Tag Archives: memories

It doesn’t matter how old they get or how tall they grow…treasure every moment

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When you have children, people often say to you to make the most of the time you have with them when they’re small.

Repeatedly, you’re advised to treasure every moment; treasure every memory; treasure every hug as they grow up way too fast.

Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental in my old age (who’s old? Not me!) or perhaps it’s the fact that Boy Child is in the last few months of his teenage years or the fact that Girl Child is on the brink of leaving high school but I’ve bene reflecting on things a lot recently. (Lord, maybe I am getting old!)

I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural mother. I’m not a particularly conventional mother. I’m not even convinced I’ve been a good mother but they’ve both made it this far – whew!- and have grown into sensible young adults – well, most of the time.

I don’t think it matters how old they get or how tall they grow, Boy Child and Girl Child are still my babies.

I’ve watched them take their first tentative steps as toddlers. I’ve waved them off to school. I’ve made endless packed lunches. I’ve sat through countless dance shows, school shows, musical performances. I’ve been to dozens of parent/teacher evenings.

I’ve jumped in waves in the ocean with them. I’ve built sandcastles on the beach with them.

I’ve dragged them through numerous museums – they’ll thank me for it one day.

I’ve introduced them to my favourite foods, favourite films and books.

I’ve introduced them my eclectic taste in music.

But, possibly most important of all here is that I’ve let them make their own minds up about things.

We don’t always enjoy the same meals. We don’t always agree on which film to watch and they both disregard my thoughts on books. (I’ll be honest, that one winds me up a bit.)

As for music, Girl Child is still developing her preferences having journeyed through EMO, Swedish death metal to cheesy pop and, for now, a more indie band sound. Her tastes are more catholic than mine but we occasionally agree on a band or song.  Boy Child too has developed his own tastes and preferences but it’s safe to say we share a lot more common ground.

This was brought home to me earlier this week when I realised that with regards to music we’d come full circle.

Almost six years ago, accompanied by two of my friends, we went to see Iron Maiden at the SECC in Glasgow. It was the first gig he’d been to where we were in the standing arena. The mother in me was anxious to protect her baby boy in this crowd of thousands of rock and metal fans. I stayed close to him all night as we enjoyed the show together.  My friend even commented over coffee the following day how cute it had looked to see us both together, horns up.

Earlier this week, Boy Child and I went back to see Iron Maiden. This time they were  playing in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, next door to the previous venue. When we arrived about a hour before doors open, we detoured into the SECC to use the facilities and Boy Child commented that he hadn’t been there since the previous Maiden show.

As we stood in the queue, basking in the warm early evening sunshine, outside the Hydro, we counted up how many shows we’d been to together over the years. Twenty six, including the one we were heading in to.

A couple of hours later, as we stood side by side in the crowd watching the support band, Shinedown (love those guys), I stole a glance up at him. My baby boy was still standing beside me, smiling and singing, horns up. I smiled.

An hour or so after that moment, as we were being pushed and jostled and barged about in the midst of the mayhem at the front of the crowd, I realised the roles had reversed. We had come full circle. My Boy Child was protecting me, keeping me close to him and regularly checking that I was OK. My heart melted.

The childhood memories you make with your children are to be treasured.

The ones you make with them when they’re young adults are equally precious.

Treasure them all.

And, yes, we were both still standing together, six years down the line, horns up!

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2016 – a year in pictures- the severely edited highlights

I’m not big on reflecting back on the year about to end etc, etc. I do however capture a lot of my life in photographs and hold the memories close to my heart. I have thousands of photos from 2016 so here are the severely edited highlights (one per month)

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and then there were some of the gigs I enjoyed……

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Lots of happy memories there.

Cluttered Confessions….

Confession time – I am quite a cluttered person.

Over the years, my tendency to live in a cluttered world compared to the Big Green Gummi Bear’s tendency to neatness have led to a few heated exchanges.

Simple fact – I like my things around me to create my comfort zone.  I’m possibly borderline at hoarding certain things too, if I’m being honest. I like to keep things that I have an emotional attachment to but even I have to acknowledge that every now and then a cull of the clutter is required.

