Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stop The Press!

This is an announcement

There is an official:

Mammia Mia Movie Channel

Care of You Tube.

Just follow the link!

Rituals, Routines & Resolutions

I do not usually make New Years Resolutions. I think they are sometimes made out of guilt and also I believe that if you want to make a new life rule for yourself then there's no time like the present and it need not always wait until this time of year. This year however, I feel some change is required.

I have spent a lot of time over the past year or so trying to fine tune my life so that I can be a good and considerate person to friends, family and loved ones, while satisfying my own personal and professional needs. Good luck I hear you say!!!

Anyway, my working life has been a little out of hand this year for one reason or another. I have found that making task lists has greatly improved my efficiency and is teaching me to be a little more realistic about what I can achieve in the hours available.

I have been considering a similar approach to my home life in addition to the usual diary's and reminders that people have. Up until now I have resisted as I am a somewhat spontaneous person...well I used to be, and didn't want to structure myself completely.

I would also like to create a little me moment in every day where I strive for peace of mind and contentment. A moment when I make my head stop organising my home life and work life, and just breath in and out.

So I have decided to schedule some of my weekly time and create some routines and rituals for myself, outside of the usual daily chores and activities, and make a resolution or two.

Firstly Rituals:

There are lots of parts of the day that are just for me. All of my dog walks are blissful moments of joy, running with dogs and being outside. I do not like being inside. I like some of the comforts that are there but could loose all of them for an outdoor existence, and being in the company of dogs is always fun and rewarding.

Anytime I spend alone in my car is treasured. I have Radio 2 to keep me company and if all else fails, lots of Porcupine Tree to fall back on, and its me on the road. I love the feeling of going somewhere.

I can also of course spend time in another room of our house doing one of many activities if I want to, but the target I have set myself involves this, see picture below.

I bought myself this teapot earlier in the year. I love looking at it. The other side of the world is on the other side of the pot.

For my new ritual I am going to make myself a cup of tea in this teapot every morning and stand in the kitchen, drinking it and looking at the world on my pot. It will have to be a post dog walk activity as there's no peace until they have had a run! I will also have to get up 15 minutes earlier but I am an early riser now and it will be lovely to take the time.

So, that's new my ritual.

Now for routine. For a long time I have felt like a bit of a 'Jack of all Trades' and 'Master of None'. There are so many things that I like to do and am ok at but I am a little lazy and also a little greedy. I wanted to do them all and did not give the time to any one area to develop it properly.

One hobby has come to the forefront as the one I can't put down. I am not saying by any means that I am a master of it but it's the hot favourite in the battle for a slice of my free time.

I have developed a love of photography in conjunction my my love of art over the past couple of years. I like image distortion and also plan to incorporate some painting...its a work in progress!

So a personal routine for weekly evenings of photography theory and practical is starting next week. I have a brilliant new macro photography book and a subscription to a photography magazine that were both Christmas gifts.

I will probably do some reading this week but I am going to allocate evenings.

My fella plays guitar with a friend every Monday. Because they have a regular slot they do it and love it. If you leave it to the week at hand there are always so many other things that can get in the way! Making a date is key.

I also have a professional goal to achieve. Like it or not I am going to have to do the Professional Diploma! It's great to study but just so much harder when you are not a full time student!!

And my boss has indicated that he would like me to put myself forward for chartership with the ICF. That would be an interview assessment in August 2009, and of course some preliminary's before hand.

I have yet to commit to an exam year for the Prof. Dip.........however serious study will require at least three evenings a week.

So that just leaves resolutions. Well I have a couple but they are not to be discussed here! It feels good to have them though. They are more like statements that I want to live by. There are so many proverbs that can reach and motivate us. You just have to come across them at the right time, when you are receptive to the idea.

I am looking forward to the year ahead and yearning for Spring. The days are getting longer and the birds are at their business. I expect it will be a strange and hard year for many but I am starting it with my head held high, a big grin and a prayer for all for a good year. Happy 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Pipes of Peace



The Christmas truce of 1914 really happened. It is as much a part of the historical texture of World War I as the gas clouds of Ypres or the Battle of the Somme or the Armistice of 1918. Yet it has often been dismissed as though it were merely a myth. Or, assuming anything of the kind occurred, it has been seen as a minor incident, blown up out of all proportion, natural fodder for sentimentalists and pacifists of later generations.

But the truce did take place, and on some far greater scale than has been generally realised. Enemy really did meet enemy between the trenches. There was for a time, genuine peace in No Man's Land. Though Germans and British were the main participants, French and Belgians took part as well. Most of those involved agreed it was a remarkable way to spend Christmas. "Just you think," wrote one British soldier, "that while you were eating your turkey, etc, I was out talking and shaking hands with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before! It was astounding!"

"It was a day of peace in war," commented a German participant, "It is only a pity that it was not decisive peace."

