Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Running to the Olympics

The hits just keep on coming. Not only didn't receive any Olympic tickets after applying for & being willing to pay for approx £1500 worth of Olympic experience, and nor did I win a place to carry the flame thru this dingy town but now I discover the heroic & awesome Underworld are to be involved in the music direction of the opening ceremony. I can see the next few months of run up to the games being very painful indeed. Not only for me but in my mum's honor. She would be so gutted.

I'm gutted.

I'm missing it already.

People keep saying watch it on tv. I don't have a tv!

What commiseration prize is that?

My only hope is to volunteer to work there.

Gotta try!

Friday, 21 October 2011

What everyone wants.

Everybody wants to be desired, everyone wants to be hot,

To send your dearest into pangs of lust, whip it out and show what you’ve got

Sometimes the desire is lonesome, a long way away from its mate,

Other times desire is everywhere, sated, attentive and great!

Everyone wants to be cherished, to be lovingly kissed everywhere,

For the one that you love not able to stop, til your body explodes in the air,

Sometimes the cherished take over their lust, the devoured becomes the devouree,

But mostly the cherished cherish each other with happiness, spunk and glee

Everyone wants to be adored, admired from across the room,

The seductive gaze that puts you in a daze and thinking of making love soon,

Sometimes the adoration is subtle and soft, quite magical, fully entrancing,

But always it should make your heart skip a beat, your pulse throbbing and dancing.

Everyone wants to be loved forever, loved for being just who you are

To hear your name on another’s lips, be the one, feel like a superstar

Sometimes the love is consuming, sometimes it grows on its own,

To be cherished, adored, desired or loved, no matter what just don’t go it alone.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Glasto 2011

Its been aggggeeeeeeeeeeees but it’s about time I updated on Glastonbury 2011.

What a fabulous year, even though we were slightly distracted but the fact we had been made homeless a few weeks before and were desperately waiting to hear what was happening with the house we were trying to buy and the inconsiderate tenant who was refusing to move out. However on the bright side of the homeless situation it encouraged us to bring forward our expected purchase of a VW campervan. So we travelled happily down to the festival in our new T25 VW, Beryl.

We stopped off in Lancaster and introduced Beryl to our friends Nin, Doug and Harvey and of course their beautiful VW T25 Honey. We had a fabulous fire side evening with a delicious curry and extravagant strawberry deserts to accompany our stories. While we left Honey & Beryl outside, checking each other out...

The next morning we prepared both the vans and drove onwards to Glastonbury on convoy, Beryl leading the way, struggling up hills and Honey holding the rear, catching us on the hills and waving continually (because the stars we had in the van looked like Murkie’s waving arm apparently)
In honour of my mum Beryl, Beryl the campervan made it all the way to Glastonbury town without any hitches or glitches. We rolled into a campsite a couple of miles from the festival and set up for the night. Nin bought a bottle of bubbly which we cracked open and celebrated for both Beryl’s, for it would have been mums 65th birthday and it was officially our first holiday in Beryl, (even though we had been living in her for weeks)

The next morning we set off happy & excited and reached the country lanes into Glastonbury within minutes and then sat in the queue to get on site for over 2 hours! Didn’t bother me, coz I sat on Beryl’s roof, keeping lookout like a meercat and holding cups of tea in one hand when we had to move like a mascot for the bonnet. Surely a VW mascot would be a woman with a teapot in her hand??
It is the official arrival quote of VW campers surely...“Cup of Tea?” especially annoying to those around you still struggling to put up their tents since you left Scotland. He he
Anyway, much hilarity on the roof, edging forward between chats and making pots of tea in the queue of traffic. By the time we actually got on site, to the sounds of Faithless btw, we were very hyper and not paying enough attention to the lay of the land for parking up Beryl. Honey slotted straight into place, no worries, as she had ‘frontage’ so she would be on the pathway for punters to pass by and clear from the fence, nor needing to be ‘hidden.’ Ourselves...well we had to park up more discreetly behind her, near the fence.

Simply...we rushed the job, the ground was sodden and before we knew it, upon reversing the van closer alongside the fence the ground gave way under our far side wheels and we found Beryl at a 45 degree angle, with a fence holding her up from a long drop into a spiky watery ditch. OOOPS!
There was NOTHING we could do. We tried to get her out, the hippies looked at getting her out but alas, without the help of a tow vehicle or a four wheel drive, which were not allowed on the sacred grounds of the healing field for fear of churning up the site (which it would have) we quickly realised this Glastonbury was going to spent on an angle. This was interesting. Beryl was bending into the ditch!
Poor Murkie, worried sick we would bend the wheels, tried to work out a solution but there was none. The best we could do was jack up the side of the van, use long half tree thick planks to make a platform under the chassis and lower her down to rest on a platform over the ditch. The Glastonbury precipice. It was unmentionable. Everyone else would look and pull faces, eyes wide in amazement. Not us. We could not laugh about it. We had the FEAR. The HORROR. We feared we would wake up one night, with rain spattering the roof and suddenly the clay would give way beneath us and we would be in the ditch, taking the fence with us. As the field filled and other vans and caravans lined the fence, you could stand on the bridge and look down the fence line, perfectly straight; until your eyes reached Beryl...the fence literally bulged around her. Comical now. But not then!

