Breath taking

It’s Sunday and again, the world seems to take a breath and sleep a little later.

It was quiet just after 8am when I was roused from sleep. I lay cocooned beneath the covers for a few indulgent minutes, burrowing into the warmth while I drifted gently towards the morning. No radio alarm. No noise from the neighbours. No sporadic chatter from passers-by on the footpath outside. No rise and fall of traffic hum in the street. Time to wallow in the quiet stillness, in that sweet, sweet spot – you know the one – before nature calls, the covers are thrown back and the day begins.

I finally sat up, swinging my legs over the side of the bed and into my slippers. There was an unusual stillness in the air and my heart skipped hopefully as I padded towards the window and drew back the heavy curtain.

Before my eyes lay a world transformed: Fat white flakes swirled down from the insipid sky and settled softly over a garden already shrouded in white. It was a scene of such silent and untouched beauty that it was a few seconds before I realised that I was holding my breath.

It was snowing…

Snow on the Gidday patio

Snow on the wall

Snowy trees 1

I stayed by the window for a while, feeling the smile crinkle the corners of my eyes and child-like wonder fill my heart.

The MET office has been forecasting snow in the UK for a few weeks but a fall and subsequent settling like this in London is unusual. Just last week, a flurry of snowflakes wafted around me as I walked to a meeting and I thought that might be as much as we were likely to get until the New Year. But this is proper snow (for London anyway), one that took a deep breath in the dark hours of last night and then covered my Sunday in a blanket of white.

Snowy trees 2

Snowy rooftops

Even the neighbour’s cat has been over to explore…

I know I won’t be alone in my snow-posting today (and not everybody will have such romantic notions as I do) but I can’t help myself. There’s something magical about it, the way it quietly transforms the world. I can see the snow still falling from my spot here on the comfy couch and I keep interrupting my tapping to wander over and gaze out the window again.

Days like these fill me with a quiet, simple joy and there’s always room for a bit more joy in the world.

So stay warm peeps and have a breathtaking Sunday.

January’s bucket list

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. My resolve tends to scatter across the year and is generally underpinned by my penchant for exploration and variety. However I do love moments, snatches of time when I am completely caught up – and sometimes out – by intense feeling, largely a mixture of delight, wonder, melancholy, outrage and curiosity. I carry this image of a bucket in my mind and I often imagine putting a particular moment into it. Somehow they all combine into a life that inspires me.

I was checking something in my calendar earlier and it occurred to me that while I share about particular experiences, I don’t often reflect on all of the things I’ve done. Fellow blogger, author and longtime Gidday follower Jack Scott commented recently “you do get about” so I thought that it would be interesting – for me anyway – to end each month this year by checking out what’s ended up ‘in the bucket’.

So here goes.

This month it all started with a new chapter in an old story and I absolutely loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I then moved into a Kenneth Brannagh double bill: All On Her Own, a maudlin 25 minute 3-stars-from-me soliloquy, and the hilarious 4-stars-from-me farce, Harlequinade.

A trip back in time with the Museum of London and a tour of an old Roman fort inspired my historic sensibilities so much that the Museum became a new Friend. Five days later I joined hundreds of women at the Central Methodist Hall in Westminster to listen to the Women’s Equality Party and left non-plussed and suprisingly uninspired: lots of valid and important messages but the whole thing was a bit ‘rah rah’ for me.

A decidedly French tone emerged in the second half of the month with the NY MET’s performance of Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers and the National Theatre’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) being live streamed at the Phoenix Cinema just a ten minute bus ride away. When I was raving about the latter in the office the next day, I was informed by a young French colleague that the book continues to be part of the literature curriculum in French schools and is considered “a classic”. By the way, both productions were ‘magnifique’.

I’ve also read six books this month and rated three of them a mighty 5-stars, an excellent 50% hit rate. March Violets by Philip Kerr and A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute were my first dip into these respective writers and my return to Stephen King (and introduction to his criminal mastermind Mr Mercedes) was the recommendation of another Gidday follower, author Charlie Wade. (Thanks Charlie!)

In between all of this I embarked on some new cooking adventures with a foray into pastry (albeit frozen) as well as ‘cooking with beetroot’ and I managed catch up dinners with three different friends, one long overdue.

I also inadvertently fell across London’s Lumiere Festival on the face of the Abbey…


…and delighted in the lighter mornings on my walk to work.


Speaking of commuting, this gem really lifted my tube ride home one night.


It also snowed…


…and I celebrated twelve years in London.

So Jack was right and January was full to the brim with moments that were both planned and completely surprising. (And that’s doesn’t include what happens in my job.)

In any case, I’ve quite enjoyed this retrospective approach to bucket list-ing and am curious to see what reflecting on February might bring.

What would a look back at your January moments yield?

Pop Culture…

This week I have come across a rather cracking idea and it was delivered right to my desk.

I opened my weekly graze box to find my usual assortment of healthy snacks accompanied by this small flat package…

Intrigued, I tore it open to find a set of easy instructions…

So I popped it in the microwave….

…and voila! Popcorn! Mmmmmm….

It was delicious!

