Why Are Kids Banned & Punished For Grieving?

15727213731_fc3dde6aec_b.jpgWe got Williams report today and they gave him 10 unauthorised absences for the days he missed after mum died (his very much loved grandma) in September.

I’m absolutely appalled by this and on doing some research it seems its quite normal, in fact any child taking time off following a death is classed as taking an extended ‘holiday’ It is just not allowed ! You will be fined! It’s official.. Kids are not allowed to grieve!

During the first few days of mums unexpected death (it was a very traumatic time) we were ‘door stepped’ by the school who sent round the schools attendance officer and LEA attendance officer to knock on our door without warning and question us. It was one of the most traumatic, humiliating and upsetting moments of our lives.

I sat at my dining table with my exhausted body slumping and a red raw face from crying solidly for three days , in front of me was the details of the procedures the funeral director needed to carry out on mums body and a number of forms I needed to fill out to register the death. I sat slumped with humiliation , William by my side as he sobbed Silent tears of grief and sadness and They stood over us and talked at us , we don’t remember what they said.. We just stared at them unseeingly and on mute through our pain.

We were so shocked and too upset to be able to react properly at the time, we had maintained contact with the school letting them know why William wouldn’t be in and even requesting the pastoral team to contact us with advice on how to support our broken young man. They responded by turning up unannounced (just after we’d seen the funeral director ) to check up on us. How is this even allowed, let alone appropriate, to intrude on a grieving family? I can only presume they turned up to check we weren’t lying about mums death?! They returned un-invited four days later and did the same.

William took 10 days off in total, two of which he was ill, one he was at the funeral and the rest he was simply broken. (You get two attendance marks a day )

Both our girls were given three weeks off university at this time but William apparently wasn’t entitled to any, yet at 13 was the one struggling the most.

To make things worse the school also dished out 10 behaviour points and 10 detentions on his return, among other things , for not completing homework that was set during the time he was absent.

We had been assured that during his return that all his teachers would be informed of his situation and that they would help support him. It was agreed that at anytime should he find himself getting emotional or that any time felt he was overwhelmed, that he could let the teacher know and they’d send him to the pastoral office where the dedicated staff member would support him.

On his first day he became upset after been given his third detention.. (teachers hadn’t been informed after all) and requested that he could go to see the dedicated staff member. The teacher reluctantly let him go after saying ‘don’t you think you’ve had enough time off?’.

As William arrived at the pastoral office he discovered that the staff member who was looking after him was busy with another pupil. So he was sent to the first aid room where the school nurse sat him in a room and gave him a box of tissues and left. He was in that room over an hour on his own and when the nurse came back she snapped ‘ you still crying?’ Tutted and left the room again. Not helpful.

He called us sobbing and we went to collect him, we were told we couldn’t just ‘pick him up’ without permission .. our own son? .. the conversation didn’t last long as we demanded firmly that we were taken to him and we could and indeed would ‘just take him’ at any time. Indeed he was found sat on his own sobbing to an empty room, our broken boy.

Just as you think you can see the light

Five months later and after counselling (that we organised privately) William is much better but on finding out his absences were ‘un authorised’ yesterday we felt very let down.. again! We are so very upset that it’s clear they care so little for our child and his needs. How can kids feel safe and ‘held’ when their grief is dismissed so easily? And how do we as parents trust the school to take care of our children when they are in their care?

For most kids loosing a grandparent it’s most probably the worst moment of their life so far, their first experience of loss and their first time that they question their own mortality! The way this is processed will determine how they deal with death into the future. Belittling this grief and not allowing or recognising their pain sends them a very strong but clear message… it says ” we don’t care about your family or your feelings, we just care about you passing your exams” it also tells them that grieving is somehow not acceptable.. perhaps even weak. This approach is not going to encourage any child to feel encouraged to engage in school life, the place they spend a solid eleven years of their live, day to day and it certainly doesn’t build us healthy and strong adults of the future.

The school report we received yesterday informs us that it is ‘very likely further action will be taken’ (due to this high level of unauthorised absence) . How fantastic! So after we start to recover from the hardest and most traumatic time of all of our lives, we now have to deal with a fine and the humiliation of having to sign a document that promises that we commit to ensuring excellent attendance or risk a trip to court and even social services getting involved.

As parents.  we are all committed to our children’s school and education , but our priority is always the commitment to our children and their overall health and happiness.. that always comes first!

I, like every other parent, expected to have the control over how we parented and that we’d decide what was best for our child. When you hold your baby for the first time you never imagine you won’t be able to care for your child at times of sadness without having to follow someone else’s rules or risk been fined or threatened.

Could we be at risk of social services getting involved? They did turn up at our house without warning and if they do take us to court what will happen? Will we be seen as a family who doesn’t do our duty and provide a solid education for our children? We weren’t the ones leaving a distressed child alone in a room, nor were we humiliating him in front of his peers or dismissing his sadness. We only let him grieve in a safe and loving environment, so how is it we feel so frightened?

It’s a no from me

Did you know a child can only attend a funeral at the discretion of a head teacher?

No matter what, who or how the death occurred. It’s right there in the report from the former schools minister ( it is the former schools minister, but I cant find any more recent information so have to presume this thinking still stands) 

It’s not a given they can attend to say goodbye to their loved ones at a funeral with all their other family members and parents . No, it’s something a near stranger decides for you and your child.. let that sink in a moment.. you don’t decide if you child attends the funeral of a family member with the rest of their family!

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Punishing with behaviour records.

William has an exemplary behaviour record, teachers always tell us he is attentive, quiet, polite and considerate. I’m not just doing the ‘my child is never naughty’ thing, he has him moments like any normal child, but William is and has been a gentle and quiet boy, the easiest of our four children and best behaved, he is a good kid. But this year so far he has so many ‘behaviour points’ given to him without any discussion or consideration.

It seems the way forward is to punish our kids whatever, in any circumstance. In fact they don’t even allow a child to try an explain their situation ( this is disrespecting the teacher) . So now , on record, he is suddenly seen as a child in which ‘action needs to be taken’ and he didn’t do anything wrong but grieve.

These ‘points’ come from him not completing homework that was set while he was absent (following the death …in one instance he didn’t get a log-in for an online learning scheme and was put in detention for not knowing about it.. it was given to children while he was at the funeral) one of the detentions was handed out for taking the wrong socks for PE on his first day back after the funeral. Socks??? if only they had seen the courage and strength he mustered to return to school that day! ..Then to top it off, another detention, because we didn’t sign his personal planner during the two weeks he was off school. I mean really? what were they trying to do to us? were we not broken enough? This was beginning to feel like they were bullying us.

He was shouted at and punished without any consideration of what was going on with him, blanket rules for individual children really doesn’t work .

When in training

When you train to be a teacher you are taught to always consider the needs of each individual student/learner. In fact I remember tons of sessions during my training where we examined how to see each learner as an individual with individual needs. We had brain storming sessions weekly where we were encouraged to think of reasons a student may be struggling or need support. Of course hitting a teacher or another student is a pretty black or white case, but giving the same punishments to a child for forgetting his PE socks (when they are going through a really rough time) is not something you are trained to do! It’s common sense to everyone surely?

