Inbetween the Seasons…

As green turns to brown......

As green turns to brown…… (Kind of like Autumn and Winter hugging!)

I have just  been on a lovely Autumnal walk: green and already turned orange leaves; sunshine that has refused to bugger off from summer; a chill in the air to show that winter is about to turn up on our doorstep. Autumn is obviously a season in itself but I like to think of it as an in-between stage of the year – like the weather reflected today – a gradual blend from Summer to Winter.

As I strolled along the leave laden paths, I thought to myself as being a person who doesn’t like change. I have always thought this. Then I thought about it a little deeper and realised change is a part of life and can be a change for the better or a change for the worse. If I am having a hard time, of course I crave for a change to happen so that things can improve. Yet, if life is swimming along well, I don’t want anything to change – but of course it will; as that is life.

On a more general note though, I have never liked important changes in life – even if I know they are for the better and I have chose to make them. For example: moving house, starting new jobs, friends moving away etc. I get quite emotional and unsettled by this change and need a lot of time to adjust. Autumn is my favourite season for this reason: the gradual change from lazy summer days to cold, snuggly (or panic-stricken Christmas shopping) days. Autumn is the our settling in period. We get used to the days not being hot (not sure we actually got used to this anyway!) and as the leaves change from green; to yellow; to brown, our clothes change from bikinis; to t-shirts; to jumpers (or thermal underwear). Autumn helps us to mourn Summer and prepare for Winter  – kind of a rebound season 😉  – Well I truly embrace it.

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life.’

This is a Carol Ann Duffy quote from her poem Mean Time. (I wrote a blog about this idea last year: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/time-to-write/)

I always think about this poem at this time of year; as the clocks slide back, to me, it is  officially Autumn. We have set the clocks in motion for Winter to approach – we have our extra hour as a treat and then have to endure the darker nights. I think in the UK, we have a way of dealing with all this. A way to mentally prepare for this looming Winter – and that behaviour starts now, in the glorious Autumn. We plan and buy. We start to make plans for Christmas: the parties; the actual day; Boxing day; presents and cards; maybe even as far as New Year’s Eve. In the depth of the dark, bitter cold Winter days, we want and need something to look forward to: so we plan. I think by buying things to embrace Winter, also helps to get used this idea of this changing season. People seem to get just as excited at buying knee boots as they do bikinis four months before. I know I do! Autumn is a time to buy things to help you enjoy Winter: a mug for your hot chocolate; a new hot water bottle; a party outfit; a fleece throw for your bed – just as all the sunglasses, beach towels and shorts go away to the back of the wardrobe until next year. We use this in-between season to prepare for the next one – and we need it.

I also love Autumn because it is my birthday – so I feel a personal change too. Ready for the next numerical year of my life! I love the fact I was born in Autumn; what’s a bigger change than a baby? And I’m sure my Mum felt that change (almost) 28 years ago! In fact, I like to call November ‘birthday season’ as lots of my friends and family also have their birthdays in that month, so it is a time of celebration. (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/a-day-of-birth/) October has a been an odd month for me this year: I haven’t drank alcohol and have hardly been out – mainly stuck in a DIY hell at home! Haha…. so I am looking forward to fully enjoying the next part of this in-between season and doing lots of socialising and partying – all in preparation for Winter’s Christmas partying of course! 😉

Autumn2

The sun reminding us it’s still here….

 Autumn1

So embrace this in-between season. Enjoy the changing of colours and temperatures. Relish the smells of chestnuts, warm winter soups and the leather of your new, knee boots. Plan and buy and prepare…. we have a whole season to do it. Before Winter gets us!

Autumn7

XSXS

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Would you be wonderful if it wasn’t for the weather?

I do like a positive thought on a Monday evening to kick start the week. My Monday has been a little challenging with certain things at work and then, when cooking dinner, my result:

Spaghetti a la cremation!

Spaghetti a la cremation!

So I figured I needed to focus on some optimistic thoughts (and put my culinary skills firmly away for the evening). And don’t we all need to focus on the good things in life? All the time? Look on the bright side, look for that silver lining…. to add another cliché…. this sometimes is like ‘looking for a needle in a haystack’ but it is vital that we do.  My title for this post Would you be wonderful if it wasn’t for the weather? are lyrics to a Corrs song Would you be happier? It draws on the ideas that if one thing was different/better/improved then would we be happier? My conclusion, and the song’s is the same: no. Life is never perfect. So we can’t have a perfect life. One of my favourite quotes on this subject:

postive

Something is always going to wrong and there are going to be things to face. Your day may be punctuated with annoying little chores; it doesn’t mean it can’t be a good day. You’ll look back in twenty years’ time and not remember that tedious form you had to fill in, but the great joke you heard at lunch. Or even remembering the negative things in a positive way. E.g. my spaghetti incident above. It was a bit scary at the time and it was quite worrying that I froze in the midst of the emergency blaze… but as soon as my boyfriend got home, it was a joke; a funny story and one to be shared.

