Cherry blossoms floated down around the village of Puddle*, a warm breeze nudging them into piles in doorways and along paths, blowing along the lanes like wedding confetti. The days were long and still. The air was filled with the chattering of birds in the newly fleshed out tree branches, the seagulls drifting high over head on salty currents, occasionally sweeping down to the freshly sown fields. The hum of a tractor was the back drop for our morning marches down to the sea, which was almost always still, lazily lapping at the shell strewn sand, pooling amongst the jet black rocks. Afternoons drifted quietly through. Every couple of weeks, on a Friday, the whole patch would trundle up to the station mess for families happy hour. A few glorious hours supping on gin and tonics, enjoying the company of fellow husbands and wives in the pleasant setting of the bar which opened on to sprawling lawns scattered with our children bounding about in the fading light. Dinner would be served buffet style, hearty mounds of delicious curry and rice or gooey and rich lasagne and chips, easy grazing. The waiting staff slipping quietly through the maze of tables discovering dropped forks, acknowledging officers with a tilt of the head, offering up pudding and generally pouring forth warmth and delightful hospitality on all of us.
Back at home Baby had discovered a path through the mounds of dandelions and daisies to the bottom of the garden where it was quite possible to spend hours crouched, chatting to the lambs who poked their dainty wiry heads through the fence. Dog would often get jealous and saunter over offering up a play with his ball or nuzzling his way into Baby’s armpit causing fits of giggles and a momentary distraction from sheep whispering.
One Sunday afternoon we were all in the garden, Baby and I on our tummies, our faces close to the ground watching an ant colony go about its business of harvesting leaves and blades of grass. Dog was having a snooze on the patio and He was dragging the lawn mower back and forth, the sun was beating down on all of our backs, a breeze whispering through the grass softly playing with Baby’s hair.
And then it began to snow.
It was the end of Spring and Puddle had frozen.
This past week the majority of the husbands on our married patch had disappeared to either instruct courses, attend team building camps or, in some circumstances, some had been deployed long term. This only means one thing, Momma is boss. Head honcho. Hefe. Queen B.
It means we now assume 100% responsibility … for everything.
From childcare to mealtimes, groceries to doctors appointments, dog walking to lawn mowing, house work to parent/ teacher meetings, play dates to paracetamol, football practice to tea parties, hosting to bin collection, tantrums to teenagers, homework to period cramps, nursing to nightmares.
All on us. No respite. More often than not alone with no family within helpful reach.This can be for a week to months at a time.
We got this! With a smile, a bit of grace and a lot of patience. Often with the knowledge that there is a bottle of wine somewhere.
Until He sent me a picture of the sunset in some far flung eastern country where he was enjoying a cold beer with colleagues at the end of a long day.
Cue a self pitying melt down.
Frustration at how insensitive He can sometimes be when He knows he can walk out of the door and rightly assume that I have everything covered, that He doesn’t need to give His departure a second thought. Exhaustion, with the physicality of daily life and the monotony of it.
Resentment over the fact I also want a sunset and a child free cold beer in a different country whilst contributing something important to the world. *stamps foot and pouts
Having seethed for the good part of thirty minutes at the complete injustice of the world I took a mental step back. How was this energy sapping little hissy fit making me happy, independent and content? It wasn’t. It was silly and … errr… marginally disproportionate.
Rise above the exhaustion, the resentment, the bitterness, the jealousy and take a peek down at your life. How ridiculously, wonderfully lucky are you? I poured a glass of wine. Cold. White. Inexpensive. And wrote myself a list, the things that make me so joyfully happy and grateful that they physically bring a smile to my face.
People ask how we met. It’s a short story that no one believes so we tell them we met in a bar. Everyone believes that.
Online. We met online, on a dating website called Uniformdating.com. I had just moved back to England after many years of working abroad, and having secured a fast paced job and a delightful circle of friends in The Big City, I felt content. I’m not gonna lie, I felt like Bridget Jones. Ah man. I was Bridget Jones. Big knickers, disastrous dates and bountiful ambition drowned in shots of vodka and snorting laughter.
