It’s Father’s Day. Don’t pity me too much. I have a Dad. He isn’t here anymore; not on this mortal plane. But he’s forever in my head, my heart and my mind.
I hate reading people say they don’t have a Dad anymore. If you love your Dad then he will always be part of you.
Today I will be having a chat with my “Dear Dad” rose. The rose I bought which sits in his wife’s memorial garden where some of his ashes are scattered. The rose I have a replica of in my own garden, where I spend most of my time in summer.
Last year was my first Fathers Day without him. It sucked. I was bitter and resentful and angry.
Today, my second Fathers Day without my Dad, I’m just sad. Really really sad. I can’t begrudge anyone still having their Dad around – that would be spiteful. I’ve flinched and shrugged off the marketing and adverts and turned the other cheek this year. But I miss him. And I wish I was seeing him today.
If your Dad is a good man who has done his best for you, be sure to let him know. Not just today, but all the days.
Ever since my garden has become my new favourite thing, it’s fair to say I’m obsessed with all things horticultural. I spend at least one lunchtime each week in the garden centre, I like nothing more than potting up pretty plants for my patio and I’ve started collecting shrubs for my newly cleared borders which are a wonderful blank canvas for me to start planning.
So when I saw that Gardeners World had a 12 month 2 for 1 gardens entrance card in their May magazine, I was all over it.
The entrance fee is £7, or just £3.50 each with the 2 for 1 card. It’s probably quite expensive, for what it is, if like me you just wanted to have a meander and a bit of a nose. It’s certainly not a whole day out, but there is a nice tea room so you could probably get a couple of hours out of it. It’s a shame the (grade II listed, timber framed) hall isn’t open to the public but it’s beautiful to look at from the outside, and everything is immaculate.
The gardens are separated into “rooms” – each one with a different theme and/or colour scheme.
Lessons from our visit:
a) I need some poppies
b) I need some alliums (the purple ball shape flowers, top left)
c) I need to train my climbing roses
Are you a garden fan? Visiting, doing? I’m already looking for places to visit next!
If you’ve happened upon this post thinking it’s something to do with recycling or living a more sustainable life then…soz! It’s actually just a vacuous post about clothes (“just”, she says, as if clothes aren’t part of her life blood!)
I realised recently that I didn’t really have any green in my wardrobe. Then I realised that I wanted some. So, in true shopaholic style, I bought not one but FIVE things.
Anyone else feeling slightly buoyed by the good results of the last couple of weeks?
Ireland overwhelmingly voted to Repeal the 8th amendment, meaning that women across the country have choice and freedom when it comes to their bodies and their pregnancies. It was positive to see the breakdown of voting numbers, and that people young and old voted in favour of change.
Harvey Weinstein was arrested in relation to the sexual abuse and rape allegations made against him. OK, so he hasn’t admitted to them, but with the overwhelming number of women who have come forward it’s surely only a matter of time until his guilt is confirmed by law.
The British justice system, so often accused (and rightly so) of being too soft on certain criminals, acted swiftly to bring bigoted EDL hate speaker Tommy Robinson to justice; trialling and sentencing him quickly for his blatant law breaking whilst serving a suspended sentence. It’s alarming to see blind and ignorant support for him across social media – people wrongly believing he’s been robbed of freedom of speech while trying to brig paedophiles to justice – but at least putting him behind bars sends out the right message.
Roseanne Barr was immediately held account for her very public racist comments on Twitter about a former aide of Barack Obama. Her TV show was canned by the network who actively denounced her views and any connection to her. Again a great warning that hateful language and beliefs is becoming less and less tolerated, and there will be consequences. Hold those views if you will, but don’t expect them to be tolerated.
Of course there’s still heaps of shit going on in the world (isn’t there always?) but small victories for minority groups must always be celebrated, and often have a domino effect to bigger things.
Today Irish nationals go to the polls in a referendum about legalising abortion. Under the 8th amendment, apart from in very few circumstances, it’s illegal for a woman to abort a pregnancy in Ireland. This includes if she is the victim of rape, if the foetus has life limiting disabilities detected in the womb or if the mother herself develops life threatening illnesses for which the treatment will harm the foetus.
