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As the year moves on, the time for me to step up and out on my dream of and goal to walk the Camino de Santiago (the Portuguese Coastal Route) is getting closer and closer, I’m reminded that no matter how old you are…….

In order to get more fit, I recently joined the #walk1000miles 2017 challenge. I’ve always loved walking and have done loads over the last year, but what I love about this challenge is that there are thousand of people around the world also walking and sharing their experiences and photos. Just brilliant.

What I loved about this quote, besides the image and the words, is that a few months ago I worked in Great Malvern where C.S. Lewis once spent some time, and where urban legend has it, he found inspiration for the lamps in The Witch and The Wardrobe after seeing the lamps there.

lamps in great malvern

lamps in Great Malvern; inspiration for C.S. Lewis

p.s. I had planned on walking the Camino last year, but money or lack thereof got in the way. This year then…..

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It’s normal at this time of the year to think about and consider what, if any, resolutions you may want to make. Hundreds of articles are written each year on the ‘how to’, ‘ the why’, ‘the when’ etc etc, only for many of them to fall by the wayside when real life takes over.

Personally I stopped making resolutions decades ago (urgh, that word ‘decades’ ages me LOL). I seldom kept to them. I am a procrastinator, something I’ve recently named and shamed, and my philosophy in life has always been ‘if it can be done tomorrow….’ And so my resolutions usually fell by the wayside. I’m also fairly lazy…especially if my resolution doesn’t match my values. Ergo…..the “I want to lose weight” resolution simply doesn’t work well if you love food! And chocolate. And cake. And ice-cream. And Vogels bread with latherings of butter and Robertson’s Lime jelly…….and so on and so on; you get my drift. So I’ve pretty much given up on making any resolutions that have anything to do with dieting – besides being unhealthy for my psyche, as soon as I decide to cut something out…I start to crave it.

So no, resolutions don’t work for me. Goals….hmmm, there are so many goals I would like to set and I went through a stage of trying to learn how to set goals but I find it incredibly difficult to make a goal only for my circumstances to change and the goal disappears (my personal development journey that didn’t work too well for me…) and so we get down to plans and intentions.

Plans I can do!! I love lists. I love spreadsheets. So plans I can do. I find it a thrill to make plans to do something. It’s like Dr John Demartini says “find someone’s highest values and they will be more likely to succeed”.

quote# “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.’’  Ralph Waldo Emerson – Poet and Essayist

So what are my plans and intentions for 2017?

  1. To walk more – dead easy…I love walking. I would walk for miles every day if I could.
  2. To travel more – I love travelling. The thrill of going somewhere new. Visiting a new place for me is like discovering a closed door….open the door and all manner of delights await.
  3. I intend to spend more quality time with my daughter. Again this is just so easy!! I will be moving to new accommodation at the end of January, so we will be able to plan to get together 🙂
  4. To start saving for my daughter’s 2018 June wedding – I intend to work a few extra days each month to achieve this.
  5. To visit at least 2 islands I haven’t been to yet.
  6. To visit at least 4 new cities in England – I can ask the agency to send me to different locations and while I’m there I can explore the area.
  7. To visit my brother and his family in Budapest.
  8. To improve my photographs and learn more about what makes a great photo. I love taking photos…in fact I take way too many, but I enjoy keeping a record of where I was when and photographing everything I see 😉
  9. To explore healthier options in the food line. While I was working at my last job I discovered the joy of experimenting with recipes. This however could lead to a bit of a challenge…..if there’s more than 3 ingredients…I get bored. hahaha. Also many of my clients prefer plain simple English cooking….
  10. To read more books. To that end I’ve listed a few books on my Amazon wish list that I plan to buy.
  11.  To reduce my debt. This is still a very sore point with me. Thanks to the personal development journey in 2007/2008, and the said guru’s advice on OPM I am still struggling to pay off my debt. But I’ve reduced it from £50k in 2008 to just over £15k in 2017. eish. 10 years on. Anyway that issue still irks me so best to leave it alone. Suffice to say, I am slowly getting there…paying the credit cards off while still having a life.
  12. And the biggie for me this year…..to walk the Camino de Santiago. I had planned to walk the Portuguese route last year in September, but the UK Customs & Excise taxes on my SA shipment put paid to that. New Year = New Intention!!
  13. To see more sunrises or sunsets…depending on where I am in the world. “The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpots
  14. To blog more often……hence this blog 😉
  15. To walk the Worcestershire Way.
  16. To book to watch the 2018 London fireworks….they are amazing.

    plans, goals, intentions and resolutions

    Happy New Year 2017 – London

Where and when to start? Needless to say the easiest plan to start with is the walking. It is my intention to walk the Camino this year. To do that I must at least have achieved a certain level of fitness to make the walk pleasant….I do not want blisters and sore feet!

