they watch over us

angelic statue and sunset scenery
Photo by Ellie Burgin on Pexels.com

They watch over us when we grapple

With the hardest questions posed in life,

The toughest moments, bringing to our knees,

We looks up towards the leaden sky and ask

Are you there? Do you know how this will end?

Of course they don’t, but they are there,

Placing hands that love and heal on our heavy shoulders

As we stride into those battles that seemed insurmountable.

They cry a tear or two with us, wishing they could touch

In much the same way that they could when living.

But never let it be forgot, that they are there,

Watching over when it hurts and when there’s joy,

They’re always there and if you wish it hard enough

You’ll still feel those arms, giving you a loving squeeze.

Sorry, another Olympic themed post. I am a sports fan so you might get bored over these next few weeks if you don’t care for swimming or athletics or any other new sport that I have taken a fancy to!

My most recent tears came in the diving when Tom Daley won gold in the synchronised event. In the UK, we have been watching him since he was 14 and just hoping that he will one day win.

This was made all the more important when his biggest fan, his dad, got a brain tumour and passed away. Since then, it feels as though it became more important to Tom, to make his dad proud.

He got that illusive gold this morning and it just made me think that his dad must have been smiling down. I really do think that the people we love, who have passed on, do watch over us and share in our successes. We may not be able to feel them and have a hug from them but they are definitely have them close all of the time.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on failure

gold and blue trophy on red surface
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

I’m not sure if it’s pain, or hot and sticky shame

That makes failure so bitter to the tongue,

So uncomfortable, it stings the eyes when cameras

Are watching with their thick rimmed lenses,

Judging and assessing you, and knowing

It’s not good enough, you fell so bloody short.

No-one hates you but that’s not the way it feels,

As you slink out of the light, into the shadows

Where we lick our ugly gaping wounds.

I’m a self-confessed Olympics fan and although swimming is my favourite, I find myself getting drawn into everything else that is going on. And today’s action reminded me of the pain that comes with failure when you wanted something so bad.

Jade Jones is a double Olympic Taekwondo champion and an all round legend. Today she was going for her third title, but she crashed out in her first fight. It was a bit of a shock to watch but what was most important was to watch the interview with her afterwards.

She was just so emotional and it was heartbreaking to see how five years of work, gone in a few minutes, affects a person.

Now, Jade is an Olympian so just getting there makes her anything but a failure, but she didn’t achieve what she wanted and it was crushing. And what makes it worse is that it has to be watched on such a global stage. When you just want to curl up and cry, it takes an immense amount of strength and dignity to go out there and give an interview about what ‘went wrong’.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with failure and I’ve had plenty of them throughout my life. It’s amazing how lonely you feel in these moments, like nobody else has ever suffered that devastation before.

I remember being about fourteen and missing a medal in the county championships by less that a second. I went straight to the changing rooms and I buried my face in my towel so that nobody could hear my sobs. It was very lonely in that changing cubicle and I wish that I’d had somebody to give me a hug and tell me that it happens to EVERYONE.

Today, I wanted to give Jade a hug. I’m sure she’ll recover but I’m sure she is hurting tonight.

Much Love

Rachel xx

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