So thankfully we had bought a lot of sticky surface covering with us, so we put it on everything, otherwise all our cups, teapots, plates would roll down to the back corner of the van. Our bed was set up the wrong way round and I slept hugging the cupboard in a foetal position! However it did challenge our gravity awareness when we were slightly worse for wear and one advantage was that the angle was so bad you could stand at Beryl’s door and stand up and survey the surroundings. Usually you cannot do this without stepping out of the van, or crouching to see under the door ledge. But not at this angle.

We had an excellent first night, with the troupes turning up and all of us pitching in with bringing equipment across the fields with wheel barrows, (no other vehicles were aloud on the field as it was so wet.) we helped Nin set up her gazebo on the front of Honey, with her numerous additions of large pretty flowers and fairy lights. It was the most spectacular bit of frontage on the whole pathway. And it gave us all somewhere to sit and enjoy the sights of an ever increasing site.

The next day we got to work with decorating our star gate. This year’s theme took on a world of weave effect. It was beautiful and it was colourful. The weave effect sent us all a bit weird and we weaved off in many directions for the rest of the weekend! Once finished the gate was woven in fantastic colours, and adorned with stars. It was truly a colourful entrance to be proud of.
Once all our hard work was finished we continued to enjoy the good company of the crews around Honey and Beryl while we partied away the hours, traipsing from field to field. We saw some amazing works of art in other areas, including a beautiful hanging pod garden with pond, a wooden wave in Greenpeace, their theme this year was the oceans and very good is was too, complete with sharks fin in the mud and elsewhere we discovered the largest game of twister!

Although the land was incredibly muddy for the first few days, once the weekend arrived the sun shone so hard it hurt! We went out in our best dresses, longest lashes and twirling our sun parasols.

Bands we saw? In order of brilliance (according to me) Pendulum, U2 (although Bono’s ego was incredibly annoying, they pumped out the anthems and kept everyone happy in the torrential Friday night rain), Chemical Brothers, Hard-Fi, Plan B, The Wombats and Paul Simon was awful.
As usual we loved Arcadia, trash city and Shagri-la the most and found ourselves repeatedly gyrating back to this crazy intense psychotic part of the festival so big now and so popular after the main stages have shut that they have had to create a one way system for it! One way I tell you...at Glastonbury! But what a place! Ginormous tripod flame throwing DJ booths, inner city buildings with trains and cars sticking out of them, confusing tunnels of indoor clubs and sexy sultry goings on. Many places to lose yourself and many faces to lose.

Murkie and I spent a few hours there after U2. Me desperately trying to dry off and loose on the pounds of excess weight I had gained by being idiotic enough to wear all woollen protection from the torrential rain that evening. My hat, jumper and poncho became so water laden and heavy that eventually, at about 2am I could long longer hold up its weight. I was struggling to dance even though the flame thrower was warming my threads and steam arose rapidly from my fancy foot treads. Murkie was making me laugh with his happy moving and a grooving, all in his light weight weather gear, looking as skinny Minnie and attractive as ever... but it was not good, I was just too woollen and wet.
We went back to Beryl and I changed into another dry outfit. We prepared a huge travel mug of hot chocolate heavily laced with Southern Comfort and went back to Shangri-La! We danced until day light and a little beyond. Shaking and sharing our mug of hot chocolate and having a great time. Pete in his five hats. Me unable to blink because of my huge eyelashes weighting me down. That morning, when I did blink, I had some of the longest blinks of my lifetime. The surroundings changed considerably my eyes were shut for so long. At first it was quite an amusing, yet slightly shocking sensation, then it became more like “WOAH!” (grab Murkie's arm and sway about a lot. I kept saying (forgetting it was the fault of the eyelashes and both the laced hot chocolate) don’t blink Murkie!...it’s a new world when you open your eyes! To which point he promptly kept reminding me in his five hat native Indian wide eyed dancing way...no Lou...that’s just you. Eventually we pulled off the eye lashes! And normal blinking could resume.

We crashed in our wonky, over the edge van, as everyone else was rising for work. It was a great fun night. My favourite night.

We put more flowers in the water garden again, in memory of mum. And sat in there for a little while. And we met lots of nice people this year. Wandered aimlessly admiring other people’s crazy ideas and creations.

We had some hilarious moments with Nin and her shop like set up on our side of her van. As her sliding door and frontage onto the main pathway was set away from us, she would sit in her driver’s seat, with the window down and chat with us, share drinks and pass food through to us. It really felt like a shop front and we talked on many occasions about making her a shelf and canopy. In fact some days she would write a sign and pop it in the window...tea ready in five....shop open soon. It was really very silly but great fun.

Sadly, great festivals come to an end and Glastonbury did as ever with sadness but exhaustion. Honey and Nin were packed up on the Monday and away in no time. We were jealous. However we had three more days before we needed to be back in Scotland. We had no home to go to. So the open road on the way back north was ours to traverse as we decided. But we did want off site quickly.

However there was the predicament of our tricky parked position, the fact that there were still people camped in front of us, and the issue of finding an AA man.
Well THAT part was easy. As Murkie and I trundled off to find the Glastonbury AA compound...there was a yellow van! Sitting right on our crossroads. What a nice man! We just had to phone in the location to the special Glasto AA hot line. Which was a weird conversation...yes we are in the healing field which is up through the Greenpeace fields, under the big flower archway, turn right near the yellow and blue therapy tent, and drive around the fire garden and if you reach the white angel head you have gone too far! When I saw that yellow AA 4by4 truck trundling up the hill towards us I was soooo excited, I clapped like a seal and whoop whooped like a gibbon.

