Monday, 16 October 2017

What's on your Playlist?



I'm 50 on Friday and I'm having a party on Saturday to celebrate.

Currently, I'm trying to put together the ultimate playlist for the party. I didn't realise quite how tricky this was before I started.

My problem is, I have 50 years worth of music going through my head, and picking the right songs for when people are eating, drinking and hopefully dancing is proving challenging.

There are certain tracks that have to be on my playlist, no matter what.

These tracks are my all time favourites.

The Killers - Mr Brightside
Muse - Feeling Good
Josh Wink - A Higher State of Consciousness
Garbage - Cherry Lips

But I also like a bit of Stormzy, Wiley, Tinie Tempah and Macklemore

AND

I have a Ratpack 1950's theme so there has to be some Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin (to name but a few) and definitely some Elvis.

Gah. I did this to myself. Even as I type this I am listening to Iggy Azalea to see if she can 'Change Your Life'. 

I have 9 hours to fill, I currently have over 14 hours worth of music and I'm still adding songs, last night I realised I can't live with out 'Fix Up Look Sharp' by Dizzie Rascal, yesterday it was Bang Bang with Jessie J etc, and 'Cake by the Ocean' by DNCE. 

I wake up thinking about music and go to sleep doing the same.

So I am having to go through the list to decide if it the track is filler or killer.

Why can't I have everything? My guests will just have to stay all night and most of the next day to listen to all the music.

Problem solved. Yay.

What would you put on your playlist?


Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Grey Cat that Wouldn't

This is Millie, my grey cat that won't.
Once upon a time there was a grey cat.

She was a jumpy cat, she'd not had the best start in life, so when she first came to live with her people she didn't trust them.

She hid under a bookcase for a week.

She was very frightened.

But the people coaxed her out with food, little treats, and soft voices.

As time went on she began to trust her people. They fed her, she was warm, she had her own bed.

She liked their strokes and their love.

And things settled down and she had a happy life.

But then something happened. A mangy cat visited.

He threw his stinky scent everywhere and ate all of her food.

Her people didn't like that, so they changed her cat door to one that beeped.

The mangy cat didn't like that,  and couldn't get in.

But the grey cat was afraid of the beep.

She didn't want to come in through her door any more.

At first it didn't matter, her people had their back door open all the time as the weather was warm.

But then it got colder.

Grey cat didn't want to stay in the house any more.

There was no way out except through the beepy door.

Her people would open their door and call her in. But then they would close their door.

This frightened grey cat,  she was trapped.

But she wanted food.

Grey cat stayed close and her people offered her treats again to try to encourage her back in and to feel safe again.

But grey cat didn't like the beep.

Grey cat didn't trust her people.

Grey cat didn't want to come in.

Grey cat would rather stay outside in the cold than come back into the warm, safe house.

Because of a beep.

Her people didn't know what to do.

Her people were very sad.

But grey cat just wouldn't

Come in.

_______________________________________XXX________________________________________

If any one has any suggestions to help with this problem, please let me know, I really want my cat to come in and it's getting too cold to keep the back door open all the time.

Thanks


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Saturday Nights Alright for Drinking


My drink of choice...

Last night I went out with my husband and a couple of friends. We had a curry and went for a few drinks down the pub.

Not unusual for a Saturday night, I hear you say. This is VERY unusual.

Since I have had children (over 14 years ago) my husband and I have struggled to find baby sitters. My husbands parents and sister live in Ireland and my brother and his wife live over 60 miles away (My Mum has passed away and my Dad is in a home with dementia).

On very special occasions we have managed to get a baby sitter but it is always a struggle as most of our friends have young children as well.

So what changed last night? We left the kids with our friends kids at their house. My eldest is nearly 15 and their eldest is 14.

We finally feel they are old enough to be left alone and be responsible for themselves and look after the two younger children.

We still didn't stay out really late, we were back at the house by 10pm, but oh my God it was lovely.

Although, I am used to the pace of sofa drinking which is quite a slow affair, not this round after round malarkey. Suffice to say, I got a bit drunk.

After my friends and the kids had all gone to bed, I spent the last part of the evening crying at my husband, (please see my previous post here, this crying thing has to stop!) as my cat wasn't a lap cat any more and didn't come in enough - utterly ridiculous - whilst trying to make friends with our friends cat.

Our friends cat, Precious, who didn't want to be friends with me last night.

Surprisingly, our friends cat didn't want to be friends with the drunk crying woman...Gah.

Despite the last part of the evening, the night was a great success, our kids didn't fight or blow anything up or run with knives whilst climbing a ladder. Brilliant. So we will be able to do this again.

Next time, however, I will pace myself a little more and try to be slightly less tearful at the end of the evening.

Cheers to all the future Saturday nights - Yay!


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Adventures in depression


After being on anti-depressants for many many years I have finally, very slowly, weaned myself off them.

