One whole month

Eek- this draft from Friday (which was scheduled to go live at 07:00 on 31 May) never went live. Better late than never.

Wow. One whole month of blogging every day, I think I need a breather! Seriously though, while there have been times when the very last thing I’ve felt like doing is blogging, knowing I’ve committed to the challenge has kept me going when I’ve felt like flagging, and although the topics have taken me outside my comfort zone, I’ve discovered things to write about that I may never have considered before the challenge.

I’m so pleased with the contribution the challenge has made to my blog. It has really kick started it and given me a lot of new ideas as well as enthusiasm. But, I have to say that the best thing has been the sense of support from others in the blogging community. I’ve discovered some fantastic new blogs, and hope that we all keep in touch with each other’s blogging exploits long after May comes to a close. We may no longer be blogging every day, but let’s all keep the enthusiasm and creativity flowing.

So here are a few shout outs to a few people who have been engaging with my blog and have subsequently got me over reading theirs:

Sharon at Sunshine and Celandines

Janey at Is That You Darling

Charlie at Picklersmum

Jen at Gingerella

Lisa-Marie at This Girl Is…

Hannah at Life Beyond Anorexia

One final thank you really must be for Elizabeth at Rosalilium for organising this whole thing. It has been so worthwhile and is very much appreciated- I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. If you’re reading this and are new to Rosalilium, head on over- you’re in for a treat.

And to catch up on one whole month of blogging every day in May…

Day 1- Five Lines

Day 2- Spring is here

Day 3- A Day in the Life

Day 4- Five Fave Blogs

Day 5- Fit and Healthy

Day 6- Bank Holiday Fun (Parts one, two and three!)

Day 7- Pets

Day 8- First Job

Day 9- Social Media

Day 10- Travel Dreams

Day 11- Book Love

Day 12- Collecting

Day 13- Go Green

Day 14- Food Glorious Food

Day 15- Life’s a Lesson

Day 16- Pampering

Day 17- Walk to Work

Day 18- Best Friends

Day 19- Favourite Tradition

Day 20- Newsflash

Day 21- Dream Job

Day 22- Thirteen Year Old You

Day 23- Compliments

Day 24- What’s in Your Fridge

Day 25- Music Love

Day 26- Secret Talent

Day 27- Fantasy Dinner Party

Day 28- Bad Advice

Day 29- Morning Ritual

Day 30- Who Inspires You?

This post represents day thirty one of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

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Who inspires you?

This is a really interesting topic, and one which I would never otherwise have thought about blogging about. In terms of who I find inspiring, it isn’t particular people, but rather their  qualities which I think are inspiring. These qualities make me wish that I at least share some level of these strengths, but if not it is at least something amazing to work towards. Here are a few of the things that really mean something to me in other people.

Compassion– It is so easy not to care. This is a quality I wish I had more myself and is something I really should work on.
Enthusiasm– Nothing inspires me more than someone talking about or doing something with genuine love and enthusiasm.
Motivation– We all struggle to stay motivated from time to time, but some people just seem to always be charging ahead and persisting. Big respect. I like to try and be one of those people, but find it hard to persist sometimes.
Passion– I find people who truly love what they do and want to share their passion with others extremely motivating. In a previous job, one of the directors really, really cared about what they did and how their role could help others. She is one of the strongest women I’ve come across in a business and because of her determination and passion, I built up a huge amount of respect for her.
Commitment– This is a big inspiration to me. Some people can be half-hearted when they want something, but to work at it, stay focussed and committed is a huge inspiration.
Determination– Pretty similar to the above, but sometimes sheer determination is what is required to reach a goal. I am sometimes really bad at this.
Kindness– I like to think this is a quality I have a little of, but can hugely work to be better.
Empowermentof self and others- It is one thing to be empowered yourself, but to inspire others to be so is going that one step further. This I find particularly inspiring in relation to women’s rights and is something I see in strong female role models.
Positivity– Do you ever come across those people who are just always positive and never seem to have a down day or anything bad to say? Whenever I encounter people with such a positive outlook on life I can’t help but feel admiration for them. It is so easy to have a glass half empty attitude at least some of the time and having people who are positive around you really keeps you thinking positive yourself.

