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Radio silence & other things {if kids drawings were made into toys}

It has been a long winter. A long winter full of many exciting things. Things that have taken us away from BC, but with the first glimpse of what I think is called the sun – we are back.

I recently came across something which inspired me for its appreciation of imagination and individuality. Toys made by Child’s Own. Wendy custom makes soft toys based on children’s drawings, each one as unique as the child who drew it. Here are some of the 400 toys she has made.

Source: via Ria on Pinterest

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Jake - March 27, 2013 - 12:50 am

such a great idea, I love the elephant – inspired!

Mary Wilkins - May 3, 2013 - 3:40 pm

What a brilliant idea!!! :-). Lovely, fantastical creatures and people. Makes one wonder what children see in their heads. The last one must be Rapunzel!


Gazing down through the blue depths. Fragments of golden sargassum seaweed drift past. Before I vanish beneath the waves I wonder about the hidden realm I am soon to visit and the very big, very rare fish I hope to meet.

A while ago I went scuba diving off Florida’s east coast, at the fringes of the Gulf Stream. The diving was deep, the fish life astonishing, and the tiny jellyfish enchanting.

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The Games {response}

Well, that surprised me. I have always enjoyed watching professional sport, but I didn’t expect to be as totally swallowed up by the Olympics as I was. I cheered, I cried, I had to step away from the screen when my heart rate went up too much….and I was completely inspired.

I was in Rome when the affair began. We made time to watch the opening ceremony on our tiny apartment TV. I was intrigued to see what Danny Boyle, the director of one of my all time favourite films, would do…though I didn’t expect much different from the usual fare.

But it was. Whether received with awe or slight confusion, the world on the whole agreed it was an amazing spectacle that entertained and was, undeniably, very British. Sure, it wouldn’t have all made sense to all people from all different cultures, but it was strongly reinforcing and, after all, educational for those who were interested.

There were political statements (just try to mess with the NHS now…) and a true celebration of the variety of creativity this island has borne… aptly displayed in organised chaos. Though it wasn’t chaos, it was perfectly choreographed – small groups going about their tasks perfectly as part of the seething whole, so like this tiny, very full island.

I felt recognised that night – so proud that someone had the confidence to produce something truly British and not bland, or pandering to the non committal. It was eccentric, individual and beautiful. I’m not sure I have ever felt so fiercely patriotic.

And then there was the tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web. A man who had a world changing idea and gave it, royalty free, so it could be easily and quickly adopted by anyone. ‘This is for everyone’ he tweeted in the opening ceremony. This is a man who should be known and recognised, so we can say thank you,  but also to exemplify a unique character we could all nurture.

For two weeks our country became a beautiful place of smiling people, helping each other, welcoming other cultures, behaving well, supporting each other. Believing in the greater good. Then there was Super Saturday, where in the space of 45 minutes, as many a tweet put it ‘a Muslim, a ginger guy and a mixed race lass’ made this country very proud (Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis). One year exactly from the London riots, this was Britain embracing and celebrating  multiculturalism.

And so we go on…these games have championed women – being the very first games where every competing nation have included female athletes. For Britain, the very first medal, and the very first gold medal were both won by women….if we choose to listen, there is a strong reinforcing message here. You can do whatever you strive for.  Keep persevering (Katherine Grainger). Break stereotypes (Nicola Adams). Surpass your own expectations.

The men did pretty well too…unforgettable moments from Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray, Alistair Brownlee, Bradley Wiggins….on and on….

Beyond the incredible medal score, there was a quiet message that I felt was very important: Personal Best. The very best you have ever done. Sometimes, rather than concentrating on comparing our progress to others, I think we could get further by striving for our personal best…whatever our profession.

Will these games inspire a generation? I think they have inspired many generations. The consequences, though, are up to us and what we do with that inspiration: what we do in our own lives, and in the opportunity we create for the younger and the older in our community.

If it taught us anything, it should be that we as individuals and together in teams, are capable of bringing about truly great things.

Celebrate and read about the incredible achievements of Team GB here.

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bicycles bicycles

I’ve just spent three days at a conference in Silicon Valley at the headquarters of Google – they call it the Googleplex. In the grounds were rows of beautiful, colourful bicycles which anyone can hop on and peddle around the campus.

I love the idea of bikes for all. Especially in such great colours (they are of course the Google logo colours).

I also saw one of these beauties by Bella Ciao parked in a hallway inside.

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Travel {the value}

‘The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.’

Samuel Johnson

This week, I have been in the ancient city of Rome. With Jake in Belize, Helen in the Bahamas and thousands of athletes and supporters descending on the Olympics in London, my mind turned to the consequences of travel.

Certainly for me, travelling has always given me new perspective. Taking yourself out of your own environment and submerging instead in a different culture, environment and climate reawakens the senses. It gives a grounding, a change of viewpoint, an understanding.

In this wonderful age, it is so easy to connect with the world from our computers, so we must remember the value of physical travel, and to get out and interact if in the next town, or the next continent.

Last week I also heard of Gunther Holtorf for the first time. This man is probably the most epic traveller of our time. Since 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, Gunther and his wife Christine set out on a trip which they planned to be an 18 month tour of Africa….but Gunther is still going. With the blessing of his late wife, he is adding everyday to the 500,000 miles already travelled, every mile in the same Mercedes Benz G Wagon called ‘Otto’. Recently David Lemke (a canadian photographer) joined Gunther in Vietnam and there is a short video describing Gunther’s epic travels on the BBC news magazine site or if you are travelling and on a mobile device, find it on YouTube here.

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