After one particularly frivolous evening in a wine bar I watched a midnight episode of Cops whilst eating my ramen noodles sitting cross legged on the sofa (the epitome of class) Men in uniform. Now that’s hot. And safe. Very responsible choice. The next advert break flashed up a limited offer to join uniformdating.com. My logic being slightly skewed by the post work bottle/s of Pinot Grigio I reckoned that online dating couldn’t be any safer than online dating someone in uniform, someone who served the Queen! Once registered I spent the rest of my night amusing myself with the menu of uniformed men presented to me. And then I saw Him. Some how I just knew. Can that even classed as love at first sight?
Our first meeting was perfect. We met in a buzzing little bar in the centre of London packed to the rafters with jostling city suits and skirts, the electricity was immediate, the attraction was mutual. Our evening was saturated with laughter and flirting, exquisite food and appreciation. We held hands, we drank cocktails. He says I proposed. I’m not even going to try and deny it. Give me a Mojito and a view over London from the 29th floor of a five star hotel at midnight and I probably did. He was the gentleman every woman dreams of meeting.
And I met him! Then I married him.
He gave me the security I craved. He made me laugh, not only when I wanted to, but when I needed to. We were passionate. We were stubborn. We fought. We made up. We shared dreams and desserts. He stood by me, I stood by him. It was the greatest of starts.
Fast forward a couple of years and we still fight, we are still stubborn, we are still opinionated, wine sipping extroverts, but its calming down. The dust is settling on this new life fraught with constant upheaval and craziness that is military life and through it all, we are still best friends, I can count on him to be there for me no matter what. I know he is proud of me, of our little family, of what we have achieved so far and my goodness we have so much more to conquer! We are evolving. Together and as individuals. Our dreams are getting bigger, our expectations are dissipating. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have our precious Baby, our adventures or my sanity that is this blog.
So after I have spent the day dragging rubbish bins around, picking up dog poo, marching the length of the coast line with a push chair, crawling after a toddler, elbow deep in washing up water, chatting to lambs, cooking dinner, navigating bath time, hoovering up the remnants of a tantrum and finding peanut butter sandwiches crammed down the sides of sofas and He decides the best course of action is to send me a picture of the sunset in some far flung eastern country, whilst enjoying an ice cold beer with his colleagues after a busy day saving the world. I breathe and remember that at least he is alive and healthy. At least he is mine. That he is a great dad, a wonderful husband. He is my best friend and there is no one else that I trust more to make a killer mug of hot chocolate. He also looks damn fine in his uniform.
And then I get into bed and lie in the middle. Because I can. I’m grateful for that.
Pregnancy. Nope. No thank you. Nuh uh. Non.
Baby. Yes. Yup. The best. Life changing. Worth the broken vagina.
How do you describe how happy your child makes you to someone else?
But you know when it feels like your chest is going to explode with love, pride and appreciation? Just looking at the perfect features, the quirky characteristics. Listening to the conversations, the sleepy snuffling. Feeling the arms around your neck, the head resting on your shoulder. Tasting the chocolate on the fingers and the sea salt in their hair.
Being the one half that created the miracle whose hand seeks yours.
That smile? My heart beats a little faster every time.
Tell them you love them every chance you get.
I. Am. So. Grateful.
Deciding to acquire a dog when you are in the military is rather admirable. With the amount of moving, deployment and time spent in a car up and down the country it is hardly recommended. We got Dog on a wing and a prayer when Baby was a few weeks old. One of the main reasons was that with Him spending so much time away from his young family I needed to feel safe in our home alone. However, as we soon discovered, Dog would welcome anyone through our front door, back door, bathroom window. With a wagging tail he would help someone carry the television down the garden path and would probably show them where the chocolate biscuits were hidden so in the end Dog has become our housemate. Our dapper, wet nosed, pure bred housemate. Having experienced life in the military with a growing family I can see how a dog should appeal to everyone. Every time we have moved the one thing that has forced me out of the house initially is Dog, who needs walking, getting me out into the fresh air means I breathe, I meet people, I smile, I get wet, I get hot, I get to have a good old nose at peoples houses and front gardens. I laugh at Dog bounding up and down the lanes, his pink tongue lolloping along side. I am burning calories, I am allowed to day dream, to take photographs of my surroundings, to watch the sky change. The hour long walks get my heart beating, it releases endorphins which in itself reduces stress and anxiety. When I get home, I feel good on every level, and all I did was take the dog for a walk.
