Only in England

Finally after weeks of uncharacteristic rain worthy of an Indian monsoon we finally get to see a little sun here, two whole days in a row and hopefully counting. Whilst temperatures in England may be far from the norm for this time of year it is nonetheless pleasantly warm and skies of a glorious blue. For many it is a relief to put away the umbrella, shrug off the coats and woolly sweaters and bask in the rays of a long forgotten sun. 

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But this is after all England and we would not be so very English were it not for our quirks and oddities that in any other country would raise an eyebrow or be distinctly frowned upon. 7am on a Sunday morning and child next door is outside in a paddling pool screeching and bellowing at the top of his voice waking those who, having worked hard all week, are enjoying a Sunday morning lie in. Not for much longer it seems. Yes the sun is out but it is far from pool weather especially at such a time of day but as is so typical of us the first sign of sun prompts us to behave as though we had suddenly become a country much more tropical than we are.                    

                                                      

Everywhere girls parade in outfits so tiny as to be almost non-existent, clothing more worthy of some Caribbean beach than a less temperate day in the far milder west. To their favour my last boyfriend adored these much younger scantily clad girls and had perfected the art of double take and 270 degree turns of the head in a most impressive way. Chance it to say that being so very typically English has its merits for some after all. 

Next comes the supermarket, now this has only brought me here in search of a pint of milk for my coffee but is already packed with shoppers fighting frantically over the last package of bread rolls for the requisite barbecue on an English day with some semblance of sun. Overweight men, shirtless and sweating parade the aisles shuffling along in the flip flops they are so unused to wearing but which are rapidly dusted off as the day looks set to be fine. This is not a sight i wish to see and should i go to any other country i expect i would not but here it is just another average sight. Oblivious and totally uncaring as to how they appear to others, red faced and already grumbling about the heat yet it is not yet the hottest part of the day.

So funny a race we British, we complain constantly about the rain or the snow and welcome the sun with all the abandon of welcoming a lover after a long absence yet so very rapidly we revert to type and grumble instead over the heat and the lack of breeze. After many weeks of rain and constant wishing for sun from the masses, ironically, should the weather hold, in a few days time the wishes will be the total reverse. You cannot help but laugh and wonder if it is just in the nature of we English to need something to grumble about and surmise that as a result we should never be happy no matter which situation should present itself. 

As i go about my daily business today i cannot deny i shall be tipping my face up to the sun and enjoying the warmth of it while it is here but as much as i enjoy a barbecue i shall not be battling the queues for a fight over supplies. Should it rain tomorrow i shall not mind that at all so perhaps i am not so typically English as all that. I wonder are we the only ones to have such typical behaviour or if it is a norm that occurs everywhere wherever we go. 

I wonder

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In a different place and time

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 We all interact, meeting others on a daily basis that we barely register, lives intertwining however briefly and yet in essence even these small encounters have an effect upon the paths our lives will take. What if we hadn’t met a certain person at a certain time, would our lives have been so very different?? Would we even be here at all? Imagine if we hadnt stopped to let someone cross the road, or we hadnt been at a particular place at the very moment we were? What would our lives be like now?

An old boyfriend of mine used to say to me, after we broke up,that he wished we had met ten years earlier than we did and then things would have worked out, he seemed so certain of this at the time. I must admit i did ponder this rather a lot and debated the truth of his words. What if i HAD met him ten years earlier, long before he got himself into his unhappy situation?I did try hard to picture this and although i could clearly picture myself as i had been then i had great difficulty picturing him, i did not know the person he was back then so i had nothing to work with. Yet for sure there would have been no obstacles such as there were when i actually did meet him but would we have worked out?? I confess as much as i would have liked to answer this question in the affirmative i found that i could not for my logic prompted me that we were not the people back then that we were when we actually did meet. 

For myself i am a big believer in fate and i truly think that the people we meet are for a purpose and that they have some part to play in our destiny however brief it may be. I have thought in the past that the reason i met a certain person was simply because i was meant to, at that exact point in time because this is the point in which they were needed in my life. Perhaps the reasons were not always obvious as to why but i only know that it was so. Of course it would be wrong to assume that all these points of destiny are positive ones, indeed they are not but those also have a part in shaping us into who we are however briefly and whilst we may be quicker to discard those than the more positive it is nonetheless all part of the destiny we are intended for. 

Just occasionally you meet someone that you know in all logic you should never have met within the course of your life but some spark of fate brings them into your path in one great miraculous twist. These are the ones you know destiny had in store for your life all along and was just waiting for that exactly perfect time to introduce them to you and these are the ones that are the most special of all. No there is little you can do about destiny, i firmly believe that what will be will be and there is little we can do about the path that is meant for us. But all the better a path to walk when fate decides to send along a fellow traveller to make the journey just that little bit more worth it. 

If you want something doing…..

As the mother of two mid and late teens you would think life would be pretty easy right? All those extra hands to share the chores, a cup of coffee made for me when i am studying or extra busy?

WRONG!!!

These two delightful offspring of mine barely know one end of a duster from the other and never would it occur to them to lend a hand. My son, the elder of the two, will do something for me if i ask but at 19 and Autistic the degree of effort depends on how quick a chore it is and how boring he considers it to be. Dear son has sarcastic grumbling under his breath down to such a fine art that we nicknamed him Victor Meldrew!!

Dear daughter number 2, the youngest at 16, is very reluctant to do anything unless the question of remuneration should arise. If i come home and she has voluntarily done chores i am instantly on my guard since i can pretty much guarantee that some request for funds will follow in the near future. Welcome to Bank of Panda..please insert your card!!

