Monthly Archives: October 2014

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There’s nothing like catching up with friends to make you smile, whether it’s a letter or postcard, a phone call or answer phone message, a text, a tweet, a comment on FB or a popping in.  I’m 45 and have accumulated a vast array of friends and contacts throughout my four and a half decades but I can’t possibly keep in touch with everyone all at the same time, but it doesn’t mean I am not thinking of them.  Far from it!

This week I am having supper with a friend who I’ve not seen for ages – I can’t remember the last time I saw her, I think it was July 2013 which is madness as she lives in Sunningdale and I live in Wokingham.  There’s not a vast amount of miles but she works full time, has a busy social life with lots of interests and I have a busy life, a husband who works wonky hours and three children whose diary needs military precision, not to mention my housework avoidance and a busy life.  It will be fun – we will catch up on all the news, chat about everything, eat and drink and then say we must do that again soon.  However soon that might be.

At the weekend I am having lunch with a college friend.  We met when we were 17 at secretarial college and lived in the same house for a term, she then moved out but we saw each other every day for our lessons.  We both left college we went our separate ways, we saw each other lots during the 21st year of parties and then lost touch until we got back in touch whilst working in the City.  Shortly after that she moved to Wales and despite all my Welsh journeys our worlds didn’t collide!  All those times I had gone to Wales and I never got to see her, we lost touch again but then hurrah she was on Twitter and Facebook and the lines of communication were open again.  It’s going to be so strange catching up with her after 20 years or so but it will be fun and as we enter a new chapter in our friendship we will have much to talk about!

This morning I spoke to a friend who said she would hope to pop in over half term but it’s going to be manic but it doesn’t mean we’re not thinking of each other.  I think of my friends on a daily basis.  When I look at Facebook or Twitter I see something and think I will comment on it when I get the chance, when I look at my diary and see a birthday is coming up I will write a card and pop it in the post, if I miss a birthday I will drop a note to say I am a rubbish friend but I was thinking of you.  Friends share their lives with people in so many different ways these days, I look at Instagram and Pinterest as postcards nowadays.  That’s acceptable because we all have busy lives and sometimes there isn’t the chance to drop everything and dash off on a whim.

I also spoke to someone who has had some negativity from someone else who because she hasn’t picked up the phone and made contact.  Oh friendship you fickle beast.  Who’s responsibility is it to make the first move?  Who is on the moral high ground because they are the ones to always pick up the phone.  Sometimes I feel that I am doing all the running but some friends appreciate this because they know that I will get in touch, some I don’t make the effort with as much as others.  It doesn’t make me a bad person though.  If I had all day to be sociable with everyone in my world I would have no time to do those things that I need to do.

Last year a friend got in touch and told us the devastating news that she had a brain tumour, what followed was months of catching up, making memories and ensuring that she would never be forgotten.  It didn’t matter to her that we had not seen here when she was visiting her family in the UK, it didn’t worry us that we would be catching up with people that we had lost contact with because we had the foundations of firm friendship and friends shouldn’t bear grudges that someone hasn’t picked up the phone.

I’m feeling sad today to hear that Lynda Bellingham has died.  Like my late father she had bowel cancer and like Charch she gave up treatment.  What she did do in her last few months was get people talking, people commented on blogs and posts, we told our children about the nation’s favourite mother who was there for us with her gravy adverts, the wife of the vet we all loved in All Creatures Great and Small, the hilarious woman who graced our screens and latterly the brave and courageous woman who chose to share her decision with the world.  She leaves behind family and friends.

What are you waiting for?  Don’t delay.  Why don’t you pick up the phone or put pen to paper with a friend you’ve been meaning to call if only to say hello.

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Monday Monday

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Here we go again, just another manic Monday – I wish it was Sunday. But don’t worry, be happy as it’s only a 4 day week of working 9-5 and I’m really looking forward to the weekend, infact I’ve got so much going on I’m saving all my love for Thursday

First up is breakfast and the girls are a bit slow at choosing their cereal, which leads me to get a bit dance yourself dizzy whilst they are making their mind up! When they do choose I do a Honaloochie Boogie and they get a bit fed up with me. We can dance where we want and I won’t be glared at by my children! Then Big Welsh is out the door, my baby takes the morning train, he works from 9-5 and then comes home to Our House, in the middle of our street.

