I Wish I Was A Unicorn

Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then ALWAYS be a unicorn!

But I wasn’t hurt…

One year and one day ago was the last blog I wrote. It was a cathartic description, although very much censored, of my experience of witnessing the Glasgow Bin Lorry Crash.
When I wrote it I felt better for getting the story out. If you had asked me back then if i was okay, I would have truthfully told you, yes, I’m still feeling shocked, but I’m okay. I really had no idea of the psychological damage done by then and should probably have asked the police for counselling. The reason I didn’t ask is the same reason I haven’t spoken to anyone about it throughout the year, and that reason was that I was not hurt. How could I lift a phone and ask for advice when there were people killed, people bereaved and people physically injured.

I was unscathed.

I was a bystander.

I was one of the lucky ones.

I went home that night.

I sat at a table with my family three days later.

My gifts were not still sitting under the tree on boxing day.

I was spared by the simple decision of my husband to cross the road when we did.

I was not hurt.

Every time a news report came on TV about it I reminded myself how lucky I was. When the photographs of the six victims were published, I felt heartbroken for their families, but also a guilty relief that I wasn’t looking at my husbands photograph or that my family were not looking at mines.
As we sat at our Christmas dinner table 3 days after the accident I took some family photos. My dads bruised face from a separate accident showed his pain, our puffy tired faces from crying and lack of sleep showed on ours, and so did a determination that we would make sure we enjoyed Christmas. We reminded ourselves minute by minute that we were the fortunate ones with our family around us and forced any iota of self pity out of our minds. We created a little scene in that room of the happy family and didn’t acknowledge any negative feeling at all.
A few days later I was standing at a bus stop in a town about 20 miles from Glasgow when a bin lorry turned the corner and accelerated past me. Without thinking I leapt into a doorway and felt a surge of adrenaline. Only once the lorry passed out of my sight did I realise I was holding my breath. “Don’t be daft”, I told myself, ” Why are you getting upset? What are the chances of that happening again?”
“Well, what were the chances of it happening in the first place, but it still happened!” And so the loop of lopsided logic in my mind answered this question with doubt, fear, panic and anxiety from then on. I convinced myself that this was temporary, that as time went on I’d feel better.
I didn’t.
I went through the full year in complete denial.
It was only later in the year when I received private counselling through a charity for something completely unrelated that I became aware of the monster my own subconscious had evolved into.
Only to her, a neutral person, someone who wouldn’t judge, someone who had heard it all before and someone who could make any sense of my chaotic mind, did I tell about the narrative in my mind.
Only to her did I confess that I am living with the constant fear that everything can go wrong in a split second at any point in my life. Only she heard about the overwhelming panic I felt whilst driving on holiday in April which has appeared regularly since then with the feeling that no matter how careful a driver I am, other drivers are dangerous. Only she seemed to make sense of the moods and intense anger I felt in situations at work, with family etc which coincided with the Fatal Accident Inquiry exposing the driver of the lorry as a liar, very culpable in the accident, but protected by the law from prosecution. Only my counsellor heard that I had an anxiety attack when I got my winter coat out of the wardrobe in late Autumn as it meant Christmas was approaching. I told her about the intense guilt I felt at having counselling at all, how I felt like a phony because I only saw the accident, I was not hurt. I explained that the closer it was getting to Christmas, the more panic I was feeling. I shared with her the thoughts of disaster which attack my mind constantly, that I feared an accident or sudden illness would hit one of my loved ones over Christmas. I told her about the intense nightmares I’d had waking me in tears. I told her I never wanted to go to Queen Street again, that I cannot even look at photographs of the Duke’s statue and that footage of the big wheel and ice rink in the square make me feel physically sick. Just before Christmas she told me she had reviewed her notes on me with her manager and they had both agreed that I should consider a short course of CBT with them to treat PTSD. It felt absurd to hear that, it still does to think of it. That’s what soldiers in war zones get, that’s what victims of serious assaults feel. Not me, I wasn’t hurt. I felt embarrassed at the suggestion.
On the anniversary of the accident I travelled to Glasgow alone after work as my husband couldn’t get time off. I felt it would be a positive thing to do. To remember the victims and spend some spiritual time on it amongst others who were affected and understood. I didn’t want to ask anybody to accompany me as I didn’t think anyone else could understand. Whilst travelling in i received a message from my hubby to contact a mutual friend, Tom. He was attending with his friend Janey and they didn’t want me to go on my own. Just after the accident last year, Tom had felt so moved by the accident, he released a recording of “Mother Glasgow” to raise cash for a victims fund. I felt reassured knowing that he’d be with me. The ceremony was very formal, but also poignant. It focussed on the healing of “Body, mind and soul” and acknowledged the injuries physically, psychologically and emotionally. It recognised the meaningless of it all and the fact that it could have been prevented. Afterwards we were all invited to attend a buffet in a different building. I didn’t fancy that at all, but I also didn’t want to go home in the frame of mind I was in. I was relieved when Janey suggested we go for a cuppa nearby.
Janey is a gifted comedienne (amongst other things) and managed to lift our spirits for a wee while, but once we moved onto the subject of the accident I reached a moment of epiphany. She described how she had come across the immediate aftermath of the accident and had helped victims and police. She described to a tee the surreality of the day, the disbelief and feeling of powerlessness. How she helped police, paramedics and even helped direct traffic and put up police tape. When Janey described it she began stuttering and was clearly still in shock a whole year later. She spoke about how it had affected her head and I felt so much empathy and even relief that it wasn’t just me who felt that way. I felt so much compassion for her and wanted to tell her she was as much a victim as those physically hurt. Then it dawned on me that if I felt this compassion for her, why was I judging myself so harshly for feeling the trauma from it. My eyes filled with tears and Janey got me a clean tissue from her bag and I apologised. It was the biggest revelation is had about myself all year. I am grateful to Tom and Janey for that day as it let me look at myself with a new perspective – I had saw Janey’s hurt and saw my own in it too.

