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View From The Top: A Visit To London's Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden is regularly listed as one of the most beautiful performance venues in the world. So I knew I'd have to act fast in order to secure tickets for its popular holiday show - The Nutcracker.

As it turned out, many people had the same idea but were much more organised than me. When I visited the booking page two months before Christmas, the only four seats in a row available were in the top tier amphitheatre gallery.

For £10 each, our tickets were a bargain. The seats were described as "Upper Slips, view obstructed by tier ledge, patrons in front may also obstruct view, padded bench with back." We didn't even have to stand!

We took several flights of stairs and escalators to reach our seats, which were padded benches on the highest possible landing in the building. A quick glance downward might leave you weak in the knees.

We didn't have a full view of the performance, but we did get an unrivalled, bird’s eye view of the orchestra and all four tiers of boxes and balconies. The auditorium could seat 2,256 people, so we spent the interval admiring both the ROH's architecture and guests. 🧐

We also had the best view of the auditorium’s ornate ceiling, which housed the spot lights and opened up during the show to illuminate the stage.

Warning: I would not recommend this section for people with an extreme fear of heights. You are after all within an arm’s reach to the roof, with the entire theatre below your feet. .

Other than that it’s a great way to check out the Grade I listed opera house and the wonderful royal ballet for the price of a take-away meal.

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Royal Opera House

Bow Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2E 9DD
United Kingdom

Beautiful Destination: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

There are a number of grand buildings dotted along the south side of Hyde Park, and this one - the Mandarin Oriental - along with the Natural History Museum, are what I find the most beautiful. 

Besides the stunning use of red brick on its facade, this place also holds an interesting history.

Take a moment to admire this picturesque setting at the hotel's loggia, then scroll down for eight facts about the hotel that you may find fascinating.

The park-facing loggia at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the perfect location for special events. © Mandarin Oriental Hotels

The front facade of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, facing Knightsbridge. © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug // Cover photo  © Mandarin Oriental Hotels


🍁 The original building was built in 1889 as an exclusive "gentleman's club", with the main entrance facing Hyde Park.

🍁 At the time it was also the tallest building in London at 100 feet high (about 9 story by today's standard).

🍁 The Franco-Flemish style architecture uses plenty of red brick and Portland stone and has loggias (exterior corridors) to provide lounging space that overlooks the park.

🍁 A fire struck the property in 1899, and in 1902 it reopened as "Hyde Park Hotel", the newest and the most luxurious hotel in London.

🍁 But the hotel opened with a new entrance facing Knightsbridge instead of Hyde Park -- due to royal request that the side facing the park would only be reserved for royal use or very special occasions.

🍁 The new main entrance of the building now faces Knighsbridge, opposite Harvey Nichols and a short walk from Harrods.

🍁 In 2000, the property reopened as "Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park" after extensive restoration.

🍁 In September 2016 it began another 18-month restoration to keep up its 5-star standard. The first phase on the front-facing rooms completed last month, and now the work has moved to the back of the building, which is expected to finish in Spring 2018.


Genteel England: Middlethorpe Hall & Spa in York | 溫雅英格蘭:約克的「米多托爾普」歷史酒店

For my very first visit to York, England, I was adamant to stay at a historic hotel to fully absorb the quaintness of this ancient city. I went through the National Trust property list and was immediately drawn to one place - Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, just outside the city center.

首次拜訪英格蘭的約克之前,我只有一個篤定的要求: 住的旅館必須要古色古香,而且最好是古蹟。英國保護名勝古蹟的國家信託提供了許多建議,其中一家最吸引著我,就是位於老城郊區的米多托爾普酒店

Middlethorpe Hall's magnificient back garden with the delightfully named "ha-ha". © EIleen Hsieh/Follow That Bug

Front facade of Middlethorpe Hall as seen from the street. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Can you ever go wrong with w National Trust property? © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Constructed in 1699, Middlethorpe Hall is a classic William and Mary country house built for a prosperous master cutler named Thomas Barlow, who bought the Middlethorpe estate as a bid to establish himself as a country gentleman.

