Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Importance of Being Grandad

We had a sad day this week. My husband's Grandad passed away. He wasn't my Grandad so I wouldn't feel right writing an emotional tribute, that's not what this is and they are not my words to say. I do know that he was very loved.

Then I read an article by Julian Owen in The Simple Things about his thoughts on grandads and the impact they had had on his early years and life afterwards.

It got me to thinking about Grandads. And what a treasure they are.

I was privileged enough to have known both my grandads for the first 25 years of my life. Grandad and Grandpa, both very different but both loved just as much.

Grandad was part of my heritage. He was what made me a quarter German - a little piece of history that set me apart from my classmates. While their grandparents were fighting for the Brits, mine was caught up in the complexities of Nazi Germany. He made me interesting. It was because of him that I had an unusual last name. 

When Grandad started work in England after the war he became a printer. I'm not sure exactly what he printed, but I like to imagine that he was at the helm of Fleet Street in its hey day - another link to me and my journalistic career. Grandad was a bit of a rebel. Against the wishes of his doctor and probably his wife, he liked to smoke, he enjoyed a good pub lunch and a pint. He once said to Joyce on a family occasion with a wry smile: "We're just going to the pub... where we will not be smoking or drinking alcohol". He was a man of adventure, who liked travel and who wanted to enjoy life.

Grandpa is by contrast the height of Britishness. A man of belief and principle. Cambridge educated, he went on to become headmaster of a public boys' school. He was a disciplinarian who always used to flick our elbows off the table and stop us from running in circles round their circular house. When he was a bit fitter, Grandpa was a well respected watercolour artist who enjoyed his vegetable patch and who retired to Norfolk for a well-earned piece of the good life. He likes tea in a proper cup and saucer, accompanied by bread and homemade jam or cake. In a few months Grandpa will be 93. He still goes out for a walk round the village each day, albeit with the assistance of his 'wheels' and a high-vis jacket and although he might not be able to hear or see quite so well, he is still very much Grandpa.

And out of these two great men came my parents and subsequently me. How nice it is to think that there's a little piece of them in me, and that this will be carried down into our children. History. Heritage. And family pride.

And now the baton of Grandfatherness has been passed to our dads. I pray that our little girl and all her cousins will experience the joy of climbing onto Grandad's lap for a story, looking for the wonder in each day and being spoilt with secret sweets and all-encompassing hugs. I pray that the fatherly wisdom we, as parents, are still learning will be imparted to them and that each visit to Grandad's house will be filled with fun, adventure, laughter and tender moments of absolute security and friendship.

The role of Grandad should never be taken lightly, neither by Grandad himself or by us as parents, for Grandads are the treasure of the earth who come from decades past but who send us into the future with a smile, a hug and the confidence to face the world as we are, for we are just made up of little pieces of them.
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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

4 weeks to go...

On Sunday we marked 36 weeks of pregnancy. 36 weeks that have gone far too quickly. This means that if I were to give birth in one week's time, I would be considered full term. It means that in approximately four short weeks my life will be irreversibly changed forever (unless bubba decides to take her time!). But this week I have become hyper aware that it means one thing and one thing only. It means that in approximately four short weeks, I won't be pregnant anymore. And you know what? I'm not quite ready.

I like being pregnant.

I'm used to being pregnant.

As someone who has been on a bit of journey in the run-up to this pregnancy, it feels quite bizarre that it is drawing to a close and that there will actually be a (much loved and wanted) result at the end of it. For three years I have been caught between preparing to get pregnant, trying to get pregnant, getting pregnant, being pregnant and recovering from losing pregnancies and starting all over again. My life has revolved around pregnancy.

What my life hasn't revolved around is a baby.

So this transition from being pregnant to being a mum is quite a strange one. Not a bad one of course, but a strange one. In four weeks time, I won't be thinking about pregnancy anymore. I'll be thinking about a baby. A little life that is wholly dependent upon me. We won't be two anymore. We'll be three. A family. I'll be a mum, and he'll be a dad - we'll have new names, Mummy and Daddy! We'll get to celebrate things like Father's Day (unless baby is really keen, we will have just missed the boat on Mother's Day this year!). There'll be a million things that we can't do anymore. There will be things we'll have to sacrifice and things that we'll take up that we never thought we would.