I have pondered the fact that is my own fault for being so exacting, for i tend to be rather fussy and if something isnt done perfectly i tend to go and do it myself, i hate mess it drives me crazy. It is a long running joke in our family that when someone claims something is clean the retort is always

”Would that be your kind of clean, or my kind of clean??” 

So today as a strange yellow thing was shining in the sky i asked Dear Son to cut the front grass for me since we were in danger of being listed as a local nature reserve and the resulting sigh from upstairs should have easily shaken the rafters. My excellent hearing picked up the muttered grumble which preceded a delayed emergence from its source. To his credit Dear Son did actually cut the grass although the result looked rather like it had been chewed by a herd of Wildebeest. As he plodded back into the house a trail of grass followed prompting me to go outside and look. Grass everywhere!! From my front door to the bottom of my driveway looked like a grass bomb had exploded, a far cry from the immaculate frontages of the neighbouring houses. 

To say Dear Son was most unimpressed when i asked him to go outside and sweep it up was an understatement and watching his half hearted effort prompted me to open the door and say

”SWEEP it dont tickle it”

”I AM sweeping it!!”

Hmmmmm. Yes again fussy me took over and i took the brush, rapidly sweeping the pathway to the door informing very impatient son that THIS is how you sweep. Back in the house i noticed yet again half hearted sweeping and called for Dear Daughter 2 to assist her brother. Well have you ever seen a fairy sweep a garden?? Picture one and you have the right idea. Tiptoeing carefully around the grass with brush held delicately between fingertips she flitted around managing little better than Victor Meldrew who was at this point rolling his eyes and tutting. 

Cue Panda impatience and brush was whipped from Fairy fingers and rapid sweeping of the drive was undertaken with the announcement to said children that there was this strange thing called EFFORT required. 5 minutes later MY eyes were rolling as i sighed and swept it up myself before retreating into the house for coffee leaving grumpy and fairy to bin the pile of rubbish i’d made. Surely they could manage THAT!!

I have rapidly come to the conclusion that for the most part if you want something doing in my house it is far better to do it yourself unless you are prepared to live with less than perfect results. I dread to think how these little darlings will live when they leave home and i have already informed them that i will most definitely not be coming to their houses for tea until i reach the point where i am considering euthanasia and need a quick exit from this world. 

Ahhh well i made my bed i guess i have to lie in it, perhaps i should have been far stricter when they were small and set a regimen of chores such i had myself when i was young. Logic tells me that even had i done so this would all have gone out of the window when my little angels mutated into carnage evoking teen demons so perhaps i can console myself with this. So as fairy skips off down the street and Victor retreats to the safety of his room and the computer games within, i make my own coffee and comfort myself with the smug knowledge that one day they will be parents to teens of their own and mommy will sit and have a little chuckle. Revenge will be very sweet!! 

One day i’ll fly away

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I’ve never been a lover of routine. We all do it, that 9-5 plus family plus spouse responsibilities that leave us needing some semblance of order to our lives in order to know where we are in life and to function. To some degree i am like everyone else, i live the daily grind and do as i am meant to, therefore ensuring life sails on slowly by with nary a hitch. A lot of people love this routine and thrive on it, feeling a safety and security in knowing exactly how everything is going to go.

BUT I HATE IT!! 

I very rarely make appointments for anything, much preferring to do things off the cuff and maintaining the spontaneity  that is within my nature. I do not like to be tied to specific things at specific times and when forced to on a regular basis i will inevitably begin to feel suffocated. My friends laugh at me because it is a long standing joke that if i cannot walk into a salon and get my hair cut then and there i will not have it done as i refuse to make appointments. Predictability is not something that sits well with me and more than once friends have rolled their eyes as i have yearned for something exciting to happen. 

Like today.

Today i am in a rebellious mood. I am NOT going to clean my house ( i’m a tidy freak so there is little to clean anyway)  I am going to make today my off day at the gym and i am not going to do one single thing i am supposed to. I guess i have always been a bit of a free spirit, i always feel there is a touch of a hippy child in me and when routine forces me to stay indoors for any length of time i really do begin to have the feeling of being caged. This happened again today. Last night i woke in the middle of the night after an infrequent nightmare, panicking as dream me had been trapped somewhere i could not get out of. I hate this feeling, it is one that prompts me often to don my trainers and head for the nearest open space by myself. 

Just some space to breathe.

Oh do not for one minute assume i am an unhappy person, i am far from being that. I have fantastic children, amazing friends and a lovely home. Whilst i may grumble about my weight or my crazy hair i still like the person that i am and i have much to smile for. 

But yes i cannot help that untamed wild nature in me that longs for adventure, some unexpected event that frees me from this wheel that i run on day after day. I chuckle as i picture my eldest daughters face when i announced that i wanted to pack a backpack, shove some money in my pocket and hop on a train and see where i ended up.A little adventure all of my own. I had every intention of coming home and my children are old enough to fend for themselves for a while but my daughter looked aghast at me and exclaimed ”You cant do that!!” 

Why cant i??

After a lifetime of doing what i am supposed to is it really that wrong to want to actually do some things i’m not supposed to do?? Perhaps it is just kicking out at being taken for granted, some prodding reminder of all the things i do without thinking that are expected and unnoticed..at least until i stop doing them. Perhaps it is a lifetime of expectation and conformity all reaching up to settle on my shoulders keeping me firmly in my rut so that i do not try and defer from my lot and my dislike of this oppressing feeling.

