Author Archives: Tiffany

Falklands War 35th Anniversary 

I am 19 years younger than my husband Fred, who served in the Royal Navy during the Falklands War and went to sea on HMS ALACRITY. The ship was drafted to the south Atlantic, paving the way for the task force that followed, and set about sinking enemy vessels and rescuing sailors and airmen from the water when their ship went down. HMS ALACRITY miraculously returned home to Plymouth after the war, almost unscathed. She had taken evasive manoeuvres to narrowly miss being hit by an Exocet missile, and at one point was under attack from an Argentinian air strike, with two 500 pounds bombs landing in the water close by, one either side of the ship. She was lucky….her crew were exceptionally lucky, and all came home to Plymouth at the end of the conflict.

Despite me knowing all this, you would think that tagging along with Fred to HMS ALACRITY’s 35th Anniversary reunion of the Falklands War, I would feel a little out of touch….I was in my first year of primary school in 1982 and it wasn’t in the history books when I was at school. But, when you get together with the crew of a ship that’s been to war, the memories they made together (even 35 years later) are emblazoned in their minds as if they’ve been forged in steel. 

Some of them may look like a bunch of grandads and many of them proudly are…but of course they came home! Seeing them together, talking and laughing over buckets of beer, they become teens and twenties again. The tales they tell of their time in the south Atlantic don’t just tell the story of a chapter in the now updated history books, they weave a wonderful tapestry of the bonds that formed between them….their true personalities shine out through the stories of their antics, and stories of being fired upon are met with as much excitement and laughter as tales of their ‘runs ashore’. The fire of youth burns brightly in their eyes when they meet. One wonderful wife said that the first time she went to an ALACRITY reunion (15 years ago) she discovered a side of her husband’s personality she’d never seen before!

Fred is often the life and soul of a gathering but it’s a joy to see him with his old shipmates. I am also moved nearly to tears when Captain Chris Craig speaks a few words at these reunions….he opens my eyes to some of the events that ALACRITY was party to and reminds everyone how they pulled together as a crew, but also how very lucky they were to come homewhen others didn’t. He is so thankful and grateful to this unlikely bunch and there is so much mutual respect in the room that it’s impossible not to be drawn in….impossible not to realise that we make our own way in life but ultimately have no real control of our fate. It is also a powerful reminder that life can be fleeting and that, however strong and successful we have the potential to be as individuals, we are at our best when we are together. 

To the Ship’s companyof HMS ALACRITY, long may your brotherhood bond last and live on in the tales you tell.

#hmsalacrity

#falklandswar

#royalnavy

#simplythebest

Dive right in

How I love to see the sky,
The rocks, the birds, the trees…
Reflected in the surface
Of the water, spared the breeze.

The complete calm and silence,
So still it looks like glass…
Creating an illusion
Of upside-down birds flying past.

The picture looks so perfect,
So untouched, it draws me in…
Until I hear a splash nearby,
As divers jump right in!

The frogmen stride, all kitted up,
and suddenly they’re in…
Bobbing at the water’s surface,
With their masks and suits and fins.

Then silence, it descends once more,
As the surface starts to clear.
They quietly sink into the depths,
One-by-one they disappear.

The only sign or clue they give,
To show that they are there…
The bubbles streaming upwards,
Break the surface with the air.

The tranquility, breaks once more,
As they pop back up, and then…
They waddle back to base camp,
Before they do it all again.

I love to watch the water,
And the people going in…
It won’t be long til I can join them,
Then the real fun can begin!

20130720-230249.jpg

My lovely Nan

A poem for all my family as we all send our love and thoughts to my Nan tonight…..

———-

My lovely Nan

My family means so much to me
Although spread far and wide
We live apart, across the globe,
the towns, and countryside

We don’t all meet up all the time
though weddings draw us near
And I maybe see a few of you
just once in each long year

Some of you are further still
and Facebook keeps us close
I relish news in comments, and
rely on pics and ‘posts’

I hope you know I think of you
and wonder how you are
I understand we’ve busy lives
that keep us all apart

Now my lovely Nan is poorly
and we’ve started drawing in
Like a parachute of loveliness
for her to float right in

We’ve trekked up to St George’s
with magazines and grapes too
We’ve made sure she’s had sips of squash
and plumped her pillows too

She knows we’re all around her
All as one we’re strong and brave
We hold her up with all our hearts
This great family she has made

“Egg-spress yourself!”

20130624-222830.jpg

I have three crazy chickens: Babs, Betty, and Daphne. They each have their own distinct looks and personalities, and they all lay different types of eggs…

‘Babs’ is a large white chicken that lays huge brown eggs; ‘Betty’ is a brunette and lays blue eggs; whilst cute and fluffy bantam ‘Daphne’ lays almost spherical, pink eggs the size of golf balls.

I was thinking, as I collected their eggs today, that the chickens are pretty funky with their individual quirks….just like their eggs:
Some of the eggs are small and tubby, some large and sometimes even pointy! Some are freckly, some wrinkly, and some very pretty and colourful. And, to top it off, the yolks are different sizes and shades of yolky hues as well.

As I diligently wrote the date on each egg (then got carried away and started drawing faces on them!), it made me think that a box filled with eggs from different chickens is a bit like a room full of people with different personalities……we all look different, come in different shapes and sizes, and we’re all different on the inside too (emotionally that is!)…..
…..how egg-straordinary!

Then I concluded that whether being our chilled-out selves at home, or egg-speriencing the wonders of life that are beyond our front doors, we should make sure we share our quirks and unique qualities with the world…..

“Go on! Egg-spress yourself!”

…..and make the world a more colourful and egg-citing place to live!

Parenting for the unprepared! – Part One

I have been blessed with children all my life.

