Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sand Castles In The Sky

This summer will be my eighteenth annual visit to the backdrop of my dreams. It is not a place abroad where the skies are always blue, where the rain pours rarely and the sea is crystal clear. To you, it may not the prettiest corner of the world, but I built my happiest memories in the sands of Happy Valley and I will always be drawn to the red-sky nights, the historic walks and the easy rush of the tide in that small seaside town in Wales.

Caravan holidays are almost unheard of these days. So many families prefer the reliability of European weather, all-inclusive ready-cooked meals and foreign culture. However, to me, there are certain aspects of caravaning in Wales that injects magic into summer.

I cannot remember our family’s first visit to the holiday park as I was just a baby at the time, but as a child, every year on the eve of our adventure, my Mam and Dad would tell my sister and I stories of our first stay in a gas-powered van. It was a tradition that still excites me to this day, that flutters in my belly each year throughout the month of July, as I await to share the summer with my own little family.

It was six years before we could afford to take my son back to the place where I spent my childhood summers, but I always promised to share with him the family tradition. As expected, the little man fell in love with the little village as deeply as I had all those years ago.

It is the atmosphere of Happy Valley that I find enchanting. Barely a hour’s drive away from home, it feels like a world away from the ever-busy rush of the Valleys. Weekdays blur into holi-days, life’s problems wash away with the tide and every morning is a reason to smile. Caravan neighbours bid ‘Good-day’ in passing, every child is included in ball games in the park and it is customary to celebrate each night in the family friendly dance hall of the site pub.

Now that my son is getting older, I get dragged onto every fair ride. I hold on to him with all my strength and cherish each giggle of excitement he murmurs. He dares me to take him on rides that excited me as a child, and laughs at me for covering my eyes. We have just one ride left to share called Beach Party. It is a 360o-swinging pendulum of seats, which sways so high, it is visible right across the seaside. Each year I wait for him to grow to the required height to ride the attraction, I lose a little more confidence. Simply writing about it makes my legs weak.

The fair holds half price ticket nights on Tuesdays and Fridays and we all enjoy the flashing lights, loud music and ambiance as coach-loads of visitors fill up the seats of the attractions. The screams of happiness which echo around the bay are an unmistakable essence of the summer blend.

My partner also grew up with Welsh seaside traditions. Sharing those recollections with each other with a bag of chips on the seafront, watching our growing son running freely through the dunes, living out our memories, is sheer bliss.

I love waking up in the campsite to the smell of Marty cooking breakfast on the gas stove, planning the new day’s activities over the morning paper. We usually spend our days visiting neighbouring beaches, looking for castle ruins and strolling through markets. Last year, we collected dozens of local activity brochures and worked our way around the historical landmarks of the area, my personal favourites being Saint David’s Healing Well and the stepping stones near Ogmore Castle. Saint David’s Well took a full day to find, and was much closer to the campsite than we realised. We asked three locals, including a shop owner and a community police lady for it’s whereabouts, but they had never heard of the Well, nor the history behind it. We eventually found it in a winding country lane, covered in Brambles and discarded take-away menus. Built in the 12th century, echoing Celtic tell-tales of it’s powers to heal the sick, glowing in a ray of sunshine, the shame of it’s legend being forgotten only added to the rush of excitement of finding this hidden treasure.

Amongst my many loves of summers in Happy Valley are the arcades. At one point, everyday, we call in one of the many arcades for a flutter on a cuddly toy, a race on the car games, ten pin bowling and a round of pool. Every year, we come home with at least ten cuddly toys. Marty will spend a fortune on the grabbers and we never leave without a life-sized bear.

The heart of Happy Valley is the Blue Water Club. The dance hall is the land that time forgot. The same disco lights I chased as a child spin on the dance floor, chased by the new generation of holiday makers. There is nothing like sitting in the beer garden, watching the sun set on the camp site, singing along to the same tunes that blasted from the Blue Water Club in the 90s. The best night for entertainment always happens to be on the last night of our stay. It is the one night where everybody gets up on the dance floor, Mams, Dads, Aunties and Grans, and dances until closing time., very much like the end of Dirty Dancing. We all raise a toast to the next summer and set back for the final sleep of an amazing week.

