Category Archives: General

Memories

I have many happy memories of my Gran. She always made piles and piles of cakes and homemade pasties whenever we came down to stay, and she’d make special effort to make the ones that I liked. Whenever we went to a park she’d go on the swings and swing higher than me – they were her favourite. And for her 80th, when we were trying to encourage to take it easy, we bought her an outside swinging sofa – and I’d love sharing a swing with her. In the mornings I’d climb into bed with them and chatter until I’d told them everything under the sun. In the evenings we’d play ‘UNO’ and she’d always gasp whenever the game didn’t quite go her way.

On Sunday she didn’t wake up. She’d had a massive stroke overnight and will never wake up normally again. She’s also got pneumonia and today they have stopped treating her. They think she’ll die in the next day or two.

Please pray that she goes peacefully and painlessly.

Headache

I’ve had a headache for 2 weeks. Went to the doctor earlier this week about it, who said it might be sinusitus but wasn’t sure enough to hand out antibiotics. Instead he gave me a pain killer, with instructions to take them for a few days and if my headache is still there after that, then go back to see him again. Except that the pain killers have never completely got rid of it. And now I’m more certain it’s sinusitus – my face feels all tight and sinuses hurt, my glands swollen and my ears don’t feel right. The weird thing is, my nose is still clear. It just feels like everything except my nose is blocked. On Friday I went to the chemist and asked for advice and the pharmacist gave me really strong decongestants. I only took them for one day because they made me really drowsy and didn’t seem to unclog anything. The drowsiness just made me feel worse, I couldn’t walk around the flat without feeling like I was going to fall over. I’m going back to the doctors tomorrow.

It just feels like this is the most drawn out illness ever. And I have to be better by next weekend – not only is it a double hen weekend, Mr B is also taking me to see Kate Rusby! I can’t be ill! Lets hope that the illness which takes nearly 2 weeks to come to light, recovers in less than a week.

Wedding Update

So we’ve got less than 10 weeks till the big day and everyone keeps asking if I’m really stressed yet, and I’m not. Really not. I’ve got my book of lists, which gets edited weekly, and my guest spreadsheet which gets updated whenever we get a reply. I’m ahead of my timescale plan, so have been doing what I can towards things that I can’t do yet – like colour coding guests in the spreadsheet if they know each other, so I can start planning seating arrangements, and designing thank you cards for people’s time and gifts for afterwards. My dress is all ready for the first fitting – am just finishing buying my accessories, so I’ll get to see how it looks all together shortly. 🙂 Even when the caterer phoned to say she couldn’t do what her predecessor promised us, I wasn’t stressed. I just explained why her alternative was not suitable for us, and pointed out that her predecessor had these promises in a written quote. Fourty eight hours later, after she’d discussed it with her boss, she declared it was no longer a problem.

Maybe I’m not stressed yet because I’m still enjoying all the planning. All the lists, emails and plans get me excited and I like it when I have wedding stuff to do. Maybe I’m not stressed because work can be so intense and stressful that comparatively this feels like a walk in the park. And because it’s so different from work, then it’s a nice change on my days off. Maybe I’m not stressed because Mr B isn’t. He too has perspective on whole thing, with his line of work, so is relaxed about it all – whether the day runs absolutely perfectly isn’t important in the big picture.

It’s probably a mixture of all three, and I probably will get stressed nearer the time, but right now I’m just enjoying it!

Allotment

I’ve been spending more time at the allotment recently – it helps that we live 2.5 minutes walk from it, and it’s a nice break from both wedding planning and work! It’s a community allotment which is run by our church, although Mr B is officially the lease holder and we do a lot of the work towards it.

At the moment I’m trying to weed the strawberries. This has been an ongoing task ever since I started helping with the allotment, but now I’m really trying to get on top of it. Trying to dig up all the weed’s roots, and leave the strawberries behind. It’s quite a fiddly job and generally takes an hour or two to properly weed a squared metre of strawberries. And the patch is 3 by 4 metres. Once I’ve got rid of all the weeds, my plan is to cover the ground around the strawberries in a thick layer of bark (which is provided at the allotment) to stop the weeds coming back. Hopefully.

