Tuesday 31 July 2012


In the last couple of weeks I've gone along to the 'Spanish Combination', an informal language exchange night at the Cornerstone pub in Brighton.  I used to go about 4 years ago when it started, but haven't been back for about three years.  I'm not sure why!  Can't believe it's been that long, which means three years since I graduated too.  Mental.  I've barely spoken Spanish in that time either, which means I've been forgetting it.  Silly really after how much work I put into learning it.  This is mainly down to the fact that I'm not a particularly disciplined person, but I really don't want to lose it all.  I think I had expected to be living in a Spanish speaking country by now, and becoming fluent 'n' all, but life hasn't quite panned out that way and here I am still in Brighton.  However there are more and more Spanish people living here, so there are plenty of opportunities to speak it, just gotta be braver and get out there.  Which I have started to do, and really really enjoyed it!  And was pleasantly surprised to find I hadn't forgotten everything, and was encouraged by the people I spoke with.

I think practising a language with people who are also attempting to speak something other than their mother tongue is one of the best ways because you understand how difficult it can be, and therefore feel more comfortable to 'give it a go'.  Making mistakes is a vital part of learning a language, but, as a bit of a perfectionist, I HATE MAKING MISTAKES!  I spent way too much time while I lived in Spain NOT speaking because I didn't want to get it wrong.  Which meant I didn't improve very quickly.  I know in my head that it really doesn't matter if I mix up a verb ending or get the words in slightly the wrong order, but its hard to get that message from head to my mouth!

I think that's why learning Spanish is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I did well at school, but mainly because I'm able to memorise lots of information for a short period of time - which suits you well in an exam.  But actually learning to speak and understand a language (not just memorise French vocab lists!) is about so much more than memory, it's about confidence, character and the ability to engage with the people and culture around you.  I know it's a challenge that really has the potential to make you grow as a whole person, which is why I think it's such a shame that language departments (like the one I went to at the University of Sussex), are closing because they don't 'bring in the money'.  We don't know what we will lose.

So here's to getting braver, making more mistakes, meeting more people and speaking more Spanish!  If you want to come along, it's Thursdays from 9pm at the Cornerstone pub.  Or join the Facebook group HERE.

Thursday 26 July 2012


I feel very privileged to have been able to get out and enjoy the delightful weather.... man i am loving the heat and the sun!  Have worked Saturday, Monday, yesterday and today, but got to be on the beach most of Sunday, chilling out with hubby, family and friends for Mr Q's birthday.  Despite my scorn toward those 'other English people', I too came home sporting a rather patchy sunburn.  My stomach is STILL painfully red. Oops.

And, it's not only Brighton beach that has been graced by our presence, but we were also able to escape to West Wittering for a day and a couple of nights.  My family still has my grandparents house there, which is a very special place (currently writing a poem about it, actually).  I realised today that it's the only house that has been a constant place in my life  - ever since I can remember.  All the rest of my family has moved around from house to house, town to town.  The photo is of sunset on Monday night at 'the top of the creek' - a sheltered bay where boats are kept.  On Tuesday we walked, ate ice-creams, and rowed a very little boat across the bay to East Head - a sandy spit of land with sand dunes. And swam in the sea. Yum!

And today I finished work early, so more sun and sea coming this way.  Happy days.

Sunday 15 July 2012


Rabbit was there from day one
Day one that came a little too early for tiny twins and their first time mum
Rabbit was there from day one
Held in sticky hands
Held close, held tight
Rabbit always fitted in my hand just right
Rabbit used to be pink but is now is faded to dirty grey
Eyes are wide set and nose is almost rubbed away
Like the tail...
No soft white fluff
More like a stump
The only softness is in the ears
Mouth downturned as if about to burst into tears
Quite possibly Rabbit was ugly even when he was new
But it’s never mattered because love rose-tints my view
He is beautiful to me
She is beautiful to me
Never could decide if Rabbit was a he or a she
Just Rabbit will do
Just Rabbit will do

Rabbit had a friend called Rump Rump
Who must have been lying on his trunk
Because it always bent to the right
And Rump Rump was always held tight
In another girl’s hand
As the two played in the sand
And went on adventures
But there was nowhere that they’d venture
Without their little friends
 On beaches and in cars and on walks and in tents

I’ve said before they weren’t the best looking pair
But the twins never seemed to care
The best thing about them was their size
and though i’m now twenty five
Rabbit still fits just right, just right
and i hold Rabbit tight
when i’m alone at night
or not feeling quite right
Because Rabbit has seen me through the thick and the thin
Rabbit was there from the beginning

Rabbit puts up with my snores and my tears
Rabbit’s seen me grow up over the years
Rabbit knows the way I curl up to go to sleep
Rabbit’s heard my dreaming
And Rabbit made friends with Sheep
And Panda, and Pig and now finally a Boy!
At last there’s a person in my bed instead of toys

But there’s still room for Rabbit
Because Rabbit’s just the right size
To stay by my side
Tucked into my hand
And the Boy understands
Because watching over us from the chair
Is his old friend
Called Bear

Tuesday 10 July 2012


This weekend I went to a festival called 'Give' with my friend Nikki and her three gorgeous little girls.

