Birthdays, hospital and one big smile


My boy walked me to hospital this week.

I say this not because it started out as anything special, in fact I suppose it was rather normal.  Just another appointment, a check up that had been timed quite awkwardly in line with the school run and there was no other option than to take him with me.  As we walked along and I held his hand I realised that I felt different somehow.  Different to all of the other times that I had made that same walk over the past few months – this time I felt stronger.

It had been a funny old week.

The highs of the Race for Life, the emotion, and the overwhelming pride, all rounded right back to a fairly normal ‘run of the mill’ week.  The old familiarity of the school and work routine began in earnest once more.  The fact that my boy woke me first thing the day after the race and said that he wished that we could do it all again made me smile – albeit a tired smile. “It might take a while for me to recover from that one, but I would love to do it again – maybe next year you could run it with me?”

Don’t get me wrong I was fully expecting the slow start to the week, I knew that I had overdone it but I did not care.  All of a sudden the end of the week seemed far off with a hospital appointment looming, followed by a birthday.  I knew that the first thing to deal with would be that appointment with the boy in tow.

With all the rushing after school we had forgotten his water bottle and so our first job upon our arrival was to buy some water from the gift shop.  As I was choosing his drink, he eyed the chocolate stand and looked sheepishly at me asking if he could have his favourite bar. “Please mummy?” he asked, unsure of what my answer might be. I agreed as I realised that this time we had together, although not ideal, was a rarity for both of us.  We don’t often have the luxury of spending time together just the two of us and so I also bought him a magazine to try to keep him occupied.

We wandered to the waiting room, hand in hand and he chatted away asking me questions and telling me about his day at school.  The room was full and it soon became apparent that they were running very late.  I instantly began to regret taking my six year old into a situation where he would have to sit still for well over an hour. He read his magazine telling me in great detail about each player, then he sorted out his football cards that had come free with it.  After a while, I suggested that he go over to look at the fish in the tall fish tank on the other side of the room.  He stood there for a long time counting them and making faces at me through the glass which made me laugh.  Eventually he returned and we sat drawing in the notebook from my handbag.  Adamant that we needed to remember which level we had parked on he drew our car with the number on it and then he went on to draw the weather and our favourite thing… a rainbow.


Just then, right there in that moment, I had a swell of pride.

I realised that I am so proud of him and the boy he is growing up to be.  He flashed me a giant smile as he chomped on his chocolate bar as he continued with his drawing and chattering.  In his own little way he was managing to distract me and I found myself focusing my attention on him, and not the rest of the room.  Before I knew it the appointment was over and it left me wondering why I had not ever taken him with me before?  On that day he was my comfort.  Of course I know why I had never taken him before, because I have tried to shield him from the realities of hospital and illness wherever I can.  Perhaps he is becoming old enough to understand now I thought to myself as we walked back to our car.  Of course we found it straight away, thanks to his perfect memory (another thing that I cannot always claim to have).

The next day was to be my birthday.  In the waiting room we had drawn a birthday cake, and Noah pointed out that he could not fit anymore candles on it (!) I am not a typical birthday person, but I played along to the children’s excitement as they almost burst trying not to tell me of their surprises and plans.  This year, more than most I am mindful that birthdays and family celebrations are something to be treasured.  Instead of not wanting to get older, I am thankful that I reached another birthday and I am grateful to be lucky enough to share it with those who care about me. Age is a privilege.

The next day was the morning of my birthday, and Noah woke me as always at 6.30am with a giant grin.  I won’t ever forget that afternoon with my boy, I wonder if he will?image

‘Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many’ ~ Mark Twain




Holding hands – Race for Life


I have a bit of a history with the Race for Life.  The first time I ran it was with my friend Jane, we worked together at the time.  She had lost her father to cancer and she vowed that she would do something to raise money for the charity that had helped with his care.  Jane couldn’t run and neither could I.