Those seven days away from the norm, completely dedicated to my little family, is heaven to me. You can keep your busy airports, home-sickness, mosquitoes and t-shirt-tans. I’m happy making memories in Wales. :)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Tunnel Vision

Prognosticating the outcome of my troubles with bias possibilities has been the downfall of my hope and optimism. Experience drives my ambition to break the mould of my failure, although history boasts how that method has humoured my inability to learn from my mistakes. Seemingly credulous and a sucker for a vicious circle, perhaps this sudden epiphany will sink deeper than previous alerts.

Undoubtedly, this self-minded, stubborn mule only has herself to blame, but to all those that have offered me ignored advice in the past, I suppose that is a good thing. Blame is a heavy burden to bare.

They say wisdom comes with age and experience. I suddenly agree. If it were not for the many mistakes I had made, I would never have known how to not make them again. I aim to adopt the copy-writes of the infamous ‘I told you so’ by my thirtieth birthday.

Here’s to ‘the hard way’.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

...That's where you'll find me...

Eighteen steps away from a forgotten chunk of much loved childhood, the memories flooded back as I stood before the flight of stairs where I had carelessly left my youth. With the familiar aroma of dry-smoke arousing my fond recollections of 90’s disco fever, my heart raced in anticipation to introduce my loved ones to my make-up and motive. For the first time in over a decade, I had made it home.


Friday, 13 May 2011

Ten Definitions...

1. Odd socks ~ Variety is, as they say, the spice of life.

2. Stubbornness ~ If you do not stick to your guns, you get shot by your own ammunition.

3. Fuck It ~ If you cannot beat it, Fuck it. Not in the rude sense of the expression... Forget about it… Move along.

4. Fickleness ~ Keep your options open.

5. Bend the rules ~ If there is leeway, make art! Flourish!

6. Smile ~ If it is not contagious, it is annoying. That is a positive!

7. Cry ~ Give back the water you use!

8. Insomnia ~ Fully appreciate the stars!

9. Prove everyone wrong ~ Even if they are right!

10. Write ~ Communication is merely noise without ink.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

...And They Say That A Hero Will Save Us...

With recent world events, it is difficult to steer inspiration away from what is unfolding in the media and, as much as I feel that nobody wants to read any more ‘Rest in Peace’ posts, I feel it would be ignorant of me not to send out a few thoughts to victims of all natural and fateful disasters. Every day, I scour the news in hope of ‘a light at the end of the tunnel’ for the suffering and desperate, only to find more heartache.

What more can a little, old me do other than sit back and pray that one day soon, something significantly good will happen? Should I turn a blind eye to matters beyond my control? Should I be content in my bubble of safety and be grateful that any problem that rumbles more than twenty miles away could not possibly affect me? Or, should I close my eyes and banish dysfunction of society from my mind? I have an option to acknowledge the distant torment, but I do not have an option to not care.

However much I remind myself of my lucky deal in life, sympathy tugs my heartstrings and I just want to help in some way. Yet, I cannot hold back a Tsunami, I cannot catch a bullet, I cannot feed the population of the third word and I cannot invent a cure for Aids.

As a parent, I am surrounded by figurines of Superheroes and Action Men, with tales of good overcoming evil, the innocent being protected by the power of justice and ‘happily ever afters’. If only real-life was as glossy. If only we could sleep peacefully knowing that a hero prowls the night defending our future. Imagine being rest-assured that a man in a cape holds all the powers to hold back nature.

If I could write an ending to this tragedy, who would save the day? The truth is my inspiration is guided by history. When, since the beginning of time, has there ever been anything other than nature, conflict and consequence? How can there be a ‘happily ever after’ without a definition of ‘happy’?

