Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The one where I really don't want to be "Off Games"

Corporal - like butter wouldn't melt...


"I would advise that you do not run."
How I used to long for such words in my youth - especially on a cold grey day like today. I hated games especially lacrosse which I was next to completely useless at. That feeling of inevitable dread that would settle on one as a 14-year old, as you watched the skies getting greyer and the relentless march of the minute hand on the clock taking you to the appointed hour of your doom - the Games lesson.
But now I don't like to hear those words at all - I want to run, I need to run, I've got a marathon in less than three months!
It all started with me landing my head on Friday. And it really wasn't my fault at all. I was doing everything I should and doing it properly but as I was reminded probably not properly enough. "If you'd been sitting well back and not tipping forward you'd probably have stayed on."
Probably.
Not definitely.
To be honest I don't remember what happened. The last thing I recall is trotting over a dry water tray on Corporal, the white-faced cob, and feeling pretty pleased with myself in that  he went over it without a murmur...the next thing I remember I was getting up from the ground and not quite sure exactly why. My head was ringing and I could have sworn that the horse and rider I was looking at really should not have been there, they should have been behind me not in front.
After getting my bearings I remounted and continued the lesson, trying very hard to put all the pieces together and not really succeeding.
I seemed OK and got home later feeling a tad discombobulated.
The next day I surely felt what had happened with an uncomfortable case of whip lash, headache and sore back. Thank heavens I had been wearing my hat and body protector - as I obviously do not bounce anymore!
Headaches soon cleared away and apart for a good rest I didn't think anything of it - I mean I went to ride again twice at the weekend and one of those included a show jumping competition! But I wasn't daft enough to run.
Come Monday I was getting a bit stir crazy re the running but because my back was painful thought I had better hold off for 24 hours. Come Tuesday I thought sod it and went out for a quick four miler and that is when it became uncomfortable, the pain building with every step, so that by the time it came to the evening  I could barely sit down!
Thus emergency call to the doctor today and the resulting "Off Games" slip - I've only gone and bruised my kidneys with the force of the fall and they are not happy that I did not get my head checked as well - I tried to tell them it was a lost cause, there was no point getting my head checked as I am considered as mad as a box of frogs anyway!
So as well as the bruised kidney I also have a mild case of concussion...
"So when can I run again?"
"When it is better but  if you run now it will only get worse!"
Oh how I wish I could tell my 14 year old self that  I should take all the days I can running about as one day it won't just be a case of not being able to, I won't be allowed to!
Doc says I will probably be alright by next week...
Probably
Not definitely....
 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Sometimes you open the door to shit....literally!

For those of a delicate nature or who just happen to be eating lunch - turn away now! For the rest of you - well you are warned.
I am sitting here in the middle of a freezing breeze in my kitchen contemplating the irony of eating the last of the chicken liver pate and trying hard not to giggle.
Life sometimes is just shit.
Literally.
I arrived home not more than 45-minutes ago and it might as well be a lifetime. So much seems to have happened.
As I started to open the door I  think it was the stench that alerted me to the fact that all was not well in Denmark or indeed my kitchen.
Radio Four droned on oblivious.
I opened the door further, and heard a frantic scrabble, a scratching, a slightly wet thump and more scrabbling as whippet feet and whippet nails tried to gain purchase to launch themselves to greet me home.  The largest one was damp and in fact as I drew my hand away from him I realised that what I thought was damp was actually poo, very runny poo that was smeared all across his back and down one side; I stupidly ran my hand across my leg to get it off me at the same moment that I surveyed the scene in front of me.
Confusion can last a lifetime, similarly a heartbeat.
Before me lay a scene from Armageddon - it's the only way I can describe it - it didn't in the least look like my kitchen.
There was dog poop everywhere, splattered, splurged, splodged and smeared. There was even evidence of slippage which might explain the state of Jet Bag, the largest of my four whippets.
Having ascertained the problem and registered it, though not really acknowledged it, my first action was to open the patio doors and get the dogs outside fast. I left them ping ponging up and down outside. A thing they do often.
And that is when it the full impact of what had happened hit me.
At least two of my dogs had had the squits, possibly more, it was a little difficult to tell as evidence sort of ran together.
I vacated the scene swiftly to contemplate my next move and once outside the backdoor promptly burst into tears. It seemed the most logical thing to do - it hasn't been the most restful of weeks and this was the icing the cake - sorry...
However, a swift blub over and it was once more time to gird my loins and tackle the problem at hand. Donning a make-shift bio hazard suit made up of a pair of veterinary gloves, red wellington boots, waterproof trousers and a plastic festival cape, that I found rather fortuitously in my handbag, I was able to make in-roads on the kitchen floor.
And not long after I actually found it again.
Copious amounts of kitchen paper, capfuls of Miltons and a serious splash of lemon scented Flash later and the place is once more habitable.
Jet was manhandled towards the outside hose and while he was busy trying to snaffle a snack out of an old Kong I squirted him clean. I was extremely lucky and had him cornered for a good 10 seconds before he leapt out of the way, getting all the detritus off him. The art of these things is not to let the poop dry on the dog before you turn the hose on him.
As for me  well I stripped off as soon as, flung everything in the wash, dashed upstairs and got into the shower at full blast to strip away the lingering stench.
So now I am here in the kitchen, wrapped in clean towels eating the left overs from the fridge and it can only happen to me that I am eating what looks exactly what I have just cleaned up off the floor!
A toast to a shit life!

