Monday, 24 April 2017

My Sunday Photo Week 121 B is for Boarding School

I've tried several times to write how I feel about taking my son back to boarding school this afternoon for his last ever term and my last term as a school mum, but I'm struggling to put how I feel in words, so I'll just leave you with this photo of his school instead.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

One Daily Positive Week 16 - A whole week in the UK and lots of goodbyes.

So I've managed to spend a whole week in one place, our flat in South Wales, however it's a 1 bed flat and I've been sharing it with 2 other adults. Peter, who flew back to Dubai on Friday and child 5 of 5 now 18, who returns to school on Sunday afternoon.

We finally assembled the last few pieces of furniture Friday night, but I need to contact Argos and ask them what they are playing at? The table and chairs are wonky and the coffee table came pre-scratched.

I'm also struggling with internet access and EE has been down Friday and Saturday in my area, so I'm moving from pub to coffee shop to access the internet.

We've managed to visit almost everyone this week, there's a few family members and some friends who only get in touch when we're in the UK and then expect us to juggle our time to fit in around them, our attitude now is unless we have contact via Social Media or email during the rest of the year, then if they want to see us, they can come to where we're staying. We never seem to get to rest on our UK travels.

I said Goodbye to child 4 on Wednesday night, I may not see him again until February/March next year, I'm hopeful I can get to Northern Ireland in July to see him before he goes off on tour.

Sunday 106 Eggs - We forgot that everywhere was shut Easter Sunday and ended up driving to Newport for coffee, followed by a walk around Abergavenny before cooking a full roast then a visit to family for the evening.

Monday 107 Children - Child 4 of 5 took me to watch Birmingham City lose, it was that bad that as well as the chants of Zola Out, I even joined in with the away fans chants of 'you couldn't score in a brothel'

Tuesday 108 New - a day out with children 1, 4 & 5 to Gloucester to buy the last few bits and pieces we needed for the flat. I wanted a chicken door stop, but Mr Pug caught my eye and he does a fine job.

Wednesday 109 Green - a chilled morning, chippy lunch by the river and the afternoon spent walking with friends and their dogs in the countryside. The evening was spent with different friends and children 4 & 5.

Thursday 110 Happy - a full day out with child 2 and 2a (the girlfriend) to visit MIL across the bridge and off to Street for the menfolk to do some shopping. We called in at my parents on the way home for Peter to say goodbye.

Friday 111 Chocolate - Our 6 year old niece joined us to take Peter airport, we played i spy and after helping Peter navigate to the airport by reading the signs and at check in, We ended up waiting 3 hours for the car hire to be ready, we explored the airport, watched the planes take off and land and did loads of colouring in. In the evening child 5/5 assembled the table and chairs.

Saturday 112 Creation - a day of coffee shops, pubs and hanging out the window to get phone reception and 3G, a visit to a car boot sale with my parents and then shopping in town, before spending the evening with my niece and playing in the park.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo, PoCoLo Triumphant Tales - First family photo since 2007

Sunday, 16 April 2017

One Daily Positive Week 15 Hong Kong to Dubai to South Wales and the teen turns 18.

In the past 18 days I've flown almost 18000 miles, spent 44 hours in the air and 24 hours in airports. That's the equivalent to a return trip to Aberdeen from London every day. I started the week with Peter in Hong Kong at the Rugby 7's on an all expenses paid trip. I didn't find out till Tuesday night who had actually paid for this trip. It was a raffle with Emirates Leisure Retail, which I'd entered at Mr Toad's on our regular Wednesday night pub quiz we go to with friends.
Sunday was spent at the Rugby 7s finals, there was a fair amount of beer drunk and cheering for South Africa against Fiji in the finals.

Monday we explored Kowloon on the mainland and all the markets. 

We arrived back in Dubai late on Tuesday evening. 

On Wednesday Peter was in work. I visited the cat, who clawed, purred and moulted and walked back to her cage, unpacked and repacked cases, did a couple of loads of washing, ran the hoover round and went off to see Bob, who was very pleased to see me, but when I left after the pub quiz (which we won) and dinner, he took himself off to bed, with just a quick backward glance in my direction.

Thursday we flew to the UK, Peter had to go into the office in the morning and I went out to a mall for coffee, before arriving at the airport at midday. A stress free flight and straight through passport only to wait 90 minutes for the ground crew to unload the Airbus A380. Birmingham airport may be able to accept the Airbus for landing but it is not equipped to deal with that many passengers at one time. We collected car hire and drove to South Wales.