I was hurt.

Not physically, nothing you can see, but like a faulty hard drive or a dodgy processor, my head hasn’t handled what I saw and its affecting everything else I’ve tried to do since then.
Accepting that has helped a lot. It hasn’t stopped the anxiety or anything else (so far) – it didn’t stop me taking down every card and decoration in our house on Christmas Eve and cry into my husbands shoulder because I was so worried something bad was going to happen at Christmas.
It didn’t stop me worrying intensely until Boxing day that something horrible might happen at any moment, but it did help me understand why I felt that way. It has also helped me to decide to try the CBT.
I have had this blog sitting in my ‘drafts’ folder since Sunday as I’ve been worrying about the stigma attached to the anxiety and psychological issues I’ve admitted in it. There must be another 30-40 people out there that witnessed what we did at such close range. There must be others out there who feel the same and wonder if they are going mad? There are people out their who believe they weren’t hurt and think they should feel fortunate for that. It’s for those people I’ve decided to publish this. Maybe they will see themselves in a different light too. I welcome them to contact me if they feel it would help.
I’m still here, I was fortunate, but I WAS hurt.

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When the Christmas Lights Were Switched Off

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On Monday at 10:30am I finished up work for Christmas and headed home to meet my husband so we could then travel into Glasgow City Centre to do a large part of our Christmas shopping. I had worked four days in a row rising at 3am to start work at 4am,  so I was pretty tired, but excited to get into the Christmas spirit.
We got into town and after a quick bite to eat we headed to the first shop on our list in Buchanan Street. We phoned my husband’s  sister for advice on what to buy our niece  and nephew and she suggested we try a shop nearby in Queen Street. We headed there straight away and when we reached Queen Street my hubby said “let’s cross over to the other side, I think the shop is one the other side.” I had no idea that one small decision was potentially the difference between life and death for us both that day.
As we walked down that pavement we passed the Christmas fairground on George Square. A few different festive songs were competing from a few different rides, the beautiful lights shone above us and as we walked arm in arm we looked upwards and watched the big wheel slowly turn. He jokingly suggested we go on the big wheel, knowing I’d say “Absolutely not!” due to my fear of heights and we carried on walking down the street. We had to walk under scaffolding and I remember thinking to myself that the pathway was empty compared to the path across the road which was heaving with last minute Christmas shoppers just like us. As I looked over at the crowds just a few feet from us I saw the Duke of Wellington statue with his ultimate accessory,  a traffic cone, balanced upon his head.

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For those who don’t know, this cone has been removed by the police and the local council many times, but somehow always finds it’s way back onto the Duke. It’s come to represent Glasgow’s  dry sense of humour. We take our history and we put our own spin on it. As we walked past I was about to ask my husband if he had seen the news story a few days before where a slightly inebriated Santa had climbed up and joined the Duke upon his horse and was eventually escorted off by the police. There were couples, families, pensioners, just every sort of person you could think of all walking past and probably remembering the same thing and smiling to themselves just like me.
We reached the junction at Ingram street and I turned my head to press the stop traffic button, subconsciously taking in the traffic around us… Lots of buses, lots of taxis, some families in cars, a garbage lorry… And we stood for a few seconds waiting for the traffic to stop. As we waited I heard a load smack and turned my head in the direction of it thinking it was a sandwich board had fallen. The sound was immediately followed by screams all around me. It took a second for my brain to comprehend what my eyes were seeing…was the rubbish truck ACTUALLY on the pavement? 

Everything suddenly went into slow motion, every sight and sound acute. The high pitched engine noise from the truck in a low gear,  but accelerating, the shouts, screams, the other sounds… I can’t describe the fine details, I’ll have to leave it to your imagination.

