Nel – benefits and tests.

Having turned 18, Nel has been able to sign on for unemployment benefits whilst looking for non-existent around here work. She was due to receive her first payment last week but when she didn’t receive it, she enquired as to why. It turned out they’d paid her money into the bank account of a man we’ve never heard of! On investigation, they acknowledged that the error was theirs as they did have Nel’s correct bank details, and said they’d send her a bank giro in the post which she’d receive Friday. It didn’t come. Not on Saturday. If it’s not here on Monday she’s going to have to get back in touch with them again. The poor thing is feeling singled out for bad luck at the moment, as she is also waiting anxiously for her ID card (to prove her age for pubs etc.) which she applied for 5 weeks ago, and paid for the premium service so it would come in one week instead of the usual 4 weeks! πŸ™

Nel has been having afternoon naps for a long time now, and I have often teased her about being a lazy teenager and having the sort of lifestyle that even allows for naps! Lately, she’s also been gaining weight – not a bad thing as such, since she’s always been a bit under weight. However, this was 2 stones in just a month! I said I thought she should mention it to the GP when she next went and as she had a routine appointment this week she did so. The GP thinks she has an under active thyroid and has taken blood to test (Nel was very brave as she HATES needles, and veins, and only had a minor dose of the heebie-jeebies.) As it happens, I think Nel has a couple more symptoms of hypothyroidism, including the depression for which she’s been treated for the last couple of years. Hopefully if the test proves the diagnosis, treatment foe the condition may resolve several issues at once and improve her life considerably.

Given the aforementioned fear of needles and veins, my daughter has also bravely and determinedly signed herself up to the Anthony Nolan register. She has been moved by Callum’s leukaemia to want to do something to help people in need. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her for this, as it’s something I also support and have been on the register for 20 years myself.

I hope the outstanding issues soon get resolved, and that Nel can get on with enjoying life as she deserves to do.

Speed Darts!

Just a flying catch-up!

We had a cup game 2 weeks ago, playing away against the Ex Service A – i.e an A league team! The format was doubles and singles only and first to five won. As expected, we very quickly achieved our 0-5 loss and could have an early night πŸ˜‰

Last week we were at home against The Heart and we won! 7-4 to us! We won both trebles games, Roger Snr and I lost our doubles but the others all won, and Billy, Simon and I lost our singles but Roger, Roger and Paul won theirs. My own darts were bad in trebles as ever, but OK in doubles. I threw well in the singles and was going strong until I had a run of five turns in the middle where I was hitting 1’s and 5’s instead of 20’s, allowing my opponent to catch up and then beat me to the finish. A little frustrating but a good game.

I’ve been wondering why my darts have been so near-but-so-far lately and I can’t believe I didn’t realise the cause before! I know my eyesight has changed again and I need a new prescription but I haven’t had the chance to get my eyes tested yet! I’d put money on that being the cause as it’s affected my darts in the past when my sight’s changed. D’oh! Mind you, it’s nice to have a reason, even if there’s nothing I can do about it for now.

My Family.

I was telling a friend that our dysfunctional family should be a sit-com (though actually, I don’t think there’s any such thing these days as a “normal” family so we’re probably not that unusual!):

We have five people in our house.

2 work but hate their jobs.
2 are unemployed and can’t get jobs.
2 do two jobs.
1 does two part-time jobs but also runs the home – everything from accounts/admin, laundry, shopping and cleaning to DIY and decorating.

There is one car in the family.
1 person is qualified and insured to drive it, and pays its upkeep and costs.
1 person is qualified but not insured.
1 person is insured but not qualified.

2 people have health issues and require check ups and medication, and a lot of support at home.
1 person is healthy – with the occasional aid of herbs to help provide the support to the others.
1 person is pretty healthy.
1 person is mainly OK though should take better care of themselves.

2 people have exceptional hearing and hate loud or constant noise, and are considerate of others when playing music, TV or DVD’s.
2 people are deaf as posts and have the volume up very loud on all things without a thought for others.
1 person is selectively deaf, likes a fairly loud volume but happy to turn it down when asked.

1 person is a morning person and likes to be up early but is in bed by 9pm most nights.
1 person has to burn the candle at both ends but sleeps a lot when opportunity allows.
2 people are very much nocturnal but manage to struggle up in the mornings when they have to, then still stay up late at night.
1 person is very much nocturnal and sleeps most of the day and is up most of the night.
(All of which means that the house is active pretty much 24/7!)

