29 Nov 2014

"What'll it be, lass?"

I've been toying with whether or not to write this post for a while and I've decided that, although it's personal (or perhaps, because it's personal, this is my blog - a record of me and my experiences - afterall), I want to talk about her.

A few weeks ago my grandmother passed away. She fell over at home, broke her pelvis and was recovering from a successful operation in Norwich hospital when, on the morning of November 8th, she died.

I saw her a week before the 8th and I'm doing my utmost to forget what I saw because it was heart-breaking. There was nothing left of the woman I knew in that hospital bed. Nana had been suffering from dementia for the last few years, and it had rapidly been getting worse. Conversation was practically impossible towards the end, you would ask her a question and she'd respond with something completely unrelated. Then she'd keep on talking as if having a converstation with someone only she could see. It wasn't just the fact that she didn't recognise us anymore, it was that many of the traits I'd know her for, my whole life, were gone. That day I saw her in the hospital was horrible. A combination of drugs and the dementia had left her almost entirely cut off from us, (she was rambling and reaching out for something in front of her a lot), lost in a past we couldn't connect to. We held her hand and talked to her for a while but only at the mention of grandad did we witness a very brief moment of lucidity and we were, for a minute, all together in the present.

I've talked to a few people who've also had close family and friends suffer from dementia which, oddly, has helped. It's a devastating condition which seems to affect each individual sufferer in different ways, some worse than others. Uncharacteristically aggressive behaviour being one of the side-effects we, thankfully, didn't have to experience. The best thing I took from my cathartic conversations with people about dementia is the importance of remembering how the sufferer was before it takes hold. I have so many great memories of Nana: paddling in the sea with me at Great Yarmouth (while my grandad looked on, sitting as far from the water as possible, refusing to take his shoes off), teaching us tongue-twisters (she sells sea shells on the seashore), her Sunday lunches (I don't know how she cooked it but her cabbage was the best, even as a small vegetable-hating child I loved it) her voice and sayings ("what'll it be lass?", "let's be having you", "God bless" - although my grandad is v.much a south Londoner, Nana's roots were in Staffordshire), her laugh and expressions - she had a wonderfully expressive face and a big ready smile. She could also touch the tip of her nose with her tongue - we'd ask her to do it all the time when we were little.

In the lead-up to her funeral my dad, who was putting together the order of service and writing the eulogy, asked for our memories of Nana. We also spent time looking through his childhood family album for early pictures of her (the one above is of her on her 1st wedding anniversary). Dad had stories about her I'd never heard before as did others at the funeral. She was 91 when she died; I'd only known her for less than a third of her life. During the lead up and at her funeral I learned a lot about Nancy before she became my grandmother - her role as a Radar Operator in World War II and the medals she was awarded, about her working for the Ministry of Defence, that she could play the piano, that she married grandad aged 22.

The funeral went as well as it could have, with the family all together to celebrate her amazing life. It was a very emotional day but I found that a lot of my sadness was not for Nana, as grandad said, at 91 "she did well". She'd lived a full life and given us so many wonderful memories but, her quality of life was not great towards the end. I honestly believe that her passing would have given her some relief. I cried for our loss, for my dad's loss, for grandad's loss. As I've always known since I was little and again from old pictures and the eulogy at the funeral, Nana and grandad were close. Last Monday would have been their 69th wedding anniversary. It's grandad I cried for the most.

Nana had a strong faith and, although I'm not sure what to think about God, heaven and the like, I hope she's found peace.

I was asked to read something at the funeral and chose a well known poem by Ellen Brennemen. It's short but beautifully uplifting and true, loved ones are never truly lost so long as the memories of them are shared and talked about. I'll leave you with these words:

Don't think of her as gone away
her journey's just begun,
life holds so many facets
this earth is only one.

Just think of her as resting
from the sorrows and the tears,
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.

Think how she must be wishing
that we could know today,
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.

And think of her as living
in the hearts of those she touched...
for nothing loved is ever lost
and she was loved so much.

