Saturday, 17 December 2011

I Just LOVE India

I'm awake early and everyone else is fast asleep...a good chance to catch up with the blog...

'I just LOVE India,' said the 7 year old yesterday, as she got dressed to go out for another plate of shark tikka. Her new ankle chain jangled like sleigh bells, and I smiled as she admired the henna tattoo on her hand for the 40 millionth time. 9 little bangles on her wrist, a bindi dot on her forehead, a lovely necklace and that beautiful dress from Panaji market...'an Indian Princess,' the man at the restaurant had said, kissing her hand.

Its wonderful how both the kids have 'settled in' to the heat, the hustle, the noise, and the smells (not all nice!)
The Ashram. Spot the little white boy!

One of the little lads from the Ashram. He was trying to make one of those spinning toys
We have an Ashram over the wall of our apartment where a load of boys live with one lovely, cheerful lady. We think its some kind of orphanage. Every morning - early - we hear them all getting ready to go off to school. Chattering, laughing, teasing. They're all back in the early afternoon to do jobs and to get showered under one outside tap. They shout for the 10 year old each day at 4pm - 'Tom! Tom! You come now!' He climbs over the wall, ducks under the washing line that groans under the weight of their drying clothes, and they all play - football and cricket. One of the older boys took Tom inside yesterday and showed him round. They have a telly, and they sleep in a dormitory. The lad showed Tom his artwork, and he was very impressed. There never seems to be any trouble there. They live a simple existance, have very little possessions, and yet have the biggest, beaming smiles.

It is Saturday today. When everyone is up and ready, we're planning to catch the bus to the ferry and sail across to Panaji again. Our mission? Haircuts for the scarecrow boys. Last year, they both had a haircut there in an amazing little sidestreet 'hair saloon.' We ALL ended up having Indian head massages. Eddie and I also had our faces covered in a green cream which left our skin feeling lovely and soft. It was a brilliant experience, so we're off to see if we can find the same place again...

I just LOVE India! :-)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Indiahhhhhh (not Windermere!!)

Panaji market. A people watching paradise, and a glorious feast of colour.
When John the posty handed me the visas it was like the weight of the entire Indian High Commission building lifting off my shoulders. We were going. The holiday was on.

And we are here. Visas in our hands, no puking on the plane, no snow...

We're back in the same place as last year. It is hot, the skies are blue and there is the unmistakable smell of India in the air. Spices, incense, woodsmoke.

Since we got here, Eddie has slept a million hours. Whilst the mesh doors keep the mozzies out, all his stresses and worries are escaping as he sleeps. This is what a holiday does to him - especially a holiday in India. He is becoming soooo much more relaxed.

So we aint done an awful lot up to now. Whilst Eddie has given it big Zeds, me and the kids have had a whole swimming pool to ourselves. T has made friends with a gang of lads from an Ashram (which we think is an orphanage) over the wall of the apartment, and has been playing footy and cricket in the shade of the tall green trees.

In the late afternoons, as the heat from the sun subsides, we either make our way down to the beach or the football field and join in the many games of football and cricket with all the local lads we met out here last year. T has been so pleased to find them all again. And L has enjoyed showing off her new Corbridge United footy skills.

We have eaten well. Toast, bananas, and spicy snacks through the day, and big Indian feasts at night in the many lovely restaurants.

Today, we ventured out to Panaji market, drank in the wonderful colours and watched the hustle and bustle in this amazing little place. T even tried his hand at a bit of bargaining with a banana lady. She thought he was lush (but didn't let him get away with a bargain!)

He tried again later with a tuk tuk man....'how much to Candolim?' he asked, '250 rupees' came the reply.
'Yeh that's fine,' he said without hesitation. Eddie cringed. 'Why didn't you say 200?' 'Because 250 is a fair price,' said the 10 year old confidently. (He'd also chosen the old geezer which meant that he must have been a good driver as he was still alive - so I was happy!)

