The difference a year makes

This time last year things between us were not good. We had been married for a whole 6 months. When we married I felt happier than I ever remember being in my life. Three months into our marriage we had our wonderful honeymoon in California. But within days of returning home things began to go wrong. My husband was not himself, he was showing signs of dementia or so I thought. However it turned out to be a mixture of anxiety attacks, and an over indulgence in secret vodka drinking.

The anxiety attacks were dealt with by the taking of anti depressants. The alcohol abuse is an ongoing situation, but at least I now know what I am dealing with. At the time I was extremely angry, I felt that I could not trust my husband. I felt betrayed.  More than anything I was angry with myself for not realising what had been going on.

Owl still drinks but, we never go out to the pub anymore. Back in March Owl had a fall in the road  due to his legs giving way. His alcohol level had dropped. I took him to hospital with a cut head and broken hand. There he was given some medication to replace the alcohol he hadn’t had. He was promised help by the hospital clinic. This didn’t materialise other than one appointment where he was told that he is a binge drinker and should cut down for a week then stop. Ha ha what planet did that advice come from.

Anyway, for a time Owl was not able to do much at all. Gradually though he has become stronger and fitter. He has been very busy working in our garden doing all the things he should have done last year but wasn’t in the right place to do anything much except sleep.

The shed that I bought for him last year was finally erected. Owl began by making it stronger in places by making wooden braces. He painted the shed forest green.shed 1  shed 3 before adding fixtures for everything to go inside, there is a purpose build space for everything that goes in there.IMG_1944 then he painted the old shed green to match the new one. IMG_1947 the back gate was also painted green to match. This also involved taking off the ironmongery to be painted black.back gate When he had done that he reorganised the space near to the back gate which meant adding a hanging basket bracket to the wall as a hose tidy.under magnolia tree Once all this had been done he turned his attention to the hedges that he had hired someone to cut a few weeks prior. He was not happy with the way they were looking. He spent the next couple of weeks cutting the hedges by hand. hedge 1 now he is simultaneously working on the five bar gate and taking up the decking at the front of the house.hedge 3 Oh and I nearly forgot he has painted all the fences under the hedges and along the outside of the house.

None of these things would have been possible a year or even 6 months ago. I am so pleased with the progress he is making. I am also pleased that he has even begun to apply for work outside the home. Ok so I have been applying for jobs on his behalf but he has sent his CV to some places too. Step by step we are getting back to where we should be.

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Better than before

I recently discovered Betternotbroken a fellow blogger who has escaped from an abusive relationship. I have only read a few of her posts one of them being four sly abusive tactics. Reading this post I recognised these signs although at the time I hadn’t figured them out.

Sleep derivation, yes I was subjected to that, I would be asleep when he came into the room shook me awake and began talking (rambling about anything) if I started to fall asleep again he would shake me again “I’m talking to you.” This would sometimes go on for hours even though all he was doing was going round and round in a circle telling me the same things over and over.

He would insist that I join him in the pub, or often it would be to collect him from the pub. I would end up sitting at a table with our boys for hours on end whilst he talked to his ‘mates’. Sometimes he would buy me an orange juice but he wouldn’t bring it to me. He would be too busy having a conversation with one of his fellow drunks. He would have the same conversation with each mate as they came in. Everyone in the pub knew who I was, I knew most of their faces, I also knew their names because he talked about them a lot, I wasn’t sure which name belonged to which face though. I couldn’t make a scene in front of all his mates, what would they think of me. He was very popular, everyone liked him.

How many times did he tell me how much he fancied the barmaid, he could give her one! It didn’t matter where we were but if he saw a good looking woman, he could always give her one. It didn’t matter that he was married and his wife was there. There was one woman who was a regular in the pub, she was not good looking, she was another drunk, she also had a downs syndrome daughter. (I did feel sorry for her to a degree). My husband would spend far more time talking to her buying her drinks, than he ever did me or our children. (I wasn’t totally surprised when they began living together after we divorced).

When I turned 40 I decided that yes I did want to have a party, not to celebrate being 40 but to celebrate being alive, I had been in remission for a year. I asked my husband to organise it. At the last minute he booked the function room at the pub, I would have preferred somewhere else but that didn’t matter as long as my family and friends were there. He managed to stay for an hour.  He didn’t even go next door to the bar, he went home!

