I don’t often share my poetry on social media, especially not my longer pieces of spoken word. I know that there are a few video’s of me performing live out there in the ether and I occasionally share smaller pieces of poetry online too, but those sharings are usually reserved for the pieces of work I don’t know what I’d do with otherwise!
Saying this, I recently performed at The SAN (Social Auditing Network) Conference, where I was tasked with listening to the talks, then creating and performing some poetry in response. I found this so interesting and really think that pressure-filled assignments like this can produce the most surprising results!
So please see below, my take on Fake News – a concept that came up within the conference that sparked my interest.
I remember when I was 5 years old
it was a frosty Christmas Eve and I was
filled with excitement and curiosity
I asked my mum how Santa
was going to fit through our tiny chimney
Without even blinking she replied
“He’s got a magic key
he’ll open up the front door
and put your presents under the tree”
I remember when I was 13
my mum cut out the pages of a teen magazine
so that I would not read the article about rape
I’m not saying that what my mum did was bad
from a place of protection and love
my mum did what she could to keep me young
didn’t deny me of the facts
just simply waited till I was old enough
But from as early as I can remember
the truth around us has been twisted to fit an agenda
not necessarily in the name of peace or safety
but in the name of fulfilling someone else’s
These days, news stories are resembling
whispers on the playground
because truth is a word full of puncture wounds
and is rapidly deflating
Truth has led us down a path with little more than
breadcrumbs in our pockets
Truth is a friend who neglects to text, then posts on Facebook
but says their phone was “broken for a bit”
The truth here is grown inside a petri dish
fed artificial food,
never sees the natural light of day,
instead lives under phosphorescent
I dream of a future where truth is sacred
and never watered down or tampered with
But in a world where truth holds a very hollow meaning
it might be wise to look inside
and see what fake news of our own
we may be perpetuating
I aspire to be a pillar of honesty
but I weave poems out of stories for a living,
turn pain into paper stars
and I sprinkle art all over everything
I would never be able to do that
without a touch of creative licensing
I’m not saying this makes me just as bad
or that we should tell our kids the real reason
why Santa can’t fit through the chimney,
I’m just saying that it’s important to recognise
that even white lies can contribute
to the problem we are having
You are instrumental in the fight for truth
But first, look in the mirror and be honest
because fake news starts with you
*Please note: I own the intellectual rights to this piece of work. Please ask for permission and for my policy on crediting before sharing. Always credit your sources. I do not give permission for my work to be changed/edited unless permission has previously been granted.
I want the “fall” that is presented to us on social media. On Pinterest fall is a flurry of good looking 20 year olds warming their hands by the rustic, aesthetically pleasing campfire during a pit-stop on their woodland road trip in their upcycled camper van. Instagram presents fall as an endless stretch of cosy night spent in blankets and cosy pyjamas, drinking homemade pumpkin spice lattes in rooms filled with autumnal wreaths and pumpkins (oh and kittens, there are usually kittens). On Facebook I see a million quotes about fall, mainly focusing on “the beauty of losing leaves” etc. while families tag their adorable children in pictures from trips to the pick-your-own-pumpkin patch. Of course this all sounds nice and everything; but the warm, cosy feelings that these images suggest are not just what the colder months means to me.
I am one of those people who feels down during the autumn/winter. The cold does not sit well inside my body. I am prone to chest infections and, like a huge amount of other people in the world; tend to feel suddenly, inexplicably down starting from the first few signs that summer is leaving us.
Of course it’s all what you make of it and perspective is everything and “hey it could be a lot worse” however I can certainly acknowledge that this weather can have a strong impact upon your overall mood and mind-frame and that there are simple things we can put into place to change that.
In the interest of helping myself as much as anyone else, I decided this year to take the time to compile some self-care tips that are practical to help you get to grips with the season change and enjoy yourself to the fullest. You do not need to be unhappy for half the year after all. I actually wrote this in August (that’s how early I was mentally preparing myself for autumn this year) but it felt like now was the best time to finally refine and post it.
