a London trip

Dear friends
It’s been ages!  I started this post several days ago but after a great lesson in relief society yesterday on personal histories where the following quote was shared, I need to make a greater effort to get over my fatigue in the evenings and write.  Here’s the quote, which I’ve kept next to Malachi 4 verse 6 to remind me that family history is about us living too:

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous.  I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy,  but I have stories. ”  Tafta Johnson Watson

Remember when you turned 16 years?  Well,  we had that special birthday in our family last month and Daur1 decided she’d like to celebrate with a visit to the capital city and it was my pleasure to take her.  There were a number of things on the London wishlist:
1. Buy a dress for prom – #1 priority “we have to get it now while the sales are on!”
2. Eat lunch in Soho (Chinese buffet preferably).
3. Visit Covent Garden.
4. See Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and generally as many of ‘the sights’ as possible in a day trip!  Fortunately it was payday a few days before our outing, last Saturday, and I am always one for travelling, maybe not shopping, but walking and sightseeing, that is me!!

So, we boarded the national express coach at 0740h Saturday morning – “why are you doing this?” teased my dear husband as it was just getting light – and we headed off.  An hour later and we were within Greater London and I was pointing out Twickenham Stadium of which Daur1 later commented on,  which [football /soccer] league are they in? and admiring the architecture, some great 1920s and 1930s residential.  Anyone arriving into London by coach knows that means London Victoria Coach Station,  a simple bus station on a corner facing an iconic structure, the National Audit Office – in fact, both buildings are great (in my opinion) and the white blocks mean their hard to forget.

Oyster cards purchased,  we made our way to Fonthill Road,  Finsbury Park.  The road where anyone in the know buys dresses and it didn’t disappoint.  It seemed there were several school girls doing prom dress shopping – the sales – but the first purchase was for me.   I saw,  and tried on a great African style dress which looked like it was made for me – long, fitted,  colourful,  I knew I would regret not buying it.  And then I also decided to buy a cute and colourful African peplum peplum style skirt for Daur2.  Thinking about it,  those purchases were probably my mistake and why today I feel the trip ruined me financially!!!

A fer trying on several dresses,  in several shops,  Daur1 had established, not burgundy, not red, not puffy skirt, definitely not going home with nothing.  I’m grateful for messaging as Daur1 messaged yet another dress to a group of trusted friends back home and I messaged my husband.  It has a high enough neck line,  with matching shawl/scarf to cover shoulders, not a full skirt,  and critically for Daur1,  heels will have to be worn, it’s long!!  With the emergency oast and raisin cookies now finished and task complete,  we headed back to central London and Covent Garden – the market, the Royal Opera – where Daur1 was in awe and exclaimed “This is AMAZING! I’m going to study in London!!”  It’s still a den of iniquity, I joked! Really,  I think everyone ought to experience living in a capital city at least once in their life, preferably when they’re able to explore all if has to offer.  And in the UK we have 4 to choose from – Edinburgh,  Cardiff,  Belfast and London. Culturally nothing compares to living in a big city – the galleries, the built environment, the businesses, the transport,  the government.  Clearly there are big non-capital cities which are also great places but, for me,  there’s a certain buzz when you are at a seat of government.

American Apparel

Was the next exclamation and I couldn’t understand why Daur1 was so impressed with American clothing,  until she pointed out the shop to me with a roll of her eyes and headed in to browse.  From there we walked to Leicester Square “So this is where Jennifer Lawrence was!” We admired the street artists,  art and comedy and musicians.  We wandered up into Soho, Chinatown,  came across the most urban primary school – Parish of Soho Primary, then on to Piccadilly Circus.  Bright lights and advertising wasn’t so impressive since we emerged from the street right under it but there was the bagpipes player and usual throng of people around Eros, or is it Cupid?  We bought hot dog, chips, falafel and water then headed on to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall,  Houses of Parliament,  Westminster Cathedral and then back up Victoria Street and the coach station.

It was a great day and I’m thinking of doing it again,  with the others.  It was lovely spending time with our eldest daughter.  We are similar in many ways and yet very different.  But or enjoyment of the simple pleasure of walking through streets,  admiring architecture and spaces, it was great.

