Groundhog Day

Do you have a favourite film? 

Or maybe you have a few movies that would be in your Top Ten? If you were making a list.

Are you an action movie fan, or a sci fi fanatic, or perhaps like me you prefer RomComs, a little light  romance and comedy? 

I have to admit, there are some movies that I can watch over and over and over and over and over... and not get bored. And one of those is linked to today.

February 2nd in North America - the USA and Canada - is Groundhog Day and I love the Bill Murray movie of the same name. More of that in a moment.

GroundhogBut first ... what IS a 'groundhog'

Well, it's a kind of rodent, and apparently belongs to the marmot or ground squirrel family. It's found in the USA, Canada and into Alaska. Among other characteristics, they have big teeth and they live in burrows. When fully grown a groundhog can be as long as 27inches (about 69cm) and can weigh as much as 14pounds (over 6kg). I've been doing my research and all I can say is, that groundhog is not a small squirrel!

One of the important things to know about the groundhog is that are hibernators. They often dig a separate 'winter burrow', which they build below the frost line, which means even when it's frozen up top, the animals can safely sleep away the winter months without fear of freezing to death. Usually, groundhogs hibernate from October to March or April, or thereabouts. 

And that's relevant to the tradition of Groundhog Day (the actual day) which apparently is an old superstition from the Pennsylvania Dutch community in America, which says that if a groundhog emerges early from it's burrow - on February 2 - then it can tell us if Spring is on its way.

So the legend goes, if the groundhog sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will quickly nip back into its burrow, and winter will go on for six more weeks. If, however, the animal does NOT see its shadow because it's too cloudy, Spring will arrive early!

All this predicting the weather is part of ancient 'weather lore' which is found in lots of cultures, including German speaking areas (and the Pennsylvania Dutch people come from Germanic-speaking areas of Europe) where the animal predicting the weather is usually a badger, but sometimes a bear or a fox.

And these weather lore predictions are also linked to the Christian festival of Candlemas, which we also celebrate today. Tradition has it that if the weather is clear on Candlemas, we're in for a long winter!

Now of course there's no scientific evidence for such weather predictions, but it's fun isn't it? 

In North America, February 2nd has taken on a special significance. Groundhog Day ceremonies happen on this day across the USA and Canada, but it's in a place called Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, that the most popular ceremony occurs, where the focus is a groundhog called 'Punxsutawney Phil'.

And that's the link to the 1993 movie that I mentioned at the start.

'Groundhog Day' starring Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell is largely located in Punxsutawney around the iconic ceremony and the film has not only helped to immortalise the seasonal celebration, but the concept of it has also added a new phrase to our dictionary.

If you haven't ever seen the movie then sorry for the spoiler. Bill Murray plays a cynical (and rather obnoxious) TV weatherman called Phil who is sent to cover the Groundhog Day ceremony, and then finds himself in a time loop through which he is forced to re-live February 2nd ... Groundhog Day ... over and over and over, until he becomes a better person. He learns to live each moment at a time, rather than always chasing ambition and celebrity.

As a result of the movie which was conceived, co-written and directed by Harold Ramis,  we now use the phrase 'Groundhog Day' for any situation which is monotonous, repetitive and even unpleasant and boring.

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, lots of us feel like we've been living Groundhog Day - don't we?

Working from home, staying in and not being able to go out and mingle with others, not being able to see family members - much of our time during 2020 and into 2021 has felt so repetitive and monotonous. I think 'Groundhog Day' is a great way of describing my pandemic experience.

But just as Weatherman Phil in the movie came out of his Groundhog Day a better person, so I believe we can emerge from the COVID19 experience improved and finer examples of humanity.

Early on in the pandemic, especially, we saw so many acts of kindness and caring. The Thursday 8pm 'Clap for Carers' which some are still doing as they Clap for their Heroes. People checking on their neighbours, delivering food and medicines, thinking of others. 

