Friday, 29 March 2013

My Great Grandchildren

I grabbed this recent pic from Facebook. Aren't they just gorgeous? Or am I just biased?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Another Passion - Hillcroft College

I went to London on Friday, for the AGM of Hillcroft College. This is the place that got my life back on track after my first husband left me to be a single parent of two wonderful children. I was really privileged to have a two year course there, a five minute walk from our home in Surbiton, all paid for  by the government. And it paved the way for my degree course, also free to me, and a varied career thereafter. These days there is no free higher education and students are saddled with high debt before they even get their first job.

Hillcroft is a residential college in the further education sector which has a special dispensation from the Equal Opportunities Act so that it can offer places only to women. It  is very special to me, and over the years I have tried to give something back so that other women can have their second chances. I ran a Friends organisation for a while and later served as a governor, taking the Chair for a couple of years. Now I am  Member of College and keep up with what is going on, making occasional visits. It's always good to catch up with old friends there and meet new people who are always very passionate about the opportunities to open doors for women who would otherwise be stuck and unhappy.

This is the latest information I've received:

Start up and Stilettos from InspirEngage International in partnership with Hillcroft launches its first Bootcamp for women entrepreneurs on Friday 12th April at 11am in the presence of The Worshipful the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Mary Heathcote OBE with special guest speakers from industry who will share their experience and expert knowledge of the business world. There will be an opportunity to discuss various topics with the panel during the launch.
Following the launch, the first Boot camp takes off at 2pm and runs throughout the weekend with an inspiring programme presented and delivered by Melody Hossaini.

What: A high-energy and interactive skills workshop delivered by Melody Hossaini, covering essential core modules that provides the unique opportunity for participants to develop their skills.
Who: Open to any ladies over 19 years of age.
Where: Hillcroft College, South Bank, Subiton, KT6 6DF. Hillcroft is a residential college and accommodation will be available for participants.
Why: Have you always wanted to learn more about social enterprise? Have a great idea and not sure how to get started? Want a unique chance to improve your skills by a world-renowned trainer? Sign up now! All participants will be awarded a Startup and Stilettos certification upon completion.

Join Melody Hossaini former Sir Alan Sugar Apprentice at Hillcroft 

How: There are limited spaces available. Book your place now.
tel: 020 8399 2688

Friday 12th April 2013
 at 11am. 
Hillcroft College, Southbank, Surbiton, KT6 6DF

Monday, 18 March 2013

Grooming and Weight Problems

I went to see my beautician today, to have the hair removed from my chin and face and get my eyebrows waxed. Every time I go I marvel at my ability to withstand torture for the sake of how I look. What fools we women are. Nevertheless I already feel better only five hours later.

I paid her £17.00 for 20 minutes work, which is far more than I could hope to earn in the time. Why are writers paid so badly? (Rhetorical question.) Of course, at my age I shouldn’t be working at all really, but I certainly couldn’t afford things like that if I didn’t.

I also booked in Jade for a grooming session and that will cost £30 but I don’t begrudge that. She will come home looking sleek and clean with all that winter fur gone, and she won’t pick up as much grime with less hair for it to cling to.

Jade of course is another reason for me to carry on bringing home the bacon. Last week she went to the vet for her annual boosters and check up. I won’t tell you how much that cost. I’m just relieved that she got a clean bill of health, even though I now have to put her on a diet and cut down the number of treats she gets. She’s a big cavvie and a little too heavy, was the verdict. Just like her mum.

We went to Sandbanks beach on Saturday and she went wild with delight and ran round and round for about 20 minutes, so that should help. Something strange has happened to the beach. It was difficult to get on and off the promenade because the sand has been blown up into dunes, with a huge drop like a moat against the sea walls. It’s usually just a flat expanse as it is in this photo, so it really did seem strange.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Places Where I Have Lived

I’m a Devonshire lass really as I was born by the sea in Torquay; my mother came from Kingsteignton, near the market town of Newton Abbot , and my father from the lace-making town of Tiverton, deep in the heart of the county.  My parents lived in the house I was born in all their lives, and my sister still lives near it.

After leaving school I joined the air force and spent most of my four years’ service at a base on the edge of the Chiltern Hills near Aylesbury. Then I married an airman and our first home was near there in Tring, just across the road from the stables of Pat Smythe, who was a famous showjumping star.

When our son was three months old, we were posted to Singapore for two and a half years. We lived at Changi, not too far from this beach.

pic. by Calvin C Teo

The next move was to the Kingston upon Thames area, where our daughter was born. Kingston is a town on the River Thames, surrounded by Royal parks and within easy reach of Central London.  I stayed in the area even after a fairly amicable divorce, and my return to education to get my degree, and I was there for over twenty years.

pic by Matthew Black

In 1997 I moved half way back to my roots, to Gillingham, a country town  in North Dorset. After 12 years there, I was desperate to get back to the sea, and moved to my present house on a peninsular in Poole Harbour.

Monday, 11 March 2013

My Gorgeous Mothers' Day Flowers

This is how they arrived.

And this is how they looked in my kitchen.

I was pretty well spoilt yesterday. These came from my daughter, while my son treated me to a box of Dairy Milk and a bottle of wine. Of course they also sent cards, and I got one from my youngest granddaughter with a diploma for being the best grandma in the world, which is now gracing my office wall.

Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day Kiva Loan

Today is International Women's Day. I've marked it by making another Kiva loan to a women's group in the Yemen.

It only cost me a few dollars because my other loans are being repaid and I had some credit in my account. From one original $25 loan, topped up  by a few dollars a time like this, my loaned total now amounts to $350 with over $230 of this already paid back to me. Each time I also make a tiny donation to Kiva to help them keep up their good work. I don't have much disposable income, so I'm not rich enough to be able to do much to make a difference in the world, but I do like to think of my little bit of cash circulating to different people who need a bit of a leg up. How about you?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Work and Play

I'm failing to update my blog as often as I'd like. I know I'll never manage it daily as so many brilliant bloggers do, but I do like to post three times a week. It just hasn't been possible to fit it in as I've been so busy meeting writing deadlines, attending meetings for my voluntary work, gardening, shopping, cooking and housekeeping for three people and a dog, with the latter needing to go out three times a day.

We had a dog party in the park this morning. Some mornings Jade and I don't see a soul; other times we might meet a friend or two, but this morning there were four dogs running around and four owners to chat to. Jade and I enjoy that, but it does mean we're out a little longer than usual. This afternoon we went to Holes Bay in brilliant sunshine again, but the wind was biting and I think even Jade was glad to get back in the car afterwards.

Every time we come home now I can admire my minimalist front garden. We've certainly added some kerb appeal to the house. I spent Saturday morning out there again and cleared and planted another bit of the wall and prepared and planted the big stone pot in the centre - primroses everywhere.

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