Thinking about those less fortunate!

Last week I got a text from a delivery company to say the wine I’d ordered from Slimline Wine was being delivered ! I was so excited ! As I left work I had a smile on my face.

As I started my walk to the train station, I passed my first homeless person!

I see many homeless everyday on my walk to and from the train station.  It is so sad to see so many of them.  Mostly men, but sometimes women too.

It goes through my mind every time I see them, why are they here?  Some, I know have mental health problems, other have fallen on hard times.  But what is the story for the others.

I’m going home to a lovely warm house, food on the table (well when I cook it there will be), and my latest wine order!  When did these people last have that?

As the temperature drops, I can’t believe they would choose this to a home indoors ? Who would, so why are they here?

I do try to support them as much as I can.  The odd £1 here, a sandwich or cup of tea there.  I do try to avoid giving money, as I know some would use it for drugs or alcohol, but not all.  If I am popping into a shop and I see one of them outside, I will add something extra to my shopping, to give them.

As I pass them each day, I wonder how many of them feel invisible?  How many people have walked past them that day and not even acknowledged them?

On this particular day, I’m rushing home to get my train.  Suddenly, I stop myself in my tracks.  I know, on my journey home, I am going to see some people who won’t have that luxury of a bottle of nice wine tonight.  They probably won’t even have a bed.  I feel very selfish.  I turn around and head to the local Tesco shop by where I work.

Inside I look around.  There are still a good amount of sandwiches available.  I decide to pick out a few packs.

On the way to the station, as I pass a homeless person I offer them a sandwich.  The first ones got a choice.  You can’t imagine the excitement of the first man, when he saw the tuna sandwich.  It made me feel so humble.

As I continued my journey, I passed out sandwiches.  As I reached the station I still had 1 pack left.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Then I saw a pile in a door way which obviously belonged to a homeless person.  I gently placed the last sandwich down on an old sleeping back.  It should be a nice surprise for when they return.

I appreciate that not everyone is able to do what I did.  I certainly couldn’t afford to do it every day.  There are far too many homeless people around to make an impact on my own.  What is important though, is that we do what we can.  It doesn’t have to cost us anything.  A simple hello or smile is free.

We might not realise it, but that simple acknowledgement could mean everything for that person.

I also try and give them items of warm clothing, hats and gloves.  Rather than put in a charity bags, I like to know I’m making a direct difference to someone.

If you are trying to lose weight and have chocolate or biscuits you don’t want, why not pass it on to them?  They would appreciate anything.  Everyone I have spoken to, or helped has been so grateful and polite.

A couple of years ago I got to know a lovely young man and his dog, who were homeless. He never wanted money, but was always so grateful for a cup of tea or something to eat.

He was partially blind. He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have an address !

One day, someone decided to set up a ‘Just Giving’ page for him. The aim was to get enough money together to get him a little place to live. People donated as much as they could afford . Others provided donations such as old plates etc. The smallest of donation all added up.

Very soon he was off the streets and safe!

Unfortunately, not everyone on the street is so lucky .

So the next time you see someone who is homeless, don’t put your head down and ignore them.  Say hello.  Give them a smile.

The small things in life can make a huge difference.

Advertisements

Wear your poppy with pride!

This Sunday marks 100 years since the end of the first world war.  It is hard for me to really imagine what it was like to live all those years ago, but one thing is for sure, every day, I am grateful for the sacrifice that was made back then.

The war began on 28 July 1914.

I remember when the Falklands War started on 2 April 1982. Argentina invaded the Falkland islands over who should own it.  It only lasted 74 days.  I was 13 at the time.  I had only really known about war from our history lessons and what I had read.  I remember feeling a bit scared of what it would mean.  Would my dad have to go off and fight?  Would our house get destroyed?   Everything was going through my head.  Thankfully for us, this war didn’t really impact on us day by day.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for WW1.  Back on that awful day in 1914, the lives of millions of people changed overnight and forever.

The war started because Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnan wife Sophie of Austria was assassinated.   Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary. The assassination was planned by a Serbian terrorist group, called The Black Hand.  The man who shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife was a Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, it triggered a chain of events that resulted in World War 1.  After the assassination, Austria-Hungary threatened war on Serbia. They set out some very high demands that Serbia must meet. Germany sided by Austria-Hungary, while Russia sided with the Serbians. At this point, Europe was at the brink of going to war.

One month after the assassination, on July 28 1914 ,Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia with the backing of Germany. Germany then declared war on Russia on August 1, and on France on August 3.

