Guest blog part 5: The final episode, by Sue (Anji’s mum)

Oh oh! Almost forgot that I hadn’t rounded off the week I’ve been guest blogging about so I’d better do that and then hand the reins back to Anji and let her get back on an even keel with blogging herself. (I’m sure she has lots to write about by now.)

I left things on a high note after we’d been to the Palace v City game and we still felt buoyed up the next morning but then it was time to come back down to earth and get ready to leave London for our return to the real world. We hadn’t been looking forward to travelling early as it meant negotiating the tail end of the rush hour and carrying/dragging our luggage through all the commuters on their way to work from the suburbs but, after quickly packing our bags and enjoying our last hotel breakfast, we were on our way. The walk to the station was uneventful and we were grateful for the (newly installed?) lifts down to the platform as the line is at a very low level and all the steps would have been quite a challenge. However, getting seats on the train was another matter and though the journey was less comfortable than we’d have liked, we arrived in central London and made our way to the coach station in good time for our 1030 departure only to find that it had been delayed so we had to hang around for quite a while.

Eventually, it was time to board our coach and the lady driver then explained that the delay had been due to her late arrival on her previous journey and the need for her statutory break before she was legally allowed to take charge of another vehicle. What a difference it makes when someone takes the trouble to communicate as we fully understood about keeping everyone safe! Our driver managed to make up the lost time so, after a shorter than anticipated break in Birmingham and a change of drivers, we were back in Chester at more or less the originally expected time (late afternoon). The coach itself wasn’t as comfortable as the one on the outward journey but it did the job and we certainly can’t complain about the fare charged so ‘Thank You’ National Express for getting us safely to London and back.

A short taxi ride soon had us home and we could then relax and enjoy our final evening together. We definitely didn’t fancy cooking so we decided on a Chinese takeaway for our meal and were then disappointed to find that our favourite Chinese restaurant had either closed down or was closed on a Monday. Undaunted, we resorted to a hastily-concocted Plan B and walked to the local Chinese Chippy to collect whatever was on offer there. It wasn’t quite the same but it sufficed and I’m sure the bottle of red we opened to go with it helped us to enjoy our meal while we relived our last few days and even managed a couple more recorded quiz programmes before giving in and going to bed. Anji was due to leave Chester on a lunchtime train next day so, thankfully, she was able to ignore her re-packing until the following morning.

Then it really was our very last day and, before I knew it, I was seeing Anji off at the station to make her way home in readiness for catching up with the family’s news and getting things straight in time to return to work the next day. I hope she’s well and truly recovered from all that travelling and the strange feeling of perpetual movement that was probably inevitable after so much climbing on and off all those buses, trains, coaches, etc..

So, it only leaves me to reiterate what a wonderful mother/daughter time it had all been, how much I’d enjoyed our shared experiences and how worthwhile had been all the planning, execution and expense associated with the project. Anji, I can’t thank you enough for making all the effort it involved and I’d like to put on record that I love you and love your company very much indeed. Here’s to next time! I’ll let you have your blog back now!

St George’s Day 2014 – Guest blog by Sue (Anji’s Mum)

When Anji bemoaned the fact that she wouldn’t have time to write a blog about about our recent week together and suggested I write it for her as a ‘Guest Blog’ I thought she was joking but, on reflection, I think maybe she was half-serious so here goes:

Anji is without wheels at the moment (her old banger having finally given up the ghost) so in order to get from A to B to C, etc., it was necessary for her (separately) and us (jointly) to use trusty old Public Transport throughout the week. Having originally planned to drive to me in Chester after work on 22nd, it became necessary for Anji to do that journey by rail during the day so working arrangements were duly changed with her colleague. (Thank you K.) As far as I can gather, that journey was without event, included a convenient pit-stop en route, and I met her at the station on arrival. We then enjoyed a good catch-up over a delicious Dominos pizza, accompanied by a bottle of robust red wine when we got back here.

