Olympic Torch Bearer Fiona May

 

Olympic Torch Gravesend

Friday 20th July 2012, yesterday, was the first day of summer holidays for us, no alarm, no waking tired girls up and coaxing them to eat, brush their teeth, dress and get to preschool, nope that’s all over after our fabulous leavers concert on Thursday.

So it should have been a lazy morning but it wasn’t as today the Olympic Torch was coming along Rochester Road at 9.50 and I wanted to make sure we were there.

I know the twins probably don’t get the significance of the moment. They won’t know that it’s most likely a Once In A Lifetime experience but I do and I wanted them to be there.

So after a very short lay-in, we were up, fed, washed and dressed and heading out of the door by 9 o’clock.

‘Are we going to pre-school mummy?’ piped up a little voice from the backseat.

‘No, today we’re going to see the Olympic Torch.’

Olympic Torch relay car

Paul had been quite anti this idea, ‘You won’t find parking,’ ‘It’ll be overcrowded’ ‘You won’t see anything’ ‘They don’t understand anyway’ but I didn’t sway. I’m going to give it a go, I thought to myself, if I can’t find parking or the girls are getting squashed and uncomfortable, if it rains/snows/whatever…I will simply turn around and come back home.

Olympic Torch Relay Coach

I’m so pleased we went as we found a fabulous position at the start of the Gravesend route. As the girls were small other viewers allowed us to pass in front and I crouched down so as not to curb anyone’s view. However, with 100’s of spectators inching their way forward to get a better photo I found I had to too!

Waving our Union Jacks - Olympic Torch relay

We had a cameraman right by us and he filmed the girls who looked quite bemused by it, ‘Smile.’ I coaxed, ‘Wave your flags’ and they did try that goofy expression they seem to think is ‘camera smiling’

Olympic torch fiona may

The woman to start the Gravesend Relay was a gorgeous athletic lady who I recognised but couldn’t place her, only doing a quick search on the London 2012 site I discovered it’s Fiona May! She lives in Italy too and ended up changing her nationality to Italian so she could get sponsors and compete at World level. She has two world medals and two silver Olympic medals to her name. Brava Fiona!

Olympic torch Convoy

I have seen many write their experiences, I agree with them, the torch passes by so quickly it’s over in a flash but the unity and joy of the crowds is something that stays with you, even when you’re walking back to your car. You feel as if you’ve been part of something, witnessed something special.

Spot the Olympic torch

There is so much controversy around the Olympics right now, the Labour party constantly slating the Conservative party. We apparently have no security in place and yet we have highly trained gunmen on top of blocks of flats and the residents fighting to remove them.

Can Britain pull it off? I’d like to think we can.

 

Yes it’s cost us a fortune we can barely afford but had we known the world financial industry was going to collapse and us with it, I doubt anyone would have bidded! We’re in it now and we have to do the best we possibly can.

I can’t wait to see Usain Bolt sprint on English turf, I can’t wait to mentally somersault across the floor with the best gymnasts in the world, swim with the synchronists and watch in awe those fellas on the rings as every muscle pops out in their necks with the strain of hanging arms stretched wide. Ouch

Bring on the Olympics and let’s throw the world a party to remember!

magnolia tree

I have loved the beauty of the Magnolia tree for years, I had a Magnolia tree in our last house and miss it dearly, this tree shouts out Spring to me and on a sunny day the beauty and delicacy of the large flowers is mind blowing.

These Magnolias stand by a beautiful old church and I was determined to get my shot but I left it a day or two late as you can see most of the petals have fallen to the floor BUT it was only by coming to this church, which I had only passed by in the car before, that I noticed the Garden of Remembrance and what an overwhelming sense of peace invaded my heart as I tried different angles to get the best shot. Beautiful.

garden of remembrance

Seeing a place like this connects me to the people I have lost and reminds me that even if I still miss them dearly – they are at peace. Easter is a time of remembering our own loved ones who have passed on, seeing a photo such as this helps me believe that they are at peace and one day, somewhere we will meet again.

I’d also like to share Paolo Coelho, one of my favourite authors and his vlog which I found fascinating with you. This man speaks in a language that I understand and I am always left with wanting to hear more…and he’s pretty good at vlogging too.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter and linking up with Tara’s The Gallery week 97 over at Sticky Fingers whose prompt was Peace.

Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend

I was born into the Catholic religion and my Nana was so staunch a Catholic that she practically lived in St Patrick’s church at the end of her south London street. On seeing us every other weekend her first question would be, ‘Have you been to mass?’ We replied yes because this made her happy and we would go on to make fairy cakes but the truth was, Mum was Church of England and she didn’t practice so nobody made us go when we weren’t with Nana.

I remember after Nana died in 1989 I asked Dad, ‘Do you think nana’s in Heaven Dad?’ His reply that made me smile was, ‘Blimey, if she didn’t make it love, we don’t stand a chance!’