It has taken 10 months in total to reduce my dosage, reducing them by one pill a month and going slower if I had a wobble.

I have been anti-depressant free for a month.

How do I feel?

I feel everything, after years of taking a mood inhibitor/stabiliser, I suddenly have different moods.

I have to remind myself it is OK to be sad, people get sad, it is OK to cry more than I have in years and years, it is OK to have rage and anger and lots and lots of feelings.

Sometimes it is really overwhelming, I'm just not used to feeling this much.

I cry at the news, I cry when I laugh, I cry because the cat won't come in through the cat flap because it's now got a beep (We installed a new cat flap which works with her chip, but it beeps, so she won't use it - she is flighty).

When I took the anti-depressants, I knew things were emotional, but they just didn't make me cry. Now I am a crying machine.

My depression was mild in comparison to many people, I have never been sectioned or stayed in a mental health facility. Instead I took the pills, I occasionally had counselling (like when I was diagnosed with CML*) and generally got on with life.

My first adventure into depression was when I was 19, I'd gone to University in London, moving from a small village in Shropshire.

I moved out of the halls of residence after the first term as it made me feel trapped, and got a flat with a friend.

She had her own emotional issues (that I was unaware of until we moved in together) and I spent my time in that flat looking after her, working various part time jobs, having a crappy relationship, and travelling to and from college (it tool 3 buses to get from our flat to Uni - bad planning on our part).

Eventually, it took it's toll, I was doing very badly in one of the two subjects that made up my degree and had to keep re-writing essays which effectively doubled my workload, oh and my grandmother passed away.

My introduction to life away from home was revelatory, scary, exciting and stressful. It got too much, I had run out of money and was suffering from tonsillitis. I walked to the phone box (yes I am that old) and used my last 10p to phone my Mum, after that I don't really remember anything of the next two weeks.

My doctor said I had a nervous breakdown, because that's what they called it then.

I don't remember being offered any counselling or medication, I was just left to it. I went back to Uni a month later and carried on. Just scraping through my first year.

After that, I became aware that I seemed to be more emotionally affected than others, my sadness was dark, scary and bottomless, but I kept it at bay until the last 6 months of Uni.

Eventually, it became too much again, a relationship gone bad, a pregnancy that shouldn't have happened (my partner at the time had, had Hodgkin's disease and was supposed to be shooting blanks) a termination, just before I was supposed to do my finals, a lack of support - I went to Catholic college administered by Nuns. This time I was given one of the many versions Prozac, I was 21. I passed my Degree, not as well as I hoped but considering everything I was happy with the result.

Life carried on, I eventually came off the Prozac, but then had an extremely challenging relationship. I managed to stay off the Prozac for the 4 years of the relationship and the following two years where this person persecuted my new partner and I. I only felt free of him when we moved to a new house and he couldn't find us. It was at this point I fell to pieces again, I had stayed strong for so long.

This time I was given more Prozac and counselling, the counselling lasted 6 weeks and didn't really suit me. Since then, I've taken Prozac, it's been 16 years.

I have tried to come off the Prozac on a number of occasions throughout this time, but life happened, and I didn't.

So it is hardly surprising that I am now like a newborn with lots of emotions I haven't used for ages bubbling inside me.

Prozac has kept me functioning and living a relatively normal life for the majority of my adult life, I am grateful to it.

But my husband knows the signs, he knows when I need to go back to the doctor, he is keeping a watchful eye on me.

I remain optimistic and hopeful that I can stay off the Prozac.

I am older and wiser with an arsenal of coping techniques. This time I am going to win, I am not going to let my mind spiral out of control, I have the power to keep it in check.

Come on life, you can throw what you like at me but I will not be beaten.

*Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

 


Sunday, 1 October 2017

20 things I learnt in 50 years




I am going to be 50 in 19 days. 50 how on earth did that happen?

In my head I am somewhere around 18.

Now I am nearly 50, I am obviously very wise and sensible.

Err no.

But I've learnt some stuff, here are some of my best pearls of wisdom, just for you.

  1. In any successful relationship there is compromise 
  2. Things are never quite so bad in the morning
  3. Be a parent not a friend to your kids and they will become your friends
  4. You can never say I love you enough
  5. Treat each meeting with a friend as if it was the last time you'll see them
  6. Treat all people as you expect to be treated
  7. Naps are good
  8. Don't be swayed by ridiculous trends
  9. Your mind plays tricks on you
  10. You can cope with more than you think you can
  11. Children know everything that goes on in the home, so don't hide things from them
  12. Your children can be incredibly funny, if you let them
  13. A family that laughs together, stays together
  14. Music is a gift from the Gods*
  15. A good book/film can open up other worlds, if you let it
  16. A little bit of everything does you good
  17. Don't knock it till you try it (I try to live by this but there are certain things that doesn't apply to for me i.e parachuting, bunjee jumping and anything else of a similar nature**. And eating the face of animals and or the inside of their bones)
  18. With haircuts - it will always grow back
  19. With tattoo's - sometimes it doesn't quite work out like you want, but it doesn't matter because once it's on you it's part of you
  20. With boyfriends/girlfriends - never go back for a second chance, you split up for a reason


 *I don't believe in Gods but you get the idea
**I'm not an adrenalin junkie 



Friday, 29 September 2017

Pavement Tree



Autumn is here, whether you believe it arrived on the meteorological date(1st September) or at the  Equinox (22nd September), it is definitely here.