You are trained to recognise when your discretion should be used. It’s your job as a teacher, your responsibility. Are teaching staff forced to implement no tolerance to all students now? It’s a dangerous and cruel tactic if they are?

As it stands at Williams school, you get the same punishment for your parent not signing you planner as say, a student who just verbally abused a teacher in a fit of rage.

This attitude is not teaching fairness and doesn’t give children the space to be heard or respected. School is not the army! This is a modern school, a place that is supposed to offer safety, pastoral care and social enrichment not punish the kids at every opportunity no matter what the specifics.

This stuff messes kids up! They don’t forget! It shapes them and sends them into the future believing their voice is not worthy of being heard. They believe that they are a failure and that if something out of their control affects their performance they must take the blame and just ‘carry on’ .

Not such a great message when the biggest cause of death in young men is suicide and that young people are self harming in higher numbers that ever before.

Schools are actively and openly damaging our children.

Problem parents and problem child

Not only did William go through a very traumatic time and loose one of his closest relatives, but he has now been tarred as a problem child in school and we have been labelled as problem parents. (Just to be clear, we have dedicated our lives to our children) we are not problem parents!

Looking at employment information and guidelines, adults (including teaching staff) receive 5 days minimum paid bereavement leave and up to 6 weeks unpaid.. however our children are not granted any. They are children, why aren’t they supported?

How does this make any sense? When we are in a time where the mental health of our children is at an all time low, surely we understand the importance of self care and pastoral, supportive environments ? Is the school system really supporting our children or are they marching them straight into a life of depression, self harm , mental illness and anxiety?

Apparently according to the former education minister, children can not use the death of a loved one as an “excuse to take an ‘extended holiday’ under any circumstances” as it affects their overall results long term! Don’t worry about the shell of child they spit out when they turn 16, as long as they get the results!

In what era do we live in? We moved on a long time ago from believing children should be separated and kept away from death. It’s clear that these archaic ideas have caused untold damage to the lives of children in the past.

Parents and experts (parents are experts on their child by the way) now understand that children must be able to grieve , to do this they must be told the truth about death and kept involved with people they love both in life, illness and in death. It’s the only way to heal and only way to move on into the future. It goes without saying that some children need to get straight back into life, but that is up to the parent and child to decide.

A funeral is crucial part of this process, a ritual and a closure, a final goodbye in the presence of you family and friends.

I repeat the only people that know what is right for a child is their parent and the child themselves. It certainly isn’t the call of a head teacher, who in most schools have very little to do with each child on a day to day basis. I doubt Williams head teacher could pick him out of a line up..he certainly says he’s never been face to face with her. So how does she get to give her blessing for him to attend a funeral? What does she know about what his needs are? or indeed who is is at all?

Cruise and Marie Curie, among others,  advise that each child is individually affected in their own way and that they should lead the way when deciding when they are ready to return to every day life after a loss. It certainly is not the duty of the education minister, the head teacher or the attendance officer, it’s the child and their parents.

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Just to make sure they are well and truly broken

To make things worse and to fire the final nail in the coffin (pardon the pun) they continue to punish that child who took time off to grieve for the rest of the year. Every report sent out that same year will mention their low attendance (anything under 97.5. % is low) and this low attendance is forever referred to as staff make decisions on who is moved up and down in subject sets that reflect their abilities.

It’s openly acknowledged in school that often ability related sets are over subscribed to. So they need to make space to move kids up to achieve their potential. To do this they will take out the students with the lowest attendance before those with the lowest achievement level. This was told to me by staff when we questioned why our high achieving son was moved down a set. He was moved down not because he was struggling with the work but because he had taken time off due to illness.

So students who are ill, disabled, grieving or simply struggling with life, are put down into groups that don’t provide them opportunity to fulfil their potential academically. All because the system sees only ‘healthy’ students as their priority. In short it’s not about how clever you are, it’s about how lucky you are to stay healthy and that you are lucky enough to be blessed with an easy life. Yet another blow in the confidence of the child who is already facing challenging times.

If you’ve ever sat in a class where you are far beyond the level you are taught , you will understand the frustration and how it sets in a strong feeling of dissolution. Particularly as lower sets do tend to have less disciplined and positive learning environments.

Treats for the healthy and Lucky

At the end of the academic year many schools have a treat for those students who have excellent attendance. It maybe a film or take-out pizza, sometimes it’s a trip to a theme park. In the final year it’s the eligibility to attend prom.

It goes without saying that students who have been unlucky enough to be ill throughout the year or have lost a loved one, they will be excluded from these celebrations.

It is often normal for these children to sit and witness those celebrating their good health and fortune, while they are publicly excluded from the fun. A humiliating day and I guess that’s the entire point of it, to humiliate the kids into attendance?!

William’s school also offers a prize for the form with the overall highest attendance. Of course this creates added peer pressure and tension as poorly students and students who need time away, “let down the whole class.” Encouraging bullying and extra pressure these struggling children just don’t need the extra pressure.

For all those sick kids, for all those with challenging home lives , who are grieving or are suffering with their mental health, their school life consists of one miserable day after another. Something that really won’t help them during their already difficult lives.

So as they trudge through their childhood in an environment that doesn’t hear them or believe in them, they end their year sat in a detention room as their friends celebrate the end of school. They just sit punished once more for no other reason that not fitting to the expectations of every other ‘normal’ or healthy child. Often this repeated insinuation that they are not good enough sets in a attitude if ‘why bother’ and eventually they give up even trying at all.

Prom

The prom, albeit a modern and imported American tradition, means a lot to the kids these days. It marks the end of their school life and in turn marks the beginning of their adult life. It’s a milestone for them, a little like a modern debutant ball.

Yet even here, at the last opportunity the school has to bring all their students together, celebrate their childhood and achievements they still exclude and refuse to let some children celebrate.

Not only do they make them miserable and separate them from day to day school life, they then make sure they end it all with a parting shot of ‘ we don’t think you should be at prom because it’s to celebrate the ‘successful’ kids, you are not one of them, your time here was pointless, your childhood was wasted! ‘

Talk about a final kick in the teeth.

 

 

Providing a safe environment

What ever happened to providing an environment in which children can achieve and flourish? For many ‘unlucky’ children, school is torture. It punishes them at every corner. Staff don’t hear them, they don’t consider them and they punish them for the things they have no control over.

To finish them off they separate them from their peers and create a behaviour record that doesn’t reflect that child in any way, yet that reputation follows them into the future.

Recently the press reported that the rates for children deregistered from schools to be ‘home educated’ has risen sharply. These parents repeatedly say they felt forced out because their children were not a good statistic for the school. Is this what is happening? If a child doesn’t fit the desired mould do they purposely make them feel so undervalued and unsupported that they feel they have no option but to leave?

After all, parents only want their children to be well and happy. If school is not only preparing them for a life of work but for a life of mental illness and lack of self worth, then I don’t see many parents not taking them out of the system.