On August 4 1914, the German troops marched on France and the route they took went through Belgium. Since Britain had agreed to maintain the neutrality of Belgium, they immediately declared war on Germany.

British and Germany forces first fought at the Battle of Mons in Belgium. This was the first of many battles between Britain and Germany on the Western Front and is when World War 1 started for Britain.

There were 2 sides to the war.  The Triple Ententes (Allied Forces) which was us here in Britain, France, Ireland and Russia.  The other side was known as Central Powers which was Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Many of the countries involved in the first World War had problems with each other before the war, but when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed,  Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Germany declared war on Russia and France not long after.  This followed more and more countries joining in the fight.

The United States didn’t get involved at first, but after a British passenger ship was sunk by a German submarine, killing 128 Americans, pressure from American citizens caused the US government to get involved.   The President at that time, Woodrow Wilson, wanted to avoid a bloody war, but the Germans declared that they would sink any ship that came to Britain.  Woodrow, had no option, but to enter the war to help Europe restore peace

In total 32 countries became involved in the war, including China, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Japan, Montenegro, Liberia, Romania and Portugal.

Over 65 million soldiers went to war.  Over 8 million of them never returning.  Another 21 million were injured.  Those that did return, must have seen and heard some horrific things in their time.  They would never come home the same person as they left!

Conscription

Britain soon realised that they couldn’t continue fighting with just the current voluntary recruits.

You may remember from your history books, Lord Kitchener’s campaign – promoted by his famous “Your Country Needs You” poster.  It was quite successful.  Many men were proud of their country and wanted to fight for it.  Over one million men had enlisted by January 1915.  But this was not enough.  We had already had many casualties.  More men were needed.

The government decided it had no choice.  It had to increase the numbers of soldiers.  The only way to do this was through conscription – compulsory active service.  Parliament was divided but they knew that the French army were suffering, they had no choice.

In January 1916 the Military Service Act was passed. This forced conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, but exempted the anyone deemed medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker.

Men who refused to fight on moral grounds (Conscientious objectors), were also exempt, but were given civilian jobs or non-fighting roles at the front.

A second Act passed in May 1916 extended conscription to married men.

Conscription was not applied to Ireland because of the 1916 Easter Rising however many Irishmen volunteered to fight.

Some boys even lied about their age, to be able to fight for King and Country.  The youngest British soldier was in fact only 12.    Sidney Lewis was one of 250,000 underage soldiers.   Sadly for some, it wasn’t always to have the privilege to fight for King and Country.  For some it was to escape their lives.  How desperate must they have been to feel this was their only option.

You can imagine, this was not popular with some people.  In April 1916, there were demonstrations in Trafalgar Square.  Many men initially didn’t go when they were called up.  In the first year though 1.1 million had enlisted.

The age limit was increased in 1918 to 51.  Even though the war ended in 1918, conscription continued until  1920.  In total, conscription increased the army by 2.4 million.

Can you imagine your father or brother coming home one day, and getting their paper to go to war?  They would have heard what was going on.  They knew that they were possibly going to their death.  As a wife or mother, watching your husband and sons leave, never knowing if they would return.  I’m emotional just thinking about it now.

They could of course write to each other.  In fact over 12 million letters were sent during the war.  Many men were away for many years.  Missing out on seeing their children grow up.  The letters and photos they were sent must have been so precious to them.

Thankfully for Britain, 9 out of 10 soldiers returned.  Sadly, when you know how many died, the same can’t be said for other countries.

Why did the War end?

Britain had blocked all the ports in Germany with its Naval boats.  Germans were starving as supplies couldn’t come through, and their economy was collapsing.  Protestors started asking for the war to end.  Pressure was falling on them.  Something had to change.

The emperor at the time, Kaiser Wilhelm II decided to step down on 9 November 2018.  2 days later, the leaders of both sides met at Compiegne in France.  Here they signed the peace armistice.

Although we celebrate the end of the war on 11 November at 11 am, when it was signed and the fighting stopped, the war didn’t officially end until 28 June 2019.  This was exactly 5 years after Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

It took 6 months to negotiate the peace treaty before the Treaty of Versailles was finalised.  In this, Germany had to accept full responsibility for starting the war.  They had to surrender their territories and colonies as well as reduce the size of its armies.

Why do we wear a poppy?

We wear a poppy to remember those who have given their lives in battle.  It is said that the poppy was the first flower that grew on the battlefields after World War I ended. It is said that the red of the poppy, is from the blood that filled battlefields.

