Posts tagged ‘memories’

November 4, 2013

Food, Glorious Food: BEDN #4

I’m starting to type this post with a stomach full of fluffy oven-baked potato, lashings of butter, a spot of parmesan and cracked black pepper, and a glass of red wine. Simple food, cooked with love, and completely perfect for Autumn.

We moved home on Friday, and I thought I’d share a couple of photos of our new kitchen. It’s not huge, but it is very sunny and, not shown in the photos, it has a table and chairs too, so we can sit and eat at the table together. Eating at the table as a family is such a huge memory of my own childhood and one that I hope to pass on to my own children. Its a time to catch up with each other, share stories, make time. And as such, it’s more important than what is on the plate in front of you.

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Sunny little kitchen…

Having said that, what I eat is important to me, and has been at the forefront of my mind since our decision to quit using the supermarkets for a month (at the least – the way things are going it might be a permanent decision!)  We’ve set up a regular vegetable box delivery with Abel and Cole, which I really like because of the flexibility they allow with making changes to what we have delivered. As I have an allotment, very often the food I am getting in a veg box is the same as that I have grown, so to be able to say ‘no’ to various things when I’ve got a home grown glut is very helpful!

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Freestanding kitchen unit. Spot the ‘moving-in’ Nutella glasses of prosecco!

In addition to that, since moving here we’ve bought bread and delicious cakes from Crust & Crumb, a local cafe/delicatessen, and spied a great local fruit stall that we’ll be paying a return visit to. Hunting around our new local area of Chapel Allerton in search of non-supermarket food stockists is a great way to get acquainted with the area. It looks like we’ll be spoiled for places to go out for food too!  I’m feeling really lucky to live in a place with so much independent retail. Next on the list of places to buy food from in Leeds are Millie’s, a family run food store in central Leeds, the Leeds Bread Co-op and obviously the Leeds Market. I’m going to find out when all the farmers’ markets nearby take place too. There’s nothing quite as pleasing to eye or stomach as a wander round a good farmers’ market!

But, most of all, I’m looking forward to cooking for family and friends again, and inviting them to sit around the table with us, break bread, share stories and create new memories.

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September 25, 2013

Happiness Every Day?

I know it’s Wednesday and that usually means it’s time for Three Good Things, but I’ve felt a need for a break as I’ve been mulling over the subject of happiness yet again…

It was my wedding anniversary recently.

Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.  And yet, I don’t remember at any point during my wedding day thinking ‘this is it, the happiest day of my life, this is the happiest I’ll ever be‘. I’m sure that I was happy, certainly the photos suggest it, and I did have a wonderful day. Even though, as of this year, the marriage has not survived, the memories of the day are still positive ones. Yet I think that the sheer force of a wedding day, the speed of it, means it passes like a blur without you ever truly getting to take it all in.

The birth of your child is another day that is supposed to be The Happiest. Yet, with all the fears surrounding the birth of my daughter, ten weeks too soon, it was far from being a happy day. My mother remembers it as ‘the day you nearly died’ which means that alongside the joy of her birthday every year, a few tears are shed for what might have happened. Bringing her home from hospital was certainly a happy day but there was just as much fear and anxiety at the thought of removing this tiny person from the safety of her hospital surroundings and looking after her all by ourselves. My son’s birth was easier, though it required yet another emergency c-section and so, again, it wasn’t just happiness. The huge, overwhelming love that blooms with the arrival of children brings with it many other feelings and they’re often not easy ones.

Sometimes, it’s easier to look back on a time and remember it as a happy one, rather than recognising it when you’re actually living it. Holidays, are a good example of this. Often fraught with delayed flights, arguing kids in the back of the car, or getting lost in a place you don’t know and barely speak the language, they’re usually looked back on with great fondness. Things that at the time seem like huge disasters are converted into funny anecdotes once we’re no longer in the middle of living them.

Yet, in ‘The Happiness Project‘, Gretchin Rubin says that what you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.  Genuine happiness perhaps does not lie in the big, once-in-a-lifetime situations that generally rush by in the blink of an eye but more in the little things that happen on a regular basis.  I know that Three Good Things is my attempt to find happiness in my busy life, showing a bit of gratitude for small every day things. Microadventures are my chance to try something new regularly, rather than once a blue moon. Getting the chance at the time to actually reflect that, yes, I am happy, makes a big difference. Whether that’s sitting at the top of a mountain I’ve climbed, reading a great book, having the afternoon with friends or just being on the cusp of eating a giant piece of cake, a bit of self-reflection there and then is a good way to realise happiness.

