Finding Celebration in the Every Day
As we look forward to the Jubilee celebrations this weekend, I began to think just how wonderful the Queen is for her age and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have her round for a cup of tea and a chat!
I believe listening to our elders is an opportunity to learn; all the wisdom, the skills and the stories that get passed on, that’s learning like it used to be, where knowledge was passed from generation to generation.
I really do enjoy the company of elders and one in particular. Let me introduce you to my 80 year old, widowed neighbour, Bryan.
He was married for 52 years and I only really started talking to Bryan when I became single a few years after his wife died.
We used to say “hello” and the usual pleasantries, then one day we chatted a bit longer over the wall between us. To be honest I was probably just putting off going into the house to face the squealing children, but it sparked a little connection between us.
Anyway, the little “hellos” continued and when December arrived I had some spare advent calendars which I gave to Bryan to give to the children.
Every day after school they would want to go and see Bryan, have a chat and most importantly have a chocolate. The children would muck about, interested in all or Bryan’s trinkets, and Bryan and I would have a bit of a natter about nothing and everything.
As the winter progressed we’d come back after school, cold from the park and I’d say to the children “go and see Bryan and get warm” (he always has his heating on full blast). I’d then fall into my house, laden with bags and buggy, light the fire, get the pasta on and I’d come back with a cup of tea and the timer. When the timer for supper went we said our goodbyes and went home.
By the time we had trotted back, the children had thawed out, Bryan had had has some cheerful company, our supper would be ready and our fire would be roaring.
Needless to say, we as a family now spend a lot of time with Bryan.
When I feel challenged by modern day life he brings me down a peg or two. I start complaining about the size of my house with the three children, he politely reminds me how he and his wife raised their four children (one of whom died in a car crash at 19) in a house the same size as mine with only a back yard in which they loved to play.
He talks of his family trips to the coast; taking his work van and putting their sofa in the back for his children to sit on! How they would meet other families and have marvellous feasts on the beach; Bryn always making the best fried onions of course! He recounts these tales time and time again. I don’t mind listening, as I know it brings him joy to reminisce about the past.
He doesn’t talk about the flash car he drove or the amount of money he earned. He talks of all the happy times; the mischievous experiences he had in his youth with friends, the the dinners he loved to cook for his family, the three jobs he worked to pay his way, the holidays he took with his wife later in life to countries like Greece and Turkey which were so exotic to him. I wonder as you enter the winter of your life, when your future looks short and unknown, do you begin to simply look back to the life that you have lived? One hopes that you are one of the lucky ones to look back and smile.
I take such comfort from Bryans company.
I think it is the fact that he is no longer proving, or performing, or perfecting his life like most of us our today. He has suffered great sadness in his life but he lives to tell the tale and even though his life appears very small now, he struggles to walk far and doesn’t leave the house often, he has contentment and peace in his life.
How I wish I could feel that.
I wonder does that contentment only come with age or can we learn it young? He has no idea how much he gives me by simply being there, day in day out, without judgement and always a smile. My grandparents are long gone, so to have Bryan is such a joy. The stability I feel of knowing that he’s looking out for me and my children is priceless. He gives the gift of time. I ask is there a greater gift?
Often it takes a celebration like this weekend to make time in our busy lives to get together with family and friends. High days can encourage us to take stock and think about what’s important, but should it really take the queen being on the thrown for 70 years to make us prioritise experiences with family, friends, or even neighbours?
I say let’s not wait till we are 80 to realise that these simple every day interactions and experiences are what make up our lives, it’s not the standing at the alter or holding your baby for the first time, they are just big events that get thrown in along the way, it’s the everyday “hello” to neighbours that makes the world go round. So let’s see if we can find a little jubilee celebration in every day and start saying “hello”.
Top 5 Spots for Wild Swimming in Wales
It wasn’t until I started cold water swimming in April 2014 that I began to realise how lucky I was to live in a part of the world that had so many amazing wild swimming locations.
Lakes, coast, and waterfalls, you name it – north Wales has it.
So, whether you love the freedom of the salty open seas or the clear waters of lakes with majestic mountain backdrops, you’ll find one you love amongst my favourite wild swimming locations.
Laura’s top five wild swimming spots in Wales
5. Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia
In the oldest National Nature Reserve in Wales, you will find a bowl-shaped hollow filled with crystal clear waters.
The walk up and around is a three mile loop, but once you have climbed the stepped path up, you will not be disappointed.
The site is world famous for its rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life, so please do take care and leave nothing but your footprints and take nothing but photographs.
Top tip: All year round the water is freezing.
4. Porth Ceriad, Llyn Peninsula
As you come over the headland you see the expanse of beach before you, often waves rolling in when the wind is onshore.
Steep steps lead you down to the beach, enjoy a walk along then take a dip.
There are no facilities here.
Top tip: First thing in the morning it is often deserted.
3. Newborough Beach, Anglesey
Beautiful stretch of beach across the west coast of Anglesey, looking across to Snowdonia, and backed by dunes and woodland. Plenty of parking,
If you go when the tide is out, you can walk along the beach to Llanddwyn Island, walk as far as the lighthouse and discover the coves and hidden beaches.
Our guests love it here and are blown away by the panoramic views
Top tip: Walk out to the lighthouse to discover the coves and hidden beaches.
2. Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia
Nestled beneath Mount Snowdon, it is one of the most photographed lakes in Snowdonia.
There are many ways to enter the cool waters of Padarn, but take care as the slate rocks can be quite sharp.
The lagoons offer a sheltered stretch of water for beginners, and on the far side from the lagoons you can walk to large rocks that jut out into the lake, and jump in off them. The water is so clear you see all the rocks and slate beneath.
The length of the lake is 3.2km, a great challenge might be to swim the length or take the mini train to one end and swim back.
Top tip: Avoid bank holidays, it gets very busy.
1. Plas Cadnant, Anglesey
Walk down through the hidden gardens of Plas Cadnant, listen for the water and follow the sound.
Amongst the ancient trees you will see a beautiful waterfall flowing into a plunge pool. It’s big enough to do laps should you wish or lie back and float with the afternoon sun beaming down through the trees on your face.
Top tip: Step across the red jasper rocks and plunge in!