Friday 20 April 2018

Muslims and The Good Samaritans

As part of my work, I recently visited the local branch of the charity the Samritan’s.  The plan was to visit, find out more about what they do, and get to know the volunteers.  The volunteers took the time to explain what they did and tell me about the training required to run their services.  Then they took me on a tour of their offices.

The two volunteers were two of the nicest people I have ever met.  I had not expected the amount of training and work that goes into volunteering for the Samaritans and how much they do.

It made me think about what I contribute to my community and to society.  I remember a talk once by a Muslim scholar and he posed the question: If all of the Muslims left your country, would the people of that country notice?  Would they be sad?  He explained it was our role to serve others, to benefit others and to show so much kindness and compassion that if we left tomorrow people would miss us.  This little piece of nasiha, or advice, has always stayed in my mind.

Someone at work recently asked staff how many of us volunteer, I felt a little embarrassed at not putting my hand up.  But then I got to thinking of all of the other sisters in my community who don’t formally volunteer but serve in so many other ways:

My Aunty who used to send meals to her English neighbour who was having treatment for Cancer
My neigbour who teaches children Quran and then donates the fees to charity
My lovely friend Z who used to visit her elderly neighbour and carried on visiting her when she moved into a nursing home
The sisters who cook for the masjid, send meals to new mothers who don’t have any family here and send food to neighbours
Shutterbug Sister who will take any opportunity to give directions or find some small deed that will help others
My mum, who sent meals to a newly widowed neighbour and sent us sisters one by one to sit with her so she wouldn’t be alone
So many other instances, the advice givers, the form fillers, the interpreters for people who don’t have the confidence to talk to housing or benefit agencies.

I hope that those small deeds are what we are remembered for.  I hope they are enough to define us and not the negative rhetoric that abounds around us right now.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Picture of the Day 15.04.18: Wild Turkeys

It was finally warm and dry enough for the boot fairs to start and for us to get to one.  We ended up going to one in Boreham, which we found some real bargains at last year.  This time around we didn’t find much, just some art supplies and a few books for the kids.  As we left we saw ducks, pheasants and various other birds, like…Turkeys, so that was a bit unexpected on a Sunday morning, out in the Essex countryside, just randomly wondering about.

Picture of the Day 14.04.018: Daddy's Little Girl

Our tiny little tornado is a real daddy’s girl, telling him at every opportunity she loves him and bullying him in between.  I thought this picture summed them up perfectly.

Picture of the Day 13.04.018: Fruits of Spring

There is something about berries in spring, ripe, in season, fragrant and sweet that is an absolute joy. I bought two trays of these for the kids to gorge on and they made me think about strawberry picking and cherries straight from the tree in the next month or so.

Cornwall 2018: Eden Project Rainforest Biome

The Mediterranean biodome at the Eden Project is my mum’s favourite part of the Project and I love the warmth and beauty of the gardens.  But my favourite part is the Rainforest biome – hot, exotic, with striking plants, and did I mention it’s hot?

Temperatures go up to 35 degrees celcius and the space replicates the world's rainforest environments of tropical islands, Southeast Asia, West Africa and tropical South America.

Something that was different from our last visit eight years ago was the abundance of colourful Roul Roul Partridge’s, these were everywhere and completely used to people.  There are supposed to be other insects, lizards and birds too, but I didn’t notice any.

There were educational display and information everywhere, about what we can gain from the rainforest but also about the preservation of them.

I had to take a picture, I have a thing about bamboo, there’s something so elegant and pleasing about the shape.

The trees were enormous, they reached up to the canopy.

There was art everywhere in the biodome:

My favourite thing, other than the heat, was the waterfall.  This was close to the roof of the biodome and I would happily have stood there all day listening to the sound and feeling the spray of it on my face.

These are actual papaya growing on the tree.

The rainforest canopy walkway was great fun, we went around in circles and crossed it a few times.  Hubby thought it was great fun to bounce on it and try and scare me, the boys followed suit and scared the daylights out of various poor people trying to get across.

I remembered this large ginger torch flower from last time, beautiful colour and striking plant

I had a great time enjoying the heat and strolling through the greenery.  I noticed that they had installed a cool room in the rainforest biodome, which is thoughtful because not everyone can take too much heat.

