Saturday, 29 April 2017

Dear George (the final letter)

You were the voice on my cassette player at my 13th birthday party. The poster on my wall, the face on my pencil case, the assignment for my GCSE.
You were my first ever concert and I danced the night away. You were the music in my first car, the CD collection I brought to my first home.
You were the mask I wore on my hen do, the lyrics I sang on my wedding day. You even joined me on my honeymoon.
You were the autograph on Different Corner (you told me not to loose my shoes), the smile in my photograph (thank you).
You have always been my happy place, my inspiration.
The most amazing and beautiful sound track of my life.
Thank you George, for everything.
I will never stop missing you.

This is the story of a bitter sweet journey to a beautiful and peaceful village in Oxfordshire.

My final letter to George.

This where I left my letter. His house in Goring. So many tributes from all over the world.

Tommy made me laugh when he saw the teddies and said, "Mummy, I don't want to leave my toys here!"

George's house is next to a picturesque church and garden.

I went inside the church and signed the book of condolence for George.

His house is also situated next to the river. No wonder George loved living here. This is Tommy's face after I asked him to smile nicely.

A piggy back around the village. Don't you wish you could still do this?

A browse in Barbara's antiques.

Then we checked out our home for the night. The Miller of Mansfield, opposite George's house and one of his locals.

Our room. Tommy loved the walls, blue, his favourite colour.

Tommy's room. Even though he slept in our bed!


A light lunch at the Miller.

Silly faces. As you can see, I gave up trying to capture a flattering one of me. I hate my picture being taken, but I don't want to regret not having enough pictures of the two of us, so I settled for silly faces. Actually, sometimes these sort of moments are the best.

After shopping, walking, and a huge bubble bath, we dined at The Catherine Wheel. Another charming pub George used to vacate to.

George's favourite tipple, Martini Expresso. Cheers, God bless you George. And a massive heartfelt thank you to Mark for realising how much this meant to me and understanding the memories.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

101 days

"Don't worry, it's only 101 days until the next official holiday," said I to my horrified colleague, as we returned from the Christmas break. (Not sure if colleague was horrified at the thought of 101 days until the next holiday, or the fact I had actually counted the days.)
I was referring to Easter. The holiday where it is socially acceptable to eat huge chocolate eggs every day. Not surprising, it's one of my favourite times of the year.
I'm also in love with Easter as it sits in Spring, a season sprinkled with blossom and new beginnings.
I am a huge fan of planning, so after I returned from the Christmas break, I wasn't too fazed at the thought of 101 days of organising eggs hunts and decorations and baking.
I set to work straight away. I ordered a Peter Rabbit tin from etsy and searched for Easter ideas on Pinterest. This kept me content for a while. Next, I ventured to the bottom of the white chest for Easter egg hunt props from last year (I needed to remind myself of the contents).
Please note, I'm not saying I prepared for Easter every single one of those 101 days, I also needed to concentrate on my job, keep the house clean, and amuse Tommy, but I did my best.
As Good Friday was fast approaching, the shops came alive with chocolate eggs, colourful tulips, and Easter bunnies. I stocked up on presents for the family and purchased decorations at car boot sales.
Tommy and I then participated in crafts, we sat at his little table and cut things out and stuck things down until they mildly resembled egg decorations.
It was all coming together nicely.
I bought Carbury's Creme Eggs for my colleagues, and baked cupcakes and made Rice Krisipie cakes with Tommy. A lot of these cakes were eaten before they reached the food fridge and the vintage style tin, as you might expect.
I invited the family to our house, arranged to meet a friend for lunch, and Googled places of interest for the forthcoming long weekend.
Then finally, it arrived.
Easter, you were worth the 101 day wait.

Good Friday lunch with Tommy, special friend and god daughter. Colouring in and cake were a massive hit.

Tommy would absolutely not take the fork out of his mouth.

Before Tommy said, "I really like Faith. I want to go everywhere with her."

Getting ready for the Easter egg hunt in our garden.

And we're off!

Afternoon tea for the family. With cakes baked by myself and Tommy. And lots of tulips.

Spider-Man and Superman. Otherwise known as Tommy and his cousin.

Sunday lunch at my sister-in-laws. The kids played nicely mid course.

Easter Monday was spent in a picturesque village, with another Easter egg hunt in and around the barn.

Searching for letters and eggs, using the clues, to unravel the name to win the chocolate bunny.

Found one!

And another!

Distracted by toys.

Very happy with his chocolate bunny.

Next, a walk along the river.