That’s right – Ireland puts the rights of an nonviable collection of cells above the rights and welfare, both physical and mental, of a woman.
I’ve made my thoughts on abortion perfectly clear on this blog in the past. I believe that a woman should have autonomy over her body. Not just in cases like those outlined above. But in all cases. Because mistakes do happen. You can be as careful as you like with contraception and you may still get pregnant, even though you don’t want a child. It’s wrong to punish people into a life of parenthood when it’s not what they want. It’s not good for a woman, and not good for a resulting child.
I feel nervous today. “Why?” you might ask. “You’re not Irish, why should you care?”. I care because I’m a woman, and we should all care about women’s rights. It’s abhorrent to me to think of the hoops Irish women have to go through to have an abortion for whatever reason.
I’ve been following the #Repealthe8th hashtag on Twitter all week, and some of the stories I’ve read have been emotionally disturbing, draining and downright disgusting. Women who, short of money to make the trip, have tried to self abort with alcohol, hot baths and hitting themselves in the stomach out of sheer desperation. A woman who found out she was pregnant at 5 weeks but couldn’t get to the UK for an abortion until she was 12 weeks because she had to save up the money to afford it. Women who lied to their families and employer as to their whereabouts. A woman who couldn’t afford the extra cash for an anaesthetic so underwent the procedure with no pain relief. Women making the journey from Ireland to the UK and back in one day, with no rest or recovery time, because they didn’t want to arouse suspicion as to where they were. The fear of sitting in the airport waiting for a flight and praying that they didn’t see anyone they knew. Women who have ended up with a post abortion infection because they were too scared to go to their own doctor when back on Irish soil.
It’s an astonishing and unacceptable truth that a rape victim could receive a longer prison sentence for aborting an unwanted pregnancy than the rapist who sexually attacked her.
These are the reasons that the law needs to be changed.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom. For every sad story I’ve been buoyed by tweets from people intent on being part of the movement for change. People who live outside of Ireland travelling home to make their vote count (it’s not possible to vote by post or proxy, which the cynic in me thinks is a deliberate move by the government to try and skew the vote). Irish nationals are travelling from far and wide; the UK, obviously, but America, Asia and Australia too – spending their time and money to contribute to the right result for women. People who live in Ireland, not content in just voting themselves, but in helping others to do so – offering free taxi journeys from the airport, lifts to the polling station and donating to Crowdfunding resources who are using financial donations to pay travel costs for people living out side of the country who are eligible to vote but can’t afford to get there. I even saw an individual on Twitter who said, because she couldn’t make the journey herself due to other commitments, she would personally pay, in full, the airfare of anyone who could go in her place.
And then there’s the humorous – a Twitter user’s Dad who was out walking his dog and given a leaflet by someone from the “No” campaign, who replied with “oh good, I’ve run out of bags”, and proceeded to pick up dog poo with the propaganda.
Ireland is in the spotlight right now, just like it was when it held the referendum on gay marriage. It has the chance to do something great; the chance to respect and honour it’s women, the chance to believe that a woman knows what’s right for her.
Abortions will continue, whether the law is changed or not. But a yes vote means that women don’t have to travel unneccessarily, don’t have to lie, don’t have to face financial upheaval and can recover in their own home with professionals on hand should things go wrong.
Also, let’s not forget, the sexual freedom that comes with legal abortion. I’m not talking about screwing around with no contraception. I’m talking about not having the fear that a sexual encounter that goes wrong – whether the condom splits, or the pill doesn’t work – won’t end up in a clandestine visit to the UK or an unwanted baby born as a result of lack of money or information. When I lost my virginity at 17 I felt safe in the knowledge that, if the worst happened, my life wouldn’t be changed in a way I didn’t want and that there would be a legal and safe way out of an unwanted pregnancy. Women should be free to enjoy sex without worrying. Let’s not make sex something to potentially be scared of any longer.
