Monthly Archives: February 2009

Up, up and away

The whole story is documented on Flickr – unfortunately in reverse order, so you do best to go to and do the slideshow if you’re that stuck for something to do to while away the hours!

This was, though, the most memorable event of the whole holidays. As my sister and I offered encouragement from the dining-room window, armed with cups of coffee, the team of my nephew, his wife, and the Smudgelet – later joined by my brother-in-law – set to work on a great experiment…

Adventures with a hot air balloon Adventures with a hot air balloon Adventures with a hot air balloon Adventures with a hot air balloon Adventures with a hot air balloon Adventures with a hot air balloon

They tied two pieces of string on so that they wouldn’t lose it…. but some daft fool gave the strings to the Smudgelet to hold….

Adventures with a hot air balloon

Good job it landed in a tree on the far side of the busy main road, and not a few metres nearer. In fact, it was only slightly damaged so my niece-in-law slipped off her shoes and socks (to the Smudgelet’s utter surprise and horror, forgetting that she is newly arrived in the UK from her home in Kenya where shoes and socks are not deemed practical footwear for tree climbing!) and deftly retrieved it, ready for next time.

It is better to travel hopefully, isn’t it?

From my sister’s we went to Morley for the St Pixels meet at a retreat centre there. My initial thought was that I’d made a big mistake – I was far from ready for being surrounded by a large group of people and had to keep making my apologies and heading rapidly for the sanctuary of the toilet with a packet of tissues. It was only the fact that the Smudgelet was having such fun that kept me there. I guess having a phone call from one of the legal folks just as I arrived didn’t help, but it was a necessary evil. But everyone was incredibly supportive and it gradually got easier, both to talk about our situation and to forget it as appropriate.

I managed three out of the five services. For one I found myself getting slightly tearful – not an easy situation when you’re sitting in a horseshoe as I’m not one for having the whole congregation feeling the need to comfort me! I slipped outside and continued the rest of the service just sitting quietly on the floor outside the door, part of what was going on, yet alone with God and my soggy tissues. Little did I know that up in the office there sat a trained nurse who caught sight of me in the CCTV camera and was concerned that I might be having an angina attack. Luckily he decided against rushing to my aid…. I could have found myself prone on the floor with a nurse on my chest giving me the kiss of life….. hmm…. now there’s a thought!

Highlight of the weekend was, of course, croquet. I love croquet. I’m useless at it (and really frustrated because I ought to be OK at it, seeing that it’s a game combining a good aim (which I usually have – well, reasonable anyway) and a mean nature (no comment!). But I’m hopeless 🙂 I find it so funny, though, that you look at pictures of croquet games in the past and it looks so gentile and ladylike…. but in reality it’s a wonderful game for being spiteful and devious and downright nasty to your opponents! Obviously my handicap is that I’m far too nice. (OK, you can stop laughing now!)

On the Sunday we then set out on our homeward leg of the journey. I’d decided to take the Smudgelet out of school for a day and go and visit my friend in London with her new baby, stopping overnight with some other friends nearby. The Smudgelet and I had a bit of fun thinking up the excuses I might make to his head teacher for why he wasn’t at school. The one we didn’t think of was…” the car broke down and we had to sit for an hour and a half by the A52 waiting for the RAC to tow the car to a garage in the middle of nowhere and to transport us back to the retreat house where we’d have to stay for two more days until the car was repaired”.


Financially I really could have done without that. Emotionally, though, I have to admit I got a lot out of it, as the retreat house was so quiet and peaceful and also there was a quiet day being run there on the Monday. A kind offer from the manager of the house (or rather, from his wife dropping him in it) to keep an eye on the Smudgelet meant that I was able to join in and spend the day in meditation led by an inspirational speaker – a Lenten workshop on learning to listen to God and trust Him in times of uncertainty. How clear a sign was that of God having a finger in the pie?

Now I just have to learn to do it. The trusting, that is. For myself, but also for the Smudgelet who’s struggling to see the good in life at the moment.

It’s better to travel hopefully?

The washing is now all done, I am only coughing intermittantly and pukey boy is much improved, Chris has solved my dashboard problem (or rather, come up with a way to fix it so it isn’t so much of a problem) and now I am free to blog our trip away.

