Thought for the Week

"A hug is a perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you give it back."

Memory Monday - Showing Off

During my years at primary school, between the ages of 5 and 11, like most young girls I had many friends. Some were just mates at school, others friends you would call round to play with at weekends.

One such friend of mine was named Denice. She was a very pretty, dark haired girl, with an air of confidence about her that I don't recall seeing in anyone else so young, and she was very bright. I had always admired her, and thought of her as sophisticated and from a well off family. My own family was not so fortunate in the wealth stakes, and I can remember her talking about taking showers in the mornings, and I can recall my exact feelings. Showers back then were not common place like they are today, (oh god! I'm showing my age again aren't I), usually it was just a bath.

It is strange, looking back, recalling how I deemed her to come from a well-off family, merely because she had a shower as well as a bath! Today of course, most everyone owns a shower.

Anyway, I was always slightly in awe of her, but was very fond of her also, and we both played in the school netball team, as did her older sister, Suze. Suze was great. She seemed to have a soft spot for me and treated me like a little sister. Treated me better than a little sister, sisters at that age are not the soul mates and companions they often become later in life, but a nuisance more often than not.

Denice invited me over one weekend during the summer holidays, suggesting that as we were going through a hot spell, maybe we would enjoy going for a bike ride round the country lanes. Back then, it was considered safe for young girls to be out on their own in small country lanes, something that would be difficult to allow your own children to do now-a-days.

At the time I didn't have a bicycle of my own and she said I could borrow Suze's. This was hilarious, I was very small, and Suze was much bigger than me, so we settled on me riding Denice's bike and she would take her sisters bike out.

I went round to her house mid-morning one fine, sunny day of the holidays, and her Mum had made us both a packed lunch and put it in a back pack so that we would not get hungry on our travels. We checked the bikes over, tested the brakes and adjusted the saddles a little. Then with a cheery goodbye to her mother, Denice and I mounted up and rode off.

We headed out of our little village and straight onto the pretty, narrow, winding country lanes we both loved so much. The hedgerows were alive with the sounds of young birds, as yet flightless, but all very vocal whilst waiting for mum to bring their dinner of earth worms, flies and other tidbits. The air was pleasantly cool for such a hot day, the vast canopies of summer leaves preventing most of the suns rays from reaching the ground underneath, and the tremendous array of colours and textures was amazing.

We cycled quite slowly for a while, taking in all the beautiful sights and sounds that nature provides at that time of year, and happily chattering away about girly stuff.

Later, when we started to feel peckish, we dismounted at the edge of some woodland, and pushed our bikes over the slightly uneven terrain in search of a good spot to spread out our lunch. It was not long before we stumbled across a small clearing, with long soft green, green grass under foot, tall, heavily laden, gnarled trees dotted in amongst the grandfather trees that seemed to have been growing since the beginning of time and a tiny, gurgling stream. Perfect.

We broke open our lunch boxes and made daisy chains whilst we ate. When we had finished, wearing our daisy chains, we picked a small posy of bluebells and daffodils for Denice's Mum as a thank you and retraced out steps out of the wood and back to the road.

As we set off again, we were discussing some topic or other that was mightily important to a pair of 9-10 year olds until Denice suddenly stopped. As I pulled up beside her, I could see the glint in her eye.

"Race you" she said.

The road ahead was narrow and steep. Very, very steep.

"You're on" I replied, never one to turn down a challenge.

And off we sped.

Denice, much more suited to the size of bike she was riding, pulled ahead quite quickly. I pedalled hard, watching her in front of me. She was still pulling away. I stood up on the pedals. Leaned forward. Pedalled quicker.

Was I catching her? I couldn't tell.

As I looked up at the back of her again, the back wheel of her bike was doing a kind of dance. Not the whole bike, just the back wheel, pulsating from side to side, slightly skimming across the tarmac surface and I remember thinking it looked pretty cool. Of course I wanted to look pretty cool too, and so I tried to make my over sized bike do the same thing.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be, and my bike started to shift, back and forth, quickly feeling like it was out of control. I hadn't accounted for the considerable amount of loose gravelly stones which lay like a dry river bed down the middle of the road. My heart began to pound against my chest. I was going way too fast. The hill was very steep and very long. I couldn't make the bike stop it's dance. My face became flushed, my heart rate continued to quicken, and I was scared witless.

Next thing I know, I'm on the ground. My knees were terribly grazed, having gathered most of the contents of the road in their close encounters to my stopping position on the verge. My elbows and forearms had fared no better in their travels and my head hurt like hell. As I half sat and half lay, dazed, confused and in pain, Denice had just reached the bottom, turned round, saw me on the deck and laughed. As she made her way back up the hill towards my resting place, her face changed from the laughing, mocking, 'you fell off' face to an ashen, wide eyed and worried face.

"Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't realise you had hurt yourself" she said. "Are you OK, can you stand?"

Slowly, painfully, I inched my way from my slumber position to sitting, then kneeling and eventually standing. Dizziness took over and I had to steady myself with her. By this time I was swallowing blood. In the fall I had cut my head quite badly and grazed a lot of my face. Gravel was embedded in every opening, one of my teeth was chipped and I felt sick.


We were in the middle of nowhere, not a soul in sight. We guessed if we waited patiently, a car may come by and help us, at least take me home so I could get some attention for my wounds. But the car never came. We began to walk - slowly. Every step a jar in my spine. Every few steps, another drip of blood released its grip from the bottom of my face and splashed onto the road.

We kept at this pace, making headway towards civilisation, when we came across a family out picking blackberries from the hedgerows. We decided to ask them for help. Of course immediately they saw me we didn't need to ask. They just took over. Arranging for one of them to help my friend back to her house with the bikes, and taking me off in the car back to their house to clean me up, which they did, before dropping me home and explaining to my Mum what had occurred.

I often think about that family and wonder how much more I would have suffered had it not been for their kindness. Today of course, a 9-10 year old girl with half a brain wouldn't dream of getting in a strangers car, let alone agreeing to go back to their house. Come to that, many an adult with half a brain wouldn't dream of offering such a young girl a lift to their own house for fear of repercussions of accusations of assault.

Personally, I think this is a very sad state of affairs. I wish the world could go backwards sometimes. Back to a time, before I was born, when respect, kindness and honesty were abundant in everyone's everyday life.

If you want to take part in Memory Monday click here

My Heritage

Miss Understood, you have a lot to answer for.

Your post on Wednesday, although quite enlightening, had a link. A link to My Heritage. Do you have any idea how impossible it is to sit and look at a hyperlink and not click it? Well do you?

Well of course I clicked the damn link, what was I meant to do with it! Not only was it sitting there calling me, begging for it, 'My Heritage' sounded like a site that would tie in with my enjoyment of genealogy too, double whammy!!

The site says that if you upload a photo of yourself, it can tell you which celebs you most look like.

What fun I thought, always a sucker for a bit of corny entertainment.

I only had one photograph of myself on my computer, I hate having my picture taken and avoid it at all costs as a rule. The photo to be uploaded is supposed to be a large facial picture, facing directly forwards. The picture I had was slightly side on, but I thought what the heck, lets do it.

The uploading was quick, the face recognition and comaparisons took a little longer, as I sat there itching to know if I looked like anyone famous, or more to the point, anyone famous and beautiful.

Hey, a girl can dream can't she?

Eventually, there it was, my own mini list of celebrity look-alikes. They were pretty unlike me I have to say. I put that down to the bad photo, and decided to try another.

Aha - camera in hand, could I hold it at arms length and still get the whole of my face in shot?