This post represents day thirty of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Morning ritual

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I can survive leaving the house without breakfast and even without washing my greasy hair on the days when one more press of the snooze button is must. But the one thing I cannot do without in the morning is a cup of tea. At weekends, I can be a coffee girl, but on a work day there is nothing better to start the day with than a steaming hot cuppa.

I will freely admit that there are many mornings where I have little more than a slurp from the mug before abandoning the rest, brushing my teeth and flying out the door, but somehow even just that one sip makes all the difference to my day.
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So there you have it. My morning ritual. Tea. Mine’s milk, no sugar and preferably made in a teapot.

This post represents day twenty nine of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Bad advice

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I don’t think I can recall a specific piece of bad advice, but what I can recall is a whole host of  unsolicited advice which has been directed at me over the years. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where someone is trying to help by giving you advice without being asked and it may just be me, but that advice is rarely well received.

I think I covered this in my life’s a lesson post, but after I graduated, I got a graduate position, was made redundant 6 months later and then spent close to 4 years figuring out what on earth I wanted to do with my life, working in a series of jobs in the mean time. When you don’t know what you want to do, and aren’t doing what might be expected, you will be amazed that advice on the situation comes from every single, unexpected avenue.

It felt at one point in my life that I could barely meet up with anyone in a more senior, advice giving position without being preached to. I’ve lost count of the amount of patronising suggestions I received regarding getting my life on track and bagging that dream career. And every time, it felt like I was being gradually demeaned and put down just that little bit more than the time before. If that is you right now? Don’t stand for it. It is painfully hard, but stand up for yourself. You can do things differently, and you know what? It only matters what you think. And if you are the advice giver? Remember that the person you are speaking to has probably tried a lot of avenues, so don’t assume they aren’t trying!

Colleagues I’d worked with for a barely a fortnight, relatives who had previously expressed next to no interest in my life path, people I had previously thought of as friends. Everyone suddenly has their two pennies worth of advice to throw your way when you yourself are feeling lost. I found that this constant advice giving got to the point where I hated socialising with anyone other than a limited group of friends who I knew accepted me for me and for what I was doing with my life and most importantly wouldn’t pry. I dreaded any kind of family event and there’s very little I wouldn’t have done to avoid my most hated of phrases ‘So, what are you doing with your life?‘ and being forced to recount the banality of my situation in humiliating detail. this would no doubt be followed by what felt akin to the Spanish Inquisition as to why I wasn’t doing this or hadn’t done that. Oh, and had I thought of this?

So here is my plea. If you are ever asked for advice, and wish to dispense it, please do so in a constructive way and be receptive to the person to whom you are giving advice. If you have something useful to say, say it. Otherwise listen, it may be more help. Unsolicited advice is often given, but well dispensed, good advice can make a world of difference. Just think before you preach and be very sure that what you have to say is of value.

I came across the quote I’ve included in the photo in Baz Luhrmann’s epic Everyone’s Free (to wear sunscreen), a song filled to the brim with great advice. The sentence above is one I wish I had known the meaning of and taken heed of years back. Take note, and next time you are subjected to a tirade of opinion, keep those words in mind. The not so great advice will be do much easier to receive.

This post represents day twenty eight of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Fantasy dinner party

Hmm. This topic leaves a lot to be imagined. I could spend hours deciding on what to eat, drink, listen to and how to set the table. Instead, I will focus on the guest list. I’d like a group of people with mixed opinions, and for interesting conversation. Oh and as for a venue, I’d like us to eat in the conservatory at The Pig. I’ve had my best meals ever at this place.

As for the guest list…

Queen Elizabeth I- This is a no-brainer, and always at the top of my list. She sounds such a pioneering, empowered lady and fiery with it. I don’t have anything in particular I would like to chat about, I think I would just be awe-struck. I am fascinated by Tudor history, and in particular the Elizabethan era so this would be a dream come true. I might tell her to lay off smothering her face in zinc oxide though.

