Mother’s Day 2021

          I’m assuming my memory has always been bad because I seem to have compensated for it for ever. I do find I have quite a few memories still safely tucked away in the murky grey cells, they’re often triggered by old photos however, and just like my very old photos, they’re all in a box without any organising so making some sort of sense out of the order they pop up into my thoughts is quite a puzzle sometimes.

          I’ve been blogging now for close on ten years, who would have thought I’d last this long. The logging of memories and dates has helped no end with being able to recall what I was doing and where I was doing it at a past date in time. I can still pinpoint a couple of memories, but these seem to be which have piggybacked onto dates which have their own reasons to be remembered.

          I remember Mum-in-law’s first sign of the “Big C” because she was fine at Middle Daughters wedding and not-so-fine just two weeks after it. I also remember when it returned as Mum-in-law was in the middle of a course of radiotherapy at Eldest Daughter’s wedding. (I’ll just add a note here that Mum-in-law is heading towards that all important cancer free landmark of five years) .

          I don’t remember the day as such, but I do remember the date very clearly when Mothers day fell on the same day as Youngest Daughter’s birthday. She was actually born on Mother’s Day that year, but due to the circumstances at the time, “I missed it“.

          I don’t remember Mother’s Day last year, I think we would have just gone into our first lockdown so I probably had other things on my mind. This year, we’re in lockdown again, but we’ve gotten used to how this new normal works. I posted my Mum and Mum-in-law their cards, and wished them happy mothers day over the phone. My girls are a little more tech-savvy than both me and Hubby put together …

          Not only did they send me cards, one of which was bought and posted directly from online somewhere, but they also managed to send me cake. Amazing!

          I will remember Mother’s Day 2021 as the the Mother’s Day that I had cake in the post. Hubby had to work a long shift so I spent the day on my own and painted the passage yellow. When next year’s Mother’s Day comes around, I hope we can all spend it together, and when it does come around, I’ll look at the yellow paint in the passage and smile.

          More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults

School socialising

          With a little bit of luck, we’re finally on our way out of this strange situation we’ve come to know as the new normal. I for one will be really glad to see the kids back in school.

          This may seem like a strange comment for someone in my lifetime situation, I have no school age children myself, Grandson doesn’t even know school exists, and yet I look forward to the “little mites” leaving their virtual lockdowns and coming back out into the real world. I look forward to a whole host of familiar faces returning to my work hours at the shop. Oh yes, they are quite capable of bringing chaos with them, but I enjoy the energy they bring to the day, and, as is my way, I’m nice to them, and in return most of them are nice to me.

          The locals have learned not to expect a quiet shop during tea break and lunch hour at the local college, especially so with the limited numbers allowed in, and the social distancing (or very often lack of it) from the college kids. But lunchtime socialising is every much as needed as maths and english when it comes to learning life skills for the future.

          My lunchtime socialising during my school years was a bit of a mixture. School dinners, packed lunches, lunch at my grandmother’s house, these were the legitimate lunchtime activities, but there were many more lunchtime activities which weren’t included on the menu too.

          I don’t remember lunch times in primary school, I have vague memories of walking back and for between school and two diffent houses (not both at the same time) so there’s a very good chance we simply went home for lunch. But secondary school was further away so I’m guessing lunch at home wasn’t really an option.

          The options available in secondary school were school dinners or packed lunch. Packed lunch was eaten in the junior hall, my group of packed lunch friends used to huddle just to the left as you entered the hall. I don’t remember much about our lunch food, but our drinks were quite varied, and we used to share. We had flasks with lids which were cups, we would pass on a cup full of our drink in return for a cupful of someone else’s. No washing of cups between sharing, no sanitising of hands, no masks, no social distancing … I can feel the shock, horror on your faces, but this is how it was done then … And we are all still here to tell the tale.

          One of my friends was from an army family, she had spent a lot of her youth in Germany and had discovered a liking for a particular German soup. It was thin soup, almost more of a stock, without any lumps, but it had dark green bits, like grass, floating in it, but the green bits obviously weren’t grass. She brought it every day, and it was a big hit. I’m still in touch with this friend today… She’s the “Rabbit Lady” .

          Another friend, the pretty, and sporty one of the group who was always so much better at everything than me (add a slight bit of a green tinge to those words, and then rub it off with a pinch of salt) used to bring hot lime. This was good, it was made with lime squash or cordial, depending on where you’re from, but she would add a very generous spoonful of honey to the drink, which made it into something special.

          At this point my mind has suddenly lurched into song… “Just a spoon full of sugar”… Feel free to sing along, even though the hot lime had honey not sugar, and was very sweet medicine at the time.

          I found my “Hot Lime” friend again many years after school, she cropped up on one of those websites where old “friends” get “reunited”. She had become a teacher and had made her way up to headmistress. She came to visit on the same day as another friend from my “Schoolgirl” years. I will admit here to always feeling like the “also ran” in her company in school, and the visit didn’t start off quite as comfortably as hoped, I suggested we visited the local retail outlet for some teenage shopping activities.

          As teenagers we used to go to Cardiff shopping on a weekend. It was quite normal for just one of us to be planning to shop, the others would just go with enough money for train fare. The non shoppers would then choose clothes from the rails to try on as well and we’d all visit the changing rooms together.

          I think only Hot Lime friend was shopping on the day in question so we other two picked out something for a changing room visit for support. We were very grown up, and very subdued … Until I think I passed a comment on the size of Hot Lime’s boobs in the blouse she was trying on and she snorted out a laugh I hadnt heard since school… The ice broken, we collapsed back into giggling schoolgirls.

