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…………

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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:
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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

What soundtrack would you put together for your life?………..Part One

If for some inexplicable reason Hollywood were to come knocking on your door, 😉?

For this part, mine would start with, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the first record we were given after receiving a record player. And it was played simply because our record collection was so small, though curiously it did grow on us.

Though we then moved on to a succession of ‘Top of the Pops’ albums, which seemed such good value for money in the late seventies.

Pittabread 1 August 2017

Then from my school days I would include:

Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen I remember it coming out as a mega record when I was at school. Something so completely different and memorable.

Something from Grease – we all wanted those tight black trousers, despite our Head’s warning about the dangers of ‘ changing ourselves to fit in‘ – she may just as well of ‘whistled in the wind’. We just wanted those trousers.

Master Blaster Jamming, from Stevie Wonder’s Hotter than July album, takes me straight back to messing about and jumping around in the common room at the college where I was doing my A Levels.  I loved the joy and excitement of not being at school.

Walk under Ladders and Me, Myself I, by Joan Armatrading – reminds me of the two people who introduced me to her music, at college. One of which offered me the most forthright and insightful piece of career advice I have ever received when I revealed that I was considering a career in forensic science.

Oh, you don’t want to be bothering with all that Janice, all you are going to do is end up dealing with sh** and stuff.”  And that was enough to put me off.

Madonna, to this day my sister B, struggles with Madonna as I rocked up home for the Summer holidays from Hatfield Polytechnic as it was then and literally played Madonna, morning, noon and night. By the time I left, B had had more than enough.

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Skipping forward a little to my late twenties, early thirties

Show Me Love, by Robin S. – takes me back to my clubbing days, there was a time I could go out clubbing in the middle of the week and still get up for work the next morning. Absolutely no chance of this happening now, but still reminds me that you can take the girl out of the club, but not quite get the club out of the girl or woman.

And for the moment, I’m going to finish with, Waves by Mr Probz, the song my daughter picked out as the soundtrack to the family video, she put together, which brilliantly captures the two weeks the six of us spent in Runaway Bay, Jamaica in 2016.

Should Hollywood ever come knocking, I’ll let you know 😉

Until next time

Janice Taylor

Mum, ‘stop filling in the blanks!’……..

I first wrote about being a mum in September 2014 and again in July 2016, this is going to be an ongoing theme as I am the parent of a ‘teenager’.

We are entering new territory and it must be said, my parenting style varies from having ‘Rapunzel’ like moments when I want to keep her locked up in a tower until she ‘comes of age’ to ‘you’re getting older now, why can’t you just get on with this.’

Neither stances are particularly helpful, but honestly, I don’t always manage to maintain a calm, consistent and graceful approach to parenting. Sometimes I’m shouty, illogical and inconsistent, largely through anxiety and fear for the future.

Isobel on beach 2016

Like many others I don’t always achieve the right balance….

So, my clever and resourceful daughter has found a way to help me with this, by using the following phrase:

‘Mum, stop filling in the blanks!’………..

Much as it pains me to say this, but this apt response from my daughter, is enough to stop me ‘dead in my tracks’.

It stops me each time I rush to give my reaction – before she has even had a chance to think about and respond to a question, a request, an observation just about anything really.

Ironic as I coach for a living, but hey ho 😉

Am sometimes, just a bit too quick to jump in with what I imagine or think she is going to say. This would not be acceptable in coaching, so certainly don’t need to be doing this as a parent.

It is quite shocking how much I can do this as a parent- I’ve already created a scenario in my head and voiced my irritation, frustration, or conclusions to it before she has even said anything.

In other words, I’ve already filled in the blanks………

Pittabread 2 July 2017

But since my daughter started using this phrase, I have been reminded to stop, as it so beautifully describes what I have been in the habit of doing.

I’m not alone in this, I’m sure but it seems to me that it is often our habitual responses that can cause problems in our interactions with our children.

Now I need to learn to take a breath, count to ten and listen to what is being said, before I go rushing in.

And I certainly, need to go back and revise my sessions in mindful parenting.

So, there you have it, until next time.


