Happy Easter

Today is recovery day #10 since the shoulder arthroscopy. I’m doing OK with the recovery. The pain is much less than it was, I’ve gone from 19 painkillers a day (when I first got back from hospital) to just three a day. I feel it’s much more manageable, but I’m now itching to get the stitches out (no pun intended). I’m doing the exercises several times a day – they are much easier too. There’s one that causes me a little bit more discomfort than the others, but I’m getting on with them as best I can.

It’s also Easter Sunday. So, Happy Easter to all you lovely people out there.

Easter has always been family time for me. It’s about having a lovely roast dinner, watching kids find Easter eggs hidden in the garden and having a bit of a giggle at everyone gorging on way too much chocolate! Today’s a bit strange. I’m not able to drive home to Scotland to be with the family (well, technically, I could drive, but I doubt it would be sensible!), nor do I have any kids around for an easter egg hunt, and nor is my family around.

I’m still planning to do a roast dinner, though it feels pretty silly just for me…but, it’s tradition. And I’ll enjoy it.

For my far away family and friends Happy Easter!

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Family traditions?

There’s a family get together this weekend – it’s in Yorkshire. I’m travelling up there to be with family, my parents are travelling down from Scotland. It’s a surprise party for an aunt and uncle. My Mum is doing most of the catering, because that’s what she does.

My only role is to bake Parkin. Yorkshire Parkin. I used a recipe today that had been recommended online. I had to make enough for 30 people. So, that meant trebling the recipe. Halfway through baking it, Mum asked if I was using the family recipe…oops. No, it’s not my Gran’s recipe, it’s another. I don’t have Gran’s recipe.

With the cakes (three of them) in the oven, the aroma starts to permeate around the house and it’s gorgeous. It also takes me right back to Bonfire Night when I was a child. Toffee apples, bonfire toffee and Parkin. All homemade. All yummy.  Seasonal treats. All steeped in tradition as they are made.

Mum is making toffee apples and bonfire toffee for the event, so I had a look at recipes for toffee. Comparing the online recipes to ‘our recipes’ was interesting. All the online recipes recommended the use of a sugar thermometer to check the toffee as it’s boiling (to get the right point for ‘crunchy or chewy’ toffee. I don’t remember my Gran or Mum having one of those. We used a jug of very cold water to test the toffee. You simply drop a teaspoon of the (still boiling, liquid) toffee into the cold water and then you test it. Simple.

I’m quite lucky that I come from a family steeped in tradition. Baking is relaxing. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s tradition. Family tradition.

I’ve made my Christmas cakes (one rum, one brandy and one whisky). I’ve made Parkin for bonfire night. What’s next??

In times of stress

It’s tough going at the moment. There’s a lot of stress for me. My other half is stressed too. I just found out that my mum has a back injury. It’s not good at the moment.

I’ve lived in this house for 5 years (nearly) and in the South for 17 years, yet in times of stress I want my home. My Glen. The Glen. (You’ll only get that reference if you’re from the area).

I want to go for a walk after dinner to the waterfall and drink malt whisky from my hip flask – while sitting on a rock in the middle of the river.

I want to listen to the noise of the Glen. The River. The sheep. The cows. The burn. The fox cries. The silence and then, the banter. There’s always banter in the Glen.

OK, so I’m homesick. I’ve been having a glass or two of wine and I’ve been watching Monarch. They’ve been to the cemetery on the hill. We’ve got one of those. I remember my first hike up there (Kindrogan Hill) to the cemetery. I must have been 13 years old. It was a wild walk. Deepest, dark pine forest – the light struggling through the needles to reach you. The smell of the pine. The worn dirt track, rough underfoot. Warm from the hike, I relished the cool air of the sheltered path to the cemetery where the local ‘laird(s)’ and his family are buried.

Last year, I took my step sons to the very same cemetery (with my Mum along for the walk). It was a trek for them, but they quite liked the history lesson, thanks to Mum. We saw deer, listened to the wildlife and watched a Buzzard do its stuff. But, for me, the sight I found was heartbreaking. The walls of the cemetery overgrown, and the graves not easily distinguishable from the weeds. There are no trees any more. There’s no path. There are no fresh flowers. The forest reached its ‘peak’ and so became a deforestation project for the ‘Forestry Commission’. The resulting landscape is just sad. Bare. The cemetery has lost its mystery. It’s neglected. It’s unloved. It’s forgotten.

I do, of course, have happy memories of the trip with J & B. We picked wild raspberries all the way home. The boys don’t like rasps when I buy them at home in Surrey. But, Scottish rasps? Any time, any place, anywhere… That’s how it should be, right??

We need happy times and happy memories to keep us going in times of stress. The Glen is one of mine.

Haste ye back…

Thinking about Gran

This week’s been another challenging week at work, for many reasons. It’s left my faith in companies, their HR functions, and management styles much depleted. But, it’s also caused me to look at my background, where I come from and how my family have worked in the past.

I’m the first one in my family to go to University. The first to leave the family home, town, region for somewhere very different. To my Gran, it was rather a strange choice, but one that she accepted easily. She was born, grew up, lived, married, worked, had a family and is still living in the same town. Yes, she lived for 23 years with my parents in Scotland, but she wanted to move back to her ‘home’ to be closer to the extended family.  Me moving to London was bizarre, but OK.

My Gran and Granddad were of the generation that worked in the same town all their lives. They worked for the same company for a number of years (many, many, moons!). They grew up with the people around them. They know (knew) everyone. So, when I moved to London, Gran came to visit. For her, sitting in my flat all day while I went to the ‘city’ to work, commuting longer than took for Gran to walk from one part of her town across to the other, it was odd. Gran always stayed for a month a year with me. She would either come by train, to Kings Cross, or I would bring her back with me in the car. She would iron, bake, wash, tidy, do word searches and watch TV while I was at work. In the evenings, we’d go out to eat. I introduced her to Pizza Express, Cafe Rouge, Thai food, and Bella Pasta. She loved Chinese food, and would always have the same thing.

Despite my university education, marketing manager position in a city firm and a making a decent living, I was not allowed to pay for anything. i had to resort to desperate measures to ensure that I paid for dinner. i felt guilty if she paid. So, there were many, many times where I was a very bad, disobedient granddaughter.

I loved taking her out. I loved treating her.

Today where she’s in the residential home, I feel guilty again. I’m not there to visit. I can’t just pop in on my way home from work. I don’t see her as much as I’d like to. So, I look back on the times where I shared my home with her. Laughed with her, ordered her a Bailey’s after dinner, and watched as she got mad with me on realising I’d already paid the bill.

I miss my Gran. I hope she knows just how much she means to me and how much I would love to see her more.

Email rant (again)

I’ve mentioned email being a complete pain on numerous occasions. But today I feel the need for a complete rant. I’m now up to ~300 a day, the bulk of them spam, but the rest are from colleagues asking stupid, piddly little questions that they don’t actually ask me face-to-face or on the phone.

Email can be used to deliver information. It should never be used to ask a question. It should never be used to deliver an action item. And, it should never be used as a method of communication.

Too many ‘dialogues’ take place on email these days. The result of ‘cover your ass’ conversations, perhaps? Or just damn laziness?

I for one wish email was an option, not a mandatory tool for business.

I work in marketing, yet I loathe receiving marketing email.

I find that email hampers my work, so I log out frequently, but when I don’t reply to someone ‘instantly’ I’m not a good corporate citizen. How do we overcome this??

Any suggestions?

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.

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.