running buddies

unrecognizable woman jogging along footpath in park
Photo by Enric Cruz López on Pexels.com

We ran together when we had nothing to say,

The thump-thump of our feet on silky tarmac,

Rain pouring in uncomfortable sheets,

Running in rivulets down our ruddy cheeks,

We are joined together in physical pain

And no words can sever the emotional stress

That comes to fruition by Friday night.

We look forward to Saturday, the early morning

Whether rain or shine, we will pull on our trainers

And hit the roads, onto the trails and under the oaks

That drizzle like sad old men that bend over our path.

We draw strength from those trees

And the roots at our feet, the heart feeling lighter

And a smile on our faces as we come through the door,

Stripping our clothes and falling on sofas

Ready for a week that will drain the batteries

And excited for Saturday when freedom arrives.

panic buying

We snake through aisles in a furious surge,

Desperation claws at brains, like rats in tests,

Running round their man made maze for food

Or cheese, or coke or toilet paper, no?

Our trolleys rattle violently, as we race toward

The lonely loaf of bread, the sole coleslaw

Wilting in an empty fridge, but why?

Why are we so worried that we won’t have enough,

No potato salad or pastrami packs because

We live a life of luxury, of excess and

We deserve the last of everything just to feel secure.

But thirty rolls of toilet paper won’t quite ease that itch,

You need to learn to pace yourself, to see

That you have everything you need.

There is a bit of panic buying going on in the UK and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not at the level that it was at the beginning of the pandemic, but it is definitely happening. But why?!

I couldn’t understand why everyone needed to do the whole panic buying thing and to double up on everything they bought. Most people have enough tinned food in their cupboards to get by for about two weeks anyway. Why not get a bit creative and use some of the stuff you already have in the house?

I think our panic buying is actually hard wired into us, especially now that we live these lives where we only want the very best for ourselves. Just slumming it for a week is just not good enough. What on earth would we put on Instagram if we don’t get our poached eggs and avocado?

I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoy eating baked beans straight from the tin, followed by a tin of sliced peaches and a choc ice for dessert. But, then again, I’m a bit of a slob.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the literary festival

They pour through little more than a garden gate,

A magic portal into a world of wizardry,

The hope of leaving far behind, the drudgery

Of life in offices painted in a clinical white,

Computer buzzing faintly, like a constant headache

That floats away within that field of tents,

Filled with people who can conjure lives and lands

That help us drift away at any time, but here,

Here is where we really lose ourselves, among the books,

The writers’ talks and poetry slams and signings by

Those mythical figures, while we stand gibbering,

Fangirling like they belong to a boyband we once loved,

Whose faces adorned our teenage walls, but now,

It’s the literary festival that sets our heart alight.

The Harrogate book festival started today and as far as I am aware, it is the first literary festival in the UK in quite some time. I am seeing lots of posts on Twitter from people who are there and I am just a little bit jealous.

I have never been to a literary festival and it is an experience that I am eager to have. We have some fabulous festivals in this country and it’s only since COVID has wiped them all out for a year that I’ve realised how important it is to get out and have these adventures.

Besides, now that I’m an English teacher, I can always go along for free and dress it up as a great school trip that will enhance the knowledge of my students!

Much Love

Rachel xx

yesterday

Imagine a world with no Beatles to love,

The joy that they bring, as we sing

Obla-di obla-da life goes on,

What would we do without their songs,

With all of those memories stitched to those tunes,

Our lives would be poorer, that is for sure.

I watched the movie ‘Yesterday’ today and I can’t stop thinking about it. If you don’t know the film, it’s about a failing singer song writer who becomes the only person to remember who the Beatles are after a worldwide power cut.

It sounds a bit silly, but it really touched me and I think it’s because I have so many fond memories of The Beatles being played.

My family all hail from Liverpool so my dad, in particular, is a huge Beatles fan. I think I’ve only seen my dad cry once, but I know that he did cry on the day John Lennon died. I was brought up on the Beatles and I know all of the lyrics and I have since I was about six years old.

When I was about eight we used to go to a caravan club and whenever my parents were hosting the weekend we always put on a scouse night. We would make a big vat of scouse and play Beatles records well into the night.

And then when my cousin got married she had a brass band play All You Need Is Love as they walked back down the aisle as a married couple (a lot like Keira Knightley’s wedding in Love, Actually).

These are so of my favourite memories in life, and they are all linked to these records. They form a kind of patchwork of my life, a whole story in songs. If you haven’t already seen Yesterday, make sure you do.

Much Love

Rachel xx

The summer barbecue

It was just a foil packed grill, a couple of pounds

From some nameless store that sells plastic windmills

And rakes for the garden, a jumble of things.

But the barbecue whispered – take me home,

And so we sat in our garden, grilling on

A breezeblock, nothing sexy or insta-worthy here,

But a mother and son who have struggled all year,

A a break in the rain clouds for a moment of fun,

Burning our burgers and heaping on coleslaw,

Eating until we can hardly move from our picnic chairs.

We play indie music as the sun starts to set,

Imagining a festival or sunkissed beach,

But the tinny, low beats that emit from the phone

Remind me that now is as good as it gets,

Because now I am happy, contented for just a window in time.

earning those friendships back

pink carton gift box on table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Those friends are very much like Christmas presents

Wrapped with fancy paper, and bows and little tags.

You take them all for granted on that special morning,

Tearing through the paper, in long and elegant strips,

Pushing each aside with just a cursory glance,

But each was bought with love and thought and you

Just cast them to one side, pushed to the back

Of dusty wardrobes or up in darkened attics.

You’ll need that gift one day though, and then

You will wish that you had cared a little more,

Let’s just hope that it’s not too late

To blow the dust away and love that gift again.

