Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Happy birthday George

Anyone out there figured out how to be in two places at once?
Was that a big, fat, no?
I suspect it was.
Well, if I ever fathom it out, I'll be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, I'll carry on regardless, wishing it was possible.
For instance, on the day of the annual hog roast in our local village, it was also George Michael's tribute birthday in the village of Goring.
Because Mark, myself, and Tommy, visited Goring only recently, it wasn't really practical (or Mark's preference) to return again so soon. Plus, I had promised Tommy fete games in the church garden across the road.
Therefore, I improvised.
I began the day in my George Michael t-shirt.
I cooked scrambled eggs, whilst bopping away to Wham! and shouting, "I'm your man!" in my loudest vocal range.
Then Tommy and I discussed cake stalls and fete games.
Next Tommy and I held a pretend tea party, with vegetables and croissants, and a little George music in the background.
"Mummy, is this George Michael?" inquired Tommy.
"Yes it is," said I.
"You're not allowed to sing or dance to him," said Tommy.
He's very strict with me. Or maybe I'm just a terrible singer and dancer.
I peeked at George's Facebook page, with a heavy heart I saw the celebrations had began in his village. But I was also reminded it was supposed to be a day of rejoicing his music and the joy he'd brought to so many people.
I turned the music up louder and forgot Tommy didn't want me to sing.
He forgave me though, we played Hungry Hippo for ages.
As white balloons were released outside George's house (I watched courtesy of a live video on Facebook, from the comfort of my mobile), Tommy excitedly jumped on his bike and off we set to the annual hog roast.
It did not disappoint.
Tommy made friends with the local kids, they ran around the grave yard pretending to shoot each other. I chatted to the man from the antique shop outside the beer tent. Tommy and I ate too much cake and played hook a duck for far too long.
Happy birthday dear George, hope you were having a party up there whilst we were all missing you down here.
And I have decided, it is kind of possible to be in two places at once after all.

My tribute t-shirt. I wore it with pride all day.

My tea party with Tommy.

This way daddy.

Annual hog roast.


We decorated a gingerbread man.

It tasted delicious.

See you next year.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The story within

We were balancing plates, nibbling chicken wings, making polite conversation, when she asked that dreaded question.
"Would you like another child, Nikki?"
The honest, nonchalant, answer would have been a simple, yes.
Under any other circumstances, I might have succumbed to the easy route and just said yes.
Whether it was the heat, Prosecco, or proximity, I did not nod politely and reply with a positive, basic, yes.
I told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I explained, with plate and drink perched, and whilst other friends were in the garden area, that for the past three years, almost immediately after Tommy's birth, Mark and I have tried to create a sibling for him.
Frustrated and concerned, there have been numerous appointments for advice and guideance. Scans, fertility drugs, false hopes, brutal conversations, shattered dreams. Myself and Mark have experienced them all.
Not to mention a bucket full of guilt, on my part. It's my problem, my eggs are now practically rubbish.
I'm sorry Mark and Tommy.
As usual, Mark has been completely understanding, patient and optimistic.
I dread the day Tommy asks why he hasn't a brother or sister, or admits he craves or fantasies that we are a four member family. For personal reasons, the one thing I didn't want was for Tommy to be an only child. I guess it wasn't my decision to make.
At nearly forty four years old I have to admit almost defeat. And of course be ever thankful that we produced Tommy.
I will continue to love and appreciate Tommy and Mark, and achieve everything in my power to ensure Tommy's life is full to the brim with love and happiness, friends and family.
We are fortunate that we have friends with similar aged children. Children I will encourage Tommy to grow and nurture with. Also, when he reaches school age I will always welcome his friends to our house for play dates, dinner times and sleepovers.
Whilst balancing plate and drink one Saturday afternoon, my friend was noticeably surprised and concerned when I opened up about our predicament.
There were only a handful of people in this world who were aware. For I can sometimes remain very private with regards to my story within.
Yet sometimes, I admit, it's healthy to share our journey, our thought process.
In one way or another, we are all soldiering on. Some days it's good to talk about stuff.
I recall the great Robbin Williams once quoting, "Be kind to each other, you never really know what battles people are facing."
Ain't that the truth.
I'll leave you with pictures of that Saturday afternoon, and Tommy playing with the kids.
Feeling ever so grateful that we have them in our lives.

All the kids. Love the way Tommy is looking at his cousin and the watergun. Can you see him?

Pool time.

Tommy and cous Will. Sweeties under the trampoline.

