"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Music for Simon...

Thanks to everyone - here and on facebook - for your kind words.
Simon's funeral was held today.
The service took place in the church where Alan and I got married over 29 years ago. The way I remember it the church seemed so much bigger. In my memory the approach from the roadside to the church door was longer - it seemed to take ages to get from the car to the church door - maybe that was due to the photo's being taken. I don't remember the inside of the church as the whole service just flew by in a haze, I was so nervous :-)
In the heat of the wonderful sunshine we met with family members and awaited the arrival of the hearse.
The music was chosen to reflect Simon's musical favourites.
As we followed him in Westlife " I'll see you again " was played.

The music for reflection was Savage Garden "Truly Madly Deeply"

The hymn was Lord of all Hopefulness.
Leaving church was Robbie Williams Angels

At the crematorium two more Savage Garden songs were played.
The Animal song

So Beautiful

As I have compiled this I have listened to and read all the lyrics with tears streaming down my face. That's ok though it helps and I am sure I will come back to them again and do the same.
Preview isn't working so I hope it all shows up.... Edited to add - tried again to get the youtube clips on - fingers crossed?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Saying goodbye to Simon.....

A week ago today we had a phone call that shocked us all.
Our Nephew -  Alan's brother's son - had taken his own life.

In the early hours of the morning he had taken a ladder and rope and walked to a tree a couple of hundred yards from the house he lived in.
 He was only twenty five.

We travelled through late that afternoon to be with Al's brother.
 Lisa very kindly looked after Milly. She had wanted to go but was also concerned about how she would react with people who would be so very upset - she feels other peoples emotions so deeply.

 J divorced from Simon's Mum over 20 years ago. For various reasons we lost contact with her. Over the years we saw Simon and his Sister on occasions when they were with J. Alan's family history is a difficult and complicated story - suffice to say J has little contact with the rest of his family apart from Alan.

In the last week we have been in constant contact with J by phone.
Simon's body was to be taken back to his mothers house on Thursday, to be laid in his childhood bedroom. We wanted to go to see him and to be there as support for J. It was quite difficult knowing we would be seeing people we hadn't seen for so many years and in such tragic circumstances. We knew that all differences have been put aside and they have been united in their grief and to do what is right for Simon now.

 We were apprehensive as we approached the house - we could see the hearse just leaving and knew Simon had just been brought home. We had arranged with J and J ( his ex) that it would be ok to visit him but it felt intrusive somehow. We were also - understandably I think - nervous about seeing Simon.

We were greeted warmly at the door by Simon's Gran who welcomed us in. Walking in to the house the memories came flooding back of the times I stayed with them when the children were small. I spent time with them when Alan was at sea and J was away in the Army. I saw Simon and his Sister N play fighting with each other on the sofa and Simon running through the dining room to go out to the yard. I remembered all the times J and I had nattered and drank coffee whilst the children played. I had expected it to be emotional but hadn't expected the way the images came so quickly and realistically, tears flowed as we greeted everybody.

I felt so emotional to see everybody and I felt so useless - I so wanted to say something to make it better -  but of course nothing could.

J, J and N were all upstairs with Simon when we arrived. We had coffee and sat with the rest of the J's family and waited. Simon's Gran said how glad she was that we had come and how important it was for J to have the support from his family at this time.

They all came downstairs and I just wanted to hug them all tightly.
 I felt so conscious that it had been many years since we had seen each other but as I hugged J ( Simon's Mum ) it was as if the years had melted away.

We eventually made our way upstairs and stood next to the casket. Alan's Brother J had affectionately said Simon was looking the smartest he ever had done. It was true, he looked so handsome in his smart black suit. He looked peaceful and - although it was heatbreaking to see him - for us it has helped in the whole grieving process.

We had more tea and talked with members of the family before taking J ( Al's brother ) to the place Simon took his life. We had some flowers to lay. Simon's Uncle on his Mums's side also came with us.

It was good to see where it had happened and to peice together his movements that night.

No one has any idea why Simon took his life. After a few tough years things were on the up for him. People who spoke to him on the days prior all say he was upbeat and had no sign of depression. He had some special needs but had amazing support and love from all his close relatives. His Dad spoke to him every day on the phone and saw him nearly every day. 
It might be that an answer will never be found and although it is hard not knowing why he did it the sad fact is that knowing will not bring him back.