Usually there’s a catalyst to this and this time round it’s been no different. We decided to overhaul the bedroom (new flooring, new bed etc- cue expedition to Ikea)

The Big Green Gummi Bear said that the free-standing triple wardrobe had to go to create more space in the room and decreed that I needed to make space in the fitted wardrobe for his belongings…GULP!!!

That wardrobe hasn’t been properly cleared out in over ten years (hangs head in shame).

Hanging space was dealt with relatively painlessly. Most of my summer clothes and some of my other outfits have been packed into suitcases and, for me, I was ruthless in what I added to the charity bag. (OK, I confess, I kept the dress I’ve had since I was 16 but I love it and it still fits.)

Two or three bags made their way to the charity shop.

Part one of the mission was accomplished and the Big Green Gummi Bear moved his clothes into “my” wardrobe.

Part two involved tackling the “stuff” stashed at the bottom of the wardrobe and the treasure that were weighing down the top shelf. (There’s a huge amount of space in this TARDIS of a wardobe)

In the midst of this wardrobe mission, I was given a side assignment. I had to clear out three chests of drawers (well about six drawers across the three sets.)

All this upheaval was sending my stress levels soaring!

I felt like I was being hauled out of my comfort zone by the hair!

“Get a grip, girl!”

Over a few evenings, I dealt with the drawers. It was a trip down memory lane as I found countless old photos, theatre programmes, handmade cards from the kids, letters from my penfriends dating back years (yes, folk used to put pen to paper and write actual letters to each other). I had no choice but to be ruthless and, much as it almost killed me, I had to bin several black bags worth of memories. The photos I kept…and most of the theatre programmes…and the occasional handmade card from the kids.

Now to the wardrobe……I was dreading that task!

I had a few days holiday from work pre-arranged for this week so I decided to tackle the bottom of the wardrobe on Monday and the top shelf on Tuesday.

Trying to keep my anxiety at binning things in check, I split the stuff into bundles-

Keep

Bin

Donate to charity

Progress was hampered by the willing assistance of Girl Child’s kitten, Stinky. He felt the need to explore every bag and every box and every corner of the wardrobe at least a dozen times!

The bottom of the wardrobe generated four black bags of rubbish (See, I was being strict with myself, Big Green Gummi Bear), two more bags for charity and a huge pile of personal papers to be destroyed. (Over ten years’ worth of bills and bank statements!)

How to safely dispose of them? Still trying to work that out! It’s too big a job for our aging shredder. I tried burning some but that proved unsuccessful….hmm…more thought required on that conundrum.

Next morning, I got the stepladders out to tackle the top shelf. Stinky parked himself under the ladders to supervise. In fairness, the top shelf wasn’t too bad…..well, bad enough but not awful!

One of the hardest things to part with lay up there.

Don’t laugh, please. I’m about to get a bit sentimental here.

There was a large black holdall full of old baby/toddler clothes. It was a mix of Boy Child’s and Girl Child’s outfits, although largely hers. As I lifted them out to fold them up and put them into the charity bag, I could see them in each of the outfits. (Bear in mind he’s now almost 19 and she’s 16) I could smell the freshly bathed baby smell as I gave Boy Child’s tiny Tigger sleepsuit a final hug. Girl Child’s little denim dresses reminded me of her as a toddler, always busy at something. Her burgundy velvet tunic top and leggings that brought out the blue in her eyes….oh I could go on … I won’t. You get the picture, right? It seemed like only yesterday that I was dressing them in those clothes. Precious memories. I was an emotional wreck by the time the holdall was empty.

It generated another two bags for the charity shop.

After a couple of hours, I was done.

Mission accomplished.

A trip to the dump (sorry, recycling centre) took care of the five black bags of rubbish.

A trip into town to see my friend at the charity shop took care of the four bulky bags destined for there. (Huge thanks to the lovely lady who was passing and helped me to get the shop door open as I heaved the bags into the shop.)

