Home & Life · Uncategorized

A history photowalk of Belfast

 

Back in April one of my Instagram friends, the lovely Laura from @dibney_cottage_adventures , organised an Instagram meet-up and history photowalk around Belfast. It was lovely to meet up with some of the faces behind those little squares on Instagram and at the same time find out a bit more about some of the landmarks in our great city. Isn’t it odd how we often don’t know as much about where we live as we do about places we visit on holiday.

Anyway, on with the tour! We all met up at the Spirit of Belfast sculpture in Cornmarket. It was created by Dan George out of steel at a cost of £200,000 and was unveiled in 2009. It’s nickname locally is The Onion Rings. The sculpture is meant to reflect two of the things the city of Belfast is famous for – the linen industry and ship building.

As it was raining we decided to nip in to a well known coffee chain and have a cuppa and wait for the rain to stop. It wasn’t long before we were on the move, first stop the Jaffe Fountain. This is located at the entrance to Victoria Square. It was erected in 1874 and dedicated to Daniel Jaffe, a well known politician, businessman and philanthropist who was a central figure in the linen industry in Belfast. In 1933 the fountain was moved to the embankment near Botanic Gardens where it stayed for over 70 years, falling into a state of neglect and disrepair. The developers of Victoria Square decided to have it restored and replaced in it’s original location to coincide with the opening of the new development. It is now a hallmark of the Victoria Square area.

From here we went on to Thanksgiving Square and the Beacon of Hope, or as she is known locally the Doll (or Belle) on the Ball, Nuala with the Hula and The Thing with the Ring. The sculpture is of a girl standing on a globe and holding aloft a ring. The globe represents universal peace, harmony and thanksgiving. The sculpture was created by Andy Scott and is based on Thanksgiving Square in Dallas.

Just across the road from Thanksgiving Square is the Big Fish, also known as the Salmon of Knowledge. This is a 10m long sculpture by John Kindness. The surface is covered in ceramic tiles decorated with images and text depicting scenes from Belfast’s history. Inside the Big Fish is a time capsule containing information, stories and poetry about the city. The location of this sculpture marks the confluence of the River Lagan and the River Farset and it was commissioned to mark the regeneration of the River Lagan.  Just beside the Big Fish is Sammy the Seal, which actually refers to the statues of three seals which represent the family of seals that live in the estuary.

From here we crossed over to Custom House Square and headed on towards The Albert Clock, passing one of Belfast’s oldest pubs, McHugh’s. Turning back to look across the river we had a perfect view of one of the big yellow cranes Belfast is famous for. Samson and Goliath, as the cranes are known, are located in the Harland & Wolff shipyard, where RMS Titanic was built many years earlier.

Heading towards the Cathedral Quarter we passed Transport House. This building was the headquarters of the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union and I have to admit I have always thought of it as an eyesore with it’s giant tiles mosaic depicting some of the industries associated with Belfast. It was listed in 1994 and is one of the youngest listed buildings in Belfast. It was reported back in 2015 that the Unite Union were going to renovate the building and relocate their HQ back there, but we shall have to wait and see. Just beside it is a very large wall mural by an Australian street artist called Smug One. The mural is reffed to locally as the Lobster Chef, and is just one of a growing number of pieces of street art in the city.

Walking towards the Cathedral Quarter we passed another of Belfast’s oldest buildings which has be reinvented as a popular local pub, The Dirty Onion. The building was built in 1680 and is Belfast’s oldest intact timber-framed building and for most of it’s life has been used as a warehouse. The Dirty Onion opened it’s doors in 2013 and the owners have taken great care to maintain as many of the original features as possible.

Just a little further on is Commercial Court where an almost hidden alleyway festooned with umbrellas takes you into a small courtyard full of fabulous street art. You could spend ages looking at these amazing artworks and each time you look you discover another of Belfast’s famous faces such as George Best, Van Morrison, Jamie Dornan and scenes that depict moments from the City’s past.

