Not doing; just being.

We spent a lovely, leisurely Boxing Day at home (mainly eating what we wanted, when we wanted it πŸ˜‰ ) I watched the Sunderland 1 v 0 City match on a very hit-and-miss webstream whilst Billy watched ManUre 4 v 3 Newcastle and we were both wanting each other’s team to win; we were both disappointed! Ho hum! (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here and extended ones here)

On the 27th, Nel and I drove down to mum’s to spend the night and just have some girls’ time out. Nel went shopping with her friend who lives nearby and mum and I did……………. absolutely nothing! πŸ™‚ We just sat and chatted and it was lovely. Nel returned in time for dinner (braised steak, mmmm.) She had asked if she could sleep in the living room on the camp bed and as soon as we’d made it up ready, Rocky decided it looked very cosy (which it did, as mum always makes it so) and promptly claimed it! πŸ˜€ Nel going to bed later didn’t bother him a bit – since he had his spot, right in the middle and wasn’t budging! At some point in the night though, he did decide to let Nel get some sleep and he went upstairs to sleep with mummy. The next morning we went for a mooch in the shops and though we enjoyed ourselves, we didn’t actually buy much (and even then what we bought was from the 99p shop!) so we clearly hadn’t missed much the day before. We had a lovely late lunch of mum’s home-made chips with Bockwurst before we set off for home again. What a wonderfully relaxing visit – not doing, just being πŸ™‚

I couldn’t get a web stream for the Norwich 3 v 4 City match and had to content myself with the radio commentary instead. It sounded a fantastic match and of course, the result was very pleasing too. The effort was certainly better than the apparent lack of interest on Boxing Day and fans of both clubs got their moneys-worth. (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here.)

Other than this, I just enjoyed being at home for a few days – no work, no plans, just pottering around doing little things like catching up with some blogging, cleaning up my laptop (backing up files, doing a defrag etc.) and playing with my new phone, installing apps etc. πŸ™‚ I was not missing work at all!

Precious family time at Christmas

Having finished work on the 21st December, I had two glorious weeks off ahead and got it off to a good start with a couple of nights out. On the Friday night, the darts team got together for a few drinks and light-hearted darts games at the club – this is becoming a very nice tradition now πŸ™‚ On Saturday it was Billy’s work Christmas dinner and this was held at The Heart and was a wonderful night with fantastic food and company. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it put me nicely in the Christmas mood. I then had a couple of days staying indoors to potter around at my own pace preparing for Christmas so it was all very relaxed and un-rushed πŸ™‚ Since I’ve scaled down present buying considerably over the last few years, there weren’t too many to wrap and I’d just about got cards written and posted a few days previously, so I could concentrate on the house and food.

Mum had given us a food goody-bag in which there were really well thought out supplies such as chocolates and biscuits, savouries and beverages and even a treat for the cats and hamsters! (Thank you mummy πŸ™‚ ) We also had another thoughtful gift of an M&S gift card from another relative and this was spent on fresh foods such as dips, pate and cheeses. Finally, my Tesco Clubcard vouchers covered the turkey, a beautiful piece of silverside beef and the other Christmas essentials. All that was left was for me to bake so on the Sunday I made my shortcrust and puff pastries and on Christmas Eve I cooked the meats and did the baking.

Coleslaw and Sausage Rolls

Mince pies and Christmas cake

and set the table

Christmas table

When I went to bed that night, I was just drifting off when I suddenly remembered the kids’ stockings! ARGH! Stephen had gone to work and wouldn’t be home until midnight or after so I could put his on his bed and he’d find it when he came home. But Nel was still up and not likely to go to sleep until the wee small hours; what to do?! As I leapt out of bed Nel called out “Have you just remembered what I have?” and so I went in to her to discuss my dilemma. At no point did she deny that if I left her her stocking now, she’d immediately examine its contents πŸ˜‰ I suggested I placed it somewhere “just so” and she was to get a clock and take a photo to prove it hadn’t moved until after midnight, and she came up with the idea of hanging it on the hook under her clock, which also happens to be on the wall that backs on to my bedroom – so I’d hear her if she tried removing the clock to alter the time! For the final touch, I stapled the top of the stocking so she couldn’t try peeking without touching and we took a photo to show its exact position:

Nel’s Stocking!

