Friday, 22 May 2015

The Gingerbread Man that wasn't a treat

I wouldn't normally write a post like this but my mum is keen for me to do so..... mum, this is for you.

My parents visit once a week. Usually, they alternate between spending one week with my sister and the next with me. When it isn't my week, they pop in for a coffee before going on to my sister's house. As I am going to be moving away this summer, they have broken the long established routine and have decided to make every week a bit special by taking my sister and I both out for lunch.

This week, we chose a local pub restaurant of the Fayre & Square franchise - The Gingerbread Man, Market Drayton.

We were quite surprised when we arrived to see that the normal 'order at the bar' service had been replaced by a more formal 'wait to be seated' and waitress service. There was also a brand new menu.

We perused the menu and my sister and I both decided on the vegetarian sausage and mash option. Dad stayed true to form and ordered his usual - fish and chips. The waitress was friendly and took our orders.

This is where it started to wrong.

Dad is firmly stuck in ways (not just in his choice of lunch). He likes his food served at a certain time and gets a bit agitated if he is kept waiting longer than necessary. I'm sure he will deny it when mum reads this post out to him but sorry dad, it is true.

We were kept waiting.

Mum made assurances that it was taking as long as it was because they would be cooking it all from fresh. It would be worth waiting for.

It wasn't.

The food arrived about half an hour later. It wasn't much of a big deal for me to wait half an hour but dad is in his eighties. If he sits in one place for too long, things start to seize up and that would spoil his enjoyment. We are all very aware of this and can start to feel on edge if we think he is struggling. If he was struggling, his mind was taken off arthritic joints and worn out knees when he laid eyes on his piece of fish. The dish named The Codfather certainly delivered on the size of the battered fillet. It was enormous and dad tucked into it with wide eyes and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the chip component of the fish and chips was far less satisfactory. The chips were actually cold.

Dad's cold chips were less of a concern than the plates my sister and I were served. I say 'plate' , they were actually large bowls which did not lend themselves well to good presentation which consisted of a dollop of mash with some peas thrown on, drowning in a sea of watery gravy with three mediocre looking veggie sausages plonked on top.

We all know that the first bite is with the eye but I have always been more interested in the second bite.
Sadly, things only got worse.

I am of the firm opinion that if the menu states 'mashed potato' you should be served with potato that is mashed. This may have been a potato once but processing and reconstituting had rendered it quite unrecognisable from the original tuber. Not only that, it had not been reconstituted adequately. I had lumps of almost rubbery goo in my serving that I had to actually spit out for fear of it making me sick. However discreetly I tried to remove the nauseating mass from my mouth,  my weak stomached sister did heave and could barely look at her own food, let alone try to extract something vaguely edible from the mess.

Disappointing for us as it was to be served such rubbish, the worse thing was that my mum felt guilty that our meals were not an acceptable standard and started to apologise to us. Her disappointment and feeling that she had somehow let us down was really heartbreaking. This was probably a good time for the waitress to appear and cheerily ask us if everything was OK with our meals.

I am not a complainer - I always just try to make the best of any situation - but with my mum blaming herself for the disaster I had to say something. The waitress did offer to replace my dad's chips but whether the attitude deeply ingrained from wartime shortages meant that he could not bring himself to waste even cold chips or whether he just wanted the meal to be over as quick as possible so he could get up from he chair to relieve his pains, he refused. There was not much she could do about our dinners other than apologise. I asked for a reduction in the bill and we were offered a deduction to the value of one of our meals.

We really should have refused to pay for the two unsatisfactory meals but maybe the fact that we were brought up by someone so apposed to wasting food that he won't even swap his cold chips or maybe just to try and absolve our mum from her misplaced guilt, we had eaten the sausages (which were as mediocre as they first appeared)

Mum wanted to buy us all dessert to make up for the bad food but I felt disinclined to put any more business their way. We accepted the offer of the deduction and asked for the bill.

Dad (who was paying) was quite satisfied with the outcome but the free meal wasn't as good a deal as it seemed. Their pricing system has 'meal deals' so you can buy two meals for a tenner offering a reduction on the price of individual meals. Our bill was reduced by the cost of one meal which automatically meant we were charged more for the other. The compensation for two inedible dinners and a ruined lunchtime treat turned out to be about  three pounds. Pathetic.

We have all had bad experiences with retailers and service providers. How those companies choose to deal with the customer can make a huge difference to whether you do business with them again.

