My mammoth cycling challenge

I haven’t been too active on my blog recently, partly because of work, but also because I’ve been training and fundraising for a cycling challenge in September when I’ll be cycling from John o’Groats in the far north of Scotland to Lands End in the south of England, a distance of 1,013 miles, and although I’ve done many endurance events before, this will be the biggest so far.

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The route!

I’m doing the ride to raise money for Women V Cancer, a British organisation which represents three cancer charities: Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action and I’ve pledged to raise £3000 by the end of July (which is probably more daunting than the actual ride!).

I hate asking for money, but any donations, no matter how small, would be really appreciated. There’s more information on my Just giving page (click the link below), or you can text using the information below to donate £3 – every little bit will hopefully help me to reach my goal!

Thank you so much!

Just click here to donate – thanks!

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Sunday Photo Fiction – ‘The Return’

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Heidi remembers this place from her childhood. She remembers the brisk walks her parents insisted they went on after church and the cheery, school-related talks her sullen teenager self was forced to endure as they bounded over fences and pushed their way through creaky kissing gates; She remembers the eggs they stole from the field near the farm. Left by wayward hens, according to her father, and so they were entitled. And the scrambled egg they’d make afterwards with the yolks as bright and yellow as the sun.

She remembers thinking how mind numbingly dull this place was. How the silence made her want to scream and scream until the ancient oak trees screamed back at her. She couldn’t wait to leave this place. Rushed off to uni as soon as she turned 18, fell into marriage before she was 30 and became an eminent lawyer by the time she was 40.

Now as Heidi strolls through the verdant Yorkshire countryside in her Hunter wellies and Barbour jacket, she breathes in the blissful peace, punctuated only by the chirp of a bird and bark of a distant dog, and feels sad that she hadn’t visited her dad more often.

He died alone, said the doctor. Was found slumped in a chair with Scottie by his side. Heidi cries when she thinks of this; but then she sees Scottie racing towards her, stick in mouth ready for her to throw it once more and she smiles.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction -‘Cocooned in a festive bubble’

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On Christmas Day the rain came. There was no warning. Cocooned in our festive bubble, we didn’t realise till the evening when we looked out to find ourselves marooned. The oven was hurriedly switched off and the turkey shoved in the larder for a more suitable time. Firemen brought sandbags and words of advice but we slept badly that night and awoke the next morning to see the garden waterlogged and water gushing through the pipes surrounding the house.

We fished out dust covered wellies from the loft and trudged through the deepening water to seek help. The roads nearby were covered with puddles with huge Range Rovers steaming through them splashing any poor beggar in sight. We’d never seen Yorkshire like this. The water continued to rise until it was almost level with the front door. We looked in horror, but there was little anyone could do but hope, and pray, if that you were that way inclined. And then, as if by magic, the water subsided and kept on subsiding until the paving stones were visible again. The danger had gone and our house felt safe once more. It was time to eat the turkey.

This post was written for Sunday Photo Fiction 

SoCS -‘Be’– #AtoZ Challenge

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “be.” Use it as is or at the beginning of the word you decide to base your post on. Enjoy!

Being rather than Doing

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To be or not to be? In the past it was ‘not to be’ as when I was younger, life was all about doing. I travelled constantly, ran hard every day, enrolled on course after course, dated obsessively and generally tried to cram my life with as many activities as possible. I felt that if I wasn’t doing something then I wasn’t truly living. Now, however things have changed a little. Although prone to the odd bout of apathy (see previous post!) when I have a tendency to beat myself up for not accomplishing anything of note, I’m more able to recognise the value of simply being, without feeling the need to ‘do’ anything. Take today for example. I had plans, lots of them. I was going to go for a long bike ride, I was going to work on my novel, I was planning to tidy my flat etc. etc. but that was before I went out last night.

Last night was relatively unplanned but I ended up having a beautiful evening with one of my best friends and her boyfriend. We went to a lovely little cafe around the corner, where we ate tapas, drank wine and danced to Spanish music. I hadn’t planned to drink much but .. today I woke up with a hangover and a feeling of general laziness.

It’s a gorgeous day here so all I feel like doing is chilling out and enjoying the sunshine – my plans have changed, but I feel fine with that. Being present to the moment is all about focusing on what is happening right now, without worrying about what you feel you ‘should’ be doing. I might try a little meditation later and luxuriate in the fact that I don’t have to do anything today if I don’t want to.

This was my post for SoCSB.jpg

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‘Boiled egg?’

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “egg.” Use it as a noun or a verb. Enjoy!

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Some time ago, Mum came to stay with me in London. My dad had died a few years before that and Mum wasn’t managing well alone so I invited her down for a few days. Of course I loved having her to stay but she brought with her some rather orthodox values. She found it very difficult to accept that I was in a relationship which involved my boyfriend spending the night with me, in my bed.

‘It would never happen in my house,’ she said.
‘But it’s not your house, it’s mine,’ I said. And so it went on.
Anyway, my boyfriend at the time happened to be a drummer and his hours of work tended to be rather anti-social, with him very often not turning up at mine until well after midnight. I told Mum this and mentioned that I wouldn’t be needing tea in the morning as I probably wouldn’t go to bed until late.
She pulled a face and nodded and nothing more was said on the matter.
Adrian appeared at around 3 am and we collapsed into bed.

The next day there was a knock on my bedroom door at 7. I dragged myself up to answer it, only to find Mum standing outside with a stony face and two mugs.
‘Cup of tea?’ she said.
I couldn’t believe it, especially after what I’d said the night before, so I had a go at her and went back to bed.
‘I can’t believe you spoke to your mother like that!’ said Adrian. ‘In Jamaica we have respect for our parents!’
‘Yeah but I told her you were coming over late…’
‘There’s no excuse, you need to apologise.’
I hadn’t been seeing Adrian long and didn’t want to ruin anything so I wandered through to the kitchen to find Mum sitting at the table, looking rather dejected.
‘I find this all very difficult.’
‘What exactly?’
‘Men that you’re not married to staying the night. It’s not done in our family.’
‘Well I’m sorry but this is my flat, Mum.’
‘Yes I realise that and I’ll try to get it used to it but it’s not easy for me,’ she said.
Anyway, I tried to comfort her and eventually when she seemed happier, went back to bed. By this time it was 7.30. I’d just got back to sleep when at 8 am, there was another knock at the door. I got up to find Mum was standing there with two saucers.
‘Boiled egg?’ she said.

This was my post for SoCS    (slightly late this week!)

(If you’d like to join in, here are the rules)
1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.
2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.
3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.
4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.
5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.
6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!
7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.
8. Have fun!

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AdHoc fiction ‘The Green Parrot’

My entry to this week’s Ad Hoc Fiction competition (a story of around 150 words). It had to contain the word ‘branch.’ You can vote for it or enter yourself here!

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After the argument I wandered through to the living room and glanced outside. Between the interstices of the blinds I spied a green parrot, swooping up to the top branch of the tallest tree and then down to the small bird table in our neighbour’s garden. It paused there for a moment, then repeated the journey twice, landing on the same branch each time.
The branch seemed grateful for its visitor, and stretched upwards into the leaden sky as though out of gratitude.
‘Where did that parrot come from?’ said John. I hadn’t heard him come in and his voice was softer than half an hour before.
‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ I murmured. Its chartreuse feathers were in stark contrast to the gloomy winter surroundings.
‘Mmm,’ said John. ‘Forgiven?’ And he handed me a mug of steaming coffee and pulled me into his arms.