But i dont want that, i want to see new places and do new things. I want adventure and surprises, something different from the norm that i have been always so used to. For today i shall be content with just rebellion, closing my front door behind me as i head for the train and something different just for once. But one day i will pack that bag and i will go in search of that adventure i so crave. I shall run along a beach at sunset, see the sunrise come up over somewhere new. Learn to swim, conquer my fear of heights and go climbing, throw snowballs in the snow and dance under the rays of the sun. One day i shall do all of this. 

One day i’ll fly away.

Its not easy being a girl……….

Early morning and as a very sexy american voice chirps merrily from my phone to wake me up i force open one eye, unweld my face from the pillow and try and untangle some silky effort of a nightgown from where it has invariably settled around my waist in the night. Stupid thing this is why i prefer pyjamas! 

 Good morning amanda, the time is 8am and the weather is cloudy with wind from a south easterly direction. The weather today will be blah blah yada yada……..

Yes okay okay i’m awake you can go away now!! Now contrary to the movies that brainwash men into thinking we all look stunning when we wake this is actually far from reality. Myself i tend to look more like a disgruntled hedgehog, i do not need my morning shriek  in the mirror to know my hair sticks up wildly in all directions from my head and my face has so many sleep creases it looks badly in need of ironing. No i do not tumble sexily from bed purring good morning darling whilst swishing my perfect hair around my perfectly made up face flashing perfect just brushed teeth as i perch on my smoothly unruffled bed. No my bed resembles a war zone in a morning with it and i looking like we were deposited there by some passing tornado.

Resisting the temptation to crawl along the floor i head for the kitchen and coffee. Most days i think i should just bypass the kettle and sit and eat it with a spoon thereby gaining instant caffeine rush and some semblance of normality. Kettle on the boil its time for the morning weigh in which usually does not lighten my mood any but today was a bit of a yeay moment as the scales dropped a pound and i hugged them happily cooing ”i love you’ at them before merrily hopping over to make coffee. Big mistake leaving the mirror in the kitchen and i wailed in horror as i passed it. 

Ooooh panda by name and how accurate! Girl where did THOSE bags come from?!  One down side of having young looking skin is the occasional habit of breaking out into a blemish even in my 40s and today sitting waving at me is a small one below my eyebrow. Great! I prodded gloomily at it before turning the mirror around and reaching for solace in the bottom of my coffee cup. Just what i need….a zit!! Pondering how to cover up the mini Mount Vesuvius that has taken residence upon my face i dive into the regulation skin care cleanse tone moisturise blah ( yes you guys have it so easy)  before glaring balefully at my eyebrows and deciding they were in need of tidying up. Again guys you are so lucky, i hate doing this for it hurts and it makes me sneeze for some odd reason. But still the thought of giant caterpillar like brows is enough to send me hurtling for the tweezers. I have never considered myself to be overly vain but i do confess i do not like to look terrible and will avoid doing so as much as i possibly can. I freely admit i will not set foot out of my front door unless i think i look okay and if this be vanity then perhaps i am guilty of it after all.

                    

So half an hour later, bags reduced to sleep smudges and caterpillars well and truly banished and small amount of makeup to made me look a little more alive and i’m glugging down coffee number three as stomach merrily sloshes and gurgles when i walk. What can i say i drink too much coffee, i know this and yet i still do it. One thing at a time i say and as i hop up and down dressing in gym clothes i confess energy is in a little short supply today but my desire not to look like Nellie the Elephant hauls my butt out of the door. Sometimes i think it must be so much easier to be a guy, almost all of my acquaintance make little effort and do not care if they look less than perfect. Maybe in my next life i shall ask to be a man and see for myself but until then time to keep up the effort. 

ACHOO!!

She cannae take much more gym!!

Okay excuse the terrible pun, what can i say i’m a trekkie of the worst kind. So today a very kind friend sent a donation of a cross trainer in my direction, probably an affectionate kick up my ample derriere to help with my never ending weight loss see saw. You’d never believe that only two years ago i used to nigh on live in the gym, getting screamed at by a sadistic personal trainer friend was very much part of the routine 7 days a week. Actually having a personal trainer who is a friend is probably the worst thing because they tend to take great delight in being mean and pushing you even harder than a normal trainer would. 

I admit i loved the weight training and trained with a couple of body building guys, loved the treadmill although despite my trainers best efforts he never could turn me into a runner. I seem to have some short circuit between legs and lungs which leaves it impossible for both to work at the same time. Trust me you could put a 90% sale on at monsoon and i still wouldn’t manage a run!! 

But as is always the case in any gym i had my nemesis, the cross trainer!!

My trainer knew this and would paste on evil grin, clap me on the back and say ”Right then Amanda time for the cross trainer i think, twenty minutes to start”

To start?! Oh yes he meant it too, setting the timer for twenty minutes and barking out a speed. Even trying to distract myself with the huge screen tv did little to help and as my legs turned to jelly my lungs waved a white flag and grabbed frantically at my inner ribcage trying to reach daylight and more air. Just when i thought my lungs would explode the ritual slap on the back would come and crazy non stop yells to kick up the speed and hold it for a minute. WHAT??? are you trying to kill me?? Hello..barely breathing here!! Oh there was no getting out of it because you werent getting off that machine until you’d done your twenty minutes and kicked your heartrate up to a level that satisfied the demon trainer. 

Actually i confess i expected to see the heart rate monitor dialling 999 and paramedics coming to my rescue for i really did think i was going out of there in a box and ohhhh seriously its hard to remind yourself that this grinning torturer is your friend and i dreaded every minute of that torture chamber.

