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In Sickness and in Health.

The occupational therapist 👨‍🔬 was enthusiastically promoting the benefits  of the zimmer and raised toilet seat 🚽 to someone of my disposition when my husband returned.  I could see his eyes widen 👁 as I shimmied along on the zimmer, but it was the realisation that the  raised toilet seat  was also for me that made them water.  He wanted to be subtle but  his obvious horror🙀  was palpable. I knew he was doing everything he could to divert his thoughts from my ablutions and the assistance 🛀 he might need to provide. As I said in previous blogs,  our marriage 💑  vows ( much like my hamstring)  were being stretched to their limits.

I know him.  His  future flickered fleetingly before him; me in my  tartan slippers, rolled down stockings,  woolly housecoat and  curlers 👵🏼. But that wasn’t his biggest worry, no he was  wondering how the hell he was  going to get this equipment out of the hospital and into his car without anyone  👤 seeing  him. He didn’t hear a word any one said for the next ten minutes as he frantically worked out his escape plan.

I attempted to roll off the bed into my crutches with all the glamour and class 💃  of Marilyn Munro but  in reality was  more like Patsy  from AbFab tumbling out of the car legs akimbo🤸‍♂️ with the Bolinger 🍾 unscathed.    My husband had already disappeared conducting a surveillance of the immediate environs for anyone that might know him. Leaving me  to pile my newly acquired  household accessories  high on the zimmer,  much like a Thai flitting on a moped 🛵.  I edged out of the cubicle hoping to achieve a seamless exit with a single manoeuvre, a big enough challenge without a hamstring injury. Needless to say I failed. 🌀

When he caught sight of me 😲, common sense returned momentarily as he put me on a seat, planked the gear at my side and revealed his detailed plan on how we could leave without fear of being noticed.  This plan worked reasonably well  until the electronic door  🚧 in the ambulance entrance closed behind him leaving me abandoned with the raised toilet seat in a hospital no man’s land. If it wasn’t for the morphine dulling my senses I would have cried,  instead I sat there numbly 🤐waiting for the next ambulance to arrive and set me free.

In that moment of solitude I had time to digest the discharge 🤯 advice; to rest at least for 6 weeks,  with the longer term repair likely to take up to 9 months. I’m a pretty active individual; was cycling 🚴‍♀️ , playing badminton 🏸, walking🚶‍♀️ and of course enjoying frequent holidays🌴🌞.   Suddenly the enormity of this situation hit me;  I was going no where fast in this corridor and it would be the same with this injury. It was going  to significantly impact on my social, leisure and working life  and I had no idea how I might get through it.🙊

Within minutes my hero 👼 was back, realising he’d lost me, laughing at himself and finally accepting the toilet seat 🚽 was his responsibility.  In that moment I knew he would  get me through this 💞and I was in awe of  his commitment to me, while he grappled with more immediate matters. With a swift gaze around the exit, he swung the toilet seat  over his shoulder shielding his face from the passing public and threw it in the boot. Such was his haste to escape unnoticed he drove 500yds before he realised the tailgate was still open and the whole world could see what was in the boot.🤣🤣🤣

selective focus photo of gray metal folding walker
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

 

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Rabid dogs and Frankenstein

animal blur canine close up
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

So one day into our Harrogate trip and it was evident it had been a big mistake ⚡️ coming here with my leg in such pain.  Although getting into  town was fairly easy,  I was walking like  Frankenstein 🧟‍♂️ and it was not a good look – I had to get rid of the crutches.

Shopping  🛍 and eating🍱  out are among my guilty pleasures in life, so sair leg or not  I wasn’t prepared to forgoe either,  and  the crutches weren’t going to hinder me so I ditched them. However by 2pm my leg was throbbing so the promise of  fine dining was deserted for a reduced price Tesco Egg 🥚 sandwich. This decision of course gained maximum kudos from my husband as it   saved him  money💷.    By some miracle I stumbled and hobbled my way back to the hotel clinging to lampposts and moaning incoherently like a jakey despite the lack or pleasure of any wine🍷!   I immediately launched myself into the bath when we returned and  I  noticed extensive  purple bruising had started to appear on my leg😈.

