Autumn arriving?

I’ve been sewing most of the day and at 19.30 I turned a light on to cut fabric. Thats the first time in several months that I’ve needed the lamp. Everyone tells me this has been a great summer and unusually warm and sunny. I am now very glad that I invested in two deck chairs at the beginning of summer. At the time, I wondered if I would be jinxing the summer but I have been out most days even if only for a few minutes. The sun has been a godsend to me on days when I feel alone. Reading in strong sunlight, feeling the heat on my skin and being able to go outside without needing two or three layers has been a joy. Soon I will leave the islands and head north to the Spring. I hear its cold in London but I see that many friends are posting photos of strong sunlit days. I look forward to catching up with people, sorting my garden and welcoming the summer again but at a different latitude.

 

Where did that year go?

I can’t quite believe that its only 4 weeks until I return to the UK. My first appointment is on 13th March. Whilst I am looking forward to it and to working with amazing people, I can’t help feeling just a little bit sad about the fact that this year has flown by so quickly. A bit of me wishes I could start the year again.

I’ve made some new friends and I hope we will remain in contact for the rest of my life. They have definitely enriched my stay on the Falkland Islands and I hope to host each of them one day in the UK.

With only 4 weeks left,  how should I best use my time? Packing, worrying, deciding what to keep and what to sell, rushing around to buy gifts for people in UK? No, I think I will use it to do what a very good friend suggested ‘use the time to lay down memories’.

So, that, my dear friends, is what I intend to do. Yesterday I spent time with an amazing group of women, knitting, nattering and stitching. Today, I will hang out with two very creative women and we may do some knitting or we may just natter. I will then meet a woman who is travelling around the islands on her own and she will join me and John for supper here – assuming she survives Volunteer Point.  Then this weekend more catch ups and, in-between times, some sewing and crafting. I’ve been very busy doing all sorts of things I never knew I could or wanted to do. Photos to follow.

I love the islands and I love the people. I find many of the local people – Falkland Islanders – are my favourites. It is  a rich pool of people drawn from different parts who live here and are creating one of the richest countries in the world (per capita GDP).

Things I’ve managed to do whilst here? Well, they include:

  1. Starting to write my novel. I have a fab writing coach and this year we moved from doing exercises to getting on with it. I am enjoying the porjecss and have a deadline for publication which is 20.02.20 I thought it an auspicious date but who knows it may take longer or be ready earlier we will see what the next few months allows.
  2. Doing yoga or pilates daily. I also now try to do TaiChi regularly and I move ‘a lot’. I haven’t lost any more weight but I feel good and well and happy. I may have to give in and accept that I will be fat forever but at least I can do a good downward dog and have reasonably good balance and flexibility. Stamina is still work in progress.
  3. Flexitarian – apparently thats what we’ve become. We are not vegetarian but we follow a vegetarian diet for some of most weeks. The difficulty in getting fresh chicken and fresh fish here started our journey into eating veg only meals. Its possibly something we will discontinue when we get home to the UK and when choice is greater.
  4. Sewing, knitting and all sorts of crafting have become a way of life for me. I love the wondrous things I see people make here. I love that one of my friends spends so much time and effort spinning, dyeing and weaving her wool. Its a work of love and the output is beautiful, skilful and joyous to see. I can’t wait to start using some of her wool when I get back to the UK.
  5. Joining groups is something I’ve never really done in the UK as I find myself a bit awkward in such situations, but I love it. I love the sense of community you get from meeting people on a regular basis. Particularly when you share a common interest. I will miss the groups here but hope to see some people when we are back in the UK. I will also seek out similar groups in London to connect with.
  6. Wildlife, birds, botany, geology are all of interest to me but I have learnt so much more whilst living here.  I have met some awesome scientists whilst staying here and I hope to follow their progress through social media but I can also attend events in the UK and get more interested in my local geology. I have always enjoyed living by the river and the abundant wildlife we see I will be rejoining Wetlands centre in Barnes and attending more of their talks and walks. I feel so very lucky to have that on my doorstep.
  7. Relaxed, read books, allowed time to read books and time to have a coffee and a chat whenever the opportunity presented itself. I really hope I can keep that sense of relaxation and allow myself time to sit and read or just sit and chat over a coffee. So anyone reading this who fancies a chat, lets make a date.
  8. I learnt to bake cakes – now this is something I am very happy to leave in the Falkland Islands. I am too fat to eat cake and to be honest I don’t really like cake that much. I have however had some amazing cakes whilst here. I am grateful to everyone who baked for me but when you visit me in the UK, do not expect me to bake you a cake! We have great shops that do it much better than I can 😉

I’ll miss the islands but I still have 4 weeks to further explore – its summer – a friend arrives tomorrow – the packing can wait for a while longer!

 

 

 

What am I?

