The pros and cons of re-starting driving lessons 

By | July 26, 2018

I’m currently a non-driver, by (kind of) choice. 

Nerves got the better of me during two driving tests and I was all set to put in for another test but “life” and the autism diagnosis process for our children took precedence, then the matter of schooling, then life events, then 3 feet operations since October 2016 and it’s something I haven’t managed to get back to, yet.

I do feel a pang of “yes, I want and need to do this” whenever I see car adverts on the TV, the feeling that we could pop into a vehicle and head somewhere for the day without waiting at bus stops/train stations would be bliss, not to mention the anxiety aspect that D feels around strangers, yes, it would be great.

As an example, D attends special needs golf sessions every Saturday now, after impressing coaches from a local (ish) golf club in after school sessions. The golf club is half an hour away by car and Hubbie took us to the first two sessions, but last Saturday we had to get there by public transport….oh my!

It was a case of getting a bus into our nearest town, accompanied by fold-down scooters, then waiting for another bus, then being on that for over an hour, then a half mile walk to the golf club entrance, then (what must have been) a half mile scoot to the club house, to register and then head to the driving range.

It was worth it to see this:

  

But oh my word, my feet protested and because D was aware that my post-op feet were screaming, she was noticeably more withdrawn to start with in her golf than she might have been normally. 

  
Plans need to be implemented really, don’t they? Time to put those grown up pants on and have a preliminary lesson, just to see how many I’d potentially need to pass a driving test.

But I’m very aware that driving lessons are pricey and actually running a vehicle isn’t cheap, the initial purchase cost, insurance, fuel and, if we weren’t buying a new vehicle (who am I kidding?!?) with a warranty, then ongoing maintenance costs for keeping that vehicle road-worthy.

When it comes to maintenance too, unless you’re mechanically-minded and have an idea in advance of what could potentially need doing to a vehicle, the costs quoted could be a surprise, the knowledge that any reparatory work needed has not only been diagnosed by sight but also the use of a diagnostics tool by Scan Tool Center could bring some comfort, although maybe not to a bank balance!!

For the time being though, I’ll have my pipe dream (mmmmm Mini Countryman) and we’ll keeeeep scooting!! 

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Recycling and how we can get better at it here 

By | July 26, 2018

I tended to think we were pretty good at recycling in our house.

We have a de-clutter a couple of times a year with piles made, labelling them as:

“keep” (but only if the items are actually going to be worn/used), 

“sell” (for anything that could either be auctioned online or head off to a super-duper lady near us who specialises in listing and selling on clothing), 

“charity shop” (usually toys/books/DVD’s) or 

“bag” (which is a waste removal service using a huuuuge bag instead of a skip, recycling 80% of contents).

We also have a weekly recycling collection via the council, a two weekly garden waste collection, pass all carrier bags and plastic packaging to our grocery delivery driver (and it gets turned into tabards), glass jars/bottles/light bulbs head off to the glass bins (usually a lot of bovril jars as that is all T will eat on toast/bread) and a compost bin in which we pop vegetable peelings and, as the bunnies’ run is soil-based, their “dirty” soil and sawdust goes in there too when they get cleaned out.

I don’t throw out any ends from crochet projects either, they get put into a plastic jar and used for keyring stuffing or that footstool I want to make one day.

All good eh? You’d think so, but there is an area of our recycling which lets us down.

That of single-use plastic bottles. T has them for his plain waters and I developed a taste for unsweetened lemon and lime water during my post-op recoveries. Yes, the bottles are recycled weekly but I feel and know that we could improve on this and do we really know what happens to our recycling anyway? 

The pictures of litter-filled coastlines where the tides bring in multiple plastic are disgraceful and should be spurring everybody into action, not only for us now, but for future generations.

There is a very obvious, immediate answer here and that is to move over to tap water and bottled squash, but the pictures you see of multiple use bottles with the uncleanable components inside and the obvious risks to health put me off.

A potential solution, which solves both the need for single use bottles and the sometimes metallic taste in tap water would be squash or fruit juice that can be diluted, cups with a lid and (I saw these in a store the other day) stainless steel straws and filtered water, the latter could be made in a jug stored into a fridge, thus keeping taste quenching cool for when needed.

