Posted in Family, Medical, Miscarriage, Women's Issues

Snow Angel

I wrote this on Facebook, almost a year ago:

❄️Snow Angel❄️

In the middle of Thursday night, during intermittent bouts of sleep in an unfamiliar room watching a blizzard through a large window overlooking an unfamiliar town, a hundred thoughts running through my head, one thought settled. A memory, reminding me of one of my favourite ‘Read it Yourself’ books from when I was about 6. It was “Heidi”. Heidi had a friend, called Clara. I had thought for some time after that, that one day, I’d have a daughter named Clara.

Through the mists of time, I forgot about this. (The name, in fact, was even discounted from the ‘maybe girls’ list when we were expecting F in 2013, purely because of disliking the character with that name on Doctor Who.)

As soon as I had recalled the memory from reading Heidi, I suddenly knew after the weeks of um-ing and ah-ing, that the baby in my womb was a girl.

To everyone else, Thursday morning was their first Snow day, where schools had been pre-emptively closed due to possible snow, and everyone was warned to stay home unless your journey was necessary. Richie had even been sent home from work.

When I noticed bleeding some time between 9am & 1130, and phoning the midwives, our journey to A&E became necessary.

During Triage, and waiting, and minor injuries, and even being taken up to Emergency Pregnancy Assessment Unit, everyone right up to the Consultant, were saying it was probably a UTI.

Until they tracked someone down who could effectively use the ancient ultrasound. She couldn’t find a heartbeat.

After a blur, I was given the first pill to begin a medically assisted miscarriage, but by all accounts, the bleeding and the pains meant by body had already begun the process of its own accord.

Usually, someone given this pill, would then be sent home for 48 hours and then brought back in for further treatment to encourage the process.

However, due to the weather and the distance home, they weren’t willing to let me go honme, in case I couldn’t get back after 48 hours. So I was admitted.

After an arduous first night of little sleep, crazy over-active brain waves; a lonely Friday of watching more blizzards and idiots trying to push each others cars down a side Street, and trying to distract my brain by reading a detective novel on my Kindle, Friday night came with stronger pains, and various forms of pain medication before I could get some rest. And I slept pretty soundly from 9.30pm through till about 3am, when pain returned and woke me. I went to the toilet, and by the time I got back to my bed the pains were getting worse. My moans woke hubby, who although grieving too, has been a rock, sleeping on the floor next to me, called the nurses, and I immediately got put back on a painkiller drip and various injections. The severe pain started to subside so I could feel slightly lucid again. It was then that I could feel movement without being distracted by pain, & knew she was coming.

At 3.30 Saturday morning, 3rd March 2018, we became parents to a tiny girl, who we named Clara Elizabeth. We got to spend some time with her. At 17 weeks she was pretty much fully formed. She was brought in in a small covered basket with tiny handmade blankets and a yellow handmade teddy. I could see the image of the boys in her tiny facial features.

I never needed the second treatment. I was kept in all day Saturday so they could monitor my bleeding, but after a chat with my lovely nurse about ‘arrangements’ for Clara, I was collected by hubby & our boys around 5pm. I had been very much looking forward to going home. Now I’m home, without my little girl.

It is painful to talk about. And think about. And live with in general. At the moment it’s very raw. This past 3 days has felt like a week. But I don’t want to pussyfoot around and not tell anyone.

Many of you knew I was pregnant so it’s only fair to update you that I’m no longer pregnant, and of course you’d then be curious as to the circumstances.

Those who already know and have sent messages, thank you. Each one has started us crying again, but it’s far more comforting to know that you care. ”

 

There was more. But I edited it for publication to friends on Facebook.

I had messages in the comments, and yet more messages in private.  Most of the private messages were from people who’d been through the same thing, or it had affected them in some way (dads, grandparents).

What struck me was the number of people I knew who had had it happen to them.  And I never knew.

Some of the lonliest moments in that hospital bed staring out at the snow was how lonely I felt.  How was I ever going to be able to talk about this; when no one I knew had been through it?

And then I found out how many HAD and would have an idea of how I felt.

And despite still crying; and still feeling a twinge when I meet another baby or pregnant person – knowing full well it’s not their fault that I feel bad; I know that I’m not alone.

And that I had previously dismissed babyloss as something that would never happen to me; or most people I knew.  I had miscarried some 13 years ago but at something like 4 weeks, very early, without even knowing I’d been pregnant anyway.  I’d managed to dismiss that and had since felt that’s what it was like for everyone. Now I know it’s not and that once you are expecting, that baby is real; and any loss is as painful as losing any other child of yours x

We hadn’t been trying for a baby.  We hadn’t been planning any more.  I was 17 weeks gone when I lost Clara.  She had been around long enough to condition us into expecting a baby.  We had begun to plan and check what baby stuff we still had and what we needed to get.  We began looking out for bargains.  And yes, I had bought a few small things in sales.

When I had recovered a little more we decided to try again.

By August I was pregnant again. This time…I started bleeding again at 9 weeks. Brown, old blood.  My GP referred me to gynae.  They checked and said it was old blood from somewhere.  It was ok.  They did a scan, and although measuring a week or so less than I thought; my cervix was closed and the sac was there.  I was sent home to rest.

The next morning I got up and large blood clots the size of golf balls were gushing out.  I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes without soaking a pad.  By  the time I had to go and get the boys from school I couldn’t leave the bathroom; so called my mother in tears.  She rushed to get the children and brought them home.  As soon as she saw the blood, she called an ambulance.

They rushed me to hospital, straight to gynae again rather than a&e while I fainted in the back.

I was admitted and put on fluids.  By 2am the consultant on duty decided she couldn’t leave me continuing to bleed as much as I was; so I was taken down for an emergency D&C.

And yet, no-one will investigate causes of miscarriages until I’ve had at least 3 in a row…

And that’s the story of most of my 2018.

HAVE YOU BEEN AFFECTED BY MISCARRIAGE OR BABY LOSS? GET HELP:

https://babyloss-awareness.org/

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

https://www.sands.org.uk

 

 

Posted in Family, Healthy, Home, Life, Medical, Miscarriage, Women's Issues

The Baby Room.

Today, I cleared out the baby room.

We hadn’t been trying for children.  We have children.  They’re fab and amazing.  I was 30 when I gave birth to the first one. I’m almost 40. I never said never again, mind you; we had baby stuff from the younget gathering dust in the attic; I hadn’t quite decided whether to get rid of it yet.

Having said that, it was still a bit of a shock to discover just before Christmas that I was pregnant.  It took me a couple of weeks of worry and consideration before I actually started getting excited about it.  We wouldn’t have told anyone until much later except that my dad was visiting – he lives a long way away and we don’t see him often.  We considered for a while but realised it might be nicer to tell him in person, rather than wait until the ‘safe’ 12 week mark – where the chances of miscarriage drop dramatically; and then tell him over the phone. And of course, telling him meant having to tell other people, so word got around.

