City v Gillingham 1999

What a great video to enjoy over breakfast coffee today. Thanks City! LOVE it! I remember it well…

MCFC’s Match Highlight Video

I was a single mum living in Sussex. No Sky TV. Red neighbour recorded it for me and brought the video over to me . Dad phoned me from Chester to ask if I’d watched/listened to the game. I said I had the video to see when I’d put the kids to bed. He kept his voice neutral and asked me to call him when I’d watched it. I really couldn’t tell which way it had gone. I bathed the kids and read them their stories, said goodnight and came downstairs.

The phone rang. Dad wanted to know if I’d seen it yet. Be sure to call when I had.

I settled down and watched. Half time 0-0. Dad called. How far had I got? Don’t forget to call at the end. I STILL couldn’t figure out if we’d won or lost.

Second half………… OH MY GOD! No wonder dad was in such a tizz about chatting it through! I duly called him and we cried and laughed and chatted about this crazy game.

Wish we could have done the same or even in person with some of our crazy games since. But I love that we shared this one despite the distance between us. He was certainly not perfect, but one of the things dad DID get right was making me a Blue. Thanks dad.

A mum who is everything…


A single white carnation represents the purity of a mother’s love

Today brings memories
of the love you’ve shown,
and of the happy moments
we’ve shared.

Mother’s Day means
looking back on all the times
your thoughtfulness
has really made a difference…

You have such a special way
of sharing your love
and doing so much for others…

…And so today’s the
perfect time to tell you,
you are appreciated
and loved more than
you’ll ever know.

This is the wording on the Mother’s Day card I chose for my mum this year and as usual, although I’m pleased to find some nice words, they just can’t quite express what I feel. My mum is, in my opinion, quite simply the most wonderful woman ever to walk the earth. She is my mum, my best friend and my sister all rolled in to one seamless, almost perfect person πŸ™‚

My earliest memories of my mum are of soft cuddles, security, happiness, contentedness and quite simply… love. If mum said everything was well, it was. If I had a problem, mum could always put it right or help me to do so. If something good happened mum was the one with whom I shared the pleasure. As a child I believed mum was always right – about everything! If there was a quiz show on TV I was sure all her answers were right (to be fair they probably were most of the time!) If I asked her about the likelihood of something happening and she said “I doubt it” that meant it definitely wouldn’t, and if she said “maybe” it probably would – she was my oracle. If I did something to disappoint her, I was devastated – she rarely needed to get cross with me as I always wanted to please her. She was the centre of my universe and my life’s barometer and she was everything a mum can and should be to a child. (If I was half the mum to my kids that she was (and is) to me, then I’d be delighted with that.)

As an adult, my relationship with mum has evolved and she really is my best friend too. We are fairly alike in many ways (in fact we laughingly pity anyone else spending time with the pair of us as it must be like having one person in stereo! πŸ˜‰ ) and yet we are also different in some ways – partly a generation thing, (albeit the gap between us is only 20 years) partly the other half of my genes, ( I do share a few traits with my dad) and partly the evolution of my own personality and opinions. Our likeness to each other means that we can laugh together (often without needing words), cry together, use each other as sounding boards for ideas, or just have a darned good moan about life, the world and the universe without having to worry about how it comes out. Our differences range from opinions on minor things to social/political issues – but we are quite happy to be different without a need to judge or preach, and often these differences can be cause for humour e.g. I just love teasing mum in the fruit/veg aisles of the supermarket πŸ˜‰ Although I admire mum, I haven’t put her on a pedestal so that she isn’t allowed to be human, but she IS my role model and my inspiration. She’s taught me, by example, to be strong yet caring and to be a lady.

We’ve shared so many good times, bad times and times in between and all have only brought us closer. So in no particular order, some of my memories of times shared with mum include:

  1. Moving to Chester – when dad left the army they bought an ex-army house in Chester and though I had left home, I enjoyed helping with the move. The house had been vandalised when mum and I arrived (as the advance party, going up on the train ahead of dad and the removals van) We shared the shock and horror then we sorted it out together so that when the van arrived order had largely been returned. I can still vividly recall sitting in the garden in the bright sunshine eating fish & chips from the takeaway round the corner. So though I never grew up in the house in Chester, it has always felt like home to me, and to the children it has always been their 2nd home.

  2. Swearing – mum doesn’t swear and neither do I. (Well, our swear words are: bloody; bug – ger (trying to avoid unwanted traffic via keyword bots here); and damn – very mild these days!) To be fair in fact, neither did dad at home so I grew up in a swear-free home and that is what I expect in my home too. There’s a time and a place and the home is not it! Mum instilled this in me and the one time I used a word, not realising it was not acceptable as an everyday word was when I was 13 and mum, Rick and I were walking home together one summer afternoon. I used the word c.r.a.p. The next thing I knew was that mum slapped the back of my bare legs and I was shocked! “What? It means “rubbish”” I said, much affronted. “I don’t care,” she replied, “You are not to say it!” and that was that. I still don’t use, or like, the word. Once when Rick and I were teenagers we were obviously irritating mum and she got annoyed and told us to “Stop………” she groped for the words she wanted, couldn’t find them and blustered “… fart-arsing around” It certainly had the effect of stopping us doing whatever it was (I don’t remember that bit) as we were so completely shocked that we just sat with mouths agape, speechless! πŸ˜€ (Both Fart and arsing are words she’d never used before (nor since I don’t think) and though I do now use the former occasionally, I don’t use the latter nor its noun. )

