Families, Family, Inspiration, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever

It won’t be too bad will it?

In life we have so many decisions to make. When we are young, they are often insignificant, and won’t have an impact on our future, but as we get older we have to thinks carefully about these life changing choices.

Everything in life is a jigsaw isn’t it? Each part of our life fits together to make one big picture. Ourselves, relationships, work, money and health. Without one part our life isn’t complete.

How do you then make a decision to change one part of it, which will have a big impact on another? And how will you know if you are making the right decision?

My youngest son and his girlfriend both have long commutes to work. 3 hours each day for my son, not quite so long for his girlfriend. He works long hours, and often isn’t home before 8 o’clock, she works shifts often finishing work at 11pm. He now wants to move nearer to his work, and nearer to his girlfriend’s place of work too.  And although the rent will be marginally more, financially they will be better off taking into account travel expenses and other expenses of gyms etc.

The dilemma then is that they will be a distance away then from our loving family, and his friends. They are a doting uncle and aunty, and both have a great relationship with his brother and sister in law. They have movie nights, and princess parties. He is really close to us as parents and his grandfather, and often pops in at least once a week even if it’s for ½ hour, or to watch a football match with his dad. I’ve often gone to the gym with them for a swim and a sauna.

What they will gain on one hand they will lose on the other.

Everyone’s life changes, it very rarely stays the same. Perhaps now is the time to look at quality time and not quantity time?

It will be an opportunity for us to visit them every so often, they won’t be on the other end of the world, its 25 miles away, that is a 1 ½ hr in South London traffic. That’s not so bad?  His friends would love the opportunity to meet in central London for a drink I’m sure? They can stay on weekends for family get together? I know her mum would love the opportunity to stay in London and all the shops?

It won’t be so bad will it – if they decide to move?  

Who am I trying to kid…


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Inspiration, Laughter, Motivation, New life, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, Writing

Not-so-sunny Bank Holiday

What to do on a not-so-sunny Bank Holiday?

A little bit of gardening I think, lots of weeding to do, all those little weeds that hide in the cracks of the walls, and bricks. Probably cut the grass – hubby will do that, I’ll just help move all the benches around so he can cut under them.

I’ve got a few planters around, that are looking pretty sorry for themselves, need to re fill them with fresh soil and some new plants. Probably Geraniums and Carnations. They are so easy to look after- nothing to do but water them!

I have a beautiful bird feeder that I attach to the patio door. The bravest of brave come and feed from it! Others sit under and wait for the seed to fall to the floor, and they scoop up the seeds, and fly off into the hedge at the back of the garden. I have hidden a coconut fat feeder in the same hedge, and the blue tits who aren’t so brave sit and feed upside-down on the enriched fat with meal worms in. I have a table top bird feeder too, and I put bread and more bird food on the top.

Its a simple garden but its filled with wild life. Squirrels that have made their home in and around the gardens visit to eat the fruit I leave out, apple cores and 1/2 eaten fruit left behind by the grandchildren. Bread- white, wholemeal, granary, artisan – you name it – the pigeons and magpies are there. Picking it up and shaking it from side to side, and watch in confusion as it flies off in all directions. Now this is where all the little sparrows and robins come in handy, they pick up the crumbs off the grass. Its their bite size pieces that they can manage.

Its a great place to sit and watch them all. They aren’t so brave when you sitting in the garden – but I suppose that’s to be expected isn’t it?

We have had a family of robins in the garden for 3 or 4 years now. I think there are three nests the male has, two in our garden – and one next door. You see him flying between then and back to the table or the feeder. He sits on the garden chairs waiting for me to put the food out, and then starts his little routine, bobbing through the hedge and making his way across the grass, gliding to the bottom of the table then up to the feeder, and back into the hedge again. This is the best picture I could get before they flew away.

