Category Archives: Life Changes

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

Travels around Italy with the best coach driver ever…

This story goes back to a time when I was in my late twenties and an advert for a coach trip to Italy, caught my eye.

I remember feeling a bit down and in need of a ‘pick me up’ so after a quick call to my sister two places were booked for the week-long coach trip.

Along with our ‘girlie’ holiday to Fuengirola this Italian coach trip turned out to be one of the funniest trips I have ever taken. From the pristine coach and it’s ‘caring’ driver through to the toilet that not one of us was ever allowed to use.

I cannot imagine putting up with this now.

Pittabread June 2017

But at the time we took this to be part of the trip and it became a ‘running’ joke amongst us holiday makers.

Certainly, remember the Venezuelan couple and their expression ‘Prego’ – which we adopted and used whenever the driver said no to someone using the loo, eating food, stopping to use facilities, just about anything really.

Though it was not so amusing when due to our late arrival at our first ‘official’ stop we were then not allowed to use the available facilities. We ended up having to go and use a nearby field in the dark. Still can’t quite believe we just went along with this as a group, especially as we had such a mix of ages amongst us.

It was a miracle that we didn’t leave anyone behind in the dark and even luckier we didn’t step in anything and bring it back onto the ‘blessed’ coach.  This was our first clue about the character of our driver who appeared to me to be doing everything for own his comfort and ease, with little or no  care for his passengers.

He clearly didn’t want to clean the toilets, didn’t want to clean the bus so no food was ever allowed on the coach. The coach radio only came on at the times he wanted. I’m sure extra stops were added in, to places where he got a cut of the takings.  Which might explain why we were so late for our first ‘official’ stop. He then had the almighty cheek to expect a sizeable tip at the end of the trip. It wasn’t happening.

But despite all this it was still a fantastic trip.  We travelled, to Florence, Venice and Rome for me the first time ever. This one trip made me determined to return to Rome (which is another story) helped by a great host who knew her stuff and could bring the history to life.

Pittabread 2 May 2017

We also met up with another group of women similar in age to us along with the Venezuelan couple. People with humour and fun and who shared our love for the coach driver.

And the trip did the trick it picked me up and gave me a new sense of optimism and perspective.

I notice this is something I have tended to do over my life, if feeling a bit ‘stuck’ for right or wrong I like to take action, either in the form of new study, travel or a hobby.

I find I like ‘shaking things up and getting a fresh perspective.

So, there you have it, until next time.


Janice Taylor

Thank you Ford ……………….

The freedom of being able to drive.

It took seven attempts for me to pass my driving test, one Saturday afternoon in Loughton, Essex. In fact when the test instructor finally said, “you’ve passed” I very nearly burst into tears, such was my relief. So you would think that after an eight year period of lessons and tests I would be raring to ‘get out there’, buy a car and just drive.

Thank you FMC


But I wasn’t, I really wasn’t in any hurry at all to capitalise on my hard earned pass.

Thankfully for my driving career, step forward Ford Motor Company and the fact that just about all their UK sites are largely inaccessible by public transport.  Landing a job at their research and development facility in Dunton, Essex, I had no choice but to go out and buy my very first car. Something I did my best to avoid, however it just wasn’t possible to get from Holloway Road, North London to Dunton, Essex without my own transport.

On my first morning, I set off very early to avoid as much traffic as possible and then was flagged down by the police as I had forgotten to turn on my lights. Arrived at work far too early, but pleased to have completed my first ‘solo’ journey, safely and without too much drama.

So over the next two years I grew used to setting off Eastwards across London, on the A406, A12, A127, negotiating Gants Hill roundabout, (always busy, always tricky), long before the days of Satellite navigation. My confidence grew and I found I didn’t need to set off quite so early in the morning.

It took a little while, but week by week, month by month as my confidence grew, I became a driver that was able to ‘hold her own’ in busy traffic and one who learnt not to be intimidated by it has to be said mainly, ‘male drivers’ tooting and gesticulating as they overtook me. They always seemed to think I was driving too slowly.

Now when I drive there is a certain, stubbornness and ‘bloody mindedness’ in my approach and I’m not easily intimidated by ‘impatient’ and ‘rude’ drivers. This was where I really learnt to drive.

As I look back I think that without this ‘two year’ period, I might not be driving today and what a difference that would have made to my life. Would I have had the confidence to go out and buy my own flat and make other changes in my life?

Maybe, maybe not…..

These ‘grown up’ things all seemed perfectly achievable once I bought my car. I also really enjoyed the ‘freedom’ of being able to get myself from ‘A to B’ without having to rely on anyone else. Probably the biggest thing I have gained from being able to drive and one that I am determined my daughter will enjoy too.

So there you have it, until next time…….

Janice Taylor


“Am just thankful, you have hair on your head” ………

The concluding remark to a conversation with my aunt about the current ‘state’ or style of my hair.

It was indeed said after one of her ‘pauses’- where I could feel that she was carefully and lovingly choosing her words.

Dolphin Cove, Jamaica

Dolphin Cove, Jamaica


I had posted a picture of myself and my sister from the ‘Funk the family festival’ in Hove and from that picture, my aunt was curious to know what I had been doing to maintain my hair.

