Saturdays are for Shakespeare 

At Marylebone station, just after coffee and breakfast at Patisserie Valerie, we board the train on platform B, heading towards Birmingham. At around 11.13, we change platforms at Dorrige for the London midland train to Stratford Upon Avon. A very convenient train ride I thought, seeing as it bought my sister and I quality time to catch up and gossip about everything. Moments like that can be very difficult to achieve with this crazy general addiction to phones, gadgets, tv and a very busy life we all have. 
We FaceTime her kids, enroute and I end up speaking briefly to my cute niece. nephew and my mum not without noticing the imp seated opposite me who wouldn’t leave me any leg room and thought he would spread his legs and intimidate me to coil into terror on my seat. I stamped his feet and said sorry. 

Arrived SUA at approximately 11.40. Wandered around the old town and explored the vintage shops. We bought books from the Blue Cross charity store. I got travel books and my sister got my niece, more books!!

We head to Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley street where we had a deserving tour of the world’s greatest literary icon’s home and family heritage. 

What a beautiful experience and an honor to visit William Shakespeare’s home. A legend whose works I buried my brain deep and endlessly for years studying and trying to figure it all whilst in university. 

We do the entire home and galleries. It was absolutely rewarding and refreshing. 


We head to a restaurant in the old town square area for light lunch. I had a lentil and carrot soup served with some bread and some peppermint tea. My sister had chicken and chips and a cappuccino. Don’t ask me about the combination of flavors stemming from my meal. 

We walked to the well renowned butterfly farm taking in the breathtaking scenic views of the town and lakes. Again, such a fascinating experience of the butterflies filled with nature, colours, and beauty in its finest. I must add it was very warm in the flight area but it was bloody worth it. 

Loved every moment of the fame. Is it Sod’s Law or could I tag it as the highlight of my day when a butterfly decided to clasp onto my jeans for nearly 10 minutes and wouldn’t fly away even after gently nudging it. Oh wow! It felt wonderful. I was loved by this butterfly. 


We then head to the Grosvernor Hotel just around 0.4 miles from the farm for Bubbly Afternoon Tea. It was prebooked weeks ago in anticipation of my sister’s visit. Looked forward to it. 


Anyway we tried teas we had never had before. We went for the Royal bouquet, a caffeine free tea with lots of rich fruity flavors which is meant to be enriching and nourishing. 2 glasses of prosecco, (thank you very much!), scones and fine hand-cut sandwiches and all sorts of sweet treats that we barely touched. It was great! No it wasn’t. 

Not only had my sister and I gone into monstrous argument where we were (regrettably, I must add) raising our voices to an extent that the staff approached us to ask if everything was ok but the hotel was actual shit. There was a wedding happening as well so it was a little chaotic. Definitely not my class nor style. Seemed very dull and disorganized. The tables were all untidy which put me off already. The staff weren’t so friendly and I just got bored. There was no ambience whatsoever. If it’s not Claridges, Harrods, Ritz and other top class high tea rooms in that category, never again will I sit in a low class hotel to have tea. I may as well drink fine tea in the ambience of my own home. 

But I had to use the tea voucher as it had been gifted and I activated the voucher months ago which then left me with a redeemable expiry bracket. 

Stuffed and in need for air after two pots of tea and two glasses of prosecco, we head out. 

At 16.20, we walk back to SUA station. No, we actually ran as we were running late at this point and had the 16.40 train to catch to Leamington Spa for a change to London Marylebone. We made it. 

Through each station across the Warwickshire geographical footprint lay shades of generally grey, miserable and rainy England. The train ride was bleh and they were a bunch of arseholes who boarded the quiet area and roared the whole time. 

Oh well…

But overall, we were honored to have had this beautiful experience and ticked one or two things of the bucket list. 

As we couldn’t make it to the Anna Hathaway cottage, it would be at least the one singular thing that will certainly bring me back to Stratford Upon Avon. 

