Monday, March 31, 2008

Electrical malfunctions

Geoff would be grinning right now. My hair straightners died a miserable death this morning. This is a national disaster, or maybe not really. I mean BIG hair could be making a comeback, who knows. I could be a trend-setter.


I had nasty visions of lots of money for an industrial strength replacement. And then I had a moment of great inspiration. I removed the fuse from the plug with a kitchen knife, as one does. And I rifled through the serviette drawer (of course) and found a replacement fuse with the right number of amps, and popped it in before I resorted to tossing the defunct straightners in the bin, and VOILA!!! It worked!! I am a genius.

This was my husband's area of expertise. I never had to fix things. I just dumped them on his lap and looked pathetic. Or started waving the credit card about, which spurred him to immediate action, and he usually managed to fix whatever was broken. In fact, he managed to fix just about everyone else's stuff too. He is missed for more than one reason. Frequently. Many people around here sigh in a long suffering way when they announce the new purchase of electrical goods and then look at me and say...well, Geoff would have fixed it... Sigh. I know. It has been a great irritation to me too. Like when the toilet broke the day after he died. I had some choice words to say then too.

So he would be grinning. There is just one piece of equipment in his tool box which fascinates me more than anything else. A test meter. I have no idea how it works. But I do know it is an easy way to see what is broken. You stick one end of the wire on something and the other on a another thing and the reading does something. See?? I am a whizz. I know what it does but how and why and what it actually means is a mystery. But I will work it out one day. Why on earth didn't I ever ask him? Do I need one? No. But it is here and paid for and there must be some way to work it. Hmmmm. There are some minor gaps in my education.

For those of you who have asked - I could possibly have done the damage by carrying a laptop case stuffed with paper and files around all day and every day at work. It weighs a ton. Not to mention heavy trays of equipment as I move classrooms. I had commented on the weight of the things, and it had been noted as unsustainable. And it still feels just the same, so I am going back to the doctor to find out how long it will take to heal and what I am supposed to be doing. The first appointment I can get is for tomorrow afternoon. I teach a practical subject, which requires me to use my right hand to exert downward pressure a lot like using scalpels etc, and stretching to write on the boards won't be easy. Never mind carrying cutting boards etc about.

I worried about letting the kids I teach down, as there is no-one to replace me at the moment, but then a good friend said quite simply....who is more important? The kids you teach or your son? No contest. I need to be healthy and well. There is only me left. And that has never seemed more real than in the past week.

32 years ago last week, I got married. It seems like a lifetime ago. I was just 21. Two years older than my youngest child. Who is turning 19 this week. My baby. Where on earth have all the years gone?

Anyway, the enforced inactivity continues. My hands are itching to get on with the sewing, but I am being good and resisting. Remember how I was not looking forward to going to work and wanted to stay home? I got that. But not quite the way I would have wished for.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beautiful day

It has been a lovely day...warm and sunny, and the clocks went forward this morning, so everyone got up late. And I decided to go for a walk. Breathing is good.

So I walked to the edge of the village and down the lane to those lakes you can see here....

And I made a new friend along the way. He was looking in my pockets for a carrot, but I didn't have any.... so I stroked his nose, and he seemed to like that....

The grass or whatever is growing in the field is very green....

More friends..... the mill cottage has a water sluice and this beautiful swan was playing against the current......

Just look at the reflection of the water in itself.....

The water in the lakes is higher than normal. Some of the trees are in the lake at the moment.....

Soon they will all be green. There are leaf buds everywhere, so I will have to go back soon and take more photos......

Such strange shapes. The trees bend towards the water in really weird ways....

And there are so many swans. I watched them take off from the water and come in to land. Unfortunately I got lovely photos of half swans. The sun was too bright to see what I was taking!

And this reminded me of Moses in the bullrushes. The reed are high and grasses sway gently in the breeze.
I walked slowly and stopped to rest a lot. So much to see and it is all so English and green and quiet. Lots of time to think and just to "be".

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I am not invincible after all...

You do not want to know about Wednesday. I aged 50 years in 10 seconds. The same 10 seconds when pain ripped through my chest while I was sitting there minding my own business at work, getting my laptop files in order for the day. I am a woman, and I have a very good imagination. And believe me, I used every scap of that imagination. In spades. With optional extras. So I wrote a post about it, and then didn't post it. Why?? Because it a) might have alarmed my children and b) it let a little too much of me out of the box. Self-editing is not easy. But sometimes it is necessary.

