Menopause Talk

Last week, it was my turn to give the presentation at the hospital education meeting, and I chose to do a subject in which I’ve had a lot of experience as a practitioner, with many patients being successfully helped by herbs.

The meeting was well attended by the usual mix of health professionals including doctors and nurses, and more, though how successfully I managed to convey the need for a HOLISTIC approach, I don’t know. That was my over all aim, and the main theme of my talk, so hopefully they all got something from it even if they didn’t learn much about the actual herbs.

I think it was a reaction to all the stress that I’ve had lately, but I was ridiculously nervous about giving this talk – as nervous as I had been the first time, yet for subsequent talks I’ve been only slightly so. I was so bad that I didn’t eat all day (unheard of for me!) and took a long time to calm down afterwards.

I did get positive feedback afterwards and all the handouts summarising the talk were taken, so I think it went alright despite the nerves.

If you are interested, you can see the summary here.

Working week routines.

I am back to working Mondays and Tuesdays at the hospital now that K’s back from her holidays, so though those two days seem to be frantic, I’m coping slightly better as I know I get to escape the other days. I have lots of overtime to use up sometime, but somehow I haven’t yet managed it as there’s always more work to do than can be accommodated in the normal hours. Last week, on a day when I don’t work, there was a fairly important meeting which I felt the need to attend so I went to that, though it was held in North Tyneside not here. My manager should also have been attending but was off sick and at first I thought I had better just stay quiet then and feel my way along. Once I was there, however, I just thought “Blow it” – what’s the point of being there and saying nothing? I can’t bear it when people whinge about something without speaking up clearly and trying to work together to put things right. So I raised the points I wanted to raise, backed up by my research made earlier in the week which I printed off. Hmmm, they might not invite me along again 😀 I must admit, I threw caution to the wind and really enjoyed myself. What’s the worst they can do – sack me? Happily for me, the feedback I’ve received this week has been positive and I do feel that we’ve already made some progress in addressing some issues. Even if they don’t invite me back, I feel I played my part this time round, so that’s good. Mind you – now I have even more overtime hours to take back…..

Stephen is still enjoying his work at the shop, though he’s only been doing 16 hours a week until now. Two other members of staff though, have now left to go to Uni, so Stephen will get extra hours – which may come as a shock to his system! 😉 He’s still paying emergency tax at the moment too, which means he’s not bringing home much, and paying us even less than when he was on the dole! Hopefully with the extra hours, and an eventual tax refund, he can start paying his way properly.

Nel is now back at school, attending 6th form. Her friends, unfortunately, did not get the grades they needed so she is on her own – though she says that maybe this isn’t a bad thing as she will have fewer distractions and be able to focus on her work. Happily, the people with whom she has had problems in the past have not returned to 6th form, so we’re cautiously optimistic that she will be a bit more relaxed for these two years. She’s enjoying R.E and Philosophy, and doesn’t seem to mind Art too much. But she hates Sociology and is eager to drop this as soon as possible.

She also had Billy test her eyes last week as she was long overdue and she wanted to ask him about the headaches she gets sometimes where she can’t bear to read, and she wondered if she was dyslexic as she struggles with reading/writing at school sometimes. To her delight, she is slightly long sighted and Billy has prescribed reading glasses for her (only +0.75 strength and he said he normally wouldn’t bother for such a little difference, but felt that it might help Nel’s confidence as much as anything else. He said that he often gets patients like this and they say that the glasses make a huge difference, but usually a couple of years or so later, they’ve stopped wearing them.) I’m pleased that there is something that might help her and she’s pleased as she’s always wanted glasses! Can’t wait to see what style she’s picked. 🙂

Our Clever Girl.

Nel got her GCSE results on Thursday, and was hoping for the 5 passes at C or above, including English and Maths so that she could get into 6th Form after her aborted college plans. As you may remember, she’s had an awful time at school, with bullying, lack of confidence, and difficulties with some teachers. Maths has always been a struggle for her and her English dropped considerably in the last year, making both of these tricky and the latter a serious doubt for a pass. Both the graphics and art exams require a LOT of work/hours and as she was struggling to give 100% to both subjects, she was advised to concentrate on art and not worry about graphics, so she was resigned to failing graphics.

Despite all this, our clever girl got 5 C’s (English Language; English Lit; Maths; R.E; and Graphics) and a B for Art! We are so very proud of her and pleased that she won’t have to worry about re-sitting any. It’s taken a lot of determination for her to get through but she’s done it and we hope she will now go from strength to strength with her chosen A Level subjects.