  3. When we were children, mum would always insist on a proper family breakfast and evening meal, and when we got older, though she worked full time, if she had a weekday off, she would buy something nice and cook us a meal at lunchtime and we’d go home and have a special lunch. (As an adult, I appreciate how much of her precious day off this used.) If it was unexpectedly raining, she’d come and meet us with a brolly or coat – which also reminds me of that very hot summer of 1976 when we went to school a 1.5 mile walk away and she’d bring cold drinks to us when she came to walk us home. When I’d left home but we were all still living in Sussex, mum would come and meet me for lunch sometimes if she had a day off and the mornings on those days dragged by yet I loved the anticipation of an hour with mum to break up the day/week and spending some quality time with her.

  4. Learning by watching – When the children were little and I was floundering round trying to get the hang of parenting, mum was there to offer a steadying hand, yet she never interfered. She didn’t tell me how I should be doing things, but I learned by watching her. In fact, I learned a lot by simply watching her as I grew up. I loved watching her do things. I loved watching her put on her make-up and felt this was my special time with her as naturally, neither dad nor Rick wanted to watch her do this so I got her all to myself for 5 minutes. I loved watching her cook – even the mundane stuff like preparing vegetables and once when we went to Sunday dinner with a friend of dad’s and his new young wife, she was trying to prepare sprouts and clearly hadn’t a clue what to do with them. Rick and I told her how mum did them and she gratefully did as we’d described so by watching mum we learned without realising it and were able to help someone else. I also learned how to bake by watching mum. She makes the best pastry of anyone I know and I remember making pastry at school once and being told off for making it the way mum makes it (even now I can’t see the problem, mum makes it the normal way as far as I can tell!) but since I KNEW mum’s pastry was better than the school recipe I carried on regardless πŸ™‚ I loved watching her sew dresses – she always made my school summer dresses and I was so proud of that, and sometimes she made us matching dresses. Sadly, I can’t sew to save my life, but when I was only about 4 or 5, I decided I was going to make Rick some trousers. I’m giggling as I type this but doubt I can adequately describe my creation. I had a piece of red tartan fabric big enough to cut out the shape of a pair of trousers, but not big enough for both back and front. So an old white sheet was used to form the back! I cut out the shape of trousers and hand stitched (remember I was 4 or 5!) all but the foot holes and waist, and I’d failed to add any extra material to go AROUND his legs, then presented my little brother with his gift! πŸ˜€ Another sewing memory of one Christmas when the children and I (in my single parenting days) had come to Chester to spend Christmas with mum and dad. They had (and still have) a stocking each and I had somehow managed to forget to bring them! Mum and I spent Christmas Eve sewing two stockings out of a couple of (yellow) pillow cases. πŸ™‚

  5. Helping each other through– When dad was ill (yes, single occasion – he never really got ill/ let on if he did) mum and I visited a couple of times a day, sometimes together, sometimes separately. As is the nature of the evil that is cancer, we got through one day at a time, never really knowing whether things would get better or worse and never getting any straight answers from the doctors. We intuitively knew that the prognosis was poor and together we did our own research, talked openly and honestly and literally laughed and cried together through the short weeks before the inevitable happened. We needed each other and we were there for each other. Along with Rick and Billy, we planned his funeral together, again laughing and crying, and we leaned on each other on the day itself. After the perfect send off, we decided we’d “do” St George’s Day for him every year and in the 8 years since, we have spent every St George’s Day together in memory of him. We’ve had the odd tear of course, but we’re not maudlin and we laugh a lot too. I love our SGD memories – you can share some of them here. We similarly got each other through when my beloved Nan, mum’s mum, was ill and then died> and as her birthday was April 22nd, we sort of combine memories of her with our SGD activities.

  6. Mum can kill with a look – well, she can turn back the tide and stop a man with a gun anyway πŸ˜€ Mum is pretty easy going and very selfless, but if she’s determined or annoyed, nothing will deter her (yes, I know! A trait I share! πŸ˜› ) When we flew to Hong Kong back in 1986 we had a brief stop for fuelling in Dubai and we were ushered off the plane by a Dubai guard with a gun. Mum gave him “the look” and muttered “don’t you point your gun at me!” A couple of years later when mum and I were were on one of our annual girly weekends away, we went for a walk along the seafront on a very blustery day and the sea was throwing up huge waves across our desired path on the prom. Mum glared at it fiercely before walking at HER own pace along the path, just daring a wave to hit her. It didn’t!