And although Covid fatigue might have stolen a little of that from us as the months have progressed, I believe this time has shown us what a kinder and more compassionate world can look like. 

I'd like to believe that a memory of that kindness might be part of the legacy of our Pandemic Groundhog Day, along with the realisation that life is short and that, no matter how much status and money and position and ambition we chase, perhaps we just need to take more time to breathe, to enjoy our environment and the beauty of the world around us, to appreciate our loved ones more, and maybe even take pleasure in the simple things - like a walk on a Spring morning - no matter when that might be.



That February Feeling

It's that time of year when life can be a little overwhelming. At least that's my experience.

January is over but Spring is not yet with us. We are still often being battered by the winter weather, wet and windy, cold and dull. Life can feel a bit dark in the first couple of weeks of February. Winter can seem never-ending.

Of course, we know it WILL  come to an end ... after all, this is not Narnia during the reign of the White Witch when it was, in the words of their creator C.S.Lewis“Always winter but never Christmas.”

But sometimes it does feel endless.

Although here in Jersey in the Channel Islands we've had the occasional bright winter's day in recent weeks, January was the wettest on record, with only a couple of days of the month rain-free, and right now we're in another dull and cold snap. 

Add to that the fact that we've had nearly a year of pandemic restrictions, working from home and not much getting out, well it's very easy to start to feel sorry for oneself.

But on a day like today I need to remind myself that, even though life is getting me down, actually I have so much to be thankful for.

So many people during this coronavirus pandemic have lost their lives, or loved ones. Many have lost their jobs and life is very insecure. Although the past year for me has not been a bed of roses, I have certainly not had a terribly negative experience. I'm sure I'll talk more about this again from time to time.

But I do need to keep on top of the tendency towards negativity.

A few years back, I realised that sometimes we forget to be grateful for the things we have in our lives. We chase dreams and perhaps things out of reach, rather than just being satisfied with and thankful for what we have - right now!

It was then I created a Facebook page called 'Don't Forget to Say Thanks' . It's not the most followed page in the world but every now and then, when I need to remind myself of the need to feel gratitude, I post a little thought. It's a work in progress. Aren't we all?

So, today, when I am feeling a little worse for wear and mournful of the season, I turn to that inspiration ... and share one encouraging thought with you!

Thanks Feb 9


Thankful for Spring

Early April can be a funny old time of year.

First it's a bit warm, then we're plunged into winter conditions again. Light breezes give way to gales. One day the sun is bright, the next the sky is laden with clouds and those 'spring showers' feel a bit more like winter downpours.

It's like the weather can't make up it's mind what to do.

The daffodils and primroses are around and then disappear. The trees have buds but are not yet green. 

It's like nature is about to surprise us, but we just need to wait a little while longer.

But yet in the midst of all the confusion, there's hope on the horizon.

Spring IS a lovely, optimistic season and I for one, am ready for spring this year and hopeful for a new beginning ... 

Thankful for spring


Celebrating Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

Every year since 1970 this has been annual event designed for us all to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It's grown over the decades and lots of important environmental events have happened on Earth Day.

This year on Earth Day, today, there will be a Global Climate Summit, convened by the US President Joe Biden and held virtually I'm guessing because of coronavirus. Among other things it is designed to be a 'critical stepping stone for the U.S. to re-join the world in combating the climate crisis', having agreed to re-sign the Paris Agreement.  It's just one of the events being planned today and just one example of how Earth Day continues to be a momentous and unifying day every year.  These days it's reckoned that 1 billion people in more than 193 countries will mark Earth Day in some way.

And so to MY contribution.

A couple of years ago, I recorded a series for BBC Radio Jersey with the Jersey artist and iconographer Karen Blampied.

She has created something called The Earthday Icon ... inspired by the ancient nature embedded in the Eastern Orthodox Church Calendar, which each September celebrates Creation and which has a three year cycle, ending every year with the feast of St Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals. During this liturgical time of Creation, each Sunday is dedicated to a specific aspect of creation and the Earthday icons depicts forests, land, wilderness, rivers, skies, mountains, the universe, animals, storms, oceans and more, all with spiritual significance.

