Busy, busy being creative..!

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Dear Santa…

Is this suitably Kitsch with the candy stripe frame? Hope so!

Did you write to Santa with your Christmas wishes when you were a child? I certainly did. As far as I can recall I’d be asking for things. Certain toys (Lego!) or maybe a pet! Sometimes my wishes were met other times not. I can’t remember how old I was when I wrote my last letter to Santa - how about you? Can you remember the last thing you asked Santa for?

I do think about these letters to Santa at this time of year as I see my nieces and friend’s children continuing this tradition. It also makes me wonder – If I was to write a letter to Santa this year what would I wish for?

Would I wish for things? Or feelings? Or Experiences?  What would I like to see in my Christmas stocking?

How about you? What do you wish for this Christmas?

Would it be things or experiences? Maybe half an hour to yourself? Re-igniting a lost dream you have kept buried that’s starting to glimmer again? Travelling more? Writing that book? Changing your job? Spending more time with family? A simpler life with less stuff? Finishing the projects you’ve started? Or even starting a project you’ve been thinking about? Or.....?

Take out a sheet of notepaper (the nicest you have) and write a letter to Santa (or the Universe or God or Goddess whatever works for you) this year with your wishes.

I’ll be doing just this myself and tucking myself away to reflect on the year that’s been and my wishes, hopes and dreams for 2016.

Before I go into my warm cosy hibernation cave I want to say a huge thank you for being a part of this adventure so far and I look forward to new adventures with you in 2016.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year.

Much Love



ps I'd love to hear what your wishes are so do drop me a note if you'd like to share. 

pps Thing is you don't need Santa to make your wishes come true. Taking Action is the key and you can do that...! x

Friday 27 November 2015

Walking on Fire

'Take a deep breath and just walk,' Scott calmly told us as we queued barefoot with around 90 others on a dark and wet November evening. We were about to walk across fire burning at a temperature of 1500°F. That's HOT.

On Friday 13 November I completed my first ever fire walk, ticking off no.30 on my 40/40 project list and raising funds for local charity – Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

I’d actually been dreading it ALL day. I can’t remember the last time I’d felt so nervous about something.  I started to wonder – why on earth did I put this on my list? Mr CA on the other hand was as cool as a cucumber and not flustered by the thought of it one bit. I'd roped him in to join me you see...

The weather all afternoon was atrocious – hail, wind and rain so I was thinking to myself – I’m sure it will be cancelled! I held a small hope that I’d get an email saying it was to be postponed.  Nothing like that happened though and soon enough we were sitting with a whole bunch of other ‘Fire Walkers' having our Fire Walk training by Scott Bell. Scott is a bit of a Firewalking expert being THE Guinness book record holder for walking the furthest distance on Fire. OK I thought. This chap knows what he’s doing.

The training, which lasted about an hour, covered all kinds of things including some interesting facts (I love a good fact!) about fire walking in other countries and how it has been a part of some cultures for thousands of years. In Bulgaria for example each year all the girls in one particular village (no idea where!) are put inside a church and the wooden door burnt. The hot ashes are then spread out on the ground and the girls have to walk out across the hot coals. Any girls who get blisters are apparently not virgins!! I wonder …..do the boys of the village have to go through this too…..!? Curious!

Just across the border in Greece, some northern Greek villagers walk barefoot across a bed of burning wood coals as part of a three-day celebration in honour of two saints. Everyone gets in on the act and on the 23 May each year a massive circle of fiery hot coals are spread out for everyone to walk on. All ages. Nothing about virgins or rites of passage at this event.  

The story goes that a local church caught fire and a passer-by could hear screams coming from inside. They got closer but couldn’t see anyone and yet they could still hear screams and crying. They burst into the church and ran through the flames and smoke to discover that it was the two effigies of Saint Constantine and Saint Helen who were crying out to be saved. They were scooped up and taken out of the church and no one was hurt. 

