Category: Life and Living

Who thought self hosting was a good idea?

Of course self hosting is good idea overall, I know.

But setting it all up 2 days before you go on holiday, with no time to really look at the results because you should be packing is a little bit daft.

I blame my to-do list whilst between jobs (I’m still “between jobs” and have only watched one HP film and made more of a mess while I sort out our utility room <<insert cliche about breaking omlettes to make eggs here>>). I thought I might feel like I’d achieved something if I ticked off a box. I don’t. I feel like I’ve bolloxed up (technical term) something that at least worked and looked ok.

Actually, who am I kidding? If looking “ok” was a reasonable achievement, I wouldn’t have a (pretty much unused) boxing bag in the garage and 3 brand new lipsticks in my make up bag.

Anyways, just to say if you’re a regular reader I’m sorry about the mess, and if you’re new then this isn’t a truthful representation of what this blog is about, so please pop by again.

The good people at GoDaddy are being rightfully helpful (take my money and stop me being an internet doofus, please) and, thanks to their live web chat, I managed to leave my hair colour on for an extra hour this afternoon. If there are no holiday photos from our impending Greece trip, it’s because I left my hair behind on the pillow in Birmingham.

Also, what an awful logo. And name. I mean, apart from the fact my Dad is dead, I don’t want anyone’s Daddy to be Going on my behalf. It’s all a bit pervy porny, no? And Daddy is wearing god awful hair and sunglasses. GoDaddy that is. Not my Dad. Apart from the fact he’s not around anymore (humour masks my loss), he had impeccable taste.

Having said that, dear GoDaddy, please don’t revoke my (albeit shit right now) blog. It’s gonna get better for all of us, I promise.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A bad day and the impossible task

I already knew last night that today was going to be a bad day.

“Why didn’t you do something pre-emptive to stop it then, you daft cow?” (those are my words, and maybe what you’re thinking too.)

Unfortunately it was too late. I was lying in bed, fretting, listening to the husband snore, reading a blog I’ve become ridiculously immersed in (I think I’m as far back as 2013 posts from this woman now; her family story is fascinating and her writing is really engaging and fun) and wondering why I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling so so ready for slumber.

Knowing I needed to sleep was one of my problems. I had a second interview for a job this morning, over the telephone, and I wanted to be well rested and coherent instead of a mumbling sleepy mess. We’ve been away at a music festival this weekend, an indoor one. There’s been drinking and lack of sleep and less quality sleep than when I’m at home. My diet has been poor. I lay there berating myself for a weekend of unadulterated fun, which is ridiculous! But this happens to me often. After gigs, and weekends away, and holidays.

“Did I enjoy myself enough?”

“Did I make the best of it?”

“Why did I spend so much money?”

“What could or should I have done differently?”

It’s an exhausting thought process.

If you follow me on Instagram I posted last week that I’ve been something of a recluse while I’ve been off work; pretty much just hanging out at home. It’s all cool, it’s through choice. But I had a lovely day out shopping on Thursday, then lunch with my Mom on Friday. I’d been invited to the afore mentioned second interview, after successfully navigating the first one earlier in the week. The husband and I had an end of summer barbecue on Friday night and sat outside til late with the chimnea burning. Then we were away Saturday and Sunday, catching up with friends and having a lot of fun. I hardly saw any of the bands because it was so hot in the venue and I was so aware that the good weather might be the last sign of summer that I didn’t want to hide away inside (I didn’t love the bands that were playing anyway, I was always going more for the social side). “Was that a mistake?” wondered my tired brain. “Should I have spent more time listening to music than socialising with people I don’t see very often?” Yep, an unsettled mind is fantastic for analysing things it’s too late to do anything about.

After such a good few days, maybe it was inevitable that I’d crash and burn today? I’d had really odd dreams and it was barely daylight when the alarm went off (grey days really drag me down anyway, I feel my mood slide).

Plus, stupidly, I’d run out of anti-depressants. I had a repeat prescription, but hadn’t collected the tablets. Now I don’t for one minute think that the benefits of anti-depressants leave your body in just two days of not taking them, but it’s always nice from a mental point of view to know you’ve got that extra bit of serotonin support when you’re feeling a bit wiped out. I knew I’d need to leave the house today and fetch the prescription; preferably sooner rather than later.