Karen's inspiration is to 'highlight the need of all people to be stewards of the Earth' and this really inspires ME.

I loved working with Karen on this series and the audio we produced is still on the BBC Radio Jersey website.

So today, to mark Earth Day, I'm including the links to the programme features.

You will have to click on each link to listen ... hope you don't mind doing that. But it's really interesting!

Enjoy! And be inspired and blessed!

Earthday icon KBlampiedEarthday Icon #1 - Ocean - Karen chats to me about the role of the sea in the Creation story

Earthday Icon #2 - Flora & Fauna - Karen in conversation with me about her icon

Earthday Icon #3 Storm - Karen chats to me about depicting weather & climate in her icon

Earthday Icon #4 Cosmos - Karen talks to me about depicting God and the heavens in her icon

Earthday Icon #5 Blessing of the Animals - Discovering Karen's inspiration for the animals in her icon


*Earthday icon image copyright - Karen Blampied

Brighter Colours

It's the start of a new month.

Can you believe it?

For us here in the northern hemisphere, we're moving into the summer season and here in Jersey in the Channel Islands the weather is warming up.

I'm one of those people who loves the warm weather. It might come from my spending a lot of my childhood and teenage years living in Africa, but I just think it's because ... well I love the warm weather!

I love the feel of the sun on my skin, I love swimming in the sea and summer IS the best time for that. I love that I feel lighter in my head and my heart when there's less darkness and the days are longer.

The colours seem brighter - the new leaves on the trees are greener, the colours of the flowers in parks, gardens and in the hedgerows appear more vibrant, the sky bluer! It's at this time that I feel especially blessed to live in a lovely island like Jersey.

So today, as we enter the month of May, I'm just going to share a photograph I took a week ago, in the Parade Gardens in St Helier, just a short walk from where I live.

Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

Spring flowers 1



Dance in the Rain!

The summer in Jersey so far has been a bit disappointing, to say the least.

We had some days of warmth and sunshine, but the past few weeks have, to be honest, been very 'un-summerlike'.

For someone who loves long weeks of beach, and swimming, and warm nights and enjoying the feel of the sun on her skin, this summer hasn't really come good.

Not yet, anyway.

Glass half full - it's still only early July and we could still enjoy weeks and months of lovely weather well into the autumn, if we're fortunate.

We can hope, anyway.

When I saw this quote on a big wooden canvas in a local charity shop recently (yes, I did take a picture of it - it was too large to bring home) it reminded me, however, that if I wait for the 'perfect conditions' in life, I risk missing out on so much!

If I wait for the sunshine to come out, so to speak, I might not experience wonderful things while the rain is falling.

And, of course, I'm not just talking about the weather.

So - metaphorically and literally speaking - maybe I need to start dancing in the rain!


Dance in the rain


Pull the Trigger

Are you ambitious?

Or do you have dreams?

Maybe you want success in life? A fantastic job? Recognition and riches? Fame and fortune? Material possessions?

Or are your aims bigger than that?

Maybe you dream of world peace, a more just world, a cleaner environment? Perhaps you are after courage, strength, peace, security, love ... for yourself as well as others? 

There's a saying ... I think it's a line in a great movie ... 'The Sound of Music' ...

'Where the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window'

When I was a kid my Dad used to say sometimes 'God will open a door but it's up to us to keep it open' ... if a door opens perhaps we need to shove our foot in the gap and ensure it doesn't close on us before we have chance to see what's on the other side of the threshold!

Well I'm thinking along those lines today.

Many of us have things we aspire to be and do,  but the question is, do we think that it's just going to land at our feet?

Do we believe that if we dream or even pray hard enough, then what we want to do or be will just happen? A bit like magic?

There's nothing wrong with dreams but perhaps life is more than that.

