About Me

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Worcester, Worcestershire, United Kingdom
Born in the year of the Coronation, I'm a Baby Boomer. In April of this year I decided I too would have a Diamond Jubilee celebration and completely change my life and that of my Husband's in the process

Friday, 28 December 2007

Christmas Comes But Once A Year!

Christmas is a family time, if you’re lucky enough to have family. Maybe I should qualify that, if you’re lucky enough to have family you want to be with.  I do, well, most of the time I do. Christmas was all planned but apart from having a freezer full of party food and the Turkey ordered, I had done nothing and I do mean NOTHING towards it!

School finished Friday and on Saturday I had over 20 people coming for what had started as a Birthday lunch  for 6 for Mum (79). Somehow it snowballed.  It became the ideal  opportunity  for family that rarely see each other to meet up.

Quick interruption in writing there, I heard the refuse collectors. Didn’t know they were coming today and neither did Mike, who has gone to Shropshire to work early this morning. Must have looked a picture as I ran out in my slightly grubby dressing gown, unwashed hair and panda eyes and raced up the drive with my black wheelie bin!!! Reminded me of Lonnie Donnegan’s song, ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’....”Am I too late?”   “ Naah! Jump up on the cart” Oy!

So, Friday afternoon and evening, I cooked up a storm. Went to bed and continued Saturday morning, in-between ins and outs of the oven I sorted out the presents for people we weren’t seeing again on Christmas Day. (Little did I know at that time, it would be everybody)

Saturday 12.30, people started arriving. I was still popping things in and out of the oven, which I had planned to be doing. I didn’t see that as a problem. WHY can I never remember that my friends and family all want to stand in the kitchen at parties?  Soon it was all done and we had a wonderful time, although I had to go and sit down later, as I was exhausted.

It was so good that we managed to have all four children together, in the house and each of their partners. As two of the family are in the Royal Navy, this was a rare event indeed.

Their two grandmas were there plus our new generation of 3 grandchildren. Then we had Mike’s nephew (not seen for years) even his ex partner and their son, who had strangely turned into a tall ,17 year old, with his Dad’s penchant for long, wavy, windswept hair. (In his mid 40’s  his  Dad has only just left that look behind, obviously passed it onto his son).

My sister and her daughter were there but sadly Mike’s sister couldn’t make it as her husband is recovering from an operation.

Then of course there was the great nephew’s girlfriend.  A very pretty girl, with pink hair and facial  ornaments, who was festively named, Holly.

Now we’d only just got used to the idea that this tall, tousled, young man was our great nephew, we were in for another surprise. He and Holly then proceeded to give the two elder granddaughters more sex education than they’ve had at school!  Not for them the allure of food, drink and good company in the kitchen and dining room. No they entwined themselves on the sofa and became oblivious to the family around them. Oh to be young again!!!

Family Christmases have always been important to me and until I was 13, they were spent at my Grandma’s house, which was able to contain her five children and families quite comfortably.


This was the house where I lived when I was born and until I was two. After that I spent Wednesday afternoons  every week there. The  little private school my sister and I went to only did a four and a half day week; it was a throw back to when the school used to be open on a Saturday morning. Then they dropped the Saturday morning but never restarted the Wednesday afternoon. (Hurrah!) I also went there every Friday evening and stayed until Saturday afternoon, sometimes Sunday, which is when I would go to Chapel with Grandma.

I have such happy memories of those times and Christmas, excuse the pun, really was the icing on the cake.


Above is Grandma enjoying her last Christmas in her beloved home. She was born in 1885, what changes she saw. This how she looked at 18.


I was heartbroken when the house was sold in 1966and Grandma and my adored Aunty Dorothy moved into a bungalow some miles away.

Auntie Dorothy as a little girl.

We continued the family get together at the bungalow for a few years but only going over in the evening, after lunching at home, for traditional buffet food and some very funny party games .But it was never the same.  My one clear memory of that time was one of the quieter games where we were all sat down and played, ‘I Love My Love’, you start with the first letter of the alphabet, so for example ‘I love my love because she is ‘A’ttractive’.  This was in the late sixties and my cousin, Stephen, who is the same age as me , had everyone on the floor with a combination of shock and laughter, depending on your age, when given the letter C, he came out with ‘I love my love because she is Crap!’ Ah! Innocent days.

