A Fitting Farewell

I’m not sure if it appears strange to write in a blog about a funeral. The last few weeks of my dad’s life were really hard and I thought that the funeral would be too, but although it was a difficult day, I write this feeling very peaceful and calm, honestly believing that my dad is now at rest. Yesterday, the funeral was very sad in many ways, but mostly it was a celebration of his life and a chance for us to share our memories.

Well Made Plans

Although dad was a great storyteller, he was never someone who really discussed personal issues or emotions. I guess he comes from that era of “stiff upper lip”. However, a few days before he died, during the night he sat in the living room with me and my mum and told us what he wanted us to do when he died. This made planning dad’s funeral a much easier process.

He said that he didn’t want a massive fuss, he didn’t want a fancy coffin or to spend a fortune on flowers. He wanted to be cremated.  He chose the music that he wanted, said that he wanted to go to church, but most importantly of all, he wanted us to be together as a family and he wanted to go on a bus.

Dad was a massive fan of buses and trams throughout his life, so it was inevitable that this would appear somewhere in his final wishes. We discussed as a family that it would probably mean hiring a bus and travelling together as a family to scatter dad’s ashes. However when we began to discuss this with the funeral director, it became apparent that in the world of funerals, almost nothing is impossible.

Special Messages Or Coincidences

Yesterday dawned, clear, bright and sunny. It reminded me of days when we would be complaining that it was cold and dad would say “It will be too hot to walk about by dinner time”. I was awake early and was watching the news. There was an interview with Michael Caine and during it they showed a clip of the film “Zulu”. This was my dad’s favourite film ever! At that moment in time I felt that dad really was watching over us and that all would be well.

Just What He Wanted

All the family met at my mum’s house. We were all quite anxious. Me and my brothers had all chosen to be involved in the service. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who doubted that I would actually be able to hold it together at the time.

Dad’s hearse then arrived. This was a vintage red London bus. It was really emotional to see my dad’s coffin inside initially, but then we knew that it was the right thing. He would have loved travelling on the bus and it also meant that as a family we were all able to go to the funeral together.

When we arrived at the church it was moving to see how many people were there. The first hymn was “The day thou gavest Lord is ended”. My older brother, sang the first verse as a solo. A very brave thing to do, which he managed with hardly a wobble in his voice. I manged to read a poem ” Remember me”, by Anthony Dowson. I had a few wobbles, but managed to get through it with a few pauses for deep breaths. My youngest brother then read a eulogy, which contained some lovely memories of dad. Again he held it together throughout.

We then had the hymn “I vow to thee my country”. We picked this as dad had been a rugby fan and liked a rousing patriotic hymn.

Afterwards we had a slideshow of photographs which were accompanied by Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez. Dad asked for this music as he loved the film “Brassed Off” and this particular part, where the piece of music is referred to by the band as “Orang Juice”. The photos were very moving, but there were also some really happy memories of dad and of us together as a family.

At the end of the service we left the church to  “Land of Hope and Glory” Dad had asked for this music, which we were we going to sing as a hymn, but we realised when making the plans that it is not actually a hymn and that other than the chorus from last night of the proms, no one actually knew any more of it.

After church we went to the crematorium, which was the hardest part of the day. Mum had chosen two songs from my dad’s favourite singer, Doris Day. On arrival we had “Que sera sera” and on leaving we had “I will always love you”. It was difficult leaving the crematorium, knowing that we had finally said goodbye to dad.

 

 

 

 

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Getting Together

We then went on our final bus journey to the local Golf Club, to celebrate dad’s life and share memories of him. It was lovely to chat about the good times we have shared as a family and as friends, what we will do in the future and to know that we had done the best that we could do to give him a good send off.

Families can be funny things and our family is no different. There are always people that you are closer to and those that are not so close. There are celebrations, disputes, disagreements, laughter and tears. There are those that you get on with really well and those who you have little in common with. There are friends who support you through the hardest times who become as close as family. There are those friends that you don’t see for ages, but are there when it counts. Yesterday,  we all worked together as a team and made it a day to remember, just as my dad wanted.