I hope with every fibre of my being that the antiquated anti abortion supporters are outnumbered and that sense prevails.
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
A 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.
I 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
This 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.
I 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!
We’d all like to think that we’d instinctively know what to say or do if a family member shared something important with us, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes we might need advice from a third party.
It’s not very often, though, that the third party would be a gay bar!
This story is pretty heartwarming – a bartender at a mostly gay bar in Mississippi took a call from a woman who’s son had just come out to her, and she didn’t want to say the wrong thing, so she called the bar for some advice.
Maybe not the most conventional approach, but thoughtful nonetheless.
Now? I’m not depressed. At all. I have a happy marriage, a beautiful home, a settled job with great work colleagues and an understanding manager. I get to go on plenty of holidays and trips, I have a loving and supportive family and a network of friends who know and accept me for who I am, warts and all.
But do I still have depression?
Is depression like an infection, where you take tablets and then it’s cured? Or is it like diabetes (for example) where it will probably need to be managed for the rest of your life? Everyone is different, I guess. Some people fully recover. Some people will relapse or have recurring episodes throughout their life. Me? I’m scared to find out. After afore-mentioned wobble, which put a deep – if temporary – chasm in my marriage, I’m not really in the market for testing my mental health by coming off my tablets. Maybe that’s irresponsible. I don’t care. I’ve been on them for long enough now that they’re part of me, and I’ve never noticed any effects (apart from the obvious and much wanted positive ones) that have made me feel a need to stop taking them (apart from that one fated time, I know I mention it a lot but it was horrible). Not everyone is so lucky, and I appreciate that. For some people, the side effects of anti-depressants can be worse than the reason for taking them. A lot of people have to trial different variants before they find one that suits them. Not me. Prozac and I got along very well right from the beginning.
But, as I said, I’m not depressed. I can’t imagine ever feeling so desolate and bleak as I did when I first started taking tablets. Sometimes I even wonder “was it that bad?” – it’s such a long time ago, literally and figuratively. But of course it was that bad, at the time. You don’t take 3 weeks off work unable to face real life if you’re just feeling a bit low. You don’t think that it would be quite a relief to not be around anymore as long as you get to say your I love yous and goodbyes to people first.
And yes I still have low days, days where I feel shitty and I want the world to stop so I can get off, days where everything is an effort, days where I’m so caught up in my own thoughts that I want to just be left alone. I don’t class those days as part of my depression. I class them as just rough days, that everybody has, right? Or do they? I also blogged recently about not really knowing who I am because I’ve been on Prozac and the contraceptive pill for such a long time. So is a sad day, a flat day, a can’t be fucking arsed day simply a controlled by pills depression day?
Who knows?! (it’s bloody complex, being a human.)
So, if I’m not depressed but I still take a daily tablet for fear of returning to that space, how do I class myself? And because I’m not actively living it, and haven’t for a long time, is it even worth me participating in the conversation? There are people with much worse experiences than me, in the here and now.
My conclusion is that I don’t need to label myself. It doesn’t matter, right now, to have a category to fit into. The important thing is that I’m mentally stable (in the most part). I had my diagnosis, a long time ago, which put me on a treatment path which levelled me out. Long may that path continue, whatever it’s called.
PS. The lovely Tina from T is for Tina has written a very apt post in relation to MHAW. As she correctly states, “we all have a mental health, and we all need to look after ourselves and learn to put ourselves first sometimes.” Regardless of whether or not you have a diagnosed mental illness or condition, it’s important for everyone to to look after their own mental wellbeing. MHAW isn’t just to acknowledge people who’s brains are a bit wonky (I’m being flippant, not rude). It should also exist to remind everyone to take care of themselves. Say no when you want to, create some me time and indulge in things that make you happy. Your brain deserves it.
It’s my final post about Rome, promise (until I go back again – which I most definitely will). I thought I’d do a quick round up of the more practical things – sleeping and eating!
