Sunday, 22 July 2012

Revisiting 2004

Nope, I don't have a time machine but I do have diaries, yep loads of them. I think maybe the earliest one is 1985, although I probably have earlier ones stashed away somewhere.
The other day I pulled out 2004 and had a read.
One of the main events was my giving up smoking. I gave a detailed day by day account of my experience. According to my diary  I hadn't I found it so hard, I seem to remember it being more difficult. I wrote down how I was feeling but I was also trying to be really positive so I didn't lose my will power. Anyway, I gave up on March 25th and haven't touched one since! I don't care if I sound smug, I am, deservedly so.
Also in 2004 I began speaking to my mum again after more than four years. I had thought it was 2005, but the first phone call was recorded in my diary and we spoke a few times again throughout the year. By 2005 we were speaking on the phone regularly and I met up with her the week before Lucy was born in August.
We went on holiday to Butlins Minehead with the big kids. They were teenagers then and we had a good time. More memorable because it was our last holiday together. Since then the big kids have only holidayed by going to stay with their dad in the South of France.

One of the running features throughout the year was my obsession with my weight. I'd been horrified to discover that I'd put on a fair bit of weight and became determined to lose it. Over the whole year I did manage to lose almost a stone but it was hard work. On a few occasions I took my measurements and recorded them. I have to say, I am much the same now as I was then. Maybe this is the size I'm meant to be?

Another running feature was my desire to have a baby. I'd had a miscarriage in 2003 at just seven weeks, but I'd been trying to get pregnant for more than two years. We had tests and tried herbal remedies, we even visited a chinese herbalist and spent a small fortune on foul smelling tea to drink every day. I can still taste that yuk even now. I'd also taken part in a fertility study being run by Oxford University, the results of which had given me a clear indication of when I ovulated during my cycle each month. I was thrilled that I'd ovulated every month during the trial. All year I harped on about how much I wanted to get pregnant but my wish didn't come true until the very end when a very pleasant Christmas holiday ended with a positive pregnancy test on 28th December.

All in all I'd say that 2004 was one of my better years!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Home Sweet Home

I live in a council rented house, I've lived here for nearly 24 years now. At one point, about 12 years ago I actually started the process of buying the house myself, I had quotes from builders for the work I wanted doing and everything was looking rosy.  Then my family life was torn apart and I had to give up my job. No income meant no mortgage and no home of my own. This has been one of my biggest regrets.
There is not much wrong with this house that couldn't be fixed. The kitchen would be a really nice size if only I could know down the wall to the pantry...I mean who needs a pantry and coal shed these days? I'd much rather have a bigger kitchen. I only have three bedrooms, one is massive, one big and the other is fairly small. Our attic space is humongous and would easily fit two more bedrooms, or bedroom and en-suite. We have room out the back for an extension, possibly even a double extension. The garden is a lovely size. We live near all amenities, even the girl's school is just a short walk away. The public transport is good and we have some great local shops, library and doctors surgery. A huge super hospital and maternity hospital would take just 1/2 hour to walk to if it was necessary. The neighbours and neighbourhood are nice.
So why do I want to move? Because there are seven of us living here. Four adults and three children. Think about it, seven occupants - three bedrooms! It's just not working.
So we filled in an application for a house transfer. We could manage with five or even four bedrooms but they insisted we could only apply for six bedroomed houses. There are very very few six bedroomed houses that ever come up. Then we don't stand a chance of getting one because the council work on a points system and we don't have many points. We are not illegally overcrowded until Lucy is ten, that's three years time. I tried to go down the medical route, provided doctors notes, psychiatrist notes, psychologist notes but to no avail. They still don't think we would benefit from a bigger house. So I contacted the local MP. He contacted the council and they said although they sympathise with my situation the only things they could suggest was that I rented privately or asked one or more of the adults of the house to move out.
So who do I ask to move out, my autistic son, my depressed daughter who has instructions from her psychiatrist that she is not fit enough to live alone, or maybe me or the little ones dad? What a joke.
Private renting a six bedroom house is not an option either, never mind the cost which would be triple what we are paying now, there are no properties available because we live a University area and all the big houses are adapted for student accommodation.
So it looks like we are staying put, at least for another three years.
We'll just have to make the most of it. Originally when we just had the girls we were going to split our bedroom into two. We can go back to that idea, it might be a squeeze but with a little careful planning I'm sure we could do it. I may even ask the council if it's possible to knock down the wall in the kitchen. (they won't do it, but they might let me if I pay for it to be done properly) It's pretty difficult preparing food for seven in such a small place.
We will work it out I'm sure.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Luck and Birthday

