Funeral

A couple of months ago I went to the funeral of a family friend.  A truly lovely man who’d been an ‘Uncle’ to me growing up – you know, not actually a blood relation, but I’m of the era when friends of your parents were called Auntie and Uncle.

They lived in Solihull (posh!) and had a stream running through the back of their garden (super posh!) – and I remember many a happy sunny afternoon creating dams to block it – or finding fish and other wildlife.

A few years ago I had bumped into this ‘Uncle’ at  a mutual friend’s house – and he had been incredulous that little old me was driving a Lexus 4×4 (it was a hybrid and cool at the time!) consequently I quite enjoyed turning up to his funeral in my Porsche 911 (even if it was a bit of a squash in the car park)  – he would have been suitably impressed!

I arrived for the service with my parents and one of my Mum’s sisters and her husband.  I was accused of being their other sister!!  Now admittedly that Auntie is 9 years older than me – but about 5 stone lighter – so I took it as a massive compliment!! I was also slightly nervous about what to wear – as the Auntie (blood relative this time!) in attendance is a colour consultant – but thankfully I passed the test as she told me how nice I looked – phew!

There are loads of old family friends at the funeral too (old friends in both senses of the word!)  One family we’d actually stayed with when we were between houses when I was a child.  One of their sons was a few years older than me (can I point out I was 2 at the time) and I was completely in awe of him (apparently – I don’t remember at all!)  Anyway – whilst we were staying at their house I was suffering with awful constipation (can I reiterate I was 2 – although still potentially TMI!) and therefore spent a lot of time sat on the toilet.  This time was not wasted (have you met my mother?!) and so I learned my letters of the alphabet from objects to hand.  Therefore the V-I-M from the household cleaner kept in the bathroom.  The M was for Mark – who was the son in question (and also, coincidentally, now my husband’s name!!) My father must have recounted this anecdote about ONE MILLION times during the funeral (not the actual service – that would have been disrespectful – but before and after to other attendees!!) .  The Mark in question was present – and is now a senior consultant at a local hospital and one of the UK’s leading expert on certain diseases – yep, wasn’t embarrassing at all!

But whilst we’re talking about embarrassing – a couple of times we were asked to move through to the buffet – to which my Mum (remember, I’m a 43 year old grown up) told people that I wouldn’t want to eat much as I was low carbing as I was trying to lose weight!! Thankfully the spread was prolific (M&S I think) and the cheese options were fabulous so my low carbing self was catered for.  I eschewed the amazing cakes too #polisheshalo

The service itself was so moving – he was really a loved man by his family – right down to Great Grandkids – but also friends too.  The singing was rousing (my Dad leading the harmonies – he’s legendary!) and emotional. So lovely to celebrate the life of a truly gentle man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a Book Review: The Mystery of the Magic Key

This is not some Biff, Chip and Kipper book about their magic key – but it is a story about a magic key!

The husband’s car has a magic key – which as long as it’s in proximity to the car allows you to unlock it and start the engine without actually pressing a button on it / putting it in the ignition.  This is incredibly useful if you’re laden down with shopping and / or small children, when you can just wave your handbag in the vicinity of the car to get the door to open, fling it on to the passenger seat whilst you strap everyone in, and then start the car without having to rifle through the entire contents of the aforementioned handbag.

Land Rover

When the boys arrived home this evening, the husband couldn’t get the car to lock – so he suspected the key had been left in the car.  Then, he tried to start the car and it worked – which meant the key had to be nearby.

There then preceded a one hour strip down of the car.  Every nook and cranny was searched.  Seats moved backwards and forwards and up and down – but still no luck.

We’d just about decided that he’d have to leave it blocked in by another vehicle tonight, and then drive it to a dealership tomorrow to get the key blocked, and new ones made, which:

a) would have cost hundreds of pounds and
b) probably couldn’t have happened for weeks based on the usual availability as Land Rover dealerships in the West Midlands!!

I decided on one last search of the driver’s seat – figuring it the most likely place for it to be – and I found it!

