Monday, 31 August 2015

Competitive Clinics and Cinema

This morning we went to A&E at North Manchester where they decided it would be easier for them to start again, which meant another x-ray for Thomas.    

There was no query about the diagnosis of a broken bone, but I think a little bit of North v. South competitiveness regarding the bandage took over. I'm trying not to be biased but I think the North won! We have to go back to the fracture clinic on Thursday at 8.40am - the first day back at school for Thomas. The Headteacher will be having palpitations about his attendance marks being down on the first day but personally, I feel our support for the local A&E is equally important :)  
Tonight the boys are staying home while me and Amy take a girlie trip to the cinema to see Paper Towns. I have no idea what it's about and although Amy has the book she's only read the first couple of chapters. I like going to the cinema with Amy because she watches the film, doesn't talk, can open her own sweets and is able to take herself to the toilet. 

When we went to see Pixels Thomas wanted a packet of maltesers and I found myself paying £3.15 for them, so this time I've bought supplies in advance.
I'm de-cluttering the house again. I'm sure I only did it a few weeks ago, but so far I've filled 3 black bags with rubbish and I have a black bag full of clothes for the charity shop along with several books and a picture Amy doesn't want any more.

The problem is the shop isn't open until Wednesday so although I'm clearing out, I've got piles of stuff everywhere which is driving me nuts.

I'm love some professional to tell me why if my house is cluttered my mind feels cluttered and I can't function properly. 


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Baskets and Blanket

We picked the dogs up from the kennels this morning. Their holiday cost £229 plus possibly 2 new baskets as the kennels seem to have lost theirs. They're going to have a good look for them tomorrow and let us know if they find them. Of course, we won't be able to claim as we signed a disclaimer that covers anything and everything that could possibly go wrong.  

Today has been washing, drying, washing, drying, washing, drying - do you get the picture? At least there's been no rain. Tomorrow I will have to start tackling the pile of ironing.

Mum came down for a coffee and then I spent an hour joining another row to the blanket. I managed to crochet a few squares on holiday so there is already another row waiting in the wings.
And that has pretty much been it for today. Quickly back to the usual routine as though we've never been away. 


Saturday, 29 August 2015

Thumbs up - apart from Thomas!

Hello! We're home. Refreshed and ready to take on the world - well a house clearance and a mountain of paperwork at least. 

In a way an enforced rest from blogging and the internet has been good, (the connection was non existent where we were for some reason), and yet I've missed 'writing in my diary' every day.

Anyway, this has been our home for the past week and very comfortable it has been as well.
The setting was lovely, all countryside, rabbits, peace and quiet and massive mushrooms all over the place!
 The decking was definitely an added bonus and although it rained a few times when the sun came out it was warm enough, (sometimes too warm would you believe), to sit out. Mostly we had afternoon tea out here, which of course just had to be scones, jam and clotted cream. I'm not fussy about the jam/cream/top/bottom rule. I just dollop it on and savour the moment. 
The holiday park is lovely and although it has changed since we first rolled up in our touring caravan 10 years ago, it still retains its charm. The main attraction back in the day was the outdoor heated pool and pub. Now there is a cafe, an indoor play area, an arcade, evening entertainment and a fantastic indoor pool and gym. The outdoor heated pool is still really popular but I have to confess we're soft city sissies and we opted for the indoor pool every time.
We did get our daily quota of fresh air and exercise though and walked up the country lane a couple of times, which although a simple thing to do is one of the best parts of the holiday for me.
It only takes 10-15 minutes to get to the harbour at Cockwood.
Where I desperately wanted to get the paint out and give these little boats a make over.
We also got out and about every day visiting Teignmouth and Dawlish Warren which I've shared with you previously. This time we also found beautiful Babbacombe which I'll post about in the next couple of days.
We also managed to fit in a visit to Dawlish A&E and then because it wasn't their day to have the x-ray machine, (how sweet), we had a trip over to the hospital at Exeter

The reason why? Well, after spending 3 days encouraging Thomas to have a go on the trampolines at the funfair at Dawlish Warren he finally plucked up the courage to have a go. 

