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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D is for daughter

I have been feeling the need to write something new on here. What could I write about? I didn’t have a clue, then I remembered that back in February 2013 I came up with the idea, following something that Pete Denton had written. Whenever I don’t have a subject to write about I will take the next letter of the alphabet and write a post using that letter. Starting with this post here then going on to letters B and C. Now comes the turn of D. Each time I said to myself D is for … I just kept coming up with the word Daughter. Why could that be? There are many other words I could have chosen but Daughter is the one that I keep hearing in my mind.

Daughter, well I am one. I hope I am a good one although I have never been the perfect daughter, I do try to be the best that I can be. I see some of my friends posting messages to their wonderful daughters on facebook. I don’t have any daughters of my own. I do have one step daughter though, Missy M. Over the last few years since I met Owl, I have had many skype chats with Missy M (who lives in California with her mother and brother and their new family). Last year I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in California for our honeymoon. During that time we spent several days with Missy M, which enabled me to get to know my new step daughter without having a computer screen between us. Five weeks later Missy M and family were in the UK for three weeks so again we were able to spend time with them.

I particularly enjoyed her first visit to our home. She was amazed to see so many things that were familiar to her as well as things that were new to her. She loved our home, she also got on well with my sons, now her step brothers. Poor girl now has one brother and six step brothers and one step sister. Its a good thing that both her parents were past having new babies with their new partners.

I have also come to the realisation in recent months that although none of my boys have married they do have girlfriends who they feel will be their life partners. Prodigal and Model have been together for 10.5 years and although they don’t have that piece of paper that makes it official they are in a committed relationship. I guess that makes Model my daughter in law in all but name.  In a few weeks time Prodigal and Model are moving to London with two of their friends. The house/flat viewings begin this week. Prodigal will be able to get more work in London and hopefully Model will find more opportunities in the fashion industry once they are in the big smoke.

Statto and his girlfriend (who has just qualified as a primary school teacher) will also begin viewings for a new home together, with another couple, in south London, in a few weeks. Whilst Statto and Miss Effervescent have been together a little under a year they already believe that they are a match made in chemistry.

Not to be out done by his elder brothers, Pug and his Princess, have plans to live together next year (their third year at Uni). This year they feel they must concentrate on their studies. They will be living in different student houses in Oxford this year but still try to spend time together when they are neither studying nor working. He has no doubts that Princess will one day become his wife.

It seems that although I don’t have any daughters I do have three young ladies, whom I can consider to be my daughters in law. Not forgetting the lovely Missy M who is my step daughter.

I hope that in the years to come I shall get on as well with my ‘daughters’ as my mother does with my sisters in law.

 

Boxing Day Anniversary

It’s Boxing Day here in the UK. I gather from my step children that this is not celebrated in USA.

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland and Italy, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (IrishLá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.[2]

However my reason for this post has nothing to do with Boxing Day Holiday except that it was a year ago today that I first began this blog. In other words I am celebrating one whole year of this blog.

During this year I have made new blogging friends. Renewed other online friendships and shared my world with people in my every day life who have learnt more about me and my life than they would do normally.

I have married my Owl.

We had our honeymoon in California which I was then able to share with you through this blog.

I have celebrated my sons’ achievements.

I made a start at serious writing (on hold at the moment but watch this space)

We have shared the extremes in weather from the harsh cold long winter complete with unusual amounts of snow to the unexpected un British heat in the summer months.

We have also mourned the passing of our faithful cat.

Ending the year with various preparations for Christmas.

2013 has been a year of extremes, extreme happiness as well as extreme despair.

In a few days we will be celebrating the start of 2014 which I hope will bring with it a more relaxed year.

Maybe I will even manage to write something that I can do something with.

How would you describe 2013 for you and what are your hopes for 2014?

It’s all in the duck

Tuesday 11 June 2013

This was to be the day that we went into the city, I was feeling a little apprehensive about this trip. It was about mid morning when we set off yet again on Route 101 this time going south.  We were not sure how it would work going through the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. As the tolls are taken automatically. Missy M had told us on an earlier visit to the city that she believes rental cars are taken care of. We had it planned we wanted to ride a tram or maybe a cable car. It was a must that we should drive down Lombard Street, or at least it was a must for Owl. I would be happy just to see it.

