Friday, 17 November 2017

Fifteen


Heather - Nearly Fifteen


My daughter is fifteen, tomorrow...FIFTEEN! Bloody hell, how did that happen? Where did the time go.

She is an incredible girl, full of plans and idea's, realistic, caring, sensible and crazy, beautiful and amazing.

I am quite proud of our relationship compared to the one I had with my Mum.

My Mum and I were very different people and clashed all the time, even as adults, even though I had a huge amount of respect for her. When I was fifteen, we hardly spoke and she annoyed me SO much.

I have a lasting memory of being fifteen and full of rage. It was probably hormones. But, my Mum and I spent the most of my fifteenth year arguing.

I don't think it will be like that with my daughter. We get on well, she handles her rage much better than I did and takes herself off to her room if she is moody as she likes to be alone.

We talk about stuff, we like similar things on the telly, we went to the cinema together earlier this week, just me and her as we both wanted to see the same film.

I don't know how this happened but it's lovely. 

I have written this for her.

Fifteen


When I was fifteen, I cut my own hair
I wore make up and didn’t care
When I was fifteen,
I stole, the heart
Of a boy, who was a man
Eighteen but a boy.
When I was fifteen, I knew my escape
Plan, I had to cram
I had to pass my exams
It was London for me
When I was 15 I knew everything
And nothing, my ambition was clear
It was black and white
The world and my Mum
Didn’t know
I was amazing, me
When I was fifteen

My girl is fifteen
She has cut her own hair
Wears make up, and doesn’t care
Whose heart she breaks
Before she escapes
Far away from me
She plans and crams
Ready for her exams
The world is grey, but she is clear
The world is just waiting
For her to be amazing
My girl is fifteen
Better than me

Monday, 13 November 2017

Modelling, at 50, Yes Please!

 

For my fiftieth birthday party, my daughters and I had dresses made, by Curious Co Co (my daughters) and The Couture Company (me).

These companies work together in Digbeth, Birmingham, making alternative wedding dresses.

Now, I realise I wasn't getting married again, but when I did get married, my dress was off the shelf and it was a budget affair.

For my birthday I wanted to splash out, and have the lovely bonding experience of going to have dress fittings with my daughters, I have talked more about that here.

Anyway, every year, the companies that made our dresses run the The Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza for people who want to have a more alternative wedding. There are lots of stalls where you can buy beautiful and unusual things, as well as the wedding stuff, and food stalls, it's a great event.

They also have a number of parade's which are Mardi Gras in style, where brides, and people like me and my girls wear our dresses and parade through the event lead by a brass band playing modern music. It's lots of fun and the girls loved it. They did it on, both, Saturday and Sunday and I did it just on Sunday.

But who'd have thunk it? Short stumpy me (with my giant bazooka's) modelling at 50. I am literally loving life!

Here's some photo's from the two days. 







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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Remembering the Women of War


My Gran, as I remember her, holding me at my Christening.
War is awful. Fact. And today we remember the soldiers who fought in the many wars, and kept our country, our country,(in the most part) democratic, multicultural, accepting and beautiful.
But today I want to talk about two women in my family who did other things to support the war effort.
My Gran, before she was married was a nurse during WW1. I know she worked with the wounded soldiers, because of this, see below.

I found this hand written note when clearing out my Mum's house, it's just on a scrap of paper, but how lovely that the wounded soldiers  appreciated her enough to write it.
I can't imagine what my Gran saw during WW1, but I know she must of done a good job.
She was a strong practical woman who was always smiling and always had time for you, perfect for the job of nurse. I am incredibly proud of her. She never mentioned her work during the war when she was alive, and my Mum, didn't either so I don't know how it affected her. I wish I'd known, when she was alive, what she did during the war, so I could talk to her about it, but I was a child when she died.
I can't find an earlier picture than this, it is about 10 years after WW1
My fathers two single sisters were 'encouraged' to go to dances to raise the morale of the Canadian soldiers who where stationed near by during WW2. I have the tickets my Aunts kept. From what I have heard, these were very 'jolly' affairs and they both enjoyed it.

