Wednesday 14 November 2018

Life's Curve Ball

Just as I was starting to get used the the constant merry go round from working in the cafe to teaching embroidery and everything else in between.... just as I opened my mouth and said that at last life was starting to feel okay for the first time this year... a curve ball came and threw everything off course. Once again my youngest son hit a crisis and I had to drop everything. It is his story and not mine to tell but it obviously it impacts on our life too. He has faced much anxiety inducing change over the past few months and finally something tipped him over the edge. I'd like to tell you the NHS were amazing but without us to provide him with a safe environment I'm not sure what he would have done. When a crisis team finally got to see us their "help" amounted to little more than a series of platitudes. Telling someone who barely has the energy to get out of bed and feels that life is hopeless that they should try exercising more or should perhaps practise mindfulness is not in the least helpful. When he is in a better place he is well aware that these things help to keep him well but not when he is in a place of despair. For three days, I held his hand, ministered cups of tea and listened when he had the energy to talk. I didn't leave the house except to walk the dog and I did what I always do when  life is stressful... I baked!

There were apple and oatmeal cookies...

Chewy brownies with nuggets of caramel...

Orange scented almond ricciarelli biscuits...

And even some membrillo jelly sweets because I was given another bag of quince to use up.
Being confined to the house and missing a couple of days of work also meant that I managed to get my paints out one afternoon and I finished this painting of tango dancers... which was just as well as it had been accepted for an exhibition that opens this week!

Then by the end of last week things improved enough that I took J back to his house in Cambridge (the boat is a thing of history!) and although I wasn't sure I would make it I managed to get away for a much anticipated girls weekend away. Ten of us stayed in a fabulous barn conversion in the middle of a nature reserve in Oxfordshire for three days of eating, drinking, walking and friendship. On Saturday we ventured out in the sunshine for a walk though the nature reserve. It wasn't long before we were faced with a small stream and no bridge.... the only thing for it was to take off our boots and socks and paddle! It might have been okay if I hadn't dropped one of my boots in the water!

With boots back on we carried on walking as the black clouds closed in and we tried to decide whether we could make it to a pub before the rain started. Instead we opted to go straight back to the barn...

But not before walking headlong into driving hailstones. We laughed but oh boy were we wet! And the barn was a lot further away than we thought. Back in the dry we shed our wet things and stayed in for the rest of the day to drink tea and eat cake (I knew there was a reason I'd done all that baking!)

Sunday morning was glorious and so we set out again, albeit with slightly damp boots for a lovely walk along the river Thames

At one point our navigator led us astray to a ford across the river... She was much amused as we all protested and refused to take our shoes and socks off  a second time to cross to the other side. Only then did she confess she had taken us on a detour!

We carried on walking and found a bridge instead!

At 11 am we stopped beneath these trees near an old pill box to observe two minutes silence. As we all stood together the only sound was that of the wind as it picked up and rustled the last remaining leaves causing them to flutter down amongst us, a fitting metaphor as we remembered the many fallen. And as the last post sounded, a single bird sang. I'm not a particularly spiritual person but it was an amazing shared experience that moved us all.

For me, it was also a moment to realise that all I can do is be there for J when he needs me, I can't make him better. But equally it is important to live my own life to the full too. And being away with these nine fabulous women certainly was a life affirming experience. We ate some amazing food that everyone contributed, drank prosecco, wine and gin (although not all at the same time) as well as copious amounts of tea, read books, did some knitting, finished a jigsaw and even played pass the parcel with some hysterical forfeits... have you ever tried turning around ten times and then drinking a glass of water? And on the final night we discovered that one of our party, Fiona, is a talented poet when she read us some of her very witty creations. We thought she should write a poem about our weekend away which led to everyone trying to contribute an offering... this is my rather amateur attempt:

"Ten fabulous friends converged in the shires
For a long weekend around cosy log fires.
With lasagne, chilli and tiramisu
There was plenty of food and lots to drink too!
Gin, Prosecco and the odd glass of wine
plus tea and cake ensured a good time.
On Saturday morning they ventured outside
To set off for a walk and spy birds from a hide.