In the spring of 1915,  after losing his friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was so inspired by the sight of poppies growing in battlefields, he decided to write a poem – ‘In Flanders Fields’. This poem is now famous. Read it and see what you think.  It really captures the feeling, don’t you think?

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

From then on, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.

How should you wear it?  It varies, whoever you speak to!  Some say men should wear it on the left, and women on the right, like you would a badge or brooch. The Queen wears hers on the left, so maybe not! There are also many people who say that the leaf should point to 11 o’clock.   Whatever the correct way of wearing it is, the important thing is that we do wear it and know why!

You may not know those men who went off and fought for us, but if you dig around in your family history enough, you will find someone in your family that was effected.  Even if you don’t, those brave men fought so you could have the life you have today.

There have been many more wars since this one.  Many more have died because of War,  The poppy is to remember them all.

A couple of years ago I bought my husband a very special poppy from the British Legion.  It was made out of a bullet shell that had been found in the fields in France from the Somme.  With it came a certificate to commemorate a soldier who died.  We don’t know him.  It doesn’t matter.  He still died for us.

My husband wears it every year with pride.

We shall remember

From July to November 2004,  the Tower of London with covered in 888,246 ceramic poppies.  They were created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper.  They were to remember the first full day of  Britain’s involvement in WW1.  Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was an emotional tribute to all that fought.  My hubby and I both bought one each so we can always look at them and remember.

As in many towns and cities, Warwick too have a display in the main church of St Mary’s.  All the poppies are hand knitted or crochet.  Its amazing how many hours have gone into this.  Some have been sent from countries across the world.  My hubby, stepdaughter and I went for a visit to see it recently.  A church seems the perfect place for it.   If you get a chance, please go and visit this or any other display.

At 11 am on Sunday their will be a 2 minute silence to remember all the fallen soldiers.  What ever you are doing at that time, stop!  Take 2 minutes out of your life to remember!  I always shed a tear.  Writing this blog has raised the same emotion!

Don’t let those brave men and women have died in vain.  Keep them alive in our hearts.  All of them!

The Curse of Strictly!

Ok, is it me, or is this curse just a modern way of covering up 2 people whose relationships are in trouble, spend time with someone else, then act on it?

You may say I’m looking at it all too simply, but lets look at the facts!

I used to do a lot of Salsa dancing.  I loved it.  I even went on Salsa holidays, which were not holidays in the sense you know it.  From the time you woke up to early evening, it was Salsa/Latin classes.  A quick dinner, shower and change before we headed off to a club for the evening, to yes, you guessed it, dance Salsa until the early hours of the morning.

I suppose the main difference for me, was that you danced with a variety of men during the week.  The whole point was to dance with as many different people, of different levels, to improve your dancing.

When I met my husband, I stopped dancing.  Not because he asked me to.  He was happy for me to continue, as he knew how much I loved it.  It was because I didn’t feel comfortable going out each weekend, dancing very intimately with other men.  I don’t mean intimately in a sexual way, but Salsa/Latin dances, do require you to be very close to your partner.  Especially my favourite dance – the Batchata!

If my hubby had come with me, it would have been different, but if anyone knows him, even watching it, would be his worst nightmare!

So going back to the curse!

These celebrities are spending around 7 hours a day, for around 4 months with each other!  Of course they are going to get close.  Who wouldn’t?  But is it a curse that will kill their relationships?  I don’t believe so!

Lets look at who has been allegedly struck by the curse in the past:-

Kevin Clifton & Louis Rednap (2016)
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice(2015)
Ben Cohen & Kristina Rihanoff (2013)
Rachel Riley & Pasha Kovalev (2013)
Matt Di Angelo & Flavia Cacace (2010)
Joe Calzaghe & Kristina Rihanoff (2009
Natasha Kaplinsky & Brendan Cole (2004)

Strictly 2018 is no different with Seann Walsh and his dance partner Katya Jones taking the spotlight for more than their dancing, and more recently, and probably not so high profile, it is said that Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell are now intimate.

So it is the curse of strictly?

In my opinion no!

There are more couples out there dancing the same hours, with the same intimacy, who don’t go on to have affairs or relationships.

Anton De Beke has been there from the beginning.  I’ve danced with him outside of the show, and believe me, he has massive charisma.  A firm bum and is not bad looking!  So why has he not been struck down with the curse?

Why have others not been either?

