Monday, 24 April 2017

My First Swim for 10 Years

Every moment of the build up to swimming scared me.

From the first moment I chose the compulsory university swimming session the furthest time away I started panicking. Panicking because I had not entered a swimming pool for 10 years and had no clue if my limbs even knew what to do anymore. Not that they had been coordinated and fishlike even then. I worried that I would splash uncontrollably and ultimately sink. I would do this in front of my classmates and me a PE specialist. I worried what my body would look like in a swimming costume. The thought of anyone seeing my scars and being that exposed. So I just put it off.

But things far in the future have a habit of creeping up on me quickly. And now it’s only 2 weeks away. I didn’t own a swimming costume and my limbs had no more idea how to move in water than I did.

The first bridge to cross, and a scary one, was something to wear. Having not owned even a bikini for the beach in 10 years it scared me. It scared me that my body would be that on show. Shopping is always an ordeal and this promised to be worse. But I found something, shaved my legs and got in the car.

Which found me sitting in a swimming pool car park just before lunchtime on a Tuesday. Watching cars move in and out and having to call my friend. Just to calm me and encourage me. It found me at the reception desk bumbling over my words and the receptionist thinking I wanted to swim outdoors! Hoping I wouldn’t see anyone I know and immediately bumping into someone and having a polite conversation as I innerly squirmed.

Then I was in a very small changing room worrying that everyone in this pool would be amazing swimmers. I would be lapped and laughed at when I couldn’t even float. What if I panicked, embarrassed myself and had to be rescued by the lifeguards? I paused. Spent just a little too long organising my clothes. Willingly there to be more time before I had to get in the water. I fumbled with the lock on the locker. Wanting to rush it, but my hands not responding. The walk to the pool was the longest of my life even though the steps in were just by the door. You are exposed. I went in by myself and I felt that all eyes were on me, but honestly I doubt they were.

Once I got in the water I could look around. There were a few children taken swimming by grandparents happily bobbing about and playing with toys. A lane set out at the far side with nobody in it. I started and tried. Front crawl seemed like the place to start. With my head in the water my arms and legs seemed to know what to do. That was until I needed to breathe. The lifting of my head made me sink and I had to put my feel down. Breast stroke was next and equally as unsuccessful.

But then I remembered how as a child I had always preferred backstroke. I moved into the lane to prevent colliding with any children and began. I did my first length. And then realised I could do another. I didn’t need to stop to breathe or worry about my feet. I was conscious of my fingers propelling myself through the water. My feet hardly splashing but kicking much more strongly than I imagined. I had a rhythm. 3 kicks between each stroke. Counting carefully and breathing deeply I continued.

At one point a ten year old boy joined me in the lane. They had a quick front crawl and I was happy to let him go first and lap me. I could focus on me. As my body remembered how it was supposed to move it needed my attention. It was a conscious movement and left me little space to think of anything else. Few moments to worry of the enormity of what I was doing. I kept this up for 45 minutes. Much longer than I had imagined.

Before I knew it I was home, with the smell of chlorine still clinging and my hair dripping slightly. Clinging too was the sense of achievement. Of overcoming something that had held me with fear for so many years. The worry of incompetence mixed with fear of exposure had stopped me enjoying exercise for so long.

I tweeted and the response was phenomenal. I had tweets from people that shared this fear or those that had also overcome it. But what struck me the most were the cheerleaders. The people who I had never met, but were so proud and encouraging. So thank you, because that kept me on this river of emotional high for even longer.

Now I’m ready to tackle the university swimming session and I would encourage you to swim too. Or do that thing that you’ve been wanting to do, but fear has held you back. I have found that the trepidation before the things is so much worse than the moment you throw yourself in.

Guess what? #thisgirlcan

Kate xx

Friday, 21 April 2017

Yellow is the Colour of the Moment

Right now there's great big splashes of yellow all over the countryside. They liven up the usual green and brown crops. The oilseed rape seems to me the sunniest of the fields. Right after the last hit of yellow from daffodils, primroses and celandine the fields come into their own. Despite Spring being a time of pastels, it is yellow that I really associate with the season. 

Recently I've taken to picking up a book and finding a location to just read for an hour or so.

This weeks reading: Following On by Emma John (a memoir based on Emma's teenage obsession with the England Cricket team). A wonderfully, relatable book about how a fan follows a sports team and the foibles of cricket. She looks back and interviews players from the time, contrasting her youthful naive views with that of the players.

This week's location: Right next to this beautiful yellow field in beautiful sunshine.

This week's outfit: The comfiest tshirt under my dungarees just rolled up at the cuff for springtime sunshine.

Kate xx

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #56

Welcome to another of my wonderful Wednesday witterings. This week you find me relaxed. Chilled as my Grandma puts it. She really does think she's down with the kids! As I'm still at home, I have spent most of my time just pottering. Doing bits and pieces here and there. Spending time with lovely people and generally just appreciating how magnificent this place I call home is. Whether it's my lovely family and friends, the gorgeous scenery (which I fear I took for granted for years) or the spaniel one, it's been lovely in a slow way.

1. Norwich. This is another place I took for granted when I lived here. Take my day there on Thursday. t comprised of cheese scones the size of my head from an independent cafe, watching the amazing Kinks musical, Sunny Afternoon and then happening upon an LGBT protest. Not to mention the hour spent happily in the new library surround by calm and lots of books!

