Magical Thinking

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Whilst I was doing my every-other-day-run/walk I took some time to appreciate my surroundings. I’m so lucky to live in the UK and to have a beautiful park close by that I can jog round at my own pace in relative safety. Such a first world privilege.

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Above is the dovecote (with dove!) that’s part of one of the original buildings on the site. So pretty. Theres also a walled garden which is tended to by the local residents (I need to volunteer to do that).

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However, what caught my eye today was someone’s tree decorations for the fairies. I thought these were so beautiful:

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How did they get there? They were quite high up. They obviously took a bit of skill and forethought. Who put them there? Why?

Perhaps I’ll use them as inspiration for a short story. Watch this space!

So I guess today’s run was a more of a walk but I’m ok with that. Took me 33 minutes to do 2.2 miles which is rubbish but then I did get distracted. Bit of gentle yoga tomorrow in preparation for the bank holiday weekend.

Peace and love people!

Running: week 2

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This week, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that my little jog round the park is actually over a mile long – and I’ve been doing two laps! I’ve also been trying to pick up my pace a bit and to extend the amount of time I’m jogging and reduce the walking bits in between. I’ve been advised that there’s a number of apps that can help me with this but my phone is years old and none of them will download properly so for now I’m just relying on a timer.

One of the negative things I’ve found out this week is the effect that the pollen count can have on my stamina/basic ability to breathe. I thought my hay fever was fairly mild but running seems to multiply the effects 100 times over. Eurgh! Also, I’ve had a bit of a weird week and this seems to have distracted and demotivated me a bit. I really had to focus on my breathing (or lack of) to get myself moving. No idea how I’m “meant” to be breathing, just trying to keep it steady and even.

Current plan is now to start bringing my lap times down by focusing on the run/walk ratio – and with that increase the distance that I’ve run. I’m also going to start trying to incorporate some of the steeper inclines in the park.

Wish me luck!

 

Running at a snails pace

Confession: I have started running (well, slow jogging).

I have always wanted to be one of those girls who throw on a pair of trainers and go off for a run to clear their head. I realised fairly quickly that I was not one of those girls. Instead, I am one of those girls who are extremely heavy footed, with an incredibly short stride and a breathing style akin to that of an inbred bulldog. I do not look pretty when I run.

Due to this, plus the fact that I don’t wear makeup or do my hair, I am too scared/vain to run outside my own house, so I drive to the park. This situation is not ideal. I have nowhere to put my keys (had to shove them down my sports bra) and the park itself is on a steep slope. My current plan involves running across the flat bits of the park then walking up and down the inclines. I’m finding that quite hard so I tend to slowly jog for about 1/2 of the flat bit, then walk for  few minutes, then try to run again. It takes me about half an hour to do two circuits.

Today, I ran past a woman casually strolling along the path. I thought I was doing quite well and completed a running/walking lap of the park. As I made my way back to my car I realised that the woman was right behind me – I literally run at a snails pace.

I’m trying to control my breathing and work on getting an even stride but it’s really challenging. Does anyone have any tips for a newbie runner?  Or advice on where to put keys etc.? Is it meant to be this hard? HEEEEEELP!!!!!

 

Veg Out

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Hey guys!

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been helping my bestie (of 29 years and counting) to move house. I’m exhausted! I have found a little bit of spare time however to ge out into the garden to plant up my veg and to get my bedding plants and hanging baskets going.

I might have mentioned this before but I really do love gardening. I find it so theraputic and love seeing my seeds and bulbs germinate. I was really inspired by shelleyschell to blog about what I’m growing. Her blog shows an amazing method of using straw bales to grow fruit and veg in, I’m really excited to see what happens! I’d love to try this for myself but being a bit short on space it’s not really an option right now. Instead, I use pots on my patio and the greenhouse to grow my fruit and veg.

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Above, you can see my redcurrant bush and blueberry bush just before they start to flower. I can see quite a few buds on the redcurrant so hopefully I’ll get a bit of a bumper harvest. I also have strawberries growing in a large pot. In the greenhouse I have three tomato plants, plus a courgette in a pot and some lettuce in a seed tray:

Finally, I’ve got my hanging baskets and borders:

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Everything is newly planted and not in flower yet, I’ll update you all in a couple of months when things really get going.

As you can see, my garden is pretty small but with a few pots and a bit of imagination you really can produce quite a lot of flowers, fruit and veg. Next year I’m hoping to do new potatoes in a big patio pot.

If anyone is looking for advice or has any ideas about what kinds of fruit and veg grow well in small spaces, please comment below!

Career Worries

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I don’t currently have a career. I used to, but I hated it and now I have no idea what I want to do. I’ve got so far down a career path (masters degree) to be able to swap to another profession at the same level but too old to seriously think about retraining.