Get an Instagram-worthy warm beverage ready; and we will get started
If you celebrate Christmas, I know you don’t want to hear that dreaded “C” word just yet but trust me it will sneak up on you and before you know it: it’s 23rd December and you’re rushing around a packed out town, sweating and panic grabbing a tonne of bath sets as presents just like you promised yourself you weren’t going to. This is not going to help any sort of anxious feelings that you may already be having.
My advice may sound extreme but I recommend you to make your list right now! List everyone you want to buy cards for, list everyone you want to buy presents for, list everything you need on the day, make a note of how many events you are likely to attend and if you want something new to wear to them, draw up a budget, buy them, hell, even gift wrap them and sign them now before November even starts! I promise you the more organised and on top of things you are the less you are going to stress as Christmas draws closer.
(My side note is that I know that some people really do enjoy this time of year so if you want to take your time with it then be my guest. For me personally, I know that Christmas stress can massively contribute to feeling stressed or anxious.)
Usually health kicks are reserved for summer (sometimes for the wrong reasons; #bikinibody I’m looking at you.) however it is so important to look after yourself during the winter months.
People can be more prone to illness around this time so it’s incredibly important that you look after your body. Get enough vitamins and minerals, if you don’t know the first thing about nutrition then maybe this is the time to start to learn. Drink enough water, get enough sleep, do some exercise, get fresh air. These are the things that people have been saying for years and it’s so easy to read this and think “yeah yeah, I’ll get to it.” but like everything: these things only work if you implement them and stick to them often.
Get a Routine
My morning and evening routines become more important during this time. I noticed last year that I really enjoyed waking up early and getting the most out of the day. During a time when motivation (and sunlight) can be in short supply, a steady routine can make a heap of difference. I fell out of my early morning routine and am so determined to get it back this year!
My evening routine changes around this time of year too. Usually I’m a shower in the morning person but during winter I switch it up: run a bubble bath (see I do take inspiration from Pinterest sometimes.), drink an herbal tea and read in bed. It’s such a lovely way to wind down and if the colder, darker months are good for one thing, it’s reading. Another priceless technique I added to my routine was making a list before I went to bed of everything positive that had happened that day. This process made such a difference to my mood. (I just wish I was slightly better at keeping at it.)
Environment is Everything
You’re going to be spending a lot more time in your home most likely, so it’s important that you make your space feel like somewhere you want to be! Make it relaxing and inviting. Have a winter clear out, change things up, move some furniture around; movement is great for shifting energy and will give your place a revive. I know that looks aren’t everything but your brain really does respond to what it can see. Bright colours can have an uplifting effect so even consider a new lick of paint. Don’t feel like you can only use autumn/winter colours: last year I bought a yellow duvet and it genuinely lifted my mood every time I saw it. Things like candles, flowers, art, blankets, rugs, lamps, fairy lights etc. can all be brought pretty cheaply and can make a massive difference to the atmosphere in your space.
“If you can’t beat them, join them” as they say! Make a list of everything you do like about autumn/winter. This time of year is full of great events; pumpkin picking, woodland walks, Halloween parties, haunted tours, foraging, bonfires, firework displays, winter fairs, Christmas Markets, this is the time to get out and explore! A little known fact is that winter is often the best season of the year for theatre’s and art galleries; places tend to get the most audience members at this time of the year and tend to really put thought into programming some great shows and exhibitions during this time, if there was ever a time to go see some art, now would be it! Also as mentioned earlier, reading is another great habit to pick up during this time. You could even make a list of all the books you’d like to get through in the next few months or start asking round for recommendations.
Plant The Seed
With every season, it’s good to look to nature for inspiration or ideas on how best to spend your time. Winter is a time for seeds to grow deep underground. After harvest everything appears to go quiet, but there are many things happening beneath the surface, working away to ensure that they can bloom later in the year. Use this time to plant your own seeds. Make some plans for future projects and reflect on what has been going well this year, and what is still to be done. As a freelancer, winter is usually when I hunker down and really fine tune my plans for future creative projects. Decide what else you would like to do before the year is out and make some resolutions for the New Year.
