Category: Uncategorized

Dear Dad…

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.

20180614_184245.jpg

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.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Friday Feeling [32] – who you gonna call? Gay Bar!

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.

Altogether now…aw!

Maybe not the most conventional approach, but thoughtful nonetheless.

Good on that Mom!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

0

Moseley Farmers Market

Farmers markets are quite de riguer these days aren’t they? Any postcode worth it’s salt seems to have one. Well, I can go one better, the Farmers Market where I live won the FARMA “Best Farmers’ Market in the UK” award in 2009, 2012 and 2016 – the only market to have won 3 times!

Now I’m finished gloating, I have to admit that I don’t get there very often. I always seem to have something on, or the weather’s rubbish (I’m a fair weather person). But, on a (rare) sunny but cold February morning I toddled off up the road to buy some schizzle. And by schizzle I mean edible stuff.

The market boasts around 60 stalls with all sort of fresh produce – cakes, cheese, fresh olives and organic meat.

Moseley Farmers Market cakes

Moseley Farmers Market cheese stall

Moseley Farmers Market olives

Moseley Farmers Market organic meat

The pottery stall has beautiful handmade, handfired goods.

Moseley Farmers Market pottery

Multitudes of flavours of cordials and chutneys on this stall.

Moseley Farmers Market stall

Baladee has Egyptian flavours.

Moseley Farmers Market Baladee Egyptian food

The Scotch Egg man is a personal fave, because scotch eggs are a food of wonder.

Moseley Farmers Market scotch eggs

There’s also a plant stall; we bought some bits which sadly died because the weather was too crap to plant them up outside for weeks afterwards.

Moseley Farmers Market plant stall

The pastries from Cossak Cuisine were flying out!

Moseley Farmers Market Cossak Cuisine

There’s also a hog roast stall selling hot pork sandwiches, and a samosa stall where the samosas are freshly deep fried in front of you and are OMG delish. Unfortunately by the time we got there they’d sold out, oops. So the husband bought a smoked sausage pastry from the stall above, which was delicious heated up in the oven when we got home.

Russian pastry from Moseley Farmers Market

What else did we buy?

What we bought at Moseley Farmers Market

Some garlic rolled goats cheese, sweet potato dip from Baladee and 4 scotch eggs – honey and mustard, spring onion and garlic, sundried tomato and Eastern spice. Yum!

The market is held on the last Saturday of each month in the village square. Which means it’s on today! Unfortunately I won’t be going along because I’m going caret shopping <<hugely sarcastic yay>>, and suitcase shopping <<actual legitimate yay, because it’s for our trip to Palma which happens next weekend!>>

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

A trip to Rome (aka the holiday that almost never was)

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I went to Rome for a few days before Christmas, to celebrate my 40th birthday.

You may also have noticed that we almost never made it out of Luton airport.

In case you don’t follow me on insta (you should, by the way, shameless plug of link to my account here) or if their silly algorithm means you don’t see my posts, here’s what happened.

Our flight from Luton was at 6.40am on the Monday morning, so we travelled down the day before and stayed in a hotel near the airport. Early start (3am alarm, eek) was fairly uneventful and we checked in and went to buy some currency (because dimwit here had forgotten to collect the euros I’d pre-ordered from the Post Office, d’oh!) I bought some bits from Boots (2 more travel plugs to ad to our growing – but missing – collection) and had a tasty breakfast with a cocktail to start an exciting and momentous trip. All was well, so with 20 minutes until the departure gate opened we had a browse in WH Smith to buy some magazines for the flight.

When we came to pay, we of course needed one of our boarding passes, which of course wasn’t a problem because they were safely in an envelope in my handbag alongside the passports. Except they weren’t. No boarding cards, no envelope and no passports. Cue frantic retracing of steps to the restaurant and boots (to no avail), heart in mouth and panic sweats. The husband, it must be pointed out, was taking things remarkably well (for him) and stayed fairly level headed and non-angry, despite the fact that the look in his eyes said otherwise. We raced back to security in the hope that someone had handed them in (as I reasonably pointed out, if you found some travel documents in an airport you’d have to be a total shit to throw them away) and THANK GOD a smiling security lady located them under a desk and gave them back to a calm-on-the-outside-frantic-on-the-inside me! I hadn’t even left them in the security tray after scanning though, no, they hadn’t even got that far. When I was putting my liquids in a bag, before the security check, I’d left the envelope on a shelf. An envelope which, with being shoved in and out of my bag on the journey so far, could easily have been mistaken for some tatty old rubbish,

Total muppet – it was almost a birthday to remember for all the wrong reasons…

Needless to say I wasn’t allowed to keep the passports for the rest of the trip, even though I’m usually Chief Security Officer; they remained securely in the husband’s inside pocket of his coat, and I was the butt of multiple jokes as a result!

