Panic over

Despite Christmas not being the traditional affair I’m used to, it was lovely. I had lots of help to prepare the lunch and still I managed to forget the brussels and the little sausage things wrapped in bacon…hmmmm. Could that have anything to do with a subconscious mind working away? (I’m actually allergic to anything pork, and I don’t like brussels…though I do eat them).

Yesterday, we went out for a walk to Windsor Great Park. We didn’t walk particularly far, it was bitterly cold, but had a lovely wander through the park to the statue and back again, snapping away with the cameras as we did so. We even found a Starbucks that was open (on the way home) and enjoyed a very hot latte out of the bitter winds. The only part of the day that wasn’t so good was a text from Mum. She and Dad had driven to Yorkshire to see Gran – and when they got there, Gran said it had been so long that she thought they had died. OMG. Poor Gran.

She’s now been without a hearing aid for two-three weeks, which puts her in a bigger isolation than normal. It’s terrible. What part of ‘care home’ is caring? I’m beginning to wonder. I fought to get her a place there so she could be cared for while having the extended family around her, but the home fails to get her diet correct, fails to replace the hearing aid that broke recently, and fails in so many other ways. OK, so I’m being harsh, they are good in so many ways…Gran has medical support on hand 24-hrs a day for her seizures etc. and there’s special equipment to help her get showered, bathed even, and to make sure that she can be lifted easily if she falls. 

But, my Mum sent a text last night to say “I hate leaving her there”.

I can only agree.

Sing-along-Mamma Mia

OK so not everyone’s cup of tea, but what a laugh. On Christmas Eve the cinema was hardly packed, but sing-a-long we did. With tickets at £2 a pop, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours winding down ready for Santa to arrive.

I was a little shocked that there were small children there too…Hmmm…what’s that about?

When I was a small child, I couldn’t wait for bedtime to arrive so that I could fall asleep early, waiting for the noise of sleigh bells…

My first Christmas…

on my own!

Yep, I’m nearing and big 4 0 and for the first time in my life, I’m going to be on my own for Christmas. First. Time. Ever. OK, so let’s just caveat the ‘on my own’ – technically, I’ll have BF, his parents, sons and brothers, so not really on my own. The real difference is I’ll be without my mum, dad and gran. 

Gran is in Yorkshire and will be with Tuck and his family. Mum and Dad will be in Scotland, at home in the Glen. Wierd. Bizarre and very, very odd.

My wee sis even sent a text saying ‘I can’t believe we’re spending Christmas apart, we’re actually all in the same country.’

Many of you are thinking, why is it so weird. Well, Christmas is about family. It’s about tradition. It’s about what you do together and how you do it.

I’ve never woken up and not gone to wake my mum & dad. Since being a little girl, Christmas morning has been about waking them & gran, preparing buck’s fizz, eating Quality Streets in bed, and then the present giving…my sister and I taking it in turns to hand out gifts.

So, what happens this year? I don’t know. 
The big risk is that I’ll drink all the bucks fizz on my own before anyone gets here.

I’m still waiting…

I remortgaged in November. Just around the same time that I was made redundant, I got notification that my mortgage had completed. I breathed a sigh of relief. It all went through during the middle of the month. 

So, here are the events of the last few weeks. Having paid up a full month in advance, and then settled the mortgage in full, I expected to receive my interest back for the days ‘unused’. 

I called to find out why I had not reiceved anything only to be told that there had been no ‘redemption’ as such but an ‘overpayment’. After much discussion I was assured the mistake would be correct and that I would receive a payment within 10-days.

10 days came and went. No payment. I called again. I was again told that the money was received as an overpayment and that my mortgage account was closed on the 2 December – the day another mortgage payment would have been due – therefore ‘no repayment to you is necessary’.

WHAT?

I called the conveyancing solicitor who sent me a copy of the letter to advice of ‘redemption’. It states clearly across the top, in the subject line and twice in the body of the letter ‘REDEMPTION’.

So, how could C & G make such a mistake? Why do they think it’s right that I’ve now paid three months mortgage to two different lenders in two months?

And, why do they think I’ll just drop it? Because it’s a credit crunch and the banks are suffering? Well, what about those of us who have lost our jobs?

Rant over.

Diary of a step-parent

I’m very fortunate that my BF has two gorgeous little boys. They are adorable. I love spending time with them, and over the years have come to understand that my relationship with ‘step-children’ is something that needs a lot of care and attention. Lucky for me that BF and I have been able to manage the relationship well, and that the boys are so open about their feelings. It gives us a clear view on how to handle any situation. 