By Wednesday I couldn’t sit  at all so tried to book a train home a day early.  Although possible it was costly 🤑.  Pondering this  in light of the egg sandwich decision, I  considered we could wait one more day since we already had first class tickets 🚞and all the comforts and extras  those promised.  In a strange twist of fate the  hotel owner noticed I was in agony and shared that she had slipped in the kitchen a few years ago and ripped her hamstring in two.  She’d spent 6 days in hospital and it took 9 months to heal. How bloody awful I declared, ha little did I know!🤪

On Thursday we set off home,  and I made a Doctors appointment en route because the pain 💊💊 was now as bad as it had been when I fell. We boarded the on-time ⏰  first train to York  but our luck  🍀 didn’t last. Because of Storm Ali the previous days trains  had been cancelled and now our train was over 2 hours late,  burgeoned with extra  passengers  and  devoid of  any seats and refreshments.  🙀

By now I was I was barking and snarling like a rabid dog  👹 trying to contain the pain.  All the money I had saved did little to endear me in this state to my husband who was wishing this particular trip to Harrogate had never happened. He was unable to provide any meaningful assistance and his best efforts failed to return me to the even tempered puppy 🐶 he started out with.

When the train arrived every seat, suitcase and  corridor floor space in first class was occupied. Despite hobbling among the crowds trying to look needy to the very important businessmen they  avoided my gaze 👩‍💻, perhaps my best Frankenstein impression scared them off.  The offer of a seat was eventually  provided by an elderly lady 😇 who availed me of my misery as we hurtled toward Edinburgh and home and I took it 🤭 (forgive me).  I just  hoped our train would get in on time.

My husband loves travelling by train but he had no seat until Newcastle and we were delayed a further hour on route.  We had nothing to eat or drink until we arrived in Berwick and suddenly the loaves and five fishes 🐟  appeared in the guise of bacon 🐖 sandwiches for those of us brave enough to be travelling on to Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿. Not long now until I saw the doctor and all my problems would be resolved. I was salivating 🤤  like Pavlov’s dog at the thought of that ….

 

 

 

Looking for Christmas (part 2)

My mother was clearly distraught, at 7 I wasn’t all that adept at knowing how to respond it these situations but her distress seemed to search inside me for the best response I could find. I gave her a hug, tapping her shoulder repeatedly and slowly to affirm my concern and telling her it would be ok. I had no idea if it would be ok, but it appeared to be the right thing to say. She released me from my hug, indicating for me to sit before her and drew in a deep breath.

“I’ve lost some money,” she said, and continued, “this money was for Santa to pay for the presents he was bringing”. There was a lot of information in this statement, I took time to digest it. I wasn’t aware you had to pay Santa for presents, I was trying to work out how payments might be made or where the conversation took place to barter between humans and Santa? I knew we had sent letters, perhaps Santa sent a receipt in the post, and you arranged to leave the money beside the mince pies and carrots for collection on Christmas Eve?

Usually there was a limit on spending, we knew about it, not always sure what it was but knew it existed because if we asked for too much the retort would let us know it was too expensive. ” That’s just not possible, move on” my mother would say and we knew we had to forget about it. There didn’t seem to be the same regulation with things we asked for in our letters to Santa.

Then the realisation began to dawn that if she couldn’t pay what would Santa do? Did he take tick? Tick was the colloquial term for Credit in Shotts, I had no idea what credit was either but I knew, or rather had pieced together meaning from adult conversations, that sometimes things could be bought now and paid for later. A man in a smart suit and hat would come to the house weekly and write things in a book and mum would give him money. I understood him to be the ‘tick-man’. Did he know Santa? I was perplexed by these revelations and worried about the consequences.

My mother wept into her handkerchief and I asked how much she had lost. She looked straight at me for some level of insight or understanding about how much a 7 year old could appreciate the loss of £300. In today’s terms that is about the equivalent of a purchasing power of £6, 700. I recall thinking we must have been getting a lot of presents! Dad was due home on Christmas Eve so we had to bear this knowledge alone. Mum had done what she had to do and finally called the police. It was unthinkable for her that someone had stolen it, but as it had been lost for so long and every corner searched, every piece of furniture overturned, every nook and cranny examined and still no trace, it was all we had left.

Two days til Christmas and there was a gloom around the house; the sparkle of the Christmas lights had dimmed and, as a 7 year old facing her first major crisis, I experienced a deep sadness and insecurity. The order of my world had been turned upside down by this loss; it had affected my mother so much there was an incredible change in her personality, she seemed to switch between hopelessness and anger. We kept out of her way. And we kids started to accept that Santa might not come and there would be no presents, or at least not what we had asked for.

