Center Parcs, Ceroc, Daily Life, Dancing, Kite flying, Moving house, Writer's Blog

Finding the positives from 2018

I am no different to everybody else. My family have their fair share of ups and downs, sadness and tragedies but nobody wants to hear about all of that nonsense. The glum stuff is for keeping hidden behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. I don’t want to depress my readers, especially this close to Christmas.

23f306994bb482335b8291de131d4061-2018-bubbles-by-vexels

I wanted to share some of the awesome times from the past year. There have been some real highlights and some great times so read on for a bit of a positive vibe.

The end of the staffing struggle

After a period of ups and downs, advertising, searching and interviews, we finally secured two excellent IT Technicians, and not a moment too soon. I had spent the previous months trying hard to manage the IT department as well as do the job of one or two technicians so I was very grateful to secure an amazing team. Life is certainly much calmer at work nowadays.

Settling times

My son, Daniel, secured himself a job at a local private hospital, after a period of insecurity as the cafe he was managing was going through changes and, subsequently, closure. He loves his work and is now much more settled. His issues following his brain surgeries over the past years seem to have settled and the side effects are now bearable, even if they have not subsided. He has rid himself of a troublesome and unreliable flatmate, turning his spare room into a games room – what else?

More settling times

My daughter and her husband were able to finalise the purchase of their first home. A beautiful four-bedroomed detached house on a new development outside of Norwich. They had rented since they first got together and are so pleased to have overcome a far-higher-than-normal number of snagging issues. I don’t think they will buy from Charles Church/Persimmon anytime in the future but they now have a fabulous home. They also secured great new jobs this year so all is well in the Woods world.

New addition

At the start of September, we welcomed the newest addition to our family – a gorgeous granddaughter, called Harper. Her parents are my husband’s oldest son and his lovely fiancee. Harper is now just over three months old and she is an adorable delight. I have genuinely never encountered such a contented baby. This has given us a great excuse to travel a couple of hours down the road to visit them and their little family as often as we can. We have also made new friends, Harper’s maternal grandparents, Pauline and Guy. You can never have too many new friends and we look forward to getting to know them better each time we visit.

48390559_2132283106835084_6807157336025595904_n

Speaking of new friends

When I mention new friends, it seems wrong not to mention old friends. We have so many friends and acquaintances through our hobby, dancing. We have far too many friends to mention but it’s worth mentioning that we almost lost touch completely with a few of our friends, because we became wrapped up in a couple of quietly-controlling dancing friends who monopolised our weekends and, through the medium of sneaky comments and suggestions, we almost, but not quite, completely lost touch with some very good friends who we had known and become close to, through dancing for years. Luckily, we were given a lifeline when those friends suddenly and unexpectedly became jealous of our visiting alternative dance venues and enjoying any dancing time without them. It’s funny how the penny suddenly drops and you feel freer than you have done for months. We realised we had become too reliant on these two, quite frankly, dull friends. The upshot is that we now have more dancing friends than ever and have rekindled an almost-lost friendship. We are both eternally grateful for all of our dear friends.

Not losing Mum

This time last year, Mum was not looking like she would be able to crawl her way to Christmas but, with some lifestyle changes, plenty of drugs and intervention from doctors, she is still with us all. Mum may not be in the best of health – far from it – but we are lucky to have had her with us for another year.

Workmates 

Turnover of staff has meant a number of new additions to the school over the past months and I am lucky to be blessed with some lovely people in my working life.  I am not generally one for socialising with colleagues but with such a lovely bunch it is difficult not to keep in touch.

48398294_2132032566860138_5631384921776848896_n

Blogging and writing pages

I have almost completed my Comprehensive Creative Writing course which I am taking with the Writers Bureau and, as part of this course, it was suggested that I set up a blog and start sharing my unpublished works on my site and social media pages. This has been a successful starting year to my writing. I have had a handful of short stories published, a couple of poems and have started to build a portfolio which I am secretly quite impressed with. I have the starting chapters of four novels rattling around in my laptop but have not yet decided which one will take my full attention in 2019. Watch this space for more!