A Few Thank You’s

In ending this I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes, cards and flowers to me and my family. For those who have helped to support us over the last few weeks in every way. For those who have put up with the varied emotions that I have gone through, particularly my husband and children who have had to live with me.

In particular I would also like to thank

The nurses and carers that looked after my dad in his last days

Andrew Box and everyone at the funeral directors, Eric F Box, who did everything possible to grant my dads, last wishes, making the planning less painful and helping the day go smoothly and of course, finding “the bus”

Father Martin Naylor and Tineke Bentley and those at Batley Parish Church for the warm welcome, prayers, eulogy and commendation

Hanging Heaton Golf Club, for the food, drinks and lovely surroundings

And lastly to my mum, who is an amazingly strong lady, who has lived through so much and faced it with strength and dignity, an example to us all.

 
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Everyone’s Talking About….

Well another month has gone by and a few things have changed. We have had another baby in the family, which is always a lovely thing.  She is my great step-niece (if that’s an actual thing) I haven’t met her yet, but from the photographs she looks beautiful, so it will be lovely to see her. Unfortunately last night my brother told me that she is in hospital, so I’m keeping my fingers (and everything else crossed) that she is okay.

My eldest daughter has returned to live at home, after working abroad for a few months, she was really unhappy, so is now back with us. It’s nice to have her home, but I’m sure it won’t be long before she finds some work again.

A trip to Portugal

As our daughter was working out in Portugal, my husband and I decided to go out and visit her for a few days. We stayed at the Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa in  Albufeira. The hotel was really lovely, set in really beautiful grounds with a really big pool. The rooms were really nice and we had a room overlooking the pool. We only had breakfast there, which was amazing. There was some much delicious food to choose from, both healthy and not quite so healthy.

When we left the UK the weather was amazingly hot, so arriving in Portugal to an overcast, but warm day was a little bit disappointing, but as the day wore on, the sun came out and it stayed hot, but quite windy for the rest of the days we were there.

Albufeira was quite nice, although quite a busy place. We only got to see a small part of it over a few days, so it’s really difficult to give a proper opinion. Maybe we’ll go back one day and see a bit more of it.

Everyone’s talking about Jamie

On Sunday afternoon I went to see Everyone’s Talking About Jamie. This was recorded from the theatre, but shown at the cinema. I have heard some of the music from it previously and knew that it was about a sixteen year old boy who has the dream of becoming a drag queen.

I was absolutely blown away by the show. Everything about it was absolutely amazing, from the set, the singing, acting and dancing. Everyone who was in it was so talented. The story has you laughing one minute and crying the next. It is a really feel good show, but with the message that you should follow your dreams and accept people for who they are.

I have to say that I would love to see this live now at the theatre, so I’ll add this to my “must see” list.

 

 

 

 

Back to reality

Our final leg of the canal journey took us through beautiful countryside, with glorious sunshine.

Peace and quiet

Friday started off with a gentle mist rolling down the canal. The sun was out and the sky was a clear blue. Other than the birds singing there was hardly a noise. It was so quiet in fact that when a hot air balloon passed overhead you could actually hear it. I live in a town, near a road and it is unknown for it to be so quiet.

There were fewer locks today, but the ones we passed through were very pretty and well kept. We moored up at Penkbridge, where we had a lovely meal at the Littleton pub, which was a short walk into town.

On Saturday we were up early as we had to make our way through the last few locks before returning our boat. We had a short stop off for breakfast before heading off home.

An American in Paris

Most of the weekend was spent washing and sorting out after our holiday. The weather was still beautiful, so we had all the garden furniture out and washed that too.

Later, on Sunday afternoon, I had booked to go to the cinema, to see An American in Paris, which had been filmed from the stage show. It was absolutely amazing!

The singing and dancing by all the cast was superb. It was a really great end to what has been a wonderful week.

Old Friends and Fat Friends

Dealing with change

This week I went to a leaving “do” for a friend that I used to work with. I left the department almost two years ago, as it was time to move on and have a change in direction with my career. Since then it seems that a lot of my old friends and colleagues have also moved on. Some have moved to other departments, but this particular friend has moved on completely, leaving the job and starting a new career and a completely new direction.

