Sunday 28 February 2010

My Family

Today I went to Nottingham for my brother Russell's birthday lunch. That's birthday boy sitting next to me on the right hand side of the picture. In the middle is our Mum, then my other brother Frazer, and on the left is Russell's partner, Sarah.

We had a lovely lunch, and as usual when we get together a fair bit of laughter. My Mum (bless her) is getting a tiny bit forgetful as she ages (gracefully), and the rest of us? Well, we're just a little bit mental! Sarah is quite normal - but that's because she's not a blood relation.

Grand Day out

Yesterday I went on an adventure to Cambridge. I've never been so I though I would (go, I mean). Anyway it rained - a lot - but I had a lovely time. I had a very nice lunch (homemade soup followed by seared scallops..yum yum) and then went to look at some college buildings and the like (what else would you do in Cambridge?)

I was also made to climb a bell tower in a nice church, (short of breath dear?), listened to a choir rehearsing (brought tears to my eyes), and explored a church for all its beautiful stonework. I was given a guide book to Gozo!

All in all, a Grand Day Out x

Look what's out there!

How bizarre is this?

I'm not a prude but puleeeeeeeeez! Shouldn't grannies be baking or knitting or something? Quelle horreur!

Friday 26 February 2010

Jon Allen

I first found this song in March of last year. I have just listened to it again, and still like it as much as ever. I don't think he ever released the song properly (I can't find hide nor hair of it on t'internet) but I still love it as much as I did last year. Let me know what you think.......

Missing.....can you help?

Last seen in Oxfordshire on 6th January feeding chickens. Woman, aged 46, (looks younger) answers to name of Princess Shiny Diamond, or Wanda. Short (5'2") slim build, blonde hair. Happy, funny, cheerful, kind, loving and sunny natured (most of the time). Often seen with small naughty white dog. A bit nutty, but all there on the inside. If you see her you'll recognise her because she'll be making some noise of one kind or another. May be confused and disorientated - approach with caution. Likes food and wine, (and gin)  friends, family, flowers, poetry, words, animals, chatting about the meaning of life, and old black and white movies. Has been known to play the piano (badly) and sing (even more badly). Good at ironing, cleaning...and listening, and being kind and understanding. Reasonably good at cooking. Often seen with telephone handset stuck to side of face. May be driving big black truck and eating Yorkie bars. She may possibly be spotted exhibiting trolley rage tantrums in Tesco, or  alternatively doing very poor impressions of Douglas Bader at the local gymnasium. Could be in the vicinity of water wearing some kind of strange waterproof clothing and breathing apparatus.

If you see her, can you tell her I'm waiting for her to come home?

Thursday 25 February 2010

Family and friends

I've been thinking (can you smell burning?). A lot. Probably too much in fact. It's my brother's birthday tomorrow. He's going to be ** years old. He's a bit upset by this as it's a milestone, and he's not really ready for it because like most of us he is still only thirteen inside. I love my brother - actually I love both my brothers...I've known them a long time! Family matters to me. I have many many friends whom I love - and so many of them have been incredibly supportive over the last few weeks (you know who you are)....and I count my dearest friends as part of my family anyway.

Anyway - what I was thinking is that I am extremely blessed and lucky to be surrounded by so many people who love me and who care for me. People who will take the time to listen to me, just listen.....simply listen and offer comfort, and advice. I have needed these listening ears over the last few weeks, and not one of my family or friends has let me down. Not one.

It makes me really just how lucky I am :) .....and I hope that I am as good a friend to them as they've been to me.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

I love my friends

One of my dearest friends sent me a link to this song today. She said it should be  my new mantra. I mailed her back to tell her that the song made me cry. She replied 'Don't cry. It's a new road. Go to Gozo, start your life, bigger and better.'

I love you C of L.

Late Valentine

I have just been to the ex-office to collect a few personal belongings. There was some post for me - including a Valentine Card. Obviously it was anonymous, and had been posted in London on the 11th January. I was puzzled and somewhat pleased! Somebody, somewhere loves me.