For me its simple!  They are in a good strong relationship or good place in their lives.  Ok, in Anton’s defence, some of his earlier dance partners were certainly not his or anyones type! But with beauties like Ruth Langsford, he could have been tempted, but he wasn’t, and neither was she!

I firmly believe, it isn’t a curse.  Its 2 people, who do have an attraction. It may be infatuation, brought on by the time they are spending together, but they would only act on it, if they had cracks in their own relationships.

If either of them were in solid relationships, this ‘curse’ wouldn’t happen.

The sad thing is, that due to the heavy schedule, instead of trying to fix their own relationships, they embark on these affairs.  Why they think they are going to get away with it, heaven knows.  Cameras are going to follow them everywhere!

I would rather they had a honest conversation with their partners before entering the show.  If either have doubts, and they think they have something to save, they shouldn’t go into it.

No amount of money can replace a good relationship!

You might not get the call from Strictly, but before embarking on a 1 night stand, or an affair, ask yourself why you are doing it?   Is it worth losing what you have?

If the relationship is truly over, end it.  Don’t have the affair and hurt others by along he way.

There is no curse, just bad choices!

 

 

Oh what a night!

Aaahhhh! Sometimes I get so frustrated ! Take the other night. What should have been a 10 minutes drive, turned into 2 hours in my car and not actually going anywhere!

So what happened ! Traffic happened !

I planned to go and visit my parents after working at home.  Between my house and theirs, is an island which leads you to a motorway, a bypass, and two other roads leading to Warwick and Stratford Upon Avon! There had been an accident northbound on the motorway at our junction, which brought the motorway to a standstill!

It’s amazing how much traffic a motorway takes. You only realise this when all those cars then try to find other routes to get to their destination!

Initially, I started off down my usual road.  As I said above, it should only take about 10 minutes, maybe 15 when its busy.  It involves 2 main roads, but they are usually moving!

I knew I was in trouble, when only minutes into my journey, I came to a standstill!  After about 15 minutes of not moving more than a few inches, I decided it might be a fabulous idea, to do a U-turn back into the village, and go up the back road!  Perfect!  Or so I thought!

What I hadn’t thought about, is that the thousand of cars that wanted to go northbound, had also left the motorway earlier on, and had used the same back roads!

An hour later, I was no further getting to my parents that I was when I left home!

Now, I am usually quite resilient.  Its the evening, so apart from cooking dinner, I’m not under a strict clock to get to my parents.  I say that, but then when you factor other drivers, that goes out of the window.

To help me through the boredom of sitting in a traffic, I decided to speak to my brother using my hands free phone.  We are not moving at this time.  We haven’t moved for a while.  Then for some unknown reason, I hear a car horn behind me!  Now, I don’t know if it was the direct car behind me, or the one behind him, but come on!  The car in front of me is only inches away from me.  The car in front of him the same, and so on.  What did they want us to do?   If that didn’t wind me up enough, 5 minutes later, they started doing it again!  I mean, what planet were they on?  The only way I or any other car could move, was to open the boot of the car in front and get in!

It’s time like this, I wish I was brave enough to get out of my car, and ask them, politely of course, what they feel hitting the horn was achieving!  The spot I am in, has views of the 3 roads ahead.  All of them are at a stand still too!  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out, that no-one is not moving just for fun!

At this point, by brother persuades me to turn around and head back home, which is actually a fabulous idea!

There is an island in front of me so I edge myself towards it.  I mean, I am now going to be going against the traffic.  In theory, I should be able to get around the island and do a U-turn.  Oh, that would be too easy!  It would actually mean someone would have to use their common sense.  Something, that once you get behind the wheel of your car, in a traffic jam, goes!

I’m at the Island.  Its taken me some time to get here, don’t get me wrong, but I am here!  Traffic is backed up, because the 3 roads off it are at a standstill.  The only exit that is free, is the one I want to go back up the road!

So I am there, i’m excited that I could soon be on a road which is moving!  That was short lived.  The car to my right on the Island is in the lane that wants to go to the exit that isn’t moving,  sees me and moves forward and blocks my entry onto the island!

Seriously, why would you do that!  I’m now stuck again! Great!

After some time, the traffic has moved enough for me to get through.  Yey! No!  The car to my left decides she is going to cut across me to get onto the motorway!  Thankfully, I’m going so slow, I can stop to prevent us from colliding!   I tell myself, it’s ok, she obviously wants to get out of the traffic too and is doing a U-turn, so taking this opportunity to do this!  I’m annoyed, but I get it!

