Breaking Free

There was a moment on Wednesday last week when I felt complete despair. 2022 was not starting with a a spark of joy. Everyone at work seemed down and it has been cold and grey in London. I realised I had to do something to break the cycle of misery! I booked a hotel room!

Friday started with a tour of an entirely different hotel, the new Pan Pacific. Rooms start at £300 and the attention to detail was phenomenal. I met my friend Umul later in the day. Dinner was at a restaurant called Flat Iron and I was surprised how busy it was. The menu is just ‘steak’. I loved it, we had a really good time catching up. My hotel the Premier Inn was very reasonable, although I did chuckle over the fact the duvet sits on the top of the bed. You need to make your own bed!

I slept like a baby and woke up to blue skies and a cold but not freezing London day. I walked around the Spitalfields market and then Leadenhall market. It was very quiet and quite soothing.

As I had no plans it was a joy to walk around exploring little known roads and finding interesting buildings and spots in the City. I ended up going to one of my favourite places in London, Borough Market.

Borough has almost anything you could possibly imagine to eat or drink. I had a very enjoyable afternoon forgetting life’s troubles.

So my lovelies not the most exciting blog post but I am out and about, the hotel made my week! Have a good one!

Pandemic Panic

As I sit in my bed and look at the worst installed cat flap in world I wonder what will next year bring. I might add the cat flap looks like an aircraft window and I am tempted to get a dining chair and sit next to it imagining I am flying somewhere exotic.

How the person who installed it thought a cat could get up there and through the flap is beyond me! It is high up on the window and only a giraffe could reach up and get through!

With the days getting colder and darker along with the bad news about more Covid cases it is difficult to be optimistic. However last week I received an unexpected surprise a modern Christmas Tree from my friend Caro.

I had fun decorating the tree and then unexpectedly my friend Angie suggested we catch up. Angie and I met through Russel who I worked with along with Caro. I love the fact that we met in South Africa but now they are all in the UK is amazing!

I took a days holiday and we explored London. It was fun to go to Harvey Nichols, and Harrods! I took Angie down the old Kings Road where the rich and famous drive their super cars around. I explored my old haunts near the Natural History Museum. i regaled Angie with stories of my time when I first got to London and living in a youth hostel! It was a great day made better by the lack of tourists!

This is Angie and I just hanging!

I topped the day off with going to my regular pub night with Kate and Tim. A special treat was Lucy and Alan joining. Perhaps drinking way too many Margarita’s, gin and wine was not a good way to finish the day but we had fun!

The weekend ended with a spectacular walk with Marian, the best bacon butty and a crisp but dry day in Richmond park. So with the negative press, official working from home and Christmas not being my favorite time I have to ask what will next year hold? I know one thing, I have had a brilliant weekend with wonderful friends and those are the things I cherish.

So my lovelies as we go into the Christmas week stay safe, warm and enjoy those true moments of joy. Love to you and yours!

Hit and Run

I started this blog with the title of mid life romance. But it is not! I was not expecting it but I got an email about two months ago from a work colleague commenting that I looked nice and did I have a date! I laughed and thought nothing of it. However, we ended up going for a drink and started texting each other. I would love to say that I swooned, he romanced and it all went well. It did not! It was not quite what I had imagined and I guess it is not going to be. Even in the middle of a pandemic you can still have a heart flutter!

It did turn my mind to thinking ‘can you find romance or a companion in your fifties?’ Does it happen? Can you have a quick hit and run with someone so different from you. Does the endorphin rush justify the other complicated baggage stuff. Is it worth being vulnerable. Yes! It is all very strange. As I drink red bull at 4am worrying I have Covid I have to contemplate how my life has become so different. The thing about having new people in your life is that it does challenge you!

I may have made a huge mistakes regarding my career but am I glad to have worked at the London Zoo and met Alison and Nikki! Working at the bank also meant I met some new people and now in my new job I get to meet even more interesting people. Do I regret meeting The Man! No, it challenges me and it is interesting meeting and exploring new friendships, even if you do not agree with everything the person says or does! It also means I dress a little better and have to blow dry my hair.

So do I think you can meet someone in your fifties! Abso-f**king-lutely

Have a great day my lovelies!

What a week

Last Saturday was my final visit to Aunty Anne’s flat. I tried not to dwell on it too much. Sunday I was treated to the most awesome outdoors thanksgiving lunch by Kate and Tim.