And for a woman who seldom cries..........just know that I have redressed the balance. So it is little wonder that, for the past 2 days, I have done a great deal of sleeping and very little else. Pain is exhausting. And emotional weariness numbs the soul. And the body.

But I am indeed alive, thankyouverymuch, and pain will do nicely too, given the alternatives I had considered. I have torn or inflamed part of the muscle attached to my breast bone. I am just highly irritated that I can't do any sewing, or the mountain of things I would choose to do if not working. Because resting is the only thing which will mend me. And I want it fixed. Now. I am an evil patient. And even the book I am reading (which will never close again after being immersed in a full tub of bath water,) is too heavy to hold up, and I cannot read sitting at a table.

I ventured out to buy some milk yesterday, and thought...oh I will pick up some of the things I need for the weekend. No. I couldn't carry them with one hand. That didn't go very smoothly. So I came home and fell asleep on the sofa again. For the third time in one day.

So the sum total of my achievements for yesterday were:
  1. Rested
  2. Bought milk
  3. Snoozed
  4. Read blogs
  5. Played on the internet
  6. Slept
  7. And slept some more

I lead such an exciting life. Today has the promise of THE SHOP!! With my son. To carry the bits. He is justifiably thrilled at the prospect. Especially towing a mother along behind him, who is clutching her chest like some vapid Victorian heroine in a melodrama.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A meme - because I keep writing posts and not posting them after all....

Morning all..... Crystal has tagged me for a meme, and it is a long long time since I actually did one of these, so here goes.....

Rules first:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

I can't be absolutely certain, but I think I was in South Africa arranging to sell my parents home. And trying to sort out their affairs. They had come to visit us for a holiday just after Dad was diagnosed with Diffuse Lewey body disease, and the travelling worsened his condition so dramatically that he was not allowed to fly again, so they stayed with me. Or I might have started the extension to our home to accomodate us all. It all happened at once. I do know that it is nearly 10 years since we had to put Dad in respite care, and he never came home again. He stayed for a year, and then was moved to a nursing home. It was a time of tumultuous change around here.

5 things on my to do list today:
  1. Rest
  2. Buy milk
  3. Rest
  4. Plan lessons
  5. Rest (I have not mentioned that I have torn or inflamed the muscles in my chest wall, have I....It hurts. But I am alive. And am supposed to REST.)

Snacks I enjoy:

  1. Kettle fried crisps and dip
  2. Cheese and crackers
  3. Humous
  4. Sesame flatbread
  5. Taramasalata with crisps

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  1. Make sure my children were secure financially
  2. Help family and friends
  3. Pay all debts and travel more
  4. Sponsor more children
  5. Have the BEST time getting rid of most of it! I don't want or need a great deal, but I would love to buy a lifeboat, or help Air ambulance charities, Hospices, Compassion, Children's charities, Heart foundation, Alzheimers Society. The list goes on and on.....

5 of my bad habits:

  1. Spending too much time on the couch
  2. Not keeping up with friends enough
  3. Putting things off till "tomorrow"
  4. Drinking too much coffee
  5. Falling asleep in the bath and drowning every book I read.

5 places I have lived:

  1. Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Plymouth, UK for a year when I first got married
  3. Back to Cape Town and in a flat for 18 months
  4. Then in a house in Cape Town, not far from my parents
  5. Here in middle England, where I live now.

5 Jobs I have had:

  1. Babysitter for children through holidays
  2. Reader's Digest clerk (student work)
  3. Exam invigilator
  4. Managed a doll's house shop
  5. Oriental rug shop

And I am breaking the rules here and saying I am tagging anyone who wants to do this one! So let me know if you decide to do it, and I will be delighted to come and check out your bad habits and all the rest. And now I am off to REST. I do not like resting and this is most inconvenient. Mutter mutter....

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hands, quilts and back to work

Aiyaiyai - or however you spell that. I have been quilting for 5 hours, and I stopped and had a look at my hands. My right thumb is now twice the size of my left one. A small matter of the old osteo-arthritis which I have had for ages suddenly flaring up. I got it in the first place from a combination of all the hand quilting I have done over the years, and being naturally double jointed, and it is not a pretty sight. The trouble is that I have a ridiculously high pain threshold, and so I carry on sewing through what should be first pain then heat, only I just get the heat. The pain comes when I stop. Like now. Snarl. I have 3 quilts and 7 cushion covers to quilt. That is A LOT. And I LIKE quilting by hand. Not that I would not drool over a Bernina machine with the stitch regulator for quilting, of course. One can but dream.

