It’s been a year!

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I honestly can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I last sat down to write a blog post and, even worse, my last post was all about how I was going to revamp my life and start writing again. To be fair, I have been writing, just not on here. Having relinquished anonymity on this blog, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing what was going on in my life here. Suffice to say it has been a tough year for all my family and life continues to hold more than its fair share of challenges but we have emerged stronger and, for the most part, closer. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know we all have to move forward with our lives and remember that there is only so much that we can do to affect negative influences.

When my children were small my mantra was always ‘tomorrow is another day.’ The wonderful thing about young children is that they never hold grudges; they may go to bed screaming blue murder but at some point in the night their mutinous faces will be transformed into angelic ones and they always wake with masses of energy, ready to launch themselves into a new day. As they become older this changes and they like to remind their parents of the various crimes and misdemeanours perpetrated against them the previous day, week, month, year. They go to bed in a bad mood and they wake up in that same mood. But what I have realised is that no matter what someone else is feeling, the way I feel is entirely down to me. If I want to be happy then it up to me to be happy, my happiness shouldn’t depend on anyone else. Naturally I may feel saddened by things going on around me, I’m certainly not suggesting that I should lose all empathy for others, but no matter what is happening externally I can still feel happiness. I can still take pleasure in a starry night, a beautiful sunrise, a sunny day, a cup of tea, a delicious meal, a chat with a friend, a cosy night by the fire. And it is all these little things which will make me feel happy. I can’t control what goes on in the world, I can’t control how my adult children live their lives, I can’t control how my ex-husband talks to me but I can control my response, I can shrug it off and concentrate on myself. I can acknowledge the fact that I can do nothing to change things and instead sit down and knit a scarf, instead of worrying about a problem I can’t solve I can take five minutes to enjoy watching the birds in the garden.

My priority at the moment is taking time to enjoy the moment, I’m trying to simplify my life and trying to spend more time doing the things that make me happy. I’m looking at various business ventures which will capitalise on my enjoyment of crafts and I’m generally being kinder to myself. As the saying goes: “happiness is a journey, not a destination.” How true that is. I, for one, am determined to open my eyes, uncover my ears and enjoy every bit of it. I hope you do too.





















Where does the time go?

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I can’t believe that we’re into February already and that I have totally neglected my blog for the last four months. It’s a combination of factors: looking for other interests (more of that in another post),  trying to catch up with work and dealing with the aftermath of a house fire at the end of the summer, concentrating on children at the beginning of a new school year and Christmas (I always feel that both December and January are a write off in terms of achieving anything). I think also there was an element of feeling happier in myself and so perhaps not needing the same outlet for my rambling thought processes. I think I’m beginning to get used to my changing role as my children grow up and perhaps even beginning to enjoy some of the advantages to having older children such as having meals cooked for me – such a treat! I think also that I have realised that what I set out to write about isn’t necessarily what I have ended up writing about so perhaps I need to spend some time thinking a little more about that and even starting afresh.

2015 is going to be a pretty significant year for my family: my eldest finishes at University (how has that happened?), my youngest has started at secondary school and is becoming more independent every day although , luckily for me, he is as cute ever and still loves cuddles, two of my sons finish sixth form and my other will enter sixth form. So much is changing and the house seems so quiet sometimes, waiting to spring back into life when all five boys are together again and I am transported back into the chaos of constant meals, constant laundry, mess and noise. It’s going to be a year of changes for us all but I’m not afraid anymore. I’m determined to embrace the changes, to enjoy the chaotic times and to savour the quieter times and make maximum use of them. This is my chance to give more attention to myself, to spend more time nurturing my own friendships. It is also the time to plan exciting projects with my youngest children; there are so many things that are easier to do with two as opposed to five. I always feel bad that my youngest can’t remember some of the wonderful trips we took when he was a toddler so perhaps we can do something about that. I used to be so good at planning holidays but that seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years-it’s so much easier planning trips with younger children as they are happy to go anywhere and do anything whereas teenagers are so reticent at the planning stage and yet so vocal at the execution stage.

So my challenge for this month is to think about my way forward in blogging terms, re-enter the Twitter world, which I also seem to have neglected, and to plan at least one trip. I will report back soon.


Feeling lost

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I have been feeling rather lost lately, and wondering who exactly I am. For the first time ever I feel as if I have no clearly defined role in life and I really don’t know how to move forward. My youngest child has now started at secondary school and I am no longer constrained by the school run so have an extra hour and a half to play with each day. It seems to me that I should be harnessing that extra time in a pro-active way but I feel constrained by the fact that there are still thirteen weeks of school holidays to work around, still periods when children fall sick and need attention, still those exam periods when children are on study leave and I need to be around both to chivvy them up and ensure they actually do study and to ferry them to and from exams that don’t fit in with school bus times. I’m constrained by the volume of work needed to keep my household going, there’s always a long list of things waiting to be sorted.  I’m also constrained by the business that I run, one that I ended up with by default (my ex-husband bought it when he no longer wanted to work in the City but then lost interest almost immediately), the one that I don’t find interesting but which pays the bills and which has allowed me to work around my children. But the fact remains that I need something to get my teeth into, something that will excite me, something that I can feel proud of, something that will make my boys feel proud of me and that will teach them that anything is possible. I also need something that will bring me into contact with more people as I feel my world shrinking; having no school run means no social interaction at the start and end of the day so I have many days when I don’t actually come face to face with another adult. I can feel my confidence ebbing away and find myself coming up with excuses not to try something new simply because I’m scared of failing.

