When Life Knocks You Down…

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I follow several hundred blogs, and of those I would put most of them in the ‘Lifestyle’ category. Perhaps it’s because this is the same area that my own blog falls into, perhaps it’s because I enjoy seeing and hearing about the experiences of others, or perhaps it’s because I’m a little nosy, but I have spent the last thirteen months getting to know some of the blogging community a little better. I’ve met their families, travelled the world with them, listened to their favourite music, salivated at their favourite foods, jealously admired their art and/or craft capabilities and been inspired by things that they’ve had to say.

Unfortunately, and all too often, life is cruel and unjust, and recently I have found that my online friends are experiencing things that they don’t deserve – loss, grief, illness, financial troubles, worries – 2014 appears to be testing kind and good people to the limit to see how much a human being can take before they snap. Indeed, the last six months have been some of the toughest I have known in a long time.

Regardless of the individual troubles that a person faces, the message within the blogging world remains the same… You are not alone. I am beginning to lose track of the number of times I have witnessed acts of kindness to make the lives of others better, and the last few days have been no different.

Remember, we’re here. While life may try and kick you down, there are always those who will pick you up and dust you off. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hard times will always reveal true friends, whether they are in person or not.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

One Hundred Miles: Collecting Detail

Picture courtesy of Lovinchelle

I moved to Birmingham in 2001, just under one hundred miles away from where I grew up in Bolton, My mother still lives there and every few months I will travel ‘Oop North’ to visit her. As I don’t drive (long story, but perhaps best saved for another time) I get the train. The average journey lasts about two hours and I often amuse myself by writing about the details in my surroundings – fellow passengers, the scenery, interesting events – the passing of time seems to fly by and before I know it I’m at my destination. Here are some of my recent observations – I apologise if you may have read some of this before.

Sometimes, the journey is entertaining even before it begins.

I’m not a morning person. In an ideal world, the very early hours of the morning are when I would be at my most productive, but I’m resigned to the fact that any sort of focus at work would be impossible if I don’t have a minimum of eight hours sleep every night.

Meh.

However, the journey to the station proved to be quite an interesting one. Even at 6am there were still lots of people walking around in their clubbing outfits from the night before and some had obviously started to feel the effects of consuming their entire bodyweight in alcohol. One particular girl was stumbling around outside the station in a dress that was so short it barely covered her bottom. She had taken her enormously high shoes off and had made the intelligent decision not to bring a coat on one of the coldest nights of the year so she was shivering violently. She was alone and looked miserable, so I asked her if she was ok and was she able to get home. She looked at me with a death stare and replied:

“Yeah. F*ck off and mind your own business.”

Nice. As I started to walk away a car pulled up and I heard the girl yelling, “Where the f*ck have you been? I’m freezing my f*cking t*ts off here!”

Classy bird.

Waiting on the platform can be miserable.

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Bolton train station on a cold Sunday morning

Small train stations are miserable places in the UK, particularly when the weather is cold and windy. The platform is quiet and the air is punctuated by the sound of a screaming child and the occasional announcement over the tannoy system by a woman who clearly lost her passion for her job years ago. There’s a man that has been hovering near me for the last ten minutes. I know what’s coming next: he’s going to sit next to me, ask me what my name is, where I am going and them ask me if I smoke and can he have a cigarette. I don’t mind talking to people – I’ve had lots of different conversations during train journeys and I always find them really interesting, but I always attract the cigarette hunters, despite the fact that I don’t smoke that often and rarely have them on me…

Nope, I was wrong. He wanted 20 pence. I’m not quite sure why he wanted such a small amount, but gave it him anyway.

The passengers can be very interesting, or not.

It’s currently 7.00am and I am on the train up to Manchester to go and visit my mum. It’s still dark outside, there’s a heavy mist in the air and there are just three of us in this particular carriage. The other two are having a deep and meaningful discussion about life and keep quoting motivational phrases at each other. Normally, I like these sorts of thoughts and must have thousands of inspirational messages saved onto my computer, but at this time in a morning I would rather they shut up, or at least conduct their discussion at a normal volume – Brian Blessed would be proud of their current efforts.

The Motivational Speakers and I have been joined by a young Asian woman, who has promptly fallen asleep in the chair opposite mine. Her expression is hilarious – her head is almost on the arm of the seat and her mouth is wide open. She isn’t dribbling yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

The views can be somewhat surprising.

Up until five minutes ago I was happily immersed in the WordPress world, completely oblivious to my surroundings. The carriage on the train is fairly empty and most passengers are asleep, so I’ve had a lovely journey. Suddenly, someone said,

“Wow! Look at that!”

I glanced out of the window and saw this:

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A beautiful sunset

How stunning. I almost missed it!

And the eternal mystery… Mr Sushi!

I was quietly minding my own business, attempting to take photographs of the scenery outside. In the seats opposite were a young male and female and judging by their conversation they had only just met. He was slightly older than her and a little rough around the edges, while she was quite well spoken and demure. As the journey continued it became evident that there was a mutual attraction – he joked and teased her about the car that she drove, she giggled at his silly jokes and in between a few awkward silences they both tried to ask each other questions about each others lives without appearing too desperate. He said he was 24, she claimed that she was 20 (although she looked a little younger), she explained where she had been the night before, he appeared interested and listened intently… It was very sweet.