Cards


We awoke next morning with an air of excitement as we had our annual celebration of St George’s Day to look forward to. After breakfast, we both did our best to do justice to the day by wearing dresses (a very rare occurrence for me!) and generally making ourselves presentable, as Anji’s dad as an ex Coldstream Guard was wont to do (not the dress, obviously!) every year on this day in honour of his ‘Battalion Day’. We visited the crematorium on the way to town to pick up our red-rose buttonholes which had been pre-ordered and, sporting those, we went on our (soon to be) merry way to see what, if anything was going on for good old St George. Apparently, the florist had had several orders for rose buttonholes and a group was re-enacting the George and the Dragon story outside the Town Hall but we saw no evidence of others celebrating our national day.

Rose buttonhole

Rose and badge


Undeterred, we wandered off to a quintessentially English tea/coffee room where we enjoyed coffees and scones then proceeded to meander around some of the shops, picked up a few small items of interest and walked by the river and through Grosvenor Park. The park is undergoing some upgrading work at the moment so it was a bit of a mess but heyho! – we enjoyed it anyway.

Coffee time

Oh dear, we still hadn’t had a proper drink so we put that right with a visit to reliable old JDW’s (“Spoons”)and then set out to find some lunch. Back to the river then to the Boat House where we found ongoing building work to restore order after the winter floods but never mind, we settled down to watch rowers practising on the river whilst we enjoyed beautifully-cooked beer-battered fish and chips served on plates lined with greaseproof-paper displaying information about fish, etc.. We did, of course, have a little tipple with our meal, as is the custom on SGD and took in our stride the interruption when one of the builders accidentally set off the fire alarm.

1st drinks photo SGD1stDrinks_zps53331b9f.jpg Spoons mum photo SGDSpoonsMum_zpsfdb092ba.jpg Lunch by river mum photo SGDlunchmum_zpsf6cfb0e3.jpg Lunch me photo SGDlunch_zps1d12614a.jpg Lunch tipple photo SGDlunch2_zpsaf1e71ce.jpg Lunch drinks photo SGDlunchdrinks_zps518ba278.jpg Lunch photo SGDLunchFishandchips_zps531eeaf1.jpg

Feeling somewhat merrier by now, we made our way to the next planned watering hole only to find it closed. However, not too far away was a new establishment – an old church converted to a bar/ restaurant – where we whiled away another very pleasant interlude with a little drink.

Church pub photo SGDChurchoutside_zpsd5b2ce43.jpg In Church photo SGDChurch_zps5892ad6b.jpg Church bar photo Churchbar_zps592a1f82.jpg Church drinks photo SGDChurchdrinks_zps813c4998.jpg Church pew photo ChurchMum_zps78aa4d22.jpg Church - me photo Anjichurch_zpsd6db821e.jpg

During our earlier wanderings, we’d called into the O2 shop to discuss my up-coming mobile upgrade and I decided I wanted to it that day so off we went back to the shop, did the deal and came away with my new toy. Exhausted by now and with home time calling, we returned on the bus to round off the day with crumpets and cakes – and more wine throughout a (very) relaxed evening.

Last drinks of the day

All in all, a very good SGD once again. Thank you Anji, for enjoying it with me.

My weekend in a few words

I drove to the match on Saturday and drove through brilliant sunshine, snow on the verges, hailstone storms, wind, rain and spray so thick fog lights had to be used! I was very surprised by how few fans Fulham brought – I’ve never seen so few (about 1/3 of the lower tier away section only, and none of the top!)

fulham fans

After enjoying the 5-0 win, despite being absolutely freezing cold, I stopped to admire the building work for our new academy which is coming on apace. The white structure is the bridge which will link the academy complex to the stadium.

