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What a year.
We are indeed living in very strange times.
Back in March when the U.K went into lockdown it was particularly difficult for us as we had just suffered a horrendous flood.
everywhere closed including builders supplies and we were left in a wet cottage with rats for guests and no way of getting any help to improve our living conditions.
My husband joked we were safe from the virus as no way would it survive in our street .
So as always we just got on with it.
My Mam used to say no good moaning about something you’ve no control over.
This was one of those times.
The weather was kind so we got on with things outside fixing fences painting the cancer retreat.
Most of residents in canalside had moved out. Until their houses were dried out and renovated.
Around six families stAyed mainly because we had no where else to go.
It was quite surreal, Eerie at times. The usual people passing everything had stopped.
But the sky’s grew bluer no chemetrails or clouds. I haven’t seen clear blue sky’s like that since I was a kid in the 70s.
No planes no pollution, then there were reports of sheep walking in Main Street in towns little things made me smile.
Dolphins in the canals in Venice.
Pubs were shut, kids play centres , cinemas.
People were allowed out for hour each day to walk exercise .
We began to see families walking together.
On social media photos were being posted of flowers , plants food.
I believe in every bad situation there is something positive.
Here were all these tiny things making a difference.
The market traders from Neath started delivering fresh fruit and veg.
Neighbours shopped for each other.
We reassured each other.
Spiritually I believed there was a mass awakening happening.
People realising that there is so much more to life than materialistic stuff.
People matter not things.
I missed my grandchildren terribly
Slowly things started to change I prayed that the world was changing into a better pace.
It seemed that way.
Now we are in September restrictions are tightening again.
I’m not surprised saddened but not surprised the u.k government predicted this back in March. It seems a little to planned .
Masks are now mandatory .
It’s all a mess
If as they originally said virus isn’t air born it’s a surface contaminant what is the point of a mask.
If they do work why didn’t they recommend back in March.
The sad part is all the good that came in the first wave seems to have been swallowed up now by hatefulness
The mask police ordinary people attacking others regarding masks.
Demanding to know if someone isn’t wearing one WHY.
Makes me ashamed to be human
Some people are exempt for many reasons.
None of which should be questioned or held accountable by Joe Blogs outside the Spar shop.
Rape victims , child abuse victims, people with extreme anxiety COPD asthma are exempt.
Should they have to wear a label a badge ….NO THEY SHOULDN’T please don’t be one of there jumped up mask police.
Mind your own buisness look after yourself and your own.
Who are any of us to judge anyone else..
Remember before all this started a lovely young woman Caroline Flack committed suicide because of the way she was treated in the media.
She was vulnerable but no one could see quite how much.
She took her own life because of the way she was treated by other who didn’t even know her,
After it happened the #BeKind campaign started, there were t shirts
#BeKind trended on Twitter , articles were wrote and people cried NEVER AGAIN.
Yet here we are…
these are indeed strange time.
But don’t let that have a negative effect on the way you treat people.
Think before you speak.
Sometimes it’s best if you can’t say something positive.
Don’t get caught up with the bitching of the masses .
Because one day when all this is over.
Future generations ask about what you did during the pandemic
Let your stories be kind ones.
I live in a cottage on the side of a canal. I have a healing centre and I offer free breaks to cancer patients we have a counselling service and in my spare time I walk my dog in some of the most beautiful places on earth here in Wales.
I like reading tarot, crystals and crafting firepits, camping and laughing with the amazing friends that I have made while I’ve been here Wales.
Does my life sound? perfect I suppose it is.
Because this canal the work that I do is paradise it’s my paradise.
At 55 always been a bit of a rebel I suppose I still am sporting spiky hair shaved sides hippie clothes I’m bare foot most of the time I’m comfortable in my own skin I like who I am.
Believe me that’s taken a while.
So if you saw me if you met me and you knew all this.
What would be your opinion? Would you judge me what would you think as I’ve just said I have the ideal life.
My previous blog talks about the young man That we recently helped he was homeless and was wanted by the police.
Obviously we didn’t know this but it got me thinking about the different paths that we take in our life the choices we make. Because our story, our beginning ultimately paves the way to our destination. Wouldn’t you agree.
Rewind 45 years my story was different I didn’t have the best upbringing and that’s an understatement. I came from an incestuous family alcoholics, sexual physical and mental abuse.
That was my normal.
Yes that’s right normal. Because when you’re brought up being continually treated a certain way you believe that is the way life is.
Everyone must be the same behind closed doors inside all those houses.
It’s only when you get older you start to see the difference and then it’s too late.
Why too late? You’re different and it’s a secret and you can’t tell anyone.
Your the weird kid because their live is so much different than yours.
They could never understand and you don’t want to be different you want to fit.
It’s like a circle a rounder bout you just can’t get off.
I could go into more and horrendous details but that would just be like Scratching old wounds that I’ve worked so hard for a lifetime to nurse and to heal.
Occasionally there is something to remind me A flashback a nightmare a patient in work with a similar story that throws me right back there but my poker face is amazing.
I’m not that scared little girl That rebellious teenager, that fierce single mother anymore.
