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It’s beginning to look a lot like …..



So here we are, on the cusp of a weekend and the edge of the month of December. That can mean only one thing – the beginning of our own self- enforced period of TRADITION!

For as long as the little giants can remember, on the 1st December the Christmas decorations and sparkly lights ‘appeared’ magically when they arrived home from school or awoke from slumber. As parents, our own childhood traditions converged with the green shoots of new ones from our thoughts and wishes.

One of my traditions start on the 1st of December, when my pre-children copy of A Christmas Carol appears by my bedside. Every year for over two decades I’ve immersed myself in Dickens’ articulate description of a Victorian Christmas. His prose on greed and poverty, the bitter cold and health issues are so imbedded in my head that as soon as my eyes grasp "Marley was dead, to begin with." I am instantly transported back to that counting house near Cornhill. Yet how much of its substance resonates today?

Yesterday, as I walked out of Starbucks with my coffee to go, I saw a gentleman shaking out the pain and cold from his dirt stained, weary body. Having spent the night in a Waterstones’ doorway, I felt he may have needed my coffee more than me - and what’s a coffee compared to the millions that our population have donated to the recent Children in Need and Philippine cause?

Well, if you haven’t heard of it, this weekend can I introduce you to the Suspended Coffee. What a great idea, don’t you think?

And there you have it, as well as a visit to one of the many Christmas Markets popping up all over the country, I believe I have the start of another new tradition. And one that I can quite literally pass on to others. Have you tried it already?

***

I have other exciting times this weekend. My Blog is going to be bejazzled into a new identity. This will mean that for some of the weekend, it will be under construction. Also, my To Start the Week Blog will be delayed until Monday evening - when it will be 'Ladies and Gentleman, I give to you ...'

See you then!





Bullying, a Newsworthy Issue





I don’t expect there are many of us who have not been bullied at some point in our life, perhaps are even being bullied now?

In my previous To Start the Week Blog, I spoke of the power of Social Media and certainly this and the ability to search for whatever you want on the web, is probably causing a good few parents some sleepless nights of worry, following recent cases of cyber bullying. Additionally, as I write this post, the shocking news of a 30 year case of bullying is breaking news.

I introduced you to ‘the inspirational’ Seth Godin, a writer, speaker and agent of change in my Less SoMe Worries, more Blogs and Action post. I ‘met’ him on my Twitter account. Actually, I waved at him across a very crowded virtual room and he’s been far too popular to wave back yet. He regularly emails me though, which is nice, especially as he has the knack of dropping into my inbox with just the right amount of inspiration, 90% of the time.

So, I was surprised that two emails on the same subject, Workplace Bullying appeared within two days of each other. Why the recurring theme? Seth, are you having a hard time?

Reading his posts reminded me of a former colleague who was reduced to a sobbing wreck, every working day, because of the severity of how she was bullied. She’s fine now; moved on, recovered her self- confidence and had herself a baby. I know she's not forgotten though.

Seth’s Bullying is Theft post summed up exactly what happened. Here is an extract:

"The bully frightens away some of your best employees, because they can most easily find another place to work. He also silences the eager and the earnest, the people with great ideas who are now too intimidated to bother sharing them. His behavior has robbed your organization of the insight that could open so many doors in the future."

These posts led me to wonder how many stories and victims of workplace bullying there must be out there and whether any of you would be willing to share your tales of misery and, hopefully, survival and inspiration with me?

Like the consideration of what the next topic of Seth’s blog will be, I will have to wait and see!




With thanks to bullyingabout.com for the perfickpic

Be-jewelled and Be-lovelied

Last weekend Philip Treacy and Vogue led me to a secret horde of buried treasure – right in the middle of the City of London.





I was having one of my Grown up days and had aimed to discover Borough Market (and see how it compared to the Treacle Market). However, I had seen the Elizabeth Fremantle article in the October 2013 edition of Vogue (and a Blog post from Sasha Wilkins, featuring some cheeky little Philip Treacy hats) and I thought around my geographical head and realised that I could combine a visit to the Lost Jewels Exhibition at the Museum of London.

Of course we started off with a Coffee in the Sackler Hall Café. This is at the bottom of the building and was a lot more genteel affair than the tiny entrance hall café, which is the coffee serving equivalent of a trawl net.




Light and spacious with helpful, pleasant staff and delicious trays of a wondrous variety of cakes – this proved too tempting!
On to deposit coats, bags and cameras (in lockers that require a non-returnable pound) and it was past the Gurka Security Guard (I feel I have to nod to Joanna Lumley there) and lovely Museum lady, into the vault holding the exhibition.


Honestly, it’s well worth a visit but don’t think sparkly - think exquisite. As one fellow visitor exclaimed ‘What did working on this intricacy do to their eyes!’ The montage above cannot do justice. There were too many items of Tudor lust to mention, these BBC photographs showcase some of them beautifully.

