18.5.18

Crepes in Paris

Last September I was lucky enough to be taken to Paris for 24 hours by two friends.
We basically did a walking tour of the city and were really lucky with the weather so got to see a lot.
I didn't really have anything in particular I wanted to see, but one thing I had to do was to have a Crepe.
I have this thing when I go away that I set myself a mini bucket list and in Paris there was literally three things on my list.
1. Eat a Crepe
2. Eat Escargot
3. Speak French as often as possible (not so easy when they know you are English and speak English to you.

My friends went for a sweet crepe (banana and Nutella...I hate bananas but they did look nice) and I decided to go for Ham and Cheese.
The man working in the Kiosk was lovely, an older gentleman who it was easy to have an innocent flirt with.
I asked if it was ok for me to take photos as he made the Crepe, which he didn't mind and ended up encouraging me and waiting for me to take a photo until he moved onto the next step of the Crepe making. He also encouraged me to have double the cheese I should I have done...which although tasted amazing actually meant it was a greasy meal to eat and walk with.
I loved how when he finished the Crepe he held it up for me to take a photo of too. This guy was photo-perfection and definitely knew how to work his product.



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17.5.18

Unattainable [I can see her in the distance]

I can see her in the distance.
A sparkle in her eye, a smile that is natural. That beams from her face, uncontrollable.
Her shoulders light, relaxed, with little weight on them. 
A little sass and confidence in her step. 

I can see her in the distance.
But as I move closer she gets further away. 
​I try running and every now and then it feels like I am almost there. A little bit nearer to her.
But then, she becomes faint. A blur.

​I'm left in a darkness.
Not quite black. Not yet. Just dark.
Everything around me is faded and every now and then I see and feel a little bit of light, like rays of sunshine coming through.
But they don't quite reach me.

And everyone else. Everyone around me. Slowly breaking away.
Walking in different directions. Into the light. 
I can't keep up.
They get bigger.
And I am getting smaller. 

Smaller. Unnoticeable.
No more sparkle. No natural smile. 
Heavy shoulders. 
No sass. No confidence.

Broken. Dark. 
​Pointless.​
​A walk over. Unimportant.​
​Weak. 

Sometimes I see her in the distance.
The woman I used to be.
But at the moment...she seems unattainable. ​
The woman I want to be. 

Photo credit: Unsplash
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15.5.18

Fuerteventura In Photos | Yoga Centre

We were driving from Caleta De Fuste to the North of the island when I spotted this really beautiful building on the side of the roundabout. As I was driving I didn't have much time or opportunity to really look at the building but said to my boyfriend that I wanted to stop near it one day to take photos.
The following day the weather was just as beautiful and on the way to the same beach we were driving to the previous day, I again mentioned I wanted to take photos.
It felt a little awkward as I wasn't quite sure if the building was being used or if it was derelict and if the writing on the walls was just down to Graffiti, especially as it was so beautiful.
I pulled over the other side of the road and walked over...thinking that I was either lucky by not getting caught or worried that I was going to get chased and shot. The words "COTO PRIVADO RESPECT" were what made me feel particularly nervous, and also a little cheeky for then stepping on the land.
I drove round the roundabout and then down a small lane to the side of the building where I then saw a camper-van and a moped...a sign that maybe it wasn't derelict and then I fully expected to be told off.
The building was even better on this side and I fell in love with the image at the top of the building.

I think the risk was totally worth it.
I am really proud of these photos.

When I came back home I Googled to find out what this building was and searched the web address on the side of the building.

Taken from the website:

"We are a non-governmental organisation, enhancing the positive spirit of each other. Welcome to all kinds of religious and spiritual engagement, with maximal respect to everybody. 
We do Raja Yoga, that is a global form of exercise to de-stress the body by meditation to enhance internal peace and harmony, due to observing, who we are and what makes us happy.
The programme consists of various types of activities which all the family can participate in (childrens age from 4 Years)."

I was so fascinated with everything I read on the website that I feel like I might have to add a break to this Yoga Centre to my travel bucket list.
Doesn't it look stunning?