It was lovely to catch up with old friends and colleagues during the course of the evening, but also quite emotional, as it was the end of an era, with the department that I worked in completely changing. The sad thing is that a lot of the staff who work there are very disillusioned and demoralised. It is such a shame as it used to be such a great place to work, with a brilliant team spirit. Hopefully as new staff move in, it will have a new lease of life and will become a great place to work again.

To all those that are leaving, I hope that they find a new challenge and a role that they love and are passionate about. I certainly feel that I have found that in my role, although it doesn’t stop me moaning and getting frustrated at time.

 

Fat Friends The Musical

This weekend me and my husband went to see Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre. I like Kay’s writing and have enjoyed the different series that have been on TV. I definitely liked the Fat Friends series as it was really funny and was so recognisable by anyone who has ever had a weight problem or attended a slimming club.

The show was really funny. It’s a long time since I heard my husband laugh out loud like that. The cast were really good, with some really strong singing and acting. It was nice to see local actors, particularly Neil Hurst, who we have seen many times in pantomime at Halifax. My only real issue with it was Freddie Flintoff. I know that having a celebrity sells tickets to a show, but there are loads and loads of young people out there who have studied drama or musical theatre that are desperate for work, that I fail to see why an ex cricketer who cant really act and definitely can’t sing, would be offered a role like this.

I know that I am biased as my daughter and many of her friends are seeking Musical Theatre work, but the same goes for pantomimes who have “famous” people in them, with current or former careers (or who are famous for being famous), rather than employing talented actors singer or dancers.

I am also a bit of a theatre snob and find it a bit annoying when someone famous comes on the stage and everyone cheers. Not particularly a problem in the Fat Friends production as it was very light hearted and a little “pantomimey”, but in a serious moment in a production when people screech and whistle, I find this irritating.

At least there was no one texting, facebooking or taking photos in the middle of the performance for a change, which is another pet hate of mine.

Shows and Showers

Life is a Cabaret

On Friday evening I went with a couple of friends to see Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre. I have only ever seen the film version before. My eldest daughter had seen the stage version a few years ago and had been really impressed by it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl (Mum, it was amazing… you have to see it!)

The production was excellent and I really enjoyed the show. All the performers were amazing, particularly Will Young and Louise Redknapp. The ensemble were pretty stunning too and showed off some impressive dance talent. I hadn’t told either of my friends anything about it, as I didn’t want to spoil it.

The first half is pretty crazy, set in Berlin, mainly centred around the Kit Kat Klub and its eccentric performers. It’s definitely not for those who are easily offended, but does a really good job at getting the point across.

One of my friends wasn’t really sure whether she liked it or not. However during the second half, the mood changes as the Nazis start to make their presence known, culminating in a pretty shocking ending (even though my daughter had told me about it, I wasn’t really prepared for how gobsmacked I would be).

All in all it was a great show. It wouldn’t be on my list of must see again, but I’m definitely glad that I went to see it. In this age where tolerance (or lack of it) is in the news all the time, it certainly makes you think about how we treat others who don’t necessarily fit in with our ideas of what is “normal” or acceptable.

 

On a lighter note

On Sunday I was invited to my niece’s baby shower. I’ve never been to a baby shower before. They weren’t really around when me and my friends had our babies. If I’m honest I wasn’t really sure what the purpose was, or what would be expected of me, whether I should buy a gift now or later, or both?!

My youngest daughter and I went along to the baby shower, armed with cup cakes with blue icing and appropriate “it’s a boy” toppers. I didn’t really want to take a present for the baby as I want to do this when he is born. I know this is probably an old fashioned view, but that’s just me. We did however take her a little present, just for her, rather than baby.

To be honest it was a really lovely afternoon. It was nice to see everyone and catch up and it was particularly good to see my lovely niece looking so well and clearly enjoying being pregnant.

On the way home my daughter said that it was probably the last time we would all be together for a while, as once she has the baby she won’t want everyone there at once (Sometimes she speaks a lot of sense). I guess that this is one of the purposes of the baby shower, a chance for us to be together, to celebrate her pregnancy and wish her well, rather than everyone turning up within a week of her having the baby, when she is just getting settled with her new family.

