Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Big Think

Watched The Iron Lady today and it struck me just how poignant the performance was from both Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent, but acting aside the story itself was incredibly informative without being a chronological guide, and very moving without being patronising or sentimental - a good balance! I knew very little about Thatcher's government and was keen to learn more about the woman behind the party, I'm pleased to say that I learned more than I expected to and have come to see Margaret Thatcher as a figure head for women, an inspiring character who was brave enough to put herself forward, identify the problems and she quite simply did get on with the task in hand against enormous opposition and difficult decisions. She ultimately did what she could with the resources to hand and yes there were some poor choices resulting in unrest and rioting but she dragged this country kicking and screaming (quite literally in some cases!) back to a semblance of it's former power and world standing.
There were several quotes throughout the film which I think are important to remember...and because I have the memory of a gold fish here they are for future reference and for your own perusal:

It used to be about trying to do something. Now it's about trying to be someone.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
- One must be brave if one is to take the wheel [I need to remember this own driving skills are questionable!]

And from various interviews or meetings that stand out - this will probably be added to over time:

My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police. [I find this is still applicable today, although how many people really do complete an honest day's work for an honest day's pay?]

Also started reading Kenneth Williams diaries by Russell Davies. A fascinating read capturing Kenneth's voice in the written word from the late 1940s through to the 1980's, learning an awful lot not only about his profession, but his life and struggles with friends, his sexuality, his work. Thoroughly engrossed and learning much more about the man behind the comedy films he is well known for, Carry On.
I want to include a quote from his diary because although I am not in any way religious, he made a very interesting point about the treatment of others and the treatment of oneself:
- Sunday 1st November 1953:
I think that the converse 'Do unto others as you would have done unto you' is a truth we would do well to reflect upon - 'Do unto yourself what you would have done to others.'
Very true words that resonate through the years and still apply today in a world where the individual has been lost and society seems to be a sea of blank faces, pushing and shoving in the great "rat race" to beat the competition. Stress and money are the key problems, finances, economy, wages, bills - all link to an inferiority complex; too much value is placed on material goods and this behaviour is being passed on to the next generation of children who want the latest in technology/fashion/games because they will not be "happy" without them. It's damaging to say the least and perhaps we should pause to remember the phrase of treat others as you would want them to treat you - have a little respect for fellow man and then broaden this to yourself. Respect yourself and your family, learn to appreciate what you have, the latest smart phone may give you short term "happiness"...right up until the next Big Thing but it is a false feeling.
Be proud of your achievements, recognise your hard work and take time to reflect on the here and now for this is life...Live It.

Well that's my rant over for one day, had lots of thoughts crowding my mind today and needed to let them out - my poor brain didn't like the overload in it's usually wide empty space!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Make Do And Mend...

It seems that we are harking back to the austere 1940s with the attitude of make do and mend...or are we?
It is now fashionable to have nostalgic items of furniture or patterned wall paper adorning our houses, slightly faded, re-painted in shades of cream and grey; dubbed shabby chic I too have succumbed to it's pretty veneer.
But maybe we should really start to listen to the older generation of the war years and not simply take something fashionable from it, starting with food and our eating habits. Britain was never healthier than the decade of the 1940s when the entire country was mobilised to Dig For Victory!

Growing our own fruit and veg is lighter on the pocket and most likely a big improvement on the tasteless mass produce found in the supermarkets.
This brings me nicely on to the TV programmes based around British food culture and tradition such as The Great British Bake Off with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Now into its third series it seems more popular than ever and has inspired me to try my hand at baking sometime in the near future. For now though there is the bread machine and I am loving trying different types of bread mixes. It's not really cheating, is it? ;-) I loved watching the Easter Masterclass that Mary and Paul presented together, a great mixture of appetising food and good humour!

In keeping with the Great British theme is the Great British Sewing Bee. Now textiles was a pet hate of mine during secondary school, the sewing machine hated me and since then I've stuck to the highstreet for my clothes. Yet I've grown more disillusioned with what the shops have to offer, namely cheap and disposable items that cannot withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Charity shops are the number one place to go, especially in the more upmarket towns such as Blackheath. So what if the items are slightly more expensive than your average charity store, these are quality pieces and some even sport designer labels for all you fashion followers! Keep an eye out for a bargain and you'll have vintage clothing at cut price that will last! Definitely making do, and if you are handy with a sewing machine you can make and mend your own and stand out in unique items that are tailored just for you!
Another of my favourite shows to tune into is Kirstie's Handmade Britain and Kirstie's Home for Christmas. Kirstie turns her hand to all sorts of makes and bakes in these programmes and gives helpful design tips for interior decor as well as making one off, special gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Perfect!

