It’s my favourite day. Sunday for me is the start of the weekend. It’s a lazy day in which I rest before the onslaught of a busy week. As I was lying in The jacuzzi I realised that I was thinking about what I was going to do next and it dawned on me that I do that a lot. I am always living in the next task, instead of being in the current moment. There is always a lot to do, but why waste time on the future when I could be enjoying such a wonderful treat now. So I stopped. I looked around me. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, the Palm trees looked amazing against the sky, the water was warm and I was sharing precious time with my husband. Today I spent longer in the jacuzzi than I have since the summer, because I decided I didn’t need to rush to do something else. Result… More contentment.

Since getting out and drying off, I have still done everything I set my mind to do today. So nothing lost and everything gained.

My husband’s new publicity poster is photoshopped and completed. I have ironed sheets and put them on our bed. Nothing nicer than clean sheets, I have typed up another chapter of my book and now I am blogging while my husband cooks dinner. We have rung both Mums and caught up with their news so all is well with the world.

Today I was struck by a new idea for a book, so now I have 4 in my head. I can’t write fast enough, but I am very happy to be back writing. There is a wonderful release in putting words together. It allows me to be creative and I can express any emotion I am feeling without making it about me. The scary thing is, the more I write, the more ideas I have. I just hope that I am a good enough writer so people want to read more. That’s going to be the crux of the matter.

Watch this space…..

Life’s rich tapestry

Once again, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  It seems I have to be in the right place to write.  When life becomes too busy or difficult, it seems that I cannot put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  I am now trying to remember why I started to write a blog and to reinstate the feelings that writing gave me.  I felt that this year was going to be the year for upward movement, but here I am at the beginning of February and nothing has progressed.  In order not to loose momentum, I am forcing myself to type up my book and edit where I think it needs it.  I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that if I wrote my book on my iPad, I could take it everywhere with me and add to it as I pleased.  The fun part about that decision is that I was writing it in a format that cannot be transferred to word on my laptop, hence, re typing the last 15 chapters. Luckily, I am a fast typer so it shouldn’t take too long.  Whilst doing this though, the story is not progressing and that makes me a little frustrated.

I have come to the conclusion that the reason I cannot find time to write, is there is not enough time in the day.  Even over the Christmas period when I had time off, the days still flew past with nothing achieved apart from cooking, cleaning and the laundry, so I am going to have a word with him upstairs and ask him to add a few hours. Do you think it will work?

So here I am again, making a deal with myself to write every day.  I may not be on a blog, but this or my book is going to be an added priority.  Surprising how cathartic just writing these few words has already been.

I must not loose my connection to myself.  I must follow my dream of finishing this book and getting it published.  The sequel is all in my head waiting to be let out.  I need to push forward and not let anything get in my way.  Is that easier said than done, I wonder?

 

Autumn memory

My little dog runs ahead of me as always.  She stops and looks back to see where I am, waits a while until I catch up with her and then off she trots again.  Her nose is to the ground as she scents for anything interesting and there is so many wonderful smells in a wood, in the autumn.

Again she stops and looks at me with her little Black and Tan face, Her white body finished off with a cropped brown tail.  Her tail was cropped as a puppy, before she ever came to me and as was the original fashion for a Jack Russell.  It was the perfect indicator for how she was feeling.

As with all dogs, she would drop it down if she was unhappy but it would not reach between her legs as it was too short.  When I first met my husband, he had a boat on the Norfolk broads and we always took her with us.  At first, she was unsure and her tail was as down as she could get it.  Then she discovered she could walk right around the boat using the gunnels and her tail raised a little until it was stuck out in line with her back.  Finally she realised that when we were cruising along, she could run round and round, bark at the ducks and swans, and become the mascot of the boat, as people looked, pointed, giggled at her and gave her lots of fuss when we moored up.  She loved the boat and her tail raised straight up in the air as soon as we got on it.

