Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015: an in between sort of year

2015 is coming to an end, so let's embrace all the cliches and reflect, because if not now then when?

Ideally I'd like a few days to be still, and quiet, and ponder, and prepare for the New Year. But the reality is Christmas with family full of sherry and stilton and cosy sofa times, a weekend ahead in Brighton catching up with friends (and probably more alcohol and cheese!) and in between, back to work. Fun times, for sure, but not really that reflective. And I'll be honest as much as I know I need to stop and pray, most times I'd rather just read a book and escape. So I'm trying to snatch moments - thank you notes composed on the train, pleas for a sign whispered to the stars as I cycle home from the station, pausing from the pages of an autobiography that awakens something in me.

That's kind of how life is right now - a hurried mix of gratefulness, discomfort and longing. Perhaps life's always like that, but this whole year has felt like an in-between one: endings, transitions, beginnings and all the awkwardness (and joy) that accompany them. Maybe more than ever before, no where's really felt like home this year. From the beginning of 2015 we knew we were heading 'Upcountry' and so began to loosen our Penzance roots a little. Relationships shifted, some deepening as we made the most of the last few months, others changing in ways I wish they hadn't. We took a lot of sacks to charity shops. We lightened our load, ready for the next adventure, we were excited about being closer to the rest of the world, about University for Mr Q, about London.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The contradictions of being 29

I've been 29 for a couple of months. Since my birthday, in fact.

It's coincided with moving to London/just-outside-London/Hatfield (depending on how familiar I think you are with small Hertfordshire towns, or how lenient I think you'll be on defining what just-outside-London means). So perhaps some of the below list is also influenced by being in a new setting. Either way, I feel like 29 is kind of a weird age, with quite a lot of contradictions going on. To be fair a lot of them are based on me supposedly not looking like a 29-year-old supposedly looks. Whatever that means. Which is kind of my point:

WHAT DOES 29 LOOK LIKE?

Here's my experience of it so far, perhaps you can relate...

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Breathe out peace

Some of my reflections on all that's going on in the world. I know there's no easy answers, and there's opinions on all sides as to how we respond. I don't know the ins and outs, I don't know the best way forward. But this is some of what my heart says, about how we could be living every day, because you don't know what tomorrow will bring, and the smallest gesture could change eveything.

Today reminds me

To breathe out peace

Before the trouble comes
Before the night arrives
Before the sirens and the hashtags
Breathe out peace

In all the comings and goings
In all the conversations and pauses in between
Bring it with you, wear it on your sleeve
Pass it on, pass it on

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Catching up on creativity, health and community


About a month ago I wrote a post about intentions for this new season.

The past month hasn't quite gone as expected (maybe I'll write about that next time), and while for the most part I'm clinging to the words I wrote before stuff kicked off, I thought it would be good to remind myself of those aims. As I'm pretty good at starting and not finishing, about talking and not doing. And the changes that have occurred don't change the value of creativity, health and community.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Not overwhelmed


Spent the weekend with friends who are actually family, my crazy creative family that loves to dance and drum (and eat cake) and fill the space with colour and laughter and give all that they are the the One that inspires and outspires - breathes out life and love too deep for words. But here are some words, a humble offering, because being in that place I can't help but watch and listen and move and when I take a break from the dancing, pick up a pen and write...

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Intentions for a new season


It's the start of a new season.

The end of the first full week in our new home.

The first week I slept in the same bed every night for a long time (well actually except last night).

The first week of Llewellyn attending University and me commuting to and from London every day by bicycle and train.

The first week of ‘settling’ after a pretty full last few weeks: fourth wedding anniversary, partying in Brighton, moving house, 29th birthday, family visits (first people staying in our new home), Llewellyn’s first ever theme park and Ikea trips, watching rugby in first Hatfield-pub visit, checking out a new church, sampling the delights of Hatfield's many Chinese/kebab joints.

