Saturday, 29 April 2017
First up, I will not be apologising for the amount of baby animals in this post. You can thank me later and be jealous that I got to stroke them.
Last weekend, a couple of friends and I ventured to Baylham Rare Breeds Farm. Tucked a couple of minutes away from Needham Market, the farm is set in beautiful surrounding by a lake and watermill. After parking up, there's a short walk to the farm, but you are actively encouraged to play pooh sticks on the bridges on the way. As we were waiting for one of us to join us we started the visit with a cheese scone in the little cafe. Reasonable priced, huge and tasty this definitely started off the visit right. The selection of cakes also looked very tempting and were all handmade.
Then it was time to explore the fields and houses of the farm armed with our bags of food and instructions how to feed the animals. First up was the lambing shed. The lambs were so inquisitive and came over for a stroke.
Then we went out onto the fields where the older lambs, alpacas, pigs, cows and sheep were. Halfway round we found a hollow tree and as mentioned in Wonderful Wednesday climbed for the first time in ages! There was also a few swings and things for us to have a natter on.
Then lastly my absolute favourites! These piglets are only 2 weeks old and they were playing like puppies. I couldn't get any photos of them playing as they just moved too quickly. They were jumping around, over each other and onto their food tray. When we were in this building for the second time (they were too cute not to go back) their handler was there too and picked up one of the piglets for us to have a stroke.
After a rematch of pooh sticks on the walk back to the car (I won both rounds, not competitive at all) it was time to head home. It was such a lovely afternoon, but I'd say there's not enough to keep you entertained for a whole day.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
This week seems to have gone by in a flash of an eye, but when I look back I constantly surprise myself by how much I manage to pack into a week. Whether it be big, lovely days spent with friends and family or tiny moments that make my day, there's just so much to notice and be thankful for when you sit down and think about it.
I'm now back at university and am writing this in the library at 8am. Although it's different at university there's still lots of lovely things going on. Let's get started...
1. Early starts and bacon rolls. When I say early starts I mean dragging myself out of the house at 5am ready for a day at working at a children's farm fair. Whilst the early morning wasn't exactly joyous, the bacon roll and the excitement of the children more than made up for it.
2. Climbing trees. I haven't climbed a tree for years. It's one of those things that seem stuck in childhood. However, two of my friends and I were walking around a rare breeds farm at the weekend (more to follow, I can promise photos of baby animals) and saw the perfect tree. A hollow inside so big we could all fit inside and plenty of footholds. We spent a lovely few minutes giggling as we got stuck and helped each other to sit on the branches where we pondered life. Only one scratched ear, so not too bad on the injuries front either!
3. Becoming an All Star. If you haven't heard of All Stars cricket, either you have been living under a rock or have no interest in cricket for 5-8year old children. Either way I will be extolling the virtues. I did a course to run this programme last week and I can honestly say I think it's brilliant. The activities are fun and engaging and every participant gets a whole load of personalised kit too. For more information go to the All Stars website because they explain it so much better than me! I came away from the course inspired and had so much fun.
4. Running fast. I've been upping my training as the cricket season draws closer and this week I was so happy with myself. I came to realisation that I was running pretty darn quick. For someone that's always disliked running it came as a surprise but I was very happy.
5. Chinese food. Last dinner at home and it now seems to be a bit of a tradition to have a Chinese. My family always get a mix of dishes and share and always always go for seconds!
6. First clean sheets night back at uni. Coming back into my room I thanked past me who had folded freshly washed sheets on top of the bed ready to be put on the bed as soon as I got in. With comfy PJs, the window open just a little to let in the breeze and me tired from a long train journey, I slept so soundly!
7. This marriage proposal. Calm down everyone, it's not mine. It's just a lovely, lovely bit of news from the week that made me smile.
8. Early morning productivity. Getting up nice and early and getting back into a productive routine has been brilliant this week. I've been setting off for the library at 8 o-clock and squeezing a couple of hours of work in before my day starts. I'm pretty busy in the next few weeks with assignments and courses so I'm scheduling work in around what I already have on.
9. Light evenings. Ok, I probably talk about this one quite a lot, but last night at half past 8 there was still a glimmer of light in the sky. Yes half past 8! Another thing upping my motivation this week.
Wow! That turned into a massive list and every time the longer I st the more things I think of. Today I'm off for a 3 hour art session then to watch my first cricket game of the season. Can't wait! Hope you're having an equally amazing Wednesday and rest of your week. Please do share the moments that have made you smile using #wonderfulwednesday on twitter, comment below and definitely go and check out the other lovely Wonderful Wednesday-ers: Sally, Jo, Helen, Michelle, Sarah, Cat, Sam, El , Kerri, Mimmi, Martina , Peta, Kelly and Emma. Give me a shout if your name isn't on the list. The gang is evergrowing!
