Category Archives: Family

A Long Last Post

This is not the end of my blogging and certainly not the end of my writing, but it is the end of this blog. It is a slightly bitter sweet moment for me. Bitter because I have enjoyed writing Cassie Being Cassie and it has charted a significant period of my life. The actual process of writing this blog has helped me to reflect on my life and refine my opinions and in that way has helped me to grow as a person. I have also challenged myself as a writer to be honest and explore issues close to my heart. I don’t think I have become a great writer or even a great blogger but I have seen improvements or just changes which please me. This blog also became my gateway into the world of blogging through which I have come to read and know many great people from diverse backgrounds who continue to impress and influence me. I will continue to follow their blogs and I hope they may continue to follow my other projects.

Yet this is also a sweet moment because as an end it also marks a beginning and a point in my life where I know more clearly who and what I am and where I am going. And the fun part is I am not at all where and what I expected to be!

I started this blog as an experiment; a chance to write and express myself in a new way, a new medium. I had no idea how the blog would develop or what it would really be about. It was full of random thoughts and ideas. I had a vague notion that people might be interested to read about the everyday life of somebody who called themself a Pagan and a Witch. I thought others might be interested in my travels, I expected to write more about my musical and artistic interests than I actually did and, closer to the bone, I needed a place to occasionally talk about my mother’s losing battle with dementia. All of those subjects were indeed discussed but a quick look at the tags and subject headings I have used reveals there was a lot more about sex, sexuality and relationships than I had envisaged and that while remaining central to my lifestyle my spiritual path and life as a witch evolved quite a lot.

As my life went on and my blog evolved there were two events that stood out in terms of being life changing and altering the nature of this blog. The first of course was meeting Sophie. From the start of this blog I was open about being bisexual but even so, while I thought I might write about my sexual adventures with men and women as a single girl, I still fully expected to end up with a man and probably have children by now. Two years ago I met Sophie and all that changed.

Those who read my last blog entry will know that Sophie and I have now set up an apartment together in Zurich. It has been a busy time but very rewarding and I can say that without doubt in terms of love and sex I am in a totally different situation and mindset now. I am bisexual by nature, I couldn’t change that any more than I could change my blood group. However I no longer have any hesitation in saying that I am fully and unequivocally lesbian by choice. I love Sophie and feel loved by her more than I thought it possible to love and I truly hope the rest of my life will not be just Cassie being Cassie, but Cassie and Sophie living life together. I also love Sophie’s daughter and I cannot explain the depths of joy it gives me to be accepted as a significant person in her life. Having a child of my own would not give me any greater satisfaction. Sophie and I have talked about the possibility of me having a child… Of course there are ways in which it could happen… Just as obviously there have been times when I wanted to become pregnant and give birth to a child of my own. But for all sorts of reasons, not least being the beautiful family I already have, I have both decided and fully accepted that childbirth is one of life’s wonders that I will not experience in this lifetime. Sophie and Tina are more than enough for me and being Tina’s second Mum is as much a privilege as having a child of my own. I don’t want and do not intend to have any other children. Period.

The other big change in my life came to a head at about the same time I met Sophie and that was the change in spiritual direction; becoming a Satanist. I could have done that very secretly and privately and perhaps in terms of Satanic philosophy that would have made more sense. But since I was already publicly blogging about witchcraft and my pagan lifestyle it would have seemed dishonest and deceitful not to mention such a fundamental change in my perspective. Moreover I felt then and I still do that Satanism is a very misunderstood and badly represented religion and philosophy. For many people it will always be associated with evil and depravity. But it isn’t that and I found myself in a position to say so out loud…

I hesitated at first. In fact I deleted my original ” coming out as a Satanist” post. When I did talk about it publicly here I lost some followers and I lost some friends off line too. But I found new followers here and on my Devils Advocate blog, and made a lot more friends and connections in the Satanic community and amoung open minded people in general. I have no regrets. I admit that Satanism is as much a cause as a religion to me and I am prepared to be open and public about it in the hope that my small voice may challenge a few misconceptions. Part of the reason for bringing this blog to an end is so that I can concentrate what little writing time I have at the moment on my Devils Advocate blog. Quite simply, that is where my writing and spiritual priorities are.

