Date day

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Whilst we like to do lots as a family, Mr S and I do ‘dates’ with each of our children to give them special time with us individually.  Today was one such day and it was my turn to take Little Miss out whilst Mr S and Little Man went to their favourite museum, with lots of interactive exhibits.  The children get to choose where they would like to go and Little Miss knew exactly where she wanted to go, the cat cafe.

Last year we came upon the cat cafe by accident when we were in a neighbouring town, the only problem was that it was closed.  However I did a bit of research and found the cafe online.  It’s a really interesting project, a cat rescue centre for 12 cats with a cafe within run by volunteers, many with learning difficulties.  You pay an entry fee of £5 per person for the care of the cats and then order from the menu.  I’m not a cat person but Little Miss was in her element, she was so happy stroking and playing with the cats, chatting away to the volunteers learning the cats’ names and characteristics and just loving it.  The cafe was busy with customers all keen to do similar. The building has been beautifully prepared for the cats, lots of  beds, toys, stunning playgrounds, everything has been done to make the cats very well cared for.  Little Miss’ reaction to our trip was simply ‘amazing’ and she hasn’t stopped talking about the cafe.  Her reaction shows why we do these dates, to let them choose something to share with us and have a little treat.

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Mother’s Day 2019

I think I’ve written before that Mother’s Day is a strange day of mixed emotions in our house. Mr S’ mum died when he was young so its a day he hasn’t celebrated for many, many years. For me it’s one of those days when I think of our little boy who died in my pregnancy and I also pause to think of the children’s birth mother. However it’s also a day which I wish to enjoy surrounded by my little family.

Today was a busy day, Mr S was working until 2pm and I had promised the children a trip to Laserquest. Normally, Lazerquest is really busy on the Sunday’s children club but the combination of the clocks springing forward and Mother’s Day meant there were only 6 children there instead of the usual 30, so the children had a brilliant time and got more games than normal. We had a picnic in the town gardens and then it was time to come home and do the Sunday jobs. There will always be Sunday ironing to be done and dinner and packed lunches to be made, even on Mother’s Day.

As we had an early start, I didn’t get my cards or presents until we got home. It took a fair while for the children to remember it was Mother’s Day this morning, the lost hour was definitely affecting us all. I’m afraid I have to specify if there’s anything I would really like, as present buying is not one of Mr S’ strengths. I had hoped to get Michelle Obama’s autobiography for Christmas so I decided to make it an explicit wish this Mother’s Day writing a note for Little Miss to help Mr S. I was delighted to receive it and can’t wait to read it, she’s a mum I can aspire to. I also got a beautiful flower arrangement. Yesterday afternoon Little Miss went to our neighbour who had bought all the flowers and materials and taught my daughter how to make it for me, such a wonderful and kind gesture. I loved my handmade weaved card from Little Man and the verse inside Little Miss’ made me laugh!

I know how difficult today can be for many and I thought I would just end with this beautiful quote on social media today.

To everything there is a season …

This passage has helped to guide me in difficult times and to appreciate and celebrate the good times and respect and understand the harder days.   In the last few weeks, I have through my circle of family and friends rejoiced at the most joyous news and been saddened by devastating news.  These are not my stories to share but I’ve cried both happy and sad tears and have reread this passage to give comfort and hope.

At present, our life is in a bit of a transition and we are having to make decisions in a period of uncertainty.  We can’t plan fully as each stage is dependent on a previous step, for someone like me who craves order and security its hard and I’m seriously out of my comfort zone.  However we can’t hide away and are trying to plan for the best outcome for all of our little family.  The reason for the changes is our son’s secondary education, we are seriously needing to consider more specialist schools to meet his needs but living in a small seaside town in a large rural county means that the schools we are looking at are a considerable distance from our home.  However, neither of us feel that it is fair to expect Little Man to travel more than an hour each way for school and are trying to come to a compromise which suits the whole family.  There is no easy solution but we are considering moving inland to a small market town, 30 minutes away which would facilitate the journey.  However, it means giving up our seaside idyll, a life we love and planned for our family, the beach as our playground and being part of a wonderful community.  Its a hard decision.  We are also subject to our son being given place at the school we think is right for him, we know that on average there are 14 applications for each place and having visited a number of other special schools this feels like our only option, it is the best fit.  The change would have less effect on our daughter, catchment areas for the secondary schools are big here and a move would not affect her place at the secondary school she will start in September.