I had a friendship while I was drinking that was really important to me. And it was a healthy friendship because I would go to his house every Saturday night and he would make me food and I would have a night away from the booze.

But, because alcohol clouds your judgement and makes you do ridiculous things, I managed to trash the friendship. It was one of the very last straws and it forced me to get sober, but unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to go back.

Anyway, almost five years later I decided to message this guy and ask if he fancied going for a run (preceded by a heartfelt apology of course). He wrote back and said yes.

It feels like I’ve healed one of the final things that I had a regret and a resentment over. I realised how special the relationship was as soon as I had trashed it and I am sad that it has taken me all of this time to swallow my pride and fix something I undervalued and threw away.

Make sure that you value the gift of friendship. Those people are precious.

Much Love

Rachel xx

to have the chills

That tightly pulled silence that stretches over crowds

And then a simple beep to set the wheels in motion,

The world just holding one collective breath

As swimmers pull and runners push for just a moment,

Four years of sacrifice all rolled into minutes.

We just see that moment in time when everything

Comes together and a gleaming medal is hung

Around their necks, photos taken and anthems sung,

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

I’m absolutely buzzing for the start of the Olympics; to have the chills that only come with sport. I think it’s because I was an athlete as a kid, so I know the sacrifices that are made. I never made it to the Olympics but I can certainly understand what they have put themselves through.

I was lucky enough to go to the London Olympics and see the first day of swimming. It was only the heats but the atmosphere felt electric. I remember the British swimmer, Hannah Miley, won her heat in the 400m IM and I burst into tears. All the hairs on my arms stood on end and it just felt like one of the most amazing moments in my life.

These Olympics will obviously be very different, with no crowds, but I’m sure the athletes will realise that we are all in our living rooms, cheering them on. It will still be possible to have the chills, we just need to become 100% invested in their race and their story, because they have all fought through difficulties to get there.

The video above is enough to have the chills no matter who you are. There will be magical moments and heartbreaking moments and we need to enjoy them and live them with the athletes.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

have you ever seen the rain?

Have you ever seen the rain,

When the days are hot and the skies are blue

And we want to dance when the sky splits open?

I just watched this updated video for Have You Ever Seen The Rain? and it reminded me so much of being young. I’m only thirty-six, but sometimes I think back to what feels like another lifetime and makes me go all nostalgic for the past. Records like Have You Seen The Rain take me back to those other lifetimes.

I only went onto Youtube this afternoon to listen to this song because I heard my neighbour playing it in his garden yesterday and I felt those beautiful feelings bubbling up inside of me.

It is only when I reached the end of the video and the three friends are standing on the edge of a field watching the sun come up that one such memory really crystallized in my mind.

I remember being eighteen and living on my own in London. I’d made friends with some people who were real party animals and we went out one night to a club and danced for about eight hours straight.

When we came out of the club the sun was coming up and I remember standing on the edge of the pavement with those people, all of us with our faces raised to the sun. The warmth and the light just felt delicious and I felt entirely in the moment.

And that’s why music is so important to us all. Those moments we remember and the pictures they conjure are perfection. They help us to live in the moment and ask ourselves have you ever seen the rain, and have you ever danced in it like nobody is watching with someone you love?

Much Love

Rachel xx

stop nasty facebook comments – please

grayscale photography of man reading newspaper
Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

They come in droves, those people who feel

The need to spout words or barbs of hate

At people that they don’t know.

I bet the editors love these folks

Who jump on the bandwagon and swim with the rest,

Angrily jabbing at keys on a laptop,

Refusing to turn and take on the current,

But keen to tell the world what they think they think,

But that don’t know, because God-like men

Make these columns like drugs and the comments,

Are the sweetest of nectars to the mindless souls

Perpetuating hate on a global scale.

I keep getting articles about Harry and Meghan on my Facebook feed and I just can’t help but read the comments – even though I know they will make me so angry. The outlets that share the stories are red top tabloids and they are fishing for a reaction, and they get it. We just need to stop nasty Facebook comments altogether.

It’s not just Harry and Meghan that get all of the hate, but a huge proportion of it is directed at them. It just feel as though the whole world is now wired to tear people down.

I don’t know how these things work but I assume that the newspaper has employees or paid content creators to comment first so that the tone is set. Once that is done it’s like mass brainwashing, everyone just jumps on and has a go at the poor souls at the centre of it.

I’m being very conscious recently, of not reading the comments and agreeing immediately. If we are going to stop nasty Facebook comments we need to learn to take stock, perhaps do a bit of our own research before we form an opinion and then air it publicly. This is how we have all become so divided and it’s depressing to watch us tear each other to shreds in an open arena.

Be kind to one another,

Rachel xx

words for young minds

The words we write for the purest ones,

The ones who still are yet to see the world

That you and I have seen, have felt stab wounds

That scared us, hurt us, broke our hearts,

We need to write those words so delicate

To ease them into real pain,

To soften the inevitable blow

When life comes lurching in their way.

I’ve started writing bits and pieces for young adult readers because I have spent so much time around this age group. And I see that most of them are on the cusp of understanding the world a little more. Some of them have already started to see it through adult eyes.

I think that literature is a way to soften the blow. If they can read about these things through the eyes of characters that they fall in love with, then they can have a little taste of it without getting the full whack.

I’ve had three kids in my tutors groups this year who have lost parents in the last 12 months and that must be horrific for a twelve year old to go through. I have seen the deep pain that causes and it actually scares me as an adult. I’m not suggesting that a book could take away that pain, but perhaps they can help kids through those difficult moments.

Much Love

Rachel xx