Tag Archives: #history

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

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Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time, WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough. The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid  – and came out with £12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing.  Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pure Joy

When A went to her induction day at secondary school last July she met another girl, O, who was going to be in her new form. She hit it off with her at the time and although she didn’t get to see her over last year’s summer holidays she was in touch with her by text and the usual social media ways that (pre)teens use to keep in touch these days and they became firm friends when they started school in September. The friendship is brilliant. O is bubbly, fun, kind, lovely. A has made lots of other friends in the last year, she’s been invited to tea after school, parties, days out. One of the best things about her friendship with O is that they are not jealous girls. They have no qualms about each other having other friends. O doesn’t bat an eyelid if A is busy doing something with someone else and vice versa. Almost like the way that boys conduct their friendships, but with prettier hair and nicer clothes and a bit more squealing.

This summer they have seen a lot of each other, but they haven’t been in each others pockets the whole time. A has seen other friends and she has had days when she hasn’t wanted to do anything other than slob around in PJ’s and re-arrange her room for the hundredth time; bake cakes; we’ve been on holiday; we’ve had family time. She has finally seemed to find her place. She has slotted in and she is happy. She refers to other girls as “populars” but has no designs to be one; she is happy with her place in her world.

O has just arrived at our house to spend the day here. I beat A to the door and O announced “I’m here” as A came squealing down the stairs “is it O?!!!” They hugged and squealed a bit more. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the squealing, but they were so happy to see each other (it must be, at most, 36 hours since they were last in each others company) it made me smile and was a proper moment of pure joy.

I’m trying to throw off my old habit of expecting the worst. I’m not going to say “touch wood it will continue”. I’m not going to say any of my usual ‘fear the worst and if it doesn’t happen then that’s good’ mantras. I am going to enjoy seeing her happy with her friends and try and ensure that she can go to things she gets invited to – she has a good few years of making up to do on this front and if it means I have to taxi her all over the place then it’s a small price to pay to see her happy.

I know from my own experience that friendships change: people make new friends, fall out, move groups, move away, and she may well not be friends with O in six months, a year, two years time. But for now she is having a great time with a great friend and I love it.

 

 

 

One third of a lifetime

It’s a funny old thing hitting 45 (as I did a month ago). As I said to K at the time, it’s proper middle age now, on the basis that 90 would be more than long enough, thank you very much. We went to see my brother, P, and his family at the weekend and we were reminiscing about a U2 concert we went to in our twenties. He has recently been to see them on their latest tour and it got us wondering about the year we went. We speculated for a few minutes, trying to work out where we were both working at the time, who we went with, etc, until he resorted to good old Google and discovered it was 1993 – the Zooropa tour. We were only out by a year or so but we were both shocked by how long ago it was. 1993 doesn’t sound that long ago to my ears, but 24 years ago sounds like a lifetime. In fact, it is exactly half of my brothers lifetime, being as he turns 48 tomorrow.

Someone else with a birthday tomorrow is my lovely boy. I like that he was born on my brother’s birthday – they are very alike in many ways and not all good ones – although at the time I was just desperate for him to finally be born after a couple of excruciating days and nights in the hospital. That was 15 years ago. One-third of my lifetime. I have held and loved this boy for 15 years; for a third of my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine or remember time before him. Although, the first few hours/days/months/years were hard going my life has been so much fuller, happier and just downright better with him in it than the years that went before (they were still very happy years, by the way, just to make that clear). Even if I sometimes feel as if I have my teenage brother as my son – sounds weird, believe me it’s even weirder living it – with his unwavering ability to wind me up and irritate me in the EXACT same way that P used to; although he may be smelly and grumpy at times; and even thought he has horrible feet; he makes me very proud.

With the two peas-in-a-pods birthdays imminent, so comes the end of the school year. My “on this day” app yesterday gave me a memory from 4 years ago – at T’s junior school leavers assembly. It seems incredible that this time next year he can leave school. And that A has almost finished her first year at secondary. Sometimes, I would like time to slow down, just a little bit.

 

 

Parents Evening, Parade, Pasta and Panic

It’s been a busy few weeks.