  7. Keeping a sense of humour – When mum had her hip replacement a couple of years ago I was really pleased to be in a position of being able to help her by staying with her at first and then visiting each week. Apart from the fact that she was recovering from a physically traumatic procedure, I loved our time together and still giggle at one of the many memories from that time – in fact I’ve just read it again here and am in fits. πŸ˜€ Again, we got through the post-op challenges by being able to be honest and by laughing together and the experience cemented our closeness.

  8. Loving cats – Mum and I (and all our family) share a love of cats. We’ve nearly always had cats, though the first I remember really is Tippy, a black cat we had when I was about 8 I think. When we went to live in Germany, my aunt and uncle took her for us and I remember being sad but trusting my cousin Keith when he promised they’d take good care of her. In Germany we had Tigger – part German wild cat – a big tabby with a wild streak. We lived on the top floor of a block of flats so we took him out on a lead for walks – HOW embarrassing Rick and I found that! And how entertaining too – cats go where they want, under cars, up trees and under bushes so many a time one of us was hanging on to the lead whilst the other had to try and retrieve a stubborn cat! Dad loved to tease and he played a bit too much one day and Tigger launched himself off dad’s lap rather too strongly – hurting dad somewhere a bit delicate! πŸ˜€ He gave us many memories including chasing Rick up the road (his leg still carries the scar), going off for a wander for days (once we were back in England and he could go out alone) and following us home through the woods once we’d tracked him down ( he offended many dogs and their owners along the way by swiping their noses with his claws when they got too inquisitive, despite our warnings that he might hurt their dogs!) As well as his wildness, he had his soft side and I remember crying in to his fur when I (wrongly) thought I’d broken mum’s new washing machine, and he had a soft spot for a neighbour’s somewhat neglected, almost permanently pregnant cat and he’d leave her some food in his bowl. We later adopted one of her kittens, Tiddles, and he accepted her in to the family. We lost him when he went AWOL one final time and never returned. Tiddles, though, had one litter of her own (gorgeous little things – one black, one white, one tabby and one silver tabby) and she moved to Chester with mum and dad and they had her many years before she died of old age after a fairly pampered life. Mum wasn’t quite ready for another cat but dad dived in and brought home Muffin, a beautiful mass of long black fur who really was daddy’s little boy and who shared the loss of dad and helped mum through. It was devastating when he too died. When she was ready, mum found another beautiful little puss who needed to be loved, and now Rocky is the lucky recipient of as much love and attention as his little furry heart could ever desire. I am honoured to have been there when mum got him and more so that this nervous little wussy cat enjoys my visits when I go to Chester. Mum has also shared my cats over the years too – Blackie, Jet, Toby, Garfie, Timmy, Tinker, Zeb and Zara – the welcoming in to the family and the upset when they leave. More memories that we can share and that bind us.

I have too many memories shared with mum to write, but as I hope the few examples show, it’s the bad times as well as the good that strengthen the bond between us. The tears are the binding that strengthens the laughter. My mum is the most thoughtful, caring, loving person I know and she is always there for me. She supports me in practical and emotional ways and I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than I am with her. She can read my blog entries and pick up on unspoken things which no-one else would because we are so alike and in tune. We have a telepathic connection and we just KNOW when something is not quite right even if we haven’t seen each other, or spoken, or even texted, anything to give any hint that this is the case. In fact we are an extension of each other and can make decisions and choices on behalf of each other because we know what the other would want.

She was a perfect mum when I was a child, and she is still a perfect mum now – nurturing me even though I have grown up children of my own. I also know she is one of the children’s favourite people in the world and just as she has done with me, mum has been a perfect caring, protective, guiding adult when they were little and a reassuring, non-interfering friendly presence now they are grown.

I adore my mum, she is everything the cards say on this day of the year…… but she is also more.

Happy Mother’s Day mum. I love you so very much and am so lucky to have you as my mum. I know you will have both laughed and cried at these few shared memories I have posted, and I know that there are a million more that I haven’t written. I’d like to add more in the future so maybe you can help me choose some. For now though, I just want you – and the world – to know that I look up to you as you are the perfect mum and that I am very grateful for everything you have done, and continue to do, for me.
With lots of love from YLD – X

Protected: My God (My story password)

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A good Girl Guide

When I wrote my last entry about the animal filled week, it made me think of the phrase “friend to animals” – which was a badge I earned at Girl Guides. Then I started trying to think what other badges I had. So I got out my old Guiding Handbook (the one that a toddler (mentioning no names Kimberley πŸ˜‰ )destroyed once, so I have a few pages missing and had to also use the intact one Mum gave me.) It was quite fun reminiscing about my Guiding days, so now I’m going to “treat” you too…


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I always wanted to join the Brownies, but waiting lists were always long, and whenever I DID finally make it to the top of the list, we’d move! (Dad was in the army so we moved every couple of years.) Eventually, when we were stationed in Germany, I got there! I went along to my first Brownie meeting, only to be told that in a couple of weeks I’d be too old for Brownies, but I would be able to go straight into the Guides. So – I skipped Brownies, but had the great good luck to join really active Guide pack with good leaders and most of the girls taking it fairly seriously (maybe it was just that we were all army kids so it came naturally.)