More adventures beckon - Anjuna, Mapusa, elephants, crocodiles...but for now I'm signing out. Hot and sweaty, but completely chilled...:-)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Liza Goes to Windermere

I've discovered that the best thing to do for me in a waiting room is to write. It takes my mind off things, it keeps me busy and I love writing so much that even after a long wait I tut when they finally call my name - especially if I was in the middle of a sentence.
It was my 6 monthly check at the oncology department today. I went, armed with writing materials...

It's deathly quiet.

The posters on the walls are the same as they were 2 years ago - 'catch it, bin it, kill it.'

The leaflets are the same - 'are you worried about cancer...' 'Cancer, the facts...'

The faces are different, but the expressions are the same. Tired, pale, worried.

The doctors come out and shout (and I mean SHOUT the names of their patients.) Last time I was here, the nice Indian doctor whispered my name. It took 3 goes before I heard him. Maybe its my fault that they all now SHOUT.

I've just noticed some colour. Some artwork on the wall - greens, yellows, blues. A bit of sunshine to brighten the gloom.

I can't believe it's two years. Sometimes we say 'God - it only feels like 5 minutes ago since...' But with this, it feels like a lifetime ago. Like it never even happened.

There's conversation now. A few more people have arrived, and there's some chat - but mostly there's silence - exchanged glances, sympathetic smiles, sighs.

One of the male nurses comes out. He looks as scary as hell. He's a tall, thin baldy fella with a permanent frown that frightens you to death. He's always here. I've just seen him laugh for the first time. He's sitting with a patient and cheering her up. Looks can be deceiving. He looks so nice when he laughs.

I wonder if I'll see the 'main man' today, or one of his little helpers. The Indian guy was lovely. He smelt of spices and I had wanted to ask him all about India. If I see him again this time, then maybe I will.

There's an old dad just come out with his wife and daughter. The wife is biting the inside of her cheek, trying to look brave. The daughter has been crying.

Come on, call my name now.

The room is filling up now. Mostly oldies. A sea of white heads with a couple of baldy ones covered with brightly coloured hats. I seem to be the only young'un.

2 wifies have struck up a conversation. They're sitting miles apart and talking so loudly that everyone else is looking up and listening. They're comparing notes on treatment, hair loss, hair dyes, lymph nodes, lumps...

30 minutes late now. Come on, shout my name.

A doctor yells, 'Margaret somethingorother.' She leaps off her seat - more from the fright of hearing her name said so loudly. Everyone has been called Margaret today. Seriously - she was the 4th Margaret. Amazing.

A male nurse comes out and shouts 'Liza Scott,' as in Liza Doolittle, as in 'Liza that rhymes with Tizer.' I actually laugh out loud because it sounds so funny. He looks at me strangely, saying 'this way Liza.' I chuckle again, and don't correct him. I like being Liza here. It makes it even more unreal - like I'm just acting in a play.

I get to see the main man. The man with the big bushy beard and the white hair. I think briefly that he should have a sign on the door saying 'Mr B's grotto.'

I'm in for 5 minutes. He does his inspection, has a little chat and I tell him I'm going to India on Friday.

'Ooh,' he replies, 'I think there's snow forecast there next week.'

'Eh?' I say, 'Snow in Goa?'

He laughs. 'Ohhhhh, India!' he exclaims, 'I thought you said Windermere!'

We both laugh. He tells me I'm fine, have a great time, and he'll see me in another 6 months.

I book my appointment for June, thank the receptionist very much, buy a little Charlie Cancer Bear in the shop, then get the hell out of there.

Happy Christmas everyone :-)

Liza and her family - soon to be enjoying the 30 degree sunshine of Windiamere

Friday, 25 November 2011

Live from the Freeman

A little while back I wrote about the awful experience I had at my local cancer hospital. It's a brand new place - clean, bright, airy - but I hated the fact that I was surrounded by posters and leaflets about cancer. My point being, I KNEW why I was there, and I didn't want to be constantly reminded about why I was there. I didn't want to know that while I was being treated for breast cancer there were loads of other cancers I could have too...

I had a little cry that day in the waiting room.