 

Finally it was back out on to Commercial Court, passing one of the first places Snow Patrol gigged in back in 1998 before all going our separate ways, having agreed we would definitely do it all again. I know much more about my home city than I did before and I am looking forward to the next photowalk already! (Rumour has it the next one will have a Titanic theme). If you want to find out a bit more why not check out Laura’s blog (that’s her in the photo below with the rest of us in the background).

 

Crafting

What I’ve learnt about Etsy

Recently I was asked to design a custom print for a lovely customer to give to her husband on their anniversary. I came up with four slightly different designs using the words she wanted and she was delighted with the one she choose. Hopefully her hubby will be too!

I have added all four designs to the RecklessHen Etsy shop and I could hardly believe that it took me longer to do all the descriptions and edit the photos and get them into the shop than it took to design the prints! Surely there must be an easier way? Will I get quicker at it the more I upload? Is there some quicker way to add to your shop? If you are an Etsy aficionado I would love any advice you might have.

Anyway, after spending the best part of a day and a half designing, editing photos and uploading I have managed to get all four designs into the shop and thought I would give you a preview.

Beauty

My good hair day game changer

I just had to do a quick post because today I am having a really good hair day and that is very unusual for me at the moment. Being a lady of a certain age there is a hormonal war to end all wars raging and the casualties are my skin (very dry), my moods (let’s just call them changeable lol) and my hair (just picture Worzel Gummidge and you’ll get the idea). I have quite long blonde (not natural) hair and the last couple of years it has developed the texture of straw, has become very easily tangled and just lacks any kind of life. I’ve tried salon products and regular products of every kind, I’ve had treatments done in the salon, treatments done at home, I’ve bought miracle oils and brushes galore and nothing has helped. I have longed for the days when I could just blow dry my hair and that was that. Instead I have had to wash and dry it, then lather on more products and either straighten it or curl it to stop it going frizzy.

Well not anymore!!!

Enter these little beauties from Percy & Reed.

 

(Let me just say that this is not a sponsored post. This is just me finding something that really worked for me and wanting to share it in case it may help you too.)

A couple of friends had been raving about Percy & Reed products so I thought it was worth giving them a go, although to be honest I didn’t really think they would make much difference. I decided I was only going to buy the travel size set so that I wouldn’t be out too much money if they didn’t work, made that mistake once or twice before. Anyway, off I went to good old Marks & Spencer and bought the travel set. I choose the one that contained moisturising shampoo and conditioner, some oil and some hairspray. The packaging is really pretty and girly so I was secretly thinking that even if they didn’t work for me I would still keep them on display because they are so gorgeous. Got up the next morning, had a shower and washed my hair and got the hair dryer out ready to go.

The first thing I noticed was that my hair was not as tangled as it would normally be and the comb did not pull out as many strands as usual. That’s very interesting, I thought to myself but once the hairdryer starts it will be a different story. But it wasn’t! I was able to dry my hair without having to stop every few minutes to sort out the tangles. Once it was all dry I was wondering whether I should straighten or curl but after brushing it and adding a little of the No Oil Oil I realised that I didn’t need to do either. It looked great, I could actually leave it as it was! You have no idea how ridiculously pleased that made me. It has been years since I could do that. It is now the second day and it is still fab. It feels silky smooth, there is no frizz and it even has some shine again – and all that after JUST ONE USE!!! What a game changer! And did I mention they all smell fab too?