Before too long I shout at all the young dudes to get their handbags and glad rags and it’s time to hit the road Jack, quick check of the weather and phew it’s Mr Blue Sky, thankfully as rainy days and Mondays always bring me down, but I do look at both sides now – last thing anyone needs is Road Rage. They’re dropped off one by one and I will miss them, they’re growing so fast it’s like they’re slipping through my fingers. Still it’s home to clean up after the pretty things, don’t they know they’re driving their mamas and papas insane with their mess? I get the Sebo out. I want to break free. First it’s coffee and then I can rule the world, everybody wants to rule the world.

A friend rings and wants to meet for lunch, I desperately want to go but I’ve got things to do, basically I just don’t know what to do with myself, but I go as she wants to talk and despite not having long I tell her that when it all goes wrong all she has to do is Call me and I’ll come running to see her again.

The journey home is down to choice as it’s either 2 4 6 8 Motorway or I get the car to take me home country roads, I don’t mind either way as I’ve got plenty of music to listen to, music is my first love and it will be the last, each song has a memory – basically they’re songs of love.

All too soon it’s school run and to be honest it’s the closest thing to crazy, the day has run like the wind and my darlings all appear looking So tired but with bright eyes (much like my Father’s Eyes) when I tell them that Mr Postman did wait a minute and there’s some brown paper packages tied up with string at home for them! After that they’re on top of the world.

I take a look in the book bag and the art resembles match stick men and match stick cats & dogs, all her own work! Then it’s supper and I can’t feed them on bread and alcohol so I must make something, sometimes life is a minestrone. Before too long Big Welsh appears and asks what is there to eat so I hand him a slice of Bread of Heaven and he’s happy, after a busy day he must be hungry like the wolf.

My kitchen looks like a bomb site. If a picture paints a thousand words and all that! The dog has been nothing but a hound dog, he’s becoming more like Alfie and when I open the door I shout step inside love. He complies.

Right it’s supper and they like how I make gravy, I know it because they all say oooh baby I love your way, then a little bit of telly and bed. I know it’s time for sleep as it’s midnight, not a sound from the pavement so all I need to do is dream a little dream.

When I wake up it’ll be Ruby Tuesday.

Hello ….. I’m me …..

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It seems that everyone is crazy about George Clooney. He got married. His wife is a lawyer. They’ve bought a house in Sonning. She’s taken his surname. That final sentence is making me LOL and I never really LOL as a) it means lots of love and b) when I laugh out loud I laugh out loud and I don’t abbreviate, I don’t LOL.

I love my maiden name, my father’s family all have the same surname and it is special, so when I got married I toyed with the idea of keeping it for ever. Being double barrelled it was also a mouthful and often misspelt which used to drive me mad as it was my name and I would have to spell it. Spelling a surname with 15 letters takes time. I was still going to use it for work, my bank account was in my maiden name and it would be such a faff to change everything over. Besides my brother might have given me away but there was nowhere that said I had to take on my husband’s surname.

But I did. Eventually. When the insurance renewals arrived it seemed a good time to update them with my married name, I opened a bank account with my married name, our holiday insurance was apparently only valid if the name on the card was the same as the name of the person traveling and the name on the passport had to tally. It all became too complicated.

What I didn’t do was lose my identify. As well as being Nellie Nell, daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, friend, I’m also Big Welsh’s wife, when the children arrived I became Loops’, Mook’s or Laree’s mum, when the dog appeared I was known as Arthur’s owner but I was still me, just me with a shorter surname.

And do you know what? I’m sometimes introduced by my maiden name and I gently correct them, it makes no difference to me. I know who I am. I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses, I bang my own drum!

Roads and their meanings

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I’ve had this raging sore throat for a while and it’s been bugging me.  One of the nice things about Twitter is that when someone says they don’t feel well then everyone offers some kind of remedy, cure or support.  This morning I saw that Mummy Barrow had coughed up a lung which prompted me to ask if she was on the Road to Recovery, saying that I was on the Avenue of Alright.  

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Well it made me laugh.  I then thought about road names, had a quick cup of coffee and lured into research, before coming up with a few that could possibly relate to everyday moods and journeys.

The Avenue of Alright is basically the middle of the road, an alright kind of place.  Nothing special but nothing fantastic.

The Road to Recovery is for all kinds of getting there, like a main road, though it sort of limps alongs slowly.

The Grove of Great is a sunny kind of road and is curved with 2 ways in and out, meaning that you can glide in when you’re feeling any kind of mood!

