Friday, 7 November 2008

Autumn reflections

Autumn is my favourite season. Well then, of course, there’s spring too, and summer’s good………. even winter has its blessings. Let’s face it, I love living in this country because we do get to experience ALL of the seasons, although summer can be noticeable by her absence! By the end of each season, I am ready for the next: looking forward to the changes ahead and hauling the next season’s clothes out of storage. This time of year is a triumph of colour, a feast of preserving and storing and that distinctive smell of wood smoke as tiny spirals dance lightly from cottage chimneys. Putting a match to the fire and hearing the crackle and spit; seeing the flare of flame and inhaling the smell of apple wood. Candles glimmer on the mantelpiece and the house smells of apple spice, cinnamon or winter berries. I put hand crocheted “granny” blankets over the backs of all the chairs and the curtains are drawn against the ink black night.

Today was one of those autumnal days of watery sunshine and I went to a local church to clean it for my mum. Mum is the official church cleaner but she is spending the week up in Scotland with my dad and I have volunteered to step in. Bromesberrow church is such a lovely church. It dates back to 1170AD and is full of architectural gems. The drive up to it is a tree-lined avenue and today the sun set the colours off to perfection. Bromesberrow lies in the foothills of the Malverns, where they merge into the Eastnor hills. From the A417, the timber framed spire can be seen jutting out from the trees and standing in relief against the gentle rolling landscape of the hills.

And then, in a spiritual juxtaposition, behind Bromesberrow (or Bromsberrow as it is also called), following the twisting lanes, you come to White Leaved Oak – a tiny settlement nestling at the base of the hills. There are some amazing walks around here, not least a visit to the White Leaved Oak itself. Much folklore and legend has sprung up about this tree, including debates as to whether it is THE original pagan White Leaved Oak. Nonetheless, it is clearly a place of pilgrimage and the tree is adorned with crystals, ribbons, flowers and crafts, especially at Solstice. It is said the tree marks the centre point of laylines which include locations such as Stonehenge and Glastonbury.

Wherever your Spiritual faith lies, on a day like today, you only have to look around you and see the wonders of nature and marvel at her display of vibrant colours, even as she is dying off, ready to be reborn in the Spring. My drive home was spent in quiet contemplation: having been moved by stories from other PurpleCoo members, seeing nature at work, spending time in the serenity of that ancient church and thinking of family and friends. It is these quiet, still moments that bring us closer to who we really are and I felt the stress ebb away.

I drove up the lane, glad of my 4x4 as I plunged through mud and yet more mud. Now I know why I always seem to have a stripe of mud on the inside of my right calf – note to self “wash the door sills!” As I reverse on the drive, J is in the kitchen window and the kettle is gently sending puffs of steam from its spout as it boils on the Rayburn. He knows me so well, this man of mine………….

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Hens, carpets and gravel!

Here are our new girls! I’m not a fan of soap operas, but when I was a child, I remember watching Coronation Street with my Nan so, when naming our new additions; it just HAD to be done. Welcome to Ena (Sharples), Betty (don’t know what her surname was), Hilda (Ogden) and Mavis (Riley).

Nearly one week on and they are getting their feathers back. They have learnt to scratch around in the dirt, stretch their wings and even jump up onto the roof of the hen house we borrowed for them. Tonight, we put them into our own hen house with our Buff Orpington girls and, hopefully, by tomorrow they will all be fully integrated.

Oh, and the eggs! We were a bit worried about the quantity we would get, as they are ex-battery hens but, no need! We are getting 3 eggs a day and, yes, they are delicious. Our Buffs lay pale, creamy coloured eggs – these are ever so slightly smaller and brown. We had one egg laid in the transporter box as we brought them to their new home and we gave it to my niece – first egg for a special young lady.

The other exciting thing that has happened is our new stair runner! It was fitted today – our bargain, half price, lovely, scrummy, Roger Oates carpet. (It looks more pink in the photos but it is actually a raspberry colour!) During our alterations, we moved the staircase and, on one of my eBay forages, I found an antique stair rope and carpet clips – so, a stair runner it just had to be. Roger Oates’ studio is in Eastnor, Herefordshire and I have long loved his carpets and visited the studio shop often, as it is just down the road. Our latest visit brought with it the delight in finding a runner that was only ever produced as a sample, and there was enough for our stairs! At half the normal price, it had to be……..

