Friday, 29 July 2011

Amy Winehouse is Dead - Do you actually care?

When I heard the news about Amy Winehouse losing her battle against drug addiction and alcoholism age only 27 I felt my heart sink. Amy's album Back to Black is what I listened to day in and day out for the first year after my Mothers death. Amy's velvet voice became a comfort to me as I sang along to her words, quite often with a raw pain in my heart and tears on my pillow as I wept for the loss of my Mum.

Of course Amy's death wasn't a surprise to me, after all her drug abuse was so well documented in the media. Her chaotic, unhappy lifestyle was out there for all to read as she struggled with inner turmoil and battled with her demons. I, like many of Amy's fans prayed, wished and hoped that she would win the battle and become healthy once again. I felt so sad for her as I watched the slow demise of such a gifted person.

I questioned why a girl who appeared to have it all would abuse herself the way she did and how the drugs had managed to take such a hold on her. At first I blamed her relationship with her husband Blake. It was his fault she became wrapped in a life of drugs, his fault she ruined her life...But was it really? Why was she attracted to a bloke who had a drug problem in the first place, why would she have even entertained the idea of experimenting with heroin? These are not activities most of us would ever consider, even for love. Most of us would have run a mile the moment we realised drugs were a part of a potential partners life.

Surely her issues were much more deep rooted and getting involved with Blake just sent her life down a slightly different route. He clearly had his own issues and for her to feel a connection with him as strong as she did went a whole lot deeper than just getting high. Had she not met Blake I think her life may have still been one of self destruction.

I feel for Amy's family and friends, especially her parents as they must have known one day there would be a phone call. To watch your precious, beautiful and talented child become a hideous mess so publicly must have broken their hearts. I can not imagine the painful process they have been through these past few years as they sat helplessly waiting... waiting for that phone call telling them their baby had lost her battle with addiction.

I know lots of people do not care and feel there is so much news worthier of our attention at the moment rather than some selfish junkie who ultimately killed herself. And I can understand that lack of compassion...but maybe, just possibly they would feel a bit differently if they had a loved one who had very quickly slipped down that slippery, icy slope and struggled to pull themselves back up.

The news of Amy's death has raised awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction. It really does destroy lives and it has also reinforced that addicts come from all walks of life, all backgrounds and it can happen to absolutely anyone.

As parents we need to be educated about addiction and not just drugs but also alcohol and just hope and pray that we are never faced with the same awful situation that Mitch and Janis Winehouse found themselves in. How can you not feel any compassion for her parents? Or feel their pain as you witness their public display of grief?

For their sake we should not judge but remember Amy for her talent, her music, her voice and that at the end of the day she was their baby.

R.I.P Amy Winehouse 1983 - 2011

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

My New Tattoo - Cherry Blossom

My Silent Sunday post last week was my new tattoo so I thought you might like to know a little more about it ...

I have been meaning to get some cherry blossom tattoo's on both my arms for quite a while now but just not got around to it. I already have various tatt's and I got my first one when I was seventeen (Some 20 odd years ago now). I've always like them and I have also always appreciated the art and work that goes into creating a tattoo on a person's body.

So my new tattoo is cherry blossoms and why I picked to have them permanently inked onto my skin goes back to my childhood. Growing up we had a huge, very old white cherry tree in our garden and I have many many fond memories of me and my Brothers eating them straight from the tree so cherries and cherry blossoms just always remind me of a happy time.

Anyway I was supposed to get the tattoo done last year for my 40th but just haven't had the time to go get it done until recently. Then a new tattoo shop opened up in town, of course I was keen to be there for the opening to have a nose about and see who the owners were. A Friend of mine came along with me and booked herself in for a tatt. The new owner took the booking, she was a vibrant and very pretty woman with bright pink hair. There was something so familiar about her but I couldn't think where I knew her from but I knew, without question she was from the place I grew up.

Over the next few days it really bugged me where I knew her from until I went with my friend to get her tattoo. The pink haired woman asked my name and if by any chance I come from childhood town. She mentioned my old street...The street with the house with the cherry tree. I squealed as it suddenly dawned on me who she was... My eldest Brother and I were great Friends with her whole family and as a teenager I even used to babysit for her (She is about ten years younger than me). We were the two large families on the street and spent a lot of our childhood together.