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13.5.18

Sundays #12


This weekend I moved house.
Rather than feelings of excitement, all i really feel is anger.
Renting is shit. Truly shit.
I work in a kitchen and bathroom showroom and I hear a lot about how "we won't put a decent kitchen in because it's only a rental"...because apparently tenants...those who pay the mortgage for the house you use for your future retirement or pension....or for your second home in Spain...aren't worthy of the same respect, treatment or life you would give yourself.
I'm moving out because in two years I have had no heating in my lounge and dining room. For the first 2 months I had a gas fire...until that was condemned and a 6 months later I found myself, along with my children, huddled around a small electric heater just so we could enjoy opening Christmas presents feeling warm.
I paid £625 a month, never missing a months rent, to only be able to use 50% of the house for half of the year due to being so cold.
For a bath with a crack in it that slowly let's water out.
A shower which leaks. And half of a shower screen which does nothing to hold the water from dripping all over the floor.
For a double oven. One of which has never worked and the other which has no dials so it is a guessing game over whether or not your food will be cooked properly or will come out black.
A shed roof with a hole in...getting bigger...a shed full of electric sockets.
A fence at the back of the shed which was pretty much horizontal...providing little security from the car park behind and leaving your garden open to intruders.
A year of cladding being kept down the side passage...blocking the way for wheelie bins to be brought into the garden...causing bikes and various items being brought through the house, manoeuvring through the slightly poor designed kitchen. Cladding that was supposed to go up at the back of the house to make it look a bit better, to hide the peeling plaster.
Initially I wasn't moving because I wanted to. But more because I felt like I had to.
Because I actually deserve better. My children deserve better.
I shouldn't have to beg and chase for simple things you expect from a house, from a landlord or a letting agency.
Sitting on the floor of what was once Harry's room, trousers ruined from the bleach I am using to make an effort when it's the last thing I want to do, I am clinging on to my peace and trying to not lose my shit and cry at having to work hard sorting this house out, at having to leave the house in a reasonable state so I can try and get some of my deposit back.
Despite living the way I have for 2 years.
Despite begging for certain things to be done.
For moving with a washing machine with rust marks down it from where the boiler has been leaking for 2 years.
For asking for little jobs to be done and nothing being done.
For living in a house with no smoke alarms....Despite it being the law to provide them in a rented property.
Despite the landlady not spending a penny on things that needed to be sorted whilst I have been a tenant.
Two years of a letting agency saying they will get things sorted and placing blame on the landlady.
Two years of a landlady saying she will get things sorted and placing blame on the letting agency.
Tenants have rights. But you have to fight so hard for just the basics. And even harder for the rest.
Two years of no consideration because as a tenant...you don't matter.
Your money does.
But you don't.




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10.5.18

Things I Learnt From Being On a Nudist Beach

When we went on holiday we wanted to find a quiet beach to relax on. We went to one but felt it was too busy and ended up heading back a little bit to a quieter part...which also happened to be a nudist beach.

Although we had no intentions of actually going nude we still settled ourselves down in one of the pods that are self built there and protect your modesty and we really liked it to keep ourselves hidden away.
I chose to wear a bikini, for the first time in 17 years. I thought back to the last time I wore one and how self conscious I was despite not yet having children and having a good figure.
Yet now....here I am...at my heaviest, messy body due to children and bread, but actually feeling confident enough to embrace who I am and the skin I am in. Not influenced by anyone else apart from the pretty Matalan bikini that I couldn't resist.

So anyway, these pods were great for just feeling a little more body confident because although I wasn't hiding away, I still felt a little bit of privacy not being so out in the open unless I chose to stand up or walk down to the sea.

With most experiences I have in life I do like to look back and to at least learn something about it and to be honest, this was a beach...I didn't expect to learn anything from a visit to the beach.

However...going to a nudist beach I thought I would feel uncomfortable and not know where to look.
I'm not going to lie but when you see a naked man or a naked woman walk past you can't help but to look, you just can't.
And it's down to this that I learnt things from being on a nudist beach.

There is nothing sexual about it.

A nudist beach isn't full of horny old men looking to perv over slim naked young women. You won't find a beach full of people having a mass orgy let alone see any couple having sex openly on the beach.
It's not like a pick up point or dogging spot where you can see the goods before you have a go.

Age, size, shape doesn't matter. Confidence does.