Grandma had died in early 1968, when I was fourteen. They say teenage years are difficult; well it doesn’t help when the foundation stones of your life are removed.

I’ve always been striving to bring back the feelings of those wonderful family Christmases. It’s not so easy when you don’t have a huge house and we don’t have such big families. Grandma had five children and nine grandchildren and several great grandchildren before she died. But Mum’s birthday lunch had some of the feel of those long ago, happy times.


The next day I spoke to Mike’s daughter, who said what a lovely time  they’d all had and we both realised that we felt we’d  already had Christmas and that the actual day was now just going to be presents and a Roast Dinner.

How prophetic were those words.

Christmas day I was expecting, Mum and Step-Dad, Catherine, Flo & Isabella and my sister and her partner. So nine in all. On Sunday afternoon and Christmas Eve, I went and bought all my presents, collected the Turkey which this year was to be a very, large, boned and rolled Turkey breast. Over ten pounds in weight. Mum was cooking a Pork Loin and bringing that over. Isn’t it funny how with hindsight things can turn out for the best?

Late afternoon  on Christmas Eve we visited my daughter Catherine and went to the Opening of the Crib service at her village church. This was very nice and also very sensible, as it was aimed at small children and the lady Vicar made it only half an hour long.  Catherine had  justlet her cats out, only their second time since bringing them over from Germany.

We came back from church and had some cold chicken and salad and then went home to wrap presents.

I got to bed just before Santa started his rounds, feeling that a pickled onion was causing me some indigestion.

At 3am I was woken by a feeling that was not Santa putting a stocking at the end of my bed. I wasn’t sure quite what was wrong but I didn’t like it. Suddenly the bathroom seemed like a very good idea and I got there just in time to throw up all over the toilet.

Cleaning the bathroom, naked, when not well was not how I’d planned to start Christmas Day. I went back to bed. Mike had slept through all this, and I felt a bit better and went back to sleep. Only to be woken at 5am for a repeat performance, only this time much, much worse.

So, in our house, Christmas was cancelled.

At 8 am, after some  frantic phone calls, Mike had to rush over to Mum’s with the food and Christmas was transferred to hers. This is where the meat situation was good. Had it been a whole Turkey she would never have coped with it but we were able to cut the breast in two and sent the larger piece over to Mum and Mum did the same with the Pork, and Mike brought some of that back with him. So we had plenty to cook for when I felt like eating.

I spent the morning in bed, in between bathroom runs (the bug had gone the other way now!) and then got up when Mike returned from work. He cooked our Christmas dinner which we deferred until 9pm, in the hope I would be able to eat something and keep it down, which I did. And very good it was too. I think I may be passing my apron to him next year.

Catherine phoned to say Milly, one of her cats had not returned from the night before and sad to say,still hasn’t.

Mike’s daughter rang to say her husband’s Grandma had passed away at lunchtime on Christmas Day.

Yesterday, on Boxing Day, I signed on to the Net to find that Kim (I Shaved My Legs for This) had lost her brave battle against cancer. How can you miss someone you’ve never met? But that girl put everything in her Journal and the one thing you could not doubt, she was beautiful, both inside and out and I know her family are devastated at their loss. Kim touched so many people’s lives.

Bloody Hell! This is cheery, isn’t it? It’s funny but when I start writing, I never know where I will end up but all in all, this had not been one of my best Christmases.

On a lighter note, there were some fantastic presents. I had far too many to mention them all and was spoilt rotten but I must say, I had a total surprise from Mike, an  electronic piano keyboard, with all the other  backing instruments, if I want them. It’s a Yamaha; I always thought they were Motor Bikes?

Mike’s main present from me was a jacket, dark brown, it says its leather but it’s like a waxed pigskin, with silk quilted lining and also part fleece lined. Very 'Country Gentleman' and will be ideal for walking a dog, if we decided to get one this year. (Hint, hint) I knew he wanted a new one and he seems very pleased with it, he also wanted slippers, which I got him too. Plus books, a CD and some chocolates.