The pretty village that is Coggelshall.

See you next year, Easter! As much as I love you, I'm glad you're only once a year, as you and your offerings have not helped my waist line at all.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Things I thought I would never do

I never thought I would sit in a tattoo studio with friend, allowing a hairy man to scar my wrist, whilst we all sang along to Different Corner. (Classic moment, by the way.)
Especially as I had often declared, "I'm never getting another tattoo!"
Because I already have a small tattoo on my lower back. It was considered a good idea many years ago, a bond between myself and two very special others. They both chose a symbol for friendship to be engraved on their thighs, and I decided on a different body part and etching - a symbol meaning 'Enjoy Oneself' at bottom of spine. Trust me to be different. The occasion will forever mean everything to me and these words are one of my motto's in this crazy life.
Over the years I have often been asked if I would be tempted with another, and I've always said no. (How many tattoos do I need, that's sufficient, thank you. I used to think.)
But I wasn't counting on George Michael dying on Christmas Day 2016.
Since the tragic moment I was alerted of his death, when my heart shattered at the thought of a world without him, I have wanted to honour and tribute his magic.
Therefore, I found myself in a tattoo studio once again. This time with symbols from George's album cover requested for my wrist. A respectful memory to his music and very significant words - faith, music, money, religion, love.
My dear friend also braved the needle and now she has the same. I like that. I like the fact our day began at the garden centre following my pansie purchase, afterwards we frequented a cafe for breakfast, next we had matching tats. It's also another cement in our fabulous friendship. Oh and then dear friend drove us home whilst we sang along to George songs very loudly.
So my advice now? Apart from be very sure of your tattoo as they are for life, not just for Christmas. Incidentally, I am over the moon with my new addition.
My advice is - never say never.
Next week I shall announce, lots of times, that I have never won the lottery and perhaps I never will.
(You can't blame a girl for trying, can you?)

Monday, 10 April 2017

New chapters and smashed handsets

I don't have a very good reputation, with regards to mobile phones.
There was the one I misplaced on an airplane, one I dropped in an ice bucket, one I lost in the pub, and one I left on the back seat of a taxi.
Then there's the countless phones I have dropped and smashed. In my defense, it was Mark who dropped my most recently purchased, expensive, iPhone. I think I had been the proud owner of this phone for approximately one week, when Mark dropped it on the pavement. It survived but the screen was totally smashed. It was a two year contract. I was not happy. But I had to put up with it. It still worked, it was just very difficult to read.
Finally, I decided to pay £65 for the screen to be fixed. Then approximately one week later, I dropped it on our flagstone kitchen floor. It was actually Tommy and I's birthday. I had been taking photographs and running around like a loony, when I knocked my phone and it fell face down. I looked at Mark and tried not to cry as I said, "That's not going to make it."
It didn't. And I still had a year to pay on my contract.
So I'm now using my other smashed iPhone. Alas, I fear it's about to give up on me, as more parts of the smashed screen keep disappearing and text keeps mysteriously moving by itself. (Yes it is creepy and colleague and I have already invented a story based around it, The Evil Mobile Phone.)
Therefore, I've been saving pictures and thanking the Lord when each day it lives to tell another tale.
Consequently, I have stumbled across some cracking, forgotten times.
Like Tommy's bedroom, for instance. Memories have been stirred. It's reminded me that it's no longer a nursery, it's a little boy's room. A little boy who loves Spider-Man and fire engines and still doesn't sleep well.
Oh he sleeps a million times better than those frustrating, long, tiring, nights. Yet it's extremely rare he will sleep through a whole night on his own.
Still, I'll forgive him. Especially when he tells me how cool I am, and informs strangers that his name is Spider-Man.
I wouldn't change him for the world.

Welcome to the nursery. The sign was waiting for him long before he entered this world.

I've sat on this chair more times than I care to remember, feeding him his milk and trying to coax him to sleep/back to sleep.

Gradually the calming blues and whites were replaced with bright colours and toys. I'd forgotten about that tortise mat, when he learnt to sit he used to love sitting on there and pressing the noisy buttons.

Now his bedroom has a fire engine bed. And a Tommy sign on the door, we are trying to get him to recognise and scribble his name.

Fire station and police station house. A very popular toy from granddad last Christmas.

Some of his fav toys. The garage at the bottom was purchased from Mark and I on his first birthday. I'm sure in years to come I'll see many toys and gadgets come and go on these shelves. I look forward to each new chapter, and fondly remembering the last. No doubt I'll still be loosing and smashing mobile handsets.