on the end of July

now as months go, generally one follows another without much fuss.  Some have holidays or birthdays which make them stand out, July is usually a good one.  This year however, July, has delivered a pretty disastrous set of events and is continuing right up to the end.  I shall be glad when August arrives tomorrow.

We are continuing our packing up of our home, making decisions and finding homes for all that we no longer need.  Today we are in Wales, completing the task, finding new homes for old treasures.   So far, so good.

Tomorrow, as well as not being July any more, is the day Hubby starts his new job.  He is excited, as am I, for this new beginning for us both.  It will mean that this is no longer our special place, but will start to be home.  This is no bad thing, our large sunny garden and gorgeous neighbours are managing to convince us both we can settle here.

In other news, one of our family went to a festival in July.  One she has been to before, and was very excited about. Sadly, due to a combination of really wet weather and chaotic organisation the festivities were closed early.  My daughter and friends decided not to leave but to carry on having fun together, despite the lack of music and the piles of mud.  She talks of seeing a double rainbow from the top of the hill, she has photos to prove it.  Happy friends against a coloured sky, lots of smiles and arms around each other.  This to me makes me think about how we chose to deal with adversity.  Not for them four hours in car park queues waiting to leave, no angry messages on social media, just an acceptance of what has happened and the will to make the best of it all.

This makes me proud.  It also reminds me of our pact, when she was just twelve years old, that we would always strive to ‘choose happy’.  Something that has been tricky of late.  However it is never too late to remember to be grateful for the good stuff and to concentrate on finding the happy in every situation.

So, here is me, at the end of July, sitting looking out at a sunny gardens, the wind is blowing the trees and blue sky is above. Just down the road is the sea, and sand and space, all of which make me happy.

August, I am waiting for you, whatever you have in store, we will be choosing the happy path.  It is actually the only way to be.

on the kindest thing

in the midst of the chaos and emotion of the past few weeks,  one member of our family is slowly slipping from us. Our wonderful cat, who has been a companion and friend to all of us is unwell.  She arrived some fourteen years ago, a gift from a boy who could no longer give her a home and from day one she was ours.  The friendliest and sweetest bundle of black fur that ever lived.

She has been with us throughout all our adventures, moved house as we did, helping every new place to feel instantly like home.  Snuggled on the sofa on winter nights, climbing trees in the summer, she is the most perfect of pets.  She has travelled, somewhat unwillingly, to our place in Wales, having holiday fun in the garden there, making new friends and chasing shadows.

Universally loved and admired by all, her favourite place during the summer months has been on our front wall, there, sitting in sunshine, she lapped up the attention of every passerby.  Often there would be a small crowd of children and adults stopping for a chat and a stroke.

She remained tiny forever, never growing more than kitten size, people couldn’t believe she was an old lady.  Looking at her today she seems to have shrunk even more.  We know she has been unwell, a recent trip to the vet confirmed this, it seems the end was nigh.  The vet was kind, she explained that we would know when she was ready for her trip over the rainbow bridge, when enough was enough.  She said that when that day comes we will be doing the kindest thing we could ever do.

That day is today.  We have put it off, told ourselves she is rallying, she is ok.  She isn’t ok.  She is sleeping a lot, not wanting to eat and the light is leaving her once bright eyes.  We still get a sense of her, gentle purring as we cuddle and stroke her, but this is the end.

We cannot bear to wait until she is more ill, until the effort of moving becomes too much, until her swollen belly consumes her.  Today is the day.

Anyone who has ever loved an animal will know what we are feeling.  We have been blessed for so many years, with this quirky, cute and clever bundle of fun.  Sometimes the kindest thing is the most difficult to do.  Goodnight gorgeous Maisie, you gave us all much more than we ever gave to you.  Sleep well beautiful one, dance with the shadows of your dreams.  A part of you will be forever in our hearts.

the memory store

despite wonderful Wales doing its very best to keep us there on Monday, we have actually been back in our home town for three days.  We need to sort the car, and buy a new wheel, as the Welsh stone that blocked our path has damaged it beyond repair.  That will be done as soon as possible we need our car at the moment.  I remain in awe of the traffic officers who made a scary situation calm and sorted us out in quick time.

So back in this house now the packing starts, decisions to be made, what do we need, what do we want and what can we get rid of? It is not an easy task, but when we shall be paying to store items it makes us really think about what is important. There are boxes here that have not been unpacked since we moved three years ago.  A couple have precious items, baby bits and sentimental treasures from childhood.  I suspect they will be coming with us and not into store.

