Do I go to Graduation?

So I passed my Master’s Degree, yes me. I

Jodie Portugal has a Master’s Degree, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with it before anyone asks.

The fact I have it is surreal, how I found out was also surreal.

Sitting with my sister Anna in Berlin, and filming my reaction while drinking vodka.

Now I have to decide if I want to attend my Graduation or not, even after making it through my Master’s Degree.

But that means going to Kingston, something which doesn’t exactly fill me with joy.

Being the one who deferred, I missed out on seeing the class of 2016. The class I was meant to be a graduate, and then had to meet and try to establish friendships with the class of 2017. That wasn’t easy, It’s amazing how different a year is because when I went back, I found an entirely different experience.

Perhaps it was the new political sphere, the fact that Democracy didn’t work the way they desired. Let’s blame Donald Trump because he’s such an easy target! But there was an undercurrent of tension amongst the students, which meant it was harder to relate to anyone. Additionally, for some reason, it was so easy for them to get offended by nothing.

Sometimes with the other students, and I will be writing more about this at a later date. Perhaps if I get a job far away in the Antarctic, where they can’t find me. When it came to the lectures, at times, it became a type of class warfare.

One of the best examples of this doesn’t relate to my own experience. A male working-class student who came to class straight from his job wrote a fantastic story on what it is to be a disenfranchised working class man in today’s society, written like a black comedy.

For all this hard work and efforts, the piece was sexist, and it was all about “Patriarchy”. Because he dared to be brutally honest, and do it brilliantly.

Instead of constructive criticism on a creative piece, sometimes it became a character assignation. Just because someone writes about a subject, doesn’t mean they, themselves believe in it. We were all on the course to become better writers, and that means going out of our comfort zone and exploring new ideas.

Looking around the University, there were so many things that never made sense to me,  and I still don’t understand how the university sphere has changed since I did my BA and it wasn’t that long ago. It’s like a small minority of the current students are taught to be victims, to the extent they believe it themselves.

This is what I didn’t sign up for, but something I had to endure. For years I’ve read about the outrage culture in USA Universities, and I never thought I would ever encounter it there.

But luckily that was only one of the classes, the other where we shared and critiqued poetry and stories were nice. At the time, all my work was based on my dad, and they were really supportive of me about it. So kudos to them.

Overall the thought of going back to my University for my Graduation gives me a sense of unease. There were many students I liked, and my Tutors were pretty cool, especially when I had to defer because my dad was dying of cancer.

Besides, I was there for an MA, for the Batchelor Students and the rest, the ones who made Kingston their home and enjoyed their time studying and working hard. Then this is their time and their Graduation, they’re the ones who’ve earned it.

Another reason not to go is that Winchester was my home for four years. Over my many misadventures, I partied in Bop (The Student Union), chilled out on the grass next to the Statue of King Alfred, and staggered up the really steep hill to West Downes. Even though I haven’t really gone back since 2004, it was my home.

With Kingston, I just got on a bus a couple of times a week.

Perhaps I’m really being too hard on the situation, but in comparison to my original University which admittedly even then I had a hard time settling in. I didn’t have the “University Experience”, I had to do my Degree and pretty much work full time, and that was the reality of my situation.

More importantly, when it comes to Graduations, Winchester do things with style.

The ceremony itself was in Winchester Cathedral, place of the grave of Jane Austen, Tomb of Cardinal Beaufort and it was way too long, but it was historic. Winchester is, of course, the original capital of England, and well, I had just passed my BA, so it was a moment of pride to be there with my parents, and my grandmothers.

In 2017, it’s just going to be my mum since I doubt my siblings will be able to take time off work. Unlike Winchester, for guests’ ticket’s you have to pay £23 per person, for the privilege. Winchester does them for free.

Throw in the cap and gown, and that’s another £51 for rental for something I’m going to wear for a few hours, along with the photographs and everything else. From a financial point of view, it feels like a waste of money. Besides, I can get a picture done at a studio in Kingston, with my family at a later date, which is more appealing.

