Saturday, 22 July 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 29 - Organising a funeral.

I went from saying 'my dad died last night' to 'my dad died last week'

They say time heals, I don't think it does at this moment in time, I think it changes things, not just a way of life or the way we say or do things. In such a short period of time, I've been able to let so much stuff go, stuff that caused me heartache, no longer matters.

Time has also blurred events. I can recall events but not the order of things. It's been important to my mum that I write my weekly blog post, it's part of her routine to read it on a Sunday evening. Last week when we were trying to piece things together, she said she couldn't find my blog. I of course hadn't written it, but I had posted my daily photo's, why? I hadn't washed for 4 days, have hardly slept since my dad died, but I'd taken and posted my One Daily Positives.

Alex child 5 had tests online this week for his apprenticeship application, he was sick and had a really bad headache, so we moved him to my mums house from the flat where he'd been staying on his own, he'd been cooking for himself and keeping the flat clean and of course we'd been spending a lot of time with him during the day, but he was with me, when my dad died and I'd been neglecting his grief, focusing fully on my mum and her needs. Dan child 4 deployment was postponed due to an issue with visas so he's back to Northern Ireland on a week Monday night, after the funeral.

197 Sunday - My Secret Wish.
Drove Jamie and Vic back to Leeds, well Dan drove them back and I navigated, handed out the snacks and got to spend some precious time with my boys before they emigrate and get deployed. Jamie is coming back down for the funeral a week on Monday, but Dan will be deployed by then.

198 Monday - The Daily Down
It's really strange doing normal things, life truly does go on, while I'm screaming in my head as I walk round town 'don't you know my dad has died' I'm ordering coffee, singing along to the radio and chatting randomly to people in town. I had to speak to the coroner and my dad's GP in the morning they called my mobile, not the landline thankfully. My mum just couldn't answer the phone the first week. I had to go through events again from the night my dad died to help ascertain the cause of his death. He had a stroke, I knew that at the time. I went food shopping and the Dr's called to say the death certificate was ready. I broke down in the surgery, my dad's GP took me into his room and sat with me answering questions and letting me talk about what happened for nearly an hour, it really helped. The GP was shocked my dad died like this, he didn't expect that my dad would go this way and so soon.

199 Tuesday - Soft Focus
We registered my dad's death in the morning, then drove to see the vicar from the church in Malpas where my dad grew up, my gran attended for 60+ years and my sister and I were christened. During the visit, the 2nd GP called to go through the details of my dad's death again before he could sign the papers required for cremation. We had to drop a green slip from the register to the funeral directors so they could collect my dad's body from the morgue, so the 2nd GP could inspect all the paperwork and sign off. We picked the photo for the order of service, my dad had selected the hymns, reading and a poem and we've picked Elvis 'The Wonder of You' as we leave the crematorium. I'd started the Eulogy over the weekend, after finding my dad's CV and writing bullet points, mum started adding to it.

200 Wednesday - Thank you
I had my nails done in the morning, coffee and back to my mum's as my 2 aunts came to visit. My dad's youngest brother died last year, his middle brother 6 years ago, his mother 11 years and his father 50 years ago the same week. My dad was the last one. Now there's the 3 wives and my sister and I have 3 cousins. Sadly over recent years, we've only met up at the family funerals. We had a lovely day, lots of tears. We worked some more on the Eulogy in the evening.

201 Thursday - Mini Me
I really wouldn't have got through the last week without my wing man Dan. He's stayed at my mums so I can go back to the flat and get some sleep, he's shopped, looked after his brother, run errands, cleaned etc. I spent the day tidying and cleaning the flat had an uninterrupted bath and managed to switch off for a few hours. I took my dad's medication to the chemist to be destroyed and at some point I remembered to email the florists to confirm the wreath order and emailed the family name list. He drove me to Birmingham in the evening to collect Peter from the airport.