A friend sent me an  Ecard and I just have to share this with you, it’s so funny. She pinched the photos of us from my last entry.  My timing is awful and I had never realised Mike was so camp!  The kids loved it.

Elf Dancing   (It may take a few seconds to load) ****This link doesn't now work.****


Hoping for a Happy New Year for my family and I wish the same to all of you reading this and all the people you love and care about.


Linda. x





Saturday, 8 December 2007

Back Again!

Finally, I update my Blog!

I hadn’t intended to leave it so long but having had a break from it, well, you just get out of the habit.

There have been a few reminders to ‘get on with it’ recently and as it is such a foul morning weather-wise and I have some spare time, it seems a good time to catch up. So I’m afraid it will be rather lengthy, due mostly to the Wedding that nearly didn’t happen.

Catherine, Flo and Isabella have settled well into their new home. Flo got temping work as soon as they were reasonably sorted in the house. Within a very short time he was offered a permanent job, doing something very similar to his work in Germany, The company seem very impressed with him (understandable) and have given him a very good career plan. I know nothing is certain these days when it comes to job security but, for the time being, they have no worries.

Early October saw the day of Simon and Tori’s much planned wedding. The week before was hectic. Isabella had just started walking and I’d promised Tori that if Isabella was able to walk down the aisle, I would buy her a little Flower Girl outfit.

After she started crawling Isabella wouldn’t wear dresses, they prevented her from getting anywhere, she would be kneeling on the skirt. We’ tried her in one for a First Birthday Party and the rage that provoked stopped any attempts to put her in one again.

Now, six months later, she was very wary of a ‘Big Frock’ and the shopping trip to Monsoon was a bit stressful, trying to persuade her that she really wanted this ankle length, silk dress with matching, embroidered shoes. Anyway, she can’t talk yet, so she was overruled.

Tori and Simon arrived on the Thursday, having just moved into married quarters, so a very busy week for them. Then a manic 24 hours of, sunbeds, waxings, facials and new nails. And that was just the men!!

Tori’s back was a bit stressed from the house move and then she picked up Isabella and that made it worse. We had dinner In Worcester on the Friday night with Tori, her parents and the bridesmaids. It was a fabulous meal but throughout I could see Tori was sitting awkwardly.

Saturday morning and the Big Day had dawned. Simon had to dash into town to pick up waistcoats and cravats. He and Brad, the Best Man, had bought their own, matching suits for the day. I’m not sure how much influence Brad had but I was surprised at what good taste one, or both of them had. You should see what they wear when they go out on the town!

Simon spoke to Tori on the phone, she had stayed at the Beckford, which is where the marriage was taking place. He told me she'd said her back wasn’t very good. Someone here is obviously a master of understatement!!

At 11.30, I went to pick up Sam, partner of my stepson. Sam was doing Tori’s makeup. We were also picking up the flowers en route , so arrived at The Beckford at 12.30. The dining room was being laid out and decorated for the Reception but one or two people advised me  on the way through that Tori’s back wasn’t very good and the hotel owner came to warn me that they were waiting for the Emergency Doctor.

I am now getting worried. I’m supposed to be doing Tori’s hair and had reckoned on it taking at least an hour, based on our previous practice. Some of the Bridal preparations were supposed to be photographed for the Album, so there was a lot to do.

Sam and I walked into the bedroom to be greeted by



OMG!!! This is not looking good. Apart from obviously being in a lot of pain, Tori was shaking like a pneumatic drill!

I won’t go on about how stressful the next hour was, while we waited for the doctor to turn up. In fact it was more than an hour because it was nearly 2pm when he arrived.

Let me recap the situation. We have a wedding at 3pm and a Bride, who is on the floor and no way can she get up. Her hair is wet and still covered in conditioner, as she had collapsed in the shower and is just wearing a pair of pants and a duvet.

This is most definitely not looking good!

The doctor was marvellous, when he arrived. He injected her and gave her every conceivable drug that she hadn’t already taken. He also insisted on staying until we could manage to get her off the floor.

The Registrar and her assistant had been informed of the situation and had phoned ahead to see if their next wedding could take a delay. Bless them, they said yes.