An apology from somebody with more authority than a poorly paid waitress, a complaint taken seriously by the kitchen, a sweetener in the form of free drinks or desserts, a fair reduction in the bill .... any one of those would have satisfied us and we would have returned for future lunches (although possibly always steered clear of the mash).

It was not an expensive meal even if we were charged more than it was worth. We are not interested in making a fuss even if the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths both figuratively and literally. I think my mum's keenness for me to write this post is her way of putting it all in order and moving on. (I hope I have done that for you mum).

My dad is a very generous tipper. I think I mentioned a couple of times in this post that he is a creature of habit. When I thought for one second that he was considering leaving a tip, I told him very firmly to put his money away.

He did.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Divorcing my Children

My husband is away this week. He is in India visiting a quite remarkable school nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas.

There is part of me that hates him being away. I want him home with me. I want him in my bed at night. I want him bringing me my cup of tea in the morning. And yet there is part of me that doesn't mind at all because it is the passion he has for doing things outisde of what most would consider the norm that makes him the man he is - the man I love.

It is this passion that has shaken our lives up so drastically recently. He is starting a new job and we are moving from the home we have lived in happily for the last ten years. Ten years of stability and suddenly we are starting over in a new place with new opportunities and new challenges.

Without a doubt, the one thing I will miss above all else from this part of my life is having my two eldest daughters around. They both have homes a short walk from mine and I spend a lot of time with them - running, swimming, shopping or having them just drop by for a chat or inviting themselves to dinner! They help me out in all sorts of ways and I love their company. I know that the relationships will adapt and evolve to suit the new situation but I will definitely miss the 'availability' of them.

Despite living independent lives, both daughters still have possessions in the family home. Of my other two grown up daughters, one is about to finish University and one is about to start. They both have a significant amount of their belongings stored here too. As we will be moving to an area of high property value, we will inevitably be downsizing. This has made it necessary for my girls to claim and take responsibility for as much of their own stuff as possible.

We joked that it was like a divorce as we sorted through the DVD and CD collection working out what belonged to who. Divorcing my children actually turned out to be a lot of fun and quite therapeutic. We  amicably divided and also sorted out a mighty pile that my eldest, Liberty, was able to sell with Music Magpie. I was absolutely delighted when she bought me a present out of some of the proceeds to thank me for the sacrifices I made from my part of the collection.

My present was Volume 1 of a wonderfully dark, interconnected collection of short stories in the graphic novel style by writer Neil Gibson. I have never fully embraced the comic book culture but this particular book entitled Twisted Dark is incredible. It explores the worst aspects of human nature in a punchy, hard hitting yet digestible way. Beautifully drawn, clever narrative, edgy... I just love it. I don't imagine it will convert me to a lover of all things 'comic book' but I am definitely wanting more Twisted Dark!

Another sizeable collection that needed to be dealt with was Liberty's Warhammer fantasy miniatures - paints, craft tools, miniature figures, scenery, the entire Lord of the Rings partwork with most of the figures still wrapped in the cellophane. Back in her teens, she had spent many a happy hour painting the figures - and she was good at it.  A steady hand, meticulous attention to detail and the odd tutorial at the nearest Warhammer Games Workshop and she was achieving a very high standard - a standard recognised when she won a ffty pound gift voucher in a painting competition. The money was immediately ploughed back into the hobby which ground to a halt about the time she got her first serious boyfriend! The collection has been in my loft gathering dust for years and it was time to put it back into her hands. The lovely thing is, her interest has been rekindled. She has no desire to play Warhammer or even to keep the figures once they are painted. The joy is in the doing. She has started painting them then putting them on ebay to sell. She is doing well. She's never going to make her millions this way but she has the pleasure of painting, the slight thrill of seeing how high the bids go and most importantly... they are no longer in my loft.

My house decluttering continues as I wait for my husband to return from his adventures in India. I am almost at the point where I want to empty each room as though we were moving out and then (after a clean and freshen) put back ONLY what we want in our new life. That way, there will be no surprises when we move out for real.


Monday, 11 May 2015

A Patchwork Blanket

I have four daughters of child bearing age. Quite rightly, because of where each of them is in their lives, not one of them is bearing any children. I am not completely desperate for grandchildren with my own two little ones to keep me busy, but it would be nice. I often imagined knitting a little something for the new baby as I awaited the moment that my child became a mother.

Recently, I sorted through my collection of wool, needles and pattern books that I have barely looked at for years.