I joined Blue Tit patrol in the 1st Fallingbostel pack, taking my Promise on 04/04/1979 and I can still recite it:

I promise to do my best,
To do my duty to God,
To serve the Queen,
Help other people,
and to keep the Guide law.

The Guide law was:

1. A Guide is loyal and can be trusted.
2. A Guide is helpful
3. A Guide is polite and considerate.
4. A Guide is friendly and a sister to all Guides.
5. A Guide is kind to animals and respects all living things.
6. A Guide is obedient.
7. A Guide has courage and is cheerful in all difficulties.
8. A Guide makes use of her time
9. A Guide takes care of her own possessions and those of other people.
10. A Guide is self-controlled in all she thinks, says and does.

And do you know what? I reckon I can honestly say that I do still pretty much keep those laws! (Number 10 may be an occasional challenge πŸ˜‰ ) The motto was “Be Prepared” (the same as the Scouts) and I was (so much so that my uniform pockets were always bulging with the items we were supposed to carry with us.) I still do like to be prepared – so I’m still a good Girl Guide πŸ˜‰


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Our Handbooks were our guides and our records of our achievements and reading through (what remains of) mine was rather amusing. One entry in the section for recording examples of keeping the Guide law, had me in absolute stitches:

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I did indeed keep calm during this incident but more out of bemusement than anything else I think! We’d just got a new car – a bright orange VW Beetle – and it had been parked in a small parking bay by the side of our block of flats. Mum was the (new) driver, dad couldn’t drive. But he was so pleased that we had a car, that he went to have a look play and we kids went too, and sat in the back seat, with dad in the driver’s seat. (Mum stayed indoors.) For some inexplicable reason, dad took off the handbrake, and we very slowly and smoothly rolled forwards. Into the thick bushes. Which pressed against the car doors rendering them impossible to open. We were eventually rescued by a couple of neighbouring soldiers who’d seen our plight – or more likely, come to investigate a bright orange car sticking out of the bushes πŸ˜€

Anyway…..back to Guiding….

We were encouraged to work for badges, pennants, emblems and service flashes, though I knew of only one girl who’d gained her Queen’s Guide award/ By the time I left the pack, 3 years later,(when we returned to England) I was a Patrol leader of Chaffinch patrol (having been patrol second in Swallow patrol first) and I had 21 interest badges, my Service Flash, Arts & Crafts Emblem and the Patrol Purpose Patch which I’d earned with my patrol. I was well on the way to other emblems and was aiming for my Queen’s Guide.

My badges were:
1. Artist
2. Friend to Animals
3. Camper
4. Craft
5. Accident Prevention
6. Health
7. Home maker
8. Writer
9. Entertainer
10. Child Nurse
11. Cook
12. Gymnast
13. Map Reader
14. Stitchery
15. Folk Singer
16. Speaker
17. Rambler
18. Hostess
19. Collector
20. Challenge
21. Agility

As I said, ours was an active pack and we went camping regularly (only within the garrison, admittedly) and having access to army equipment helped πŸ˜‰ I remember my first camp, as a complete newbie, learning the importance of wellie sticks, being in awe of the older, experienced girls, and helping to cook the evening meal over the campfire (all-in-stew I think) – I was chopping the onions which made me cry and this was mistaken for me being homesick πŸ˜€ Several camps later, when I was a patrol-leader and therefore in charge of my own group of girls, including a newbie, we were sleep one night in our tent (a two-man tent with five girls sleeping cossways, youngest at the far end, patrol leader by the tent flaps) when something woke me up. Two beady eyes stared at me from just inside the tent flaps. Beady eyes were attached to a head – with tusks! The youngest girl had also seen it and I had to hiss at her to be quiet and still whilst privately wondering what on earth I was supposed to do about a boar in the tent! Should I yell for help? Would the soldiers patrolling the area have noticed? Would it attack? Happily, the thing decided 5 girls weren’t THAT exciting and left. PHEW! When I poked my head out of the tent, I saw a few wild boars running off harmlessly – but it remained a good tale to tell ever after πŸ™‚

We had one memorable camp which was a joint event by the Guides, Scouts and Cubs. My brother was a cub. Dad was a Scout leader. Mum was a (reluctant) Guide Leader (we were in danger of closing down and I BEGGED mum to help out, which she eventually agreed to do but insisted she would NOT go into uniform, nor would she camp! She did both and became our pack Leader and very involved. (Thank you Mum!)) So, all of the family was on this camp, he three groups having their own area of the field and doing largely their own thing most of the weekend but coming together on the final day for a huge “Cowboys and Indians” battle and joint campfire to round things off. I enjoyed it, though Dad and his strict disciplinarian ways made life slightly uncomfortable for mum at times and VERY unhappy for my poor brother.

When we left Germany and arrived back in England, I immediately sought out my local pack. I managed two whole evenings before realising they didn’t DO anything πŸ™ The most badges they had were 3 or 4. They didn’t do outings or camping. They mainly sat and sewed and talked. This was not at all what I was used to, nor what I wanted, so I quit Guiding, which is such a shame as I’d loved it.