Scott also shared with us how is it possible to walk across hot coals and not get burnt. Without spoiling it – there is a science to it. It's not a case of Mind over matter and if you spend all the time thinking ‘I’m walking on wet grass – you actually miss out on the real experience. If you are interested in the details – I’ll let you go google to find out.  I’ll say this though – you can’t dawdle or stop as then you will get burnt!

After the training we all bundled outside to finally Face the Fire! This was IT! Oh Heck, no backing out now….

We were towards the back of the line so watched quite a few go before us. They all seemed remarkably calm. I can Totally Do this I thought!

Then it was my go.

As I took my first few steps remembering to wipe my feet on the grass first, I didn’t feel anything. It just felt soft. I was surprised (and a bit disappointed). I could feel the heat on my arms from the fire but my feet? Nothing. I needed to do it again. The second time I walked a little slower and as I got towards the end I could feel some very hot parts on my feet. I wiped my feet on the grass at the end to get rid of any bits of coals that may have been stuck to my feet. I felt something that time.

Mr CA was trying to take a video of me – but unfortunately he had it on the wrong setting so this meant I had to do it again. Third time.

This time I took a really deep breath and focused on each step. The Prodigy – Firestarter – Twisted Firestarter blared out of the speakers and there was a buzz as the audience watched. I stepped onto the hot coals which were both black and red in equal measure.  It was soft and like warm sand. The sparks were flying as the wind blew them all around me. It looked pretty amazing.  This time as I walked I could feel some hot spots on my feet. Once at the other side wiping my feet I suddenly felt amazed and rather elated.

Not only had I walked on fire after feeling rather freaked out about it all day I’d done it THREE times! WHOOO HOOO!

How often does THAT happen in other areas of life? You know, once you actually get up and DO IT it's never as bad as it seems??

With black sooty feet we made our way back into the Rugby Club to collect our certificates, clean our feet and put on our shoes. The rain started again as we stepped inside – having stopped long enough for nearly 100 people to have walked across fire – and lived to tell the tale.

Once inside I could feel those hot spots still on my feet and my right foot in particular. On closer inspection I could see and feel that I had two very small blisters on my right foot near my heel.

Oh I thought – some physical evidence! I felt thankful I wasn’t Bulgarian.

My coat, hat and scarf still smell smokey. My feet are fine and having walked on fire - THREE TIMES (in case you missed that bit earlier) I'm thinking hmmm what else can I do?

A MASSIVE Thank YOU to everyone who has sponsored us so far! If you haven't and you think that was a pretty cool challenge and would like to support the amazing work of Penny Brohn please do!  I set up a dedicated sponsor page. Thank you x

Tell me, is there something you want to do but fear is holding you back?

Let’s talk!

Love & Adventurers

L-R Team Penny Brohn! With the other brave Firewalkers, Richard (Mr CA) and I with our certificates, Celebrating with a cuppa tea and a muffin! (of course..)

The event was run by UK Firewalk and hosted by Clevedon Rugby Club as part of a Clevedon Community Charity event. Some of the photos are a mix of my own, UK Firewalk and some were taken by the fabulous Penny Brohn Fundraising Team.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Five go to Lundy Island

Lundy Island - here we come!

Running a retreat has been a dream of mine for some time and having successfully run a number of online courses I felt ready to take the leap to create something bigger. Something much bigger!

It was to be A Creative Adventure with all the excitement of a Famous Five book, but for adults. 

Set on a secret (ish) Island where we could explore, create, laugh and have fun (maybe meet a mad professor and solve a mystery?)

Somewhere that would challenge us and where we could drink lashings of (alcoholic) Ginger Beer…

Somewhere we’d hopefully spot some Puffins.

Lundy Island. The mystical isle off the coast of Devon that’s only three miles long and half a mile wide. A tiny place that’s a world of its own. This was where I wanted to hold my first retreat. Somewhere that would hold a real sense of adventure and yet wasn’t actually that far away. Oh and had a feel of The Famous Five about it…!

In fact the ‘Mystery’ would be ourselves. I saw this as an opportunity to offer some ladies a creative break away from day to day life and step away from distractions to focus on themselves and what they wanted in their lives. Combining my Creativity, Adventure & Nature (CAN) ethos I created something that I hoped would also speak to others who were looking for a retreat with a bit of a difference.

