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Posts Tagged ‘family’

What a joyous occasion. Today my daughter and son-in-law surprised me with a visit for an ultrasound of baby Peanut and as a treat the nurse let us listen to baby’s heartbeat. oh my gosh, I can tell you the tears flowed…..all 3 of us were sobbing.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

Ultrasound ❤

Listening to the heartbeat of a baby from the womb is a miraculous experience.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

It was awesome seeing baby’s little body appearing on the screen, just the size of either a lemon or a beet apparently, or perhaps a delicious custard pastry, if you prefer LOL according to the Ovia pregnancy app.

My daughter suggested the pregnancy apps which you can download (for free) and they are absolutely phenomenal. They contain so much information in small bite size (no pun intended) articles, from the size of the baby, to the Mother’s body changes, advice on nutrition and all the changes that are happening to the baby. I’ve loved reading up on baby’s progress. They even show you how big (or incredibly tiny) baby’s hands and feet are each week.

I’ve found it so fascinating reading up on all the changes and progress of the pregnancy and the images on some of the apps of what the baby looks like at each stage are just incredible.

So we’re at 14 weeks now and incredibly it’s already 10 weeks since I first learned that after a very long wait, I am to be a Granny 🙂 Bring it on!!! I can’t wait. Of course besides reading the apps, and now the sheer joy of having listened to baby’s heartbeat and seeing that tiny little body on the screen, we’ve been shopping like nobody’s business (keeping the economy afloat)

and of course I have been knitting like mad.

This is such an exciting and amazing and awesome time. We are all so over the moon and holding our breaths …….keep this baby safe. We can hardly wait to meet this little baby. Peanut is on the way  and I’m going to be a Granny 🙂

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Hot on the heels of remembering my Mother on what would have been her birthday, yesterday. “I wasn’t there that morning my father passed away“…….Today I’m reminded of my Father who died 2 years ago.

For many years, probably decades in fact, I had a really fractious relationship with my Father and as yet I find it difficult to mourn for someone that left home when I was just 5 years old and my little sister just 2.

Of course while growing up he was my idol, I adored him and cried many desperate tears when he left after a visit. But in time he moved on, remarried and then the visits became less frequent, birthdays missed and behaviour criticised. The first 8 years weren’t too bad, we saw him on holidays and due to 2nd his marriage acquired a new brother, the same age as me.

But as the years went by, the criticisms grew more frequent and the disappointment began to show, and so the relationship deteriorated. I grew up and wanted to get married, he refused to give me away and I never forgave him for that. He went on to have another son, divorced that wife and married again, having 2 new daughters.

He only ever wanted sons. I got that. But I never got that despite that he didn’t raise me, he still felt it was his place to criticise me and find fault. I spent many years trying to please my father, to no avail. When I was in my 30’s I was promoted to Regional Personnel and Admin Manager for a large Courier Company in South Africa with 5 branches countrywide and the Head Office…..his response “are you sure you can manage that?”. I gave up.

After that I didn’t seek his approval. Time moved on, we grew up, I got older and eventually I moved to the UK. A relationship that was tenuous at best, was further strained by distance. Years went by without any much contact and the last time I remember really talking to him was on my 60th birthday 2 years ago. That was such a surprise, but time, as time proved, was running out. There was to be no opportunity to repair the relationship. C’est la vie.

One of my favourite songs that I love listening to is ‘The Living Years’ by Mike & The Mechanics. I remember how, when I first heard this song, how much it resonated. It reminded me of the relationship I had with my father…or lack thereof.

And so the years go by and although a sense of regret lingers, I feel no pain and no loss, but I think of him every time I hear this song….That’s good. I hope.

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Since deciding to walk The Camino, I’ve read a wide range of blogs written by the vast array of people; both men and women of all ages that walk the different Camino routes – some blogs are documentary, some short, some long, many are very personal; walking the Camino and lessons learned.

different paths; different journeys

different paths; different journeys

I have learned a lot about how some folks behave on the pilgrim routes – which honestly has come as quite a surprise.

One of the most profound stories I’ve read so far relates to sunflowers;

It started when I really considered the sunflower plant. I often leave town in the early morning darkness. That’s when the sunflower has its head bowed low awaiting that first ray of sunlight. Then it perks up and turns its face toward the sun and absorbs sunlight and energy all day. Then, at evening, it again bows low and rests for the night. After a period of time, it starts to lose the beautiful yellow crown surrounding its seedy face. It becomes more difficult to raise its head toward the sun. At last, it dies. That is, the plant dies, but the seeds live on.