I have just spent 10 USELESS minutes trying to take a photo of my hands. Without using said hands. It is impossible. You might guess by now that I am A LITTLE IRRITATED. I am raising my voice. Just a bit.


This is all because the weekend is almost over, and I have to go back to work tomorrow. The mood is back in the doldrums, because I really just want to stay home and make things. We do, however need to eat. And be warm. And have the internet. And a phone. Oh, and water and stuff is always handy too. So I will be back at work.

But on to more pleasant things.
Yesterday our church service was just amazing. Wonderful. What a celebration! Thankfully, the snow had melted enough to make the travel across the valley relatively easy. And then we went to lunch with friends, which was also lovely. We ate so much I could hardly waddle. Lots of laughter and fun. And then on to a birthday tea, and when we were offered cake, there was a chorus of groans from everyone there. It seems we had all over-indulged at lunch. I rounded off the evening by chatting to friends on the phone while lying prostrate on my bed, to avoid my waistband garrotting my stomach. The diet started today. After I had visited a friend and eaten 3 digestive biscuits with my coffee this morning.

I am doomed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Snowy Easter Morning

Look! We have snow! Now, while I do really understand that this paltry amount may be laughable to some of is SNOW!!! I am reliably informed that the babes were out playing in the white stuff at 8am. I opened the window to take a photo.

Today is my daughter-in-law's birthday. And Simon's. And Martyn's. And this reminds me of a year when David's birthday fell on Easter Sunday. We were in Switzerland, and the poor little thing (I think he was about 4) had no idea what to do in the snow, hunt Easter eggs or open birthday presents. He whizzed around trying to do it all at once, and had us in stitches. So much excitement and happiness all at the one moment.

The same child, might I add, is asleep in bed. I have hidden the Easter eggs. It doesn't matter how old they are, we still hunt Easter eggs on Easter Sunday. Picture fingers drumming the desk as I write...... I want him to wake up and hunt! Not to mention play in the snow.

Sigh. The child is 18. I might be pushing things just a little here..... Why do they all have to grow up??

Happy Easter to you all! And Happy Birthday to 3 special people!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hot cross buns are my downfall

Hot cross buns. I love hot cross buns, and the best in the world come from Marks and Spencer. Jeana - you have to try them when you get here, and don't worry about it not being Easter by then. They are so good that M&S sell them all year round. Is this the only place on earth where you get hot cross buns all year??? It seems to be missing the point somewhere.

However. I love hot cross buns. Unfortunately I am the only one in residence who does, so it becomes my duty to eat the lot. And I am quite capable of rising to the challenge. Only problem is that the hips enter the "rising" bit with a little too much gusto too. And one cannot buy one hot cross bun. Good grief - one would never be enough. Of course not. And wasting food goes against the grain. I am trying to be both green and frugal. Forget the green bit - the birds are absolutely not going to get my HCBs either. Sigh. You may detect a note of greed and possessiveness at this point.


I just felt I should share the fact that I am carbo-loading for the second day in a row. At least I didn't eat the lot on Good Friday. It would have been entirely too possible.

I saw a few flakes of snow an hour ago, and they were less than impressive, but it is supposed to snow all day so we wait with baited breath. Here in the UK, snow is a novelty. My sister, on the other hand, is sick of the white stuff. Icy wind and grey skies do not feel like Spring though.

The sewing is progressing well, and so far I am pleased with the way all three are developing. Each has to reflect the individual child, and as I said, the construction of the top is the easy part. What happens next is the fun bit, and this is the part which takes forever. Kate and her friend Yuka popped in yesterday and suggested that they should be wall hangings instead of quilts, and that made me think some more. Maybe for one of the kids. Or 2. Or not. The size would change then. But I could use more mixed media if it was not going to be washed regularly like a quilt. Or not. Hmmm. I may have to lie on the couch a while and ponder options.

Or simply ask the kids what they want. I have only had one cup of coffee. My mind is taking time to catch up here.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Good Friday.
And the day here dawned bright and sunny and then the clouds came, and then temperature dropped, and the wind howled, and the snow is coming.