Wonderful Music

Last night I was driving home from Surrey after a lovely dinner with my beautiful daughter and the family. I was listening to radio 2 (soooo old!) and Peter Gabriel was being interviewed. He has recently recorded this song which was originally written by Lou Reed (musical maestro) for his beloved wife. When you hear it you know instantly that it is a Lou Reed piece. Listen to it and let me know what you think........

Sunday 21 February 2010

What have you done today? (Part 2)

Today I have achieved something. Something very important to me, and it felt AMAZING! Today I took my 'Rescue Diver' practical exam...which was a full blown 'rescue scenario'.

It was cold up at Stoney, very cold indeed. When I set off at 5.30am there were 3 inches of snow on the ground and the roads were like a skating rink. It took me 2 hours to drive the 47 mile journey. I should have known then that today wasn't go to go well!

After a 30 minute briefing I had to don my gear (including my brand-new 'worn once only' dry suit) and go down to the water's edge where we were 'pretending' to have a natter about nothing in particular...(that part of the scenario was dead easy for me!).....just then a diver came running up and said that he'd lost his buddy (careless) and from that moment on it was my baby, and I was completely in charge. (no pressure).

I had to ask him where he'd last seen him, how deep they were, how long they'd been in the water, how much compressed air was left in his tank, and what condition his buddy had been in the last time he'd seen him. I then had to instruct a bystander to clear the road, alert the emergency services, fetch a first aid kit, defibrillator, emergency O2 supplies, and blankets, and to alert  the emergency boat crew.

Then I was in charge of formulating a rescue search. I decided to search a 40m square - searched in a 'mow the lawn' pattern at two depths - 10m and 20m. For this I needed two buddy pairs, so there was me and A.N.Other, and another couple of divers who were standing around. We had to quickly get our gear on and enter the water. After about 5 minutes I located the casualty. He was laying face down on the bottom at a depth of 15 metres, looking pretty lifeless(!). I had to dive down to him and check his responsiveness. He didn't respond (you don't say).

Then I had to bring him to the surface - using a special hold, keeping his airway straight, and slowly inflating his BCD as we rose. By now my adrenalin level was sky high and I was running on rocket fuel. Not good! Not good at all.

Once at the surface I had to remove his mask and regulator and administer 'mouth to mouth' whilst swimming and towing him back to shore. When we got to the jetty I had to remove his BCD. My gloves were problematic so I removed them with my teeth. That was a huge error as the water temperature was about 2 degrees, so straight away my fingers were really really cold (what?....really really?...Yes Really Really). It took ages to remove his BCD, only using one hand as the other was  holding his chin, and I was still giving rescue breaths every five seconds. Once his BCD was off and clear I had to remove mine (using one verrrry cold hand only).

By now a crowd of divers had gathered and I had an audience. Apparently the rescue diver course is one of the hardest Padi courses and very few people take it - so it always draws a crowd (I love a crowd....not).

Next I had to get him out of the water. Him - 14 stone...Me - 7.5 was a struggle,(massive understatement) but I managed it somehow.....once on dry land I laid him out and administered CPR and rescue breathing. My insructor then told me I had to shock his I did....'CLEAR'.....and in the fictitious world we were living in his heart started to beat again.

At that point my instructor told me I had passed and about thirty people all started clapping and cheering. It was fab! Nice people these divers.

After a de-robe, debrief, cup of coffee and bacon sandwich I went up to the dive shop to buy some new thinner gloves. About 150 people had gathered in the dive shop. My instructor presented me with my badge and certifcate. He said he'd never had a braver, more feisty, more determined or smaller student! He said he'd never seen a 7.5 stone woman rescue a 14 stone diver before, and he hadn't thought that I would manage it. Apparently the instructors (some of whom has taught me before) had been running a small book as to my success or otherwise! Cheek! Every one in the shop was clapping and cheering and then (like the total numpty I am) I promptly burst into tears. I was very proud and extremely pleased.

I think I cried because ...

a) It had been a mammoth task (if I had known how hard it was I never would have chosen to do it)

b) the pressure to get it right had been 'life and death'...and finally...

c) the one person I would have liked to have been there with me to share the moment was a figurative thousand miles away.

Saturday 20 February 2010

What have you done today?

I'm off to bed in a minute. I'm knackered and my wee little body feels like it's been five rounds with Mike Tyson. But before I go off to the land of la-la I thought I'd tell you what I've done.

