Category: Fabulous women

Human Kindness – the Story of the Yellow Handbag

The Yellow Handbag and a story of kindness

 

This is a little story about a yellow handbag, but really it is a story about human kindness.

I was visiting London just after Christmas and was delighted to receive a beautiful yellow handbag as a gift from my sister. I was excited, and immediately changed everything over.

The next day I packed up my things to catch a train to Birmingham where I was attending a craft exhibition at the NEC.  I felt really smart heading off with my new handbag and a borrowed backpack.

I need to stop here and draw a little picture of where I was in my life at the time.  I was suffering from severe depression and had made a decision (on my own) to come off the anti-depressants.  While I was over in London my Dad was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, and I was trying to process this.  Life was a little hard, to be honest but I was still determined that all would be well.

On the second day of the exhibition I packed up early and had a quick breakfast in my hotel in the centre of Birmingham before catching the rush hour train from Birmingham Central to Birmingham International.  I boarded the train with my backpack, my yellow handbag and my bag of goodies from the exhibition.

What I didn’t realise was that my body was going into withdrawal from the anti-depressants and that quite honestly I was cracking up.

It is a short distance from the station to the exhibiton.  Considering the day ahead, I walked along and then  I stopped and stumbled and nearly fell over in shock.  I didn’t have my handbag with me.

Passport, money, phone,  train ticket, air ticket, house and car keys, everything.  I felt physically sick.

I stumbled along to the organiser’s office where I told them what had happened.  They offered me a seat and the use of the phone.  By this stage everything had closed in on me.  I was crying uncontrollably.  The shock added to everything else that was going on in my life, the worry about my Dad and the loss of my handbag had flattened me.

I had no idea how I could even get back to London, never mind Ireland.

I walked back to the station and asked about my ticket.  “You need to purchase another ticket to London”, I was told.  I walked back to the NEC – I didn’t know what to do.

Human Kindness from a friend

On returning to the exhibition I tried to focus and realised that I needed money of some sort to at least get back to London and to my sister.  Thankfully Sara from Crafters Companion, who was exhibiting, knew me didn’t even hesitate – she loaned me 50 Pounds.

I tried to enjoy the exhibition but by this stage my heart was not in it.  I felt broken.

Walking back to the station, yet again I really didn’t know what to do.  Something led me back to the enquiries office where I had been turned away earlier.  The man on duty clearly saw my distress and told me to go down to Platform 7.

Human Kindness from a stranger

There I met the kindest man who took my missing handbag seriously.  He called everyone he knew.  He traced the train down to London where it was on a siding being cleaned.  He spoke to the cleaners.  He left no stone un-turned.  He checked every station along the way.  He checked lost property.  I just sat there with my crumpled tissue feeling lost and desperate.

Eventually he had exhausted all his options and we called the police.  There had been a number of incidents where handbags had been stolen they told me.  They took down the report.

Just as I sat down the phone rang.  ‘Stay here,” he said.  Minutes later he walked in with my handbag.  My beautiful handbag.  ‘Check it please,” he said.  I did and nothing at all was missing.

Human Kindness from a woman I never met

The story was that one of the staff members on Virgin Trains had seen me get on the train at Birmingham Central with the yellow handbag and seen me get off at Birmingham International without it.  She was near the area where I was sitting, and rescued my handbag and brought it back to Birmingham International where she knew I would be stranded.

This was quite a few years ago, but I have never forgotten the kindness of the man who helped me search for the bag and the woman who had cared enough to bring it back to me.  I don’t know if it is possible, but perhaps through social media I might find this angel and be able to thank her properly.

If you have a kindness story, I would love to hear it.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons from my Granny

Lessons learnt from my Granny

I am privileged to have had many woman in my life who have guided me and shaped me and made me who I am. Today I would like to acknowledge the life lessons taught by my maternal grandmother – Olive Hanson.

