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Tuesday 24 December 2013

Santa in the sun

As I slip on my new favourite blue and white Havaianas, I grab my sunglasses and head out the door. It is another glorious day with not a cloud in the sky. An air-conditioned Metro train provides me with a brief, refreshing respite from the burning sun shining just above the surface. Back out onto the bustling street once more, a giant Santa Clause defiantly wears his warm woolly clothes and smiles through the heat. I see trees covered in baubles, penguins carrying presents and elaborate nativity scenes being played out, all in the Brazilian midday sun.
And that's when it hits me: I am 5,899 miles away from gloves and scarves, mince pies and mulled wine, ice-skates and log fires. A momentary pang of missing home wrings in my stomach and leaves behind a feeling that I just can't shake.
And then it suddenly occurs to me that a huge number of people in this wonderfully crazy city might not have ever seen snow before. I smile as I watch a snowball hurtling through my mind and go crashing into a happy snowman.
Shopping done, I trade in a mulled wine for a Caipirinha and sit watching the world go by. Our beautiful blue planet is home to over 7 billion people, all with different life experiences. But despite our differences, we all have the same beating hearts, hopes and fears.
And that's what makes us family.

As 2013 comes slowly to a close, I want to thank you for following my blog every week and being part of the journey. You add colour to my life and inspire me in ways you don’t know. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and hope that 2014 brings you health and happiness!

With love!

Driving blind

And suddenly my ears pop; the sweet release of pressure.
Two and a half hours after leaving the city we begin to snake our way up through the mountain. I love to watch the world whizz by, getting lost in my thoughts. People and places wash in and out of my mind like a summer tide.
The weather is changing. Gone are the blue skies of earlier to be replaced by something else.
Carefully navigating a tight bend in the road, everything is suddenly smothered by a thickening white fog as horizon vanishes right in front of our very eyes. The car slows to a crawl as an eerie silence descends. I suddenly remember the foggy morning in East London that concealed Canary Wharf from view; a lost moment in time that now lives safely in my heart forever.
Higher and higher we drive, embraced tightly in the fog.
And my mind is racing. I can't help but wonder if, with all the challenges and choices in life, we don't all get lost in the fog sometimes. There are days when the sky is cloudless, blue, we know exactly where we are going. And then there are times when we just can't see the wood for the trees.
But sometimes a fog is there just to remind us that, as long as we stay true to ourselves and trust our intuition, we will eventually find our way through, once again breathing under a blue sky.
And just when I think that we are never going to get out of this, we turn a corner and discover a bright burning sun once more.

Friday 6 December 2013

The people in the picture

The afternoon sun is scorching. With barely a cloud in the sky, the only respite from the searing heat comes from an odd gust of breeze that randomly circles around the square and disappears just as quickly. 
And there he stands; brush in hand, bold of stroke. Framed either side by a row of majestic palms, I stand mesmerised by his poetry. The colours are bright and the paint, thick. He seems oblivious to everyone who dances in and out of his periphery. The only thing that exists is the Catedral da Sé in front of him. It captured his imagination and is now being brought to life through the canvas. They have a connection that I will never have. He switches brushes. I watch as he coats the hair in yellow and continues on, adding more detail to his creation. Passers-by stop momentarily to watch. And then I suddenly notice the people in the painting, frozen in a moment. I wonder where the man in the red top is now. And the child in the buggy. And the woman in yellow. Did she make her way up the stone steps into the cathedral, or did she disappear down into the Metro and is now standing on a crowded train homeward-bound? 
As I eventually say goodbye to the man and his canvas, a thought occurs to me: we encounter so many people on the journey through life, our paths cross for only a second. Sometimes we share words, sometimes just a glance. But regardless of whether people live inside a painting or in our heart, everyone has a story to tell, and underneath it all, we are family.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Spectacles spectacular

"Can I help you find somewhere?” the voice behind us speaks in a soft Portuguese accent. We must look a little lost in this new city - this city that I'm starting to fall in love with. I turn around to see a beautiful woman with a warm smile standing there. Our guardian angel chuckles to hear that we are looking for the 'Museu dos Óculos'. She puts us back on track and waves us on our way.
Eventually, we find ourselves walking in through the door of a stunning white and blue house lifted straight out of 1900's Italy which has since been converted into an opticians. After a few words with the receptionist I am relieved to discover that the museum lies just up some wooden stairs.
We are soon greeted in Portuguese by Ivani, a middle-aged woman with reddish curly hair. She has a warm face and an infectious laugh.
And so she walks and talks. We journey through the ages past silver monocles and ivory fans, across the 60's, 70's, 80's, and up to the designer sunglasses found in Vogue Magazine today.
There is something very lovely about this woman; we instantly have a connection.
After our personal tour I find out that she has been curating the free museum for over 17 years now with the love of her life. She gave up being the journalist for the Mayor of São Paulo and this was her personal collection.
We thank her for the tour as she gives us a tight hug. Suddenly she tips her head and says "coffee?"
Over steaming espressos we talk about travel, fate, and my love of Brazilian telenovelas. It was a perfect afternoon. We laughed a lot.
Then with one last hug we say goodbye to our new friend. She wishes us happiness on our journey and I'm suddenly touched by her kindness.
Walking out into the blazing afternoon sun once more, I can't help but smile.
It's strange where life can take us sometimes. The places we go and the people we meet along the way change us forever. And that afternoon, it only took 700 pairs of glasses to see that these little random moments are what makes this big crazy world so utterly beautiful.