Another thing which bothers me is that in Kingston, there are no Balls. Kingston University has no Balls, apart from the start of the year. So they have their Graduation Ball at the START of the year, celebrating something they haven’t even done yet?

Unlike Winchester, which was an event. We totally took over Winchester Guildhall, there were floors of music, it was a great atmosphere and a total celebration. I still don’t remember getting back to where I was staying.

Overall, I’m proud of myself for doing a Master’s Degree. I am trying to figure out what to do with it with returning after deferring, and all the issues I faced when my dad died.

I have to congratulate Kingston for all the help they did give me, I really wish the experience of being a Mature Student was a lot better the second time around.

So to go or not? Have to admit it will be nice to see some of the staff again and a few of the students. To be the Graduating Class of 2017, even though my time in Kingston could have been better.

However, I do want a Bear, yes, it has been pointed out to me that I’m not a child. But I want a Graduation Bear.

When I Graduated first time around, my parents got me a Bear from The Bear Factory (remember them), and I’ve still got it. And now I want another one, but from Build a Bear, since they took over The Bear Factory, years ago.

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The one I earned for getting a BA

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This is my MA Bear, hopefully

I’m graduating, I’ve earned that bear, with the sash and everything.

Aside from these small instances I mentioned, I did enjoy Kingston, it’s a beautiful place with great shops and a beautiful city.

The University was really supportive of my situation and gave me all the help I needed when I was struggling through the final weeks. I was published in a book, so it wasn’t all bad.

However, regarding Kingston, I do think it was undeserved of the current 102 ranking in the League Tables out of 129. I give it so much respect for it’s diversity, library, all the fantastic societies, the inclusivity and all the staff and students, especially the ones who have just graduated. But to go to the ceremony, yes I’m a little unclear.

https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings

https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/kingston/

 

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Verona Denied: Writing a Letter to Juliet

I love being a solo traveller, there are some advantages to travelling alone. I get to see and do what I want when I want, this year alone I’ve been to Poland, and the other week went back to Berlin.

It was four days of déjà vu seeing the city again. One of the few moments I was part adventurer and part tour guide with my sister Anna (previously referred to on this blog as “R”) and her seven-year-old daughter Mackenzie!

It was their first time in Germany, and of course, I had to join them. One holiday, where I wasn’t alone, but having survived Legoland Discovery Centre, there were moments I wished I was!

Sadly, when taking children on holiday, you have to do activities they want to do. That being said the Christmas shop in Käthe Wohlfahrt is fantastic, cynic that I am, it’s just amazing.

However, now I have to plan a new holiday, and having been to Naples and Pompeii, I was considering Italy again.

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Yours truly in Pompeii, a few years ago

My gaze was looking to Lake Garda and Verona, the land of history, culture and Romeo and Juliet, and one that I, as a spinster should, never visit.

I’ve been informed as one of the romantically challenged if I ever set foot in Verona, even if I have the dream of standing on Juliet’s balcony and doing the opening. The “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…” One opening I love, since it tells you the ending, and now we’re about to find out how this “…pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life”.

This is one place, someone like me should never ever set foot in. Because apparently Verona is full of love, and life and smiling happy couples, with proposals taking place every five seconds.

With so much love that winged cupids appear shooting their arrows into the air, destined to land on soulmates, who would then burst into song, so every moment is like a Disney Parade!

Then again Romeo and Juliet is one play where everyone ends up dead and or unhappy, perhaps I’m onto something.

However, I with my spinster status would be the subject of scorn and pity, with everyone wondering how I cope being alone waiting for me to interject that “I have my pets to keep me company”. This situation would call for a cat, I know of the stereotype, though I’m suspicious of cats, and most of my family are allergic to them.

So being a spinster, with no feline companion, I’m all alone in the world. If I had the desire to be entirely dramatic as one of the perpetually unloved. I would wear a full wedding dress, for the wedding I never got to attend, go to Lake Garda, and throw myself in.