In that split second the cognitive part of my brain asked a dozen questions.. Is it going to stop, is this a dream, is it a terrorist attack, is there any way to stop it.  is there any way to warn people. Meanwhile my feet were stuck to the spot,  my eyes fixed on the scene unfolding, my arms stretching out in front of me and my mouth screaming with absolute horror and helplessness! It seemed to go on for minutes, but in reality only seconds. I wished I could move, I wished I could run faster than the truck and push the people out of the way. I wished I could do SOMETHING to stop it, but it kept going on and on. People scattered, the engine noise receded as the truck continued further up the pavement, veering back onto the road and eventually crashing to a halt a few hundred feet away at the only thing which could have stopped it, a building.
Amazingly, as a credit to the character of glaswegians, people had already began running from nearby streets, towards the injured, alerted by the cacophony of noise. I have always considered myself calm in a crisis and believed that I would run to help, administer first aid, be useful in some way, but I now know in this level of crisis I would stand rooted to the spot in utter shock, urging my brain to get it together, screaming in shock.. What will I do? What can I do? Will the amount of first aid knowledge I know be of any use? The answer in my mind said said no, the injuries would be beyond my knowledge. I looked at my husband and felt my breath catch in my throat and began to sob. He looked terrified, he began to sob too. I tried to find my phone and couldn’t remember the pass code to unlock it. Focus, for goodness sake, focus, unlocked, 999, what service do you require “A bin lorry has gone into…” “WHAT SERVICE DO YOU REQUIRE ”
“OH, AMBULANCE! POLICE! EVERYTHING!”
“putting you through to ambulance now”
As it rang and rang I looked around me and kept crying out “That man’s doing cpr himself, there’s a buggy! Oh my God! Please hurry! There’s over 15 people been hit, please do something!”
“stay on the line, I’m trying a different line for you”
“Just send somebody, hurry!”
When I got off the phone my hubby and I stood and hugged and cried. Both our minds thinking the same thing, and hugging even tighter. The shock of seeing the whole accident unfold was bad enough, to all of us who witnessed it, it seemed like a scene from a movie. (Ironically, the crash scenes for World War Z were filmed right here). But the aftermath was just as awful. At the time I felt so helpless and useless,  since then I’ve read in awe the accounts of people giving first aid,  comfort and practical help. There’s seems to be a theme where those of us who witnessed it were so shocked at what we witnessed, whilst those who were nearby and heard the accident were more able to run into the middle of it all and help. This feels like an insensitive thing to say,  but true,  that those of us who saw exactly what happened would know the chances of survivng a man vs garbage truck were slim to zero, and if there were survivors,  it would be difficult to know how to help.
Despite this I looked around us to see if there was anyone needing help that we could help with. Across from us was a mother lying next to a baby buggy, we both wept when we saw this, but could see that many people were tending to both the mother and the child in the buggy. We saw a gentleman administering Cpr to someone a little bit further away, further up was someone in the road who was being tended to buy others,  and further up we could see more victims, shopping bags strewn, people crying, and still the Christmas music was playing, still the beautiful lights lit up the street…
It looked like everyone unjured was being tended to by passers by, a few of us had alerted emergency services so we turned to the street corner we had been waiting at and began redirecting shoppers back into Ingram street. Many had children with them,  so we had to whisper what happened so they knew not to take their children round. We watched their faces drop with shock and how they turned to usher their children back the way they came. My hubby had to onto the road to explain what had happened to taxi drivers and other drivers trying to manoeuvre around the street.
We kept stopping and hugging, sobbing and shaking our heads. What was this all about, how could this happen in one of the busiest streets on one of the busiest days of the year. I bent over the railings next to us, my stomach was threatening to bring up the lunch we had grabbed earlier. The nausea stayed with me untillater  that night. We looked up the street and saw clothing and sheets being laid over the faces of those who didn’t make it. I started a silent prayer in my head and ended up just saying “God help them, God help them!”
After what seemed like an eternity, we began to hear sirens  approaching. Community patrol people began stopping the traffic to let them through. The queue of buses emptied, the buses were locked and abandoned where they were. The street filed with paramedic cars,  ambulances and police. A policeman began to take control and started ushering people away. “We are closing this area, move along!”. So we walked a short distance down the street and sat on a step and cried again. We phoned our daughter and told her we are okay, just in case you see news reports about an accident in Glasgow. I phoned my mum and said the same thing through sobs, my mum stayed crying too and said “just come home.” My husband phoned his sister and she told us to find somewhere warm and drink something hot and sweet. She felt awful that she had directed us to that very street a few minutes before.
We really didn’t know what to do. We had just witnessed people being killed. Our hearts were breaking for them.
We went to a shopping centre and my hubby got a coffee,  I got water. When I went to pay for our stuff a woman became irate with me for not moving out of her way quickly enough. The woman who served me was annoyed that I wanted to pay by debit card and told me to buy crisps to make it up to £4, I put my debit card in the wrong way,  I couldn’t remember the pin number, I forgot to take it back out. I sat at our table and stared into space. The centre was full of shoppers, blissfully unaware. I envied them, but felt reassured  being somewhere where nobody was crying,  screaming,  running…
My daughter phoned to say she was on her way into town. I think she felt like she needed to be near to us. We visited a few shops, for some reason I felt I needed to do something normal. Something to convince us that Glasgow was safe, normal and happy. Somewhere that people didn’t have a traumatic look in their  eyes.
We eventually went home and tried to forget, we watched meaningless TV programmes,  but neither of us could tell you what happened in the programmes as we both just stated in the direction of the TV whilst our minds were replaying the scene we watched earlier. We both randomly cried, hugging each other tightly, saying we loved the other over and over.
The next morning I read a report about it and one small sentence made me cry again. It said the woman had fainted, the mother beside the buggy had fainted. She was okay, her baby was okay and the relief was the first tears of happiness I’d cried since the accident. The few days following it were very emotional. Just reading a poem about it, or a list of the names, or photographs would set us off. Today I read that the gentleman giving CPR was actually a surgeon who had passed nearby when it happened. It’s like pieces of a jigsaw fitting together making up the bigger picture of what happened. I’m sure there are a hundred other experiences just like ours and our trauma is very insignificant compared to that of those injured or bereaved. I can’t imagine their pain, I’ve prayed for them, what a horrible thing to happen ANY time, never mind 3 days before Christmas. 
Christmas day was different this year. People on social networking sites urged others to switch off their tree lights on Christmas eve, but ironically our tree lights fused all by themselves,  so we have had them off all Christmas anyway.
We spent a modest day at my parents house. We had a beautiful dinner, we joked, sang and chatted, all the whole being thankful we were there to celebrate it and recognising that there were spaces at other family’s tables.
Our own day was all the more poignant because my dad had been admitted to hospital on the same day of the accident after a fall and had gotten home on Christmas eve, albeit a bit bruised and sore.