My granny passed away in 1978, when I was 13, I may have been young but I have remembered she taught me some great lessons.

My granny was born Olive Pickavance (I do like that name) and was one of 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls.  All the girls had names of plants – Olive, Iris, May, Hazel and Violet.   My granny was a lady, and one with a sharp wit.

I have fond memories of staying over at my grandparents on a Friday evening.  We went to sleep with a huge sense of anticipation of the adventure the next day.  My grandfather brought us tea in bed, something that didn’t happen at home.  We got up and got dressed with our frilly knee socks and black patent shoes and got ready to ride the bus to town.  Saturday morning in town meant a visit to the hairdresser for my gran (a proud supporter of the blue rinse) and then a visit to the multi-storied department stores which have now disappeared.  The excitement of tea and scones in the tea room and a little purchase or some kind meant we returned home on a high.

These trips were the ignited a passion for independence which had me riding the busses for many years.  At 16 I rode the bus into town and secured myself a job selling children’s shoes.

Here are a few great life lessons I learnt from my Granny.

  1. You are never too old to learn. Granny learnt to drive at 63 before my Grandad passed away.  I think it is fair to say that she was never a great driver but it didn’t stop her getting around.  My little sister always maintained she could hear Granny arriving.
  2. The importance of underwear. Granny always maintained that you should have good undies in case you were ever in an accident.  Years later I was in an accident and found myself lying in the ambulance trying to remember what I had put on in the morning.  Luckily I was ok!
  3. The value of a good story.  Granny was a great storyteller. Sometimes the stories grew and grew like the story of the cat that was so big it could fill a bath.  I did see the cat once and it was big, but not quite that big.  Stories are our history and really should be passed on
  4. The need for walking shoes and sitting down shoes. As a young child I couldn’t understand what Granny meant when she talked about sitting down shoes.  Now I know exactly what she meant.  I have both types on my shoe rack.
  5. The importance of being well dressed. Granny was always elegant and well dressed. She valued her clothes and would spend a good deal of time choosing a piece of fabric that would then go off to the dress-maker. She also didn’t like black.
  6. The value of a social occasion. As she got older she often attended the funerals of her friends. She wore Navy and saw these occasions as not only an opportunity to pay her respects but also to socialise, a wise woman.  She also loved a good wedding for the same reason.
  7. How important quotes and sayings are. She loved sayings – perhaps I have inherited that from her too. One of my favourites was – You would notice an inch on the end of your nose.  This referred to skirts that were too long or too short. (She was way ahead of her time would have enjoyed Pinterest)
  8. The value of occasion.  She had a real sense of occasion. A tea-tray was set and cups and saucers and always a little something to nibble would be brought out for a visit after school. Making small things special.
  9. The importance of high standards. Always told her three daughters to put a price on themselves.  It has been something I have never forgotten – the importance of valuing yourself – featured on  my blog here.  Her three daughters, my Mum, Aunty Ingrid and Aunty Elna were reminded – Remember you are a Hanson. Basically behave yourself and keep high standards.
  10. Everyone is special.  Granny had a way about her that you always believed that the time she spent with you was special.  A real gift that I hope I have inherited.

My granny was born on 12 March – she would have been 109 on Saturday and probably still dishing out wisdom in the form of stories.  I will set a tea-tray and sit down and raise a cup to Olive Hanson – thank you for the lessons you taught me Granny.

 

Kerry x

 

 

Fabulous Food, Fabulous woman – Gill Carroll

Photo Martina Regan
Photo Martina Regan

I am always inspired by women who are fabulous in every way.  Woman who defy the rules, and set out to reach for their dreams no matter what.

I was invited to an ITWBN  blogger event at 56 Central, a new snazzy eatery in Galway.  The food was beyond delicious, the décor really extraordinary and the company of my fellow ITWBN bloggers sublime.