She took another at midnight – though in fact Billy (who had spent all afternoon and evening in the pub) returned around midnight and vouched for the security of the stocking at that point πŸ˜€ I don’t know! You’d think when your children are adults, they can manage to wait for their stockings wouldn’t you? πŸ˜‰

The next morning I enjoyed some peace and space whilst everyone else slept and I prepared the veg etc before they emerged at 11 am. Nel sorted the presents and took her own upstairs to open alone (after her diagnosis of autism we started this last year and she was able to fully enjoy presents for the first time) and then everyone gathered in the living room to open our presents together – with Nel opening the cats and any family ones.

The cats enjoyed the wrapping paper pile in the middle of the floor πŸ™‚

As usual, we had some lovely and perfectly chosen presents, including these beautiful Christmas ornaments which a few of the secretaries at work had given me (so unexpectedly that I’d burst into tears when they presented me with them along with a couple of bottles of wine!)


After clearing up and making a couple of family phone calls, I continued to prepare dinner in a leisurely fashion, and it all came together nicely for a relaxed and enjoyable meal – with the usual naff crackers, lots of laughs and everyone enjoying the food (and drink!) After clearing up, Raji and I did the washing up and watched the Queen’s speech (unfortunately the main thing I noticed was that those poor Military Wives had been asked to sing in public a song they clearly didn’t know as they had to make up the tune to “In the bleak midwinter” as they went along! (Why, oh why do people feel the need to take a traditional song and mangle it dreadfully to a new tune? πŸ™ )

We then settled to an afternoon of playing The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game which we had been bought a couple of years ago and somehow overlooked. It was brilliant!

Nasty Horse Racing

By the time Billy won this (having kept a great poker face when Stephen was openly convinced he’d won πŸ˜€ ) we were flagging and settled in front of the TV for a short while before bed.

It had been a very relaxed and smooth running day and I really enjoyed spending the time with my family. We should definitely play games together more often and though they may all have started out just humouring me, I think everyone genuinely enjoyed it as much as I did πŸ™‚

This time last year – I laughed at Nel and her stocking!

A win and a 180 (Darts!)

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we played away at the Ex Service B, having not played there for some time as they’ve had no team based there. I’d forgotten what a nice throw it is there and we had a pleasant evening. Billy had been collared in to going to the cinema with Nel to see The Hobbit, so I walked up with Paul (via the off-licence where we sampled some sloe vodka which was gorgeous!)

Our random order was: Senior; Paul; Mark; Graham; Junior; Me and we won both trebles, Senior & Paul’s doubles, and then Senior, Paul and Graham’s singles to give us a 5-6 win πŸ™‚

Talking point of the evening though, was Paul hitting 180! Very well done to our captain πŸ™‚

My own darts took a while to get going but were good by my singles game. Sadly for me, I was playing a very strong player though I could have just pipped him had I hit my double first time of asking. Nel and Billy turned up at this point, their film having finished, so it was great timing to join us for a drink before we all walked home together.

Birthday girl

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t expect much as we don’t have any money.

Nel had already said she was going to draw me a picture as my present, but I certainly wasn’t expecting her to actually CREATE a character especially after me for her comic. She is called Angelena and she is the Goddess of Nature πŸ™‚

I just need to buy an A4 frame for her so she can go on my wall – might see if Nel will autograph it first πŸ™‚

Billy had also told me he couldn’t manage much, but then he and Raji astounded me by clubbing together to buy me something I wanted but didn’t expect to own for a few years – a Kindle! I was so surprised and pleased πŸ™‚ (So far I am resisting temptation, other than to download some books) and am finishing the actual book I am reading at the moment, but can’t wait to use my Kindle.) My colleague, K, gave me an Amazon voucher so I bought a couple of downloads with that too πŸ™‚

I wasn’t expecting anything from Stephen as he’s always skint and I’m just pleased if I get a “Happy Birthday” from him, but he did give me a present – a bottle of vodka πŸ™‚

Mum had already given me my new City shirt but she also gave me a bag of “silly little things” – I didn’t think they were silly (or little) but they were all very well chosen and I loved them – everything from fluffy socks to a pack of Costa coffee πŸ™‚

Two of my colleagues gave me a bottle of wine and the girls in the secretarial department gave me a card which they’d all signed which was another unexpected surprise. I received lots of lovely cards and was feeling loved. I had lots of birthday messages on Facebook too – my virtual cards πŸ™‚

I was working all day, as were Billy and Raji, but Stephen had managed to swap his evening shift so that we were all at home for tea – and we treated ourselves (by clubbing together) to takeaway courtesy of the chip shop. I don’t often get to have a family meal with everyone together so it was really nice, even though we did then all go our separate ways afterwards.