At the end of the new Richard Curtis film ‘About Time’ (spoiler alert) the lead character chooses to spend every day noticing the things that make each day a great one, instead of doing what he can do but we cannot – travel back in time and re-live the day again. Perhaps choosing to see the fun, the smiles,  the small things that can make an ordinary day a happy one instead of just rushing through with blinkers on from one day to the next, is a good way of feeling happiness. As for me, I’m still trying to work out when the happiest day of my life was – and perhaps I’ll never really know. It may well be that I’m at my happiest during an ordinary day, rather than during one of those ‘big’ life moments. But for now, I’m sitting alone on the sofa, typing. I’m just about to make a cup of tea and read a great book in peace. Does that make me happy? Yes it does…

Can you remember the happiest day of your life? I’d love to hear about it…

September 2, 2013

Take your holiday back home…

This post was originally titled ‘how to steal things from your holiday’ but I thought you might worry I had criminal tendencies…

Do you ever come back from holiday determined to bring something home with you? I don’t mean literally stealing the towels from your hotel room, although I do admit to taking those little bottles of toiletries if they’re nice enough. We all do that though, right?

What I mean by ‘stealing’ is taking ideas, behaviours, attitudes, styles, away from our ‘holiday’ selves and recreating them in our ‘real’ selves and real, everyday lives. I’ve often tried to do exactly that. Sadly, though the idea of breakfast on the terrace every day is perfection in sunny Europe, it doesn’t translate terribly well to a wintery Yorkshire.  However, this year, I have a very good chance of recreating some elements of my holidays in my everyday life, from my city break in Paris, camping trips to Scotland and The Lake District and, last week, in a yurt in the Yorkshire Dales.

So – first up are some lovely Duralex glasses that you see everywhere in Paris. Although they’re incredibly chic, they’re also cheap, and so I can buy these and pretend that I’m drinking in some little Left Bank bistro. Perhaps I’ll insist on a return trip to Paris to buy them from Merci though?

Secondly, I can recreate the  lanterns that are used everywhere at Bivouac, adding wire to old jars and glasses, with some lace or jute string to decorate and a tea light dropped inside. I found this tutorial video, which makes them look easy! Cheap enough to amass a huge collection, these will be a glittering backdrop to the Bonfire Night supper that I’m planning. And bunting! I need more bunting in my life. I think I shall make some. It’s not hard, is it?

Tea lights, bunting and mismatched furniture...

Tea lights, bunting and mismatched furniture…

I can also recreate the style of Bivouac in other ways, using mis-matched furniture (which, with my budget, is going to happen anyway!) to give my home a lived-in, unique feel. Removing the distractions of TV, and allowing the evenings to be focussed on people, conversations around dinner and a bottle of beer sounds good too. That lack of wifi, 3G or even a phone signal at Bivouac was good for making me slow down a bit and read more. I’d like to bring reading back into my normal life too, I’ve not found the time for that recently.

Often, when I’m on holiday, I find myself eating differently. This is more noticeable, I think, when abroad, as I adopt a Mediterranean style diet, or eat more unusual food. I often choose to potter around a local market to shop for food. This is something that I’d like to bring back home to my everyday life. More fresh food, more cooking, more greens! Fewer scones, sadly, which seemed to be a staple of my last holiday…

I also tend to exercise more – swimming in a pool or the sea perhaps. Walking, cycling, even wandering around a city can be physically demanding. I’ve started swimming every week, although it’s not terribly glamorous at my local pool, it is doing me good. I’ve added hill walking to my weekends whenever I can fit it in, so it’s not just something I do when I’m away camping.

I’m sure there are other things I can add to that list, given enough time! But for now, those are the things I’m stealing from my holidays. I’m hoping that they will add a bit of healthiness and happiness, as well as making me feel a tiny bit more like I’m on holiday everyday…

What would you steal from your holiday? 

August 7, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Four

Welcome to this week’s edition of Three Good Things!

I can’t believe it is week four already, time really does fly…

One: Orange is the New Black.

