Saturday, 28 June 2014


I am finding being jobless really disconcerting. For so long now I have been run off my feet, on call all day to a huge number of people, both staff and patients and have had to make decisions and plans and negotiate and placate. I loved it, most of the time, but the thought of being at home for a while was just bliss. And now I find I am flat, down even. I have not 'done' much, which is a biggie for me. I have worked one day this week, been around for the plumber, dog walked, crocheted, washed and ironed, cleaned, been out for coffee and lunch and had a friend and her son over twice, once for dinner, complete with a fire and marshmallows afterwards in the garden. Em and I have done a nature ramble and today I cleared out my wardrobe and took a ton of things to the charity shop. I was ruthless, and am a wee bit scared to think that not much is left in there!
I ran it by my sister and another friend about how odd it feels and they both told me it takes time to adjust to a different pace and to establish a routine. A massage was suggested and that I will arrange as Big J bought me one a while ago which has yet to be used. 
In the meantime, the bedroom needs a last little tidy. At least there is something to show for all the time off. 
And while I sit and listen to the very welcome rain, Tom's blanket is calling from the corner of the room saying 'finish me, you've only got 2 weeks to go' ....

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Yarndale Mandala

This is my mandala for Yarndale....Australia, the red centre, the oranges and pinks of the desert, the yellows of the wheat crops, the pale greens of suburbia, the dark greens of the rain forest, the white of the surf, the deep blue of the sea and the light bright blue of the sky.
To be glued and stiffened in the morning before being sent off to Yorkshire. 

Man at work

We are having our leaky shower fixed and a new loo put in. The cistern on the old one is hanging by a thread and it is a dodgy old thing. I whizzed over to Homebase this morning and managed to get the loo for half price and tiles for the floor greatly reduced and doubled my nectar points as well - so felt good. 

The banging is a pain but it will be worth it.

Last night was Book Club where we drank talked a lot, even occasionally about the book, which was The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Lovely story. 

Today I am in Limbo a bit. I want to blitz but the stairs and landing are covered in dust sheets and I am keeping away from upstairs completely. 

I have been looking at holidays for Big J and me, some blogs, been doing bursary applications and chasing HR about working some hours as a health care assistant, have planted up some of my lovely new geraniums at the front door, been blood pressured and pee tested (all good), and managed finally to get a photo of Hannah's blanket out on the patio....
Loving the border. This was another clever idea from Lucy at Attic24
The colours are still too pale for me but it feels awesome, soft but heavy at the same time. Should keep her warm up north! 
I think some crochet time is called for. I want to make a Mandala for Yarndale and mine is going to be AUSTRALIA inspired, I want it to be called The Red Centre. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Pussy Cat Ta Dah, two departures and The Band

The post I wrote up last night has gone awol. Annoying because it took time and I was loving the moment of recapturing all that happened yesterday.

Still for any readers it is probably a blessing as this version is likely to be shorter!!

We had two departures yesterday. One in the morning from Heathrow which meant an early start. Hannah flew to Japan for a month. As I leave for Oz before she comes back we will not see each other until August. This is the longest time apart we have had, and they will just keep getting longer. It makes me so sad, but it is all about new steps in her life. 
Big J then flew to South Africa for a week on business. That leaves Em and I at home alone with Juno and Bosley. We plan a healthy eating week with some exercise and in fact I am having a detox tea for breaky instead of my usual fluffy coffee....mmmmm..not quite the same!

After a late gig on Saturday night two of the band camped here as logistics dictated it was more sensible than driving home to have to return for a local gig tomorrow. They did not go to bed all night and sat like two owls in the conservatory - wide eyed and unbeknownst to me, very drunk. They 'found' a bottle of something and drank it. Like you do....refusing all offers of food and coffee at breakfast they did eventually pass out only to be woken later with some loud death metal by the remaining sober band members who turned up to make sure all was well. Lovely. I could not let them leave home in that state so threw together a massive dish of vegetable pasta bake, garlic bread and some jalepeno and cheese ciabatta we had. It worked, they perked up no end. 
I get the band thing, I really do. I have seen them play many times and watched them morph from youths with passion to young men with passion about their music.  But when they are off the stage and at home, it means more to me. They hang out with the dog, talk to the girls and are great fun. One was telling me about a reccent to trip to Oz and I asked him what he was doing out there. He told me his uncle's band was playing in Sydney and Perth so he went along.....his uncle is in Simple Minds....I knew that!! 

