Category Archives: Family and Friends

Dear Diary

Dear 2018

I am writing to you inspired by my Daughter Kathryn in two ways: her letters to December made me appreciate my downfalls of the month and made me want to explore the months more, and, one of the lovely gifts she gave me for Christmas; Dawn French’s Me You diary.

Dawn French Me You Diary

For Christmas 2016, I was given a diary from one of my friends; One Line a Day. Whilst January is the beginning of a new year, I actually started writing in it on the 25 December; something I thought I would regret after hearing the sad news (still very sad news in my opinion) that George Michael had died. This diary is a a five year diary so each page has room for 5 years of the same day. I would love to tell you that I wrote in it every day but September I wasn’t so good. I think life seemed a bit daunting. I have recovered now and am trying to make amends to my diary!

I promise to write in this every day!

I needed to make a few changes in my working life so the months between September and November involved that. That led me into December, without a “proper” job due to a gamble which I do believe might have paid off. More  on that later. I had decided that I wouldn’t start my “gambling” life gradually, I took a holiday; a very enjoyable one too! A bit riskier because I did have Christmas to prepare too. I left for my holiday with a few presents bought, no cards written but plenty ideas of what I needed to get once I got back.

Happy Holidays

On holiday, I was able to keep up with Kathryn’s blog and her letters to December. I felt quite tearful reading some of the traditions we had created and how she had enjoyed them. Our Christmas day is always a quiet relaxed affair (even that has pressure put on it) and Kathryn did seem to appreciate them. It did come as a bit of a shock because Kathryn is far from a boring girl and our Christmas day isn’t one of these great big family days. It is always tradition for mum and dad to fall asleep.

I did learn a lot about myself in December by reading the December letters and watching Kathryn achieving the many things she set to do each day. In the past, I have put pressure on myself by thinking everything should be perfect. This year, perfection went out of the window (I never achieve it anyway) and I enjoyed the month so much more. These are some of the things that made it easier:

  • Supermarket food deliveries – this has been a big plus all year. I have a shop on the same day, same time every week and it has made my life so much easier
  • Online shopping – normally we have a Christmas shopping day which can involve going into a lot of cafes for lattes, writing out lists of what we want to buy, buying six things and then coming home to buy the rest online. One week before Christmas, the laptop was brought into action and all presents were purchased. Who needs to start shopping in September!
  • A “does it matter” approach – do I need to worry if I haven’t got swede for roast veg on the day? Is it necessary for the Christmas cake to be perfectly decorated? So what if we haven’t got shortbread (hold on I should care about that one!). What if I only decided 5 minutes before the dinner was being served I want the table to look? In the big scheme of things, these things should not put a cloud over the day. All resolvable – just have to remember to buy Marks and Spencer’s shortbread in September next year!
  • Lists – Kathryn loves lists; they often scare me. December this year, I discovered how to use them in the best way with my phone and a program called Keep. I do love gadgets and this one certainly made me happy this December. I plan to start enjoying lists.

So 2018, December will not frighten me this year. In fact, I’m not going to get frighted by any of the months. Each month, with help from Dawn, is going to be a blank page: a new month to get things right and forget about what happened the month before (I will have it all written down of course but there will be no dwelling over it). So today, 1 January 2018, I plan to eat the lovely cake I made yesterday (plan on getting back into my clothes can wait until tomorrow), hopefully achieve 10,000 steps on my fitbit, if it stops raining and make a plan for January but not the whole of you, 2018.

Yummy food that make my clothes shrink – to be enjoyed today!

Love from a glass half full me x

Walk like a man (fly like a bird)

Today is my little boy’s birthday. Well, not so little; Jordan is 24 today. Probably not as excited about his birthday as he used to be but he is still home to celebrate with us.

I did get to spend a lovely Saturday with him last week. For Christmas, he had bought me tickets to see the Jersey Boys so we were off to see that. It had been Jordan’s first week back in London in a new job so he met me at Victoria. He was keen to show me his skills with getting around the city.