No word of a lie, 6 jumps in he bounced down on his knees (at my suggestion - yes I do feel very guilty), put his hands out to steady himself and only went and broke his thumb. Luckily it happened Thursday afternoon, so didn't impact on anything too much.
The Doctor at Exeter strapped it up with tape and told us to get it looked at again when we returned home, so on Monday, our first job of the day will be a trip to North Manchester General.

I tell you, only at Number 38! 


Thursday, 20 August 2015

The funeral has finally taken place

So, the funeral has taken place. It was a lovely service, simple and traditional, and a lot of people commented on how moving it was. I think Tom would have been happy with what we did. This is the order of service design we chose for him, as a tribute to him being a train driver for over 40 years, a job which he thoroughly loved.
Amy read the poem beautifully. Tom would have been so proud of her. And for a bit of moral support Thomas went up and stood with her which was sweet. The flowers were all lovely and after the funeral they were placed in the memorial chapel with the exception of these 3 red roses, (one from each of the grandchildren), which I brought home to press.
The Vicar who took the service is the Vicar of the church we used to go to and she took me to one side and asked me if I was looking for a job. A funeral home in Middleton had asked her if she knew anybody who would be suitable to do a bit of admin and had the right manner for dealing with bereaved families. Apparently, she immediately thought of me! As touched as I am and as happy as I'd be doing the admin bit, I'm not sure I'd be up to dealing with bereaved families on a daily basis. It doesn't take much to set me off crying myself these days.  

I came home from the do afterwards with Amy and Thomas at about 2.30pm. To inject a bit of normality into the day I'd promised Thomas I would take him and his friend to the cinema to see Pixels, which was actually really enjoyable. 

Mark said he'd be home in an hour but obviously decided to give Tom a good send off as he didn't get in til 10pm! His saving grace was he brought chippy home with him. 

And now, we are getting ready for our week away. When we return we'll get the kids back to school and the job of house clearing will begin. At the moment it seems a mammoth task but I'm sure if we do a couple of hours a day it won't take too long.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Grandad's Poem

Thomas had his hair cut this morning and Amy bought some school shoes, which means that even though it's only 18th August they are now ready for going back to school which is a weight off my mind considering we are away next week. 

In between the daily routine of washing, cooking and cleaning I'm cracking on with the granny squares. Not wishing to sound smug but I can actually do them properly now! I decided to use cream as a border because a) it's the only colour I have and b) I wouldn't know what other colour to use - so really it was an easy decision to

I've also made myself sew the loose ends in as I go along as it's a tedious job and I know I won't want to do them all at the end.
I've joined the first two rows and have another row ready. The majority of these squares are actually wrong but at the end of the day it's only a blanket and at least I now know how to do them right. 
It's been cold here today. I wish our weather was more consistent. Yesterday I was sat out in the sun crocheting. Today all the doors and windows are closed and I'm definitely feeling chilly. When I went to peg the washing out for a split second I caught the smell of Autumn! How can that be when we are only half way through August?

Tonight I've been shortening trousers and ironing all our stuff for the funeral tomorrow. The hearse is arriving at Tom's house at 10.30am which means after getting up and getting ready we won't have very long to wait. 

We asked Amy if she wanted to read a poem expecting her to say no, but she really wanted to and I know Tom would have been so proud of her for doing this. The poem we've chosen is called "Feel No Guilt in Laughter" and perfectly sums up how Tom would feel. Just thought I would share it with you all.  

Feel no guilt in laughter, he knew how much you cared
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he's not here to share
You cannot grieve forever, he would not want you to
He'd hope that you could carry on the way you always do
So talk about the good times, the way you showed you cared
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture, a time, an hour, a day
That brings him back so clearly as though he were still here
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near
For if you keep those moments you'll never be apart
And he will live forever, locked safely in your heart


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Granny Squares - ish

My brother, wife and niece have been up for the weekend visiting. This is the brother I don't see very often and whose wedding I went to last month so it's been lovely to see them again so soon. They're staying with Mum but came down last night for a few drinks and a take-away. It was a really good night and I'm determined to see them more often in the future.

