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Anyone who has a heart



This morning was the last time that I will go swimming at our local pool. I didn’t realise it would be but, as I made my first return since the outdoor pool closed, circumstances revealed that it would be my final dip in the ‘public baths’ that have seen me through a couple of decades of kiddies swimming lessons and ‘clear my head out’ breast stroking  thoughts.

This morning, up to this point, there had been only one thing on my mind.

Blood swept lands and seas of red



The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread  

We were up before dawn, starting our pilgrimage to the Tower of London.  It wasn’t difficult though, I feel there is always an ethereal beauty about an early weekend morning in our capital city. 

Come Into my garden

St John's Wort, dripping in the Autumn sun

I’ve often wondered whether gardening is in my genes. 

I can remember an old black and white photograph that captured a long, narrow garden stuffed full and overflowing with perennials and annuals. In the foreground was my proud grandfather, who died three years before I was born. I never knew him but I stole his name to pass on to one of the giants. 

Leaves shout out their bawdy beauty

Even as a young child, the image made a strong impression on me. Despite the limitations of colour, I knew that it would have been a spectacular display.

Olives share a pot with a munching vine weevil

Later, as fashions and generations had altered, I watched my father propagating annuals, lifting dandelion clumps from the lawn (with a strange metal tool that looked like a lizard's tongue) and develop a long term relationship with rocks and alpines!
 
Despite its poisonous sap, the Euphorbia earns its place with its elegant fronds

The autumnal drop in temperature, shortening of daylight hours and curling of vegetation, always sets my inner stopwatch off as the winter closes in. There is much to be done still, in this drowsy garden.

The last of the sweet peas

as others have turned to seed

I love the fact that we have seasons in England; less so, the unpredictability. Just as we start snuggling into voluminous woollens, with steaming bowls of soup or stew, our plots need tucking in for the winter months ahead.

Bay leaves ...

... self seeded tomatoes

 and a cranky fig, introduce a mediterranean vibe

Newly purchased bulbs are hidden, for later appreciation, like squirreled away nuts (I always scrawl details of requirements in the midst of the bulb flowering season, on the calendar month of September). Dead foliage is cut back, while still-living plants are left alone for snoozing invertebrates and other diminutive beasts.

Baubles
 
Right now, the leaves continue to change into their autumnal coloured robes. If I’m lucky, I will smell the wafts of wood smoke from freshly lit fires and will be transported back to a childhood garden, in the suburban south east.

Berries

I‘ll admit to hating the dark mornings that result in me reluctantly peeling myself out of bed, despite having the luxury of a heated house. So too the dark evenings, journeying home from work and cooking an evening meal when it feels like bedtime, with the dark rain speckled windows being hidden by drawn curtains.
 
and horseradish loving snails

So, when I ventured into a rain sodden garden this morning, during a break in this October’s deluge, I was thrilled to record these photographs of autumnal garden delights. I hope you've enjoyed them too?


Does Anyone Have It All?



The catalyst for this post was a tweet that popped into my Twitter stream on Friday 12th September 2014, which linked to this brief article.

My first memory of Nicola Horlick was of the mad media frenzy that surrounded her in January 1997. To be honest, my initial reaction was one of embarrassment.

I was stunned that a woman, who had given the male dominated City of London a run for their money, would react in such an emotional manner. Having been unceremoniously (and probably unfairly) suspended from her role in altering the fortunes of a big swig investment management company, she did no less than get the next flight to the head office (in Frankfurt); with baying journalist hounds in her wake.

I remember reading that her husband had been ‘surprised’ by her reaction. 

Thinking that he had a point, it dawned on me (much to my horror) that, if I were her, I would probably have reacted in the same indignant manner.

Over the succeeding decades I admit that, on occasion, my mind has wandered back to this episode. Not least because of the ridiculous 'Superwoman' label that she was daubed with by the media masses.

I couldn’t believe their ignorance; Nicola was no superwoman. 

With the money she was earning, she would be hiring an entourage of help, far beyond any realms of possibility for the ordinary working (or stay at home) mum. I've since discovered that Nicola would agree with my thoughts.

Much more troubling, was the way that she was labelled as ‘having it all’.

Her daughter had leukaemia, how could anyone say that a mother whose daughter was dying had it all? 

However, I felt equally uncomfortable when Nicola divulged that she was having another baby, in the hope of saving her eldest child. 

I wonder if the inability to save caused a burden that proved difficult to live with. 

Not surprisingly, most of the scathing articles that have continued to be written about Nicola over the years, have been by men. Men, who could be described as having a whiff of the misogynist about themselves. 

The articles that I have read … and there are many, have enlightened me. As if holding a  matryoshka doll in my hands, I started unravelling her life since that miserable January day in 1997. 

In a strange way, my research has altered my view of concerned consideration to renewed admiration towards this other working Mum. 

