Stuck for inspiration? Try thinking about spaghetti hoops…

depositphotos_4767508-Spaghetti-Hoops-in-Tomato-SauceSpaghetti hoops.

Makes me think about a girl called Deirdre – or Dege as she preferred to be called.

We met at school when we were fifteen and became friends, purely because we were the two new girls.

Dege lived near the school, I did not so I cycled to her house every morning to change. Reminds me of the very first day when I forgot to do up my belt. I had a rather embarrassing length of tan leather belt dangling down my back and over the top of my new grey skirt.

homer-simpson-duh

At lunchtimes we would go to her house – in the days when you were allowed to do that – and she would always have spaghetti hoops on toast. I ate my sandwiches. It became a kind of ritual.

After a few months our paths divided although we still sat next to each other in form class – opposite a girl called Kirsten who is to this day responsible for my one and only (non-family) nickname.

Dege became a cool kid. I did not.

Dege joined the trendies. I joined the music crew.

I used to hang out in the music rooms – in the days when you were allowed to do that. Dege hung out wherever cool kids hung out. I still have no idea where that was.

Dege listened to Prince. I did not.

I listened to Rick Astley (well, he’s cool-ish now..). Dege did not.

One day the school went into lockdown following the escape of a prisoner from Broadmoor hospital which was only a few miles away. We could only leave when our parents arrived. At fifteen it was both scary and exciting.

After a while I walked to school and stopped leaving my bike in Dege’s garage. We rarely saw each other outside of form class.

Female legs jogging on a trail

That was over twenty-five years ago and I have no idea what Dege is doing now – nor do I really want to know. We were in each other’s lives for a time when we both needed to be – and then we moved on.

All of that from a tin of spaghetti hoops.

(For the record, I made spaghetti hoops on toast for lunch today. My eldest son didn’t want any as he had not long dragged himself out of bed for breakfast and my youngest flatly refused to eat it. The birds had a feast though.)

Ah, well. It was worth it for the memories.

Wonder if Dege still remembers spaghetti hoops at lunchtime….

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Making time work for me

Does frustration ever hold you back? Do your days fly by without any real feeling of achievement?

If so, I am with you, 100%. Or rather, I was with you.

The onslaught of the school holidays means an inevitable dip in my schedule. Any ‘work’ time that I have, has to be planned in advance and a lack of this time during the holidays, has led to a little frustration.

debspoons via freedigitalphotos.net

debspoons via freedigitalphotos.net

Imagine my thrill yesterday then, when I discovered a seriously cool way to make time work for me. And kick frustration to the kerb in the process.

Consider if you will, the scene in my house late yesterday afternoon. Eldest child is ensconced upstairs along with the cat who is too scared to spend any time downstairs when youngest child is around. Husband is pottering around and I am watching my umpteenth hour of the Mii channel on the Wii (click here if you really want to see what it’s all about) whilst listening to aforementioned youngest, whingeing as only he can. It was obvious that the Mii channel for all of its charms was no longer working, thus, the only other option, was to take youngest for a drive.

Now, I don’t actually mind taking him for a drive but on a day when frustration was high, I was feeling a little fed up. Nevertheless, we got in the car and started on our way having no fixed plan in place. I drove aimlessly for a while before deciding to go along one of my favourite local roads. By some meteorological miracle the sun came out just as we began our journey and I gratefully breathed in the cleansing air and sheer beauty of our country.

Local countryside along my favourite road

Local countryside along my favourite road

As we passed a well frequented beauty spot I decided on impulse to pull in and snap a couple of photos. I figured I could use them in blog posts, articles, or anything really. Snaps taken I drove on and as I did so, I felt my frustration begin to melt away. The photographs became a pattern. Each time we passed something beautiful or of note, I stopped and snapped a quick image. When we hit the main routes a while later and the photo opportunities receded, I took pause and allowed my newly cleansed mind to wander. Just wander. It went to some truly strange places.

Same road - more beauty.

Same road – more beauty.

After about half an hour of wandering my head was bursting and so I called hubby back home, asking him to note down some random words. If he was perturbed when I told him to write down melatonin, local photographs, yoga and journey not wasted, he didn’t mention it. The longer I drove, the more these ideas took shape and by the time I got home I had some really solid material for both blog posts, articles and my latest writing course assignment.

nattavut via freedigitalphotos.net

nattavut via freedigitalphotos.net

Today, whilst ironing (and watching the Mii channel), I allowed the very same thing to happen. I let my mind roam wherever it wanted to go. As it wandered of its own free will an idea formed which I am certain will solve my temporary assignment block. I didn’t strain to find it, it just popped right on in – and this time I had my dictaphone to hand.

The net result from these two experiences is that I believe I have finally learned to embrace every moment and manipulate it to make it work for me. To prevent the feelings of frustration and under achievement and to make what I can from the available time that I have.

And all of this feels a hell of a lot better than throwing negative emotions at life.

What about you? Can you relate to this?

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Have you ever…?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, about something that really spooks you? Then they try their best to reassure you, only somehow, they make it worse?

Well, this has kind of been my story over the last couple of weekends.