I'd spent some really happy hours learning to knit with my mum as my mentor, trying all sorts of different projects from zombies, to meerkats to all the birds from the twelve days of Christmas. I also practised new techniques and designs on small squares that I intended to put together to make a patchwork blanket. My mum gave me three patchwork blankets that she made in the time it took me to make a handful of squares. My blanket project lost impetus.

Sorting through the knitting cupboard as part of my preparation for moving house this summer, memories of the happy times flooded back. I found the little plastic bag that I had kept all my blanket squares in and wondered what to do with them. I wasn't sure if it was something worth donating to a charity shop and I didn't want to just throw them away because each one was like a page in a special knitting diary. I was overcome with good feelings as I laid them out and quite surprised to find that by chance, I had made exactly enough for a 7x5 rectangle. I ignored my head that was telling me that I had too much to do to mess around with knitted squares and listened to my heart that was urging me to finish the job I'd started all that time ago and sew them together into an blanket (a small blanket but still a blanket).

I found a video on the internet that explained a few different ways of putting the squares together and decided on the one that I thought would work best for me and my limited sewing skills. My husband came home to no dinner that evening but I joined all the pieces... and I loved it. It was surprisingly relaxing. As for the finished item, I am really proud of it. It's a bit higgledy piggledy but the squares seem to blend together to create something different... to become what it was always meant to be. Definitely a case of the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

The cupboard is now sorted. I have donated a lot of what I had but kept a small number of needles and my very favourite pattern books just in case I feel the urge to get creative with wool. And I have a blanket. It is a tiny blanket but a tiny blanket that would be perfect for a new baby. Even if I never knit again, my first born grandchild will have a little something from its granny with love in every stitch.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Market Drayton 10K 2015

Today I ran the Market Drayton 10K road race, voted best in the country for three consecutive years by readers of Runners World magazine.

I didn't come last but I know the person who did and she just happens to be the twin sister of my daughter's boyfriend. This remarkable young lady was born with cerebral palsy but has never let it limit her. Inspired by her mother who recently completed the London Marathon, she took on the challenge of running her first 10K. It took her 1 hour and 44 minutes and she was very definitely last but what an achievement. As she crossed the line with her very proud mum, the rest of her family and extended family were waiting with an emotional display of congratulations. If my own body had not been so dehydrated, I would have been crying like a baby to see her euphoria at finishing and the responses of her loved ones. My tear ducts produced only dry tears as I made sobbing noises and struggled to catch my breath. She was presented ceremonially with a very well deserved medal.

The inclusive nature of the event is maybe part of the reason why this race keeps being voted number one. Or maybe it is the party atmosphere, enhanced greatly by the energetic drummer group that made running along the high street an absolute pleasure with the accompanying pacey beat. Then there is the family friendly nature with the children able to take part in fun runs prior to the main race.

This year my two little ones were signed up to take part in the fun runs. Dylan was in the 3-4 year age category running a distance of 100 metres and Addy was in the 5-7 year category covering 200 metres. They were both vey proud of their medals and goody bags presented at the finish. Both are keen to run again.

On the subject of goody bags, the Market Drayton 10K is well supported by local business sponsors and provides an amazing selection of treats for the finishers including a technical T shirt, medal, mars bar, gingerbread man, pork pie, water, yoghurts and a voucher for beer that I am very much looking forward to redeeming. Perhaps another reason why the race is so popular!

My husband was happy to sacrifice his chance of a new Personal Best to run the course with me.

It was tough but I loved it and his encouragement (which included pushing me up a few hills) was definitely what kept me going. We crossed the finish line together.

My time of 1 hour 12 mins was slower than my last year's result but faster than the first year I did it and only actually 6 minutes slower than the time I would have been aiming for if my training had gone according to plan. I am not at all unhappy with that.

I am also very proud of my two eldest daughters who did fantastically well today. I wonder which of us will be aching the most tomorrow!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

That's Enter'train'ment

I recently had a much needed weekend break in London to coincide with the London Marathon. I travelled down by train with two of my daughters and for our entertainment (or as I preferred to call it  - enter'train'ment) my eldest daughter, Liberty,  had sourced some goal setting life audit activity sheets from pinterest. Daughter Ivy was having none of it, protesting that her life was fine the way it was and settled down with a book. Liberty and I got stuck in.

We had to list five priorities and set three goals to achieve each of them.

My first priority was: to run the Market Drayton 10K without coming last. As I explained in a previous post, coming last is actually a real possibility! I set my goals which included running the three miles home from the school drop off at least once a week.

