Moving House

Happy Easter everyone!

My family has never really celebrated Easter per se, but we always had Easter eggs and roast lamb for dinner. This year, Easter has been a bit of an afterthought. The reason is I’ve been too busy trying to box up the entire contents of my dad’s old house in preparation for my first ever home.

Yes, after years of dreaming about it, my partner and I have finally found a place of our own. From the moment we walked through the door we were sold and I am super excited about moving in. Truth be told, I’ve gone a bit mad, ordering a tonne of new things – curtains, blinds, carpets, sofa… My bank balance is probably never going to recover especially now I have to pay bills and rent.

Over the years I’ve moved house a few times, but I’ve never had to organise anything before. Mum and dad always took care of hiring the removal men, calling up energy companies to transfer address and take meter readings. This is the first time I’ve had to do all that on my own and let me tell you it’s scary. I keep dissolving into panic attacks wondering if we will be able to get power set up in time for the move and how I’m going to survive without internet for goodness knows how long. First world problems, I know.

One of the biggest challenges moving has presented so far is how to fit all my stuff into the new flat. Not only do I have all my worldly possessions, my partner has his and I have all my parents’ belongings. I’m moving from a two-double-bedroom, relatively roomy bungalow to a modern flat with an admittedly huge lounge but a tiny everything else. We can only just fit a double bed in the master bedroom and our second room will fit a single at a push. There is no storage except for one cupboard and I have a lot of stuff.

I’ve tried to be good, throwing out as much as I can, but things like old photographs and medals my parents won are too precious to part with. Trying to work out how I am going to squeeze it all into the flat is giving me nightmares. How do people downsize?

I know I’m moaning and I don’t mean to sound negative. We both really like the flat and can’t wait to move in. It’s the actual moving bit that sucks. Does anyone else feel like this when moving house or am I just being precious? Deep down I know that once we’ve moved in and unpacked all this stress and frantic cramming of things into boxes will all be worth it. In the meantime, I’ll just have to binge on chocolate to get through. Well, it is Easter after all. Those chocolate eggs are not going to eat themselves.

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My Dad

Yesterday I said goodbye to my dad. He passed away on the 8th of January, exactly a year and four days after my mum died. It was very sudden, but when I look back I should have seen it coming.

My dad was 80. He was old and he had been going slowly downhill. For much of the latter half of 2017, he refused to leave the house. He stopped eating, sat about in his pyjamas all day and had trouble sleeping. We thought maybe he had depression. It turns out he was slowly fading away.

On the day he died, we found out that dad had bladder cancer. He hadn’t told us about it. Ironically, that wasn’t what killed him. On the anniversary of my mum’s death, I received a call from the hospital to say he had been admitted with rectal bleeding. Dad had a massive ulcer in his bowel which caused a major haemorrhage. As dad was a smoker, his lungs were in such a weak state that the doctors did not think he would survive being put under anaesthetic. They were therefore unable to operate on the ulcer. The only option was to administer medicine orally and hope it stopped the bleeding.

At first it seemed to be working. The bleeding stopped for a couple of days and dad was a lot more like his old self. When we visited him he was laughing and joking and a lot more talkative than he had been in months. Then, on the Sunday evening he started to bleed again. On the Monday I received a call from the hospital telling me that the bleeding was continuing and dad was getting worse. By the time I got to the hospital the doctors were unable to do anything further. An hour later he slipped away.

Growing up, I always knew I would not have my dad around for a long time. He was 50 when I was born, so there was always the risk that I would lose him young. One Christmas, when I was 19, we thought we had lost him when he collapsed in the middle of Christmas dinner. I knew he was old and he was getting frail, but I still hoped to have him around a few more years.

You are never ready to lose a parent. I know I am lucky; I had my mum for 29 years and my dad for 30 years of my life. Some people lose their parents when they are just children. At least I have lots of happy memories that I can always cherish. I know I am lucky, and yet I feel very unlucky to have lost them just a year apart.

Since he died, I have learned things about my dad that I didn’t know. For instance, I have learned that he was a welder for a time before he met my mum. I have also learned that when he was at school, he was reported to have an IQ of 160. Dad was incredibly clever and until very recently he could solve the hardest of Sudoku puzzles. His general knowledge was brilliant and he was an avid reader until mum took ill.

Sport was one of dad’s passions and he enjoyed playing golf and rugby when he was a young man. He was a member of the amateur dramatics when he was in his 20s and he had a flair for the theatrical right up to the end, reciting funny quotes and anecdotes. His sense of humour was dry and he knew how to make a funny speech. I can only imagine what his speech would have been like at my wedding.