I’m glad to report that the rest of the trip went by without incident. We arrived at Rome Fiumicino airport at around 10.30am, collected our luggage and headed out into the arrivals lounge where we were met by our pre-booked driver (I always try and do this, where possible, it saves lots of hassle and is usually cheaper than getting a cab at the airport, plus you get to feel a little bit like a famous person for a nanosecond!). The transfer to the city centre and our hotel took around 30 minutes, and the closer we got to the centre, the more evidence of Roman architecture started to appear; like random columns in the middle of modern buildings. That’s one of the things that surprised me about Rome, many of the tourist attractions are just in the middle of the working city, not on a dedicated site with a big wide open space around them. We stumbled on both the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain in this way; we turned a corner and there they were, in the middle of a piazza. It’s quite strange!

We arrived at our hotel – Antica Dimora dell Cinque Lune (I’ll review that in another post) – at around 11.30, which was too early to check in, but the receptionist was incredibly helpful and stored our luggage so we were free to set off and explore. We spent a few minutes getting our bearings, but knowing we were just steps from the River Tiber and the Palace of Justice meant we already knew where to head to if we were to get lost!

Spotting a number of hop on hop off bus tours on the main road alongside the river, we set off to find a bus stop, and by midday we were upstairs on a double decker, earphones firmly in place to listen to the commentary, and heading off on a 90 minute round trip of the city. We find that this kind of bus tour is a great way to see the highlights, get a feel for a city and an overview of what’s where, and then delve into the deeper sightseeing after that. On this occasion we used the Big Bus company, and paid 35 euros each for a 48 hour ticket, but other companies run within the city too (although your ticket is only valid for the bus company you buy it from).

As suspected, the bus tour was a great place to start. We went across the river, marvelling at the architecture of the city, winding through Via del Corso, the main shopping street, saw centuries old churches and buildings, detailed sculptures, statues and fountains, felt blown away by the magnificent sight of the colosseum at the bottom of a busy thoroughfare and imagined the site of the chariot racing on Circus Maximus.

Then we got off the bus where we’d started and stopped for lunch in a little bistro on the side of the road who did a lunch menu of bruschetta, choice of pizza or pasta and a glass of wine or beer for just 12 euros – not at all what we’d expected from reports of Rome being expensive. We sat outside on the terrace under a patio heater and it was just fabulous!

After checking into the hotel we headed out once more; this time over the river on foot and past Castel Sant’Angelo, with St Peters Basilica in our eye line. As our Vatican and St Peters visit was planned for the next day, we crossed across the River Tiber, meandered through tiny cobbled side streets, just soaking up how fabulous Rome is, declaring that we already loved the place and beaming with happiness.

 

Our hotel was just round the corner from Piazza Navona, which we’d read would have a Christmas market. It was all running remarkably late, setting up but not at all Christmassy, but the Fountain of Neptune and Fountain of the Four Rivers in front of the Santa Agnese in Agona church were beautiful to look at.

We found a beautiful bistro, covered in fairy lights with a rather gorgeous menu and decided we would head back there later that evening to eat, which we did – the most delicious medium rare steak wrapped in bacon with shaved truffles, accompanied by a bottle of chianti. Heading back to our hotel through Piazza Navona and past the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi it’s fair to say we were giddy with happiness and giddy with Rome.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and Santa Agnese in Agone church at night

Coming soon – day 2 at the Vatican Museums and St Peters Basilica.

Have you ever been to Rome? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading, x

0

Friday Feeling [25] – watch out for karma!

With all the bullshit political stuff going on in the US right now (and by that, I obviously mean Trump) it’s good to know that the American voting public don’t always get it wrong.

Virginia

Towards the end of last year, openly homophobic US State Official Robert Marshall was ousted from his position after 13 terms. Marshall had proudly called himself Virginia’s chief homophobe, and tried to introduce a bathroom bill which discriminated against transgender people by making them use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth, not that which they associate with now (you can read my thoughts on the logistics of that here).