On Christmas Eve, eve we went to bed and mum was settling all three of us down for the night. The wardrobe door was lying open and as she chatted to us she walked over to close it. In mid sentence, she stopped in her tracks. My bed was at right angles to the wardrobe, I could see her face, it contorted from realisation to horror, a memory flashed before her eyes, which diverted to look at me. And suddenly she was in the wardrobe pulling out a fur hat. This was my grandmother’s hat, it was real fur (a thing back in the day) with satin brown lining. Part of the stitching holding this lining in place had parted the satin from the fur and offered you a fabulous hiding place. She put her hand into the lining and pulled out the missing cash.

I leapt out of my bed, jumping up and down on the mattress nearly banging my head on the ceiling. My sisters knew something amazing had just happened but not what. My mother threw the cash in the air and it fell like feathers floating to the floor, just missing the roaring fire in our bedroom. Santa would be coming after all………………..

Looking for Christmas.

There is one Christmas that always stands out, it is quite a memory, but it’s not because of the joy and laughter I remember it, no it was because there was almost no Christmas that year.

We were living in Shotts with my Grandad at the time, both parents were working. Dad was driving long distance and often away for long periods and Mum part-time, as most of the time she was looking after us and my Grandad too. We three girls shared a room, so I must have been about 7 or 8 at the time. It was a big room for the 3 of us, there was a single bed, a double bed, a wardrobe, dressing table and fireplace. The wardrobe was about 5 feet tall, walnut with a pewter handle. It had a single door, with clothes hung to the left and right and shelving at the top on either side. It wasn’t for our clothes, they were stored in drawers, but my mother stored all of her glamorous gear in this wardrobe so we often sneaked in here to look at her clothes and dress up in her shoes.

The three windows in the bedroom overlooked the front of the street and our garden. The hall, accessed by the front door in the middle of the front elevation, gave access to this bedroom on the left and the living room on the right. I don’t recall if the front door was ever locked, when Grandad lived in the house he was never really out and we had a dog, which was the fashionable and affordable security back in the day. Anyone could have come in, I guess, but everyone had an open door back then and if we heard the door we would rush to see who had come to visit and what delights they had with them.

At the rear of our house we had about 6 steps leading to the back door, into what we called the back kitchen and a door out into the T-shaped hall. Within the T part were the other 2 bedrooms and bang in the middle was our bathroom. It would have been easy to access our bedroom but hardly unnoticed.

As Christmas approached we had already put up our tree, but something was not quite right. By the age of 7 I could tell when things were far from harmonious in the house, call it intuition or just being alert to the dynamics but I could tell my mother appeared distracted. We girls were all at school by now, apart from the youngest sister who was only just 4. Being out of the house at school meant we missed a large part of family life and by the time we returned home the usual rush to have dinner before brownies or the salvation army meetings meant you were pretty much oblivious to what everyone else was doing.

There was a sense of panic one night just two weeks before Christmas. Dad was off ‘down the road’ as we used to say, and mum had been searching for something for days. While this began with periodic glances behind cushions, or digging out old handbags, it built slowly toward a crescendo becoming more frantic as days went on. Grandad, who never did anything around the house, had even joined in taking to turning cushions over and even tipping the sofa upside down.

Looking on I was trying to make sense of the emerging chaos, but in all honesty had no idea what was happening. I knew however what ever it was it was bad; the adults were distraught. Our dog just looked on bemused while this tornado of torment continued. She was trained to recover things, but I’m guessing they thought her skills were just for the dog shows as no-one thought for a moment she could assist. I pushed this childish idea out of my head. While I guessed they were looking for something I was clever enough to know I was not able to help because my requests fell on deaf ears. What ever had been lost was significant. At one point my mother was in tears.

These were the days long before telephones and with dad away she had to bear it herself. She was 25 years old when I was 7 so her youth combined with her isolation seemed to add considerable weight to what ever it was she was seeking. Finally three days before Christmas she clearly had no options left but to take me into her confidence.

