The French Resistance Museum in our loft

the french reisistance blog

What's in your parent's attic? Your old school work and teddy bears? Projects half done but long forgotten? Half empty paint cans from decorating jobs of yonder years? This is my step-dad's loft....it's in essence his very own museum. You know those lucky people who find a hobby, completely unrelated to their job, which fills their time and their passion? He's one of those.

museum in your house

7 years ago, I helped my Step-Dad start a blog, and he's dedicated his free time to it every since. Each year he posts more than 100 articles, each meticulously researched, referenced and translated in French, about the daily life and liberation of the south west of France during the second world war. The French Resistance describes the groups of people who rose up and fought against Nazi occupation of France. It's not a topic I know loads about, although I do my best to listen and learn I promise!

You can find his blog here ----> La Resistance Francaise (you can use google translate if you want to read it in English!)

french resustance world war two

So his loft contains all of the items he's collected over the years, many of which have been gifted/donated to him by family members of the people he writes about. He's travelled to their homes, listening to their stories, and collected their memories. He pieces together how they all interlink with each other. Some of his pieces have never been seen by anyone, handed over to him to treasure.

world war two blog

The loft is set up as if it were a room of someone living through the French Resistance, transporting you back in time, as you climb up the stairs. You can feel the weight of what the objects have been through, and survived, although of course many of their owners did not. Especially with the current political climate, it challenges you to consider what you'd be willing to do, how much you could fight, and risk.

I envy his hobby in many ways, to have found something worthwhile, yet passion-led, to channel yourself into. To have something to throw yourself into. He cares so much about these people, and he carries their stories with such a sense of responsibility. 

Starting my BSL Level 2 (British Sign Language)

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Last summer I completed my British Sign Language Level 1, and despite at the end not expecting to sign up for Level 2, here I am, getting ready to go up a stage with my signing. Last night was my first class, they're shorter 2 hour sessions, rather than the full days I did for my intensive level 1, and a lovely small class of 5 (only 4 attended last night, so who knows what happened to our extra member). Such small classes are clearly amazing for language learning, as you can't hide at the back, or stay shy.

I was concerned about my loss of language, since completing the first course, I've not practised it or kept up with it, and it's always so embarrassing being the person who clearly is behind, but luckily I was reassured when I discovered my classmates had done their level 1's much longer ago than me. Phew.

As before, there is a strict "voice off" policy in class, which is always the best way to learn a language - immersion. Our teachers push us hard, as we have to sit standardised exams, and they don't want anyone to fail, but I always feel supportive, so the nerves soon go. Almost!

Even after one session, I'm really glad I decided to head to level 2. When you first start learning any language it's always frustrating that you have to learn lists of vocabulary, and having basic conversations, that are more natural just remain out of grasp. Level 2, started with learning some of the connecting words, like 'can, can't, should, shouldn't, will, won't', which seem so small, but really felt like a huge step forward, and the type of signs I'm excited to learn.

It's a long course of 25 weeks, ending with 3 assessments; a presentation, a written exam watching a video, and a conversation. Oddly, when my teacher explained this, I was relieved! Level 1 had 3 conversations as its 3 assessments, and they're pretty stressful!

Back to uni - doing a short writing course

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The start of 2018 is the season for enriching my brain, and along with starting my BSL level 2 (I did my BSL level 1 last year) I've enrolled in some writing courses. The first started this week, and is a  "Writing for Children" evening course, and with the appropriate level of nerves, off I trotted, notepad in hand.

There were 18 people in our first session, so quite a nice large group, and really interestingly varied. There seemed to be a running theme of ex-journalists and people who work in finance (!) but a real nice eclectic mix of people. One of the perks of group activities is meeting people you'd never cross paths with in any other way. It's good for the mind and soul.

We started off by going around the class and hearing why people were there, what writing they had done, or currently did, and what we'd hope to gain from our attendance. We did a few writing exercises (no, we didn't need to share with the group!) and it felt so odd, in a great way, to just write creatively, for no reason apart from the fun of it. We were given some photos of children, with some questions to develop a character. I just wrote, in silence, imagining this kid. Deciding what he was good at, why his best friend liked him, what his home was like. How often do we allow our brains just to get creative? I don't know about you, maybe you have an awesome creative hobby, but I don't. It was exciting.

