Gratitude in Challenging Times


Three weeks ago I went to Manchester. I took my mum out for an early Mother’s Day lunch, booked a hotel room to myself, shopped, walked around in the glorious sunshine, admired the local street-art and caught up with some of my oldest girlie friends, where I got so squiffy that my hangover took several days to subside.

And then, the apocalypse seemingly happened.

It is always easy to sympathise, but equally as easy to be nonchalant when awful things are happening in a different part of the world. Despite the rapidly growing numbers of people affected and the increasing panic as Coronavirus cases arrived in the UK, it didn’t really hit home until the last ten days when the process of shutting everything down in Birmingham began. Continue reading

A Belated Merry Christmas

For me, Christmas dinner represents everything about the festive season perfectly. Several weeks of planning, shopping for the ingredients, a few hours of prep followed by the whole cooking with different temperatures and timing debacle… and it’s all done and finished in seemingly the blink of an eye, leaving behind an epic amount of washing up and a personal vow never to eat that much in one sitting again.

Christmas was awesome, but was over far too quickly.

Despite the minor panic in the last few days leading up to it, I somehow managed to end the day before Christmas Eve with a full fridge, wrapped presents and some clean laundry. The Bloke and I stayed at home for the third year in a row, and we decided that we would have a much more relaxed approach to the holiday, spending most of the time on the couch with the cat (who had a rather fetching new hat that he was obviously delighted with) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and popping in to feed Paddy (my friend’s bunny that hates me). Continue reading

A Weekend in London Part 2

Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (3)

It was my birthday last week and my sister, her boyfriend and The Bloke took me to London for the weekend to celebrate. On the first day The Bloke and I explored Westminster Abbey and the Great Hall at the Natural History Museum, followed by a Wagamama.

The focus of the trip was the Tutankhamun Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery – 150 artefacts from the tomb of Egypt’s most famous King are on display there until May as part of the final World Tour – which could potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them. Our tickets were booked for 10.00am, and so we joined the queue in the rain a few minutes before.

I’ve always been interested in Egyptian ancient history and culture, so this collection of items was a real privilege to be able to see in person, 100 years after their discovery by Howard Carter. Continue reading

The Snow Queen at The Old Rep, Birmingham

The Snow Queen at The Old Rep, Birmingham

Looking for a fairytale that the whole family can enjoy this Christmas?

This new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s magical adventure follows inseparable friends Kai and Gerda. When Gerda awakes on her sister Karen’s 13th birthday, she discovers that Karen has become mean and cold-spirited – a spell that The Snow Queen puts on all children when they reach the age of thirteen to ensure that everyone is as hateful as she is. After the heartless Snow Queen steals Kai to help rebuild her broken treasure, can Gerda rescue him in time before she plunges the world into an eternal winter? With the help of an unlikely band of companions, Gerda travels to the Kingdom of Ice to confront the Snow Queen and rescue her friend.
Continue reading

Edward, Samuel and a Possum Named Leadbeater

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Image from Wikipedia

During the summer in 2011 I decided that I would try and trace my family history. With almost no information on my mother’s side (mainly due to the fact that my grandfather discovered at a young age that the couple who had brought him up weren’t his biological parents) it seemed a daunting task, but after obtaining his birth certificate I managed to trace his birth mother with http://www.ancestry.com and from there was able to build an entire family tree and even speak to living relatives in the same area that my mother still resides in. It was a fascinating journey – especially when I contacted my great-grandmother’s family with information about my grandfather who they knew nothing about, but accepted immediately once they had seen the striking physical resemblance in photographs that I sent. Continue reading

A Few Days in Bolton

Bolton Albert Halls

I’ve been up north over the last few days with the family as mum had an operation – nothing major thank goodness, but she needed someone to stay post-recovery in case of an emergency and to walk the dog. Thankfully, everything has gone well and while she is going to have to take it easy and be monitored over the next few weeks, her immediate post-op results were good and she didn’t experience the problems that we expected as she has a history of bad reactions to anaesthetic.

While I was there I had the opportunity to see my niece – who I labelled The Squidge when she was born due to her immense squidginess. The Squidge is no longer a squidge – at almost three years old she has turned into a beautiful little girl with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes who already knows her own mind, loves Pepper Pig and was happily showing us her dance steps that she has learned at the class that she goes to and the sign language that she has been taught at nursery. I remember being amazed when The Squidge could sit upright and feed herself, and now that she is a walking, talking little human who can count and who says please and thank you and puts her hand over her mouth when she coughs it was all I could do not to proclaim her a genius and suggest a membership to Mensa. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Alfred!

These are my grandparents – Alfred and Edna – on their wedding day in the 1940’s. Today marks what would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday. He was a true gentleman – kind, highly intelligent and enormously funny – and while he passed away in 1997 he remains as one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. I think about him regularly, and despite the fact that I have often conflicting spiritual beliefs I take comfort in the idea that he is watching over us all. 

Happy birthday Granddad xx 

A Difficult Day

Looking a bit special

Yesterday sucked. 

I’ve noticed that the cat hasn’t seemed himself over the last few days, particularly in the fact that he’s been drinking more than usual, so when he suddenly developed a weakness in his back legs we booked him into the vets. I was worried that he had developed diabetes – his sister had Type 1 which we treated for years with twice daily injections – so I also requested he have his bloods tested as an extra precaution.  Continue reading

My Cat is Still a Jerk

An angry cat…

I had planned to take the day off on Saturday and have a bit of self-indulgent me time while The Bloke was off on a photography thing. I had worked every day that week and was looking forward to having the house to myself, putting all the technology away, snuggling up under a blanket and watching a cheesy film and an unhealthy breakfast. 

The cat, however, had other ideas. 

We awoke on Saturday morning to see that Mr Jerk had developed a swollen eyelid and was busy shaking his head and attacking his little face. So, after the usual  ‘there’s-no-way-you’re-putting-me-in-that-cat-carrier’ power struggle, off we went to the vets.  Continue reading

Happy Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day is nearly upon us and I’ve just about reached the point where I think that everything is now done. It’s completely different to this time a year ago – I was so excited about our first Christmas together as husband and wife that I had planned and organised the whole thing weeks in advance – whereas this year we managed to get the cards sent out and the food bought just a few days ago. Perhaps it’s my mindset – I hadn’t been feeling the Christmassy vibe over December so most things were left until the last minute. Thankfully, when the cupboards had been stocked, the cards and presents sent and I had turned on the fairy lights, lit the candles and curled up on the couch with The Bloke it (thankfully) started to feel a little more festive.  Continue reading