The Close of Calm is often found just off Road to Recovery and Avenue of Alright, a holding bay before the Street of Strength which is a road that will prepare you for the Hill of Heaviness which when you reach the top is also called the Hill of Happiness. From the top of the Hill of Happiness you can see everything and everyone.

The Lane of Love is the warm fuzzy road at the end of the day, when the day is done and you can flop into your comfort zone and wind down (or wine down) with your loved ones.

The Boulevard of Dreams is the sleepy part of the day, a warm cosy stretch which can happen at any time of the day.

The Freeway of Friends is the sociable road type!

A Byway of Bimbling is a funny little road, often unadopted but well used when all other roads are busy and you want to get away.

The Cul de sac of chaos is where everyone goes to turn round when all the other roads are busy.

The Route is school run road. The Route of Routine/Repetition.

Then of course there’s all the other roads like Turnpike which is where the fish turn?  The Auto-Estrada which is Erik Estrada’s driveway and of course the Motorway of Doom which is currently the M4.

Finally there’s the Multi Modal which is a newer concept with lanes for different classes of traffic, where we all aim to be and whatever route we take we’ve got a story to tell!

What kind of road are you on today?

Rage

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Well when I say raging I don’t mean a full on green skin, clothes ripping kind of anger it’s more of a mildly irritated but rage sounds much more dramatic!!  The good thing is that as soon as I have voiced my irritations I calm down, maybe because I feel I am passing the rage baton onto someone else and I can go off and make coffee thereby reducing my rage factor.

This morning I felt a bit raged after a friend said she had left her 16 year old son in a man’s ward because he’s now an adult.  He might be classed as an adult in a hospital ward but he’s still a child in his mum’s eyes and he can’t do a number of adult things like vote, drive a car, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes.  You can buy a pet though (that’s a statement not a full on yeah go and buy any number of pets before my 16 year old decides that I am infact giving her carte blanche to fill the house with pets I don’t want).  This reminded me of my annoyance at children being measured as they go into restaurants.  Now my children have been tall for their age for ages thanks to Big Welsh being 6′ 4″ and to be told at 11 that you are too tall to be a child and must therefore pay adult prices for a Chinese buffet is irritating.  I did take this up with Trading Standards and they said that restaurants can and do this, it’s at their discretion and basically it’s no different to a licensed premises refusing to serve someone who hasn’t got ID.  My point is she didn’t need ID and there’s nowhere that says “you don’t have to prove how old you are because we will measure you and if you are tall then we will assume you are over 14”.

This morning one of my charming children was making sure she had completed started her homework which involved sentences using verbs, adverbs, connectives, nouns and pronouns.  We use them all the time but up against the clock and her stressing that she hadn’t finished started it was bringing a new strand of rage.  That was before we even started on the 8x table!  Then one of them said that she hadn’t bought her train ticket and needed to leave earlier in order to do so.  That wasn’t a real rage but she can’t buy a season ticket as it’s not cost effective and despite being 16 and a student there are no reduced rates for train tickets, but she’s not an adult!  That wasn’t too bad to have 2 out of 3 creating rage like material.

As it’s raining everyone gets thrown into a panic.  Our house is on a straight bit of road between 2 bends so cars hurtle around the corners and don’t think for one minute that there may be cars parked on the road and you can sense their rage when they have to stop to allow a car to carry on its way.  At the end of the road the hedging is overgrown and so you can’t see to get out until you are practically in the path of the traffic.  Note to self – phone council.  The journey wasn’t too bad until reaching the station where the main entrance is closed and the level crossing does its thing.  Why do motorists think it’s ok to clog up the traffic whilst dropping someone off in dense traffic?  As for those idiots who gamble with the level crossing.  Phew child delivered to station and with enough time to get a ticket.  Oh hold on!  The new traffic lights despite being bright and shiny with 3 distinct colours indicating what motorists should do and shouldn’t do don’t seem to work as some drivers would rather nudge forward an inch rather than wait their turn.  So whilst queuing I beeped my horn at some driver who was on their phone and she glared at me as if I was in the wrong.  Phew child number 2 dropped off.

Then it was off to join the rest of the traffic and despite the signs and masses of social media some people failed to see the road was closed and they got into a panic.  If you’re familiar with Wokingham traffic you will know that London Road into the one way system is a panic area, some  cars need to switch lanes to carry on down Peach Street and do so just by simply stopping by the Ship, whilst others nudge forward and then get into a state when they can’t get into Cross Street.