That would be too simple wouldn’t it!

What actually happened is, she thought it would be a good way to get through the traffic onto the road she wanted, rather than sit in the correct lane.  She now realises, she can’t.  What she has now done, is stop anyone else getting around the island to escape this madness, including me!

So once again, I am stuck there until the traffic has moved enough to give me room to get by!  I was tempted to drive on the grass around the Island, but I thought better of it!

I decide to relax and stay calm!

Finally I am free!  I call my hubby and leave a message to say i’m coming back home.  I should home soon as I am now going against the traffic!

Happily, i’m singing along to the radio.  Then I see the car lights in front of me!  They are not moving!  Aaaah.  It seems every other car has decided to turn around!

Thankfully, there is no-one on the horn, or cutting me up!  I’m just sat there!

After 2 hours, I finally see my village.

I am now very stressed and frustrated.  Not because I have been in traffic.  I had my radio, had made some calls, and it had given me some time to have some thinking time.  Usually these are positives.  No, the reason I am stressed, is because I still can’t believe the behaviour of drivers!

I fully appreciate, that everyone has probably had a long day at work, and just want to get home.  The reality is, there has been an accident.  Someone at best has been hurt, at worst died!  They are healthy and safe in their cars! Getting road rage, or doing stupid things to get to your destination sooner that isn’t practical, isn’t going to help.

The next time  you are stuck in a jam, think about what you are doing, and the impact of others around you!  Everyone is in the same boat as you.  Use the time to reflect on your day, plan something, make calls to those people you have been promising to speak to (only if you can do so hands free though).

If you have children at home waiting for you to read them a story,  can you do it hands free over the phone.  I know you won’t have a book with you, just make it up!  Use the situation you are in to inspire you!

There is nothing you or anyone else can do to change the situation you are in.  Turn it into a positive.   You never know, you may feel better about the situation too!

Menopause

Today at a work away day, myself and other fellow managers attended a session on the subject of the Menopause!

Of all the subjects you would expect to be on the agenda, that certainly wasn’t one of them! It was quite funny seeing some of the men around the rooms expression, when they first saw it!

Being a women who was pre-menopausal from 45, and is now post menopausal, I was quite interested!

What was even more interesting, was the reaction of other ladies in the room! There were those of us in the room who absolutely could tell a few stories, in particular about the hot flushes, and those too young, but who were a little unsure or even nervous about it!

My husband is a manager for the same company, so for me it was a great opportunity to get him to fully understand why I need that fan on at night!

So who will suffer from the menopause?

The simple answer is any women!  Women from the age of 45-55 will start to experience the menopause.  The average age is about 51, but 1 in 100 women will get it before they reach 40.

The menopause is caused by a reduction of oestrogen in the body, and is a natural form of ageing!  Things such as cancer, radiation or chemotherapy, and hysterectomies can bring the symptoms on early.

You may have heard of women being ‘on the change’ in times gone by?  I suppose we are, as our bodies are changing!

Pre-menopausal

This is the first stage!  Its also known as perimenopausal, and is when the body starts producing less eostrogen.

Post Menopausal

You are classed as post menopausal, if you haven’t had a period for 12 months. This includes spotting, however light that may be!

So what are the symptoms?

Every women’s symptoms will vary, but below is a list of what you could expect:

  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of memory
  • Emotional
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy periods
  • Bloating
  • Hot flushes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Cystitis
  • Low Mood

Symptoms can start months or even years before periods stop, and can last for 4-8 years.  Although it can last many years longer!  I have friends who have had hot flushes for well over 10 years!

Every women will have different degrees of symptoms.  Some of them so extreme, it will impact on their day to day life.

What can you do to help relieve the symptoms?

This will vary, depending on the severity and type of symptom!

For me, it has been the night sweats and hot flushes.   I need to sleep with the fan on! I’ve even been known to stand outside naked in the snow to cool off! Don’t worry I had no neighbours then!

I also wear layers, so I can strip off more easily!

Memory loss has also been a bit of a problem, but that has been in short spurts!  At one time, I thought I was having the start of dementia!  I now make sure I put everything in my diary.  I make lists and keep notes of important things.  Now I have learned to recognise what it is, I’m more relaxed.

I think its important to understand that every women will go through, in some shape or form the same as you, so don’t be afraid to laugh it off, or talk about it!

