Winding down after exams…with Keats

I am mindful that my blog has been neglected I have had reason to rant…but I confess I too have been winding down after exam invigilating, supporting students through the exam period and being a mature student. Though I still have an exam to do!! However, I have not been lazing around and have enjoyed a few cultural experiences alongside the usual challenges of my counselling and freelance work.

Last weekend I attended an event organised by the Redbourn Museum where we were fortunate to be visited by Professor Nicholas Roe from St Andrews University a historian and writer specialising in Keats one of the greats.  We were treated to a great talk and I managed to purchase and have signed his latest book on John Keats. This followed an interesting evening of poetry and wine in the museum gardens where various poetry lovers read from their favourite books; I chose Rupert Brookes, a few Haiku gems and one or too old favourites.

I had forgotten just how much poetry had featured in my own life and reflected on happy memories of reading from my mother’s poetry books as a small child. Writing poetry, indeed any writing is always therapeutic and it can be fun don’t forget even if you just write it for your own private reasons. However, don’t be shy try and get it published you may surprise yourself.

Normal daily blogging will resume now and for those students awaiting exam results try not to get too stressed enjoy your break you have earned it and I wish you all well with your results and chosen career paths. I will be writing about how choices change in the forthcoming weeks…and sometimes unexpectedly for the better.

 

British tradition

Those that know me are aware I eat pretty healthily and don’t over indulge in take-aways. However, let’s be honest we all crave a treat now and then and how satisfying it can be to a) not have to cook b) enjoy a traditional meal and c)be able to say the quality was high?

Last night my daughter and I decided it should be a fish and chips night and we are lucky in our village we have a great fish and chip shop ‘The Old Cottage’. The chips are not greasy, but clean and fresh. I was lucky to indulge in rock salmon and be transported back to being a child – the safe option only one large bone. The fish was soft, tasted better than I remembered and the batter light and crispy. I only hear good comments on their food and in a village it’s vital to look after your customers and Nev and his staff certainly do that.

I walked off those few chips this morning and my cats are still licking their lips from their fish supper too. It’s great to support these British Traditions especially when you know the proprietor carefully selects his produce from quality suppliers for best results.

 

The Enchanted Tea Rooms

It is never easy starting a new business and I wish the ladies running the new tea rooms in my village good luck. The Enchanted Tea Rooms is just what we needed in our sleepy village (Redbourn) a place to meet friends other than a franchise coffee shop. The decor  is fab it’s like walking into a cross between Laura Ashley and your Nan’s sitting room.

Not only can you get a cream tea but they serve all sorts of healthy prepared on the spot lunches and snacks. Your afternoon tea can be booked in advance for parties with the offer of Prosecco or Champagne…what’s not to like?

I hope the villagers make the effort to support this new addition to our High Street and make it a success for the ladies and keep it open for years to come.

This week a business colleague and I chose to leave our cars, take a walk and have our catch up meeting there and we were not disappointed, service was friendly and the food was good.

Dementia Action Week

During my privileged experience of working with dementia clients and their families I always maintain that getting to know the unit is vital. Making my sessions personal and enjoyable for the person facing the challenge of dementia has been my daily aim this will include working with all the senses to act as triggers for positive and happy memories. Music is one way of communicating universally with people of all ages and with all challenges including children with severe learning difficuties as well as those with alzheimers.

Last night when attending a local talk I discussed how I feel very strongly that nobody should be forced to attend a day centre if that is not for them and/or to take up painting or any other activity – if they didn’t like it before then don’t assume they will now! Encouragement yes by all means. I have heard how people have become agitated when placed in unfamiliar surroundings and one of the best and easiest ways to dilute anxiety is to avoid it.

Carers wellbeing is just as important as those suffering with dementia and too often pride prevents them from asking for help from those that believe they are coping better than they are. They need a break away from the 24/7 life with dementia which may have become their way of life and often making them a prisoner in their own home.

Sometimes carers lead a withdrawn life as they feel embarrassed by their partners behaviour or others have made them feel uncomfortable – we need far more understanding generally towards those families living with dementia.

I often write about dementia being similar to a bereavement and talking to children faced with parents with dementia this is so often the best way to describe how they feel as they lose the person they love.

If you are looking for a new charity to support then consider the dementia charities -Alzheimers Society and/or Dementia UK they need your help to fund care, research and support.

Being kind

Being kind and grateful feature frequently on my blog and I often say how kindness is not a weakness. Today I will quote a few words from ‘Alfie’ by the great Burt Bacharach to ponder:-

‘What’s it all about, Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind, Alfie…’

On speaking about kindness and being grateful with various pastoral colleagues it often seems that to some modern day people it’s uncool to be either…but I am an old-fashioned girl and believe we only get out what we put in and demonstrating kindness in all that we do, considering others… then we are happier ourselves. At the end of the day be grateful for any small achievement, success or happy moment and I promise you will wake up the next day feeling more positive and ready to face the day ahead.

Speaking to a recently bereaved gentleman yesterday; I reminded him to think about the good times and funny moments he had shared with his wife and after our unscheduled encounter he said he felt better and that made me feel grateful for my training too.

To the icecream man who gave me a free icecream this week after a hot afternoon invigilating- thanks for that tiny act of kindness Mr Whippy. You made an old girl very happy.

 

 

Anastasia’s St Albans

My local followers will know Anastasia’s Greek restaurant in St Albans is one I often recommend. My family and friends have been eating and celebrating there now for twenty years plus.

Over the years I have held many a corporate, charity or family event and never been disappointed the food is great and the atmosphere always welcoming.  Costa and his team always go the extra mile to ensure their guests whatever they are celebrating have a good time.

Whether you choose from the main menu or book your party for a meze you won’t be disappointed. With music, dancing and traditional greek entertainment at weekends it’s party time for certain.

Thanks again to Costa for making our family meal memorable last Friday.