One of the sisters, Monica, fell in love with one of these soldiers.
After this, the information is hazy as people didn't talk about emotions then.
Something went wrong, maybe he was stationed somewhere else, maybe he was sent to the front, maybe he died. I don't know.

She became very upset, suicidal. She tried to throw herself in the river.

As a result, she was hospitalised, and treated with electric shock therapy. She may have had a lobotomy, I'm not sure.
Monica, before she was hospitalised


She was never quite right after that, she never married, and was not allowed to be left alone with my brother and I when we were small.

She lived with her mother until her mother died and then in sheltered accommodation, and died alone, a couple of years after that.

She was a victim of the war.


Monica, after she was hospitalised.
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Friday, 10 November 2017

Pom Pom's in Six Easy Steps

Today, I have mostly been remembering how to make pom pom's.

This is something my Mum taught me to do years and years ago, so it's been a bit of trial and error, but now I've got it and I thought I'd share it with you.

So, if you're thinking a pom pom garland for Christmas might be nice (which is what I'm going to do), here is how to make them, in six easy steps.

You will need:
Wool
Scissors (a large pair and a small pair)
A Pencil
Cardboard
A Glass
A Coin 


Step One

Get a glass and a coin, the size of the glass determines how big your pom pom will be and the size of the coin determines how fluffy, the bigger the hole in the middle the more fluffy it will be.

Draw around the glass on the cardboard, and then put the coin in the middle of the circle you have made, and draw around that. Like this. Then cut it out.
Step Two

Using the first circle as a template draw around and cut out an identical template so that you have two the same. When you cut out the first template you can make a small cut out to get to the smaller hole. This will also make winding the wool easier.  See below.


Step Three

Start to wind the wool

Keep winding



When the hole in the middle is really small, you can stop winding.

Step Four

Take a small sharp pair of scissors and cut down the middle of the two pieces of cardboard. Like this.

Be careful not to let go of the cardboard I usually hold it like below when cutting, otherwise you end up with lots of short strands of wool that can't be corralled back into a pom pom shape. This bit is fiddly but if you are careful definitely do-able.


Step Five

Tie your pom pom, take a piece of wool and wrap it between the two pieces of cardboard, like below. then tighten and knot. I would repeat this, just to be on the safe side.

Step Six


Fluff and trim. If you are like me, you won't have a perfectly round pom pom after you fluff it,  so you may need to trim it to round it up. Once you have done this you are all finished.

After you get the hang of this, each pom pom will take you about 10 to 15 minutes depending on size.

Here's some I made earlier....sorry, couldn't resist.

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Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Is it just, a being an adult thing?

Do you remember the feeling of being bored?

I was thinking about this today, when I briefly thought about taking a long bath and reading my book.

Because that was what I used to do when I was bored.




This was prior to having kids.

Now I shower, if I have time, on a good day with a following wind.

Mostly, I just maintain a reasonable level of cleanliness, and get on with my day.

I used to love long leisurely baths, always too hot, with smellies, candles and a book. Bliss.

I would love to feel bored, even if it was just for 5 minutes, I think the time is coming, the kids are getting older, they need less constant attention, but I still have lists of things to do.

What if the lists continue after the kids become adults and it's just a 'being an adult thing'?

Well, that would be rubbish.

My current BIG THING, that I must remember, is to make the kids sandwiches, lately it has just been going out of my head. One night, recently, I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered I hadn't done it and so had to get out of bed to do it. As you do.

I hate making the sandwiches, it's so dull and the kids like dull sandwiches, and however much I try to suggest something new, maybe with something green inside the sandwich as well as meat. The reaction is as if I had asked them to eat roasted cat. Ugh.

My lists have standard permanent members which are pretty much always on the list.

