Seaside themes, Brighton, Buxton and Bakewell…..

We’ve had a wonderful three weeks whereby we’ve been to Southend, London, Oxford, Brighton, Dudley, Barnsley, Buxton, Bakewell, Helmsley and Thirsk.

We’ve visited the seaside, the countryside, been to the theatre, watched some cricket and even been down a coal mine. We’ve spent time with family and friends, enjoyed fantastic food and imbibed maybe too much. The sun has shone and I’ve laughed so much. River continues to change and is funny, confident and a joy.

This is what I had hoped retirement would provide, and after almost a year of adjustment I think I’ve worked out how to make it happen.

Time and people are precious so I’m going to be very busy making the most of both.

Magnificent women

What a momentous day! An English senior football team has won a cup on the international stage. I do hope that this is a platform to build from and opens up many opportunities for women to thrive and achieve, and shows how formidable women can be.

A little over three weeks I had news of the passing of one of my Aunts. I have been fortunate to have a plethora of both Aunts and uncles, of which one remains. Both Auntie Mabel and my Mum are the last of their generation and it was so lovely to see them this weekend.

The funeral was on Monday and I was so disappointed not to be able to attend. Mum attended to pay our familial respects, and we were all together this weekend to celebrate the marriage of one of her youngest sons.

Auntie Ina was a quiet woman, who derived so much pleasure from her family, friends, bowling, bingo and dancing with her beloved Jim. Always a smile and never seemed fazed by what life threw her way. I have many memories from early childhood seeing them, and the fondest of memories of meeting their twin sons in 1978, and again at their daughter’s wedding in 1984.

A reconnection in 2019 at Jim’s funeral has been lovely, and their heartfelt wishes when my Dad died last year very comforting.

My life has been full of women who have made such large contributions to their families, and communities with their gentle, unassuming manner, and with their children I am lucky to enjoy spending time in their company. Sitting with so many last night and listening to their recollections, frustrations, and fears it proved an emotional evening to celebrate such a joyous occasion whilst grieving.

The groom and his entourage were so smart, with the bride and daughter stunning, and there will also be a welcome in our home to whoever would like to visit.

I did rather drink a tad too much, four baby Guinness shots, but with lots of dancing I woke this morning feeling fine.

The drive home was good, although we did almost manage to have another scrape with a lorry!

Once again I am reminded of how life can throw that curved ball, unexpectedly, and to make the most of enjoying time with all my family. The last photo of my beautiful grandson in his new Chelsea strip

Two weeks, two countries, two birthdays.

Andrew came to visit, the first time in four years, and three years since we last saw him. There was lots of catching up with family and friends in Scotland and England, so lots of miles covered. My mum was thrilled to see him, and we visited Dad’s grave which was poignant.

Andrew taught Kevin to play poker and they enjoyed some quality time together actually playing in a tournament, which resulted in a 3am cab home.

Whilst over we celebrated Andrew’s birthday and mine which was so good. We hadn’t done that since 2010.

Andrew met his nephew, River, who was unsure at first, but very quickly warmed to him and they were playing football in the garden. it was good to see them interacting and we will certainly keep up contact via FaceTime.

We also had the political upheaval of resignations, forcing Boris Johnson to resign. Seeing the fall out from this playing out was one of those where we’re you moments to talk about in the future.

The last two weeks have also given me impetus to book some opportunities to travel, and we have plans for at least another two destinations. Life is for living and I’m going to give it my best shot!

And in a flash two weeks have passed and Andrew has endured 3 flights, 1 more to go, then a 2 hour drive to get home. It has been so lovely to have him here, we’ve talked, laughed, seen more Teslas than I knew existed! and it felt so comfortable to have him here.

Yesterday we went to see Elvis the movie, which was amazing. Austin Butler was superb as Elvis, I found it sad, thought provoking and I remembered where I was the day I found out he was dead. I left the cinema visibly emotional, I couldn’t speak. If you can go and see it on the big screen.

Fathers Day 2022

A strange day although wonderful at the same time. Great to spend time with Joe, River and SpongeBob SquarePants! Also Georgina and Kevin.

Although this wasn’t the first Father’s Day after Dad died, in some ways it felt as if it was, as I had made a card for last year. It’s those little things that make it real.

He wasn’t far from my thoughts as he is most days in one way or another. Seeing Joe with River does help enormously and spending time with all family is precious.

Last weekend I was in Scotland for a family wedding which was such a beautiful occasion. Everything was on point and a day full of laughter not blighted by the rain. It was the first wedding I attended where I didn’t cry and the band were on the X factor!

On Friday we had the funeral of Uncle Tony who died on the 1st May. He lived a full life, with travel, work, family and friends. The service was lovely and although a sad occasion it was good spending time with family with a meal afterwards.

Next week Andrew is visiting for two weeks, which no doubt will be a whirlwind, with lots of catching up to do. the house is different and he will meet River for the first time!

Summer approaching

Summer is just around the corner with glimpses of the better weather.