I don’t actually even know if the moisturising one is the best one for my hair type, I haven’t even looked at the whole range yet, I just grabbed whatever M&S had in the travel size. There may even be something in the range that is better for my particular hair issues and that is mind boggling to me after so many disappointments with products in the past. So I am off to browse their full range and get some full size bottles, but first I am just going to sit here and run my fingers through my lovely silky hair for a little bit longer 🙂

Thanks for reading, happy Hump Day 🙂

 

Tutorials · Uncategorized

How to make an Easter wreath

You know you have a problem with procrastinating when you realise the fabric you bought and the wooden eggs you painted to make an Easter wreath have been sitting there for a couple of years and you still haven’t got round to making it! That was my reality this morning. I was looking on Instagram and saw a lovely floral wreath made by @justlaurajayne so I decided today was the day the wreath would be made.
I thought maybe some of you would be interested to see how I made it so I’ve put together a tutorial to show you what I did.

Make an Easter wreath by RecklessHen
How to make an Easter wreath by RecklessHen

First get together all the supplies you will need. I used

  • a wire wreath frame
  • burlap ribbon or strips of burlap
  • garden wire
  • a selection of Easter decorations
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • a bow, or ribbon/fabric to make a bow

Easter wreath supplies by RecklessHen
Easter wreath supplies by RecklessHen

For a 30cm wreath frame you will need about 18-20m of burlap ribbon, depending on how full you want your finished wreath to look. I didn’t have any burlap ribbon but I had quite a bit of burlap fabric so I cut it into 12 strips which were about 1.5m long and 6 inches wide.
Start by folding your burlap in quarters and threading a small length of garden wire through it and twisting to secure it. Then use the wire to attach the burlap to one of the spokes of the frame.

Begin pulling loops of the burlap up through the outer ring on the wreath frame. Next pull a loop up through the middle ring and then through inner ring.

Once you have done these three loops, twist the burlap firmly and work your way back up the wreath frame in the opposite direction, pulling loops of burlap through each segment in the wire frame. Continue doing this until you have all the frame filled.

Secure the end of the burlap to the wire frame in the same way as you did at the start, by threading garden wire through it and twisting round the frame.
Lay out your Easter decorations on top of the wreath until you are happy with how they look and then glue in place.
Easter Wreath by RecklessHen
Easter Wreath by RecklessHen

Make a bow and glue it to the wreath, add a loop of garden wire on the back as a hanger and Hey Presto, it’s finished!
Easter Wreath by RecklessHen
Easter wreath by RecklessHen

My wreath is finally hanging proudly on the door and I am off to put the rest of my Easter decorations up.
Happy Easter x

Home & Life · Uncategorized

First steps on Etsy

Today I have been designing new printables to go in the RecklessHen Etsy shop and it has been so much fun being back in the creative zone. I am happiest when I am doing anything creative, it relaxes me and creates a real feel good buzz. So after spending quite a few hours designing some prints and taking photos of them I logged on to Etsy to create the listings in the shop and my feel good mood quickly evaporated! I had completely underestimated the time it would take to get the listings done and how frustrating it would be to think I had finished only to find a mistake somewhere. After checking and rechecking a million times (Ok that’s a slight exaggeration but you get what I mean) I think I finally have them done correctly but I only managed to get 6 items uploaded. I am sure I will get quicker at it the more times I do it  – boy I hope so. If anyone has any advice on using Etsy efficiently I would love to hear from you.
Anyways, the first items are now in the shop so I declare it officially open and you can find it here. All the prints will be available in both printed and digital form so you can either print yourself at home or get a ready made print that you just need to pop in a frame and hey presto – new wall art. I love to change the decor in my home by adding a few new prints and some flowers and moving a few decorative pieces from room to room. Such simple, economical little tweaks can change the whole feel of a room without spending a fortune.
Here is a little peek at the new prints in the shop.