Slow sabotage. He would tell me that I was fat, and yes I had put on weight after having his children. Whenever he felt guilty for spending too much time in the pub, he bought me chocolate, even though I was trying to diet. On mothers day or my birthday, he bought me chocolate (often end of date, price reduced). He would often produce lovely sweet desserts for me to eat, if I failed to eat it all, I didn’t appreciate the effort he had made for me. So although he told me that I was fat he did everything he could to stop me for losing weight. For many years I was told that I was ” Fat, stupid, ugly, with a  brain like a sieve.” I was lucky to have him as nobody else would have me. I couldn’t wear make up or have nice clothes, I lived in baggy t-shirts, sweatshirts and jogging trousers. After our marriage ended I began wearing nice clothes again. Now I prefer skirts to trousers.

When the children were very small I had a number of part time jobs. In theory he would come home from work and I would go to work. Only this didn’t actually happen. Sometimes he would be late home (because he had stopped for a drink) so I would be late getting to work. Other times he didn’t come home, instead I would have to ring in sick or have a reason for not going to work. Gradually I realised that because of him I was slowly becoming unemployable. Who would want to employ me when I couldn’t be relied upon to turn up on time if at all.

There were other ways that he undermined me, like constantly telling me that my friends were not nice people and they were just using me. I shouldn’t trust my friends. If he came home and found that I had a friend with me he either went to the pub or else hid upstairs in our room until they had gone. He was making my friends feel guilty for being there. Gradually most of my friends stopped visiting.

In the days before I had a mobile phone, my husband would phone me from work numerous times each day. He was checking that I was ok. I couldn’t go anywhere without telling him. If I was late getting home from the school run because I had chatted to one of my friends on the way home he would know, because I wasn’t there when he called. When I got my first mobile phone he was able to call me wherever I was. It didn’t matter where I was, for whatever reason, he would be constantly phoning me. When I was out with my mother she would get so fed up with the phone calls that she would tell me to turn the phone off. Of course I never could.

By this time the only times I ever went out without the boys was with my mother. If I was going out for any reason and needed my husband to look after our sons, he would be out until I was due to leave. I would be panicking that he wouldn’t get home in time for me to go.

When I was out ie my mum’s graduation, he would call me with an emergency that meant I had to rush home. I only ever went out 2 or 3 times a year.  (not including day to day stuff).

All this stuff was just how my life was day to day, nothing major, there was no violence, just slow drip drip control, separate and defeat. Once I finally had enough and managed to bring our marriage to an end (the abuse intensified for the 7 months were we under the same roof). It was a difficult time but I fought so hard to get out of that situation.

Moving forward a few years, I was at a party with a friend, when I met Keith. I liked him and we swapped email addresses and phone numbers. By the time I got home he had text me and emailed me. Over the next week or so we exchanged emails and text messages. We talked about meeting up the following weekend. Then he asked me why my marriage had ended. I told him that my husband had been emotionally abusive. Keith then admitted to me that he had been emotionally abusive to his wife, in the end she killed herself. ( He was a respected member of his local community). We talked about my husband and I said that I didn’t think my husband was aware of what he was doing to me. Keith told me that my husband knew exactly what he was doing. I declined to get involved with Keith. I had fought so hard to get out of my marriage that there was no way I was going to put myself back in that situation, especially knowing in advance what he would be like. Oddly he still thought I would go out with him. It took weeks of ignoring his messages before he finally left me alone.

 

I used to be a mummy

I used to be a mummy to four little rug rats (Prodigal, Statto, Pug and Skater). These little boys would run rings around their mummy. I always felt that I must be a bad mummy as I couldn’t control my brood. They never did what I said, they thought my living room was a) a football pitch, b) a wrestling ring.

Sometimes they were so naughty that I would stand in the middle of the room and scream. That got their attention for a while. Other times I would put on my coat and shoes and walk out of the door saying good bye. They would come running after me. ‘Mummy mummy don’t go, we will be good.’

Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I didn’t think I was very good at being a mummy, I was told that I was a very good mummy. When we were out my boys were well behaved and polite. Even our neighbours thought I was bringing up my boys well unlike the screeching noisy girls that lived next door to us.

There were times when half the neighbourhood’s children were in my house/garden. There were also times when I would walk to the local park with a string of children following me, rather like mother duck with all her ducklings.