A good diet and exercise will also help you, but if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to discuss the symptoms with your doctor.  They may be able to prescribe HRT or offer other support.  Unfortunately, as I had breast cancer when I was 42, I am not able to have HRT, as it is believed to increase my chances of getting it again.  Don’t let that put you off talking to your doctor.  Everyone’s symptoms are different.  They will be able to give you lots of advice and tips.

I have even see recipes to help with symptoms.  I’ve never tried them myself, but I do know someone who has and felt that they worked for her.

So why did we have a session on it today at work?

It’s probably not what you would expect on an agenda, but I have to say, I was so pleased it was.  I don’t think I heard anyone (and there were over 100 managers there today) walk out of the session, with anything but praise for it.

It’s important in the work place for managers to recognise and support staff who may be going through the menopause!  If they are not confident to raise it with them, at least know who else could.

You could be a really solid member of staff, but if you are struggling to sleep due to night sweats, your concentration dips, or you are having any of the other symptoms, it could impact on your performance.  By dealing with it openly, reasonable adjustments can be made.

I hadn’t thought about it until today, but most women hit the menopause at the same time as they are at the peak of their careers.  When you have worked so hard to achieve success, it would be a shame to think, it would be impacted by something brought on by mother nature.

So if you know a women who is being different to normal, think about why that might be?  Talk to them and offer them support!  They will really thank you for it!

Let the train take the strain!

 

Does anyone else remember that advert from 1988? It was launched to encourage us to take the train, instead of blocking our roads up with cars!

I was commuting by train back then. Whilst it was 30 years ago, from personal experience, public transport hasn’t improved!

I don’t know whether it’s the demand that has increased, or the fact that the rail companies haven’t kept up with the demand!

Back then, I used to do a 45 minute trip into Birmingham. I always got a seat, and in fact, there was a group of us that used to meet up along the journey, and still be able to sit together.

We had quite a little community going on. We would do crosswords, competitions and in cold days, the guard used to share his tea flask with us!

I may be seeing those days through rose tinted glasses, but I don’t remember it being late or cancelled that often at all! Certainly, not that busy either!

After a 19 year break, where I used to drive to work, I once again in 2012, joined the thousands of others commenting by train!

So why should we all ‘be letting the train take the strain’ still some 30 years later? Well the simple answer is, that the Climate Change Act of 2008, set a long term framework for us to reduce greenhouse gas within the UK.  The Government needs to reduce it by at least 34% by 2020, and 80% in 2050, based on the levels in 1990.

To achieve this, they need more and more of us to ditch our cars, and take public transport.  As a commuter, that is easier said than done!

I for one, cannot get to work without some form of car travel.  Where I live, I would first of all have to walk about 15 minutes to the nearest bus stop.  From there, I would have to catch 2 buses, which takes just under an hour to the train station.  I then would catch a train for a 45 minute journey.  In total, to get to work it would take me over 2 hours, including then the walk to the office from the station.

I currently drive to the station, which reduces my travel time to approximately 1.5 hours each way per day!  To add an extra hour each day on an already 3 hours daily commute, just isn’t practical, or good for a work, home life balance.

Cost is also a factor.  At the moment, we are paying each day to travel by train to work.  It is £7.30 each day.  This is with us driving 14 miles to the station.  Thankfully, the car park is free.  It is not so at other stations!

If we went from our closest station, we would face £1000 a year more in train costs, plus £8.90 per day to park the car!  We would still have to drive there, so there is a petrol and emission cost!

When you get the train, there is certainly no relaxing for us either!  It definately doesn’t take the strain for us!  Wherever we catch the train, the following factors come into play:

  • Is the train on time?
  • Is the train running
  • How busy is it going to be?
  • Will the journey be terminated part way?
  • Who will I have to sit next to, or stand next to?
  • Am I going to pick up any coughs, colds etc from fellow commuters

Sadly, all of the above will come into play more frequently than you would think.

Our morning commute is on a 4 carriage train.  It is packed everyday.  You don’t get a seat, unless you are very lucky to be standing next to someone who is getting off at another stop!

When you are standing, you are being pushed against the next person also standing.  You often don’t have anything to hold onto, so when it hits a point or goes round the corners, you are thrown into the person next to you.

If you have got a seat, you are also not always lucky, as the persons standing will be on top of you, falling on you occasionally, or treading on you!  Then there is the size of the seats.  On the 6 seat section, space is extremely tight for the average size person.  You struggle to move your arms in fear of knocking the person next to you!

Don’t think you can get on, and pull your laptop out and work, or read a book!  Oh no, that would take space and comfort.  The best you can hope for is to play Candy Crush or read the news on your phones!