They dipped their feet in a stream that made them all scream
As they paddled and slipped across.
The water was cold and tingled their toes
And the stones were all covered in moss!

Before very long, black clouds blew in and everyone got a good soaking.
But back in the barn they soon dried off and glasses were raised with more gin in!
They ate more food and games were played
Photos were swapped and stories relayed

On Armistice day they walked once again
In cold winter sunshine by the banks of the Thames
They stood together in silence beneath some bare trees,
As leaves fluttered down in the whispering breeze.
Remembering the fallen, there was a tear or two
A spiritual moment and beautiful too.

It was all agreed they had a great time, despite the brief spot of rain
in unison they all declared... When can we do it again?"

Back home, J is in a slightly better place than he was two weeks ago, I'm feeling refreshed from my change of scene and I'm hopeful that life will get back on an even keel once again. Who knows, I might even manage to blog more than once every two weeks! I hope all is well with you x


  1. I'm really sorry to hear that your son has been unwell again, I can only guess at the amount of pressure this must put on you all, especially him, poor lad. I hope that he continues to improve and that you all get the support you need and deserve.
    So glad you got way for much needed restorative break.

  2. So pleased your news is good again and that your son feels able to return to his house. It must be a huge relief to you and him after such a worrying time.
    Also glad that you were able to recharge your own batteries with your lovely friends in such beautiful surroundings. The bakes look delicious and I can imagine that they disappeared quite quickly!
    I love your painting of the tango dancers - very Strictly!

  3. I love your painting.What a talented lady you are.So Sorry to hear about your son but pleased he is feeling brighter again.All you can do is be there for him but also look after yourself as well.Fingers crossed things run smoothly for a while.

  4. Glad you had a fun weekend away. Sounds like the perfect tonic. Hope things improve soon for your son. B x

  5. I'm sorry to read that J has been ill but it sounds as though you did the right thing for him and supported him through the worst of it. Your lovely weekend with friends sounds perfect and what a special way to acknowledge the remembrance together. Take care of yourself, Gina x

  6. You’re like a swan Gina. Elegant and serene above water, paddling furiously beneath. And I mean that as a compliment. May your feet get to calmly glide soon, and your son recover. When family are in trouble nothing else matters. Your family are lucky they have you. X

  7. Big hugs Gina. As hard as we try to help our kids, sometimes it isn't the doing for them, but the being for them that is what is needed. and yet, we have to 'be' for ourselves in order to have it in us to 'be' for them.
    You are a wonderful loving mum.

  8. It sounds like a wonderful weekend and just what you needed it seems. Hoping your son continues on the road to recovery x

  9. Always our child Gina no matter their age. Glad you managed your much neede break. All your bakes look lovely.

  10. Oh Gina, all I can do is send love. Let's do tea and cake in the new year. T x

  11. I'm so sorry your son is unwell, I hope things improve for him very soon. Glad you managed to have a break, you certainly deserve it. Sending a cyber hug, CJ xx

  12. What an amazing time away! You are lucky to have that escape, very timely. Agreed about the NHS and the Mental Health. I'm grateful I could be there for my son too.

  13. So pleased to read you managed to join your friends for the weekend. It sounds like it came at just the right time for you. Very sorry your son has been having a tough time, it can't be easy for any of you. Take care.

  14. I am so sorry to learn that J has had another bad episode. As you say, you can only be available for him since there is no quick fix. Poor chap, I do feel for him.

    Good that you managed to get away and have a good time with friends, it sounded wonderful.

    Have a good weekend. xx

  15. I am so sorry your youngest is so unwell. The crisis teams sounds completely useless. I do hope he can proper help and soon. Platitudes just won't do. Keeping my fingers crossed. I am happy to read about your weekend away. Women friends are just great. xx

  16. Such a lovely post Gina. I'm sorry that things have been hard with youngest lad... so very difficult. Glad you managed to get away and it sounded so restorative. Nothing like a bunch of likeminded girlfriends to laugh, drink, eat and make memories with . Have a good week oh lovely one x

  17. It sounds like just the fun weekend you needed - and deserved! Glad to hear J is feeling a little steadier. Please say hello from me - I often think of him, and you x


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