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

Mum’s birthday weekend.

Last weekend it was mum’s birthday so Nel and I went down for the weekend and I was really looking forward to it having not seen mum since our Boxing Day trip when I was poorly. We left at 4.30pm on the Friday so that we could have the full day on Saturday before returning Sunday afternoon. Nel wanted to sleep downstairs on the fold-out camp bed this time as a picture had jumped off mum’s bedroom wall last time and spooked Nel so much she didn’t fancy sleeping in there again.

The next morning, mum had woken up early and made herself a cup of tea to drink in bed so when I poked my head round her door to sing “Happy Birthday” she told me she’d put the coffee machine on for me and I was welcome to pour a cup and join her. So I did and Rocky was hilarious! He had been sitting on the floor at mum’s side of the bed and then he walked round to mine and glared up at me. I laughed at him and we wondered what was the matter as he’d been doing the same to mum. We decided that maybe he didn’t like me getting sitting in his mummy’s bed, and he carried on glaring which just made us giggle. When we got up, we crept downstairs and made our breakfast – mum had her usual porridge and I had my usual bacon bagel. I walked in to the living room with my food to be greeted by Rocky sitting in the middle of the floor – evidently waiting for me, or rather, for his bits of bacon which I always save him for when I’ve finished eating. Aha! THAT was why he’d been glaring at us! After he’d had his bacon, he disappeared contentedly without a backward glance πŸ˜€

Once Nel was awake enough to join us, mum opened her cards and presents and she had lots of lovely ones from friends, family and colleagues – ex-colleagues now since she has finally managed to retire at the end of January πŸ™‚

Nel had taken a beautiful picture of Rocky at Christmas and she’d printed and framed it as a birthday present, and we’d given her a voucher for a manicure now that she is a lady of leisure as she recently expressed a wish to have a professional manicure sometime.

When we were showered and dressed we went out to the shops and though I’d said I would be happy to take her next day, mum insisted she’d just as soon do her grocery shopping today and get it done, even if it was her birthday. We did, however, have a quick look in a couple of other shops and a drink and sweet treat in Costa as well πŸ™‚ On the way home, we dropped off Nel at her friend’s house for the afternoon and we had a cooked dinner before going out to the match – though we were,at this point, still debating whether we should go as it had apparently snowed heavily in Manchester (but it was just rain/sleet in Chester.) Eventually, by the end of a yummy dinner of braised steak, we decided we’d go, but be prepared to turn back if we felt it necessary. Happily, we made it OK and I’ve blogged separately about the match.

I’d had to concentrate on the drive home – 8″ snow in Manchester gradually became slushy snow then deep surface water on the roads back to Chester. However we’d had a fantastic afternoon and after picking up Nel on the way, had a nice celebratory drink before bed time.

On Sunday morning mum and I repeated our cuppa-in-bed-before-breakfast and this time Rocky was happy to curl up with us and patiently wait for his bacon πŸ™‚ After looking at all mum’s lovely retirement cards and presents, we went out to get the new hoover we’d seen the day before but had wanted to read reviews on before buying. We then had a gorgeous dinner of roast lamb before Nel and I took our leave and headed home. I had missed mum having been used to seeing her a bit more often than the time between these visits and I think all three of us enjoyed our weekend just being girls together. πŸ™‚

The drive home was mainly through pea-soup fog and we generally had to just follow the lights in front of us – happily on motorways that’s not such a difficult thing – although there were still one or two idiots who didn’t feel they needed fog lights on -and in some cases, ANY lights! We got back around 6pm and Billy returned from his match about an hour and a half later, bringing takeaway for everyone after winning his bet on both the score and first scorerthanks Newcastle and thanks Mr Ba πŸ™‚

Birthday breakfast, cake, and Chinese.

Thursday was Nel’s birthday and she wanted me to have the day off work so I worked overtime on Wednesday and Friday this week, making it a strange week for me.