The style of the building was indirectly influenced by Christopher Wren's Hampton Court Palace, as reflected in its pattern of red brick, white sash windows and stone corners. In the 1980s Middlethorpe Hall was restored to its former glory and reopened as a luxury hotel. Now it's under the protection of the National Trust.

Middlethorpe Hall建於1699年,屋主是位富有的刀匠,想藉由這棟威廉與瑪莉型式的豪宅來打入上流社會,晉身為鄉紳。

這棟鄉村豪宅的風格靈感來自漢普頓皇宮與名建築師溫恩,處處可見紅磚,白邊大窗戶和開闊的花園。Middlethorpe Hall 在1980年代轉型改成為豪華酒店,今日由國家信託管理。

The airy grand reception room with happy, yellow walls. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Pretty trimmings around the chandelier. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Plenty of Instagram-worthy features around the house, including this sweet kitty. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The main house is decorated in the manner of the 18th century and furnished with antiques and fine paintings. It also features a grand staircase with intricate carvings. There are 10 bedrooms in the main house, including a royal suite. 

走進房子的主樓好像回到18世紀,室內裝飾使用了許多古董和精美畫作做點綴,還有一座木雕的大樓梯。主樓裡有10間臥室,包括了佔地最大,景觀最好的皇家套房。

Royal bedroom Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

THE DUKE OF YORK SUITE

Named after the stay of HRH Prince Andrew, this is Middlethorpe Hall's flagship suite.

Historically grand mansions across Britain would always have a room designated for potential visits from the royal family, befitted with the best of the best that the households could afford, even though most of them probably never got used for the intended purpose.

Another pretty bedroom in the main house, with an uninterrupted view of the back garden.  © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

One proud feature of Middlethorpe Hall is its 20 acres of gardens, and the park land that surrounds the house. 

We visited the property in the winter when the grounds were at their dullest, but we were impressed by the numerous quaint little gardens that produce vegetables, fruits as well as a variety of fragrant flowers.

We also saw a ha-ha for the very first time. It's literally just a ditch in the house's back garden, with benches facing out to the countryside for an uninterrupted view of the surrounding greenery. What a perfect setting for watching the sun rise and set!

Middlethorpe Hall特別驕傲的一點就是它佔地20英畝的花園與周邊綠地。我們拜訪的季節是冬天,所以花園的顏色黯淡,不過這裡有許多可愛的小花園,果園和菜園,種滿了蔬菜,水果以及各種芬芳的花朵,讓我們印象深刻。

我們也是第一次看到“哈哈”­。什麼東西有如此好玩的名稱呢? 其實它是指後花園的一個溝,防止農場動物誤入莊園,溝內還設有面向鄉村草原的長凳,是欣賞日出日落的最佳地點。

Garden Ha-ha Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

What is a 

Ha-Ha?

It's a ditch, in the garden.

The name reflects the reaction of unsuspecting visitors when they see the wide trench for the first time. (Haha!)

The ha-ha is designed to keep grazing animals out of the more formal parts of a garden, replacing the need for a fence. 

It also allows an unrestricted view from the house and the garden to the vast countryside beyond. 

A stroll around the back garden awarded us with this view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A walk through the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the kitchen garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sunset view of the surrounding countryside from the back garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Morning mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

The Cottage

Our home away from home.

Travelling as a party of three, the 2-bedroom cottage suite was the ideal choice. Just a short walk away from the main house, our apartment occupied the top floor of the cottage with a master bedroom, a single bedroom, and so much charm!