The funeral is to be held on Thusday with over one hundred and fifty people likely to attend. Milly has said she would like to go but we have told her she can change her mind at any time. My Mum has kindly offered to come with us and if Milly feels overwhelmed she will be able to take her back to their house.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
Mary Frye, American poet (1904 - 2004)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Up, down and round and round!

 Thursday dawned bright and warm :-)
Up and out to the Pleasure beach!!

Parked up under the supports for The Pepsi Max.
 Perfect for a bit of posing.

 After getting wristbands etc it was on with the fun! The two girls were eager to get on the big rides and it was easier for me to follow them whilst Liz, Patrick and Catherine went together.
First ride...
The Big Dipper.

This little fella sang to me whilst they were being thrilled :-)

My view of the twists and turns and ups and downs...

Hi Mum!
 Bye Mum!
Repeat scene of Milly running back on about 5 more times :-)

Not the best picture but I do like to take a few self portraits wherever we go - Milly and Amy find this habit hilarious for some reason :-))

Wild mouse about ten times for the girls.

Whilst I got to watch the musical water feature :-)

Next - onwards and definately upwards!!!

I sat in the sun and admired the water feature - a theme evolving...

Whoo hoo....

The twist on the Pepsi Max was right in front of me....

The girls went flying...

I went for some food and saw another version of the musical water feature :-) I think at this point I had met up with Liz and the children whilst Milly and El flew around getting on as many rides as they could. My memory is hazy - I was very tired by now ;-))

After the girls had eaten we made it over to the other side of the park...
They're off...

More thrills and spills until the park closed at five and onto the last ride to finish on a high :-)

Back home after a really lovely day and another evening at the amusements on site. Milly trying to win key rings from the 10p machines. Patrick, El and I all joined in to help - she had the knack and won quite a few along with lots of 10p's to enable her to keep playing :-) Liz, Cat and I headed home and the girls and Patrick stayed for a while longer.

A fabulous day of fun :-)

Water park wash out....

The plan for Wed was to have a very relaxed start and then to head off to the Sandcastle water park.

I woke with a stonking headache at four in the morning and although I took pills it didn't shift. I went back to bed and managed to get back to sleep.
In the morning I  made the girls some sausage sarnies and then I can't quite remember what happened. I do remember lying down in the lounge and I think the girls played and chatted around me ;-)

They then went off to Liz's van to hang out and Liz came to mine for a cuppa and a chat. After a while we talked about plans for the afternoon and checked out the closing time for the water park.

They closed at 4.30!! It was gone one and we still hadn't eaten yet and would have the half hour or so journey time as well, so it really wasn't doable. No point paying the entry fee for what would have been an hour or so:-( A few other ideas were discussed but in the end I think we decided to hang out til it was time to go for fish and chips in Bispham. The weather was horrendous and my headache meant I was more than happy to take more pills in an attempt to get it under control and just lounge around for the afternoon. Liz and Cat went swimming and Milly and El came in to watch a DVD and ended up having a tickle fight :-))

 By about 4 ( I think ) we headed off to town.
 Liz acted as my guide every day and I followed her on the journey from the site into Blackpool - it made it so easy for me and I was so grateful :-)

A tram appeared more or less as we approached the stop. Getting on the tram was not the smooth operation it could have been though.
We attempted to get on but Milly felt she needed the loo and found the prospect of getting on the tram and not being able to get off  (we asked the ticket collector he confirmed this would not be possible ) during the journey too much to handle and there were a few tears :-(
Throughout the holiday Liz ( and the children )  had been so understanding of Milly's anxiety and didn't bat an eyelid when we had to let the tram go. I have to admit at this point ( being very tired by now ) my patience was wearing thin and to have her support and understanding helped enormously....
We did find out from another conductor there was actually a ticket option that would enable us to get off if needed and headed off to find a loo.

Finally we got on a tram and Milly loved it ( she is now keen to take Alan on one when they visit again together ) and we made it to the restaurant. The weather was awful but the food at the chippy was delish! A massive slice of Strawberry cheesecake to complete the meal meant I could hardly move :-))

Then the evening took a rather unfortunate turn. Into the gale and rain we went, hoping to get on a tram to view the Illuminations. We saw one coming and were pleased we wouldn't have to hang around too long :-)  The tram went sailing past with the driver gesticulating and pointing behind :-(
 I assumed he meant we were at the wrong tram stop should have been at the one further along. There were other people at the stop who did move off to the other one but we weren't too sure what to do. The rain was lashing down and the wind was howling. The children were tired and bored and Milly needed the loo and was getting more and more anxious, we didn't know how long it would be before another tram made an appearance and the road was blocked with tail to tail traffic viewing the lights. We only had 45 minutes left on the parking tickets on the cars and ran the risk of getting a fine.....

