A Lottery Dream

Just recently some friends and I got talking about what we might spend our money on if we won the lottery and also about the things that we would like to do when we retire. I find it fascinating how different we are and what we think would make us happy if money was no object.

Some wanted new houses or very elaborate home improvements, some wanted to buy a fancy car. I don’t have particularly expensive tastes and I’ve never been a big fan of “things”. My house is somewhere that we live as a family, where people can come and feel comfortable. It does need some refurbishment, but it wouldn’t be anything particularly swanky or expensive,

I don’t particular wear a lot of jewellery and I’m not really into designer clothes. I do quite like a nice pair of shoes, but I’m not sure I’d spend my full pension or lottery win on shoes!

My ideal way to spend the money, would be to travel and see all those places that I’ve not been able to see, either due to lack of finances or lack of time. There’s lots of places in America that I’d still like to visit, Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, Lapland, in fact there is plenty of the world that I’ve not seen. A lot of the holidays that we have had have suited us as a family and it’s only been very recently that me and my husband have started to visit some of the places that we want to see, that the girls may not have been particularly interested in.

The other thing that I would love to do is to be able to book and see lots of different musical theatre shows, without having to worry about the cost. It would be lovely to travel to London, Broadway or Las Vegas to see different shows every few weeks. I am very lucky in that I do go to the theatre fairly often, but tend to book things that I’ve seen before, or that I have a pretty good idea that I am going to like. It would be wonderful to be able to book something without having to think about paying a lot of money for something that I end up not liking.

To be fair there are very few musical theatre shows that I haven’t enjoyed. Even those where I have thought it wasn’t my particular cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed watching just for the sheer spectacle, the costumes or just seeing the wonderful talent of the performers. I love a good show or a concert and I would certainly be able to fill my time with these things.

Who knows, I might even be wearing a new pair of shoes !!

 

 

Time Flies

I can’t believe that we are already on Wednesday and that I have not got round to writing my blog again this week. I also can’t believe that it is the middle of August already, where does the time go?

This week it will be my eldest daughter’s 21st birthday, the last milestone birthday of the year for us as a family. It has certainly been a year for milestone birthdays, with me being 50, my youngest being 18 and my eldest being 21. That certainly wasn’t planned in any way, but it has made for a very busy, exciting, if not slightly expensive year.

This week also sees the week, where my youngest daughter will receive her A Level results. She is not particularly concerned about this, as she does not wish to go to university and has already found herself a job, but I do feel for all those other students and parents out there, who are anxiously waiting to see what Thursday will bring.

Making Progress

Over the last couple of weeks I have felt really motivated to keep up with my running and also to keep on with the healthy eating. I certainly feel much better for it and feel that I am definitely making progress with my fitness.

On Tuesday I attended at my usual Slimming World class and it was the evening to award the “Woman of the Year”. The people who had been nominated talked about what had been the defining moment that brought them to lose weight and what a difference that it had made to their lives.

It was very inspiring to listen to their stories and very moving too. It certainly got me thinking about the difference losing a couple of stone and increasing my exercise has done for me. Interestingly, some of the women had no photos from when they started losing weight, which said a lot about the lack of confidence that you can have when you are overweight. I certainly felt that I didn’t want to appear on photos. I’m still not the most photogenic person , but don’t completely hate having my photo taken anymore.

Hopefully I’ll keep up the hard work and continue with the progress. I’ll let you know how I get on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographic Memories

As this week has been a fairly ordinary run of the mill week, I decided that I didn’t want to bore everyone with that, so I thought I’d bore you with something else instead. Recently, due to the family celebrations we have had in our family, we have looked through lots of photographs. This got me thinking about how important photographs are, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite ones with you.

We have so many photographs, that it was difficult to pick just a few, so I tried to go for the less obvious ones and some that were not so recent. I’ve only picked six, as I really could have gone on forever.

So as they say on TV, in no particular order, here are those that made it through to the final six:

001 (2)This photograph is of me and my three brothers. It must have been taken some time in 1970, as my youngest brother was born in December 1969 and he’s the baby on the photograph. For those of you that were around then, This was the typical family photo of the day, taken by professional photographers. Everything is so relaxed these days, but we look very formal. We are all still smiling so that’s a good thing. When I look at this photo, it makes me smile that I had the exact same haircut as the boys!