So to have her tattoo me gave the meaning behind the cherry blossoms extra sentiment as she remembers the cherry tree in my childhood garden and I've booked in to have my other arm tattooed in a couple of weeks time. It really is such a small world and sometimes, some things are just meant to be!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Magpie Monday - Vintage sweater and groovy fablon

My first find of the week was some orginal 1970's fablon, still sealed and even has the 70's price sticker on it...73p.

I love the groovy orange and yellow pattern and it will be perfect for the kitchen area in Bertha the caravan. I picked it up from ebay for a fiver.

Then I popped along to my local charity shop and nearly fell over as I spotted an original 1960's sweater.

To say I was excited is an understatement. The red, white & blue design is so current...I absolutely love it, love it, love it! And it was only £1.50!

Pop over to Me and My Shadow for more Magpie finds.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Quiet Life

Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breath his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, 
whose fields with bread, 
Whose flocks supply him with attire, 
Whose trees in summer yield him shade, In winter fire.

Blest who can unconcern'dly find Hours, 
days and years slide soft away, 
In health of body, peace of mind, Quiet by day, 

Sound sleep by night; study and ease, 
Together mixt; sweet recreation; And innocence, 
which most does please With meditation. 

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown, 
Thus unlamented let me die, 
Steal from the world, and not a stone Tell where I lie.

I love this piece of poetry by Alexander Pope and how it sums up a life of solitude, free from the restrictions of society. The hustle, the bustle are of town life are a million miles away from this free man. 

He has no responsibilities in life toward anyone but himself. He answers to no-one. He doesn't give a damn about what anyone thinks of him. He does not care for material possessions, he is completely satisfied with the simple things in life. His life will be healthier as he has no stresses and strains. No-one passes judgement on him. He has a thirst for knowledge but not as a means for excellence merely as a satisfaction, a pleasure to be educated. He is a Free Man.

I feel a little envious of him as I read. he lives a life of peace and quiet. I couldn't live completely in solitude like he does but wouldn't it be wonderful to live a life free from every day stresses and strains? 

We are getting closer and closer to living a quieter life. We have down shifted some what. We have opted for country living which brings us so much freedom and peace. We are still tied to the system but we are freer than we were ten years ago, in fact our lives have completely changed. As a result I feel more confident in who I have become, who we have become. I am happy, I feel free.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A Fond Farewell to My Brother

My eldest Brother emigrated to Canada this week so I thought it fitting to show some childhood photo's. My Brother and I were great friends and we rarely argued or fought like most Brothers & Sisters. We got on and enjoyed similar activities. I was a Tomboy and loved hanging around with my Brother & his mates...Boys had way much more fun than the girls. 

Mum would dress us up all pretty but we rarely stayed looking like that as we were kids who liked to get mucky. We were always playing in the mud and dirt... we would play run outs, tin can Tommy, knock down ginger, we went scrumping, collected ladybirds, had ant fights and built dens...this is how we would end up looking by the end of the day as we wrecked played in Mum's garden. 

We were full of adventure as Saturday mornings we would run to the corner shop with a carrier bag of jam sandwiches and 60p for a red bus rover. We would spend the day swinging from the back of the old routemaster buses all over London. I bet at some point we have travelled on nearly every bus route in London.

When our parents divorced it was Me and Bro who helped Mum take care of our younger Brothers and we have always been there for them all ever since. Bro giving them all work and I've always been there to support them during times of need.

We grew apart as we became adults...our lives took very different directions and to be honest we rarely saw each other over the past twenty years as we busied ourselves with our own families. It is sad we let that happen...we let life get in the way and drifted apart. 

It was during our family holiday to Canada and the US back in the 1970's that my Brother first said he wanted to live in Canada. As we visited our Auntie, Uncle and Canadian Cousins in Ontario we looked in awe at Niagara six year old Bro turned to me and said "I'm gonna live here one day!" At that moment I kew he had fallen in love with the beauty of Canada and I knew he meant what he said. Now thirty years later he has achieved his dream.

So I would like to raise my glass to my eldest Brother and his family as he begins his new adventure. I wish him much luck, love, happiness and success in his new homeland...Canada. 

This post is linked up to Flashback Friday

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Gallery - Vintage

My whole life is spent on the look out for vintage loveliness and that is why I found this weeks theme so difficult. Trying to choose a photo has been a real challenge. Should I go with...