My bloated corpse would be found, all dramatic in this wedding garb, like an aquatic Miss Havisham and have my Spirit haunt the Lakes. Tales would be written about me, of this strange apparition who could speak Shakespeare and glides around the Lakes doing whatever it is the Spirits do and being all dramatic about it.

Verona is banished, and all the world is to nothing, Verona, I shall not enter your city and stay away, alone and in shame.

However, this means I would never write my Letter to Juliet.

Strange that I would have a guilty pleasure film, and it’s that. Part romantic journey, and advert for the Tuscan Tourist Board. Here’s the gist of the plot, which was entirely spoiled by the trailer anyway.

Sophie is in Verona with her fiancée who is more focused on getting his restaurant sorted then give her any attention, and though he’s a nice guy, neither of them should be together.  But after meeting The Juliet Club, based on real women who do just that in the film, she finds a letter going back to 1957 from Claire and her lost love Lorenzo.

After writing back to her, and even though it’s been decades. Claire and her grandson Charlie come to Italy to meet Sophie and find Lorenzo. Hence the journey across Tuscany.

As films go, it’s cheesy, Charlie is a cynical Brit (We do that so well) but love, is love and any film with Vanessa Redgrave and her real-life husband Franco Nero, you cannot hate.

What the film doesn’t focus on, after the main plot starts, is The Juliet Club, and their words of solace and advice. Real women who answer all the letters, cards and emails.

Seriously an email, I wrote an email to Juliet. For once putting my cynicism aside and being honest with myself and my lack of romance. Writing is cleansing for the soul, and I bared all of mine.

You also have to love the sheer deliciousness of emails, since Romeo and Juliet died because of a letter went astray, delivered post-haste which could have saved them both. But then again, I just wrote an email to a fictional character who died in the 16th Century. This is where you have to just roll with it.

So my letter, to Juliet if I ever get a reply, which will be published on this blog along with what I wrote.

And if you wish to write a letter to Juliet, here are the details.

http://www.julietclub.com/en/

 

 

 

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The Silencing of Kermit the Frog

I love the Muppets

No, seriously I grew up watching them. Ever since I was a toddler, watching Sesame Street.  Though I developed a small fear of Big Bird, because someone decided to educate me that they weren’t real, and told me that “Inside Big Bird, is a person”.

To my four-year-old self who couldn’t see the rods, (because I wasn’t looking for them) to me that meant, “Big Bird ate that person”. Look I was four, what else was I meant to think!

From there it was Fraggle Rock, the Muppet films, The Dark Crystal. Which everyone let their children watch, because a film with puppets can’t be terrifying, can it?

I can’t be the only one out there who isn’t still freaked out by the Skeksis and of course I love Labyrinth, even after meeting Brian Froud, I had to tell him. “Sod the baby, I would be the Goblin Queen in a heartbeat”. He laughed because he gets told that a lot, I can even quote Labyrinth, if anyone cares.

Now I’m in my thirties, I know they’re not real, but they are an integral part of my childhood, and I love that each generation gets their “Muppet Moment”.

Be it Sesame Street or The Furchester Hotel, but let’s be honest here, Ryan Dillon is no Kevin Clash, and Elmo will never be the same again. For shame for shafting Kevin Clash, three years ago. I have to get that off my chest.

I see puppeteering as an art form, the same way a voice artist gives the soul to an animation. The puppeteer brings an inanimate object to life, they are the heart of the character, and I’m fascinated by the process.

Most of the Muppeteers start young, and I’m envious of that, to know what you want to be at such an early age. Since it’s a job that isn’t easy, but you’re joining a remarkable legacy which stretches back to Jim Henson.

So it’s a bit disturbing that Kermit the Frog, the mascot and leader of The Muppet’s has had his soul ripped out.

In 1992. Steve Whitmire had the hardest job for a Muppeteer, yes he had worked for the Henson Company for years. But now been asked to take on the iconic role in The Muppets Christmas Carol.

The retelling of the classic novella by Charles Dickens, with a more mature tone and a chance to prove the Muppets were still relevant. And they nailed it.