We arrive London Marylebone at 18.50, through the gates and to the Bakerloo line, home bound. 

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Yves Saint Laurent; the legacy of art stamped in history 

The preservation of the legacy of one of fashion’s ever greatest designers. 


The one and only legendary Yves Saint Laurent. 


Marrakech 

It rained relentlessly for most of the first week YSL spent in Marrakech. This relatively rare event began on the day the fashion fashion designer and his partner Pierre Berge arrived in February 1966.

RIP

Pierre Berge passed away aged 86 in his sleep last Friday, 8th September at his home in Saint-Remy-de Provence. 


The concierge at La Mamounia hotel assured them the weather would improve and after a few days, it cleared, the sun shone, the scent of jasmine drifted through the warm air and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains appeared in the distance. 

*****************

Marrakech, a city after my own heart. 

YSL, the talented legendary designer. The significance of my birthday and his death has always kept me close to his story and his life even after death. 

The Film; Yves Saint Laurent 


I saw Yves Saint Laurent in 2014 with my brother at the Stratford Picture House Cinema. It’s a French narrative and recollection of the biography of YSL made into a dramatic film, directed by Jalil Lespert and co-written with Jacques Fieschi, Jérémie Guez and Marie-Pierre Huster. 

The film is based on the life of Yves Saint Laurent from 1958 -2008.

The film depicts the milestone of YSL after his dismissal from the House of Dior, Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) with his lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne) and how he builds a formidable fashion empire.

It was also an insight into his life as an open gay designer living in Paris and some of the challenges he dealt with i.e drug use etc.

Film critic reviews were not great but hey, it was a good watch. 

Have I stressed my love for YSL and Tom Ford? The pair of them = phenomenal.

2017 seems to be a year of celebrating YSL’s life after death. Wasn’t it earlier this year, I was looking online at the exhibitions of YSL’s “Perfection of Style” at the Seattle Art Museum.


Last week wide eyed and in lust at the new (un)affordable Supreme Bouquet fragrance which must join my perfume collection before the end of the year. 


Now I stumble upon ‘The Pursuit of Beauty’ on the British Airways Highlife Magazine, inflight and inbound to the Isle of Man over the weekend.

********************

For Yves Saint Laurent, a visit to Marrakech in 1966 was the start of a love affair that endured his entire life. 

Now, a new museum paying tribute to the late designer opens this autumn. His story will reveal reports of those who witnessed how the North African city inspired one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th Century. 

The new Musee Yves Saint Laurent will open in Marrakech on 19th October 2017.


But wait! It’s not all!!!

The Musee YSL Paris also opens in Avenue Marceau on 3rd October. Oh, so Paris! 



Dedicated to shedding light on the life of the French designer, the Paris museum will open the doors of Yves’ former studio, whilst the Marrakech space will remain in the Majorelle gardens and will include a library, a concert hall, and a sprawling exhibition space inside of a terra cotta building. 

You know what this means, for the culture and art enthusiast? 2 additional bullet points on my bucket list. 

” I wanted to return to a true femininity by accumulating les and ornaments which, of all time, helped to charm women. ”

Yves Saint Laurent


He did it through this legacy of preservation.  

I am ultimately one of those women charmed by him.

Reti-No-Pity; I rolled my eyes so much, my brain hurt 

One of the things I consider responsible, is the ability to act proactively and positively on the basis of knowledge. 
Many doctors and clinicians would know about diabetic retinopathy really well. 

Many members of the general public would. But they may not have ever heard of sickle retinopathy. 

People would generally get what you are talking about when you mention sickle retinopathy because of the known association with diabetes and vision.

1 in 10 people are diabetic. See? There is power in numbers. 

Majority of your Type 1s will be screened regularly for diabetic retinopathy. 

The last consultant who saw me told me if I was diabetic, they would be genuinely worried about my diagnosis. The fact that there is a risk that vessels in the eyes could burst and lead to hemorrhage causing sudden loss of sight is scary. Fortunately, this isn’t always the case in sickle. It’s very rare for a burst and vessels will tend to scar off.

