Writing 101: Day 14 Your Voice Will Find You

Ironically this has already happened to me!
When i was a child my parents had a house in France (my dad has sadly just sold it) it was in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. One of the nearest small towns/largest village used to have a music festival every august bank holiday weekend. It was my sister and i’s favourite part of spending the summer in France.
Starting at 2pm in the afternoon and carrying on until late over the long weekend, the concerts were free between 6 and 7 in the evening and there was lots of things to do and see, art exhibitions, face painting and all kinds of other events and like i said it was the highlight of our visit.
As we grew older and less interested in spending the whole summer with our parents we stopped going to France so much, when i was about 18 the festival suddenly stopped due to lack of attendance and funding much to my dismay. I was somewhat distraught as if i had known i would have loved to have gone one last time.
A few years later i thought about “La Croche et La Lune” and thought id look up and see if they ever managed to bring it back, to my delight they had! Unfortunately it was being sponsored by some non-descript organisation who seemed to have little interest in music, all of the hippie/country/festival vibe which was so important to us as children had disappeared, not only that but they had spread it all over the local area (not a problem but it meant travelling all over the place in the car due to the vastness of the countryside it detracts from the community feel of the festival)
I hope that one day they will beable to restart on their own as i really feel that many children are missing out holiday experiences.

Writing 101: Day 13 To Whom it May Concern

Dear Lavender
Your magical healing properties are endless, you bring sleep, relaxation and energy when required and soothe a fevered cold filled brow.
You bring warmth and fragrance to the room when a candle is lit and joy to the people in it.
Your flowers ripple in the breeze as the wind passes over fragrancing the world with your scent.
I am so glad to have found you as you comfort me in my most darkest moments.
Yours truly

Writing 101: Day 13 Challenge

When i lost my Nanna it was very hard to accept that she was gone, it took me time to realise that although she wasn’t there fore me anymore she was still with me looking down from where ever she had gone. It was hard to know what to do with the legacy that she left, but then i realised something, she always wanted me to be myself and i decided that was my mission. To find myself.
It’s fair to say that i am still in the process of finding myself but it doesn’t change the fact that this is now my mission. So the something i have found is me.
To find yourself is probably the most difficult thing to do, some people are so sure of themselves others are not. I am one of those people. Although i have known since my college days that what i want to do is to work in marketing, if i had the option without a doubt it would be within the music industry, retrospectively i think had i been more driven and not so confused when i made my university choices then this would have been reflected in the qualifications that i did and really i only have myself to hold accountable for this.
The problem i had was that when i was at college i was confused about how i would go about making a career in the music industry and even though i bought books and did lots of research, the more i delved the more it put me off. I now know that i should have been true to myself and pushed myself to truly follow my dreams.
10 years on i am now on a mission, i am in the process of re-kindling my passion for life and marketing by volunteering, hopefully this will be the beginning of a new me and the rediscovery of my true goals.

Writing 101: Day 12 Challenge

To say that eavesdropping is a curse is not necessarily true, most conversations had in public are subject to the masses ears even if they do not want to be. We are also aware that the government listen to calls in the hope of ‘catching a terrorist’ (not that we are able to prove and/or stop it) and the police observe conversations even when they are not on duty.
I am reminded of a tale of a conversation overheard in a local supermarket, between a mother and child. The child was misbehaving and naturally the mother was frustrated by the fact that she could not calm him down so they could finish the shopping. There is probably not a parent out there who has at some point said to their child “Just you wait until i get you home!”. Unbeknownst to the mother an off duty policeman overheard the threat and through no other evidence than what he had heard promptly reported her to the police. Cue a visit from the local constabulary.
The woman in question of course had no intention of abusing her child for his bad behaviour it was merely a hollow threat to desperately calm the child down.
After hearing this, it made me wonder, at what point do we draw the line? Was the police man right to report this family for abuse? Did he have any form of information which would prompt this decision? Should he not be reprimanded for the distress caused to the family? I understand that with the media giving far more attention to the failings of the police/social services and other such organisations subject to media scrutiny but surely there should be some kind of procedure under these circumstances? Surely we cannot carry on reporting every adverse conversation we overhear, especially when there is no context or observed repetitive behaviour.