Perfect for those schools wanting 100% pass rates they separate the proverbial wheat .

Remember you can sit a gcse at any age, you can learn at any age, only the school system demands it has to be achieved by the age of 16. As many parents ask themselves what is more important? Is it health, happiness and confidence for life? or is it 8 GCSEs by the age of 16?

It’s clear the schools, government and Lea’s need to consider their responsibilities to our children and mostly they have to stop abusing them for not fulfilling their blanket expectations.

 

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Packing, ordering and preparing to make life easy?

You know when you have a good idea and when you actually start to implement it the realisation dawns on you that it really wasn’t a good idea at all?  yeah well that is my life right now…

So we have our week in Norway booked for next week. we go on Wednesday and spend a week there. We do have some work to do while we are there but after the first few days we can relax and simply play in the snow and have some fun.

Anyway I decided that it would be the best idea in the world to get a couple of big messy jobs done on the house while we were away.. you know we could come back after our holidays and walk into the most lovely of finished jobs and wouldn’t be stressed or worried about it while it was happening….  The realisation is we will walk in to two lovely rooms but a whole load of mess everywhere else!

This all sound great doesn’t it but the realisation has hit home that I still have to prepare for the builders, ~I have to empty the largest room in the house into the smallest room of the house and I have to take delivery of showers, toilets, shower panels, flooring and other such items. All this as well as pack for the holiday and make sure the second daughter has all the food and money she’s needs to stay home alone.

Not only are we doing the bathroom we are having the family room, kitchen, bathroom and boot room re-floored, we’ve been waiting for ages to get this done and putting it off because its open plan and takes up 3/4’s of the entire downstairs.

Thankfully the floor man is up for moving the furniture about for us but I still need to empty all our personal affects out.. which included all our shoes/ coats and bags from the boot room… there are 6 of us.. thats a lots of coats and crap!!

I currently have a shower cabin in my conservatory and a box of taps and wall lights, but if you think thats bad we have an entire bathroom arriving on Saturday morning, 6 huge shower panels on Monday and 30 packs of real wood flooring on Monday.. I cant even face thinking about it!!!

Im going to be so thrilled to leave the house on Tuesday next week.. let hope we haven’t filed for divorce by then, because as always Mr O really hasn’t given this all much thought and doesn’t quite realise how much of his weekend will descend into chaos.

wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

On the Quest for My Bed Soul Mate!!! oooh errr missus!@!@

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After spending the whole of my married life obsessing on creating the perfect bed (like the one on our honeymoon) …A sumptuous hotel bed that literally hugged the hell out of us the moment we climbed in. (I’d like to say it was the start of a first wedded night of bliss…. but to be fair we were so knackered  after the long day of smiling and wearing posh clothes.. it took us 4 whole days to make our vows legal!)

Well after 25 years of searching for my perfect bed that even came close to our honeymoon bed of dreams but now……  I finally found the holy grail !

I know!

….but this is big news for a 45 year old woman.. can you believe I used to get my thrills from nightclubbing and drinking copious amount of alco-pops at illegal raves (and all the treats they would bring) Rock and Roll baby.. it all about the bed these days!!!

So over the years I have worked hard on my search, finally plumping for the Eve mattress, Soak and Sleep silk filled pillows, an amazing feather and down duvet and the most glorious silk and microfibre mattress topper you can ever imagine!!!!.

Our bed is, we realise, an understated grown up and constant support and comfort..but the actual bedding and sheets where still unfound..

I have tried lots of different sheets and duvet covers to bring the combo together, from decorative prints, white lace, fleece covered, high and low thread count and everything in-between… realising that the only way forward is plain and super high thread count. But although I have some amazing sheets ( mostly from Soak and Sleep) they were never quite hitting the ‘honeymoon spot’.

Just before Christmas I spent a LOT of money on some bedding from a high end hotel range..The same hotel that provided us with that dream bed of years gone by.. I saved up for a few years for it and finally went for it just before Christmas as a gift to us to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary..

The plan was we finally returned to our honeymoon bed of dreams and our silver wedding anniversary would be the moment that we returned to those lazy hotel days.. ( I say ‘we’ but my husband is so over this obsession… (he could literally get comfy for sleep stood up in a storm barefooted on a bed on nails)

I couldn’t wait.. it was imported from France… Paris no less!!! the excitement was tangible..( well in my head anyway) When it arrived I unwrapped the tissue paper and removed the silk pouch of lavender that graced and adorned each individual piece.. I really did feel like I had something special….. I could not wait to get them on the bed… I felt like a 22 year old Parisian lady… opening her luxurious purchases with class and pretended that is was a normal occurrence that I received such luxury… ” this is normal for me’ I said to my invisable audience.

 Oh the disappointment!

Up to now the bedding set have been washed 5/6 times, I have tried all kinds of fabric softener and even bought a special cashmere softening solution to do the job…. but… they are still very scratchy!
They are still really stiff and you can hear the rustle as I spread it over my glorious cloud like mattress topper… I don’t want a rustle.. I want to hear the sound of a sigh.. a sigh that floats up from the silky smooth fabric as I stroke it smooth across the bed ( albeit in my chipped nail varnish adorned hands) …but no… its more of a grunt than a sigh… it reminds me of sleeping in hospital as a young girl, as the nurse tucked me into the far too hard bed with sheets of a hardness that would put off even the most laid back of decorator looking for a sheet to cover the carpet.

I don’t want function and hard wearing!!! I want softness, indescribable pleasure and comfort hugging me daily and making me groan with pleasure as I slide my feet about under the plump of the quilt, finding the cool spots against my hard heeled trotters.

I could weep for my saved up money.. our special treat… lost now as they won’t change or refund because I washed them.. aren’t you are supposed to wash new sheets before you use them?!?

(I could have kitted the whole family out in Linenbundle twice with that money!!… ‘gutted’ is an understatement )

The Customer service was rubbish too!!! The once purring Parisian accent that soothed me through my order had been replaced with an ‘Edith from Allo Allo’ doppelgänger  as she lectured me about the quality of the product and how I had now ( imagine the accent of a snooty Parisian madam) ‘used the sheets so they were no use to anyone now’… I imagined her inspecting her nails as she spoke to me with an air of utter disinterest.

I was very upset .. (this is a polite way to put it because I was really p*ssed off) All that saving up, the expectation of the utter luxury they promised… I was very sad .. and yes I know this is pathetic.. but some people get obsessed with the perfect lipstick or pair of designer shoes, maybe you’re are obsessed with dolphins or some ludicrous sports car.. I know.. I know… I’m just obsessed with my bed.. ok?

So as I sulked the facebook spooky spying elves had been listening and started throwing up loads of luxury bedding sites…. and yes I started looking again… and then I saw them…

Linenbundle!!!!

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I knew straight they were going to look after me even if I didn’t like the product, they were saying everything on their page that I wanted.. I mean there was actual a list of reasons why I should buy them… that list could have been written by me!!

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I felt like I’d met my bed soul mate!