Then after I recovered from Cancer I didn’t know how long I would be around for my boys so I got involved in the football club that they belonged to. By then I was more Mum than Mummy.  Not only did I have my own boys but their friends too. My car was always full of teen aged boys covered in mud, smelling of sweat.

I dreaded the teenage years, tantrums and strops. They never happened though. I believe it was because I spent my evenings talking to Prodigal then a few years later Statto, then Pug  and Skater. I learnt about the music that they liked/played. I learnt about all the football clubs in the Premiership, who the players were, who the managers were and what the grounds were called.

During the difficult period when I was divorcing the other parent, my boys became my support. They protected me from the abuse I was subjected to. My boys were growing up.

Now three of my boys are living else where. They have partners, they don’t need a Mummy any more. However they do all still love their Mum.

 

Piece of cake

He told me that I was being very domesticated.

Ha he should know by now that I am not a domestic goddess. I do what I have to do.

Earlier this week I made a batch of cheese scones.

Last night I made a traditional victoria sponge.IMG_1934 For the first time in my life I managed to bake a sponge that came out more cake like than biscuit like. The scones I had made days earlier are more like rocks.

I am proud of my acheivement.

However I didn’t make it out of a fit of domesticity.

I was merely making use of ingredients in my store cupboard.

When money gets tight a woman makes the most of what she has in order to keep away the hunger pangs.

What shall I make today?

Carfest

We had noted that The One Show would be coming live from Carfest last night. Owl was still busy working in the garden so I called him in to see the show. He had earlier expressed a desire to see it.

First we saw a piece about Tony Blackburn and how he had started out aged 21 as a DJ on Radio Caroline, this took us both back to our youth. I remember listening to Radio Caroline on my transistor radio under the blankets at night. (I was still at school in those days).

There was a piece about three families who were having their trusted vehicles on show at the festival.

There was a chat with two chefs (Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off and James Martin from Saturday Kitchen) neither of which I watch.

Owl’s favourite weather girl Carol Kirkwood sky diving with The Red Devils

Oh and there was a chilli eating contest.

But where were all the cars?

 

On the move

Saturday morning and we were on the move, or at least Pug was moving with his mother’s assistance. He was up early finishing his packing, loading the back of the truck (Chevvy). I only had to move a few things around. Just as we were preparing to leave Skater asked for a lift to the station so we had to reorganise to make room for him.

Skater dropped off, fuel purchased we started on our journey. We hadn’t been on the M3 for long when we joined the almost static traffic more or less in the same place as last week. Only this time the stops were more prolonged. I figured out from the emergency vehicles that passed us going in the opposite direction before racing back up on the hard shoulder on our carriage way, something had happened prior to junction 11. It turned out to be ‘vehicle fire’ according to the signs.

When we eventually reached the incident it did look nasty but the people looked unhurt, they were unloading possessions as we passed, surrounded by the emergency services. After this we made good time, although I did have a minor panic on A34. I had pulled out to overtake a caravan, I spotted a white car coming up behind me, I couldn’t be sure but it might be a police car. Should I pull in behind the caravan to allow the car behind me to pass or should I put my foot down and go for it? I did the latter then prayed. The white car quickly caught up and passed us, obviously not interested that I had been breaking the speed limit to get around the caravan. The police car with its single occupant was soon disappearing into the distance.

Coming towards Didcot we pondered te fact that 3 out of 6 cooling towers had been demolished, why not all 6 and did the demolition wake the local residents who hadn’t chosen to witness the event?

Being ahead of time and feeling that my bladder was soon going to be in trouble I followed a sign for ‘Services’ taking the slip road to a roundabout where there was no further sign pointing to ‘services’ I guessed, wrongly, the the first exit. I took a right turn in the hope of finding somewhere to turn around, but ended up driving through the pretty village of Steventon. Through Drayton to Abingdon, at which point I began reminiscing about a date I once had there and also a lucky escape which I might tell about another time.

We were only back on the A34 a short time before exiting at the right junction where they are doing a lot of road works, late Saturday morning was not the best time to be trying to negotiate the Hinksey interchange and Kennington roundabouts whilst this work is being carried out. Roadworks negotiated we made our way towards the agency. Pug rang to say we would be 5 minutes only to be told that they needed 30 mins. I pulled up at the side of the road and rushed as quickly as my short legs would take me without breaking into a run. Pug striding along beside me, towards a pub on the corner. I instructed Pug to buy an orange juice whilst I went for a comfort break.