So with that in mind, and despite it being a perfectly vile day; wet and cold and windy….typical New Year’s Day weather in the UK, I set off on the first of my intentions; to walk more.  Bundled up in my winter woollies and raincoat I set off along the coast and walked to just past Dumpton Gap and back – 1 hour; 5.1 kms; 7282 steps; yes!!!

goals, plans, intentions and resolutions

New Year’s Day – Camino practice walk

Happy New Year folks…..I’d love to hear what your Plans, Goals, Intentions and Resolutions might be….

 

 

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One of the benefits of my job as I’ve mentioned before is that I get to travel around the country…not just in England but Scotland and occasionally Wales too. Since 2007 I’ve travelled east, south, north and west of the UK. In that time I’ve pretty much been to nearly every county in England, a few in Scotland and over the border into Wales, then out again. In the years between 2002 and 2007 I mostly worked in London, and that of course has become my passion. However, it is brilliant to be able to travel to new places and see the country.

uk-mapA while ago I was working in East Sussex, not the first time in this county, but in a new town. I was chatting to my client, sharing travel stories (she’s also quite well travelled), and just for fun I had a look at the map of Britain and listed all the counties I had either worked in, or travelled to during the course of my job…..i.e. some clients enjoys driving so we get to travel far and wide. Needless to say I do the driving 😉

I have been to villages so small that they don’t even have a Post Office never mind a traffic light or stop street, where the evening traffic jam is sheep going home! I’ve worked in numerous towns, and quite a few cities…namely London of course…I always jump at the chance to work in London although I’m not sure why since my breaks are so short I seldom get time to do much exploring…but still it’s a constant thrill to me to wake up in the city that never sleeps. I’ve also visited a few counties in Scotland and Wales, but those in the capacity of a tourist, rather than for work. For the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to those I’ve been to for work….

So heading round the country, these are the counties I have worked in and travelled to; 27 so far:

ENGLAND

Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk, Essex

work and travel as a carer

and my favourite county of all Suffolk….amazing!!!

Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire

work and travel as a carer

Beautiful Cambridge and surrounding areas

Shropshire, Herefordshire,

work and travel as a carer herefordshire

quirky and fabulous Weobley

Gloucestershire, Wiltshire

work and travel as a carer

the views from St Briavels are hard to match

Somerset, Devon,

work and travel as a carer somerset

another of my favourite counties, Somerset is splendid

work and travel as a carer

one of my favourite counties – Devon is on the Jurrasic coast…

Warwickshire, Hampshire

work and travel as a carer

as with Kent, there are many farms in Hampshire as well as fabulous villages

Oxfordshire

work and travel as a carer

the bells ring out in Oxford….stunning city

Surrey

work and travel as a carer

pretty as a picture, and snow…

West Sussex

work and travel as a carer

West Sussex has a most amazing array of historical towns…and quite a few castles

East Sussex

work and travel as a carer

Stunning houses and pebble beaches

Kent

work and travel as a carer kent

the garden of England – Kent is mostly farmlands and fields

Greater London

work and travel as a carer

wonderful, wonderful London I’ve worked in so many areas, I’ve lost track..

Worcestershire – which is the latest and where I am now 🙂

work and travel as a carer

Worcestershire…..what a delightful surprise, and those hills

view of the Malvern Piory and countryside of Great Malvern, Worcestershire

view of the Malvern Piory and countryside of Great Malvern, Worcestershire

I’ve visited Cornwall, Dorset and Warwickshire whilst working, but not yet actually worked in those counties. I’ve travelled through (by train), but not actually stepped on the soil of 4 others: Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland…I will have to address that pretty soon!! I have however noticed that there are still quite a few counties to go, particularly in the Midlands…see you there 😉

SCOTLAND

Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty – I’ve worked in both these counties and truly Scotland is amazing.

One of the most advantageous aspects of this job of mine is that I go to places I would probably never have considered, simply because they’re not on the ‘Visit England’ tourist trail so to speak. However, these places invariably have a fascinating history and if you visit the one thing you will find in every hamlet, village, town or city…..the church, you will learn the oftentimes extraordinary history of the area…sometimes stretching back as far as pre-Norman times.  Reading the epitaphs and headstones, you gain a fascinating insight to the history of the area. I’ve even been into a church where there are marks on the entrance where knights of yore used to sharpen their swords!!! Mind-blowing.