Sunday 24 November 2013

A perfect drama

Beautiful men and glamorous women drink out of champagne flutes and talk in a language that I don't understand. I watch as words float poetically out of their perfect mouths and I'm caught up in the elegance.
Someone says something...and suddenly everything stops. The room falls silent as mouths fall open. Something is seriously wrong! What is going on? My brain can't make sense of the situation. After a minute or so of stunned silence, the screaming begins. The guests lash out at one other and start to claw viciously at expensive clothes. I need to know what's going on.
After some much needed translation, it turns out that the party was the pre-wedding dinner for the daughter who was about to marry her father but didn't know, then she finds out that he was not actually her real father anyway.
Alongside this, it was revealed that the man with perfect eyebrows had watched his sister deliver a baby in a bar toilet and had taken the baby off her to give to someone else to adopt. Well, now it turns out that he actually put the baby in a dumpster and left it there...well, that would account for the hysterics. My jaw is on the floor!
The mother of the man with the perfect eyebrows disowns her son and he is pushed forcefully down the stairs into the broken glass...
And then the credits roll against a backdrop of dramatic music.
I might just have witnessed the best telenovela in history, ever!
Laughing loudly against the theme tune, I realise something: no matter how difficult and challenging life can be sometimes, compared to what I've just witnessed, I'm living a doce vida.
And it's blissfully simple!

Monday 18 November 2013

Early hours of a new day

As cool rain beats down outside my window and splashes onto the 
empty pavement below, I open my eyes. It is still dark. Reaching out towards the wooden bedside table, I find my phone and gently press the home button. The screen jumps to life with a brightness that stings, and I watch as time flips from 00:59 to 01:00. The phone dims, and once again I am in darkness with just the sound of the downpour to keep me company. There is something deeply comforting about the noise filling the sleepy room. 
A memory of sitting in my dad's brick conservatory listening to the rain beat down onto the roof comes and goes, leaving me with a longing to see him.
I notice a small beam of street light spilling in through the shutters and have a sudden urge to see the city in the rain. And so I step sleepily out of bed and walk over to the window. As soon as I pop my head out into the night air my senses are awakened as Brazilian rain finds its way onto my face; it feels cool and fresh and lovely. 
I glance out over the sleeping houses and glistening trees, I think about the past few months and the thousands of miles I've travelled, physically and emotionally...
And as my eyes begin to feel heavy once more, I can't help but wonder what else there is out there to experience...

Sunday 3 November 2013

Sun and Samba

I'm up on the 11th floor looking down. The buzz of the city wafts up on currents of warm Brazilian air and carries with it bouncing Samba beats from musicians at a private party somewhere down below.
Today I spotted my first wild Parakeet. Flapping gracefully past the lush foliage, its beautiful bright green wings seemed to glint in the early evening sun.
And today I had my first Caipirinha. The lime infused cocktail that made my taste buds explode and awakened my senses, left me with just the right amount of afternoon sleepiness as we stepped out of the bar and into the sun.
The streets of London seem a million miles away now. I crossed over the Western Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean just to be here. And now that I am, the world suddenly seems a few degrees brighter than it did just a few short days ago.
The sun that I love so much beats gently down onto my body as it gratefully laps up every last ray. A sudden wave of happiness rushes over me as I realise that I'm right where I'm meant to be.
They say that home is where the heart is, and as I think about all the people in my life that I love so very dearly, I realise that no matter where I go, and whatever I do, I will always carry them around with me in my heart, never leaving, nested inside my travelling home.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Boxed up

In just over two weeks I will be up in the air again. Flying high above the Atlantic Ocean. A stranger will be sleeping in my bed. She will have no idea of the dreams that came to me in the small hours.
I will no longer be seen sitting outside on a Saturday morning, steaming coffee in hand, writing, and watching the Geese fly by. No more leaning-over-the-railings chats with my friendly neighbours. I will never get to see the opening of the giant school that popped up and suddenly blocked my view of Canary Wharf. Memories of walking home in the dark from the Closing Ceremony that beautiful summer will never leave me - A spectacle that burnt it's way into my heart forever.
I watched the communal lawn being cut short, only to be covered in a blanket of crisp white snow a few weeks later.
Loved ones entered my home to dance and talk and drink and laugh and cry and eat and read and sleep. Every wall, a witness to a chapter of life.
I ran along the canal and pulled a muscle. I cooked Sunday brunch and burnt my finger. I woke up sleepy in the early hours of a morning and stubbed my toe on the way to the bathroom. All these things make up a collection of memories that I will never forget.
And as I seal up the final box with brown packing tape, I can't help but wonder what lies in store 5,885 miles away...

