Where have the past couple of months gone?
I intended to do this post just a week after the last one but the time came and went. I have so many excuses and reasons for my absence from Blogland; I won't bore you with any of them.
I am now back and raring to go, equipped with Youngest Darling Daughter's cast-off and slightly squiffy old Acer laptop wired up to a screen with a Mac Mini for support, a sort of PC Mac marriage. So lets get on with it...
Back to this year's catchphrase: 'Once in a lifetime...'
The month of June saw Youngest Darling Daughter having a painting selected for an exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy sponsored by the local Police Constabulary. I am so proud of her and very flattered that she chose me as her subject.
Hubby and I spent a weekend in Whitstable to attend the 50th Birthday Bash of one of our oldest friends. I had so much fun and couldn't help but think that I don't make the trip to Whitstable often enough nowadays. I intend to remedy that in the coming months.
And the end of June was when Darling Daughter First Born celebrated her twentieth birthday. Her teenage years now just memories, she completed her first year at university with very good grades and came home for the summer, no longer a university fresher, no longer a teenage girl. Another once in a lifetime notched up for this young woman, my Daughter. She has matured into a lovely person, full of warmth and humour and I smile inside and out whenever I think of her.
July saw Youngest Darling Daughter celebrating her eighteenth birthday and leaving school. So my little girl will never be a
child again, or at least not in the eyes of the law or society at large. It makes me a bit sad to think of the end of childhood. It's silly, I know.
This month was when the judging of the exhibition took place, too. We went along to a very pleasant presentation evening at the Academy. Alas, Youngest Darling Daughter didn't win a prize for her effort but she did receive lots of critical acclaim. She is such a talented girl and so modest. I am so very proud of her. In fact, you know, I am a very lucky woman because I have two wonderful daughters, so just forgive me for a moment whilst I gloat :D
Off to watch Team GB!
The end of July brought us the Olympics. What can I say that hasn't been said already? I was and still am proud to be British after such a fantastic Games. And August brought the Paralympics - strength, prowess, inspiration and admiration in bucketloads. Then, Youngest Darling Daughter received excellent A Level results, confirmation of a place at her first choice university and had a painting selected for another exhibition for young artists at The View Gallery in Bristol. We attended another very pleasant private viewing and presentation evening. I could get used to this...
September arrived and Youngest Darling Daughter started her Art Foundation course. Hubby and I made plans for a short break in Dubai. Hubby was taking part in a training conference there. I was a bit lonely at times during the day, but I loved Dubai. The heat was a bit much for me, so I spent most of the daytimes in the hotel - thank goodness for air conditioning and the hotel pool. I would love to go back to Dubai soon, with my girls, and share the experience with them. I hope that wasn't a once in a lifetime. It is a lovely place and the people are very friendly, polite and helpful. I highly recommend it.
As September came to an end, we set off on the drive to London to take Darling Daughter First Born back to university. Another year of study ahead of her, new experiences to be had and friends to meet, I know she will continue to blossom. I miss her so much when she is at university, but I am so glad she is able to have this experience. We chat regularly on Skype so it feels like she isn't so very far away.
In early October, I met my two dear university friends in London to celebrate one lovely lady's fiftieth birthday. We had a gorgeous lunch at The Roux at Parliament Square and shared lots of stories and laughter. I have known these ladies for over thirty years but I never tire of their company. We have shared so much over the decades, lots of joy and some very sad times too and I love them both. Friends like that only come along once in a lifetime. I hope I never take them for granted. And now I am up to date...October is drawing to a close.
When you stop and think about it, many things, many ordinary events and
encounters are once in a lifetime. Birthdays, yes, they happen
every year, but they are never the same. To quote T S Eliot: 'All time is unredeemable.' I think I know what he means. We can't change the past or expect the same to happen in the future. We can't alter time or save it, but we can learn from it. We have to treat each moment as unique, even if we follow the same routine every day. And
those things that we do everyday, are different in some way from
the previous day. So whether we are trying for an Olympic Gold Medal, joining friends or family to celebrate a birthday or just popping to the local shop for some milk, I want to embrace every day from now on as a once in a lifetime.