I’m not a victim.
So I guess the point I’m making is I’m one of the lucky ones.
Somewhere along the path there were signposts .
But despite everything I wouldn’t change a single day if I could go back have a different childhood I wouldn’t.
I know I can see you shaking your head.
What! you say?
the whole thing has been a journey my journey.
If I went back and change things I wouldn’t be sitting here right now in my cabin My sacred space by my cottage near the canal in Wales.
Yes I might have had an equally nice life but I want this one and everything that happened to me in the past has made me exactly who I am today.
I remember my father would call me gunner. Always gonna do this always gonna do that.
He’d tell me if aspire to be nothing but a whore.
For a long time I believed him .
Dispite all of this for as long as I can remember I wanted to live in Wales.
To escape my mother sister had a caravan in North Wales and she take me and my cousin
Once a year just a week but it was amazing there is a beach the chip shop and in Orchard where would climb up trees and I slept at night. I slept well.
So that was my wish I suppose it was cosmic ordering I just didn’t realise it at the time but no matter how bad things got or where my life took me And I can tell you there were some pretty dark places.
I dreamed of a magical place
I was going to live in Wales I was never sure how but I was going to do it.
I also wanted to go to University not sure why because I was never in school when I left home I was pregnant not for the first time.
18 years later I moved to South Wales. It wasn’t plain sailing I had countless disastrous relationships behind me but I was to determined to start new.
I went to University studied psychology human behaviour it fascinated me it still does Why people behave the way they do.
Nature versus nurture
I was hooked.
I carried on studied holistic therapies became a hypnotherapist reiki, reflexology counselling and psychotherapy i got a job working in community mental health I really felt like I was giving something back.
Making a positive difference.
You see one of the main things no matter how you try that sticks with you when you’re brought up in such a dysfunctional family is that needing that wanting to fit wanting a family.
I remember years ago after my mother died and a counsellor said to me there’s no such thing as the waltons every family has its problems and it took awhile to say that she was right.
In 2002 I met a guy whilst out for a drink with my friend he was quiet an unassuming Shy even. We became friends he was different than anyone else I’ve ever met we were opposites but then You know what they say about that so to cut a long Story short eventually we were married
We bought our cottage by the canal. By this time I was working in end of life care and it was a dream of mine to have somewhere anyone with an end of life diagnosis could come for a free break to get away from appointments and just to be themselves three years ago we bought small cottage in our street it was my dream.
That cosmic ordering finally is coming true.
My husband is amazing I dream it he builds it So now we have a beautiful cottage lots of people benefit from it.
A healing cabin And I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier. I finally found that place I fit.
One day I’m going to have a farm no animals but an open space and a bigger Retreat therapy cabin and celebrant services.
I’ve put it out there to the universe
Everything I do is there a reason I’m paying it forward I’m so unbelievably thankful for the journey I have been on.
I’m aware it could have been so very different.
And as I said in my previous blog about the young boy last week who was homeless I can’t ever turn anyone away.
Because truly there by the grace of God god go I .
I’ve had a lot to think about this week and it’s made me reflect about the way we see people. Even though we don’t intend to judge I think sometimes most of us do.
2-weeks ago friend of mine was contacted through her website by a young man who was homeless and looking for a safe place to pitch his tent and somewhere to charge his phone.
Being in lockdown this proved more difficult than ussual.
My friend runs a country pub with rooms and so she decided to let him stay. He was a very polite young man excellent manners quietly spoken he didn’t ask for anything but was very very grateful for the roof of his head.
I arrange to go over to see him he needed a new rucksack his old one was tattered and in pieces. I bought him a rucksack it wasn’t too expensive but did the job and also asked about to friends of mine who had son’s his age and size and very kindly clothes were donated.
He was over the moon very humble and again very grateful. He told us a little bit about his life he said he’d lived Outdoors for a long time that he didn’t like to be thought of as homeless it was his choice he was a bit of a nomad and loved been out in the countryside.
Whilst staying with my friend he would be up early and out exploring the beautiful countryside around the pub waterfalls mountain walks he loved it.
He told us he worked casually and there is someone in Cardiff he had done some casual work for who owed him some money he was going to bring it to him that week and after that he’d be leaving Wales to stay with friends who had bought a farm just outside of Southport in the North West of England.
He came over to my house to have dinner with my family whilst in the kitchen he looked at me and said I can’t believe it’s only been three weeks and ‘I’ve met so many lovely people who have been nothing but kind to me.’ I knew these words we’re coming from his heart.
I gave him a crystal I have made into a pendant and wished him well I told him to keep in touch and if he ever need help to come back to Wales.
He hugged me me and thanks me again. He was a genuinely lovely young man there are a few things about his story I didn’t seem to fit but I guessed somewhere along the line he’s been trouble but he had been nothing but polite courteous and grateful to myself and my friend.
2 Days Later he left on a train to go to the north of England I messaged him on Facebook later that day to see if he has arrived safely.
He assured me he had and thanks to me again telling me he would stay in touch. He stayed in touch with my friend and my daughter who lives in Swansea she was as equally taken with him as we were.
