Abby Lacey

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An audience with the Dalai Lama

Monday was World Peace Day and we were lucky enough to get tickets to Action for Happiness’s ‘Create a Happier World’ event with the wonderful Dalai Lama and friends.

After His Holiness was welcomed on stage by Director of Action for Happiness, Mark Williamson with rapturous applause and a standing ovation, we heard from the wonderful Jasmine Hodge-Lake, a lady who’d participated in the ‘Exploring What Matters’ pilot course after suffering from chronic pain for many years.

Jasmine was followed by the amazing Adrian Bethune, a teacher from John Stainer School, who talked about how the school is championing Action for Happiness. I could write a whole blog on his incredible work, but instead, I’ll just link to Brockley Central’s blog; it really is inspirational.

IDalai Lama & Richard Layardt was then time for Lord Richard Layard, co-founder of Action for Happiness, to ‘interview’ His Holiness. What followed was an amusing, touching and (that word again) inspirational insight into the Dalai Lama’s philosophy. He touched on mental health, anger (and its place), the refugee situation (which he so wisely summed up saying that the only solution is to bring peace to their country), and our global responsibility.

After a break, the Dalai Lama having left and the protestors outside quietened, Geoff Mulgan, another co-founder of Action for Happiness, chaired a discussion on with four extremely knowledgeable speakers:

Richard Davidson, spoke about the neuroscience of happiness summing up:
* With mind training we can change our resilience
* See the positive in the world
* A wandering mind is an unhappy mind – pay attention!
* Be generous!

Editor of Psychologies Magazine, Suzy Greaves, talked about how to shift our culture towards happiness and how she’d partnered with Action for Happiness to start ‘Happiness Clubs’.

Ex-Wellington College Head, Sir Anthony Seldon, I have to say my favourite speaker of the day (bar DL of course), spoke about children and happiness; how the school system is outdated; how education is fundamental in developing a whole human being; how schools have a responsibility to draw out love, curiosity and wonderment. He took us through an exercise that he ‘punctuates’ his school days with – a simple meditation for one minute – amazing!

Finally, Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, talked about how altruism affects happiness, quoting Martin Luther King:”Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

The day was incredible; from the ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to be in the room with the Dalai Lama, who exudes love and compassion, to the other speakers. It’s definitely made me want to do the Exploring What Matters Course and just take those small steps to being much happier!

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can still sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.

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One of those days!

I’m having one of those days. Not a bad day, but one where I can’t stop.


After a very busy week, work-wise, I could finally stop last night, so had an early night with a DVD. This morning I woke up feeling chipper and cracked on with the day – swimming with Dylan, Waitrose (the Saturday norm) only to come home and that’s when it started…

  • Washing
  • Sorting out Dylan’s toys to sell (a lot of them that never see the light of day)
  • Moving Lego from the playhouse back into Dylan’s room
  • Changing the playhouse above from Lego house, into storage-for-the-Winter/sitting room
  • Tidying outside sitting room
  • More washing
  • Showering, washing hair and defuzzing ready for a party this evening.

And now, when I could relax, I’m writing a blog. I can’t stop!

What is it about a busy week that stops you from just chilling out? Is it there a fear to stopping?

I’m off to do a little savasana and breathe…

Savasana cat

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can still sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.

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Photography, me & my National Trust obsession

It will come as no surprise to those who either know me, or have read any of my previous posts, that I am a huge National Trust fan. Since joining almost a year ago, we have really used our membership to the max, visiting 15+ properties; some (particularly the local ones) several times.

Whilst on my visits, I indulge my other love and take numerous photos, which eventually get whittled down so there’s only one or two of the same view (I hoard nothing in life apart from photos!).

So finally, I have decided to add some of them on here and would love to know what you think!

Click here for photos

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can still sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.

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Churchill & Meditation

On a recent visit to his Kent home, Chartwell, I discovered that Churchill meditated by a pond on the wonderful estate. Not only did this surprise and please me, but it left me wondering why and how he got into this thousand-year old practice. SO I did a little Googling!

Chartwell (3)There are countless articles on Churchill but very little on him meditating; in fact the only thing I could find was another Chartwell visitor’s photos of the same pond with the same engraved stone. I did however, find much on Churchill’s bouts of depression, which he called his “Black Dog”.

There are some who think he suffered from bipolar disorder, experiencing mood swings from intense bursts of activity to crippling depression; which could explain the times where he couldn’t get out of bed to attend parliament or where he worked until the small hours, cigar and whisky by his side.

These periods apparently featured through many decades of his life and in a letter to his wife, Clementine, in 1911, Churchill wrote, after hearing a friend’s wife had received help from a German doctor:

“I think this man might be useful to me – if my black dog returns. He seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colours come back into the picture.”