Show us your bumps! How special, all experiencing second pregnancy together and all future babies will grow together. Of course I wish I was in the picture too, boasting my bump, but some things aren't meant to be.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The unexpected picnic

It was a sunny Sunday morning. Tommy was playing with his Optimus Prime (Spider-Man, you have a rival). Mark and I were casually sitting on the sofa, catching up with each other and the television.
Scrambled eggs and hot chocolates were digesting, and all three of us were still in our jim jams.
Suddenly, Mark's mobile beeped.
"Oh no, we've been invited to a picnic," said Mark.
Allow me to explain Mark's dismay, for some unknown reason to man, he is against picnics. I always remind him that it's just food and drink outdoors, what's not to like? Weirdo.
"Oh no, not today?" said I.
Allow me to explain my predicament, I do not like surprises. I relish in planning and preparation, besides I was looking forward to a day chilling at home.
"Yippee, a picnic!" said Tommy.
Tommy is three years old and loves eating and drinking outdoors, he is also fond of surprises.
Seeing my son's joyful reaction, I was reminded that sometimes the unexpected is fine. Although I tried not to panic when I remembered I hadn't washed my hair yet, and we were due a big shop.
Tommy was literally bouncing with excitement, whilst I ran up the stairs to clean my hair, and ran around the kitchen to see what I could contribute.
"Katy said she's made enough food for us all," said Mark, in his usual there's nothing to stress about manner.
"We can't turn up empty handed!" wailed I, as I stuffed cold drinks, crisps, strawberries, cucumber wipes and a football into my brown bag. I sighed, it would have to do in the short time span.
Then I ran around the house, collecting clothes, throwing them at Mark and Tommy whilst ordering them to dress themselves, as I tried to squeeze into my floral summer dress.
Phew, it's amazing what you can achieve in half an hour when you really put your mind to it.
We had a fabulous day. The sun shone, the kids played nicely, and Katy packed a marvellous feast.
And Mark said he now likes picnics.
I repeat, Mark now likes picnics.
I am ecstatic.
Hooray for the unexpected picnic.

Yes Tommy is doing a funny walk.



Stick house.

Playing in the meadow.

Searching for the perfect picnic spot.

The unexpected picnic.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Who brought the Gruffalo?

The first barbecue of the year.
What a momentous occasion.
According to my life, it signifies the summer has officially arrived. For it is finally considered warm enough to dine in the garden.
I love lunching in outdoor space, as long as those pesky flies and naughty wasps leave me alone. I now come aided with (hearts and ladybirds) food covers, so that's one less world wide problem to worry about.
Arh the smell of burgers burning and the sting of smoke in the eyes, you can't beat it. With a cold beer or glass of wine to hand.
If you're lucky, there won't be a single drop of rain. No dashing indoors, or erecting umbrellas, or soggy paper plates. The absence of these are the best barbecues.
If you're really lucky, the weather forecast will predict your local area to remain dry with sunny periods. And it will be correct!
Side salads have never tasted so good, the abundant choice of sauces will blow your mind.
Trifle in a polka dot bowl and strawberries and cream in teacups, resting on a gingham tablecloth.
But don't forget your factor fifteen, if that orange thing is shining bright. Or you will regret it in the morning. That tell tale sign of a pink to red glowing skin will advertise the fact you happily removed your cardigan/v-neck jumper/light weight jacket.
If your al fresco experience fell on a Sunday, you could return to the office on a Monday with a hint of garlic and alcohol on your breath, back in your cardigan/v-neck jumper/light weight jacket, umbrella just in case. Wondering if you imagined that sweaty, gluttonous, slice of heaven.
The great British barbie.
Music is optional, laughter is vital.
Sharing the experience with friends is preferable.
As are silly faces and a Gruffalo.

Preparation. Summer fruit and orange and mango through a straw.

Playing nicely before the food was ready.

Lost in their own imagination.

When you're trying to eat your lunch and some crazy kid keeps pulling silly faces.

Silly faces lunch, part two.