The first time retina haemorrhage was ever associated with sickle was in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that scientists and clinicians were able to understand the underlying mechanism of sickle retinopathy as it was later identified that the occlusion of small vessels which were caused by the sickling process resulted in changes/ damages in the retina. 

Ha, the ‘eureka’ moment. 

My diagnosis is non-proliferative sickle retinopathy. 

*****************

Every year I ensure I get an annual eye check on the high street to ensure my vision is fine and there are no major risk factors. It’s the responsible thing to do right?

The silly and unsettling thing about checks is that 9 out of 10 times, there is likely to be a finding that you are not looking forward to but early diagnosis is a powerful thing when you have a complicated disorder such as sickle cell. It’s a life saver. 

The eyes; one of the main 5 human senses. It’s the core to calibrate, to express, to communicate, to process signals and messages to the brain, to see danger and be able to flee, to educate by reading, observing, sensing, it’s the core sense to enable living, to enable life and reality. 

One cannot underestimate the power of vision. Good vision. 

So here is my narrative…

The latest eye test I had in Spring 2017 identified some changes with my sight and I was re-referred to medical retina at Moorfields Eye Hospital after being initially discharged in 2015. 

I say re-referred because I was under their management but I still cannot understand why I was discharged in the first place. 

Someone at risk of retinopathy, you would think that I would be kept on their books right? No!

They probably thought I didn’t need to be followed up regularly because there were no significant changes to my eyes. But actually, they were and this is where some clinicians get it wrong and most times to the detriment of patients. I work in the NHS so I get the fact that a reduction in the number of follow ups results in savings. However, when a patient is considered clinically high risk, the clinical decision to discharge them can often be the wrong move and that’s where I felt like the decline in my sight was missed. 

The initial referral to Moorfields stemmed from symptoms I had started to experience in 2014 with blurred vision, blackouts, migraines/ headaches etc. My then consultant made a judgement based on my reports and advised it was wise to get to A&E at Moorfields. 

They discharged me after a few follow ups. 

A year later, my high street optician saw what he described as a ‘birthmark’ at the back of my right eye when conducting an eye check.

He asked me if I knew about this. Of course not, I had no idea! How was I suppose to know about a birthmark at the back of my eye. It’s a ridiculous question. 

Unbeknown to him or I, the birthmark was a lumped vessel resulting from a past crisis probably when I was much younger. It was situated in a non-peripheral area in my eye. This means it doesn’t necessarily impact on my actual vision. It was sickle retinopathy. 

I have been followed up since then at Moorfields and today was an eye opener to what real patient experience can be like. 

Anyway fast forward to today’s appointment at the eye hospital, here is a recollection of my morning. 

My appointment was for 8.30am

I arrived Clinic 12 at 8.15

It’s past 8.30 there are no Receptionists out there to attend to patients.  SMH!


8.45 The nurses call me for a vision and eye pressure test including general observations and assessments. 

8.54 I have been given two stingy eye drops to dilate my pupils resulting in some discomfort. I clean up the residue of drops and my mascara leaves its own signifying residue on the tissues.

Nurse sends me out with a green card to medical imaging. 

8.57 I walk over to hand over my green card to medical imaging for my scans and photographs. 

While I wait, I fetch some water to drink next to the coffee vending machine. It’s cold. I sigh. 

There is no mobile network at the eye hospital. I am bored. 

I wait while I sit writing some of this as my pupils dialate and my vision slowly blurs into a cloud-like vision. 

I want a coffee and a croissant badly but I can’t find my way through the corridors. My vision is almost gone. The walk to the imaging rooms are not up to 5 metres from where I am sitting. It’s ok, I thought. 

I also wonder when I will ever stop sitting in hospital corridors waiting for appointments. It’s not dejavu each time I am there, it’s real. 

