Tracks of Carole’s years: part 5.

My ninth song choice is Rhythm of my heart by Rod Stewart.

In 2014 I was a volunteer first aider at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. I was lucky enough to have my first 3 shifts as field of play for the rehearsal and the actual opening ceremony. It was a spectacular show and among the many performers was Rod Stewart who brought the crowd to life with this song. It was also the first time I had sung the National Anthem in the presence of the Queen.

I had the most amazing time and met so many fabulous people who I am still friends with. It definitely gave me the large sporting event volunteering bug and in 2017 I was a volunteer nurse at the World Athletic Championships in London.

I have recently had an interview to volunteer in the medical team in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, I should find out in January the outcome of that one.

My final song is How long will I love you by Ellie Golding.

I absolutely love the film About Time and in the the film the song is actually sung by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney and Ben Coleman as buskers in the London underground.

For those of you who haven’t seen this amazingly touching film I’ll give you the gist; The main character, Tim, is told by his dad that the men in their family can travel back in time. His advice to him is to use it to go back and re live his day to make it better or more meaningful. Sadly his dad dies, but Tim is still able to go back in time and visit him after his death. But here’s the rub, Tim can’t go back beyond his children’s birth or the child would be different every time he came back. This is ok until his wife wants a third child, Tim knows he won’t be able to keep visiting his dad in the past and there’s a really lovely and tear-jerking scene when he goes back to spend one last walk along the beach with his dad just before his third baby is born.

At the end of the film Tim says that he didn’t use his ability to go back in time much at all, he lived his life as if he had deliberately come back to that day and recommends we do our best to relish this remarkable ride.

Now we don’t have Tim’s super power of time travel so I think it’s a really good idea to make the most of every single moment, every experience big or small, every encounter ….. We don’t get a second chance, we need to appreciate this great gift of life and live it to the full.

12 'About Time' Quotes | 12 Best Romantic Quotes From Movies

Tracks of Carole’s years: part 4

My seventh song selection is These are the days of our lives by Queen. As I’ve written about before in this blog, I am a massive Queen fan, I have been since I first saw them on Top of the Pops performing Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975. But I think I first fell in love with Freddie when I saw him on the Crazy Little Thing called Love video.

He was such a force of nature and one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. He had the most amazing vocal range and stage presence, you only need to watch his Live Aid performance to confirm this. That is what makes the video for this song so upsetting, to see how frail and weak Freddie was while trying so hard to perform for the camera. According to his bandmates and close friends, Freddie was in a lot of pain on the day of shooting but was determined to put on his best performance.

My youngest son, Jake’s, birth was incredibly traumatic and after 30 years I can still remember every minute of it. I was in hospital for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after he was born. On the day we were finally discharged from hospital the papers were full of the headline “Freddie has AIDS”. He very sadly died the next day.

This incredibly sad event will be forever linked with my overwhelming sense of relief that Jake and I survived and the joy of welcoming a new and healthy son against all the odds

These Are The Days Of Our Lives (Penampilan Terakhir Freddie Mercury di  Depan Kamera) ~ QUEENINDO (The Indonesian Queen Fan Club)

Song number 8 is There’s a Kind of Hush by the Carpenters. In my humble opinion it’s one on the best songs by this very talented duo. Although they didn’t write it themselves, they have the most wonderful vocals and completely make it their own.

The saddest memory of this song is Karen’s appearance when she sang it on the video. She suffered from an eating disorder for a large proportion of her very short life. Tragically she died of heart failure, a complication of her long battle, at the age of 32.

Karen’s story resonates with me as I have been struggling with an eating disorder on and off since I was 16. It’s been a constant battle for many years and sometimes a coping mechanism in times of extreme stress. Severely limiting the amount I eat helped me regain the control I felt I lost. As a healthcare professional it doesn’t make any sense to, at times, starve my body of nutrition.

So at the grand old age of 54 I decided to address my issues with food and attempt to get my head straight. My first point of call was a nutritionist and those appointments were invaluable. I have a little way still to go but she has guided me in the right direction by essentially giving me “permission” and the strength to begin to eat more.

Tracks of Carole’s years: part 3

My 5th song is Way Down by Elvis Presley. Most of my childhood was spent listening to Elvis’s music as my dad was a huge fan. So I quickly joined him in that love of the great man.