But this week, I'm just enjoying being pregnant. Because this might not happen again for a long time. I've been blessed to have experienced a very straightforward and easy pregnancy. I regret not treasuring it from the very beginning, overshadowed by worry and stress. I regret not savouring and recording every moment thus far. So this week, and for the next four weeks, I'll be savouring and treasuring and recording every little kick, every hope and dream and every centimetre of growth. Because I might not get to experience it again for a while. Because she is treasured and longed for and hoped for. She is, after all, the reason for all of this.
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Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Toast: To Husbands!

I love marriage. I love the whole institution. I love that I have someone who's going to be there, through thick and thin for the rest of my life. That whatever happens, I know that I won't be alone.

I love that I got married young. I now never have to worry about whether someone's going to call, or whether they like me or whether they're going to dump me. I never have to negotiate another first date (I'm not even sure if we had a first date!), or worry if there's going to be a second (ok, pretty sure that didn't happen). I never have to decide whether to declare my feelings or play it cool. I never even have to worry about who's going to change their relationship status on Facebook first (we were already together by the time FB was, well, in existence in the UK).

I love being married. Waking up with someone. Going to sleep with someone. Talking about my day with someone. I always have a sounding board and he's always around. It's just about experiencing life with someone.

George Eliot puts it so much better than I:
"What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?" Adam Bede, by George Eliot
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that if it weren't for my husband, who has pretty much looked after me for the whole of my adult life, I would not be a fully functioning adult. I would also, probably, be a spinster (too shy). He gives me perspective when I panic about little things. He does all the housework when I can't be bothered. He keeps me wired with Starbucks and when that became too much, he bought me a coffee machine. He encourages me to follow my dreams and when I'm close to giving up, he gives me a nudge to get me going again. He has the patience of a saint when I'm an idiot and does all the difficult, adult things like paying bills when I do it wrong.

Which is why, today, on Valentine's Day, I'd like to propose a toast. To Husbands. In particular mine, and others like him, who always play the grown ups when we're busy day dreaming about lucrative book deals and writing careers. Who know the value of coffee in times of need. And who always say the right thing, even when it's not wholly true.

Happy Valentine's Day. xx
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Monday, 11 February 2013

Our Love Affair with the Typewriter

I first had a typewriter when I was about eight years old. It wasn't a retro, romantic pastel one. It was an electronic one from the eighties. But my mum gave it to me and from then on I set about becoming a writer. A few years later my parents invested in a PC where I discovered newsletter templates in MS Word, as well as clip art. That was it, I was a pro, creating my own newspaper for all of the world to read.

And now, it seems over the past few years, the world has once again fallen in love with the typewriter. Maybe it was the rise of Mad Men that drew our attention back to these beautiful pieces of machinery, now made redundant by technology. There's a romanticism about them that makes you think you could sit down and let your fingers run over the keys whilst you pen your best selling novel. And of course, beautifully styled photography, cute illustrations and retro imagery all add to that!

You'll have seen by my previous post, that I still love typewriters, so to celebrate, I created a Typewriter Love board on Pinterest. Click on the image to go straight there!
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Friday, 8 February 2013

Business Cards for the Pros - Get 10% OFF

You never know when the opportunity might arise to network with an important lead, potential client or soon-to-be trusted ally, which is why you need some amazing business cards, right? So, when I decided to start taking the freelancing seriously, this was the first thing I got sorted, and I love them!

I'm a sucker for good graphic design and all things typography and retro typewriter related, but I'm not much of a graphic designer myself so when I saw these cute vintage typewriter designs over at Moo, I knew they were just what I needed. Moo has hundreds of designs, whatever type of business you run, or of course you can upload your own imagery.

I've used other online printing services in the past, and I can honestly say that none are matched by the quality of designs, flexibility or customer service of Moo. My order came quicker than promised, was to a high standard and I was kept up to date throughout the whole process.

For more information, or to order your own cute business cards, leaflets and more click here.

Now it's your turn: Get 10% off at MOO!
If you place an order by clicking on any of the links in this post, you'll get 10% off your bill. To get started, click here!

Disclaimer: I'm sharing this with you because I've used Moo and absolutely love the product and the company and I think any small business owner could benefit from their services.
I haven't been paid to share this with you, or even asked to share this with you, however if you do order through the links here, I will receive a small amount of money off my next order, and you get 10% off - everyone's a winner! Thanks.
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