2. Just the best frites. Another day, another catch up meal. It seems to be the talk of these holidays. This time the most amazing frites (cos I'm so down with the french lingo) were coupled with chats about religion and love and loss and belonging. I'm astounded by the intellect of my closest friends and how important our deep chats are.

3. Blossom. The tree that sits halfway down my garden has just exploded this week. The cherry blossom was threatening it all of last week and today it sits in the sunshine a complete riot of pink, the tree bursting with blooms.

4. Just a little thank you. Just a small boy after his first cricket session ever rushing over to me to thank me, with the biggest smile on his face. Closely followed my his mum who thanked me for even letting him join and taking the time to help him. Those are the first steps on his journey and it's why I coach.

5. Training for myself. This week I have been spending time working on myself. An hour bowling on my own on a completely deserted field (until 3 teenage boys turned up and were complete idiots, but less said about the better). An hour spent improving myself for me.

6. Talented others. My friend is a pretty marvellous musician and spending Easter Sunday evening in a country pub with a cider and her acoustic/ folky tunes was lovely. She played a real mix of songs from 80s classics all the way to Taylor Swift all adapted in her style. But it was her rendition of Songbird that got me. A beautiful song, played to perfection. I wanted to weep, but you know packed pub and all...

7. Sunset walks. Rounding off a lovely bank holiday weekend with walking Ben with my brother. We went just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. I go on about sunsets a lot, but they really do bring me joy. I never get tired of how they change and are unique. Plus spending precious moments with my brother is special too.

And there we have it for another week. By the time I write next week's post I will be back in Plymouth and am highly likely to be a lot more busy, but for now I will spend the last few days here taking it easy. For more head over to the rest of the gang: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta, Kelly and Emma.  Let me know if you are also #wonderfulwednesday - ing and I'll add you to my list. Let me know what has made your week a little bit special by commenting or getting involved on twitter. We're such a friendly bunch, promise!

Kate xx

Friday, 14 April 2017

My First Wicket

I remember the first wicket I ever got in a boys match. The team were short, so incredibly short that both my brother and I had been called in. My brother 3 years younger than the others and me a girl. The first time a girl had ever played in the boys teams for my club. But this game could help decide the league standings and the manager wasn't going to concede for no reason.

Lingo, our manager, who I never saw out of his shorts and flip flops even in the cold evenings of junior cricket, was young. Must have been younger than I am now. But he had faith in this muddle of youngsters that we called our team. He got us on his side with a wide grin, banter and a kick about before our cricket match instead of the normal warm up.

I had been training with these boys for a few months. The club had decided that to extend the girls we would be in the nets with the boys. There was no question of whether we should be welcomed there. The boys saw as other players, but this was not true of our opposition. That evening as we arrived at our home ground the opposition were less than impressed that they would be facing a girl. In fact their chests puffed as if they knew they already had the game in the bag.

It wasn't until late into the game that I was called on to bowl. Just when the game was getting tight. When the match could have swung either way and either side could sense victory. The pressure was on. As I stood at the end of my mark I felt everyone watching me. That's the funny thing about cricket, the individual performance within a team game. The limelight being on you even though you stand on the pitch with 10 teammates.

The moment of watching myself bowl it etched in my brain even now. I can remember the batter standing ready and the long, deep breath I took before I ran in. The keeper and first slip clapping their hands together in encouragement then settling themselves into position. The ball looping through the air and the twitch of movement as the batsman made his decisions just the split second too early. Bat curved upwards and away from his body so the ball jumped into the air. The dive forwards the fielder made to clasp his hands under the ball just before it hit the ground. As he rolled to protect the precious ball from spilling I had realisation of what had happened. I had the scoring batsman out. I had the opposition out and I had won the match for my team.

Then with the elation that hit so did my teammates. Boys who I only vaguely knew. Had met only a few times in my life came running towards me with grins gripping their faces. The rain of high fives and hugs came quickly. Players running from all parts of the field to converge here. To share the celebrations between me and the catcher. And in that moment I was accepted. I became part of the team. I had proved that I could do it.

These boys became my teammates for the next 4 years and beyond. I trained with them and played games every week. I could recognise each one by the way they stood from the other side of the field such was our closeness. I grew up with them, they became my other brothers.

But then life happens. People drop out of cricket for all sorts of reasons. School work too much, real work takes priority and some lose the love for the game. I left the club for another and now I hardly speak to my former teammates. But I have a bank of wonderful memories both on and off the pitch that all started from this moment and this wicket.

Kate xx

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #55

Well aren't we the luckiest of duckies with the weather we are having right now? I have spent most of this week basking in the sunshine and appreciating days when I don't have to take a jacket with me. This week has been a busy one of making the most of being home. It's lovely to see so many of my gorgeous friends and family. We've packed lots in, but it's also lovely to not be on a time schedule. I'm really in the holiday vibe of relaxation. Therefore this is a bumper massive list of happy things. Some big and some tiny moments that make me happy.

1. All of the food. Oh my goodness I have had the most delicious food since being back. It seems that all social occasions involve food. I've been for some yummy meals and cake dates. Think pulled pork burgers, baked camembert, chocolate calzone and too many cakes to name.

2. The best company. This links to the above point. This week has been all about catching up with friends and family. To spend hours catching up on life. To laughing out loud over the silliest things. To reminiscing with my oldest friends. To talk over life plans and getting excited.

3. Sunshine. Long afternoons have been spent out in the sunshine this week. Whether I have been studying, chatting or playing with Ben being out in the sunshine makes me happy. My freckles are exploding and it really lifts my mood. Also it means you can sneak in cheeky beach trips!

