Recently we went away on a retreat. We have been before and I love it. But it can be a bit of a shock to the system. It requires you to stop, suddenly. There are no distractions, nothing you have to do, nowhere else to be, no list of jobs that jostle for your attention, no mobile phone, no internet, no distractions, nothing………… how does that make you feel?

For some, reading that, it might sound lovely, whilst for others it may sound a challenge, maybe almost frightening. Just to be alone with your thoughts is a struggle for some. I know friends who turn the TV on as soon as they get home as otherwise they find it too quiet. Some people may have never spent time on their own, been in their house alone or even been in a room on their own. Aloneness and quiet may be alien and unwelcome. It seems that everywhere you go now there is music playing, whether it is the supermarket or out for a meal. Why can’t we just enjoy the silence, it seems almost as if we are not allowed to be quiet. Walking down the street you see people on mobile phones or with headphones listening to music, not really present in their circumstances

But even in the quiet of the retreat, it is never completely silent. I noticed the wind in the trees, birds singing, the hum of insects, the noise of farm machinery in the distance. It makes you aware of how much noise you make yourself and how you crave conversation. But it is possible to shut everything out and let the world turn without you, at least for a while. The couple who live there are lovely and so welcoming. I feel privileged that they allow us to share their space with them. They have a dog, a retired greyhound and even she is silent, never barking or making a fuss.

If the idea of sitting quietly for even a few minutes is new to you, why not try it. You might like it!


Handbags at dawn

Why are handbags such a gender specific thing? Why do women need to carry round all this stuff 24/7? Men only seem to need wallet and keys and put anything else in their partner’s bag anyway. When we went to a wedding once I had to take an extra large bag to carry my husband’s spare camera lenses, what’s that all about?

A quick inventory of my bag showed the following life essential items……money, comb, mirror, perfume, tissues, pills, snacks, gum, keys, sweets, pen and paper for those never ending lists I love to write.

Even on my wedding day I carried a small purple bag, specially made for the occasion. Inside was my front door key (why….?), a miniature bottle of brandy (for emergencies) and some chocolate (of course, what else would I need?)

A few years ago I had my bag stolen. I used to carry loads of stuff and I lost everything which took a good deal of sorting out. I stopped using a bag at all after that and only took some cash with me. But sure enough I upgraded to a bag again after a while, even if a scaled down version. So ladies, take a look in your bag, and if you can’t afford to lose it, leave it at home! This might also help with that nagging back problem, for goodness sake, how much does all that stuff weigh?



Living the dream


We were at Rutland water recently. As we walked along we noticed an ice cream van that we had not seen before. As we got closer we saw a little shed where a chap was serving tea and coffee. He had also set out some chairs so people could look at the view of Normanton church. We got chatting and he said he had set up on his own after working for 20 years as a manager in retail. He had felt it was a big risk but if he hadn’t left then he never would. Whereas previously he had been in charge of a store and a large number of staff, now he was selling ice creams in the sunshine whilst wearing shorts! I commented that he was ‘living the dream’ and he said that actually he was. How many of us can say that and what could we do today to make it happen?

The car

13598959_10154252695143187_401467401_nWhen I was growing up, my parents had the same car the whole time. A blue VW Beatle and I can still remember the number plate, an H reg. When I started work my boss was telling me that when the new number plates came out that August he was going to buy a new car. I asked him why and he said he got a new one every two or three years. This seemed amazing to me as I imagined everyone lived as we had, and that you kept your car until it wouldn’t go any more! But no, apparently people changed their cars frequently for no other reason than because they could. And why not?? He also told me that cars were money pits and that once you buy a car you would never have any money. This must have had a huge impact on me because on the strength of that one comment I have never bought a car to this day!