They drive right over to Beryl and before we could catch up on foot they had her hooked up to a tow winch and pulled out of the ditch. But then they drove her around the sacred water garden, trying to get her started. The drove her round and round, churning the grass, making lots of noise and eventually withy Beryl coughing and spluttering fumes all about her. The hippies across the whole field stood up in unison, in disgust like fucking Meercats and scowled at the goings on with the AA. We promptly thanked them and thanked them, whilst apologising to nearby hippies about the smoke. Oh well. And to add insult to injury we were unable to cheerfully beep beep our farewell coz Beryl’s horn doesn’t work. It did make us chuckle though. All the way to Cheddar Gorge.

Which isn’t far from Glastonbury but was far enough to get away from the dirt and checked into a camp site with a flat loading bay and a nice shower block. Bliss. Happy as larry with a million memories of shits n giggles we then slept forever. Here ended Glasto 2011.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Time became a loop: Time became a loop

Ever had that round and round and round feeling of frustration?
Been trying to get someone to sort a fairly minor issue out that takes them a major amount of time to comprehend?
When you get asked so many questions before you can proceed with the issue you just KNOW its going to be escalated to someone with a bit more expertise and yet more questions?
Or the day you spend trying to convince someone in IT support that their website isnt working and you do know what you are talking about?
I've had that kind of day.

I've been trying to change my password on Laterooms.com for almost a month now. Initially when I began this simple process the site got caught in a loop sending me back and forth between the log in page and the accounts page. I thought it was something I had done wrong and also requested a new password. However, once this had arrived I tried it, and quickly realilsed it was the site, not me.

Stuck in a loop. Stuck in a loop.

Being quite a popular site I figured, fire off a quick email and they will have it fixed in no time.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

I got emails from 'user support' (at which i scoff!) saying try it a few times it will work!!! The advice of a newb for sure! yeah coz the log in page decides when its going to work randomly. I disagreed and resolved to return to the issue once they had fixed the issue.

I was told the issue was fixed. I tried to log in. It wasnt.

I waited a week.I tried to log in. It wasnt fixed.

I waited another week. I tried to log in. It wasnt fixed.

I tried again today and emailed them again today.

I was told "After a few attempts at logging in, your account will work. I am aware that this will be an inconvenience and I would like to offer my assurances that our web development team is working hard to rectify the issue as soon as possible."

...yeaaaaaah riiiiight...

Did it?

Time became a loop: Time became a loop
Time became a loop: Time became a loop
Time became a loop: Time became a loop

No it didnt of course.

So I ranted at them. Awaiting newbs response.

How long does it take to fix such an issue?

Laterooms. No wonder!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Making a move

Still waiting...the clocks keep ticking, life goes on, trials and tribulations, bills keep rising, grass keeps growing and all while knowing that change is just around the corner!

How long have we been waiting on moving now? 6 months, 7 months? We sold my mum’s house last autumn and stupidly thought finding a house and buying it would be the easy part. Silly billies. We originally had decided on a beautiful fully finished slightly extravagant house 1 mile out of our preferred zone. We all fell in love with its decadent charm, its turret, its Jacuzzi bath and log burning stoves. However some form of sensibility took Murkie and I through a financial exercise and although we knew we could afford the mortgage, when you added up everything else we soon realised that if we wanted spare money to play with, to snowboard with and holiday on, money to buy treats for the kids and toys for the adults then this could not be the house for us.

We made a practical decision, the first one in years, and let the big house go. Find a small town house, on the doorstep of work and school. That’s what we needed. Something cheap and cheerful. Something that would put money back in our pockets! Not so easy. But then suddenly we found somewhere that fitted our criteria. We viewed, we liked, we offered. It wasn’t ‘the one’, it wasn’t our dream home. But it had everything we needed and we knew we would not be here for longer than five years, so we set our hearts on it and we started the battle of the deeds.
And this went on for months. Haggle this, haggle that. Demanding, deciding, slipping, and sliding. Taking money from Peter to pay to Paul. Finally it all fell through. Back to square one. Deals undone.

We looked at more houses. Nothing fit. And then our current home turned into an ungrateful money pit. The pressure builds. We NEED to get out. We start thinking about the only houses left on our lists, we start thinking about settling for a third, fourth option. It’s only for five years. Just to get out of here and on our feet financially again.

And then a breakthrough! A house in the same street we love! Same location, different number in the road. Thank the lord, I’ll take it now. Here have my soul, it’s yours. And we are back here again. Still waiting, patiently.
Patience...definitely what i came back to learn this time. Along with numerous other lessons I suspect but patience is well up there. Every person I have come to care about has at some time or other told me I must learn to be patient. Go figure!
Anyway, house number three has to be the one. It ticks all the boxes. We have a little under six weeks to go. So far the arrangements are looking solid. Price agreed. Paper work in order. Date to move agreed. This house has turned up the pressure, more astronomical bills, things are breaking that we should pay to fix, the grass is demanding our attention every week and we feel detached from its protection. It’s our cage, our folly. Totally stretched us almost to breaking point.

So we wait. Nervous as the days tick by. Hoping, praying almost that this will work. We can’t afford another fall through. We can’t take it, it will crucify our hope. I ply all my positive thoughts into this transaction. Please let it go through, please let it go through. Anywhere is better than here. We all want to move on, move out. We all need to move on.