Who brought the Gruffalo?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Not quite Christopher Columbus

Approximately two years ago, I discovered Blackmore.
Okay, it isn't quite on the same par as Christopher Columbus discovering America.
Yet I was pretty pleased when I stumbled across the quintessential village that is Blackmore.
I couldn't love the village I currently live in any more, unless it was called Blackmore.
This is not because I imagine I am so superior I'm entitled to change village names. Nor do I think it would be best for everyone if the place I call home, is suddenly called Blackmore.
The reason being, Blackmore is a neighbouring village, and it's a beauty.
I'm thinking one day we might actually live there. Presently it's too far from my parent's house, and neither of them are keen on driving these days. Plus, we are hoping Tommy will attend the village school which is about two minutes from our cottage. And property for sale in Blackmore is few and far between, in a very high price bracket.
Besides, I love where we live. There are many advantages and we are perfectly happy thank you. I would even go as far as to say, I feel lucky to live in such a place. It's the type of area where strangers actually say hello to each other.
You can keep your busy towns, these are beneficial for shopping, I'll stick to the village life if it's all the same to you.
Maybe one day circumstances and finances will change and Blackmore will be an achievable option. You never really know what's around the corner, do you? Sometimes stuff changes beyond your control. Or a decision is made over something you have often thought about, but not sure if it was ever possible.
And we can always visit Blackmore whenever we fancy. It's a short car journey away, with delightful tearooms, antique shops, and the all important village green.
The green which hosts village fairs, great fun for all the family.

Blackmore tearoom and antique centre.

The village church. Very Midsomer Murders. Without the murders, hopefully.

Candyfloss and cold drinks at the village fair.

The longest lolly ever.

Choosing cake.

Lucky dip.

Chasing bubbles.

A bicycle made for six.

Homeward bound. What a splendid day.

Friday, 16 June 2017

More cheesy than a packet of cheese quavers

I've dated various, unsuitable, characters in my past.
But I don't wish to personally dwell on them too much.
"You've got to find someone with the same values and upbringing," my mother used to tell me.
Oh she must have frequently felt exasperated by my choices, and concerned about my future. I expect I gave her many a sleepless night.
Sorry mum.
Until I met Mark and it all clicked into place.
And my mother was right. (They often are, aren't they.) It's so important to hold the same values, and (preferably in my case) experience similarities with upbringing.
Our pasts mold us, our aspirations motivate us. And if they clash, conflict and divide, well it can be game over. With a bunch of stress and heartache along the way.
I feel as if I've finally found my tribe.
Mark and his family are the mirror images of my own. And it's a breath of fresh air, as it hasn't always been this way.
Stories of mark's childhood often remind me of my own. His parents and brother I can totally relate to, and I love the fact he too is close to his cousins, aunts and uncles, not only in bonding but in distance.
Mark's cousin's daughter married her significant one a couple of weeks ago.
We had both looked forward to the occasion. Knowing it would be another momentous day, with family, champagne, cake, and a new outfit.
Mark and I even booked ourselves into a hotel to vacate to, after the fish and chips and chardonnay.

Plus a hairdresser's appointment on their wedding day, for a hair up and down. I have never done this before, sat in a salon whilst my hair was styled for a big day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our room for the night.

Quintessential English church, the bride and her father. Otherwise known as Mark's cousin's daughter and husband.


Beautiful venue and grounds. Tommy made friends.

Lawn games.


Secret doors. Well they weren't that secret but I told Tommy they were secret gardens with adventures to be discovered. Just look at him run.

Pondering about life.

The three of us.

Dessert. Delicious.

Top table.

Mark and I messing about in hotel room.

Cheesy, I know. But I'm glad I found him. Finally.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The school summer fete

"Stop the car!" I almost screamed at Mark.
He couldn't stop the car, it would have been unsafe to do so. But he promised me he would slow down next time he passed the sign, to enable us to read its announcement.
It looked familiar, the sign I mean. Thus, I was sure it was the official signage for the school summer fete.
Oh I do love a summer fete. Particularly one which is held at the village school, approximately two minutes from our home and hopefully the school Tommy will be attending next year. (Yikes, next year! Hey, that's a whole blog post of its own!)
Such simple, old fashioned fun, the summer fete. As the years stretch by, I realise that I am a simple, old fashioned girl. So this sort of day out suits me just fine. It's one where I can encourage Tommy to enjoy the simple things in life, such as ball games, balloon chasing and making stuff.
It also doesn't have to cost a fortune, you can't begrudge a 50p entrance fee, then it's up to you how you monitor your spending with fete stalls and ice-cream vans.
This year I invited my friend Eve and her daughter Faith to the occasion. I thought it would be nice for Tommy to have a play mate, and of course for me to catch up with a dear friend.

Faith and Tommy. Forever friends.

Ice lollies and balloons- they couldn't be happier.

Checking out his wheels.

Wearing mummies big glasses.

Making magic wands.