Of course, I tried not to get *too* excited until the 12 week mark. But we got some of the stuff down from the aattic.  Well, we were up there anyway putting the Christmas decorartions away. We had baby stuff ‘donated’ to us immediately by family as soon as they found out. The magic 12-week mark came and went and all was fine.  And the smallest bedroom – too small even for a single bed – became ‘the baby room’.  Not neccessarily a nursery; just where we were putting all the baby stuff for now, as I went through it; checking if it was usable; cleaning stuff; preparing, as much as was possible.  It wasn’t neccessarily a room for *this* baby.  It was just a room to keep the baby stuff in; that we intended to fashion into some kind of nursery; when the time came.

Well, the time isn’t coming.   At 17 weeks, I suffered what’s known as a ‘late miscarriage’.  This is because it happened in the second trimester.  Had she made it to the third trimester it would have been counted as stillbirth.

Either way, She won’t be joining our family.

When I was in hospital, hubby asked if there was anything he should do, like sort out the baby stuff and clear the room away. I said no.

It didn’t upset me at the time. I had other stuff upsetting me enough than random baby stuff.

Because that’s all it is.  It didn’t upset me when I came home.  And even since, going in to that room and seeing baby stuff is still not  a trigger for me.  Not like the small teddy they brought in with her when they’d cleaned her up for me to spend time with; or the tiny urn that now contains her ashes; or the rose bush in her name that some friends very thoughfully sent us.

It’s just a room with baby items in it.  Crib, Cot, pram, clothes, toys, nappies (no, I didn’t ”stock up”…I use cloth one. They’ve been passed down from the others.)

It wasn’t ever ‘HER’ room….until the miscarriage we didn’t even know if she was a boy or a girl; so that made it hard to marry up the posessions with the coming baby.   She never spent a night in it, so that didn’t make it ‘HER’ room, either.

It hasn’t been left untouched.  The airing cupboard is in there, so I am in and out regularly getting clean towels and putting some away.

I’ve not been avoiding it.  Sometimes I’ve gone in just to sit quietly in the rocking chair. And it doesn’t upset me.  For one thing, they’re all items that we’ve used before for the other three. So nothing in there was bought exclusively for this baby anyway.

So when I went in there to clear away some space to use as storage space for some of the camping gear that’s coming out to hand ready for the summer; it was just like tidying any other room.

Now, the baby stuff is still there; but instead of laid out carefully organised, the cot and crib have been folded away and clothes and baby blankets folded up and stored, and the new tent is in there waiting for the summer camping trip.

Now, of course it would make more sense to put the baby things away completely – to put them back up in the attic or start giving them away or taking to second-hand shops and so on; but her surprise existence, although a shock initially, has got us into the expectation that there might actually be another addition to the family.  We’d got used to the idea, purely because of her existence; when we hadn’t even been planning her or trying for her.  So for now, they’re staying in the baby room.  And we may pay a little more attention to trying.

At first, I was scared to say anything about trying again.  It seemed to me that people would think another one would be a replacement for the one we lost.  It’s not.  She wasn’t planned, nor was she expected.  But a new baby now would be her legacy.  A new baby now wouldn’t have existed if she hadn’t forced her existence upon us.

So today, I’ve sorted out the baby room.  The smallest room.  I’ve not cleared it.  It’s a store room.  Full of things ready for when they’re needed.

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Creative, Family

Follow these 8 steps to the PERFECT Chocolate Brownies!

I won’t take credit for this recipe.  It’s my go-to brownie recipe after accidentally stumbling upon it on a can of cocoa a few years ago in New Zealand.

I think it’s worth publishing here because I lost it once and it took me ages to track it down online, after the brand was a) no longer displaying the recipe and b) wasn’t available in the shops around where I was anyway.

It’s attributed to a Nestle Baking Cocoa can label, 25-09-08.

It’s not healthy, but they are lovely and chocolately and stodgy.  And there are certain times when healthy eating and diets just need to go out of the window. These are highly recommended for those times x

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
150g butter
1 cup cocoa
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
¾ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 packet White Choc Bits

  • Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa, then allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  • Beat in the eggs.
  • Stir in the sugar and vanilla essence.
  • Add the sifted flour and baking powder and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Stir the white chocolate bits through, then turn the mixture into a baking paper base-lined 27cm x 18cm.
  • Bake at160°Cfor45-50 minutes or until just firm when pressed in the centre.
  • Leave in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out on to a rack.
  • When cold, cut into bars and dust with extra cocoa, if desired.
Posted in Family, History, Home, Life

27 Addresses

I was in the supermarket the other night on my way home, picking up some last minute stuff.  It was quiet.  Almost closing time.  Two men behind me at the only open check-out knew each other, and began chatting as acquaintances do who haven’t seen each other for a little while. One told the other they’d just moved house and bemoaned some of the things that go along with it.  The other responded with “I moved house, once. Never again”

Once???? I’ve recently moved for the 27th time.

Just for clarity, I’m counting any address where I lived, made my own beds, bought my own food, (unless too young and my mum was doing said things for me) received mail – so that it doesn’t count as a ‘holiday’ (or vacation if you want to be mutli-national about it).

There’s no one set reason. I wasn’t an ‘army brat’ whose parent or parents were in the military and so we moved bases regularly.  I wasn’t born into a tribe of Romany travellers or some nomadic tribe in Timbuctu.  There were (are?) all sorts of reasons.

The first was that my mum & dad grew up in different parts of the country.  They bought their first married home in *his* region; but when his job took him away a lot and mum found herself alone for long periods with a baby, it made more sense for the family home to be near to *her* family; so when I was 2 we moved house back to her home town.

I count being at sea as being “somewhere I lived”, so that’s one of the 27 places.  Even though we went back and forth a LOT of times, and on different ships; I can’t really separate the memories of different voyages, but they all lasted for months.  Besides, any mail we received (and this is why I’ve counted it…I remember a helicopter landing on board out at sea once, near Christmas, and “Santa” getting off and handing a sack to the crew member who’d gone out to meet him) would have been addressed to the same shipping office address and then forwarded on.

We moved house again, after my little sister was born, so I would have been 7; and as a family of 5, with a nanny, we were outgrowing our 3-bed terrace; besides, Dad had ‘made Captain’ so I’m assuming the income was better.

After that…well, it’s difficult to track the amount of time spent in each place.  My parents divorced and we left the bigger house.  We moved in with mum’s boyfriend.  Then we moved in with her next boyfriend….and so it went for a while.  Rentals, with or without boyfriends. Then after a few years she remarried and I thought, finally…a bit of stability…

Alas, that was not to be. They decided to go into business as a pub-management couple and so we lived above various pubs, moving around a few as the tenancies ended or whatever other reasons we were moved. Then it was convenience stores…we lived above/behind two of those.