Dates were booked for May, Four lovely ladies signed up and off we went….!

We were due to arrive by boat – but the weather meant that we had to arrive by Helicopter. The Adventure was off to an exciting and unexpected start.

The views were absolutely stunning. I was lucky enough to go up front with the pilot. I felt very lucky.

Our luggage would follow so we set about making our way to The Old Lighthouse where we were staying. Straight up the lighthouse we went to survey the island from the highest point.

Old Light, completed in 1820 and obsolete by 1897, was designed by Daniel Asher Alexander. Built of Cyclopean blocks of granite, it stands on the highest point of the island. The keepers' quarters are still divided into the two original flats, Lower and Upper. Unusually for Lundy, they look out over the northern part of the island. It was soon discovered, however, that this lighthouse was in fact too high and often obscured by fog so wasn’t very effective. Another light house was built at another point lower down.  We were staying in the Old Light Upper.

Being right at the very top of the island like this meant we could see the full island from here. It felt very magical indeed. Even the sound of the wind sang to us as we were buffeted about – it can be rather windy here! We had warm clear days and lots of sunshine.

The two days on the island actually felt so much longer. There was no TV in the lighthouse or Wi-Fi. There was a connection sometimes but it was very patchy and really we wanted to be engaged in our surroundings. Not be online.

Ours days were a mix of creative explorations individually and as a group, eating together, one to one coaching and sometime was spent down the pub, The Marisco Tavern. The local and only pub on the island which has won Pub of the year since 1986…!

We had space to explore, to create and to challenge ourselves.

For such a small island it held so much wonder. We were also there the same time as the Anthony Gormley sculpture LAND celebrating 50 years of The Landmark Trust who have looked after Lundy since 1969.

Sadly I didn’t get to see any puffins on this trip – other than the ones on the stamps and the pencil I bought as a momento, but that really didn’t dampen the wonderful time I had running the retreat and seeing the transformation of each of the ladies over the few days that we were together. I felt really honoured. It was fun, it was exciting, it was calming, it was enlightening, it was magical.

Here’s what the 'Puffineers*'  had to say about the trip:

"A delightful combination of holiday, inspiration, freedom and creative fun with a lasting impact of new directions and happy memories. I would do it again tomorrow!"
Alison Stephenson, Costumier


"Morwhenna inspires with brilliant adventurers and gives opportunities to really question yourself in a fun, safe group of supportive fellow artists & puffineers! Had the best fun."
Rhian Wyn Harrison, Illustrator


"I came needing space to rediscover me – needing to re-connect with my first love, photography. Needing to get some clarity on my work as an artist and on balancing aspects of my life and integrating them. 
And thanks to The Creative Adventurer and the magic of Lundy, I have!"
Lisa Tregenza, Textile Artist


"Windy, Wild, Friendly, Sheep. Had some lovely Creative Adventurers in our brief time here. Hoping to spy some puffins today and adventure some more!" 
Justina Hart, Novelist & Poet

- a person who goes looking for puffins and creative adventures on Lundy Island.


I’ll be running one again next year so if you’d like to be the first to know when I’ll be taking the next Creative Adventure to Lundy Island – please make sure you are signed up to my playletter – or reply to this post so I can put you on first refusal. There will only be four places available. I can’t guarantee we’ll arrive by helicopter next time although I can guarantee a Magical Creative Adventure!

This is really only a snapshot of the trip – but one that I hope makes you think – “I want to go next time!” ps You don't have to be an artist to enjoy this Creative Adventure!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

I have failed (or have I?)

13 days left of being 40 and I’ve failed in completing everything on my 40/40 project list.

In fact, I knew I’d fail way back in August when I didn’t manage to go to Edinburgh for the fringe festival or actually further back – in July as I didn’t go to The Secret Garden Party. I’ve known for months I’d never complete my list this year before I stepped in to being 41.

And how did I feel about that?