Even Michael Caine respected the absolute truth that the film was never about him, and he may have been the human lead, but he wasn’t the star. The same way that Tim Curry knew this in The Muppets Treasure Island, and was also having the time of his life in that film.

Steve Whitmire nailed Kermit the Frog, proving he could carry on Jim Henson’s legacy. I loved how his Kermit was slightly more jaded, more trying to be the peacekeeper and often the only sane voice in the room.

One of my favourite scenes in Muppets Most Wanted is when he goes berserk in the Gulag and tells everyone to shut up. I always knew he was repressing his anger.

In the chaotic world of the Muppets, Kermit had always been the only sane voice and had led to some heartbreaking scenes, it’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, but brilliantly done.

Character wise his relationship with Miss Piggy has always been a little bit strange. She’s pretentious and a drama queen, and makes everything about her, but is actually hiding a jaded heart and longs for love and stability.

However, she’s in love with a guy who keeps her at a distance emotionally, and won’t commit to her. Their relationship gets violent, due to her quick temper, but they still get back together. Miss Piggy even gave up her career to be with him, though that was her choice to do so…and he still won’t commit.

Then again Piggy is an emotional abuser who stalks Kermit when he has any type of female friend, tries to trick him into marriage, and when he finally gets out of that relationship tries to be happy.

He then hooks up with his co-worker Denise, so they all have to try to work civilly together, so Kermit has to deal with his passive aggressive ex and forge a relationship with Denise.

Kermit really is life’s left handed bitch sometimes, isn’t he?

But whatever you feel about Kermit, Steve Whitmire nailed each performance. But now for reason’s unknown, he’s been shafted from the careers he’s been working in since 1978.

Almost forty years, doing his reason for being put on this planet, according to this article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40605783

““He (Whitmire) said the Muppets were not “just a job, or a career, or even a passion” but “a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life”.

He told fans: “I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point. I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero.””

No Steve, you never failed us. They failed you.

None of us is disappointed in Whitmire. We’re disappointed that Kermit’s second soul has been ripped out to be replaced by Matt Vogel.

I have nothing against Matt Vogel, he’s been with Sesame Street since 1987, he’s a veteran Muppeteer. I love Uncle Deadly, in The Muppets, and you have to admit it’s a bit twisted since he also performed Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted.

I am not doubting his abilities, but as a Muppet fan, I am disappointed at the circumstances that gave him the role of Kermit. Circumstances we don’t know about, and most likely never will know.

Whatever the reason, Steve Whitmire, is gone from the Muppets and from Disney and has been for several months. The reasons…speculation runs rife. But it’s possible he will never perform a Muppet character ever again.

But all I can say is thank you, Mr Whitmire, for continuing the legacy of Jim Henson, he chose his successor well. And Matt, Good luck, because the responsibility is on your shoulders.

Just good luck

 

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Exploring the Liban Quarry/Schindlers List Set

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The Krakus Mound

I’m the type of person, who when I get an idea about something. I become fixated on it. I must do it, nothing will stop me. From Climbing the O2, to Abseiling off a building, and hopefully one day I will meet Michael Rooker!

One of the reasons I went to Poland was that I had to see the Liban Quarry, because that’ s where the abandoned set of Schindler’s List still stands, sort of, It’s abandoned and derelict after all. And most of it was stripped, and the rest left to rot.

Steven Spielberg decided to create Płaszów, in an abandoned Quarry in Krakow.

I was going to Poland, to explore the culture, eat Sernik, visit Auschwitz and find an abandoned quarry.

I worry about my sanity sometimes.

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Right in the distance, that was my destination 

My own feelings of Oskar Schindler. A drinker, gambler and womaniser, who ultimately failed in his marriage, business and life. Turned on by his own people for saving the Jews, unable to get Visa’s because he was a Nazi. Yet, took a stand when the human race needed him to.

I admire people like that. The reason why he did it…perhaps his background, his idealism. Or just because he wore the banner didn’t believe in the ideology.

For every Herman Goth, Herman Goering and Joseph Mengele. There is a Schindler, a John Rabe, a Karl Plagge. And so much more.

