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.

My Top 11 of 2011

Well it’s been a horrible year in the main. Every time I think we’ve hit the bottom and can start clawing our way to better – or even simply more stable – times, new depths are revealed. However, in true Pollyanna style, I thought I’d see if I could find some good things from 2011 and here they are:

#11. Nel’s diagnosis This was huge! It gave us a reason for all her little idiosynchracies and an insight into how her mind works differently to other people’s. I wasn’t a bad mother for not being able to work her out, in fact I’d done well over the years to help her cope without either of us knowing just what the difficulties were. Full story here.

#10. Friends’ Wedding An unexpected invitation to be a part of a very special couple’s big day led to a feeling of extra closeness to two lovely people whom I had met through a football web forum – mum’s club, not even mine – and a wonderful trip to London. Football and the internet have brought me some deep and long-lasting friendships and this event brought home to me just how lucky I am to have friends like these. Full story here.

# 9. A very Sick Swan In a horrible year for me personally, City have had a blinding year and have helped give me something to smile about. There have been a lot of highs for my club, but this was one of the best simply for the pure brilliant surreal-ness of beating THEM on THEIR turf, by such a huge margin πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 8. Being led astray We have a wonderful circle of friends and this night just summed up all that makes them so great. Even though a few were missing on this occasion, there have obviously been other times with different combinations of friends and all of them are special. Full story here.

# 7. An afternoon exploring with Billy For a married couple we really don’t get much quality time together so I really enjoyed this little interlude. Full story here.

# 6. My son becoming a man – I absolutely love spending time with Stephen, even doing mundane things such as on this occasion here and I was both relieved and proud when he got himself a job too (here .)

# 5. Nel’s 18th Family trips are a rarity these days so I really enjoyed this weekend for Nel’s birthday – everything just fell into place nicely and it was well worth Billy and I pooling our Christmas present cash to fund it. Full story here.

# 4. A new laptop You’ll probably remember this as it was so recent, but never having had a brand new computer before this was a big thing for me πŸ™‚ Full story here.

# 3. A Family Christening This was a high for a few reasons – having time with Billy, having a bit of a holiday, and seeing members of the family whom we love to see. Full story here.

# 2. St George’s Day in Eastbourne A fantastic mini summer holiday in a heat wave, family tradition and time with my wonderful mum plus seeing my brother. Full story here and here.

# 1. FA Cup final An absolutely brilliant day – the stuff of dreams, of the whole range of emotions, of pride, tears, joy, friends, loved ones and a sheer sense of being a part of it all. One of the best days in my life for all those reasons and more and it’ll take some beating. Full story here.

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!


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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)

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.

Time, money and children.

Well finally, after 6 months of overtime, I have finished helping the medical secretaries now that their colleague has returned from maternity leave. It feels such a novelty to only be working 2 days a week again – and I have such a huge list of things with which to catch up at home. Already I have done some of the extra cleaning that so desperately needs doing, which feels good, but I have also enjoyed more baking too. I really am a happy little domestic bird and the traditional gender roles suit me generally. Sadly, though, the extra money has helped us a lot the last few months and I could have done with it continuing a while. Still, I believe in fate so am sure there will be an opportunity somewhere along the line and I now have yet more strings to my bow.

This return of my days off coincided with the children having a holiday so I spent that first week helping them get ready, and the week they were away I tidied and aired their rooms, changed their bedding and suchlike so that it was all fresh for their return. It was so strange without them – this is the first time I haven’t had either of them around for 7 years! I loved having a clean tidy kitchen with empty washing-up baskets and the sides and equipment clean ready for me to bake whenever the mood took me. I also enjoyed the quiet at night – I slept rather well without hearing their nocturnal movements on ad off until 3am. I found that we didn’t get through nearly as much bread, butter, wine or loo rolls – and in fact needed to buy a fraction of the usual quantities of these. The living room floor stayed virtually crumb-free and the little TV dinner table didn’t get used once – so it didn’t need constantly folding up and putting away. I could also leave their bedroom doors open so that air and light could circulate upstairs. Billy and I managed to relax in front of the TV on a couple of occasions, and I watched football when I pleased without booking the TV.

