Lost. Found. Recovered.

Some of you may recall that I recently had a bit of a run-in with one of my neighbours. Welcome to the second instalment…

 

About ten days or so ago I decided to order a copy of this picture as a large canvas print.

Beach Post
Beach Post on Pebbles Beach, Carlisle Bay, Barbados

It was meant to be for my fab hubby to remind him of our perfect Caribbean holiday, which seems so very, very long ago now. We’re having a bit of a tough time right now, what with dodgy finances and (the FAB Hubby’s) heart surgery and a distinct lack of purpose in life, coupled with an increasing feeling of having been tossed onto the scrapheap of sentience. I don’t want to impose my life complaints on everyone, but these circumstances are not helping my increasingly severe depression and most days I spend staring at my computer screen, trying to find any kind of motivation to get something achieved.

Curtains
I have occasional spurts when I try to ‘pull myself together’ like a pair of curtains, but these rarely result in much tangible success, although I do keep on trying.

So actually gathering  enough *oomph* to select and order this picture was a major happening for me. I was so pleased with myself for achieving something.The picture is particularly sentimental for us as it is of Pebbles Beach, in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, where I learned to swim as a small child. Taking Mark there was one of the first things we did when we got into the hire car – the satnav wasn’t working, but I managed to guide him to the place without too much of a detour, largely based on forty-year-old memories and a keen sense of direction. To be fair, the island is only 14 miles by 21 so it’s pretty easy to navigate around, but I was still chuffed to have found it so easily.

Standing on the exquisite white sand in the most brilliant sunshine, I was suddenly eight years old once more, in my tiger swim-suit (long story !), whiling away my days, collecting precious shells and rolling in the surf on Pebbles Beach. The Aquatic Club bar – ‘Pebble Beach Inn’ as it was known then – also had a swimming pool although it’s gone now, having been redeveloped in the intervening years. Patrick (my bestest of boy-friends) and I spent day after day either in the sea or the pool, only being dragged out to eat or drink something then back in the water we went, like a pair of water babies. It’s a strange misnomer, because there isn’t a single pebble on Pebble Beach – and there never has been as far as I can recall, so it was shells that we collected on the rare occasions that we emerged from the water.

Showing my husband of thirty-six years this precious memory meant that finally we could share it together and this of course called for a stroll along the length of the beach. I snapped the picture from the top of the steps, then he helped me jump down the steps and being a rather rotund shape these days, I tippled forward and he, being the gallant knight that he is, staggered forward to help me, so that I would be spared the indignity of rolling into a ball on the hot sand. He’d been taking his specs off and replacing them with his new sunglasses – another, whole different story –  so this process was interrupted during the rockin’ and rollin’ around in the sand.

Fast forward for about an hour as we stroll the entire length of this gorgeous beach and begin our return journey. By now, the heat has gone from the day and the sun is beginning to set -the light is fading exquisitely albeit rapidly, as it does in the Caribbean, being so much closer to the equator and all that. I’m happily snapping away with my new camera at the scenery, the sand, the water, the sky, everything in fact. I turn to take a snap of the FAB Hubby; he’s looking puzzled and just ever-so-slightly panicky.

Why’s he fumbling in his shirt pocket?‘ I ask myself. Then I ask him the same question of course, to which his terrified face blurts out ‘I’ve lost my specs!’.

Now, I should probably explain here that FAB H is virtually blind without his specs. Modern technology has reduced the thickness of the glass these days to something that resembles one of those convex coffee-table paper-weights that people have favoured pressed flowers encased in, as keepsakes or whatever. Jam jars are a thing of the past. Well, mostly anyway. The thing is, he genuinely cannot see a thing without them. So this was a BIG deal.

The entire holiday was on the verge of ruin, for without his eyes, how would he see everything? How would we manage?  Plus, the damned things had just cost an arm and a couple of legs to ensure he had them in time for the holiday. Usually he has photo-chromic lenses which means he doesn’t need separate sunglasses, so there was considerable cursing of the incompetent optician’s assistant whose fault it was that we were now having to negotiate our holiday of a lifetime, minus the ability to actually see anything, since the actual reading glasses had taken themselves off for a little holiday of their own.

It’s quite a long beach it turns out.

