memories that don’t even exist

a glass of water on wooden chair
Photo by cottonbro on

They’re fabricated like a work of art,

Full of colour and those tiny marks,

The details that will make it real

Even when it’s not.

We come along with painted brush

And fill in gaps the way we wish,

Disregarding paint by numbers,

Sploshing colour here and there.

And when the picture is complete

We stand way back admiring thoughts

That never were a part of life,

Never real, no matter how much we

Can feel we need them in our world.

I had a fascinating conversation with my son who is doing A-Level psychology today. He was talking about memory, and I guess my role as an educator means that I have a natural interest around the subject. I guess I’ve always known that memory is unreliable, but it’s only since becoming a teacher have I realised how bad it really is.

It’s amazing to hear about examples of eye witnesses totally making up what they saw – not because they want to deceive, but because their own brain has deceived them.

The effect of stress is the thing that really interests me. When I was drinking I worked in the hospitality industry and I had a very stressful time. The stress completely altered my perception of reality, so I’ve had first hand experience of how powerful and scary that kind of situation can be. I look back on that time and I still remember it being a bit like a fairytale with wicked witches and evil ogres. I guess my brain has done that to make sense of something terrible.

However, we deal with traumatic events, it is quite special what our brain does. I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences, funny or scary.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

PS I’m 5 years sober today and feeling pretty flipping grateful. I just needed to put it out into the universe that life is OK.

we’re told not to dwell on the past, but…

aerial view of people swimming on sea
Photo by sergio souza on

Those tiny fragments of the past,

Like jewels I scattered underfoot,

To be picked and viewed underneath

The jeweler’s microscope

In finest detail it is seen,

Enjoyed enough to bring us hope.

I constantly hear that we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future and I think that’s brilliant advice. I totally agree that mindfulness and living in the present is the answer to a lot of our problems in the modern world. However, I also think that remembering the good times and thinking about nice things that could be happening in the future can be really soothing when nerves are frayed.

I don’t know about you but I have lots of memories of times that weren’t even that great, but the moment itself, made me feel so alive, and those are the moments that I like to reflect on when I’m struggling in the present.

One memory that keeps bubbling up at the moment dates from 2012 when I was training for my first English Channel swim. Every weekend I would drive down to Dover and go and train with the other crazy swimmers for six hours a day. We would just swim up and down the length of the harbour, whatever the weather. It was monotonous and cold and miserable but I knew that I had to do it if I was going to swim to France.

However, there was this one day that I remember more vividly than all of the others, when we had been going for about three hours when the heavens opened. It poured down so heavily that I couldn’t see the beach or any of the other swimmers. I could probably only see a couple of feet ahead of me and it was just a little bit scary.

But I kept paddling with my head up, the rain pelting my face so hard that it actually hurt. I was glad that I had goggles on to protect my eyes. And just as I was starting to feel a bit anxious about the fact that the coastline had completely disappeared from view, one of the other swimmer let out an enormous shout.

It wasn’t a shout of fear or pain though. It was more of a war cry; a whoop. I instantly went from fearful to full of… life. In that moment I realised that I wasn’t alone, bobbing around in the ocean; I was surrounded with wonderful people who were all experiencing something quite breathtaking with me. Just because I couldn’t see anybody else, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t sharing the journey.

As the rain eased and I got my head back down for the remaining three hours, I reminded myself that I should not let go of moments like that. I should remember them and cherish them. Those moments when life is so raw and so human and I am so very much at the mercy of mother nature. They are the moments we should dwell on when we struggle.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i have no photos

three women wearing high heels
Photo by Inga Seliverstova on

I have no Polaroids tucked into boxes,

Pushed into wardrobes or under a bed.

I have no pictures to touch with fingers,

Pointing out memories of summers long gone.

It felt normal back then,

To not have a camera, locked in my hands,

But now I look back at the hazy images

Crowding the corners of an aging mind

And wonder what’s lost through ravages of time.

When I went travelling around South Africa at the beginning of the noughties, I went armed with a disposable camera that eventually got lost, left behind in some awful hostel in the arse end of nowhere.

I sometimes wonder what was on that film and what memories I have lost. There were probably things on there that I have completely forgotten about (and that I was probably a bit too drunk to remember anyway)!

However, those memories aren’t the only ones that have been lost. I’m notoriously bad for not having my phone on me, so I rarely have a camera either. It means that I often live in the moment, but it also means that I don’t capture that moment to look back on years later.

I sometimes feel really sad that I can’t find a single photo of the man I married in South Africa. There are no pictures of our wedding day or the flat that we shared in Durban. And that makes me really sad now.

I also don’t have any photos of when I was pregnant. None of those images of me lovingly holding my bump exist. I sometimes wish that I was famous and got papped so that I had some more photos of myself to look back on, worrying that I’ll become an old lady and have no photos of myself as a young person to look back on.

I’m going to make more of an effort to take photos and films because I love photographs so much. I’ll even make beautiful albums that can be passed down the generations. Or maybe I’ll just keep living my life…..