It has made me think about why certain items are treasures and others not so much.  My children have bought me many gifts over the years, pocket money presents at first then, as they have grown much more.  I have an ornament bought in a discount store about fifteen years ago that I just can’t part with, and yet I am able to dispense with other items really easily.  I have never been a hoarder, my mantra being, if we haven’t touched it in months, and we don’t love it then it out goes, has ensured that the house is easy to pack,

I suppose there is something about how memory works, about how we feel about people and places, and it is that which informs our decisions about what is materially important.  I am happy to give away clothes, furniture and household items, except for Mum’s old tablespoon, it has sat in my kitchen for over thirty years, and used daily.  I have no need for wedding day shoes or expensive handbags, but I shall be packing my late Uncles Panama hat for sure.

Condensing a life into storage in just two weeks is going to be interesting, a way of saying goodbye physically to this life we have loved, and to move forward embracing the new. I am crying less now, probably not at all today, there is too much to be done to have time for emotions.

I spent some time this week with a very dear friend who is facing more loss than we are, the expected loss of someone they love is so very hard to deal with.  This friend is keen to do the right thing, to make sure that they give their loved one everything at the end of life. They are feeling the weight of such decisions and struggling to find the words and the actions that will make this, the worst of situations, easier for all to bear.

We shared experiences and a few tears, held hands across a table and hoped for the best for both of us. As I left I once again was thankful for these people I have by my side.  You see, it isn’t what you have in this world that matters. It really isn’t about stuff, everything we own can be stored or nothing kept, in the end it won’t matter at all. In the end it is those we love, and those we allow to love us that matter.  It is the bonds of friendship, which come from sometimes unexpected places, that will stay in the memory of shared experiences. In the end that is all there is.



onwards and upwards and the worldly winds

today has been a good day.  My hubby has his job in our lovely place, the job that was put on hold while he saw the doctors, now it is all confirmed and a start date in place.  The decision is done.

No more shall we, shan’t we?, no more what if or maybe?.  It is done, we are leaving our home town for pastures new, and it feels ok.  The rock of indecision has left my shoulders, I am able to move forwards.

This past six weeks has been a roller coaster of emotion, at times I felt I was at the bottom of a very dark pit, suffocating and unable to see the light.  It was then that a beam shone from so many friends and family, a brightness in the darkness enabling me to look up and not down.

A few really helpful things were said to me.  One person talked of the Worldly Wind, of how sometimes we are caught up unexpectedly in a hurricane, a tornado, when everything is upside down and nothing looks right.  They said that at these times we have to allow ourselves to be carried on the wind, fighting is futile and leads to chaos.  Lying back on the current, waiting for the drop is difficult, the spirit wants to fight, to restore order, and yet time must pass.  All winds eventually change direction, all tornadoes burn out to a breeze. It is then, my friend says, in the calm after the storm, that you can stand up straight, dust yourself down and work out what this new land has to offer you.

So, today, we are in our Welsh paradise, we have begun the process of dusting ourselves down and looking around us with new eyes.  A new job will bring new people to meet, new experiences and the chance to learn new skills. For this Hubby is excited.  I am already working out how to balance the old and the new, a plan is forming, and I am beginning to believe that all will be well.

This is a new adventure, a chance to live a different sort of a life, where our priorities will shift and in time things will settle down.  I have had these adventures before.  I once moved to a town where I knew no one, on my own, with a partner absent working in London town, my four children and I quietly got on with the business of living.  I did it then and I can do it now.  Only this time I shall keep the links to our home town, to those we love, the ladder of our shared experiences will reach between the old and the new.

As we head home tonight to begin the process of packing and sorting, I am grateful.  Grateful for the love of friends and family, grateful for having options and for being able to make choices.  There is much to do, but I know now I can do it, the next stage has begun, the winds have dropped it is time to settle.


on distance and perspective

today I woke up in wonderful Wales,  the sun shining brightly through the windows and all was looking well in the world.

Hubby and I had our breakfast and listened to the Archers Omnibus, something we seldom do together, but a habit of so many years, indeed without this Radio 4 classic, we may not ever have met, all is well.

Later, having eaten our lunch in the sunshine of our garden, we join our neighbours for a couple of drinks in the warmth of summer.  It is here, telling them the troubles of the last couple of weeks, that I begin to get some perspective on our situation.

I am thinking that is certainly isn’t a bad thing to live somewhere you love.  It isn’t a bad thing to make your home somewhere near to the sea, and where you have friends and neighbours.  All together this feels ok to me.

