Monday Funday: walking tour of Bournemouth

So I’ve told you about Monday Funday’s… Well they are working out a treat!

A while ago I saw an advert for a Walking Talk of Bournemouth. These are organised and lead by Hattie Miles, a Bournemouth local whose work with The Bournemouth Echo over the last 24 years has given her a unique insight to the goings on of Bournemouth town and it’s flavourful history!


It seems only right that I, as someone who prides themselves on being Bournemouth’s biggest fan, should also be someone who know’s a bit about my favourite seaside town’s (admittedly short) history.

So I booked myself onto a tour! The Hidden Gems of the Town Centre tour to be precise. Starting at The Miramar Hotel on a rather drizzly day, myself, Hattie and a few others strolled along the east cliff (this was pre-landslide), down to the prom, along the gardens and round the back of the town centre.

Soaking up the history of the town and the stories that form it is fascinating. Places you walk past everyday take on new significance once you know the history woven into it. Bournemouth is only young, but there is enough history to make you feel wonder and pride!

We learnt about Tregonwell, Old Harry Pay, the fact that Tolkien stayed here often (and hated it!), the Beatles big gig, the fascinating story of the Shelly’s (no Mary didn’t actually live here) and the unfortunate demise of Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce)… I could divulge more details about these tales but I think Hattie could tell the stories much better!

I think we should tell the history of our towns more often, it adds so much flavour and texture. We can be encouraged by the stories of local activists. We CAN make a difference in our town, because people have gone before us and done just that. Perhaps, in the far off future, people will go on walking talks and hear about the goings on that are happening right now?

So if you have a spare morning or afternoon that you want to fill with something a little out of the ordinary then you should definitely go on a Walking Talk! Hattie is a lovely tour host, she made two hours pass by in a flash, rain and all – absolutely recommended!

#2016WRITE – Travels With My Aunt Review

Did you see my Mouse Trap review a little while ago? Well I’ve done another one… This time for Travels With My Aunt. Thank you Lighthouse Poole, Young Reviewers!

Travels with my Aunt - Lighthouse Poole - Creative Cow Company

Travels With My Aunt, written by Graham Greene, came to Lighthouse, Poole and was performed by the Creative Cow Company. They created an interesting take on a well-loved book that has been doing the rounds in theatres and on screen for the past 40 years. I took the chance to go and see it on a Saturday afternoon in April.

The curtain goes up and you’re introduced to the cast of four, all wearing identical 3 piece suits, who had the interesting task of playing 10+ characters in the story. The fast chopping and changing of roles and faces meant the only way to keep track was to keep an eye out for the waving of a careful choice of small character distinguishing props and ear out for the most outrageous use of accents.

Straight-laced, retired bank manager, Mr. Henry Pulling when at his mother’s funeral, meets his Aunt Augusta – distinguished by the flourish of an ever-present pair of Dame-Edna-esque glasses and an upper-class drawling voice – for the first time. Shocked that Henry has never left the country, Aunt Augusta demands he joins her on a trip to Brighton. But only after dropping the bombshell that the woman they have just buried isn’t really his Mother.

One thing leads to another and safe Mr. Pulling finds his sense of adventure through following his absurdly eccentric Aunt on her world wide quest to flash her cash, smuggle stolen treasures and find her long lost love, the questionable Mr. Visconti, in the dangerous side of Panama.

All this sounds like it should be quite a laugh, but actually? I found it quite boring. I stayed awake (which is more than can be said of the person sat behind me) and it just about held my attention but I wasn’t actively enjoying myself. I felt the obligation of appreciating the work of the actors in front of me and the guilt of longing to be somewhere else on my Saturday afternoon.

Whilst the acting was good and I enjoyed the fast paced way every actor chopped and changed between characters, I didn’t connect with any of them. To be completely honest I haven’t even remembered their names. The only reason I’ve got them in this review is down to Google.

I think this is down the play being so stereotypically 1920’s English (even though it’s set in post-WW2 London). From the pronunciation of “three piece ss-yew-ts” to the uncomfortable racial stereotyping you were always a few social barriers away from making any connection with the people portrayed on the stage. All the character dialogue stayed on surface level. There were a few moments that looked like it could open up to Graham Greene’s comment on love and morality – which would have added a fascinating layer to the mix – but they were quickly overshadowed by more frivolity.

It’s a shame; because I’ve heard people share their love for the book and their love for Creative Cow Company. Maybe Travels With My Aunt doesn’t quite translate into 21st century theatre… it’s another story that reinforces the posh ‘tally-hoe’ English theatre stereotype that can make even the most entertaining parts of the narrative just a little bit dull, and make a reasonably young audience switch off.

So I’ve decided I’m going to read the book and see if it comes across better on paper. I’m also going to see a different Creative Cow Company show, because, despite me not enjoying Travels with my Aunt, their performance has made me intrigued about what else they can do.