Of course I am happy that Sophie has also become a Satanist and embraced it as fully as me. It makes some aspects of our life together easier and more fulfilling; but it was never inevitable and it was never a deal breaker. Even if she had remained a Buddhist or if I had remained a Pagan the most important thing is that we found each other.

I have no regrets about Cassie Being Cassie. I have no regrets about the aspects of my life I have shared with readers over the past few years. I have been brash. I have been naughty. I have been thoughtful. I have been silly. I hope I have been kind and helpful sometimes. I have had adventures. I have had affairs. I have had a few triumphs and made a few mistakes. I have tried to be honest and I have certainly been politically incorrect! And I have done all these things a bit publicly, albeit in front of a readership I have largely come to regard as friends.

But that was Cassie Being Cassie, or perhaps Cassie Being Single.

And now things have changed.

Above all things Sophie and Tina are my priorities now. I feel the need to draw more of a veil of privacy around my family as we move forward together. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me but our challenges and adventures from now on will be private and personal.

I do of course have some regrets about saying goodbye to this particular blog. I have recorded some memorable and interesting personal times here. The fact of blogging about some things was in itself cathartic and added to the memories and impressions of the last few years. I also appreciated the space to vent my views about everything from pornography to smokers rights, politics, travel, art and music. I think I will miss that a lot and may incorporate some of those types of post into my other blog.

I will continue to write about Satanism in Devils Advocate.

Sophie and I will continue to post erotica (Okay, porn!) art and Satanic imagery on our Tumblr site.

I can still be found under the name Cassie Wren on Facebook (although I rarely post there).

Sophie and I may start a new more obviously themed and less personal blog here at WordPress sometime in the future.

I will continue to follow all those bloggers I follow now; you all mean a lot to me.

I can actually remember the first post I wrote here. I was sitting in the living room of my Mum’s house hunched over my laptop. Mum was sitting in an armchair across from me watching the TV. In those days we could still talk to each other; she used to forget the occasional word and was lost when it came to computers or any new technology, but in most respects her dementia hadn’t really taken hold. She couldn’t understand what I was doing on the computer but we could still chat about the things that I guess most mothers and daughters discuss. I cherish those memories and the times of just being together. Then the dementia came in force and stole her from me in progressively large chunks. Now she is in a care home. She doesn’t know her own name, let alone mine.

I had always thought I would be with her til the end; that I could and should put my life on hold until hers was over. I went through changes and opportunities opened up. But I held back… Waiting…

Rightly or wrongly I have decided to stop waiting. In my head I know that is what she would have wanted, but my heart has been more difficult to convince.

As I move on with my new family I hope I can be somewhere near as good a mother to Tina as my Mum has been to me.

If you happen to pass by a collection box for Dementia research please put a few coins in the box. And meanwhile celebrate and enjoy every moment of healthy living you have.

Thank you for reading.

Cassie Being Cassie

The End.

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family

Change of the year

This is always a time of the year for being a bit reflective, to look back at what has happened during the year. I think it is also a time to look ahead.

In terms of things happening the stand out events of this year were everything leading up to the sale of my mothers’s house. The best part of that was a blissful summer holiday with my partner and her child, giving the old house an epilogue of happy memories for the walls to soak up. But then finally in the late autumn, after more than a year of lawyers and packing, my old place was actually sold and I walked out down the garden path for the last time. I shed more than a few tears on that occasion.

At least the sale secured my mother’s place in the care home for the foreseeable future. During this year I have watched dementia claim more and more of her mind and memories. This Christmas has not been happy because it is the first one during which my mum clearly didn’t know who I was or understand any of the festivities going on around her. She is barely able to speak now and the few words she does say don’t make sense at all any more. I feel I have lost my mum although she is still physically there. There are no words I could say here which would convey the depths of my feelings about that, but perhaps some of my more empathic readers and those who also have dementia in their family will understand.

It would be too easy to dwell on the above but there have been happy and positive things this year too; the most important of which is the deepening relationship with my girlfriend Sophie and her daughter. They are my family now;- such a small phrase but such huge ramifications. I could think of several things to say about that which would all sound like cliché’s, but they would still be true. The broadest but truest clichés would be that they make me complete and they make me a better, more whole person.

