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Last night I thought of my role models, those girls and women who have made a positive impact on my life and I’m going to celebrate them on Mothers Day, Mothering Sunday, today, tomorrow, forever …

To L – who made me a mother 

To M & L – who made me a mother of two, then three 

To Dorothy, Clarkie and Mrs A – who made our childhood houses clean and tidy, never really complaining about the mess the children or grandchildren of the house might have made

To Joan and Marjie – two sisters in the village who showed me what companionship in advancing years looked like 

To Mrs B – who babysat and introduced me to Tales of the unexpected and Hammer house of horror

To Granny S – who taught me to cook, enjoy flowers, who listened to my every word, who would give up watching Wimbledon the moment I rang the doorbell 

To Granny P-G – who also taught me to cook, who shared her love of outside, who taught me to knit, who used to enjoy a day trip out just for the sheer hell of a change of scenery 

To Smart Liz – who was more than just Granny’s friend and neighbour to me

To J – my Godmother who told me off for cycling up the slide and who had clearly forgiven me by making my wedding dress years later

To Z, C, S, M, N, J and H – who are quite simply fairy Godmothers 

To my school friends – who will always have a place at my table, I’ll move up to make space not to make you hatch 

To my friends – who have always been there, just there, holding my hand, pushing me forward, giving me strength and courage when it was most needed, who listened, who joined in, who took sides, who protected me from myself at times, who as well as all that and more for being loyal, true, honest and constant

To C – who brought old friends back together and left us too soon

To my mother in law – who has to put up with us popping in and filling the house with inane chatter 

To my mum – who won’t let me forget I kept her waiting all day in the maternity unit

To these people – who have given me so much and taught me more than I can ever appreciate – thank you x

Who would you like to thank? 

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A round up of my favourite candles

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Oh I do love candles!  I have to be very careful with them though as once I thought the candle in the sitting room was a nice woody smell, when I went to investigate it was actually a candle on fire that had burnt the chest of drawers.  After that I regularly nipped the wick!  I tend to light a candle in a warm room as I feel the warmth and scent get lost in a cold room, sometimes I light a candle I am not that fond of first to warm the room up before lighting candles that I do actually like (I know that sounds really odd but it’s what I do!).

Over the years I have probably spent a small fortune on candles only to find that they tunnel, their scent goes or I actually don’t like them that much.  However here are some that I particularly like and will certainly buy again!

The Herb Garden by Gordon Castle

A Scottish herbal scented candle combining rosemary and thyme essential oils from our Walled Garden to soothe the mind and restore the senses. This luxury aromatic candle is a wonderful scent for the home, creating a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere.

This is such a fresh smell and reminiscent of a herb garden that fills the room with scent after it has been blown out.

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The Herb Garden by Gordon Castle http://www.gordoncastlescotland.com

Red currant by Votivo

A savory blend of tart red currants and golden fruit glaze ladled over coarsely ground vanilla bean ice cream and served along side of raspberry filled sugar cookies… the original Red Currant.

So delicious!The packaging in itself is a treat and when the candle is lit the whole room is delicately scented.

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Red currant by Votivo http://www.votivo.co.uk

Inspiritus by St Eval Candle Candle Company

An uplifting blend of aromatic spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

I love this two tone candle and the scent is gorgeous.  It’s a very festive smelling candle and a seasonal item on the website (but that doesn’t deter me).  Not only is it beautiful to look at but warms up any room.

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Inspiritus Gold Dipped Candle http://www.stevalcandlecompany.co.uk

Siberian Fir by Natalie Bond Organics

Enjoy the fresh woody aroma of fir needle with our luxurious small candle. Nathalie Bond candles are 100% natural and are a blend of natural wax and pure essential oils with no added chemical fragrances. Our wax is free from herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified material and our packaging is made from recycled card.

I picked this up from Two Ducks in Woking.  It is in a dinky glass jar and has a gorgeously fresh smell.

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Siberian Fir by Natalie Bond Organics http://www.nathaliebond.com

Morocco from Nirvana Spa

This is a lovely scent which would be ideal for all seasons.  They’ve also got diffusers which I am fond of!  There are also other scents but I prefer this woody and warm one.