202 Friday - School's out
I was caught off guard today by the funeral directors calling me to discuss arrangements for Monday, lovely guy, he knew my dad from the family funerals over the years and sounded very genuine when he offered his sympathies. Mum and I went to the bank and had a coffee, she's been out a couple of times and we decided to go food shopping in a neighbouring town. She found it really tough, she just didn't know what to buy, we've been shopping and cooking for her all week, I guess the 1st, 2nds, 3rds etc are going to be hard. We finished the eulogy and sent it to the vicar. Peter and I went out for dinner, I struggled, that was too normal for me. I did get an early night though.

203 Saturday - Holiday
Will someone give me a break. I was woken at 2.15am by the tenant in the upstairs flat breaking the communal door down as he'd lost his keys, pressing the intercom buzzer and screaming abuse at me. I didn't get back to sleep and in the morning I discovered the door was broken, despite me having finally buzzed him in, once I'd been able to identify who it was through the window without him seeing me. I reported it to the police and had it logged as criminal damage and in the morning I went to the rental agent who basically said it was nothing to do with them, so I arranged a locksmith through the property management company and liaised with the other flat owners. I also went to have my nails redone as the gel had started peeling after a day. I really don't need any more hassle at the moment. We went to mums in the afternoon. Andrew child 2 and Gemma visited and Peter took them and Dan and Alex out for a curry. My niece also came round with her husband and the 3 boys. They've been round in one combination or another most days to see us. The boys are cuties, the middle one who is almost 2 growls at me and likes to run off with our shoes, but he gives me a kiss and cuddle goodbye and lets me put his coat and shoes on before he leaves, almost releived to be leaving me behind.....lol.


On the blog this week:
My Sunday Photo - C is for coping 








Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Finding flamingoes in the desert and a rogue black swan


Flamingos are like airplane passengers, they stop over in Dubai before returning to their traditional breeding grounds in Iran.

Over half the flamingo population, around 1,500 birds remain in Dubai over the summer. It is hoped that they can be encouraged to breed in the 620-hectare sanctuary which includes mud flats and mangrove lagoons.


Flamingos can be found in 2 locations in Dubai. Above at the Ras Al Khor Nature Reserve and can be viewed from 2 different hides.
Flamingo hide, off Oud Metha, and Mangrove hide, off Ras Al Khor Road, are open from 9am to 4pm for individuals or family groups.

And below at Al Qudra lakes, located in Seih Al Salam desert.
Al Qudra is a popular spot for camping and for dog walkers also.


As bizarre as it sounds to find Flamingos in the desert, finding a black swan, wandering and minding his own business was a bit of a surprise, especially as he was quite some distance from the other birds and the lakes.













Monday, 17 July 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 28. When my dad died.

As we all know nothing in life ever really goes to plan, I've had a difficult few weeks with my health and the teen ending school, saying goodbye to child 4 before his deployment to the Middle East, then after a couple of days where things were looking up and I was preparing for the next emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to child 3 before he emigrated to Australia, my Dad died.

This week has passed by in a blur. I didn't wash for 4 days, I slept at the flat, my mums, in a hotel as family came and went and I was accommodating everyone. I've food shopped and cooked, been out for coffee and after the first night after no sleep went out to buy my mum and dads usual numbers on the lottery. 

There has been random crying over the littlest of things, there's been an awful lot of anger, swearing and why now? There's a lot of stuff I can't write, don't want to write, not bad stuff but time is already blurring events, some of it won't be pleasant to read, how he died etc, some things are for talking with family and close friends only, not everything is for blogging. 


Sunday 190 My View
I met my mum and dad at the boot sale, decided the first one wasn't that good so drove to another one before heading off to the Speech House for coffee where we sat and chatted in the garden for over an hour. They went home and I popped in to visit an old friend and neighbour. I stopped off at Cannop Ponds to take a few pictures, nothing had changed since the times when I took my kids there as small children. I called in at my parents on my home, I can't remember why I did now.

Monday 191 Red
I spent the day with my sister in Cwmbran shopping and preparing for child 3 and 3a's farewell party on Friday and making some space in a one bed flat for all my son's stuff to be stored in, thankfully when child 5 finally gets a job and moves out, he'll be taking most of it with him as it's mainly kitchen ware, but there will be a suitcase and a set of golf clubs my son wants me to keep for a while yet till he decides what to do with them. I had some photo's printed for a frame I've been meaning to fill for a while and went out for coffee. I think I called in at my parents house, but I can't remember now and it's bugging me.

