That’s one way to get to France

njajMy husband told me that he had organised an outing for us and that all we had to do was get ready. Following his instructions, I, and the boys, arrived at the starting point for our trip which was a small pier stretching out to sea.

“We’re going to France,” he told me exictedly. I looked around for the boat but could see none. In a way, it was a relief. The last time that I had been on a boat had not been particularly pleasant and it would have been thoughtless of my husband to have planned another, similar experience.

“Great!” I replied, “but how?”

“With this.” With a flourish he pulled something out of the water which looked like a giant fan with a steering wheel attached.

“I don’t understand. What is that?”

“I’ll show you.” Eagerly he jumped into the water and started the motor. Instantly it whirred into life and he grabbed hold of the steering wheel allowing the object to pull him rapidly through the water. We stood on the pier, watching, as he made a couple of loops.

“This might seem a daft question, but how are we all going to get to France on that?” I asked when he returned.

“Simple. Jump in and I’ll show you.”

Dutifully the three of us did as he asked and on his instructions, attached ourselves to the steering wheel/fan object in an odd kind of line formation.

“Ready?” He shouted. I nodded.

A few seconds later, the four of us found ourselves being dragged through the water as my husband aimed the contraption towards the distant shoreline. France, presumably.

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies

It sounds odd even as I write this now, but in a funny kind of way, it was actually really liberating. After a while we all got used to the cold and even began to enjoy the freedom but unfortunately, my husband hadn’t considered that his arms would get tired. A short while later he pulled the fan thing towards a dock to rest and we all clambered out of the water, securing the strange object to the wooden railing.

Luckily the dock had a pub and so we crammed inside, keen to dry out. We were also starving. Ordering large, home cooked platters, we tucked greedily into the delicious food, unaware of how much time was passing. By the time we had eaten our fill, darkness had drawn in and so my husband reluctantly agreed that it would be best to rent a room for the night and continue with our journey the next day.

Image courtesy of dan / freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan / freedigitalphotos.net

The following morning we awoke to a ferocious storm. There were black thunder clouds overhead and lighting ripped through the sky.

“I am not going in the water on a day like today,” I said. “If you want me to go anywhere near France then you are going have to organise something better than what we had yesterday.”

My husband looked crestfallen, but he agreed. “Leave it with me.”

I watched as he went over to a group of sailors who were stood in the corner of the main room. A few moments later he returned.

“I’ve got us a boat,” he said excitedly.

“Great.” Given the weather I was less than enthusiastic but a boat had to be better than the steering wheel contraption. Dutifully we all followed him out onto the dock.

The ‘boat’ turned out to be old and wooden and more than a little rickety. It was though – according to its owner – sound. There were a few supplies on board and enough space for us all to sit in comfort but to my dismay, it lacked any kind of covering or shelter from the elements. My husband though, was not to be deterred.

“Come on, get in!” he shouted as we all looked rather dubiously at it.

One by one we climbed in and settled aboard, surprised to realise that once we had set sail, the ride was actually, quite pleasant.

“What’s the weather forecast?” I shouted as he negotiated the small exit from the dock.

“I have no idea,” he shouted back, “I thought we’d just get to the opening of the Channel and see.”

“Right.” The wind had calmed a little but the clouds were still very heavy and threatening. “I have to be honest,” I continued, “if we get there and the waves are rough, I am not going any further. You are going to have to turn this boat around.”

“It’ll be fine, I promise.”

Smoothly the craft glided ever closer to the open sea and I began to relax, believing that perhaps everything would be okay. In the distance I could see the Channel getting larger. I squinted, trying to focus on how the sea ahead was behaving.

“I see waves,” I called out. “Big ones.”

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev via freedigitalphotos.net

Just at that moment a gust of wind hit us side on and my youngest son went flying across the deck. Nimbly I caught him.

“No – you’re imagining it. Look, the waves are as calm as anything.”

I looked again. “They are huge,” I said as we reached the mouth of the Channel, “there is no way this boat is going to stay intact once we leave this dock.”

“Piffle,” replied my husband, “it’ll be fine.”

The boat began to move ever closer to the gaping water ahead and I could feel the current beneath drawing us towards the waves. Their crashing height was only metres in front and for the first time since we had embarked on this hare-brained adventure, I felt real fear.

“Please, I can’t do this,” I pleaded, “nor can the boys.”

“It’ll be fine,” shouted my husband as he struggled to maintain control of the boat, “you want to go to France right?”

“Yes, but…”

The rest of my sentence was lost as the waves crashed over us and slowly engulfed our small boat. The last thing that I remember is being pulled safely to the shore.

A while later I woke in a warm, comfortable bed with sun streaming through the gap in the curtains. I looked around noting the room’s familiarity and as I stretched, my leg brushed against something. Another leg. My husband. Snoring contentedly.

I lay back and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe over me and as I did so, I broke out into a massive grin.

I was happy.

Deliriously so.

Because this…

…this had all been just a dream.

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If we were having coffee…

zirconicusso via freedigitalphotos.net

zirconicusso via freedigitalphotos.net

It’s been a while – again – only this time I have good reason. I finally moved house! Yay!