And don’t get me started on some of the behaviours of some commuters!   My most annoying is the person who walks through the crowded train, looking for an empty seat!  Of course, there must be one free with hundreds of us standing. Not!

What about the person wearing the headphones, whose music is so loud, we can all hear it!

Then there is the person who can see we are all like sardines, but still shouts into the train ‘can you move down please’!  I feel like shouting back ‘would you like us to get into the storage shelf’ as that is usually the only place where you might find a gap!

Even on crowded trains, some people don’t have volume control when talking either on the phone or face to face!  I have over the years heard many conversations, from whether someone should have sex with their boyfriend, or more recently,  a school girls asking her friend how to get him to have sex with her, to someone telling their friend about the guy they were having an affair with them.  Unfortunately for them, the friend of the women he was married to was also on the train!  I’d love to know how that story ended!

Long distance travel is no better!

Last year, I decided to take the train to Darlington for work. It’s about a 4 hour drive for me and takes a tank of petrol, so about £60.  Everyone said to me, I should take the train and relax, rather than the stress of driving!  Never again!

I had a 1.5 hour trip to the station to get the connecting train to Darlington.  Then a 3 hour train trip.   Yes I had a reserved seat, but the table was too small to even contemplate getting my laptop out!  My suitcase was miles away, so anything of value had to be at my feet, as the overhead shelf was too small.

I did a vlog on the experience at the time.  You can see my experience here!

The cost of the fare was about £140.

I had a reserved seat on the way back too.  When I went to my seat, it was taken by a pushchair.  The whole trip home, I had a newborn child crying next to me!

Was I relaxed when I got home – NO!  The next trip there I drove!

If the government wants us to use public transport more, they really need to start working with the transport companies.  Everyone I know who commutes, wherever they live, all have the same issues.

We need more carriages, competitive pricing, more trains and please keep the parking free!  Or if they do need to charge, again at a reasonable price!  Oh and it they could be on time that would be even better!  Maybe then, we may be more likely to let the train take the strain!

 

Be Kind!

Back in March this year, This Morning on ITV supported the ‘Be Kind’ campaign. It was targeted at children and parents to prevent bullying, and the sad consequences to their mental health !  In extreme situations even causing them to take their own lives.

With the use of the internet, it is far easier for people to bully others.  Most communication is carried out by email, text or social media.  You can now bully someone without seeing the direct consequences, or even caring.

Children often find it hard to know how to deal with bullies, or even tell them about it.  There are a lot of support groups out there now which help parents and teachers deal with this.  Its a terrible thought that we even have to consider this, but if we don’t tackle childhood bullying, it can lead to them continuing to bully others into their adulthood!

Lets first deal with What is a bully?

It’s someone who attempts to control another person through verbal abuse.  This can be the tone of their voice or the content such as teasing or threats.  Bullying can occur anywhere, in the workplace, school, home and clubs.  It can be carried out by anyone whatever their relationship with you.

Why do people bully?

There can be many reasons why people bully.  If you understand the reason behind it, it may help you deal with it.  The main reasons are:-

  1. The person may have been bullied before.
    Whilst this isn’t an excuse, if they have grown up with bullies, they may follow suit, as it is all that they have known.
  2. They are lonely.
    If they feel they are not important and have no-one in their lives, they may be seeking attention.
  3. They have personal problems.
    If they have personal problems this could impact on their own behaviours.  They may be more aggressive than usual.
  4. They have low self-esteem.
    What better way to make yourself feel better than to try and put someone else down!  Bullies with low self-esteem will try and find a weakness in someone.  They will fish to find what they think they can use against them.  Unfortunately, this can backfire if the victim is someone who is actually stronger!
  5. They are jealous.
    There can be many reasons for the jealousy, an ex has moved on, the victim is more successful or more popular than them, someones been promoted or even as simple as the car they drive.
  6. They are just arrogant and believe they are better than others.
    Some bullies just think they are better than everyone else, and can do what they like, treat people how they like and its ok.   Until they feel the consequence of their actions they will continue on the same path.
  7. They think they are impressing others.
    If you think back to the gang cultures, the bully is almost like a peacock.  They feel that by being a bully in front of others, it makes them more powerful and people will look up to them.  These are usual people who don’t have a lot else to offer so use this as a way of surrounding them with so called ‘friends’!
  8. They just see you as different.
    We are all different, but some people just don’t know how to handle this.  They will pick on this difference and try and use it against the other person.