There was a lot more information and knowledge to be gleaned than I anticipated; I would much prefer a guided tour . As with the Pompeii exhibition, the light was subtle and it becomes a bit of an art to dodge your shadow as you read the information cards below you.

Read more in this online Vogue article, where I sourced the Museum of London photo montage. And while you’re there, do make use of your time by walking around the whole Museum (it is very manageable) to discover London from its source to the Olympics, Royal Birth and beyond. I was very impressed by the exhibition that was clearly aimed at teenagers.

With thanks to the Museum of London and Vogue for the photo montage of the jewels







A hard day at the lending library





Friday nights were swimming, junk food and library nights. My weekend started there …

In the week of my usual cut and fluff I see that a voucher site survey has concluded that we keep our hairdressers longer than our husbands (hurrumph! Could the same not be said about barbers and husbands?)

That questionable offering aside, I settled down into my long-term hairdresser’s padded chair of pampering, smoothed and opened the cover of my favourite design mag and devoured the Editor’s December Letter – whilst sipping my hot chocolate and tearing off pieces of almond croissant. Oh Yeah, I do it in style girlfriend!

Michelle Ogundehin has introduced me to some interesting discoveries (more of another time) but a letter she wrote, titled Borrowing Culture reminded me of some very fond childhood memories, both for myself and with the little giants.

The article was about, brace yourself – LIBRARIES! Albeit starting with la crème de la crème, Birmingham and its wrapped present architecture – then moving on to Brighton which seems to have more going on than a Fat Boy Slim download (what the **** is baby boogie doing in a library?!)

My local library isn’t the business model of either of these two literary Burberry equivalents, but at one time it was my regular Friday date night. Exhausted from the single-mother-style of childcare week, I moth flew to the light of its motherly cocoon. With the little giants aiming straight for the return desk and then to choose a visual feast (‘new books first, new books first!’), I could flick through a magazine (I’d never normally read) and contemplate the glass of red that waited patiently underneath its corked hat.

That was the way we were and back in the present, I smiled.

Michelle wrote sense. Why is it that these public service providers are being allowed to disintegrate into extinction? Why are the principles of commercial enterprise not being used for their non-commercial benefit?

I don’t think this is progress; it’s a lack of it! From what I see there’s no innovation, energy or motivation to encourage people to support my local library. No essential Wi-Fi to encourage people in. No use of social media to get out into the community and tell them what’s happening within the four walls. Is it so wall to wall busy that library staff can't sign a Social Media Policy and start socialising and assisting their job security? To be honest, in my local, things haven’t moved forward since those rainy, dark Friday night memories. Apart from the staff – who seem to have been unceremoniously dumped and replaced with some who aren’t the most diplomatic with their welcome greeting of ‘you’ve got a fine’ (LSH not me!).

Yes, I don’t support the local like I used to, but neither do the pensioners who were 9 am regulars on the 3 mornings that are no more. Or those who no longer have a need to book an hour slot at the PC. Nor those who know nothing of memories created, finger poised over smart phone, listening to a librarian read their little terrors a story they remember from their childhood.

So, Michelle, my response to you is, I believe the dwindling numbers of libraries is because they lack the energy and vision of your publication, or the ability to provide for the needs and requirements of their customer, like my hairdresser does.
If they did, then it is certain that the survey results would be unquestionable: Loyalty to local libraries last longer than marriages. Tick.

This post is dedicated to Sue, the librarian whose patience helped the little giants complete their Summer Reading Challenges.






A sticky suggestion for your Christmas shopping

Hey!  So what were you expecting from this post? A Chocolate Bogof from the local branch of a chain store?

No way!! Today I take you North and to one of the Ten Best Farmers’ Markets in England. Let me introduce you to … the Treacle Market.





The first time I went to this market was a year ago. It was a wet bedraggled end of the day affair. LSH was ‘resting his eyes’ and I wanted to breathe the air of the silky industrial town that has a hold on my affection. Lying in the shadow of the Peak District, Macclesfield is the original home of the Hovis loaf. But before the chords of the New World Symphony start playing in your head (for those of us South of the Watford Gap) don’t just think quaint cobbled streets (although they are here and it does feel like you will ‘walk to the top of the world’) – think quality AND northern friendliness.

Then you will have hit the nail on the head.

This time I hauled LSH up the hill to the epicentre and then I gasped. This market had developed into serious business, no wonder it has won awards and accolades. To start, of course, was a choice of coffee stalls and then it was a whisk around, taking photo’s to show you, buying a birthday present for my sis,





spice rubs, Morecombe bay prawns, pies, oatcakes (delish btw), pasta sauces and then I realised we had only scratched the surface and we had to get to my much loved in-laws, for one of their gorgeous English breakfasts. A well worthwhile reason for estrangement – but I will have to return. No doubt about that!