etihad bridge

Then it was off to mum’s for a wonderful 24-hours of laughs and love. I even managed (at last) to do my naked face selfie for cancer awareness. If you haven’t yet done it girls,I nominate you, and boys, I nominate you to take a selfie with makeup! Regardless, go and check yourselves now for lumps and bumps please – that’s the price I’m charging for seeing my picture! 😛 (Yes. Now. Go on. It will only take you a mo. Girls, check those boobs, chaps that precious tackle!

nomakeupselfie1

Although the weather had been challenging on the drive down, the car’s new radiator (fitted the day before) behaved itself perfectly.Alas, on the way back, the weather behaved and the car didn’t! I drove home with my eyes glued to the temperature guage and had to refill the radiator reservoir several times and buy extra fluid along the way.

cartemp

Thank fully I made I made it home safely having kept the car at 60 mph / 3000 rpm or less – so it was straight to bed for me. I’ve had today off though and have been able to catch up at home with 4 wash loads done, unpacking done, finances sorted, and a lovely relaxing bath before homemade pepperoni pizza to round it off. Wonderful! Can I have a day off every week please? 🙂

Spring appears to be springing :)

Look what’s appeared in the garden 🙂

spring

Protected: Struggling

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Happy New Year 2014

The year has flown by but on the whole it’s been a positive one, moving slowly in the right direction as I mentioned at Christmas.

Happy 2014 to all the people that keep me going. You! My friends and family. May this New Year be all that you hope it will be. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, it’s that life is full of uncertainties so you have to go grab it by the horns and make it (whatever it may be) happen!

Christmas shopping day

I took a very rare day off work (the first since July in fact, discounting the August bank holiday) on the first Monday of December so that I could do my Christmas shopping. I wouldn’t have picked that date myself as it WAS a little early, but there wasn’t any other day I could take, so I just went with it. As it turned out, I was actually feeling quite Christmassy so rather enjoyed myself.

After everyone else had left for work, I got myself ready and then walked along to the shops. I’d decided against going into Newcastle or the Metrocentre for the occasion as Raji had my car for work and I really didn’t fancy faffing with buses or trains, being limited to a timetable, carrying bags all day and paying far too much for the privilege. After the first shop – in which I bought presents for a couple of people, I felt I deserved a treat, so went in to the newly opened branch of my favourite coffee shop:

Christmassy coffee

A few more shops and several more presents later, I decided to take my morning’s loot back home and freshen up before going to meet Billy for lunch ( a very early Anniversary treat) We had a very enjoyable meal in Wetherspoons and though we’d had soft drinks with it, I rather fancied one of the liqueur coffees and went for the Disaronno one – which was very nice. (I drink my coffee black so any of the flavours would have worked – can’t imagine them with milk in though. Yeugh!)

Boozy coffee

After that, it was back to the shops and I managed to pretty much finish all the present shopping. It was so nice to have the chance to go in to the smaller shops and browse in leisurely fashion. There are so many little unique things to be found and really no need to suffer the stress of going further afield. To be fair, I have also made a lot of presents this year and again, those I have bought have not been extravagant. Still, there’s a satisfying little pile of presents on the bedroom floor waiting to be wrapped 🙂

Over the course of this last week, I’ve iced the cakes, made a few more presents, and even put up the decorations. I’m STILL feeling Christmassy so am making the most of it and enjoying it. (I did consider trying to quell it until nearer the day, but then thought that it could be gone in a flash and I’d have denied myself the fun.)

I quite enjoyed playing with the decorations – being in a new house means finding new places to put things so it was fun starting from scratch. When I’d done, it looked quite cosy in the living room so I lit a fire and Billy and I sat down together to enjoy the ambience. I even wrote a couple of cards – whilst sipping a glass of wine to reward myself 🙂

Cosy for Christmas

Shopping, giggles then 6 of the best for City

Last weekend I finally got back down to see mum and go to my match after a very long gap. I loved the drive down on Friday night which gave me a chance to relax with mum and then have all day Saturday together.

