I just called to say I love you…

Happy Humpday! Yesterday morning, as I was bleary eyed and bedraggled and trying to get dressed in the dark, my husband phoned from work just to tell me he loves me. Simple, but effective, it not only earned him major husband points, it also put a big smile on my face and set me up for a super happy day 🙂

Daffodils

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I love daffodils. To me they are the sign that spring is really here. I love that daffodils can come in so many varieties but their vivid yellow stands out amongst the greens and browns of the winter. Daffodils are also one of the few flowers that don’t make me get hayfever! They look amazing when there are hundreds together, like a yellow carpet under the bare trees. But equally they are stunning in a small group or as a single bloom. Daffodils always make me smile 🙂 These photos are some I took last weekend when mum and I went for a Mother’s Day walk in the sunshine.

A happy goodbye?

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On Wednesday we said our final goodbyes to Granny. Not very happy I can hear you saying but surprisingly there was happiness to be found, even at such an occasion. In the car on the way to the crematorium we sat and chatted about our memories of Granny. My cousin and I remembered ‘pink rabbit’ which was our favourite, and always requested, pudding. It’s  actually pink blancmange done in Granny’s infamous rabbit mould. We loved it! We talked about baking with Granny, standing precariously on a stool by the work top wearing and oversize apron. She taught me how to make pastry for micne pies and jam tarts and I still use her recipe. I remember lying on the rug in front of the fire doing jigsaws. And all the clothes she used to knit for my dolls. We talked about her garden and how she loved it. And then, just as we turned into the crematorium we were silenced. Not in grief as you might imagine but by the beauty. The driveway is surrounded by woodland and graves and the whole place was like a carpet of snowdrops and early crocuses. Granny would have loved it. She loved all plant she but especially spring flowers.

During the service of course there were tears, but there was laughter too. We laughed as Gareth talked about Granny going for a walk with Joshua (her great grandson) on Boxing Day to ‘test their new wheels’. He on his new scooter, she with her first walking frame – aged 99 and three quarters.

We returned to her care home to toast her wonderful life. All 100 years and 10 days of it. And right at the end, one of her carers was looking through the family photos with us and said she had something to show us. She produced a short video clip taken only a few short weeks ago on one of the home’s regular outings. Granny was at the garden centre and there she was bright as a button, walking stick in hand, dancing along and laughing out loud to a giant musical, swaying Christmas tree! Not bad for almost a hundred!

And so, despite the occasion, we left with smiles on our faces.

Memories

Today’s hump day happiness is unashamedly a day late! It was just too tired to post it yesterday! Yesterday I spent the day with my parents and we spent most of the day looking over old photographs and talking about memories. This was prompted by the death of my Granny recently – a sad event yes but one that has also led to happy reminiscing. These are three of my favourite photos from my early childhood.The first is me sat on the swings in my local park. It was about a twenty minute walk from my childhood home and i spent hours and hours there growing up. Playing on the swings and the enormous slide – well enormous when I was that age! Racing across the wide expanse of grass whilst playing with our dogs. Paddling in the river, fishing for minnows and crayfish and playing poohsticks over the wobbly footbridge. Walking in the cool shade of the trees and carefully jumping across the stepping stones in the river. I can remember the park in all seasons from catkins and daffodils in the spring to bare trees and snow in the winter.

The second picture is part of a series taken by my dad when I was about a year old. The Easter Egg. The pictures show my delight and puzzlement with this strange brightly coloured box. I shook it, I bit it, I stared at it. And finally I managed to get into it (with some help I suspect!) Then there is this picture of my gleefully grasping my prize. The last picture shows me basically wearing the chocolate!

The final picture is taken on Hove seafront and I am about 2. I am gripping tight to Dad’s camera case and I’m not really sure what it is that makes me love this picture but it’s always been one of my favourites.

So today’s happy is happy memories. Far too many to write about but I am glad that I have that dilemma!