In the midst of all this there was ironing done, a trip to a boot fair and some more crochet time.
This is Rosie - my take on the wonderful tutorial by Janette at The Green Dragonfly. The tutorial is excellent and most of Rosie took shape on the trip to Yorkshire. I love to crochet in the car when I it's not my turn to drive on the motorway! 

I do not have Janette's gift for embellishing and my embroidery skills are rubbish so after hacking off the insipid nose I first made, this is the new version which is pretty pleasing. I made a magic ring and did three double crochet into it before pulling it closed then using the starting and finishing yarns for her mouth. I have made (not finished)  three little kittens for Rosie to mother and they are all going with me to Australia for my niece, Ava. Pics to follow. 

A version of this has taken shape too. Herdy. It is a fat blue lamb for Thomas, my nephew. I do feel a bit like it is cheating to make something so similar, is it? You can judge for yourselves when he gets his legs....

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Le Tour, le road trip

We dropped Em off at Keele uni on Monday and headed to YORKSHIRE and guess what?  There's going to be a bike race in fact it is Le Tour....The whole place is streaming with yellow, green and red polka dot bunting, little knitted jersey bunting and yellow bicycles.

There was even a spotty pub and this pretty non Le Tour, but sweet anyway, bike in Haworth.

It was fantastic. The work and effort that has gone into preparing for this huge international race by local communities is wonderful. Our route took us along the planned Tour roads, unwittingly, but we were delighted.
We had two nights in York. A first for me. Loved it. The Minster, the Shambles, the Yarn Shop, the Cocoa House, so much to see and do. We walked miles. We also went on a ghost hunt...
We went to Scarborough too and had fish and chips and walked on the north beach. There are so many beach huts.
We then headed for the moors, and to Bolton Abbey where we stayed another night. The countryside is breathtaking, so much so we just stopped at the side of the road at one point to take it all in. No photo can capture the image the way we see it with the naked eye. It is more than sight, it is the wind, the sun, the sheep bleating all the senses really.

We chatted to the sheep, both trying out baaaas and bleats.....this one obviously understood! I think I speak sheep better than Big J does!
We stayed in a nice place. A very nice place. It had TWO helipads and this sign....LOL.

I usually don't eat anything with sugar in it (that I am aware of and I am selective) but we went here:

Bullets where I come from, but apparently Torpedoes here. Anyway, there are none left now!
It was great. And what ended it so perfectly was that Em loved her course and made new friends and came back exhausted.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Slow start

I planned to throw myself into my new unemployed status with gusto. There is so much to do:
- Blitz the house from top to bottom and in the process cull more things. (The dining room is looking so streamlined now that the dresser I painted is finished....jugs and vases missing to hold my flowers!). 
- Some sewing, gardening and lots of exercise on top of running the house like a domestic goddess and having meals frozen for those busy evenings when there is no time to cook. HA!
- Finish the ripple blanket - literally a row and a half on the border to go...
- Finish little Tom's blanket before I go to Australia... but 
since Friday when I had my shattered tooth extracted and then went out to celebrate, (the dentist told me that this would be fine, and it was at the time), I have been in constant pain and cannot eat. 
The rest of the family have been struck by a tummy bug and have taken to their beds on and off over the last 48 hours. Fortunately they have rallied this evening and we are all starving.....good sign! 

Em goes off to Keele Uni tomorrow to do a short course in environmental sciences - so today we I have been ironing and itemising her stuff. She is nervous and needs lots of support. She is also excited. Big J and I are driving her up there and then pinging off into Yorkshire to have a poke around. We will collect her on our way back on Thursday. 
Hannah is pet-sitting and readying for her trip to Japan next weekend to see her dad and grandparents....
The cobwebs in the stair-well will just have to dangle there a little longer. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Carry on Matron

The wonderful girls from the hospital have given me a stethoscope in a lovely teal colour!! My favourite. In a noisy pub where we gathered last night I tried it out. No one had a heartbeat, at least not in my ears... the pub was noisy with all of us and the football on to be fair! (Luckily Hannah has healthy heart which I clearly heard this morning). They had it engraved with the words 'Carry on Matron' no other student will have one like it. 
Very excited and proud. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Burrito? ripple blanket - semi Ta Dah!

