Oh, By the Time You Read This…

Dear Reader,

I hope my letter finds you well. I just wanted to tell you a little story about letter writing that spans a long time.

Way back when I was just fourteen years old I was a big fan of the fantastic Kate Bush. Each night before going to sleep I would put on one of my LPs on my record player and listen to Kate while I drifted to sleep And Dream of Sheep. 

I was a member of the KTBand fan club and each month I received, amongst other goodies, a newsletter with a penpal section. I had my details printed in one of these newsletters and even had some replies.

One was a boy around my age who lived in South Wales and wore blue shoes. The other was a lovely Swedish girl who sent me a photo of her standing on white stuff which she kindly explained to me was snow. 

I wrote to these two for a while but the letters soon petered out as we grew and changed and life moved on. I guess it didn’t help that I moved house three times in the next couple of years.

Many Years Later.

I grew up, I got married and moved again. 

During this time I took a job at a local petrol station and one day a man came in to write a check for his petrol. He wrote his address on the back and I couldn’t help but exclaim, ‘Oh, I used to live there!’ He lived in the house that I’d lived in as a Kate Bush loving 14 year old. We talked a while and as he was a regular customer he knew my name.

Then I left to have my baby, and then another baby and we moved house yet again. I didn’t go back to my old job.

One day while walking around the shops with my new baby I met a friend that I used to work with. She told me that the man who used to live in my old house had come into the petrol station with a letter for me! 

All the Way from Italy.

I went to pick up the letter and found that it had come all the way from Italy and was actually from someone who had found my address in the Penpal section of the Kate Bush magazine. 

I told my husband and seeing has the letter had taken so long to find me it seemed cruel not to answer. So I did. I wrote to the Italian guy and he wrote back. We didn’t really correspond again for a while.

Later, another letter dropped on my doormat from Italy. I wrote back again and we talked on the phone. He told me he was visiting England and, if I wished, we could meet.

We did meet and go for pizza in my hometown. We also went to the park and had a nice time together, despite him not really speaking English well and me not speaking Italian at all!

We didn’t correspond again for a long time, until one day a few years ago he popped up requesting me as a friend on Facebook. Again language is a barrier, but it’s nice that we have kept in touch for so long. All through a Penpal page from 38 years ago! 

Thank you for reading my story, I hope you will come back soon,

Best Wishes, 

Anne xx

Kate Bush

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me which Kate Bush Song my Title for this post is from? The clue is in the picture!

And if Lollo should read this post, well then, I’ll take my shoes off and through them in the lake!

Blogtober18 prompt for today is Letters #WorldPostDay

Lucy At Home UK gentle parenting blogger

The Little Things That Help

Being faced suddenly with a disability can be a daunting experience but there are things that can help.

a wheelchair sign on the grass showing the way to a step free route

Photo by Yomex Owo on Unsplash

Nearly three years ago now I was admitted to hospital after becoming suddenly paralysed for apparently no reason. Over the two weeks in hospital with treatment and physio I regained some senses and learned to walk a little. When your nervous system gives up on you no longer have communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Putting one foot in front of the other becomes a confusing task. 

When it was time for me to come home they would not let me go until they knew my home was safe enough. That meant that someone had to come out and visit my home and then state what aids I would need to be able to get around once home. Despite this being horrifying at the time (‘I’m not using a zimmer frame, What do you think I am, and old lady?’) Nearly three years on I have found these aids invaluable for my safety, my sanity and my independence.

Aids

So what were these aids? First up was the stairs, we had a fancy banister on one side but I would now need two, so a second handrail was fitted. The second rail covers every part of the left hand site of the stairs, which is the wall side. I also needed to get around so I was provided with rollator frames for both downstairs and upstairs. These are basically your normal zimmer frames but with wheels on the front so you can push them rather than lift them while walking. I called mine Zelda1 and Zelda2. I now only use a Zelda if I’m feeling really unwell, I tend to use my walking sticks more.

Bathroom

Then there was the bathroom. Thankfully we have a low access shower in one of our bathrooms so I was provided with a chair to sit on while showering. It’s not exactly the best way to shower so I prefer to use a bar instead and stand. My dream is to have a proper wet room, I’m sure the kids would like one too as when they shower most of the water ends up on the floor rather than in the shower basin. Around the toilets we have hand rails, they can be moved but I’m thinking of replacing them with drop down rails which are less obtrusive. I know I’m disabled and appreciate the aids, but it would be nicer for guests not to have to put up with them too.

