Tag Archives: random thought

Unconditional love

I’ve just read a blog post about snow, which drops in the (widely held, according to this) forecast that unless climate change can be halted, there will be no snow in Utah by the end of this century. The author says “My memories [of thick, winter snowclouds] make it incredibly painful to imagine a Utah without snow, but this is the reality confronting us.”

Across the globe the impacts of climate change are painfully uprooting people’s (possibly nostalgia-tinged) memories of what a place is like. Should be like, has always been like. We humans are very clever, and are more than capable of seeing the bigger picture, but somewhere deep inside, don’t we hold ‘what it was like when we were growing up’ as the yardstick to measure life by? Did you grow up with central heating, and shudder at the idea of life without it? Did you grow up with an outside toilet, and roll your eyes at people complaining their bathroom is too cold? When I look back at my childhood winters, they were filled (like, for weeks) with snow, sledging, days off school and failed attempts at igloo building – and this in Gloucestershire. So I remain perplexed when people in Yorkshire get wiggy about a couple of days of snow in January. But isn’t this normal? I ask. But ‘normal’ is what we grew up with. Nothing is ‘normal’ any more. Like it or not, believe the reasons or not, the climate is changing. Every year we see new weather records – hottest June, wettest December, highest monsoon, most ice lost, earliest melting.

So we are losing the things we love. This earth we live on is changing, and things are dying. People, species, hope. It’s easy to read the statistics and despair. And nothing I can say, no wishful thinking or positive affirmations, can change the facts. So maybe your childhood was filled with snow, and you have to face an adulthood without snow. Maybe the home where you grew up was filled with flocks of starlings, chattering and murmurating across the evening skies, and now there aren’t any. It hurts, it’s painful, I hear you; but I want to take your despair and kick its backside right out of the room. Let’s ask another question: maybe your partner is diagnosed with a degenerative disease, or maybe your parent succumbs to dementia. That person you love, you’ve know for so long, is changing, and there is nothing you can do. Do you despair? Or do you love them anyway? Do you love them as much when they cannot speak to you, as you did when they could? Will you love them when the chemo steals their hair? Will you love your home even when it loses its snow?

If we love this world, this earth, then we must love it unconditionally. If Utah loses its snow, it will not cease to be Utah, it will be a different Utah. And we can mourn the change, but we must continue to fight for its survival. I think this for me is the essence of climbing the Dark Mountain. Earth is still Earth, whatever state it is in. We must love it, and fight for it, and protect it, but we must never let change be perceived as failure, and an excuse to give up. Change is constant, and so must we be.  And yeah, I can see how this might be hard to hold in your head, the seeming dichotomy of ‘we must fight to prevent change’ and ‘we must accept change’, but come on. There are plenty of lessons out there from people who are doing this already; we’re clever. We can do this. We can love.





Nice day for a white wedding

Fourteen years ago today, I got married in possibly the most traditional style I can think of. White dress, chauffer-driven car, suits, full Catholic mass, taking my husband’s name, big flowers, buffet in a sports hall, you name it. The groom even had a hangover from his previous night’s stag do, that’s how traditional we were. The only thing that was slightly non-mainstream was the team of belled and ribboned morris dancers who gave us a guard of honour as we left the church. I didn’t have the first idea about organising a wedding, so fell back on what little I knew about “how you ought to do it”.  I didn’t want to rock any boats.  Ah well.


Fourteen years ago I was a very different person to the one I am today. Today’s me would probably get married in the woods, or on the moors, with no car, no suits, no formality, probably no shoes, and definitely no church. My partner and I have already changed our surnames back to my maiden name, so any funny looks or mutterings about ‘weird hippies’ would pass us by. We would be surrounded by friends and family who actually know us (as opposed to ‘so-and-so’s great aunt’s sister would be *really* upset if she wasn’t invited’), and love us for who we are. Most of whom (this still knocks me back a bit) we didn’t even know fourteen years ago. We’d keep the morris dancers though, and probably add some rapper dancers too (mind you, a rapper guard of honour would be a very squished affair).

But anyway, today marks fourteen years of being “properly” married to my best friend. If we’ve changed in those years, we’ve changed together. And I hope we continue to do so.

[Maya Angelou]

[Maya Angelou]

Baking that money just can’t buy

I make cakes.  Bloody good cakes, I’ve been told.

Cardamom cake for Midsummer

Bloody Good Cake

In fact, people pay money for my cakes, and have told me on several occasions that I should start a proper business, because lots of other people would pay money for them too.  I have been quite resistant to this idea, because cooking is something I do for love, and I felt distinctly uncomfortable about monetising my hospitality.  OK, I’m happy to accept payment for outside/on site catering, but when friends want to pay me for baking them something, it always feels a bit wrong. But I did it, because it seemed to be what people wanted.  And I asked around, and as people generally agreed that me starting a cake business was a Good Idea, I thought I would. But I’ve been thinking about this (always dangerous), and here’s the thing: being the fickle cow that I am, I’m not going to.

To me food is something prepared with love, shared with people – friends, strangers – for love.  It is a gift.  And it’s going to stay that way.