So the bedroom and the wardrobe have been de-cluttered. It looks good. (Ok, there’s three small boxes of books and photos still to be put away in the loft sitting in a corner)

I think, slowly, my “roots” are uncurling and beginning to settle back into my comfort zone. Stress levels are gradually returning to normal.

I’ve made a deal with myself not to be so “cluttered” going forward. Will I manage to stick to it? Time will tell…..

 

Before..

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During

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After

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As Staycation 2016 draws to a close….time to reflect

BeFunky Collage 1

OK a bit of a cheat’s post but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

The above collage sums up Staycation 2016 – bare feet, coffee, cinnamon bagels, writing, some typing (yes, I’ve begun the typing marathon that will become Bonded Souls …eventually!), a couple of cocktails, some photography, some great live music and , of course, several pairs of Converse!

 

Yes- Rehoboth Is A Real Place

One question I’ve been asked on numerous occasions since unleashing my Book Baby on the world is – Is Rehoboth a real place?

Yes it is and it’s one of my favourite places on earth.

( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehoboth_Beach,_Delaware )

I first visited the small city in the exceedingly hot summer of 1980, during my second family holiday to visit family in the USA. I was only ten years old but the town captured my heart. Little did I know then but it would be twenty four years before I’d be back.

The first time I’d visited the States, I’d been four years old and we’d spent a few days near Ocean City, NJ. Among other memories that stood out for me from that first trip were memories of walking in the cold sand under the boardwalk and of walking on the boardwalk itself. Aged ten, I was keen to see the ocean and the boardwalk again.

During that first trip to Rehoboth, we stayed in a rented house for a week, splitting our beach time between Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach. My recollections of the beach near the town of Dewey Beach are that it was beautiful but it reeked of dead smelly horseshoe crabs. There were piles of them at the back of the beach. The smell was awful! My memories of Rehoboth smell much sweeter!

The town beach at Rehoboth was fabulous to the ten year old me. I loved playing in the ocean swell, “jumping waves” with my aunt, and later in the day, visiting the shops up on the boardwalk. A couple of times we came back into town after dinner and walked the boardwalk as the sun set.

Memories of salt water taffy and fudge and of T-shirt shops selling souvenirs and hermit crabs filled my beach dreams for over twenty years.

Roll on until 2004 when I returned to America to visit my relatives but this time I arrived as an adult (well, as close as I’m going to get) and the mother of two small children. I made a special request to visit Rehoboth while we were there.

My memories from 1980 were of clear blue skies and blistering sun. When I returned to town in July 2004, the skies were over cast. By the time my cousin had parked his beaten up old van (there’s a whole story about that van that I’ll save for another day) and sourced the obligatory quarters for the parking meter (yes- they still have parking meters in the centre of town), the heavens had opened and we were all soaked to the skin by the time we sprinted into Hooters for lunch.

It didn’t matter to me in the slightest. Even under the black rain clouds, Rehoboth still looked exactly as it had in my mind for all those years. Whew!

The rain had eased up by the time we’d finished lunch so we strolled down the main avenue and along the boardwalk. Bliss! All the shops looked and felt the same, right down to the hermit crabs in their brightly coloured shells.

Since then it’s become a family pilgrimage, when we are lucky enough to be in the States, to spend a day at the beach then come into town for dinner and a stroll along the boardwalk.

Even the drive down from Philadelphia, down the Coastal Highway, to reach Rehoboth Beach and nearby Cape Henlopen has been a ritual. Dover Downs race track is the first major sign, signalling that you are past the half way point in the journey. Each of us has our own personal landmark that we watch out for as we head towards the ocean. There are numerous, now familiar, landmarks apart from Dover Downs. There’s a particular house with its own hangar and, I believe, its own airstrip, there’s a surf-style shop miles outside town selling all sorts of beach inflatables, there’s the first road sign that says “Beaches”, there’s the sign that says Slaughter Beach (that one always makes me smile. I need to visit there someday) then there’s the Rehoboth Beach water tower.

I can see each and every one of these in my mind’s eye as I type this even though it’s been three years since my last visit. Too long!

