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About 6 months ago I decided to go ‘great’ free. I was having one of my ‘ffs I hate D. Trump’ days after one of his latest vicious bigoted narcissistic misogynistic rants on a video I saw on Facebook (why do I EVEN watch them???) One of his favourite words is ‘great’. So I decided there and then to never again use the word ‘great’ in any written articles, replies or responses to anything anywhere. Since I am a bit of a ‘linguaphile’ anyway, it suits me to try my darndest to find alternative words.

 

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English is such a magical language, it’s expressive, descriptive and manipulative, and by using certain words you can change the whole meaning of something e.g. I will toast my bread. If you do that you are toast! I particularly love/enjoy/like words that have the same spelling but have different meanings – consider the word ‘bow’ – depending on how you use it, it’s spelt the same, but has a different meaning in context of the action, and even the pronunciation changes accordingly:

Can you make a ‘bow’ out of this ribbon?

When you meet the Queen you must ‘bow’.

The front of the boat is the ‘bow’.

An archer shoots an arrow from his ‘bow’.

A whole sentence: When we loosen the bow, the Queen will smash the bottle against the bow of the ship, but remember to bow when she arrives or her archer will shoot you with their bow. hahahaha. I just made that up. I love it. 🙂

We have become incredible lazy when responding to a situation by using the word ‘great’ for just about anything…that’s a great hairdo. Your hair looks great. What a great party. I had a great walk. That was great fun. She’s such a great person. The sea looks great today….etc etc You get the picture. Urgh. Why do we use that simplistic word when we have so many interesting, splendiferous, expressive, descriptive words to use in the English language.

So here’s how we can change that:

That’s a great hairdo. = That’s a really stunning hair style, it suits you.

Your hair looks great. = Your hair is looking lovely today.

What a great party. = What a fantastic party. What an enjoyable party.

I had a great walk. = I had an enjoyable walk. I had an exhilarating walk.

That was great fun. = That was so much fun. That was terrific fun.

She’s such a great person. = She’s an admirable person. She’s so personable.

The sea looks great today = The sea looks beautiful/gorgeous/amazing today.

What a great day. = What a terrific/brilliant/superb day.

And so it goes. Since I made the decision to dispel that awful word from my vocabulary, when I’m replying to something on facebook or making a comment I try to find suitable words that are more descriptive, more expressive.Funny-Quotes-English-Language-1 - Mr Tumblr

When I write my blogs, I avoid the word great altogether. While writing this blog I did a google search ‘words to use rather than great’ and look at this ‘fun’ ‘funky’ ‘useful’ ‘brilliant’ ‘clever’ ‘interesting’ website I found 😉

111 words to use instead of great’ https://www.grammarcheck.net/synonyms-great/

I have managed very successfully to avoid using the word except now and then when I accidentally vocalise the word without thinking. Down with great I say….

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Since deciding to walk The Camino, I’ve read a wide range of blogs written by the vast array of people; both men and women of all ages that walk the different Camino routes – some blogs are documentary, some short, some long, many are very personal; walking the Camino and lessons learned.

different paths; different journeys

different paths; different journeys

I have learned a lot about how some folks behave on the pilgrim routes – which honestly has come as quite a surprise.

One of the most profound stories I’ve read so far relates to sunflowers;

It started when I really considered the sunflower plant. I often leave town in the early morning darkness. That’s when the sunflower has its head bowed low awaiting that first ray of sunlight. Then it perks up and turns its face toward the sun and absorbs sunlight and energy all day. Then, at evening, it again bows low and rests for the night. After a period of time, it starts to lose the beautiful yellow crown surrounding its seedy face. It becomes more difficult to raise its head toward the sun. At last, it dies. That is, the plant dies, but the seeds live on.

Another interesting blog I read, also spoke about sunflowers:

That is, I had never considered their significance until the life cycle of a sunflower was explained to me by a German opera singer named Anja.  As she explained it, just before sunflowers die, they give up their seeds from the brown part of the flower (the seed head).  Their last act, if you will, is to give of themselves to ensure that future sunflowers will grow in that area next season.

and continued with a story about keeping the peace; relating a situation with a man called Ted – a story I found to be both interesting and shocking. It described how this man would get drunk and behaved in a manner totally unacceptable in normal society, never mind on a pilgrims route; it never entered my head that people would behave like that on the Camino!!

What I found so interesting was how they both said the same thing: I had never considered.

Another fascinating journey that I am following on instagram is Walking for Peace. It’s been so interesting to follow Mony and Alberto and see the lessons they are learning; some of which have reduced me to tears, given me goosebumps. It’s marvellous that they are so aware of what is being learned. So often in life the lessons we are meant to learn present themselves again and again before we finally accept them.

