Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th is a wonderful day in this family........


Friday 13th February. 

A date for celebration, rejoicing, and, contrary to ridiculous superstition, a very, very lucky day for our family. 

I remember another Friday 13th, a few decades ago - the one when my daughter was born. Not that she was due to arrive that day - she was 10 days early. In fact, as I am sure I have mentioned annually ever since, when I went to see my doctor on 12 February back then, he asked "So, are you ready to have this baby soon?" "Any day except tomorrow." I replied, cheerfully. 

So of course I went into labour at midnight. 

It was inevitable. 

Diana was born 11 hours later. 

It was the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It is strange, you know - my sister was born on 1 September. My mother was determined to have a spring baby, not a winter one. Now she has an autumn birthday. My birthday was in winter for 35 years. Now it is in spring/summer. Diana's was in summer, and today, it is in mid winter. Next year, however, she may well be back to partying on the beach. 

Hemispheres do that. They change things slightly. 

Birthday parties in February in Cape Town revolved around water. Pools. Ice cream. Swimsuits. Shorts. T-shirts. Blue skies. Heat. 

This is one of the parts of moving countries which you tend to overlook. Seasons and how they affect the family high days and holidays. All so different. 

Anyway, there are memories everywhere. Photos of Care Bear cakes. Videos somewhere of young girls playing that chanting clapping game - the name of which I cannot for the life of me remember - in a circle. Attempts at synchronised diving into the pool all in pink. Shell suits. Guessing games. Caterpillar cakes. Sleepovers. Human pyramids on the lounge floor. Laughter. Fun. 

Winter or summer - the celebration of her birth continues. It doesn't matter where she is - here, there, or way over the world. My daughter is a remarkable young woman, who is dearly loved, and always celebrated. 

Happy Birthday, Diana! We love you very much. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A little hectic around here......

Thursday - somehow, today has turned out to be over-packed with things to do, so I have called a halt to those things and am taking a break. 

Diana is still in the Alps, having a wonderful time in stunning weather - you know the kind - white snow on mountains, blue skies and plenty of sun. Yes. That. It is lovely that the weather is behaving. And also lovely that she can have time with her aunt and uncle. 

For those of you who don't know, Diana has been appointed to a national post in the Anglican Church in New Zealand. Her responsibility is for families and children, and her role will be to guide, teach, encourage, and resource them up and down the country. A big job. Lots of travel. Lots of challenges. And I am so proud of her. So, around here, the packing has been in progress, because she starts work at the beginning of March. On the other side of the globe. 

While she has been away, I have been finishing off the bits of sewing she asked me to do, pacing, and generally trying to anticipate any flaw in any plan. 

Completely useless, of course, but exactly what mothers tend to do. 

The brain doesn't rest, even when the body goes on strike. 

Anyway. Today started with ferrying my son to the bus for work at an early hour, followed by laundry, collection of medical note, collection of Glynis and Jean, and an aquazumba class. 

Then came all the rest of the stuff, which included collecting Mum and heading off to do the grocery shopping. My favourite. (I am kidding. I loathe it.) And I am supposed to be at the first new house group meeting this afternoon, and I admit that I just gave up and apologised for my absence. Can't move any more. 

Missy is 6 next week. My older son starts a new job next week. Diana is home next week. She goes to London next week. 

So yesterday, I went and had a Linds Special at the beauty salon. That is the hand in wax thing. I dip my hands in wax 3 times, they are encased in mittens, and I get to lie in a darkened room for half an hour, listening to mood music by candlelight. The absolute best. I HAVE to relax. Nothing else is possible. This is one of the therapies we had when I was an inpatient at the CRPS unit in Bath, and bless their cotton socks, Gem and the girls at our local Pink Rose, decided they could do it for me too. Now and then. Yesterday. It was exactly what I needed. 


And, on a lighter note, I have acquired one of those noodle makers, which you use to turn courgettes and carrots into noodly thingys. Courgettes (zucchini) have never tasted so good. I may graduate to a larger more complicated thingy one of these days, but this little one was a revelation. Such fun! 

I am off to make a chicken pie, I think. Then I can sink into a stupor in the chair......

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Wherein we discover Bill's...........

Day 2 in London brought grey damp weather, but, nothing ventured, and all that, so we checked out of the hotel and headed to the place Diana's had found while lying in bed at an early hour. She googled "Pancakes Covent Garden". And hit the jackpot.

