I have lots of random ideas about my home, lots of things that I’d love to do.  But never enough money to do them.  We did the same as most I imagine, moved into our family home about 10 years ago and did lots of work, knocking a few walls down, new bathroom, new kitchen…….over time making this our home.  Now 10 years on and things are looking a bit worn, everything is well used and in need of an upgrade.  For a few years, I’ve fancied a new kitchen, my style has changed and it’s definitely pasts its best.  There were random doors that would sporadically fall off lol.dsc_0305

Now luckily, I have a very handy man in my world.  Most of the time I get a raised eyebrow to my hair-brained ideas but not this time…..this time he was in there removing doors almost as soon as I showed him the picture of what I liked.  I wasn’t going for a “normal” or “conventional” upgrade.  Main reason? well we simply don’t have thousands to spend on a kitchen.  This was going to be a very unique  and individual take on new!dsc_0366

First we set about re-jigging the layout, not massively but enough to give us more cupboard space and get rid of the random wonky oven I had so wanted many moons ago!  We replaced the broken bits and trawled the internet for the best deal on the bits we needed to buy like worktops and sink and cooker hood.  All the cupboard doors were hand-made by my handy man then painted, aged and waxed by me.  I wanted something completely different from any other kitchen I’d seen and I so think we smashed it.  Now we have a beautiful, bright and cheerful kitchen that is completely us and aside from the fridge freezer, the whole thing cost less than £600!!



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…



linda-11This week has seen me return to an old favourite, namely the Ravensworth Arms Hotel at Lamesley. Mostly, meals are a joy here. Only the odd time has a meal been under par but after over twenty years, that is fine. Today, lunch was lovely. I chose pulled pork sandwiches with barbecue sauce on malted bloomer with chips and winter salad garnish – soft, succulent and wholesome- and that is only just the bread! The not overpowering barbecue sauce, tasty melt in the mouth pork and crunchy salad were delicious. Lunch for two Thursday and lunch for four Friday were so good that I had the same on both days. I love that there was plenty of room. I was relaxed, not rushed, and they serve green tea with lemon. Accompanied by great friends and catch up, I had a fab time. The twinkly Christmas lines of lights set a welcoming atmosphere.


Well, I now go walking with my friend and her dog. The phone call that wakes me up and invites me to walk the dog is like a starter’s pistol. Soon ready, off to Watergate Park, I set off with a Staffie called Badger and Marj Ridley, my friend. Always wary of dogs, I walk with one eye out for even larger dogs and the other for their deposits. I am getting more used to dogs bounding up. When you don’t grow up with dogs or pets, it takes a while to happen. I think dog walkers form their own circle or society. Walking the same routes, it is easy to greet regular walkers. One friend who always had a dalmatian fell ill and had a stay in hospital. Her visitors enquired about her progress briefly and then voiced their real concerns. They asked who was looking after the dog. They offered to walk, feed and care for the dog. Ha ha! Another friend, Rosie Gilbert, has people who greet her when out and about and know her as the ‘labradoodleowner.’ I never thought that dog walking would be so much fun.


Tonight I am watching a film called The Revenant. I read the book some time ago. It portrays the harsh life of fur trappers in Montana and Dakota. It’s loosely based on the real life story of Hugh Glass, who was savagely mauled by a bear as he escaped from the Arikara . At first he was carried away, but was then left for dead. He came to and realised he had to move. Hampered with a broken leg, a back sliced open, he crawled away. He was 200 miles from home. The film charts his progress as he lives only to get revenge on the man who left him for dead. It is violent and bloody. I enjoyed the book and the film. I find it easier to read about the violence than to watch it. The winter scenery is breathtaking. It also heightens the difficulty of travelling even when fit, let alone when injured.

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx

I’ve had my velvet crush for as long as I can remember. I had a velvety teddy that became threadbare by the time I was three. I still have a patchwork velvet waistcoat I treasured in my teens.

It’s not the look of velvet, it’s the feel. Rubbing velvet between my fingers is the ultimate comfort. It’s an irresistible urge. If I see velvet, I have to touch it.

For me, what I wear is as much about how it feels as how it looks.

Apparently, according to Wikipedia, ‘velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel.’ Sounds less soft and delicious than it feels.  And then there’s crushed velvet – another level of sensation altogether. I have to be in the right mood for crushed velvet – it messes with my senses somehow.

