My daring adventure, part two………

The clocks have sprung forward, and we are now officially at the start of Spring, what’s happening for you right now? What are you looking forward to as the new season beckons?

Well I’m looking forward to completing the first year of my two-year creative writing course, which I started in October of last year. It has been and continues to be a bit of a of a roller coaster. It has been a real eye opener, having to submit work on a regular basis for both critical and constructive feedback from people sitting across the same table as you. Feedback that has overall been, robust, honest and carefully thought through, but it’s still not always a comfortable experience when you are on the receiving end.

So, I have needed to remind myself of the quote, by Brene Brown:

Pittabread March 2018

I have lost count of the number of pieces I have submitted for feedback and with the help of in class writing prompts, have written stories, extracts from my life and even attempted a bit of poetry.  It must be said though; the poetry hasn’t yet been shared and may never see the light of day 😉.

Surprisingly, what I initially wanted to write about when I started the course has completely changed. I’m certainly clearer now about what I don’t want to write about, though I do find myself more drawn to stories, based on magical realism and history.

Certainly, the one thing that has changed as a direct result of the course is my commitment to journaling every day. Interesting as I have never in the past managed to keep up with a diary or journal, they always fell by the wayside after a few short weeks. However, with the creative writing course I have been making the time to write at least 500 words each day and have been doing so since 9th December last year.

Especially since I’ve discovered a great range of unlined A4 books (I don’t do lines, 😉) so I can scribble away, doodle and draw to my heart’s content, without feeling limited by a load of lines. This has been a great discipline for me as prior to that I tended to write only when I had a deadline to meet, or on a bit of an ad-hoc basis. I certainly didn’t write with the determination and focus I have now.

It’s been emotional and not what I was expecting, and it’s opened my eyes to a new world of writing. I’m amazed at the opportunities to enter competitions, join groups, participate in workshops, hear writers read their work. There are a lot of us out there, scribbling away, ‘doing our thing’.

The course is also helping me to uncover a new, quite unexpected story that will take some time to unravel and reveal itself. This new story will allow me to review past choices in a completely new light and with a fresh perspective.

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

PS If you are interested check out part one of my daring adventure, via this link:


A journey home………………….

Today’s story is from my days as an engineering student in the early 80s, long before social media, email or mobile phones. Our channels of communication were limited to talking face to face, writing letters or making calls from a public call box or using the phone at home, the one with a dial 😉.

As I write this I’m reminded that all the parenting in the world won’t necessarily shield you from your own ill-thought out and potentially dangerous impulses. And I was at the time considered by my mum to be a sensible and level-headed teen, it just goes to show.

Pittabread 2 Feb 2018

Anyway, to my tale, it was the end of my first term at Poly and as an 18-year-old undergraduate I was packed and ready to travel home and had already rung mum at one o’clock to say I was on my way. She would have reasonably expected me home at around four o’clock the same afternoon. Well, I did eventually roll in at 11pm, though today as the mother of a fifteen-year old I cannot quite believe that I put my mum through this as I was effectively missing for six/seven hours.

So, as I was about to leave campus, I happened to meet one of the older male students on my course. He was a year or so ahead of me, so when he asked, ‘where are going?’ I simply replied, ‘home.’ When he suggested that we travel to London together, which was where I needed to go for the first leg of my journey, I wasn’t too fazed. I knew him slightly and was quite flattered. This would have been around one-thirty in the afternoon.

The journey to London was uneventful and when, let’s call him Tony, suggested going for a drink, I was not perturbed it was still early. Making a call to mum passed fleetingly through my head, but that’s all it did, somehow it seemed too much trouble to find a call box and dial some numbers.

Pittabread 3 Feb 2018

We ended up in a wine bar, had a few glasses of wine, a nice chat, a nice time. We also spent some time walking around taking in the sights. As it was getting dark, I realised I was no longer in a part of London that I was as familiar with and beginning to think it was time to make a move for home. Sharing my concern with Tony, he suggested we take a taxi to the station I needed for the next part of my journey.

