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The Big Zeroes

watch us go from zeroes to heroes

Category Archives: Bridget

Cuba, what a country! One of those places that constantly make you question why you are fortunate to have been born who you are and not a party to such poverty and deprivation found there. From Christopher Columbus, in 1492, until the early 20th century the country has been in a constant state of foreign control by the Spanish, French, Americans and briefly the English. When Independence finally was won an unworkable government, exacerbated by the American embargo, brought the country totally to its knees. From the early 90’s until 2005 a Cuban’s monthly ration consisted of 6lb of rice, 6lb of sugar, 10 eggs, 7 bread rolls, 4oz of coffee, cooking oil, 8oz of dried beans and 8oz of soya or a quarter of a chicken if available. Children and pregnant women had a daily supply of milk and some extra meat. Farmers still have quotas of tobacco and sugar cane to fill but are allowed to grow fruit and veg on any spare land, this was sold to the populace during the rationing years together with eggs and sometimes chickens, however few people could afford to supplement their rations.

You must be thinking what a depressing holiday we must have had, well we didn’t. Why was this? It was all down to the people. Cubans are very welcoming, warm, generous and happy. On every street corner (and many places inbetween) live bands play irresistible dance music, in bars someone is at the grand piano playing songs from Carmen or Spanish boleros and a husky voice is singing Guantanamera or some African influenced romantic folk song. The sound of conga drummers playing rumbas reverberate well into the night giving a permanent party feel to Havana. It seems that every  Cuban owns a double bass, flute or trumpet; they practise in the parks and sit at the side of the roads taking them apart to fix when something has gone awry. We even went to a classical concert of Mozart, Stravinsky and three unknown, to us, composers  on our first night; we were thrilled when the three unknowns were revealed to be in the audience and two of them were world premiering pieces. Music everywhere.

The colours in Cuba are so intense from the beautiful stuccoed Spanish architecture to the art work  seen all around the island, of course this is helped in some measure by the glorious sunshine and vivid blue skies. The interiors of scruffy looking Catholic churches take your breath away with their wonderful tromp l’oeil frescos and stunning stained glass windows with the Caribbean sun shining through.

What has an account of my Cuban holiday to do with zeroes to heroes when Cuba was never mentioned in my list? Well a pattern has emerged which illustrates that our wish lists are really only a sounding board for all the dreams and ambitions we hold inside. I still want to see the countries in my list (I’ll maybe wait a while for Libya!) but if an opportunity to travel elsewhere arises I will sieze it enthusiastically. I’ve come to realise that traveling is not just about the going and returning it’s about immersing yourself in the culture, history,  pains and triumphs of  the people of the country you are visiting and allowing the experience to soften your prejudices  and enhance your humanity.

Paul is quite a demanding person to go on holiday with, he doesn’t know how to sit still and relax instead he is always thinking of that one more experience we  might miss if we don’t go off exploring. Well this holiday that certainly paid off in bucket loads because around every corner we found some gem that was not listed in any travel guide, this was because Cuba has an emerging tourist industry growing all the time and so far travel writers have not kept up. We did manage  one and half days lying on the beach, well I lay while Paul swam in the Caribbean, which was enough to recharge my batteries. Hopefully we have returned energised and looking forward to our next adventure.

[Photo of Varadero Beach, Cuba by Suzi]

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Yesterday I heard that a very dear friend had died and, thinking about past times shared with them, led to thoughts of my achievement wish list. When deciding what I wanted to achieve in my 60th year I was aware that there weren’t enough days to do everything on my list, the travel items alone would take many months. I read through my agenda and became aware that many of my aspirations involved those dear to me, my daughters, sister, relatives, friends and most importantly my husband Paul.

Recently I went to London with my youngest daughter Julia and while we were there we went to dinner with my sister Joan and brother-in-law Stephen; we had such a lovely time in each other’s company, we laughed a lot and Joan and I reminisced about our years growing up. The restaurant we ate at wasn’t the Fat Duck but Petrus, one of the Gordon Ramsay restaurants. I realised that many restaurants could be interchangeable with the Fat Duck in my wish list, what I should really have written was enjoy fine dining! It demonstrates that the 60 wasn’t written in stone but is a flexible, ever changing thing.

In the same vein we went to see Les Miserable’s (my 4th time) and I count it in the same category as see more live opera; not opera, I know, but just as wonderful to me. Julia and I stayed in a hotel near St Paul’s Cathedral and I posted on facebook that we were in the area, and was amazed that one of Eleanor’s friends immediately posted to say she was having coffee in Paternoster square just outside of the Cathedral; we hastened to the coffee bar and had a very jovial time. How random! What joy we can find in friendships.

