Friendship is a funny thing isn’t it.

You can be very good friends with someone and then drift apart for no real reason, it just happens. And sometimes, if you meet that person later in life, you find you have nothing to say. Somehow things have changed and there is nothing in common anymore.

Sometimes people can get upset at a lack of contact from a friend but sometimes it is as if the years in between just don’t exist.

Yesterday I met up with a school friend that I have seen just once in the last 30 years.

We were friends at school and then went our separate ways when we left school.

We met at a small reunion three years ago, in a pub with lots of other people and lots of ‘hello, what have you been doing for the last 27 years?’ conversations going on.

Since then we have had contact on facebook and that’s about it.

But when I met up with Sarah yesterday, there was no awkwardness – it was as if the 30 years in between just melted away. We talked for ages and went to visit her son and granddaughter so I could take a few photos for her.

There were no recriminations about losing touch, it was a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable day.


I have taken loads of photographs of her beautiful granddaughter Ruby, which I now plan to edit, put on a disk and send to her. I want to make sure they are the best they can be and I really hope she likes them.

Sarah lives in London’s East End but I didn’t have time to explore yesterday. I’m going to have to go back and have a good look around because it looked amazing and it’s not an area I know well.

We then went to Hornchurch to see her family.

On the way home, I had to find somewhere to pull over and get the camera out because this was what the sunset looked like.

Look at those colours. How beautiful is that?

Just about summed up my day perfectly really.

“Today is my birthday and all that I want

“Is to dig through this big box of pictures in my kitchen till the daylight’s gone.”

Actually, that’s not entirely true. It is my birthday, but the rest of it is just a couple of lines from a Sugarland song called The very last Country song – I’m a closet country and western fan :)

But let’s catch up with yesterday first … and we did actually stir ourselves to get out and take a walk. We went to Bullwell Hall Park, somewhere I haven’t been before, and while Man busied himself trying to take photos of an elusive pheasant, I looked at the wider countryside and the colours. They were beautiful.


And I really loved the colours of the sunlight coming through the trees when you are in woodland.

Today we are heading to Bradford to visit the National Media Museum. This is number 43 on the Fifty before Fifty challenge list and it will be the first one of the list to be completed :)

Actually, it will be the second because for my birthday Man has bought me a year’s membership to the Royal Photographic Society – and that is number 4 on the list. What an amazing present.

He also thought he’d try and cheat at the one item on the list he thinks he is not going to enjoy.

Number 50 is knit Man a jumper and make him wear it.

So Man bought me this.

He reckons if I knit myself my perfect boyfriend and he’s already wearing a jumper, that means I have no need to knit a Man jumper and make him wear it! Nice try sweetheart but it’s my list and I make the rules :)

Man also bought me this … now how much fun does this look?

In a previous post and my desire to one day own a tortoise, I described visiting the home of an aged great aunt and how she had let me completely ruin a valuable mint-condition 70 year old book by pressing out all the characters for a theatre and playing with them.

Well this is the modern-day version. It’s got scenery and push out characters and street furniture and cars, planes and helicopters and you film it on your mobile phone. What fun. I think it is lovely that he remembered something like that :)

And this year I get two birthdays … I get another one when I get home next week from the girls. How lucky am I?






Clouds rolling in at Beacon Hill on Friday.

Well the Fifty before Fifty challenge is on, so I thought I’d give you a little update as to how it’s going (this is mainly because I spent the vast majority of my day yesterday in my pjs having a very, very lazy day and therefore have nothing else to say!)

Anyone who needs a refresher, the original Fifty before Fifty post is here.

So, as tomorrow is my 47th birthday, I officially have three years in which to complete my self-imposed challenges.

At number 2 in the list is read two books a month (72 books in total). Well, so far I have completed Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts. I have previously read several Picoult novels and mostly I have enjoyed them.

This was ok but it didn’t really have an ending … it just stopped. I remember saying to a reporter at work once “stop writing “ends” at the end of your story. I know it’s ended because there are no more words.” Well with this novel, I felt there should have been more words. As far as I could see, it hadn’t ended. Well, you win some, you lose some.

In the days when I used to buy my own birthday presents, my birthday would usually find me sitting in a bookshop (often on the floor) surrounded by a big pile of books and I could take all day deciding which I was going to buy. Once I actually read one in the bookshop and returned it to the shelf before I left, which is probably not what a bookshop wants from its customers.

I always made sure I chose at least one book by an author of whom I had never heard. It was in this way I discovered Haruki Murakami, Amelie Nothomb and Ismail Kadare, now three of my favourite writers.

Now I read on my iphone and I have a collection of more than 800 books on there. I am currently reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho and finding it altogether  more satisfying than Ms Picoult.

So 1.5 out of 72 so far :)

Numbers 9, 10 and 11 respectively are write a children’s book, get a short story published and gain a new qualification. And at number 38 we have write a novel.

Well yesterday I discovered – from those fabulous people at the Open University – a lovely thing called Open Learning. Check this out

It is packed full of free tutorials on all sorts of subjects and they are all bargainously free. I like free.

So I started working through their creative writing modules. I had fun with a plot generator. You write down the numbers 0 to 9 in one column, in the next you get a friend to give you ten types of people and/or careers, in the next column you get someone to give you ten locations and in the next ten objects. The final column is filled with motivators (love, survival, power). Apparently there are only seven and you have to use some twice.

You now have a numbered grid. Then you get people to give you a random four digit number -0000 to 9999 – and voila, you have a character, location, object and motivator as a story prompt. Fun, fun, fun.

I’m not sure I can gain a new qualification out of this, but it is a start.

At number 15 we have lose four stone – well I’m half a stone down so far :) and very pleased I am too. We will gloss over the ‘stop smoking’ at number 16 (sorry mum) cos I haven’t started on that one yet.

The ‘get more than 100 photographs accepted by a stock photo agency’ is falling down slightly because the buggers keep refusing them! More practice needed.

But I spent a lot of time practicing number 46 yesterday (become expert in Photoshop) and had a lot of fun trying some new things with some old photos – see yesterday’s post.

And, finally, at number 50, we have knit  a jumper for Man. Well here it is.

As you can see, it is a work in progress. The front (the first bit I’ve done) is currently 2.5 inches long and all I can say is that it is a good job I have given myself three years for this.

So, nothing on the list is so far complete – but I have made a start on several of them.

Maybe I should leave the next update until I have actually achieved something :)


Gorgeous daughters one and two

It’s gorgeous daughter number two’s birthday today. She’s 20. That means I don’t have children anymore, I have adults.

This is a photo of the two gorgeous ones taken at the weekend by GD1s boyfriend John at a festival in Brighton.

In many ways Kerry, the eldest, and Becca (aka Pud), the youngest, are very similar. In others they are very different.

They share a lot of attributes … they work hard, they play hard, they laugh lots, they take the mickey out of everyone, including each other, and expect people to do the same to them, they’re unbelievably entertaining, especially when they perform as a double act, and they are each other’s favourite person. They are extremely close and I am forever amazed and delighted by their relationship with each other.

They didn’t have the easiest, most uncomplicated childhood but I am very proud of the people they have become and their experiences have made them strong.

About four years ago – so Kerry would have been 18 and Becca 16 – we were approaching Becca’s prom. I had plans to make her prom dress, money was tight at the time, so we trundled along to this prom dress shop to try on some styles, with the thought that I would then find a pattern in the same style and replicate what she chose.

She tried on a couple of dresses and then found what she was looking for. It was bright green, fitted like a glove and looked absolutely stunning. It was about £400 I think and she wanted it.

But she didn’t ask for it because she knew I couldn’t afford it. She didn’t bat an eyelid, she just took it off and we went home.

We all knew, however, that she desperately wanted this dress and she looked beautiful in it. We wanted her to have it as well. But I was in extremely difficult financial circumstances at the time and I just couldn’t afford it.

When we got home Kerry disappeared upstairs. She came down and asked me if I could afford half of the dress if we could spread the payments out a bit. I said I probably could.

Before I knew it, she had contacted the dress shop and arranged a payment plan. She paid half and I paid half over a couple of months. And as I remember, this 18 year old also paid for her little sister’s prom shoes, the deposit for the car and other stuff, just so her sister could have the best Prom night she could have.

When we watched Becca go to her prom, Kerry was just as proud of Becca as I was … and I was incredibly proud of her.

They might not have had the most conventional upbringing, but you would be hard pushed to find sisters with a stronger relationship.


I’m running a bit late this morning.

Once again, it’s been very busy. I thought we were doing ok at work yesterday, but once again it all slowed up at the end of the day and I didn’t get away till gone 7pm.