It is much easier to write a list of things to change than to write a list of how to change things. It is far simpler to pick faults than it is to find solutions. However, there is always this one possibility nagging away in my mind. There is always one word screaming through my trail of thought. There is always that last choice, no matter how I distract myself from the simplicity...

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Fuck Perfection...

With so little left unwritten in the age of media, I miss my little black book of pure blankness and inspiration. There is something uniquely stimulating about the purity of a fresh page of a private journal. Paper has no distractions or status and can sincerely hold a secret for a lifetime.

My pen was once my magic wand inked with freedom of expression. Writing gives an energising power of confidence with the ability to create a completely new world. It is an escape to one’s own dimension: a lawless Utopia.

The delete button is unforgiving and permanent. Mistakes can be beautiful. Perfection can be shallow. The novelty of laziness is wearing thin and I am no longer enjoying the speed of this digital-bandwagon.

Appreciation for a ‘quirk’ forever hidden is exclusively rewarding, yet self-approval is much more desirable. There is nothing more pressurising than trying to be distinctive when you are competing with a ‘Spelling and Grammar’ tool.

Therefore, I vow to stay faithful to my book of shadows. No more ‘backspace’. It is time to make loud mistakes.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Dear You...

Dear reader,
I declare,
These words fall for your eyes only.
Decipher them with care.
Open mind,
These sentences are laced with you;
Selective and refined.
Please empathise.
Understand this open prose,
With liberal eyes.
Dear you,
Do you object,
To a feeling shared in confidence,
And desire to connect?
Mirror, Mirror,
Read between the lines.
Deduce this rhyme.
As sheer gratitude,
For your time.


Dog Days...

Summer creeps upon us, eloquently still,
Pushing past April showers, thawing out the chill.
Nature changes colours, dewdrops seal the glade,
Dark nights fade to orange dusk and dog days are made.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dig Yourself Out Of This One, Gem...

I am having one of those days where I want to change the world but I cannot be bothered to move. With a million ideas running through my mind, it is difficult to focus on one particular idea for long enough to take action. I have spent the sunniest day of the year staring into space, transfixed on motivating myself into a more constructive state of mind, however, with my thoughts so far away, before I had chance to put on my working shoes, the sun had set behind the mountains.

Digging the grass up from the back garden was not one of my well thought out plans. We had a decent enough lawn to begin with, but me being me, I want to put my on stamp on our residence having moved home eight times in ten years.

We moved to this adorable flat exactly one year ago and this move was by far the most exhausting. I had settled at our last address but due to our house needing serious repair and a landlord who had no interest in making those repairs, we had no choice but to pack up and go once again.

I am grateful to have found such a quirky little home for our quirky little family and the condition of the property is a much-deserved relief from the majority of our past residences, but homesickness hit hard and despite how blessed I feel for finally finding a place to call home, unsettlement was taking a heavy toll.

We are lucky to have three, lovely gardens around our flat, all of which only needed some TLC. We spent a small fortune, last year, on prettying up the bare essentials, but I have a highly addictive personality and I have found a love in restoration and landscaping.

The day I first dug a spade into the lawn was inspired by the outbreak of Spring. Having being grounded to the settee through a harsh winter, the freedom the garden offers was a sanction well needed.

I cannot sit and do nothing. I find it impossible to sit back and relax, so sunbathing on the patio is certainly not for me! So, armoured with sunshine and freedom, I began to dig…, dig…, and dig! It seemed like the perfect way to occupy my time.

What I had not prepared for was the patio that I was about to unearth. 24 square metres of concrete blocks to move by hand is a mammoth task for a 5ft little me. One month, blood, sweat, tears and severely bad language later, the once half-decent lawn now looks like an excavation site and it is difficult to imagine it looking any differently in the near future.

As I said, I have millions of ideas, but standing in the equivalent of a half-dug swimming pool, it is unfeasible to find a starting point. With piles of concrete dumped sporadically around the place, a mound of unneeded clodges stacked high and a neighbour who, to say the least, hates my guts, inspiration and my lack of strength is massively frustrating.