I have a different start date. The date my husband pulls the 'grumpy, I've got to clear the leaves off the drive' face.

I quite like the leaves on the drive. But I do know they will eventually turn to mush.

I don't know what he is complaining about, one year I persuaded my then 8 or 9 year old to do it for money. Tut.

We are fortunate to live in quite a leafy area, having a council tree right in front of our driveway. My children refer to it as their tree, as far as they are concerned it is nothing to do with the council.

We have tree's in the garden as well, but none as big as Pavement Tree (Council Tree just didn't sound right).

Our tree is usually the last tree to grow it's leaves and the last to drop them in our street, I think it's because we are in a bit of a dip.

This year there was much concern by all of us about Pavement Tree as it was very slow to decide to grow it's leaves, and we feared the worst (It is quite old) but eventually it did, it also developed a baby groot...
Which was nice.

I have just realised I don't know what sort of tree Pavement Tree is, which is pretty disgraceful since we have been living in harmony together since 2000.

5 minutes has passed. I sent a child outside to grab a leaf and did some googling and have identified Pavement Tree as a Beech Tree. Guilt assuaged*. Thank you world for giving me the internet, this would have taken so much longer rummaging around in books. And books are bad for trees.. It all comes back to the trees.

So here I was, already to blog about autumn and it's ended up being all about Pavement Tree. Pavement Tree, strong and steady sheltering our house (it's taller than our house) and giving all of my family a sense of well being and security.

So if anyone suggests that these tree's on pavements aren't necessary or cost too much money (I'm talking to you Birmingham City Council), I think they may find themselves in trouble with our family. It turns out we all have quite strong feelings about Pavement Tree and we stand with it.

So any way isn't autumn nice, leaf colours blah blah blah...Pavement Tree is WAY more interesting.

I'm off now to give Pavement Tree a bit of a hug of appreciation.




*Note to self - Must use 'assuaged' more often, its a nice word that rolls around the tongue



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Dancing - The Aftermath

That's me, front and centre at dress rehearsal, just about to turn around and give the tap performance of my life!
Well, I'm exhausted, again hugely impressed with the kids that danced as they had so many dances to do and I just had one.

Would I do it all again....hmmmm.

I love tap dancing, but I have never been great at the whole smile and dance thing, performing. It's just not me.

I have joined a tap class, I am doing a tapathon in November for charity and this feels much more up my street. I hear a rumour there is a performance planned by this tap class, something about Wake me up before you go go...' Oh no.

We will see, I am still recovering, but I have finally found a form of exercise I am comfortable with, and I have been riding my bike more, taking my orders to the post office. So in general, I am getting fitter. My heart is having some exercise so this is a good thing.

Am I losing weight? No. It's obviously all just turning into muscle *ahem*.

Do I feel better for it? Yes. My knees still complain and I make all the old person noises when I sit down and stand up, but I think they are complaining slightly less than before, so maybe they are getting stronger or something.

Overall, it has been a great experience, and it's got me back into my tap shoes which is great. So no complaints from me.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

You're my bitch - or an ode to depression

Like the sun you're always there.
Like a friend with a gun, you just don't care.
Like the worst pun or an unholy nun,
You're a bitch and a dare.

You're the stream that turns to flood.
You're thoughts that make my mind mud.
You're the babbling brook in my head.
You're a bitch and a tear.

I stilled you
I calmed you
I took you down
With Prozac and talking
And time after time.

You have taken the years
And the years and the years
And my tears and the years
With your chatter in my head

But now, you're not on the list
So you're not getting in
You're wearing trainers, you're obviously pissed.
You're my bitch now. You won't be missed.

You're my bitch.





Friday, 22 September 2017

I'm dancing...Really dancing

Tonight for the first time in over 32 years I am dancing on stage. OMG.

Still can't quite believe it. Excited, nervous, thrilled to be dancing on the same stage as my daughter.

All of the above.

When I was young, from about 6 to 18, I danced, I did tap, modern and ballet.

I did my exams, we did shows.
I am third from the back, we are rehearsing our tap chattanooga choo choo..classic.

I wanted to be an actress when I was a child, so I needed to dance and sing.

I loved the big MGM musicals with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly ... all of them. Loved them. I wanted to be Cyd Charrisse, she had famously amazing legs. I mean, just look at them.