Anyway, today - here I am, writing this LIVE from the same hospital. I'm here with my mum while she has some routine scan done for her back fractures. We've been here since 11.15 and we're due to leave at 2.30pm

Got to admit, we weren't looking forward to spending half the day in the hospital,! What a pleasant time we've had! The coffee was excellent in the cafe, and we had a delicious (and cheap!) lunch in the hospital's restaurant - fish and chips for mum, curry for me (in the hope that it will make the india visas come quicker). We even spent money in the cancer shop - (I bought a woolly hat) and now, here I am with Internet access too - I'm able to write and publish a blog whilst she gets her scan done!

AND thanks to the efficiency of the staff etc, I will be home in time to collect the littl'un off the school bus!

Marvellous. And so much different from that awful day when all I could see was the word 'cancer' staring at me from every wall and every leaflet rack.

And yet, it's all exactly the same here as it was that horrid something else must have changed...I think it must be me. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:The Freeman hospital, Newcastle.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Capturing the Moment

We've invested in a spanking new camera and lens because I am obsessed with capturing moments in time.

Every weekend has the same activities in it - gymnastics, football, rugby, bacon and egg sarnies at the tea room...

...but despite the fact that the activities are the same, each weekend has slightly different moments of time in it which I try and capture with the lens, and yet enjoy in 'real life' too.

Here are some of my moments from this weekend...

I was crouching down at the corner flag hoping to get a good photo, when this lad on the 10 year old's team broke free and started charging towards me! He scored a great try. Its ALMOST a great shot, but not quite as I didn't manage to get the try-scorer in focus...but still pretty chuffed with it!
The 10 year old has the ball...
And still has the ball!...just!
Looking mean!
Meanwhile, here's the littlun in action from this weekend.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Weekend in Pictures

I saw something on the telly that said that everyone in the world had to make a video of their day on 12th November, upload it to youtube, and then someone was going to compile it into a film - a sort of day in the life of the world...

Well, I didn't do that.

Instead I've been snapping away with my new camera as I ALWAYS do. Trying to capture moments in time. Moments in time of my family's life - not particularly 'special' occasions, just 'moments,' that are uniquely special to me, and to my family.

Here's a couple of shots to share with you from my weekend...

The 7 year old went to a remembrance service at the local church with her school. The parents were invited along,  and during the 2 minutes silence outside, the village, for once, fell completely silent. Even the traffic stopped.
Friday night is gymnastics night, and the 7 year old is training hard for her trip to France in  January.
Team talk. Saturday morning.
The Big Game
A stint in goal
Hot. Sweaty. Tired. Happy.
Post match analysis in the tea room. Bacon sarnie, glass of milk - perfect.
Sunday morning is rugby. Need some persil!
And yet MORE gymnastics!
FINALLY a chance to do some homework
And some final touches to the visas for India

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Night Mount Tarawera Erupted

The noise was unbelievable.

A room full of every nationality on the planet - all lined up in sleeping bags on the floor of a little hut in New Zealand...and I had managed to lie next to the snorer.

Me and my pal, Peta were on our travels. It was 1991. New Zealand was our first stop and we were doing one of the country's most beautiful 3 day walks - along with a load of other young travellers.

Pete and me - hitch-hiking around New Zealand.

We were tired. Our feet were nacking, our legs were aching, we were fairly hungry and cold, but most of all we wanted to sleep.

But we couldn't. The big German guy next to me was on his back creating a noise that was so loud I thought it was Mount Tarawera erupting.

'I can't sleep, Pete,' I whispered. 'Can you hear that guy next to me?'

'Of course I can bloody hear him. I wish he'd shut up. Give him a nudge.'

I was horrified at the thought of giving a complete stranger a shove in the middle of the night whilst he slept. I lay and watched him for a while instead. It was pitch black, but some of the other young explorers were using torches and candles to read, so I could just make out the profile of my snoring tormentor.

He was big. He was hairy. And I guessed that he'd be smelly too. His mouth was wide open and his head was back. With each intake of breath, he emitted a noise like a pneumatic drill, before breathing out like a drone of bagpipes.