There is so much to consider and it is a situation which cannot be resolved quickly, our timescale is a minimum of about 18 months.  It seems overwhelming and is dominating so much of our thoughts, trying to do the best for everyone.  I need to remember that as in the passage from Ecclesiastes that this time will pass, this is our time to plant the seeds for a safe, happy future for all of us, all that matters is that we are together, secure and loved, no matter where we are.

 

 

 

#Blogtober18 : Day 15, Ones who couldn’t stay ..

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Today’s theme is for #babylossweek.   I have never written my full story and I won’t be today, people deal with grief in different ways, to me it is just too heart breaking.  I will repost the links for the two posts in which I have mentioned the loss of our baby boy on this blog.  By not writing does not mean not remembering, ten years later, I think of him and I love him with such intensity and depth, words simply can’t describe my feelings.

https://seasidesparkles.net/2017/02/13/my-valentine-sadness/

https://seasidesparkles.net/2016/02/08/a-few-of-my-favourite-things-a-painting/

Sending my love and thoughts to all of who have lost their precious children x

 

Butlins 2018, High Ropes, Nine Bots and Hot, Sunny Days.

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Our family loves Butlins, to us its our happy place and we try to visit at least annually for a short break. Over the past 7 years we have done 11 breaks, initially to Minehead but since discovering the amazing hotels at Bognor Regis, we now drive down to West Sussex.   I don’t normally write about each trip, but our visit last weekend was special and different, it felt like the passing of time and deserving of a few words. There are some trips which we have done to Butlins which will always stand out, our first visit was our first holiday as a family and came the week of our adoption order and my first mothers’ day, we’ve also done Easter, Christmas and Halloween at Butlins which are always special for their seasonal celebrations, decorations and personal touches.  We love Butlins for its attention to detail, family friendliness and the variety of activities on offer, there really is always something to do.

Last weekend was special for a number of reasons.  Firstly the weather was stunning, we have never had such gorgeous sunshine and high temperatures at Butlins and finally got to enjoy our room’s balcony as well as al fresco dining around the site.  Mr S in very impressive form had booked me a spa experience and massage as a birthday treat and I had a wonderful afternoon in the spa.  I went from the sunshine and warmth of the outside hot tub to the snow and ice room and many more treats in between.  The massage was one of the best I have ever had and I felt so relaxed and refreshed after my spa experience.  Bonus points for Mr S!

During our little break, we realised how quickly the children are growing up.  We started going to Butlins when they were toddlers and Mr S and I  looked nostalgically at the tots funfair, the toddlers activity centre etc.. all those hours we had spent with the children  in those areas as well as watching the shows and having photos taken with their heroes, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina etc…  This time we didn’t watch any of the children’s shows, only the evening ones in Centre Stage or Reds.  During this stay the children were ecstatic that they were now tall or old enough for new experiences.  They did the High Ropes and although they started cautiously they quickly developed the skills and confidence on the course.  They also tried Nine Bots which are junior versions of Segways.  I was worried how Little Man would cope as he has some motor difficulties, yet he was the stronger of the two and picked up the instructions and directions immediately, he was zooming around the course at such a speed and so happy with his success.  The swimming and slides were great and a welcome relief in the heat, the pool party on Saturday night with DJ and inflatables and props was especially fun .  However, we’re all looking forward to our trip next year with the new water park opening in Spring 2019 as it looks fantastic with lots of new rides and slides to try.