She wanted breakfast in bed at 6.30am (as she was working) so I agreed to do my best, but I don’t use an alarm to wake up, I just wake naturally. I woke up at 6.17am so I leapt up, ran downstairs and after feeding the cats, made Nel’s bacon sandwich and drink, arranged them nicely on a tray with serviette and presented it to her at 6.30am on the dot! πŸ™‚ I then left her to eat to open her cards and presents. We’d given her the “Thor” DVD as requested as well as her usual cash and she had a card and present from Mum, and cards from Rick and from an aunt.

When the children were little I always used to make them a birthday cake decorated with whatever character or picture they wanted. Over the years I’ve done everything from Power Rangers to Forever Friends and used to enjoy the challenge. As they’ve grown older, they haven’t wanted them any more, but this year Nel decided she DID and the picture she gave me to try and reproduce on a cake was this:


Well I had great fun and games trying to mix the right colours for the icing for a start! The red food colouring I used turned the white icing a peach colour instead of pink! So I tried again with the red gel food colour and thankfully this WAS pink, but I still couldn’t get the exact shades I wanted.


Eventually I started the design, and it was much harder than I remembered from when the children were little! I struggled resizing the picture, even allowing for overlapping the sides a little, and I wasn’t happy with the accuracy, but in the end decided I wasn’t going to achieve perfection and just did my best.


(The flash on the camera has drained much of the colour – the icing is pinker than it looks, and I used the peach colour as the background.)

I stuck with it and Nel came in to watch me finish it, just as I was bemoaning the lack of black icing colour – which she just happened to have upstairs having used it for her art occasionally πŸ™‚ To my utter frustration, when I tried to use the red gel colour to outline the mane, it looked dreadful and ran everywhere so I attempted to remove it – ruining the whole thing πŸ™ Nel remarked how we were similar in spending hours on something, wanting perfection and feeling like scrapping the whole thing when one of the finishing touches spoiled it. Well at least she understood, and could appreciate that I’d spent hours and done my best. (It tasted good anyway πŸ˜‰ )


In the evening, Nel, Billy and I enjoyed a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of win whilst watching “Captain America” (the last of the series of Avengers films out thus far which we had yet to see) It wasn’t bad but not the best of them (Thor was my favourite, and Nel’s too.)

The last bit of her birthday celebration was a sleepover at the weekend, but the day itself was over and I think Nel quite enjoyed it, which was the object of the exercise πŸ™‚ It’s hard to believe that my BABY is now 19!

Quiet but pleasant New Year 2012

Although I wasn’t quite 100% better, and Billy had started to sniffle, we both wanted to keep our annual New Year’s dates with our friends so we did so but kept it low-key.

On New Year’s Eve we met up with Simon & Claire, Sol & Louisa, Tim & Geraldine, and Raji and had a quick drink (orange juice for me) in Havanna hoping to see Paul, but he wasn’t there. We then all went to the Golden Dragon for dinner and they all had the banquet but as my appetite wasn’t quite back to normal yet I opted to choose just a main dish and had just one (large) glass of wine with it. This proved to be a good choice as I doubt I’d have managed to eat the banquet yet thoroughly enjoyed my lemon chicken and noodles and polished it all off, to my surprise. It was a nice quiet, but very pleasant evening with good company and delicious (as ever) food. When we’d finished, we went to the Tap & Spile for a drink and found the town to be very quiet for a New Year’s Eve – presumably people just don’t have the money/energy this year for big celebrations. I debated what to drink as I didn’t want to mix and opted for a port & lemon in the end – a drink we often used to have at Christmas when we were children so it fitted the mood nicely. I’d assumed we’d stay there to welcome in the New Year but apparently not, and we decamped again to the Grapes – at least this year the music was quieter. I’d had enough alcohol by then and had a lemon & lime, but had I known we were changing pubs I’d have had my drinks the opposite way round so that I could welcome in 2012 with a proper drink. As soon as we’d seen in the New Year, we left and were in bed well before 1am.