Dog and Baby have known each other from their day one. They play, they roll, they lick, they nibble, they chase. They love each other. What a wonderful bond for a human to learn at such a young age. Every morning as Baby and I plod down the stairs the excitement and joy on both of their faces is palpable, it’s like they’re shouting, “Its a new day! It’s a new day!” When Baby first learnt how to kiss, who was the first to be ordained into the special Baby kisses club? Dog. As they grow together their bond will become tighter, they will have never known a world without each other and with that I know they will never let each other down.
Similarly, a family dog is a constant. When your military life is constantly changing, different houses, different neighbours, different friends, different schools … who remains quietly at a families side, never changing, never saying goodbye? Its your trusting, reliable canine housemate, Dog.
Get a dog. Cheaper than another sibling and a gym membership.
*side note: Picking up poop does not make me smile. There is a lot of poop.
The nectar of the gods. Having discovered and studied (yes, seriously) it over the past two years let me be the one to tell you of its beauty. Unlike champagne with its stuck up reputation, it is lively, it is the people’s party. It sparkles and bounces. Sweet and crisp, it doesn’t require an occasion. It is the tipple of spontaneity, it is to be had with a group of friends in the late afternoon sun, garnished with raspberries, while watching the kids on the trampoline.
It is to be shared with your husband on a Tuesday evening with a dash of elderflower cordial whilst watching ten year old Friends re-runs on the sofa together as dinner cooks in the oven.
It is to be topped over crushed ice, apple juice and fresh mint leaves at the Married Patch weekend barbecue, a sure way to make even the most burnt burgers seem gourmet.
It is to be had in a chilled flute on its own, by you, whilst lying in a deep bubble bath late at night (because you remembered to pop the hot water on). Eyes closed, dreams, aspirations and hopes flitting across your mind as you listen to Pacheibel’s Canon in D (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVn2YGvIv0w) and allow it to ignite something inside you.
Best part about it? You can pick up a decent bottle for under a tenner. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face … then I don’t think we can be friends.
Mine and His Top Three Bottles:
1. The Co-Operative Prosecco – A prosecco with a light and delicate palate of pear, white apple with subtle floral hints and fine bubbles which makes it the ideal aperitif. This one is our favourite. Normally retails at £9.99, currently on offer for £6.66
2. Sainsbury’s Own – Sainsbury’s Conegliano Prosecco, Taste the Difference. Dry and fruity, it’s a beauty! Normally retails for £10.00, but look out for regular offers, the other day we found it for £7.50.
3. Perlezza Rose Spumante Brut -Unusually dry and not aromatic, it is elegant, refreshing and crisp with wisps of apple. This is the one that I would pop the raspberries into. Normally retails for around £9.00, but recently found it at The One Shop in Puddle for £6.00!
Regardless of where you are, who you are or who you are with, a candle can create something magical. A candle can calm, it can mourn, it can settle, it can soothe, it can bring piece and serenity. I have candles for bed time, for bubble baths, for colds. I light them to meditate. I burn them to smell the luxurious scents that wonder through our home on any particular occasion. At Christmas the winterberries and cinnamon sticks twirl round our living room like sugar plum fairies. My bedside candle is infused with smells of island life and surround me when I’m deep in thought, far, far away. A blocked nose? A eucalyptus and lime scented wax can ease your snuffles and swamp your mind with refreshing clarity. The gentle flickering, the crackle, the simplicity.
The beauty of it is that they are so easy to make and that at the same time you are indulging in the creation of something that can bring joy to you or someone else … it can only enlighten your soul and makes you a better person. It is so simple. But then … so is everything.
When I first started making them I referred to reallyprettyuseful.co.uk, the author is so sweet and funny in her tutoring that you want to make one immediately. After I initially read it I lost the name of her website and it took me ages to find it again, trawling through pages of google. Nope, didn’t realise I could of just looked at my internet history. How I manage to publish a blog is beyond me.
Right so. Shopping list for candles:
Bag of wax beads – I recommend Soy wax, it burns nicely and isn’t full of artificial rubbish. Alternatively just collect up all of the old candles you have lying around the house.
