Monday, 20 February 2012

Time to start again....

Gosh, 'blogging' had for some reason fallen into the 'too time consuming box', not really sure why, possibly due to house moves, trips to the North West on days off from work, and 'doing jobs' at the new home. I say new, we have been living here now for 1 year and 9 months!

Take this as my attempt to get start blogging again..... in 2012.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

FRIENDS REUNITED - not the website... the reality!

A weekend in November was spent in Cheshire reuniting myself with my dearest lifetime friends Joy and Sue. As I journeyed from the North East to the North West a wonderful and warm feeling enveloped me, I was going home.

I arrived at my destination just after dusk and shared the welcoming embrace only true friends can share. The next few hours were a ping-pong of chatter attempting to fill the voids that our time apart had created. Finally and exhausted from our eager attempts to up date each other on life’s events, we headed for our respective retreats and welcome slumber.

The next morning I was treated to the delights of tea in a china pot, to be served in a matching cup and saucer, such simple delights enhanced by the view across the autumnally coloured Cheshire plains.

Later we visited the Willowpool Garden Centre and Baron Antiques, an eccentric collectors paradise (my description not the official one).

See for yourself, certainly worth a visit, but make sure you are hungry, the food is delicious and the ambience of the award winning tea room is especially delightful. You can also choose to sit outside (as we did- see above right) in one of the thatched wicker cabins, where in the winter months you will be provided with an outside gas heater and a BLANKET to cover your knees..... how lovely.

A trip into Northwich followed, where I purchased more walking accessories (socks, gloves and trousers protectors) all I need to do now is WALK!

Sporting our matching PJ’s which Joy had kindly provided for us all we began our evening in high spirits, and laughter ensued……… put three 50 something women and a digital camera together and listen to their individual suggestions on how set the timer!!!


The smell of home cooked food served to build our appetites, which were not disappointed as we savoured the delights of home cooked potatoe pie and home made apple pie from home grown apples. Satisfied and relaxed we retired to the comfort and the warmth of the front lounge, where we continued to share the experiences of the last twelve months.

I feel privileged to have retained the friendships of Sue and Joy, through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, as many friends leave your life as quickly as they entered it and rarely stand the test of time and the ever changing circumstances of life.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


19th November 1968, yes 40 years ago......... Gladys Beswick departed this world far, far too soon. My mother, my friend, and although I was denied sharing the world of adulthood with her, I have fond memories of her kindness, generosity and hugs and how she offered me reassurance and wiped away my tears when I was hurt or afraid, and when I had just started senior school in the September of '68.

How I have wished we could have experienced more of the mother and daughter things like shopping, chatting endlessly and sharing the excitment of her pending grandchild, I do however feel privileged for being her daughter and for having her in my life for eleven wonderful years.
She wanted her children to have a better life and stived to ensure we would have, she would say,
"None of my children will end up in the mill,"
and although she doesn't know it, non of us did!
Shortly after she had left us I wrote this in my dairy, which is stored in one of my many memorabilia boxes:
'All my life until I was eleven I thought the world was mine,
I played as though it was all heaven
I never thought they would draw the line.
When I was eleven my little heaven became nothing but hell,
It was as if a wicked witch had cast me with a spell.
The nights became cold I had to be bold and stand on my own two feet,
I had lost one of the people I loved the most and hoped again to meet.'
Love you always mum and thank you for the will to improve and the need to succeed xx


Autumn 2008, my first real visit to Edinburgh, I say 'real' because my previous visit was more of a passing through! After leaving Northumberland mid morning and challenging my friend to demonstrate his crossword skills during our journey, we arrived at our pre-booked B&B which on first impressions was adequate....... We unpacked and began our exploration of the City, which is built on extinct volcanoes.
First lession, how to catch a bus...... ensure you have the correct fare ready, they don't give change.
Out first port of call was the Royal Botanic Garden, which is just a stone's throw from the city centre, although the time of year left some things to the imagination it was a welcoming experience for a less than knowledgeable gardener. 70 acres of scenery, reflecting research and conservation work, amonst which the garden boasts many thousands of trees and shrubs. Something tells me we did not cover the 70 acres, though we did enjoy a peaceful ramble, followed by a visit to the Victorian Temperate Palm House - the tallest of it's kind in Britain, which leads on to the glasshouse experience offering an opportunity to explore ten distinct climatic zones holding around one percent of all known flowering plants, cycads and ferns.