I wonder if everyone here who is black in Professor’s Tufial’s clinic has sickle. I am pretty certain 80% of people here have diabetic retinopathy. 

9.20 Doctor calls me. However, scans haven’t been done yet so she orders an additional scan which she thought was more important than what the nurses ordered. 

She tells me she will call me again. 

9.35 I have my OCT scan. 

This involves staying still and looking straight at a bright shiny green X like shaped light located right in the middle of the machine as a red line goes across it for 10 seconds. 

My eyes water from staring still and being wide eyed. 

Sigh

9.37 more photographs taken at the Laser Suite. This involves titling your head to one side of the machine and looking at circular lights with eyes again, wide open and before you know it, Click, Light, Flash!

9.43 Back to Clinic 12 waiting to be called. 

9.50 Doctor calls

More examinations. I realize she must be a junior doctor as she says she needs to speak to the consultant.

For Petes sakes I thought! I used a rude word, make no mistake!

She admits to not knowing a lot about sickle retinopathy and I wonder to myself, why waste my time? I was actually scheduled to see a consultant as you can see from my letter. 


Anyway she does her thing and goes back and forth to speak to the consultant for advice and finally comes back to order more tests. 

2 additional OCTs. 

Really? I was irritated at this point. 

She explains that the consultant ordered the additional scans because of the reports I gave about my labored vision. 

She explains that these are more sophisticated tests which will give a true and detailed indication of any risks to my vision. I was grateful for this and for the fact that I can access the best technology for my treatment in one of the world’s most renowned eye hospitals. So I became less irritated (only for 10 mins).

10.23 back to the Laser Suite. This scan involves a similar bright green X like light for focal view. It’s an OCT as well. 

10.32 my next scan involves looking straight and still into a blue circular light for focus whilst a red line scanned horizontally through it. 

“Look at the center and keep your eyes on the blue dot” he says. 

Click!

He scans both eyes.

Next stop, another scan, same machine, brighter lights with additional lens added on. 

Focal vision for photography.

Again, Click! 

I am mentally and physically exhausted. 

10.34 back to Clinic 12, again, waiting to be called back for the umpteenth time by the doctor. 

These scans are great and I am truly fascinated they are able to give an accurate 3D view of any issues in the retina which old technology would not have been able to support. It is indeed phenomenal but this clinic is so disorganized it’s unreal. 

11.10 still waiting in Clinic 12. 

11.25 I am still waiting for the doctor. I walk up to reception to ask them to let the doctor know I was in a hurry to get to work. I am terribly irritated at the length of time spent and I become claustrophobic. 

11.27 I got called in! Phew! Finally! 

She tells me that upon examination of those additional scans, there are no major changes to both eyes from the last diagnosis.

Yay! 

However, they will continue to monitor me and will see me again in 4 months because changes can obviously occur in a short time frame. 

She tells me that the OCT scans will serve as a baseline for future diagnosis and the decision to treat where appropriate. 

I am grateful for the ability to challenge my clinicians and ask questions about these things and working in the health sector gives me insight to challenge my care. 

She also asked me to visit my optician again to check my glasses as the scans don’t show any reason why there should be a significant visual change. 

I was asked to bring in my optician’s report at the next appointment. 

I say thanks to her and she apologized for the long waits, I take a photo of my eye images indicating the sunbursts. She smiles at that singular action with an expression that read on her face “this patient is a pain”! 


(Left and right eyes showing the sun bursts)

I say goodbye.

But with a strong conviction to give all the staff there the middle finger for keeping me for nearly 4 hours in the basement of the hospital. 

It was a terrible morning. But I am fine. 

11.36 I exit the hospital. 
***(For anyone who has sickle cell, please get regular checks for symptoms of retinopathy) 

Nothing beats feet 

On Wednesday, 29th March, I had the last of 4 FREE sessions of reflexology treatments carried out successively over an 8 week period. The sessions were offered to me by Denise, my lovely and very expert reflexologist. She is expert and I will tell you why shortly. 
In very simple terms, reflexology is the therapy of the feet. 

