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Back to my roots…..

but surprise, not those of my new wildlife garden.

My project had to take a back seat whilst I travelled down to Guildford with hubby to celebrate my Auntie June’s 80th birthday. Not only was this a wonderful celebration for her, but gathering her family around from far and wide also meant that I was able to meet some of my long-lost family for the first time, or, for the first time since my father’s funeral in December 1987. Although I have managed to establish contact with most of my cousins via Facebook, it’s not the same as meeting them and their families face to face so I couldn’t wait to get there.

The evening was a great success and Auntie June looked lovely. I can’t believe that as the baby of four siblings, she is 80 years young! My father was the eldest of the four, ten years older. Auntie June idolised him to the extent that she wanted to marry him when they grew up. Sadly, he was the first to die at the age of 61 but I’m sure he was there in spirit on Saturday.

I  was estranged from my father’s family when my parents divorced and with my mother being an only child, I grew up amongst a small family. I am making up for it now however as I have eight cousins and other halves; their children and grandchildren and I also have a step-sister and brother and their families.

Phew! I may have to send a few Christmas cards this year!!!

Family

 

Engaged!

Congratulations to my gorgeous niece Pippa who got engaged to Dan last night. Dan surprised Pip with the $64m question at a 25th birthday party which he had organised for her and managed to keep secret from her for 4 months-and that was after he told my sister, a miracle!

Of course she said “Yes” and is now sporting a very pretty diamond solitaire.

Lovely, lovely lovely. The day just got better!

Congratulations both and we hope that you will be very happy!

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Poppyposts celebrates it’s first birthday tomorrow and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to log-in and read the posts. A total of 11,072 views in 12 months-I am amazed and delighted. Here’s to the next 12 months and exciting times.

I have now renewed my subscription which enables me to continue writing and unsurprisingly some themes will remain constant. Fighting the ever-present spectre of depression (currently in remission) is still important as is helping in the campaign against the stigma of mental illness which remains a priority. Talking openly and honestly about my experiences with depression undoubtedly helps to do this and I will continue to do this for as long as it does help. There will also be more trips to Iran which are a rich source of blogging material but I’m not planning on going out anytime soon as I understand that the temperature has dropped close to freezing and they have snow. Brrrr…..too cold.

Children In Need is upon us again and deserves another highlight. This year I have my Pudsey Bear ears to match my T-shirt and fairy cakes. I won’t however be doing the Santa 5k, or BBQ-ing Christmas Dinner in the back garden this year but I do have my new creative venture “The Scrapbook Fairy” to keep me occupied during the long winter days. I will also be working with Sandra, the lovely proprietor of JLT Crafts to put on scrapbooking crops and workshops in her shop in the New Year. This is something I’m really looking forward to.

The last 12 months have been exciting, challenging, sometimes difficult, often dark and disappointing but they have also been amazing. I am blessed with new friends, new activities and a new perspective on life.

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Thank you XXXX  

Facebook Friends

There has been a lot of criticism about Facebook and its use. Are “friends” really friends? How can you be friends with someone you’ve never met? Facebook friendships are shallow and meaningless and people should get a life instead of spending all their time on the computer.

Ha! Ha!

I have just spent a couple of days with a Facebook Friend and his family in the depths of sunny Wiltshire and my son and I had a great time! Now we are all Facebook Friends and shall be for a long time I suspect.

I have “known” Andrew for almost a year, and in that time we have become good friends helping each other through the dark and often lonely times of depression and anxiety. However much one’s friends and family are there to support, it helps to have a friend who knows what it feels like to have the world pressing down on your chest and shoulders squeezing out every morsel of sensible reason and hope instead giving you a feeling of panic and fear. Someone who can rationalise the thought-patterns and turn negatives into positives; someone who won’t and can’t judge you, recognising the causes and symptoms of the extreme emotions as one’s own.

I have met Andrew during the year, and heard about his lovely family. His two sons are clearly his pride and joy and he is very proud of them both. I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew’s wife and youngest son at the weekend and they couldn’t have made us more welcome. It is fortunate that my son and Andrew’s son are the same age (only 17 days difference) and they share a love of sports and just being 16. The 9 holes of golf played yesterday afternoon was a source of much hilarity and we certainly got to know each other much better on the rather chilly fairways and fast-running greens. Dad even turned up at the 6th tee with a flask and chocolate! Could it get any better than that?

