It’s been a funny old week. In terms of bloggin, it’s been one of those weeks where words have been rather elusive. My body is tired and my mind is full, and I have decided not to push it, doing the things I’ve needed to get done but little else. Sometimes you just have to give in and let life take over. Blogging is my hobby, not my job, and so it does take a back seat every now and again, and I have allowed myself to be okay with that.
Although today is Monday (early Monday morning, actually), meaning I’ve missed my self-imposed deadline for my regular weekly blog post, I have decided to post a weekly blog – we’re now on episode nine – anyway. For some reason writing early on a Monday morning suits me, whereas yesterday when I sat at the computer to pen this my mind emptied and the screen remained blank until I gave up and watched vanlife videos on YouTube instead. And who actually cares about self-imposed deadlines and scheduled anyway?! Okay, I do, but I need to learn to care just a little bit less sometimes.
Playing my Trombone with SASWE
I was brought up in a very musical family and was encouraged from a very young age to sing and play music. Music had a place at every family occasion; my sister and I would learn and perform together. I remember being taken to organ lessons above a music shop, piano lessons at a lovely lady’s house, and having guitar lessons at school. There was the Barton Blues – my Mum, sister and me – and even a recorder quartet which included my Dad. At School I did choirs and bands and orchestras, it was just normal. Not only that, but I was brought up in the Salvation Army (I’m an Officer’s kid) where music is at the heart of the worship, and so I was always encouraged by the folk there too. At the Army I started on tenor horn, changed to cornet and then gradually worked my way down to euphonium. One week the band leader took away my beloved euphonium at the start of practice and handed me a trombone, saying “play that”. And that was it, Zoe the trombone player was born.
I don’t play my trombone as regularly these days, with one very important exception – SASWE. The Salvation Army Symphonic Wind Ensemble meets just three times a year for an afternoon rehearsal and evening festival, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the group. I sit on a section with other trombone players who make me smile, and love that I get to call a number of the other members my good friends. On Saturday I spent the day in Rushden, Northamptonshire, practicing and performing with SASWE. It was a long day at the end of an incredibly tiring week, but it was so good to just play. It sounds corny but playing music is so good for me, especially when it’s a little bit challenging (and SASWE can be a lot bit challenging…) – I have to concentrate on watching, listening, reading and breathing. If those four things aren’t in order it can be a terrible experience for me and everyone else! Music, and playing my trombone, is one of my first loves, and I’m glad I can still do it. I’m already looking forward to our next meeting up in Morley in June, and have promised myself I’ll practice a bit more between now and then!
I was surprised that The Aeronauts was released on Amazon Prime so soon after finishing at the cinema, that was until I realised it was an Amazon production and so actually it made sense. We had meant to see it at Cineworld but didn’t get around to it, so watched it over our piri piri chicken dinner last night. I enjoyed. I know it’s fiction (technically an amalgamation of a number of historic aeronautical and meteorological stories), this isn’t a true story, and it’s not exactly believable in a number of ways, but I really enjoyed the story and it was a great bit of escapism for 90 minutes or so. I liked how the balloon flight itself was told in near real-time, with other parts of the story feeding in throughout. I also very much enjoyed the acting, and the fact we weren’t subjected to an unnecessary romance alongside the period-style drama. I admit I gasped once, so it clearly did get me involved! If you’ve not seen it, a film for you to check out one Sunday afternoon.
I mentioned in my most recent Currently Loving post (the February 2020 edition) that I thoroughly enjoyed “reading” Michelle Obama’s Becoming (find it here on Audible) and that I was now moving onto Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Neatly Everything (find that one here on Audible – or check out your local library for audio book loans). I’m about three quarters of the way through this mammoth book and am thoroughly enjoying it. Not taking sciences further in my education is one of those things I will always regret in some ways, but I love learning more about the history of our world as an adult. One thing I’m finding through this book is how much money, incest, lies, and even murder played a part in the world of scientific discovery. The number of times I’ve heard a story about a poor unknown scientist who was ignored or mocked for their work only for others to realise – normally after the person is long dead – they were right. Maybe I’m glad I’m not a scientist! The chapter on infectious diseases was particularly pertinent to current world events, and it was interesting to discover that Newton self-isolated for quite some time to try and avoid getting the bubonic plague… He returned home from Cambridge to Woolsthorpe Manor, which is where he saw that now famous apple fall from a tree and inspired him to discover gravity. I mean, if COVID-19 ends up inspiring a similar breakthrough in science then I guess that’s a good thing?!