25 houses we shortlisted and viewed. Now there are none left. This has to be the one. Please.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The obvious truth about children

The moment you decide to bring a child into this world, you forfit the right to take priority in your own life. Your children must come first. You have a responsibility to give that child a good life. No matter how difficult your own life.
Therefor you must set a good example by being a healthy, honest and vibrant role model.
No compromise.

Just loving a child is not enough. You have to lead the way for them to understand lifes intricacies and spring board them into success. Being a good role model all the way.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Dumfries - The Metropolis!

I am coming to the conclusion that I no longer live in the country side. This part of Scotland is quick becoming a metropolis and 5:30 is rush hour no matter what day of the week.

This week I drove from one side of the region to the other at 5:30ish. Another day I drove home from a training session, about an hour’s drive from the west to central D&G around about 5-6o’clock. Friday evening I drove from Dumfries to Carlisle for climbing from 5:15 to 6:30 and yesterday I made a measly 13 mile drive from Dumfries to Lockerbie at...yes, you’ve guessed it 5:30. All of these drives I found the traffic nose to tail, both directions. Yesterday’s drive was particularly frustrating as I had become rather desperate on the toilet and yet I could not get round the cars in front (annoyingly doing 40mph in drizzle) because there were so many cars coming in the opposite direction. A journey that usually takes 15-20 minutes took more like 40!

Red and white snake eyes in both directions. As I sighed and resolved myself to the slow drive home for the fourth day in a row, I concluded that with regard to the driving I do, I am in no better position now than I had been 18 years ago when I drove the A2 and M25 to work. Ok, I admit the M25 is still pretty ugly, and utterly awful compared to the delights of the A75 here in the west of Scotland. But when it’s dark and rainy and you just want to get where you are going, it’s then that you realise, it doesn’t matter where you are, if its busy, it just plain busy! This place is getting busier!

5:30 is not a good time to be travelling. Period.

When it’s not dark, I love driving around this region. People comment to me a lot about the mileage I clock up either for work or zooming off here and there to visit and explore. Sometimes people will ask if I get fed up driving so much and I always reflect back at them, How could I? The scenery is beautiful, undulating hills and lush green farm land, speckled with trees and the odd stunning Loch. Then the further west you get the more you kiss up against the coast line with the crashing waves against ancient rocks and long Solway sands. I see large birds of prey, deer’s, thunder cracking loud fighter jets flipping and whizzing around the skies. And most of all while covering 70 odd miles I actually travel! I’m not crawling down a jam packed motor way or sitting in town centre jams. I’m flying through the countryside racing the world around me and soaking up the sights. It’s a wonderful way to travel. Music up, travel mug of tea and the ever changing world outside to keep you alert.

But like I say, recently I have noticed the increasing traffic on the roads ( they are in my way) and the amount of nervous drivers out there (holding everyone up by driving really slowly.) I think times are a changing and soon this part of the world will not be such a quiet place to be. And then I’ll have to move somewhere else!

But where?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Starting as a Step Mum Part 3

We had our ups and downs in our old house. Mostly it was good times. We all had to learn to understand how to live together and BF and I had to learn to accept that some days, teens are just horrid!

We lived, in our first house together, with the girls with us full time, for nearly two years. One of my most memorable days there was the girls thirteenth birthday party. It was a month early, so that all their friends could attend (it’s in the summer holidays when a lot of them go abroad) and BF and I pulled out all the stops.
We set up a non alcoholic cocktail bar in the kitchen with the food, so the kids could help themselves to the crazy E numbers and additives that make these syrups such hyper juice (one wonders if they would be less high pitched and more sedated drunk but I doubt it). It certainly gets them all squeaky and excitable!

We had a disco going on in the main room and Big Bruva set up in a small room at the top of the stairs. We prepared some questions, about the girls and about silly things their friends had done. We split them into small groups and one group at a time, rather like a production line, we instructed them on what to do and sent them into the Big Bruva room, where they had to talk to the camera and answer the questions. I think we gave them things to describe without saying certain words. Anyway, it turned out to be an absolute hit. Most hilarious! At the end of the party we played it all back for them all to squeal and scream over. And of course techy BF put it on a disk for them all to keep as a memoir.

It was mad. It was mayhem. It was worth it. The girls were totally exhausted by the end of the day. But it was brilliant fun for all of us and so rewarding to see our girlies smile and laugh so much. The floor of the kitichen was so unbelievably sticky and we found half eaten food groups in strange places for weeks afterwards. But it truly was all worth it.

Another memorable day was Christmas. Of course. But this one is my ultimate favourite yuletide memory, because my mum was with us. It felt like a proper chirstmas, a family Christmas card type of Christmas, with far too many gifts under the tree, BF and I cooking together while mum and girls played up at the dinner table, Elvis songs on the stereo, laughter and happiness filling the house. Realising at the last minhute that we did not own napkins and had not thought to purchase serviettes, mum and the girls drew on the kitchen role and made comedy value individual Christmas napkins for everyone.The girls helped my mum learn how to use her new mobile phone. The food was plentiful and delicious. It was all perfectly Christmassy, perfectly family.

But then teen-dome (or is it teen-doom?) really started to take affect. One of our girlies, went AWOL one day when she was supposed to be visiting her mum. After much communication and a certain amount of heartache and worry, we managed to find out she was near by with a group of friends. BF went to investigate, as she has made no contact about going back to her mums and everyone was worried about her. What did he find?

Madam was drinking vodka up an alley with a boy! Tut tut.