Then a few days later my friend and her husband return to Wales from a short break in Brighton the following morning the police were knocking at her door asking if they had seen or been helping a young man the name given was not the name of the young man we had helped.
But a photograph confirmed it was indeed the same person. He was wanted by the police for breaking bail and not appearing in court and had been on the Run since January. We were told he was dangerous not 21 as we had thought but 27 and from the south of England.
Yes we were shocked but we were also concerned as I said earlier there is absolutely no clue then he could have been dangerous. The police asked where he had gone and my friend told them the north of England but we didn’t have an address.
We were notified later that he had been arrested still in South Wales in the area where he had stayed. My daughter feels that’s on all those walks he went on he was probably looking for somewhere remote and hidden to pitch his tent.
He must have known the police had an idea he was in Wales. The police couldn’t tell us what he was wanted for or anything about him although they did tell us his real name. So we looked on Facebook and the internet and it seems there’s not much that you can’t find out.
I worked most of my life if in mental health nursing so I’m aware of people who have committed crimes I work closely with them in forensic units and I know show some of the people who have committed most terrible crimes look the same as you and I.
They don’t look like Monsters they don’t wear a badge you could be standing next to them in a supermarket. I’m also aware that people who have got onto the wrong path often have horrendous life stories behind them and I’ve been treated terribly themselves.
Please don’t think but I’m excusing any crime I’m not but I’m saying there’s always a story.
So I believe this young boy let’s call him Harry found kindness when he came to Wales. And in that kindness I hope some healing occurred I take people as I find them for who they are with me.
And I hope the kindness he was shown here he remembers. I think we’ve got to remember that old saying there by the grace of God go I.
Harry was someone’s son, brother and I suppose in a different dimension he could have been my son.
Would it stop me helping someone again definitely not who am I to judge anyone it may have only been for a few weeks but I believe the kindness that he was given helped him to show the person that he really is.
I wish him well and continue to send him healing and love.
Canalside one street our story.
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: One story of one street https://anchor.fm/joolz-raven-stewart/episodes/One-story-of-one-street-eb5apj
No I don’t want a cup of tea.
There is an acrid taste of vomit in my mouth.
Questions asked and I hear them.
I hear them like I’m underwater or in a bubble?
It’s this real or is it a dream.
My head hurts if I move it.
The tea the police man has given me is stone cold.
My tears are warm as they run down my cheeks and splash into the tea cup.
I wonder how many tea cups of tears I will cry.
Enough to fill an ocean?
Rushing now that loud noise in my head.
Technicolour scenes I cannot pause or mute.
Play over and over.
Although my eyes are closed I still see it play.
I press my fingers hard into my temples as if they are stop buttons on a memory remote control
but batteries are dead nothing can stop it.
I’m not wearing any shoes.
My feet are dirty there is a scratch on my left ankle.
Dirt from my front garden I’d been out there all day pulling up privit hedges.
That’s where I was when my world changed standing barefoot grounded.in the April sunshine.
Surrounded by my children in the late afternoon I’ll just finish clearing up this mess then we will go down to pick up your Nan I told them.
A car pulled up in front of my house.
Suddenly I knew, that gut feeling. I felt it physical pain.
I caught my breath and I knew he had killed her.
My Mam. The only one I’d ever known my alcoholic father had finally done it.
The button was pressed the flashbacks began
The chaos was real.
I sorted out my children and got in the car stood in the door way of her flat.
I hear him singing in my head..
You are my sunshine my only sunshine…
Dark cloud of blood on her carpet marking where she had fallen hitting her head.
Her china cup, Mam inscribed in gold letters half full of cold tea on the window ledge.
Photos of my children on the walls I can smell olobis oil on a tissue she had used.
I hear a shrill scream then a gutteral howl. The cine film of memories in my head plays on.
The scream is mine. No I don’t want tea I want my Mam back.
People ask where the name of my retreat here in Wales came from
Here is my story
Little black bird.
She was small tiny in fact.
Not one of them, not part of this tribe and so she didn’t belong.
Saul the king of the crows had said her mother had been a visitor a maverick laying her egg in a nest here in the woods then leaving it to be hatched by one of the king sauls female mates.
Little bird had emerged small scrawny and different she didn’t fit.
The only thing about her that was like the murder of crows she lived with was her colour. She was blacker than the night.
Every day she was reminded that she wasn’t like them smaller not good enough she lived there but she didn’t belong there.
Saul the king was big and mean she had learned not to upset him dodge the sharp elbow of his mighty wing his shrill caw and she had many scars from his sharp beak.
She would wait until everyone had eaten before she dared to look for what scraps were left she survived by living and blending into the shadows.
She lived roosted and nested on the edge of the woods in an old oak tree in a small hollow of a branch near to where she had been hatched.
She knew there was no room for weakness in the woods where she lived the fittest survived the weakest didn’t
The seasons changed the wheel of the year turned new eggs hatched young were born and raised their gathering grew but she was not to see her young born.
Saul would fly into a rage smash her eggs killing her young before her eyes they didn’t stand a chance.
She wondered what was beyond this place her oak tree these woods the stream she dreamed of another place where she could fly and be free.
