Monday Magic -Inspiring Blogs for You!

How are your Christmas preparations going?  Are you the type of very organised person who has already bought and wrapped the gifts?  Or maybe you are more like our household…..

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The lovely girl has just returned from Vienna where she and class mates enjoyed a trip to the Christmas markets and the historic city.  When I asked her if she bought anything the answer was an incredulous”no”…. why on earth would you think to buy any gifts in a Christmas market?  But she did have a fantastic time, returned exhausted and is now full of cold!  Despite now earning money, Christmas shopping will pass the young engineer by completely until I get a panicked call on the 23rd or 24th December asking for ideas for everyone and “also, mum, do you have any wrapping paper?”.  Our politics student isn’t due home until next week and has several pieces of coursework to hand in by the end of term – I believe it is known as pulling all nighters or as lastminute.com!  He has always been the best at organising Christmas shopping but with his current lack of finances……..

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Vienna taken by the lovely girl

Then are the Christmas cards to write and post.  “Kids do you want some cards to send to friends/customers/family? Maybe you could help me write some” “Mum, why would I want to do that?” “No one sends cards to each other!!” – you get the picture, although they did work out that sending cards to customers on their newspaper rounds could result in Christmas tips.  So we in the PainPals household are not evenly slightly prepared, although hubby and I did purchase some new lights last week and counted the vast number of houses already well adorned on our trip up to London on Saturday night.

 

shallow focus photography of yellow star lanterns

Photo by 嘉淇 徐 on Pexels.com

This trip to Westminster was my big achievement of the week as hubby and I went to see the very talented Katie Melua in concert, supported by the Georgian Gory women’s choir.  Together they made sounds that were almost too pure to be human voices – absolutely stunning!  Yours truly made a new friend in the form of an elderly lady as we found our wheelchairs parked up close and definitely in each other’s personal space.  She couldn’t understand why the choir weren’t singing something more “jolly” for Christmas – I did try to explain that Katie Melua sings a particular type of popular music and the choir back her!  Her ticket had been booked by a well meaning son and she had no idea what she was coming to see, but we had a giggle!

I have been gathering some more Christmas related blog posts for you over the week and hope that you will find something here to enjoy!

http://www.thisautoimmunelife.com/2018/12/05/gingerbread-hot-cocoa-mix/

https://zebrapit.com/2018/12/03/support-spoonie-businesses-this-holiday/

https://rachaelstray.com/christmas-wreath-making-workshop-ad/

https://trippingthroughtreacle.com/tips-for-a-frugal-and-ethical-christmas/

https://brookeclarke.com/fashion/what-to-wear-for-your-christmas-party/

http://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2018/12/33-gluten-free-christmas-cookie-recipes-for-holidays.html/

https://invisiblyme.com/2018/12/02/giftguide2018/

https://www.theworldseesnormal.com/the-world-sees-normal/2018/11/24/the-holiday-season/

https://wheelescapades.com/2018/11/25/festivities-and-kindness/

https://christmascountdown.co.uk/4-ultimate-christmas-pudding-recipes/

https://reclaiminghope.blog/2018/11/30/adjusting-expectations-when-things-dont-turn-out-as-you-planned-5-tips/

https://ruralgreystar.com/christmas-gift-ideas/

christmas cookies

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Please comment, like and share posts for these fab bloggers.

Have a great week,

Claire x

Accessibility Day at Gatwick Airport – Air Travel with Chronic and Invisible Illnesses

Accessibility pin

 

Last month I was fortunate to be invited to attend a special day at Gatwick airport to receive information about the Accessibility plans that are in place for travellers.  We – hubby and me – joined a small band of fellow EDSers (Ehlers Danlos syndromes) and other families with mobility issues, autism, Alzheimers and various “invisible” chronic health problems in order to experience “a practical overview of airport processes before actually travelling”.

London-Gatwick-Airport

Travelling can be a stressful experience at the best of times, but add a disability/special need/illness into the equation and this stress is magnified 100 fold.  Accessibility issues affecting wheelchair travellers have recently hit the UK national press with the stories of BBC journalist Frank Gardiner and athlete Justin Levine.  Each man arrived at his destination to find that his own wheelchair had been lost, resulting in Mr Gardiner sitting on the plane for an additional 90 minutes after landing at Heathrow and Mr Levine rejecting offers of an attendant wheelchair at Luton.  Whilst Gatwick and several other UK airports have previously run Accessibility days, this particular session could not have been better timed in order for the airports to improve Accessibility profiles.