Looking back through my posts this year I see I have written a lot about sexuality; nothing new there, but the perspective has changed a bit. I have always been a supporter of people being free to express their true sexuality and to live lives that afford them the best chance of happiness. I have always been dismayed by the hostility and lack of tolerance some people show to those who are gay, bisexual or transgender. But now that I have become one half of what most people would see as a lesbian couple these issues do seem a bit more personal and urgent.

Yet what I feel has changed most in me and my outlook on life has less to do with sexuality and more to do emotional and spiritual development. I feel I have left the “Maiden” phase of life behind to a large degree and entered to “Mother” phase. I believe I still look fairly young and attractive but there are a few persistent winkles under the make up and grey hairs disguised by dye, and I like it that way. I love Sophie’s daughter as if she were my own and feel extremely protective of her. When thinking about the future my nest-building instincts are totally in charge.

Spiritually I am more secure in my path despite the fact that there have been a few challenges to my beliefs and lifestyle this year. My closest friends and most esteemed internet followers have stayed with me or given me the benefit of the doubt if they don’t quite agree with my views, but I have lost some friends this year on account of my beliefs. And I have had to be less open and more economical with the truth in some circumstances than I would like. But at the same time I have made new friends in Satanic circles and much of my social life and writing revolves around Satanism these days. It is just a part of me, like my tattoos but even more deeply engraved in my soul.

So what about the future? What about 2014? Well I never like to predict things or even plan things too far ahead. As a witch I could consult the Tarot or the Dark Mirror as I am occasionally asked to do for others; but for myself I never really want to know what’s round the corner until I get there. There are a few plans and ideas I can  open about though…

I’ll be spending New Year in Zurich with Sophie and (I’m sure this won’t shock any regular readers) we will be spending part of our time flat hunting with the aim of moving in together as soon as possible. So I will be leaving my home in the UK and becoming a resident of Switzerland. I’m excited. My German is okay, hopefully by this time next year Ill be able to clam that I’m truly bilingual.

In the summer Sophie and I may go on an extended holiday to somewhere exotic…

There is a promise of a promotion at work. This has come up before but this time they more or less let me write my own job description so that should also happen in the early part of the year. I’ll still be frequently travelling and teaching in central Europe but will have a bit more time in the office to organise and write resources and training programs for our teachers. And I’ll be bridging the gap between our academic department and the sales team. Yes, and I’ll be getting more money!

I am not sure what will happen to this blog. I feel I have neglected it a bit during this year. I am not really sure who is interested in my views on life the universe and everything… I have written much more this year in my other blog, Devil’s Advocate which is specifically about Satanism and my writing there seems more focused. Sometimes I have felt like ending this blog just because I can’t imagine who is interested in the rambling thoughts of an itinerant teacher, witch, musical fan… And yet… I like reading it. I like looking back to see where I have been. I like the process of refining my thoughts and ideas into simple words that might even make sense to others… And ultimately, isn’t blogging to a large degree writing for ourselves? So I will continue but there may be some changes and I am hoping that this will not only be a recording of my journey but also a recording of the journey that Sophie and Cassie make together. So, watch this space!

The other thing I love about blogging is the community of people you get to know and follow. I continue to learn a great deal from those who follow me and think of many of you guys as friends by now…

So, to all my regular readers, thank you for being you, thank you for sharing your thoughts and expertise and for exposing aspects of your soul to me through this medium. I wish you all the best for the coming year, I wish you strength to meet every challenge and plenty of opportunities to be happy to the core of your being.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Home

Home

I seem to have found a buyer for my mother’s house. I admit I am conflicted about this news. On the one hand it is very good news. It was becoming imperative to find a buyer quickly before my Mum’s remaining funds run out and the sale will secure her care and financial situation for the foreseeable future. This is a big relief as I was getting worried about what would happen if I didn’t find a buyer and get the money in time. On the other hand it means I am really losing my family home which I have been using as a personal space and store room during the past couple of years. In all that time the idea of actually selling the place and having to move out completely seemed like a far off reality even as I was clearing the place out.

But now it really is happening and there is a lot to do fast and (because of the way the system works here in the UK) the pace is really being set by lawyers and things out of my control.