In other news, we’ve had a bit of snow. Here’s snap from the train mid week…

…here are a few from the office window…

and here’s tonight’s snowy trudge down my street.

Note to self: Melbourne was too hot…38C was too hot…

Snow Stories…Fabulous Finchley

This is probably not the first snow post you will read today, nor is it likely to be the last you will stumble across particularly if you are reading anything about the UK. 

But I can’t help it. I get all excited and Australian when the white stuff falls so I beg your pardon today if I seem unoriginal.

Last night’s snow fall here in London has left 4-5cm of pristine whiteness over Fabulous Finchley as I discovered on opening the curtains this morning…

My snowy back garden

 …so I quickly dressed, cleared the front path…

Not that I want to seem like a big girl or anything but this shovelling  snow sh*t is hard work!
 …and set off to snap some of snowy Finchley.

A couple of inches covered the cars in the street – that’s quite a bit of snow for Londoners. (I can hear some of my followers from colder climes scoffing about now).

I passed a few early on in my snowy shuffle that were committed to business as usual…

Determined local restaurant staff braving the elements…
…as was this mad jogger. Just silly behaviour really!

 …but undeterred, I shuffled on until I reached my destination…

…and began to snap away.
Taken from the main gate above – I love the Narnia-esque quality of this shot (could that be Mr Tumnus up ahead?)

No tennis today…
…but plenty of action on the swings!
Families were out in force and it seemed that in every corner I beheld a flurry of activity…

There was much ‘work-in progress’ going on as well and even this poor pooch got caught up in the adventure of it all.

Doggone it! It looked much smaller before…

Maybe he should have paid better attention…

Helpful sign??
Anyway getting back to the action, it appeared that the park had been invaded by a few rather cool customers…
Hats off to the clever clogs who made this one!
Is it my turn on the swings yet?
Nice ‘do’
Do you think this one’s on the property ladder yet?
This seated cutie made me laugh out loud
Shrek in snow…love your work!

By now, all this shuffling about glove-less in the snow had developed me a yearning for a nice warming cuppa and the toasty cosiness of Gidday HQ so I headed for home…

Leaving Finchley’s snowy playground
A fabulous splash of colour in the wintery day
Gorgeous architecture just around the corner
Almost home…

 …and arrived, wide-eyed and happy and filled with that magical feeling that only a Winter Wonderland, and the anticipation of a steaming mug of hot chocolate, can bring.

Hope you find a little of your own magic this Sunday.

6 Sleeps To Go…A Clear Path…

I woke up this morning dreading the fact I would have to trudge down the icy streets into Kingston to get my phone exchanged (long story). The radio told me (several times during my 2 hour semi-snoozing lie-in) that it was -4C, the high would be 1C and that we could expect more snow this afternoon.  Oh joy!

And then I opened the front blind to find that some kind soul had shovelled the snow from my front path! Bless…a little Christmas spirit right on my front doorstep.

I also saw a wicked snowman further down the street and found myself quite enjoying the crisp air on my face and the crunchy snow underfoot.  And just as I’m typing this, a squirrel has bounded along the railing and up into the tree, leaving a bit of a snow shower in his wake.

Sigh…I love Sundays!

Inspired By…Strictly Sparkle…

So Strictly Come Dancing is over for another year…no more ballroom frolics and latin antics (or should that be ballroom antics and latin frolics?) to fill my Saturday evenings with glamour and wistful longing…and every year there’s a tiny part of me that wonders why I don’t go back to it.  Obviously not at the level that these guys dance at…but that all-consuming obsessive passion that from the very first time, filled me with joy.

It makes me wonder what the next year will bring, where I will find the moments of joy and passion that seemed a little thin on the ground this year. 

There will be those small things like this week’s ‘snow’ moments or great customer service (had a fab experience with John from Oyster Card this week).  And then there are the big changes – life as a single girl and an amazing new job to start in January – which whilst presenting some waters which have not been charted for a while, I have to admit are a little inviting.

In the meantime, there’s a holiday to have and the small matter of a large gent in a red suit that may be popping in to sprinkle a little Christmas cheer.  And as life in 2010 has been a tough ride (for many people), a little more magic seems to me to be just ‘the thing’ for 2011.

So as there are only 13 days left in 2010, I’ve decided to look for a little extra sparkle every day to make sure I get plenty of practice for 2011…does welling up during the Strictly Final count?

ps…and on another matter, 1 week people, 1 week…that’s 7 sleeps to go (just in case you missed the widget-thingy on my blog).  Hope you’ve been good this year!

pps…and congrats to Strictly winners Kara and Artem – you were my favourite!

Snow Angels…

Bit of a gap in the ol’ blog but I’m back for 2009…

It seemed right to say something about snow and the amazing amount of it we had fall in SE England a couple of weeks ago. Not working at the moment meant that I could get out there and marvel at it all – and it was not just a little bit but ankle deep pristine snow that lit up the world in a way I hadn’t ever seen before. Watching snow falling is a fascinating thing for me and whilst I don’t quite understand the science of it all, waking up to this was extraordinarily beautiful.
This is the best snow angel I’ve ever seen – courtesy of Karen Goss. Our snow was too deep to get the view of the grass underneath like this…but we did manage a snowball or two.