Ever since I found out about the abandoned film set, I knew I had to see it. I saw Schindler’s List when I was sixteen, in school while doing my GSCE History. The film had an impact on me. Even though I had seen many films and documentaries about the atrocities on all sides about WW2.

My dad being a history enthusiast, and my family didn’t believe in censoring their children from the realities of War. One of the things I noticed at an early age was Nazi’s were usually played by upper-class Brits. It’s true that we can make reading a shopping list sound sinister!

The simple fact I got to my hotel, threw my suitcase to the floor and headed out to find it, shows how single-minded I really am.

Liban Quarry is by the Krakus Mound, which I caught a Tram, walked for ages to find said Krakus Mound, until a lovely woman who works as a tour guide put me out of my misery. The views from beneath the mound were spectacular. I didn’t climb it because I was saving my energy.

Unlike most abandoned places, the Quarry is open for everyone, but it’s now a nature reserve, you have to be careful, and there is no marked trail. I just found it by finding the most worn path, and the most challenging I later found out.

Seriously, two hours in Krakow and I was coming to the realisation, that no one knew where I was going. Where I was, and I had the image of my stricken body becoming lost in the marshland.

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Abandoned train tracks 

Getting to the location was an exercise in stumbling after I slid to the bottom trying to get down a slope. My body now battered, cut and bruised and since it was marshland, my Anglo-Saxon skin was ripe for mosquitoes. I got to the damn place. Jubilation.

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These are props, but they go on for so long 

It’s weird after seeing a place in black and white for so many years, now seeing it in glorious rusted technicolour, and even though I knew they were fake. Just props. It felt eerie.

There were people around me, in fact, some gardeners were doing some maintenance not far from me, but I felt so much solitude while I was exploring the place. Because this wasn’t just a film set. It was a combination of set, and the remains of a real forced labour camp for two years of the Nazi occupation.

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Leftover electric fences props 

It’s a strange blurring of fiction and reality. Because real people died here, along with the actors recreating deaths for the camera. It’s an unusual type of silence I have only found in real Concentration Camps I have been too. Because real inmates from the real Płaszów were sent there and Spielberg made a film set in its shadow.

Even though I knew the gravestones were fake, it doesn’t lessen their impact.

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I climbed this by hand…not a good idea

Climbing through the Quarry, seeing the sets and the remains of the real place, you can just see Steven Spielberg standing there directing the actors who worked on his masterpiece.

 

 

After about two hours exploring, getting out was easier than getting in, all I did was go past the car park and followed the sound of traffic until I came to a bridge!

Yes, that simple.

 

But seeing the set for myself on my first day in Krakow, even with the cuts and bruises I acquired, to stand there at the set of atrocity and magnificence

Worth it

 

 

If you want to go there, remember you enter at your own risk

here are the links which helped me

https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/krakus-mound_49805v

https://www.inyourpocket.com/krakow/liban-quarry_49806v

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir/Krakus+Mound,+30-543+Krak%C3%B3w,+Poland/Kamienio%C5%82om+Liban,+Armii+%22Krak%C3%B3w%22,+Krak%C3%B3w,+Poland/@50.0370468,19.955591,507m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x47165b5116eb7d0f:0x76735d35fb48c49b!2m2!1d19.9584675!2d50.0380686!1m5!1m1!1s0x47165b50d38461b9:0xed16f44846e01969!2m2!1d19.9564606!2d50.0365272

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On not having a Dad on Father’s Day.

When you lose a parent, everything becomes a series of first with absence. First Wedding Anniversary, first Birthday and first Father’s Day.

This is the first Father’s Day without ours, it’s been an interesting year without him too. It’s an adjustment, trying to get used to that empty space at the table.

However, with the build up to Father’s Day, it’s a constant reminder of celebrating the men in our lives, when the most important man in mine has gone.

When we lost Dad, we all deliberately put more focus on mum, since this was her first year as a widow. In combination, for her wedding anniversary, birthday and Mother’s Day. We took her for dinner at the Ritz (Courtesy of a Time Out offer), went to a relaxing caravan for a weekend, which had a hot tub. Then last week took her to see Les Miz.