My obsession with Kitchenalia...
My many vintage charity shop finds...

How about a peek into my vintage bedroom...

Or maybe my vintage style sewing projects...

But no...I'm going to show you how Bertha my vintage caravan is coming along...

She is beginning to look so pretty...

And We all simply love Bertha as she becomes one of the family...

So there you have it...My Vintage filled life.

Pop over to The Gallery for more Gorgeous Vintage.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

#Mumentum - A catch up

So hows things been in my dieting world the past few weeks? Well, I'm relieved to report my weight loss is still right on track. I have lost over a stone now and dropped a dress size. I feel so better...more energetic and comfortable. I feel as though I am well on my way to goal.

I think the biggest reason why I am doing so well on my diet this time is my weekly weightwatchers meeting. I don't actually think its necessarily the diet plan itself that I am finding so easy as I do actually prefer Slimming world principles and even on weightwatchers I try not to mix carbs with protein which is essentially the basics of slimming world. 

I personally feel if you are paying out each week for meetings then the success of your diet really depends upon the group leader, the venue, having friends who are dieting along side you and actually staying for the whole meeting and NOT just weighing and running.

I have been to quite a few of these diet clubs over the past 20 odd years and the times they have been successful are the times when I have actually looked forward each week to weigh in. So if you go to your local slimming club and hate being there, find it a bit boring or just dread going then I suggest you leave and try another one even if it means switching diets. Being happy and relaxed at weigh in makes a huge difference to how successful you will be.

The support of my online slimming groups both on facebook and in blogesphere also give me incentive to keep going and if you feel you would like some support in Blogland then pop over to Liska's blog (New Mum Online) and say Hi. Mumentum was the lovely Liska's idea and everyone is so lovely and friendly.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Foraging and Cherry Jam

I Love cherries and I would probably go as far as saying they are my favourite fruit. Growing up we had the biggest cherry tree I have ever seen and when they were in season the fruit was huge, juicy sweet white cherries. 

Our house backed onto the local park and the park entrance was an alley that run down the side of our house and garden. I would often hear people gasp as the passed the tree and some would even stop and pick any over hanging cherries they could reach. 

This year I am having both sleeves tattooed and I want cherry blossoms on both as a reminder of my happy childhood and the summers spent stuffing my face full of cherries. So you can imagine my delight when my lovely friend invited me along to forage for cherries. As we walked along the walkers footpath into farm fields my friend pointed out the huge long line of cherry trees in the distance.

As we got closer I could clearly see the trees were absolutely dripping with fruit... 

It looked as though it was once an orchard and as I picked the mouth watering gems, tasting the rich, sweet fruit it evoked memories of childhood and I wondered what its original purpose was, maybe for jams or to attract birds to eat the pests that plagued the crops in the farm fields... I would be interested to find out. Whatever it was once used for it has now been rather neglected and is very overgrown but the fruit is still growing, bountiful and fabulous for foragers and wildlife.

I returned home with two big bowls of fruit and the trees were still full of fruit to feed the wildlife...plenty for us all to enjoy. 

I washed them all and started work on removing the pits which was a messy job that stained my hands bright purple.

I tossed them into a large saucepan along with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar and proceeded to make jam.

I potted up the jam and put aside ready for warm bagels.

There was even enough left over fruit for Papa to whip up a crumble that the family demolished in minutes.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Gallery - Grandparents

I was very lucky growing that I had two sets of wonderful Grandparents but sadly only My Nan on Mum's side is still with us. 

Dad's Parents, Tom and Grace were Londoners born and bred. Grandad worked as a lorry driver for a sawdust company in East London. These were they days when the butchers would still use sawdust on their was big business back then and I remember visiting his workplace with my Dad often during the 1970's as he worked there too for a while. I still think of Grandad every time I get a whiff of wood chippings and I picture him smiling as he leans on a garden fork with a mug of tea in his hand or underneath the bonnet of one of my Dad's cars as they worked on many motors together. 