Celebrating International Women’s Day
I was supposed to be publishing this weekly blog episode on International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March 2020), and as such had planned to dedicate it to the women who inspire and motivate me. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating equality.
It’s not a new thing. International Women’s Day has occurred annually for well over a century, with the first gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. This year, the theme is #EachForEqual, which speaks of men and women having equal place in our world, because sadly that is still not yet the case. It should be said that this isn’t about trashing men, but about celebrating women, and encouraging girls to grow up to be anything they want to be without the constraints of gender stereotypes.
The women I want to feature here – four of them – come to mind because they have been inspiring me this very week. In a week that has been busy, tiring and hard work (the term wading through treacle is particularly appropriate), this handful of lovely ladies have, probably unknowingly, been there to make me smile and make me feel good thoughts. This isn’t a list of all the women who inspire me, I’d be here for days and days writing such a post, but rather a shout-out (because I’m still in the 90s) to some amazing women who have been there for me over the last seven days. Some are friends, people I know and love, others are acquaintances or just people I follow who do things in their lives that make mine feel nicer. And of course it’s not to say that men haven’t done the same for me, but this week in my life I would genuinely say it’s these women who’ve got to take the credit.
Pacific Crest Trail Hiker and YouTuber, Mari Johnson
Californian Mari Johnson hiked the PCT – Pacific Crest Trail – last year and has been releasing videos of her adventures on YouTube. I admire anyone who can dedicate six months or more of their life to hiking one of the big US trails, but have been particularly inspired by Mari this week as she always shares the highs and lows of being on the trail, including losing her tent stakes and hiking in the rain. I like that she “hikes until she wants to stop”, which is a pretty good way of looking at a trail if you ask me. I’ve never met Mari but her PCT series is inspiring, even if I’m not going to be heading over to the West Coast to do it myself, I find her dedication and persistence motivational. Find Mari on YouTube.
Outdoors Loving Activist, Katie Tunn
Earlier this week I opened my subscription copy of Countryfile Magazine to see a full page of friend and fellow GetOutside Champion Katie Tunn staring back at me. How cool is that?! I know Katie as she’s part of the Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions family, and she really is a wonderful soul. The article published in Countryfile Magazine focuses on her beach cleaning efforts, her #82Islands challenge, and on the importance of trying to slow down and travel responsibly. Her social media feed never fails to make me smile and make me think in equal measure, and her love of the world is definitely rubbing off on me. Oh, and she’s also an amazing artist. Find Katie on Instagram and on her blog, The New Girl Skye.
History Lover and Shanty Singer, Kate Jamieson
The thing that I love most about Kate is that she has such passion for war history that it exudes from every pore of her being. There is no getting away from it, Kate is a history buff, and my life is richer (and full of random facts) because I know her. We met through Outdoor Bloggers first of all, and now we are both a part of the GetOutside family. I have to admit, I don’t know how Kate does everything, she just started a new job, has history speaking gigs, gets involved in all kinds of adventures and organisations, and still finds time to post her life and loves on social media. I know it doesn’t always go quite to plan, but I find her passion and knowledge inspirational. She’s also a fellow enjoyer-of-folk music, which couldn’t go unmentioned! Find Kate on her blog, The Adventures of Kate, and on twitter.
Gif Finder Extraordinaire, Sarah Irving
Sarah is the kind of friend that I can have a public conversation with online completely in gifs. It’s a talent not many people have, I feel, but it’s one that never fails to make me smile. And some days knowing that she’s taking the time to throw random animations at me is enough to get me motivated. Known as The Urban Wanderer, Sarah walks miles and miles every day – she works at home but goes on a reverse commute to make sure she gets some time outdoors and exercise every single day, something that I definitely don’t always manage. If you want gifs, find Sarah on twitter, and also read The Urban Wanderer.
These four women are all different but they each inspire me in their own way. What a wonderful world we live in when someone like me can be inspired and motivated by all kinds of people from all over the world! Thanks ladies.
This Week’s Question
In the spirit of celebrating women who inspire and motivate you, I’d love to hear about the women in your life who have motivated you to be your best self this week. Maybe it’s someone who you chat to on social media, a member of your family, a sportswomen, a politician or campaigner. Share who they are and how they’ve been your inspiration this week in the comments below.
Which women have inspired and motivated you this week?
If you enjoyed reading this blog, if you think my weekly blog series is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday at 6pm (ish!!!) for the next in the series.