We retraced our steps, trying to remain positive, in spite of the increasingly fading light, turning every grain of sand over with our hands and feet, checking to see where they may have been washed into the sea, for, of course, just to complicate matters a little further, the tide was coming in. Fast.

We’d almost given up as we arrived back at the steps to clamber back into the car.

And then I saw them, quietly, even contemplatively, watching the sunset  sitting squarely in the sand, exactly where he’d knocked them out of his pocket when he chivalrously came to my aid earlier.

Lost. And then found again. Just like the beach was.

Perfect.

Now, let’s get back to the present shall we… stop all this lazing around on tropical beaches!

So, I’d ordered this picture to remind him of our wonderful holiday and perhaps to help motivate us both into better frames of mind. I got a great deal and ordered it in a large size – my pictures are meant to be viewed in large formats. This one was about 60cm x 80cm. That’s about 2 feet by about 2 feet 8 inches for those who don’t do decimals.

Thrilled I was.

When I received the email saying it would arrive on Tuesday, I was still feeling thrilled.

On Tuesday I went out of the house for the first time in about … well forever… to go help some friends hang an exhibition in Scarborough hospital. I almost asked my other neighbour to keep an eye out, but she was busy with her three children, so I left it, thinking ‘We’ll be back in good time, it’ll be fine.

Famous last thoughts. ‘It’ll be fine.‘ HAH!

Upon returning home the neighbour and her offspring were still in their garden so I asked about the parcel and she told me our other neighbour, the chap from downstairs, the evil one who made me clean his drains out recently, he was the one who’d taken it in. I sent my son round to go pick it up, but there was some confusion about my apparently ambiguous instruction and the long and short of it was that no-one went to get the parcel that evening. I fretted and worried and got antsy and my *long-suffering men*  ignored my slightly manic state and pressed on with the heavy responsibility of watching TV (or rather, snoring in front of the telly) and raising hell in some imaginary computer game world. Ahem.

Fast forward again to the next morning, when, as usual we were woken by the sound of the recycling truck and staff collecting the recycling waste. Thinking nothing more than ‘Did you put the bins out?’ I turned over and went back to sleep, whilst the FABH got up and pottered about downstairs for a while.

When I rose,  Cleopatra-like, from my slumber a little later on, my first thought was about the picture so I asked if FABH had yet retrieved it and he agreed to put some trousers on and go to collect it. It’s best to not ask about the trousers – just let that one go for now, OK? 

He returned, empty handed, reporting that our (despicable) neighbour had no knowledge of any parcel whatsoever.

I was distraught.

I was beside myself with tormented thoughts.

It wasn’t adding up.

How could he not have known about the parcel? What could have happened to it? Where did the UPS chap leave it?  Did anyone see what he did with it?  These and many more questions began encircling my tiny brain Liz birdies– like the little cartoon birds that used to fly round Sylvester or Tweety Pie’s head when they crashed into something.

I fretted a little more. I envisaged every and any possible scenario regarding my parcel’s fate. Each  a more grisly fate than the last.

The FABH of course remained implacable in the face of potential chaos. He phoned the delivery company (UPS) and we had a delightful conversation with a lovely lady called Sarah, who assured me that the records showed that the parcel had been left in a porch around the back. I explained that this property isn’t what it seems and that ‘around the back‘ are two separate, distinct apartments. She sympathised and suggested that the delivery man might call me himself to explain where he left the parcel. We thought this was an excellent idea and readily agreed.

Then we waited.

Only, I’m not really very good at waiting.

The ants in my pants told me to do it.

I went downstairs and around the back and knocked smartly on my (beastly) neighbour’s door. He was on the phone and clearly, visibly, ignoring me. I could see him through his window. Eventually he gesticulated for me to let myself in, which I did. I asked him about the parcel and he flatly denied all knowledge of it.I described it in detail and he shook his head and threw up his hands, asking me what I wanted to DO about it?

I asked for permission to check his outbuildings- an aluminium shed and another, smaller, store-box, but it wasn’t there. I was even more puzzled now and asked him what I was supposed to think when I’d been told that the delivery man had left it in his domain, but it seemed to have simply vanished. As he sagely nodded his head and attempted to stand up to encourage me to leave, he slumped, in a drunken stupor, to the floor. After helping him to the nearby sofa, I took my cue and left. Clearly, I wasn’t getting anywhere there.