The day, February 18th, was glorious which was a big contrast to our previous day out on the 9th February which I will share with you later.

After a lovely lunch in a restaurant we found by exploring down a lane, we walked down Regent Street towards Oxford Street admiring all the big shops. On our way back towards the theatre, Jordan did have to consult google maps so he is not so hot on getting about when cutting through the little lanes. We did pass Carnaby Street which I must go back to.

Jersey Boys first opened in London in 2008 in Prince Edward theatre and moved to Piccadilly Theatre in 2014. The final performance is on 28th March. The 2nd national tour has started so the show is hopefully continuing in our local theatres.

Jordan had bought very good tickets in the stalls although they were right in the middle so we had to climb over everyone who had not had a problem finding their way to the theatre! It did mean that we decided to give interval ice-cream a miss.

Jersey Boys is the story of how the Four Seasons were formed and takes you from their downtown beginnings in New Jersey to finding success with their wonderful voices. We learn that The Four Seasons wasn’t their first name, the line up changed many times and whilst finding fame, the competition was tough.

The show was amazing and the cast was fantastic. I did enjoy learning the story about The Four Seasons and recognised all the songs. Whilst I would have heard the songs through my mum’s old record collection (I am sure she had many), my greatest memory of Frankie Valli was singing the title song of Grease and Beauty School Drop Out. Grease is actually one of my favourite top 10 films so very memorable. With so many shows I would like to see, I am going to be a bit picky about shows I see for the 2nd time. Jersey Boys is one I would go to see again because it was an interesting story with great songs.

Whilst we have a great time, Jordan did miss out on flying. He is learning to fly at moment and it is a hobby which is weather dependent. Unfortunately yesterday was too windy for flying so fingers crossed next week he will be able to fly and perhaps go solo (trying not to think about that).

Thank you so much, Jordan, for my Christmas present and have a great birthday.

She’s just a girl, she’s on fire

Happy 21st birthday to you, Kathryn, my beautiful daughter.

First of all, I must apologise for the title of this blog post; I know that this song isn’t a particular favourite but reading the meaning of the words sums up you. It is about new beginnings and to be on fire is about finding your inner strength and to take control of who you are. This is the bit I like the most:

To live your passion and shine your light unabashedly!!

As you start each stage of your life; different schools, college, university, career etc, you adapt to these circumstances but you have remained the same passionate girl who tries hard to achieve the best she can be. Coming last will not be an option for you.

As you reach 21, I can look back and remember my baby Kathryn and remember all the lovely memories. Even as a baby, you were keen to be first with a very loud scream. I think you just loved to be cuddled.

You were two when we first went to the pantomime after a visit to Santa on the Watercress Line. You were dressed in a deep red coat with a beret and an older gentleman remarked how pretty you looked. You did look amazing. That day started your love of theatre, nice clothes although wearing a coat doesn’t seem to come into the equation and being able to be bought drinks from pensioners!

A little after that, we took you on a plane for the first time. On landing, you covered your head with your favourite blanky! Blankies were your comforter and went everywhere with you.

When you started school, it was strange how you could spell so well. The other children would try to challenge you with finding a word that you might not be able to spell but I don’t think they succeeded. On to junior school, and the headmistress often said you were “quietly confident”. That perfectly summed you up and you did manage to surprise everyone by coming second in your first cross country. That wasn’t good enough for you though and first place was yours the following year.

School and college became harder but you did rise to the challenge and succeeded in gaining your place at University. The last few years have flown by and you will soon be entering the workplace. You will take that in your stride too.

The competitive Kathryn is amusing to watch especially the victims. Why is it the male species even think they should voice their opinions that they are the better in certain sports so you will never beat them. They are often taken down a peg or two by you!

You have always made lots of friends and as you are kind, generous and loyal, you have kept them. Can prove a bit of a problem when you return home and try to fit in seeing everyone. As well as dedication to your friends, I must not forget your love for McFly.