You don't have to be a certain age, size, or shape to go to a nudist beach. The main thing is having confidence. Feeling good in your own skin is all that matters. No one goes there to show off, or if they do no one is paying any attention. You don't have to make sure you are trimmed a certain way or feel like you can't go if you have a hairy back. You don't have to be perfectly symetrical, if you have one breast that is slightly bigger than the other it is ok. You don't have to have super soft, flawless skin, if you have stretch marks whether they are faded and silver or red and purple stripes, you are still welcome.

No one is there to judge you or see you. No one there will be offended by you.

The same as above really. Because there are people of all different shapes and sizes and ages no one is going to judge you. No one is there specifically to see you. They are there to spend a day at the beach. To be free themselves and not to spy and spectate on your day.
No one is going to say "You there, put some clothes on. I am offended".

It's just a naked body

After you see the initial one or two naked bodies you tend to then switch off and just forget about it. /i actually felt after a few hours the day before of being in that environment that I would have felt comfortable enough to go topless. I actually didn't brave it, I was about to however after a paddle in the sea and getting told to get out by the lifeguard because the sea was too rough I sort of lost my confidence. However, I would feel comfortable in that environment to go topless. Not bottomless but topless, because boobs are boobs. Boobs do some in all sorts of shapes and sizes and that's what I realised.

We all have skin

We might all dress differently and have different styles and tastes when it comes to dress but take all that away, we are all the same. 
We are all bones with blood, organs, built with atoms and cells and covered in skin. 
We all have blemishes and marks and lumps and bumps and a uniqueness of us. 
What's so wrong with letting that out and being free with that?



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8.5.18

Three things I've done Good as a mum

I find it hard to actually say "I'm a good mum". I don't know if this is something other people feel or if it's just me but the fact I know I could do better in so many ways almost makes me feel like a fraud to admit I am a good mum.

I remember a few years ago at a therapy session writing a list of what it is to be a bad mum and what it is to be a good mum and after going through it I found myself more towards good than bad. In fact I wasn't really near the bad section whatsoever.

I was having a conversation with my mum when I said the words "I did really well with that. And with that. And also with that" and when our phonecall ended I sat and thought about the three events I had mentioned to her and how actually, these events are a pretty big deal to anyone but I managed to make them less of an issue or of a massive, scary, life changing event and was able to put a positive spin on it all.
And if I say so myself...I did brilliantly. 

I guess I realised that some things I'm not good at and I am lacking at when it comes to being a mum. But I have confidence that those bigger things, the bigger events, the times that take you by surprise and you have to think on the spot...those are the times I do well and I earn my "Best Mum" badge.

Divorce

When the boys father and I split up I was pleased that we hadn't got to a stage where we were constantly fighting or arguing, especially in front of the boys. It would surprise me if the boys hadn't picked up on something between us but I think them being so young definitely helped.
I was adamant that I wanted them to know the truth and to not be protected by secrets. 
I remember casually telling them in the car that mummy and daddy wouldn't be together anymore and wouldn't be married anymore because we didn't love each other anymore but would stay friends. 
I explained that they would have two houses, two bedrooms, and the thing they were most concerned about was not having NickJnr at both houses.
I was really proud of how they took it, and I was proud of myself for being able to deliver the news in a way that felt comfortable and easy.
I think with children things only seem a bit deal if you make it out to be a big deal. The bigger an issue you make it, the bigger the issue it is. And yes, divorce and a family separating is a big deal, but it doesn't have to be to children. They don't need to be aware of the hard times, the difficulties and the panicked moments of "what the hell am I going to do now?", of any fall outs or debates going on. 
However, I also let the boys see me when I was crying, I let them see when I was sad, or a little bit angry. Without ever placing blame on anyone or trying to turn them against a parent, I have always felt it important for my children to see me as a person and although they see me as strong and brave and powerful, I want them to see that other side and to know how to react or sympathise with someone who is sad. 
As a result I can confidently say I have raised two children who, although at times get me to the point I am crying, will drop everything to run and get me a tissue, a glass of water, and a ridiculous amount of cuddles to try and help. 
The boys idea of divorce isn't bad. They never got sad or cried because mummy and daddy weren't together anymore, instead seeing and realising that mummy and daddy are happier with their different lives.

