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Christmas at Kew

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Friday, 28 November 2014
If - like me - you live in central London but crave a country walk to escape the Christmas crowds, then head Kew Gardens.  They’ve developed a fabulous night time light installation in the grounds to create a totally new perspective on the gardens. Like a sculpture trail with lights, the effect is quite magical: music comes out of trees and the  fountain springs up with multi-coloured water. The world-famous Palm House lights up from inside, flashing and pulsating in quite a surreal and captivating way. Turn a corner and a plume of flames gives a dramatic flash of light, turn another corner and a wisteria covered in fairy lights creates a secret den to hide in.

Kew-590

I have in on good authority that small children love it. Father Christmas and his band of magical helpers whisper your Christmas wishes to a listening tree.  The carousel, marshmallows to toast on a fire pit and room to run wild makes this a really great children’s experience that all the family will love. On the last bit of the mile long trail we hung a lantern on a tree and made a wish ( I would tell you, but it won’t come true if I do). We drank mulled wine and crunched along the frosty park and the crowded shops and frantic rushing of the city fell away.

If you miss the light show head to the park on a cold frosty day, walk off those mince pies, hug a tree and escape to the country in London.

For more information click here

I can't afford Christmas presents

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 27 November 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
 
My grandchildren always expect big expensive Christmas presents from me, but this year I just don't have the money to spend like I used to. I can't even afford to buy my daughter and son-in-law a gift.
 
I haven't told my daughter this, but I'm dreading Christmas Day because my son-in-law's parents are going to be there and I know they're very wealthy.  I can't bear the idea that my grandchildren are going to be disappointed by my presents or that they'll start to see me as the poor relation.  What do you suggest?

Patricia Marie says...

For most people who can't afford Christmas presents, the situation can create feelings of worry, disappointment and stress. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty - you are not obliged to celebrate Christmas by someone else's standards.

Don't be too proud to admit to your daughter you're having a tough time. Simply be honest and ask her to suggest something reasonably priced that the children would really like. Even a nice book linked to their favourite character would thrill them.

Children love looking at photographs, so perhaps you could make them their very own album, to include past and present family, which will give them great pleasure, and provide much enjoyment for the whole family.

With regards to your daughter and son-in-law, you could consider sending personal gift vouchers to include anything from an offer of two hours' ironing, to a day of spring cleaning or an overnight stay of babysitting - treats which I am sure will be very well received. This will also highlight the fact that the best gifts do not have to have monetary value.

As for trying to compete with your son-in-law's wealthier parents, do not  waste another moment worrying about that. Grandchildren love their grandparents in their many varied forms, indeed it is the most special relationship.
The true meaning of Christmas runs far deeper than a present could ever represent. Spend quality time with your grandchildren, give your daughter a helping hand with the extra work Christmas brings and remind everyone that Christmas is about love, not spending power.

That's what your grandchildren will remember in years to come - not some present, however lavish.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.



In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Bear in town

Posted by Mum About Town
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on Wednesday, 26 November 2014
It’s nothing to do with the fact that Lady Y makes the best EVER marmalade.  Nor that Peru is high up my bucket list.  Or that I have a (secret) thing for brown fluffy bears… But I’m just so over excited that Paddington comes to town this weekend.

Yes, in case you’re been hiding in his little brown suitcase, Michael Bond’s character – aka Peru’s furriest export - will hit the big screen this Friday all duffle-coated up and wearing his floppy red hat.  And I’m sitting here remembering what I most love about London’s favourite bear.

-  First and foremost, his hilarious mishaps.  And of the long list, the overflowing bath accident will always remind me of when exactly the same happened to my brother.  (Except worse, his escapade brought down the whole bathroom ceiling.)

-  The rather specific instructions to look after this bear fill me with affection.  Reading the tales to my Smalls when they were younger, reminded me just how much we should take care of those who are lost, misplaced or just alone in a foreign train station.

-  Those infamous ‘hard stares’ taught to him by his Aunt Lucy.  I use mine regularly, with much effect.

Essentially, Paddington is an outsider trying to make sense of the world.  Keen to do everything correctly (and yet he’s a bear so therefore doesn’t know how), his adventures are amusing and reassuring in equal measure.  Either way, my memories are fond, so I’ll just polish off one more marmalade sandwich, and I’m off to see my labeled bear.

Marvelling at meditation

Posted by Young Ladies About Town
Young Ladies About Town
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on Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Meditation is in. It's official. There are countless books on the topic, 'workshops' popping up all over London, and just last month this Young Lady About Town interviewed a very famous male singer who was raving about the benefits of his practice.