IMG_2238This photo was taken at my brother’s wedding in October 2017. We had an absolutely fabulous time at the wedding and I could have picked lots of photographs from that day as there were so many good ones. The reason I picked this one of me, my sister in law and my friend was because it captured a moment of laughter, brought about by someone saying “I think you’ll need a wind angle lens”, when we asked to have our photo taken. The looks on our faces say it all!

003 (2)This looks like a really bizarre photograph, which of course it is, but there is a story behind it. One weekend, me and two of my very good friends were working together and had one of those moments of silliness. We decided to make a Christmas card for the rest of our colleagues. The lady with the big stick on teeth, is my very closed friend who died over 18 months ago. Myself and my other friend are wearing masks of her face and Christmassy headdresses. It seemed very amusing at the time and this photograph sums up what it was like working together as a team. It may not be funny to anyone else, but I guess you had to be there.

10485523_10152230028534499_8521081042482113921_nStrictly speaking this is a selfie rather than a photograph, but it brings back great memories, as it was taken in July 2014, the night we all went on holiday together. It’s the last time that all eight of us went together. We had a really great time and it was good to get that time together as a family.

625591_10151330243894499_1209778002_nThis was the first time that I had seen my eldest daughter take a main part in a show. She had been in many things before this, but when she played Christine in Phantom of the opera, I realised for the first time that she was going to be able to pursue her dream of being a performer. I had never been so nervous in my life when she first cam on the stage. I don’t know who took the photograph, as it appeared on Facebook after the show, but I am very grateful to whoever did, even though they probably shouldn’t have.

11222689_10206924951859591_8324028927852098422_n

I’m not sure that the young people in this photograph will appreciate me putting this on as they are now very grown up and sophisticated. This was taken on a family holiday, when we used to go as a big group. They were great holidays for all of us and a very special time. On this particular holiday we all had T-shirts and were “Clampitts on tour” on the back. I’m sure that whoever shared the campsite with us were mortified when we all turned up. We had some great laughs and my children have wonderful memories of these holidays.

Hope you like the photos. I’m sure that you all have favourite photos that mean so much to you and I’d be happy to see those that bring back memories for you.

An eventful week (2)

So the second part of the week was spent celebrating our youngest daughters 18th birthday. It’s really hard to believe that she is eighteen already! When we used to go on holiday in a big family group she was always the baby and now she’s an adult too.

Celebration cocktails

On Thursday it was her actual birthday and we had a bit of a lazy day at home then celebrated by gong into Leeds for cocktails. There were a couple of friends and one of the mums who I am also friends with. We had a few cocktails together and then the young ladies went of to celebrate whilst me and my friend returned home. I’m definitely not cut out for partying until the early hours any more.

Party time!

On Friday evening we had the official party at our local country club, which sounds much grander than it actually is, but it was a great venue for her to be able to celebrate with her friends.

Early in the evening the family guests began to arrive and I was a little concerned when there were very few friends there. However I was reliably informed that no one goes out that early and true to form about 1 1/2 hours later the friends began to drift in and there was a steady stream of them for the rest of the evening.

They were a great bunch of young people. They probably drank too much, but there were no problems and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, which was the main thing.

The food consisted of take away pizza, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread and chips, followed by tiers of donuts. I was a bit dubious when she told me that this was what she wanted, but it actually worked really well and certainly as much easier than preparing loads of food that no one eats.

At the end of the night the younger ones went off to party some more and yes older folk went home to put our feet up.

It was great to see the young people enjoying themselves and was good to get the family together too. I may be biased but I’m really proud of how she has grown up and what a lovely articulate and sociable young woman she has turned into.

The only downside to this week is that I have  probably eaten my body weight in donuts and pizza and really need to get back on the healthy eating, but for this week, life was not about eating lettuce and fruit, but about spending time as a family and celebrating their achievements.

