Victorian beach holiday

Ladies shade themselves with parasols,

Lace and silk to filter sun

In starlight bursts upon their china skin,

The children queue for the thrilling drop

Of the helter skelter ride,

And fluffy clouds of candy floss,

Cling to sticky fingers that

Pull at whisps and coat their mouths

With sugar flares, before they swim,

The sparkles on the rhythmic waves

Lapping at their tiny toes.

These are days that live forever

In the silver sheen of film,

That captured such a perfect time.

writing in a roadside inn

Sitting on the well worn bed,

She pens the song that one day wins

The Grammy and the praise that came

Upon her diamond sparkle dreams,

But now the trucks will thunder by,

The light from Starbucks blinds,

Denying her the sleep she wants

And so she scratches at the paper,

Fetid air pushed around the room

By the single fan, in a shady corner.

This is not her gold dust dream,

But on the wind that whisper’s there

Is word of penthouse rooms one day.

just let me do my job, please

burning newspaper
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I’m here to do one thing,

That’s what I’m paid for,

That’s what I’m trained for.

So why are we talking about things

Irrelevant and useless,

Draining the life from me?

We can all do better,

So stop with the sniping

And let me get the result that you want.

We have the Commonwealth Games going on in Birmingham at the moment and there has been a bit of a fight between the Australian press and the swimmers which I have found really interesting.

It is Kyle Chalmers, the Australian 100m freestyle champion, who put out a statement on Instagram asking the Australian media to just back off if they really want the team to perform to their best.

Now, I haven’t done too much research into what has happened but I think a lot of the attention that has been stirred up has come from the fact that Cody Simpson has joined their team. He is an ex-pop star who toured with Justin Beiber and dated Miley Cyrus and and one of the Hadid sisters.

I’m kind of torn about how I feel about the way press intrude on athletes, because Chalmers has a point – they are there to swim, and the press are riling them up and making that difficult.

On the other hand, these guys are professionals and I think that everybody in the world has a responsibility to manage how they react to others. These swimmers are trained to get on with the job no matter what is going on in the outside world, and I’m actually quite surprised that Chalmers has got so upset about it.

I’ve never had the press intruding on my personal life though, so I can’t really comment and say that I would handle it any differently. I do wholeheartedly believe that people should be respected though, and perhaps the press need to back off and just judge these guys on what they are paid to do.

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.

when is the correct time to quit?

strong athletes sprinting during triathlon race
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When should you quit?

Is it onmy before the halfway mark

Or just when it starts to hurt?

Do you carry on crawling on hands and knees?

Do you stop whenever you please?

I doubt there’s an answer that simple,

No equation; no one size fits all

That’s part of the final story

As you leave the race in a blaze of glory.

I have a friend who was doing a continuous deca Ironman last week. For those of you who are not familiar with the the world of ultra, that means that he was completing a triathlon that is ten times the distance of a standard ironman.

And if you don’t know ironman distances then I am here to tell you that he was attempting to swim 24 miles, followed by a 1,120 mile bike ride and all topped off with a 262 mile run.

I spent last week glued to Facebook as I watched his progress. He boshed out the swim in 13 hours and then took several days to complete the ride. By the time he started the run his body was already broken and it was painful to watch the video clips of him hobbling around the 1 mile course.

Ultimately, it got to the point where he was just moving too slowly and he had to withdraw after EIGHT DAYS of moving. He had about 120 miles to go, but he just wasn’t going to make it so he dropped.

I can’t imagine how disappointed he must be feeling right now, knowing that all that effort came to nothing (he still has serious respect from most people in the ultra community whatever the result).

It has made me think about my own experiences with giving up and that disappointment, and more importantly, when is the appropriate time to chuck in the towel? I used to say that once you went past half way you couldn’t quit, but sometimes you just want to see how far you can push it.

I’ve had several friends die because they’ve pushed it too far, and it’s horrible to log onto Facebook and see that somebody got into difficulty in the Channel and couldn’t be saved.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so important, but I’ve learnt over the years that listening to your body is important. You learn a lot from quitting so it’s never actually a wasted experience.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is embrace those failures because they’ll normally make the best stories years down the line. But make sure you learn your lesson and come back stronger next time.