Then one warm summers evening as she glided alone on a warm summer breeze she was startled by a whoosh of wind as a beautiful huge black bird flew past her.
She watched as he darted and glided this way and that his call was different louder deeper and his feathers though black like hers were darker she followed him as he landed stealthy on an old oak tree on the otherside of the woods.
‘Where do you come from?’ asked the little black bird across the ocean far from here he said preening himself
The sun shone as they spoke of other worlds green valleys and oceans and the little crows heart fluttered.
Could I go to this place she asked?
The beautiful Raven cawed ruffled his feathers and laughed. He tilted his head his eyes were brown and in them she saw a reflection looking back at her.
She let out a caw,
Yes he said seeing the surprise on her face.
You can go anywhere, you too are a Raven.
‘Me a Raven?’ ‘Yes you.’
Why are you nesting with the crows their king is not a good being. His heart is blacker than his feathers,
Fly from here fly south look for the purple topped mountains and green valley’s there are others like us.
Do not be afraid any longer you are brave and stronger than you think you are a warrior little Raven. You can live anywhere you choose.
She flew back to the woods cawing out thanks to the Black Raven.
The king crow was getting old now his eyes were failing and suddenly she realised he wasn’t bigger or stronger and the fear she had felt for all those years roosting in the woods began to leave her.
She puffed up her chest and cawed loudly as she flew down to the place by the river where her smashed eggs and young were buried.
Her heart banged in her Raven chest she was afraid to go but more afraid to stay.
Head tucked under her wing she slept knowing this was the last night in her oak tree in this small woodland that had been her home since she had hatched in the wrong nest.
Tomorrow she would fly
She wished only for good weather and then she slept.
The next morning the sun came up she drank from the stream and caught sight of her reflection again in the water a raven there was new determined look in her eye.
She was no longer the tiny bird the outcast who had taken so many beatings.
A proud strong Raven stared back at her.
She cawed loudly. ‘Goodbye woodland of my youth.’
Gentle winding stream and old oak tree thank you for my shelter and quenching my thirst.
She heard King Saul caw a cruel laugh behind her.
‘Little bird’ he jeered. ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘Where do you think you are going?’
I am not little bird I am Raven Storm. I am mighty brave and strong a warrior that is who I truly am. Today I shall fly and find my own path far from here.
King sauls eyes flashed anger ‘you dare speak back to your king you defy my orders?’
‘You would choose solitude and loneliness this is your place.’
The other crows waited for her to answer no one ever left this gathering no one ever left this gathering.
Raven puffed out her chest and spread out her wings ‘I am not your little bird. I choose freedom’
Lonleyness and solitude are yours
There was a gasp from all who gathered as Raven circled for the last time above the small woodland that had been her roost.
As all the crows begin to caw loudly a last goodbye.
The warm winds carried her south. Warm sun shone on her feathers and hope beat a drum inside her brave Raven heart.
She was free.
I walked through the gate
there standing before me was a huge 1930s detached three story house.
I’d driven past here hundreds of times and never noticed it.
hiding behind tall fir trees.
it was drizzling rain a dull damp day.
angry clouds above this huge house
I stood beside my friend Chris he looked at me.
looks a bit run down I say choosing my words
old-fashioned rooshed net curtain that haven’t seen a washing machine in a long time adorn the huge windows
I hear my mother saying “they need steeping in some Sally white bleach ‘
your not wrong mam I think.
come on then I say to Chris as we walk past the huge cars on the drive shining and polished complete contrast to the grey and dismal house.
the Adams family comes to mind says Chris as we walk up the stone steps to the first floor front door.
Rocky horror I smile
I ring the bell and we wait.
nice view across the city I say as the door is opened by a well dressed man in a suit
he struggles to open the door pushing boxes to the side of the hallway and beckons us to come in.
I introduce Chris and we take a seat in the waiting room.
Dust in corners of ceiling cracked paint spiders webs and if the windows were cleaned there would be a fabulous view across the city.
the furniture is 1970s g plan in a faded green ancient Wilton carpets thread bare in places tell of better times and I wonder if families stuck within their grief fail to notice the neglect around them as they sit here being advised on their loved ones funeral.
Waiting to pick up ashes or to view a loved one before a funeral.
I’ve worked in many funeral.homes but this is, well run down. shabby and cold. It’s shocking
The man who runs things is lovely a little aloof but I didn’t see this coming.
He asks if there’s anything I need.
No I smile
Okay I’ll go and get her, I’ll put her in the chapel of rest then I’ll come to get you.
off he goes .
I look around.
is there a secret camera I say?
we are hear as part of my soul midwife work.
I’m doing the hair and make up of a lady I’ve worked with.
before her family come to view her.
Then next week I’ll do her funeral.
Chris has come to help
for the first time
probably the only time after this.
after few mins he comes back up stairs guides us down stairs to the chapel of rest.
I swear you couldn’t make this up.
It’s under the house next to a garage
Bang bang bang constant hammering of coffins being assembled.
he opens the door creak. musty damp smell
why didn’t I video this …
blare witch goes to funeral home
there before me is a huge room set out with old wooden folding chairs
very dusty chairs
I’m wishing I’d brought a feather duster and some polish it’s set out as a chapel
wow I say.