Up I got, with the husband, saw him off to work, fired up my laptop and my CV and collected my notes ready for my interview. It went well, I was happy with my responses and, if I don’t get any further in the recruitment process, I’ll know that I did my best. I really want to get further, because it’s a company I would really like to work for, but as long as I have no regrets in how I conducted myself in the two interviews, I can’t do any more.

And then, it happened. Flatness. Emptiness. Inability to adult. Operating like a normal person was today’s “Impossible Task”.

I read about the Impossible Task recently on Twitter, and it’s gone viral as so many people can identify with the tweet and the sentiment behind it.

Impossible Task tweet

Depression isn’t all crying and sadness (or being Mrs Angry, in my case). It can also comprise of inability to do things you need to do, things you’ve done a thousand times, because they are impossible at that point in time.

You can read the tweets and more about it in this article from Stylist magazine.

So, there I was, facing my Impossible Task. I knew that even the immediate placebo effect of taking a Prozac would help to level me out, but the thought of leaving the house to get them was too much. I went back to bed under the proviso of being cold. I spoke to the husband on his lunchbreak who told me to get up and go and fetch my tablets. I told him I would, but I closed the curtains and went to sleep for an hour. I woke up and sat in the dark for another hour (reading that blasted blog!)

Then I realised there was no-one to help me with my Impossible Task. The husband was at work. I couldn’t expect him to come home and go back out again to fetch my prescription. The house was a mess. And me moping in bed not only isn’t helping, it’s also unfair on the husband.

So I dragged my carcass out of my pit, had a manic tidy up, sorted some washing out, had a shower and even brushed my hair. I went to the supermarket, then I fetched my tablets. And, even before I’d taken one, I felt better. I’d overcome what I thought I couldn’t do earlier today.

I’m not saying this was a depressive episode, because that belittles depressive episodes, and I’ve gone through them enough to know you don’t get over them in one day simply by making the decision to. But it was symptomatic of not practising self care, and also my circumstances. My garden leave is officially over as of the end of last week, so I’m no longer in paid employment. That’s pretty scary. I’m probably pinning more hopes on the job I’m interviewing for than I should, and I don’t have lots of irons in the fire elsewhere right now. This is likely to be situational depression. A feeling of not being good enough that’s come to a head because I didn’t have a job to go to and I allowed myself to retreat inside my own head where things feel worse than they are.

We’re going on holiday on Saturday, for our 10th wedding anniversary trip. We’ve talked about going to Santorini for over 13 years, and it’s been booked since August last year. Me being a dick and feeling all sorry for myself isn’t going to change the situation, or get me a job, but it could well ruin my holiday. You bet I’ll be putting those packets of Prozac in every single pocket and bag when I’m packing for our trip. Placebo or not, I’d like to be married for another 10 years thanks.

This has been cathartic. If you’ve got this far then thanks, as always, for reading. x

7 books for 7 pounds? Yes please!

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Not for me a couple of pages before bed and taking weeks to finish a book. If I start a book I’m committed to it and I allow it to take over. I’m immersed in the story and the characters (assuming said book is well written) and I just NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Many a time on holiday we’ve been later than planned for lunch or dinner because I’m reading “just one more chapter” which we all know is nothing like one chapter and probably more like four.

When I was a kid we used to go to the local public library where you could only take out six books at a time. I used to pore over the shelves, thinking how best to use my meagre allocation and, by the time we got home, I was chomping at the bit to get started. It wasn’t unusual for me to read a book in one sitting, and I’d usually have got through all of them way before it was time to go back the following week.

As an adult I read less, due to time constraints and life getting in the way, but when I do read I still do so in the same way. Nose down, devouring the pages and feeling thoroughly engaged. If we’re on a relaxing holiday I like nothing more than spending the day at the beach or by the pool with a book for company. If we’re going on a holiday where there is little relaxing time because it’s all about sightseeing, I often choose not to take a book, even for the journey, because I know it will consume my thoughts and eat into my time when I should be out looking at what the world has to offer!