 

An Eventful Week (1)

On Monday my husband, youngest daughter and myself travelled to London for our eldest daughters graduation from The London College of Music at The University of West London. She has graduated with first in BA hons in Musical Theatre. Last week I mentioned how she had overcome the initial let downs and has worked hard and been so determined, that even though I may be biased I honestly believe that she deserves that achievement.

Proud parent moment

The graduation ceremony took place yesterday at Wembley Stadium, which in itself is a pretty impressive place. I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony before. Other than my sister in law, who I didn’t really know when she was a student, my eldest daughter is the first person in the family to go to university.

The ceremony ran like clockwork, from registering, collecting gowns, having photos taken to entering the Great Hall, it was obviously meticulously planned. The actual walking across the stage was a “blink and you might miss it” moment, but was still worth the wait.

Afterwards the graduates were allowed out onto the terrace to take photos, which was great. Then it was into central London with some friends and their families for a meal in the Coppa Restaurant next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Afterwards the young people went off to party and us older folk went back to the hotel for a well earned rest.

It was a great day, marred very slightly by one of the mum’s not being very well at the end of the night, so I wish her a speedy recovery.

I want to thank everyone at the University, who has tutored, encouraged and inspired my daughter through the last three years. Particularly the group of friends who have been an inspiration, support and an endless source of entertainment for me.

I’d also like to wish them all the best of luck as they begin their new journey out in the big wide world. Continue to support each other as you’ve done over the last three years and you won’t go wrong.

Here’s  to the future, embrace it, whatever it may bring.

Everything Happens for a Reason

So today the tickets arrived for my eldest daughter’s graduation. I am so excited. I can’t believe it’s finally here. I also can’t believe how quickly the last three years have gone by.

I remember going to all the auditions with her and her not being offered a place anywhere. I was heartbroken, but she handled it much better than me. She believed that something would come along that would be right for her and would come at the right time.

Her favourite saying has always been “Everything happens for a reason”. I have always told her that this is true, but she has been much more faithful to this than I have ever been. I try to think that things happen that are meant to and that in the future we will find out the reason why. Sometimes this is not so easy.

It’s hard to understand the reason why someone dies or falls ill, especially when they are very young. It’s hard to understand why there can be terrorist attacks or big disasters like the Grenfell Tower.

I have worked for many years with the most vulnerable people in our society who have been treated horrendously by those who should care for them the most. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve asked myself how people can be so cruel and if everything happens for a reason, what on earth could be the reason behind this type of behaviour.

I wish I could say that I was going to give you the answer, but I can’t. I only know that it has helped my daughter through some difficult situations over the years. She did get offered a place at university, not the one that she had originally thought of going to, but the one that when she’d visited she really liked instantly. There were others that were more popular or more high profile, but she knew what she was comfortable with and where she would fit in. She’s had a superb three years, met some great people, had some great experiences and come out with a first in her degree. Maybe that was the reason she got turned down for the others.

It’s certainly helped her over the last few months of auditions, where she accepts rejection as part of her development and chance to practice her skills.

When I discussed with people at work about whether “Everything happens for a reason”, some were very sceptical, saying that things just happen by chance and that there is no big master plan.

What do you think??

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nasty Germs and Trashy TV

For the last week or so I have been suffering from some virally type thing which has given me an awful cold and a chesty cough. I spent a few days coming straight home from work and then going off to bed as I felt so terrible. As a result of this I have not done any exercise at all and have not eaten anything that you could describe as healthy. I guess that some weeks just have to be written as a lost cause. So what do you do when you feel ill and can’t be bothered?

Guilty Pleasures

As my daughters got to be teenagers they began to watch what I can only describe as trashy TV. These were things that I considered myself far too intelligent to watch and thought that they were a waste of time. Reality TV, which bears no resemblance to reality at all. Young people with perfect bodies, hair and teeth, who’s sole purpose is to look good. Judging people by how they look and if they can attract someone of the opposite sex (or the same sex), rather than on any achievements or personality.  However, I seem to have become obsessed with one of these very programmes – Love Island!