Chris nudges me
this “could” be fabulous obviously it’s not used now
no says funeral director.
not for years
He smiles shuts the door behind us it’s dark and dismal and I’m reminded of a Steven king film
Here is chapel of rest
a door to the side is opened into what can only described as a large cupboard with a gurney trolly in there body on it looking like it’s been dropped out of a plane and landed very akwardly.
head twisted mouth and eyes open not just cold but bordering frozen.
I look around almost sureal slow motion
now first and foremost I’ve seen alot of corpses in my job
I’m not afraid or shocked I care for the body
when I go to funeral directors they are usually lying with dignity eyes mouth have been closed head straight .
You know what I mean.
Everything okay says funeral director?
There is a arched window behind him covered in dust and spiders webs
it’s winter but the flies are alive one lands on the face of the body
I flick it off
are you going to put a stitch in the mouth I ask?
Oh no he says I don’t like that..
would you like a tea or coffee?
I’m tempted to ask for a gin I bloody need one
I shake my head
he leaves closing the door and I wonder what the fook is going on.
Chris is standing in the corner with a is this a sick joke look on his face .
I take out my kit and get to work.
talking chatting to my lady as I work.
well I’say to her
ou chose this place I’m betting you”ve never been here before!
Chris come help me hold her mouth closed.
I work gently hair make up fix her body into an acceptable position and close her eyes and mouth.
there is still rope around her feet from when she was brought from the hospital morge
a sticker across her chest her name and date birth.
I flick away flies
There I say as we finish
goodbye my friend
I pray her family don’t come to view in this room
it’s just beyond unbelievable and I’m glad Chris is with me or no one would believe this
we go back up stairs he is sat at an old desk.
where the sink I ask?
sink? He looks puzzled.
Yes I’ve just been handling a body id like to wash my hands.
Chris laughs nervously.
We wash our hands say a polite goodbye tell him I’ll see him to do the funeral.
we get in the car
sit for awhile
seriously that place is beyond I say.
I wonder what I can do
vow to get funeral over with then go back to speak to him
he needs to sort that place out he needs help says Chris.
he needs a mop and bucket and a complete renovation I say.
The funeral went well cars staff everything was good
but behind the scenes there was a completely different story .
I wouldn’t tell the family
what could it achieve?
but I plan to go back and have a chat to see just what the score is there has to be a reason such a beautiful place has fell into such disrepair.
what do you think?
I need a plan.
Or a twin.
As you know I work as a Soul midwife (end of life care)
I live on a canal bank in South Wales
A small row of 19 terraced cottages.
We have lived there 12 years
It’s always been a dream to buy another cottage on our row to run as a Retreat.
For Cancer patients & mental health patients.
You see I work full time too for the community mental health team.
Now you see why I need a twin.
Anyway I digress.
So I’m working full time then two years ago a cottage goes up for sale
Well I have been asking the universe.
Problem is it’s out of my price range 90k I was gutted. It was perfect needed work but nothing we couldn’t do ourselfs.
Never mind says my hubby Jeff.
It will happen and we carry on dreaming no one moves into the empty cottage and six months later I spot the estate agent coming out of there.
‘Excuse me’ is it back on the market? I ask.
He smiles yes the doors still open come in and have a look around.
I step inside out of the rain
Its very magnolia I say. It’s had a few coats of paint and cheap cord carpet but there’s no damp which is amazing for an old cottage and it’s bigger than our house.
I walk upstairs and I’m visualising the door sign
60k he says
I know he says I’d offer 55k.
I’m stunned it was previously on for 90k
“Okay I say without thinking ill offer 55k”
He looks up from his clipboard.
“Its not advertised yet.
Do you want me to ring the vendor?”
“Yes please” I say assertively
Appearing confident whilst in my head I’m wondering if I can get a mortgage.
He walks into the kitchen chatting on his I phone.
I close my eyes and ask the universe.
“Please let it be” as I open them he comes striding back into the lounge
“Congratulations he accepted your offer, who is your solicitor?
He shakes my hand and I follow him outside onto the tow path.
Ill be in touch he smiles
Im thrilled, scared, and wondering what just happened?
Thank you I whisper to the universe.
As I dial my hubby Jeff.
“Hi love I say as he answers .
Guess what I just bought?”
“A cottage no 28”
There’s a pause. He laughs.
“I need a mortgage and a deposit I carry on. ”
I don’t doubt you’ll get one he laughs you always find a way,
I ring a mortgage advisor he comes out the next evening i can’t see a problem he says and everything is a little sureal.
I find a local solicitor and few weeks later end of Feb it snows my daughter is over to visit so we walk down to no 28 to look around.
“mam looks like there’s a leak in the kitchen from flat roof. ”
We call the estate agent and sure enough there’s a damp patch ceiling and wall.
Im wondering how much it’s going to cost.
Can you ring the vendor I ask?
He drops the price by 4k mor than fair and a month later on 30th march day before my birthday 2017 we complete.
Cosmic ordering at its best.