In the spring we also have a nest of tiny black bees that have taken up residence behind a bricked up chimney. They have made use of the fact there are gaps in the filling, and over the years have made their little perfectly round entrances that they fly in and out of. We aren’t worried about them, they are not harming anyone. They avoid us, as much as we avoid them. Its nice to watch them flying in, legs full of pollen, landing on the tiny ledge, and going into the chimney.

Doesn’t look like there is going to be much of anything else going on, just a bit of bird watching today then?

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Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, history, Inspiration, Laughter, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Whatever, women

1st week of retirement

Well, I’ve got that first week over with! It was a little surreal I have to say. I have been planning this now for about a year, but because of COVID I put it on hold (together with anything real) until the planned date was the end of March 2021. So it’s been in the fore front of my mind for a long time.



How do you plan for these things? The first thing I did was to go on some retirement training provided by the organisation I worked for. I walked in foolishly thinking it would be all about the best day time TV programmes to watch, the best place to buy fluffy slippers and what is the acceptable time to open the wine and/or gin! Actually it was far more helpful than that. They spoke about investments and wills and protecting you assets for the future. Its sounds rather dull – and to be honest it was a little, but very informative. I did learn things I never knew before. It also gave you time frames for the agencies you needed to contact to start the wheels in motion for this to happen seamlessly.

My count down started in December – the day I wrote my notice, and handed it to my manager!

I have been working since I was about 16. This is the first time apart from a short period when I had my two children I haven’t had to go to work every day. Not that that was an opportunity to sit and do nothing!

My first Saturday job was in the good old fashioned shop F.W.Woolworth It’s a long disappeared shop from the high street. In 2008 the chain went into administration and all shops had closed by the following year. It was a well know shop famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets, and ability to sell just about everything. Vinyl records, books, garden plants and tools, ladies underwear. Tinned foods, paint, nuts and bolts, children’s books and toys. The shop I worked in was in a little Welsh high street in the Rhondda. At the time I worked there we were in the throes of some dangerous activities in the British Isles. They called it the ‘Troubles’ – fighting in Northern Ireland spilling out to England and to Wales. I add this to my story – as the first job each Saturday was checking under the counters and displays for bombs! Seems odd now when you say this out loud – but the organisation involved had been known for placing incendiary bombs in shops and places where crowds of people met. Luckily I never found anything like that – just a few Riley’s chocolate toffee rolls and jelly babies that had fallen off the plastic scoops the day before and rolled under the cabinets!

I next worked for a few weeks before Christmas in a fruit and veg wholesalers, making up orders, weighing fruit and veg, and packing them into large cardboard boxes ready for deliveries. Problematic? Yes  – I didn’t know the difference between a Satsuma and a Mandarin orange. Or the different cabbages and potatoes. I soon learned!

My next job was as a waitress for a catering company. They generally did weddings, and anniversary celebrations. A great place to work as a 17 year old. Lots of banter from the ‘older’ waitresses – who were probably only a few years older than me – but seemed so much wiser on how the world – and the minds of men – worked! An eye opener to be certain. I worked here most of the time I was in college, it gave me the money to be able to go out and party. It was hard work, trying not to tip plates of food down the dresses of brides! The wedding venue was above a row of shops – the kitchen was at the back of the shops- a logistical nightmare. Although there was a dumbwaiter lift that took the food from the ground floor to the venue, the empty plates were carried down by the waitresses!  One advantage was that at the end of the night – the company took everyone home in a mini bus, more opportunity to listen to more about these young women’s lives. And I saved money on bus fare!

I left home the day after my 19th birthday, and moved to London as a nanny. I’ve worked in a makeup factory on the production line,   I then moved into the offices sales. From there I worked for an insurance company in the sales office – before computers – manually working on their sales cards. What a job!