All three of us went to the local RC comprehensive school; the education is second to none but R.E classes always started with ‘…and stand up if you weren’t in church this weekend’. Invariably I had to stand up and I would be questioned, my reply being ‘I was in London at my nana’s, we went to St Patrick’s.’

The older I got the less it bothered me and by the time I was in the 6th form I had lost any love I may have had for the Catholic church and set out to search for something more meaningful to me.

I am constantly on the lookout for information and interested in how others practice their faith. Because even if I am not a church goer, I do believe. I believe there is a bigger plan, I believe in karma. I believe in Love thy Neighbour and treat as you wish to be treated. I have come to my own constantly evolving conclusion that maybe there’s a little truth in all religions.

guru nanak darbar gravesend

I live in a suburb of London and I grew up here. It’s a busy town, home to many London commuters and people from all walks of life. Nowhere was this more obvious than at our comprehensive school where the mixed classes brought together many children from the popular surrounding communities.

Our local Sikh community has grown extensively and if you ever come to Gravesend you can bet your last penny that the curry will be one of the best in the land, we have award-winning chefs, contemporary Indian restaurants and more take aways than you can shake a stick at but, it was when the Sikh community started to build the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara that people started to have an opinion and many didn’t like the idea.

Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend

If you ever have the chance to visit you will be taken with the beauty of this temple, years of planning and community spirit to make this one of the most beautiful temples in Britain. The project was entirely funded by the local community. they set up their own construction company to make best use of the skills available to them and for the more detailed stonework and woodcarving, specialist companies in India were contracted.

I went to have a closer look for myself and fortunately the sun came out for me. I found great beauty, I found a place of worship that brings families together. Whilst I walked around the outside, I saw men enter, groups of old women chatting and I saw parents with their children.

I think it’s pretty amazing what people can do when they put their minds to it.

Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend

I read the inscriptions that had been translated for the English speaking and reading visitors and on returning home I visited the website dedicated to the Gurdwara and found this

Name – From Punjabi sikh, “learner” or “disciple”
founded – c. 1500 in India by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539)
adherents – 23 million
main location – Punjab region of India
original language – Punjabi
purpose of lifeOvercome the self, align life with will of God, and become a “saint soldier,” fighting for good
afterlifeReincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God.
major holidays – Vaisakhi Day, Birthday of Guru Nanak, Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh
five cardinal vices1. lust 2. anger 3. greed 4. worldly attachment 5. pride
Does anything sound familiar to you? It does to me and I’d like to think that we’re all working for the same goal at the end of the day, that of making this world a better place for our children to live in.
Peace be with you.

Quaint is pretty much a great word for summing up the countryside surrounding our area. Although we would be classed as suburban and close to London with immediate access to the A2, the main route into the capital, just a 5 minute drive in the opposite direction takes us to the countryside and we find villages like Cobham, Kent where the houses are ‘Once Upon A Time-ish’ and the pubs are… well, quaint.

In fact what better than on a bright Spring sunny afternoon to mosey on down to a local pub and drink a cool beer in the pretty garden? Luckily for us, these local pubs all have outstanding food too which means phoning well before hand to make sure you get a table!

A closer look at Cobham reveals that it is a hamlet of Sole Street, the parish church is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene – my favourite saint ever and the most important woman in JC’s life, the church is also home to brasses reputed to be the finest in England. Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s finest writers used to walk out to the village and set part of The Pickwick Papers there. Another claim to fame is the artist Richard Dadd, the insane artist, used to live here and murdered his father in these parts in 1843.

One last thing that must be mentioned about Cobham is it’s hall, Cobham Hall  A manor house has stood on these grounds since the 12th century but  it has been home to a public girls’ school since 1957. Once the 17th century home of the Earls of Darnley and in fact the 8th Earl of Darnley was the first cricket captain to attempt to recover the Ashes from Australia.

If you are ever on route to dover via the A2, this beautiful quaint, quintessential English village is well worth a stop off, just make sure you book a table atone of the pubs beforehand

I wish I had this shot for yesterday’s Gallery post!

Quirky is one of those descriptive words that explain a whole way of being in 6 letters and for me it’s a perfect word for describing your average British woman.

quirk (kwûrk)

n. 1. A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy: “Every man had his own quirks and twists” (Harriet Beecher Stowe).

2. An unpredictable or unaccountable act or event; a vagary: a quirk of fate.3. A sudden sharp turn or twist.4. An equivocation; a quibble.5. Architecture A lengthwise groove on a molding between the convex upper part and the soffit.

The ability to take something out of context and add a little soupson of imagination and create a brand new identity. If there is one thing I adore about being British it’s our love of creativity, our passion of trying something new and more than that – not being afraid to give it a go.
I did a quick Google search which brought up some very interesting and quirky links, for example Quirky Travel, a blog only started up at the beginning of the year but already caught my eye. Then there’s the Quirky Traveller’s Tales offering a different insight to places you may have already been to but worth reading.
Do you have a quirky friend who you never know what to buy for when it’s birthday time? Here’s Quirky Gift
or Quirky Cakes