So, now we are both in the back of a black cab on the way to Victoria, when Tony stretches out an arm and leans in. In an instant, my happy haze clears completely, and I ask to get out of the cab. Realising that I am not interested in his overtures, Tony immediately backs off and insists on taking me to Victoria station where I can get my train home.

Which is what I did, still not thinking to call mum.

Pittabread 4 Feb 2018

Looking back, I was naive and a bit too trusting, but fortunate, that Tony understood and respected my ‘no.’ It could have been a whole different story with somebody else.

As I remember it, mum was remarkably, or at least appeared remarkably calm and composed when I breezed in around 11pm and brushed off her questions with ‘Oh, out with friends.’

I didn’t feel it necessary to fill in the details. Sorry, mum.

I could have been, at the very least stuck in London late at night with no money and no clue as to where I was and had placed myself in a vulnerable position.

The lesson was well learned.

So, there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor

Our GCSE Manifesto………………….

I’m sure like many thousands of other parents, my husband and I are counting down the days until the end of June 2018, when our teenage daughter will have completed her GCSE examinations.

Have been astounded by how stressful we’ve both found this two-year period and can’t wait for it to be over.  Back in the late 70s, I genuinely do not remember my parents or me for that matter being this involved or anxious about my O’ Levels. At that time, they were just a set of exams to take before moving onto either work or some form of further study.

So, what’s changed? Quite a lot I should imagine, but this months’ post isn’t going to be an in-depth treatise on the pros and cons of the current education system. Life is too short. 😉

But what I would like to do, so me and my husband can support our daughter through the next six months and retain our sanity is to lay out our GCSE Manifesto.

Isobel on beach 2016

So, to our daughter we’d like to say:

We don’t need you to finish with nine, 9***********, or however the hell the top marks are described these days. A smattering of reasonable grades is absolutely fine with us, thank you very much.

Get yourself through this but look after yourself too, your physical and mental health is our top priority. We want you to be resilient and that might mean sacrificing a few marks, here and there.

We do need you, to put in the ‘effort’, this is probably the biggest and most important predictor of success in these exams. So, if you can look us both in the eye and tell us, you have tried your hardest and your best. We will be proud.

These exams are a gateway, a set of stepping stones to a future we cannot fully predict or control. They may lead you to where you want to go, but they may also lead to unexpected or unanticipated opportunities. So, as such they don’t have to determine the rest of your life, that is for you to do.

Real learning is a joy and is for life, so don’t allow this small part of your education to put you off. If you can keep your mind open to learning and your heart open to friendship, compassion and kindness, your dad and I will have done our job.

And remember, whatever happens on the 23rd August when the results come out, there is always, always a plan B and we will be with you, come what may.

Life will go on, all you need to do is make the best choices from wherever you happen to be.


Mum and Dad

Janice Taylor

This year I’m disrupting my own Christmas….

By which I mean, the changes I will be making to our usual Christmas routines and preparations.

It’s going to be all about rest and relaxation this year, that is our theme for Christmas 2017.

It doesn’t have to be the same every year…

For 2017, the manic, rushing about for presents, food and general Christmas ‘tat’ is out. I am refusing to engage with the madness of the last-minute, supermarket dash and paid my last visit to our newly refurbished Sainsburys on Wednesday 20th December.

Pittabread Dec 2017 1

I will not be back until after Christmas.

So, what else am I changing?

For a start not, a single sprout will grace our table this Christmas, life is too short. We don’t eat them at any other time of the year, why bother now?

Our panto tickets are ordered, we are going to see Cinderella and the Beanstalk, at The Old Market, Hove. Something with a bit of a twist, and I’m looking forward to seeing how a relatively small cast, will play a whole host of different fairy tale characters.