Then I went to university; and so I moved…this time into a house share with 3 other students.  And eventually my dog – but dog-tales is probably another post…

My next ‘move’ was Camp America.  My first time abroad on my own and first visit to the USA. OK so it wasn’t *technically* a move, since I was on a student/temp work visa to work in the USA for the summer; but I did receive mail there during the few months I spent in Iowa. (Mum, and a friend, both sent ‘care packages’ – a collection of sweets/foods from home!  remember, these were days before everything was global; there were far more brands that remained local and hadn’t yet breached human borders. Although one bag of jelly sweets mum sent had congealed – the package must have been left in a warm place, maybe out in the sun at the cargo depot in between flights, but they’d then gelled back together into one big lump of multicoloured jelly sweet.  it was quite amusing.  And difficult to eat!!).  and if it counts, I then traveled down to Brazil to stay with Dad for a few weeks, although I’ve included that in this whole summer experience as 1 move.

After that, mum left husband#2 and we moved to a small rented terrace; which was quite sweet, really.  And a nice location.  It was close to where I ended up working for the next 10+ years and I cycled to work regularly.  Also accessible to nightlife and shopping and public transport. And my grandparents – they were in walking/cycling distance so I could pop round when I felt like it.   Mum eventually moved back with husband#2 and I took over the rental of the little terrace.  And I was so happy to finally have a place of my own, I was there for a good few years.  I hadn’t learned to drive up until that point and didn’t see the need to living there either.  I was dispatching airplanes for a living, and completing loadsheets, and even had a couple of flying lessons but couldn’t drive a car!

Then I met my husband-to-be.  Once it seemed we were to ‘settle down’ together he brought up the idea of buying our own place.  We searched around and even though my preference was to stay in my home town, we found a new build (His preference…I’ve always prefered older houses), up in the valleys, that was still to be built but the plot looked amazing and the showhome was a similar style…we bought it off plan the same day and it transpired that I would need to drive in order to get to work, so the driving lessons began in earnest.

And I kept saying, over and over, I was only moving again because this would be the last time I moved.  We would put our stamp on this new home and stay there. It was sizeable, bigger than we would have been able to afford down in my home town (houses in the valleys invariably are at the lower end of the house-price range), and there was a playpark, and a school nearby…we figured, not that we had set plans, but if children of our own came along, we would grow into the house and the area.

And then…one strange evening, he got a phone call in the middle of the night from a company in New Zealand asking if he’d like to come and work for them…

It wasn’t a decision we took lightly.  I mean, who gets a call like that out of  the blue from a country you’ve never been let alone ever considered living in?  It took us a while, but we thought, hey why not?  And once again…I promised my self: last-time

Of course, then there were a few address changes when we first got there. He went out first as he had to start work; I followed after I had worked my notice and packed up the house to be shipped over (since the new company had given him a relocation allowance…otherwise it’s a very expensive undertaking!  Even then, it pretty much ate up anything we had – which wasn’t much.).  They had put him up in a city waterfront apartment to begin with for his first 4 weeks, to get a foothold while he started work and had a chance to look around.  Then he found a small bedsit in the city for when I arrived.  To be honest, it was a nice little place.  Very basic, and all our own stuff was in storage.  But it was nice, kind of freeing, to be living with very few belongings for a while. But we had a container of stuff arriving, so we needed to think about renting an actual house.  So we found one.  And moved in.  And the stuff arrived. And then he heard from someone in work about other ex-pats on the same visa as us (work-to-residency) who had managed to get mortgages.  So, we found a nice place and bought again.  So we moved.  Luckily before having unpacked the boxes of stuff!

And we got a dog.  And I found out I was pregnant. And I looked out at the view from our balcony regularly and told myself, again, that this was the last time, that I would stay here and settle down…

After I had the second child, Other half was getting itchy feet again and was browsing jobs…and was really taken by an ad he’d seen for his role…but in The Bahamas.  I rolled my eyes.  Thinking it was a long shot I just nodded and said ‘go for it’ when he asked if he should apply. Not such a long shot as it turned out; he was offered the job…and after that there was very little chance of him being persuaded to turn it down. It was a 2-year contract ‘with a view to extend’.

wp_20170404_10_03_39_pro-e1491300006946.jpg

There had been a suggestion discussed that I would stay in NZ with the children and he could send money back, at least to begin with.  But I didn’t really have that much fight left in me by this point, and couldn’t see myself being here alone with children. And I asked for reassurance that there was little chance of this actually only being a 2-year contract and a high possibility that it WOULD be extended? Yes, of course!  Why would they let him go after spending all that on relocation and so on and so forth…

So, just short of 5 years after arriving in New Zealand, we all went.  We packed up…again….with another relocation allowance.  We flew to LA.  Stayed there a couple of nights to wait for the dog (She wasn’t allowed to fly Air NZ so we had to collect her off a Qantas flight at LAX). Then we used a little of the relocation allowance to take a 2-week road trip across the States from LA to Huston, from where we could get a short hopper-flight to The Bahamas with the dog in the cabin.  I’d investigated different routes and options and this seemed the best option to lessen the stress of shipping and flight-changes and different cargo handlers the dog would have to endure in order to get straight to Nassau.  Plus it gave us a bit of a holiday. And it was pretty long and involved a lot of sleeping.  And we did normal regular life things like visiting vets (The dog had 2 separate import events – NZ to USA then exported US to Bahamas as there was no direct route; so we had to get vet checks and certificates from a US vet to OK her travel to the Bahamas for them to issue an import certificate and registration…)

And then…Again, the company had secured us accommodation to begin with so we could settle in while we looked around.  Then Hubby got talking to a guy…who struck me as dodgy immediately, but he assured hubby all was above board, and we rented a rather stylish penthouse apartment from him.  At about 30% the price he’d originally been advertising it for…

…a few months later after we’d moved to an actual house in a gated community, hubby got talking to someone who had been a neighbour in the swish apartment block…turned out the building was stolen and the guy had no business renting out apartments to anyone!!

Taught me to trust my gut instincts again…

I became pregnant again.  Now, considering we’d gone 5-6 years of, well, not necessarily ‘trying’ but then, not really taking any preventative measures, before moving to NZ, and nothing happened, (well, there was that one miscarriage but let’s not get into that), before no1 came along we’d kind of resigned to the fact that they never were.  And now, here was the third… Maybe it was the environments we were living in? The local foods?  And so, no3 was born in The Bahamas.