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So I’m planning to meet my husband in Glasgow tonight (boxing day) after his work so we can lay some flowers where it all happened and try to process it all and hope that something good somewhere will come from all the pain. 6 people died, 10 were injured. I feels like such a meaningless accident which has taken six very meaningful lives.
Meanwhile, I’m holding my loved  ones extra close now.
If my husband hadn’t made us cross the road when he did…

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All aboard the crazy train.

Believe me, it’s not through laziness that I haven’t blogged since June. Neither was it because I had no news, or “news” we had to hide ( we wish!). But the past 3 months have been hard going in many ways and I didn’t want a big negative blog again. I didn’t want to break the happily ever after story from the last blog. I finished on such a positive note that it was better to leave it at that. So the past few days two things happened to make me decide to blog again.

One is that it was my birthday yesterday and it’s awakened me to how fast the days, months, years are passing – so I’ve decided on a new plan. I’m going to create another blog dedicated to 50 things I want to do before I’m 50. I turned 43 and I’m sure most people who hit it feel the same, but just never admit it! I only feel 33. I can’t quite find a 43 year old identity to fit into. I’m just not ready to be “in my 40’s”. I have an aunty born on the very same day as me and she has a 22 month old grandson already. Meanwhile I’m still trying to become a mum again. It’s just as if I’m on a train that keeps moving from station to station, not stopping long enough for me to enjoy each destination. I got off about 10 stops back and lingered a bit longer than I should. I can’t even begin to comprehend that I’ll be 50 in 7 years. Even typing that fills me with dread. I am Cat, more than my age, more than a label, more than a stereotype. Goodness sake, get me off this train right now, it’s going far too fast!

Phew! The other reason is that there’s small indications that things might finally be improving with our lives.

Our move to the bungalow in July was supposed to be a fresh start, but it just became a continuation of the drama which has affected our lives for most of the year. Upon moving in we discovered a small patch of mould in our bedroom. Our landlord was AWOL for a month on holiday and by the time he returned and finally began organising other repairs 8 weeks later it was too late – I had developed allergic asthma and a large quantity of our furniture and belongings were affected by the mould so badly that we had to throw them out.

Simultaneously, I bought a car for the first time in 4 years. It went like this – bought 2nd hand car from dealership, put car in in independent garage for health check, was told it was unsafe and not even legal. Returned car to dealership, got it back a week later “fixed”, did the health check again, still unsafe, still illegal. Returned car to dealership demanding refund, received big fat NOTHING. Got Consumer Trading Standards involved, they did all they could, still BIG FAT NOTHING. My next step is paying for a court summons.

Worse still, under pressure to find somewhere to live which wasn’t making me ill, I found a nearby flat. It went like this, viewed it and liked it, but hubby hadn’t seen it. Told landlord I’d need to wait til he saw it – landlord said “I have 8 other people interested, whoever gives me a deposit first gets the flat”. Considering the urgency, I put down the deposit on the flat after emailing photos to the hubby and persuading him it was okay. Hubby was due to view flat 2 days later, owner cancelled quoting family emergency. Didn’t get a chance to view until we had the keys – hubby hated it. When I had a better look at it without being under pressure from landlord I noticed many safety, security and quality issues throughout the flat. I immediately contacted the owner, his response was “Tough luck”. I returned the keys to him within hours so he could offer it to the other interested parties. I learned a hard lesson. He flatly refused to refund. Whilst I was frantically looking up tenants rights and landlord legislation, he was finding new excuses every single day not to return the money and finally we received a recorded delivery letter from him stating it was a “holding fee” and that we were not entitled to it back. This from the owner claiming to be a lawyer. The intended effect was to intimidate us and stop us from pursuing him about it. The ACTUAL effect – I laughed. Then I laughed some more. Then I read the letter again and laughed even louder. Then I sent him a text: “Thank you for your recorded delivery letter containing a signed confession that you have broken the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 and the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988. It will be very useful in the legal action I intend to take against you now”. I am 100% confident that I will be refunded in time, but at the point when it happened it left us without the means to find somewhere else to get out of a property which was making me ill.

Anyway, somehow, we found somewhere, moved in, prayed it was the end of our troubles and tried to get on with things. We had to find someone to look after our dog as the place we found was 4th floor and not pet friendly – if anyone feels like judging for that then I challenge them to walk in our shoes – lost a months deposit and becoming more ill every day in our current home. It broke all our hearts to see him go, I cried every day for over a week and still miss him so much. Within days of this I walked into our bathroom to be surrounded by 30 or so wasps. The day after that I suddenly lost one of my jobs. We’ve had other issues too – Health issues and other fights whilst still facing our own personal challenges such as Trying to conceive.

On THAT subject, we have still not given up and it’s something we still want with every fibre of our being. But we have moved to a stage of not holding our breath – still thinking about it every day, still wishing so much we were joining the ever increasing number of our loved ones becoming parents over and over again. Still praying about it, still trying to find a way, just a little less in your face about it. Before we were married we used to buy a little thing every week to put away in our faith box. A rattle, a bottle, a packet of bibs.. 4 years later we had accumulated a lot of things. We came to a decision, lets give them away. Let someone use them, if it happens for us we can buy it all again and this time it will be without the fear and doubt and heavy hearts that we’ve had whilst buying all this stuff.  So we’ve passed it all on to someone who really needed it. There was no point in storing it away and carrying it on to the next house and the next house. Giving it away is our way of sowing, hoping we reap in the same way sometime soon.