1 person is a hoarder and won’t part with ANYthing.
2 people are hoarders but every now and then have a clear out.
3 people are extremely untidy and don’t even notice mess.
1 person notices and can cope with a little.
1 person hates mess and clutter and cannot relax unless everything’s in its place.

1 person sees a job that needs doing and does it.
1 person sees it and usually leaves it but will do it if asked.
2 people don’t see it but agree to do it if asked – but somehow “forget” or don’t get round to it
1 person doesn’t see it at all.

And don’t get me started on the varying eating habits! πŸ˜›

Being good, Feeling noble.

I’ve managed to get to the gym a few times recently and whilst it is far to early to be showing results in terms of muscle tone, I’m definitely feeling better for it as well as feeling very noble.

I have been very stressed the last couple of weeks, with my NHS work (almost to the point of quitting!) and home (juggling new family working routines, the household necessities, plus coping with other family members’ moods and problems) and was feeling pretty on edge myself.

Last Wednesday afternoon in my clinic was so quiet that I decided to do a workout since my clinic is within a gym and I could easily stop and see anyone that came in. Lisa, the manageress of the gym joined me which spurred me on. I fitted in another workout the Friday after I’d seen my last patient and then on Sunday I even went up specially and did another.

This week I managed 3/4 of a workout on Wednesday between patients and am hoping to do one tomorrow (Friday) too – though the weekend is out as I have a football match.We already have joint membership so it doesn’t cost me anything and it’s certainly a constructive and very beneficial way to fight the stress and calm me down.

I just hope I can manage to find the time at least twice a week so I can keep it up.

Brilliant Blue Birthday City 1 – 0 Chelsea!

Saturday was my birthday and in the weeks before it, I’d asked Billy if he’d mind me not spending the day at home because City were playing and I wanted to go to the match. He very nobly said that as Newcastle didn’t play until the Sunday, he’d come with me to my game meaning we could spend the day together πŸ™‚

On Friday I was at my clinic until the afternoon and the girls in the gym and the beauty salon surprised me with a birthday card and present – some choccies and a beautiful blue nail polish for matchdays:

Birthday Matchday Nail Polish

I applied it on Friday night and was very impressed as it lasted through to Tuesday night! My other birthday surprise was that Billy had done half the ironing for me when I got home – which meant I had time for a nice relaxing bath πŸ™‚

So the day itself… we left the house at 6am because it was a lunchtime kick off and we wanted to see friends in the pub first too. I opened my cards first (actually I opened Nel’s the night before, at her request, because she wouldn’t see me on the day itself and was so pleased with the holographic hamster card she’d got me) and I opened Billy’s present – a book, the 5th in the Shardlake series by C.J.Sansom. (I’d told him not to buy me anything as he was giving up his time and money to come with me.)

We had a smoother-than-anticipated journey down, though Billy was mightily hungover from his cricket dinner the night before (before which we’d also briefly popped in to Steph’s 21st birthday party to wish her a Happy Birthday (her birthday is the same day as mine – even to the same HOUR – but she is now exactly half my age! πŸ˜› )) So he mainly snoozed on the way down, in between taking hours to drink a very weak coffee and several loo stops followed by a close inspection of the bushes at the back of the stadium car park!

We wandered along to City Square where Billy felt sufficiently better to sample a burger and then we went into the City Store where he treated me to some new darts flights:


Next stop was the pub and as it was early, it was unusually uncrowded! We saw Spiv first and then Sandy (from Wookies) and his son, and then Dave and Phil. The first thing that caught my eye about Phil was the gorgeous necklace he was wearing which he had got from Sierra Leone on his recent charity trip. I duly admired it and before he’d even got himself a drink or settled, this amazing man took it off and gave it to me! I was so taken aback and tried to refuse as I didn’t want to deprive him of such a lovely and unusual thing but he insisted and said he had more at home. THANKYOU Phil, I LOVE it!

Sierra Leone necklace

Dave and Phil played the role of “ticket daddy” and juggled things so Billy and I could sit together (Phil giving up his own ST seat for us!) and I asked the man who was going to sit in my seat not to give up any leg room for my neighbour who seems to think it’s all his πŸ˜‰

The beers had perked up Billy and we had a pleasant session with our friends and then it was off to the game! I was expecting us to lose this, though I did feel it shouldn’t be such a high scoring one as Chelsea have been enjoying thus far this season.