It was the perfect amount of food and drink. Tim made my all time favourite cocktails – Margaritas! It was going to be a good week. Until it wasn’t, Kate contracted Covid! She was fine but had flu like symptoms and had to self isolate. I had a little panic attack and reality came crashing in even thought we met outside. I booked a PCR test and travelled through horizontal rain, freezing cold and darkness to drag myself to the nearest testing centre. It was so efficient. The next day I got the results I was negative. Yippee!

Then our esteemed prime minister announced Plan B. Another almost lock down. I along with everyone else felt a sense of depression and deja vu! The week did improve in that one of our companies invited me for drinks. It was just their team and what a fabulous night it was.

I am starting to get into the Christmas spirit. Have a great weekend my lovelies!

This week

There is a word in Afrikaans that says hartseer, it means heart sore. That is how I feel. This week we had the funeral. My Aunty Anne passed, she had a good life and was in the twilight of her years but it does not make it much easier. One of pieces of music played was from Out of Africa and it made me think of myself and my cousins running around without shoes playing in the bush.

Funerals are a celebration of a life lived and whilst we mourn the loss it is imperative we remember the life lived. As with all the losses of recent times it is the lives lived, the joys, the milestones, the small gifts of memories we should try and celebrate. Yes there is great sorrow but you would not have that without great love.

So with a little sadness I post this picture of happy times.

Rest in peace Aunty Anne, big hug to Cousin Fred and to all you lovelies have a great weekend!

The Unexpected

I have struggled with this blog as it is difficult to capture in words the sheer joy of this weekend. Getting my makeup done by a 9 year old, dressing up dolls, sharing the love of cheese with a friend, conversations with Benjamin’s friends that probably really wished I would leave! A hug from Craig, long conversations with Caroline and just the generosity of friends.

All these things make life an adventure and can be very unexpected. This is good!

I have known Benjamin since he was a glint in his mother Caroline’s eye. I have seen him as a sleeping baby, grumpy toddler to the transition of a very moody teenager to the amazing caring, smart, very funny adult he is now. Sharing his 21st birthday party was a privilege.

Going to his 21 birthday party was really not a choice!. I was going! The journey was not without its challenges!! I missed my train to the Cotswolds by 6 minutes and was a little nervous going to a party with people I did not know. My fears were unfounded Caroline’s friend Helen and Chris were there like a huge welcome hug. Helen’s husband was a true gentleman and was the first to suggest getting me wine from the bar! Caroline and Craig, have moved from South Africa and I was totally astounded how they have made a new life for themselves and settled in and made amazing friends. The party was great; I got to meet Benjamin’s friends and chat to a variety of interesting Cotswold neighbours.

Later in the evening Caroline said she had been invited to her neighbours 70th and we should go. I was adamant that I did not want to go. I was at one birthday party already! I was persuaded that this would be a good idea! Well… .. for starters the house was huge! They had a fully stocked bar in one of the rooms. The room we ended up in was the very big open area with a live DJ, disco lights, a dance floor and no one dancing! I had a gulp of wine and wondered how long it would take before I could escape. Caroline said ‘lets get this party started’ and and proceeded to go around dragging most of the 70 old men up from their chairs to dance! It was hilarious and totally unexpected and totally fun! I even got into the spirit!

I do think everyone got into the spirit. I asked this guy to dance he must of been in his late 70’s and he said he really could not stand much. I said ‘do not worry I will hold you up’, he loved it. Totally unexpected.

It is really the things we do not do that we regret.

Have a great week my lovelies.

The quiet of the morning

It is in those moments when all is silent, all are asleep that your mind races, how to switch off thinking! What if my mom was still alive, what if I had miraculously got married and had kids, what if……My cousin asked me last week what I would leave behind when I died. My answer, not much! Maybe nothing! Peanuts and wine I later thought. I asked myself does everyone have to leave a lasting legacy? I know I think of my moms chocolate cake, my grandmothers yorkshire puddings, Uncle Harold’s dubious pizza choices and Uncle Tom giving me a lesson on life over a beer with his ‘friends’ who happened to be sex workers!

I ask myself have I been there for friends and family? I like to think so, I am not sure that is leaving anything behind. Uncle Harold left a wing of a hospital, care of the dying was his legacy. My mom left behind her cook books and some great vases! The outpourings of grief having lost someone are, I think, a reflection of how much we loved them. Love is the the thing we carry with us and take us to wherever we may go. So maybe how much I love my friends and family is what I leave.

I spent some time in Teddington Cemetery this week. I loved this headstone!

A bit of a depressing post but also without sadness you do not appreciate happiness.

Have a fabulous week my lovelies!

The Grand Reunion

I have been trying to write this blog all week but we had a Covid outbreak in the office and it has been quite literally mental.