Much to my disgust, as with last year and the one before, I felt dreadful the next morning, and once again, it can’t have been drink related. I don’t understand why I always feel so ill on New Year’s Day because neither drink nor late night are unique to this time of year πŸ™ Again, as in the past, I did start to feel a little better by the time we left to go to Pat’s for our usual New Year’s Day meal and games. On the way, we popped in to Wetherspoons – hoping to see Roger Junior & Senior, but they were not in. We then found out that Junior was in Havanna so we went to wish he and Steph a Happy New Year and had a quick drink with them. (Orange Juice for me again.) Typically, Paul and Billy decided on a second drink, making us late arriving at Pat’s, which had the knock on effect of making dinner later than planned and meant that Raji had to miss out as he had to go to work. (He ended up grabbing a couple of chocolate bars as his breakfast/dinner on the way πŸ™ ) It was decided during the course of the afternoon, that as Raji had missed out and Barbara wouldn’t be here next year, we’d have another get together in February sometime. As it turned out, despite the boys’ protests to the contrary, we had all run out of steam for the games by midnight and since the girls were 3-2 up, we agreed that in February we’d pick up where we left off to give the boys a chance. For dinner we had a gorgeous roast – pork and turkey – with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding to follow. I was absolutely stuffed and couldn’t even manage any cheese and biscuits later, but I’d enjoyed the meal so much that I didn’t mind too much. The between-course entertainment this year was making balloon animals – but I don’t like balloons and hate it when they burst so I only made a token effort with this, butPat really is a wonderful hostess and once again, a good time was had by all.

Annoyingly, City’s game against Sunderland has been shifted to this day, and I made do with Twitter updates to follow it. It remained 0-0 all through until a 93rd minute off-side goal for Sunderland gave them the victory! Unbelievable! Apparently City had had many chances and hit the woodwork a couple of times, but Sunderland had kept playing and by all accounts not undeserving of their 3 points. Ah well!

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here.
MCFC’s extended highlights here.

So, a good day anyway and I wish you all a Happy 2012.

Quiet Christmas at home.

When the children were small I used to have all the presents under the tree but they’d get a stocking from Father Christmas, which he delivered when they were asleep and which they were allowed to investigate when they woke up in the morning – before disturbing me at 6am πŸ˜‰ Of course, as they’ve got older they’ve stayed awake until their stockings arrived and opened them before even going to sleep. Now they’re older still and go to bed way after me, they open them before even going to bed! So I was rather pleased with myself this year when I came up with the cunning plan to leave their stockings in the morning when I woke up – before they were even thinking of waking up! πŸ˜€ But Nel was not amused! She begged, pleaded and finally threatened that I was messing with her autism! So I said “OK. Go and get me your stocking and I’ll fill it now then, as I don’t want to mess with that!” At which point she hesitated. And admitted she’d used it as an excuse. (I’d guessed that.) I said that nevertheless, if she wanted it now, she could have it. So she thought about it and came up with a compromise – since I always get up for the loo in the night, I could do the stockings then. That seemed workable so after she’d closed my door I filled the stockings – well, OK, stocking plus a small bag for Nel and a large gift bag for Stephen as his stocking went AWOL years ago. πŸ˜‰ When I got up at just gone midnight for the loo, I put them outside the kids’ doors – Stephen was out but Nel pounced on ehrs the second I shut my door so I laughed and called out “Merry Christmas” to her πŸ™‚

When I woke up properly at 6 am, I had a pounding headache and my ears were sore so before I had my breakfast and coffee, I took a large dose of herbs* to try and settle it so it wouldn’t spoil Christmas. It took an hour or so before it calmed enough for me to face the day and I had to take a couple more doses during the the morning but it receded enough to let me have my Christmas. Nel was up next and came in to say hello just as I was about to go for a nice bath. We had already agreed that she could open her presents on her own as it causes her a lot of stress opening them in front of other people ( a genuine autistic trait) so she opened them whilst I bathed.

When the men got up and joined us, we all sat together in the living room to open presents together – Nel had the cats’ and hamsters’ pile to open and she had her one from mum as mum had stipulated that we all had to open them together as they were themed. Mum had bought us all a watch each! What a lovely idea and all of them well chosen to suit the individual πŸ™‚

Nel gave the cats their treats and their “cosmic banana – Zara got it first and Nel left it wrapped but she didn’t take long to unwrap it:

The toy had come with a warning that cats go absolutely mad for it so it should be kept well hidden until Christmas and it seemed there had been no exaggeration. All the cats took turns with it, though Zara had had it the most and spent the rest of the day quite literally stoned!