So how do we deal with them?

In the workplace we are taught to challenge inappropriate behaviours, but how easy is this outside of work?

As I said above, bullies are trying to control another person.  Its all about power!  If you take away that control or power, they can’t bully you any longer!

I’m amazed at the lengths some bullies go to to try and find something to use as a potential weapon.  Turn that on its head!  How sad is it that someone has nothing else in their lives but to focus on you.  In fact it could be a compliment that they feel the need to dedicate so much time on you!

You don’t need to be the victim once you put their behaviour into that context.  Actual they are the victim.  To what, you may never know, only they will know why they feel the need to try and victimise another person.

I’ve listed some of the reasons above.  Sometimes the behaviour of the bully is just so far off the scale of normal that you really can’t be bothered to give them another thought.  This usually happens in isolated instances.

Last year we had a driver try to bully and intimidate us.  He had overtaken us on a blind bend with oncoming traffic.  My husband had to pull off the road and do an emergency stop.  The oncoming traffic were flashing lights too.  My husband also blew the horn.  While the driver was in the wrong, he felt the need to pent his aggression on us.  He did an emergency stop in front of us which almost caused another accident.  He then jumped out of the car and started getting aggressive at my husband.

It would have been so easy to rise to his behaviour.  Instead, I calmly informed him that his actions could have caused a serious accident.  I told him to get back into his car and move on.  When you put water on the fire, its amazing how little more the bully has to come back at you at.  I then took a picture of his car and reported it to the police.    If he had just continued on his journey we may have been annoyed at this lack of care on the road.  The fact that he stopped and did what he did then took it to another level!  By not rising to him and reporting him, we took back the control.

Obviously, when its long term bullying, that is more challenging.

If like me you are not from a background where you were exposed to bullying, when it first happens its a shock.  I was always brought up to respect others.  My father used to say ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything’.  That is not to say we were a push over.  Certainly not.  We were also brought up to talk to people with respect and dignity if there was a problem.  To not gossip behind others backs, or say things that are not true for your own ends.

In business they always say, look after those on your way up because you may need them on your way down.  This is so true.

I have come across people who gossip about others.  They take a half truth and twist it to make it sound something its not.  Its all about power and getting a reaction!  They then look around to see who is listening to them.  Often they assume others agree with them.  Often its not the case.  Others may just not want to get involved or question that person about it!

If you are a target of these bullies, think about what they are trying to achieve.  If its a reaction, don’t give it to them.  They can only continue if you give them reason to do it.  Don’t stoop to their level!  If they want to be nasty let them.  It will cause them more stress and unhappiness than you.

A bit of advice I was given once was, if you can look in the mirror and can honestly say you like the person you are, you can sleep at night knowing you have done the best for others and have caused no-one harm on purpose, then you have nothing to worry about.

I’m not saying the bully will have sleepless nights about their behaviour.   Some of them are just not built with the self awareness of what they are doing, or even care what harm they could potentially do.

Another piece of advice I was given is that if you can rise above the bully, you will come out as a stronger person, or in a stronger relationship etc.

Everyone in their life will experience a bully.  Just remember who you are, your values, and the truth.  You will eventually find their behaviour both sad and funny.  Once you get to that situation, they can keep trying new ways to get at you, but ultimately, they will fail as they have no control over you.

Remember the impact a bully will have on others around you too.  They may be targeting you, but their action could impact on someone close to you too.  Talk to them about the bullies actions, comments  and behaviours.  They may be uncomfortable too, but don’t know how to deal with it.

Bullies are very good as I said at taking a half truth and turning it around.  Those impacted may also be nervous about who to challenge.  Who do they believe?  How should they deal with it?  They may have many questions.

So next time you get a text, email or social media message that is attacking you, take a step back and consider it for what it is!   Don’t let it impact on you.  Bullies rely on causing emotional and mental destruction.  Don’t give in to them.  If it becomes unmanageable, then you can also raise it with the authorities.   This isn’t always possible especially when its in the home or work place, but by using some of my mechanisms above, whilst the person will continue to try and bully you, there will be no impact on you personally, unless its just to raise a smile at the persons latest attempt!

I’m a true believer in Karma!

And finally, don’t be a bully yourself.  Think about the consequence of your actions on others and how you would feel if you were in their shoes!

If you want to join the ITV This Morning ‘Be Kind’ pledge, you can do so at:

https://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/pledge-to-share-our-anti-bullying-message

Currently over 270,000 people have done so.