At first disappointed and annoyed. I should have tried harder, I should have done this or that differently so I’d have had the money I needed to go to some things – especially Burning Man etc etc…

Should Should Should…

That is such a dangerous word – and I think needs to be banned!

‘Should’ focuses on the negative and undermines in an instant what has been achieved.
By switching perspective, dumping these Shoulds and instead looking at each thing on my 40/40 project that I HAVE done, I feel proud as there’s a whole bounty of amazingness!!

Studies show that it is a natural human condition to firstly focus on the things we haven’t done – rather than looking at what we have and celebrating that. Start to notice when you do it and when others around you do it. Notice how it makes you feel. 

I’d say it makes for a tiring and unfulfilled life. I’ve learnt this first-hand having spent many years with that mind set. It’s hard work and there is never that feeling of contentment. Especially if others around you also focus on what’s not been done.

I’m not suggesting that we give up and not aim to achieve what we set out to – rather to look back at what we’ve achieved so far and to celebrate that.

We always have a choice in how we respond to situations.

So ask me again – how do I feel about not completing my 40/40 project and I’ll tell you that I feel GREAT!

I’ve completed 11 so far and each experience has been amazing, bringing much joy and connecting with so many people. This really is what this project is about. Making connections, having new experiences and having fun.

I know that if it weren’t for this project I doubt I’d have completed the things I have so far. I’ve pushed myself. That to me feels like an achievement. Yes I do think – heck how on earth can I support and coach others if I can’t even complete my own goals. My answer? Better. I understand what it’s like and it’s about changing perspectives. Celebrating each step. 

So what have I achieved so far?

Well I completed a 190 mile adventure from The Brecons to Morwenstow following roughly
in the footsteps of the 5th Century saint Morwenna. I raised £909.25 as a result for The Stroke Association.

That’s an achievement, and to be honest was the biggest one on my list that I wanted to complete.

I’ve also: 
  • met Danny Wallace
  • had Blue hair
  • been skinny dipping
  • stayed on Burgh Island
  • had a cocktail created for me
  • been up in a hot air balloon
  • organised an 1930s party – which I created a film for, made a moon and saw friends I’d not seen in a long time. Plus we had some brilliant dancers!
  • created and organised my first Creative Adventure Retreat on Lundy Island. That was also a big achievement for me and was brilliant fun with four awesome ladies!
  • had my first experience of being a TV extra (still working on being on Dr. Who!)
  • currently taking part in the Sketch Book Project – I have my sketchbook ready to fill!
  • went to Edinburgh to celebrate Beltane with friends – wonderful!
  • been in the audience of Deal or No Deal (yet to be on a game show)

Actually that is quite a lot to have achieved in a year. Especially when you consider what goes into actually completing these things. The ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak. Alongside all this I’ve been developing my business and I’ve also completed my Reiki Master training.

So Yes I feel good about what I have achieved so far…

Seeing that this is a project of my own creation and knowing that I’ve failed in completing all these things by my 41st Birthday – I’m extending it. So this 40/40 project is going to be about my decade of being in my 40s. A slight tweak.

As I was working through the experiences I also realised that I wanted to completely enjoy them and it wasn’t just about ‘crossing them off the list’ If that had been all it was about then I expect I could have rushed to get them done. That though starts to add pressure and for me takes away the enjoyment of the actual project in the first place.

I’ve also discovered that I really love organising things. The party, Beltane, Lundy, The Brecons 2 Morwenstow trip….I’d kinda of started to realise this after planning the Moroccan Adventure a few years ago, but I was surprised just how much I enjoyed all the aspects of each thing I organised as part of this project. So no more will I have the belief that ‘I can’t organise things’. This is now replaced by – ‘I can organise things and I enjoy it!’ (A revelation)

I still have time to complete some other things on my list so we’ll see what happens between now and my birthday. In fact I'll be completing one this week! A Fire Walk in aid of Penny Brohn!

I also want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of each of the 40/40 project experiences so far. YOU are what have made it GREAT!

I really like this quote which I ‘refound’ recently and though it very apt.

