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.

 

Oh What A Night!

I love it when a plan comes together

So after six months of planning this weekend was my fiftieth birthday party. I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. When people had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, there wasn’t anything that I wanted more than to have all my friends and family together in one place. It’s not that I wanted to be the centre of attention, or to show off, just to see everyone enjoying themselves, laughing, dancing and singing and to create the type of memories that money cannot buy.

Viva Las Vegas

I chose a Las Vegas theme for my party. Some people that know me well were a little surprised at this as I’m not really the bright lights, loud, brash and over the top type of person. Years ago I was the type of person who would have said that I wasn’t particularly bothered about travelling to the USA, but then we took our girls to Florida and all that changed. I loved the customer service, the attention to detail and the way that everything is just so much “bigger and better” than anywhere else. After this I was hooked and shortly afterwards visited Las Vegas for our wedding anniversary and I absolutely loved it! We returned again for our 25th Anniversary and it was just as magical the second time around.

I thin the reason that I love it some much is that it is just so not me. I love the countryside, walking, evenings in with friends, but there is also a side of me that loves a party and just having those moments where you can let your hair down and just be a little bit wild and slightly bonkers.

Worth the work

So I had a venue, got a DJ booked, I’d ordered a casino, arranged the catering and two ofmy eldest daughters lovely friends were coming to sing for me. I made table decorations, bunting and ordered sweets to make a candy buffet. I had decided on my playlist, which I have talked about on my blog previously.

I made my own invitations and sent them out, after writing, rewriting and writing again my guest list. There were loads more people I wanted to invite, but was limited for numbers. I managed to narrow it down to 120 people. I wanted the people there who had played a big part in my life and who would know how much that night meant to me.

Friday was spent with my youngest daughter making mountains of cupcakes. On Saturday the hairdresser did my hair at 930am. I was convinced that it would be a mess by the evening, but fate smiled on me, there was no wind, rain or drizzle and by evening it still looked the same.

My eldest daughter and her friends arrived safely and on time on the train from London. My youngest daughters friend came and did my makeup for me and we were ready to go.

At the venue, just before people arrived, I suddenly had that moment of doubt that it would all go horribly wrong and I started to panic. Everyone was telling me to calm down and that it would be fine. Once people started to arrive I started to calm down and enjoy myself. And boy did I enjoy myself!

It couldn’t have been better

The evening started with my daughter’s friends singing some swing songs. They were amazing! I haven’t named them on her, but hopefully with their permission I will share some of the video footage on a future blog. When the boys got me up to dance with them I was way out of my comfort zone, but I embraced it, went with it and actually enjoyed being the centre of attention. As a surprise for me my husband and eldest daughter sang a duet – Me and my shadow, which was so good.

 

Afterwards we had superb food and the casino was open. People were up dancing and we had table magic. My lovely brother in law took loads of photos.

I danced all night and I have blisters on my feet to prove it!

I didn’t drink too much. early in the evening my youngest daughter was trying to get me to drink jaeger bombs, but I wanted to enjoy the evening and still remember it in the morning! However she made me promise that at 1130pm I would drink a jaeger bomb, which I did! I think this was my first one ever and I quite enjoyed it.

I was so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves and I have to say that it was everything that I wanted it to be and more!

Sometimes you can plan things and they don’t end up being what you expected, or don’t make you as happy as you think they will, but on this occasion I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it felt to have such superb family and friends, who all joined in with the partying and many of whom embraced the theme by coming in fancy dress.

I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

The morning after!

This isn’t a tale of regret or hangovers!

Sunday morning dawned and was a beautiful sunny day. We had not gone to bed until about 230am, but I was wide awake at 630am, I think it was all the sugar!

I sat out in the garden, in the sunshine, with a cup of tea and waited for everyone else to wake up. We had six of my eldest daughter’s friends staying over and also my youngest daughter’s best friend. It was so great to have a house full of young people again.

I cooked breakfast for everyone and we sat out in the garden most of the day, eating sweets and cupcakes. I also broke one of the golden rules of our family and opened all my presents, even though my birthday isn’t until later this week.

Later in the day we went to see my daughter and her friends off at the station and then went to my brother in laws house to look through all the photos, which were superb and will save those brilliant memories for me.

I have to say it has been the best birthday weekend ever. I feel so lucky to have all these wonderful people around me and want to thank each and everyone one of you who made this such a happy and memorable birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Late entry

Apologies that I am writing a day late this week. I had quite a busy weekend and was out late yesterday evening, so didn’t have chance to write it yesterday.

A walk in the park

My husband and I went to visit our eldest daughter in London on Friday. It was a beautiful day and after we had parked up at her house we walked into Ealing to meet her from university. We walked through the parks and it was great to see all the children, young people and families in the park as they had finished school. Seeing everyone out enjoying the spring like weather and being out in the fresh air.

Later we went to the university to see the dance and musical theatre society show, which my daughter had helped to put together and choreograph. It was really impressive and again great to see young people working hard and loving performing. Another proud mum moment.

On Saturday I went to Gunnersbury Park and took part in Parkrun. At one time I would have never turned up at an event like that on my own, but having taken part in parkrun over the last few months, I had the confidence to turn up and know that the organisers and volunteers would be helpful and supportive. It was a really good run in the park and although I didn’t beat my quickest time, I actually ran all of it, rather than having to walk parts of it.