So, just to keep you all up to date, if we were having coffee, this is what I would tell you…

  1. That the house move went smoothly if you ignore the fact that we were technically homeless for almost an hour and that the heating didn’t work (on the coldest day of the year so far), when we finally got in.
  2. That we only have two boxes left in the house to unpack. The garage however is another story!
  3. That WordPress has changed! Whoa. You can tell how long it’s been since I have been on here. It all looks shiny and different.
  4. That I am getting there with my Christmas shopping and that this year, I am even more in love with internet shopping than ever before. The only slight problem is that things keep getting delivered to my old house – which leads me to my next point…
  5. That six pints of milk somehow went missing between our old house and this one. Hmm…

    POTENTIAL CULPRIT? Image courtesy of dan via  freedigitalphotos.net

    POTENTIAL CULPRIT?
    Image courtesy of dan via freedigitalphotos.net

  6. That I am having serious writing withdrawal symptoms. Enough said.
  7. That the first few days here were a constant whirlwind of workmen coming in and out for various reasons. There was a hint that I might be ‘inventing’ problems in order to keep the steady stream of men walking through the door. As if. Tut tut…
  8. That I am immensely lucky to be sat now in this beautiful house, writing to you all and that…
  9. … it has made me even more aware of those who are less fortunate. Particularly in the bitter cold months that we are now experiencing.

    winnond via freedigitalphotos.net

    winnond via freedigitalphotos.net

  10. That I have given many of my things to charity shops as my gesture of good will. I hope that my donations will go on to help others who are more in need than myself.

Thanks for reading. I hope that you are all well and I am very much looking forward to normal service being resumed on here, now that I don’t have a house move looming over me!

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And my new passion is…

love keyboardI recently discovered that I have another passion besides writing. Because we are moving house, I needed to find a few items of furniture. When someone suggested that I try the second hand furniture shops, I was a little surprised. As weird as it sounds, I had never really set foot in one before.

When my family went to visit one the first time, it was closed. I looked through the windows and saw a lot of things that I really liked, so I planned to return. The next time I went on my own, and I could browse to my heart’s content. Instead of one shop, it was actually two. I enjoyed it so much, that I almost began to feel like I was doing something illicit.

A myriad of emotions went through me as I browsed. First of all there was sadness because I saw the type of furniture that had been in my grandparents’ home – well-loved and well used. Then there was joy at knowing that such pieces were still being given life and then, as I browsed further, I felt totally amazed at what bargains I could find. I was like a kid in a sweet shop – literally. I went from cabinet to table to sofa to drawers to mirrors, looking over each and every one, trying to picture them in my new home. It was heady, and I spent longer in those shops than I’ve spent shopping in quite a while.

I wanted to talk to my husband about some of the pieces before making a final decision. I took a few photos and could hardly wait for my husband to get home from work. The anticipation of sharing this discovery with him felt just like Christmas Eve.

AKARAKINGDOMS via freedigitalphotos.net

AKARAKINGDOMS via freedigitalphotos.net

Not unexpectedly, he liked the idea that we were saving money, but he didn’t share my joy and enthusiasm. I, however, wasn’t deterred. When I went back the next day, accompanied by my eldest, I felt such a ridiculous sense of excitement, I almost skipped inside. I re-visited the items that I had seen the previous day, but then I started searching again. I needed to check, in case I had missed anything. Initially my son was much like his father, but before long, he began to pick up on my enthusiasm. Soon we both hunted around like pirates searching for treasure. I showed him furniture that I remembered from my childhood, and we looked nostalgically at a few items that are no longer in fashion.

The table that I had spotted the previous day was a real winner. When you pull the table apart, a hidden panel opens in the middle to provide extra space. When I first saw it, I was amazed at the clever design and the smoothness of the mechanism. On this day, when I showed it to my son, it was love at first sight.

As we approached someone to pay, we passed the most adorable little sofa. I didn’t need a sofa, I had no place for it, but I fell in love with it. I sat on it. My son sat on it. We talked about it. Then I decided, “What the heck! With a bigger house, I’m sure we can find somewhere for it.” So we bought the sofa as well. In the meantime, while we still prepare for the move, you can bet your bottom dollar that the little sofa is going to be squeezed into my current lounge even if it doesn’t fit.

The new sofa with the only seal of approval that matters!

The new sofa with the only seal of approval that matters!

On the day the items were due to be delivered, I walked around with a ridiculous smile on my face. I can’t believe how this experience has affected me. I have discovered a new passion, something that feels like part of me. So even though I don’t need more furniture right now, I plan to continue to browse – on a very regular basis.

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If we were having coffee…

zirconicusso via freedigitalphotos.net

zirconicusso via freedigitalphotos.net

I kind of pinched this idea from another blogger, but I have a feeling that she won’t mind. As it’s been a while, I thought this would be a great way to get you all caught up with what has been happening on this side of the pond. So here goes.

If we were having coffee I would tell you…

That I would be drinking tea. I hate coffee. Sorry.

Image courtesy of gubgib via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of gubgib via freedigitalphotos.net

That we finally have a date for moving house. It’s all happening on the 2nd December, which means that I am currently living in a house dominated by boxes and odd furniture. 

