Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cunard Three Queens in Liverpool

On Bank Holiday Monday I braved the crowds with my sister-in-law and her husband to attend the 3 Queens event on the Mersey.  I rarely get the chance to go to such events as my husband and daughter hate crowds and so sadly I never did see the giant puppets when they came to Liverpool.  So I was happy to have someone to go with on this occasion.  My sister and brother-in-law are a bit older than us and have been on quite a few cruise holidays. So they have actually sailed on two of the ships - the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth - and have a cruise planned on the Queen Victoria to the Norwegian Fjords later this year.

It was crowded but I think not so crowded as on the other side as you can see from Angel Jem's post on the event.  We caught a train to Birkenhead and viewed the event from the quayside by the ferry terminal.  As you can see from the pictures there were people in front of us but we still had a fairly good view and it was all fairly good humoured despite the crowds.

The advantage of viewing from this side is that you can see all the iconic Liverpool landmarks in the background. Can you spot the cathedral and the Liver Building with the 'birds' on the top in the pictures above?  Liverpool has more historic buildings than any other city in Europe according to my brother-in-law who was, like my husband, born in the city. 

The Cunard company started its cruise business from here but now sail from Southampton.  A pity really as it would help revive the economy if they came back up north.  We might even consider a cruise holiday if they sailed from here though I still am not sure it's for me.  My only experience of cruising is the overnight Brittany Ferries trip from Portsmouth to St Malo and it was something to  be endured rather than enjoyed, despite the on board patisserie, restaurant, bars and entertainment. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Five on Friday: Self Help Books

Over the past year I've read quite a few self help books which I've mentioned in the blog on occasions.  Currently I've got several Mindfulness books out of the library and have been dipping into them.  But I'm starting to question my addiction to this genre and think now it is time to stop and evaluate the advice given.  There's just so much of it floating around my head now that I'm afraid I'll forget what I am supposed to be doing to make me less anxious.  A paradox - I'm anxious about how to be less anxious. 

Many years ago (late 70s?) I read Susie Orbach's Fat is a Feminist Issue and it helped me escape the yoyo diet cycle I was trapped in at the time.  I don't remember the details, just one piece of advice - eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full.  Sensible and easy to follow advice which seems to work for me as I've managed to maintain a fairly stable and healthy weight since.  So I'm now going to condense the advice from the self help books I have read into five commandments.

1. Slow down
I tend to rush through days, even days off, squeezing in as many chores and improving activities as possible. This needs to stop.

2. Do one thing at a time
This will be hard - I'm a habitual multi-tasker. But I know from experience that lesson planning while  making dinner often leads to burnt offerings.

3. Be in the moment.
Smell the flowers; listen to the birdsong; taste the coffee; watch the woodpecker; stroke the dog.  Be aware of your body and senses.  This one is easier for me.

4. Listen actively to others.  
I'm ashamed to say that I've been in the habit of finishing people's sentences for them.  This will stop if I focus on them and stop being so self-absorbed.

5. Breathe
I've been doing some of the meditations in one of the Mindfulness books and, for the first time, it seems to be working.  The Three Minute Breathing space works best for me.

By the way, my life was not changed magically by tidying up, as promised by Marie Kondo, so none of her advice is included here.  I have decluttered as instructed but now am regretting getting rid of some items of clothing I didn't feel love for because I have nothing to wear to work! I now fold my knickers and scarves are packed vertically in an old shoe box in a pleasing way, but otherwise my house is still relatively untidy.  


Saturday, 16 May 2015

First Five on Friday

I'm joining in with this link up with Amy at Love Made my Home in the hope of getting back to a more regular blogging.  Here are my five highlights of the week.

1. Far from the Madding Crowd
A trip to the cinema with slightly reluctant daughter last Sunday to see the latest film version of one of my favourite classic novels.  We both enjoyed it.  I loved Carey Mulligan's performance as Bathsheba in this new one but preferred Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak in the 1967 version.

2. RSPB Burton Mere - The Bluebell Wood
I'm still determined to do something with my day off  other than catch up with chores and school work so on Wednesday, a beautiful sunny morning, I went on a trip with my neighbour to Burton Mere where there is a bluebell wood and a Bird Sanctuary.  It's 15 minutes away yet, incredbily, we have never been there before - mostly because dogs aren't allowed.  A brilliant place - the bluebells were spectacular. Forgot my camera but did take a phone photo.

RSPB - Give Nature a Home

3. Bird Watching
At Burton Mere a helpful RSPB employee helped us use their telescope to see some rare birds including an avocet, that's the one on the RSPB logo, and and its cute chick with a little curved beak.
Then we went for a walk along the Dee Estuary and saw more birds in the high trees, larger ones: herons and egrets.  My neighbour took photos and promised to send me some so I will add when I get them.  At home, the woodpecker has been visiting our nutfeeder this week too.  I love watching the drama from the kitchen window.  He's a bit of a bully and chases away all the bluetits.

4. May Meadows
We are lucky in our village to have a dog walking field, left uncultivated by the owner who lets the grass and weeds grow untouched, just cutting it once a year, and allows dog walkers to use it.  At present it is beautiful - cow parsley, buttercups, dandelions, and a pale lilac flower which is apparently called a cuckoo flower or a milkmaid here in Cheshire where it is is the county flower, according to this website.

5. Proud Parent
Last week my daughter was made a prefect at school.  As she's prone to bending rules about uniform etc.., we weren't sure she'd be considered.  Her classmates were able to vote as well as teachers though so that may have tipped the balance.

So those are the good bits from an otherwise not much fun week. Now will see if I can manage to link...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Blogging taking a backseat at present: exam season at work so quite busy. Just a quick post to share a favourite poem which has been in my mind in the last few weeks.

The Treesby Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said:
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief,

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings and grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

May is my favourite month of the year and Larkin's words capture exactly how I feel about it.