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I am sitting up in bed in my old bedroom back home. Radio 4 is on, I have a cup of tea, and I am reading Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys. It is lovely being back home. But it is so odd not hearing the clang of the stair gate, little footsteps, and a sleepy-warm Jessica hopping in to bed for a morning snuggle.

She lays her head on me and asks ‘where is my Daddy?’ and I reply ‘In the shower darling, getting a nice clean boy’. She chuckles deeply and says ‘because he is a dirrrty boy!’ Poor Carl couldn’t be less dirty, but she finds this so funny.

Mum had her operation and I am here to help out and keep her company. She is recovering more than you would think possible, but at the same time moving is understandably slow and painful. It feels really lovely to be back home, and to slip out from every day life just for a while.

Carl is going to bring Jessica to stay for a day or so in a few days, he knows I would miss her too much to be away for long.

So, here I am. Carl came for dinner last night, and when we said goodbye it felt like sixteen years ago, when we were together but had not moved in together, and he used to come for dinner then go home. How much has changed in that time!

Before I drink my tea, I just want to say thank you for your lovely kind comments on my last post, I am lucky to have such conpassionate and wise visitors here x

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Sleep Over

jessica was almost beside herself with excitement today. Her first sleepover at Grandma’s House. There have been so many reasons why it couldn’t happen before…when Dad was still alive he was too ill, and since he died Mum’s arthritis has been too painful and degenerating to allow her to hurry around after a lightning fast three year old.

But since Mum came out of hospital last week following her hip replacement, I have moved back in with her to help her recover. Jessica has had a sleepover at Nanny’s and has had Daddy looking after her tonight though, she is here with me in my old childhood bedroom. I am laying in the dark hearing her soft breathing. I never dreamt when laying in bed in this room as a child that one day my own child would be in here with me…but what a lovely feeling it is.

She was so excited she took over an hour to settle to sleep. But now she is dreaming, and I am so overcome by her sweetness I am torn between wanting to wake her just to hug her close, and laying as still and quiet as I can so as not to disturb her.

Tomorrow she will be ‘keeping after’ Grandma. I don’t know why she says ‘keep after’ instead of ‘look after’ but I find it endearing and sweet.

Three generations of women under this roof tonight. When I think that the egg that would become Jessica was inside me when my mother was pregnant with me, I understand perfectly why the three of us have such a special bond.

I’ve had several nights later than I intended recently, so now I will wish you good night and sweet dreams. 

Stretched

Every bone in me aches this evening. I long to rest, but I cannot settle. I think they call it ‘worn to a raveling’. The waiting has been wearing. And now the flurry of activity. I can’t see where to stop and catch my breath.

Mum had her operation yesterday. It took maybe two hours longer than planned, and that waiting time was terrifying. The what-ifs which creep in. The hoping for the best but fearing the worst. The relief when word finally came that all was well.

I seem to overestimate what I can do. I dropped Jessica at nursery, went straight to work, worked and then walked across town to meet my sister to collect a phone charger to take tot he hospital for mum. A ride on the bus. Visiting with Mum. Then waiting for a bus which didn’t come, getting the next one in the inky dark and cold, stopping at the shop to buy dinner, then on to nursery to collect Jessica, then home to do her dinner. 

And now Jessica is in the bath while daddy washes her, and I am sitting in my spot at the bottom of the stairs. I feel daunted. We don’t know when mum will come out, so we don’t know which days to arrange things for. I’ll have Jessica to look after and get to preschool and will be moving into mums too. It isn’t just my things to take, but working out where Jessica will be and when, and how she is getting from one to another, and leaving dinner and provisions for her and for Carl. My head is swimming.

Then there is tomorrow, I now have to pop to the library and on the way from there to toddler group get the bits for our craft table project. Then from toddler group to nursery and me into work. Then back to nursery and home for dinner, then back to nursery for parents evening. Then home.

And in the back of my mind is the list if Christmas gifts to buy, cards to make, thugs to plan for our little family.

Ticking underneath is the raw pain of a baby lost at the start of the month, and everything is carrying on like he or she never existed, was never here with me. When do I get time to just sit and cry for the little one I should be cradling in my stomach right now? When?

Sunday Contentment

When I was at Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair several weeks ago, I bought a little wooden sign which says ‘A Sunday Well Spent Leads To A Week Of Content’ which I really love. Weekend family time is so special to me, and we really made the most of this one.

Yesterday morning Jessica and I played together to give Carl some free time. He works so hard in the week and rarely gets a minute to himself. Then we visited Mum and did a few jobs around the house to get her ready for her hip operation tomorrow.

This morning we had breakfast out and did a few jobs in town, and then headed over to Abberton Reservoir. I managed to snag a table looking out over the water, and while Carl and Jessica explored the Brambly Hedge trail, I sat with tea and a scone and the new Liz Earle magazine. I got my knitting out for a little while too (I am working on a tea cosy in the shape of a Christmas tree) and I watched the light fade and the skies turn a glorious pink which reminded me of the underside of a seashell.

I finished Jane And The Waterloo Map this morning. If you are a Jane Austen fan and you have not discovered this series yet you are really in for a treat.

I cooked a roast beef dinner this evening. Mum had sent us home yesterday with lots of vegetables she wasn’t going to use up before hospital, so doing a roast seemed like the best thing. I love simple traditional cookery like that. It makes me feel so connected to the cooks who have gone before me in my family, and also who have lived in this house.