我們一行三人,爸媽與我,所以兩房的cottage suite是理想的選擇。小屋離主樓只有幾分鐘的步行路程,整個二樓都屬於我們的套房,有一間主臥室與一間單人房,寬敞又安靜。

Our little cottage just meters away from the main house. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A sun-drenched, cozy living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Living room of our cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the living room. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful gas fireplace, a much welcomed feature on cold winter nights. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

I loved our cottage suite. It was an easy climb up the stairs to the first floor (second floor for the rest of the world), and the interior is what I would call English-prettiness -- lots of floral patterns, antique furniture, sketches and paintings depicting bygone times, all in an inviting and comfortable manner. 

The weather was bitingly cold when we visited, and I spent a lot of time by the gas fireplace. Not only because it was cozy and beautiful, but that despite cranking the heat to the maximum, the cottage still felt a bit chilly and never warmed up like a modern-day flat. I guess that was part of the cottage-living experience. :) 

小屋套房的裝潢是我所稱的英式優雅,使用許多花卉圖案,古董家具,描繪過去的時代藝術作品,來打造一個溫馨舒適的環境。

我們來訪時剛好碰上非常寒冷的冬天,客廳裡美麗的燃氣壁爐成為了我離不開的好朋友。老屋子不像現代公寓有中央空調,所以無論暖氣開的多強,總是感覺有點寒冷。這也是鄉間生活的必經體驗吧!

Main bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Haven't seen this type of radio in a long time. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful colors in the main bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Single bedroom in the cottage. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Monogrammed towels, of course. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Another view of the single bedroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Kitchenette with a Nespresso machine. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The cottage has a small, enclosed kitchenette where you'll find a tin of biscuits, English teas and Nespresso coffee. And if you reserve with the front desk the night before, in the morning the butler will bring you fresh coffee on a silver plate, at the break of dawn, so you can properly wake up before going to breakfast. 

我們的套房設有一個小巧廚房,提供餅乾,英式茶和Nespresso咖啡膠囊。你也可以前一晚與櫃台預定,隔天早晨管家就會浩蕩的在黎明時刻送來熱咖啡,幫助客人在早餐前慢慢甦醒。

Morning Coffee Middlethorpe Hall Spa Eileen Hsieh follow that bug York England UK

Morning Coffee/Tea

Delivered to your cottage at the break of dawn by the butler.

So in love with the green tiles in the bathroom. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Main House mist Middlethorpe Hall Spa eileen hsieh followthatbug York England UK

Country House Dining

From sunrise to sundown.

For me, the major incentive of getting up in the morning is food, and nothing beats a freshly cooked Yorkshire breakfast! 

Breakfast and dinner are served in the 2 AA Rosettes restaurant in the main house, with two dining rooms overlooking the serene back garden. The dishes are nice and comforting, and the wait staff delightful. The all look like they've just come out of hospitality school, very professional and eager to ensure that the guests are well-looked after. 

享受現做的約克夏式早餐,是我準時起床主要動機。

早晚餐是由主樓內的2 AA Rosettes級餐廳提供,菜餚美味,環境舒適,俯瞰著寧靜的後花園。這裡的服務生超級可愛,每個都像剛從餐飲學校剛畢業似的,每個動作都非常專業,認真的照顧客人。

Breakfast menu. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Freshly cooked breakfast with a view. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Beautiful hors d'oeuvre that came with our drinks. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

Dinner is ready! © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

What better way to walk off the hearty meal than to trek down the country lanes or explore the famous York Racecourse, located just right across from Middlethorpe Hall. 

I'd also recommend the spa on site to anyone in need of relaxation. It's small and perfectly formed, with a swimming pool, whirlpool and really nice treatments.

吃飽後可以去附近許多的鄉村步道散步消化,酒店的正對面就是著名的約克賽馬場,有很美的天際線。

需要放鬆的話,我推薦去一趟酒店小而美的水療中心,這兒有游泳池,whirlpool和很棒的spa treatments。

The street in front of Middlethorpe Hall, with far-reaching view of the racecourse and surrounded countryside. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That bug

York Racecourse

York Racecourse

York has a steep history in horse racing that can be traced back some 2,000 years to the Roman and Viking times. Today it's one of the most famous racecourses in Europe and the reigning "Northern Racecourse of the Year", attracting 360,000 visitors every year. 