Monday, 24 April 2017
Every moment of the build up to swimming scared me.
From the first moment I chose the compulsory university swimming session the furthest time away I started panicking. Panicking because I had not entered a swimming pool for 10 years and had no clue if my limbs even knew what to do anymore. Not that they had been coordinated and fishlike even then. I worried that I would splash uncontrollably and ultimately sink. I would do this in front of my classmates and me a PE specialist. I worried what my body would look like in a swimming costume. The thought of anyone seeing my scars and being that exposed. So I just put it off.
But things far in the future have a habit of creeping up on me quickly. And now it’s only 2 weeks away. I didn’t own a swimming costume and my limbs had no more idea how to move in water than I did.
The first bridge to cross, and a scary one, was something to wear. Having not owned even a bikini for the beach in 10 years it scared me. It scared me that my body would be that on show. Shopping is always an ordeal and this promised to be worse. But I found something, shaved my legs and got in the car.
Which found me sitting in a swimming pool car park just before lunchtime on a Tuesday. Watching cars move in and out and having to call my friend. Just to calm me and encourage me. It found me at the reception desk bumbling over my words and the receptionist thinking I wanted to swim outdoors! Hoping I wouldn’t see anyone I know and immediately bumping into someone and having a polite conversation as I innerly squirmed.
Then I was in a very small changing room worrying that everyone in this pool would be amazing swimmers. I would be lapped and laughed at when I couldn’t even float. What if I panicked, embarrassed myself and had to be rescued by the lifeguards? I paused. Spent just a little too long organising my clothes. Willingly there to be more time before I had to get in the water. I fumbled with the lock on the locker. Wanting to rush it, but my hands not responding. The walk to the pool was the longest of my life even though the steps in were just by the door. You are exposed. I went in by myself and I felt that all eyes were on me, but honestly I doubt they were.
Once I got in the water I could look around. There were a few children taken swimming by grandparents happily bobbing about and playing with toys. A lane set out at the far side with nobody in it. I started and tried. Front crawl seemed like the place to start. With my head in the water my arms and legs seemed to know what to do. That was until I needed to breathe. The lifting of my head made me sink and I had to put my feel down. Breast stroke was next and equally as unsuccessful.
But then I remembered how as a child I had always preferred backstroke. I moved into the lane to prevent colliding with any children and began. I did my first length. And then realised I could do another. I didn’t need to stop to breathe or worry about my feet. I was conscious of my fingers propelling myself through the water. My feet hardly splashing but kicking much more strongly than I imagined. I had a rhythm. 3 kicks between each stroke. Counting carefully and breathing deeply I continued.
At one point a ten year old boy joined me in the lane. They had a quick front crawl and I was happy to let him go first and lap me. I could focus on me. As my body remembered how it was supposed to move it needed my attention. It was a conscious movement and left me little space to think of anything else. Few moments to worry of the enormity of what I was doing. I kept this up for 45 minutes. Much longer than I had imagined.
Before I knew it I was home, with the smell of chlorine still clinging and my hair dripping slightly. Clinging too was the sense of achievement. Of overcoming something that had held me with fear for so many years. The worry of incompetence mixed with fear of exposure had stopped me enjoying exercise for so long.
I tweeted and the response was phenomenal. I had tweets from people that shared this fear or those that had also overcome it. But what struck me the most were the cheerleaders. The people who I had never met, but were so proud and encouraging. So thank you, because that kept me on this river of emotional high for even longer.
Now I’m ready to tackle the university swimming session and I would encourage you to swim too. Or do that thing that you’ve been wanting to do, but fear has held you back. I have found that the trepidation before the things is so much worse than the moment you throw yourself in.
Guess what? #thisgirlcan
Friday, 21 April 2017
Right now there's great big splashes of yellow all over the countryside. They liven up the usual green and brown crops. The oilseed rape seems to me the sunniest of the fields. Right after the last hit of yellow from daffodils, primroses and celandine the fields come into their own. Despite Spring being a time of pastels, it is yellow that I really associate with the season.
Recently I've taken to picking up a book and finding a location to just read for an hour or so.
This weeks reading: Following On by Emma John (a memoir based on Emma's teenage obsession with the England Cricket team). A wonderfully, relatable book about how a fan follows a sports team and the foibles of cricket. She looks back and interviews players from the time, contrasting her youthful naive views with that of the players.