She had only had a little to be honest (we saw the bottle) and she burst into tears as soon as she was caught. It transpired she did it out of lack of refusal skills because what she really wanted to do impress was the boy. She came home, repeatedly professing to being reeeeeeeaaaaaaaaally sorry and not a bit drunk. Where in actuality she was really quite tipsy and disorientated. She lay on the couch talking rubbish, her arm waving about as though drunk enough for all of us. We fed her juice and toast and tried not to lecture her too much in the state she was in. That was to come later.

This was the first time her mum had stepped foot in our house and met me. There were no introductions, no friendly small talk. Yet neither was it unfriendly. Just awkward. I felt strange and awkward as said drunken child was lolling around all over me, wanting hugs. I felt a little uneasy for her mum to see this. But it could not be helped. I was doing the best I could. I guess I felt bad for her, having to watch someone else mother her child. But I hoped at least she would be glad that I loved her daughters very much and would always look out for them.

Everyone soon left, our sense of danger over and relief settling into our demeanour. On reflection we had no idea of the things teen-doom would bring us. The stresses, the heart ache, the worry.
But for now we were happy in our ignorance!

Most of teen-doom is natural, most of it they cant help because their brains are trying to develop and it reconnects with their toddler tendencies. They have strops and tantrums, they regress back towards not understanding why they should help with ANYTHING. They are awkward for the sake of it and know it alls when actually they know diddley squat. But you can go with that. Half the time you find yourself and any other adult witness in the house, hiding around doors as you laugh at them and their sheer idiocy, the ridiculous whiney voices they use and or the hilarious explanations they use that seem spun of yarn themselves. Much of teen behaviour can be treated this way, because it is quite literally funny.

But some of it hurts. Some of it is really not funny.
And what is intolerable, or at least was for us, is lying. Lying for no reason. Lying to your face. Lying to cover up a lie. Its becomes almost unconscious to them for a while, like their brain is saying “can lie, will lie,” and it destroys your relationship with them.

It’s one of the life lessons I clearly recall learning from my own mother. She despised lying too and running through my natural course of it when I was a teen, I tried it all.
Lying when I was late (my watch is slow / broken / stopped)
Lying about where I had been. (I had been where is wasn’t supposed to be)
Lying about not doing homework, lying about things I had broken, lying about smoking. The works.
But at one point my mum sat me down and told me that if I continued to lie, she would revoke all privileges, not trust me again EVER until trust was reinstated. On top of that she explained to me what my lying did to her. What it did to our relationship. She laid down the honesty of the situation for two people living together as adults (bless her for being so generous, even though I was still such a brat) I remember it made sense, I had a breakthrough and didn’t lie again. (well maybe little white lies, but certainly not the irrelevant consistent pointless lies) And from that day on our relationship got a lot easier.

The worst situation the girls have thrown at me was when my IPod went missing. Nothing major I guess. But what made the whole thing worse was of course the lying. The lying was dragged out over a couple of days. I even went home from work early to find the bloody thing because I was so sure I knew where I had left it and I wanted to find it. I searched the house from top to bottom, getting more and more frustrated as I ran out of places to search. Then I received a text to say one of the girls had been seen with the IPod. It floored me. I was utterly gutted. Not so much that it had been taken out of my office and taken without permission. But because both their dad and I had repeatedly asked her if she had it. She had said no. And not just a blanket no. Additions to the lie, like “I think you left it....” “Didn’t I see you with it blah blah blah....” an embellished lie! The worst!
So distraught to have already been lied to and having wasted 2 hours of my flexi time, I was exhausted upon the girls return home from school. I confronted the child known to be in permission and guess what? She lied more! I was flabbergasted and somewhat lost for solutions. I ran away and rang BF at work. He soothed me, told me to tell her I knew she had it and ask for it back immediately. No niceties, no messing.

So I did. It worked. She handed it over. All I could say to her was that she had no idea how much that hurt me. I burst into tears and ran and hid in my bedroom.
They both still lie to this day. It’s still unnecessary. It still hurts. And even though we have done everything my mum did and more, they just don’t see it, that lying breaks all the bridges that you build.

And it’s a very strange place to be in when you live with people who you love endlessly but don’t trust one bit. As a parent to teens, you have to keep telling yourself to hang in there, that things will get better, all of the time knowing that your children think their life sucks and they get nothing but a hard time. They think life is unfair? I think parenting is unfair!

And anyone who says any different is lying!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Its all about windows

Sometimes you wake up and realise with glee that life truly is exactly what you make of it. There is no time for waiting for happiness and contentment to find you. You have to make it for yourself. You see your windows of opportunity and you seize them. Firmly in both hands and love every minute of the rewards you can reap.

Today I have taken ownership of some personal time. I am sitting right in my window of opportunity, in the window of a Carlisle cafe, (writing using Windows if you want to be really nerdy), waiting to be served, waiting for my luxury lunch with a small red wine with a happy smile on my face. Full of contentment, glad for my life and the freedom within my relationship.

This all came about because one of our daughters wanted to go to the cinema with a friend in Carlisle. The journey is an hour’s drive away or they have to pay the cost of the train. Seeing the opportunity to spend three hours submerged in my writing with the hustle and bustle of a city in my ears, I offered to drive them. This gives me three hours to soak up the fashion windows (not spending any money today so window shopping only), sip a small glass of wine and still be safe to drive, soak up the atmosphere, the smells, the sounds, stare out of the window and feel like me while my fingers tippey type away.

Wonderful.