As Paul and I prepare to travel south to our friend’s funeral I am thinking of all the old friends we will meet again and how accidentally neglectful I have been of them in the past years. I am intending to have a party this year to celebrate my 60th birthday and am so sad that our friend will not be there.

Wikipedia says that grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. We form many different bonds with our family, friends and acquaintances and the deepest most enduring is with our life partner.I am grieving for the loss of my friend but feel so helpless when I consider what must be the grief of his wife , also an old and very dear friend.

As I review my tally of things to do I recommit to making more time for family and friends, in particular being more appreciative of and considerate to Paul; hopefully this will involve arranging for him and my two Sunderland AFC mad daughters going to see more live football at the Stadium of Light! This will also ensure that we see more of his sister Jean as she is an equally fanatical supporter and lives in the area!

Paul and I are off to Cuba in two weeks time (Julia will be with us for 4 days) and hopefully we will take the time to recharge our batteries and have a wonderful time together luxuriating in a new cullture.

[Photo of Cuba by Suzi]

Visit the Hermitage in St Petersburgh

Finish knitting the Icelandic dresses I promised I’d do for Eleanor and Laura

START knitting the Icelandic dresses I promised I’d do for Eleanor and Laura

Take Paul to Sharrow Bay

Learn to meditate

Be more active

Stop drinking so much whisky

Finish reading Proust Remembrance of Things Past

Listen to the Ring Cycle in one sitting

Take the girls to Marrakech

Cook a full authentic mishwi

Explore Cornwall

See more of my sister

Be a better vegetable gardener

Learn to swim

Master technology, or at least understand it a bit better

Travel in India

Sort out all of my photographs

Go to Ireland to further research the family tree

Clear the loft

Empty the freezer

Go to Sunderland to further research the family tree

Sort out my books

Become actively involved in helping the homeless

Visit the battle graves of the 2 world wars

Watch more live opera

Buy less

Eat at the Fat Duck

Watch all the DVDs I’ve bought and then ignored

Listen to the Messiah once a month ( that’s a cheat as I probably already do)

Use my IPOD

Finish the tapestry I started in 1999 commemorating the millenium

Make more time for friends

Lower my blood pressure

Learn a language properly

Take Paul to Amalfi

Visit Venice

Re read Les Miserables

Study more

Exercise more (actually it isn’t difficult to do more than none)

See as much of Eleanor, Laura and Julia as they will tolerate

Concentrate my thinking more

Laugh every day

Be more appreciative of/considerate to Paul (he’s very long suffering)

Maybe join the Hash

Be more patient

Explore Leptis Magna, in Libya, with Paul

Lose weight

Play golf again

Play golf better than I did in the past ( not difficult to attain)

Stop reading trashy magazines. Actually it’s really Paul that would want me to do that

Be a better Godmother

Use the car less

Use the sports car more

Bake bread instead of buying it

See gorillas in the wild

Visit Vietnam

Do tasks timeously instead of always at the last minute

Remember all of my many passwords without having to keep resetting them

Be as happy as I am at this minute even though I drew the short straw and had to think of 60 unattained ambitions!

Bridget

When asked to be the representative for the sixties age group I was confused… Am I not just thirty!! Or is that just how old I feel and consider myself to be?

Although born in Sunderland, I now live in rural Aberdeenshire with my husband Paul having arrived here via spells living in Rome, Qatar, Oman, Australia, Jakarta, Holland, Denmark and Norway. Paul and I have three daughters who are the pride/bane of our lives, one lives in Aberdeen another in Glasgow and the third in Edinburgh ensuring that we always have available accommodation should we need to visit the cities. Despite the travelling and settling in Aberdeenshire, the families heart still belongs in part to Sunderland as we all (with the exception of my youngest daughter who hates football) are avid Sunderland F.C. supporters.

Since school I have had a varied employment career, starting working life with NUS Travel in their Sales department until I left work to have a family (no such things as working mums in those days). At the age of 40 I returned to education and graduated from Aberdeen University with an LLB and DLP in Scots law. A spell in Australia prevented me from practicing law and on our return to Scotland I worked for BT before completing a life goal of running my own restaurant with two friends. Although no longer in the restaurant business, I continue to work in the food industry by doing home catering.

My interests include Opera, eating fine foods, wine (actually whisky!!!), travelling and entertaining. The most important thing for me in life is family and friends and I keep in touch with friends from all stages of my life, from primary school onwards, in a variety of forms from the regular dinner party to Facebook.

Although not sixty at the time of writing, this year is my sixtieth and a party is planned, so who said that the event of the year would be the Royal Wedding!!!!