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. 
Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. 
If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” H. Stanley Judd

How about you? Do you tend to focus on what you’ve achieved or what you’ve failed at? Does the thought of failing at something stop you from doing it?

Love to hear from you!



A snapshot of a few completed 40/40 project items!
L-R - Hot air balloon, 1930s style 40th Birthday Party, Lundy Island Adventure, Cocktail creation on Burgh Island, Walking the South West Coast Path as part of Brecons 2 Morwenstow, Beltane in Edinburgh, The Mermaid pool where I Skinny Dipped at midnight, Blue hair in progress, Having a pint with Danny Wallace.

Thursday 15 October 2015

The 40/40 Project. No.10 Appear on Dr. Who. (Part 3). My first experience of being an extra

Quiet on set...and ACTION!

This week I had the joyful and fascinating experience of being an extra – or Supporting Artist (SA), for the first time. You might remember I joined a casting agency earlier this year with the aim of being on Dr. Who, one of my 40/40 challenges.

Well, It wasn’t Dr. Who and I can’t tell you about what I was on or what I did, but I can share some of the experience with you.

I had no idea what it would be like, thoughts whizzed about in my head - how many people will be there, will I embarrass myself by doing something silly, will people be friendly etc.... I also thought about Not doing it. About changing my mind. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my inner critic. Pipe down I said! I’m so glad I showed up.

I read the really helpful information in the booklet we are given when we sign up and had a chat online with another SA who was super helpful by giving me some tips on what to expect, other than that it was a step into the unknown! I went to bed early, was up at 04.30, and off I went on a new adventure.

It was still dark when I sent out and I was surprised how busy the roads were. I’d thought it would have been just me and Henry (my car), but no. I was not alone. I arrived early and was directed to a parking place. All good so far.

As soon as I’d gotten out of my car, I met a chap who was also new to this. As more SAs arrived and we all started chatting those last few nerves vanished. Phew, of course, I was in this with others. All kind of others as I was to discover throughout the day. Such a mix of people; ages, backgrounds, cultures and what they do as their day jobs. It was fascinating. From meeting a games designer, a retired police motorbike officer, a lady who used to play rugby and who now writes scripts and short stories part-time, a Mum, son and daughter team all there together, to a drummer who’s toured with a rather famous Welsh band (not Stereophonics)...a real mix.

I even came away with a recipe for a great way to cook brussels sprouts ‘for people who hate brussels sprouts’ (lightly pre-cook sprouts then cover in a cheese sauce - as you would cauliflower cheese - add a topping of breadcrumbs mixed with cheese and pop that in the oven till golden). I also gained some crochet tips from a lovely SA who’d taught herself via videos on youtube and was in the process of making a scarf, and met a few SAs who have been on Dr. Who.  

Whooo Hooo! I'm getting closer...

Being behind the scenes and watching the crew in action was very interesting. I did have to stop myself asking them lots of questions though! The team that looked after us were friendly and I felt well looked after. It was a very positive experience, one that I’m looking forward to repeating – hopefully on Dr. Who. (fingers crossed).

Doing this is also a mini victory for me. Having had a Brain Hemorrhage at 12 (a form of Stroke) I walk with a limp and I do feel self-conscious about it. Being an SA is actually something I’ve thought about doing since I was at Uni, but never had the nerve to do it due to those feelings and having a whole host of assumptions of what it would be like! As I’ve discovered, those assumptions are misplaced. I’m so glad I said Yes!

How about you? Is there something you’d like to do but you’re feeling anxious about it? I’m sure you’ll find it’s never actually as scary as you think its going to be. Our imaginations can be a bonus – OR they can keep us in a place of fear. We can choose. Keeping an open mind of curiosity and a sense of wonder when you try something new can make all the difference. That first time is always the hardest. 

What new experience is calling you? I'd love to hear from you! 

Monday 5 October 2015

The 40/40 Project No.30 - Firewalk

OK so I haven't done this yet - but I've registered and I've also managed to rope in..erm 'encourage' Mr CA to join me on this challenge. Although truth be told it wasn't difficult.