As the hours have passed, I have been thinking about that hill long ago, and how the day would have dawned and how the hours passed for Him too. And for all those people there watching. And I am even more amazed that I mattered enough. That He cared enough. That anyone could have been willing to pay such a high price for someone as ordinary as me.

I need to remember, on the days when I feel inadequate or not good enough, that I am not the judge here. He is. And somehow, He thinks I am worth everything.

It might be Friday....


Sunday is coming!!

(Go over to Dawn's place and read her post about "It might be Friday"!!!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

I could be losing the plot here......

I am sitting here wondering.

If someone says "I am coming over on Monday evening", yesterday, does that mean today or next week? I am now assuming it meant next Monday, seeing as it is now 8.50pm. I thought it meant tonight, until now. I have no idea what I might be doing next Monday evening. Next week is a long way away. I may well be out. Leading a wild and exciting life. You never know....stranger things have happened.


That is what you get with text messages instead of the old fashioned why not just be daring and actually phone. And speak with real voices. As in human contact. Hmph. I may be out jogging next Monday night. Yes. That sounds like a splendid idea. I can eat Easter eggs if I am planning to jog.

Ah well....... I can read my book tonight and flop about and not worry if I make a mess in the lounge after all. I may even switch on the TV. The trouble with working where I do, is that I crawl home so tired, that the prospect of sewing is just beyond me. I get up in the morning and think...oooh I can finish piecing the quilt tonight. But no. The spirit is very willing, but oh, the body just needs to rest. Work really does sap every ounce of creativity from me, and that is the worst bit. I want to be creative. I need to make things. I am just too weary.

But the Easter weekend is on the horizon. A four day weekend is just wonderful. And after that there are just 9 working days till the school holidays. Bliss. I can't wait.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I am full of good intentions.....

Howling gales and torrential rain. Yes. And just when I thought I might start a little jogging. Hahahahahahahahahaha. And no, the foot is not fixed. I can move fine if I walk on the side of it. Just walking normally is somewhat of a challenge. And I can run. Heaven knows what I look like, but I can muster speed when I need to. I could, of course, be deforming my spine as I speak. Not to mention the knees hips etc. Stupid foot.

I happened to glance at my image in the mirror as I was passing it. Oh boy. Who IS that woman????? What happened to the waistline??? And as I happened to be wearing my reading glasses, it expanded to even more epic proportions. Hence the decision to enhance my physical exertion levels. I do try to avoid mirrors. I have good reason. They are nasty things which should be banned. The clothes still fit, but so help me, everything under them seems to be re-distributing itself into places it has no business being. If I spent my life standing up straight, holding my breath, I would be fine. But when I sit down........ Groan. You would think that when one reached my lofty age there would be some latitude for enjoyment of stuff. Like food. Nooooooooo. Life is absolutely NOT fair.

After last Saturday night's conversation with Louise about needing to get a life which differed slightly from falling asleep watching TV, 5 of us met at Jean's home last night. At 7pm, because, you know, we need to get home and get to bed early. Of course. We are the Jewels. Jackie, Jean, Jane, Linds and Louise. Get it? The Js and the Ls. And we had Conversation. With real live people. Adult people. Not about children or work. We sat in front of the fire and laughed and chatted and planned and nibbled our way through exotic crisps, and it was great. There is life!!!

And then we all went home. And I fell asleep watching CSI New York. Again. But I did wake up for the ending, which is a remarkable improvement on last week. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

I also spent the afternoon sewing as I listened to the rugby. It has been so long since I made anything, and those special projects I had intended for my children for Christmas are still in their infancy. But yesterday, I made huge progress. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to feel the fabric under my hands again, as I move it through the machine. And to see what I have in my mind becoming reality before my eyes. So many projects I have my mind. And yesterday was a good day to work on the projects. The kids all sort of know what I am doing, so I can at least tell you that I saved all Geoff's shirts, some cotton and some flannel, and I have chopped them up and am making memory quilts for my children. Each different. Each special. You will get to see them once they are finished. Probably by next Christmas at this rate. For me, the best part comes when I hand quilt them. It takes forever, but that is when I sew in the stitches with love and memories and it is what makes them so special for me to make. I am a long way from that stage at the moment, but the tops are nearly ready for assembly.

I am off to church now. Palm Sunday is here. As Max Lucado says, the entire message of the Bible is encased in the words of John 3:16. And today is the 16th March. 3:16.

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."