This week's location: Right next to this beautiful yellow field in beautiful sunshine.
This week's outfit: The comfiest tshirt under my dungarees just rolled up at the cuff for springtime sunshine.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Welcome to another of my wonderful Wednesday witterings. This week you find me relaxed. Chilled as my Grandma puts it. She really does think she's down with the kids! As I'm still at home, I have spent most of my time just pottering. Doing bits and pieces here and there. Spending time with lovely people and generally just appreciating how magnificent this place I call home is. Whether it's my lovely family and friends, the gorgeous scenery (which I fear I took for granted for years) or the spaniel one, it's been lovely in a slow way.
1. Norwich. This is another place I took for granted when I lived here. Take my day there on Thursday. t comprised of cheese scones the size of my head from an independent cafe, watching the amazing Kinks musical, Sunny Afternoon and then happening upon an LGBT protest. Not to mention the hour spent happily in the new library surround by calm and lots of books!
2. Just the best frites. Another day, another catch up meal. It seems to be the talk of these holidays. This time the most amazing frites (cos I'm so down with the french lingo) were coupled with chats about religion and love and loss and belonging. I'm astounded by the intellect of my closest friends and how important our deep chats are.
3. Blossom. The tree that sits halfway down my garden has just exploded this week. The cherry blossom was threatening it all of last week and today it sits in the sunshine a complete riot of pink, the tree bursting with blooms.
4. Just a little thank you. Just a small boy after his first cricket session ever rushing over to me to thank me, with the biggest smile on his face. Closely followed my his mum who thanked me for even letting him join and taking the time to help him. Those are the first steps on his journey and it's why I coach.
5. Training for myself. This week I have been spending time working on myself. An hour bowling on my own on a completely deserted field (until 3 teenage boys turned up and were complete idiots, but less said about the better). An hour spent improving myself for me.
6. Talented others. My friend is a pretty marvellous musician and spending Easter Sunday evening in a country pub with a cider and her acoustic/ folky tunes was lovely. She played a real mix of songs from 80s classics all the way to Taylor Swift all adapted in her style. But it was her rendition of Songbird that got me. A beautiful song, played to perfection. I wanted to weep, but you know packed pub and all...
7. Sunset walks. Rounding off a lovely bank holiday weekend with walking Ben with my brother. We went just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. I go on about sunsets a lot, but they really do bring me joy. I never get tired of how they change and are unique. Plus spending precious moments with my brother is special too.
And there we have it for another week. By the time I write next week's post I will be back in Plymouth and am highly likely to be a lot more busy, but for now I will spend the last few days here taking it easy. For more head over to the rest of the gang: Sally, Jo, Helen, Michelle, Sarah, Cat, Sam, El , Kerri, Mimmi, Martina , Peta, Kelly and Emma. Let me know if you are also #wonderfulwednesday - ing and I'll add you to my list. Let me know what has made your week a little bit special by commenting or getting involved on twitter. We're such a friendly bunch, promise!
Friday, 14 April 2017
I remember the first wicket I ever got in a boys match. The team were short, so incredibly short that both my brother and I had been called in. My brother 3 years younger than the others and me a girl. The first time a girl had ever played in the boys teams for my club. But this game could help decide the league standings and the manager wasn't going to concede for no reason.
Lingo, our manager, who I never saw out of his shorts and flip flops even in the cold evenings of junior cricket, was young. Must have been younger than I am now. But he had faith in this muddle of youngsters that we called our team. He got us on his side with a wide grin, banter and a kick about before our cricket match instead of the normal warm up.
I had been training with these boys for a few months. The club had decided that to extend the girls we would be in the nets with the boys. There was no question of whether we should be welcomed there. The boys saw as other players, but this was not true of our opposition. That evening as we arrived at our home ground the opposition were less than impressed that they would be facing a girl. In fact their chests puffed as if they knew they already had the game in the bag.
It wasn't until late into the game that I was called on to bowl. Just when the game was getting tight. When the match could have swung either way and either side could sense victory. The pressure was on. As I stood at the end of my mark I felt everyone watching me. That's the funny thing about cricket, the individual performance within a team game. The limelight being on you even though you stand on the pitch with 10 teammates.
The moment of watching myself bowl it etched in my brain even now. I can remember the batter standing ready and the long, deep breath I took before I ran in. The keeper and first slip clapping their hands together in encouragement then settling themselves into position. The ball looping through the air and the twitch of movement as the batsman made his decisions just the split second too early. Bat curved upwards and away from his body so the ball jumped into the air. The dive forwards the fielder made to clasp his hands under the ball just before it hit the ground. As he rolled to protect the precious ball from spilling I had realisation of what had happened. I had the scoring batsman out. I had the opposition out and I had won the match for my team.