What really struck me though was the quiet confidence of the fabulous woman who welcomed us.  Gill Carroll spoke with passion when she spoke of the ethos of the restaurant that provides culinary excellence from local producers and invites people to connect.

I knew at this point that I wanted to do a ‘Fabulicoius Woman’ interview with Gill.  I wanted to know what made this fabulous woman tick!

Q:  You have opened two unique eateries, 37 West renowned for healthy food and 56 Central which is based on connections.  Where do you find your inspiration?

Gill:  I spend a lot of time researching, studying from great leaders.  I take one thing from everyone and then use them to drive me on! You can learn from anyone now online – but, I do like to go to talks as well to get the real deal!

Q  What would you consider your greatest achievement in your career thus far and why?

Gill:  I think it was when 37 West (the first restaurant launched by Gill),  won Best of Galway Awards or when we got our first McKenna award – seeing the teams faces when we got the awards was something special – we all worked hard for them.

Also, creating my vision boards for 37 West and putting them out, and ALL of them coming true!

Q How do you reboot yourself when you hit a low?

Gill:  I always go back to basics.  I have a Dream Day and over many years have created many vision boards – so when things go low I go back to them – read them and remind myself of where I want to go – where I said I wanted to go when times were good!

It is easy lose focus business is hard – people expect a lot so you. My aim is to follow the words of Tony Robbins and create, not destroy. I have super people around me too, which means in seconds I can connect with people who just get me!

Q Who inspires you?  And why?

Gill:  So many people!!!

My Dad for his true fearless entrepreneurial spirit.

My Mother for her passion for fun and enjoying life.

My best friend Pat for his constant inspiration.

My business partner Lisa in Strive For It for her passion for consistency.

Q If you had to sit down and have a meal at 37 West – what would you order?

Gill:  For breakie I have an omelette with Cajun chicken, jalapeno, feta cheese and gluten-free bread! My last supper would be of course a Chicken melt, chunky chip, garlic mayo and a san Pellegrino lemon! ahhhh heaven.  (And I am hungry just reading that)

Q  How do you relax?  You have two very busy and successful businesses, but I would imagine that you need to relax and rewind at some time.  I think this is an important part of being fabulous, hence the question.

Ok, I am bad on the relaxing! I love training, it’s my way of letting go and having me time.  I am in the gym early in the morning before the world gets up! I love going to the Radisson to sit in the hot tub for hours.

I believe in the freedom days – taking a day off away from world and doing something very exciting – at least once a month!

Q Lastly, what do you do you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I am not into make-up, hair or fashion.  I have to be told to do that sort of stuff! To feel fab I enter a race the crazier the better – getting your body and mind in shape for something wild like that is when I feel alive inside – like doing Tough Mudder or Spartan race.  I feel alive covered in mud in a field, helping myself and others get through some hard hours!

If there’s a charity element I am even more ready to get covered in mud.  It makes the whole event so much more worthwhile.  Last year I was part of a team that raised  €160k for Cystic Fibrosis – a really   special moment of my life!

I also love to go for good meal, sip on a big glass of red wine and laugh my head off with good people.  Follow it up by dancing my ass off.  Basically acting like a big child!

 

I would like to sincerely thank Gill for not only welcoming me to her restaurant, but also taking the time to do this interview.  I can honestly recommend the food at both eateries (and I do love good food).

 

Thanks for reading x

 

 

So you have decided to start blogging …

 

#itwbnselfie

I started my blog at the beginning of the year, but I can honestly say that the real kick-start came after attending a blogging event.

That first event was the ITWBN meet-up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway.  I was made to feel so welcome and was so inspired by fellow bloggers, speakers and the sparkling and lovely event organised by Saibh and Sinead.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to once again attend an ITWBN event at the gracious Ardilaun Hotel.  The event featured Joanne Larby, the Make-up Fairy.

Now, I am not strictly a beauty blogger, but I do love my make-up and love being fabulous so I dressed up fancy (and had my photo taken by a friendly photographer), and headed out with a spring in my step.