By 7 I guess you are mature enough to hear bad news, I mean, I might not have been prepared for it, but she must have had no choice but to tell me as my father was still not back from his travels. I sat down, and looked at her, my steady little childlike world about to be rocked by the news she had to share. I was a little nervous and could feel my heart start to pick up the pace as she looked me in the eye and began to tell me her story. It must have been a dilemma for her, knowing what I would make of this loss, knowing too it meant the end of my childhood. She clearly had no other option but divulge what was ailing her and end my fantasy right there and then………

Lapland

So while we were completely overjoyed at the early and safe arrival of our new grandson we were about to top this with the trip of a lifetime (for me at least) and taking the mermaid with us. I’m not sure whether this one was more for me than her but it was an incredible deal so I booked a trip to Lapland. I do love Christmas and have never lost the magic of the season, even into adulthood Christmas remains such a special time, evoking memories of long ago. I don’t often broadcast it but I am still a believer, ignoring the inevitability of reality, and clinging onto my desire for magic for as long as possible.

It was only a day trip so we had an early start, therefore the mermaid spent the night with us. This was not the best idea as I tend not to sleep when she’s here just because of the overwhelming responsibility that comes with keeping someone else’s child overnight. We had read that we needed to have plenty lairs on so we had prepared double of everything to pull on once we were up. I was wide awake with excitement at 4 am, then woke up the mermaid at 5, who was distinctly unfazed, to get dressed then head to the airport.

There was a jingling, jangling atmosphere in the airport where several day trips to Lapland were scheduled and little children, dragging their reluctant parents behind them, amassed in unprecedented numbers in the departure lounge. Gabbling with excitement, gleeful in anticipation their cheer was infectious. They raised the roof in the security hall with their chatter and staff had to work hard to focus on the more important task of making them all safe. Staff too had joined in the festive frolics, adorned in festive garb, tinsel tied in their hair and baubles replacing their earrings.

Before long we were all aboard and ready for take off. Flight attendants wearing elfin chic served mulled wine and mince pies, but the mermaid was busy colouring in, now feeling the early rise, she was looking for a more substantial breakfast. Santa (posing as the captain) was flying the plane, without Rudolph! But fear not for he was still there, colourfully shining brightly on the overhead lockers with each of his fellow reindeers painted along side him. Bells jingled, children were laughing, adults were singing and suddenly (but really after about 3 hours) we landed in Lapland.

It was 1pm and we had only 1 hour of daylight left. There was a lot of snow at the airport and it was hard to distinguish the roads from the pavements, shiny, slidey snow that was hard to walk on or find well trodden pathways. Once we had disembarked we had to locate our bus to transport us to be fitted for the required Lapland attire. It was -28 degrees and even double lairs weren’t enough to cope with this cold. After a few seconds outside, taking in the wonderful sights, it was onto the bus desperate for the heating. But you could not fail to feel Christmas had arrived.

At the changing station we were provided with onesies, in navy or red, hats, snow boots and gloves, especially essential as fingers and toes felt the bitter cold first. Once suitably kitted out the mermaid wanted to make snow angels so we ventured outside hoping our new winter attire would keep us cosy. She had the gloves off instantly making snowballs, falling down and loving it all laughing. At one point papa fell into the snow completely disappearing engulfed by a 10 foot drift. We pulled him to safety, covered in snow just in time to get back on the bus to head to Santa’s pad.

It was now about 3 pm and pitch black, our little village lay in a valley and was flickering with fairy lights welcoming our coach, it was so magical just as you would imagine. A white reindeer with bells along the red straps that attached him to a sleigh where animal furs were piled on for warmth, pulled us around the village, the wind factor reducing the cold to -36 below. After this we found the kitchen and had a warm meal served by elves; traditional in its offering, just what the people of Lapland would live on, chips with meatballs and spaghetti. Back outside, once we had managed to climb back into the onesies we took a husky ride. Our snot forming frozen laces stretched across our cheeks. The mermaid stood watching the dogs and was mesmerised, worrying where they might be sleeping tonight and how they were going to get warm.

Finally after several sleigh rides, snowman building, tobogganing and sleds we joined the queue to be transported to see Santa. In no time our sled loaded with blankets and fur skins arrived. Jingling with excitement as we climbed in and our safety helmets suitably secured against the elements. The snow was thick, laden on the fir trees feathery branches and frozen solid, the additional weight pulling them to the ground. The full moon shone creating an eerie runway amid the trees and as the huskies dragged us closer to Santa’s house there was an ethereal glow and calmness provided by nature in all its glory in this winter wonderland.