So I had a lovely birthday with more treats than I expected πŸ™‚

Filling the week between…

It’s a good job the Monday following the match was a Bank Holiday as it gave me a chance to try and come back to earth. Actually I didn’t quite manage that until Wednesday and then I started getting dizzy at the thought of this coming Sunday so it’s been a week of living my life in body but my soul elsewhere. I’ve had distractions but nothing’s taken my attention away from my beloved Blues for long…

On Monday Nel treated me to seeing the Avengers Assemble film – I drove us to the Metrocentre and she paid for our tickets πŸ™‚ The film was excellent and brought the characters from the previous films together beautifully. This was also my first trip tot he all new cinema in the Metrocentre and I was impressed – especially by the extra room for wheelchairs and other disabled users. We did however take our own picnic lunch as their prices are extortionate. After the film I managed to visit the O2 shop and sort out my new contract tariff which was something I’d been wanting to do. It was really nice to spend the day with my lovely daughter – thanks Nel. πŸ™‚

On Tuesday I was back at work in my own job – but everyone was talking football to me so it wasn’t too much of a successful distraction πŸ˜‰

Wednesday was busy with shopping, gym, meeting and preparations for a short break next week – and I did start to calm down a bit.

Thursday and Friday I worked for another department helping out and was kept busy but even so my mind kept wandering into football mode now and then and by Friday afternoon I was already really excited.

Saturday (today) has been very busy but I’ve found it very hard to concentrate on the laundry, packing and a million other things I’ve needed to do because all I can think of is tomorrow and the match! It may be a good job I will need to be up very early as I may be too excited to sleep anyway πŸ˜‰ Billy is going to his game away at Everton so we are driving down to Manchester early in order for him to meet up with his friends and catch the train from Piccadilly to Liverpool.

Come on City……… one more push…..

After St George

On Tuesday, Nel mum and I went to Newcastle – via Ten bus at Nel’s insistence so we had a thorough tour of every town and village on the (very winding) way πŸ˜‰ We decided we needed lunch first since the 1.5 hour ride meant we arrived at noon, so we took advantage of a special offer and a voucher we had to enjoy a Pizza Hut special. Mmmm. πŸ™‚ Mum and I then followed Nel round since a) she knew where she was going and b) she had specific shops she wanted to visit. She came back with a few bargains, mum bought one thing she’d been after, and I came home empty handed (though there was nothing I’d been after, to be fair.) During our equally long return bus ride home, Stephen phoned to ask where everyone was as he’d planned to spend some time with Granny (Men!) but by the time we were home, he was busy with friends again. We didn’t do anything much in the evening bar watching some TV and mum packing. Oh and a bit more mutual love and attention between mum and the cats – who loved having someone else around to adore them.

Mum returned home on Wednesday, though I’d soon be seeing her again when I went down at the weekend ahead of my football match and I got on with my usual Wednesday jobs at home. This time it involved putting things back to normal of course, but I could do that at my leisure. I have got so out of the habit of having guests now, though in the past I’ve always had regular visitors and have always had a home and spare room ready at all times. This time it took a lot of clearing, sorting, and cleaning to prepare (mainly because with all the hours I am working, I am not here to keep on top of things) and I had to scrabble around somewhat for decent spare bedding having used it all ourselves over the years. Nel helped, and Billy earned lots of Brownie points both in the preparation for and during mum’s visit as he really was a huge help physically and with moral support – sssshhhhh, don’t tell him though else he’ll just blow them all in one go πŸ˜‰

Hopefully now mum’s retired she might visit again occasionally as we all enjoyed having her here πŸ™‚

St George’s Day 2012

This year for our St George’s Day celebrations, mum came to stay with us and have them here so that Billy, Raji and the kids could join in to suit – we’ve been saying for a couple of years that we need a bit of help with the boozing side of things since we’re pretty light-weight πŸ˜‰

First order of the day, after exchanging cards, little gifts and greetings, was to collect our rose button-holes from Dillies – and they did a fantastic job for us, even supplying pins with red beads at the heads making them absolutely perfect πŸ™‚ We then wandered up in to town and had a coffee whilst admiring the roses (and my nails!)