Then with the elation that hit so did my teammates. Boys who I only vaguely knew. Had met only a few times in my life came running towards me with grins gripping their faces. The rain of high fives and hugs came quickly. Players running from all parts of the field to converge here. To share the celebrations between me and the catcher. And in that moment I was accepted. I became part of the team. I had proved that I could do it.
These boys became my teammates for the next 4 years and beyond. I trained with them and played games every week. I could recognise each one by the way they stood from the other side of the field such was our closeness. I grew up with them, they became my other brothers.
But then life happens. People drop out of cricket for all sorts of reasons. School work too much, real work takes priority and some lose the love for the game. I left the club for another and now I hardly speak to my former teammates. But I have a bank of wonderful memories both on and off the pitch that all started from this moment and this wicket.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Well aren't we the luckiest of duckies with the weather we are having right now? I have spent most of this week basking in the sunshine and appreciating days when I don't have to take a jacket with me. This week has been a busy one of making the most of being home. It's lovely to see so many of my gorgeous friends and family. We've packed lots in, but it's also lovely to not be on a time schedule. I'm really in the holiday vibe of relaxation. Therefore this is a bumper massive list of happy things. Some big and some tiny moments that make me happy.
1. All of the food. Oh my goodness I have had the most delicious food since being back. It seems that all social occasions involve food. I've been for some yummy meals and cake dates. Think pulled pork burgers, baked camembert, chocolate calzone and too many cakes to name.
2. The best company. This links to the above point. This week has been all about catching up with friends and family. To spend hours catching up on life. To laughing out loud over the silliest things. To reminiscing with my oldest friends. To talk over life plans and getting excited.
3. Sunshine. Long afternoons have been spent out in the sunshine this week. Whether I have been studying, chatting or playing with Ben being out in the sunshine makes me happy. My freckles are exploding and it really lifts my mood. Also it means you can sneak in cheeky beach trips!
4. Reading. I was given a late birthday present this week of The Art of Being Normal. It's been so long since I have sat down and read a book cover to cover. This was a book that I could not put down. I had tears in my eyes as I read parts of it. It's an amazing book that will make you stay up until 2am to finish it if you're not careful. Also quick shout out to libraries for being amazing places filled with stories and welcoming and free.
5. Ben. Is the cutest spaniel ever. Sorry Michelle, but I'm biased. I've been soaking up all the time I can with him recently because I miss him so much at university. He's wants attention all the time and is prepared to give so much love. Even if that does mean him sitting on you when you're reading in the garden.
6. Accomplishment. This weekend was one of DIY. My brother's new house needs a bit of work and so it was all hands on deck this weekend. My dad drummed practical skills into me at a very early age (I wasn't allowed to drive until I could change my tyre)! So now I'm very happy to get involved and use my skills. By Sunday lunchtime I had hung 2 doors and stacked 3 trailer loads of firewood and was feeling accomplished. Even better was the gentle family banter going on all day and watching my dad fall off a treadmill.
7. Piglets. Back in January my best friend had piglets. Even though they are bigger now they are still so cute and I had my first visit to them. They all have their own little personalities and when I fed them they all reacted differently.
8. Rolled up jeans. I am of course the height of fashion and by that I mean I wear exactly what feels comfortable for the weather and what I'm doing. This week has been all about rolled up jeans when it's not quite warm enough for a pair of shorts. I love my shorts but rolling up my jeans just that little bit feels like a good halfway house now that Spring has sprung. It does however mean that my Grandma keeps asking me if I have grown and need new jeans!
So that's my little list of happy this week. For more head over to the rest of the gang: Sally, Jo, Helen, Michelle, Sarah, Cat, Sam, El , Kerri, Mimmi, Martina , Peta, Kelly and Emma. Let me know if you are also #wonderfulwednesday - ing and I'll add you to my list. Let me know what has made your week a little bit special.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Quarter to 8 on a Sunday evening found me pulling on my Dad's oldest, most comfy jumper over my dress and sticking my wellies on ready to chase the sunset. A peak out of my window as I was working showed me the colours of the sky changing and I just knew I needed to be outside. Down the drive and along the road armed with my camera. As I nearer the footpath that opens out into the biggest of skies, the view unhampered by buildings or trees, I broke into a jog. Keen not to miss anymore of the sky's performance.