Christmas Spice by Lily Flame

Making any room smell divinely festive, this Classic Christmas scent with Its aromatic blend of cinnamon and cloves make it the perfect fragrance for an evening curled up in the cosy warmth of home. This is our most popular Christmas Scent.

Again another festive scent but one that isn’t too heavy so it can be burned at any time of the year.

Lemongrass from Parkminster

A lovely fresh and zesty invigorating unisex scent, perfect for any room in the house.

This pretty little votive with a gorgeous lemongrass scent that packs a subtle punch is another purchase from Two Ducks in Woking.

Don’t forget candle safety and always trim the wick.  If you are going to place them in front of a window be aware that your glass could get spots of candle wax, I only found this out when the window cleaner told me yesterday.  Don’t leave candles unattended (like I did) and do not leave them in a draught.  Discard of the matches safely when you have lit them and don’t what ever you do move a candle that has been lit for a long time as the glass will heat up and you may well burn yourself!

Running with an orange cement mixer

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There I was just glancing out of the window one Sunday afternoon when I saw what I thought was an orange cement mixer being wheeled down the road. On closer inspection it was actually a man running down the road with an orange cement mixer strapped to his back. I will readily admit my first thought was “bonkers” followed by “crikey, why would anyone run with a cement mixer on their back?”. I thought nothing of it until I saw the same orange cement mixer running along Barkham Road a few days later. I did still think “bonkers” as just saying “run” brings me out in a cold sweat! However I noticed the Combat Stress logo on the side and thought “wow that’s a way to get noticed, I wonder what this man’s connection is with Combat Stress”.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I saw something on Facebook which answered all my questions. Being nosy I read on and I felt humbled and will readily admit that this man had restored my faith in human nature. I told my family about this and they said “cool”, “wow” and then forwarded the link to my friend Lizzie who had written about PTSD in her book Who are you?

The following morning I rang Combat Stress and said that I would be interested to chat to Nick about his fundraising and why a bright orange cement mixer. I explained that whilst I am no use to anyone in a running capacity I would happily share his story and fundraising page and help raise awareness. The charity took my details and forwarded them onto Nick who got in touch. Nick sent me an email and chatted so when I asked him for a few words he sent me this

“Thank you for taking the time to call me and chat. As a former soldier I am more than aware of the physical and mental injuries that so many servicemen and women suffer from and in turn the suffering of their family and friends. I am always keen to support a variety of charities and if I ever see anything on any social media asking for sponsorship I will often donate.
 
With so many charities and so many individuals trying to raise money I think we often have to resort to something different that will get the attention of others.  
 
I was born in Wokingham and apart from serving with the British Army have lived here all of my life. I now run my own building company Barkham Homes Limited (I live in Barkham) and was on site one day thinking what could I do for charity that is different, I saw the bricklayers and went to have a look at the cement mixer turning round and round and thought yes, with a few modifications I can carry that!
 
So, 2 years ago to celebrate my 50th birthday I did the Reading half marathon carrying the cement mixer, it took me 2 hrs 22 mins and I raised nearly £4000 for Help for Heroes and the Army Benevolent Fund. At the time I think I said never again but here I am 2 years later and I want to do it just one more time, the last time……..
 
Recently I have been very conscious of the increasing number of ex servicemen and women who are suffering from PTSD, this is no surprise as most of the Army and many of the other services have seen operational service. I have always supported the Royal British Legion, they do a great job but I have not heard much about Combat Stress which is surprising as they have been helping veterans, serving military personnel and their families for 95 years. So, this year I am collecting for them.
 
This year I am sure my race time will be much slower but as long as I complete the course I will be happy. Last time the crowds were fantastic as were all the other runners who gave me plenty of encouragement”.

WOW is what I say! Anyone who runs with an orange cement mixer on their back raising awareness and fundraising for such worthwhile charities surely deserves sponsoring and look here’s the link!

There’s some things I’m good at

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but saying goodbye at the airport isn’t one of them. 