4. Reading. I was given a late birthday present this week of The Art of Being Normal. It's been so long since I have sat down and read a book cover to cover. This was a book that I could not put down. I had tears in my eyes as I read parts of it. It's an amazing book that will make you stay up until 2am to finish it if you're not careful. Also quick shout out to libraries for being amazing places filled with stories and welcoming and free.

5. Ben. Is the cutest spaniel ever. Sorry Michelle, but I'm biased. I've been soaking up all the time I can with him recently because I miss him so much at university. He's wants attention all the time and is prepared to give so much love. Even if that does mean him sitting on you when you're reading in the garden.

6. Accomplishment. This weekend was one of DIY. My brother's new house needs a bit of work and so it was all hands on deck this weekend. My dad drummed practical skills into me at a very early age (I wasn't allowed to drive until I could change my tyre)! So now I'm very happy to get involved and use my skills. By Sunday lunchtime I had hung 2 doors and stacked 3 trailer loads of firewood and was feeling accomplished. Even better was the gentle family banter going on all day and watching my dad fall off a treadmill.

7. Piglets. Back in January my best friend had piglets. Even though they are bigger now they are still so cute and I had my first visit to them. They all have their own little personalities and when I fed them they all reacted differently.

8. Rolled up jeans. I am of course the height of fashion and by that I mean I wear exactly what feels comfortable for the weather and what I'm doing. This week has been all about rolled up jeans when it's not quite warm enough for a pair of shorts. I love my shorts but rolling up my jeans just that little bit feels like a good halfway house now that Spring has sprung. It does however mean that my Grandma keeps asking me if I have grown and need new jeans!

So that's my little list of happy this week. For more head over to the rest of the gang: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta, Kelly and Emma.  Let me know if you are also #wonderfulwednesday - ing and I'll add you to my list. Let me know what has made your week a little bit special.

Kate xx

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Spring Sunsets

Quarter to 8 on a Sunday evening found me pulling on my Dad's oldest, most comfy jumper over my dress and sticking my wellies on ready to chase the sunset. A peak out of my window as I was working showed me the colours of the sky changing and I just knew I needed to be outside. Down the drive and along the road armed with my camera. As I nearer the footpath that opens out into the biggest of skies, the view unhampered by buildings or trees, I broke into a jog. Keen not to miss anymore of the sky's performance.

The sky was painted in pinks and blues. The clouds rushing like brushstrokes across the sky. And I simply stood. I watched the clouds change and the dark sky behind me gradually sweep forwards. There was nobody in sight and the gentle wind billowed at my skirt. The only sounds the tweetings of the birds as they went to bed.

The stillness is important to me. I have written so many times on this blog about taking time to be quiet and still in nature. It calms me and makes me feel peaceful. My mind is calm too. My thoughts still as I concentrate on the small changes around me. Much has been written about mindfulness and I'm not sure I fully understand the concept, but this is what it is to me. Being still, watching nature and using all your senses. Being aware of the small changes around you and in this I feel calm.

This is so important to me and I must remember to make moments like these a regular part of my days.

Kate xx

Friday, 7 April 2017

Every Person's story: The folded newspaper

This is a poem written in response to a moment. A moment and a person that I saw on the tube. Every person has a story to tell and I am hoping to capture these moments in a new series of creative writing.

She held the paper clenched in her hand.
Paper folded neatly into squares
which she had unfolded and folded so many times
edges feathered and frayed.

As the newspaper opens again
I saw the face of a man widen
The article based solely on him
an obituary or maybe a profile.

But why the fascination with this mystery man?
emblazoned across the newsprint and her heart
as she tucked the square inside her jacket pocket
Checking it was safe and patting twice.

Could this man be someone she longs for?
A former lover or a long lost family member
Or someone she despises?
Someone she is looking for.

She smooths the photo over again and reads
looking for clues in the writing
and as her tube stop arrives she safely stows
ready to find the meaning from the words.

Kate xx

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #54

I'm currently tucked up in my own bed at home. This week has me absolutely exhausted. With travelling on Friday night and a full schedule of coaching ever since, I've been tucked up in bed early ever since. I've even found myself dosing in front of the TV. I'm looking forward to a couple of lie ins to get me back in routine. However the week has been brilliant and when my best friend asked 'Are you happy?' I answered with a resounding yes. So on with the things that have been making me happy...

1. Chocolate orange brownie. Every month there's a market at university. The street food always smells so good, but I find myself gravitating to the brownie stand. Thick, gooey slabs of brownie in every flavour you can imagine. My difficult decision was a classic chocolate orange and it was a perfect pick me up for a long afternoon of lectures.

2. Going home. I love university so much, but it makes me appreciate home and my family so much too.

3. Smiling players. The moment the massive beam comes on a player's face because they have achieved something they never thought possible is the reason I coach. This week I have been lucky enough to work with a huge range of players: from the 7 year old who absolutely smashed the ball to the 13 year old county player who nailed a new technical aspect and the lady who was a complete beginner who bowled someone out. All are equally as special and have a huge part of my heart.

4. Late Birthday cake. My Grandma came round yesterday with a large tin of chocolate cake that she'd decorated with chocolate sprinkles. Every year she has always made me a birthday cake, so it was lovely of her to keep up that tradition even when I'm not at home.

