So the clocks sprang forward yesterday morning (which is always slightly odd, if you're awake to catch it! I was emailing with my friend Anna back and forth, and the clocks randomly bounced from 12.59 to 2.00!). I remember when I was younger we loved when the clocks went back (extra hour clubbing / drinking / dancing. Woo!)...and hated when they sprang (because we therefore lost an hour). And here it certainly seems as though spring has sprung. It's still Baltic - it is Scotland, after all - but it's fresh and sunny and bright. I love the spring, it's so full of hope and possibility and potential...plus it's the season for twitterpating (TM Thumper), which can only be a good thing.

Here I am deep in my spring break, but am having a fairly productive time of it. Not productive in the "I wrote 4,000 words / settled a bank deal / marked a tonne of books / built some shelves" way...more in a "I've written lots of letters / caught up on reading / had coffee with a good friend / met my friends baby" way. And I think that way's important too. I think that my personal and relational world deserves just as much, if not more, attention than my professional life. I am so priveleged to have a life full of people who inspire me, and entertain me, and challenge me, and I'm so glad when I get to devote time and energy to them.

Yesterday, I stopped worrying about something that had had me in knots (the peril of holiday time. Time to think). I'd really got in a fizzle about a boy (yes, I still call them boys. Is that bad?), but yesterday I had a real long think about it all, and sorted a few things out in my head. So now I'm clear on my feelings. Which is good. Still no idea what to do with said feelings though! Am such a wuss. Or maybe jusy really really really good at self-preservation ;).

Last few days in Scotland, few more friends and their husbands, babies, boyfriends etc. to catch up with, both up here and on the jaunt south. Then at the weekend a friend's wedding (Yay Sophie!) - I really hope the glorious weather holds. Then a week of tidying and spring cleaning, which I'm quite looking forward to. Chores can be a pain, especially when I'm busy with work and things, but I'm looking forward to five days of cleaning and sorting and tidying, both at home and in my classsroom....always makes me feel a tonne more organised and together.

And then I can see what the spring and the coming summer might have in store...

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Self Rewinding

Last night I met up with a bunch of the Forres crew for "banter", and we went to one of our favourite pubs. The one we've all been frequenting for five, ten, or more years. And on Thursday and Friday I was through in Aberdeen, a place where I spent four years of my life. I had the best time, but it's always weird to be back in places that recall times past (to paraphrase Proust. Badly!).

Aberdeen was my home from the ages of 18 to 22, and it really was an experience. It taught me so much about who I was, and who I wanted to be. Some of that learning was really positive - great books were read, great debates were had, great songs were song, great friends were made, great challenges were overthrown... Some of that learning came the hard way - hurt, betrayal, unkindness, and through my own niavete, stupidity and youth. Very little of the important stuff I learnt had anything to do with either of my degree studies (Joint Honours English and Film Studies, if you're interested).

Because that's what you do at 18, isn't it? You start to get a handle on who you are as an adult (I'm still working on this ;)). My childhood was....interesting? Challenging? Troublesome? Random? Okayish? My teens were up and down, with me being far too much of a doormat for the early teens to survive well in the cutthroat world of teenage girldom...luckily, post 16 I got a clue and was much, much happier for it! And at uni this growth continued. Parts of the changes of uni life I aced. Cooking, nae bother. Laundry, no probs. Other stuff, I learned on a steeper curve...but I was blessed with some amazing friends, many of whom are still in my life (yes Amber, Morag, Shona, Caroline and Hannah. I'm talking about you!). The most challenging thing I had to learn?

That being me is OK. Most of the time!


I am such an overthinking cliche sometimes.

It was nice to go back to Aberdeen, but do you know what? I doubt I'll ever live there again. Did I have a good time? Yes. Is it over? Yes. Like that ex who you still care about and want to see from time to time, but you know the love just isn't there anymore... I am done there.

I wonder where I'll end up calling home?

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Just a small town girl....


Vic and I have both got that Journey song, 'Don't Stop Believing', stuck in our heads tonight.

It's such an earworm.

And it seems strangely apt as I type tonight. Because tonight I am just a small town girl ("living in a lonely wo-orld..."), and I'm back in the small town I call home. No matter where I go, what I do, who I meet, a little part of me will always belong here, will always feel that bit more settled here.