It was a mega trip. First we spent the day with my sister and visited eldest son for his review and for a proper family visit. That went well. Then we drove from there to my other sister’s. This is where the fun started. About five miles after setting out we hit the bad traffic. My brother-in-law commented, when I told him that, that he’d expected me to say we’d hit the bad traffic in Birmingham, but I went on to explain that we hit the bad traffic as we set out and it continued all the way to the other side of Birmingham. As if that weren’t enough, we escaped from the motorway after Birmingham for our hour’s journey through the backroads of the Midlands, only to be engulfed by thick thick fog. Boy, was that an interesting drive! Luckily the Smudgelet fell asleep and I was able simply to drive slowly and carefully and ignore the fact that our three hour journey took us more than five!

Three blissful days followed, staying with my sister and her husband, and with my nephew and his wife joining us for a day and a half of those. Most of the time we just sat and nattered, of course, though my beloved sister did drag me to a new experience – a Pilates class. I am now fully zipped! And C and L and the Smudgelet and I booked a court for an hour and had an energetic game of .. well, I guess you could call it “badminton”, though played by Mornington Crescent style rules. I don’t know which muscles got the most severe workout – the running around waving a raquet muscles, the bending down picking up a shuttlecock muscles, or the rolling on the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter muscles.

A separate post for the main event of the stay, though, methinks.

For those of you who nagged…

Apart from the fact that I look vaguely demented in these photos…. partly because I was holding the camera at arm’s length and trying to see the viewfinder in the mirror so I could see when I was in shot, partly because I am vaguely demented…. this is basically what I look like with short hair.

My overall verdict? It’ll be growing a bit longer before I go back to the hairdresser. I was right and my friend was wrong – with my hair’s preference for disobedience, its determination to be straight and flat and uninspired (even if permed it reverts to straight and flat and uninspired), and its total unwillingness to stay in position even with enough hairspray to immobilise an armada, I think the ability to tie it back is sufficient reason to let it grow again as I only like it short for the ten minutes after I’ve spent an hour with mousse and hairdrier and comb and brute force getting it into a temporary “not too bad” look.

But it’ll do 🙂

If you’re of a delicate disposition, look away now!

The new haircut The new haircut

test post

This is what happens when I try to type a new post onto the dashboard, the letters simply disappear behind the boxes at the side of the screen and I end up having to type completely blind because I cannot see what I am typing. This afternoon it actually worked properly, which is particularly strange, but now it is doing this again and I cannot see what I am typing at all. I will publish this to my wiblog so that you can see what I actually did type in case that is helpful.

Sorrow into dancing?

The phone call didn’t say “Would you mind..” or “would you be able to..” or “I was wondering whether…”. The phone call said “I have a hymn I want you to play for us on Sunday”. I wonder if it was a deliberate ploy, after all, this person knows what’s happening in our lives at the moment and how difficult I’m finding it to make my way through the whole of a church service without even a moment’s step outside to hide my tears. It’s a long time since I’ve played in church. A long time since I’ve stood at the front, in full view of everyone, and my seat of choice has moved from the front row to the back, near the door. But presented to me as a fait accompli, it was never going to be something I could easily refuse to do.

I stood in the kitchen after the phone call. Slightly shell-shocked, I think. The tune I am to play seemed to rub it all in. Jesus put this song into our hearts? The song we sang at my eldest son’s christening and thanksgiving service? I started mulling over the words. Song in our hearts, yes OK. Jesus taught us how to be a family? OK. Jesus turned our sorrow into dancing, turned our tears of sadness into rivers of joy? How could I play that, let alone sing it?

Odd, then, that I found myself not only mulling over the words, but singing them? Singing them at the top of my voice in the privacy of my kitchen? And not only singing them, but dancing them? The sorrow is profound at the moment, so profound that I’m a little afraid of it. Sentencing has moved a step nearer and I won’t see my son again before we’re together in that courtroom for (hopefully) the last time. But I know, deep inside, that I will survive it; changed, but intact and safe through God’s love for me and for him.

Sorrow can be scary. But just as Jesus wept outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus, I believe there is a place for weeping. I’ve set aside a safe time to grieve my loss once sentencing is over, and grieve I shall. I sometimes wonder, when a funeral is heavily biased towards being a celebration of life and fails to acknowledge the depth of loss and sorrow and give space for tears, whether it misses something healing. When I asked the doctor whether I needed something to help me sleep and eat better, she said that I needed not to mask my emotions, but to feel them and go through it – and she was right. I’ve managed six months without antidepressants and will go through the grieving process which is to come without them too, I hope. I shall grieve, but Jesus will turn my sorrow into dancing – I won’t grieve for ever.

cough… cough…. cough….

