Seeing red


When Emma said she was going to be on the news talking about Scarlet Fever I got over excited and started throwing in red colour chart phrases into our texts.

In short Joni had Scarlet Fever, they sat on the red sofa, I suggested a glass of claret and whilst I’m immensely proud of my friend she won’t be getting any red carpet treatment here! But I might will give a her a glass of pink fizz.

You can read about her day here

Making memories


On Thursday I drove to the Valleys to drop my girls off at Big Welsh’s parents so I could nip to Cardiff and see Charch my poorly friend. She was all cwtched up in her bed and she looked peaceful. I was glad I was able to hurtle into Wales armed with bundles of love, cheery messages from school friends and her friends around the world and was able to chat one more time about her love of power ballads; sharing one last memory with her.

After spending precious time with her and her family I went to Whitchurch to see another schoolfriend and then zoomed back up the A470 and went to sleep. Whilst we were sleeping Charch died, very peacefully, at 4.06am on Friday morning, surrounded by her family.

Numb. That’s how we all feel. We knew it was coming, we knew it wouldn’t be long, but it’s wrong, so wrong that a bright, talented and amazing friend has died aged 45.

Over the last 7 months, since she came home, her friends have kept her spirits up with visits, cards, flowers, cakes, books, slippers, balms, socks, photo albums and CDs. Those friends have also been the most amazing and supportive network for her mum and family, it’s bittersweet that we’ve mothered a mother turning up with freezer food and cake.

In those months we’ve been making memories. We’ve cried in private and laughed with Charch, we’ve enjoyed her mum’s hospitality, we’ve hogged the fireplace sofas at New House Hotel, baggsied the sofa at The Maltsters, she’s been taken out for trips and adventures, she was surprised with a visit to a Carol Service at our old school. We’ve laughed, cried, reminisced over school days, tried to think back to our twenties, we’ve relived our thirties and celebrated into our forties as well as covering new ground, refinding old friends, sharing precious moments and above all we’ve been making precious memories.

All the while Charch has been getting more frail and weak until she slipped away gracefully and very peacefully on Friday 11 April at 4.06am aged 45.

Never once did she ask anyone for anything, at no point did she demand anything from anyone, what she did do was say “come and see me if you want to but don’t feel you have to”, she also taught us how to accept her situation.

So yes it’s a sad post but we’ve been also been memory making.

She’s brought a lot of people together again, we’ve had some brilliant weekends, I’ve spent more time in Wales than the preceding 24 years, some people who have fallen out have let bygones be bygones. Charch made this happen.

On the way home I went to Brecon to see my friend Becca in her shop and I treated myself to a bracelet. I couldn’t resist it. The wording is both apt and true.

Charch, may you rest in peace. You’ve been a great friend, you’ve been amazing and to quote a power ballad you’re the inspiration!


I’m getting married


19 years ago I uttered those words after Big Welsh proposed  and as soon as they were out of my mouth it seemed that everyone had an opinion as to what would be the best wedding ever.  I think everyone wanted us to have things at our wedding that they didn’t have at theirs!  We wanted a very small and simple wedding, with an evening reception the next day and suggested a Friday in May which prompted my paternal Grandmother to say marry in May rue the day.  I suppose having been together for 7 years she wasn’t able to say marry in haste repent at leisure!  Well she did have a a point as May was a very busy month what with Big Welsh’s birthday, 2 Bank Holidays and a half term meaning my pageboys wouldn’t be around.

We went for June.  A FridayDaring.  Well we had to get married on Friday as opposed to Saturday because the ushers wouldn’t be there, the majority of guests wouldn’t either and more importantly neither would my brother and as he was giving me away it was rather important it was on a Friday.  My brother had introduced me to Big Welsh at the cricket club 7 years before and if there were no players on the Saturday then there’d be no game and subsequently there’d be a riot and that’s just not cricket!

My Godmother, Judy, said she would make my dress for me and as I had no idea what I wanted but I had a very good idea of what I don’t want she suggested we went to see Beryl a pattern cutter in Romsey.  Beryl took one look at me and said “simple, certainly not white, green trim and just brushing the floor”.  I hoped she meant my dress was to be simple and I wasn’t.  I didn’t dare question her as she wrapped a cream piece of material around me in a flourish, with her tape measure moving around me magically, pins in her mouth and gathering the material land tutting, smiling and repining! I was gobsmacked that this lady who I had never met before could decide what I wanted without me saying anything!  I had tried on a big hooped, white, frothy thing and looked odd!  The pageboys (aged 5 and 7) were dressed in green checked shirt, beige shorts, beige socks and green sandals.  Judy had piped their outfits with the same green that she had piped my dress in and we all had the same green buttons.  They looked gorgeous!  The bridesmaids had green dresses that weren’t unlike mine and they too looked gorgeous.  Big Welsh was in tails with a green tie.  He looked dashing, I looked short apparently!