I set the sat nav to find Lombard street, we were driving along the lower part of the street as we had done on both the previous occasions we had been in the city. I found it on the map but due to the one way system we were directed to turn right then left which was when we began our near vertical climb. I was holding on tight each time we came to a junction. The adrenalin was building up as we neared the crest of the hill. Turning left again we passed the section of Lombard Street that Owl was searching for. Luckily (in my view) there was nowhere to stop so we made our way back down towards sea level and Fishermans wharf. First we needed to find the car park, I managed to find the place we had parked on the first Saturday but it was full! The Parking attendant pointed us in the direction of another car park.

We walked from the car as fast as my little legs would carry me towards Fishermans Wharf where it was our intention to, have lunch, ride a cable car and or tram and if we could take a ride on one of the Duck tours. The first thing we found was the Duck tours, we booked our seats handed over the money $70 between us. It was then that I realised we only had about $10 left. Ok we would find a bank and draw out some more money but first we only had 20 minutes before our trip began. We set off looking for somewhere to buy a bottle of water to share. That 20 minutes flew past in record time and we found ourselves climbing onboard our transport.

IMG_0519  Owl was most disappointed to learn from the driver that this was not a genuine WWII type DUKW. These amphibious vehicles have been purpose built by the company. We enjoyed our ride anyway. There were steep streets like this to climb.IMG_0822 Various land marks were pointed out to us, usually on our right, I was sat on the left! Owl took photos that interested him on the right  like these from China Town reputably the largest China Town outside China.

IMG_0530  IMG_0531  whilst I was enjoying the architecture on the left.IMG_0826 I should have taken a note book to write down all the landmarks that were pointed out to us. IMG_0829  IMG_0830 IMG_0839 IMG_0842 IMG_0844  IMG_0562  going from land to water was much easier than I had expected.IMG_0544   IMG_0546   It was a little un-nerving being on board this land based vehicle puttering around in the bay  passing such huge vessels as theseIMG_0548 San Francisco as seen from the water  near to the Bay Bridge. IMG_0550    IMG_0555  the back of these US Navy transport shipsIMG_0556 In case you hadn’t guessed this is the Bay Bridge as seen from the bay. IMG_0847  IMG_0848  The Giant’s stadium as seen from the bayIMG_0851  IMG_0564  Now the Giants Stadium seen from the road.IMG_0567   IMG_0568  Here is a selection of San Francisco Trams. Did you know that the trams have been collected from cities across the world.IMG_0576     IMG_0864  IMG_0865  IMG_0866 Finally we returned to our starting point. Before doing anything else we needed to find a bank so we could get some dollars. It seemed to me that since we had arrived in USA everywhere we went there were banks on every corner even drive through banks (something we don’t have back at home). So it shouldn’t take us long to find a bank. Or so we thought……..

WE walked along several blocks with no luck so changed direction again nothing so we changed direction again. Going into a camera shop we asked directions to the nearest bank. We were direct towards a shopping arcade 4 blocks to the left. Finally weaving our way between other tourists we made our way to the shopping centre. The bank clerk was very pleasant and helpful but no matter what he tried my bank card was not going to allow us to withdraw any money. However we were able to take a cash advance using Owl’s card. When we came out of the bank we headed back to Fisherman’s wharf for a spot of late lunch. IMG_0580

Owl made a new friend.IMG_0578  He also loved looking at Alcatraz from here.IMG_0583 After much deliberation we decided to eat at Boudin Bakery again before having a walk along the street looking at boats moored up in a small marina, there were many boards up advertising fishing trips. We were going to find a cable car to take us up to Lombard Street but decided to just collect the car and drive up there. When we got back to the car park I realised that it was above the shopping centre where the bank was.

 

I was hoping that we would just drive past Lombard street and glance down as we passed it but no, to my horror Owl turned to go down it. IMG_0588 I would have had my hands firmly over my eyes at this point if he hadn’t asked me to take photos. Not the easiest thing to do when you are hurtling downhill at speed constantly turning corners but I did my best. IMG_0590  IMG_0591  IMG_0592 It was a thrilling experience and at the end of the day I am glad that we did it but it was scary.

Apologies

Two months ago I started writing my account of our trip to California. I have enjoyed doing this, not only have I enjoyed sharing our trip with you but it has been lovely reliving our memories of the trip. It is also something we can go back to in the future to remind us of the wonderful time we had.