The it’s down past the fire station and people sit on the zig zags, that really irritates me. Oh yes and the cyclist who was cycling on the road and then decided to go on the pavement at the pedestrian crossing or the cyclist who was on the pavement and then hurtled through the children on the crossing.

But it’s not all bad, because all children are safely at school and I do some of the journey in reverse and I can look forward to a cup of coffee when I get home.  Only to find out that the milk has run out.  All the other rages of the day then pale into insignificance after that!

Of course the rage list is not exhaustive but it’s incredibly tiring and I’ll add some more in for good measure like the telly on in empty room, apple core in mug, dirty dishes put on the clean side, dishwasher not being emptied or refilled, towels on the floor, cold callers (don’t start me on that!), dog nosing around in bin bag, loud music in one room for everyone to enjoy, no lids on shampoo and many many more!

I can tell you’re thinking wow she’s a grumpy old mare but in all honesty the above is just irritation and anyway I’ve got milk now and am enjoying a coffee!

What’s on your rage list?

Proud and emotional – Gareth Thomas at Henley Literary Festival

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I’m not Welsh. I’m married to a Valleys boy, my girls are more Welsh than English (even more so when England are playing rugby against anyone), my surname is Welsh, my maiden name is half Welsh, my dog is Welsh and I go to Wales lots. But I’m not Welsh.

Gareth Thomas is. He’s also proud and emotional and is ever so funny and tall and kind and tidy.

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I went to see him on Saturday being interviewed by Michael Calvin at Henley Literary Festival sponsored by Gower Cottage Brownies and he was utterly utterly charming, gentle and honest. Before he came on stage I turned to Polly and said “I’m going to cry”. He spoke with searing honesty about his life and with every word I felt more proud and emotional, oh yeah and a little tear might have escaped, but only because he was so emotional. He did it first.

We heard about him growing up in South Wales (an area I’ve grown to love since meeting Big Welsh 25 years ago) and the great sense of community (which I’m big on, having spent 5 years in neighbourhood policing) and the fact that rugby runs through the blood of everyone in Wales. When he talked of taking a Welsh rugby shirt and laying it on the wartime captain’s grave I was in bits.

He talked about coming out which prompted a question from the audience from an older lady who said she didn’t like this phrase coming out and could he find a new phrase!

He was questioned about the English rugby team and the Rugby World Cup, he said that he thought England could win. What he didn’t say was whether he would be supporting them!!

He also talked about his work in schools. I would have loved to have delivered an assembly on bullying in my policing days and said “oh look here’s Gareth Thomas to chat to you”.

After the talk he signed his book Proud and I bought a number for him to sign for Christmas presents (organised). Conversation went like this “oh hi this is for my father in law Dai” and Gareth duly signed it. “This is for Dale from Aberystwyth” and again he signed it. “This one is for my husband Andy” to which my new best friend (as yet unconfirmed) said “oh you married a Welsh boy, what’s his surname, where from?”, “oh Merthyr Tydfil, not bang in the middle, no right out by the Mountain Railway, Pant” (standing joke Alan Williams) and he laughed and signed it. I then did that embarrassing mother thing and asked if he’d mind a photo with poorly Mook and he jumped up and put his arm around her and smiled.

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Seriously, if you get the chance to see him at any events then do! Go and see this Welsh rugby legend who served his country proud and shared his story with a captive and welcoming audience. I can’t wait for Big Welsh to open his present so I can read it!!

As I said I’m not Welsh but I’m proud of my Welsh ancestors, my almost Welsh children, those lovely Welsh associations and my Welsh dog.

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Henley Literary Festival with Adele Parks & Anna Hope

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On Tuesday afternoon I crossed the bridge for the Henley Literary Festival and headed to The Kenton Theatre where I listened to Adele Parks and Anna Hope talk about their respective books Spare Brides and Wake, their research and some lovely banter.

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I’ve known Adele for ages and regularly shuffle her books around in displays and suggest people read them (I’m also a little bit biased towards About Last Night because it’s very good and my name is in the back, vain of me I know!). I was lucky enough to read a review copy of Spare Brides and hearing Adele talk about her research gave me goosebumps.

There’s something so lovely about reading a debut novel and hearing Anna talk so passionately about her fascinating journey of research means I’m in for a good read and I can’t wait to get started!

If you missed Adele and Anna and would like to see and hear what I’m talking about then head to Guildford Literary Festival on Tuesday 16 October.

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