Monday, 7 December 2009


Its been a good few weeks since I last posted (well months if I'm honest), but life has changed dramatically for us all in the past 6 weeks. This has not been an easy post to write, and I dearly wish it will not unduly upset anyone who reads it.

I took this picture on my daughters 6th Birthday, Hope is her middle name (& it would have been her first, had the pesky husband not intervened). Hope, because after a tottering old time of it with her brother, I had hoped that my second child would allow me to hope that I was a good mum, and that this time I would enjoy my baby.

However the word hope has been even more pertinent to me in the past few weeks since.

6 weeks ago I sat with my mother-in-law whilst the GP gently told her that she had multiple secondary spreads of cancer in her liver, and that even when they found the original site, treatment would only be palliative.

My feisty 75 year old, 5"2 pocket rocket of a mum, who line danced, rambled, swam & yoga'd her way through the week. My mum who claimed looking after my two little people twice a week kept her young.

Her decline and death last Wednesday morning, was rapid & a huge shock for us all, we are still feeling the full force of what we have faced. But all through the past few weeks I have hoped that she would not suffer, hoped that we would draw strength as a family, hoped that I could be strong to support my husband and children.

The nature of my job has often meant that the children have had open and honest discussion about cancer and about death. I think this has helped in their understanding of what has happened to Grandma. For the 9 year old, Cancer has been explained as a gang of cells misbehaving & not doing what they have been told to do, a bit like teenagers, they have gone where they shouldn't & done what they have been told not to do (Yep, my 9 year old thinks that teenagers are rebels....)

I am so hugely proud of my children - at 6 & 9 they have shown an emotional intelligence that I had not expected, dealing with Grandma's rapidly declining health with amazing sensitivity, yet with a natural approach to it fitting in with daily life.

She died at home, as she had hoped to do, on as ever, her own terms. The hospice and district nursing teams provided the support and care I had only hoped for.

I hoped she would not die on her birthday (or mine), instead it was in between our special days. (I have to admit not knowing whether to put my birthday cards next to the sympathy cards - surely 38 yrs old isn't that bad?!)

I hope that this week that my mum's funeral & cremation is not to distressing for my husband, and most of my little people who wanted to attend, and I hope that I have prepared them well.

I draw strength from knowing that I did all I could to help her, and that I was blessed to have the last conversation with her, to tell her how much I loved her & to thank her for all she had done for me, before she fell into a deep pain free sleep. I have been touched from the kind words & cards of support from the most unexpected people.

I hope that time will be a healer, and that we can gather the memories of her with hope in our hearts that whilst much loved and missed, she will always be with us.

I hope that in the new year we can settle into a new routine of childcare without to much stress for the little ones. I hope that I can settle my mind, so I can go back to work able to do my job well. That a sense of normality will resume.

And finally-

Thankyou for all the lovely posts I have been able to dip & read, to be able to share in the warmth and pleasures of day to day life. It has helped so very much.

Love Lydia xx

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Flowers, Coffee & Clutter Bunnies.

I have decided that I really neeeed to get the house in control, so with G in America for 2 weeks, I have commenced on a huuuge life laundry session. I like things to have a home, I admit I am the IKEA ad man's dream shopper.

Tidiness = Organised = Control - Or at least I am hoping this theory (Theory N.1) works.

Cupboard's have been emptied & there is clutter everywhere (Theory N.2 - sometimes you have to make a mess to get tidy).

I am wrestling with those clutter bunnies like there is no tomorrow.

I've been ruthless & bagged for the recycling centre, charity shops & clothes collections.

Coursework has been put in the paper bank - although I have kept my dissertation as homage to the feeling that I had given birth to it (yes, it was that bad!)

It's going to take a few more weeks to get the house presentable, but with the evenings drawing in, I hope I will be more disciplined.

In the meantime rather than show you my shame, and blog a picture of the spare room - the main culprit in the war against the clutter bunnies - I thought I'd show you Friday's flowers, Asters.

And a pop in a blatant plug....

For Macmillan Cancer Support's Worlds' Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday.

So you don't think I'm plugging for my wages, I should let you know, that whilst I carry the Macmillan title, and am associated with the organisation, I am actually paid by the hospice I work for. Macmillan support me in my job through education & training. However Macmillan isn't just about nurses.....

They are about people, families, carers, living well with cancer.

I never realised just how much this organisation does, until I moved from my old job, into this new post. It has a huge voice (for a charity) in the politcal setting .

