One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple*

Barbara Trevitt, who works as a library aide in the Walton library, but is also, we have just discovered, a dedicated writer in her spare time. Barbara writes under the name of Beatrice Charles and has kindly shared her blog with us here.

Barbara has just returned from a writing conference, and there are some beautiful pictures of her travels and notes on her reflections and thoughts. Barbara – you make me feel very lazy!

*Jack Kerouac

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…. (and back to school)

As the days grow shorter, for many of us, that means the children head back to school, or even to University. If you have children who are transitioning not just between years, but between schools (or Uni), it can be a difficult and anxious time for both you and your little angels.

NU Parents supports all staff (and post graduates) who have children. We have been running a series of informal (virtual) coffee mornings and even a podcast to just mull over some of the areas which might be causing worry.

We have tackled nursery>primary, primary>secondary and secondary>tertiary, all captured on our blog – here.

As my middle child heads to University in the next couple of weeks, I found the secondary to tertiary session particularly useful. We have had some guests from Durham University’s similar network too, and we have tried to draw together some ‘top tips.’ You may just find something which helps!

We’re all going on a Summer holiday…..

Well, some sort of holiday at least. We all need downtime to recharge and kick back. It may not be around a lovely blue sea or a gorgeous villa, but it is still time away from the ordinary to let our minds focus on things other than work.

With this in mind, we would really love to see what you have been up to over the summer months, be it walking, sitting in the garden, meeting up with people you haven’t been able to see for a while, or just firing up the old Netflix. It really doesn’t matter.

To kick things off, here are some gorgeous Victorian toilets (yes, that’s right) which I saw on my few days in the Isle of Bute, just off the west coast of Scotland. Amazingly, when they were built, there were no female loos, as ladies just shouldn’t be seen attending to a call of nature in public. Thankfully, there are some now!

You can imagine the delight of my 18 year old son being taken round some Victorian toilets as the highlight of his holiday. That might be our last holiday with any of our children.

The Isle of Bute was also the home of the tragic child star Lena Zavaroni – and there are 3 cafes on the island which still bear her name.

Kim’s Challenge – ‘Samarathon’

A couple of weeks ago we highlighted the ‘Samarathon’ challenge taking place throughout July. There are more details here – I’m guessing it isn’t too late to sign-up!

However, our lovely Kim Clouston from Customer Services, has already signed up and is on her way to 26.5 miles over the course of July – all in aid of the Samaritans.

Here is Kim telling us a bit more about how things are going:

“Well, I have done it, I have signed up for 26.5 miles during the month of July raising money for the Samaritans. If like me you were all enthusiastic at the beginning of the lockdowns, (way back in early 2020) and flung yourself around with Joe Wicks and then slowly but surely the enthusiasm waned………you might understand my need to kickstart back into a routine of exercise, (let’s hope I don’t leave it to the last week). I would love the company if you were thinking of signing up as well; exercise buddies are very helpful!!

If you aren’t feeling like it just yet no problem. If you fancy helping the Samaritans, (and making me feel guilty if I don’t get out of bed and into my running gear).

Link here.

Kim Clouston, CS.

Taking Stock – Learning from Covid – Cross-Sectional Recording

If you were unable to attend the recent Cross-sectional from Jill and Ian, we now have a recording available below.

Duration: 54 minutes 44 seconds

There will be a final Cross-Sectional in July which will have updates from some of the library teams – Walton, Special Collections, Education Outreach and Liaison about what they have been focusing on over the last (er, I think it is law somewhere to preface that with ‘difficult’). It will be lovely to hear what colleagues have been up to – something we have missed.

These sessions will take place on 8th & 13th of July and invites will be going out soon.

There will be opportunity for more sections to reveal their secrets in the new academic year.

The Great Outdoors – still going!

We would (still) love to see pictures of you and yours getting out and snatching some of this gorgeous weather – send them in!

This week, some lovely flora and fauna from Sara Bellwood. If you haven’t met Sara yet, she started as our new Operations Assistant at the very start of June. It is lovely to have Sara on board, and hopefully she will get to meet some of us in person soon.


Throughout July we are being encouraged to walk, run, or jog for 26.2 miles and raise money for the Samaritans.

This sounds like a lovely way to move a bit more (at your own pace) and raise money for a good cause. You can take your time building up your miles at entirely your own pace.

Getting outside and increasing physical activity is well proven to help with our sense of wellbeing.

You can find out more here and sign-up for the challenge.

With many thanks to Kim Clouston for flagging this event.

The Great Outdoors

Following on from last week’s post about getting outside in an effort to boost wellbeing, and just taking a break….more lovely outdoor pics from Lorna Smith in the liaison team.

Finally, here is Jackie undertaking what she describes as ‘ Forest Bathing’. This is a new one on me, but I have been known to hug trees, is it the same thing? Either way, looks calming.

Jackie getting up close and personal with a tree!

We would love to see you getting out and about, or just some images of what might be giving you comfort and some kind of succour. You can send them to me (Paula) via e-mail.

Mental Health Awareness Week 10th – 16th May

This week is ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ and even as things begin to look a little bit brighter, this last 18 months has certainly been a test for us all.

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, the University has posted a reminder of the resources available to all colleagues to who need mental health support and general wellbeing support – and news of a new Colleague Health & Wellbeing Team.

The theme this year is ‘Nature’ and there are some good resources here at the Mental Health Foundation. Personally, I particularly like the individual stories and blogs which tell of some of the struggles people have battled with – here. You don’t have to dive into ‘wild swimming’ (though hats off if you do!). It is more about finding out what works for you to find some space and a sense of calm.

There are also some ‘top tips‘ here which are worth a read.

Also, some ideas and more ideas from Mental Health UK.

For me, it is getting out in our allotment – and I know how lucky I am to have that, believe me. Basically, it is pottering with a vague gardening theme. (If anyone has any tips for ground elder I will gladly pay you!) It has been such a haven during the last year. If times get tough or the inevitable bad day comes along, I head out there – sometimes with wine. I potter or I pull up a few weeds. Lately, I have found that heading out there even after a tough meeting or when trying to write something tricky has really helped me calm down a bit. I would heartily recommend it. And here is the embarrassing pic with Frank the dog.

Frank and me in the lottie. Frank doesn’t think birds should be allowed in trees, so hence his distraction here.

We would love to hear about your ways of re-focusing, making sure you de-stress from work or from whatever it might be that is causing your mind to whirr. Just get in touch if you would like to write something, or just a few pics.

Anne Archer is a big believer in getting out and walking off that anxiety and stress. Here are some pics of a recent walk: