Bathroom ceilings as a metaphor for life


This may seem like a somewhat ridiculous thing to say, but bear with me.

Life is like a bathroom ceiling.

Most of the time, it’s just there.  It sits around, mostly unobserved (nobody ever looks up!), white and bland.  Boring.

Then one day a leak starts in the flat above you.  It may not even be visible at first, just dripping away inside the walls.

Maybe the ceiling gets a little damp.  But nobody ever looks up, so you don’t notice until it starts dripping.

By then it’s far too late.

The leak proves hard to track down.  It’s not come from the flat immediately above you, but the one above that.  It’s been dribbling down in the stairwell.  Nobody noticed it, but it’s been there for months.

The water damage is too great, and before you know it, half your ceiling is on the floor and your bathroom is flooded.*

Sometimes, our lives are like that.  We take them for granted, never look at them.

But there’s that niggling little thing at the back of our brains.  Maybe it’s a neighbour who vacuums at odd hours.  Maybe a co-worker who takes advantage of your good nature and piles on the work.  Maybe your children are ungrateful.

It all adds up until suddenly, boom!  Nervous breakdown.

The sad thing is, bathroom ceilings (any ceilings, really) aren’t bland and boring at all.  Take a look at yours the next time you go.  See the little imperfections in the paster and paint work.  Are there patterns or textures in the paint?  Look at where the ceiling meets the walls.  What kind of joint is it?  Is there an interesting fitting around the light?

Not my bathroom ceiling.

Not my bathroom ceiling.

And when you’re done with that, take a good look at your life, too.


* Mostly true.  I had a fun weekend.

July Goal Update


Work: As we know, I have one exam remaining to qualify.  I’ve spent the last three weeks reading through the course notes to remind myself of the overview, and I’m starting to focus on the bits that seem less familiar.

I’ve also been to an “Exam Counselling” session, which was pretty useful.  They went through my exam script and prepared a report which explained where I was losing out on marks, what I could do better, and so on.  I’ve been working on the ideas they gave me.

Guiding: We went Bell Boating, which was fun.  Good teamwork required to get the boat moving.  And we had an end of term party for each unit – one of which went better than the other!

And I finished sewing my backlog of badges on!

And I finished sewing my backlog of badges on!

On Wednesday I had a social meal/planning meeting with the leaders from one of my units.  We’ve been together for a long time now – over ten years.  Not only that, but we’re all on the Division team, too.  So we see quite a lot of each other – but we don’t spend nearly enough time socialising.  It was good to just talk, with no children begging for attention or ultra-urgent admin things to do.

Plus, it’s the holidays, so I actually had a whole week off from Guiding activities!

Family: That week I had off from Guiding?  I spent it all with my husband.  Well, most of it.  We went for a long walk, spent time just sitting and relaxing together, tried out a new Indian restaurant near our house, and went hunting for a house to buy.

The restaurant was yummy – perfect portion size, friendly staff and proper southern Indian food, and they had Gulab Jamun!

We had an offer accepted on a flat.  Now commences the paperwork and surveys and solicitors and all that jazz.  I’m not 100% sure that trying to buy a flat at the same time as studying for my last exam is a great idea, but that’s what I’m doing.

Kempo: I spent a weekend in Wales doing shakujo training, which was awesome.  Aside from that, I’ve been going through techniques to make sure I’m happy with them – I’m about halfway through the syllabus for the grade that I am.  When I’ve finished that I’ll move on to the techniques I’m currently trying to learn.


This was not as dramatic as the picture makes it seem.

Reading: I’m catching up, I think.  I’m only 6 books behind schedule now, at 23 books read this year.

Blogging: I’ve missed a couple, but I’m hanging in there.  It’s the holidays, so I’m talking less about Brownies and more about the rest of my life.  How is everyone finding that?



Last week I was on holiday.  Dave and I were having a “stay-cation”, which is a word that I hate.  Unfortunately, it does describe what we did.  We didn’t go to work, but we didn’t go on holiday anywhere.

One of the things we did was a long walk.

And I mean long.

We walked along the river from Clifton to Pill, crossed over to Avonmouth, and came back via Shirehampton, Sea Mills and Stoke Bishop.  In all, we were on our feet for 6 or 7 hours.


We found some interesting urban art.