Sir David Attenborough- Sir David seems an absolute legend. I love an Attenborough documentary like no other. I feel I could learn so much from him and just imagine the anecdotes about his travels?

Le Corbusier– The father of modern architecture and a complete chauvinist. I would like to meet him in person to see how much of an arrogant so and so he really was. Oh, and to ask him to admit that Villa E1027 was really the design of Eileen Grey and nothing to do with him.

Laurie Penny– I love Laurie’s articles on the New Statesman website, and they alwas incite lively debate in the comments section. Whilst I don’t always agree with her viewpoint, I generally find her articles refreshing although it does depress me the number of opinionated men that feel the need to shout her down for the sake of it rather than admit she may be right. I also think she and Le Corbusier would really disagree on many, many things which would make for entertaining conversation.

Anne Boleyn– Someone who I think has been tarnished through history. This lady had an amazing intellect and appetite for new ideas to the extent that they eventually led to her downfall. It would be really interesting to hear her ideas about religion and women’s role in society. I would also like her to meet an adult version of the daughter who was left behind aged 2 and a half when Anne was beheaded for treason.

Joseph Cornell– one of my favourite artists. I have no idea of the reasoning behind his fascinating ‘boxes’, nor his obsession with the prima ballerinas of the day, but his work makes him come across as someone I would love to have a chat with. I recently bought a book about his work and fiction inspired by it, which I am looking forward to reading once I get through my Hilary Mantel marathon reading stash (see here).

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg– I don’t know much about Queen Victoria’s husband, nor how factually accurate The YoundgVictoria is, but he comes across as such a lovely man in the film and seemed to have really unique ideas about how to solve the problems of the era. Writing this has reminded me that I really wanted to learn more about this man- how better to do so than in person?

Camille Pisarro– I came across a quote of Pisarro’s on Instagram a few months back and it has really stuck with me: blessed are those who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. I find this idea fascinating as I tend to see beauty all around me in a lot of everyday things. Until I saw this quote it had never crossed my mind that not everyone sees the world in this way. I know barely anything about this man but his take on life seems interesting and I could do with a philosophical angle to balance out the stronger opinions of other guests!

This post represents day twenty six of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Secret talent

I have a secret talent. It didn’t used to be so secret, and it isn’t something I turn my hand to very often any more, but I am quite good at making jewellery. And photographing it- I think I might like that more than the making!

I taught myself the basics of jewellery making years back, one summer when I’d helped out on a jewellery market stall and thought ‘that looks easy enough, I’ll have a go’. I then got seriously into jewellery making when I got a job in a bead shop (which I hated, most of the time) after being made redundant from my first ‘proper’ post uni job. I sold a lot of jewellery outside of work, and got a lot of compliments on what I had made, but making to fill a craft stall made me lose the creativity and feel like I was churning out a production line. I still have my box of supplies, but I think I’ve needed the break. I’ll go back to the beads one day, but for now please enjoy the images.

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This post represents day twenty seven of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Music love

My life in music- a decade’s discography. A tad late (this should have been Saturday’s post), I’ve been trawling the internet archives to find release dates and hits of the past 10 years. I’ve added a single and album from each year that brings back memories for me. Here goes…

2003

Single: Stereophonics- Maybe Tomorrow     Album: Coldplay- Coldplay Live 2003

2004


Single: Katie Melua- The closest thing to crazy     Album: The Killers- Hot Fuss

2005


Single: Arctic Monkeys- I bet you look good on the dancefloor     Album: Kaiser Chiefs- Employment

This was my first year at university, and Arctic Monkeys breaking onto the scene was huge at the time. I went to uni in Sheffield, and this song was massive and I don’t love it any less all these years on.

2006


Single: Gnarls Barclay- Crazy     Album: Snow Patrol- Eyes Open

I remember this Gnarls Barclay single being everywhere that summer, and the ink-blot style video being practically played on a loop on the music channels. Good memories though, of sunshine and making new friendships.