I tried working in a pub – but that only lasted 1 week! It was too complex for me to remember the drinks, the prices of each drink, and then using a manual till and giving change- all while smiling and looking like I knew what I was doing – no chance…  I’ve typed architectural reports, sent messages on telex machines for the tax office, worked for a local hospital in the Nurse education department typing and preparing exam papers, I’ve typed meeting minutes as the secretary to the chair of the board of governors at a local school, produced a newsletters for the local scouts and organised fund raising events. I’ve been a pot washer and a waitress in a local restaurant.   I’ve cleaned offices, and polished brass handrails. And I’ve sold eggs on my own market stall! Whew! Lots of those job gave me the money to put down a deposit on a flat with my boyfriend.

I’ve  worked in a stationery company as an import sales clerk, a PA to the operations director, and then a computer operator – all for the same company over a span of 5 years. I them moved to an insurance company where I was an assistant manager.  

Then I had my two babies. But I didn’t give up work, I was my husband’s book keeper, and I did regular deliveries across south London while carrying my babies in their little carry tots in the car.

When my youngest was 4 weeks old- I went back to work as an early morning cleaner in the local Beefeater restaurant, while my hubby looked after the two boys until I came home and he went to work.  I’ve worked in Waitrose as an early morning cleaner and in a private hospital as an evening cleaner and seamstress.  Things were tough and I did what I had to do to keep food on the table and to stop us from going under.

I’ve worked as a book keeper for a carpet shop, and managed one of their shop. I’ve worked in a centre for Adults with Learning Disabilities, a fruit & vegetable import company as a sales clerk, then an Office manager in a team that provided wheelchairs. Finally I’ve spent the last 17 years &  ended my career as a Lead Administrator for a mental health service! Although during those 17 years – I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet – I was offered two secondments. Firstly within the performance management team – looking at data and how to improve things. And as a project manager working with a team who were undergoing change.  I’ve also done my sons paper rounds when they were ill, and to give them a weekend off every so often.

Is it time for me to hang my gloves up? No chance – I’m not ready to stop yet. My brain is still active, and so are my fingers. I’m looking to start some training that will allow me to go into schools and read with young people. Reading – whatever it is – is the way to learning, and independence. And as an avid reader – it hasn’t done me any harm through my life has it?

For someone who didn’t do very well in her exams, didn’t go to university – I’ve realised that life hasn’t been about learning on paper- but learning through experience. Maths isn’t my strong point. But working in retail has helped, especially when the business is yours- you don’t want to give the wrong change it’s your profit! I had an amazing accountant who helped me understand VAT when it was 15% then 17.5%, and suddenly the maths fell into place, by using it for practical matters! Making what little money you have go round also sharpens your sense of budgeting, and with it – maths!

For me retirement is about doing things at my pace, and if I want to work on days it suits me. I’m lucky to be able to do this now, and not when I’m too old to enjoy the choices.

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Inspiration, Laughter, love, mental health, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Whatever, Writing

The Wordsmith

 

The Wordsmith is a solitary bird

Imagination jumping from rock to boulder

Sadness to sunshine

Reflecting and refracting.

A colourful imagination

And maybe a darker soul.

A quick wit with a slow burn.

Seeing things other see

But in a different language.

 

How many of us hide a Wordsmith in our heart?

 

Thinking, writing, re-writing

Paper, scraps or brightly coloured pages.

And pens or stubbly pencils

Or a simple keyboard.

The end is nigh and peace comes.

The jumbled thoughts march,

March in lines across the page.

Uniform only in colour, no rhythm

No rhyme, or regimented and lilting.

 

Written in private, written for reading

Written for The Wordsmith, or the extended Family.

Does it matter?

It takes two!

The humble Wordsmith and the reader

Read with passion and tears and laughter.

The reader putting soul into the bones of the words.

 

Enjoy – go forth and share,

Or keep privately in your heart and your head

And in your note book with flowers on the pages.

 

 

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Animals and birds, history, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Spirt and soul, Whatever

Something to make us smile

Today we are just a little part of history. And we need to make sure that we stay grounded to get us through the next few weeks and months.