Anyway, new flat is lovely. Private estate, own garage, own mailbox, spare room which the hubby has converted into his music room – but which will be available should we be blessed with a small person whilst we are here. My boss has given me a little car to use whilst I’m sorting out that situation. In amongst the chaos we managed to squeeze in a week travelling around the UK doing childlike , fun things and laughing like a pair of 5 years olds. We built sandcastles, flew a kite, paddled in the sea, held starfish, posed with waxworks, slept in a gypsy carriage, fed giraffes and kangaroos and laughed at a daft monkey perched on a tortoise.

So fingers crossed we get the money back for the car and the flat soon and everything else sorts itself out somehow, but at least for this past week or so things have been calm so I’m tentatively calling it a ceasefire. No more disasters for us now, we are well overdue some good, happy, healthy,  fun and light-hearted times, so bring it on baby, we are ready. Bring on November, bring on December, bring on Christmas, new year and whatever exciting things are coming for us all. I’ve changed trains and I’m taking a detour. Woowoo!!

 

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Not so happily ever after?

Once upon a time I went to see house rental with my mum and I fell in love with it for myself. That night, my mum sent me a text at midnight saying she wasn’t going to rent it, my husband decided we would rent it, even though he’d never even seen it and even though we couldn’t really afford it.
A month later we were holding the keys to a beauty which we thought was our long term happily ever after home.
It had beautiful victorian high ceilings with original plasterwork, a sweeping staircase with the original stripped back banisters. We felt so lucky. The hideous paint jobs didn’t put us off

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nor the grotty carpets

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and wildly overgrown garden.

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“Potential” became our buzz word and we spent every spare minute redecorating it with the help of our mate Dave.

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I took on more work to cover the extra cost and the two of us spoke excitedly above how great the spare room and the garden would be for a baby…maybe this is what God was waiting for us to do? Now we are ready!
When the handles feel off nearly every door, we laughed. It was a bit slap stick after all. When the lock fell off the storm doors, we joked that it better not be an omen of things to come. When we realised the bath taps turned all the way round when you tried to shut them off.. We scratched our heads and wondered what on earth would happen next. We didn’t have to wait long as the wrought iron front gate dropped off its hinge shortly afterwards. Then the gas meter broke, then the gas boiler stopped working. “it’s a very old house” said the owner “you have to accept some idiosyncrasies”.
The engineer she sent told us the boiler was a write off, but the owner wanted him to repair it. So we waited 2 months without hot water and heating whilst she spent £600 trying to repair it, when she could have bought a new one with a warranty for a wee bit more. After 2 months of this, we took matters into our own hands and applied for a grant for a new boiler. We were successful and a brand new super energy efficient boiler was installed – and you might think that the owner would be delighted that her property had an upgrade – but we didn’t even receive a thank you.
Around this time, whilst working on the jungle garden one day, we realised two things – the cellar below the kitchen had a leak (turned out to be washing machine installed wrongly) and worst of all, the waste pipe from the loo sprayed over the top of the garden each time it was flushed. YUK.
We got fed up looking at the grotty carpets, especially our bedroom one, and as the owner was unresponsive to our texts about that (and all the other repairs) we decided to throw it out and save for a new one. We didn’t envisage that even a discounted carpet would cost around £200, so we started saving a wee bit each month for it.
Meanwhile, the shower began to leak into the kitchen below, in the end causing the oven to expire and the owner said she was going to have some sort of autopsy on it and planned to give us her used oven from her own house. Three weeks later, without an oven I used every day before (“What did you use it every day for? chips?” – The owner) we finally received a new oven.
And also finally, after 4 months of bare floorboards, we’d save enough fir a carpet. We choose this one

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I decided I had nothing to lose by politely asking the owner if she would like to put something towards it, seeing as we’d told her 6 months before that it needed replacing. We really didn’t expect the response. “I don’t think it is written in your lease that you should replace things then complain to me about it “.
It was as if every dream we had working away in our minds for the house came to a screeching halt. We were shocked to hear that our efforts to improve the property weren’t appreciated, but resented. It gave us a completely new perspective on the house and we stopped the daydreaming and had a realistic look at the picture of our home. After moving in and spending £300 on paint, £200 on flooring, installing a £1500 boiler and not to mention the time and energy we put into decorating, repairing, cleaning & taming the house and Garden… We realised it was no longer a pleasure. We’d chosen that house because we wanted to use it to entertain friends and family, to use the music room for practice and hopefully have a baby to use the spare room. The reality was we were working constantly to afford the rent, council tax and heating costs and we’re left with no time to appreciate it. It was a burden and discovering the owners strange attitude added to the burden. We had a long discussion about it and with reluctant and heavy hearts we decided that we needed out. I texted the owner to ask for her email address ~ my thinking was that this was the most reliable way to communicate ~ and it turns out this was her thinking too, and for that reason she refused to give me her email address saying
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Quite unbelievable. She’s a lawyer. So I texted our months notice to her instead.
The next day, CID came round our doors regarding a serious crime which had taken place in the street beside our house the night before.
Then, unbeknown to us, during all this time, the magical mystery bath taps were quietly supplying a tiny fountain of eternal youth behind the kitchen wall tiles and a wondrous mushroom harvest was going to spring up in our tiny kitchen the day after we gave our notice too. Both these incidents confirmed to us that we were doing the right thing. We instantly felt relieved, buy also very disappointed that it had turned out this way.
So this is my long winded way of telling you that we’ve moved house, and why. Most people think we are nuts to have given up such a beautiful home so close to the town centre. In reality, we’d have been nuts to continue living there.
Our new home is about half the size, is on the edge of town and needs a lot of work in the garden. But it’s a lovely quiet street, it’s cosy, the rent is lower, council tax lower and pretty sure the heating bill will be halved. The bus route for the hubs commute is 200 yards away and the daughters workplace is only a 10 minute walk. The pressure is off, the landlord is very down to earth and approachable and we feel able to relax here.
We are not rushing into redecorating, we are taking our time to get our breath back and enjoying the summer.
We no longer have the extra bedroom for a potential small person to inhabit, but that’s fine for now.
So we ARE living happily ever after, it’s just not the happily ever after we imagined before, but that’s okay x

