New lifestyle - Feeling good - Moving on

What a difference a year makes ....

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19/07/2010 at 14:32

 Foods all arrived  ... no substitutions .. nothing missing .. the large American style fridge in our communal kitchen is FULL ... full to bursting .. I was beginning to think I might even have to wedge a chair against the door to make it stay shut .. but made a few changes around and I finally got the door shut   .. and then put a large sign on the door to say KEEP OUT .. this means YOU !!!

It's weird ... somehow there seems much more than I expected .. and yet .. looking at it all I can't imagine how on earth it will go round 30 people .. ok ... I'm panicking ... breathe .. breathe out ... calm ... it will all be fine ...

20/07/2010 at 19:31

 the party  was a resounding success ...

A crowd of expectant party goers started forming outside the communal lounge at 3.45pm .. go'way for 10 minutes we shouted .. (the scheme manager and myself) .. a frantic last few minutes scurrying saw the tables piled high with food, jugs of exotic fruit juice and lemonade were filled to the brim ..

We threw back the curtains (closed to stop sneaky peeking) then we opened the door .. the Hawaiian music CD started to play .. a travelogue DVD was showing all the 'hidden' areas of the Hawaiian Islands .. I greeted everyone as they came through the door and gave them a party bag and a Lei to wear ..

Honestly you should have seen all their faces light up .. they looked around in absolute amazement .. blow up monkeys, parrots, glistening tinsel palm trees .. exotic fruit table centre pieces .. straws and food picks bedecked with  honeycomb paper fruits .. over a hundred paper parasols .. ooooohs and aaaahs were coming from everyone ..

The tables were a riot of colour .. and all the food was wonderful .. I had a little speech I wanted (no, needed) to make .. I made a show of looking through half a dozen sheets of paper .. but only the first sheet had anything on it .. (how 'naughty' am I) .. said my piece and then everyone tucked in .. next we had the party games .. limbo first .. then pin the tail on the donkey .. then a darts tournament .. (velcro darts of course, safety first)  .. to my surprise almost everyone joined in ..

Then I brought out the desserts .. my 'special' home made custard yoghurt, on top of sliced banana and with ginger biscuit crumbles on top .. mini doughnuts and iced gems ... the party finally came to a close around 6.45pm ... some swift clearing away by the usual ladies .. who really do seem to enjoy and relish the job of clearing up ... and a ery vgood time was had by all ..  

Honestly I have never seen so many of the people here having such a laugh and a good time  .. cheering on the limbo'ists, laughing at the folks trying to pin the tail onto the donkey .. applauding the dart throwers and everyone going away with huge grins on their faces .. it just couldn't have worked out better ..   

20/07/2010 at 19:37

But by 'eck am I tired out .. I shall go back down in about an hour and do some more tidying up .. but I just had to come and sit in the quiet for a while .. chill .. and have my feet up for a bit ...

Was all the effort really worth it ... absolutely ... did I enjoy it ... absolutely ... did everyone else enjoy it .. absolutely ... would I do it again .. absolutely ........... NOT ... far too traumatic hahahaha

21/07/2010 at 13:41

That sounds totally fantastic Patootie.

Give yourself a huge pat on the back, and I hope you are now getting a well deserved rest.

Corrah x

23/07/2010 at 15:55
WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!! Call in the marching band, order up the medal on a velvet cushion! Patootie, what an absolutely spectacular triumph!!!! As so often before, you have brought a degree of colour and fun and imagination and interest to life for these folk, with a flair that's uniquely yours. They will be talking about this party for months to come, I'm sure. And I do hope you got some photos, it sounds absolutely amazing! Like Corrah says, though, hope you're getting a rest now, cos you deserve it (and by heck, you must need it!).

Hi, Corrah, by the way, good to see you here! Do tell us a bit about yourself if you feel like it. Always nice to have new friends.

I would have looked in sooner to see how it was all going but last Sunday I came down with a right nasty case of food poisoning and have been pretty well out of it until today. Not very nice, but I'm on my way up now (and not before time, we have guests coming on Sunday for dinner!). So lovely to look in and the first thing I see is your account of this spectacular success.