More on my training, writing and kitties soon!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

She's just a girl...

Everybody...'Aaand she's on fyrrrrr!' haha not exactly hotter than your fantasies but I was on fire during my high intensity work out today! After 4 days of rest and recuperation it felt good just to eat what I felt like over a relaxing weekend with my boyfriend and his family, but I don't like to sit still for too long so I decided to go for the burn today and did I burn?! Ouch is the answer to that. I did half an hour of high intensity circuit training which incorporates strength, cardio and abs which always leaves me pretty red in the face but I really feel the benefits of it through the day. That was followed up by a link to an even more intense workout for 10 minutes which was mostly strength and cardio combined and I think I will be paying for it tomorrow but it's all in the name of fitness for life! My next challenge is to get my mum involved but she is being very stubborn about it, claiming that age has got the better of her and that the weight is "stuck"'s mind set more than anything and it is a big factor in getting fit and being healthy. On the plus side she has taken more of an interest in the dietary side of things and has even suggested healthier options :) I'm getting there, I think!

I had to cut this post short yesterday so it is continued here!
In light of the passing of Baroness Thatcher I think it would only be fitting to spend a little time thinking about the role she played during a rather turbulent peace time in the UK. I am hardly qualified to comment on the Thatcher government policies as I was born a year after the government ended, yet I have heard a vast range of opinions on the Iron Lady and how one group said she turned this country around and one thinks she ran it into the ground and turned it into a commercialised money grabbing mess.
Well I am impartial and choose to remember her as a strong and brave woman in a time of strikes, power cuts, and the 3 day working week - I can imagine that aspect would be rather more popular these days! - in a political world that had been ruled by men since parliament was formed however many years ago and really belonged to the old boys club, it must have taken a lot of courage to stand up and bring about change in the face of stubborn opposition.
How my generation can bemoan this woman is beyond me, they were not affected by the policies or life and therefore should perhaps consider what they mean and whose opinions they are broadcasting before wishing her to hell in a handbasket - my facebook newsfeed has been inundated with such comments and I think it is more than disrespectful.
Then there are those old boys who claim that Thatcher was to blame for everything that could and did go wrong with this country and that we are her legacy of unemployment, lack of manufacturing and production.
It's so easy to blame one person for all of our current problems, especially since she is no longer present to hear these complaints and protests. Have some decency and respect; Margaret Thatcher acted as she deemed fit and I don't believe it is right to attack a person when the policies were enforced by a government, a group of people making the best of what they had to work with and taking on a country in turmoil from previous PMs and their own cabinets.
That said, I hope she has found peace and may she be remembered as a controversial but essentially brave and strong person...not to mention the first woman to be elected Prime Minister. Girl Power!

Rant over, I promise ;-)
Back to today, and I am ready for another workout having just demolished half an easter egg with coffee, yum! I may well put pen to paper this afternoon and get some more ideas down or type up vast pages of scenes that are looking rather forlorn on my desk. Time to stop neglecting it me thinks.
I found an interesting and fun article yesterday about language and how meanings can be changed over time, little bit off topic but it's in keeping with the writing theme...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

It's been a little while since I was last here, busy few days with a surprise 80th birthday celebration with long lost family one evening, followed by a lovely Easter Sunday meal. It was good just  to sit down with everyone for a gorgeous home cooked dinner and relax! Not forgetting a few chocolate treats on the side but it's probably best not to mention those...

In other news my circuit training has continued successfully all in the name of getting lean, toned and fit enough to complete Race For Life, provided I can get my mum to join in but that's a work in progress.

The kittens are 3 weeks old today, both have opened their eyes and ears to the world, welcome to the planet little ones! They are getting bolder and wanting to explore a bit more, Jeanie isn't too worried about their inquisitive nature which is good as we've had mum's in the past who can't understand why their kittens want to waddle around the nest and occasionally out of it! But she is doing a fantastic job with her babies and they even have a visitor in a few weeks time as a potential new slave *ahem* owner :)

On the writing front I've managed to re-plot a lot of the early part of the work in progress, it's a little more adventurous with added verve, definitely needed it! Once again though it is the characters who dictate where and how they get to these points and I'm learning slowly how to listen to them and block out the noise of everyday life, but I think that is something that writers are always learning how to do. Just to stop, take a step back from the daily grind, make a cup of tea or something stronger(!) and just think for a while...interesting things can happen, especially between 10 and 1 am which I find is the best time for me when I can keep my eyes open long enough.

New piccies of the Bengal babies sooooon!