Sunday, 25 June 2017

ALF @ The School of Life (5B450)

Another one of my 'Five Before Fifty' goals was to 'attend a school of life event'. This I did on the 21st June when I attended an evening course entitled 'how to be serene'. I felt it was very timely, coming at a time dominated by the Grenfell Tower Tragedy, a heatwave, a spate of terror attacks and the beginning of the Brexit talks.

Amy was quite keen to come with me (she's been very taken with the School of Life YouTube channel). So, after a brief stop at Nandos in the Brunswick Centre, we arrived at the School of Life at about 6.30 pm.

When the door opened we had a good look around the philosophical and psychological books and ephemera that were on offer before being shown down into the intricately decorated lecture room, which featured long red velvet curtains, which hid the air conditioning unit, and a black and white mural of a library full of philosophical books and novels, such as Life of Pi and The Female Eunuch.

'What happens in the School of Life stays in the School of Life,' our Italian host informed us, 'It's like Vegas,' he clarified. The evening did go on to include the audience sharing their difficulties with serenity and anger in their working and personal lives. It's always nice to know you're not alone with these human struggles. It also featured a discussion of how the ancient philosophers can help us come to terms with problems in our modern lives, Seneca featured quite a lot, and gave us some thoughtful and reflective exercises to take away with us.

I enjoyed the evening very much, I found it supported my own reading on philosophy and particularly stoicism, which I am very much into these days. There was also wine and interesting nibbles on offer which always goes down well.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Craft stall @ URC Pinner

Saturday 17th June was a sweltering hot day in West London. Mum was otherwise engaged so my daughter, Amy, accompanied me to the United Reform Church, Eastcote, to take part in the charity coffee morning in support of the London Churches Refugee Fund.

The church charity coffee mornings support many good causes, near and far, like Trinity Homeless and the Food Bank. These and other local charities were at the forefront of my heart and mind following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy which happened earlier in the week.

Despite the very warm weather turnout was good, with lots of people coming along for a coffee and a chat. Several people stopped by my stall to say how beautiful it was and buy a few cards, including an off season Christmas Card. After a slow start business picked up. Amy managed to sell two of her Dream Box books. We also sold a new Still Life poetry book, a lavender tawny owl, a virtue brooch card and several more cards, mostly Get Well Soon and With Sympathy and items from my Passtimes collection. It was quite a successful end to a pleasant Summer's morning.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Knitting rainbows

I rediscovered how therapeutic knitting is in 2009, I was getting myself and my piano pupils through music exams and needed to find a new way to relax and unwind, so knitting re-enetered my life. The simplest and easiest things I knit are dolly blankets. I love buying different coloured wool and producing rainbow coloured dolly blankets, I find it makes the endeavour doubly therapeutic.

Summer crafts

I have had a lot to do lately, but have still found time to create more crafts for the church fete and also for future craft events and blog posts. Above are some of my virtuous lavender hearts and flowers, a Star Heart Doll called Love and some summer related greeting cards. Below are some fabric brooch ideas I have been working on and some new lavender cats.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

ALF @ The Globe (5B450)

At the beginning of the year I began to think of five smallish ambitions I want to fulfil before I reach the age of fifty in November 2017. The first one was 'See a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre', this one I managed to do at the end of May.

The 2017 production of 'Romeo and Juliet' was very vibrant and modern. Romeo and Juliet were streetwise, young and foolish; a breath of fresh air. Mercutio was a girl and full of attitude and Tibalt was a rough and ready energetic masculine force. The production was so bold that it even featured a performance of 'YMCA' in the party scene.

Everyone did a great job and kept me so absorbed that I didn't so much mind feeling a bit squashed on the uncomfortable hard wooden seating. I have seen a number of plays in my life, many of them by Shakespeare. The Globe setting was special, not ideal, there was a pillar near me that blocked a little of the view, the space is exposed to the elements and a lot of people had to stand, but that all seemed to make the event that bit more exceptional.

Mum and Amy had a great time too and mum wants to see more plays so I will have to seek out more opportunities for theatre going in the future.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Bridge and The Door

Often in my adult life I have felt at a crossroads and moving forwards takes courage. 'The bridge' and 'the door' are about reaching forwards into new realms, they are about relationships with men. I recently expanded these poems to be more about moving forwards in other realms, emotionally, professionally, spiritually as well as just physically. 'Crossing the bridge' and 'Opening the door' can be found in my Grown-up Poetry pages on WattPad.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Let's Vote!

I have always felt it important to vote. I was taught that Emily Davison threw herself under the king's horse at the Derby so I could vote, this history lesson made a lasting impression on me. I have been a regular voter for the past thirty years. Last June I struggled through flash floods and tube chaos, on my way home from work, to put my X in the Remain box. 