  
Win, win, win with a clearer conscience and  water filter answers as long as I can get T on board *thumbs up* 

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Be Brave, Be You #BeMoreWitWitWoo

By | July 21, 2018

I entered the blogging world a few years back, primarily to reach out to other parents of autistic children, after reading their experiences and empathising with them.

But then two things happened: 

1.  I found I enjoyed blogging, it helped me to “blog it out” when I felt overcome by fear/anxiety/helplessness at situations where my children seemed to be regarded as numbers on a budget sheet rather than the individuals they are 

and 2. I made blogging friends.  It might not matter that I might never ever meet them, due to geographical locations but knowing that there was someone, somewhere to offer a friendly word of advice/send a GIF/just be there and that has been invaluable, especially over the last couple of “feet” years.  The times I have met bloggers in person has been huggablely wonderful! 

On Monday, that blogging world felt shocked and saddened at the death of Kate at  witwitwoo, how could it be that such a vibrant lady, who always brightened up timelines could be gone, so suddenly? I changed my FB profile picture to an image which just summed up Kate and all she represented perfectly:

  
and the hashtag #BeMoreWitWitWoo has been lovely to follow, both as a tribute to Kate and seeing others being brave and taking themselves right out of their comfort zone.

Today has been #SwimSuitSaturday in tribute to Kate and, I’m making no excuses that there isn’t a picture from me other than I do not have the confidence to join in and I have no idea where my swimsuit is, isn’t that bad?!? That’s what two years of “feet” do for you!

So, I’m joining in with the picture below, which is a bit of a big thing for me.
  
My feet, after three foot operations since October 2016, in fitflops too. 

They are scarred and swollen and I’m more happy with one than the other but they now do what they’re meant to and that’s a positive.

They’re also on a scooter as D and I went to her SN golf session via two buses and a lot of scootering!  I can’t imagine my doing this previously, but we did it today (and yes, they now hurt!).

But back to my reason for writing this post, Kate leaves behind two sons and I cannot imagine how absolutely devastated they are feeling now, but there is a funeral fundraising link here if anyone would like to donate and help them. 

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InstaLinkLove #instalinklove 

By | July 21, 2018

InstaLinkLove is switching over to fortnightly for the summer and will be back (did you read that in an Arnie voice?!) next Saturday 28th July.

Enjoy the sunshine and see you then!

  

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InstaLinkLove Week 94 #instalinklove 

By | July 14, 2018

Welcome to Week 94 of InstaLinkLove!

  
The Linky had a little break last week, T is a week away from the school holidays, D a week and a half and it’s far to say that they are just soooooooo tired and ready for the summer break, which impacts on the household a bit *little sigh*, anyway….

f you haven’t joined us before in this linky before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last time and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last time’s Linky and they were fab!

  
  
  
  
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x 


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When We Renew Our Vows 

By | July 13, 2018

Hubby and I have been married for 16 years now, together for 18, we married on the second anniversary of our first date, which – thinking about it now – is quite handy because we only have the one date to remember!

We do joke that we’d “have got less time for crime/must be due for parole now” but our marriage is a partnership and boy, has that partnership gone up and down a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions!

I don’t mean that there’s been any challenges from anyone else, just that having two children within 18 months, moving house when six weeks away from giving birth, self employment and those challenges, family illness and bereavement, autism diagnoses, two years of my silly feet saga and now, parenting two autistic teens, they all have their ways that can chink a little bit away at you, it wouldn’t be natural if they didn’t.

One thing we would both love to do, that we haven’t got around to yet, is to renew our wedding vows.  

Not because it’s the “thing to do”, but because – as mentioned above – we have rode the rollercoaster of life and it would mean so much to both of us if we did.

We married in Jersey, with immediate family there and then had a party a couple of weeks later after our honeymoon, it suited us, not having the whole she-bang first up and, as we were paying for everything ourselves, it meant that we kept a constant eye on how the costs were adding up.

At the time, I was in full time employment and opted to save £200 a month towards it, even though we had a small ceremony, it was still pricey but nowhere near as much as the average UK wedding works out at (I think I read an eye-watering figure of £25k recently!)