College fun and games!

The Sunday before Nel and her friend were due to start their 2 weeks summer course at college, Billy and I drove in with them so that we could find the bus stop and walk the route they would have to take on their own each day. Billy was in charge of navigating – both in the car and on foot – but when we arrived in Newcastle, it was to find that the road leading to the car park where he’s planned we’d park, was blocked off. So we ended up stuck in a one way system taking us out of town and along the coast road – heading for the Tyne tunnel! Luckily, despite not being a driver, Billy has a fantastic sense of direction and he eventually managed to bring us round for another attempt though of course, the roads were busy with others doing the same. About an hour later than planned, we finally parked in a different car park, and set off to walk to the bus stop where the girls would need to catch the bus home. No problem there, as it was a main stop, so then we set off towards the college and to find the stop where they’d need to alight in the mornings.

Ah! Billy had an idea of the route the bus took and managed to get us along the road which he thought may be the one, but the bus stops didn’t give any clues. I ended up sending a text to Stephen’s friend who already attends the college to ask where the stop was, and meanwhile, we walked around to see if there were any other possibilities. There were! SO we really needed to know which stop it was, and thankfully Stephen’s friend called and clarified it for us. After that it was easy enough to work out the route to the college and the girls assured us that they were happy that they knew where they were going. We then had to dash back home for Nel to take delivery of a (Siberian) hamster that she had arranged to babysit whilst her friend was away on holiday. We just made it.

On Monday morning, I woke the girls at 6.30 so they could leave the house at 7.30 and wished them a good day. However, all morning I received texts from Nel saying: “We arrived OK”; “This is boring”; “Think I’ve made a mistake with this course”; “This is not what I want to do”; etc. I got more depressed as the day wore on and sent a text saying they had to give it a chance! They didn’t say too much in the evening and all I said was that they’d need a “Plan B” if they didn’t like college.

Off they went again on Tuesday but towards the end of the morning, I received a call from Nel saying that they wanted to quit and return to the local school as 6th formers instead. I was disappointed but said that it was her life and we’d talk that evening. After a long day at work, I talked to Nel’s friend’s mum on the phone for a while before spending a considerable time chatting to the girls. They were very upset with eh way they’d been treated at college and apparently the tutor had said that drawing cartoons was not enough and the standard of their art was not good enough and that they shouldn’t have got onto the course! This was rather out of order, I felt, as they’d passed their interviews and portfolio checks, but were still belittled in front of the other students – who were also prejudiced against cartoon art.

We discussed their options and as neither of them is ready for the world of work (in their own and in our (parental) opinions) going back to 6th form seemed the only logical choice. We did also discuss life in general and how one has to make the best decisions at the time, that life is not perfect and sometimes we have to grit our teeth and do things we don’t like, but that we should still be trying to enjoy it as much as possible without harming ourselves or others. I tried to encourage them to see this as a new chapter in their lives, with a clean start and the chance to think a bit more about what they want to do with their lives. I don’t know how much they took on board or found useful but they did both seem happier after we’d talked.

The next day they went to the school and enrolled for 6th form, though they have yet to finalise their subject choices. Nel wants to do Art, R.E and Philosophy at A level, but she is struggling a bit to find the obligatory 4th subject. She thinks it may be Sociology, or possibly Psychology. First she needs her 5 GCSE passes at C or above, including English and Maths. Fingers crossed – for the results AND for this being the right choice this time!

Where’d those 2 weeks go?

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last blogged. Life seems to be running away with me again. (Does it ever NOT?)

Billy and I watched the England football team in a boring 6 – 0 win over Andorra. Yes. Boring. Somehow it was a very tame game but a good run-out for our boys who seemed to be enjoying themselves at least. I didn’t think enough credit was given to Andorra whom everyone knows is really just there to make up the numbers. Yes, better teams SHOULD beat them, and comfortably, but poor little Andorra turned up, TRIED to play football, and competitions need those entrants who “make up the numbers” else it would spoil it for all. Their players all have day jobs and play only part time, and I for one, thought they did their country proud to come and have a game. Well done Andorra. Well done England. And, although I haven’t watched them lately, very well done to England’s U-21’s for doing so well and getting into the semi-finals of the U-21 European championship. (An extra happy well done to the three Blue boys in defence – Joe, Ned and Micah. 🙂 )

