Bonfire Night – There is nothing like tradition to raise a smile

Whilst driving back from a meeting earlier today, I detoured via Littlehampton seafront. The autumn sunshine had brought out a wealth of half term visitors to the beachfront area. Children playing, dog walkers exercising their pets, lots of last chance ice creams consumed in the pleasant warmth of the sun’s late glow. What I was after, however, was the chance to see the size of a manmade structure. It is  a few days before the Bonfire Society’s Torchlight Procession, culminating in the throwing of the torches onto the huge bonfire which precedes the wonderful firework display by the beach.

Throughout the week locals arrive with their various car and van loads of items for burning. There are a fabulous team of volunteers who man the bonfire 24 hours a day to ensure that no one sets it off before the big event. Sussex loves its bonfire celebrations. The different societies from both west and east visit each other’s special evening starting in early October.  Most people would be aware of the Lewes parade on 5th November – , but to me an LA resident all my life, there is something magical about our night. Always the last Saturday in October, the town really shines.

I smile to myself when I think of all the past special moments created by this rather bizarre celebration of a failure. The failure to blow up those in power. When else has an abject failure been so well represented every year for hundreds of years?

As a child I used to freak out at the rather macabre costumes worn by society members, the bones and skins made me hide behind anyone available!  The anticipation, the waiting in the throng of people-lined streets, luminous bands, warm drinks and a chill in the air. Nothing sums up the procession like the smell of the burning torches, flames etched against the night sky, with embers flying randomly like sprites.  The noise of the bands, the ‘tinging’ of the instruments was music to my ears. We used to save all our coppers to throw into the collection pots, choosing who should have our bounty very carefully.

A walk following the procession to the beachfront was always breathtaking.  Watching each torch being hurled onto the bonfire was exciting. As the fire took hold, the dancing flames become increasingly mesmerising, so much so that you realised the intensity of the heat meant it was time to move.

The first whizz of a firework made all the thousands of people stop and look up….up into the night sky. I was always apprehensive as a nipper that the fireworks were going to fall on me as they cascaded out into the deep, dark sky. The sounds of ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ sound comical to write, but in reality were just the noises of pure happiness from all around.

For those couple of hours each year, the town comes together. Those who are new, old, young or those visiting. We all share in the enjoyment of failure. We join a collective worship. We smile, we laugh, we are happy.

Those moments are priceless.

Come along –

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

and…. stay SAFE

Find Your Hygge


In a break from creating my Inspiration to Happiness training course, a trawl through the BBC web pages made me stop and grin.

A piece by Justin Parkinson caught my eye.

Hygge – the Danish concept of cosiness, of being kind to yourself during the long winter months.

So, our Nordic cousins are advocates of well-being, treating oneself with compassion. Maybe it is time that us Brits cottoned on to the benefits of seeking our own hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).

As Parkinson stated in his article, to live with limited daylight for a large portion of the year, the Danes decided to find comfort in the ‘small things’, to live in the present and appreciate, rather than worry about what may or may not be. That got me thinking….what was my hygge?

  • Bake off whilst snuggled up on the sofa?
  • Soaking in the bath engrossed in a great book?
  • Bedtime with Colin Murray’s daily podcast?
  • Appreciation of a cracking curry and naan?

The thing is, to find my hygge doesn’t need to cost, indeed the best things often don’t.

When we hunt out the ‘mini moments’ in life and fully tune into that, happiness prevails.

Everyday I come across people who are unhappy, who seemingly NEED to moan about work, home, relationships, litter, rail travel etc. Whatever their case, their disposition is negative. Do they find space for their hygge? What difference would it make to our lives if we could take a leaf out of our northern neighbours’ book and ‘chill’? Brits don’t chill….it is work, work, moan, moan. Sweden however are reducing the working day to six hours to create a healthier and happier workforce. This will never occur over here. We are workhorses.

With the impending doom of the changing of the clocks the evenings begin in the afternoon. The darkness will envelope us on our journey to and from work. We need to make every moment of happiness count.

I challenge you to find a hygge moment everyday. Savour it – stay in the moment, quieten the mind.

‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see.’

Open your eyes – have a hygge!

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY

Daily Dose of Happy


I pondered…do we need a HUGE event to make us happy, or will a daily dose keep us topped up sufficiently?

I returned to a school this week, one I am very well-known at by all the children and staff. I was quite humbled by the reaction of some of the children – those you wouldnt’ve thought would – came up and gave me a hug, all of their own volition. ( No child protection issues were breached in the content of this blog!) Numerous happy faces saying that they were pleased to see me, genuine affection. My heart was warmed. What could be seen as something so trivial from each individual added to something really appreciated by me and pinged my happiness scale.

Watching the children at play and interacting, with their sense of wonderment at the world was brilliant. They have no preconceptions. Each day is one filled with smiles, happiness and laughter. Why aren’t adult lives like that? When did that sense of joy at each new day disappear; the happiness dissipate?

I took my dear departed ex’s mother out for a belated birthday luncheon the next day. It was lovely to spend time chatting and listening to her wisdom. We then visited her husband who is now in a home. My assumption was that this might be quite depressing, having heard numerous stories on the news about care home living. Oh no! What a wonderful, uplifting experience. The place was spacious, clean, allowed him to be more independent in his wheelchair than he had been for the past two years or more in his own home. He was happy, animated and obviously well-liked. I heard nothing but praise for the staff, the cakes, dinners and the amount of daily activities that were put on to keep people’s brain active and entertained.  So much for assumption. I felt a genuine sense of happiness at what I saw.

Despite a horrid cold and hacking cough, how could I avoid the glorious sunshine. It was time to complete some much-needed gardening. WIth partial airways, I delighted in the smell of freshly cut grass, laughed at the pear explosion all over my face as the strimmer hit a hidden gem, enjoyed the ‘squashiness’ of the lawn after daily deluge after deluge of rain.

Nature at its best. Sun on my face, getting sweaty, at one with Mother Earth. Now, that was happiness in abundance.  Little things…

It is the major events in our lives that create the burst of happiness that we think about when we are asked…can you remember a happy occasion.  But.. we don’t have those on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. So we make do with collecting those happiness clubcard points during our daily lives… nothing that punches us with WOW! but just little things that add up… As we were told, “from small seeds, great things grow.”  Or ‘from strimmed pears, a face-wash emerges’.  Collect your seedbank and see what daily doses of happiness befall you this week.

Dream BIG, Sparkle MORE, Shine BRIGHTLY