We all did very well – we had fewer presents than in previous years but all of them were perfect and we were happy. Billy bought me a beautiful pair of sapphire earrings; Nel bought me a colour-changing candle, some rose bath salts and bath fizzes and a pretty purple wine glass; Raji bought me a gift set of my favourite perfume; and Stephen bought me a rather fantastic mug:

Stephen rather amusingly, thought he’d had just a key-ring gadget from us and a child’s Thorntons chocolate animal from Raji – we had to tell him he’d missed the money that was wrapped with them! πŸ˜€ Bless him! Billy did well as both kids got him an Amazon voucher which he could use together and get something from his Amazon wish list. One of Raji’s best presents was a huge mug from Nel so he now only has to make cups of tea half as many times whilst still feeding his tea addiction πŸ™‚

After a couple of phone calls to wish mum and Rick a Happy Christmas, we all sat together for Christmas dinner at 1pm – turkey and the trimmings (beef or pork for those who preferred it/wanted it as well as turkey), Christmas crackers (complete with naff jokes, paper hats and a game of charades), Christmas pudding (or syrup sponge pudding/mince pies for those who preferred) with cream or ice-cream, coffee and chocolates. For some reason Billy kept trying to get down from the table and Stephen couldn’t wait to get away either so after a couple of rounds of rather entertaining charades, I gave up and let them go. Nel and Stephen disappeared upstairs, Billy immediately flopped on to the sofa, and Raji helped clear the table. Guess who washed up?! (More herbs helped me through.)

Raji and I sat and watched the Queen’s speech (Billy disappeared for that bit) and I thought she got the tone just right. Well done Ma’am. πŸ™‚

Then at 4pm we all sat together again to watch the last Harry Potter film – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 – both the kids had seen it before, Billy and I had seen all the previous films and had read the book, but Raji had never seen any of the films – so at the end, Nel loaned him her boxed set so he could catch up πŸ™‚ Stephen fidgeted a bit and eventually disappeared, which was a bit disappointing as he knows I like to have the family together on Christmas Day, but otherwise I enjoyed the film and the day.

I was tiring fast but Nel wanted me to watch TV with her at 8pm so I went upstairs and got undressed and read a couple of magazines until then, but really could do without it – my headache was building up again and I felt like I could sleep for a week. I just about made it to 8pm but then Nel said she was too tired too and wasn’t going to watch TV after all. Hooray! Oh dear! She was upset at missing her programme though so I sent a text to mum to see if she’d record it for Nel to watch next day when we visited. That sorted, I collapsed thankfully into bed – and went out like a light.

Merry Christmas everyone. πŸ™‚

(* Herb mix was anti-inflammatory and lymph system boosting: Poke root/puke weed; white willow bark; meadowsweet; liquorice)

Woolly Wedding

Our 7th Wedding Anniversary was apparently our woollen one and with money being tight we’d agreed to only spend £5. (We did get married at a stupid time of year really, didn’t we?! πŸ˜‰ )

I had no idea what to get Billy and confessed as much, saying that hats/gloves/scarves were a bit dull. He said he wanted a new NUFC hat and as he was going to the match at the weekend I gave him the money to pick up his hat πŸ™‚ I also got him a laptop stand the same as mine, using the loose link of it stopping his laptop overheating so it wouldn’t get woolly headed πŸ˜›

He bought me a fleece wrap, again a loose link, but a great idea and very useful since I’m always cold πŸ™‚

Mum knitted us a little bag (one side sky blue and one side black & white stripes) and put inside it the means to have a meal out. πŸ™‚

Since Billy’s working nights and me days, we were unsure at first how to work it – then decided to meet when I finished work and Billy was on his way to his work and go to Wetherspoons for breakfast/dinner. It worked really well and we enjoyed a bit of time together before going our separate ways again. Thanks Mum.

Happy Anniversary Billy.

Stephen’s key to the door.

Stephen was 21 years old on the 15th of this month. I can’t believe my beautiful little baby boy is now officially a man grown.