But for me, the biggest help in my day to day work, is with finances. From providing of Macmillan benefit advisers (these people really know how to ensure that people get the financial help they are entitled to), to providing one off grants that can allow a family holiday, buy new clothes for someone who has lost a lot of weight, or help break the debt cycle.

So if on Friday, you get the chance of a cup of coffee, please do support. It all helps to make a difference.

Love Lydia xx

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Organisation - A Dirty Word

This September I vowed that I would be a truly organised mummy.

No more phone calls from G asking if I'd remembered it was Harvest Festival, after he'd dropped Little Miss off at school (er, no - because, if I had, then I would have sent in the food goodies). No more handing in trip money at the 11th hour, or forgetting the PE bag....

No, this year I will be soooo in control.

Monday September 7th. Little Misses Red Primary School uniform was laid out ready for her first day. Lunch box & PE bag all organised.

8yr old planning his day at Grandma's - due to his inset day.

Me all content and in control.

G looks out of the window & comments about the neighbours daughter looking all smart in her uniform. I sneak a peak. She looks delightful in her Navy Junior School uniform

Slowly the penny drops.

My heart stops.

I have got the wrong child ready for school.

He has 10 minutes to be at school. No PE Bag ready, no lunch box, & no breakfast (he was on a promise of breakfast at Grandma's).

There were tears - him because he really doesn't like school at the moment, her because she does.

There was stress - me.

There was a quite husband - very wise move.

We managed it though, the 8 year old, by some miracle arrived at school, on time, fed, but no PE bag. The 5 year unceremoniously dumped at Grandma's (I was truly late for work by this time).

I arrived at work & explained and explained why I was late. Did I get sympathy? Lord no! My fellow Mac's were in stitches laughing at me, as much as I was laughing at myself for being such a noodle.

Whilst I wouldn't want to repeat the episode again, my 'organisation' has brought laughter to my patients, when we share our day to day stories, allowing humour to connect us.

Oh Well - Off to try & get organised (Again)

Love Lydia xx

ps - It cost me a Transformer though....

Monday, 31 August 2009

Northumberland - A new love affair has begun

Sometimes things seem to happen for a reason.

Back in February when I was in my previous job, I found that I would not be allowed 2 weeks holiday together due to the staffing levels & G's travels. This meant that we would not be able to have 2 weeks in Cornwall, as we usually do without incurring long drives.

We settled on Northumberland, having heard from several people how beautiful it is and it is a mere 3 1/2 hours drive from us (well it is if you drive like my husband....)

So last week was spent discovering some of the delights this beautiful place holds.

There were rock pools galore....

And wide expanses of golden beaches, that felt almost deserted, set under rolling skies.

We stayed in Beadnell - and this is the house that always caught my eye as we set out for a days exploring - How I would love to live in something like this....

The children paddled on Beadnell Beach....

Watched the tractor at work, taking out and bringing in the boats....

And there were lots of them too ....

On the harbour front at Beadnell, the Lime Kilns are still present, and were excitedly inspected closely by the little people.

We took a boat ride out to the Farne Islands - choosing the boat company mainly because of its pretty signage....

To everyones delight we saw the seals - and they didn't seem to perturbed by the 8 year olds squeals of excitement. Unfortunately we were to late in the year to see the puffin colonies.
(If you open the picture you can get a better view of them, if not peer closely & they are the squidgy things in the front of the bottom left!)

We also saw Longstone lighthouse, in which Grace Darling & her father lived in the 1830's. It was from her bedroom window - in the white stripe - that she looked out and saw a boat in distress apon the rocks, and she & her dad carried out one of the most famous maritime rescues in this country saving 9 lives. At the age of 23.

After all that hard work sailing - tea just had to be fish & chips by the bustling harbour at Seahouses....

We visited Alnwick twice.

Once to see Barter Books, one of the biggest second hand bookshops in the country, set in an old railway station....

It had a huge mural in the wall, a raised train track running across the tops of the bookshelves....

And books galore....

We finished our morning off, having a lovely lunch in the old waiting room, very tasty & reasonably priced.

Late afternoon was spent on the beach - whilst not overly sunny, it was still warm enough for the little people to get togged up & burn off some energy....

Alnwick is most famous for its Castle - where some of the Harry Potter films are shot. It is also becoming known for its gardens, however heavy rain did stop us from being able to explore fully, and I didn't take as many pictures I would have liked because of it.

We did however have lunch in the Tree House - one of the largest in the world, I felt like I was entering a fairy tale

Not cheap, but it was a real treat to sit high up in thease huuuge wooden chairs,

Surrounded by branches light with fairy lights. It felt like the most magical place to eat in.