Upon my return, the delivery driver, Carl, rang and we discussed the situation with him. He suggested that usually in these cases, the ‘thief’ makes the mistake of putting the packaging into the rubbish bin, to which the FABH calmly stated that it’s unlikely he’d find any rubbish in the bin as today was collection day… and then we both looked at each other in horror as the realisation of what might have happened set in.

With tears (of anger, frustration, utter disbelief and the ultimate pain of loss) rolling down my face, we thanked Carl for agreeing to pop by the next day to check on the location of the parcel and then all we could do was sit and wait. Again.

I am really rubbish at waiting – we’ve already established this – so around six-ish, I went to call on our other (Polish) neighbour to see if perhaps Carl had been mistaken and left it in his kitchen instead. He hadn’t. And it turned out that our Polish friend had actually seen my parcel in the other neighbour’s kitchen.

What can you do when faced with such evidence? Clearly, I live next to an unstable and apparently vindictive man who thinks nothing of stealing our mail. I considered going to the police, as well as our mutual landlord, but persuaded myself these options seemed drastic. I even emailed the council in the hopes that someone might have spotted the brand-newness of my parcel and put it aside perhaps… to no avail of course. I didn’t sleep a wink and when Carl arrived the next day having taken a good look around the neighbour’s property, he agreed that the only thing to do was set everything in motion to replace the picture. He promised to drop the necessary paperwork off early next week and then he left.

Imagine how delighted I was yesterday morning then when Carl arrived with my replacement parcel! He confided that the paperwork hadn’t been required since, upon ‘further investigation’ (I know not what that entailed), my dastardly neighbour had admitted that he’d taken the parcel in and then put it straight into the recycling collection. Part of me still mourns for that lost picture, but at least now it’s sitting where it’s meant to be – above the sofa across the room from the FABH, so he can be re-inspired each time he looks at it.

Lost. Stolen. Recovered. Or at least replaced.

It’s a picture with a story to tell…

Thanks for reading again!

 

 

 

 

 

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‘The Insect Play’ – preparing for life outside the bubble

It’s a funny old world.

For thirty-odd years we have had at least one child in school and in all of that time I have watched or participated in a great many school plays, either as a parent or as a teacher. This was to be the last one, as our youngest performs in his final production before graduating from high school (sixth-form college) in the coming week. It’s a teeny bit momentous really, for us as parents. Huge for him too, of course, but none-the-less an important milestone for us.

So what was this final production about then?

The GUS came home earlier on this year and announced that his group would be performing an adaptation of ‘The Insect Play’ by Karel and Josef Capek, a collaboration of Czech brothers, first performed in 1921 at the National Czechoslovakian Theatre in Brno. Their esteemed head of department at York College, Tony Ravenhall adapted the play from the original which has long had mixed reviews and I was intrigued to see how the enterprise would turn out.

Magnificently is the answer.

For those who do not know the play, I’ll give you a brief overview. A tramp in a park observes the lives of a variety of insects and (this is the clever part) draws analogies with human life, in all its glorious stages, from cradle to grave with diversions such as reproduction, gathering ye seeds while ye may, haves-and-have-nots, politics – most notably Communism, working for the greater good, nihilistic wars and Napoleonic world-conquering neuroses. Life and Death in sixty minutes. It’s genius is the crystal clear comparison of insect behaviour and life cycles with human ones.

The butterflies at the beginning of the play are hunted by a slightly loony lepidopterist (brilliantly portrayed by Emily Furness) their nymphomaniacal fluttering and flitting about is observed by the Tramp (equally well played by Josh Sissons) who (perhaps through his drunken haze) interprets their actions in human terms, as ‘bright young things’ from a Roaring Twenties champagne party. Some clever word-play, flawlessly expressed, coupled with well-choreographed movements drew the audience in even closer than the unusual ‘Promenade’ participation accorded and we were hooked, mesmerised by these young actors’ performances.

With just a tinge of sadness at the death of Victor, snaffled by a bird (off-stage), the butterflies flit-flutter off and the Tramp is intrigued to come across a pair of dung-beetles, carefully rolling their nest-egg, the sum of their life’s work, around to find a suitable place to hoard their ‘Lovely’; both Mr and Mrs Beetle are clearly obsessed with what they have amassed, lavishing far more love and attention upon it than towards each other. Mildly comical in appearance, the Gus made a very convincing Dung Beetle – a fact that concerns me not a little! Still, this is the hallmark of a good actor, being convincing, so now I am on the horns of a dilemma – proud  of his ability to morph into another character effectively, slightly disgusted at the idea of my son, the dung beetle. But, I digress, yet again!