Spend A Little
Money is not everything and I do hope that I can discourage people from spending mindlessly. I think we all need to be conscious of how much we consume. That said, there are a few things that you can buy that can really make life easier for you this time of year.
Some things worth spending your money on are:
Air humidifier (can help with coughs/colds/sore throats and also fragrance the air with natural essential oils.)
Natural candles/essential oils with uplifting scents
Skincare (cracked dry and bleeding hands are no fun – treat yourself to something that can calm and nourish your skin)
Yoga/meditation classes & apps. (For me one of the most worthwhile things to spend your money on. I’d go for an actual class over an app but either is a great option.) YouTube is also a great source. I often pop my headphones on and look
Anything cosy: hot water bottle, hand warmers, hats, scarves, gloves, socks, boots, slippers, pyjamas, coats. Buy what you know you will need or even suggest a clothes swap with some friends if you want to save money.
Don’t forget to set aside some money for trips away/concerts/cinema etc. I think it’s really important to be social this time of year and it’s always best to have a little saved away in case of any last minute invites.
While it’s so easy to shut away and hibernate and we have all the excuses at our fingertips “I have a cold” “It’s raining” “It’s too cold to go outside” it’s so important to hang out with your friends! Make plans (look back to earlier when you made your list of events you want to go to!) and stick to them. Social interaction is so important this time of year. If it really is too cold then plan lots of cosy nights in: think home cooked pizzas and board games. Don’t forget about your family either. Make a conscious effort to attend things you’re interested in: feeling part of a community with like-minded people can hugely impact your mood.
I have to break something to you; I have worked for three very different charities over the years of who all rely heavily on the support of the public. I can tell you that Christmas was the hardest time for all of them financially. I know the Christmas films would have you believe that everyone is out to help their fellow man this time of year, but this isn’t always the case. (Of course my experience is limited and I’m sure some other charities may receive a surge of income this time of year also.) This doesn’t necessarily mean people are selfish; it’s an expensive time and a lot of people out there are already struggling. But what I am saying is that it’s really important to be kind this time of year. Think of the people who are less fortunate than you in any way and find a way to give back. Helping people gives you a buzz like no other and, you know; helps people in the process. It doesn’t have to be big; make someone laugh; help someone carry their luggage, be patient with the people who work in customer service. Whatever you do, just be kind.
Big or small, we all love a holiday. If you can afford a month in the tropics, then go. If you can afford a weekend to the next city, go. Even if you aren’t travelling to a warmer destination; having a break from your normal routine and exploring a new place can be massively beneficial to your wellbeing.
Although I would say that more and more people these days are considering life in another country. While I haven’t yet decided if this is the life for me, I strongly urge you to look into it if you have the means to. While it might sound slightly extreme, impractical or expensive; for some of you it might be more attainable than you think. I know it sounds extreme but if you are largely affected by your climate then isn’t it worth at least considering it?
Know When to Ask for Help
While these tips can certainly lift a mood, if you are seriously struggling with SAD or anything else, please seek professional help or the support of people you trust. It’s not always a good idea to try and go it alone. If you feel you are struggling during this time then please do not waste a moment in seeking advice.
I’d love to know if any of these tips work for you. If you have any of your own, please let me know!
Lots of love and reluctant festive hugs
*the lovely photograph in this post is by Sinead from Love Style Mindfulness. You can see her blog here: https://www.lovestylemindfulness.co.uk/contact/
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful July, I know I certainly have! As I’ve been getting up to quite a lot this month, I thought I’d take the time to look back and fill you in on some of my favourite moments.
4th July: My Birthday
Starting the month off with a bang (literally I guess if you were living in America) was my 27th birthday! I usually am not the biggest fan of birthdays (long story) but this one was so lovely, I got inundated with cards/gifts/flowers (okay by inundated I mean slightly more than usual) and had some great life chats with friends over rose lemonade.