I hope to have the garden looking acceptable within the next month. That requires plenty of Weetobix!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

High Expectations From A Warped Childhood!

I believe that our understanding of a fairytale’s moral warps with wisdom. I used to believe that happily-ever-afters involved white horses and palaces. My visualizations were illustrated by Walt Disney and I was influenced to imagine adulthood to be garnished in pixie dust.

Despite my hardest efforts, I have yet to find the Yellow Brick Road, although I do wonder if that was actually a euphemism for the M4.

The reality of my flying carpet is my R Reg Fiesta with a rusted exhaust, and no matter how fast it rattles, it absolutely refuses to leave the ground. It does not resemble a pumpkin in any way, shape or form and is certainly not a lovable bug!

I thought about robbing from the rich, once, but with private bank accounts being far more popular than treasure caves, I would just look silly swinging on a rope through Buckingham Palace in green tights.

When I was a child, nobody told me that breaking into chorus in public places does not necessarily mean that everybody will join in, in perfect harmony. The closest I have come to this is 20,000 fans chanting ‘You Fat Bastard’ at a football match!

I was very unaware of the consequences of knocking back the contents of mysterious shot glasses labelled ‘Drink Me’. However, the possibilities of Wonderland do have an impact on my weekends!

Living in Wales would suggest that our local wildlife consists mainly of dragons. Perhaps evolution doomed these creatures into extinction, but the likelihood of finding anything that breathes fire in these forests is still to be desired.

The expense of Christmas suggests that Santa only exists for naughty children…

A spoonful of sugar has little positive effect on Ritalin…

Goofy was actually a cow crossbred with a human and whichever was you try to justify that, the conclusion always leads to an unbearably horrific birth!

Shrinking your kids is not seen as good parenting!

Perhaps magic mirrors would be a great invention as a source of knowledge if Google were not such a convenience.

Bears do not appreciate tickles!

If animals could speak, would they really have American accents?

It is no wonder that hallucinogenics are classed as illegal substances in America, today. Walt Disney set such high standards for women to be a size 6, McDonalds was steering into liquidation!

…One last thought… An elephant with small ears would look rather odd, don’t you think…?!

Silence is anything but golden...

I have feared silence since as far back as I can recall. Not REAL silence. I do not think I have ever witnessed true silence. The silence that I fear is noisy silence, where everything that usually goes unheard echoes sharply.

In the dead of night, when the TV is on standby and everybody else at home is deep in dreams, this room seems to awaken. Unfamiliar sounds make my muscles tense and my nerves twitch, and I feel exposed to something that I do not understand.

This realm of silence fuels my thoughts into echolalia and words chant in rhythm to my breaths, forming melodies of repetition and annoyance.

Within this paradox of silence, restless with paranoia and agitation, I find solace with ink and paper. It helps to release unease, distracting my attention from reality.
Writing diminishes my fears and mutes my awareness of the shrill sounds of stillness….

Without it, I am afraid.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A Kick Up The Arse...

Having always chosen the trickiest path, the recent troubles, which I am finally swimming from, are barely surprising. However, I knew from the second the letter landed on the Welcome mat, this hurdle was slightly higher than the last. It is a pity that I can only learn from my fears once I admit to them, which, in my case, is not usually until I am nose-to-nose with my maker. I am still not sure whether I am a glutton for punishment or completely stupid… Either way, I guess that it has been a learning curve, to say the least.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Rock Genocide

What do Louis Walsh, Danni Minogue, Cheryl Tweedy and Simon Cowell all have in common? Not one of them knows a single thing about rock music. I have to admit, for me, X Factor is a little like a horror movie… You know it is terrifying to watch, but you cannot help peeking through your fingers not to miss any of it. Is there anything more painful to watch than a Brazilian Peter Stringfellow murdering Radiohead, a middle-aged woman jiggling her arse in trackies to The Pretenders and 5 teenage boys singing about a summer that not even their parents are old enough to remember?

Tonight, 14 classic, respectable rock songs were slaughtered live to the nation and somebody should be fucking stung up for it!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

ROOM 101- Part 3

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.