And then…his contract wasn’t extended.  There had been a general election while we were there.  The opposition got in, and immediately started making changes, as new governments are wont to do.  One of their policies was to strengthen the ‘jobs for Bahamians’ policies.  So, although it was nigh-on impossible for a foreigner to get a work-permit for Bahamas (I was allowed to live there as a spouse of a worker but only on a non-working resident visa), in cases where technical specialists, or highly skilled workers were required, then exceptions were made.  Now, it was even harder for those exceptions to get passed.  The company CEO was a Canadian.  His 2-year visa was up 6 months before hubby’s.  The company were having so much trouble trying to get a visa for their C.E.O that they took one look at hubby and thought they couldn’t even be bothered trying to apply for his…and so, we were off again.  Except, not sure where to…

Hubby had been chatting to an engineer on the other end of his cable network…in Miami, Florida.  He was invited to interview, and was given reason to believe a job was being offered to him.  He was emailed advice on which US visa to apply for and so on and so forth (they were very careful about the wordings of their emails and contacts…) and we started looking for homes and schools and details on living in Florida… and two weeks before we were due to go over; the company in Miami turned around and said, in basic terms: ‘actually, we’re not offering you a job…’.

So, we ditched the US visa application.  (We were going to get it anyway having already paid the non-refundable application fee; y’know, just in case it came in handy coz one of us was going to need a job before long and it couldn’t hurt to have it; but when we went in for our appointment, the snooty, self-important embassy staff were so rude and condescending – our photos were the wrong colour or the wording of something was wrong – I just took one look at hubby, and having had far too much stress and experiences of international visa applications and jumping through other people’s hoops over the years, I said, “let’s go, I can’t be bothered with this, we don’t need it.” and walked out, leaving a stunned desk clerk.  As though she’d not witnessed anyone turning down a US visa before?! Come to think of it, she probably hadn’t…coz everyone’s desperate to be American, right?)

We couldn’t go back the NZ because we’d left just shy of being able to convert our ‘returning resident’ visas into ‘permanent resident’ visas.  (The children were born as UK citizens as we weren’t ‘returning or permanent residents’ when they were born so didn’t qualify to be Kiwi…more money we didn’t have being poured away trying to get NZ birth certificates to get UK passports to get NZ visas put in them…Oh, and they charge you more for a UK passport if you’re not in the UK applying for them.)

There was nothing for it than to return to the UK.  Although with nowhere to live (having sold up and emigrated…remember?!) we were at the mercy of family and friends.  Hubby cashed in some pension fund he had to see us through for the first few weeks.  We lived in his mum’s 1 bedroom flat with her for a short while. We moved in with my mum for a short while but needed to get out.  By this time no1 was nearing 5 years of age and I’d already searched info and found that legally in the UK children must be enrolled in full-time education at age 5 (even though they *can* start younger in a lot of areas, it’s not compulsory until age 5.  just thought I’d clarify because a friend was adamant that because her daughter had started school age 3 that it was compulsory.  It’s not.)

So, we rented a house from a friend of a friend, and I found the nearest Welsh-medium primary school and no1 & no2 started there.  Mainly because, despite moving school countless times myself, growing up, I went through school in Welsh and this is what I know.  So I was more comfortable with them having that education, knowing I could help as much as I could.  (Plus it’s giving me a LOT of practice speaking Welsh!).  In fact, had we stayed in NZ and they’re grown up there, that would have been my one regret, that they couldn’t have a Welsh educational background.

Speaking of moving schools; now that they’re there (no3 started there in January too) I am ADAMANT that they will not change schools.  Of all the memories of my childhood, good and bad, one of the experiences I hate the most is being made to change schools. Multiple times.  I refuse to subject my own children to that.  So for now, at least, while they’re in school, we will stay in the same area. Having said that….we’re now on our 3rd rented property in the same area since we were moved on from mum’s.

Although we’d eventually like to buy this one, and stay for ever (so much so that I’ve started tending the garden with a vigour for gardening I’ve not had since that first new-build we bought over in the other valley…purely because I haven’t felt like investing the time and hard work in the other places thinking I wouldn’t be around long enough to reap the benefits) … we (as in hubby & I) have said that before…and for various reasons we’ve had to move on.  And I’m losing more of my resolve to put up a fight each and every time.

What would be REALLY nice, though, is if the universe & its powers-that-be, can agree with me, and realise that 27 really is a good number to finish on.  So, Stop now.  Let me be settled.

x

Posted in Creative, Family, Home, Life

Seeking The Good Life

 (…or, how would we continue to live after a zombie apocalypse?)

In accordance with the parenthood-induced-paranoia of my last post, and constantly worrying about what goes into our food, I’m increasingly interested in all things related to natural, sustainable living.  My guiding principle in this endeavour being, what if the unthinkable happened (Zombie apocalypse, world-order collapse etc.) and there were NO MORE SHOPS??? (Or cars, or farms…well..ok, there might be some quite healthy farmers laughing at the rest of us but they might live too far away from home to be able to pop over – without a car – for an egg and a side of beef…and how would we pay them?)

There was a TV show on when I was little.  Well, it was being repeated when I was little – it was produced originally before I was born.  It was called “The Good Life“.  Many readers will remember it.  For those that don’t, modern couple in Surbiton ditch their city-jobs and ‘modern life’ and decide to become self-sufficent, living off their garden and things they can make and grow and produce themselves. (My sister lives there, in Surbiton, now…can’t see her living like that though…)

Today, I planted a cherry tree and an apple tree in my front garden.  I also did a bit more weeding and planting in the flower bed just outside the back door.  It’s tough going – it’s been left wild for seemingly years to what used to be a flower bed was solid grass and dandelions before I began.

I planted some strawberries in tubs.  Time will tell but last time I tried strawberries they were rescued from B&Q for 50p per plant at the end of the season before being dumped by them.  By the following year I had a bumper crop.  It may have had something to do with the copious amounts of Miracle-Gro I was using.  Still, it gave me the confidence that I could actually produce something.  Then we moved.  And moved again…and again… (Again, another post…) and so the effort I had put in to that garden has never really come back to me.  Until recently when we moved again and this house, well, this one seems right…

I’d prefer to be doing this chemical free.  Of course.  I do not use weed-killers. of any kind.  I believe the safest and most effective way of removing weeds is..well..to remove them.  Dig up the roots and all and get rid of the whole thing completely,  And no poisons left behind to seep to your other plants.  I’m not much of a scientific gardeer; following rules and testing soil samples and paying attention to acidity levels and all that.  So far I’ve just been a fair-weather plant-it-and-see kind of gardener.  learning by trial and error and giving a bit of care and attention. Because I haven’t had to rely on the results…