New gnashers

I am not going to go on and on about my new teeth but I am seriously pleased with them. From my baby teeth, I have always had a large gap in the front which I hated from High School when I was bullied about them. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a dentist who, over the past few months, has created me some new teeth with no gap at all. Everything feels nice and secure and they look better than they ever have done. That’s all I am going to say but its a huge positive!

A REAL summer

There was a lot of grumbling, and yes I do realise just how hot it was, but summer 2018 was awesomely warm. a few short weeks after heavy snowfall, we were beset with a glorious heatwave which lasted for most of the summer months. It was such a lovely season, I personally could not have asked for more beautiful summer weather. My husband and I were able to visit the beach and parks which gave him plenty of time to fly his kites (you can read all about this in some of my other posts) and me to do some writing.

Nieces and nephew

We are lucky enough to have three nieces and a nephew on my brother’s side. Somewhat ideally, they are aged 11, 9, 7 and 5 and they are a fabulous bunch. As with all of our family, we don’t see enough of them but have been  blessed to spend more time with them this year than ever before. We plan to do more next year so they will soon be bored with us!

44831613_2051545321575530_5431519889967808512_n

Winter Wonderland

We decided to pay for a holiday to Center Parcs, just a few miles down the road from us in Elveden, while the Winter Wonderland was in full swing. The whole resort is lit up for Christmas with sparkling white lights adorning the woodland pathways, and numerous seasonal events taking place around the site. Its truly beautiful and we made this a Christmas present for those who came with us. We hired a huge four-bedroomed lodge, each bedroom with its own en-suite. The lodge had a games room and a sauna as well as the usual kitchen, dining and living areas and was such a luxury to be there before Christmas. We loved it so much that we have booked again for next year with the addition of the new granddaughter and her mummy and daddy, too, who have never been there.

2018 has been such a positive year all round that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 for all of my readers.

 

 

 

Daily Life, Work, Writer's Blog

The pain that is a migraine

For anyone who has ever been asked, “but isn’t a migraine just a bad headache?” while questioning you clutching your head in agony, you have my every sympathy. For anybody who has never suffered with a migraine I am here to tell you it is so much more than a bad headache.

Up to a third of sufferers are able to predict the onset of a migraine, during a stage called the prodrome stage. The symptoms can begin with muscle weakness, irrational irritability, food cravings, depression and even an aura which can cause flashing lights and temporary blind spots in one or both eyes. At this stage, some medications can help  in the prevention of the onset or, at the least, reduce the pain of the migraine when it arrives.

While I am not denying that headaches can be debilitating, painful and disruptive, a migraine is a different pain altogether. The migraine attack brings a virtually indescribable, severe pain, on one or both sides of the head, accompanied by other symptoms which can include, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light , sound and smell as well as disturbances in vision.  The disabling pain can last for hours or, in the worst cases, up to four or five days, and I can personally only liken it to giving birth through the side of the head.

Often, along with medication, the only way to relieve a migraine is to rest, most sufferers reporting the need for a darkened room, and sleep. Sleep, however, can be difficult to achieve due to the extreme pain, but some medications bring welcome relief with the side effect of drowsiness.

When a migraine begins to subside, the sufferer can feel listless, moody, dizzy and weak and a state of confusion reigns, along with a bruised feeling on the side of the head which has experienced the worst of the pain. This is partly due to the swelling of the blood vessels during a migraine and their subsequent subsidence.

There are a number of factors which are triggers for migraine sufferers but the most commonly reported culprits are certain foods (including, but not exclusive to, processed foods and aged cheeses), food additives (including sweeteners such as aspartame), stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, sensory changes to light, noise and smell, and hormonal changes.

My own experience of migraine is a weekly, or sometimes more frequent , attack and I am working through possible triggers and sensitivities, although two highly likely factors at are stress at work and lack of sleep with my usual sleep routine being two hours asleep and one hour awake during the night of late. Not only do I wake up thinking about work and trying to formulate solutions to ongoing issues, but I also suffer from age-related hot flushes which leave me burning up inside and using a fan in an attempt to lower the temperature, while trying not to cool my husband. I am lucky if I am asleep more than four hours a night which means, as well as being cranky during the day, the lack of sleep is high on the list of possible triggers for my migraines.