The story moves on with the arrival of the Crickets, bedecked in The Green, with accompanying Irish characterisation, well portrayed by Anastasia Crook as a heavily pregnant Mrs Cricket and Louis Hague as her doting husband, Mr Cricket. Their poignant representation of the Middle Classes, concerned with a ‘nice new pair of curtains’ rang true with many of the audience; tragically they succumb to the voracious appetite of the Ichneumon Fly (played by Dan Burton), who is singularly obsessed with feeding his precious larvae, a  spoilt brat magnificently portrayed by Tasha Connor. The Parasite, assuredly played by Kirsten Allison, dressed in a proletarian shell-suit and achieving an impeccable Geordie accent, rammed home the pertinent message of the narcissistic, ‘Me-First’ generation.

After a short interval Act Three, The Antics of the Ants, presents an altogether ominously dark representation of life in a commune, with workers mindlessly following their leader’s instructions, all to achieve the most efficient and profitable outcome for the State. The snide provocation of War, in order to glorify the newly-self-appointed Empress Ant (authoritatively portrayed by Claire Rimmington) results in the chaotic breakdown of society, reinforcing the idea that pursuit of power, for its own sake, is reprehensible and will always end in total failure. The tramp, disgusted by what he has seen finally interferes with the insects’ lives by killing the leader of the victorious colony of ants, which ultimately causes his own demise. He dies. The Chrysalis, who has been interjecting continually throughout the play so far, is finally born as a beautiful moth, but dies almost instantly, with only the moths around the flame to sing a song of mourning. The three moths, Isobel Leger, Lydia Potter and Emma Berridge’s haunting, exquisite rendition of the newly composed song of the cycle of life and death cast an air of finality over the proceedings.

A delightfully comedic epilogue in which two snails painfully slowly steal the show, cleaning up the carnage and thereby renewing the cycle of life breaks the tension magically. The moving symbolism of other humans acknowledging the death of a fellow human being with the placing of a single rose upon the corpse of the deceased Tramp is not lost upon the audience.

I was struck by the importance of all of these messages to our young people, who are embarking upon their own careers forthwith. This version of The Insect Play clearly concerns itself with the greater questions of how to live in this world once life is bestowed upon us. The lampooning of human greed, complacency and selfishness emphasizes the relativity of human values and the most pressing need to come to terms with human life. How much more pertinent could a final performance be? It was a breathtakingly brilliant choice to undertake the retelling of this vital story. I’m sure that all involved will hold its message dear to their hearts for many years to come. I know Toby will.

The Insect Play, York College cast and crew, 12th June 2015
The Insect Play, York College cast and crew, 12th June 2015

Thank you to all the staff at York College for such insightful and valuable lessons to our children, who have matured into interesting, informed and intuitive young adults under your tutelage; may I offer my good wishes to all the graduates for success in the future.

Thanks for reading once again, my friends!

 

 

Kitten Therapy: Bae style

A little while ago – on my daughter’s thirty-somethingth birthday (that would have been on the fourth of February – I am not so addled that I don’t recall the day of her birth in exact detail!) – she announced that the family would be joined by a new member very shortly.

What has a short, needle-shaped tail?
What has a short, needle-shaped tail?

This little life would be around eight weeks old, have two fairly pointy ears, blue eyes (probably) and a short, aciculated and very furry little tail. My heart went flip-flop.

Oh, my!  How very exciting!

I love kittens. Who doesn’t? Their sheer joy at discovering all that life has to offer is just so intensely palpable and who could not be moved to mush by the sight of a tiny creature clearly accumulating understanding and intelligence before your very eyes? How often do you get to see THAT happen?

So I was thrilled to bits to hear this lovely news. She told me all the details and within an hour of arriving home, we were Skyping so that I could meet the precious one.

Jet black from head to toe, with the cerulean windows on her little soul staring right through me, I fell in love instantly. What a beauty!