Where did it start?:
It’s not a new interest of mine.  I grew up, as I’m sure many of us millennials did, with a grampy & great-grampy whose gardens were mostly given over to cultivating their own foodstuffs for the family.  Vines of beans and peas, greenhouses full of weird and wonderful scents and sights; and the weekly bribe of “ah, but they’re from grampy’s garden” over Sunday lunch to guilt us in to eating our veg.  (It always worked and I’ve been a keep veg&fruit eater since). It’s always been obvious to me that it’s perfectly natural that part of your garden is used for growing food.  In fact, I watch some of the more recent crop of ‘reality’ shows on TV, teaching people how to save money on their groceries, or eat a healthier diet, or a combination of the two, healthier cheaper supermarket shopping, and am at a loss to understand the pre-made roast potatoes and Yorkshire  puddings and the pre-grated cheese; the sauces-from-jars-or-packets and every other over-processed convenience food; the throwing away of the ridiculous over-stocks of fresh foods when it was clear they’d bought too much for them to consume within the time-frame of freshness…and I wonder whether these people are real…was there no hint during their childhood of what was in their food?  Did their mothers and grandmothers not involve them in the cooking & baking (and the washing up)?  Didn’t they pick their own peas from great-grampy’s garden and eat them fresh straight from the pod before even going inside?  Did they honestly think the only way to get lasagne was to buy it ready-prepared in the freezer section?

To me, having the space, even a small patch, in a garden, at your home, to grow at least something edible, is a normal part of life.

The Duck Collection:
We have a duck collection. (Rubber ducks, I might add). I think it would take a whole other post to explain the background to it; but suffice to say, it’s now the theme of our bathroom.

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( just *some* of the duck collection & theme, in our old bathroom)

Since that began, it’s always been at the back of my mind that I’d like to own ducks. Real ones, I mean.  As pets/domestic animals, partly, and partly to provide a fresh supply of eggs (and general amusement).  Actually, I say since then, I actually mean, since there was a 4-legged duck born in the UK, randomly, who became famous and made the news.  I looked him up on the internet (in it’s early days back then I suppose) and discovered that the farm where he was born also supplied ducks.  And they weren’t overly expensive either. And the seed was sewn…if they were that easy to get hold of, how difficult is it to look after them…? So I’ve been researching and procrastinating ever since.  About 10-12 years now.  I’m pretty sure it might happen one day.  I have an aunt who has chickens.  And I’ve learned that ducks not only produce nicer/more nutritious eggs than chickens but they’re also calmer and quieter in general.  I’m sure the neighbours would prefer ducks.   Various moves and living situations and so on have thus far prevented the very thought; but in keeping with the spirit of this post, Ducks for eggs (and eventually meat, maybe?) would be another addition to my Good Life garden.

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Stumpy the 4 legged duck as a chick…
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Stumpy grown up, with 3 legs after an amputation.

And another thing…
It’s always bugged me…well, since I’ve been trying to research stuff on the internet, it’s bugged me…that when you look up an instructional for something; say, how to make a home-made hair-conditioning or face-mask from scratch using household ingredients; invariably, it involves getting some exotic essential oil from your nearest branch of *insert name of US niche chain store here*.  Another example – I recently began working as a costumed medieval tour guide and so researching history has become more than a hobby, and actually sort of work-related.  So looking up ways to make certain things the old-fashioned way came in to play – cheese, butter (I play a dairy maid 😉 ); bread, wine, herbal medicines and so on. We have an apothecary nun who grows all kinds of things so learning what certain native British plants used to be used for is interesting. It annoyed me that everything online, suggesting how to ‘make this yourself at home without buying shop-bought stuff with preservatives and additives in’ STILL included having to ‘go and get something from the bakery aisle of your local supermarket ‘ …
Take Yeast for example. I looked up how to make simple, basic, home made bread.  Invariably “get some dried yeast from the supermarket” was always one of the steps.  With a little more digging I found that with a little starter yeast it’s easy to produce more; a bit like when I make home-made yoghurt with my Easiyo yoghurt maker, without the use of their pre-packed sachets, using UHT or pre-heated milk and some starter yoghurt.

But in a bit like ‘the chicken and the egg’ – where did the FIRST sample of starter yeast and starter yoghurt come from?  What happens if you run out inadvertantly?  Does the medieval village baker close down and wait for the next trader from the holy-lands to wander through the village and hope he’s carrying a sample of yeast?  How do you explain that to his Lordship and hope his lack of Pain-de-Main doesn’t cause him to close down your oven and chop your hands off? How do I get some starter yoghurt if I’ve run out (alright I had an unplanned house party, made a mint-yoghurt dip and a lamb curry with my yoghurt and forgot to save some for the next batch…). Now, the fermentation of milk into yoghurt & cheese was discovered by accident in the middle-east thousands of years before (or holy-lands I suppose as they were better known at the time). Fresh milk for drinking would be stored in a drinks container made from a sheep or camel stomach or intestines, for example, and after a few days riding across the hot desert, they’d find the milk, well, not quite as it should be.  It wasn’t just soured and gone off; but had been preserved in some kind of slightly solid and quite tasty substance.  Rennet has been used in cheese & yoghurt making ever since. There are alternatives such as certain vegetables that produce a coagulating substance

Now, with a little more digging I’ve discovered that it’s possible to recreate the yoghurting (is that a word or did I just invent it?) process without a starter, or the rennet, believe it or not.  There’s a few web posts dedicated to it.  I haven’t tried it yet but am anxious to try…y’know, so I know I can make yoghurt & cheese after the apocalypse…

Apart from some sources I’ve found mentioning that a bread starter can be made using just water and flour, I have discovered that yeast is a natural substance that grows on the outside of various fruits.  Raisins are good apparently.  It (basically – look up more in depth instructions if you want to try this...) involves soaking the fruit (I used raisins and orange peel) in water and leaving it to ferment.  Eventually, a film of solid…well…mush, separates from the fruit and sinks to the bottom. After a few days, remove the fruit and save the yeast and the water it’s contained in.   Now, I *have* tried this….I think it was successful (it certainly *smelled* a bit yeasty…well, like a brewery so I think that was close enough 😉 ) but I’ve yet to test it in the making of bread.  Well, I tried, but it was after moving house meaning the jar had not been refrigerated constantly (it was kept at room temp during the move while the fridge was unplugged, moved, settled and then plugged back in) and also, I think I may have stored it too long…and I dind’t exactly follow instructions to the letter, so it didn’t seem to have much of a reaction to warmth and the ‘bread’ was a bit, well, like a brick!  I am determined to try again, properly. Y’know, so I know I can still  make bread (if I figure out how to grow a good yield of grains in my garden) after the apocalypse.