Much Love

Rachel xx

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

death on the hospital ward

two person doing surgery inside room
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The smell of disinfectant hangs, heavy

As doctors drift by, angels in white coats

Stethoscopes draped on shoulders like

The wires that leave their patients arms.

The quietness presses down on us,

A little family unit, waiting for

The inevitable, the gentle rhythmic beep

To fade to nothing as she slips away,

You’d hardly notice, it’s so understated,

I don’t know what I had expected,

To see her soul leaving through her mouth?

But no, she’s gone in much the same way as she came.

I was reading about somebody who lost their dad when they were young and they could vividly remember going to the hospital before he died and seeing him lying in the bed with a tube coming out of his mouth.

It immediately made me remember being about five or six years old and visiting my great aunt in hospital a few days before she died. I still feel a little bit traumatised from that experience as she looked so unlike herself, the aunt who used to be so full of life and fun.

Hospitals are horrible places at the best of times, but that was the only time I had been in a place where people were really sick. I still don’t think I’m very good at acknowledging death and how it will even come to me one day, but I remember really getting it in that moment and it terrified me.

I’m sure that if I were to go and visit somebody who was about to die now, I would have a much easier time, but since reading my book this morning, I’ve been replaying that visit all afternoon.

Death comes to us all, but it will never fail to be both frightening and, I suppose to a certain extent, quite beautiful and liberating.

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

for the love of our modern day tribes

underwater photography of swimmer
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We smile as we pass in the street,

An inner recognition when we see

Someone else who belongs with us

That branded mark upon their skin

Or the feathers they wear in tousled hair

They tell us that they’re one of us

A kindred spirit ready to connect.

When I was out running this evening, I passed loads of people walking their dos and out running themselves. I would smile at most of them, even though a lot of them would rather look away and ignore me.

And for that reason, I sometimes get a bit grumpy and in my head I start having arguments with them. I get particularly angry when people are walking in a wonky line while their eyes are glued to their phone screen; or people who take up the whole path with their dog lead so that there is no getting past them without jumping into a hedge.

However, as I was running down the hill, I saw a man in the distance walking towards me. He had a black T-shirt on, and across his chest I could see the Speedo logo in white. I instantly felt the need to wave and smile without even a hint of irritation.

After I’d passed, I realised that my attitude towards this random man was completely different and the only reason seemed to be that he obviously did a sport that I do. He was a member of my tribe.

It just goes to show that although we don’t live in tight knit tribes like we would have thousands of years ago, we do still feel like we belong to certain groups and we like the people in those groups more than others.

I don’t see myself as a very social person, but it’s nice that I have these little invisible alliances that make me feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside even though I can’t explain why.

Much Love

Rachel xx

doing the best you can with what you’ve got

photo of people on rowboat during sunset
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It sounds like the kind of thing

You’d hear at one of those annoying conferences

You know the type, where the speaker comes on

Clapping above his head, probably skipping

To The Eye Of The Tiger, everyone cheering

And he shares such platitudes as:

Love the life you have, but also

Strive for much better, like a Mercedes

And a kitchen island that you can share

On Instagram, a picture with your family

All wearing matching pyjamas, but anyway

Do just try to do your best with what you’ve got.

I am going to miss my drive to work in the mornings, because it was my time to just let my mind wander. All my best ideas seem to have come when I’m driving to or from work, and I’m going to lose that time in my next role (not that I’m complaining given that I’ll save a small fortune in petrol money).

Today, I was daydreaming (while concentrating on the road, of course) and I remembered being in Majorca with my family before it all went a bit wrong. We were sitting at a cafe on the beach and this couple climbed into an old rowing boat, but they had no oars.

We sat and watched with interest as the woman fixed at piece of wood to the back that acted as a rudder, then the man held up a broom handle with a sheet attached to it.

“No way are they going to go anywhere like that,” said my mum as we watched with interest.

But to our surprise, the wind hit their makeshift sail and they set off slowly across the bay. Within five minutes, they were just a dot in the distance.

This isn’t very profound, but it was cool to watch, and it did remind me that you don’t need a million pound yacht to get across the ocean; you just need an old boat and some bedding. And in life, you don’t need the kitchen island. Not really. You can still cook in your six foot kitchen, and you can probably have fun at the same time.

Much Love

Rachel xx