1.   Rescued a distressed diver with an extremity injury from 20m underwater.
2.   Assisted a diver who had run out of air 30m below the surface.
3.   Rescued an injured diver from the surface, brought him to shore and administered first aid (saved his life!)
4.   Stopped an arterial bleed (would have died without my assistance!)
5.   Rescued a distressed and panicked diver from the water surface. Brought him to the shore.
6.   Searched for and rescued an unconscious diver from 20m depth. Brought him to the surface, administered rescue breathing (in the water) brought him to the shore, dragged him out. Administered CPR, and finally de-fibrillated him to get his little ticker ticking again.

All of this was done in water with a temperature of 4 degrees centigrade, and air temperature of 3 degrees C.
So forgive me if I'm a bit knackered. I've got to do it all again tomorrow - but this time in exam conditions. If I pass it will be cause for massive celebration. ....And, in future, you had better be nice to me - because I might just have to save your life one day!!!

Friday 19 February 2010


This week I heard that exercise is good for your overall mood. Seeing as I pay a gym membership, and never (ahem) use it...I thought I should. So I have trotted along to Banatynes every day this week. I have run, swam, been on the cross trainer (horrid) exercise bike, sunbed, and then today went for a swim, steam, sauna and jacuzzi. I have to say that compared to a lot of the clients I don't look too bad for a girl of my age in gym gear or a swimsuit...but today I was in the steam room when 2 very FIT guys came in (wearing teeny weeny trunks).  Cue me trying to fluff up my damp hair, and pull in my tummy muscles. It's not easy to look alluring when you're all sweaty, hormonal and forty six. But I gave it a very good go. You would have been proud of me. They were foreign (or at least they were speaking a different language). I bet they were saying something about mutton!!!

As a result of all this exercise I can hardly straighten up and my gait is somewhat reminiscent of Douglas Bader. Try to look alluring now lady :)

Monty Python

I'm in bed having an early night. I have to be up at dawn's crack tomorrow to do the drive up to Leicestershire for weekend 2 of the diving training. Tomorrow is pool work and Sunday is in the big freezing pond. If I don't come back alive I want you to know that I love you all x

PS - Can you play "Always look on the bright side of life" at my wake if necessary? Thanks xx :)

Thursday 18 February 2010

Anger v Love

Taking responsibility for your actions can be a difficult thing sometimes. We all do things that we wish we hadn't, we all make mistakes; in the bible it says 'let those amongst us without sin cast the first stone'. It is these failings that make us human. When we are small children we cast blame and push our anger outwards. 'It wasn't me, she did it....' All of us who are parents have heard that one so many times. (All of us who were children have said it at some point too - no doubt!).

When we become adults the mature and responsible thing to do is to look inward, and examine what we have done to possibly contribute to a situation. Accepting responsibility is about looking at ourselves and asking what we did to create a situation, and asking perhaps what we could have done differently to create a better outcome. It's not about beating yourself up, but perhaps about learning from the mistake so we can do better next time.

There is no point wearing sack-cloth and ashes, just accept what's happened, apologise if necessary, and learn from it. Harbouring anger is damaging, being angry is not good for you as a person and if you insist on pointing the finger of blame...remember....there will be three or four more fingers pointing right back at you.

When you feel angry at someone, it may be an idea to examine that anger and try to understand what it's really about. Are you really that angry at the other person - or is some of that anger possibly about yourself? Is it part of a grieving process? Staying silent within yourself and harbouring that anger inside will damage you.

I firmly believe that there are very few 'bad' people on our planet. Most of us are damaged in some way from our childhood, and we are left with issues and behaviour patterns that reflect that. Anger is mainly about fear, fear of loss. Once we recognise that and deal with it - our anger can be overcome.

Being human means feeling a whole myriad of emotions. There are always highs, and as sure as eggs are eggs, there are going to be some lows. Life wouldn't be life without the diversity. Being mature is about celebrating the highs, and dealing appropriately with the lows....and learning something from every situation.

