The Joy of Colour – Mother Nature leads the way

The Joy of Colour – Mother Nature leads the way

Perhaps it’s autumn and the colours that are in the trees, but I absolutely LOVE this time of year! It’s a time when Mother Nature burns with delight, turning leaves to many shades of gold, orange, red, burnt umber, maroon, pink, yellow… there are so many colours to mention. It’s also a time when she lets go of the dead leaves that glowed a luscious green all summer, realising it’s time to transform and return the leaves to the earth where they re-join the soil. For me, autumn is a time to take a rest after a busy fun filled summer, to re-coop and recharge my batteries throughout the winter season that follows, to ensure I have energy for spring and the year ahead. In contrast to letting go, there’s a natural colourful harvest to gather, pumpkins to pick, squashes to stew, cook and enjoy. Maybe turning fruits and vegetables into pickles to gift to neighbours is your thing, or to dollop it generously on a piece of cheese when dining with friends at home, there are so many things that spark joy.

Nature and colour  

Now, why am I rambling about Autumn…? I believe it’s a time to be still, reflect on what’s been, enjoy what’s around us, and to be present in nature; it has so much to teach us about living, being in the now, and transforming from one form to another – season by season. Effortlessly, quietly, Mother Nature gets on with her business every day, 24-7, not asking for praise or recognition, she quietly does her thing.

In recent years I’ve come to understand more about nature and how it relates to colour. And how colour impacts how we feel, how we behave, and how it can be used to raise our vibration to bring comfort and tranquillity, or at the opposite end of the scale to create a sense of discomfort, even anger. Subconsciously we all relate and connect with colour in many ways, it influences our decision making when we choose clothes to purchase, our choices in the way we dress every day, and how we choose to decorate our spaces – be that an office, café, hotel, or home environment. Discovering how I relate to colour has made a huge difference in my life, my wardrobe, and in my home. Before gaining this awareness, I often felt a disconnect with some colours but not others, and now I understand why. Understanding my colour personality and how it relates too nature has been a guiding principle in all my choices and purchasing decisions when it comes to colour – and I’m keen to share this with you so you can apply it in your life.

Colour in motion: Thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviour

Just as colour has the ability to influence and change our behaviour, so do our thoughts. Have you noticed that patterns and behaviours have emerged over your lifetime? But where do these patterns and behaviours come from? Following my natural curiosity and passion for personal development I’ve discovered that thoughts become things – thoughts create feelings, feelings drive action, and a repeated action becomes a behaviour – and thus over time a pattern is created. Of course, life experiences drive and influence our thoughts and I have to constantly remind myself that thoughts and feelings are not real. It’s not to say I didn’t experience them, I did, but they do not represent reality. They are my individual experience – it’s my lens, my focus, and my thoughts that create my reality. Your thoughts and your focus creates yours too.

So, what do you want to consciously create? As I was recently reminded, if we fill our bodies with excessive calories and food that is not nutritious, we generally start to carry additional weight. Just as if we fill our minds with thoughts that aren’t helpful, true, and don’t reflect reality, then our mind can get cluttered and heavy, and our focus gets distracted. From a colour perspective, the colours we surround ourselves with subconsciously influence our thoughts, feelings, actions and resulting behaviour. It may seem obvious, but it’s incredible how the influence of colour can and does influence all aspects and areas of our lives.

Colourful conversations in everyday life 

November is my birth month and what better way to celebrate than to share my joy of colour with a host of ladies at The Women’s Institute. I was invited some months ago to speak and I’m excited to be able to spread love. In my talk I’ll share a little bit about where my love of colour started, share some insights on how we relate to colour, how we communicate with colour – with a lens on well-known household brands, colour in nature – with a lens on the seasons, plus some discussion about inspiration being all round us.

If you are curious to discover more about how you personally relate to colour and the possibilities it brings, do get in touch. I’m passionate about understanding more about you, sharing the joy of colour, and helping you make it applicable in your everyday life.

Header image from Pexels – Pixabay

Decoding Colour – What does your brand say about you? 

Decoding Colour – What does your brand say about you? 

I truly believe that colour can, and does, help people connect emotionally with others, an environment, a brands product, and a brand itself in an authentic and congruent way. However, I often think that colour is overlooked as a marketing tool by many brands and businesses, and is not given enough consideration – usually because the behavioural psychology is not fully understood or perhaps it’s not deemed important enough with other business pressures to consider.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a passion for colour, and whether we’ve chosen to acknowledge it as yet, when we look at a marketing campaign, a restaurant or item of clothing, the first thing that impacts us is colour. Of course words are important too as they actively reinforce the message we are aiming to convey subconsciously to our customers with colour, and to tell a story that helps people to connect with a product or brand in a positive, memorable way. But are we truly aware of the power of colour?

Using colour as a powerful marketing tool  

From a marketing perspective, colour is the most overlooked marketing tool. In this day and age, we’re quite rightly focused on delivering on and offline experiences, and creating content that triggers a desired action. But the first thing that a consumer will notice and subconsciously react to when looking at a marketing or advertising campaign are the colours displayed – and our intuitive reactions are inherent. Sometimes we know something is ‘off’ but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Subconsciously we’ve instantly had a positive or negative reaction – that will either draw us in and make us curious to know more, or repel us and physically encourage us to move on – which of course results in a missed opportunity for a brand to build trusted, authentic relationships with their target audience and from a commercial perspective, lost sales.

There are many brands who have nailed it. Famous for its ‘swoosh’ logo and ‘Just Do It’ slogan, Nike is one of the most well-known brands globally. Known originally for making athletic footwear, they also enable their customers to customise key products and create a pair of trainers using a customer’s favourite colour combos – if you want to read more, check out <a href="http://‘Nike by you’. The designers and creators here understand the power of colour to influence a purchase and to deliver a personalised, memorable experience that has the ‘talkability’ factor amongst friends and family, and probably your work colleagues too. When it comes to brands, P2P, personal referrals are the holy grail in the B2B and B2C world and nothing comes close or is as strong as a warm lead created in this way.

Connect and make an impact – use colour strategically

Founders, entrepreneurs and business leaders who really understand the benefits of building a brand, and understand what their brand stands for, will more than likely buy into the fact that when we are clear on who we are as people – our business benefits. Moreover, brands need to show up authentically, just as humans do, otherwise people see through them and move on (like a magpie) to the next shiny object that’s caught their eye. And in this day and age, where customers want what they want presented to them in the ‘now’, these flighty human behavioural traits need a lot of consideration when mapping out the desired customer journey and user experience.