Tuesday 192 Cute
Started like any other day, except now I can't tell you what I actually did other than pop round to my parents to drop off some toy trains I'd picked up from the car boot for my great nephew around 4pm, the teen and I stayed till around 6pm. I cooked dinner back in the flat, went out to visit my friend for a couple of hours and around 9.30pm my sister rang to say my dad had collapsed and it wasn't looking good according to my mother. I grabbed my phone charger, told the teen to get dressed, grabbed clean underware, t shirt, toothbrush and my bag, prepared to spend the night at the local hospital, as my dad has been unwell for some time, or at the very least stay over night with my mum. When we arrived it was very clear my father wasn't going to make it, I called the ambulance back, my sister arrived, my mother got dressed, a paramedic arrived, we were ushered outside. I phoend my husband, I phoned a friend, there was 3 rapid response vehicles, a fire engine, 2 police cars, several neighbours. I have no idea of the time scale, at one point I collapsed, I gave a statement to the police, the undertakers arrived, a neighbour came round and then everyone was gone. My mother loaded the dishwasher around 3am, we went to bed, at 5am she was tidying up. I know at some point I rang my husband back and the 3 other boys to tell them that their granddad had died.

Wednesday 193 Contrast, taken 3 days earier.
At 9am I was dispatched to fetch my mum and dad's lottery tickets and to do the food shopping, I was on auto pilot, I fetched coffee, I grabbed a change of clothes. At 3pm my nephew and I were at Cardiff airport collecting child 4, his deployment had been delayed, the army sent him home for the rest of the week. I ranted, shouted, swore and awful lot, I didn't sleep, but I went back to the flat as I had a migraine and left child 4 with his nanna for the night. I have no idea what anyone else did that day, other than make endless phone calls.

Thursday 194 Amaze. My dad used to moan at me all the time for being messy, so I left this here all night, because I could.
Apart from going to the funeral directors and booking the wake, I cooked a meal for 4 of us and at midnight I met child 3 and 3a at the flat who were down for the weekend anyway. I stayed at my mums. Child 5 sat an online test for the next round of interviews for an apprenticeship. He was at the house on Tuesday, I spent the first 24 hours focusing on my mum before realising I've actually lost my dad and finally remembered that it's not just me grieving, my children have lost their grandad too and need me also. I'm finding it all very difficult right now. Peter has booked a flight to arrive next week. Child 2 and 2a came down for the evening.

Friday 195 Blue
We decided to go ahead with the party, a few extra people were invited and the decorations for Australia were put up. I kept going on about an inflatable kangaroo I'd bought and that I didn't want all the food going to waste. We actually had a good time with everyone, it was really strange without my father here. I want a break from the house, I need some time away but I've nowhere to go, the flat is full of the kids. I realised I hadn't had a bath/shower since Tuesday morning, I'd misplaced my toothbrush and took myself off to a hotel for the night in town and I managed 8+ hours sleep. Child 4 stayed with my mum again.

Saturday 196 Drink. Dad had been saving this bottle of fizz for 25 years for a special occassion, it popped but had gone off.
I had no idea what time it was when I woke, I dressed, left the hotel, got coffee at the BP garage and picked up the Daily Mail. My dad always bought it on a Saturday and it was a bone of contention between us. He would read the stories in there and get so wound up with the current state of affairs. I arrived at my mums to discover I was locked out and with nowhere to go I sat in the garden from 6-7am when she woke up to let me in. I read the paper, drank my coffee and replied to some of the lovely messages I've received from far and wide. I had a couple of hours out, had more coffee, tidied the flat, did a food shop and child 3 and 3a made a lasagna for dinner and a shepherd's pie for Sunday.
Peter and I have met 3a in Dubai in May, bless her, this was the first time she had met the rest of the family, what a way to be introduced to them all.