I would love to hear any advice on using Etsy.
Have a great weekend x

Crafting · Freebies · Home & Life · Uncategorized

Mother's Day round up and an Easter Freebie

With Mother’s Day looming how many people have forgotten to order their gifts in time for them to be delivered before Mother’s Day? I always do this whether it’s for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc. and I end up rushing to the shops and getting something that isn’t exactly what I wanted. So if that is you today then I thought I would do a quick round up of some of lovely, quick make at home gifts that would put a smile on any mum’s face.
First up is this sweet Crocheted Daffodil from Simply Crochet.

simply crochet crochet daffodil
Crocheted Daffodil from Simply Crochet

You could crochet up a few of them to make a bunch or add a brooch pin on the back to make a cute brooch. What mum wouldn’t be delighted with that!
Next up is a bouquet of Map Roses from Pillar Box Blue.
Map Roses from Pillar Box Blue
Map Roses from Pillar Box Blue

If you don’t have any old maps these would look just as good on pages from an old book or on scrapbooking papers.
Or what about Mother’s Day in a Jar from Hello Splendid.
Mother's Day in a Jar from Hello Splendid
Mother’s Day in a Jar from Hello Splendid

What a great way to pamper your mum, giving her lots of her favourite little treats in a pretty jar that she can use as storage afterwards.
If your mum likes to sew how about making this cute little Teacup Pincushion from Pins and Needles.
Teacup Pincushion from Pins and Needles
Teacup Pincushion from Pins and Needles

You could use some fabric from a favourite old blouse or dress, or from clothes that the grand-kids have grown out of to make this gift extra special.
Lastly, if you like to bake how about making this yummy Rose and Dark Chocolate Shortbread from Waitrose.
Rose & Dark Chocolate Shortbread from Waitrose
Rose & Dark Chocolate Shortbread from Waitrose

Add some pretty packaging to make a gorgeous handmade gift.
There are loads more fabulous ideas on Pinterest for quick and easy Mother’s Day gifts to make, but I warn you that you may end up spending so much time looking at all the great ideas that you don’t actually get the time to make anything (I speak from experience here lol).
Finally, with Easter just around the corner I thought I would make a cute Easter themed freebie for you. I love to add to my seasonal decor with printables because they are such a quick way to change things up a bit. Please remember that our Easter printable is Free for Personal Use only.
Easter Printable from RecklessHen
Easter Printable from RecklessHen

The printable will fit in an A4 frame and you can download it here.
Free Easter printable from RecklessHen
Free Easter printable from RecklessHen

If you like our printable please Pin it and if you use it we’d love to know.
Why not follow us on Facebook or Instagram too we would love to see you there 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there.

Home & Life · Uncategorized

Country Blog Retreat NI

It seems like ages ago that Tiny Little Lessons suggested that we go on an Instagram Retreat. I liked the sound of it but didn’t have a clue what to expect or who would be going and if I would know anyone or not. We booked our tickets anyway and I looked forward to it even if I was a little apprehensive about meeting so many new people. In the weeks leading up to it there was alot of surfing the net for something to wear and booking appointments to get nails done etc. When Sunday 24th September rolled around we loaded up the sat nav with the location and four of us set off on our road trip to the beautiful surroundings of Larchfield Estate.  Even though it is only 30 minutes from home I had never been to Larchfield before and I have to say I was so impressed with how beautiful it is. From the picturesque gardens & courtyard, to the fabulous orangery & barn, to the stunning guest cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck, the attention to detail was just perfect. It was all a real feast for the eyes and many, many photos were taken. I apologise in advance as this post is going to be photo heavy since there were just so many things to look and and drool over.
We started off the afternoon with welcome drinks and nibbles in the Orangery provided by Panacea Drinks, Clearer Water and Graham’s Bakery. They are three local companies and their drinks and food were really good and I will definitely look out for them in the shops now.


From the Orangery we headed into the barn which was decorated beautifully and all set up for afternoon tea. It was lovely to be able to put faces to the Instagram names and everyone was so friendly and chatty. After an inspiring talk from Anna from Blossoming Birds  we went on a photo walk in the beautiful gardens of Larchfield Estate. There were plenty of props at hand from giant balloons and letters to lovely lanterns. It was funny seeing so many Olympus Pen cameras every way we turned and boy were there so many opportunities to get some amazing photos. Here are some of my favourites.