According to the Association of Reflexologists, Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet,lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body. 

So basically one’s entire anatomy can be reflected on one’s feet via reflexology.

This year, I have had quite a few ‘firsts’ and experiencing reflexology was one of them. 

Denise was looking to see how reflexology treatments can significantly improve the lives of people living with sickle cell. There is no real evidence of these treatments having significant effects on sickle cell. So I thought it was a brilliant idea that she was exploring this. 

Denise offered a number of Hackney sickle patients the free sessions and I was one of a very small few to take on the sessions. I am not from Hackney but utilize Hackney health services. 

Denise will be writing up a research report about reflexology in sickle cell and hopefully I can feature as one of her case studies. 

On my last session, I was discussing with Denise about potentially accessing further treatments and how this could do a lot of good for my blood flow. 

I expressed how reflexology has helped me and couldn’t have expressed it enough but some experiences are difficult to express or write especially on a feed back form – of course her clients will have to do this for her service as part of her best practice standards and her evaluation framework. 

So I thought to write about it on a very personal level. Afterall, thats what I do right? 

So focusing on the last session, as that’s the one my memory seems to be quite in tune with. I have had to test my memory on this one. 

I arrived at her lovely house/ studio in North London. As always she made me feel extremely comfortable on the massage bed, tweaking relaxation positions, the fragrance in the air filled with lavender and a citric mix. Subtle jazzy tunes in the background, we exchanged pleasantries and I went into the zen mood. 

Denise used oils with elements containing sage, lemon, geraniums and citrus. She used a sweet orange balm also. 

These oils are meant to be great for circulation, the lymphatic system and the digestive system. 

As sickle cell affects the flow of oxygen and the blood cells get stuck in the blood vessels, one can see how this therapy can benefit people like me. 

So back to the oils, what this means from a zen point of view is that those flavors of oils can in turn help to lift any feelings of depression, hurting emotions and anxiety. 

People don’t care about these things but I do. Wellbeing is extremely important to me. 

I know it definitely helped relax me over those last couple of weeks as I was starting a new job and taking on a new role in my career and believe it or not, anything that takes me away from my comfort zone creates a low level of anxiety and this is coming from someone who flirts with change. 

Throughout my treatment, Denise was able to see my anatomy and assess my physiology just by looking at my feet. To be honest, at first, I thought ‘what a load of shit’ after reading about reflexology online but she changed everything. I am not a very cynical person and tend to have a very open mind to a great number of things. 

I have always believed in having an open mind and positive consciousness to everything one does. It makes a whole lot of a difference with injecting positivity and light into our lives. 

What did Denise see?:

She saw I had issues with my lungs in the past. I confirmed to her I had quite a few acute chest syndromes and bad pneumonias which nearly took my life. 

She confirmed a high level of toxins in the my body from eating lots of carbs. I confirmed I ate toast most mornings, potatoes with my proteins, pudding some weekend evenings, and that I liked my mid day snacks and the odd doughnuts. She asked me to get rid of that diet.

I did. 

For 2 days or was it 2 minutes…

LOL

My partner totally agreed and I told Denise how my partner was in turn trying to get me a way from snacking unhealthy things. 

Denise literally asked me to high five him. After much struggle, I have cut down on carbs, bread and stuff like doughnuts and shit like that. 

Note the words ‘cut down’

She saw I had abnormal changes in my reproductive areas and I confirmed to her that that week I had received some results after my cervical screening about abnormal cell changes which obviously freaked me out. The changes had occurred due to my low immunity and the treatment I had being taken for my sickle. 

And finally she was able to detect the issues I had with my eyes – sickle retinopathy and that was when I thought, the woman is a freaking genius! 

She is brilliant at what she does. 

So yes that was by initial contact and experience with reflexology.

