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Sharon Bill Author & Music Tutor

Biddulph Grange Stumpery: Where Art and Nature Meet

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Biddulph Grange Stumpery is my favourite “go-to” for a lunch time walk to blow the cobwebs away. It goes without saying that all of the gardens are exquisitely beautiful but the Stumpery conjures all sorts of literary associations in my mind. Read More…

Saturday Culture Spot

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I've been re-watching the Morse TV series on DVD and yesterday I felt like I was part of one - thankfully the only accompaniment was the pipe organ and the 18th Century Concert Orchestra, not a dastardly murder! Read More…

Batter the Clock!

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In the Midlands “Fritter” means a large slice of potato deep-fried in batter and is surprisingly tasty. However, the word has another universal meaning which is even worse news for our health. Read More…

Will You? It's a battle of the mind!

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The battle of the mind is the greatest battle we all face. In this article I suspect I'm preaching to myself! The original article had the title "Will You?" but I think I should rename it "Will I?" to keep things in perspective! Read More…

I Want to Tell You a Story

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As an avid Amazon Audible subscriber I'm a great fan of the audio book. But is this cheating?
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Make Do and Mend

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Make do and mend, rationing of supplies, ‘cutting one’s cloth’ - none of these fall into our vocabulary much these days. However, if I’m honest I wish they were. If truth be told I wish I lived in a world where we still needed to patch our knickers. Read More…

Priceless or Worthless?

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Christmas shopping can be a depressing business, especially when everybody already has what they want or need. I hate just buying a perfunctory gift - it feels like throwing your money to the wind. I’ve taken to making gifts more and more and I’ve always understood that these gestures have been enjoyed and appreciated. I certainly love to receive handmade gifts but I’ve recently had a crisis of confidence as I’ve discovered that not everybody thinks this way. Read More…

Mid-Life Crisis

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The day of my youngest's 21st birthday seems like a good time to start a mid-life crisis. Menopausal hormones aren't a necessary requirement I find - just the passing of time. Read More…

True Grit

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The Open University Graduation ceremony was the starting point on my thoughts for a local village magazine. Read More…

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

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'The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery' David McGillivray, played by Audley Theatre was the funniest play I've ever seen! As a member of the Women's Institute and also being involved behind the scenes in amateur dramatics I could appreciate this play on many levels - it was a little too close for comfort! I laughed like a drain all night long. Read More…

Christmas Baking

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The traditions of Christmas, baking Christmas cake, mince pies, buying presents and decorating the home are things that don't particularly move me. In reality, I think it's something that I do enjoy when the mood strikes but I balk at the pressure to conform, particularly when time and budget aren't conducive. The expectation to do certain things and failure to comply resulting in disapproval (real or imagined - there's little different in these matters I find) is what causes me a problem. However, once I've shaken off the shackles (which take some shaking, believe me) I find that I'm actually in the mood to indulge a little. I've never made a Christmas cake before and my mince pies have always left quite a bit to desire. However, now that I'm a member of the Women's Institute, help is at hand and already I'm thrilled with the results.
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Shop Local

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The benefits of shopping with local retailers are many and varied but, for me, the most overwhelming argument is that of maintaining a sense of community. Although I heartily dislike shopping of any sort, particularly food shopping, I quite enjoy our weekly trip to our local market. I inevitably buy more than I intend as I get waylaid from the veg and cheese stalls to the wool stall, but I'm always surprised by still managing to remain within budget - usually. The budget of time is another matter, we always spend longer either chatting or sitting drinking market coffee (Mmmmm) and a sticky bun! Read More…

The Joy of the Written Word

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Calligraphy, penmanship, writing and scribble in general, I just love every aspect of the written word. Read More…

The V&A Museum

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Within the Victoria and Albert Museum (The V&A) is my favourite place on earth. I find William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, arts and crafts from the Medieval and Renaissance, tapestry and metal work - all that my heart can desire. I find that it both depresses me and makes me regret my laziness and the mediocrity that often surrounds us, but then it inspires me to do better and to raise my head from the mire and to try again. I always come away uplifted and encouraged. Read More…

Slay a Few Demons!

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ABRSM piano scales make for effective therapy. Now, I’m not suggesting that I’m ever in a bad mood… but, hypothetically speaking if I was, it’s better to take it out on the piano. There’s nothing quite like bashing up and down four octaves of the keyboard to vent your spleen and ABRSM of the old school provided plenty of material to go at.
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Happy Mother's Day - I Think ...