Nel briefly attended Guide meetings here when she was old enough, but again, the pack seemed to do little besides cook and eat, so she gave up on the organization too.

What a shame, because Guiding (and Scouting) can be such a hugely enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding experience, and indeed, SHOULD be. However I do consider myself very lucky to have enjoyed those years I was a member of a really good pack, and have very fond memories of them.

Thinking Day (22nd February) 1981 (I am back row, 2nd from left, with Mum next to me) :


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Chaffinch Patrol meeting, I am patrol leader, 2nd from left:


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Modern Girl Guides information here.
Offical Guiding site here.

Old photos.

Mum gave me a couple of photos which my uncle had come across recently and I thought I’d share them here. Nel scanned them for me (as she now has the only scanner in the house) and tweaked the contrast.

They are of dad with his parents, and I think the occasion must have been when he was newly passed out as fully fledged Coldstream Guard:


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I already had these ones scanned and saved but don’t think I’ve shared them with you yet:

Mum and Dad’s wedding (March 1968):


Mum and Dads wedding
Mum and Dad with parents

And this was my grandparents’ (dad’s parents) wedding:


Dads parents wedding

I would like to hunt down and scan more and some day maybe even do a post about each of the people who helped to make me. One day.

ABC Meme

Thanks to Jeni Wren for this:

A is for Age: 42

B is for Beer of choice: Lager goes with football πŸ™‚ Must admit I do like Stella.

C is for Career: Medical Herbalist – for the moment, though for how much longer remains to be seen (depends on what happens with Regulation) Also part time NHS admin though this seems to be taking up more hours these days.

D is for favourite Drink: Mornings – strong, black, unsweetened, filter coffee. Daytime – water (lots of it.) Evenings – red wine or vodka & lemonade (1 or 2 glasses only.)

E is for Essential item you use every day: Hmmm…. shampoo I suppose. Can’t go without washing my hair.

F is for Favourite song at the moment: None – I’m not into music.

G is for favourite Game: Spider Solitaire or Free Cell on the PC when I’m waiting for slow web pages.

H is for Home town: Not sure! Born in London but moved around a lot (army brat); Lived in two different towns in Sussex for a long time and have friends and family there; Very at home in Mum’s place of abode (Chester) and Dad’s birthplace (Manchester) but equally happy here near Newcastle. So, pick the one you like most πŸ˜‰

I is for Instruments you play: Descant recorder – though I can just about manage a recognisable tune on a keyboard too.

J is for favourite Juice: Orange, probably though I’m not really a juice lover.

K is for Kids: Two – a son of 20 and a daughter of 18. Love them more as they have grown as I’m not really a child person. I’m very proud of my lovely kids.

L is for Last kiss: Billy before he left for work this morning.

M is for marriage: On my second.

N is for full Name: Well my Sunday name is “Angela” but I hate to be called by that name. Not because I dislike the name, but because it’s always been shortened so if someone is calling me Angela it means they’ve assumed they may address me by first name rather than asking so I find it patronising. I changed the spelling from Angie to Anji in my teens and it stuck. I’m on my third surname though I do actually still use the second one also. Mainly I’ll answer to anything polite! πŸ˜‰

O is for Overnight hospital stays: One night in for each of the kids when they were born (that was one night too long for me as well!) and 10 days when Nel was a baby and I had a mystery gastro virus. They never did work it out but I discharged myself in the end as the kids needed me.

P is for phobias: Deep water, tunnels/being underground (though I’m fine on the London Tubes) and I don’t fear the dark per se but I do fear any ill doers that may be lurking in it.

Q is for quote: β€œDo as you would be done by”

R is for biggest Regret: To be honest I don’t really do regrets – there’s no point living in the past. There may be one or two little things I may have done differently given a choice, but nothing much really.

S is for sports: LOVE my football (as you will know if you follow my blog!) and I love playing darts once a week.

T is for Time you wake up: Usually between 5.30am and 6.30am – I’m a morning person and I normally skip out of bed raring to go.

U is for colour of underwear: Black or white usually, but Blue on City matchdays.

V is for Vegetable you love: Not really a fruit/veg lover, but I do rather like Brussels sprouts – strange as this is one most people hate.

W is for Worst Habit: Poor posture when sitting. I try to remember but I soon forget.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Just teeth (routine checks) I think.

Y is for Yummy food you make: Lots of things. I enjoy cooking and most of it turns out well.

Z is for Zodiac sign: Libra – only just though, so I have a lot of Virgo traits apparently.

If you do your ABC Meme, let me know so I can come and peek. πŸ™‚

Protected: Single Parenthood (1997 – 2003)

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Protected: Marriage Break Up. (Dec 1996)

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My Story

I’ve been thinking of writing my story – an autobiography I suppose. Partly because some people have expressed interest in some parts of it, partly for my own trip down memory lane – and maybe partly in case the children ever want to have access to some of my memories, if only the ones concerning them.

