Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Where's There's Hope

The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna Van Praag

A friend of mine bought me this book because she knew I had been feeling down recently and she thought it would cheer me up.  And she was right. This is a wonderful book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

The House at the End of Hope Street is a mystical sanctuary for women. It can only be seen by people at times when they need it. 

The main occupant of the house is an elderly lady called Peggy who has inherited the house from a long line of women who have magical powers.

On the walls of the house are portraits of past residents – women like Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, Agatha Christie and many more.  The women were all residents in the house at a time when they were experiencing difficulties in their lives. The house helped them solve their problems and their portraits have the ability to talk to the current residents to help them solve their problems.

Three women are the current residents – they are all very different but during their stay they develop a bond of friendship and gradually the house shows them how they can achieve what they really want out of life.

It sounds a bit whacky I know, but I found such a realism in the characters that I was able to suspend my disbelief regarding the more magical elements. Not only was this book a wonderful read but it inspired me to reach out and question what I really want out of my own life. It also made me value my friendships –particularly the person who bought me this book! 

I've never heard of this author before but I will definitely be looking out for more of her books.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Last week I went to see Suffragette at the cinema.I don't often get a chance to go to the cinema but I was determined to watch this film on a large screen.

I do love history particularly women's social history, so I thought I was pretty well versed on the suffrage movement.  

But nothing prepared me for this film which I have to say was absolutely brilliant.

The characters' story arcs really brought the plight of women in the early 19th century to life.  

One of the things that came across to me in the film is that social status made no difference to the fact that women were treated as the property of their husbands, fathers and even brothers. Women simply had no control over their own lives.

One of the main characters, Maud, is brought into the movement almost by accident but life events cause her to become heavily involved with her fellow Suffragettes.  She literally fights for her life as she believes that women have a right to be counted and not, as has happened to her and her fellow work colleagues, be treated by men, and particularly employers as objects which can be used however the men decide - taking much more than labour from the women.

Although Maud at the start of the film is in a loving relationship and is a mother, she risks losing everything to make the world a better place and the fact that she is prepared to do this makes this film particularly poignant.  The scenes in the prison also highlight how brave and courageous these women were to bring to us women today rights that we often take for granted.

The Suffragettes were ostracised from society, not just by the powers that be and men but sadly also by other women, who were sometimes their harshest critics.

Whilst some might argue that women still haven't reached true equality today, we owe so much to the sacrifices that were made in the past and that is something we should never forget.

If its too late to go and watch this film at the cinema I would definitely recommend that you watch it when it comes out on DVD.

And as far as the younger generation are concerned, I really think that this film should become part of the national curriculum - it will certainly make both girls and boys think about the struggles and sacrifices which were made in the past to allow us to live the lives we do today.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

All Change

I haven't blogged here recently because life has been more than a little hectic.  

First of all I handed my notice in at the horrible job. I've been wanting to leave for ages but didn't want to leave until I had another job to go to. In the end the atmosphere had become so toxic that I felt physically sick each day before I had to go in and near to tears most of the time that I was there.  Eventually I decided that life was just too short.

It saddens me that an organisation whose aim is to empower women made me feel so belittled and diminished.  From the moment I handed in my notice until the day I left the trustees didn't even have the courtesy to speak to me or even respond to work related emails. After nearly two years of dedicated hard work I found their attitude positively insulting.  I can only take heart that their behaviour reflects badly only on them.  I know I behaved with professionalism and dignity until the end.  I am just so pleased that I don't have to have anything to do with them any more.

Because I didn't have another job to go to (although I didn't tell them that), I spent my notice period applying for jobs and trying to make more freelance contacts.

I left work the day that half term started and was hoping to have a quiet week spending some quality time with my boys.  But it wasn't to be as two lots of last minute work came in which kept me tied to my keyboard for most of the week.

The following week I was offered a job, working three days a week.  Its with another charity - this time working with the elderly, but because of my recent experience I was a first hesitant to take another job in the voluntary sector.

As the expense of Christmas is around the corner though, I took the plunge.  I completed my first three days this week and thankfully they seem like a really friendly bunch and it has felt good to be in an environment where the staff are respected.

There is just so much to take in though that each day my head has been near to explosion point by the time I get home.

Its going to be a challenge fitting my increased freelance work, home and family around all this and over the last few weeks my writing has definitely taken a back seat.

I'm sure things will settle down soon but in the meantime I'm setting myself small writing takes each day so that at least I'll feel as though I'm achieving something, rather than having so little time and head space that larger projects seem too daunting.

There is one thing I'm grateful for though, and that is that I didn't sign up to NaNoWriMo this month.  I think that might just have sent me over the edge.