MIDDLETHORPE HALL & SPA

York, England, U.K.

https://www.middlethorpe.com/

Royal Gossip: The Albert Pub of Victoria

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh /  @FollowThatBug

Standing proudly at the crossroads of London's past and present. © Eileen Hsieh / @FollowThatBug

If you've ever done the tourist trail of London's landmarks, you've probably seen this pretty Victorian pub somewhere along the way to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben or Victoria Station. 

The Albert is a Grade II listed pub built in 1862, and the only remaining building from the original phase of the development of Victoria Street. 

It survived the Blitz in World War Two, and still has many original features intact -- ornate ceilings, wrought iron balconies and hand-etched frosted glass windows, etc.

As London Victoria undergoes another phase of regeneration, with endless building work erecting shiny new offices, shops and residential flats on every corner, The Albert continues to coexistence happily with its younger neighbors. 

Including this brand new crossing that begins and ends at its doorstep. ✖️💜

*    *    *    *

Social media can be a very helpful source for curious information.

After I posted the above image, someone pointed out that the windows at The Albert were adorned with engravings allegedly depicting Prince Albert piercings. ("Somewhat X-rated" was the warning I was given.)

Being none the wiser, I threw the question to London Historians - a Twitter account that I follow for random knowledge about the city - already dismissing the claim as an urban legend.

Then came this photo -- "You decide," said the accompanying caption!

What's your first reaction? I can certainly see where the gossip stems from, but I shall pay the pub a visit for a closer examination! 😜

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Window engravings at The Albert pub on Victoria Street. // Courtesy of London Historians

Legacy of a Lonely Baron: Waddesdon Manor | 寂寞男爵的黃金屋:沃德斯敦莊園

Once upon a time, a wealthy and widowed Baron built himself a fairytale castle on a bare hill in rural England.

In it, he filled with the most precious things one could find under the sun: porcelain artefacts with intricate designs, paintings by
masters of the time, exotic birds and flowers from faraway land that people had only heard about but never dreamt of seeing with their own eyes.

He led a life full of opulence and abundance like Aladdin's cave, but no matter how much treasure he acquired, the hollowness he felt inside was never to go away.

This is the story of Ferdinand de Rothschild, and this is his castle. 

從前,有一位富有的守寡男爵在英格蘭農村的山丘上建了一座童話般的城堡。

城堡裡收藏了來自世界各地的珍品:設計細膩的陶瓷,文藝復興時期的藝術真跡,與稀奇古怪的鳥類與花卉,都是人們只從書裡讀過但是從來沒想到能夠親眼目睹的寶物。

他的生活就像阿拉丁的洞穴一樣的富裕,但他內心的空洞是無論再多的寶藏也無法填滿的。

這是費迪南德·羅斯柴爾德的故事,這就是他的城堡。

Waddesdon Manor was built in the style of Loire Valley chateaus, as designed by French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur.  © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

When was the last time you found treasure in your own backyard? 

The moment I stepped onto the grounds of Waddesdon Manor, I knew I'd struck gold. 

Standing in front of this magnificent French Renaissance chateau, one can hardly believe that we are still in England. Buckinghamshire, to be exact, just one hour of train ride from London Marylebone station

你曾經在自己的後院找到寶藏嗎?這就是我第一次踏入沃德斯敦莊園時的感覺。

站在這棟宏偉,仿新文藝復興時期法國盧瓦河沿岸城堡而建的豪宅之前,真的幾乎不能相信我們還在英國國土。

事實是我們來到了白金漢郡,距離倫敦的馬里波恩火車站只有短短一小時的車程,可算是倫敦的後花園吧?