Cleaning
Gardening
Water Plants
Clean Cat bowls
Write more
DO TAX RETURN

Then you have the less basic list and the more convoluted stuff. For example,

Buy Tara's present
Wrap up Heather's present
Write to Aviva
Call Scottish Power
Find out about oil painting cleaning
Power of Attorney
Think about Christmas
Make pom pom's
Charity shop

The combination of both usually appear in my diary on a weekly basis. I rarely complete my list.

I usually do about 60% of my list, whilst also doing some displacement activities, which probably also need doing, just not now, this minute.

Oh to be bored. Oh to wonder, shall I read my book, watch TV, play a game on my tablet? Then not feel guilty because you have a behemoth of a list hanging over you, enveloping you and swallowing you up.

Oh, to have that bath.

Now I need to make sandwiches.

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Would you throw your Photographs in the Bin?

I don't know about you, but I am in a bit of a debate with myself about my photographs.

I am somebody who always had a camera in my hand.

As a result, I have loads of photo's, all in albums, taking up a vast amount of space.

My husband has already digitised all our CD's. Admittedly it was a bit odd just getting rid of 100's of CD's, but now it has been done a while, I don't miss them.

So do I scan all my pictures in (this would be a mammoth task) and then bin all the photo's or do I scan them and remove them from the albums and just box them up to save space.

Having just cleared my parents house and having paid a fortune to digitise slides and cine film I am thinking the best option is to scan and bin.  This is largely because I was not thinking happy thoughts about my parents when I was paying out over a £1000 for the digitising.

The other thing to consider, now I only take digital pictures, I rarely print them, unless it's for the family Christmas cards or yearly calendars and I need them digitised for that anyway.

The dichotomy is my books, I have loads of them, I have a massive bookcase in my living room and more upstairs. I have no plans to get rid of them. They take up more space than my photo albums. Why are they different?

The massive bookcase.
My photo's hold memories, they should be more special surely?

Gah...I am stuffed.

What have you done? Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Brief History of my Cats and Me

I have just checked, and I have talked about my cats quite a few times on this blog.

I declared I wasn't a mad cat lady here. I talked about cats in the Gallery over at Sticky Fingers blog here. 
And I talked about the Legend of Lister here.

So maybe I am a mad cat lady after all. Anyhoo...

Lister with his Hitler moustache
I have talked about how I always get cats from the RSPCA, how I don't like the owners of posh cats, I have talked about my last three cats quite a lot.

Well now I have a new kitten, and he has made me reflect. I haven't had a new kitten for years and years, since I was 22 in fact.

So, lets start at the beginning. First there was Tigger (we are big Winnie the Pooh fans in our family). Here he is, with me, we are watching TV, obvs.

Please ignore the outfit, it was the 1970's.
My parents got Tigger about 6 months before I arrived. He was a grumpy cat, he once took a massive chunk out of my Grannies leg when she made the mistake of trying to be too friendly.

He was a mouser. As we had chickens we had chicken food and mice like chicken food, so he had a job.

As I recall he was quite good at this, but he did like to release live mice in the house, that was always fun, trying to catch them.

He died when I and he, was 15 or 16, he got run over on the main road next to our house (history repeated itself , with our cats on that road, on a number of occasions).

After that we got Smudge. Here she is, with me when she was still a kitten.
Please ignore the hair this was the eighties and I was going through a punk phase, no wonder they wouldn't let me be a prefect!


I remember she had one set of kittens and then Mum had her 'done', after that I can't really remember what happened or how she died. My best guess is the road got her. So a couple of years after this was taken we were cat less again which was far from ideal.

I was going to college, and I was concerned Mum would miss me, and without a cat as well, she literally would be wondering around not knowing what to do. This shows how little I knew my Mum at this point. Anyway, I conjured up a plan to get my Mum another cat, I knew she liked ginger cats best and thought male cats were better mousers, so I found a ginger kitten at my friends farm.
His name was Marmalade, here he is, on his own (thank goodness,these old pics of me are awful).

BTW, I haven't mentioned my Dad as he was convinced all the cats were out to get him, as they slept on the stairs and had murderous intent. He hated cats. Still does. 

