Monday, 1 April 2013

Meet the family - Squeaky

Meet Squeaky, one of our 3 cats.

He came to live with us (well my parents, at the time) about 12 years ago.  A lady up the road from us had died, and we knew that she had a huge collection (I am thinking over a dozen)of feline companions.  What happened to all the others, I'm unsure.  But Squeaky (he tends not to meow but utter a shriek/squeak instead when he wants to make his presence known) started arriving on the doorstep.

A few feeds later, and he never left the house again.  Swiftly, he moved from outside, to inside, and to my knowledge has never left the boundary of our garden/house ever since.

He's a creature of habit, loves lap-cuddles, goes somewhat crazy over any toy containing cat-nip, and his one identifiable mark is his beauty spot - a little spot next to his nose.

Last November, Squeaky became poorly.  After a few trips to the vets, an ear infection/irritation was diagnosed, and we started a long road of different ear-washes / antibiotics and steroids, given in various doses and combinations.  All seemed to help a little, but none completely eradicated the problem.

Recently we knew that we only had one option left. It was the one that we had tried to avoid, in terms of his age (he's no spring chicken...she says, pointing out the obvious...given he's cat, but anyhoo).  When the day came, I was convinced he wouldn't be coming home again.  I said my goodbyes, and accepted, in the best way I could, that we had tried everything possible to make him better.

Much to all of our surprise and delight, Squeaky came home later that day! He had sailed through the surgery!  The relief was ENORMOUS.

We're many weeks down the line since then, and Squeaky had continued to do well. He hadn't looked back since his surgery; he was happier, more agile and generally much brighter in himself.  Ok, so as a result of his surgery cancer of a gland in his ear had been identified, but it was thought and hoped that this was in many inconsequential - if we could keep on top of his ear irritation/infections, then he may well outlive the cancer anyway.

And then, out of blue, last week he suddenly looked really old.  His face looked different; weary, almost.  And we suspected he'd lost weight.  We spoke to our lovely vet, and agreed that we'd bring him in in another couple of days if we were concerned.  I hoped, that because our other cat had been through similiar surgery, that I was simply being paranoid.

But here we are, a few more days later. Squeaky has lost a lot of weight, clearly.  Having refused his usual medication in his food, and not wanting to eat at all, we are now changing our tactics of abandoning his medication altogether, and simply encouraging him to eat anything he fancies.

It's not working... yesterday he climbed feebly into the open section of the tv cabinet, went to sleep, and has barely left there since.  He is wobbly, and frail.  On the positive, when from time to time (we're trying to get the balance between reassuring him we're here but not disturbing him too much) we post a hand into the cabinet, a little furry head responds, and purrs.

He's in no distress or discomfort to our knowledge.  But equally is too feeble now to make the trip to the vets which at the best of times upsets him incredibly.

We know, instinctively, where we are heading.... While our little furry guy remains comfortable, he will stay here at home, where he is always happiest.

I wanted to write this blog post, it suddenly feels imortant to tell you about how after our house fire, I didn't sleep well in the first few days.  It could've been because of all the emotional  over-load, but part of it for sure was because when I slept in the tiny caravan by the house, a certain furry person slept in my sleeping bag with me; only disturbing me when he felt it was breakfast time by batting me on the head with his paw.  It was a happy sleeplessness... he was a wonderful and constant companion during tough times.  I could tell you also how on New Years Eve this year, we sat down with our 3 children to play a game at one point, and Squeaky nudged his way into the ring as if to say "hey, my turn next".  There's so many tales to tell, and the one, heavy-hearted reality is that since Dad died, we have only ever been the "keepers" of Squeaky.  We love him, and I hope the feeling is mutual, but he was, and still is, always Dad's baby.  We have only ever been in loco-parentis.  Much as we love him.