2007


Single: Rihanna- Umbrella     Album: Stereophonics- Pull the Pin

Does anyone else remember this one? The summer this song was number one forever and ever- then it rained forever and ever?!

2008


Single: Plain White Ts-Hey There Delilah     Album: Hot Chip- Made in the Dark

2009


Single: Lady Gaga- Just dance     Album: Reverend and the makers- A French Kiss in the Chaos

This is my all time favourite album- it never fails to pick me up and I’ll often listen to the final track as a manifesto to myself.

2010


Single: Owl city- fireflies     Album: Biffy Clyro- Only Revolutions

2011


Single: Adele- Rolling in the Deep     Album: Bruno Mars- Doo-wops and Hooligans

2012


Single: LMFAO- Sexy and I know it     Album: Emeli Sandé- Our version of events

I think 2012 was the year of Emeli Sandé, no? From the Olympics opening ceremony to closing ceremony, she was there! As for LMFAO, I absolutely HATE that song. But seeing some close friends singing along repeatedly at their wedding last year and looking so, so happy means that is what I think of whenever I now hear it. I think they had the DJ play it 3 times over that one evening.

I feel this post is a bit of a cop out, but this topic has really got me stumped.

This post represents day twenty five of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Compliments

 

 

This is a difficult one. I don’t think that I have any stand out compliments that people have particularly made over the years, so instead I’d like to share my thoughts on the subject.

I don’t take compliments well. In general, I will mumble a swift thank you, perhaps feel happy about it if what was said really means something to me, then swiftly forget and move on to whatever I do next. I do think that compliments are a dangerous thing, and I don’t think they should be taken lightly. There is nothing worse than an insincere compliment. Genuine and well meant compliments are, I think, one of the best things a person can receive. Compliments that are said for the sake of it are pretty obvious and not really worth the breath to say them.

Myself? I don’t dish out compliments without sincerity. If I compliment someone, it will be because I genuinely mean it. I’m not one for saying what is expected to stoke someone’s ego. I will only say something positive if I truly mean it.

If you read this and want to compliment me in future- don’t force it. It is easy to tell when a compliment is genuine and heartfelt. For me, there is no greater compliment than someone liking something about you, or something you have done and expressing their appreciation for it when you know they really mean it.

 

I can’t be the only one who feels this way?

 

This post represents day twenty three of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Thirteen Year Old You

I’ve been trawling the memory bank as well as the photograph albums for this one since I saw the topic listed on the #BEDM calendar. I realised that I turned 13 in October of 1999, meaning that the majority of my first teenage year fell neatly alongside the turn of the new millennium- giving me a nice point of reference to remember what happened when I was thirteen. Trip to the Millennium Dome, anyone?

I travelled quite a lot in 2000, it would seem. Not only did I spend my fourteenth birthday on Rhodes, but I had already travelled to Rome, Egypt and a host of other Greek Islands by then- thanks for the travel Mum and Dad! I came across this photograph in a memory album my sister (left, below) made me for my 21st birthday (which thankfully contains relatively few photos of my awkward teenage years) and it sparked off an idea for this post.

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That’s my lovely sister, Millie, and I on the tiny balcony of the flat we were staying in when we visited Rome in January 2000. We were lucky enough to stay with my Mum’s Australian god-daughter, and my second-cousin-once-removed, Delia when she and her then boyfriend now husband Mark lived right in the centre of Rome. From what I remember, her apartment was a short stroll from Piazza Navona and with an amazing Gelateria en route. My over-riding memory of this trip is somehow managing to accidentally time a trip to the Vatican with epiphany. Millennium epiphany. Needless to say, we were a little bemused strolling into St Peter’s Square which was filled to the brim with people, but once the penny dropped and we made the connection, we decided to hang around for a while, and saw Il Papa drive past in his pope-mobile. Not something you see everyday.

Whilst I have been to Rome, pretty much since I was at university I’ve felt that now I have more of an understanding of Roman architecture, I would like to go back as an adult and see the sights properly, so here’s a whistle-stop tour of my then and now Roma hit list.