That says it all.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday morning

The house is quiet, and it is grey outside. Today would have been Geoff's birthday. In fact, my phone just beeped to tell me that. I did not need reminding. Some things you do not forget.

Yesterday was real. Over 400 people went to the funeral, and as you drive across the bridge to the town, the first thing you see is the bank of flowers. Bouquets tied to the railings near to where Jono died. So close to the place we searched. I had no idea where the church was other than that it was on a hill, and so I whizzed through the town until I saw a steeple. I was late, and had forgotten the map at home, but thankfully, remembered the way across country. It took about 2 hours to reach Downham Market from school, and so help me, there are speed cameras all the way there. And tractors. I parked miles away and ran. I had to stand in the doorway, as there was no space left in the church, but I could hear everything. It was a beautiful service - a tribute to such a young life. And then we walked to the cemetary for the burial. I don't recall ever being to a burial before, and the finality of it all really struck home.

David and I were home by 6.30 and he went to his youth group last night, while I sort of melted into the couch. Too tired to cook or to eat.

I watched my son, my "baby", shake Jono's Dad's hand and tell him that "there is no question that I would be anywhere other than here" when Nick thanked him for coming, and I saw the man he has become. And my heart nearly burst.

A difficult day for me. But how much more difficult for Jono's parents.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Feet need to work properly

The days are flying by, and life is, as always, a series of ups and downs. I could do without the downs. I seem to have injured my foot somehow. Heaven knows where or how, but I noticed that I was walking on the outer side of it, which, of course, then makes the knee and the back ache....... etc etc . So I straightened it as I was going down a flight of stairs at work. And stepped on it. I shrieked. Stairwells echo. My language was rather more delightful than is the norm, I confess, and I am just glad that the little cherubs were all in class at the time. (Mind you, my rather colourful language would probably have been normal conversation to them.) So I limped back to the staff room muttering and snarling under my breath, and examined it. I am not sure what for. It looks normal, but is clearly not. It feels like a bone is out of place. I need all bones to be where they are supposed to be at all times. I feel this is only reasonable. And I do not need to resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame as I whizz about at work.

Actually, the whizzing is more like a hobble. For now. I could do with a zimmer. Can you just see me with a laptop slung around a zimmer????? Hmmmm.

Where was I?? Ups and downs. Ups have been good. Not plentiful, but good. I popped in to see my old colleagues this afternoon, and they were so happy to see me. I went to see the finished coursework, and I am so proud of my girls. They have done so well, considering the upheavals in their GCSE year. My old boss is an absolute delight, and offered me so much advice and help, as she always does, and I really do miss them. Not the school. Just our department. Great great people. They stay in touch, and it means the world to me.

So tomorrow is Friday and I have a funeral to go to. I have to work in the morning, so will make a mad dash across the country at lunchtime, and hopefully will get there in time for the service. David is going ahead with friends. There will be lots of people. It still seems unreal. Crazy. But tomorrow, I suspect, it will be very real.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stormy seas

There was wind. There was rain. But nothing like the storms in the south-west. The most damage I saw around here was an upturned wheelie bin. The sea, however, is making itself at home in people's living rooms down south. I live in a place which is possibly the furthermost point from the sea. This is convenient today. Usually, I wish we lived closer. We have electricity, unlike some. So we had a lighter encounter with the big storm than others, and for that I am thankful.

I love the sea. Like fires, and mountains, I never tire of watching its moods. The sea is so immense and so powerful, almost elemental in a way. I have sailed on calm seas. Stormy seas and excessively stormy seas. The kind where you curl up in a ball in a corner and start reviewing your life. I have watched dolphins, and porpoises playing in the bow waves. I have seen whales and flying fish. I have swum under water, catching crayfish and watching this other world go about its business. I have jumped over waves. I have paddled. I have swum at mind-boggling speed when someone yelled "shark". I have NO desire to meet a shark in its natural habitat. None at all. I have been on big boats, small boats, huge ships and small ferries. My feet have been in the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Pacific Oceans. They have been in the Mediterranean and North Seas. I have body surfed, and most of all, I have walked along the beaches, and watched. I have sat on rocks and watched. Ever changing. I love the sea.

I just don't want it in my living room.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The sun is shining..

