Death and Taxes…

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Benjamin Franklin famously once said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes“, and in recent weeks I’ve experienced both. After chasing Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for well over a year I finally got my tax rebate – hurrah. It was a relatively small sum of money, but it was the principle that mattered most to me. It was MY money and therefore I didn’t see why anyone else should have it. On a sadder note, I experienced the passing of a very dear friend who I’d known for the past twenty years.

While I realise that anyone reaching their eighties is judged to have had ‘a good innings’, especially if they’d suffered bouts of ill health during their twilight years, it’s still upsetting when the inevitable happens. At times like these it makes you more aware of your own mortality and the preciousness of living. It also makes you realise that you only get one life and you mustn’t waste a single moment of it. Ted taught me many lessons, but the one which I will cherish the most is nicely summed up by British author and poet C. S. Lewis; ” You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream“…

Rest In Peace.

 

Strawberries and Wine…

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I’ve just attended my first annual staff picnic and in spite of concerns regarding the weather we were able to spend our lunchtime sitting on tartan blankets, surrounded by picnickers from all the other departments, munching on big, fat, juicy strawberries under blue skies beside the 18th century 4 star hotel on site. Even better, there was a chilled bottle of white wine involved.

Despite a rather persistent wasp, it was so nice to be out of the office and into the sunshine doing something so quintessentially British, although cramming fresh fruit down my neck like it’s going out of fashion during my dinner break might not have been such a good idea.  It’s also quite hard to focus on work in the afternoon when you feel ever so slightly tipsy. Thank heavens for strong coffee…

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Exciting Times Ahead…

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When an email suddenly appeared in my inbox from my new boss asking me to pop along to her office, without giving away any clues as to why, I did the very British thing of assuming that I’d done something wrong. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth because she immediately asked me if they could extend my temporary contract as she was so impressed with my work! She said she’d give me time to think about it, and half a second later I replied YES!  Never in a million years did I think I could begin a brand new career aged 54, and yet here I am, doing just that!

Oh my word, I didn’t see that coming. I knew that departmental contracts were currently being discussed but there was no way I was even thinking I’d be invited to stay. Of course, this happy development means that I’ve had to make some very big decisions, and I’ll now be leaving the familiarity of the self-employed position I’ve held for the past eight years so that I can fully focus on my new and exciting future. Burning bridges can be extremely scary, however, you simply can’t move forwards if you anchor yourself to the past. At times like this you just have to take a giant leap of faith, and trust that the universe will catch you…

Stalking Spacemen…

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Well, I’m not exactly stalking them, but since all the recent publicity about British astronaut Tim Peake arriving at the International Space Station, and the subsequent media frenzy over the first Brit to do a space walk, I’ve become ever so slightly obsessed with sky watching.

I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about seeing comets, meteors, eclipses and the like, but now that I have an ISS app on my new smartphone I can actually track when it’s going to be visible from my back garden (weather permitting). My neighbours have long since assumed I’m bonkers and no longer bat an eyelid at me waving like a maniac towards the sky on any given night, and it’s something which gives me a great deal of pleasure, albeit fleetingly.

The world we currently live in is so full of wars, death, hatred and other badness that it’s really nice to be able to have a little distraction from time to time. While standing outside in the cold, you can’t help but feel a connection to that teeny, but bright, light moving across the darkness, as you ponder on what else is out there…

Sunday Afternoon Tea…

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There’s something quintessentially British about indulging in Sunday afternoon tea at a fancy hotel restaurant, surrounded by traditional English meadows; which is exactly what my friends and I were doing this sunny, summer afternoon.

Pots of freshly brewed tea arrived as soon as we were seated, along with milk jugs and a bowl of sugar cubes (haven’t seen proper sugar cubes for years!) The sandwiches were sliced to perfection into identical sizes with crusts cut off (obviously), and carefully placed on the bottom of a 3-tiered cake stand. My eyes almost popped right out of my head when I saw the array of cakey treats and scones; thank heavens for elasticated waistbands! Everything from strawberry jam and cream to the moistest (yes, that’s a word) carrot cake I’ve ever eaten were all very much a joy to the taste-buds.

Wow, thank you to my fabulous friends for inviting me. Next stop, The Ritz!