I know this has been a very diary like post but I don’t want to forget what we did.  My phone lost it’s charge not long after we arrived at Covent Garden so we didn’t get many photos.  I learnt to enjoy the moment more and even though I spent more than I planned,  I’m glad for a memorable time with one of my babies 🙂


a story of weight

Dear friends,

Time for a flash back story.  The last time I was into regular exercise (not physical education at school!) was back in 1991. And that was sea swimming!  As a teen and into my university student days, I never really paid attention to my weight or fitness – I could run for a bus, I walked or cycled all the time, buy clothes in a medium size and I ate what I wanted – reasonably healthy. But then I had to do 12 months work experience and that’s when it all changed.

I was blessed to find work in the Caribbean, my mother’s home land of Barbados was my home for a year. It was the first time that I had been to her island home (and I’ve not been back since, but one day… maybe our 20th wedding anniversary… ). My dear mother persuaded me to grow up and wear a dress for the flight out – I bought a long cotton peach colour dress, flowy, quite country style, worn with heeled sandals – that was a big deal for me since as a student I constantly wore Doc Marten’s shoes!  I felt quite grown up as I boarded the British Airways flight.
I met two of my aunts, who still live on the island but as they met me at the airport one of their first comments was that I was all “skin ‘n’ bone.” Within a few weeks, making new friends through work and church I realised, well, I was told, that I really didn’t look Caribbean (despite my skin colour) or my age, my physique lacking curves. This didn’t bother but what did bother me was that after a few months of Bajan food (yummy!!), not walking anywhere (too warm) and sedentary work (at a drawing desk), my clothes were getting tight!! Something had to be done – I was no longer comfortable with my body 😦

So, the Atlantic Coast was on my doorstep, literally, and I’d always loved swimming so that was it. Before work and on Saturdays I would head down to the beach, swim to the next one and back again, usually back stroke, even in rain.  Looking back I was truly protected.  It was as if even the rougher locals who walked around with cutlasses  (cutting coconuts) never bothered me. My stuff was never stolen and even though the beach was through a small ‘gap’, I was never hassled.

Back in the UK, late in 1991 and I reverted back to my student lifestyle and was around 65kg when we married six years later.

We all go through phases and I accepted my increasing dress sizes as the children were born and tipped the scales at about 90kg. I’m taller than your average woman so felt (and was told) I could get away with this… but I knew. After our youngest was born and returning gradually to full time work I made some small decisions about my health that I could readily manage: always eat vegetarian when not at home, always use stairs at work (we’re on the third floor), and regularly take the bus. 78kg has been my stable weight for a few years now.

My dear husband has encouraged me to go back to swimming. I tried lunch time swims when my hair was in braids. It is definitely my thing but the costs, pool opening times and the chlorine affect on my hair (yes, I know that sounds pathetic, but I’m being honest) are all factors I need to consider.

What finally motivated me was a candid talk during October 2014 (#LDSconf) General Conference by a man I’d never heard of, will probably never meet and whose name I can’t pronounce. Jörg Klebingat of the Seventy said (listen to or read full talk here), in the context of increasing our spiritual confidence before God:

Take responsibility for your own physical well-being. Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! …
President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” … If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Saviour, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.

There were other aspects of the talk that touched my spirit but this section caused me to think that maybe I had been making excuses for too long and my physical body needed some nurturing, with effort. When our daughter expressed she really wanted to do more exercise my husband began jogging with her but his own commitments disrupted establishing a routine. I knew I had to be the one to support her. We enjoy similar activities, are similar stature, enjoy starting the day early (at dawn). We’ve agreed a simple route, round the big block, jogging and, on occasion, we’ll take the bikes.

So that is my story of where I am now. We do not have a scale at home but we’re using dress sizes – 2 sizes down is my target – that will get me to my marriage size. I know everyone will have a different story and reasons which I respect – I hope you can respect mine.

I’ve never really run before – not since coming last in the 1500m at sports day during my first year at secondary school! – but I’ve always loved how joggers,  runners,  seem to enjoy a total freedom.  Time for themselves, within the world, but not quite part of it, doing their own thing.  I started doing this for my dear daughter but now I’m genuinely enjoying it for me.  It suits my budget, my time availability, and my hair 😉