The Strangest Treat of All

stormy sea

This week I got out my pink highlighter pen and crossed another treat off my list. Each time I do this I get a rush of satisfaction from solving a mystery. When I made the list six years ago, I had no idea how each of these sixty wishes would come to fruition and what the experiences would be like. I recounted the stories of thirty-one of them in 31 Treats And A Marriage, and since then I’ve carried on enjoying the remaining twenty-nine. I’ve done most of the at-home or close-to-home ones like horse riding lessons, planting some old-fashioned roses, and reading Middlemarch but there are still thirteen left and they include more demanding adventures such as Japan and an American train journey. Some are already in progress; I’m part-way round the glorious 630-mile South West Coastal Footpath, and can hardly wait to resume it next weekend after a break for the winter.

As each treat goes through metamorphosis from unknown prospect to memory, its personality is revealed and the mystery is solved. By then I know where it fitted in, and what it was like. In the beginning, they were simply things that I wanted to do whilst I was still fit enough to do them but I had no fixed plans. And that turned out to be lucky, as soon after, my life turned into a stormy sea that heaved with overwhelming events. During that time, the treats provided an anchor. Thankfully, life is much calmer now and the sun has come out.

sunshine

One of the remaining twenty-nine treats has been to ‘get a clock with a nice tick.’ That ended up on the list because Continue reading

Enough’s Enough

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I’ve had to talk firmly to myself over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, there are plenty of momentous distractions in the UK right now so I’m not concentrating terribly hard on what I’ve got to say. But I must find a way to listen. It’s important.

My problem is that Continue reading

System Overload

system overload 3

I like my neighbourhood very much but one of the disadvantages of living in a terrace is that it’s rarely possible to park outside our house. We often have to resort to the next street and sometimes this causes problems. Fortunately, our neighbours have dogs and regularly walk to and from the park. They’re impressively observant as several times they’ve spotted Mike or me wandering along vacantly trying to locate our cars, and have pointed us in the right direction.

This week, though, there have been many things to occupy my mind other than parking spaces. The most important of these is that Frank is Continue reading

Murder, Blackmail and Other Stuff

Alfred_Hitchcock_cameo_(1943)_Shadow_of_a_Doubt_2

“Mum,” said Henry the other day, giving me an odd look, “Is everything alright?” “Yes fine,” I said, briskly. “Why?” “It’s just that I was in the kitchen and happened to look at your list. It said, Clean bathroom—Hang out washing—Buy anti-snoring device—Get fence mended—Murder!”

By the latter part of this week, I’d done all of those things and had a new list: Take parcels to post office—Contact dentist—Ring Barbara—Buy vitamin tablets—Blackmail. Continue reading

The Politeness of Treats

daffodils

Last week I reached the end of a long walk. The North Downs Way stretches 153 miles from commuter-belt Surrey to the English Channel and I’ve been walking it in stages for over four years. Put like that, I seem a slow walker. But a lot has happened along the way. I’ve not only walked from Farnham to Dover; I’ve walked into a new life.

It was one of the first treats that I started, chosen because it was the nearest of the UK’s fifteen National Trails. I love the mystery of a long walk; you never quite know what’s going to unfold beyond that bend in the distance.  There are plenty of other pleasures, too: the landscape changes constantly; you have to watch out for Continue reading

Hoarding Stories

stage

In the past ten years or so, I’ve moved house five times and now it won’t be long until I move again. Several of those moves have involved significant downsizing and each time I’ve pruned my worldly goods a bit harder. But now as I edge into a new phase I’ve become even more ruthless. Unless an object is useful, beautiful or of genuine sentimental value, it goes. I’m trying to rid myself of delusions about what I will use, wear, read, watch or listen to in the future.

moving

Fantasies about what we might be or do are a justification for holding onto things but so is the need to leave a trace. Without tangible reminders then there’s no proof that we ever existed. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently since Continue reading

A Difference of Opinion

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Last week I went to see the film, Suffragette. I thought it was understated and moving, and it reminded me of the debt that we all owe to the brave women who fought for a fairer society. The film ends with the death of Emily Wilding Davison who threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. But that was not the end of the fight; this particular battle for equality was protracted and fierce—it took until 1928 for women in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to be granted equal voting rights with men.

At the end of the film, the audience is reminded that this was an international struggle, and many countries were slower than the United Kingdom in giving women the vote. The International Woman Suffrage Alliance was formed in 1904 but it took until 1971 for Swiss women to be granted suffrage, and Saudi women have only, this year, been promised the vote.

statue of liberty

The film also reminded me of something I learned when I visited the Statue of Liberty a few years ago. Continue reading