Tag Archives: humour

Review

It’s human nature to reflect back and look forward when one year ends and another starts. Ditching resolutions was one of the the best things I ever did (along with ditching the scales and ditching Facebook) but I still like to take stock and this new year was no exception. 2017 wasn’t too bad on the whole. Unlike 2016, there were no sad losses of loved ones; no broken bones; no upheaval of starting secondary school – nothing to throw off the general equilibrium of life. It was all pretty plain sailing and we made some happy memories and had some lovely times. Of course, there were rows, down times, frustrations and upsets but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. A Good Year.

As we start 2018, I am feeling almost calm and – dare I say? – positive. Last year I took up a photo challenge and this year it is being done again and I am fully on board. It ties in so well with the “no resolutions, no mad diets and no crazy exercise regimes” philosophy and I loved it last year. It’s under the hashtag #SavouringJanuary2018 on Instagram – you get a different word each day, which you interpret as you see fit and post a photo if possible. Not every day if you don’t want to but, by using the hastag, other people can follow your posts and you can see theirs. It makes me think about January in a different way and it’s a great way to start the year. It’s not a brag-fest, not showing off how wonderful your life is, just taking a simple word like “Still” and thinking about a relevance in your day and taking a picture to represent it. Simple but really effective.

That’s not the reason why I am feeling calm and positive. I don’t know why I am feeling this way, I just am. For now. The pessimist in me is muttering that it won’t last. Let’s ignore her, she’s a pain in the arse. I think that taking things easy this Christmas has helped. We normally have family here both days (as we did this year) and then also end up travelling up to the midlands a couple of times in the space of the week. This year we did that early and the rest of the time we have been at home, pottering about, not doing much. Not trying to fill every spare minute DOING SOMETHING. The kids still have another day before they go back to school; I am working from home and K is home early. It’s all still quite chilled (that word again). Mealtimes are still whenever, whatever; no-one needs to be anywhere by a certain time; there are no deadlines. The calm, positive feeling may change when school starts again on Thursday. Watch this space.

Not only am I thinking about my world at home – my real world, the only thing that really matters – but on Thursday I have a Job Review. My boss emailed me before Christmas suggesting it may be a good idea to have one as we haven’t had one for a while (more like never before), just to talk about my role and the good and the bad from both perspectives. I’m not sure how I feel about it. In Creature of Habit I talked about feeling a bit tied to my desk and wanting to make a shift in the way I work. I can’t deny that I find my job a bit tedious at times, that I wish for something to happen to shake things up. But I don’t know how to get this across, or even if I should, at a Job Review. Does a boss ever really want to hear that their employee is feeling a bit stagnant? Especially when it’s in a company of 5 people where there’s not much opportunity to diversify or try something new. I don’t know what to expect or what is expected of me. Of course, I have had plenty of Annual Reviews over the years, and have been on both sides of the table. I’ve helped K fill out his appraisal forms, to ensure he gets the tone right (and sometimes his spellings – he’s terrible at spelling. Mental maths – almost genius, but spelling, uh-ah) and I was never scared to put myself forward for more responsibility. But, this is different somehow. I will let you know how it goes.

Looking into 2018, we have things to look forward to. There are, of course, things to ponder* on: T sitting his GCSE’s; the extension; the Nan situation. There will be obstacles. There will be upsets. There may be be sad times. But if I can keep calm, stay positive, worry about the big things (and only the big things), keep laughing, then it will be OK. Here’s to a New Year.

*notice I said “ponder” and not “worry”. I’ve spent too long worrying about stuff that often didn’t happen or when it did it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Let’s try and have less of that.

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Patient/ce

A has got a bad cough and cold. When she was really little she suffered from coughs A LOT. She wasn’t unwell apart from the cough, but it would keep her (and consequently us) awake all night and leave her feeling really poorly. Luckily, as she got a bit older the frequency went from every few months to a couple of times a year to almost never. My kids are rarely unwell (amazing really, as I was told so often by various ‘helpful’ people that I was harming their immune systems by bottle feeding them) so when they are it is a bit of a strange time.

