Friday, 20 April 2012

Making memories

 The sky is ominously dark and the rain is teeming down as I sit and type this. I also have to go to work today. This time a week ago the sun was shining and I was setting off with my friends for a work/life/baby free weekend in London. Chloe, Lynne, Suzanne & I organised the weekend to celebrate our 30th birthdays and we had a fabulous time.  

Lots of lovely food was eaten, we drank, walked, saw a show and some London sights, shopped and spent way too much money in the process!  

More importantly we talked, laughed and reminisced, all the while making more memories to remember in the next 30 years...



We walked along the Southbank, taking in the view across the river Thames, past The Tate, Globe Theatre, Southwark Cathedral and ended up at Borough Market.



Coffee at The Oxo Gallery

St Paul's Cathedral


Tate Modern


Just before it rained

The view from Waterloo Bridge - the best view from any bridge in London we are reliably informed (Thanks Ian W)



 The Globe Theatre



Southwark Cathedral 

The Shard








 Macaroons!

Saturday afternoon we went to see Wicked the musical which was excellent...



Then on Saturday evening we ate at Level 7 Restaurant at The Tate.  Very lucky to have  a window table right opposite St Paul's with stunning views down The Thames as the sun went down...







Butternut Squash & Stinking Bishop tart...




On Sunday, we wandered across Waterloo bridge to Covent Garden...




We went for a coffee in Neal's Yard, checking out the wonderful remedy shop and the wonky mirror!...




So Ladies, thank you for a lovely weekend and for the memories xxx



For Good (From Wicked)

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me 
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring 
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood


Like a ship blown from its mooring 
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

Who can say if I've been 
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good. 
  

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Treowen

Every couple of years a small village in South Wales where my grandparents live doubles in population as our whole family descend for the weekend.  We travel from all over the country to spend the weekend together.  For the last 12 years we have been staying in the local big house on the hill - Treowen - and it's become a family tradition that we all look forward to.  


Treowen

There are a lot of us these days... my grandparents, my mum and her three sisters, 10 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren plus our other halves. We are almost beginning to outgrow the house that holds very special and fond memories for us all.  At the last family get together I was heavily pregnant and had Ella two weeks later.  She was introduced to all the family she had not met yet and enjoyed having everyone around. 

Below are some of the photo's ....mostly taken by my brother Tom as my camera died :-(... (Thanks for letting me use it too xx).  I will update this post as I acquire more pictures of everyone from the weekend....

G & G

Granny & Hannah


Aunty Vicki x


There was an Easter chick hunt....the 30 or so unique chicks were knitted by my mum and each held a creme egg.  They were all given names by my cousin Issi as they were hidden...






She's a real daddy's girl at the moment


My brothers...The big kids

The finished article

Ella still loves her books

We always have a pinata - this years, a crocodile. Don't forget to scream!...

Henry & his girlfriend Issi

Ella & Grandpa Chris

Off to be made into chicken nuggets...
Tom, Vicki, Issi & Joe

Elliott

Tom, Ella & Henry

All the great-grandchildren - Edward, Arthur, Isaac, Elliott & Ella

Everybody!


Although we continue to grow in size we hope we can keep returning to Treowen for many years to come. The newest member of the family is due to make an appearance in the next few weeks... Good luck to Rachel & Tom!


Happy belated Easter everyone xx

Monday, 26 March 2012

Celebrating differences

International Down's syndrome awareness week has just finished.  This year is extra special as 2012 is the first year it has been officially recognised by the United Nations.  The world over there have been parties, community gatherings and fundraising events -all celebrating the babies, children, teenagers and adults with Down's Syndrome.  

March 21st (21/3) is chosen as the actual day of awareness to represent the 3 copies of chromosome 21 that is unique in people with Down's Syndrome.   


The following video is a photo montage that was put together for the week of celebrations.  Look carefully and you might spot Ella...


But lets not forget, it's not so long ago that a diagnosis of Down's syndrome or other disability meant a lifetime of social and physical neglect, banishment to institutions, exclusion and discrimination. 

Slowly, the world has begun to change but there is still a long way to go.
   