We visited Broughton, a retail park just over the Welsh border which I really like and we spent the morning doing a bit of Christmas shopping and browsing. One of the shops we visited sold a variety of homewares and gifts and after looking at ornaments, kitchen ware, bathroom stuff, hot water bottles and so on, we were in another aisle and I had to stop to work out what we were looking at. Hot water bottle covers maybe? Eventually, my poor muddled brain eventually worked out what the candy stripe knitted object which had caught my attention actually was….. a knitted dog jacket! Well I started giggling and pointed it out to mum. Who also got the giggles and soon we were in hysterics, complete with snorting, which drew attention from other shoppers – who promptly gave us a wide berth 😀

Hot water bottle cover? 😀

Mum did buy something in that shop so while she queued to pay, I carried on browsing. But the image of the little doggy jacket popped into my head again and I was back to giggling and snorting – and drawing bemused glances 😀

We decided a bit of a sit down and a food break was in order after a while so we had lunch in the pub across the road. Although it was quite busy, the service was friendly and efficient, we enjoyed our rest and the food was vhot, fresh and filling.

The last shop to visit was Tesco for the main shopping and a few Christmassy bits, but we were both quite tired, there were too many people (who showed no awareness of others around them 🙁 ) and all the kids in there were very noisy. We got what we needed but were very glad to escape once we were done.

It was wonderful to get home, shut the door on everyone and just relax over a dinner of braised steak, accompanied by a bottle of wine – and another bout of giggles thinking about the knitted doggy jackets 😀

Next morning we were a bit short of time so we set to and I packed my things, gathered more wood from mum’s pile of tree cuttings in the garden and loaded the car. Mum, meanwhile, packed me a picnic and then cooked us a full English breakfast. What a treat, and how delicious! 🙂 Soon it was time to say goodbye and head off to Manchester for the match….

I arrived in time to pick up some Christmas bits and a new woolly hat to replace my old one which was missing, and then went on up to my seat and greeted my season ticket neighbours. I noted that the Spurs support was a decent turnout for a Sunday lunch time a distance away at this (expensive) time of year. I thought this would be a tight game as our defence is ropey and Spurs have some pace – probably one goal in it and I just hoped it would go our way. City’s new fangled gimic before kick off these days is to have various people singing Blue Moon. This week’s singer was Jason Manford who asked us all to “be upstanding for the National anthem” 😀 He’s actually not a bad singer.

People were still milling about finding their seats shortly after the whistle had blown and then all of a sudden, the ball was in the back of the net! No! That was never a goal this early (13 secs)? It looked alright to us but…. Well, we looked at the ref. Looked at the lino. Looked at the goal again. Looked at the players. Realised it WAS a goal (and what a goal!) and it stood. And celebrated belatedly 😀

Well the rest of the game was surreal – 6 lovely goals and none in reply! At 5-0 I think I’d decided that was likely to be it, but Navas’ run and goal was cherry on the cake 🙂 Beautiful! (So, to summarise, that was Navas for the 1st & 6th goals, a harsh own goal for the 2nd, Aguero twice then Negredo for the 5th.) Not only does one not expect to keep scoring so many goals, but to beat Spurs by such a margin – well, let’s just say that there will be very few, if any, who put money on that! (And if they did, they deserve every penny of their winnings!))

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

I had a lovely drive home to round off my thoroughly enjoyable weekend which had been overdue but worth the wait.

Two dramas in one week: Drama 1

Last week I had the heavy cold that was doing the rounds, and by midweek had raging sinusitis and sniffles – which I hate! Happily the herbs pushed this through quite fast but it meant that I had 3 days of feeling sorry for myself. On Thursday night I thankfully sank into bed at the end of the day and was relaxing with a DVD when Nel popped out to Tesco.