Mum and I watched this year’s Troop together on Saturday 13th June and we thought that the Irish Guards did a great job. We couldn’t believe, though, that 60% of them had never done it before because dad used to do it nearly every year when he was a Guard! We’d have weeks of boot polishing and white dubbing before hand (we didn’t dare so much as LOOK at those boots, never mind breathe on them or get within a couple of inches of them!) and plenty of early morning rehearsals. Anyway, we like to watch the Troop still, as did dad after he left the army. Unlike him, we don’t shout at any wobbly lines, but we do know what to look for. We can even almost give the commentary 😉 (They forgot to mention that the band’s manoeuvre known as the pinwheel is not written down anywhere, and that the kettle drums require the horse rider to steer with his feet! Tut, tut!) It was a good show, the Queen looked as magnificent as ever – and despite seeing this every year for a LOT of years, she still manages to look interested and appreciative. Mind you, who wouldn’t, knowing every man here would give his life for her and be proud to do it? (To digress a moment, there was a recent news article about a breach in security amongst the firm hired to guard the royal vehicles. HIRED firm? Erm, s’cuse me, there’s an army (literally) of men sworn to serve who would willingly do the job, be proud to do so, and would not allow such foolishness. AND they’re already being paid! D’oh!)

Mum’s almost back to normal after her hip op now so I am going down for shorter stays just to do the odd thing which she still can’t – like changing beds and shopping etc. We’ve spent our time constructively still and we both feel pleased with what we’ve achieved during her convalescence. One bonus is that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know and love Rocky who was so very shy at first but now seems happy to have me there. (I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with the titbit of bacon he gets when I have my breakfast 😉 ) Mum has taken some photos of him, including one with me so this is Rocky, aka “Muldoon” and isn’t he gorgeous?


Rocky & Lavender


City have got new shirts coming out for the new season – complete with new sponsors and they are BEAUTIFUL!
City Third
Home: City Home
Away: City Away

I will definitely be pre-ordering the home kit (I always have the home shirt every season and get very good value out of it.) I rarely buy the away shirts but this one is so lovely, Billy has said he will buy it for my birthday 🙂 The third kit is also great but it’s very similar to one of the early 2000’s ones that I already have so I can live without it. All three shirts are soooooooooo good and City fans all seem to agree on this. Sadly for Newcastle, the football fans of various clubs also agree that their new away shirt is DIRE! They have such a large and loyal follwoing that even in these troubled times, you’d think the one place they can guarantee bringing in some money is through shirt sales. Alas, I suspect not many will be wanting to look like bleached wasps! Talk about kicking a dog when it’s down!

At home, Billy finally sorted out the garden for me and washed it, took rubbish to the tip and put the furniture out – now I just need time to go and enjoy it! Just when he thought he could relax, our washing machine decided that spinning made it too dizzy and stopped doing it! It was a day that I had a full wash load in, bedding to go next, and then Raji suddenly decided that having put no clothes in the laundry basket before hand, he nevertheless desperately needed clothes for work next day! AGH! I had to do all those three wash loads and drip dry them on the washing line, hoping for the best! Luckily, the weather was glorious and it worked, but the poor old machine had to go. Since I drive the thing, I decided it was the mens’ job to remove it and bring in Raji’s washing machine from its storage place in the shed, and then plumb it in. They did this on the Tuesday night and now my Chinese laundry is running again. 🙂 (Note to self: we now owe Raji a washing machine and a sofa-bed when he moves out one day.)

We’ve both been working very hard but we’ve managed to escape to the pub for post-work drinks with Paul and Steph a couple of times which has been really relaxing and enjoyable. And speaking of work –

Stephen’s got a job 🙂 Initially just 16 hours a week but with plenty of scope for more shifts. He is working at the shop which Paul used to manage when it was an off-licence and is now an off-licence-come-corner-shop. It’s a start and as well as bringing in some money for him, might start him on the path to working out what he really wants to do with his working life. We’re pleased for him and hope it all goes well.

Nel has now finished her GCSE’s and so we can do nothing but wait for results in August. Next week she is attending college before the start of her course in September and we’re still trying to work out buses. They don’t make it easy!

And there’s another 2 weeks of my life gone, though I haven’t included Raji’s birthday as it deserves a post of its own which I shall try and do in the next few days.


Apart from the fact that I’ve been spending part of each week at mum’s, generally, things have been settling at home.