You may not know this about me, but I was a primary teacher, who specialised in English/reading, and I was also a secondary school librarian. This feels like a lifetime ago (I've been self-employed for 7 years now...eeek), so it feels a little like I'm blending my old life with my new one. 

Maybe I'll write a children's book, maybe I won't. I'm focusing less on the result, and more in the process. Enjoying throwing myself into a hobby. Remind me of this when I'm banging my head trying to make my book ideas perfect. He he.

Fostering Bronwyn the Cat - 6 weeks update

I fostered Bronwyn from the RSPCA just over 6 weeks ago now, and in some ways it feels so much longer! Its hard to remember my home without her!

If you want to find out more about how I became a foster cat carer - read more here.

fostering bronwyn 6 weeks

She's had her 3rd urine test, and she's still failing, so she can't be rehomed yet, and she's still on medication. It doesn't seem to be bothering her, she is relaxed, full of appetite and uses her litter tray often and without bother. So I'm hoping whatever it is, isn't causing her any bother.

cat fostering london

I've been thinking about what I'd write as her bio, when she's ready for a home.

"Dear new family. I'm Bronwyn, and I'm about 5 years old. My first family couldn't look after me any more, and I ended up at the RSPCA. They took really good care of me, they neutured me and gave me my jabs. I may have moaned, but I know its for the best. I had blood in my urine that wasn't clearing, and the lovely people at the RSPCA thought that maybe I was too anxious in my cat pod. I was certainly a little lonely.

So Ree fostered me, and I moved into her flat. My bowels were a little anxious at first, and it took me over a week before I fully got into the swing of things. I'm proud that I've always used the litter tray, even when Ree bought a new fancy one with a lid. I'm very toilet trained.

I definitely wouldn't enjoy living with children, I'd suit an adult only household, and I probably wouldn't be too bothered if they worked. I like attention, but not tons of it. I also need to be in control of the affection, which is why I'd not do well with children. I definitely enjoy sitting on Ree's chest for a while, but I'll let her know when I'm done, sometimes with a quick nip. I sleep on her bed, but right at the end. I like to be close, but not too close. 

Ree tells people I have a lovely nature, and I'd make someone a lovely pet. I'd love access to a garden, I stare at Ree's with such longing, but I'm not allowed out while I'm in foster care. I'm an independent woman, and nothing really fazes me. I'm not jumpy or nervous. I'm only scared of the vaccuum. We're all allowed one phobia right? I don't like to be picked up, again this is why an adult only home will be ideal. Adults understand boundaries much better than kids.

I don't really need toys. I love a 3 minute play with a pen or hair bobble. I love to scratch, but I bet if I was allowed outside, I wouldn't need to scratch inside so much. My favourite thing is a doormat, but I use my scratching post a bit too.

I have a funny little squeak noise I make when someone touches me, it will make you giggle."

bronwyn the cat

I get asked a lot if I'm worried about giving her up, when its time for her to go to her furever home, and whether I think I'll just keep her. I really enjoy her, but fostering has benefits that I think work better for me. I never call her my cat, she's my foster cat, which helps my mind not get quite as attached. Bronwyn is ace, but I'm sure my next foster will be ace in their own way too.

My second PT training session....very different to my first

what is it like having a personal trainer

I arrived, thinking, "Yeah I can do this," after my first session a couple of days before. But gosh, I'd underestimated how much the session was just a sussing-me-out session. We got straight onto a spin bike, and my confidence quickly disappeared. I've done spin, I actually like spin....but blimey this was the hardest I'd ever had my bike. It was a short 5 minute warm up, but I got off with wobbly legs, as if I may fall over. I felt a bit sick. Uh oh.

We headed to the weights and started on biceps and triceps. Again, I was begging for mercy within a few minutes. Telling her I couldn't do it. That I felt weird. That my legs may give way. Ha ha, what a baby!