I swear, as I drove north on Monday, I felt a part of me just resound when the Highlands came into view. Small town England is very pretty and quaint, but big eff-off and huge gaping valleys you just cannot beat :). Tomorrow I head down to Aberdeen for a day and a night. Aberdeen's another significant place for me, the city I lived in for four years as I earned my first degree. It was truly the best of times....and the worst of times. I don't think there's a place in the whole central mile that doesn't have some connection to a memory, a person, an in-joke....the place is lousy with yesterdays!

As to the thing I've been thinking about (far too much - bloody downtime!)....I *think* I may have got it straight. Huzzah.

Right, time to pack. And rest. And probably listen to Journey again, if I'm honest.

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Tales from the sea(side)

So, earlier today, I took myself for a good long walk along the beach. I've always loved the water, and like nothing more than going for a yomp (as we have it round here) along the shore and having a good old think. Unfortunately, having time to think in this case has probably done me a disservice, as I'm now worried about something I hadn't had time to think of before...Hmmm.
Anyways, I love this beach. Or, I should say, these beaches - at Findhorn there are two beaches - the tranquil bayside (see pics 1, 6, 7) and the more tempetuous and dramatic Firth side (2-5). As you can see from my pics, it was a tad windy out there! It was also freezing - you can't really see in the pics but I had about six layers on!
I took my camera so I could share the lovely views with you guys...hope your day has been super!
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A long long weekend

Hello! It's a very tired, but happy, Claire who is typing this. I have had a manic few days, but in the nicest possible way...

It started on Friday. Many of you know that I'm a Joinee. Joinees are people who are part of a collective / movement / cult / whatever that's committed to performing weekly RAoKs (Random Acts of Kindness). We also get together every few months of so for 'Join Meets' where we raise money for charity, give out sweeties and stuff, hug people, etc... I could explain this better were I not so pooped, but if you want more info then do clicky on to http://www.join-me.co.uk/ for full details.

Anyhow, one of the Join Meets is the catchily titled Good Good Friday and Bad Bad Saturday (GGF/BBS), which took place this weekend. Which is why I sped up to Nottingham in my wee car, with sweets aplenty. GGF involved giving lots of mini eggs to youths and OAPs and other shoppers in Nottingham city centre, then a charity raffle and pub banter, then lots and lots of chat (Joinees are pretty much universally awesome, so I love hanging out with them). At 11.30 I was pooped so said I was going to hit the hay...only to change my mind and join many of the rest of the gang at a really amazingly trashy nightclub. Such fun! Dancing and photos and helping Vic split up a fight which kicked off due to MC Hammer dancing. Then I went back to Siobhan and Jo's hotel room and we had girly gossip until a little after 4...this seemed like a great idea until I awoke at 6 and couldn't get back to sleep!

So BBS dawned and I strolled across town. Because I had to get ready for the main event of the day - the famed North versus South football match. I had some problem committing to a team due to my mongreldom, but eventually plumped for the North...who won 4-1! Both teams played really well in Baltic conditions, and even more money was raised for good causes. My friend Phil scored two of those goals - one of which was a blinder! Then back to the pub, and on to the restaurant, where I had awesome chat with some lovely new folk (who help arrange Loverpool, another Join Meet, that I'm hugely excited about) and the always lovely Katie and Dan/Wilf. We had chat about many things, including the phenomenon of 'money notes' in powerballads (like a money shot, but musical). Dan/Wilf then proved himself to be potentially the nicest boy ever by accompanying me on a Claire mission to find stuff. In my wee car (Dan/Wilf is 6'5"!). Around Nottingham's insane one-way system. And then we went on a giant Ferris Wheel! I love Dan/Wilf, he didn't even laugh (too much) at my slight vertigo. Then back to the others for more pub and chat and hugs. Then back to another hotel, and Tigger (she is AWESOME) and I sat up till late talking about boys and life and sex and music. Such fun! But unfortunately we discovered that in one situation, I'm a fool. D'oh. Need to fix this.