Billy was working just the morning, Raji had plans for the day, and the kids were sleeping, so we pleased ourselves for the morning before returning home for lunch, popping back in to Dillies on the way, where we sampled an exquisite wine called Apricot Velvet Mmmmm (think we’ll be buying some of that in the near future!) We’d planned to visit the Old Gaol in the afternoon, only it doesn’t open on Mondays πŸ™ So we decided that The House of Correction looked interesting – only you have to arrange a visit in advance πŸ™ This wasn’t looking great and the weather was pretty grim too (what a contrast to last year!) so we were running out of ideas. I had wondered whether mum might fancy The Roman Army Museum on Hadrian’s Wall, and when Billy came home he gave us the push we needed and that was where we (Billy, Mum, Nel and I) went. It was very much the kind of thing dad would have loved and he always had a special interest in the Romans so it was an appropriate activity for the day. It had changed a bit from last time I was there and the new 3D film was excellent – it really brought history to life and gave a wonderful bird’s eye view of along the length of the wall. After a cuppa in the tea shop, we drove back along the Military Road so as to continue the sense of history and to admire the views – an excellent idea of Billy’s.

After freshening up, Billy took mum, Nel and I up to town where we met Paul and the men showed us girls how to place a bet – something Nel and I had never done before, and Mum had not done herself before. We had thought to bet on a horse in the day’s races at Hexham, but were too late for that, but there was racing at Windsor which was apt as dad had been stationed there. Mum and Nel bet on a horse each but I decided I preferred to stick with something I know and bet on football instead – Leicester v West Ham. For the grand total of £1 I bet on it being a draw at half time with a 1-0 win for the Hammers at full time. My half time bet won me £2.25 so I won on my first attempt πŸ™‚ (Mum and Nel’s horses didn’t come in sadly, and mum’s football bet on Leicester v West Ham finishing 1-1 didn’t either.) The five of us then went to The Coach for the first drink of the day and toasted St George, King Harry et al, plus absent friends and any other relevant toast-worthy things/people we could think of. It was really nice of Paul to join us and much appreciated. Raji came in just before we left to meet up with Stephen and have a meal at Wetherspoons.

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After a very enjoyable meal, Stephen disappeared to meet a friend and the rest of us went to the Globe for a couple of drinks, and then on to the cricket club for a couple more. Nel got pleasantly tipsy and very loquacious and all in all it was a perfect end to a day that dad would have enjoyed very much. πŸ™‚

Happy St. George’s Day πŸ™‚

Four day break for Easter.

Usually, with only working 2 days a week, I don’t really feel the benefit of the four day Easter weekend, but his year I did, and I have to say it was lovely πŸ™‚

On Friday I got the mundane weekend chores (like 4 hours of ironing) out of the way and Saturday I was out in the garden filling pots and baskets and sowing seeds. I wanted to get this done so that Mother Nature has a chance to do her thing and hopefully I might have some lovely colourful displays for “summer” for nothing thanks to mum giving me lots of packets of seeds πŸ™‚ I also assembled the solar-light planter she gave me – trying to get the moss to stay in the baskets was nigh on impossible fun and the result looks either very arty or very amateur πŸ˜‰

On Sunday we opened our Easter eggs and cards, I spoke to Mum and Rick on the phone to wish them a nice day and then we went to Pat’s for dinner and board games – as usual at this time of year, though I was away last time. Dinner was absolutely gorgeous (as ever) – I had the beef in red wine casserole, though the other option – chicken, bacon and mushroom casserole – also looked good (and Billy, who had both, said it was.) The beef was divine and what with all the veg, then the Eton mess (the raspberries drizzled with a raspberry liqueur) and far too much of the irresistible cheese and crackers, I was STUFFED! The usual boy v girl games followed, and the boys comfortably cleaned up – their 2nd round of Trivial Pursuit was mightily impressive it has to be said. They are both very good at storing knowledge, (Billy and Paul – Raji had gone to work by this time) and are very much on the same wavelength which helps. The girls were without Barbara who has emigrated to Oz, but gained Natalie – there was no cheating this year so looks like Barbara is the culprit πŸ˜‰ I did get the giggles when the girls were after a Scottish snooker player, clearly had absolutely no idea, and Pat asked if he had a Scottish accent! How this narrowed things down at all, I have yet to fathom πŸ˜€ Billy was hilarious in the game of Articulate and simply couldn’t get from “congregation” to “congregate” nor think of the word “fiddle” despite some interesting clues πŸ˜€ We left around midnight, having had a thoroughly wonderful day, but before I could fall in to bed, I had to tell Nel where her last little Easter chick was hidden as she couldn’t find it. Stephen had gone to work and therefore not looked for his mini-eggs.

