This was Mum’s 87th Birthday in July last year. We had a tea party, balloons and cake and sparkling wine. This picture is Mum with her four precious grandsons, the light of her life. Their hands reaching out to her and hers holding on just say ‘Love”. Mum died peacefully two weeks later.
Feeling a bit down this morning but the sun was out and the dog and I needed walking so we set off for the lake. I am doing Race for Life this year which is a 5k for Cancer Research. I am doing it in honour of friends who are in treatment right now, and friends who have lost the battle. And in memory of my dad who had prostate cancer but died in 2006 pretty much from old age thanks to treatment.
The route for the run/walk is round the lake with some extra bits added to make it up to the full amount. This is the half way point round the lake. Conveniently there is a little cafe where you can sit and watch the herons swoop across looking for a fishy snack. It also has a doggy diner ( water) and a skinny cappucino. I realise these benefits won’t be part of the 5k but I am in training.
The second half of the walk takes you through the woods. On our way we saw:
and something mysterious in the treetops.
Last summer the apple tree in our garden was laden with blossom and then with fruit so much that the branches reached to the ground with the weight. I love the pink amd white and hot summer days when sitting under the tree is cool and shady. An ideal place to read a book, gaze up at the sky through the leaves or fall asleep on a Sunday afternoon. I took so many pictures, but this one reminds me of the dazy, lazy feeling of summer.
It feels almost like summer, a day for throwing open the windows and revelling in the sun on your skin. I wore pale blue cotton trousers and a summer top and sat drinking a skinny cappuccino and reading my book feeling like a pampered princess. Bare feet and arms and the sun on my skin is enough to raise my happiness levels from 0 to 10 in the space of opening my eyes. Hearing the birds singing outside the window and the light filtering through the blinds as I wake is good for my soul.
Throwing off the blanket of winter and feeling myself begin to emerge from a long phase of being cocooned has been happening over the last months. Healing from any injury or illness is a slow process. As I am shedding some layers of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually it seems they are all tied together. No big revelation there, but the process is something to be treasured as well as the outcome. For after all, we are all in the process of becoming. The thing is, how to learn to just stay in the process whatever and wherever it takes me? That being in the moment thing.
The curse of depression is a dreadful sense of isolation and disconnection which comes with it. Some days it seems like a deep dark place that you just want to hide in for ever. Add to that any addiction and the sense of isolation and despair increases. Being grateful is a simple skill in theory and one to practice for the sense of hope it can give.
Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.
It is a grey old day today. Fog and mist all day and that autumnal dampness that gets under your skin. I took the dog for a walk wearing my winter coat, only its second outing this season. funny to think that this time last year the UK was in the middle of ‘The Big Freeze’ and we were slipping and sliding our way around whilst snow and hoar frosts made the landscape into Narnia under the Snow Queen.
As I get older I appreciate the seasons more. I don’t dread winter any more for its dark nights and mornings. I like the festivals that the seasons bring for the celebrations of light. I like putting on my winter coat and feeling ready for any weather. Watching the leaves dropping from the trees reminds me that December is almost here with family Christmas and celebrations. And then the year turns and we wait for the light to egin to return.
Today I was looking through photos from October when the Missus and I had an escape to Rhodes. Winter is a good time to get out those photos and finally do something with them. I have a project in mind with old family photos to make a scrapbbok for future generations. So many old photos. And then all the images stored on computer, ones I keep meaning to make into albums or frame and put on the walls. So many winter evenings and weekends that could occupy.
This afternoon I am cooking a shepherds pie for dinner with the family. Pottering in the kitchen and creating comfort food, looking forward to seeing everyone together at the table. looking at pohotos, reading my book, catching up on emails. I am very grateful.
Is there something about churches that makes me want to look up? The decoration of each tiny part reflecting the worship of hundreds of hands and hearts. A special sort of stillness, the sense of decades of prayerful meditation. I like the simple in everyday spirituality. The branches of a tree reaching into a winter’s sky , the touch of a hand, the beauty of the earth. Sometimes the words of the Psalm, “Mine eyes look up to the hills, from whence cometh my help” resonate. I don’t know that I fully understand their meaning but sometimes words convey a hidden depth that comforts without it being necessary to take them apart.