I had hoped to do something special with/for him to mark the occasion and the City v Newcastle match fell the following weekend so we’d hoped to go to this en famille. However, our plans fell apart when a) Stephen had no idea if he could get the day off work since he’d already had a week off to go to Spain, and he’d booked his actual birthday off already; and b) there were no tickets available in the away end.

We then thought of a party but he wasn’t keen on being stuck at one venue all night. He didn’t want a present as such – he wanted money towards a new computer.

So eventually we gave him money and left him to divide it up as he wanted for computer and going out.

Billy was away that week (working in Berwick) but I had the great idea to meet the children after work on the Tuesday (the actual day of his birthday) and treated them to a beer&burger at Whetherspoons. I reasoned that Stephen would need something to line his stomach before drinking, and we could spend an hour or so together as a family – and it worked out rather well with me enjoying their company and all of us enjoying the food.

Everyone had given Stephen money but mum had also managed to get him a present – she rather cleverly got him a special birthday bottle of Jack Daniels (this being his favourite tipple) so we were most impressed. She also sent him a text hoping he liked having the key to the door – which I had to explain to him πŸ˜€

Much later, during the night, I got up to the loo at half past midnight and Stephen came home – much to my surprise. When I spoke to him the next day he said he’d been too drunk to keep going so come home early πŸ˜€ Must be getting old πŸ˜‰

As I’d been working on the Tuesday, I spent the afternoon with Stephen on the Wednesday – watching DVD’s. He loves getting me hooked on various series so we watched the pilot of Psyche and then a couple of episodes of Chuck season 2. Very decadent, but also very pleasant – I enjoy watching these DVD’s anyway but also enjoy Stephen’s company.

As you may have gathered by now – I am very proud of my son and love him very much.

Spoiled on my birthday.

Nel has been excited and smug for weeks about my birthday present. She chose it, organised payment, with Billy and Stephen chipping in, ordered it, wrapped it and then… put it in my room almost a week before my birthday so it would tease me πŸ˜€

On my birthday – a Sunday this year – Billy brought me a coffee in bed at 6am, having set his alarm specially as he knows I tend to get up early. He then went and made me two bacon rolls for breakfast and brought them to me in bed. I then opened my card and “little something to open on the day” which turned out to be a bottle of very nice wine and some chocolates from Dillies. πŸ™‚ This was more than I expected, knowing he’d chipped in with my big mystery present, AND got me my new City shirt.

When Nel woke up she couldn’t wait for me to open my big present and I was suitably surprised, pleased and grateful when I saw what it was:

Wow! No wonder Nel was pleased with herself! And she’d even thought to buy the batteries too! Having set aside my day to just enjoy doing as I pleased, I planned to have a play later. In the meantime, I opened all my lovely cards that had been arriving during the week, and then my presents from Mum, a City piggy bank and the start of a new collection:

I’ve never even seen these before so am very pleased with such an inspired present πŸ™‚
I also had a bottle of wine, M&S cup-cakes and a gorgeous hand-crafted bangle from my colleague, K, a big pot of Quickies (nail polish remover pads) from colleagues C & J (who laughingly told me the choice of birthday presents in the hospital pharmacy and volunteer shops was a bit limited, but actually it was a good choice as I always wear nail-polish). Later on Raji gave me a boxed set of George RR Martin books, ones which a few people have recommended that I might like.

After being spoiled, I had a relaxing bath and watched a bit of TV – I was determined I was doing no jobs round the house on my birthday. Later, Billy and Raji went out to play in a memorial cricket match (with my blessing, I could see Billy was torn between staying home with me on my day, and playing the game in memory of a member of his cricket club who had sadly died last year.)

