Thursday, 29 September 2011

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining

This 'quote' was found, scrawled on the wall below a Star of David, by American soldiers searching a cellar of a Jewish ghetto that had been cleared in one of the war-torn cities of Germany. I always think of this when ever things go a bit pear shaped or when I'm struggling on a long run.

"I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent."

And I always wish peace to whomever scrawled this.

A quote from Sarajevo to Healing Hands

“Your treatments give our members a reason for living”

Muzafer Teskeredzic, Secretary, Association of Civil Victims of War, Sarajevo

Liverpool to Bosnia....a marathon and a journey

Raising money for Healing Hands to help fund volunteers offering holistic therapies, working in Bosnia with civil war victims and also now offering treatments to Armed Forces returning from duty

So by running this marathon I am aiming to raise £750 so I can go to Bosnia in Spring/ Summer 2012 for two weeks to volunteer with Healing Hands. My employer, Deutsche Bank, match all funding by DB employees and up to £1000 from family and friends so I may raise enough to get another scouser massage therapist on board.

Just 3 hours away on a plane from the UK, in the early 1990s, generations of people in Bosnia had their lives changed forever. I cannot think of any worse pain than a mother or father losing their ability to protect their children and knowing that, in that moment, nothing will ever be the same again. How anyone can ever find peace again not knowing the fate of their most dearest loved ones, the people they have nurtured and protected thus far, is quite simply beyond my comprehension.

The images from the tv at the time are haunting, and there is one in particular of a little boy with his pet rabbit in Srebenica with all the other people seeking protection from the UN, thinking they’d be protected by the Dutch as the Serbians came in led by Ratko Mladic; I often wonder what happened to him as the massacre (Srebrenica genocide in which over 8000 people lost their lives) began not long after. The little lad just wanted his mum and dad – it’s so sad to think this was his experience of childhood.

I have read many books on World War 2, and indeed wrote all my French coursework on the Holocaust, the French Resistance and life under Nazi rule. I have read many books on Rwanda, Cambodia, Kosovo, Bosnia and the inescapable sense I always get from them all is the utter sense of despair and indescribable emotional pain of the protectors/ the adults at being stripped of their basic instinct to protect their vulnerable, their elderly and their children

And so whilst nothing can undo this, it cannot bring men back out of mass, shallow graves in Srebrenica and repatriate them for one last loving hug with their families, it cannot bring a glisten to the hollow eyes of the mother who sits staring at the wall every day in a refugee centre, wanting for a time that will never come again; something can be done to try and remind them that we care.

We are so, so fortunate to not have experienced what they have gone through, so I wanted to be part of the good work that the Healing Hands Network does, and that they have been doing in Bosnia for over 14 years. I will be working as a Holistic Therapist in their Sarajevo clinic and in their mobile outreach clinics with people who remain displaced over a decade on.

My last marathon was somewhat of a baptism of fire, running on a day when it was hotter than in Athens and watching someone lose his life on a pavement. I'm hoping this one will be calmer and who knows even I might enjoy this one.

I've done it!! Mission Fundraising accomplished

We counted the pot of money we've been collecting and it's meant I've reached my target for Marathon fundraising!! Woo hoo!!!

I have to raise £750 to go to Bosnia next year and work as a volunteer therapist.

As my employer also will match some (or most of it in fact) this is taking me well over the £1000 mark.

I can't thank the people who've supported me enough, we've been on this running and fundriaising since May and at times it feels like it will never end. Only 1% of people on this earth have ever run a marathon, and it's hard to explain how 'up and down' it can make you, but also how exhilarating it can be to acheive running distances you didnt think you could. It's not even about the distance to me it's about the mental strength and will power that we all have in us and often don't use!

I am going to Bosnia with Healing Hands Network, Sandra who heads it up was good enough to put an article in the charity newsletter this week to rally supporters to come and cheer me on.

In my next post I'm going to post the few words I wrote a while ago about why I wanted to do it: (also on my web link to the sponsorship page

Happy 18th...mile :)

Last Sunday, well in fact the one before (18th September) i set out with my co-pilot Gill Torres on our biggest running test so far..18 miles from not far off Liverpool city centre to Liverpool airport and back.

The highlight humour-wise was me running into MacDonalds (havent been in one for decades) in full runninge gear, a belt full of running gels and the whole place just starred at me from behind their big macs; i felt like an utter idiot but I was glad for the bottle of water (and the wee!).

The biggest thing to spur me on was meeting James and John along Menlove Avenue (where John lennon lived) - from a distance I realised it was them as James taps his dad on the shoulder whilst running because James is blind. And he is running Liverpool marathon - it will be his 41st marathon. And his Dad is 73 and looking great on it. He doesn't run with a tether like other blind runners, he runs behind his dad and taps his shoulder. So we had a really good natter and found out we are all in the same starting pen on Oct 9th for Liverpool marathon.