So, once I’ve got the gardens cultivated and growing (also, without relying on buying Miracle-Gro from the shops that may not exist after the mentioned apocalypse!) settled the ducks in (and maybe a pygmy goat or two) and have figured out the yoghurt and yeast thing, we might be pretty well off!Oh, and I’ve even looked into which plants make a good soap-like substance 😉

Anything else I’ve forgotten?

*Disclaimer* Nothing in this post is meant as an instructional of any kind.  If you decide to have a go at the things I’ve described, please look elsewhere for full instructions and don’t hold me responsible 😉 !!
Posted in Family, History, Life, Social Media

Understanding

I’ve been averse to posting anything remotely political for a while.  Who wouldn’t? Unless they want an e-argument.  Which is invariably what they get.

On both sides of the Atlantic, landmark, unprecendented decisions have been made by the voting public (and in all cases one ponders on how much of a difference the non-voting public might have made to the very close outcomes…).

I’m pretty sure of my choice in both votes – one I could vote in and one I couldn’t.  My stance has never waivered, and even when trying to educate myself more to try and understand, what I’ve seen, learned, read, understood, has only strengthened my original instinct.

However, to even think of bringing up the subject, to give my opinion or to ask for others, is an idea that borders on insanity…I face getting derided, called names (many of which I had to look up the meaning of and I’d definitely disagree with their application to me) or have ‘facts’ and ‘links’ thrown in my face and when the same is used to respond they are ignored.

What never seems to happen is a conversation where someone on, say, Side ‘Apple’, asks simple questions in an effort to understand, and someone on Side ‘Orange’ responds, politely, clearly, consisely, and explains in simple terms *their* understanding of their side and their beliefs and why they voted for Oranges; followed by a simple question as to why the other person voted for Apples, before being given the same response.

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What invariably happens, is BIG numbers and BIG claims are practically thrown in the faces of the oponents; along with derisive comments and petty, childish name-calling.  Links to websites supporting their view (because, of course, it’s written by someone who holds the same view, and pretty much anyone can write anything they want on a website that they can make look as official as they like these days…) .

Invariably (I know, because I do this too…), people of opposing views automatically raise their defenses when a post/comment is clear to be a political statement supporting ‘the other side’ and so people attack. What I’m trying to learn to do is a) ignore, walk away completely. Sometimes I fail at that and what I’m doing more often, instead of diving in straight away with a rude, obnoxious, defensive response, is b)not responding straight away, but rereading the ‘offending’ post in an effort to understand before politely formulating a reasoned reply.  Although, it rarely, if ever, has the effect I hope it will. But then, the original post I’m responding to was posted probably in the hope of persuading the opposition, but doesn’t end up having that effect either.

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So it’s almost impossible to ask simple question like “Please help me understand” and get straight, kind, helpful answers. Even when you do indicate some article or site or research to support your view, there is an argument ‘they’ can thrown back at you.

And so…here is where I jump from the neutral fence above…

Case in point… I’ve lived all over the world.  Going into a general store or supermarket is a very different experience in different countries. It’s very very obvious, to anyone, even if you’ve only ever been abroad to go on holiday to the Med and tried to buy a bag of crisps and a drink in Spain, that different brands take pride of place on shelves, different emphasis is put on the freshness of fruit, veg, bread (equally, how much ‘fresh’ produce is available compared to packaged, processed stuff on shelves; differs globally).

I emigrated from the UK to New Zealand – plentiful fresh produce, fruit, veg, seafood, outdoorsy life, abounded. After a few years, regretably, we moved from there to The Bahamas (via an extended USA roadtrip).  The Bahamas main source of income is offshore financial services (ironically, dealing with banks there as a regular customer who’s not investing billions in them is a nightmare…but that’s another post), and Tourism.  They don’t produce much.  Not like the old days of cotton and sugar plantations. There’s fresh seafood, available from the quayside daily if you know where to go. Apart from that, everything’s imported from the USA. Very little is fresh; and what is fresh, seems too large and shiny and unblemished to be ‘real’ (i.e. grown using every genetic modification and chemical pesticide and ‘plant food’ available, in order to make them bigger, more attractive, last longer?).  We almost moved to the USA after the Bahamas.  My main worry was, being a parent by this time, to children born in New Zealand and therefore began with clean, helthy lifestyle and organic, natural diets; what choices would I have, if buying from regular USA outlets…conglomorate supermarkets force-feeding all that pre-packaged marketing to the children?  They’d be starting school…they’d be fed goodness-knows what ingredients in school lunches or be asking for peer-pressure frankenfoods in bright, character-endorsed individual wrappers for their lunchboxes? I began to research organic farmers markets available in the region we could possibly live in; and mass-produced “foods” in general consumed in the USA.  I came across research regarding ‘foods’ that were approved by the FDA but that were banned elsewhere.  (FDA, Food & Drug Administration, is US equivalent to Food Standards Agency) I was suddenly scared of the US food chain and feared that no matter what I did to avoid introducing certin things to our family diet, we’d end up being exposed to it anyway. (I say ‘suddenly’, although I’d already suspected from years and years of watching America and having traveled there and elsewhere extensively, that their idea of ‘food’ was a little less stringent than the rest of us.  In 1999 I was a Summer Camp Counselor and discovered…squirty cheese in can!!!!).  If it was just me, I would be more adventurous, but since having my own children, I worry more.  I worry on all sides. I worry I am inadvertantly causing them harm, risking losing them to some form of cancer from carcinogens; or in and even longer term, risking causing infertility, low sperm counts, killing off my family line in generations to come from tiny, undetecable changes we have inadvertantly ingested generations before. I could go on but then we’d be delving into the realm of crazy conspiracy-theorists predicting population control by genetics…but such is the crazy and worrysome nature of a caring parent…

OK so we already risked that given that most of what we were eating in the Bahamas was brought in from the USA anyway, but it certainly made moving to the USA the least enticing option – quite scary in fact.  I was very glad to end up coming back to the UK, given that all I’d read against the FDA’s choices had shown me that EU regulators and scientists seemed to be on the right track.  However, to put that link to articles about the FDA approved banned foods into an argument with anyone about how I wouldn’t really want to be trading foodstuffs with the USA because I wouldn’t want anything they’re selling; the opposing side could now argue that one of the most recognisable articles on that list is from ABC news … now deemed by the US President to be a pruveyor of Fake News‘.

And now look where we are…There’s still things I don’t understand, but to bring them up with someone who voted opposite me simply results in derision and dissmissiveness.

I still don’t understand how trade deals with ‘other countries’ outside the EU are any better than trading in the EU…the USA, for example – there’s nothing they could sell us that I can see myself wanting to buy/be available over here…lower food-standards in food production so less desirable, less healthy produce?  More McDonalds & Starbucks?  More branding and marketing?  (I already know people who aren’t aware that many many fairytales and myths and ledgends were actually written centuries ago and existed in a far purer form before Disney got his hands on them…); I don’t understand how a trade-deal with the US can be anything like as beneficial for us as it would be for them.