Sunday dawned and the remaining Joinees reconvened for chat and breakfast. Finally at 2 I tore myself away and set off further north, bound for Edinburgh. Six hours later I arrived at Jenna's, and we promptly headed into town with her flatmate Rich to watch a gig. The people playing were friends of Jenna and they were really good (clicky to www.myspace.com/8trackstereo for a wee listen). So was the Merlot. Comedy also ensued when I discovered I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so proceeded to eat the bagel Tigs had giving me. In a chic bar venue in Edinburgh.... Then back to Jenna's, chat and chips and fun. Then bed.

Today Jenna and I chatted more, and then I set off again - this time to St Andrew's for lunch with Henry. Henry is one of the loveliest boys ever and one of my best friends, and as he's jetting off overseas to pursue a fabulous career, this was one of my last chances to see him for a while. We had top fun and conversation. He's going to be a huge success over in Bahrain, but by God I'll miss him. Then I set off on the final 180 mile leg of my journey, through the windswept and snowcapped Highlands. Breathtaking. And the last 30 miles on snow-covered hilly B roads were hilarious.

And now I'm home. And warm. And sleepy. And sat contemplating a weekend of fun, good chats, and a bit of a revelation (which I'm trying to sort out in my head. It's potentially a good thing, maybe even a brilliant thing, but it's sideswiped me a wee bit). And looking forward to some real Scottish fun. It's so lovely to be home. But now, it's time to rest.

Love, as always,
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So maybe life is just the paths that we take, the people we love, the decisions we make…

I’ve had some time to think lately. This doesn’t always happen. I tend to be so busy that I often don’t have time to think of anymore taxing than “Have I emailed that through? / Where’s his fleece? / Did I remember to text her? / What’s for tea? / Where are my keys?”. Some of this busy-ness is positive, but at other times it almost feels like a defence mechanism, like keeping myself busy, keeping myself moving, never fully relaxing, means I never really have to stop and think about the bigger things.

Which would make some sort of sense.

I’d say I’m a positive person. I’m happy and loving and giving and caring. I think I’m a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister (at least most of the time. I’m not a saint!). I try to help people, and I’m aware of the many faults I have (gah, whole other post. Which would be long and dull for you, and a retread for me). I haven’t been this way always.

If we went back just five or ten years, I don’t think you’d recognise me. I hated myself, actively and passionately. A series of not-nice experiences, some big, some small, some infinitesimal, had left me punchdrunk and confused and angry and hurt and just overflowing with self-loathing. I was ugly, I was stupid, I was worthless, I was fat, I was not worth knowing. I was also a bloody good actress. Many of the people around me had no idea of what was going on and now are surpirise if I allude to any troubles. Those were tough times.

About four years ago, I chose to change. I got serious with myself and hard on myself in some aspects, and a lot softer on myself in many others. The hardest part was probably learning to tell myself to “shut the f*** up!” when I went off on one against myself, and this is a lesson I’m still learning today. Putting myself down is such a talent, it takes a lot to fight the urge.

I’ve also had to learn how to trust people. Even in my closest relationships, there’s still a scared little girl there, afraid that I’ll do something, say something, be something that will make people stop liking me. Stop loving me. And leave. I count myself blessed that I have earned the friends I have now – people I can disagree with and fight with and they’re still there. They don’t leave.


As far as I’ve come, I know I’ve a ways to go. For every bridge crossed, for every memory dealt with, there’s a fresh one awaiting my attention, like a light flashing on and off on an old school answerphone. It can wait, but it will need seeing to….

So as Easter approaches and some free time becomes apparent on the horizon, I guess I’m asking for love, for understanding, for compassion. And I hope I have the wisdom to keep growing.

Wow, look who got all deep this evening!
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Head Radio

I am always singing. Or humming. Or clapping. Or dancing. I tend to be surrounded by music most of the time, and even when I'm not, there tend to be songs stuck in my head (i.e. on my head radio). So here, ladies and germs, are the ten songs currently rocking my head radio:

1) Gone - Ben Folds

[Sample lyric: "I thought I'd write, I thought I'd let you know, After years since you've been gone I've finally let you go."]

2) The First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes

["I mean maybe this time it's different, I mean I really think you like me"]

This song makes me sigh. And want to hug someone. It's just deliciously sweet and wholehearted.