Babies, toddlers and teens have surrounded me: from cousins to siblings, to yet more siblings (once I was old enough to love ‘playing mum’ rather than wanting to throttle them in the throes of infant sibling rivalry). Then, as I got older, wards of my days as a nanny and babysitter, school children (innocents and adolescents), children of my now older and wiser childhood friends, and friends from Uni, the children from my beloved husband’s first marriage, and the newest edition to my world, my god-daughter, baby Hope….fast becoming less of a baby and more of a beautiful, and clever, if insanely small person.

I love Hope, she reminds me how precious life is, and how much I love children….especially my own.

Hannah and Holly brought new meaning to my life. Not in the once expected package of wrinkly bundles of tiny limbs, nappies, spittle, and squeals….I was spared that part! Never-the-less, at the tentative pre-teen stage of their lives I suddenly appeared, and my life changed for ever, and much for the better.

I love being a mum (if only in the role of the rather unflatteringly termed ‘step-mum’). I appreciate this is easier to say from my perspective….there are lots of things that people enjoy on a part-time basis that they wouldn’t necessarily entertain full-time! That said, I would have had the girls full-time in a heartbeat, if circumstances might have made it possible. It would have been a challenge, I’ll admit (probably more for the girls than me!). The girls are, and always have been, impeccably behaved and, unlike my brother and I at a similar age, they don’t seem to want to throttle each other on a regular basis. No, the greatest challenge for me would certainly have been the gradual thrashing of years of super-tidy (ever-so-slightly neurotic) obsessive compulsive behaviours out of me. I still had to address these, but I had the mild luxury of reconditioning my brain in slow time!

Loving the girls was easy from the very start….they are beautiful, intelligent, talented, funny, warm-hearted, generous, kind, and loving. Strikingly individual with completely different characters and personalities, the girls enrich my life with every adventure, every phone call, with all their moments of excitement, and with every moment we spend together.

But don’t be fooled that it has been in any way easy…
Parenting from a distance has had some distinct advantages but, ultimately, because I love the girls as my own, not being there can be heartbreaking. As with any child there are highs and lows…with school, with friends, with siblings, with parents, and with life in general. When the girls are angry, frustrated , hurt or upset, I do the very best I physically can. With complete focus, with my full attention, and all the patience, kindness, love, and understanding I can muster. At these times, my resources seem suddenly limitless, like I could keep going, keep hanging in there, offering a lifeline of support that will carry the weight of their worries and woes. And when the storm has passed I feel incredibly lucky to have had their trust, and an opportunity to help…and perhaps even to heal.

At times like these, I feel I’ve earned the ‘mum’ in ‘step-mum’, I’ve done the very best I can, the very least they deserve from a parent, confidant or friend. I may not have had a nine-month breaking-in period to adjust to parenthood, but when the need has arisen , with every maternal instinct screaming in my body, I have tried to step up to the occasion, rise to the challenge, and I have hoped to god that I have been of some use, and been grateful I have something worth fighting for.

Hannah and Holly have grown so fast….I’ve seen them sleep and wake, laugh and cry, when they have been jubilant and joyful, irate and irrational. I’ve seen all the colours of the emotional rainbow and, though I stop and think daily how much I love them (…wondering what they’re up to…if they’ve had a good day…and when will I see them next!), there is one thing that I particularly like to ponder from time to time…

Today, with god-daughter Hope in my house and my heart I was reminded….how lucky I am…

Children are a gift.
To love a child (of any age) unconditionally, and to guide that much-loved child through the trials of life, isn’t always easy (even for a part-timer!). But when I see Hope, and the beautiful happy toddler she has become, I’m reminded that the children in my life are special.

Unconditional love for a child, for some, turns out to be brutally unrewarding. For me, unconditional love comes easily. I don’t need gratitude, thanks, ‘A’ grades at school, or a pat on the back to tell me if I’m doing a good job. I do the best I can…..and the love I have for my children, my younger siblings, and for Hope, is in itself a precious gift….wanting to make their lives better, richer, happier, makes me want to be a better person….the best person I can possibly be. What better motivation is there to lead a good life, and make the very most of it.

Lost in space

I’m often excited and intimidated in equal measure that the World spins, that my mind spins as I walk upon the Earth, and that people and their lives spin in their own little orbits. I was reading my daughter’s blog about friendship and it reminded me of something from A Level Chemistry! I was thinking about friendship and the bonds between people, family and friends. People, just like individual atoms, are minuscule in the great scheme of things and the universe. Atoms move about in space and time, randomly meeting other atoms, forming and braking bonds. Some bonds are made and last an eternity, whilst others are fleeting. Some bonds, formed between atoms fraternising in their shared space or environment, form for a time (creating a compound…a new existence, that looks, moves, shakes, and behaves in its own unique way….made up of a group of individuals, randomly but necessarily brought together). A little heat within the group may cause a temporary breaking of the bonds and sometimes, when the heat is too much or a new element joins the group, the effect is catastrophic…..the bonds break irreversibly. In the minuscule life of an atom (with no feelings!) it drifts off, none the wiser, until it forms new bonds elsewhere in a new, happy existence. Atoms don’t fade and die, or get left by the wayside….their existence is simply to ‘be’…..to meet other atoms, form new friendship groups (compounds!) and have substance, purpose, and to contribute to the World and to the universe.

Just like atoms, our lives intertwine with the lives of those around us. Some encounters are simple, some complicated….some good, and some less productive. Whatever we do in life has an effect on others, just as others affect us. Sometimes a little heat does us good, it gives us an opportunity for change. Simply to ‘be’, to ‘do’, to be part of what goes on around us, is to be making our way in the world…..we all do it differently, so there is no right or wrong way really. The main thing is, not to be afraid of conflict or change….maybe the place we thought we felt safe, comfortable, and secure, isn’t where we’re meant to be!