It’s been over two months since we left Cornwall. It seems like a world away. It kind of is.

It’s definitely a new season. And to mark it, there’s a few things I want to prioritise:

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Happy Four

Happy four years to us, to me and my South African-with-the-Welsh-name-and-a-British-passport.


Since last year, you've studied for the first time and done rather brilliantly. I've stuck with the same one job for once and am still learning every day. We left Cornwall after a hard-good-hard two and a bit years and enter our fifth year not quite having a home (but nearly, hopefully!). But we also have lots of homes, like in that special South East corner, and lots of beds to sleep in, and hearts cheering us on. We've done our first proper little bit of travelling together and now we're hungry for more.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Trains of thought



I like trains. Not in a trainspotter type way. Just like travelling on them, like the views they give and that you can get up and walk about if you need to.

Trains were the main way in which we travelled from Budapest, Belgrade, back to Budapest, then on to Prague and Dresden this summer.

I've been thinking a lot about trains since then. The thoughts are not ordered like carriages, but scattered like the clouds that skittered across the hot blue. But I had to start, had to plant the thoughts to see if they'll grow.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Hard and good (here's to you, Cornwall friends)

There's a lot to say - about our amazing three week travels from Belgrade to Berlin, about time with the family in West Wittering, about coming back to the UK straight into work in London and being 'between homes' and looking for somewhere to live and not being sure how everything's all going to work out. About a magical wedding and David's Tent and being reminded of what's really important.

But before all that, I want to write about Cornwall - the place we left one month ago. Before I get caught up in the new adventures I want to take a moment to recognise the ending of this one. To say I'm thankful, to say while I think it was time for us to move on and that our time there wasn't all plain-sailing, that there's so much we received and learned from the people and places at the end of the land.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Spoilt rotten (5 places to go/eat in South West Cornwall)

Like I said, ups and downs.  Here's an UP - or several! In the last few days we've been at the receiving end of incredibly generous friends, who have taken us out and treated us at some wonderful spots, and filled our bellies to bursting and given up their time to spend with us. So so thankful.

Here's a wee roundup:

1. The Rockpool Cafe, Mousehole

Went here for my friend Petrina's birthday with some other ladies from church. The cafe doesn't look that special on the outside, but it really is worth a trip and I wish I'd gone before. I took the bike out again as it's quite an easy ride along the coast. The cafe sits literally on the rocks, on the southern tip of Mounts Bay, with seats outside overlooking the sea, and cute, light, wood-y decoration inside. There were some tasty sounding cocktails on the menu, pretty teapots, amazing cakes and tempting meals. I went for coffee and a big slab of cherry and almond cake. Next time I'd have the orange and rosemary shortbread. We enjoyed the breeze coming in through the window, and celebrated Petrina, and sang Happy Birthday very loudly. Ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Bicycles and Friday nights alone

Two weeks today until we leave Penzance and, as often is the case, it's a Friday night alone for me. I could be quite sad about that - in my mind Friday evenings (and Sunday lunchtimes) are meant for spending time with people - and with such little time left staying in with a glass of wine and 4od on isn't exactly my idea of making the most of it. But that is just the way it is sometimes, right? OK maybe you're one of those people who always has something on, but I, despite fair attempts at the contrary, often end up company-less at times I'd really rather not be. This isn't meant to be a feel-sorry-for-me-post, just being honest and showing how life down here (as with life everywhere) is full of highs and lows.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Sparks (happy times at the Penzance literary festival)

The weekend just gone was one of those times when I'm super thankful to live in Penzance, when I think actually I will miss this place rather a lot. The Penzance Literary Festival ran from last Wednesday until Saturday and I was fortunate enough to perform poetry at three events: Telltales, the show I hosted: Poetry Tapas, and at the kids version of the festival. They all had a different feel but attentive audiences and great atmosphere and I really enjoyed all of them.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Dancing in the rain, almost

We had our last 'Creative/Movement in Worship' evening on Saturday - well last one before I go, anyways. As usual, it was a time of freedom, of dancing, of laying down all my doubts and questions for a while and letting go, being thankful, playing, remembering God's love and bigness and the things that are most important to me. All in the company of some wild, creative, beautiful ladies. I can't always believe it's the same me who sits behind a desk all day, who isn't at all as sure about her faith as she used to be, who seems to soak in the cynicism around her like a sponge. But it is. That's why these times are important. That's why I dance.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Getting hot and covered in mud (Happy Birthday Eleanor!)