I do keep wondering if there isn't some way that the housing association could let you do this kind of thing more often: I mean, you be the 'brains' who thinks of it all, but get some other people involved in the doing, and maybe even put up a tiny bit of money. By the sound of it, it wouldn't need to be much, and the lift this must give the whole community is immense.

And, erm, I'm almost afraid to ask, but what's the next project on your list????
23/07/2010 at 16:43

Sorry to hear you've been a bit poorly GC .. wretched food poisoning .. but glad to hear you are now on the mend .. nothing worse than the tummy wobbles ... !

I'm still really tired and having to lie down a lot .. hands are swollen .. can't get my arms above my shoulders .. and I can only walk a short distance still .. but everyone is still raving about the party .. and that makes it all worth while ..

I have an idea for Christmas ... got to 'polish' the idea up a bit and see if the things I'd need are available .. but it would be fun ..  let's just say everyone would be wearing a scarf, woolly hat and sunglasses . heheheh .... more than that I cannot say yet ...

The little Club here have told me that I can ask for money for my 'entertainments projects' now .. reasonable amounts will be freely given, without my needing to say what for  .. as long as everyone is included .. (which they would be of course) .. they are so pleased with all the ideas I've had this year .. the Easter Egg hunt, Haggis tasting on Burns night, Chinese food tasting for Chinese New Year, Trooping the Colour coffee morning, Wimbledon finals cream teas etc etc etc  

OK .. got to go and lie down again ... get my legs up in the air .. and give them a rest ..

23/07/2010 at 17:35
Oh Patootie, what a shame that this leaves you so tired---keep those feet up!! But in a strange way, I guess it IS worth it to know how much you do for everyone else.

And how splendid that the organisers have realised what a fantastic gift you are, and are prepared to fund your efforts----especially on a 'surprise us!' basis! You really do have the most extraordinary flair for this sort of thing, Patootie.

I was thinking a little while ago, if you ever wanted to do a French-themed evening maybe i could contribute a few authentic bits? Or (if we planned it with an eye to when I'll be making one of my regular trips back to NL) a Dutch one? How about a Sinterklaas party? You could do cubes of Dutch cheese with mustard, little crunchy biscuits, handfuls of goodies----oh yes, Sinterklaas is a perfect occasion cos there are lots of special foods, banners etc, and of course the Sinterklaasliedjes which are like Christmas carols only for SK--could send a CD of those along easily. Just a thought......but let me know if you want to scheme!!!
23/07/2010 at 17:39
Patootie, look here:
23/07/2010 at 20:00

 what a brilliant and lovely idea .. and will be credited to you if we run with it .. that would 'bridge the gap' between the onset of winter and waiting for the actual Christmas Day to arrive**.. we could put little Dutch Flags on the tables and print out some fascinating Dutch facts .. and yes some lovely food and nibbles .. along with the carols (and surely that's more than enough for a special musical evening on it's own merit) I might be able to find a Durch winter DVD or similar ... hmmm .. that's really got me thinking .. thanks for that ...

**  surprisingly .. a lot of older folks feel very isolated during the run up to Christmas .. they don't have the Christmas 'feasts' to start shopping and planning for .. or loads of presents to be dashing around buying and hiding .. and it's quite noticeable here that the general mood certainly gets a little 'down' during December ... so the timing would be fantastic ... December 5th (?) is a Sunday .. so it might have to be the Monday or Tuesday  ...

Don't let me forget please

24/07/2010 at 19:32
OK, Patootie, we have a deal! I'll leave it to you to decide whether it would be suitable, but I'm SURE we could make it work. There are loads of special little goodies that come out at that time of year, and I could send over a box or two of things to help the atmosphere along. Another possibility: I don't know how well your residents know each other, but if they are reasonably acquainted you could do a 'surprise' (pronounded 'sur-preeze') which is where everyone draws a name out of a hat, and then gets or makes a little gift for that person. The whole point is that it's usually a gentle joke of some sort: there is always a price limit (say about two quid) and the fun is in the thinking, wrapping and the joke. So if the recipient were a pretty lady, the gift might be a set of false eyelashes that were packed by being attached to a little handmade (or cheap) doll, or even a face drawn on paper. Of course you never know who did your 'surprise'!