For my lunch I had potato salad made by Nel with my cheese on toast, and then birthday cake – also made by my lovely daughter:)

The two of us played with the Wii-Fit in the afternoon πŸ˜€ It was hilarious as we were weighed and measured, lectured, encouraged and scolded in turn! Based solely on my height, weight and my ability to alternate my centre of balance according to little coloured lines on the TV, I was told that I was a couch potato! Me! Who runs round doing stuff all the time and goes to the gym 3 times a week! HA! Actually, I do have good balance but I’m rubbish at computer games and interpreting pictures on the screen and reacting accordingly. We had a play with hoola-hoop, step, yoga, and muscle training games as a little taster. I must admit I’m quite interested in the yoga as I’ve never done this before and it would nicely compliment my gym programme. Apart from finding time, though, having the living room to myself is going to be tricky – Sunday mornings should be OK, but I’ll have to have a think about finding another slot or two. Nel and I did enjoy playing and we had quite a few laughs. She then decided we had to add Zara using the pet programme so she is now recorded as weighing 7lbs. (We weighed Zeb the next day, when we got Billy to have a go, and he (Zeb!) is 9lbs)

When I looked on Facebook in the afternoon, I had so many birthday wishes from my friends that I was overwhelmed but felt lucky to have so many lovely friends.

In the evening, Stephen, Nel and I sat and watched Hot Fuzz together and Billy bought home takeaway, which we had accompanied by one of my birthday bottles of wine πŸ™‚ I hadn’t been too sure about the film choice, but actually I did quite enjoy it and of course, I always love doing things together with my family. πŸ™‚

So I had a very pleasant 43rd birthday with lots of cards, presents and love and everyone had put a lot of thought, effort and money in to spoiling me. Thank you everyone, I had a lovely day. πŸ™‚

Happy Birthday Billy.

34 years young today! (Mind you, he acts as though he’s 9 years OLDER than me with the way he hobbles and moans, but I s’pose his birthday isn’t the time to rub that in πŸ˜‰ )

Not having much money, we had a small family celebration courtesy of party food from Iceland, a DVD, and a birthday cake lovingly made by yours truly πŸ™‚

This morning I took him coffee and bacon sandwich, along with his cards to open in bed. At his request, he mainly received money which he is putting towards replacing his now defunct laptop, so when he got up, he popped in to town to collect his new toy. He also got a very clever “gift voucher” from mum so that he could go to a Newcastle match on her. πŸ™‚

This afternoon, all five of us sat together and watched Iron Man 2 which we enjoyed (I can’t believe it was 2008 when Billy, the kids and I watched Iron Man 1 at the cinema!) and we munched party food and drink. The Iceland range of nibbles was rather nice and we all particularly liked the chicken skewers, and then we finished with the coffee and walnut cake I’d made this morning:


Raji and Stephen were both working this evening hence the early gathering, but it worked out quite well as it has left time for Billy to pack for his forthcoming week away (working) and to play with his new laptop.

Happy Birthday Billy, hope you have enjoyed your day. πŸ™‚

This time last year.

Glad All Over for the Bride & Groom

A few months ago, we received a legal summons in the post. After recovering from the momentary heart-freeze, we saw that it was, in fact, a wedding invitation, cleverly looking like a legal summons. Two of my Crystal Palace supporting friends (he a GP and she an ex-medical doctor now a lawyer, hence the design) were getting married in London and we’d been invited. They are such lovely, lovely people and I felt touched they’d invited us and was keen to attend. Sadly Billy was unable so I made the trip on my own.

I traveled to London by coach on the Friday – 7.5 hours with limited leg room, but otherwise a very smooth journey, though I felt sorry for the poor bloke in front of me who had 4 women talking over, round and through him ALL the way as far as Milton Keynes, where, mercifully, they all got off. I was quite happy just gazing out of the window or dozing and enjoyed having some time just to let my thoughts wander for a change. We arrived at Victoria Coach Station at 5.15pm and as it was a beautiful evening, I decided to walk to my hotel (about an hour’s walk) past Buckingham Palace, up the Mall, across Trafalgar Square and through Theatre land. My backpack was a bit heavy which slowed me down and finally forced me to take the tube for the last little bit – hardly worth it really as I was almost there, but by that time I just wanted to get to my hotel. Exiting Goodge Street station I had a 50-50 choice which way to turn and asked a passerby who thought it might be left but wasn’t quite sure. I reassured him that I would be no worse off than if I’d guessed, and it turned out that he was right. 5 minutes later I was in my room after checking in with the very pleasant receptionist. I’d found the Hotel through Booking.com and though it was still a lot of money to find, with a 45% discount, the room worked out far better value than staying in a smaller B&B or hotel much further away from the wedding venue. (I wanted to stay near that so I wouldn’t have far to travel back alone the following evening after the wedding.) My room was absolutely tiny – but extremely well planned out so that it didn’t feel at all cramped and actually had a relatively good sized en-suite, so I was very happy with it. I had a refreshing shower then spent the evening relaxing in my PJ’s whilst I unpacked, ate a picnic tea and read my book, with the TV on in the background. (It was stuck on BBC1 so I had Question of Sport and My Family which were both quite watchable.)