What gorgeous eyes you have my dear...
What gorgeous eyes you have my dear…

She had been instantly inquisitive, following her nose to explore the room upon arrival and release from her travelling basket. No nervousness apparent, just intense curiosity about her new surroundings. She’d had a little while to explore the physical area of the room and now her slaves had presented her with a fenestral rectangle that showed a strange humanoid, who looked remarkably similar to the human who seemed to be the one in charge in this new establishment, gushing and gooing, smiling and looking like she too might make an excellent slave. The kitten repeatedly sniffed at the I-Pad and batted it experimentally to gauge its purpose. Each time she did this, excitable sounds emitted from the device as I drank in my virtual kitten therapy.

Bae knows what she wants
Bae knows what she wants

It was a couple of weeks before we could meet in person, during which time this ritual of regular Skyping became ever more exciting for me, but possibly less so for Bae.

I was a little confused at first, as I thought my daughter had said her name was ‘Fay’, but no, this little kitten is destined to have a much grander name. Not that Fay isn’t a grand name – of course it is. Just not quite as impressive as ‘Bellefire Rover Nightshade Everitt’.

Or ‘Bae’ for short.

Natalie patiently explained that Bae was a derivative from Bellefire (at least, that’s what I think she said…) and that it suited her perfectly.  I checked out ‘Bae’ on Google and discovered a hotbed of controversy surrounding the use of the word, the consensus of which seems to be that it is a TLA (three-letter-acronym) for ‘Before All Else’. That or urban slang for a significant other, as in ‘my bae (baby) is my life‘ amongst other equally vomit-inducing sentiments that I simply cannot bring myself to type. Regardless of  wrangling about etymology, I actually agree that it is a name that suits this little ball of fluff.

Toby and Bae - just hanging out
Toby and Bae – just hanging out

We finally met last weekend. She is totally adorable. We were completely captivated by her antics, which included an indefatigable inability to ignore any tiny scratching noise made by the GUS’s fingers on the sofa – this guarantees her pouncing presence within three seconds of her hearing it. Once she had ambushed his hand for the thousandth time, she would move on to the needle-sharp nibbling of the fingers, often accompanied by inquisitorial osculation, presumably testing the waters in the same manner that a human child explores the world through their mouths. Toby has many tiny pinholes in his hands to show how much she loved playing with him too.

Harrie simply loves Bae
Harrie simply loves Bae

The little girls (Harriet and Scarlett) simply cannot get over the fact that they have a real, live kitten in their lives. All the time. Harrie would be very happy to spend every waking moment in the company of this small creature, as well as every sleeping one too. Preferably though, there would be none of that time-wasting on sleeping. Play. Play. PLAY time is precious!

Bae has developed a healthy wariness of Harrie’s chubby little hands as they bear down upon her, relentlessly. Harrie can’t help it, this kitten has us all in the pad of her purr-fect paws, so utterly charming is she. Fortunately, kittens are generally much faster on their feet than four-year-old human children and she’s keeping on top of that situation, which is reassuring for all animal lovers I hope.

She even melted the heart of my FAB hubby, who has repeatedly insisted that no more small furry creatures will invade our lives. Even when faced with an epidemic of tiny rodents who insist on sharing this large farmhouse with us – and I’m really beginning to get why the Farmer’s Wife chased after them all with a carving knife – he has resisted the temptation to get another cat of our own. Bae worked her magic whilst we popped out to play on the park with the children (our grandchildren, not just some random small people, ‘cos, well, THAT would be wHeird!), by playing with his feet whilst he did some washing-up and purring *very loudly* when he bent down to pat her. I think she hypnotised him with her Jedi-Cat Mind Tricks. It’s the only explanation. Well, she is a black cat after all…

We were very carefully monitored each time we left the house this weekend, to ensure that Bae wasn’t being cat-napped in one or other of our pockets. It was a distinct possibility, that we might ‘borrow’ her for a few days/weeks/months/years. But I’m not a complete ass – I know she belongs to my daughter. I just get to have a kitten-fix whenever I feel the need for a little while at least. And we can all do with a little kitten therapy in our lives, I’m sure.

Thanks for reading again my friends!

 

 

 

Serenity

A new piece of art this evening – a simple digital collage from our walk in the woods a couple of weeks ago. I love the way the light found its way through the trees, creating an atmosphere of serenity. I hope it gives you peace to see it.