Last summer we dug a pond at the allotment, and we’ve been trying to get some plants growing in the pond to attract wildlife, such as tadpoles, with the hope that the frogs will eat the slugs… Our allotment neighbour kindly gave us a cutting from his pond, and we got some oxygenating plants from a local aquatics centre. A month or two ago the pond was still looking pretty dead, the plants didn’t look like they were thrieving at all. But recently, with the sun coming out, the donated plant has bloomed and the oxygenating plants look much healthier. I was gazing into the pond on Saturday, watching the pond skaters glide across the top of the pond and looking out for tadpoles, when I spotted a newt swimming across the pond! It was about two inches long and looked like a mini lizard! It’s a great sign that something is living in our pond, just as long as newts don’t eat tadpoles…

Wedding Stuff

This morning I finished making all of the invites!! 😀 They’re all in their envelopes, waiting to be addressed and posted / delievered. They took many hours to make, although I decided to blitz them over the past two weeks, so have spent 2-4 hours on each of my days off making them. As you might expect, I got quicker the more I did, and it was quite nice to sit and watch TV for an hour, plodding on with them. I don’t think I’ve watched TV these past two weeks without making invitations. I have enjoyed doing it, but I’m also really glad that I’ve finished them. I finished at 11.45 this morning, and at 12.45 I was in the swimming pool – desperate to do something different!

Otherwise the wedding plans are coming together nicely… I’m currently making a shortlist for bridesmaids’ dresses, ready for when my girlies are coming to try them on, part of the cake has been baked, the honeymoon’s sorted, our wedding rings are sorted, my parents bought their outfits the other week, we’ve written an order of service for the ceremony and talked to the vicar / churchwarden. Being a Methodist who is getting married in a C of E church means I’m a bit confused by all the wedding banns stuff – all these forms that have got to be carefully filled in, and next week we’re off to see our local vicar to arrange the reading of them in our local church. And given that we attend a fresh expression church, we had to work out if legally this counted as ‘worshipping in the parish’. It all seems a bit faffy.

Looking ahead from here, a lot of what I need to do, is go shopping! My dress is going to be made by the end of May, so I’m going to try to get all my accessories by then. Then of course there’s the bridesmaids’ dresses and my going away outfit. Originally I wasn’t fussed about a going away outfit, but then found out the reception venue has a special bridal room, which got me all excited and made me want to use it! I had previously envisioned myself trying to get out of my dress in the toilets! And also, because we’re going straight from the reception to the hotel and then to the honeymoon – I don’t really want to take my dress on the train, all the way to Italy!

No Car

Just over two weeks ago I wrote off our car. I drove it into an (illegally) parked car which was sticking out into the road, and was clamped and then towed shortly after the accident. My windscreen was misted up so I didn’t see it, until I’d crashed into the back of it. I was fine, the other car just had a stratch on it, but ours had a reasonable sized dent and when I attempted to drive it again the steering was all off. So I decided it was safer to leave it at the side of the road (in a safe place), and then arrange for it to be picked up by the garage.

Its taken two weeks for the insurance company to decide that it’s a write off. So we’ve been without a car for the past two weeks. It’s odd, because all through university and for my first 18 months in Bristol I didn’t have access to a car. Other than my friend’s cars. And even when I was a child we had a car but my Mum couldn’t drive, my Dad was in work a lot, so most of the time when I needed to get somewhere I walked, cycled or bused it. But recently I’ve been taking advantage of having a car – being able to go to the supermarket of your choice, rather than the one that is walking distance, being able to move house, being dropped off at work when it’s tipping it down instead of cycling in. And in the past few months I’ve even had the car during the week days when I’m not in work, because Mr B’s been cycling to work. And then suddenly it’s gone.

It wouldn’t have been that big an issue if we had finished moving house. But we hadn’t. At the time of crashing the car was full of cleaning stuff and other odds and ends that hadn’t made it to the new house yet. I managed to salvage all of this stuff before the car got taken for scrap, by doing two trips on foot – the first with a set of plastic drawers (that we use for recycling) that had wheels on the bottom, so I filled it with stuff from the car and wheeled it along the pavement. The second time I took my big 55L rucksack and filled it, and then ended up carrying a garden hose, mop and bucket, two axles stands, a tent, a garden fork and garden clippers. I did manage to strap some of that stuff to my rucksack, although I think I looked pretty silly with a mop sticking a metre above my rucksack… And even more silly when Mr B showed me how to make the mop half the size… We also had lots of stuff in the old flat that we’d planned to take the recycling centre, and then couldn’t. We had to throw what we could in the bin and apologise to the landlord regarding the rest of it. We also did several walking trips between the old place and the new place, with stuff that hadn’t been moved yet. Thankfully it was only 0.7 of a mile.