We both trained, and when the day finally came I was glad that I could stand by her side and be her support.  As it happened on that day Jane went over on her ankle, painfully swollen she had to slow down – and so I did too, much to her protests.  We walked the race, step by step, together, and if my memory serves me correctly she ran the last part.  She was so disappointed that she did not ‘run’ the race and she felt like she had let down those who had sponsored her (of course she had done nothing of the sort).

The next year we ran the race again, and this time we did not stop.

That was many moons ago.  I have moved on and I live and work somewhere else nowadays.  Even so, I often think about our old life and the friends that we left behind.  I look back at the races that I ran and I realise that I didn’t truly understand the pride of the people running and how it really feels to run in the memory of someone that you have lost.  I understand it now though all too well.

One day recently I was sitting at work and I received an email from a friend that I used to work with.  How lovely that we still kept in touch I thought.  This email was not one that I was expecting however.  As I read the words, I slowed down so that I could take them in – the words were telling me that Jane was ill.  She too had breast cancer – my heart sank, and I had to re-read it again just to make sure that I had not made a mistake.  No mistake had been made.

On the very same week I received another message asking if I would take part in the Race for Life 2016.  This time though, it would be a large group of friends and family who had decided to run together in memory of a very special lady – Connie Holmes.


Connie also got through breast cancer, and fell ill again more recently.  The cornerstone of her family, the pride of her children, Connie was a beloved wife, mum and grandmother.  The race is to be run on Holmes Hill – and I agreed without hesitation, to give my support even though I cannot run.  I am unfit.  My back goes frequently and I struggle with fatigue daily.

If there is one thing that having cancer has taught me though, is that anything is possible.  I can and I will run that race.

The Race for Life is not about running, it is not even about raising money.  It is about community and standing together against a rotten, shitty disease that takes people from their loved ones, cruelly and unfairly.  Sometimes it feels as if it is unbeatable, sometimes it feels as if it is everywhere we turn, and it does not discriminate.   And yet something is stirred in those that it effects, friends, family those who want to join together and help to find a cure.


As the race day draws near and the nerves begin to kick in, I cannot help but wish that I was running it in the state of health that I used to have.  To most 5km is not a long distance and indeed it probably isn’t for those who run regularly.  For me however, it will be quite a challenge.  I cannot help but wish that I could run it with Jane, together, helping each other through and making each other laugh.  Not this time though.  Jane is in recovery, as am I, and if we are lucky we will regain some of our health and be thankful for it.

This time, I will be running for the memory of Connie Holmes, on Holmes Hill, and the day has all the makings of something very special.  We have checked the weather forecast and the rainy weekend will have a few hours of sunshine at the precise moment of the race.  I will be running with Liz, Alison, Marcella, Carolyn (in India) Georgina and her grandchildren Alfie and Oli  and Zadie, together with many, many others who are determined that cancer will not win,

hope will though – hope for a cure.


This post is dedicated to Connie Holmes. 

I am honoured and inspired to have been asked to join with your family and friends, holding hands and uniting together in remembering a truly special lady.


Race for Life is organised by Cancer Research



Me & Mine & Candyfloss


Isn’t it funny how we become so protective over those we love the most?  It does not matter if the things that they do are not quite perfect, or exactly how they should be, because inadvertently they are perfect just the way they are.

Just recently the weather has been glorious where we live.  Admittedly it can be very ‘on and off’.  On being a beautiful sunny day and off being giant hail stones the size of golf balls, or even snow.

All in all though, a run of four warm and sunny days means trips to the park and eating outside wherever you can.

One of these sunny days we decided that to stay indoors would be madness and we all piled into the car to go to one of our most favourite parks nearby.  When we arrived there was a funfair at one end of the field and the park and ice-cream van at the other.  We decided to enjoy the funfair first of all as the lure of the music and rides made us smile.  The children were excited as they picked the rides that they most wanted to go on.  My husband sweated as he realised that per person, per ride, it was not cheap..