Monday 30 September 2013

The change

The air is chilly. Something has changed. There were no fireworks, no announcements...just a simple glance downwards to spot the lone golden leaf adorning the evening pavement.
Trees will soon be bare and sunsets will arrive just that little bit earlier. And so comes the change.
The carefully packed boxes in my lounge suddenly make me realise that in two weeks, I will no longer be here - here in this flat, looking out over towards the glistening canal.
I will be gone.
As I watch summer skip merrily away for another year, I can't help but wonder what this new season will bring. Who will I be when the snow starts to fall?
A cold breeze whistles across my body and makes it shudder. Then as I zip up my hoodie, I look over towards the water. It is still flowing gently like it did the day before.
Then I realise something: As much as change can be scary, we have no choice but to embrace it. Whether we like it or not, everything on our beautiful planet changes every single day. It's meant to be that way. Every sunrise and season brings with it new opportunities; a chance to smile, to dance, to grow.
The cold pulls me out of my thoughts and I head inside. I lock the door, close my blinds, and turn on the lamp. The room is instantly bathed in a warm glow...and suddenly everything changes.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Gone fishing

I didn't know if it was the beer, the blazing sun, or a combination of the two, but I suddenly felt sleepy out on the river bank. It was nice to be away from the city for a few days, and for the first time in ages, I felt my mind soften around the edges.
As I finished the last of my drink, my friend turned to ask if I fancied doing a spot of fishing...A smile crept across my face as I found myself out on the deck of their narrow boat. After a quick lesson in the basics, my friend hopped back onto solid ground...and there I stood, alone in my thoughts, looking out across the river. The peacefulness of that moment was beautiful!
It didn't last long!
I watched the lure fly gracefully out across the water to land with a gentle splash once again...Then I felt my line pull...hard. The rod began to bend, and for a moment, I wondered if I had managed to get it caught again on some weed at the bottom. Within a few seconds, to my absolute horror, I pulled the line out of the water and found myself staring at a thrashing 25lb pike!
With that, I screamed, my friends came running, and passers-by stopped to see what was causing such a commotion. And so the battle to release the giant began...
The mere sight of its razor-sharp teeth coming towards me was enough to have me climbing up the railing away from it.
After what seemed like an age of twisting and struggling, I watched my friend bend down to place him back into the water from whence he came. He was finally home. Safe. Free.
Then as I looked down through the ripples, laughing with relief, I realised something: In life, there will always be challenges. Things happen unexpectedly to take us on a different journey. Sometimes we find ourselves in an unimagined future where we don't always get what we want...but occasionally, get just what we need.
And that night, as I looked out of the car window into the starry sky, I couldn't help but smile. This would forever be the day that I wrestled with a river monster, and won!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Rainy Tuesday

Tuesday evening rain splashes down onto cold pavement. It has been like this all day and looks set to carry on into the night. 
As the door to my office clicks shut behind me, I breathe deeply and watch my umbrella pop open...and so begins the commute home towards drawn blinds, soft lighting and a comfy sofa. 
I love these moments! Music pulsing through headphones down into my ears, I join the strangers on the street, and walk. I can't remember the last time I didn't feel at home here. Nights of feeling alone and scared in a big city seem like a lifetime ago. 
As I approach the corner to cross, I notice a massive, muddy puddle spilling out from the kerb into the road. I know this corner, and I see what's coming...As I take a step back away from the edge, people around me suddenly understand my movement and follow me in quick succession. We share a knowing smile with each other just as the bus trundles past and splashes the puddle up and out. 
Moments of random connection remind me that we are all related. 
And so I continue on towards the tube. I know that it will be packed down there this evening. A wave of peace washes over me in anticipation of the warm cocoon that awaits. I can get lost in the crowd once again and feel the mass of beating hearts. 
We see so many people every day on our journey, some familiar, some not. Sometimes paths cross to turn into something more meaningful, and sometimes, one glance is all we ever have. 
And as I begin my descent to the ticket hall, I can't help but wonder where all these strangers are off to tonight - strangers with their dripping umbrellas and soaked newspapers.

Saturday 7 September 2013

The final burst

The final rays of golden sun shine directly onto my face; it is too bright to see anything in front of me. And so, blinded by the light, I close my eyes and feel the warmth gently embrace my entire body. 
I love evening sunsets; everything slowly winding down for another day. Lost in thought, I suddenly feel a slight drop in temperature as the sun is momentarily hidden behind a passing cloud, giving me space to open my eyes once again. It takes a second for them to adjust. Light reflects off the river and bounces out across the city. Sitting on my concrete ledge, I watch as one by one, people pass me and lean against the barrier above the sun-sparkled water. Everything seems to slow right down as we all join together to watch the last of the day's sun give one brilliant final burst across the city. Towers glint in the distance and water is sprayed up by a passing catamaran. And on we gaze, all connected in the moment. Still. Grateful. At peace.
My attention is drawn down towards a tiny boy who runs past me into his daddy's arms. As they both chuckle to each other, I get a fleeting glimpse of my own son. If I had one, we would sit out here together and watch the sun go down over the horizon with Cutty Sark resting majestically behind us. 
It will soon be time for me to get up and meet my friends in the restaurant...
But for now, I'm smiling at this gift of spending a little time on my own. Time to just be. To breathe. To love. To smile. And sweep back my wind-ruffled hair.