Dad and I didn’t always have the best relationship. We are very similar and when I was younger I was rather mean to him. I just hope he knew how much he meant to me. Despite my moods, he always saw me as his little girl and he tried to protect me right up until the last. That is why he didn’t tell me about the cancer. I just wish we had spotted the signs of his deteriorating health, but perhaps we just didn’t want to admit to ourselves that he was ill.

It is very strange to think that both my parents are gone. I am lucky, however, to have so many happy memories of them both. It was always the three of us against the world and I will cherish every special occasion, all the days spent laughing and talking and cooking together. My parents were wonderful. They always supported me and encouraged me. They knew I could achieve whatever I put my mind to and I got as far I as I have because of their belief in me. When I lost all confidence, they sheltered me until I found my feet again. When I was stressed, they promised that things would get better. When I worried that I would never find anyone to share my life with, they assured me I would.

Now I have to stand on my own two feet. I just hope I can make them both proud of me. Mum, Dad, I love you both so very much. I hope you know that and I hope you know that you will always be in my heart and my thoughts.

 

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all have had a great start to 2018 so far. While real life is slowly taking over again, I have another few days off work and I thought I would use this time to look back at my wish list from last year and think about the things I want to achieve in the next 12 months.

In 2017 instead of setting resolutions or goals for myself, I decided to have a wish list of things I’d like to do. I’ve set goals in the past and usually find that I rarely achieve them. This may be because some are a bit too ambitious or are based on outside factors. At any rate, I found the wish list a much simpler set of ideas to aim towards and looking back over it, I think I managed to do almost everything on the list.

The first point was to rediscover my love of books and reading, and I certainly did that. I read a lot more in 2017 compared to 2016 and there were so many books that rekindled my love of literature.

My second point on the wish list was to take more photos and I think I achieved this. The camera went on pretty much every outing I had last year and I have lots of albums on my laptop filled with my adventures.

Next on the list was doing the things I wanted to do. In the past I have always held back from certain things due to fear and anxiety. Last year I decided that life was too short and I did tick off a lot of the things I wanted to do such as going to YALC and Friends Fest and finally having a holiday abroad.

One area in which I have been less successful is worrying less about getting older. Having turned 30 in 2017, I do feel conscious of getting older. Social media has a lot to answer for as well. It can be difficult when you see people achieving life goals when you don’t feel like you’ve done anything of note. This is definitely something I need to work on in 2018.

The wish to travel was one point I did succeed with, although I didn’t go to too many places. As well as the holiday to Copenhagen, there were a couple of visits to London, a day out to St Andrews and Anstruther and a day in Kelso. Hopefully in 2018 I can add to my list of new places to visit.

Last on the wish list was to cherish the people I love. I hope I have done this. Certainly I try to spend as much time with my dad as I can, especially now he is old and in poor health. It can be easy to take our family for granted and I do sometimes feel that I am guilty of this.

2017 was a strange year, one that certainly changed me as a person. In 2018, I want to build on the things I did achieve last year and work on the areas where I wasn’t so successful. My wish list is as follows:

  • I want to travel more, be that within the UK or abroad
  • I want to continue to read more frequently
  • I want to learn to care less what other people think of me
  • I want to make more use of my free time
  • I want to exercise more, even if it is just going for a walk or a swim
  • I want to spend more time with my loved ones

There are other, ‘bigger’ things I could add to my wish list, such as getting our own place or advancing in my career, but I feel these are goals that are out with my control and likely to put too much pressure on me. If there’s one thing I learned in 2017 it is that you have to enjoy life and not worry too much about the big things. As my mum always used to say, what’s for you will not go by you.

Have you set goals for 2018 yet? If you have, I wish you all the best in achieving them. Here’s to making 2018 a memorable year!

2017: A Year in Pictures

Well it’s less than 2 hours until midnight and here I am living it up, looking through all the photos I took over the past 12 months. There’s something about New Year that always brings out the sentimental side of me and so I thought, for my final blog post of 2017, I would post my favourite picture from each month of the year to show myself that while a lot of rubbish things happened in 2017, it wasn’t all bad.

January

In January we celebrated three years as a couple with a mini break to Glasgow. For once the Scottish weather was on our side and although it was cold it was sunny and the city looked lovely. Continue reading “2017: A Year in Pictures”

2017: A Year in Review

Christmas is over and New Year is right around the corner. Am I alone in feeling like 2017 has whizzed by? It honestly seems like Christmas 2016 was only a few weeks ago.