Landside

Each family was allocated a time slot and we were met at the Virgin landside airline desks where we  were checked in and given the recently launched sunflower “hidden disability” lanyards.  The distinctive green and yellow lanyards are to allow staff to easily identify travellers who may need additional assistance, but might not have an immediately obvious disability.

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Chronic pain, autistic spectrum disorders, Alzheimers and dementia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, IBD/Crohns/Coeliacs, mental health disorders are just a few of the many conditions that might benefit under this scheme.  Members from both the police dog handlers and the border patrol were present to welcome us but it was  their beautiful dogs who stole the show.  Eighteen month old springer spaniel pup Gracie was a personal favourite of mine!

Do you know that there is an Accessibility and Families’ check in and security?  The whole process for the average traveller has changed so much in recent years and it can feel that everyone is wanting to check in at a million miles an hour……electronic check in from home, travelling with hand luggage only, business travellers wanting to get from A to B in the least time possible.  How does it feel if you take a little more time than the average person, if your child doesn’t understand what is happening, if anxiety turns into a panic attack?  We were assured that the Accessible and family security can be used for anyone who needs a little more time, space and understanding.  I wonder how many of you have used this facility?  Please share your experience!

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Pictures courtesy of Maria Cook

Last weekend Virgin airlines and Easy Jet were our hosts for the day, but I believe that other travel providers have played the host role in different locations around the country.  This was my first time to go through airport security since having my spinal cord stimulator implanted for pain control and in the same way that I am not able to go into an MRI scanner, the magnetic fields in the security scanners prevent me from going through the arch.  Like a pacemaker, the magnets in both devices would cause damage to my battery/programmer needing surgery to remove and replace the device.  I carry a medical alert card like others in my position and whilst my condition is now “visible” due to my wheelchair, for many with chronic pain and a similar implant, it would be impossible to see their chronic condition.  The security staff responded well to my needs and as hubby put my bag on the scanner and took himself through security, I was taken round the other side of the scanners and whilst remaining in my chair, a female office carried out a simple body search.  I passed and didn’t set off a single alarm!!

Airside

First stop – the “V” room.  This is Virgin Holidays’ new lounge in the North terminal which is for the use of Virgin customers booking a Holiday/Flydrive Package – it can be pre booked or booked on the day for each passenger.  We were treated to hot drinks and a tour from very attentive staff who are eager to please and answer queries.  I know that this is part of their jobs, but we were impressed by the welcoming demeanour, general knowledge and the care shown to us.  

V lounge

If you are not on a Virgin package or do not wish to pay to book the lounge, Gatwick North terminal has a newly opened Accessible “Quiet” lounge area located within the departures lounge and shopping area.  Here it is possible to sit in more comfortable seating, away from the crowds with screen information to monitor your flight and yet still be close to the amenities and eateries in the departure lounge.

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Fellow zebras taking advantage of wheelchair assistance!

I was using my own wheelchair and pushed by hubby, but there are many of you who don’t normally use a chair, yet walking through the airport prior to boarding your plane is just exhausting.  If you give the airport notice – 48 hours – it is possible to be helped by staff with a wheelchair, as some of our group did for their tours, or to make use of one of the accessibility buggies that you will have seen speeding through the airport.  My advice – don’t be too independent and insist on walking if this burns you out before even setting foot on the plane.  I have always been the world’s worst for doing this, but accept now that pride really can come before a literal fall!

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We were taken to the Sensory room next – the first area of its kind in a UK airport.  It is well recognised now that special sensory lighting, music and surroundings can greatly enhance senses and communication for a wide variety of sensory abilities.  My limited experience (when nursing) brought me into contact with such areas in children’s hospices and hospitals.  A room of this type can be extremely helpful for both children and adults with autistic spectrum disorders, physical and mental disabilities – I include dementia and Alzheimers here.  The room is airside and only for use by those passing through security – a 45 minute session can be booked at the special assistance reception in the departures lounge.  On the day youngsters in the room appeared to be having a great time, but there were few adults with disabilities when we had a quick “peek”.  There is a variety of soft play cushioning and this is geared towards those able to sit on cushions and beanbags. It is important to book ahead as there is an 8 person limit.  I think that the premise is fantastic and it is a very welcome addition to the airport experience – suggestions to add to this are:

  • for a further focus on use by adults;
  • to create wider aisles between the soft play areas for wheelchair access – the space is limited; 
  • to consider how different groups might relate to each other – adults, children, physically disabled, autism spectrum disorders, etc;
  • to ensure that the knobs and buttons on the activities are able to be accessed by those with hand problems;
  • to consider in the future expanding the existing room or have several sensory rooms to cope with the high demand that the facility will undoubtedly have!   Disclaimer: Please note I am not an expert and do not have autism

For someone like me who struggles with walking and stairs, the thought of using steps up to a plane is akin to climbing a mountain.  It is encouraging to know that if an aircraft is using steps rather than a jetty boarding system, Gatwick airport has a fleet of German Bulmor transporters that wheelchairs can be strapped into and lifted via a hydraulic arm directly to the door of the plane.  This allows the passenger entry to the plane in their own wheelchair to then transfer directly into their plane seat.  We enjoyed a short ride in the Bulmor and the experience of the cabin lifting and lowering, all whilst I sat in my chair.  For younger members of the party there was an opportunity to board the huge airport fire engines and to have a go at operating certain controls.

 

 

The part of the day that I was most excited about and also feared was boarding the plane – my greatest anxiety over the years has been the thought of feeling trapped in an aircraft seat and my back pain becoming uncontrolled.  I can move when seated on my sofa, in a restaurant or even the cinema, but sitting in a car or a plane is a different story.  Unless you have experienced chronic nerve pain, it is difficult to explain what may seem to be an irrational fear of an exacerbation of this pain and being unable to do anything about it.  I was able to remain in my seat up to the doorway at which point I got up from my chair and transferred into one of the first rows on the plane.  The Easyjet cabin crew were keen demonstrate that they can offer assistance and a comfortable flight to any passenger with accessibility needs. 

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Whilst hubby chatted with the pilot in the cockpit……

I was told about booking my seat in advance – it is advisable to pay the extra to select your seat for leg room, the aisle, to be near the loo etc etc – alerting the airport and the airline of your needs 48 hours in advance, and that my wheelchair would be stored in the hold after I have transferred to my seat.  Tip: take your seat cushion onto the plane as it is likely to be lost in the hold! The loss and damage of wheelchairs has been in the media recently and is a very real concern for many wheelchair users – one lady cited the issue of “which end of a flight did the damage occur to her chair?” as no one would take responsibility.  No easy solutions to this one as yet.  The current policy is for accessibility passengers to board the aircraft first, in order to have time to settle and as much assistance as needed without the stresses of other passengers.  Once in the seat there is a small onflight wheeled chair (similar to a fire chair) for those needing assistance to move about on the flight, go to the loo etc.  I did find the seat comfortable and was in the area with more leg room – I don’t believe that I or others with EDS/chronic pain/arthritis/ fibromyalgia etc would manage with less leg room and the angle of the back of the seat is very important too.  The new EasyJet seat backs are fixed and I am pleased to say that they are not in a too upright position, but I would be unable to manage in a fixed seat that was very upright as my SCS would be cut off due to the position in my spine.

I asked about facilities at destination airports and the staff were very honest.  Apparently there is a European standard for Accessibility arrangements but they are open to interpretation and this means that they will vary from airport to airport, country to country.  This is obviously the case when flying elsewhere in the world too, so the best advice that I can pass on here is to fully investigate your holiday plans, journey and the accommodations made at your destination prior to any bookings!

EasyJet have an Accessibility and Assistance manager, Celine McGuigan who is informative and very keen to make airport travel accessible to all.  She is also notably keen to understand the needs of the Accessibility community from those with very visible disabilities to invisible problems/illnesses – in fact she has made staff, including those at a senior level, spend time in a wheelchair in order to focus minds on accessibility issues!  The young members of cabin crew are also to be commended for their knowledge and enthusiasm to help without ever being condescending or frightened to ask me questions. 

