Today the UK leaves the European Union. I thought I would feel angry but instead it’s a deep, deep sadness. I have grown up as a European citizen and appreciated being part of Europe. It felt that the EU was a community of nations who had learnt lessons of the previous century and created a new period of cooperation and collaboration. As with all large organisations it needed ‘fine tuning’ but it was a genuine force for good.
I embraced Europe, I loved languages at school and went on to study French and European politics at uni. I spent an amazing year living and working in France. As a young person I was a beneficiary of many grant and projects funded by the EU.
So many people have benefited from projects funded by the EU. As a teacher we were able to take some pupils from a very deprived area in Cardiff to Crete for a EU project. These children who had never left their town had the world opened up to them and as a consequence had new opportunities to pursue. There have been so many rejuvenation projects in communities, art projects financed by the EU of which we have all benefited, knowingly or unknowingly.
I fear for the UK being out of Europe, a policy of splendid isolation is never effective. We are not the grand nation some think we are and others will be in no rush to work collaboratively with us. I hate the right wing politics that is pervading our society on the back of Brexit, we are becoming intolerant and divisive. One of my proudest British moments was the 2012 Olympics which seemed to showcase the inclusive society we were. I was proud to hang my Union Jack flag outside the house and dress us all in Union Jack tshirts. I would never do that now, sadly the flag has become a symbol of the right wing of our society.
I hope this is a brief sejour from the EU, the younger generation are strongly in favour of the European Union and I feel that when the reality of Brexit affects ordinary people opinions will change further. Europe, thank you for your dignity and friendship in Brexit, please leave a light on for us.
Whoop, whoop one month in to 2020 and one item ticked off. It was nearly two after I ran a really good parkrun just 3 seconds away from my PB, another goal for this year.
This was a good goal to start the year with, a no spend month. I didn’t find it as challenging as I though I would, although January is not known as a particularly expensive month. It might be more difficult in a different month. The month did show how I respond to ads on social media and email campaigns. A few clicks and you find yourself liking something that you didn’t know you needed! I also am lured in by special offers and discounts.
For clothes shopping I do try to shop mindfully and normally browse online to create a new seasonal look before purchasing. This means that I tend to buy more in one go so a no clothes month is not unusual for me. I probably only buy clothes a few times a year and top up the basics as needed. I bought no basics or clothes this month.
The biggest challenge was items for the home. The shops had lots of ideas for organising and sorting, just my sort of thing. I’m also very fond of home furnishings and with the house looking a little bare after Christmas it was so tempting to buy a few new cushions and nicnacs. However I resisted and at the end of the month I am not rushing back to a shop because I loved an item I couldn’t buy. Another challenge was to be very careful not to buy stationery, another of my guilty spending pleasures.
I liked that the month started in a more mindful way, whilst there was a financial boost, the biggest attraction was a simpler lifestyle.
This post is back to a weekly entry. Its been one of those ordinary January weeks of work, school, clubs and friends. I appreciate these weeks as sometimes you need to pause and just be. I think this may be a short post but that’s the way some weeks roll.
I read …
This book, Running for my Life by Rachel Cullen was on my Kindle daily offer a few weeks ago and the runner in me couldn’t resist the title. This is such a great book and it really isn’t about running. Its about understanding who we are, our self identity. I would readily recommend it to runner and non runner alike as there is something for everyone to take from the book.
I listened …
Again don’t be put off by the podcast title, this is an inspiring and emotional podcast about a father and son doing the ultra marathon Comrades in South Africa. Again, its not about running its about something so much bigger. Its the story of the father’s exile from South Africa for his anti apartheid campaigning and the history of Comrades, the race he watched as a child. Its an incredibly emotional half hour broadcast as father and son run Comrades, have your tissues ready.
I watched …
Apart from my favourites detailed last week, I’ve not really watched much television this week. Its back to my studies, podcasts and reading in the evenings.
Although a tedious link, I have watched nature this week. There have been some spooky sea mists this week, whilst one day the sea was so still and the most beautiful shade of blue you couldn’t help but just stop and stare.
