Sunday, 30 March 2014

April - Ultimate Blog Challenge


April is nearly here and I can't wait to start the "Ultimate Blog Challenge". I first read about it on Twitter and since I've been keeping this blog for a while I was super excited about this idea.

So... from next Tuesday there will be a post EVERY DAY for 30 days. I've got some blog posts ideas (first one will be "My Guilty Pleasures - Music videos")... I've made a list of some videos of songs that not even in my dreams I'd thought I would ever "make public"! Well, I'll do it for the sake of creativity and entertainment... Haha...

Watch this space and please, leave your comments (nice ones, please! hehe), write your lists, participate, any way you like! If you'd like to be a guest blogger, don't be shy. Just email me. It will be fun!

Well, without further ado, let's all grab a cuppa and squeeze into The Potter's Shed for a whole month!!! :)

Mi casa, su casa!

See you Tuesday.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Day in the Diary of William Blake

                                                                             (Note: MA in Creative Writing assignment; 2011)    

               After twenty-seven long, tiring and boring days at sea, we have finally arrived at the Port of Santos, in Brazil. Had I not had my best companions with me – I mean, my writing tools – I do not believe I would have made it.
            I was told nothing about this new world. What I know I have learned from a few fellow Englishmen, who have welcomed me into their homes with English tea, English butter, cinnamon, cherries and other foods which I doubt most of the population in this place have in their own homes.
            Santos is a beautiful place; there is a long stretch of white sand and sea to which my eyes cannot find the end.  Children run free around here. They seem to spend hours enjoying the sun, a majestic blue sky, the lovely, gentle breeze. Parents just seem to forget about them, lost in their own conversations with the neighbours, sitting at the recently opened coffee house. Some of them ride their bicycles to the ice cream parlour. It is such a beautiful sight. If only they knew that this is all about to come to an end.
Progress. That is what they call it. I was invited on this trip by a dear friend, an engineer, who was redeployed to work here a few months ago. He is supposed to help build the first railway in this country, which connects the port to Sao Paulo, and will be used mostly for the transport of produce abroad. Apparently, coffee beans here are as valuable as gold. So, soon enough this place will be overflowing with workers, brought from all over the country. Soon, this amazing landscape, dream-like, nature-filled place will be permeated with concrete and steel. The sound of the waves and sea and children’s laughter will be interfered with by bangs and drilling and men’s shouting. What a shame.
            I have been told that Brazil, as a colony, has been inspired by the French Revolution and now, with the arrival of the English, they wish to be like us. They are eager for independence. It seems that the Industrial Revolution is reaching this colony of Portugal, in such a way that it has even affected the Brazilian poets. My dear friend, the engineer, who is a keen appreciator of books, has told me about this Brazilian poet called Casimiro de Abreu and one of his most famous poems, “My eight years”. My friend, in his poorly spoken Portuguese, tried to translate the poem for me. He read the words slowly, and even explained the word “saudades” to me.  I liked the sound of it so much, and when he translated it for me, I could hear Wordsworth’s words in “Tintern Abbey”. What a delight to find such ‘a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’, as Wordsworth himself would describe poetry. I note here the first part of this poem which brings such joy to my heart and at the same time such melancholy:

“Oh! que saudades que tenho
Da aurora da minha vida
Da minha infância querida
Que os anos não trazem, mais!
Que amor, que sonhos, que flores,
Naquelas tardes fagueiras
À sombra das bananeiras,
Debaixo dos laranjais!”
“Oh, how much I miss
The dawn of my life,
My darling childhood
Which the years do not bring back!
What love, what dreams, what flowers,
On those pleasant afternoons,
In the shade of the banana trees,
Under the orange orchards.”