So I spent some more money (albeit it a hell of a lot less than the posh hotel stuff but still money I had put aside for the fancy new tap in the bathroom) on one of the splendid bundles !!!

 

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They arrived in a little grey canvas bag and although not individually wrapped in tissue paper with a silk lavender bag.. there was postcard with Lionel Richie on it and cute little pun… I LOVE THAT!

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As soon as I opened them I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for.. soft, natural, classy, and kind of understated really… but in a ‘Im really amazing but I don’t need to tell you about it’ kind of vibe….

I put them on the bed and OMG!!!!! they are just what I have been searching for for the last 25 years!!!! I climbed in at exactly 5pm and did that weird thing where I kind of cycle my legs about between the sheet and duvet testing the smoothness and enjoying the coolness of the fabric.. I am very weird like that! I made lots of groaning and MMMMmmmming noises and thats where I was found an hour later by my hubster..

I was in bed with my pjs on watching Tv with my 5 year old as he walked in ( if he was a cartoon he’d have had a question mark above his head) .. unapologetic and knowingly I just just held up my hand to stop his questions before they started!

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I simply flipped over the quilt on his side, with no hesitation at all he kicked of his trousers and climbed in…

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God I love that man!

 

So we all sat there unspeaking and happy for another hour before dragging ourself up and downstairs to pretend we were normal.

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There was a small issue with the quilt cover which Im not even going to add because it was quite irrelevant in the whole scheme of things and besides it was rectified in 24 hours as a new one sent out no quibbles.. they even said the keep the old one as a spare!!!

So yes.. they are Fab! I love them!!! the customer service was fab.. friendly, quick and faultless. just the kind of no fuss I like.

I’ve now got a set for my daughter and will get a bundle for each of my other brood, one  every month I reckon.. so by the summer we will all be languishing in glamorous beds!!!

 

 

So in a nutshell…

Yes  Linenbundle sheets and bedding are a little pricy but, they are by no means as expensive as those selling equivalent quality!

These sheets are NOT Argos or ASDA.. they are not ‘£7.99 for a fitted sheet’ that after three washes looks like a whole load of un-soaked orbies as it turns into a million little balls of irritation!!! These will get softer and more loved with age… you can just tell its going to keep on getting nicer and nicer!!

No printed unicorns, peacocks of flamingos to fade and go out of fashion, no faux satin panels or Broderie anglaise frill… these are plain and understatedly expensive looking.. a bit of quiet class..

Ditch the prints…and fuss….after all no-one expects the queen to sleep under a duvet sporting a black and white printed image of London ( with the phone box the only thing showing colour) .. her majesty  is in plain, soft and expensive sheets.. you know it…she knows it.. it the only way to go.

 

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This purchase isn’t a throw away fashion purchase..

It’s an investment!!!

Your bed is important!!!

Spend extra on it! ( but you don’t need to spend too much.. the price is just right)

It so worth saving a little and getting these, you’ll never buy a scratchy patterned printed duvet cover again that will bobble up in the wash and go out of style before it’s pattern fades to a grey shadow of its former self ..

keep in plain…

keep it soft..

keep it classic…

keep it classy!!!

 

Be aware that you may have unwanted visitors though…. my little girl and teenage son keep jumping in and saying with a whine “whhhhhy is your bed soooo comfy?’

Even my 18 year old daughter climbed in on Sunday morning!!!! there is totally no privacy when you have 4 children!

So… I’ve done it.. I have my perfect bed… and the snooty Parisian lady can sniff at me all she likes.. I’m sticking with Linenbundle.

 

PS: I’d like to say the new bedding allowed us to reacting our honeymoon at last.. but to be honest we’ve just been sleeping too well for all that!!!

2018 can Sod off !

Goodbye 2018…

It’s almost the end of the year and I can’t wait to see the back of 2018!

As I lost my mum, I had five friends who lost parents too. Loosing a parent is something you will never be ready for! Until you experience it you will never understand the grief it brings. I saw my mum only once a week ( she had an amazingly full life) but we text and spoke almost daily… it leaves a big gap when that person you always call isn’t there anymore.

When she passed away the first person I want to call to talk about it was her! The realisation she wasn’t there was a shock even though I was there when she passed!

This year I also lost an aunt and an uncle and witnessed people become very sick and frail.. I saw relationships fail and families break, it really has been a torrent of a year! I have to say it’s been the hardest I’ve ever had!

I had friends struggle with their business and money to make ends meet and the amount of friends and family struggling with mental illness and depression is unreal . We’ve all struggled here and some of us start seeing councillors in the new year to help us move on.. this is positive! Getting help and reaching out is a big step towards healing.

Health wise , both Keith, Grace,William and I have struggled (I’ve had a few (stress related) seizures over the last few months and my energy levels and back pains aren’t great) we have also had family and friends who have had terrible health worries this year. Everyone seems to have something going on with them! But the nhs supports us.. I’m greatly appreciative that we all get that support

We’ve had family stresses too , money issues, time issues, difficult neighbours, family and people in general behaving difficult, gossiping and generally lying and using us as their favourite topic of conversation. I honestly find it incredible how people’s are so desperate to say anything to bring another person down.. and others just love to believe it and pass it.. good old Chinese whispers.. Ive been shocked this year at how much people love to gossip. We did have a laugh though.. we literally sat at home not talking to anyone and still managed to be doing something wrong 😂 my dad always told me, if someone wants to find a reason to dislike you they will search to find one.. even if it’s not there.

But through the upset and hurt We’ve learned to walk away rather than try defend ourselves… this revelation has had positive affect and although it’s hard knowing people believe horrid untrue things about you and your family .. knowing you can live in peace without begging for your innocence is very freeing….. do we really want people in our lives that can behave this way? Believe anything they are told and pass it on before even finding out it’s true? Something we could all do with asking ourselves. I have four friends who have been victim to this nastiness in the last year.. it’s crazy!

All these things, and more, have been felt by friends and family this year.. suffering in the same way we have…everyone seems to have had a tough old year… and everyone will be glad to see the end of it!!!

But—

…we have had good stuff too, HUGE BLESSINGS including weddings, engagements, babies and new friendships .. it’s always wonderful to see life changing moments happening before your eyes.

I also had my faith in mankind restored . The kindness I witnessed (from strangers as well as friends) when mum died was incredible and I’ll never forget those people I came across on my way back from Ireland. I think about them a lot and it really helped me knowing such kindness was out there..

Also at that sad time in September we found out who was there for us and who our friends were when they rallied around to support us. .. Matt and Keira took great care of me when I was alone and frightened , Booked me flights home from Ireland and generally had my back…, it was above and beyond.. I’m so grateful.. Em was at the end of the phone constantly and was around to help me with difficult jobs and supportive words..she was my rock. ..Tara was there to understand and listen and importantly to make me laugh!!!

…and that’s just a few of the special people!!! so many people supported us, and not always the ones we expected to pull through! , but we needed them.. we felt very isolated and alone.. you saved us…you are the ones who know us and love the people we really are… just as we do you…we are so blessed to have you…and we will look after you too when you need it!