Actually yes it did as we also met the two Springer Spaniel puppies, at 12 weeks a recent addition to the Cooper-fold and simply adorable. Andrew did tell me pointedly this morning just before we left that he had padlocked them in their enclosure…….I wonder why! It was very tempting to stage a kidnap attempt of Rosy and Lily but I dug deep and resisted the temptation. In addition we were treated to some lovely meals and expert baking (Domestic Goddess in residence) so I was perfectly content!

Thank goodness for Facebook Friends! I am lucky that my Facebook Friends really are friends and I appreciate that.

Anyone who tells me otherwise clearly don’t know what they are on about!

Scrapbooking

I still have scrapbooks which I made in the 1970’s and which kept me occupied for hours on end during the long school holidays when home alone. A Villa scrapbook is my pride and joy; A picture and write up of Chris Nicholl scoring all 4 goals ina 2-2 draw with Leicester 1n 1976, the same week as he won a cap forNorthern Ireland. Brian Little with long hair and news cuttings about the numerous trophies that Villa won in that decade.  1976 was clearly a good year for a scrapbooking fan as I also have one of the Montreal Olympics with special focus on the gymnast Nadia Comaneci the first person to score a perfect “10”. Wonderful memories of a sports-mad childhood.

Of course it didn’t stop there. As soon as Will could write I encouraged him to keep scrapbooks of his holidays writing down everything we did and sticking photos, tickets, leaflets and pictures on the pages. Every now and again I get these out of the cupbaord and have a laugh. It’s great fun to look back and remember the stories behind the photos.

Scrapbooking and journalling today however is a completely different exercise. Instead of the traditional muted thick recycled scrapbook paper, there are beautiful papers, embellishments, flowers, stamps, journal tags, altered art, distress inks, brads and ribbons to construct your pages with and you can be as flambouyantly creative or minimalist as you like. Whatever mood you find yourself in, there will be a scrapbook page just waiting to escape onto paper.

I have found that scrapbooking is both relaxing and artistically challenging and a great way to unwind. In the last few months I have been inundated with requests to consider “teaching” scrapbooking or holding scrapbooking crops so that groups of scrapbookers can seek inspiration from each other. Some people have also asked me to create scrapbooks for them or their family as presents using  family photos. For me however scrapbooking is not just making pretty pictures. It’s a very personal thing and most of my inspiration comes from the stories and history behind the pictures rather than the photo itself. Colours, patterns, the layout and overall effect comes from knowing my subject and I compliment that knowledge by using various techniques. This is what makes it special.

Scrapbooking reflects an individual’s personality and taste, their creativity and patience. It is very simple especially as there is no right or wrong way to do it. I have developed a certain style and I favour certain colours over others. Some like the pages, others aren’t so keen. Likewise, some pages appeal to me more than others.

Why not have a go and create your own scrapbook using family photos, facebook comments, school reports or newspaper cuttings just to start. You’ll be surprised how much stuff you have around which can be used to make special memories.

Here are some of mine;

    

September serenity

I can’t remember when I last sat down in my garden and listened to silence. Tonight I did just that and as well as being very dark, all was very quiet and peaceful. No wind, not even a light breeze to disturb the turning leaves. Warm enough to sit out in T-shirt, I sat and breathed in the oily-scent of  the lavender bushes freshly trimmed. I watched my two cats chase each other through the shrubs stopping every now and then to listen for a frog to catch and tease.

The fountain in the pond cascades through the night and I sat and watched the longer blades of grass edging the lawn gradually bend with the weight of descending moisture. The grape vine is bursting with bunches of ripening fruit and the branches of the apple tree are bending under the weight of a bumper crop of apples. Figs are fleshing out and darkening and the late tomatoes are slowly turning from a hard-green to a softer ripe-red thus avoiding their inevitable transformation into the dreaded green tomato chutney.

Friday night and everyone is home behind closed curtains. Taking stock after the hectic week behind them but preparing for the weekend ahead. Tomorrow will start early as the dawn doggy walkers take Missy, Copper, Amy and Kevin for their daily constitutional. Lawn mowers, pressure-washers and jumpers-for-goalposts will appear as the rest of us get going and start our weekend jobs and activities which will last until late afternoon when preparations will begin for dinner at home, an engagement party next door and the odd late-summer BBQ.

A veritable haven on my doorstep.