The Parterre at Waddesdon Manor has 50,000 plants, and the bedding is usually changed twice a year, in spring and summer. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Waddesdon Manor was built in the late 19th century by Ferdinand de Rothschild - a member of the prominent banking dynasty - as a country house, a weekend playground to entertain friends and family who wanted to escape London during the summer months.

A passionate collector of arts and artefacts, Waddesdon Manor also served as the perfect backdrop to display his vast collection of treasures from around the world, from old master paintings, exquisite miniatures, to furniture, porcelain and tapestries from the French Court.

Rothschild only purchased the best of the best. In 1882 he famously spent £6,300 on a Riesener writing desk made for France's Marie Antoinette, which would be worth around £530,000 today. And this was certainly not his most expensive acquisition.

沃德斯敦莊園建於19世紀末,是男爵費迪南德·德·羅斯柴爾德的鄉間別墅,平時只有夏季開放,時常在週末招待來自倫敦來的上流社會貴賓,其中包括了維多利亞女王和邱吉爾。

「羅斯柴爾德」這個姓氏你可能有聽過,這位男爵就是著名的猶太紅盾金融世家的一成員,家財萬貫,從小就對收集藝術品情有獨鍾,因此沃德斯敦莊園很自然地成為了他展示收藏品的舞台。

莊園裡處處可見法國18世紀的掛毯,牆壁鑲板,家具,陶瓷,繪畫,以及文藝復興時期的藝術作品。費迪南德只購買極品,而且花錢不眨眼,1882年他以6,300英鎊天價買下了一張為法國的瑪麗·安托瓦內斯皇后所製作的小書桌,換算今日的價值約530,000英鎊

男爵熱愛花與鳥,因此花園與鳥園也成為了訪客必參觀的景點。

The dining room, with table laid as it would've been for a house party in the 1890s. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

The china service display includes pieces originally own by the French court. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Baron Rothschild had great love for portraits of beautiful women, as well as chandeliers. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

In addition to planting a grand chateau in the English countryside, the baron was also credited for creating the lush landscape surrounding Waddesdon Manor today.

The legend might have exaggerated when it boasted that Rothschild had planted one million trees on his estate of 2,700 acres, but the result of his vision is undeniably impressive. 

費迪南德興建沃德斯敦莊園,替英格蘭鄉間注入了一股法式浪漫情懷,他也創造了今日莊園周圍鬱鬱蔥蔥的夢幻景觀。

傳說他在佔地2,700英畝的莊園種植了一百萬棵樹,雖然可能誇大其實,但是成果真是令人驚艷。

Sunset at Waddesdon Estate. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Mature trees are plenty on the estate. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Wildflowers on the meadow. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Today the Waddesdon Estate has expanded to 6,000 acres and offers some of the most stunning trails in all of England.

On my 5-mile walk from the village of Stone to Waddesdon Manor, my senses are mesmerized by a wave of pleasantry... giant trees soaring into the sky, fragrant meadows carpeted with wildflowers, and farm animals on the gentle hills exercising their limbs and enjoying their lunch.

今日,沃德斯敦莊園已經擴大到6,000英畝,擁有當地居民號稱是英格蘭數一數二的鄉村美景。

從我住的小村莊 Stone,有一條5英里的步道直通到沃德斯敦莊園的入口。路程中偶爾會看到行車和出來遛狗的居民,但大部分時間都只有大自然陪伴著我。

比天還高的樹林,開滿了野花的草原,和農場上悠哉吃草的牛羊馬兒,四處都是令人陶醉的景色,我一路深呼吸,停停走走,試著捕捉這如童話般的完美感覺。

A view of the rose garden. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

A very English rose, in red and white. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Running a manor of such a grand scale was never to be an easy or inexpensive task, so to keep the property from the possible fate of declining, the Rothschild family bequeathed Waddesdon Manor to the National Trust in 1957, along with some 160-acre of land surrounding it, to ensure proper care of the property for all to enjoy for generations to come.