Although it is often suggested, I am not keen on HRT, having been highly sensitive to Estrogen in my younger years, so I have headed for A. Vogel’s Menoforce Sage tablets for the self-heating warmer nights, and A. Vogel’s Stress Relief Daytime Valerian-Hops oral drops. Hopefully, managing these difficult triggers will result in fewer migraines, fewer headaches and normal service will resume. I might even get back to regular dancing soon, and for those who know me well, you know how much I miss that!

Poem, Work, Writer's Blog

When work takes over.

I wonder why I bother
I wonder why so hard I try
I wonder would they miss me
Would many a day go by?

Before they came to find me
When jobs weren’t being done
If tasks were often much ignored
Would they realise the missing one?

Would they know the tasks they’ve given
Might be too much, if just for me
And do they know how hard they’ve driven
My last, the upbeat part of me?

Most days when work is over
My energies are all but gone
My head, a migraine, yes another!
With the stress I can be put upon.

Not often I’m complaining
My job’s my pride, you see
But expectation’s vastly rising
There can be only one of me.

I fail to sleep the nighttime hours
Needed to make me whole
My mind a turmoil, in the smallest hours
I can’t switch off, my leading role.

Work, Writer's Blog

The first is always the worst…

You would be forgiven for believing that following a summer of mayhem, chaos, testing, installing,  moving, replacing, removing,  upgrading, sweat and (almost) tears, most of it meticulously planned, we would be ready to face the onslaught of the new term with bells on. We were ready, but never quite ready enough, for the split that is three energetic IT support staff across numerous areas of our multi-area site and even more numerous users, each one as important as the other.

That is not so say we weren’t ready, we are always ready. That is not to say we weren’t prepared, we are always prepared.

However ready and prepared we are in our department,  we can never foresee the next little niggle which can affect one or one hundred users,  we can never foresee just how many passwords can be forgotten over the course of eight weeks, we can never foresee how something tested to its limit could fall over when the returning masses of eager staff and pupils alike start to use it concurrently.

Computers,  software,  peripherals, let’s face it Information Technology in general, is unpredictable at the best of times but when coupled with users who have been absent from it for the majority of a gloriously hot eight week summer break, there will be issues.

1898843

This week saw the return of the Lower and Senior School as well as the introduction of a shiny new Pre Prep building provisioning further new staff and pupils. We worked tirelessly over the summer; overseeing installations of shiny touchscreen TVs, upgrading and replacing out of date equipment, cleaning,  connecting, creating…We took final walkarounds to check, test and re-test and finally the list appeared deceptively complete.

Despite all of the above, the week has been a manic one. My Fitbit has recorded steps akin to a bustling worker ant but with a far greater stride length!

The staff and pupils were amazingly patient as we battled laptops which, at the crucial lesson stage decided they no longer wished to be a part of our friendly domain, instead opting for the preferred route of ‘go away, I am not complying today, thank you’.

37513632

With fingerprints to scan for use with our new biometric registration and door access system, loan devices to deliver and general day to day queries and issues, I can report my full and extreme gratitide that I now manage a team (albeit small in number) of able and willing IT Technicians for whom no job is too small and courtesy is second nature. Without them, I would have been stranded and unable to have coped so marvellously. They are brilliant, we are a brilliant team.

I have survived twelve Septembers in this IT department and this has been no less busy than any previously experienced.

The fact remains, with IT there is no amount of planning,  testing or attention that can alleviate the unforeseen. Even the foreseen can revert if it chooses to, and usually at the most inopportune moment.

error48

I am happy to report that we three have survived, although we stumbled at the end of yesterday towards a much -needed weekend break with heavily bagged eyes. We still have much to do, virtual mountains to climb, such is the nature of the beast but we made it without trauma. The staff and pupils can be assured of our highest attention and Monday heralds the start of the first FULL week of teaching.

happy_employees_large

Go on, IT, challenge us, but you won’t beat us!