When e-readers became de rigeur, I was slightly appalled (I’d hate books to become extinct) but I could see their appeal – so many books in one lightweight easy to carry place; perfect for holidays where luggage allowance is needed for shoes! And so I bought one (a Nook, now extinct as a company) and I loaded it with all manner of tomes, and I read The Great Gatsby on it the first day I got it. Ebooks were cheap and easy to download and the reader had a really long battery life but I didn’t love it. I missed the smell, and the page turning, and seeing how much book you have left. I missed physical books.

There’s always at least one book on my Christmas list, which I may or may not get round to reading immediately! I always have a pile of physical books which I haven’t yet read, collected from one source or another. But I never buy books from new myself. Being the greedy reader that I am, it’s a really expensive way of reading, when there are much more economical options.

All hail charity shops.

Charity shops are a veritable feast of books – paperback, hardback, fiction, autobiography; they have everything you can imagine. Ranging from tatty and dog-eared (well loved, as I prefer to think of them) through to like new condition, it’s a great way to bring purpose to something that’s otherwise bound for the scrap heap AND support a good cause.

I know there are purists who argue that the author is missing out because they’re not getting the royalties from a new sale. In my case that’s not true at all. I wouldn’t buy the book brand new, so they’re not losing a sale. They’re gaining an audience, and an appreciator, and potentially a recommender who will talk about their works to other people, in real life or on social media.

My most recent find is our local Acorns Childrens Hospice charity shop. I say “find”, it’s in the village where I have lived for 12 years. I’m not usually out in the village having a mooch during shop opening hours though, so I rarely go in there. 2 weeks ago I popped in and came out with a couple of books (then another 4 from Oxfam).

More charity shop books

I started off by reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I really enjoyed. It was a very different protagonist to the usual type, and I did go through a stage a few chapters in where I didn’t like Eleanor very much and so I started to struggle with the book, but I’m glad I persevered.

Last week I went back to the charity shop and came out with 7 books! Charity shop prices for second hand books often depend on size or condition, but our local Acorns has a £1 per book policy across all paperbacks.

Charity shop books

One of these is completely unread with not a mark on it, and I’d say all of the others have been read once and are in immaculate condition. Total value of £55.93, all for £7!

The beauty of reading this way is that you can afford to step out of your comfort zone and try a genre or author you wouldn’t usually go for, because if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted a lot of money (well technically you haven’t wasted any money, as it’s gone to a good charitable cause). Also, once you’ve finished, you can donate them back to the charity shop of your choice, thus continuing their fundraising capability.

Are you an avid reader? Do you buy pre-loved books? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [35] – a lesson in dignity

Kids go to school for an education – to learn about the world and better themselves in preparation for adulthood.

But what about when school is more than just a place to learn?

Some pupils in West Side High School, New Jersey, were being bullied because of their appearance; regularly turning up to school in dirty uniform. Other pupils would point them out and humiliate them.

Headteacher Akbar Cook can’t solve the problem of the students’ personal circumstances (in many cases they’re officially homeless, or don’t have access to facilities to keep their clothes clean), but he has helped to create a solution to the results of those circumstances, by converting an unused locker room into a free Laundromat available to all pupils. With a financial grant, and donations of laundry detergent from companies and local individuals, students can wash their belongings either independently, or with the help of an adult on hand to teach them.

The fact that these kids are in such poor situations, or that more fortunate students are bullying them because of it is a whole other post, but the thoughtfulness shown by Mr Cook is to be applauded. Well done that human!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

5 things on my to do list while I’m “between jobs”

Garden leave is quite a strange animal, because technically I’m being paid to do nothing (thank you previous employer), but I feel a bit like I should be doing something.  That’s not to say I’ve been sleeping in most of the day and then sitting on my ass for the rest of it, but I do feel guilty for whiling away portions of time on mindless stuff, even though I’m entitled to take a break and I’m still earning money and paying my bills.

That said, here are some targets I’ve set myself to complete while I’m off. All attainable; some more serious than others!

1 – Get a job

Although it goes without saying, this has to be number one on my list. I’ve been scouring job listings, set up job alerts to be notified of new roles that are of interest to me, and registered with some agencies. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t have to jump into the first thing that comes along, and I want to find a role that is right for me, right for my CV and right for my future, but I also appreciate that “the perfect job” doesn’t exist and I’ll probably need to make some sacrifices.