I willed him to stop. I wanted the snoring to end. As I lay there in the darkness I even thought that if it meant that he suddenly stopped breathing altogether, at least the snoring would stop. I would be happier lying next to a dead man than a snoring man. These were the weird thoughts that went through my head as my tired eyes watched him snuffle, snort and roar.

Minutes later, urged by Pete, I plucked up the courage and leaned across to push him gently on the shoulder. I quickly wrapped myself back up in my sleeping bag so that he didn't think it had been me.

There was absolutely no reaction from the loud, grizzly German bear-man.

'Do it again - harder!' said Pete, trying not to laugh.

I shoved him a little harder this time, and for a nano-second he stopped snoring....but then started up again, like a lawnmower.

'Again!' Pete hissed from the comfort and safety of her sleeping bag.

Another shove, harder this time. No effect.

'Pleeease make him stop!' wailed Pete.

It was then that I'm not exactly sure what came over me - sleep deprivation, yes - helping a friend in need, yes - survival instincts, most certainly...

...Under my head was a pillow case stuffed with my clothes. T-shirts, jumpers, jeans, socks...a 'do it yerself' pillow. I sat up, and held one end of the stuffed pillow case in my right hand. Then, just as the snoring man breathed in on one of his pneumatic volcanic eruptions, I whacked him. Hard. On his face with the home-made pillow, now an effective anti-snoring weapon.

Without delay, I quickly buried myself in my sleeping bag. I was innocent. It wasn't me. I pretended to be asleep, watching the big German guy in the darkness - sitting up, rubbing his head, looking around.

The snoring had stopped. Hallelulia!

I closed my eyes and smiled...savoring the silence that I had created. Then...


My moment of peace was over. The big, hairy, noisy, (and probably smelly) German guy had taken revenge. He had whacked me in return - hard on my head with his own home-made pillow case weapon. He muttered something German-ish, that sounded like 'do that again and I'll kill you,' before settling himself down again, on his back...

As I lay there, rubbing my head, slightly bemused, all I could hear now from Pete's sleeping bag next to me was the sound of laughing.

In our nice cagouls
My journal - describing 'that' night in the little New Zealand hut in 1991 :-)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Half Term Highlights

We've survived another October half term. Lots of sport, lots of lie-ins, and cheap trips out...all captured by my new camera - an early Christmas present and late birthday present from my lovely hubby. Here's some of the highlights...
A one day rugby course with the Falcons. Can't believe how grown  up my little lad looks!
Enjoying the Autumn colours at Belsay
Looking through a window at Belsay Castle

Getting beat at footy...
...But we did score 2! (Note the hairstyle of the oppositions's defender!)
And Spook Night in Hexham...and yes, that IS a stuffed hush puppy dog in the man's arms behind the kids!
All in all, another busy, but nice week had by all :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Seize the Day

'Seize every day as an adventure and your spirit will soar when you discover the wonderful surprises life has to offer.'

Its tricky these days to 'seize' each day by the scruff of the neck and make it into one big adventure. Sometimes, there's just too much washing to to do, cooking, tidying...

Yesterday, however, without making any effort whatsoever, my spirit soared sooooo high, and it was all thanks to my 7 year old.

'Do you want to do a rugby coaching day tomorrow with your brother?' I asked her on Monday. She's never played rugby in her life and she's never even watched a game on the telly.

She considered the question for half a second, and without even asking 'Will any of my friends be there?' or 'Will I be the only girl?'  she said - 'Yeh, ok.'

When we arrived at the rugby place the next day, there were 93 boys and my 7 year old girl. The only person she knew was her brother, but he had abandoned her as soon as we'd got there. Great big lads lumbered around like bears, alongside squeaky, excitable, skinny-legged, 6 year old man-cubs.

I hung around and watched as the smaller boys chased each other around the tables and chairs. I asked the 7 year old if she was okay. I expected her to reply with, 'Did I say yes to this? Sorry, I meant no.' But she didn't. She nodded, smiled and took in the scene thoughtfully. She quietly took her footy boots out of her bag. I tied the laces for her, and the coaches gathered everyone together for a briefing about the day. Relieved, I noticed another little girl in the group. They gave each other a little smile. My 7 year old looked so tiny against all the others, but she happily followed them outside with her new friend to the training pitch giving me a little wave before disappearing out of the door.