We've started going through the paperwork, we don't have a death certificate yet, we've had a fair few trips down memory lane, looking at his belongings, touching things we've never been allowed to look at, all under mother's supervision, going into the inner sanctums of the sheds, garage, snooker room and study, opening drawers and having a good mooch around things. We've all done what we've needed to do to help us process the grief we're all feeling.

Between us, my sister an I have 7 kids and my niece has 3 boys. It was always a full house, just sad that when we got round to filling it with us all at the same time, that my dad was missing from the action.




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Sunday, 16 July 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 133 - C is for coping

 This is my dad. I called his Douglas since I was a small child. I have no idea why, just something I've always done and strangely my youngest child calls me by my first name also.

I took this photo a week ago. I didn't know it would be the last picture I ever took of him, before he died suddenly at home on Tuesday night.

My dad was an ill man for several years, but his health didn't stop him doing things it just slowed him down. He got frustrated and angry because he couldn't do things and at 77 he still considered himself 55 in his mind. He was grumpy, opinionated and I'd try to expand his mind with my experiences of the world but we'd end up having a full blown row, but we NEVER left it unresolved. 

I sat with my dad on Tuesday night when he died, there was nothing I could've done. I know that from the minute I arrived at the house. 

I didn't know it would be just this hard. I'm not sleeping, I didn't wash for 4 days, but I'm making sure me and my mum have a proper meal every day. My boys have all been here. I have to keep trying to remember that they've lost their grandad, my mum has lost her husband as well as me losing my dad. 

We keep apologizing to one another, being frightfully british, taking it in turns to be upset, support, cry, laugh. 

The funeral has been arranged, clothes have to picked, eulogy written, flowers, I need a pair of shoes to go with my dress, son needs a tie (one of grandads????) banks, wills, pensions, I'm only scraping the surface here.

I'm driving child 3 back to Leeds today, he'll be back for the funeral. Child 4 deployment was delayed by a week and I'm taking him to join his regiment in Brize Norton on Monday. Peter arrives on Thursday, everything will be done by then and I can and will just switch off,  until the funeral on Monday. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Precious family moments with My-Picture photo canvas prints.

This is my family, a treasured photo taken in a car park in April 2017. The first time all 7 of us were in the same country since 2007 and the first family photograph since 2004. With one child emigrating to Australia this month, another on active service and Hubby and I living in the Middle East, I doubt we'll get the chance to have another family photo for a very long time.


It's not the best photo or location, but it is very precious to me and I wanted to display it, so I contacted My-Picture.co.uk who offered me a 60x40cm photo canvas print. It was simple to order, starting by uploading a photo and postioning it according to the size of canvas required, enter the code in your shopping basket and complete the postal details and pay for p&p.

With this special promotion code: CHICKENRUBY valid until 20th August 2017 you will be able to create your own, personalised 20x20 cm (retail price 29 GBP) or 30x20 cm (retail price 34.90 GBP) canvas print from www.My-Picture.co.uk completely for free (just paying for product shipping!) or use the code as a 9 GBP discount for ordering any other, larger format canvas print. 
Check out the other photo products available. I've ordered traditional prints for the children and grandparents to send around the world and the personalised photo blanket and photo cushion will make a great alternative as a gift for our eldest child who is disabled and less likely to damage them than she would a canvas print. As she is unable to verbally communicate or read, it means she only sees us a few times a year and this way she could see us, safely, on a daily basis.
Disclaimer: A free 60x40cm photo canvas print is on it's way through the post to me right now as I type. (Value £25 + £5 p&p) I will add a picture once it arrives and is displayed on the wall. If there are any problems, I'll be honest and let you know how the company dealt with it.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

A weekend in Northern Ireland and tips on Travel with Airmiles

I flew with Easy Jet from Birmingham airport for £71 return. If you're not bothered about the dates you travel, you can get some good deals with flights. I picked a Saturday morning, returning on a Tuesday evening. Easy Jet get a lot of bad publicity with seating, flights being over booked and additional costs such as boarding passes not being printed off. But their T&C's are very clear on their website and I've not had any problems with them at all.