Billy and Raji are now into their cricket season (oh joy! Two lots of cricket whites to wash each week 😉 ) Billy is first team captain this year – which he assured me would NOT require him to keep going to a weekly meeting which he did last season as the club’s secretary. However, I currently still lose him to cricket for nets on a Friday night, the game on Saturday afternoons and evenings, and he IS going to selection meetings on Wednesday evenings. Then there will be cup matches to play on a Sunday or a weekday evening – oh and he has had to umpire the ladies’ team once too. And don’t get me started on the huge bags of cricket stuff that clutter up the house… 😉 Still, on the whole, I don’t really mind cricket as much as I did – and the pair of them have even managed to educate me slightly on the finer points. I can just about cope with 20-20 cricket now if it happens to be on, though I’d still rather watch paint dry than the let’s-take-three-days-and-only-hit-the-balls-we-feel-like test cricket. We have a week away planned in July, but it has to fit in around cricket so we can’t leave until the Sunday and have to travel back on the Friday. I’m slightly put out that every summer Saturday is taken up with Billy working in the mornings and playing cricket the rest of the day but as long as he spends quality time with me/at home on Sundays I will put up with it. We are settling into the summer routine now anyway and Billy’s currently cleaning up the garden so maybe we can spend an evening or two out there together over summer too.

Raji is well settled at work now and I think he’s enjoying both the Monday to Friday job working in accounts at a telecoms company, and his bar work in the evenings and weekends. His room is still somewhere he just plonks his stuff and sleeps, but I think he looks more relaxed now and he’s certainly putting back the weight he lost and looks much better for it. Now we just need some lovely lady to notice what a good looking man he is and make him complete – and in the meantime I will try and continue house training him for her 😉

Nel is in the midst of her GCSE’s and seems to be fairly calm and in control so hopefully the results will be good, and good enough for college. We’re pleased with her attitude and really hope it pays off for her. As well as getting the required exam passes, she has to attend summer school for two weeks at college which is apparently unique to the arts department and is by way of a getting to know you time before the term proper starts. This is fine – except we have to find the £22 per week bus fare for this. Agh! She’s also sorted out all her clothes and has very few left that fit her. The poor girl didn’t get a proper wardrobe shop last year in either spring or winter, as money was rather tight, so we definitely owe her some clothes. I’ve found her a few bits, though I find it hard to second guess her taste at times. (Shoes are a NIGHTMARE!) Hopefully we can find the funds to let her get what she needs as we want her to feel confident about herself for college as well as the fact that she does need new clothing.

Stephen flits in and out, especially now the summer is here, and still no sign of a job yet. He has applied for a couple, and I keep my eyes open and mail him any likely looking ones. It’s hard to tell how seriously he takes job hunting at times, though so far he HAS handed over his rent without complaining that we’re taking over half his money. We feel we need to do this to be cruel to be kind, and goodness knows we need the money too. He’s been making the most of my absences to leave a mess around the place – especially the kitchen, and then when I try and tell him off, the idiot makes me laugh – by suggesting I stand on a chair or wear heels so I can be taller than him. I’m still keeping faith in him at the moment though I am a little disappointed in him.

I’ve missed the kittens when I’ve been away, though of course, bonding so well with Rocky has been lovely. I do feel I’m getting there with them now – they are starting to develop their personalities more and I do feel they love their mummy and know she loves them. Zeb will even hold still for five minutes so I can cuddle him and he loves to sit next to us on the sofa and snuggle in to our side. Zara loves her cuddles still and is very sweet natured and makes your heart just melt. Physically, they’ve grown though are not yet fully grown I think. Zeb is still very lanky but has filled out a bit, with tough fur a firm, skinny little body. Zara is short and plump with very fluffy fur and a soft little body. They both love going in and out of the cat flap at will, but they don’t seem to wander far, which is good – I worry now about them crossing the road where Tinks was killed, but it’s cruel to keep cats in so I just have to hope they stay safe. Timmy comes and goes as he pleases and enjoys lots of attention when he’s in. He loves this weather and goes off for a few days at a time but when he returns he seems quite happy to accept that the kittens are part of the family now – though Zara remains his favourite.

