If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d sit here awaiting the arrival of 2012 with my Dad, Grandad and Gran all still living I’d never have believed them. I never, ever would have thought 2011 would end like this, and I mean that in the most positive way. Even though I suspect 2012 will be full of sorrow (because let’s face it, you can’t keep beating terminal illness forever), it will be all the better for the memory bank full of moments from 2011.
I’ve made a real effort to try and take more photos of my family this year, particularly of my Dad, and my absolute new favourite is this one of my Mum and Dad on Christmas Day.
Dad has the look in his eye which is part adoration/part glint of trouble…I can’t remember what he’d just said but I suspect he was pushing his luck in some way! As 2011 draws to a close, I am thankful for the extra time it provided us, and grateful beyond words for those people who have supported my Dad, our family or myself. There are many people, the NHS professionals, his GP, consultant, nurses, anyone who has had to try and take blood from my Dad (who has nightmare veins), the Social Worker(s…he’s on his third) from the local hospice, our many family and friends, anyone who has given blood this year, and above all else my fantastic parents themselves.
To anyone who is facing life with themselves or a family member with #cancer, or any other terminal illness, it doesn’t have to all be sorrowful or difficult, in fact in a weird way I’ve found to be a blessing, to know to pay attention and appreciate what you have. In the words of The Boss, Attitude’s a power stronger than death. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 for you all.
This coming year I’m determined to do more cooking, and eat more fresh food. I used to really enjoy cooking, and have got far too lazy of late, never home from work early enough to both cooking. Well all this is going to change, pasta and pesto is no more a staple, it will instead be replaced by healthier, home cooked delights. To help me along with this mission I’ve decided I need some better knives – so I either need to sharpen the ones I have, or buy new. I asked Twitter for recommendations and thought I’d share the answers with you guys and ask for any more advice or opinions you have to offer.
(cc) on flickr by JD Hancock
Wusthof from @amcunningham
Global or Titan from @scotbaston
Taylor’s Eye Witness Block from @niccombe
I’d be really interested in anyone else’s opinions or ideas for good knives to get. I’ve owned my own home for over five years now, definitely time to invest in a decent knife or two!
Jean-Patrique from @lillieputian
Globals plus advice to spend as much time and attention on sharpener/sharpening as knives from @paul_clarke
A couple weeks ago I received an email from TFL (Transport for London) about a payment correction. It read as follows:
Fantastic, or so I thought, TFL are taking responsibility for some problem (which to be honest I’m not sure I’m even aware of) but I suspect it was something to do with some of the tube lines being out of sync or out of action that day. Except today I received another email from TFL, this time letting me know I’ve not collected the refund they authorised and telling me how to re-arrange collection. So, in theory this is good news, but I wasn’t aware there was a time limit on the first email, I’m not sure whether there is a time limit on the second, more importantly I don’t see why TFL can’t just apply the credit to my account without me needing to ‘collect’ it.
They should have enough data about my travel habits to spot that I don’t live in London, or to at least realise that I don’t regularly use the tube, even if I frequently do. They have enough data to know I’d only visited that actual tube station twice in the last year, they should know the station I visit most regularly is Paddington, and I would have thought that all of this is irrelevant and they could apply it remotely.
Anyhow, I’m just interested if anyone knows more about what they can or can’t do and/or what they choose to do and/or whether these corrections expire at all? As someone who doesn’t live in London but has been regularly using the tube for years, the idea of a refund is so novel I don’t want to waste it! Any ideas?
Just a quick update today to let you know I can conclusively prove there is no such thing as tempting fate!
A couple weeks ago at the start of December I wrote Tempting fate this Christmas? and explained my concerns about getting too confident that we would manage another Christmas with my Dad (who is terminally ill with cancer) and my grandparents (who are in their 90s and if they’re terminally anything, it’s terminally stoic). Well we did and a great time was had by all. A couple days before Christmas the results of my Dad’s latest blood tests showed he is fighting an infection, I guess in normal circumstances this wouldn’t be great news, but in some twisted way we all took it as though it is. So far, Dad’s experience is that infections (on the whole) at the moment still seem to respond quite well to antibiotics, it meant that it wasn’t anything explicitly linked to the tumour growing/his condition worsening, and it explained why he’d been feeling rough; although in true Dad fashion he didn’t realise he was rough, until after he’d started taking antibiotics – he seriously should be a clinical case study in positive mental attitude.