Click - flash - blind - blink - oh yuk, do I really look that bad? I had already had my evening shower by the time I tried this and so this was a bare faced, unmade, pure, raw version of me!

When I ran this image through the website, it said I looked a lot like Ashley Olsen - wow, she's gorgeous. Katie Holmes - OMG, she's beautiful...

.... and


How the hell did that happen?

Did I miss something?


Where's that flippin' mirror?

OMG, don't EVER let me out of the house without my make-up, it says....

How in God's name did Mick bloody Jagger get in at 7th place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not one to be beaten, and not wishing to retain the Mick Jagger image every time I look in the mirror, I decided to try again in the morning after I had dressed and applied my make-up for work.

Yes - that's what I would do. Take another pic, with my war paint on. Not that I wear much for work, but it might even things out a little!

So, this morning I took another shot, in what I hoped was better lighting too.

The results? Well not wanting to bore you (or have you all wetting yourself laughing), Kofi Annan was amongst them!!

So... what's a girl to do?


Take another photo. Set the camer to self timer, and try taking a shot that is not close enough to produce an x-ray image when the flash explodes!

Yes. Success. At last, no Mick Jagger or Kofi or any of the others I can barely remember the names of!

So girls - the moral of this story is, be careful where you click, and if you must take a self portrait, do it from a little distance!!


Football is a game I enjoy watching, but only when it means something to me. I don't support any league team, and in fact find it extremely boring to watch.

International footy is something else entirely. I'm as big a supporter for England as anyone when the World Cup comes around. Out goes the big white flag with the red cross, the flag of St George, and England. No right minded English football supporter would be seen dead with the Union Jack displayed, unless of course England were already out and Scotland or Wales were still in the running - nah, not even then.

Our neighbours across the road from us think we 'lower the tone of the neighbourhood' with our flag, but we hang it out anyhow, where's her patriotism? Most of the games are watched in the pub of course, it has nothing to do with the beer you understand, it's just that their screen is so much bigger than our T.V's!!! Honest!!

Just recently, I have begun to watch my son play on a Sunday morning. He has played for years, but I have never gone and watched him before now, which I regret. The thing is, he is currently playing for a pub team, and football and the pub go hand-in-hand, as does the social life and the big 'family' team spirit from the various wives, girlfriends, parents and pub regulars with a genuine interest in the game.

Sunday morning is becoming a routine. Get to the ground, usually giving another couple a lift, for about 10am to watch them warm up and share a bit of friendly banter with the other supporters. Kick off is at 10:30 when the supporters all turn from a friendly, laughing, good-humoured bunch into a marauding group of referee abusers with a splattering of verbal now and then at players from the opposing team, particularly when one of our own has had his feet taken from under him in a needlessly rough tackle. It can get quite heated on the sidelines, and I have soon learnt that the men's characters change completely when there is a game in progress.

No longer do they acknowledge that there are ladies present.

The air can be blue with the language sometimes.

No longer do they even acknowledge that they have a partner with them, for all intents and purposes they are single, with not a thought for whoever is stood at the sidelines cheering them on.

And every one's a critic.

The manager will shout from the touchline, occasionally telling one player to get his act together, cover the midfield, or shout across to another player, keep your eye on the ball, who the hell was that meant to be for? Only the manager is not quite so tame with his language!

In fairness, he gets plenty back from the players too. It is quite amusing to view the Jackal and Hyde personalities whilst the game is in progress. The lads really get steamed up about it, they are all passionate about the game, and deservedly so, they are heading there league by 8 points clear.

After the match, it's all back to the pub where the landlady feeds us all and the social niceties are once again brought to the surface. Unless there is a big game on the box, the team and the supporters usually make up about 80% of the numbers in the bar for the first couple of hours.

Yes, I said first couple of hours. Some have managed to turn it into an art form. Everyone partakes in pool, darts, a bit of friendly 3 card brag for 20p a hand or just having a good old chin wag. As people start to drift off home you can hear "oh, you off already?" or "you're not going are you?" It almost feels wrong to

Last week, the team had a tough game. One player had got married the day before and was not expected to be showing up -

- one player down.

10 minutes into the game, after an awkward and particularly hard tackle, one of the strongest players had to be lifted from the field, squealing in agony. After the ambulance arrived and gave him pain relief he wanted to watch the rest of the game, but they convinced him he needed to go to hospital and took him away. Result - broken ankle, no footy for at least 6 weeks maybe longer.

- two players down.

The remainder of the first half was tough. The lads were obviously finding it difficult keeping their minds focused on the game, whilst waiting to find out how their friend was fairing at hospital.

Just before half time, the goalie caught the ball whilst making a spectacular save, unfortunately he caught it awkwardly and damaged 2 fingers on his right hand. When half time was over, he was asking for help to get his gloves back on!!! Hence, with them swollen, and seriously looking broken, he had to be withdrawn and replaced.

- 3 players down.

The groom, who had been married for less than 24 hours showed up, "just to watch" at least that's what he told his new wife!!! He was itching for half a game He begged to be allowed to play, but didn't have his kit so he stood on the sideline swapping clothes with one of the guys that had come off the field!

Whilst the goalie was struggling just before half time, another of our players clashed heads rather hard with the opposition. It was a fair knock, but when he came off he had a lump the size of a kiwi fruit on the top of his head. He was adamant he was going back on though.

Within 10 minutes of the second half starting, the poor lad couldn't see straight and felt very dizzy and so he too was taken off the field.

- 4 players down.

The groom grinned as he was put on the field.

- 3 players down.

It's all good fun!! They won the game 3-1 too. Way to go boys.

Memory Monday - Planning

When the children were all young, everything had to be conducted like a military operation, planned and executed to the nth degree.

I had my last daughter when my son was 5 years old. He had just started primary school and hence it was the beginning of what I think of as my 'super organised' life I was to lead from then on. Between the two of them, I had another daughter, making 3 children of 5 and under, a handful indeed.

The morning routine on a school day would follow a similar pattern day in, day out. At least most mornings it would, if I had been out the previous night, as was often the case come Friday morning, I would tend to make it up as I went along and even that was a struggle.

On the rest of the week days, the first half an hour of my morning would be spent trying to convince the eldest 2 that they actually wanted to get their backsides out of bed. "Get up, come on, you have school" .... "Wakey, wakey, rise and shine".... "Is anyone actually listening to me?"...

With baby tucked under one arm, bottle held with hand of said arm, my morning cuppa would be drunk intermittently with the other hand, usually luke warm before I had gotten half way down the cup. Winding baby (that's winding as in pat on back, not winding as in crank her up!!), obviously took both hands, and this would delay the next task, but always one to utilise my time effectively, I would use this time to stand quietly at the bottom of the stairs and listen; what was I listening for? The scurry of feet, the running of water, the sound of drawers being opened and closed again; and what did I hear? .... silence usually ....

"Will you two get up, I'll not tell you again. It's nearly half seven, now come on"

"uuhhh, huh, sigh" came the replies

Reluctantly, and eventually, they would leave their warm, cosy duvets and head for the bathroom in turn, arriving in the kitchen, bleary eyed and hungry. By now, baby was fed, and happily sitting in her bouncy chair, watching, surveying the scene of her sorry looking brother and sister as they clearly struggled to appear to be of human form, and she, full of the joys of spring would chuckle and gurgle away in her own fantastic baby language, clearly finding what she had to say quite amusing.

Finally, with all three where I could see them, I would prepare my sons packed lunch, and finish the half a cup of stone cold tea I had left. With their breakfasts eaten and the human heads firmly in place, the next battle would be to prise the two of them away from pulling faces at, tickling and generally making baby laugh, and they were good at it too. They both loved her to bits. Eventually, I would get them upstairs to clean their teeth and get dressed, although somehow, their toys and books always seemed more appealing to them at that point in the day, can't for the life of me think why. They knew the routine though, and they were fully aware that I wouldn't check up on them for the next 10 minutes or so as I would be changing baby and laying her down to sleep in her pram, so as not to disturb her again when it was time to leave for school.

Once she was taken care of, it was my turn. I would climb the stairs, noisily. It meant one less hurry up needed to be issued as they would immediately get on with the mornings necessary tasks, cunning I know. Eventually, somehow, and always in time, they would be ready. My son standing there with his smart school uniform, freshly laundered and pressed, school bag at the ready and lunch box in hand. He was always so cute as a young boy. Even now, at 22, he still has the same 'aren't I cute' smile! The bag and the lunch box would be laid on the tray of the pram, along with another bag of PE kit on the days it was needed. My eldest daughter would be excitedly waiting for us to leave. She knew that once her brother was safely ensconced in school I would take her to the bakery and we would share a little 'us' time with a drink and a sausage roll before we walked round the corner to her playschool.

Once she was dropped off there, I would walk the mile home, just me and my gorgeous baby, for a morning of 'lets see how much housework I can get through before she wakes up'. Invariably, of course, she would wake up 5 minutes after we got home, which was fine by me, it just meant the housework would wait a while. I loved her being awake. She was generally a very happy and contented baby, and I loved to just cuddle her and breathe in that all too familiar 'baby' smell that I will never grow tired off til the day I die.

By lunch time, I would do the reverse trip to collect my elder daughter from playschool.

At 3pm I would do the trip for the third time that day to collect my son from school.

It's no wonder I was always fit, walking 6 miles a day.

Soul Searching. I always wanted to say this.....

I first read the entry in caps on Miss U's blog, a long while ago. At the time, I was writing elsewhere and used it as a release for things I wanted to say.

I occasionally go back and read it, and every time it stirs the same emotions, the same feelings and the same sense of release. I thought I would share it with you all . It was incredibly difficult to do at the time, but very worthwhile. My apologies to Miss U as you have read this before.


1. What was missing in your life that you took such great pleasure in trying to destroy everything that I held dear? What did I ever do to you? You were evil beyond belief for so long. So many nights I cried myself to sleep and plotted my revenge. I didn't want to sink to your level and that is why I contacted the police. I'm so glad that you being bound over to keep the peace put an end to it.

2. What the hell gave you the right to do that? Did I give out the wrong signals? Even now, after all this time I do not believe I did. I was nothing but cheerful, friendly and professional. I guess you realised immediately that your advances were most unwelcome. You seemed almost embarrassed for your actions but for all your backtracking, you made me feel uncomfortable, you made me question myself, you made me feel sick.

3. Why do you blame me? Does it ease your own guilt. Is it easier to blame me than to accept that your own actions may have been a contributing factor, however small? Do you not think I have enough to deal with already without shouldering your guilt for you. I won't do it, it is too much weight to carry. It was not my fault. It was not your fault. It was not anyone's fault. It just was.

4. You are a selfish, jumped upped, self-centred bitch sometimes. Life can't always be about you, no matter how much you want it to be. Do you have no love inside you? No compassion. No thought for anyone but yourself. ME ME ME. Could you not even spare your own mother an hour of your precious time on the day that she buried her husband? You selfish f***ing cow.

5. I'm so sorry I hurt you. That was and still is the last thing in the world I would ever want. You are such a kind, loving and caring person. You didn't deserve that. I can see looking back what led me to do what I did, but I make no excuses for it. I was wrong. I was very wrong, and I will never forget how much I hurt you.

6. You are such an inspiration to me. You have strength of character that I admire. You seem to think you are weak, especially when you turn to me for help, but you are so much more than I could ever hope to be. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, and always show such strength of resolve that I am sometimes in awe of you. You have been through more devastation and heartache in your life already than most people see in a whole lifetime, but still you unselfishly look out for others, and are always there to lean on. I love you.

7. If only. We can't live on 'if onlys' but I have shed bucket loads of them for you. I miss you.

8. I'm glad you came back. The time apart was too much too bear. I know it was a difficult time for you, a period of adjustment so to speak, but you made me so angry I had to speak out. I was the only one who tried to help you. The only one who supported you in the beginning and yet you pushed me to the limit. Then when I spoke out, you tossed me aside like an old, worn out jacket you sent to the jumble sale. Were you just testing me to see if I too would desert you? I guess I failed that one.

9. You are so cold hearted. How could you move your lover into your marital home all the while making your adoring husband think it was his idea to have his best mate move in? Those letters that the two of you exchanged, I found one laying around one day. I know it was wrong to read it but human nature etc etc. I sure wish I hadn't by the time I had finished. How could you be so cold as to say you were a patient woman and could wait for him to die? You knew it wouldn't take forever because the doctor had said if he kept smoking his life expectancy was not so great, and you were doing nothing to persuade him to stop. You would do that rather than leave a man you didn't love just to get your "fair share" You're a disgrace to the human race.

10. I am so proud of you.


I recently visited the historic town of Hastings which is in a neighbouring county, and whilst I enjoyed my visit, it got me to thinking about richness and importance of the town within the history of England. I thought I would share a little with you, so if you start to nod off, don't say I didn't warn you!!

Before the riveting history lesson, a few of my pics.

This is the bonfire the local council were constructing on the beach in readiness for 5th November celebrations.

Organised displays are usually worth attending as the bonfires are bigger and the fireworks which can be purchased by a company for public displays are 1000% bigger, better and brighter than the selection available for private purchase.

East Hill Funicular Railway. The UK's steepest funicular railway which opened in 1902. We decided to ride it to the top and to explore the Hastings Country Park, with it's spectacular views over the town.

We have a similar Cliff Lift in my home town, which although I have lived here for 35 years, I have never riden. Ours is unusual in that it is one of the oldest water balanced funicular lifts in the UK.

This was taken on top of the cliffs after disembarking from the lift. The area above the town, known as Hastings Country Park is truly beautiful, and the quiet, peaceful aura is in stark contrast to the bustle of the busy town below.

The cliff face itself is formed from limestone and has a range of colours and interesting contours which make it quite the most beautiful cliff face I have seen in a long time.

Hastings boasts the largest beach launched fishing fleet in the UK and has miles of beautiful, clean beach, with well cared for lawn areas and promenades.

There is ample seating to sit and soak up the atmosphere, or to just gaze out to sea in a dream world of your own.

Along the opposite side of the road can be found all the usual seaside town buildings; amusement arcades in their plenty, souvenir shops selling trinkets and kiss-me-quick hats, rock shops, fish and chip shops and restaurants.

These curious weatherboarded and tarred structures date from the 17th century, before the Stade developed, and are known as Net Huts.

The existing huts were mainly built in the second half of the 19th century, often with the wood left over from the building of a new boat. The net huts of Hastings are unusually tall as a result of the lack of space on the Stade, and the relatively high rents that were charged. There was also a council regulation that they should be no more than eight feet square, and since the fishermen needed to store several different kinds of net and other gear, the answer was to build upwards.

... and so to the history of the town...

It is best known in history for the 'Battle of Hastings' in 1066, here's a light-hearted and brief run down on the battle:

The Invader:
William, Duke of Normandy (aka Willy), later known as William the Conqueror or his correct title of William I. He was born in 1027 but his parents were never married (tut tut) and he was often known as “William the Bastard” to his enemies.

In 1051 Willy met Edward the Confessor (aka Big Ed). Willy claimed that at this meeting Big Ed promised him the throne of England when he died. With no proper witnesses to this Willy was in for a fight, quite literally.

He was an experienced military leader. He had fought and defeated the king of France in 1054 and 1057, and he showed no mercy to those who opposed him. His men were well schooled and well equipped (in the armour sense that is. History books make no mention of their manhood!).

The Defender:
Harold of Wessex (aka Hal), who was born about 1022. Hal’s father, Godwin, Earl of Wessex, was the most powerful nobleman in England, and when he died in 1053, Hal succeeded his father as Earl of Wessex, and became a loyal supporter of Big Ed.

Between 1052 and 1066 Big Ed put all his energy into the building of Westminster Abbey in London, and Hal commanded the king’s army gaining a reputation as a skilled leader. His army was a mixture of professional soldiers and men who had been collected on the march south.

In 1063, Hal led an English army into Wales and it is reported that his army killed every adult Welsh male they came across, (probably wanted the sheep for themselves huh?).

In 1064 poor unfortunate Hal was handed over to Wills after finding himself shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu. Hal then went with Wills into battle. It is after one such battle that it is written that Hal promised Willy he would support his claim to the throne of England when Big Ed croaked it. With this ‘promise’ Willy let Hal go home to England, where Hal immediately back tracked saying the promise was forced out of him in exchange for his freedom and as such had no legal status. (Don’t you just love the way they used to be able to make the rules up as they went?)

Are you all still with me?

Big Ed died in January of 1066 and it was decided by the most powerful nobelmen that Hal should be the new king.

Holy mother of God. How do you think Willy took that? Well the big sneak, he took his vast army and landed at Pevensey Bay and plotted and rested whilst Hal was still way up north. When Hal and his army reached Hastings, knackered from their 250 mile hike (if only they had used public transport!!!) Willy and his army whipped his ass. Wills then marched through Sussex and Kent, crushing all who dared to resist him and had himself crowned King William I on Christmas Day in Westminster Abbey, London.

It's brief, but concise!

Memory Monday - Netball

When I was a young girl, many moons ago, I absolutely loved sport. I couldn't get enough of netball and rounders at primary school and when I got to secondary school at the grand old age of 12, it wasn't just netball and rounders but tennis and hockey too.

At primary school, there was a bit of a 'personality' clash between the netball coach, who was the class 5 teacher and myself! She didn't like me much and I can't say I cared for her ways a great deal either. She was the only teacher in my 6 years at the school that I didn't get along with, but unfortunately for me, I needed her to want to put me in the team.

It was her usual way to only play girls in their last two years of school in the actual matches, but we were encouraged to attend training during the year before this, to get us up to scratch I guess. Not only did I never miss a training session, but I attended each and every match that the team played, every single one.

She always maintained that until the last two years we had neither the skill nor the knowledge to be effective within the team. The thing was, I knew I was good enough to rightfully earn my place on the team, and the rest of the girls knew it too. I think even the teacher knew it, but she didn't want to have to bend her rules for me, a girl that was too full of energy for her own good, a girl that she didn't get along with, a girl that had so much love and passion for the game that her continued and ongoing refusal to play me left me frustrated to the point where I would have a bit of a sulk and she would know in no uncertain terms that I was well and truly pissed about it!! I swear she liked the power.

I would spend all my breaks with a netball in my hand, practising shooting. From under the post, from the outside edge of the shooting area and from many different spots in between. I just totally loved it. I knew that practice would improve the natural ability I seemed to possess for the game, and I SOOOOOOO wanted to be in the team, I actually believed that eventually Miss X would include me in the starting line-up for a match against another school.

One particular day, the team was short of one player, due to illness I believe. I jumped up and down with excitement whilst Miss X was trying to figure out who the hell she was going to play to make up the 7 players required.

"I'll play, I'll play. Let me play, pleasssseeeee" I said, not holding out much hope.

"Go on" said the rest of the girls, "She's really good and we are a shooter down"

Miss X had little choice. She needed 7 players to start the game and she only had 6. There were a couple of other subs there but they had only been playing for a couple of weeks and were no-where near match ready.

Begrudgingly the teacher said to me "OK, it looks like you will have to play. This is a one-off and I'm only playing you today because we are short. I'm putting you in at goal shooter 'cos you're not big enough to play anywhere else. Listen. Do your best. Create space, then run into it. Think about your footwork, and take your time with the shot"

YES, YES, YES! I was in.

I remember thinking to myself "...not big enough to play anywhere else? I bet I could run rings round you dear. . . Create space then run into it? Yes, yes I know all that, lets just get this show on the road lady. I am gonna play so damn well you won't possibly be able to drop me next week and I will have earned my regular place on the team!!"

So I did.

I ran my little white frilly socks off. Yes I was small, but that was, then and forever after, an advantage to our team. By default, the biggest, tallest girls were always put in defence, and I was so small that I could run in front of them or behind them by ducking under their arms instead of running around them. I was small and nimble, they were tall and less agile. It made a big difference. I scored 4 goals that game and we trashed the visiting schools team. Even Miss X told me afterwards that I had played a very good game and that she hadn't realised "just how much potential I had"

I took that to mean "well done girl, I hate to admit it, but your good" and went home with a huge smile on my face that day.

The next week, I was an automatic selection to play. I had come of age, in Miss X's eyes at least. She had accepted me, just, begrudgingly, and unwillingly to a certain degree, but I had won her round.

It was so often the case that when we had a match, whether it be at home or away, the coach of the opposing team, and sometimes even the odd player or two, would look at me with an "awww, she's so small and so sweet" and when they realised I was actually playing, and worse than that, that I was the goal shooter, you could almost read their faces, wondering how the heck I stood a chance against the bigger, stronger girls.

Again, I reckon this worked in my favour. No-one ever saw me as a threat. I may have been little for my age then, but what I lacked in height, I made up for in enthusiasm and passion 10 times over.

I continued to play as a fully fledged member of the team for the rest of that year and the two academic years which followed, before I left the school and moved onto secondary.

In my final year at primary, our school won the County Netball Tournament and had our picture in the local paper. It was one of those chest busting proud moments you remember forever.

Have you got a memory to share? To join Memory Monday click Here .

Journey to London

Last Wednesday was my 20th Wedding Anniversary, and as you may have read in my previous post, my lovely kids booked us a table at the local all-you-can-eat Chinese for Tuesday evening (20th anniversary is for China!), and then they had given us gift vouchers for a Champagne Flight on the London Eye for Wednesday.

So Tuesday evening arrived, and all freshly showered and changed, with lightly applied make-up we set off for the restaurant, with strict instructions to get our (their) money’s worth, and to ensure that diet or no diet, we definitely had to have a dessert. Crikey, what an awful challenge. Fancy having to eat lots and lots of Chinese and then have dessert as well! How could I refuse?

The waiter showed us to our seats and took our drinks order and we made our way to the buffet area for our first course of the evening. As we were eating, I was aware of a party of 5-6 adults being shown to their seats at the table directly behind me. “Whose flowers are they” one of the elderly ladies enquired, “they’re not ours”. As the waiter came over to take their drinks order, another in the party asked the waiter about the flowers, stressing that they were not for anyone amongst their group. Said waiter then began to read the card… “To Mum and Dad, best wishes on your 20th…..” I spun round in my seat, with a grin from ear to ear, “They’ll be ours then” I said. They were absolutely beautiful, this is one of the roses from the bunch, (taken on my new SLR, but don’t tell Elaine.. shhh).

The rest of the meal was uneventful but very enjoyable, it is a while since we have been out to eat, just the two of us alone. I did get brave half way through the evening and attempt to eat with chopsticks… when in Rome and all that… so when in the Chinese I figured I should give it a try! Not my best decision.

This was not the first time in my life I had attempted this feat, why I thought the end result would be any different I do not know, maybe it had something to do with the wine! After 10 minutes and the consumption of nothing more than about 3 meat filled mushrooms, a couple of strands of noodles and a very precariously held piece of beef in black bean sauce I reverted to the knife and fork… what a fantastic invention.. if God had meant us to eat with twigs he wouldn’t have given us the brains to forge steel into useful implements now would he? That’s my angle and I’m sticking to it!!

The following day, we got up and ready for our trip into the city. We had booked our flight for the 7pm ride when it would be dark and we would get a fantastic city landscape in lights. We decided to ‘let the train take the strain’ and leave the car at home, parking in the city is unbelievably difficult and VERY expensive. So we waited until 10am which is when you can buy cheaper tickets, (the one’s you don’t need to take out a bank loan to afford!) and bought 2 returns to Charing Cross plus a zone 1&2 travel pass that would allow us to get on and off the tube at will and travel all over the city at leisure.

Trying to exit the station at Charing Cross up to street level was quite difficult as there were people stood still all the way up the stairs. As we edged and squeezed past them one at a time it became evident that the reason for this uninitiated congregation of bodies was the weather. You know that saying “It’s raining cats and dogs” or “It’s bucketing down” well it was doing both – at the same time. This is what we had to shelter from before we could even begin to get our bearings and start to enjoy the day!

Once it had eased up considerably, we made our escape, following the sign posts pointing towards Leicester Square. The first hour or so was spent in this fashion, dashing from one spot undercover to another, and huddling together with a large proportion of the rest of the city when the heavens opened up and did their very worst.

Next we moved on to Trafalgar Square, where I was looking forward to seeing Nelsons Column and the fountains.

Just my luck, as we rounded the last corner of the National Gallery which fronts onto the square, it was immediately obvious that the fountains were not working. They were completely devoid of any water and were in the process of being cleaned.

Standing at the top of the great steps infront of the National Gallery looking down onto Trafalgar Square with Nelson on his column, guarded by the four magnificent lions and the fountains with their fantastic bronze sculptures, I could see in the distance, looking straight down The Mall, Big Ben towering above the city.

One of my loves in the city is Tower Bridge. I posted some pictures a couple of weeks ago that I took on my Paddle Steamer trip up the Thames. Now I had the chance to photograph from ground level.

We weren’t fortunate enough to catch the bridge raising but it is still a fantastic and completely unmistakable engineering masterpiece. It is beautiful.

If you wish, you can take the Tower Bridge tour, and walk up the inside of the West tower and along the walkways high above the road level.

When the bridge was originally constructed, these two walkways were to enable pedestrians to cross over the river even when the bridge was in the process of raising.

However, these were closed in 1910 as it became apparent that the much preferred option was to stand and watch as she majestically opened up her bascules to allow a tall ship to pass up or down river.

There is a lift from the top of the Tower that then takes you down to the engine rooms and show the original equipment that was used to raise and lower the bascules.

The audio descriptions and history, which are available in a choice of many languages at the touch of a button, make this part quite informative and interesting even for those who are not mechanically minded.

The highlight of the day was the London Eye Champagne Flight. We were met by our hostess and led onto the eye via the fast track route and hence avoiding the long queues, pretty neat when you’ve been traipsing round London for several hours.

There were only 11 people on this special flight, and so we had plenty of space in our capsule to move around freely and shoot photographs at will.

The first shot with the zoom lens was a complete white out, with the flash bouncing off the concaved glass panels of the pod as I suspected it might do.

The second, third and fourth shots were pretty dismal, furry, blurred images. I had no tripod, and hand held night photography at the best of times is pretty impossible -

-on a moving object it was not the best scenario, but it’s what I had to work with, so I persisted, I’m stubborn like that!

Once I had changed the lens to the smaller 18-55mm and braced myself against the side of the pod before each shot I had much more success. Some were still a little blurred, but I am an amateur so what the heck.

My favourite photo of the whole set is this one. I’m not known for blowing my own trumpet, but I think it’s pretty fantastic.

The Age 'Old' Question

I always used to say that I would worry about getting old when I was older.

But how will I know when I'm 'older' and older than what anyway? I have never furnished this thought with sufficient time before now to consider an answer to the question.

So what is the definition of 'old' and at what age does it strike?

As an adolescent I thought:

A person of 30 was old.
One of 40 was just about past their sell by date.
At 50 you were really past your usefulness to any living human being.
By 60, well what the heck were you still around for at 60?

You had no place, by the great age of 60, in which you slotted into any category that could be mistaken for one of purpose. You could not possibly have a sense of humour at that age, you are much to crotchety because you have endured too many hardships whilst travelling down the road of life. Parts of your body are beginning to fail, you complain of aches and pains, comment that you don't see so well, everybody around you knows you don't hear so well, I SAID EVERYBODY AROUND YOU... oh forget it, you probably still won't hear.

By my early 30's my perception of 'old' had changed:

As an adolescent - you know nothing, so let's not pretend otherwise.
At 30, you are in your prime.
At 40 you have a world of knowledge and experience, and the ability to enjoy life to the max.
At 50... well, I don't even want to think about it, maybe that is old.

At a fast approaching 40 my thoughts have altered to:

As an adolescent - you can be rude, obnoxious and you know nothing, so let's not pretend otherwise.
At 30, you are still young.
At 40, you are in your prime.
At 50 you may only be half way through your life, with the better, more well informed half life still to come.
At 60, it's time to kick back and do all those things that you never had time to do whilst working for the last 40 years or more.

So, how OLD is OLD? I do not believe that any age is 'old', but that age is measured purely by the perception of the person answering the question.

There is a saying that "Age is merely a state of mind" and this I believe with all my heart. I always maintain that I am young for my age. What I mean when I say this is that inside, I feel no differently now to the way I felt when I was 16. It is merely the passing of time, the maturing of mind and the responsibilities we take on in life that stop us from doing those things we did as teenagers.

In my heart I would still like to:

  • Engrave my initials next to those of my husband in the bark of a tree.
  • Take the plug out of the bottom of a salt cellar in the cafe and watch from the next table as the waitress moves it to wipe the table clean.
  • Run full pelt down the supermarket isle with the trolley and then, leaning over the handle, take my feet off the ground and glide down the remainder of the isle (ok, so I still do this on occasions, the last time was last week!)
  • To go skating across the frozen pond in the park with no fear of the ice cracking and me taking a sudden, icy bath.
  • To go scrumping, whether it be for apples or for some other delicious goodies (I once got caught by the farmer trying to take a corn-on-the-cob)
  • To go on the swing in the park and have a race with a friend to see who could go the highest before you bottled out for fear of going right over the top bar
  • With the same friend, see who could jump off the swing whilst still going higher than the other one
  • Play my music as loud as the stereo would go, especially if there is a lot of base, regardless of who else is in the house, or the house next door, or the one across the road..
  • To go to the club till 2am... on a mid-week night.
  • Pull a sickie from work, for no reason other than I had been down the club till 2 in the morning, and I just couldn't be asked to get my backside outta bed

It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time.

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." Rita Mae Brown

A visitor to a mental asylum, studying the 'age old question' and the effects that life has on ones mental well-being asked the Director what the criteria was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalised.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than both the spoon and the teacup.

"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

New Toy

I have been fighting the urge to update my existing digital camera with a digital SLR camera since I first signed up for the Photography course about 6 months ago. I had convinced myself that my little 'point and shoot' would suffice. Until, that is, I actually started the course. It quickly became apparent that in order to really learn about different shooting techniques and camera settings we were all going to need the use of a digital SLR as well as a 35mm film SLR camera.

The college have a few which they loan out, but because we are at the bottom of the pile, in so far as we are a once-a-week evening class, we cannot have them on permanent loan for the period of the course, but have to sign them out for a week at a time. I figured right off that creativity does not sit comfortably with enforced time frames of a week here and there.

The other option was to borrow one from a friend who was trusting enough to loan out their expensive equipment. In this scenario, I was lucky enough to be offered the loan of both the 35mm and the digital SLR's. I nervously took possession of the film camera before the course began, but the digital was not so forthcoming. The lender needed to use it on a trip away during the first week that we were required to take a series of shots for a project, so I began to wonder if I could justify buying my own.

I have always been a bit backwards in coming forwards when it comes to spending a large sum of money on myself. I have no problem spending it on other people, or the house. I think the difficulties I have with spending on myself, particularly when it is for pleasure, stem from the years of financial hardship I endured in the early years of my marriage when I had a young family and rarely enough money to clothe and feed them. I would always go without so that I could afford to provide for them as best I could, and this involuntary reaction became so ingrained in my nature, that I sometimes have difficulty in putting myself at the top of the list occasionally now

At christmas time I usually receive a bonus in my salary, which varies in amount and is dependant on how well the company has performed during the previous year. This, I decided, is what I would use to buy my camera, although I thought it would be better to buy it now from our savings and put it back from my bonus; no sense in waiting until my course was a third of the way through if I was buying it anyway!!

So I spoke to G, and asked if he minded me doing that. He was very dis-interested at first, which I found a little disconcerting. He said "why buy one when you can borrow one?" I explained that I really wanted to be able to use it in London this week and I couldn't borrow one til next week. His next reply was "Why don't you wait for the sales in January?" Hrrumph. He didn't seem to be getting the point. If I was going to spend a great deal of money on a good quality camera, why miss half the course before I bought it?

Finally he relented "OK, if you really must have one now, but you have just spoilt my surprise for your birthday. I wanted to get you something special as it's your 40th!" lol, trust me. So we agreed that we would go and look, after researching on the internet and choose a camera, and that he would buy it for me as an early birthday present!

And here it is.

It's a Canon EOS 400D + a 75-300mm zoom lens which came half price if purchased with the camera.

I am just waiting for my compact flash card to arrive which I ordered from an online store and I'm fit to go. I hope to be able to take some amazing shots in London later in the week.


My most recent field trip, in the name of photographic opportunities was to the baron, shingle plains of Dungeness.

The New York Times reportedly once stated:

'If Kent is the Garden of England, Dungeness is the back gate'

I have to say, it's a remarkably accurate analogy of the area.

On the other side of the coin though, Dungeness is also home to a unique variety of wildlife and more than 600 different types of plants, it is one of the best places in Britain to find rare species of moths, butterflies, bees, beetles and spiders, many of which are apparently not to be found anywhere else. The whole area is unique and the shingle headland is a protected area with many endangered species of plant and wildlife.

Dungeness nowadays, is mostly renown for it Nuclear Power Station, but when the RH&DR (Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway) was brought to Dungeness in 1928 by Howey, it was even more desolate than it is today; there wasn't a road or Power Station and it only had one lighthouse.

Most of the houses here are owned and lived in by fishermen, their boats are kept along the shingle ridges. When you think about the houses though, do not think of the traditional English brick built dwellings, but of the converted railway carriages and small, ramshackle cottages which look like they might fall like a pack of cards if you breathe on them too readily.

In truth, these worn, mostly haggard looking cottages must be tremendously strong to withstand the extreme and constant strengths of the winds which swirl, and blast through Dungeness at will. As you drive down the single roadway across the land to the Foreland, there are no traditional gardens, normal horticultural garden plants and flowers could not survive in such harsh conditions, but the ever resourceful residents have adapted their small spaces and created architectural gardens, some are quite beautiful.

The old lighthouse, stands majestically in her rightful place beside the Power Station and is open to visitors. I have not yet been up myself as when I was there last week it was closed. The view from the top I believe is quite amazing though, being able to see for miles across the open flat lands of Dungeness and Romney Marsh.

The new lighthouse, opened in 1963, is not open to the public, and stands tall, and somewhat characterless, with it's feet securely buried in the shingle ground.

The other dominant feature of the landscape are the two nuclear power stations. There was a Visitor Centre open to the public but I believe it has recently been closed. The Dungeness 'A' Power Station is to be de-commissioned at the end of this year, a process which I believe is going to take approximately 3 years to complete.

The Light Railway Cafe at Dungeness Station is renowned for its locally caught fish and chips, and is a great place to watch the tiny little engine of the RH&DR arrive at the station coupled to the equally tiny carriages which transport tourists between the picturesque Cinque Port of Hythe, near the channel tunnel, to the fisherman's cottages and lighthouses at Dungeness. When it was first opened to traffic in July 1927 it was advertised as the 'World's Smallest Public Railway' and even today, there is a element of playing toy trains when you see one of the many different engines arrive and depart at the station.

The sea cannot be viewed from the road due to the shingle ridges and the walk down to the shoreline is made immensely easier by way of a wooden boardwalk which was erected with the aid of a lottery grant. Once at the end of the slatted walkway, the going is a lot tougher.

At first the shingles are large, forming ridges. The grasses grow in a seemingly horizontal direction, effected by the strong winds which are so often gusting around Dungeness, and it is these same winds which are responsible for the unwitting backwards flight of the many seagulls in the area. It is quite amusing to watch.

As you climb the small shingle ridges, getting ever nearer the shore, the size of the stones reduce until they are quite tiny and pouring into your trainers with every difficult, sunken step.

Once on the flattened, more solid beach area, with it's copper red sand the shingle only consists of those larger stones which are embedded in the beach.

Dungeness, although seemingly isolated, exposed and eerily quiet also boasts not only it's own pub but it's own lifeboat station, both of which go to complete the seemingly self sufficient, and very tight knit community that is Dungeness. It is a place that most everyone has strong feelings about.

You either love it, or you hate it.

A Centenery

At the time of the commencement of this entry, my side bar stats are reading 99 visitors in 17 different countries, who will be number 100 since I added the country counter I wonder. If you are reading this, and the counter is on 100, congratulations.

Now don't get carried away, you don't actually win a prize but it would be nice if you left me a comment to tell me you were my 100th visitor, then perhaps ALL other visitors who read this entry can pay your blog a never know, maybe we can up your regular traffic!!!

Come to that, I would love to hear from anyone who visits here, just a little 'hi' would suffice, I still sometimes can't believe that so many people, from so many different countries actually read my words... (maybe you don't, maybe you get to the first sentence and hit the 'Next Blog' button!!)

Moving on.

For those of you who are interested, (those of you who are not should cover your ears at this point) it is my 40th birthday in December. Yes I said 40, but don't tell everyone. (ok... I said OK... you can uncover your ears now)

I think I am a pretty young 40, and I hold my children responsible for that. Having my children at the young age I did, has meant I have always been able to relate to them and their lives, and their time.

Having 3 children aged 5 and under by the age of 22 was hard work, it was, especially when money was scarce. Sometimes it was more scarce than an ashtray on a motorbike but I always knew that I would reap the benefits of lost youth and financial constraints at the other end of my mothering duties, and never, ever, not once have I ever regretted it.

It was about 5 years ago that I first signed up to the Friends Reunited website (like the site in the States) I was surprised that so many of my old school friends and acquaintances were just giving up work to start a family. Some were still single, and granted, a couple were lucky enough to have travelled to and worked in some fantastic places. These lucky ones though were just that. Lucky ones.

On the whole, the majority of my year at school were just about to or had just started their own families. They had pre-school aged children whom they doted on, having built up careers, they were now putting their lives on a back burner, putting everything they had spent the last 15 years working for on hold. It was a bit of a reality check at first.

How strange, I thought, that so many of them were only just beginning down that road. A road I was oh-so familiar with having already travelled it 3 times over. A journey that has shaped and moulded, and occasionally battered me, into the person I am today. The same journey that has made my children such warm, caring, fun-loving people.

Maybe I should explain where this gushy, outpouring of love and admiration for my children has come from. Not that I don't love and cherish them each and every day, but I had this urge today to put down what has caused this warm glow of unbelievable joy at having such wonderful kids.

If any of you have checked out my "Countdown to..." link in the side bar, you will know that next Wednesday is my Wedding Anniversary. But it's a biggy, it's our 20th.

We are both on leave from work for the week and are planning a trip into London to do all the touristy things that we have never done believe it or not. An hour and half by train, an hour by car and we have never actually been purely to be tourists! Isn't that dreadful. The capital city of my country. So we are going to put it right. Maybe visit the London Dungeon's and the Tower of London, a ride on the London Eye, Madame Tussuad's, watch Tower Bridge open from the land side, the possibilities are endless.

Tonight however, whilst my eldest daughter was visiting, they sat us down and told us that as the 20th is the China anniversary, they have booked us a table at a local All-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant for Tuesday evening, for just the two of us. Isn't that just the most lovely thing to do. I was very touched, if just a little mystified as to why Tuesday and not Wednesday.

That brief query in my mind was soon laid to rest.

The girls then presented us with an envelope each. Curious! Opening the envelope revealed a pre-paid voucher for a ride on the London Eye, but not just any ride, a Champagne ride, at a time of our choosing.

How fantastic is that. They said they wanted it to be a bit special, well I think they succeeded. God they're great kids.

PS - Whilst writing this blog the 100th person has been on and I missed you, my apologies. OK, visitor number 101, would you be kind enough to leave a comment, we're all coming to visit your blog instead!

PPS - This counter only counts NEW visitors, so if this is your first visit, and the counter is on 101, (heck missed that one too), on 102, PLEASE, Please leave a comment and I will plug your blog for you, it'll be fun!

OK, no-one wanted to play, so I have changed my counter to show how many unique visitors I have had in the last 24 hours!

Fast Forward

Who the heck put the clock into super fast forward mode?

I have been on holiday this week, all week, and since my entry for Memory Monday the week has just zipped by. I feel like I have been stood still whilst the clock has been speeding at a great rate of knots, in a hurry to get me back to work and back to life's routine.

I often think it's funny that the more 'time' we have on our hands the less 'time' we seem to have to accomplish the things we want to. Is this just me? Does anyone else have this problem?

Maybe it has to do with organising your time better. Whilst at work during the week there is much more necessity to be truly organised. My typical work day would be along these lines:

I get up early, shower, dress and have breakfast straightaway. Then I decide whether I need to greet the cold, icy inside of my freezer to retrieve an item for the days evening meal that needs defrosting before cooking. Once breakfast is cleared away, I will jump on here. Gosh, so much to do, so little time to do it!

Important things first. Sign into blogger.

Check out my fellow bloggers to see if they have a new entry up today. Cherrie will almost certainly have some scintillating tale of her sexual encounters with Hardin, but can I read it before work and still have my mind on the job? hmmmm, I'm not sure that I can. But heck, I can't just leave it there, alone, unread and unappreciated. Perhaps I'll just have a quick peek, yes that's what I'll do. Just read the first paragraph, then I will be able to give it my full attention at lunch time. So I shoot over to Cherrie's blog, and there it is, today's entry in all it's gloriousness. I begin to read...

... HAHAHA, (... Perhaps I'll just have a quick peek, yes that's what I'll do. Just read the first paragraph...) who am I trying to kid. I only get as far as the first sentence and already I have to know more; second sentence and I am hooked, I am just going to have to read the entire entry - right now.

Next I call in on Miss U's. Will she too have an entry up for today? Oh God, do I even have time to read it now? I'll make time, I know it will be worth it, it will be some brilliantly written piece, and whatever topic she has written about it will be funny, light-hearted, entertaining and memorable. What a fantastic start to the day, how could I not make the time. So I click my link to Miss U's blog, and oh my God, there it is, I scroll down with the wheel on my mouse in an attempt to ascertain whether I will have time to read it all. (my Christmas list is going to include a new wheel for my mouse, as a treat for it for working so damn hard!) Again, I think maybe just one or two lines, again I fail, miserably. Miss U's entries are always so damn captivating that after having read the first couple of lines, I have to keep reading, how can I leave something so entertaining to go to work?

Then, and only then, can I turn my attention to checking my emails and replying to any that need/warrant a response. At some point I sign into the bank to see how depressing those big red numbers and currently, I try to squeeze a short amount of time in to advance the research I have to do for a college project.

Shape's blog is calling... oh no.. really I don't have any time left, I have to do some work, I have to. So I decide to catch up with Shape at lunch, read about his travels yesterday and see some more truly amazing photographs of the places he has visited.

Oh hell, the clock has moved way too fast, I have to go tame this hair, put straighteners on to heat whilst I put my face on, just a little foundation and mascara. Straighten hair super flat. Throw on some shoes, grab a jacket and get my arse to work.. phew, just in time.

A typical day this week whilst I have been on holiday is:

Get up early (no sense in wasting time in bed)
Make a cup of tea and have breakfast.
Think about what I want to do today, the possibilities are endless.
Realise I have been sat procrastinating for an hour, go jump in shower.
What to wear? Partly depends where I am going today, haven't decided that yet.
Procrastinate some more. Get dressed.
Sign into blogger, and follow procedure above. Only have more time, so I can read slower, heck I can read Cherrie's twice, just to make sure I didn't miss anything you understand!
Wonder what to write about today? Procrastinate.
Check emails. Check Yahoo Answers as I put up a question to do with coursework and the answers deserve my attention. Wow, 15 answers already! God. Will have to check out each and everyone of these names they have given me.
Lunch time.
Shite! Lunch time! I haven't done anything yet. What shall I do this afternoon.

You get the picture. I guess I have clarified my earlier thought. When I am not at work, I do not organise my time so well. That's OK with me though. It's pretty nice not to be beholden to the clock for a week or two. Chill out a bit. No stress. Go with the flow.

In truth, I haven't wasted my entire week procrastinating.

Monday was spent mostly doing the dreaded food shop and house work, it has to be done and I didn't want it hanging over me like a black cloud of conscience for the rest of the week, interfering with my enjoyment of the lack of time constraints. This was interrupted by having to take my brother in law to the hospital to visit my sister who was admitted over the weekend.

