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Notting Hill

Last week I rewatched one of my favourite films Notting Hill and can’t quite believe that I saw it in the cinema over 20 years ago! Being a huge Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant fan, this is a great choice of film for a relaxing day off.

The story is centres on travel bookshop owner Will Thacker and starts as he meets Hollywood movie star Anna Scott who walks into his Notting Hill book shop. The two have an on again/off again romance throughout the film with many touching, funny and heart-warming moments about life, love and friendship along the way.

At numerous points in the film, Will, when faced with issues, can often take the approach of “worst things happen at sea” in order to encourage the other to gain perspective. This is a common approach – aligning well with the ‘stiff upper lip’ persona of English culture. Although offering additional perspective is a good and helpful thing when experiencing life’s difficulties, it is still important not to dimmish a person’s struggles in comparison to other peoples. At its most benign, this probably won’t help the person in need (how helpful is being told “stop moaning – there are people starving in Africa” or “Some people would kill to have the life you lead”?), but this can have far worse consequences – devaluing a person and undermining them.

In one of my favourite scenes form the film, Anna is invited to the birthday dinner of Will’s sister. During this evening each character has the opportunity to nominate themselves to have the last brownie slice by competing to be crowned the ‘biggest loser’.

In this brief, touching scene, each individual shares their fears, disappointments and worries with those around the table. The others, for their part, listen and offer support and kindness to each other. They don’t fall into the traps of belittling the issues, or forcing over their advice or solutions.

The very heart of this film is its ability to show what true friendships are. Friendships take time, effort and a huge amount of understanding on both sides. Being able to offer support, kindness and sincerity to each other as we go through life is a precious gift we can give to all our friends. If you know a friend is struggling, try to sit with them and show they are not alone. It is likely they would value being listened to more than having advice provided to them!

It would be very unusual to make it through life without coming across hardship and difficulties. We all need someone we can trust to share our burdens with. Relationships can provide comfort through the painful times as well as joy in the happy times.

Most of us will also go through a time where the support of our friends isn’t enough, or where we are supporting our friends or family so much we need some support of our own. That’s OK too – counsellors are trained to offer support and help you through any situation, without you feeling judged or belittled. If you want to see if Cherry Tree Counselling can help you, please e-mail


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