We had amazing adventures this year too and travelled well , across the UK in Molly the caravan , camping in lay-by’s and various fields , enjoying festivals and our festival friends…This summer we walked around a fire mandala, had paint fights, saw amazing music, drama and arts, watched burlesque, cycled through magical woods, explored fairy gardens , saw parades, watched naked cricket and drank champagne while watching an orchestra play. We met incredible people, famous and normal lovely folk, we shared incredible talent within our space and our crew. As always we made things happen! I love my work and my team!

We also travelled to Norway, Thailand and Ireland, both on holiday and for work.. we experienced two completely different environments and we are thrilled we have been able to give the kids such experiences. We sledged, built a toboggan run for our sledge, went in an ice church, drank vodka in glasses made of ice, nearly broke our bodies sledging and trekking through 3 metres of snow! Thailand brought us utter breathtaking scenery, sun, spirituality, sea, monkeys, spiders, lizards, food, culture and more than we could ever wish for! Amazing!!!!

We celebrated Graces 18th in June with a big party at the local golf club. It’s was great to get family and friends together to celebrate… as expected it went on into the wee hours!

William turned into a teenager in 2018 and he’s turned a corner in health.. he seems much better this year! Mum turned 70 and Libby entered her 20’s! Milestone birthdays are always something to celebrate!

We had lots of good work come in and more importantly we survived it all ! We took on one of the biggest and most exciting projects we’ve ever done at work and we (and our team) completed it well and handled the stress! ..just! (It tested our relationship at times) Opti-Pharma continues to thrive and Angel Gardens continues to inspire and share.

We put food in our tummies and heat in our home and we will continue to do that thankfully with less financial pressure this year. Shelter and home is everything.. and we will do more this year for the homeless and those who have less than us.. collecting left over festival tents and sleeping equipment will be a start and I will work with my local church to support our local food bank ..

Our children learned and thrived, and even after they all struggled after their grandma died they found their strength and are again succeeding. We remain very proud of their humour, sense of individual style and their ability to behave properly when they need to, with excellent manners and consideration to others. They are passionate about important things and know right from wrong on a global and political scale as well as in a day to day environment. They all bring us such high levels of pride!

We did some work on our home too, with us moving out in November to the hotel down the road while we had a new boiler fitted. The kids loved living near Xscape and enjoyed climbing, cinema and eating out.

The new heating in the new ‘wing’ of the house made a big difference and the installation of the new log burner just before Christmas finished it off nicely!

The gardens were lovely this year, although we lost the new beds at the front of the house during a heatwave while we were in Thailand. We will re-plant these in the spring although the bulbs are in already!

We have plans to get the new floor fitted in the new part of the house in January and the new family bathroom will be fitted while we are in Norway. Hopefully we will finally finish the house this year.. let’s hope our paid work continues to pay so we can make that a reality!

So this new year we are going to hold our heads high and not let anything get to us.. my little (big?) family are strong and good, we will continue to work hard and continue to live and behave ethically and with kindness where we can…. we might fail at times, but nobody is perfect.. as long as we do our best we can sleep well at night.

We will take care of each other and our people, we will share what we have and be there when they need us…

We will have adventures and experiences whenever we can, and mix our business and work with pleasure as we continue try to find a good life work balance.

We will distance ourself from things that make us sad or uncomfortable and not get dragged into any unnecessary drama.. We will rise above it and get on with the importance of bringing our children up among good people who bring love and inspiration.

So.. 2018..

phew you’ve been tough!!!

But there’s always good stuff too… come midnight tomorrow I’ll be saying goodbye.. not just to 2018 but to everything that’s hurt us or made life difficult for me, my family and my friends ..

2019 will start clean and fresh… as I become the matriarch of my own family , Keith and I have become the elders and head generation of our little branch of family.. we will take on our role proudly and ensure new adventures await us!

May 2019 bring happiness, love and inspiration to you all!!! Xxxxx

Violent trumping causes unknown emotional damage to four year old!

Mr O and I decided to do a two week detox/boost diet thingy before our holiday in a few weeks. We just fancied a little boost as we’ve been feeling the pressure a bit recently and felt we needed a little clean out.

Unbeknown to us that’s exactly what we would be getting …in spades!

We have been doing it five days now and it’s all a bit surprising.

The foods been lovely actually and we both know that if we weren’t actively aware we are on the program we’d be enjoying it as normal. But no it just doesn’t feel enough.. we are craving sandwiches (we don’t normally eat sandwiches) and a not grabbing a quick cereal is causing Mr O great distress…

To lift the mood I’ve got the stuff in to make gin and tonics today as it’s ‘allowed’ so that will cheer him up! If it doesn’t at least he’ll be pissed and forget about sandwiches for a bit!

Anyway.. I digress…

Yesterday we did start to notice a difference in our bodies.. both of us… !!!

So my swollen tummy has halved in sized (I’m pretty sure it’s the bread that’s been making me so bloated). Mr O has noticed a weird salty taste in his mouth and most noticeable of all.. we both are trumping like troopers!

It’s bad! It’s not the kind of trumps that are silent and deadly but the kind that are loud and rattle the bedposts!

Violent trumping!!! (VT)

I’ve never violently trumped before! But yesterday I sneezed and my bottom made the most ridiculously noisy ‘dad’ fart ! It actually vibrated against the chair and hurt my buttocks!!!!

What. The. Actual. F*ck????

Anyway it made me jump and as I jumped up from my chair in horror it made Kitty jump and yelp in fear! She then frightened the cat who deftly shot off leaving the cat flap swinging in the shocked aftermath …. like a pendulous plastic tumble weed!

This all happened in a millisecond and I was left stood looking at Kitty, who was looking at me, shocked and horrified in equal measures.

I may have scarred her for life! Will this be an event she recalls in therapy in her twenties? Will she need intensive Emdr therapy to rid herself of this traumatic memory?

Later on Mr O was fitting the new dishwasher and one of these violent trumps forced its way through his work trousers as he leaned towards the stop tap .. as it came without warning he jumped and banged his head on the worktop he was currently under doing the plumbing. Kitty jumped in shock and as she did she stepped back and stood in the cat food! In disgust she cried out and as she removed her foot she knocked over the cats water. As her screams grew in volume and horror with each passing event, her Daddy tried to scramble out of the cubbyhole was working in to get to her…but as he tried to turn he knelt on a screw on the floor which, got him in the exact place that takes out every part of your ability to hold your body upright.. causing him to collapse in a heap and slump back against the unit knocking off a plate that was innocently waiting to be washed in the new dishwasher! … it smashed on the floor.. the cat ran out again the cat flap swinging in the silent aftermath once more!

Mr O stared at our daughter, as he slumped in a pathetic heap under the kitchen sink while she returned her equally appalled look. She stood one foot in a puddle and the other raised displaying squashed meaty chunks (from whiskers gravy range) oozing between her tiny glitter painted toes.

We are really messing with our four year olds stress levels now!

