Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Happy Granny...

Today, there was a wonderful first in my life. My granddaughter talked to me on the phone for the first time, aged 1 year and 352 days. She told me that she had a pink nose, and that Daddy had painted it for her. I was nearly tearful to hear that dear little voice talking to her faraway Granny.

My granddaughter and friend.

I continued chatting to my son about general stuff, then remembered I had found his beloved childhood red tractor. When I told him he was delighted. The tractor has been dragged around several homes of mine over the last few years. I found it this last weekend in full sight. I think I had not noticed it, but have been thinking about my granddaughters birthday. This, I think, made me realise how pleased she would be to be able to play with a toy that had belonged to Daddy. The tractor now sits next to a beautiful yellow car I found as a plaything to live at Granny's house.

Daddy's old tractor.

A little later, my son asked me if I would tell my granddaughter how good she was for brushing her teeth so well. She told me she had brushed her teeth so I told her that Granny thought she was a very clever girl. My son reported that she was beaming with pride at my praise. I was just thrilled to be able to say goodnight to her as well. I've always enjoyed the videos my daughter in law posts, so I suggested skype to my son. He says my granddaughter expects to see family faces on the computer so next time we'll skype and I'll get to see the painted nose and the clean teeth! Very happy Granny.

Friday, 26 August 2011

New Beginnings

Autumn has always been my time for fresh starts. My birthday falls in November and I think this is part of this. Another year older etcetera. This year, my new beginning has even more significance as I am returning to work after many months of illness and recuperation. I am returning to the school at which I have worked for the last five years. I have used my enforced time out to reflect on my practice, pedagogy and teaching style. I have also addressed issues around what is truly important and that which is not. Somewhat to my surprise, knowing how major illness can affect confidence, I am confident that the decisions I have made are the right ones.

I am really looking forward to getting back to work. I know the school really well and have had the privilege of returning to Year Three, my favourite year group in Key Stage 2. I know what topics we'll be teaching and having taught in Year Three previously, am familiar with what needs to be taught for Maths and Literacy. All this is very satisfying.
However, I do commute twenty five miles to my school in the city, and I have to ask myself if this is sustainable. It seems to me that it would make more sense to work nearer to home. Of course this would depend on someone employing me in a school nearer to the town in which I live.
Clearly I am going to have to have a plan of action. This time of new beginnings is therefore going to be a time of strategy planning and research.
No-one should worry that all my action planning and research will detract from my efforts for my class of 2011-12. It will not.

Making sure I have a work/life balance is also one of my goals and I need to do all I can to reduce serious stress in my life as this could have a profound effect on my future health. The main conclusion I have reached is that I should take responsibility for the life I lead.
The answers for me then, my friends, lie in my hands.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The bells...

When we lived in the city we didn't hear church bells unless we were near the cathedral. The local church was modern and only had one bell which tolled to summon worshipers. When we moved to the country we were pleased to discover that the local parish church has working bells. The bells have an automatic chime that marks the quarter hours each with its own individual chime. The chimes getting more complex as the hour advances until the hour is struck. These ring from nine in the morning until nine in the evening. The bells are rung for services and the bell ringers practice on Friday evenings.

Since I was ill, the bells have punctuated my days. Often when stuck in bed the chimes would mark the passing of time and were oddly comforting. As our three storey house is situated up a hill, our top floor bedroom is level with the ringing chamber of the church. This means we hear the bells clearly. This is a blessing until the ringers have a bad practice session!
Mr G and I were recently out on a walk and heard the chimes that preceded the striking of the hour. But the hour did not strike. The mechanism must have broken. The bells limped on through the week constantly chiming the quarters and never reaching the hour! When the bell ringers assembled on the Friday, they rang for a couple of hours as usual. On Saturday morning we awoke to silence, no chimes, no striking the hour... the bells had been silenced. It is now several weeks since the bells chimed through the day and we miss them.
I really hope that the bells are fixed soon, I miss them marking my days.

Friday, 19 August 2011

10 tips towards an easier life.

1. Do not worry about the state of your house - it is yours to live in as you wish. (I'd keep it hygienic though)
2. Accept help if is offered. (Why be a martyr?)
3. If you can, use an internet shopping service. (I have tried this and it worked well for me)
4. Know your own limits (Mr G reminded me of this!)
5. Do not iron things that are not seen outside your house (I have NEVER ironed sheets, pillowcases, tea towels or underwear)

6. Build in some down time each week (as a full time teacher I could easily work 24/7, I try to manage my workload so I have most weekends free)
7. Try not to worry about things you cannot change. (This was a hard one for me - but I have learned to accept and move on.)
8. Do not do worrying for other people. (Again a hard one but some people LOVE to download their worries onto others and expect them to sort it out! Obviously I try to help my nearest and dearest)
9. Aim to include fun activities into your life regularly ( It is really easy to grind along the same old rut week in week out never making time for fun)

10. Lastly remind yourself regularly of all the good things in your life, seize life's chances, you never know what may come your way.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Days of sunshine and roses...