5. House tours. My brother showed me round his new house and I can't wait until he's decorated it all. It's a little rough around the edges right now, but the space is so nice and it has so many lovely features - think wooden beams and original doors. He's so excited which makes it even lovelier.

6. Sunny afternoons. Just spent sat in the garden chatting with my mum. Mum's still quite weak so spending a lot of time sitting. But being outside in the sunshine was a lovely way to while away the hours. We spotted all the birds flitting around the garden and tried to persuade our silly spaniel not to tear up his bedding.

7. Warm Showers. The restorative type after doing exercise. When you can already feel the aches coming and the warm water washes them away. Where you turn the shower up real warm because it loosens all your muscles and you come out feeling so relaxed and sleepy.

8. Yellow fields. The oil seed rape is just starting to bloom in fields all around and it's creating swathes of yellow across the countryside. Although many rue it as it aggravates hay fever, I love the vibrant colour and how it breaks up the brown and green of the fields. It's another sign of the spring coming for me and I didn't realise how unique it is to my area at home.

9. Sweet Potatoes. I've had some absolutely stonking sweet potato dishes this week. In an attempt to use up every item of fresh produce I had in the cupboard before returning home I made a huge batch of cheesy jackets with sweet potatoes. I baked the potatoes then scooped out the middles and mixed in cheese, caramelised onion and veg and grilled with even more cheese. Then just yesterday my mum made some amazing roast sweet potatoes - perfect accompaniment to roast chicken!

So that's another week of happiness. For more listings of joy head on over to: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta, Kelly and our lovely newest addition Emma. Do let me know if I've missed you off and share what's been making your week special.

Kate xx

Friday, 31 March 2017

Spring Studying

On a sunny Monday morning there was no part of me that wanted to stay inside. However, my mountain of coursework dictated that work must be done. So the next best thing was to gather up all my textbooks and find somewhere to work outside. There's something about being outside and the sunshine that makes me so much more motivated.

Unfortunately there's a lack of green spaces on my university campus as it's right in the middle of the city so I headed to our nearest park. Beaumont Park is less than 10 minute walk from my house so it's a lovely break from the business of the city. I mentioned this park back in the Autumn and it was lovely to look back and see the changes in the park.

Spring had definitely sprung in the park and carpets of daffodils bloomed under the trees. The sun was so warm that I didn't even need my cardi and I could roll up the legs of my dungarees. The horse chestnuts were bursting out in foliage. It reminded me of my mum. In the Spring when we were little she would spend the whole time stopping us at every horse chestnut and tell us 'the sticky buds are popping'. I'm so grateful she's given me this appreciation of nature.

The rest of the week has not had the sunny days on Monday, but at least that does mean the library doesn't feel so confining. Where's your favourite place to study? Is getting outside important to you?

Kate xx

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #53

Hello, sunshiney weather, longer brighter evenings and the promise of spring. This clock change has got me all sorts of happy and spring definitely gives me that motivating jolt. I'm so happy to see glimpses of blossom on the trees and, as my mum would say, 'the sticky buds popping' on the horse chestnuts. This week has been one of getting outside and enjoying nature.

1. Progress. This week I finished my placement and I was so proud to see the progress the children I had worked with had made. It was incredible to think of what they had learnt in such a short space of time and being part of that was amazing.

2. Early morning walks. On Saturday I had an appointment at 9am so I made the 1 and a half mile walk in beautiful sunshine. I choose a route where I could meander through the park and take in the daffodils and dogs. After walking back I felt so motivated for the day. Being active in the morning makes my days seem longer and I can get so much more done. I feel productive, especially when the sun's out!

3. So many dogs. This weekend also saw a visit to the Hoe which is a park right next to the sea here in Plymouth. With the sun out most of Plymouth and their dogs had gravitated there. This meant that I spent my whole time shouting 'DOG!' at highly inappropriate volumes and stroking every single one that came within a 10 metre radius. This was all well and good until a cheeky beagle started trying to eat our picnic then there was a quick scramble to hide the doughnuts.

4. Sunset walks. My flatmates and I finished our weekend with a walk to the sea to watch the sunset. As the pinkish hues danced across the sky and the light faded we chatted about anything and everything. Laughing so much that people stopped to look our way. A lovely way to finish our weekend.

5. Club day. The cricket club spent Sunday playing sports against each other. Spending a day in the company of my teammates whilst raising money was lovely although everyone got very over competitive!

6. Meals cooked for me. Last night after a long 9-6 stint at uni I looked out of the window to see the rain chucking it down. Thankfully for me I had a quick dash to my friends flat which is mere metres from my lecture building where she cooked dinner for me. One of the boring, effortfilled things about university is deciding what to cook so having her cook for me was such a break. She cooked enchiladas which were full of spicy tomatoey, cheesey goodness. I really enjoy sharing a meal with someone and being able to just chat.

7. Park studying. Monday saw sunshine where I didn't even need a jumper! The likelihood of me spending much time indoors was narrow, but I do have a lot of work to do. Therefore I decided to find myself a different study space. I took a walk down to the park and armed with supplies (a kinder beuno) read and took notes in the sunshine. Again may have got distracted by a few dogs, but I felt so much happier being outside.

8. Weird and wonderful combinations. I have only 3 days until I go home for Easter and we're in the home straight in regards to food. I don't want to do another shop which would spoil over Easter so I'm mixing up my combinations. My current go to breakfast sounds really weird, but tastes so yummy. I have been mixing a handful of porridge oats and chopped up dried apricots into greek yoghurt then adding a swirl of nutella on top.