They overtook me a few years ago in the Liverpool Half marathon and I remember being in awe of James then. And so as we went our separate running ways I had a spring in my step I hadn't had before as the two of them are a total inspiration and I can't wait to meet them again on the big day.

Here is an article about the pair of them in the Liverpool Daily Post:

Thursday, 22 September 2011

DIY SOS Day with Nick Knowles

Last Wednesday (September 14th) I went with some workmates and 2 friends (Kate and Soraya)to work on a Children in Need Special DIY SOS Norris Green Youth Centre. It was a ten day project to rebuild and refurbishment of their building. This was 10 times larger than any of the building projects undertaken by the DIY SOS team in their previous series.

We joined in to help paint, dig, construct fences, clean, move vast amounts of building material and generally get covered in wet plaster (which then set on my knees) and window foam and dust.

The food they made us was immense, and we sat next to Billy from DIY SOS for our dinner. The spirit and atmosphere was really cracking to see everyone there giving up there time to help a place which has become " a beacon of hope within the community, committed to offering young people from the area an equal chance to achieve and gain positive life experiences".

It will be shown during Children in Need, and as I couldn't go back for the reveal day I am really looking forward to watching the show to see what it looked like finished.

We then had a couple of drinks down at Rigbys, 3 girls - looking like a bunch of dusty builders - we got some hilarious looks from people - mainly men!

As they say you have to be the change you want to see in the world. Simple.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Free as a bird....

I watched this during my late lunch. Sent by Ms Torres who knew I'd love it.
A young whale, trapped in nets is happened upon and saved. You should see his reaction when he is freed - it's totally amazing and very uplifting.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Croatian Lavender Ice Cream, Hvar 2011

Ok so I ordered the usual Caramel sort of ice cream at the little ice cream shop at the harbour. And then I noticed a sign on one saying 'lavande' so I explained to the guy that I sell Croatian Lavender on my website and I love it as it's sweeter than french lavender, and asked was this really ice cream made from lavender. Wow-wee it was! and he gave me some for free and I loved it!

I was also massivley laid back for the next couple of hours. This soon disappeared though once I had fed (the contents of the local supermarket shelf of dog food) to all the dogs from the mad house down the road from our apartment at Luka's hostel, and they followed me home like the pied piper - I secretly wanted to let them all in to come and play but suspected Helen and Gill wouldn't see the funny side of it. And indeed nor would Nicky the apartment owner who lived in the house next door!

Nicky was telling me how he once had lavender fields but they all burnt in a very harsh summer, but that we had just missed the 3 day lavender festival in his village, I think when they harvest all the fields and began to make the oils. How lovely that people still do such nice things. It reminded me of some good festivals I have been too - one in Figline Val d'Arno where I worked in Florence, at the local village oh my it was such good fun with jousting and all kinds in the middle of the night. And then one in Cyprus, when we went for the Christening of my cousins there, and we took the babies to a night time festival where all the locals gathered and nattered and ate.

I really do love the continent for the family and community values they still retain. Ooh which also reminds me of another festival we (me and my friend Helen) happened upon in Monterosso in the Ligurian Cinque Terre. It was a religious festival with statues carried through the tiny cobbled streets and lots of candles. We met lots of locals and had great fun!

Goths, Ghosts & Vampires on the fundraising trail :) April 2010

When Laura and I were trying to raise a minimum of £1600 for Sumatran Orangutan Society (in memory of their founder Lucy Wisdom who had died of Breast Cancer in the previous December) and £500 for Breast Cancer Care, I have to say we had to pull everything out the bag to get of our more creative was to do our own ghost tour of Liverpool. With help from Nico and Trevor, who can often be seen at Mello Mello and the Kazimier, and a heap of Tom Slemen books that my mum had won at some raffle somewhere, a ghost trail in the Liverpool Georgian quarter was created and it led us all the way though the night into the Cathedral gardens.

Now we had a great night, and we raised a good amount of money, in fact it was such a good mix of humour and 'scariness' I have recently been asked to run another one. I actually like to think it was down to the secret special effort I made on the night. Now I know that I am over 30 and should be more grown up, but I secretly gathered a costume and make up and on the night ( we congregated at the ye Cracke pub) I sneaked off to the toilets and turned myself into a vampire goth. The faces of the whole pub when I emerged were just priceless.

After the ghost tour I actually went out with friends to the Kazimier, still dressed as a goth vampire tour guide, with black cape and geisha face, to watch a hip hop/ skater punk brass band 'La Brass Banda from Bavaria' and I had an amazing time, they are just so full of beans you cannot believe it. And it's such an exciting place to be as it attracts so many creatives and interesting people - not one person batted an eyelid that I was dressed so bizarrely!!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Sky New Article - Freed Chimps - Get tissues ready! I cried!