I think this generation will be different.  Children these days are exposed to others with special needs and disabilities from a much younger age, inclusion is thankfully now the norm.  Look at Ella - she has mixed with her peers from 9 months of age when she started a mainstream nursery.  She has thrived because of it and the nursery has embraced her and her needs just as they do with every child they care for. My hope is that Ella will remain in mainstream education so long as it remains the right place for her to be.  My expectations for Ella are high, as they would be for any child. 



I first met my wonderful friend Suzanne as we started secondary school aged 11.  Her physical disability - arthrogryposis - meant that her parents had had to fight hard to enable her to attend mainstream school even though she is one of the brightest people I know.  And this was during the last 20 years.  Suzanne has taught me a lot about living a life that has daily challenges and has shown me that anything is possible, especially when you have supportive family and friends around you.  I think knowing her has had a profound and positive effect on the way I dealt with finding out that Ella has Down's Syndrome.

Suzanne is now a much loved primary school teacher.  The 4 year olds who pass through her classroom each year learn so much about people who are, for whatever reason, 'different' even if they don't realise it.  They don't see Suzanne's disability, they just see Miss Cocks and that's the wonderful thing about children. It's also the wonderful thing about Miss Cocks!  

The following is a poem written by Suzanne and used with her permission...

“The Way I See It” by Suzanne Cocks
My life is colourful in so many ways
My external happiness everlasting
But as I sit alone, I ask myself
Who am I?  What am I?
A person alone – thinking, forever wondering ‘What if?’
Content with life, but unsure of the message life portrayed in my creation
Why am I different, or is it that others are different from me?
If only there were answers to my many questions!
But no – my life won’t change, I can only change how I look at life
My mind and body are as one just like yours – aren’t they?
The feelings of loneliness and insecurity are freed by the people physically opposite to myself who make my world ‘normal’
I hear you ask – what is normal?
But to me, normality is what others have and share with me through life’s experiences
Some may see this as denial – a failure to recognise the reality of who I am
I just see it as a way to go forward with my life.
As the years have moved on I have struggled to understand how and why my feelings have altered so much
Protected as a child from people who could damage my emotions – their hidden ignorance I failed to see
As my youth and innocence have disappeared I feel I should now have more control of my feelings and emotions and identify my role in life
I never dreamt these feelings would become more negative.
Instead of dealing with my differences I often try and hide them deep down in my thoughts
But events from day to day forever arouse them to my conscious mind
I am different – I often feel labelled – I am disabled.
I, like you, have an inner body which feels strong but is trapped in a world that is unique to me
In my world I see what you see, feel what you feel but cannot do all the things that you do
I do not wish that I had been created any differently but you have to accept the way I choose to deal with life as it is
I believe I am a better person for the experiences I have endured and am grateful for the opportunity to appreciate life from my point of view
I really hope that the ‘normal’ people I know live life to the full and accept how lucky they are!
They should not waste their time mocking ‘different’ people.
The power-staring eyes I have felt on me have at times been very painful.  Time helps you cope with this situation and makes you realise that, in a positive light, one can teach young eyes that it is okay to be different, thus hopefully improving the outlook and opinions of the younger generation.
As for the older eyes – well…. I’m just sorry their lives have existed in such ignorance – they don’t know what they have missed!
I have not just written this to help me personally but in the hope that people can try and see how my mind works
It may not be the same as the next ‘different’ person sees it but is unique to me
Who knows what the future will bring – all I know is that I am dealing with life one day at a time and at present could not be happier!
The following words from a prayer have inspired me to get on with life:-
‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’
One day I hope to match up to these words and be forever happy!!!


   Suz and tiny Ella!
Thank you Suzanne x x  

And...
....a big, massive, huge thank you to my brother Tom who ran the Lisbon half marathon this weekend in aid of Ronald Macdonald House Charities.  £480 raised so far and well done to your knee for doing it, even though the last 5 miles were hard.  And thank you also to Graunty Ruthie and her colleagues for the £52.70 from the cake sale.


Quick update:
Ella is now crawling (but only backwards and not very far!).  She's really chatty and clapping, waving and pointing lots!





Looking forward to a weekend in Wales with my family next weekend.  Sure there will be pics and stories to tell next week....





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