My most amazing experience was in Midhurst. As town names go it’s fairly simple, but did you know they have a castle!!!

travel and work

Midhurst….one of my most delightful discoveries

caravan

I’m desperately keen to travel the width and breadth of the UK and initially I had planned on buying a campervan…those cute little symbols of the 60’s, but since I will be spending a lot of time travelling and living in the thing, I’d prefer something I can actually stand up in…so the search is on. It is now my goal to buy a motor-home within the next few years…by my 65th birthday in fact, & then travel the width, breadth, and length of this country…visiting outlying islands, historic cathedrals, ancient villages, quirky pubs and the furtherest points of the island; north, south, east & west.

Once I find what I am looking for, I shall be off. I plan to travel and work, work and travel. Mostly in the spring, summer and autumn months and in winter I shall head to Europe. What a plan!!!  Why not come along, travel with me and see all the wonderful things I shall see.

If you have any suggestions of quirky traditions or places you think I should add to my list, then please leave a comment and I’ll add them to my itinerary.

Have a fab day.

and talking of quirky, here is a blog you should definitely follow. The Quirky Traveller 

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So there’s a new kid on the block….pinterest!  I joined 5 days ago and already I am addicted! 🙂 What I love about it most of all is that unlike twitter or facebook where if you want to see a photo you have to follow a link…with pinterest when you log on all your ‘friends’ photos appear on the from page….a smorgasbord of exotic travel destinations, recipes, cute animals, funky interior design, fashions, yummy food dishes, flowers and much much more.  You can scroll through all these marvellous photographic exhibits and like or comment on a favourite or repin the photo to one of your own boards.  The variety of boards is amazing and the amount of creativity that abounds in the world of photography is amazing.  I am loving it…..not sure when I’ll get to blog again…but if you dont see me here….you can find me on pinterest 🙂 http://pinterest.com/3daysinlondon/

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I was knocked for a loop this morning when my daughter came through and read me the news that Whitney Houston has passed away.  The news was a real shocker and my reaction no less so! I started crying with no idea why.  I had loved much of her music and of course just loved the movie ‘The Bodyguard’…the ultimate romance.  I won’t say I was a fan as such, but I did feel very, very sad at the death of someone who was so talented, and at one stage appeared to have it all; talent, fame, money, travel and all the trappings, and yet it wasn’t enough.  Here is a really beautiful video, of the Dubai fountains synchronised to the words of :

I will always love you

I hope you enjoy the video, it’s really beautiful. Not too sure about the site…but the video is gorgeous.

Just after midday I took myself off into London for the afternoon to go walkabout, one of my passions and something I always find totally uplifting.  As I walked I mused at the fact that despite that I don’t have much money, very few possessions and with a mountain of debt to conquer, it is something as simple as walking about this beautiful city that has a richness that money can’t buy.  Is it really true then that money can’t buy happiness?

After a most wonderful afternoon, wandering here and there, up alleys twisting and winding, alongside the river, admiring and enjoying the sights, many familiar and well beloved….I arrived home to tea and rusks with my wonderful daughter.   Then I got onto facebook only to discover that one of my facebook friends with whom I had frequently exchanged comments or liked his posts was on the verge of suicide.

His post read: “I have fought so many battles in my life from a violent father, bullying at school and much more yet I have achieved so much. 3 special beautiful children and the best partner anyone could want. I am so so tired now though. I can’t fight any more, my mind and body are ill and worn out, my motivation gone. I am ready and it is time.
Thank you for all your love, it has been amazing. I will sleep peacefully and at rest now and start a new journey. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and family and devastated to be leaving mine.
Goodbye cruel world.”

The tragedy is that we all saw his earlier posts, the sad comments and unhappy picture posts and no-one realised just how much help he was needing. So many people said ‘I wish I’d known’ or ‘I wish I’d said something’.  But felt they couldn’t at the time.  How constrained we are by the conventions of society.  When your’e on social media you are meant to be ‘happy’ all the time, with thousands of ‘quotes’ or ‘inspirational’ posts or quotes filling the timeline.  Why are people unable to be normal?  Sad or unhappy posts are not always welcomed by those who read them.  I know…my daughter went through a very difficult time last year and came under fire from some people for her posts, not all mind as many were incredibly supportive.

The follow up to that post by his friends on facebook was fantastic and thankfully someone found him in time and he is now in hospital and being treated, his 3 special beautiful children at his bedside.  There is an advert currently being shown on TV that highlights mental illness and how awkward it is for people to know what to do or how to react.   I wonder how it must have been for Whitney Houston, a troubled, unhappy person who appeared to have it all.  I wonder at the outpouring of grief…I wonder that we left till after she died to say how much we loved her music, how much we cared. Would it have made a difference to her life?