So it really seemed the perfect thing to do when a friend offered me a cross trainer. Of course i said yes…. in the three seconds before my brain connected to my mouth! So some time later determination set in, i switched on the latest episode of The Biggest Loser and hopped on thinking thin thoughts. 15 minutes later my thighs are singing their way through a song and dance routine chirping burn baby burn and the rest of me is hallucinating it’s in the Sahara desert, gasping out croaks of water…i need water!!

Well i guess this all just goes to prove im really not that fit any more despite how much i walk and perhaps its just as well i accepted this after all. But i’m determined to do it even if i do have to stop every 10 minutes, i’ll just get right back on again. But if sometime this week you dont hear from me it’ll be because i’m mid crawl halfway up the stairs since my legs gave out and the desert came and swallowed me up. Roll on when i’m 70 and it wont matter any more, i can just eat chocolate to my hearts content and be as unfit as i like. In the meantime i just need to get my butt moving to make sure i actually make 70 but just incase i’m putting emergency services on speed dial….

When its all just down to Mr Benn

I remember back when i was small ( yes trust me i can remember back that far) and one thing i always remember is a childrens tv show called Mr Benn. Short little cartoons where an ordinary unassuming little man in his ordinary little bowler hat would take a trip to a fancy dress shop and try on a different outfit every time and disappear on a wonderful adventure to be an astronaut, a wizard or even a roman gladiator. Back then i imagined it to be so very wonderful to magically be someone else just by putting on another hat and yes i wanted to go to that little fancy dress shop and be a princess or a ballerina or perhaps something even more wonderful than that. I wanted to be Mr Benn…..

All grown up now and i had to smile when recently i stumbled across a reference to the adventurous Mr Benn but then as i sat and looked at the pictures a thought occurred to me that never would have as a child. Mr Benn went into that shop so often and came out as someone, but never once did he go through that magical door choosing to be just himself. In my own way i am my very own Mr Benn, the very person my childhood self  had always wanted to be but somehow it doesnt seem as magical as i thought it would. A lifetime spent wearing different hats, mother, daughter, sister, wife and in all of them im somebody else and limited by the dictates that the outfit provides. Somehow as time went by i realised i was so busy being what everyone else expected me to be i forgot about the most important character of all…ME. 

How often in our lives do we strive to impress others, those who actually really do not matter at all since they are not an essential part of our lives but merely passing through. Yet we change ourselves to impress when in reality what we should say is ..this is me accept me. Strange how we feel the need to be perceived in such a positive light by people who do not know us, mostly never will and who at the end of the day will not give us another passing thought as they go about their own busy lives. Why should they? We are nothing to them beyond those brief points in which we interact, once over resuming to as it was before.  Ultimately when doors are closed and we are all alone the only thing we see looking back at us is our own face in the mirror, but are we really looking at ourselves or have we tried so hard to be what we think will impress that we have lost all sense of what makes us who we are. Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

I used to be that way, so desperate to please and to be liked. Strange that i wanted to be liked for someone who did not exist rather than the one who was there all along. Now….this is me, accept me for i shall not change. And if you like me i shall know you like me just for myself and nothing more than that.

Mr Benn? No i don’t want to be Mr Benn. Do you?

I am Panda, and Panda is me. 

Just Singing in the Rain

I’ve always had a saying, one i invented myself but pretty much sums up the way i see the world…

‘LIFE HAS A FUNNY WAY OF WORKING OUT EXACTLY HOW ITS MEANT TO NO MATTER WHAT WE TRY AND DO ABOUT IT’

Do i believe it? Yes of course i do. Call me optimistic, unrealistic, whatever you choose for i shall not mind at all. Yes i have been told i have a Pollyanna attitude to life but i have always had a steadfast refusal to be anything less than positive and so far this has served me pretty well. 

I remember a year ago, one very grey stormy day when the rain fell in sheets and raindrops bounced upon the pavement looking for all the world like they were trying to get back where they came from. I waited and waited hoping that it would ease and i could make a mad dash on an unavoidable errand but it didn’t stop. It rained and rained and rained. It pretty much summed it all up when i peered out of my window and saw a small duck sheltering under the tree at the bottom of my garden.

Regardless of this i had no choice but to leave the warm dry comfort of my home and battle the weather but then i stopped and thought that hey, i had no choice so i could either smile and make the best of it or be miserable and make the whole thing ten times worse. 

Half an hour later with most colourful umbrella twirling around over my head i was skipping through the puddles humming ‘Singing in the Rain’  watching all the unsmiling faces huddled into coats, head down against the rain and i had to smile and shake my head for i actually wasn’t minding it so much at that point. Yes my socks were wet and yes a stray raindrop was trickling down my nose but it made me laugh and i shook my wet head crazily much in the manner of a very soggy puppy. 

Humming my way through the puddles i was slightly startled out of my skip and sing routine, which amazingly for me was rather in tune, by a hand on my arm and i splashed to a stop . An elderly gentleman clutched my sleeve,rain running down his cap and disappearing into his collar, and smiled at me. ”Do you know” he said to me ”yours is the only smiling face i have seen today and you’ve made my day”. Of course i beamed at him and explained my philosophy and he chuckled and thanked me.

As he shuffled off i stood and listened for as he walked i could faintly hear him humming…Singing in the Rain.

I often remember that elderly gentleman and i feel glad that i made him smile for had i given in to instinct i could so easily have been yet another gloomy face in an already gloomy sky. 