5th July: School’s Workshop
Okay this might not seem particularly life changing but this was one great session! I was asked by Ged Thompson, a fellow poet/friend to visit a class he has been working with. It was great seeing the students asking questions about poetry and I am wholeheartedly inspired by Ged’s attempt to sneak creativity back into the curriculum! (once a rebel, always a rebel)
I volunteered on a project that was delivered by Writing on the Wall and Liverpool Pride that worked with LGBT+ Liverpool residents and refugees. The project was called What’s Your World Pride Story. The team delivered 8 weeks of sessions that explored writing around identity. The pieces of fiction, non-fiction and poetry produced were published in an anthology. I loved watching the process unfold and was blown away by the work that was created.
22nd July: Alternative Fashion Fest: Rock Night
There’s going to be a lot about AFF in this post because it just so happened that they did a lot this month that I was involved in! This event saw the team take over The Tivoli in Buckley, Wales and put on a night full of fashion, fire & glass-eating (yup, you heard me) not to mention much more.
24th July: Photoshoot for Sean’s Birthday
A friend and fellow member of AFF decided that instead of a party, he wanted to run a huge photoshoot showcasing the personalities of his friends and family. I loved the concept Sean dreamt up for me. The original idea was to decorate my face and neck in lines from some of my poems. When I found out the Sean writes too; we decided to use his words for the majority, which I thought was a nice way to collaborate. In the spirit of not making this post ridiculously long: I’m going to post Sean’s results in a separate blog post where I can include the lines of poetry too.
29th July: Pride March
I marched in the parade amongst 8000 others representing Alternative Fashion Fest and their stance on anti-bullying, anti-hate crime, tolerance and body positivity. I also swung by the Where’s Your Pride Story book launch and ended the day taking shelter from the chaos in the VIP section.
30th July: Pride Performance
Alternative Fashion Fest took to the steps of St Georges Hall. The performance consisted of body positive catwalks, fire performances, dance, burlesque, speeches and what I call “think pieces” I performed some spoken word around acceptance and did some live streaming from behind the scenes which was really fun.
This month I also slept a lot, ate way too many quorn burgers, got a bit of a tan and went through a phase of grumpiness/eventual acceptance as I realised that summer is nearly over. Oh and I went to a yoga class too! (I understand that one out of a month is not the best but just let me be happy about it okay)
Reading: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel.
Watching: Scary stories on YouTube!
Listening: Ultralife by Oh Wonder and Green Light by Lorde
Drinking: Cacao, lots of cacao.
And there you have it!
What were your best bits from the last month? Let me know in the comments below. What are you looking forward to most about August?
In honour of turning 27 next week, I thought I’d list 27 things I’ve done this year that made me really happy.
With no further adieu….
1. I performed at Pride. I got to stand on stage as part of a book launch and perform some poetry about acceptance.
2. I set up this blog. I’d wanted to for a while. This year I had that final push to make it happen.
3. I travelled. Specifically: Wales, Barcelona, Thailand and Bali! And with that…..
4. I did a silent retreat. (Probably the highlight of the whole year) I spent 7 days in mindful silence and am really excited at the thought of doing another in the future.
5. I ran my first spoken word programme. Find Your Voice had some lovely feedback and I am well on the way to putting on two more courses – an advanced course for the people who completed the first and a beginners one for a new intake of people! (Soon I will have created my very own army of socially conscious spoken word artists muahahaha)
6. I got to perform at Sound City. I’ve performed at a few festivals but this was the one I was the most excited about. I got to watch The Kooks afterwards and Mamatung which made my night.
7. I was published – twice! Once by Writing on The Wall and the other in Womanly Words by Shakti Women.
8. Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts! I find them so fun. This year I was a part of 4 in total….
9. I had a reiki attunement. Meaning now I am able to practise on other people. Hit me up if you need some of that healing goodness in your life.