Feedback from the visit:

  • just how accessible are the aircraft toilets?  They are very small and is there room for the small wheelchair and a helper to assist with a transfer?  (I am aware that this is an area up for discussion around the design of both aircraft and trains);
  • people with allergies, mast cell activation syndrome and similar can be very sensitive to scents – some have experienced problems with the scents used to refresh the cabins and I know that the staff were going to look into this matter;
  • for staff to be aware during a flight that with conditions such as EDS, joint pain and cramps are a common problem and the passenger will undoubtedly need to stand and stretch;
  • for many the standard seats do not provide sufficient room, yet the seats with more “leg room” can come at an extra cost which can be difficult to swallow for those on an already reduced income and/or families with young children
  • I know that they have been in the media, but to continue to highlight the accessibility lanyards and the fact that many adults and children with “invisible” conditions will be using them; work with the community who will be using them and listen to feedback regarding wearing a lanyard and the design.

I can only congratulate all the staff involved for such an informative and practical day at Gatwick airport.  More of these days across the country would be a huge benefit to so many people and the comments that I have seen from other groups have been very positive. My own fears have been put to rest and whilst I am under no illusions that air travel for me personally will remain tough and very tiring,  and of course I still have some concerns, I do now think that I can do it. 

So come on hubby….where are you taking me?!

Aircraft

Photo courtesy of Dan McKenzie

Please note this has been written from my personal perspective

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is December and many households have begun the month with the opening of Advent calendars.  Gone are the calendars of my childhood where a picture of an angel or a sleigh nestled behind a cardboard door, to be replaced with calendars filled with chocolates, beauty gifts and some even alcoholic delicacies.  For the first time in years I am the only one in the house with a calendar and mine contains pamper gifts, perfect for a chronic spoonie who is in need of a bit of “me time”.  To the embarrassment of the adult kids, I am posting pictures of the lovely little bottles of niceness on Instagram each day!

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! (2)

This week hubby and I had a double cause for excitement on a night out into London.  It was a Christmas/thank you drinks evening hosted by the young IT engineer and his business partner in the 5cc bar situated in the grade II listed Singer sewing machine building in the City, London.  As “the parents” it felt rather surreal!  Our boy turned into a man in front of our eyes as he and his partner spoke with the investors, clients and share holders for their new tech enterprise.  Whilst the young engineer lacks in confidence in his ability to speak with people yet speaks “computer” as a native tongue, his partner compliments him beautifully with a personable, confident, easy manner and effortless, articulate way at speaking with and putting others at ease.  Hopefully their combined ideas, IT acumen and youthful ambition will be a winning combination for a successful venture – just don’t ask me to explain what they are actually doing!!  We were very proud parents – who actually didn’t put a foot in it, at least not too deeply, and were actually described as “cool”.

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Flaming Singer Zombie cocktails bought for hubby and me….by our son!

 

This was our very first venture out on the train with my wheelchair!  We have tended to drive into London since my mobility had decreased and pain increased, but the thought of driving into the City at rush hour and then seeking out a disabled parking bay was not appealing.   We travelled on the Thameslink line, which is a newer line and as such has modern trains with designated accessible carriages, and I appreciate that this makes travelling easier than it might be on older lines.  But I can’t fault the assistance that we were given by rail staff – someone was waiting on the platform with ramps to see me onto the train and he phoned ahead so that another staff member was waiting on the platform for us at our destination.  Our journey was comfortable and relaxed, taking a fraction of the time that driving through rush hour London would have…..we will take the train again!

 

Sticking with our December theme, the blogs that I shall share leading up to Christmas will be as wide a variety of winter festival posts that I can find.  They won’t all be about the joys of the season, as for some it is a difficult time, but I hope to bring you some great reading!  Enjoy.

https://pinkfortitude.com/best-gifts/

https://www.chronicmom.com/2018/11/15-thoughtful-christmas-gifts-for-friends-and-family-with-chronic-illness.html/

https://trend-able.com/holiday-survival/

http://www.sewhistorically.com/old-fashioned-christmas-wreath-from-scratch/  

https://piggybankprinciples.com/cheap-easy-diy-christmas-decorations/  

https://joyfullyunexpected.com/toddler-gift-guide-15-toys-under-15/

http://preppyemptynester.blogspot.com/2018/11/a-sentimental-gift-idea.html

https://www.smallworldspreschool.com/christmas-sensory-activities-for-preschoolers/

https://grammysgrid.com/is-it-ok-for-kids-to-believe-in-santa/

https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/2018/11/for-many-people-the-festive-season-is-not-a-time-of-celebration/

http://www.sewhistorically.com/victorian-christmas-gifts-for-the-home/

https://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au/25-day-countdown-to-happy-christmas/

https://itoldyouiwassick.info/2018/11/23/perfect-gift-chronic-illness-spoonies/

https://awandafulthing.com/2016/11/28/day-1-hershey-kiss-christmas-cookies/

Please share, like and comment on your favourite posts.