That's a phrase I've heard and used a lot recently.
The first time I said it this year was way back in May, when the anticipation of waiting for the Olympic Torch was just so exciting.
Even though it was all over in a flash, I can say I was there. A once in a lifetime, unique, experience.
Can I claim it was unique when I shared it with thousands of people, young and old?
Yes, I think so, it will never be an event that I am likely to see again, not here in my country, in my town, on my doorstep.
Then in June, we celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee; another occasion that will never come around again.
The whole country seemed to be decorated with union flags and bunting. I don't remember it being so obvious during the Silver or Golden Jubilees.
We celebrated the Jubilee weekend with a huge feast at my sister's house...
We ate and drank far too much.
And on Jubilee Tuesday, we caught a coach to London and joined the masses in the rain. But everyone smiled...
and waved flags and cheered...
despite having to view the Queen on a big screen in St. James Park, because we couldn't get anywhere near the Palace; the streets of London were packed!
We did have a fantastic view of the Red (White and Blue) Arrows from the park.
Yet another day that can never be recaptured...
And this fantastic image appeared on the wall opposite the Childrens' Hospital in Bristol, where once had been a Banksy of a boy about to pop a bag behind a police marksman, and then the Eton Posse, David Cameron and Boris Johnson rioting!
Who knows if it's a Banksy or not, who really cares? It is a once in a lifetime image of the Queen.
So that brings me to the middle of June, and the middle of the summer. Very soon 2012 will be a once in a lifetime too.
I'll fill you in on the past two and half months in my next post...
Okay, so Mum said that because today is my birthday, I should be the one getting all the attention but she just wondered if i wanted to introduce you to these two...
They're my new kitty brothers, Casper and Pippin. They have been living with us for about three weeks now, but Mum has been busy with this and that and didn't have time to blog about them before. She said I could write this post and I suggested to her that we could give them their very own blog over here, so that way she wouldn't have to worry about keeping everyone up to date because the boys could do it themselves, just like I'm doing now.
So what with the kittens and my human sisters having birthdays just like the Queen, Mum has been quite busy. She said she will tell you all about the last few weeks by going backwards in several posts, starting with my birthday. I'm not too sure thats a very good idea; going backwards is bad for the digestion...
Anyway, Pippin and Casper are very tiny and I have to be careful not to squash them when we play. They remind me of my dear friend and kitty brother, Mowgli. I'm hoping that they stay a little longer than he did though. Mum said she thinks they will be my best friends. I hope so, I've been missing having furry company.
Before anyone points it out to me, I realise that I am always talking about the weather in my blog - how very English :)
But continuing with my Englishness...Phew, it's HOT!
Is it any wonder the British are preoccupied with the weather when it is so changeable? This May, we have gone from a rather cold, wet Spring to a hot, dry Summer, seemingly overnight. The garden is confused. I'm confused.
I'm not complaining, mind you. Long may this weather reign. And talking of reigning that leads me on nicely to that very, very historic day coming up soon, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I'm loving all this patriotism. I wouldn't describe myself as a Royalist, but I love the design of the Union Jack. Always have done really. It's so bright and cheerful and whenever I see it, I smile. I ordered these the other day and they have just arrived ready for the weekend. Aren't they great?
I've had these cushions for a couple of years now and they have been christened Winston and Jock, obviously. I really need a welsh corgi and an irish setter to complete the set but I don't know if they are out there.
These cushions were a bargain about 18 months ago in Wilkinsons. Try buying them for the same price now - no chance.
And this union jack mug is one of my favourites. I have a matching apron too. They came from Tesco a few years ago. The Queenie mug was a bargain I scooped yesterday at The Range, just £1.45!