Well, the sun hardly shone at all and the day ended with rain but we had an amazing day. We headed out to Anglesey Abbey after a leisurely breakfast at home. Anglesy abbey is in Lode a tiny village outside Cambridge. When we arrived there were loads of people pouring in. I felt a little depressed, not wanting to be amidst lots of people, as I am vulnerable to infections. We decided to have a cup of coffee and see if the queues abated. One delicious coffee later, there were no queues.

We strolled over to the House, I won't bore you with a detailed description, I will applaud the NT for the 'dressing' of properties to the period in which they were last in use. The extra rooms opened at Anglesey include many bathrooms and bedrooms. In one bathroom there were a selection of 1930's hats to try on in front of a vast mirror - great fun.
After leaving the house we walked over to Lode Mill. This watermill was running when we arrived. Mr G used to be a miller of flour so really enjoys exploring mill of all sorts. The ladders to the grinding floor were beyond me. I waited on the ground floor and chatted to the gentlemen in charge of milling. When they realised Mr G and I were VERY interested in the mill, one of the gentlemen took us round to see the waterwheel. This was huge and we were privileged to get a sneak peek!
Mr G declared he wanted to see the dew pond which is on the far side of the estate. As we walked round the house we happened upon the rose garden. Roses are quite my favourite flowers and all those we saw were beautifully fragranced. I spent several minutes walking round the beds sniffing and cooing with delight.

It was a very long walk to the dew pond and most disappointingly it was bone dry. The walk back to the car was hard work and made me realise that two weeks post chemo means limited stamina.
We decided to pop in on a good friend at his work to wish him 'Happy Birthday' and share some cakes. He was pleased and we were also pleased to do something to thank someone who has been a great support over the last months. While on our way from Lode to Isleham, we travelled roads that I reckoned I hadn't used in nearly 30 years. Some parts were barely recognisable, others completely unchanged.
Ely was our next destination. We spent a happy hour wandering round a large antiques shop. After we left the shop we definitely needed refreshment and happened upon Peacocks Tearoom close by. This was a very happy discovery as we had the best afternoon tea ever! Loads of teas to choose from and amazing sandwiches and cakes. We are going back after my next Oncology appointment to celebrate with their Pink Perfection set tea. Look through the linky above!
This day was the first of what we hope will be many more. A bit of culture, a bit of shopping and some amazing food and drink... and above all, fun!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Slugs and other stuff...

That poo is moving ... that poo is a slug.
That must be the biggest slug in the world...
This was declaimed by S at the sight of this...

...on the terrace of our garden.
As you can see, S took the picture using her index finger to give scale. Later we discovered another slug almost as large. This slug is somewhat bizarrely called a Grey slug! We do have a hedgehog that visits the garden, I do hope it comes and eats these slugs soon.
S comes from New Zealand and it is a revelation looking at England through her eyes. When she last was in this country, we lived in a suburb of a city, since then we have moved to a small country town. We went for a walk on the day she arrived, down through the High Street and on to the bridge over the river. The scene is a typically english pastoral one. A meandering river edged with willows and rushes.

It is very easy to take it for granted. S admired the view, I saw it again with new eyes. It is stunningly lovely. The irony of the news reports of riots against the pastoral idyll was intensified as friends and relatives from New Zealand checked that she was in no danger from the unrest. One of the reasons we moved was to escape the noise and bustle of the city. We do hear sirens here, but that is because our town houses the local fire engine which attends any fires locally and accidents on the big road nearby. Generally though, my town is a peaceful place to live. As I type, I can hear the sheep and cattle at the Saturday Livestock Market.
Whether I see the world through my eyes or someone else's, I count myself blessed to live in such a lovely spot .. even if the slugs are huge and look like poo!

Friday, 5 August 2011

I'm here now ...

Hello everyone. Yes, this is Ali's next blog. This and that ended up being about my journey into life with cancer. Updates relating to this journey will continue to be posted there.
I want this blog to be about my life in spite of cancer. It will be about work, family, fun and anything else that takes my fancy. It will be a potpourri of stories, commentary and maybe a few tips!

A potpourri can be:pot·pour·ri/ˌpōpəˈrē/Noun
1. A mixture of dried petals and spices.
2. A mixture of things, esp. a musical medley.



                                                 How?                        Who  


Tips and hints...

 I hope it will be fun, entertaining and sometimes provide food for thought.

Ali x