There is a lot to be said about the restorative powers of a couch, a soft blanket, mindless TV, coffee and chocolate. And a weekend. I have combined the lot and had a few very pleasant snoozes thankyouverymuch. And then I had to phone a friend in the middle of the night to find out what happened at the end of CSI New York, as I snoozed through it all, and we all know that we cannot possibly go to sleep not knowing the outcome. And we discussed our dire need of a social life which does not involve snoozing on the couch. Movement. Interaction. Conversation. You know what I mean. Real life.

Today the sun is shining. My mother has felt the need to regale me with details of "the worst storm of winter" which is due to hit us tonight or tomorrow. Just when I was listening to the birds twittering and watching the sun. This, I suspect, is why we need to enjoy every moment as it happens!

Thank you all for your lovely comments over the past week. Your prayers, concern, and words of encouragement have been wonderful, and Jono's family are so grateful too. His funeral is on Friday.

Most of all, the time I have taken for reflection (which sent me to sleep) has shone a spotlight on how I divide my time, and the priority I set for things like work, family, home, friends, me etc etc. I am doing too much "busy" stuff and juggling too fast to try to keep all the balls in the air, and I am missing the point. Or avoiding it. How much of what I am doing right now in my normal daily life is going to count? How much am I missing? What am I ignoring or overlooking? How little am I trusting? What will be remembered?

By nature, I am impulsive. I leap in and do things. Now I am considering a radical shakeup, and huge decisions with many ramifications, and it is something I have no-one here to share the options with, because there is no-one they will affect as much as me. I am probably making no sense at all. But things are afoot in my mind. (That sounds quite ridiculous - just read it again...afoot in ....never mind!) I am not complaining about being alone, by the way. It is just a practical, logical observation. Others can offer different perspectives on my options, but they will never have to live them. See? It makes a difference.


The sun is shining. I am wasting time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

This is the weary "me".....

Hi. I am still here, and I have to admit that I have not had time or energy to read much, but I will be doing so over the next few days. Catching up. Everything is in slow motion at the moment.

The more I think about the death of a teenager, the more impossible, implausible it seems. I think we are all just going through the motions. However, this has sort of prised some cracks in the facade of normality that I, in particular, have worked so hard to establish. Every death is unique and personal to the person who has lost someone. No way on earth can anyone in any scenario know just how that person is feeling. We are all so different. Each relationship is so unique. So many variables.

In a sense it brings the past back. It reopens scarcely healed wounds. I have the ironic honour today, of knowing how to help in the process of things like post mortems and inquests. This is knowledge I so wish I didn't have. In abundance. But God makes it quite clear that all things happen for a reason, and everything we experience is supposed to be in order for us to use it to help others, in similar circumstances.

I don't want any similar circumstances. I don't want to have any knowledge. I don't want to have experienced anything like this. I certainly don't want to have to share it with a man who is like my younger brother, as he prepares to bury his son.


It is not about what I want, is it. It is about what is. And maybe now the time is nearing when I have to stop a while, look back and let myself feel. Unfamiliar territory for me.

This has not been an easy or simple week. Nothing about it has been simple. Work has been a less than joyous experience (I am the master of understatement) and I am tired. But these days will pass, and there is time just to be thankful for what I have right now. Perceptive and caring children. Family. A warm home. Friends.

I will be back.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A light goes out

Jonathon Barber

Jono's body was recovered by divers this morning, just before lunch. His father and stepmother were there at the time, and say that he looked so peaceful and seems to be frozen in time. He was 18 years old. I cannot begin to know what his parents are feeling. I have never lost an 18 year old son. The world is a darker place right now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

So weary

We found nothing.

His hat was found near the water, and the divers were in again as we left.

Nothing. Not yet.

We left in convoy at dawn this morning...all those wonderful people who had given up their day to help search the river banks. I cannot tell you how cold it was. I swear that wind comes straight from Siberia. Icy. It chilled you to the marrow. We all looked like blimps, and I had my scarf wound round my head, under my hood. This is fen-land, and fen-land is flat. And bleak. Very bleak.

The search was so well organised, and there must have been more than 100 volunteers there. We were in teams or 4 or 5 people, and were briefed as a team by the police, all our details taken down, given hi-vis jackets, and told to phone in anything. We had to register when we left and when we returned. TV cameras were there, and reporters, and the family were all so overwhelmed to see so much love and support.