Over an hour we watched Illumination tour trams passing and got excited every time we saw the lights of one thinking it was one we could get on, only to have hopes dashed as they drew closer and we could see it was a tour tram :-( There were loads of other folk waiting with us as well. No one knew what was going on - the trams usually run every fifteen minutes... The children got cranky - I got cranky - Liz got cranky. The kids had to run off to an alley when they needed to go to the loo. It was not a situation you would want to be in but we had no choice apart from walking -  we were always hopeful a tram would appear though and didn't want to risk moving off and missing it ...

Eventually an inspector came and explained that one tram had broken down and four had got backed up behind it. How happy we were to hear a tram should be there in ten minutes. Not one but four trams turned up! Ah well at least we got to choose which one to go on and got to go to the top at the front toget a great veiw the lights :-)
 Happy children and happy Mum's.
 Within minutes there were ohhhs and ahhhs as we saw the lights and it was as if the last hour had never happened - how quickly moods can change :-)

Back home around 10.30 and Milly went to sleep with Liz and the children in their van.

 I spent time transferring my photos of the night onto the laptop ( to free up space on my phone for the next day ) before going to bed.
To cap off the things that went wrong that day I can't find the folder anywhere in my system!!

Ah well, not the evening we might have wished for but it was spent with good friends and there were still giggles and high points :-))

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - even in a gale:-)

Day two...

Wonderful sounds coming from the Blackpool high tide organ :-)
Glad we got to hear it. We did pass by it again in the following days but never heard it again...

First glimpse of the Pepsi max - gulp!
Milly and El contemplate the idea of going on when we go later in the week - no such contemplation for me -  it is a very definite no thanks ;-))

The rain was holding off and although it was very windy we set off to walk get blown along the prom :-)

Such force behind the wind that you could lean into it and be held up.

A really blustery walk, so exhilarating. We could literally taste the sea as the spray was being whipped up and blown into our faces :-)

Evasive action needed - hoods up girls...

As we walked we talked about changing plans to go to Bispham for Fish and chips that evening - we had planned to wait around ( hoping to spend some time on the beach ) til it was dark and get a tram back to see the illuminations. It really was wild and we had a long time to fill in with no hope of getting on to the sand:-( We decided to leave it til the next day and set off later in the afternoon to go to The Sandcastle water park so we had less time to fill in before dark.

We made it to the Aquarium in one piece and were very ready to get out of the wind to warm up a little :-)

Cleaner shrimp making a meal of Milly's hand. I tried it too, funny feeling, nippy but not painful, quite pleasant really..

In need of a cuppa - I was hoping for coffee ( to give me an energy boost ) and cake - not for any other reason than I wanted cake:-)).
Disappointment that there was no cafe only a couple of vending machines and tables and chairs. Shame - every other aquarium I have been to has had a nice cafe with food and cake.
Decided not to spend money on something that wasn't going to hit the spot. However the shop managed to give all the children something to make them smile:-) Milly spotted the Build a Bear section immediately - something she has wanted to do for ages - and so.... Crossbones was born:-) Milly bought him a pirates outfit and that inspired his name...

Outside in search of coffee. No luck - but we found a rock shop for the children to buy ice-cream . Never mind the gale force winds and driving rain we're at the seaside:-)) While they ate and searched for rock in the shop, I ordered some doughnuts for Liz and I. Hot sugary doughnuts mmmmmm.
We couldn't face the long windy walk back and talked about getting a tram but in the end we hailed a taxi to take us back to the car.

We made our way back to the caravan park and ate at the restaurant on site with Liz's Mum. The children then spent time in the amusements and we joined them for a while. Unfortunately a nasty fall for a little one ended in tears :-( We all headed back to the vans. The three older children set off on their own to hang out in the amusement arcade and walk around the site. Not often they get the chance to do anything like that and they loved it. It became their * thing* and they wanted to do it again over the next few nights :-)

El spent the night with us in our van and remarkably - after a reminder from me of the deal we had made ( the walls of a caravan are so flimsy that I could hear everything and if they were going have a sleepover it would have to actually involve some sleep! ) they were asleep by 12.30.
Must have been all that sea air :-)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Blackpool...The journey down...

