Monthly Archives: December 2015

A pledge and a plan


Today was significant in my small world. While loving life as it is now, exercising more, de-cluttering and being more me, there has been at the same time, a gradual slide into more frequent black dog moods, poor sleep, teeth grinding, too much eating and drinking over the last two weeks with regard to the academic side of things.

A big exam looms and I have the concentration span of a gnat when sitting at the desk trying to study. Then I worry and fret and maybe have a snack, or an early glass of wine while cooking dinner, then a bit of rubbish TV, then another go at the books and then end up playing Sudoku! These are all distraction techniques but they are destructive too…undoing any sense of well-being felt after a brisk walk or furious vacuuming or clearing out session!

But today enough was enough. My lovely uni friend, LE messaged to ask how it was going and I fessed up. While we were chatting I realised all that is necessary is a bit of refocusing and realigning.

Buoyed by her words and accepting that we all have dips, I made a pledge and a plan.

My DRYATHLON starts today. A few days early but hey! That is my pledge. Not to drink from now for all of January.

My plan was to give myself a day away from the books, to break up the relentless pressure. So, errands were run, a delivery was made to the charity shop, (including most embarrassingly and unintentionally a pair of my big purple knickers that had become entwined in some sports gear….). I hurriedly snatched them from the elderly male volunteer before he could hold them up for the world to see….A quiet coffee while reading the paper. A financial meeting with the girls and a spot of food shopping. I also bought flowers to decorate the hall for new year.

Somehow things seems more balanced and calm. Certainly I feel happier and less anxious about the exam.






Loans and borrowing


I pride myself in having no loans, other than the mortgage, to which I no longer have to contribute, and no credit card.

Today however, I applied for a student loan. True, I have been fortunate not to have to until now. After weighing up the pros and cons it seemed that the extra will help no end, mainly as although they are both over 18 and not ‘dependents’ and both work hard to live within their means, the girls need a bit of help every now and then.

Billy Bunter made it very, very clear that he wanted nothing to do with the girls’ financial support post separation as they are not his. He was admonished for this by the solicitor but he was adamant.

There is no guarantee it will be approved as I already hold one degree in beer consumption clad only in a toga – oh and Japanese!! But if it works then when they need a bit extra, I can help out.



Let the sun shine in


Having the sun peek through from behind the blind this morning was fortuitous. It got me out of bed, into the fields with the dog, struggling in the mud to keep the old wellies on, but invigorated.

The plan was to clear my mind, which has been a bit fuddled. A series of texts from the ex mid-walk did not help and by the time we got home, I was feeling anxious and defensive, although being as neutral as poss in my responses.  Then I thought bugger this, and phoned the old fart. We read so much into texts and emails, tone, mood, perceptions etc, but that comes from the READER as all we see is a bunch of words.

It was the right thing to do. A few short minutes of civilised discussion and both parties are feeling ok.

Then the girls and I had a brief chat about health, food intake, alcohol and self caring and agreed to work together a bit more. They don’t eat meals really, just graze all day. I think we would all benefit as would the budget from more of a routine.

The Christmas decorations are down as is the tree. We are moving onwards and upwards. Off to the tip now!!






There are hardly any food wise, but there are left  over thoughts about this holiday.

Firstly we ate and drank far less than ever before. The meal was simple and afterwards we played cards.

This is a huge thing for me. My memories of childhood card and board games are the stuff of nightmares. Uncles egging us on when playing Monopoly and then losing the plot and calling us stupid if we did not win, or ended up in jail. There was nothing fun, it was competitive and each one of us was constantly being compared to the current winner, who, if they lost a round would be the next victim….so sitting with the girls and the boy, playing cards and laughing was a thrill.

We exercised a lot, at least youngest and I did. She ran 15 k on Christmas morning and I went with her, on the bike….We then did a parkrun this morning, my first ever 5 k. She was finished before I started my third round and came to meet me for the last bit. Brilliant to share that with her.  (I had to walk 3 times, but as 3.5 is my longest distance to date, it was still an achievement).

We had fewer gifts than ever before and all of them were useful and had thought put into them.

We spoke to loved ones the world over,  Japan, Australia and Belgium.

We watched very little TV and I actually studied yesterday….

So the (leftover) memories of this Christmas are happy.  There was none of the pressure of years gone by. The expensive gifts that sometimes were never used, or lost!!

The next few days are for study. Exams loom for two of us and a dissertation for one…..


Tropical storm turns to tropical low


He’s been and gone. This is the first direct contact in almost a month. He was brusque and business like. I asked how he was doing and he was not expansive…

He was not thrilled that I farmed out the big bedroom to daughter and her man, and said the place no longer felt like his home.

I said that it would be his one day and this was only a temporary situation but he replied that he will never live here again. I asked why he didn’t just sell it then, but he wants to rent it out. His hassle, not mine.

I have never seen him move so fast, he was in and out in a flash. He would not look me in the eye either. What is that about? Weird.

The last question he asked was where would he be sleeping when he gets back on January 1st.

Not one question about my father, and of course nothing about me.

Par for the course.