Today is my youngest sister’s birthday. She’s in Germany somewhere on a army-type camp (never sure how to explain it), probably spending the night in a field, firing carrots at the enemy. Because that’s how she rolls. Just graduated, just 22 and already Eleanor’s embarked on a long list of adventures and travels to make you (read: me) jealous with plenty more in the pipeline. She’s pretty amazing.

Eleanor and me celebrating her birthday last year

Monday, 29 June 2015

Here's to you, Andy Au

Life has been mental the last few weeks, but full of lots of good things that have made me feel full to bursting. One such good thing was a flying visit to Sussex to surprise our great friend and pastor of our church in Brighton at his 60th birthday party. Over the past few years Andy Au welcomed us into his home literally countless times, fed, 'watered', gave, encouraged, counselled, laughed with, and even married us. People in churches all around the world know Andy for his dancing, I'm just very glad to say he's my friend.


I wrote this poem for him, and read it out at the party. I think it sums him up quite well. And it was a lot of fun writing :-)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pendeen, Kynance, Helford and dolphins!

The weekend before last we were blessed by two friends who took us out on different days to explore different parts of this beautiful land.


On the Saturday we drove to Pendeen, on the North cost, and walked down to the lighthouse then round to Portheras Cove. Since you can't drive to this beach, it remains quite secluded. There's been shipwrecks found off the wild coastline, and signs warn you not to walk in bare feet because of scraps of metal lying buried in the sand.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Two months to go: ticking things off the list

We leave in Cornwall in just about two months. I can't quite believe it, just the other day it was three. We've started sorting through our flat, trying to reduce our 'stuff' to make moving as stress free as possible. We've started thinking more about our travels in August and about what on earth life might look like come September.  And we're trying to make our weekends fun and full of making the most of people and places that we'll soon be leaving.

Between February and May 7th, my life mainly consisted of rolling from my bed to my desk, working frantically for 9 or 10 hours, possibly going swimming to train for the 5km Swimathon I'd madly signed up to, and then going to bed again with hubby and an episode of House or Nashville.

But in and amongst all that I did manage to tick a few things off my 'before I leave Cornwall list' (that may not actually exist anywhere on paper but is in my head!). Now, as life returns to a slightly more normal pace, and I recover from election madness, hopefully I'll tick off several more.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Those days and those other days



Some days the sun shines and it's warm on your skin and the easy train journey takes you past gorgeous views of golden sand and blue skies and turquoise sea. And you get to unexpectedly perform poems outside under the warm sun, and speak words of hope out into a hidden square in St Ives. And you visit a friend in a craft market who loves your poems and has a colleague who's a twin.  And you've happened to bring your twin poem, so - in your happy sunny mood - you recite it right there in the craft market and the other twin totally gets it and you can hand her that poem on the wrinkled pieces of paper (and you think - definitely get more twins in the audience in future!). And then you go to the spoken word event you actually came for and your friends turn up to watch/listen to you and you get to stand on the stage in the Arts Club and tell some of your story for ten minutes to a listening room. And then you buy a beer and walk on the sand in bare feet and drink in the wind and the evening light and think 'YES all this is what I'm made for'.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Changing the world: Be Brave * Be Truthful * Be Me

Crazy how a week can slip by so quick (read: how I don't seem to have time for anything at the moment). I started this last Sunday I think and haven't gotten to finishing it 'til a week later. Sigh. Ah well, seasons seasons seasons, right? Anyways...