The Potter's Shed
                                                      Foto: coleção de Werner Vana, de S.Paulo/SP

P.S. I have found out that the word “saudades” describes exactly what I feel about  my childhood days, and I believe that Wordsworth would promptly agree with me. Note to self: I must remember to tell him of my discoveries of such a naturally rich place and also such a literate brilliant mind, this Casimiro de Abreu. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Twinings ~ Gets you back to you

The Potter's Shed

She sits on the edge of her side of the bed and stares outside the window. But she doesn't look at the beautiful view from her ''posh city centre flat'', as her mother-in-law 
likes to call it. She sees nothing. Nothing with her eyes, that is.
Her mind, though, is racing with thoughts. Old friends, parents, sisters, letters, 'I need to find out what I like again,’ Napoli, the sun, a dear friend she hasn't seen for ages. Actually, this last one she forces herself to think of just as a friend. He was her first love. Her first kiss. And she had dreamed about him the night before. They were kissing. But this time they weren't twelve anymore.
She sits there. Not one muscle or bone in her body seems to be working. Just her head. Her eyes burn with tears she tries to hold back. Once one is out, there will be no stopping them. And she can't let it happen. Not today. Not this morning anyway. They have guests and they are getting ready to go out. If she starts crying, her nose will be as big and red as Rudolph's.'How am I going to explain that? I don't want to go out. Not now. Not ever again.'
Jim enters the room. He notices she has a little notebook and that she's writing something.
'Are you ready, babe?'
'Nearly. Just five more minutes.'
He walks around the bed and strokes her hair.
'Are you ok?'
'Yes, I'm fine.'
He kisses her gently on the lips and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.
'Why do I always say I'm fine when I'm not?'
She remembers a text she read a week before at uni. The words she had nearly memorised immediately and kept on remembering, because it was so much like what she had been feeling lately... It felt like ' ...going up an endless staircase until it came to a sudden abrupt termination, with no balustrades, allowing no step onward, except into the depths below. It seemed to be the end of my misery. But then, I raised my eyes, and there was another flight of stairs still higher. Again, terminating on the very brink of the abyss. One more time, I elevated my eyes, and a still more aerial flight of stairs is beheld. And so on, until the unfinished stairs and I are both lost in the upper gloom of the hall.' Well, or something like that, she couldn't remember the exact words of Thomas de Quincey's confession of an English opium-eater. All she knew was that, there and then, that would have to do to explain what she had been feeling. Not that she could possibly try to tell anyone anyway.
She scribbles the end of her notes, tears the page off, folds the piece of paper carefully and hides it inside the book she’s reading, Eat Pray Love. ‘Ha! Isn’t THAT ironic?’ Just before she leaves the room, she glances at herself in the mirror and forces a smile. ‘Not one tear. I win today.’
In the living room, the in-laws say good morning with a warm smile. Jim holds her tenderly and whispers to her ear.
Phew! You’ve frightened me, angel. I thought you were writing a suicide note in there. Don’t ever leave me, ok? I love you.’
She stands on her toes to reach him and kisses him.
‘Thank you. I love you too.’  And they leave.
But still, her eyes are looking at nothing. It’s like she is not even there. She thinks about that tea advert on TV, with that beautiful song, and the girl stranded at sea, when she loses both rows and the birds fly her boat back to the shore and she sees herself and they hug and become one again, with a cup of tea in her hand. Hadn’t she even painted her toenails red just to feel more like that girl? To give her some hope? ‘What does that advert say in the end? Twinings: Gets you back to you. Ha. And I don’t even like tea!’
Holding his hand tight, she smiles sadly and thinks of the last note she hid inside her book; just another one, along with some others of similar content:
 ‘Dear Jim,
I’m tired. I feel hopeless. I see no purpose in being here anymore. I’ve already hurt you too much.
I will always love you.
Yours, forever,

Sunday, 23 March 2014


The Potter's Shed
(Picture source:

16th March 2014

Note to self: I had to read three previous entries to remember what week this is. Memory is definitely getting worse…