The hard work begins. Painting furnishing all on a shoe string. We divide the garden in half deck outside the back door and plan to use the other half to build a therapy cabin.
I think back to that kid that was me my father called me “gunner” because I was always gunner do something or other. Always day dreaming. Always going to live in Wales.
I smile he I am with my hubby still dreaming with a man who never doubts me and helps me build them and again I thank the universe.
I have a beautiful oak door sign made “Ravens Retreat”
Register as a C.I.C
(Community interest company) non profit.
And we provide our first free cancer breaks
People love the idea .
Now I’m still working full time and still working as a soul midwife.
Running the cottage and providing free therapies.
We had been open five months cue storm Callum.
The street is evacuated but we don’t leave as the flood waters rise praying that the rain will.stop.
Ravens Retreat is flooded.
The cottages are so old that the drains can’t deal with the flood waters the drains back flow through toilets sink baths and up through the floor.
Its heartbreaking all our hard work.
We throw out furniture carpets the whole kitchen and hack off plaster
Our beautiful Retreat is a building site.
We are doing all the work ourselves, from pay check to paycheck it takes us nine months we work all day and work on the retreat in the evening.
Fall into bed then do it all again the next day.
I have days when I wonder if theres an end to it.
Then in June 2019 we re open.
Im so happy .
So proud our first cancer break is a good friend of mine who has just finished radiotherapy and another friend who is still undergoing chemotherapy.
Four of them arrive and as they walk in look around the sun is shining and they love it.
Suddenly everything is worthwhile.
We have provided many more free holidays this year.
Our therapy cabin is almost finished.
I’m looking for funding to get things finished it will make such a difference.
Then hopefully one day soon can give up my full time job consentrate on my soul midwife work.and the Rtreat.
Dreams really do come true.
This one did. ❤️
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This is a short recording of a poem I performed for stand up to racism it’s called Dandelions.
I cannot remember my hair’s natural colour. Some non descript brown.
My sister eighteen years older than I and a want to be hairdresser cut it permed it platted back combed generally practicing on me and her three girls.
I remember my dad cutting it when I was at junior school with Mam’s pinking shears there is a horendous school photo taken the day after fringe like a ski slope and one pony tail longer than the other. I looked a right state.
The day after my sister came over and cut it short it did look better but I was heart broken I couldn’t tie it up anymore.
That was it I was like her hairdressing dummy she cut it regularly after that perms became fashionable do she practiced that too.
I should say she wasn’t at anytime at college. Then when I was thirteen she asked if I wanted it dyed? Before I knew it my head was over the kitchen sink plastic shower stuck onto the taps Luke warm water dripping down my front.
Then sitting with itchy burning mixture on my head fidgiting and complaining keep still she scalded it’s bleach it’s only been on for ten minutes!
she babbled how it had to be bleached first before it could be dyed red.
Mam is going to kill me wailed she laughed and pushed my head back over the sink.
Back onto the hard kitchen chair and slopped red coloured dye onto my sore head.
Wrapped it in a kwik save carrier bag and started to warm it with a hair dryer holding dryer with one hand and a fag in the other.
Shouting all the while at the kids running in and out the kitchen and the dog for chasing the cat.
If there is a Hairdressing for dummies manual she hadn’t read it but we we’re in the 1970s.
She washed it off and gave me a cracked bathroom mirror to hold. You know the ones that swivel and make everything look 12 times bigger?
Jesus Mary and Joseph I heard myself say in a whisper.
Red it was luminous bright pink.
To make things worse I was wearing orange t shirt.
My sister screwed up her eyes.
It’s not too bad.
She said brushing it as she dryed it.
“Wash it out” I begged.
“Er it’s permanent”
I could feel my heart beating in my head I grabbed my coat as her husband walked in.
“Fucking hell lizard” he laughed “your Mam’s gonna kill you. ”
I banged the door behind me the glass rattled in the door.
I walked across the estate home thinking of a way to get out of my latest mess but apart from leaving home, buying a hat and refusing to remove it the fact was I was dead!
I sneaked in the back door and ran upstairs.
Just as the bathroom door opened and mam stood there in her yellow dressing gown.
We stood on opposite sides of the landing clashing and staring.
What the bloody hells fire have you done she gasped?
It wasn’t me it was my sister I stammered I always stammered when I was nervous which was most of the time.
Get in that bloody bathroom and wash it out!
But it won’t wash out I tried to explain as she clipped me around my head screaming at me and launching a bottle of head and shoulders.
“but Mam” I wailed.
“don’t come down until it’s out!”
Needless to say I was up there awhile
It didn’t come out if anything it seemed to get brighter.
I looked like a match stick!
I was suspended from school and grounded.
But after a week I got to like it.
It was different. Definitely different.
So there it started accidentally my life long love affair with dying my hair.
It’s been punk, red, blue, green, black, blonde purple but never dull!
I’m fifty three now and last week I dyed it brown.
I looked in the mirror and reminded myself of my sister years ago unsure if I liked it I thought I’d leave it for a week or two.
Until my grand daughter arrived.
“Nan” she shreeked what’s happening with your hair?”