And finally for today, I am off to bed to get an early night in preparation of a gravel delivery which, with mum and dad, I will be spreading over the membrane I have laid in the front garden. Tomorrow night, no doubt, I will have a bad back and blistered hands from raking!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

And......... the kitchen.

Our bargain eBay kitchen out of a farmhouse, re-jigged by our carpenter and walls liberally decorated with some of Jimmy's enamel signs found at a car boot sale.

We were VERY naughty and bought a Lec retro fridge (also off the internet!)

Alfie looks very bored by it all now.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Finally - some extension pics!

Some pictures of our new bedroom and ensuite - kitchen, hallway, new stairs and outside to follow!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Getting back on track

Office – paint everything and wax everything else. Hang blind.
Downstairs loo – paint shoe pigeonholes.
Utility room – Wax window and sand/reseal worktop and sink area. Paint inside cupboard doors (yes, I know you can’t see inside but I’ll know they need doing…) Get a blind. Hang it.
Garden – don’t go there!

I’m not going to talk about the extension – the “to-do” list speaks for itself and my life is nearly back to normal. Well, as normal as they usually are in our household.

J finally found the leads for the camera but, in the meantime, we have had nightmare internet problems and India Telecom, sorry, British Telecom, have taken their time in sorting them out. I shan’t embroider on that but I’m sure you know EXACTLY what I mean. Suffice to say, things have been fraught here as J tries to run a business with temperamental internet access for checking orders and emails.

For me, things have also not been so good. My health has been pretty naff (all Scleroderma related) and I’ve been as hacked off, fed up, low, bordering on depressed and as antisocial as anyone can get. There! It just feels good getting out. How anything has got done chez Woozle, (by Woozle, that is) is pretty amazing but I’ve slowly hauled myself from my fog of self pity and, as I have been able to start walking again bit by bit, got back out into my garden and let it weave its magic on me. I’ve averted my eyes from the triffid-like weeds that have leapt up everywhere and systematically tackled my borders; plants have re-emerged from tangles of bind weed, along with my good humour.

A couple of weeks ago, I managed a few days down in Cornwall at my friend’s parents’ who have retired to Delabole. I was so chuffed to be able to go on a cliff top walk, without a stick and even with a spring in my step (when I wasn’t going uphill!). We walked from Daymer Bay round towards Rock, but the rain clouds started to gather on the horizon (again!) so we headed back to the car and ate ice-cream as the rain pelted the roof and the windows steamed up around us. Bliss, actually! The waves rolled in, topped by brilliant white crests of foam and the wind whistled through the car, but we grinned at each other over our cones and laughed at our red tipped noses and cheeks and windswept hair.

The next day we visited a National Trust property – Trerice. I really loved it as it wasn’t too big and you could almost imagine living there (funds permitting). The gardens were gorgeous – not too formal and the orchard was a delight to walk through. Round by the vegetable area and greenhouses there was a scything demonstration and the young girl made it look so easy as she used tiny movements, back and forth, to clear around the bases of trees. We ate cake and drank tea but did grumble at the sandwiches - £4.10! Not on your Nelly!!

All too soon it was Thursday morning and I packed up the car to come home. I drove through the whole gamut of rain, wind and sunshine as I headed northwards up the M5 and dodged a car that had shed its canoes from the roof onto the hard shoulder. Finally the familiar landscape of home loomed as I saw the Malverns rising from the ground and the wind whispered “nearly there” to the drone of “home, home, home” from my tyres as they ate up the remaining miles of tarmac.

My heart always lifts when I see those hills – they’re not majestic mountains, or dramatic cliffs but their presence on the landscape marks home to me. They are beautiful and graceful, gentle almost, as they rise out of the ground close to the triangle where Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire meet. They were Elgar’s inspiration and I truly understand why. I have walked the length and breadth of them, as he did, and never ceased to marvel at the views over this, my very favourite part of our beautiful island.