10. I got my fashion on. Alternative Fashion Fest recruited me into their performances to share some poetry I have around beauty standards. Every performance is jam packed with a chaotic atmosphere backstage and I love being a part of the family.
11. I learned to contour. Now I’m not really someone who’s super bothered about makeup. But it dawned on me that I have been applying makeup the same exact way pretty much for the last 10 years and thought it was definitely time to learn a new technique or two! Which brings me to…
12. I wore a dress. In my last two years I had removed pretty much everything that could be seen as feminine out of my wardrobe in favour of black jeans, doc martins and jumpers. I bought myself a vintage style floral print number and it feels amazing to wear! Especially when you turn around and it does that swooshing thing.
13. I had a life coach. I never thought I’d have one, I thought it sounded a bit gimmicky but I met mine under such natural circumstances that choosing to work with her felt right.
14. I started the new year off right. I usually worry about NYE, panic and agree to do something I don’t really want to do. This year (and also the year before, actually) I learned to take a risk, do something a little unconventional and put myself out of my comfort zone in order to spend New Year with amazing people, doing something incredible. I really felt that the risk paid off.
15. I worked for an organisation that was doing incredible work to create a fairer society.
16. I stood up for myself. When something seriously uncool took place in my life I chose to handle it in a way that made me proud. I’m so thankful to have had the support of an amazing community during this time and feel that what happened ultimately helped me to create stronger bonds with others. Solidarity is the best.
17. I started writing more. After going through a bit of a slump, recent months have seen my creativity spark again. As well as poetry I’ve also been trying my hand at scriptwriting, blogging and even a YA novel!
18. I got to grips with photography. I realised how useful it is to have those skills so I put in time behind the camera to learn a thing or two about getting the perfect picture.
19. I watched my friend get married!
20. I worked in a different city. Well many of them but I specifically spent a lot of time in Manchester where I met some amazing people. Manchester definitely has a huge part of my heart.
21. I read a lot more. Some favourites being: Eat, Pray, Love, The Alchemist, The Celestine Prophecy, Holes, The Secret Garden and The Night Circus.
22. I spent time in the studio. I got to put some of my poetry to music with my extremely talented friend Lewis.
23. I competed in The Great Northern Slam. I’d only ever done one slam before and that was a couple of years ago. Jeff Price runs a tight ship and the whole night was tense but enjoyable at the same time! I got the highest score in the first round, lost out on the second round by 1% but I had an amazing time and learned a lot.
24. I grew. Later in the year I started doing a lot of personal growth work. It’s tiring and exhausting sometimes but it really is amazing to see the judgements that you have carried through life and watch those be challenged. I feel proud of myself for confronting some deep things and hopefully this is just the start of the journey for me.
25. I got my shaman on: sacred sound journeys, cacao ceremonies, divine feminine workshops, gong baths and energy healing sessions. This has definitely been a year for expanding my horizons.
26. I saw Akala live. I’ve wanted to see him for a while now and he didn’t disappoint.
27. I looked to the future. I took the time to make goals that worked for me. I’m currently weighing up the options for the years ahead with the possibility of doing a masters or even a big move!
Who knows what the future holds. I’m looking forward to making my 27th year even better than this one. What are some things you have done this year that made you happy? Also, if you are a July baby like me then I’d love to know your summer birthday celebration plans!
Last week I wrote a post on why it’s good to set goals, which you can read here. This week I’m sharing some of my favourite goal setting techniques for you to try. It’s a bit of a long one, but stick with me and you’ll get a great overview of how to set goals that work for you!
You Don’t Have to Focus on Your Career
It’s common to see people setting goals that focus solely on their careers however it is really good to check in frequently with the other areas of your life and ask if there is anything you could be doing to better enhance those.
First you need to know what other areas there are. When I’m setting lots of goals for myself, (something I usually do about twice yearly) I consider the 7 dimensions of wellness: Social, Emotional, Occupational, Environmental, Intellectual, Physical and Spiritual.