My first good thing this week is a TV series. And when I say a ‘series’ its because I watched every episode pretty much back-to-back! ‘Orange is the New Black‘ is a show created by Netflix, which means that you have to subscribe in order to watch. But given that this series, based on a true story and set in a women’s prison, manages to be simultaneously funny, heart-wrenching, terrifying and endearing all at the same time,  it’s completely worth it. Or you could do what we did and get a free month’s Netflix trial to watch the show!  Though, we’ve ended up keeping Netflix, because it’s actually great for those of us without a TV.

I do love it when a TV show steals my heart so much that I want to completely immerse myself in it. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me. Maybe it was The West Wing?

The show is now multi-Emmy-award nominated and series two is already in the pipeline, which I’m already impatient about. Highly recommended.

Orange Is The New Black (image: netflix)

Orange Is The New Black (image: netflix)

Two: My new bag!

My second good thing this week is my new Fjallraven Kanken bag. It was a gift to me, and I love it. In my humble opinion, it’s an iconic design. It’s really simple,  with one large main section, a smaller front pocket and an extra zip-out part at the back which increases the capacity to be big enough for me to fill it with enough stuff that I can barely carry it. Each Kanken comes with a little seat pad too, which came in very handy this week when I had to wait half an hour on a seat-free platform for a delayed train…

Me with my Fjallraven Kanken Maxi waiting for a train...

Me with my Fjallraven Kanken Maxi waiting for a train…

Three: Cardboard Lions.

My last good thing this week is a cardboard loo roll. Well, several loo rolls, in fact. Covered in yellow paint and made into lions, they are the proof that I am ok at craft. And a decent mother to boot. I’m going to blog a bit more about this later on, but I wanted to share this today, because I’m really happy with how they turned out, and the kids were thrilled. The inspiration for these came from a lovely blog called  A Patchwork Life, and we are hoping to keep going through the summer holidays, with a different animal each week until we have a cardboard safari!

Fabulous cardboard lion!

Fabulous cardboard lion!

Do have a look at the lovely ‘Three Good Things’ posts from Nyssapod and A Hell of A Woman.

What are your Three Good Things this week? 

July 17, 2013

Three Good Things: Week One

With sincere apologies to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the blatant theft of his book title, I’m calling this post ‘Three Good Things’ and it will be the first in an ongoing weekly series that I shall post each Wednesday.

Three Good Things is inspired by ongoing conversations I have with friends and from re-reading sections of The Happiness Project. It’s about focussing on what I do have in my life, instead of what I don’t have. A friend of mine mentioned that he’d done a writing project with his children during a period of change in their lives to get them to remember good things every day and it’s really resonated with me. I spend a lot of time planning the future; I can often struggle to keep my mind in the present day.

In times of change or upheaval, or when things feel like they’re an ongoing battle,  it’s good to be able to slow down and practice a bit of gratitude. And that’s what I shall be doing in this series. Each week, I shall choose three things to share. Things that have made me happy, made me smile, brought me a bit of joy or peace and made me grateful for the life that I have. I will always be a planner, always have one eye on the future and always strive to better myself and my life in one way or another, but this will hopefully help me be thankful for what my life looks like right now.

Robert Brault wrote ‘enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realise that they were the big things’.

So, without further ado, I present to you Three Good Things.

One: Strawberries

The first thing to bring me joy this week has been my strawberries. I’ve had a difficult year on the allotment this year. I’m living further away from it, and life is so busy that it’s often a challenge to get there. It can feel like a chore, instead of the hobby it is supposed to be, when I’m trying to work it into my schedule. And the sun, though very welcome, means that watering is an ongoing necessity.

Thankfully, my reward for all this effort has arrived in the form of beautiful strawberries. Giant, sweet and warmed by the sun, these are the best fruit I’ve ever grown and I’m thrilled with them. The fact that they match my red toenails pleases me enormously too. I always paint my toenails red. Actually, that’s not true. On a whim, I painted them blue the other week. Then I had a really long bath, which made my feet go wrinkly. After getting out of the bath, I dried my feet, and realised that the combination of the wrinkles and the blue toenails made my feet look like corpse feet. Those of you who remember my kayaking experience of last year will realise that this isn’t the first time I’ve had that feeling about my feet… Given that ‘dead’ isn’t generally a look that I aim for, I swiftly removed the blue. I shall be sticking to red from now on!

The colour on my toes is Dragon, by Chanel, a truly bright red which makes me feel happy whenever I look at it.