Yesterday I had a work meeting in London. the motorway ground to a halt, traffic was heavy and it was raining which meant my journey took forty five minutes longer than it should have,the return journey was equally fraught. The meeting itself wasn’t particularly exciting but I enjoyed being able to put forward ideas (one of the few who had any), I enjoyed arguing my case, I enjoyed being in an office environment and playing with the grown ups. I returned home  feeling more positive than I had for a while and realised that I need to get a grip and carve out something new for myself right now. I can’t put it off any longer. Yesterday I felt like me for the first time in ages, I remembered how good I can be in meetings, I remembered how good I can be in effecting change, I remembered what it felt like to be someone other than ‘mummy’.

I’m not sure yet what exactly I will do; I never have a shortage of business ideas, what I normally face is a lack of funds to get started but in reality that is a problem faced by most people. If they can find ways round it then why can’t I? So my task for the rest of the month and next is to put down on paper a number of business ideas, cost them out, come up with a business plan and then launch whichever one is the easiest in terms of start up. Hopefully that will give me confidence, generate some funds and give me the necessary impetus to move forward more positively. 

All ideas are welcome!

Too busy!

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It seems ages since I even had a chance to look at this blog, let alone write anything. It’s been a chaotic few weeks, starting with my youngest contracting chickenpox so being off school, adjusting to having all five boys at home rather than three with the consequent rise in food preparation, food shopping and laundry, a constant stream of end of term events to prepare for and attend, my youngest fracturing his ankle in the last week of his term, not to mention all the general busy-ness that I face on a standard day. It all has been a bit much recently and I have felt like everything has been out of control but I think I am beginning to get on top of things once more.

So apologies for my total neglect of my blog and for my silence elsewhere but something had to slip.

Please don’t give up on me!

Kate x

St Swithun’s Day

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search Today is St Swithun’s Day, that all important day in July that will, as legend has it, determine our weather for the next forty days. Will it be a summer of long lazy days spent outside, frequent barbecues, gentle tanning and relaxation or will it be one of soggy picnics, wellies and umbrellas, and washed out fetes?


The legend goes thus:

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St Swithun’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain nae mare

St Swithun was the Bishop of Winchester during the ninth century. It is said that he requested that he be  buried outside, rather than inside Winchester Cathedral, so that his grave would be trodden on by passers-by and so that it would be graced by the raindrops falling off the eaves above. Legend has it that when the monks tried to move his body indoors some years later it rained so heavily for the next forty days that their efforts were thwarted and they gave up on the idea. Whatever the truth of the story the legend actually does have some scientific basis to it. The jet stream tends to settle into a pattern during the middle of July which then tends to remain reasonably steady right until the end of August. When the jet stream lies north of Britain then continental high pressure moves in whereas when it lies across or south of Britain then Arctic air and Atlantic weather systems come into force.

I’ve woken up this morning to the evidence of rainfall during the night but with the promise of a fine day ahead and a steady rise in temperatures. I’m not quite sure where this leaves us as far as the legend of St Swithun goes – forty days of mixed weather? I’m going to go with forty days of dry, sunny weather but as my children know only too well, my weather predictions tend to be completely wrong!


Birthday tragedies

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Today is my brother Christopher’s birthday. It is also the anniversary of our other brother’s death. Adrian, 3 years younger than Christopher, 5 years older than me, died suddenly and completely unexpectedly at the age of 20. It was the day our lives changed forever. 

Adrian was always a happy go lucky person. He was tall, strong, sporty, exuded charm and always fell on his feet. What he lacked in academic achievements he more than made up for in personality; he made the world a better place, his smile could (and frequently did) melt the hardest of hearts, he cared about others, was fiercely loyal and determined to live life to the full. He and I often fought like cat and dog but we also adored each other; he was so proud of his little sister and I knew he would always look after me. He was the one I always ran to if someone at school was mean to me, he was the one I’d tell if I’d done something wrong, he was the one I chatted to about life and the future. 

We had no warning that there was anything wrong, no warning that our lives would be torn apart. One minute everything was normal, the next things had changed forever. It later transpired that he had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia that had never caused any issues but which could have led to his death at any time. There was no chance to prepare ourselves, no chance to say goodbye, no chance to say a final ‘I love you’. Instead our lives were suddenly and cruelly plunged into darkness. Christopher’s birthday was no longer a family day of celebration but one of heart rending grief and shock. 