We were sipping our expensive (£6 for 2) glass orange juice when he got the call that the agent was at the house waiting for us.

When we arrived at the house there were a couple of workmen loitering outside the door, this had me worried, what had they been fixing? My concerns were soon forgotten as we began the slow process of going through each room in turn with the young agent, as she passed a form to Pug to complete in each and every room as he assessed the condition of the carpets, walls, furniture etc. This was a real eye opener for him. Being the first to move into this 5 bedroom house it was down to him to do this without help from his housemates.

To me this appears to be a typical student house, not up to the standards that a family would expect but good enough for a bunch of impoverished students. The rooms were all a good size, the kitchen large and clean,Kitchen  the sitting room sparce but brightsittingroom 1  sittingroom

After a trip to get some groceries, a quick sandwich and I was ready to head off home leaving my boy to unpack.

I am sure that he and his friends will be happy there for the next year. I just hope he doesn’t get too lonely before his mates move in, although I am sure that he will enjoy having the place to himself when he is entertaining his Princess.

One move down, two to go.

When we get knocked down

When we get knocked down we get up again.

Three out of my four sons are on the move or at least they are trying to be.

It should be easy, you find a place you like, you put down a deposit, sign the contract and move in.

Number one son and friends found a flat in London that they liked. The idea being that four of them (two couples who have lived together for a while now) would share a flat in London. They scraped together their deposit, the landlord increased the deposit required. The deposit found, provisional moving date agreed, (today). The landlord cancelled!

Time was running out as the house that the group currently live in has been sold.

So they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and looked again. Yesterday they put down a holding deposit, today they are told that the rent is actually higher than advertised. They were hoping to move in the next week.

Tomorrow Number three son is due to move into his new home in Oxford. For a while it was touch and go whether he would be able to move. Many calls and messages back and forth the move is now back on.

 

It seems as though all my life or at least for many years I keep getting knocked down, I dust my self off and get back up again. I feel like a weeble. I just hope that my son’s don’t get knocked over as much in their lives, but when they do, they get back up again.

 

Hills and things

After taking 6 hours to complete a 4 hour journey we finally arrived at our destination late afternoon on Saturday. It had been a warm sunny day which made the many hold ups including a 4 mile stop start crawl on A34 bearable. 7 miles before we reached our destination I suddenly noticed that the engine light had come on, this brought on a mild panic, that and the constantly changing fuel gauge as we travelled up and down steep hill roads, would we make it before we ran out of fuel or the engine conked out?

Half a mile to go the SAT NAV told us to turn right then left, I almost missed the left turn it was so narrow. Well by that I mean that I saw it just as we passed it. Being a dual carriageway I had to continue until I could do a U turn, retrace our steps back to the narrow lane. Trundling along the lane I was thinking that I knew my in-laws lived down a lane but I hadn’t expected it to be such a narrow lane. The grass growing in the middle of the lane indicated that it wasn’t much used. It was with much relief that we reached the end of the lane which then merged with the lane we should have been on. A & B were there waiting for us as we turned around.

Next morning we woke to heavy rain, hurricane Bertha had hit the UK overnight, I believe that the weather was worse back at home than it was here in the Peak District. However the rain couldn’t take anything away from the view from our bedroom window.IMG_1783 I can see why A & B fell in love with living here.

Late morning we went for a drive (their car not ours) for a tour of a rain soaked Buxton, I was impressed with the architecture there, I will have to go back another time to investigate properly. This was followed by a drive around Bakewell, which was also very pretty even if it was crammed packed with pubs. Even in the rain there was an abundance of walkers. Before heading back for lunch we visited Chatsworth Park. We stopped to see a small Classic Car gathering near to the impressive stable block. The rain had just about stopped which was appreciated as we strolled towards the stable block. A & I made a dash for the public toilets only to be met by a queue so we made our way to the restaurant to use their facilities. These I found most disconcerting. It is not every day that I find myself surrounded by 3 images of myself reflected in the yellowish tinted glass of the cubicle (whilst sitting on the proverbial throne).

IMG_1809 The stable block at Chatsworth House.