I don’t understand how trading with countries further away than the European nations right next to us can be beneficial, if we want to purchase foods & goods that can’t be produced here (and lets face it, most of what we actally need, can be…otherwise how did we survive before imports?), why would we choose ones with a higher carbon footprint…import them from further away and increase the need for shipping, cargo flights.  But, in answering my own question, that argument can’t be used in a trade-deal with Trump, right?  Because a carbon-footprint would be a non-entity in that particular deal

I don’t understand how ‘sovereignty’ is an argument – The British Empire wasn’t built by the Britain we are now, in the world in which we now live in.  The British Empire, like Empires before it thoughout history, was built by being a stronger nation with a bigger army and more money and resources and being better educated, taking over by persuasion or else by force, empty lands or smaller, less advanced nations who put up little fight. As soon as those nations (now known as the Commonwealth) could fend for themselves and stand on their own feet, they more often than not chose self-rule and/or fought back against being ruled by Britain.

And I don’t understand the arguments I’ve heard about immigrants – not being part of the EU won’t stop Illegal Immigrants…they are, by their definitiaion, ILLEGAL.  Most of the arguments I’ve heard against immigrants come from regions where the only immigrants encountered are running the corner shop, or the takeaway, or the cleaning company (running useful services that are kept in business by a greatful community?)   I briefly compared a map of diversity in the UK and a map of how areas voted in the EU referendum and it seemed to me to indicate that regions who *don’t* feel threatened by immigrants are the most multi-cultural (case in point…London with all her diversity, supports immigration…countrified regions where there is little diversity in ethnicity, would prefer more restrictions on immigration?).

I don’t understand how EVERYONE who disagrees with either Brexit or Trump are ‘Left’ ‘Liberal’ ‘Snowflakes’ … I can’t see how I’d be ‘on the left’ of anything, when I’ve always been quite open-minded and not really political anyway, but might be branded as such for voting leave or disliking Trump. However, as a ‘lefty’, would I not be then opposed to all things monarchy?  Including however many k per day they cost or how much ‘we’ are giving them to fix ‘their house’… it seems fairly obvious to me that yes, they bring in a lot of tourism and are a unique symbol of Britishness; and while on the subject of the monarchy…and I’d much prefer to people-watch the members of the Royal family who actually have some claim to it, than the likes of the Kardashians and others…

I don’t understand how people moan about how much money is ‘given’ to the monarchy for maintenance of Buckingham Palace, for example…that money doesn’t suddenly ‘disappear’…  It will be PAID to workers and tradesmen and suppliers, who will then in turn go home and use it to feed and clothe and house and maybe even treat their families and therefore pump the wages they’ve earned back in to the same economy, paying the wages of Supermarket checkout people, farmers, clothing suppliers, house builders, paying their council taxes and for trips to seaside resorts like Margate and Blackpool, or to holiday firms paying pilots and cabin crew and airport workers to take them to a holiday destination.

There are quite a few other things I don’t understand, even after experiencing so much of life and traveling so far; but I think I’ve gone on long enough!

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I didn’t write this to get responses.  I didn’t write this to get into arguments over points.  The votes have been cast and acted upon so there’s little point really; I just don’t understand why Discussion doesn’t exist anymore, nor does helping someone to understand, and that everything has to end up in forceful debate and downright arguments, and rude name calling.

Now, it’s pouring with rain today.  I love the rain. I can hear a bird singing in the garden. I might just end up outside raking my garden ready for my new veggie patch…

Enjoy the world, everyone; and be kind to each other xxx

kind2

 

Posted in Art, Creative, Family, writing

500 Words

BBC Radio 2 is running their short-story writing competition for children again.  “500 Words” is open for children aged between 5 & 13 to write a short story, about anything they like, up to 500 words long.  Simples.

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Why wasn’t this around when I was little?  Then again, why wasn’t the whole internet around when I was little? It seemed…no, it was…so much harder to find information back then.  There are so many opportunities these days for anyone; without having to go searching or subscribing to magazines or waiting for the school to subscribe to something and submit you. internet

I remember subscribing to “Writer’s News” and searching avidly through the pages for any hint of writing competitions/  I can remember sitting for hours in a dark corner of the library having discovered Spotlight (the directory of professional actors) and dreaming of one day being listed in there.  (It’s now online and a lot of aspiring actors don’t even know that it was once a thick reference catalogue).

There is a lot of dross out there on the internet, of course, but there are so many opportunities and yes, ease of access to all of these opportunities does mean heightened competition; so if winning were down to chance alone, the odds are further against you.  However, with luck, talent will shine through just enough to make it past each judging stage and may just get some recognition.

So, point in favour of T’internet.  Just don’t read the comments…

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I’ve just submitted #2’s story, written last year after last year’s competition had ended; and they’ve issued a certificate of participation already. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that it doesn’t seem petty or condescending at all.  It’s not overly sentimental.  It simply certifies that #2 named on the downloadable PDF certificate is “an official storywriter for 500 words 2017”.

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I’m quite proud of #2 to be honest.  No help required in foremulating the story; bar from me asking “so, what happened next?” at certain points to prompt the continuation of the story.  Then we sat together and typed it out and read it back to each other so it made some kind of sense.

However, point #2 in favour of the internet (supported by the amount of homework they are sent home with which requires ‘logging on to xxx app we’ve been using in class and completing the tasks/games/assignments); even if it were not so easy to create a story from scratch, there are plentiful online resources, for child and adult writers alike; with prompts and advice; like this one for example.

I’ve taken the tribe to the library a couple of times.  And they love books and stories and so on.  But I’m suddenly feeling a nostalgia for dusty old reference libraries; but more importantly, the effort it took to actually find a piece of information.  Sometimes, it seems to easy just to have it at your fingertips, like we’re somehow cheating.

Enough of my musing for now – good luck to any and all participants in this year’s 500 words. I’m still slightly miffed that I don’t remember it being this easy when I was younger!

Posted in Acting, Christmas, Family, Home, Life, writing

Happy New Year

I know, I know, it’s almost 2 weeks into 2017.  Most people have stopped wishing each other ‘Happy New Year’ by now.

So much so that when someone said it to me yesterday I had to do a double take, and was so stunned into silence that a slight stutter in response was all I could manage before they were out of earshot to hear me return the sentiment.

Well, the darling laptop is home! Finally.  I realised, from finding my last blog entry, that it was 6 months ago that she ‘died’ … and I’ve survived that long! I know, right?