The sky was painted in pinks and blues. The clouds rushing like brushstrokes across the sky. And I simply stood. I watched the clouds change and the dark sky behind me gradually sweep forwards. There was nobody in sight and the gentle wind billowed at my skirt. The only sounds the tweetings of the birds as they went to bed.
The stillness is important to me. I have written so many times on this blog about taking time to be quiet and still in nature. It calms me and makes me feel peaceful. My mind is calm too. My thoughts still as I concentrate on the small changes around me. Much has been written about mindfulness and I'm not sure I fully understand the concept, but this is what it is to me. Being still, watching nature and using all your senses. Being aware of the small changes around you and in this I feel calm.
This is so important to me and I must remember to make moments like these a regular part of my days.
Friday, 7 April 2017
This is a poem written in response to a moment. A moment and a person that I saw on the tube. Every person has a story to tell and I am hoping to capture these moments in a new series of creative writing.
She held the paper clenched in her hand.
Paper folded neatly into squares
which she had unfolded and folded so many times
edges feathered and frayed.
As the newspaper opens again
I saw the face of a man widen
The article based solely on him
an obituary or maybe a profile.
But why the fascination with this mystery man?
emblazoned across the newsprint and her heart
as she tucked the square inside her jacket pocket
Checking it was safe and patting twice.
Could this man be someone she longs for?
A former lover or a long lost family member
Or someone she despises?
Someone she is looking for.
She smooths the photo over again and reads
looking for clues in the writing
and as her tube stop arrives she safely stows
ready to find the meaning from the words.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
I'm currently tucked up in my own bed at home. This week has me absolutely exhausted. With travelling on Friday night and a full schedule of coaching ever since, I've been tucked up in bed early ever since. I've even found myself dosing in front of the TV. I'm looking forward to a couple of lie ins to get me back in routine. However the week has been brilliant and when my best friend asked 'Are you happy?' I answered with a resounding yes. So on with the things that have been making me happy...
1. Chocolate orange brownie. Every month there's a market at university. The street food always smells so good, but I find myself gravitating to the brownie stand. Thick, gooey slabs of brownie in every flavour you can imagine. My difficult decision was a classic chocolate orange and it was a perfect pick me up for a long afternoon of lectures.
2. Going home. I love university so much, but it makes me appreciate home and my family so much too.
3. Smiling players. The moment the massive beam comes on a player's face because they have achieved something they never thought possible is the reason I coach. This week I have been lucky enough to work with a huge range of players: from the 7 year old who absolutely smashed the ball to the 13 year old county player who nailed a new technical aspect and the lady who was a complete beginner who bowled someone out. All are equally as special and have a huge part of my heart.
4. Late Birthday cake. My Grandma came round yesterday with a large tin of chocolate cake that she'd decorated with chocolate sprinkles. Every year she has always made me a birthday cake, so it was lovely of her to keep up that tradition even when I'm not at home.
5. House tours. My brother showed me round his new house and I can't wait until he's decorated it all. It's a little rough around the edges right now, but the space is so nice and it has so many lovely features - think wooden beams and original doors. He's so excited which makes it even lovelier.
6. Sunny afternoons. Just spent sat in the garden chatting with my mum. Mum's still quite weak so spending a lot of time sitting. But being outside in the sunshine was a lovely way to while away the hours. We spotted all the birds flitting around the garden and tried to persuade our silly spaniel not to tear up his bedding.
7. Warm Showers. The restorative type after doing exercise. When you can already feel the aches coming and the warm water washes them away. Where you turn the shower up real warm because it loosens all your muscles and you come out feeling so relaxed and sleepy.
8. Yellow fields. The oil seed rape is just starting to bloom in fields all around and it's creating swathes of yellow across the countryside. Although many rue it as it aggravates hay fever, I love the vibrant colour and how it breaks up the brown and green of the fields. It's another sign of the spring coming for me and I didn't realise how unique it is to my area at home.
9. Sweet Potatoes. I've had some absolutely stonking sweet potato dishes this week. In an attempt to use up every item of fresh produce I had in the cupboard before returning home I made a huge batch of cheesy jackets with sweet potatoes. I baked the potatoes then scooped out the middles and mixed in cheese, caramelised onion and veg and grilled with even more cheese. Then just yesterday my mum made some amazing roast sweet potatoes - perfect accompaniment to roast chicken!
So that's another week of happiness. For more listings of joy head on over to: Sally, Jo, Helen, Michelle, Sarah, Cat, Sam, El , Kerri, Mimmi, Martina , Peta, Kelly and our lovely newest addition Emma. Do let me know if I've missed you off and share what's been making your week special.