Wedged in the rear housing of the runner that the driver’s seat sits on.  Completely not visible – I’d just decided to ram my fingers into every gap I could find!!!  It took a bit of wiggling by a 6 year old with smaller hands than me – but we extracted it!  Phew!

 

 

Bad throat?!

I posted this on Facebook the other day – but realised it probably should be saved on my blog so it’s recorded properly in case Facebook crashes / starts charging etc etc!!

I was in the doctors waiting room when my phone rang.  I could see it was my Dad, so I thought it might be important:

Me, whispering “hello?”
Dad “Are you ok?”
Me “I’m at the doctors”
Dad “I know I saw on Facebook, is it a bad throat?”
Me “No, I’m whispering so I don’t sound like an idiot in the waiting room”

 

 

 

Mobile Phone Drama Queen……

It’s the 13 year old that has chosen Drama GCSE as one of her options – but I reckon I could  give her a good run for her money………

Whilst we were enduring enjoying Centerparcs last week, I received a missed call one afternoon.  The phone reception at Longleat was pretty patchy – and I didn’t have enough reception to listen to the message.  I tried to call L back, but it went straight to her voicemail.

Now I’ve known L since she was born – she and my sister are really good friends, and her elder sister R is one of my best friends.  However, we don’t often catch up – and to get a phonecall from her is a little out of the ordinary.

When I couldn’t get her – I texted her to say that the phone reception was rubbish, so to text or Facebook if it was urgent.

But of course then my mind is in overdrive!  I convince myself that something shocking has happened.

I texted R to see if she might know what the matter was (worried that it might be her or her family that the call is about) and no answer.  Which clearly makes it worse (turns out she was at book club – but why let facts get in the way of a good panic!?!)

I then call my parents, as both families have been friends forever, but they don’t have a clue either. (Although today my Dad rushed up to L at church to find out what it was – I definitely get my drama queen-ness from him rather than Mum!!)

In the meantime I get a text back from L saying not to worry and she would catch up with me this weekend – which she did this evening.

Turns out she wondered if we still had our bouncy castle and if they could borrow it.  Crisis definitely over!

It did make me think, though, how being permanently connectable can actually cause issues – years ago the message would have waited until I got home and been dealt with then without over dramatisation in the middle of a forest!

Similar happened a few weeks ago, my 11 year old son had to get the train home after a school football match and it was much later than he normally would – so his sister and friends were long gone. Plus he couldn’t get to our local station at that time, and had to get off at one a few miles away – so it wasn’t his normal route.  To compound stress levels, his mobile phone had run out of power.  I sat at the station waiting to see him come off ridiculously stressed as to what might have happened to him, and how I couldn’t get in touch with him if he didn’t get off the train – but he did, and all was well.  It made me think that my parents had to parent without mobile phones and seemed to cope just fine!

I love my phone – and would be lost without it – but sometimes, they do make me even more of a drama queen than normal………………

 

 

 

 

Not Just a Book Review: There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

I have been a huge fan of Emily McDowell’s empathy cards over recent years – and have, unfortunately, had cause to send them to a number of friends who’ve been going through tough times.  I then saw that Emily had written a book – along with her friend Kelsey Crowe – the title being pretty self explanatory!

there-is-no-good-card-for-this

I read the Amazon blurb and thought I’d pre order it for my Kindle some months ago.

“The creator of the viral hit “Empathy Cards” teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.

When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell’s immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular “Empathy Bootcamps” that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.”

I would like to think that I’m pretty empathetic anyway.  My husband would probably say you can forget the ’em’ with the amount I get upset about the situations friends and relatives find themselves in.  But I have sent cards (Ms McDowell’s, obviously!)  / made meals (in fact my sausage casserole – or rather one of the sausage casseroles from this cookbook – is now known as the village ‘cancer casserole’) / helped  out with childcare and other jobs – but still, it’s so hard to know what to say and do when family / friends / acquaintances are going through a tough time.