Scroll down for access information and a photo tour of this wonderful time capsule. Enjoy!

Eileen x

經營如此大規模的莊園不是一件容易的事,開銷也不是常人可勝任的。所以羅斯柴爾德家族於1957年將沃德斯敦莊園以及周圍約160英畝的土地遺贈給國家信託基金,確保男爵費迪南德以及家族成員所收藏的無價之寶能得到適當的保護,同時也開放給大眾參觀,讓羅斯柴爾德家族的輝煌歷史流傳下去。

沃德斯敦莊園是個美麗的時間膠囊,值得一訪。

以下是我的相簿與莊園參觀訊息。Enjoy!

Eileen x


Picture Gallery


Waddesdon Manor | 沃德斯敦莊園

AYLESBURY, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, HP18 0JH, UNITED KINGDOM DIRECTIONS

https://waddesdon.org.uk/


ADMISSION: 

Free for National Trust members

House & Grounds Access - £20 Adult / £10 Child / £45 Family 

Grounds Only - £10 adult / £5 Child / £25 Family 

House visits are by timed entry, including for National Trust members. Book House Tickets Here

If you’re travelling by train, you can download a 2for1 grounds admission voucher to use on arrival: 2for1 grounds admission voucher

EASY ACCESS FROM LONDON:

Regular trains run from London Marylebone to Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

There's one daily free shuttle bus service between Aylesbury Vale Parkway station and Waddesdon Manor. Click here for details.

 

 

Turning the World Upside Down - My InstaReflection

Westminster Abbey at sunset, after the rain. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

This image is the product of a combination of minor frustrations. And how I love it. 💙

Westminster Abbey at sunset, with soft sunlight caressing its facade, is a serene beauty. As I approach the spot where the building can be viewed in full, I discover that my perfect shot has some unwelcome guests - cars parked on the roadside, and puddles everywhere. 🚙 💦 

Up until now, I’ve taken countless pictures of the Abbey and they all look fairly similar — postcard worthy, maybe, and also run of the mill. 

Not today. 😊

“Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” - Wisdom of Rumi. ✨

Have you ever had to flip your world up side down? And how did it make your feel?

Eileen x

We Are London - My InstaReflection

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

You may break our bodies, but you will never break our spirit.

On March 22, 2017, London joined several other major European cities in becoming a target for extremists using vehicle as a killing machine. 

In the heart of British politics, in broad daylight, a car rammed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and the assailant tried to force his way into parliament. Five people died as result of the attack, including one police officer.

Londoners had been bracing for an imminent attack for quite a while, so many of us were not completely taken by surprise when the incident took place. The real hero here were the Met Police, who dealt with the situation swiftly and contained the damage to a minimum. 

It's noteworthy to point out that it was just in November 2016 that the New Scotland Yard moved into its new headquarters right next to parliament's Portcullis House, with a clear view of Westminster Bridge and the Thames. 

As this article states, Scotland Yard is on the front doorstep of London life. To me, it's also a pillar of the city, keeping us safe and free to go about enjoying our lives in the great British capital.

Eileen x

Pay It Forward - My InstaReflection

St. James's Park, London. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

St. James's Park, London. © Eileen Hsieh / Follow That Bug

Pay it forward, because it will always come back in the end.

As to what will be reciprocated, that is your own choice.

Every so often, I hear from people who feel belittled or ignored just for being their genuine selves. Kindness gets taken for granted or even trampled on, and they feel like everyday is a struggle just to be who they are and not who they should pretend to be. 

If this describes you, I just want to say... you may not know this yet, but sometime in the not-so-distant future, you will become the "good egg" that people aspire to be.

And don't think of it as a struggle, because if something comes naturally to you, lifts your spirit and makes even just one other person happy, then embrace it -- it will hug you back. 😊

Eileen x