To apply this thinking on a personal level, applied colour and design psychology expert Karen Haller asks this question – “Why is it that you’re drawn to wear blue one day and green the next?” How do you feel when you wear red, or black – do you feel powerful and strong – or have you chosen to wear those colours because that’s how you want others to perceive you on a given day?

To resonate with our target audience, think strategically about how you build your brand guidelines and playbook from the outset. Everything you communicate stems from this critical piece of work. And make sure you’re clear on your ‘North Star’, the promise your brand is making to its consumers. Your brand and all elements (visual, written, colour palette and more) must interplay and work cohesively together to establish and build your brand value over time. Get it wrong and it’ll have a negative impact commercially, culturally, and will often push potential customers into the arms of your competitors.

Although it might be tempting, don’t copy other brands and what they are doing – spend time working out what’s right for you. Understand who you are, what you want to stand for, and who your customers are – don’t chase what someone else has got, be authentic to you. Remember, your customers are people and as human beings we have a built-in system that can spot when something doesn’t quite fit. When all elements are considered and work cohesively together – colours, words, shapes and textures – the right vibe will resonate and energetically to attract the right people.

Discover your colour journey – a catalyst for business growth 

As the world continues to rotate every day with new challenges being thrown into the mix, it’s important for businesses to know who they are here to serve and the benefits they bring to their customers. Never underestimate the power of colour to influence, and the next time you come to a discussion around your brand, think strategically, and understand that colour has a huge impact when connecting with your target audience. If you’d like to find out more about consciously connecting with colour, do get in touch, I’d be happy to chat with you.

Header image by George Lebada, Pexels.

Immersion in mother nature – summer smiles, sunshine and silliness 

Immersion in mother nature – summer smiles, sunshine and silliness 

This summer has been pretty unusual in that I decided to take my summer holiday in the UK, well… Wales to be precise – so no planes, and no trains – instead bicycles and campervans, and numerous flotation devices from paddle boards, sea kayaks, to power boats that ruled the waves, which always means adventure in my book.

I’ve had Vinnie my VW campervan for nearly two years now. So far, we’ve shared many day trips to the beach, weekend trips to see friends further afield, week long stays in Cornwall and the Lakes, and more recently a summer holiday to Wales. With nine days of annual leave booked I wanted to head somewhere new, somewhere I’d not been before. So with new horizons in my sights, I decided to head to the mountains in Wales. You may ask, why Wales? In June 2021 I went on hols with some Bella Velo girlfriends with a company called Glaudax Cycle Tours and discovered the delights of the Elan Valley and the remoteness of the hills, which prepared me well for the Pennine Rally in July 2021. But this year I was looking for something a little more chilled. A holiday with no 6 or 7am alarm calls for 8am departures, I wanted to enjoy being in nature, ideally soaking in some rays during the day and the milky way and stars by night. And so began the tale of two halves… 

Part 1 – Inland in Cantraf and the Brecons Beacons 

The first gem was arriving at the campsite that Jasmijn had suggested – what a view! Not only was the campsite the perfect spot for a sunset, it also provided the optimal viewing spot to watch the sunrise – I never get bored of watching either. And not having a loo in Vinnie meant an early morning walk for a wee – and as every cloud has a silver lining, with every early rise I was rewarded with the sunrise. 

Sunrise in Cantref

During my time in the Brecons I ventured on two wheels out on the Taff Trail, saw the Brecons Mountain Railway train, passed loads of lakes, breezed along canal paths, cycled through military land (with permission) and witnessed the most spectacular views. I enjoyed ice-cream, homecooked Welsh cakes, eat the best steak I’ve tasted in months, and sampled some home-cooked BBQ lamb that had been marinading in a delicious mix of herbs and spices for over 24 hours. Much of the above was thanks to the hospitality, kindness and generosity of Jasmijn for taking me out on the trails, and her husband Chris for being a master chef on the BBQ. 

If you fancy checking out my bike routes on Strava, have a look here ‘Taff Trail’ and here ‘Brecons Loop’

Adventures on two-wheels

In addition to two wheels, me and Jasmijn ventured out on a walk up to the Fforest Fawr Geopark. And as tempting as it was to swim in the glacial lake at the top, it was not remotely tempting to take a dip in the river flowing down the mountain… it was freezing, properly bone chilling as soon as you put your feet in. It was interesting to do this walk and to discover some more about the heritage of the region, plus read about the legends and tales that have been captured over the years. 

Fforest Fwar Geo Park

Part 2 – Out by the coast and playing on the sea in Nefyn

The drive from the Brecons to Nefyn was stunning. In total the journey time was 4.5 hours. Taking in many twists and turns through narrow lanes and the stunning Snowdonia National Park, I was not short of beautiful views to keep me alert and on the ball. I also had a range of CDs (yes, CDs) to sing along to. From Andrea Botchelli to Anastasia, I had a retro kickback to tickle my tonsils. I guess that’s also another benefit of solo travelling, you don’t need to negotiate the route you’re going to take, or the music you’re going to sing along to. 

It’s true to say that some things never change – and that’s my spirit for adventure. So, I knew I was in good company with my uni friend and round the world travel buddy, Cat! We’ve shared and experienced so many incredible moments together and even though we don’t get to do so much together these days, when we do get together, we really are up for anything active and do effortlessly squeeze the most out of every day. 

Beach BBQ before the moon rise kayak

From morning cycles around local hills, to afternoon swims and paddle board adventures, to sun-downer BBQs in different bays, and watching the super moon rise over the saddle of the hills in Nefyn as we kayaked by night under the stars – this experience was quite unique and magical, and I think we may have witnessed the last super moon of 2022. Following a haze of peachy light in the distance, a blazing ball of pink fiery light literally rose from nowhere. Moreover, with the super moon shining bright, the tide came right up to the seawall – this made for an interesting knee deep walk along the beach at the end of our adventurous and fun packed evening. 

Pedal adventures for coffee and cake

At the other end of the scale, the night before we’d had our glad rags on and danced the night way at the Nefyn Sailing Club summer dinner. I’ve not danced or sang like that in a long time and it felt bloody brilliant, you can’t beat a crazy boogie to classic 80’s power ballads and 90’s super tracks.  

A life of adventure 

It’s not very often that I have some relatively unplanned and unstructured time. But what I loved most about taking this trip was my conscious decision to not plan much, other than the first two nights accommodation in Cantref in the Brecons, and that I was driving on to Nefyn on day six, then planning to drive home on day 9.  I knew I’d see Jasmijn in the Brecons and Cat and her boys in Nefyn, but the rest was open to evolution – no fixed plans, just the intention to have an adventure and to have fun. And what a raft for magic taking that approach created.