Now it’s just waiting and wishing her all the best and lots of love x

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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 !!

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on the good things in life

After all the sadness and unsettled feeling about the world in general, I am happy to say that I am feeling much more at peace with things this week.

A new life and new beginnings

I found out in the last couple of weeks that my lovely niece is pregnant with her first baby. She had had her first scan a couple of weeks ago and felt comfortable in sharing her good news with people. I am so happy for her and her partner and hope that everything goes well with the pregnancy.

It was also great earlier in the week when one of my lovely work colleagues brought his brand new baby son into work for everyone to see. He was a beautiful baby with lots of hair. Everyone was really pleased to see him and all the ladies wanted to have a little cuddle with him. It doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in the world, but a pregnancy or a  brand new baby always seems to bring such hope for the future. Who knows what these children will achieve in the future, or what the world may be like by the time they are adults, but for the present time they are safe and cared for by those who love them most.

A different new beginning

I was honoured to be invited to my friend’s retirement party yesterday. When I say retirement, he is only in his very early fifties, but has served with the Police for over 30 years. It was lovely to attend his celebration and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

One of the really great things was that quite a number of the people that were there had not seen me for quite a while and were very complimentary about how I looked. I guess when you see yourself on a day to day basis, you don’t realise how much you have changed over several months. Losing a couple of stones and growing my hair a bit longer certainly surprised some people and have to say that I felt very pleased with myself. Hopefully this will now spur me on to keep up with the healthy eating and exercise.

 

All together again

Another reason to be grateful this week is that we have our eldest daughter home from university for a visit and it is nice to be together again as a whole family. She is only here for a visit and will be returning to live in London to look for work, but it is nice to have her home for even a short time. Our youngest daughter starts her new job this week and has her final exam at school next week, so I guess that it is a new beginning for both of them.

New Challenges

Whilst I was tidying out the spare room I found a notebook with a list of things that I had hoped to achieve this year. Looking through it I was pleased to say that I have completed some of them and am on the way to completing others. I now need to think about new challenges for this year and also for the years to come. My friend wants me to complete a 10k run with her, which will be a challenge as I’m only just managing the whole of Parkrun, which is 5k. In a couple of weeks I am taking part in a 6k run in memory of Jo Cox and will also be singing with Batley Community Choir at the run (obviously not at the same time, I can’t actually speak when I run never mind sing!). We are also singing at a concert on 1st July in aid of Jo’s charities.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

A strange old week

A sad start to the week

Unfortunately Monday began with a funeral, of one of the lovely gentlemen that I know from church. It was certainly a drop back down to earth after the really exciting and amazing things that have been happening over the last few weeks.

For some unknown reason I woke up on Monday with a croaky voice and by Monday lunchtime my voice had gone completely and I was down to a whisper. It took until Wednesday for my voice to come back again. It was really hard work trying to continue as normal when I couldn’t speak properly, but I’m sure that there were a few people that enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Pride comes before a fall

On Tuesday I went to my usual Slimming World Meeting and was delighted to find out that I have now lost 2 stones. I was really pleased with this result and even more so, having seen someone that I know that I had not seen since before Christmas. They immediately mentioned how much weight I had lost and how good I was looking. This certainly made my day.

For some reason over the next few days I started to eat sweets, chocolate, crisps and all those things that I’ve managed to keep control of over the last few months. I have absolutely no idea why and as I write this blog I am still vowing that tomorrow will be a new start. I have given myself a good talking to and a reminder to be proud of what I have achieved so far, but never to be smug or complacent about it.

A trip to the theatre

On Wednesday evening two of my lovely friends very kindly took me to the theatre in Leeds to see Evita. This was my birthday present from them. We went to Gino Di Campo’s restaurant in Leeds for a lovely meal first.

I had never seen Evita on the stage before, only the fil version with Madonna. The production was excellent, really grabbing the attention. All the performers were really powerful singers and the dancing was impressive. I recognised quite a few of the songs and putting them into context in the show was great.

I don’t think that Evita will ever be my favourite musical, but I really enjoyed it and I’m glad I’ve finally seen it. It was certainly good to see something that I had not seen before.