I met Caroline about 26 years ago by the photocopier at a temp assignment, Caro was not a happy camper, so I invited her for a drink. The rest is history! I met her sister Rebecca who I sometimes call princess. Russ I worked with and then Angie who was living with Rebecca they met and have been happily married. The rest of the reunion team included Helen and Chris, Rebecca’s friends, various other half’s and kids! We all lived in Johannesburg and the stories I could tell. We have all gone through so much in the 26 years, changing countries, getting married, having kids, losing loved ones but through it all have stayed in touch. You will realise the only thing I did in the last sentence was move countries!

The reunion date and plans were set and then they were not! There were scheduling conflicts and travel considerations. It was agreed we would have a light supper at Rebecca’s on Friday, the big BBQ Saturday, and tea on Sunday at Rebecca’s. Caroline became our project manager!

I had a plan of travelling leisurely on the train (with my mask) to Cheltenham a lovely light lunch and then relaxing afternoon at the hotel. My plan seemed simple then it wasn’t. The train station was not even in the town centre. I spent considerable time asking strangers for directions. Cheltenham has very beautiful shops and very beautiful people. It also had interesting sculptures.

I could not find anywhere for a light lunch, so I gave up and decided to find a taxi rank and spend the afternoon relaxing in my hotel. After an hour of wandering around lost I gave up and went to the pub. It was a Wetherspoons and did not have the beautiful people in it. It did have an interesting couple with two large red bulls and about eight shots of vodka in front them. I did finally get to my hotel and in true Tracy fashion could not work my key card to open the door of my room and had to get staff to help.

The dinner at Rebecca’s was not a light supper! It was soup, blini’s with caviar, seafood, lamb and by then I had given up although there was cake and I believe there was also Pavlova. We all had a catch-up and I got to see Sam and Alexander, Rebecca’s sons along with Ben and Elizabeth Caroline’s kids.

Saturday I got to have breakfast with Angie and Russ whose plans didnt go according to plan either and they missed the dinner as they had to leave London late and got stuck in roadworks making their trip over four hours. Between breakfast and the BBQ we went back to the hotel where I promptly forgot my room number and tried to break into the wrong room. The BBQ was a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable affair along with the dogs. One of which was very sensitive and you did not want to look at the wrong way. The other two were cute along with this one, Fiffo who has the most adorable face.

We were all very fascinated by two large pigeons that seem to have taken residence in Caroline’s garden. It was a good day with amazing friends and with excellent food by Craig. We were even surprised by Craigs homemade Boerewors which was better than in South Africa or anything I can buy here.

This is Caroline and I messing around, we really should have taken more photographs!

Bring on the weekend have a great rest of the week my lovelies!

Beds and Beyond

A couple of weeks ago I decided that over 15 years of sleeping on the same mattress it was time for a change. A change is as good as a holiday they say and well I need a holiday!

Whilst trying to take my old bed apart and cursing the screws for not cooperating I realised that the bed was put together with the help of Cousin Fred. The bed was the first bit of furniture I ever bought. I loved it. I shared a lovely flat in Ealing with Fred and he gave me the best bedroom. Taking apart the bed myself was not optimal and I had a bit of a pity party. I rallied though and managed to get the bits of the bed frame and the mattress into the living room.

I am grateful for my neighbours in helping me getting the bits down stairs for collection and making sure I did not kill myself in the process.

My new bed and mattress was ordered from Ikea, very reasonably priced. It also has storage underneath it. The bed arrived in lots of bits on the Sunday and I had a fitful sleep on the sofa that night. I was delighted when my very own task rabbit (A DIY person) arrived on Monday to put it together.

This is it before I did any decoration on it.

I am delighted to say the storage is great and whilst I am a little short and the bed is higher than the last I am enjoying good nights sleep on it.

Next I am going to look at getting a kitten or if the responsibility is too much possibly a goldfish.

This is the view from my window. Have a great week my lovelies.

Mean Meals

I hate spending money and do not really have that much available cash. However, I subscribed to a meal box and it arrived yesterday. I cannot explain the joy of finding a box on my doorstep. I, in true Tracy fashion, did not even register what food I was going to get.

I opened a nice bottle of wine and went through the box. Fragrant Chicken Laksa, Beef Enchiladas and Creamy Chorizo and sweetcorn pasta! I tried the pasta last night and it was fantastic even with my ham handed cooking skills.

The servings are very generous and enough for three meals which justifies the cost. Work is still pretty quiet and I think everyone is feeling a little down. It was quite exciting to be in the kitchen cooking again.

Tonight I am going to make the Chicken Laksa.

A short blog this week have a great week my lovelies! When life throws you a rainy day play in the puddles.