So that's another sun filled week of happiness. For more listings of joy head on over to: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta, Kelly and our lovely newest addition Emma. Do let me know f I've missed you off and share what's been making your week special.

Kate xx

Monday, 27 March 2017

Planning for Summer

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the sunny days we've been having in the last week? We even had 2 in a row on a weekend! A sunny weekend and very little scheduled makes me happy. It included early morning sunshine walks and lazy afternoons chatting whilst looking out to see. The weekend was full of picnics, impromptu games and quick walks to watch the sunset over the sea. The sunshine always makes me feel brighter and more motivated. I want to be active. Waking up to sunshine pouring through my skylight makes me want to rush at the day. And even better, when you're not walking home in the dark, but slowly watching the sky gain a pinkish tinge and fade.

This has got me thinking about warmer days ahead. When shorts are my go to outfit and the sun bronzes skin and bleaches hair. My summer is already pretty packed so here's what I'm looking forward to:

1. My Placement. The last thing I'll be doing in university this year is a 4 week placement. I am so excited to get to know the children for a longer period of time and see their progression through that time. Having just finished one placement, I'm already so excited for the next one.

2. Majorca. My flatmate lives out in Majorca so I will be spending a few days out there with her this summer. I'm looking forward to seeing where she lives and experiencing the warm beaches! We'll be staying at hers and exploring the island.

3. Work. This sounds like a weird one, but I've really missed being fully involved in cricket whilst I've been at university so spending the summer at cricket festivals will be amazing. Spending my days watching cricket in the sunshine is my perfect job and the fact that I get to it in such beautiful surroundings will make it even better.

4. Seeing my family and friends. Living the other side of the country makes me cherish the time spent with friends and family even more. I'm excited for beach trips, picnics, dog walks, pub garden catch ups and all sorts of other fun activities.

5. Girls holiday. For the past 3 years me and 2 friends have had a short city break every summer. It's lovely to spend time with them exploring a city and the surrounding areas. This summer we've settled on a long weekend spent in Canterbury and exploring Kent. These girls are my closest friends, but I'm spending uni so far from them so I'm really looking forward to this.

6. Bristol trip. I'm going to be spending a couple of nights in Bristol. This is a city that I'm really excited to explore as I've heard so much about it's arty, quirky character. I'm going down to watch a cricket match with my friend, but am bound to explore the city too.

Whilst these are the main things I have booked in for my summer I know that there will so many other lovely memories that will be thrown in. Has this gorgeous weather got you excited for summer? What have you got planned?

Kate xx

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #52

As I write this I sit absolutely stuffed from such a large batch of fajitas and getting to that sleepy stage. I'm back on placement this week and it might be the most tiring one ever. I am completely whacked, but finding a little pocket of time before bed to pick out the happy moments of the week.

1. A new dress. Wednesday night it was time to dress up. The birthday girl had ordered us into little black dresses and we obeyed. There's something quite exciting about waiting for a package to arrive bearing new clothes. Trying them on and feeling happy. My new black dress is all sorts of comfortable, hides the massive bruise I have from a cricket ball on my leg and fits so well (always my fear with buying online). One happy buyer.

2. Early morning brightness. This week on placement the 6am starts have been made that little bit easier by the amount of sunlight flooding into my room. I think when you wake up to a bright room it's so much easier to extract yourself from the cosy duvet than darkness. It's giving me so much more motivation.

3. Colour coordinated days. Those days when your outfit completely matches right down to the pattern in your scarf. My first day of placement was one of those days. I felt so professional and pt together which, in turn, made me feel a better teacher somehow. It's funny how a good outfit can really change your mood.

4. Stories. Last week my tutor gave me a children's novel to read. It's the first time I have read a fiction book for pleasure for months. Waking up to a few pages or reading just before bed has been all sorts of wonderful. I'd forgotten how you can get lost in the pages of story. It's a little escapism into a different world, this one full of pirates and paradise. I need to make more time to read.

5. Vegetables. I think as the weather turns warmer and brighter that I crave crispy crunchy vegetables. This week I have been knocking my five a day out of the park as I load all my meals with vegetables. From couscous piled high with vegetables to salads in my lunchbox. I also love how colourful it makes my food.

6. Team meals. As I've said before I love how close my cricket team is and this week after training we decided to go for a spontaneous dinner. Spending time just chatting and relaxing with these girls is lovely.

7. Proud big sister. This week marks the completion date for my baby brother buying a house and I'm super proud of him. At just 18 getting on the property ladder is such a big achievement and I can't wait to get back at Easter and help hm decorate.

8. Getting in just before the rain. This is one of those little things that definitely make my day brighter and I've managed it twice this week. Once I walked back from coaching (about a fifteen minute walk) just before a massive downpour and last night walking back from the bus stop I felt the first spots. Thankfully I got in just before the worst of it.

So that's the happy moments of the week. I want to say a special thank you to all of those who have sent their wishes to my mum. She's doing so much better and should be out of hospital today! For more wonderful head to the rest of the gang's posts: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta and Kelly. If I've missed you off this list I am sorry. Give me a shout and I'm add you on!

Kate xx

Saturday, 18 March 2017


I drive down the same streets where I was a passenger all those years ago. The magnolia blooms planted in the sixties when these houses cropped up, are just peeking their heads out of the soft casings. Back then, the air felt grey and cold. That March was harsher to reflect the journey. A journey I took so many times to the hospital.