Thanks then to that bitch karma; not only for ending his reign, but for replacing him with an openly transgender candidate. Yup, Marshall was beaten by Danica Roem, who was born male but transitioned to female. She has made history by becoming the first openly transgender elected and seated in a US state legislature.

Good work, Virginians!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

0

My morning routine

I don’t trust anyone that says they’re a morning person. How can you be? How is it possible? Mornings are a shock to the system. There you are all nicely cocooned in the safety of sleep, only to be rudely reminded that real life demands your attention.

Weekends are the exception, obvs. Weekend mornings are things of beauty, when you can take your time to come round and re-engage with humanity, maybe having a little snooze or some breakfast in bed. Unless you work weekends.

As a Monday to Friday employee, I have five uninterrupted days of mornings.

Throw having builders working on our home into the mix, and things get messed up a little! There’s the worry that they might turn up early while you’re still in your leopard print dressing gown (me, meeting our new decorator for the first time yesterday morning), your usual routine being cut short by said early arrival (me, putting my make up on at work instead of at home yesterday) the feeling that you need to get out of their way (even though it’s your house – also me yesterday), the upheaval of having to empty rooms meaning you can’t find things (husband, looking for a work shirt this morning).

Currently I try to fit in the previous night’s washing up so we don’t look totally skanky (I never get round to it the night before – I CAN NOT WAIT to have a dishwasher again!), boil eggs for breakfast, pack lunches and snacks for me and the husband (on a good day it’s soup – so easy! Otherwise it’s salad which is more time consuming), shower, choose an outfit (I’m not one of these organised people who plan the night before) and put on a bit of make up. Some days you can add in trying to find my keys or mobile phone, packing up an online shopping order for return, or changing my outfit at the last minute.

All while the husband is seemingly everywhere I want to be (in the shower, ironing in the bedroom, at the sink in the kitchen).

I genuinely don’t know how people with kids ever manage to get out of the door, ever!

On the plus side, all this activity means that we’re getting closer to our home being finished. We’re getting a front door tomorrow, after weeks of having a gaping hole in the front of the house, and I’m definitely more excited about this than I am about Christmas so far!

And my new kitchen gets started on Friday, which will give me a home for my new succulents (and pots and pans, plates and bowls, and cutlery).

Succulent plants

Of course, the end of the project will also mean a new morning routine, as we’ll be living on two levels for the first time in almost 12 years. It’s going to be strange…

Read about our house buying/converting/building journey here

Are you a morning person? Do you plan in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants like me?! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

0

Friday Feeling [23] – well done Australia, part 2

In case you needed proof that Australia did the right thing in voting for the legalisation of gay marriage this week, meet Arthur and John – aged 85 and 89.

Australia’s oldest gay couple to finally marry after 50 years

Together for 50 years, they’e apparently Australia’s oldest gay couple. They’ve no doubt been through homophobia, hatred and people not wanting to mix with them purely because of their sexual preference, but they’ve stuck together.

Why?

Love!

They’ll finally be able to recognise their love and commitment through marriage.

Read their story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Why fundraising for cancer charities is not fun

**DISCLAIMER – this post is not an attack on people who fundraise. I think they’re incredibly admirable and, without them, cancer charities would severely suffer**

I have a bee in my bonnet. It’s about the way fund raising for cancer charities is portrayed in the media.

Cancer

First of all, let’s take a step back. The fact that fundraising is necessary at all really grinds my gears. Kids baking cakes and women shaving their heads and men running marathons is all great stuff, but the fact that research and support for such a vile, in-discriminatory, debilitating, life changing killer disease like cancer has to be funded by the public is appalling. When you look at the amount of money that is spent on war, footballers wages and Hollywood films, and then see that cancer charities are asking for donations to continue life saving work; well, something doesn’t add up there. The same can be said for many charities. I work in the sight loss industry, and some blind people rely heavily on charities like RNIB and Guide Dogs to level the playing field with sighted people for a physical disability that isn’t their fault. But that’s another post.

So, cancer charities are very necessary and very worthwhile.

My problem is the way in which the media encourages people to get involved, in this whole fun, uplifting show of bravado that “together we’ll beat cancer.” My current bug bear is with Absolute Radio, who are promoting a comedy show to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The advert goes something along the lines of “we’re going to show cancer who’s boss – it’s us.”