Kitchen

In the kitchen I have a stool. It’s high enough for me to reach the worktop, cooker and sink, but it doesn’t move around so I only sit if I’m tired or can’t stand anymore. It’s handy for when I’m chopping up vegetables or mixing a cake, but I have to make sure I have everything in my reach. My favourite kitchen gadget is my trolley.  It has two trays and is on wheels, I can push it around and carry twice as much as usual, probably twice as much as you. Not only is it useful but it’s a walking aid as well! I can use it to cart things around the kitchen, or move things from the kitchen to the living room and vice versa. I think every home should have one and I think it’s looks the least like a disability aid.

Getting Out.

I don’t walk much outside, basically because I can’t. Uneven surfaces are almost impossible for me, even with walking aids. I can’t walk on slopes either ascending or descending. And I can’t walk more than a few metres without freezing. If I am familiar with a place I will walk a little with my sticks or crutches, but I am so, so slow. Honestly a tortoise would be quicker, or maybe even a snail.

So, I have a wheelchair, a power chair in fact which is now a little battered and bruised after our car accident. At first I had a manual chair but I didn’t have the upper body strength to push myself far and had to depend on someone to push me. It’s not a nice experience, particularly if you have someone who has been a parent push you, because they tend to treat a wheelchair like a pushchair. When they stop to speak to someone they’ll push you past so they are talking behind your back. Or in a shop you’ll end up being pushed passed the cashier so you can’t interact with them.

A power chair gives you back some more independence, you are in control again. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. At first I thought I would get better and that I would only need the wheelchair for a short while, but now I have little hope of ever being able to walk again so I tend to look at wheelchairs like someone would look at cars. There is always something better I crave. For the time being though, I have to be satisfied and as long as I can get from A to B then I’m happy. Sometimes getting from A to B is not easy and it’s easy to start thinking that it’s better not to go out at all, but then I think of all the wheelchair users that have been in their chairs all their lives and count my blessings. 

a power chair from Careco
My wheelchair

And So to Bed

So far I don’t have too many aids at bedtime. All I have is a frame attached to the bed, kind of like the ones you get your toddler to stop them falling out. But mine is metal and I mostly use it to grab on to when I want to move around or get out of bed. 

Sometimes I still find it hard to believe that I am disabled, especially as it happened so suddenly and without being in an accident. I have Stiff Person Syndrome which affects around one person in every million world wide. My type of Stiff person also comes with a few extra surprises, Progressive Enchephamyelitis with Rigidity and Myoclonus, or PERM for short. On October 25th it is the Stiff Person Syndrome awareness day. It’s important to raise awareness, as sufferers we are often faced with blank faces when trying to explain to any medics we encounter what is wrong with us. There is little research being done, and no-one knows the best way to treat us. With awareness we hope to change this and give future generations the chance of proper treatment or even a cure. 

This is a collaborative post but all words, thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Hearing Them Read #libraries Week

a library, rows and rows of books arcing to the left

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

The #Blogtober18 prompt today is all about reading and libraries. Something we as a family truly enjoy. So I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you about the books we enjoy. I do still listen to my younger two read, but mostly they are independent readers and like to read themselves. 

This post contains some affiliate links which may earn me a few pennies if you click through and purchase something. Of course you are under no obligation to click or buy and if you do it will be no extra cost to you.

Our Library

If you take a look up in my header there is a link to my page of book reviews that we have done as a family on this blog. But first let me tell you a little about our love of books. At the age of about six, I decided I wanted to be a librarian. I would loan out my books to my friends and write out little tickets just like they did in the library back then. Computers were not used, there were drawers with all the tickets in alphabetical order, it was a complex but well organised system.

I didn’t realise my dream until I was in my 30s and looking for  a job near home when I was a single parent of two. The local library had a pool where you could work when they were short staffed so I put my name down. I got trained in what to do and waited for the call to work. Then they had a part time temporary job coming up and asked me if I’d like to do it. I jumped at it and loved working there. The six month contract extended 3 times so I was there nearly two years before the permanent job was offered to someone else. Yes, I did apply for the job I’d been doing for nearly two years but they decided that some young girl with no experience had given a better interview. I left bitterly.

But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because just a few months later I landed a fabulous job in a Music library at the local university. I loved every minute I worked there. 

Books, books  and books

Let’s start with graphic books, some would say they were like comics but they are often much more artistic and people read them for the art. My older children were ‘into’ Manga from their early teens and still buy them regularly. Now Star is enjoying them too. I was introduced to the wonderful Terry Pratchett by a graphic novel, but if I’m honest, I prefer just reading because the graphics slow down the story and I’m too impatient.