It originally started when we were on holiday a couple of years ago. We would often come back in from having a meal and a few drinks and it would be on the TV. My first reaction was that it was a load of rubbish, but I found myself being drawn in to watching it. Soon it started to promote discussion with my daughters about people’s morals and the importance of looks above any kind of substance.

Now my youngest daughter and I watch it together. I even wait for her to come home from work rather than watch it before she gets in. It may be trashy TV, but it is one thing that brings us closer, at least for the 7 or so weeks that it’s on. It doesn’t need me to think in any way and sometimes that’s just the kind of entertainment I need. Sometimes I feel as if I should make some sort of apology for watching this. It goes against everything I have taught my girls over the years, but for some reason I can’t help myself.

We also watch Hollyoaks together, which again promotes a lot of discussion between us, quite often about sensitive subjects. Sometimes it’s just nice to spend half an hour together watching TV and chatting. My husband despairs at the stuff we watch together sometimes, but I really enjoy that time.

 

 

 

 

Just for me

Run Forrest Run

I surprised myself this week by taking part in a running session at an athletics track. I had signed up on line with Tingely Runfit and it seemed like a really good idea at the time. I thought that it would be fun and a bit of a new challenge for me. On the night however it was absolutely pouring with rain. I briefly thought about cancelling, but felt that this was unfair to the lovely lady who had organised it.

So I turned up in the pouring rain, expecting to absolutely hate it. Bizarrely I found myself really enjoying it. Running the different distances around the track was different and allowed me to get a bit of speed up (and I do mean a bit!) without worrying about whether I would make it to the end of the run.

On Saturday I also got a personal best (43;08)at Oakwell Parkrun. This may still be really slow for most, but I was really pleased with my progress. On the back of that I’ve also signed up for the Abbey Dash, which is a 10k run in November. Hopefully this will spur me on to keep training and hopefully get round the 10k in a fairly reasonable time.

If anyone had ever said to me that I would be running because I enjoyed it rather than because I had to, I would never have believed them. now I do it just because I can.

 

Just Sing!

On Saturday night, I was honoured to be part of the Summer Harmonies concert as part of Batley Community Choir.  Also in the concert was Batley Parish School Singing Group and the Gawthorpe Brass ’85 Youth Band. The Town Hall was full and the concert went really well. The children sang beautifully and the band were excellent. I loved singing with the choir and the evening ended with the whole audience standing up and singing and dancing to “Walking on Sunshine”. It was great! The money raise will go to #more in common, the charity set up in memory of Jo Cox.

Being part of the choir has been a great experience, as it was one of the first things that I did just for me. I’m not involved in the organising, the planning and I don’t have to feel responsible for anyone else. It has been brilliant to go along and do something purely for pleasure, which has got me involved in other community activities along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Inspiring Weekend

The beginning of the week started off as fairly average really. Not that I’m complaining, sometimes having an ordinary makes me perfectly happy. However, this weekend was something else.

Volunteering Warms The Heart

On Saturday, because there was a shortage of volunteers, I helped out at Parkrun for the first time rather than running. I have to say, it was really great to see it from a different aspect. All the runners were so friendly and were thanking the volunteers as they ran past. I know when I run, I struggle to speak at all, but always try and give a smile to the volunteers just to let them know they are appreciated. I really enjoyed volunteering and as the last person came past, I walked around the rest of the course and then walked across the park too, just to make sure I got my steps in for the day. I’m glad I volunteered, as without people volunteering, things like the Parkrun wouldn’t exist.

Saturday afternoon was our church Summer Fair. I had created some activities for the children to do and some games and challenges for the adults too, all on a teddy bear theme. I think that most people enjoyed them. One was a matching game, a bit like the game of pairs, but timed to see who could do it fastest. It never ceases to amaze me how competitive adults can be! There were some who had to just have another go when someone had beaten their time.

The main event of the afternoon was parachuting teddy bears off the church tower. They  were hauled up in a basket, attached to a parachute and then launched off the roof. The winner was the bear who landed nearest to the target. A few of the bears got near the target but there were quite a few that had to be bravely rescued from trees and from the church roof!