As far as cycling goes… it’s always about the coffee, chat and cake!

Sometimes I am refuelled by doing very little, then at other times I’m refuelled by playing and being active outside in nature. I realise that it’s a rare gift to have a staycation when the temperature stays on average 28 degrees day on day, with blue skies and blazing sunshine – and for that I’m extremely grateful and thankful.  

I hope you’ve also managed to discover and enjoy some natural gems this summer. 

Super moon rising Friday 12th August 2022


All photos my own.

Creative Conversations – a big Thank You… So, what’s next?

Creative Conversations – a big Thank You… So, what’s next?

On Sunday Adeline and I concluded the first 14 week ‘Creative Conversations’ programme. For me, bringing together a group of amazing people to discover and rediscover their creative self has been a truly magical journey. It’s not the first time I’ve hosted an online group coaching programme, but it is the first time we’ve created one based on the book ‘The Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron. It’s been a real highlight of my year so far and I’ve truly looked forward to our Sunday evenings together.

Finding your tribe

With people from England, France, Slovenia and Lanzarote, including native South African and Australians, each participant has had their own journey and their own individual, unique experience. Having observed the group, the transformation and growth week-on-week has been beautiful to see. From the first week on Sunday 6th February where we made initial introductions, talked everyone through the programme, provided some insight into how the following weeks would unfold, and what was expected of them – to the final completion on Sunday 8th May – it’s been magical.

For these programmes to flourish it’s important to create a solid foundation of trust and confidentiality. Our aim is to build an environment and safe space where people are fully seen and heard, and are happy to express what’s showing up for them each week. Therefore, at the start of each call we remind everyone of our guiding principles, to be of service to themselves and others, to share openly and succinctly as this benefits the group, and to observe confidentiality at all times. We find this approach encourages everyone to be open and creates a platform of mutual trust and respect.

From a quiet, often timid start, the calls develop to express a full range of emotions – including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, resentment, love, compassion, and much more. From tears to laughter, what’s incredible about these emotions is if we are able to sit with them, and not resolve our tension, they create a map. When we pause, get curious, take time to play and listen to our internal whisper, we are able to raise our awareness, notice synchronicities that have previously gone by unnoticed, and step into a more creative way of being. Fore we are of course Human Beings, not Human Doings.

Thank you for being you

It is of course possible to undertake this programme solo, but what I do wholeheartedly believe is that participating in these programmes as a group, and having the courage to show up – and share experiences with others, takes our learning and awareness to levels not felt or known before. Some weeks we feel great, some weeks we feel tension, some weeks we don’t want to show up, and some weeks we’re emotional – what I want to convey is we welcome everyone and encourage everyone to show up as they are.

To everyone who joined us – I would like to send you all a big heartfelt THANK YOU – as it’s you who have made this possible.

So what’s next?

Introducing The Four Agreements

Several people in our group mentioned that they would miss our Sunday evening Creative Conversations and in truth, I will miss them too. In response to their question – ‘So, what’s next?’ we have devised a short 6-week programme that will start on Sunday 22nd May and finish on Sunday 26th June. In the weeks approaching summer we will introduce a book called ‘The Four Agreements’ by author Don Miguel Ruiz. Coupled with the four agreements noted in the book, you will participate in group meditations, discuss what’s landed and triggered you, take away a piece of homework each week, feel the benefit of experimenting with a variety of experiential tools we will introduce along the way – each of which you’ll be able to take into your life once the programme is complete. Plus, you’ll meet other like-minded people who have an interest in personal development and living a more creative, intuitive life.

To ask questions and discover more about how to get involved, do drop me or Adeline an email. Spaces are limited as we want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate and benefit fully.

To find out more email:

Let’s get started – the next step on your journey

The four agreements provide a powerful code of conduct that can help you transform rapidly. If you’re looking to get curious, develop your awareness, challenge yourself, and how you think, this course will most likely interest you. There’s real joy in sharing experiences and learning together.

⭐️ Weekly check-in

⭐️ Sunday evenings, 6-7pm GMT (online / Zoom)

⭐️ 6 weeks, one check-in a week

⭐️ Starts Sunday 22nd May

⭐️ Finishes Sunday 26th June

⭐️ To find out more message me or Adeline.

The book ‘The Four Agreements’, by Don Miguel Ruiz, is available to purchase in many book stores, online and on the high street.

With freedom, true happiness and love,
Emma and Adeline

Photo from Pexels

Pretty in Pink – Happy Feet (and body)

Pretty in Pink – Happy Feet (and body)

It’s the third or fourth week in a row I’ve been to the doctors, every three days, to have my feet checked… This was back in the early 1990’s… I didn’t know what it was or what was causing it. My GP at the time didn’t understand it either. Thankfully, after a few weeks of having my feet syringed, she sent me for tests at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham where I was at Uni at the time. At QMC they took a skin sample from my right toe, examined it, and shortly after I found out I had a genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa (Simplex), or EB (S) for short.

I have blisters on my feet, sometimes 10 or more on each foot, and sometimes on top of each other, and they keep on coming. They are painful, they come from nowhere, and they are not only on my feet! Depending on the clothes I wear and fabrics I choose, tiny little ones, sometime bigger ones, will pop up on my body, hands, chest, anywhere. You see, any slight rubbing results in a blister, often numerous ones under my skin.

Open conversations – anything goes

We talk about all sorts when we ride our bikes – family, friendships, health, travel, literally anything goes – and on this occasion we were talking about drinking alcohol. I mentioned that whilst I enjoy having a drink, and I like the taste of alcohol, my body doesn’t seem to like it very much. Then I shared that I’m pretty sure drinking alcohol aggravated the genetic skin condition I was diagnosed with in my early 20’s (which is when I was at Uni where the alcohol flowed).

I’m sharing this story now because whilst on a cycling trip with some girlfriends in Girona, through my friend Tricia, I learnt about someone else who has EB (S). In my lifetime, outside my family, he’s the first person I’ve ever heard of in my network who has EB (six degrees of separation – in this case less). Moreover, after some WhatsApp messages, I discover I’m the first person he’s ever heard of in his lifetime that has EB (S). It’s not a topic that comes up often and it’s not something I generally talk about, but it is something that’s painful and over the years, has been a challenge to manage. Thankfully I’m getting pretty good at it now. Plus, I have the ‘Simplex’ version so it’s the least severe.