It fucking well isn’t us at all. Statistically, the chances of being affected by cancer (that’s having it yourself or knowing someone who does) used to be 1 in 3. Now it’s that 1 in 2 people will get cancer. Not even be affected by it. Actually get it. I know a couple who both have cancer, now, at the same time. The guy has been told his is incurable, and while dealing with that, his wife got diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and has just started chemotherapy.

That isn’t us “bossing” cancer.

The radio adverts for Macmillan coffee mornings also pissed me off “oh I’ll have a slice of cake then, if it means beating cancer”. For fuck’s sake, stop trivialising it. These adverts, with their airy fairy-ness, don’t represent the gritty reality of people being unable to eat, sleep or walk because their body is being ravaged by tumours. They’re making cancer into a sociable excuse to get together or a reason to bake some cakes and make yummy noises.

I’m not saying the fundraising efforts, and the encouragement to make them happen, should stop. Of course it shouldn’t; it’s an integral part of treating what is a global problem. I’m just saying I wish the reasoning behind these efforts wasn’t delivered in such a fluffy, softly softly way. And I know that’s because I saw what my Dad went through after his cancer diagnosis, and because I watched him deteriorate mentally and physically up until his death. And it’s because I’m bitter that all the cancer research in the world couldn’t save him. And it’s because I’m cynical, and I actually believe that a cure for at least some cancers already exists. And it’s because I can’t believe governments won’t sanction the use of cannabis oil to help cancer patients, in spite of it’s proven palliative and sometimes curative effects.

But mainly it’s because cancer is one of the most serious and worst things many of us will ever have to face; either personally or by association. And giving it a fascia of having fun isn’t doing justice to how life changing and damaging it is.

Here’s an idea for a marketing campaign.

“Cancer is evil and deadly and we want to support people affected by it, which we can do with your donations. Please give generously, either personally or through sponsored events. Thanks”

Rant over.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Lies, damn lies and politics – Donald Trump is at it again

Donald Trump, 2016 election campaign: “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you…”

Donald Trump, July 2017: “…the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. [It] cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

I mean, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a politician told lies to get elected, but this is a pretty huge deal and a downright disgrace.

It’s difficult to tell, these days, whether Trump:

a) realises he’s out of his depth and is making wild decisions in the hope that he’ll get impeached

b) hates Obama so much that he’s just trying to repeal as much as possible that was passed under his Presidency

c) really is just an absolutely bonkers, narcissistic misogynist who hates anyone that isn’t like him, and belongs back in the dark ages

I could go on and on about why this is a bad decision. About how transgender people have as much right to serve in the military as people born in their correct gender. About how the training and selection process to get admitted to the military is so tough that what really counts is your physical and mental strength and resilience. About how I’m sure Trump wouldn’t care about the gender orientation of any member of the military were they protecting him from an assassination attempt (how come no-one’s tried that yet, by the way?)

I could point out that transgender people aren’t a burden to anyone; that the burden they carry is being born in the wrong body and that they’re more of a danger to themselves if they have to stay in that body, and more of an asset to society if they can be who they truly are. I could point out that anyone who has the heart and soul to defend their country and put their life on the line should be welcomed with open arms, regardless of what is or isn’t between their legs or on their birth certificate. I could point out that this is 2017 and America is supposed to be a progressive country, as well as being the land of the free.

But I won’t. Because most sane and rational people know that, right? And if you’re reading this blog you too must be a sane and rational person! 😉

I’ll just leave you with this, from Twitter, instead.

James Corden tweet

Which I thought was so brilliant in it’s delivery, as well as being so powerful coming from a celebrity with a lot of followers and therefore a degree of influence (not enough influence to topple the hairy tangerine, unfortunately).

Bravo James Corden, bravo. And a big fat raspberry to President Fart, followed up with a punch on the nose.

Transgender people – know that many of us in the world stand with you, and we admire your strength against adversity; today and everyday.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Friday Feeling [8] Muslims are people too

Following the horror of last week’s terror attack in Manchester and the humbling response by people in the City pulling together, I’ve been so uplifted by seeing Manchester and beyond showing strength and solidarity.

This story embodies it for me.

It’s a fairly long watch, but worth it. My eyes were squishy by the end and I felt proud of my fellow humans – whatever age, colour, or faith – showing this brave young man that we’re all in this together.

Just have a look.

We stand with you, Manchester.

Thanks, as always, for reading . x

 

0