I’ve travelled to Scotland twice, watched Arbroath FC win, although didn’t secure promotion this year. There are so many exciting developments at the club so maybe next season. Dad would have been chuffed at their performance this season, and I can’t believe it’s a year since he died. We all still feel his presence around us, we still tell his jokes and it was lovely that Georgina and I were with Mum on the anniversary and visited his grave and had a margarita pizza in his honour. It was what he always ordered.

We’ve had lots of fun with River in the sun, he is really developing in character. He knows when he is being funny and is starting to understand if someone is sad. Cuddles and kisses are frequent and unsolicited. Nursery are very complimentary about his speech too-he’s a joy!

I visited the chelsea flower show for the first, but not the last, time. I loved it, even though thunderstorms peppered the day, they didn’t dampen our enjoyment nor spirits in the slightest. Seeing the cacophony of colour, the design structures, the swathes of planting – I was inspired, so no doubt there will be tweaks to my little plot. Can’t wait for next year.

Next up is the queen’s platinum jubilee, a celebration with family next week, then another trip north, and preparation for Andrew visiting for a couple of weeks in late June, early July. Can’t wait

Where did March and April go…..

The last eight weeks have flown by with outings with River, trips to Scotland, Bruges, Spain, Surrey and Sussex. Our first tentative travel experiences were successful which have given me confidence to do more and soon.

We’ve delighted in great company, fantastic food and seeing lots of family and friends. The weather has been great too. We’ve visited the theatre three times to see plays really different in type with more booked coming up.

I took Mum to meet Giovanni Pernice from strictly cone dancing (reigning champion in fact) which she was thrilled with. He was so lovely too. The show was fantastic, so good I’ve already bought tickets for 2023!

We’ve celebrated Mothers’ Day and I’m so grateful for all the women in my life who have provided support, love and time. Time spent with them is always fulfilling and rich with joy and laughter, safe in the knowledge that they can also lift you up when you need it.

Our daughter’s birthday celebration in London yesterday was fantastic, food fantastic, in a great trattoria in shoreditch followed by a roof top bar near St. Paul’s.

I really don’t know how I had time to work. A more relaxed day today with family with sunshine and laughter.

March is here

The last four weeks have been so full of wonderful places to visit, some I’ve never been to before after living here for 36 years in March. we’ve celebrated Joe’s 30th birthday, made an addition to the garden, I’ve made cards, done some painting, and tried out a few new recipes.

The recent storms were frightening but luckily we escaped relatively unscathed, just a couple of fence panels lost. As our neighbour has a garden business hopefully these will be replaced soon.

There’s been some sad news about former colleagues, emphasising that life is short and to take opportunities as they arise. I have been surprised by how I do not miss working, and how easy it has been to establish a new routine. Getting up later, going where we want, when we want, not having to wait until the weekend to do things.

We have a new member of our extended family, a little girl, and we can’t wait to meet her. I do hope it’s soon to revel in the newborn stage.

With travel restrictions to Australia lifted we will see how best to facilitate either visiting or Andrew to visit us. it’s been 4+ years since we’ve visited and there’s so many parts still to visit.

March and April will be very busy and we will be travelling abroad for the first time in 2 1/2 years. I do hope it will be not too strange and that we can sort out any necessary paperwork with ease.

A theatre trip beckoned last a Thursday with a weekend of rugby and family enjoyed

Three weeks in to 2022

It’s been a busy three weeks. We’ve established a routine for looking after River, and we’ve enjoyed time with family and friends.

There’s been lots of cooking and tidying, and also plans made for trips in the coming months. It’s been quite weird looking at things to book and places to visit, but the excitement and anticipation is so good!

Hopefully, with the vaccination programme and the variants becoming less potent we can be more confident to make plans. This is certainly what we had planned for our retirement so fingers crossed.

2021 …..

With 2022 almost upon us, time to reflect on, for me personally and us as a family, what a year 2021 has been. The challenges, as for many others, have been multifarious, each with their own mini challenges within.

We have been through a whole gamut of emotions: disbelief, shock, anger, surprise, grief, sadness, helplessness, elation, joy, relief, acceptance, pride and hope.

I’m grateful for family and friends, their support has been immeasurable. No one knows what the future holds, and after this year I know that we can face anything together.

In sixty years I’ve had two tough years previously. The very nature of life is that there will be the ups and downs. My husband has always counselled me ‘it’s not what you’re going through, it’s how you deal with it’. I have tested this fully this year.

There have been too many tears, but much laughter also. River has been a delight, we watch him grow with joy and pride.

Over the year there have been days when I didn’t know how I would find the strength to carry on, to get out of bed to face the day, even go to work: but I did, we did. We had hope and faith in the process, US, that tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, a hope for better and peace in our lives

There were days when I wished that the year was over, but that wish wouldn’t have precipitated it any quicker. Why negate this year, which has given so much happiness too?

2021 is the year that kept giving, an achievement to get through which is something to be proud of. I’ve seen so many family members, and celebrated my sixtieth birthday as well as my retirement: both timely and right for us.

Hopefully we can travel again and visit places on our list made in February 2020. Life is for living, making memories and have a belief in what you are capable of.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy new year, full of love and laughter.