I’m not a great nurse. I used to dread when they were small and there was talk in the playground of this bug or that doing the rounds. I used to brace myself. I’m not unsympathetic – I can do good hugs and wiping of brows. I can provide hot drinks and hot water bottles and chicken soup. I can do this for a day or two. It was worse when they were really small as I had that logistical nightmare of ‘the school run with a poorly child’ where the non-poorly one didn’t want to go with a neighbour and the poorly one didn’t want to be left in the car for a few seconds while the non-poorly one was whizzed into the playground. And they always seemed to be ill when something was planned. A bit like snowfall, an ill child is always, well, ill-timed. My 40th birthday is a case in point. Unusually, it was during school time – all 39 previous birthdays had always fallen during half term, but someone decided her Diamond Jubilee was more important than my birthday and half term got moved to a week later in the year of my 40th – so both kids were due to be in school. A developed one of her bad coughs the day before, so my planned indulgent day with K went a bit awry. Thanks to kind and helpful G&G we still managed breakfast out and she was well enough for a meal out in the evening, but it’s still one of those occasions that will be marked with a “Poor A was poorly that day” memory. Like when we had snow the day we’d planned to go to Ikea to get a new wardrobe and we had to wait another month to get chance to go again. I don’t hold grudges against poorly children but I really detest the white cold stuff.

I think as both the kids and I have got older I have, maybe, become a bit more patient. Whether the ‘big break’ last year has any bearing on this, I don’t know, but I think it did teach me that you can’t plan for illnesses/accidents and that you have to take each day at a time.

A is a great patient. She’s not very demanding. She’s happy to lay in bed and read and watch YouTube or, as she said yesterday, “just lay in bed and watch CBeebies because when you’re ill you feel little again”. She did have a mini-meltdown yesterday evening thinking she would never feel well ever again and her sides hurt from coughing and she was just so tired from not sleeping. Last night she slept so well that when I had my usual 4am awake time, I lay worrying, convinced that she had taken too many paracetamol.

What I worry about a lot when the kids are poorly is that K will catch it. I don’t really mind if I get it, I’m a bit of a soldier really and like to pride myself on not wallowing in it. But unlike the kids, he is NOT a good patient. He will be well enough to go to work – of course! – but the minute he gets home he will take himself off to bed and wallow. Am I being harsh? Probably a bit, but he does epitomise the cliche of the man with ‘man-flu’. He was brought up to take Lemsips and Hot Toddies when he was ill and it’s a hard habit to break. I am of the school of thought that you should take a couple of paracetamol and stays at home in the warm and ride it out. And don’t get me started on people that say they have flu when they have a head cold. If you’re not laying in bed sweating and shivering with achy limbs and a high fever that lasts for days/a week then you have a head cold.  A head cold is not flu. Consequently, K is ‘encouraged’ to get his annual flu jab as early as possible. At least that’s one thing ruled out.

A is feeling a bit better today. I can tell this because she is starting to be irritating and her eyes are starting to get their sparkle back. My dad always used to say to my brother and I that he could tell we were feeling better after a bout of being poorly when we started arguing or winding each other up. Arguing over the remote control? “Oh, I can see you’re feeling better.” My kids are no different. And this is when my patience will start to waver.

She’s just asked when am I getting her lunch, and do I have any cake in the cupboard? I reckon she could be headed back to school tomorrow……

thermometer

 

 

Family history

What a Friday I’ve had! Fridays are generally always brilliant but this one was super special. I have spent the day with my lovely cousin S. She’s really my second cousin – our dads are cousins; her grandma and my grandad were siblings. She lives down in Surrey and before this summer I’d only seen her a handful of times in the last two decades – at her wedding, at funerals and a couple of family gatherings. It’s one of those situations where because we’ve only ever met up via Family Events we’ve never thought of meeting up alone. This summer she got on a train and came up to St Albans and we spent the day together. Her dad is ten years older than my dad but he spent most of his childhood, up to his teens, living in St Albans so they share a history of more than just being cousins and consequently the city means something to both of us.

