Stuart

stuart

5 years? Blimey!

5 years ago, I went on my first date with Stuart. This was after a lot of suggestive text messaging and many conversations about music. To be honest, I am not sure I would have got so passionately invested in this man if it hadn’t been for two words during our pre-date texting. The two words? Counting Crows.

I discovered this band when I was living in New York in the 90’s and nobody I’d spoken to since I moved back to the UK knew who they were. A simple question to ask. What music do you like? To see that answer was my defining “get your coat, you’ve pulled” moment.

It has been an eventful five years.

He promised to take me to Paris before we even got together and took me for my birthday the first year we were dating.

He decided that it would be a good idea to develop a heart condition several weeks into our relationship. Seriously, full on, I need surgery, heart condition. It was the toughest thing we’ve been through to date, but I think it defined us, in a lot of ways. He’s all good now, fixed and ticking as normal, thanks to the amazing people at Wythenshawe hospital.

He gave me two beautiful stepchildren, who are now as much my kids as Becca is.

In turn, he has taken on Becca as his own without stepping on her Dad’s toes.

He asked me to marry him, on Christmas Day, in front of our children. It was an elaborate proposal, involving lots of boxes and gift tags with hints. I cried all day. (Happy tears!!!)

I wouldn’t have Dexter, if it wasn’t for him.

We work very hard, and make sure we party in kind. We travel, we cook food, we listen to music, we make plans for our home and plans for the future. We drink red wine and gin!

He pisses me off, I piss him off too.

He gets all excited about driving to Holland overnight to go and look at planes, whilst I get excited because I can starfish in the bed for the 2 nights he is away.

I get excited about 5 months before a holiday and he tolerates me counting down the days yet shows no emotion about it until we’ve landed on “the other side”

We bicker, we deal with the mundane, we laugh, we listen, we love.

Happy Anniversary, baby, love you to the very last point in the universe. And back.

 

 

 

 

Winter is Going.

Winter is Going

 

I walked to Tesco at 6.45am today, as Dexter was shouting at me for his breakfast and we had no cat food left. Now, before you start, Dexter is not that much of a pampered cat that I’d willingly wake up at this time and do this for him! I’m not a big sleeper, my back issues prevent that  (Long story, another day, another post) so I was already up and about.

Walking through Macclesfield at that time of the day is serene. There is nobody about and all you can hear are the blackbirds singing away to each other (No doubt fetching breakfast for their shouty children!) It was windy, and slightly drizzly, but it was light!

I’m not a fan of the winter. At all. Dark mornings, dark  evenings, the craziness of Christmas and a general sense of drudgery with a Groundhog Day tinge. Get up, go to work, work, come home, read/watch TV, sleep, repeat. My mood is often low and my motivation can be graded as zero.

The first time I left the office this year and there was a tiny bit of light still in the sky, I was so excited that I posted on Facebook about it. It was a mere sliver, the last bit of dusk before the darkness came but it was the first indication that:

  • Soon I will be able to leave the office in daylight.
  • I’ll be able to tend to the flower beds and watch the flowers bloom after a winter of hibernation.
  • The furniture can be moved from the garage to the patio.
  • I will be able to sit on said furniture with a brew and a book in the morning before I go to work and, at the weekend, all day if I want to.
  • Al fresco dining will become the norm again.
  • Gin and tonic! (Yes, I drink this all year round but sitting in the garden with my better half, listening to music and talking about everything is my favourite way to gin)
  • We can throw countless BBQs for our friends and family.
  • The kids can be loaded into the car for trips out to the countryside, the beach – anywhere that takes our fancy really.
  • I can take lunch breaks in the park rather than sitting in the goldfish bowl that is the staff room.
  • The evenings will again be photography friendly. It is impossible to go on an impromptu photo-walk after work when it is pitch black!
  • Soon I can be entertained by my husband’s dream to become a fully-fledged pyromaniac becoming a reality again.

 

We pretty much move into the garden during warm days/evenings; the TV becomes a dust-gathering black screen and the lounge an unused drawing room. I am always so much happier and have been known to stand on a garden chair to catch the last of the sun! So be gone, vile Winter, and Spring? I love you.

 

 

 

 

Becca

Blog pic Becca

 

She’s fifteen. Not really sure how that happened!

I love seeing her grow, turning into an amazing young lady but, at the same time, I want to hit the pause button and advise that she slow down.