So, we got married on a Friday in June.  A friend of my mother’s drove us to the Churchin his green Jag .  We had the hymns and music that we wanted (Dambusters, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Bread of Heaven, Jerusalem), I amazed everyone by saying obey, my brother was delighted to give me away and every one of the 50 guests looked fabulous.  We then drove back to my childhood home for canapés and a buffet in the hottest marquee known to man as the temperatures reached 30 degrees.

After the speeches, I got changed into my going away outfit, handed my bouquet to my grandmother for her to lay on my father’s grave and we got back in the green jag and drove off to Cliveden where we watched the most amazing storm and had an idyllic evening.

The following day we went back to Mum’s and got ready for a casual evening reception where everyone let their hair down and we partied early into the next day, before spending the night at Cantley.  Just as well we didn’t have any plans on the Sunday as we were exhausted and wanted to get back to our own home, open our presents and just relax!

Oh but we did as Mum had invited half the village, two thirds of the next village and one tenth of a small Outer Hebrides island.  Back on went my going away outfit and back to Mum’s!

That night we eventually got home and just flopped, exhausted after a weekend of getting married!  The following day we set off for Somerset for our wind down honeymoon week at Pennard Hill Farm, taking with us fizz left over from the wedding and stinking colds.

Our wedding gift to each other was a cold, that’s certainly not a gift to be sneezed at!

Mother’s Day – Firstborn



Until my girls were born I was always bottom management in my immediate family tree, but it meant that I was the one making cards and gifts for mum, my grandmothers and my Godmothers.  I’d always say happy birthday to people on Mothering Sunday and when I met Big Welsh I assumed responsibility for his mum too!

However this all changed when our first born arrived.  That gorgeous girl who arrived nearly 16 years ago on her due date made us parents (and tired to boot).  I wont lie and suggest it was easy because it wasn’t.  I naively thought that motherhood would be as easy as looking after other people’s children.  How wrong was I?  But unlike other people’s children that you hand back at the end of the day there was no handing back and leaving my post, being her mum I was the one who put her baby into her cot, who got up with her in the night, who muddled through disillusioned with the new mother mafia and who handed her over, grudgingly, to her daddy when I was too tired to carry on.

When she started nursery we were treated to handmade gifts and cards, pictures made of pasta and items that were treasures that had to have a place on the shelf.  Now as we approach her 16th birthday the handmade gifts and cards aren’t as regular as they were, but the texts and emails always make me smile.  They normally ask me to do something for her or remind me to do something for her or ask for a lift home because her bag is too heavy, her legs are too tired or she has too much homework??!!!

Nearly 16 years ago I became a mum to my firstborn and since then I have experienced every known emotion and maternal feeling, but the strongest has to be love.  When I walk into her room I think I how much I love tidying up after her, when she makes an impromptu cup of tea I think she must love me heaps and when she leaves her laundry at the washing machine I feel she’s telling me that she loves the way I was her clothes for her.

Loops, you made me a mum, when the sisters arrived you were helpful and kind, when you want a chat I’ll listen and sometimes sing along, I love you more than I can say.



Mother’s Day – Earth Mother


That funny girl who is wise beyond her years, short for her age and has THE most perfect comedy timing was in the garden for most of the day yesterday.

After lunch she was watching butterflies, throwing the ball for the dog and walking barefoot in the border taking it in turns to balance on the sleepers and dig for moles. She’d worn shoes, shoes and socks, socks or has been barefoot. If the truth be told she’d also been wearing a retro Liverpool shirt with the no 7 on the back and a pair of Welsh rugby shorts. The football shirt isn’t hers and looked like a dress. It did look quite sweet with little grazed knees and grubby legs poking out underneath!

When Big Welsh came back from his cycle she helped him fix the mower, she happily piled earth onto uneven parts of the lawn, she cleared the grass away from the paths and borders with her bare hands and she washed her green pudgy hands before settling down to watch Shrek.

She’s the child that’s most at home with nature, whose mind takes in every fact and she retains trivia for a later date. She’s my earthy girl does that make me an earth mother? Together we potter in the garden and she marvels at butterflies, worms and ladybirds with me.

Thank you Laree for being the happy and dappy smiling girl, who is as happy in the garden as she is sipping a cup of tea at Lotte’s, reading on the lawn or soaking and swimming in the bath.