I have been without a car for some time. My faithful old Galaxy was definitely starting to get a bit cranky and when an unfortunate trip home from Sussex ended up taking 7 hours rather than the usual 3 to 4  because of the traffic, bit cranky was elevated to somewhere between more than a lot cranky and totally had it. My sister kindly stepped in to transport my kids to and from school each day and on one morning a week (for all of two weeks) I had her drop me off at the school in my lycra and trainers so I could run home. I ran a bit. I walked a bit. I made it home both times without resorting to hitching a lift from a friendly road user. It wasn't too bad but it wasn't too good either. It certainly wasn't enough to give me the confidence to run the six miles of the race I'd signed up to do.

It is too late to worry about it (and the other two running goals I set myself and failed to find the time for) now. The race is tomorrow! I am running it with my husband so my revised strategy to achieve my goal of 'not coming last' is to trip my husband up just before the finish line so at least I can beat him!

My second priority was to start blogging again. Woohoo! Chalk up one victory to me!

My next two priorities were to do with the fact that I will be moving soon - starting a new life in new county. I gave some thought to the people I want to spend some time with here before I go and the sorting out of my belongings so that I only take with me the things I really want or need. So priority number three was all about PARTIES!! and if only the weather would cheer up I would get my big gazebo put up in the garden and launch myself into party planning mode. I have plenty of good party ideas that will actually help with the sorting out part of my plan. More to follow on that (when the sun comes out!) Priority four could not just be a general 'sort things out'. I was already doing that anyway. It had to focus more on the areas I'd been avoiding because I knew they would be difficult. I set my goals and the hardest one of all was to sort out my photographs.

I bought my first SLR camera when I was at University. Over the years I have amassed an insane amount of photographs. Often, when I had my films processed, I would order two copies of each print because it was significantly cheaper than paying for reprints. When I had my children, I would photograph them endlessly. So many similar photos. So many bad photos. So many double copies. Just... so many photos. I have never been any good at organising them. Add to that all the school photography.... and you always buy the biggest pack because it is 'better value for money'.... and again... so many photos.

I have the luxury of a lot of cupboard space in my current house. For the last ten years, my jumbled mess of photographs has caused nobody any trouble behind a closed door, added to whenever it was the school photo time of year. But I could not move it as it was to our new home. It had to be tackled.

It took me two days to sort through them systematically, discarding the over exposed, the under exposed, the blurry ones, the doubles.... and putting the rest into roughly chronological order. I faced memory after memory... most good, some bad. It was emotionally draining.

I am really pleased with the result... a coherent collection of photographs that invites you to dip in and enjoy.

The final part of the process was probably the hardest. What to do with all the discarded images? After a lot of thought, I shredded them. I shredded my own children. It felt very wrong. I have to say that the shredder did transform the photos into a tactile, glistening heap of shreddings. Quite lovely.

Onto my final priority. Back in December, I set myself a New Year Challenge to learn twelve pole dancing moves - one a month for twelve months - in order to put together a routine and finally get the best use of the pole that my husband bought for me years ago. I started off quite well learning to do a reasonable Fireman Spin by watching instructional videos on the internet. Then I had a change of heart. To fit in with my life I needed to fast track my progress. I started having lessons.

Ivy has been coming with me and I am so glad that I got her to come along. She is really loving it and doing really well. We have now both achieved a Level 1 pass and I have already got more than 12 moves to use in my routine (as well as an impressive selection of bruises). My priority isn't really about calling myself a 'pole dancer' but using pole dancing to improve my strength, posture and flexibility and most of all have some fun. I am certainly doing that.

Liberty - Enemy of the Hoarder

My daughter Liberty is a first class declutterer. Nothing would give her more pleasure than entering into the home of a chronic hoarder and barking the order Get Rid of It! as she regards with disdain each and every one of your 'treasures'. She has been extremely brutal with my treasures and extremely useful.

I invited her round initially to help me sort out the massive collection of children's books that had belonged to her and her sisters and had been handed down and put away for my little ones. We are a book loving family but when there are too many to choose from, pages are yellowed, spines damaged and covers dated... it ceases to be a pleasure. With the efficiency of a school librarian (which she was, briefly) she worked her way through the mountain of books and sorted them into three piles: keep, charity shop, recycle. I did not question her judgement.