When we were little our neighbours were a little roudy, they were a big family with young adults who were always arguing. The left after practically burning the house down. One evening they had been drinking and were fighting in the street. Mum had put my baby brother down to sleep in his carry cot on the table in the bay window. He woke and mum picked him up, but before she'd made it back to her seat a glass bottle came hurtling through the window smashing all over the cot. Lucky escape! I dread to think what may have happened. My little brother had several 'lucky escapes' he survived an early birth and a serious illness as a baby. He also managed to get out of a burning car unscathed. Good luck did not follow him all his life though, he had some tough times too, mostly because of his own actions but now he's gone and judgement time is over. So to my little Yankee Doodle Dandy brother, Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sad News About the Grave

My father was buried in cemetery of the church where he was christened and married 37 years ago. The plot was made for two and the headstone engraved like a book had two pages, one for each of my parents. when my nan died in 1996 mum buried her ashes in the same grave and she had her own plaque. When mum passed her ashes were buried there and her name added to the stone, at the same time we added our younger brother's name too. For the last 37 years the grave has been well tended, it's always been tidy even though it's been through many changes. Once it had a rose bush but we removed it when it grew a little too big. It's always had a border, at first it was a fence but later we replaced it with a stone kerb. After nan's plaque was put down we decided to fill in the grave with white pebbles.
Since mum and Sim died there have been many ornaments placed on the grave, gifts, teddies, plants, toys, all sorts. My aunt and myself are the main tenders of the grave now and we have had to remove items frequently because we wanted to keep it looking respectable. It always has fresh flowers and we keep it clean. We have even regularly painted the kerb.
However, according to cemetery regulations set out by Birmingham City Council and diocese of Birmingham none of this is actually allowed. All that is allowed is the headstone, the plaque and a reasonable amount of fresh flowers. (fake flowers are disallowed) We were given a warning last September that everything else would be removed and we have pleaded with them since then. Sadly they went ahead and removed everything leaving nothing but a mound of earth. We were told we could replace the pebbles with grass, so we did. I went to see it today for the first time and it broke my heart. For so many years that grave has been the place where we have gone to mourn, pray or just talk to our loved ones. Loved ones that once tended the grave themselves are now buried there. It all seems so unfair, so wrong, but rules are rules and we have got away with having it just how we wanted for too long.
The grave, how it is today, how it was before, how it was 37 years ago

Monday, 2 July 2012

My London Trip, and All That Jazz

 Cassie decided that for her birthday she wanted to see a West End Show, and she wanted me to go with her. We booked a hotel and theatre package from and got train tickets. I left Daddy at home with the kids and off we went to London. This would be the first time I've left my little ones overnight...eeek! I knew they would be safe at home with Daddy, and maybe daddy would get the chance to appreciate just how much I do in the day.
We started out at 8am for the train at 9.30am. It was a slow train and we didn't get to Euston until nearly 12, and it rained most of the way there. We got off the train and in proper tourist mode took a look at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, then the London Eye, it had stopped raining which was good. Then we jumped back on the underground. Next stop was Tower Hill where we took some photo's of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London (by now the sun was shining, it had turned out a lovely day) and had a rather delicious lunch at Wagamamas. On more little detour to Picadilly Circus  before making our way to the hotel. We were running out of time so once at the hotel it was quick change and off out again to the theatre where we watched Chicago. We both loved it :-) I've been to the theatre a few times before and I've seen many concerts, but this was my first time to see a West End Musical. I've not even seen the film!
After the show we were going for drinks but felt shattered so we made our way back to the hotel. Then we had a late snack at Mc Donalds before grabbing a final drink in the hotel bar where we had a lovely chat.
Next morning we woke up to rain again, but by the time we got showered, dressed and packed up to leave it was starting to dry up. First stop was the Emirates Air-line, a cable car across the Thames. I thought I would be scared but I really loved it, even when we got blown around a little by the wind right at the top. The views were amazing, and I loved how we could see how much sunnier the weather was in central London.
Next stop was Baker Street as Cassie is a big Sherlock fan. We wanted to visit the museum but the queue was massive and we were on a time schedule so we made do with a trip to the shop instead and Cassie had a lovely book for a birthday present.
Then it was on to Queen's Park and we grabbed an ice cream for the walk across the park to the palace. We had a little break wondering what the Queen was up to inside her house and if she ever curtain twitched. What would it be like to have thousands of people outside your house every day?
Time for a late lunch and we decided to go back to Picadilly to eat at Pizza Hut. We had a large pizza between us but couldn't manage it all, so we had a doggy bag for the rest, a treat for Craige later. Then there was just time for a little shopping (Cassie was thrilled to get some Taroyaki from the Japanese Shop) and we bought gifts for everyone back home. Then we were back at Euston grabbing a coffee before our trip home (which took only 1/2 the time on the fast train)