Velvet is seen as luxurious. Because of its unusual softness and appearance as well as its high cost of production. Throughout the centuries, it’s been linked with nobility, ecclesiastical vestments, royal and state robes, and sumptuous hangings. I read that in 1399, King Richard II of England directed in his will that his body should be clothed in velveto. I’d love to do that too. I have just the dress. A high-necked black velvet dress with lace sleeves.

velvetThat dress was my first purchase one minute past midnight on New Year’s Day after a year of not buying any clothes at all.

I don’t wear it to look noble or part of the rich crowd. I wear it because it feels unbelievably amazing. I have a green paisley velvet coat that feels (and maybe looks) divine. I feel special all wrapped up in it.

You can always find velvet somewhere if you look hard enough. This year, however, you don’t have to look hard at all. Velvet is everywhere. On the High Street and the red carpets. Just this last week, Emma Stone wore a chic black velvet dress for Variety Studio: Actors on Actors in Los Angeles.

Now I have to allow more time for shopping. I can’t make it through a clothes shop without touching every velvet item that I see. I have to put my hands in my pockets to stop me touching other people wearing velvet. It’s a real issue!

So forgive me if I’m wearing velvet every time you see me.

It’s one of my greatest pleasures of this season.



On Sunday 11 September 2016, Becky ran the Great North Run. And this is why –

beckyMy husband Chris was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease in 2014. Huntington’s Disease is a degenerative neurological disorder affecting thinking, movement and behaviour. ‘HD’ is an illness which changes everything. As a family we are learning about living and loving in new ways, some painful but at times joyful too. Knowing that we are not alone and we have the support of the ‘Huntington’s Disease Association’ really helps. There are exciting developments and new treatments being tested all the time and we have had the opportunity to be part of these groundbreaking studies in this last year… I sat in comfort and watched the GNR at home last year, it’s such an emotional, good spirited local event and I couldn’t think of a good enough reason not to take part this year to help raise awareness and some much needed funds. I’m hoping to complete this whole half marathon with good friends and good cheer – however long it may take!

This was her story on her JustGiving page, through which she raised over £1500!

For the last 16 years, Becky has worked for the Gateshead Young Carers Team, which supports young carers aged 5-25 in the area emotionally and practically. The Team organises social activities to give these young carers a break and time to enjoy themselves. These children and young people may be living with and caring for a parent or a sibling with mental health issues, long term illness, drug and alcohol misuse or physical disability. Sometimes support is needed through a bereavement. Becky goes into schools to offer counselling and support around various mental health issues, often including low self-esteem and low confidence.

Through her work and her training as a counsellor, Becky knows all about the importance of self-care. But how much harder is it when you yourself are the one in need of self-care?

It’s really helped me every step of the way to have the background and knowledge that I’ve gained over the years. This is such a slow and progressive illness and so we are having to deal with gradual change. From my training, I know how important self-care is and so part of accepting that diagnosis back in 2014 was a commitment to looking after myself.

So how does Becky put self-care into practice?

  • being organised. Getting everything in order so it’s easier to manage on a daily basis makes life a lot less complicated.
  • stripping away all that is not necessary makes life simpler and easier to manage too.
  • taking a holiday away with the kids in the sun was restorative although a big hurdle to go away without Chris for the first time
  • exercising with others. That’s where the running comes in – and yoga and Zumba.
  • creative stuff. Becky is rediscovering a love of dance and a love of writing poetry. Dance classes encouraged her to try her hardest which then spilled over into other areas of her life.
  • listening to inspiring podcasts.
  • counselling courses.
  • her faith.

But let’s return to where we started, to the Great North Run, because running has become an important part of Becky’s life. Surprisingly for her.

She was inspired to give running a go when she was consciously undergoing a year of challenges and pushing herself to try new things. Things she didn’t really believe she could do or even wanted to do. Running fitted that description! She saw I was starting a group for Reluctant Runners and signed up. It was a good fit for her. She loved the fresh air and connection with nature. It made her feel fully alive. She was able to open up and share stuff she may not have been able to do face to face across a table with someone.