I may be a Pollyanna, but strangely i do not find this an insult but instead much of a compliment. And whenever lifes skies are grey i shall twirl my colourful umbrella, hum my little tune and smile at those that pass me by. For i have found that often that little ray of sunshine is just enough to lighten someones rainstorm and who knows you may just, if you’re lucky, make someones day. 

                                                 I’m singing in the rain
                                                Just singing in the rain
                                                 What a glorious feelin’
                                                     I’m happy again
                                               I’m laughing at clouds
                                                So dark up above
                                              The sun’s in my heart
                                              And I’m ready for love
                                         Let the stormy clouds chase
                                            Everyone from the place
                                             Come on with the rain
                                            I’ve a smile on my face
                                              I walk down the lane
                                              With a happy refrain
                                                   Just singin’,
                                              Singin’ in the rain

 

Lyrics courtesy of Arthur Freed

Castles in the sand….a story of the homeless

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“Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!”

(Quote by Edna St Vincent Millay)  

I used to love the sand, back when i was small. I loved nothing better than curling my toes into the sun baked warmth of it, feeling it clinging to my feet as i stood on the shore watching the waves roll in. Watching from afar you would have seen a family, mother setting out a picnic whilst children buried their father in the sand, happily squealing as dad wriggled free and chased them along the beach. 

That is what you would have seen, but appearances as we all well know can be very deceptive.

The truth of the matter was my childhood was about as far from happy as you could possibly get despite the chocolate box performances acted out in public by my parents. We, buoyed with relief, were happy for a short time to be free of the miseries and play along with the scenario and enjoy being carefree for a while.

But all performances eventually come to an end and behind the scenes the highs of the show are obliterated by the normal everyday humdrum that runs inbetween, a crashing low that comes far more frequently than those few happy moments. 

Rolling time forward and once again upon a beach i stand. This time there is no curling of toes nor shrieking of children’s laughter. No parents with picnics or to chase me along the sand as i scream with abandon. This time i am alone. And yet a familiar sense of relief, my long lost friend, flitting in and out of my 16 year old life far less frequently than i would have desired. 

As once so many years before i stand and watch the waves rushing towards the shore, creeping ever closer to my rather improperly shod feet and sigh, for this is now home.

How many of us have excitedly declared we should love to be free and sleep upon a beach and live a life so without care? And for a night that illusion was so for me but a beach in April is no place to call home and so very cold as most of you cannot imagine. No dream filled sleep lulled by the sound of the waves, instead a bone aching inclemency that dominates your waking thoughts. Thoughts only relieved by the intermittent awareness of a gnawing hunger that you know you have no hope of easing until morning.

Sand once so soft beneath your feet makes for a most uncomfortable pillow, the radiant warmth long since faded with the setting of the sun.

Morning whilst welcome for its warmth brings little relief, hurrying furtively into beach front conveniences for the best efforts of cleanliness that i could manage, for I always had such a distaste for being unkempt as to drive me in search of a bath. Ultimate shame in having to beg from those happy tourists aghast to find their idyll disturbed by such a sight. For sunshine strolls upon the sand are not a scenario often coupled with that of a child pleading for change. But to this, as with all other things, i became accustomed and if my sense of shame faded a little as the need to survive superseded all else my awareness of my situation did not.

Days filled with endless walking, nose pressed longingly against the window panes of shops selling all manner of colourful confectionary. The waft of seaside sustenance floating merrily on the breeze, so enticing for those with the means to indulge yet so frequently i was not. The sun sparkled appeal of coastal scenery quickly fades when seen so constantly and from a less than idealistic point of view, making days stretch out endlessly. Nothing changes. Day after day remains the same like some nightmarish groundhog day not so amusing when you are the one on such an endless wheel. 

Yes my castle in the sand was not so much a castle after all but for some weeks i was to call it home and be thankful for it. Until one day a hand reached out and opened the door and i stood upon a beach and waved my refuge goodbye. Even now encountering a beach at sunset small memories will creep in and remind me that it is not always such a paradise as it may seem.

                                                               Such a lifetime away yet i cannot stand,

                                                                   The feeling of my feet in sand.

Rowing a small boat in a big ocean

Crisis, breakdown, issues, problems….

Call them what you will but we all have them at some point in our lives often when we least expect them. We may be merrily ambling along the path of life when suddenly we are knocked off our feet and left down in the dirt trying to find a foothold to get ourselves back upright again. For some of us this may be easy but for others even such a short ascent  may seem like facing the tallest mountain when they know they are no mountaineer.

Ultimately there is just no tried and tested way to deal with all these things, we are all so very different and what may be an effective coping mechanism for one may leave another floundering.Good advice whilst kindly meant may often result in an adverse effect to the one intended, for none of us can say how another may react to any given situation.But does this mean we should not offer for fear of doing the wrong thing? Encountering a rebuff whilst hard to accept is inevitably better than failing to act at all then regretting the fact you did not.

Call me whimsical if you will but i rather like to picture life itself as a small boat on an ocean.

We start our voyage of existence sailing solo but along the way we may invite people to share the journey with us and at various ports along the way we will pick up and drop them off, sometimes just one or sometimes a few. Fate will bring along its share of both calms and storms but struggle begins when you choose to either ask someone to row along with you or whether you choose to weather the onslaught and battle along alone.

After much practise i find i have become rather adept at rowing my boat, rather skillfully weathering the storms and if at times i get a little seasick, well at least i know it will pass. Even so there are times when rowing this boat alone gets a little lonely and then sometimes you wish that you had someone else along to share the ride. This is when i wish i had not put into port so often and cast ashore my shipmates. Hindsight most truly is a wonderful thing.