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Financially Infertile

A couple of years ago I joined an online forum to find advice and support from other women who were fighting infertility.
One conversation thread on the forum was entitled “The Ultimate Venting Thread!” and was eventually made into a “sticky” thread (permanent) due to the popularity of it. It provided a platform for IF sufferers to release some steam. Sometimes it was outrageously hilarious and full of dark humour, other times it was touching, heartbreaking and poignant. Now and then, pregnant ladies would wander onto the thread out of curiosity and many posted comments in the thread about how bitter, jealous and sad we all were. As you can imagine, that went down well, and the outcome was that a private FB group was created for a handful of the forum members as a safe place to talk, away from any judgemental and ignorant comments.
The group began with 12 members Evie, B, Steph, KK, Benny, Jenn, Zina, me, Jax, Grace, Jess & Hina. Every one of us been trying for years to have a baby. I felt so much for these women that I prayed and prayed for them. The trials of medications,  treatments, emotions and hormones meant the group eventually fragmented into smaller and smaller groups until we were scattered again, which is so sad. But there is a twist. Amazingly, really amazingly, 10 out of the 12 have had children or are soon to become mothers. Four via IVF,  2 naturally, 1 by surrogate, 2 I’m not sure which method and one through Clomid (the fertility drug I’ve done 7 cycles of). So that just leaves B & I.
I am hopeful for B and I’m still praying. The success rate for our group is nothing short of a miracle and I don’t find it hard to believe that it will be her turn next. Soon I hope!
Yet for my hub and me that hope has run dry. We have tried every single thing within our ability and after 3 years we have nothing left to try. If you’ve been reading our blog you’ll know we’ve been through every test we can have. We’ve fought tooth and nail for help and treatment, even went through the government health minister. We’ve prayed, we’ve had others pray. We’ve given up so much to increase or chances and kept positive despite the hurdles we have faced. We’ve bitten or tongue through every ignorant, judgemental or insensitive comment and went through every official channel available. We’ve cried, or family has cried, our friends have cried, yet we are no further closer to having a child together than when we started trying over 3 years ago. Without the love & support we have from our loved ones, I think we would have run out of hope a lot sooner. But it has happened now. It’s not something we can fabricate, we are just admitting that there is nothing else WE can do.
The bottom line for us is, the only thing standing between us and having a child together now, is money. And it’s that simple.

Thanks for reading.

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Why I Haven’t Posted For a While.

1. I have no news regarding our journey to be parents.
2. We’ve both been feeling REALLY down recently as we passed the 3 yr mark since trying to conceive and I didn’t want to post anything negative as it bores people and frustrates me.
3. I’ve become aware that my audience are a very mixed bunch and some don’t like too much information put online, so I’ve been holding back.
4. Lots of other difficult poop happening in our lives which we needed to deal with, but didn’t want to share.
5. Close friends and family going through difficult poop too, which put things into perspective at times.
6. My workload has changed from 4 days on/3 days off to 6 days on/1 off. Plus the housework, gardening and recent difficult poop meant no time to blog.

If you want to know what you can do to help:
1. Pray if you are a prayer, or send all your positive thoughts and words our way.
2. Listen. Really listen.
3. Don’t feel like you need to give a solution or advice (Eg relax, stop trying, stop stressing). After 3 years I can assure you we are experts.
4. Win the lottery and give/lend us £7k for ivf. It’s probably our only hope now, bar a miracle.
5. Just be the wonderful people you are all already being. We appreciate our family and friends support so, flipping much that we can’t express it enough.

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The Grass is Always Greener

Good day to you, beautiful blog reading person.

I revisited my own blog today to remind myself of the new year acronym and the new attitude as now and then I get a down day which I need to bolster myself up to get through. Yesterday I had that down day. My hubby is so finely tuned into my mood that he can tell right away that something is getting to me, so last night he did that face to face thing where he told me to get it off my chest. I had to admit that sometimes I think we wont have children together. Sometimes I get very cynical and start feeling that God has closed His ears to any prayers about it, I worry that we don’t have the means to raise the cash soon enough for IVF and that our chance at having even one child together will pass. I worry, also, that the fertility drug which I am on my 7th month of, will do permanent damage to my health as it has affected the amount of migraines badly, which affects my concentration, eyesight, balance and sleep. So I’ve decided that I won’t take the Clomid again for the time being, which is a huge decision if you remember the hoops I jumped through to get it in the first place.