Since I started my ‘journey’ and even though I haven’t yet walked even one step on ‘The Camino’, I feel as though my journey has already begun. I’ve been walking a lot (604.89 miles since 01/01/2017), practising with my backpack, feeling my way with how much I can or cannot cope with. I have enjoyed hours and hours of travelling, walking and exploration by myself. I am becoming more observant of my surroundings, something that would please my daughter who gets very frustrated with my usual lack of observation!! My usual answer when she says “did you see that Mom?” – and I’m like “What?” But it was right in front of you!!! LOL

I find that I am slowly learning how to ‘let go’, although that is still a really difficult and annoying part of my personality; replaying over and over and over in my mind after an incident that disturbs me: ‘I should have said this’ or ‘I should have done that’, the emotions of the moment churning and churning till I want to go mad.do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace - dalai lama xiv

I am beginning to believe that this churning incidents over and over in my mind relates very much to my childhood, a long period of time when I found myself in bad situations, times when I felt completely helpless, unable to verbalise my fears, afraid of what might happen if I did speak up.

I’ve noticed a common thread among these pilgrim stories; the real Camino begins once a peregrino returns home.

And as my journey draws nearer, I do muse on what lessons The Camino will hold for me. It has certainly consumed pretty much my every waking thought in the meantime.

walking the camino and lessons learned

the many paths in life we get to choose…..

Do join me on my journey as I prepare for what is the 2nd most important journey of my life. Follow along on instagram as I travel around the country, working, walking, learning and discovering more about myself and the country I now call home.

Buen Camino.

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I love books. I have a weakness for books. I have a shelf of books (now in storage) that I love to look at and recall the tales between the covers. In South Africa I had hundreds of books…some as old as 60+. Sadly when I moved my possessions over from SA to UK I had to leave a great many behind due to lack of space in my current home and plans for the future….100’s of books won’t fit into a campervan 😉

I read voraciously as a child, seldom without a book in my hand, I read at every opportunity from morning till night and then some. At school my teachers were hard put to keep up with me….I’d get a class book and bring it back within a few days having read it right through. My teachers would get suspicious and ask me questions…..they soon learned to not bother but just kept me topped up.

Even today, I love nothing more than a quiet corner and a good book. As for organising them…..sometime, maybe, I may. But mostly they just live happily wherever they land. 😉 Most recently a very lovely and dear friend of mine sent me a book on the eve of my visit to Florence, Italy. – ‘A Florence Diary’ by Diane Athill.

a florence diary diane athill

One of the many fun things about coming ‘home’ after being away for 3 weeks is opening my mail. To my delight one of the envelopes contained this wonderful book ‘A Florence Diary’ from my lovely friend Lucy

 

What a delight. I started reading immediately, but unfortunately, once I actually arrived in Florence I was out from early morning till late a night, returning to the apartment only to brush my teeth, change into pyjamas and fall into bed till the morning; at which time I would repeat it all over again LOL So no time to continue reading in Florence I’m afraid.

But I have brought it with me to Ireland and with a few days of mucky weather in store I plan to read it…..Thanks Lucy my sweet, I shall treasure this little book and add it to my collection in the campervan 🙂

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Today, 27 March 2017, marks the end of a wonderful episode of and in my life. 6.5 years ago, in 2011, I moved in with my daughter for 6 months (Yes, I know right LOL).

Back at the time she had just been through a very traumatic divorce, had moved into a shared house with a lass whose fiance had been killed just recently, so there was a lot of high emotion and stress for both of them. Things didn’t go well after a few months and in time the other lass moved out and my daughter decided that she was settled in the house and didn’t want to move. She was also wary of sharing with another stranger and all the issues that brings with it. So after much discussion and since I had just recently quit my long-term live-in caring position, it was decided I would move in for 6 months to help her over the hump, so to speak.

Things went well. We had lots of tears to start with as she struggled to find her equilibrium and work her way through the trauma of the divorce, but we also had loads of laughter. I work away a lot with my job, so she had the house to herself for weeks at a time and when I came back, we had cupcakes and tea, long walks and talks, plenty of tears, hugs, kisses and smiles as we created new memories for her to take into the new future she was creating.

I loved it. Frankly speaking it was wonderful to ‘come home’ to my precious child and be able to hug the hurts better, chat about everything under the sun over tea, and just be with her.love you mum 05.06.2013

It helped me tremendously being able to see first-hand her progress and development into what was a new skin and a new person. The divorce had changed her. Now she was developing the next phase of her life. We created some memorable and wonderful memories.