Mr CA was away with work last week when he received a text from me saying - 

'So do you fancy doing a Firewalk with me in aid of Penny Brohn Cancer Care.'

Yes!  Came the reply. 


Within 24 hrs of me thinking - 'OK I have 53 days left to do as many of my 40/40 Project challenges as possible before I turn 41 - what can I do?'

I'd found a local Firewalk for charity, which for me is an important element to this particular challenge, registered and secured two places. Yikes. Now I feel nervous. There is a whole science behind it apparently...

The charity we are going to do the fire walk for is Penny Brohn, a local charity who pioneered a programme called The Bristol Approach which is a holistic way of living well with Cancer. 

From their website:

"We have been successfully helping people with cancer for over 30 years, with our pioneering Whole Person Approach.  We can show you how to live well with cancer and take back control of your health and wellbeing –  before, during and after treatment.

Our range of services, including residential and day courses, are free of charge to adults with a cancer diagnosis and their supporters. However, as a charity we rely on donations to fund our work."

I've set up a sponsorship page if you'd like to support us - We've called ourselves - Team Disco Inferno...! 

or perhaps you'd like to take part and do the Firewalk too?

Wednesday 30 September 2015

The 40/40 Project. No. 22 Have a pint with Danny Wallace

On Saturday 26 September I completed no. 22 on my 40/40 project list WHOOOO HOOO

It all happened rather quickly and went something like this:

Monday 21 September – I get a message from my friend Richard Pettitt saying 

‘By the way, I have just seen a tweet from Danny Wallace. He's going to be in Bath on Saturday (probably a book event). Didn't you want to meet him? X

OMG is he!!!  YES I DO!!

awesome - thanks will check it out now!

(sometime later)

it’s for a Bath Kids literature festival

I have tickets. Now how to not look like a stalker??

(later still)

OK he has replied to my tweet as I told him meeting him is on my 40/40 list and he's said looking forward to meeting me. Awesome!

Thanks Richard!

Richard Pettitt
All in a day's work!

Good job!
It's a 45 min talk about his new book - wonder if he'll be doing something nearer you? Unless you fancied going too? Bit of a long way to Bath though

Richard Pettitt
I'll come to Bath if you agree to go to Cheddar Gorge with me and eat cheese for my silly place name road trip book...

OK deal!

Richard Pettitt


In true Danny Wallace Style we’d just organised our own mini adventure….

Why Danny Wallace?

It was the book Yes Man that set me off on this path. I can’t quite recall who it was that introduced me to Danny Wallace, but I read Yes Man and I totally loved it! The idea of it, the adventures he went on as a result of saying Yes. So simple - yet - so life changing. For Danny - saying Yes - and for me reading about it.

I remember being away for work and sitting and reading it in a hotel lounge one evening. I was laughing out loud so often that a chap came over to ask me – what are you reading??

It had a real impact on me and how I saw things from then on.

That's why he ended up on my 40/40 list. He's someone who has inspired me. Basically I wanted to say Hi and thank him for his crazy adventures and for writing about them. 

Now I was going to be meeting him!

OK I thought – well it’s a children’s literature event so VERY doubtful that I’ll actually get to have a real pint with him. I know – I’ll draw one.

So that’s what I did.

The day came around

Richard met me at the Mission theatre in Bath with a few minutes to spare before the event started, he'd had a long drive and Bath was chocka block!

We went in

Yes, as I suspected, we were the only adults there without children.

Its OK I thought, Danny knows we are coming – we won’t appear too crazy….

We found some seats and a few minutes later Danny bounded on stage to talk about his new children’s book – Hamish and the World Stoppers. This is his first book written for children and he was inspired to write it by his son. He wanted to know what would make him and his friends laugh...

Danny was funny, engaging with both the kids and the adults in the audience and really brought his book to life. I’m really pleased we went and that the lack of having a child to take didn't stop us from going!!

Then Jamie Littler, joined Danny on stage. Jamie is the illustrator of the book and with the help of his visualiser we (the audience) were asked to help create a new character.