Did I mention that the moment Denise touches my feet, I fall asleep on the massage bed until she gives me a gentle tap to wake once she has completed the therapy. I look at my watch and I wonder where all that time went? I had been sleeping for 70 mins, deeply I must add, snoring and 🤤 drooling like a moron.

That’s the effect she has on me and it would be interesting to know about others. A friend of mine attends her therapy and also speaks highly of her experience with Denise’s treatment.

It’s always divine after she is done with me. I feel lighter, relaxed, my circulation is perfecto, I have no anxieties, I am generally just a happy girl for the next couple of weeks and that’s what massage therapy and reflexology does for me. 

Denise is rare gem. 

I have since continued my therapy even after my four free sessions and it’s been bloody brilliant! 

My net session is tomrrow and it’s something I always look forward. I consider treatments like this, gifts to my body and soul. 

Tonight’s menu 

At home…

Sea bass stuffed with dill with rocket avocado salads and home made French dressing served with sautéed seasonal potatoes and a glass of chilled Tannat, 2013 Uruguayan white wine. 
#lovemylifeandmyman

Dejavu 2017 and others; the captivating art of Lisa Yuskavage

Yesterday I matched to my favourite hang out spot in London – Mayfair, home to the most affluent of society. I went to go see a gallery exhibition which I had read about earlier in the week on Timeout London. 
I had never heard of Lisa Yuskavage and saw the synopsis of her work was being exhibited at the David Zwirner gallery both in London, Grafton street and in New York. 

Of course, as a lover of art and culture, I decided to jaunt to Mayfair to see her work. 

American Lisa Yuskavage’s work was captivating. There was a private view at the gallery on 6th June and then became open to the public from the 7th June to 28th July. 

There will be a guided tour of the actual exhibition on Mayfair Art Weekend at the end of June. 

With a rather contemporary style,, Lisa has developed her own genre of portraiture in which lavish, erotic, angelic and at times grotesque characters are cast with fantastical landscapes or domestic spaces. 

I interpreted her work as a way of breaking the norm which has conventionally body shamed women in modern generations. Her work was so visually paradoxical, it enabled me to recognise the art of the male and female human anatomy, erotic nuances and nudity. 

There were two floors exhibiting Yuskavage’s work in Zwirner’s gallery, with around 12-15 portraits between them. Very sparsely laid out with access to mental and physical headspace to take in the interpretations of artistic meanings. 

According to the synopsis of the exhibition, it includes several works that continue Yuskavage’s exploration of the dynamics of intertwined couples, while also furthering her interest in using colour as a vehicle for ideational content. 

Begun in the 2000s with dual portraits of female figures, she has in recent years created a series of symbolic depictions of a female and male couple. Their relationship appears determined by carefully selected colour harmonies or contrasts- in some cases, one figure is cast by vibrant hues, while the other is in neutral tones. 

Probably unnoticed by many viewers, the women were depicted to be loudly more dominant on the scene than the men. 

Other paintings in the exhibition depict single women or groups with psychological narratives of tenderness and tension likewise described by formal elements within the compositions. 

Lisa was born in Philadelphia, Pensilvania and I assumed possibly from Eastern European descent. Since 2005, Lisa’s work has been represented by David Zwirner and this particular exhibition has been her first with David in London. So there I was attending her first debut in my beloved city. 

Her work continues to receive positive appraisals and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide and has lectured on the subject of her own work as well as other artists including Giorgio de Chrico, Philip Guston, Francis Picabia and Edouard Vuillard whose specific work I am familiar with. 

Bur what will make it more memorable is the fact that on a hot summer day in London after sweating like a pig on heat on the Central line and walking 10’mins to Dover Street from Oxford Circus, it was the most welcoming respite to a cool air-conditioned beautiful gallery with shades of light and space. 

The beautiful things are sometimes free. We just need to find them. 