She entered the Blaydon Race with me on 9 June 2015. It was the first time she’d publicly told their HD story and it was almost like a public statement – it somehow made it easier to talk about with the link to running. On the day of the race, everything was a blur. Becky felt under enormous pressure with all the money she raised. But the end was so exhilarating!

When she watched the Great North Run on TV a couple of months later, she sobbed all the way through it. She knew she had to do it the following year. She enjoyed the preparation and the depth of friendship and trust that came with that. When she arrived at the start, she met a young girl in an HD running shirt like herself. She was running with her whole family and was keen to introduce Becky to them. They all chatted and had photos together before the start of the race. Becky found this emotionally draining and hard to process with all that was going on. It was like a sign. From the start, the whole race was not at all what she had expected. She didn’t enjoy any of it or find any of it easy. It was hot and every step was a struggle. As she crossed the finish line, she expected to feel elated, but all she felt was numb. However, by the time she got home, she was elated and knew without a shadow of a doubt that she wanted to run again. She wanted all the positive effects of running in her life – feeling connected with living, achieving something, feeling fabulous, focusing in that moment on that one thing.

And so running will continue. Not distance running any more, but maybe a 10k just for fun next year. Trying to build up a bit more speed. It’s great to see how Becky’s found her thing.

Becky is amazing. And here are some more reasons why.

She’s not frightened of change. She believes you have to face it and not avoid it, however hard that may be.

By her own admission, she has a sunny nature which she’s very grateful for. If she feels low today, she knows she’ll be fine tomorrow.

She’s grateful for being brought up in deprived areas (her dad was a vicar) because it helps her find perspective and feel comfortable in any setting she may find herself in with her work.

She admires and learns from the resilience and coping strategies of the young people she has the privilege to work with.

She feels privileged to come alongside people in their tragedy and sees tragedy as a way to peek into your own soul and into the souls of others.

She knows that life isn’t just about the HD diagnosis and that everything else is going on as well at the same time.

She feels lucky to have two lovely friends in a similar situation to her own who really get it.

She’s hopeful about the HD research that’s going on into gene silencing.

And finally, she tries to be a role model of self care for her children. I think she’s so much more than that. I think she can be a role model of self care for us all.




Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…




In my first bought house, the trees were in the middle of the street. I lived in the Gardens in Low Fell. Two lines of terraces faced each other, separated by a line of tall trees, mostly sycamore and ash. They were always a joy to behold during each changing season. I hasten to add they were also a safety catch, when slipping and sliding downhill on the icy paths. In my present house, there stands a glorious beech tree. When my daughter moved into the attic, the crows noisily living in the top branches expressed their dissatisfaction and decamped. They took their nest apart branch by branch and moved into the trees further along. Obviously they felt overlooked or her loud music was not to their taste haha. Today I have filled six large sacks with leaves, which will rot down for compost. What a great workout that was, as I raked the grass and picked up the leaves. The nearby copper beech added its leaves too very considerately. The tree also provides branches for a swing, a very well-used swing. We are so blessed to be living near trees.


linda-10Old photos make me smile and laugh. This record of changing fashions and hairstyles is frankly hilarious. All parents have the photo to show future partners of their children an embarrassing picture of their child. Having lived through the 60’s with long hair, the 70’s perms followed – yes those heads of super curls worked on even my hair! They led to the 80’s and curly bobs. Fantastic or fantastically funny! Oh and yes, that is me on the right watching my son on sports day, sitting with Marj Ridley and Carol Anderson. Skirt lengths went from minis to maxis and midis and hairstyles matched them. Digital snaps are great and the ease of deleting rejected images is very useful, but I hope they last like hard copies of photos.


As it was my turn to select a book for book club, I chose The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux. This is my all time favourite crime book. I decided to read it again after a friend from a former work book club facebooked me. She had kept it when she downsized house and after a few pages was hooked again by the language and imagery. It is about two brothers. Set in 1923 in a logging camp, Louisiana, one goes to bring his brother home. The setting echoes a saloon frontier town and its hardship life. As Byron tries to turn the fortunes of the sawmill around, he faces the often brutal realities of such a life. Life with the snakes, violence, whisky and rival gangsters is hard. One review mentioned ‘a slowly creeping sense of dread’ which I loved. I love the way his words made me feel as though I was there, sharing each disaster. Loved it!

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx