Monday, 2 March 2015

A Much Needed Break

Another month or more seems to have passed in the blink of an eye and still I'm an absent blogger! I'm trying (and failing) to catch up on my favourite blogs but the Bloglovin feed is enormous and I get further and further behind.

I have so many things happening all of which I fail to photograph or write about and I miss that community I was a part of; I really must try harder as my teachers used to say!

Life is as busy as ever with the Winter cricket schedule, GCSE's for Number 2 son imminent and gymnastics and cricket for Little Miss. I'm not sure how the exams are likely to go for Number 2 as he keeps us at arms length most of the time, his teenage outbursts show no signs of diminishing. They are often fuelled by his sugar addiction and I still try to hide any treats we have in the house! (And we don't have that many anyway) The list of hiding places for the packed lunch snack bars has almost been exhausted - we've gone from inside the tumble dryer, a plant pot on a high shelf, in a variety of pretty storage tins, inside a china hamper. In a picnic bag on top of the freezer to inside the ironing basket under the clothes - all these places have been found as has the cooking chocloate! He's not too clever though as the wrappers are still in his pockets and the trail of crumbs always leads to him! My most ingenious plan was to hide them in a tin, on the kitchen worktop, marked biscuits - however that was soon discovered!
 The latest hiding place (which we're likely to forget about too) is in the hall, can you see them?
look closely on top of the beam
In other news The Builder and I took a whistle stop trip to Prague in the Czechoslovakian Republic, booked over Christmas as a treat to us. Little Miss stayed with my Mum for 3 nights and Number 2 stayed home alone - we were very unsure about this but other than manhandling a six footer into the car kidnap style we had no choice as he refused to budge! He actually managed to cope and get up for school better than on any other day but that didn't stop us worrying!

We left home in the early hours of last Wednesday for a 6.45am flight from London Stansted. It's been a long time since we've been able to fly from Stansted and I'd forgotten how close it is to us, only an hour and a half - and how easy is it to fly with just a cabin bag and no kids???

So we arrived in Prague in time for breakfast which included some hot mulled wine and a bun!! We behaved like kids who'd escaped home for a few days (which in effect we had) and I was tiddly by 11am! We giggled a lot and staggered to our hotel for a midday nap! 
Whatever would the kids think.........

We stayed at The Savic Hotel which was lovely and near the old town square - I think! It had heaps of character in the old building and we stayed on the forth floor which had an abundance of ceiling beams and quirky steps and beautiful stonework.
a lounge area on the landing

The hotel was very reasonably priced and came almost top on Tripadvisor which was why we chose it; it was also near to the Old Square and the main street with shops and nightlife. I say we think it was because whilst every day or evening it took us just about 10-15 minutes to get back to the hotel from wherever we were it actually took us well over an hour to get anywhere from the hotel, we walked in many circles and often, after half an hour or more of walking found ourselves in the spot we'd started from. Never have I been so lost on so many occasions - and I do have history of getting lost I can assure you!

We visited the Castle, a fair distance up hill, which was beautiful and the church within it's wall which was spectacular. It was worth the entrance price and we spent quite some time there. It is apparently the largest castle complex in the world, and it was huge.
A view of the castle taken from Charles Bridge, you can see the top of the cathedral in the distance

On Charles Bridge

Getting closer to the castle

We watched the changing of the guard, a far more elaborate event than in London. 
See the brass section at the windows?

Within the castle walls is St Vitus Cathedral, again spectacular but very difficult to photograph. It was very tall and just inside the castle complex so standing far back to get it all in the picture wasn't an option.

We also had a wander round the torture chamber!
fancy a seat!
And saw the Crown Jewels!

What lovely blue skies we had too, perfect weather for wandering around a new place. As the temperature was due to be roughly the same as in the UK I had expected weather the same, but no. What I have never realised was quite how unique our English weather can be, when it's Winter here we expect the cold to be accompanied by rain, wind and often snow or hail. The weather in Prague was just beautiful as well as being cold. The sky was bright blue, the sun shining and no wind at all. So very different to home, and how nice it was to be wrapped up but still sitting outside for a coffee (or a hot wine...again!)

We enjoyed some lovely food and more hot wine, but most of all enjoyed some quality time together.
 We saw some of the nightlife, something we've not done on holiday for many a year. And nightlife has certainly changed... or maybe that's just Prague? I'm fairly open minded and the topless (and often bottomless) pole dancers on the bar in several places we went to for a drink didn't bother me, it made for interesting people watching of the others in the bar though!

We even got into the art of the "selfie"!

We did a lot of sitting and enjoying the view and the company but the time went very quickly, we only had 2 nights there and we were back in the UK by lunchtime Friday - not long enough really.

Now a trip away for us must involve a calamity of some sort, you may remember previous stories? Well this was no exception! We decided to travel just one stop on the underground Metro, due to getting lost and having very achy feet. We found it easily enough and followed the crowd onto the platform. We couldn't see where to buy a ticket so assumed we'd pay at the end (we'd seen no one else pay), however this is not possible! Anyway we were randomly stopped by an 8 foot tall policeman/guard who asked for our tickets, we explained we hadn't found where to pay and had followed everyone else, we offered to pay whatever the fare was and apologised profusely  but he was having none of it and we were fined about £50 as fare dodgers - how embarrassing to be marched to a cashpoint machine and made to pay around £50! I guess the other option was arrest!!
You knew there'd be a disaster story somewhere didn't you?!

Anyway we're aiming to have a lot more getaways in the future, avoiding imprisonment obviously!

See you soon

Monday, 12 January 2015

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

I thought I'd elaborate a little on these up and down hormones I'm experiencing at the moment; judging by the comments and emails I've received I'm not the only one suffering!

Now suffering is too strong a word I know and actually the symptoms I'm experiencing could be far worse and certainly are for others. However they are a problem and I've been surfing the net to find out more - it makes interesting reading and there's lots I wish I'd known a while ago!

I had no trouble through puberty and never had any problems on a monthly basis, maybe I got a bit "moody" (others will tell you I did) but actually never any pain or discomfort for me and always 28 days apart to the minute!

However at this end of the hormonal scale things are a little different and boy don't they go on for what feels like a lifetime?! As I approached 40 things started to change on a monthly basis, dates became muddled and didn't always follow the calendar and I got very anaemic. I felt generally under the weather, tired and run down and was also gaining weight quite rapidly. It doesn't help when one of you good friends is the practice nurse at your local surgery and when you tell her you haven't eaten for a week and have still gained 5lb's she points out you went out for a pizza and bottle of wine with her 2 nights before!

However as she also pointed out I had 3 young children, a home, a business and had just started a part time office job - no wonder I was a little "under the weather"! After very many doctors appointments and a little discussion about early menopause (family history of this) it was deemed I had started the downward spiral to old age (that's how it felt not actually what it was!) 
However after a while it was also discovered I had an underactive thyroid gland and this 
was causing a good many of the symptoms. 
It took around 2 years to regulate my thyroid and get the dose of thyroxine right, 
and some of the symptoms remained.

I noticed also that global warming had come to Norfolk and would wander around the house in a T-shirt due to the increased temperature. This was a permanent thing, not hot flashes or flushes. I turned the heating down in Winter and asked for the fan heater to be taken out of the room at work. I noticed that others were huddled in their duffel coats but it didn't register at the time! 

It very gradually dawned on me that the temperature thing may be just me. And then the hot sweats started, with avengence! I do find that one of the most embarrassing things, a little trickle of persperation may just run down the side of my very red face from time to time and bears to relation to the temperature of the room, or indeed the freezing conditions I may be standing in. Mopping my brow while everyone else is cold and piling on the layers is so strange! I've tried to find the triggers for the "hot moments" without luck. I've removed caffeine for a while but it didn't help, any hot drink seems to trigger a flush, even hot water. I removed alcohol, which seemed to help very slightly but as I drink about twice a year as a rule (except in the last few months - but that's another story!) it wasn't much help. The worst trigger of all, one I hate, is contact with another person - if I hold hands I get a clammy palm, if The Builder throws an arm around me I immediately go red and feel the hot sweat start from my knees and go upward - 
not a sign of passion either! I don't sleep well anymore (another symptom) but lying in bed with one leg dangling on the floor and wafting the duvet about doesn't help.

However what I have discovered and what has become the most difficult to handle for many reasons is the anxiety. You may remember my complete panic and feelings of inadequacy at the change of job about a year ago. I didn't connect the two at the time but it has recently become clear. This is a common symptom with the menopause, anxiety, depression and feelings of panic - going hand in hand with feelings of being inadequate.

Obviously not everyone gets all the symptoms, I have a friend of 72 who is still waiting for the first sign of menopause (apart from the fact her periods stopped some years ago).

But for me it does explain the fact that our slight hiccup in family and marital life, something which would have been brushed aside years ago is so hard to process and get past. I have got over similar and worse things before although a part of me thinks "actually I'm nearly 50, the kids are getting older, I'm not taking any sh*t anymore". 
But I know my reaction is massively disproportionate to the event, which really is minor. 
The menopause websites and forums do make reassuring reading and I hope that I nearing the end??? other news.... we have a 12 year old birthday to celebrate tomorrow, sadly a school and gymnastics day/evening but she wants a Chinese takeaway on Wednesday and a few friends over for a movie and popcorn on Sunday, with a chocolate cake made to her specification, which was "surprise me with something spectacular" No pressure then!....

And then on Monday I go for my annual check-in to the asylum, I can't get there quick enough!
My friend is picking me up first thing Monday morning and we'll stop for morning coffee on the way, and then stop for lunch (well it is a 3 hour journey!) then she has assured me that the ladies in white coats will wheelchair or carry me from the car to my first treatment bed - if the ladies in white coats are not available my friend has promised to carry me to the nearest horizontal surface herself!
I've packed a bottle of Prosecco (or 2, well we are there for 3 nights, hot flushes here I come!), some fudge and 2 plastic champagne flutes - we've moved up market from drinking
out of the toothbrush mug!

So I'll see you after my short break, I hope all is well with you?

Lots of love

ps  I hope the above wasn't too much information but I'd had lots of comments and emails from people who were feeling similar.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The start of a New Year, Hello 2015!

Hello all, this is again quite a brief post as I try to bring myself back to somewhere near normal; 
my normal anyway!

Christmas is over and the decorations are down (only just), the pine needles have clogged the hoover and will remain stuck to my slippers for some months!

We had our Christmas Eve traditional visit to Holt, a beautiful market town in Norfolk which is always a feast for the eyes over Christmas. A feast for the tummy too if you know where to go, and we do! Christmas was pretty quiet, we had my Mum over for the day (first time in several years) and much effort was made on both sides to create a little family harmony. Of course Number 1 son was home from University and very quickly dropped back into lazy mode, 
but we enjoyed having him home none the less.

The younger 2 had their final cricket trials just before Christmas, Little Miss attempting to gain entry to the girls Under 13 Norfolk squad and Number 2 son trying for the Under 17's (boys, obviously) - he's only 15 but they don't have an Under 16 team. A difficult one for him as it's exams in the Summer term (cricket term) and as he's trying for Under 17's he's battling against older boys. Number 1 son remains part of the Under 19 squad and didn't have to trial (and it is a trial for us as well as them!)

The good news is that all 3 children are now representing their county for cricket! Hooray for them. The downside is obviously that we'll be trundling about the country even more, and I struggled to cope with the timetable of matches and training last year! And the cost, don't even get me started - new kit, travelling, overnight stays for 2 day matches, petrol, time off work........

New Year was celebrated quietly at a friends house, it should have been a party but only us and 1 other family of 4 turned up - not the wildest night I've ever had!

And after a lot of time off work and studies we are now about to get back to normal, Number 1 son left the house half an hour ago for the journey back to Uni, and I'm very teary eyed!

But onwards and upwards, it's a fresh start!

I'm afraid I didn't take 1 single photo throughout the whole festive holiday, my bloggy head well and truly fell off, and I can't actually remember how to be a blogger at the moment - 
I hope it'll come back to me soon.

Thank you for all the sweet, kind and thoughtful comments and emails they are very much appreciated. I'm still struggling and seem to have got everything way out of proportion, I feel sure these weird hormones are causing much of the upset and panic, despite not being the trigger. The tears are just below the surface all the time, this is so unusual for me.

I've researched a bit and these feelings often go hand in hand with the hot flushes etc although I thought I was fine I do remember my extreme panic a year ago when my job changed and I felt (uncharacteristically) out of my depth.

So with everyone back at their respective places of study by Tuesday and me back to work I will try to catch up on the blogs I've so much enjoyed in 2014 and will leave comments to say Hi.

Thank you once again for the caring messages and a very Healthy, Happy and Safe 2015 
from me to all of you.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas from me to you

A very Merry Christmas from me to you.

I'm sorry to have been absent for such a long time, and absent from your blogs too,
 it wasn't my intention to be away so long.

We had a little life hiccup mid- October which rather threw me into a tailspin.
 Nothing too worry about, no illness or worse.

I really needed to hide for a bit but now what I need to do is to give myself a good shake, an even bigger talking to and get back to real life!

I've never been a person prone to "low" moments but I was completely thrown for a while, menopausal hormones possibly made things worse!

I aim to recharge over Christmas and be back to my normal self in the New Year.

Many thanks to everyone who contacted me, either by commenting or by email, you truly are some lovely people and it was very much appreciated.
 It really helped to have real-life friends around and many blog-friends at the other end of the pc.

Just to put a positive spin on things, I've lost nearly a stone in weight so every cloud........

Now pass me the double chocolate, steamed, melting-in-the-middle pudding!!

Sending lots of love & see you in 2015!


Monday, 3 November 2014

Just to say......

that I am still here!

Things have turned a bit strange at home and I'm needing to hide myself under the duvet for a while, just to "re-group".

I'm afraid I haven't even dipped into blogland to read or comment so I apologise, and thank you to those who got in touch concerned about my absence - don't worry, it'll be ok in the end!!

See you soon

Friday, 3 October 2014

When the cat's away.....

It's been a stressful week (when isn't it?) . Number 1 son has sent more text messages and emails (from all 3 of his email accounts) sometimes all coming at the same time (that boy can certainly multi-task) than I can count. There's hardly been time to move away from a screen...he's needed his medical form (it was in his bag) he needed his online banking details (it was in a folder marked banking; in his bag) he needed more books, could we possibly order them (who's paying?) He needed more contact lenses, could we possibly post them (why didn't he take them all, they're the size of a pea (almost)). Could we post the phone charger, a shirt and more other things than I can count!
 He's also made me feel incredibly guilty as he's turning into me
(not in a sex change kind of way!) and is worrying about everything.
 He was worried that if he joined the gym he wouldn't know how to use the equipment, but if he went with a gym-tastic friend who did know he'd look silly. 
When he did join the gym he sent many texts to say he thought he'd joined the wrong gym
 (there are 2 main one's on campus) and he'd also paid the wrong fee!

He's worried that the course is far too hard and everyone else understands it except him. He was worried that he was too hungover to follow the first lecture (who's fault is that?) 
He has worried about absolutely everything.....just like I do! He's wanted to change the course, drop out (but not leave his halls and come home) and run away and hide. Today he seems like he may have turned a corner and I've had fewer messages and all of them a little  happier. 
It's not stopped me worrying though!!

It was a tough week at work too, I know I'm not full time but it still felt like a very long week.
I still have no clue what I'm doing and very many letters landed on my desk on Monday from unhappy clients! It did (after a sleepless night) turn out to be an error at the other end of the line and nothing to do with me (or the company I work for!) When one of my colleagues showed me the heap of letters she had also from clients I must admit to blurting out "I'm so pleased!".

And then my dear Gran has been taken poorly again, and spent another night in hospital. I had a message from my Dad to say he was on his way from Wales with the rest of the dragons in tow and would I meet him there. Luckily now I no longer have a school run to do I could manage the hour and a half journey there to coincide with his arrival - 
she was being discharged from hospital and being taken back to her care home. 
He'd been told by the doctor that time was very short and if we wanted to visit it would be best to do so sooner rather than later. I'd made a decision some time ago that my children had seen her for the last time, I preferred them to remember the Gran they've always known, the one who chased The Builder around the room with her stick when he dared to suggest she'd bought her house newly built - it was built around 1900! I can't believe that it's not quite 12 months since my visit to her, when she was noticeably more frail and a little confused. We had a few giggles but I was worried about leaving her. She had insisted on that trip that I give her a new hair-do, "being that you're a hairdresser" (I've never been a hairdresser!) and also introduced me to her neighbour as "my Grandaughter who's got 3 sons you know".

She's been at the care home for most of this year, and has deteriorated an awful lot, I guess it's not a surprise as she is 94, but it's not so nice to see. She seems to be mentally in quite a happy place as she believes she's out in the car on day trips most days!
Gran with her son, his 2 daughters and 1 of her great-grandaughters -
I'm the short-arse in the middle at the back - I'm the product of a 5' Mum and a 6'4" Dad

Anyway she was delivered back from the hospital and in true Gran style sat up at the table and wolfed down sausage and mash, strawberry cheesecake and a mug of tea! 
We had a nice chat and then I left as she dozed; it was a good visit and I know
 there won't be many more.

But this weekend is all about ME!
The Builder is away to Butlins with 9 friends to boogie (or more likely drink) his way around a dance floor with a cheesy 80's backdrop of bands 
(some real, some look-a-likey). 
It's an excuse to unwind and he does need it; 
it's very much a case of "what happens in Skegness, stays in Skegness"!
I may ridicule the venue, I do, many, many times! But we did have a very nice Christmas break there as a family a few years ago, the kids enjoyed it but we were sworn to secrecy -
we must never, ever, tell their friends!
So if you know any of their friends please feel free to drop it into conversation......

And while the cat is away, what should the mouse do? Well I've cleaned the house and fumigated his pile of grubby work clothes. I've invited a friend and her boys over tonight, and another friend over tomorrow evening when Little Miss also has a sleepover for her 2 best friends.
We're having a takeaway tonight, and then maybe a spot of pudding!!

and it wouldn't be a proper meal without chocolate would it?

Anyone want to join my pudding club?

Actually I may call off the friends visiting, send the kids to bed early and have a weekend alone.....just me and my sweet tooth.....

Well that is if I survive the weekend without being shipped off to A & E (rest assured I'd grab the banoffee pie on the way out), I've just gone the length of my bedroom a la skating on ice!
It appears that The Builder sprayed his shoes with Mr Sheen polish before he left (he is good, he cleans them every year!) and he seems to have sprayed the floor
(and not wiped it up) - the floorboards are as skiddy as a glacier! 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Will we have a hat trick?

Well Number 1 son was delivered to Uni on Tuesday, it was all very exciting and a little scary too.

We drove up in 3 hours (I'm thinking that's do-able in an emergency - or if I just need to give him a hug) and drove onto the campus and straight to the door of his halls. Outside the main block students were all about to help you unload and also had a DJ playing music outside the main building. As we stepped out of the car the loud rap music blared out "mothef***r, motherf***r" which was a little surprising and not ever so welcoming! It then segued nicely into "Walking on Sunshine" in an 80's disco kind of way - covering all tastes there.... all very bizarre!

His room is like a small cell with no room to swing a cat, luckily cats aren't allowed so that's not a problem! He has two huge notice boards on each side of the room which looked useful; until we saw the small sign saying you mustn't use sticky tape, pins or tac (blue or white) on these boards - maybe he'll have to go back to play group and use flour and water glue! Pretty handy notice boards then.......

 Poor quality photos taken on my poor quality phone, I forgot the camera!
And this photo and/or dress appears to make my body look like that of a middle aged 
round shaped lady! I'm also still trying to grow my hair into, well, something! 

We unpacked his stuff and realised how poorly equipped he actually was! As he's in catered halls we were told that all kitchen equipment is supplied (he's only catered Mon-Fri)  I don't know but 2 small saucepans and 1 frying pan just doesn 't seem enough for 4 people?? That was all the equipment there was, unles there's a huge stocked cupboard which we just couldn't find.
He'd also turfed out all the tins of baked beans which I'd boxed up for him before we left home as he thought I'd over done it - he then realised he'd only bought 1 tin with him - hopefully that'll keep him going til Christmas!

I made his bed, probably the only time it will ever actually be made, I stored the change of bed linen in the cupboard and warned him it had better be used!

We managed to slide his huge cricket bag under the desk to avoid it taking up the entire floor space and introduced ourselves to his neighbour. The lad in the next door room had a crate of Pot Noodles and a crate of beer - he was very well equipped!

Number 1 son got himself signed up for a few things and then we had a trip to Tesco for fresh supplies, he can only cook one pasta dish involving white wine and fresh cream, I imagine his shopping list will never include those 2 items again!

So we left him there late afternoon and he found out that night  that his cricket trial for the top flight uni cricketers (he's not top flight but it's worth a shot) was in the middle of Fresher's week - is that a deliberate move to test commitment?

We drove from Loughborough home via Norwich to catch the end of Little Miss's County cricket trial. As I said before a lot goes on in the County set up which doesn't seem quite right - money/name/school/business etc talks it seems. Anyway all the girls trialling had been told before the session started that they were all through to the next round! Hooray you might think, and we did indeed congratulate her and celebrate with a McFlurry. All I will add is that the first 2 trial sessions are free, if you go through to the next round the trials cost £50, and they all went through....make of that what you will; I'm saying no more!

So maybe all 3 of them will eventually pay ahem, I mean play for Norfolk?

Eating a McFlurry on the run for tea isn't exactly nutritious, not helped by the text from Number 1 son to say Uni food is fab, beef and mushroom stroganoff and key lime pie!

Anyway Number 2 son is also through to the next round of his trails at Under 17 level, there is a lot more I could say about this also (although he certainly deserves a place in the squad) but you never know who's reading the blog! I'm fairly sure if I spoke out too much it wouldn't help their cricket careers. A friends son, in a younger age group, is a superb bowler and his statistics for 2014 place him number 2 in the country (that's country not county) for his age; he's just been overlooked for the emerging players programme in Norfolk! Sums it all up really!!

Anyway we heard late last night that Number 1 son hasn't made it to the next round of trials at Uni (as expected) but now trials again at the next level down so there will be no let up in the amount of cricket played, maybe a little less driving about for us though! Well I say less driving, The Builder had to be talked out of driving back to Loughborough to watch Number 1's indoor practice session!!
I must say we've heard far more from him in the last few days than we did at home in the last few years; even a text at 10 to 5 this morning saying he was off to bed - obviously we didn't see it at that time!

The cricket season should have finished, and I thought maybe a little DIY and gardening could be on the cards, sadly The Builder is currently up at the pitch tending to the grass and anything else which needs doing before Winter - bug**r the grass at home then!

We do have a night out planned though, a trip the the theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird, one of my very favourite books. I've read it several times and seen it at the theatre once before, it was the best thing play I've ever seen - I hope this production is as good. 
And I hope The Builder doesn't nod off!

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!