I have recently felt renewed vigour to put fingers to keyboard, after a period of grieving and I guess what you would call, writers block. Now it’s back and I am in heaven.
And here I am, in a perfect cosy corner, right beside the radiator, looking out the window at the passing traffic, both shoppers and cars and thinking, thank god for the children! For giving me the chance to be ‘stuck away from home’ with nothing but my netbook and my e-reader to occupy my time.

Love it!

Oh and even one of favourite songs now playing out softly over the sounds of the cafe.

Start singing for I linger on dear, still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger ‘til dawn dear....
Sweet dreams ‘til sunbeams find you, sweat dreams that leave your worries behind you....

Pure bliss.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Starting as a Step Mum Part 2

The first time I met my boyfriend’s kids I wasn’t his girlfriend. He was stuck for a lift for them all at the end of a very long and arduous journey and being a friend, I offered. Everyone was tired and weary and the girls were totally friendly, quiet and polite. 20 minutes later I left them all in my rear view mirror and thought nothing more than what a happy bunch they all seemed.

When I met them as his girlfriend I was nervous as hell, because I wanted them to like me, I wanted us all to get along and I didn’t want anything to spoil the dreamy ride of this beautiful developing relationship. Also I feared rejection from them, knowing how cruel kids can be to parents partners. The reason I know that? I was an absolute bitch to my step dad when I first met him and spent a lot of time making fun of him and putting him through the mill. (We eventually became friends and shared a lot of love and laughter.) I was utterly concerned my step dad karma was due.

But the girls could not have been nicer, funnier, accommodating, interesting and caring. We had a wonderful ‘honeymoon period’, all getting to know one another and enjoying many days out, lazy days in and soon all became close. At times it was weird for my BF, as he learnt to accept me in my motherly role and stand aside as I put his kids first on occasions while I tried to share my time equally with him and them. The exact same can be said for me. At times I found I wanted him all to myself. In a way this remains evident in our relationship to this day. We are both still very much in love and often feel overwhelmed by our commitment to our responsibilities. But it never stops us being parents and doing the right things by the kids. Even when we, as lovers, as adults and as friends would rather be doing something else.

Perhaps that’s helped keep our relationship young and fresh, the fact that we haven’t always had loads of time to immerse ourselves in just us.
At first we had separate houses. We all visited each other and stayed over together at both houses. When he had the kids I stayed at theirs as his place was bigger, only just. Then when I sold my recently finished home renovation project my BF was also looking for a bigger apartment so he could look after the girls more often and give them a room each. A luxury they desperately needed as they were soon to be teens and were already bitching and fighting over personal space.

The obvious, practical thing to do was all move in together. BF and I discussed it thoroughly as it seemed like a bold move. We had only been dating 4 months and it was important not to mess about with kids involved. But we were also aware we were spending every day together, doing a lot of travelling in between houses and essentially paying for two places. The financial reward played a part in our decision, along with being able to offer support to my BF who desperately wanted to look after his children and I wanted to settle down with him as a happy family. So we took the plunge.

We moved into a house in the main town. Near to the girl’s school and our places of work. We got somewhere big enough for the girls to have their own top floor with a bedroom each. It also had enough room for us to set up our own office and we had a huge family room and a kitchen diner. Everybody had space of their own and we started to settle into a new routine.

We had the girls every other week. At first it was great to have some time to ourselves and a weekend every other week to be lovers and shake off the parenting roles and act spontaneously. Don’t get me wrong, we both love being parents and we both utterly love the girls. We also love each other, noisy sex, walking about naked, being spontaneous, dressing up, going out for beers, coming home late and getting up early. Many of these things you just can’t do when you also want to maintain a stable routine for your kids to feel safe and secure in. So at first the week about suited us perfectly.

But soon we noticed it wasn’t working for the girls. The regular upheaval from one home to another, the inconsistencies between houses, the changes in structure and even simple things like sleep patterns, nutrition and opportunity. Unfortunately their mum didn’t have the same parenting ethic as us and had recently moved to the countryside. Not being a driver this made it increasingly difficult for the girls to have control over their own lives. Eventually we made the difficult decision to challenge the current set up and take the girls full time.

Logically it was the obvious thing to do. The girls mum preferred not to plan or organise. She is a fun woman with plenty of love and individuality to share with the girls. But she is incredibly skint, disorganised and disinterested in many aspect of parenting that the girls desperately needed. It seemed perfect that we would care for the girls through the week when they needed organising for school, structure, rules and regular sleep patterns, square meals and financial support for hobbies and interests. At the weekends they could go to mums, draw on each other’s faces, stay up late, eat crap and run riot. It seemed to harness the different parenting approaches and provide a stable environment for the girls.

And it worked. The girls settled down. They became more organised, more responsible, self reliant and many of the quibbles we had previously experienced; things like homework and helping with the washing up reduced radically and we even found (on occasion)them doing it themselves without being asked! They were happy, a little spoilt at times but wonderful girls to live with.

Of course we all had our moments. I found it hard to accept the disruption the girls continually caused to the way I liked to live my life. Organised, clean and honest. Because like typical teens, they grew lazy, messy and inconsiderate. They ‘borrowed’ things without asking. They lied. I would find crisps and chocolate wrappers under cushions on our fluffy couch. Dirty cups and plates hidden in furniture. My IPod sneaked to school one day. My DVD’s went missing. But I grew to accept all that, because that’s what kids do.

