I’m writing this the week after you turned three. Three whole years you’ve spent on this planet and what a three years they’ve been. I often use you as one of the reasons I started blogging, so it felt natural to write this as a letter blog post to you, so one day you may read it, but I’m hoping your mummy reads it too because I’ve something to share with her.
Three years you arrived into our lives, the long awaited and much loved first-born grandchild for Grandma and Grandad. My first niece or nephew. You took me by surprise right from day one, I didn’t expect to feel such a connection to you. If I’m honest Libster I was a little worried I’d be a bit rubbish as an aunt, not too interested, there have been so many little people in my life and I’d began to realise that I probably didn’t want my own family, but nothing could prepare me for what I felt for you. It was different to any connection I’ve had before. It was almost animal, when I held you for the first time I knew that I’d do anything for you. Maybe this is what love, true love, really is – an instant, physical, visceral connection easily induced for one so little and helpless, and one who at some subconscious level I know is one of my own.
In some ways I think it’s quite selfish, driven by ego almost. I watch you, your mannerisms, character, willfulness and I see me, a little Georgie! I love that, I love your spirit, your determination, your questioning. I love the fact that you are as happy dressed as a pirate as minnie mouse! I love watching you with your little sister. It’s ace having one, there will no doubt be times when she is a complete pain, she’ll irk you and irritate you but trust me there are few things as comforting in life as knowing you’re never really on your own, you’ve always got your siblings around to rely on if you need to. You’re doing a great job as a big sister, never doubt that!
So what can I share with you Libbie? I’ve listed ten things, there are more, these might not even be the most important things but they’re want came to mind:
1) Never, ever, let people tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. You can do anything that you want to if you work hard enough. You can succeed and achieve if you believe, so don’t listen to people who say no.
2) Never stop asking questions – as you get older people play this trick on you where they suggest asking questions is dumb because it let’s on that you don’t know something. That’s ok, in fact it’s more than ok, it’s essential. People who pretend to have all the answers are just pretending. Even your teachers and your Mum and Dad sometimes.
3) Have fun and play lots – play with the dolls, babies and prams, but play with the lego, football and swords too. Dress up, pretend, make believe and discover. Play often and when you get older make time to play, life can be a lot of fun but sometimes it’s easy to forget that if you work too hard. Don’t take things too seriously.
4) Trust Grandma – if you ever need anything, or want to share something, or don’t know who to talk to then trust Grandma. Your Daddy will tell you a (true) story about Grandma talking to the fish the night you were born which makes her sound quite mad. So, ok, if you need to know about fish ask someone else but anything else ask Grandma.
5) Offer your opinion but don’t forget your manners – life is easier when people work together, sometimes people are shy about offering their opinion, sometimes it can be easier not to. It’s up to you but never forget your manners, and sometimes it helps to ask if someone wants to know what you think before you offer it! Remember also that some people offer their opinion silently by doing, some people communicate differently, there are many people who are more quiet than us and it’s important that we listen to what they have to say.
6) You can be friends with boys and girls – at some point in your life people will suggest that you can’t really be best friends with a boy, don’t worry this probably won’t happen for a few years yet. Never forget Harry and what fun you’ve had together and don’t let anyone tell you not to be friends with boys. It’s an old fashioned thing that some people haven’t let go of yet. Be friends with the people who make you feel best about yourself irrespective of their gender, age, nationality, sexuality – it’s all nonsense!
7) Don’t worry about what to do when you grow up – when I was growing up people were always nagging me to decide what I wanted to be as a grown up, I never knew. Sometimes I wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter, others a skip lorry driver, at times a special education teacher – I never did any of those, and I’m still not sure what to do when I grow up and I’m ten times older than you, so don’t worry about it. You’ll make good decisions when they come along.
8) Respect your Mum and Dad - Auntie Georgie hasn’t got what it takes to be a parent, it’s really one of the hardest jobs in the world and your Mum and Dad are doing it brilliantly. The strange thing is that most jobs have long periods of training and preparation, people go to university or college, they study and get help to be good at it – there isn’t too much support for being a mummy, no-one gives you a certificate or tells you how well you’re doing. I guess you kind of have to figure it out as you go along, which must be very scary, especially when all of a sudden there are two of you. I am so proud of your Mum, she has worked so hard and she’s one of the bestest mummies out there. Remember that when she frustrates you or tells you no or insists that you sleep all night!
9) Wear hats – the secret to wearing hats is believing that you look good in them Libs. I don’t think you can have too many hats, they are a great talking point and they’re practical too, Grandad would always say that 90% of your heat goes out the top of your head, so wear hats, be confident, believe you look good and other people will believe it too.
10) Be friendly and love freely – this will probably seem a bit obvious. Life is much better if you’re friendly, look out for people, share your friendship and love. As you get older you might find some people aren’t what you hoped they were, some people might let you down, don’t take it personally. It’s not worth worrying about. The strange thing is if you worry too much, and try to protect yourself from being hurt, you miss out on so much in life. Don’t worry about being hurt, or losing friends, be friendly and kind and people will be good back. You’ll hear about lots of nasty and scary things in life but most people are good, and most things are positive.
So there you go some thoughts as you enter your next year. I hope this one is as much fun as the last three.
Lots and lots of love,
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on holiday in Beitostølen in Norway. I’ll do a post holiday reflection blog another time, but suspect it’ll be broadly similar to last year’s – which you can read here if you’re interested.
In this post I wanted to share some sage advice that I was generously given by the man in the photos. On Tuesday of my holiday, feeling somewhat bruised (physically and psychologically having tried my skis on for the first time the day before), I decided to go for a walk after lunch – following the cross country route I wanted to ski the next day. This had two advantages, firstly I could see where I was going so I knew what to expect the next day, and secondly if I followed the tracks I couldn’t get lost.