Stationery shops

Then?

I have quite a vivid memory of my sister and I posing for a photograph by the Barcaccia at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, but this isn’t really a memory connected to the steps at all, but I remember it because we then went on to visit a labyrinth of a stationery shop somewhere close by. At thirteen, I was (and still am) a real stationery junkie and couldn’t wait to take home an armful of new notebooks and other treats. Actually, I do this on pretty much all foreign trips- I’ve lost count of the number of Agatha Ruiz Della Prada notebooks from Mallorca that I built up- just give me a nice quality, square printed paper and I am there. In this particular instance, I remember a whole range of coloured, squared paper notebooks with different coloured vegetables corresponding to the colour of pad- pink pepper, green tomato etc. I chose an A5 yellow aubergine number, which I actually found the other day with its last few pages intact.

Now?

I would like to plan a tour of stationery shops in the city. The Italians do beautiful notebooks like no other, and I’ve got a beautiful, leather, hand-bound sketchbook that the boyfriend bought me from Venice that I am just too scared to use as the book is so beautiful. Il Papiro sounds a must-visit stop on my stationery tour though.

The Colosseum

Then?

Whilst we didn’t go in, I do remember walking past a couple of times and I really vividly remember cats. Lots of cats. I think someone fed a lot of leftover pasta somewhere around the Colosseum outskirts, and the local feral cat population went crazy for it. Seriously, the cats were everywhere!

Now?

Although I would also like to see the cats, if they are still there, I would really love to go back and actually visit the Colosseum properly. I don’t think I can appreciate the scale or the age of this stadium until I am there in person. The main building was completed in 80AD. 80! This thing is not far off two millennia in age and it is pretty much still standing. I just find it amazing how developed the Romans really were, and how incredible it is that the skills they had were lost for so long after the fall of the Roman emperor.

Pantheon

Then?

I remember going in (I think it may even have been raining at the time), walking round, looking at some of the periphery sculptures, looking up and thinking, ‘that’s interesting- the roof has a hole in it’. Teenagers have an interesting thought process. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit this, but I really do remember that there was a jewellery shop quite close by that reminded me a little of an Italian Accessorize. Tragic that I remember that shop more than a true masterpiece of structural engineering.

Now?

I studied this building in detail for a project at uni, and it really is proof of how incredible the Romans really were. This is a little more recent than the Colosseum given that it was completed in 125AD, but still positively ancient in real terms. The Romans invented concrete, something that we didn’t manage to resurrect until 1756. I think you can see from the section above that the roof is a perfect half sphere, something very rarely seen in a dome. Not only this, but there is a spherical hole or oculus at the top of the dome- a real structural difficulty-and the rest of the building is proportional. If you mirrored that dome, the other half would fit perfectly within the other half of the building. Amazingly, the Romans made the roof out of poured concrete which was completely un-reinforced. They managed to do this, through changing aggregates through the pouring- heavy at the bottom, light at the top- as well as by using ceramic vases within the concrete towards the oculus to reduce the weight. Truly, truly incredible. I suppose they did also have slaves to build it for them. This was also the largest dome ever built until 1436, and still is the largest non-reinforced concrete dome. Sorry if you don’t find the structural blurb interesting, but  think it is an absolute wonder!

Trevi Fountain

Then?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I don’t really remember the fountain at all. I seem to recall that we stopped by for a photo, and to throw in a coin and make a wish, but  don’t remember anything definite which is a shame.

Now?

As well as visiting the famous fountain, I’d like to time my visit with the fruit and vegetable market in Piazza di Trevi to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies. As with stationery shops, I love to visit foreign markets (or markets of any kind really) and this one looks perfect. An excuse to brush on my non-existent Italian too!

Other

Then?

I really vividly remember going somewhere (I think just off Piazza Campo dei Fiori) with this amazing forced perspective garden. I’ve tried searching online and can’t seem to find anything about it, but I remember that visit well, and if you come across something that sounds like this, it was well worth a visit.