My granny square pile is growing. I've worked out I need about 120 squares for the size of blanket I want to make. 'Squares' is very much a loose term as they are by no means perfect, in fact I've made a mistake on every one in this pile which means one side is slightly longer than the others. Depending on how much it annoys me I might unpick them and do them again.  
I cooked roast beef for lunch, the first time for weeks as nobody has really wanted one and somehow during holidays our meal times become totally disjointed. Thomas wanted to help so I put him to work topping and tailing the green beans. He enjoyed the danger element of a proper knife very much indeed. 
And I have eaten one of these today. I make no apologies for the fact. It was delicious and I enjoyed every mouthful. 


Friday, 14 August 2015

Visiting Grandad

We went to see Tom this morning. I was glad I went. It was nice to see him finally at rest and looking peaceful. We left it up to Amy and Thomas whether they wanted to come or not and they both said they did. Thomas was absolutely fine about the whole thing and went right up to the coffin to see Grandad, standing there the whole time we were in the room. Amy was also glad she'd gone, but stayed stood behind us looking mostly at anything but Grandad. She certainly wasn't as comfortable as Thomas was with the whole thing.

To inject a bit of normality into the day we went to do some 'back to school' shopping. The usual stationery items have been bought for Amy, plus we managed to get her a school coat and Thomas his school shoes. Coats and shoes can be a major problem at Number 38. For some reason they are both really fussy about these items, although it's more about the feel and fit than fashion. I've also bought Thomas a pair of shoes in the next size up as we struggle to find any when we need them. It's taken me 5 years to figure this little trick out!

I think I'm a bit brain dead at the moment. Liz over at 'lovethosecupcakes' made a lovely cake full of sweets which I was admiring. I want to make one for Thomas' birthday and when I went to google how it was done I felt such a fool. Not to take anything away from her baking talents, but obviously all you do is cut out circles and pour sweets in. Doh!
It's been wet and miserable all day here today. I've spent a good amount of time trying to crochet granny squares. After many failed attempts I think I've finally got it. I'm planning to take some wool to Cofton and making these little squares will be a perfect way to pass the odd 10 minutes or so. 


Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Full Day

So, today we went to register Tom's death, only to be told they didn't have us on their appointment list! Thankfully, she said it wasn't a problem, (I can't tell you how glad I was about that as I really think this would have been the last straw for us). Anyway, after a 20 minute wait we were able to finally go through. 

However, when the registrar opened the medical certificate filled in by the Doctor it had been filled in wrong. He'd put the place of death as the home where Tom was, when in actual fact he died in hospital and he'd also left the box where he was supposed to put in his GMC reference number and qualifications blank. 

I had visions of this holding us up another week but the registrar was quite happy for us to confirm verbally where Tom had died and she rang the surgery for the rest of the missing information.

After getting the much coveted 'green form' we dropped it straight off at the funeral home so that they had the code which meant Tom could be embalmed.

On a bit of a roll now, we went to order the flowers. A simple job really as I'd already chosen what we were having on-line and it was just a case of ordering them and writing the cards. In total I ordered four arrangements and wrote four cards, one from Joan, one from me and Mark, one from the grandchildren and one from Aunty Edith and Ken. 

This afternoon the order of service was e-mailed over for us to approve and has now been sent to the printers.

Then we got a phone call to say that we could go and see Tom if we wanted to at the funeral home, so tomorrow we will be doing that. 

And that I think is everything pretty much sorted out. A busy but finally a fruitful day.

All we have to do now is have the funeral. 


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Chester Zoo At Last!

We went to Chester Zoo today. The weather forecast was good and it was the only day we had between now and going on holiday where we had nothing to do, apart from meeting the Vicar at 5pm, so we booked our tickets on-line last night. 

I can't exactly remember the last time we went to Chester Zoo, possibly when Thomas was little, but I don't remember it being as busy as it was today. I'm sure the whole of the north west had decided to visit.
We were given a map that none of us really wanted to read, so we did a bit of aimless wandering for 20 minutes before finally getting our act together and following the trail.

It was quite hot and a lot of the animals were lay down asleep, (makes you wonder who's got the brains really, them or us). It was also pretty hard to get a photograph of anything, people were stood shoulder to shoulder which made bending arms to take a snap pretty difficult. 