I leave you with a picture I took of a rose in my garden just before it turned cold so much more pleasant than a steaming pile of poo...

A Rose from the Garden - wish my kitchen could have smelled as sweet!


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Walking in the Air and prepations for a big busk....

So if you are about Framlingham on Wednesday 16th December and you hear what you think just maybe sounds like a recorder version of "Walking in the Air" squeaking and souring its way to your ear - it probably is..."Walking in the Air" that is and yes it is also a recorder.
We are now officially starting to raise money for Young Epilepsy and the Bog Boy and the Big One are being forced to practice happily practising any piece they know that is remotely Christmassy for our first foray into the cut throat world of charity fund raising at Christmas.
We were hoping to get the Saturday market but a brass band beat us to it - well actually they are there every year and they are amazing - and to be honest the Framlingham Market would probably prefer us not to be about on a day so near to Christmas less we send potential shoppers fleeing to the relative safety of Saxmundham.
Or at least they think it safe - I have plans to stake out Waitrose in the Spring and someone has told me that Tesco can get quite a good crowd. Personally I reckon Lidl would be the best as everyone is always so happy when they come out of there either because they have actually managed to come out of there in one piece - did you see the mad rush to get the smoked almonds at the Thirsk branch last year? Made Black Friday look like a picnic in the park - or else those who do come out are so blooming pleased with themselves for getting such a bargain that they are incredibly generous.
Anyway back to the task at hand; preparations for the the Big Busk.
"Walking in the Air" is one, or used to be one, of my favourite Christmas tunes but following the rendition I heard today I may have to review that. The first bit is OK and if you hang in there and ride the pregnant pauses and close your ears to the inevitable note stumble, it's not that bad. You can recognise it - sort of. I'm hoping that with nigh on a month to go Bog Boy will clinch it. (I have bought my ear defenders and I will be overseeing practice both night and day #thethingswedo)
As for the Big One, he's channelling his inner Sally Army vibe and going large on his trombone with "Bring me Joy" following that up with a rather nifty Jingle Bells 'avec glissade' as long as I remember to buy the trombone oil and cleaning kit.
Which of course I forgot to do today...
So fair warning folks Framlingham Market, Wednesday 16th December - bring your ear defenders...I said BRING YOUR EAR.. oh never mind!


Meanwhile enjoy Walking In The Air as sung by Peter Auty from The Snowman. The wonderful animation was first shown on Channel Four in 1982. It is based on the comic book by Raymond Biggs which I had one Christmas in 1978. Much better though was Fungus the Bogey Man and very scarily When the Wind Blows which for anyone who lived through the 70s and 80s brings back the very real fear we had of a Nuclear War - ah such lovely thoughts and memories close to Christmas...