There were the old favourites like ‘hook a duck’ or the dodgems and there were the new and fast rides that we joked we would put the children on.  My son insisted that his daddy ride on a horse racing style ride with him, whilst my daughter insisted on the ‘hook a duck’ and we won (everybody wins).  Her choice of prizes was terrible, and she refused any of the pink items that the woman tried to palm off on her.  Instead she opted for a hammer that she could hit her brother with – it promptly deflated, and we ended up with a pink one anyway.

Eventually the children were brave enough to go on a ride together, it swung round and round and sprayed them with bubbles as they went causing them to squeal with laughter.  Their laughing made us laugh too.

After the fair we walked across the park and my son ran in front of us kicking his football.  My daughter did not walk, preferring to sit on her daddy’s shoulders & hitting him every now and then with her hammer.  We sat down for a while in the sunshine while the children played with the ball, and I periodically stood up to put a hat back on or return a stray ball.  Eventually we decided to wander up to the play park to get an ice-cream.


My daughter insisted that she wanted some candyfloss instead of an ice-cream and so I walked her across to buy some – as a kind of romantic gesture because, well the fair wasn’t there everyday.  I bought her a bag to taste and she literally put some in her mouth and made a face – money wasted – I am not even sure why I went along with it, knowing full well what the outcome would be.  And so candyfloss aside we bought ice-creams and sat on the grass watching the world go by.

The children had a turn in the play park and took their socks and shoes off in the giant sandpit, they played for ages in the sand pretending to cook things and I think there was some kind of shop going on as well.  Eventually I pointed out to my son that the trees were low enough to climb and so they both tried their hand at that too.  We stayed for a long time – everybody it seemed was having a lovely time in the sunshine.

As we left my daughter mentioned for the hundredth time that day that she would like to go to the local Chinese restaurant, as her nursery had taken her for the Chinese New Year.  Hesitant though we were, we went home to freshen up, and then walked along for our evening meal.  Our first proper meal, as a family without highchairs or baby toys and to our surprise we chatted and ate and had a really lovely time.  Both children tried food they had never tried before and both refused a fork and ate with chopsticks with great determination.

What a wonderful day it was.





Pre-school Days & Charlie O’Neil


I have never been a naturally crafty mum. I have never really been a baking kind of mum.  Really I am more of a mum who finds herself ‘winging it’ on a daily basis.

Don’t get me wrong I can bake but not to Great British Bake Off standards, and I can draw but not quite to both my sister’s standards.  It is far more likely that ‘good ideas’ to keep children entertained just come to me in a moment of madness like making a den with a bed sheet, or setting out a spontaneous picnic of sorts.

Of course, the school place acceptance came along all too quickly.  All of a sudden in the blink of an eye my girl is going to school with her brother in September, and although I was prepared for it this time around, what I was not prepared for was the realisation.

One morning, just last week the nursery and school run was in full swing and my daughter did her usual ‘beginning of the week’ hiding behind my legs and declaring that she did not want to go the nursery.  Why she does this I do not know?  She loves nursery, she loves her teachers and she has plenty of friends.  In the car I explained to her that she really only had ten weeks left, and then it dawned on me as those words left my lips that she really only had a few weeks left of her preschool days.

My baby is going to big school.

I think it is especially poignant for me because she really is my last child.  We had the choice of having anymore children taken away from us last year.  Although I have made my peace with it and I am truly grateful for all that I have, to know that there will be no more babygrows or ‘first shoes’ or milky cuddles, is a difficult thing for any mum to come to terms with.

I recognise that this is a lovely time, a time that I certainly will treasure for the rest of my days.  These are the days that we get to spend together, just us two, at our own pace and enjoying our own company as mother and daughter.  More often than not our days outside of nursery involve Isla telling me what she would like to do for the day, such as the day she declared she wanted to bake buns with me, or visit the nice park with the library or even go to a well known coffee shop for a blueberry muffin.


I want to remember all the lovely things that she tells me in her non-stop chatter..

Such as the lady who volunteers at her nursery who brings lovely surprises like a ‘pass the parcel’ with a present inside for each and every child.