As I turned into our lane and past the village shop, I waved to John as he was sorting out the locally grown tomatoes in the boxes outside and then pulled over for the hedge cutting tractor. Life was going on as usual and thoughts drifted to seeing the dogs and cat again, making my first cuppa for 3 hours and waiting for J to come home from work. When I got out of the car to open the gate, I could hear the dogs barking with excitement as they recognized the sound of my car and it brought a smile to my face. I love going away and seeing new places – marveling at the diverse countryside to be found a few hours down the road, breathing sea air and having my hair whipped around my head by the sea breeze. But I always love coming back again, just as much, or even more. The going away makes the homecoming even sweeter and I can look around with renewed vigour, rather than horror, as I make a mental note of things to go on my list before I get flattened by 3 furry hounds.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Forgive me Headmistress – it has been too long since I last blogged and joined in with class properly.

What can I say? I have popped in briefly and signed the register. Occasionally I have gone on class outings with the Welsh/Marches girls, but on the whole I have been absent. And to top it all, I’ve lost the wires that connect the camera to the computer. I say “I” but that is very tongue in cheek – it is not “I” but “he”…….. as well as his car keys, mobile phone, blah, blah……… So no pictures to put up to at least show some excuse for my absence as we now enter the tweaking and pruning section of finishing the extension.

To do list: New bedroom – finish painting 2 walls and paint skirtings/door frames and wax windows. Paint floor. Get curtains. Hang curtains. Move in.
Ensuite – last coat of paint on floor.
Office – paint everything and wax everything else. Hang blind.
New staircase – ditto.
Hall – hang pictures.
Downstairs loo – paint shoe pigeonholes and hang mirror/hat rack. Hang blind.
Utility room – Wax window and sand/reseal worktop and sink area. Paint inside cupboard doors (yes, I know you can’t see inside but I’ll know they need doing…) Get a blind. Hang it.
Porch – lay floor tiles.
Kitchen – paint shutters.
Garden – don’t go there!

Apart from that, we are so very nearly done. This last final push is the worse bit as we can now live happily in the house just as it is and this is dangerous. It would be too easy to stop and “have a rest” for a bit, but I know that the little niggly things would never get finished off (like inside those cupboards). So, Dad has been coming for the last couple of weeks and has been sanding rough bits, touching up the paintwork here and there, filling in little cracks and holes and generally pulling it all together and driving us along. Last week he painted our new stable door and it looks brill. At the weekend Mum came and moved all the left over pieces of Kingspan stored in the gazebo and put them behind the barn out of the way. Then we sat in it and had lunch in the garden, eyes firmly averted from the trenches half filled in and the skip that still sits outside the back door.

A sedge warbler is nesting low down in one of the garden borders. We had heard its glorious warbling and thought it was nesting down near our neighbour’s pond but, no, this daft but exquisite little bird decided to make its nest in full view of anyone walking past with a sharp eye. At first we thought it was a field mouse nest, as it was positioned tilted slightly forward. Then, when Mum went to look, the eggs had appeared and the female was agitatedly flitting from branch to branch of a nearby tree. We were terrified she’d abandon the nest but the change in the weather turned our attention to all things inside again until yesterday when Mum went to check and two little yellow edged beaks could be seen waiting for their next feed. Mum didn’t hang about but we are all hoping that there’s more than just two from the clutch of eggs we saw.
Whilst all this has been going on, I’ve been laid up with a bad foot, and feeling frustrated at my lack of mobility. It was coming on when I met up with Bodran, CCA, Elizabethm, Mountainear and SBS at The Dingle Nurseries near Welshpool. I was glad to pull onto the car park as my foot was throbbing and I managed to hobble around, buoyed along by excellent company, fantastic surroundings and glorious weather. I even succumbed to buying a few plants for my ravaged garden but not as many as CCA! I dreaded the drive home but eventually made it and hoped the anti-inflammatories would soon kick in.

Several weeks later and here I am, sat with my feet up and almost at the end of a course of combined antibiotics. The inflammation became my first ever ulcer on the ball of my foot (I get them regularly on my hands): I cried and railed against Scleroderma and I have never been so miserable. I would have sheepishly logged on for a Purple Hug request if my laptop hadn’t been packed away for the final bit of plastering as we had a new ceiling in the dining room. But no, I couldn’t even surf the net so sat and wailed in pain and frustration, surrounded by books I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to read, while Mum and Dad beavered away on the house and J was at work.