And the final traces of me and my Mum have to be removed from the building.

I have been feeling unusually stressed and even a bit depressed this week. Yesterday I went to visit my mum in the care home. She always seems happy to see me although I don’t think she really has any idea who I am any-more. She doesn’t really know who “she” is either. We don’t really have conversations now. I hold her hand and tell her what has been going on in my life. Sometimes she listens, sometimes she interrupts with whatever random thoughts are going through her mind. She doesn’t really understand what anyone is saying to her. When she speaks, disconnected words and sentences come out but I can no longer make any sense of it or even guess what she is trying to convey. She seems happy though. Insane, but happy…

And what is happening with the house seems to parallel what is going on in her mind. Bit by bit the memories are being moved out and pretty soon there will be nothing left.

I usually have no trouble in thinking positively about things, but this week it has been a bit of a struggle.

But I have to be positive.

I am glad that this summer I was able to enjoy six blissful weeks with Sophie and Tina in the house. The energy we leave the house with will be beautiful. And it will be engrained somewhere in the walls even after all the furniture is gone. All the happy moments from my childhood will continues to echo here and my mother’s love will keep the place warm and homely for whoever moves in next.

I will also take those memories with me as I move on.  My next home will be with Sophie and Tina and we will make it a warm and loving place and fill it with new memories. Meanwhile I will continues to visit the shell of my Mum in the care home as often as I can until she moves on too.

Bringing Up Children

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While I suppose many aspects of my lifestyle are a bit unconventional, on the subject of bringing up children I think my views are quite conservative. I had quite a strict upbringing. There were rules of behaviour within our home which I was obliged to keep to. I remember there being limits on how much TV I could watch and what time I should go to bed. There were places I was allowed to play and places I wasn’t. I had to eat my meals at set times and at least try to eat everything on the plate. More importantly I was supposed to behave correctly and politely at school and at home especially when we had guests. My parents never hit me or slapped me; they didn’t need to. Their word was law. If I got into trouble at school I was mortified because I knew my parents would be disappointed in me (and that was punishment in itself). I can honestly say it never occurred to me to be rude to teachers or to guests at home.

I was not a “goodie-goodie” child. I used to get into trouble for talking to much, for being messy and sometimes lazy, for being late, for forgetting my homework, and occasionally for doing things which were just silly or outright dangerous. But on the whole, I was well behaved.

When I did something wrong, the most serious actual punishment I can remember was being sent to my room or loosing privileges such as pocket money, sweets or cake. Mostly though, my parents just had authority which I didn’t question, backed up with rewards when I did something particularly good.

As a result of this upbringing I generally did well at school and was well liked by the people around me; this won me privileges and respect. I seemed to mature a little faster than some of my peers and because I was generally well behaved and sensible, my parents trusted me in my teenage years and I was actually allowed a lot more freedom and independence at that stage than most of my friends.

These days, while I may be a bit unconventional, I am a confident, happy and, I believe, quite successful person. I attribute all of this to my fairly strict upbringing.

As  teacher I am occasionally appalled by the behaviour of some of the students I have to teach. I generally don’t blame them, but I do wonder what their parents have been playing at. I think most of my students would describe me as a fun teacher despite the fact that I also tend to be very strict about the standard of work and behaviour I expect (and sometimes demand) from them. I do think children need and respect boundaries; and once those have been firmly established lessons can be very relaxed and a lot of fun.

I dislike being around badly behaved children…. Children screaming and causing a fuss in supermarkets while their parents do nothing to stop them. Children shouting and swearing in the street even if their parents are beside them… Children misbehaving in restaurants, on planes and trains and in other public places while their parents ignore them and carry on as if nothing was wrong… So in fact it is not really the children that I object to but the lack of control and perhaps “care” demonstrated by their parents.

Of course as a teacher and fairly experienced adult I know that some children have behavioural problems which are not the fault of their parents. Some children are predisposed to be naughty and disobedient and others have more profound psychological problems. But still, I don’t think all the bad behaviour I see every day can be the result of ADHD or other such disorders. I think there is an awful lot of bad parenting going on.