The irritating things in life aren’t going anywhere, unfortunately. We have to co-exist and rise above them. I’m in a quotey mood:

happy

We all have the same shit thrown at us, but it how you deal with it that affects your happiness. Would I be happier if the weather was better? I am the first to say that a little sunshine makes you feel better, but all in all, I wouldn’t. My day would be the same whatever the elements decide to do. Sorry, I can feel another quote  resurfacing… just call me a walking quote dictionary:

rain

So some positive quotes for a Monday evening and also some tough love; just get on with it and make the best of it! Causing a small kitchen fire this evening, hasn’t made my day worse. It has actually given me something to laugh at and something to blog about 😉

Keep looking for the positives!

Walking before I can run…

On Sunday, I completed a 17 and a half mile walk (18 and a half if you include the walk from the car park to the start!) and I survived! In fact my feet had no blisters at the end and my legs didn’t ache (as much as I thought)….so as well as bowing down to my walking boots, I also began to think that I had dreamt the whole thing! But no. I, along with six other poor sods, battled through the windy, wet and cold country side and left our mark in aid of Border Collie Trust. And I have pictures as evidence 😉

peak 4

We did the High Peak Trail….

Yeh, we did the High Peak Trail and boy did it start ‘high’ – or at least we had to get ‘high’ (I’m talking in terms of height, not drugs here lol) The first 2 and 1/2 miles were uphill and VERY steep! They were they worst 2 and 1/2 miles and I’m so glad they were at the beginning! Phew…. we had cupcake treats at the top as a reward. Burn some calories and then use them up is my motto 😀

The best reward for an uphill slog!

The best reward for an uphill slog!

 

After that, we had the comforting thought of ‘only’ 15 miles to go!!! Haha. I joked that at least it wasn’t 30- always looking on the bright side me …. and I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel…..

......Literally!

……Literally!

It was so wet for most of the walk and our motto ‘it will brighten up soon!’ soon gave way to our new motto of constantly calling out ‘cyclist!’ every few minutes as crazy cyclists rallied past in the muddy, saturated conditions. As for splashing us, we didn’t mind about that because we honestly couldn’t get any wetter, dirtier or  colder – but we did feel that getting run over by the two-wheeled beasts would somehow make the walk a negative experience 😉 so we moved aside!

CYCLIST!!!!

CYCLIST!!!!

Luckily, the weather bearing all elements, our drenched clothes also managed to dry themselves in the raging winds. We also enjoyed a whole minute of sunshine too at one point 😉 It was great, though, to know you were doing something for a good cause and out in the fresh air getting exercise. We got to  see some fantastic scenery (masked by mist a little I’ll admit)….

 

peaks

The perfect peaks

So all in all, it was a fun experience and I guess I would do it again (don’t ask me for a good while though!) The last mile was the hardest (after those first 2 and a half) and it felt like there was an eternity of walking to the end of the world! I saw our helpers and got all excited and then realised they were walking the last mile with us!! But we finally made it….. wine, a nice warm car and toilets all awaiting us 🙂

Wahoooo

Wahoooo

 

If you would still like to donate to the Border Collie Trust (now you know I have actually completed it!) then go the Just Giving Page: http://www.justgiving.com/highpeakwalk – every penny helps to rehome dogs every year, so it would be very much appreciated! 🙂

To see a previous post about my volunteering for the Border Collie Trust, go to: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/barking-mad/

If you have the chance to do a sponsored walk, go for it! As I say, I’d do it again, but not a run. No, I’ll stick with walking 🙂

XSXS

A White Canvas

House-Covered-In-Snow-485x728

Snow is on the way and, you know what it’s like, everyone is talking about it. In shops, they are panic buying for food (that surely they can get from a shop within walking distance if the weather is that bad!) or concerned with getting home (I must admit I am a little worried about getting to work and more importantly back tomorrow!) and people always have to announce it too, don’t they? Like they are the first to see it, or have to have the first Facebook post about it. It becomes a boastful event – who has had the most inches? 😉 How long has it been happening whereyou are? ‘Oh really? An hour of snow? But has it settled yet? Oh it has here!’ This photo on Facebook made me laugh the other day:

So very true - and when all the statuses were announcing the 'amazing' news, I shared this!

So very true – and when all the statuses were announcing the ‘amazing’ news, I shared this!

