I’ve started a new blog

Following on from my previous post about the challenge I’m taking on next month, I’ve started a new blog for it. Unless I’m missing something which should be obvious there doesn’t seem to be anywhere on my fundraising page for me to post regular updates of my progress, and I don’t feel it’s right to ask people to sponsor me or make donations if they can’t see how I’m doing. Then again, if I post updates on this blog they may very well get lost among all the other things I write about so a dedicated ‘challenge’ blog seems the way to go.
My new blog can be found here and as always any comments really will be much appreciated  🙂

Another trip to Ireland

Tomorrow I’m making my third trip over to Roscrea in Ireland and this time I go with a heavy heart – my son’s dad sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning. Michael had booked to fly back next Monday to see him, coming back on Friday, but at lunch time yesterday we had a phone call from Nellie to say that his dad had been moved from the family home to a hospice nearby and he needed to get there as soon as he could, so I managed to rebook a flight for him to go tomorrow. Then about 6pm Nellie phoned again to say that Jimmy had been so upset and stressed that he’d had a heart attack and been taken to hospital – that was bad news enough but just after 1am today Michael woke me up to say that Nellie had phoned again with the sad news that his dad had passed away peacefully not long before. Needless to say Michael was absolutely heartbroken – even though we knew this would happen it was no less upsetting when we got the news.
Today I arranged for compassionate leave from work next week then set about trying to book myself a flight for Saturday, assuming that the funeral would probably be on Monday, but then we got another call from Nellie to say that the funeral was actually to be on Saturday – now I know that over in Ireland they like to do things like that fairly quickly but I didn’t expect it to be so quick. Luckily I managed to get a flight for myself tomorrow, although it means us travelling separately – Michael will be going on the same mid day flight as last week and I’ll be on the 3.15pm one – once I get to Dublin I’ll have to wait until 6pm for the coach, meaning I won’t get to Roscrea until just after 8pm, but at least I’ll be there.
Just at the moment my head feels as if it’s about to explode with everything I have to think about and all the last minute organising that needs doing, in fact I’m only taking the time to write this now because I’m sitting having a much-needed coffee – the first one in several hours. Once I get on the plane tomorrow afternoon though I’ll be able to relax a bit, and although this is the one journey I’m not really looking forward to I’m determined to stay strong so I can support Michael as he says goodbye to his dad for the final time.

Tired, emotional and ‘jet lagged’

It’s taken me a couple of days to get round to writing this as after my recent quick trip over to Ireland I’ve been feeling very much as the title suggests. The journey from home last Wednesday with my son and his dad started off well but went downhill at Manchester airport when the plane was delayed – it seemed that, for some reason, one of the runways had been closed and the plane coming in from Ireland was late landing, so with the turn round time our flight was an hour and a half late taking off and we were all feeling tired and fed-up before we’d even gone anywhere.  I was quite surprised though that even though all my information told me the flight time was an hour it was actually only thirty five minutes, which would have been a bonus, but the delayed take-off meant we missed the coach we wanted to get from Dublin airport and had to wait until 3.15pm for the next one. After a 3-hour journey on that we finally arrived at the family home nearly ten hours after we first set off from home in the morning, and with my son’s dad completely exhausted and looking not at all well.
The next few hours for me passed in a confused and rather bewildered blur – being welcomed into the family home by relatives who my son knew well but I had never ever met before, having a meal and being given endless mugs of tea, making friends with Trixie the adorable little family dog, being introduced first to Alice, the next-door neighbour, then to Paul, a guy who lived across the street, and being told that my son and I would be sleeping at his house that night, which I thought was totally weird though it was explained that the family home only had two bedrooms. My son’s dad took himself off to bed at 9pm as he was totally whacked out, then Paul came to take us over to his house about an hour later. I was so tired by then that I was almost asleep on my feet so he showed me to my room and I left him and my son watching tv.
The following morning I got up at 7.30 and thinking my son would have been sleeping on the settee in Paul’s living room I went to wake him up but he was nowhere to be seen – totally confused again, and hearing noises in the kitchen, I went to find Paul and he told me that my son was in a small bedroom just off the back corridor. Once he was awake and dressed we went back across the street to the family home where breakfast was waiting for us, then before long it was time to leave as we were getting the 9am coach back to the airport. My son’s dad was still in bed and saying goodbye to him was really emotional; he looked so frail, and as I hugged him I wished more than anything that I could take away his pain and get him well again. It took several minutes in the kitchen on my own before I felt ready to leave the house; my son was sitting on the front step, he didn’t say much but I knew he was feeling the same way as me.
The journey back home was, fortunately, much more straightforward than the previous day. A neighbour, Kathy, took us and Paul up to the bus stop in her car and Paul waited with us until the coach came. This one was from a different company and used a more direct route to the airport so the journey time was only two hours, though we had quite a bit of time to kill once we got there. The plane took off on time just before 2pm, our friend was waiting for us when we landed at Manchester, and with no delays on the motorway we were back home by 3.30pm. An hour later I was at work and as I went through my normal routine I found it hard to believe that only a few hours previously I’d been somewhere in the middle of southern Ireland.
It was the following day when the events of the previous two days caught up with me – the long and tiring journey on the first day, meeting several different people for the first time, sleeping in an unknown house, then saying goodbye to my son’s dad with the possibility of never seeing him alive again, and the journey back home, all condensed into a little over thirty hours -the whole experience had left me with a feeling of surrealism and confusion, as if I’d ‘time travelled’ and been somewhere but hadn’t, or maybe had an out-of-body experience, and the tiredness I felt was overwhelming. I know you can’t get jet lag from just a thirty minute flight but I really did feel totally wiped out. I’m hoping I can go back soon to see my son’s dad again while he’s still alive but if and when I do I’ll make sure I take more time off work – even just one more day would make a big difference.
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Trixie