We had A’s first parents evening at her new school the week before last. You know, the really hot week with the hottest day since the year 1802 or something ridiculous (I know it wasn’t 1802 but I’m allowed to be silly, it’s my blog). Yes, well that was the day of parents evening. It’s not the most fun hour of anyone’s lives, I don’t imagine, but it was not only not fun – it was also VERY hot. OK so we’ve established the weather conditions, let’s get on to the actual content. Well, it was all very good indeed. As we have been told many times before by many teachers, A is well behaved, polite, conscientious and produces very neat work. She also appears to have a personality which is a relief. She does like to chat in class from time to time and she doesn’t always listen but other than that words like “superstar” and “pleasure” were bandied around quite a lot. The meeting that made me most proud was with her PE teacher, Miss W, who praised her to the point of nearly making us both cry (me and Miss W, not me and K) for being determined and pushing herself to do stuff that makes her scared. Bravo that girl. And bravo Miss W for making the very valid point that she does not need to compare herself to ANYONE else, only herself. I bloody love that woman and wish she had been MY PE teacher twenty years ago (ha ha!).

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Last weekend (not this one just gone, the one before) was Armed Forces day in our local town. T was taking part with his Police Cadet group, alongside Army Cadets from a local school, Marine cadets and Sea Cadets from the local area. They had a parade to begin with which made my eyes a bit misty. There’s something about a military band and people in uniform that makes me feel very emotional, so to see my son involved was pretty special. The rest of the day comprised of the cadets competing against each other in drills/uniform inspections; a climbing wall challenge; and, my favourite, a tug of war!

T’s group did very well in all events but particularly smashed the tug of war. They have a secret weapon in one of the lads who is built like the proverbial brick s**t house and was, needless to say, a very useful anchor man. The other lads and girl got really stuck in and thrashed the other teams, losing just one round out of nine.

The final part of the day was the announcement of the winners, and we were thrilled that T’s group won the overall competition. With only 7 of them attending it seemed like they were a bit thin on the ground but they didn’t let that stop them and, for the first time in the groups’ history, they came home with the trophy.

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Last week was enrichment week at the children’s school. T was not taking part as he went off to Wales for his geography field trip, but A was able to choose from a number of activities that school had arranged that they could do, supposedly to “enrich” their lives. Being as most of the trips were circa £20 plus a go, I politely suggested to A that she maybe chose one trip (pointing out that she had already been on the London Eye, she had been to the local zoo more times that she can remember, etc) and that she look at the activities going on in school for the other option. They have a year group sports day one day and geography field trip on another so she only had to decide on 2 days activities. She opted for the National Portrait Gallery and the in-school Masterchef day. She enjoyed the gallery trip but was slightly freaked out by the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet she was given in case of a terrorist attack, and slightly disconcerted by the boy in her group that insisted on holding her hand whilst on the underground! He was scared apparently. But the highlight of the week has to have been Masterchef – for her and us! – she made such amazing food. They were given a list of ingredients to take and a recipe sheet when they got to the food tech room, but then were left to their pwn devices to follow it and make their meals. We had dough balls with garlic and herb butter (much better than Pizza Express), followed by ricotta and pancetta ravioli, followed by white chocolate eclairs for dessert. It was all outstanding. (The pasta was so great it spurred me on to use the machine I bought on a whim a few months ago – A and I produced some pretty good tagliatelle together on Saturday evening). She was pipped at the post to the prize for her dessert but she was up against some year 8 and 9 students so she deserves to feel very proud.

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This morning I got to work quite early and got cracking on the weekend’s emails from the miserable buggers who buy our stuff our lovely customers. I was on the phone when a text pinged up from K asking me to call him urgently. As soon as I finished my call I rang him back as this is highly unusual! A had called him in a panic – she couldn’t get through to me (as I was on the phone) and she needed me to drop her PE kit off at school as she had forgotten it. Um. Er. Sorry, I am at work. For some reason, although I have been doing this job for just over 6 years, and I have been going into the office one the same days for the last 12 months, somehow everyone forgets and expects me to be able to drop everything and rescue them from their forgetfulness. I texted her to this effect, but slightly less aggressively, but basically saying tough, you will have to suffer the consequences. Literally, their punishments are called “consequences”, ranging from a C1 for minor misdemeanours (forgetting a book, or a pen, or their name) to a C5 – Saturday morning detention, and the same for homework misdemeanours but prefixed with a H. I sat waiting for the explosion of a text that I was expecting to get back at break time. Luckily, for both of us, the lovely Miss W said that she would “let her off” on this occasion as she had such an unblemished record (she hasn’t received a single C1 since the start of the school year – thank god she has that chatty personality as she could be on the way to being a bit of a swot) but on the understanding that she DID NOT TELL A SOUL. I bloody love Miss W, did I mention that earlier?