But first, let me tell you how we got there. On the bus again. We hopped on to the bus, and sat down in the same place we had been sitting the night before, only we were sort of jammed. Wedged in place and breathing was a trifle complicated. We could NOT work out why we didn't fit on the seat. We fitted 12 hours before. And then, the light bulb moment, we realised that neither of us had been carrying rucksacks the night before. At this point, I was lying across the gangway trying to unhook my rucksack and it was proving to be huge entertainment for the rest of the bus. Thank the Good Lord that the person sitting in front of us decided to get off at the first stop, so I lurched into the new seat, and my rucksack could breathe. So could we. 

I mean really. How could we be so dim witted? Probably needed sugar. Or caffeine. 


The place Diana had found was right next door to the Lyceum theatre. Genius. Bill's. Well. Take a look at our breakfast. 


Blueberry and buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, bananas and strawberries. And bacon. 


This was a first for me. Well, french toast dusted with icing sugar and served with maple syrup is nice and the closest to this, but I have never tried the pancake (sweet), fruit and bacon (savoury) combination before. I know Americans do this. It is just not that often tried here. But I LOVED it. 

I make pancakes - I always have done for the children, only I call them dropped scones, and pancakes are the flat things you roll up for Shrove Tuesday. With lemon and cinnamon. My Gran called pancakes/dropped scones flapjacks. But flapjacks here are oaty undercooked bars. We overcooked them in SA and called them crunchies, and they were thin, not fat. 

Things are the same and yet oh, so different, aren't they? I am now in a cultural bird's nest in my head. 


The booths at Bill's were lovely too. So was the coffee. Just be sure to ask for TAP water. WE made sure we drank every drop from that shiny new bottle. 


So, we waddled out the doors, and decided to walk to Covent Garden, which was a building or so away. The cobbles didn't help the walking at all, and Diana went and perched against a pillar while I had a quick look around. There are NO seats anywhere, unless you go to another restaurant, and we were exploding from all the food already. 

In the end, we made it to M&S, I had another long drawn out black coffee and the rain started, so we decided to grab a taxi, and go to the station, even though we were very early for our train. Thankfully, when we arrived, we discovered a Mobility Lounge. Somewhere for those of us challenged physically to sit, and, more to the point, a place where little pope-mobile cars were based. We were driven in splendour to our train, when it finally arrived. 


Our little trip worked for us. We had a lovely time, and even though we didn't quite have the foreign adventure we planned, we had a great home one anyway. More memories to cobble together. 


So, back to home life. Yesterday, I had another ultrasound appointment to check out my wrist at a very early hour, so I took David in to work early, and sat with my puzzle book and waited for 9 am. The coffee shop behind those green shutters only opened at 8. I was 4th in the queue. 


This morning, Mum and I took Diana to the airport to fly to Switzerland. She is having a week or so away to see Marge before her epic trip. She got to try out the assisted boarding, which has made travelling so much easier for me. And, unlike her mother, she managed to get 3 seats to herself to stretch out across. This is the girl who also set off on an adventure around the world alone at 18, and the very first flight from the UK, she was upgraded to business class. Humph. 

She has just sent a text to say she has landed in Der Schweiz. All is good. 

See? Adventures all over the place here. It is all about perspective. I did a trip to Lidl. Adventure?? 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

I DID something on the list.......

This is the year I am going to DO stuff, remember.

I went on an adventure last Friday. Well, my daughter and I went on an adventure. We had planned to go away for a weekend to some place neither of us had been before, like Helsinki, Trondheim, Lisbon....

However, time ran away from us, and, given that neither of us is in a position to walk further than a couple of steps without complications, we decided to DO something. To cross something off my list. To make it possible to go and enjoy something new. 

So, armed with foam blocks, ear plugs, medication and a change of clothing, we set off for London. As we could get incredibly reasonable tickets in advance, Diana decided we would go first class. This simply means that someone writes First Class on the windows and it is likely you will have a seat, by the way. We discovered this quickly. 


And, once ensconced on the train, we sat. And sat. And sat. And went nowhere. Finally, there was a series of announcements re a problem on the track ahead, and so, after well over an hour, and with a few trainloads of people now waiting, we were moved on to an extended train. Then they declassified First Class, and all the rabble (I can say that, even though I am usually part of the rabble) burst into our compartment. We closely resembled sardines, but we were finally on our way to London. 