Or her love of her teacher Katy who regularly gives her cuddles and reassurance when I am not there.

Or Charlie O’Neil, the boy who has stolen her heart much to her brother’s delight in teasing her about this – regularly.  She loves Charlie O’Neil, and he is her one of her favourite boys along with Sebby and a few others who remind her of her brother.

She also loves her twins Kara & Lexi who play with her like siblings – she loves to climb trees with Kara and make up games with Lexi when she can.

More than all of these things she loves her special blanket that she holds onto for dear life when she is tired or uncertain.

She loves going to her grandma’s house (and often insists on it) because she knows that she will get a special gingerbread man, and that she will get to play with all of my childhood toys there for hours on end.

She loves playing at her Aunty’s house with her cousin Lois who indulges her love of make-believe games, and she even loves cuddles from her big cousin Freya (even though she protests at the all too blatant show of affection).


As I tried to sneak out of the door one sunny afternoon for a walk on my own, she asked me if she could come too.  Of course I said yes because I know that she wants to do everything with me if she can. And so we walked hand in hand together along the street, talking about this and about that.  She had an old phone that she had brought out with her and she pretended to take pictures along the way.  As she did I wished that she was taking real pictures for us to remember such a special time together.

It was a long walk and it was hot, luckily enough there was a wall for her to walk along just as her little legs began to tire.  When we reached the park we had a swing on the swings and as we left she took my hand and began kissing the back of it.  Eventually after another walk along the next wall I lifted her off and as I did I cuddled her and whispered in her ear that I loved her,

and she whispered it back.

A truly perfect moment.





Great Expectations


Another week goes by and I have realised something.  I have always set myself pretty high standards, and non so much as being a mother.  It is the single most important job I will ever have.  I am the centre of our house, the provider and the ‘go to’ for most things, and I love it even on the days that I can’t quite manage.

Ever since I had my little boy years ago, it is as if I have always tried to do my very best, to be the very best I can be for them, even sometimes to the detriment of my own wellbeing. I am sure that I am not the only one who gives up her slice of toast when little hands come wandering, or stops midway through the washing up at the slightest call of ‘mum’ and I don’t resent it, not at all.  I would give them my last breath if I had to a thousand times over, and yet just lately I have begun to question myself more and more.  Am I good enough to manage it all?

I have been reminded of something that I promised myself a while ago,

I promised that I would cherish the small things and slow down a little to give myself a chance to enjoy life.

And while I do cherish the small things now more than ever – the spontaneous sloppy kiss or the little morning snuggle, I have invariably found myself slipping back into the busy rush of life.  The very thing I promised myself that I would not do.  The mornings in our household are rushed during the midweek and I very often find myself tired out before I even get to work.  I regularly miss breakfast, I drink too much tea and really take it to heart if I have forgotten to send one of the children off for the day with something that they needed.  By the time it reaches the evening I am often completely spent.  I have been known to hop into the children’s bath as I run it for them, and more often than not I do not have the energy to cook an evening meal for my husband.  I just do not have it in me and that is a tough thing to admit.  I am finding more and more that I am having to ‘let it go’ when I find I can manage no more.


I had a review at work not so long ago, another milestone for me.  It was a funny sort of conversation, as my boss is actually a friend and so the honesty involved was given candidly.  We went through the given format, and eventually one of the questions asked was what I felt to be my biggest achievement to be over the past year.  I had answered ‘returning to work’ and my boss said that it had given him a lump in his throat to read that.  Perhaps it did, but it was the complete and honest truth. On an average day I struggle to concentrate, struggle to even get dressed and yet I get through the days, by some short miracle.  The very act of going to work is a positive thing, it helps keep me on the road to recovery which is turning out to be longer than I first imagined.

It seems that when asked outright about how I am, some surprising answers are given. 