I did manage to get a good shot of the chimpanzees though. I don't know what was going on with them today but they weren't half arguing with each other. There was full on slapping, pushing, glass banging and teeth baring. It was fascinating to watch them all squabbling, I'd love to know what it was all about.
Janice left a comment saying she has a photo of herself as a little girl in the 1950's feeding the elephants. There's nothing like that allowed these days but you can be a zookeeper for a day if you're over 18 and have £250 to spare!
I'd have liked to look around Oakfield House but there was a wedding on. It was bought for £3,500 in 1930 by George Mottershead who started the zoo. As lovely as the house is I'm not sure about using it as a wedding venue. Can you make out the wedding party on the right hand side? They were sat having drinks on the patio with just a rope separating them from the public who were just a few feet away from them on the grass eating their picnics. 
And here's the man himself. I did wonder what he would make of the zoo these days. Would he find it too commercialised or would he be happy that the zoo attracted so many visitors and played an important part in conservation. Maybe he would think a little bit of both.
This baby giraffe is one of 3 that have been born in the last 8 months. Their species is the most endangered of the giraffes so the zoo must be thrilled that 3 have been born in such a short space of time.
Because we'd booked our tickets late yesterday the fast track pass for the new Islands wasn't available. After seeing the standard queue for the boats we decided it was too hot and the queue too long to stand there waiting, so we missed that part out.

On our way out though we did see this rhino and Thomas hit the nail on the head when he said "it's so majestic looking".
We were shattered when we got in. Amy went straight to bed and was asleep in 5 minutes and Thomas lay on the settee watching TV.

No winding down for us though. A quick coffee to perk us up and then the Vicar arrived to discuss the funeral. It didn't take too long as we've had plenty of time to sort out music, readings, prayers etc so we spent most of her visit catching up on news from school and church.

I'm just about to settle down now with a brew ready to watch The Great British Bake Off, which is a perfect ending to a lovely day. Although if I'm truthful there were just too many people for it to be 100% enjoyable and I much preferred my more laid back fruit picking trip.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Thorough Vs. Farcical

I tried the blackcurrant jam this morning and it's very tasty indeed. It's a little bit sharp but mostly sweet so right up my street.
Amy wanted to go to shopping for make up last night so we headed down to The Fort. She bought leggings and contour powder, which to be honest looks like brown blusher to me, but hey I'm 48 so what do I know.

I took the opportunity to stack up on some books from Asda. For anybody who has read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, the top book on the pile is the story of Queenie, Harold's colleague from years ago who has cancer and who on a whim he decides to walk the length of the country to see.
I also bought some new towels and a basket for the bathroom. Not sure if they will ever get rolled and displayed like this again though. 
These beautiful flowers were delivered today. They're from my sister who's in Portugal. It's lovely that people have taken the time to send cards and flowers and write to me on my blog. I'm lucky to have such caring people in my life. 
A little update on the funeral. Last Friday we were told by the Funeral Director that the last Doctor who had visited Tom had been to the funeral home and confirmed that Tom was indeed Tom. 

However, UK law requires two Doctors to see a deceased person and confirm cause of death. As of today this second Doctor has yet to make an appearance. 

Not that it matters really, because another thing we've also learnt is that when we register the death we will be given a code. Until the funeral parlour has that code Tom can't be embalmed. As the earliest appointment we could get with the registrar is this Thursday I don't suppose the Doctor not turning up yet really matters.

I'm beginning to think there should be some sort of inquiry into why everything takes so long regarding a funeral in the UK. There's a big difference between thorough and farcical and the whole thing now seems to be bordering on the latter.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Jam Making

A bit of jam making took place at Number 38 today amongst other things. We'd picked just over 1kg of blackcurrants, more by luck than judgement, so all I needed to do was add 1kg sugar, 125ml water and a knob of butter. 

