hot days and graduation photographs

newly graduated people wearing black academy gowns throwing hats up in the air
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She sits quietly, underneath the baking sun

Her gown heavy on her shoulders, as she scans

The stands for a face she knows, anyone friendly

To gently cheer her on, to make the weight

Of cap and gown so worth this agony.

They’re calling names as sweat begins to trickle

Down the slender line of her aged and curving spine,

These clothes that have been worn by hundreds,

Smelling musty, their history palpable,

She just wishes that the heat would die,

Its sting taken out of this enfless day,

That the photographs would be taken

So that she can shed these layers like

A butterfly, spreading its wings and taking flight,

A new world there, in the sepia images,

A fleeting moment, before she begins the fight.

I try to stay off Facebook as much as I can because it just makes me angry, but when I have taken the time to sneak a peak recently, I have noticed that there have been loads of graduation photos (please note, these do not make me angry).

I do love a good graduation and I wish that we did it for more than just finishing university. I know that in other countries kids have a graduation ceremony at the end of almost every stage of their school career.

Here, we do have the big shirt signing event that is normally done out on the school field at the end of secondary school. We wear uniform in this country, so it’s fun to get our school shirts signed by all our friends and teachers on the last day. As a teacher, I’m looking forward to having a Year 11 class so that I can do the whole shirt signing thing as a grown up.

I do feel sorry for some of the people who have had their graduation ceremonies over the past few weeks as I can imagine that it was incredibly hot. Wearing those caps and gowns must have been unbearable.

I do hope that despite the weather, that they all had fun. For my first graduation the moment felt so overwhelming as I’d studied with a baby in tow, and it felt like such an achievement to get to the end. It was also held at The Barbican in London which has had so many amazing people and orchestras perform there.

Much Love

Rachel xx

cricket on the village green

people playing cricket on green grass field
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The thwack of willow on wood

Echoes dull, through the summer air

As children squeal and wives will clap

Over English tea and sandwich triangles,

Sat upon those tartan picnic rugs.

The women look so wealthy as they cheer

For men in whites, running stump to stump,

A gentlemen’s sport played in cableknit jumpers,

With grass stains on knees

That will be soaked away soon,

As cold beers are swallowed in cricket club houses.

I live on the edge of a lovely green park and during the summer it is used for all sorts of activities. There are tennis courts that are always busy and a Junior Parkrun takes place every Sunday morning.

But one of my favourite things about the park is the cricket that is played all Saturday afternoon. There is something so quintessentially English about that sound of the ball hitting the bat and the slightly restrained clapping of the spectators.

I used to go to the cricket with a friend of the family when I was about seven. I used to love the vibe of the club house, with the women in beautiful summer dresses serving tea and sandwiches as we played on the edge of the green.

These summer days are so special and I know that it will only be a matter of time before the hot weather is blown away and the greens turn to the golden browns and reds of autumn. Until then, I will enjoy those endless summer afternoons of tennis and cricket and running. Autumn will bring its own joys in the form of hot water bottles and crochet blankets to read under.

Much Love

Rachel xx

good morning TV

black audio amplifier
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Lights, camera, action!

It’s 10am and time for skin care

Followed by five ways to use avocados,

And we all can’t wait to see

The woman who claims to see the future

Through the medium of asparagus,

Or the TV doctor that will answer the phone in

And tell you what that rash is

In the embarrassing place – you know that one 😉

And then on comes someone from Love Island

To run through the best jumpsuits

To wear to all your summer barbecues.

Finally we end by crossing to the Loose Women

And learning what hard hitting stories

They’ll discuss in that ‘hard hitting’ way,

But my head is already a cloud of wet wool,

Soppy and gloopy with mid morning drool

That I’ll defintely watch tomorrow again.

book review: the reader on the 6.27

rail road under gray and orange cloudy sky during sunset
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I’m the kind of reader that needs a quirky main character to get on board with. I need someone who says inappropriate things and doesn’t understand why they have offended; I need a character who loves to just read the final chapter of a book; I need a hero who only eats yellow food.