Perhaps there was something to be said for press ganging after all!

So as we cruise along on our various odysseys perhaps we should all keep an eye for those boats adrift or battling the storm and as we pass by hold out a hand and offer to help row. For when life’s tempest rears its ugly head we should like to hope someone will sail by our side and battle us into calmer seas. 

And since i can profess no claim to being any kind of mariner I know i would.


For JayJay……keep on rowing my friend xx

Encounters with a 43 year old teenager

So last day in my job rolls around and i’m stuck working the night shift, a fact that really didnt make my day and if i was guilty of clock watching on a major scale then i hold my hands up and confess to it. Never has an evening crawled by so slowly and thanks only to two of my colleagues i was saved from being in a very bad mood for i did not one bit want to be there. 

So end of shift looming said colleagues pounced in the corridor and invited me to go along for a drink with them which my immediate reaction was to refuse. I am not much of a drinker and really am not particularly fond of pubs and sitting around listening to drunken people whilst nursing a drink that i really do not want is not my idea of fun. My colleagues however were not of a mind to take no for an answer and pressed their advantage saying that it was after all my last day so at this i half heartedly agreed fully intending to make my escape at the earliest opportunity.

So some time later still in uniform we weaved our way through a busy pub, pretending to ignore the antics of one or two males clutching parts of their bodies shouting ‘NURSE i need help’ before finally resorting to raised eyebrows and replies of ”sorry we’re not nurses but we do deal with the elderly so youre okay’  

Now this is where i made my big mistake, remember i’m no drinker and should’ve erred on the side of caution but no i threw all that out of the window and nonchalantly declared i would have the large glass of wine.Common sense would have dictated i opt for the small but ill humour prodded at me to be daring. Surprisingly aided with a very nice wine and humour unrestrained by the rules and regulations of work i was actually having a good time and if i was drinking my wine too quickly i did not notice at the time. 

Now i was still sober,remembered i do not drink and refused when offered a second drink by my colleage but this was swiftly rebuffed with the response that it was after all my last day so when large glass number two arrived i quite merrily drank my way through it and i must admit it did not last very long.Perhaps i would have been wiser to choose something a little less palatable thus slowing the desire to imbibe it so quickly. 

Right about now my nose and i started having issues for it became very fuzzy and i poked at it wondering why it felt all numb and my mouth just would not co-operate when i tried to talk. Did i refuse another drink? Unwisely i did not and amid fits of the giggles and a slight swaying in my chair. Bad mood was long dismissed and i had to admit it had been a rather effective way to de-stress.

An hour and a half later when the bartender rings for last orders i pull out my mobile to check the time and stared fuzzily at the dozens of messages and missed calls on screen wondering why i had suddenly become so popular and opened a message from dear daughter number two saying ‘where ARE you??’  texting back a brief  ‘At pub, leaving do, back soon ( or at least that was my intent but in my drunken state it was in actuality rather full of typos)  i picked up my drink only to receive a reply pinged quickly back.

Glass to mouth the message flashed up on screen ‘ We thought you were missing we’ve called the police everyone is looking for you’. Okay so i choked on my drink and shrieked loudly to my colleagues ‘OH GOD my kids have called the police!!’  Total horror i mean i’m a 43 year old grown woman who just happened to wander to the pub on the way home…..really??? The police??

Scrolling through the messages i find a text from the local police saying please call us immediately and i yelped in horror feeling for all the world like some rebelllious teen caught running away from home as a message pings through from dear daughter number one declaring ‘i’m coming to get you!!!’ Colleagues are at this moment giggling helplessly and i am loudly bewailing teens who 9 nights out of ten would not notice if i danced naked on the front lawn.

Briefly i prayed for Jeremy Beadle to come leaping from around the corner bouncily declaring it all some big prank but alas it was not so and we all weaved way to the door to be met outside by DD1 in best teacher voice scolding ”MOTHER!! youre drunk!!”   And i was, as i cheerily and loudly slurred ‘Dear i am 43 years old and a big girl if you want to declare me missing at least give me until morning to actually BE missing!!’

Hmmmmm perhaps its time to get a life and give worrisome teens more experience of a grown up mommy with freedom!!

Police indeed!! 

That just drives me crazy!!

I imagine i am far from alone in having those little pet peeves, those things that get up your nose and make you roll your eyes and mutter ‘oh for goodness sake!!’  I am not much given to profanity and have in my time invented a number of nonsensical words to use in such occasions although i am aware most people will have much more colourful ones than my own.

Yesterday was a day of pet peeves, yet i am for the most part a fairly tolerant and laid back person and it did set me thinking. I wonder whether many of us have the same irritants or whether i am alone in mine so i thought it would be rather amusing to confess to them.

Car Drivers

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Yes you’ve got it the plain old humble car drivers.

It never ceases to amaze me how the most mild mannered of people will transform from Jekyl to Hyde whilst behind the wheel of a car. I see them all hunched over the steering wheel with an intent fixed look and a ‘dont mess with me attitude’. As a plain humble pedestrian i find myself often caught in the rain and invariably am at the whim of the car driver when needing to get around. Car drivers i find have no empathy, tucked up warm and dry in their cars they care little for the poor rain drenched pedestrian and will coldly drive through puddles without slowing and ignore those poor bedraggled souls shivering by the side of the road hoping to cross.