A friend recently asked the same thing.  The answer is, I am good, we are good, but sometimes I find the days a struggle.  It is extremely frustrating to feel fatigue and continue to raise a young family.  It is upsetting to snap at your husband and children when you don’t really mean it, yet tiredness continues to be a reality for me.  It is a difficult thing to explain, and I am not even sure that I have explained it well enough, but I continue to try my very best.  My friends have given me some kind advice, to get more sleep and to let things go when I realise that not everything is achievable – and I will take that on board because sound advice it is.

I love my children, and they continue to make me smile everyday.  They wake me early and encourage me to get on with living.  We don’t have a perfect life, there are arguments and tears just like any normal family, but on the whole we are happy and healthy, which in itself is a blessing.  I just need to remind myself to take care of me, because if I don’t I won’t be able to take care of everybody else.

Never judge a book by it’s cover springs to mind as I wonder quite how to explain the way it feels.  How it feels to get on with everyday life.



A Champagne Supernova

I don’t often speak about my husband.

This is not because I don’t love him, or that he is not a big part of my life, it is just that the daily things that parenting entails means that ‘us’ seems to get lost somewhere in the background.

We have been friends for many years and I have been reminded several times lately how lucky I am to be married to such a ‘nice lad’.

There are however several things that irritate or ‘irk’ him about me (that I know of).

One of these things is that I do not know the real words to songs and so, not to be defeated, I often make up the words as I sing along regardless.  This perhaps would not annoy any normal person, but my husband likes his music, he knows his music.  I however know what I like, and like what I know.

We do share a love for several musical icons – however our largest difference in opinion has always been his love for the band Oasis.  They were his college band, they remind him of his young and carefree days, he has every album and has seen them live many times.  I have known this of course since we first met, but they are just ‘not my cup of tea’.

If we all liked the same things in life, it would make us very dull

It is a good thing I think to not share all of the same interests or likes, I suppose if we did life would be very boring.  Of course when he learned one of his idols was due to play in our home town he excitedly bought tickets and asked if I would go too.  I love live music and we don’t often get the chance to have an old fashioned date, and so I agreed.  The last time we arranged to go out together it was to watch a movie premier for his birthday just before Christmas, but time went on by and we never made it.  We only realised this as we ordered the film on our home movies very recently.

The second thing that we have always disagreed about is Space.  The galaxy, the universe, the stars and the planets.  My husband is a scientist, I am not.  I am more than happy to believe in the proven areas of the universe but I struggle with the idea of alien life forms and black holes.  Any of our close friends would laugh at the heated debates that we have had over the years that we have been together.

On the whole though, and putting these things aside I am sure that he would tell you that we are the best of friends. 

The evening of the gig came along, and we headed out like the old days the pre-children days.  The weather was dreary, it rained constantly and it was grey but the stadium wasn’t far away.  We shared noodles as we ate on the move and we shared an umbrella unsuccessfully.  Instantly relaxing in each others company we ordered drinks and met briefly with some friends.  I had decided that I would go with an open mind and enjoy the music and the time spent on a real evening out with my husband, because they are oh so rare.

As it turned out the music was in fact, good.  There were some old favourites that everyone knew the words to (even me) and some new ones that the die hard fans knew too.  The evening seemed to fly by and my husband sang to pretty much every song.  I think we were both taken back to those college days just for a moment in time – and it was nice, really nice.


The song Champagne Supernova was played and I realised that I knew (most of) the words, but probably in reality I made some of my own up too.  Apparently when writing the song, the lyrics had differing meanings for differing moods in which they were written.  Ironically that explanation sums up my mind-set at the moment too.  I have probably not been the easiest person to live with, I admit that, and yet oddly when music is played everything suddenly seems better.

As the last song was played Don’t Look Back In Anger rang out and the whole stadium joined in, we changed from two tired parents into a happy couple again.  We got the train home and we felt as if we had been given a little lift.  Quality time spent together when tiredness, work, and family usually take precedent is priceless.

I realised that we really should make more time for each other – to add to our memories together – as the best things in life are often unseen.