What do you want your candle to sit in? A shot glass, a jam jar, a teacup …. its yours, pop it in whatever you want.
Essential oils – to add a scent to your candles. Coconut, ylang ylang, bergamot, rose, vanilla … all settle beautifully in the wax, but the choice is yours, go crazy!
Wicks – Don’t just buy the string of wick … it is a nightmare to keep it still and straight while pouring and setting the wax. pre-waxed wicks are a miracle in their own right!
Once you have bought everything, pop onto reallyprettyuseful.co.uk and there really is nothing stopping you.
All of the above can be purchased very easily on Amazon and once you have had a few practice runs there is no stopping you! What could start out as something you do in the evening for yourself could become presents for friends, family and neighbours, could become a small business, could become an empire! Make them from the goodness of your heart, with the intended purpose of joy and the result will be perfect.
*If you aren’t in the position to buy any of these things or time is not of the essence or you need a bit of a pick me up, the first ten people to subscribe to my blog and e-mail their postal address, I’ll send you one of the BedSide Candles that I have made.
I am not religious so I won’t pretend to speak as if I am. I don’t know what I am. I think I would be classed as spiritual if I had to tick a box on a form.
I believe I am a soul on a journey that I have chosen. I am responsible for the way I think, the way I feel and the way my life path unfolds. I believe in asking for what I want, both emotionally and physically, I believe in asking to be protected. To be guided. I believe in banishing negativity with the belief that what you emit from your being is mirrored back to you and it isn’t worth the set back. It’s a lot easier to want the best for yourself, to love yourself, the people around you and to embrace the life you are navigating, than it is to resist and fight it. Who do I pray to? Hmmmm. The sky. Arch Angels, my guardian angel. There are no bended knees, no clasped hands, I just let my mind wonder, out loud, as I go about my day or whilst I’m lying quietly in bed, or when I’m walking Dog. I test the universe daily and every time I am rewarded with the answers and with proof that my energies are aligned exactly as they should be.
I can’t push my beliefs onto anyone… it is such a beautiful experience when you discover it on your own. You world bursts open into another realm of colour, of endless possibilities, of stillness.
It is the universal law of attraction – what you put out, you get back. You can have whatever you want. Just ask. And believe. Same as any religion really, huh?
There is an incredible woman, Esther who transcribes the readings of Abraham Hicks and if you have a ten minute period in your day listen to her piece on testing the universe. Do it. Nothing to lose. Listen to it while you wash up, whilst you’re driving, while you are in the shower. If anything, she has a lovely voice!
Testing the Universe – Esther Hicks
Be grateful for the freedom of thought and allow your mind to wonder and discover. If neither religion or spirituality appeal you give thanks anyway, you must have come from somewhere, and thats pretty awesome in itself.
Oh, and that thing that you want to do? Go do that.
Before marriage and children chocolate wasn’t on my radar. Neither were period cramps actually. Funny how life works.
Chocolate is now very much on my radar and in my cupboards and hidden behind the sofa and in my bedside drawer.
It is the indulgence that I slip towards most evenings that doesn’t need justification. I caress it with my mind as much as with my tongue. It is a love affair. You don’t need telling about my kinky acts with the cacau bean. You conduct your own, I’m sure.
I indulge in greater quantities when He is away, not only because I miss him and there is a gaping space on the sofa, but generally because he is not present to witness the vast amounts I can errrr…. indulge in.
This is my go to recipe when I am feeling deserved of comfort and pleasure. It is for one individual serving. Yours.
Puddle began to thaw over a couple of days, shaken from the shock of the sudden dusting of snow and frost, completely being dismissed of the explosion of summer it had been about to pour down on us. The sun poked its head out from behind the clouds every once in a while, but was almost always whisked away by blasts of wind. Our morning walks became layered and waterproofed, the cherry blossoms plastered to the tarred roads and mown grass shivering in clumps. It was a delightful change to the stuffiness that was home. The gusts would push us along as Baby and I would sing nursery rhymes at the tops of our voices, only stopping to greet the cows and sheep, sometimes the farmers wife and very occasionally a brave hiker that had stumbled into our two man 1 dog band. Summer would come, we were sure of it, Puddle hadn’t let us down yet.
Until next time xoxo
*Puddle, not its real name.