What is Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)?

I describe it as not having glue between my layers of skin, so when there’s friction, it blisters easily. The NHS, research and support charity Debra, and Wikipedia describe EB as follows…

“Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is the name for a group of rare inherited skin disorders that cause the skin to become very fragile. Any trauma or friction to the skin can cause painful blisters.” Discover more HERE.

“Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a painful genetic skin blistering condition with no cure. Find out about different types of EB, causes, symptoms and treatments.” Discover more HERE.

“Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a group of rare medical conditions that result in easy blistering of the skin and mucous membranes. Blisters occur with minor trauma or friction and are painful. Its severity can range from mild to fatal. Those with mild cases may not develop symptoms until they start to crawl or walk.” Discover more HERE.

In March 2004, Channel 4 made a moving documentary about Jonny Kennedy, ‘An extraordinary man with a terrible condition – Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) – which means his skin literally falls off at the slightest touch’. I recall watching this emotional documentary, feeling shocked, and also very lucky to have the mild version as it’s manageable.

My strategies and tactics for managing EB (S)

Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve discovered many strategies and tactics for managing my EB. I’ve also discovered many brands, fabrics and products that make every day manageable.

For cycling – my top five tips to avoid blisters

I cycle a lot, often multi-days rides. And yes, I’ve had very painful blisters there too. BUT (pardon the pun) there are many ways to make cycling achievable. It is about prevention, not cure. Here’s my top 5 tips…

  1. Shorts – Get a pair with a good pad, ideally a chamois for long distance. My preferred brand is Stolen Goat as these shorts are amazingly comfortable, the seams are in the right places, there’s no horrible plastic at the bottom of the legs, and the fit is brilliant.
  2. Chamois Cream – In the UK I buy a product called Chamois Butt’r (pH HER), a pH balanced anti-chafe cream for women. I put it on before every ride, directly onto my skin, not the chamois (that’s my personal preference).
  3. Leg / Knee Warmers – These are a brilliant piece of kit, however make sure to get these with minimal seams and minimal rubber (avoid the pairs that have a line of rubber at the bottom to keep them in place on your shin, they are blister makers).
  4. Sports Bra – If you are blessed with a chest, get a shock absorber. They keep them in place whilst being kind to your skin. Avoid anything tight that will pinch your skin.
  5. Gloves / Mittens – I wear gloves or mittens all year round when I cycle to protect my skin. I tend to stick with Castelli, they are made well, good fabrics, and often have a little bit of padding to make it more comfortable by absorbing some impact over any bumps, on and off road.

For everyday – my top three brands that make my life more comfortable

1 – FitFlop

Without them knowing it, this brand has saved my feet and my sense of humour on many occasions. Without this brand I don’t know what I’d wear on my feet. Via my LAKES cycling shoes, this is the only brand that goes on Potter Trotters.

Why? It’s the Wobbleboard Technology. Over the years they’ve launched new sole technology to suit different customers. For me, the wobbleboard technology has been a game changer. Again, through trial and error, I’ve worked out that this is the product that works for me – in spring, summer, autumn and winter – flipflops, shoes and boots. Discover more HERE.

2 – Freya

Yes, I’m talking about underwear, bra’s to be precise.

Why? For women our underwear is important and it has to be numerous things – comfortable, feminine, pretty, come in lots of colours (white, beige, black being the basics, and colourful too – who doesn’t love wearing something fun, fresh and funky? Freya achieve everything, the underwire is in the right place and it provides support where you need it, they’re well made, and the fabrics are super soft and kind to my skin. They as make great swimwear too! Discover more HERE.

3 – BAM

Now I’m talking about socks, the super soft, sustainable kind.

Why? This product is another revelation… super soft, amazing array of colours and choice, fun and funky designs, a product for every day wear! They are more expensive than other brands, yet they are worth every penny. If you have to be on your feet all day, these are a must to have happy feet at the end of the day. Discover more HERE.

Living with EB (S)

Having EB (S) doesn’t rule my life, but it does impact what I choose to do and what I choose to wear on a daily basis. THANKFULLY it’s automatic thinking now so I don’t notice it so much. I’m luckily that I am able to exercise as it’s something I enjoy. I can’t do gym classes as I get blisters doing burpies and the bleep test, and I can’t run because that’s too much impact and friction on my feet (that’s a blessing really as I’ve never been a fan of running #silverlining).

For exercise, I ride my bike (slowly), I walk (short distances), I swim (bob about in the water doing my own kind of swim stroke, I would never make it across the channel), and do yoga (not so bendy these days so there’s room for improvement) – all of these activities I love.

What gets to me most is the low-level pain, it is tiring, can make me short tempered and it can make me go quiet, when what I’d really like it to do is ‘stop’.

Thankfully, as I get older it seems to be getting less painful, perhaps I’m becoming a master of managing it? Either way, if someone reading this has EB (S), I hope some of what I’ve shared is useful.

Photo – My feet in the New Forest, Pink Toes in my FitFlops

Gorgeous Girls go Gravelling in Girona

Gorgeous Girls go Gravelling in Girona

Train tickets purchased… rental bikes ordered and paid for… AirBnB booked… bag packed (yup, one small trolly dolly for ten days), passport in hand – and I’m ready for the off!

For one reason or another, March was a pretty weird, stressful, and unusual month (take your pick of those words, they all fit the situation). I’m not going to go into that here as it’s not the topic I want to share. What I do want to talk about is the excitement of going on a new adventure and to a new destination, to me never explored before.

Two trains, no planes, and one automobile

Leaving the office in Leicester Square to get to St. Pancras International launched the start of our train journey from the UK to Spain, and before I knew it, I was with Tricia, Alison and Ruth on the Eurostar whizzing through the countryside on our way to Paris. The train is such an amazing way to travel, so much to see, people to watch, imaginary stories to make up about their lives and where they are going, to entertain us on our way. With a gin and tonic in hand, and much chatter, the time passed quickly. Before we know it we were enjoying another tipple in a bar in France!

After a welcome sleep at our hotel, we split into two; Ruth and me opting for a taxi to get across Paris, Alison and Tricia choosing to walk to the Gare du Lyon, before regrouping for breakfast and stage two of our journey from Paris to Girona. I hadn’t realised that France had implemented a ban on short haul flights, encouraging travellers out of the sky and onto the SNCF – perhaps that’s why it was full to the brim?