Hotel Antica Dimora delle Cinque Lune
This hotel was marvellous; situated on the top 3 floors of a 6 story building, I can’t honestly remember how or why we chose it (which is unusual for me) but it ticked the boxes in terms of location (5 minutes one way to Piazza Navona, and 5 minutes the other way to the bridges crossing the River Tiber for the Vatican City) and quirkiness (the room was very gothic).
The lobby area on our floor had an opulent lounge area.
And the wooden shutters in our bedroom opened up on to candy coloured buildings and pavement cafes.
Breakfast was served on the roof with views across the city.
Breakfast was standard continental fare – pastries, yoghurts, fruit, boiled eggs, cooked meats and pizza slices (when in Rome!). The staff were super helpful; storing our bags before check in and after check out so we could make the most of our time in the city, supplying maps and recommendations and generally just being really friendly and approachable. I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Rome.
Our first meal in Rome was at a little bistro near Piazza Navona, where we ate bruschetta and pasta with a glass of wine for just 12 euros each (our expenditure on food increased massively after this point!) We sat outside under patio heaters and watched the world go by and it was lovely. It is possible to eat cheaply in Rome, contrary to my expectations, but with it being my birthday trip we splashed out on some nicer places which made the break more expensive than it could have been.
We spotted this place whilst wondering back to our hotel on our first evening, and said immediately we’d go back there to eat. It was all lit up with fairy lights, had warm welcoming patio heaters outside and just looked so quaint and pretty, plus the menu ad us drooling before we’d even got through the door! This is up there as one of my most memorable restaurant experiences ever; we sat tucked in a corner by the window, drinking chianti, and had the most incredible steak wrapped in bacon and truffle. It was PHENOMENAL.
Caffe Sant Anna
This was the lowest point of our dining in Rome, and kind of our own fault for not researching in advance. We had time for lunch in the Vatican City between our Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica visits so stopped off at this place as it “looked nice”. Big mistake. We ordered a glass of wine each and the guy bought us a bottle. No matter; I’m not averse to daytime drinking and we thought perhaps they didn’t serve wine by the glass. The husband ordered a salad, and I ordered gnocchi, and while we were waiting for our food I checked TripAdvisor where there was review after review about the poor quality of the food (microwaved), and the discrepancies in final bills, people being overcharged, people being charged for things they hadn’t ordered – the general consensus was AVOID THIS RESTAURANT! Too late for us, we hoped for the best, but their poor reputation was proven when I watched my gnocchi be spooned into a bowl from a deli counter and then microwaved until it was so hot I couldn’t eat it, the husband’s salad was pretty much devoid of anything other than leaves, and the final bill showed 35 euros for the bottle of wine, when I knew it was only 25 euros on the menu. I challenged the wine price while the husband used the bathroom; the waiter gave me some bullshit excuse about having given us someone else’s bill by mistake (how convenient other people were eating what we were but drinking a more expensive wine?!) and the husband came back with reports of blood smeared all over the toilet. 55 euros down, no tip and a very sharp exit, as well as a lesson learned!
Osteria Dell Anima
We’d spotted this on our wanderings as well, and put it on the list to visit purely for the veal in truffle sauce (I do love how restaurants in Europe display their menus outside so you can make sure there’s something you want before you’re seated at a table). We arrived fairly late, and the restaurant was empty, but we were assured they were very much open and very much still serving. The lack of atmosphere and surly attitude of the staff, along with the fact I was trying to order a replacement oven online because our builder at home, in the final phases of work pre-Christmas, had told me by text that I wouldn’t have an oven for Christmas Day (we were hosting both Christmas and Boxing Day dinners!) made for quite a strange dining experience, but the meal itself was incredible. Truffle sauce – yowsers!
Situated in one of Rome’s many piazzas, we stopped here for lunch on my birthday. Undeterred by winter, the restaurant had placed the outdoor terrace undercover and supplied blankets and patio heaters which added to the lovely atmosphere (I’m a big advocate of sitting outside whenever possible). We drank rose wine under the fairy lights and ate spaghetti bolognese (small portion, but very very tasty) and I decided that being 40 wasn’t so bad after all.