As far as Nicola actually ‘having it all', I would suggest that life has certainly thrown it all at her, some examples of which are:

  • Her beautiful daughter lost her fight with cancer
  • She was pistol whipped during an aborted robbery
  • Divorce followed her husband's admission of adultery
  • The Telegraph ran details of her building nightmare (slow news day that day?)
  • Let alone a rollercoaster ride of a professional career

Reading all of these and more, I was left feeling a little dazed. Nicola seems to have rowed a far more turblent river than I have, over the same period of time.

I was glad to take some comfort that there may still be the possibility of a tale with a happy ending; one that involves her second husband Martin Baker.



Watching this video (a British version of TED talks) made me warm to Nicola further. The image that I have always held is the one at the top of this post. A latter day Virgin Queen, who happened to have a lot of children

My long held view has dissipated and, completing my metamorphosis, I don’t think I could close this post with anything better than something Nicola is reported to have said:  

Happiness isn't all about lots of money and a career; it's about fulfilment in your family.

... and in that sentence alone, I believe she does have it all.



thanks to Martin Baker for the perficpic

Simples? #YeahRight!







I knew that the first rule of blogging was to ensure I grabbed my domain name (or in my case, two, but that’s another story) and that’s what I did; long before I even pressed my first Returnto Work Mother publish button.

It took me over a year of frustration, having to remember the blogspot inclusion in my URL, before I cracked. Why, when I had the domain I wanted, could I not use it? Could I use it? I knew that my web based knowledge wasn't advanced - but neither was it basic.

Pantry Pandering

 
 
I was once asked, out of all the meals I'd cooked, which ones I enjoyed cooking most. Without thinking - I was probably cooking at the time - I answered 'Store Cupboard dishes'.
 
It was back in the days of pre-children, pre-ready, steady, cook and mid-hospitality career. My day job held the responsibility of feeding and watering 2.5k workers (let alone the additional functions and events), which would often leave me in a state of exhaustion that would only be topped by that provided by a future new-born baby!

Déjà View



Autumn's enveloping us; I've been noticing over the last couple of weeks.

The air is a little chillier, the days are getting shorter and the leaves are still clinging on for dear life, before they drop their jewel coloured corpses, to be kicked and scrunched by conker searching foragers.

My Annual Appraisal




Many people seem to view their Annual Appraisal as something to dread, maybe like a school report.  It’s my belief though, that done well (or properly), it’s an opportunity to stop and take time to appreciate the achievements, analyse and cultivate a plan (if not already done) to improve on any weaknesses and consider how to flourish and move forward and upwards.

Tech-nically Awkward

 
 
I left school at sixteen, having failed my Cookery GCSE-equivalent. I forgot the sausage meat on the scotch egg. It was either nerves, or I was introducing the suggestion of a bread crumbed hardboiled egg as a vegetarian option.

I've said it a hundred times now!

 
And there I was, on the journey home, planning my schedule for the afternoon ahead. I'm sure you're familiar with the scene - piles of sorted dirty holiday clothes - washing machine puffing away under the enforced wake-up call. Well, well, well, another case of plans going awry.

Like a pair of velvet lined Jimmy Choo Shoes


Last night I dreamt I went to Voewood again and when I awoke the transformation of dream to reality was confirmed. I had indeed returned to the butterfly house and the Festival held within its beautiful wings.

Holiday Apology

 
The best laid plans often go astray, even if you aren't a mouse or a man ... simply a return to work mother!

Selfish Mentality?

 
 
Selfish (adjective) concerned chiefly with one's own interests or pleasure actuated by or appealing to self-interest.
 
___________________________________________
 
 
On the weekend of 16/17th August 2014, I wonder how many of you watched a Robin Williams' film?

Dying for la mode

 
 
I'm sure there's quite a few of us whose idea of weekend fun involves some mooching, window shopping and, if the bank balance allows, a few purchases - ideally to be worn that evening - whilst sipping a glass of something fizzy, with a menu in hand ... for example. Ok, bit too much of a glimpse into my mind there?!

Sleep obsessed

 
 
 
Whether it's because there's been a new addition to the Kitkat clan or the fact that my own nocturnal timetable is completely opposed to the perfect figure of eight sleeping hours, I find myself considering 'am I the only person who's fixated on sleep'?

Howe the Miller Led the Way ...







I’ve been fortunate enough to return for dinner at Morston Hall. Although at the top end of the meal deal experience, pound for pound it was far better value than another Norfolk venue, the subject of the post that Trip Advisor refused to link to!

Biebervicious


 
A couple of years ago, I found myself in the position of easing into the big old social media pool. A new language, a new way of thinking, communicating and the image of a worldwide twitter trend for all things Bieber. That’ll be Justin Bieber of course - and his bielebers.

Save Our Children

 
 
 This is not a political post nor is it the usual Something for the Weekend post. 

What is Love?



It started with a question. Nothing of significance, he asked me where he could get a photograph taken. 

I wasn’t particularly impressed, in fact I was probably a bit taken aback by his self-assurance - on top of which, he had a very questionable sense of style.

Rewound



 I wasn’t very happy about last week’s blog, but then, I wasn’t very happy!