     This is “Thinking of my wife” week. 13th March was the 20th anniversary of my Ella’s passing. That’s why I’ve chosen this week’s “name”.
     I was walking back from Tesco this morning with my new shopping trolley – the one my girls gave me for me birthday – and I walked past the house at the corner. The one with the huge side garden. I noticed that I’ve got new neighbours.
     Their garden is quite big, but not as big as Ella’s and mine. I picked this house when it was still on the plan, and I picked it because of the garden. I was only 19 when I put a deposit on it. Me old man and I were working as plasterers for this development firm. I can’t believe I helped build all these houses in this street! It was 1954 and this house cost £1,465, can you believe that…
     So, I was walking round the corner and heard the lawn mower and loud voices and laughter. A lot of laughter, mind you. It was only when I got to the front gate, past the tall hedge, that I saw them.
      They’re in their 30s, I guess. He was mowing the lawn and she was walking after him, holding the mower cable, making funny faces as she talked and laughed.
     It’s a beautiful day today. Sun is high and warm, there is not a single cloud in the sky. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It’s the redhead. She’s a redhead, just like my Ella, you know.
     When the husband saw me at the gate, he came to introduce himself. Their names are Ben and Kelly, and they are adorable. They held hands and cuddled all the time we talked and I felt so much love between them that I even got a bit jealous. Ella and I used to cuddle all the time too.
     I was a bit embarrassed, but I told them I had stopped because she reminded me of my Ella. I told them all about how I knew my Ella was trouble when I met her. Me mother was Irish and a redhead. And she was a very strong woman. I told Jim and Kelly I knew my Ella was trouble the first time I saw her. And even knowing that, I feel in love with her. I told them I put a deposit on our house when I was only 19 and why I picked our house.
     I bought it on the plan, you know, and I chose the one with the biggest garden and hoped I would one day find a good woman, get married and have children. It all worked out in the end, you know.
     I told Ken and Kelly that when I married my Ella, her mother asked “Are you going to live with us” and I said “No”. So she asked “Are you going to live with your parents” and I also said “No”. And she asked “Where are you going to live then” and I told her “I have a house in Pencoed” and she said “What???” I hadn’t told anyone, you see. But I bought it and I hope and it worked out in the end.
     Lucky I picked the house with the biggest garden, I told Dan and Kelly. We had three children and every time my Ella got pregnant, I built an extension. So, you see, I now have a very big house, with three extensions, just for myself! And my back garden is still bigger than their side garden. But I’m all alone. It’s been 20 years now.
     I invited them over to see the house, the garden, and have a cuppa and a chat. I really hope they come visit. They’re an adorable, friendly couple. And she’s a redhead.
     Well, gotta take me tablets and it’s bed time now.


Thursday, 13 March 2014

About toilet paper and other stuff

Some time ago, I can't remember exactly when, there were these posts on Facebook about the "orientation" of the toilet paper. I had to use this between " " because honestly, using the word "orientation" to talk about toilet paper just seems wrong to me. It gives too much importance to something that will end up very, very dirty.

But, anyway... there have been loads of blog posts, blog debates and comments, which I always read for fun - and God, sometimes they are funny! -, but I'd never thought I'd be writing anything about it. (for the same reason I think that using the word "orientation" in this context is just taking the piss...) I am an "under" person, and if anyone asks me why, the answer will be a simple Because I think it's easier. Period. That's it. No need for massive debates or arguments. I'm very democratic. You can use the "orientation" you want. (yeah, now I'm not talking only about toilet papers here. I'm really very democratic.)

This was until this morning...

Pause here, for a note: I never thought I'd be writing about my toilet habits one day... But as a writer, I've always been inclined to use my own life as inspiration. :P

So, this morning...

I was in the toilet this morning, and hubby and I had been talking about adding toilet paper to our weekly shopping list. I was sitting there and noticed he had just changed the roll. And it was "over". Like I've already said, I've always been an "under" person, and until today I had no idea whether my husband would also be an "under" or an "over" type of guy. (to be honest, it bugs me way more when he leaves the toilet seat up... Everyone has got their own priorities, I'd say...) No worries, I thought. So I just changed it again...

Shocking. We buy Andrex. I love Andrex! Not only because it is super duper soft, but also because of the puppies embossed on the paper. (lame, I know) What was my surprise this morning when for the first time ever, I noticed that the puppies were upside down! I couldn't believe it! I repeat: shocking.
The Potter's Shed  The Potter's Shed

                                                           "over" or "under"?

Now come on... I'm really sorry, Andrex people, but embossing the puppies on the paper only one way is the same as selling only one type of cider in pubs. I personally like fruity ciders, and the fact that some pubs sell them makes me their customer. Do you get what I mean?