So the Christmas Truce is no legend. It is not surprising, however, given the standard popular perception of World War I, that this supreme instance of "All Quiet on the Western Front" has come to have something of a legendary quality. People who would normally dismiss that far off conflict of their grandfathers in the century's teens as merely incomprehensible, find reassurance, even a kind of hope, in the Christmas truce.

This was not, however, a unique occurrence in the history of war. Though it surprised people at the time - and continues to do so today - it was a resurgence of a long established tradition.

Informal truces and small armistices have often taken place during prolonged periods of fighting and the military history of the last two centuries, in particular, abounds with incidents of friendship between enemies.

In the Peninsula War British and French Troops at times visited each others lines, drew water at the same wells and even sat around the same campfire sharing their rations and playing cards.

In the Crimean War British, French and Russians at quiet times also gathered around the same fire, smoking and drinking. In the American Civil War Yankees and Rebels traded tobacco, coffee and newspapers, fished peacefully on opposite sides of the same stream and even collected wild blackberries together. Similar stories are told of the Boer War, in which on one occasion, during a conference of commanders, the rank and file of both sides engaged in a friendly game of football.

Later wars too have their small crop of such stories. It is rare for a conflict at close quarters to continue very long without some generous gestures between enemies or an upsurge in the 'live and let live' spirit. So the Christmas truce of 1914 does not stand alone; on the other hand it is undoubtedly the greatest example of its kind.

There are certain misapprehensions regarding the Christmas truce. One widely held assumption is that only ordinary soldiers took part in it; that it was, as it were, essentially a protest of cannon-fodder, Private Tommy and Musketier Fritz throwing aside the assumptions of conventional nationalism and thumbing their noses at those in authority over them.

In fact, in many cases, NCOs and officers joined in with equal readiness, while others truces were initiated and the terms of armistice agreed at 'parleys' of officers between the trenches.

There is also some evidence that while some generals angrily opposed the truce, others tolerated it and indeed saw some advantage in allowing events to take their own course while never for a moment doubting that eventually the war would resume in full earnest.

One other misapprehension about the truce calls for rebuttal. There has grown up a belief, even among aficionados of World War I, that the Christmas truce was considered to be so disgraceful and event, one so against the prevailing mood of the time, that all knowledge of it was withheld from the public at home until the war was over.

In fact, the truce was fully publicised from the moment news of it reached home. Throughout January 1915 numerous local and national newspapers in Britain printed letter after letter from soldiers who took part; in addition they ran eye-catching headlines ("Extraordinary Unofficial Armistice", "British, Indians and Germans shake hands"), and even printed photographs of the Britons and Germans in No Man's Land. Germany also gave the event press publicity, though on a smaller scale and for a shorter period of time.

Publishing a year later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his history of 1914 called the Christmas truce "an amazing spectacle" and in a memorable description, saluted it as "one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war".
The phrase sums up the attraction of the truce: it is the human dimension which means that this relatively obscure event in the fifth month of a 52-month war is still remembered and will continue to catch the imagination.

In a century in which our conception of war has changed fundamentally, from the cavalry charge and the flash of sabres to the Exocet, the cruise missile and the Trident submarine, the fact that in 1914 some thousands of the fighting men of the belligerent nations met and shook hands between their trenches strikes a powerful and appealing note. It is perhaps the best and most heartening Christmas story of modern times.

Adapted from the book Christmas Truce by Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seato

Text Credit: BBC News

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Neil Young - Old Man

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....

Well it really is starting to feel like Christmas now and parts of the UK have snow. We do not but I am praying!! We got our Christmas decorations in from the garage today, they are not up yet. We had a massive house clean this morning, the full monty, wiping down all paint works and skirting boards and after that did not quite have the energy for the decorations.

We also remembered we threw out our old tree last year as it has seen better days and had begun to fall apart. We usually go for an artificial tree as the dropping needles from a real one get in the dogs paws. So a replacement tree is needed before we proceed. The house looks lovely though!

Is is amazing how much muck comes off dogs when they shake, no matter how clean you think you got them!!

We did however have a quick play of our Christmas Playlist! We have all of our music on the PC and make our own playlists to listen to. A few years ago we downloaded all of our favourite Christmas tracks and made our own playlist for the festive period. It's got everything on it from I Saw Three Ships to The Fairy Tale of New York and there are some fabulous songs from the likes of Bing Crosby and Dean Martin.

As soon as I start to feel the festive mood I always get Let it Snow by Dean Martin in my head!

This evening though I have turned to a recent musical obsession of mine, no not Porcupine Tree - they are a life long musical obsession, this one is Neil Young. I have been a growing Neil Young fan for years however it has taken me sometime to get used to his unique style and voice. I finally realised the other day that I love his music, all of it! Since then I am listening to him only....well interspersed with a little Porcupine Tree of course!

(Got tickets for Porcupine Trees next UK gig in October 2009!!!! Wo-hoo!)

I thought I would share some Neil on my blog, it's hard to pick just one song but this one comes into my head with more regularity than the rest at present. Enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2008

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