I made …
There are no special recipes this week. I’ve been enjoying some winter salads for lunches at work, with more pulses and grains as ingredients and made my favourite celeriac soup last weekend. This week’s dinners have been a menu of warming, comforting foods.
I wore …
There are no new or different outfits this week but Little Miss and I have spent time putting together her costume for her school’s upcoming show, set in the 1980s. I did a trail around the charity shops for a few items and ordered a few bits online too. Little Miss is very busy with rehearsals and we’re all looking forward to seeing the show next month.
My favourite weather is sunshine and bright blue skies. I prefer the heat of the summer sun but a walk when wrapped up well on a crisp, cold day warms the soul too. Until I lived at the seaside I never realised that the sea changes colour daily and the most magical time is an early morning run along the beach.
I’m still not sure how to structure or name this post but unless I write some content soon, it will be hopelessly out of date. This post is simply a round up of things I’ve been doing recently. I would like it to be weekly but there are times when life will get in the way! This happened for the first fortnight of January when I spent all my time finishing off my uni assignments and finalising all the evidence for mediation with the local authority over our son’s SEN placement. I’m now anxiously waiting for results for both.
However here’s what I have been doing in my free time so far this January.
I read …
One of my #20for2020 is to read 15 minutes a day for pleasure. I am reading so many academic journals and books that I need light relief! So far I’ve read two books Fat Girl Slim by Marina Johnson and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. Fat Girl Slim was a real guilty pleasure, definitely not what I expected and it does have a wicked twist. I really wanted to rave about How to be a Woman as I love Caitlin Moran’s columns in the Times. However I found it too similar to her last book I read How to be Famous.
I listened …
I’m not a tv girl but have always loved the radio. I find myself listening to podcasts rather than music now on walks and runs or pottering around the house alone. These four are my current favourites, covering parkrun (With me Now) and lifestyle. My #20for2020 is based on an idea from Happier.
I watched …
Despite saying I don’t watch much television, probably only a few programmes a week, two of my favourites have returned this week, Call the Midwife and Cold Feet. I love the social history of Call the Midwife and now it’s set in the 60s the interior decor and fashion are just fabulous. Cold Feet has been a favourite since if began in the 90s and it still makes me laugh and cry.
I wore …
My work wear is practical and my free time clothes casual and comfy so I don’t often get the opportunity to dress up. However when I do my uni course it’s set in such an stunning location I feel the desire to look good and studious! Today I wore my new starry dress from the Fat Face sale with my boots, thick tights and chunky necklace. It’s been such a dreary month that when there was a break in the rain at lunchtime I walked around some of the grounds, beautiful walled gardens to the lake.
I made …
And finally this fortnight has all been about making plans for the year. Whilst January is not my favourite month I like to use it as a month to plan and prepare. I’ve lots of plans in draft and a few definite dates in my diary. Roll on 2020, it’s going to be a fantastic year.
I’ve done this over the past two years too and it’s added sparkle to my life. Some projects are long term, others one off activities but all are designed to bring fulfilment and inspiration. This is not a list of 20 resolutions but things I would like to achieve this year.
Read for pleasure, 15 minutes a day. With my studies, I read a huge amount but am no longer using reading for distraction and relaxation. I want to devote 15 minutes a day to lose myself in a story.
Resize my wedding and engagement rings.A few years ago I had a hand injury and my rings no longer fit as they should. This is the year I resize them and enjoy wearing them again.
Complete my University course.Yesterday, January 14th was the midpoint of my course and my assignments were submitted, fingers crossed for the marks. My course is intense, demanding and one of the most professionally inspiring and interesting things I’ve done in my teaching career. By the end of 2020, I hope to have a few more initials after my name.
Run a 10k race. Last year was about 5k running but I managed a few 10k training runs. In 2020 I would like to do a 10k race just because I can run the distance, with no pressure on time or performance.
Run a parkrun PB.I would like to do this at my home parkrun as its a challenging course. I feel a PB on a flat, fast course would be a bit of a cheat. A PB is pretty difficult given the mud we’re running through at present but come better weather, I’m hopeful I’ll smash it.