And then, on Saturday night, our beloved George finally succumbed to the lung cancer that’s ravaged his body since Christmas. He saw his 78th birthday the week before and then went to join his darling daughter, A, who left us last year with a brain tumour. George and Olive had managed a final visit to see us in April – they knew time was running out and George so desperately wanted to see the house. They have been second parents to J and he looks haggard with the grief of losing the man who played the role of father to him when his own could not. As for Olive, she is in a whirl as she has lost her husband and only child within a year.

We are all numb and I sit and gaze out of the window at the hive of activity as birds are feeding their young. My friend texts me pictures of her 3 month old daughter. The birds are singing as the cycle of life continues around us; my eyes fill up with tears of sadness for lost ones but then I manage a watery smile and give thanks for being a part of it all.

The pictures are of us with George during happier times - we miss him already.

Monday, 3 March 2008

A day in my life

Tagged by Faith to write about a typical day in my life!

A day in the life of Woozle

Every day, except Sunday, starts at 7am. The alarm is just going off and my arm flailing around to turn off the incessant noise when J comes in, flinging the curtains open and depositing a cup of tea by my side. His side of the bed is almost cold as he is a 6 o’clocker (or thereabouts – I’m still in a deep coma and never hear him get up) and he is chirpy and chatty as he changes from his chicken letting out and dog walking clobber to something a bit more respectable. By the time I have drunk my tea the fog has lifted from my brain and I have made plans for the day, which will, no doubt, be cast to the wind as soon as I get downstairs.

Before the extension, my morning shower consisted off a mad dash downstairs, through the cold lobby and into the freezing domain off the downstairs shower room. It was a relief to stand under the warm water but then it took a marathon of will power to get out into the cold, wrap my towel around me and leg it back up to dry and dress in the warmth. Now, our gorgeous new ensuite (which is ensuite to our new bedroom, which we haven’t yet moved into…….) sports a gorgeous Victorian style shower with the biggest drench head and I don’t want to get out for other reasons………

Dressed, windows flung open and bed turned back to air, I scoop up one of my carefully sorted piles of washing (why does that black sock manage to creep into my best white bedlinen pile?) and plod downstairs, dodging the dogs who want to say good morning before I’ve emptied my arms of washing. Once they’ve had their chins scratched and I’ve spoken to each in turn, the girls throw themselves back down on their bed and Alfie lies down with a big sigh in front of the Rayburn.

During our building works, all our tradesmen usually pull up about 8am and we have to co-ordinate vehicles on the drive to make sure mine doesn’t get blocked in at the back in case I need to pop out to Travis Perkins or the plumber’s merchant. I learnt very early on that it doesn’t do to annoy the tradesmen by asking them to move 3 vans when they are a) up a ladder, b) soldering copper pipe or c) on the roof.

Now my day is dictated by endless brews of tea and dashes to the village shop as, horror of horrors, the supply of custard creams and chocolate bourbons is reduced to a few crumbs. I dream of the time when my “old” life comes back and instead of painstakingly keeping spreadsheets of accounts, I can pore over seed catalogues with a mug of tea for one (or maybe two if J is around, instead of six builders). Will I ever get back to the time when I can lay the fire for the evening, flick a quick duster round and run the Dyson over the carpet (those darned white dogs of ours!), shimmy the bathroom, tidy the kitchen and then have the rest of the day to potter in the garden? Or have mum and dad over for lunch? Or take the dogs for a really long walk without being scared I’ll come back home to a doorway being put somewhere “creative” because I wasn’t there at the time?

Lunchtime is a brief reprieve as our workmen retreat to their vans with flasks, packed lunches and radios, and I can reclaim my home for half an hour. I never really thought of the impact having men just walking in and out all the time would have on our life. Your home is meant to be your private world but all that goes out the window when you embark on this kind of project. My “normal” life would see me sat at the kitchen table, lunch before me and the binoculars at my elbow to watch the activity from the bird box in the perry pear tree; now I skulk away in the farthest room to the work – the lounge.

As we are moving along this project, my days have changed a bit to include the excitement of getting paint on the walls. Last week we got window cills and what a transformation – everywhere looks cleaner, instead of plaster rough edges and fluffy bits of insulation sticking out of the cavity under the windows. I’ve got to wax the windows yet, but I’ll get round to it soon. Somehow or other, I’ve got to find time to prepare dinner as well as wielding a brush now that we are eating back at home. For the last few months, we have been eating at mum and dad’s, but when the kitchen was finished it was such a treat to be able to stay in and cook. The novelty is only just starting to wear off as the enormous task of decorating raises its head as we enter the home run. Painting/eating/painting……… decisions, decisions.

