankfully never made it near a frame.

My most favourite memory of Paris however was the night of the ‘Festival de la Bastille’. We had caught the Metro to visit the Sacre Coeur which although was closed, gave us the most spectacular view of the city at dusk. We ate at a street cafe, and I don’t even remember how many carafes of the house wine were brought to the table, but enough that I later spent my last few Euro on a tacky keyring that played the French National Anthem.

When the stars appeared we followed mysterious crowds that swept us towards the centre of Paris. We then sat with thousands of people in the middle of a street, tucking into what can only be described as a ‘custard slab’ sourced from a divinely fragrant patisserie which was as oozey as it was delicious. We were to this point however still quite unaware of occasion we appeared to be participating in, and so were somewhat spellbound when all of a sudden it emerged we were here to view the spectacle of a glittering Eiffel Tower forming the centrepiece of a booming firework display set to rousing tunes, so loud, you felt every beat. It was wonderful evening, just perfect, and I loved every minute.

I long to go to Paris again and visit the places we weren’t able to fit in to our first trip – Notre Dame, Versailles, the flea markets, the Artisan’s Quarter, the interior of the Sacre Coeur! But also a little bit of me is afraid that going again might spoil the romance of my first encounter.

So for now I will merely dream of Paris. I might get another custard slab though.

So this is what happened…

In approximately a week’s time my beloved and I were set to pack our lives into suitcases, give our house keys to some select strangers in return for rent money, and move to the United States of America. Boston, in fact.

One however can not always foresee the visa application process not following its intended course.

Still our fact finding mission in November last year threw light on a number of interesting points of note I thought I’d share with you – just in case you yourself are about to embark on a similar endeavour.

1) At the car hire place, when offered a free upgrade to a mini van, take it. Your choice of car (although completely adorable and, if you think about it, really quite funny…) means your husband will look like this. All week.

Neil standing next to 'The Beast'

2) When an estate agent tries to sell you a ‘ranch house’, and your mind conjures up a whole host of romantic and whimsical images of skipping through pastures green whilst the cattle graze on yonder hillock – they really mean a wooden bungalow. On a main road. Next to a gas station.

Ranch House in Newton, MA.

3) Ovens are HUGE. Even the little ones. This one was used exclusively at Thanksgiving and Christmas and for the remaining period as useful storage for an overflow of crockery.  This is not unusual. (Point of note – this is the kitchen we removed from our old house in England and we have seen many times since. Did everyone own this kitchen at one time or another?).

The omnipresent kitchen

4) A ‘full disclosure’ is normally provided with every house viewing (or ‘showing’ as our friends across the pond would have it).

Expect information to be forthcoming

5) A garden or ‘yard’ is normally only considered the domain of people with pets or children. Otherwise a deck for the purpose of ‘grilling with friends’ is thought sufficient.

An example of a deck. Perhaps not the best.

6) If you’re posh you frequent Starbucks. If you wear a Burberry hat at a jaunty angle and drive a modified motor vehicle, Dunkin’ Donuts is considered your crib.

The sun shines on the Woburn ('Wooburn') Dunkin'

7)  If One is employed in public services, work must be carried out during daylight hours.

Please note: an actor was used for purposes of re-enactment. This photograph does not represent a true occurrence.

8 ) Unfortunately my dry wit was ill received as it transpires no one has ever heard of Duncan Goodhew.

Local Reading store

9) You can travel half way across the globe, but still end up right back where you started.

En route

10) See.

Welcome to Reading, MA.
Reading, MA. high street.

11) They even have the same newspaper…

The Reading Chronicle

12) Our mini adventure ended with a trip to the beach at sunset where we watched as the plane that would take us home landed, ate chips, and froze ourselves to death. Just like England really.

Plane coming in to land at Logan airport
True Brit enjoying some bracing sea air.

Only a little bit different.

The end is nigh

This Tuesday I handed in my last ever piece of coursework at Uni (see above) marking the end of an epic battle with deadlines that has consumed my very existence for the past two years.

Ok – so I still have a dissertation to write – but no longer will I have to rise at 5:15am every Tuesday morning to catch a train, no longer will I have to endure painful lectures on the intricacies of Strategic Environmental Assessment, no longer will I have to stifle giggles at our lecturers emphatic hand gestures, try and hide yawns when sitting in the front row of class or pass out through tiredness on the bus home.

Now all that stands between me and freedom is 15,000 words regarding socially rented housing in high market value areas.


Where’s that gin and tonic?