Then between pre ordering this, and it arriving on my Kindle, my Aunt and one of my best friends were diagnosed with cancer.  Rubbish.  So the book had even more resonance when I started to read it.

Now I should hold my hands up at this point and make a confession – the first chapter has quite a lot of activities to do that seem quite ‘American’ and in true British style (and because I was reading it in bed without a pen and paper and burning materials to hand) I kind of skipped over the activities (although read it thoroughly).  Maybe I should head back to them at some point………

A good chunk of it was about being a good listener – and it really made me stop and think.  I do listen – but I’m often also over processing at the same time and thinking about what I should respond.  I’m definitely planning for more silences in the future (in a good way!)

Another thing that resonated with me was about the Empathy Menu.  Saying that there are loads of different roles that you can fulfill when helping someone through a crisis – and you don’t have to personally do all of them.  I am a control freak, who likes to try and be all things to all things people.  I don’t need to be.  And I need to ‘put my own oxygen mask on first’.  Definite learning points for Libby!  It also reminded me of the empathy card I gave to my friend last week:

just-so-you-know

As she got to the bit that said ‘cleaning your place’ she laughed out loud and pointed out that she was the one with breast cancer, and I didn’t need to have a personality transplant – but then when she opened it I’d added the caveat inside that I’d send a cleaner round not do it myself!! #thethoughtthatcounts

Another thing that resonated was offering to help people.  As the book pointed out a generic ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do’ whilst great in principle – is often not the most helpful thing. People going through a crisis don’t need to be worrying about what you could do for them.  You just need to do something.  I recall a friend whose son died last year saying exactly that – her brain was too full of what her child was going through to worry who could make what meal etc.  And when I had a much less significant crisis last summer when my husband hurt his thumb lots of people said ‘let us know if there’s anything we can do?’ – but she just said ‘I’m coming round now to tidy up for you’ and took charge, with my sister, of clearing up the empties (there were a lot!) and the general state of the house whilst I was at the hospital with my husband in surgery.

The book says it takes a whole village to care.  I am so pleased that the village we live in is so caring.  It seems to have had a run of crises over recent years – but every time, we villagers strap on our big girl pants and help each other out.  It makes me proud to call this little part of Worcestershire home.

I would recommend this book to anyone  – in fact I’d quite like to email the link to certain people, but they may not take it as it’s intended (or they may take it as intended and be offended!) – but most definitely worth a read.

Let’s just hope we don’t have too many more situations to apply it to in 2017……………

 

 

 

 

Tempted – and then electrocuted….

I was going to blog about this ‘incident’ and then when I saw the The Daily Blog Post prompt was ‘tempted‘ – it seemed perfectly apt!

To avoid temptation, the husband and I have taken all of our leftover Christmas foodstuffs in to the office – biscuits, chocolates, cakes etc – and all are placed on a filing cabinet in the large shared office for anyone who’s passing and needs a sugar fix.

waitrose-biscuit-selection

This morning I had resisted temptation impeccably – but then at about 11.30am I thought ‘sod it’ and went to grab a biscuit – but in doing so got an ELECTRIC SHOCK from the top of the filing cabinet!!  It was as if the cabinet itself was being my willpower (or it could have been my new cheap New Look shoes on the carpet tiles) but anyway – I didn’t have a biscuit!!

 

Book Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missing-presumed

“A MISSING GIRL
Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

A DESPERATE FAMILY
Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

A DETECTIVE AT BREAKING POINT
The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation?”

I love a good thriller – and I loved this book! (Before knowing it was a Richard and Judy  bookclub book, but I still liked it!!)

It’s a crime drama – in a TV Silent Witness etc style – where the crime is the central piece, but you get to know the police involved and the family of the victim really well.

I really liked all of the characters (apart from maybe the victim) and felt their characters were really well fleshed out.

It twists and turns and keeps you interested throughout.

I felt the police protocol / investigation was true to life (in the fact that it wasn’t all exciting – it had moments of complete dullness) but I also liked the way that there were funny interludes (internet dating, kid stuff) that lightened the mood / made everything more interesting!!