The air today is light and spring is on its way. Those blooms I once saw cowering away from the harsh cold are breaking through to the brightness outside. I make the same journey. Passed the streets of identikit houses. Each owner trying to mark theirs out as different. Putting their stamp on the home by painting the door a cheery red or planting daffodils to reach their heads up to the sunshine. Others are marked out in different ways. With the remnants of a once rally car slowly rusting or the hedge torn up to make way for parking. The grass decaying away with every passing of wheels over lawn. 
Passed those houses and back to the same hospital. Back then, the wards and corridors felt like a maze. The big institution encapsulating my grandfather who seemed so small in those walls and a large bed engulfing him. The man I knew no longer there. No longer the one who carefully and patiently showed me how to paint. How to load the brush with colour and blend. His caring hands gnarled from so many years of manual work, delicate in their ability to plait my hair in the way he did for his show horses. Who helped me tend to plants on his allotment. The skills he passed me fresh still in my mind, but lost to him as he stayed in that bed.

Today I know where to go. An adult following signs not the way of my parents. I see the hospital as a place of rest and recovery. My mum, sat on the chair next to the bed, still cracks jokes and her eyes crinkle to share the laughter where her breath can’t. Even in the couple of days I have made this journey, the breath is returning to her lungs as the life returns in the spring. As the magnolia flowers break their winter coats she will grow stronger and my last journey today leaves her safe. Safe in the knowledge that she will get better. 

Kate xx

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #51

Today's Wonderful Wednesday is written at 6am from my childhood bedroom. This week has been rocky with my mum in hospital and I've taken a few days back in Suffolk. I made the journey home to see my mum. Whilst she's not great, she definitely getting better and I can return home this afternoon knowing she'll be ok. But even in the weeks where things seem grey and tears were shed there's always wonderful moments that we should appreciate...

1. Daffodils. Everywhere I look their sunny heads are brightening the place. I bought a bunch of tight buds on a whim at the supermarket on Friday and marvelled all weekend at how quickly their blooms unfurled. The bunch, sat on my desk in a pitcher formerly from Wetherspoons, never failed to cheer my spirits.

2. Cinnamon Buns. I've said this so many times, but sometimes all you need is a walk on your own. Even when the weather is all misty and murky a walk to the sea always calms me. I sat on a bench right next to the lighthouse and watched boats go across the sound. The best addition to this; a cinnamon bun the size of my head!

3. Train travel. Whilst my reason for a 6 hour train journey was not a joyous one the actual act of travel is something |I enjoy. The hours stretched out with nothing but a good book and the perfect excuse to read it. I seem to have lost the time to read so the hours on a train were lovely. That is until I met the most fascinating woman who I chatted to for hours! I love hearing other people's stories.

4. No coat. This week I have not had to put on a coat once! It feels a little bit like the seasons are changing. I was even brave enough not to bring one home with me.

5. Empty flat. This weekend I had the flat all to myself just for an evening and it was absolute bliss. I put early 00's tunes on full blast and danced through the corridor. I had a lovely luxurious shower whilst still belting out my tunes at the top of my voice. And then I snuggled up nice and early to watch TV and eat chocolate.

6. Lemon, ginger and honey tea. This is a new discovery for me and a perfect evening drink. My flatmate had left a few teabags in her cupboard when she moved out and I am not one to waste. A big mug of this to get me warm and snug after an evening training was just what I needed. It's like a zingy, comforting hug.

7. Spending time with my brother. I miss my family when I'm at uni. I miss singing at the top of our lungs on nighttime drives. I miss sharing Chinese food straight from the packet. I miss all those silly little phrases and inside jokes. It was lovely to be with him for a little while.

And there we have another week of moments captured. Little happy moment that make me smile. For more check out these lovely ladies: SallyJoHelenMichelleSarah, CatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta and Kelly or share on twitter with #wonderfulwednesday.

Kate xx

Saturday, 11 March 2017

So Far Away

For the first time since I started university I've realised how far away from home I am. How far from my family and friends. How a train journey can take 7 hours whilst the coach can take half a day. The 350 miles that separate us can feel small when I pick up the phone, but the gulf is so enormously wide when someone the other end needs me.

There's no easy way to pop home. No teleporter that could just take me back to give a hug. With my mum in hospital all I want is to hold her hand but instead I'm so far away and feeling helpless. Not knowing whether I should hop on that train home and turn up at home in the middle of the night still unable to do anything. The video calls with my family don't help. They don't let me know how much I should rush.

Whilst currently it's nothing too serious, it's got me thinking. With me so far away anything could happen. I imagine that the last time I saw her walking through the barriers at the train station here in Plymouth. As she waved goodbye and I cried as I knew I wouldn't see her for a month.

Now I cry because what if something happens when I am here and they are there. And I can't rush down the road. Or pop in. When a trek across the country leaves me stranded at the bottom of the country away from them all.

I feel so far from her. Not being able to talk to her as she struggles for breath. I feel she must be so alone. When you're a child in hospital your parents look after you, but as an adult no one is there day and night. Just stroking your hair and holding your hand. I want to be there for her like all the many times she's been there for me.

Kate xx

Friday, 10 March 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #50

I've made it to 50 of these little wonderful Wednesday posts and for that I'm giving myself a pat on the back. Who knew I could keep up, sometimes doggy paddling through treacle whilst Micheal Phelps cruises along in the fast lane, but always keeping going. Sometimes I confuse myself with my metaphors, that one is a little niche! What I'm trying to say is 50 is a pretty huge number and lots and lots of wonderful. We should be thankful to the lovely Sally for inspiring the start of the happiest little gang of wonderful Wednesdayers.

