Category: Relatives

Beach Treasures (by )

(Back blogged due to server issues)


We saw much wonderful bird, animal and plant life in South Africa, even the beach was teeming with it and I don't mean a few insipid jelly fish. No there were bright green little birds like the one in the just above - I was literally just walking along the beach on our last day trying to catch the rest of the family up as I'd stopped to take photos of rocks when it came and said hello!

Beach succulent

This bird wasn't the only thing that was bright green - this succulent sea grass reminded me of the edible beach walks I used to have my my uncle Jim down at Stone. I did not attempt to see if this was edible - I'm not stupid honest!

Ropy root

Life just seemed to be bursting out of the seams and the cracks and I often did not know which this to take the photo of first!

I loved this root bent and barren looking and then at points like this... wham! Lots of new leaves and the struggle for life to get a choke hold continues 🙂

Algea Sand

Even the sand had an attack of the algea - little Mary who truly came alive in South Africa though she was home sick bless - hurtled into me to announce she had found special green sand and could I tell her how a rock could be green! I probably would not have seen the green sand if she had not have done this 🙂

Beach Palm

Each of us found a different aspect of this glorious shore to explore from Mary and her green things to Jean and the wave patterns to Lionel and the anenomes (more on them later!).

The Boulders Explore (by )

(Back blogged due to server migration stuff!)

Chillax with Grampa Lionel and icecream

On the last day of our fantastic visit to South Africa we did not do much, we got up, I painted and the girls packed and then we headed out to the Boulders Beach. This was the first place the girls had come on the day we arrived - it is walking distance from Alaric's parents house. I'm not sure if there whole area is called Boulders or if each beach/bay thing had a separate name but none the less this was the beach and it has boulders on it!

Alaric and Mary at Boulders

On the first day me and Alaric went shopping with Lionel so we did not go to the beach but the girls did and they saw a penguin catch fish and feed it too its babies (once Mary had move back and was convinced to be quiet!).

Mary on a mission

We'd come here on other days too and Jean always insisted we went in and paddled - the water is cold enough that my feet went blue neither of the girls seemed to notice though and had a grand time making up games of the sea chasing them and little sea goblins and splash you with extra high waves that sneak up on you!

Lionel on the Beach

We found all sorts of treasures along the beach and hidden in the rocks and the girls asked questions and me and Lionel could general answer. I got very excited about the rocks!

Walk along the beach

I took many many photos and after discussion with Alaric have decided that I will split photos of events etc... over several blog posts to make them more managable for people and also to stop you all nagging me as it takes longer to make the longer posts!

The Ship Passing In The Night (by )

The Ship

I think, though I am not sure as I am not good at dates and what not, but I think about 20 years ago my nan died in the middle of the night. Nanny Richards, my mum's mum with her halo of white fizzy hair and soft wrinkled skin. I was in secondary school, I was being bullied, my parents had planned a party for me, my birthday being on the 11th but then Nanny got very sick and it never happened, I remember thinking about how no one would have come anyway except Nikki, Helen and Karina - people who are still my friends and who were worth more than any incrowd but you don't know these things as a mid teen going through a mid teen crisis.

In the months leading up to my nan's death we had basically moved in, I slept on a lumpy thing we called a palias on the floor and was reading Nightmares and Dreamscapes - my first Stephen King and a collection of short stories. Some days I didn't go to school but stayed and looked after my nan, and made sure that my uncle who had downes syndrome got out to his coach on time.

The bullying at school was at about it's most intense as I was just starting to lick the dyslexia and achieve, I was winning awards and I got my first stuff published around this time. My nan had been really very sick for a long time by this point. She had osteoparosis or as we knew it - Brittle Bone disease, the bones in her spin were collapsing and she was growing a hunch. Apparently it was her wings, she always said it was her wings and is the reason the watch maker story/myth makes me meloncholy.

My nan ended up at the hospital, her lungs were being crushed by the humpy back and she had a cough, she had pnumonia, she was dying and her skin had gone thin, when I washed her it ripped or bruised. I didn't cry, I just cleaned the comode and told her it was ok when she kept saying sorry. And then me and my brother went to stay at my aunts - everybody including my aunt were at the hospital. The drs tried to send them all home, my aunt came home and that is the reason that she missed my nan dying, the others stayed. My family needs to be by the bedside, the modern nhs do not like this especially with the shear number of us - now we know to stick to our guns - back then we didn't, well not so much.

I had to wake my aunt up as I was asleep on the sofa next to the phone and heard the message from my granddad. She didn't get back to the hospital in time.

The next morning we sat round my nan's, I tried to be helpful, I knew it was going to be hardest on my little brother and he was little then, still shorter than me. I made teas and coffees and we read the horoscopes and prayed and laughed and cried - except I didn't - the horoscopes mentioned a the passing like ships in the night and we went and got extra copies of the newspaper and each had a copy of the horoscope reading. I'm sure this probably sounds very silly but I don't really care as it was an important thing to us, and judging by the painting I did, I would say it is obviously still important to me.

My nan wore fluffy track suits in blue and fake animal print, her house was always full of people and there were multiple freezers full of bulk buys that fed us all. Before she got too ill she would cook Sunday lunch for us and we would listen to my uncles djing often in competition with each other or there would be little mini guitars for us kids to play on or my great uncles would try to teach me the spoons.