We might just spend the whole day in our pyjamas, if we need to go out we can simply pull our clothes over the top. It’s Christmas 😉

Enjoyed my first ever Christmas meal of the year, on Friday 15th December, with ‘Off the Fence’, a local charity supporting the homeless and vulnerably housed. It was a real privilege to be there and I hope this becomes a regular event.

On a similar note, I also spent a bit of time on outreach for the same charity, delivering hot drinks and sandwiches to the people we found on the streets. Nothing like it for putting Christmas into perspective.

We’ll be heading out to catch a couple of films at the cinema, based on our choices as a family, Star Wars, The Last Jedi for me and Wonder for our daughter. We’re still not quite sure about my husband’s choice.

Not everyone is going to get a card this year, (this is probably not too different from previous years), but either way I’d like to speak to people on the phone 😉. Enough of the Facebook likes and shares.

Pittabread Dec 2017 22

We will be tucking into our Aldi’s hamper full of Christmas treats, enough for us and whoever pitches up during the holiday, ordered almost a month ago now.

All our presents are bought, wrapped and under the tree ready to be delivered as required. Well that was the plan, not quite there yet.

Our bathroom needs a fresh coat of paint, not necessarily on Christmas Day but at some point, and as it’s over the holiday season I’m hoping to get some help from my daughter and husband.  A different kind of ‘family activity’ 😉.

So, there you have it, wishing you all a happy, restful and peaceful Christmas.

Janice Taylor


John’s garden shed…….

Have been meaning to share this story for some time now, it still makes me laugh and I like to celebrate and remember colleagues from my past working life, particularly from my days in Engineering and this happened almost thirty years ago, now.

John, was the senior Estimator at the company we both worked for in East London, when I a recent engineering graduate was assigned to work with him as a trainee.

As I remember him, John was a cheerful individual who laughed easily and had an optimistic view on life and he taught me, his rather serious and reserved graduate trainee the art and craft of Estimating.

That is, he taught me how to work from a photograph, a sketch or a model of a shop display unit and turn it into a list of materials, manufacturing processes and packaging that could be priced up and presented to the sales team – with a flourish:

This is how much we think it will cost to produce this item.

Pittabread Nov 2017 1

If we were lucky our ‘estimate’ would fall within the price range offered to the customer, by our sales team.

So, this was how John and I spent our working day and if you had asked us, we could have given you the price of a tonne of steel, a bag of screws and a kilo of acrylic moulding powder almost of the top of our heads.

Anyhow, one morning I arrived at work to find John, already seated at his desk with what looked to me like a small house made from Greyboard modelling card and the first thing he asked me was:

 “What do you think Janice?”

As he removed the small house’s roof and turned it this way and that on top of its four walls.

“What’s it for John?” I asked, as he continued re-orienting the small roof.

“My shed, can’t quite decide which way to place the roof.”

“Okay, John is there anything else we need to work on today?”

“Yeah, probably.” he replied, “but I want to get the cement and sand for the concrete sorted. And it would be good to order the felting for the roof.”

Pittabread Nov 1 2017

At which point, he drew what looked to be a rectangular box on a piece of paper, which I assumed to be the base of his shed and quickly worked out the overall volume. Then he turned towards me and asked;

“Can you check this, need to make sure I order the correct amount of sand and cement for the concrete?”

“Of course.”  I replied

I knew from experience what could happen, if you muddled your dimensions or simply put a decimal point in the wrong place. John didn’t need or want 30 tonnes of concrete for a small garden shed.

So, while I checked his figures, John reached across for the phone dialled a number and placed his order for the felting.

Finishing up with,

“That’s great, so delivery on Saturday? Thank you.”

He finished the call with a sigh and said:

“Well that’s one less thing to worry about.”

Having checked, that all was well with John’s calculations for the concrete mix, I turned to him and laughed.

“After all this John, I want to see this bloody shed, when it’s finished.”