The next morning I had a lovely, freshly cooked breakfast and then went out to walk the route to The Knight’s Templar in Chancery Lane so that I could see just where I was going later and how long it would take. It was raining a bit so I was glad I’d added my raincoat as a last minute thought, and it only took 20 minutes to walk the route. On the way back I browsed in a couple of the (small) local shops and had a coffee in Costa before returning to my room to get ready for the wedding.

It was absolutely bucketing down with rain when it was time to leave so I decided to abandon the brolley and use my raincoat again and when I arrived (pretty wet, partly thanks to London buses speeding through the very deep puddles near the kerbs!) I folded it up quite small, put it in a plastic bag and put that in my handbag πŸ™‚ My dress was a cotton maxi-dress which soon dried out and I had sandals on my feet so they dried in no time too. I felt rather smug at having done so well πŸ™‚

Guests were offered bacon rolls and coffee on arrival and left to mingle and to find their table place, and almost as soon as I arrived I was greeted by Caz. I need to explain that I know the happy couple through the Crystal Palace message board (BBS) and many of the guests were also BBS members. Some of them I have met before, when attending a Crystal Palace match with mum, or when I’ve been in London for something else and met up with a few people for drinks. I had briefly met Caz once at a BBQ after the last game one season, but not really had a chance to chat so it was nice to do so at more leisure. I discovered that I was on the “St Ives” table, along with Saul, whom I had never met but we’d exchanged a few messages on the BBS, are friends on Facebook and read each other’s blogs. Nathe was also on our table and we all got on well. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, it was surreal gradually identifying people’s BBS username and enjoying meeting them. Sadly, there were many there to whom I didn’t get to talk so next time we’ll have to wear a badge with our names on them! πŸ˜‰ (As it turns out, Catty, a friend I’d mt a few times previously, was there and she has subsequently announced her engagement so the occasion must have been inspiring πŸ™‚ )

St Ives Table:

St Ives table

The whole occasion was absolutely brilliant (one of the best weddings I’ve attended) and was a perfect mix of elegance and tastefulness, with informal friendliness. There was a Crystal Palace theme throughout – the colours were red and blue, we all sang “Glad All Over” to greet the wedding party (background music leading up to this was Selhurst Park match day music which built up the mood nicely), the order of service sheets were presented as match programmes with manager’s notes, team lists and so on. The bride looked absolutely radiant, the groom was adorably anxious, settling later to proud enjoyment and everyone felt so included in the happiness of it all that it was like one big happy family. The speeches were very entertaining, with plenty of references to Palace and the BBS and some hilarious stories about Martin, from Kumar, the best man who also happened to be celebrating his birthday – so we all sang Happy Birthday to him πŸ™‚ We were fed and “watered” πŸ˜‰ very well indeed and later there were Brazilian dancing girls and singing who really added to the evening. It was all absolutely perfect.

I lasted until around 10pm at which point I called a taxi (for safety, not laziness!) and went back to collapse into bed. What a fantastic day – the kind you don’t want to end. I’d met friends old and new (hilariously, after chatting to some most of the day, we only identified each other late in the evening!) It was great to see Saul, Nathe, Caz, Catty, Coulsdon Eagle, Away day Eagle, Mojo Jojo, Lorna, Princess, Nelson Alfie to name a few and I fell asleep with faces and conversations whizzing through my mind.

Photos are courtesy of Saul who kindly let me use them. Thanks Saul.

Many congratulations, Jen and Martin, hope you have the wonderful life together you deserve, and thank you for inviting me to share your perfect day.

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