Be the present you give.

It’s almost that time of year again.

I work in community nursing and I see families on low incomes struggling to buy kids the latest I phone, lap top, scooter or whatever the latest craze is.

I’ve always struggled this time of year.

As a child it was the time my alcoholic farther would get more drunk than normal.

Fight in street more.

Well you get the picture everything he did

He managed more.

The thing I found hardest to understand was he would wish anyone who would listen HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

ALL THE BEST.

I’d walk beside him cringing more than normal.

I hadn’t quite got understanding hypocrisy yet.

The people he fought with all year, or didn’t like for a week or two he would be civil too.

I remembered asking my mam she shook her head shrugged her shoulders what do you mean?

She asked puzzled.

It’s Christmas .

So I suppose even somewhere at the bottom of dads home brew bottle it said good will to all at Christmas.

I didn’t understand.

I’d go over to my nans Christmas day.

My cousin’s Gary and Phil would be there same age as me.

Whist dad mam auntie aggie and uncle Peter would go over to the labour club to “celebrate”

We would play cards with Nan, look at old photographs as I think back I realize everything about her was about spending time with us.

Not distracting us with something to do.

She would be doing “it”

With us.

Her house was sparse she had minimal furniture old vinal sofa table and chairs yet she had everything.

She gave everything.

She was although I didn’t realize it until much later in life my greatest teacher the best example on how to live.

Simply

Don’t get me wrong she said things as they were.

She would tell you streight if you were wrong.

But she was loving and she was fair.

When eventually dad would roll up falling drunk being sick in the garden laughing and smelling of nothing but beer and whiskey.

She would always smile at me with sadness in her eyes

“It will be alright ” she would say.

It was early 1970s

Women didn’t argue with men.

Kids did as they were told.

When I think back she must have been heart broken these were her son’s.

The only thing she could do was let us know she was always there .

That was her greatest gift.

One of the lesson I learned was don’t just be nice smile and wish good will to all at Christmas

Get up everyday and resolve to be kind.

If you can’t say something nice.

Say nothing.
So at this time of year my advice would be to anyone who asked.

Don’t spend money that you haven’t got on things that you don’t really need.

Spend time with those you love.

Spend time with a stranger a homeless person. Stop and chat ask if there is something you can do?

Ask the elderly in your community is there anything that they need?

Step away from your hypnotic phone.

Look into the eyes of real people.

Don’t buy expensive presents

Be present be here now.

Give your time. Yourself

How will you make a difference?

Canalside cottages. Toilets and Christmas decorations 🙈🎅

So as most of you know any jobs improvements on our home “Crow cottage” has been on hold since the flood of 2018 as we have been getting our cancer retreat which is in same street back up and running.
We have lived in our little cottage for 12 years .

I fell in love with it the minute we turned out car onto the canal tow path I hadn’t even viewed the cottage on the inside and I knew we would live there.

Ducks geese canal mountain view from the window .

I loved it.
Now when we decided to look for a house to buy we couldn’t afford to live in the city

However just ten miles out in a small Welsh valley houses were quarter of the price.
That’s how I found our canal.
After never being able to settle in a house for more than a year I found my paradise.

Canalside.
Now I had a friend who was a builder .

Joolz he advised DONT buy a cottage .

The walls a 4 foot thick and they ALWAYS need money throwing at them..Good advice .

So I bought a cottage and twelve years down the line I can say.
He was absolutely right 🙈But it’s been an adventure.

We don’t have fabulous paid jobs Or credit cards

Thankfully we don’t have a liking for all things new.

I love second hand furniture.
In fact I love 1930 furniture and it’s in keeping with the cottage.

So I don’t mind car boot sales

Second hand shops , e bay

My living room cost under £500 to furnish probably furnish whole house for under £1.500
I guess I’m telling you this so you get the picture that I’m not a I want a new sofa kind of girl.
I buy when we need.So when we moved in I thought eventually we will get a new bathroom.

For now it’s fine.So few months ago

I find a beautiful bath tub on Facebook market place FOR FREE! so off we go to collect it.
It’s in the garden of a lovely ladies house who asks if I’m going to use it as a pond ?No I laugh I really like it and It’s going in out cottage ours has seen better days paint is chipping.
She’s thrilled it will be reused proceeds to give me a lovely set of telephone taps and a bath panel and off we go!

Two days later it’s a bit of a squeeze as it’s slightly bigger and has to come in through the window there’s lots of swearing and mentions of Vaseline and he’s going to buy me a bloody tape measure for Christmas as my long suffering husband fits this lovely deep bath.

I’m thrilled but I’m now on a mission to find a sink and toilet.
I don’t have to wait long

As a week later we are picking up some slate chippings to finish cancer retreat garden from builders merchants I spot a brand new toilet for £30.00 in the sale.
Jeff’s off looking at wood on his return I try to look casual as I push our trolly to the cashier.

“Er what’s that? ”

I ignore him

We aren’t buying a bloody toilet I proceed to tell him just how much we are saving it’s £60 off

He’s doing that look!

One raised eyebrow as I push the trolley into the car park and attempt to change subject.
So that was five weeks ago.

The toilet in its box is still standing in my bloody living room under the window with a view of the canal.

Apparently Jeff is too busy to fit it!

Now here is the Christmas link.
He’s sat eating breakfast this morning. 1st December

The Christmas tree and decorations convosation starts .

I don’t mind I say reluctantly.
Yes it will be nice for our grandchildren and I’m sure our cats Luna and Lucifer and tiny dog Mavis will have a wonderful time climbing up said tree 🙈

Now the tree goes in the living room window.Stands Infront of it were the new boxed toilet is currently living.
This is it .

It’s weekend he will have to fit it today or no Christmas tree!

I’m feeling smug as I say

Okay we can do it later after you’ve sorted toilet because you’ll have to fit it out of the way to put the tree up.

Cup of tea love before you start?

I wonder into the kitchen and click the kettle on
Well he says looking at the toilet.
I thought if we put a Xmas table cloth over it.
We could use it to put the tree on and I’ll fit it in the new year?

He’s really serious!

Can you guess what my answer was😈
The decorations and tree arent up yet.
Watch this space.
I’ve hidden the Christmas table cloth.