A day at the shore usually means hitting the sand south of the town where my cousin can drive his truck down onto the sand (after letting a lot of the air out of the tyres), finding a good spot to sunbathe, fish and play in the ocean swell. A good spot to watch for dolphins. After a day in the sun, we pile into the truck and, after re-inflating the tyres, drive up to the bath house a couple of miles up the road for a shower. The bath house is all part of the experience! Sand- filled luke-warm showers. Black biting flies and mosquitos by the dozen and screaming, whining, tired, sun-burnt kids. It’s a great facility but definitely not one of the highlights of the day! However, it gets all the sand, well most of it, washed out the bits that sand should never be in and freshens you up so you look semi-respectable when you arrive in town.

Every time there’s the same scramble for quarters…you’d think we’d learn! Somehow, between us all, we always find enough. At Boy Child’s request, it’s pizza for dinner with a bowl of cheese fries on the side – sinfully delicious! As for the pizza – well it’s worth travelling 3000 miles for!

I try to steal a few moments down on the beach, imprinting the place in my mind until next time round.

We walk the boardwalk, play tourist in and out of the shops, visit the arcade then head back to the truck as the sun disappears and the quarters run out.

Happy days and precious memories.

My high school English teacher once said to me that one way to make my stories more believable and realistic was to write about places and things that were close to my heart.

When it came to choosing a location for my Silver Lake series, there only ever was one choice – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

 beach blog

Book Baby aka Stronger Within – book one in the Silver Lake series can be found at-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stronger-Within-Volume-Silver-Series/dp/151176709X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1436461771&sr=8-1

Musical Reflections on 2014

It’s been quite some year for gigs around here, especially over the last three months, as some of you may have noticed.

Last night marked the last gig in my 2014 calendar.

In an almost ritualistic manner, I boarded the train to Glasgow, chaperoned by Boy Child, to head off to the O2 ABC (yes- there again!) to see Rival Sons.

The mother in me scolded Boy Child for coming out without a jacket. Who in their right mind goes out in t-shirt and jeans in Scotland in December? Oh, that’ll be my son! Yes, I stood shaking my head in disbelief at his stupidity, as he stood shivering in the queue outside the venue. Muppet!

Rival Sons were fabulous. I had no pre-conceptions as to what they would be like live. I’d been warned that their front man’s voice was beginning to suffer a little as they are nearing the end of their tour. The extra huskiness was evident but, on occasion, seemed to enhance the performance. It was a fantastic show.

If you’ve never heard of this band from California check them out. If you listen to nothing else that they’ve done, look up “Where I’ve Been” and “Jordan” online. Stunning songs.

Like all good things, the show came to an end and we headed out of the venue into the cold and back towards the station, via KFC, in time to catch the last train home. And, yes, Boy Child was shivering again!

At the last count, I think, I’ve been to eleven gigs this year and seen about twenty five bands/artists. Not many by some die hard fans’ standards but no mean feat for me.

Highs and lows then of the 2014 Gig Year? …. Ask me an easy one!

The highs have to be the two Slash shows. After waiting for twenty seven years to see him play live, to now have seen him play twice within a month is a dream come true (as I’ve blogged previously). You just can’t beat standing in that confetti shower while “Paradise City” plays!

The lows came at the first Slash show at the O2 Academy. Being swept off my feet and feeling flung about like a rag doll during the opening three numbers of Biffy Clyro’s set that night was far from enjoyable. Yes, I’ll admit to being too old for that carry on! Getting doused in a cup full of piss later on in the evening was simply disgusting. I get that folk need to pee during a gig, especially after a few beers. I get that some guys are too lazy to make it to the men’s room and choose to relieve themselves into their empty beer cups but what lowlifes then feel the need to fling the full cup into the crowd? It’s beyond revolting. (rant over)

A major high point of the year was taking my baby girl to her first gig. Watching her lap it all up and seeing the look on her face as Halestorm took to the stage was a beautiful sight.(Yes, it was the O2 ABC again) Precious memories. Move on a few months, and seeing her relaxed, happy and smiling in the company of The Conspirators back stage at the Hydro made my heart sing. In fact, seeing both my munchkins (and FB Son) behave impeccably while meeting The Conspirators and Myles Kennedy made me feel very proud to be their mum.