I (unexpectedly) had a little T-bump when we married too, hidden (although we were delighted) by my bouquet of Jersey freesias on the day and, as you’ll see from the picture, opted for a pale green dress and bolero from Debenhams, it suited our more intimate, relaxed choice of ceremony and wedding.

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Were we to renew our vows, it would have to be somewhere special to us both, for example, there is a lovely Elizabethan castle in St Helier which gets completely cut off by the tide daily and has the most amazing sunsets, as well as all that history surrounding it. Or a holiday combination, but that might feel a bit too touristy for us. 

Either way, it is always useful to take advice from wedding specialists and the confetti.co.uk site is jam-packed full of ideas and tips for wedding planning and inspiration. There used to be a Confetti store in town and, leading up to our wedding, I’d always be in there during my lunch hour, browsing for ideas which we could use.

I guess, wherever and whenever, we do get around to this and for anyone planning a wedding/vow renewal, it’s important to remember that:

It’s your day and others would have to respect this but if there was a certain someone who didn’t get on with a certain someone else, they would just have to button it and set aside their differences for the duration. You can’t please everyone!

Take a moment to laugh and smile and not just for the cameras! Events like these pass by so quickly, enjoy it.

Sometimes it can feel like a lot of pressure from others, they might have pre-conceived ideas about how a wedding should go. Listen but stand your ground, it is your ceremony after all.

And

Whether it’s a registry office for two with hastily grabbed witnesses, or a full-blown (Windsor Castle anyone?) ceremony with trimmings, the actual vows you make and commitment to each other are what matter, not necessarily how many layers of tulle you have…but if tulle makes you happy…….Go For It and Enjoy! 

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InstaLinkLove – back 14/7/18

By | July 7, 2018

InstaLinkLove is having a break this week, as per the image!

  
See you for some instagram love (and hopefully some rain) on 14th July x 

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Making your home your own 

By | July 5, 2018

Finding your first home, away from your parents/carers, is always exciting, isn’t it.

Whether it be a room in a shared house, a flat share or taking that first step on the property ladder, it’s an exciting time, a chance to exert your personality onto a blank canvas.

When I first left the family home, I had a room in a house, owned by a man and his live-in girlfriend. Their relationship was in the process of breaking down and was very on/off. It’s probably a bonus that I was doing anti-social hours as a hotel receptionist, I missed a lot of the on/off aspect as I was either working/sleeping/going out!

Next up, was a bedsit in a large house, which had been divided up into bedsits on each floor, with a shared toilet/shower. There was a tiny kitchen area (with a very temperamental mini water heater) and a fold-down bed, the toilet was the sort-of place were you’d frequently find fungi and discarded unidentified undies on the floor and you’d have to kick them to one side and hope that whoever left them there would claim them back on their next visit! Turnover of tenants was high and I often go past that block of houses going into town and wonder if it’s all been spruced up and if the (rather ancient) landlady is still around.

After that, it was time to get that first step up onto the property ladder and a little two up, two down terrace fitted the bill. It was over 100 years old and it was the second in of a line of ten terrace houses, each very individual as people had moved in and extended out to the back in various ways, all adding a bathroom and some adding kitchens or keeping as per that original layout of a front room and a kitchen. It was (still is) very close to a main road, with a bus route so net curtains were a must! It was small, you could hear when your next door neighbour was washing up (!) but it was home.

I remember feeling mega excited when we had a table and chairs, they were solid pine and bought from a shop near where I worked at the time. I’d been “stalking” them for a while, going in and loving the fact they were fully assembled and that no instructions were needed to put them together.

The disadvantage to owning an older house was just that, it was older! The heating system was confined to a huge hot water tank, there was no central heating and, as the water was so hard, the heating element would need replacing every 1.5 years, which was a case of calling someone out who’d drain the tank with a hose (out of a window) and then replace the very furred up element, you could literally mark on a calendar to the day when you’d wake up to no hot water and know that it was element-replacement time! 

That house had probably seen a lot of drama before and saw some in my time there, most memorably being T’s planned homebirth in our living room! His birth at home was planned and he arrived bang on his due date. It was absolutely lovely to give birth, have a bath and head upstairs to our own bed and have a cuddle with our son.