Afterwards we wandered round the rest of the tree house, exploring the views, and walking the rope bridges, before heading up to the castle....

One of the things that I really enjoy when walking around historic buildings, is eavesdropping on what tour guides/ volunteers have to say. Fascinating stuff, full of anecdotal stories, not always found in the guide books. For example I learnt that when the Prince & Princess of Wales cane to stay in Northumberland in 1884, they opted to stay at Cragside, with the (not yet Lord) Armstrong's, rather than at Alnwick with the Duke of Northumberland. Why?- because Lord Armstrong had fitted hydro-electricity into his house, and had electric lamps & central heating.

This in turn spurred the Northumberlands to follow suite, after all, they couldn't be outdone by new money! The light fittings externally were pretty impressive too....

There was plenty to hold the little peoples attention, from dressing up as a princess and brass rubbing....

To being a brave night & checking out a dragons dental work....

We also came across the castle cat....

I've already mentioned Lord Armstrong & it was on another very wet day that we went to see his house at Cragside (Unfortunately no photo's as it was so wet, & no photo's from inside either, as it is a NT property) It was beautiful, and there were delightful examples of William Morris wall papers and Victorian/Edwardian decoration.

However we did go & see his other property - Bamburgh Castle which he purchased in the 1890's and extensively renovated.

Having read this I an tempted to put a picture up of Lord Armstrong in the Laundry Room - Just to remind me that modern day housework is not the drudge it could have been, due this mans inventiveness.....

And of course - a castle would be amiss without a cannon to fire!

Or a stunning view to admire (see, a photo with the sun shining!)

Our final big trip was to the Holy Islands to see Lindisfarne Abbey. Arriving later in the day, there was no time to go to both Castle and Abbey....

We strolled along the harbour side, admiring recycling at its best, before taking a coastal walk to the Abbey, avoiding most of the hustle & bustle of fellow sight seer's....

It was quite simply beautiful in all its destruction.

Then we drove back, across the flats before the tide came in....

On our last day we stopped of a Craster - A tiny fishing village. Cottages on the edge of the harbour facing out to sea....

Separated by the road, were their little front gardens, backing straight onto the edge of the harbour....

A wander round the village found a lovely house (I'm coveting again!)

Whilst the smokey wood smell from the fish curing building was more pleasant than I would have expected....

We also found a lovely Gallery - the work by Mick Oulsen was fantastic, but sadly out of my price range.

To end our holiday we decide to make the walk up to Dunstabrugh Castle. It was apparently only 1 1/4 miles - but with strong winds, and a little lady who has only little legs, it felt longer....

We stopped of to eat our lunch on the beach and examine more rock pools...

Before finally making it up there.

Now I am home.

Castled & rockpooled out.

Its back to realtiy as I tackle the packing away & laundry.

No more empty beaches & stunning skies.

But I have a selection of heart shaped stones, found by the Little People & proudly given to me, and I have to admit, I've fallen in love with Northumberland.

Love Lydia xx

Monday, 10 August 2009

Cornwall - Lizzard Point

I am struggling to believe its only just over a week since we came back from Cornwall - the time has flown, and it's back to the almost usual routines of daily life.

Blogging has however given me a good excuse to sneek a peek back at some of the photo's we took whilst away.

One of the unexpected highlights of our stay was a visit to the lighthouse at Lizard Point - the most southerly point in England. It was a wet day, not suitable for the beach, and the small people had tooo much energy to reign in for shopping, so we decided to pay a visit to this lovely looking lighthouse....

Which was busy at work due to the misty wet weather, including the foghorn that felt like it went through me each time it sounded - never again will I tell the children they have voices like foghorns.

In the working museum the Small People were able to send signals, and track ships....

and watch a film about the lighthouse and it predecessors (I thought it was a long way to come to watch an episode of coast - although the 8 year old did not agree...)

Ooodles of fun was had learning how to signal with flags -

And G & the 8 year old went up to see the lamp room of the lighthouse....

After all the energy used up exploring and learning, we wandered down to the nearby tearooms, and had the most deliciously simple lunch - beans on toast for the 8 year old - & huge granary doorstop sandwiches for the rest of us. Yum!

Post lunch, and with the weather looking a smidge brighter we took a steady walk down to the old lifeboat house - one of the earliest sites for life boat launches. It's now redundant in all its run down splendour. Apparently a renowned artist used to paint from it - although I forgot whom, by the time I'd walked back up the hill....

We walking past the most southerly house in England....

Down to the little bay, for a closer inspection of the bay and boats....

And even whilst it was still overcast, the view was, I think, really quite beautiful.

Love Lydia xx