          I seem to remember a return visit with two, or possibly three of my girls to Hot Lime’s house in Bournemouth, during one of Hubby’s sport competitions. The visit didn’t turn out to be an astounding success, but it was however, difficult to forget as its hard to live down a visit to Bournemouth when you follow a river upstream looking for the sea.

          At one point during secondary school, it was decided that Big Sister and I would walk to Grandmother’s house and have a cooked meal for lunch each day. There was probably a good reason for the arrangement at the time, but as covid has shown so many of us, the lunchtime socialising is just as important as the lessons for lots of children, and by leaving school for the lunch break, we didn’t get time to spend with our friends. I think we solved the problem by the friends walking to Grandmother’s house with us and we all sat to eat our lunch together in her front room before all walking back.

          My packed lunch friends were the “parentally acceptable” group of friends. I had a second group of friends too, of the not so “parentally acceptable” type … the “Misfits” . Well, just the one friend really, and I tagged along with her group of friends. I’ve mentioned before that I was “Bullied” mercilessly during my school years, this group of friends protected me from the bully.

          I won’t dwell on the bullying, but lunchtime activities were different with my misfit friend. For a start we were friends at a time when I had school dinners. I would take my weekly dinner money to the school office and pay for five school dinner tickets which were then handed over to the dinner ladies daily in payment for our meals. My “Misfit” friend had free meals so had different colour tickets from mine. At first we would just sit together for lunch and then she would go with her other friends and I would go to the junior hall to find my packed lunch friends, spending time in the junior hall without a packed lunch was frowned on expecially on rainy days when the whole school was looking for somewhere to shelter, I had to sneak in or wait outside, eventually I ended up spending more of my lunch times with Misfit.

          I’m sure there are many “not-so-fond” memories of school dinners out there, and I’m sure the dinner ladies did their best under the circumstances, I was a picky eater at the best of times and so school dinners weren’t a big hit with me at all. We hit on a plan for me to just buy one school dinner ticket, and add it to Misfit’s five to give us three days in school dinners where we would pick and choose our days according to the weekly menu, and two days where we could go out to the local food places and buy our own.

          Eventually I spent more time with “Misfit” and her younger sister who she protected fiercely, we made an odd little group. Strange to think that it was my Little Sister who mostly protected me.

          We all inevitably grew up and went our own separate ways, most parts of my school life I’m more than happy to forget, but snippits of socialising at lunchtime drift up from the bottomless pit of dissappeard memories now again, and very often make me smile.

          As for a photo… Here’s one from another teenage memory… The “Secluded steps” on Penarth prom.

2014-11. Steps.

          More from before : Delving into the murky depths of my “Memory Vaults

Christmas cake

          We’re still waiting for Christmas 2020, but the girls sent us a Christmas Eve box full of goodies because we weren’t going to be able to celebrate together.

          Amongst other things, the box contained a small cotton bag full of marbles with a label “Mum’s marbles” attached to it… Needless to say, I’ve put them safe somewhere and can’t find them.

          Hubby doesn’t like Christmas cake so unfortunately the responsibility fell on me to dispose of this one. Having been dieting for three months with quite satisfying results, I had chosen my Christmas treats carefully, enough treats to feel that I had enjoyed them, but not too many do as to blow the diet out of the water. This added Christmas cake was very welcome, but very unexpected, so I hit on a plan to keep it as a “milestone reward” on the diet… It had a best before date of August 2021, so that gave me a good few months to hit the next target.

          I put a couple of pounds on over Christmas, as expected, but the sudden increase in niceties kick-started the metabolism again and I lost the excess the following week.

          I’ve had the odd hiccup here and there, also the odd migraine, taking away food that my body is used to can be almost as problematic as introducing something new, so even while dieting I’ve been balancing my sugar levels with a piece of fudge morning and night with my caffeine, and I still eat a handful of cashews each morning (albeit a smaller handful than I have been eating).

          Once in work, during one particular January which seems like an age ago now, I was called into the office for a “back to work” meeting after I had just returned from a couple of nights off with a migraine. After the usual questions and answers, a strange comment cropped up. “There appears to be a pattern in your sickness” …

          Well, speaking as someone who wouldn’t dream of going off sick unless I was actually ill, I was genuinely shocked at the suggestion that because my job changed slightly each January because of a post-Christmas lull in my normal work routine, that I wasn’t happy, and was going off sick so that I didn’t have to do the different work ….

          Sceptical was an understatement for their reaction when I explained the real reason I had more migraines in January than at any other time. I eat too many nice things over Christmas, and then cut them out again in January in an attempt to diet every year… New year, new me sort of mentality, and that’s what caused the migraines. I decided there and then never to diet again in January. Always to wait until February, and had the manager write as such in my notes.

          Sure enough … I was off work with a migraine the following year after dieting … in February.

          But my mind wanders… No surprise there.

          The main point of this post is to remind myself that I do have the willpower to diet if I put my mind to it. When I stepped on the scales in September they didn’t quite say “one at a time please”, but they did scream at me for allowing my weight to creep up to over two stone above the target I had set myself to reach by the time I was forty .

          Forty slipped by, I saw my target weight on the scale for about 30 seconds after a short illness before I was fifty and as sixty approaches, my feet hurt, my knees hurt, my hips and my back hurt and I need a rest half way if I attempt more than one flight of stairs.

          I broke the two stone down into targets of four half stones, engaged other family members for help and encouragement and began.

          Five months on and I’m celebrating my half way mark with my Christmas cake.

          I have just two more days left of “cake for breakfast” and then off I go again knowing that I’ve passed the peak of the diet and the rest is downhill all the way.