Monday 26 August 2013

My little book of moments

When I started my blog over two and a half years ago, I had no idea that the journey would change my life, forever. 
vividly remember the first time I hit the 'Publish' button. Suddenly the words were no longer just inside my heart...they flew out into the world for all to see. Since then, I have received many emails from a variety of followers: some funny, some heartbreaking, all beautifully honest. I continue to be touched by every single one. 
After a while, I started reading suggestions that I should write a book based on the blog. At first, I was incredibly touched...Then after a few more followers mentioned the same thing, I began to wonder...
And so 'The Little Book Of Moments' was born. 
It is a lovingly chosen collection of a few of my favourite pieces, with a few new ones written especially for the book. Every piece has a beautiful hand-drawn illustration to accompany it.

Keeping the feel of this blog close to its heart, my book takes a sideways look at love, life, and everything in between. The bite-sized moments will take you through the everyday/ordinary and open you up to the life lessons hidden within every situation.
I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for following my blog every single week and for being the most important part of the journey. 
Love and light always!

'The Little Book Of Moments' is out now on,, and

Morning chatter

Sunday morning, and a chorus of Wood Pigeons call in the distance. It is the first thing I hear as I wake. Still dozy from sleep, I listen as one repeats the same three notes over, and over again. Then another joins in, this time with five. It is all I hear until they suddenly stop. Stillness. 
Then in the silence, I yawn. My tummy rumbles. And the pigeons return. Then a Crow. Then a Sparrow. Then something else I can't identify: a strange, deep squawk. It was definitely a bird of sorts, but not one that I have heard before. Or maybe it was a child. 
As I listen on to the orchestra of sounds, my mind suddenly skips back to another time: London Zoo, a light drizzle falling onto my face as I stood listening to the Peacocks. Trying hard to mimic their call, I began repeating back exactly what I heard, subtly adjusting the quality of my sound each time until eventually we merged and became one. I smile at the memory of seeing the rest of my drama school friends all doing the same thing. The next day we would find ourselves back together in class, all laughing at the strange looks we received from the rest of the visitors around us, before making the room come alive once again with lions, and tigers, and Peacocks, oh my! 
I chuckle at the seeming randomness of life...
And as the birds continue to chatter outside my window, in between the squawking and singing, I begin to drift off once again into a deep morning sleep.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Homeward bound

As the train speeds through the tunnel, music floats into my ears. Scenes from earlier splash into my mind and begin to overlap: My friend's sweet little boy roaring like a monster, her lovely twin daughters randomly discussing Hula Hoops, us reminiscing about days gone by, and the rain that began to fall lightly over our picnic, making us pack up and call it a day...
Then I suddenly remember the old man playing a piano in the main concourse of St Pancras station just moments before we said goodbye. We stood there transfixed, watching him lost in his music, us getting lost in him.
My reverie speeds up time, and before I know it, I am standing on the wet evening platform once again, close to home. I watch the train disappear into the distance and suddenly realise that there is no one else around. I feel the light drizzle on my face and stand looking up into a darkening sky. Right at this moment, my friend and her family are speeding out of the city, whilst the piano man is settled in his seat, dozing peacefully as his train sways onwards.
And as I walk down the length of the platform towards the stairs, a thought occurs to me: even if I had wanted to, with all the will in the world, I couldn't have orchestrated this exact evening: The piano man, the picnic in the rain, the moments we laughed; all set against a dark blue, late August sky.

And all it takes is a second...a second to stop, a moment to realise, that we have so much more to be grateful for than we will ever know.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Just visiting

I used to think I had just one pace in this city when I first arrived...Two decades later, I've discovered another. There are times in our life when all we can do is let go and allow the current to take us where it will. With nowhere else to get to for at least another hour, I slow my stride and begin to melt into the swarm of strangers. In between shoulder bags and cameras and shorts and smiles, I snatch glimpses of a city I love, foreign to my crowd, familiar to me. Big Ben glints in the early evening sunset behind red buses, black cabs, and bicycles.
I stop sporadically as tourists in front of me pose wearily against a sunset skyline; a long day of walking and exploring finally taking its toll. I watch as they soak everything in. It will soon be time for them to head back to their hotel to shower and change before heading out again for dinner.
Once across the river, I find myself retreating to the park opposite Westminster. This is my favourite part of killing time...I love people watching. The blonde-haired girl cartwheels freely across the grass and heads towards the Japanese couple freezing for a picture with their fingers held playfully in a peace sign - I love this pose. Maybe deep down, that's all the majority of us want for the planet anyway. There are kids playing around the bronze statue now, and I chuckle to myself as they hold onto the giant finger to dance with it. Their laughter rings out across the grass, becoming part of the city soundtrack.
A Union Jack blows gently in the breeze high upon a rooftop.
Suddenly a bee buzzes sleepily past and I follow its journey around behind me. I realise that I've been sitting right in front of a wall of lavender this whole time. And so I reach behind to squeeze a piece of it in between my fingers. The scent fills my nostrils and floods me with happiness...
Tonight, I am right where I'm meant to be.