After a few years of London living, she decided she wanted to move to the coast, get out of London. We had discovered that it was the pollution in London that was making her so ill. We lived right on a dual-carriageway in Richmond and the exhaust fumes were affecting what was already a fragile health issue; her heart. One night, the day before Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, I was home when her heart stopped. Thankfully I was there. And she recovered after a time. After a few months of searching, she finally found just the right place in Broadstairs 🙂

broadstairs

Broadstairs – a seaside town in Kent

and even though the original arrangement was that I would stay on in London when she made the move to the coast, with one thing and another, and due to financial restraints at the time, it was decided that I would make the move with her…it made sense really; since I wasn’t home much she would have the house to herself for 2-3 weeks of each month, I would have a place for my possessions and get to see her more often than if we were 80 miles apart!! We also got to share some fantastic holidays and events!

Taking over the town and standing as a political candidate, she soon found her feet and settled into her new life

The next two and half years flashed by in the blink of an eye and once again we created some fantastic memories.

Creating loving and lasting memories in Broadstairs

Creating loving and lasting memories in Broadstairs

Soon we had a new addition to our happy home; Elsie moved in and not only took over the house, but our hearts as well ❤elsie

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Just look at this little body… @Elsietherescuecat could she have chosen a more purrrrrfect place to sleep? This little girl is so content it makes my heart ache with love. She couldn’t have been chosen by a more loving person…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Cémanthe has done an amazing job of creating a caring, loving, safe and clearly contented environment for a little body that suffered so much in her earlier life; Elsie the happy cat 😉 

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Last year we fetched Fiona – next was her driving licence and now she’s never home LOL

She met a wonderful young man last year, he proposed in December, they’re getting married in May 2018 and it was decided that they would start sharing a home from May 2017.

So today, 27 March 2017, is officially the last day Broadstairs will be my home. Mum’s moving out and the fiance is moving in ❤💑💍👰💂 In future I’ll just touch base for a day/night or so from time to time to change bags, swap clothes, get plenty of hugs and kisses before heading out again. Essentially I’ll be a gypsy living out my suitcase and travelling between jobs 😀😀😀👏👏 yayy. I’ll miss ‘home’ for sure but I’m excited for adventures new. Goodbye Broadstairs; it’s been fun.

And now it’s time for me to start creating some more fantastic memories.

happiness2

my daughter sent this to me…it’s now my desktop pic!! love it, makes me smile eveytime I log on

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2016 was indeed a very weird year. For some it was marred by tragedy, for some it will be remembered with love. We all watched in horror as the tragedies in Syria unfolded, many sobbed at the deaths of favoured pop stars, actors, musicians and the like, either cheered or reacted with fury at the result of Brexit, and millions watched amazed and not without trepidation as America elected Trump as their next president (I use the diminutive ‘p’ deliberately). So much has happened in 2016 it seems that it was a year of extremes.

For me personally it was a year of highs and more highs, of love and laughter and a few tears. These were the highlights of my 2016

January:

goodbye 2016

January 2016

My daughter and I saw in 2016 at the London Eye and then went for waffles and cream at Caffe Concerto in London

Saw the amazing Les Lumineoles in London

February:

goodbye 2016

February 2016

I got my citizenship – my daughter attended the ceremony with me at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone.

Managed my very first ‘proper’ #selfie LOL

Got arty with my photography

March:

goodbye 2016

March 2016

My daughter treated me for Mother’s Day with a journey on the British Pullman Orient Express.

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe – my Mothers Day treat

Squeezed in a visit to my favourite palace; Hampton Court while in Thames Ditton

Bumped into my sister and Yoda at Trafalgar Square in London

I received my very first British Passport.

My daughter bought her first UK car

April:

goodbye 2016

April 2016

I travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and got to see the White Cliffs of Dover for real

I went to Windsor to see the Queen for her 90th birthday walkabout

goodbye 2016

April 2016 Happy 90th Birthday Queen Elizabeth II

My daughter and I went to Paris for a day to celebrate both my birthday and my citizenship

I celebrated my birthday at Dover Castle and St George & his dragon

goodbye 2016

St George & the dragon 23 April

May:

goodbye 2016

May 2016

I spent 2 weeks in South Africa visiting family and preparing to send my possessions to the UK.

I got to meet my nephew and niece for the first time.

Started my Camino 2016 practice walks

June:

goodbye 2016

June 2016

I went to Trooping the Colour for the 6th year in a row – London in summer is gorgeous

I walked my first 28 km stint from Broadstairs to Sandwich (45279 steps!!)

July:

goodbye 2016

July 2016

An early and first visit to Bath to celebrate my daughter’s birthday

I saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol – finally!!!

I visited my lovely friend Valy in Brussels and visited Antwerp

August:

goodbye 2016

August 2016

Visited Dover Castle to watch the 1216 Siege re-enactment

Spent the day in Canterbury with my daughter to celebrate her birthday

September:

goodbye 2016

September 2016

My daughter and I did our first geocaching treasure hunt.