So there’s the disadvantages… On the flip side, I think it made me realise how much I took our car for granted. When you don’t have a car, you have to cycle or walk everywhere. We normally try to shop locally anyway, but ‘local’ shrinks when you don’t have a car. Having said this, ‘Ikea’ is now ‘local’, in that it is walking distance, as we’ve recently discovered. The only problem with that is, you can’t buy any furniture. It’s made both of us slightly fitter, now that we *have to* cycle to work. We’re both slightly too far from work to walk now. And it’s up hill on the way home.

Yesterday we spent about four hours on a round bus trip to the suburbs to look at a car Mr B had researched online. And we’ve bought it! It’s a second hand car which cost roughly the amount the insurance company are giving us for the old car, but the new car is better! It’s bigger and the CO2 emissions are very low. We’re waiting to hear that its service is finished, which should be in the next couple of days. I think Mr B is going to cycle out there this time – we had a half an hour walk at either end of the bus rides, so it wasn’t exactly straightforward, and then hope to fit his bike in the back of the car to get it home. And then we can buy heavy stuff from the supermarket, the bike shed for our bikes and take some bits and bobs to the tip. 🙂 But we have promised to continue cycling as much as possible.

Christmas

I’ve now finished work for Christmas, well until 7.30pm on Christmas day when I start nights, but I still get most of Christmas day to relax and a nice few days off before it. And after my nights I’m heading down south to see my family for a couple of days. We’ve got the in laws staying for the Christmas holiday days.

So I’m feeling quite Christmasy… we’ve got our real tree up and all the presents underneath, we will be going shopping for all the Christmas food shortly and I’ve got Kate Rusby’s Sweet Bells playing. We had our church’s carol service on Sunday evening, followed by birthday cake for Jesus and two congregational members. One of these congregational members is 91 and she every day she walks into the centre and protests for peace at the side of the road, which led us to have a discussion as to whether Jesus does this… Although the best carol event this year had to be ‘Beer and Carols’, an adaptation of Greenbelt’s ‘Beer and Hymns’. Our church has done it in previous years but we didn’t last year, and this year the landlord requested us back! So we took over half the pub with our instruments and singers, handing out sheets to other publicans and collected money for my work (by coincidence!). Some people obviously, moved away from us and grumbled about not being able to have a quiet evening in the pub, but others were coming up with requests and joining in. And it was good fun!

I’ve calmed down since my rant the other day, and also had a chance to think about it from his perspective a bit more. The whole thing basically means we’ve got to move house in the new year, when we were planning to stay where we are till April. So Mr B’s done some research and we’re off to see some places shortly. Christmas isn’t the ideal time to be house hunting because many estate agents have already closed for the holiday, but hopefully we’ll find somewhere suitable in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I basically came here to wish everyone a merry Christmas!!!

Wedding Stuff

I currently feeling reasonably organised with all the wedding planning. We’re getting married in July and we’ve sorted the church, reception venue, transport, my dress, Mr B’s suit, his shoes and the entertainment. Which I think is fairly good going.

The venue that I previously posted about, we rejected when I realised that even if we managed to get our disabled guests up the two flights of stairs, the toilets couldn’t fit a chair in (when we’d asked about a disabled toilet, we were informed that ‘the toilets are on the same level’, but not that they will actually fit a wheelchair in!). We managed to find a venue with beautiful gardens, a large hall with enough tables for everyone to eat at and full disabled access. Basically, it ticked all the boxes, so we went with it.