For all that she loves the boat, she hates water and will do anything to avoid it.  Our favourite time is our walks on land.  So here we are, on a cold, sunny autumn day.  I kick my way through coloured fallen leaves and she sniffs out the squirrels and rabbits that are prolific here.  Most of the trees are bare now  and looking at the ground, I see many forms of fungus.  There are toadstools as well as huge field mushrooms growing in and on the tree humus. It’s a perfect place for them.  I am also genuinely delighted to see a fairy ring.

Ok, I know I am a little old to believe in such things, but it really looks like one.  There, just over there, is a group of toadstools with the red caps and white spots, just like in all the fairy tale illustrations I have seen.  I don’t need a great imagination to conjor up fairies and pixies sitting atop each stool and talking about whatever it is that they talk about.

I stop for a while and have a closer look until Penny runs back and gives me a nudge.  I can almost hear her thoughts.  “Will you hurry up.  There is too much to sniff out and we can’t hang around here.”  So I follow and she runs off again, always stopping and looking back to see where I am.  Never going out of sight, no matter what wonder lay ahead.  She never leaves me.  We can walk for miles and she never tires, unlike me.  She doesn’t care if it’s hot or cold, along as it’s not raining.  She doesn’t run away to chase rabbits, to sniff them is enough.  Her need is to stay close to me.  She is my loyal little friend, my protector and companion.  Her love is honest, unconditional and delightful.

When it’s time to leave, I call her.  She stops and looks at me.  She turns back wanting to pursue her trail but I turn and walk the other way.  There is no need to worry as within seconds she bounds past me, ready to lead the way again.  The pattern continues.  Run ahead a while, stop, look back, wait for me, then run on, until we reach the car.

It’s nothing spectacular, just friendship, Autumn and a walk, but it’s a lovely memory of a lovely time.

 

Dad’s Immeasurable loss

The day my Dad died changed my life immeasurably without anything changing.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I will try and explain.

I moved to the south of England when I was just 18 and left my family in a remote part of the North.  There I met my first husband, married, divorced, brought up two children, married again and then moved abroad.  At first, money being the issue, it was difficult to keep returning and sometimes a couple of years would go past before I could make the journey to see my parents.

When my marriage broke up, I was on my own.  Living in a different area with two small children made me more reliant on friends than family.  I did see a little more of them as they would come down to London on occasion to see my sister and Dad loved going to the proms.

Eventually money became no object and I would make the journey north as often as I  could, with the restraints of school timetables and work commitments.

Over the years,  our best form of communication, was the telephone.  Dad was a mine of information and if any of us kids needed an answer or advice, we would pick up the phone and dial his number.  I always had a need to tell him everything good, but never mentioned anything I thought could hurt our relationship.  If there was any possibility that I thought he would disapprove, it was never spoken about.  I needed him to be proud of me.

He was not a demonstrative man and would never openly say that he loved any of us, but we knew he did.  We were all incredibly proud of him too.  He was an intensely private, artistic, highly intelligent man who was awed by the natural world around him.  His knowledge of bird life and plants was immense and he was happy to impart it to anyone who asked.  That was the key.  You needed to ask.  He would never presume to tell you his opinions nor say he knew the answer unless asked, so he was a humble man too.  When you had the right question though, he completely opened up.  You could see the passion for his subject in his eyes and you would get caught up in his enthusiasm.  Our old neighbour still has one of the best gardens in the town after Dad taught him and it’s wonderful to see that garden and know my Dad still lives on in it.

I once called Dad from Spain, after seeing a pair of hoopoes flying around in my new garden, and in my excitement rang to tell him.  The first thing he said was, “Upupa Epops.”  I paused for a moment, wondering about his sanity before begging his pardon.  He repeated, “Upupa epops.”

“Dad, are you ok?” I asked.

“That’s what it’s called. It’s latin name is Upupa Epops and you will never forget it.”

He was absolutely right. I never have.