I watched the annual Great River Race in London – my friends of the Trinity Tide won in their category again 🙂

I watched the wooden replica of City of London burn  at the 350th Anniversary event

goodbye 2016

04.09.2016 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London 1666

My first visit to Great Malvern in Worcestershire – added another county to my list

Spent the day in London and went up The Shard with my daughter and my sister

October:

goodbye 2016

October 2016

Spent a few days in Rye with my sister for her birthday and went to Hastings

Watched the cheeky Russian Navy sail their warship through our waters…

November:

goodbye 2016

November 2016

Went to my lovely friend; Lucy’s wedding – she married her sweetheart Tom

Visited Gravesend in Kent at last

My first visit to Lancashire – and added another county to my list

Reached the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills

goodbye 2016

November 2016 – climbed the Worcestershire Beacon

December:

goodbye 2016

December 2016 – Worcester

Visited Worcester and the fabulous cathedral

Climbed to Worcestershire Beacon again

My daughter and her boyfriend got engaged at Tower of London – he asked me to be his Best Man for the South African ceremony 🙂

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe & Simon – engaged to be married in 2018

Celebrated an early Christmas with my daughter and her now fiancé Simon

goodbye 2016

2016 our first Christmas with Simon, first of many more

And along the way I watched hundreds of sunrises and a few sunsets, travelled far and wide and visited quite a few new places.

goodbye 2016

2016 sunrise and sunset around the country

I started my Camino practice walks that changed from 2016 to 2017 ;).

 

UPS lost my hard-drive with 10 years worth of my photos, memories and incalculable information (bastards). I finally upgraded my phone and made great strides in figuring out how to do stuff on the internet on my own.

goodbye 2016

2016 – some of the books I’ve read and 2 of my Camino practice walks

My daughter and I had many amazing mini adventures,

goodbye 2016

2016 mini adventures with my daughter

enjoyed numerous cream teas, I read a number of terrific books, watched The Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament and on Christmas Day.

goodbye 2016

2016 treats and the Queen

I’m no richer, no poorer, not thinner or fatter…my hair has grown down past my shoulder again and I have spent innumerable hours of fun and laughter with my daughter.

This is my last blog for 2016.

It’s been a good year all in all; goodbye 2016….see you soon 2017!!!

Happy New Year

 

 

 

 

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I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce that my delightful, darling daughter has said YES!!!! to her wonderful beau, Simon’s question 🙂 They’re engaged and I’m thrilled.

they're engaged

Cémanthe & Simon…he proposed, she said yes 🙂

They went to London for the day with some friends. They went all over the place and then when they got to Tower of London for the ice-skating….he proposed…on the ice!! 🙂

Bless him, he’s been practising like mad to learn to ice-skate and not fall over….so tonight he asked her the big question. First he had the DJ play their song ‘At Last’ by Etta James, and then as she rushed back over the ice to be with him, she noticed a big sign, held up by his friends, that said “Cémanthe will you marry me?” He then, so very romantically, went down on one knee, on the ice and popped the question….the ring was all ready. They then announced over the tannoy that she had said yes, and everyone cheered. Awww, I love it…..so romantic.

Love is in the air….I guess I have a wedding to start saving for. Welcome to the family Simon. What a gem you are. Clever man!!!!

At last…….

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The more you give the more you get back. It’s scary opening our heart sometimes but I urge you to try it. If you have the courage to be vulnerable, especially if you’re in a leadership role, you empower others. I arrived in India 2 days ago to do a yoga course and didn’t know […]

via The power of being vulnerable  — Less is More

I’ve shared Helen’s post as it comes a few hours after I read an article about the Camino that really caught at me. I posted the article on facebook along with this comment:

“Reading this actually brought tears to my eyes….I simply cannot wait to go. It also clarified for me why I want to do this on my own….I want to be taken right out my comfort zone, I want to be confronted by challenges, I want to be alone in the crowd and yet one with my companions, I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, I want the Camino to ‘walk’ me!!! I simply cannot wait…albeit wait I must…but soon. Soon.”

Helen’s post resonated with me tonight because when walking the Camino we do open ourselves up to being vulnerable; in so many ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend until we start.

Here is the Camino article. http://www.caminoadventures.com/days-arriving-santiago-de-compostela/

What really caught my attention in the article was this: the 3 important questions necessary for growth (if not sanity):

  • Where am I going?
  • Where have I been?
  • Who am I?

I can answer the first two fairly easily, but it was the 3rd question that caught at me. This is something that I have been questioning of late and sometimes I really don’t know. Life has shaped me in weird ways, experiences have either warped me or shaped me…..Who am I? is a question that I reckon my journey along The Way is going to challenge me.

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