I heard a strange noise and paused my DVD to listen for it. It was a sort of high pitched sound but although I stopped to listen for a good 5 minutes it didn’t come again. Timmy was on my chair and had his ears pricked up so I knew I hadn’t imagined it. It seemed to come from above me. Just as I was about to give in, I heard it again, very briefly. OH MY GOD!

Tiny Squishy


Somehow, my brain managed to put 2+2 together and realised that was a hamster squeaking in distress and as I bolted out of my sick bed and up the stairs, I heard a cat jump down from somewhere! I crashed in to Nel’s room and sure enough, there was Zara with little Squishy, the tiny Roborowski hamster, in her mouth! I yelled at her and thankfully she dropped him and I chased Zara and Zeb out of the room and slammed the door shut and then ran to where I’d seen Squishy. There he was and without thinking I tried to catch him – Roborovskis are very fast and don’t like being handled so of course, as I scooped him up, he scrabbled off the edge of my hand and was off behind the bed. Stupid me! (Stupid as well for handling him when I had a cold – human colds are dangerous to hamsters.)

Zara


I went to the other side of the bed and happily I spotted him huddled in the corner behind Nel’s desk so I sat myself down and didn’t take my eyes off him. The cats were meowing pitifully at the door, my phone was in my own room so I couldn’t call Nel and no-one knew I was in her room to come looking. I hoped she wouldn’t be long – especially as Squishy appeared to be recovering from his fright and might be on the move again soon! Then Billy called me and I eventually managed to tell him to come in the room without letting the cats in. When I explained, I asked him to try calling Nel – but there was no answer. He and Raji decided to go hunting for her and I just prayed Squishy would stay put until she got home.

Alas, he was now starting to scamper around the area and though I was relieved to see that he was apparently unhurt, I was worried he’d disappear – he is such a tiny little thing and the bare floorboards probably had a few little holes which he could fall down! There were certainly plenty of corners and cupboards he could get into! Finally, Nel came home though hadn’t seen the men, but she let Zeb in the room as she entered so I had to try and yell what had happened and get her to catch Zeb. He came straight over to the hamster – who promptly shot off behind the bed – before I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and got him back outside.

Argh! Squishy was nowhere in sight! We hunted with a torch and couldn’t find him anywhere so we had to put the two bits of his cage on the floor, leaving him the means to get inside, and hope he could make his way home and want the safety of his own bed. Poor Nel didn’t get a wink of sleep listening out for him, but alas, he didn’t appear over night.

By the time I left to go away for the weekend on the Friday night, there was no sign still and Nel was sure he was under the floor boards or in one of the many cubby-cupboards dotted around that top floor and we weren’t certain he’d be able to get back even if he had been a clever boy and worked out how to retrace his steps. (In the wild they roam for miles each night and they leave a trail of wee to follow home. Would he even have thought of this?) I felt he’d be able to snack on the odd spider or beastie but I did think water would be a problem so I could only hope his need for fluid would drive him back.

Bizarrely, we’re not sure quite how Zara got him out of his cage in the first place. The cage (see picture below) was neatly on the shelf where it lives. The only thing out of place was the tube that joined the two parts – this was disconnected. How did the cat do that? How did she get him out of it? Or did he come out of his own accord? The distressed squeaking I’d heard (loud for such a tiny creature) was BEFORE the cat thudded to the floor – so did he jump out in fright? We’ll never know. We could only pray he’d come back.

Two-bit cage


I woke up on Saturday morning to a text from Nel that she’d sent at 12.54am: “I got Squishy! 🙂

Apparently she’d heard him – on the opposite side of the room to where we THOUGHT he was – and he was trying to drag one of his treats (left out to tempt him) back under a cubby-cupboard door! Nel quickly used videos to block his path and was then able to catch him with an upside down (empty) tissue box. His fur and his paws were black, but he was safely home.