Friday night is Kitty’s night for been allowed in our bed.. so as she was starting to get sleepy last night while in the middle of us both, we discussed the events of the day. Suddenly mr O did, one of these now normal, violet trumps!

We laughed and I said ” at least aim your arse away from me” he maturely responded by explaining he was “keeping Kitty’s feet warm”

Well our 4 year old saw red, it was the final straw ! She’d Been putting up with this all day after all!

She threw back the covers “daddy now my feet are too warm! I don’t want you to warm them up!”

She was ready to cry and very cross…

…to cut a long story short I spent the next half hour ‘wafting’ her feet to cool them down from Daddy ‘over heating’ them with his violent trump!

You really couldn’t make this shit up!

We start today with a sense of interpretation not knowing when the VT will strike next!

Wish us luck!

Dry Skin and Witch Craft Cures for my ED Family

I’ve been living with ED carriers for 25 years ( yes it’s a big anniversary coming up) and in that time I’ve learned that one of the biggest problems my brood is dry, cracked and sore skin.

My husband particularly has hands and feet that are really dry and the skin is super thick. Before we knew of the condition the joke in the family was that the men….

‘…have feet only a cheese board would be proud of!’

But the uncomfortable, thick, cracked skin is on the heels and balls of the feet can be uncomfortable and frankly a cause for embarrassment.

Of course it gets worse at different times of the year.. winter dries in the cold and skin gets chapped and sore… summer brings sun burn and dehydration.

So what can we use to help it?

You can spend a fortune finding the right product but I have found them… it’s easy, cheap and so affective it’s almost magic!

There’s so many products on the market but I’ve realised you can get so much more for your money and make creams and potions that are so so much better, if you do it yourself.

img_2845I’ve always been interested in making my own body products from natural and organic ingredients. So much so that I’ve built up a massive menu of recipes over the years and I have become a bit of an expert. I’ve even been teaching others how to create their bespoke potions at Glastonbury and other festivals for over a decade as well As runing private classes from my studio and at other venues.

I don’t sell my products, its not what I want to do,  but I have a steady stream of family and friends with various skin and hair problems who I make things for. For me it’s about sharing the knowledge and telling people how easy it is it find the perfect solution for so many skin problems.

I was asked last week what I would recommend for ED carriers and their skin problems .. so I wrote this to share my advice… I hope it helps not just those with Ed but those with any skin conditions and those without any at all… we all need a bit of pampering .

So it’s very simple… I have two basic ingredients and you can use household ingredients to adapt them! All quick and easy and you don’t need any special ingredients or kit. You can make things in seconds and without loads of mess.

Here’s my top tips and basic easy ideas for helping!

 

Cocoa butter.

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This is the best stuff ever!!!! Buy a lump of cocoa butter from Amazon (or similar). It comes in a big block which can be broken up into smaller bits or melted and poured into tins.

It’s all you need!

Use it as a ultra moisturising balm, face cream, lip balm, hair conditioner, dab it on a cut to stop it bleeding and stop dirt getting inside, use it to polish your table or lubricate your saw.. the uses are endless… its naturally antibacterial and frankly it’s quite magical!

The best thing is you don’t have to prepare it.. I generally break it into a few good sized lumps.. about three/four inches across.. it’s not an exact science and it’s doesn’t brake in perfect squares it’s just a glorious big old lump of goodness.

You can store it in a little sandwich bag or just keep it on the side (unless you live somewhere super hot or it’s on a sunny window-ledge) it won’t melt into a puddle. .

As it has a low-ish melting point all you have to do is rub the block in your hands to dispense it. It starts melting straight away but only the bits your are touching softens, not the whole block. This means you only get the right amount and you don’t use too much.

It spreads a long way and is silky to the touch, so soft and smooth.. and it smells divine!

It’s pure solid cocoa butter so it does the job better than anything on the market.. you might buy creams with cocoa butter for the shops but take a look at the ingredients , often there’s only 5% of actual cocoa butter in it, the rest is wax, water, glycerine and alcohol.. as well as preservatives and perfume.. non of which are necessary.. here you have 100% natural moisturising heaven! You obviously don’t need to use too much and it will last for ever!!! (It doesn’t go off either)

(The manufacturers know how brilliant this stuff it and they know if they put too much in their products it will last you for ages and you’l never need to buy it again!)

Use it on your skin or lips, rub it straight onto legs and arms.. get your partner to rub one of the pointy bits into your muscles for a soothing massage… it’s just so very lovely.

It kind of creates a lovely barrier on your skin too, not oily but more of a balm type feel.. and it sinks into your skins so gently.. you feel the goodness and soothing nature of it straight away.

It’s a fantastic moisturising balm that works on everything especially eczema and very dry and sore areas where it not only moisturises but cleanses and protects too!

Making Cocoa butter in to creams/ lotions

If you want to create something a bit more prescriptive or create a more creamy texture, just shave a bit into a bowl (I use a cheese grater) and microwave (checking every few seconds like when you melt chocolate ) add a few drops of essential oils an

d some olive oil (about a quarter oil 3/4 cocoa butter but it’s not a problem if you use more or less) and pour into a tin/container. Let it cool and solidify . You will have something that is softer more cream like (but not liquid) that you can use as a whole load of stuff.

Essential Oils to Try…

  • Eucalyptus or tea tree oils for acne, burns or sores
  • Lemon or grapefruit oils for greasy skin or itchy patches .. it’s also very cooling.
  • Lavender or camomile for painful, sore or irritated skin.

 

If you pour your mix into a tin or pot and seal it, it will last years and years.

Scrubs/masks for super dry and sore skin!

To remove dead skin and to get a super strenth rescue moisturising soft treatment You can add brown sugar or salt to the above recipe (don’t use salt on your face or on sore bits of skin.. brown sugar is much softer and gentle.. sat is great for tougher skin on your feet/ knees/elbows) this make a face or body scrub with added moisture and softness .

To do this create the mix as instructed above then add the salt/sugar after you’ve added the olive oil, stir before poring into a container.

Just a couple of teaspoons will do.. you dont want it to be all scrub, its a more gentle scrub than a rough rub!

Use a small amount ,scrub your skin gently and sit back  letting it sit on your skin for as long as you want, rinse off the salt/sugar with warm water and pat dry with a soft towel.. the oils remain on your skin and you will feel soft and dewy! It really feels like you’ve been to an expensive spa yet it cost less than £2!

It really soothes your itching and sore skin patches too… especially if you use camomile or lavender oils.

I keep a pot by the sink and in the shower so the gang can reach it any time and integrate it into their routine.

The quick power fix for the hooves and paws!

This is the ultimate for a quick and very powerful fix very dry hands and feet!

Just mix olive oil and salt/sugar together and rub into the skin, (tea tree or citrus oils are lovely and refreshing too but you could just add lemon juice if you don’t have any.. but it’s not necessary) rub your hands together like you are washing them or give your feet a vigorous rub with it… Rinse and pat dry.

It’s so powerful and also removes every single big of dirt and grime making sure you don’t get any sores.

Use brown sugar if you have any cuts or open sores.. it won’t kill you but it will sting!

