Tuesday, 17 September 2013


I took my daughter back to Lancaster yesterday in preparation for her final year at university.  After unloading all her possessions and taking her shopping I had to drive away alone which was quite a sad time.  I know she is happy to be back in her house and will spend hours rearranging the rooms and her belongings to make the place home.  
As I drove home through amazingly changeable weather, I encountered brilliant, even blinding, sunshine,  torrential rain and gusting winds.  At one point I came upon the most colourful and closest double rainbow I have ever seen.   Of course, as I made progress forwards the orientation and placement of the rainbow shifted, but at one point it appeared as though they were both touching   land on the motorway - imagine digging there for that mythical pot of gold!   How I wished I was able to take some photographs but sadly being on a motorway that was just impossible - no stopping either allowed, or sensible - what a shame.   I travelled with these beautiful colours for some miles before losing them which made the solo return journey that little bit easier to take.

Friday, 12 July 2013

New growth

Until the really bad winter of 2010/11 I had a lovely, tall cordyline in the garden.  It had got to the tree stage.  It survived the first bad winter we had the previous year, but sadly succumbed to the prolonged cold, snowy period over the following winter and lost all its foliage till I was just left with a bare stump.  I know I wasn't alone as I saw so many dying off on my drive to and from work.  All the articles I read about it said that if I left it alone it would grow back but it didn't.  Gradually other foliage grew up around the stump, although it still sticks out like a sore thumb, I have been meaning to cut it down but for whatever reason I didn't get round to it.  This evening whilst watering the garden, I was delighted to see it growing again  just not in the same place.  It seems to be making vigorous efforts - perhaps the wet spring gave it the boost it needed - and is now tall enough to stand out above the rest of the foliage.  Just to see it growing back where it belongs has given me great pleasure.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Blessings of Children - of all ages

Gosh such a lot has happened in the last couple of months and now here we are on the cusp of new beginnings.  
Firstly we got on the university visits merry go round again.  This time with our son, who has very firm views about where he wants to go and is not easily deflected.  This is good as it meant that we only had two universities to attend, although we had to go to one of them three times!  Initially he wanted to study History, until his father put the notion of American Studies into his head.  That was it for him - heaven on earth.  He did have to choose other options as well though, so he stayed with his intial choice of history.  One of his university choices didn't offer him a place - we were not surprised, it was what we expected, but the others did.  There were only two others, one offered him a joint honours course in History with American Studies but he would only get one semester at an American University and he really wants a whole year there.  Actually he would ideally love to transfer the rest of his course to an American University but that is a whole other story and not likely to happen.  That was York St John, a lovely university, right in the heart of the city of York - and consequently the car parking charge for the applicants day was eyewatering.
The second university we visited (again and again) was Hull.  Initially we went for a History Dept Applicants Day, with a short visit to the American Studies dept at the end of the day.  American Studies invited him to return for a full Am Studs Dept Applicants Day.  What can we say about Hull?  It is a lovely, warm, friendly and inviting university who give a profound impression that they really want the applicants to study at Hull.  When we returned for the second Applicants Day, as we walked into the lunch room  (Yes at Hull they feed their applicants and families - the only place that does and it all adds to the welcoming feel) as I was saying - as we walked into the lunch room, our son was greeted by name by staff who not only knew his name but remembered what his interests and passions are.  Now that is impressive.  If he wasn't already sold on the university and department, he would have been after that.
Hull is now his firm choice and his insurance choice - different departments though.  We are now at the stage of applying for Student Finance and university accommodation.  
The major hurdle to be overcome now, of course, is the grades.  Least said . . .

Tomorrow our daughter flies home from her third year, Year Abroad.  For some reason it appears that the Year Abroad, always has to be heralded with capital letters.  As she says, it is very strange to have come to the end of the Year Abroad, as it has been a huge part of her life for so long.  Long before going to university she knew that she would have to do the Year Abroad, and she spent her first two years preparing for it and worrying about it, then she lived it for a year and suddenly - it is all over.  She doesn't ever have to think about it again - well not after she has got the cultural essay handed in.  In October she will go back for her fourth and final year at university and then the real stressing will begin - oh yes.  What joy . . .

. . . or not!

In the meantime, I am just going to relax and enjoy her being home and being able to just phone her whenever I need to speak to her, rather than bashing my head against a wall because she won't answer texts or emails.   She can sort out her own problems, banking, hospital/doctor visits and not leave it to me to do whilst unable to get her to communicate with me. . .

... unless she needs something.  Which again is another story.

What a blessing children are.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Time at home, then a return flight