Last week I went to the E-Campaigning Forum conference, held in Oxford. In Keble college to be precise. It was quite strange being back in Oxford, having lived there as a teenager, but with a crowd of people I didn't know and to realise I hardly know anyone who lives there now. It was also surreal to be served meals by staff in the grand college hall - having spent years working as a waitress in similar settings in colleges all over Oxford. Funny how life goes, hey?

I'd not been to the ECF conference before and didn't really know much about it. Other might define it differently, but from a newbie my understanding is that the ECF community includes campaigners, fundraisers, activists and organisers who are trying to bring about change in the world primarily through Digital means. Some are doing all of those things and others are experts in one particular area. There were people representing big and small NGOs and charities from all around the world. There were data scientists and hackers and film makers and people who work at Digital agencies (like me).

Friday, 3 April 2015

Resurrection

Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world,
It is never any more than a grain of wheat
And the code for a new crop
Can't be realised

Every seed is a miracle
The plan for a forest
Hidden in such an unassuming shell
And whether buried with tenderness
Or discarded and forgotten
Always the possibility of life
Creeping
then, bursting forth

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Thankful for: blossom, Brighton & Bnb

Right now life is pretty dominated by work and me learning how to fit into this new shape without getting stressed unecessarily, and trying to be wise about what can wait for another day. So basically pretty much the same as last time. So I could argue there's not much point posting. But I don't think being thankful is going to harm anything!

Spring


At last at last, the sun is shining, it's light when I start work and light-ish when I finish. There are flowers everywhere and yesterday it was even warm enough to sit on the beach and have a picnic. And suddenly nothing seems so bad. Weekends are even better because it means time to be out and about during the day. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Thankful for: glitter, trains & pink margeritas

The past few weeks have been a bit challenging: learning to deal with pressure at work, struggling to control negative thoughts that chat rubbish yet remain convincing, friends going through difficult situations, questioning beliefs (and wondering what life's all about, really), waiting waiting for winter to be over. But it will be soon, spring is in the air. And I'm not alone. Here's what's keeping me going...
Flowers

In the past week I've received flowers from three different people. This is not a normal occurrence, but I'm not complaining! Maybe they sensed that I needed some beauty and colour to keep me going through stressful work times and not much chance to leave the house. I am very thankful!


Monday, 16 February 2015

Arise, shine, for your light has come

Over the past few months I've been meeting up with a couple of amazing, creative ladies from church to do a collaborative project based around the first part of the first verse of Isaiah 60.

"Arise, shine, for your light has come"

Petrina sews, Claire paints and I write, but we all ended up doing more than that, and inspiring each other and pondering upon all sorts of things. It's quite amazing how much you can get from one verse when you really spend time on it!

As well as writing, I chose some photos that to me really connected with the theme, and did some editing which was fun. Here's some of them...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Living simply, the details



The other week I talked about living more simply and creating a capsule wardrobe. I packed a load of clothes away into a suitcase at the time but over the past few weeks I've been whittling down a bit more, as I realise I can still do with less and want to make it more challenging.

At the same time I'm not being super strict or religious about it, the point isn't to make it a stressful thing!

So, if anyone happens to be interested, here's more or less what I've settled on for the next two or three months:

Monday, 9 February 2015

Mini mini break - Truro

We escaped to Truro for a 24 hour mini break, to celebrate hubby getting into uni, early Valentine's aaaaand just because we've never really done the whole stay-in-a-hotel thing. Since I work from home and our flat is pretty tiny and we hear our neighbours almost constantly through the thin walls, it definitely makes sense to get away in order to properly switch off. 

Thanks to Groupon we stayed in a much nicer place than we might otherwise have done: The Alverton Hotel, which at one point in its life was a convent for some nuns who did lots of good stuff in the city which is pretty cool. I chose Truro because it's near, easy to get to on the train, and yet different enough to Penzance. 