I fretted and fidgeted at home for the rest of the morning, until finally heading off an hour early to catch the end of the coaching day. I hoped to God she would be alright.

When I pulled up alongside the pitch I caught sight of a little blond child, caked from head to toe in mud and clarts. She was shouting 'pass, pass!' A stocky little lad chucked her the ball, she caught it before running like the wind to score a try. She tackled, she kicked, she passed and she ran. She even got felled to the ground a few times...always getting back to her feet and always with the biggest smile in the world across her face....

'Seize every day as an adventure and your spirit will soar when you discover the wonderful surprises life has to offer.'

It can be so difficult to seize the day as a grown up. Adventures? What adventures? We are always holding and juggling so many things in our hands at the same time that we just can't manage 'adventures' as well. Surely not!

But after watching this little bundle of happiness in action today - seizing her day, surprising herself and simply loving life, I realised that nowadays I don't have to go too far to experience the wonderful surprises life has to offer. They are often right in front of my eyes....

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pockets Full of Sand

With the 10 year old away all day at a friends party, and the 7 year old rested from this week's football action, I decided to take advantage of the fine weather and take her up the coast to Bamburgh for the day.

I chucked the buckets and spades in the boot and threw in a couple of chocolate tea cakes. We had all we needed for a day on the beach.

When you arrive in Bamburgh, the castle is the first thing that you notice - you can't miss it! - It dominates the little village from the top of its perch on the Whin Sill outcrop. Tomlinson, in his 'Guide to Northumberland' describes it beautifully -

 "A more impregnable stronghold could not be imagined, for rugged strength and barbaric grandeur it is the king of Northumbrian castles."

We parked up, and set off on the short walk across the dunes to find the beach.

The 7 year old bounced off ahead and scrambled to the top of the last dune. 'It's here!' she grinned waving madly from the top.

I caught her up at last, and finally clapped eyes on her view. No matter how many times I have visited Bamburgh, this view always takes my breath away.  

As always, the beach was fairly deserted. The tide was right out so we could explore the rock pools, and rummage through the other treasures that the beach always provides.

Rockpools full of treasure!
The beach was all ours for the day
Thats me on the left, and the 7 year old on the right :-)

Thats the 7 year old on the left and me (needing a haircut) on the right
When we felt a bit peckish, we set off to find something to eat in the village. We stopped off at the loos in the carpark, and I had a little chuckle when the 7 year old didn't know which door to go in.
'Mum!' she exclaimed, 'Its either gents or laddies!'

The loo for laddies
A quick ice cream...

...and then a lovely stroll back along the beach...

...with a few cartwheels hoyed in...
...before collapsing back into the car for home.

 Our lungs were inflated with fresh air and we had a bucket brimming with shells. Later that evening, I also discovered that I'd brought half of the beach back home too - in my pockets and turnups - (thanks to all the 'dune races' we'd had!)

Happy days at Bamburgh Beach
A wonderful, wonderful, happy day.

Friday, 30 September 2011

All In a Day's Work

A telescope isn't something that we usually set up at our work meetings, but one of my colleagues is a bit of a birdwatcher in his spare time, and he was keen to show us all his fabulous new accessory.

We were, after all, spending a whole day's training in a room with the most beautiful outlook in England.

The large, floor to ceiling windows gaze out across a glorious stretch of white sand, and today, the sky was cloudless and deep blue. It felt warm - unusually warm for an early Autumn day.

Before the meeting got started, I sat outside with my cup of tea and thought how very lucky I was to be sitting in front of such an amazingly peaceful scene.

At coffee time, we took it in turns to look through the telescope, observing all sorts of sea birds, the lighthouse, the prom and the windmills. It was an excellent piece of kit and we apologised to our colleague for laughing at him when he first admitted to buying it.