Another interesting blog I read, also spoke about sunflowers:

That is, I had never considered their significance until the life cycle of a sunflower was explained to me by a German opera singer named Anja.  As she explained it, just before sunflowers die, they give up their seeds from the brown part of the flower (the seed head).  Their last act, if you will, is to give of themselves to ensure that future sunflowers will grow in that area next season.

and continued with a story about keeping the peace; relating a situation with a man called Ted – a story I found to be both interesting and shocking. It described how this man would get drunk and behaved in a manner totally unacceptable in normal society, never mind on a pilgrims route; it never entered my head that people would behave like that on the Camino!!

What I found so interesting was how they both said the same thing: I had never considered.

Another fascinating journey that I am following on instagram is Walking for Peace. It’s been so interesting to follow Mony and Alberto and see the lessons they are learning; some of which have reduced me to tears, given me goosebumps. It’s marvellous that they are so aware of what is being learned. So often in life the lessons we are meant to learn present themselves again and again before we finally accept them.

Since I started my ‘journey’ and even though I haven’t yet walked even one step on ‘The Camino’, I feel as though my journey has already begun. I’ve been walking a lot (604.89 miles since 01/01/2017), practising with my backpack, feeling my way with how much I can or cannot cope with. I have enjoyed hours and hours of travelling, walking and exploration by myself. I am becoming more observant of my surroundings, something that would please my daughter who gets very frustrated with my usual lack of observation!! My usual answer when she says “did you see that Mom?” – and I’m like “What?” But it was right in front of you!!! LOL

I find that I am slowly learning how to ‘let go’, although that is still a really difficult and annoying part of my personality; replaying over and over and over in my mind after an incident that disturbs me: ‘I should have said this’ or ‘I should have done that’, the emotions of the moment churning and churning till I want to go mad.do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace - dalai lama xiv

I am beginning to believe that this churning incidents over and over in my mind relates very much to my childhood, a long period of time when I found myself in bad situations, times when I felt completely helpless, unable to verbalise my fears, afraid of what might happen if I did speak up.

I’ve noticed a common thread among these pilgrim stories; the real Camino begins once a peregrino returns home.

And as my journey draws nearer, I do muse on what lessons The Camino will hold for me. It has certainly consumed pretty much my every waking thought in the meantime.

walking the camino and lessons learned

the many paths in life we get to choose…..

Do join me on my journey as I prepare for what is the 2nd most important journey of my life. Follow along on instagram as I travel around the country, working, walking, learning and discovering more about myself and the country I now call home.

Buen Camino.

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2016 was indeed a very weird year. For some it was marred by tragedy, for some it will be remembered with love. We all watched in horror as the tragedies in Syria unfolded, many sobbed at the deaths of favoured pop stars, actors, musicians and the like, either cheered or reacted with fury at the result of Brexit, and millions watched amazed and not without trepidation as America elected Trump as their next president (I use the diminutive ‘p’ deliberately). So much has happened in 2016 it seems that it was a year of extremes.

For me personally it was a year of highs and more highs, of love and laughter and a few tears. These were the highlights of my 2016

January:

goodbye 2016

January 2016

My daughter and I saw in 2016 at the London Eye and then went for waffles and cream at Caffe Concerto in London

Saw the amazing Les Lumineoles in London

February:

goodbye 2016

February 2016

I got my citizenship – my daughter attended the ceremony with me at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone.

Managed my very first ‘proper’ #selfie LOL

Got arty with my photography

March:

goodbye 2016

March 2016

My daughter treated me for Mother’s Day with a journey on the British Pullman Orient Express.

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe – my Mothers Day treat

Squeezed in a visit to my favourite palace; Hampton Court while in Thames Ditton

Bumped into my sister and Yoda at Trafalgar Square in London

I received my very first British Passport.

My daughter bought her first UK car

April:

goodbye 2016

April 2016

I travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and got to see the White Cliffs of Dover for real

I went to Windsor to see the Queen for her 90th birthday walkabout

goodbye 2016

April 2016 Happy 90th Birthday Queen Elizabeth II

My daughter and I went to Paris for a day to celebrate both my birthday and my citizenship

I celebrated my birthday at Dover Castle and St George & his dragon

goodbye 2016

St George & the dragon 23 April

May:

goodbye 2016

May 2016

I spent 2 weeks in South Africa visiting family and preparing to send my possessions to the UK.

I got to meet my nephew and niece for the first time.

Started my Camino 2016 practice walks

June:

goodbye 2016

June 2016

I went to Trooping the Colour for the 6th year in a row – London in summer is gorgeous

I walked my first 28 km stint from Broadstairs to Sandwich (45279 steps!!)

July:

goodbye 2016

July 2016

An early and first visit to Bath to celebrate my daughter’s birthday

I saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol – finally!!!

