Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year In Pictures

Stolen ungraciously from Jill in Alaska (with all the rules broken):
My year in pictures

To be honest, December: Has been just about the best ever

November: When the kitchen became this

October: Graham Robins photo. Just to prove I wasn't slacking
September: Not my photo, but my soul. I managed the 3 Peaks.

End of August: Finally, I rode my bike again on the Wild Wales Challenge

Cheating a bit here - Early August: Work started on the house

In July I went out for a ride with dad the day of his 60th birthday and he made me go over these cobbles.

June: When I made some offhand thoughts about moving here.

May: When I made some offhand comment about a new kitchen

In April, a day out with the Peterborough CC

March: An ode to what was March (fixing up the vanu) and what was enabled by the end of March.

For the long shaddows and the joy of being back on snow. February

New Year's day in the Peak District. That's my dad with the tree he wants his ashes scattered under.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Family Member

All hail Lenny. Prince of Cats.

Actually, Lenny is from a broken home - a violent partnership where the man involved has done something so bad that Lenny could not stand to be near the husband of the lovely woman who was fostering him on behalf of the cats' protection league. He would, apparently hiss and spit at S. when he walked by Lenny's pen and S. was quite perturbed - he couldn't be near Lenny for fear of being savaged and for a man who loves and cares for cats so much, that's hard.

So it was with some trepidation that TSK entered Lenny's pen, having watched from the kitchen window whilst Lenny and this Trep had a quick and happy introduction. Lenny was by no means enthralled by TSK's presence in the pen but there was no hissing, no spitting, no growling and TSK was quite well behaved too. Lenny even chanced receiving a stroke from TSK and ate a little food from the bowl he offered before slinking away into his fluffy hidey hole.

I loved Lenny straight away. He's shy but reasonably forthcoming with me as a stranger. He's white, oh so white with black ears and face and a black back and tail. His whiskers ping! at you in white on black and his little black nose is shiny and inquisitive. He's a big cat for a yearling and I could tell there was a twinge of adventure in him. I could not wait to rescue him from his fears and his cold, outside pen.

TSK loved him to! Oh joy of joys. Lenny was to come home with us. I kept asking to make sure that TSK was OK with Lenny. I didn't want to saddle him with a cat that only likes me because TSK likes cats just as much as me - if not more. But he was fine with it all - prepared to accept a challenge, prepared to accept the odd nip and scratch, prepared to sacrifice a finger or the occasional arm, prepared to be ignored for a while.

We took Lenny home - a traumatic ride in the vanu, sitting in the new cat box but his fosterers sacrificed their blanket to travel with him to give him some comfort.

Back at the Orchard, Lenny took his first steps out of the cat box. Our intention was to show him where the litter tray and food and water was but before that, he legged it under the kitchen cabinets and there he stayed for the rest of the night. I knew I should've finished the kickboards before I got the cat.

I spent the night worrying about what to do. Would Lenny come to spend the rest of his life under the cabinets if we left him to his own devices? Would he never experience the joy of family life if he didn't push himself to try it just once? Would I have to get down on my belly on the tile floor and pull a screaming hissing cat out from under the cabinets?

You can imagine my relief when, this morning, he was happily lying on his fluffy cushion in the middle of the floor?

He took tentative steps over to his food and ate carefully from the bowl, watching me all the while.

He had a stroke, he had a cuddle. I got TSK to feed him some leftover chicken scraps.

You can imagine our surprise when this was allowed to happen...

and those are TSK's arms, not mine.

All hail Lenny, prince of cats.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Chest infection
Back Pain
Noro Virus
Neck Pain
Chest infection

Since November.

Bring on holidays and 2009

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sad Times

I have blogged before about being the black sheep of my mother’s side of the family. Where others have done balet and tap and gone on to learn modern jazz, singing, art and acting, I ride bikes, fix cars and play in the dirt.

It was the shock of the year – and what a shocking year. My dad phoned to tell me that Uncle Terry had died. Not a gentle, something we’ve been waiting to tell you kind of died but an urgent, breaking news, nothing we can do kind of died. There was nothing to know, no answers, no explanation, no illness or discomfort, just gone.