One of my friend's photos - an interesting specimin from the glass house experience!

Above: Inside the Palm House

On our way back to our salubrious (tongue in cheek) B&B we checked out the local eateries in preparation for our evening meal. Decision made Indian cuisine it would be, which was no disappointment, shame we could not say the same about the bed..... like Edinburgh it felt like it was built on extinct volcanoes!!!!

Saturday - the day's excursions took us to one of Edinburgh's National Gallery houses where we spent a couple of hours strolling around the peacful setting and viewing masterpieces from Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt and Rubens to Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Degas and Gauguin. Like I know all about them..... well I know more now.

Diana and Callisto - Titian Diana and Actaeon - Titian
Campaign for the Titians
Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, both painted by Italian Renaissance artist Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) in the 16th century, rank among the greatest works of art on display anywhere in the world.
These works are part of the Bridgewater Collection, which has been on loan from the Duke of Sutherland to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945. It is the most important private collection of Old Master paintings on loan to an institution in the UK, and forms the core of the National Gallery of Scotland’s world-famous displays of European art.
The Galleries now have the opportunity to acquire Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, thereby ensuring that the remainder of the Collection will continue to be on public view for many years to come. To that end, National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery London are now working together to secure the long term future of these paintings.

The Galleries has until the end of this year to raise the £50 million to acquire Diana and Acteaon. If this is successful, they have been offered assurances to secure the loan of the rest of the Bridgewater Collection for the next 21 years. The National Heritage Memorial Fund has recently awarded £10 million to help fund the purchase of Diana and Actaeon. If you are interest in helping the campaign you can donate on line through the National Galleries web site.

After an enjoyable and educational morning, lunch was required, my travelling companion suggested a trip down memory lane to Henderson's restaurant which he had frequented many years before with his family. A bit of background from their website:

Henderson's motto: Eat Better Live Better
For 40 years Henderson's has been at the forefront of healthy eating in Scotland's capital city. The Farm Shop at 92 Hanover Street and the conversion of the basement into ideas on whole foods picked up by Janet Henderson during her European travels during the 30s. Like Arthur's Seat and the castle, Henderson's just seems to have been there forever. It is difficult to imagine Hanover Street without it. Through good communication with our customers and keeping abreast of international trends Henderson's have tailored their fare to suit changing lifestyles. However, Janet's philosophy is still the mainstay of the business: to nurture, energise and heal the body by eating and drinking for health.
The ambiance was delighful and the food delicious, it was an all round good experience.

A walk in the fresh air now required, we strolled along the Royal Mile with it's elegant historic houses that compliment the altogether historic setting of the city. We walked up to the Castle which sits majestically on sheer granite cliffs, high above the city which is surrounded by rolling hills. There are impressive panoramic views from the castle right across to the distant sea.
Rest and relaxation required and with the increasing threat of heavier rain, we decided to go to The Jazz Bar, which is located in a basement on Chambers Street, where we were entertained by a jazz trio for almost three hours, I could spend more Saturday afternoons there - thoroughly enjoyable.
With aching feet we decided to spend the evening in our B&B playing scrabble and enjoying our early purchases of speciality cheeses and wine. For the record I WON THE SCRABBLE!!!!!
Sunday - the weekend draws to a close, and when you have to check out (even when you are desperate for some home comforts like a soft bed), there is always an anti climax feeling........ how fast it has all gone!
Wonderful and fond memories will remain, and I will visit Edinburgh again, perhaps next time during late Spring to see the Royal Botanic Garden in mid bloom, or simply just to be a little bit warmer..........and I will definately stay in a different B&B.

Monday, 22 September 2008


"The only joy in the world is to begin" - Cesare Pavese.