Side note: If you don’t class yourself as a spiritual person – don’t worry! This section could be anything along the lines of: appreciating a sunset, doing kind things for your friends and family or feeling inspired creatively. It can really mean whatever you want it to.
If some of these don’t resonate with you, then you can always change them around a bit. I think they serve as a good guide to go off but you could divide the areas in your life in many different ways. The key is to make them specific and relevant to you. An example could be: Home, Education, Work, Friends/Family/Relationships, Fun, and Health. Really any way you do it is fine.
The important part is to make goals that correspond to all the different areas of your life.
You may want to use S.M.A.R.T Targets when you set a goal. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time Bound) I’m going to break them down to give you a better idea of what I mean.
Specific: Be as specific as possible with your goals. When I was younger, I’d make New Year’s resolutions that would say “Be happier” “Be successful” etc. which sounds nice but what does that even mean? How would I even begin to work towards that? And how would I know when it had been achieved? You want to turn your goal into something tangible. Include the details.
Measurable: E.g. “I will have completed (X task) by (X amount of time)” There has to be an end and there has to be a way you can track your progress. “I want to be a successful poet” is something I would have probably written down a while ago but something like “I want to have a poetry collection published by 2018” gives a clearer idea of what needs to be done.
Attainable: If you can keep your goal attainable and realistic then you are far more likely to achieve it. An ideal goal should be a little hard to attain but not impossible. It’s about finding the right kind of challenges for you. We don’t want to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. If we ask the world of ourselves and fail to achieve it then that’s only going to lower our self-esteem and further take us away from actually achieving. Keep your goals simple to start and you can always build on them later. Splitting things up into small manageable chunks should also help with this.
Realistic/Relevant: Different websites or professionals will use either one of these two titles. I like to use relevant. Is this goal A: something you’re interested in and B: something that is actually relevant to your life? Does it fit in with your wider goals and dreams? It could be worth running some of your goals by someone who knows you well, see if they agree that it’s worth focusing on. (But remember to take people’s opinions with a grain of salt and also I’d only share your goals with someone who is supportive) Either way, now is the time to be clear.
Time Bound: Pretty self-explanatory but adding a time frame or deadline to your goal will make a big difference. Again be realistic, we’d all like to be super successful by tomorrow but it’s not going to happen. It’s a good idea to break your goal down into manageable chunks with their own deadlines too. For example if my goal was to hit 1 million views on YouTube by next year then today I need to set up a YouTube channel. This week I need to film my first video. Next week I need to take out a book on marketing etc.
Your goals should exist to inspire and motivate you. If you do not achieve them it doesn’t mean you have failed, it may be that you set something slightly unrealistic and it means you know better for next time. As time passes people generally get better at setting appropriate goals for themselves. What is important, in my opinion is to let your goals serve as a guide.
The next post on this topic will go through some tips and tricks to make goal-setting even easier! I’d love to know how you get on if you decide to try any of these techniques. Thanks for sticking with me on a slightly longer post. Hopefully I’ve taken some of the headache out of goal setting for you! Don’t forget to subscribe and/or follow me on social media for poetry musings and updates.
I’ve always been a fan of goal setting and reflecting.
When I was younger I actually used to think that no-one else did things like this and that it was me being way controlling over my life and extra laborious! As I have grown up, I have discovered (to my delight) that other people do this too. Not only that, but there is whole plethora of books, e-books, seminars, talks, YouTube videos and courses that all centre on the importance of goal setting and reflection.
I’m going to be talking about this over a series of blog posts in more detail but for now lets cover some of the basics…
Why Bother Setting Goals?
I think for many of us, especially those of us who are creative, the idea of goal setting can feel a little unnatural. In my experience, I have found that learning to set goals in a useful way can actually help you to dream big and put your plans into action! We all have ideas in our head of things we would like to achieve, goal setting is just another way to make them concrete and ultimately: help you get them done! Since I’ve been setting goals for myself I’ve felt a lot more inspired in life, I have more faith in myself to get things done and have achieved things that I never thought possible. The key lies in creating goals and plans that are specific, simple and tangible! There is definitely a knack to getting it right.