Work is busy as ever, and I feel it’s taken a long time to settle in to the new office – but at last I feel we may be starting to do so. My new colleague, K, has been with me for 3 months now and has, as I thought, picked things up very quickly and is excellent. Between us we do get lots done and we’re even starting to address the backlog of things that have been left for so long due to lack of time/staff. Our new desk arrived at last, but was a complete disaster! It’s utterly the wrong design with not enough leg room, but eventually we have worked out, with the works department that our best bet is for them to chop it up and adapt it as it is non-returnable and is no use to anyone else in the hospital. Hopefully our manager will be able to stop coming over to cover soon, which means that K and I can really settle into our own routine and system. This will make work much more pleasurable I think, although already, the new rooms and having windows have made a big difference and it’s lovely to look out and see what the weather is doing and feel part of the world.

Having had only one day a week at my own clinic for weeks and more recently, two days, has meant that I’ve been kept busy on those days, but I have more or less managed to stay on top of things. I’ve kept my existing patients supplied with heir prescriptions, and I’ve managed to see a couple of new patients too. One patient is an aromatherapy student and asked if we could trade therapies instead of her paying for her consultation, and I agreed. I was a little wary as I was doing this on trust and I haven’t (amazingly) ever had aromatherapy before. I needn’t have worried as she was very good and the massage she gave my back and shoulders was heavenly – I’m looking forward to the next session this week 🙂 I also have a young toddler in need of some medicine and I prefer to use glycerin tinctures for such young children. Unfortunately I can’t buy them ready made so I need to make it – which is a problem without an airing cupboard to provide the constant warmth. (In this age of combi-boilers, airing cupboards are becoming obsolete and certainly, I don’t have one.)Luckily though, mum still has one and so I have started brewing my witch’s concoction the medicine there, having ordered the required dried herbs to be delivered to mum’s in advance. The only thing with which I am really behind at my clinic is those blasted accounts to give to the accountant for my tax return. 🙁 Stephen helped me by doing a lot of work with them but I still have not found the time to finish them off – partly because I’m a bit stuck, and partly because it’s a job I hate so much. Any budding accountants fancy a trade of skills? 😉

As for me, personally, I’m starting to get things done I think. I finally got my garden pots all planted up so that they could start growing (and managed to pull my hamstrings in the process which was VERY painful for a few days.) I’ve sorted out my summer clothes – in hopes that we DO get one this year, and have even had my legs out a few days already! 🙂 I had a few scratches on the car where I’d scraped mum’s garden wall (it’s a real pig getting in to her drive and I did it the day of her op when my mind was elsewhere) but I decided that rather than pay a couple of hundred pounds to have it repaired, I’d attempt it myself. I buy a car to drive until it dies rather than to sell on, and I’m not overly precious about it looking shiny and new, so it was worth having a go myself as my only aim was to prevent rust and hence further damage, and to make it look reasonable. I bought the stuff I needed, including the correct make of paint for the grand sum of £13.99 and I did a reasonable job I thought. Then yesterday, I managed to do it again, but far worse! Chunks of metal have been torn off, there’s a dent in one passenger door and bare metal showing in places. Yikes! (There was a combination of factors involved which together conspired – but I’m going to be utterly paranoid about mum’s drive now – when I’ve been managing it for years!) I was rather down at first, but as I drove home I realised that: no-one had been hurt and there was no damage to any third parties or their property; the car was still perfectly drivable so I wouldn’t be without it; and best of all – I hadn’t just spent £200 getting it repaired! I’ve decided to give it a go myself again, and though it really won’t look much, it should at least be less noticeable and it should stop it rusting. Let’s hope I don’t manage a hat trick!

So, life is settling a little after all the stressful events of the last couple of years and I’m daring to hope that maybe, just maybe, we can have a settled year or two now. Sssssssssssshhhh.

Monday in waiting, hoping, and laughing.

Billy and I both had Monday off work so that we could accompany Nel to her 1pm college interview for a place on the National Diploma in Art & Design course. We’d decided we’d leave home at 12 noon so as to have plenty of time to find it, park, and find the right department. This gave me a couple of hours first to get a few things done around the house and for Nel to gather together the required paperwork and her portfolio. I was very nervous about it because if she didn’t get accepted, I couldn’t see what she’d do in September as I really feel that 6th form would not suit her at all.

Billy was navigating (and he’s a very good one despite not driving himself. I swear you could blindfold him, put him down in any town/city in the country and he’d somehow find his way to where he wants to be) as I hate trying to drive and find the way at the same time. He’d decided to dismiss the college’s directions and go his own way, which was absolutely fine by me. His way was much better and we found it easily, though as the car park was full, we were given a ticket so we could park free of charge in the nearby multi-storey.