24 Nov 2014

fun breakfast #6

Yesterday's fun breakfast

cup of tea
croissant with blackberry jam
porridge, also with a spoonful of blackberry jam

23 Nov 2014

Renegade Craft Fair

 Yesterday my sis and I journeyed to Brick Lane's Truman Brewery for, what is fast becoming, our annual visit to the fabulous Renegade Craft Fair. Much like last year, the space was jam-packed full of independent makers, designers and illustrators selling their awesome stuff. It was the perfect chance to make a start on my christmas shopping, ahem, as well as buy a few little bits and pieces for me. Here's my haul:

wrapping paper from The Key Print House // oyster card holder from Oh squirrell (who, incidentally, made my beautiful 'bride' sash) // printed notebook from Georgia Bosson // postage stamp christmas card from Charlotte Farmer // Also purchased (but not pictured because they're christmas pressies) a brooch from And Smile & something v.cool from Dear Colleen. If I'd had more money to spend: one of Hania's rings, Oh no Rachio's succulent kit and one of these 'Jesus and friends' postcards from Unusual Cards would have been mine.

Purchases made, we went in search of sustance (and mojitos) at Moo Cantina, home of happy hour cocktails and seriously cheesy and tasty grilled sandwiches.

Renegade Craft Fair is on today too so if you've got nothing planned, and you love a bit of indie craft, I highly reccomend a visit!

19 Nov 2014

fun breakfast #5

custard tart & cup of tea

I am aware that this is neither breakfast food nor good for me but it's shaping up to be a tough week and I felt I needed something...indulgent. I found the tart in the fridge and immediately knew that this would be best and only way to start my Wednesday.

13 Nov 2014

making lately

Lots of knitted squares for a knitting magazine project // a couple more coin purses // some doodling (with tongue twisters as my inspiration) // Mitch's scarf using two wools knit together.

I've had a lot on my plate in the last couple of weeks, in good and bad ways. It's all I can do in the week to get home, eat dinner and go to bed. Weekends too have been fairly low key - gardening, the odd visit o the cinema, a couple of drinks in the pub. I know that it's only going to get more full-on (both work-wise and socially) the closer we get to Christmas so, in an effort to prepare my body for the busy-ness to come, this weekend will be jam-packed full of good stuff - getting a haircut (dear lord I need one!), seeing friends and dancing till the early hours. Should be good and there's only tomorrow that stands in my way. Bring on the weekend!

11 Nov 2014

garden progress

Last month, Mitch and I started working on a neglected bit of my nan's garden with the aim to turn it into a vegetable patch. We've been going every weekend (apart from when we went to Falmouth) and it's really starting to take shape.


And after - sans the beast of a hedge which was obscuring the rest of the garden and house:

After, a LOT of digging:

I'd thought that clearing the brambles was hard but digging up roots, turning the earth and raking was waaaay more knackering. Thanks to the last few weekends I've come to associate Saturdays with aching limbs! Hopefully it'll all be worth it though.

Some of the bricks dug up from the earth.

We actually planted something this weekend, not anything we can eat mind you, but some stuff (mustard seeds) that'll be good for the soil. Fingers crossed they'll sprout!

4 Nov 2014

the halloween weekend in numbers

Ziltch: Halloween acknowledgement or related activities (horror film watching/dressing up) carried out over the weekend.

7:20pm: The time on Friday when two awesome women commenced one v.cool interview at the Royal Festival Hall.
(In case you didn't see my excitable and gushing tweets - Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham were amazing, the interview was all that I hoped it would be and more. I left feeling empowered and with a signed copy of 'Not That Kind of Girl'.)

3 hours: Gardening on Saturday. SO many muscles ached afterwards which, I assume, is what happens when you don't do any gardening (or other kind of excercise) for two weeks.

7: The number of squares knitted for a magazine project, two of which were completed in the pub.

15 minutes: Of fireworks put on by the aforementioned pub.

8: Us lot, the only people who brought sparklers to said pub. We had Mitch to thank for that stroke of genuis. I'd forgotten how much fun they are.

100% confirmed: I am going through a bloody mary phase. Cannot get enough of those things.

1 Nov 2014

four little coin purses

I recently made these four mini coin purses to donate to the care centre my nan attends once a week. In mid November their having a Christmas market event to raise money for the centre and I'm hoping they'll be able to sell the purses on the day and make a bit of money, not much probably but every little bit helps eh?

I'm off out for breakfast and then, seeing as the weather's nice, we're heading to my nan's to do some gardening. Happy Saturday all!

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