Friday was the teens 18th birthday and we celebrated in a local restaurant with all our family and close friends who have been involved in the children's lives since they were born.

Saturday we collected various kids and all met up in Cheltenham for an hour or so. This is the first time we've all been together as a family of 7 since 2007. It is also the first time in 10 years that we've all been in the same country at the same time.

99/365 Yellow. Hong Kong Rugby 7's.

100 Dance. Hong Kong viewed from Kowloon.

 101 Wide Angle. Hong Kong viewed from Victoria Peak.

 102 (throw my) HAT (in the ring) Back at quiz night in Dubai which we won (again) and the pub where I entered the raffle for the Hong Kong trip.

 103 Flower. In my garden in Dubai.

 104. Road Trip. Me, Hubby, the teen on his 18th Birthday, child 3 of 5 who travelled down from Leeds to South Wales.

105. Bunny. The first time in 10 years we've all managed to be in the same country at the same time, let alone all meet up, it was a logistical nightmare and who cares it was only for 30 minutes and in a supermarket car park. It made me very happy, yet equally sad as we all went our separate ways. 

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - H is for Hong Kong 
HDYGG and PoCoLo - A visit to the flower market in Kowloon
Animal Tales -
Monday Escapes - Viewing the Big 5 at Kruger National Park
Triumphant Tales - Marriage after the kids leave home

My Sunday Photo Week 120 K is for Kids

We could've chosen a better setting for this photo, but it was all about timing.

Back L-R
Peter, Alex child 5, Jamie child 3.
Front L-R
Stephanie child 1, Andrew child 2, Me, Dan child 4.
We had a professional photographer take this picture as in 'Steve (my nephew) here's my phone take a few pics would you please' while a row broke out over who had the best camera phone iPhone 7+ v Samsung S7 Edge.

The last time we were all together as a family of 7 was in 2007, that year, child 2 moved to Germany with the army. He now lives in the Forest of Dean. In 2010, child 3 left home and moved to Reading, he now lives in Leeds after a brief spell in Cheltenham. In 2011 Peter and I moved with child 4 & 5 to South Africa. Child 5 moved to Tewkesbury in 2013 to attend boarding school and child 4 moved to Yorkshire in 2014 with the army and is now based in Northern Ireland. Child 5 lives in a care home in Gloucester. Peter and I moved to Dubai the end of 2014 where we still live now.

Peter and I have managed to got various combinations of children together over the years, but we've often made separate visits to the UK and on the occasions we've travelled together, one or another of the kids has been away, most recently child 4 who was in the Falklands.  

It's been a logistical nightmare organising this photo. The teen turned 18 on Friday so we booked a family dinner with close friends. We decided not to include Stephanie as she wouldn't have coped with the environment and we wouldn't have been able to switch off and relax. Everyone else made it, family with small kids, my nephew and his girlfriend who booked a day off work to come, child 3 came down from Leeds. But child 4 couldn't get over from Belfast until Saturday morning.

So we all arranged to meet in a car park in Cheltenham, they all managed to spare half an hour of their time, they all understood my need to meet up and get this photo.

This is the most precious photo I own, as a mum whose kids left home and lived 1000's of miles away. I have no idea when we'll all get together again. Child 3 is out in Dubai at the end of the month and the rest of our visit here will be spent with 1, 2, 4 & 5.

I'm back in the UK the end of June for the summer, but Peter won't be with me and child 4 is being posted abroad for 6 months. We'll try and arrange a home coming gathering in spring next year, lets hope that doesn't take another 10 years to put into place.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Flower Market - Hong Kong with HDYGG

Catching the train from Admiralty station in Hong Kong over to to Prince Edward station in Kowloon on the mainland, it's a short walk to the flower market, clearly signposted and one street back from the main road.

With limited land space and the cost of housing in Hong Kong, only the very rich can afford properties with gardens and there was a distinct lack of balconies on buildings due to typhoons.

Although there are public parks, with no smoking/music rules, which were beautifully laid out with stunning plants and flowers, I would be lost without a garden and outdoor space, so if the move to Hong Kong was ever on the cards, I'd be a regular visitor to the flower market for both fresh cut flowers and potted plants to create an indoor garden.

Please ask before taking photographs, especially inside the shops and close ups, most people said yes, but a few said no, especially when taking photo's of bouquets, I suppose to stop you making your own, using their ideas.

The flowers and plants ranged in price but you could buy a substantial bunch of flowers of the same kind for a under $100HK or £10.