He died of cancer at 1.15am and his loss still haunts me.  I left my family that very morning and flew home as I had a gig that night.  It was a surreal experience. I left a house full of grief and took my broken heart on a plane back to Spain, surrounded by passengers who had no clue that just 4 hours earlier I was watching undertakers remove my fathers body from his house.  I stepped off a plane to sunshine and slept as soon as I got home, then dressed in all my finery and stepped on stage with a painted smile on my face and entertained people for 3 hours.  I still have no idea how I did it, but if I had my time over, I would not do it again.  My biggest regret was not staying to be with the people who needed me in their grief because I needed them.  Time cannot change it though.

I returned home to a place my father had never been.  Here, there were no memories.  I have no recollection of him sitting on my furniture or in my garden.  Unlike England, he never helped me design my garden or walk through the supermarket filling up my basket with all the naughty things he liked.  We didn’t go to the pub here or drive in the countryside or go for dinner.  He didn’t birdwatch from my terrace and inform me of all the species I can’t recognise.  Here, in Spain, he never existed.  I go about my life with no change.  But the change is still immeasurable.

I never stop missing him.  I never stop wanting to pick up the phone and talk to him.  Everyday I see something beautiful and know he would have loved it and I want to share it with him.  I see that little bird with a black cap and green wings and I feel robbed of his knowledge.  I want to show him where I live and take him into the mountains.  I need him in my garden.  I know I can live without him as I have during most of my adult life.  There is no change in that.  The loss of his love, support, knowledge, advice and presence is a change that is immeasurable.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer break

Two months have flown by without posting a blog.  Why? I hear you cry.  My crazy life, is the answer.

My summer was a chaotic one. My husband flew out to Germany and my daughter flew in to keep me company for most of the month.  In tow, were my granddaughter and grandson.  Oh my goodness,  I have definitely forgotten what it’s like to have children around.  I spent most of the time up to my ankles in the debris they dropped behind them wherever they went.  The TV was constantly on with mind bendingly worrying violent kids programs.  We lost wall lights, car keys, bowls and plates.  We found holes in walls, expensive digital cameras used as toys and leftover food everywhere as well as lovely pen drawings all over my cream leather sofas.  I also now have a challenging laptop which has developed Alzheimer’s after being dropped on the floor from the dining table, because it was in the way of the TV.

I still love them deeply, but I was very relieved when I deposited them through the departures gates at the airport.

The following day I flew out to Germany to join my husband for a few days.  I was genuinely exhausted before going and having spent 3 days sightseeing in the wonderful city of Dresden, came home needing a months sleep.

I discovered during this time that, not only do I need peace and quiet to write, I also need calm and to be in a happy place.   My brain needs space to think.  Ideas and words need to whirl around and assemble on a blank screen.  The needs of others dominate my thought patterns and the rule of once a mum, always a mum, resurfaces.  I cannot help but care for the people around me when they need it, and my creativity, thought processes and ideas are stifled until they are silent.   Sleep is also pretty essential.

Writing makes me incredibly happy, but instead of finishing my novel over the summer, as I had planned, I feel frustrated that it remains incomplete and that frustration has led me to delay getting back to it.  I now know there are going to be times when writing is impossible because life gets in the way.  Time does not allow me to do everything I want and quite often there is little enough of it, to do the things I need.

Nevertheless, here I am again.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I have sat down and written something.  It may be short, it may be waffle and written in a few minutes when I have a break, but it is here and just writing these few word is a cathartic exercise.  Onwards and upwards and watch this space.

 

The move to utopia

Spain is such a transient country unless you are Spanish.  When we moved here in 2005, the expat community welcomed us with open arms.  We were invited out to dinner by everyone and our circle of friends expanded quickly.

Many people think that moving to a holiday destination is like finding utopia, but that ideal is dashed quite quickly.  People are people wherever you go and there are the same ups and downs because life always brings it’s challenges. We too thought that we had moved to paradise, but were soon confronted with evidence to the contrary.