The husband had researched my birthday meal and found a lovely restaurant but, when we arrived, they had a private party on and weren’t catering for anyone else. He was understandably gutted, but I suggested we head back down the road to Cantina e Cucina which I’d read very good reviews of on TripAdvisor. The restaurant was lovely; very rustic Italian with checked table cloths, candles in wine bottles and herbs hanging from the ceiling. So welcoming and cosy with very friendly staff.
To start I had deep fried artichoke, which is a Roman speciality, and the husband had the biggest bucket of calamari – we couldn’t actually finish it all. We both had veal saltimboca for main. It was all ok, just not what I expected (my fault for ordering off piste) but the wonderful atmosphere, and the candlelight, and the chianti made everything amazing anyway, even if the food wasn’t the star of the show. Oh and I got a tiramisu with a sparkling candle and the waiter sang Happy Birthday; what’s not to like?!
Taken as I was with the Pantheon, along with it’s proximity to our hotel, it made sense that our last lunch of the holiday would be eaten at one of the restaurants facing the magnificent building before our car for the airport arrived. We settled on Napoletano’s for it’s perfect positioning, outdoor tables and a very welcoming waiter. Even though it was barely lunchtime (about 11.50am!) I was determined to finish the holiday with a lasagne and…you guessed it…more chianti!
And it was magnificent. Really rich sauce and perfectly al dente pasta. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, a busker was playing songs that filled the piazza, and we both swore that we would be back again to this most fabulous city.
I feel kind of sad that I won’t be blogging about Rome any more in the near future, but I had a wonderful 4 days there and I’ve been reliving it for almost 5 months through these posts so…until next time…
If you missed any of my previous posts about Rome, click the links below:
I don’t know about you, but I tend not to shop very much in February and March. The shops are full of new season stuff but it’s still too bloody cold outside to wear anything less than 10 tog quilted clothes and hide under blankets at all time.
Come April though, I start to get a hankering for shiny new spring and summer clothes. Probably because I haven’t dared to unpack all of my previous year’s spring and summer clothes to avoid jinxing any good weather we might have. Or, more probably, because I get the fear when I don’t buy new things.
With that in mind, here’s a round up of my cheap and cheerful E5P buys which have ticked my new clothes box without breaking the bank.
Red ruffle hem trousers
Lesser mortals may think these are only for special occasions. I’m going to wear these bad boys whenever the mood takes me, even to work.
Peacock print leggings
Ditto the above. I’ve already worn these to work, but certainly not with a top tucked in (who wear legging like that?!)
Navy and white spot shirt dress
I’ve had a soft spot (pun intended!) for dotty dresses ever since I saw Vivian wearing her brown and white one at the croquet in Pretty Woman. Hers shows more arm and less leg. I’m thinking of teaming this with a red bandana headband and white sandals.
70s print chiffon top
I love easy to wear pieces like this (by easy to wear, I also mean easy to wash, by which I mean no ironing required!) Great for chucking on with jeans.
Frill sleeve blouse
I’ve waxed lyrical about my love of a fancy sleeve in the past, and this little lovely also has a fancy frilled front for extra dandiness.
Empire line denim dress
This is thicker than I expected so will probably get more wear in winter with tights and boots. Anyone else annoyed by her haphazard cuff folding?
Embroidered cheesecloth smock tops
Again super easy to wear and no iron (they’re designed to look crinkled!) I couldn’t choose k=just one colour so I got two. Sorry not sorry
Aztec print chiffon cover up
I’m sure I will be asked why I’m wearing a dressing gown over my clothes when I wear this but that’s ok. As you may have noticed, I’m very much of the don’t give a fuck camp when it come to other people’s opinions on my clothes!
Off shoulder cheesecloth mini dresses
More non iron beauties! I was hoping these would be long enough to wear as dresses, what with me not being of clothing model proportions, but I might be pushing it on the decency front. But they’ll look great with leggings or over denim shorts.
Has the good weather sent you scurrying to the shops? Let me know!