The visit in the summer was more about us catching up and getting to know each other a bit better – we are related and we send each other Christmas cards and think the world of each other but we needed to spend some time reconnecting. And it was lovely and I felt like we’d seen each other only a week before. She’s funny and kind and caring and lovely. We’ve got lots in common and we laughed a lot – a family trait – her grandad was always laughing and made everyone around him laugh too. He used to tease my dad, even when my dad was well into middle age, that the milkman was his real father!

Today she came up again (I’d offered to head down her way but she insisted that St Albans is far nicer than anywhere near her, so could she please come up again?) and we’ve had a magical family history mystery tour.

We’d both grilled our dads for the lowdown on places of significance and I came up with a plan. I picked her up from the station just before 11am and we headed off. Our first stop (well, drive-by as there was nowhere to stop) was the building that used to be the school where her grandma went as a young girl, in Catherine Street, now the Jubilee Centre. My grandma used to go there in later years for company – a sort of day centre for elderly people. Then we drove on to the school that her dad and my aunt attended, now Garden Fields school but formerly Townsend.

Next stop, and we did stop, was the house in Marshalswick that her Dad lived in as a boy before the family moved to Surrey when he was a teenager. My dad just about remembers them living there but he was only 5 when they moved away so it’s only a very vague memory.

From there we drove to my dads childhood home in Marshall Avenue where he was born. S’s Dad and grandparents lived there with my grandparents and Auntie for a while during WW2 and my dad was born during this time. Her dad remembers the midwife coming to help deliver my dad and thinking that he must be in the big black bag that the midwife had with her! She chucked the bag down on the floor and he was worried that the baby would be hurt. My dad was a tiddler, weighing just over two pounds, which in those days (with no incubators or special care baby units) would have been a big cause for concern, could easily have fit in the bag so he could be forgiven for his mistake!

We got parked up at the Verulamium museum car park and headed off for a coffee at the Inn on the Park. The place was packed with mums and toddlers so not a great choice for a chat but the coffee was hot and we didn’t plan to be there long – we had more places to visit!

Now on foot we headed round St Michael’s to Portland Street where our grandparents lived as children. I’ve never been up there (as far as I know) and S definitely hadn’t so we were quite excited to see the house- until we realised we weren’t quite sure which number it was! A quick call to my mum confirmed we were outside the right house. The houses can’t have changed much since the early 1900’s and our house (as I now think of it!) still had an old boot scraper outside and we gave the handrail a little stroke in the hope it was the original (you never know). We were both amazed at how such a big family had managed to all fit in such a small – two up two down – house. And we complain about not having enough room. Lightweights.

By this time the pub was calling us so we stopped for lunch. As the Verulam Arms (where S’s grandad liked to drink) is now a Forager food pub we opted for a more traditional lunch in The Six Bells, as recommended by my parents. And very nice it was too.

Properly refuelled and after much more chat and laughter we set off again on foot to the Gorhambury Estate where S’s grandad worked as an apprentice gardener when he first come up to St Albans in his late teens. It was during this time that he met my great aunt, S’s grandma, and the rest, as they say, is history.

S and I both feel so strongly that our family history mustn’t be forgotten. Her dad didn’t have siblings and she is an only child. I am lucky to have my brother and our cousin P, and we need to all make sure we keep the family bond going strong. We’ve got shared history passed down from our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles and we’ll make our own history going forward. A truly special day, with many more to come.

Our grandparents’ home in Portland Street.

Christmas, poppies and fireworks – in that order

I’ve had a busy day today but because it’s Friday it’s been a good busy.