Serenity
Serenity

Empty Nests

I’m back.

For a while there I was engulfed in a mortified mire of misery, submerged in suffocating self-loathing as ‘dark as the helmsman’s bark of old that ferried to hell the dead‘ as A. C. Swinburne once said.

When I get so depressed that all I can do is try to beat the world at Scrabble or match rows of analogous ‘Bejewelled’ gems to pass the time, and then bemoan my lack of purpose so that this is almost the only thing that keeps my grey matter from stagnating utterly, I cannot write at all. I should, because the whole process is rewardingly cathartic as I discovered yesterday. I should make myself a motivational poster to put up on my pinboard above my desk to remind me of that fact.

See, now I have a purpose again.

It makes a huge difference.

A while back I visited a local village and took a bunch of photos around the churchyard there. If you click here (or visit the link on the sidebar for the archives in October 2014) you can see the original story. Only if you want to of course… I’m not trying to be bossy here.

Anyhoo, (NOT a typo there – it’s a word I use frequently) you may recall I took a picture of a small bird’s egg lying amongst the leaf-litter between the gravestones and a yew. The fact that there are usually yew trees in graveyards in England (and possibly elsewhere I imagine) is a constant source of amusement between my youngest daughter and I as, having spouted this *fact* as we strolled through her Oxfordshire village one sunny afternoon, I failed miserably and in spectacular fashion to identify a yew in someone’s garden – she’s teased me about it ever since. It’s not really funny now of course – I guess you had to be there – but whenever I see that word it raises a smile in my mind. Which is always a good thing.

Where was I?

Oh, of course!

Back to the story.

Ahem.

ANYHOO…

The bird’s egg.

Well, of course, I had actually been out that morning to catch something *interesting* to enter into a photo competition that I was keen to tackle. This was to be the second competition that some fantastic people had organised over at the Creative Group for Bedlam Farm which I’ve mentioned before, once or twice, perhaps. The theme this time was ‘Nature’.

A slightly conspiratorial atmosphere prevailed as my FAB hubby and I dressed for our outing in the pre-dawn October darkness. The plan was to go and capture the sunrise over the pumpkin patch on the Pickering Road, about six or seven miles away. It was magical and I was pleased with some of the shots achieved, hoping I had captured something worthy of entering in this contest.

During the first contest earlier in the year I had sent in what I had thought was a winning shot of a bee *visiting* a flower, but it hadn’t even placed, so I was apprehensive about what a winning shot might look like and how on earth I could achieve it. I had agonised for days about which photo to send in and was genuinely devastated when my eventual choice was overlooked for a prize. I was very aware of the deadline approaching for this second match and determined to find something to compete with.

With the sun fully up by eight o’clock, we’d headed home, passing through Rillington on the way. There was something special about the light that morning – cool, bright, crispy and properly autumnal. I had to stop and take some more pictures. I snapped away enthusiastically at kaleidoscopic leaves, briskly babbling brooks and ghostly gravestones in the hoary churchyard. When I wrote about it later I imagined a moment of time travel, being transported through the years to visit the lives of those commemorated in stoney memorials.

And then came a moment of pure clarity. Lying on the leaf litter between the tombstones and the aforementioned yew tree was a forlorn-looking half-eggshell. The edges crazed and fissured and inside was complete empty. Devoid of residue from the albumen or anything else in fact. My eye was drawn as if by some powerful magnetic force to the whiteness and the blank inanition of the fragile shell; I dropped to my knees instantly to find myself almost at eye-level with the fronds of grass and detritus on the ground. This was an automatic move that my brain seemed incapable of controlling – my photographer friend, the inestimable Jeff Anderson, has repeatedly instructed me to ‘get down low’ and search for the light from the right perspective – his words ringing in my ears gave my legs the clear message to move myself into an advantageous position.

It looked even more ethereal from this viewpoint.

I could almost hear the little chirruping that the tiny new life would have made as it freed itself from the confines of the protective shell. Perhaps its mother was answering her offspring’s uncertain pleas, gently encouraging and cajoling the tiny birdlet to cast away their fears and spread their wings so that they could emerge into this wondrous world, continuing a line that is older than Time.

All that remained now was the discarded shell that had cherished its cargo until it was no longer needed.