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You!

This post should just about make it to you for Monday – depending upon which time zone you live in!  My brain fog has continued, several painsomnia nights later and an eye/sinus infection have left the blog low on the to do list.  Actually using the computer screen has been a chore with head and eye pain…..then add in my almighty cock up with my drugs and a few hours of pregabalin withdrawal – you get the picture!!

turned on laptop on bed

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

This week my nephew turned 8 and celebrated with a Laser Quest party for 15 little live wires.  This crumbly Auntie didn’t manage the trip (for the second year running)….but I did manage to make his birthday cake and sent it with hubby, the best Uncle in the world on that day.  For a simple, yet really effective cake that appeals to any kid, young or old, who likes sweets….make a “box of chocolates/jellies/sweets”!  If you would like a post with instructions leave me a message in the comments. One of the worst parts of chronic illness is having to cancel plans for special occasions when symptoms take over.  However watching Strictly Come Dancing with my Mum was probably slightly more relaxing than the aftermath of the party and the subsequent present frenzy!!  I have to just say here – I loved Stacey Dooley’s tango…you won’t know what I’m talking about unless you are a UK Strictly fan!

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I am currently writing another post for you following a special Accessibility day at Gatwick airport last week and probably the biggest excitement to come out of this has been our purchase of an electric wheelchair.  More of this to come.  Meanwhile I have caught up with some blogs today as my vision has improved (have you used that chloramphenicol ointment – eughhh, gunky eyes and stings like hell!) and I hope that you enjoy these posts as much as I have.  I plan a Christmas blogs post, but have included the advent calendar one here as you might want one sooner rather than later!  I have been a very lucky girl and was bought a beauty calendar by my gorgeous friend Holly – lovely surprise gift….I will fill you in on the gifts as I open them!

Sit back, grab a drink and enjoy!

https://www.brainlesionandme.com/the-benefits-of-a-spa-day-for-those-with-chronic-illness/

https://wheelescapades.com/2018/11/17/booking-accessible-tickets-mission-almost-impossible/

https://countingmyspoons.com/2018/11/tips-for-pacing-when-you-have-chronic-illness/

https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2018/11/21/there-is-power-in-a-name/

https://www.lifeat139a.com/139a/11/20/my-garden-in-november

https://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2018/11/can-being-sad-be-good-for-you.html

http://www.denysewhelan.com.au/denyse-blogs/my-bookmarks-the-big-hug-box-2018-121/

https://www.eclecticevelyn.com/health-mistakes-to-avoid-for-women-over-50/

https://kippiathome.com/2018/11/14/hot-cocoa-bar/

Cupr of cocoa

From Kippi At Home website

 

http://arosieworld.com/beauty-advent-calendars-christmas-2018

Please comment, like and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

Book Review: The Trial by John Mayer

I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

I have always been drawn towards law dramas from books to TV to radio plays. This book which focuses on Scottish law sounded exactly my cup of tea, although I do not pretend to have any inside knowledge of the UK legal system! I did sit in the viewing gallery of the Old Bailey as a student, but I don’t think it counts!!

When an eminent Scottish judge is found dead in suspicious circumstances, the inner circles of the law lords actively look for a suspect ahead of any police investigation. A likely candidate is found in the shape of Brogan McLane, a working-class boy from Glasgow who has succeeded in entering the elite world of the law and been called to the Bar. He will never truly fit in with the Edinburgh elite law families, nor would he want to, but this sets him apart and singles him out. He is set up for the murder and calls upon all his strength and resources from his Glaswegian upbringing as his old friends help him to uncover enemies and evidence…..no spoilers!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace of this novel and was able to hear the different voices and accents of the characters – surely an indication of just how well the book is written. It is action packed and follows many twists and turns, uncovering a seedy world that infiltrates so many walks of life. The main character Brogan is tough yet believable, and the author gives us some glimpses of his tender side in scenes with his wife and a back story about their family. Yet he is never intimidated by the powers who consider themselves to be above the law and I think that his sense of justice is what sends him some unlikely sources of help as he tries to uncover the true identity of the murderer.