March 14th, 2002, Becca arrived in this world. The situation was not ideal with me and her Dad, but we vowed to make Becca our priority and that is what we’ve done. Always what we’ve done. Becca’s Dad is a truly amazing father, and friend. People often say that she is a credit to me. That isn’t true. She is a credit to me and her Dad and she is the person she is now because of both of us.

Becca has handled life without a “together” Mum and Dad with ease. We have always, always put Becca first so, no matter what. It has been tough at times, granted, but my shining ray of light has always been joyful and happy. Never any temper tantrums, I remember her looking on in abject horror when, at aged 3, she witnessed another child her age going through a full-on screaming, limbs flailing, temper tantrum in a public place. I’m proud to say she has never done that, ever. I think she said at the time “What is wrong with that child”

She’s seen some part-time idiots appear in her life, both via me and her Dad, but always she just gets on with it and has been diplomatic in he responses. “I’m sorry you and *insert name of dickhead here* split up, I hope you are ok” when you know internally she thought, “Woohoo!”

She finishes high school in 16 months, which frightens the life out of me. Time for our baby girl to hit the real world! Whilst she has a plan for higher education in place, it is impossible to know what route she will take right now. Regardless, I know she is destined to go places, whichever path she takes and I am so immensely proud of what an amazing young woman she has become.

Becca Boo, your Dad and I love you to the moon, the stars, the forever and back, and we are so proud of you, every single day. Happy Birthday, baby girl, we love you!

 

 

 

Photography

I need to up my game with this blog, it seems to be sitting here abandoned for the most part. I’m going to talk about photography today. (I’m sure the title of this post may have hinted at that!)

Despite major dips when I don’t pick up my camera for months, I’ll still trawl through Flickr etc and admire other people’s work.

I shot a wedding for a friend just over a year ago, and it was probably one of the most stressful things I have ever done. The day was long, the lighting poor and it tipped it down all day. The editing took weeks and it completely drained me – I didn’t pick the camera up for months after that. If you’re reading this and think you might ask me to do a wedding then please don’t, the answer will be a resounding no! (Charlotte and Gary, if you’re reading this, I love you both dearly! :))

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My recent trip t0 Fuerteventura was a great chance to get the camera out again. I was so inspired before we went, the bulk of my packing was camera kit and tech, clothes were minimal! It felt so good to pick up my trusty Canon and start shooting. The weather and conditions were ideal, certainly better than the dreary white skies that are all too frequent in the UK this time of year, and I got quite a lot of images I was pleased with.

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I did a mini shoot with Becca recently so she had photos for her art project at school, and I’ve had great fun playing around with those. She turns 15 on Tuesday, and I’m hoping to mark the occasion with another shoot with her today – providing she gets out of bed before teatime, of course! The sky still looks white at the moment, but I’ve got some ideas in my head to incorporate that if needs be.

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So, this is me jumping back in (again!) I’ve uploaded a few more photos to my Flickr account recently –  if you’re interested, the link is here: My Flickr

Day 2 – Caleta de Fuste

Well, I think yesterday was probably one of my favourite days on the island, ever. After a late, leisurely breakfast sitting on the terrace of our apartment, we headed out along the costal path towards Antigua, taking in the stunning views of a very feisty Atlantic! We saw lots of chipmunks (and cats!) and had a fun couple of hours sitting in the sun taking photographs.

After a couple of beers in another bar built on the edge of the sea, we walked back through the harbour just in time to see the sea lions being fed.

Had a late lunch and then went back to the apartment, where I spent an hour getting highly frustrated with the internet speeds trying to send messages and upload photographs. The Spanish internet is akin to Spanish life – plod along at a leisurely pace for a while, stop abruptly and down tools for a couple of hours and then spring back into life again.   

However, the above is all the prelim for the evening entertainment. We were collected at 6.30pm by Damiano, a very jovial chap, and he regaled us with stories of the island’s history whilst we drove to Corralejo to collect the next passengers. Two very lovely ladies, both on the large side and, when we got to the next pick up, the remaining participants had to be told they would have to get a taxi to the restaurant, as there was not room for them on the bus. Bit embarrassing for the ladies, I imagine, but what can you do?!