I very much doubt it will be of much interest to the majority. I doubt even more, that any of it is a secret. However, in the interests of a LITTLE control of who views it, I’m going to password protect it with a specially designated password just for the posts that will make up” my story”. I am happy to give the password to my family and friends (both “live” and “virtual”) so please feel free to ask me for it – but respect my right to decline if I choose. The only thing I ask is that you don’t pass on the password, nor any content – it’s for me to decide whom I wish to see my story.

I shall write these individual posts in random order and timing – just as and when I feel the desire, so they won’t be in a neat chronological order. However, I will leave this explanatory post as the first post and will list the posts with links in the proper order as I write them. I will also make little attempt to write as any of my English teachers would have taught – I warn you, it will be reminiscent waffle, words spilling as they will.

If you’ve played a part in my life, you may well find yourself appearing in my story, so please accept that I will not intentionally offend anyone but that I can only post from my own perspective. Neither will I give my password to anyone that I don’t trust to see whatever I happen to write. However, as with any autobiography, even my own humble one – read at your own risk πŸ˜‰

Marriage Break Up. (Dec 1996)

Darn Sarf – London Trip

On Thursday morning, I packed my things (badly – in a rush and not knowing what the weather was likely to do!) in to my new bright pink ruck-sack (a present from Billy as I felt a rucksack would be more practical on this trip than a suitcase.) I had a smooth trip down to London though I was glad I had booked my seat on the train as it was very busy and Mum and I met at Victoria and then headed together to our hotel in Crystal Palace.

Before our trip, we had both bought a Visitor’s Oyster Card so that we didn’t have to mess about with tickets, change, and queues and throughout our trip, this proved to be absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended for anyone visiting London and it saves an absolute fortune in money, time, and planning. We had also booked our hotel in advance, and were a little wary of what we’d find since this was very much a budget hotel, a bit out of the way, and we feared the worst. What a pleasant surprise we had when we got to our room – we expected something small and dingy but instead found we had a large room with not two, but four beds!


Beds all in a row

Our room was in the basement and had a little courtyard backing on to it – though the gutter and other pipework constantly dripped and leaked. We just imagined it was a tropical waterfall and with the room getting very hot at night, it was easy to pretend we were on an exotic holiday πŸ˜€ We had dinner in the local Wetherspoons and then returned to our room and watched TV whilst I painted my nails in readiness for the next day.


England Nails

In the morning, we took the lift to the fifth floor for our inclusive continental breakfast and found it to be very basic, but certainly adequate. Many people were complaining about various things, but to be honest, at the price we were paying, Mum and I felt things were pretty much acceptable. There was a choice of cornflakes, Frosties or Cocoa Pops for cereal, of apple or orange juice, of toast or fresh rolls with butter and jams, and of tea or coffee. Nothing fancy, but good enough to get the day started.
Capstar & wristbands

Friday, being ST GEORGE’S DAY and therefore our annual celebration in memory of dad we exchanged cards, donned “Support the Coldstream Guards in Afghanistan” wrist bands, and set off to buy our red rose button holes on our way to the train station.

Cards and booze

Roses

Our first stop was the Guard’s Museum.

Guards Museum Anji
Guards museum Mum

We chatted to the ex-Irish Guard manning the desk for a while and then enjoyed working our way round the exhibits which mark the history and honours of the guards regiments right up to, and including, the Coldstream Guards in Afghanistan. This section was very moving, being so very recent and still ongoing, and at the end there was a poster which had a different picture but was something like this:

Hardest thing

We decided to picnic in St James’ Park and then we walked up to Buckingham Palace (where we identified the current guard to be the Grenadier Guards) and Horseguards – where the stands were being erected ready for the trooping of the Colour.


Horseguards

Then after a rest in Green park, we decided to visit The Tower – we even caught the sun a bit, as the weather was glorious.

The Tower


Tower Bridge

We saw quite a few England shirts and flags during the day – lots of black cabs, and even one bin lorry, were flying them πŸ™‚ We had noted that Wetherspoons were offering a St George’s Day menu so decided we would have our evening meal there.

SGD menu

When I went to the bar to place our order, I said we’d like the sausage and mash meal and the barman was pleased we were being patriotic – and I was pleased that he was pleased πŸ™‚ The meal was really filling but enjoyable and mum and I decided to have another drink. A man, whom we’d seen in there the previous evening with his England-Flag-Sporting friend, came and chatted, having spotted our red roses, and then he chatted about football and seemed pleased (but amazed) that mum is a fellow Palace fan. A little later, another man came over and again, congratulated us for celebrating St George’s Day. He was 74 (he told us) but was a tough little nut and we got the impression he was something of a character in the area. He seemed to take a shine to us and chatted for rather a long time, sitting (uninvited) next to mum and in no hurry to leave. He asked our names and I gave him mine (first name only, of course) but when he turned to mum, she gave a false one – which had me struggling to keep a straight face as I wasn’t expecting that! Fortunately, just before we had to resort to inventing a meeting with our husbands, he left – so we drank up fast, and went back to the hotel. He hadn’t spoiled our evening, but he did cut it a little short as we may well have otherwise stayed for another drink. Still, it had been a good St George’s Day and we felt Dad would have enjoyed the way we’d spent it, even if he would have had considerably more alcohol than we did πŸ˜‰