The theme was orange...

This is what it was written on the festival programme:

"When love beckons to you, follow it, though its ways are hard and steep.
And when its wings enfold you yield to it, though the sword hidden among its pinions may wound you.
And when it speaks to you believe in it,
Though its voice may shatter your dreams as the North wind lays waste the garden.
For even as it crowns you so shall it crucify you.  Even as it is for your growth so is it for your pruning.
Even as it ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the Sun,
So shall it descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the Earth".

(Khalil Gibran)

 It was so good to be camping, to be outside in the middle of the countryside.  the first evening was lovely and sunny, and after that the rain began, but we managed not to get toooo wet!

 I learnt how to hula hoop for the first time :-) (taught by 8 year-old Tilly!)

We had brought extra food to GIVE away, and did our best to be warm and friendly and open with everyone we met.  We danced lots, and drummed, and hula-hooped, and ate lots of cake, and drank chai tea, and danced some more!

I especially loved hanging out with my little friends.  They teach me about love, about innocence, about accepting people, about imagination and fun.  Some of my favourite bits were...

Watching Tilly chasing butterflies,

Dancing to house music on hay bales with Grace, who looked so glamourous in her heart shaped sunglasses and raincoat, topped off with wellies and pink leggings!!

Anya playing stuck in the mud in the mud with herself :-)

SO hooray for festivals, for dancing, and for friends.

Friday 6 July 2012

"Porque el mismo Dios que mandó que la luz brotara de la oscuridad, es el que ha hecho brotar su luz en nuestro corazón, para que podamos iluminar a otros, dándoles a conocer la gloria de Dios que brilla en la cara de Jesucristo".

2 Corintios : 6

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Sin Nombre

(image from

We watched this film on Sunday night and I've been thinking about it a lot since then.  You know how some films just stick with you?  The title means, "Without a Name" which I suppose is aimed the character of Willy/El Casper - a young man who's part of the Mexican Mara Gang but who's heart is torn by a girl from downtown.  The majority of the film is set on a train running through Mexico, full of Central Americans making their way North to the USA.  I like films with travel in.  Big skies.  Vibrant colours.  Movement.  But I realise it's easy to romaticise things.  I'm sure riding on the roof of a train really isn't that exciting for someone with no papers, who could get deported at any time.  I'm sure it's not that fun when the rain falls.  When you've been robbed, or seen someone fall off the train, and when it becomes a matter of life or death, then I guess the view doesn't mean that much.  I guess another reason for the title is the fact that immigrants are often treated as nameless, as a faceless threat, as the enemy.  It makes me so angry because we really have no idea what kind of life people are leaving, and what they go through to try and find a better life.  Do we ever attempt to walk in their shoes??

 What I liked about the film is that it did manage to convey the gravity and desperation of the situation that the attempted immigrants, and escaping gang member, were in, yet there was something really beautiful about it too.  There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and it wasn't necessary.  The connections between people, the complexity of relationships, and inner struggles, were communicated really well by the actors' body language and faces.  Above all, what I thought was most powerful about it, was the compassion, and the emphasis on how we all want to belong, to be safe somewhere.

So, hooray for a good film, and thank you to writer and director, Cary Fukunaga

Monday 2 July 2012

We Raced for Life!


I ate a big pasta dinner on Friday night like I'm told all the athletes do.  That's right I took it very seriously!  And didn't drink alcohol at the pub.  Go me.  I did manage to go running a few times in the past few weeks although didn't really have any idea of how far I'd managed to go.  But I was surprised at how just doing a little every other day did make a difference.  So I didn't feel too nervous about Saturday.  After a lovely brunch with some friends, I donned my pink outfit (I hadn't realised that everyone wears pink until my Mum mentioned it - knowing how much I love the colour.... haha.) and set off with hubby to Stanmer park.  I felt less silly when I saw other ladies in pink on the train.  Met my running partner at the park who had bought some magical pink sunglasses.  Amazing.  And our 'supporters' even wore pink too, a sight I had not seen before! 

 I couldn't believe how many people there were, in some pretty amazing pink outfits.  Everyone had written on their back who they were running for which was very moving, and inspiring to read as we ran. We did a warm up altogether led by a tiny woman and two hulking big men. Check the pic below!  Then we set off, runners, then joggers, then walkers.  We classified ourselves as joggers, although I often think people walk faster than I jog!  But off we went across the grass and into the forest.  The sun was shining and breeze blowing, it was perfect weather, and a very pleasant route compared to the streets I usually run down.  I think the pink sunglasses did give everything a magical, glowing tint!

We managed to jog the whole way without walking once.  Very proud!  I really didn't think I'd manage that but Shonagh was very good at keeping a steady pace and encouraging me up the hilly bits.  Think we made a good team!  I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, the training definitely helped, and it was a privilege to run with so many women.  Will definitely be doing more, maybe 10km next time...!!!

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me by the way :-)