Out of all the members of my family, I am the only one to have read the book, by Victor Hugo. Something I regret since I was a bit jaded after finishing it and then felt worse about it after seeing the film.  The musical, a million times better.

For my dad’s birthdays (also in June) and Father’s Day, we just gave him money for a season ticket for his beloved Harlequins Rugby and had a barbeque or Chinese.

He really hated frivolity and last year was difficult because we celebrated knowing full well it would be his last one.

We were all a little clueless at what to get him since due to his cancer he had to stop going to rugby and what do you get someone who’s only got a limited time left on this planet?

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Taken only two years ago

The inevitability of knowing that it was his last made it all too real, and worse in some respect. He just made his birthday and Father’s Day and missed all of his children’s birthdays.

But this is the first, of a year which has gone too quick without him, and we’re all in the same stages of grieving. But now it’s Father’s Day.

I was looking online for tips on how to cope, most of them telling me to stay away from social media. Because it could be too painful to see friends with fathers to remind me that ours has gone.

Perhaps I could also tell friends that this is a painful time for me so could they please think twice before posting anything.

Right, so I’m really going to guilt trip my own friends for celebrating their wonderful dad’s because apparently, it’s all about me! I want pictures of my friends and their dads, I want to see the videos of parents opening their gifts and being happy. Why the hell would I want to deny anyone that?

But the thing is, what is worse? Never having a dad, never knowing a dad, or having a fantastic one who died last year?

Because I had an incredible dad, who was supportive, kind, funny and let’s be honest since no one’s a saint, had a quick temper and a filthy sense of humour.

Yet, I had a dad, who taught me wonderful things, self-confidence and self-worth and who I miss every day.

Him not being here in physical form is not going to change that.

We were blessed to have a dad who worked so hard, turning a house into a home, raising four well-adjusted children, was a fantastic grandfather and was proud of all their achievements.

I had a father, who worked extra hours to be able to take his family on two holidays a year, typically to Butlin’s, which was fine since I love Butlin’s.

This was a man who along with mum worked hard to provide for us and when I was eight, in 1988, worked hard to take his entire family to Spain.

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Spain in 1988, Our Dad, my sister and I

For a working class family in the 1980’s getting a plane and going abroad even to Benidorm was a big deal.

I have memories of a fantastic man, who taught me so much in life, so I really don’t mind I am getting emails every day from companies telling me what to get him. Since I never brought him anything from them anyway.

I love the adverts, all of them and love the Moonpig card advert the most. I can’t get a chip on my shoulder about losing my dad because he wouldn’t want that.

There is so much I miss about my dad, even his stupid jokes and watching the Antiques Roadshow together, watching the rich ones finding out their family heirloom were a load of old tat was always a highlight.

I feel sad for the things he’s missed seeing, his third grandson being born, his other grandson winning a Gymnastics Gold Medal in Geneva. He’s missed trips abroad, and family moments and just stupid stuff that never seems important until there is a person unable to enjoy it.

So on Father’s Day and his birthday, I am going to honour our dad, I am going to go to his grave and tell him what’s been going on.

I’m going to tell him how I passed my second term at University, and how I’m planning a trip to Poland because it’s a place we were talking about going to before he got ill.

And then we’re getting a Chinese takeaway because our traditions have shifted but there always going to be there.

Doesn’t change the fact we miss him every day though

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Happy Father’s Day Dad xx

 

 

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New Spiritual Beginnings

This is one of those, looking at Eventbrite, lured by the idea of the goodie bag, and this event was free. I’m a working student, I’m led towards things like this. Yeah, free stuff is always awesome.

So Bethnal Green beckoned at the You Are Here Studio + Harvey & Mills, which incidentally even though I am a Londoner. I, until this point, had never been to Bethnal Green. Which is pretty much like any London district and the location, was less than a minute from the tube station.