Friday 26 July 2013


I love this time of day. The bustling city is changing gears to another pace. Final splashes of golden sun illuminate the grass below and cast shadows across the lawn as I sit looking out. Within a few short minutes, day will become night once more. I watch the last rays of evening light gently cover the city in its golden blanket, and even though there is still a pale blue sky, the street lamps have already come on to see us through the small hours.
Today I saw a picture of the earth taken from beneath Saturn’s rings. And today I saw a picture of a train wreck...I will go to sleep this night, a different person.
As I look down towards my hands, I suddenly notice the orange stains from the dead lilies that I placed into the bin earlier. An image of the child presenting the bouquet to me last week flashes through my mind, making me smile; gestures of kindness and gratitude that will never be forgotten.
I read somewhere that London was hotter than Bali! These warm summer days quickly give way to cool nights, and as a chill blows across my skin, I realise that the shadows are no more; we have spun away from the sun.
I am contemplating going inside for a hot Green tea when a thought occurs to me: In this moment, everything is happening; someone is laughing, and someone is crying; someone is arriving, and someone is dying. With 7.1 billion of us all sharing this planet, we are connected in ways we don't even know; variations of a theme with beating hearts and hopes and fears. We are family.
And as I make my way inside to put the kettle on, I know I'm not the only one.

Sunday 14 July 2013


As I started running, I knew I could do it. With each stride getting longer and longer, I picked up momentum until I passed the point of no return.
The fence wasn't even that high, and the section I'd chosen to hurdle over was lower than the rest due to some of the neglected wires coming apart. As my foot touched down for the final time before the leap, something didn't feel quite right. I guess the relentless downpour that morning had changed the ground upon which I ran. With a slip of the foot, my body left the ground and began to sail over the wire fence. Maybe I would clear it after all...
18 stitches and 24yrs later, I still have my memento of that journey.
There is a place on my left bicep that my little niece has affectionately named 'the soft bit'. She loves to touch it and says it feels like a butterfly's wing. Even though I was too young to remember the accident, I still get used as a cautionary tale for the kids to stay away from boiling water.
Throughout our lives, things happen to leave us with scars. Some are very easy to spot, and others, only visible on the inside. Whether they come from a leap of faith or a broken heart, these experiences change us forever, never to be the same again. But that's ok. Our scars are just a reminder of how strong we really are.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Itchy feet

Early morning sun bathes my entire body in its warm light...there's not a cloud in the sky. As I look up, my mind suddenly jumps into the cool pool in Switzerland that I used to lie by. The summers were long, and hot, and filled with love. The flash is instant, fleeting.
I watch as steam curls upwards out of my mug and disappears into the sky. The smell of cut grass blowing in the breeze instantly makes me close my eyes and breathe deeply. I love this smell!
My attention is drawn upwards by the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. Instantly I'm speeding through the air at 150mph, looking out once more across the Grand Canyon.
Alone in my thoughts, my mind continues to skip back and forth over all the places I've ever lived and been. Then a thought occurs to me. I suddenly wonder if my mum had once had dreams of standing on cool Italian marble, or warm Thai sand, on a bustling New York sidewalk or manicured grass in a Berlin Tiergarten. With this thought, a wave of urgency splashes over me as I wonder if there is enough time in the world to do everything I want to do. A Canada goose flies majestically along the canal and pulls me suddenly out of my reverie.
My feet are itching, ready for the next excellent adventure.
Sometimes in life, there are things that compel us forward, and things that hold us back. Whether it is love or fear that eventually drives us to another place, sometimes we just need to step out of our comfort zone to really discover where our happiness lies.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Step by step

Trainers laced, muscles stretched, I step out into the morning and hit the play button. The beat kicks in and I am off. Snaking my way down towards the canal, a light morning drizzle covers my face. Every stride forward lifts me further out of my sleepiness. I eventually settle into a comfortable pace as the path in front rolls towards my moving feet. I have really been enjoying these early morning runs of late, and despite this only being the third time in my new resolution, I am finding every step just that little bit easier, that little bit faster. A wave of contentment splashes over me as I breathe deeply. Endorphins rush in with a pumping new tune and I decide to speed up my run for a quick burst.
I want to go faster and further.
And just as the song hits the chorus, I accelerate. For a split second it feels as if I am lifting off the ground...and that's when it happens: the sudden searing pain in my left calf.
In less than three seconds, I find myself leaning against a tree with frustration and disappointment crashing heavily into me. How could this have happened? It was game over!
Taking a deep breath, I begin the long journey home, drizzle continuing to fall over my limping body.
And then I realise something...
Sometimes in life, change can take a while. It doesn't always play out like a cleverly cut montage in a movie, and as frustrating as it is, we can't rush the process. The journey is beautiful, and with just one perfectly small step, we take that giant leap right into our future.

