Sunday, 31 August 2014

It began with a latte

This week began with a latte. I was ridiculously early for a meeting in London, with a potential new supplier, so I stopped off for a latte and watched the world walk past.

I booked the day off mid-week to spend with Tommy. Here he is laughing in his bedroom, in his PJs still.

The weekend was embraced with welcome arms. Friday night, myself, Mark, Mark's dad, and Tommy ate at our favourite Thai restaurant. Well Tommy had milk and rice cakes and played with his nursery rhyme book.

Saturday I saw my friend Eve and her gorgeous daughter, my god daughter. We went to the park. Tommy loves the swings.

We enjoyed milkshakes at The Tea Cosy, the cafe opposite the park.

Sunday we spent the day in one of the prettiest (and largest) gardens I know. It was a friend's daughter's birthday party. There was an entertainer and lots of children running about.

They even have a tree house, in the prettiest (and largest) garden I know.

Tommy played for quite a while in the playhouse.

There was a pretend sink which Tommy found fascinating.

Hi Tommy!

Here's my beautiful nephew.

Tommy even had a ride in a pink car.

Then it all ended with birthday cakes. What a nice ending.

And I didn't even mention that I nearly sliced my finger off with the hand blender Thursday night and spent four hours in A&E. Yes it hurt.
What am I like.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

An alien, a woman and a genie

So there I was rushing around the house like a bargain hunter at a Primark closing down sale, when Mark’s three little words stopped me dead in my tracks.
“Robin William’s dead.”
I stopped stuffing spare clothes into Tommy’s essential items bag, and gasped.
“Robin Williams, the funny one? How?”
I gasped even louder and nearly dropped the essential items bag.
But he was a comedian, he was always making people laugh, he was always happy, wasn’t he?
Well apparently not.
I looked at Tommy, who was making frustrated noises at his milk bottle, which was standing next to his lunch box, which was waiting to be packed inside the car, and wondered about Robin’s children. How the heck do you tell kids something like that? I remembered seeing a picture of his children in the newspaper once, they were older than Tommy, and old enough to understand what suicide meant and the pain that accompanied it.
I confess, in the past, to a low tolerance towards the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Loosing a loved one is hard enough, but to know they chose to leave you and leave all the mess behind they’d created, I found that hard to swallow.
Despite the fact I had never met the man, Mr Williams cause of death contradicted my previous views on suicide. Because he'd always come across as so sweet and charming, and very, very funny. I couldn’t find it in me to despair of his last act on earth and mention the word selfish. He was obviously very, very unhappy.
Mental illness is, luckily, not something I am familiar with. Severe depression has, luckily, escaped me. Sure I've been down, but there has never been a time where I've thought the only answer is to end it all.
I couldn't remove the morning's disturbing news from my head, as I spent the remainder of the time in my house preparing for my day ahead.
It unnerved me that someone as popular, as loved, as talented, and let's face it very, very, rich as he could be so desperately depressed that they could think that's it, I have to kill myself.
Mark and I finished dressing Tommy and packing the car in silence. Somehow we'd lost our sense of urgency. For did it really matter if we were a few minutes late and I missed my usual train? There'd be another one soon enough.
But there wouldn't be another Robin Williams.
Once all three of us were safely seat belted, Mark switched on the radio. It was flooded with news and tributes to the comedian/actor. I checked Facebook and Twitter on my mobile, as expected the world was in shock and mourning.
Apparently he had many demons, alcohol and drugs and severe depression all took their toll. "Perhaps other people will be encouraged to talk about their depression and seek help before it's too late," was a much quoted sentence on August 11th 2014.
Let's hope so.
Mark drove me to the train station where I hugged Tommy goodbye, a little tighter than usual. I kissed Mark goodbye, a little fiercer than usual. I was thankful for our simple life, our cheery, uncomplicated life and attitudes.
I bought my train ticket and boarded my train and still I couldn't stop thinking about Robin Williams. Over the years he had embraced my television screen. I recalled laughing out loud at his portrayal of an alien living on earth, his extremely funny adaptation of a woman pretending to be a man, and his genius comedy act where he was a genie for a little boy.
He could do all those marvellous things, but he just couldn't be happy.
Sad, isn't it.
I hope he's at peace now.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

My speedboat adventure

Wow, it's not every day you get to whiz along the River Thames in a speedboat.
It was my friend Laura's 40th birthday celebration. We met for lunch and then sped past the London sights.

To start with. A selection of bread with dips.

For the main. Chicken with crushed new potatoes, green veg and a blue cheese filled thing (can't remember the name of the thing).

The beginning of the boat trip.

This is not an exaggeration. I have never screamed so loud and held on so tight.

The London Eye. A mere 135 metres tall, Europe's tallest Ferris wheel, London's highest viewing point.

Tower Bridge. Built in 1886-1894. Popular legend, in 1968 Robert McCulloch bought London Bridge thinking it was Tower Bridge. Mistaken identity, oops.

Millennium Bridge. Opened 10th June 2000, but had to be closed after two days for two years, due to wobbling.

Palace of Westminster. Built Middle Ages, demolished 1834 due to fire, rebuilt 1840-70. It's the meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

By the way, I looked all this information up online. It was an historical tour, but we were all so busy screaming after the speed restriction that I think all knowledge escaped from my brain cell, out via my mouth, and into the murky water.

But hey, it reminded me how much I love London. And how glad I am that I met my friend Laura, at that airport, twenty one years ago.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Pancakes for breakfast

For a special birthday treat, I made pancakes for breakfast. It was Mark's birthday and he loves pancakes.

Then off we went to our local pub to meet friends for lunch.

As pubs go, it's a pretty one. There's a water feature in the garden.

The outside bar has flowers propped against it.

There's a rather fetching view of the countryside.

Plus it sells rather nice grub.

Tommy checked out his youngest rival.

I brought a rug and toys for Tommy and co to play on.

It was a lovely day, I think they would both agree.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ice-cream and rain coats

And so it's time for us to wave goodbye to July.
It's been a hot, sticky and stormy month. The first barbecues of the summer have been mostly spoilt by rain clouds and bolts of lightening. Soggy bread rolls and wet crisps on a rain drenched table.
Games on our local cricket green have been cancelled, people scuttling for shelter, exclaiming it's a typical British summer!
More than usual the weather has been discussed, "Isn't it hot! Could you sleep last night?" or "Did you hear that thunder earlier?" have been top topics in the office canteen.
Umbrellas and suntan lotion have been flying off the shop shelves. Commuters on the train range from a whiter shade of pale to a shocking tone of lobster red.
Weather forecasts on the Internet, television and newspaper have been frequently referred to. Shall we chance a day at the beach? A walk in the forest? Sun hats and Wellington boots on stand by.
July, you have melted the coldest of hearts with your temperature and woken the living dead with your thunder.
Ice-cream and rain coats.
Sun loungers and puddles.
These are some of the things which will remind me of July 2014.
But the biggest memory for me, the significantly important factor of the last month; Tommy learnt to crawl. And clap, not flap, actual proper clapping.
I'm so proud of him.