Grief

My (ex) mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and was given an expectancy time frame. Telling the boys was really important to us and although I respect my ex I felt that, due to my faith and the things me and the boys have talked about, I was the best one to discuss this with them.
I remember being sat on Charles' bed and tearing up as I told them we talked about my great-nanny and about how she is one of our Angels and is with us. Thankfully the boys have the same faith and belief as me...which I know is maybe a silly thing to say when they are so young but I have always been open with them that they can believe in whatever they want to. They have both had proof of our spiritual belief and therefore their own reasons to believe in the same as me. 
Anyway, digressing, although this moment was sad we were able to bring a positive to what could have been a scary thing for them. 
We discussed how there would be moments Grandma would be poorly and she might not be able to see them and do things with them, and they really understood that. They do have the sweetest, kindest hearts.
The day she passed was really hard. That morning we had discussed going to see her after visiting my boyfriend as we would go past the town she lives in on our way home. Harry had drawn a picture of her as a Superhero. 
We almost popped in to see them on the way to my boyfriends, rather than on the way back but something told me not to. Around two hours later I had a Whatsapp from my ex telling me Nancy had passed.
I was stood in a garden centre. I looked at my phone, I gasped and I looked at my boyfriend, he knew by my eyes what had happened and somehow kept me strong. 
We were going out for dinner and whilst he did some checks at work I sat with the boys in my car and gently said to them that I had some news. Charles knew straight away, but I said the same as when I told them about cancer. That we now had another Angel. Through their quiet, gentle tears, I told them that any time they want to talk to Grandma they could because she would be there listening. Anytime they want to talk about her they could. And that she would never miss a thing. 
I comforted them. They comforted me. 
I was so proud of how they expressed their worry and love for their granddad. 
I was proud of the three of us and how each of us had handled and coped with the initial telling them she was poorly to telling them she had passed. 
We still talk to her. We still talk about her. We all miss her incredibly but I am so proud of how calm their emotions are and how understanding they are. 
I avoided certain words as I think they create a scary, dark image and even now I can't bring myself to type those words as I don't like to associate them with her. I think that's really important, to make sure you choose your words and wording carefully, to really think about how you are going to deliver such news because not only does it make it easier for them, it makes it easier for you too.
 

Moving House

Moving house wasn't something I had really been planning but after two years of emails complaining of no heating in my lounge and dining room, the crack in the bath, the broken fence at the bottom of the garden meaning anyone could come in, the big hole in the shed roof, and then a chance opportunity of moving to a house with heating, a nice kitchen, fixed fences and a landlord that might actually care I had to take it. 
I looked at the house before telling the boys I was even considering it and as I told Harry his eyes filled with tears and he started to cry. Silly excuses for being sad came out which I completely understood. "But we only have two cat boxes and have three cats!" being my favourite.
The thing was, I knew he was scared. He has felt safe here for two years, he feels comfort here, he doesn't understand the fights and stress and emails I send asking, politely, for simple jobs to be fixed. 
I soon did as I did when we moved out of the main family home they lived in before their father and I divorced. I pointed out the downsides to the house. I told them of all the issues we've had. I took them to the new house and pointed out things that were better. "We'll have proper heating" being one of them. And soon enough Harry's tears were gone and instead he was super excited that he would be able to walk to Asda....seriously, children can be very strange! 
With the house move soon on top of us and the boys in single figures of the nights left in this house, I am so glad that when I ask how they are feeling both reply with "a little bit sad but mostly excited. We can't wait to move" and I know that, again, I did something right. 

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7.5.18

Sundays #11


I'm pretty sure everyone was aware of how lush the weather was this weekend. We'd decided we would have a bbq...I'm sure a lot of people did too, so the night before we went to Morrison's for a late night shop. 

Sunday morning I got some bits together in my car and got the boys packed into the back and we headed to the local recycling centre. It was just after 9 so thankfully wasn't too busy and helped me feel like I had achieved something at least. 
We got back and I started to prep food for the bbq, thinking my boyfriend had got the prawns the night before I noticed we didn't have any so me and Harry went out to the supermarket and whilst we were out, went to a local car wash as parking under a tree had resulted in a mess down the side of my car (thanks birds!). 