Chartwell was a beloved home for Churchill where, not only did he meditate, but he wrote books, painted, entertained and was a keen bricklayer.

The haven of Chartwell clearly helped keep Churchill’s “Black Dog” at bay and on visiting the home, so lovingly restored, you can really imagine him sitting by the pond, silently contemplating.

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can still sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.

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7. Take part in a charity bike ride – after

One of my favourite parts of my week is my Saturday morning lie in. It normally starts with Dylan coming into bed with us at 8am, Sam or I making a pot of tea (we have a kettle upstairs and make sure we bring cups, teabags and milk up the night before) and then the three of us lazing in bed watching the news, Friends and any other trash TV.

2015-08-29 06.40.23-2This Saturday was different; I got up earlier than I would during the week, crept out of bed, got dressed into my cycling gear and left the house. My bike was already dismantled and in the car so I was ready to drive to Windsor where I caught a train Richmond to take part in Bike Events’ London to Windsor 37 miles ride.

The train was full of cyclists; from a commuter with his £1800 Brompton that he was convinced was super quick despite having teeny tiny wheels, to a pair of 60+ ladies who chatted about doing the ride before and finishing at 4pm because they’d stopped for coffee at every refreshment stop, and even had lunch along the way!

Once at Richmond Green, the event seemed well organised and we all queued up in order to start at 9am on the dot. To my delight (being one that can’t abide lateness), I was in the first 30 to start at 8.50!

mapThe first mile or so was slow-paced, past the river and out of Richmond heading to Twickenham. Once through the traffic my competitive spirit kicked in and I found myself overtaking other riders and heading out with the big boys of the pack (granted I was slip-streaming them, but that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?).

By the time I hit Sunbury (after passing the wonderful Hampton Court Palace), I was in my element but this was short-lived as I lost the pack and started to slow down a little. I noticed that my tyres were a little flat and decided that I should take a break at the next refreshment stop.

I continued to the Four Horseshoes at Chobham, where I ordered a well deserved coffee and one of the race marshalls kindly sorted my tyres. After 15 minutes, I hit the road again with a new-found energy.

Now with over 23 miles done, cyclists were appearing around all corners, I overtook some and was overtaken by others, and lost a little of my competitive spirit resigning myself to simply finishing the route.

I went through Egham and hit Englefield Green knowing that I was really on the home straight. I flew down Crimp Hill, (at 30mph!), through Old Windsor and onto the Datchet Road. It was 11.30am and I knew I couldn’t be far from the finish.

2015-08-29 11.46.19-1At 11.43am I crossed the finish line having completed 38.81 miles and 2 hours and 32 minutes of cycling. Before me were 3 or 4 male cyclists and I thought I was mistaken. I asked a marshal if anyone else had been through and they said no – this meant that I was the first woman, and the fifth-ish person, to finish the 37 miler!

I was in shock and still am. I didn’t have a chip and no one was noting finishing times; for someone like me this is a nightmare! As I said before in “Why does my ego get in the way?”, I am a competitive so and so, and I need recognition. It’s not a trait I enjoy suffering from, but I suffer all the same.

So, for now, you’ll have to take my word for it; I won! And even if I didn’t, I think nearly 39 miles in two and a half hours, if pretty good!certificate

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can also sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.

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A very happy camper – part 2

bodiamThe following morning, with heavy heads from a little too much rose, we headed to the medieval Bodiam Castle. Being a wonderfully warm and sunny day (I think the best day of the year), the sight of the castle was incredible – an archetypal 14th century moated castle.

After a rummage through the gift shop, and quick pitstop at the cafe, we walked through the grounds of the castle seeing authentic silversmiths and armourers working in a medieval village and then came across archery tuition – 40 arrows for £15; how could we say no?

Having done a little archery before; firstly in the back garden (where I could quite easily have killed a passer by with my flying arrow) and secondly in France with Vincent, a hyper-active activity leader at Parc de Ferbois, but not really had a proper lesson.

The tutor was amazing – he taught Sam, D and me, one by one, pulling our arms, tweaking our hips and generally moulding us to get us in the right position. Whether it was luck or just good teaching, I managed to hit the bullseye (the golden circle), a boar’s bum and a deer in leg!

Bodiam Castle (15)

Afterwards we headed to the towers where, having climbed steep and narrow spiral staircases, we reached the views over the beautiful Weald of Kent.

Finally, tired and hungry, we popped over the road to The Castle Inn for a spot of lunch before driving back to the campsite for… more rose!

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#40b440 – Check out my daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, plus see the full list in pictures on Pinterest.

You can also sponsor me for the London to Windsor bike ride, here.