Writing 101: Day 11 Challenge

When i was twelve i was 2 years into my parents divorce, as it was an amicable one it meant that i had two houses. To me having two houses was difficult. Two sets of everything but at least i had my parents and my sister. Even if they weren’t together anymore!
When my father moved out he moved in with his friend in a tiny cottage in the middle of the Blackdowns in Somerset, England. The downside was he shared it with his friend and her vicious cats. On the upside my sister and i had our own room even if it was somewhat cramped. The downside i guess was having to pack a bag every other friday when we were off to Dads. Needless to say when we did visit we didn’t spend too much time in the house.
Annie – Dad’s friend – was a bit older than him and had been working with him for a very long time. Although she had never had children of her own but she tried her best to be nice to us and friendly (my Dad and Annie weren’t in a relationship as far as i had noticed) but it was not always difficult as she was a very strong independent woman with very little time for such things. We used to run from the cats when they were in the house, not wanting to risk being hissed at or jumped on. I dont think they liked having other people in their house which is understandable.
The house itself was a typical countryside curiosity. It looked a bit like a witches house, you know a bit twisted and dilapidated? It rested on the edge of some woods had an Aga and was freezing in the winter. All the things you would expect from a cottage in the middle of nowhere.
I wouldn’t say that this is a particularly happy place. However what i will say is that its no where near as bad as some of the other places i’ve lived.

Writing 101 – Day 10 Challenge

Food can evoke many memories, especially the smells and the sounds of certain things. It could be the smell of coffee, cinnamon buns or even a roast dinner cooking on a sunday that suddenly brings you to a world of memories.
For me there are many foods/smells which bring back memories to me and also tastes, i can be transported all over the world with the simple sniff of spices or even the smell of a ripe melon.
My relationship with food has been a troubled one over the past few years, growing up it was my staple and the cornerstone of our family, once i left the familial home i struggled and faltered, turning to it for control and comfort purposes. After some time of eating sporadically i stopped eating all together, had it not been for my terrified friends and their desire to keep me alive, i think i would be in a much more sorry state, i still struggle with my appetite when i get anxious but in all honesty i understand that its important and needs to be enjoyed.


The meal i have chosen is the one my grandmother used to cook whenever we went to visit for the weekend, it was the first meal after we got there on friday evening after school/work, more often than not it was the same thing, as it was a long journey for us and my Nanna liked to have everything prepared for when we arrived. To here food was one of the most important things in our lives, having suffered as a refugee in the war she was determined that no one would go hungry in her family and it showed in the way she fed us extensively and with total love, by the end of most weekends i would happily not eat until the next day just because i was so full.
She always made teperto (small hungarian chicken/duck/goose crispy bits like pork scratchings) which was our snack upon arrival we were only allowed a small amount on our shell dishes as she didn’t want us to miss dinner.
Then after a rest dinner would be served…Shepherds pie (as she called it although technically it was cottage pie as she used beef bless her) and it was the best, she made this for us because she thought that my mother did and wanted us to have something familiar (the truth is mum was terrible at this dish and never made it but we didn’t have the heart to tell Nanna that). We would have it with pickled vegetables and peas and sweetcorn. For dessert we would normally have some kind of cheesecake or Viennetta ice cream for ease, my Nanna wasn’t normally a big dessert chef unless it was a special occasion or possibly saturday night dinner.
To me it wasn’t just the taste or the smell it was the concept of us all sitting down and sharing together as a family, and i know thats what Nanna wanted as well, we have a long tradition in our family of sharing meals and it shows through how close we are.
Since we stopped going up to see my grandparents on a friday night it meant that the traditional friday night meal stopped as Nanna always had time on a saturday morning to cook something more elaborate.
Although this meal isn’t a ‘celebration’ in the traditional sense of the word, my grandparents adored us visiting and would always roll out the red carpet for us, they always celebrated with my parents (both together and individually after they divorced) with a bottle of sparkling hungarian wine or as close as they could get, my Nanna being Hungarian these little details mattered to her and we all noticed and appreciated them.

Writing 101: Day 9 Challenge – Points of View

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.
The man – 
As i walk through the park with my beautiful wife on the way to our anniversary lunch date we pass an elderly lady she is knitting a small red sweater. It strikes a blow into my heart, my palms sweat, i shake and burst into tears, these are tears of sadness for we only lost our baby boy not 6 months ago.
When i was very young my grandmother knitted me a jumper much the same, which had been handed down through generations of our family, there are many memories attached to it and of course my little lad would have been the next recipient of the jumper i had worn. The memories came flooding back some of joy, some of pain and some of nostalgia, it was one of the few things i had left from my gran and i so wanted to pass it on as it meant so much to me; unfortunately it was not meant to be.
I squeeze my wife’s hand tight for support and to compose myself, my thoughts fall to my wife…she is pregnant again we can only hope that the jumper will continue on throughout our family. We walk on to our lunch date, i don’t want to talk about what happened right now, i know my wife understands.
The woman – 
Walking through the park with my husband on the way to our anniversary lunch; i think about our marriage and the past few years, it has not been easy we have been so much but it has only made us stronger. We walk past an elderly lady knitting a small red jumper, to my dismay my poor husband becomes agitated and cries, for a moment the significance is almost lost, then i remember, his jumper. I understand how important that jumper is to him. I catch myself to hold back the tears for i am horrified that my husband is so distressed but he needs my support, we both do, there are 3 of us to think about now. I hope when the baby comes he can pass on his jumper and the tradition will carry on. I feel him squeeze my hand tightly and i know what he’s thinking, i smile at him in the hope of comforting him, we walk onto our lunch, nothing was said about what he saw until that evening.
The old lady
What a beautiful day it is, perfect for sitting in the park and knitting for my little grandson, i hope he loves the jumper i have made for him. Looking up i see young love approaching, what a wonderful thing it is; oh dear that poor man is crying, i wonder why? As she watches the couple pass in silence the man in tears she wonders why someone so fortunate in their life would be so distressed by the sight of someone knitting in the park, as she looks up to say something they have already walked past, she concludes she will probably never know.