I was reasonably pleased to get to half time at 0-0 despite the fact that it was a pretty tame half – the two teams cancelling each other out. The second half, however, was a different matter. City were well on top for most of it and I kept waiting for Chelsea to up the ante and play better – but they never did! The only player of theirs that gave me any cause for concern, was Anelka who looked like he wanted a goal badly, but the rest didn’t worry me. City, on the other hand, looked like a TEAM and worked so well together that it was a job to fault anyone. Boyata did an amazing job and impressed me with his performance. The goal, when it came, seemed to happen in slow motion. Tevez had the ball and I waited for him to pass it only he didn’t. Then he ran at goal and took the shot when I thought he was going to try and run some more – I expected the keeper to save it, only he didn’t. But it was going to hit the post anyway so I was convinced it was wide. But it was IN! YES!! Elation all round the stadium! πŸ™‚ I then started anxiously clock watching – 30 mins to hang on. 25. 20. Agh! Too long! 15. 10. Can we possibly do it? 5. Plus 4 minutes. Agh! Will the ref NEVER blow the whistle? And at long last, he did! (Having had a poor game I feel – he let Chelsea repeatedly hammer Tevez and gave City very little, though Ancelotti somehow felt it was the opposite.)

We did it! Thank you City for my birthday win πŸ™‚ 3 points, a 3rd successive victory over “the champions” and an excellent all round performance.

Click here for 60 second highlights and here for Kippax Blue’s photos.

We were kept thoroughly entertained throughout the game by the group sitting behind us who were natural jokers. The best laugh being when someone was spotted warming up and they debated who it was (he was wearing coat and hat) then one commented drily “Well it’s either Ade or Sweep!” Brilliant! (If you’re a non football fan reading this, never mind – suffice to say it’d be obvious a mile away which was which. πŸ˜‰ ) Also of some entertainment was the Chelsea fans rendition of “We’re gonna bounce in a minute” (tune of “There’s only one A. N Other ” ) which had home fans wondering what they were singing followed by absolute bemusement when the visitors stopped singing and started jumping up and down πŸ˜€

We didn’t really have time to go back to the pub afterwards (and would be back in a week anyway for the City v Newcastle game) but we had time to revisit City Square and grab a cuppa. The sun was shining and everyone was relaxed and happy and it was really great to be able to watch the post match interviews on the big screens (the downside of going to the games is that I always miss the interviews and then only read snippets of what they were later in the week.) The MotM, Kompany is as fantastic off the pitch as he is on it and gave a really good interview – he got a round of applause from me when he answered the question about whether or not City could win the title with “You lot need to relax” πŸ˜€ We also bumped in to Norb and his new wife Sophie and spent some time chatting to them and hearing about their honeymoon.

I had had birthday texts throughout the day, including ones from the children and my phone couldn’t cope with all the e-mail notifications telling me I had birthday wishes on Facebook – so I had to wait until Sunday to read those πŸ™‚

Once the car park cleared and we could get away, we drove to Mum’s where she had a perfect birthday meal ready – steak, home made chips, salad, and baguette, accompanied by wine and followed by a beautiful birthday cake complete with score:

Birthday Cake (City 1 - Chelsea 0)

I was also spoiled with lots of presents from mum including a voucher to spend on Amazon, one of my favourite perfumes (which is hard to find) a couple of soft jumpers and a posh shampoo. We just relaxed for the evening and were all struggling to stay awake so had an early night.

Next morning after breakfast, Billy did a couple of jobs for mum which required his height and strength, and then we headed home again so he could get to his match in time. He bought me dinner at Tebay services on the way which was nice and a rare treat (Hope Colin notices this as he likes Tebay services πŸ˜‰ )

It had been a perfect birthday and I wouldn’t have wished it any different. Thank you everyone πŸ™‚

Even jugglers need a rest.

I have had a very strange week since my big shock. I’ve coped with everything that’s been thrown at me over the last several years and though there are times I struggle to keep all my balls in the air, somehow I do still keep juggling and even coping when people throw me more balls. This week, though, I’ve actually put most of the balls down and left them, keeping just the essential couple.