However I am not a parent, and I recognise (with some degree of sadness) that there are many aspects of parenthood that I am not really qualified to comment on or judge. But my situation is changing…

My girlfriend has a nine year old daughter, and while she will never be my daughter she certainly has become part of my family and my maternal instincts are very much engaged. For somebody as inexperienced as me at taking care of my own children, Tina is a gift! She is so well behaved that on the rare occasion that I have to even slightly chastise her, I feel much more uncomfortable about it than she does. The key is that she has already been very well brought up. Sophie is as strict with her as my parents were with me and so she is a very polite, respectful and intelligent girl. More importantly, because bad behaviour is never an issue we can go to places and do lots of fun things as a family that otherwise would not be possible. I am sure that Tina will mature early (she already is doing) and become a happy, confident and independent young women. As a test for my parenting instincts she is almost too easy!

When I first met Sophie and realised that my life was going to go in a very unexpected direction, my broodiness stopped for a while and I gave up all ambitions to have a child of my own. Having spent a lot of time with Tina recently however, I realised that my broodiness was just on hold and I am very much in the “Mother” phase of life. Rather than write a long essay on the subject I will just say that I feel like a very different person now than I did even a couple of years ago and I am happy to feel more like a mother than a teenager. But the body clock has started ticking loudly again.

Sophie and I have discussed all this at length and I have come to the conclusion that just because I am in a lesbian relationship does not mean it is impossible to have a child of my own. There are all sorts of ways and means, and we are starting to actively look into them… And I am excited.

I would love to have the privilege of binging up my own child according to my own values. And I am sure if it happens my more strident views on good parenting will be challenged!

But anyway… That’s the plan.

Oh and just in case some very pretty young Swiss eyes should happen to read this post at some point… Even if I have my own son or daughter one day; Tina will always be an incredibly special part of my family… a little bit like a daughter and a lot like a friend. And I love her as much as I love her Mummy. xx

Me Now (August 2013)

And finally to finish my 4 year wordpress anniversary reblog fest, here is a survey I first did nearly 3 years ago; with my updated answers in bold.

My Mood today is… Variable, trying to make sense of where I’m at and where I’m going. Good, happy, optimistic
Relationship status… Single  Happily coupled with Sophie

Health status… Quite good physically, quite strained emotionally Healthy mind and healthy body
I would describe my spiritual path as… eclectic pagan and Taoist but the path is overgrown and meandering at the moment. Freethinking, independent, Satanist. The path still has plenty of twists and turns but the walk is exciting and energising.
Main thing on my mind is… my mother.  Going on holiday (unofficial honeymoon) with Sophie in ten days, 
My ambitions are…. Long term to get a book published, medium term continued success at work and short term getting the basics back on track. I still want to get a book or several published but my immediate ambitions revolve around moving in with Sophie permanently during the next year.
What I want most is…. My mum to be happy, healthy and settled. The same might apply to me. For my Mum’s remaining days to be as happy and peaceful as possible. For me…See my ambitions.
What I need most is…. Rejuvenating rest and an injection of positive energy. For my Mum’s house to be sold and for me to win the lottery!
I have been reading…. Nothing much lately. Mostly work related things.
I have been watching… Strictly!  I’ve had better things to do than watch TV!
I have been listening to…. Lush and other old favorites on my Ipod. Radio 6 in the garden
My best characteristics are…. Empathy, listening and usually a positive outlook. No change there.

My worst characteristics are… indecisiveness and being strong willed; a strange combination. No change there either, although I am less indecisive than I used to be.
My vices are… smoking and drinking, sex when possible and with the right person. Hmm no real change except I probably do them all more and have probably added a few!
Politically I would describe myself as… Opinionated and left wing but increasingly frustrated with all mainstream parties. The same but probably a bit more libertarian on most issues and more right wing on law and order.

In terms of fashion and lifestyle I would describe myself as… Alternative chic! Individualistic and happy in my own skin.
I would like to learn… How to paint and draw and how to play a musical instrument, and many other things. The same… I’ll add how to tattoo to the list.
My recent regrets are…  Not being able to do more. Feeling unable to stop my mum’s deterioration.
My recent achievements are… Good feedback from my students and colleagues. The same really and winning some new contracts for my company.
My message to myself is… Be yourself and live as fully as you can. That’s a good message so I’ll repeat it. Be yourself and live as fully as you can

 

Mother and Daughter

In order for the following post to make any sense I have to first speak about something I am normally silent about; my father.