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Houses near Stockport

About an hour into the journey the man pulled out the biggest box of sushi I’ve ever seen, proclaiming that he ate large amounts of it. I was a little confused by this – his efforts to impress may have been thwarted by the smell that permeated from it, but the girl seemed unfazed and the light flirting continued. Mr Sushi was obviously beginning to gain in confidence – he made a few derogatory comments about himself, thus giving her the opportunity to compliment him and then made a statement about ‘not being able to chat up a girl properly.’ Her response was, again, to giggle.

As nosey as I may sound, their conversation kept me entertained all the way to Birmingham New Street Station. Just as the train arrived and I got up to leave, I heard Mr Sushi ask for her phone number. Unfortunately, there was a huge queue of people behind me that forced me to walk off the train, and I didn’t get to hear her answer.

AARGH!!

Thus is the eternal mystery that I will never know the answer to. Did Mr Sushi get the girl’s phone number????

In my little world, I hope he did. Despite the sushi.

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.

More Train Adventures…

I’m currently sitting at the station waiting to go home after spending the night at mum’s house. I’ve really enjoyed myself, but had a minor heart attack when I discovered this morning that I had several missed calls from The Bloke and I instantly had horrible thoughts that something bad had happened to one of the cats. It turns out that he’d managed to lock himself out of the house, AGAIN, and this meant that he’d have to get the train up to visit his family today instead of driving. Thank goodness I have my keys with me, but it has meant that I’ve had to leave a little earlier than anticipated in order to get home before he does.

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Small train stations are miserable places in the UK, particularly when the weather is cold and windy. The platform is quiet and the air is punctuated by the sound of a screaming child and the occasional announcement over the tannoy system by a woman who clearly lost her passion for her job years ago. There’s a man that has been hovering near me for the last ten minutes. I know what’s coming next: he’s going to sit next to me, ask me what my name is, where I am going and them ask me if I smoke and can he have a cigarette. I don’t mind talking to people – I’ve had lots of different conversations during train journeys and I always find them really interesting, but I always attract the cigarette hunters, despite the fact that I don’t smoke that often and rarely have them on me…

Nope, I was wrong. He wanted 20 pence. I’m not quite sure why he wanted such a small amount, but gave it him anyway.

The train is due in five minutes. I’m going to try and catch up on your comments. Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

Questions, Questions, Questions. Tell Me About You!

During my blog overhaul I started to think about my layout. I have been lucky enough to have received lots of different awards from various people and I proudly display them down the side of my posts. It occurred to me that they all have one major thing in common: questions. The amount of questions asked can vary from five to fifteen, depending on the award and are set by the person that has nominated others.

I find that blogging can a very narcissistic venture. A blog allows the freedom to discuss what is personal to you – likes, dislikes, hopes, fears and thoughts seem to be the main focus for a large amount of (fabulous, I might add) posts that I read, and provides the opportunity for expression and creativity. I have many lovely conversations every single day, but it occurred to me that I know very little about some of you guys.

I thought that I’d try a little experiment. It may get no response at all, which is fine, but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

I want to know about you. I have written seven questions that I’d love you to answer. This can be done in two ways:

1. Answer them in the comment box below.

2. Create your own post with your answers, and link back to this post so that I can read them.

I’m going to leave it open all week, with the idea is that I want to be able to collate the answers into a different post that gives an overview of the WordPress blogging community that I now feel like I am a small part of. I will also reblog the most creative ones.

1. Why have you chosen your blog name?

2. When you have an hour of free-time, what do you do?

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

4. If you could learn to do something, what would it be?

5. What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

6. What is the thing that makes you absolutely unique?

7. What is your favourite blog?

I hope this works! Looking forward to seeing your responses!!

Happy Blogging!!

Picture credit: allthingsd.com

On Being a Snob

The last few days have been rather busy. I ‘hit the ground running’ at work – I was ill the week before half term and so I have been attempting to catch up on a monumental amount of individual tasks that need completing by the end of the week.

I’ve also tried to read through all the comments I have received on my blog recently. I normally do my best to reply to every single one, but the sheer volume of them has made it virtually impossible.

It has proven to be an interesting read. Some have agreed, others haven’t. One was so furious that he decided to write his own post in response, which I actually enjoyed and gave me an opportunity to discuss the topic with him in a more detailed manner. In general, most of the feedback that I gained has been useful, respectful and I have appreciated the points that everyone had to offer.

There was one, however, that immediately irritated me. Instead of offering her opinion about the subject, which she is perfectly entitled to do, she began her comment by saying: Continue reading

I Am Not A Stalker…

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Quite a few years ago I was walking down the high street with a friend and he pointed out a man on the other side of the road, explaining that he used to play rugby with him. He was quite distinctive in the fact that he was very tall and well-built, sporting neat dreadlocks and had quite broad facial features. He instantly reminded me of a member of the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ rugby team.

Since that moment, this man has appeared in my life frequently. He and his partner lived around the corner from our old house and he would leave his property at the same time every morning, so we often drove past him on the way to work. A few years ago he started to leave the house with a small child in tow, and then a little while later a second child followed. Continue reading