I was on my way down to have a nose at the hut in the first picture when I saw a sight I’ve never seen before, a man skiing with a sausage dog under his arm. I smiled, took a couple of photos and marvelled to myself at his ability to ski and carry a dog. Seriously impressive stuff. The man and his dogs made their way off down the track and I went to have a nose around the hut, before making my way in the general direction of Beitostølen Stadium.
About an hour later I came across the same man, and his dogs, on their way back from their ski (it really is a novel way to walk a dog). This time we stopped to have a chat, he asked if I was pleased with my photos, I explained I was, we commented on what a beautiful day it was and I admired his skiing ability – sharing with him that I’d been incredibly impressed to see him skiing and carrying his dog. He explained that the doggy was getting on, and too slow, to walk the whole lot – I laughed and made a joke about my poor skiing ability and how I hoped one day to be able to ski and carry a dog, or perhaps more helpfully carry a camera without fear of damaging it. He looked me right in the eye and simply said, ‘Don’t worry, it takes time’.
I’m not sure whether he meant learning and perfecting skiing ability takes time, or whether he meant stopping to take photos takes time. Either way it became a mantra for me throughout the rest of the week as I struggled to give myself permission to make mistakes, to need to take time to improve my ability to stand upright, and harder still to bring myself to a dignified stop.
I thought I’d share it with you guys, I think it’s a great lesson for life, especially if you’re getting impatient with the lack of progress in a situation, as a wise man on skis carrying a dog once said ‘It takes time’.
I spent last weekend in Wales and had a great time….all except the small matter of dragging myself out of bed on Saturday morning to pay for on-street parking in Cardiff, before then receiving a parking ticket for parking #arrrrrgh as apparently they couldn’t see my ticket.
I can’t begin to tell you how annoying that was, or the fact that if I’d known the fine for not buying a ticket was £50 (with 50% discount bringing it down to £25 if paid in 2 weeks) given how knackered I was I might have actually paid that £25 for a lie in, rather than get out of bed before 8am and still pay £4 and now have to write a letter and buy a stamp. I have written to Cardiff Council Parking Services to challenge the fine I received, and to provide feedback…detailed below.
I’ll let you know how I get on, but I was just wondering if anyone knows what your legal rights are if I have the ticket and believe it could be seen, but they claim they can not see it? Any thoughts very welcome.
Dear Cardiff Council Parking Services
I received a PCN while parked in Newport Road Lane, Adamsdown on 21 January 2012. I am writing to challenge this PCN as I had purchased a ticket on this date at 8am and it was visible on my dashboard. I have enclosed the original ticket and PCN.
I also wish to provide three pieces of feedback, in the spirit of making this a useful exercise for us both!
1) It may be easier for your Civil Enforcement Officers to notice tickets if they had adhesive on them so that they could be stuck to windscreens rather than placed on the dashboard
2) It would be easier for customers to pay, and for your CEOs to check payment, if you moved to a text based/technology enhanced payment service
3) It would be a far better service experience if you were able to pay the previous night for early morning parking. I arrived in Cardiff at 8pm, but the machine would not allow me to pay for the next morning’s parking (despite the chargeable period for Friday having passed), therefore I had to get out of bed to buy my ticket – only then to receive a PCN.
I look forward to hearing from you in relation to my PCN being nullified, and I hope that my feedback is helpful.
This coming year I’m determined to do more cooking, and eat more fresh food. I used to really enjoy cooking, and have got far too lazy of late, never home from work early enough to both cooking. Well all this is going to change, pasta and pesto is no more a staple, it will instead be replaced by healthier, home cooked delights. To help me along with this mission I’ve decided I need some better knives – so I either need to sharpen the ones I have, or buy new. I asked Twitter for recommendations and thought I’d share the answers with you guys and ask for any more advice or opinions you have to offer.
(cc) on flickr by JD Hancock
Wusthof from @amcunningham
Global or Titan from @scotbaston
Taylor’s Eye Witness Block from @niccombe
I’d be really interested in anyone else’s opinions or ideas for good knives to get. I’ve owned my own home for over five years now, definitely time to invest in a decent knife or two!
Jean-Patrique from @lillieputian
Globals plus advice to spend as much time and attention on sharpener/sharpening as knives from @paul_clarke
About ten years ago I was finishing my PhD – it had been a lonnnnnnnnng slog, you can probably get some idea of how epic from the magnitude (and overly flowery nature) of my acknowledgements page, that you can read here. Throughout the time of finishing and writing up my PhD I promised myself many things to spur me on – if I finished I’d buy myself a Rigby and Peller Corset or Basque, I’d buy myself a Leather Jacket, and I’d buy myself a decent camera.
Well funnily enough, as soon as I handed the thing in and passed my viva, the need for all of these rewards dropped off – they didn’t seem important anymore, I was now Dr George, the system recognised my effort, and to be honest that was all I needed to know it had been worth it. That’s a post for another time, but this weekend I have been thinking about how much of my life has been and gone in the last ten years, some of the experiences I’ve had, and how much has been captured more latterly on my phone camera. Which is great, but it’s not as great as having decent photos.
(cc) on flickr by Nesster
So I’m back on the hunt, I have no idea what I need or what I should look for. I had expected to spend at least £1k but could easily be convinced to spend more (but no more than £2k) if it was worth it. So help me out you lovely lot, I’d love to know what questions I should ask myself, what I should consider or where I should go to buy a new camera. All thoughts, as ever, very welcome.
Thanks in advance.