You don’t look like you Nan it’s too ….. Normal!
She really didn’t like it and to be fair neither did I.
So few hours later it’s bright pillar box red .
That’s better she said I couldn’t have gone out with you with brown hair.
So I guess why change the habit of a life time.
Rebel grand mother it is.
So on my way back to South wales from cannock driving down M6 past Birmingham airport.
Overhead flies a bowing 747 coming in to land.
Now I’ve never been a fan of flying probably as my head can not work out how such a huge lump of metal weighing 439,985 kg loaded with people bags food fuel can FLY. yes I googled it.
It completely spins me out!.
So then Jeff goes on to tell me that equal to approx 8 40 ton lorry’s duct taped together.
Then he says cargo planes carrying tanks ect are even heavier 🙈
My head hurts.
He’s no hysterical laughing.
Is it just me? Does anyone else have a problem with the how is this even possible?
One woman on a besom is far more easier to comprehend.
I also had this problem six years ago as we boarded P&O cruise ship the Ventura.
It was a 50th birthday present for jeff.
Now I’ve been over to France when I was 16 on a ferry and to Isle of man and of course I was expecting something a little bigger.
But f@@k me it was huge..
As I stood next to the smiling man who took my car keys at the dock looking up at the huge building like structure. I wanted to get back in my car.
How was That going to float?
Sixteen floors of restaurants dance floors swimming pools and people?
Don’t think about it Jeff says. It just is.
I have a theory.
When I was a kid there was a massive Co op shop in town where at Christmas you could que to see santa.
His elf would seat everyone on a beautiful decorated magical sleigh fairy lights would flash brightly scenery would pass snowy cabins and mountains of the noth pole as the sleigh rocked to and fro.
Exited children would then be shown off the sleigh and now magically they had been transported to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole!
We we’re definitely not in the basement of the local co op in a small northern town.
It was magic.
So maybe Santa’s sleigh builders progressed to building boeing 747 and huge cruise ships.
That has to be a much more understandable explanation.
Here I am lying in bed pondering a question only women of a certain age will think.
Do grown up children every completely move out?
You see I absolutely adore my children. They are my reason to breathe.. But…
Oh yes there is a but.
I live in a small two up two down stone cottage.
I say small it’s actually bloody tiny.
So after my youngest (he’s 27 not a teenager) moved in with his pregnant girl friend I imagined I’d have a spare bedroom and some wardrobe space.. a desk maybe with a lamp a space to write over looking the canal. Sigh.. (the photo is the view from my bed. (Yes really)
It doesn’t take a lot to please me.
Nor may I add do I have lots of clothes so small amount of wardrobe space will do fine! Some women have walk in wardrobes 10 hangers will be fine..
That was a year ago.
I have a beautiful new grand daughter I adore. And a daughter in love who I love like my own.
But probably even less space. Yes less…
My eldest granddaughter (12) has taken over my spare room proclaiming ‘Nanny it’s not spare it’s mine’ play stations and a avalance of Mac make up sets of books, hair extensions precariously balanced crockery towers. You get the picture.
My son has moved out but his girlfriends house is only two bedrooms so he can’t possibly take all his fishing gear, electric guitars (three of them) more shoes than emelda Marcos and a wardrobe full of clothes and numerous electrical appliances .oh and a bike. Because ‘ mam we have a baby do you know how much space their stuff takes?’
I refrain from answering unsure if it was a statement or a question. I’m looking for my phone as we are having this conversation.
Mam he laughs you can never find anything!
No son said item is probably buried under a mountain of fishing gear bike and shoes.
He smiles at me tells me I’m the best and what’s for tea tomorrow because they are calling over. Ring me I say with a smile. Who knows I may not have found my phone.
Pass the wine.
In my darkness I found the courage to lite a candle within myself.
Embracing the shadows that lead the way to inner enlightenment.
In the darkness I found my true self.
I was not lost.
For the flickering of the light.
Everyone on Dad’s side of the family drank heavily raced grey hounds and bet on horses. Even the women!
So to us kids that was just the norm.
My Dads youngest brother (our Peter) was no exception.
He was married to Auntie Aggie they were real characters. Aggie never wore her false teeth although she had been known to cut the edge of a pastry crust with them when baking and she did look a lot older than her years.
The creases on her face always reminded me of yesterdays screwed up chip shop paper. She wore odd sized plastic sponge rollers under a head scarf tied in a neat knot in the middle of her forehead. She swore a lot mostly at Peter. She always had a ciggie in the corner of her mouth which when was finished she would use to light another one from. She always wore her pinny and faded pink slippers the ones with that you slipped over your toes with a fluffy bobbly thing stuck on the front, well I say fluffy maybe when they were new which Aggies weren’t so it was anything but fluffy sort of knotted in need of going in the bin.
Uncle Peter could be found in one of three places. In Rain hill psychiatric hospital drying out from the booze. At home brewing home brew in the kitchen. (Or drinking it!) Or out with my Dad down the club.
I really liked him he was like a younger funny nice version of my dad, he smiled a lot and when he wasn’t smiling he was laughing mostly at Aggie.