While we're still in positive times, I also need to talk about our vet.  In my eyes, a vet is like a GP - often several in a practice, and after a few visits, you generally identify one who you feel is right for you.  From thereon, you don't visit another GP.  Our vet has been very much the same.  It's difficult to express how reassuring it has been during our many visits with Squeaky, to know always that he is treated with great knowledge, experience, professionalism and the care that comes from being a genuine cat-lover.  Her skills extend beyond this - as parents-in-loco we have been shown support, empathy, and always a much needed element of humour, too.  It's not just our vet who's been wonderful, her colleagues have been too.  It was with great relief, as I was checking Squeaky out from his operation, that as a couple of large dogs came into the surgery the receptionists beckoned me to pass Squeaks to them, to keep him from being worried.  On every level, I know that the minute any of our furry family enter the vets' surgery, their needs will be met.

I feel bad that Squeaky's first appearance in my blog is probably going to be his last, too.  But right now, he's here.  He's very much an important member of the family.  It just so happens that he's a furry member, and a very poorly furry member too.

Squeaky/Squeaks/Squeaky-Woo-Woo... I hope you have SO much more time with us....but if you don't, I hope you know how loved you are; how much your amazing vet has tried to help you..most of all right now I hope that whatever time there is to come for you is comfortable. X

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Night cream is for...crisps

Something a little unpredicted fell into my shopping basket today.  It has crossed my mind for a while now to make that big leap; I have tried to resist it, but obviously my subconscious mind took hold over my conscious mind today.

I work in an office.. and as with every office I've ever known, it can be a dry environment; I talk a lot (it's my job to do so!) and since working there I have noticed my skin has been quite dry.

I've tried the obvious tricks... a bit of fresh air, moisturising regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, etc.  Yet still, my face especially feels dry.

So today I became the owner of one small jar of night cream.

For the record, for anyone who happens to visit my house and spot my little blue pot by my bedside (why are they always blue?)..... my reason for having it there is simply because I often get hungry in the night and turn to crisps.  Any seasoned crisp-muncher needs a dip.... what more can I say....

I don't remember my Mum ever having "night cream".  I do, however, vividly remember my Nan having some.

Crisps, crisps is my reason..... we'll say no more on this matter....

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Good, The Sad, and The Grubby

So it's been Mothers' Day here... and what does that mean?  Chance to be thankful for all that our mothers have done and do for us... and chance for those of us who have children, to enjoy, in whatever form it comes, their thanks.

I imagine that there have been treats-a-plenty across the land.  I am guessing, also, that there will have been varying levels of anti-climax, and for some, much sadness too.

The sadness thing in particular strikes a chord with me... I thought of several who have lost children and/or mothers, and hope that each of these friends of mine found their way through the day, despite their sadness.

For anyone interested, here are some snapshots of our day....

I had a lie-in until almost lunchtime!  I was awake long before then, but made the most of the opportunity to laze in bed...bliss!

My giggling brood brought me breakfast, or should that be brunch, in bed, and eagerly handed me their gifts with so much pride and enthusiasm that I couldn't help but smile.
There were some chocolates....

Which not-so-mysteriously quickly disappeared....

And some sweet peas, which the twins were more than happy to help me plant, and is the reason that they had an un-planned "swim" in the bath....

We also went to the Church.  The twins wished Polly, Granny & Grandad a happy anniversary (!) and I wished my Mum a happy Mothers' Day, and hoped that she wouldn't mind sharing her flowers with Polly and my Dad, too.

It was a lovely day.  I know that despite the sadness that was felt and carefully "filed", I am very, very fortunate.

I hope everyone reading this had a good day, too... Katie x

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The MAD Blog Awards

It has come as a big surprise that I have found myself nominated for a MAD Blog Award, in the category of "Best New Blog".

I have heard of the Blog Awards previously, but have always thought them to be for much larger blogs.  I am extremely flattered that someone "out there" has chosen my blog as their favourite new one!

In order to participate in the nominations process, I need to share this news with the people who read my blog, along with details of how to vote.

If you would like to nominate my blog (which is ) - or any other for that matter - for a MAD Blog Award, please visit their website by clicking here, where you will also find details of lots and lots of other blogs to read if that takes your fancy!

Thanks very much.... award or no award, it's always lovely to think that someone, somewhere enjoys reading my wafflings... which makes writing them feel even more special.

MAD Blog Awards

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Bubbles from Ghana... ish!