I actually don’t know what to say to you right now to counterbalance that previous paragraph. A good blog writer would have a springy, bouncy comeback to balance out such a statement. I feel all out of springy-bouncefulness at this moment. So lets just pretend I didn’t actually say that. Unless, of course, you have a direct line to God to ask if/when on our behalf, or unless you have a spare £6k on you, Or unless you know the actual reason why it hasn’t happened for a couple like us who both work, live healthy lifestyles, don’t drink, have a stable, loving home, a spacious house and garden and extended family desperate for a grandchild, neice, nephew….. Or unless you have some actual medical knowledge which will make the difference which doesn;t include ‘relax’, ‘stop tryiing’, ‘stop thinking about it, ‘focus on something else’, ‘take a holiday’ ETC. Unless any of the above apply…lets just pretend I didn’t actually say it.

In other news:

The hotel I work for was taken over by new management who asked for a snag list and an improvement list. The outcome is there are many changes planned which will most probably increase my hours. My workmate also told me she needed me to cover her Mondays until June for her college placement. Not only that, but that she is registered with an employment agency for nursery work from June onwards, so she will be leaving as soon as she gets work. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

The grown up daughter managed to get herself a much more local job which fits in with her college course and not only does that make me very proud, but it also makes her much happier. No more languishing on the bus for 2 hours…

The husband’s band is growing in it’s popularity, success, maturity, songwriting and performances. They did an amazing gig at the weekend in Clydebank (Hub’s hometown) which also makes me proud 🙂 They will be recording an EP in a couple of months and launching it in Glasgow soon afterwards. It’s exciting times!

Other exciting times coming up include our wedding anniversary trip (Changed from York to Liverpool) where we will be having a beatle-tastic time. I am so excited about this trip that I want to start packing ALREADY. Also, we have decided to keep a few ex-battery hens in our garden this year. So we have been researching how to look after them, what type of coop they need, their feed, bedding etc. We intend to rescue some ex-battery hens via a charity which re-homes them. We are also planning to grow our own food in containers in our garden. We are both off work this weekend so we are spending some of it maintaining our garden and planning the repairs/improvements we need to begin hen keeping and growing food.

These plans are good, they are future wonderfuls, they give us good things to fiocus on. Our current and future wonderfuls might be made more difficult if we had a toddler to consider. Could we plan our anniversary trip as easily, no. Would having a baby here make it more difficult to fulfil the plans for our garden & hens, yes. Would I be able to work as much as I do with a small child to look after, no. We wouldn’t have the lie-ins we have, I wouldn’t have the free time to be creative, to learn piano, to relax, to attend gigs. Maybe there are even parents out there with small children who envy our life at the moment. The grass is always greener. Having been on this side of the fence and as much as I appreciate the freedom we have and as much as I enjoy the spontaneity and variety in my life, I would gladly give up the freedom we now enjoy, to spend evenings in bathing our child, reading it bedtime stories, getting up early with it, night feeds, changing stinky nappies….. Every tired, smelly, sticky moments would be enjoyed, remembered, appreciated and loved. I’d gladly swap my clean, tidy and spacious house for a lived in, cluttered, busy and noisy home with a bouncing baby (or two). The future and current wonderfuls are great. I do love life, I am happy and I know I am blessed immensely. I want to add to this blessed life and share it with some children with my husband. I don’t think it’s too much to want.

I can only hope.

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Current Wonderfuls

Second time typing this. First time was on my phone, took 2 hours and was lost when the app crashed and needed manually removing. A-ha, said I, pre-empted that problem by copying all the text to the clipboard before attempting to upload. Unfortunately, my phone had other ideas and I was faced with an empty clipboard. Pants!

Anyway, I had challenged myself to find at least one wonderful in each day this week and try to share them with you. Don’t worry, I’m not a raving looney now, I know things aren’t all wonderful. In fact, some days were downright STINKIN! Like the day I tripped outside my parents’ flat and skint my knee and both hands, tearing a hole in the knee of my jeans… and like the day when I started round 7 of the fertility drug as the previous one failed again. Anyway, here’s my attempt!

Saturday: Today’s wonderful was a moment in my youngest nephew’s 4th birthday. He was having a great wee afternoon and at one point I asked if he’d like me to count his age. (It’s something we used to do in the nursery classes, they loved it!). So I tapped his knees and counted “One!”, tapped his tummy and counted “Two!”, his shoulders “Three!”, and his head “Four!” He looked amazed, and still wanting reassurance asked his Gran “What age am I today, right now?”. “Four!” she replied and his face lit up as if the penny had finally dropped. It was as if he had been waiting to turn 4 for so long that he felt like it would never actually happen! He ran through to his older brother in the next room and shouted “Guess what? I’m four right now!”. He was so happy and it brings a smile to my face every time I remember it

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Sunday: My hubby phoned me from his work at lunch time on Sunday to relay some feedback he had received after posting the recording we did together 2 years onto his Facebook page. I don’t plan to continue singing, but it was a big boost to my confidence that I had tried something a bit different and receive compliments for it.

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Sunday was also a day my friend texted me with her weight loss update. She has done SO well and it really made me happy to hear she was succeeding because I remember how it felt almost a year ago changing my lifestyle and I know the determination it takes. Well done!

Monday: Monday was a bummer, I ended up close to tears towards the end of it, but the wonderful in Monday came in the form of a healing hug. We all know someone who gives proper, close, warm, healing hugs. My hubby gives the best healing hugs in the world. I knew this about him a long time before we became a couple. The good thing is he is a very huggly person, so if you ever need one, just ask, lol. Thank God for those hugs.