Once the charity shop had taken their share and the paper recycling skip was a little fuller, we were left with a manageable pile of lovely books that fitted neatly onto the bookshelf space available and seven year old Addy immediately dived in and began browsing the titles to find some bedtime reading material. Exactly the result I was looking for.

Actually, I did overrule one of Liberty's decisions. She was adamant that the complete Harry Potter collection was a keeper. She was of the generation that grew up with Hogwarts and hungrily devoured each new school year as it was published. Personally, I loved the first three books but found the later volumes a chore. I am happy for my little ones to watch the films when they are ready and will buy the books for kindle if they show any interest. Books 1-3 take up an acceptable amount of space on the shelf. The rest have now gone. Sorry Liberty.

The little ones 'help' sort out the bookshelves

Sorting the books for me served only to whet Liberty's appetite. My husband clung possessively to his Peter Tosh CD as she scorned his musical taste and emptied our CD racks! She had me close to tears as she made me choose just one bat biscuit cutter out of the five I had collected.

Actually, my biscuit cutter collection was an embarrassment. I had carefully organised them into three large tins, eight plastic takeaway food containers, a plastic basket and a few loose ones. They took up  almost an entire cupboard. Nobody needs that many biscuit cutters. As Liberty sorted through them with the speed of an express train, I found myself saying - that one can go, I can never get the cookie dough out of it in one piece or that one can go, the head always falls off when I take it off the baking tray or what is that one supposed to be anyway? An owl? A rocket? Seriously, why had I held onto so many 'not fit for purpose' cutters anyway! We reduced my Xmas cutters to the ones I use every year and the Hallowe'en collection to the best of the different types, discarding all the cats because the tails never work.

Shortly after the decimation of my biscuit cutter hoard, daughter Taylor and her boyfriend came home from Uni and cooked a three course meal here at my house for my husband, myself and the boyfriend's parents. They planned a Mexican themed dinner with the star of the show being a dessert they had created to look like nachos but with biscuit tortilla chips, chocolate sauce salsa and grated white chocolate cheese. When Taylor asked me if I had a triangle biscuit cutter I immediately said Yes. Then I remembered Liberty's work. Maybe. It didn't take long to look through my new improved streamlined cutter collection to find that  the answer was No - my triangle cutter had not been elite enough to survive the cull. I was ready to cry and question the sanity of ever throwing away anything that you had considered good enough to buy in the first place when Taylor picked up a square cutter that  Liberty had spared and brightly suggested she could use that and cut it on the diagonal. That works! Crisis averted and the nacho inspired dessert was magnificent.

Friday, 8 May 2015

My Solar Eclipse Run and the MD 10K

During my absence from the blogosphere, we were treated to the natural wonder that was the solar eclipse. My husband was heading off for a job interview and the kids were at school so I decided to experience the eclipse out in the countryside whilst doing something that has come to be an important part of my life - running. I called it (unimaginatively) my solar eclipse run.

It was glorious.

I love being out in the Shropshire countryside and this day could not have been better. I was thinking a lot about my husband's interview and what it would mean to us as a family if he was offered the job. As well as taking my mind off the inevitable pain and monotony of running, it also made me appreciate the countryside all the more. The new job would mean moving away from this place I loved so I was going to enjoy every hedgerow, every field, every cow, every bird... as if it were the last time. Enjoying all these things against the slightly surreal purplish quality of the light as the moon moved across the sun suited my mood perfectly.

There was a noticeable drop in the temperature and a blurring of the shadows but it didn't go as dark as I remembered from the last eclipse I'd witnessed and the birds never stopped singing like they had before. It felt slightly anti-climatic but I kept running and the moon kept moving across the sky away from the sun and life went on.

That was probably the last time I had a really good run.

The interview went well for my husband. He has been offered a job. We are moving. I have been thrust into a whole new world of busy as we try to prepare for this next part of our journey - a journey that began over ten years ago with a reunion of old friends from which love blossomed.

Putting the romantic stuff back in box marked Do Not Open Unless You are in the Mood for Romantic Stuff, my point is That was the last time I had a really good run because there has been so much going on and so much to do.

Normally, taking a break from running would not be a problem but I am signed up to run a 10K race in my home town of Market Drayton on Sunday and I'm not sure I could even run for a bus at the moment.

This will be my third time running the Market Drayton 10K which has grown over the years into an event to be proud of - voted by Runners World magazine as Best UK 10K for three consecutive years and best UK race over any distance in 2014. We were even on the BBC local news yesterday.