What a wonderful an inspiring event.  It started with a  warm welcome from my fellow bloggers, some which I knew already, and others who I had the pleasure of getting to know.  We were treated to gorgeous fruit cocktails and fragrant Solaris tea before sitting down to a spread.

The food was delicious.  Our table devoured the yummy savouries and were delighted to receive an extra plate.  Scones, and sweet goodies followed all washed down by tea.  Catriona from Solaris Tea urged us to try some of the special teas and I found myself addicted to Chai Green Tea, so much so that I had to buy a box to take home!

Joanne is glamorous in person, but is also very down to earth.  As she shared her story, I found myself inspired and was quickly jotting down ideas for posts and for increasing my readership.  Joanne built her blog from very little.  The success of her blog is a result of lots of hard work and consistency.   It wasn’t all about beauty, more about blogging and Joanne was very generous about sharing  tips for taking your blog the step further.  Question time was great, lots more scribbling from me.

No blogging event from the fabulous ITWBN would be complete without a legendary goody bag.  Snuggled up on my sofa after the event, the pencil came out again as I started planning even more blog posts based on the goodies!

Blogging can be a very solitary hobby, but by attending events and joining groups you become part of a community.  A community of colleagues that are there to inspire you.

Thank you to Saibh and Sinead for your hard work!

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

 

 

How I got unstuck from a table in a beauty salon

Customer Service

This is a two part blog post.  The first part is how I got myself stuck on a table in a beauty salon, and the second a tribute to excellent customer service.

I was really excited on Saturday morning, I was returning to Westport for a day of visiting old friends and haunts.  The Hair and Beauty Rooms in Westport is a ‘haunt’ and a place where I have made some very good friends.  I wanted to treat myself to a few treatments including a leg wax.  I honestly believe that every fabulous woman should where possible have salon days (and if money is tight, treat yourself in your own home).

I digress…

I woke up on Saturday morning bright and breezy and simply sat on the sofa.  Pop – my back went out.  Excruciating pain.  It hasn’t happened for years, but it happened on a day when I didn’t want it to happen.  I tried lying on the floor and doing a manoeuvre to pop it back in.  The only thing that happened was that the dog was worried about me and tried to lick me better.  I struggled up, took a pain killer and set off to Westport. Thankfully I was not driving.

It eased up a bit and I struggled up the stairs of the salon eager to begin my treats.  It all went very well.  I lay there and was pampered by Lindsay, chatting away and thinking that my back wasn’t really that bad.  We got to the part where she asked me to turn over to wax the back of my legs. Eeek – out it went again.  I was stuck I couldn’t move one way or another.

Now in a way this was a funny situation, but in another it was awkward. Here I was bent double with half my legs waxed.

I cannot applaud the customer service I received loudly enough.  Lindsay was determined that I would leave the salon all beautifully waxed.  She finished the job with me bent double – I first for us all.  The awkwardness then increased as I realised I couldn’t reach my trousers which had slipped to the floor, never mind get dressed.  Lindsay kindly helped me to dress and sent me off to my favourite Westport pharmacy where again I was welcomed and given both great advice and the right medication to relieve the pain and enjoy the time with my friends.

This is a shout out to all those who give amazing customer service as part of their job. They are heroes.

Thank you for reading.  If you would like to leave a comment, please do and tell me about your customer service hero.

Kerry xx

The ICA and Me – Great way to make friends

ica imageThe Irish Country Woman’s Association (ICA) has been going for 105 years.  I heard about it soon after I arrived in Ireland, but never got around to joining, mostly due the fact that I was living far out in the country.  I can honestly I wish I had joined years ago.

A week after moving to Westport I saw a little piece in the local paper about ICA.  I picked up the phone and got straight through to our chairwoman Ann – and a few days later, I joined the ICA family.