Whilst parents would love to take most of the credit for how their children “turn out”, we do have to accept that our children make their own choices and that whilst we can guide them, we have to allow them be the wonderful people they are. Can I ask for credit for two things; your love of reading which can also be shared with the lovely lady from the library who read to you in story time. I do miss our bedtime reads. The other is you being able to make the best Victoria sponges for your friends’ birthdays. Baking with you, Jordan and even your friends was a lovely experience.

Kathryn baking

Watching you grow up has been wonderful; you are an inspiration to me even with the challenges!

 

Have a wonderful 21st birthday in one of our favourite places.

Another song in another show

One of my favourite pastimes is going to see a show. I certainly went a lot in 2016; 2017 looks as if there might even be more.

I bought tickets as a Christmas present for Chris to see Evita at The Mayflower. It wasn’t on my list of shows I wanted to see but I was sure that he had expressed an interest. My memories of Evita was from watching the film with Madonna and Antonio Banderos. Despite liking both of them, I just didn’t get it. With my new open mind about how things, I was looking forward to seeing the show.

The show is telling the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron. Eva was played by Emma Hatton who had previously played Elphaba in Wicked, one of my favourite musicals. Gian Marc Schiaretti played Che, who is narrating the story.

Right from the beginning, all the songs started becoming familiar. When Che sang Oh What a Circus, I could hear David Essex singing it. The story is all told in song (not everybody’s cup of tea but I love it). It takes a lot of concentrating but I was mesmerised by it and just when I didn’t think anything could take away the beautiful voice of Emma’s, Another Suitcase in Another Hall is a song sang by Peron’s mistress who has been told to leave by Eva. When performed, if I had seen the show with Kathryn, we would have had one of our moments where we would have looked at each other with crumpled faces, not believing anyone could be so talented. It was so beautiful.

The second half starts with Eva singing the main song, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. It was so powerful as you would have expected from Emma; as Elphaba she would have performed Defying Gravity many times. The second half was just as good as the first and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I think Chris did too!

My theatre season continues in February with a visit to London. Jordan has bought me tickets to see The Jersey Boys.

Happy singing!

Last Christmas

It’s Boxing Day and I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely Christmas. Mine was exactly how I like it; with my family.

I want to share some presents with you. One present I had for Christmas was a book/diary – One Line A Day, a five year memory book. Each page represents each day of the year but you have spaces for 5 different years. This means that over the years you can compare the similarities of your life. It is a bit like Facebook when it pops up reminding you of an event from last year!

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I was so impressed with this and the family thought it was brilliant too. I was planning to start on January 1st but although the first page is that date, you can start any day you want. I decided to start last night as I had such a lovely day and I wanted to record it. This morning I was devastated about what entry I would be making today; the news that my secret love (not so secret anymore) has sadly died.

I am talking about George Michael. I can remember clearly the day I fell in love with him. I was out with Chris at the Cocked Hat when the video of  Wake Me Up came on the large TV screen. I don’t know whether it was the music, the voice or his shorts but I just could not take my eyes of him. That began my obsession for him.

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Luckily, not in the same way although he would have had better success, Chris did enjoy George’s music and his talent so we both did go to see him perform. Our first concert was a Wham concert in Bournemouth. I was very gooey eyed at the age of 18! The next concert was the Faith tour at Earls Court. It was the day he had sung at the Nelson Mandela concert. As well as his own songs from Faith, he sung the old songs from Wham and a fantastic cover of Play that Funky Music. He did covers so well.

Our next concert was at Wembley arena for 25live tour. There were 4 of us and we sat in a row of 4 and despite George having a cold, it was fantastic. On our way out, I always remember a lady saying how there was a tick off her bucket list. I was so happy to have been at that concert and didn’t feel the need to go to another concert. Even when concert dates were announced for his Symphonica tour I didn’t rush to buy tickets although George singing with an orchestra would be brilliant.

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Due to an illness, George was forced to postpone his tour. When I saw that one of the new dates would be our 25th wedding anniversary, I knew that we had to go. I know it’s not everybody’s perfect date for a special occasion but believe me, it was ours. We stayed in The Ruebens hotel and booked a taxi from there. The taxi driver was great and shared with us his memory of dressing up in shorts and going to a fancy dress as George. It always appears that you will always be able to talk about George with anyone.