I'm five foot two, this was never going happen.

Anyway, I digress, I danced, lots and lots of dancing, I used to cycle to my dance classes and then dance then cycle home, I was super fit. I was a kid.

Now I am 49, I am anything but super fit, I get breathless, I have aches and pains in my joints, but when the chance to do a Mum's dance in my daughters dance schools show came up, I jumped at the chance.

A chance to polish off my old tap shoes (turned out they didn't fit any more and I had to get new ones.. proof that having babies make your feet bigger), yes please.

So for the last couple of months, myself and some other brave souls have tapped our hearts out getting ready to dance in this show. Our daughters our dancing loads of dances, mine is dancing in 5. How they do it I don't know, I am practically at deaths door after we have completed our one dance.

But, I have loved it, I will continue tapping after this, it has given me a new lease of life .

Hello, my name's Jane and I love tap dancing.

My new tap shoes, not looking very new, but ready for tonight.
So if you want to see me, and the other Mum's or any of the incredibly talented kids (Some of these dances will take your breath away) or some super cute tots dancing with all their hearts. Come and see us. We are at The Core Theatre Solihull, tonight and then tomorrow for a matinee and evening performance. Tickets are available here

Wish us luck.  





Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Art of Waiting



I spend a lot of my time in hospitals. Waiting.
I don't mind waiting. I come prepared. Coffee. Phone. Sometimes a book. 

Today I am in Solihull hospitals radiology department waiting for an x-ray as i've had a persistent dry cough for over six weeks.

The doctor has to send me for a chest x-ray as this is the standard procedure, even though she doubts there is anything wrong with my lungs at all, and it is probably to do with my indigestion medication, she thinks I need to take more of it. Yay more pills.

So here I am waiting. I have no internet connection so I am writing this on my notes on my phone. I can upload it later.

All of this is fine. I am being productive. I have half an ear open for my name.

I have made a list of what I need to do later, when i'm finished here. Because what ever happens and no matter how long I wait I will be finished here at some point. There is always an end of the wait in sight.

It may be far away on the horizon. But it's there. 

I watch others get agitated, fidgety. What's the point. It is always warm in waiting rooms it will only make you hotter and uncomfortable.

Usually there is a TV on. Today Jeremy Kyle is on. I purposely sit with my back to it so I can faze it out. You can't reach a perfect waiting Zen state with Jeremy Kyle in your eyeline

I have to be careful not to fall a sleep. It's warm, I have found a comfortable sitting position and as I relax my eyes close.

Relaxing into waiting started when I had a super busy job and not much of a work life balance. I realised when I was waiting. I had to stop. Just stop.

It was Me time. Not perfect but something. Since then my life has changed A Lot. But I still find myself in this state. 

I have written all this. I am still waiting, my eyelids are heavy. This is way more than I would do normally whilst I wait.

Normally, I think of nothing. The murmur of all the others voices who are waiting too, are like waves or whale music. Strangely relaxing. 

I would recommend my form of waiting. You can't speed up the hospital, by bothering them. You are just taking up their valuable time. So, as they say, 'just lean into it'. It is what it is. 

Now if only I could reach this state of mind when I'm driving I would be a much better person. But no, this seems peculiar to waiting. 

Try it. It's nice.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Interview with my 11 and 14 year old

I have been re-reading some of my old blogs and remembering why I do this. On the 1st February 2010, I did an interview with my 3 and 7 year old, Follow the link to see that post.

I thought I would try the same thing again, because their answers were brilliant and showed me a moment in time.

Here they are being all 11 and 14 (Well Lola was 10 in this photo, but you know what I mean)
Some of the questions have slightly changed as things move on.
As before Lola's answers are in orange and Heather's are in green

How old are you?

11 
14

How old is Mummy?

49, 50 in October 
49

How old is Nana?

I'm just going to say 21 - Nana is famously sensitive about her age, I think I may have reared a diplomat.
71

Who is in charge of the country?

The Queen
The Prime Minister, Theresa May

Who is the Queen?

Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II

Who is Donald Trump?

President of the United States of America

President of the United States of America

What is your favourite food?

Rice, gravy & peas - Excellent all the food groups *head slap*
Cake, Mummy's raspberry and cream Victoria Sponge - Lovely, but also not the most nutritious of options. Oh hum.

What's your favourite song?

Little do you know (she doesn't know who by, but I've googled it and it's Alex and Sierra, you can listen to it here) and Look what you made me do by Taylor Swift - So it appears my 11 year old has quite adult musical tastes, who knew...not me, until now.
Hell Nos and Headphones by Hailee Steinfeld - You can listen to that one here again, definitely not standard pop.

Where do carrot's come from?

The ground
The ground

Where do banana's come from?

Trees
Trees - well that's a relief they know the basics about fruit and veg
 
How does a car work?