Folks, if you know of someone who is going through a tough time right now, reach out to them, mental illness is not a shame and perhaps a kind word or gesture would make all the difference.  Smile at a stranger, don’t be afraid of looking foolish, or making a mistake….just reach out and even if you don’t know someone who is going through a tough time….reach out to those around you anyway.  Say how much you care and don’t leave it for the #RIP.

Below is what I saw today….

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and somehow the grey day was beautiful and quite apt for a sad day.

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Blimey! What a week it’s been.   As I write I am sitting at Sweetie Pies in Twickenham.

I only had one cupcake 🙂

Having just enjoyed a pot of tea and a yummy chocolate cupcake I thought I would kill time while waiting for CJ to finish work by writing my next blog.  As mentioned before I am staying at a friends flat while she is away in South Africa, which is great, except she has a flat-mate who is, if not from hell, then certainly close enough to!!! geez, it never ceases to amaze me that people feel they can be rude with no reason.  Ok, so it is her flat but seriously is that a reason to be so rude and speak to me like I crawled out the trash?  I have been hard-pressed to keep my mouth shut and not retaliate coz I know there is no point in that and achieves nothing. It would be no fun if I did retaliate and she decided to kick me out….so needs must and I keep my mouth shut.  I leave tomorrow anyhow so thankfully I won’t be seeing her again.  She also works during the day so peace reigns supreme till 7pm…at which stage I make myself scarce and head to the bedroom.

On the job front I have had some small measure of success and applied for a position that looks great and something I could really get my teeth into!  I submitted my CV yesterday and today they called me to come in for an interview asap! Hooray. I would love to get this job as it plays to all my strengths and involves a certain amount of Social Media expertise as well…. which is brilliant!  The salary is ok, and it will also mean that I have my weekends free to persue my own interests and then I can start planning my itineraries and start advertising them.  I do have to know my schedule and with the care work, it is just not possible to plan anything in advance coz I never know where I am gonna be.  Have to keep my time free and clear in case a job comes in.

On that front, I leave tomorrow for Kent.  I am quite excited about this job as the lady sounds really nice and of course there is the village to explore. 🙂  I have been doing some research and it seems that the area has some tenuous links to the Pilgrims Way and that is definitely worth exploring.  As well as which there are some woods nearby that definitely need to be explored.
I have been playing catchup on my twitter accounts and it’s really cool to be back online.  I’m not sure if I mentioned previously, but I joined a photography page on facebook and they have a different theme everday. This has been great fun and a real challenge to see if I can find a photo that matches the relevant theme.  This has also given me loads of ideas for future photos.  Through the page I have also discovered two websites where I can upload my photos for sale.  I am of course really not sure if they will be of the right quality, but hey, if you don’t try……you don’t succeed.

I have also registered on a really lovely site called ‘women like us’ that caters for women who want to get back into the work environment.  Not that I have been without work, but I really do want to get back into the office environment asap.

Okay, so just had a phone call…bad news on tomorrow’s job. The lady just called to say she has to cancel the job as she is not going home for a while.   Urgh!!!! this is exactly why I simply cannot do this anymore.  I have to get a settled job.  This is now very inconvenient and that means I dont get a salary for the next 10 days! They just have no idea.  Urgh, it also means that I don’t get to explore the village! 😦 ah well. I will have to go there with my campervan when I get the contract from the BBC to do a programme on the UK villages of the Domesday Book! 🙂 🙂 and that of course is a message to the universe that is taking it’s own sweet time on this.
Anyhow that is my stressed gripe out the way……moving on.

I guess now I can carry on with my internet stuff and also get to go and sort out my storage stuff in preparation for moving next week.  I dicovered that it’s way cheaper to store stuff out of London than in. No suprise really but I just never thought to check that out. Needs must hey!
We are still awaiting my niece’s arrival and I keep checking my brother’s profile to see if there is any announcement…but nothing so far. Eeee….can’t wait to meet the new baba.

While I was waiting for CJ to finish work I took a stroll down to the river…..whoa!!! high tide, and I mean HIGH tide. The river was way up the road and cars were again under water.  The folks on Eel Pie Island were waiting patiently for the water to receed so they could get off the bridge.  The swans were swimming along the promenade and the ducks took a stroll along the sidewalk through the water.   It looks so awesome.  I found out the other day that the river level rises up to 7 feet twice a day.  The Thames is of course a tidal river so this is a phenomenon that can be seen every day.  Some days it rises so high that motorists who have parked in the bays along the river front sometimes have their cars covered in water up to and over the chassis. Eeewww!!!

tides in....you can see the people on the bridge waiting to get off and the car on the right where the water is receeding

So after work my daughter took me for dinner at her favourite restaurant in Twickenham; Pincho. Love their food. We had aubergine bake, hallumi, houmous, pattas bravas. Hmmm. Yummy.  Then a brisk walk back to her place, and here I am. Still stressing big time about the sudden job cancellation and the lack of income that goes with that….but I have high hopes for the job interview tomorrow.  I would really love to get this position….the job description sounds fab! 🙂 Hold thumbs.