So after our weekend which was well spent, I am indeed feeling content, although also trying to quell my worry about tomorrow. I could not begin to cope if anything happened to Mum. I am trying to focus on how much better she will feel, about how nice it will be to move in with her for a few days. Focus on the good and crowd out the worry, that is the plan.

Murder On The Orient Express

We don’t very often get out in the evening at all, let alone together, so last night was a lovely treat. Jessica went for a sleepover at her Nanny’s house so we took the opportunity to have an outing to the cinema together.

The evening started with a little mistake on my part…I presented myself at preschool for parents’ evening only to discover I was a week early!

After dinner we headed out into the dark to the cinema. We are lucky enough to have an Everyman cinema near us, and even luckier to have won vouchers so it was free! The Everyman has double sofas instead of chairs to sit in, and they deliver all manner of treats to the table next to your sofa. You do have to pay a lot for the privilege though, and had we not had our voucher, two tickets, a tea, a g&t and two tubs of chocolate would have cost us nearly £50!

One tiny disappointment…in the magazine and in lots of posters, in the trailers, they made a big thing about how they are partnered with Godiva chocolates and on Wednesday everyone is given a complimentary box of two Godivs chocolates. We asked about them when we ordered our drinks and were told you get them after the film. We asked after the film and were told we should have had them on the way in to the film, and they had run out. They gave us some chocolate buttons which was kind, but not Godiva…

Now the film. I love Agatha Christie so of course knew the story already, but it did not spoil things. I do envy a little bit people for whom the ending was a surprise though! The costumes and sets were beautiful, and the scenery is just breathaking.

I was a little worried about seeing someone other than David Suchet in the role of Poirot, but Kenneth Brannagh did a really good job. I wasn’t sure about the tiny patch of beard, but the voice, the mannerisms, they were so Poirot.

As I knew it would, it left me with a wish for a lovely long train journey. I’ve always wanted to travel on a sleeper train, and while I don’t think it will be the luxury of the Orient Express for us, I think it is something I will try and work into next year.

A few years ago they were planning to make Miss Marple for the big screen, but they were planning to change her charactwr to that of a young woman…although I would love to see Marple on the big screen, I am glad they didn’t make a modernised version.

WI

And so I spent a dark November evening in the light and warmth of my WI sisters, and it was the kind of evening which is medicine for the soul.

On my table were some of my favourite people, and each of us had a shiny red metal bucket. The middle of the table was taken up with an abundance of foliage and sprays of holly berrys.

We were given simpe instructions and left to play and create. It was so soothing, choosing foliage, stripping the bottom third of leaves, then poking into the soaked oasis just so. Talking, drinking tea, creating. When we were happy with our foilage we could wire and add baubles, pinecones and dried orange slices. I have left a gap in the middle of mine as I want to add a candle.

This is the kind of craft I have seen in books and magazines and always dismissed as ‘too hard’…but it was so easy and so incredibly satisfying. There must have been something approaching 200 ladies there last night, and it was such a good atmosphere to be in.

Here is my pot, waiting for the candle.

I also won the competition last night! The theme was ‘Work In Progress’ and I wrote a short piece about being our own works in progress individually and as part of our WI, and our WI evolving and changing as our members do. It was a privilege to win as it was a piece written straight from the heart.

Work in Progress

Oh the irony for a post called Work In Progress…I was midway through writing it when my wretched iPad crashed and lost the lot…

It is not yet five o’clock and yet it is already quite dark outside and feels like later in the evening than it is. I am in my spot at the bottom of the stairs taking a few minutes quiet with a cup of tea. I love it here, betwixt and between, apart and at the heart all at the same time.

I can hear a creak, creak, creaking from the living room and I know without looking that a Jessica has climbed up into the rocking chair for a gentle rock. She knows that it is WI this evening and Daddy is doing bath time. I shall be setting out with my scissors wrapped in my apron for my favourite meeting of the year – Christmas Crafts. We are making floral table decorations this year.

Our competition is called ‘Work In Progress’ and it got me thinking that life could be described as such. No more clearly is it seen than in my Jessica. Her body, her habits, her character is growing and evolving before my very eyes. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the sleepy toddler who lurks beneath the surface, but she is such a big girl now. New words find their way into her mouth, and she learns to pronounce correctly ones which made my heart smile the way she used to say them. I am an a-dough-t and she is a chole-dren.

If I find time I want to write a little piece about being our own Works In Progress for the competition. We shall see if time is kind or not.

I am knitting a tea cosy at the minute, lovely green wool to make a Christmas tree effect. It is destined to be a gift, but I may make another just for us. I am reading Jane and the Waterloo Map which is a library book and needs finishing as there is a reader waiting. I am planning the cooking of my first Christmas dinner, and trying to find inspiration for designing my Christmas cards this year.

But just now there is a little girl I am going to sit on my knee and snuggle with, and read another story. Because I was walking in the dark the other evening, and I realise that no matter how many hundreds of stories I read to her, no matter how many thousands of cuddles I give her, at the end of my life I know I will always wish there was time for just one more.

A melancholy note to end on perhaps, but my thoughts have been straying that way of late. A few weeks ago we were overjoyed to fin out that after losing two babies, we were expecting another. The very next day it all started to go wrong, and a week later we found that we now have three angel babies waiting for us in heaven. There is no comfort anywhere when you have lost babies, but the only thing I can think is that at least when I do come to the end of my days, although I will always wish for one more day with Carl and Jessica, I will have three little babies that I can cuddle at last.