PS, before anyone asks, my husband might well say the same too, but less worried about that 😉

The love triangle ……………

Now I have your attention, this is a story about the three ducks we had in our garden as children, Bill, Jemima and Gertrude.

Jemima was named after one of the toys featured on the BBC’s children’s programme, Play School, presented for many years by the late Brian Cant.

Though for the life of me I cannot remember how we came by Gertrude, and Bill was always going to be just Bill.

Anyway, back to my tale of unrequited love and ducks.

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I remember returning home, after a weekend away to find three Khaki Campbell ducks installed in the garden.  My initial excitement at their arrival very quickly turned to dismay, when I realised that we (my sisters and I) would be responsible for collecting the eggs every day and cleaning out their hutch.

Out of all the animals we had when growing up these were the ones I disliked the most, well apart from the African Grey parrot but that’s another story.

They certainly, brought out the ‘Margot’ in me, for those of you who remember the ‘Good Life. I could never just shove my head in to look and grab the eggs. I wasted a lot of time holding my nose and groping around with my hand. Anything to avoid having to look inside.

It was bad enough having to collect eggs from an incredibly ‘smelly’ hutch and I still have the urge to ‘heave’ whenever I think about it.

 But then we didn’t see or eat a hen’s egg for years. 

To this day I cannot stomach duck’s eggs and never understood why we just didn’t get some chickens?

Anyway, back to the love triangle, the one consolation I used to get was watching our three ducks chase each other around in circles as it very quickly became clear that Bill had his eye on one of the ducks, let’s say for the sake of argument, Jemima.

However, unfortunately for Bill, Jemima was not in the least bit interested but Gertrude certainly was.

So, poor Bill used to spend a lot of his time and energy chasing Jemima around the garden whilst in turn being chased by Gertrude.
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Don’t think this ‘drama’ was ever fully resolved the whole time they were with us.

In fact, they may well have been still chasing each other around in circles by the time I left home to study.

I think in the end they ended their days in an animal sanctuary after mum decided enough was enough. It was time for them to go.

So, there you have it.

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.

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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.

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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

Would you do this, if someone washed up on a beach?……

It’s been just over a year since our second trip to Jamaica, and this little episode still makes me smile every time I think about it and it’s all to do with our snorkelling trip.

Three of us out of a party of six ended up washed up on the beach, okay I am exaggerating a little here. But the three of us, me, my daughter and my sister Jackie did get picked up by another boat so we could reach dry land about 40 minutes or so into our snorkelling trip.

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To be fair Jackie was there providing moral support, as my daughter after the ten-minute journey on the speedboat to our snorkelling location flatly refused to get back onto it. I on the other hand after twenty minutes or so in the sea was flatly refusing to get off it. Neither of us had enjoyed the boat ride and the less said about the actual snorkelling the better.

Our brilliant guide, could see that we needed to get back to land. However, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as my other sister and her son were blissfully scuba diving beneath us.

He had no choice but to hail a passing boat and ask the owner to take the three of us back.

As it was not practically possible for our kind ‘rescuer’ to take us right up to the beach, the three of us had to wade the last few metres towards land.

My daughter, and sister Jackie weren’t too bad and were ‘more or less’ okay, by the time they reached the beach. I, on the other hand was still not so good and was far more shaken up than I realised. So much so that I didn’t notice, that I was being whistled and waved at by one of the holiday makers on the beach.

In my rather dazed state it took me a while to notice the woman, waving her camera at me and summoning me to take her picture.

With water, mucous and everything else streaming from my eyes and nose, I did manage to take a few snaps with the camera on her phone. As I then attempted to hand her camera back, she gestured ‘no, no’ as she wanted a few more shots of herself ‘posing’ by the sea edge and I just continued snapping away.

I doubt very much that they came out particularly well, but not sure I really care.

But it makes me laugh, that this woman who appeared to be completely oblivious to my state, was so focused on getting a few snaps of herself. Of all the people on the beach to ask, why me?

Still, she did say thank you, and seemed pleased with the results, but of all the things I would think to do as I watched someone emerging traumatised from the sea, asking them to take a holiday snap is not one of them.

So there you have it, until next time.