3) As Long As You're Mine - from Wicked

["Kiss me too fiercely, hold me too tight...I need help believing, you're with me tonight"]

I've been learning a lot of the songs from 'Wicked', and this one has a habit of getting totally stuck in my head. It's also great fun to swoop around an empty classroom on a wheelie chair too. Not, ahem, that I've done that, of course ;)

4) Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

["I dug my keys into the side of his pretty little souped up four wheel drive." Heh.]

This song is so country it hurts. But it totally gets stuck in my head!

5) Rollover (Let It Go) - Charlotte Hatherley

["You are so very far away, so when a memory escapes, I roll over, and let it go"]

6) All I Got - Newton Faulkner

["Cos everywhere I look, everything is looking so good, and everyone is you"]

This song totally makes me smile. I'm not entirely sure why, but its just so hopeful and sweet and romantic...

7) I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten - Dusty Springfield

["I close my eyes, and count to ten, and when I open them, you're still here, I close my eyes, and count again, I can't believe it but you're still here"]

I just discovered this song the other day and it's brill. I'm learning it slowly but surely, and therefore it really gets stuck on the head radio.

8) Sea of Love - Cat Power

["Come with me, my love, to the sea, the sea of love..."]

Just beautiful, this song. And fun to hum.

9) Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac

["And IiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiI, I wanna be with you everywhere]

This is such a cheesey song, and it totally makes me have a silent disco moment too.

10) Flowers In The Window - Travis

["Oh wow, look at you now, flowers in the window, such a lovely day, and I'm glad you feel the same"]

Le sigh.

So, to sum up, my head radio is currently a little bit cheesey, a little bit romantic, and a little bit random.

What's playing on your head radio?

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Late night radio.

It’s 11.30 Thursday here, and I am (finally) tucked up in bed, listening to the radio and having a drink, in from the cold. I managed to bash my car into our gate today (trying to avoid my landlord B, who was fiddling with aforementioned gate) – at the end of the day it was only a broken hubcap, punctured tyre and a dent, but still meant lots of waiting around for a lovely bloke from the RAC.

Yes, I can’t change a tyre. Or wire a plug, for that matter. Or install many things onto computers. Guess whose dad is a mechanic / computer geek?

Anyhoo, Lord bless the RAC and their mad car fixing skillz. I called them at 8.30 and we were all done and dusted by 11.30 (I explained to the nice girl at the call centre that I was not a priority – waiting in the warm at home is a world away from being some poor soul on the hard shoulder). So apart from putting the ixsnay on my planned early night and requiring me to buy a new tyre, it’s all good. I watched some Idol (I’m not really that into this season, I must say), played text tennis, made some cakes (see, that skill I do have!), and generally tried not to fall asleep…

Life here is going along at the usual frenetic pace, with occasional pockets of calm. Oh, how I love the pockets of calm. I am working hard, and I’m playing hard too – spending lots of time with some marvellous folk. They litter my life with warm memories, good times, hugs, love and hope for things to come. I am truly blessed. I’ve got plans and thoughts and hopes and dreams, and on the whole, I’m feeling pretty content with my lot, a fair amount of the time (always a hard thing for me to say). Life ain’t perfect, but it’s comfy and fun for the most part!

Sure there are things I’d like that I don’t have: I’d like a slightly different role at work (I feel a new challenge would do me good). I’d like to be 6 months on with my healthkick (although seeing how my body is changing is starting to hit the cool stage – my most evil (and fabulous) gym instructor, Becky, was even giving me snaps in class today on my “improved figure”). I would really like to have someone to have adventures and banter and kisses and romance with. I’d like more time to write, and more time to sing. I’d like to have more time with my friends.

No doubt if I had all those things, I’d think of new stuff to desire (I would really like some kissing on the schedule, however ;-)).

So for now I’ll sit here in the warm, listening to late night radio and pondering fun to come, and just be (to quote Paula Abdul). This weekend has fun in store (it’s a school show Friday, then Italian with the girls; Saturday is work, gym, and DJing for our school ball; Sunday is undecided so far…). Next week we have three days of school (including a concert, an open morning, a trip, a whole school assembly, a final assembly, and a twelve noon finish on the Wednesday). Then it’s roadtrips and fun – GGF in Nottingham, then (hopefully) Leeds, Kilmarnock, Glasgow, St Andrew’s, Forres for a week; then Edinburgh, York, back for Sophie’s wedding (my first hog roast!), then a week of “wow, time to do stuff like paint walls, put up shelves, and go to IKEA”, and finally some cheerleading at the London Marathon (go, Steve!). I’ve said it before…I’ll say it again… I love the Easter break.