Run For Jo

On Sunday I took part in the Run for Jo at Oakwell Hall Country Park in Birstall. The day started with me singing with Batley Community Choir, as we opened the days celebrations in memory of Jo Cox. It was warm but quite drizzly, but we sang our hearts out on the little stage. Everyone was excited by the fact that Eddie Izzard was joining in the run and he gave a short speech before a warm up for the runners.

Luckily the rain dried up and the sun started to show its face, just before the runs started. The first run was 2.5k and there were people of all ages taking part, from really small toddlers, to grandparents. It was great to cheer them on at various places around the course.

The next run was 6.5k, which I had signed up for, but to be quite honest, a few minutes before it started I was having serious doubts about why I had! I don’t know why I do this. Whenever I have put my mind to something in the past I always manage to achieve it, so I need to stop convincing myself that I can’t.

The run was through the park, across fields, paths, through trees and bridges over streams. Interspersed along the way were singers, drummers, buskers and cheerleaders, along with the marshals, all willing everyone along and keeping us all going. There was even a climb over a style at one point, which allowed everyone to catch their breath whilst they waited. I managed to have enough energy on the way round to say thank you to the musicians and marshals.

The finish of the run was down hill and I managed to run all the way to the finish line hearing people cheering. It may have taken me 57 minutes, but what an amazing feeling!

After We had food, there was then a mascots race, where Ronnie the Rhino, The Fairtrade banana and various other mascots raced against each other.

It was an absolutely brilliant day, with people of all ages coming together to run together and to celebrate #more in common, remembering Jo Cox, whose vision for a better world has inspired so many people.

Long may it continue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Together

Blimey my blog is late again. I’m not quite sure what’s happening. My weekends seem to be so packed that I don’t seem to get round to writing on a Sunday evening.

Community Spirit

This weekend was a really important one for the community of Batley, where I have lived all my life. It was also a really important weekend for communities all over the country.  This was the weekend of the Great Get Together, where people of all different backgrounds joined together to celebrate their diversity and to recognise the things that we have in common. I loved reading the updates about the various events that were taking place and the heart warming photographs of people from all walks of life coming together.

A friend of mine wrote a really good blog about this, which I would recommend if you want to know what it was all about

https://grimois.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/why-my-great-get-together-weekend-wont-be-soured-by-events-in-finsbury-park/

As part of the “More in Common” weekend, I attended an open air service at All Saints Church, Batley with my mum and my eldest daughter. I haven’t attended church much recently, as I have felt unsure where I fit in and just exactly how I feel about my faith. However the service on Sunday was relaxed and informal. The hymns were modern and upbeat and the sun was shining. It made me really think about the fact that  whether you had the same faith as others, or any faith at all, doesn’t really matter. What is important is that we treat others with respect, kindness and as we would like to be treated.

Family Gathering

As Sunday was Father’s Day, we had a family barbeque. The sun was still shining and it was great for us to get together and have chance just to sit and chat and have some food and drinks. My mother in law and father in law couldn’t come as my mother in law has just had an operation on her knee and had just come out of hospital.

After we had eaten for some reason the women were sat inside and we began chatting about faith, beliefs, learning about different cultures and tolerance. It was really interesting to hear other peoples views and to understand that although we may not always agree with others, sometimes it is good to air your views and let other people know how you feel.

Tomorrow my eldest daughter returns to London, to start looking for work and a new house, so I wish her luck with that. It’s been wonderful to have her home, but my bank account and my healthy eating have suffered whilst she’s been at home. I’m not sure which one of us is the bad influence.

 

Damage Limitation

After eating my body weight in cake and ice cream over the last couple of weeks, I dragged myself back to slimming world tonight and unsurprisingly I had put weight on. It’s now four weeks to my eldest daughter’s graduation and youngest daughter’s 18th Birthday party, so I have had to give myself a stern talking to and get myself back on track. I have made myself a healthy breakfast and lunch to take to work tomorrow. I realise how much money I’ve spent buying unhealthy food over the last few weeks, so not only will it be better for my health, but also for my bank balance.

I won’t dwell on it, its done now, so I’ll draw a line under it and start again tomorrow morning with a clean slate. I’ve also booked myself in with run together tomorrow to make sure I get my exercise back on track too.