SKY NEWS: Lab Chimps Laugh And Hug At Taste Of Freedom (Image: Sky

My friend just sent me this link, omg I love's just so so lovely. These guys had spent their whole lives never seeing light or feeling any love from us mean old humans and then they were rescued.They smile and hug...their expressions are just immense as they feel sunlight on their chops for the first time!

Click Here to read the story at Sky News..

Thursday, 8 September 2011

QE2, QE and tears before teatime

I am a writing this to delay having to go out and do my training run (marathon 4 weeks sunday). I drove to work today and the new QE2 (or is it 3??) was in - and then I read a financial headline about how Bank of England were debating QE2 today and I was so confused by 11am at why the B of E were debating the arrival of a cruiseliner in Liverpool I had to research and realised it was Quanititve Easing discussions in light of current economic conditions! Mystery solved Watson!

And anyway now I am hear, in the hallway a broken woman - it's finally got me - heaps of running clothes to wash, running in the rain and dark...and I'm not ashamed to say I cried because 9th October seems so fara away still and I, and my fellow buddies, are all facing the fear that we will fail. And it's a horrible feeling. People have sponsored you, people are coming to see you, the printers is doing my running vest tomorrow for the big day and I'm really scared. It's irrational really but that's us humans for you!

On a grand old note I've now raised £500 which Deutsche Bank will match so that's £1000 quid with still lots of sponsorship yet to come in! It will make a difference in Bosnia and that is what I think of on these dark days. I'm healthy, I'm safe, I've a home and my family and friends. I'm lucky. So I'm going to kick my sorry ass into touch and get out there! Vive la nuit! Vive la pluie! Vive well vive getting home into a hot bath and snoozing into a rather dreary Thursday evening.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A beautiful mind...?

I sat down today at lunchtime and thought about what had happened in the 2 years since I have blogged and what, indeed, would I have blogged about in that time. Now there is so much stuff I can't begin to put it all down and in fact I cannot remember it chronologically!
This photo is from a great art performance piece called 'And the World Tipped' which was shown at Liverpool Cathedral a few weeks ago. It was very cleverly done, it made me at once both sad and hopeful.
To anyone who knows me well, they know I have one of the most over-active brains and minds, that rarely switches off and causes me no end of trouble..but can come up also with great ideas! (and some rubbish ones!)
Blogs I should have written but didn't, but will in this next week:

  • Brick Lane markets with Miss Gower

  • Into the Williamson tunnels - Liverpool from below

  • The 4th Plinth, stopthechop and my chicken wire dress

  • Joining the RSA - Scouser on the Strand

  • Edinburgh marathon, hope, life and death in a day, RIP Doug Mcfarlane

  • Santa Dash

  • Last flickers of youth in Ibiza - no drugs and 2 glasses of champagne

  • Skiiing and amaretto with snow angels and gazing upon glaciers from a hot tub

  • Ramadan in deepest Morocco

  • Football matches in Morocco - the only 3 women in the crowd of 500+

  • Property Guardianship

  • My lovely plants lived, despite the vandals

  • Croatian Lavender Ice Cream

  • RSPCA volunteering - my new bunnies and fresh air and freedom

  • Liverpool overhead railway - disused tunnels and ghost hunting through history

  • Munich Christmas markets 2009

  • Snow at the Vicarage and the mysterious snowman in the middle of the night

  • the first church bombed in UK in WW2

  • Meeting Antony Gormley and my fellow plinthers

  • Meeting Gordon Burns on a cold night in Mossley Hill

  • City Living is not for me anymore - La'go nights and Dizzy Rascal

  • My chest of drawers in the jazz club at 4pm....

  • hope4apes - nearly fainting seeing David Attenborough

  • DIY SOS in Norris Green

  • Building a sensory garden in Fazakerley

  • Liver Building - Happy 100th birthday and our special tour = tooooo high, I'm scared!

  • And the World Tipped....

And so I bid you goodnight...x

Monday, 5 September 2011

To the end of the rainbow x

Alot has happened in the 2 years I haven't blogged, I've been wasting my creative juices updating facebook and the like!

And so back to basics, here we are. And appropriately I awoke this morning to see a rainbow through my window! A new start!

I've run the Edinburgh marathon (May 2010) and raised about £3,000 for Sumatran Orangutan Society, I have been invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Drama in London (and accepted of course) and I am in training for the Liverpool Marathon in October so I can go to Bosnia next year and work in a holistic therapy clinic.

I'm going to do some re-cap blogs with pics and so forth, of markets on Brick Lane, time out in Morocco, new products from Little Satsuma, the lovely people we share our studio space with...ooh and allsorts.

There is so much out there to enjoy and behold, sometimes we just don't see it so readily! I'm glad we're back! Watch this space! xxx