Monday, 12 October 2015

The Last Place



The reason I am running for Young Epilepsy in the Virgin London Marathon 2016. This picture shows my eldest (some time ago) having an absence seizure, which is a type of epilepsy frequently affecting children. My son was diagnosed with Childhood Epilepsy when he was 5 but had been having seizures like this for at least 18 months - wish I had known what they were and got it sorted out so much sooner!
I've got the last place to represent Young Epilepsy in next year's Virgin London Marathon!
I had hoped I would secure the place. I had even prayed, in my own sort of way, but there was enough uncertainty that when the call came to say that I had got the place I was momentarily silent.
Not a natural thing for me - silence.
And then it gradually sank in.
I had got the LAST place.
The full weight of expectation became a reality and I could hardly breathe.
I had got the last place. I was the last person that had been selected to represent them. There were others who put forward their bid and mine won.
This is huge.
Charity places are like gold dust and with nearly a quarter of a million* applying to run next year and approximately 40,000 entries allowed, securing one of those place needs more than running ability.
I had a huge form to fill out  with all my details from why I was running - because my eldest son now 12 has epilepsy - to what  fund raising I had done in the past.
More importantly was how much fund raising I would be doing in the run up  to the marathon. What ideas did I have, what did I think each idea would raise, how I would go about hitting my target of £5,000. It was a kind of risk assessment, I suppose, aimed at testing out my resolve and how committed I would be during the whole process.
The London Marathon is the most successful annual single day charity fundraising event in the world and last year (for the ninth consecutive year running) a new world record of £54.1 million was raised.
No pressure then.
So as well as training for the Virgin London Marathon 2016, I will also be baking, busking, selling,  cleaning, collecting, organising and well, doing anything to hit that target...
I hope to raise more and to that end..well that's another story!

*A total of 247,069 people applied for a place in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon following the decision to keep the online ballot application system for 2016 open for five days. More than 55 per cent of the applications for 2016 were from people who have never run a marathon and more than 42 per cent of the applicants were women. In 1981, less than 300 of the finishers were women. More than 100,000 women have applied to run next year. Approximately 37,800 people ran the marathon in 2015 making it the biggest ever in its 35 year history. More than £770 million has been raised for charity in that time.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

50things2dob4iam50 - #1 The One Day Event

So here I go - the start of my 50 things to do before I hit 50 - and I am straight in there with one of the biggest: the one day event*.
It must be one of the biggest indulgences ever and also one of the scariest.
I mean - what if?
What if I fall off? What if I break my leg/arm/neck? That really is going to cause a problem. Who will look after the kids/dogs/house?
Dear Charlie tells me to stop being so negative after I confess to him my worries as I drive him to the station at 5:45am. And then he tells me something else. He says he is proud of me.  He's full of admiration that I am doing something I love even though it could be dangerous. He says I shouldn't worry about it being indulgent because if I do then his relatively new found passion for cycling is also indulgent and dangerous.
"Life is too short to stop doing the things we love just because we may get hurt or injured doing it! If we did that we'd land up doing nothing!"
I get his point.
But I still worry.
Probably not helped by reading about someone who was out riding and had a very bad fall. And it was not clever watching all those YouTube clips of people falling off their horses while doing cross country...
So in a few hours I am going to start my odyssey, my personal quest in the year running up to my 50th birthday with a one day event.
I am scared.
But I am also excited.
I am going to challenge myself to go further than I ever dared to and if I fall off...

*A one day event is a horse riding challenge whereby a rider competes across three riding disciplines: dressage, show jumping and cross country.
Dressage is a bit like ballet but for horses and shows how well a horse and rider can work together. It is judged on the bearing, demeanour, discipline and elegance that the partnership brings to arena. The test consists of a sequence of movements to test the suppleness and obedience of the horse.
Then there is the show jumping bit which is a test of agility, precision and control of both horse and rider over a course of show jumps.Finally there is a cross country section where Horse and rider must negotiate a course of solid obstacles within a certain time limit. This part of the one day event is designed to test the fitness, technique and  all round ability of both horse and rider.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Moving matters: When is the right time to buy a house?

Soon to be on the market...
I am just about NOT raiding the biscuit box, I think I may have a lower lip tremble and I have this sort of pricking feeling behind my eyes.
I AM being VERY brave.
My offer for a new home has been turned down virtually flat and needless to say I am feeling pretty cut up about it.
The thing is though, as I was told by a very knowledgeable Estate Agent friend (he sells houses I could never afford in a million years in London): "The only way to buy a house is to sell a house first."
I got turned down flat despite going £30,000 over the asking price because my house is yet to go on the market.
"To be honest," said the local estate agent big wig, "you are just not in a position to proceed and in my great experience you may not get an offer on your house for  six months even if it was on the market today."
Personally I was rather affronted at that - seemingly implying that I had obviously got my home on the market for way too much and that I would land up being very silly when trying to sell. In fact I got the feeling he didn't think I was serious about the property or indeed that I was a buyer worth his time and effort.
Can I blame him? There is no evidence whatsoever that I am serious. My home hasn't even made it to Rightmove let alone OnTheMarket or indeed the local papers.
Yet I am selling. Honest - even though I am not desperately happy about it (but that's another story).
The national estate agents have been selected to market and sell our home and we've signed on the dotted line, the photographs have been taken, the description has been written, the lawyers have been engaged and I have just been e-mailed the floor plans.
My home will be there for all and sundry to see by Wednesday.
And yet without having it under offer  I feel that no one is ever going to think I am deadly serious about buying.
So the thing is, do I wait until I have sold my property then look? Or do I carry on in the hope that  everything will fit like a jigsaw?
Cash is king - as they say but did you know only 38% have been sold cash in the past quarter of the year and it does not look to increase according to statistics by Nationwide. So that means that 62% of home buyers are just like me....
That is of course unless I sell my home first then I too will be that most vaunted of buyers, the estate Agent's dream - a cash buyer...
Wonder how I will be treated then? Wonder if that will be the right time to buy?