Hubby will tell you it is the gin talking, and he might have a point, but, for me being somewhere you love with friends close by is not a bad situation.

Perhaps enough tears have fallen, the worry wasted, and it means that we are making the right choices.  Maybe for the next few months, this field in the Welsh hills will give us sanctuary, a bolt hole from the bad things, a place to be happy, every day. I am hopeful it will be so.

Tomorrow hubby will go to see about a job, the very job offered and withdrawn, this time with evidence of his health, and then maybe the next stage in this wonderful adventure will begin.

I hope that our friends will come and visit, I hope that it will work out but at the end of the day we are together, and  when we said, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, it seems we both meant what we said.


on ups and downs and big girls pants

so, last time I wrote the problems were solving themselves, hubby was back at work and we had the prospect of a little house to live in.  So far, so good.  As quickly as things were going right, it all fell apart again.  It seems our references didn’t pan out.  My zero hours contract means we are not a good enough bet for the landlord so the house is gone as quickly as it was found.

Time to ask for help.  Online I am looking at social housing, filling in an enormous form, twice, actually because in my fragile state I forget to save it, and yet I don’t give in.  Then up to the town hall to give our documents in, to prove we are who we say we are, that we exist.  I leave with tears threatening to fall, in the street, crying is not an option.  Once home I lose it completely, the feelings of failure, of being ridiculous, thinking I shall never feel secure again.

At this point I truly lost the plot.  Sadness overwhelmed me, a sense of injustice, of guilt, had my decision making in the past led us here.  There is a case for that to be sure.  I needed to be reminded that I have always done what I thought was right at the time. If history shows I was wrong, well there is not much I can do about it.

So, that was me, yesterday, feeling about as rubbish as is possible.  Then along come my family and my friends, those that know me best.  Talking sense, and making me see that all is not lost.  I start to remember the things I am thankful for, start to see that moving to somewhere I love is actually not the end of the world.

Once again I find my big girl pants.  You know the ones I mean, when you take charge and remember just what you can do.  My back is straighter and my head clearer.  Last night, the first in weeks, I sleep right though and wake up feeling positive  This is an adventure.  We do adventures well.

I am a firm believer in the universe delivering what we need, even if sometimes we don’t understand the whys or wheres of it.  Only good can come of this, because we shall make it so.

Big love to those who helped so much yesterday, they know who they are.  I am still humbled by the amount of support and love flooding into my in box on a daily basis.

I am sure there will be more wobbles along the way.  The consultant appointment for hubby arrived yesterday, seeing it written makes it real.  I have no doubt they can and will sort him out.  The future is before us, and we shall make the best of every day.


on things can actually only get better

oh my goodness.  I have been writing blogs for some time now and yet have never, ever had the response I had for my last post.  An outpouring of love, help and support from all over the country, thank you everyone. In this really tricky time the warmth of friendship and the kindness of  friends and of strangers has been amazing.

A couple of days further along this journey and things are thankfully looking up   Having made the decision to give up searching in our home town for a house to live in, we went along to an last appointment for a viewing, made last week, it would be rude to cancel.  This time it is cottage, on the end of a row, a bright sunny spot and a sweet little front and back garden.  To our surprise this felt good, somewhere we could perhaps lay our hat for a while until all the medical mayhem is done.

An hour or two later and the application is in.  We are hoping that our limited earnings at the minute won’t be a problem, we have our fingers firmly crossed. It is a sunny day, the warmth of the rays healing on my skin, and gradually my spirit is settling.  I am daring to hope that things might be getting better at last.

Then the doctor phones to speak to hubby.  It seems they, our GP team, have, as they promised, met and between then, having reviewed all his history and current tests, they decide that hubby can go back to his job.  Providing he remains symptom less he is good to go, until we get to see the specialist.

I feel as if a huge weight is no longer hanging around my body.  In some ways I feel a bit giddy.  Can this be so?  After weeks of anxiety and fear, a house and his job are potentially sorted in an afternoon.

It isn’t done yet.  I still have to find the energy to pack up this house, to work out what we need and what we can do without.  We are awaiting the application process for our new home, references are being taken up and we are being assessed.  I hope we will pass.

Friends are hugging us, glad for us, strangers are still messaging me, offering support, I feel wrapped up in a universe of love.  One friend said that we have an army of supporters behind us, and she is right.  I had never dreamt that we could be this lucky.