And yet for many - myself included - the idea of actively not thinking still seems a bit alien.  Why sit doing nothing for 20 minutes when you can read a book? Watch television? Mix a cocktail?

meditation-1-590.jpgYou can meditate anywhere (dappled sunlight not required)

According to Graham Doke, a meditation expert and director of the Anamaya centre in Kensington, this doing nothing actually does a lot for your wellbeing. The way he explains it is quite simple: all babies are born with a blank slate - they are not angry, frustrated or sad. We learn these emotions and behaviours, and over time they literally affect our neural pathways. This means that is you frequently get angry, you will continue to do so, because that pathway is well-worn and easy for the brain to use.

The good news is that we can reset these pathways and utilise more positive ones. Instead of anger, for example, you can learn to feel compassion. Instead of frustration, you can learn patience. Instead of sadness, you can feel hope. You get the picture. This relearning (or resetting if you like) is where meditation comes in.

Attending a one-on-one session with Graham is both illuminating and relaxing. Sitting cross-legged in a dim room, his soft voice encourages me first to concentrate on my breathing, then takes me on a mental journey designed to encourage a sense of calm. Every time a rogue thought threatens to interrupt, he tells me to simply acknowledge it's presence but not 'jump into' it.  

meditation-2-590Expert Graham Doke

'Meditation is not complicated, but it's not easy,' he explains. Switching off is a challenge, but Graham certainly enables me to quieten (if not entirely dispel) my mental chatter. The ultimate goal of meditation, he says, is to occupy the 'mind-like sky'. This is the space below your thoughts - your even, unruffled consciousness. Thoughts are like clouds in this sky: you can observe them, but you don't have to engage with them.

It can take weeks, months or years or meditation practice to achieve this state. When you do, Graham explains, the sense of peace is almost euphoric. Not everyone can have access to a meditation teacher, however, which is why he has created the Anamaya app.  This not only includes guided meditations (with Graham's own deeply soothing voice) but also insights into the theory behind practicing, and a way of monitoring your progress. The idea is that anyone can do it anytime, anywhere.

Even after one session, this Young Lady came away a little bit lighter and a lot more zen. Fired up by this revitalised energy, when I got home I managed to read a book and watch television and mix a cocktail. Perhaps doing nothing enables you to achieve more in the end...Armed with the app, I plan to find out.

For more information on the Anamaya app click here. To download the app click here.

Dear Santa

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 24 November 2014
As I write this I am terrifyingly aware of how quickly Christmas is looming and then how to offer constructive options for what to put in a Christmas stocking and under the tree.

No matter what your religion there is no use trying to hide the expectation for presents as, dare I say, we live in a society utterly focused on “things” and “stuff” and “belongings”. I’m not saying it’s a totally negative concept; however, sometimes it seems the delight is more in the quantity and largesse rather than the expression of love and gratitude.

So have a think about the following as an alternative to the latest fad toy and brand name blingy thingy…

A regular date with your children where everyone gets to choose a fun activity (bowling, arts & crafts, a picnic, bike riding, mini-golf) or maybe just a regular movie night at home with popcorn and all the trimmings.

Sign them up for a magazine subscription, library card, to tap into your child’s curiosity or membership at the zoo, science museum or gym. Maybe you could find an adults and kids yoga or swim class to enjoy together.

Similarly, find a drawing or singing class, chess club, dance, riding, drama, skateboarding, indoor climbing, to give them a challenge for something new they might not have considered. Even if it doesn’t work out it’s not a failure but a learning experience and an adventure into the unknown.

Family coupons like an extra half hour before bed, my favourite dinner, sit and read with me, Anything Goes (give 3 options), cupcake baking & decoration, or something unique to your family. Children love personalised and thoughtful activities and usually the messier the more opportunity to giggle and be creative.

Outdoor supplies to get stuck into the garden together; board games, puzzles or cards for a rainy day or the evening; or you could visit a charity shop together to pick out dress up clothes for your afternoon tea date back at home.

Dear Santa, this year I’d like to give my children my imagination and time. I’d like to create new memories. I’d like my children to feel the joy of family and love. (Oh and if you have any magic sleeping dust for sprinkling on my children at night for an occasional morning lie-in, I’d like a box full please, to share with all my sleep deprived friends of course).


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Daily tip from the lady archive

"BEAUTY may fade and riches be lost, but a sense of humour ripens with the years, and cannot be stolen. It remains a very real solace, and a talisman against the ills of life."

The Lady. The Invaluable Possession 2nd May, 1912
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What the stars have in store for you this week.Nov 28 - Dec 4

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Q: A recent survey has revealed the Top 10 things British women would love to do but are too scared. Have you done any of the following?

Sing in public / karaoke - 10.6%
Ask for a pay rise - 6.2%
Travel or holiday alone - 27.7%
Do a naked photo-shoot - 6.2%
Get a tattoo - 3.8%
Have a bikini wax - 4.9%
Get your hair cut very short - 10.6%
Ask someone out on a date - 3.8%
Quit your job - 19%
Have cosmetic surgery - 7.3%
The voting for this poll has ended on: 13 Jun 2014 - 09:12
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