Tuesday, 9 May 2017

miss you like crazy

grinding cocoa before shaking the pineapple tree

We were never one of those families who had grandparents and aunties and uncles regularly popping by. In my infant days I spent time with my Grenada grandparents, who were in London when I was born but I was too young for these memories to remain. Into my toddler years I certainly remember hazy, lazy days with a wonderful great-aunt who's daughters became my surrogate sisters; but that too came to an abrupt end.

We became a nucleus. A fortress of four that occasionally journeyed from suburbia into the city walls of London to visit our Caribbean extended families; as the years passed, the gaps between visits grew wider.

The GeordieLad's experience is not the same. He comes from a family that were used to each other's living rooms, Sunday dinners and Christmases. The love, laughs, support and birthday money that he had taken for granted was extended to me well before our wedding bells; his family circle widened to include me from day one. So when we became parents I planned to ensure that our girls saw all extensions of our family more often than at the obligatory weddings, christenings and funerals. And they do. We all do the best we can.

However, my Grenada grandparents cannot be part of this, returning back to their homeland in the 70s we exist in each other's lives through faded photos and fortunately, the rare visit. Now great-grandparents, we took the opportunity to take our babies during my maternity leaves but they were so very young that it was unlikely they would remember them at all.

So last year's summer holiday at my Dad's Grenada home was invaluable. They were now of an age where they could interact with their Great-Grandparents - it was an opportunity we could not afford to waste. Despite my Grandfather being invalid and quite poorly, the girls were respectful of his unpredictable behaviour and made sure they chatted to him about their adventures, even though he would often not respond. They knew he was listening and the morning we spent manoeuvring him down to the beach will be a lasting moment for us all. 

And as for my Grandma. Well, depending on which branch you sit on the family tree denotes the relationship you have with her. I do pretty well, thanks very much. The girls, do even better.  We'll not mention how my Dad gets on. She might have talked in riddles and roundabouts that made them look to me for interpretations (which I  would respond to with a 'yes Grandma' until they got the idea) but she taught them how to roll grind cocoa and churn ice-cream on her birthday. She showed them how anything can be stored in a freezer and took them on a photographic journey of her life in 1960s London. She also made them laugh with her sayings and gave them nicknames that would have prompted tears had I thought of them.

Saying goodbye to my Grenada grandparents was one of the hardest things my girls have ever seen me do. They don't like to see me cry. It's unlikely we'll be back there anytime soon. Yet I'm certain the girls understood that just because you don't see someone everyday or even every year, it doesn't make your love for them any less. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

1st of da month

Goodbye April. 

The month where I turned 45.

Here are my April #smallmercies

Has it been April showers or fun in the Springshine for you?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

1st of da month (a belated one)

A very belated Goodbye March. 

The month where I was in charge of small children running around with pretend laser guns, kicked off the birthday season at TwickersTowers, got all inspired around amazing females, dusted off my career and discovered I can't leave my house without wanting to write a new story with new characters.

Here are my March #smallmercies

Did March disappear quickly for you too?

And as for you April - well that's also disappeared in a blur hasn't it?

Monday, 24 April 2017

shout, shout, let it all out

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_sifotography'>sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Back in my early teaching days, if we were celebrating someone's birthday with the usual slab of cake in the staffroom we would give that someone carte blanche to have a rant and a rave. This was the birthday rant. About anything and to anyone, but it could only last on your birthday.

Needless to say no-one ever took up the mantle seriously but we would all have a 'giggle' at who we'd choose to unleash our birthday rant to. Usually that kid who took it upon themselves to make your Monday period 1 lesson a living hell or the suit in the office that had forgotten what a classroom looked like but insisted on telling you what you were doing wrong.

No, we all took the higher ground. Unless the birthday celebrations went on too late and got a little too messy that night. Suddenly, everyone would be claiming their birthday rant!

But doesn't age give you that right to, how shall I put it, give people a piece of your mind? I'm spending some time considering this because I still cringe at the times when, upon discovering the price of an untagged item at the till, my mum had no qualms about complaining "How much? That's ridiculous, put it back Nicola" and I'd have to skulk away with burning cheeks back along the queuing aisle. Why couldn't she just pay it and return it later? I'd think with my no-responsibility-no-damn-clue-attitude.