The day dawned and nerves about the journey were there but they were under control and I felt excited as well.We couldn't check into to the caravan til four and had decided to have a leisurely start to the day and set off around eleven. We knew that Milly would be anxious and that we would be stopping off at many service stations on the way down ( we had the route planned and knew where the stops were - she could work out how far in between them - which helped her enormously ) Our first stop at Rheged had been planned. We had done the journey before and she was confidant of getting there without feeling too anxious.

We initially talked about stopping for the loo and moving onto the first services on the M6 before eating. Whilst in the loo Milly saw an advert for a display of film costumes that was on at the moment. We decided to have a look...

This is not a good picture but Rheged is a really interesting place to visit. Lots of shops and cafes, interesting architecture and a giant screen cinema. 

Milly loves an escalator;-)

The gallery was right at the top. A lovely surprise when we went to pay for a ticket in the form of a very good friend who had just started working there :-)

The exhibition was in a lovely open space and was well set out with good lighting. We enjoyed seeing the amazing detail of the clothing and recognising the costumes of the films we had seen.

After a whizz round we bought a postcard with a picture of the red dress from Tess that was Milly's favourite, said goodbye to E and headed back down - intending to go to the car. Passing the restaurant reminded Milly she was peckish and would love the mini fish and chips :-)

I wasn't hungry and decided against eating but had a coffee whilst she ate. The restaurant is set near a pond with a small waterfall, a nice setting to watch the gale force gusts of wind pelt rain at the large windows ;-)

Back in the car and onto the part of the journey I was dreading - getting onto the M6. Luckily it wasn't too busy and we navigated the roundabout and got onto it without too much problem - my heart was thumping and took quite some time to settle down though :-)

We stopped at every service station on the way down. I would have preferred not to as it doubled the journey time - making it over 4 hours - and meant coming off the motorway three times. The weather was atrocious - gale force gusts of wind rain and surface water causing spray that was impossible to see through at times. However - on the plus side -  it meant the journey was less stressful for Milly and enabled me to stretch and probably helped to ease the pain I felt at the end of the journey. I was well rested after having had a quiet weekend in preparation and full of patience. I also got plenty of practice getting back on the motorway :-)

We arrived at the site to find a large que of traffic waiting to check in. By this time I was flagging. I was stressed and patience was not high, then a guard sent me off  the main route to find somewhere to park up, I forgot his directions and got lost - could have cried at this point. I eventually found somewhere to park up and made my way to check in.
Milly was only concerned - quite rightly - with texting El so she did that whilst I stood in line and they all met up outside :-)

Can't remember much of the first night, I know Liz and the children visited us in our van, I unpacked  and I think there was an outing to the amusements on site.

 I had challenged myself and done something that made me very scared and after all the emotions and physical exertion I thought I would sleep like a log. It seems I was too wired after the journey though
and it took me a while to get off . Earplugs meant I didn't hear the gale outside - although the caravan bopped about most of the night ;-)) - eventually I dozed off and slept til four'ish - loo and headache pill then back into dreamland til about 8 - tired and achey but ready to start day 2  :-)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Blackpool by the sea.....

Sunny Blackpool here we come!!!

Ok, wishful thinking as the forecast is for wind and rain, but we won't let that little fact dampen our enthusiasm :-)

Liz and the children and Liz's mum are already enjoying the delights of Blackpool and we travel down on Monday to join them for four nights. I am hoping for half decent weather on the way down. I am stretching myself and stepping out of my comfort zone by driving us down and it would help if it weren't raining too hard - here's hoping! We will take it easy, there is no rush and we will be stopping off regularly. So - in theory - I should arrive as relaxed as is possible.Time will tell....

On the agenda are the Pleasure beach - main reason for going for Milly - the  Aquarium and the Sandcastle water park - second reason for Milly :-)
A tram ride, culminating in fish and chips at Cleveleys, before a return journey to view the Illuminations.

The caravan site has a pool as well as amusements so we have a lot to fit in during our stay! We all have separate caravans, so plenty of time for rest and quiet time too ;-)

I can't remember the last time I went to Blackpool - it has to be about 20 years ago!!
Should be a great week with buckets of fun and maybe - weather depending - buckets and spades ;-))

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Picture blog...

Some pictures from the last week or so...

Whinlatter forest park with friends last week.

Walks down the lane with Beauty. 

Walby farm park with Friends.
These were taken whilst we were waiting for them to arrive...


This one especially for Katherine :-)