We found this break that Mr S and I had a little extra time too, the children are now at an age where they’re looking for a little independence and we allowed them some unsupervised parent time in the staffed areas like the games room or arranged a meeting point at the fair whilst they did the stomach churning rides that neither of us fancied.  Holidays are now starting to get a little more relaxing for us too (I’m whispering that as we have our summer holiday next week and I don’t want to jinx it!)

I can’t imagine a time when we won’t be coming to Butlins.  I only discovered it with Mr S and the children as I had never been to a Butlins resort as a child and it is now my happy, safe place.  As soon as we enter I feel relaxed, ready to have fun and make happy memories with our little gang of 4, Butlins really is special to us all.

The summer football came home

 

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I love a World cup summer and I will watch every game I can.  I’ve always been a big football fan and until our move to the seaside I was a season ticket holder at Bristol City.  I’m not a huge premier league fan, that’s a whole different game, I’ve always followed lower league teams as the football community here feels a bit different and real.

My expectations for Russia 2018 were pretty low, I thought that given the reputation of some Russian ultra fans and recent problems that hooliganism would be rife.  There has been no hint of such violence and I’ve also enjoyed exploring Russia through the different venues, the hard, grey cities I imagined have been replaced by venues such as Samara which looked a lovely seaside city.

This has been the first World cup in which Little Man has been really interested in, he has collected his Panini cards, adorned his bedroom wall with posters, worn his England top and been able to talk about the teams and games with confidence.  His enthusiasm has been infectious, from day 1 he believed in the England team.  He had none of the cynicism and weariness of the adults and it was refreshing to see the game I love through such innocent eyes.  Little Man taught me about the players as he knew all the facts like names, clubs, age etc.  These players are his new heroes.  It was also the first World cup when Little Man got to go to a bar to see the game on a big screen and the fun of all the oohs, argghs and cheers, he loved it.  I also liked that we were at Grandad’s for the Panama game and all the goals and my parents watched the semi final with us too, football is about community and sharing the experience.  Whilst my daughter has watched the football too,  she has definitely preferred the social aspect of meeting up with friends.  She doesn’t dislike football, she simply prefers to play.

Sad as I am to admit it, I knew very little about the England team before they left, a team of young, internationally inexperienced players. I was hoping they would  progress through the group stages, gain some experience in a big tournament and be ready to really compete at Euro 2020.  Generally I think lots held similar thoughts, for once the media hadn’t hyped up the team and I think that’s why what happened seems rather magical, the England team just quietly and diligently worked hard on playing football.  As the results came in, the feeling of excitement blossomed, here was something new, a team of youth, with grace, talent and skill unburdened by expectations.  We also grew to love the quiet humility, determination and hard work of our manager, Gareth Southgate, an unexpected appointment which now seems genius.  It was a lovely feeling to experience and I’m so pleased that Little Man got to experience such a positive World cup by England as his first real tournament.

The World cup comes to a close this weekend and its been brilliant, new teams have emerged, the old footballing contenders were knocked out early, VAR has caused some controversy in the early games and the country has united behind our team again.  Its been a memorable tournament and I’m so proud that although we may not have brought the World cup home (but came so close) the England team have brought football home in reigniting our love for the beautiful game.

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A perfect weekend

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We have had one of those weekends when you feel you have actually been away on a holiday as you can’t quite work out how you managed to fit so much into a few days .It was one of those weekends where everything magically aligned and the weather was stunning, a weekend full of awesome moments and happy times.

We spent this weekend in the Bristol area, Mr S and I lived here until our move to our seaside town in 2004, so it was a weekend to see family and old friends.  We drove up after school on Friday afternoon and arrived in time for a quick change and a walk to a local, family run Italian restaurant, which had been a favourite when we lived nearby, for a celebration dinner.  There was lots to celebrate birthdays, fathers day and just being together and we had such a relaxed and delicious family meal with Granddad.  The restaurant has a very clever design so our table in the ‘conservatory’ made us feel that we were eating outside on the hot evening with a gentle breeze.  We walked through the park on the way home and as it was so light and warm we let the children play whilst we simply watched and talked, does anything beat a warm summer night?