Bird market in Hong Kong with Animal Tales

Catching the train from Admiralty station in Hong Kong over to to Prince Edward station in Kowloon  on the mainland, it's a short walk to the Bird market, set inside a small park next to Hong Kong Stadium.

My expectations of the market were that I wasn't going to like being there and on entering my thoughts were confirmed, there were lots of tourists purchasing the lovely handcrafted wooden cages, empty of course, but as lovely as they were I didn't want to support the trade, so after taking a few photo's (with permission) we left.

Afterwards we briefly visited the fish market, and decided to give the animal market a miss, I didn't feel the need to cause myself any further distress.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

My Sunday Photo Week 119 H is for Hong Kong

The closing ceremony at the Hong Kong Rugby 7's. We've had an amazing trip, still don't know who paid for us to be here, so can't thank them publically. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 14. South Wales, Dubai to Hong Kong

I am absolutely shattered, I have no idea what day or time it is, I'm sleeping when I'm tired and eating when I'm hungry.

Peter and I are in Hong Kong for the Rugby 7's. I won a competition. I received notification via a telephone call, a week later and 10 hours before we flew I received the official email from a PR company with flight, hotel, ticket and Limo details and that was it. I have no idea who is actually paying for this trip, but we're having a great time.

Sunday - coffee with friends in newport and a visit to my see my Aunt, before returning to the flat to cook a Sunday roast for me and the teen and chill out for the evening.
92/365 Like

Monday - I met most of the new neighbours, popped to the coffee shop, dry cleaners, supermarket, local council office, post office and walked up to see the castle. The teen spent the evening explaining the difference between vlogging and you tubing.
93/365 Flower

Tuesday - off to Gloucester with the teen to visit Stephanie, we did some shopping first, then spent a couple of hours with her in her own home. We both struggled last week to take her out. The evening was spent with friends for dinner.
94/365 Blue

Wednesday - I started my journey back to Dubai, leaving South Wales at 10am, returning car hire and a direct flight with Emirates. With the time difference I was back in Dubai at 2am, straight to bed.
95/365 Look up

Thursday - I woke at 7am and after Peter went to work I went back to bed at 9am till 12pm. I washed Bob, drove him over to Jelly's where he's staying, took the cat to the vets where she is staying, went to the bank, unpacked and repacked and washed the pet bedding. I was back at the airport with Peter by 7pm, we had dinner and then caught our flight to Hong Kong at 11pm.
96/365 I'm Eating

Friday - We arrived in Hong Kong at 9.30am, having lost 4 hours of time, collected tickets for the Rugby 7's, driven to the hotel in a Limo and opted to wait till the official check in time to have a bath in the room as well as a shower, we explored the local area. In the evening we caught the MTR to Causeway Bay and followed the crowd to the 7's, watching the Women's final, opening ceremony and the first set of matches.
97/365 Love

Saturday - We booked a tour to explore the island. We visited Man Mo Temple, rode the 125 year old tram to Victoria Peak, visited Sky Terrace, Aberdeen Fishing Village, had lunch at Jumbo Restaurant the World's Largest Floating Restaurant, Stanley Market and a visit to a jewellery factory. In the evening we explored Hollywood Road bars and restaurants.
98/365 Sparkle

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - Travel and Ikea furniture assembly
Parenting, Triumphant Tales, Tween Teens and Beyond and PoCoLo - Coping with a disabled adult child

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Coping with a disabled adult child.

It's been 6 months since I last saw my step daughter, child 1 of 5. I live in Dubai, she lives in a care home in Gloucester.

The teen, child 5 of 5, and I took her out on Friday for the afternoon. Nothing too adventurous, a trip to the local supermarket, for lunch and a bit of shopping.

We were both shattered and badly bruised. Despite the teens best efforts, she managed to reach out and jab me in the ribs while I was driving, I received an elbow in the chest and a punch to the stomach. She rammed everyone and everything with the trolley, grabbed hold of other peoples trolleys as they walked past and actually went off with one woman. The glass spice jars narrowly escaped crashing to the floor, she refused to eat her lunch and lobbed her drinks bottle across the café.

We weren't out long enough to battle a nappy change, thankfully. The staff in the café exclaimed 'ooh she's not usually this lively, are you new members of staff?'

3 hours, that was all and we were both physically and mentally shattered.

We're visiting again tomorrow, we've decided to stay and play with her in her own home and take her for a walk around the neighbourhood.

As much as I'm getting older and find it difficult to get her in and out the car, the kids are all adults now, over 6ft tall and more than willing to help mum with their sister and spend time with her, but I don't allow them to do any of her personal care, apart from helping with outer clothing and shoes on and off. Sadly I think the last time I ever take her out on my own has now been and gone.