But if we forget all the annoying things related to snow. Like how crazy it sends people, how it can ruin our plans or make us fall over and break our necks… and just focus on the beauty of it. Take a read of my poem:

White Canvas
The white sky is urgent and full
bursting at every cloud,
anticipation hangs in the air,
for precipitation in its frozen form.

As the sweet flakes begin to fall,
Like icing sugar onto a land of cake,
silence now hangs in the air
and all is calm and serene.

The ground eagerly awaits
as the icy droplets soak like a sponge.
but as the sprinkles become a shower,
The earth begins to refuse its drink.

At first a light covering gleams,
Then brighter, thicker, more defined.
The blank canvas untouched as a virgin
as the world takes a gentle pause.

I hope it helps to capture the feelings that we get when snow is about to fall, actually falls and then the moment when it is all pretty, untouched and seems so precious. There is a definite magic in the air when snow is in the process of falling. Then we just have to decide: what are we going to do with our white canvas? 🙂

XSXS

A Dry Month

Well, it has been a dry month for me. I know, you are thinking: ‘What?! It’s rained loads and now snow is on the way! It is nothing but dry!’ Yes, indeed the weather had been full of fluid, wet precipitation. My mouth has only seen liquid of the non-alcoholic kind though 😦 . I mentioned in a previous post that  I am doing a Dry-athlon. This means that I can’t touch alcohol for the whole of January. It also means that I am helping to drink all the extra water that we have upon our hands; as normally I would be drinking wine instead 😉

I’ve managed the first week OK. When I say ‘OK’, I mean that I have eaten more chocolate and cake than usual in order to have an alternative ‘treat’ and every time we have a nice dinner, I have cranberry juice in a wine glass  – just so I can pretend ;-). It also turns out that I can be ‘drunk’ without alcohol. I am silly due to my personality apparently!

But in all seriousness, I am managing and as much as it sounds like it, I am NOT an alcoholic! If I was, you would be the first to know 😉 It is quite nice actually to  not have hangovers. Being the designated driver, too, means that you know how and when you are getting home! Luckily though, I don’t have any big nights out this month because I don’t think I could do the whole dancing without a big drink. I just feel too aware of myself and like I’m all limbs! So, I’ll save the dancing for inside my living room, curtains firmly closed with a wine glass of  juice in my hand. 🙂

Now, here comes the predictive and annoying bit. The Dry-athlon is in aid of Cancer Research. I have not registered myself but I am doing the deed as part of a team with my sister and uncle’s wife so I would appreciate it if any of you could spare the odd £1 – like when you don’t have that shot before leaving the bar – of if you go for that single rather than the double – or you just like giving to a good cause! Then click the links below and Cancer Research will benefit from my dry, dry month! 😀

http://www.justgiving.com/dryathlete-emily-gray2013

http://www.justgiving.com/dryathlete-cheryl-tagg

Also take a look at the crazy people doing this challenge and more info about it:https://www.facebook.com/#!/Dryathlon

Are any of you out there doing it? Finding it hard?

Thanks to any of you that do give and Good Luck to anyone doing it! Only 22 days to go 😉

XSXS

Deliveries from Down Under

I am sat here talking to my Aussie relative on Facebook who is waiting to be picked up for her flight to the UK! Very exciting and gave me  a great topic to talk about today.

We didn’t know we had these relatives just over a decade ago. She was researching her family tree (on my Mum’s side) and found relatives in Australia. This wasn’t a great surprise as we have lots of relatives over there – or ‘rellies’ as the Aussies call it! – my gran’s sister for one and her family and also aunties etc.  But I think of them as aunt, uncle and cousins. Can never have enough aunties can ya? 😉 Anyway, we didn’t know who they were to start with and had the name of my Aussie aunty’s great-grandmother. But my Aussie aunty just so happened to phone my gran one day. She found the surname and randomly circled some of them and it was her fourth call that gained her some extra family. Turns out her great-grandmother, who we had the name of, was the sister of my granddad’s granddad! Woah.

I remember thinking it seemed a little bit too good to be true and felt quite wary. We started talking to them via phone and email. They seemed really nice and down to earth but it still felt quite surreal. They planned to visit the next year, which was 2003. I remember feeling a bit odd about them staying at my gran’s. I thought ‘god they could be criminals – you hear about the aboriginals!’ It was the whole not meeting them thing and of course they had to visit in order for us to get to know them. My aunty came on her own that visit and we all got on well and she met everyone she needed to meet and saw lots of the UK.