The sled flew along the hard packed snow and we could see smoke, still and steady, in the distance. An elf, scantly clad for this weather, waited excitedly while we climbed out, our faces red raw, our fingers and toes toastie from the extra clothing and the blankets. The gingerbread house door opened into a sea of warm, red felt and velvet curtains, a little log burner glowing in the corner gave warmth to the room and illuminated a massive gold throne. As we ventured inside following the scantly clad elf, the mermaid hesitated a little; fear rather than fascination the feelings at that time. Then I caught my breath, my stomach flipped and there was Santa, he emerged cloaked in glorious deep red velvet, lined with ermine and the white flowing, curly beard. Be still my beating heart….

Three years of total T.

Three years ago tomorrow around about 10pm we were introduced to our first grandson. We knew it was going to be a boy because advances in modern technology means that there are very few surprises left other than the date and time of delivery. But we even knew the date of this little one’s appearance because his mother was so ill and the risks associated with his safe delivery were extremely high. So it was that he arrived in a bath of lovely hot water with his mummy and daddy caught by surprise and the midwife catching a cup of tea.

I was at the birth of my first grandchild so waiting and wondering what was happening in the labour ward was the most excruciating silence you might experience. You cannot concentrate on anything other than the fact that your child might be in terrible danger and you won’t be there to help her. You will be pacing the floor, staring repeatedly at the phone, checking you have a signal, calling it to make sure its working and all the while there’s a little life, that has your genes inside him, fighting and wriggling his way into the world. Finally, after an eternity but in reality a few hours, the phone rang and a hurried, if excited and a little overwhelmed, daddy called to say he had arrived, I’m guessing he was overwhelmed because it was nothing more than an announcement that he had arrived.

Relief was palpable, the little thing that had been such a threat and risk to my daughter had become instead a little bundle of delight and joy but how would that play out for everyone? We couldn’t wait to meet him. We already have a grand-daughter who was also now a big sister, the family dynamics were already beginning to alter. She had worried ever so much about this little one’s arrival as children often do, she’d ask us frequently if we’d love him more than her. Her little face would tilt upwards to see into your eyes then, as she does so often, stared deep inside your soul, you could not be caught lying on any terms, this was such a big question for her. She’d been number one so long, her little fears about how love could possibly be shared among them were actually, if we are totally honest, the same for adults but we often didn’t have the courage to articulate them.

No manner of reassurance was enough to appease our mermaid but the experience of meeting this little bundle for the first time was confirmation for me at least that love was already there and plentiful. Despite her fears she opened her little heart to her brother and over the past three years has been such an exemplary big sister; so patient and tender despite his endless demands. She read him stories, sung him songs, taught him to hoop and how to dance. He’s taught her patience, what it is to love a sibling, to care when he cries, to find ways to distract him when she needs him to be quiet. All her initial fears were gone, the endless questions disappeared and slowly but surely she has matured into the big sister we all knew she could be.

From the beginning little T was a papa’s boy, they bonded early and he expressed such joy when his papa arrived for a visit. He would see the car arriving, and wait at the door in anticipation keeking past me waiting for the bigger prize and not concealing his disappointment if papa wasn’t with me. It’s been lovely to see this special bond grow and develop over the past few years. Don’t worry I’m still a delighted bystander.

So what has our Wee T become? The culmination of his first three years demonstrate how far he has come in his development. He is an expressive child, his delight is always visible often tangible, he’s inquisitive and in awe and wonder of the world around him, he’s impatient but easily distracted, one thing then another takes his fancy, and he smiles and laughs much more than he cries, but his sorrow is real and he won’t let you ignore it. He’s learned to say please and thank you at just the right times, and he sits at the table savouring his dinner and drinking now, from a big boy’s cup. He doesn’t need to try too hard to make me love him, he’s such a darling, gorgeous, loving boy.

Everyone says that being a grandparent is so very different from being a parent. Well that’s true in many ways, so often it’s good to pass them back, but any real absence is just an aching and longing to have them back. When we are on holiday WiFi is essential so that we can FaceTime or WhatsApp them and see their little faces, such is the joy they bring to us, words could never explain…………so tomorrow we will be wishing happy third birthday our little T x love from Gran (and Papa of course).

Social Bite is lucky to have my girl.