I felt I had a charmed childhood with loving and understanding parents. Virtually all my childhood memories of both my parents are happy ones. I loved both my parents equally,  but if anything I was probably “Daddy’s girl.” Of course as I got older I began to realise, as we all do, that my parents were only human and they both had their faults and imperfections, as I do, as we all do… During my late teens I became aware that my father was having an affair. I did not hate or judge him for that, and to be honest I suspect that at some time my Mum may have had an affair herself. But I did begin to realise that my parent’s relationship was not as ideal as I had always assumed.

My mother’s health began to deteriorate. At first there were a lot of non specific, undiagnosed things. Then she had a minor stroke. Then another one. Then her memory started to go. 

In the midst of all this, my father left us for another woman. I do not judge him for that in itself. I am now in my mid thirties. I have had affairs myself. I have made plenty of my own mistakes and done many things I am not so proud of. I understood that my parents marriage was over and accepted that, even though the timing was awful. However what I can’t understand or forgive is the total lack of support my father gave to my mother and to me during her illness. He has seldom spoken to either of us since that time. He left me to be my mother’s nurse and helper. He has not done a single thing to help me, let alone my mum. I was left with the total responsibility for her care and dealing with all her financial affairs. I had to grow up fast.

My mum has now lost her mind completely. I last heard from my father seven years ago. That is the last I will speak of him in this blog.

Just over a week ago Sophie met my mum for the first time. Since then she has come visiting with me several times. Of course my mum doesn’t really know who I am any more so on the surface she would be incapable of recognising exactly what Sophie means to me. But I am sure she does.

Mum took me to school and helped me with my homework. She bathed my wounds when I fell down and stayed with me when I was sick. She never failed to make birthdays and Christmases special and magical for me. She was often my friend and my playmate, but she was always my guide and my mentor. She often wiped away my tears and made me laugh.

My mum was always strict but fair with me and because I generally behaved quite well she trusted me with a lot of independence as I got older. Actually I have come to see that trust as a form of love in itself.

When I was 15 I had my first serious boyfriend; the one whom I had decided would take my virginity. I had always been able to talk to my parents openly about sex and they trusted me. Even so, when it gets real it is always nerve racking and you are not sure how parents will react. But I told my mum that as soon as I was sixteen I intended to do the deed. A couple of days after my sixteenth birthday my mum went with me to the doctors. She sat beside me in the waiting room and when I came out she took me to the chemist to get my first prescription for the pill.

Since then she has seen all my boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. Some she liked a lot; others she probably didn’t. In my teens and twenties our relationship changed. She was still my mum, but she was also an adult friend; somebody I could talk to more openly than anyone else. And those were testing times because while I had been a very well behaved child; as a teenager and adult I was sometimes less well behaved. I made mistakes; sometimes bad ones, and I got hurt. Mum was always there to help me pick myself up and she always accepted me for who I was. When I became a witch (which meant a radical departure from our nominal Catholic faith) her brow may have furrowed a little bit, but she accepted it. Later she asked me how to make some herbal cures and even how to do a few simple spells. When I had my first serious girlfriend her brow probably furrowed a little bit more, but she accepted that too and was there to console me when I got dumped. More importantly, she didn’t dismiss it as an experiment gone wrong.

“Between you and me Cassie,” She said one evening when we were drinking together in the garden and both a bit tipsy, “I think I’m bisexual too. Of course I never explored that side of things… I don’t think I ever will… But I admire you for having the courage to be yourself and make your own way… If you do end up with another woman though it would be nice if you adopted some children..”

Well the next big relationship I had was much more conventional with a guy called Andy. He was nice and is still a friend. I guess both my mum and I both had high hopes that he would really be the one and would help me provide my mum with some grandchildren. It didn’t work out that way though.

By the time Andy and I split up, Mum’s memory had deteriorated badly and the first signs of early onset dementia were already quite profound. During the next couple of years I had a few adventures with men (I’ve never been much good at being a nun!) but none of them developed into serious relationships.