I managed to get through my days at work on Tuesday and Wednesday by concentrating just on the tasks in hand and looked forward to a quiet Wednesday evening watching (recorded) TV with Billy. However, he hadn’t yet watched a missed episode of Stargate Universe on Skyplayer so I had to wait whilst he did that. Meanwhile, I went upstairs and Nel let me know she was not happy that we would be using the TV without having told her in advance. (You can’t watch TV here without Sky so only 3 TV’s in the house have it – the living room, and the mens’ bedrooms.) I got a little annoyed with her as she seemed to be saying we couldn’t use the TV and I ended by saying that as we pay for it, we have a right to watch it and that unfortunately I had just forgotten to mention this in advance, which I do usually do. Then I went downstairs to join Billy to watch TV as arranged, but he had been unable to view the missed episode and lost his temper (with the computer, not me) and shouted, but this was enough to rattle my frayed nerves. I went back upstairs and told Nel it looked like she could use the TV after all, if she asked the men to go and watch in their rooms, and she and I apologised for our earlier upset. (It’s rare for us to have words.) Billy later appeared and apologised too, and reiterated that his temper had been aimed at the computer,not me.

I ended up crying and snuggling in for lovely cuddles. Long overdue I think – in fact I can’t remember the last time I did this, but then Billy’s been so wrapped up in his own problems lately, he hasn’t been in the right frame of mind to give me the reassurance I needed at times.

Since then, I’ve been very withdrawn and antisocial. Even when I’ve bumped in to people, small talk has been an effort so I’ve been mostly trying to keep to my own company and do things which absorb me and keep me away from thinking – watching films or TV, and reading books. I feel exhausted and have an ache in my sternum, accompanied by lots of sighing breaths. I don’t feel part of the world – just observing from within a bubble which separates me from it.

On Thursday, Nel was laying in wait for me when I got back from the supermarket and she gave me a bunch of spray carnations which she’d bought me herself. She said they were to cheer me up as she knew I was feeling sad at the moment. Of course, I had a little cry, cuddled her and thanked her. How utterly unexpected and wonderful πŸ™‚ That evening, Billy came home with a bottle of wine and some chocolates for me too. Neither of these things solved anything, I know, but they DID definitely hit the spot and made me feel appreciated and loved – which is just what I need at the moment. Stephen is the most laid-back member of the household and although he does create a lot of mess (mainly in the kitchen) he also lightens the mood and makes me laugh with his silliness and just by being himself.
Other that this, I am trusting my body/brain to do what it needs to do to recover and though I could take some herbs to help speed up the process, I’m feeling a little rebellious and asking myself why I should. I mean, if I pick myself up, take up all the balls and start juggling again, people will go back to forgetting I’m merely mortal, and find some more balls for me.

Maybe I don’t WANT to be the sole juggler all the time. Maybe it’d be nice for someone to take up a ball or two from the pile, and actually help out. Work and home are the two areas where this is feasible – I recognise that in my own business it can only be down to me. Everyone has problems – personal, family,financial and work related – but that does include me, and yet I’m expected to keep going, keep smiling, keep doing the stuff that they don’t feel up to doing themselves. (Like washing up, clearing up, emptying bins, doing the garden, or decorating or DIY etc.) These are the things that no-one else ever thinks to just do when they need doing but are happy to leave for me.

Whilst it was the shock that was the last straw, it looks like my body is saying it’s had enough – and maybe this time I’m going to listen. I need plenty of peace and calm I think, to recover, so that’s what I’m going to try and give myself.

Garden Therapy

The kiss of the sun for pardon;
The song of the birds for mirth;
We’re nearer to God in a garden;
Than anywhere else on earth.

This little poem used to hang on my Nanny’s wall and I always liked it. This week it seemed particularly memorable as the eventual arrival of summer and a day gardening has perked me up considerably. πŸ™‚

I’ve been quite fed up for the last couple of weeks. Nothing major, just the daily grind and feeling a bit taken for granted at work and home, and I though I usually stay cheerful, it got more and more of an effort this time. The cold weather certainly didn’t help, and neither did the fact that everyone else has been feeling the same. It seems to me that when others are down, I do my best to pick them up and offer support, but when I’m down, I pick the times when everyone else is too, so that they are too deep in their own woes to help me much. (This is no reflection on their willingness to cheer me up if they noticed or didn’t have their own concerns – it’s just my bad luck that I take so long to be pulled down too, that they don’t have the energy.)

Someone once told me that in our daily lives we give and receive “energy” – I put it in inverted commas because I don’t really know that it’s energy as such – just SOMEthing. We give something of ourselves whenever we do something for others, listen to them, advise them, laugh with them, touch them, support them and so on. We receive from them whenever they do these things for us. I think this person was right and that we can all cope with periods where we do all the giving, or lap up periods of all the receiving, but that ultimately it all balances out in the end. Sometimes we’re just too drained ourselves to be able to give any more though we want to. I think I was at that point – my batteries needed a recharge. Last weekend had really pulled me down – I’d started off OK as normal, but both Billy and Raji were deep in worlds of their own and they answered anything I said with monosyllables. Both of them are very hard work when they are like that but having two of them moping round the house all day just drained me.