I'd like to share with you a very special digital postcard that I have not long received.  Had I been more organised, and requested it sooner, it would've winged it's way to me all the way from Ghana.  Hence the "ish" - the photo and postcard was created there, but sent once home.  I feel very honoured, despite my late request, to have been sent the postcard and photo that you can see below.

Recently, an inspirational group of Bloggers (Annie from Mammasaurus, T from MummyBarrow, and Penny from Alexander Residence ) decided not simply to blog or tweet or write on facebook about the amazing causes that Comic Relief supports.  They decided instead, to form #TeamHonk, and to visit one of the many places that needs and benefits from the help of Comic Relief, to see for themselves how vital this work is, and to (through blogging and other social media) raise the profile of those who need support, and all-importantly, help raise money too.

This photo was taken at the Virtuous Women's Bakery in Accra, where women make, bake and sell bread to earn money and make themselves financially independent. This benefits a large number of families including single mothers to support themselves. Here you see Penny blowing bubbles to the children in the adjoining nursery which the mothers themselves set up for their children to play safely whilst they work. They loved bubbles!

This is a digital postcard sent from TeamHonk ( ) during their travels with Comic Relief in Ghana celebrating #goodwork.
For the past 25 years the money raised through Red Nose Day has been changing the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Let’s Keep Up the Good Work. Find out how at
For other digital postcards please do check out the linky on

Thank you ladies, for your postcard and for giving me this opportunity to share the #goodwork that #TeamHonk has been doing. x

Friday, 8 February 2013

3 Years

Sunday is 3 years since our brave and beautiful Angel, Polly, was born forever sleeping. 

We always try to celebrate her special day (known in our house as Polly Day) with the twins, and of course now with little M too.  Nothing spectacular; usually a little day trip and a birthday party tea involving chocolate cake!  Much the same as we would’ve done with Polly, had she been here with us. 

For the children, Polly Day is a special treat and it is, I hope, an opportunity to think about and associate Polly with fun and happiness, as opposed the reality, which is the death of their sister.  For us, it is a chance to surround our pain with happiness and laughter and a reminder of why and how we can carry on despite our broken hearts.
The urge and the need to cuddle her feels painful and I cannot believe it is 3 years since my last cuddle with her.  It feels like many, many years ago…. it also feels just like it was yesterday.  I miss all that she was to us in the short time we knew her; I miss all that she would, could and should  have been.

Fly high and play lots, our beautiful baby Polly. X

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My Experience Of Goodwill (continued)

This blog post is continued from The Season Of Goodwill Part 1

The fire took hold of the house very quickly.  By the time the fire service arrived, we had heard windows smashing and could see smoke pouring through the house and roof.  A quick risk assessment and initial attempt to tackle the fire resulted in more fire crews being called in from neighbouring counties to help. There was no quibbling.. this was, by anyone's description, a major house fire.

We were informed that when it was next safe for the crews to return inside (they had to withdraw at one point due to the ferocity of the fire), that on the basis that they were not confident of being able to save the house, they would perform one salvage mission - we could direct them to something we would want to save, if possible. Thanking my lucky stars that we had started putting precious items of our parents (Mum's wedding dress, some letters between our parents from their "courting" days, etc!) in a trunk to look through properly at a later stage, we asked them to try and bring the trunk out for us.  They did...and the Lead Fire Officer's response was "right, now we need to do what I was actually referring to, and what most people would've opted to save first - sensible things, like perhaps phones, car keys and money"... a surreal moment where we all had a chuckle, and where I will always appreciate the understanding of how precious that trunk was/is to us, and the risks taken in order to save it.

In between the salvage operations and the continuing effort to keep the fire under control, there were several occasions on which the fire staff had to retreat.  At one point, the lawn mower petrol cannister exploded in the shed next to the house - this explosion was ferocious and I recall seeing the explosion and hearing it in the distance, which was an incredibly bizarre experience.  After this, a friend of mine contacted me, on my Facebook page, to say she heard the explosion from the other side of the village.