Just recently my son had two work related social occasions.  I excitedly asked him what he had learnt.  I was expecting to hear about the power of twitter, or the something new to do with gaming.  His answer surprised me.  ‘More than anything, I  learnt that I can walk into a room full of strangers and act like I can fit it’.

I think that when I moved to Westport this is exactly what I had to do.  I am a very bubbly outgoing person, but it is still hard to start over and make new friends.

Joining the Westport ICA Guild was one of the best things I ever did.  I walked into a room full of  fabulous ladies who have now become friends.  I was welcomed warmly and I have never for a minute felt like I was a stranger.

I learnt loads of new skills including how to crochet, and I was given an opportunity to share my own crafting skills, but more than anything I have learnt about life.  About the town where I live, and about the lives of my ICA friends.

I think a lot of people don’t really know about the ICA.  Ask me out on a Tuesday night and my standard answer will be – sorry, I have ICA.  I get some strange looks and questions about what we actually do. It is a lot more than knitting I can tell you!

Yes, there are craft skills that are shared but there are also other activities such as quiz nights, sporty evenings, charity activities and visiting speakers.  Mostly though ICA is about people.  About making friends and connecting with the lives of others.  All ICA meetings end with a good natter over tea – a truly special time and not to be missed.

In some of my other blog posts I have talked about balance.  ICA balances my life.  It is a commitment to attend on a Tuesday night, and that is important in itself.  It gets you out and gets you motivated to say farewell to the TV and the sofa for a few hours.   Many evenings I have walked home still giggling away at something that has been shared.

Thank you Westport ICA – you are a great bunch of ladies and I am super proud to be a member.

Almost every country has a version of ICA – I would encourage anyone to join – it is the support of fabulous woman who quietly work away doing amazing work.  Think of the now famous ‘Calender Girls’.  The aim of the ICA is to provide a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and live long learning.  It has certainly done exactly that for me.

The photos in this article are of the Federation meeting held here in Westport.  The craft display was an amazing display of work completed by members, and the cake display was a work of art and tasted even more delicious than it looked.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment if you have your own woman’s group stories you would like to share.

Kerry xx

 

Online friends are real friends – especially ITWBN bloggers

 

itwbn

There is some debate online as to whether online friends are real friends.

I am going to come right out and say that these are real friends.  And this, to me is the theme of the Into the West Blogger Network (ITWBN)

Yesterday I attended my second event.  I was greeted with hugs and kisses and genuine compliments from people who I have only really seen on ‘screen’.  I recognised faces and straight away associated the real live people with the beautiful bloggers that I know from reading about them online and swopping comments on Facebook and Twitter.

All bloggers are brave.  We write about ourselves, our thoughts and our lives.  Bravery deserves respect and I know that the bloggers in the network and beyond respect each other.

We are all at different stages of our lives, and I was so humbled to realise how many people were actually reading my blog and knew about my journey.

I blog because I love writing and I feel like I have stories to tell.  I think this is true of so many bloggers.  And many of us pour our hearts out to our online readers, who kindly come back with comments, on the blog or on facebook.

Yesterday was fabulous.  Gorgeous venue at the G Hotel, my very favourite hotel, lots of sparkle and a beautiful welcome.  Food was yummy.  And the glamour of the ladies and gents was top class!  Everyone had made a real effort to celebrate this very important 1st birthday party.  The most fabulous part of the day was the real warmth and obvious friendship around the room, and I know that many people had not met in ‘real life’ before.

In this very special blogger network there is no judgement, only encouragement from a very nice bunch of people.  Being part of the network has given me the kickstart to get my blog going, and to start writing my book.

There is going to have to be a part 2 to this post because I haven’t even started on the motivational speakers, the amazing people I met at the exhibition tables, the goody bags and most of all the most fabulicious Saibh and Sinead.

Tonight I will read a few blogs before bedtime and know that my friendship circle is bigger and richer because of ITWBN.

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

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