As this picture today reminds us, lots of us have 'aims' in life, but some of us will never reach them because we don't do anything about it. We wait for life to happen for us rather than doing what we need to do to get the ball rolling.

Even if doors do open for us unexpectedly, we can't assume that that will lead us to our wishes, dreams and wants. But invariably we may be facing closed doors and it's up to us to get a key and unlock it.

If we want to get a great job, and even obtain that success, we may need to get our head down and study for our careers! We might need to start a bit lower down the ranks  and work our way up. It might be a bit tiresome and not glamourous and we might get impatient, but if we're not in the mix for any promotion, then how can it happen for us? If we want to run our own company then we will have to work hard for that!

Yes I know what some of you are thinking, life DOES land in some people's laps, or appears to do so, but it's very rare. If you look at many of the true stars who were an 'overnight success' you'll usually find years of graft in their past which got them to where they ended up.

If we want to become an author or writer, we have to write!  Unless you're one of those celebrities who populate our media world and are really just famous for being famous, it's unlikely that a publisher will pop up with a book deal. 

If we fancy living in a different place then maybe we need to investigate whether that's possible.

If we wish to see a more just world  then maybe it can start with us being a person who lives justice and fairness in our relationships ... avoiding conflict, treating others with respect no matter their circumstances.

If we dream of a world where the environment - flora and fauna - is not pushed to extinction, or where climate change is no longer an issue for future generations, then perhaps it could begin with our own behaviour. We can all rant on about waste but are we recycling ? We can all get angry about climate change but are we aware of our impact on the world, in our own travel habits, the cars we drive, the food miles attached to the products we buy in the shops?

You know what I'm talking about?

SO today - whether you are aiming for something personal or something more global ... there's no point just sitting around waiting for it to happen.

So if you haven't done it before ... maybe it's time to Pull the Trigger!


Target in Life

Welcome September

It's September! The start of a new month!

Time is flying by ... the summer is almost done and autumn is on the horizon.

I'm still hoping and praying for a few more weeks of good weather but then we know the chilly nights and frosts will reappear, and that can  be a bit depressing. especially if, like me, you prefer the warmer days of the year.

But we know that autumn - or Fall - also brings the harvest and beautiful colours, like nature is having a last glorious celebration before the dark and colder days of winter.

I think the dawn of every new month is always exciting. It's a new chapter, a new page in our book of life! New opportunities! And the first of any month is a reminder that time passes quickly, and we need to grasp life, enjoy it and make the most of each moment that is given to us.

So here's a thought to inspire us, to make us smile and encourage us to make the most of this new month!

Have a great day everyone!

And have a FABULOUS September


First day of September


Crazy Horses

Climate change, greenhouse gases, rising sea levels, carbon footprints, global warming ...

You know what I'm talking about right?

It's the impact that us humans are having, have had and will have on our planet and how that will affect the future of life on earth and the lives of future generations.

Right now there's a major event going on in Glasgow in Scotland which focuses on climate change and what might be done to halt it or reverse the damage already done - it's called COP26! Full name - the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It started on October 31st and runs through until November 12th.

World leaders were there for just a few days, there were were some big announcements including one about efforts and pledges to reverse deforestation - a major factor in climate change -  but the conversations are not over with the departure of the likes of the President of the USA and others who pitched up, ironically, in their big motorcades and having flown to Scotland from all over the globe. Ironically, because fuel emissions are contributors to climate change and negative 'carbon footprints' include long distance travel.

But, that aside, this annual event is an opportunity for a focus on how we are affecting our world and that has to be a good thing.

Now if you think this is a 'one off' - it's not.  COP has taken place every year since 1995 and this is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. Oh except this one was delayed for a year because of the COVID19 pandemic.

COP stands for ‘Conference of Parties’ which refers to the 197 member nations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).The first event was in Berlin in 1995 and this year it's being hosted by the United Kingdom,  in partnership with Italy, where several events – such as Youth4Climate and PreCOP26  events – were held in Milan in early October.