After our walk we headed back into the barn for Afternoon Tea which was catered by French Village. The food was amazing and it looked so good no one wanted to be the first to lift something and ruin the photo ops but we forced ourselves 🙂 No words can do justice to how delicious these treats were so I will let the photos do the talking.

After lots of eating and plenty of chatting, we heard from some more inspiring local Instagrammers and bloggers. First was Kerry and Tara from Sisters and Sons, followed by Mel Wiggins and then a panel with Rachel from The Breton Bird, Laura-Ann from All That’s Pretty and Anna from Blossoming Birds. All had plenty of good advice and tips and lots of food for thought. We had a short break after this so it was off into the grounds again to have a look at the gorgeous cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck and to take lots of photos of course. First up is Myrtle. Wouldn’t you just love to spend a night here! You even have your very own sauna.

Next up is the cottages. All of them are absolutely gorgeous and I would happily stay in any one of them and be very happy indeed. The decor is flawless and the little touches and attention to detail are so perfect. It made me want to go home and redecorate the whole house.

After tearing ourselves away from the fabulous cottages it was back into the barn to hear from Andrew (@littlewoodmr) and Colin (@father_of_the_birds) with a light-hearted look at what life is like as an Insta-Partner.
All too soon it was time to depart Larchfield Estate with our goodie bags filled with treats and offers provided bygreat graet sponsors.
 
IMG_0560
Goodie Bags from the Country Blog Retreat NI (photo copyright @recklesskav)

 
It was an amazing afternoon spent meeting new people in fabulous surroundings, being fed delicious treats and hearing inspiring words. Thanks to Emma from Life at the Little Wood   (@littlewoodlife) for organising it all, can’t wait till next time.
I will leave you with this quote from Brene Brown that Mel Wiggins reminded us of
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”

In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘ Brene says that “I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

I love this reminder not to let fear stop us releasing our creativity, to go full steam ahead and live our best life on our own terms. We will make mistakes as we go and that’s OK, just learn from them and move on. I’m definitely going to print that quote out and post it somewhere I will see it everyday.
Do you have any quotes that inspire you daily?

Home & Life · Uncategorized

Decorating for Autumn

When my kids were smaller I used to have fun being OTT decorating the house for Halloween, the scarier the better. Now that they are older and not that interested in it anymore I was missing the decorating, so I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to decorate with an Autumn theme instead. I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.

Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen
Decorate your home for Autumn with RecklessHen

I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.
Autumn Decor by RecklessHen
Living Room decor with an Autumn feel by RecklessHen

This year I made a few things to add to my collection. I made an Autumn printable that you can download here and I crocheted a few pumpkins too. You can find the tutorial for them here. I also bought a new candle that I spotted in TKMaxx. It is a lovely orange pumpkin spice scented candle that says ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’ on it and the gold lid has the cutest, teeny, tiny pumpkin on it. I love it.  You can see it in some of the photos below.

In the rest of the house I added in some Hydrangeas from a friend’s garden, a jug full of Gerberas, some silk autumnal leaves, some greenery from my garden and some nuts and conkers. I love to settle down at night with the fire on, the candles lit and do some crocheting or knitting while the wind is howling outside and I’m all cosy indoors.
When it comes to looking for inspiration online for my Autumn decor a few of the places  I love to check out are Pinterest, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Here Comes The Sun and Ideal Home. I also find that garden centres can be full of inspiration. I don’t know much about plants myself but their fabulous displays mean I don’t need to as I can just pick plants that are in their displays and know they will work in my autumn decor as well. We have some amazing garden centres here in Northern Ireland and three of my favourites are Creative Gardens, Camerons and Hillside Nursery. Here are some of the photos I took this year when searching for inspiration.