This was another concert that didn’t disappoint and George’s voice was incredible. Forget all of George’s troubles, his voice was the reason I loved him. Close your eyes and you can just feel all that emotion and imagine he is singing just for you. We came away feeling very contented. We shared our anniversary with George because his music has been the soundtrack of our relationship.

George Michael attracted a lot of media attention. He wasn’t perfect but who is. Next year when I write in my diary, I will see my entry for today and see that my memory will be my pop idol died.

George, you were Amazing x

Jar of Pennies

In January this year, I saw a post on Facebook which suggested you put money away every day ,starting with 1p on 1st January and increasing by a penny a day, in a jar for a year and you would end up with £667.95. I thought that I would give this a go. The cynics out there would suggest that you could do this by simply putting £15 in a savings account each week but this is more fun.

I started in January and it became evident that the jar I first used was not going to be big enough so Jordan replaced it for me to quite a snazzy one.

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Chris and I decided that the contents of the jar could be used as a deposit for the holiday. It was great to have a plan for it and then in September we decided to book a holiday for December. Although we needed to pay for it before the jar would be finished, I felt smug actually going into the bank with my money knowing that I had actually saved for this holiday daily.

It set me thinking that this could be a yearly tradition but I didn’t necessarily need to start the saving in January so restarted in October so hopefully can have another holiday the same time next year.

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We went to Gran Canaria on 2 December for a week and it was fantastic. Getting away at the beginning of a busy season away from the cold is bliss even if it feels funny listening to I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas in temperatures of 23 degrees.

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That’s Entertainment

Since reaching 50, I have been able to watch films without falling asleep which is a big thing for me.  I tend now to only watch what I want to and also do something when I am watching.  Can even cross stitch too.
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I have even been to the cinema four times and only paid for one of them.  Technically with the help of Tesco club card and Nectar I have though.  I have seen Me Before You, Ghostbusters (love those women) and Finding Dory which is a must for two 50 year olds.

The funniest film that I have ever seen and never stopped laughing so much, has got to be Bridget Jones’s Baby. I went along with Chris.  It was a packed cinema too and Chris was a bit of a minority in the audience.  There were probably only three men there. There are so many funny moments that when I talked about the film with Kathryn, I had forgotten about the man that worked at Starbucks! Trying not to give that away.

Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger, has grown up but still capable of getting herself into lots of trouble.  I so want her to be her.  Colin Firth is back again with the bumbling Mark Darcy and I can’t give anything away about Hugh Grant.  It was great to see the return of the old cast plus the gorgeous if not naughty Patrick Dempsey and one of my favourite’s, Emma Thompson.  I just love her.  It was probably the best of the three Bridget Jones films but I still love the other two. The soundtrack is wonderful too.   I now want to try the old glamping thing out.

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The same week was an annual visit to the theatre with my two friends, Kelly and Leanne.  This is our third show and we have previously seen Wicked and Stomp. This time it was the foot tapping Mamma Mia with all those fantastic Abba songs.  We enjoyed our usual pre-dinner and wine at Nick’s Restaurant before heading to the Mayflower theatre.    Mamma Mia is definitely a show you see with a group of people and you want to go along for a jolly evening.  It certainly had great reviews and as it was the first time in Southampton, I knew plenty of people going to see the show.  There were a few groups who had dressed in the 70’s Abba outfits and I certainly missed out on wearing my 70’s hat I had bought for an Elton Tribute night.

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I had seen the film and loved that.  The show did not disappoint and it was not hard to dance along to the music.  The actress who played Donna had an amazing voice and her two friends were very entertaining.  Wish I could do the splits like Rosie.  The three possible fathers were just like the characters from the film.  I loved the friends singing Super Trouper but I have no idea why but I do love Our Last Summer sung by Harry. I think it is the Colin Firth connection from the film.