I did miss their company though – and constantly thought of them, hoping they were having a good time. They had gone to Spain with their dad for the occasion of their grandparents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. Billy and I took them to Newcastle airport on the Wednesday night and saw them off on their way to Gatwick where they met their dad before flying on to Spain. We then went and picked them up from Newcastle airport a week later and I absolutely loved the look on Stephen’s face as his eyes met mine – his face lit up, though he was his usual laid back self a mili-second later. I’d seen that look though and my heart reciprocated – it’s one of those moments I’ve captured and stored forever. Nel has a far less expressive face but she is more vocal and she seemed equally pleased to see me and chattered away as we walked to the car. My babies were home and I was complete again – Mother Nature is so clever the way she ties those strings from our children to our hearts. πŸ™‚

Nel shared a couple of photos with me and said I could share with you:

My “extra time” this week will no doubt be spent catching up with the kids, sorting their post-holiday laundry and luggage etc, but eventually I may get a bit more time for me….

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™‚

Lovely football (Spurs 1 – 5 City) & a party.

On Sunday, I was, yet again, an armchair fan for City’s away game to Spurs. With it being a lunchtime kick off, I did a few chores in the morning and then put my feet up to watch the match. I couldn’t decide how I thought this would go – I’d have taken a draw, maybe, but if City played like they had in the previous 2 games maybe they could nick a narrow win.

Raji watched with me, and we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. City picked up where they’d left off last time and the passing and movement was dazzling at times. Silva, Nasri, Aguero and Dzeko looked terrifyingly co-ordinated and though Friedel made some saves, he just couldn’t stop the inevitable goals. Never, ever, would I have imagined putting 5 past Spurs! (Or Friedel!) Their consolation goal was merely that, coming when we were already 0-4 up. Another game with us having plenty of shots at goal – 22, with 12 on target!

I was laughing at Raji who was bemoaning having picked Gomes for his fantasy league team – never likely to get a game with Friedel on the scene. However, he HAD got Dzeko – and moreover, Dzeko was his captain, so loads of points there after Edin’s hat trick then. Hilariously, Stephen came home from work towards the end and told us who he had in goal for his fantasy league team – Friedel! πŸ˜€

I was hard pushed to come up with a MotM for this one, but feel Dzeko merited it for his hat trick, and his continuing form this season. (By the way, the fans vote for their MCFC player of the month on the official site, and I voted for Silva for August – he is unstoppable at the moment.) I have to laugh at fellow fans all denying they’d ever said Dzeko was a waste of money and claiming they said he’d come good! I can prove that I did! πŸ˜‰

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here.
MCFC’s full highlights here.
MCFC’s Dzeko reaction here.

After the match Stephen persuaded me to continue lazing around and watch the ManUre v Arsenal match, and since the next day was the Bank Holiday and I could catch up then, I did. How utterly decadent to sit watching football most of the day (I’d also tried to keep abreast of the Newcastle v Fulham game earlier too) πŸ™‚ And what football it was too! First a fantastic performance by City and then a 10 goal game! (Arsenal’s wheels haven’t so much fallen off as gone firing off in all directions!) Typical of ManUre to get so many goals and overtake us with a goal difference of 1, but it does make for an interesting season and I do love good football πŸ™‚

Sadly, I had to stop watching at 5-1 as I had to get ready to go out to a wedding reception and I’d already left it far too late to try and turn the sow’s ear in to a silk purse! Thank God for the little black dress in the wardrobe, quick-dry nail polish, a low maintenance hair style and instant-glamour high heeled strappy sandals. πŸ˜‰ It was a beautiful reception at Dissington Hall though being in the middle of nowhere such a rural location, we had to take a taxi there and back. Fortunately this was funded by Billy’s football accumulator winnings πŸ™‚ The groom is a City fan and had not only missed City’s match, but had had no idea how we did. Webby, one of Billy’s cricket team mates is the singer in a band and they provided the entertainment and were excellent – also reminding me what a fantastic voice Webby has, as well as being a thoroughly nice bloke. At the end of the night it was a tad cold, being gone midnight, and it had been raining during the evening so Billy went out to see if our taxi had arrived, letting me wait inside. When he came to get me, he led me across a route which meant stepping off a low wall to get to the footpath. Having such high heels and a dress, I protested – so he romantically swept me up into his arms….. and plonked me down on the boggy grass! Nice try, but I think he’s used to having a practical, rather than a glamorous, wife πŸ˜‰

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