My greatest honour

One of my greatest honours is being given the title Auntie Karen to this gorgeous one. I’m an only child so I was never going to be an Auntie by rights. I can’t remember exactly when Ruby’s mum asked me but I know I welled up when I accepted the title. I can still remember the first time Ruby actually called me Auntie herself. It was in August 2012 when she would have been three and three quarters. Ruby and her mum had come to visit the Brownies on our annual pack holiday, we’d been out for the day and we were all just having a rest before dinner. Ruby was toddling around the house still full of energy and loving spending time with the ‘big girls’. There was the usual hubbub of noise in the house – inevitable with 20 odd children there! Then, across all the noise came another voice “Auntie Taren” (the ‘K’ sound came later!). Yes I admit I welled up (again).

Nothing makes me a prouder Auntie than having Ruby at Rainbows and now Brownies with me. And I still get a lump in my throat when those words come above the rest “Auntie Karen”. Ruby is eight now and is definitely growing up fast – she is beautiful, affectionate, clever and also determined, stubborn and certainly has a mind of her own! She drives me mad at times! But I love her immeasurably and she is a source of many many happy memories.

 

Gentle Giants

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This is one of my favourite photographs from a fabulous day spent at Whipsnade Zoo last summer. Giraffes are one of my favourite animals too. There is so much about them that makes me smile. The grace as they move slowly but deliberately around, contrasting with the power and speed that they have when they need it. I have been lucky enough to hand feed a giraffe and they truly are gentle giants. It’s hard not to be in awe of something whose head completely fills your car window and whose tongue is as long as your forearm, yet whose touch is so gentle and delicate. I love everything about them: from their slightly awkward angular head, to their unique coat patterns and the fuzzy little bristly mane. They have a certain humour about them too – as if whoever created them was having a joke that day. Why else would they have a coat pattern that looks as if they are wearing knee-length socks or a funny little not quite tail with a hairy bit on the end! If you didn’t have a sense of humour, why would you create an animal that can’t reach the ground without standing like this…!

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Laughter

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Laughter is generally thought to be synonymous with happiness. Certainly a good laugh can make you feel happy. And I don’t mean a half hearted chuckle. I mean a full blown belly laugh where you have tears rolling down your face, you’re not sure if you are breathing at all, your body starts to ache and you are rendered incapable of anything else at all. But how often do we actually laugh like this as an adult?  I often see children laughing with sheer joyous abandon but somehow as we grow up we lose that ability to see the sheer joy in our lives. So for my next goal I want to recapture that joy and that laughter and see the world through tears of joy rather than tears of sadness. To recapture the joy of living…

Family gathering

Mid-week happiness was easy to find this week because today we had our Christmas family get-together with my mum’s side of the family. It has long since been tradition that we meet up every Christmas and every summer with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. Sadly my grandparents are no longer with us but they used to come too and join in the madness. Over the years me and my brother have moaned about packing our things up and travelling to whichever relative was hosting ‘the do’, arriving at a house filled with noise and the hustle and bustle of people – usually stressing about the food, or the alcohol, or both. I remember when we ran out of booze one year and persuaded my uncle to drive us to find a shop that was open late. There was also the year we played Pass the Bomb in my parents’ living room and narrowly avoided smashing the telly… Then there was the time my uncle wrote a play for my mum and dad’s silver wedding anniversary and we all acted it out for them. The year that my grandad died was fairly horrendous – that involved a lot of wine and crying.

There have been so many memories created through our family gatherings – not all of them have been happy but I am really grateful that our parents made sure we kept to schedule and always met up because all of the memories I have are treasured. My crazy family is definitely one of a kind and I love them all very much. Today was no different than usual – lots of hustle and bustle, plenty of food and drink, and debates about who the last dead celebrity will be of 2016 (we’re a positive bunch). Pass the Bomb was swapped for the much safer and even more hilarious Game for Fame (less smashing things, more making a fool of yourself) and plenty more happy memories were added to the bank.