With petrol giving it power to run
An engine

What do you like doing at school?

Maths - I mean who actually really likes maths? Lola, apparently.
Art

What does Mummy do whilst you are at school?

Works, watches the news and sleeps - That is frighteningly accurate....
Works and cleans - Hmmm lovely that she thinks we have a clean house, I don't spend much time cleaning it is one of my least favourite things ever.

Where do babies come from?

Mummy's tummy
Sperm and an egg

Where does poo come from?

Your bum
Your bum - I had a better answer from this one when she was 7, darnation, she is unlearning stuff.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I just want to dance or do something relating to dance
Something creative in fashion

If you have children, what names will they have?

Daisy and Dan - Still prefer 3 year old Lola's answers to this.
Luke and Frankie (Francesca)

What makes you happy?

Yellow - random?
Family and friends - Yay, I made it into the what makes you happy category this time, she could have been more specific... but you know, you have to take it where you can find it.



So what have I learnt about my kids this time around?
Their answers are more mature and don't make me what to giggle as much. Lola is a bit of an anomoly, she loves dancing and maths, not two things I naturally put together, this isn't a surprise but it is strange to see it in black and white. Heather is bright, intelligent and is beginning to understand how the world all fits together and influences her. At one point during this, Heather asked me to wait as she wanted to think of a 'clever answer' but I was in a rush and wouldn't let her, so you only saw her immediate reactions.

I think it would be interesting to do this again when they are in their 20's, I think, by then I could take the carrot, banana and poo questions out, and made add some more probing future life questions... Or maybe I do another interview with new questions now... Hmmm lots to ponder, I am sure you will find out what I decide.




Monday, 18 September 2017

Project Secret Garden

Earlier this year, I started a little project in my garden, it was a secret, a secret garden.

This was largely because it isn't actually in my garden, I have kinda borrowed some land at the back of my house.

I live in one of those suburban areas where there are garages at the bottom of our gardens and a drive way at the back of all the houses in my bit of the road.

I am at the very end of that drive way so the road stops by the end of my garage where I don't have a garage any more. I just have a gate leading to the drive way.

When I started this project the driveway at the back of the houses looked like this,


I decided that as no one was using the driveway, and as it was waist high with weeds I would use the bit up to the next garage as a veg patch. This was in May.

So I cleared my patch. It was really hard work, and quite scratchy as there were lots of thistles.
 So I enlisted some help.

She didn't last long.

Then I planted some things
I brought some runner bean and celery seedlings, and planted seeds to grow, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, swede and garlic. The white looking bits and bods you can see scattered over the soil is orange peel to discourage cats from pooing in my fresh soil. That seemed to work.

Slowly things started to grow, my seeds became seedlings.

My seedlings became plants.

I grew a sunflower in there , to keep an eye on all the plants as they grew.

And now my family and I are reaping the benefits.
I am harvesting my broccoli, runner beans, garlic and swede, and getting dirty feet in the process (must remember to put welly's on).

My cauliflower is nearly ready and I am hoping my sprouts will be ready for Christmas.

It has been hard work and I am constantly battling with weeds but the sense of satisfaction of growing something from a tiny seed to a fully grown vegetable is ridiculous. I know now, what my parents were going on about and it encourages my children to eat more vegetables, (they weren't too bad at this anyway).

There have been some fails, I grew aubergine plants and planted them out, one tiny but perfectly formed aubergine grew, I left it out there to grow a bit more, but a slug found it and made a home in it. So much for that.

A friend of mine, said that I have become a guerilla gardener, I am not sure about that, all I did was find a tiny bit of land that was adjacent to my garden, I got rid of the weeds, and grew some vegetables.

I would definitely recommend this, but you should probably do it in your own garden or in an allotment, because I do run the risk of my local council putting a stop to it. Having said that they would have to get past all the weeds in front of the other garages before mine.

And, as an added bonus, it is quite physical so I feel like I am getting a bit of exercise.

I post regularly on my progress on Instagram, and you can find that through the links at the top of the page.

I am currently thinking about what to plant next,  probably potatoes, carrots and onions, to go in over the winter, if you have any suggestions or advice please let me know as this has been one massive learning experience.








Thursday, 14 September 2017

7 Years a CML Patient


These are cancer cells mooching about in a Leukaemia patients blood

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which is ironic as this was the month I was diagnosed with CML (Chronic Myloid Leukaemia), and similarly, yesterday told that I had to start taking my tablets again to keep this stupid disease at bay.

Last night as my husband was on nights, I decided to have my own personal pity party, and drank a bottle of wine, I actually didn't feel that pitiful last night, this morning however, my headache say it all.

I was off my chemotherapy (because that's what my tablets are) from April to September. It was lovely, my nails grew, the ache in my bones lessened, my hair got thicker, I had more energy, my stomach issues improved and the constant breathlessness stopped.