I downloaded the boarding passes on the app, but if you can't do that and don't have access to a printer you can get the passes printed at your local newspaper office or library via email.

I used the Easy Jet website to search for parking and discovered Purple Parking. They offered 4 days secure parking for £23, quite a few miles north of the airport, but with a free shuttle bus and operational 24 hours. My other option was to park at family house, just as far out and get a taxi both ways at £24 for each journey. I'll be using Purple Parking again and they offer this service at many locations around the country.

I used booking.com to reserve accommodation in Northern Ireland, using my credit card to secure the booking and paying by either cash or card on departure. Booking.com offer free cancellation and re booking, T&C's apply.

I booked all the above via Air miles Middle East and used my HSBC credit card to get double air miles. I flew to the UK from Dubai with air miles with Turkish Airlines, 3 flights for under £200.

I didn't need car hire in Northern Ireland as I was visiting my son, but car hire was available with Rental Cars, again via air miles and we always use the website when we're visiting the UK as they offer a full and comprehensive package to include full protection. If we had an accident or there was any damage to the vehicle they guarantee to refund the full deposit that we have to pay when collecting the car and when we did have a problem with a car hire company, they sorted the issue out for us on our behalf.

The purpose of the visit was to spend time with my son before he was deployed and to meet his girlfriend and her family. There was plenty of time to see the see the major sites and to relax in the accommodation I'd booked.

Accommodation:
I had a delightful stay at Clenaghans. Self catering accommodation converted from old farm buildings, each property is unique, I had a kitchen/lounge fully equipped and included TV, wifi and basic food supplies for the duration of my stay. Upstairs was a bedroom with ensuite. Located 25 minutes from Belfast Airport and 2 miles from the nearest village of Moira. You would need transport or could walk the short distance to the train station, but I'd recommend using the local taxi firm, as the country lanes are narrow.






Places to visit:
Belfast and surrounding areas.
A trip into Belfast and surrounding areas is possible in one day. Belfast isn't a big city, but it mixed the old and the new together, well. We wandered around the shops, grabbed lunch, a coffee, climbed the stairs in Victoria Square to Dome View Point (a lift is available) to view the city and visited the City Hall, where I dressed up as Mayor.




We drove up to Stormont for a quick look at the Parliament buildings and a walk round the gardens.

Drove down Newtownards to take photos of the murals.



The North Coast.
I've never seen Game of Thrones and no more Jon Snow jokes please, I don't get them either. As far as I'm concerned Jon Snow is the guy with the swing o'meter who pops up during elections. There were dedicated tour buses for the route we followed.


Carrick-a-rede. A National Trust Property.
You need to book a time slot to access the rope bridge and go over to the Island, wear sturdy footwear and be prepared to get out of breath. Dogs are welcome, but not on the Island and there's a small cafe and gift shop as well as well kept toilets in the car park.





Dark Hedges.
No entry fee, available via self drive or on a coach trip, don't expect to get a photo like you see in the brouchers, as it's full of coaches and tourists, the lane is narrow with a few places to pull over and park, but if you drive past, there is a car park on the left hand side with easy access to walk from.


Giant's Causeway. A National Trust Property.
Plenty of parking, a gift shop, information centre and cafe, as well as well kept toilet and a small bus for an additional charge if you don't fancy the walk to the causeway. Do keep away from the edge, you will get wet. It's not as big as I'd thought from the photo's I'd seen, but make sure you walk round the back of the rocks to take a look at the full height.





Portrush.
A typical coastal town, harbour, fun fair, souvenir shops and way too many chip shops to mention.



There are plenty of places left to visit and I will be back over in March 2018. On my 'to do list' is the Big Red Bus tour, the Titanic Museum, The wetlands and nature reserves, Botanical Gardens, visit Bushmills Distillery and a million and one other things I'm sure I'll find out about before then. Feel free to add to the list.

Discalimer:
This post was not sponsored, I paid for all travel, accommodation and activities (well my husband did, I don't work) food, coffee and chocolate was paid for by child 4.





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