Have a no spend month.I have started January as my no spend month. I thought this would be quite easy as I tend to buy my clothes on the occasional trip to ‘big’ town, so clothes shopping isn’t always a monthly occurrence. However I’m realising how many incidentals I buy and its more of a challenge than expected.
Enjoy live music.Last year Little Miss and I went to our first music festival and loved it. I feel its an experience which needs to be repeated this year.
Plan a special 10 year famiversary.Later this year we will celebrate our 10 year famiversary, the day we became a family when the children came to live with us. I want to do something really special and celebratory. I have a few ideas so its time for research and planning.
Have a rainbow of nail colours.In 2019 I discovered the joy of monthly gel nails. This year I want to have a rainbow of different colours.
Visit the fashion museum.This was on my list last year, on my first planned visit I was bed ridden with a migraine and then when I planned to go again it was closed for refurbishment. As soon as it reopens I will be there!
Wear colourful running kit and smile.My parkrun tends to have a photographer and publishes the photos online. Each week, I’m there dressed in a combination of dark grey, black or navy and desperately trying not to look at the camera. This year I need to wear a bright colour and actually smile at the camera, looking like I feel inside, happy and strong.
Special bakes for Valentines, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.I’ve called this bakes as I want to try new ideas for these celebrations, it may be biscuits, cakes or pies but a seasonal delight.
Review every film watched.I review all the books I read on Good Reads, so will try to do the same with all the films I watch.
Get the correct school place for Little Man. Whilst this is slightly out of control as we are dependent on the local authority to make the decision, we are doing all we can to get the correct place in a special school. This has been so tough so far, formal complaints, mediation and tribunal, but we will do everything we can to support our son.
Complete a photo a week challenge.I’m always taking photos on my phone so I decided to make it a little project for 2020.
Finish the 50 parkruns milestone.I don’t want to get too obsessive about parkrun as there will be some weekends when its simply not possible to do a run, but I would like to achieve the 50 milestone this year. I think that’s roughly 30 more parkruns to do this year, which I’m hoping is realistic.
Take Little Man to London.Last year, I took Little Miss to the music festival so I want to do a similar special trip for Little Man. He loves London from his books and films so I think this would be a great trip to do together.
Plan each season’s style.I’m trying to be more mindful on clothes shopping, so my aim is to browse my favourite shops and to decide a look I wish to capture and shop around this look. I’m hoping this will mean I buy what I need and like rather than random purchases.
Take a flower arranging class.This leads on from last year’s #19for19 where I tried to have lots of fresh flowers in the house. I want to learn how to do simple arrangements now.
No sweets or chocolate.I love chocolate and sweets but am mindlessly eating them. I aim to stop eating both for a year (I’ve done it before about 20 years ago!)
I am looking forward to my project again. In previous years its brought unexpected delight and pleasure and made me tick off things I’ve always wanted to do. Roll on #20for 2020.
This is a local beauty spot I like to visit. It is a lake in a clay bowl which leads to the water being a blue green colour. It’s a different colour each time you visit. The reflection of the surrounding woodland adds to the colour of the pool and it is quite mesmerising as you walk around.
I always try to see the simple pleasures in life and despite the grim weather and dark days, January is a month of fresh starts and new opportunities.
I’m a little late in writing this post as I knew January was going to have a demanding start. In the first ten days we had a number of important family appointments and the deadline for the Module 1 assignments of my uni course. I got through it as best as I can, by compartmentalising my life and focusing on the now. Whilst it was challenging, I feel relieved that I met my coursework deadline and that we presented the best case in the mediation process with our local education authority for a special school placement.
After a tough start, I can now focus on the coming year which I hope will be full of contentment. There are plans to make, for example to finalise my #20for2020. I’m looking forward to starting module 2 of my Uni course, which focuses on my real areas of interest and then most importantly to enjoy time with my family and friends. I’m not expecting a year full of big events but one of simple pleasures.