Saying goodbye at the airport whilst not final is one of those things that I tend to get flustered with. This morning my (older than me by 6 days) step sister and my nephew left the UK to return home to Australia. We got up at 5am to leave home at 530, at 545am we headed to the M4 in the dark. 

Checking in and my heart was churning. Bags on the conveyor belt and my heart is in my mouth. As they walked to departures my heart was making my eyes itch. As they walked towards the barriers I was rooted to the spot not daring to breathe. Then all too soon they’ve reached the point of no return and they turn to wave and my emotions got the better of me and my big warm fat tears escaped. 

They turn and wave and I wave. Then they’re gone and I’m in bits.

Airports. Airports reduce me to a crumbling wreck but the days inbetween arrivals and departures have been fun and it won’t be long until we see them again. 

Safe flight Tars and Aaron. We love you. 



Survivor

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Dear friend of many years, mother of gorgeous children, domestic violence and coercive control survivor

Listening to a song on my playlist earlier I stopped and stared out of the window and felt a shiver, then as the song ended and moved onto the next one and I breathed a sigh of relief. The shiver was nothing, nothing at all, compared to what you had gone through all those years ago.

You told me you had met someone who was charming and good looking and ideal and the one. I met him. He was charming, he was good looking, he was arrogant, he was rude, he wasn’t ideal and he certainly wasn’t the one. Well he was the one, the one who belittled you, made you feel worthless and tried to keep you away from your friends. My first thought was he loved you so much he wanted to keep you to himself in the early days, but the early days turned into weeks and you stopped returning my calls immediately like you previously had done and your texts weren’t as daft and batty as they used to be

Maybe our friendship had come to an end, maybe our lives were so different that we’d run our course. But I wasn’t going to give up. I couldn’t. I felt you needed me. My gut instinct about him was strong. I didn’t trust him and I didn’t like him.

I didn’t know what to do all those years ago, I didn’t know who to tell and besides who would take any notice of someone who said I think my friend is a victim of domestic violence because she’s stopped contacting me, never returns my calls and seems unhappy?

Well I didn’t give up caring or worrying and my perseverance paid off. I found an old email and sent you a quick message on the off chance. When I got a reply I was overjoyed. You’d moved. Twice. You were living in the middle of nowhere. We arranged to meet up when you knew he was out. I had never been so scared for myself, but also for you. It was a tense meeting. I wanted to scoop you and the children up and bring you back home. But I didn’t.

You moved again and we arranged to meet up. This time you were different. Stronger. In control. You’d admitted he was no good. He moved out. He was ugly, angry and his behaviour showed how vindictive he was. But you were back. Not the old you, but the signs of the old you were visible.

Now after years away from that evil controlling man you aren’t an absent friend anymore. You’re a survivor and when you sent me a message saying “thank you for standing by and persevering, never giving up on me I will never forget you and what you did” I cried tears of relief.

If you’ve got this far and you’re thinking oh my that sounds familiar, do something, say something. I didn’t know what to do or say but I had to keep lines of communication open. It was only after completing a course on coercive control that I fully understood the enormity of those negative comments, the lack of respect, the alienation, the constant putting down, the nastiness.

My friend wasn’t alone. There are so many relationships where one partner lives in fear, where children are helpless, where families are torn apart. But there is help.

Phone the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

http://www.refuge.org.uk

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

http://www.womensaid.org.uk

Nicknames

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Oh I do love a good nickname, some are names that stick after an incident, some are shortened versions of names, some are given to people based on their heritage, looks or personality and some are given in cruel jest. 

 When I say my name is Nellie I am often asked if it is short for anything. Well in many cases it is – Helen, Fenella, Ellen but I’m not shortened (well I am short), no I’m nicknamed as my real name is Rosemary and I dislike that name for me. I’ve only been called Rosemary a handful of times. Once at a swimming lesson and my brother told the teacher that I don’t answer to Rosemary (as I was drowning), at our wedding Douglas the vicar said he would only call me Rosemary in the parts that really mattered. I was asked what name I preferred when hauled up in front of a Sgt and I said Nellie, I only get called Rosemary when I’m being told off. He called me Rosemary. I’m not fond of my name. 