I’ve been a ‘step-parent’ before too. But, unfortunately, when the relationship with the ‘real parent’ ended, so did the relationship with the children. It wasn’t a choice I made. It certainly wasn’t something I wanted. But, something I had to accept.

It’s been a while now – several birthdays and Christmas’ have been missed. The kids are older and it’s not easy for me. I haven’t seen them for some time and I often wonder what they think and how they feel.

As an ‘ex-step-parent’ you have no right to any contact with the children once the relationship ends. None whatsoever. I have often thought about the effect that has on the children…Suddenly, a once very prominent figure in their lives is gone forever.

Hmmm.

New TV

I bought a new TV this week – not a large TV for the lounge, but a small one for the bedroom. I looked at reviews, I read user comments and in the end it came down to three models – a Sharp, an LG and a Samsung.

I went for the Samsung Le19R86. Here’s the lowdown…

http://www.richersounds.com/showproduct.php?cda=showproduct&pid=SAMS-LE19R86

It’s fabby. The picture quality is amazing. It’s hooked up to my Samsung DVD player and the two together are just fantastic. The TV is idiot-proof – which is a good thing, and my BF only mentioned his favourite phrase ‘girls & technology’ once, so that wasn’t too bad! 🙂

Both remotes operate both items, so there’s no dispute over who gets the remote, although I’m sure there will be plenty of times I turn the BBC news off and BF turns it back on again….

A wild weekend

The weekend was emotionally draining. I saw my Gran for the first time since she moved into her new home. I drove up on the Saturday, picked up my cousin and then went straight to see Gran. She held me so tight. Her hug and obvious pleasure at seeing me were almost too much to bear. It’s been too long (Ican’t visit her if I’m ill though, I have to remind myself the nurses wouldn’t appreciate me turning up with an illness).

We bundled her up in her wheelchair and trotted out to the local coffee shop. She loved it. But, it wasn’t long before I saw first had just how confused she is now.

She forgot my name.

Though she knew me, who I am and was clearly delighted to see me, in one moment she couldn’t remember my name. In the next moment, she said it several times.

She talked of how terrible it is to feel useless. She told me how she doesn’t remember one moment to the next, and can’t really string a series of thoughts together and how her brain failing her frustrates her. She can’t even concentrate to do her ‘puzzles’ any more. 

During the course of this my darling Gran must have asked me a dozen times ‘When did you get here and when are you going home again’. 

Over the weekend, I got to spend a bit of time with Gran. I got to see just how she’s deteriorated. I got to see her frustration at her lack of ability and lack of coherent thought.

But, on Sunday at the Christening, she had several lucid moments. She wrote in the Christening book for the Baby. It was lovely. It reduced me and my cousins  C and J to tears – in an instant.

Saying goodbye to Gran was awful. My every instinct is to go and pick her up, take out of that place and bring her home to me. But, I know it’s not the best thing for her. She needs 24/7 care. I couldn’t cope on my own. So, while I was happy to see the nurses doing everything they should, an awfully large part of me felt guilty at leaving her there. Really guilty.

Today I hear that she’s been in bed all day. I feel guilty that perhaps we (though not just me) asked too much of her to go to both the Christening ceremony and then the lunch afterwards. I too feel I should be there to see her when wakes.

Soon.

The finer things in life

Recently, BF and I enjoyed a bottle of vintage Bollinger. It’s not the first time we’ve had it, nor will it be the last, but this one was just so well appreciated. The bottle is the typical “Grande Annee” styling, but it’s sold in a presentation box together with two “Bollinger Champagne” engraved Riedel champagne flutes. We’ve been fans for Riedel for a few years, so loved the idea of having new champagne flutes. Unlike the traditional flutes available these Bollinger Riedel glasses are more “tulip” in design – to hold the bubbles, keep the wine cool and to allow you to savour the aroma as you drink.

Riedel’s glasses are not cheap. They have a range which accommodates most grape varieties i.e. there’s one glass type for sauvignon blanc, and another for chardonnay etc. think of a wine type and there’s likely to be a glass to suit. And they are not available on every home store’s shelves. But, they are worth buying, especially if you enjoy your wines.

I was very surprised to find that the Bolly flutes are available as a pair for £17.99! Fantastic.

http://www.winedancer.com/index1.html