Somehow, Billy and I ended up carrying Nel’s portfolio for her, but we found the building we needed easily enough, said “hello we’re here” and then waited. We had already been informed that our presence during the interview was not required so we told Nel we’d stay in the building, and would wait in the little coffee shop area opposite. After she went through to be seen, we got ourselves a coffee and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We saw Nel appear and follow a staff member to another area, so we sat back to wait some more. Followed by more waiting.

Again, she emerged so I got up to take her portfolio pictures off her (they were quite large and a bit of a handful) only to be motioned away as she had more to do yet! So we settled again to yet more waiting. As time passed and we got to the hour and a half mark, we were getting more and more nervous and took it turns to ask each other whether all this time being taken was a good sign or a bad one. Of course, Billy was also suffering pre-match tension before the do-or-die Newcastle v Boro match that night.

Finally, after 2.5 hours of watching other would-be students emerging and departing, Nel reappeared and walked towards us. In rather sick little voices, we asked “Well?” and she said “Well what?” AGH! “DID YOU GET IN?” Oh. Yes.” she replied very casually! She just has to get the required grades in English, Maths and Art and she’s in! WOOHOO! WHAT a relief! Now we just need to hope she can get those grades – but at least she knows what she needs and she knows she has a place reserved.

Billy had the lovely idea of treating her to a meal at our favorite Chinese which was round the corner, and Nel seemed pleased with this. We enjoyed taking her there – her first proper Chinese meal since being allowed to eat wheat, remember – and the food was beautiful. For the first time, she got to try pancakes and noodles with her meal, and she seemed relaxed and happy – and of course she was entertained with tales of previous meals there – laughing at Billy’s expense 🙂

On the way home, we dropped Billy at a convenient place for him to travel into town for his match, and we went home (with a doggy-bag of the food which was just too much for us to eat at the restaurant – which Raji had for tea after he’d finished work)

In the evening, I was sitting in the living room, debating whether to watch the football, when Stephen and five friends came in and wanted to watch it. So we all sat together and enjoyed a fantastic match. Newcastle started really energetically and I wondered what Shearer had threatened or promised to get them so galvanized but worried about whether they could keep it up for 90+ minutes. When they conceded early on to an own goal, one of Stephen’s friends asked why a Boro player was celebrating so enthusiastically as though he’d scored. Another had me in stitches when he observed that “someone has to, and Newcastle aren’t going to are they?” 😀 Another fit of the giggles was triggered when Zeb had a mad minute and, as kittens are wont to do, ran around as though being chased by an invisible foe. He leaped up onto the sofa which I and one friend were seated, jumped the gap to the other and bounded across each of four laps in quick succession, with arched back, tail up and claws out. The startled looks on the boys’ faces was priceless and I just found it hilarious. 😀

Anyway, back to the match – we could only hope Newcastle would find a goal from somewhere – and they did! And another! In fact when that second went in, we all leaped up and cheered so much that all three cats flew out of the cat-flap at light speed! (Previous, older cats learned never to relax when we were watching a football game.) The atmosphere came across really well on the TV and Stephen wished he’d had the foresight to get a ticket. Everyone had been given a flag to wave and they looked great. (Billy broke his when he celebrated that second goal, though eh still brought it home.) The third goal was deserved when it came too and along with other chances, was a fair reflection of the game. Credit to Boro for making it a good game to watch but Newcastle were on another level and were worthy winners.

If only they’d played like that against Portsmouth who were very poor, they’d be looking a lot safer, but let us hope that this result gave them the momentum to do well in their last two games (Fulham at home and Villa away) Even as a semi-neutral that had been a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining match, rounding off the day nicely and I said goodnight to Stephen and friends feeling satisfied with the day’s events.

Black Blobs, Blood, Bargains and Beasties.

Well Billy and I spent a nice day and evening together on Bank Holiday Monday, eating, walking and watching films. I also took pity on him and did 2/3 of the ironing backlog, leaving him only a little to finish off. 🙂 We’re well on the way to planning a short summer holiday and if we’re really lucky, we’ll be able to sneak off to it alone (though if any of the other three want to come, they will be welcome, of course.)