The more unusual the quirks of a character, the more likely I am to fall in love with him or her. One of my all time favourites is Eleanor Oliphant and any book that likens itself to that masterpiece is going to draw me in.

The Reader on the 6.27 was compared to Amelie and that film warmed my heart until it was almost on fire. So I was very excited to dive in and see what Jean-Paul Didierlaurent could offer up.

The main character, Guylain, works in a recycling plant that basically just pulps books that have not sold so that there is space on the shelves for new books. But Guylain takes any pages that have escaped the pulping machine and reads the short extracts to the people on the train he takes to work each day.

There are a host of other characters that are so outlandish, I felt that they were almost Dickensian. I couldn’t help but smile at the little love story that ran throughout, with a toilet attendant, no less. And Guylain’s friend with no legs kind of reminded me of Leiutenant Dan in Forrest Gump.

I gave this book a big fat five stars because I just fell in love with every character we were introduced to. The book fell somewhere between a romance and a fable/ fairytale. It was beautifully written and left me contemplating what the message behind it was – and there were so many lessons to be learned.

At the centre of it all was love and friendship and what that means to us as humans. It shows that it’s messy and complicated but can also be boiled down to something really simple and delicious.

Much Love

Rachel xx

a day in sunny weymouth

We slowly walk towards the sea,

Complaining loudly about the pebbles underfoot,

Looking forward to reaching the waves

Where the beach turns to sand

And our feet squelch in the mud

And we count to ten, taking deep breaths

Before we launch through the surf,

The cold of the water crushing our chests,

Making us laugh with the rush of air

That escapes our lungs in time.

I went to the beach yesterday and it was beautiful. I haven’t been down to the coast in a while and I certainly haven’t got in for a swim in years.

It was quite exhilarating to get up to my waist and then just take that plunge so that your feet leave the ground. When I was training for the channel I used to do that every weekend and it became the most natural feeling in the world. But when you haven’t done it in ages, it really does take your breath away.

Once we were out, we lay on the beach, reading as we tried to warm up, and it reminded me of the days that I would get out early and sit chatting with volunteers on the beach when I was training.

We were lucky enough to be on the Jurassic Coast so we went for a walk along the cliff tops until we came to this beautiful little pub that was hidden between the hills, called The Smuggler’s Inn.

We have such a beautiful countryside and I remembered how beautiful it was yesterday. Picture postcard perfect.

Much Love

Rachel xx

cheap strawberry ice cream on a park bench

group of people enjoying music concert
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We used to buy those 1 litre tubs

Of cheap strawberry ice cream

And sit on that bench under the tree,

A plastic spoon each, taking turns

To scoop at the tub as it melts

Under hot Durban sun, sweltering

To everyone who went out last night,

But we laugh, despite our discomfort,

For this is love, in a tub of pink cream,

Laughing at kids falling off bikes

And dreaming of days when our turn will come;

Marriage and kids, and a lifetime together.

I got married when I was nineteen and I met the man who was my husband while I was backpacking around South Africa. The marriage didn’t last, but the memories did, and every time it is hot I am taken back to that time in my life.

I was eating ice cream straight from the tub after work today, in a desperate attempt to cool myself down, and it reminded me of Colin and the fun memories we had together when we were over there and living a very simple life.

I was reminded of the times that we used to go out all night and then after a really short sleep, we would head to the local Spar and buy a big tub of ice cream, that we would share in one sitting. We would sit under a tree and watch the world go by and it just felt so perfect.

I only wrote this because I love those memories that bubble up, uninvited, but still having the power to make you smile. It was nice to go back to that park for a few minutes and remember those sunkissed days.

Much Love

Rachel xx

how does anyone deal with that?

I went hunting on Twitter and was pretty shocked at what people can write on there. I’m a mad Love Island fan and I’m not going to pretend that I’m classier than I am (we all need a bit of down time).

But, this year we have another daughter of a famous person and so I went onto Twitter to see if Michael Owen had written any Tweets about his daughter.

And Oh My God.

The vile things that were being written on there. I don’t know if it’s because of the culture around football and the fact that people think it’s all just banter, but the things I read were disgusting.