The information about the law courts are supplemented part way through the book with photographs of these Scottish buildings which I found to be a nice touch, along with a glossary of legal terms to help the reader out. This is my first book by John Mayer and I will definitely be looking out for his other titles. A great intriguing crime thriller that I give 5 stars. 

Thanks to The Book Club on Facebook.

Publisher: John Mayer

Available on Amazon here:

Author Biography

John Mayer (b. 1952) was born in Glasgow, Scotland at a time of post-WW2 austerity. But in 1963 when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, his life path was set. Aged 14 he walked out of school because, in his opinion, he wasn’t being well taught. Every day for the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds. John Mayer
While still an apprentice engineer he was soon teaching men two and three times his age.
But in the 1970s he ‘dived off a cliff’ and set out to become a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a court battle with global giants, he went to the University of Edinburgh and became an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. He acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.
As an author, John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcasting to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, TV and print media.
The Trial is the first novel in his Parliament House Books series. Set in Edinburgh, it’s an homage to Franz Kafka’s book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustice casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.

Find John Mayer:

Goodreads

http://www.parliamenthousebooks.weebly.com/

Twitter

Blog tour and 4 Star Book Review “The Story after Us” by Fiona Perrin #LoveBooksGroupTours

story-after-us

Sometimes the end is really the beginning….

Living in flats in the same building, Amelia and Lars are a couple starting out on life together with big dreams for their careers, marriage, a home and family.  They are in love and excited by all that life has in store for them.  Lars is improving his English, Ami is making headway in her career and they spend evenings in cheap eateries with friends Liv and Thor drinking house wine and laughing away the time.

Real life can have a habit of getting in the way of life dreams.  The children, Tess and Finn are born, business opportunities and commitments take Lars away more and more often, Ami is given the backing to set up her own advertising company.  But at home the laughter is being replaced with raised angry voices, the love is being replaced by resentment and mistrust and the perfect family is actually a normal family with all the stresses and joys that come with it.

Young Tess has become preoccupied with death and Ami finds herself called in to school to discuss her daughter’s playtime funeral processions.  The realisation that their lives have reached crisis point hits Ami when she returns home to find her son “buried” under a pile of cushions as her daughter conducts a funeral with the au pair nowhere in sight.  On pulling out her young son from near suffocation, Ami knows that something must change but she is still blindsided by her husband’s actions.

Thanks to Kelly at Love Book Group Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour!

Pin for later

Story after us pin

This is a contemporary novel that tackles the difficulties of modern-day life – with particular focus on the breakdown of a marriage.  The chapters alternate between the current day (2017) and the start of Ami and Lars relationship in 2007, painting a picture of the development of a relationship running alongside its future breakdown.  Eventually the historical chapters have caught up with present day, and as such the author forces her characters to accept what is happening to them.

Ami is a strong central character, even when she is at her lowest ebb.  Her emotions are always just beneath her surface veneer and at times are so palpable.  I think that the author writes with sensitivity and clarity when showing us Ami’s hurt – hurt caused by those closest to her which can feel like betrayal – her husband, her parents, her boss.  Yet her own self-belief and love for her children keeps her swimming against the currents threatening to overwhelm her.

The cast of characters is colourful and very human.  I love Ami’s best friend Liv and the humour that she brings to every situation.  She is responsible for a potential big new client for Ami’s struggling agency, although her intent during a drunken conversation was to actually set her pal up on a blind date!  This introduces Ben – another interesting character with his own baggage, a broken marriage and children in a foreign country.  Young Tess and Finn are delightful, and the author puts words into these little mouths that any parent will smile at.  The grandparents also pay such an important role – I love Lars’ mother Ulrika and her “cold” house – and demonstrate that extended family, whether fully present or not, influence family life.  As a mum I couldn’t help byt laugh at the descriptions of the school gate, the relationships between the mothers and I love the descriptions of the Smugums!!  I definitely came into contact with them and saw the looks of disbelief and pity when I failed to wake up from a night shift to collect my kids from school!