Bob, the banana riding cyclops who works in a bank and wears a top hat was created before our eyes. It was fun and very amusing as I'm sure you can imagine. 

It was a joy to see the kids (of all ages) getting so involved and eager to stick up their hands once they had an idea. I noticed the younger kids had less fear than the slightly older ones though whose hands were just about up! You know the kind of thing - I'm putting my hand up but just enough...

We were treated to a chapter from the book and then some other interactions. I really had to stop myself from shouting out – reminding myself – this is for the kids….

I loved some of the ideas that the kids came up with when asked

‘So if the world stopped around you and you were the only person moving – what would you do…?

One girl immediately put her hand up and said ‘I’d draw moustaches on everyone.’ Brilliant!

She was invited up on stage to do just that. Drawing a moustache on Jamie the Illustrators face.

There was lots of laughter.

Interesting to hear quite a few other suggestions from the children in the audience involved stealing! Stealing all the money from the bank and then going and buying all the hamburgers and then eating them all…..Danny very diplomatically changed the word ‘stealing’ to ‘borrowing.’

How about you – what would you do if the world stopped and only you could move about?

Once the talk had finished we were invited to queue up to get books signed. We held back so the kids could go first then joined the line. We worked out that we are actually all around the same age. I’m 40, Danny is 38 and Richard 36.

I started to get nervous.

Then we were there!

"Hi Danny" I said – "I’m Morwhenna"

At which point he said "Morwhenna!" got up and promptly gave me a hug! How lovely! 

Totally wasn’t expecting that. I think it helped that I’d tweeted him beforehand. Ah the joy of Twitter!

He kindly posed for some photos with The Pint. I did manage to ask him some questions.

What advice would you give someone setting out? I asked as we were posing for a photo

Do what excites you” he said with a big smile.

If it doesn’t excite you then there’s not much point. And share your anecdotes with your friends – see what makes them interested/engaged, what makes them laugh.”

I was really grateful to him for being such a good sport especially when he had to ask me at the end "Erm are you actually going to give me that pint?"

I’d been holding on to it as I’d become rather star struck and had an attack of brain freeze. *cue embarrassed look*

It was all rather comical. I couldn't help but laugh.

I’ll put it in my office” Danny said

Oh OK!  And there I was thinking would he actually want this? Turns out he did.

So Danny has the pint.

And I felt very happy and rather Skippy.


It’s actually 10 years this year since Yes Man was published.

A lot has happened in those 10 years and I have to say discovering Danny’s hilarious antics in his books – Yes Man, Join Me and Friends Like these, inspired me to go on my own creative adventures.  

It also meant that I got to meet up with the super talented artist and illustrator Richard Pettitt – who I’d met on a 30 Day challenge three years ago. Also a big Danny Fan. In fact Richard's Road Trip Adventures are inspired by him.

L-R Danny and Jamie in action, Richard & Danny (Danny looking like he's Richard's big brother) and Jamie doodling in a copy of Hamish & The World Stoppers. We got hurried along at this point so didn't get a picture with Jamie which was a shame!

It was thanks to Richard sending me that message on Monday we were even there. Turns out he doesn’t go on twitter very often, but that morning he did, just around the time Danny posted the tweet about being in Bath….

It was a brilliant, fun afternoon!

Then Richard and I headed off for Cheddar…for part 2 of the adventure. My turn to be part of one of his projects. 

Danny gives a really good speech on the seven things he’s learnt when receiving an honorary doctorate by the University of Dundee. Well worth watching.

Ps His son also gave me a chomp bar. Happy Days

Tell me - Who would you like to have a pint with? How have they inspired you?

Tuesday 25 August 2015

A Visit to Folly Farm & A Lesson on Expectations

What happens when you go somewhere and have great expectations about what it’s going to be like? What happens if those expectations aren’t met?

This happened to me last week.