If you want to buy a cake from a cake shop, you go in, you choose your cake, you pay your money, you have your cake. And eat it, too, I assume.  You don’t need to ask the baker’s name, you don’t need to chat to them to prove you’re a nice person not a child-snatcher, you don’t need to ask ‘Have you got time to make my cake?’, “Could I have this cake but shaped like a tiger?”, “Can I have ten cakes every week for a year?”, in fact, you don’t even have to say anything at all. If you’ve got the money, you buy the cake. If you haven’t, you don’t.  Shops are so easy. And I am not a shop.

If I was a shop, I'd be this one. Mmmm

If I was a shop though, I’d be this one. Mmmm

So here’s the deal: if you want a cake from me – for a birthday, a special friend, just because you like cake – you ask me. If I can, if I have time, I will make your cake (or brownies, or flapjacks, or whatever).  You can pay me for the ingredients, so I’m not out of pocket, but I will not accept any money for my cooking. It’s a gift.

And that’s hard, isn’t it?  That’s negotiating all the messy, human interaction that goes with receiving a gift; and not just receiving, but asking to receive.  What if I say no? What if I’m too busy? What if I don’t like you? Just teasing, I like most people, but yes, I have bills to pay like everyone else, so if I have too much other stuff to do, I may say no.  But is that so scary? You will have to decide if you’re taking the piss or not (ten cakes every week for a year is taking the piss, by the way; I’ll give you that tip for starters).

Orange and pecan - Happy Birthday to me!

Orange and pecan – Happy Birthday to me!

Please, owe me by all means. Make me something, give me some babysitting, do something for me, or for someone else – it’s up to you. Yes you. *You* will set the price, even if that price is nothing at all.

I cook because I love cooking, and I share it because I love people. My food is, always, a gift. It is a gift that heals, and welcomes, and I will not cheapen it by charging money for it.



[This post has been inspired by Mark Boyle, the ‘Moneyless Man’; and Kirsty Bromley, admirer and sharer of my cakes]

Growing up and growing old. Or neither.

Hey, I found my first grey hairs!  I looked in the mirror recently, and there they were, just a couple; tiny slivers of silver amongst the dull brown. [Aside: I say dull, because I’ve been dyeing my hair henna-red for a few years now. I hadn’t done so for a while, and so I was back to “dull” brown. I make no value judgement on brown hair generally. Just sayin’.]

And you know what my first thought was? OK, my second thought, after a brief pause to blame them on Christmas. My second thought was “I didn’t think I was old enough to get grey hairs?”.  But I don’t feel sad about it, quite the opposite, I feel awesome! It’s like when you hit 18 and you realise you’re old enough to get into pubs using *real* ID, not fake ID (not that anyone fakes ID, of course, certainly not). I look around at women I know who have grey hairs, and they’re all, like, grown-ups. With, like, proper jobs, and real lives, and stuff.  Am I Continue reading

Failure is a point of view

I made some pretty bold resolutions last year, which felt really good. I didn’t manage to cross them off my list, not in the literal sense, but you know what, I didn’t do bad.

You’re probably thinking I’m just a great windbag, trying to twist words to say I did something positive, when it’s plain to see I fell on my arse, but Continue reading

Random slices of life

I wanted to post a picture on Facebook today, so I plugged my decrepit old phone in and sifted through my photos to find the one I wanted. I realised I often take photos on a whim, if something catches my attention, but then those photos just get stored on my phone and never see the light of day again. What a waste. So here, for no good reason whatsoever, is a selection of pictures from my phone. This is what I see, this is what I don’t walk past, this is what I want to share with you. Snapshots from my life, this last year. Make of them, and it, what you will 🙂

This was the breakfast I had in the hostel in Copenhagen, when I had to fly over a short notice for my uncle’s funeral. I’d forgotten breakfast could be this awesome.

This is a comment I left in a Huddersfield art gallery. All feedback is valuable, yes?

This is the kind of fun you can have in Ikea if you have sucker-brushes and a warped sense of mischief

This is the kind of inspiring comment you come across when you work for a charity that listens to children everyone else seems to have given up on.

See aforementioned comment about mischief – this time in Toys R Us

Two cakes, one fruit one coffee, en route to a friend-under-pressure at Cambridge Folk Festival

This is a face cut into a stone gatepost, which I walk past on the way back from the shops.

Is this the lamest Loveheart ever? Romance is truly dead.

To quote a famous teenage philosopher: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.

It’s my day off, make your own title

I’m feeling ill today. Nothing serious, just bleurgh – sore throat, hot eyes, tired head, all that jazz. So I decided I needed to take the day off. Not just “do less”, but actually, deliberately, not work.

When you work from home, this is surprisingly hard to do, because the whole home/work/life balance thing is in a constant state of jumble, so it’s never quite clear where one ends and the other begins.

Google inbox

To do, to do, waiting, reminder...

Of course, if I was a ‘work from home’ architect, or IT whizz, or even someone marginally more organised than a seagull, I’d have my own office, and then I could just shut the door, sit in there, and do worky stuff 9-5 and it’d be easy (haha). But I’m much more vague than that, and I also have kids to get to and from school, and meals to cook, and shopping to do, and so on.
Continue reading