Most people can recall where they were when we learnt of his death, we were on holiday in Weymouth when we heard the news on the radio in our guest house. At the age of 10 I don’t think I realised at the time how big a deal it actually was, but it was the first time I saw my dad cry.

Way Down was the last single released by Elvis before his death, it’s one of my favourites.

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The 6th song on my list is Good day sunshine by The Beatles. In my final year of primary school I had the most fantastic teacher, Mr. Parkin. He was so creative in the way he structured his lessons, helping us to learn with competitions and quizzes, he read us books like The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. He also set up a disco every Friday afternoon.

Music and dance was very important to him and he created a dance group, I remember watching them perform in assembly and thought I definitely wanted to be a part of that. So when I was finally in his class I jumped at the chance to join when he set up a new group. We did a dance routine to this song.

I will never forget Mr. Parkin, he was the best teacher I ever had and I still remember a lot of what he taught me, even after 44 years! he was truly inspirational.

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Tracks of Carole’s Years: part 2

My third song is Get into the groove my Madonna. I started my nurse training in 1985 initially in Weston Super Mare. Our nurse’s home was at Uphill that was just on the outskirts of the town. Being student nurses, going out on the town on a regular basis was an absolute must. Our very first weekend away from home my friend Julie and I decided to do just that. So after a few drinks in the local pubs; The Dolphin and The Ship, we made the decision to walk into town rather than waste money on a taxi. We thought it was a brilliant idea to walk in the dark along the beach, not even thinking about checking the tide times. Luckily there was no sea to contend with, but we spotted the golf course on the way and felt that would be a much quicker route. It probably would have been if it wasn’t pitch black and we could have seen the bunkers before we fell in them, but we emerged mostly unscathed and made it to the bars and nightclub to dance the night away to this tune and many other 80’s beauties.

Song number 4 is a David Bowie song, I’ve found it really hard to choose just one, but have narrowed it down to 2; Life on Mars and Star man. I’ve been a Bowie fan for a very long time and was lucky enough to see him at Wembley Stadium in 1987 on his Glass Spider tour. This of course was the old Wembley stadium and in those days you weren’t allocated seats. You had a gate number on your ticket, once you got inside you made a run for it to get you where you considered the best place to be.

We ran to the seats on stage left, we didn’t have a master plan we just thought it would be a good vantage point. Once settled in our seats we discovered that we were just a few rows away from the press and VIP section. I didn’t see them but apparently Elton John and George Michael were sat up there. But I did see, sitting just 2 or 3 rows away from me was Diana Princess of Wales, she looked relaxed, radiant and beautiful. I must admit I turn around a few times during Bowie’s performance to see her up and dancing with everyone else around her, but the chap in front me couldn’t take his eyes off her for most of the night, I think he was truly smitten.

I didn’t take this photo, but from where I sat and a smidgen of zoom I could have captured this image myself.

June 20 1987 Diana attends a David Bowie Concert at Wembley Stadium with  Viscount Linley and Major David Waterhouse | Princess diana, Princess diana  rare, Diana

The Tracks of Carole’s years

Music is so emotive and conjures up many memories good and bad. I love listening to Ken Bruce on Radio 2 and his feature The tracks of my years. Each morning for 5 days a celebrity chooses 2 songs a day and talks about the reasons they chose those particular tunes and why they are important to them.

Now I know I’m not a celebrity or famous for just doing my job like the people Ken has on his show, and no one would be particularly interested in my choices on national radio. But it got me thinking what are the songs that represent my life and could I narrow it down to 10?

Well yes I could and I have created some posts as if I was joining the lovely Ken on his radio show, although without him asking me all the questions.

Day 1

The first song on my list is We are the champions by Queen. When I was in my teens I belonged to a Scout and Guide Marching band as a Ranger Guide then as a Venture Scout. Every year we entered quite a few band competitions throughout the summer months in South west England. This particular year we won our first ever competition, also with individual section wins and first place for turn out (which we always won thanks to our army of mums who sorted our uniforms). This win kicked off a very successful summer for us and we won all the competitions that year. On the evening of that competition win there was a disco in the church hall where we practiced each week. A parent must have gone on ahead to tell them at the hall that we had won, remember this was the early 80’s there were no mobile phones or social media! When we arrived at the church hall and started unloading our equipment we could hear this song being blasted out and everyone was singing to us. It really was an amazing moment.