There came a point though, when, with D on the way, we had to find a new, larger home and luckily for us, we received an offer on our little terrace after six days on the market. It helped that we had decluttered massively (taking advantage of storage elsewhere) and presented the house with minimal furniture (not that you could fit much in anyway!) and also that we’d applied a fresh coat of paint everywhere so that it looked ready to move into.  

Despite the fact that our buyer had no chain, we had a mortgage offer in place and the seller of our new house had a minimal chain, it seemed to take ages for everything to complete. My D-bump was ever-growing and we were potentially facing the prospect of putting everything on hold, having her in our terrace and then re-starting everything after she was born. 

Fortunately everything was signed, sealed and delivered and we moved with six weeks to go before I had D in our new home, in our bedroom, again planned and a lovely way to christen our house.

Over the years, we’ve made it our own and the garden especially has changed its purpose. For a long while, it was our children’s play area with numerous little plastic vehicles to be put together, a football goal (naturally!), a climbing frame/slide combo and a trampoline, all requiring technical documentation with detailed instructions as to assembly.

Depending on my mood, I can have a bit of a gung-ho approach to instructions, sometimes thinking of taking perhaps a little short cut because, at the time, you think it’ll look better but then you remember that these illustrated manuals have been tested over and over and they really should be followed for success! 

An advantage of our technical age is that a minimal amount of instructions can be included sometimes to get you up and running, on say, a new phone or my bike, but a more detailed product manual is available online which can always be “bookmarked” on a smartphone or computer and referred to as and when needed. 

There is an environmental saving to keeping a product manual in this way too, no need to print reams and reams of paper off when maybe one page needs printing. Google translate can also be very useful if you have a manual online for a product in a foreign language, something that would have been very useful for the memorable flatpack purchase I made online, which came with minimal (paper and no drawings) instructions in Chinese (I think). It was pure guesswork as to which component to use for where and there “may” have been a bit of inner-head swearing involved in assembling that!

Our house right now, feels just the right size, yes the kitchen could do with upgrading but it’s ours, our family home.

I guess however much technology advances further, nothing can beat that feeling of holding those keys to the door, that new home, that little bit of independence, that will never change, will it? 

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InstaLinkLove – Week 93 #instalinklove

By | June 30, 2018

Welcome to Week 93 of InstaLinkLove, normally you’d see Victoria’s badge beneath this sentence but..

  
I thought we’d pop a picture of her wonderfully handsome Rex in as, can you believe it, he was one this week!?! Thanks to Victoria for letting me use her image.

Last week’s Linky was a muted one, I apologise.  I ended up in A&E following a (very unlucky but unintended) cat bite to the joints in my left thumb (I’m left-handed!) and, it’s no exaggeration to say that I was very close to having it operated on! Yuck! It’s still not 100% but a lot better thanks to our wonderful NHS.

On with the Linky…

f you haven’t joined us before in this linky before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last time and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s Linky and they were lovely, happy ones too:

  
  
  

Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x 

  


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InstaLinkLove Week 92 #instalinklove 

By | June 23, 2018

Welcome to Week 92 of InstaLinkLove!

  

If you haven’t joined us before in this linky before, then this is the easy-to-use linky which helps you get your Instagram posts a bit more interaction and interest.

Thank you to everyone who linked up last time and welcome to those who are back for more and those who are first-timers.

This is a really straightforward, no stress (none of us need that in our lives!), easy to use linky.

All you need to do is link up the URL from up to four of your most recent Instagram posts. We suggest most recent because this is better for interaction.

It’s just a case of finding your Instagram account on-line, clicking on the photo that you want to link up, clicking on “share post” and then copying and pasting the link into the Linky below.

The only condition is that you go over and “like” everyone else’s pictures who’ve linked up.

Here’s my favourites from last week’s linky:
  
 
 
Please remember our (very easy) rules:

*You can link up to 4 images per Instagram Account per week.

*Please remember to visit and “like” the other pictures linked up, prior to next week’s Linky opening.

It would also be great if you could share your post with the linky on Instagram using the hashtag #instalinklove to help grow the community.

Thanks and really looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to on Instagram this week x 
  


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