This year my daughter and her husband are sleeping in the park for the charity social bite. They’ve been raising money throughVirgin Media and I think so far they’ve reached their target. Of course they are not homeless, but are nevertheless unselfishly willing to sleep out in the extreme Scottish Weather to raise awareness and much needed cash for those that are less fortunate in life. By any stretch of the imagination this is quite an impressive commitment; they have stepped right out of their comfort zone to make this unselfish commitment to people they’ve never met. Granted you might be thinking “that is no big deal for one night is it? ” so I’m using this opportunity to provide a little insight to what her “comfort zone” actually looks like and then you can make your own mind up about it being a big deal.

My daughter found out a little too late she was allergic to pregnancy; 6 weeks too late to be accurate. She suffers from severe hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Described as a pregnancy complication, it results in severe nausea that can lead to weight loss and dehydration in pregnancy. It can also lead to deep vein thrombosis. She spent most of the 9 months of her first pregnancy in hospital due to complications with this condition. Then toward the final three months, as if she hadn’t suffered enough she developed Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD). This misalignment of the pelvis is common in pregnancy, 1 in 300 will get it. This condition causes, extreme discomfort and, sciatic pain and can affect simple tasks like walking. In her first pregnancy she was using crutches for the last three months

Her second pregnancy magnified both the HG and the SPD which were much worse, simple walking for the first six weeks was a problem. So my treat for her recent graduation; a trip to NYC was a bit of a flop since she struggled to walk at all for any of our short visit. ( it was a holiday could we expect anything more??).

SPD is caused by production of the hormone relaxin necessary for the ligaments to loosen and enable delivery, but in her case her body reacts badly to this hormone so much that by the 3 months her pelvis had separated so much she was on crutches. By 6 months she was in a wheel chair and had started to develop several DVT’s. Her delivery was a finely tuned performance with a team of over 10 specialists on hand to support delivery of her second baby. The risks to her own health, led the consultant obstetrician to propose that any more children were out of the question. Neither condition disappeared after the pregnancy as she was advised they would and her health has continued to deteriorate over the past 3 years. On the positive side her children are both healthy, and well (thank the lord). But SPD in pregnancy in particular has left her with constant nerve pain, pelvic and sciatic pain and a recent MRI revealed she has two bulging discs.

I don’t know the last time she had a full nights sleep, she cannot find a comfortable place in her bed. She has basically been advised by the NHS that they cannot do anything for her except to dispense a complex concoction of pain killers to help her get through the day. It seems pretty inevitable she’ll need them for the rest of her life. It’s so heartbreaking to watch, she is such a young woman. Like my daughter in law, she has had so much to deal with so young, and the total lack of any positive prognosis for this condition it is bound to affect your equilibrium.

As a mother myself I’m not sure where her parenting skills were honed, it certainly wasn’t on my watch. She does a very good impression of Mother Nature; her devotion and commitment to her children appears an inherent trait, it takes so little effort. She has also become involved in supporting the community and is becoming an amazing role model for her children. She rarely if ever complains about the constant pain she is in and is first to support any one that needs her help. She has continually made herself available to me during my challenging few months.

It’s hard to remember when she’s doing so much for me that she is struggling so much herself. Although she rarely gets a sleep, this week has been incredibly hard as her youngest has had an awful cold. He has a bit of a weak chest and struggles to breath sometimes. On Wednesday night after a prolonged period of nose-bleeding she had no option bit to take him to A&E. It was 3 am before they were allowed home but she didn’t get any sleep that night as a child that has trouble breathing is like living with a hand-grenade without a pin. And it’s been pretty similar for the last two nights. In addition to a sick child she was on civic duty yesterday flying the flag for the gala day at the Christmas light extravaganza. As if she hadn’t enough to do!

She has recently started a nursing course and is busy trying to write her first essay and prepare for her first exam this Tuesday. And it is her youngest’s birthday today so she has of course organised a party for family and friends, leaving her just enough time to organise her sleepover in the park tonight. It’s the reality for any young parents that sleep deprivation is a fact of life for the first 8 years (if you are lucky). Nothing can alter this, it has to be accepted and managed as routine as preparing your breakfast.

So tonight it is a bit out of the ordinary for them, they’ve put aside their own needs to support others. I am immensely proud that they are doing this. And I am sure that she will actually sleep if the conditions allow and the pain relief she needs work their magic.