2 – Give the blog a makeover

This little old corner of the internet has existed in its current incarnation for almost 3 and a half years, and while I’ve remained (fairly) consistent with writing content, I haven’t paid any attention to it’s appearance. A couple of years ago I went self hosted, but it was right around the time my Dad got very sick, and then he died, and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with the new stuff, so I carried on using free WordPress and just let the other subscription lapse. Now I have lots of time on my hands so a shiny new theme is in order at the very least. Also thinking of upgrading to paid WordPress for more flexibility, analytics, etc so any tips gratefully received!

3 – Watch all of the Harry Potter films

Bit of a light hearted one this! I took my sister to Harry Potter World for her 21st birthday back in March and, up until 4 days before, I hadn’t seen 1 film! So I binge watched the first 3 and off we went.

Making of Harry Potter

The visit was magical (I must do a blog post about it) but obviously there were things I didn’t really understand. I intended to watch the rest of the films straight afterwards, but then summer came and time ran away with me. Now is the time to scratch that itch! (I think I may rewatch the 3rd one too, as I got quite confused). I may even read the books as well.

4 – Finishing unpacking from when we moved house

We’ve lived in our house for 15 months now, and we still haven’t finished unpacking. Before you judge me though (I know I would!) for the first 7 months we were squished into a 2 bedroom apartment that was smaller than our old flat while our building work was completed, and then we were so excited at living in our new space after Christmas that we just put it on the back burner! Now, part of me thinks if stuff has been in storage for 15 months and we haven’t missed it then perhaps we just throw it all away BUT some of the bags are full of my shoes, which means it will be like shopping my own wardrobe, which is technically saving money – very important when you don’t have a job! I actually have a partial tick against this “to do” already, as last week I finally sorted out the big bedroom (which used to be the lounge when it was an apartment) – we’ve been lazy chilled out and sleeping in what will be the guest bedroom up until this point. Now we have oodles of space, a king size bed and 3 windows!

Here’s how it looked before (check out the 90s curtains and brass fittings!)

Old lounge

Old lounge 2

And here’s how it is at this moment in time (yes I have a purple leopard and zebra print duvet cover, what’s it to ya?!)

Current bedroom

There’s still stuff to do, like paint the fireplace, change the carpet, and choose the furniture, but it’s good to finally be in there.

Next on the list is the small bedroom (which will be the husband’s music room for all his CDs and guitars) and the utility room which used to be the kitchen.

5 – Go on holiday

Now this might seem like a very indulgent “to do” for someone who isn’t working but, in my defence, it’s been booked since this time last year. And it’s a “special” holiday – to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We’re flying to Athens for 3 nights and then to Santorini for a week and I’m super excited.

Santorinilead-xlarge

We’ve been talking about going to Santorini since we got together 13 years ago, so it’s been a long time coming, and it was on a travel bucket list post I shared a couple of years back – Athens was on part two of that list where I pondered combining both destinations in one trip. On the basis of ticking them off, I’ll need to replace them and write a new travel bucket list post, right?

What’s on your “to do” list for the next few weeks?

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

 

Friday Feeling [34] – making a (small) difference

Before I had my (unplanned) hiatus from blogging I wrote a post about wearing a bikini (you can read it here).

I think, as women, many of us have insecurities about our bodies and how they look, which are mainly brought on by what we see in the media and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves as a result.

So imagine how chuffed I was when one of my followers – Tamsyn from blog Leather and Glitter – tagged me in her instagram honeymoon photos to tell me she’d worn a bikini on her honeymoon BECAUSE OF MY BLOG POST!!!

Wore a bikini

You can probably imagine how amazing that made me feel. It’s such lovely feedback and I really appreciate Tamsyn letting me know, so I could have all the warm and fuzzies.

If you want to see Tamsyn’s honeymoon photos you can check her out on Instagram here (there are no bikini shots though!) and it’s also worth pointing out that she made her own wedding dress, with her own fair hands, which you can also see on Instagram and read more about on her blog.

Have you ever had blog feedback that’s given you that Friday Feeling?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A life update – back to where it all began

Did anyone notice I haven’t posted for a while? <<awkward silence!>>

I started this blog almost three and a half years ago, because I’d been made redundant.