It was the very good evening and a most enjoyable show.  Just have to plan our next year’s big night out.

Saturday Night At The Movies

I don’t often watch TV.  If I’m honest, the remotes baffle me and take a lot of working out.  Also I’m rarely in control of the remotes so I don’t even get to choose what is on the TV.  If the soaps are on, I can normally catch up with them easily even when a character has been brought back from the dead.  Every now and then I like to watch a drama series.  I tend to do that on catch up at my own leisure.  I do like to watch the Christmas films no matter how awful they are.  Christmas Trees and Santa have a place in my heart and I’m so excited when they start advertising the Christmas Channel.

It amazes me that whilst I grew up with 3 channels, we now have so many channels but most of them are duplicates (plus 1 and even plus 2) and films are repeated so much.  I don’t want to watch people fighting to buy junk, so called celebrities locked in a house and countless quiz shows.

After flicking through the channels and finding You’ve got Mail and Back to the Future on about 6 channels (nothing wrong with either of these films I must add), it was decided to try the Amazon Prime site.  Now I’m scared of this site as not all is free and I worry I will spend somebody else’s money to watch a film I fancy so I tend to stick to Netflix.  Anyway as it was Saturday and Hubby had controls, it was decided we would buy a film and chose The Intern. I was happy about this as I liked both the main actors, Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro.

There are quite a few American actresses I like watching and Anne Hathaway is certainly one of them.  People might not have have rated her Yorkshire accent in One Day but I loved her anyway and I loved her in Les Miserables.

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A few weeks ago, I had been told about a song that Barbara Streisand performed with Daisy Ridley so I searched to listen.  Now Daisy Ridley was one of the reasons I went to the cinema with the family to watch my first ever Star Wars movie.  I have turned out a big fan of both Daisy and Star Wars which was a surprise.  I did have a few people saying you can’t see the new Star Wars film if you haven’t seen the rest but I have given birth to children who, if they enjoy something, will be so knowledgeable that they can teach you everything you need to know.  This meant I didn’t have to waste my time watching parts 4 – 6 (or whatever number the first three films are now!) and enjoyed the film so much.  Anyway sorry for the digression, lets get back to Anne.  The recording I watched was At the Ballet (from one of my favourites, The Chorus Line) and Anne was singing in it.  I do love Barbara but I was so blown away with Anne’s part.  The song was put on my iPod and I enjoy singing along to that.

As for Robert DeNiro, I was late in discovering him.  It was in Meet the Fockers that I probably first enjoyed watching him.  I know that he won an academy award for supporting actor in The Godfather Part II but I’m not that cultured.

I don’t take much notice about the critic’s view (as far as I’m concerned we are all different people and what I enjoy as my pastimes might all be different to another person.  If something is truly dreadful, the majority of people would agree.  Look, I like trashy Christmas movies but don’t enjoy trashy programmes with celebrities).  The film was perfect viewing for a Saturday evening and, I forgot to mention that once sat down to watch TV, I am well known for falling asleep, but this kept me awake.  I even left the ironing so I could get myself drawn into the story.

It is about Ben, played by Robert DeNiro, who is a widowed 70 year old.  Retirement isn’t so great especially as he is a widow so when he sees a advert for Senior Interns, he applies.

Jules, played by Anne, is a successful founder and owner of About the Fit, an e-commerce start up where Ben becomes an Intern.  Jules’ investors decide it is time to find an outside CEO to take some pressure off Jules which she is opposed to.

Whilst trying to keep her distance from Ben who has been assigned to her, Jules slowly finds Ben as someone she can trust and share her thoughts with.

You can’t help liking Ben’s character and he certainly gains the respect of his younger colleagues.   Ben is certainly a man who believes in tradition and still wears his suit to work.  He’s old and trusted briefcase goes with him too and the fact that he shaves everyday meets astonishment from his colleagues.

Whilst he might have old fashioned ways, he is still struck by how Jules has started her business and how much she cares in it and how she shares her ways with her staff.

Now I know I can actually watch a film without falling asleep, I can look forward to watching a bit more.