He always looked a bit angry.

Around this time I went to university and for three years I had no cat. I promised myself the first thing I would do when I got a job was to find a place to live where I could have a cat. So I did.

This is Cluedo, he came from the same farm as Marmalade and was probably a relation, he travelled from Shrewsbury to London on the train with me.

Whenever, I went to Shrewsbury to visit, he came with me, he quite liked travelling and took going on the train completely in his big ginger stride.
OK, look it was the early 90's this look was totally acceptable then.
He was a lovely good natured cat, but I decided he needed company. So I went to Battersea Dogs Home, where they had rescued dogs and cats. Here I got Scrabble. (I was really into board games at this time).
Here is Scrabble, quite fat at this point
 When I got her, she was very thin and scared. She remained a scaredy-cat her whole life but decided to eat her problems and got very very fat. She was also my first black cat. She was also a bit stupid.

She would come to Shrewsbury with me, one of the times we were there she decided to leap out of a third floor window. I have no idea why she did this, she wasn't scared or shocked at that particular point. But she survived and had no injuries, maybe it was a suicide attempt, I don't know. But she was one of her nine lives down after that.

After a while, my time in London was over (I split up with my boyfriend and moved home), Cluedo and Scrabble came with me. For a short time I moved back in with my Mum and Dad, Cluedo loved it there, there was a big garden, and fields near by, but it was soon time for me to move out into a flat. I left Cluedo there and took Scrabble with me.
Cluedo helping Mum with the laundry

After that, it was me and Scrabble for a while. Then a friend and another flatmate moved in, they both got kittens. My friend had Rufus the Red (another ginger cat), the other flat mate had Lister.

When I moved out of my flat, to buy my first house, Scrabble, my friend, Rufus the Red and Lister all moved in with me. The other flat mate didn't want Lister any more as her new boyfriend didn't like him.
Rufus the Red


So there I was, single, with 3 cats in my first house even though two of them weren't officially mine.

Miraculously, I did find a boyfriend, even under these circumstances, and decided to move to Birmingham. My friend moved out, I sold my lovely first home and Scrabble, Lister, the boyfriend and I moved, to Oldbury.

Sadly, this was the last place Scrabble would move to with me.

It was here that I ended up taking on two additional cats, a friend of my boyfriends was moving from a house to a flat with no garden, so I ended up with Pushkin and Fred as well.

Our friend Dave with Pushkin

 So I had four cats. But not for long. Fred was already blind when I got him, so he ended up trying to cross the road and getting run over, then Scrabble's behaviour became exceptionally erratic and she wasn't doing well. After seeking advice from both the RSPCA and a vet they agreed she needed to be put to sleep. And finally, Pushkin, became very ill and had to be put to sleep.

All of this happened in the space of 6 months, at a point when when my relationship was breaking down with the current boyfriend. It was awful.

Lister became the one constant. The boyfriend moved out and I was single again for a bit.

Eventually, I ended up with the current Mr MuddyNoSugar and have been with him ever since. We both had houses, we sold both and moved to the other side of Birmingham, with Lister, in October 2000.

Lister was hit by a car and broke his back on the 20th October 2006, my birthday, and 5 weeks after the birth of my second daughter. I took my broken cat and breast feeding baby to the Vet that evening, the Vet gave him pain killers, although he didn't think he was in any pain. Lister passed away overnight.

I was devastated, he had been with me for 13 years, we had been together through boyfriends, a particularly nasty break up, the birth of both my daughters, Pushkin, Scrabble, Fred, Cluedo, Rufus the Red, and through 5 house moves.

It took me until February the next year before we got Tao. He was such a handsome boy.
Tao
He was named by the RSPCA, and we chose him because there were a number of black cats there that day and the people at the RSPCA said that they had trouble homing black cats as people are superstitious...how stupid are people.

We had Tao nearly nine years, he got a cancer on his face, we had it removed but it spread, eventually we lost him at the beginning of this year.