Mr B sorted his suit back in October, because a high street shop was offering half price on made to measure suits, which he’d decided he wanted. And then he managed to get his shoes from the same shop, again 50% off. So he’d done very well, but it was making me feel disorganised because I hadn’t done much about my dress! Last weekend I went to London to visit a bridesmaid and had fun trying on dresses in a Barnardos shop which specialises in selling designer wedding dresses that have been used in photoshoots or as a sample in shops. Its a very good scheme, which Oxfam also offer in some shops, but you have to be able to find a dress that you like and can fit into. If it’s a bit too big, it can be made to fit you, but you can’t make the dresses any bigger. But obviously, they were good value. During the week I was at my parents house in Manchester, and went to proper bride shop with Mum, where they have designer dresses which they can order in your size, and then they adjust it to make it *properly* fit. I had thought that I would prefer not to go through all the faff of having fittings, etc, and if I could find a dress that worked (and I liked it) in Oxfam / Barnardos, then that would be preferable. But I don’t have a typical sized body – certain bits are proportionally bigger than the rest of me, so trying to find ‘the perfect dress’, without getting it properly fitted, would be difficult. And there was one dress in the shop in Manchester that I really liked. I’d decided that it was too expensive, but I then couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d look online and think ‘but none of them are as nice as that one in Manchester’. My Mum was with me then, and she really liked it too. So, I juggled my finances a little, went to this same bride shop but in my home city, tried it on again, got properly meausured and paid for it! It was very exciting! 😀

The thing is, I’m trying not to buy into the whole bridal / wedding expectations. Like it’s expected that I’ll wear heels on my wedding day. I don’t do heels. I can’t walk in them and I have never found a pair of heels that have been comfortable. I would like to be able to walk on my wedding day, without cursing my shoes, so I intend to find a nice pair of flatish, comfortable shoes or sandals. The dress can be shortened with this in mind, so I don’t see the problem. There just seems to be so many traditions that surround weddings that you’re expected to follow – why? What’s the reasoning behind it? Can’t we do it a different way?

Stamps

My Grandad was a postmaster. And he had a passion for collecting things that he thought might be worth something someday. So, as you can imagine, he owned a fairly large stamp collection. In his Will he specified that when he died this collection is to be sold and the money split between his four grandchildren. Given that my auntie has enough stuff to deal with in Cornwall, after the funeral my parents brought this stamp collection home to work out what was there and to get it valued. The whole thing intrigued me – all my life I’d known there was a stamp collection up in the attic at Gran and Papa’s house, but apart from the small fraction he’d given to Big Sis and I as children, I’d never seen it. So I offered to spend a couple of days at home, going through it all.

It was a good job that somebody did go through it before sending it off to be valued, as I also found hundreds of slides, photographs and personal family items. There were also numerous albums, 2 boxes of loose stamps, a box of old books about stamps, a suitcase full of first day covers, a fairly large number of mint condition stamps, a massive pile of unusual envelopes, a collection of postcards and a small collection of coins. Some items dated back to the beginning of last century, and some even earlier.

I have absolutely no idea how much it is all worth. But it was absolutely fascinating to look through it all – you never quite knew what you were going to find next. Reading letters which were sent over 50 years ago, and are part of my family history, was really interesting. For example, my Dad came across a postcard that had been sent from my great grandad to my great aunt, when she was 10.

Anyway, I have removed all the personal items, separated the coins and postcards which I believe will go to a different specialist, and packed it all back up again. It’s going to a friend of a friend who can value it and knows people in the stamp collecting world who might be interested in buying some of it. In a way, it would be nice to keep it for our future generations, but the practicalities of sharing a stamp collection four ways, is impossible. And none of the grandchildren have a particular interest in keeping it going, so it makes sense to sell it. We just have to wait and see how much it’s worth.

Portable Lifts / Evacuation Chairs

Does anybody have any knowledge about portable chairs for disabled people which have a track on the back on them to take people safely up and down stairs? These people sell and hire such chairs for evacuation purposes, but the proper ones with a track on the back only go down stairs. Which seems a bit daft to me – what if you were in a basemate and needed to evacuate?!

Let me explain… basically, we’ve found a wedding venue which is really amazing and we both love it. But it’s up two flights of stairs and I have elderly relatives who cannot climb that many stairs. One relative is in a wheelchair and there are another couple of guests who don’t use a chair (yet), but would struggle when faced with that many stairs. We asked the venue about disabled access, they had been thinking about building a lift, but they can’t afford it at the moment. As they’re a small company who require a big change to enable proper disabled access, they can sidestep the disability discrimination act. They did say they were perfectly happy to carry wheelchairs up the stairs, but it isn’t very dignified, especially for someone who doesn’t normally require a chair!

In America there’s a company who sell and hire chairs that have an electronic track on the back of the chair, which can then go up or down stairs. If we could get hold of something like that, manual or electronic, it would solve this problem and allow us to have the venue we want. Does anybody have any suggestions???