Crossing the river at Avonmouth was an interesting experience.  The only bridge is the one with the motorway on.  There’s a section on the edge which is separated by barriers, which is suitable for “pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles under 50cc and invalid carriages”.  It’s a really long bridge – not the pleasantest part of the journey, but a couple of interesting views.


This is near where we had lunch.  I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect a “penpole”, since that was the name of the wood.


Brownies are Wide Awake


On Saturday we went to a friend’s birthday party.  He wanted a party on the theme of “feeding frenzy”, which sounds like a terrible idea at first glance.  It turned out, though, that he was just looking for an excuse to go to the zoo.

We went to a number of the animal feeding time talks – gorillas, penguins, giant tortoises, and so on.  And we fed the lorikeets, which is always fun.

Photo Credit: Jenni Rogers

Photo Credit: Jenni Rogers

Later, we went out for curry, to feed ourselves.

You’ll be wondering by now what this has to do with the title of the post.

There were quite a few of us there, and a number of our friends had brought their children.  About ten minutes after they arrived, one of the girls came up to me and said:

“I like your hat.”

Observant Girl had noticed, of course, that it was a Centenary Sparkle bucket hat.  This apparently meant that I was now her best friend, and we spent a large amount of time talking about what her Brownies did, what mine did, how her Brownies were much better than the Beavers that she used to go to…


What does “finished” mean?


Originally, I was going to start this post with “I’m finished!” or “it’s finally done!”.  But of course, I’m not, and it’s not.

The item in question is this:


I’ve been off work this week, having a “stay-cation” with my husband. As well as long walks and meals out, I’ve been catching up on some sewing.

I’ve done it. I’ve finally cleared the backlog of badges that I needed to sew on to my camp blanket.


It feels good; to be finished. To have achieved something.

The thing is, it’s only a month until the county Big Brownie Birthday finale camp. I will be shocked (and horrified) if I don’t get given any more badges on that camp.

So, while I am finished, I’m also not.

“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow, the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”

~ Pablo Picasso

In many ways, the camp blanket can be seen as a metaphor for life.

It’s never finished, although sometimes it gets too full.

You’re always comparing your blanket to other people’s, to see who has the best collection of badges.

You’re always trying to acquire another badge, to make your blanket just that little bit better.  Perhaps this one will be the one that makes you finally happy with your blanket?

If you spend all your time obsessing over how good it looks, you forget to enjoy having it.

The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss. ~Thomas Carlyle

I’m on Flickr


I’ve recently joined Flickr. For those who don’t know, Flickr is a photo-sharing social media type thing.

I’m mostly using it as backup photo storage (you get a whole terabyte free and can make photos private so only you can see them), but as I upload things I’m setting some of them to “public”.

You can check it out here:

Here’s a little selection of things I’ve uploaded recently.

We found a lot of old photos in the cupboard during a clear-out one day, and I had them digitised. This tree is still there:

1978-06 - Tree Planting Clifton Churchyard 1


From a trip to see the HMS Belfast in 2009. We slept on the ship!


2009 again – we got locked in a Police van during a visit to the station.


And some of our recent activities:


The hills are alive


With the sound of kiai.

Last weekend, I took part in “The Welsh Experiment”, the first Shorinji Kempo training seminar of its kind (in the UK, that we know of).

Around 25 of us took to the Welsh mountains, shakujo in hand, for a weekend of training and mindfulness.


We split our time between learning the basics of shakujo (that’s the big sticks we’re all carrying in the picture) and some of the more complex kata, and various forms of meditation and mindfulness practices.

The weather (amazingly) behaved remarkably well. Stereotypes of Welsh weather, and the weather forecast, agreed that we were likely to get wet. Some people got slightly sunburnt.

The first day did have some very dramatic looking panoramas, the sort you get in training montages from the 80s, with rows of students disappearing into the mists.

The mists didn’t photograph well, so here’s another kind of drama:


On day 2 we climbed Pen Y Fan before breakfast, then did some more training.

The afternoon was devoted to seiho, which is “correcting methods”. In its simplest form, it is pressure point massage, but it’s actually so much more.

We spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about our connection to the universe. Every moment, every action or inaction we take affects not just ourselves but others. Every thought or word affects not just others but ourselves.

The mountains are one with the sky.