P1070691Recently, a young woman mentioned that she thought I was a designer. I was really flattered. I don’t know why being thought of as a designer felt so much better than a management consultant or an HR professional? It made me think about how we label ourselves.

I have always felt that a being a professional is important and a good thing to do. It’s certainly provided a good life,  been interesting, challenging and sometimes a lot of fun. I realise that the thing I like most about my profession is the vast array of people I’ve met and worked with.  My life has definitely been enriched by working with amazing, talented, men and women of all ages and backgrounds.  I feel lucky that many of them are now good friends and I wouldn’t want to deny that part of my profession.

Creating solutions for all sorts of organisations has been challenging, exciting and I hope of value. Sometimes a  problem needs to be tackled or an opportunity can be built on. Its  engaging when things are complex and when there are several options to consider. Working with others, drawing on experience and professional expertise, we can often devise a solution which is the best fit. A good fit has always been important to me, it doesn’t have to be award winning, but it does have to be workable and agreeable to most of the people involved. So, I wouldn’t want to deny that part of my profession.

10 years ago a book I’d co authored with a friend and colleague was first published. It was  a major achievement and we wrote a few more books. I also wrote with other friends and colleagues and in total published nine books on different aspects of HR, Organisation Design & Learning and Development. I still struggle to call myself an Author and yet its been a major part of my working life for 10 years.  A friend contacted me after she had been doing some research on one of my subjects. She hadn’t known about the writing and was surprised to see that someone with my name seemed to be an authority on the subject. She wanted to know if it was just a coincidence. She, jokingly, called me an HR Guru! That label definitely doesn’t fit. When someone asks me what I do, I might mention being an Author, quickly apologising for the fact that I am not a fictional author!

So, why do some labels feel so much more exciting than others?

Am I an Author? Am I an HR expert? Am I a Designer? Am I a Housewife? Am I a blogger? or am I a woman enjoying an adventure in the South Atlantic who is taking time to learn new things?

 

Adult colouring

Yesterday someone told me that they would like to ‘colour me in’. I think they were referring to the mono top I was wearing, but, its an intriguing concept. If you were to colour someone in, how would you do it and what would you do? What colours would you use for them, soft autumnal watercolour or harsher peak summer acrylic?

Think about it for a moment, who would you like to colour in and what would you do?

Back to adult colouring, which by the way, isn’t on my f**k list.

A few years ago someone bought the Enchanted Garden adult colouring book for Christmas. The pencils were good quality and I loved adding stationary to my stash but the book sat there looking unloved and unused for about a year.

Then one day, in a conversation with a much loved friend I tore the book in half. My friend was surprised, but something in that conversation gave me the permission I felt I needed to tear it. Later  we retrieved the two halves as she felt the act of colouring didn’t depend on the picture being complete. She finally admitted that she loved to colour.

So here we have the nub, its a marmite activity.

Living in such a remote location I thought there might be little to do here and that I could get on with things I had procrastinated about before. Some people complain that living here is boring and there’s nothing to do. I wonder if they would benefit from a copy of the Secret Garden or the Enchanted Forest? For me, there’s always lots to do: watching  penguins waddle; searching the shoreline for signs of dolphins feeding in the kelp; learning some new skill such as weaving or just hanging out with amazing people.

Since starting to write this morning I’ve had coffee and a conversation with two truly engaging women. They help people of all ages colour and they do it in service of tranquility.  Research on colouring isn’t conclusive. Many people report that when they colour they feel better, less stressed or depressed and more creative. I feel sure that its like any active meditation, it helps you to focus and that’s good for mental health.

So, should I struggle with the things that are on my to do list, I could always return to it. In the meantime, I will reflect on the idea of one person colouring in another 😉

P1080519

Surf Bay

Six ducks waddle along the flat, wet part of the sand. They seem to giggle and chat to each other, no doubt bemoaning the winds which have returned to the islands. As they approach the water the waves crash around them. Out at sea a huddle of ducks surf the waves. Meanwhile, on the beach, a large, rocklike creature moves his flipper. He doesn’t open his eyes, he just rolls back into place on the sand, asleep, perhaps, or feigning it. The large gash across his face creates a permanent, deceptive smile. This is the most fearless and ferocious seal on the islands. A leopard seal can rip a child’s leg off.

Wandering down the beach is a small group, possibly cruise ship daytrippers. An older man strides forward and points his camera. He’s so close that it could reach him in a single lumbering bound. People don’t realise how fast they can move. Part of me wants to shout, to warn them, and the other steps back with almost curious detachment.