Non-partisan is quite a good stance, democracy is based on a secret ballot, and people can and will change their minds, for all sorts of reasons. I think it's important to vote, whether it's a negative vote against something you don't want, a positive one for something you do, or just to create a strong opposition to the prevailing powers. Your vote is your voice, it shows you're paying attention and you care about the forces that shape our lives. 

I have been working on these 'Voting Cards' as my small way to encourage more people to exercise their franchise. For more information on voting please go to

Monday, 1 May 2017

Elegant Living with Richard's Things

I drew a series of sketches illustrating my song 'Richard's Things,' several years ago now, while having a day off from work waiting for the gas man to arrive. I have used some of my sketches for other purposes including the teapot for the Star Heart Cafe, the girl drinking tea for my WattPad Channel and the girl reading for my bookmarks and the 'My life in books' project. Six of the sketches are also a series of notecards from ALF Creations and the whole montage of sketches that make up the video for 'Richard's Things' can still be viewed on my YouTube channel.

Friday, 28 April 2017

ALF @ London Bloggers

I joined the London Bloggers group last summer, to help myself out of the Brexit Blues and to connect with other possibly like-minded people, although my experience of life is that like minded people probably don't exist.

After some encounters online with other London Bloggers I was really looking forward to an evening out and to meeting a few of them in real life. April 25th 2017 was a cool spring evening, there was even sleet at one point, but by the time we reached the newly improved Tottenham Court Road Tube Station the weather was pleasant and sparkling.

After a pizza in posh pizza place, Vico, Amy and I made our way to the Seven Dials, Covent Garden, where the mysterious pub, the Escapologist, awaited us. We headed down the stairs to the underground bar, past the surreal mock Victorian artwork. On enquiry about the London Bloggers group we were directed to a hidden door behind a large cryptic painting, very Harry Potter.

Once inside the starry ceilinged, plush, lower basement area we proceeded to have a really good evening, meeting, among others, Abbi, organiser of the event and ex-pat, Filipino Food blogger and Elle, a fitness blogger who runs the London Bloggers group. 


We also met the lovely people behind Fourfits, Passionate Zoe, Page to Stage Reviews and Edward's noneedforpostcards blog. Mollie brought fitness promotional goodies with her and I had made 'Promote the Vote' cards, which all went down very well.

The Escapologist was a lovely venue for this special event and Amy and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and company, not to mention the prosecco, the passion fruit cocktails and the death by chocolate pizza.

At many social events these days it is rude to be on your smart phone engaging in social media, but the group mostly knows each other because of social media, so it all felt quite natural. I learnt something about Instagram, Twitter and hashtags which hopefully will be really useful in the future.

The evening ended with a promise of future events, karaoke or a picnic perhaps, we shall see.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Pictures for an exhibition

Amy was a talented artist as a small child and continues to be an artistic teenager. These are a few of the artworks she has created in recent years. You can find more of her pieces on her Amythestjasmine Pinterest channel.

Monday, 3 April 2017

A craft fair and a concert

Sunday 2nd April 2017 was an unusually busy day. It began at 2 am with seeing my dauther off for a school trip to Pompeii.

After a brief sleep, mum and I headed out of the house for the Easter 'Load of Hay Market' Craft Fair in South Ruislip. This was the tenth outing for my craft stall so I wanted it to be special. The day did not disappoint.


The Star Heart Cafe was in good company; the other craft stalls included paintings, jewellery, ethical leather goods, face painting, cloth bags, woodwork and African fashion. The South Ruislip community centre is a special place, old fashioned and light with a stage, green curtains, painted wood and a lot of pot plants set in a pleasant park. It was also a really lovely spring day.

The craft fair was quite popular, with people coming and going all day, a few of the customers were my friends and former colleagues and I had good conversations with all of them. My stall had some considerable success. I sold quite a few cards and also items from each of my other product lines. I sold a purple brooch card to a very appreciative young woman and a gadget pouch for a hearing device. I sold a couple of lavender scenters and notecards. I sold a book of my 'Still Life' poetry to a lovely lady called Carmel who wanted me to sign it for her. I sold a Star Heart Doll with blond hair and a lilac dress for a little girl called Sophie Amber. I'm really pleased I took part in this event, it was a very positive experience.

There were only two hours between the craft fair and the concert, barely enough time for a cup of tea.

The music evening at St Mary's was varied and enjoyable. I was last on, after various singers, violinists, a recorder player, an organist, three poets and other piano players preparing for exams. I have no exam to prepare for so I just play what I want, though I am contemplating Jazz Piano Grade 5. This evening I played two pieces by Einaudi, Ombre and I Giorni, they went down very well, mum said they were very smooth and relaxing.


After the concert we retreated to the pub across the road for a jacket potato and a half pint of guinness each and to reflect on a very rewarding day of activities.