It's not easy admitting you can't cope any more, difficult to admit to yourself, battling with self imposed guilt that you can no longer take her days out on your own, and just a simple trip is hard work.

Peter is joining me in the UK in 2 weeks time, so we'll try again, no agenda, just keep it local and simple and keep the visits short and try not to feel guilty about being able to do more.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My Sunday Photo Week 118 E is for excitement.


I'm flying back to Dubai on Wednesday and flying out to Hong Kong on Thursday with Peter on an all expenses paid trip to watch the Rugby 7's. I'll be back in the UK on the 13th. 

One Daily Positive - Week 13 Travel and Ikea furniture assembly

I'm back in the UK, and arrived to lovely weather, unlike the wet, damp and windy Dubai. I had thought it would be the other way round, it is however a little cold.

Apologies for not having read and commented on last weeks posts, I will get round to that on Sunday as well as a million and one other things I've fallen behind with this week.

Finally 36 hours before I flew Turkish Airlines issued information on their website for flying to the UK with electronic items.

I opted to leave my laptop at home and have purchased another one to leave here, I'm in the UK till Wednesday then off to the Rugby 7's in Hong Kong, back to the UK till the end of April and back again mid June for 8-12 weeks, I can watch TV on it as I've purchased a UK TV licence for the apartment and I carried a hard drive with me with my pictures and things I'm working on at the moment.

Sunday I went onto the desert with Bob at 7am, stopping for a coffee on route, we got home at 10am and I took my papers for my Police Clearance Certificate from South Africa Police to the post office to courier to a friend who will submit and collect papers for me. I had to pick up cat food and bought a new pole for an indoor climber plant and re potted it. I then hoovered and mopped and spent the afternoon on the laptop and reading. We went out for dinner and I was at the airport at 11pm ready for my 2am flight, allowing additional time for the extra security measures.

Monday and the flight to Istanbul went well. I may have had some sleep in-between watching movies and reading my book. My flight to the UK was cancelled and I spent 8 hours at Istanbul airport. On arrival in the UK at 4pm and after collecting my luggage, I collected car hire and drove down to South Wales, meeting my sister to collect the keys for our apartment. I dropped my case off, had coffee. I stayed at my parents for the night.

Tuesday morning I unpacked all the Ikea furniture. In the afternoon I picked up some bedding and did a basic shop. I spent the 2nd night at my parents. I sorted out issues with the solicitors and estate agents.

Wednesday I took my parents to see the apartment and met my twitter friend Pat at her house and we took the dogs for a long walk around the fields. I unpacked everything in the apartment, my nephew in law came round and assembled the bed for me.

Thursday morning with my sister and mother we visited Newport retail park and purchased a mirror, clothes horse and a photo frame. I collected the teen from boarding school for the Easter holidays, and after enlisting my sister's help to move a table from my mums to the apartment at 9pm, the teen and I assembled the Ikea sofa bed, which I'll be sleeping till he goes back to school, end of April.

Friday morning the teen and I went to Gloucester to collect Stephanie and took her out for lunch and to do some shopping, she battered the pair of us black and blue in the car, refused to eat her lunch, it was lovely to see her, despite it being hard work, I don't think I could manage her on my own anymore. We went round my parents house in the evening for my sister's birthday tea with all the little ones and we had dinner out and a few drinks, once the oldies and the little ones had gone to bed.

Saturday I woke up and walked the short distance (90 seconds) into town for a coffee and wifi, finally set up the utility accounts online, purchased a TV licence, paid the management committee, collected recycling bags and took a walk along the river and watched a dog agility event from afar. The teen and I assembled the last piece of Ikea furniture a chest of drawers and finally managed to get everything tidied away. My sister and niece visited for an hour and I went to see my friend and her children for tea.
85/365 Mum
 86/365 Relax
 87/365 Food
 88/365 Amaze
 89/365 Lesson
 90/365 Spring
 91/365 You Got Me

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - E is for Earth Hour
Parenting and PoCoLo - How practical is practical parenting advice?
Animal Tales - John's Giraffe
How Does Your Garden Grow? - In The Night Garden
Travel and Monday Escapes - New travel regulations to the UK with Turkish Airlines

I've also linked up with:

Spectrum Sunday - Planning a trip with a disabled young adult
Triumphant Tales - Supporting Adults and Vulnerable Children in South Africa
Tween, Teens and Beyond - Despite the kids leaving home I still do these things