But if that sounds like too much work for people, we can still set up food, songs, etc. I can probably get a video from somewhere of the Sint arriving by steamboat (as he does every year). We might even get a video of the Elfstedentocht if we thought we had the time. It had its centenary last year so there's bound to be something around. Look at

Anyway, don't mean to push it, but I'll remind you in September so if you want to do it I can get the ball rolling on this side!

I can only try to imagine how grim December can be when Christmas is just another day, different from the others only in that everyone else in the world has someone to be with and you don't..... And if I can do anything to prevent that, I'd love to be on the team!
28/07/2010 at 22:23

Pheweee this sudden weather change has 'grabbed' me and given me a good 'shaking' ..3 nights running I've slept for 12 hours .. but don't you feel great when you get a half decent nights sleep .. so much better than only having 3-4 hours anyway .. only problem is the brains willing but the body isn't .. just as when my body is working well my brain is super muddled ... hahahhahhh .. can't win ... !

Had a word with our scheme manager and she thinks the Sinterklaas idea is a good one  .. she just wanted to know if mulled wine is any part of the Sinterklaas festivities .. heheheh .. so we will have that one weekend too .. carols from Kings College Chapel here in Cambridge and some nice mulled wine ... !

Mulled wine - Glühwein - svarené víno - vin fiert -  izvar - karstvins - grzane wino - Glögg - same hot spicy wine just different names around the world .. maybe we could do a short drinks quiz or similar .. with the winner getting a nice bottle of wine .. hmmm ... entertainment 'juices' flowing freely now ..

>yawn< ... been yawning my head off this last couple of hours .. so another early night ... perhaps try and read for a while .. then blissful sleep once more ... try and store up some 'extra' sleep for when I can't sleep next week (it's bound to happen) ..

28/07/2010 at 22:51
Oh, I'm glad you're getting some sleep, Patootie. When you're tired and can't relax, it can make you feel so awful. So have a lovelly long sleep, especially if the cycle is likely to leave you tired next week.

Oddly enough, mulled wine ('warme wijn', it's called in the Netherlands) is not part of traditional Sinterklaas, perhaps because it is primarily a children's festival (St. Nicholas being the patron saint of children). However, don't let a little formality like that cramp your style! )) Although I have to say the idea of mulled wine with Carols from Kings sounds just wonderful.

If you think you'd like to do Sinterklaas, we'll do some plotting in September when I'll be there. It always irritates me, the way that seasonal things appear in the shops MONTHS before the appropriate time, but if it means I can send things over to you in then, it will be all to the good. Otherwise I'll get a friend to put together a suitable collection. I think you said the group is likely to be about 30 people?

In the meantime, get your head down and have a really long, lovely sleep! Sweet dreams!
28/07/2010 at 22:53
By the way, what about a short precis of the speech you made at the party??? It seems to have been worthy of a standing ovation!
29/07/2010 at 10:38

Sigh, another lovely 10 hours sleep .. but will several bathroom 'pit stops' hehehe

Thanks for the offer to help with planning Sinterklaas .. (woohooo I can even spell it now without having to scroll up!) .. I would think around 15-20 would be the most likely number to come along .. proudly says .. my party was the best turn out they've ever had here .. !

The shops here have just started putting all the Christmas things onto the shelves .. it's really stupid .. the kiddies get excited that Santa is coming far too soon .. and to be honest by the time Christmas finally arrives everyone is fed up with it all .. and people panic and start buying because they think it will all be gone long before Christmas .. so the shops can then say .. well we had the demand for it .. grrrr In England these days Christmas = commercialism .. full stop ... none of the 'old fashioned' spirit of Christmas is left .. just chain store glitz and ready made food these days .. such a shame .. I used to love Christmas .. well the run up to it .. making puds, cakes, mince pies .. now it all comes in boxes and freezer bags ..