In the past I would have been almost against the whole idea and cost of hotels, but to be able to disappear from the world for a while, chill out together, have a bath (we haven't had one where we've lived for the past two years) and a comfortable bed (not had one of those either since being married!) I'd say it was definitely worth it! :-)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Thankful for: light and colour

The last couple of weeks have been split between London and Penzance. I'm thankful that I have a life that has often stretched beyond more than just one place. Glad I have the freedom and ability to travel (even if it is on megabuses), glad that I have people to live life with and learn from in these different places, glad for all the stories.

And for...

Artists


I went to see my friend Cecily's work which is on display as part of a collaborative show in Holborn. I've know her since she was doing a degree in painting in Brighton and she's always inspired me by her passion, dedication and hard work. Also hearing the thinking behind her pieces is really what wowed myself and a friend, and opened them up in a whole new way. At the same time, she reminded us to just ENJOY it. Thanks, Cecily :-)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Thankful for: poetry, packing and punctuation

I'll just dive right in.
Mini-mini break

Last Saturday night we went to a friend's place - which right now happens to be a chalet in a holiday park in Hayle, as his family own and run it. Even though we were only there for a little over 12 hours, it was still great to get away, spend an unhurried evening with friends (and plenty of food and wine and Settlers of Catan - which is also on my list of things I'm thankful for!) and wake up to views of the sea and sand. Not having a car means we don't get around this beautiful part of the world enough at the moment. But determined to make more effort and use those infrequent buses and trains!



Sunday, 18 January 2015

Living simply: capsule wardrobe

I'd never heard of a capsule wardrobe before last week. It still makes me think of a mixture of space travel and medication, but anyways!

The idea is to have a set number of items of clothing for a set amount of time and to put everything else away out of sight - with the aim being to reduce on decision making, clutter, and also on buying un-needed items.

Different people do it in different ways. The first I heard of it was through Project 333 which suggests 33 items of clothing (including accessories and shoes, not including underwear and exercise gear) for 3 months. Which isn't a whole lot when you think about gloves, scarves, bags etc. But changing the selection after three months allows for changing in seasons and some variety over the year.

Another blog that inspired me was Un-Fancy, which is a bit more lenient on what's included within the capsule wardrobe and more fashion focused, but the same idea.

I've read a few times before about successful people who wear the same thing every day because it's one less decision to make, and allows them to use that energy elsewhere. To be honest the thought of doing that makes me pretty sad - I've always enjoyed wearing a variety of clothes and styles. Partly because I didn't (and don't) want to be pigeon-holed, partly because clothes are a chance to get creative and express something and let's be honest: I guess do I care about how I look but also very much care about being warm and comfortable - which therefore requires thinking quite a lot about the best combinations for weather and situations :-)  But, at the moment there is enough going on in life to make cutting down on choices sound quite appealing.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Happy/tasty/inspiring things to begin the year

In attempts to keep the Winter blues at bay, and not get overwhelmed by dark mornings, snotty noses, tax returns, cold, money stresses and the like....

Here's some things I'm thankful for so far this year!

A surprise gift in the post with a lovely card from a lovely friend that I get to see soon after a long time.
Way to make a girl feel special!


Pretty colours on my leg

Sunday, 11 January 2015

2015: leaving and being


2015! Can you believe it?! Halfway through the "teens". Is that what we call them?

Fifteen years since I watched the sunrise from a hill in Zambia to greet the new millennium all 13-years-old, blonde, awkward and spotty.

Ten years since I was in the last months of sixth-form, waiting to find out what university I'd go to, slightly less blonde, awkward and spotty.

And now, (purple, occasionally awkward and annoyingly suddenly spotty again!), here I am in the same situation. Except it's my husband who's waiting to find out which universities accept him - and I of course am very affected by the outcome since we do intend to continue living life together, you'll be pleased to know.

We didn't set out last year to plan to leave Cornwall this year.