So, you see, I am a bit of a Union Jack collector. The same cannot be said of the flag of St. George, the English national flag. I'm afraid the association of the far right in British politics and football hooliganism have put me off a bit. Also, it is just a constant reminder of how our national football team fail to deliver at every tournament. I used to be a big fan of football. When I lived at my parents' home, we all watched football as a family on television every week and occasionally, live. I saw Georgie Best play :D
However, being married to someone who isn't particularly a fan, (he'll watch the big matches but thats all; I suppose I should be thankful), and being present at friends's houses whilst the men in their lives watched football and they treat it as a very masculine concern, has put me off. I want to reignite my love of football this year - after all it is supposedly our national game. So come on England, show us you are still worthy!
Back to flags, if you love that design, St. George's flag, then there are plenty of examples out there to buy too thanks to the Euro 2012 tournament kicking off very soon.
Of course the other big event for us this year is the Olympics. I'm really excited. I think it is going to be a very memorable Summer. I can't wait...
And I don't just mean the much mentioned fact that it was the wettest April since records began.
First of all, it started well. Hubby had a birthday. We went out for a lovely meal here, http://www.chinchinbarkitchen.com. A very laid back place where they do fab food and the staff are lovely - when or if you are in Bristol, I highly recommend a visit!
Then I caught a cold, a real stinker on Easter weekend! And all the plans I had for a very creative time almost evaporated, but luckily I got this bit of creativity in before the bug hit! Aided by my very artistic girls, I might add.
A few days were spent feeling sorry for myself and Youngest Darling Daughter, who also had the nasty virus, and thinking that as soon as the sun shines, we would feel much better. Did the sun shine? Somewhere, definitely, but not West of Centre.
'Oh well', I thought to myself, 'never mind we are off on holiday soon, at least I won't have a cold then.' We had booked a week in Sorrento and were very excited having never been to that area of Italy before. Sure enough by the time it came to leave for our holiday, I felt much better.
Something inexplicable happened to Europe that week though. It rained everywhere.
Sorrento was beautiful, even in the rain! But, oh how I wished we could see its beauty bathed in sunshine, instead of, well, just bathed!
We had rain everyday, most days it was heavy and torrential. We trudged round Pompeii in the cold and wet and it was flooded whilst we were there. It stopped raining long enough for the clouds to clear on top of Versuvius. The views from there were nothing short of breathtaking. And the sun did shine briefly at Herculaneum but on the way back to Sorrento, we spotted a twister in the bay - very impressive and very scary heading towards a cruise ship that had stopped there. Amazingly, we tried to get a photograph but it just vanished almost as quickly as it appeared, thankfully. I wouldn't have liked to be on that ship looking at a twisting tower coming towards me...
I thought of this poem as we faced the twister and floods:
'O, To be in England
Now that April's there...'
(Robert Browning. (1812–1889), Home-thoughts, from Abroad)
However, despite the damn awful weather, we had a wonderful time. Luckily, our Hotel was tip-top! Imagine how terrible it would have been if the Hotel was pants too! We ate far too much, drank far too much and generally took life at a slower pace. Beautiful, beautiful part of the world! Pompeii and Herculaneum are just fascinating. I hope to go back one day, maybe when Europe is in drought!
Then we had to come home. Darling Daughter First Born had exams to sit; Youngest Darling Daughter had to go back to school for her final term, gulp! And then Hubby got a cold. Poor thing, I sympathised having not long had one myself...
Then it struck again! Cold number two! How could this be, I usually only get one cold a year and here I was with two in a month. I was not happy! And it kept raining. I had all the holiday washing to do and it kept raining. Then Youngest Darling Daughter caught the cold too. We are obviously far too much alike and share far too much. I thought of this poem as I blew into a mansize tissue:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
(T S Eliot, (1888-1965), The Waste Land, 1922)
(Thank you to Darling Daughter First Born for the Easter Egg Photos)