Photobucket

On Saturday mum took me round some old haunts of hers. She showed me the house (in Crystal Palace) where we had been living when I was born – and told me how she used to have to walk up Anerley Hill when pregnant and dad used to push my pram up it once I was born – it’s an extremely steep hill so I sympathised. I had always thought, being born in BMH Woolwich, that were I to support the football team nearest my birth place it would have been Arsenal, but in fact Charlton is nearest (Ugh!) However, if I were to support the team nearest our home at the time of my birth, it would have been Crystal Palace πŸ™‚ We also went to Forest Hill and mum told me about some of the things she, her sister Janet and cousin Pat had done as children/teenagers – showing me where they used to go swimming and the cinema where mum was watching a film when the film was interrupted to break the news that JFK had been assassinated. It’s now a Wetherspoons, though nicely done, and the name has been retained, and we stopped there for a coffee before walking on to see the house where my Nanny and Grandad lived. I have fond memories of that house – as I am sure, do my brother and cousins. Nanny and Grandad were always so welcoming and we loved going there. Of course, my memories of it are all from a child’s perspective and I remember climbing the really high steps up to the front door. Only when mum and I went there, I saw, from my adult’s perspective, that actually, the steps were not that high at all. πŸ™‚ I remembered the old fire station and newsagent’s too, and mum was pleased to see that Forest Hill had not changed as much as she had expected.

We went back to the main high street for lunch and ended up in a fish and chip shop, and then headed off to Croydon and the Whitgift Centre as I wanted to take back some little presents for the family. Unfortunately, having done so much walking that morning, we found we had run out steam, so ended up returning early to Crystal Palace, looking at the pubs as we went, to see if any looked suitable for watching the Arsenal v City match. Sadly, there were none in which we felt we’d feel comfortable as two ladies alone, so we went back to the hotel and hoped they might have it on one of their large screens. When we got there, I asked a member of staff, who went off to find out whether the hotel had ESPN. Whilst waiting, a small group of people had come in, and I couldn’t believe it – one of them was wearing a City (3rd) shirt! I was wearing a City t-shirt too, and he couldn’t believe it either. He said he had come down for a party and was planning to watch the game on his laptop. In the end I gave up waiting for the staff member to return and went to the room. Mum and I ended up just vegging out on our beds for the remainder of the afternoon and I followed the match via City Twitter updates. I hadn’t missed any goals at least, and actually was quite pleased that we got a point out of it. πŸ™‚

Having had a cooked lunch, we had a picnic tea in our room and actually spent 15 hours on/in the beds in total – anyone that knows me will be as surprised as I was. It was rather pleasant just relaxing though.

At least, it WAS relaxing until about 8.45pm when a group of people in the room on the opposite side of the courtyard, decided to have pre-night-out drinks int he room, along with their friends. We guessed there to be 15 – 20 or so of them and they were VERY noisy. They also managed to open the door into the courtyard (we had assumed this would be for staff access only as it allowed access in to our room via the large window if desired) and they proceeded to stand right outside our window whilst talking on phones. We felt very uneasy about this, not just because of the noise, but also because of the lack of security. We phoned down to reception twice to ask someone to get them to at least shut the door and stay inside, but with the staff speaking English as a second language, they seemed unable to even grasp WHERE we were talking about, never mind WHAT! We gave up staying up at about 10pm and reluctantly got undressed (turning off the bathroom light to do so since there were no curtains/blinds and we would have been clearly visible to those outside) and got into bed. We had also closed our windows which made the room hot and stuffy, but when the inconsiderate party had finally shut up (left for their night’s entertainment) at 11pm, I did open the smallest window a little. I felt they were unlikely to be returning before the wee small hours, having gone out so late, and I was right – mum heard them return about 4am but I somehow slept through their noise.

On Sunday morning, on our way out, I asked at reception about having breakfast on a tray in the room the next day as I needed to leave before breakfast was served in the restaurant. They said that they could not do this as there was no-one to make a breakfast. So I asked about the 24 hour room service menu (as advertised on a notice in reception) and said I’d pick something from that instead. The receptionist said that that had to be ordered in the bar which was only open from 3pm – 11pm so I asked whether I could do that when we returned later and they could do a tray at 6.30am. Erm, no, that was not what she meant, apparently – “24 hour” room service is only actually available between 3pm – 11pm ! We gave up! πŸ™

