Thursday, 23 February 2017

Bouncy castles and party bags

It's become even more apparent in my life recently, that I'm not one for seeking other's advice and acting upon it.
To be honest, I find it slightly alien that some people can not make a decision regarding their own life without consulting everyone else first, and then basing their decision and action on the advice.
Surely you are the best person to decide your fate, to live your own life?
Of course I am flattered if someone does ask my opinion but it's often followed by, "You have to do what you feel comfortable with, what works for you."
And of course I wouldn't have the audacity to think I am an expert in every field, and not ask for advice from a professional, or an individual with the necessary knowledge, if required.
There are always exceptions to the rules.
However, I reached the conclusion a long time ago, that we are all leading different lives, with different personalities and different routines. Therefore, what works for one person could be totally unsuitable for the next.
Especially in relation to children.
I recall a friend once informing me, that she thought it imperative to join antenatal classes to bond with other soon to be mums, and then form relationships when the children are born to share experiences and concerns.
Guess what? I did not agree with this, or do this.
I'm not saying it's not a great idea for some, and I did join a couple of antenatal classes before birth day to find out from the experts what the hell I was letting myself in for.
But as for forming new relationship with expectant mothers, I knew that wasn't for me. I was fortunate that I had friends already in similar stages of life, friends I had known for years and already struggled to see on a regular basis. So I felt I wasn't really in a position to add new friends, maybe even to find out somewhere along the line that after sharing our birth stories, I realised I didn't actually like them very much! Plus, I am a great believer that you need to bond with your child in ways that work for you, whilst the NHS website and helpline are always on standby for the serious stuff.
As a mum, I can honestly say I've always tried my best and put Tommy first. Naturally, I've made mistakes on the way but that's life isn't it. You try things, you must learn from things if they don't work out, and you forever strive to succeed and lead a happy existence.
Kids parties are a very obvious place to view these different lives and personalities, which I am often reminded of. I've been thinking about this recently, due to the children's birthday parties we have been invited to.
I've looked around village halls and sports centres and noted the various types of mothers and their offspring.
There's the over protective mum, that's me I'm afraid, always worrying he's going to do something dangerous and hurt himself. The harassed mum, the one with lots of kids or maybe just one very boisterous one. The chilled mum, can be found sitting quietly in a corner sipping tea, looking suspiciously content. And the sociable one, the one who insists on walking around and introducing herself to everyone.
Not to mention the children.
The cautious one who clings to his mother's legs for at least the first fifteen minutes, that's Tommy by the way. The kid who bursts into tears at every five minute intervals, life can be tough for them and their parents. The angry kid who's loosing their rag at every opportunity, stamping feet and banging fists. Then there's the naughty kid, to be avoided if possible, for he's poking and pushing other children and tempting them with his wild ways. And last but definitely not least, the impeccably well behaved child (a very rare species) who is the envy of all the mums.
Funny old lot, aren't we.
Still, as my mum often says, wouldn't it be a boring world if we were all the same?

I shall leave you with some pictures of recent, non boring, kids parties.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Food for the soul

It didn't work.
(In reference to my last post.)
I went to bed in the usual manner; I set the time on my mobile alarm but noted it didn't have a 'required month you wish to wake in', and then promptly fell asleep.
Alas, I did not have a deep and meaningful sleep until March.
I tossed and turned, I had weird small dreams, and stirred many times.
Until my alarm signaled the beginning of another day. But it wasn't the correct day.
It was still bleak February!
So cold that I did not actually want to leave my bed.
An entirely dark bedroom which matched my mood.
And the germs! The germs were still there, without fail I fall ill in January and the germs stick round for far too long.
I gloomily realised it was time for action!
If I couldn't hibernate until Spring, I had to do something else.
It was treat time.
Who doesn't love a treat? That's what I figured mid-treats, therefore I also treated my mum.
I am a firm believer, treats are food for the soul. They don't even have to be big, just little things like Cadbury's Mini Eggs on a long train journey.
I was fortunate enough to receive a voucher from work, recognition of hard work achieving and contributing to the 35 published books target.
It was time to check in on Amazon.
Usually any spare money is spent on Tommy and the home. As my mum constantly reminds me, you need to treat yourself. So I did. My voucher was well spent on new boots (love my cowboy boots but they have holes in the soles, wet feet are not ideal), new going out dress (girls night out soon and I realised I can't wear the black spotty dress I've worn for the past four years) and a new work dress (could also be worn at weekends, how versatile) and a new soap dish and a glass bottle for my olive oil (old habits die hard).
It felt good.
Then I felt the urge to treat another human being. One who treats my son, myself and husband a fair bit - my mum. I ordered my mum a treatbox.
There's a fabulous website I stumbled across, you pick your gifts and they wrap them, place in box, write a label for you, and post them.
I happened to be at my mums when her treatbox arrived.
"I've got a treatbox!" she exclaimed.
She carefully unwrapped her box to reveal a chocolate teddy bear, a posh tea bag, a white heart with the word 'nanny', a coaster with the words 'always my mum, forever my friend' and little pegs decorated with cupcakes and flowers.
My work was done.
I was feeling tonnes better.
Oh and Mark and I bought a new car.
February, you are nicer than I anticipated.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Is it time to wake up yet?