I cannot say she is a credit to us, this girl is a credit to herself, determined, altruistic, generous in spirit and kind. While I am glad she has her prince with her tonight who will protect her but I am almost certain she has her own reserves to drawn on if she needs them. Sleep tight baby girl love you………………………..

Rehearsals for Christmas have been curtailed.

It has always been my favourite time of year, from a very young age I was mesmerised by Christmas magic and it’s never left me. My earliest memories of Christmas were full of joy and excitement reinforced by the happy times when we lived with my Grandad, my parents and two younger sisters in Shotts.

The Christmas season kicked off when we began preparations for the end of term school party. From the end of November we learned Scottish country dancing and were introduced to the delights of the Gay Gordon’s, Strip the Willow and the Military Two Step. If you were lucky (and your parents could afford it) you got a new outfit for what felt like a never-ending run of Christmas parties. It was such a busy time for budding socialites like me. Largely dependent on the social standing of the organisations that you attended and their predisposition for throwing parties, like the Salvation Army, the Sunday school or the Brownies.

As is true with every fanatic there are bizarre unexplainable behaviours associated with your obsession. For me these centred on precision planning for the Christmas discovery that Santa had been. In my opinion this required a finely tuned and masterfully orchestrated plan to reduce all possible margins for error for such an important occasion. To suppress any anxiety I had that I might miss Christmas Day (hardly likely) I organised weekly rehearsals. These were much to my sister’s consternation, as the rehearsals ran for four weeks up to Christmas Eve and were always in the middle of the night. As an adult you could never understand nor appreciate the necessity for such a rehearsal. However for a childhood fanatic like me it was essential; the order in which we awakened and the precision timing associated with the start of the big day was a matter of significant importance.

This was one operation which in my view could never be left to chance, nor could I ever envisage the circumstances that would mean I was not the person to announce that Santa had been. So in addition to making sure we were up, my priority was all about being the person who made the Christmas discovery. Such was my obsession I was unable to contemplate the scenario that my younger sisters would be the first to the scene. So the rehearsal was designed to reinforce the prevailing status and order among my siblings and that it was absolutely my responsibility to make sure this happened.

After all Christmas was such a rare but exquisite event when you were wee that you couldn’t afford to miss a thing or sleep in. Getting my sisters (who were not yet at school) out of bed in the middle of the night proved to be a very difficult task, they’d rather be sleeping than creeping along the corridor in the freezing cold. Because we shared a room they had no way to escape this drill, but at least this ensured that no-one else was disturbed. However they were sleeping so soundly (and one was in a cot), that it was almost inevitable there was a bit of a racket when I was getting them up. So much so Dad heard us one night and, although we did our best to blend into the wallpaper in the hall ( just as we had been practising), his late night discovery curbed the remaining schedule of rehearsals I had planned.

Therefore I had to find other ways to satisfy my longing for all things Christmas until one year the ultimate happened- I was awake when Santa called. It was Christmas Eve, outside the heavy snow had become hard packed under foot and was glistening like diamonds in the moonlight. I’d been up at the window on numerous occasions that night hoping to catch a glimpse of the man himself. Our fire was smouldering in the room creating a fiery glow at floor level. The windows were frozen on the inside, but the laughter of our neighbours making their way home from the pub caused me to scrape a small viewing pane. They were sliding, throwing snowballs and partaking in other festive foreplay on their way home. This upset me greatly as it was highly unlikely Santa would appear while they were still up. I climbed back into bed unable to sleep, crippled with excitement.

Back in my bed, I’m sure I heard bells ringing. Now I am not 100% sure of this, but something stirred outside making me hold my breath to aid my hearing. There was a rustle of papers and stamping of feet and I heard my Grandad, who was babysitting, say in quite a clear and unaffected way, “Oh it’s you Santa, come in!” Without response I heard his heavy feet stamp on the doormat, I imagined him clearing off the snow from his boots before he entered the hall. I felt the air in the bedroom chill as the door continued to be held open for what seemed an age, and finally I let my breath fly out of my nostrils into a frosty cloud when I was sure he had entered the lounge.

I was terrified and excited all at the same time but I noticed I was frozen to my bed. I was quietly frustrated at my Dad for curbing the essential drills that would have enabled me to sneak out of the bedroom and into the living room where Santa was being entertained by my Grandad. But I was also grateful because I’m not sure how I would have responded coming face to face finally with the great man that Christmas Eve.