I’ve never found any product that works better!

Do it daily if you need to.. it won’t do any harm to your skin.

Soothing and cooling and feels so luxurious afterwards! It costs pence too!

 

 

Aloe Vera for cooling and soothing 

 

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The other ingredient I have in the house all the time is Aloe Vera Gel.

We probably all buy this as after sun cream or for soothing itchy skin so we are familiar with it.

Again often it’s mixed with other stuff to water it down.. but you can buy 100% aloe Vera Gel on line and it’s glorious!!!

A ‘small’ 1Kg bucket full of the stuff cost about £7.99 and because you get so much you can slather it on its very lovely.

Use it to simply to cool down skin or to simply sooth itchy, sore or dry patches. It’s simple and easy and won’t do anything to you that can cause harm.

Great for scratches, eczema, cuts, and any other dryness even in intimate areas too.

It’s so simple and easy.. again I decant into little pots and leave in the kids rooms and bathroom.

They even take little pots of aloe gel to school with them in the summer or when we are travelling.. it’s just very useful.. especially in the warmer weather to be able to dip their finger in and put on their wrists for instant cooling. Adding lemon oil gives a refreshing feel too… keep it in the fridge for extra cooling!

I use this on the long haul flights to bring the swelling in my old lady feet down. 

You can buy different sized tins and pots from Amazon too, from lip balm size to bigger pots .. it makes everything look and feel so special too having cool little pots everywhere and its so handy to be able to keep topping it up from the bucket each day.

 

Wrinkled bits!!

Just as a final note you can use cocoa butter as an anti wrinkle balm.. (something I know ED carriers often have under their eyes).

For this trick you need melt and pour the cocoa butter into latex moulds or ice cube trays. (You may have some cupcake moulds in the baking cupboard already.. square or round both work well.)

When they are set hard you remove from the mould and they are ready to use with no added ingredients.

To use. Smooth the bar of butter firmly over the wrinkled area and hold for a few moments, holding the wrinkly bits flat. Do this a few times and you can see the difference immediately. Skins is lifted and smoother instantly, the balm holds the wrinkles open so you have the lift and smoothing. you can use this on any of your wrinkly bits.

Although it only last a few hours it’s a little trick and can be used under make up to give you a quick fix.

 

Have a go!

So that’s it.. I have tons of recipes and I’m happy to help you if you want something specific.. but this is something you can developer yourself too. Its great fun to experiment and you can try using shea Butter, mango butter and many other butters and waxes too… but I will always return to Cocoa butter,

The best thing about using organic and natural products is that you can’t go wrong.. you won’t damage your skin and you can ‘ruin’ the product.. just play around with it.

I’ll do another piece at a later time with other ideas and ingredients to try.

But for now.. you need cocoa butter and aloe Vera gel and the whole family will be sorted for the summer 🙂

Enjoy making potions and enjoy your daily homemade spa sessions!!!

Sx

 

Note; it’s worth checking if any of the essential oils I mentioned may contradict with any of your conditions such as pregnancy and asthma. The ones I mentioned are generally pretty safe but do check to be sure.

Cocoa butter can be bought here

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Aloe Vera here

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Essential oils here

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Tins here

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Disclaimer: These are my own tried and tested recipes, they are not licensed or publicly tested. This blog is purely for your information and any products made are done so at your own risk.

How hard is it to book aholiday?

Five years ago we went on holiday, as a family of six we don’t go every year, we have to save up and go at least every 3 years… but this time its been longer.

We managed to get a few city breaks in between our big holidays, this year we went to Norway for 5 days in the winter and a few years ago we went to Paris for our daughters 18Th ( even if she didn’t come with us. …but that’s another story) With our festivals and little road trips in-between we get our adventures and we are happy to have it like that… but this year we needed and wanted our holiday..

We work through the summer and money can be tight so we tend to save up and have a really great holiday every few years.

We’ve been saving up for a special holiday this year, with special birthdays, graduations, celebrations and anniversaries ( one going 13, one going 18, us reaching a mile-stone in our marriage ( that makes us feel very old), )

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We wanted something special.

We had saved the cash and we were going to do it.. lets book..

Day one.. we start to look for a holiday….

  • I text the eldest daughter see if she wants to come ( she’s at uni) she does…

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  • I’m   doing this…

Day 2-4

  • Three days of looking around and deciding where to go ensues..
  • The kids all want to go back to Mexico.. (we went there for our last trip 5 years ago)
  • We tell them its time to do something new.. they sulk…we ignore them

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Day 5

  • Text eldest daughter who is away at uni.. ” are you still coming on holiday? we need to book today” she replies saying she’s not sure if can afford it, she also needs exact dates which we can’t give her as we have to know how many people we are booking for.
  • We explain this and tell her we will foot the bill and she just needs spending money.
  • 10 calls and loads of texts later she decides she cant make it this time.
  • No problem… we start to search for 5 people rather than 6…

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Day 5.. evening:  We find a great deal to Dominican Republic!!!

  • Its now evening and this is a great deal!!!! two weeks for 5 people, all inclusive, loads of pool space and on the beach, close to the town.. its all good…. show the kids they love the look of it.. its in budget and looks good.
  •  I get it ready to go.. put the personal info in and just before pressing ‘Pay now’ think I should give The eldest another chance to change her mind.
  • Text eldest child “we are booking now.. you sure you aren’t coming?”
  • She replies…. ” ok I’ll come”
  • I reply “are you totally sure?” she rings us again and an hour long conversation takes place about wether she can afford it..she would need to take time off work and needs the cash for other trips she’s has booked.
  • We continue to say we cant decide for her, its up to her…
  • She decided as much as she wants to she cant make it this time.
  • No problem
  • We go back to the computer to pay…
  • The holiday has gone up £1500!!!!!! WTF?

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  • Totally over budget..
  • I go back to searching but its late and I need to sleep.

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Day 6

  • Wake up and get straight on the computer.. what has happened.. all the holidays are up in price!!!!!

…..not just a bit….

………………………but by by thousands!!!.. ……..( a couple of hundred per person)

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  • Wow.. this is crazy… I start to look for alternatives and find a trip to Jamaica, all inclusive so no worrying about food and drinks, little cottages on the beach… looks amazing… its in budget.. we have saved up for somewhere tropical and lovely.. but we still have a budget to stay in..

Decide to just read the reviews…

oh god.. they are terrible..

  • I give up.. I take Jamaica off the list.
  • I give up.. I do other things and forget the holiday I am totally fed up of this shit.. I’m over it.

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Day 6 …evening

  • Mr O sees I have given up and decided to have a look himself,

…..its 10pm and I’m in the bath.

……….He comes up with his laptop..

……….he’d  accidentally put in that we could fly from London airports and loads of new places and prices have come up..

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  • Thailand ( my dream destination) has come up and this 5 * resort looks amazing…

…..loads of character

………and its bed and breakfast so we can go out and explore  it as a base..

……..I’m in love..

…….best of all it is in budget!!!!

  • We would have to travel down to Heathrow the night before ( we are in Yorkshire) and stay over but thats ok..