I picked up again slightly in the week before work stresses pulled me down again, but I was kept going by the main person who gives me moral support (and vice versa) – my mum. We send each other little texts – sometimes nonsense, sometimes advice, sometimes just a bit of sympathy, but they always make me smile.

So, there I was, feeling fed up, stuck in a rut, no light at the end of the tunnel……….. and then the sun came out. Last week I was still wearing jumpers and vests, this week summer arrived!

On Thursday, I had no patients in my clinic, and when I came back from doing the food shopping I wanted to be outside in the sun, so decided I’d make a bit of a start on sorting out the garden. I’ve been wanting/needing to do it for ages but am only fair-weather gardener so hadn’t had the chance. The forecast for the weekend was good and I planned to get the job done then, but a head start wouldn’t go amiss.

Well I cleared the dead greenery and the weeds away, sorted the compost (mixing old from last year’s pots, with new so that each pot had at least half and half) and then took the rubbish to the tip. Raji was off for the day so he volunteered to come with me and then we stopped off at Tesco on the way back.

Mum had given Billy and I £10 for Easter which I’d saved to buy some plants for summer. As we are short of money, this was my budget in its entirety, so Nel and I also plan to grow some veg in with the flowers as we have lots of packets of seeds – tomatoes, lettuce, red broccoli, carrots, basil etc. Tesco had giant sized tomato grow bags on offer at 2 for £8 and though I wanted one for some of our seeds, I was reluctant to get two and blow most of the money, so settled for one, which I guessed would probably be about £4.99 if two at £8 was a good deal. (It didn’t state what one cost.) I then got two trays of bedding plants (marigolds and impatiens) and felt that would do us.When we got to the checkout, the tomato grow bag came up a £3.68! Raji and I were both somewhat taken aback, but didn’t say a word – well, Raji almost did, but changed it at the last minute, to an offer to take the trolley for me πŸ˜€ Either we got a bargain by virtue of a bar code error or the “deal” is actually a con! I was happy anyway πŸ™‚

When we got back I was still in the mood to carry on, and had plenty of time since the men didn’t need dinner as they were playing a cricket cup game. I swept all the rubbish, dead leaves, bits of broken sofa, and various unidentifiables then started potting the plants. Raji made us a cup of tea which we enjoyed in the sun, and he moved some of the pots which I’d been dragging round deciding how to arrange them this year.

I put some sausages in the oven and cleared up, watered all the plants, cleaned off the tables and chairs, turned off the oven and went for a bath to get rid of all the muck – and the aches. When I came back down, the sausages were lukewarm and I enjoyed some of them in finger rolls with ketchup – with homemade coleslaw and a glass of wine too – and it was ALMOST as good as a BBQ :)|

The day was productive in that I got the garden ready to enjoy (if the summer stays )but more than this it was extremely therapeutic. I had enjoyed the hard physical work, the sunshine, the thinking of nothing but the task in hand, and the pure pleasure of a job well done. The day had recharged my batteries and I had achieved something. Something which I will hopefully continue to enjoy for the next few weeks or however long the good weather stays. I was content. πŸ™‚

Darn Sarf – London Trip

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

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

Beds all in a row

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

England Nails

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

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

Cards and booze


Our first stop was the GuardÒ€ℒs Museum.

Guards Museum Anji
Guards museum Mum

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

Hardest thing

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


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

The Tower

Tower Bridge

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

SGD menu

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selhurst Park - view from our seat

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

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

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

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

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

Finding her feet – and maybe a dog?

Whilst I seem to have done little else but work the last two weeks, Nel has been busy herself, sorting out her education, her health and working on her dreams.

She had a good meeting with the head of sixth form and it’s been agreed that she can concentrate on her R.E and Philosophy A Levels, dropping Art, and taking up an OU short course to make up the shortfall in her timetable. She’s really positive about all this and is now back in school and says she feels on top of things ready for her AS Level exams in May. Her friends seem pleased to have her back which is good.