I also remember the umbrella sellers. As soon as a drop of rain hit the pavement, out they would come by the bucket load trying to sell their wares to unsuspecting tourists!

I remember eating a lot of gelato even though it was January, and I seem to remember that the Cherry Dolce Latte flavour (think extra creamy cherry ripple, mmm) from a Gelateria which I think was just off Piazza dei Fiori. I don’t recall the name but if I go back to Rome, I am straight at the front of the queue for another gelato. The Italians know their ice cream. On a foodie note, I do really remember Delia’s cooking. We had a delicious cooked fennel recipe, which was the first time I’d eaten fennel that wasn’t raw, and also a really simple pasta dish with lots of garlic, basil and fried cherry tomatoes- yum. I’ll have to try that recipe out with the bowl of cherry toms sitting in my kitchen.

Now? 

Inspired by a quick root through the Lonely Planet online guide to Rome, I seriously want to stroll around the streets of Trastevere. LP’s article tells me that this is a charming medieval neighbourhood with a fiery temperament. From the photograph below, it reminds me so much of scenes towards the end of Fellini’s Roma, and for that reason alone I would like to go. My favourite parts of visiting Venice were wandering around non-tourist neighbourhoods near the Biennale grounds, and I would love to explore Trastevere at a similar leisurely pace. To be honest, the LP guide to A perfect day in Trastevere sounds just that- perfect.

I would also rather like to spot one of these:

Not forgetting the Roman Architecture. I would love to visit this city for that reason alone. Just walking around, the beauty of every building was just not appreciated by the thirteen year old me. I love the age of this city and the slightly scruffy edge some of the streets have, but it seems such a characterful city, that just exploring it on foot would satisfy my curiosity, not even with a plan in mind other than an amble, a stop for a cup of espresso and lots of photographs. People watching from an outside table with a glass of wine would also be a pretty ideal pastime for me.

Finally, I would really like to visit the Vatican on a day when the square is less full, and there is time to explore the museums. This staircase alone looks reason enough for a visit:

I’ve well and truly given myself the travel bug here and I suspect that I may need to return to Rome in the not too distant future. Food and architecture seem to be the trip themes. I’m not sure I really want to admit to this (and I will freely admit that Dan Brown is no literary genius) but I was really quite captured by Angels and Demons, so perhaps a few visits to the featured churches wouldn’t go amiss either!

Image credits are all linked- click each image for the source.

This post represents day twenty two of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium

Dream job

I’m currently one of those lucky people who loves their job. Ok, it is stressful and at times I have to deal with a lot of crap, but all in all, I really wouldn’t change it (except maybe a permanent contract and upping the wages a bit). I work as a conservation adviser, which means I get to deal with something I really love- the world around us- on a daily basis. Whilst a lot of the time, my job is still desk based, most weeks I get to go out and about at least once. Yesterday was one of those days- undertaking a site assessment in a woodland. During this, we happened across this beautiful bluebell glade, and as I had my camera, I thought it would be the ideal thing to share for this post.

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Yesterday was one of those pinch yourself days, where you can’t quite believe that you’re getting paid to do something you love. What summed it up for me recently was around a fortnight ago. I was visiting a nature reserve within my patch with one of the wardens. It was a beautiful, sunny day and as we were walking the site we passed a man who said ‘Hi‘. We commented on how nice a day it was and the man replied: ‘ I know, so much better than being at work, eh?‘.

I don’t mean to be smug about loving my job. It probably isn’t my dream job per se, but it is 100% my dream right now job. I’ve spent the past 5 years since I graduated working in a string of  jobs that were rubbish- some worse than others-or not what I wanted to be doing, so having a job that I enjoy really means a huge amount to me and I’ve worked incredibly hard to be good at what I do. If you’re stuck where I felt I was a year ago- persist. You will get there. You will find the job that you’re looking for if work hard to get there and focus on what it is you truly want, and what makes you happy. Good luck.

This post represents day twenty one of Blog Every Day in May #BEDM with Rosalilium