But while this was happening, all around us neighbours, whether known to us or not, were helping out. From those who ran hose-reels up and down the road for the fire service, or directed traffic; the neighbour who I'd barely met at that point, who took in the twins; the people who realising I had no shoes on, or jumper, or any nappies for the children, or blankets, brought their own for us. Who gave us hot drinks; who told us to call them immediately if we needed anything.  Who stayed there by our sides, long after the strictly needed to do so.

The fire crews remained at the house until the next morning, and whilst the four walls of the house were still standing, everything inside including the roof had either been obliterated or wrecked by heat, smoke or water.   All of our parent's possessions and so many of ours too, including every family photo ever taken. It was, I hate to admit, a fairly bleak reality.. it probably would've been at the best of times, but in the recent losses, seemed even more so.

We'd been instructed to ring the insurers the night of the fire, but were only able to make a guess as to who the insurers might be.  A phonecall to who we suspected might be the right insurers required the policy numbers to start the procedure of making the house safe.  And we had no idea of the policy number.

Once we'd managed to ascertain who the insurers were, we then discovered there was a problem with the insurance - our names had been put on the insurance by Dad's solicitor, but the insurance not changed into our names fully, so that it was our own insurance.  There was confusion, concern, and the start of several interviews and visits from forensic teams, loss adjusters, insurance personnel and so on. It was a relief that all who visited very quickly told us that there was no suspicion of foul-play, but that we equally needed to run through the events leading up to the fire in order to try and ascertain the cause. I found myself repeating the story of the previous 6 weeks to various professionals over and over again, loathing each time being forced to reveal the private details of my heartbreak to strangers.

Meanwhile, the kindness around us continued - it took several days to make the house safe in terms of simply boarding it up and securing it; during this time my brother and I stayed and slept in a small caravan by the side of the house.  One of us slept on the floor; one of the bed - we took it in turns. But while we were doing this, neighbours gave us spare keys to their own homes, brought us flasks of hot water, and family bought us food.

We were still without basic clothes and necessities.  I did drive, at one point, to a supermarket, to try and buy the twins some pj's.  But once there I completely forgot the sizes of H and L, and after staring in an exhausted daze for some time at the choices, I returned back to the house with nothing, unable to concentrate, focus or find the energy to make a decision. Where ordinarily I might have purchased several items in different sizes, the logistics, at that moment, of buying pj's for the children was just a step too far for me to cope with.

But then...then came the next stage of the goodwill shown  to us.  Parcels and packages started arrived at the house, containing teddies for the twins, or clothes.  Two friends from an inspiring, hugely supportive and kind larger group of friends arranged a collection, and co-ordinated other friends sending boxes of clothes, toys and essentials, not just for the twins, but for us too.  A friend sold cards and gave all the money she made to us; my work colleagues had a collection for us to treat the twins to something special (which later became a trampoline, once we were in new temporary accommodation).  People rang, texted and showed us all so much love... including one amazing friend who texted me virtually every day for almost a year, despite me often not replying to her (you know who you are!).  Another friend did an exhausting sponsored swim, donating some of the money raised to a heart charity, in memory of Polly.  And there were more, many more acts of kindness, generosity and support shown to us.  Where they could, so very many people around us, whether known, or not known personally by us at that point, helped us out.

We'll skip forward now...10 months later, the repair work was complete - the house had been saved, and it was a wonderful, wonderful day, the day we came back home.  In my mental state around that time, I'm not entirely sure that I said thank you enough, in fact, I'm absolutely certain that I didn't, to all the amazing people who helped us out, when we truly needed it.  What I do know, and hope they do too, is that I and my family are so incredibly grateful.  It was a difficult run of events to deal with and get through, and it was only, I'm absolutely sure, because we had such incredible support from those around us...we are very, very fortunate.  The process of dealing with events is ongoing... and you know, I'm a "normal" person as in, I have pride & dignity... I would've never ever shouted out "I need help"... yet somehow, when I needed, and at points depended entirely upon, was there, in abundance.

So you see, goodwill isn't just confined to a season.  This, I can confirm.

To each and every one of you who helped us out, whether practically or mentally, and who showed us goodwill.....

Thank you, always. XX