As I write, me and Tricia are watching the virtual realtime map as we approach the French / Spanish border. It’s not only been lovely to catch up and chat, but also brilliant to see the countryside change as we’ve gone through Nimes, Montpellier, and now the mountains are emerging on the horizon.

This trip will be different to others, as we’ve organised it ourselves – well, in reality Alison has done most of the heavy lifting, suggesting the idea of going to Girona in the first place, finding the AirBnB, and much more. So, what’s different about this trip? The first four days we’ll be having two wheeled adventures on our road bikes, followed by a further four days off road on gravel. With routes sourced through friends and fellow adventurers, we have approximately 40 to choose from. I love this kind of adventure, when there’s a bit of a plan and structure in place, but in reality, the days evolve as does the exploring of new territory.

Our home in Girona

I’ve heard that Girona has many coffee bars… and I love fresh coffee but it doesn’t seem to like me… but that’s not going to stop me sampling some deliciousness. Let’s hope the caffeine headaches don’t last for too long!

The Stats – My distance on two wheels

  • 598km in total, road and gravel
  • 7,750 metres climbed, road and gravel

Those numbers may not be huge but they tell a story of travel, adventure, giggles and much fun!

Gravel Fun with Sharpie – Take 2

Favourite days in the saddle

In truth I’d say all of them, but if I had to pick two…

Road

Our ride to the coast where we saw some of the Volta a Catalunya. The scenery is just incredible, the variety endless over the rolling hills and down to the sea. Great company and chat too! Pushing our timing a little having been stopped by the rolling road closures for the race, we eventually made it back to base before sundown.

It’s not raining! The day of the Volta a Catalunya and pizza

Gravel

This ride was titled ‘So much fun’. True to its name, the route was properly out in the wilds. It was like being a kid again, flying through the trees, off the beaten track, over sand, rocks, tree roots, little bumps, big downhills, a few 20% sections up to navigate, this route had it all! Me and Maria added a few extra KMs going around Banyoles lake, then caught up with Alison and Ruth for the wooded section flying up and down some paths and tracks in the trees.

Grave fun in the almost sun

I’d happily go back and do both of these rides again, and many more for that matter.

Tasty treats to fuel the fire

Hands down, the three things that pop into my head are the seafood pizza at the coast. Totally by chance we found a restaurant overlooking the sea, quite a wonderful location. And all this before we had the surprise of watching the pros in the Volta a Catalunya.

I’ve never eaten a pizza that’s tasted this good!

Second were the cakes at La Fabrica. Nestled in the cobbled streets of old Girona this place is utterly amazing, the cakes are out of this world, and the food is super tasty – perhaps made even more delicious after a five hour ride in the rain when you’ve skipped lunch, and need to replenish the stocks before you face-plant on the pavement. In all seriousness, I highly recommend this café, it tickles and pleasures to all the senses.

La Fabrica

Third were the prawns me and Alison ate on our last gravel day. Me and Helen found this restaurant in the middle of nowhere the day before, I’d eaten a packet of crisps and a chocolate croissant (which was utterly divine) and drank a coke, before we raced the clock back to Girona to get Helen’s bike back to the shop for 5pm – but that’s another story of all together, skipping lunch whilst riding is not wise but does cause hilarity and much resourcefulness. Thankfully, with a minute on our side, our mission was complete and we finished with a fabulous Aperol Aperitz in the Placa de la Independencia, taking in the sunshine – happy days!

A tasty treat in at La Masia Mas Llunes

Making memories

It feels like I’ve been away from home for a long time. In fact, ten days is a long time. We’ve made the most of every minute, hunted out new adventures, taken on new challenges, and discovered new ground – whilst also learning new things about each other, be that bike skills, family history, dance moves, and a host of other quirks to entertain and keep us smiling.

Whether on road or gravel, it has been incredible to cycle through the rolling Girona hills and see the snow-capped Pyrenean mountains in the background… they are in complete contrast to the red poppies and other fauna flowers dancing in the wind and spring blossom popping out on the trees.

Banyoles Lake

This week has thrown everything at us… wind, drizzle, biblical rain, and finally some very welcome sunshine!! The geography here is vast and makes me realise – again – how on top of each other we are in the UK. Of course, most capital cities like London and Paris are busy. In contrast, it’s been great to have ten days away, with the majority spent outside in nature, in fresh air, in the elements, with friends who share a love of the great outdoors making memories to treasure.

Now on our train journey home, we are rolling out of Girona on the TGV towards Perpignan… to the left I can see the snow-capped mountains of Andorra. Funny to think that whilst we’ve been cycling, only a matter of a few kilometres away people are skiing and enjoying the mountains in a completely different way. It seems they spark joy all times of the year for many people – I know they do for me.

A big THANK YOU for all the giggles you gorgeous group of gravel girls ❤️

Alison (Dexy), Ruth (Root), Claire (Lady M), Maria (Magic Doctor), Tricia (Wordle Queen), Helen (Sharpie), Karen (Kamikazi)!

Until next time…

Big thanks to Eat, Sleep, Cycle for the bike hire!

The Three Amigas – Laughter, Love, Life

The Three Amigas – Laughter, Love, Life

There is nothing finer in life than finding your tribe and meeting people that just make your heart sing.

The term The Three Amigas was born on Friday 13th in 2020, when me, Claire and Zoe arrived in Barcelona for a long weekend. Initially the group was more but due to the uncertainty around ‘you know what’ and travel restrictions coming into play, understandably some decided not to travel and to stay at home. However, even with all the daily changes happening at the time, I’m still so happy I made the decision to go as we had the best, most crazy, laughter fuelled 48 hours ever!

I travelled to Barcelona the week after International Women’s Day. That year I was training for a long-distance cycling event, due to take place on Good Friday called the York Arrow (440km, from London to York, inside 29 hours). As part of my training plan my cycling coach Jasmijn Muller, had put the Amesbury Amble in our diaries to ride Sunday 8th March – International Women’s Day. For her it was a walk in the park as she’s super-sonic, for me it was a fun, incredible and super hard day in the saddle. At 315km, and just shy of 3,000 metres of climbing, it was a long day – made harder by the headwind! So, after that, I was really looking forward to chilling and relaxing with my girlfriends in a city I’d never travelled to or explored before.

And as for pedal adventuress this year, I won’t be cycling 315km, but I will be joining an International Women’s Day Zwift session at 6pm (GMT) hosted by Natalie Cresswick, where there will be many Bella Velo ladies joining.