Guess what? I’ve just been made redundant again! Well, I say just, I found out it was going to happen 2 weeks ago today, then I was off for a long weekend, then worked a day and a half before getting put on garden leave (where you don’t have to work but still get paid, in case you’re not familiar with the term).

It was pretty unexpected but not overly surprising, if that makes sense? I’m certainly not angry or bitter with my ex employers because small businesses have to do what’s right for them, and where would being cross get me anyway? I’d still be in the same unemployed position, but with a headache and heart palpitations and sore hands from slamming my fist into walls shouting “dammit”!

So, what have I been up to then? <<whispers>> I probably shouldn’t say this…but…

I’ve been having quite a jolly time! As I mentioned I was off for a long weekend immediately after I was given THE NEWS as we were going to the Rock and Blues festival in Derbyshire. At first it seemed rotten timing (“I’m unemployed! I can’t go spending money on drinking booze in a field watching bands I love”) but then it seemed good timing (“I’m unemployed! Sitting at home moping about it isn’t going to change anything, and I REALLY want to be in a field watching bands I love!”) So that was a whole heap of fun, and you’ll be glad to know I didn’t hold back on spending money on booze, including bakewell cherry gin which, as a none gin drinker, went down extremely well.

Since then, last week, I’ve had lunch with my Mom and brother for his birthday; sorted out the garage to make space for our new boxing bag (more on that new fad hobby another time); this week I talked the husband into taking a day off work (legitimately, obvs) so we could have lunch and drinks and hang out on Monday; tried (and failed) to fight off a HIDEOUS hangover on Tuesday (the trouble with not having a job to keep me in check is that I don’t have a cut off point so drank more and later than I usually would have done).

Oh, and then I just nipped to Scotland yesterday, as you do. The husband had a site visit to do in East Kilbride and it’s a bloody long drive from Birmingham to South Scotland on your own, so being the selfless hero I am, I offered to co-pilot. I perused Primark while he did his thing then we drove back down to a lovely little town called Moffat where we had lunch, and then dinner, and drinks (I’m painting a bad picture of myself here, I know) and a lush overnight stay in a lovely hotel with the BEST duvet I have EVER slept under IN MY LIFE (I found out where they bought it from and I’m buying one, it was THAT GOOD), before coming home via Manchester-ish way where he did another 15 minute site visit and I managed to buy some earrings within that 15 minutes (pro-shopper).

So, all in all I’ve been a busy little bee and <<whispers again>> probably not as pro-active as I should have been in job hunting BUT it’s a been very traumatic and stressful time (not strictly true) and the sun has had his hat on again so I think I was entitled to a few days “me” time before I start the job search in earnest (actually in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, but you know what I mean).

Oh, and it’s not like I haven’t applied for any jobs (I have), or been looking (I have), just in case I come across as a privileged little madam. So don’t judge me yeah, because I’m unemployed and might have a cry.

What have you guys been up to? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

The strangest things can make you feel sad

The other day I was hanging some wet washing up to dry and I had an enormous wave of grief and sadness wash over me, because of a pair of pyjamas. They’re leopard print and they have pockets and they were one of my Christmas gifts the last Christmas before my Dad died. I had a flash back to putting them on, as soon as I opened them, over my clothes. I put on pretty much all the other clothes Dad and his wife bought me as well, including a pair of leopard print tights on my head. My Dad was laughing, his eyes crinkling up until you couldn’t see them anymore, and telling me I was a nutter. We all knew that Christmas was going to be his last, even though we didn’t say it. He knew it too – he really went overboard and spoilt us all.

I read an article recently that really resonated with me. You can read it here. It talks about life carrying on, and changing in ways that mean a person you’ve lost wouldn’t recognise things anymore. When we moved house I got really upset that my Dad wouldn’t know where we lived anymore, if in some way he could ever come back (I’m actually welling up typing this, the thought still gets me). When I changed my car it occurred to me that he wouldn’t know it was me if he saw me driving down the street. I still have his phone number in my mobile, and cant being myself to delete it, just in case he managed to get in touch. All daft thoughts, I know. (Also, can you imagine how freaked out I’d be if my phone rang and “Dad” popped up?!)