1. Birthday. On Tuesday I had my 22nd birthday. My flatmates woke me early with presents and met me off the us from placement. They'd filled me room with balloons and had plenty of festivities planned. I spent the evening surrounded by the lovely people I have met here at uni. The only downfall was apparently when you reach 22 the worst hangovers in the world kick in!

2. Smores pancake. Possibly my best cooking moment ever. I have been shovelling pancakes into my mouth since pancake day. Every year I remember how good pancakes are and just want them for every meal. The best topping ever though - spread nutella over them then sprinkle marshmallows on top. Zap in the microwave so the marshmallows go all gooey. So good!

3. Cricket. Ok so I know this one always features, but food and cricket pretty much are my life. Last weekend I played the final of the league that our uni team are in. Last year the uni didn't win a single game so we've done so well to get to the final and although we lost it was such a close game. I'm proud to be part of such a great team of friends. Afterwards we went for a meal and sat laughing for hours. Teammates who become friends are the best.

4. Ed's new album. I have not stopped listening to it since it was released. It's such a mix of catchy tunes and ones that punch you right in the feels.

5. The faintest rainbows. On Sunday morning I woke up in that comfy, warm state where I could just hear the rain on my skylight. As I woke up properly from dosing I looked up and saw the faintest rainbow as the sun tried to push through the clouds.

6. Powerbounce. I'm such an advocate for trying new exercise so when I saw a have a go class for powerbounce on campus I gathered my team of girls and signed up. Yes well though we were going to fall through or off the mini trampolines, yes we didn't look anything like the instructor as we flailed out of time and yes it was hard work, but we laughed together and realised that we actually could do it and had lots of fun. Why not try something new this week?

Well that's all for now folks. It's been another busy week and I'm taking my birthday as the excuse for being late! However, these lovely ladies were smack bang on time and made my Wednesday reading so much better. Go read now:  JoHelenMichelleSarahKateCatSamEl KerriMimmiMartina , Peta and Kelly! Share your thoughts on twitter (#wonderfulwednesday) or in the comments.

Kate xx

Friday, 3 March 2017

Wembury Beach

On one of the sunniest days of February, with my oldest friends in Plymouth, we went exploring. I had heard rumours of how beautiful Wembury beach is and it didn't disappoint. Just a few miles outside Plymouth you could be fooled that you are nowhere near the city. Despite it being the sunniest day of half term the beach wasn't too busy. We packed ourself a picnic and sat people watching.

For all you dog lovers, this is a perfect pooch spotting area. I'm just going to give you the mental image of a dachshund trying to paddle its way through the rock pools. Or the spaniel who went running through and soaked everyone within a 100yrd radius. Or the little fluffy puppy who really wasn't sure about the water, but when he finally did get in came out looking half the size with all it's fur sticking to its sides.
Ok so we did a lot of dog watching...

We also explored the rock pools. Noticing how the water rippled over the sand and the many barnacles that clung to one side of the rocks. We were like kids again. Climbing and clambering over the rocks. Feeling the sponging texture of swaiths of seaweed. Drawing messages in the sand and watching them get washed away again.

We then climbed to the top of a nearby hill on which stands the village church. Sitting on a bench looking out to sea we deliberated life and talked about plans for the future. As the sun set and the tinges of pink started to creep across the sky my friend asked us to be 'protectors and guardians' of her future child. The equivilant of a godparent and I am so honoured. A moment on that bench where we hugged and I will never forget.

Kate xx

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #49

Told you last week the train journey from Exeter to Plymouth is spectacular.
When I started thinking about this week's list I thought it was a prett run of the mill kind of week and I wouldn't have much to say. I guess the beauty of taking the time to write these little lists is that it really makes you think and pick out thosse brilliant moments. They might not be earth shatteringly large or change your life, but if all these moments add up then they make life so much better. Taking time to be grateful for them makes me so much happier.

1. This Girl Can. I cannot get on board with this campaign enough. From the first time I saw all sorts of ladies getting their freak on in the first advert I was hooked. It made me think that it was ok to try something new. It brought exercise to so many who thought it was only for a certain type of woman. Now there's a new advert, narrated by Maya Angelo. With the poem that I talked about last Wonderful Wednesday - Phenomenal Women. At coaching this week I wore my #thisgirlcan top with pride as I inspired our next generation of girls to enjoy sport.

2. That pizza sitting at the bottom of the freezer. When you have the worst day and you just feel rubbish and you realise that you have a pizza. You can whack it in the oven and have cheesey goodness with minimum effort. Thank you and well done past Kate.

3. Going out to dinner just because. On Saturday night my flatmate and I were home alone so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner out. No special occasion, just vouchers that meant we wouldn't have to pay for it.

4. Lifts. The weather has been pretty dire recently and any time I've left the house I've been soaked to the skin. That's why I'm particularly grateful for lifts to training and work.

5. Tipsy chats that turn into big plans. I'll set the scene... I've finished a uni presentation, we decide to go for a pint. The afternoon of drinking was going well until I realised I was meeting someone. Well turns out a little bit of tipsy allows you to be a bit more confident in your abilities and talk yourself up a bit more. I wouldn't recommend it, but this conversation turned into big plans. Into exciting things for the future and people that are prepared to put time in to support me do it.