Soul bowl

So why am I writing about Barcelona? Well, in truth, I’m not. But if that trip hadn’t happened, it’s very unlikely that Claire, Zoe and I would have got together two years later for a week in Lanzarote. And it’s fair to say, as expected, we laughed, cried, walked, talked, danced, drank, ate and hit repeat – for a full seven days!

Old school friends, we’ve known each-other for over 30 years having been to middle school together. It’s strange to realise a few decades on, that from the worst school years of my life, I gained two of the most amazing friends. There’s a saying about friendship – ‘Reason, Season, Lifetime’ – these wonderful ladies are most certainly ‘Lifetime’.

Having been together on Friday 13th March 2020 – yes, the day before Barcelona went into lockdown – two years on and with the travel restrictions easing, it was great to BE together once again.

Making memories in Lanzarote was brilliant… we threw ourselves into an Afro Dance class (I won’t be taking to the stage any time soon as my body doesn’t want to do what my mind is telling it), went to some really incredible beaches for walks with Zoe’s dog Jax, relaxed at the spa (I’ve not been to one of those for as long as I can remember), and generally had a really relaxing, fun time BEING together. We crowned Wednesday the new party night, dancing and singing like loons until 3am – I’ve not let rip like that in such a long time. Doing some weird and wonky dance moves and singing at the top of our voices… it felt fantastic!!

The three amigas

This year, for me, the three amigas has a second meaning as it captures three wonderful international women in my life. Meet Claire, Zoe and Adeline.

• Claire, native English, living in France
• Zoe, native English, living in Lanzarote
• Adeline, native French, living in England

Creativity, caring, compassionate – Claire

Claire I’ve known since I was 5 years old. We have some really cute photos of when we were little dressed up as sunflowers – wearing green tights and a long sleeve top with giant yellow petals surrounding our faces. From amateur dramatics as little ones, to middle school, art college, then university in Nottingham where we both studied Textile Design – our paths continued to cross. So much so, I’m godmother to her youngest son Erwan, who’s one of the most adorable, handsome young men you’ll ever meet. I feel truly blessed to have Claire in my life. Always there unconditionally. During good times and tough ones too, we scoop each-other up, give each other strength, and laugh A LOT along the way.

Zeal, zest, zealous – Zoe

Zoe and I met at middle school and we were in the same group of friends. Growing up, the main thing I remember about Zoe was how funny she was and that she was always laughing, always up to mischief and having a giggle. In our late teens there were crazy fancy dress parties with the most incredible outfits made from what we had at home. Her life took her to Lanzarote and our paths drifted – for anyone reading this, if you’re in the land of Lava, do take the time to visit her restaurants – La Cantina (serves the most amazing food and wine) and Esquina (100% Vegan, serves delicious Soul Bowls). You can see Zoe’s creative flair in the styling of both restaurants, in the interior and the menu as she created both. Thankfully our paths reconnected in Barcelona, and more recently we spent a week together in Lanzarote – me, Claire and Zoe.

Audacious, amazing, adventurous – Adeline

Otherwise known to her friends as Adelicious, Adeline and I met about six years ago through coaching at Natural Success and from that point on our paths have continued to merge. We share a love of being arty and creative, plus have a passion for adventure and personal growth. Last summer, with a group of friends, we celebrated her 40th birthday in France where we enjoyed incredible local food, swimming in the pool, sounding in 11th century abbeys, singing in carpool karaoke (minus the celeb), and many other special moments. Bringing our passions together, we are now hosting a group called ‘Creative Conversations’, a 14-week programme to support people who are looking to discover and recover their creative self, following the book The Artist Way, authored by Julia Cameron. Both Claire and Zoe, along with 12 others are participating in the programme.

Adeline & Emma, Ferring Beach, August 2021

Celebrating friendship and magic

Why am I’m celebrating these three beautiful women? Well, that is easy, it’s because they are incredible women and incredible friends. It amazes me how many years can pass in a friendship where sometimes there is little and in some cases no contact, yet the bond is still there. Perhaps it’s because we’ve shared some pivotal moments together, or maybe it’s because there’s an invisible thread that’s never going to break – whatever happens – or how far apart we are geographically in the world. I think it’s magic, in all senses of the word. Magical that we bring out the best in each other, magical that we challenge each other, magical that we listen to each other, magical that we are there for each other unconditionally, and that when together, we talk, laugh, dance and sing like no one is watching.

On this International Women’s Day, I’m wishing all the amazing women in my life much love and magic.

Header photo taken in Lanzarote, February 2022 – Emma, Claire and Zoe

In article image, Ferring Beach, August 2021 – Adeline & Emma

Creative Conversations – Discovering and recovering your creative self

Creative Conversations – Discovering and recovering your creative self

It was 15 or possibly more years ago that I first became aware of the book ‘The Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron. Designed as a 12-week programme, The Artist Way is a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.

The first time I read this book and actively participated in the programme I was in my early 30’s and for some reason I recall feeling a little embarrassed about talking about it. Why? I have no idea… perhaps because of what I thought people may think of me. First time round I read the book solo, diligently reading the chapters week-on-week, and doing the suggested tasks and exercises. Flicking back through the pages, I recall enjoying the process but understand now that I wasn’t fully involved or truly committed to the process.

Fast forward to September 2021 and I get the ‘whisper’ to check my bookshelf, look for this book again, and flick through the pages – I guess hoping for inspiration to strike and it did.

On reflection, I’m sure reading this book and doing the programme solo did create some shifts in me and in how I did things back then. Yet I recall wondering about the power of sharing the experience with a friend or with a like-minded buddy, creating a group with whom I’d be able to bounce ideas around with, share synchronicities, highlight and discuss resistance to certain exercises, and what ‘doing the work’ was creating for me.

Moments of synchronicity

It’s funny that I now spot moments of synchronicity every day. It’s actually strange to think there were so many before but I was blissfully unaware of them. Having heard and acknowledged the ‘whisper’ and found the book in my lounge, I messaged my friend Adeline who I’d been on holiday with in August – the ‘All of you is welcome retreat – and asked her if she’d heard of the book, and if she had, would she consider doing The Artist Way together.

I love the way the book is described on the back cover…

The Artist’s Way helps to demystify the creative process by making it part of your daily life. It tackles your self-doubts, self-criticism and worries about time, money and the support to pursue your creative dream. It has already helped thousands of people to uncover their hidden talents – it can help you, too.

This was back at the end of September, and in the first weeks of October she’d ordered the book, felt similarly inspired to dive into the programme, and so our joint adventure of ‘The Artist Way’ commenced.