I don't think I'll stop buying this brand, especially because it's a really soft one, but I'd love to see puppies embossed in all directions (or "orientations", to carry on with the topic of this post). This way, the "unders" would always be able to see puppies the right way up too! :)

Ah, before I forget... I thought my husband was an "over" person... I've just asked him which way he puts the toilet roll in... His answer? Couldn't be more manly, I guess: Whatever way it's in my hand. Haha.... Love him... 

Just to finish this post, I decided to leave another list... This time a list that I first heard of in my journal writing class (thanks, Fiona!) and that has everything to do with the "orientation" of toilet rolls...

Things that make no sense

1. The right way for toilet papers to go is over. (Why?????)
2. A single train ticket costs nearly the same as the return ticket.
3. Rain for days on end. 
4. Wearing very high heels when you can't walk in them.
5. Wearing tiny clothes out in the middle of the winter.
6. Bank clerks that don't know what to do with a cheque.
7. Malaysia flight MH370 still be missing.
8. So many people with so much money while even more people are living in misery.
9. Brazilian postal service on strike since the end of January.
10. The World Cup in a country where there aren't enough beds for patients in hospitals (and I'll stop right there.)
11. A beautiful day outside and you prefer to stay in, watching TV, or sleeping.
12. People who commit suicide.
13. Girls who believe they have to look like the models they see in the magazines (even though it's well known that it's all fake)
14. Prejudice.
15. War.
16. Husbands and wives who cheat.
17. Child abuse ~ or ANY kind of abuse (domestic, against animals etc)
18. Those "cute" animal phone covers with ears, wings etc. Not even for children. Actually,  I don't think children should have mobile phones.
19. Politics.
20. People having to die, especially our loved ones.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What's in a name?

The Potter's Shed
                                  picture source:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Yeah, what's in a name? 

I was just setting up a new facebook page and for some reason my "name" caught my attention. Well, you may be thinking: What the heck...? Why did a name I've had since 2008 (when I got married) only now made me stop and think?

I was born Daniela Ribeiro Pesconi. As it's common in Brasil, Ribeiro is from my mum, Pesconi is from my dad. I couldn't be more proud of my name or the two fantastic people who chose it for me! 

I've wanted to change my name once or twice. The first time was when I got married. I wanted to take the "Ribeiro" out. I thought it was too ordinary a surname, not to mention the fact that my name would be way too long (imagine... THREE surnames!). 

After marrying, as it's common here in the UK, I "became" Daniela Arthur. I had to "legalise" my marriage in Brasil, so off I went to the Brazilian Consulate in London. I was surprised when the officer said I wasn't allowed to simply "cut" the Ribeiro from my name; I could either keep my maiden name or just add my husband's name to it. Frustrated, I opted for a "long" name.

Then decided I wanted to write. And I needed an "artistic name"... hahaha. That's when the double-barrelled name idea came from. And that's the name I want my children to have. I love it!

So, where does the guilt come from? Yes, because it can only be a tiny bit of guilt there, right? When I was setting up my page and inviting people to "like" it, I kind of became self-counscious about the name. Let me explain... my mum passed away last year (Letters to my mother), I've been grieving since then and still I don't even use her surname??? What are the other people of the Ribeiro family are going to think about me??? Just discarding my mother's name like this...? Tsc, tsc Dani. Shame on you!

I found myself needing, wanting to justify myself; to justify myself like I usually do about so many things. Like most people do, I guess. And I felt sad. Why do we have to justify ourselves all the time to a world that perhaps is not even paying attention to you? 

I LOVED my mother. I LOVE my mother. Like I've already said, I couldn not be more proud of her, who was the strongest (although very often misunderstood) woman I've ever known in my life, as well as my grandma ~ her own mother, as far as I can recall the stories my mum used to tell me.

So, again, I wonder... what's in a name? My mother's "Ribeiro" is not here, but her real name, "DELI", is engraved, carved in my heart and in my memories in a way that no other name is. I miss her badly, and just the thought of her name makes my heart skip a beat (I know, cliche...). 

Quoting Shakespeare again ~ and adapting it a little bit...

"What's in a name? That who we once called Deli
  By any other name would smell as sweet..."


p.s. and mother, I know you don't worry about this... you didn't use your dad's name either...
Amo voce pra sempre.

p.p.s. and yes, I guess I've "just justified" myself!  =P