Of course being such a compassionate little soul myself i fully understand the importance of those in vehicles getting to their destination that whole thirty seconds sooner and i sympathise deeply with their plight and of course i understand how traumatic it should be to lose focus and have to let some impudent person cross the road.Really i do. I would not wish to be the cause of such distress as it should cause someone to have to change speed and see anything but the bumper of the car in front and their intended destination.

Car drivers my thoughts are with you.


Enid and Ethel

I imagine i am far from alone in my abhorrence for supermarket shopping. Of course we all need to shop, after all we need to eat but unless you are one of those wealthy enough to have someone to do all of this for you then invariably at some point you will encounter ‘the supermarket’. Now i have to admit with the advent of online shopping i manage for the most part to avoid this but there are times when i need to brave and go shopping. 

Cue the ‘wonky’ trolley. Smile fixed firmly in place you try to appear nonchalant as your errant trolley rattles and squeaks its way across the shop, hauling you firmly sideways as one rebellious wheel refuses to conform and roll with its peers . Mental cursing ‘move dammit’ you stoutly weave you way across the shop narrowly avoiding the requisite stack of wine bottles that is inevitably in your path. 

Ignoring stomach growls as you lurch your way past the selection of delectable concoctions in the bakery you slalom around other shoppers gathering goods as you go until you encounter…Enid and Ethel.

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Now it matters not where you live, whether it be town or city you will without fail meet with an Enid and Ethel. They are usually best discovered infront of the one thing you really need the most and are easily recognisable by the pair of side by side trolleys blocking the aisle. More often you will hear Enid and Ethel long before you reach them as they have a most distinctive sound consisting of loud overly enthusiastic cries of ‘oh i haven’t seen you for ages how ARE you?’  Most amusing when approaching this pair for you cannot help but overhear and discover that infact they have actually last met only two days prior. 

So trolleys blocking aisle and effusive conversation in full flow, Enid and Ethel are totally oblivious to their whereabouts and also the inconvenience they cause to others as a procession of other shoppers build up behind you. Cue defensive mode and indignant squeaks of ‘it’s not me’ as more vocal of shoppers express their displeasure and yet Enid and Ethel remain totally unaware of the havoc they are causing. 

Now if you’re anything like me you become most apologetic and whisper ‘excuse me’ at the gossiping pair only to be met with a look of irritation from the recipients for how dare i interrupt their conversation! I have never yet figured out why i feel the need to apologise for i am not the one holding a coffee morning in the middle of my local convenience store. 

And so eventually having managed to squeeze by as, leaning guiltily over to snatch an item from off the shelf behind the pair, you hurry lopsidedly around the rest of the shop and dash for the one open checkout only to encounter……..yes you guessed it…….Enid and Ethel!

Spelling and the Queen’s English

Spending so much time online in this world of technology i, as do most of us, encounter many people in all forms of communication and i find the one thing that drives me to distraction is spelling and the use of our language. Now of course there has developed over time a use of slang and this is pretty much the norm in any language and culture. 

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BUT and this is a big but, the one thing guaranteed to drive me to distraction is the misspelling of the most basic of words, those we should as very small children learn as the norm and certainly we as adults should know and be able to use correctly. Granted the invention of Mobile Phones did little to help the situation with the ongoing creation of ‘text talk’  which i confess drives me insane and on receiving such messages i do text back and say ”could i have that in english please”! 

And yes i do have a most hated word…WAT. This riles me whenever i see it and i am always so temped to correct it..the word is WHAT not WAT. A WAT is a buddhist temple although i do not expect you to know that and neither do i think this was your meaning when writing that word. WHAT WHAT WHAT!! 

Okay so calm, i acknowledge that such a pet peeve has made me so much more aware of my own spelling and use of language and i do try my best to use it appropriately although i expect at times i too get it wrong. But how tragic is it that in this day and age even those words so basic cannot be spelt correctly. 

Most calamitous then for the future of our language, are we to become a nation of text talkers, totally unable to string together a comprehensible  sentence? I Truly hope not! 

Mime Artists and Morris dancers

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Yes you have it i cannot abide neither mine artists nor morris dancers and i expect in this i may be alone. I have not the faintest idea as to why but both arouse in me an intense irritation which to my knowledge has no foundation. I am not aware of any prior encounter with either that could have produced such an adverse feeling but there you have it i cannot tolerate either.

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It is not very often i go into the city but on the rare occasion i do it is inevitable i will encounter some form of street performer as is often the case in the arty parts of any big city. And always it is my misfortune to encounter a mime artist and whether they can sense my dislike or not they always seem to make a beeline for yours truly. 

I remember my last encounter vividly as hurrying head down to my destination and trying desperately to avoid eye contact i was followed up the street by a mime artist feigning the proffering of flowers. Now of course i am female and should some handsome man pursue me down the street with some floral tribute i should be most happy but not when some clown like figure pursues me with invisible blooms causing all and sundry to point in my direction.

I confess to feeling somewhat guilty as this ridiculous figure pantomimed tears at my refusal to acknowledge him but i cannot help the feelings these figures arouse in me and hurried off.

And morris dancers, really?? Need i say more??

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Get Up And Go

So its Sunday morning and i am not in bed having a lie in like most conventional people on the one day we do not need to get up early. As usual 6.30am my happy little dream world was shattered by brain rudely shouting ‘OI you’re late get up!!’  Now i was not infact late for anything but i appear to have some inbuilt alarm clock that has no respect at all for days off or late shifts and will quite happily tip me out of bed regardless.