My second song is Grease Lightening from the musical Grease. It’s fair to say my youngest son Jake struggled at school and probably hated every minute of it. There’s no need to explain why he struggled, it’s not the point of the post. Jake went to a small primary school that encouraged the children to be creative and express themselves especially in performing arts. His good friend Holly decided to have a go at putting on her own production; Songs from the shows. She held auditions for her cast, directed and produced the the whole thing. Jake auditioned for the role of Kenickie for the opening number and for other parts throughout the show. At the time I found this very surprising as up to that point he would usually only reluctantly take part in any performances at Christmas and leaver’s services etc.

On the night of the show I have to say I was stunned at his performance, he burst onto the stage and sang and danced his heart out, as did all the kids on this stage. The whole show was a fantastic success. I do believe that this was the start of Jake’s love for performing on stage. He continued to enjoy productions at school and he went on to achieve a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts. He has been a member of a community theatre group for many years, plays bass guitar and sings in a band.

(very grainy old photo of Jake strutting his stuff as Kenickie!)

My Everything

At the moment I’m doing a rotation in the medical team in a local hospital rather then my usual prevention of admission community role. This means I can walk to work, so Radio 2 is my best friend in my head phones. On my walk home I particularly like Sara Cox and her feature ” My first and last”. She invites the listener to talk about their first and last gig/concert they went to. So I thought I would share my experiences with the group for this post.

My first concert that I went to was back in 1981, I saw Ultravox at Bristol Colston Hall with my school friend Donna. We were dressed in the most ridiculous new romantic clothes and had the most amazing time. The next day we decided that we had to meet them, so we caught the bus after school and headed for the stage door. Of course we didn’t see them and we got in a whole lot of trouble with our parents because we forgot to tell them where we were going and this was way before the birth of mobile phones.

The last concert I went to was with my two besties Bev and Deb, we went to see Il Divo at Birmingham in 2019. I’ve liked Il Divo for a very long time, but always seemed to miss out on getting tickets when they come to the UK. But I didn’t hang about that time and secured our tickets as soon as I saw them advertised. Unfortunately, although I’ve been friends with Bev for over 30 years, I didn’t know about her fear of heights and she had a bit of a wobbly getting to and initially sitting in our seats in the upper arena. But with a lot of support and distraction therapy from Deb and I, she was ok and we enjoyed the most fantastic show.

It’s the little things

I’ve come to the conclusion that at the grand old age of 54 I’m finally approaching middle age. On my days off work I like nothing more than pottering around my garden with Radio 2 blasting out of my speakers. Don’t get me wrong I still love all the other free time stuff I do such as spending time with good friends/ family and travel. But gardening has become an obsession and Radio 2 is my best friend.

One of the things I love about Radio 2 are the features on the various shows throughout the day. So for the next few posts I thought I would write about a couple of them and what my answers would be if I could be bothered to call in.

The first feature I love is Claudia Winkleman’s Little Win on a Saturday morning. She invites a listener to pitch their little win against a celebrities. The little win can be anything, it just has to be something that made a difference to your day, even in a small way. Then the rest of the listening audience votes for their favourite little win.

I don’t have a celebrity to pitch against and let’s face it they are a bit overrated anyway! My little win happened at a lunch break at work; for pudding I had a Morrison’s extra luxury lemon yogurt and I found a packet of Nairn’s oat biscuits with fruit and seeds in my bag, for some reason I decided to dip one of the biscuits into the yogurt and hey presto I had lemon cheesecake and it was bloody lovely.

Most importantly it brought back memories of a short break my bestie Jane and I had in her friend’s beach chalet in Dunster. We were desperate for some pudding and didn’t think we had anything, I found rich tea biscuits, cream cheese and jam …..different components, same delicious outcome.

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Trees of life

I often find the adverts while scrolling through Facebook quite annoying, but recently one caught my eye. The Woodland Trust is dedicated to the protection of woods and trees throughout the UK by planting trees, restoring and caring for woodlands, especially ancient woods. In this particular advert they were offering the opportunity to buy memorial trees in a woodland of your choice and to help fund all this amazing work.