Eventually the whole team arrived at the restaurant in Villaverde, a Michelin-starred restaurant called Casa Marcos. The building is an old farmhouse and steeped in history, and they’ve won countless awards for their food. We were treated to cava, red wine and an amazing selection of local dishes, all of which were beautifully presented. The guide explained that the area of the island we were in was too cloudy for star gazing, so we were going to have to go on a hunt to locate a clearer area of sky. It was all rather exciting, a bit like storm chasing, I imagine! We hurtled through the night in a clapped out Fiat with Karen, a lovely lady who, originally from Watford, moved to the island some years ago and set up Stars By Night. Given the transportation issues of earlier, she’d driven to the restaurant to assist with getting people to the observation point.

We drove into the desert, along a dirt track, until we reached the observation point in the middle of nowhere. I cannot clearly put into words just how beautiful the stars were here. The lack of light meant millions were visible. There was a presentation, a bit of a Q n A session, and we got to see Jupiter and the four moons, the Orion nebulae, a binary star and many clusters of stars through the telescope. Bloody amazing! We tried to take photographs but it was far too windy, the camera would not keep steady enough to focus. It was disappointing, but a great learning curve, photography-wise, and I’m looking forward to trying again when we return in August (The Milky Way will be visible then, too!) There are a couple of shots I might be able to salvage when we get home through the powers of Photoshop, but I’m not holding my breath!

 

Caleta de Fuste – Day One.

Straight off the bat, I want it to be known, I love travelling, but I hate to travel. Flying with Ryanair always gets you to your destination cheaply, but sharing the aviation version of public transport with lots of “interesting” people always feels like I’m part of some weird, social experiment.

The flight itself was tolerable this time, only the minimum number of “Gregg’s Babies” on board and I managed to get through a four hour flight by reading a lot. I was also sat by the window, so got to admire the view as well. Granted this was mostly clouds, but I could feel the sun’s heat through the window so it was already infinitely preferable to the 1 degree temperature we’d left Macclesfield in.

Stuart, being a man of some height, had to fold himself into his seat! He also had the misfortune of being sat next to a bloke who muttered to himself the whole way through the flight. Then again, Stuart always gets stuck next to “that person” on a plane. Watch this space for details of his neighbour on the return flight.

The airport here is so easy to navigate and, as we travel with hand luggage only, we landed, got through security and  into a taxi within about 20 minutes.

I won’t bore you with the “check in to the apartment” details, but we did.

There’s not a lot more to add to the first day, we got the essentials (gin, tonic, ice and lemons) and walked down to our favourite bar, Chiringuito La Isla, which sits on a bed of volcanic rock in the sea. It really is the most stunning place to sit and observe the Atlantic rolling in, the people there and the local wildlife (sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the last two) Had a few gin and tonics, chatted about inane stuff and felt really relaxed and happy. Oh, and warm, too! It is cooler at this time of year, although still an acceptable 21 degs.

The remainder of the day is a blur of gin and tapas but, it is our first full day today, so we’re off exploring in a bit. Tonight we are dining at a Michelin-starred tapas bar, before taking the camera kit  to “the darkest part of the island” to admire the stars. Not a bad plan for a day, really. Updates to follow.

 

 

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Is This Thing On?

Hello? Anyone there? Doubtful, as this is my first post, but hopefully that will change, in time.

I’ve been messing with a blog idea for a while now. I used to blog, a lot, and I thought I was quite funny. Then work, life and gin got in the way. I want to write again, I have a degree to say I can and everything, but I wasn’t sure which format to take.

Initially it was going to track me getting back into photography again, and that will most likely be a part of it, but I want to write about everything! Photography, travel, family, friends, Tuesday Club! (Tuesday Club is a weekly event when a group of women – and Steve – get together and drink alcohol whilst putting the world to rights. I love Tuesday Club, my husband isn’t a big fan. Gin, wine, ranting women, and then he has to pick me up, I don’t know what his problem is!)

I suppose this first post should tell you a bit about me. I’m in my 40’s, work in Property Management, married to Stuart and between us we have three children. Said children will probably feature in this a lot as, indeed, will my husband. I love photography, books, food and gin. Oh, and I fucking love to go on holiday!

Here is a photo of the husband and me (My rock. He will likely be chastised on here a lot, so I’ll use this post to tell you he is actually really amazing)

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and the kids – aren’t they beautiful?! (looks can be deceptive!)

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Oh bugger! I forgot to mention. We have a cat. He’s called Dexter. He’s pretty much the boss of our house.

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So I’ve written stuff and added photos so I think that means I’ve started blogging again. Hopefully future posts will be a little bit more insightful and witty, so don’t run away yet!