I visited my lovely friend Valy in Brussels and visited Antwerp

August:

goodbye 2016

August 2016

Visited Dover Castle to watch the 1216 Siege re-enactment

Spent the day in Canterbury with my daughter to celebrate her birthday

September:

goodbye 2016

September 2016

My daughter and I did our first geocaching treasure hunt.

I watched the annual Great River Race in London – my friends of the Trinity Tide won in their category again 🙂

I watched the wooden replica of City of London burn  at the 350th Anniversary event

goodbye 2016

04.09.2016 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London 1666

My first visit to Great Malvern in Worcestershire – added another county to my list

Spent the day in London and went up The Shard with my daughter and my sister

October:

goodbye 2016

October 2016

Spent a few days in Rye with my sister for her birthday and went to Hastings

Watched the cheeky Russian Navy sail their warship through our waters…

November:

goodbye 2016

November 2016

Went to my lovely friend; Lucy’s wedding – she married her sweetheart Tom

Visited Gravesend in Kent at last

My first visit to Lancashire – and added another county to my list

Reached the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills

goodbye 2016

November 2016 – climbed the Worcestershire Beacon

December:

goodbye 2016

December 2016 – Worcester

Visited Worcester and the fabulous cathedral

Climbed to Worcestershire Beacon again

My daughter and her boyfriend got engaged at Tower of London – he asked me to be his Best Man for the South African ceremony 🙂

goodbye 2016

Cémanthe & Simon – engaged to be married in 2018

Celebrated an early Christmas with my daughter and her now fiancé Simon

goodbye 2016

2016 our first Christmas with Simon, first of many more

And along the way I watched hundreds of sunrises and a few sunsets, travelled far and wide and visited quite a few new places.

goodbye 2016

2016 sunrise and sunset around the country

I started my Camino practice walks that changed from 2016 to 2017 ;).

 

UPS lost my hard-drive with 10 years worth of my photos, memories and incalculable information (bastards). I finally upgraded my phone and made great strides in figuring out how to do stuff on the internet on my own.

goodbye 2016

2016 – some of the books I’ve read and 2 of my Camino practice walks

My daughter and I had many amazing mini adventures,

goodbye 2016

2016 mini adventures with my daughter

enjoyed numerous cream teas, I read a number of terrific books, watched The Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament and on Christmas Day.

goodbye 2016

2016 treats and the Queen

I’m no richer, no poorer, not thinner or fatter…my hair has grown down past my shoulder again and I have spent innumerable hours of fun and laughter with my daughter.

This is my last blog for 2016.

It’s been a good year all in all; goodbye 2016….see you soon 2017!!!

Happy New Year

 

 

 

 

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My sister Sioux came to live and work in the UK last year in November. The time has flown and she has travelled far and wide in the last 11 months. This is her birthday month (I won’t give her age away 😉 ), but it is her 1st birthday in the UK. She decided some months ago that she wanted to visit somewhere special for her birthday; initially a trip to the Isle of Wight was planned….but after seeing an article on Rye – Mermaid Street in particular, she decided that this was where she wanted to go.

a trip to 1066 country

Mermaid Street in Rye

And so the plans were made.

I was to join her and so that we could make the most of the trip and explore the area, my daughter lent me her car; Fiona. With 4 days and a car, we made the most of every minute.

a trip to 1066 country

Sisters – happy birthday to you; Sioux. I’m delighted I could join you 🙂

a trip to 1066 country

a day trip to Hastings

a trip to 1066 country

a day in Rye

day-4

making the most of our last day

We visited churches, explored castles, admired some amazing views, ate good food, played scrabble, photographed just about every house in Rye, watched the sunrise and the sunset,

a trip to 1066 country

sunset at Dungeness – the ends of the earth

laughed and exchanged stories, and watched the footie in a pub LOL (she’s a Liverpool supporter!).

This is the first time in 58 years that we have been on holiday together without parents, step-parents, siblings, family or children……just the two of us. We had a great time 🙂

Happy birthday Sioux!Happy birthday Sioux!

 

 

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It was a very sad day, the day I learned that the woman I liked to call my ‘mother-in-law’ had passed away.

September 3rd to be exact she finally slipped away after a short illness and a battle well fought; she was a remarkably strong woman in both spirit and body and despite being on death’s door with pneumonia she rallied round and went home….albeit not for long and just on 2 weeks ago at the regal age of 93 she gave up the good fight and left this world for another realm.

Dixie was her nickname, her real name was Alexandra Ethelwhyne, and a sweeter, lovelier, funnier, quirky, more cheeky, naughty, kind and delightful person you would go far to find.  I met Dixie very briefly…once in 1979 when I was dating my daughter’s father.  For one reason and another, of which I shall not go into detail I didn’t get to see her again till 1995 when at the age of 15 my daughter said that she would like to meet her own father…..the son of Dixie.