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Happy Mother's Day! I think … It's easy to get swept along with the tide of advertising but I do sometimes just stop and wonder. Whilst any day, and every day is a good time to show your mum that you love her, is the concept of Mother's Day always such a good idea? Read More…

True Grit - Little House on the Prarie

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The American Pioneering spirit has fascinated me for a long time and I've recently become deeply interested in researching more about the details of the lives of these courageous people. I'm particularly interested in the domestic details. If I ever think I'm working hard and have to grind in the domestics each day I only have to compare my lot with theirs.
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A Journey of Self Discovery

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Ventolin and Salbutamol are words that I'm accustomed to as an asthmatic - albeit a mild case. However participating in a medical research programme taught me more than I could have imagined. Know thyself, as the wise man says!
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Keep Smiling (but not too widely)

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New Year's Resolutions are usually my thing and so it mortifies me to have to swallow my pride and join the throng in the gym membership fervour. Determination not to be counted as one of the keen beginners, only to drop out in a few weeks, is just one of the factors that are keeping me motivated to keep working…

I don't mind being middle aged, but I do mind the thought of being too overweight as well. I'm also noticing that my asthma isn't so good which is linked to weight and fitness. If I don't sort it now then it's only going to get more difficult. I'm naturally a sedentary person: I sit down to teach piano, I sit down to write and I relax by sitting down and reading. I'm gradually building up my stamina and don't need to take breaks between increasing numbers of lengths.Typical for a musician though - I keep losing count of my lengths. During this particular swim there was an extra motivation keeping me moving. I'd mistimed my session and needed to swim in a cordoned off area during an OAP aqua-fitness class. Although it made the water a bit choppy it would have been OK, however, we had to evacuate the pool because some poor soul had lost their teeth in the pool. The worst part was the fact that nobody could find them. That kept me swimming - I didn't dare put my feet down!

It transpires that the dentures dilemma isn't restricted to the swimming pool. I heard of a conductor who spat his teeth out in a particularly frenzied movement. Unabashed he simply bent down and reinserted them without losing a beat.
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School Boy Errors

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Like the first day at High School I'm aware that, as a 'newby' in the gym there may be some classic mistakes that highlight me as the new kid on the block. Read More…

Oh, Shut Your Mouth!

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Pets routines usually get disrupted during the holiday season - the hens were no exception. Eewe, they needed a good clean out!
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Happy New Year

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I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions per se, but I do like the opportunity for re-focusing that a new year brings. I've got ahead of the game and started to get organised on Christmas Day! Read More…

Triumph!

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Triumph Motorcycles and Guinness World Record - what more could you wish to hear in a single sentence?
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It's Good to Talk

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Communication is an important part of family life, but as children grow into adults and work schedules become more and more fragmented it’s easier said than done (if you’ll pardon the pun). I’m realising that notes and messages on scraps of paper are becoming of vital importance in our home.
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Food For Thought

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International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day culminated with a potted history of the WI - and it makes for a very interesting read. I was moved to discover the true depths of what bought these ladies together. The depth and substance of the story made me quite emotional and I do wonder if it might not be time for us to roll up our sleeves again? Although I'm very wary of jumping on the band wagon in politics, as it's so easy to make biased assumptions on too little information, I do approve of the WIs role in food management. We waste too much food today, simply because we have lost the art of 'waste not want not' and the art of food preparation. We have HDTV and mobile everything and yet we have food banks (not wishing to open a can of worms). The WI recently supported a resolution to reduce food waste, and it begins in your own kitchen... ‘ Read More…

Just Two Extra Wheels/Pudding - a Sticky Situation

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Moving from two wheels to four is quite a 'rite of passage' so a recent trip to take our daughter to buy her first car necessarily involved a celebratory meal out.
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An Inspector Calls - Review

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An Inspector Calls was bound to restore my faith in theatre mystery/drama after my recent disappointment - how could it fail? Read More…

Executive Away Day

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Team Building and project management formed our business away day - alternatively me and David went for a jolly trip to Llandudno to have a chat about family life and work. Read More…

Our Usual Road - (at an unusual time)

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A romantic ride out over the National Peak District to Buxton seemed the perfect way to make the most of the dry weather - while it lasts. The fact that it was night time and the temperature was getting chilly didn’t cross our mind... at first...
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Time Hangs Heavy

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I have intermittent periods of sleeplessness. Insomnia is an unpredictable animal - what do you do with those hours… ? Read More…

Night Riders


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Duty calls: Being obliged to scrub in a new front tyre we had to sacrifice our evening and go for a night time ride. It's a tough life, but somebody's got to do it! Read More…

Productive Insomnia

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Insomnia has its benefits - particularly where eBay is concerned it seems!
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In the dog house!