My speech ohh myy .. you don't really want to know do you ...

29/07/2010 at 10:50

Ok Ok ... so here is the speech ...

"My first Birthday party was when I was about 5-6 years old, and typically I was ill on the day, all I heard from the party was the sound of tin whistles and tambourines as my party guests marched up and down the garden path while I was shut away in my bedroom ... (an aside, in all the party bags I had put a little plastic flute and mini tambourine) so please have a toot, rattle those tambourines and lay to rest the ghosts of my first party.

My second Birthday was not until I was 21 .. I was accidentally punched in the jaw .. I couldn't eat for a month and still can't eat hard foods on that side, and it's always been painful since then.

I said I never wanted to have another Birthday party .. blimey after the first two 'disasters' I'd probably end up killing someone I joked .. and had refused all manner of attempts to get me to have a party .. however, coming up to my 50th I relented and said someone could organise a little 'do' for me .. then very sadly in the early hours of my Birthday my dear old dad passed away .. and my jest of 'killing someone' hit home hard ...

But we won't dwell on sad things, just having said it is enough, so thank you all for being such a wonderful crowd of people, thank you for coming, thanks to Judy (the scheme manager) for all her help and support on keeping the party a secret for so long .. and .. LET'S HAVE FUN  ... "

29/07/2010 at 11:17

I had a number of people come up and give me a hug in the days just after the party, said I was very 'brave' to have organised the party .. and that they hoped the 'bad' times had been put into the past and that I could now look forward to better times ..

Some of them even went so far as to say that they could see I had 'dark' things in my past but hadn't wanted to intrude .. and that they were pleased I had chosen to 'give it another go' ... and that I had shared some of my 'hurts' with them ..

And it's true .. those 5th Birthday memories hurt .. had hurt for 50+ years ... me shut away sobbing my heart out .. other kids laughing and enjoying themselves .. I wasn't even allowed a bowl of jelly ... you see my doctor didn't believe in asthma .. told my parents I was just a naughty child trying to get attention .. so I went 16 years before I had any proper treatment for asthma .. he 'damn near' killed me stooopid man ... I have scarred lungs and a heart murmur because of him ... lost more than half my schooling .. and I'm still terrified of having anything put over my mouth and stopping me getting my breath easily ..

The 21st punch was truly an accident .. I just stepped into the way of someone flinging their arm out and his fist hit me just in front of my ear exactly where the jaw joint is ... it's permanently 'out of place' clunks when I chew hard or chewy foods and will have that until I die ..

(Sorry the next bit is a bit tough reading, so feel free to skip past if you feel like it) 

We never know when we say 'daft' things that they may just come true .. I had known for a few days that dad wouldn't get better after his awful fall down stairs, I was the one who found him, he was in a terrible state, .. and truthfully it was a huge relief that he died as quick as he did because (and only because) he was in terrible pain even with all the morphine .. but I cannot tell you how gulity I felt (and still do) that it was all my fault .. I was trying to help him and we were having his home modernised to make it more comfortable for him .. I think that he simply 'forgot' the stair lift had been fitted and somehow fell down the stairs and landed on top of the stair lift chair ..  it's not a sight any daughter should have to see .. I've never been able to tell anyone the real facts .. and I won't .. it's just too awful ... but I know I will always feel guilty ... if only I hadn't 'interferred' .. sigh

Sorry for 'unloading' my angst .. it is very helpful to finally be able to say some of these things .. it''s taken 8 years for me to even start saying anything about dad ... and the hurt does seem just a little less 'all consuming' ..

29/07/2010 at 20:59
Oh Patootie, what a very sad and distressing set of memories to have around your party! Your friends were right: you WERE very brave to have the party in the face of those things, and even more to share that pain with the people there. But the fact that you honoured them with your confidence must have made each of them feel special, and knowing how much pleasure your party gave to the people there will hopefully have helped to soften the bad memories.

