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New Harry Potter LEGO sets just released

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What we all need at the beginning of a new year is a new Harry Potter LEGO set. In a list of things that we absolutely need they would come pretty down near the bottom but for some this new release is an important event. 

Find them here

Undoubtedly, the Dragon Alley set is really endearing but what’s also important is the release of   Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests that allows you to build new wall art. Choose the house crest you like and build it for your wall.  If you spend at least £75 on any LEGO Harry Potter products you can also have The Monster book of Monsters completely free. 

Given the price of some of the items, this is not just for kids but more for collectors and people who are crazy about Harry Potter and/or LEGO.

 

 

 

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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Garden

My Hobby – Instagram Photos – of Home and Garden

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Winston Churchill stated that it was necessary to have at least three hobbies to gain full mental benefit from them, 
“Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by constantly using it and tiring it …. the tired part of the mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not enough to merely switch off the lights, which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest, a new field of interest must be illuminated ….” Churchill He also said “If it wasn’t for painting, I couldn’t live. I couldn’t bear the strain of things” He also enjoyed card games, listening to music and reading. 
 
In the current pandemic, people are sometimes using their enforced leisure to take up new and existing hobbies. The Merrian Webster dictionary confirms Churchill’s experiences, by defining a hobby as ” a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”
 
My hobbies have included writing poetry and acrylic painting, but my main hobby these days is Instagram. I find it extremely relaxing to scroll down the screen, knowing that I will largely be presented with the posts of people I have chosen to follow. There are also sponsored posts, which may lead to finding a new person.  Instagram has enabled me to travel the world, seeing photos and videos taken by people across the globe. There are wonderful mountains, lakes and sunsets as well as historic buildings to enjoy. Sportspeople, artists, politicians, and of course, celebrities are also present! There is something for every taste. 
I have managed to post over three thousand photos over the last two years, largely without leaving my house and garden! In 1996 I did a short six-week course in “How to Paint and Draw” at the local Further Education Centre. At the end of the course,  I remember the teacher saying that ” from now on you will all see things in a new way ” I think that this has influenced my photography, enabling me to see a picture in things, that I would once have thought insignificant. To my mind a patch of moss or a lawn full of dandelions are worthy of a shot. 
 
In the New Year, Instagram can on request, produce the top nine photographs taken by the photographer during the past year. These are selected according to the number of “likes” each photograph has attracted. The selection does not always please people, who sometimes make up collages of their own top nine!
 
 I have noticed that people do not often repost the work of other people, which I regularly do, of course crediting the photographer.  Very rarely do people object and are generally pleased by the appreciation of their work. However, this habit has resulted in few of my own efforts reaching the Instagram Top Nine.  This does not bother me greatly, because I know that I can post my own selection, which will be seen by the dozen or so people, who regularly follow my work.  An added bonus of Instagram is that people can have nice conversations about the photographs posted and it is a “kinder gentler” forum than twitter! If you are looking for a hobby, the last thing you need is aggro! 
 
PS My Instagram account is caroleford42

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Hobbies

Why write even if no one will read ?

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 I had always imagined I would write,  so many of us feel we ‘have a book in us’ that we have something to impart. Maybe knowledge ,  a story, a tale, a need to impart some sort of fantasy perhaps but actually setting things down is huge and is so daunting to make that first initial sentence that  so often nothing is ever quite good enough.

I have always been drawn to a notebook, is there anything so beautifully pure perfect and pristine as a brand new notebook, they fall into categories of sacredness, the reporters notebook, now they are easy to fill in because they have pages you can tear out… the cheap notebooks that you can tear a page out of with a spiral binding.

Even the beautiful covers don’t stop me from using them because I can get rid of anything that no longer pleases me easily. But…those notebooks that are bound…that you have to keep intact, they are special. How do you write that first word? I have a pile of such notebooks in my room, they have been gifts from friends and relatives who know my love of a place to write but would they be sad to see they are still pristine?

You see the more beautiful and special a book is to me the more important it is that the first page is filled with something worthy…and so for years they can sit on my bookcase taunting me with their beautiful creamy or stark white pages, thick and textured or thin and crisp,  plain or lined ,leather bound or with a picture or binding that calls to my heart.

I have not forgotten these notebooks, I am simply waiting for the day something is special enough to write on that first virgin page. I might use a sharp hard pencil or a smooth ballpoint, it might require real ink or even a felt tip or purple ink! But I will know when I am ready. Until recently I had loved to keep things for ‘special’ but I have been sharply reminded that tomorrow is a gift for many and we need to burn our scented candles, use our best china and spray our expensive perfume all over ourselves. So I will begin to write in my notebooks…and try not to think about what is good enough to enter the pages.