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Two: The Cluny, Newcastle

The second thing to bring me lots of happiness this week was The Cluny, a brilliant pub in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. We had such a great night out. The warm summer evening brought heaps of people to sit outside the pub on the curved stone steps and ‘village green’ area, so, armed with pints of beer, we sat and people-watched. It was a moment in my life when I wasn’t thinking about the past, or planning the future but was simply happy to be in the moment I was living and with the person I was with. These moments in life should be treasured and I’m very happy to remember that feeling.

The Cluny is a wonderful pub, filled with a great variety of beers including my favourite Timmermans (a fruit beer, I’m such a girl!) together with a live music venue. I really recommend it.

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Three: My lovely bike

The third thing that has made me smile this week is my Pashley Princess Sovereign. I’m pretty sure that I gave her a name but I’ve forgotten it, and when I took her out of the garage on Sunday she was covered in dust which made me feel a bit shameful. Nonetheless, the minute I got in the saddle, I remember why I love her so much. We had a little ride in the sun, punctuated halfway with a Primo’s gourmet hotdog (therefore reducing the health benefits of cycling to nil) and I’ve promised to myself that I won’t leave it as long before we go out together again.

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So, those are my Three Good Things for this week. See you here again next Wednesday!

I’d love for this series of posts to develop a bit of community – so do tell me, what are your good things this week? 

July 10, 2013

How to have a ‘Micra’ Adventure

Last week, I was surprised with a night away staying in a tipi. Or, more correctly, a Tentipi, which is a Norwegian designed tipi that has completely revolutionised my understanding of camping, due to the bloody incredible wood burning stove inside. Which means that, despite the wind and rain we faced on Sunday, we were toasty warm and making mugs of tea inside. I loved it. Loved it.

Not that I don’t like camping, I do. I just don’t like getting cold. But I do love camping –  I just need layers and layers of clothing! I love the sense of adventure and of having a bit of freedom. Of having life’s issues reduced to working out how to keep a roof up over our heads, cook dinner and spend time with our loved ones. The important stuff.

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One of the things that I really loved about the time in the tipi – even more than the stove – was re-aquainting myself with the truth that adventures don’t have to be far-flung, lengthy, or cost a fortune. Adventure is on our doorsteps; we just have to look for it. It’s all a question of attitude. So, with that attitude in mind, I’m getting a ‘Micra Adventure’ kit together so we can jump in the car and set off for places unknown. The utterly inspiring Alistair Humphreys calls them Microadventures, but given that Silvertrim (ancient Micra) is likely to be our vehicle, unless we walk or cycle, I’ve changed the name to suit. Micra Adventures are hidden in all the places in the UK that I don’t know, from secret woods to city centres, coastal paths to open moorland.

Even though my wish-list of places to visit across the globe will never diminish, there are so many places I’ve not been to in the UK and it seems a shame not to take the opportunity to see them, as most of them are so much more accessible over a short period of time than anywhere abroad. We have some of the most wonderful habitats, natural places, heritage, cities and landscape of anywhere in the world and it’s short sighted not to appreciate them because they’re more ‘known’ to us than places further away. It also means that we can escape the 9-5 much more readily than if we had to make complicated plans and save up lots of money.

So, tipi shopping is the next point of order, and getting the Micra Adventure kit ready so that we can leave at the drop of a hat, off to make our next discovery.

Is there a place to camp in the UK that you recommend? Let me know!

March 20, 2013

Sweet Cecily’s lip balm kit: A review

I bought a lip balm making kit for my daughter from Sweet Cecily’s a little while ago, and promptly forgot about it until the other day when we were looking for something fun and a little bit different to do together. It proved to be the perfect choice, combining my girl’s love of making things and her desire to be a real ‘girly girl’ with her own lip balm, just like her mum!

It’s been a while since I wrote about a skincare company and Sweet Cecily’s is exactly the kind of brand I like. A small company based here in Yorkshire, creating hand-made skin care with natural ingredients and complete with pretty packaging, there is a lot to like. I look forward to trying out more of their range in the future. The Sea Buckthorn Berry hand cream looks particularly good for us gardeners!

The kit I bought contained all the weighed-out ingredients for five pots of orange essential oil lip balm and the little pots, lid stickers and instructions needed, all inside a cotton drawstring bag. My daughter added all the ingredients to a double-boiler saucepan for me to heat up. Everything melted easily together and there was the perfect amount for the five tins included. I then poured the melted lip balm into the little pots and left it to cool. It took hardly any time at all and so as an activity, it wouldn’t have been enough on its own. But – plenty of time was needed for creating five mini masterpieces to decorate the lids and so Eve was happily drawing oranges all afternoon!