You know, Patootie, it's normal to feel guilty about an accident like your father's": but you also know that it is an ENTIRELY inaccurate perception of things. In organising the much-needed modernisation that would enable him to stay home and live independently, you weren't just TRYING to help him: you WERE helping him. And I am quite sure that the hope of being able to go on living as he wanted was a huge mental lift to him. Very sadly, falls down stairs are not unusual in older people: sometimes they forget where they are, sometimes they just lose their footing. It is NOT your fault in the slightest. Nothing you could have done would have prevented it. It was, in every sense, a tragic accident. Finding him that way must indeed have been deeply shocking for you, and I am so very sorry you had that to cope with, but it is absolutely NOT true that you were in any way whatever responsible for what happened. It's hard to accept that we cannot protect people we love, but honestly, we can't. And i'm sure your father would much, much rather you remembered him for all the love and the good times you shared, rather than feel guilty about something that was in no way your fault.

It is very brave of you to be able to talk about these difficult things; I hope that doing so will give you just a little more distance from them, and make them impinge a little less on the life you have now.

I hope that doesn't sound preachy, Patootie, that's the last thing I mean to do! Here, have a big hug----that says it all

29/07/2010 at 22:38

Awwwww thank you GC  ... I know deep down that what you say is true .. and for every 'bad, sad' thought I have . I've tried to think of a good memory to make me smile again .. still .. enough of all this angst and woe ... suffice to say .. everyday is a better day ..

It's really hot here tonight .. hardly any breeze .. close and heavy .. yawn ... my eyelids are 'heavy' too .. they are like blinds .. slowly coming down over my eyes hahahaha ..

I think yet another early night is on the agenda .. need to be up early tomorrow .. I want to get out and 'pop up' to a kitchen and home shop .. blinking dropped 4-5 mugs this last two weeks .. broken the lot .. so I reckon I shall have to go and buy yet another lot .. sigh ... the amount of mugs I buy ... somehow when I'm making coffee or washing them up they manage to get a life of their own and just jump our of my hands hahaha

Maybe I should buy myself a kiddies non breakable mug ...

30/07/2010 at 03:35

Oooohhhh look what I've found ..

The first site is fairly useful in giving me an idea of how the Sinterklaas day goes (and some cookie recipes) .. and the second site is a shop that sells lots of Dutch goodies .. they are bound to have some cookies etc that are for especially for Sinterklaas ...

And yes, sigh ... my brains had enough of sleeping .. woke up at 3am .. wide awake and raring to start searching the Internet for all manner of things hehehe

Right ... next stop is trying to find some little Dutch paper flags for decoration ...

30/07/2010 at 09:34
Oh dear, 3 am!! Sounds like the sleepies have left you for sure ((

But still, you have nice plans for today. Mugs, for a start. In view they are all designed to have a limited shelf life. If they outlive it, then commit graceful hara-kiri by throwing themselves onto the floor. So go get some more and don't worry about it.

Sinterklaas. WAIT, STOP! That Christmas site has been put together by someone who has never experienced Sinterklaas, but only read about it. So they have the timing pretty far out. For a start, Sinterklaas arrives int he country (by steamboat, from Spain) around 15 November. His arrival is now televised. In the following three weeks he arrives in every village, city and town in the country, and at many schools etc--always accompanied by his black servants (in gorgeous Renaissance garb), always himself in full episcopal regalia, and always riding on his white horse. This is not a single day, this is a SEASON, leading up to the saint's feast day of 5 December. And it is NOTHING to do with Christmas (except that St. Nicholas is a Christian saint, obviously). We shall return to this topic!

But in the meantime, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING!! I will be in NL in the second half of September, so let me see what I can do there re little Dutch flags on toothpicks, appropriate room decorations, various food (speculaas, chocolade letters, banketstaaf, strooigoed---to be thrown by handfuls, literally---etc). Don't pay some company to ship it when you've got me ))))

If I can't get enough stuff by early October when I'll come back down here, then we'll move on to Plan B and I'll get a friend to post some of it to you. But this is a joint exercise this time, remember?!? xxx
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