We then did some tabata cardio (very intense bursts with short rests), which oddly gave me energy and I felt ready to go again. Back to triceps and biceps, and she did allow me to drop my weights slightly on my biceps, as it was clear my arms couldn't do anymore. 

Next, core and again, I whimpered and yelled my way through. I thought I may be a bit broken. Ha! So dramatic.

Then I was all over. Stretches and time to go home. Blimey, if you ever think you can't work out in just 30 minutes, you need a personal trainer. I apologised for being such a baby, and she calmly explained that I'd done everything she'd asked of me. That if it wasn't really hard she wasn't doing her job properly. That change happens when you really push your body. It's meant to hurt. It's meant to be almost impossible to finish a set. If it isn't, the weight isn't heavy enough.

Apologies that all of these fitness updates have stock imagery. The studio doesn't allow any phones, so you'll be saved from pictures of me in the gym for now!

 

My very first personal training session

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I was lucky enough to get some money for Christmas with the caveat to spend it on things. To treat myself to things I perhaps wouldn't. Indulgent and fun things. So I booked a personal trainer.

I've always wanted to try one, but the price always felt a little too indulgent. I was also nervous, nervous of having someone pay me that much attention. Worried about failing in front of someone. And worried about the cost. So yes, when you're given some money and told to spend it on yourself, this was an obvious choice.

I'm out of the fitness game, and I miss it. I also miss fitting into my clothes, my wardrobe is still full of clothing that I can't even do up. I've lost my way a little.

So yesterday I tried my very first personal training session (second one tomorrow!). Picking one was a challenge, there's so many of them, and how do you know who you'll get on with, and who will train you in a way that suits you? I ended up going with a lovely lady I remembered from twitter. I'd followed her I think years ago when I lived in Crouch End. 

It took place in one of those swanky private studios, which had the added bonus of meaning I'm being trained in an empty room; just me and my trainer. Fancy.

The first session was a bit of a swift get-to-know session, with some chat and some base-line checks of my fitness. Prior to the session I'd explained the sort of exercises I wanted to do, and exercises I avoid due to my back. We discussed goals and expected progress.

I guess what I'd forgotten was that part of a PT's job is to cheerlead and to encourage, so the praise felt a little silly at first, but I forced myself to just accept it, and feel empowered by it. Oh you think my squat is great, why thank you. You think my awful attempt at a push up is really good? Why thank you.

My muscles hurt today, in the good way, and muscles that wouldn't usually feel tight as I'd miss them out on my own. My sessions are only 30 minutes long, so its good to know that even with chatting at the start, you can still get some work done that counts. 

What you buy if you were told to treat yourself?

When your new years resolutions go to pot

fostering a cat 2018

Most people use a new year to reflect on the past one, and to set some intentions or resolutions for the year ahead. I'm a big fan of goals and direction, but of course it's absolutely fine if it doesn't go the way you'd hoped. Take me for example. This time last year, I reflected on how I wanted my 2017 to look. My boyfriend has just moved abroad, and I'd just started a new job. If me having a job confuses you, read this post from Dec 2016 to catch up. 2017 was going to be the year of creating work I was proud of, while managing a long distance relationship (and potentially moving abroad).

Move forward, and by April I had opted out of both. I quit the job and the relationship. Neither were delivering what I'd hoped for I guess.

So my 2017 wasn't about new work challenges, nor was it about that relationship. It ended up being about moving house and starting new chapters. It was about a bloggers' trip to Menorca, and a best friend's holiday to Lanzarote. It was about becoming political and using my time to volunteer. It was the year I learned a langauge. It was a year about me, and figuring out a new path. A better path.

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So now 2018 is here.....what do I hope for this next year? I want to focus on enrichment. I want to continue adding to my life, so I'm considering getting a personal trainer, returning to do my level 2 of BSL, and a writing course. Yes, I want love. I want sex. I'm not ashamed of wanting those things either. So, lets see how this next year goes. Wish me luck.