At twenty to three, Tori, not without a few screams was placed in a chair and the desperate rush began. Luckily I had brought my own hair dryer, as it has an inbuilt nuclear reactor and dries hair very quickly. That’s what I did, whilst Sam was round the front doing the makeup. Sam had been an absolute rock while we waited to see if the wedding was likely to happen. I think the Gin and Tonic she gave me helped a great deal!

By the time the makeup was done it was just about three o clock and Tori’s hair was dry. The Registrar asked when she could come in to see if things were OK to proceed. I said about 10/15 minutes. Sam and I then did the fastest hairstyle any bride ever had. It was based on the original style but the loose part was only semi straight and the curled part was  only semi curled. We flung some pearl clips in and that was it, done.

Then into the dress. Apart from an ominous ripping sound because someone hadn’t fully opened the zip, there was no further hitch. Don’t think we ever found what had ripped. So the only really casualty of the day was Tori’s beautiful, high heeled shoes, which had to remain in the box. Luckily she had some flat silver pumps, which saved her from being barefoot.

I ran downstairs and ushered all the England Rugby fans out of the bar, where they were watching the match and into the Marriage Room, whilst Tori gingerly made it down the stairs.

I never thought I would have to get a girl drugged up to the eyeballs to get her to marry my son!!

At 3.20, she walked down the aisle and if you hadn’t known, you would never have guessed all the trauma of the previous hours. Tori looked just like any other beautiful bride on her wedding day, No one would have guessed that her preparations had taken less time than I spend every morning getting ready for school.

From then on, it was a lovely day, warm enough to spend time in the garden, even in strapless, floaty clothes. (The men again!)

Here are some of my family photos from the day, it was hard choosing what to put on.


You can see from their faces how pleased the Registrar and Assistant were as she walked down the aisle.


At last, they are married.

Simon's  Wedding Photos 10

Hat on........


Or hat off?


Catherine &Flo.



Me, left and Mike right, in case you couldn't work that one out.

ToriandSimonDancing cropped

I love this, it's a still taken from a movie clip I took. Their first dance as husband and wife. I think their faces say it all.

The food and service at the Beckford was excellent, as was the attention of the doctor and the kindness of the Registrar.

Sammy Southall, the photographer, an old friend, was good in adapting to a rather different schedule than the average wedding and I think we were very lucky having such a great team, who did everything possible to make sure the wedding happened.

Simon was kept away from Tori, which was a good thing, as he wouldn’t have managed to look so happy on the pre wedding shots, had he known what a drama was being acted out upstairs.

You can see some of the official photos (3 pages) by clicking on this link Sammy’s. Here is one of my favourites.



What else has been happening?

Well, after 24 years together, 23 of them married, Mike and I finally got engaged. I’d never had an engagement ring and just before Simon’s wedding he bought me one. It’s beautiful, an emerald cut, solitaire diamond, in a claw setting. Mike drove me to Bevere Green to give it to me, which is where he first proposed to me and of course, I said yes!!

We've had a new kitchen fitted. How easy is that to say? How difficult is the reality? Cooking meals in a microwave oven balanced on a breakfast stool and washing up in the bathroom. But it’s done now and I’m very pleased with it.

Catherine and family have driven back to Germany, to see Flo’s family and to pick up their cats, who are now able to enter the country.

I’ve bought some Calendar making equipment and have been out and about taking photos for a Rowley Regis Calendar I’ve made for some of my Family History friends. This is Haden Hill House, Kitchen and Rowley 034 the grounds are a public park now but for centuries belonged to the Haden family. Kitchen and Rowley 036 The Tudor Hall was nearly demolished but has recently been restored and stands next to the Victorian House built by the Haden Best family.

The War Memorial in Powke Lane Cemetery was just catching the sunset as I took this photo and I though it made an inspired picture for  November.

Kitchen and Rowley 044 - Copy


As for J Land, I’ve been catching up on some of my favourites but I’m concerned for Kim (I shaved My Legs For This) nothing from her since mid November. I think her 3 week Chemo finishes in the next day or two. I hope she soon gets her strength back.

I must put some more family photos in soon from the wedding. If I don’t have time before Christmas, I hopeyou all have a lovely time and see you in the New Year.