Tuesday: My wonderful today was my mum, she’s actually a wonderful most days. Great listener, funny, enthusiastic with almost every idea I come up with and makes so many sacrifices for those she loves. If I’m even 5% as good a mother as she is, then I’m doing well.

Wednesday: Today my adult daughter had to have 2 tooth extractions in preparation for the braces she is getting next week. Instead of shuffling home and looking for the pity vote as most of us would likely do, she got on a bus and went to her college class 10 miles away. She is strong, brave, determined and independent. She is fluent in sarcasm, but full of kindness to those she loves. I’m proud to say she’s my daughter, and I felt that pride today, and it was wonderful.

Also on Wednesday was my niece’s 8th birthday. She is extremely cute and comes out with THE funniest one-liners you’ve ever heard. She is quoted often in our home, always accompanied by a smile. Although we live too far away to see her on her birthday, we were able to follow her day via social networking and texts from her mum. It was great to see her having such a good day. I always tell her I’m going to steal her one day, and every time I say it she shouts “Yes! Steal me now!” ❤

Thursday: Well, I struggled with my wonderful today, so let me introduce you to my wellies

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Aren’t they just gorgeous. I love them because 1. My mum bought me them. 2. because they are Zebra print, and I am slightly in love with anything zebra print….and I take random photographs of them…

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and 3. I love them because when I got them my legs were too…er…. round to fit them, but after losing 2.5 stone last year they fit me perfect now. Every time I put them on (and it has been often this past week, CRAZY weather everywhere!) I remember the success I had last year.

Friday: Well, today was valentines day, but we opted not to buy cards and gifts so we could spend the money instead on gig tickets. Unfortunately they sold out within minutes, so there we were on valentines day with not much to show for it…or so it seems. Ye see, I always tell my hubby romance is in the small things we do every day, like paying compliments, sending good texts and even in the lovely cuppas we make each other. How would a card be able to show that kind of love? Heck, I have a husband who writes songs about me and for me, then plays some of them with his brilliant band in packed pubs and clubs. How insignificant and cheap does a card sound next to that? I am blessed with a romantic man, and no card or gift on one day of the year can come close to how that feels. Heaven knows I waited long enough for it!

So there you go, my wee exercise in counting my blessings. I’ll continue it personally and wont bore you with my ramblings every week!

I hope every single one of you has a week full of WONDERFULS too. love and HUGS xxx

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Happy Today!

I have been reflecting a lot recently about blogs as I noticed 2 similar posts from 2 wildly different blogs and it made me realise that the subject matter may vary, but the spirit in which your blog is written can make a difference to how it’s received,

The two posts I’m referring to are here and here. The first opens with “I find myself often missing my current wonderfuls simply by waiting for my future wonderfuls to happen”. The second states “Don’t put off living”. What do they have in common? Both are saying “Be happy NOW!”

Too often our desires or dreams can take over and the balance between focussing on past, present and future becomes lop sided. We become so focussed on what we don’t yet have, and miss the here and now that is ours for the taking.

In addition to this “never being happy”, our blog audience will become as fed up with never achieving the dream as we are…and who wants to read the same old thing every time. Personally…I’d be hitting the ‘unfollow’ button quickish! Unless you’re going for the pity vote. If you know me at all you’ll know i HATE pity.

So, in this vein, I would like to show you some “happy already” events which have been part of our lives in the past few years (whilst still hoping to have that baby)… and some that are still to come. We are more than just a couple hoping to have our own children, we are much more interesting than that…honest!

Ladies first, in the past I have managed to graduate from university

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Ive had paintings in a couple of different exhibitions

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My husband was a solo acoustic artist for a few years and I was his manager, graphic artist, website designer, promoter, photographer…etc

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I even helped him write some songs and recorded some backing vocals for him (not my forte!, but I gave it a go!)

This song was recorded and produced by our friend Kev Gresham and written by myself and Steven, copyrighted to SG Leonard.

As for the future, well I’m looking forward to rearing some butterflies soon, and I’ve recently took delivery of everything I need to develop my artistic skills, but in a different medium this time. All will be revealed.

Meanwhile, Steven works hard through the day as a Comfort Specialist(!) and by night and weekend he lives and breathes his beloved band, The Face on the Moon, who are steadily becoming more and more successful. He writes new songs every month and his band bring them to life! They are a lovely bunch of guys and destined for success. I couldn’t be more proud of them every time they play.

So that’s how we’ve been enjoying the here and now moments, we don’t sit around lamenting the fact that we haven’t had any children together yet, we seize every opportunity to do exciting, new things and LIVE whilst we wait.

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Finding Kindness This Holiday Season

Had to share this as it inspired me this dark, cold morning, and that’s an achievement!

If You Don't Stand For Something

Something happened in the past couple of days. I’m not really sure what happened, or what caused it for that matter, but I changed. The stress of the holidays left me and I found myself embracing the good and the purpose of the holiday. I let go of the materialistic side of it all and embraced the spirit of the season.

Tonight, while taking a break from my crafting, I was browsing through Facebook when I saw post after post of people complaining. I know, Facebook is the complaining Capitol of the internet, but something caught my attention. A “well meaning” person complained about the fact that people need to stop complaining about the petty things and just be happy to have your family and health. While she meant well and wanted people to remember the holidays and enjoy them, she fell short on the delivery. I commented to remind…

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