As the meeting progressed, we talked about how to provide excellent customer service. Going the extra mile, making a connection, taking ownership of problems....all the usual stuff that gets bandied about on these occasions. We know the answers, we know how to do it, we would never let our customers down...

...Little did we know, however, that all this bragging was soon going to be put to the test thanks to the watchful eye of the telescope...

At lunchtime, we set it up on the balcony of the building. Our venue is designed to look like a ship and I felt like I was on the deck, eating my sarnies and observing all the landlubbers below. Every now and then, someone would have a look through the telescope and our birdwatching colleague would reel off the names of all the birds diving into the sea.

Our Meeting venue
In the distance, he spotted a little boat, bobbing about beyond the pier. To the naked eye, you could only just make out its shape, but you couldn't actually see if there was anyone in it. The telescope, however, revealed exactly what was going on.

Two men wearing lifejackets were struggling to get the engine on their little boat to work. I've watched my husband doing a similar thing with a lawnmower a few times - madly yanking the cord - sweating, swearing, huffing and puffing before giving the useless machine a good kicking. Maybe the man with the starting cord had already tried to give the engine a good kicking because somehow their boat was full of water. We knew this because we were able to see the second man frantically using his welly to bail it out.

The telescope was passed to another colleague, who just happens to be a volunteer lifeboatman. After a couple of seconds, he rang the coastguard. The little boat continued to drift as the two men desperately tried to get the engine started.

'They've got loads of tattoos,' one of my colleagues observed, 'Its amazing - you can almost make out what they say.'

The volunteer lifeboatman's bleeper went off. He had been called into action. He gave his apologies and sprinted off like Bruce Wayne to the Batmobile. We continued to watch the drama unfold from our position on the deck of the ship.

The coastguard's landrover flashed past - its blue light matching the colour of the sky and its siren wailing towards the shore. The seabirds scattered.

We were now fighting over a turn on the telescope. The Lifeboat had been launched and was roaring and leaping over the waves towards the two stricken men in their knackered boat.

'Let me see! Let me see!' we argued. We were desperate to see if our colleague was on board the rescue boat.

'It's him! It's him!' someone yelled.

Our new HR manager, who was joining us on her very first day at work, must have felt a little bemused. Not only was she was joining a team of people who brought along pens, paper and a telescope to a training day, but they also interupted lunch to save the lives of those in peril on the sea.

The lifeboat towed the little dinghy back to the safety of the shore. The tattooed men, one still clutching his welly, looked relieved, embarrassed and exhausted.

Our lifeboatman returned and told us to our disappointment that it wasn't actually him out there doing the rescue. His fellow volunteers had beaten him to it, and one of them looks just like him - even through the bionic eye of our telescope.

We took our seats for the afternoon session, discussing the qualities required to be a good manager in a sports centre and the 'tools' that are needed to help us achieve this.

'Empathy,' someone said, 'Experience, communication skills...'

'...And a bloody good telescope,' it was suggested after a pause, much to the delight of our birdwatching colleague, who's object of ridicule had now become the most essential tool in the quest to achieve world class customer service....

All in all, it was an extraordinary and rather unexpected kind of day at the office!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Gosh, its been a while since I posted anything on here! The summer holidays have scuppered writing, and now that the kids are back at school, I'm busy getting my head around new routines/activities etc.
I seem to have done nowt but write cheques for the last couple of weeks - school dinners, gymnastics, cricket, school trips, Brownies, school swimming, school milk, new sweatshirts.....I'm skint!

I have, however, been busy writing the Corbridge Angels blog which seems to have gone down well with its readers! We actually WON our last game of the season. Even if you're not a cricketer, you might enjoy reading an account of that momentous game...

Tonight, I'm hosting 'An Evening with the Angels.' All the cricket lasses from Corbridge Angels are coming over to my place bringing a plate of grub and a bottle. We've got some fun awards and I've organised a couple of surprises in there too, so hopefully we'll have a good night. I must get on tidying the house!

And yesterday it was my birthday. I'm 43. Blimey - how did that happen??!