I can’t imagine how that grief must be magnified if you lose a partner.

We went to Dubrovnik last week, me and the husband and Dad’s wife. And we talked about Dad, as we often do. We knew he’d be happy that the 3 of us are so close and that Julie (Dad’s wife) travels with us. But there’s that ever present reminder that the 3 of us are together because Dad isn’t here anymore.

Grief can hit you at any time, unexpectedly, it can take the shine off your day; zap your mood from hero to zero in an instant.

But it can also bring back happy memories, reminding you to think of the good times.

Almost 2 years on and I’m still learning that, actually, grief is a law unto itself. It doesn’t go away. It just changes over time.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Grief and guilt

I was 13 when my Nan – my Mom’s Mom – died. I spent a lot of time with her growing up, with all my grandparents actually. She looked after me when I was poorly and my Mom was at work, or during summer holidays, or just because. She had an infectious laugh. She used to let me play hairdressers with her grey curly permed hair and made me cheese sandwiches with sweet pickled onions. In summertime she would sit in a deckchair in the garden while I made up songs and dances with an upturned mop. We’d go for afternoon walks where she’d nose in other people’s houses as we passed. She always had a tin of broken biscuits in the cupboard. She was ace.

Inevitably though, when I think of my Nan, I always come back to a similar memory which makes me feel sick with shame even now, 27 years on. My grandad used to homebrew beer and lager. He had a set up at home with all the kit. And one day me and Nan went to the local town and she had to buy him a new brewing container, like a big plastic bin. On the walk home (Nan didn’t drive) I was carrying this big plastic bin, in a black bin liner, and it was bashing against my legs and it meant I couldn’t walk on the wall like I always did when we came back from town. So I was grumbling and whinging and Nan took it off me and struggled herself with the other bags as well.

If my Nan was around now, or probably even at the time, she probably wouldn’t have even remembered that day. She certainly wouldn’t have held any grudge and would tell me not to be silly. I was just a kid after all, probably about 10 or 11 when it happened.

But it weighs heavily on my mind, and I can’t help it.

I have a different type of guilt when I think of my Dad. I’m sure I did lots of shitty thoughtless things to him when I was a kid, but there’s nothing huge that springs to mind. There was the time, after he and Mom had divorced, that I was supposed to go out to lunch with him (it was his birthday or maybe Fathers Day) but I’d been out clubbing all night and fell into such a deep sleep that I missed my alarm and all his calls. I do feel bad about that, but in later years we talked and even laughed about it. That’s one of the “good” things (if you can call it that) about him being terminally ill and knowing that time was limited. We got the chance to say all the things we wanted to say. I apologised for things like the afore mentioned deep sleep incident. I brought up anything that had upset me or played on my mind but I’d squirrelled away, because that’s what people do, and he was able to explain situations and put me at ease. I can’t imagine losing someone suddenly and having unfinished business or unanswered questions.

Me and Dad

The guilt I have around losing my Dad is mainly connected to what I’ve gained as a result of his death. He was a very switched on and organised man who was saving towards his future retirement, which he was supposed to enjoy with his wife. And obviously his diagnosis stole that from him; from both of them. So I was in the position of losing my Dad at what I think to be a young age, certainly prematurely to what I ever feared but also being left some money. Money that I didn’t need, didn’t want and certainly didn’t want to inherit in such fucking tragic circumstances. Money that, his wife told me, he wanted me to have for my future in the absence of him having a future. The only thing he asked of me, before he died, was not waste it. I know he meant spend it on shoes!

There’s a huge amount of responsibility that comes with inheriting money as a result of such a life changing loss. The thought of using it towards enjoyment when it existed purely because my Dad had died was unthinkable to me. But having money sitting there doing nothing isn’t what my Dad would have wanted either. He wanted me to enjoy it and benefit from it. So we’ve used some of it towards our home. We’ve been able to stay in our chosen area and buy a property with the intention of having building work and renovations done to make it into a perfect home for us. We couldn’t have done that otherwise (well we could, but we’d be living on dust and in a building site while we saved up enough money to do the work we needed). My Dad’s gift has given us a home and garden that we love with all our heart (so much so that we don’t go out anywhere near as much as we used to!) It has given us some financial security and an investment in our future, because the work we’ve had done on our house will increase the value as the years progress.