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So okay lets give in and crawl downstairs in the direction of the coffee….coffee helps, really although some days i think i should just bypass the kettle and sit and eat it with a spoon.Well mostly it helps but today three coffees down and it’s just not working.Cue huge yawn!

So being analytical i think my get up and go just got up and went……i’d be tempted to go and follow it but hey no forwarding address what do you know?? Typical right?

Actually i blame it all on being injured yesterday whilst out hiking in my thinking place. My own fault i really should know better than to go scrambling through barbed wire fences but i do things on a whim and it seemed like a terribly good idea at the time. Strangely i didn’t realise i was injured i think i was more absorbed in trying to get through the fence in a ladylike manner without displaying my ample bottom to the world and did not register my leg being chewed by a fence with teeth. 

Later sitting in the bath i did notice, peering curiously at it wondering where on earth it came from. But perhaps im a morbid little soul being not the slightest bit squeamish and i prodded happily at it fascinatedly examining the flesh inside and marvelling at the layers visible. 

This is where now my children would be exclaiming in disgust, the ritual…’Motherrrrrr thats gross’  would come forth. I watch medical programmes you see, quite unperturbedly eating dinner whilst watching open heart surgery and this never bothers me at all but my children for some odd reason find this most strange and refuse to watch tv with me. What can i say? i assume i just have a strong stomach or am capable of a degree of detachment that most people are not. Maybe i missed my calling and i should after all have been a surgeon!

So, get up and go having taken an impromptu vacation and blame being firmly placed at injuries door i absolved myself from all blame in feeling the need to attach my derierre to shiny new sofa,indulge my need for coffee and spend the morning mentally drooling at the gorgeous Kevin Mckidd courtesy of Greys anatomy.

Again this is most unlike me, i confess to having a touch of ocd in that i hate mess, i mean REALLY hate mess. It talks to me. I will happily sit down and then some untidy or homeless belonging will start waving at me and calling my name until i find all my attention focused upon it and then i feel the need to get up and take it away. Curtains and cushions must be straight and even and everything in its place. Yes a touch of OCD like i said. 

Although perhaps here i should be worried for other things talk to me too, biscuits for one. I hear them calling my name and cooing ‘eat meeeee’ every time i enter the kitchen. Hiding them really does not help for they seem to have internal radar and will only call louder to be sure of being heard. Hey im not ignorant i have to listen right??

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But today with get up and go having got up and gone and injury taking the blame where i refuse to, i am having a guilt free slob out on the sofa gazing disinterestedly at all those tasks still waiting to be done. Not a voice to be heard and not a wave to be seen and although i feel mildly guilty knowing i have to work the late shift and it is likely my very minor mess will still be in residence when i return home. And this i know is when i will mind for i hate returning home to anything less than spotless. 

So still i sit here and time is ticking by and am i doing as i should? No i am sitting here blogging to the world, tutting furiously for my hands seem also to be missing a little something and typos run unbound across the page. I promise i shall edit before i publish for there is nothing more annoying than spelling mistakes and errors.

So tick tock time is moving along, work is edging ever closer and i think perhaps, guilt assisted or not i really should get myself moving and tackle the chores. Maybe just one more coffee first.

Coffee anyone??

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sense and sensibility

I’ve always prided myself on being reasonably intelligent and pretty perceptive in the scheme of things but  so often things just seem to end up with a giant sized spanner in the works. I wonder if perhaps i’m as perceptive as i like to think i am or whether im just some kind of cockeyed eternal optimist residing in a fantasy land borne of too many hours with my head firmly in some novel. I love the escapism of books, even when everything goes so wrong it always seems to have an unerring way of becoming right at the end and if i could get life to be this way i would quite happily white water raft my way down the rapids of trials and tribulations sent my way, knowing that a different ending was in sight when i sailed my way to the bottom. As usual things have crawled their way out of the pages of my book and slithered under the table to be trampled on by a never ending stream of feet as the comings and goings of life carry on their merry way and i never was any good at putting pages back together, i have no idea how  nor even if i want to carry on reading the story. So perhaps a new book is in order and a very big book this time, one i can hide behind and only look out from beyond the pages when i know nobody is trying to see who this girl is and what she’sImage reading. Because its a secret now and in all things perhaps it is wisest to let sense and sensibility prevail 

The simple fact of waking up

Well another early morning and I was up long before anyone else, except for some small bird not some distance from my window who is quite gleefully and merrily singing his heart out oblivious to anything except his desire to sing. Perhaps the joy of having such a simple unfettered life was too much for him to contain and so he had to share it with the world, whatever his efforts have not gone unnoticed and I cannot help but smile and feel a lightness of heart. Sometimes i’m so tempted to do much the same and throw open my windows and shout ‘hello world I’m alive’ although i doubt my neighbours would thank me very much for it, more likely they would imagine i had gone quite mad and I would be the subject of discussion for the rest of the day.  I’ve come to find that something so simple as waking up in a morning was something i took for granted, indeed I confess to never having given it a passing thought until these recent months. Working in elderly care has perhaps altered my perception of life and mortality and made me aware of the fact that I may not, as I so naively used to announce, manage to live untainted by age and die in my own bed at the ripe old age of 103. I have no idea why I decided I was going to live to 103, as usual I expect it was some whimsical fancy of mine plucked from obscurity without any real thought behind it but now I find I’m daily faced with the stark reality of becoming older and can’t help but feel a certain trepidation that makes me certainly appreciate the golden years I’m living right now. So yes although i refrain from shouting this out loud, i cant help but want to say ‘hello world I’m alive’