This is a picture blog from me. Hope you enjoy some of the things that make me smile and laugh.

Enjoy!

sentry crow

When you need someone to protect you, why not use a sentry crow!!

roe deer

Oh Deer Deer, is there enough for me to eat here?

crowds of ducks

If I stay still, they might not notice I’ve got duck food in my hand!

ducks shopping

Come on ducky, I cant see any duck seed in there!  

smiling squirrel

Any chance you have some food in there? Please? Pretty please!

greedy squirell

Might be good enough….

bottom squirrel

Gymnastics for squirrels

 

 

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Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, women, Writing

Is it twilight or night time?

That time of night when the bedroom is dark, but just light enough for you to get out of bed without banging your foot on the bed side table, or falling over the random pair of shoes you have left under the radiator.

Enough light for you to head down the stairs to the peace of the kitchen to make a sneaky cup of tea and toast.

What are you doing!!!!! It 4am.

It shouldn’t be any time to be creeping around the house. It should be the time you are snuggled up in bed – asleep. Not tonight though. You wake up for some unknown reason, and that’s it…..

If you were an author and writing a book about those romantic twilight hours when the world is asleep, but animals and young lovers are bight eyed and busy tailed, it would sound plausible. But I’m not an author. I’m not writing a book about the misty twilight hours. I’m writing about the night time- yes lets address this as it is. The middle of the night when the rest of the northern hemisphere should be asleep – and you are awake!

Shall we start this again?

That time of night when the bedroom is dark, and cold. The light from outside fights its way through the blinds, and as you turn around in bed for the 10th time at 3.30am it shines right in your eyes! Your husband’s phone has pinged a few times, and when you unplug your phone from the charger a WhatsApp message comes up and lights up the whole room. It’s from your son telling you he has landed in some far off place at 2.30! No wonder you are awake – it’s like Piccadilly Circus.

That’s its then. The ‘thought worm’ enters your head – well to be honest he is actually always there, but he loves the twilight hours! There is absolutely no chance of any sleep now.

Good Morning!

 

 

 

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Family, Food, Inspiration, mental health, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Whatever

Do we truly relax?

I’ve had a really stressful few months. Both at home and at work. We are having a new bathroom fitted that hasn’t gone to plan. At all!

And in work, lack of staff, overloaded with work and ever changing priorities means longer hours and constant battles with management.

But now I’m on holiday with my better half. He is more stressed than I am as he is at home with the builders.

We are chilled in a luxury hotel. Amazing view, incredible food, attentive staff…And not a spec of dust or builders bucket of cement in sight.

Are we truly relaxed? Without a doubt!

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Animals and birds, Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, Food, Inspiration, Laughter, love, real life, Whatever, women

Who is in control?

I’m away on holiday with my other half. We are celebrating his birthday.

I love to be organised.  I need to have things in order, what I’m eating, where I go. My work needs to be arranged in advance. So when I’m on holiday I find that I’m a little out of my depth! Others are doing things for me, making my decisions. And will have had to be organised in advance, so I literally don’t have to be.

I find it a little disconcerting.

Of course I love being looked after and relish the idea that I don’t have to cook or wash up. But I have to make the bed, tidy the pillows and push the chairs back. I even wash the little cups before the cleaners come in to the room in the morning. Yes – I’m the woman who has to clean the house before the cleaner comes in – if I had a cleaner…

We are in a complex, in an apartment. That is a posh hotel room – with a little kitchen. We are overlooking a beautiful golf course, surrounded by trees. The geese fly over head to get to the lakes that surround the accommodation, and squirrels run up and down the trees finding their next meal. Of course the place is kept spotless. The cleaners wizz around on their bikes, and the maintenance people are in electric vans. They have it down to a tee.  Each villa and apartment is made with the same material and fitting so when something brakes they don’t have to work out what is needed – its all the same, so is easy to repair or replace! Brilliant, quick and efficient!

For someone who is so organised and controlling – this is the place of my dreams!