Writing 101: Day 8 Challenge

As i sit in the cafe of my local museum, which is set in a castle (of sorts) made of local stone, i am struck by the variety of people that pass through in the thoroughfare, the inside part of the cafe in comparison with the reception of the museum feels somewhat cramped despite the pale colours used in an attempt to keep the room light; a stark contrast however to the outside section in the courtyard which is bathed in september sunlight and a gentle breeze passes through.
The local school children rushing around the squeaky floor in their luminous jackets being chased by exasperated teachers trying to keep them calm and quiet long enough for them to learn from the exhibits.
The local students in the military section wandering aimless whilst they try and focus in the dim light on relevant artefacts to their ill-prepared projects.
In the cafe i am surrounded by groups of people, book groups convening to discuss their latest read, pensioners sitting and reminiscing about the old times and several mothers struggle with wriggling toddlers who are anxious to obtain gifts from the gift shop (no matter how many pens/pencils/sharpeners they already have)
The curators strut around greeting people with an eager ‘good morning’ in the hope to encourage donations to their cause.
As i lower my gaze over my coffee i see a tall good looking man walk in, he has a rugged/hippy student look about him but despite his height he stoops as if somewhat submissive. Entranced by his entrance i start to wonder all the things girls do when they see someone beautiful…Whats he like? Is he single? what does he do? I blush as he meets my gaze from across the room and smiles as he walks past me, i take a quick sip of my coffee in the hope of composing myself, but for a moment i feel like i am the only one in the room, enthralled for a moment i falter nearly dropping my cup. My only regret is i didn’t introduce myself and i don’t know his name; but as they say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Writing 101: Day 7 Challenge

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
You remember the people who actually used to like writing ‘compare and contrast’ essays? Yup thats me guilty as charged…So as you can tell today i am quite a happy bunny the only challenge was to write in dialogue format as that is a newish concept for me so here goes:
Sarah and John were standing in the kitchen at work on a break, the discussion this morning fell to tea, a bizarre topic but one that had been annoying Sarah for sometime, not because she didn’t like tea but the way John made it; they had previously joked about this conversation and the pompousness of the British but today the discussion took a different turn, there was clearly more to the argument than met the eye.
“It sounds horribly complicated” he said standing staring out of the office window at the river.
“well trust me its not as complicated as you would think” she said looking at him strangely.
“But i don’t understand why should i put the milk in after the water?” he said looking confused and frustrated.
“Because it tastes better!” she said rolling her eyes at him.
“So you mean to say i have to change the way i make tea just because you say so?” he said angrily.
“Not because i say so but for the good of tea!” She said laughing a little frustrated at the turn this conversation was taking (you would have thought she was asking him to change his whole life by the reaction she got). Relenting a little she looked at him and asked “are you ok John? you don’t seem like yourself today”
He shrugged “I guess I am, sorry for the snapping i just think its a ridiculous thing to be that bothered about”
“I guess?” Sarah queried “I guess doesn’t sound so sure, is there anything you want to talk about? We have know each other a long time now its difficult for you to hide things from me…”
“Life just isn’t what i expected anymore…” he sighs and stares out the window again distracted by a red balloon passing over the river
“How so?” said Sarah feeling like this conversation may be a lot deeper than she imagined.
“Well we are all meant to have a certain number of ‘things’ by a certain age, at least society dictates we do and i seem to be lacking” he looked forlorn
Sarah smiled softly at him “Well society is not always right, you know that yourself and besides if you want the things you are lacking then you will surely receive them in time, but that is only if you truly want them, as they say all good things come to those who wait”
“I know” John said “Its just quite difficult for me because i thought these things would just happen in time, like one thing unlocks another and another”
“Well thats the difference between you and me John, i understand that these things don’t come automatically, however i only know this because i learnt the hard way, as will you, happiness comes from within it is not created but felt and nurtured within” said Sarah
John looked confused “happiness comes from within? what kind of rubbish is that?”
“Well i mean that only you can be happy for you, you cant buy happiness you have to look within you and ask ‘what really makes me happy?’ and i can almost guarantee that things that make you happy are the things that you say you are lacking, only you can help yourself, i cant sit here and profess to know what makes you happy because i don’t know what you think you are lacking in your life.”
John goes quiet clearly thinking about Sarah’s last comment
“I think you are right, i hadn’t really thought about it like that, i just assumed that because everyone else has these things that it just came to them, I just assumed that people were luckier than me” said John as they walked back to their desks.
So as you can see discussions of tea always lead to discussions about other things, the next day John came into the office looking somewhat happier in himself and Sarah felt good that she had helped someone see things a little better.