There is a lot of sadness in witnessing this relationship breakdown and whilst I was routing for Ami and Lars, it became hard to see a way back from their difficulties.  The author asks how often a marriage continues after the love has gone – not that initial heady, lustful love but the deep love that grows and develops over time for a partner.  How may relationships are based on loving a partner for being the parent of your child, but no longer loving them for being themselves?  I found myself feeling a whole range of emotions as I followed Ami on her journey – but will give no spoilers as to how things work out for her and Lars.

A very modern tale reflecting current life so well – the good times alongside the difficult and never shying away from the emotive, aspects of modern relationships. Funny, engaging and poignant, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, found it easy to read and definitely recommend it.

4 stars!

Available from

Amazon:

Barnes and Noble

WHSmith

About the Author

Fiona was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and
marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis
Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us.FionaPerrin author pic 2meg
As a mother and stepmother to four teenagers while holding down a fairly full-on job,
she wanted to write grown-up commercial fiction about messy, modern love and
families – with all their heartbreak, humour and hope.
She grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire,
and now she writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the
end of the Lizard Peninsula, back in Cornwall. She’s currently there, writing her
second novel for Aria.

Find Fiona here:

Website – www.fionaperrin.com

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Welcome back, friends – I have been on an unintentional blog break for two weeks.  Unintentional as life, fatigue and brainfog took over – I just was unable to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  Then there are the constant demands of a family – hubby, dogs and “big” kids.

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Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 12.11.18

The biggest kid, the young tech engineer, continues to spend half his week working from home, the other half in London as he and a tech pal continue to grow their new IT start up.  He just spent the weekend in the Peak District walking with 9 nine others through the mud and rain – a good time was had by all.  The smallest kid, the lovely girl, is currently working her way through German TV dramas on Netflix for her A level German “wider experience” – this weekend it has been Deutschland 83.  I saw it on TV but have been happy to watch again as the soundtrack takes me back to my teens in the 80s – the plot is great too!

Hubby managed a visit to the politics student last week.  It was supposed to be an overnight stay to break a long journey there and back to the north of England – and could well have included a pub crawl of Nottingham.  Hubby took the middle kid out for dinner and in true student style he ate everything put in front of him, but when they arrived back at the “digs” the number of young people staying in the house had grown to the point where hubby didn’t fancy his chances of 1. sleeping and 2. getting anywhere near the bathroom.  He was very relieved to be climbing into bed next to his wife at 1 am rather than in with his 19 year old son!

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What about the dogs?  Well our old dog has been on his holidays to grandparents the last two weekends, whilst we have been vizsla sitting….firstly for Chester and then for Jensen.  Sam is now back and in his favourite spot in the window asleep on his bed – at 16, he is probably well over 100 in human years so can be forgiven for turning up his nose when the back door is opened to a rain swept garden!

I haven’t been very active with blog reading or commenting, but I have found some lovely posts that I hope you will enjoy them!  Commemorations have taken place globally this weekend for both Remembrance Day and the 100 years since the end of the first World War,  so it seems fitting to share some posts to mark this.  So sit back, grab a cuppa and have a good read….

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https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/the-red-the-white-and-the-purple/

https://thepurplealmond.com/2018/11/12/a-tribute-to-our-veterans-1918-2018/

https://walkamyelinmyshoes.com/2018/11/11/i-remember/

https://gardner1015.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/daily-ramblings-motivation-monday-20/

https://inkanyiso.org/2018/11/06/2018-nov-6-loss/

https://jenanita01.com/2018/11/06/38821/

https://whatapain.co.uk/dear-diary-my-domestic-abuse-story/

https://chronicallyglutenfree.com/2018/11/gluten-free-thanksgiving-stuffing-dairy-soy-free/

https://zebrapit.com/2018/11/12/roasted-turkey-with-herb-butter-and-gravy/

https://writeintolife.com/2018/11/12/1000-days-1000-humans/

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

 

 

Saving Yourself

Great post from Rie – all applicable to me at the moment!

Rising Inside the Embers

portrait-3757153_1920Dear Friends,

Patient advocacy relies heavily on being able to create a narrative, and by extension, sell yourself.  The more gripping or devastating the story, the more advantageous it is to use, at least from a marketing perspective.  Getting people to empathize with our struggles, allows for the creation of new ideas, treatments, and solutions.  What is often not acknowledged is the tremendous emotional effort it takes for someone to share some of their most painful moments.  We do this in the hopes that it will change something in the hearts and minds of our audience.  Yet, do we ever actually examine the toll it takes on us?