And then I met Sophie.

And now Mum can barely speak, and when she does nothing that comes out of her mouth makes any sense. But we sit there, me holding her hand and Sophie holding mine. And we listen to the strange things she says and try to react appropriately if she asks something. I try to gauge how Sophie feels in this surreal situation and suddenly she says to me, “I think we should bring Tina (Sophie’s daughter) next time if you don’t think it will confuse your mum too much. I’d just like Tina to know her.”

I look at my Mum and have a little cry. I think she would be proud and happy with the way her family has grown.

Summer Ideal

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I have of course been immensely looking forward to Sophie and her daughter coming to spend the summer with me and last weekend when I met them at the airport I was as excited as any child at Christmas waiting for them to emerge from the Arrivals Hall. When they did finally come through the doors it really was like a scene from a tacky movie with lots of kissing and hugging and, yes, tears as well; happy ones…

I had spent the previous few days busily getting the house ready for them. My mother’s house has been on the market for over a year now. I have to sell it to pay her care home fees. On the one hand it is quite worrying that it hasn’t been sold yet but on the other hand it is very convenient that it is still there. For much of the past year I have had the depressing job of emptying her house of all possessions (which nobody should have to do while their parents are still living) and yet it has still been my retreat, my real home and escape from the world although I haven’t officially lived there for several years. It has been quite a treat to be able to move some things back into the house and redecorate it (albeit sparsely) to suit the needs of the three of us for the summer. Even if I get a buyer now, I think Sophie, Tina and I are safe to stay here for the next six weeks. And anyway I love the house and I am quite emotional (in a good way) about the chance to inject some more memories and love into it’s walls before I leave. This house is about my childhood and has seen my growth into a woman. I suppose most of all it retains the spirit of my mother before she was ill; and I want that spirit to know and be known by Sophie…*

I am still working, but I have managed to take time off from my regular job during the summer and work part time instead for a local language school for the next month. It means I am only working four hours a day (and the work is very easy in comparison to what I normally do). So afternoons and evenings are completely free to devote to Sophie and Tina.

I had lots of plans; places to go, things to see and do to keep my girlfriend and her daughter entertained, but then summer happened…

Britain is in the grip of the longest and hottest heat wave for many years. Every day this past week has been blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures in the thirties (90`F).Newspapers and the TV news are boasting every day that at the moment most of Great Britain is hotter than Spain, Greece, Florida or The Caribbean. So since it was too hot to actually do much else, we have spent most afternoons lazing in the garden getting an all over tan.

I was a bit worried about the garden because I have neglected it and it is very over-grown. The good thing however is that it means we are completely secluded and nobody else can see in. Most importantly though, Tina loves it. I am becoming convinced that Tina is a reincarnation of Gerald Durrell (author of My Family And Other Animals)! She thinks the garden is a jungle and she spends endless hours exploring and collecting wildlife samples. It is a good job I overcame my fear of spiders many years ago because my house is now filled eight legged mini beasts; some of them in jars and some not! Obviously I have not really played any part in Tina’s upbringing until now, but whatever Sophie did, she did right. Tina is a lovely, bright girl; also very kind and polite. It is truly a pleasure to have her around and I am so glad she likes it here.

When not enthusing about spiders, worms and the occasional butterfly, mine and Sophie’s intensive sunbathing is only interrupted by trips to the kitchen to make snacks, get ice cream or mix cocktails.

In the early evenings the three of us leave the house and go down to the beach for a swim. There is a nice unspoilt stretch of beach about twenty minutes walk from my mum’s house. Sophie and Tina may be able to ski and endure the freezing weather in the Alps better than me; but when it comes to swimming in the cold English Channel, I’ve got them both beat!

When we get home again we cook and eat. This week most of our meals have been improvised barbecues. Tina goes to bed between nine and ten. Sophie and I snuggle up then and watch a dvd or something on TV. Later we go up to my old bedroom and amuse ourselves for hours before going to sleep.

The heatwave is expected to last for another week by which time I expect to be as brown as my favourite Egyptian Goddess! I will get to the things we planned to do… Eventually.

This old house has always been about family to me. It still is.

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* I have also taken Sophie to visit my Mum. It went well. I may write about it another time.