In 2015 the event was held near Paris in France and that's when The Paris Agreement (Accord de Paris), which is also often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, was signed by 196 parties. It's an international treaty on climate change and one that has had lots of focus in recent years.

Lots of commitments were made - click on the links if you want to read more about it - but still the world is waiting for people to catch up and fulfil promises made and to reach targets. 

We hear and read so much about this but actually for as long as I can remember there have been concerns about how we are affecting our planet. Back in the 1980s I remember the call to ban CFCs which were causing a 'hole in the ozone' ... ozone-depleting chemicals which were proven to be causing a  dangerous rise in the level of ultraviolet radiation (UV) reaching the Earth’s surface which has all sorts of consequences for human health and life on earth generally.

It was terrifying! These elements were said to be in loads of stuff we used at the time including, I remember, household standards like ovens, washing machines and refrigerators and in 1987 a worldwide ban was implemented.

Phew! Problem averted!

Ah ... no ... that was just one issue, and it took years of campaigning to get something done. And the problems are not just still with us, the focus is ever changing and it appears things are getting worse!

Every day now we hear, watch and read news of the global 'climate crisis' and the 'disaster' awaiting humankind and the 'catastrophes' just around the corner if we don't act NOW. I really don't like the hyperbole that is used especially by the world's media when reporting stories and issues like this because actually I think for many media listeners and viewers and consumers, they are so used to these apocalyptic phrases that they just don't hear them anymore! They are fed up of the negative reporting and just either don't engage or are now untouched by the words they hear, or numbed to the point of disinterest. I think we have to find a better way of informing the public without trying to 'shock' and 'scare' ... I don't think that will result in people taking the issues and challenges on board, rather people will just get bored of hearing it all and switch off. I think some are already doing that. Or have switched off already.

But back to the warnings ... I'm actually going to wind the clock back to my early teen years. Then I was (and still am actually, I have no shame in saying that) a big fan of The Osmonds - one of the original American 'boy bands' who were all members of the same large family and were global mega superstars in the 1970s. I, along with millions of other young girls, was madly in love with Donny, although the other boys weren't bad either!

Although a lot of their music at the time was pop and ballads designed for the teen (female) fans they did also produce some fantastic rock songs and music. And one of those was actually a song warning about the affects of climate change. Way before many of the Eco Warriors of today were around!

Crazy Horses album coverIt's called 'Crazy Horses' and I think it's one of their best actually! I love it!

Jay Osmond, the drummer in the band, sang lead vocals on the track from the album of the same name - I think I wore my copy out! Brother Merrill, who originally headed vocals in the band - sings second lead here.

This is what Jay said about the song ... "Crazy Horses was way ahead of its time. It's a song about ecology and the environment: those 'crazy horses, smoking up the sky' are gas-guzzling cars, destroying the planet with their fumes. We shot the record sleeve in a junkyard, surrounded by big old cars."

"Crazy Horses" reached number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 in the UK Singles Chart in 1972 and the song has since been covered by numerous other performers.

Click on the YouTube link below if you want to hear the song and see the boys in action. It's from the release date in 1972 so, yes, it's a little bit dated ... but still fantastic! I still get goose bumps seeing The Osmonds in action!

But before that ... maybe take a few moments to read the words from the song ... nearly 50 years old now but still as relevant today, if not more so.  As I said, the climate change warnings have been around for many many many years ... yet we are still anguishing over it.

We're still debating while the world is waiting! 

Crazy Horses That's My Girl single coverThere's a message floatin' in the air
Come from crazy horses riding everywhere
It's a warning it's in every tongue
Got to stop them crazy horses on the run
What a show there they go smokin' up the sky yeah
Crazy horses all got riders and they're you and I

Crazy Horses
Crazy Horses
Crazy Horses
Crazy Horses

Never stop and they never die
They just keep on puffin' how the multiply
Crazy horses will they never halt
If they keep on movin' then it's all our fault
What a show...

So take a good look around
See what they've done
What they've done...
Crazy Horses...