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!

So much to do and so little time

The car went in for a MOT two weeks ago, which was all good, and due to a semi conductor shortage we are unable to get our new car for another six months, but that should make it even more worthwhile when it arrives.

We travelled back to Scotland again and it is good to see how much mum has settled and adapting to her new circumstances. She was so pleased to see us and it was good to return. We sold Dad’s car, so that was another tick off the list of things to do.

We caught up with some paperwork and relatives and enjoyed fish and chips!

Halloween approached and we were sent some great photos of River ‘aka’ pumpkin boy. So cute.

We enjoyed walking most mornings, and Elaine had an eventful journey up to Scotland on the Sunday, beset with delays and hearing those dreaded words ‘ is there a doctor or nurse on board?’. An ambulance was called, and we drove to Dundee to pick her up. I was a bit sad as it reminded me that a journey to pick me up from Dundee in April was the last time Dad collected me.

I took mum for her covid booster and flu jab, but had to drive to Montrose, it was pouring with rain, but mum was on form!

Monday was a new month and an internment of Ashes for my Aunt. There were a few additional family members that attended from two weeks earlier and it was lovely to be back at St Thomas’s, the church where I was baptised, made my Holy Communion and where Dad had his funeral just a few months ago. Fr Andrew and Mark the funeral director were again, so kind and made the saddest of times a little easier to bare.

A trip to the cemetery and the sun shone as Auntie Alma was reunited with her beloved Joe. May perpetual light shine upon them and may they rest in peace together.

We gathered to toast and reminisce at the Carnoustie Golf Club Hotel. Lovely to meet Gabriella, the newest member of the extended family. Mum especially enjoyed seeing different faces and photos of days of yore. Undoubtedly Alma’s immediate family will feel her loss keenly but they have wonderful memories that will help over the coming months and years and they have each other too.

All too soon it was time to return home and a good journey through sunshine and showers took 8 hours.

We’ve seen River twice since our return, and he is changing and growing before our eyes.

Friday saw us attending a celebration of life of a dear friend’s Dad. Kevin knew John for over 40 years, and I’m not much further behind. A real character, a bon viveur, he lived life to the full. We were given a real insight into his early life, friends of over 70 years recanted about how they met, we’re out of touch, then reunited some years later. There was laughter, a few risqué references more laughter and his four daughters all paid tribute to their dear Dad. Three of his granddaughters spoke of his legacy and it was so touching. At almost 90 there were over 100 people there from all different paths and it showed that John was an intrinsic part of the community where he lived for 60 years and gave his time and energy to so many. I’m unsure whether there are many ‘Johns’ left, which is sad, due to societal changes but he left a lasting impression on us all.

I reflected that here was a man loved and who loved, and that will sustain the family forever. It brought back memories of my Dad and whilst there were tears, there was also a smile on my face.

Yesterday was a lovely day with a trip to a Garden centre, and lunch out. River held court and we all just sit, smiling at this little boy. Oh how Dad would have loved to see him grow.

The afternoon was spent putting together a potting table with no instructions-took almost all of the first half of England v Tonga. I hope to enjoy many hours of pottering over the next few months and years.

Next up is a return to Scotland and a trip to Murrayfield, after which I’m hoping for a few weeks of home time, as we prepare for River’s first birthday and Christmas.

Now is the winter of our discontent……

The title of this blog is the opening line from Shakespeare’s Richard III, but how would you read it?

I read it as, although we’ve been through some challenging times, that better days are to come. I’m being positive, as it could be that we are to face even bigger challenges on the political landscape for the coming months. I’ll stick with the former!

This week has had the full gamut of emotions: sadness, joy, happiness, pride, and coupled with a short break away-just enough for a recharge. Christmas cards made, some cleaning, a catch up with friends and booking a few things to do was a welcome distraction. A weekend with River and a family birthday party was delightful and seeing the next generation growing up giving joy to all.

Our journey to Sussex to my Auntie’s cremation was good and again family bonds were highlighted with some beautiful photos and words shared at the service. Auntie Alma was a tiny lady in stature but had a big heart, a beautiful smile, an infectious laugh, fiercely proud of her family and much loved. We will get together again on 1st of November in Scotland to reunite her with her beloved Joe where we will no doubt recant further stories and enjoy more photos over her 9 decades.

We travelled to Emsworth to stay at one of the Harbour Deckhouses. I follow the owner on Instagram and have enjoyed seeing the transformation to a holiday let. His blog ( award winning!) and pages are such a great read and I would recommend a stay. Photos don’t do it justice

A trip to the Hambledon vineyard proved very interesting with the history of cricket stumps and bails moving from 2/1 to 3/2. The sparkling wine was also excellent and washed down the cheese selection. Again worth a visit if nearby. They do afternoon tea and dine and vine and with a new visitor facility due to be open in April, we will certainly go again.

A walk around Emsworth was lovely before returning to get ready for our dinner at the Crown and Anchor at Dell Quay.

We arrived home on Wednesday and it felt like we’d been away much longer. Thursday was productive and on Friday we picked up River. He was so good and is growing so quickly. Saturday saw a trip to Oliver’s second birthday party and it was so special to see the little ones interact and play.

