Decorations and Celebrations

A busy weekend this week. Lady M was at the first of what seems to be a string of office parties last night, and made her own skirt and top to wear to the occasion. As she was still working on final details late Thursday night, I was driven to observe that only she could have a con-crunch for a party.

Nevertheless she had a stunning outfit ready for the event, and I spent a quiet evening wrapping a mountain of Christmas presents, drinking wine, decorating the Christnas tree, and binging episodes of Luther on Netflix.

Today I’m off to see Lady S for a couple of days, so I had time for breakfast and pain au chocolate with Lady M before leaving her to tackle her own small hillock of presents and recover from the party.

I normally travel light, but I’m delivering birthday presents for the cub and a couple of early Christmas presents, so I have a suitcase nearly as big as I am. We may have gone a little overboard this year…

Trying Something New

The last few weeks have been a fairly non-stop rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally. Even just factoring my life into things, its been hectic. My grandfather’s death was sudden but peaceful – he’d just reached the end of his journey – but the four days of his decline were made worse by the sheer distance between where we lived, and I wasn’t able to say a final goodbye. At the same time, the library restructure has been rumbling along during one of our busiest times of year. I’d contend that either of these stresses would be manageable although difficult on their own. Together, well then things start to creak.

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While the funeral arrangements were being made, we were on holiday. Although Disneyland Paris was an amazing place and we had a great time, the relative stress of engaging multiple languages and generally being around many, many people with different ideas of what constitutes personal space was very draining. At least the train journeys were relatively calm and easy, except where TFL were involved.

And then we have last week. We drove up to Blackpool for the funeral to keep some flexibility of movement, and straight into the water contamination problems they’re still experiencing in the area. The funeral and aftermath were as emotionally charged as you might expect – though fortunately my family are genial drunks when they get together, so other than rambling stories and the occasional bout of falling over things were pleasant enough. You know: for a funeral.

We drove back gently enough, stopping in on the way to visit our favourite Pixie at PhoenixxRising. That was a lovely moment of calm, despite the Blackburn roadworks, and much needed. Once we were home, there was a quick turnaround, a brief morning of getting the Charleesi’s exam results (even though we knew she’d do well, there was still the stress of waiting for them), and we were back on the road.

Now, while there weren’t any water restrictions in Hartlepool, we did find pretty much every roadwork between there and London. Exhaustion was already beckoning. I was the sole usher at the church (the other usher having been promoted to Best Man at the last moment, for reasons that were never explained and from the unspoken grumblings I’m probably better off not knowing). Lady M was chief bridesmaid, and walked her sister down the aisle so that her father (who has mobility issues following a major road traffic incident a few years back) could be involved at the front without risking a fall.

Lady M’s sister has Type 2 Neurofibromitosis, and has also recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The two conditions are interacting with each other aggressively, so she has recently had to start using a walking stick as well. The church made plenty of adaptations (chairs, getting the bride and groom to sit as much as possible during the service) so this wasn’t a huge problem in terms of the flow of the day, but it was still hard for Lady M to see her sister, and by extension it was upsetting for me too. We made the absolute best of it, and steered my parents through some cultural aspects as we went “No mother, don’t start calling everyone ‘pet'”.

We found all the roadworks and the rain on the way back South the next morning. We got home and things started to fall apart. We both suffer, to greater or lesser degrees, from mood swings as part of our respective condition, as does Lady P – and normally one or more of us is in a reasonably good place when someone else is down, and so is able to support, cajole or otherwise kick the appropriate person up the rear end when they’re on a low mood swing. This week, between travel, exhaustion, grief, work and everything else, we all hit a low point at the same time.

So, we’re all retreating a bit, and trying to look out for each other while also fighting our demons and getting our heads straight, oh and getting back to work too. I’ve likened the experience to running along a building, turning a corner and going smack bang into scaffolding. It has hurt, but we’re picking our way through to get back on our feet.

And now it’s payday, I can afford a couple of treats, and I’ve just replaced Lady M’s Hudl with a Hudl2. My gift to myself has been a Bluetooth keyboard and case for my own tablet – and I’ve just written this blog on it. It seems to be working perfectly, which is nice. A new month beckons, with new prospects, options, and hope. What’s the worst that could happen?

A Gentle Christmas

We’ve had a quiet Christmas, marred only by the faint sound of slightly hysterical giggling at the truly epic over-catering I’ve done this year.

Our venison haunch roast nearly went wrong on the timings, and perhaps I should have had a quick look up of a recipe on making a red wine reduction before booking a bottle of claret and a pint of chocolate stout half to death… but we rescued the meal with only a minimum of swearing and self recrimination between us.

We had Christmas Day to ourselves this year: the first one post-wedding. It’s still odd to think that this time last year we were focussed entirely on the beginning of March. This year we’re starting to plan for our long-delayed honeymoon. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have asked about it.

We’re still, truth be told, getting used to not having to scrimp and save all the time. After a tight few years, it’s only really starting now to sink in that for the moment we’re reasonably comfortable with t’other half’s job. Now all I have to do is finish this novel and keep submitting the short stories.

But first: we need to finish the whirlwind your of the UK that we’re currently doing. Assuming of course the country doesn’t get washed away in all this rain.