Let’s just hope they’re not wearing “ss-yew-ts” again.

growing in 2016

I’m not getting any taller, I promise.

I mean “grow” in the figurative sense. I say that because January seems to be the month of self reflection. Self reflection that is going to inform the year ahead.

Myself and a few friends, Simon and Suzanne (both of whom I happen to have the pleasure of working with), agreed that we would start the year well and spend some time together thinking about how we want to grow and develop in 2016.


We worked through a work-book (horrible word, trying to think of an alternative) by Susannah Conway called “Unravelling The Year Ahead”. Susannah helps you get clear on what you want to create, how you want to feel and what’s most important to you, all by asking a series of simple and searching questions. In fact, these questions are so simple and lovely that it seems a bit ridiculous that I had never stopped to think about them before!

We shared some of our responses and then spent some time in “Triads” in the comfort of Si’s father-in-laws’s flat by the sea in Brighton.

“Triads”? But what’s “Triads”??

Triads is a conversation tool that we learnt about at an Art of Hosting training week. Three people per triad. One question to mull over. A set length of time per person to talk about their answer to said question.

Our question was “What do you need this year to help you grow and develop?”.

One person answers the question.

One person asks powerful questions (no advice, just questions!) and encourages thought development.

One person listens intently and reflects on the interaction at the end.

Personally I think this is a great way to peer coach… But I haven’t actually had any formal coaching training so I’m just going on the fact that it is really bloody helpful!

The things that came up repeatedly, both in triads and in the workbook, in my answer to this question were:


I need to give myself time : I need to put development as an immovable date in the diary, rather than something on the bottom of a to-do list that gets pushed further down in the list of priorities.

I need to give myself space : I need to move away from the places that I associate with the usual routine. Something as small as a different room in the flat to as big as a completely different country.

I need to give myself permission : I’ve found that I often need someone to tell me that something is a good idea before I run with it. I like the affirmation that something is valuable to do. Most of the time I need to give permission to myself. I could psycho-analyse myself all day on that one!

These are things that I have always known but have never really been proactive on. Now, more than ever, I need to be focused on ways to grow and develop my skills, knowledge and just about anything else.

I think it’s fair to say that when in full time employment there is an expectation to get additional training in a particular field. I think it’s also fair to say that when freelancing there is an over riding feeling of guilt when you just look at a training course (and most specifically the cost of said training course), let alone when you have forked out the cash and taken yourself off for a week.

Not that it is all about big long training weekends. It’s also that alternative-business book that I’ve been putting off buying because it’s £15.99 and that’s a bit more than I expected.  And that trip to * insert far off city here * for that conference that isn’t as free as I would like it to be.

“But I’m not going to be “earning” for an entire week!”, “I need to spend that £15.99 on shampoo and extension leads!” and “Train travel AND conference fees?!”

And so starts the panic.

Of course the panic needs to back off. Investment in personal development is so important that businesses will pay for you to do it, so you’ve got to spend the time to do it for yourself. It’s so good intact, that HMRC will very kindly let you take any “trade” related training & purchases off your tax bill, so really there is no excuse!

After having the day with Suzanne and Simon, talking over our desires for the year (as framed by the lovely Susannah Conway) and our needs for development (thank you triads), I have a new found energy to pursue this for the year. Thankfully I won’t be pursuing this on my own, I’ll have S&S to check in on me, making sure I’m moving in the right direction and reminding me how important this is when the panic comes back.

Looks like #2015LEARN is sticking around for a while!






the growing diving team


Over the last year I seem to have met a lot of people who have, like me, taken the plunge and quit a 9 to 5 lifestyle to do something a little bit different. Some have their dream jobs lined up, others are taking a time of rest (or change, which I’ve heard is as good as a rest), a few are travelling, some are pushing forward with projects and exploring creative means of one type or another… The list goes on. All of them are exploring what it could be like to have a ‘not a 9 to 5’ experience… at least for a short while.

Every time I chat to someone about their leap off the diving board and into the pool of non-9-to-5-ery I really enjoy the look on their face as they talk. It’s a nervous but excited expression that screams “Shiiiiiiiit, I can’t believe I’ve just done it!”. I remember that feeling when I first handed in my notice and, to be honest, that feeling doesn’t go away!

But here I am! I’m still surviving and still up to various shenanigans (at the moment it’s baking, mapping and project managing a little Bournemouth grant giver) and with no plans to go back to the 9-to-5 life.

And apparently, I’m not the only one!

So my mission, and yes, I’ve chosen to accept it, is to share some stories here. Over the next few months I want to introduce you to some excellent people – friends old and brand new – who do some brilliant things with their time.

Hopefully they will inspire you as much as they inspire me!