And I saw myself for the first time.

I’ve been a mother for over thirty-four years and my two eldest children fledged an age ago.

My Neanderthal often reminds me of a baby penguin...
My Neanderthal often reminds me of a baby penguin… *(see note at end of this article)

But I still have my Neanderthal at home, for now at least. He will be eighteen in just a couple of days time – in fact with a labour that lasted for thirty-four hours, it should have been his birthday today, but that’s a whole other story that I hope you’ll tune in for on Tuesday. Not long after this momentous occasion he will depart from our nest and start his own adulthood. I am fully aware of this – it’s not like it’s any kind of surprise, I’ve know this day will come since he was first conceived.

The thing is, now it is almost here, and it is tapping me on the shoulder and shouting ‘BOOM’ in my other ear.

I’ll have an empty nest for the first time in my adult life.

I deliberated for weeks about whether or not to send this picture in. It seemed a little simple. Black and white simple.

I played around with the image, giving it different colours to see how it affected the feel of it. Eventually I settled on this hint of green, symbolising envy and perhaps new beginnings, coupled with a dash of blue to add just a touch of sadness to the ambiance of the image.

It turns out that I’ve struck a chord with people, who like this image for its simplicity. I am pleased to say that it won the competition – much to my genuine surprise.

And the judge’s comments, coupled with the congratulatory messages from my fellow Farmies have lifted me back into the Land of the Living. They gave me a moment of real life. I’m so very grateful.

The Empty Nest
The Empty Nest

And I’ve received a gorgeous certificate, designed by the very lovely and extremely talented artist, Barbara Berney – thank you! CGBF photo certif Liz Gregory

Thanks for reading again!

* The penguin image is from a very informative page about African Penguins that can be found here

Post Script: December the 13th was my mother’s birthday. She would have been ninety-four this year. I mention this because of her connection to the Neanderthal’s birth, which you can read about here, if you wish! 

Thank you Royal Mail

As I was washing up the breakfast porridge this morning I heard the familiar scuffling noise as the postman delivered the morning mail and I sing-song-shouted my usual ‘Thank you!’ to his rapidly disappearing frame as he trundled back down the lengthy garden path. He raised his arm in a gesture of acknowledgement and I swear he was chuckling to himself as he went on his way.

The reason for the chuckle soon became very clear as I bent down to pick up the solitary item on the doormat. A letter, about A5 sized (approximately 8 inches x 5½ inches) sat there, beaming up at me. It was addressed to ‘Nana, Grandad + Toby’, so I knew who it was from even before I picked it up.

As I picked it up, smiling inside, I turned it over and this is what greeted me:

A hand-made envelope with a special little helper to ensure proper delivery...
A hand-made envelope with a special little helper to ensure proper delivery…

There was a fair amount of glue and sticky tape holding this little bundle of love together, which required some very careful and rather tricky negotiation, but eventually, we managed to prise it open and feast upon the great gift held so tightly within its depths.

Auntie Donna (that is Harrie’s aunt, not mine of course, because that would be a very difficult relationship to explain… Donna being my daughter and all… 🙂 ) had been looking after Harrie on Monday as she was too poorly to go to school, after a weekend of coughing, raised temperatures and the now familiar consequences.

What super writing Harrie!
What super writing Harrie!

Harrie simply adores school and was terribly miffed at not being well enough to be with her teacher so she had asked Donna to help her to do some schoolwork, such is her devotion to her studies – dedication that many others could learn a great lesson from (mentioning no names, Mr Neanderthol… 🙂 ). Let’s not forget, Harriet is nearly four now, so these things matter a great deal to her. Donna had found an excellent compromise – let’s write a letter to Nana!

I give you the contents of the letter – I am sure Harrie won’t mind me sharing them with you all, because I challenge anyone to not feel instantly cheered by the wonderful simplicity of this fabulous message, in pictorial form – ‘You are my lovely family, I think of you often and I love you so very much!’. For those who need to be more literal, I’ll interpret the drawings for you: Back row, left to right Toby, Grandad and Nana (the one with all the hair – boy, she’s nailed that one!) all holding hands; front row – Harrie, eating a doughnut. Of course.

Harriet's first letter to us all
Harriet’s first letter to us all

Yep, feeling very pleased to be a loved Nana today!

Thanks for reading again!