Right, big day tomorrow. Bed beckons.
Love and blessings,
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20 things...

First and foremost, apologies for the radio silence. My school has just gone through a major inspection, so for most of the last month it’s been 90-hour work weeks, with barely time for those little non-essentials like sleep and exercise, so blogging (and living, more or less) had to take a back seat. Back now though – let’s get to the words! I’m also looking forward to going round and reading some of my favourite blogs – I’m sure you guys have been up to loads while I’ve been away!

On one of the forums I visit, we were recently challenged to write something about twenty things we are grateful for. Here are mine (in all their random and no particular order glory):

1. My family. We are a really crazy offbeat gang, but I love them. Mum and Dad have tried so hard to give us a childhood better than theirs (Mum had the love, Dad the money when they grew up – they’ve tried to give us a little of both!). It hasn’t always been easy, but they have always tried, and that’s what I admire the most about my crazy parents. I’m so happy they are in such a great place now. I’m also blessed with the loveliest siblings who I adore to pieces. A mad sister and a crazy brother - How lucky am I? This central unit has always been so important to me, not least because a lot of my extended family aren’t really in the picture (I’ve tried, but do you know what, if your grandparents don’t want to be there and be invested, there comes a time where as the grandchild you just need to give up. I love them, but my living grandparents just aren’t really there). I do have the huge blessing of my onetime foster family though – Aunty S and Uncle F and their brood are still a part of my life and I love them dearly, in all their couthie North East Scots fabulosity.

2. My friends. Hoooooo boy. My friends are truly, truly, truly a blessing to me. Whether they’ve known me for a few months or fifteen years, I am constantly counting these blessings disguised as people. They make me laugh, they comfort me when I’m upset, they let me help them, and they seem to appreciate my own little brand of random. I love them all, probably more than they’ll ever grasp. For someone who grew up in a fairly isolationist family, whose parents don’t really socialise a huge amount (although they are getting better at that!), I am amazed at all the awesome experiences, love, and joy my wonderful friends bring into my life.

3. My health. A fairly elemental thing, no? But despite my desire to be slimmer, healthier etc., and my fairly random need for oodles of water each and every day, I have been blessed in this respect so far. Touch wood!

4. Hope. And faith. Man, hope is amazing, right? I’ve had some dark times, and even in my very lucky life just now there are challenges and tougher times. Hope is the light that guides the way through it. I’m also grateful for my own faith – sure it’s a weird mishmash of Christianity, Buddhism and humanism, but do you know what, it works for me. To quote to Dalai Lama: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

5. My right leg (and foot). Heh. Now we’ve got the big four done, onto the more random. I feel I genuinely owe my life (or at the very least, my lifestyle) to my right leg. When I was twelve I fell 20 feet off a zip wire launch tower (I wasn’t shown how to wear the harness. So it was more or less a step into nothingness). Apparently a lot of humans then adopt the foetal position as they fall. I did. But a split second before landing I put my right foot out to break my fall. Net result, a foot fractured in four or five places. And a strangely wide foot now. But can you imagine what that would have done to a pelvis? Last year when I was hit by a car and flung off my scooter, my right side came to the rescue again – by landing on it heavily and bruising the heck out of it, I miraculously walked away from a collision that could have completely broken me. Or worse. My right side rules! As does my left, no doubt, but for different reasons.

6. Singing. I love to sing. You know those infuriating singing contest people who claim “I’ve been singing since I can remember!”? Well, I’m one of them. According to mum, I would pull myself up in my crib and sing or hum before I actually started talking (another thing I love to do ;-)). And now, it’s still a huge part of my life – I am always singing, and performing would be right up there on my list of favourite things.

7. Music. I grew up in a house where there wasn’t much music. Dad had some vinyl and Mum sang a few songs while doing housework, but we were never what qualified as a musical family. Then I arrived. I am a huge music geek, and listening to music is one of my passions. I spend waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much money on music!