She has also been to see various health professionals (including, incidentally, finally getting her BCG jab after years of us asking!) and is getting more support, including being tested for dyspraxia. If confirmed, she may be able to use a laptop instead of having to write so much, and have a little extra time in exams etc. Hopefully it will also mean she can get some help with other problems associated with it too. She feels pleased to think there may be some explanation for the difficulties she encounters, I think.

Ever since she was a little girl, Nel has wanted a dog. And has repeatedly said so over the years. And repeatedly been told that she’d have to wait until she leaves home since I don’t want a dog in the house. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs and used to work in kennels when younger. I just don’t want one always being underfoot, or feeling tied down by the dependency of a dog. Cats are so much more independent, coming and going as they please and just requiring love and food. Dogs need so much more and I don’t feel able to give that. However, Nel’s desire has never lessened, and the professionals have indicated they think it would be good for her too.

So Billy and I have discussed it, together, and with Nel. We have told her that we will consider it only if:

a) She is working and earning enough to pay for the dog’s keep;
b) She takes out pet insurance to help towards vet bills – dogs get up to all sorts;
c) She thoroughly researches the breed she wants and its particular strengths and weaknesses;
d) She doesn’t have a very young pup – maybe one of about a year or so old;
e) She is a firm (but loving of course) owner and teaches the dog discipline
f) She can come up with proper answers to any questions or concerns we may have.

We didn’t need to point out that the dog would be her responsibility and she’d have to walk it every day etc as she already knows, accepts, and welcomes this – she is a very responsible pet owner and always has been. So, she has decided on a German Shepherd (and we’re happy with that as we like the breed too) and has worked out that she needs to save £1,000 before she can undertake the commitment – so that she has enough to pay for its keep in advance and to cover any unexpected eventualities like a large vet bill or being out of work. She has looked up the cost of insurance, worked out where the dog would sleep (the seat area of her bunk-futon!) and is now applying for any part time jobs that we see. She’d like, ideally, to be in a position to get a dog in the summer holidays so that she can give it most of her time before going back to school in autumn.

Even having a goal towards which to work hard is doing her good I feel. Although we have mixed feelings about having a dog, we do feel it would be really good for her so hope it comes off.

City 2 – 0 Bolton

This was a Tuesday evening match, so I didn’t go – Fordy had my ticket and I watched on TV.

I had come down with a cold on Monday and all day Tuesday my eyes and nose were streaming, red raw, and very sore. I really didn’t feel at all well and wasn’t sure I could manage to stay up and watch the game. But Billy cooked the dinner whilst I got myself into my PJ’s, he brought me a hot water bottle, did the usual evening chores that I normally do, and we sat together to watch the match (Billy also following the text updates of Newcastle’s game against Derby.) And so, thanks to Billy, and being utterly City mad, I did watch. (As did a friend of mine in Ireland, who was also ill, but watching from his sick bed. As he said in a text “Daft, the pair of us!” πŸ˜‰

As the usual evening pre-match darkening of the stadium and the Blue Moon on the screens was shown, I was “homesick” – though was a bit disconcerted that Andy-Bloody-Gray said he rather likes this atmosphere building exercise. Hmmm. I normally disagree with absolutely every word that comes from him – on principle πŸ˜›

The game itself was not pretty – but it got the job done, 3 points in the hat and 4th spot in the table.

Only a couple of talking points – our penalty was definitely a penalty! I thought at first that it was just outside the area which was the only thing that gave me any doubts – but as it was just INside, and the intention was cynical, it was a clear penalty. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the way it was converted – Jaaskelainen played mind games, Tevez shot hard and straight at him, but somehow the ball bounced off the keeper and went in anyway πŸ˜€

I think Bolton probably should have had a penalty themselves when Toure fouled their number 9 at the their end, but the ref decided against.

I lost count of the number of times SWP was hacked down when he came on and feel that Bolton were very lucky not have had a red card, never mind more yellows! They certainly were playing a “feisty” game!

Ade’s goal was an absolute thunderbolt and nothing was stopping that ball going in the net – I half expected to see the ball come THROUGH the back of the goal! A brilliant goal which made up a little for Ade’s off-sides and moments of laziness.

Our new signing, Adam Johnson, looked excellent – if he carries on playing with this enthusiasm, pace and skill, he’ll be an absolute bargain at £6 million. πŸ™‚

By half time I really was struggling to stay with it, but I am glad I did. City’s win cheered me up a bit and I could collapse thankfully into bed with at least half a smile on my face. Sadly for Billy and mum, both their teams lost that night though πŸ™

Kippax Blue’s photos here.

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