Auntie Aggie reckoned if we looked in all three places and didn’t find him he then he definitely was dead! We always managed to find him.
He would get out of bed light a cig and pour a pint. His hair sticking up like a mad professor holes in his jumper from fag burns
The kitchen pantry, under the stairs and the spare bedroom was full of home brew.
Lines of sterilised milk bottles with plastic snap on caps.
I remember him running out of bottles in the middle of a barley wine brew and flagging down the Alpine pop man outside the shop.
Getting him to drop off two crates of bottles in exchange for some of his famous home brew!
He and Dad were well known for their beer. Mam swore they only brewed their own as they had been banned from most of the alehouses in town.
As well as their beer the other thing that was famous was Aggie and Peter’s fights.
I remember vividly walking up the grove were they lived early Saturday morning and being able to hear them three houses away!
I cautiously pushed open the back door to hear Uncle Peter shouting at Aggie to move all the rubbish from under the bloody sink so he can fit his new batch of brew in.
‘RUBBISH! RUBBISH!’ she yells back. ‘That’s me best pots and pans!’
She is in full swing now and I just manage to duck out of the way as a handle less pan, which finds its target catching uncle Peter with a loud thud on his head!
‘You bloody madwoman! Luna-bloody tic!
‘You want locking up you do your pots for bloody rags!’ he’s standing there rubbing the side of his head!
‘Oh its me that’s pots for rags is it!’
She’s nearer now and she belts him on the other side with another pan!
I manage to duck under her raised arm into the living room were Colin and Phil sit obliviously in front of the telly.
‘Who do you think you are Greenall’s bloody brewery?’
‘Get out of this house and take all those bottles with you your nothing but a piss artist!’
The back door opens again and there is the sound of glass smashing!
‘Are you coming out?’ I ask? Colin
He raises his eyes to the ceiling and stretches. ‘Aye I may as well they are at it AGAIN!’
‘Well at least they talk to each other’ I hear myself say feebly.
‘My Mam and Dad won’t even speak to each other’
He laughs ‘I wish they wouldn’t maybe we could all have some bloody Peace.’ He sits up takes one of Aggies fags and lights it. ‘Want a drag?’
‘No! it stinks!’ I say pulling my face he laughs ‘Come on soft arse.’
The back door bangs and we watch Aggie scurrying down the front path still chunnering as she goes. Uncle Peter sticks his head down round the living room door. ‘Here you two get in here and help me finish these bottles afore she gets back. She’s gone down the shop for fags.’
‘Good laughs Colin I smoked the last one!’
Phil goes reluctantly into the kitchen I follow perching myself on a stool in
Uncle Peter had made a massive vat of barley wine and is siphoning it into sterilised bottles. Taking great care not to screw on the tops too tight so that the gas had room to escape as the wine continued to ferment in the bottle
He is shouting at Phil to hurry up and make some space at the back of the pantry so that Aggie won’t realise there was more brew in there.
Colin hands the bottles to Phil who put the bottles into the back of the pantry. He winked at me and nodded at the bottle as he tightened the cap as he moved them.
I laughed nervously!
‘She’ll never know!’ laughs Uncle Peter rubbing his head were the pan had hit him earlier.
He had just moved the last of the bottles as Aggie walked in the back door.
‘Hiya Mam’ piped up our Colin. ‘Brought us any toffee’s?’
‘Never mind bloody toffees where’s me cig packet you little thief.’ she clipped
him before he can answer.
‘And what have you done with all that ale you pissing alcoholic!’ she carried on where she had left off before the trip to the shop.
Peter is standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat!
‘I’ve poured it down the sink my bloody Queen!’
‘Your right my love no more ale.
I’m brewing no more.
When we’ve drunk what we’ve got my love that’s it!’
‘You awful bloody liar!’
‘You pour ale down the sink bloody never!’
‘I know your lying I can smell it now where is it!’
Peter is belly laughing now I try not to giggle. ‘You can smell what?’ he says theatrically.
‘It must be your top lip rotting my love!
That’s what you get for not wearing your bloody teeth!’
Its no good I heard myself laugh.
Aggie flies at him hitting him with anything that’s handy.
We stand in the doorway shaking laughing.
Before I know what had hit me she had spun round and clipped us too!
We are down the path and out of the street like a shot!
Id rather fight next doors bull terrier than have a slap of me Mam says our Phil as we collapse on the grass laughing and I have to agree.
Lunch time you don’t really see me.
Sitting by the huge school bins.
Hiding with my dog.
Hating being in school.
Listening to the dinner ladies
Spouting the same old monologue.
Angry on the inside
Quiet and shy on the out.
Screaming inside my head.
But unable to let it out.
Scared by all the feelings.
Going on inside my head.
Wanting someone to make it better.
Or wishing I was dead.
My escape is drawing, painting and writing.
Imagining a better life
A world were things are wonderful.
With no one to hurt you
Or school bullies and family strife.
A world where lumps in your throat
Don’t block the words you need to say.
Where families love each other.
In a loving normal way.
But drawing painting dreaming.
Are not going to change this world.
So I will keep this label of a rebel trouble making girl.