Though in truth, I initially walked past it, since the place is a strange hybrid of businesses and residential areas. Which after I stepped in, was impressed by the art on the walls, and the simple fact it reminded me of the musical Rent.

Well, if the characters in Rent took some responsibility for their lives, stopped acting like victims and got actual jobs. Instead of living in poverty claiming to “stick it to the man”.

I liked the organised chaos of this place, and though small, since I had no idea what to expect, was met by some of the friendliest people in the entire universe who have managed to make their passion, their living.

I’m drawn to inspiring people, hoping to be inspired…I wasn’t disappointed that day.

Thankfully I missed the Yoga classes they were putting on, having tried Yoga in the past, and well I’m not that fantastic at it. Yeah, an understatement of the year.

But moving on.

After finding the studio, well maintained. I met the suppliers and sellers, and since this was a popup, I was able to meet everyone there.

Let me start with fisical, and naturally, all links will be at the end of the post. Where I met the stunning Ashlyn, who in a market where it is too easy to fail. Has managed to keep hers going for the past five years while being a yoga teacher.

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fisical, some amazing products

The scent from her products was what led me into the room, and I am giving her full respect, not because she is friendly, but she has managed to maintain her company. Her products are all organic, original and even though I didn’t buy anything, pretty good prices.

Also in the room, was Emily Newson, who was also supported by her son and her fantastic products. I was drawn to the body butter, made with natural honey which was out of my prince range.

However, it is amazing the fact that I am writing this at ten o’clock at night and can still smell it only my skin having endured central London on a Saturday is saying something. Incidentally, Emily is by profession a makeup artist, and her website…it’s below. Just check it out.

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the very  reasonable price list

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Naturally, my desire to buy pretty organic things, from wonderful people is always hampered by something called my back balance, which I have to be mindful of at all times. But then I made an exception. That exception was Manas Organics

Now I have a thing about handmade candles, maintaining that the secret ingredient is love! They always burn longer due to soy wax and the scent last ages. With owner Jo at the helm, who started the company while on maternity leave. She had a baby and started a business…there is nothing more to say.

Out of all her products she also created the “I” range of candles and my treat to myself was “I Rest”, containing. “Lavender, Frankincense & Chamomile”. To help with stress and sleep, one I have too much of, the other I don’t get enough of. All beautifully packaged by the way.

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Such amazing things

In the largest studio was Harvey & Mills, though out of my price range has some of the most amazing Yoga clothes I have ever seen. I may not know much about yoga, but I know my fabrics and knew straight away they were made from breathable cotton, which was inspired by Emily Honeywell’s own experiences.

They are detailed, original, bohemian without being pretentious and the fabrics comes from Italy. Now, if you have Eczema or Psoriasis, the material is so light, it felt like nothing in my hands, and it stretched…but kept its shape.

If you are into your yoga, and hardcore or like me who doesn’t know the difference between a Cobra Pose or the Downward Facing Dog! This is a company I am recommending to you.  Additionally, the creator of this very new, but deserves to become a very established company. Also, Emily named the business after her miniature dachshund, Harvey.

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The amazing Emily Honeywell

As a fellow dog owner, I will endorse this company a hundred percent.

So, this was my experience of the event, my thanks to You Are Here Studio + Harvey & Mills for arranging it all. Thank you for the free tickets and the content of my free goody bag, which contained

A facial mud pack from Manas Organics

Innocent Smoothie Berry Protein

iChoc vegan chocolate bar

Bluebird TeaPack’d Detox Superfood Mix

Virtue Sparkling Water, Berries flavoured

Raw Cacao Ombar 72% Chocolate bar

£5 fisical gift voucher

Perkulatte Indonesian Java Bayukidal – Dark chocolate with a citrus twist

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yea free stuff xx

I got coffee and chocolate…this was a great day xx

Links

https://www.harveyandmills.com/

http://www.manascandles.co.uk/

http://www.fisical-oils.co.uk/our-story

http://youarehere.studio/the-studio/

http://www.emilynewson.com/Emily_web_09/Home.html

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My Dad Passed Away

dadddy-copy

This was taken in Paris, 6 years ago

I’ve been trying to write this since July, I’ve been trying to put everything down and explain what happened.