I get out of the bath

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  • we start to book it

………..but

  • …in that half an hour it has gone up..

AGAIN….

…..By 300 quid each

…….which mean its gone up by 1,500 for us all..

……..that would have been our food money and travel money getting to London.

  • We go to bed

Mr O lays in bed and thinks about it

…..he decides we should find the extra cash and go for it

……its somewhere we always wanted to go..

…..the hotel is perfect..

…….its a special occasion and we have been saving hard for this…

  • We go to sleep excited.. I kinda fell a bit more in love with him too

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Day 7

  • Excitedly we come down and go to book..

yup…

…..we are so doing this

.. we put the info in for each person and click the button….

….so exciting…..

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.

.

.

.”card declined” 

.

.

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  • what????

…we know there is the money there

….. we call the bank

  • No problem!

…..there is a security limit of what we can pay at any one time

……they tell us on the phone that they can take off the limit

…….its instant

……we press to pay again

.

.

.

“card declined”

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.

.

  • What?????
  • maybe we need to give it a minute to make sure the security block is off…

….5 mins later

  • We press to pay.

…..

“card declined”

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  • We phone the bank again
  • The operator can see the lady spoke to us

…… she ‘forgot ‘ to take the security block off.

WE ask them to stay on the phone while we book again..

……just in case.

  • We go to press ‘pay now’

Mr O shouts just as I go to confirm

… “stop!!’ ….

  • it has gone up……
  • AGAIN.

  • ……… while we have been putting out information in

……….and trying to book they put the price up by 83 quid each!!!!

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  • OMG how can this be happening..

…..its totally out of reach now!!!!!!

  • We ring off from the bank who confirm the block is off

……..should we book in the next hour we will have no problems.

  • I start to search again…
  • The holiday we want comes ups….

it back to the  same price it was last night…!!!!!!!

…………………its only been a few minutes..

……………………….its cheaper again…..

……………………………..how???

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  • We go to book it quick!
  • We press

‘pay now’

……..the visa goes through to the verification box,

……….I go to put the code in…

” visa verification is locked as your card has been declined too many times”

  • WE phone Tui…

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..the block is off the card,

…… its just the verification,

…………….we don’t need to use that if we pay directly!!!!!

  • Tui answer and they are lovely..
  • we find the same holiday… we are about to book

“can you ring me on a land line and I will take the payment?”

  • We don’t have a land line..

……who has a land line these days?

……we have 5 mobile  contracts!

………why would we pay for a land line too?

  • They cant take a payment from a mobile...

and…

…..there as been a change in the price while we have been talking..

……….back up to an extra £1560 for us all!!!

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  • We put the phone down.
  • We have fallen out with Tui!

…………We refuse to look at the site again…

…… We did not discover our smile!!!

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  • Mr O starts to look to look at flights and hotel separately…
  • Within minutes we find an amazing holiday..

flights from Manchester to Thailand, with Emerates

( Third Childs dream airline… he’s been drawing pictures of Emerates planes for years)

…..change at Dubai ( exciting)

…..land in Phuket, Thailand

…..Get a transfer by boat to a little island and stay at the most amazing place,…..own villa,

….own pool,

….5 star retreat

.. and its £1800 under budget!!!

AMAZING!!!!

‘It was meant to be!!!!’

  • WE phone the bank

( we aren’t daft!)

……..they confirm the payment will go through..

…. nothing can go wrong!

.. we are totally on it….

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  • We press

‘Pay now’

…no verification comes up..

 …its all going well…

We wait as the little circle goes around while it processes the payment…

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“Payment declined”

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We phone the bank…

Mr O is not calm

“why cant I spend my own money?”

  • The nice man from HSBC looks at the account

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He finds that Expedia took the payment in two payments …

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one for the hotel

……and one for the flights..

We had security clearance for one f*cking payment!!!!!!

for only one..!!!

They had released the first payment for £3k

…..declined the other.

We are missing 3k

…….. the holiday booking says

“the payment didn’t go through!.”

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We phone Expedia…

They have no record of the payment

….but the bank says its left the account…

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  • An hour later on a premium number call
  • The man has no ideas what to do..

… he cant find the money

…. he cuts me off when I ask to speak to a supervisor…

….. I ring back… still cant find it

….. I beg them to look harder…

… he justs tries to get me to try the card again….

                       ( I later find has cost over £20)

Finally a supervisor comes on and explains what is going on….

We finally get some answers…..

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  • Expedia requested the payment

……the bank released it,

…….the band declined the second payment

………………Expedia then cancelled the first one

…… They  didn’t claim the money from the bank

Nobody has the money!!!

Our money

Our savings

The money is floating around in cyber space.!!!!!!!

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  • Expedia send us an email confirming that the money will not be claimed.

…..it will be credited into our account within 5 DAYS!!!!!

                          … Yes thats right 5  DAYS!!!!!

                             …… 5 sodding days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • WE decide to risk booking the holiday

……..praying the money comes back without a problem

…………….it is obviously needed for other bills and stuff this month

ITS A BIG RISK FOR US

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We phone the Bank and Expedia

……..we  keep them both on the phone while we try book

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SO…. we try to

BOOK

THE

BLOODY .

HOLIDAY!

!!

.

.

.

.

‘pay now’ 

.

.

.

.

it doesn’t go through…

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.

The man at the bank tells us to hold…

we all hold again

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He comes back to us.. tells us to try again…

‘Pay now’

.

.

.

we ALL wait

the circle goes around and around…..

and around

and around

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.

.

.

the Expedia man waits

.

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.

The HSBC man waits 

.

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.

the kids wait

.

.

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We all  wait

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.

.

.

“your holiday is booked”

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WAHOOOOOOO

I cheer

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Mr O cheers

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The kids cheer

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The HSBC man cheers

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The Expedia man cheers

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The cat freaks out

… and pisses on the floor!

.

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So a week after I first went to book …we have booked to  go to Thailand… and never has a holiday been more needed or deserved..

WE are STILL waiting for our £3K four days on and can’t afford to pay the mortgage and get this weeks shopping till it does!

We are feeling confident it will come in

                                              .. plus we are going on holiday!

YIP! YIP! YIPEEEEEEE!!!!

We cant afford new holiday clothes or expensive luggage

.. but thats ok

.. we will happily be the poor relations at the posh resort

… We have our manners and our family….

and…

I just don’t care!!!

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NOTE: I’ve had three emails from TUI offering me a further discount per person on each place if I continue with my booking…????!!!!

I…..

 ‘“Move Mail to trash”

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They text Mr O from the bank

” how did you rate your recent telephone banking experience ?”

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The End

PsI tried to buy The rough Guide to Thailands Islands today…  guess what? The visa verification is…..yup…. Blocked!!!!!

To see the amazing place where we are now going clickhere.… Im sure you will agreee its a bit more exciting than a package holiday!!! Cant wait to write about it!

PPS. The Santhiya Resort have already been in touch and so has the airline.. both professional and easy to sort out… Thanks goodness!!!