By the time our men have gone (4pm) calm descends and we greedily wander round looking at what’s been achieved and can be crossed off the “to do” list. I love a list. I can’t live without them, actually. Lists for shopping, lists for chores, lists of garden plants/pruning times/vegetable crop rotations, lists of birthdays and phone calls………. endless lists pinned or stuck to all available surfaces at the moment. Confession time. I know it seems early to some, but this is the time I like to have a glass of wine. Chilled white wine in hand, I can wander from room to room seeing what’s been done (or not!) and then go back to the kitchen, make another list and then get on with cooking, accompanied by the occasional sip of wine. My second glass is with dinner and then that’s it. Back to the tea! My town mouse friend is always horrified if she rings at around 5pm and I’m drinking. She tells me that it’s WAY too early, but I have to remind her that I’m not like her and that when I start it doesn’t mean that I then drink all night. I’m done with alcohol by 8pm – she drinks until she goes to bed so daren’t start until 8pm!

I keep an eye on the light levels so that I can go and put the hens away. We have one, Willis, (we hatched 3 of our own and called them Freeman, Hardy and Willis. Needless to say, Freeman and Hardy were re-homed as we would have had 3 cockerels!) who always comes back out of the hen house if you go out too early. She is the greediest of our girls and is always on the look out for titbits, even at bedtime, so I try to go out during those last dusk moments when I know she will have hopped on the perch to roost, instead of sticking her head out of the pop hole watching for me to come out as her signal to come charging to the gate. It is a game to her but I want to get on with the dinner!

I love it when J sits with me at the kitchen table, chatting, or helps with chopping and peeling. It’s a good time of day for us to talk properly and I miss it if he is working away. I usually send him off to check his emails and make phone calls while I clear up after dinner and then I’ll wander through to the lounge and sit in front of the fire with a mug of tea. Very rarely is the TV on in our house – J is a news hound and I love a good thriller or period drama, but soaps are definitely out. However, Grand Designs and those kind of programmes have sneaked in a bit as we have been absorbed in all things house renovation – you’d think we’d want to get away from it but it is an obsession at the moment. I think we get a perverse pleasure when we see other couples overcoming the same problems we have and it certainly makes us feel better when they admit to going over budget. It’s not just us then! Lately, this is the time that I do my ironing as there is no way I can do it during the day, but even this is a novelty at the moment as the washing machine has only been plumbed in 3 weeks!

I usually go off and run a bath then come down to make the last cuppa which I will take up to bed whilst J watches the news. This is my book time and I heap the pillows up and read until he comes up to bed too. I hear him let the dogs out for their last wee, call the cat in, put the milk bottles out and lock up and it is my cue to finish the chapter before he comes up.

We like to sleep with the window open and I love it when the lights go out and all is dark and silent, except for the occasional hooting of an owl or the sound of a disturbed animal in the hedges, and you’re warm and snuggly beneath the covers. I love it even more if I can get off to sleep before J breaks the silence and starts snoring……….

Friday, 25 January 2008

For Mum

It’s been a while since I have blogged and I have much to catch up on. Trying to remember things to tell you has caused me to sit and reflect on the last few months and how all this started.

I didn’t enter the CL competition but started to blog around the time it was “all happening” in February 2007. Writing an online diary was therapeutic and opened up a whole new world I never knew existed. And I “met” you; became involved in your lives through the good times and some bad times, and even though I have been an infrequent player lately, the warmth of the site ensures I can dip in and out when I can. It’s like coming home to family after long absences and it is this that I am going to share with you – my family.

As many of you know, it was my 40th birthday in November. I thought I was going out with my nearest and dearest for a low-key family meal at the Three Choirs Vineyard restaurant, near my home. But, oh no! My wonderful, fabulous and sometimes exasperating family had plotted and sneaked around behind my back to arrange the MOST wonderful get-together of all my closest family, friends and former work colleagues. They raided my address book and pinched my mobile phone to get telephone numbers – nothing was sacred. The extent of their deception in other circumstances would have horrified me but I forgave them instantly, after I recovered from the shock, that is!