A few friends have shared this year’s musical journey with me and there are numerous memories from these shows that are special. I have to say though that the look on one particular friend’s face after seeing Airbourne play live, and their immediate reaction, was priceless and the memory of it still makes me giggle.

I’ve met some wonderful people through music this year. I’ve made a few friends along the way and yes, been fortunate enough to meet a few very talented musicians. Again, more memories that are oh so very special!

So, when does Rock Mum come back out to play? Not until mid-February next year – and, yes, it’s at the O2 ABC again! Oh, it seems a very LONG way away right now!

Before then though another persona is set to emerge at the end of January – Rock Wife.

The Big Green Gummi Bear’s going to a gig! It will be his first this century. In fact, the first this millennium!

The venue this time? Where else but the O2 ABC!

I can’t wait to see how that one pans out!

An Evening of Southern Hospitality Never To Be Forgotten

An evening of “Southern Hospitality”- it would’ve been rude to refuse.

“Rock Mum” was out to play this week at Glasgow’s legendary Barrowlands in the company of one other “responsible” adult ( I use the term loosely)and four rock music mad teenagers (one of whom is currently slightly broken after a recent skiing incident).

Our evening’s “Southern Hospitality” was provided by Kentucky based hard rock band, Black Stone Cherry. I’d seen them play a few years ago as the support act for Nickelback so, when I saw this short speciality tour advertised, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

As we queued outside in the freezing cold and in full view of the band’s tour bus, the excitement began to build. Climbing the stairs up to the “ballroom” only heightened the anticipation. I have to say it is the first time I’ve watched a rock band play a venue with glitter balls on the ceiling, a reminder of the venue’s past history as one of Scotland’s leading dance halls of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The set list had been chosen by the fans via the band’s Facebook page and was interspersed with several short Q&A sessions. Broad Glasgow accents versus Kentucky Southern drawl proved to be a challenge as the band confessed they weren’t quite tuned in to “Scottish” as they put it but the questions proved to be entertaining and the band demonstrated what a decent bunch of guys they are. One girl asked if they would autograph a t-shirt she had worn to their last Scottish show when she had been pregnant with her first child. The shirt was duly tossed on stage, autographed then personally delivered back to its owner by lead singer, Chris Robertson, who came off stage and into the crowd. A custom made bass drum skin was autographed and raffled off during the evening. The fans did learn one “personal” fact about guitarist, Ben Wells – the name of the shampoo he uses on his long blonde flowing locks. Street cred severely dented there, young man!

It almost goes without saying that the music was brilliant – all the fans’ favourites were played plus two new songs from their forthcoming album, Magic Mountain. From the “dance floor” it was obvious that the band were having a much fun as their adoring fans. Chris Robertson’s face as the whole crowd sang “Peace Is Free” to him was a vision of pride and emotion.

After a full two hour set Black Stone Cherry bade us all a warm goodnight and left the stage to a thunderous cheer. The house lights went up and the PA system began to play Garth Brooks “Friends In Low Places”. Apt.

The highlight of the evening was yet to come.

As we headed towards the exit, I spotted the band’s drummer, John Fred Young, standing at the side talking to someone. With that huge mop of curls you couldn’t mistake him! Distinctly out of character for a normally shy me, I went over to speak to him. I thanked him for a fantastic show and was rewarded with a very sweaty hug and a kiss. Happy Rock Mum!

The kids had followed me over somewhat shyly. I stood back and watched them chat politely with the tired musician, get their tickets autographed, when someone eventually tracked down a pen, and their photos taken.

Sharing in their excitement and enthusiasm for having met one of the band and listening to their “star struck” conversation, as we headed wearily home, made me a very proud “Rock Mum” to all four of them.

Definitely a night where we all enjoyed Black Stone Cherry’s personal Southern Hospitality. Thank you, gentlemen.

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