We write for so many reasons to explain and refine our ideas to others and ourselves. I do not believe myself to be a ‘writer’  I doubt my ideas and  subjects , I worry that the style is pedantic, strange and immature. A nagging voice in my head whispers I am  wasting my time. But I have found at this time of grief I am passing through writing has become  as essential to my well being as good for me as eating well or getting enough sleep.

It  builds my  sense of worth. Allows me to lose myself into another world and relieves stress. And reminds me of the parts of life that are beautiful and interesting.

Writing has made me stop hiding from the memories that hurt so much with the loss of not being able to make more and to mine my past, pulling jewels from darkness, discovering the  strength and beauty that I had and still carry in my heart.

2That is why I write – to try to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance.– Paulo Coelho

I hope that some of my words might possibly help others also. Those who might stumble across something I have written and find it resonates with them so they no longer feel alone and see that their thoughts and fears are others also, they are not alone.

I want to help people who have found the cruel unexpectedness of life and death to find their way through the long lonely months of life’s twists and turns. Others might not know how to speak and explain their depth of caring but might find penning a poem or letter easier or just a little gift of thought and empathy, This poem was written and  sent to a friend of mine and it is beautiful in its simplicity band depth of love expressed,

Trying not to feel the pain

Of never seeing you again

Trying not to feel too bad

Trying to remember when

Thinking of you now and then

So many thoughts and words unheard

When you left without a word

By Carole Ford

Sorrow and pain need an outlet and the act of writing be it for an audience or just a diary gives us a chance to work through things, to give voice to sorrow, which also gives us a chance to heal. It  lets us frame the terribleness of dark feelings into something definable, even if we struggle to make it manageable.

“Writing eases my suffering . . . writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence.” – Gao Xingjian

Mostly I write for fun and love. To give voice to my thoughts and feelings to share with others regardless of if they will ever actually read and to fill my time in a way that is pleasurable but makes me feel it has value.

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

I would encourage you all to write, jot down those little anecdotes of family history, your voice can be carried through time the way a picture can but tell so much more of you. Don’t let yourself be lost…tell the world your stories or thoughts or feelings. Write poems , a diary, or simply your favourite family recipes. Your children and grandchildren will one day read and get a glimpse into your heart and soul in a way a photograph could never have done.

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Garden

My Garden in Autumn/ Winter

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I am really looking forward to going out again into my small garden in the Spring. It is just the right size for me to ‘mismanage’ at about 17 feet in width by 15 feet in length, more or less forming a square. As you can see from the pictures, it largely takes care of itself.
 
I have to say it makes a pretty good job of it, more so than you would guess from winter viewing. The thin foliage at the end of the garden transforms into a blackberry bush, with blossom that attracts honey bees. I know that it is a tough plant, because it grew from a shoot that protruded a couple of inches through the earth in 2019, when the fence was replaced.
 
Half of the garden was truly barren then, but sprinkling with grass seed, restored it. I did have to intervene at that point, but fortunately no skill was required. I trod in the seeds, following instructions on a U tube video. It was not apparently necessary to water them in our climate (I did) or worry if they survived. “One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die, and one to grow” was the advice.
 
As you can see the grass is growing fine. There is also a patch of Ladies Mantle, which has chosen to appear in the middle of the garden. This is a very hardy plant, which seeded itself and must have escaped from the border.
 
 The only plant that was bought forty years ago is the rose bush, which has become wild.  There are a few rose hips visible now, still surviving the season. Ignoring advice from family to remove it, I actually cherish it, no matter that the lower branches will remain bare even in the summer months. 
 
The small birds love to perch on them. I did have to stop filling the bird feeder, after seeing that a small mouse was making regular trips to collect the seeds. I did feel a bit mean when he finally retreated with empty paws,  back along the fence. Believe it or not,  the rose bush actually creates a bower that I can sit under in the summer.
 
 
I sit by the garden gate, next to the blackberry bush and admire the sun shining through the ferns and grasses growing beneath it. 
I have to say that the opposite fence remains quite bare, apart from a few fence ornaments, unless the Ladies Mantle decides to take over and I say, “go for it”!  I erected the Sunflower, which came described as a garden sculpture to distract from this, and for me this works. I should mention the Ash Tree, growing only a few feet from the back door.
 
I thought that it was another wild plant coming to help me out , but someone on Instagram informed me that it is actually a tree, or would be if I let it grow. At the moment it is just a bare stick in the ground, having dropped all its leaves.
 
I should really remove it, but it is tempting to leave it and cut it back each year.  There was a time when I had to do quite a lot of pruning on the rose bush, which split into two and partially obstructed the garden gate. I don’t think that will be necessary this year, but you never know. 
I am happy with my wild garden.
 
There is a magnificent camellia bush that has grown through the fence from next door, but I can take no credit for that. So long as you have a garden that pleases you, that it all that matters, so I say in the well-known phrase “Enjoy your garden”
 
Postscript – Any sort of garden is immensely valued in the pandemic by anyone lucky enough to own one. 

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