Transfixed, I lay there wide awake, breathing deeply, wishing and wondering about the delights awaiting me the following morning when I got up. If I didn’t sleep in I’m pretty sure I would find out…………………..

Flying the Flag for British Airways.

Never forget that you have a choice, when you travel. We have flown with a range of air carriers on international, European and internal flights. For our holidays to the USA, I will now only fly British Airways. The reason for this will become clear as this blog is all about the quality of customer experience on offer.

We have flown Continental from Edinburgh on several occasions, twice when we went to Nashville and twice when we went to Vegas. We travelled on a basic economy ticket on these flights and they enabled connecting flights to our destinations in the USA from New York, Newark airport. The main benefits were that they left from Edinburgh only 15 minutes from our home and we were able to book our luggage all the way through to our final destination. Although you did have to collect it at Newark and pass it to staff at a central point to redirect as appropriate.

On the Continental flights we had around a 3 hour layover in Newark, which is actually quite a nice airport with a sufficiently interesting and varied range of quality dining and drinking experiences to make it pleasurable. However, on the down side, on each occasion that we used Continental there were delays. In fairness we acknowledge that delays do happen and there are often a variety of legitimate reasons for it, as seasoned travellers we accept this inconvenience as long as it’s not too frequent. Travelling outward Continental delays were not so common, however on all our return journeys that connected in Newark, the flight was overbooked and delays as a result of this caustic organisation were common. Passengers played cat and mouse with the carrier awaiting increased amounts of cash to travel the next day, and all the while the inevitable delays associated with this game were lengthening.

This was not uncommon practice with most airlines, we have learned. However the frequency and overt nature of their malpractice created dysfunctional customer relationships based on greed for the few rather than satisfaction for the many. It put me off using them for future flights and we have found a much more customer focused experience with British Airways. Now I accept that it won’t always be this way for every customer, but for me I’m flying the flag for BA and there are important reasons for that.

Our first long haul flight with British Airways was indirectly booked through a tour company taking us on a trip of the Music Cities of the Deep South (if that sounds good it will be covered in a later blog). My husband became ill on the internal flight and the service we received as a result was first class. I was so impressed with the attention and care we received I felt compelled to write and express my gratitude. In addition, for the remainder of that journey, they upgraded us to business class and once you’ve had a taste for that, well there was no going back really.

This necessitated an exploration of their website and, in an unusual but not regrettable step, I joined them as a member. This was, in the beginning, just to be advised of offers via email. This was reasonably effective and how I first became aware of their world sales. I also realised that we could fly business class at a much reduced cost, particularly if we were able to travel at non-peak times. We have worked and saved our money to enable us to travel quite a bit when we retired so this was something we felt we wanted to experience again especially on long haul. Buying our flights this way increased our membership ranking and this provided additional customer loyalty benefits that among other things include free flights. What was not to like about this??

We have travelled to the USA with British Airways on several occasions now. We have not experienced any major delays, barring a recent experience when our connecting flight to Edinburgh on our return from the Caribbean was delayed. I’ve already stated how helpful, compassionate and supportive the BA staff were when we needed to get home in a hurry. What I did not mention however was that the hotel we had been staying in, Coconut Bay Resort and Spa, was part of a British Airways package we had booked. Other than gaining their assistance in contacting BA to arrange our flight home, we had made no representation to them about our stay having been cut short. We only had time to check out after 4 days, leaving 10 days of unused all inclusive holiday costs behind us.

So it was an incredible surprise, and one that actually had me in tears, when BA called me this week. They wanted to speak to me about having had to cut my recent holiday short, “what a nice gesture” I was thinking. Then she went on to advise me that the resort wanted to refund the part of my holiday that I was unable to have. I had not expected nor requested this I reported through my uncontrollable emotional response. I had thought we would need to seek compensation from my travel insurance claim. But not on this occasion, not when you book with BA.

Within 3 days, a substantial and unexpected refund went back into my account. Apart from the obvious good fortune creating more than a glimmer of warmth and fuzzy feelings amongst the recent darkness that had befallen my family. And it was further reinforcement, if any was needed, that you can’t go wrong with BA. I for one will always, always fly their flag. When I have needed them, they have been right where I needed them to be, with minimum fuss and maximum effort. From the bottom of my heart thank you, so much British Airways……………