Now, I have all that to look forward to, although it may be less than before, as I have arranged to take a smaller dose, which is now half the standard dose taken by someone initially diagnosed with CML, so I am quietly optimistic the side effects will be considerably less.

I am also hoping that if my response is as good as it was last time I could reduce my dose to the lowest dose of Dasatanib that they do, because if I can keep it at bay with the lest amount of drugs, my body has a decent chance of having less negative reactions.

I have been diagnosed with this disease now for 7 years, I have blogged about it on numerous occasions here, here and here are but a few.

I have suffered severe panic attacks in social situations, fluid on my lungs, and constant feelings of breathlessness, but these things are nothing really.

I blog about my disease, partly to get things off my chest, partly to raise awareness, but also to talk about how brilliant the medicine is.

I know what I said at the top of this blog, but remember, mine is not traditional Chemo, It is one of the new drugs. I haven't lost my hair (it got a bit thin), it doesn't make me sick (just some slight nausea from time to time), I carried on working full time for 6 of those 7 years.  20 years ago, I wouldn't of been here now, the disease would have killed me about 4 years ago. I'm lucky.

When I go for my regularly blood tests, I see properly sick people, people who are so thin, I am amazed they can walk, people so white and sick looking, with no hair, people with sores and bandages, people of all creeds, colours and age, people attached to machines drip feeding them the poison that kills the cancer cells but severely damages them as well. It is a great leveller and reminder of how fortunate I really am.

Ward 19 at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham is massively busy every time I go. It's nurses and doctors do an amazing job.

Yes, you have to wait for ages, but I'm used to it and I go prepared, they put up with people moaning and complaining, when all they want to do is help.

So the point of today's blog is to gently ask you to donate whatever you can afford to any of the great charities who help and support people with blood cancer.

If you are not sure if you want to donate, here are some fun facts that might persuade you.

Blood cancers are the third biggest cancer killers claiming more lives than breast and prostate cancers
Blood cancers are the fifth most common cancer
If you donate you are helping to fund 1000 researchers working on 200 projects relating to cancer

Here are a few links:

Bloodwise

Leukaemia Care

Cancer Research

Anthony Nolan

Leukaemia and Myeloma Research

There are many more if you want to google it.

And finally, Thank You, some one like you donated money that meant I could have these drugs that keep me alive.





 


Monday, 11 September 2017

30 Collective nouns of animals, fish and mythical creatures

Do you ever wonder what a group of unicorns are called, or maybe a get together of porcupines, well I can help you out. 

When I was working in an office, my friend and I would often discuss what the collective noun of animals & mythical creatures was.

This could keep us entertained for ages, so I thought I would share a few of my favourites

Some are quite well known, some less so, and some are arguable - In other words, many things have many collective nouns associated with them, and one person may believe it to be one thing and another something else.

What are a group of these happy otters called?


Anyway, here you go;



Animal, fish or mythical creatureGroup known as



1 Starfish A Galaxy
2 Porcupine A Prickle
3 Otter A Romp
4 Bears A Sleuth
5 Elephants, Rhinoceros & Hippo's A Herd (But sometimes a Crash)
6 Kangaroos A Mob
7 Goldfish A Glint
8 Giraffes A Tower
9 Tiger A Streak
10 Starlings A Murmuration
11 Cats A Glaring
12 Bees A Bike
13 Rattlesnakes A Rumba
14 Zebras A Dazzle
15 Crows A Murder
16 Foxes  A Skulk
17 Meerkats A Mob
18 Pandas A Bamboo
19 Dragons A Thunder
20 Unicorns A Blessing
21 Angels  A Choir
22 Phoenixes An Odyssey
23 Peacocks A Muster
24 Owls A Parliment
25 Sharks A Shiver
26 Barracuda's A Battery
27 Apes A Shrewdness
28 Giants A Titan
29 Turkeys A Rafter
30 Fairies A Tizzy

I hope you enjoyed that, I'll be back soon


Saturday, 9 September 2017

10 things you need to know if you are a Dance Mum

I have been a dance Mum for 7 years... and survived.

Lola has gone from this

Lola 2011 ready for June Comps





To this
Lola June 2017 Comps


I have written about being a dance Mum previously here.

I am writing this now for any Mum who may be considering adding this to her CV (You know the CV where you are cleaner, taxi driver, chef, go to work etc... That CV), largely because I wish someone had told me.


Here are the 10 things you need to know before you even think of being a dance Mum.