Monday, 16 March 2015

Bringing up Boys - The Art of Being Ill

Bog Boy
Being very ill indeed
The art of being ill is hard one.

  • You must not be SO ill that you cannot take advantage of it nor must you be to not ill enough that you have to go into school anyway.
  • You will need to be just sick enough to get at least two days off as one day off is no good as your Mum will think you are just trying get out of a spelling test or a maths exam or basically something you don't want to do particularly; like English.
  • Throwing up is a good one as you have to be off school for at least 24 hours for that but you must get the timings right, if you throw up at night you'll only get the one day off but if you throw up in the way to school you might be able to squeeze two days off as technically you will have to clear the morning of the day after tomorrow as well before you can go back.
  • A good dose of chicken pox can be great - only as long as you get it mildly - but make sure your Mum has had it first as she's no good at pandering to your every whim if she's laid up as well. 
  • Remember Calpol is your friend - reduces feverishness and that really spaced out feeling fast and allows you to play Minecraft uninterrupted all day but still won't really knock a nail on the head of a persistent virus so that when Mum takes your temperature the next morning it's raised too high for you to go back to school just yet...
  • Don't forget to get picky with your food (preferably don't eat at all to begin with) refuse all our favourites with a sigh and say things like: "I'm just not  hungry Mum' "I can't Mum it hurts when I swallow." And allow her a small moment of triumph when she tempts you to eat with a Belgian Chocolate Choux bun*
  • Get practising with your cough a good flemmy coughing noise will keep her just off balance enough to give you the benefit of the doubt - possibly allowing you an extra convalescence day at home.
  • A really good  idea is to wake early and trip your way to Mum's room saying you really don't feel very well. She'll be too sleepy to argue the point and  more than likely allow you in for a cuddle. If you are too old for a cuddle in bed with Mum you can always sit on her bed and shiver. She will be so concerned that she'll jump out of bed, insist that you get in and keep warm while she gets up to fetch you a lovely cup of tea.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night to say you've thrown up, feel really ill or have a headache is  another good way to make the point however, don't do this too much or you will rapidly lose her sympathy as she gets more and more tired and you'll not be able to get that extra day of convalescence.
  • Keep buttering her up with the want smile or the demands for a cuddle and always say thank you for everything she does and technically you could get a whole week off - and that might mean you manage to miss a spelling test, maths exam and the dreaded English
  • WARNING: Don't milk it too much or else Mum won't be as amenable to letting you stay home the next time. 


I have been ill enough to be off school for three days and have missed my spelling test, piano lesson and double English
Have a happy illness
Bog Boy 
(Aged nearly nine)


*Top Tip: Show a great deal of reluctance to eat this or indeed any treat as you are sure to get  another to tempt your appetite back




Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Being Mum

My Boy and Whippet
It's been twelve years - twelve years today to be exact.
The ultimate Mother's day.
I remember vividly what I was doing at this exact time all those years ago.
Feeling completely and utterly lost.
I had had a long birth - three days and after an emergency cesarean and all the excitement of  finally holding my baby boy, introducing him to the rest of the family, I was suddenly left alone.
I stared out into the far night from the third floor hospital window searching down onto the car park, trying to make out where my husband and Mum were, desperately wanting them come back and not leave me alone in this place. I wanted to go home now.
My brain was not functioning and thinking about what had happened was far beyond me.
My baby boy was not even in the room to remind me of my very changed circumstances; he was in the nursery under the watchful gaze of the midwives so that I could get some rest.
But I couldn't rest.
And I couldn't stop the tears from falling either.
I was just too exhausted.
I wanted my mum.
It didn't occur to me at all that I was a mum as well.
I went from being me to being more than just me, but my brain took a while to adjust.
(It still does from time to time.)
It was sometime early in the morning the following day (though to be honest all the days and nights had melded together and I had no idea 'when' anything was) that The Boy was wheeled into me for a feed. I can't say my heart leapt.
I was mildly curious.
I think I was also disappointed.
I expected there to be this sudden rush of love at the mere sight of him and this magical transference of knowledge allowing me to know what it was I was expected to be doing - no such luck in either case.
I think I panicked a bit about that, then dismissed this mother love thing that everyone had ranted on about as just tosh. I had felt no rushing feeling of love when I saw him. I was just devoid of anything.
However, that is not something you should admit to, so I didn't. I made what I thought were all the right noises. I did as I was told. I smiled and held him as directed. But I felt untouched by his presence.
However, my curiosity grew in spite of myself, my tentativeness with him lessened as he lay in my arms heavy with sleep.
I relaxed.
He was small and wrinkly and really rather skinny and long and sort of squashed looking. His skin was loose but so soft. His shock of dark hair surprising and he smelled good.
He was so real.
I lay that night in my bed with him just resting beside me. In utter silence; and I just watched. I didn't talk to him. I just lay there curiously assessing him.
You see there is this thing called mother love, it is very real but it can as easily take you unawares as much as it rushes straight at you.
For me it was all unawares
The slow burn of passion had started, I just didn't know it.
It grew on me.
Entwined itself about my heart.
Indelibly stained my whole life.
I was a mum and nothing in the whole of my life would ever be the same again...


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOY!



Monday, 9 March 2015

The Wickedest Whippet returns: the case of the wandering walnuts and other bits of thievery.

The Wickedest Whippet - Butter wouldn't melt...
Life has been uncomfortable of late - literally.
I seem to have a walnut problem - in that walnut shells are to be found all over the house. Squirrelled away in corners, under cushions, on chairs, under chairs and sometimes even blatantly on the carpets; basically wherever I go barefoot I usually land up hopping about in absolute agony.
It's worse than Lego - believe me!
And it's getting downright dangerous.
I love walnuts, so we have a lot of them in the house - especially at Christmastime. I pile them in a big round basket available to anyone in passing. I say anyone, I actually need to be specific here.
Anyone that is HUMAN.
Check out the walnut detritus!
I am not fond of anything other than humans eating walnuts - I don't like the idea of mice, rats or even squirrels having free rein inside my home; so you can imagine my consternation when I started to find the shells all over the place.
It started fairly innocuously, the odd shell here, the bit of husk there; so I moved the basket on top of the display cabinet by the stairs to be out of reach of small human hands - suspecting that the prime culprits were the boys.
But the shells kept appearing and then it started to get worse. I'd clear  it all up and then the next day there would be even more shells all over the place.
I got the rat man in...
But.
There were no rats.
I put mice traps down (and only managed to catch one in the drinks cupboard - but that's another story).
I double checked all the windows to see it it were squirrels coming int o the house, I religiously patrolled the outside of the house for rat activity and spent hours just listening at the dead of night just in case I could hear the fiends.
I even began to worry if it were me - eating walnuts in my sleep.
So I decided to lay a trap using my old camera.
And this is what I found.....








The Wickedest Whippet returns...!!!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Are you there Mojo?

Hey Jet! is that my MoJo?
Are you there Mojo?
Have I got it back?
It's been nearly two years now since I started to lose it and for the past year I almost totally forgot that it ever existed.
I only blogged twice.
In a whole year!
Of course I didn't quite have total writer's block, I still wrote.
But not for fun.
Not just free writing for the hell of it.
Why did it happen?
Still not quite sure.
Did I just get bored? I don't think so; I just couldn't write. All these words and images and sentences got stuck in my head and they couldn't or wouldn't come out. The just repeated themselves over and over and became like sticky mud that I couldn't wade through. I attempted to write - I hate attempting anything. I wanted to do!
I tried so hard but then it all fell apart - a bit like me.
The harder I tried, the more ridiculous the words sounded as they splashed on the page.

Higgledy piggledy 
splish! splosh! splash!

They didn't make much sense and then I got angry and frustrated and I thought:

Give it a break.

Give it a rest.

Slow down.

And then life whizzed by and I thought about it, and thought about it, and then slowly started to  write again.
Not for me but for others hoping, praying and crossing my fingers that by doing so I would find my voice again.
It's a bit rusty.
Not sure how it sounds.
But willing to write again  however it sounds is good enough for me!




Go on you know you want to...

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