I have this theory with regards to my arch enemy, January, and its partner in crime, February.
My thought process for this theory is as follows.
After the dizzy highs of Christmas, and consuming the last drop of New Year's Eve bubbly, I will surrender to New Year's Day junk food - I'm thinking McDonalds breakfast, cheese on toast lunch, a huge bar of chocolate and mint chic chip ice cream snack, finishing nicely with an Indian takeaway. Then I will loose myself in a gigantic bubble bath, before retiring to my freshly laundered bed, and have a lovely, long sleep. At least until March.
Bears do it, so why can't I? Not the bubble bath bit, or ordering an Indian takeaway come to think of it, I mean the long sleeping bit.
All those lovely dreams I would have. And how refreshed I would feel when I awoke!
I would avoid all that grey, dreary, drizzly, frosty weather. No more rising in the dark and leaving work in the dark. Not to mention all the money I would save. For in my fantasy world I would still be paid by my employer, despite actually being asleep.
Would I also sleep away my excess Christmas calories? I like to think so.
Yes I would wake up in March, far thinner than January's bedtime. Next I would stretch, and remark, "Goodness, that was a terrific sleep."
The sun would be streaming through the bedroom window and I would peer through the blinds and admire the turquoise sky and cherry blossom. The daffodils would be sprouting around the trees and the birds would be singing their morning chorus.
I think the great, long, sleep should be an optional choice from the government. Because I understand this would not suit everyone. But I do think it would suit myself, and Mark and Tommy would join me too. That way I wouldn't feel as if I had missed anything which my husband and child experienced, whilst I was in dream land.
Please note, I have just checked the bear fact, and according to Google they can hibernate for up to seven and a half months.
Crikey, I'm not that greedy. I wouldn't want to miss Spring, merely January and February please.
Anyone else care to join me?

Whilst you are pondering over this dilemma, I shall leave you with some New Year's Eve memories from party at friend's house.

Mark. Not his best picture, granted.

Tommy playing with a princess.

My friends. What a lovely looking bunch they are.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Club Tropicana, when the drinks were not free

I was reading my Twitter feed (again), overwhelmed by all the tributes to George from fans and celebrities, when I spied the advert for the George Michael tribute night.
Club Tropicana was the venue, the London one, where the drinks definitely were not free. Despite this financial fact, I was pleased to hear all money for tickets, food and drink, would be donated to the charities George supported.
So I immediately requested tickets and invited friends.
A little crowd of us agreed we needed to celebrate the joy George had provided through his music, whilst donating money to charity and spending time together.
I can honesty say I have never experienced an atmosphere quite like it, and probably never will again.
As sad as his passing was, hundreds of people were determined to have a good night. Everyone sang their hearts out, personal favourites and massive hits.
Even in the ladies toilets they were blasting his voice, and I happened to be queuing when Last Christmas was played, and I and complete strangers placed our arms in the air and we all sang along, and to each other. I doubt very much I will ever, again, see complete strangers in such unity.
The owner of the club was a personal friend of George's and had arranged entertainment such as quizzes, singing contests, look alikes, and the post it note wall to be donated to charity. Plus the one minute's silence - it was eerie and touching in equal measures.
Reluctant to leave, but not wishing to miss our last train, and still buzzing with the memories, we left with Tropicana hats and glasses.
After posing for photographs, with the press (alas, have not spotted any in print yet!) and for personal use, we finally left.
As we were departing through the double doors, next to the fake palm tree, I noticed the owner saying his goodbyes to guests. As he turned to me I bid him farewell, gave his arm a little squeeze and said, "You done him proud tonight."
He looked at me and thanked me.
Then he smiled the saddest smile.