Longleat was everything 

What a beautiful weekend at Longleat with some of the most beautiful animals in the world, a safari of all sorts of cats and birds, a well kept land of conservation, crazy land mass, a taste of exotic English Heritage, mingling with the Aristocrats who own this mind blowing estate, lots of education on 17th C history and the legacies of the Viscounts, food stalls and Nadia, the chef in the building, the sophistication of Lady Emma’s exclusive afternoon tea and that fab vintage china tea set, touring Lord Bath’s castle and more importantly enjoying time with my lovely Carol who was treating me to a belated birthday treat. 
My Carol 😍

I have to mention that one of my highlights was when the beautiful Viscountess, Emma Weymouth whom I absolutely adore and admire stopped to say hey to us and told me after I had obviously complemented her, “you are absolutely beautiful”. 

Awww, bless her. 

Of course I blushed…and thanked her. I told her we were booked for her exclusive tea and she said she would meet us at the Orangery for a meet and greet. What a lovely young lady. 

She actually got married at the Orangery. The modesty though…

A remarkably beautiful soul and even more stunning in real life. 

And to end the weekend was steak night for dinner with my love. 

I am blessed…

I must say it’s always refreshing to have a taste of the country with limited or no access to network.

My memories of the little old town that inhabits many retired pensioners, Warminster…

Longleat…


In light of today’s happenings

When the Thai woman at the bar says to us in Chiang Mai…”Sorry we cannot serve any more beers today after 10 because of the Erection tomorrow…”
Silence 
Confused face 
Errrm…
Awkward…
She continues…the erection, we have the erection tomorrow?
Silence…
Oh right…
Duh
Right, you mean election?
Yeah erection…
😂

Manchester x

Last night, I was talking to my ‘babba’ about how I am providing expertise to NICE – National Institute of Clinical Excellence.
I was due to travel to Manchester in the morning of 23rd May. 

He read my little blurb/biography which they had put together together with other experts across the country and he said ‘I am really proud of you honey’.

We went to bed…

I woke at 6.07. Had a 9am train to catch. 

Kissed him good morning. Jumped into the shower. 

As I applied conditioner to my hair, whilst he was having a ‘lie in’, he said ‘darling, there has been an explosion in Manchester, can you switch on the tele’.

He saw the breaking news on his phone.

I switched on the tele and there it was.

19 people dead and just under the hour, 22 confirmed dead, 59 injured. 

I was numb.

‘What is this?’

This is not the sort of news anyone wants to hear soon after you have just woken. 

Shell shocked and standing there like a lemon, I was silent. Quite disconcerting too, I must add. 

‘Are you sure I should go ahead with this trip?’

‘Of course’ he said, ‘until you hear otherwise’. 

Right.

So I jump back into the shower. Get dressed. He made me breakfast and I made my way to Manchester for the very first time. 

Got off at Piccadilly Station, (thankfully, it wasn’t closed) and walk to NICE offices. 

As I strolled there, I whisper in my heart, fear shall never prevail over bravery. Terror will never bring us down. Fear shall never win over acts of kindness and acts of service. 

Today, I have taken annual leave and I am providing an act of service.

I am thinking of all the first responders who continue to serve this country and save lives when these bloody attacks happen. 

But firstly and more importantly, not without holding these innocent lives taken away from the earth in my prayers and my thoughts. Praying that their families who are clearly and utterly devastated by this terror attack are comforted and can muster some strength to go through this horrible phase.

I will never understand the evil happening in this world.

For those children and young people, who never got to live life and see their potential, it has to be the most devastating thing any parent can go through. My heart is broken for them. 

Manchester was evident in the spirit of love, bravery and unity today. People out and about their day to day stuff. 

Hope.

It turned out to be a productive day for me. 

I made my way back to London and left Manchester with a prayer of healing. 

She could have been a 100 

Dancing cheek to cheek, I am dreaming a little dream of you, I get a kick out of you, because I am sailing over a paper moon, because it wouldn’t be make-believe if I believed in you.
Celebrating one my music legends, the Queen of Jazz, my beautiful Ella Fitzgerald who eternally fascinates me with her voice.