I’ve been out to the shops with Mrs F and I’ve added to my stash of Christmas presents for the children’s stockings (and one for K’s). I LOVE buying stocking presents almost more than the other presents. Stocking presents are small and fun and lovely to buy – harder for T, dead easy for A and not too bad for K. I like squirrelling them away (after I’ve written them in my Xmas book – anyone who knows me should not be in any way surprised at this) and imagining peoples faces when they open them. A good mornings work.

This evening I’ve accompanied Mrs Lovely to the kids old school in our village to man the Poppy stall at the annual firework night. Mrs Lovely did it singlehanded last year as no one was able to assist but this year I had the pleasure of joining her. And it was a pleasure. Seeing young children, older children, parents and grandparents donating for poppies, wristbands and other merchandise was brilliant. And as an added bonus I got to spend the two hours with Mrs Lovely. She’s great company and we always laugh a lot. We even had chance to see the firework display. I love fireworks but really only at organised displays – they scare me when done in back gardens! The display was brilliant! For a small village school it’s always a great show and this year was the best yet.

I’m knackered now, sitting with a G&T. A happy day.

“That’s very nearly an armful”

I gave blood last week. I try and go as often as I can and it makes me feel good about myself for a few minutes. I don’t mind the process – I’m not bothered by needles and I’m a “quick bleeder”* so it doesn’t take long and then I’m off back to my day to day life. I don’t really give it much more thought other than the fleeting feeling of doing a good deed. But I received a text yesterday telling me thanks and that my donation had been sent to the Queen Hospital in Romford. I had a similar text last time I donated and I sceptically thought it would be just randomly sent, that they couldn’t possibly track my donation and then tell me about it. It seems I was wrong and I should not be such a doubter. What a great feeling.

* I also have very shy veins so although it can take ages for them to get me started, I don’t take long once it’s underway. Not sure how helpful being a “quick bleeder” or having “shy veins” would be in the event of an injury to myself but let’s focus on the positives.

Title courtesy of the brilliant Tony Hancock in The Blood Donor. If you’ve never seen this classic sketch you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEUvyaNu0uw

Standard Issue

I like a good laugh, it makes me feel better about the world in general, albeit the small bubble that is my world. I discovered this online magazine a while ago, started by comedian Sarah Millican, and it’s since become a podzine – which is even better for me as I can listen to it while I’m working, instead of listening to music all the time. I don’t listen to every episode but I particularly like the podcasts that are recorded live once every month or so. They are brilliant – just women chatting about life and they’re all from different backgrounds and have different jobs – not just comedians but actors, sportswomen, presenters. They talk about the widest range of topics – a bit like book club! – and have a real laugh (again, like book club!). There are some regular questions “best and worst things about your job”, “advice you would give your younger self” and others, but because the guests are always different, the answers are always different and it’s just like listening to friends chatting, but REALLY funny. There’s a lot of swearing and some words I would NEVER utter but it doesn’t detract from how great it is. I’ve listened to one today with Sarah Millican (she’s always on them), Emma Samms from Dynasty fame and Rae Earl a writer (My Mad Fat Diary) and it made me properly laugh out loud. On my own.

I’ve also nearly finished my jigsaw and I have a new book to read. Oh, and it’s The Great British Bake Off Final tonight! Happy days.

 

A walk, a lunch, family and a jigsaw

Today is Friday. You know how I LOVE a Friday, and this was a really good one. T, A and I went for a lovely walk over at Ashridge with G&G. We laughed – a lot – and generally had a lovely time. We followed it up with a pub lunch and then a cuppa and a choccy biscuit* at our house. My kids get along so well with my Mum and Dad and we all love spending time with them. When G&G went home I cracked on with my new Where’s Wally jigsaw. Yes, I know I’m 45 not 5 but I love a jigsaw and you can judge me all you like.

*I bought two packs of M&S chocolate biscuits on Monday with the intention of putting them away for Christmas. They were on offer at £3 each so I was pleased with my bargain. We finished one box yesterday and opened the second box today to offer one to G&G. Oh dear. Please note they are only single layer boxes. We’re not THAT greedy.