Friday, 13 January 2017

You have been loved

So I decided to visit George's house in London and make and take a card from myself, and on behalf of my friend Ann and some of his lovelies on Twitter. (His words not mine, 'my lovelies'.)
I asked Twitter to let me know what they wanted to say and about fifteen fans did so and appreciated they could pay their respects this way. It made me feel better to be able to do this.
In fact, I walked away from his house as if a dark cloud had been lifted.
It's the green card with his pictures on. It was made that morning, thanks to pictures from his autobiography, glue and scissors. The book was a Christmas present a few years back, even features on this blog, and I never expected it to fulfill this purpose.
Bless Mark for driving Tommy and I to North London, I don't think every husband would be so keen to do so.
And bless Tommy for putting a smile on my face when he saw the wispa bar someone had placed on George's Range Rover, for he said excitedly, "Mummy there's chocolate on that car! Can I eat it?"
I didn't let him.
That would definitely have been careless.

I was blown away by so many flowers, cards, candles and presents. And still they keep coming. He really did touch so many people's lives.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The night the music died

I will never forget the moment I heard George Michael had died.
Christmas day 2016, 23:00 hours, my mobile beeped, it was my friend Jamie texting me: Oh
I was standing with a glass of Prosecco in one hand, wrapped in my Christmas bubble, with no idea my little bubble was soon to be well and truly burst.
Of course at the point of receiving this text, I didn't imagine in my darkest nightmares that it was to inform me of George's death.
I was concerned my friend may have experienced a drunken tumble, or perhaps a family fall out over who would carve the turkey, or a punch up with a pal who could no longer tolerate Cliff Richard singing about mistletoe and wine.
Nope, I did not for one dreadful second think his text would be followed by: I think you better put on the news Nikki. It's George, he's gone.
I may not be a rocket scientist, yet even I knew Jamie did not mean George had gone to Specsavers.
He'd gone from this world.
With shaking hands I googled his name and when I read the breaking news I just kept saying, "No, no, no, no, no."
It was the most awful end to a splendid day.
My phone continued to beep with other friend's asking if I had heard he had died peacefully in his sleep, and offering their condolences.
For 34 years he'd been my hero.
To be precise he was my brother's hero at first, and this soon rubbed off on me. My dear late brother even looked like George during the Careless Whisper days, and when he picked me up from a party once someone actually screamed, they thought George Michael had walked in the room!
All these precious memories came crashing down on me.
George had always been my happy place.
He was the most amazing and beautiful soundtrack of my life.
He'd entertained myself and friends on tonnes of joyous occasions.
I am fully aware he wasn't really a personal friend. I guess he was more of a virtual friend? Although I have met him in real life, what a day that was.
He once signed a record cover for me which I have learned he spoke about during a Holland interview, because he wrote, 'To Nikki, a very happy birthday, try not to loose your shoes, George Michael xxx' and it's not every fan he tells not to loose their shoes.
I have seen him perform live many times, watched and read more or less every interview (I'm now searching for that Holland interview) and tweeted him back more times than I care to admit.
He was also a kind and generous soul, some stories emerged during his life time, and many others since his death.
He donated goodness knows how much to charity, some via proceeds from records he didn't even make public knowledge at the time. He arranged a private free concert to the nurses who once cared for him. Plus he paid for IVF treatment for complete strangers after hearing on television they were trying to find the money, therefore a girl was brought into this world all because of him.
He was 53 years young.
Too young to be taken, so much still to give.
With a grieving family, friends and fan base on Christmas day 2016.
I don't think I slept a wink that night.

Friday, 30 December 2016

The December post

December, you stole my heart a long time ago.
Now every year I seem to love you more.
This year, the celebrations and expectations have been twined with the promise and excitement of Father Christmas.
And the elf. The mischievous elf who visits Father Christmas every night accompanied by reports of Tommy's good behaviour. Then he returns to our little cottage and climbs the Christmas tree, and other such fun places.
How could I not embrace you December, and the magic you sprinkle in our lives.

These are the best bits from our December:

A big Christmas tree this year, well bigger than the tree on top of the cupboard, as was the case in previous years. Can you spot the elf?

Cinderalla at local theatre, it was fabulous.

The day Tommy met Father Christmas. He went all shy.

Group picture. Tommy, daddy and granddad, with Father Christmas!

Christmas fair. I love a Christmas fair.

Handmade stalls. I felt the need to buy reindeer and Christmas tree pegs, and why not.

Tommy and the police car, at Christmas fair. He said it was his best bit of the day.

And the steam train.

Safe trip everyone!

I made Christmas cards for family, friends and my friend's tearoom.

Friend's tearoom, with the best cakes ever.

Tommy loves the rocky cake, and the toy box.

Every year I make the crackers and collect the tiny gifts.

Christmas Eve. Letter, milk and treats for Father Christmas. After the glittery reindeer food we scattered in the garden.

Christmas morning, checking out the snow from Father Christmas.

A very happy, excited boy on Christmas morning.

I hope you all had the best Christmas ever.

Brace yourself for the next post, things are about to get a whole lot sadder around here.