Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mindfulness, Oxford and a rather sheepish 'Ta-dah'

Good morning everyone, I hope you are having a lovely day. I just thought I'd take a moment to share this week's 'new thing' with you. Just before Christmas I read a library book by Ruby Wax who talked candidly about her battle with depression and how taking a course on Mindfulness changed her life. Coincidentally, a friend then recommended a book which had helped her to remain calm throughout a period of ill health. She is now, thankfully, well but still finds the techniques helpful with everyday stress. The book was written by the the people who ran the cognitive therapy course which Ms. Wax attended and, curious, I managed to find a copy on Amazon.

It is an 8 week course and contains a set of simple practices which can be incorporated into daily life to promote 'joie de vivre' and combat anxiety. This mindfulness based cognitive therapy is, apparently, as effective as drugs for preventing depression and also works for those who aren't actively depressed but who wish to remain calm and happy in everyday life. Well, I for one could do with being a bit happier and, as I have a strong family history of depression, I thought I'd give it a whirl. The book comes with a CD of guided meditations which I have downloaded to my ipod (following L's written instructions!) and I am currently on week 3. If I am seen sitting in the car with my eyes closed, ipod plugged in, breathing deeply, this is what I'm up to! I'll let you know how it goes. 

I went to visit daughter number 1 at Oxford this weekend. I was actually bringing her back home so she and daughter number 2 could catch the train to London together to watch the final episode of John Finnemore's 'Cabin Pressure' being recorded. For those who haven't heard of it, it's a Radio 4 comedy programme, about a small airline, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam and the hugely talented John Finnemore.  There was fierce competition for tickets and enormous excitement in our house when we were lucky enough to win some. Anyway, I thought I would arrive early in Oxford and L and I could spend some time together before going home. It was beautifully sunny, so much so that I couldn't really see the screen on my camera and the photos below were taken rather blindly on my walk to her accommodation. This one shows a bit of yarn bombing on an old lamp post - it had obviously been there some time as it was rather weathered.

We had a quick stop at G&D's ice cream place. Mine was called 'Smelly Bee' - a lavender and honey flavour - and L's was 'Oxford Blue', containing not the cheese but  blueberries - yummy!

We then trawled the charity and ethnic food shops on Cowley Road. I bought this for 20p. I love Joanne Harris' books and Chocolat is one of my favourite films. I also bought 2 green papayas to make a Thai salad when my friend comes to lunch tomorrow and a jar of vine leaves, so quite an interesting haul. L had already bought me a beautiful bottle of rose water and I used it later to make almond macaroons from a Moroccan cookbook, bought by the girls one Christmas after we had been to Marrakech.  They look a bit like Nigella's 'Snickerdoodles' but with a lovely, subtle rose flavour.

Finally, my rather sheepish Ta-dah! My Elmer blanket is now too large to carry with me for sneaky hooky moments in the car, so I thought I would use some yarn left over from my crochet cushion to make a pair of wrist warmers a la Bunny Mummy.  Unfortunately, I under-estimated the size of my hand and over-estimated the stretchiness of the yarn, so it was far too small. Undeterred, I transformed it into a phone sock! Not the most brilliant example of crochet work on the internet I know, but I'm easily pleased and secretly rather proud!

Hopefully, there will be a slightly more impressive Ta-dah later this week. I have 2 more rounds of my Elmer blanket border to do before it's finished! Have a good week.

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