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I fell in love with this roll end of wallpaper found stashed in the airing cupboard when my parents moved into their new house. I've been determined to make use of it somehow but it's not really the sort that is appropriate for many places in our home - and there was only a tiny bit left. It's taken me twelve months to find it the perfect position - in the dog house!
I love it so much! Read More…

Sherlock Holmes and The Ripper Murders - Review

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I love Buxton and I love Buxton Opera House. A group of ten of us heading off to the theatre meant that we were geared and ready for a good night out (although it was a little disappointing that we didn’t quite fill a whole row!) I also love mysteries and I particularly love Victorian mysteries, so the stage was all set to be captivated - if you’ll pardon the pun... Read More…

Gingerbread House

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Bricklaying, pointing and gardening definitely need more practise. My first Youtube video shows me decorating a Gingerbread house.
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WI Trip to Rudyard Lake

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What else would induce you to spend a cold and rainy evening on the water at Rudyard Lake? A Women's Institute summer trip out! Read More…

Oh, Just Get Lost!

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Make hay while the sun shines. One of the joys of being self employed is that now and again you can just get lost! We needed to go to the Post Office and by some strange twist of fate got very lost on the return journey… accidentally… on purpose… Read More…

Keeping it in the Family

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Mossley Women's Institute, part of the Cheshire Federation, now boasts three generations from the same family. My daughter has just joined and may well be the youngest member of the WI. Read More…

Triumph for Triumph?

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It was such a thrill to be part of the attempt to create a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of Triumph motorbikes in a single parade. On a Bonneville and a Speed Triple we joined the throng organised by Staffordshire Triumph.
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Birthday Bash!

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Birthday Parties often turn out best when they're impromptu. Often I'll throw a big garden party, which is great fun but lots of hard work. This year I decided not to bother and it turned out to be really lovely.
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Jack of All Trades ...

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Jack of all trades, master of none: Trips to various National Trust stately homes really makes me question our 21st Century ideal that we can have it all (or DO it all!) Read More…

Productive Insomnia

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When is a bedroom not a bedroom? When it houses a Korg portable digital piano. Read More…

It's the Simple Things in Life

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An unusually happy trip to see my GP ended with a down to earth cup of milky coffee from my local market - who needs expensive lattes or cappuccinos? Read More…

UFOs - UnFinishedObjects

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I've discovered that I'm not one of nature's knitters! I think I've had to knit every square about three times because of little mistakes and my inability to unpick strategically. I'd resolved not to begin anything new until all my unfinished craft projects were completed - and so I've finally finished it!
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On the road again - Introducing our bike's names

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More sunshine meant that a Triumph Bonneville, a Triumph Speed Triple and a Suzuki SV650 needed a trip out again. A favourite run of ours is to Buxton through the Peak District National Park. Read More…

Happy Present from Hubby

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My husband bought me a surprise. It's a grab rail for our Triumph Bonneville, but I call it a Butt Bar - because my 'butt' butts up against it! Read More…

Women's institute

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I thoroughly enjoyed the Women’s Institute meeting last night. The speaker was a Toastmaster who researched my name meaning and origins. He also had a wealth of funny anecdotes and bizarre wedding stories. I could empathise - as a wedding organist I’ve seen a few strange things! Read More…

Careers' Portfolio

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Years ago I read an article which discussed the concept of a 'Careers' Portfolio'. It stated that more and more people were turning their backs on a single, all consuming career in favour of one, two or even three self employed occupations. Read More…

Family Day Out

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I thoroughly enjoyed a family day out to the Rhug Estate, Corwen, Denbighshire on a Triumph Bonneville, a Triumph Speed Triple and Suzuki SV650. We hoped that a bison burger would have rewarded a few hours 'in the saddle' but they'd run out - despite a field of Bison nearby. We'll have to go again sometime soon… Read More…

A Night at the Opera

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Madama Butterfly at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent is possibly the most enjoyable opera that I've been to! Perhaps it was down to the good company that I had too. Read More…

Back on the road!

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Woohoo! The sun is shining and I'm back out on the bike with hubby! Read More…

Oily Biker Bichon

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This little puppy managed to get oil all over his lovely white fur, Read More…