Once, I had someone ask me if I liked writing so much, why I didn’t I do it more.  The quick answer is because it is exhausting.  The longer answer is that it is like a small death each time I put…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is the final couple of days of October, here in the UK the clocks have gone back and the early mornings are darker, Halloween means Trick or Treaters will be on our doorsteps within days….and November beckons.  Despite the drop in temperature, I can’t believe that winter is nearly upon us and that there are Christmas jumpers in the shops!

Monday Magic 29th Oct 2018

My family know that I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan and I love the Halloween show, so Saturday night was one of the highlights of the year for me.  The dance of the night had to be the new couple’s choice Musical theatre & Jazz number from Faye and Giovanni, but as with every series there are a couple of contestants with no dance experience who are positively shining.  I mean of course star of social media, Joe Sugg, and the wonderful gritty news reporter, Stacey Dooley, who are both taking to dance like naturals.  Joe has a wonderful frame with a real Marfanoid look to his neck and limbs, whilst we are more accustomed to seeing Stacey squaring up to drugs gangs or on the frontline rather than dressed as a time lord (Dr Who) and strutting a tango under the glitter ball.  I am kicking myself that once again I left it too late to book accessible tickets for the live tour shows in London – I really can’t manage not to be in my wheelchair these days – please someone remind me to make that call next year!

We were joined by a gaggle of 16 year old girls for part of the Halloween show on Saturday before they took over the kitchen with vegan food and an oven load of chips.  It is unbelievable just how much noise these girls can make and then add in the incessant barking of our geriatric dog as he joins in the fun ……well, I think you can begin to imagine how far away they could be heard.  Meanwhile the young engineers (son and boyfriend) were on a party crawl with invites to 4 Halloween affairs in London.  It is now Monday afternoon and he has just walked through the door…..

I think that I have found some fantastic posts for you this week – some from old friends and some are new to me.  There are some suggestions for activities with kids, ghostly writing and a beautiful poem.  I have also focused on posts that look at making a difference – for yourself and others, so sit back with a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/stay-true-to-yourself/

https://mydailyjournalonline.com/expectations-and-acceptance-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/

http://wellingtonworldtravels.com/fun-fall-activities-for-families/

https://mjmallon.com/2018/10/28/author-feature-mary-r-woldering-ghostly-writes-anthology-2018/

https://fancypaperblog.com/2017/11/04/midterm-break-in-ireland-with-kids-to-cork/

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-my-chronic-illness-cant-stop-me-from-making-a-difference-in-the-world/

https://brainlessblogger.net/2018/10/24/things-i-learned-from-depression/

https://nothingbutpoetry.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/forever-dancing/

dancers

https://janetmarycobb.com/2018/10/24/what-difference-did-i-make/

https://www.mollytotoro.com/2018/10/youre-never-too-old-to-learn-something-new/

Please share some love by commenting and sharing to social media.

Have a great week and….keep dancing (so sorry, couldn’t resist),strictly-come-dancing.jpg

Claire x

 

 

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Bone!

Have you ever wondered why tea tastes so much better out of bone china?  As a youngster I could never understand why my grandma and great aunt always insisted on a teacup and saucer for their cuppa, but as I get older I start to appreciate these things.  I’m not saying that I use a teacup – there is no way that I am ladylike enough to manage one, crook my little finger and balance a saucer for that.  The EDS shaky hands make it hard enough to cope with a mug, believe me!  But I do enjoy drinking from a bone china mug these days.

Stream of Consciousness Bone

What happened to those teacups and saucers though? How many of us have inherited dinner services and tea sets from loved ones that never see the light of day?  Afternoon tea is becoming trendy here in the UK and there are various tea and coffee shops that serve delights upon and in a mismatch of tea plates, cups and saucers.

However my grandmother’s bone china tea cups came in very useful earlier this year, and not for drinking from!  The lovely girl made a sculpture for her final piece of art work in the summer and you guessed it, one side is adorned with smashed china to fit with the subject title “Fragments”.  I hope that my relatives are looking down with approval!

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“Fragments”

This is for Linda Hill Stream of Consciousness Saturday!   Linda gives us a writing prompt and participants just write!  Hence stream of consciousness.  Have a look at her site for more prompts and ideas.

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