My eldest grandson, Charlie, is about to turn 18 and our family is celebrating another milestone.
Milestones always make me nostalgic. On his birthday I’ll think of the day I was hovering by the phone for news of our Robert’s wife, Sarah, from hospital, answering the life-changing call and shouting upstairs to my husband Colin: “It’s a boy!”
Within an hour we’d packed our bags and were on the way to Leicester, talking along the way about being immensely proud to be grandparents but still feeling like teens in our minds.
This bank holiday I’ll relive the days when a Monday off saw a crowd of us girls get the train to Rhyl, buy five warm, sugary doughnuts for a shilling as soon as we arrived then spend the rest of the day at the fairground.
Our only aim back then was to one day have enough money to buy new clothes each Saturday in Liverpool before going dancing that night.
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As my mum grew in to her old age, she said she wouldn’t mind dying but there was always something to hang on for. She was desperate to see my sons Jonathan and Robert get married. I’m so glad she enjoyed their weddings and the thrill of having three beautiful great grandchildren.
Seeing my grandkids grow up is my biggest wish. And I have some wilder dreams too.
I’d love to go down the zip wire in Penrhyn slate quarry, near Bethesda, whizzing down as fast as I could and screaming “weeee!” the whole way. I daydream about walking up a mountain to enjoy the views, the quiet and a flask of coffee.
And I always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon and look down over the Welsh valleys. If a double gust of wind came, I hope I’d land somewhere where people were having their breakfast and I’d say: “Might you have a spare bacon bap, please?”
But zip wires, mountain tops and hot air balloons are out of reach now because my brain says I’m in my 30s but my bones insist I’m in my 90s. My dreams live on but my body’s given up.
So if there’s something you want to do, don’t put it off. Do it now. Don’t look back at things you should have done. Celebrate every anniversary, enjoy every family occasion, revel in every day spent with friends and do your best to meet your milestones while you can.
Colin and I spent years driving up and down motorways watching our Robert play football, planning to visit all the lovely places we passed when he retired. We looked to our future without seeing his Alzheimer’s, which took hold when he was 57 and took his life at 63. Everything goes so fast. When we’re young and take out mortgages over 25 years, we never think we’ll be able to pay it and cannot imagine ourselves so far in the future.
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Our mortgage was £29 a month which was a fortune in the days when a weekly shop was five pounds. But the years flew, sacrifices were made, the mortgage was paid off and we had no idea where the time went.
So I’m proud to be here to see Charlie turn 18 and even prouder of the lovely young man he has become. I’m also proud of something I did this week: I only ate half a bag of wine gums and not the lot. Let’s not mention the five Lindt chocolate ducks (but they were only small).
I’m staying in to do my Duty
I am hooked on Line of Duty, even though it moves so fast I have to watch it twice then ask my eldest son, Jonathan, to talk me through it all.
I don’t know who’s a goodie and who’s a baddie, and I’ve no idea what all the initials mean. But I love the drama and clinging to the sofa cushions in suspense. Though we’re all desperate to get out, when it’s on I’m staying in.
But I hope there’s not another series as I can’t bear the wait between episodes.
That Alexa’s a real so and so
Alexa is getting cheekier. First thing each morning I come downstairs, put the kettle on, throw open the back door to let fresh air in the house and say: “Alexa, play the BBC news please.” But one day this week, I couldn’t say “BBC news” because I was interrupted by a coughing fit and Alexa said: “I don’t know that one.”
Such an attitude on her.
One last tip… be nice to your waiter
When the only view I’ve seen for endless months has been through my windows, it’s wonderful to see my street come alive again.
I see dressed-up couples going out, the young lad on his bike again, workmen coming to do jobs on people’s houses and dog-walkers returning.
I’m still anxious about going out and not used to hustle and bustle, so I’m going to take one day at a time.
I hope everyone visiting shops and restaurants remembers staff have had the stress of not being in work for months. I hope it means they’re more patient and less likely to complain. I’m going to tip everyone who’s kind to me because they’ve lost so much pay. As customers it’s our job to tell them we appreciate theirs.
No to oglebox..
The loving way Giles looks at Mary, and the Malone family’s quick fire one-liners make Gogglebox one of my favourite shows on TV.
But I wish it wouldn’t flash up my least favourite show: Naked Attraction.
It’s so embarrassing it makes me want to leave the room. Maybe I’m old fashioned and attitudes have shifted.
But seeing such things on television tells me not everything’s changed for the better. Far nicer to switch to black and white films on the TCM movies channel and revisit the days when the telly had no sex, no violence and no bad language.
PM’s wallpaper is far too busy for me
In all the hoo-ha about what Boris did and didn’t say about lockdown, and what he did and didn’t pay for his flat redecoration, I have a question: is it the fashion now to have busy printed sofas matching just as busy wallpaper?
If so, I don’t care. There’s far too much going on with that for my liking. I’ll stick with my calm and neutral magnolia, thank you.
Brave Jimi the pride of Britain
I am too scared to imagine the pain felt by the parents of Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, the young man who died after jumping in the River Thames at midnight to save a woman.
I just hope it brings them some comfort to see how moved the nation is to hear of their brave, selfless, kind son who must have been very special inside.
Don’t just give Jimi the George Cross, give him every award going. He has made us all proud to be British.
My casual look is a cut above
The man who comes to cut the lawn always visits my house last because he says he likes to have a cup of tea, a sit down and a chat outside.
This week he clapped eyes at me and said: “I’ve never seen a long fleece before.”
I hadn’t the heart to tell him it was my dressing gown.
This week I included a crustless quiche on my shopping list but my daughter-in-law Kim said: “There were no quiches so I bought you a frittata.”
I said: “Who?”
I have never heard of a frittata, never mind eaten one. It’s still in my fridge and getting dangerously close to its sell by date.
So I’ll give it a go and have my packet of Rennies by the side of my plate.