Writing 101: Day 6 Challenge

Today’s challenge is a character study of the most interesting person or group of people i have met so far this year.
To me this is definitely an interesting prompt, having been travelling and other exciting adventures this year it was a dilemma to choose just one person or even a specific group of people, largely because the people i met were not all together it was whilst i was away…
Going travelling means that you get to meet all kind of people (not that one wouldn’t in ‘normal’ life but you are almost catapulted into meeting new people whilst away) and in my month away i met several significant people not only fellow travellers but locals as well. As i think its unfair to choose between my two favourite places i will write about them both because they were very significant to me.
10565276_10152326838317551_2944791577335842281_n (1)The first was in Vienna whilst i was staying at the hostel, the bar manager Pris was just the  most lovely passionate person i have ever met, a spanish girl of my age or a little older she ran her bar like i complete pro and was insistent that everyone had to meet each other whether they eventually made friends or not. Every new person who ventured through the door she greeted with enthusiasm and introduced everyone else sitting in the bar, her long blonde hair (clearly black or rich dark brown as most spanish girls are) tied in a loose ponytail with her soft lips encapsulating every smile and every word she said and her big brown eyes meant that you couldn’t help but get lost in her personality alone let alone her beauty. One night i came down to the bar and found Pris looking somewhere between sad and angry, her personality means that she cant hide her feelings very well, upon discovering she had been arguing with her boyfriend before she came to work i felt compelled to stay with her and at least cheer her up (i hate to see people upset) over the next few hours i met lots of people and it was truly fascinating speaking to the Australians and the far Eastern people, although Australia is not that different from Europe it is still interesting hearing about their cultures, and the Korean guy i met (embarrassingly i don’t know his name to this day) truly made me think about how i feel about my life, in Korea their way of life is so different, so ridged in many respects its fascinating. By the end of the evening (3am to be precise) not only had i had a great evening but Pris was starting to feel much better, insisting on telling everyone how supportive id been and how much she loved me to bits and i felt good about it; we reminisced about Barcelona and Amsterdam and all the places we had visited in our lives and educated as many people as would listen! We are now firm friends on Facebook and i intend to visit her again hopefully in her home town of Barcelona. Truly she is one of the most important people i have met possibly in my life not just this year.
DSC_0039_6The second person i met on my travels and to this day i’m ashamed to say i don’t know her name is the Chef at the Carpe Diem restaurant in Skopje, Macedonia. My first day in Skopje was fascinating, having been so excited to be there (the destination which had prompted my to travel for a month) i was anxious to explore as much as possible; as i learnt throughout my journey it seems that my stomach was prepared to choose food based entirely on the aura of the place, in this case it meant an hour of walking round Skopje investigating various restaurants none of which seemed to come up trumps…at the point at which was nearly giving up and going to get bread and cheese from the supermarket i came across a little restaurant/cafe called Carpe Diem, i could hear music reminiscent of my childhood holidays in France, i was instantly sold. I approached a petite lady with blonde curly hair who i could only assume was the waitress and asked if it was possible to eat still (by this time it was gone 2pm and i wasn’t sure if they had stopped doing food) she jumped up and said yes of course and scurried off to find me a menu. As i took a seat she came back giving me the menu and settled down at the table next to me with her cigarette and her paper, i asked what she would recommend and we decided on the ‘Carpe Diem’ salad, at this point she jumped up and hurtled into the kitchen, to my surprise she was the chef and owner not the waitress, as i sat and watched her work sipping my water her husband arrived with some shopping and was immediately sent out to get some more supplies which she was short of, i had to laugh as she was a typical Chef and he was typically meek and submissive (the complete opposite to her) when the salad came i was over joyed, truly the best salad i have had in ages with local traditional ingredients all beautifully combined and presented. As i ate she continued to sit next to me and we chatted at great length in English about many different topics, it turned out that she had been Oxford educated in Alexandria, i explained to her what i was doing and she told me that she too had been in the same boat once, she had felt exactly the same way as me about her life and the result of her quitting her job had been the lovely little restaurant i sat in that day, it meant the world to me that afternoon and it only reinforced my desire to carry on exploring and rediscovering myself, after some hours and another amazing meal of local traditional Macedonian food i made my excuses and went back to my flat feeling amazing (even if i was very full of food)
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts, any feedback is welcome of course.