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Ahhh it is good to be home. I'm in danger of completing my transformation into little Rhian, I've discovered. I was sat in the garden, 'helping' my mum plant flowers by sitting next to her chatting, while drinking tea. Then a couple of cats from next door came to visit! Instead of bidding them a cordial good afternoon as I'd have done before, I stroked them for ages and one of them (a female cat, quite possibly by the name of Julian – no, really, one of the cats next door has indeed been named after my dad) bumped her little head against my knee lots and lots.
Capture

SUCH A LITTLE PUDDING

I don't think I could ever own cats because I grew up vegetarian, and the idea of buying meat or fish, even if not for me, feels wrong, but maybe I could visit them and they would be affectionate and awwwwww such cute.
Apart from going AWWWWW I've been mostly hiding from my family, exploring town (which seems to have changed LOADS in 4 months) and feeling short, since all five of my younger siblings are taller than me, which seems unfair. PIZZA IS SOON.

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It's two years since my grandfather passed away very suddenly, and in some ways I'm still trying to get my head around it. 'It', I suppose, being somebody you've known since you were born instantly not being there anymore. It doesn't make sense to me, and yet it used to make sense to me before I ever lost anybody close to me. I still find myself seeing people with the vaguest resemblance to him, and just for a moment, being annoyed with him for not bothering to get in touch for the last couple of years. Then once I realise it's not him, my annoyance shifts to the imposter, just because it's not him. Them my annoyance finally moves to myself, for being so irrational.

I've always seen comedy and tragedy as intertwined, and was recently watching an interview of Brian Blessed by Piers Morgan. My love of the former just about cancelled out my hatred for the latter. Watching clips of Brian Blessed on Have I Got News For You is one of my main ways to cheer myself up if I've had a bad day, but I have to confess I'd never really seen him as much more than a comedy character. I didn't expect what he said to be profound or moving, but it was. He had lost two family members (I think it was his mother and brother) in very quick succession, and was asked if he missed them. He answered that of course he did, but that they weren't dead to him. He went on to say that he believed that it's life that has the last word, and death does not. At the risk of admitting that I'm basing a fair amount of my life philosophy on Brian Blessed (although what if I am, he's awesome), I think that's a much better way of looking at it than 'I can't believe he's gone'.

I found something similar when watching the Royle Family, another thing I occasionally watch when I'm feeling down. There's a character called Joe, a neighbour of the Royles, whose wife, Mary, dies in one of the later episodes. It's then a running joke that he'll refer to 'My wife, Mary – she's dead at the moment'. I think this is meant to be funny rather than hugely profound, although the two don't cancel each other out, but it fits in with what I'm coming to think. The fact that somebody's dead should be an afterthought – just a detail, although it never feels like one. In Joe's case, the thing that comes first is his wife, Mary. The thing that matters is that they were there, and the grammatical tense isn't so important, even if that tense change causes a lot of grief. I still have clear memories of my grandpa: how he'd invariably get food caught in his beard whenever he ate, how he suggested to the 12 year-old me that I become a hooker (I'd recently taken up rugby, and he meant THAT kind of hooker), how he blushed and giggled when refusing to tell us stories of what on earth he'd got up to in the army, and seeing his utter joy when my nan announced that my sister Niamh had been born. Even if I didn't remember, it wouldn't matter. He was here. Life has the last word.