One of the places on my wish list during Doorstep Adventures August was Folly Farm; one of the 37 nature reserves owned and looked after by Avon Wildlife trust. I’d driven past the sign many times and had been reading about it in their member’s magazine.  I loved the fact that it was bought with the help of a mystery donor who appeared ‘out of the blue’ at ‘just the right moment’ to enable the trust to buy it in 1986. It was a magical place I’d decided.

I’d gone primarily to visit the Well-being garden. I really liked the concept behind it as a place of learning and sharing the benefits of gardening and growing to improve mind, body and spirit. Way before I visited I had started to create an image in my mind of what this well-being garden looked like.

In my mind’s eye I’d envisaged the layout of the garden. The sweep of colours, the beauty, the delicious and heady smells, the textures, the artworks, the sense of peace I was anticipating….. ohhh it was going to be so amazing!

It was nothing like I’d imagined.

I was disappointed.

I’d built up a picture, an expectation.

From my 'Expectation Eye View' when I actually saw it, it appeared in a bit of a mess and the space didn’t seem to be utilised as I thought it should have been and what I’d expected. I was critical. It was a shame there wasn’t someone there to talk about the great work they do there. Again, I think I’d expected there to be someone there working in the garden. It didn’t seem to match the rest of the place..in my opinion in that moment. Perhaps their vision for the well being garden is what I’d envisaged and they just aren’t there yet?

Perhaps it’s not anything about the overall look of the garden but about what it feels like when you immerse yourself in it and work in it rather than just looking at it?

At this point I knew I had a choice. A) Continue to feel disgruntled it hadn’t lived up to my expectation and go home feeling annoyed or B) change my mind and Re Frame the situation by ‘dropping’ the expectation and continue exploring.

I chose option B

If I’d held on to my initial disappointment I would have left straight away. Had I done that I wouldn’t have discovered the hidden joys in the garden such as the pigs, the bounty of chillies, the bright marigolds, exploring then further to the beautifully designed light filled centre and meeting a lovely lady who’d married there four years previously. I found the fire pit area with the views looking out across to Chew Valley Lake. Had I not chosen option B I’d have missed these gems. The more I explored the better it got.

Expectations can work for or against you. Setting clear expectations can ease the mind and reduce worry/stress, that’s a big fat positive. On the flip side though as I’ve been talking about here, they can actually get in the way and taint your experience. 

Expectations can make you go blind. Blind to the magic that’s right there under your nose for you to see if your mind weren’t so busy huffing and puffing about how things are NOT what you’d expected!!

Are you letting expectations cloud your vision and your experiences?

Take a notebook and pencil and have a think about times when this has happened and how this has impacted on you emotionally and in turn affected your thoughts and behaviours. Jot down those that come to mind and consider how different the experience could have been if you’d let go of expectations. Consider that for a moment and notice what that feels like.

How NOT to be blinded by expectations!

Start now. This can apply to any situation as expectations are always there, just waiting to jump in! Be prepared. If you KNOW you have a tendency to think like this take a few moments to centre yourself and get used to noticing when those expectations start showing up. And do just that - notice them then let them go (takes practice!) Ask yourself – is that expectation thought helpful?  If not then thank it for showing up and let it go, knowing you’ll have a richer experience as a result.


I usually have to laugh at myself when I notice I’m doing this. It happens all the time and sometimes it can take me a while to notice – which is exactly what happened with Folly Farm. I was so wrapped up in the excitement of going on the adventure that the expectations had been piling up without me really noticing – until I got there that was and fell right over it! Tripped me up good and proper.

Reframe the situation

If you’re already in a situation that has presented you with disappointment – try reframing. First think – Ah! I know what’s happening – I was expecting X but I got Y. Then look for the reframe in this so what’s the benefit of getting Y? Shift your focus from the negative to the positive. You can do this by just one thought and that can make a huge difference.

Funny thing – when I went to Folly Farm I thought I’d be sharing with you about, well Folly Farm. Writing about managing expectations – well I’d not expected that!! Ha!

PS - Its usually free to visit a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. You don't have to be a member. Is there one near you?

And here's a film I put together of the visit, as you can see and hear, the more I explore the more I find and the better it gets. ;-)

The end.