The next twelve months were horrible. Christopher returned to London and long hours of work and study which gave him no chance to grieve properly, my parents only managed to keep going by taking tranquillisers and sleeping tablets, I barely slept, found it impossible to talk about my brother at all and was totally weighed down by feeling responsible for everyone. The only way my parents could cope was by changing the way we did things: they cancelled our evening paper as Adrian always rushed to read it first, we no longer went on camping holidays because that’s what we’d done for our last few family holidays, we no longer went to our favourite picnic places, we no longer watched Match of the Day, we no longer opened presents on Christmas Day as Adrian had always loved Christmas and he and I would always creep downstairs early to start the unwrapping. I felt like I’d not only lost my beloved brother but also so many of the familiar features of my life.

But of course the biggest change was that we no longer made a big thing about birthdays and in particular we stopped celebrating Christopher’s birthday. I’m not sure that this started out as a deliberate thing but later it definitely became an unwritten rule. My parents would always try to visit Christopher a week or so before his birthday and give him his gift then. They would send a card a couple of days beforehand but that was it, the actual day they always spent focussing on Adrian  and taking flowers to the Cemetery. It wasn’t done in a really obvious hurtful way and Christopher and I both understood how much our parents were struggling to keep going and so neither of us challenged the changes that slowly eroded many of our family traditions. It was many years before he and I properly celebrated his birthday with drinks and a meal, all thanks to my ex-husband who suggested it. I will be eternally grateful to him for that as it made me realise just how much Christopher had suffered from not being able to mark his special day. He felt guilty that he was alive and Adrian wasn’t. He felt insignificant. I can understand totally how painful it was for my parents but at the same time I feel they were unfair. There is an entry in my mother’s diary for that year that shows how unhappy she was that we celebrated Christopher’s birthday. I think she felt that we had slighted Adrian’s memory but she was so wrong. We will never forget our brother, we will never stop missing him but we need to carry on living, we need to make the most of every moment and we need to celebrate one another’s birthdays, to give thanks for having a sibling on whom we can rely, to give thanks for having a sibling who can help us keep our memories. I find it so sad that Christopher felt unable to have a major birthday celebration until the year after our parents died and even then he needed so much reassurance that this was ok.

In the words of Christina Rossetti, “Better by far you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad”. Of course this doesn’t mean that we forget totally but sometimes we need to put our sadness in a little box and simply focus on the joy of the day.


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

So I wish my brother a Happy Birthday. He is the best brother anyone could hope for, an amazing Uncle and committed Godfather and he deserves to be happy. Today is his day, the special day that marks his entry into the world, the day when all his friends can give thanks for knowing him. It should be all about him and nothing else. We don’t need a specific day to remember those who are no longer with us, they are with us in our hearts every single day, but everyone needs one special day when they are the focus of attention and when we give thanks for life and a chance to participate in this wonderful world.



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imgresMy poor 11 year old has come down with chickenpox. It’s such unfortunate timing for him as he only has another two and a half weeks left at his current school before saying goodbye to many of his classmates and starting at secondary school in September. It’s also a very unfortunate illness for him in particular as he already suffers from acutely itchy skin from eczema and hay fever. But on a more positive note I don’t have the school run and I get to spend some lovely snuggly time with him; it’s a great excuse to forget about work too!

We haven’t had chickenpox in the family for 15 years. That time my second child had a mild case the week before the February half term and then very kindly passed it on to the rest of us including me who somehow, despite my mum’s concerted efforts, had refused to succumb to the virus as a child. So we had a housebound half term week: my 3 year old who was completely better and full of energy, my 5 year old who had been looking forward to a fun packed holiday from school, my 18 month old and me, six months pregnant with my fourth child. My husband was between jobs at the time but, true to form, seemed to remember various meetings he needed to set up which would involve him staying away from home. To be honest it was just as well as he was never terribly helpful at times of illness and was always a trifle (??) on the impatient side when it came to children crying or making the slightest fuss about anything. From starting off feeling as if we were going to have a miserable week we actually ended up having a lovely time together and it is a week that we often look back on fondly. Our chickenpox week also became known as the week we became part of Pontypandy, home of Fireman Sam. In between making cookies, playing with play dough, painting pictures, reading stories and having long baths to alleviate the itchiness, we watched episode after episode of Fireman Sam. We must have watched each episode several times over as I’m sure we only had one Fireman video but it didn’t matter as we needed to absorb every last detail so that we could then re-enact each episode ourselves. That week I became Bella Lasagne, the rather scatty Italian owner of Pontypandy’s cafe and the owner of Rosa the cat. I played the role to the full and ended up speaking in a broken Italian accent for the majority of the week. Even now 15 years later I still find myself becoming Bella if I need to cheer everyone up or distract people from meal time squabbles. I doubt if any of us will ever be able to watch an episode of Fireman Sam without thinking of that week, incredibly itchy, housebound and isolated but full of fun, laughter and jollity.

So I am going to view the next few days as a chance to do some fun things with my youngest child ahead of the school holidays. We can play in the garden, read our current book, do some crafts, bake and watch some films together. Hopefully he too will be able to look back on his chickenpox week with fond memories that will stay with him forever. Which character should I be this time?