I would describe myself as a fairly safe driver. I have held a clean licence for three years and I have spent more time driving than I have cooking. I have had an endless string of bangers, including 2 Ford Escorts, a Nissan Almera, a Honda Civic, VW Polo, 2 Fiestas, and a humungous Vauxhall Cavalier. Driving is my favourite thing to do at any time of the year, night or day.
I admit, if I were lucky enough to own an expensive sports car, I would probably take a little more care, but 20 mph in a 30 zone utterly takes the biscuit. In the Valleys, where I live, there is one road in and one road out, so if Victor Meldrew is hogging the tarmac on his Sunday drive, there is no alternative but to slow down into second gear. Do these people not realise just how much juice that uses? I find it completely selfish and sometimes as hazardous as speeding. GET A GRIP!


One year ago, if you were to tell me that Facebook would be catapulted into Room 101 by no other than yours truly, I would have deleted you as a friend. Facebook was my life for three years. I have praised Mark Zuckerberg endlessly for giving me the opportunity to reconnect with distant family and friends, get to know people in my community better and spread awareness for Asperger Syndrome. I have around 1,300 Facebook friends whom, most days, I would chat to until early hours of the morning. I was completely hooked and it made the world seem like a much friendlier place to live in.
These days, I cannot bare to log in. I get a constant Live Feed of relationship issues, drunken gibberish and online squabbling, inundated with adverts and Spam and endless errors. Perhaps I have outgrown the laborious routine, or perhaps its members exploit the ability to express themselves unconditionally, but either way, Facebook needs a Jolly-Good Prozac!


To me, answering the telephone is like Russian roulette, PETRIFYING! I hate not knowing whom I could be speaking to as much as I hate not being prepared to talk to somebody. Written down, even to me, this seems strange, but whenever the telephone rings, I pray that someone else will answer it before I do.
I have a very quiet speaking voice and I hate nothing more than having to repeat myself, which I usually have to do after every sentence. It is very rare that I make a phone call myself. I avoid using the telephone like the Plague, at all costs!


This is little more than a jealousy. It is not Yummy Mummies that I dislike. At 7:30am, daily, I wake up, iron my son’s uniform, help him get dressed, sort out his breakfast, supervise him as he takes his medication and generally run around the flat like a headless chicken making sure that he is organised and squeaky-clean for school. When we arrive at 8:30am, most days, I am still wearing my pyjamas, my hair looks like a mangled Hedgehog and I still have pillow creases scarring my face. I barely have time to wipe the sleep-dribble from my cheeks.
How on earth (and it truly baffles me) do the other mothers looks so perfect? Do they wake up at 4am? Do they sit up all night straightening their hair and touching up their lip-gloss? Are they even human?


(Especially Jamie Redknap)…

I love Football. I am a lifelong fan of Manchester United, I look forward to the World Cup and, for a year, I was a tea-maid for our local team, however, I cannot stand football talk.
A couple of weeks ago, my partner was watching ‘Super Sunday - The Last Word’ on Sky Sports. I watched it for 10 minutes before I fell about laughing at the two guys, sat in a studio, surrounded by State-of-the-art analysis equipment having a full-blow debate about a football match that had been played a day before, precisely measuring the distance of the players from one another, the angle of the linesmen and the decisions made by the referee. Neither of these men were footballers or managers, the show’s presence would have no affect on the previous day and the amount they get paid for this is nobody’s business.
When watching a game on television, what spoils it for me is the halftime criticism from the likes of Jamie Redknap. They sit in their little booth in Armani suits, bitching like a cackle of witches. They publicly slaughter the effort made by the players, disrespectfully,
To me, football will always be a beautiful game. It represents team spirit, entertainment and a community get-together. It should not be a reason to dwell, but a reason to crack open a beer and enjoy sport and banter with your friends. Jamie Redknap retired years ago. It is a pity he did not take up model trains like most retired men and leave the players to do what he could not do better!