After a good rinse and bit of de-stalking I put all the ingredients in the pan and brought it to the boil, then let it bubble gently for about 30 minutes.
I don't have a thermometer so I used the tried and tested cold saucer and finger method. It took 3 goes before it stayed separated.
Nor do I have a funnel so I had to ladel it into the jars which got a bit messy, but nothing that a good wipe over with a clean damp cloth didn't solve. 
No fancy jars either I'm afraid. I just sterilised what I had in the cupboard. The 1kg of blackcurrants gave me this much jam. I'll give the small jar to Mum.
We've booked a holiday! We're going back to Cofton in Devon. We've been twice before, once in our own caravan and once in a cottage. They didn't have any cottages available so this time we are going in one of their holiday homes a.k.a. an extra large caravan that has decking around it that you can sit out on!

We are going the Saturday after Tom's funeral. Normally we'd be inclined to try somewhere different but Cofton is lovely and this year I feel we need to know where we are going and what we are getting, just so that we can sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Blackcurrant Picking

The urge to get out and do something was overwhelming today but we didn't want to swap one set of walls for another. We needed fresh air.

Then I remembered we never did get around to strawberry picking. A quick look at Kenyon Hall Farm revealed strawberries, blackberries and raspberries were pretty much over but blackcurrants and broad beans were available.

Amy was happy to come but we had to prise Thomas off the X-box and out of his PJ's.

It took us about 30 minutes to get there which is a perfect drive for what would at most be a 2 hour outing. They have a fantastic farm shop crammed full of goodies and also a lovely cafe where we had a lunch of sandwiches plus a pork pie with apple for Mark.
Although it was cloudy it was warm and the place was really busy. There is a huge field for parking though so no problems there and they also have a play area where children were happily jumping off the hay bales and whizzing down the zip wire.
The blackcurrants were right at the top of the field and it wasn't long before everyone became engrossed in finding the biggest juiciest ones they could. Blackcurrant bushes are perfect for Thomas as they're not prickly and he really enjoyed filling up his container.
This little lot cost me £3.37. After lunch Thomas wanted to pick some more so me and him wandered back to the field while Amy and Mark sat on the picnic benches in the play area. 
It was a lovely afternoon and the fresh air always clears my head. So much so that I came home all reinvigorated and found a little holiday, although it does depend on whether we can get the dogs into kennels. 

Meanwhile, I have jam jars to sterilise and jam to make.


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Bathroom and Bible

The bathroom is all but finished. He's coming back Monday after we've used it for the weekend to check there are no leaks, do the final snagging and give it a clean. 

We all have a favourite part, Mark's is the new shower, Thomas is particularly impressed with the light sensor for the cabinet and mirror and keeps waving his hands in front of them, Amy has claimed most of the bathroom cabinet already and for me it's the new wall mounted dispensers.
We found this in the bottom of a drawer at Tom's. It's a children's Bible and the box it was posted in.
It's a pop up book and after a quick google I've found out it dates circa 1935. I love the smell of old books and this one certainly smells old.
The Vicar rang this morning. She's coming out to see us on Wednesday. Coincidentally she's the Vicar of the church we used to attend as the Vicar in our parish is on holiday.

We have a 'to do list' that seems to be growing daily but at the top of it for one day next week is a visit to Chester Zoo. I want to see the new islands and we've not been to the zoo for a while so that's something to look forward to.


Friday, 7 August 2015

We are getting there.... slowly

So the death certificate was issued, there was no need to do a post mortem and today, Tom was moved from hospital to the Funeral home. We dropped some clothes off for him and picked up 3 rings that he's worn for years, his Mum's, his Grandma's and Aunty Alice on Joan's side.

Then we were told that the funeral could take place next Thursday. Thank goodness we thought, but hang on a minute, the only appointment we could get at the registrar's office to register the death was also Thursday. 

In that case then, the funeral director informed us, it couldn't take place until the week after. They have to be in possession of the death certificate for 2 days before any burial or cremation can take place. 

Which meant that as they were already fully booked on Monday and Tuesday didn't suit Tom's sister because she plays bingo and it's the only day of the week she goes out, we opted for Wednesday 19th August.

We really have no objection to Aunty Betty's weekly bingo bonanza. Regular readers may remember Tom told Betty to make sure her husband's funeral wasn't on a Wednesday as he always went to Bury. She willingly obliged so we have done the same for her.