On Saturday we planned to do lots with the children to tire them as Granddad was babysitting and we wanted to make sure the children were asleep before Mr S and I left for our night out.  We drove over to Portishead to their open air pool for some swimming.  The lido is gorgeous and retro with a real 50s vibe, it is painted bright orange and yellow and with the blue pool and blue skies it looked amazing.  Its such a hidden gem and we had such  a great morning here with swimming, games, sunbathing on the tiered steps and of course eating our picnic, which seems to become more elaborate each time.  After the lido we walked along the promenade to the park and boating lake where we hired a pink flamingo pedalo.  This was so much fun too, perhaps more for me as I was in the back so got to sit and relax whilst Mr S and the children pedalled around the lake.  It was late afternoon by the time we got home and we succeeded in getting two tired children in bed and asleep by 8pm.  The main focus of our visit to Bristol was for a friend’s 50th birthday party.  Mr S has had the same group of friends since school so it was a lovely to meet up with them all at the party.  Mr S remarked he had been at the host’s 21st, 30th, 40th and 50th parties and I find it incredible that such a large group of friends from school are still so close after all these years.  I’ve known the group for the past 20 years and still feel a newbie! The party was at a stunning and impressive venue and we spent a lot of time outside as it was just so beautiful with gorgeous gardens.  It was one of those parties when it was over so quickly as we were all having such a good evening.

Today we played in the park and met up with friends which meant for Little Miss the absolute thrill of meeting up with teenagers to discuss make up, clothes and piercings.  We then got to watch the England match, for Little Man this is the first World cup he is really interested in and he knows so much, he watches the game with his World cup cards and looks up the players etc… He loved the England match and watching all the goals go in, he has that innocent belief in England, not the cynicism of us oldies.  As we drove home we listened to Three lions which he is now singing along to and then switched to the cricket commentary where England in a thrilling match beat Australia to win the ODI series 5 – 0.

It really felt like a perfect weekend and one that will be remembered fondly for many years to come.  I’m just hoping the adrenaline and memories will now see me through the week, as I am a bit tired!

Being the mum who decided to go for it!

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Last week, I found myself doing some quite different things; within 6 days I had been to a roller disco, done every slide at least once at a water park and had my first kayak lesson.  Looking back on the week, I wondered if I was going through a mid life crisis trying to prove that I had the fitness, stamina and spirit to do these activities.  Perhaps this is true, I was 37 when I finally became a mum after years of fertility treatment and the adoption process, much older than I had hoped.  I always wanted to be one of those mums who did things with her children, who was present not simply physically but experiencing the moment too.  I also feel that its up to me to be that sporty active parent as Mr S suffered significant injuries in an accident when he was younger so cannot do all I can.

The activities I did last week were all with or for the children, we went to the roller disco and water park together and I am taking kayak lessons so I can be confident to go out with them on the water.  I want them to be active and adventurous and its up to me to be that example.  This may sound all very noble, but the main reason I do these activities is for fun, to live in the moment and enjoy time with my children.  We only have 18 summers with our children, I missed 2 for Little Miss and 1 for Little Man when they were in care so my 18 is reduced, we’re now half way through our childhood summers and there is still so much I want to share with my children.  We have many more adventures to plan and experience and I intend to be the mum who says yes and goes for it, life is too short to live on the side lines.

Dear Little Miss ..

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My little note to you hidden in your case x

Dear Little Miss

 

This is now the longest time we’ve ever been apart since we became a family eight years ago.  I’m missing you; your cuddles, kisses and companionship.  The house seems so much quieter and emptier without you.  Its not the first time you’ve been away from home, as you have done a Brownie sleepover but this school residential feels different.  It is an adventure and you are trying new and exciting activities without me there to encourage and cheer you on.  You are now old enough to be creating special memories with your friends as well as your family and I’m sure the PGL trip of Year 5 will become a much treasured trip for you all.