But how can I be so happy with something that has come at such a huge personal cost? The dichotomy between loving it, and hating the situation that made it possible. Knowing that the person in my life who would have been THE MOST EXCITED for us will never see it. He’d have been involved every step of the way; wanting photos, listening to our builder woes, telling us to give people a kick up the ass. He’d have walked in and done his amazed face where his eyes opened really wide and he said “WOW. Just WOW”. He’d have walked backwards and forwards and around and said things like “I tell you what…” and not finish the sentence because he’d spotted something else to look at. He’d have opened and closed and opened our bifold doors and said something like “these are a bit smart”. He’d have listened while I told him about all the different birds that come to our bird table and how my hydrangea is growing back after a cold winter. His eyes would have crinkled up at the sides like they did when he was happy and he’d have hugged me really tight.

And all of that would have happened because of the money he gave us, but can’t happen because the money he gave us is because he died.

It’s a headfuck.

I feel so lucky to have a wonderful home, but so unlucky to have been afforded it in the way it’s happened. All I can be is thankful and grateful to him. To do him proud. To have invested the money wisely in property, and not in my wardrobe! To be happy and settled. To share it with family. To make it a welcoming and lovely place to be. A place he would have approved of. To try not to feel guilty, because what good does that do? Gratitude is much more useful than guilt.

Somehow though, just like the feeling I have when I think about my Nan, it’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake off.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 things I’m loving right now

You know when there are simple things in life that bring a smile to your face? These are my current ones!

James Bay – Pink Lemonade

Considering I thought most of the single releases from his previous album wee a load of melancholy tosh, I can’t get enough of this song. Is it recorded in a different key maybe? There’s something about it. Love.

Burgers and outdoor eating

BurgerA couple of years back we bought an electric “barbecue” because the gestapo management company thought we’d burn our apartment building down if we used fire. When we moved into our house last year we expected to retire it, but it’s actually been a continuing revelation for outdoor eating after work when it’s just the two of us and a full on barbecue with coals and stuff is too much like hard work. The husband has it down to a T, and cooks THE most incredible burgers on there. Not even blowing smoke up his ass because he reads this, they’re the best burgers I’ve ever had, ever. Tasty, juicy, moist, yum! Loaded onto a brioche bun and topped with pickles, cheese slices and relish, I seem unable to stop at just one.

Frasier
FrasierI always thought that Frasier would be a pompous, up it’s own ass, not particularly funny comedy show, and never had any interest in watching it. Until the husband, buoyed by watching a few episodes out of sync on Saturday morning TV, bought the box set with a view to starting from the very beginning. What can I say, apart from “I was wrong”. Yup, hold my hand up, it’s nothing like I feared. It’s gentle, clever, dry and very very witty. Niles is my absolute favourite. I love nothing more than snuggling down for a 3 or 4 episode binge and some guaranteed lols.

Sunshine and being in the garden

Plants in my gardenThis needs no explanation. If you follow me on instagram you’ll have noticed I’m a weather obsessive. The sun makes everything better. Waking up, getting out of bed, leaving the house. Even being at work is more tolerable knowing there’s sunshine just outside the door. After a loooooong winter, we seem to have had better than average weather for the past month and I am living for it. Combined with that, my garden is just everything to me. I’d rather spend money on plants than shoes (I said that jokingly a few weeks ago, then realised that it’s completely true and I’m not even bothered!) and potting flowers and waiting for them to bloom is such a joy. The patio resembles a garden centre! We’re having a new lawn laid today and I’m ridiculously excited (sad, I know!) and I’m sure I’ll be sharing pics in the weeks to come.

Royal Wedding

Royal WeddingI wasn’t overly into Harry and Meghan’s wedding in the lead up but ever since I watched the coverage on TV I can’t get enough of it! Pictures, articles, opinions – I want it all. And just how beautiful are the official photos released yesterday? Harry’s smile – could he be any happier? I think it’s a modern day love story; not only about Meghan getting her Prince, but about H getting his happy ending too (no sniggering at the back, rude readers).

What’s dinging your dong right now? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x