Much Love

Rachel xx

when fashions come around again

man people woman art
Photo by Sinitta Leunen on

The wardrobe full of musty fabric,

Thick velour and patent shoes

That once were in and out again,

But soon they’ll waltz back into life,

I hope, at least, as I twirl in dresses

Bought way back in teenage years.

I went shopping the other day and I couldn’t believe how 90’s the fashion is at the moment. I’m a 90’s kid through and through so my heart leapt for joy as I saw all of the denim pinafore dresses and corduroy bucket hats all lined up in pretty rows.

I just find it funny that so many people have this desire to go back to the age of about fourteen, when friendships were the strongest and it felt like we had the world at our feet. We seem to forget the pain of becoming a woman and the raging hormones that go with that.

I would love nothing more than to put my bucket hat back on and pretend that I’m Britney Spears circa 1998, but times move on and so must we. I think that for now I should steer away from those clothes but I might pull out some of the old CDs.

Why do we need to keep recycling old fashions, though? Is it because we just run out of inspiration? Or do we crave that feeling of nostalgia? I think that we really need to hang onto the feelings we had in the past. We need to feel the familiar when everything around us is changing so quickly.

However, I can’t help but feel really old knowing that all the stuff I used to wear is now coming back into fashion and some clothes I have tucked in the back of an old set of drawers could be considered ‘vintage’.

I hope that all of you 90’s kids are enjoying our moment in the sun. Just remember that the next thing to come along is the gypsy skirt, so enjoy this moment while it lasts!

Much Love

Rachel xx

remember those conversations

Remember those conversations

That lodge themselves inside your mind

With cold precision not expected at the time?

They’re with the lady on the train,

The one with pearls and purple coat

Who passed you peanuts in a packet,

Never asked for, but neither was advice.

And somehow ten years on you cannot shake

That thing she said, just slipped between

Some niceties that float away upon the breeze.

But ten years on it’s still right there,

Like a sentence whispered from the gods.

memories in print

I have so many memories I thought that I had lost

They’re in there somewhere

In sepia or muted colours,

Shapes all slightly altered

And groggy remains are all that’s left.

I wish I’d taken pictures in those moments,

Not even the big ones, but the stolen kisses

And faces I wish I’d memorised.

I’ll make a promise to myself

To take more photographs,

So nothing more slips by.

letting go of old stuff

Curled up memories

Like spiral pencil shavings

Crushed to dust in time.

The clothes all stay intact

But images that cling to them

Have shattered in the dark.

As I gather tenderly

I form distorted pictures

All with rosy tints.

And so I find it difficult

To cut through ties

And simply let it go.

I got some of my clothes back from my old house yesterday. I haven’t seen any of it for eight months and so I was really excited to get some of it back.

However, when I arrived at the house I saw that there were about twelve bags worth and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to fit it all in my new, very tiny flat. So today I had to go through it and pick out what I wanted to keep.

Now, I haven’t seen this stuff for eight months so it’s arguable that I’ve proven I don’t actually need it. But as I went through it I found it really hard to make the choices.

The memories attached to each item were really strong and even things that I knew I would never use again felt painful to throw away. I know that it is the memories that are hurting me and not the item of clothing and I do find it fascinating.

I have managed to get through half of it and I’m not looking forward to the rest of it. I can see why people become hoarders because that gave me real anxiety; I really felt like I was throwing away a part of my history, a part of the story of Rachel.

Much Love

Rachel xx


Little pistons fire at will,

Connections sparking

When we least expect.

And when they do

The memories come

Flooding through the gates

In tender bubbles

Each containing

Something special,

Something hidden

For so long.

I don’t know whether it’s the stress or the lack of routine but I’m getting a lot of really random memories bubbling up to the surface at the moment. I’ve heard people saying they are having strange dreams, but I seem to be getting random rememberings.

I have always been fascinated by how the brain works and as far as I understand, all of these memories are stored in our brains forever. It just takes something to make connections within the brain and our memory bank will summon that thing that we thought we had forgotten.

Does anyone else suddenly have a really strong memory from childhood that just pops up out of nowhere? It’s even more surprising when it’s something really mundane, and all of a sudden I’m left thinking that maybe that moment had more of an impact on me than I first thought.

I remember once, a boss of mine from South Africa asked if I had visited the 50m pool on the seafront in Durban (I’d also lived there eight years previously). I could not recall any pool being on the seafront at all. So this guy called up a photo on Google and something in my brain just clicked. All of a sudden a whole flood of memories came back and it turned out I’d spent a really happy summer afternoon there with friends. Why had it been blocked from my memory, to the point that I could remember no pool at all?

Anyway, it’s just something I’ve been noticing over the past few days and weeks. It could just be the madness of lockdown setting in. I’d love to know other people’s experiences of memories re-emerging. Anyone had hypnotherapy or anything of the kind to pull up memories?

Stay safe and stay at home,

Much Love

Rachel xx