Turn Your Year Around: Workbook
I recently came across a workbook (pictured above) by YouTuber MuchellB. It was a free download linked on her video How To Slay The Next 6 Months, which you can watch here. I thought this seemed like a great way to check in with the progress you’ve made so far this year and set some expectations for the months ahead .
MuchellB also talks a lot about goal setting, organisation, minimalism, creating positive habits and just generally how to be a responsible human being. I do recommend you check out her stuff if you want a little motivation in these areas.
One thing I like about this workbook is that it’s pretty extensive! It really goes into detail and there’s an emphasis on your feelings around certain things which I like.
You may want to create your own little system with questions that are more specific to you. However there is something nice about having a 9 page document that is already done for you and set out beautifully! (Plus if you are like me and sometimes need an extra push into doing your life admin, then having a pre-made document will probably mean that you’re more likely to actually do it)
To Wrap it Up
In my experience, having clear goals can really help to fast track your life and realise your full potential. Hopefully this introduction sparks your interest or re-ignites your passion if you are already a goal-setter needing a little push. Next week I will share some of my favourite techniques along with the common pitfalls that people make! If that’s something you need in your life you can follow me on social media and subscribe on WordPress to be the first to know when it’s out!
I hope the next 6 months see all of us achieving some incredible things and I can’t wait to hear how you all get on!
On World Book day, I wrote about two books that have shaped my life. Today I wanted to review something that I am currently reading; The Secret Garden written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and published in 1911!
Why Did I Decide To Read It?
A while ago I was incredibly lucky to be able to spend some time in Bali, Indonesia. One thing I loved the most about the country was the scenery! I live in the north of England so as you can imagine: jungles, palm trees and tropical flowers are not exactly things I get to see very often. While I was revelling at these sights, I realised that I had really been taking the UK’s countryside for granted.
I was desperate to get my hands on a book that celebrated the landscapes of this cold climate. (maybe thinking it would cushion the blow of flying back home during the depths of winter) and I remembered this book was sitting at home in my bookcase.
“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”… “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
The story follows a little girl called Mary who spent her young life living as a very spoiled, bad tempered child in India. When a terrible illness wipes out everyone in her home but her, she is sent to live with her uncle at his manor house in Yorkshire, England.
With nothing much to do and many rooms in the house considered “out-of-bounds”, Mary takes to the gardens. Here she meets gardener Ben Weatherstaff, makes friends with a Robin and uncovers both the key and the entrance to the off-limits secret garden.
“As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them. She liked it very much and when she looked into his funny face with the red cheeks and round blue eyes she forgot that she had felt shy.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
Playing outside and breathing in the fresh air from the Yorkshire moor has a strange effect on Mary, much to the surprise of the staff at the manor. Mistress Mary, who previously never had a nice word to say, nor interest in anything or anyone gradually changes for the better.
The Secret Garden follows Mary’s adventure and the friends she makes along the way.
“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
Delightful and enchanting are two words that spring to mind when I think of this book! It captures a real sense of childlike wonder and places emphasis on the simple things in life that we often take for granted.
Having a central character that is flawed and unlikeable is really refreshing and the descriptions of the Yorkshire moors are gorgeous!
I really enjoy the sentiment behind the story. In a gentle way, the author portrays how after throwing herself into the outdoors and tending to a garden; a previously miserable, ungrateful child suddenly comes into bloom herself. Mary starts to appreciate the beauty in her surroundings, gains a whole new respect for life and ultimately lives as a happier child.
There is something in that, don’t you think?
“Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.
– Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”
– Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
I’d love to know if there are any books from your childhood that you feel have stood the test of time and absolutely love today! I haven’t read many of the classics so if there is anything you think is worth reading then please let me know and hopefully we can discuss them soon!