6. Focused library time. Saturday morning. In the library early doors. Took in my lunch. Smashed out 1300 words in 3 hours. Bish Bash Bosh!

7. Feeling exercise tired. You know that kind of dull ache that means you moved and used all the muscles in your body. Although you ache all over it kind of delicious because it shows how much you worked and how awesome your body is. I always feel drowsy afterwards and fall into such a deep, comfy sleep that when I wake I feel rested completely.

8. The biggest sausage sandwich. There is always room for food on Wonderful Wednesday and this is no exception. (I may have already mentioned pizza and a meal out, but run with me.) After coaching in the evening in a very cold sports hall and hot sausage sandwich was just the ticket. I had fresh, seedy bread, a generous, maybe excessive amount of sausage and lashings of ketchup. Perfect warm up food.

9. Pancakes. A Wonderful Wednesday in pancake day week without mention of the wonderful foods would be sacrilege. Mine were spread with nutella and filled with slices of banana. Yum.

And with that we hurtle into March. This year seems to be flying by! What has been making your week that little bit more special? Share using #wonderfulwednesday, comment and find out what's been making the rest of the gang smile:  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl Kerri's,Mimmi'sLynsey Martina's AND lovely Isabelle.

Kate xx

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Mum came to Plymouth

Last week my mum visited me in Plymouth. She was here for a few short days and I had to keep popping away to go to lectures, but it was so lovely to see her. Having her here in my new home was like a little holiday and having a piece of home here.

Although we only had a limited time together I showed her around my new home town. The Plymouth Sound was shrouded in hazy sunshine. Signs that Spring is just around the corner were everywhere. From the snowdrops gather secretly in the corners of the subway to the proud daffodils and 'Welcome to Plymouth' spelt out in pale yellow crocuses.

The few days were filled with chatter and food. We gorged on a massive Chinese, bacon sandwiches and cake. Catching up with the ones you love whilst sat on the top of a hill watching the sun set across the sea seems like a pretty darn lovely thing to do.

We may not have ventured far, but having her company was enough.

Kate xx

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Wonderful Wednesday #48

I missed a week. Slap my wrist somebody. And to make me feel even worse for missing a week, this week I had some particular Wonderful Wednesday goodness. To be honest it's been one of the busiest weeks of my time at university, but a pretty damn stonking one. The business is nothing to do with university and everything to do with adventuring, being with wonderful people and being a better person. So maybe I'm allowed a little bit of slack... and an extra Wonderful Wednesday this time round.

1. Extra big Wonderful Wednesday excitement in real life. This one must go tip top of the list because last weekend I met Lynsey and Michelle. We met, scoffed yummy food at Boston Tea Party and chatted about anything and everything. It was so lovely to meet them both and finally put real life people to our wonderful Wednesday gang. They are both just as marvellous as I expected. Thank you for a lovely few hours and the bakes ladies. Also the train journey from Exeter to Plymouth is pretty spectacular. Think vast landscapes and stretches where the train runs right by the coast.

2. Phenomenal Women. Now I think we're all in agreement that we live among some blooming phenomenal women, but being told you're one of them is such a massive boost. I attended a female coaching conference and the message was just that. Being in a room of 50 amazing coaches who are working their socks off to enable more people to play cricket is amazing. The atmosphere was supportive and inspiring and I can't wait to put everything into practise soon. I'll leave you with a poem by Maya Angelou, that was included in the opening speech... Phenomenal Women

3. Visitors. Last week was made particularly busy by the arrival of my Mum for a few days and then my oldest friends from home. They all made the 6 hour journey down to see me and we had a wonderful time exploring Plymouth and scoffing our faces. I got a little emotional with how far they had travelled to see me and the chocolate orange hot cross buns they'd brought with them.

4. Beaches in February. Sat on the beach without a coat with mugs of hot chocolate from a flask just people watching with my two lovely friends from home. Is this what dreams are made of? We walked up to the church on the hill and talked life plans as the sky turned paler and the pinky clouds crept in to the edges.

5. Brownies. No I lied in the previous point, I tell you what dreams are made of. The massive wedges of brownie that were just perfectly gooey and super chocolatey. We took so long deciding at the little stall and finally plumped for one chocolate orange, one kinder bueno and one raspberry and white chocolate and I can safely vouch for all three. Bold claim, but I think they may be the best brownies I have ever eaten!

6. MVP. This is a bit of a blow my own trumpet moment, but I'm going to do it anyway. This week the cricket leagues stats came out and I'm top ten for like everything and somehow second most valuable player (which is what MVP stands for in case you're not sure). I had to have a little sit down, then a dance round the flat. We're not at the end of the league so everything could change, but I'm a little bit proud of myself, especially as there's some bloody could players playing.

7. Long chats. I start to worry about my friend and I. How on earth can we talk for 3 and a half hours about cricket non stop and not get bored? And not repeat ourselves? But that's what we did yesterday. Over mugs of hot chocolate we chatted plans and what we want to achieve. It was definitely worth tidying my room for!

That's all for now folks. I've a pretty stonking bumper 2 weeks and now it's your turn. Use #wonderfulwednesday to tell us what's been making you smile and get along to these lovely ladies' blogs:  JoHelenMichelleSarahSallyCatSamEl Kerri's,Mimmi's, Lynsey Martina's AND lovely Isabelle.

Let me know if you write a post too and I'll add you to the list. The gang is growing so quickly I can't keep up!
Kate xx