To be honest, I always find the period between Christmas and New Year to be a bit odd. Maybe it’s because half the shops are still closed and many people are off work, but it feels like real life is on pause. Don’t get me wrong – I am so happy to be on holiday for two weeks. Not having to get up at stupid o’clock and being able to sit and watch Netflix and read all day is bliss. I do find, however, that I tend to get a bit down after Christmas. Maybe that’s why we all tend to get reflective at this time of the year.

2017 was not a good year, however, much as I’d like to, I can’t say it was the worst year of my life. It was a very topsy-turvy year, one that brought lots of significant events that have changed my life in big and small ways. There has been a lot of sadness, grief and frustration. On the other hand, 2017 was the year I ticked off one major thing from my bucket list – going abroad for the first time. Continue reading “2017: A Year in Review”

The Big 3.0

This coming Friday I will turn 30. To say I am not thrilled at the prospect would be an understatement.

It seems like only yesterday I was turning 21. Oh, how young and hopeful I was back then. The years were stretching before me, filled with possibilities. I could be anything I wanted to be.

Okay, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic and I am sure there will be those of you who will be of the mindset that you can be anything you want to be no matter what age you are. Carpe diem and all that. The only thing holding you back is you.

Yes, it is true that life is what you make it. Unfortunately, it is also true that when you are a woman and of a certain age there are also certain expectations of you. By the time you reach 30 you are expected to have a place of your own (ha!), be on your way to engaged or married and be progressing well in your career.

Maybe these are old-fashioned views, but I certainly still feel like they apply to my life. It does not help that when I log onto Facebook another person from school has either bought their first home, got engaged or announced they are pregnant. After a while you do start looking at your own life and thinking, where did I go wrong?

I know I should not compare myself to others. It is not healthy and the sensible part of my brain does acknowledge that everyone is different. No two lives follow the same trajectory. And life really isn’t all that bad.

My twenties were a mixed bag, but I am sure everyone feels the same. I had some wonderful highs and some terrible lows. Crucially, I have made achievements in the last ten years. They may be small ones but they still matter. In the last decade I have successfully completed two degrees, met some amazing people who I think myself lucky to call my friends, got a good job and met an amazing man who makes every day so much better (corny, yes, but it’s true).#

I may not have ticked off many of the ‘big’ life goals, but I guess that makes the prospect of my thirties more exciting. There are still lots of things left on my bucket list and I will hopefully tick many of them off in the next ten years. Age is just a number. We should not feel defined by it. I may be saying adieu to my twenties, however I will continue to read YA, to express my love for Harry Potter/Disney/Pusheen through t-shirts and merchandise and to listen to pop songs. My passion for these things doesn’t have to change because I am turning 30. In reality, life won’t change. As you grow older you do change, but this happens in slowly, over the course of months and years. I know I won’t be the same person I am now in another ten years’ time, however that will be down to more life experience.

Goodbye twenties, it was (mostly) fun. Here’s to you, thirties. Let’s see what adventures you have in store for me.

Reasons I Love Autumn

Happy September everyone!

Can you believe how quickly this year is speeding by? Tomorrow is the start of Freshers’ Week but it only feels like the students broke up for the summer last week. My elders were forever saying to me when I was a child that the years fly by the older you get, and I now totally understand what they meant. It is less than 7 weeks until I turn 30! How did that even happen?

Anyway, I digress. September may mean back to school and university, but it also means that autumn is upon us. And it just so happens that autumn is my favourite season. Yes, I like summer. I like the long days and getting up in the daylight and being able to eat out till 9.30pm and going to the beach and eating ice cream, but…well, I haven’t actually been able to do any of those things this year. Summer has well and truly bypassed Scotland. And even if I had done all those things, they just don’t compare to all the great things autumn signifies.

Like what, I hear you ask? Well, here are my reasons why I think autumn is the best.

Beautiful Colours

I simply love, love, love how colourful autumn is. All the golds, amber, reds, yellows, browns…everywhere you look there is colour. As a lover of all things pretty and photographic, I can’t help but sigh over autumn scenery. Once the leaves turn it is like the world is gifting photographers with a ready-made canvas. Nothing can rival an autumn forest with a blue sky and fluffy clouds. Whenever I look back at our photos from Aberfeldy in October 2015, I am struck again by how breath-taking autumn is. Autumn is basically nature showing off, a bit like the male peacock when he fans out his tail feathers. Continue reading “Reasons I Love Autumn”