I didn’t watch or hear City’s match against Arsenal, though I did follow the text updates. I’d expected us to lose so wasn’t as down as I may otherwise have been, but it was a bit disappointing to lose to an 86th minute goal. (Match report here, MCFC’s 60-second highlights here)

I was still very tired on Monday but enjoyed doing some baking – it was nice to have the extra day to recover and prepare for normality again.

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

Rounding off my holiday

After my match I went to mum’s and stayed with her for a couple of days, in which time we: shopped; attended an appointment (routine); hunted for fabric in fabric shops then charity shops before mum suddenly recalled some old curtains she had that might suit my purpose; dug out said curtains πŸ™‚ ; dug out some other stuff that would be gratefully received at home; spent ages in B&Q finding the paint I wanted (mould-proof, steam-proof paint for bathroom ceiling); dug around in the compost making bin (fascinating stuff, I’m getting quite into mum’s recycling-for-compost); ate; drank; laughed and admired Rocky. In short, a lovely couple of days πŸ™‚

Back home, I knuckled down to my list of jobs again and am happy to report that I did the lot! I painted the bathroom ceiling (I HATE painting ceilings and still ache now!), I put up shelves in Billy’s and Stephen’s rooms, I cleaned the oven (I can now see through the glass doors to see how the food is cooking πŸ™‚ ), I began my very basic ‘cos I am no seamstress sewing project by cutting out the fabric from mum, and pinning together so now I can sew a bit each evening when sitting down with Nel, I sorted my bag, tidied the bedroom, and caught up properly with a multitude of other little things that accumulate when I’m working. I also kept up my gym sessions which I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve been able to fuss my 3 beautiful cats throughout the day as I pass through the living room. An added bonus has been being around to spend a few minutes several times a day, chatting to Billy and the kids just as the mood and opportunity arise.

On Thursday I watched the Sporting v City match on TV, but it was a poor performance by City and I was rather relieved to only finish 1-0 down. (MCFC’s highlights here.) Happily we do have a chance to turn it around at home next week, though we’ll have to play better than that!

On Friday I went with Nel to walk one of her doggy clients – and got muddy and an extra workout with the hilly quarry but enjoyed the walk, the fresh air, the lovely dog and her feline friends and spending the time with Nel. In the evening it was darts – my first game for 3 weeks and I was looking forward to rounding off my break with a relaxing evening with my friends. We were away at The Fox – a nice pub, good board and friendly team πŸ™‚ Paul arrived very late – after the time the game is supposed to start – so we, his team, dropped him, our captain! πŸ˜€ (The team had to be drawn so we could get the playing orders for both teams started) I ended up being first, then: Junior; Senior; Claire; Graham and Simon. It was fairly level through most games though we won: our first trebles; only Senior’s and Claire’s doubles ( myself and Junior were dreadful and easily beaten); my singles and Junior’s, Senior’s and Simon’s. This meant we won 5-6 and makes our 6th win of the season! πŸ™‚ Senior was particularly on fire all evening and he won his singles game using just 18 darts in all! Simon did very well to win his and I nicked mine as I was 200 or so behind but my opponent couldn’t finish – even though I misfired a few times giving him even more chance to do so! Apart from one person being very inebriated and ruffling a few feathers slightly, it was a good evening and I enjoyed it, and being with the gang again πŸ™‚

Finally, over the weekend I’ve been baking and preparing for my return to work – do I have to go back? Can someone write me a note? πŸ˜‰ Actually, I love my work so I don’t mind going back in terms of enjoyment of the job, but I have just so thoroughly enjoyed being able to do things at home and being more physically active than I am at work. I’ve had a wonderful time being off and feel that my batteries are recharged, which they had so desperately needed. I highly recommend two consecutive weeks off work (something I haven’t done for years) and shall certainly try and repeat the exercise in future.

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