After lunch owl and I set off on our own to find some fuel. I was worried that we wouldn’t make it the six miles to the nearest petrol station, the further I drove the closer we were getting and the prospect of a rainy walk was decreasing, I was beginning to relax. Having filled up I was much happier, we went in search of a local landmark, Monsal Head viaduct.

IMG_1813  IMG_1812 As you can see the view of the viaduct was not quite what we had expected so whilst Owl took himself off for a pint in the nearby bar I decided to follow the footpath to get a closer look at the viaduct. The path to the right looked very steep so I took the path to the left through the trees in the hope that it would come out nearer to the 1870’s construction over the river Wye. The tree covered steep hillside walk meant that all I could see were trees and more trees. Eventually I managed to work out from the glimpse of hill side across the valley that I had long ago passed the viaduct without seeing it so I made my weary way back up the hill for a well earned diet coke.

Next day we woke to see the sun shining on the fields, this was not to last all day but we didn’t get too wet on our visit to the Derwent reservoirs, where Barnes Wallis practiced his bouncing bombs.IMG_1823 IMG_1826 Howden Reservoir leads down into Derwent reservoir before finally ending up with Ladybower Reservoir.IMG_1836 Here we can see the different levels in each reservoir.

The afternoon saw a trip in the opposite direction for a trip down memory lane for Owl and his sister. We drove across the Derbyshire dales to Macclesfield where they had lived briefly in their early teens. We then went on to Knutsford where they sent their teen years. It is a small pretty town that has kept much of its history intact. We ended our visit with a drink in one of Owl’s old haunts.  IMG_1858

On our return to the house the sun was shining so I took the opportunity to take a wander up the garden to take some pictures.IMG_1871 IMG_1875  IMG_1872 Such a lovely place to live.IMG_1879

Then yesterday we made the journey back home, all was going well until the last few miles when the roads were gridlocked due to a burnt out lorry. Which I understand has still been causing problems today.

Going on the road

This morning I shall be setting off with Owl to visit his sister and her husband. We are both looking forward to seeing them. It will be my first visit to The Peak District, although I have previously visited a friend who I met through blogging a few years ago, who lives on the edge of the Peak District.

To get there I shall be spending quite a while on the A34. I shall be interested to see how the landscape has changed since the demolition of three of the cooling towers at Didcot.

Although there are several routes I could take to get to and from my sister in law’s place it is likely that I shall use theA34 on the return home in a few days time. Then guess what I shall be doing in a week’s time. Yes I shall be back on the A34 taking Pug back to Oxford where he will be moving into a shared house with friends from Uni. If we have room in the car Skater will be going with us so that he can stay with his brother for a few days before heading off to Reading Festival the following weekend.

Also going on the road this weekend albeit a different road, Prodigal and his merry band New Desert Blues will be performing at Boardmasters Festival where they will be playing on the same stage as George Ezra.

Not on the road but travelling by train Statto and Miss Effervecence will be visiting us on Thursday 🙂

 

Keep on talking

This morning I went back to Fareham to get my haircut, before my appointment I dropped Pug and Skater off at my mother’s house. They were going to do a few jobs for her, including putting together her new garden furniture. On my return 50 minutes later the table and chairs had been constructed and set up on a small patio area half way down the garden.

My mother and sons were sat in her living room chatting. After making myself a cup of Red Bush vanilla tea (it smells like marshmallows) I joined them. The conversation included such topics as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the moment. What constitutes a member of The Commonwealth?  The Philippine Community Fund, including the jewellery and other accessories that the children make out of items that we would consider to be rubbish. Should Scotland become independent?   Should Britain leave the EU?

Pug was discussing ideas for his dissertation the year after next. He wants to do something that has not been done too often before. He is thinking along the lines of exploring the philosophy of sport.

Mother told us about some of the strange things she has had to deal with during her working life as a local government Solicitor. She explained to us the problems that have occurred with closed cemeteries. Then there was the time that a new housing development was being built and 12 sets of human bones were discovered. These turned out to be French Prisoners of war from The Napoleonic War.

I am proud to say that these two lads are able to have discussions on a variety of topics even ones that I wouldn’t expect young men to have the slightest interest in. My older two sons are also more than able to hold conversations on many topics, more so in fact.

Yet Owl tells me that he can’t talk to them because he is not interested in football.

There is more to my sons than a love of football.