Saturday 8 June 2013

The flower and the weed

Today, for the first in a long time, blazing sun greets me as I step out of the house. A slight breeze on my arms and a warmth on my skin tells me that our English summer is here. It seemed like the hovering grey clouds above would be a permanent fixture...but they are gone, for now. 
And as I walk past the grassy patch to my left, I see the beautiful little things that I used to love. Suddenly thrown back through time, I land in a field of daisies. There was something about the way they looked that always made me smile; like mini flowers growing wild, free.
Endless summers of playing out until the sun went down, of daisy chains, kiss chase, and he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, float through my mind. I suddenly can't remember the last time I sat and played with the daisies...5, 10, 20 years ago?
There was something I heard once, I can't remember where or when: 'Weeds are just flowers in the wrong place.'
And as I look up into bright blue sky, I begin to wonder if the same can't be said of us too. Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in the company of people who can leave us feeling less-than. We can doubt our uniqueness and be labelled a weed. But that's the beautiful thing about us! We are all special in our own way, and like the mini flowers standing wild in the grass, we continue to grow and make the world a brighter place.

Sunday 26 May 2013


Feeling the first few drops of cool summer rain splash against my skin, I step casually into the quiet cocoon of the supermarket and snatch a basket from the pile as I walk past. Hit by an air-conditioned breeze, I instantly feel refreshed and ready to tackle the maze. And so I move forward into the aisle, suddenly engulfed by towering shelves and eye-catching labels. Plucking items from their metal branches, I place them one by one into my basket and continue onwards. Finally reaching the colourful fruit and veg, I stop to run through the list in my head and make my way over to the bright red peppers. My favourite song of the moment begins to play joyfully through blue headphones into my ears and I begin to think about what it means to get our 5-a-day. I have a new routine. My gratitude 5-a-day. Every night as I gently drift off to sleep, I run through the day and pluck out 5 things that I am grateful for: lessons learnt, conversations with friends, being lucky enough to see the sunset.... It's amazing how once we take a moment to really look at our life, we see how much we really have. Even on our darkest days, there is always something lying just under the surface to be thankful for.
And as I make my way through the checkout and back out towards the exit, I see that the rain is coming down heavily now...and I smile. Soon I will be home, safe and sound, grateful for the food in my bags and the music in my ears.

Saturday 18 May 2013

The pursuit

And the game had begun. In hot pursuit of my suspect, I ran as fast as I could past my friend's front door with peeling red paint, past the corner shop selling all my favourite Cola Cubes, over the grass hill peppered with daisies upon which we occasionally danced, and out onto the small side street sloping all the way down towards the nursery. Approaching the only parked car on the quiet street, my walkie-talkie crackled with white noise as something caught my eye and glinted in the afternoon sun. I stopped suddenly to investigate, blocking out the voice now coming out over the airwaves. And there at my feet lay £10,000,000 worth of sparkling princess cut diamonds!
Scooping them up carefully in my hands, I poured them into a pocket and got straight onto the walkie-talkie to excitedly announce that I had discovered the abandoned treasure from the heist. Ignoring the brick inside the car that had shattered the window into a million pieces the night before by a stranger, it was definitely the find of the century in this make-believe moment. 
Years later, I smile back at those long summer days of playing cops and robbers until the sun went down and of the time that broken glass was magically transformed into 1-carat pieces. 
Sometimes in life we get so lost in the pursuit of happiness, we can miss the beautiful moments that are already all around, glinting in the sun, just waiting to be discovered.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Click, flash

A generation gone stares back at me through a sepia-toned window. As soon as I open the dusty album, images and associations splash silently over me. Relatives I once knew and loved smile joyfully through the lens, straight into my heart; some proudly wearing medal-embellished uniforms, others sporting the latest beehive hairdos equally as proud.
I look on as page after page reveals another connection to my past, another piece of the puzzle.
And then, just as I am beginning to get lost on this little trip, a wave of melancholy gently washes over me as I am reminded of how fleeting everything is. Life seems to go by at such velocity these days, we can sometimes forget to take the moment to stop and notice all the amazing things that surround us; people we love, the random acts of kindness, lessons learnt through tears.
We click and capture those precious memories that act as a witness to our own personal journey, and despite being utterly powerless to alter our past, there is a freedom in the knowledge that we still have today...a chance to grow, to change, to fly.
And as I optimistically turn the final page of this dusty collection, I can't help but wonder about all the albums that are yet to come; pages of moments that will last an eternity.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Dust down

As I bang my hand onto the chair's stripy blue canvas, particles of a season's worth of settled dust are released out into the air. It suddenly hits me how long it has been since I've sat out here. Apart from the semi-constructed concrete shell blocking the once uninterrupted view of Canary Wharf, my physical surroundings are exactly the same.
And so I sit, looking out over towards the flowing canal which lies just beyond budding branches. For a long time it seemed as if everything had died; barren limbs blew patiently in the breeze, waiting for the moment of change. They waited and waited, never giving up hope, stoic against frosty mornings and stormy evenings. It looked as if they would remain this way forever...
Then, just like clockwork, everything began to change. The sun came out and bathed everything in its warmth.
Something catches my eye, pulling me out of my reverie. As I look down towards the daisy-filled grass, I notice a bumblebee making its way through the air and come to rest on a clover patch. It is the first one I've seen in months and heralds a new beginning.
I am suddenly struck by how delicate life really is; it is precious, and beautiful, and amazing, and perfectly imperfect. Beneath heartbreak and struggle, something truly special lies. Seasons change and people grow, and even in our darkest days, in incredible ways, life has a way of making us smile once again.

My love goes out to everyone touched by tragedy, and pray that one day, you too will smile once more.