I think I can safely say that there is no chance of beating my own personal best for the course. My husband has offered to run it with me and despite the fact that I know it is going to be tough to complete it without having put in the training to get my fitness and stamina where it needs to be, I am thoroughly looking forwards to it. I will run it with my husband at a nice steady (slow!) pace and am determined to enjoy every kilometre as it winds its way around familiar streets. It will be part of the ritual of saying goodbye to the town that has been a good home for me.

Having been up to London recently to support the wonderful Marathon runners, I feel almost embarrassed to say that the 10K will be a test of my fortitude. Watching the amazing individuals at around the 25 mile mark was quite an experience. A wide spectrum of human emotion was on display as people were pushed to the limit of their endurance. I will be running less than a quarter of the distance but still, to keep going will take a lot of physical and mental effort. I will have to draw on all the motivation I felt as a marathon spectator to continue putting one foot in front of the other until the finish line.

I will run it with my husband because with him at my side I can do almost anything. (I knew I wouldn't be able to keep the lid on the Romantic Box!)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Start of a New Journey.

I feel as though I should be in the blogger's equivalent of a Catholic confessional.

Forgive me internet for I have not blogged. It has been two months since my last post...

In my defence, my lack of activity on the tiny speck of the cyberspace landscape that I call mine has been driven by the fact that my computer ceased to function. Having spent a rather long time being repaired by some genius whose skills make my head hurt, my computer is back where it belongs - on my desk and fully functioning (albeit with a slightly odd keyboard that may end up being to blame for some interesting typos).

I am back and so much has happened in the last couple of months that I don't know quite where to start. In the tradition of all good stories, I suppose I should start at the beginning.

For some time, my husband has felt dissatisfied with his current employment. A long commute each day bites deeply into the time available to try and achieve the elusive work/life balance. He is always ridiculously busy, sometimes overstretched and too often stupidly tired. On one such day when he decided to have a good moan about it, I was not in the mood to be sympathetic. I told him in no uncertain terms that he had no right to complain about the situation unless he was prepared to actually do something about it. He took my words very much to heart.

My husband is in the sort of job where head hunters periodically contact him with positions that may be of interest. He had responded to a few of these potential opportunities in the past but without the commitment of time (of which he has so little to spare) and energy (ditto!) or any real desire to actually change the wonderful bits of our life that we have built over the last decade,  these opportunities went nowhere.

Suddenly, with my words still bouncing around his head, everything went crazy. There were job applications, interviews and presentations to prepare. There were shirts to iron, suits to dry clean. There were long trips north and south to attend invitations to interview.

It came down to two strong contenders. A job in Yorkshire which I loved the sound of. I saw myself living in the Dales in a sympathetically renovated barn conversion with a big garden for me to keep my chickens and the kids to play. The property website RightMove fed my imagination as I perused suitable homes for sale within our price range. The job my husband favoured would mean moving to Sussex. Putting to one side for a moment that this was a great job, there were two compelling arguments in its favour. Firstly, my husband was born and raised in Brighton and has a strong affinity for the area. Secondly, it would mean we could see a lot more of his dad and be on hand should we be needed at any time. The major flaw in the plan was that our 'housing dollar' would have a really hard time stretching to any sort of accommodation even vaguely comparable to our current home. RightMove was no longer my friend.

My dreams of becoming a Yorkshire lass were put to bed when my husband accepted the Sussex job but before accepting it, a wild card was thrown into the mix. During the process of providing the names of referees for potential employers, my husband got back into contact with a man he had worked with in Switzerland. I have yet to meet this man but my husband describes him as inspirational and someone he would love to work with again. Contact with the inspirational individual generated the wildcard.

I am not a morning person. I can be slow to wake up and not worth talking to until after my first cup of tea. My husband brought me up my morning tea as usual and dropped the question out of the blue How would you feel about moving to India? It was many hours later that I actually responded, by text, to say that anything was possible.

Compared with reducing my belongings to fit into a trunk and packing my family off to another continent, downsizing to relocate in Sussex seemed like an easy option.

While my husband has been organising his exit strategy from his current employment, visiting India and preparing to start work in his new job (did I mention that he is a busy man!), I have been on a mission to sort out and streamline our life. We have accumulated a lot of 'stuff' over the years and comfortably spread out to fill our five bedroomed home. Taking stock of our possessions, breaking emotional ties and working out what we really need against what only serves to weigh us down is challenging. My mind is in a whirl with it all and I am very glad to have my computer back so that I can document the journey we are on. One step at a time. One post at a time. Here we go.

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