And did I mention that they all have lovely coffee shops and it would have been rude not to take the time to sample the coffee and cakes while I was there 🙂 Speaking of coffee, when RecklessHen went on a roadtrip the other day we stopped off at Starbucks for our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season and Heather delved into her large handbag and out came some handmade autumnal props ready for an Instagram photo. The pattern for the leaves and acorns is from Just Pootling and the conkers were just made up as we went along.
Autumnal crocheted props
Autumnal props for our Pumpkin Spice Latte

Do you decorate for Autumn? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Food · Uncategorized

The best Sweetcorn Chowder Recipe

I don’t know about your house but in my house at meal times I often hear that delightful refrain from my kids of “Yuck, I’m not eating that!” This is particularly true when vegetables are involved. There are not that many meals that everyone in this house enjoys with no complaints whatsoever but my Sweetcorn Chowder is one of them and for that reason it is, as far as I am concerned, the best Sweetcorn Chowder recipe ever.

how to make Sweetcorn Chowder
How to make Sweetcorn Chowder by RecklessHen

I can be sure that whenever I make this, there will be no complaints at all, just happy faces and full tummies. I don’t remember where this recipe originally came from but I am sure it was inspired by something I read or saw somewhere.  I have been making it for so long now that I tweak it from time to time or add something extra now and then, but the basic ingredients and quantities stay much the same. The recipe below is just how I make it, timings may be different depending on your cooker.
chowder ingredients
Ingredients:
1 onion, diced
2 long celery sticks (or 3 short ones), diced
1 pack of 12 slices of smoked pancetta, cut up into small strips (or 2 of the small packs of ready cubed smoked pancetta)
A knob of butter or some olive oil
2 vegetable stock cubes
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into equally sized chunks
3 large corn on the cob (or you can use a couple of cups of frozen sweetcorn)
200ml double cream
1 litre of boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste
I have been known to substitute bacon for pancetta and have used milk when I have had no cream.
Method:
Put the onion, celery and pancetta into a large pan with the knob of butter (or oil) and sweat it slowly over a medium heat until the onion and celery have softened and the pancetta is starting to change colour. I usually do this with the lid on and check it regularly. It takes about 10-15 minutes. If it looks like it is starting to stick I add a little water to stop it.
chowder
Once the onion and celery have softened I make up the vegetable stock cubes in a litre of boiling water and add it to the pan. I turn up the heat and leave this to come to the boil and then I add in the potato. The potato acts as a thickener so if you like thicker soup you might want to add another and if you like thinner soup you might want to use one less. Trial and error is how I ended up adding 3 potatoes, as we like our soup quite thick.
chowder 2
Turn down the heat slightly and continue to cook until the potato is soft. While the soup is cooking prepare the corn on the cob by stripping the kernels off the cobs. If you are using frozen sweetcorn you won’t need to do this step. Once the potato is soft add the sweetcorn and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. At this stage you can add a little more boiling water if required.
Take the soup off the heat and use a handheld blender (or you could use a jug blender) to blend the soup until it is a consistency you are happy with. We like ours quite chunky but I know other people prefer it smoother so you can blend it as little or as much as you like. I do recommend that you do this very, very carefully as more than once I have ended up splattered with boiling hot soup.
chowder 3
Once it has been blended I put it back on the cooker, add the cream, heat it through for a minute or two and it is ready to serve.
We like ours with heaps of crusty bread just out of the oven. I often buy those packs of bread that are ready to bake but equally often I just buy a french stick or some other crusty loaf and heat it up.
chowder 4
I hope you can follow this and it turns out delicious. If you use the recipe I’d love to know.
Have a lovely weekend.

Home & Life

5 things I've learned

I have read so many of those ‘things I have learned’ posts over the years and I always find at least one thing in those lists that I completely get. I was thinking about that the other day and started to make a list in my head of what lessons I had learned in my five decades, and I actually surprised myself when I realised that I had learned some big lessons in my own life. Lessons that totally reinforced what I had read and heard from so many people. It made me ponder about how we can live in different cultures, have very different lives and yet we can have similar experiences. So I decided that I was going to commit my list of things I had learned to paper (or screen to be completely accurate). This is just my list, I’m not saying it should be yours or telling you how to live your life, it is just my observations on my journey so far.
Anyway here goes my list of 5 things I have learned, in no particular order……..