I hardly saw Raji or Stephen as they were mainly out, but I did get to spend a bit of time with Nel whilst I re-dyed her hair black – and this time managed to get a blob on my face so it looked like I had a “beauty spot” ! (Last time, I managed to get a blob on my hair so that I had a blonde streak with a black spot in the middle!) I’d never make a hairdresser, but her hair looks better in readiness for her college interview. She had a letter detailing the things she must take with her to the interview as she will be told on the day if she is accepted, and she would then need to provide these things for her enrollment. Portfolio, birth certificate(and change of name certificate) are no problem, and exam certificates are not yet applicable. But what on earth was a “National Record of Achievement” ? It turns out it’s a self summary of her schooling as filled in at the end of the last school year. Hers apparently went something like this:
Do you enjoy school? NO
Do you do extra-curricular activities? NO
and so on! Hm! Keep those fingers (and toes) crossed for Monday!

The hospital post-grad education meeting this week was very interesting and was about the new style of anti-coagulant drugs that are coming soon. This was of particular interest to me because of mum’s experiences after her op and because the consultant who was giving the presentation made a lot of references to the needs of orthopaedic patients. Poor mum finally got to the end of her 28 days of self-injecting with anti-coagulants (low molecular weight heparin ) which was a very traumatic experience for her as she felt she did not do it correctly and no-one gave her any help or support with this. In the future, patients should be able to take a tablet once a day which will be so much easier (and probably therefore more effective!) In short, the current drugs interfere with the whole cascade of blood-clotting mechanisms to inhibit the process, but the new drugs are much smaller and target specific parts of the mechanisms and can therefore be adapted to the specific need. Currently there is a difficult balance between preventing clots without causing actual bleeding but the new anticoagulants may be able to target specific stages of the process to fine tune the level of anti-clotting action. If that didn’t mean a thing to you, never mind, but take my word for it that it was interesting. 🙂

Back at mum’s, we had the exciting task of unpacking and setting up her latest bargain of a new toy – a new LCD, HD ready TV with Freeview, integral DVD player and iPod docking station! This was replacing her old TV in the kitchen and it was a good price and did everything she needed. We had no trouble setting it up, and apart from having to nip out and get an aerial lead extension, took no time at all. Even though mum’s area doesn’t make the digital switch until November, most channels are already accessible and not a bad quality at all. (Better than us – we don’t switch until 2012 and can’t receive anything at all unless we use Sky!)

Mum has also been wanting to buy Tom Jones’ latest album but couldn’t find it in the shops and thought she’d buy the download instead. So I helped her to download it from Amazon (for the bargain price of £7.99) and then we saved it to her laptop, and to her MP3 player, and then I taught her how to burn a CD too. There’s no stopping this woman – she’ll have more gadgets and know-how than the kids soon! 😀

The little mouse that had appeared in mum’s house has not re-appeared so we think he’s gone, thankfully. However, we have a new Beastie alert now! Beetles! Big, black, bold beetles! Ugh! They give me the creeps and they’re huge – well about 3/4″ which is far bigger than I’d like, anyway. We can’t work out where they keep coming from, but they just suddenly appear on the living room carpet (and once, on the sofa behind my head – boy, did I move fast!) I was very brave with the first one and gingerly picked it up inside a piece of kitchen roll and a plastic bag, shuddering and squealing the whole time. However, since that one, I’ve quite unashamedly let a woman on crutches rescue me from them, using her handy pick up stick and kitchen roll 😀 (However she put them in the bin without killing them so heaven only knows where they are now – probably happily breeding in a corner somewhere 🙁 )

As you may recall, Billy and I like Costco and there are a few items which we find it useful to buy in bulk there on a regular basis. For a while we had neither the cash flow nor the time to go, but as mum has one just 10 minutes away from her house, I’ve visited it a couple of times and it’s great to stock up again. I’ve also found a few extra bargains so we are now well stocked with: coffee, coffee papers, squash, cat food, toilet rolls and (clothes) washing tablets. As is mum. Unfortunately, we’ve also discovered their own fresh baked lemon drizzle cake – which is absolutely gorgeous and too tempting to resist. I’ve bought another two today!

I think when mum is fully back on her feet, I am going to have to diet – and save up for some new toys as I’m enjoying playing with them as they arrive 🙂

Nel’s Continuing Education

On Thursday, Nel and I attended an interview with the head of 6th form to discuss staying on after her GCSE’s – it didn’t go well.