Thanks to digital technology, Daddy and I have been able to see you throughout the trip on the school feed, we’ve admired the photos of you abseiling, raft building, fencing, whizzing down the longest zip wire I’ve ever seen and just playing with your friends.  It all looks so much fun and there you are smiling, confident and looking so grown up.  I’ve heard it was you that started the singing on the coach and I’ve seen the video of the raft and you leaping into the water with so much zest and squealing in delight as you splash down.  You were so excited about PGL and now you’re there you seem to be relishing every moment and I couldn’t be prouder. This is what life is about its trying new things and embracing every opportunity, please never lose your energy, enthusiasm and passion for life, it makes you the very special young lady you are.

I am so looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and although I’ve missed you, this trip has been amazing for you.  I can’t wait to hear of all your adventures and to start planning new ones too.

Lots of love

Mummy xx

A World War 2 Photo Album

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Gramps, Autumn 1939

 

During the Easter holidays, I spent some time at my parents’ house sorting through old photographs.  I love seeing old photographs of friends and family and wanted to find a few favourites of my parents and grandparents to make copies for my collection.

In the big box of delights was a battered old album from World War 2, it begins with this joyous photo of my grandfather, Gramps and then contains fewer photos of him and more of daily life in the RAF.  I was intrigued by this album as so little is known about his military service, I know Gramps was ground crew in the RAF, working as an electrician, his life long career and that he was based for a time in the south of England but that was all the information.  I was always puzzled how a Scotsman could end up in a base in the south but thanks to his meticulous notes on the back of photos and the Internet I have been able to piece the early part of his military service.

Gramps began his military service in Drem in Scotland, close to where he lived.  The photos all show 609 Squadron and following research I understand that this squadron spent time in Drem, Scotland, the north of England, before moving to RAF Northold for Dunkirk and then Dorset and Hampshire for the Battle of Britain.

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Gramps’ military bases

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609 Squadron was a Bomber and Fighter squadron and I have been brought to tears learning about the squadron, the heroic actions of the pilots and the high number of fatalities.  Gramps wrote details on every photo and I have been able to research some of the individuals featured in the photos.  Its been heart-breaking research and it makes me think that the reason that Gramps never spoke of the war was the sadness at so many colleagues killed in action.  Gramps was so kind, loving and caring, a devoted family man and loyal to all his friends. He was quiet and dignified and I think his silence was his respect to his colleagues.

These photos show F.O. Ian Bedford Nesbitt Russell in Scotland a few weeks before he was tragically killed supporting the allies at Dunkirk. For me it is the difference in the pictures, a relaxed young man in Scotland on the airfield and then the pilot leaving on his final flight.  In doing the research I learnt that Russell was a young Australian from Melbourne.  I am sure that Gramps would be very proud to know that his eldest grand daughter now works as a paediatrician in the same city.

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Another photo shows Sgt Alan Feary whom was killed in October 1941, his grave is not too far from our home and I would like to visit it and pay my respects to one of my Gramps’ colleagues  I have seen a number of the photos including this one from the album on the Internet so I am presuming that they were distributed to many of the staff of 609 Squadron.

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Whilst the photos have really brought the history of the second world war to me and I have enjoyed researching 609 squadron, I still know little about Gramps’ war service.  My parents are visiting family in Scotland soon and I am hoping that they will be able to find either his service number or NI number so we can request his service record.  This really is a fascinating photo album and illustrates the sacrifices made by Gramps’ generation for us all, they will never be forgotten.

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Image from ww2today.com

Sources

 

http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/609_wwII.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._609_Squadron_RAF

http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/flying-officer-ian-bedford-nesbitt-russell-dfc-raf.19891/

http://www.aircrewremembered.com/feary-alan-norman.html