I did wonder why he had been quite vocal about the fact that he was so against his daughter going on the show and I realise how naive I am. I guess that as a celebrity, he knows how awful people can be and was ready for the onslaught.

I wonder what it must be like to have that kind of stuff said about your family on a daily basis? I can’t even begin to imagine surviving it. I literally have a break down when I hear one person have a little bitch and a moan about me.

I just hope those people that say those things realise how crappy they must be making someone feel. We are all humans on this earth and some people really need to have that drummed into them on a daily basis.

Much Love

Rachel xx

books about books

black tablet computer behind books
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To be lost in worlds

Within another world,

And several hours to bathe

In something different

From this washed out world.

Bit of a book review today. I recently read a five star book and it just reminded me just how much I love books, which is always a nice thing to remember.

The book was Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink and it was a memoir about her life through the medium of books. The chapters alternated between one about her life and then a corresponding list of books that Cathy suggests we could read.

Memoirs are so hit and miss for me. Some I adore (Wild by Cheryl Strayed) and some I just can’t even get to the end of. I did read somewhere that a famous memoirist said that to be good at that genre you have to be prepared for the reader to hate you. You have to be willing to show your ugly side.

Now, Cathy didn’t make me hate her at any point, but she did talk about her lack of confidence and that must ring true with lots of introverted book worms the world over.

There was also a lot about grief as her brother tragically died when they were teenagers and I think that as human beings we all want to see how other people cope with that emotion. We all have to lose people and there is no easy way to get through that pain.

By the end of the book, I just wanted to read some more. And, as an English teacher it was nice to read about someone who was equally as passionate about getting people to read, especially those who have not yet been introduced to reading as something fun.

Much Love

Rachel xx

book review: the stranding by kate sawyer

I haven’t done a book review in a while, but I read a bit of a cracker last week and I thought I owed it to the world to let them know how fabulous it was.

The book in question was The Stranding by Kate Sawyer; a book about the end of the world as we know it. The story is about Ruth, who is a primary school teacher in London. She is really not happy with her life, with a boyfriend who treats her like crap and a colleague who appears to just be using her for sex.

Ruth decides the that only way to fix her problems is to run away, so she books a ticket to New Zealand with the plan of doing a bit of soul searching as she travels.

Bubbling underneath this story are the news stories that the end of the world is coming because the nuclear superpowers are about to press their big red buttons. But like a lot of us, Ruth wants to bury her head in the sand and avoid the stories.

There is a dual timeline, flitting between her life in London before she goes to New Zealand, and then alternating chapters follow her in New Zealand after the bomb has gone off.

I don’t know what made me love this book so much, but something just resonated with me. Perhaps it was Ruth’s need to run away and that reflects the way I often feel in times of panic and stress? Perhaps it was because of the stories of war and nuclear terror that are dominating our own news channels at the moment? Who knows – but something struck a chord.

The writing was beautiful and the story made me fall in love with the characters rather than being swept away with the action. It reminded me very much of the movie, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World which is one of my all time favourites. These stories aren’t about the bomb or the asteroid – they are about the friendships that are formed.

If you’re looking for a good read, then I definitely recommend and it got a big fat five stars from me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

love on tv

brown wooden love is lover decor
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He stands at the altar, waiting

For his bride, he knows his type,

Blonde with blue eyes, definitely no taller

Than 5 foot 5. She probably needs

To like running marathons and listening

To drum and bass music, but of course,

They’re all just little wishes,

Not deal breakers, he doesn’t think…

I adore love shows on TV. Love is Blind. Love Island. Married at First Sight. Give me any of them and I’ll lap it up. It’s probably because I feel I need to believe in it.

I think that if we have been hurt, we need to hold onto that dream that it can actually work. And shows like Love is Blind are offering us a glimpse into real life relationships and offering us the fairy tale.

They show us that love and a real partnership is always going to be hard, but it also shows us that these quick but intense encounters can forge bonds that are very real. And these are the things that we can actually feel through the screen.

Not everyone gets the chance to have deep and meaningful conversations and propose before we even meet, but we do all have the opportunities to build those relationships in the real world.

That gives me a little bit of hope when I sometimes find myself feeling really broken.

Much Love

Rachel xx