PicMonkey Collage

Originally, the plan was for Eve to give out several pots away to friends, but in true diva fashion, she has decided to stockpile it all for herself. I have been honoured to receive a pot of my own to keep though, so I’m happy enough. The lip balm contains a lovely combination of shea butter, cocoa butter and almond and calendula oil and so is really moisturising and the orange essential oil adds a lovely fragrance. My pot is made all the more special because of the unique picture that has been drawn for the lid, which makes me smile every time I see it. I keep it in my bag and use it every day. I really recommend this kit as a gift, it’s been a great success.

January 14, 2013

Making Space for New Dreams.

Regular blog readers will know that I’m on a long-term de-cluttering exercise, and attempting to live something of a more minimalist lifestyle. As I work my way through my house, I have got to the point where I’m nearly rid of all the clutter that doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve got rid of a giant teetering pile of books, all the clothes that I’ve kept in the mistaken belief that I’ll get thinner, taller or suddenly be able to wear low-rise skinny jeans, loads of old paperwork and everything I’ve kept ‘just in case it might be useful’ – and it’s been relatively painless, once I dealt with my book guilt. In something of a landmark moment, I’ve even finally accepted that my beloved blue Converse are more hole than trainer and let them go…

Now I’ve moved onto the more challenging things. A couple of things that I’ve recently got rid of have made me cry. Firstly an enormous, half-finished Beatrix Potter cross-stitch. I started this in the summer of 2006, when I was pregnant with my daughter. It was one of those ‘I’m going to be a perfect mummy’ kind of plans. I was going to finish it before her arrival, get it framed and smugly hang it in her bedroom. And then it all fell apart. Thirty weeks into the pregnancy,  I became really ill with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and she arrived far too early for me to finish it. But in all honesty, even if the pregnancy had been text-book perfect, I was unlikely to have managed it. The simple reason? I didn’t really enjoy it. It was far too big and complicated and I’m just not very good at sitting still and concentrating on one thing for that amount of time. A lesson in not trying to be someone I’m not, perhaps.

I suppose it was the first of my failures in the attempt to be a perfect parent. These days, I am definitely not a perfect parent, and far less stressed about the whole thing. But six years after I started that damn cross stitch, there it was, every time I opened the drawer in my bedroom, taunting me about my failure and giving me a giant dose of guilt. Every time I came across it, I thought fleetingly ‘I must finish that’ before hastily shutting the drawer and putting it – and the guilt – out of my mind. Not this time though. This time, I got it out of the drawer and sat thinking about it – and having a little cry – before asking for a second opinion.

Thankfully, I have the best friends in the world, and so that second opinion was a wonderful one. One that said ‘you’re not a failure for not finishing this. It was started with love, and that love still exists, even if the finished article does not’. The love that I have for my daughter, and the six years worth of things we have shared more than makes up for not having finished one lousy cross-stitch. It went into the bin and I don’t have any regrets.

The second thing that I have finally got rid of is a guide book for Mongolia. From 1999. Hmm. I was supposed to go to Mongolia for a few months through a Raleigh International scheme, but no-one told me until I’d got to the end of the application process that because I was in the final year of my degree, I was ineligible. Marvellous. Still, I have hung onto the dream since then. I long to visit Mongolia; the vast open spaces, wildlife, last vestiges of a nomadic, horse-reliant culture and the reintroduced takhi (Przewalski) horses are something I refuse to get to the end of my life without witnessing.

Hence my ancient guide book.

I know, though, that if I ever do manage to finally make it to Mongolia, I’ll need a new guide book. So why have I hung onto this one for so long? It is the misguided belief that my dream is somehow inextricably linked with it. That without the book, the chances of me finally getting to realise a long-held ambition are doomed. This is replicated across many other things that I own, and that I’ve struggled to let go of. Half finished plans, guide books for places I’ve planned to go but never visited, books bought but never read, kit for various activities and sports going dusty…

The other reason I have hung onto things is because they have links to memories; places I have been, people I have known, experiences I have had. In some cases, the memento or souvenir is rather nice. In the vast majority of cases, it’s an old bus ticket, an unused piece of equipment, an ancient t-shirt. What I have come to realise, is that I don’t need to keep all of these things in order to retain the memory. I have never forgotten my old friends, regardless of whether I have kept mementoes of things we have done together. I’ve never forgotten holidays that I have taken or adventures that I have had, whether or not I’ve kept the tickets! And, as a friend of mine pointed out a while ago, I could always take photos of things before letting them go, if I really need to.