Now we are going for dinner tonight. It has taken us a few attempts to decide what restaurant we want to go to. We wrote the names of all the choices on pieces of paper, and picked the one that we were going to tonight. Please don’t tell me we are the only ones who do this. In fact I find it focuses the mind! If our first choice isn’t really the one we want to go to – we discard it and actually commit the one we want to go to!  So we are going out for a steak to the French restaurant, and if I can I will sit on the right hand side, near the window so I can watch the world go by!

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Domestic Goddess, Families, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Whatever, women

Tea from a china cup

There is nothing nicer than drinking tea from a bone china cup, or a mug. To me that is a real luxury. Hot tea, with just a drop of milk so the flavour comes through. Just brewed for enough time. 3 minutes. I’m not talking about loose leaf tea, but a simple tea bag will do.

Isn’t it odd how everyone’s definition of luxury is so very different. From the mum who want 5 minutes to her self, to those who demand high end goods, and the best of everything.

We all have our own definition.

The chink of the china as you lay it on the table, and light weight feel  as the handle cradles your fingers. as if it was made for you. Bright white, not a gaudy colour insight.

Now, if it wasn’t in the sink with a pile of dirty mugs, then that would be luxury its self. Better get washing!

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anger, Food, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Whatever

Curry and customer services.

I work at the sharp end of customer services. I spend my days thanking people for something. Often apologising for the lateness of something, whether its the delay for an appointment, a letter being held up, or more often than not a professional who is running late, because of the complexities of the job. I’m used to juggling things, and over the years I’ve honed the skills to avoid dropping those balls I’m furiously keeping in the air!  So I know what you need to be a good customer service provider.

Above all you need to be attentive to the people who are your customers, and you need to keep your eye on all those balls your juggling. You also need to make sure your team are well trained, and you have rigorous Standard Operating Procedures . That way everyone is clear of their expectations and your not let down by someone who doesn’t understand what is expected of them.

Let me tell you what happened last night. I went out for dinner with my husband who insisted that as it was his birthday we go out for a curry. Great I thought, we both love curry, and had been to the restaurant before, so knew what to expect.

We ordered a drink which arrived promptly. And I asked for some poppadum’s to keep us going (which actually never arrived). We ordered our meal. A starter to share. My husband ordering two 1/2 portions of something hot and tasty, while I had a rice dish, and some nan bread between us. She asked if we wanted rice, I said no, my hubby would have some of mine, as he only ever eats a small amount of rice. She went away, and we waited for out meal. The surrounding were calm and quite. The restaurant wasn’t 1/4 filled, and there were ample serving staff. I’m setting the scene, as its often the busy times and staff shortages that cause the most problems, believe me!

It never occurred to me that she didn’t get the order right. It also didn’t occur to me that she hadn’t read the order back to us to confirm she had understood what we had asked for.

The food arrived, and it was wrong. She had completely got my food order wrong. Instead of a biryani – a rice dish, it was a vegetable bhuna – a very different dish altogether. So she took it away. But  after 5 minutes I had to go and ask for them to take my husbands food away too, so it could come back out with mine. I wanted to eat with him, not have his food sitting getting cold on the table!

One of the waiters came and apologised, and offered us a drink as a token. We thanked him, and we would have a coffee or another beer after the meal. 5 min later two more beers arrived.

The main meals came back as ordered, together with a fresh nan bread.  Each person who served us apologies for the error, so it felt like the whole team has been involved in the disaster!  If only she had read the order back to us in the first place, it wouldn’t have happened, they wouldn’t have lost at least  £40 in free beers, replaced foods, loss of tips (sorry I couldn’t bring myself to leave anything) and a cancelled booking for later on in the week!

Is it any wonder the high streets are suffering? Restaurant chains are cutting back and  shutting branches. They now have to be on the top of their game to entice people to spend their hard earned cash in them.  They need to get it right, or loose profit and customers.

 

 

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