  • My mother really was always right, or at least she was right a heck of a lot of the time. The friends she didn’t like turned out to be crappy friends. The decisions she questioned often turned out to be mistakes. The time she wanted to spend with me would be time I looked back on now and treasured. When we are young we think we know it all and I wish I had realised then what I know now. That her advice came from experience and love, that she didn’t want me to make the mistakes she had, that she was only trying to make my life easier. What I would give now to have just one more hour with her. So lesson number one is LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.
  • Tea really does make everything better. Now I am not a big tea fan, I’m a latte lover, though I take it with only one shot of coffee and most people say it tastes more like warm milk but that is beside the point. The point is that I have never really got the tea makes everything better thing. I’ve always thought that’s a bit tough on us coffee drinkers and how on earth could a cup of tea make anything better. But I was thinking about it yesterday and I suddenly realised that it’s not the tea that makes everything seem better, its the fact that usually we will be sitting down and sharing that tea with a partner, a friend, a parent or someone else important to us. It is the being with the other person that makes everything seem better, like everything will be OK and no problem is too big to solve. Perhaps I am the only person who didn’t really get this and you all knew what it was about, but I am a very literal person so to me it was really saying that tea actually made things better. Now I can’t believe I didn’t see what it was all about yonks ago. So lesson number two is DRINK TEA (EVEN IF IT’S COFFEE).
  • Friendship is a two-way street. Now it is inevitable that in the course of our hectic lives juggling a million different things that sometimes the street will be busier one way that the other. That’s OK as long as the traffic still flows both ways. If it turns into a one-way street that is not OK. If one of our friends lets us do all the work, always being the one to call, to organise to meet up, to ring for a chat then that person is not really a friend. It can be hard to step away from a friendship but when it is not adding to your life or making you feel good then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why you are friends with that person. So lesson number three is BE A GOOD FRIEND.
  • Life is too short for regrets. This has been my mantra for the last 22 years. I lost someone very close to me through illness back then and in those final days one of the things that she said that really stayed with me was that she had no regrets about her life. I knew instantly that I wanted to be able to say that too and that if I kept on the path I was on that would never be the case. So I gave up my job to become a stay-at-home mum and moved closer to my parents as my dad wasn’t well. It wasn’t easy, to be honest it was really scary stuff, we were doubling our mortgage and halving our income at the same time but it felt right and I have never regretted it for a second.  For me all decisions are made using the ‘will I regret it’ measuring stick. I have found that, even when something doesn’t work out, I have no regrets now because I know I made the best decision for me. I am not saying that would work for everyone, we are all different, but for me it works. So lesson number four is REGRET NOTHING.
  • Don’t waste time worrying what people think of you. It really is true that the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. It doesn’t matter if you are not wearing the latest trend, are overweight, too short, too tall, too bossy, too quiet, don’t drive the right car, don’t live in the right area, didn’t go to the right school, don’t work in the right job, don’t mix with the right crowd. All those things are just ‘things’ and the people who judge you on them have warped values and empty lives if that is all that matters to them. What matters is how you treat people and what you give back to those around you. It is better to really rock at being you imperfections and all, than striving to be something you are not to try to please people who will always find something else to judge you on. Hold your head high, dance to your own beat and let them shove their judgements. So Lesson number five is  (to quote Dr Seuss) “TODAY YOU ARE YOU, THAT IS TRUER THAN TRUE. THERE IS NO ONE ALIVE THAT IS YOUER THAN YOU”

Phew, so that is my 5 lessons and if you got through all that well done.
What would your 5 lessons be?
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