"The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything. Because a new experience displaces so many old experiences..... The world doesn't fear a new idea. It can pigeon-hole any idea. But it can't pigeon-hole a real new experience." - DH. Lawrence.

Since August 2007 I have had a release of new energy in a new direction, my previous life has been preciously stored away, not lost, not buried, just rested. I have started a new life, something that I am still grappling with, still a little lost, confused, and uncertain. My true beginning will take place only after I have come through the wilderness and am ready to perhaps make the commitment to do things differently than I ever have done before

Like any organic process, this beginning cannot be made to happen by a word or act. It will happen, just as fruit follows flowers, it will be natural and not subject to anyone's will.

But if I am unable to force this beginning, I can encourage it, support it, and reinforce it. I cannot turn a key or flip a switch, but I can cultivate the ground and provide the nourishment. For myself and others who find themselves in this 'wilderness' perhaps we should ask ourselves: What is my purpose in this life? What do I want my future to look like? What has to happen to make this picture a reality?. . . . . . . .then when these questions have been answered, take responsibility to guide our lives in the direction we wish to follow. Alternatively, we can sit in the wilderness..... and wait!

Friday, 29 August 2008


I dedicate my entry today to my late husband Nicholas who tragically and unexpectedly departed this world, and mine, 30th August 2004, two days before our 4th wedding anniversary. Since Nicholas’s death I have never allowed myself to build up to a day of mourning just because a date or an anniversary suggests you should. The pain of bereavement will hit you when you are least expecting it, so do not offer it an invitation or beckon it in with open arms. Today is a happy day.

Because of the untimely and unexpected death of my husband I was left with an overwhelming feeling of anger and guilt. My car became my personal space and an instrument of torture, every time I journeyed alone I would scream, shout, cry and blame the world for how I was feeling. I began to dread getting into the car alone, but I needed to get out of the house and would during the first arduous phase of my bereavement regularly visit my sister and her husband. It was during one such visit that my brother-in-law lent me a book, The Smoke Jumper - Nicholas Evans (the author’s name a pure coincidence), I remember little of the book as I remember little of many things at this time, except for a poem within the book which I will always remember as it provided me with some solace. I kept a copy of it and would read it when grief attempted to fall upon me:

If I be the first to die,
Let grief not blacken long your sky.
Be bold yet modest in your grieving.
There is a change but not a leaving.
For just as death is part of life,
The dead live on forever in the living.
And all the gathered riches of our journey,
The moments shared, the mysteries explored,
The steady layering of intimacy stored,
The things that made us laugh or weep or sing,
The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring,
The wordless language of look and touch,
The knowing,
Each giving and each taking,
These are not flowers that fade,
Nor trees that fall and crumble,
Nor are they stone,
For even stone cannot the wind and rain withstand
And the mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand.
What we were, we are.
What we had, we have.
A conjoined past imperishably present.
So when you walk the woods where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Be still.
Close your eyes.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.

In August 2007 whilst travelling to Lancashire alone in my car the pain of bereavement struck me again, I cried the kind of cry that comes from the depth of your stomach, I screamed as I had not screamed since the early months following Nicholas’s death, then slowly and calmly I felt something lift away from me and it was as if Nicholas was letting me go and saying,

"Goodbye Julie, live your life and let me go."

I know exactly where I was on that journey when he said goodbye, and I will always remember the place.

Thank you Nicholas for the time we shared and for the unconditional love you gave to me during our brief but precious time together.

Today I can remember you with peace and love in my heart and a smile on my face.


Do you want to 'kick back' at commercialism but don't know where to start or where to go ...... then bake bread! When recently discussing the possibility of embarking upon some voluntary work, a friend of mine told me to look at the following wed site
SLOW SUNDAY is when readers of Resurgence are invited to undertake a small meaningfull and simple action that symbolises a rejection of commercialism, a passion for the planet and a desire for change. The more people that join in then the greater the impact.... 28th September follows the theme of BAKE BREAD TO SAVE THE PLANET....... and having recently watched a friend bake their own bread (and without the aid of a 'breadmaker'), I can assure you it is not difficult and tastes delicious...... so get yourself prepared, you have plenty of time to practice.