She has never found studying easy and has had to work quite hard to get a good wide-ranging education, and she should hopefully come away with at least 5 C’s. We’re really proud of her, and proud that she wants to stay on too. After much consideration, she decided she’d like to do Art, R.E and Philosophy at A Level and this was what she told the head of 6th form. He’s a very “old school” style “master” I think and he was asking her what it was about those subjects that appealed and what she enjoyed about them. Nel doesn’t respond well to people “coming at her head on” and clammed up. He then said that she must do four, not three subjects, at which she baulked. With good reason! I explained that she would struggle with 4 and that I agreed with her that she’d do better to concentrate on doing 3 well, rather than 4 and struggle. He wasn’t having it and we ended up all staring at each other with nothing to say – he wasn’t budging, and neither was Nel! I’m sure when Stephen was in 6th form, they could do 3, and that they could choose other school activities such as first aid, mentoring younger students etc to fill in their time – but when I asked about this it was brushed aside.

I felt quite disheartened afterwards and still felt the same the next morning. Whilst I appreciate the logic of choosing four subjects with a view to dropping one after a year for students who are capable of this, I don’t think this teacher appreciates that not every child is academically gifted. It felt like he was saying it was all or nothing – and surely 3 A Levels are better than none?

On Friday morning, I called into the local Connexions office on spec and spoke to a really nice lady there about what else Nel might be able to do. She was very helpful and I came away convinced that college would be perfect for Nel – the problem was that I had doubts about what she would think about this. I needn’t have worried – she thought it sounded a great idea too!

Not only would she get a change of environment, where they would expect students to be individuals instead of conforming to a trend, but she would be mixing with more mature people and escaping the whole school peer group with whom she has had troubles. She would get free travel there, she could arrange how best to do her work outside of the formal lessons (fewer formal lesson hours than school, but with lots of work outside of lessons, of course) so she could sprawl on the floor to draw which is how she works best. She fancies the National Diploma in Art and Design, which is equivalent to 3 A Levels but because it is less exam based, would suit Nel more.

Billy, Nel and I have read the suggestedcollege’s prospectus and think it looks really good, so now we just have to hope she can get in as this is a relatively late decision and it’s a popular college. Fingers crossed!

Family Round Up


We went to Laura’s Parents’ Evening on Thursday and as usual, managed to see some, but not all, teachers due to the 5 minute times slots. We are pleased with her over all and she has achieved well, particularly in the subjects in which we know she’s always struggled. She has already taken some of her science GCSE papers and got C’s in all but one (an E, but she will resit this one) and she has taken her English Language GCSE paper at Higher level(results in January, but predicted to do OK (Resit if not.)) She’s just had her R.E mock paper marked and she was 6 points off a C – 6 points she could easily have gained by making sure of the wording of the questions, so hopefully she can manage a C in the real paper. By far her greatest achievement though, is in maths – in which she has always lagged behind her peers. She has caught up really well and is predicted to get a C with continuing hard work. The disappointing area, for her, is in Art and in Graphics. In these she has done great course work (60% of the total) but has struggled in the mocks due to artist’s block. She’s been feeling completely UNcreative due to other things going on and so if the mocks were the real thing, she’d be looking at an E. Her teacher (the same one for both subjects) has been doing all she can to help, and can only hope that Laura gets her creativity back for the actual exams. As the teacher said, Laura is so very gifted in this area that it would be very sad to see her fail the exams. We did come away feeling encouraged and pleased, and we hope that things will settle on all other fronts for Laura now and that her school work will reflect this.


Has had temporary work this week which has been bliss for the rest of us 😉 He’s been working 9-5 Mon-Fri for a market research company (though he won’t get paid until the end of next month, and it isn’t very much, but it’s a start.) He made me laugh the first day when I asked how the day had been. Having worked there previously for a couple of hours in the evenings, he said “It was OK, but working ALL DAY is SO boring! A couple of hours in the evenings was fun but I don’t like working all day.” 😀 Welcome to the real world, son!

    Billy’s Mum:

Has now had 4 chemotherapy sessions and the latest scan reveals that the tumours in neck and stomach have shrunk which is good news. With luck, by the end of the course, she may earn 18 months remission, which would be a good result.


Is still doing bar work which is helping, and may have a 6 month temporary contract doing office work soon, but he’s still looking for a permanent job – and preferably one that will use the talents he has. I asked some on-line friends for any CV advice for him, though we felt his CV was actually fairly good already, and they did offer some tips which may be very useful. The on-line football fan community has demonstrated yet again a wealth of knowledge and a generosity of time and effort. 🙂

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