Originally we had planned to go to Eastbourne by train, but engineering works meant it would be too much hassle, so we went to Brighton instead. We worked out that not only could we save ourselves the journey into London by picking it up at East Croydon, but that our Oyster cards would get us to that pick up point, meaning we needed to pay less for the journey in all. Good stuff! πŸ™‚ As we arrived, we noticed lots of police everywhere and wondered what was going on – so I asked a policeman and he said it was for a St George’s Day march. We walked down towards Churchill Square where we were meeting Rick and Mel for lunch, and while we waited, the marchers came past with a huge police presence. We were pleased to see people supporting St George’s Day but we were not sure if these were just people being proud ot be English or whether they were BNP types – which is a step too far for us. They soon moved past and the roads cleared again. Shortly after, Rick and Mel arrived and we all went for a stroll down to the beach – it was a bit chilly and foggy, but had to be done as mum and I both wanted to visit the sea. We both miss the sea since leaving Sussex, and though Eastbourne would have been our preferred beach, Brighton did the job – and it had been a very long time since either of us had visited Brighton, though it hadn’t really changed a huge amount. We had a very pleasant 3 hours with my brother and his lovely wife and were stuffed by the time we left Pizza Hut πŸ™‚ I blame Rick – he talked us into having starters, pizza AND sweet, though we didn’t put up much of a fight πŸ˜‰

After they left, we had a little look round a few shops but weren’t really in a shopping mood. I did pop in to a phone-unlocking shop which had been recommended, to see if I could get my new phone unlocked. Sadly not, but the man there did say that the software required to do so should be out in the next few weeks so at least I have hope. We picked up a picnic tea for later, and an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a doughnut for my breakfast next day, in lieu of “24 hour room service” πŸ˜› and then walked back to the train station. Just across the road was a likely looking cafΓ© for a welcome cuppa, so we took advantage before returning to London.

We had a peaceful evening, the previous night’s party-goers having left, and I redid my nails a little more soberly, and prepared myself and my bag for my seminar the next day.

On Monday morning,I left the hotel at about 7.15am, walked to the station and caught the train up to Victoria, and the tube to High Street Kensington, arriving at The Kensington Close Hotel in good time for registration and coffee. The seminar was arranged by one of my favourite herbal suppliers and the speaker was one of my favourite Herbalists, Kerry Bone. I had a very useful and interesting day, learning more about Ginkgo biloba and a few other herbs, and finished promptly enough that I could get back to the hotel before rush hour reached its peak.

Mum had spent a quiet afternoon after a morning in Crystal Palace Park and had got us a picnic tea again, which I ate as I got changed into jeans and England shirt ready to go to Selhurst Park for the Palace v Baggies game. I borrowed mum’s Palace scarf too as she had her Palace shirt and fleece, and we set off for our first evening match here. Once again our Palace “ticket Daddy” had got us absolutely fantastic seats, right on the half way line not far back from the pitch. Thank you again, Patrick, you are a star – AGAIN!


Selhurst Park - view from our seat

The man who was sitting next to me was huge – and a bit unfriendly looking, so when I noticed him smoking, I wasn’t prepared to say anything. However, mum noticed too, and said, very loudly, “Is he smoking?” Yikes! Fortunately, he either didn’t hear or chose to ignore, but later it became apparent that he was “smoking” a cigarette substitute – though the “water vapour” cloud smelled a bit strange so he may, or may not, have had something in it.

That aside, we really enjoyed the match and on balance felt pleased with a point, despite the fact that 3 would have done Palace more good. (If the situation was not as it was, a point against West Brom would have been something of which to feel pretty proud.) The Baggies players were niggly, and very physical and we couldn’t believe that Bednar didn’t get booked on several occasions. We were sitting close to the away fans (whom I have never liked) and they did not endear themselves to us at all. Singing “We’re going up” when they already were going up, seemed pointless. Singing “You’re going down” was gloating, but singing “You’re going bust in the morning” was just plain disrespectful and rude. They spent more time singing about Palace’s woes than supporting their own team.There was also some trouble outside but mum and I avoided this by virtue of staying behind to clap the team and staff as they did a lap of honour afterwards. I was very pleased we could do this and mum enjoyed the opportunity to show her boys her appreciation of their efforts this season, despite the off-field trials they’ve suffered. Mum fears that may have been her last trip to watch her team, as she doesn’t know if her health will be up to it in future, but I hope we will go again, and we do both enjoy it so much.

On Tuesday it was time to return to everyday life. We seemed to have packed a lot in to our five days and were pretty worn out. Mum’s feet and hip, especially, had been somewhat overworked though we had tried to take it easy. Unfortunately, we both have yet to adjust and learn what mum can and can’t do now, but we’ll get there. This time last year, she couldn’t have managed any of it!

We travelled up to Victoria together and then went our separate ways – she to Euston and me to Kings Cross. My train was quite quiet which was a relief as during this trip, more than any other, I’d felt hemmed in by other people everywhere I turned, buses being the worst, with their lack of seating and two-door system) and was desperate for some space.

Billy came to meet me at Newcastle and we’d planned to spend a couple of hours in town and then have an inexpensive meal out before going home. But he’d called me earlier to ask if I’d mind him postponing our time together as he had been asked to help out a friend in need – by playing golf! I was less than impressed but told him only he could decide how important it was to help this friend and I’d trust his judgement. So we got the next train home, had a cup of tea, and then off he went! At least the house wasn’t a complete tip as Mrs Gem had been that morning. No washing or ironing had been done though, and there was my rucksack full of dirty laundry to add…….. Ho hum. It was good to be back πŸ˜‰