“Yep, I’ll take a picture, Janice. Now let me place a couple, more orders, do me a favour and just keep an eye out.”

I did indeed keep an eye out, it would have been a bit tricky if one of the senior managers had happened by, whilst their crack Estimating team, ‘Johnice’ as we were known then, were hot on the trail of some non-work related, concrete and felt.

I can’t remember if I ever saw the picture, but I know I never saw the shed.

So, there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor

My daring adventure………….

This month’s post has been inspired by Helen Keller’s quote, ” Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’ So, what is my daring adventure?

Well, I finally took the plunge and signed up to join a weekly writing group.  It’s all very new and we are still in the process of getting to know each other as individuals and as writers.

But what has been in the back of my mind for a few years now, is that I have three stories to tell and without some ‘structured’ and ongoing guidance and support, nothing will happen.

Helen Keller

Signing up and committing to this on a weekly basis, also means that I am taking myself a bit more seriously as a writer. This programme is going to be quite a challenge.

So, it was a bit unfortunate that at the end of week one, I left thinking, WTF! Seriously! Already questioning my decision to join and I had to spend quite some time talking myself down.  I was not a happy bunny and as I was seriously contemplating stopping there and then, I had to remind myself that:

I chose to do this for me, the whole point is to bring my writing up to another level. This is my journey, no one else’s, so to a very large extent what others say or think is none of my business and largely irrelevant. I can choose what to take on board and learn from and what to simply discard.  The only person who I need compare myself with, is me.

So, I returned for week two and this time left thinking okay this might not be quite so bad. Maybe I can do this, it’s going to challenge me in many ways, but it will be worth it.

Certainly, felt quite a bit happier after week two, and was glad I’d decided to return ;).

By the start of week three, to my genuine amazement I’d already started to feel a lot more settled and at home. And I wasn’t the only one as I noticed that by week three, we’d already started bickering amongst ourselves like family.

It looks like the next two years are going to be quite a journey, learning with a group of people from all walks of life, differing ages, experiences and attitudes.

What I will need to remember is that each one of us comes with our own baggage, strengths and insecurities, no exceptions. It will be interesting to see how these emerge for each of us as we progress through the programme.

So, I can remove the bag of chips from my shoulder and decide to relax and go with this and see where it takes me.  Who knows I may even learn something.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

Well hello Dolly…………………………..

Those of you who know me personally, will also know that cooking and housework are not my favourite pastimes. So, this month’s post is a bit more ‘tongue in cheek’ as it’s all about my recently acquired, ‘Dolly’ Dyson, cordless vacuum cleaner. It’s been quite a revelation, 😉.

So now I firmly believe…………

Pittabread Sept 2017

This is also what I imagine mum, would have been saying to me as I contemplated replacing our trusty and long serving Henry Hoover with a light-weight, cordless Dyson.

In fact, I can hear her quiet chuckle each time I grab our newly acquired Dolly Dyson and whiz around a room without a care in the world.

So, it was that a few months ago, I took the plunge and bought one.

We’d had our Henry Hoover for many years, but I’d reached the point where for the sake of my back and my sanity, I needed an appliance that would just make my life easier, pure and simple.

However, though Dolly is cordless and light-weight ‘she’ only has a battery life of 20 mins, so now I find myself planning my hoovering 😉 and being far more strategic in my approach. If you only have 20 minutes, you need to prioritise.

No more aimless meandering around the house for ‘hours on end’ with a ‘Hoover’ for me, thank you very much.

The arrival of Dolly has completely changed my  behaviour around hoovering, old habits have gone and been replaced with a new focus and almost, but maybe not quite ‘enjoyment’.

Can’t quite believe it took me so long to make the decision, and so in honour of mum, I’d like to say again:
Pittabread Sept 2017 2

Surprising what you can get done in 20mins, and I’m sure it’s helping to keep me sane.

So there you have it, until next time

Janice Taylor