8. Books. Need I say more? I’ve been reading since I was two (the joys of being the firstborn of an ambitious single mum!), and in my twenty-fifth year of reading am still going strong. I always have a couple of books on the go, and often a couple of magazines or articles too. Lazy Sunday reading with a cup of tea and some toast = my bliss.

9. Radio. Ever since I got my first stereo with radio, I’ve been listening, and still do now. I listen to the radio first thing in the morning (Chris Moyles) and last thing at night (Colin Murray). Classic FM got me through my dissertation. MFR (Moray Firth Radio!) got me through sixth form. This is the medium I love so much I want to retrain to work in it. Old school!

10. Join Me. About a year ago, my lovely friend Ross recommended a book called ‘Join Me’ by Danny Wallace. I read it and loved it and joined ‘Join Me’. ‘Join Me’ is a collective (not a cult!), where the members promise to do a random act of kindness (RAoK) each and every Friday. And we also get together for ‘Join Meets’ and have japes and make money for charity. I’ve been a Joinee since April, and I love it. An entire movement based on kindness. And banter. Amazing. And the people are pretty much universally awesome and love to hug. It feels like coming home!

11. Hugs. I am so pro-hugging it hurts. I’m a really tactile person, and I feel touch and contact are such a hugely important part of the human experience. If I’ve met you, I’ve probably hugged you!

12. Blogging. Geekaliscious as it may be, I love blogging. I was never that good at keeping journals, but I was always good at letters, and I feel that blogging is more like writing an open letter than cramming deep dark secrets into a journal. Parfait! It’s also been a boon – my trip to Canada was enriched hugely by hanging out with some awesome blog buds (shout-out to Christy, Alex, Bee, Scott and Ashley!); and I know lots of my friends check my blog (and I theirs) to check in when life prevents us catching up in person.

13. My mid to late twenties (and hopefully the life to come). You know that silly Facebook application ‘Compare People’? Well it’s hilarious and dumb, but one of my little moments of personal pride comes from that. You see, a few months ago I checked my rankings…and my friends thought I was brave. Me….brave. And silly as that app is, this meant a great deal, because I would say I spent a great deal of my life up till about age 22 being…scared. Scared of the past, scared of the future, scared of myself. The events of my life up to that point had me so scared that I was trapped in a space I didn’t like at all. The five years since then have been a steep learning curve, and it’s certainly not all rosey, but I am so happy now compared to what I was. So yeah, I guess I am a little brave :-).

14. A good and wise man who decided we’d be better off as friends rather than anything beyond that. He’s now pretty much my best guy friend, and I can’t wait to be godmother to his future children (no pressure, haha!). As a coda to this, I’m also glad and grateful I didn’t take the easy and wrong option with another guy…on paper he would have given me lots of what I’d like, but I didn’t love him. And therein lay the rub.

15. The internet. I live in the middle of nowhere, on my own, and work stupid-ass hours. My friends live here, there and everywhere (London! Glasgow! Bahrain! Toronto!). I loooove the internet.

16. Mistakes. Yes, mistakes. I’m glad I made them, and I’m glad I learnt from them. Yes, even that awful haircut I had as a teen – I learnt never to attempt an undercut again!

17. Travel. Travelling to lovely places, visiting with lovely people. Great!

18. Dancing. Just the most fun, whether in a club, or my own front room!

19. Laughter. Oh man, I LOVE to laugh (just ask my classes). I have about eleventy million laughs too – from hearty belly laugh to witchy cackle to no-sound-eyes-watering-actually-in-physical-pain-giggly. Brill.

20. Children. I spend a huge amount of my life in the company of these wee creatures. Cue muchos hilarity. I had a really deep moment in Chapel the other day – surrounded by these forty-three little people I’m charged with educating and nuturing, and just thinking of all they have to come – all the good I hope will come to them, and the bad I hope never darkens their doors. I am genuinely inspired by the children I work with. I also love all the little people that are arriving into my close circle with increasing frequency. Seeing how happy parenthood is making my friends is truly a privilege, and I just hope if I’m lucky enough to have children of my own I’ll do half as well as the mummies and mums-to-be I know.

Please forgive me any omissions. And feel free to nick this idea (which I nicked in the first place!) – I’d love to read your twenty things.

Love, as always,
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