Moments of inspiration

Throughout the book, in every chapter, Julia Cameron highlights several quotes. Some resonated more than others. Here’s a selection of those that really caught my attention.

“No amount of skilful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.” – Edward Hopper

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” – Edgar Degas

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” – Linus Pauling

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” – Keshavan Nair

“Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” – Ovid

The power of sharing

If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering ‘Why is she sharing all of this?’. And the answer to that is having gained so much from doing The Artist’s Way a second time, and sharing the experience with Adeline, some of our friends have been asking about what we’re doing as they’ve recognised changes in us, a transformation if you will, in the past few months.

Many people in my friendship groups are interested in personal development, in challenging the norm, experimenting with new structures, and like to try on new behaviours that serve them better than previously held patterns, learnt from years of unconscious conditioning from those around us.

The Artist’s Way gives a fresh perspective. So, in response to friends asking if we’d do the programme again with then, we – myself and Adeline, will join them in supporting and exploring their journey as the new year unfolds.

In real terms, what this means is we’ll host a weekly check-in for those interested in doing The Artist’s Way and are looking to gain from the support and energy working in a group brings. We won’t be offering any advice, but we will hold the space for you to explore and discuss what you’re learning so that what you take away, truly lands and makes a difference in your daily life.

Join our weekly check-in

If you’re keen to find out more drop me and Adeline an email. We plan to start the weekly check-ins on Sunday 6th February, 60 minutes in duration online, 6-7pm GMT, and we’ll host them for 14 weeks. Why 14 weeks? We’ll use week 1 to frame up and make introductions so everyone feels comfortable in the group, weeks 2 – 13 will be for the 12-week programme – each week has a theme and topic as you’ll discover when you purchase and start reading The Artist Way, and in week 14 we’ll do a completion – a process we’ve learnt from our coaching endeavours at Natural Success. This process helps to concretise what’s been learnt and what you want to carry forwards.

A new adventure and refreshed creative ‘you’ await in the wings – take a leap of faith and join us on a journey of creative discovery and recovery.

To find out more email:
– Emma – emma@emmapotter.com
– Adeline – adelinesegaux@gmail.com

Getting started – Sunday 6th Feb 2022

If you’re looking to do things differently in 2022 and have a desire to be more creative in all areas of your life, we would love you to join us! There’s real joy in sharing experiences and learning together.

⭐️ The Artist Way, weekly check-in

⭐️ Sunday evenings, 6-7pm GMT (online / Zoom)

⭐️ 14 weeks, one check-in a week

⭐️ Starts Sunday 6th February 2022

⭐️ Finished Sunday 8th May 2022

⭐️ Find out more by messaging me or Adeline Segaux

⭐️ In return for participating we would ask you to make a donation to Mind – the mental health charity.

The book, The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron, is available to purchase in many book stores, online and on the high street.

With love and creativity,
Emma and Adeline

Photo taken at Goring, West Ferring, Summer 2021

Colour of the year 2022

Colour of the year 2022

Every year in December Pantone announce their ‘Colour of the Year’ for the forthcoming 12 months. This year, breaking with tradition, they have created a totally new colour called Very Peri, ‘a new Pantone colour whose courageous presence encourages personal inventiveness and creativity’.

From a global perspective, in the last two years we have all experienced huge changes in our work lives, our personal lives, how we operate in our homes and what we want our spaces to create for us. What seems to be becoming ever more present is the capacity and ability for colour to communicate, to connect, and elicit subtle yet extremely powerful changes in our behaviour.

What the experts say…

It was interesting to see the article shared by Pantone announcing the Colour of the Year and to read what Laurie Pressmen, Vice President of the Pantone Colour Institute said about Very Peri…

“The Pantone Colour of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that colour can hope to answer”.

Executive chairman of the Pantone Colour Institute says…

“As we move into a world of unprecedented change, the selection of PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri brings a novel perspective and vision of the trusted and beloved blue colour family, encompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time with its violet red undertone, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages creativity and imaginative expressions.”

There are many influences that go into shaping the selection made for the Pantone Colour of the Year from art collections, travel destinations, artists and fashion, to believe it or not, sporting events and technology – who would have thought the latter would even be considered in the process. But it’s technology and digital in particular that have played a huge part in enabling new ways of working in these times, as well as enable the birth of several new entrepreneurial business, both large and small. And especially at a time when people are considering their life choices and how they want to transform and evolve in the year ahead.

The influencing qualities of Very Peri

Looking at the positive effects of this slightly lavender – lilac colour, we can make a connection with spirituality, self-awareness, composure and wisdom. For many our priorities have changed in the past 24 months and colour has the capacity to support our wellbeing and in helping people in making more changes in the 12 months ahead.

Picking up on the positive effects of light blue it’s fair to suggest that Very Peri will encourage and create feelings of calm and serenity. Moreover, blue is a psychological primary colour and affects us mentally, and will often help to give us clarity of thought.

Carrying both positive and negative traits, colour affects us all in ways many would not readily be aware of or even consider. In fact, it affects how we behave more than we realise, as well as influencing those around us in our immediate vicinity. Yet whilst colour subtly shifts and influences our behaviour, our choices, and what’s happening subconsciously around us, we all will relate to colour differently – through personal, cultural and psychological associations.

Colour, emotion and action

In addition to trend forecasts, and consultation with global brands, I believe it’s the psychology of colour that plays the most influential role in choosing the ‘Colour of the Year’ and changing our emotions. It’s what people feel, it’s how they connect with colour that drives change, that drives new behaviours, that causes people to make new, different choices that are more in alignment with their true authentic selves.

At a time when people need serenity and calm, coupled with inspiration and creativity, perhaps Very Peri will be the colour that creates emotions that people can’t ignore – turning these emotions into action. Perhaps this colour will inspire the change that people want to see in many areas of their lives – not only personally and in their work life – but in now they connect with themselves and others – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

For me, I find Very Peri calming and centring. It may not be the colour I’d choose to paint my kitchen and dining room as it may suppress my appetite (not necessarily a bad thing after Christmas), but it would possibly be a good choice for a bedroom or a space I wanted to just ‘be’ or to meditate to encourage awareness and allow whispers of wisdom to appear.

Header image – Photo by Sonny Sixteen from Pexels

Autumn Adventures – Playing in the Lakes with Vinnie

Autumn Adventures – Playing in the Lakes with Vinnie

This Autumn I wanted to strike out and go on another Vinnie Adventure before Winter truly arrived. Over the summer various friends had been up to Cumbria, the Peak District and into the Lakes and I began to feel the beginnings of a plan being hatched.