We spoke in length in the car on the way home – well, I spoke and she said “I Know!!!” a lot – about how I HAVE A JOB, and I GO TO THE OFFICE on certain days and if we could perhaps just go with a blanket rule of “if you forget your stuff, you take the punishment” we will all be a lot happier. Well, I will as it will mean that I don’t spend hours feeling like a complete and utter tool for refusing to drive a 10+ mile round trip to drop something off.

Remember the proud moments and the pasta. And breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Protest

I’ve never had very strong political leanings, in fact none at all really. My parents didn’t really talk politics when P and I were growing up. My dad used to mutter about “that bloody woman” referring to Margaret Thatcher but I think really only because he didn’t like her manner more than disagreeing with her actual policies. I don’t remember any heated debates about politicians or who to vote for and if I ever asked Dad would joke (but mean it) that that information was between him and the ballot slip and basically it was none of my business.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase and joined an anti-vivisection movement (BUAV) and wore T-shirts, bought cruelty-free make up and toiletries and wrote letters to politicians. I quickly grew out of it when I realised that I could never take it that step further and go vegetarian or go on a march/demonstration – just too fussy an eater and frankly a scaredy-cat. I also got a job and had other things to take up my time – boyfriends, the pub, etc.

As an adult I have always voted. My parents did instil that in me, and my Nan to some degree – the old “women died so you could vote” thing, which of course is totally spot on and I would encourage everyone to use their precious right. In fact, K had never voted until we met and I think I shamed him into it. He is also from a family where politics were rarely discussed and he was probably too busy clubbing to give it much thought. Then he met me and he stopped clubbing and became a bit more sensible, bought a house, started voting, that sort of thing.

Although I have always voted, I have never really had a strong sense of purpose or real need to change things. Obviously, there have been things in the past that I have thought were not the best ideas and I do keep relatively up to date with current affairs. For example, I know who the current Prime Minister is, and I understand the basic differences between the parties. But I didn’t go to uni, where a lot of my contemporaries gained their political leanings, and I have never worked in the public sector or had to claim benefits (for which I am very grateful) and I know I live in a bit of a bubble. I’ve talked before about my aversion for the “real world” and all the horrors it can hold and I am a self-confessed ostrich with my head firmly in the sand when there is stuff I don’t want to know about. And I can be a bit near sighted about issues, really only seeing how things will affect the world within my bubble. Please don’t misunderstand, I have empathy by the bucket load and I feel plenty for people on waiting lists, people with housing issues, people working in the public sector for crap money, people caring for relatives, I can go on. But my voting in the past has been probably quite narrow-minded. And I feel a little embarrassed by that. The truth is, I just don’t know enough.

The impending General Election that will take place tomorrow has me in a quandary. I don’t know if it is because there are so many contentious subjects at play: Brexit, terrorism, the NHS crisis, the education system, etc; whether it is because the children are older and this feels more about doing it for them; or if I am just getting older and more worried about stuff. But I have looked at more info for this election than any ever before. The EU referendum was a no brainer for me as I work for a tiny company trading in Europe and selfishly I would like the business to survive. This election is far less cut and dried for me and I am worried about making the wrong decision. My Twitter feed is full of anger towards Teresa May and pleading with me to vote for the other bloke (I’m kidding I do know his name, Tony something?) but I follow a lot of actors and writers and they are notoriously left-wing so I can’t really make my vote on that basis. I have tried to find unbiased, truthful viewpoints. I know you are probably sniggering at my naivety. Unbiased? Truthful? I do know this is an election, with politicians, right? I have read the leaflets, read the pertinent parts of the manifestos; I have taken quizzes  – no, not on Facebook to find out what the colour of my eyes means about the career I should have –  actual quizzes based on the actual party manifestos, and what have they told me? Nothing. Big fat nothing. It turns out I am undecided – oh really? It seems I actually want someone who is cross-party, someone who will pick out the bits I agree with from each party and say “hey you, vote for me, I will make everything all right.” Sadly, I don’t think there is time.

So, what to do? Not vote? Not an option. Vote for the lesser of the 2 evils? (let’s face it there are only really 2 options). Throw away the vote and go Green? Show some throw-back loyalty to my first every boyfriend who is running for parliament for the Lib-Dems for the first time, bless him. I really don’t know. And there’s no point asking me tomorrow because remember, it’s between me and the ballot paper. I envy those of you with clear minds, either based on your jobs or your past experiences or your upbringings.