We are moving on, having no control over what happens to us, but we have control of how we chose to deal with things.  I am choosing to deal with everything with hope, and love and if nothing else comes of this horrid experience I have learned that there is power in friendship, that the world is a good place with mostly wonderful people. Thank you everyone, you will never know how much this means.



on when life knocks you sideways

to be honest I feel ridiculous just now. Despite being reasonably intelligent and hard working I find myself on the brink of homelessness and poverty, all within a month.

It started in June when our private landlord, previously a good egg, informs me that he is splitting up from his wife.  I nodded sympathetically, until the penny dropped.  There would be implications for our house.  Basically he wants it back.

Now I know that bricks and mortar alone do not make a home.  I have moved enough times to understand that happiness is portable.  But, this time, this hurts.  It hurts because this house is in exactly the right location, here my darling granddaughter can walk up the road holding Mummy or Daddy’s hand to visit, it is a delight to watch her approach from our kitchen window,  I have had visions of one day, her coming under her own steam, calling in on the way home from school, to chat the day away.  I could see a future here.  Now that is not to be.

It hurts because initially we never intended to stay, our thinking was to rent until we find somewhere to buy was the way.  It was at least until our landlord, yes the same one who wants his house back, told us he wanted long term tenants, people to stay for many years.  We laughed, how we laughed, as I said this felt like it could be our forever home.  He was happy to have good tenants. We improved the house, as we always do, we made it our home.  We have decorated and in the three plus years this has been home we have made it better in every way.  There are tins of unopened paint waiting for the kitchen walls, that was to be my next job.

So, more fool us.  We gave up the idea of buying and bought a caravan in Wales near the sea, mostly because I felt vulnerable, that we needed somewhere that was ours, and all was well.  We have settled in this, our rented, forever home.  We love our neighbours, the view of the hills from the bedroom window, the big skies over the field in front. We love having our friends and neighbours who have become friends close by.  My daughter is content, this is the base she needs to return to while she makes new plans.  One of my sons has been sleeping here at times, things are tricky for him, it is good he can come to us when he needs to.  Except now he can’t anymore.

Nothing lasts forever.  I am old enough to understand this, but this time I am tired.  Too tired to pack up all our possessions and move.  Too tired to think about where we shall live, what is available, where can we go.  It makes sense to move to our caravan.  It feels good to know there is somewhere safe for us.  Somewhere no one can take from us on a whim.  The fact we will be 60 miles from friends, family and work is a worry, but we are practical people.  We can do this.  We shall relocate until we find somewhere secure in our home town.

We are lucky in that we have skills. My job is part time and I can commute, we have great friends offering me keys to their home as a bolt hole once a week, this will work.  Hubby can work anywhere and within weeks has secured a new job close to our caravan.  Amazingly the pay is better, the conditions are better, he is excited and so am I.  Ok, this is not of our choosing, and I am still tearful to be leaving, but we shall make the best of this.

So, one job is gone, hubby is on route to his new job, all is well. Then fate gets us again.  A medical for the new job goes wrong.  It seems my handsome fit as a flea hubby is not as healthy as we thought. In a heartbeat the new job is gone.  As is the old job.  Doctors confirmed it and hospital appointments await.  So now, we are about to be homeless and he is jobless.  As our main breadwinner this is a real issue for us.  My job won’t stand scrutiny for a new rental,  our caravan is too far away from the doctor and hospital.  For once in my life I do not have a clue what to do next.

I mostly cry.  I cry in the doctors, I cry at my friends house, I cry in the car and I cry myself to sleep. This is not my style, as a child I was taught that self pity is a luxury, but I don’t know what else to do.

Hubby is quiet, he is always quiet, and stoic and yet inside he is also crying.  How did it come to this?  From happy in our lives, our jobs and our home to the brink of losing everything.  In just five weeks.

People are kind, those that we have told are offering support, practical and emotional, but it is no good.  There is another job, hubby can do, part time, things could be worse, but I am lost.  Lost for words and lost for actions.  Despite it all, the biggest worry is hubby and his health.  I want him well.   Finding out we have to wait for almost eight weeks to see a specialist is another blow, time to worry and wonder, time when life is on hold.

I have weathered many storms, but this one, I don’t know.  I think I have been just too tired, too sad and feel cut adrift in a way I have never felt before.  I have no answers.   A decision needs making and I am fairly sure we know what we shall do.  We will be glad that we have our lovely place, somewhere we can be ourselves and spend some time while we wait for the universe to decide what will be.  In the scheme of things this is ok.  We are still the luckiest people on the planet for we have friends and family who love us, we have a plan and we will be alright.  We have to be.