Big Welsh has friends with brilliant nicknames. I think the story I love best is about Janet so called as he used his sister’s satchel and she was called Janet!

At school one of our friends Lucy was nicknamed Lucy in the sky diamonds by another friend’s stepfather who was in the music industry. My friend Lucy has had a variety of nicknames like Bessie, Zee, Princess. I’ve actually really not done any research on what is the most nick named name!

I do laugh when people choose baby names so they can’t be shortened, but they’re very often lengthened!! My girls have a variety of nicknames but I tend to call them each other’s names!  

Surnames also attract nicknames, a friend is double barrelled and is known as Julian Double-Barrelled, somehow my surname Pritchard-Gordon was translated as Seahorse-Johnson. 

Friends are also affectionately known by their job like Harriet Hunter-Gatherer, Georgie Flower-Farmer, Jane Treasure-Pods, Sacha HeadSmart-Campaign

My granny once told me that her friend’s son was called Lloyd at the moment. I thought that was rather strange so questioned if he had a regular name change!  She looked at me like I was a fool (yes, I am) and said that what she actually said was he’s unemployed at the moment. He’s still referred to as Lloyd. Names stick! 

Sometimes though people grow out of their nicknames but they’re always there at the back of my mind Fiona (Nonie), Rich (Jit Jit), Jeremy (Jumper), Alex (Ally Pally), Alexandra (Tiggy), Nickle (Nick), Emmboo (Emma). 

Then there’s the names you only call people in the comfort of your own home, there’s someone from school who is known as she whose name should not be mentioned. Maybe 30 years later we could call her Sally but no she can stick with the name she was given because. Just because. 

What’s your experience of nicknames? 

A day filled with love and laughter

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I’ll remember Saturday 14 February 2015 with a smile. It was the first day of half term and I was making the children get up early so we could go for coffee with a friend. In Malvern. Two hours away. As we were also going to stay at Granny Valley’s we took overnight bags and wellies. Oh yes and the dog. In a Mini.

The seating arrangement got a bit complicated so everyone changed seats and I repacked the car around everyone. Cosy journey! Then we set off on our Feb half term, 4 of us and a dog in a mini #fivegomadinamini.

Going back to Malvern just makes me smile and it’s only now I realise how extraordinarily lucky we were to be educated in such a beautiful spot even though we didn’t think so at the time. I keep threatening to walk up to St Anne’s Well and one day I will. I might not be able to run up there like I did in the 80 but I’ll walk it!

I met up with Fiona who I saw last year after not seeing each other for – oh – 15 years or so. We just fell into comfortable chat and laughed about things as well as being sensible and serious. She asked where Big Welsh was during this weekend and I told her he was having a weekend some only dream of. A weekend of no children, no wife and no dog but with cycling, rugby and peace!

All too soon we had to leave to get to Lizzie’s. Of course I got lost, took lots of wrong turnings and hared up to her front door a little more five have gone mad in a mini as opposed to #fivegomadinamini but we had a delicious lunch, interrupted by daft dogs vying for attention from each other or avoiding it! Lovely and relaxed with lots of laughter.

We talked a lot about books as Laree is very much my mini me in the book department and also Lizzie has written 2 books, one of which I’ve not read but I have read Who are you? and I’d recommend it. It’s a hard read in places but very cleverly written and in my mind a book that stays with you is a good book.

Then it was time to head off to the valleys, to spend the evening with the inlaws. Not a romantic night in with Big Welsh but a lovely evening all the same and the nice thing for Granny was she had all her grandchildren under one roof and that really makes her happy.

Of course being away from home means things aren’t the same as at home so I spent the night with Mook, Laree and Arthur and the duvet was weighed down at the end of the bed, kicked off and yanked back so I woke up tired! But happily tired.

Oh yes it was Valentines Day, but I don’t need expensive gifts or cards and banners declaring undying love for me on the one day of the year that everyone says you must be romantic, I’d much rather have days like yesterday that are filled with love and laughter.