Saturday 6 April 2013

The boy who changed the world

Our darling Alex,

I'm sitting here with coffee in hand, watching the airport slowly come to life all around me. There is a little truck filling up the plane, and directly above, a half-moon shines dimly behind drifting clouds. 
The sun is not yet up, but already I've thought about you a hundred times. I feel you everywhere; you never left us. 
I turn my head just in time to see a plane rumbling noisily down the runway and gracefully lift off into the early morning sky - it is your daddy. 
Suddenly, a memory flashes into my mind. I'm back in the church, with you by my side. And as the Lord's Prayer wafts gently out over the pews, I close my eyes and say a prayer of my own...a prayer for the little boy with a gigantic heart. 
You taught me that we can be much stronger than we ever thought possible, and frankly, my darling, I've never met anyone braver or stronger than you...and doubt I ever will again. 
You are bigger than your body gave you credit for, and because of you, I now believe in angels and tiny miracles. 
You laughed when they gave you an hour, and you laughed at a week, a month, a year. Only now, I realise that you had something else in mind; that defiantly cheeky smile of yours said everything we needed to know. The smile that lit up a room will light up my heart, forever! 
We have been changed by you, and will never be the same again. 
The world is just that little bit brighter, that little bit warmer, and all because of you... 
Wherever we go, and whatever we do, you will always be carried in our hearts, safe and warm inside. 
Thank you, little bird, for being the sunlight in our dawn, our angel in the snow. 


Sunday 10 March 2013

Dancing in the next room

I cut a rectangle out of the blank, red card and watched as the remainder fell gently down onto the desk. Laid out before me, sparkling glitter, colourful pens, scrunched up tissue paper, and smelly white glue waited patiently to be transformed into something beautiful. And so, I began creating with all the other children in the class. I glanced around the room to see paper flowers and tissue hearts being fixed enthusiastically into place. We made those cards every year for Mother's Day, and every time, I couldn't help but wonder where she was.
So I would sit, drifting off to another place...
And suddenly I saw all the mothers on the other side. Lifting trailing skirts up off the floor, they span around and around, laughing heartily as they twirled. Hair flew weightlessly in the breeze; eyes sparkled as they danced on and on, as free as birds. Bodies moving to the music without a care in the world; it's the dance of the mothers, dancing of angels. Swapping tales of their loved ones in the next room, they laughed affectionately until their sides hurt. The connection between here and there, them and us: unbreakable...
Suddenly, my attention was pulled away from the spectacle and once again, I found myself back in the classroom with glitter-covered fingers and a smile on my face.
Years later, even now when I dance, I will occasionally think of her spinning around next to me as the music plays on, happy in the knowledge that the ones we love never really leave us.

Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful women out there, shining their love for all to see.

Saturday 2 March 2013


We grabbed our bags from the overhead bins and literally ran off the plane. The mad dash through Vienna airport to catch our connecting flight was hectic. With the doors closing in less than a minute, we weaved frantically in and out of the crowd. Stepping inside the warm cabin, hearts pounding, foreheads glistening, we made our way to our seats against a backdrop of sarcastic applause. I couldn't be bothered to explain about our aborted landing minutes earlier, and instead, decided to just sit and have a cold drink. And that's when I found a group of passengers sat in our seats, refusing to move. After a battle of words, the flight attendant came along, barked at us to disperse, and told us to find any free seat so that we could take off. And so I turned, left my friends, and made my way towards the back of the plane to squeeze in between two passengers who had absolutely no intention of allowing me past easily. This was going to be a long 11 hours! 
It wasn't until I eventually drifted off into a light sleep that I finally let go and began to look forward to seeing Thailand for the first time.
It was magical, enchanting, and life changing.
Then, the tsunami came.
The flight home was a bit of a blur. Looking around at the half-empty plane, a thought occurred to me. What if everything did indeed happen for a reason? What if we were meant to be late that evening so that those people could sit together one last time? Are we ever really late for anything, or do we always arrive at exactly the right moment?
Looking out down towards the clouds, tears rolling down my face, I said a quick prayer for everyone who wasn't on the plane, and made a vow to breathe with life, trusting that I will always be  where I am meant to be.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Winds of change

Sunday morning mist cloaks the horizon and conceals everything beyond the green grass outside my window. As I sleepily open up the terrace door and step out into the open, cool air rushes down into my lungs and I welcome this wake up call. Everything seems so peaceful this morning and I am momentarily lost in the quiet; nothing else exists beyond the colourful stripy chairs and empty plant pots that surround me. 
Breathing deeply, I turn to look over at Canary Wharf; it too has vanished in the mist and despite not being able to physically see it in this moment, accumulated hours of observing every contour, window, and reflection have left an imprint safely in my mind. I love this view. Memories of sitting outside on balmy summer evenings and looking over at the shimmering lights of the tower fills me with warmth.
My eyes follow the line down towards the empty wasteland immediately in the foreground...
The diggers arrived before Christmas, followed shortly by the majestic cranes. Earth was gracefully lifted and moved; holes were bored and cement was mixed. Every sunrise brought with it a change and slowly but surely, bit by bit, walls began to grow skywards.
Then I realised something; with each passing day, the clear view of the beautiful towers were slowly disappearing right in front of my very eyes. Soon, within a matter of weeks, they will be gone completely from sight...forever. The countdown has already begun.
The winds of change are blowing gently onto my face once again and now, looking over into the morning mist, I can't help but wonder if this is a sign that it might just be time to move on to the next adventure.