The main problem is  that I don’t feel that I’ve been very good at any of my previous jobs. I’ve never really felt like I’ve made a difference or helped anyone. I’ve mostly been shouted at or complained to. I have been frequently patronized (I’m sure you can work the photocopier better than me, can you just run me off 10 copies? Will you be serving the refreshments? Are you here as a placement student?) and have often made people cry. I have had jobs that have made me so stressed I couldn’t sleep. I have sat in my office at 10pm on a Friday night and asked myself what I’m doing with my life.

I’d love to be a writer but I genuinely don’t know how that happens. How do you decide what to write about? How do you make money from it? I’m from the West Midlands, where jobs are based in factories and involve manual labour. I guess the answer is to write something first then see what you can do with it? Maybe start with short stories?

As always, any help or comments would be much appreciated!

How I write

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This is the book that I write in. It has my to do lists. It has thoughts and ideas. It has a diary (of sorts). It makes me happy to look at. I doubt anyone could decipher its contents.

I like to write at night. Every essay, piece of coursework and dissertation I’ve ever created has been made after dark. I am not a morning person. I can generally only work under pressure. If I don’t have a deadline I try to complete a task before I need to do something else (like sleep).

Sometimes, I’ll be inspired during the day and I’ll make a note in my writing book but whatever I jot down only gets turned into actual english at night.

Sometimes my thoughts are so jumbled and intertwined with other ideas that I need to separate them out to get them to make sense. That’s when I use spider diagrams or action programming (basically a big to do list split into individual projects, with immediate actions prioritised). I’ve never found a computer program that can handle either method so for now I do it all longhand. Preferably with coloured pens.

I like to write in bed, propped up with pillows. It is quiet and calm and warm and safe. I’m there right now, and I’m t i r e d... so, goodnight world. Sweet dreams.

Confessions of a book whore

“So many books, so little time” – Frank Zappa.

I have a confession to make. I am a book whore. I will read anything and everything. This includes cereal packets, shampoo ingredients, terms and conditions and whatever the person sitting next to me is reading (sorry). The act of reading itself is an escape for me, a way to go off into another world. Reading is an adventure.

I began “reading”as a newborn baby whilst my mother read aloud to me from nursery rhyme books. I learnt to read for myself at a very young age (it is debatable whether I had just memorized the stories) and have been devouring books ever since. I remember going to the library as a child and being upset about their six book limit – I could read all of my new books in a couple of days, and then what would I do for the rest of the week? At junior school I read every single book in their library twice. I chose my senior school because their library was the biggest.

The books that I’ve read have always reflected whatever stage of life I’m currently at. Growing up I read a lot of typical YA fiction including Judy Bloom, Paula Danziger (I never liked the tense that she wrote in) and pretty much all of the babysitters club books by Ann M Martin. By the time I got to uni I discovered fantasy and science fiction via my slightly gay boyfriend James. He was my next door neighbour and I remember seeing him in the garden reading Roger Zelazney’s Chronicles of Amber and deciding at that moment to sleep with him. So I did. (I then proceeded to read everything he owned and callously dumped him when I had finished. I’m not proud). My 20’s were a period of discovery and despite hating to travel I felt I had discovered a little of the world through Bill Bryson’s books. As I reached my 30’s I began to read more mid 20th century classics (predominantly by female authors) possibly because their main characters reflect my current housewife status. One book which really resonated with me is Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. I thoroughly understood what it is like to live in someone else’s house with the ghost of a previous occupant (in my case, my boyfriend’s mother) haunting you as you make inadequate pastry and ineffectually clean the silverware (see previous posts about my current domestic situation).

In much the same way that the music that you liked growing up affected the friends that you made at school, the subsequent clubs and parties that you went to, the clothes you wore and the activities that you participated in, I’ve found that books can have the same effect. A few years ago my best friend met her new partner through a mutual friend. He was much younger, trendiest, with dreams of becoming an actor whilst working in a minimum wage job. He didn’t get our cultural references. He was totally different to my other, settled, 30 something friends. I had nothing in common with him. At a party, we began talking about films (he loves them, I’m fairly indifferent to most) which lead to a conversation about books and specifically, Neil Gaiman. Suddenly, all of his friends wanted to join in with their opinions. Amazingly, every single person there said I love Neil Gaiman but… ” and proceeded to tell me why they loved some of his work but hated other parts. This lead to one of the geekiest, most intellectual group conversations ever held at a drunken get together. Surprisingly, we couldn’t agree on one single opinion. I hated American Gods but loved Neverwhere. Someone said it was the same story. Someone else disagreed vociferously. Someone said that American Gods was much more expansive. I said it was Neil Gaiman doing a Stephen King impression. No one agreed with me. People got animated. People got even more drunk. Everyone joined in. It was one of the best moments of my life.

My partner does not read. He has an academic job and says that as he reads scientific papers all day he wants a break when he gets home. I don’t understand this at all. He’s clearly missing out. Can a relationship between a reader and a non reader work? Does reading define me that much? I guess only time will tell. I’ll keep you updated.