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As explained to friends the other day (via messenger chat, on the laptop! Woohoo!) … 2 months for the actual fixing (she had to be sent back to the manufacturer’s regional HQ across the Irish Sea since the repairs were beyond the capabilities of the little local repairman – so much for supporting the local High-street!) followed by 4 months of trying to scrape together enough money to spare to pay him. Yes, it’s that bad. It wasn’t even that much in the grand scheme of things; but to us, me, it was. I even did the Mrs Claus thing again this past Christmas, with all the good intentions that a short-lived regular income would pay off the small list of items I had prepared.  No such luck.  It got frittered away on Christmas luxuries like feeding the children and paying unauthorised-overdraft-charges and late-payment-fees at the bank.  Still, just about managed a couple of Christmas presents; a pile of Christmas cards which ended up never getting posted (Sorry!)

(It’s a whole other story what I think of a certain bank charging £££ for my account having accidentally strayed a whole 70p into the red for LESS THAN 24 HOURS – it was actually about 7 – before I found a little bit of cash to pay in to bring it back to normal)

But, this post isn’t about that.

In all honesty, I’m not sure WHAT it’s about specifically… in which case, I apologise for boring you!

What did strike me, on the school run yesterday, was that when I originally started writing here; I intended to at very least, write a short entry each day.  I even had a handful of titles, themes, trains of thought, to start me off.  I sometimes wrote 2-3 a day and scheduled their publication so there would be one each day.  And…

…as with other ventures, it trailed off.  I began to tell myself it was OK if I maybe only posted every couple of days.  Which turned in to once a week.  If I was lucky… And then, the whole laptop gone thing didn’t help because we do have an ancient desktop in the corner of one room, which is nice and compact for a desktop and it’s surrounded by the computer desk meaning that’s where the printer and all my belov’d stationery happen to reside also; but…it’s ancient (in terms of technology) and therefore is very slow and for the most part unresponsive.

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I barely managed to file my tax return online using it, and that was only after putting it off for 3 months longer than I would have, simply because I lived in hope of getting the laptop back in time to file on there before the deadline of 31 january.

Even though the computer desk in the corner is usually…well, at one point, always was…one of my (very few) happy places; even sitting there once a day/week/month attempting to write a blog on the old PC didn’t appeal.

Concerns such as “The children play computer and other games in this room” or “I can’t curl up comfortably on the end of the sofa, laptop resting on the arm, and write from a position of relaxation if I want to” (Yes, I was that petty.) Besides, I had other stuff, like winning acting awards (YAYYYYY!), looking for somewhere to live, getting a new Christmas Job and such things on my mind.

What the heck, I thought, no-one’s reading anyway.  Well, 2017, that’s not the point, is it?

Then, it struck me…DOH!  There’s all the things I was using as excuses to not keep up the blog (regardless of readership!) and yet…there’s instantly the beginnings of a list of posts.  Woohoo!

So, in case you missed it the first time, and in an attempt to get in my 750 words for today… Happy New Year.  I hope yours has started as you wish it to continue.  Or at the very least, better than last year ended.

 

Posted in Family, History, Home, Life

Growing up…

I just put a poster up on the wall.  The Cylch Meithrin  handed it to O/H the other day when he picked #3 up.

#3 will be 3 in a couple of months.

He can start school in January.

#1 moves to Juniors in September.

When did this happen?

The poster is a bunch of milestones/stages/abilities a schoolstarter should have reached or accomplished to show s/he is ready to start school; with some stickers to mark them off. I’m torn between feeling proud at how much he already can do; and feeling sad that he’s growing up so fast, without me even realising it.

Posted in camping, Family, Holiday, Home, Life

Coming Around Again…

The sun came out.

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I know.  In the UK. Amazing, right? And suddenly everyone has realised they own barbecues, and lawnmowers, and shorts.

Including us.

So the garage has been sorted and the ‘oudoor toys’ have been rediscovered by the children who forgot they had them.  In some cases they found some we didn’t even remember we had in there since before they were born…

And we got the pup-tents out.  The pop up ones for a laugh to start with, to amaze the children as to how easy and quick they were. (Yes, someone felt they had to make an instructional video….)

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They have memories attached themselves.  The road trip we were on to visit friends for the last time before we emigrated…the first time… and found them in a branch of Halfords and bought them as an impulse purchase; the (one and only) time we actually went camping, to a campsite, on a camping holiday, in them … and ended up on a pitch next to a family with a car emblazoned with a camping and outdoor accessories store logo; and the amazed looks on their faces when we turned up and within minutes were sitting next to our accomodation in camping chairs sipping wine; while they continued to struggle with their 12-person, multi-room mansion (I think they were only staying 1 night…)

And we started sorting out the camping gear in the garage, ready for the next foray into the fun of sleeping outdoors…under a sheet…

Because, so quickly, it seems like only yesterday I posted this blog post about last year’s trip. And here we are again, preparing ourselves for squashing as much as we can into the vehicle to make staying in a cubby hole made from thin fabric and plastic poles, feel like is has all mod cons, already…

And then, this one came out …

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Yes.  It’s just a tent.  It’s a little, 2-man, dome tent.  It says “Outbound Sierra 1” on it. Took me 5 minutes to pitch. But took me back an awfully long way.  It’s funny, how things, items, stuff can seem like just posessions, sometimes, but attach so many funny little memory triggers to them.

My dad bought this tent, for my brother, sister and I.  I’m not sure why…the exact reason behind it; but I remember we pitched it for the first time at one of his Seafaring colleagues houses up in Monmothshire somewhere I think.

I can remember sleeping in the back garden one night, in it.  I can remember lending it to a friend from Youth Theatre when he went to Glastonbury for the first time because he didn’t have a tent.  (The tent’s been to Glasto but I haven’t…).  I can remember taking it to my grandmother’s house in Cornwall with me, and two friends from school coming down by train and we camped in it … 17 years old and our first camping trip. And it was nuts. (and the beauty of living out your teens back then is…that’s all you’re getting…. we managed to live out our tweens and teens and twenties before the internet was invented; so we can hide all that stuff that we didn’t tweet and instagram and facebook about …and just smile about it fondly)

But trying to explain to the 7,6 and 2 year olds that this tent was … blimey… about 25 years old, got barely a reaction from them.

Best of all?  It’s still pretty weatherproof.  I attacked it with a hose from all angles, and pretty much turned the grass surrounding it into a bog, and it’s bone dry inside.

It stank a bit when I got it out … the last time I ‘aired it’ was about 5 years ago (at least).

So I think it’ll be sat outside for a while to freshen up a bit.

Which the children are pleased about – One’s favourite colour is green and the other is orange, so they’ve adopted it.  The third one loves blue so he’s gone for the blue pop up.  And I still have my pink one.

Poor Daddy.   Good job we have the cottage tent to go on holiday with, really!

 

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