We got home and after my boyfriend got up we made another trip to the tip and popped down the beach briefly...via McDonald's for some McFlurrys.
When we got to the beach the boys took their shoes and socks off and had a little paddle. I always love seeing children embrace the cold sea and to have a paddle and a splash about. 
They loved it even though we didn't stay long. 

We went home and started the bbq. Charles helped me to carry a heavy cabinet from upstairs, I was surprised at how strong he is for a skinny 8 year old! 
The bbq was a success again (thanks to my boyfriend) and the rest of the evening was a relax. It's amazing how the sun can tire you out even if you don't do much. I kept falling asleep on the sofa and eventually managed to stay awake to watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire...which I think Jeremy Clarkson is great for.
So overall nothing terribly exciting but a few things achieved and a little closer to being ready for the house move this weekend. Let's hope the weather stays nice for then too.

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5.5.18

#HTMFMOVEMENT MAY

I've followed Gemma for a couple of months now and find her really inspiring. Last month one post in particular really inspired me to get involved and after such a positive response Gemma has now made this a monthly Movement and has opened it up to all sorts of platforms.
I really liked the idea of making the pledge on my blog and documenting it, as I do with my Yearly Promises.

About the #HTMFmovement:

What is it?
The movement is an idea thought up by Gemma, How To Make Friends.
"I am encouraging you to make way for all your ideas and dreams...with a spring clean. You are going to detox your mind of things that don’t serve you for instant happiness and freedom. This can be anything from toxic memories, people or habits."
What do I need to do?
Simply pick 3 things that have been causing you unhappiness, stress or negative vibes and banish them from your life. Things like; comparing yourself to others, unsupportive friends or clutter. Get rid of it all!

Check out Gemma's post to see how you can get involved.


htmfmovement.jpg


Summary on last months pledges

Feeling guilty
Expectations of others
Holding on

I think I have done really well with these pledges without really trying.
I haven’t had any feelings of guilt, other than for my children and being on holiday without them, but in terms of “I feel guilty for letting people down, for saying no, for putting myself first” I can’t think of any point I have felt guilty for that at all.
My expectations of others, as well I have done well with without even trying. I feel like I’ve managed to take a step back and to focus more on myself and what I am doing than to worry about what other people are doing. There are a couple of times when I’ve sat and thought “well, I expected more from them” and “I would have done that/did do that for them” but I didn’t let it get to me as much as I would have done before.
I managed to switch those thoughts out of my mind and to focus on something else.
And holding on...gosh it’s hard letting go of things you hoard and want to keep hold of. So far I have got rid of mugs, glasses, clothes, shoes, candles, the boys toys, cds and so on. I’m being really strict with myself and although it's hard I know that when I move I’ll not miss those things and will be grateful for the lack of things to move and clutter the house.

This month I am giving up…

Being afraid
I have some ideas and things I want to do, particularly with my blog, but I keep feeling too afraid to actually step forward and to make the appropriate steps and contact certain people to see if I can make it happen.
I have the fear that its a rubbish idea or I’ll be laughed at but I want to stop being afraid and to just go for it.
I want to put myself in at least 3 situations which take me out of my comfort zone this month.

Pinning Without Purpose
I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and I've been pinning healthy recipes, articles on living a minimalist lifestyle, on meditation, decluttering, and so on. I then do nothing about it. I pin things without checking the link is to somewhere that is actually appropriate or relating to that pin, and I never then read about the articles. Almost like my intentions are enough.
But they aren't.
So I will no longer just pin and run and instead 'pin with purpose' and actually look at what I am pinning and learn from it and use it.

 As I couldn't think of a third thing to give up I have decided to do one thing I am going to start...

Making plans
I want to be the best mum I can be this year...not perfect but I want to make the most of my time with the boys so I want to make plans of things for us to do throughout the year but make them realistic and actually put solid plans in place.
So no more "Our Summer To Do list" that actually won't get done and is more of a wish list.
Particularly their birthdays too. I want them to have a birthday they really enjoy and maybe a little something they can celebrate with their friends. I want to do a day out for them the weekend before their birthdays and actually make sure we celebrate it properly and have a plan B, plan C and plan D if the other plans go wrong for whatever reason!


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