Mum is doing well and we are looking forward to seeing her next week. A catch up with Oz was great and news of Andrew’s poker wins.

It’s true what they say about how did we find time to work, but I suspect that priorities shift to accommodate the time.

Scotland the Brave

What a week! Elaine and I took mum home; she hadn’t been there since late June so we set priority on some tasks to complete.

On Sunday we made a list and worked our way through during the week. We saw family, neighbours, enjoyed good food, and crossed things off the list. The priest who officiated at Dad’s burial came round and we have made inroads for support over the coming weeks.

This has been overwhelming for us to do, and especially for Mum to be reassured that as she becomes established in new routines and old ones too, these can be adapted as and when.

Mum has been brighter in her own home, no longer living out of a suitcase and with her bountiful accessories around her.

Dora has provided much comfort, although being in season, proved a challenge, but we managed at least one good walk a day, something I want to continue to do. Another trip to the vet as she may have eaten some paracetamol from a blister pack on Thursday provided additional excitement we could have done without.

It was hard to say adieu yesterday morning and Mum put a brave face on. She has good support in neighbours and family around her, and she will both find hard but enjoy the quietness to reflect on their life together, no doubt talk to Dad and reacquaint herself with those memories, love and give Mum the time she needs to adjust. Due to a family bereavement Kevin and I will return by the end of the month, and we have Facebook to keep in contact.

Travel and travails

Over the last few weeks there has been much mileage put on the clock. We’ve been to Colchester, Devon, Sussex and London. We’ve gardened, completed financial wizardry and celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary.

Sadly we’ve lost a couple of dear people in our lives, and that is always a time of reflection, but they both had lives well lived and have left us and their families with precious memories.

I’ve spent time with dear friends and Kevin and I have also managed some time together. We saw the latest James Bond film, which I enjoyed and also became quite emotional at a few junctures.

It’s strange beginning the day later with less structure but so far I love it, although I do ensure that I achieve something every day, no matter how small.

River is blossoming and his character becoming more apparent. He laughs and his face is very descriptive of how he is feeling, and the joy he gives overwhelming.

Yesterday I travelled to Scotland on the train, as Elaine and I look to get mum settled in her home and support her in her new normal. It was strange to arrive at the station without mum or dad on the platform and returning to an empty house. Her neighbours have been brilliant keeping the house and garden maintained.

The next few weeks will be intense, and the spectre of Christmas will begin, cards, gifts and the annual afternoon tea and shoe shopping. With a new year not too far off, even with the harbingers of doom doing their best to provide negativity, we need to seek a flip side to look forward to it.

Autumnal equinox

A month ago I blogged about resilience, and three weeks of retirement has proved that still more is needed, although there have been lighter moments and joy to be found.

I don’t really want to wish time away, but I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2021.

The news of impending food shortages, Christmas pandemonium, gas/electricity issues, rising costs ……. Unfortunately, I remember the three day week, the power cuts and candlelight of the 70’s, but here we are, it will pass and equilibrium will be found-I hope!

Tomorrow will be spent making lists, prepping for the weekend, and a clothes pick up. The next few weeks are busy and with new ventures on the horizon let’s hope that this year can end with much needed positivity, love, laughter and time with friends and family.

Yay! Retired!

Yesterday was my last day at work. A weird situation, with no office, laptop, phone or computer at my disposal, but it was a good day nonetheless.

The last six weeks without students and staff, have given me the time to process retirement and to reflect on my achievements during my sixteen year tenure. I can look back with pride and humility at them, and so many will continue to provide an impact on teaching and learning for years to come.

These next weeks, months and hopefully, years will provide us with so much: the opportunity to do what we want to do, with who we want to share it with, in places far flung and in the UK.

Opportunity to be creative, unrestrained ( oh no! That could be a mistake) to make time for me, us. We will need to allow a transition period but we will take that in our stride.

More time with River and to see him blossom and grow into a confident, much loved, kind, little boy.

It’s time to look forward, take pleasure from every day, make precious memories, explore the world, my mind (often a scary place) and be less stressed about the small stuff (most stuff is small stuff!)

A few photos from the last week with a few of school and some projects that I led.

Enjoy! I know I will

Resilience 2

2021 has been, so far, a year of so many difficult challenges and the last few weeks have provided a few more. I know that this is life, but so many in such a relatively short space of time.

We, as a family, and as individuals have been sorely tested and I have to say, it’s been a struggle.

A struggle to keep it all together, a struggle to remain strong, a struggle to keep smiling, a struggle to be resilient, a struggle to accept change, a struggle to say goodbye.

All the above are emotionally draining, I’m exhausted by strength and dream of not having to be this resilient. I don’t want to keep taking another hit, wondering what’s next.

Notwithstanding the above I have had great support from family and friends, which is how we are getting through so much. Hopefully the next few months will provide an easier path, comfort and I am happy to relinquish being strong for the time being. A new chapter is about to begin so here’s to that!

There is much to be joyful and thankful for too, and I want to end with that positive note. I have gained enormous respect and feel proud of family and friends that have wrapped their love around us. Thank you all.