What I would like to do is go back to my fifteen year old self and tell her to get an opinion, find out information, ask questions, maybe even go to some events. What I want is to be able to talk about it with my children so that they get some ideas about it all. I can’t be the only parent who struggles to explain it to their children? If I can’t find unbiased, useful info then how can I expect them to? I know we can read the manifesto’s and the leaflets but in reality how much of that stuff will actually happen? How many of the promises will fall by the wayside when they realise that it simply won’t work? How cynical do I sound for someone with no political leanings?

We will know in the next 36 hours or so who is going to be running the country for the next 4 years. And, frankly, I am worried.

 

 

 

A sunny happy birthday

For the last two years it has rained, not just small showers but torrential downpours, on my birthday. Two years ago I had requested that we visit Hampton Court Palace on my birthday as K and I had done 14 years previously. The weather was not on my side and so we had to postpone, until the summer holidays. Last year I didn’t even bother planning anything as I had been so disappointed the previous year. This year, as luck would have it, the weather forecast looked good a week before and continued to look good as the day got closer. I am lucky to have my birthday in the May Half Term holidays and I love it mainly for that reason alone. I don’t have to get up early (we often take the week off of work in May half term) to get the kids off to school, I don’t have to spend the day waiting for them and K to return from work to begin celebrating. I say celebrating, please be aware that I mean this in a very low-key manner. The only year that my birthday was not in Half Term was my 40th (5 years ago) when Her Majesty the Queen decided that she had some sort of special occasion (a Jubilee or something similarly inconsequential) to celebrate and half term was pushed back a week. How very dare she?

Anyway, back to me and this year’s birthday. I wasn’t able to take the week off this year due to staffing issues, so K and I booked my birthday and we’ve wangled a long weekend at the end of the week due to an inset day. As I mentioned, the weather was looking good, but rather than push my luck I asked if we could go out for breakfast somewhere nice and then, weather permitting, all I really wanted to do was go for a bit of a stroll around some nice gardens (National Trust membership comes in useful for this) and maybe a cream tea in a nice tea shop garden afterwards. If the weather decided to turn then at least I had had my lovely breakfast and we could rethink the afternoon. But there was no need to change the plans, as the sun continued to shine all day and I had the loveliest birthday I can remember in a long time.

At the age of twenty (although even then I wasn’t a party animal) I would never have dreamed that a quiet breakfast in a posh hotel with my family and mum and dad followed by a stroll around some gardens would be how I would want to spend my birthday when I was older. But it was and it was perfect.

After a bit of a lie-in (you know me and lie-ins), and having opened some lovely presents and cards, we met G&G for breakfast at Luton Hoo Hotel a few miles away. We had a very relaxed morning in their lounge area where they serve coffees/teas and pastries or in my case French toast with bacon and maple syrup. We took lots of pictures and recreated a photo of T and A on the stairway coming down into the lobby that we had taken a few years before when we went for my birthday for the first time. We had a bit of a wander around the grounds and then said goodbye to G&G.


We went on to Ascott House about 40 minutes away in Wing. We’ve never been before despite it being so close to home, and I am glad we saved it for a special day. It was a lovely house with a real homely feel about it – in fact it turns out that the de Rothschild family do still inhabit the house and many of the rooms are their private rooms that they allow the public to walk through. My favourite room in any NT home is always the library and this one didn’t disappoint. With window seats and squashy sofas for relaxing on, floor to ceiling bookcases and a lovely light wood finish, I could have spent all day in there. It even had a “secret” door which had fake books inlaid into it with made up names that the owner had had a hand in coming up with – some of them were very funny and A and I had a good giggle over them.

The gardens were beautiful and varied and we literally strolled around – even the teen and tween were happy enough, but I think it was probably the prospect of a piece of cake at the end of it that kept them focused. That was the only let down of the whole day. I had been thinking about a scone and jam with a cup of tea all afternoon, but they had run out! Not good enough! I didn’t throw a strop though and forced a blueberry blondie down instead. Tough life.


We came home and I opened some gifts that had come in the post and K opened a bottle of Prosecco. A lovely dinner cooked by K and a slice of birthday cake baked by A (yes, more cake, it was my birthday and I’ll eat cake if I want to).


It was a truly lovely birthday and the sun didn’t stop shining all day. Just for me.