My dad should never have died of Cancer.

the dreaded C-Word.

If the universe made sense, he should have passed away gently in his 80’s with a beer in his hand and a natural setting sun.

Not of Cancer, one of the most aggressive types, with only 700 getting his type of pancreatic cancer each year.

It took three months from diagnosis to death. Ninety days to get my head around the concept.

You have to appreciate that he beat cancer last year and got the all clear in January, and we all celebrated since 2015 was so bad, so 2016 had to be fantastic.

My nephew became a world champion gymnast, sister in law gave birth to their firstborn son, and my dad passed away.

In April when we found out that it was back, terminal and the only thing they could really do was make him “comfortable”, you see how the United Kingdom actually treats its terminal patients.

Like nothing more than chattel.

The only real quality care my dad received was in the last few days, he had hospice care coming to the house and the support of our local GP and chemists. Besides that, well keep reading.

We all know the adverts, they make out chemotherapy is in a friendly environment where they give you tea and coffee, and it’s all nice and quiet.

Mount Vernon Hospital, is like a goddamn conveyer belt full of over 100 people, milling about, the sounds of the beeping machines, they take hours just to get you started and even though it comes out of a tap, they do not even give you water. You have to bring your own.

Compare this type of thing to those Cancer adverts. Just try to imagine that dimly lit room, which if they had replaced with a tent would resemble something out of the Third World.

Welcome to the NHS, ladies and gentlemen

Dad only had one chemo session, it wasn’t going to do anything and after that experience, who would want to go back.

We did have District Nurses, but when they came and forgot the basic rules of hygiene like washing their hands, could not handle drugs and were unable to treat body wounds and drains…what is the need for them? My dad acquired a bedsore, which they were unable to, or unwilling to treat correctly. But they did nothing, so seriously, just stand there while my dad’s body fills up with fluid because his body is shutting down.

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This was taken last year, before it all came back

The palliative care community nurses well they came twice, once to tell us she was going away…then a few weeks later, to say she was going away again.

No replacement, but she wasn’t going out of her depth to handle drugs. So she was to quote my mum “She was as useless as a chocolate teapot.”

You can imagine I’m a little bit jaded with the medical profession and right now can you really blame me?

When it happened, when we found out that all they could do was make him “comfortable”, I was there.

He was in Hillingdon Hospital, with a retention of fluid and an infection, and it wasn’t the first time over the three months it took for him to pass away. Dad, mum and I were escorted into a room at the back at the back of the ward and told by an assistant of the Doctor’s, who looked too young to be making that type of statement to anyone. However, she explained there was nothing more they could do.

“Comfortable” was the word of the day, and I’ve really come to hate that word.

How can a man who beat cancer once already, after having to go through a Whipple procedure in which they would never have done on a man in his late sixties? Yet he was so healthy he had the internal organs of a 50-year-old…and all they could do is make him comfortable since the cancer was spreading.

According to wed.md “Whipple procedure may have a five-year survival rate of up to 25%.”

I only got one year.

Then I had the watch him deteriorate into a man, no one recognised anymore. Not even to himself

That’s the one thing I can’t accept. That I had to accept the strongest, healthiest man I had literally ever known was going to pass away. We all had to process it and deal with it, most of the time it was either resignation, acceptance or to some. Total denial until it was too late to do anything about it.

I miss him, I’m not going to use my blog to explain how it happened, but it was in July on the type of day he would have been pottering in the garden or just enjoying a beer in the sun.

We all kept our promise to him. He passed away at home, with all of us at his side…which was just what he wanted.

But I miss him.

This is my nephews first Christmas, and we are going to focus on that, on all the grieving grandchildren, to try and make it special. But all our memories of Christmas are intertwined with dad, well both our parents, because even though each year he whined about getting the decorations out of the loft. He loved “The Most Magical Time of the Year”, and now we have to keep it going without him.

I have no idea, how we are going to accomplish this.

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