Tao was quite an aloof cat and I missed having a lap cat that could give me lots of love, so around five years in to having Tao we got Millie the Blue Cat. She looks like she's a posh breed, but she's not she's just another moggie.

She was 3 when we got her,  she was another scaredy-cat. I don't know what happened to her, it took a lot of coaxing and love to get her to trust us, but she was always nervy.

Millie
She would only come for love if you were sitting down, she didn't like to be lifted or carried.
But overall she was fine, then in April of this year an un-neutered cat kept coming in through the cat flap and stinking up the place. So we decided to get one of those catflaps which work with the cats chip.
Millie hated it, she refused to come in through it, and would only go out through it if we closed the door.

Suddenly she just didn't want to be in. She felt trapped.

I have tried treats, strapping the cat flap open, everything.
But over the last few months she has become an out door cat. I have had to give into it, because if I try to force her into anything it just upsets her more.

If you go outside, and sit down she will still come for lots of love. So I make sure I do that. Lots.

I have even brought her a cat kennel (I didn't even know they were even a thing until this) and she uses it, it's right by the backdoor where she is fed, and she seems well and content. Which is all you can hope for, and she is never far away.

Tonight I am worried as there are fireworks going off everywhere and I would much rather she was in, but I know she has a number of safe places in the garden she can go, so I just have to hope she is OK.

But now, I have no cat that sits on my lap whilst I watch TV, who I can stroke and be soothed by.  I may have mentioned this quite a bit to friends and family.

So for my birthday one of my best friends, bought me a kitten. Not just any kitten, but a posh kitten, a three quarters, ragdoll and one quarter siamese kitten.

We called him August Woodstock Langan, or Gus for short. Here he is...
August Woodstock Langan
He is August for the month he was born, he is Woodstock because the first Woodstock was on the 15th August and Gus was born on the 15th August. And as he is posh, I thought I'd better give him a posh name.

Gus is wonderful. Loving, playful, daft. He has just found his purr. He is chatty, which is probably the Siamese side of him coming out, he meows as he goes to the toilet - it's nice to be kept informed.

He is everything I wanted, I am quietly hoping that he will get Millie in, that she will see him going in and out of the cat flap and she will follow suit.

They have met and she seems completely un-phased by him. I have everything crossed for the future for these two cats. I can only hope that they both live long lives with me.

Just as a footnote, both Marmalade and Cluedo fell victim to the road. After that Mum had one last ginger cat called Tuppence. He lived until about six months before Mum died, he died of natural causes at home.

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Friday, 3 November 2017

It's time to talk about Christmas - Yay.

Halloween is done and dusted. Now we can officially think and talk about Christmas, with out too many sneers from the Grinches out there. Yay.

I love Christmas, it is my favourite time of the year, I like the food, the drink, the wrapping up warm, the giving and receiving of presents, the smells, the lot. I am a Christmas fan.

At the moment I have been buying new Christmas decorations (just for the record, before I really get into this, this is not a sponsored post, just stuff I like).

I was at Dobbies Garden Centre yesterday in Shrewsbury, and their Christmas stuff is gorgeous.

I got this locket style heart for £5.99, which I can put a little chocolate in to make it even more special. I brought two, one for each of my girls as I get them a Christmas decoration for the tree every year (you have to have one or two Christmas traditions).





I got a beautiful wooden decoration for just £1.49 and this glass bird, I can't remember the price of the bird but is was definitely under a fiver.


I got this other decoration, which to be honest could be up all year round (It is already up in my house) for £1.99.


I got some very beautiful decorations from The White Company, more expensive but you can usually get at least 15% off with one of their vouchers which are available in most magazines.
I love the ones in the jar, because you could use the jar for something as well - maybe some fairy lights?
These are £22.00 for a set

These are £15.00

The last thing I have bought are a couple of these absolutely massive colourful baubles from John Lewis, they are £5.00 each.



Anyway, that's the start of Christmas done, now it's time to work out what other Christmas presents I need to buy and what's going on the Christmas playlist this year. Decisions, decisions... 

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