Being fuelled by the attraction of discovering new places and walking on new ground – well for me at least – I found myself checking out some new spots around Windermere. A big lover of my name-sake Miss Beatrix Potter, there was a natural pull to visit Hill Top and remind myself of all the ground breaking things this extraordinary lady did in her time. Back then women were not championed in carving their own path, they were expected to stay home, choose a husband and marry ‘well’ (whatever that means), and fall into what society expected of them. But Miss Potter was different – she had a love of nature, drawing, and painting, and she had a vivid imagination that conjured up the most amazing stories like ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck’, ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin’ and many more.

I’m not too sure why I’m sharing this now – but I guess I’ve just noticed a synchronicity that it was Barbara Hepworth that inspired my trip down to Cornwall, and it was Miss Potter that inspired my trip to the Lakes. Both extraordinary women do extraordinary things.

Honister Pass – Valley View

If it was not for Potters imagination, her following her passion, and writing her wonderful books that I loved as a child – we may not have been able to enjoy the Lake District as we are able to today. She preserved the landscape, the geography of the land, and in doing so, has enabled thousands, in fact more like millions of people to enjoy this luscious, mountainous, and adventurous part of our country.

So, whilst many politicians are busy knocking the great out of Great Britain, I wanted to experience something that is truly great about Britain – and for me, that’s the landscape in the Lake District.

Borrowdale and Honister Pass – exploring new territory

The last time I was in the Lakes was about seven or eight years ago over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Back then I’d joined a lovely guy I was dating at the time on a walking weekend near Windermere and we’d all stayed in a beautiful youth hostel. For this autumnal trip it was the middle of November, and it was a particularly soggy week, so I got online to check out which YHAs naturally caught my attention as I figured I may want alternative accommodation to Vinnie – my van. It was Borrowdale YHA that immediately jumped out and caught my attention. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it initially, but on arrival I think it was its remoteness as it literally is in the middle of nowhere, and only a few kilometres from Honister Pass – a cheeky little number I had in mind to cycle over.

Honister Pass – Slate Mine

Following my motto of ‘seize the day’ on arrival I took the decision to get into my lycra and set off on a two-wheeled adventure. Typical of me, I’d read a little (but not enough to put me off). So, 5 km into my ride I found myself going up Honister Pass! For those that don’t know, this is a long drag of a hill, that ramps fairly swiftly up to 25% and more. Laying as flat as possible over my handlebars to stop my front wheel bouncing off the tarmac as I continued to ride, I soon rose through the mist and arrived at the summit of the climb. Even in the wet, soggy, grey mist it was a beautiful, panoramic view.

Honister Pass before I drop down into the mist!

What also became quickly apparent was the acute drop the other side! Not only was it narrow, wet and slippery, it was 26% and more, but this time downhill. Too steep to whizz down without touching my brakes, and watching the time as I wanted to get back to Borrowdale YHA before nightfall, I slowly set off with my brakes musically echoing around the hills.

Borrowdale YHA and my little wooden pod

My cycle ride took me all around the rolling lanes and after 60km or so I cycled through Keswick and then back to my home for the evening. As the rain drilled down and wind whirled through the trees, I was relieved and pleased that I’d had the foresight to book myself a little wooden cabin. Nestled in the green entrance to Borrowdale these basic yet cosy pods sleep two, they have no running water or the convenience of a loo, but they are warm, comfortable and quiet which made me feel more up close and personal with Mother Nature. Not only that, I was able to enjoy the heat of a roaring log fire in the communal area of the hostel and chat with fellow adventurers before I retired for the evening, and to what turned into a 12-hour sleep.

Friendship, laughter and play – a hat-trick of happiness!

Going up ‘North’ also gave me the opportunity to catch up with a couple of lovely girlfriends I’ve known for many years but have not seen for some time. At the beginning of my trip, I caught up with Fiona. I met Fi, at University in Nottingham where we were both studying Textile Design – Fi focused on construction in ‘knit’, and I focused on surface pattern in ‘print’. We studied together for three years and also lived together for two and a half years. In that time, we made hundreds of amazing memories, laughed lots, skied lots, drank lots, and danced lots. This time round it was a little calmer as our time was quite compact and it was wonderful to sit down for dinner, catch up on many of the incredible life events that have happened in the time we’d not connected, and it felt like no time had lapsed at all.

On the tail end of my trip, I caught up with Heather, a fabulous and vivacious young lady that I met doing my one and only ski season in 1999-2000. Both finding ourselves in Courchevel 1850, in the Haute Savoire region in France, we worked for different ski companies, yet we bonded over drinks and playing games in the Jump Bar, chatting about boys that had caught our attention, and enjoyed many swooshes down the slopes over our five months in our snow bubble. In the 21 years that have passed we’ve lived in different places, worked different jobs, enjoyed several beach adventures on the south coast, and now I’m getting to join her husband and her family of three wonderful boys in the gorgeous home in countryside. From collecting the boys from school and walking in the woods, to creating pirate ships out of lounge room furniture and exploring new villages – it was a blissful, whistle stop tour and I loved every second.

Heather and I – Lovely!

What was wonderful about seeing both of these brilliant ladies was that it seemed like only yesterday since I’d seen them last. There’s a saying I heard, I can’t remember when, but it’s about friendship – it’s either for a reason, a season, or a lifetime – I’m very happy to say that both Fi and Heather are ‘lifetime’.

The seasons are changing, a new chapter awaits!

As we pass the winter solstice – the day with the fewest hours of daylight – we move into a new chapter. With everyday there will be a glow on the horizon as the days slowly lengthen and we move towards the new year, then springtime. I did have plans to watch the solstice sunrise but for one reason or another (Covid) I was unable to be outside. So, as the new year begins to unfold, I’ll be making an extra special effort to enjoy many a sunrise – be that near my home in south London, or further afield on more adventures in Vinnie. I’m excited to see what the new year has in store for me.

No doubt there will be much laughter, love and enjoyment of this beautiful journey we call ‘life’. Let also the new year be a celebration of doing things differently and carving my own path.

The last glimpse of daylight before night time arrived.

‘IF’ – The poem in the slate

This state stone has the word ‘IF’ carved into it, it’s located at the top of Honister Pass. For those that don’t know, ‘IF’ is a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling. The slate captures the first two sections only, so I’ve captured the full poem below.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

‘IF’ – Rudyard Kipling