Our team, (I was with David, Louise and Simon) set off to search the west bank of the river for a +/- 4 or 5 mile stretch. We went up one side and then back down the other, swapping with the other team. Wading through reed beds, mud and very steep high banks. We were walking at an angle most of the time, and our feet ache like you would not believe. We looked everywhere. We searched the opposite bank with binoculars, just as the team on the other side did for our side. And the wind was unbelievably strong and cold. Thank heaven for leki poles - they were invaluable. I was on the mud flats for a while, and at one stage, even in walking boots, with a leki pole, I simply could not get up the bank. I had to retrace my steps to a part which was easier. And all the time you are thinking...... if I can't get up, how could he have managed? If I am so cold, how could he still be alive if he had been in the water too? Hyperthermia?

Physically and emotionally exhausting. We so wanted to find something. Anything. The support was amazing. Food stations with hot drinks and hot soup, and sandwiches. There was so much. When I popped into our local store this morning on the way, Michael, who owns it, donated a case of high energy drinks when he heard where we were going. So kind.

So here I am at home, and in need of a long hot bath to ease the aching muscles and bones. But at least they ache. I can feel. I am alive. Jono?? Realistically speaking, it would take a miracle of epic proportions. I have to keep believing in miracles.

I am so glad we went. I am so glad that we tried. I am so sad we didn't find him.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Today is Mothering Sunday here in the UK. We don't have "Mother's Day" in May. And it started in the best way, with a cup of coffee from my son, together with the info that he had unpacked the dishwasher and restacked it. Perfect present for this mother.

I went to church this morning, and it was a beautiful service, celebrating mothers and each lady in the church was given a small posy of flowers, as is the tradition here. Daffodils. It was lovely. Life was good. When I came home, David told me that both my other children had phoned, and then the phone rang again.

I expected it to be a far off child. It wasn't. It was a friend to tell me that one of our friend's sons was missing.

Every mother's nightmare.

He is not small. He is 18 and in his first year at uni, and a delight. He is one of David's friends, and I have known him since he was a little lad.

He went home for the weekend to celebrate Mothering Sunday, his Mum's birthday, and his girlfriend's birthday. He and his friends were out on Friday night, and walked home from a party at 3am, alongside a river. There was a howling gale at the time. One minute he was there and the next he was gone.

And so the search goes on. It is now nearly 40 hours later. Our Mother's Day. His shoe has been found on the river bank. It is all over the news. Tomorrow, the police have asked for volunteers to go to help search the miles and miles of riverbanks. It is fenland where he lives, and the river is a tidal river. I have spent the evening on the phone rounding up volunteers, after a request from the family, and it is astonishing just how many are prepared to take the day off work.

Astonishing? Not really. If it was my son, I would hope people would be there. Good people live here. Downham Market is nearly 2 hours drive away, but people are going. Old people. Young people. And each and every one is praying for a miracle. The search has been called off for the night. And it will be the longest night for his mother and for his father, and for his brother.

He is not my son, but it feels like he belongs to all of us. And I feel so helpless.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Decorating for Easter

As I said, inside my house, I have decided Spring is here, and so today I did the Easter tree, and a few more bits as well.

This is the wreath on the front door.....

The Easter tree is in the entrance to the house, and it looks great there. Mum found the little china lambs on sale somewhere and they are perfect. I was going to wire the flowers onto the branches, but in the end, blutack did the job just fine. I cut the branches from my apple tree, as I didn't have any of the curly things you are supposed to have, but anything will do really. The babes came round this afternoon and they loved it.

Daffodils in the kitchen. And in the lounge, and everywhere........

I forgot to pack away this tree after Christmas. I bought it on a sale a couple of years ago, and it is a brown twiggy thing, with LED lights which change colour. (Son # 2 has told me that they are fibreoptic. What do I know. Clearly nothing about lights. They go on and I like them. That is fine for me!)It didn't look particularly Christmassy, so I left it up, and today, I hung Easter eggs all over it, and it looks perfect!
And here it is tonight. The lights change colour and it works beautifully as a rather large Easter tree. And it most certainly cheers up the kitchen!
And this is one of a pair of spring candles I have on the coffee table in the lounge.

So I am decorated and the house is bright and cheerful and no matter if Spring is officially a few weeks away, right here it has started! The blossom is out on all the trees in the village, so I feel quite justified.

I had a string of visitors this afternoon, which was lovely. Peter, then Louise, then the babes and their parents arrived, so it was exactly as I love my home....full of laughter, noisy and fun.

Have a great weekend, everyone!