The story unfolded at some traffic lights in town. The girls in the hairdressers noticed that one of the cars in the line didn’t move. He died somewhere between red and green. A tragedy of seconds. He was 61.

When I was little, Terry used to scare me. You see, contrary to popular belief I was a nervous child who clung to the apron-strings and hid away. Terry was a bouncy and enthusiastic man with a beard who encouraged everyone to do anything. It is possible that my have-a-go attitude today is somewhat down to my first forays onto the stage at Christmas panto to get a sweetie off the Widow Twankey. Yup, that was my Uncle Terry – in drag. The man wore boobs brilliantly.

Aside from his panto hilarity, Terry played many serious roles and was a director of many more plays at the Garrick theatre in Altrincham. He found the patience and professionalism to work with his family, playing alongside his wife (often cast as principal boy) and directing his daughter, my cousin Laura, in starring female roles.

No matter how busy he was with the theatre and his work as a nurse and healthcare professional, Terry always had time to invite visitors into his home and offer them any number of drinks or a simple cup of tea. It is this side of Terry I will remember most as they are my most recent memories and as an adult, those that are my true opinion of this man whose boisterous-ness scared me when so young.

When TSK met Terry last year I think he found it hard to believe that I was related to Terry's wife. Strictly come dancing was being heavily critisiced on TV and we settled into their warm suburban home with our usual glass of something warming for the cockles and talked of impending holidays to America.

Since his death, I have explained why I will hold this man in such high regard and why I hold this side of the family so precious to me. They represent a part of my life that is lost to me. I stopped dancing at around 9 or 10 years of age. Since the age of about 14 I have slightly regretted that decision. Who knows whether I would’ve had the tenacity to stick at it any longer or anywhere different? Nontheless, when I go to see a play, a show, a performance of any kind I find it difficult to control my emotions. Most people are impressed but I feel moved to some greater degree – tear in my eye kind of stuff. Perhaps I’m just soft but I find it inspiring to watch others excel at something I genuinely found difficult to stick to and to master.

So I loved this man and his family for giving me the opportunity to get that little bit closer to that world which is so different from mine. At the same time, I love him for the mutual respect and regard he always held for me. The few times we got together in a year or another year, he would want to know what I’d been up to, where I’d been, what my next project was. Then he’d admit, “ooh bloody hell Andrea, where do you get the energy from? You’re bloody brilliant you know, you’d never catch me on a bike, ooh goodness me.”

I once had a chat with a friend about fear. She admitted to me that she wanted to overcome her fear of height and could not imagine doing the things that I have done when I climb. I concluded that fear is a very personal feeling because in contrast, there is no way I could physically stand on a stage in front of a room of people and sing or, for that matter, talk – never mind remember lines and cues. The reactions of fear for me on the stage are the same as my friend at the top of a mountain – sweaty palms, absence of voice, breathlessness.

So it is Terry’s mutual respect that I will miss along with his enthusiasm for life and interest in others, his support, his banter and his sense of family. Any regrets? I suppose I wish I’d asked Terry more about his work at the theatre but the problem is, he was so damn modest, all he was prepared to tell me is,

“it’s hard work but then, that's showbiz.”

We said our goodbyes to Terry on 15th December at Bowdon Church. The church was filled with colleagues, friends and family and he left the building to a standing ovation. See you later old friend.

Friday, December 05, 2008

And so it goes on

After one passionate night of gentle cuddles (as I regained full movement and managed the night without many trips to the little room), TSK now has The Lurgy.

It is a perfect opportunity for quiet, lonely internet christmas shopping.

Now where did I put the new credit card...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Revised Hell

I got a stomach bug in the early hours of yesterday morning so my new-found skill of being able to sleep in more than one position was shattered by not being able to sleep at all. TSK had to make another emergency pharmacy trip - this time for Dioralyte and anti-vomitting drugs. My body has achieved some interesting contortions this week.

At the end of it all, I felt like I'd completed an open 5 event - the same muscular pain and feeling of having consumed nothing but electrolytic drinks for the last 5 hours. For last nights dinner I gorged myself on 6 grapes and a pear before TSK came back from work with a packet of Complan for me.

How do old people drink that stuff?