Troy Faulder via freedigitalphotos.net

Troy Faulder via freedigitalphotos.net

I have a fascination with Australia. It could be the accent (yep), it could be the idea of bronzed, blonde, blue eyed, surfer dudes (yep), but it could also be the vastness of the country. It still amazes me, and this is the same to a certain extent with the USA, how you have to get on a plane to get from one side of the country to the other. It is possible to drive from one end of the UK to the other, in less than twelve hours!

My dream is to visit Australia. There are dozens of reasons for this (and if I happen to bump into aforementioned surfer dude, then so be it…) but primarily I want to see it for myself. I want to experience the warmth; the summer and the winter being the opposite way around. I want to have a ‘barbie’ on the beach and I want to know what the ‘real bush’ looks like. I want to see kangaroos and koalas out in the wild and I want to hear possums on the roof at night.

Michelle Meiklejohn via freedigitalphotos.net

Michelle Meiklejohn via freedigitalphotos.net

Over the last couple of weekends, I have been fortunate enough to meet with some of my husband’s family who have emigrated to the land of Oz. An Uncle and cousin nearly thirty years ago, and another cousin around two years ago. I decided that having experts on hand would be an ideal opportunity to find out everything that there was to know about Oz – which included spiders and snakes…

We started at the tame end. Snakes. Evidently these can be found meandering along the roads in Oz and if you drive over them, they get cross (I can kind of see their point). Once cross, they will attach themselves to your car and if you are not quick enough to close your windows then bam… they are inside.

I am beginning to waiver here.

“But it’s fine,” says the Uncle, “I’ve only seen around three on the road in my thirty years…”

Hmm… still waivering.

Next we get onto spiders. These, it would seem, come in all shapes and sizes and will give you a nasty ‘nip’. I don’t like spiders. We don’t have any poisonous spiders in the UK and by Oz standards, ours are tiny, but I still run like a girl whenever I see them.

In Oz they can be sitting on your front door, the size of your hand. Or bigger. They require industrial strength spray to kill them (or mortally wound them) and then you have to dispose of them – and it would seem that the traditional UK method of sucking them up with a vacuum cleaner won’t cut it. Due to their size.

I am seriously wobbling now.

Apparently it is wise to check your shoes before you put them on, not to leave clothes on the floor and to give your bed a thorough going over before you get in at night.

Now I am really not happy. Surfer dude or not…

phil1950 via freedigitalphotos.net

phil1950 via freedigitalphotos.net

The cousins’ try to reassure me. “It’s okay, we don’t like spiders either, but we are coping. We just sweep the house with the spray every morning and it’s all good…”

Yeah. I am sure it is. But on the basis that our dream is to take a camper van around Oz and there are hundreds of spider sized nooks and crannies in one of those… I am seriously doubting if even the most blonde of hunky surfer dudes is going to get me on that plane…

Sigh…

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Why we love being British

imageBeing British, we have more than our fair share of stereotypes. Generally we are known for our love of queuing, the elegant art of afternoon tea and an insane need to constantly apologise. What I didn’t realise however, was that there was a list, a top 100 if you like, of things that tell us precisely what it means to be English (source: The definitive guide to being British, Daily Express, August 6th 2015).

Now, I could just recreate the list for you and let you peruse it yourself, however I am keen to build up my blog and my followers so I fear that posting a list of 100 things that make us quintessentially British, may not be the best way forwards. Instead, I thought I would highlight a couple of the items in this article that either made me smile, or surprised me. Maybe they’ll surprise you too – particularly as our desire to queue did not feature at all!

Via Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee @ freedigitalphotos.net

Via Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee @ freedigitalphotos.net

In at number 14 is the ‘Full English Breakfast’. If you have never tried one then you really have no idea what you are missing. Packed full of fats and calories it sounds like a heart attack on a plate but when you see it being served, steaming hot, piles of bacon, sausages, eggs, beans, fried bread, hash browns… you have a tendency to forget all about what it is doing to your insides. According to the aforementioned article, the Full English Breakfast is the ‘only unambiguously English contribution to international cuisine’.

One of my favourite things about being British, is the game of cricket and that features on the list at number 32. There is nothing quite like the sound of the ball hitting the willow of the bat as you sit in the sunshine watching a game of village cricket on the green. Interestingly, its origins date back to 1676 when a group of English sailors landed in Greece. Did I mention that we had just retained the Ashes? Apologies if there are any Australian’s reading this.

image

Ah… apologies. As Brits, we are pre-programmed to apologise and I was thrilled to see this one make the list. It’s there at number 3. Wow. That high? It would seem, as the Daily Express states, that it is ‘important for us not to be out-apologised’. So, if you are not British and you happen to accidentally bump into us, don’t be surprised if we are apologising long after you have forgotten about it.

Via Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Via Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Those of you who are still reading are no doubt dying to know what is at number 1.

No?

Ah well, I shall tell you anyway.

In at number 1 on the list compiled by the Daily Express is….Alfred the Great. Hmm…at least it wasn’t beer; that only scraped in at number 5.

via amazon.co.uk

via amazon.co.uk

What, you may ask, did Alfred the Great do to get to number 1? It would seem, that back in the 880’s, he was a King who successfully defended his Kingdom against the invasion of the Vikings and died as the dominant ruler of England. So not that great a feat then?

Interesting stuff. If you fancy finding out more then follow the link above for the full article.

I mentioned at the beginning about stereotypes – what things come to your mind when you think of us Brits?

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