In case you haven’t followed the links, the Market is on two more times before Christmas, next Sunday, the 24th November and Sunday the 22nd December.





Its usual delicious slot is the last Sunday of every month. If you do go, let me know what you like best and what fantastically inspirational Christmas presents you bought!


 


thanx to carltonreid for the perficvid




Monday 22nd July 2013






Using Social Media energises me but its powerful, unyielding and surging nature can both horrify and alarm me too.

Whether you are a Bajan pop goddess or a 16 year old Youth Commissioner in waiting, it can make and destroy reputations in its path. Is it the Minotaur of the internet world?

Likewise many businesses – from titchy to blue chip, either shudder with ignorance or try valiantly to break in this metaphorical stallion. For me, one of the most visual examples of its strength and one I'm sure many of us would have been part of, happened on the 22nd July 2013.

On the hottest day of the year, a Prince and future King was born. The world was in a frenzy, vying to be the first to take a picture, learn the gender or a name. First, first, first was de rigour (nod to London Fashion Week there).

But what of social media - this medium that aspires to be premier in viral-ity?

This time it had lost the swerve on the control button and journalists were forced to practice its backbone of re-hashing the same news repeatedly throughout the day. And when I say re-hashing, you can take it as both the slang and the symbolic tagging here.

But there remained we masses, trawling and waiting as eagerly for the news as for the deluge that cooled the temperature of the night ahead. Despite the same old news, we continued to connect. Until the previously insisted (the announcement will not be made online) method of proclamation was consigned to a vintage 19 minute time delay. Instead an email and a tweet prevailed over tradition.

And there lies the key. For social media to succeed you must give your audience something that interests and connects them. If you achieve that, they may keep with you on your journey and be listening out for what you could be saying next.

Still not convinced? Take a link to how ASOS is an example of a business that has benefited from this powerful medium (but for how long?). What ever your reason for reaching out, why not give it a try? You could be a world wide spider before you know it!





Today I will be pausing to respect and remember all those who have died in conflict.
This blog is dedicated to my father, who I will also be thinking about today. X

Warning – This Blogpost will be upsetting


I am not an activist but I abhor cruelty and injustice and this is what I am writing about in this week's Something for the Weekend Blog.

I need a coffee coffee, a coffee is what I need



I have known for quite some time, but feel I have to admit to my addiction, whether I visit London, Museums or Norfolk, my day will often be started up with a cappuccino.

It is my exhale to adulthood - but has become the symbol and pause for far more than the sum of it's equal parts.

When the second giant was born, we moved to a new area, left our friends, our pre-child location and ability to have access to an on-tap babysitting service. In addition, I gave up my career and became a Stay at Home Mother.

I was very lucky to be able to do that. I had been through the speed wheel of juggling childcare and paid employment but, as all those who have done, are doing and will make this move, caring for children full time, has its own challenges. Hence, when I was able to, I took action to become a Return to Work Mother.

Whether a Stay at Home or Return to Work Mother I think there is one thing that we can fail miserably at and that is taking time out for ourselves alone.

This is the reason why I took time out and took a photo of a single cup of coffee on a shiny table.

And whether you are taking a sip with the friends that you meet to catch up with, filling the time between the next pick up/drop off/daily task, having a grown up day away or just sitting and watching the world go by - the most important thing that we Mothers (or Dads) should do, and more often than not don't, is allow ourselves to take a little grown up time to ourselves.

So, whatever your Coffee (tea or hot chocolate) ... Enjoy! Because I certainly know that I have earned the opportunity to do just that, haven't you?

Hey, Hey!!









An Autumn Weekend in Norfolk

In my How was it for you? Blog, I spoke about my long car journeys to Norfolk. Well just as the weather became changeable I snuck off to the coast to take in a bit of fresh air and fun (sorry, childhood memories of the Northern sort there!)





I was lucky to get the calm before the St Jude Storm and wanted to tell you about the British seaside that shouldn’t just be kept to the Summer.





De-camping in Cromer means that you get the traditional Victorian Seaside town that I love but with the addition of some local businesses that deliver my present day ‘essentials’.

It’s nice to have a first class beauty pamper, with a first class price tag. Followed by a cappuccino where the staff are friendly and the view is priceless.

At this time of year the beaches are expansively quiet and after my facial and coffee, we walk east to Overstrand. It’s so relaxing gazing at the sea and the birds and the changing nature of the beach and colours of autumnal vegetation on the cliffs behind.




On the top of the cliff there is a café that is open most of the year.



But normally we will stroll to the loosely termed centre and enjoy a glass of something fizzy and maybe some tapas or fresh fish, at the local hostelry. Then, if we're too chilled for the walk back – we’ll time it just right to get the bus.

Perfect! ;)




thanx to hawkmoon03111951 for the perficvid






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