  1. Being a dance Mum has lots of challenges, rehearsals, costumes, lessons, make up, hair, so you need to have excellent organisational skills, a hairdressing and make up qualification, and some form of transport to get you child wherever, whenever, they need to be, on time.
      2. You need a special competition/show bag, in that bag you will need the following items
      • Make up
      • A sewing kit
      • Spare elastic
      • Electrical/Duct tape (for prop repairs)
      • Spare tights
      • Spare socks
      • A first aid kit
      • Safety pins (If you have nothing else, these are essential)
      • A tin of gin and tonic and something caffeine based (These are for you)
      • A sugary snack (For them)
      • Fruit
      • Water
      • White or nude pants 
      • Tissues
      • Wipes
      3.   You will need to be prepared to be a gymnastic assistant and have arms, and legs ready to
            support your child when they are learning back bends, walkovers etc...

      4.  You will need sound proofed flooring in their bedroom, or a high volume on your television to
           drown out the sound of them practising

      5.  You will need to find a surface you are OK with them practising their tap dancing on, tap
           dancing ruins floors.

      6. You will need the patience of a saint as they ask to show you their dances, over and over
          again.

      7.  You will need to develop a special face that tells them you are concentrating on them dancing
           and not thinking about what to cook for dinner. This face has to show pride, admiration and
           love, even a hint of thinking or doing something else whilst watching them dance and they
           will notice and berate you for it. 

      8. After all the hard work, you will rarely see them do their performance as you are usually 
          backstage getting their next costume ready.

      9. You will get roped into helping other children whose Mum's can't be backstage as they are
           working, have other children doing other activities etc.... some of these children can be
          'different' to your own child and thus more challenging, and now their are two costume
          changes and hairstyle changes to contend with.

     10. And finally, be prepared for your child's confidence to grow, they will be fit and healthy and
           care about their posture, and if, you do see them dance on stage, in the costume you have
           stitched to make fit properly, and the make up that has to be perfect, and the hair all lacquered
           into place. Be prepared for the tears of pride and joy because they will be amazing, if they
           are dancing in an assemble you will only see them and they will dance perfectly. It is a great
           experience.

I write this as we are preparing for Lola's dance schools 30th anniversary. It's going to be a great event, where everyone comes together to put on a massive performance, even some of the Mum's are dancing (yes, OK I'm one of them) - If you are interested in seeing it - tickets are available here.

And a big shout out to Rochelle School of Dance and Debbie Green the amazing teacher and owner of this school who does a brilliant job with all these young dancers.

 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Me and Shakespeare...

...Or, to be grammatically correct, Shakespeare and I,
 are old friends.

We first became friends when I was quite small. I can't remember being introduced to Will. I just always knew him.

I would go to Ludlow and see the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) perform Shakespeare's plays outside in Ludlow castles' ruins.

I am told that when we went to see Macbeth I kept a tally of the murdered characters, I was quite a dark child.

I remember that the plays always started in the daylight and ended up in the dark. It must have been a lighting nightmare for the lighting designer, but the actors would leap around the ramparts and use every piece of the ruins to interpret whichever play they were performing.

We would take blankets, a picnic, umbrella's and soup in flasks for later. It was a lovely evening out.

As a result, I have always enjoyed Shakespeare and never really struggled with the language.



I took my kids to see the Tempest recently, they really enjoyed it, then whilst on holiday they saw The Rivals by RB Sheridan.

I was concerned I had left it too late as they are (10 and 14), but no, they totally absorbed the language and understood what was happening in the plays.

My eldest has said that she is 'OK with Shakespeare' which, for her means, it is not the mystery it is to many of her classmates. I am reassured.

I still haven't taken my kids to an RSC production, this is largely down to cost. I looked at booking some dubious side seats in the circle at Stratford-Upon-Avon and it would have cost £170.

So much for making Shakespeare accessible to all. In fact going to the theatre to see anything at all is ridiculously costly.

I looked at going to see the Birmingham Ballet's production of Aladdin - It was £212 to sit at the back of the stalls. Similarly, to go Birmingham Reps, main house it is about £55 per person.

I grew up going to the theatre regularly, now the prices are so exorbitant that only the upper middle classes and above can afford it.

And yet all the theatre's are looking for donations in addition to the ticket prices to support them,  I can't help but think where on earth is all the money going? Are they being taxed hugely by the government? I am baffled.

I honestly believe, my love of the English language, theatre and my academic achievements (I have a degree in Drama and English Literature) are largely to do with the amount of theatre I was exposed to as a child (I also read. A lot).

He has helped me get some of the Shakespeare questions right on University Challenge (they are the only questions I do get right).

He has helped me understand love, tragedy, comedy and joy.

I have favourite soliloquy's and sonnets.

I do have an issue with his history plays, they just never sat well with me.

I am gutted that Will won't be my children's BFF, but it's just one of those things.

I think JK Rowling may be my eldest's Shakespeare, at least this gets her reading, and in this day and age of technology, that has to be a good thing? Right?













Wednesday, 6 September 2017

To Sleep Perchance to Dream... Or who else can't get to sleep?

So the kids are back at school and my naturally nocturnal ways must come to an end.

Back to school runs, sandwich making and teatimes at a set time. Gah.