When I worked in the public library, if you wanted an audio book you had to loan a box full of cassettes. (Yes, I’m THAT old!) But now I can listen to books on my phone, or kindle and I love them! 

The Little Man still loves his Picture books even though he’s getting a little old for them now. I have to admit though,  I love reading them with him, especially rhyming books like Julia Donaldson. We even have some favourite picture books from when my older kids were young, on of Which is Mama, Papa and Baby Joe. I never tire of the weird and wonderful things you can find in the illustrations of this book. Some of the used copies on Amazon go for a huge price, my copy is over 20 years old but I couldn’t bear to part with it. 

What we are Reading Now

Star loves her Warrior Cats and she has already completed two series. I remember reading the first book with her and it’s an amazing series all based around feral cats and how they survive. 

Boo is also reading Warrior Cats but she is also a fan of Michael Morpurgo, and loves The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

The Little Man has recently read Kid Normal with me as part of his reading at home and we both enjoyed it. If I was to pick one of his favourite picture books though it would have to be Mr Big.

I’ve been getting through tons of books myself lately, most of which you can read in the ‘Our Library’ link above. One of my favourites lately though has been Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading over on the #Blogtober18 linky.

#Blogtober18
Mix It Up Linky

My Sunday Photo 7th October 2018

Crash

Two cars that have been involved in a collision.

My photo this week was planned and I was going to write my post yesterday afternoon. However, things don’t always turn out as planned.

Yesterday we took the Little Man to buy his school uniform for his new school that he is starting on Monday. The day was going really well until we were almost home. 

Graham was waiting to turn right into a street just two minutes away from home when suddenly we felt a huge bump and the car was shunted from behind by someone who hadn’t noticed we were stationary. It was a scary experience and at first I hadn’t realised what had happened other than my pain was increased by ten.

The Little Man was sobbing in the back seat but I couldn’t move so I had to comfort him with words. It seemed only a few minutes before I was being fitted with a collar and helped out of the car onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. Thankfully, the Little Man was okay.

Nobody was seriously hurt.

Taking stock this morning we are feeling lucky that nobody was seriously hurt. The lady driver of the other car was okay, saved by her airbag. And myself, Graham and the Little Man escaped with whiplash and bruises. I can’t weight bear on my left leg but I don’t know why. The hospital were not sure how to treat me as I had gone into spasm and was completely stiff. They couldn’t tell if I had any minor injuries but were confident that I had no major injuries so sent me home with leaflets. 

Bernard, the car, suffered greatly and I’m not sure he’ll be roadworthy again. Thankfully, my wheelchair, which was in the boot, has survived the impact. 

So, I put my chosen photo on hold and decided to share some pics that Graham took at the scene.

Have you ever been in a crash?

Photalife
Sunday Snap

Back to School

The prompt for today’s Blogtober is Education, which is highly appropriate for me as I have some exciting news.

However, I used Education as my word of the week just a few weeks ago so this week I’m using School! 

school, #blogtober18 #keepingitreal #wordoftheweek. Writing on a white background with a row of coloured pencils.

Exciting News

Yesterday we went to visit a new school for the Little Man and he will be starting on Monday! It’s a little bit further away than I’d hoped, but it’s a really good school and it seems perfect for the Little Man.  The distance is no problem in the car, but if I had to fetch him for any reason I’d have to catch the bus. A scary prospect, but not impossible. I also have a friend who lives nearby with a child in the same school, so we could travel together.

The Little Man is really excited, he’s been to see his new classroom and teacher and recognised a couple of faces of children he’s been to school with before. (A lot of children have left his previous school.) 

I know it will be best for him but a part of me is feeling sad. I’ve really enjoyed teaching him, we’ve had so much one to one time together. I also like learning and teaching so it’s been really enjoyable for me. It’ll be sad waving him off again in the morning and not seeing him all day. He is my baby after all. 

Other News

Star was sent home from school after falling up the stairs again. She really need to be more careful. She was okay, just a little sore, but she hurt her shoulder, which then caused her neck to hurt. 

On the morning she’d been complaining about her neck being sore so hurting it more was not good. She also complained about her jaw (she has TMJ disorder) so I’d given her a couple of ibuprofen. I’d guessed it wasn’t going to be a good day at school, but I didn’t expect another fall. 

Thankfully, Star’s school is really good with her and they know it’s best to send her home rather than make her stay at school with any issues like this. With her EDS and surgery, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Thankfully, we didn’t think it necessary for a trip to A&E. 

So that’s my week, what have you been up to?

The Reading Residence
Debs Random Writings
#Blogtober18

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.