The trouble with going away for a holiday is that you sort of end up having to come home again. Coming home isn’t the problem, it’s unloading the car and washing the accumulated washing. Oh, and dealing with the special treat brought home with us from Uncle P’s. Excuse me while I make myself a lemsip and try to think what would be best from our depleted larder for a pukey boy to eat for breakfast. And here was me thinking he’d be at school and I could simply load the washing machine and hie myself off to the spa for the morning.


You’d think after seven years, I’d know better..

…than to expect a compliment from the Smudgelet.

“You don’t like your hair like that, do you Mum? Are you going to complain? It makes you look really old”

Thanks Smudgelet.

Me? I love it. It’s much much shorter but it’s really nice. The only complaint is that it actually makes me look younger. Not that that isn’t nice, but it really isn’t a reader’s hairstyle. Reader as in person who likes reading. There is a piece of hair which swings down when I lean my head forward and which is just too short to tuck behind my ears. And so I find myself feeling like the young pre-teen, for ever pushing her hair back out of her eyes. But I love it.

And the hand/arm massage was divine. Imagine – being coated with a “mask” with a chocolate base, wrarapped in cling film, and cooked for five minutes! Yes, I did feel a bit ridiculous, but it was really rather nice and my skin feels lovely. The only thing I should have done was said no when she offered me nail varnish. I don’t notmally wear it and it really is driving me mad – and as a non-nail-varnish-wearer I don’t have any remover to get rid of it with. It’ll have to stay there until tomorrow. But the hands feel divine, the hair looks lovely, and I’m a happy happy bunny.

Busy day

This morning I decided that I was perfectly capable of getting myself washed and dressed early enough to go both to the gym and to the spa before lunch. This was necessary seeing as have plans for this afternoon. Or rather, plans have me for this afternoon, as I had nothing to do with the matter.

Making five thousand phone calls this morning did put paid to my decision in a sort of a way. I could have done it if the people I had to phone started w*rk at a sensible hour (i.e. 7am, when it would have been most convenient for me to phone them) instead of waiting until 9. So I was faced with a decision – half an hour at the gym and half an hour at the spa, by the time I’d got myself organised and travelled to each place, or an hour and a half at one of them.? I will let you ponder at which one I went for.

As I lay on the sun lounger reading my book (as you do, in the gym, of course, while strenuously working those muscles) a rather nice gentleman came and chatted to me. Turned out he was the owner! I’m glad, when he asked me what I thought of the place, before telling me who he was, that I said mostly nice things. He pushed me to tell him my niggles so it was nice finally to get it off my chest that I HATE the changing rooms. They’re beautifully laid out and everything, but really inconvenient to get changed in! This was the first time I’ve actually taken my book and made a proper morning of it – it was so lovely. The sun was streaming in through the windows and, because the temperature in teh spa… er. gym… was so warm it felt like I was sunbathing on a summer’s day. A real treat.

This afternoon, on the other hand, has the potential to be a real treat or a real nightmare. I had a call from a wonderful friend the other day to tell me to be at a certain place at a certain time this afternoon. The reason? She has arranged to treat me to a new hairdo and a luxury manicure. Hmmm…….. half of me is so so gratefful. But she has warned the hairdresser that I am bound to say “Just take a couple of inches off the ends please” and that they are not to accept that – they’re to do something completely new for me. Er…. And I’ve never had a manicure before and am not yet confident that I’ll like it. But it’s a couple of hours relaxing and being pampered, and it’s a lovely, lovely gift. but be warned, you may not recognise me when next I blog. I may be wearing gloves and a very big hat!

Normal service renewed

Well, here we are, seven thousand phone calls later. I believe I’m single handedly keeping BT and the other phone companies in business, you know.

I can go back to worrying and fretting and getting depressed over the prospect of sentencing being on the horizaon and losing the security of this waiting time which has become my constant companion over the last six months. As opposed to worrying, fretting and getting depressed about the way the date of the hearing keeps moving on and on into the distant future.

The original date will stand. The person upon whom we are waiting is so embarrassed at how long it is taking (and possibly also at the prospect of having to explain these delays to a High Court judge) that they’ve promised the necessary report will be ready ultra-quick time so that the hearing can go ahead as planned.

Hooray. I think.