I often don’t read the ‘interview with the author’ at the end of a book – but did on this occasion (possibly because I had it as a hard copy not just as a download) and I am so pleased  I did – firstly because it was interesting hearing from the author – and secondly because I found out there was a sequel which I am super chuffed about!!  This book concluded well as a stand alone – but I LOVE finding out what happens to characters in the future of books I’ve really enjoyed.

I also think I will hunt out Susie Steiner’s back catalogue as it was written so well.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Of Marrigeagable Age by Sharon Maas

 

of-marriageable-age

“A spellbinding story of forbidden love. Three continents, three decades, three very disparate lives:
Savitri, intuitive and charismatic, grows up among the servants of a pre-war English household in Madras. But the traditional customs of her Brahmin family clash against English upper-class prejudice, threatening her love for the privileged son of the house.
Nataraj, raised as the son of an idealistic doctor in rural South India, finds life in London heady, with girls and grass easily available… until he is summoned back home to face raw reality.
Saroj, her fire hidden by outward reserve, comes of age in Guyana, South America. When her strict, orthodox Hindu father goes one step too far she finally rebels against him… and even against her gentle, apparently docile Ma.
But Ma harbours a deep secret… one that binds these three so disparate lives and hurtles them towards a truth that could destroy their world.”

I read a previous book by Sharon Maas last year and really enjoyed it, and downloaded this not long afterwards – but it has sat on my Kindle since then, and I finally started reading it recently.

As with the Small Fortune of Dorothea Q, the previous book I’d read by this author, it’s set across multiple time periods and locations. Having friends of Indian and Guyanese heritage this really appealed – especially learning about some of the massive racial tensions there were in Guyana between different factions and religions.

It was evident early on that there were to be connections between the 3 different stories that were being told – but right until the end of the book these don’t become totally clear – and it really kept me intrigued.  I kept thinking I was so clever I had it all sussed, for there to be another twist or turn.

I enjoyed the book both as a stand alone story book of family life, love, career and choices – but also I found that I enjoyed being educated about different cultures, time periods and experiences.  It was beautifully written really evoking the different settings geographically.  India has long been on our ‘to visit’ list, and I might just have to add Guyana to that list now too!

 

 

Being Lady Grantham…….

I have not become titled and moved to Lincolnshire – and neither have I found myself in an episode of Downton – however, in a friend’s new blog I am referred to as Lady Grantham!

cora-countess-of-grantham

My favourite Lady Grantham quote is:

“No one ever tells you about raising daughters. You think it’ll be like Little Women, and instead they’re at each others’ throats.”

And whilst being Lady Cora Grantham would be fun, I think we’d all prefer to channel the dowager countess and be Lady Violet Grantham – she had all the best lines for a start!

“Isobel: “How you hate to be wrong.”
Violet: “I wouldn’t know, I’m not familiar with the sensation.””

Anyway – Downton aside – here is the blog from our very own Mrs Patmore – entitled ‘Being Mrs Patmore‘ (hence my hilarious title to this blog post – obvs!)

I have gushed about our Mrs Patmore before on here – and continue to do so frequently in real life.  So go and take a look at her blog – and be jealous of all of the lovely food we have to eat each day.  (And this week she even made the cakes for the kids to take in for Macmillan coffee mornings at each of their schools #winning)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbs up?!

I started this blog as a way to keep a permanent record of family life for the Prices.  I overshare frequently on Facebook, but I wanted something a bit more structured and formal and forever.  However family life often gets in the way – and whilst I seem to manage to review the books I’ve read – other things pass by without being permanently recorded.  One such thing was the husband’s accident in July.

It was our middle daughter’s 6th birthday party – we’d had a very successful visit from the ‘Exotic Zoo‘ with a variety of pets, which the children and the grown ups (especially Mrs C as you can see from the photo!) really enjoyed.