I had a lovely day - the 7 year old appeared 'in my face' at around 7.15am with pen and paper to take my order for breakfast, then took it down to the chef - the 10 year old - who set to work on my order. Toast with honey, orange juice and a piece of flapjack that he'd made in his cooking lesson the day before. Delish.

Usually, my birthday gets irritatingly unacknowledged by my husband, but he today he managed a sleepy 'happy birthday,' then produced a family holiday back to India just before Christmas. A rather splendid present! Can't wait!

As the day went on, I scoffed a HUGE lunch with dad and Eileen, then later tried to burn off the calories by cutting the grass. As I was doing this, the 10 year old, his pal and the 7 year old sneakily set about making some 'birthday flapjack' for me. I came back in the house to this -

It was delicious, and there was none left 10 minutes later.

Later, my mum came across with a birthday cake and candles, so I even had the whole 'Happy Birthday dear mu-um/Lisa' thing to enjoy before polishing off a bottle of sparkles from my workmates.

I'm a very lucky lass :-))))

And now that the cricket season has finished, I'll be updating this blog more regularly rather than the 'Corbridge Angels' blog - so if there are any readers still left out there - please don't leave me just yet!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Shents, Dizzie and the Rascals

Sitting on the train from London back to Suffolk, I thought about how very strange life can be at times.

When I've visited London with the kids for the day before, we've been to Covent Garden, Notting Hill Carnival, museums, galleries, famous landmarks etc. We've always come home happy and exhausted with aching calf muscles and black snot in our northern noses:-)

When I asked the 10 year old what he wanted to do on our annual trip to London this year, I reeled off a number of sights and attractions that we'd never done before.

He wrinkled his nose up at all of them and said simply - 'I just want to meet Carole.'

'So do I,' I smiled, 'Sod the Tower of London.'

We had never met Carole in 'real life.' She and I 'met' through the Cancer Research Forum last year. She is 'Dizzie,' and I am 'Shents.' We're also bloggers, and follow each others blogs - keeping up to date with each other's news and regularly leaving comments.

Over a short time, she has become a very special friend.

The 10 year old would often peer over my shoulder whilst I tapped on the keyboard and ask - 'How's Carole?' He read her comments and read some of her posts. 'She's nice Carole, isn't she.' he'd say.

So, with a trip to the capital planned, he was particularly curious to meet the lady from London who writes so beautifully and who has a 'cyber' friendship with his mum. The idea of being able to 'touch' this person and 'hear' this person speak was exciting. Like a character from one of his books coming to life. He was also keen to meet her son, who he'd also read about in her posts.

As for me, well I just desperately wanted to meet, in person, one of the online friends whose hands I grasped hold of last year...

We had a lovely day. Carole and her son met us at the station and we spent some time in the sunshine in the Princess Diana Memorial Park. Carole and I yacked, and the 3 rascals played hide and seek and explored the park.

We walked on to find some lunch but struggled to find anywhere to eat! Clearly all the poshies in Knightsbridge just eat MacDonalds, so we had no alternative but to duck in there with half the Spanish student population and tuck in to burger and chips. It was so busy in there that one of the Spaniards tried to sit on Carole's knee. A mad half hour!

With the rain coming down in stair rods, we jumped into a taxi and booled into the National Art Gallery for shelter. As it eased, we had another mad half hour in Trafalgar Square...

 ...before stopping for a coffee and a MASSIVE doughnut in a nice little caf.

After what seemed like 5 minutes since we met up, it was time to go back to the station to catch our train home.

The rascals had enjoyed their day together, and Shents and Dizzie could probably have quite happily continued talking into the small hours of the next day, and the day after that...

...but we had to catch the train, and we arrived at Liverpool St Station with only minutes to spare - no time for long goodbyes. A quick hug, a promise to meet up again soon (this time with Tony, another online friend) and a final wave before boarding the train home....

...and that's when I thought 'how strange life is.'

It brought tears to my eyes.

Friendships. They can arrive from places you would never imagine. They can arrive from places you would rather forget...but however they arrive, some friendships you grab with both hands and you don't let go.

This particular friendship applies to all 3 of the above.