Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Window on the world

It's here, it's started! My brain is buzzing, my heart is full. Can you tell I'm excited? The Henley Literary Festival kicked off this week with a host of writers, performers and literary stalwarts. The festival and I go way back. Ten years ago, when it first opened its doors, it took my hand and said, Stop pining for London - look what Henley has to offer! We've been friends ever since.

Comedian Ben Miller asks: 'Is there life beyond earth?'
For one week in the year, I cram my head with knowledge. It's like I'm making up for lost time - and perhaps I am. My biggest regret from my university years was not attending enough lectures. At the time, bed seemed a more inviting prospect first thing in the morning. In my callow youth I took 'learning' for granted. Now, entrenched in the humdrum world of work and parenthood, I can't get enough of it.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Drama in the night

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

"Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!" was King Lear's famed reaction to the storm. "Where the hell are my children?" was mine last week as I lay in bed listening to rolls of thunder shake our house to its very foundations. 

Lightening and thunderstorm in the night sky
Where are the kids?
© Jaroslav Noska |
Normally, a rollicking, good thunderstorm never fails to bring all three children running into my bedroom like rats deserting a sinking ship, but last week as the storm bellowed outside my open window, there was no sign of them. My first thought was: Oh well, I'll just go back to sleep! But then I started to panic. What if Walking Toddler was a gibbering wreck, too frightened even to call out my name? What if one of them has been struck by lightening unbeknownst to me?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Don't stop believing...

Self-belief is a powerful but fragile gift. One of my personal heroes has always been Amelia Earhart, a pioneering pilot and a woman of incredible courage and vision. This week I was reading about about how she may have ended her days as an injured castaway on a remote Pacific island. New research indicates that she made a series of distress calls from the island after her Lockheed Electra crashed in the summer of 1937 during the final stages of her attempt to fly around the globe. 

A woman pilot dressed in the style of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart: an inspiration to modern women
© Yuri Yukhimchuk | 
A celebrity in depression-era America, Earhart earned her stripes after she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. Five years later, on the cusp of turning 40, she sought one more challenge: to become the first woman to fly around the world. "I have this feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system," she declared rather ominously.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Passing through Barcelona

The Skybar at the Grand Hotel Central, Barcelona
A visitor to the Skybar, Grand Hotel Central
So I have a friend who is currently sailing around the world in a yacht with her husband and young family. I am following their progress avidly on Facebook - they are mid-Atlantic as I write. A small part of me would love to be on that boat, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, instead of dancing circles in Henley-on-Thames. But it will never be. I don't have the nerve or the skills required.

Travelling has its own mystique for me. As the child of ex-pats, I have never felt entirely comfortable living in England. I much prefer the thrill of foreign cultures, even if it's only a week in France! Somehow, I feel more alive when I'm in someone else's country.