The wind is stronger now. The occasional gust lifts sand to rasp my face. I wrap a scarf around my face and turn, putting the wind at my back. At this end of the beach an Oyster catcher is dancing in hope of a mate. He is watched with disdain by a small group of seagulls, bickering occasionally amongst themselves. There are several different types of seagull wandering on the beach and occasionally fighting. One of them jumps onto a lump of seaweed which has hardened in the sun. He looks like he is addressing the flock. He certainly makes enough noise and flapping his large wings he seems to attract attention. Slowly a rival approaches him from the rear and then with a quick flick of his beak knocks the first bird off his perch. As I walk towards them, the birds spread their wings and lift from sand to sky. Seconds after I pass they will settle to carry on with their chattering, pecking and squaking.

I start to walk to the car and take one last look out to sea and notice a dark shape in the water. The dolphins are back! A warm glow spreads through me and I start to smile. I don’t know why, but I think of a Dolphin sighting as a positive omen. They live here all the time, but though I walk every day I often catch no sign of them. Today they are hunting for food in the kelp close to the shore. Perhaps yesterday’s storm has shifted something. I forget the cold as I watch them. A wave builds and, for just a moment, I see them as clearly as if I was looking into a fish tank. Several dolphins are swimming with the wave, straight towards me. It all happens too quickly for me to get the camera ready. No one will believe this without a photo. As soon as the surf crashes the image is gone.

First Guests

As I sit here waiting for friends to arrive from the UK I am grateful for the new friends I’ve found here.

I’ve tended to start working most mornings at about 6am which gives me time to get my UK calls done and work started whilst still in my pyjamas. By 7.30am I know I have to get ready, showered and dressed because C comes to clean. Only today, she’s ill. I was beside myself with fear and loathing. Fear that I would be judged for having an untidy house and loathing that I hadn’t made time to clean it yesterday after I’d had my major curry cook in. D to rescue, she organised and helped me to prioritise. She finds it strange that I have so much stuff with me as she has worked hard to be minimalist. All the more reason to thank her for her support today.

Sitting waiting for John to bring A and D home I wonder what will the next 10 days hold for us? I’m hoping they’ll meet some amazing people. The point of a land based trip is to get to know some of the culture and customs of the islands so we’ll have Smoko and my Chay’s will come round for dinner.

They will see lots and lots of wildlife, hear stories about the Falklands conflict with Argentina. Drink some Falklands Beerworks beer – I’m told the Rockhopper is particularly good. They’ll hopefully have some local Squid cooked in a variety of ways and they will go back knowing the Falkland Islands and the Islanders.

I think I hear the car doors and the struggle to carry bags up the stairs so I’m off to say hello.

Is writing ever easy?

P1070751Its been a while since I updated my blog. I’ve been writing, but nothing I could post. Recently I started working with a wonderful writing coach and so did a series of writing exercises. These aim to help me learn different aspects of creative writing. Currently it feels like a mountain higher than any I’ve ever tried to climb to get some of them started.

‘ Write as if you are an inanimate object’ my wonderful coach suggested. OOKaaay, thats easy – not, was my child like internal response.  It was the hardest of the exercises and I didn’t do it well but I did complete it.

Whilst procrastinating, I met with a friend for a coffee and told her about my challenge. ‘Ooh, what a lovely idea’ she looked upward for a moment ‘I’d like to be a gate post’, I smiled and nodded and waited for her to continue. ‘I hope that bloody sheepdog doesn’t pee against me again today’ ‘why won’t the farmer come and tidy me up. I need a good clean and paint; the lichen is making me itch.’ ‘Perhaps a sheep will come along and rub itself against me – here sheep – here sheep – can’t those sheep hear me calling?’ ‘Kids are kicking a ball at me again, I hate it when they do that’ ‘OOh, I wonder who’s visiting in a brand new Land Rover, farmer won’t be happy, he hates it when someone has a better car than his’ and so on. As she talked I could see the carmudgeonly gatepost that liked to gossip. My bistro table was, however, not getting any action. I finally forced myself to write something and send it off.

Its interesting to learn how many different skills there are in writing. I thought I could just sit down at a computer and start my story but I have a long way to go before that’s a possibility. For now, I am back to my exercises and today its about music which hopefully will be a little easier. Writing an exercise with a suggested 10 minute time slot and permission to have fun, write everything that comes into your mind however silly, and don’t edit should be easy. It is fun most of the time and it does generate some creative ideas. It also takes you back to situations you’ve experienced. A word can trigger a thought, an exercise about shoes, and I was taken back to a time when I coveted a pair of Cinderella perspex sandals. As you can imagine, that was never going to end well for me!

A bigger barrier to writing is that its just so very easy to get distracted here. The islands are really beautiful, many of the people are amazing and there’s lots for me to do. I find it hard to believe that, for this year, I only have 7 weeks more FI adventure. It strikes me that a good outcome for those 7 weeks would be to complete the exercises and to start the novel properly with my character having her own voice. I’ve set out my goal to help me focus, feel free to check in with me to see how I am doing and to keep me honest.

I will also be doing other things and will blog about those another day.