Was I twisting it? – Hmmm, no

What products was I using? – Shampoo and conditioner

Had I had it redone properly, since having it plaited in Jamaica, almost two years? – Hmmm not really

Though to be fair I have now found someone to re-twist and relock my hair, and that was only because I had taken my daughter along to get some advice on her hair and Cecile had given me her best advice and then immediately turned her attention to my head. When I say attention I mean her full attention, she had already twisted a couple of my braids by the time my daughter had stood up and was  happily routing around my hair and organising a time for me to return and get it ‘tidied’ up.

It seems that there is a small but select group of women, relatives and non-relatives alike determined to help ‘fix my hair’ and this is exactly what happened in Jamaica, where our housekeeper at the villa ‘offered’ to braid my hair. There was something in her ‘steely’ look and it has to be said, ‘pause’ as I responded to her questions that compelled me to submit and get my hair, ‘sorted’.

So in truth, even though my hair is considerable longer than the number one/ one and a half it was about four years ago it has to be said my interest in it has not kept up with its growth.

My days of spending a whole day and a small fortune on hair appointments and hair products (I did this in my twenties and through my thirties) are long gone. These days my main concern is largely around having something on my head that keeps me warm in the winter, keeps the sun of in the summer and looks reasonable with the rest of me.  With my longer ‘style’ I no longer need to have a hat permanently glued to my head.

In the meantime I am enjoying the comments and advice which I am happy to listen to and will more than likely take on board at the point, when even I get to the stage of thinking this needs a bit of ‘tidying’ up.

My earlier post ‘ Hair like an unloved hedge’, is available via this link.

So there you have it, until next time


Janice Taylor

Lessons from being a mum…………………

September, the start of a new school year and as my daughter is heading back to year eight  I am left staggered at how quickly the years have passed. It has also made me consider some of the lessons I have learnt through being a mum. The serious and the not so serious, so in no particular order:

Isobel on beach 2016

  • That I’m tougher in certain situations than I thought and will hold it together if I see my daughter needs me to be firm and clear.
  • I’d fight to the death for her. But I can’t fight all her battles, as she matures and grows I will need to step back and allow her to learn the consequences of some of her actions
  • You really do feel their pain physically, when they are deeply upset, unsettled and hurting.
  • I am learning that I need to ‘Pick my battles’, know when I really need to stand firm and when to simply ‘let it go’, especially relevant as she approaches her teens. More experienced mums have told me ‘you will not have the time and energy to fight everything, decide on your priorities and stick to them’.
  • That as a mother I am more interested in developing her resilience and her ability to persevere and ‘bounce back’ than her exam grades, which I fear will be relatively short lived.
  • There are times when I need to act as a buffer between her and the rest of the world, school and life in general. To give her the space she needs to ‘play’ and just ‘be’.
  • That I can start to relax a little and let go of some of my anxiety. In the early days in particular I always felt I needed to be especially ‘alert’ and ‘watchful’ over her.
  • When I need to step in and play, ‘bad cop’, and say ‘no’ on her behalf.
  • Over the years I have learnt to cope with just about anything that emerges through sickness and illness (amazing what you will just get on and do, when you have to).
  • “Mum, I am bored” is not a cue for me to leap about providing entertainment. The ability to manage boredom is an under- rated skill, one that I am determined she will master.
  • “Mum I have a tummy ache” 99.999% of the time my response, “do you need to use the loo?” is all that is needed.
  • Not everything is a drama, I don’t always have to get swept up in the ‘storm’
  • Being consistent is helpful, I am consistently ‘grumpy’ mum as far as my daughter is concerned, but I am there for her and I think she knows that.

And my final lesson:

  • My daughter is a wonderful ‘gift’, pure and simple.

So there you have it

Until next time………..


The art of forgiveness……………………

“Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace” – Unknown

I first wrote about forgiveness almost two years ago and decided to revisit it when I found the above quote quite by chance. For me it completely answers the question as to what forgiveness involves and why it is worth doing.

So this is what I originally posted almost two years ago:

“What does it really mean to forgive someone? I have been asking myself this as I consider how far I have come (with still a little way to go) with regard to this particular issue. With the passing of time I am recognising just how exhausting and probably destructive it is to be in a place of non- forgiveness.

I am realising that my time, energy and focus is far too precious to be ‘squandered/spent’ on non-forgiveness. So as a result of letting some of this stuff go I feel lighter and more able to move on. I remember reading somewhere that the act of forgiveness is like “removing your hands from around someone’s throat”. It does not mean that you idly forget everything that has happened, or take unnecessary chances or risks; you just make the decision to ‘let it go and move on’ as a first step.

Forgiveness isn’t about a ‘sudden rush of blood to the head’ or a sudden change of personality, but for me it is about trusting that at some point justice and right will be served. You and I no longer need put ourselves in the seat of judge, jury and executioner.

It is a potentially liberating experience, which in my case is still to a ‘work- in progress’, but it has taken me some years to get to this point. To be totally honest, the process was only started as a result of a particular life changing event, without this ‘spark’ – I would most likely be in exactly the same place of ‘non forgiveness’

Almost two years on, where am I? Still moving forward I think as a ‘work in progress’. Time has made things a little easier and I do not regret my decision to forgive, so I guess let’s see how things progress  in another couple of years.

Until next time