They found it hard as my BF and I were strict and consistent. We expected everyone to work together and help around the house. We tried to install in the girls a good work ethic, taking responsibility for yourself and the things you use, the things you do. We worked with rewards, acceptance of consequences and discipline. Which wasn’t easy. Especially as we had another parent to be compared against. Another parent who didn’t embrace this structure. Who didn’t believe in ‘rules’. And so we soon became in the teens eyes, ‘harsh and strict.’ We received the frustrated outbursts from the girls, the tantrums, the moods. But we still kept going.

Because despite all that. They are good girls. Beautiful girls.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Starting as a Step Mum

The thing with becoming a step mum is that, like motherhood, no one tells you what it’s going to be like. What rewards you will reap what sorrows you will suffer.
No one warns you how hard it is living with a partner who will always have his ex in his life, how your life can be ruled by others and influenced by a force, a human, a personality so out of your control, at times you will despair of the lack of influence you have over your own life.

Of course my situation is not the same for all step mums. Some don’t have an ex, some have to cajole kids who are predisposed to hate them, some have an easy ride and step into the role like Mary Poppins, the kids call her mum and everything is peachy. Some step mums have it tougher than I, go through hell, experience anger and challenging behaviour towards them and end up without the partner they so desired in the first place.

Being a step mum is a life changing experience. Ready or not. Here they come.
I knew my new beau had kids before I fell in love with him. Only just mind you, because it did not take me long to fall in love with him. I am one of the lucky ones who has found the most amazing guy, who is from the 22nd century, let alone the 21st century, treats me (and demands to be treated) as an equal, has charm, manners and a softness akin to being a girl, with strength, tact and wonder in bucket loads. I am lucky enough to have turned up trumps.

Straight out of a destructive and messy separation from an ex husband with an issue for every letter of the alphabet, I was recently separated, liberated, back on my bisexual freeway and right off men. I was having fun getting down and dirty with the lovely ladies and spending every other spare hour I had renovating a small property I would soon come to call my bachelorette pad. And then, BOOM! I met Mr Right. He totally caught me by surprised, I believe I was swooned! We reached out to each other and for the first time in my life I knew what it was to feel someone’s soul. A soul mate. And not feel it through what I wanted, but from him. He is the only man (or woman) to actually look into my eyes and see me. ‘I see you’ became our softly whispered motto, long before Avatar was filmed!

Anyway, our romance was sudden and speedy and although very passionate and spontaneous, it also had a strange kind of logic and practicality about it too! Everything just started to fall into place. It was weird. Once or twice we caught ourselves wondering if a disaster was ahead due to the speed at which we moved. But enough of that just now...

We met through work and became friendly to begin with. Then when we were both single and it was ‘safe’ we turned to each other one random day for support and from there we blossomed as bosom buddies. We dated a few times. Long memorable dates, with laughing and talking, kissing and exploring each other. We talked about past relationships, lives, mistakes, heartaches and of course his kids. From the beginning I thought a lot about what this could mean for me. For us.
I mean. Twins. Wow! At that time they were twelve years old. I knew from the beginning it was a big thing for me to consider. But I had no idea exactly what I should be considering.

If I were me now and I went back to those days, when I would day dream out of my newly installed sky light windows, whilst rubbing down the new plastering. If I could go back now and have a conversation with myself what advice would I give?

Well!
1.Being a step mum is about supporting the father and not taking on the role as mother
2.However, maintain your role as alpha female in your home, your rules
3.Show respect and set boundaries for everyone, not just the kids
4.Don’t fall into the trap of doing too much, for you will soon feel robbed of your own time
5.Learn how to let a lot of things go, because other peoples mistakes are not yours to fix
6.Don’t feel guilty about not contributing to everything, or splitting the costs of kids
7.Think positive thoughts about ex-partners, for they often have as many problems as the kids
8.Ignore malicious / devious intent by ex partners, it is not worthy of your energy
9.When confronted with the line ‘you are not my parent’ state ‘no but I am your friend...’
10.Communicate with your partner about everything at all cost but moan about your situation with someone else you trust.

Quite a list isn’t it?

I have had the pleasure of my step daughters for nearly four years now. They have been loving, fun, kind, thoughtful, sweet, cuddly, tickly, wiggly, giggly, special, beautiful, amazing girls for the majority of that time together. But they have also been selfish, rude, sticky fingered, thoughtless, ungrateful, self centred and spoilt.

Putting up with other people in your home, breaking and staining your stuff, taking your most prized gadget out the house, running up your bills and not giving a damn about it is hard to take at the best of times. In fact if it was your mate, you would have a quiet word and ask them to leave! But not your kids, and not your step kids.

What step mums have to remember is that we don’t have the luxury of that bond with our babies from birth. We don’t have all those important beautiful moments when you hold your baby, wrapped in layers of blanket, look into their eyes and know you are utterly in love and will do anything to keep them happy and safe. We don’t have years of memories, to set our disposition to unconditional love. We are not blindly attached, forever hopeful, forever tireless of putting them first.

What we do have. Is a life. We have had experiences. We have been the number one priority in our lives up until now (excusing the obvious attachment to a partner, dependant or not). We have been the leader of our own tiny wolf pack and we have ruled over the space in which we occupy.
We have the luxury of detachment. We are free from the attachment of others, which is good enough for Buddha, its good enough for me!