The previous weekend, my sisters and I had a hot and happy day, strolling and eating our way from Borough Market (arriving early, to squeeze in before the crowds) to Mayfair. Pausing in St James’s Park, after a sun soaked walk along the Southbank and Whitehall.

I always get lulled into this crazy assumption that, when the sun’s out in England, it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

It's a Blogging Cheek



Recently, I noticed a tweet on my Twitter stream that suggested "This discussion is the most insightful and thrilling one that I have ever read about"

Now, call me easily intrigued but I clicked the link, partly because I felt the brilliant use of 140 character enticement deserved further investigation. Plus, I’m easily intrigued.

Re-Re-Re-Rewind

This week I was going to fill you in on my planned weekend trip to London. Unfortunately, it looks like we're in for some very unpredicatable weather and, for that reason - I'm going to give you a hint at what we MAY be able to do, if it doesn't rain on our parade! 


Eye for Accuracy


Have you ever thought about whether you have an eye for accuracy? I have, quite often; I think it's part of the job description, when you write a blog.

Certainly, it's not without an 'Oh dear' or 'thank goodness' that I notice grammatical, spelling and layout faux-pas in some of the print that I read these days. I started to get so worried about my own eye for accuracy, that I booked myself on a grammar course (it was ok, but I think I wasn't the only one who didn't get the semi-colon explanation).

George Clooney got me thinking, (not in THAT way) when the Daily Mail ruffled his feathers recently with an inaccuracy about his mother in law.

Despite the fact that the Mail has often printed provocative inaccuracies about Mr Clooney, it takes the suggestion that his fiancée's mother was unhappy with her daughter's choice of future husband, for a whole can of worms to be opened.

 In the midst of the continuing cases of years of covered up accuracies, you may think he's taking the 'keeping Mother in Law happy', a bit too seriously.

Of course this case has a far more serious undercurrent to it; with the consideration of inflaming tensions around a suggestion of religious differences.

Unlike Vanessa Feltz, who spoke this week, at the request of the police, with complete accuracy regarding an historical interview she had conducted with Rolf Harris. It seems he had decided to conduct his own dirty performance, within eyeballing distance of his wife.

In case you are unaware, Vanessa was bombarded with a torrent of venomous mysogony from Twitter trolls who must think that they have the looks and attraction of a film star themselves.

Vanessa has handled herself in the educated and eloquent manner that I remember her for - hand tap to her.

On the matter of those narcissitic trolls - don't you just wish that there really was three Billy Goats Gruff to kick them off their Twitter handle bridge?

Failing that - where's George Clooney when you need him?!
 
 
with thanks to http://www.kylelambert.co.uk for the perficpic

To review, or not to review, that is the question

The only good thing!


LSH and I were able to snatch a few stolen days, stepping off the hamster wheel, embracing our inner adolescence and having time to do what we pleased, when we wanted.

Once upon a day, we decided to book lunch at a family run Georgian House and Restaurant that had been creating quite a buzz of publicity about itself. A well-known internet review site had a good few rave reviews, and the Ramsey trained, Royalty serving chef seemed keen to immerse himself in the community – receiving, it seemed, a welcome with open arms.

And that’s where the fairy tale ends. Our experience was awful.

We received an apathetic ‘welcome’ and soon realised we were alone in an empty dining room. The sound of the local radio station (presumably an attempt at atmosphere) coming from an old transistor, which had been ‘hidden’ next to our table. We had started to hear the sound of distant muzak-alarm bells.

The building is impressive – as is the garden - and I believe that local people with learning disabilities, help with its horticultural care. 

We tried to open the windows, on what was one of the hottest and most humid days of the year; we were told they didn’t open. We thought about eating outside, it wasn’t offered, but discovered the empty tables were smattered with the stuff of ‘a dove from above’.

The food was overpriced and underperformed. Excited by a salad - marketed as being picked from the garden – it arrived as a trilogy of limp leaves, cherry tomatoes and cucumber pieces. Undoubtedly stripped of their supermarket packaging and presented naked and undressed.

Am I sounding pompous? The thing is, my background means that I know that serving an undressed salad is as insulting as serving Moules Marinière in cream, with 2 parsley leaves and un-finely chopped squares of onion. No garlic, no white wine, no R in the month (indicating that the poor mussels were also out of season and presumably vac packed?).

The meal experience was so embarrassingly short of our expectations, we spent our homeward walk laughing and listing the failings. An attempt to distract our thoughts from our mistake in booking and the resulting overpriced bill.

We stopped when the number reached an embarrassing twenty, in much the same way that the Brazilian football team probably wished they could have halted a certain semi-final match, before the half hour mark.

So I return to my title – To review, or not to review? If I posted what I have written in this post on that well-known internet review site, it could cause a lot of lost revenue for this unnamed place. If I don’t, others may suffer; as we did.

So what do I do? I wonder whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the guilt of not naming the cause of our misfortune; or speak out about the slings and arrows of outrageous, overpriced failings and stop others from being caught in the cross fire.

What would you do?

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