“Where’s my bath plug?”

I have a friend who, although very intelligent – she was a historian and university lecturer before she took early retirement – is often very scatterbrained and absent-minded. She’s only 63 so not exactly old but she’s the epitome of a completely dotty old lady and some of the things she says and does are often a source of great amusement. At least she has the ability to laugh at herself though so I know she won’t mind me posting an example of her scattyness on here.
A few years ago I took her camping with me to a small site in Northumberland, and though my van and drive-away awning were pitched on the main part of the site her tent was pitched in the next field and just the other side of the dividing hedge. On the day we were coming home I was busy packing up the van when I noticed my friend walking across the site – thinking she was taking some rubbish to the bin I didn’t give it much thought and carried on with what I was doing. I was just about to start taking the pegs out of the awning when she came across and asked me where her stuff was. What stuff?….The stuff she’d just piled at the front of the van ready for packing, it had taken her five journeys to carry it all across.
Well I hadn’t seen her stuff and there was definitely nothing in front of the van so where the heck was it? We were both totally confused, and she was just beginning to think that someone had somehow managed to swipe the lot when I went for a scout round and found it – she’d piled it up at the front of someone else’s caravan two pitches further along!! That must have been where she was going when I’d seen her walking across the site earlier on, but how on earth she’d managed to mistake a large white twin-axle caravan for my grey van and awning I’ll never know. I’d actually seen the occupants of the caravan going over to the shower block a while before so heaven only knows what they thought when they got back and found all that stuff piled up at the front of it! That incident has come up in conversation more than once over the last few years and we always have a laugh about it.
So this morning at 11am my friend phoned me and her first words were “Where’s my bath plug?”. Not “Hi, how are you?” or “Sorry to bother you if you’re busy” just “Where’s my bath plug?” Now unfortunately I don’t have the ability to see up the road, round corners and through brick walls so my reply was “How the heck do I know where your bath plug is?” I clean the house for her once a week and it’s only a few days since I blitzed the bathroom and left the plug on the side of the bath so I suggested that was where it probably still was, though she swore blind it wasn’t there. However, about half an hour ago she phoned me again and this time her words were “I’ve found the bath plug” so I just had to ask her where it was. “On the side of the bath” came the reply – which was exactly where I’d said it would be. It seemed that while having a shower she’d put the long-handled back brush on the side of the bath right where the plug was – so was it a case of she couldn’t see for looking or hadn’t she looked properly in the first place? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it won’t be long before the next scatty episode occurs – I wonder what it will be next time?