Day after Boxing Day

A trip to Harrods on Saturday 18th with Georgina was, as always, so enjoyable. The store was busy which was surprising with what had been in the news recently. After travelling to Scotland and back in two days, Christmas prep began in earnest and with River for two days it was busy, but fun too.

I did lots of cooking including making a clootie dumpling as Dad did ( I’ve still not got it right – I need a bigger pan that can be used on an induction hob!) and before we knew it Christmas Eve was upon us, everything prepped and table set for the big day. I attended Mass with Mum which was like days of old. Home to enchiladas and some finishing touches.

Presents were exchanged, thoughtful and emotional raising of glasses for those not with us. Much later in the evening we moved furniture as with 9 for dinner on Sunday we needed the table extended. We all mixed in and we retired to bed.

Our guests arrived just after 1:30pm and it was an enjoyable chilled morning. After drinks and catching up and with Dora and River settled, dinner was served. River was so good in his high hair, eating his dinner, and I was so busy I didn’t get any photos at all really. Dora was also very good, especially after her trip to the vets on Christmas Day.

Today has so far been spent taking it very easy. All the furniture has to be rearranged and everything put away. It was a wonderful few days, with memories and moments to cherish. I hope that extended family and friends have had a Merry Christmas. I looked back on last year’s post and I wrote about our bonds as a family, this year they were tested to the utmost, and to end on a few days of such joy is what it is all about.

Precious moments….

Since last writing, it’s been a bit hectic. There’s been little let up in two weeks: garage clearing ( although that’s stalled), Christmas decorating in the hall, snug and living space. River has been to stay and is enthralled with the lights and baubles.

A great trip to Birmingham with Debbie visiting Dudley and Bridgnorth and a surprise to see the great Tom Hiddleston in the ‘ play what I wrote’. Oh how we did laugh. We enjoyed great food, the Balti was outstanding! On Sunday an impromptu trip to see some cousins was so special too.

Next up was mince pies, cake icing, planning, River duty and his birthday on Wednesday. What a year it has been, and River delights us all. He’s interested in all that goes on around him and gives us all so much joy. Friday was a lunch out with old friends and reaffirmed the decision to retire was so right for us.

Today we had a party for River’s first birthday and an early start. There were balloons, party bags, food, cake and family and friends. The little man seemed to take it all in his stride, and enjoyed it as we all did. Music was playing and then Cilla Black came on with You’re my World, which immediately made me emotional as it brought back memories of my Dad.

You’re my world, you’re every breath I take
You’re my world, every move I make
Other eyes see the stars up in the skies
But for me they shine within your eyes…

I cried, and this is how I feel about those I love and hold dear.

We also had some sad news that my cat had to be put to sleep on Thursday, Smudge was secreted into our home by the kids 12 years ago ( still can’t believe how), and she went to live across the road about 8 years ago as her and Oscar didn’t get on. She did come in now and then and the first would fly and there would be hissing. Still very sad.

December around the corner

In the last three weeks I’ve enjoyed two trips to the theatre in London, been to Murrayfield and been to Scotland and back. The next three will be full of all things Christmas preparation (hopefully) and a chance to take things a little easier.

A trip to see Pride and prejudice sort of, began with dinner at Zedel, a French restaurant: what wonderful surroundings, food and company. So good we would return two weeks later!

Before we started our journey to Scotland via Barnsley, we had our booster jabs, and no nasty side effects which was great. Andrew got the keys to his first home, although Kevin commented it did appear a bit small😉😉

We had a wonderful evening in Barnsley although the car was broken into. It wasn’t until we arrived in Scotland that we realised they had taken a bag of papers, an iPad, Kevin’s glasses and my medication I’d just picked up! South Yorkshire police were helpful and sympathetic and it did provide a downer on the Friday. They also stole tools from my cousin’s fiancé’s car.

Saturday arrived, an early start to Murrayfield to see Scotland play South Africa. Hopes were high, but ill discipline was Scotland’s undoing in the second half. Still a chance to see the World Champions though. It was a sunny day and the surrounding convivial company made the result bearable.

Sunday, and I made some pastries for breakfast, a Christmas cake and poached pears for dinner. The walks, sunrises and sunsets have been pretty awesome.

And it was time for the return journey home via Barnsley again. Whilst on the journey a call advised us that the majority of the items had been recovered from a house and we could collect the next morning. This provided a great sense of relief all round, although we took everything out of the car this time, and cctv has now been installed at my cousin’s. We had a delightful meal and tootled off to the police station in the morning.

The last few days have been busy seeing River, prepping for Christmas and catching up with things. I’ve taken everything Christmas decoration wise, out of the loft, started the food shop, made a timeline and after a fantastic consultation with ‘this girl can organise’, a plan to get the garage decluttered. A trip to London to see Les Mis and another delicious meal at Zedel. Despite the rumblings of another possible lockdown, another virulent strain of covid, I am booking things up for next year, hopeful that they will go ahead.

River will soon be a year old so we are also getting prepared for that celebration. Until next time – keep safe!