I have found that whilst I started off well it has not been easy to get to the end. Not because I don’t remember, I do and I am in the middle of a post about San Francisco. However life since we returned from our trip has taken a turn that we couldn’t foresee. This change in my home life has made it difficult for me to dedicate time to writing my blog or reading and commenting on your blogs.

Please forgive me and hopefully normal service will be resumed in the not too distant future.

Time

I can’t believe it, the time has gone so fast.

It is almost two months now since we got back from California and I still have not had time to finish writing about that experience.

When we came home it was going to be about 5 weeks before my step children arrived in the UK for a 3 week visit. Last night they were here for a farewell meal with myself and Owl along with Skater and Pug, (my younger two sons.) Today we are meeting up with Missy M and Mr T briefly for the last time for who knows how long. Tomorrow they fly back to California and we will be back to relying on skpe and email.

It has been great to see them here and show them our new home. It has been good for them to meet 3 out of 4 of my son’s their new step brothers. It has been great creating new memories and cementing relationships.

During the three weeks they have been here there have been a number of get togethers for  different combinations of family members, including an evening up on the hill looking out over Portsmouth eating ginormous burgers. An afternoon of tenpin bowling and a weekend visit to our beach retreat.

I only hope that time will be kind to us and we will manage to be together on the same side of the pond again in the not too distant future.

Beached

Monday 10th June 2013

Monday morning saw the return of the sun, much to our relief, we did’t come here for cloud we could get that back at home. We had a leisurely morning before having a drink at McNear’s. We decided to return to our room for a picnic of cheese, meat and crackers.  We had been to the local Safeway store enough times that the staff were beginning to remember us. After lunch we decided to drive to the beach that Missy M had taken us to a week earlier.

Driving along with the roof down we once again congratulated ourselves on upgrading to a mustang convertible.  It was mid-afternoon when we parked up, the sun was warm, we were happy. To our dismay we discovered that the tide was in making the beach inaccessible from the road way. I was quite happy taking endless photos and even a video of the water lapping at the rocks.

IMG_0874  IMG_0873

I was watching the water and some surfers over to my right whilst Owl spoke to surfer who had just arrived. He told Owl that we could reach the main beach by going back up the road and through the village and following the road round. I thought this house looked very quaint with its rocking chair on the front porch.IMG_0885 rounding the corner we found the centre of the village. Owl went in search of a restroom while I sat in the community garden waitingIMG_0886 and waiting. IMG_0887 Then I saw Owl walking across the street a little way off so I moved along to wait for him near to the establishment he had entered. IMG_0892 Still I waited, I watched the locals from a distance feeling that it would be best if I didn’t go too near.(Owl later told me that it was not the kind of place women should enter)”You wouldn’t have liked it. It was a real hicksville bar full of men with long beards and brown dungarees cussin” I crossed the street again to the local gallery. These tiles on the doorstep intrigued me. IMG_0890IMG_0889 back across the street so that Owl would see me when he finally emerged I took this view down the street we had yet to investigate.IMG_0893 After what felt like an age Owl emerged and walked across the street to where he had earlier left me. I scuttled back there to grab his arm and lead him back in the direction we were supposed to be going. Rounding the bend we were met with this vista, the entrance to Bolinas Lagoon.IMG_0894 IMG_0895 we both found this house fascinating. I am sure it would make a good setting for one of those find the object games. IMG_0898 Across the street we found this unexpected gem.IMG_0897 I loved this place, what lucky people to live here with views across the lagoon entranceIMG_0899  towards the hills behind Stinson beach. IMG_0900IMG_0901 A moment later we were back at the ocean. You can see quite clearly where the lagoon meets the open sea.IMG_0902 It was lovely to feel the warm sand under my bare feet and the water was very refreshing too.IMG_0615 Missy M had told us that she loves the graffiti that is found at Bolinas Beach and I can see why. Every piece of concrete lining the base of the cliff behind the beach is cover in wonderful and varied colours and intricate designs.IMG_0912  IMG_0913 this was my favouriteIMG_0914 we also saw a couple of signs that we have never seen anywhere before and probably won’t again.IMG_0612 andIMG_0915 By the time we reached the place where we had started the tide had gone out far enough for us to safely reach the slipway without getting wet feet.IMG_0920 We had spent a lovely afternoon in the sun looking out at the pacific ocean from what we had been told was the 2nd best beach in the area. Now it was time to drive back to base and walk over to the diner for our evening meal and the pleasant company of the staff who we were now getting to know quite well.