Well it has been great having my daughter home for a few days.  She did a lot of sleeping, and chilled out at home most of the time, except for the day she spent in London with her friend.  In all her rail travelling around Europe over the past few weeks, she managed to keep all her belongings with her, and arrived at her destinations, frazzled but intact.  Hahaha - one day on a train in the UK and she reverted to type, realising only on arriving home that she had left something important on the East Coast train when she alighted in Leeds.  Of course Mum did all the laundry which she tipped out of her bag.
On Saturday we had a good day together - out for lunch and a little shopping, then home to watch DVDs together whilst munching on freshly made cinnamon rolls - yummy.
Early on Sunday morning we had to be up and at it to get her to the airport for her return flight to Germany.  Getting her up wasn't so easy but we got out, only to be thwarted by the speed restrictions in the miles and miles of roadworks on the M62.  
She arrived at the airport check-in desk  to be told that she was two minutes too late to check in  and the airline wouldn't accept her.   We were told to go to the SAS customer service desk to arrange to get the next flight, but when we got there, they were adamant that they couldn't do anything about it and she would have to ring customer services in London.  Fine - except that the number they gave us wasn't accepting calls, so we were given another number in Germany - that number was wrong but the man at the desk was adamant that it was the right one.  Funny though, whenever either of us tried it we go a recorded message saying that the number was not recognised.  Eventually he gave us another number - in Belgium!!!  Needless to say, that didn't work either.  In the end she gave up and booked another flight on a different airline even though it cost her a king's ransom.
On that flight an attendant took her handbag off her and put it in the overhead lockers, several rows away from her which caused her great anxiety.  In her anxiety to retrieve her handbag on landing, she ended up leaving her purse and tablet on her seat on the plane.  Cue a phone call in floods of tears - she was by now totally exhausted - but all ended well as the staff who were cleaning the plane retrieved them and brought them to her in the arrivals hall.
I don't know about her being exhausted by her travels - I am.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Last railway hiccup - I hope

Beth landed at Manchester at around midday and headed for the railway station.  I phoned as she was arriving there, to see what time to expect her, she kept moving all the time we were talking but even so there was a sudden cry of - "that's my train just pulling out!"  followed by a rant about the extra numbers of people travelling on Easter Monday - mostly that the majority seemed to be moving slowly with no real intent or purpose, who had all slowed her down.  (!)  Anyway I decided if she can sort herself out in foreign railway stations, English ones should be no challenge to her, so I said "see you later" and left her to it.
I picked her up from our station at about half past three and my goodness do we know she is here!  The contents of her rucksack are spread all across the sitting room floor, and she has gone off to Tesco to investigate the Ben & Jerry's.  I think it is going to be a heavy laundry week as everything she took with her now needs washing, including what she came home in.  She was drinking a J20 just as the plane hit turbulence and she ended up wearing the majority of it.smiley: roll  I should think we will just about get everything sorted before she flies off back to Germany at the weekend.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Noisy car

Well as Beth has stayed in the same city for a couple of days, there have been no travel problems for me to resolve.  It appears that she hooked up with a few people from the hostel to wander around Rome which is probably a very good idea.  Unfortunately whilst they were on the train into the city, there were lots of Romany children swarming around and generally being a nuisance.  This seems to have been a distraction technique and resulted in one of the males in the group being relieved of his phone, which she said had put them all on edge.  Apparently Beth was hugging her bag to her chest all the way.  Thank goodness.
Our car has been making expensive sounding noises for some time - whenever we went over a bump in the road a creaking or scraping sound was heard.  I was afraid that the suspension was in trouble so eventually we bit the bullet and took it into the garage for investigation.  We were somewhat relieved when the mechanic said that they couldn't find anything wrong, except that the covering for something had come loose and worked its way out of place catching against something else (possibly the wheel arch, but I can't be sure) so they had just cut it off and thought that it would do the trick.  We were in high spirits as we drove home, thinking that we had been spared an expensive  repair.  
The very next time we drove over a speed bump - there was the sound again - grr.
Not sure what to do now.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Mia figlia - il Viaggiatore

Today's communications started at around 9.45 with a phone call - "I just booked a reservation on the train to Rome and the guy has given me a reservation for a seat on the train leaving at 3pm, I asked for the next train, which leaves at 10.59" - remember that Rome is one hour ahead of us at the moment.  My response to that is the usual - "why are you telling me - what can I do from here?"  The searingly honest answer came back - "nothing but I just wanted someone to whine at" 
So - I suggested that she should either go back to the guy who sold her the reservation or grab someone else who looks as though they work at the station and explain her problem, but of course she only had a few minutes to do this in.  Shortly thereafter a text arrived, "all sorted" 
 Next text - "pray for some miracles today" , my response - "why?  Do you have to make connections?"  
"you do actually realise that you are in Italy don't you?"  
"Yes, that is why I need miracles"
An hour later "hey, I got the miracles."

A couple of hours later whilst I was in town I had a missed call.  I never heard it, nor did I feel it vibrating in my pocket. For some reason I needed my phone just after she had rung and I found the missed call.  It was yet another plea for help - no surprises there then - the tablet wasn't working and she didn't know the address of the hostel, could I go into her emails and find it for her.  I could remember all of it except the post code, so gave her that until I was home.  Once home I was able to give her not only the address, but also the name of the Metro station close to the hostel.  Before I could do that however, I had received yet another text which made me smile " Thieves everywhere!  Trying to get money off you for "showing" you how to use the machine.  I have never felt less guilt for shouting at a child"  That one text message told me just how tired she is.   I must remind her not to let anyone push a flower into her hand at the Spanish Steps, because she may lose it with the men who do that and then hold out their hands for money.

In some ways I envy her, but I also feel very sad for her.  I envy her the freedom and the opportunity to travel in this way, but I feel sad for her because she is seeing so many wonderful sights and isn't able to share them with anyone.  For me part of the joy of Rome was to share it with my husband as we were travelling together.  It is a city of such contrasts, great antiquity and alternatively great modern buildings, great wealth and great poverty.  I also hope that she has got very comfortable shoes with her because it is a city which is very hard on the feet.  Gosh I remember blisters on my blisters - that was so painful.