Two more days left before my fortnight off and I can’t wait. Mooching is in order. Work on the list of fifty before fifty lol … I’m gonna get those knitting needles out!

The patchwork quilt I intend to make with recycled material from charity shops and car boot sales. I like the idea of having something really multi-coloured and multi patterned.

It’s gorgeous daughter number two’s birthday on Tuesday, she’s going to be 20.

However did I get old enough to have a youngest child who’s 20? But age is just a state of mind and in my mind I’m 20 too :) – although a lot of people would say I’m probably not that grown up.



My parents bought me a camper van … apparently I get a real one when they win the lottery :)

The other day I was reading through some favourite blogs and a line caught my eye.

It said fifty before fifty.

Fifty challenges, things to see, achieve, do before you reach the age of fifty.

Well my countdown clock is ticking away at the side of my blog, so why not?

… and then maybe I’ll give myself five years to do fifty five challenges before I’m fifty five, and sixty challenges before I’m sixty in the next five years, there’s always going to be more things I want to see, do or experience.

But first (I’m getting ahead of myself again) fifty before I’m fifty. I sense a new category coming on here.

In no particular order (drum roll please)

  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Read two books a month (that’s 72 before my 50th birthday)
  3. Travel the coast of Britain in a camper van
  4. Become a member of the Royal Photographic Society
  5. Take Man to Paris
  6. Get married
  7. Visit every castle in England
  8. Hold a photographic exhibition
  9. Write a children’s book
  10. Get a short story published in a magazine/book
  11. Gain another qualification
  12. Visit Edinburgh
  13. Go camping in my little tent
  14. Get a passport
  15. Lose four stone
  16. Give up smoking
  17. Go punting at Cambridge
  18. Go to Whitby to photograph one of the Goth weekends
  19. Have a go at archery
  20. Yarn bomb a tree in the name of art
  21. Give up work to work for myself
  22. Reach my goal of saving £50,000 so we can
  23. Buy a house
  24. Visit every church on the Churches Conservation Trust list
  25. Make at least one donation to a charity shop/clothing bank etc every month
  26. Visit Lindisfarne
  27. Go on a steam train
  28. Get 500 followers on my blog
  29. Finally get to live with Man
  30. Take part in a charity event
  31. Visit the Lake District with Man
  32. Take a holiday in Wales
  33. Buy a car
  34. Learn a new skill
  35. Create my own  website
  36. Make myself an item of clothing
  37. Make a patchwork quilt
  38. Write a novel
  39. Watch the sunrise at Stonehenge
  40. Take some amazing photographs of a beach
  41. Get more than 100 photographs accepted by stock photo agencies
  42. Visit the Isle of Man
  43. Visit the National Media Museum
  44. Visit the Black Country Museum
  45. Go on a hike of at least ten miles at least once each year
  46. Learn to use photoshop expertly
  47. Make a meal using ingredients I’ve grown myself
  48. Photograph lightning
  49. Go on a hovercraft
  50. Knit a jumper for Man (and make him wear it ha!)

That little lot ought to keep me going for a while.

Yateley Pond.

The last month or so all my time (or the vast majority of it) has been taken up with work and moving. Now it is time to get back on track.

I am being hassled by a couple of the stock photo agencies to submit some more pictures. I still haven’t had success with the first one I tried for because they want ten acceptable photos all in one batch. So that should be my next challenge.

I also have not submitted anymore hubpages and I really have to do this too because there is a remote possibility that both of these things could make me some money and get the pot of cash Man and I need going up again.

Did I say we took the money to buy the new camera out of the Pot? Well we did and so far we have only replaced one third of it. So the pot (and bear in mind here we are aiming for £50,000) currently stands at £200. Much more effort is needed here.

And the writing needs to be developed further too. When I was clearing through the stuff at the old place I found some children’s poems that I’d written a good few years ago. I have to say I still enjoyed them, which gave me a bit of hope. I could try some more of them.

I have a little over three years, according to my self-imposed deadline.

It would be nice if we could stay in this house for that long, or at least until Man and I are ready to get a home of our own together.

As the evenings are drawing in now, and I won’t get as many opportunities to go out and take photos in the evenings and mornings, it must be writing season :)

Some short stories? Some poetry for kids? (I think my humour leans in that direction) or maybe even start that novel I have been threatening for decades?

New car, new home, new start. Time to get back on track again and work towards our goals.

The clock is ticking.