Mother’s Day – Proud Mama


I took the girls to  football yesterday and quite unlike me I stayed and quite unlike Mook she didn’t ask me to go. Some of the other mums turned up and as the coach was having difficulty parking Jane & I decided to give them a pep talk!!

We suggested they pulled their socks up, jogged on the spot, stopped arsing around and played like a together team who wanted to play AND win. When the coach and some of the blokes turned up we retreated to the sideline and poured a coffee. It’s hardwork this caretaker manager business.

The game started and then a penalty happened so Mook took it.  I couldn’t look.  As her foot kicked the ball my heart was in my mouth and as the ball went to the back of the net I was that woman, oh yes I was that mother who cheered loudly and then couldn’t speak because I was sobbing.

Mook then came off with a bleeding finger, thankfully (for the team) it was only a chipped nail (dramatic) and she was able to go back once plastered up (phew, hadn’t planned on waiting rooms of any sort) but she was slower than she was and her face had that pained expression. She kept rubbing her head and mouthed she had a headache. That set me off again as she had concussion less than 6 months ago and I was naturally worried. She carried on playing, still with pained expression and broken nail (such a trooper).


mook headache

Romy was in goal and let in 2 goals. I sobbed for her too as Fiona was away, Romes was staying with us and I was in loco parentis.


At half time the coach said Romy was out of goal and she had to score 2 goals. No pressure. Fair play to Romes she did score a goal, then the other team did making it 2-3, Lauren scored and Mook scored another one making the final score 4-3.

At one point I heard a number of the opposition say mark no 7, I obviously had to look and see who no 7 was and was surprised to see it was Mook. No 7 is also my niece’s number, she plays in the U16s for another team and who, according to my old Sgt, is a more than decent player and when his daughter’s team was playing her team they all agreed to mark no 7 as they’d heard about her (proud Aunty) they were therefore thrilled when my niece didn’t play and they won.

But I digress.

Each and everyone one of those girls played a blinding match and whilst I haven’t a clue about off side, formation, penalty boxes and the etiquette of throwing the ball back I could see they played a blinding bit of football.

Big thanks must go to Helen Jolliffe for her amazing photos, her lens caught the determination, skill and bounciness of this team who haven’t had many wins but who have won their last 2 matches.  Do take a look at her website if you are looking for any photography.

To Dave the coach, Warren, Steve and Paul who ran up and down and shouted technical terms thank you, it saved us running and shouting!!  To Jane, Karen and Di who oohed and ahhed with me and poured coffee!

But above all to Mook, my beautiful middle daughter (and her brilliant team) thank you for making me so proud and thank you for playing a game that was fast, furious, dynamic and memorable.


Now who else needs a pep talk?





Oh you pretty things


You pretty things, don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane

I recently popped back to my old school and caught up with my cookery teacher and though I’d left school *cough* 29 years ago and I was now an adult with children, I could drive and buy wine but I still felt a teeny bit like a teenager. In my day Miss Tutcher was Miss Tutcher, nowadays she’s called Kim by the boys in her house. Kim? I’m an adult now and I couldn’t bring myself to call her Kim!

We chatted about everyone in my year, giggled over some of our antics, discussed the teachers who seemed archaic in the 80s (and I was gobsmacked to know that they weren’t really in their 80s in the 80s despite seeming to be) and what life was like now we’re older and role models to our children. We reminisced about my O level spinach cookery balls up, we remembered Rachel who tragically and suddenly died a few years back and we marvelled at how Charch has given us so much hope despite facing the final stages of her life.

Miss Tutcher (Kim) asked after my girls and I said “oh you know 2 of them are teenagers and it’s an interesting phase!!” I also said that it doesn’t help when people ask what I was like at that age. She looked at me and said (in that form tutor way) “so what do you think you were like at that age?”.

Do you know, no-one has ever asked what I was like at that age so I’ve never given it a second thought but I answered “oh you know as a teenager I was cocky, unsure, cool, fragile, rebellious, clueless, loyal, strong, determined, weak, tiring, boisterous, trendy, loved up, lazy, deaf, verbal, vocal, opinionated, loving, arrogant” – well you get the picture!! She looked at me and said “are you describing yourself or teenagers in general?”.

Actually verbalising how I thought of myself as a teenager (albeit under pressure in the teacher’s office) made me realise that how teenagers are these days really is no different to how we were in the 80s.

To my darling girls I thank you on a daily basis for being my gorgeous girls, I can forgive you your teenage years because they’ll be over before you know and when you’re older you’ll look back on your teenage years whilst advising your teenagers that what they’re doing is what everyone of that age has done.

Girls, thank you. I love you all. I do. I really really do. XXX .