In between thinking how ridiculously long funerals seem to take to organise in the UK I'm actually finding the formalities of them very interesting.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Easing in Gently

I'm easing my way back into blogging today. I realised I'd not posted any photos of my brother's wedding and most of them I took are on my phone, but here are a couple. 

Thomas looking very dapper in his new jacket.
My buttonhole which wouldn't pin onto my top without dragging it down, so I pinned it onto my bag instead. 
The day was lovely from start to finish and over the next few days I'll faff around downloading more pictures from my phone. 

This afternoon I took Amy and Thomas to the cinema to see 'Inside Out' while Mark stayed in with the bathroom fitter. The job should be finished tomorrow. By the end of the first day he'd ripped everything out bar the toilet but as he's gone on other jobs have needed to be done including replacing the floor which was in a pretty bad state.
We've made a start on the first one of Tom's many boxes, drawers and cupboards of paperwork. It will take weeks. To give you an idea, nothing is in any order and there are up to date documents mixed up with car receipts from the 1960's and wage slips from his first job. And everything is in an envelope within an envelope which means we are going to have to go through it all. 

Progress isn't helped by the fact that I find his things fascinating and am easily distracted. Over the past few days we've come across Tom's Dad's pocket watch, his confirmation book and a beautiful Sunday school booklet full of stickers that were collected every week.
We've also found his identity card, the receipt for Joans wedding ring and wedding dress, his school leaving certificate and his soldier's pay book from when he did national service
We can't possibly keep everything and Mark isn't really bothered about 'trinkets or memorabilia', but I'm going to find a nice box and keep a few things of interest in there just so that one day Matthew, Amy and Thomas will have something to look at if they ever want to. 


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Still being patient

So, here we sit 9 days down the line and not much further on with anything. 

Tom eventually reached the top of the list and the coroner has been notified but we are still waiting to hear whether he will just issue the death certificate or whether further investigation or a post mortem is needed. 

When we eventually have the certificate we then need to book an appointment with the registrar to register the death, then we need to book an appointment with the Vicar, then we need to book the crematorium.

We are in no rush by any means but I do keep thinking at the back of my mind that this funeral seems to be taking a long time to happen. Realistically it probably won't take place until the end of next week.

It's odd really because due to the length of time that's passed with nothing much happening, life seems to have slowly returned back to normal and in the midst of it all I'll suddenly think "oh, we've still got to do the funeral". 

One of the last things Tom said to us was to treat ourselves to a little holiday, so we've been having a look for somewhere to go before Amy and Thomas go back to school. We can't seem to find anything, I don't think we're really in the mood, and time is marching on so maybe we will go away for a weekend in September instead.


Saturday, 1 August 2015


Thank you all for your lovely comments regarding Tom. It's been good to be able to let it all out over the past few months and the understanding and encouragement you've all shown really has been appreciated.

This week has been a mixed bag of a few busy moments followed by a lot of having nothing much to do at all.

Tom is still at the hospital mortuary. Because he deteriorated so quickly in the ambulance it was classed as an unexpected death so it has gone to the coroner and there is a backlog. If the coroner finds no discrepancies then he will release the medical certificate and cause of death which we need in order to register the death.

Until we have that we can't do anything official, although we have had the funeral director round to discuss arrangements. Mark is getting together with Tom's brothers and sisters tomorow to write the eulogy and we have chosen the music, a reading, a poem and the flowers. All we have to do now is wait for the paperwork so we can book an official date with them. 

Amy comes back off holiday this morning. She's face timed us every day which has been difficult as we haven't told her about Tom. There's nothing she could do and there was no point in ruining her holiday, so we have to break the news to her when she arrives home. She was the apple of her Grandad's eye and she will be devastated.  

The day Tom died was also the day the bathroom fitter arrived to start the job. In a funny way having him here has been a bit of a saving grace. It's been something else we've needed to focus on rather than just sitting around waiting. 

All we need do now is be patient which seems very apt as one of Tom's favourite sayings when we were running around like headless chickens (usually for him!) was "what's the rush Billy".