My daughter was taken into hospital within a few days of us moving out and having to deal with doctors, nurses and medical jargon in a different language was trying, to say the least.  It hurried us to Spanish lessons and the realisation that it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought to learn.  We now “get by” but are by no means fluent.

My greatest trial though is when friends announce they are moving away.  We all develop friendships.  Some are closer than others and in your home country there are more people to chose from.  Still, we tend to gel with people with similar outlooks and interests.  As an expat, you develop friendships with people that you wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to otherwise, but you are thrown together by circumstance.  Maybe the friendships are more intense because of our need to belong.  We are, after all, a pack animal and being away from our family herd, makes us rely on the people around us for support.

Expats come from different parts of the Uk and all walks of life.  My northern accent is probably stronger now than when I lived in the south because I know so many more northern people here.  I have friends from Scotland, Wales, the West Country, Norfolk, Liverpool, Birmingham, in fact I know a much greater diversity of people here than anywhere I have lived before.

So when someone announces their imminent departure, not only does your friendship group lessen, but you also know that it will be a permanent loss because they will probably be going to an area of the Uk that you will have no cause to go.  When we travel back to our home country, it is usually to spend time with our families.  We race from one home to another, trying to see everyone and making sure no one is left out.  Visits to friends are not even considered in the race to pacify relatives, so the removal of these people from our lives is a great loss.

We have shared fantastic memories, cajoled, supported, cried with and cried on, laughed and truly shared our lives with these people.  I feel their loss deeply and I don’t want them to go or I want to follow them back.

I know I am blessed to have the experience of their company and to have walked beside them, but the absence of their presence leaves a hole and with each departure, our lives become more insular.  To invite more people in also invites the possibility that if they leave, the cycle of making and losing friends carries on.  Maybe it’s tougher to stay in paradise than to leave it.

Night owl or Lark

It’s a couple of days since my last blog and it’s taken me most of the day to summon up the right amount of enthusiasm to write one.

Everyone suffers when they have too little sleep or are just weary.  Atthe beginning of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, she decides to try and get the right amount of sleep instead of watching an extra TV programme.  I did not make this rule for myself, however, I did think that I would just go to bed when tired instead of denying that’s how I felt.  Interestingly  I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier, and waking earlier and earlier.  Nothing wrong with this,  I hear you say.  Actually, for me there is.

It goes against my long built up sleep patterns.  As an entertainer I work late and it’s impossible to suddenly switch it around to being a morning person.  I have long held the belief that I am, in fact, allergic to mornings.  My favourite way to wake up is quietly.  Alarms grate on every nerve and make me feel annoyed.  Once I am conscious, I still need quiet.

My ex-husband was a morning person.  He would wake up with a happy and loud “Good morning!”  and insist on holding conversations even though the only response I gave was an “ugh!”, which translated into any language means “be quiet and leave me alone.”  Having never learnt my morning tongue, we usually ended up having a huge argument as I got more and more wound up.  This was not the reason we divorced but if there is anything positive about that institution, it was the return to quiet mornings.

Luckily for me, my now husband is also an entertainer and a night owl.  Mornings for him are not the best time of day, so we gently wake up over the course of an hour in silence.  Sixteen years later we are still together so it works for us.

Going to bed early is a no no.  We need to be ready to entertain until the wee small hours.  In fact we can spend day feeling exhausted and only become compos mantis just as most people would be retiring.  The difficulty though is when we have a few nights of going to bed after 2am.  In my youth, it seemed easier but now….oh dear.  Age has caught up and I need my 8 hours, but it only works if I am in bed before 2.  I blame the scientists for figuring out our body clocks, Rem sleep patterns and educating us.

Maybe, if work had made me feel so exhausted, I would feel rewarded.  However, on my previous post I blogged about visitors.  So I have concluded that perhaps being in the Jacuzzi till 2am when you have visitors has the same effect as working till that time and is the least conducive to writing.

My resolution therefore, is to sleep earlier and write more.  It’s just today you will have to excuse my ramblings!!

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