So it’s a long and arduous journey suddenly giving up your space for someone else. Someone who comes first before you a lot of the time. Someone who will not be capable of treating your space with anything like the same level of love, cleanliness, respect that you do. In fact that someone soon changes the way you have to live, to suit their needs.
It’s a very weird world walking into your own home, to discover the child urchin has moved things around, used up your favourite bubble bath, eaten all three tubs of hummus and littered every clean surface with stuff.
It’s a strange and alien world!
And no one warns you about any of it!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Happy New Year - Big Bold Bez

Happy New Year readers!

Never has this statement been so true on my part. For years I have been wishing the New Year in, without much care for any resolutions beyond the usual, diet, stop smoking, be better at this, do less of that. But this year the feeling I took through from 2010 to 2011 was something new for me, a feeling of relief, a sense I could shed some sadness, let it go and move on. I shed the weighty grief of last year.

I lost my mother. Not lost. It’s not as if we were in a shopping centre or something. My mum died. Suddenly. And far too young, at 63, as far as I am concerned. She was a close friend, a confidant, a companion and an inspiration. The loss of her was so mammoth, so sudden and shocking that it took part of my life and soul away.

The death of a loved one is one of life’s inevitable experiences that few people prepare you for. Throughout my life I have lost two best friends. Jamie when I was 15. Shakey when I was 21. I lost my darling Nanna when I was 23. The lady I was closest too as a young child, who was nothing but goodness and old fashioned charm personified. All of those deaths cut me deeply, sent me into despair for a while and changed the way I lived my life.

But the death of my dear mum changed me.

It took a part of my life away that I loved so very much, that I enjoyed being around, sharing with and benefitting from. Her death has taken a very long time to accept. But finally I can.

The stages of grief; Shock, Denial, Anger and Guilt, Despair and Depression, Acceptance.

I have been through them all, some backwards and forwards, some I’ve hung around in for a very long time, some I’ve gone back to when I’ve thought that stage over and sometimes once I realised where I was, what I was doing and how to cope, something came and bit me on the bum throwing me right back to shock! I found as long I was realistic about why I felt the way I did, explained myself to those I loved around me, then I could just about get through it most of the time.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why you progress the way you do and the stages are not linear, you not pass smoothly through them in order. Gosh no! I certainly didn’t. And I don’t believe it to be the case for others who have been through deep grief. Not when our emotions are so easily triggered by a smell or someone who looks like them, music, good / bad news you wish to share, the passing of time making you physically miss them popping round. All of these and more can impact on your inner grief. Drag it all back up, make you sense it all again. There is no stopping it, you are best to go with it and feel what you need to, react how you need to (within reason). What I do know about the stages of grief for sure... Is that shock comes at the beginning and acceptance waaaaaaaaay at the end. The path you take and the length of that path depends on you and who you grieve.

There is no wrong way, or right way. At lot of the time you don’t know which way it is affecting you, you just try to move on, get on with life, but you always carry grief with you. Hidden or on your sleeve. Quite often it isn’t until someone says you are acting weird / out of character / negative that you realise, you’re still hurting and it’s effecting how you respond to things. Quite often those things are life’s little trying scenarios.
All those silly things that get to us when we are stressed or under pressure. Busy or tired. Emotionally topped up. Things like having to clear up after the kids, forgetting something important, chores, breaking things. You know. All those things that are minor but also safe to go over the top about in your reaction. Finally at some point you realise that your mental health is suffering quite a bit as you try to keep a lid on the emotion wrapped around your body, around your heart and soul. It is trying to comfort you but keeping you smothered, swamped in sadness.

Eventually something will give and you will find yourself emerging from a black cloud of depression. Its as if your mind has been spring cleaned and you can see sense again, can feel love without pain, accept kindness without tears, see ahead for yourself without loss. Its not that you leave the grief behind, more that you find a way to live with it. It becomes a part of your senses, your emotions that can effect your previously usual character. You accept that from now on certain things, certain triggers are always going to make you feel this way, because you will always miss them, want them back and nothing can ever change that.

You also gain a sense of living for them. My mum was such a beautiful unique crazy lady. She lived life to the full, was compassionate, intelligent and very caring. She would never have wanted my life to stop once she had gone. She hated seeing me sad and lonely when she was alive and although I think a small part of her is honoured at how much she is grieved, how much she is missed (if she’s watching), mostly she would want me to make the most of my life.
And since New Year I have been thinking like that too. Every good thing about her I try to capture within my own goodness. Every lesson I learnt from her I take forward into my own life and spread among my nearest and dearest. Things like:

ALWAYS be honest, for the truth has a funny way of always coming out. Honesty is the best policy.

Never lie.

Acknowledge that sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do.

Believe in yourself; love yourself. For if you can’t, then you will not be capable of understanding or accepting another’s love for you.

In the event of a trauma / drama, wait three days before you respond.

Never say hate, don’t or cant.

Show compassion. Do good.

Aim high, live your dreams.

Spoil yourself every now and then. (especially shoes or rugs)

So here I am in the New Year, 2011, by Jeeves. Making my way through the trials and tribulations of a fulfilled life, carrying my memories of mum in my mind, our combined life’s lessons rippling through my soul and my love for her held forever tight in my heart.

As the years pass, my grief will change again. As my life grows I will find new reasons to miss her and new ways to cope. And thats ok. Because someone as big and bold as my mum Bez could never be forgotten. I’m glad.

Glad she was as good as she was. Glad she chose this life. Glad she was my mum.

And I will always be happy with my memories.
A Happy New Year indeed!