 (Nan & Grandad during the 80's, This is how I like to remember them)

Nan on Dad's side was a very talented dressmaker and it is from her I get my love of sewing. Nan could make absolutely anything and would whip up a dress in no time at all. I picture her curly hair, with her glasses on strings hanging around her neck along with her tailors measuring tape either sitting at her sewing machine, working on her lovely garden or baking a yummy cake constantly asking to measure me up for a new skirt.Nan also loved to write and I'm sure she would have loved all this blogging stuff had she still been alive, she most definitely would have been a blogger.

Mums parents, Pat and Tommy (Sam was his real name) were Green Grocers with two shops in East London and some of my fondest childhood memories were spent at the shop. I loved it there and everything they stood for as genuine shopkeepers who cared for their customers. I picture Grandad sitting in front of the fire after a hard day at work, cat on his lap, newspaper in his hand with the faint sound of the News in the background on TV. I miss his jolly Irish voice, his many stories of Ireland and his love of gardening.

 (Nan & Grandad with four of my Brothers and two of my cousins 1990)

Nan on Mums side is thankfully still with us and if I picture her back when Grandad was still alive I see her fussing over him, cooking him lovely dinners and bringing him cups of tea as he tends his roses. I sit beside her as I watch her unrolling her hair from her curlers that she has had in all night covered by a headscarf, her hair emerges immaculate as she then applies her face powder and lipstick. Nan is a strong and feisty woman who suffered so much heartache during her childhood losing her own mother during the blitz as a bomb ripped through the bunker that was supposed to protect them from the continuous bombing. She was only thirteen the day she watched her mother die.

As I remember the massive role both sets of Grandparents played in my life I feel sad for my own kids who have never really experienced having traditional Grandparents. They had my Mum before we lost her but Papa's Mum lives a long distance away and they dont really see her very much and as for Grandads, well thats a whole other post. They dont have a Grandad as Mine and Papa's Dads both totally neglect their families. It is such a shame that they have missed out on all the great things they could have learnt from having Grandparents in their lives.

 (A few months before we lost Mum - Granddaughters Mummy, Mum, Nan & Granddaughter and me on the end)

So now Papa and I are now Grandparents ourselves and we love the role of Nanny and Grandad and the relationship is an important one for us. We totally adore our five year old Granddaughter and strive to give her many fun, happy memories of time spent with us. I hope as an adult that she will look back at her time with us with just as much love and as many happy memories as I have for my own Grandparents. I just wish Mum was here to see how her Great Granddaughter has grown...She would have been so proud.

Pop over to Sticky Fingers for this weeks Gallery theme of Grandparents and check out lots of Fab posts.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Listography - Five Things I'd like to do this Summer

This weeks Listography is a nice easy one for me as I have sooooo much I want to get done this summer, like day trips with our Granddaughter, getting a new pool for the garden, lose more weight and finish all those odd jobs before winter...the list is endless so for now here's just five.... 

1) Finish my raised beds in the back garden. They need filling with top soil and then I cant plant out my celery, cabbages, fennel, cauli's and  swedes. There is so much more I want to do in the garden but even if I just get these finished this summer I'll be a very happy woman. To be fair we have worked hard over the past two years in the garden and its 'getting there'.

2) Make lots of jam and tomato sauce. I foraged all these cherries yesterday and the kids have eaten half of them but with the rest I'd like to make some cherry jam. I was tempted to make pies but they would be way to tempting for me while I'm dieting. I have beef toms growing and I want to make my own tomato sauce for Papa & the kids...Hopefully I'll get plenty of toms to be able to do that.

3) Walk more. I do walk a lot...most days Papa and I will walk along the river or across the farm fields but I really should take longer ones and burn this fat. I am lucky to live in the countryside and I should take advantage of the miles of walks I could go on. It would benefit my weight loss.

4) Finish my crochet projects. I usually crochet during the winter when I cant be out in the garden. I like the fire to be roaring, the rain to be pouring while I'm cosy and tucked up inside with hook in hand. However I'm in the middle of a baby blanket for my Nephew who is a few months old now and still hasn't received his granny square blankie, I'm actually planning on finishing that this week. I'm also in the middle of making a double bed size granny blanket for my bedroom.

5) Finish painting Bertha's exterior, completing our our picket gates that Papa started and planting a lavetera hedge in large pots to shield Bertha from passers by...just to pretty the drive up to insure Beautiful Bertha doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.

So that's just a few things on my 'to do' list for this summer now pop over to The Reluctant Housedad for everyone Else's.


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