We spent a good few hours at Eden and enjoyed ourselves.  The tickets were pricey, although you can visit again during the year for free and it was very busy, I always feel a little resentful that the only time we can visit is during school holidays when everywhere is crammed with people.  I think I have Cornwall out of my system for now, if I do go back, I will certainly wait fir warner weather.

Cornwall 2018: Eden Project Mediterranean Biome

The Mediterranean biodome at the Eden Project is possibly one of my mum’s favourite place in the country. It recreates the look, but also the feel and temperature of the Mediterranean as well as plants from South Africa, California and Western Australia.  The plants are beautiful, in contrast to the striking and unusual plants of the tropical dome.
I don’t think anyone was walking past this purple flower without taking a picture of it.

I enjoyed the art and the architecture incorporated into the garden. 

I loved the intense colour and lush, waxy petals of this flower.

We took our time sauntering around this garden and enjoying the warmth, flowers, cacti and art.

Cornwall 2018: Eden Project, St Austell

Our first visit to the Eden Project eight years ago was an absolute delight, so we were all keen to go back, especially my mum who is a keen gardener.  It also meant we would be out of the rain and cold and for some parts of the Project, in the heat.

The Eden Project consists of a number of areas: a tropical dome, a Mediterranean dome, children event and play area, an outdoor area and large area of shops and canteens .

Both the tropical and Mediterranean biodomes were as interesting and enjoyable as we remembered them (I will write about those individually), but the thing that really stood out was the accessibility of the site.  There were free buses from the parking area to the domes with the kindest most helpful bus driver you could ask for.  There were covered walkways to get us out if the rain.  But more than that there was an attitude and feel that the place cared about accessibility and had gone out of their way to make it as accessible to wheelchair users, those with other disabilities and families with small children as possible.

One of the things I really like is the art that you can see everywhere, I remember quite a few of these displays from our last visit:

We spent most of the time on the domes, but once we were done the children spent some time playing the games in the children’s are and trying to win small prizes for completing as many as they could. The boys had fun running around this maze:

We don’t tend to eat out and take picnics because we don’t know what vegetarian or halal options will be available, but the small café in the children’s area confirmed that the chips were not made with any meat product.  I can’t tell you how over the moon the kids were.  Hubby and I shared the deserts.

Monday 9 April 2018

Ramadan and Eid Planner 2018/1439

Assalam-alaikam Dear Readers,
I have just published the updated 
Ramadan and Eid Planner for 2018 (or 1438/39 in the Islamic calendar). The planner is a bumper 74 pages and has lots of sections for your Ramadan and Eid goals, plans and ideas. I have tried to keep it fairly print friendly, with the exception of the cover pages. I have kept the hand painted watercolour wash front cover because I love its soothing colours.

This year I haven't been able to make a lot of changes, so your thoughts and suggestions about what is useful and what else you would like to see would be very welcome.

This year the planner includes:

  • Clear goal-setting for Ramadan
  • Some practical suggested activities you can undertake now, a month before, a week before and during Ramadan, with space to include your own actions and thoughts.
  • Space to plan ahead for the month of Dhul-hajj and the Sacrifice
  • The Sunnan of Ramadan and both Eid’s
  • The beautiful and inspiring Ramadan Sermon of our beloved Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)
  • Guidance to help you decided what you want to get out of Eid and how you can do that
  • A reading list of useful materials on Ramadan and Eid
  • Prompts to reflect on Ramadan after the month has ended so that you can retain some of the benefits of the blessed month
  • Ramadan Meal Planner’s with space to work out which ingredients you will need on which day
  • Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha meal planners, with space to plan ahead for snacks for guests as well as meals
  • Gift list for the two Eid’s including a budget column and checklist for gifts to be posted
  • Eid card list for both Eid’s
  • 11 Ramadan Recipes – some of the most popular on

I hope this planner serves as a useful tool for brothers and sisters in making the most of Ramadan this year and having blessed and happy Eid’s insh’Allah. 

You can click the link here or the image below to access

If you find this planner beneficial, please make dua for me and my family. Your feedback is welcome either in the comments or via e-mail at and I will be happy to take your thoughts into consideration for an updated version in the future insh’Allah.

اَللّهُمَّ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان 

Allahumma ballighna Ramadan 
O Allah! Let us reach the month of Ramadan