He is now in only half his cage for the moment until Nel sorts out a cat-proof larger home for him. She says he seems bored now and it looks like he rather enjoyed his freedom. He is slowly getting cleaner though his paws are still grubby. What an adventure for a little scrap of fur and what a clever little boy to get home. Nel is very pleased of course, and having saved him from the cat, so am I. What a drama, but a happy outcome. Welcome home Squishy 🙂

Squishy

The Apprentice

Once upon a time there was a little girl who struggled to make sense of the world around her. She knew she wasn’t quite like everyone else but she didn’t really know why. As she grew up she learned to mimic the social behaviour of those around her and somehow get through though she always felt like an outsider; someone who didn’t get the joke or pick up on subtext and therefore never quite feeling confident of her place in the world. Even mum called her “my little odd-bod” though this was naturally with affection and the unreserved love of a mother who accepts and loves her child just as she is. She hated school but could never quite manage to make anyone understand just how difficult school was for her and how every day was a battle. Against her difficulty taking in all the information. Against an inability to put her thoughts and ideas in to words on paper. Against her absolute loathing of all sports and PE. Against her peers who seemed as alien to her as she apparently did to them – and some of whom bullied her. It was a relief to finally leave this hell and yet she had somehow managed to do so with six GCSE’s including English and Maths and after a brief fling with college she even returned to 6th Form for a while. But still she didn’t know why she seemed to find life so hard when others looked to actually be enjoying it! Finally, at 18-and-a-half she found out; she had high functioning autism. This was an absolutely stunning revelation and served to highlight just how well she had done to get by and her achievements thus far.

Naturally, you realise that little girl is Nel. And you may know that she’s unfortunately been out of work most of her adult life. Art has been her life-long outlet for her thoughts and ideas and she has largely been busy with that at home, but she’s WANTED to work. Unfortunately, with the difficulties she has plus the current high unemployment and economic situation, this has not proved easy.

Then in March, she received a call from the job centre asking if she’d be prepared to consider an apprenticeship, and if so, to hot-foot down there that afternoon to register. She did this and was initially put off on seeing a small group of other candidates but gritted her teeth and got through the session. She said that the others were mainly of the view that it wasn’t worth bothering with, working full time but only getting £40 a week more than they got already on the dole. She didn’t agree and wholeheartedly embraced the idea of getting some training and experience and a foot on a career path. Good for her, that’s my girl! 🙂

Since then, in a very slow process, she’s filled in forms, attended interviews and continued to pursue her application. She had to go to North Shields (45 minutes away) on a Saturday afternoon for “an interview” (wearing borrowed clothes of mine, yet with her own style and she looked stunning.) However, when she got there it was to a room full of other candidates which was somewhat alarming for someone who doesn’t cope with large groups of people! Again, she pushed herself to get through and get through she did. The organisers apologised that the letter had said it was an interview when in fact it was an assessment! Agh! Again, she overcame her fears and she passed the assessment. Interestingly, they were told that of 4,000 applicants, 300 were invited to attend the day and yet only 48 turned up! Proud of my daughter? You bet! At the end of the session she decided she wanted to sign up for a Healthcare Apprenticeship and asked if her one-to-one interview could possibly be nearer home.

She had her interview here at our hospital and was provisionally accepted. She then attended an Occupational Health assessment and an appointment for her documentation to be checked. She got her criminal record clearance and she was asked to attend a one day induction at 2 days’ notice last week which she thoroughly enjoyed.

After a long journey, she finally starts her NHS Apprenticeship on Monday, with 2 weeks induction training first and then working on the wards at the same hospital where I work. She has to go to North Shields for training 2 days a month but Raji has kindly said he will chauffeur her (as he did for her one day induction and will do for her 2-week initial training) as he can then go on to work (in South Shields) from there. What a star, thanks Raji.

So my amazing daughter (and she truly IS amazing) will at last be able to take her first steps on the road to working and independence and I am both very proud of her and delighted FOR her. Since she’ll be my colleague, we’re going to try and have a girls’ lunch in the canteen once a month which will be pretty special despite its humble location 🙂