I watched WWF wrestling and night rider with my nan and she didn't know how to cook pizza and always burnt it and washed the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher we'd all saved up to get her. She bought our school uniforms when the docs closed due to the Thames Barrier and various other things happened causing the jobs to disappear. My aunts and uncles friends would often be round and we'd visit my great nan who'd had to go into a home just opposite my nan, she died not many years before her daughter and that seemed so unfair to me. My great nan was robust but nanny, there towards the end - she was so frail - she was younger than my mother, younger than so many people I know and yet she looked so old, her skin so crinkled and worn.

I'd learnt to be gentle and not hug too hard, a vigerous hug could break brittle ribs. I miss her, I miss the point long pronged combs she used on mine and her's hair and the lady who came around to straighten her hair so that it could be curled. I miss her turning the TV over right at the end of the programms just to annoy my dad or because we would find it too scary (we all knew it was she who found it too scary especially Dr Who! and Paul Daneils!). I miss the fact that I could turn up with stray animals and she would look after them for me, everything from kittens to teripins to snails to my gold fish.

Around the time of her funeral the main bully at school pushed me too far and I hit her, I am sure I wouldn't have gotten away with it now, I almost didn't then. She whizzed across the changing rooms and then came at me for some revenge. I was normally erm... well... meek - this time I hit back because I didn't care. I also cut my hair short, it was a source of bullying, it was pulled, set on fire, had glue put in it, pens and more, I used to talk to my nan about it but she wasn't there anymore so I decided that there had to be a new me instead and so the hair went, in truth it wasn't gone for very long and I discovered frizz ease which helped alot.

I am not sure how accurate my rememberings are, I didn't cry about my nan's death until a long time later, I was mainly angry. Her funeral was amazing! There were I think 6 black cars full of family and over sixty follow up cars, she hadn't been a famous person just a mum, just a nan, just a neighbour and friend. She had known heart ache and loss and looked after those who needed looking after and kicked the rest of us in the bum - sometimes literally. Rainham was brought to a stand still, it was her village - before it was part of London but it was also the docks but she owned them too, it was her world and she had been if not the centre of it then a centre of gravity and of course she was related to the funeral director and he proceeded on foot even on the main roads.

Just missing my nan and thinking about how the world has changed and how in many ways it hasn't. I would say rest in peace but I think she would rather rest at a party to be honest, there would be hobnobs.

The Cheltenham Science Festival Highlights (by )

The Science festival was amazing - I just picked out the photos here that aren't going into their own write up about a specific event etc.... It was crazy and mad and informative and showed me just how valuable science communication is!

Science Fun Day at the Cheltenham Science Festival

There was the normal fun circus stuff - lovingly science themed 🙂

I say there is some science over there!

This rather elegant dude reminds me of someone? 😉

Stilt Walking Scientist at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Mary loved exploring.

I know which way to go mummy!

Ok so mainly it was running off but excited running off.

Mary running off to explore the Cheltenham Science Festival

She did grudgingly come back when I started counting.

What do you mean I shouldn't run off on my own at a science festival

I found a random hospital trolly outside one of the venues!

hospital gurney at the Cheltenham Science Festival

I found a BBC dude with random props wondering around a little lost so I photographed him and then found him the place he needed to be 🙂

The BBC exploder at the Cheltenham Science Festival

I found a ferret!


I don't think it was with the festival but was someone walking their pet - it was funny because one of the suggestions Al had given me for getting more people to fill in the highly important research questionaire was that I should find a ferret!

Guy with fire hydrant Cheltenham Science Festival

Unfortunately I just missed him filling the bag with stuff from the hydrant can - but oooo random stuff at a festival - really?

Aliens on the town hall Cheltenham Science festival

Once more aliens seemed to have taken up residence on the roof of the town hall!

Watching explosions at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Thursday the kids came and joined me after school - they all loved the explosions bit run by the BBC.

Mary over awed by the Cheltenham Science Festival

When we first arrived Mary was over awed and just kept saying WOW! and Ooooo 🙂

Jean finding just how easy it is to over compensate and crash

Jean and her friends found the racing car simulator 🙂

Vroom vroom at the Cheltenham Science Festival

She rather liked it even if she did keep crashing!

Jean racing at the Cheltenham science festival

Dad found an old sports car with gears and things inside it 🙂

Ferfer looking at the old chain and cog car

See cogs!


It was rather a nice car

ancient race car

The kids made LED torches 🙂

Making LED torches

They were all just so excited 🙂 Mum found knitting and Al and Andy found robots - it was brilliant 🙂

Excited to be at the Cheltenham Science festival

Hypos and Fits (by )

Mum and Dad were supposed to be coming up for a visit today, partly to look after children whilst I go to the hospital to get the stuck coil removed and partly for Mary's birthday. I got a phone call this morning to say they were not coming - I assumed it was the snow so started saying how the roads were round here.

But no Dad had a massive hypo in the night, the sort where he thrashes out and sort of fits so a real deep one. An ambulance was called and he is still in hospital on oxygen and they seem concerned due to the history of heart attack etc...

Mum says he's ok.


Dad's oxygen was low because he happens to have a chest infection which was found during an x-ray, his sugar level is all over the place but they think they can sort it. He is on antibiotics and resting they aren't letting him home yet.

Update 2:

He's been let out and is at home with a stable blood sugar and antibiotics to kill the chest infection but he is bashed up a bit from the thrashing during his fit - his head and shins and arms mainly. My brother has been a start and been with my one of my parent all day. I am a bit worried being this far away as Dad is Mum's carer and David has a full time job.

I have postponed Mary's Birthday Party too for when he better.

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