The guard announced that we were welcome to claim compensation as per the regulations, and before we made the first stop, my daughter had sorted that one out. We wait to see what happens next. 

I tell you, we took a great many selfies in 24 hours. You will get to see some of them, grainy though they may be. I need a proper camera which will take night photos. 

We were sitting there, talking about where we were going, and Diana started laughing, and informed me that I looked like Mufasa. 

Hah. Now you know where we were going......

The collar of my cardigan looked like a mane. 

Right. I like to look the part. 

We finally arrived in London, and were virtually the last off the very long train, and were hobbling our way up the ramp to the station concourse, when a herd of wild animals came stampeding towards us. 

Actually, the wild animals were people, who had obviously been waiting for a couple of hours for the delayed trains, and they charged for the platform the moment the number was displayed on the board, and believe me, two women with walking problems were totally ignored. We had to flatten ourselves against the wall - Diana on crutches and me with the stick. It was terrifying. 
One of the things we both noticed ever so clearly, was the complete lack of any form of empathy in London. On the streets. The hotel and the theatre could not have been more accommodating. People just seem to care only for themselves, and mow over anyone in their way. 


The Royal Festival Hall is on the left, the red thing is the London Eye and in the middle you can see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. 
We stayed at a hotel near Waterloo station, and this is very much Diana's home territory, because her university (King's College) is at the Strand, and she graduated at the Royal Festival Hall, and went ice skating in Somerset House. It is a part of London she knows very well. 

So we took a taxi to the hotel, and flopped on the beds for a while before setting off for the chosen restaurant for an early supper. It happened to be a block from the hotel, in the direction of the theatre, so that was good. The GBK proved to be as good as we hoped, and the avocado bacon burgers were fantastic. The best bit though, was the bowl of little fries, Just sensational. (The photo of them is down below. I can't move it at the moment.)

You can tell I don't eat out often, can't you??

St Paul's, the Gherkin, the Shard, and assorted other Important Places. 
After supper, we rolled out of the restaurant just as the evening rush was beginning, and found a bus to take us the couple of stops across the river, and then we walked back to take some photos. Grainy. But we were there. 


And then, we reached the theatre, just at the top of the road. I tell you, things could not have been more simple. It was all right there. The legs just needed to be in working mode. I did look so incredibly elegant clutching my bag of foam. I will cover it one of these days, but the whole thingwas an experiment to see if it worked. If I could go to a show. And survive. The foam, by the way, worked very well on the bus. Busses are not known for smooth rides. They rattle and shudder. 


I can't tell you how excited we were. Diana picked up the tickets and we hobbled inside. Our seats were AMAZING. We were in the stalls, in a wide gangway, so had plenty of room to stretch out the legs. 

The grins were very wide. I looked at the rows of drums with a baleful eye, but you know, when it all started, the music was not all that amplified. There were bad moments, of course, but the foam, the meds and the ear plugs deadened a lot of the sound and vibration, but I could still hear the music. I had to sit forward at times, but we will modify the foam next time. And there will be a next time. The Sangoma was just sensational. The whole things was unbelievably beautiful, and where we were sitting, the cast ran right past our feet as they flew around the auditorium. 


The old theatres in London are really beautiful. 



We had the most amazing evening. And then we caught a bus back to Waterloo Station, and walked to the hotel. Slowly. 

Even at approaching 11pm, the city was full of people. It never stops. And neither do those people. Diana was trying to get onto an escalator in the station, and no-one paused to let her on to it - they pushed past with no respect for her. I got to the bottom, turned around and saw her still struggling and couldn't believe how uncaring the world appeared to be.

Nothing could have dampened our delight in our day, though. It was worth it all. 


Those little fries, I talked about up there at the top. We still hanker after them, let me tell you. They were that good. 

So, we fell asleep. We were mega tired, and in fact, I am still falling asleep as soon as I sit anywhere. I will tell you about Saturday tomorrow. I need some coffee if I am going to stay awake and it is only 12.40pm. 


I started with the snow - on Friday morning, we awoke to a white world - finally some snow fell on the village and it all looked so beautiful. Not a lot, and not enough to cause a problem, but snow, nonetheless. It is very cold at the moment, but it really feels like winter now. It has been mild so far. 

I hope the sun is shining for you today.....