Jimmy was run ragged on nervous exhaustion and, with hindsight, his behaviour had been a little odd. But, as he’d been preparing to work Lincoln Christmas Market and Worcester Christmas Fair, I’d been used to him coming and going and making umpteen phone calls to fellow traders, to check on pitch locations and such-like.

My poor mum, on the other hand, nearly had a nervous breakdown. As we have been eating and showering at mum’s during our extension works, she’d been trying to co-ordinate everyone whilst I was in the shower. I never suspected a thing when she ushered me up the stairs for first shower, nor did I think it strange when they all went quiet when I came down the stairs again for my forgotten towel. They pulled it off with the flair of fully trained MI5 intelligence officers, but it was my mum who pulled it all together.

Mum works at a local B&B the-grovehouse and it is also here that we keep Diamond (a lovely horse I had on loan for a while from a friend but she has taken him back on full time now) and became friendly with the house’s owners, Ellen and Michael. They have a barn there for weddings and parties and they gave my family the free run of it for my party. But this wasn’t all. As we had been eating at mum’s every night, there was no way that any food could be prepared without me seeing it. The fridge was out of bounds too, which was a bit tricky as I am chief tea maker, and there was nowhere to hide the wine either!

This was the bit I found hardest to get my head around when I found out the extent of the military operation of my birthday celebrations. Our wonderful neighbours in the village not only also kept the secret, but provided all the hot food. They made curries and casseroles, in addition to bringing cold platters and the desserts. The farmer’s wife, over the road from us, even made my birthday cake. It was truly the most wonderful surprise of my life.

They managed to get me inside (still unsuspecting, I might add!) under the pretext of picking mum up from work as she’d been “helping at a wedding” before we went on to my birthday meal at the Three Choirs. Now, what I haven’t told you is that as lovely as Grove House is, it has antiquated wiring and it is always having power cuts at inappropriate moments. So when we pulled up, mum came out in a flap and asked if I could help her as the wedding reception was in full flow and the power had gone. Being an old hand at stepping into the breach, I huffed a bit and moaned and got out the car to help with candles and matches while we sorted the trip out. But of course, I walked into darkness that suddenly became light and was surrounded by a sea of my best-loved people in the whole world.

Yes, I did cry. My pregnant best friend had traveled up from London with her partner and 3 year old son; my uncle and cousins had come up from Bath; my brother and heavily pregnant sister-in-law had come from Birmingham; some other friends had come from Kent; my former boss (she was my true mentor at work) and her husband were there; our whole village……. Oh, I could go on. Shock registered on my face as I looked at each grouping of people and I saw friends that I hadn’t seen for nearly 12 months in some cases. The evening passed in a whirl but is filed away in my precious memories box. I’m not usually one for surprise parties, but this was amazing. To be surrounded by my nearest and dearest for my 40th was actually all I could have wanted, and they pulled out all the stops for me that night.

And my mum worked hard all night – bringing out the food from the kitchen, taking dirty plates away and washing up. She did not stop until the last wine glass was washed and put back in the box, except in her toast to me when I blew out my candle (just the one, otherwise it would have melted the cake!!). She spoke of our special relationship; the times when she was bringing me up as a single parent with my widowed Nan helping, but the fun us three girls had as our own unit; her remarriage and our growing into a bigger family and the way our relationship has grown, as I have, over the years. She made me blush, cry and laugh in succession as she told everyone how I was a model baby who hardly cried; a toddler who found an almost empty wine bottle at my uncle’s house and swigged the last bit down and carried it to her saying “Nice!”; her grief when she found out I had Scleroderma and how our roles are beginning to reverse as we each get older.

So, to my mum, today is YOUR birthday and I would like to say that although we are now friends in a different way, I am still your little girl and you are a wonderful Mum who has put your family first throughout your life. I will cherish the memories of my childhood and can still close my eyes and catapult myself back to the little blue chair you had welded into your truck’s cab for me, so that I could come to work with you when you were making ends meet as a lorry driver. I can still hear you singing nursery rhymes with me, until you were hoarse, on those long journeys and remember sharing a packed lunch that Nan had made for us. Those were our special times – the three of us against the world, and I consider myself the luckiest of children to have shared it all with you. XX