That the trees to the rear of our new house have dropped their leaves and I can now see the river from what will be my new office. I am one very lucky girl!

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That editing on book one is still ongoing but we are making massive breakthroughs every day. The first chapters have been difficult to get right but we are finally getting there. Along the way I have learned so much and realised how much I still have to learn.

That I am going to be getting back into blogging as soon as I can. I have started reading some again and I have to say, that feels pretty good.

That I have managed to get my exercise regime going and I am now doing a half hour ‘power’ walk every day on my treadmill. Keeping it up is hard work and I have to deal with some pain but I feel so much happier when I am able to exercise regularly.

Female legs jogging on a trail

That I finally have a much more positive outlook on life. It’s taken time but at last I am able to allow myself the luxury of being happy, something that has escaped me for a long time. This still requires work, but I now know how to deal with the bad days.

That I have found a new passion. There will be a blog post on this soon, so be sure to look out for it.

And that’s about it for now.

If we were having coffee, what would you tell me?

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Do less, achieve more

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn via freedigitalphotos.net

You are running late, rushing around, the cat needs feeding, the kids need their lunch, the phone is ringing and your favourite jeans are in the wash. It’s crazy, it’s mayhem and it is a scene to which we can all relate. The issue with this scene however is that it doesn’t just happen once, it happens every single day. And each night, when you go to bed, you plan as best as you can to make sure that you avoid the same thing the following day but as soon as you get up – bam – you’re running crazy again.

My recent enforced sabbatical has necessitated in me challenging this way of existence. The endless running all over the place, the million and one things on the go, the long list of things to remember and the places that you should be and you are not. I had no choice but to take a step back and to allow life to an extent, take care of itself. It sounds daft but it was tough, really tough, to go from being crazy busy to suddenly being forced to rest and yet I was so in need of it, my body was crying out for it.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap via freedigitalphotos.net

A few days in and I began to feel stronger again and so I tackled, bit by bit, the odd job that I had left undone. I set myself a goal, one, two or maybe three things each day (over and above the basic needs of my family) and if I felt the stress kicking in, then I just took another step back. At first I convinced myself that I was being lazy. I was used to running around all of the time and just sitting, relaxing, snoozing, contemplating, it all felt wrong to me. I felt that I was letting everyone down by just taking it easy but I also understood that I would never feel better unless I gave myself the time to heal.

I am fortunate. I have the most amazing husband and family and they supported me, as they always do, whilst I took the time that I needed to get myself back to where I wanted to be. And what I realised a week or so in was that in actual fact, I was being far from lazy. On the days before I had taken time out, I had been so busy, so stressed, so wiped out that I was failing to properly achieve anything. I would start something, then flit to the next thing, open up a blog post and then type the first page of a manuscript – I was all over the place and the fact that nothing was getting done, actually added to the stress. When I stopped, allowed myself the time to breathe and then took it slowly, step by step, I finally realised that this was the way to be productive. Even though before I thought I was doing great because I was running around all over the place, in actuality, I was achieving nothing. However when I stopped and took it slow, I managed to complete  more tasks during the day than I had in a long while. It seemed odd, but somehow it made perfect sense.

Image courtesy of dan via freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan via freedigitalphotos.net

I understand that we don’t all have the opportunity to take a break but by recognising that I was running on empty and giving myself the time to reflect, I have brought so much more happiness and contentment into my life. No longer am I trying to juggle every single thing, I am achieving what I need to and dedicating the rejuvenated energy that I have found back into my family and my writing. By doing less I am achieving significantly more, which can only be a good thing.

Perhaps it doesn’t make sense for everyone, but it is certainly working for me.

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In case you were wondering…

nubes en el aguaThe last couple of weeks I have taken a much needed sabbatical, both from writing and my day job. This sabbatical has culminated in some decisions that will have lasting benefits for me and my family and one of my biggest discoveries, is that I kind of forgot how to enjoy life. I forgot how to celebrate who I am. In fact, I wasn’t celebrating much of anything. For quite a while now, I have been missing small moments of joy and well-being. That became glaringly apparent when I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I’ve let music into my life.

Music, much like writing, is in my heart. I started playing instruments including the violin and clarinet at a young age and even though I no longer play, music still moves me emotionally. That was something that I had forgotten until last week. Pushing myself to use the treadmill in the garage, I decided to put on my iPod and as the music came bursting through the headphones, I was reminded of how much pleasure I had been denying myself. After finishing my workout, I took some time out to just listen to more music and with each track that played, a part of me came back into focus.

cooldesign @ freedigitalphotos.net

cooldesign @ freedigitalphotos.net

The process of this discovery has been challenging, but I am so glad that I finally realised that I had lost my sense of who I really am. I am not saying that it will be easy, but I will make a place for all the things that are important to me—those parts that have come back into focus. A whole new world has opened up to me. Music and — dare I say it — exercise are part of my ongoing commitment to my family and to myself. As for writing? That is even further entrenched into my vision for the future.

I am now looking in one direction only and that is forwards, to where I will be fully embracing life and all of its possibilities.

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