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Versatile Blogger Award

I have some great news that I’m thrilled to share you!  My blog has been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Olga SE at Self Expression. I have been communicating with Olga via our blogs for some time now and we have shared stories about our respective countries, and she did a lovely piece about St Petersburg just for me when I expressed an interest to visit there.
This is the first time I have received a blogging award and was absolutely delighted to receive the award from Olga, and this has inspired me to continue sharing news about the wonderful city I live in and about the random things that happen in my life and in the world that interest me. It seems like a great way to recognise blogs we enjoy and I’m going to complete all the requirements the award entails though I’m not pressured in any way to that
1. Thank the blogger who gave the award and link to his or her blog. I’ve done that.
2. Share seven things about yourself.    Hmmmm, what can I share
. I started blogging back in November 2008 after receiving complaints from my family and friends that my emails were too long and too frequent. 🙂  So after much encouragement from my daughter, I decided to give blogging a go and share my adventures with the wider world.  Once I got started I discovered many other fantastic blogs along the way and now subscribe to a wide variety of those, from New Zealand to Canada I get to learn about fabulous holidays to foreign destinations, gardens and the wonderful creatures that inhabit them, travelling, Social Media, photography and much much more.
.  I have a wonderful daughter who is an inspiration to me.
.  My passion is London and travel and my dream is to travel around the world in a yellow VW campervan, blogging and taking photos of everything I see (and getting paid to do it).
.  One of my goals is to visit 100 islands and to date I have visited 15.
.  I enjoy photography and hope to one day become a published photographer, although I have already have a published book of London photographs, they are personal to me and I would like to improve on them.
.  I enjoy writing poetry and wrote a poem once about a little boy called Panashe whose mother had died of cholera in Zimbabwe. I saw the story and his photo in a newspaper article, that inspired me to write the poem.  I mentioned the photographer; Robin Hammond who had taken the photo, and she contacted me afterwards which was really exciting.
. In 4 months time I will celebrate 10 years since my arrival in this country, a huge undertaking at the time and something I have never regretted. I love the UK and London with a passion that has never dimmed since I looked out the window of the Piccadilly line to Heathrow and thought “I could live here”. and now I do 🙂

3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whose work you enjoy and link to them. I will do that with pleasure as now I know quite a number of bloggers who are really versatile and deserve this award. (Olga passed the award along to 15 bloggers!) wow 🙂

This is my list:

TEStazyk  – Thomas provides a down to earth and humorous point of view on happenings in the world, as well as superb stories about his travels and life in New Zealand.

Jenny B –  the zingy romp through life of a single Mom who delights in her family.

Matt M  –  my Canterbury pal, whom I met through the blog about my Canterbury Tales. Matt has a passion for travel and unearthing the most amazing snippets of historical information about Chaucer and his journey to Canterbury.

Cemanthe H – with a passion for photography, she shares some of the most amazing photos that pique the interest, inspire you to stop and think and make you want to find out more!

Ivonne M – who shares her thoughts, feelings and experiences over a truely versatile range of subjects with a vivid passion.
 
James C – who has some of the most amazing photos I have ever seen of Australia.  James is a traveller of note with a quirky sense of humour and a passion for creating movies.

Barbara W – discovering the world, one culture at a time; some of the most amazing adventures and visiting some awesome places in the world.

Brenda H – inspires me with her marvellous tales of the garden.  Whenever I read one of her articles I want to go right out and build a garden! So one day when I have a house of my own with a garden I will be avidly reading her blog.

Vivienne B – real life parenting, a blog that shares life with her family with an intimate intensity that sometimes reduces me to tears, a sometime humourous, sometimes searing insight of what it is like to be Mom to 4 teenagers.

Kristie W – who blogs about a very sensitive issue in life; something that we are all at one time or another affected by. She writes in a practical and open way providing insights and guidance.

You are free to do whatever you want with the award: you can pretend it doesn’t exist or write a post about it. Whichever way you choose, please don’t feel obliged to pass on the award, it is not necessary at all. Only do it if you feel like doing it.

4. Comment on their blogs to tell them of the award.

That’s it folks.   Thanks to all of you for sharing your fabulous stories.

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