Sunday 10 February 2013


For the first time in ages, I am not in a rush. Not late, not hurried, at peace. Dusk is quickly setting in as I stroll along Southbank and up towards the National Theatre. 
The last remaining rays of evening sun reflect off the rippling water to give everything one last burst of light, before vanishing for another day. Within a few minutes, it will be night-time, and the illuminated iron lamps will guide the way.
I love it here.
Boats hypnotically snake their way along the current-filled river and I watch as the undulations are momentarily displaced before calming again, leaving no trace whatsoever that the vessels were ever there.
And I continue onwards under the protecting canopy of trees, breathing deeply once again as a light evening drizzle blows in and gently places a cool mist onto my face. The city has been harsh lately and I welcome its gentle embrace once again. I have wanted this, needed this. 
Sometimes in life, things get difficult; swallowed up by identical days and freezing nights, it’s easy to get lost in the maze; but somewhere, buried deep in the solitude of restlessness, lies something beautiful, calming. We all need these moments of quiet to reset, and as the colourful banners of the theatre come into view, I’m suddenly struck by how important it is to have people in our life who will love us unconditionally and always be there for us when things get tough.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Tin house, warm heart

As I turned the corner, I saw it; half tin, half brick, my friend's house stood on the estate, unassuming. For years I had heard every derogatory word used to describe him and his family from the other kids...but he was nice and despite getting some stick, I thought it rude to refuse a dinner invitation. So here I was, straight from school walking up to the front door. As soon as it swung open a beautiful woman stood there and warmly welcomed me into her home. I stepped inside. It wasn't until the door closed behind us that I noticed the cardboard boxes piled high along one of the walls. As I took off my coat, curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't help but peep inside an open one which sat there, tempting. There before me lay a veritable feast of teeny Christmas cracker novelties; puzzles, dice, magic tricks, key rings, mini tool kits, fortune telling fish, plastic rings, Tidily Winks, tiny playing cards and colourful whistles - all the good stuff that used to put a smile on my face as they came flying out with a paper hat and witty joke. To me, his mum officially had the best job in the world. 
After a short while she came out of the kitchen and proudly put bowls of food down in front of us. "This is Frankie’s favourite", she declared with a warm smile. 
And then it hit me...
The love that was present in that room was far greater than all the things they didn't have. They really didn't own much at all, but in spite of that, I was sat at their table sharing their food. It was a lovely evening. 
Years later I look back at that moment and realise something; in life, we may not be financially abundant or have all the latest shiny must-have gadgets, but as long as we have love in our hearts and a generosity of spirit, we will always be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.

Monday 21 January 2013


Walking out into early morning, the sky, still a sleepy blue, begins to wake. It is literally freezing this morning. At some point during the night, whilst I was fast asleep, the first few flakes of snow fell silently to earth. The light bouncing off the crisp whiteness bathes me in its glistening glow. And then I hear it, I feel it...The sensation that suddenly floods my body with utter joy; snow crunching and compacting under my feet. Being one of my secret pleasures in life, I begin to smile as I take a deep in-breath of air and watch as a cloud of warmth leaves my body and vanishes just as quickly. 
With the realisation that this is the first snow of the year, I begin to think about all the other firsts in my life; the first time I came to this bustling city, alone...the first time I sat on a plane and watched the ground drift away...the first time I ate gelato...the first kiss...the first time I found love and the first time I lost it. 
Life is littered with firsts and, as constantly changing as the world is, that will never change. There are endless opportunities for new beginnings everywhere, and as I continue on my journey, I suddenly feel excited for all the firsts that are yet to come.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Journey on

The first candle I lit was for the little nana with a penchant for crochet and sparkly things, then another for the little school children I didn't know, then one for the brave woman who battled courageously right up until the very end, and one for the spirited man who simply gave up, tired and ready for the next adventure...I had lit too many candles this year. I was tired and emotionally drained. Nothing appeared to make any sense and the world was like a crazy ball of discordant mess.
And so, on the last day of the year, I closed my eyes and began to breathe…in and out, in and out, my lungs filling my chest. Overexposed snapshots came and went in a blur. Suddenly, in amongst the slideshow, a memory of being inside the Olympic stadium and the wall of sound that pounded straight into my heart flashed up. It was spectacular. Aside from all the tears and loss, this would also be the year that I witnessed determination and strength on a magnificent scale. I saw athletes without legs running faster than lightening and limbless swimmers moving gracefully through the water to a backdrop of rapturous applause and incredible support.
And then, as the clock struck midnight, in amongst all the fireworks and cheers, I realised something: There will always be new beginnings. Opportunities to heal and grow are everywhere because we are amazing and life goes on. Our spirits are strong and so is the love we hold in our hearts.
May you shine brightly in 2013 and find joy in everything you do.

Thank you so much for faithfully following my blog and for being a part of this incredible journey. I love you.