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I have been doing, and am still doing, an awful thing. I'm reading a certain 'novel' with the words 50 and grey in the title. It's brilliantly terrible. There's this line where she says something like 'I must have been as red as the Communist Manifesto'. And I'm only on page 107, but the phrase 'I was hungry, but not for food' has been used twice.
If I could be bothered to justify my crimes, I'd say that it is important to occasionally read bad literature to appreciate good literature, and also I obtained this kostenlos, I cannot justify this, though. I moan about not having enough time to read, and then I choose to read this. I made the slight mistake of reading it at my desk on my lunchbreak:
smutlolz
My trolleagues wisely mocked me, as is their custom. Also they mentioned that perhaps I needed a ladder when I was trying to reach some very high shelves today. I am much-trolled. LUCKILY they more than make up for their constant trollery. One of them knitted me a MINIATURE BABY who I have named Zinoviev, and one of them found for me this dress that I have ordered:
$T2eC16h,!)wFIZS,G90eBSMcV!Rqsg~~60_12
Our Christmas party this year is to be held IN A CASTLE and for some reason, I've got it into my head that I want a TARTAN DRESS and that I need to plan this NOW. I really wanted to wear the tartan pertaining to my mum's maiden name, but I opened a whole can of worms. For one thing, ordering things in a specific tartan costs loads and loads of money because they want to rip off rich American trying to reconnect with their heritage cater to a wide range of people, and for another thing, it's against 'tartan etiquette' to wear the tartan of a family whose surname you do not bear, even if it's your mother's family. SAD because my dad's (and my) surname lacks sufficient Celticism to have a tartan. Anyway, I thought I wasn't going to spend thousands on getting a custom-made tartan only to break the Strict Tartan Code, and may as well break said code with a cheaper dress.
In other news, I HAVE APPLIED FOR AN ALLOTMENT. I'm on the waiting list, although I've got no idea how long it is. There are 8000 people in Alnwick and about 150 allotments available, so maybe it won't be a massive list. Also I said I'd accept a half or overgrown allotment, anywhere in the town. I didn't write 'I WOULD EAT MY OWN FACE TO GET AN ALLOTMENT', because while true, it'd be weird. I had a dream about my future allotment last night. I quite want an allotment.
I have still not done anything about a prospective weekend in Denmark because I have not heard anything about booking time off over Christmas. I might just book it. I'm supposed to be trolling off home for a weekend at some point too, but which weekend is very much the question. My parents are trolling me by going to a range of places including Rome, Belfast and INDIA, possibly, and it would be a shame to go home and not see them because they were frolicking abroad.
In brain news, I had my CBT appointment yesterday and will be having my final one next week. I think they've been helpful. I felt a bit like they were going solely on the little quiz they do at the start of every consultation ("For how many of the days have you been stricken by woe?" "Have you been having more, or less, of an existential crisis than yesterday?" "To what extent are you irrationally afraid of telephones?" "To what extent does awareness of your own mortality prevent you from carrying out tasks such as brushing your teeth?", and so on. Embellished for comic effect). Mine have been getting steadily better, which is good, but it is not the whole story. Especially when I sometimes vary the answers randomly because I feel stupid saying 'some of the days' 14 times in a row. Anyway, overall it's been good and I'm still doing the 'worry list/postponement' technique, which appears to be working well enough (along with sanity snacks). HURRAH, INSANITY. I SHALL DEFEAT YOU YET.

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I've spent the latter part of the weekend with my immediate family, minus brothers, so 'just' my parents and three sisters. It has been fun and tiring. Yesterday we went for a meal here in Alnwick (OMNOMNOM PIZZA, good job I'm not on a diet-oh wait). I then decided to go with them to where they were staying in Thropton and stay overnight.

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It was pretty!
Today we did lots of the touristy things in Alnwick. This is good from my perspective because it's easy to forget how nice Alnwick is if you spend weeks there without ever leaving. We went to Barter Books, where I got a book so beautifully insane that it's getting a separate blog post. We then had a kind of floor picnic in my small house, and then went to the castle where I got to dress up as a medieval person, which is one of my favourite things to do. I also now have a pass to the castle that's valid for free entry for 12 months, which wins. Me and my mum went for afternoon tea (she'd been given a voucher of some kind) and it was a little disappointing in terms of quantity, and indeed quality, but still. It was a nice day, even if I've been so used to living alone that I freak out a bit when I have so many guests and not enough chairs. My house isn't even big enough to hide from my family in. Nevertheless, my parents proved they were good humans by bringing me wine, assorted memorabilia from the RNLI shop (YAAAAY) and loads of food, meaning my fridge is way fuller than before.
They're around all week, although obvs I am working so can only see them in the evening. We're off bouldering on Tuesday and possibly to Bamburgh on Thursday. WIN.

HURRAH, the weekend is happening. I've had a week of going slightly mental in an office environment. Not in a bad way, just in a 'cooped-up, I can't remember when I last saw sunlight/a computer program that was not Trados' kind of way.
MY FAMILY ARE ARRIVING TOMORROW. That's just the thing I need to restore me to sanity. Lol jk, it'll probably make things worse. We're meeting up for a pizza tomorrow before possibly trolling off to their holiday house in Thropton. I've been having nightmares about them visiting my house and saying mean things about it, although this probably won't happen. Although when they came to my house in Buckinghamshire, my youngest sister Cerys decided to randomly open all the cupboards and comment on how messy the contents were. Then when I left my mum alone in the house for a matter of hours, I returned to find that she'd ironed all of my clothes and left me a note apologising for having ironed all of my clothes. It'll be fine this time though. I'm not stressed and will hardly spend any hours tomorrow cleaning my house. I went a bit mad and bought some wine to make it seem like I'm a proper person, but then realised that my mum and one sister do not drink, and my two remaining sisters are CHILDREN. I'll have to be in a position to offer visitors a range of drinks because this is polite, but the only thing I have besides wine is coffee, and none of my relatives but my father have the wisdom to be coffee addicts drinkers.
IT WILL ALL BE FINE. It'll be nice to meet up with them over the next week too. We might be trolling off to Bamburgh at some point. Bamburgh contains both my favourite beach in the world, and also memories of one of my favourite family holidays of several years ago. It'll be fun. Even if all my family are currently trolling me, as I've got a brother in Norway and another brother in Prague at the moment, so I'm the only one not frolicking round the country. I suppose, to be fair, I frolicked in Sweden a couple of months back and have thereby had the maximum allotted fun. BRAINS

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