When we did meet again, I found her to be everything I could have wanted in a mother-in-law and although technically she wasn’t, she and I both delighted in that I referred to her as that and she called me her daughter-in-law.  She was also a friend and a confidant and in the few times we met and spent time together we always had a good laugh and a chuckle exchanging tales and stories of the past.

Sadly those times became less frequent once I left South Africa and came to live in the UK, but we kept in touch via old-fashioned letters for as long as she could still write and phone calls for as long as she could still hear me…..16,000 km’s is a long way away when you are going deaf and let’s face it mobile phones are not really conducive to a good conversation.  I did take to sending ‘postcards from London’ but I fear that not all of them got through and they could only contain scant information anyway.  I recall how she always said how much she would like to go to London and we plotted and planned for her to come visit but in reality we both knew that was a dream unlikely to be fulfilled as she was very frail and it’s unlikely at her age that she would have enjoyed the trip.  But she loved that we, my daughter and I lived here and when we visited South Africa she relished my stories of London and the things we, my daughter and I got up to.

Dixie was an incorrigible flirt, she adored dancing and would use any excuse to get up and dance the night away. She laughed frequently, smiled a lot and loved nothing more than a good gossip.  Whenever we stayed with her and her partner, the wonderful Alan who sadly passed away about 3 years ago, we would always sit around and drink copious cups of tea and chatter away like two little brown hens… or is that white hens?

She had the most twinkly blue eyes that sparkled with mischief and it was really sad to watch the sparkle slip away as she slipped further and further into the confusing and often frightening world of dementia.   But for all that, she never lost her bright sunny nature, and you would always see her sitting with a smile ready for a wee chat or mischief, and even though we knew she didn’t really, she always said yes, she remembered who we were.

I will always remember Dixie as being one of God’s angels on earth and I know for sure that if there is a heaven, then for sure she is up there dancing and keeping them entertained with her wonderful stories, her delightful, sweet smiles and laughter……they will all find it hard to resist her cheeky flirtations.

Dixie

Dixie

Goodbye darling Dixie, I know with absolute certainty that you will be dearly missed here on earth and the wonderful legacy of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will carry a little of you with them in their hearts and genes! 😉  You know what I mean!

Rest well sweet lady, we will always remember you with fondness and deepest love.

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Today I met up with my younger brother and sister-in-law K&T, who were in transit to Hungary (where they live) from (South Africa where his and my family live) after spending a few weeks in SA on holiday.

We met up at a wee pub at London Bridge station and enjoyed a cuppa and a nibble.  I have not seen them for some years now and again I am amazed at how the time flies.  It never really seems like a long time because we communicate via facebook and email, so you are more or less aware of whats happening in their lives (family & friends), so when you meet it feels like only yesterday you last met up!

We chatted about various things; like what I am up to in London and what they are up to in Hungary and then my brother gave me a ‘Dr Who’ type jolt back into the past…..and I am talking distant past here!!! (you know you are getting old when you talk about things that happened decades ago!)  We have a pretty muddled family with loads of marriages and remarriages which brought with them half brothers and half sisters as well as step sisters and step brothers! One would like to think it was one big happy family…..

The jolt came in the form of some photos!  As he said, how on earth they came to be in his possession is a total mystery, the reasons for that being way too long to explain, suffice to say the photos were of one branch of the family whereas he is from another (it is as complicated as it sounds).

Anyhow to get to the point (sorry I do tend to waffle)……amongst the photos he showed me, were some photos of when I was a wee girl of 11 years old! My god! Did that ever bring back a flood of memories.  In the photos are me (11yrs), my younger sister (8yrs), my cousin (12yrs), my stepsister (10yrs) from my mother’s 2nd husband and my baby half-sister (approx 9/10months) from that same marriage.

I was absolutely flabergasted and it was a real trip down memory lane to see us all……5 little girls looking so happy and sweet in the photo with not a clue as to the future………..and what a good thing that was too.  Anyhow here is the photo.

from left to right: Felicity (step-sister), at the back Yvonne (cousin) on her lap my baby sister (Jo-anne), me in pink and then Susan (my only full sister)

what I do find most amusing about this photo are the cars in the background. Did they really look like that! how bizarre. What struck me too is how very sixties my outfit is and even at the tender age of 11years old I was already crossing my legs….a most annoying habit and one that has done me no favours!   What is also quite funny is the look on my sister Susan’s face….the wee blondie on the right…..she is in a dress!!!! Heaven forbid….she hated wearing dresses and my mother used to make her wear them…coz after all she is a girl.  hahahaha. Now….if you want to get her into a dress you would have to drug her! 🙂

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