So Christmas Day came and went without anything much of note happening. Christmas dinner with my folks and grandfolks was fantastic, managed to eat enough to last a week, my grandparents were in good form and effusive about the support my parents provide them (a relatively unusual situation) and my superwoman Mum cooked a full dinner which was followed by my Gran’s Christmas Pud – alcohol free this year (as in we didn’t light it), although she reassured me there was enough in it not to matter! It was striking seeing my grandparents out of their own environment (I usually visit them in their own home) and then seeing their confidence grow when they got home, it was also lovely to see my Mum get some recognition for all the support she provides them all year round. I suspect it’s probably a generational thing but they’re not the most forthcoming with open praise, they show their approval in other ways, but they were both positively outspoken this year, which was lovely, my Grandad claiming it was one of the best Christmas dinner’s he’d ever had (and with 93 to choose between that’s high praise indeed).
The other thing that I did a lot of on Christmas Day (in a non-morbid way) was imagine a little about how different things are likely to be next year. This isn’t a melancholic thought, so much as a practical trying-to-prepare-oneself thought process. Last year I never could have imagined we’d have another family Christmas, this year it seems like too much of a gift not to imagine what Christmas 2012 will pan out like! At the moment (high on the reality of Christmas 2011) I’m relatively comfortable with this thought process, I suspect a lot will depend on how many people will be around to sit at the table next year, something we obviously can’t predict but I’m comfortable discussing, given I’ve disproved their being any danger in tempting fate!
Two people who faced a new rendition of Christmas this year, and who were in my thoughts during that process, were Becca (whose brother was killed in Afghanistan in September) who wrote about Christmas on her new laptop:
So, although JJ’s not here, I’m pleased to say that it’s not been all too sad. He’s been talked about all day – we’ve had a few laughs and a few tears. More laughs than tears I’m pleased to say. And later on tonight we’ll raise a glass in memory to him, and to others that have not returned home to their families.
We mulled our strategies for this first Christmas after dad’s death in advance, and agreed we wouldn’t try to reincarnate any other year, wouldn’t try to resurrect much-loved stories with the key character missing. It felt like time to set a new stage.
I’m not sure what Christmas 2012 will look or feel like, but at the moment I’m not too worried about it, I’m still in the throws of gratitude that Christmas 2011 went so well, that I got to sit and reminisce with both my parents and grandparents, that I got to spend it with the people that matter to me most. I take hope from hearing how other people have experienced their first Christmas without a loved one, and I hope that anyone who reads this has similarly enjoyed their own Christmas, that those who have lost someone and missed them terribly realise that life may not be the same, but it does go on, and they’d have wanted you to go easy on yourself. Happy Christmas everyone.
Over on flickr there is a group for Your Best Shot 2011 and it got me thinking about which my best shot would be. I guess there are loads of criteria for deciding, whether it’s best composition/light/fancy camera terms, whether it’s about the people or subjects in it, the memory or occasion it reminds you of, I’m not really sure so I had a look through my Highlights set where I add my fave pics and came up with the following shortlist:
So, which (if any) do you like? Or are there other photos in my stream that you think are better? Would really love to hear your thoughts.
Growing up in the Westcountry my geographical knowledge is probably at best described as ropey! I never really felt like I had to learn where anything was (with the exception of the Kingdoms of Devonshire and Cornwall) because everything was ‘up north’. Well last weekend I ventured to the proper North East and spent the weekend exploring the delights of the Cairngorms, the Balmoral Estate, the Highlands and Stonehaven which has to be one of the jewels of Aberdeenshire.It was a great weekend, there was a tiny flurry of snow, proper cold wind, winter sun and bright blue skies. I thought I’d share a few of my fave pics:
Sheep in the snow at Mar Lodge
Loch Muick with the mist coming in
Midday sun at St Cyrus Beach
Stonehaven War Memorial