I prefer to stay up late, drink wine, think, and/or talk about life and stuff, sometimes write about the same stuff, get up whenever, feed the kids when we are all hungry.

I like to not have to wear a watch or clock watch.

I love the school holidays. Especially now the kids are older and don't need to be constantly watched and cared for. Now they are proper people with their own plans.

The eldest wants to stay in bed even longer than me...finally (she was always an early riser), the youngest is quite happy occupying herself, responsibly, with no need of adult assistance or intervention.

As a family we do things throughout the holidays, go places and see things, but we are all fairly relaxed and tend to do it at our own pace.

But now that has all come to an end, I have the tired achy head of someone whose sleep patterns have been disrupted.

This is me, and what my head feels like when I'm trying to get to sleep, but my face is usually more grumpy looking


I have never been great at getting to sleep, once I am asleep, however, I am the proverbial log.

Currently, I am getting to sleep somewhere after 2am and getting up at about 7am - I do not function well on 5 or less hours sleep, I need at least 8 hours if not more.

When I try to get to sleep my head decides to have a discussion with me about all the things I need to do as soon as possible.

My head decides everything is way more urgent than it really is, and if there is anything where there might be the slightest bit of confrontation, it decides I should try and work out the endless possible ways that conversation may go.

At 2am I hate my head.

So I am tired. I know that I will adapt and start getting to sleep earlier as term progresses, but that doesn't stop my nocturnal desire to stay up late, nor does it stop naughty me wanting a glass of wine on a school night.

Of course I know all the tricks, I rarely have coffee after 6pm, I know some great relaxation techniques, I read, I try not to have electronic devices in the bedroom (although I do love a game of 40 thieves on the tablet before going to sleep), I have even been known to count sheep. But my head knows my tricks and is currently taking no notice. Rubbish.

Today, I am trying not to nap in the hope that will help me sleep later.  Wish me luck.






Monday, 4 September 2017

A 4 Minute Warning



North Korea, last year and yesterday, stated, they had successfully carried out nuclear missile tests. In response, James Mattis, Pentagon Chief in the USA, has said that any threat to the US or its allies (that's us) will be met with a ' massive military response'.

Shit.

I grew up during the cold war. I have a healthy fear of nuclear war. I am sure you do too.
  • 4 minute warnings
  • Mattresses over windows 
  • Paint your windows white (because white paint is well known to be able to stop the melty skin affects of a nuclear bomb)
  • Nail your windows shut - because 4 minutes is more than adequate time to do this for all the windows in an average house or flat
  • Similarly, stand in doorway, as if there was an earth quake
  • Put newspaper over your windows... again - see point two 
 None of the above are effective ways to minimise the impact of radiation or likely death from exposure to nuclear radiation. And, what is this obsession with windows, windows are just glass. Lets face facts, glass will not protect us.

4 minutes is a nonsense, 4 minutes will not save you. if a nuclear bomb goes off within 50 miles of you, you are pretty much f**ked.

There is the choice of a quick death or a radiation fueled slow death.

This is a map of London if it had a nuclear bomb dropped on it,
 
Nukemap shows the destruction that would be wrought if a bomb the size of the USSR's 'tsar bomba', tested in 1961, was dropped on London
All of the yellow area are likely to suffer a slow unpleasant death impacted by radiation - or the people will have a long term impact from radiation, affecting their children, the environment etc

Imagine if 4 bombs were dropped evenly across the UK.

I think, the combination of Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump are a lethal combination. I  think the UK is in the middle of this, as one of Trumps allies, we are seriously at risk.

We are twice the size of North Korea; if I was a mad, power crazed, leader I would think 'who should I nuke to show that I really mean it... I know... someone twice our size... and slightly less willing to nuke us back.... Hello, the United Kingdom...'

North Korea is 46,540.8 mi²
United Kingdom is  93,627.8 mi²

 And once again...

Shit...

What is the solution to this?

If I was 18 again I would probably rejoin CND. I would protest loudly outside the houses of parliament and try to 'ban the bomb'

Now, the world is less black and white.

Now, if I had any kind of political power, I would disassociate us (the United Kingdom) from Trump, Kim Jong-Ho and anybody else stupid enough to get involved in this. And take our selves out of the equation.

I would loudly remind everyone of the likelihood of  mutually assured destruction* and recommend politely that we all put our big guns back in our trousers, and go about our business.

I thank you. 

*Mutual assured destruction or mutually assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender (see pre-emptive nuclear strike and second strike).[1] It is based on the theory of deterrence, which holds that the threat of using strong weapons against the enemy prevents the enemy's use of those same weapons. The strategy is a form of Nash equilibrium in which, once armed, neither side has any incentive to initiate a conflict or to disarm.

Here endeth my thoughts on the imminent use of nuclear warheads.

Its a No from me. 


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