Today I am looking up and seeing grey skies, but inside it is warm with the scent of homemade rhubarb crumble baking in the oven. The sound of music coming from upstairs. Papers on the kitchen table I have sorted for tomorrow. A mug of tea. Blessings in the ordinary.
Manchester, England on a wet Monday August Bank Holiday. We dropped son 4 at the airport for a trip to meet his dad and other family in France for a weeks holiday. After a brunch there ( gasp at prices) we waved him off through the departures gate. Looking cool, his main possessions a phone charger and iPod on his first solo flight. I was 40 when I made my first solo flight. Kids nowadays eh? Cue, grumpy old woman music.
The missus and I set off solo together for the bright lights of the city centre. Its Manchester Pride weekend. We had skipped the drama and show of the Parade on Saturday. Clubbing and partying is not our thing either. but its fun to be there and to celebrate everyone’s right to love and be loved. We had a great lunch in Velvet on Canal Street. We waved at the narrowboats ( bit of a theme that this weekend!). We wandered round the stalls, put umbrellas up and down and said ‘Hi” to some of the people on the charity stalls, mental health, Quakers, Metropolitan City Church, Lesbian Community Group to name a few. And then we went and rocked out with the Lesbian and Gay Chorus singing their hearts out in the rain. A great, big, bad sound it made me smile. Proms in the Park was good, it would have been a LOT better on a sunny summer day. I had fantasies of sitting on the grass, the sun on my face music to sing along to. By this time the missus was cold. Well I did ask her if she was taking a jacket, but oh no. Who’s the smarty pants now then? If it had stayed sunny an evening of Toyah Wilcox, 4 Poofs and a Piano and the Original Bucks Fizz beckoned. I think you probably have to be from the UK to understand any of these or even have heard of them at all!
On the way home we passed a pub that I had spotted on the way in. It sits like a little beacon of old town in the middle of sky-scraper buildings. Coming from Stoke-on-Trent the home of The Potteries I can’t pass a Minton tile without oohing and aaahhhing in admiration. This little gem has been beautifully preserved. It’s also For Sale. Brief moment of landlady bubble comes out of my head. Nah. But someone please keep this little treasure alive.
Of course I had to Google it when I got home. This place seems to have stood still in time. One of Manchester’s oldest and certainly most distinctive pubs, here is a little review I found which sort of sums it up
Look at it!
Not only is it distanced architecturally from its surroundings, but it also happens to sit quite proudly on its own little concrete island. Aw, bless it. And look at it! Appears to be made out of ceramic, with a lovely green little roof garden awash with foliage.
I bet it’s haunted. I just hope it’s haunted. Truly they are missing a trick in not offering candelit all-nighters round Hallowe’en time. I cannot think of anything better.
As it stands, though, it stands proud. It feels like the city – and the world – has grown up around it; ol’ Peveril standing resilient, defiant. You can imagine the place emerging from the fog after hours of hostile travelling on foot or horseback – a glowing, warming, welcoming beacon for the weariest of souls.
Well, it still glows. When the sun shines, Peveril reflects it right back. Now it offers respite from the pace of the modern world. It feels like the heart of Manchester and, at times – when you’re surrounded by friends and cold drinks – it feels as though it beats for you.
It has been a quiet time. Needing to sleep. Wanting to cry. Laughing at memories and finding ourselves about to say, we could do this or that with Mum. I haven’t felt like writing much. Or talking. It’s been good having family and friends who are undemanding. We have eaten easy comfort food this week. Scrambled egg on toast, pasta bake, sausages with roast veg and sweet potatoes.
This afternoon we went for a walk with a good friend. Easy and relaxed. Understanding about yawning. We walked round the lake then had tea and cake in the cafe and watched the water, shoppy in the wind. And the sun went in and out. After the skies were blue again so we walked along the canal. it goes through the centre of our ribbon of towns. Industrial heritage of pottery industry melts into hedgerows of sloes and the old/new industry of canal narrowboats for holidays or a life of slow meandering. It was good to be outside, to see the world from a different place. We saw the ice cream van at the end and thought of her, of course.