Here is Hannah modelling(?) burrito style her ripple blanket. On the 12th May it looked like this and today, 12th of June it looks like this:

It is done, at least in terms of rows and now comes the sewing in of ends and the border. It strikes me that borders on ripple blankets just make them look so much better, but all the ripples I have known did not have one....

This is the first day of not being at work. The window cleaner has been, I have been deadheading geraniums, (I have gone totally granny McClintock (maternal granny) about geraniums. They are potted up all around the patio and Nancy gave me some lovely dark leaved pink ones to add to the collection). Lots of admin done too and dinner defrosting. 

It was a lovely send off, loads of flowers....and some tears (from me).

Can you see the dresser behind these lovely lillies?...all painted and fresh and FINISHED with some Polish pottery on it. 
Feeling good. x

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Little catch up

A sunny Sunday and the washing has been on the line since six am!! Today is for the garden, the house, a barbie with family and a friend.
Yesterday we walked on Ashdown Forest with the dog and Nancy and followed that with a fantastic meal at the Coach and Horses in their sunny garden. 

I was looking over photos of last weekend and have these to show you. 

Dolphins were seen just off the lighthouse on the day this was taken. It is such a lovely area. We walk on the beach every day when we are up north. We met friends in the Rendez Vous cafe beside the beach for tea one afternoon. One, in his 70s, used to line up at the window of the cafe for icecream when he was a small boy...nothing has changed, kids still line up at the window now. 

Hannah's ripple is HUGE and only about 20 cm off its final length. Then there will be the sewing in of ends and the border. But I am so very happy with the CONSTANCY of my work. When I charge up the camera batteries I will post a photo. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Latest works

My Artist Sister has been hobbled by surgery, literally, for weeks. Unable to walk she has been working. I get such a thrill when I see her work. Please have a look. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Transnational families

We are a transnational family. I left home at the age of 9 to go to boarding school. My parents were in Nigeria, I went to Belfast. It was at the beginning of the troubles. We heard bombs go off at night from our beds and were evacuated twice. But that is another story. Home for me has always been the place my parents live. They moved around in Nigeria and then went to Belfast, New Guinea, (just have to mention that at the hospital in SUSSEX, I work with the former Head Girl of Sogeri National High School - how small is the world really??), the Arnhem Land, Batchelor and finally Darwin in Australia. At the age of 12 I was in boarding school in Toowoomba. We flew home to PNG for the big holidays and spent the short ones with friends and their families. 
When I left 'home' (Australia) to go to Japan, where my parents were/are, remained home to me. I had a family of my own and we had our own house, but the definitions are different. In Japanese they have a word, furusato, the place where one originates from. It actually means a geographic location, but mine is where my parents are. 
Big J tells me I am at home now, he is right, this is my home, but in my heart there is also another one. 
They are not mutually exclusive.
Today Princess Hannah and I participated in a formal talk about transitional families and how they maintain contact with those left behind. With us was Imre, a lovely Hungarian. Hannah left her Dad and grandparents. It was not her choice. It was in parts a painful discussion for her. It distresses me to think MY decisions hurt my girls, but NOT deciding what we did would have also
hurt Adam and Big J. 
Transnational families are on the increase and we are lucky now that we have the web, Skype, Face time and Facebook. It means we can keep in closer, more frequent contact. It might also mean that we take for granted more our distant families if they are so easily contactable. 
It is not easy at times being transnational, but then it is not easy at times being any sort of family.....

Monday, 2 June 2014

Life is for living

My mother in law is 81. This weekend she jumped out of a plane for charity. She raised about £6000.
It was a tandem jump...
this is the Top Gun moment as they head towards the plane...
After about 15 minutes of climbing into the sky, they jumped. 
Nancy waves at her anxious but proud family and friends. Note the man carrying all the 'chutes!
Nancy and her two young jumping partners chew the fat on the way back. Veterans and very brave women.