Three years later, we went to visit them. Christmas 2005. I was in my second year at Uni, as I remember I had to take some books with me to study whilst I was there! Christmas was odd in Australia. I got sunburnt on a boat trip on Christmas eve! And we had a BBQ for Christmas day dinner! It was great though and we met they rest of the family. I also got to see santa in shorts, which was a definite novelty! Other things that I thought were odd – there was no proper Marmite and the chocolate didn’t taste as good (even though it said Cadbury’s on the wrapper) and they called flip-flops ‘thongs’. I had to remind myself that they weren’t on about wearing a tiny piece of underwear on the beach! Haha. Upsides of course were meeting the family, the weather (even though it was the coldest summer on record for them – it was still very hot for us Brits!) and seeing come great places.

As for spiders….. my hugest fear ever… I didn’t see any! I was oddly disappointed. I went to the other side of the world and expected to see a huge spider. Maybe it would put the UK ones into perspective or it would have cured my fear, I don’t know. Not one black furry leg in sight! The closest thing to anything scary I saw was a shedded skin of a snake. I hope they don’t bring any with them – I’m not that bothered about seeing them!

As my family get ready to come for a visit tomorrow (my aunty and uncle are both coming this time. My sister went to visit them last year but other than that they haven’t seen us since 2005!) my friend is also coming back to the UK soon after being there for a year. I had this vision of them all being  on the same ‘return to the UK’ plane haha – as if there is only one a year! In reality of course, they are coming weeks apart. My friend, though, was very homesick when she first went to Oz a year ago but soon settled in to life down under and now doesn’t want to come home (with weather like this, I dont blame her!)

But I am very much looking forward to catching up with all the Aussie goss from my friend and family. And asking them if water does in fact go down the plughole the other way over there? People always go on about that don’t they?!

See you tomorrow….(UK and Aussie time!)

xx

Time for Rainy Days and Looming Mondays

Well what a day…  raining all day!! Rubbish! I also can’t believe that it has nearly been a week since we got back off holiday. I can’t decide which went faster; long lazy days in the sun or rainy days of boredom here!

I don’t just have end of holiday blues but also end of six-week holiday blues. Back to work next Monday! I know all you mothers and fathers out there are thinking, ‘Yes just one more week to survive and then I get my house and freedom back!’ I just can’t believe how quickly these last 5 and a half weeks have gone! In some ways though I will be glad to get back to work. I think after a large amount of time off, you sort of lose your purpose in life. I’ve noticed that I am always happier after I have written my blog… it’s like my ‘work’ for the day haha. So thank you for all those out there who are keeping me sane and reading it everyday!

So yes I have started to become bored – and I could blame the weather. But it isn’t just that. Let’s take yesterday as an example. I had to stay in all day to wait for a delivery (which never bloody came, typical!) and I was bored out of my mind. It wasn’t evening raining, in fact it was kind of sunny for part of the day. I think that can make it worse. When it is sunny and you are stuck inside it is like you have no friends to go out and play with or anything fun to do. You feel like the sun is blazing through the windows punishing you into guilt; that you should be out making the most of its rays! Whereas today it has rained all day and at least I could make peace with the fact that it was okay to stay inside as most other people would be!

Maybe I am bored just because I have too much time to fill. Six weeks is a long time for anyone; plenty of time to meet up with people, do those jobs you’ve been wanting to do all year, plan a summer holiday (and go on it!) and you think you will be craving some time to just ‘be’ to watch Tv, go on the computer, read (and give reviews!) etc – but it soon gets boring. I have always been fascinated by the idea of ‘killing time’. That we have so much of it and are trying to murder it. I have this image of myself with a knife stabbing at my day. Odd. And in the next breath, people say ‘life is short’ and they wish they had more time. Seems poor time cannot win! Why would we want to destroy one of the things we cannot buy more of? Something that is so precious. What we really want, is not for time to go quicker, but for something more exciting to happen in that time. My trouble this week is that all of my friends and family are either at work or on holiday! I was asked to meet up with work colleagues on Friday but it was the one day I am busy – I’m taking my Gran to lunch for her birthday! Typical! Time plods on slowly for a week and then wants to get taken up by two things at once.

I decided in the end, that this week, I should just enjoy my free time. I should take pleasure in having nothing to do; as next week I’ll be back at work and my time will be consumed with arrogant teenagers! So I am going to watch the DVDs that I never watch, play on games, do some more writing (I have been writing a book  for over a year – maybe I’ll share sections with you on here one day) and generally embrace and hug my free time – not pull a knife out on it!

So don’t let the rainy days get you down… whether you have work today, tomorrow or Monday don’t let that get you down either. Think of each day you work as a day in lieu for yourself; when it rains, you can sit on your bum guilt free!

See you tomorrow – whatever the weather brings!

XSXS

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