My dad grew up in the West Midlands, in the Black Country. My grandparents eventually settled in Halesowen and every Whitsun break as a child, my family would spend a week visiting them and going on lots of day trips. Heading off in my granddad’s mini clubman, we went to Clent Hills, Kinver, Hagley woods and many other lovely places for long walks on hills, through bluebell covered woods, in land sea-less sandy beaches (Kinver). There was always time for egg and cheese sandwiches and a cuppa from a proper teapot heated up with my granddad’s calor gas cooking ring.

These were treasured times that I look back on with so much love, the countryside was so beautiful and I loved spending time with my grandparents, especially granddad.

So imagine my joy when I discovered that there was a place just 5 minutes away from my grandparents old house in Halesowen called Uffmoor Wood. I made a donation and bought 3 trees in memory of my dad, granny and granddad Gardiner, in Grove 2 of the woodland.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to go and visit along with my mum and son number two, Jake. We had a lovely walk and saw quite a few deer milling around on our way down to Grove 2.

The trees aren’t actually marked in anyway to identify who has bought which tree, you just enjoy the woods knowing that in some small way you are contributing to the vital work of the Trust.

Lost in France

Three years ago my good friend Annette gave me the most amazing present for my 50th birthday. In that year to celebrate becoming half a century I planned to do 50 fabulous things and this present certainly added to that fabulousness.

Annette gave me the use of her gite in the Dordogne area of France for the week and I took along 2 of my besties Bev and Deb. See what we got up to by reading this There and back again

Nestled in the heart of the Foret de la Double in the beautiful Hamlet of Chadenne are not just the one but now three gites owned by my fabulous friend. Since our visit Annette has been very busy renovating the 2 empty buildings that were next door to our gite.

In addition to Cepe, our home for the week, a 2 bedroomed perfectly formed beauty that sleeps 4, there’s Sanglier and Cert. Both have 3 bedrooms and sleep 6. All decorated to a very high and tasteful standard.

All three gites have their own private terraces and use of the communal outdoor swimming pool.

Please take a look at their website to see for yourself the wonderful photos and find all the information you need about the area and activities.

As I said in my original post, Annette is the most amazing host and as a guest you feel so welcomed in every way.

I am definitely planning another trip as there is so much more to see and do, also I really want to see the new gites and garden because Annette and her husband Peter has worked so hard to this all happen.

Walk the walk

Yesterday I went on a blustery and at times, soggy trip down memory lane. When I first started my nurse training in 1985 I lived in the then new nurse’s accommodation tucked behind the general hospital at Uphill in Weston Super Mare.

In those days student nurses were the slaves of the workforce. Sometimes I needed to let off steam after being bullied by the nursing assistants who believed they were in charge, being made to clean the sluice with a toothbrush or just having survived long stretches of very busy shifts (often 10 in a row).

I loved to walk the length of the beach from Uphill sands to Birnbeck Pier, it was a long enough walk to dampen down the frustrations, have a blub and to talk myself back into continuing my training. Thankfully these episodes of doubt were few and far between so often I could just enjoy the walk.

The walk yesterday was full of children chasing the tide out and dogs chasing balls. As the tide was only just going out the causeway over to the pier was quite treacherously slippery, but I made it over with no broken bones or without falling into the drink.

When I got to my destination I was saddened to see the state of the pier, I hadn’t see it for quite some years. As a child in the 1970’s I regularly visited Weston Super Mare and the pier on day trips with my grandparents, and of course I would have a little trot on it at the end of my walks during my training.

Birnbeck pier was designed by Eugenious Birch and was opened in 1867, it is the only pier in the country to link the mainland with an island, Birnbeck Island. Since 1882 it was the base for the RNLI to launch their rescue boats as it is the only location for launching in any tide. Unfortunately due to safety they had to relocate in 2016.

This grade 2 listed pier has been closed to the public since 1994 and it’s been placed on the “at risk” register compiled by British Heritage as it’s in a very poor state of disrepair.

But all is not lost, rumour has it that the RNLI may potentially take back ownership of the pier and hopefully restore it to it’s former glory. In addition to this there is the fundraising organisation called Friends of the old pier, that are working very hard to help achieve this aim.

I really hope that the old pier can be restored and then maintained so it doesn’t get in such a state again. You never know who might visit, after all it was good enough for the Beatles in 1963!

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