So, it is time for me to let go of these things. To rely on my friends to help me with the invisible tentacles that each item might hold around my heart, and to help me see that my dreams and my memories are not linked to my things, but rather that they live on inside me.

In my last post, I mentioned an article by Lesley Garner that I’d found, amidst my clutter, about de-cluttering. The irony is not lost on me. This time, I’m going to quote from it a little: ‘Clearing clutter means shedding dreams. But the funny thing is, I can throw things out because I still believe in the dreams themselves. The clutter is the husk of hope that never flew. But hope itself is inexhaustible. De-cluttering is necessary because new dreams need space to grow in’.

In clearing my house of the clutter from unrealised dreams, I am not killing the dreams themselves. In clearing my house of the clutter from things in my history, I am not wiping out my memories. I am making space, both for my mind and body to live in and for my new dreams to grow in.

April 16, 2012

Rome: Instagram images

I’ve got a few Rome-based posts lined up but first I thought I’d share some of my photos with you. As I don’t have a big DSLR, I’ve used my trusty iPhone to take a few Instagram pictures. I hope they’ll give you a nice overview of my trip – see how many of the places you recognise!

March 30, 2012

Today: the only day of your life.

Living in the moment is a continual struggle for me, as I have so many ideas, projects and plans. I’m trying to be more mindful and to pay attention to the time that I am actually living. To appreciate each day as it comes instead of letting so many of them slip past unnoticed that it will soon be my birthday again and then another whole year will have vanished. Slowing down and appreciating the joy in each day, however simple and ordinary, is a really good way of slowing down the pace of life, which can be painfully hectic sometimes. I know, I’ve spoken about this before on here, but it is something that I’m really trying hard to work on this year.

My new motto is something I read somewhere recently. It’s probably horrifically well known, but I have no idea who to attribute it to, so I’m afraid I’m not going to.

‘Today is the only day of your life. Act accordingly.’

For me, this means many things. It means letting go of things that have happened to me instead of re-living them in my head time after time, as though I might change my actions or the consequences of them. It means trying really hard not to spend all my time impatiently waiting for things in my future to arrive, whether that is the day I go on holiday, the day my lovely son is finally out of nappies or that blessed day when I finally pay off my giant bank loan. It means really taking on this day and making the most of it.

That means spending time doing the things I love instead of wasting time on things I really don’t care about. If a book is not keeping my interest, I will leave it to one side now instead of doggedly trying to finish it. Life is too precious and there are too many other books to be read. The same goes for films or television shows. I will happily spend time on the things that are considered a ‘waste’ of time, if I am enjoying them, but I am trying to turn off my mobile, switch off the laptop and spend time on those things that I have always wanted to do. This results in more time actually being spent on making projects happen instead of messing about on clothing websites (for example!)  so it’s a winning and productive way to try and spend at least some of my time.

Alongside trying to really live in the only day I truly own, is trying to act accordingly. Telling the people I love, that I love them. Keeping things that go wrong in perspective. Counting my blessings. I’ve started to have pauses in my day, to think about what I am doing, how I am feeling, and ask myself if I am really ‘acting accordingly’ – and if I’m not, then I will consciously try to do so. I know it all sounds a bit odd, but it is really and truly making me feel better about each and every day of my life. It makes me take a deep breath instead of getting cross, it makes me slow down and really look about me to appreciate the small, joyful things that every day life brings and it makes me a better, kinder and more open person to those around me.

Before I read my book each evening, I have a little think about the day. I am trying to practice gratitude a bit more, so I will think of a few things that I am particularly grateful for. Above all, I want to get into my bed at the end of each day, and be happy to know that if this was to be my last day on Earth, I have used it well, shared it positively and made the most of it.

I’m aware that this post is in danger of sounding like a poorly written self help book, so, as one final act of self-sabotage, I am going to quote the irrepressible Ferris Bueller:

‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’

PS: If you’re looking for a fun way to waste five minutes then have a look at Ferris Bueller Quotes, which is a random Ferris quote generator. Ace.