However, it was her money, her choice, her right to raise her voice wasn't it? Maybe. And I do find myself irked more and more about poor customer service, the behaviour of people in the street or in their cars (don't get me started on kids without seatbelts) and yes, things that are ridiculously priced.

So perhaps Mum was right to voice her consumer distaste.  Maybe we do get to a point in our lives where we think Nope I'm gong to have to say something about this. Whether it's paying a joke for a plain white t-shirt or when the shop owner in the village corner shop doesn't look you in the eye or thank you for your custom but is happy to take your money. 

I don't think ranting is in my nature but I can certainly string together a strong word or two.  And maybe I'll wait to re-enact the whole How much? scenario to embarrass my own three  daughters another time ...my day will come.

Until then, I will continue to save my tirades for the TV...I'm good at that.

Monday, 13 March 2017

if i had a photograph of you

Do you have a plethora of family photos scattered all over your house?

Or are you one of those organised people who manages to get all your loved ones in one place to pose for a professional shoot?

Are you happy with the obligatory school uniform grimace or have you forgotten what colour your living room is because of all the holiday snaps adorning your walls. 

Or maybe you don't have any; for one reason or another.

I love a good photo. Now this sentence will have my Father chomping at the bit as I spent the greater part of my teens turning the other cheek before the shutter clicked.  I hated my photo being taken.  Still do.

But I do love to see family photos on my walls; meticulously levelled up the staircase, lovingly angled on every spare windowsill, protruding from holiday sand-filled bottles on shelves, perched on any unused flat surface I can find. And I love going into other people's houses and looking at all their family photos too. A physiognomy ancestry before my very eyes.

My goodness, she's the spit of your sister. 

Yes, she has your eyes doesn't she?

Which side of the family is he from?

Is that your childhood house?

And then there's my fridge. Magnets are demoted in favour of old passport photos and random images from disposable cameras that were fortunate enough to be in focus.  

The photos in our home tell of school, yes, and holidays, yes and of course weddings. But they also tell of that day when she wouldn't listen and the day I was glad I carried a change of clothes in the boot of the car and the day when we knew it was serious and the day our lives changed forever. These photos will tell stories when we forget the minutiae of the moments.

If truth be told, in this digital age of disappearing images, I harbour a secret desire to fill one entire wall in a collage of us. But something tells me that it wouldn't just stop there.  

This post was inspired by The Photographer's Gallery: familyphotographynow.net:FamilyCollages

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

i hope you dance

Credit : https://www.facebook.com/budsandbranchesphotography/
I've always said I'm not raising girls, I'm raising women. The woman I am today is a direct reflection of the women I have come into contact with over the last 40 plus years. Whether the experience is inspirational, heart-warming, frustrating or downright infuriating, I've learnt much from many.

And so on International Women's Day 2017 I cast my mind to my future hopes for my three daughters.

I hope, first and foremost, that they are happy and healthy and look forward to waking up in the morning. But if at anytime, life's path gets too rocky, I hope they have choices to help them through the difficulty days.

I hope they find comfort when they look back on their childhood. That they are warmed by the memory of dancing in the kitchen and re-tell stories of their misdemeanours to the next generation. That the music and the clothes and the photos will be looked upon with smiles because the happy outweighs the sad.

I hope they seek guidance from the women in their family and friendship circles.  That they know who to turn to and to trust when, maybe, I am not enough. Right now, the women who fill our lives are honest and loving and spiritual and hilarious and carry each other in their hearts.

I hope they develop a voice that enables them to speak up for themselves, to speak out against wrongs, to ask for support when they feel downtrodden, to give advice when they are experienced enough to provide it. To say sorry but only if they mean it.

I hope they achieve what they set out to achieve.  That they follow their passions and share their enthusiasms and that they are able to carve escapes out of their ruts.  That they are encouraged by other women to succeed and then, in turn, lower the ladder for others to follow.

And lastly, I hope that they can spend time with each other to smile and laugh and cry and argue. That their sisterly ties become secure over time, distance and life. And I hope they dance together in their kitchens.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

1st of da month

Goodbye February. 

The month where I have shivered at rugby matches wrapped in layers, been buffeted and blown through my supermarket car-park, got pelted by hail-stones as big as my cat, decluttered my shed on a sunshiny Sunday ...and regretted not staying up for this year's Oscars.

Here are my February #smallmercies

What did February do for you?

Hello March!