Tuesday I had planned to spend with my daughter, shopping. The nice kind of shopping though. I have a wedding reception to attend on Saturday evening and I wanted to find something to wear. With my new 2 stone lighter figure, clothes shopping has become something I particularly enjoy again, and my daughter comes in the context of my style guru. She protects me from myself!!!! Late afternoon was spent in the kitchen preparing dinner and a raspberry mouse souffle for afters. I had invited my eldest daughter and one of her flat mates for dinner, but first I had to attend 'fat club'..that's what I call it, it reminds me of why I keep going.

Wednesday, yesterday, I decided to take myself off on a field trip. I have been lent an SLR 35mm film camera to use on my college course, and I wanted to practice with it and familiarise myself with the controls. Together with my own little point and shoot digital I drove back out to Langdon Cliff

This is the view from the vehicle entrance to the Cliffs.

Dover Castle, in all it's glory.

The Norman Castle in Dover has the longest recorded history of any British fortress. The story of Dover Castle stretches as far back as the Iron Age, and continues up to and beyond the Second World War.
King Henry II rebuilt the castle, realizing its strategic position just 20 miles from the shores of France. The castle was always strongly defended as Britain's front line fortress, guarding not just the town of Dover but the whole island.

Once on foot I followed the 2-mile pathway towards the lighthouse at Foreland Point. I won't bore you with the pictures I took of the cliffs as I have posted those here previously, but here are a few other things that I enjoyed whilst following the meandering chalk path high above the ocean.


... and Fauna

... and these

I never got quite as far as the lighthouse, due to time restraints, (how the heck did they slip back into my week?) but I reckon I walked about 3 miles along the top of the cliffs, just me, myself and I, it was fantastic. I drove home and arrived just as my daughter finished her driving lesson. Then it was off to the cinema for the early part of the evening.

Time vs Windows

I had my entry all written up, ready to add a couple of lovely pics and then boom

"A runtime error has occured" GRRRR

So in view of the fact that I didn't have time to do anything about it, I went out. Now I am back, briefly, I see that half of what I had prepared is missing and I do not have the time to sort it out now before college.

Time. It's always the fault of Time. Time is always against us, why can't it work with us once in a while. Come to that, why can't windows just stop throwing hissy fits and perform the tasks that I ask?

In view of the fact that both Windows and Time have decided I should not blog today, it will now have to wait until tomorrow.

Hope everyone else had a good day.

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Memory Monday - Pocket Hugs

This week's Memory is from 14 years ago.

My youngest daughter, K, at 3 years old, began to attend the local playschool group. For the previous year there had only been me and her at home during the day. My son and eldest daughter were at primary school, and with G at work all week, me and K were sort of dependant on each other for company, conversation and amusement.

She was such a happy little girl, a real cheeky grin, a huge heart and she always had a pocket full of hugs that she would dish out to whoever she thought needed one. If you looked a bit sad or fed up, she would stand beside you and say 'do you want a hug mummy' which would always invoke the biggest of smiles and she would then hold open her pocket and you would have to pick out a hug and put it in your own pocket. Once safely tucked away, she would throw her arms around you and give you the biggest, squishiest cuddle you could hope for. God knows how I used to get all her hugs into one pocket! As she got older, and began to recognise that the look of concentration was not the same as sad the hugs got

Having regularly been with me when collecting her sister from playschool prior to her starting at 'big school' she was excited about going herself, she couldn't wait to do all those exciting things her big sister had done and she was looking forward to her first visit.

Initially it was hard to leave her. Who was I going to share my day with now? I didn't work when my children were young, and so when I delivered her into the entrusted care of the playgroup leader I was to return to an empty, silent, still house. K found it equally difficult. Somewhere in her little brain she had figured that she would get to playschool, and be able to do all those things she'd been itching to do, but that I would be there on the sideline, in view, comfortingly close by. I took her in that first day, and we settled down at the jigsaw table and began a jigsaw together. After about 5 minutes, with her seemingly at ease, I took a deep breath and said

Me "OK darling, you have lots of fun and mummy will be back to pick you up in a little while"

K "Where are you going?"

M "I'm going home for a little bit while you have fun. Then when I come back you can tell me all about your morning darling"


M "I have to darling, mummies aren't allowed to play here, this is just for special little people, but I won't be long"

K "No. Please don't go, (sob, sob, sob), please don't leave me (sob, sob,sob)"

Well you get the picture. I was stood there with K clinging to my legs like a frightened rabbit caught in the headlights. Not a clue what to do. I wanted to protect her from her fears, to pick her up and hold her tight. To return some of her pocket hugs. But I was having so much trouble controlling my own emotions, my own tears that I could not let her see. My instinct to grab her and leave was over-ruled by my instinct to want her to learn how to start to be independant, but not sufficiently over-ruled to know how to achieve it.

The playgroup leader came over and put her hand gently on my back. 'Don't be so bloody caring you fool' I thought to myself 'I was only just holding back the tears of guilt at putting my precious little girl through this ordeal, and now you have this ever so understanding hand on my back I can't hold it in anymore' and down my face they streaked. Her advice was to say goodbye quickly, turn round, walk away, keep walking and don't whatever you do, don't look back. She advised to get outside, then stand and listen, she assured me K would settle very quickly once I had left.

My god that was the hardest minutes walk I think I have ever taken. Every mothering bone and instinct in my body wanted to sweep K up in my arms and hold her tight, tell her everything would be OK and wipe away her tears, but I just kept walking. Once outside, I hovered. My tear-streaked face lowered to hide it from the other mothers dropping off the little ones. My ears pinned back, easily picking out the cries of my daughter above the laughter of the other 20 or so kids. A few minutes later, my ears having accustomed to the noise levels, I struggled to hear her, but there she was again. Laughing.

This ritual carried on for the first half a dozen visits, but very quickly it reverted to the quick kiss at the door, if I was lucky before she had raced away to play with her new found friends, barely glancing back to see if Mummy needed one of those special hugs.

She would play in the sand box, and the water tub, and maybe, if she could get away with it, the water would sometimes make its way to the sand box! Well, it makes the sand stick together so much easier doesn't it! She would sit with all the other children during their 'circle' time and join in with the songs, quickly learning all the actions, helped by the fact that she would come home and teach me and we would spend many hours at home together, singing these songs whilst involved in some other activity. Her favourite passtime though was painting. God she loved to paint. Invariably she would apply half a pot of blue, followed by half a pot of red, a dash of green, a splattering of yellow, a smidgen of purple and a smudge or 5 of orange to the piece of clean white paper on the easel, stand back and admire it, and feeling flushed with success at her fantastic master piece, would start on the next one.

This was great of course, for her. Not so great for me though. When I went to pick her up at lunch time she would proudly show off all her paintings, the paper soft and soggy from the sheer amount of paint that had been applied. I would have a step by step explanation of what each picture was about, who the people were that I had mistaken for blobs of paint, the house that was not there and the garden which didn't exist! I honed my acting skills over those years, people, of course I can see them, and yes darling, that does look like Daddy.

After the reviews, she would want to take them home... obviously. Have you ever tried to walk a mile in the pouring rain with a 3 year old and more paintings than an art gallery, but wet ones? No I thought not. Take my advice. Don't. By the time we got home the painting would have taken on a whole new 'modern art', but she didn't mind, she just used to look at them, decided what they had become, and then when Dad got in she would go through her reviews for him, but it would be nothing like the ones I had been given earlier in the day.

Later on of course, I got less explanation and more

"Can you see what it is Mummy?" (blag it Ali, blag it, go on, think of something... well?... family, that's usually a safe bet, tell her it's Mummy and Daddy at home).

I never got it right of course!

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