As the kids were having fun, quite a few people had stayed behind.  Mr Price was pouring a glass of wine and someone bumped his arm.  In a totally freak way, the bottle smashed the glass and the glass cut his hand.  Thankfully one of the class Mums is a doctor, she had a look and said he had to go to hospital (she gave his suggestion of sticking it together with super glue short shrift!)  Now most of us had been steadily drinking all afternoon (I do find that makes a children’s party far more bearable) and so only one person in the entire party could drive – so she very kindly took him off to A&E for a few stitches.

A&E on a Saturday night is always busy – but they amused themselves sending us photographs.

Now Mr P had ordered a new chimnea for the garden (which had been put together that afternoon) and he was VERY EXCITED about it – but when he was still not back a few hours later, some of the other Dads decided to give it its inaugural lighting.  Sending photos of this to the hospital did not go down well…….#chimneavirginitybroken

Chimnea

It was getting close to midnight – and our wonderful emergency responder friend needed to get back to her own family – so she left Mr P at the hospital, I sent all of my kids (and thankfully my sister, brother in law and their kids) to bed here, and hopped in a cab to the hospital.  I have to say the husband did get some funny looks when he’d swapped the brunette who’d sat with him for hours for a blonde replacement after midnight!!

When he was eventually seen – 8 hours after arriving – by a doctor they were concerned that both tendons in his thumb were severed – so slightly more serious than a cut needing a stitch or two…..  He was kept in ready for an op the next day, and I was sent home by Mr P to tell the children what had happened.

I arrived back at 4am and the house looked like some kind of bomb had gone off in the back garden and kitchen – and the event shelter was outside in the front garden still.  I found my sister in bed with my 4 year old who refuses to sleep on her own (above and beyond the usual call of Auntie duties!) and settled down for a few hours sleep.  I then fully briefed the kids and headed back to the hospital – running Race for Life, which had been the plan for that day, now cancelled.

When I arrived at the hospital the husband was pretty out of it on painkillers and on a drip and all ready for surgery which happened later that day (thankfully I’d thought to take the new 6 year old’s thank you letters to the hospital with me so my time wasn’t completely wasted #efficiency!)  I left him in the hospital over night (at least now he knew how to work the bed and call button – no one had shown him when he’d been moved to a ward at 5am, and having never been in hospital before he didn’t have a clue!)

Whilst I’d been at the hospital my wonderful friends in the village had been and helped my sister sort out the house and garden (and loaded up recycling bins across the area with the empties!) and my sister and brother in law had done a sterling job with the kids and handed over to my parents mid afternoon.

The following morning I did the school / nursery runs and headed back to the hospital.  By this point Mr P (the youngest on the ward by about 3 decades) had made great mates with his roomies and they were all having a bit of banter!  Apparently John by the window hadn’t stayed up past 10pm in years, and Arthur asked Mr P if he had any of those ‘blue movies’ on his phone!!  What Mr P hadn’t shared with them was the fact that he’d woken up in the morning and thought he’d pooed himself!  Turned out it was actually a couple of Minstrels that he’d dropped and they’d melted on the sheets……

We escaped later that day (having been told he could leave at 9.30am it was 4pm before he finally escaped – thank goodness for lovely friends collecting the kids from school for us again!) and there in followed many weeks of hand therapy / physio / consultant appointments which we are still in the midst of.

The surgeon had initially wanted to sign him off for 6 weeks – but with your own business that just doesn’t really work – and the fact that we were on holiday for a chunk of that time should have helped.  Although perhaps the water rides and jet skiing weren’t the best call…….

atlantis

The strap marks from the supports look hilarious – and he’s claimed a number of times that they’re from his tennis sweatbands……

And when the OT suggested he got a finger massager I immediately headed over to Amazon to search – and boy did I get some interesting suggestions!!

After weeks of OT work, physio and general exercises he is definitely on the mend.  He is unlikely to ever get full movement back – but the work of the wonderful NHS staff means at least he still has his thumb attached.

And it’s plastic glasses for parties henceforth!