A walk on the canal

Yesterday my friend and I walked 12 1/2 miles on the canal in training for the moonwalk. We’ve managed to do a few training walks so far, gradually building up the distance. This is the longest one that we’ve done so far.

Again it was a lovely day and we walked at a fairly decent pace, managing to complete it in just under 4 hours. We are pleased with our progress and have a few more weeks of training before the big event on 13th May.

Menopause the musical

Last night I went with a couple of friends to see “Menopause the musical”. This was set in a department store, where four women “of a certain age” meet. They then begin to tell the tale of what happens during the menopause. the songs are all rehashed from well known songs, but with the lyrics changed to include references to the menopause.

There are only four women in the show, but they all had cracking voices and different slightly clichéd personalities. It was no great musical masterpiece, it was all very tongue in cheek,  a great laugh and there were certainly a lot of things that rang true. My particular favourite was a song called “My Thighs” sung to the tune of My Guy.

I know that the critics haven’t really rated it, but if you go with an open mind and a sense of humour you’ll probably enjoy it, especially if you are of that age.

I’m just a mum!

Proud mum moment

My youngest daughter took part in the school production of Billy Elliot at Woodkirk Academy this week and what a production it was! It had sell out shows every night.

The children and young people who took part were so talented and put their hearts and souls into the singing, dancing and acting. It was so good to see young people in a good light, compared to many of the things we see in the media everyday. From the performers on the stage, the orchestra and the back stage crew, the children were an absolute credit to their school.

Both of my daughters have been involved in productions at the school over time and I can honestly say that they have been some of the best performances that I have seen. I have to pay tribute to all the staff who are involved too as it would never happen without their hard work.

I couldn’t begin to pick out particular performers as they were all so good, but I have to say, even if I am a bit biased that my youngest daughter showed an aptitude for comedy timing that I didn’t know she possessed. Definitely a proud mum moment.

The performances, of all the children, in my opinion would rival any professional production. Considering that the oldest performer on the stage was eighteen years old, that’s pretty impressive.

Moving moments

Billy Elliot is one of those shows that has you laughing one minute and crying the next. It tells us a lot about family and community, but also about how it is sometimes really difficult to be different and that it’s okay to dream of a future that is out of the norm.

I absolutely love the show, One of the most moving moments for me is when Billy shows his dance teacher a letter that his mum wrote for him before she died. I can never listen to the song without being moved to tears. At the end the dance teacher tells Billy that his mother must have been a very special woman and he replies “No, she was just my mam”

Says it all really

A day for mothers

Today in the UK it was Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s day as it is more commonly referred to. It is a celebration of mothers, but also these days families as a whole.  I spent a lovely day with my husband, two daughters and extended family, at my sister-in-law’s house, where we all had lunch. It was lovely for us all to be together as we haven’t done that for a while. It was made even better by it being a glorious spring day. This allowed for sitting in the garden during the afternoon, chatting and relaxing. I couldn’t really ask for anything else to make it a perfect day.

It was so lovely to have both my girls home this weekend and to see them together, having grown into two very lovely young women (in my humble opinion). I am so proud of them both and feel very fortunate to have been given the privilege  of being a mother.

The eldest one has now gone back to London now, but will be back home in a couple of weeks for the big 50th birthday party. Can’t believe its so close now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the music

A Party Playlist

As part of the planning for my 50th birthday party , I have been starting to devise a playlist. I thought that this would be an easy task, just to pick some music that gets people up on the dance floor. However, It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I know that a lot of the people who are coming won’t have seen  each other for some time, so I wanted to have some “background” music to allow people to catch up with each other and chat. The plan then is to have this music until we have food, followed by music for people to dance to. Still not an easy thing to do as there is so much music that I love to listen to, that makes me happy, that makes me want to dance or makes me want to sing along. So how do you start to choose the right music for the occasion ?

A meaningful playlist

Music is such an important part of my life and always has been. In making a playlist, I wanted to choose music that has meant something throughout my life. Music reminds me of past events, both happy and sad. There has been music played at weddings, parties, celebrations and also at funerals. There’s the music that just has the words that I need at that moment in time. When I hear that music again it takes me back to the emotions that I felt, offers some peace or allows me to take my mind elsewhere. Music can help us to express ourselves, whether through singing, dancing, daydreaming or sometimes having a good cry.

I can’t say that I have a particular taste in music. As a child I remember my parents and brothers listening to various things, from classical to reggae to heavy metal music. I was a teenager through a big part of the eighties and love that era for it’s music which I still listen to now. I love to listen to musical theatre soundtracks. I have gone to church most of my life and have favourite hymns and religious music.  As my children have grown up, we have gone through various stages of liking different music and I have listened to them all with an open mind, although I have begun to sound a bit like my mum, when I say things like “It’s a bit loud” and “It doesn’t have much of a tune”

So what have I chosen for my playlist?

Here’s just a taster:

Rick Astley – Never gonna give you up- from when I met my husband

Journey – Don’t stop believing – Just says it all really

Scissor Sisters – I don’t feel like dancing – Reminds me of my girls being in pantomime when they were little and always makes me want to dance

Michael Bublé – Feeling Good – Another song that my daughters did a dance routine to which made me so proud and is always uplifting

What music would you choose that marks important events in your life?