And me? I felt calm, almost sorry for him. I was kind and helped him pack up the car. He left behind all his post and the cards I wrote for his mother and sister. He was annoyed because he could not find a big box of photos of days gone by (minus me) that he planned to go through with his mother. A little fireside mutual admiration!  Thank heavens I would not have to sit through that!!!

Off to the hills with dog, girlies and the boy to walk in the wind and work up an appetite for fish and chips. Wooohoooo.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve folks.






The swing of things


Tonight I have blanched the sprouts….am about to tackle the chestnuts and will then make the stuffing balls. Pork mince with pancetta, lemon zest and chestnuts….a once a year fiddle that is worth every mouthful.

We have yet to sit, four at the table, to eat since the girls and the boy arrived. Looks like tonight it might not happen either. Still, nothing is wasted.

This has still been the most cost efficient, low key Christmas in years and I am feeling proud. We also managed to fill a bag for the Food Bank today.

We don’t need extravagance and so many need the basics.







Winter Solstice


Love it, just love it. Despite the howling wind and rain. From now the days get longer and I like that it happens before Christmas and New Year. It feels more of a new beginning than both of them to me.

A new haircut today. I have a fringe, or bangs, (what a weird word!) now.

A neighbour dropped off a Christmas card and I dragged her in for a glass of wine.

The boyfriend of one of the girls arrived yesterday and has spent most of his time feeling ill and sleeping….hoping he perks up a bit tomorrow.

Both girls are well and so lovely. Em is being taught by BRIAN COX this semester. She confides that he is brilliant but waffles!

Big, big step in that tonight was my last session with the counsellor… call. Have only been meeting every few weeks over the break up, but it has helped enormously.

If when old Billy Bunter rocks up on Thursday morning from his tropical paradise en route to his mother’s, he starts moaning and complaining and commenting, that is absolutely fine with me. Bring it on. He does not live here any more. I do.

Time he moved on.






Underwater paddling


Duck like, (more appropriate for my body shape) I bobbed through the last few weeks only dealing with the at hand things. Work, food, housekeeping, the dog, study etc.

Underneath it all, like frantically moving ducks feet, things have been mad. Mainly mad in Australia. My mother left one of her carefully worded messages on the landline for me which I picked up at about 10pm one night.

‘Lizzie, it’s Mum…(pause here), Dad’s been taken to hospital….You’ll be tired when you get in so don’t worry, he’ll be fine’…

Don’t think so mother….short version of the tale is that in agony with urinary retention he was rushed off in the night, catheterised and brought home the next day, only to have to go back twice more and on the final visit, it was revealed that the bladder cancer is back. He is currently having chemo for stomach cancer and is in remission from prostate cancer…..

A sister spent the last week with them. We go round in circles. For all his ailments, Dad is robust mentally and surprisingly physically. Mum is forgetful, repetitive and confused.  For years we have encouraged them to move to a community with useful facilities, but it goes nowhere.

It is brutally hard to say it although I did to my sister today, we cannot make them do anything. They are making their own choices and decisions for now. We can just listen and support that. Doesn’t make it easy and yeah, we do feel cross and frustrated, but that is the way it is.

Deeply worried about one sibling and some of their pain and struggles.

Miss them all.

Three weeks into single life and I am feeling stronger, happier, more at ease and occasionally get a sort of thrill that I am now free!

The tree is up. The girls will be home tomorrow. A lovely friend is bringing her little kids to visit and we are going to walk the dog, play with Sylvanian Families and make sloe vodka – well their mum is doing the latter, not the kids!




An hour well spent


For the first time I Boosted my Tesco Club Card points. Don’t shop there often, but do buy petrol so had over £20.00 to use up. The girls’ pajamas and cami tops for Christmas and some running leggings for Em have now been bought using said points and a tiny top up from me.

It was not simple working out how to use the things, but worth the time spent from a money saving point of view.



Festive fare


At this time of the year we often stuff ourselves with ‘treats’ in the build up to Christmas and with food reserved for the big day…consuming booze and basically anything that we can get away with having in the name of the season….

Today at the local, four of us had ‘Christmas Lunch’. A chicken and avocado wrap, chips and a G&T for £4.99 for me!! I am a true Bah Humbug! sort. Yes we have a little tree, yes one or two get cards, yes, the girls get gifts, usually pajamas and running gear and maybe socks….things they need and will USE, but we do not do fairy lights all over the garden, insane shopping and more and more this time of year serves to remind me of the lonely, cold, hungry, terrified, ill and displaced.

In the pub today an elderly man went down, hard. I went to help him. He was frail and unstable on his pins and had a stick. Fortunately he was on his bottom, no damage done but he was so unsteady when back on his feet, we called for another male customer to get him to the loos, where he was headed. I asked him, after checking he was ok, if he was at the pub with friends and he responded by saying that he had no friends.  He smelt of urine and was obviously having difficulty managing his personal hygiene and it made me realise how hypocritical it is to be ‘giving’ at Christmas, which amounts to stuff and not giving more all year round in the form of help, support and volunteering.

The lovely ladies I was with all volunteer, meals on wheels, shopping trips for the elderly and more.  Bless them. The old chap managed to get back to his seat to finish his drink. Bless him too.