So, take your anger, examine it, explore it - be honest and determine what it's really about. Then deal with those things yourself. Don't act in a spiteful way (not because it won't make you feel better - but because that feeling will eventually be replaced by shame, and surely you are a better person than to act like a small child in a playground?). Don't busy yourself trying to create situations to inconvenience or damage another person. Spend your time more wisely. If you are tempted to do something bad, think about how it would feel if that act were visited upon you. Try to forgive the others involved. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Giving forgiveness is very healing for yourself.

So, forgive yourself, forgive others, lose the anger (because it can ONLY be damaging to everybody), look inward, take responsibility, and learn from what's happened. Spiteful and mean acts, and not being respectful will only ever hurt the person who does those things. It never reaches the intended victim...not really, and why would you want it to anyway? Surely you're a better person that to want to hurt or damage somebody else? If someone has wronged you, love them for it - because that confirms that they are a human being, and the great thing about that is - that means they are just the same as you. Reason enough to send love their way?

Love yourself, and love thy neighbour. That has to be the way forward? Surely?

Here endeth the lesson x

(Love, love, love)

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Lost details

Yesterday somebody deleted my e mail account and left me a bit high and dry......lots of lost information. Today somebody has hacked into my blackberry and deleted my phone book. Ahem!!! I have lost phone numbers that have been collected over the years and some which can never be replaced. I have also lost the phone numbers of all my dear friends in Surrey and Sheffield. So I have no e mail addresses and no phone numbers. Isolated? I'll say!!!

If you have my mobile number - please text me with your name and number so I can put you back in my contacts. x

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Pancake Day

Eggs, flour, milk, water.....pancake batter. I watched my Mum make this for years and years - every sunday morning (it's the same mix as Yorkshire puddings). My housemate - who is very nice - asked me if I could tell  her how to make the batter - and I couldn't....because it's one of those things that you just know how to do by sight. I have no idea how much flour I use, or milk, or water, or how many eggs. So I willingly volunteered to make a big bowl of mixture.

We had them with stewed apple and double cream (the calories!) and then I had one with orange juice and sugar, and another with Lyle's Golden Syrup. Eating them reminded me of my Paternal Grandmother because we were always at her house for tea as kids on a Tuesday and she would make them for us. I have to say that they were really very nice indeed!

By the way - the secret of good pancakes is  in getting the oil in your pan extrememly hot before you put the batter in! Pancakes and Yorkshire puddings are two things that I don't need Delia's help with!

Monday 15 February 2010

All prayers gratefully received!

Rightio - we're busily thinking up ways to make an honest living. I can think of hundreds of ways to make a dishonest living.......(no shit, Sherlock) .....but I really would like to stay on the right side of the law. If you trawl the internet there is so much stuff on there it will make your head spin (mine is going round faster than Regan McNeil's)*.

I'm in a bit of a transition (dilemma) state at the moment. I don't really want or need to stay here in Banbury any longer. Paying for a room in a shared house is not ideal (seeing as I have my own house in Sheffield). I have spoken to my friend Julian in Gozo, and I can go over there for three months and do a Divemaster Internship at his dive school. It's free and I would only have to pay 50 euros a week for a room, and a bit for food (which is apparently tres cheapio), so that would be better than £500 per month that I'm paying here for a room. ......see? economics are so important! I would be trained up to Assistant Instructor level for free and if I did  that here in the UK it would cost a couple of grand. So that's an option! BUT, am I too old to go gallivanting off to Gozo for the summer season working in a dive school? (don't answer that unless it's to say an absolute NO)

I also have a sniff of a job up in Sheffield, where I would be amongst my friends again, but the salary wouldn't quite cover my living expenses, so I would have to take in a lodger, and quite frankly my dear I don't think that's something I could cope with!!!

I have another option which is to go back to Surrey, but that's only temporary, and there's no job involved so in a few months I would be potless (again) and that's not good.

I had thought I was settled this time - but my Guardian Angels obviously figured that wasn't right for me, so it's more upheaval and change coming my way. Friends say I should write a book about the ridiculous farce that has been my life, but nobody would ever believe it was a true story! regular readers, answers on a postcard please.....and while you're about it - could you offer up a wee prayer to the Gods that I might get it right next time? Thanks x........because right now I need all the help I can get!

* If you don't know who she is I suggest you look her up on Google

Sunday 14 February 2010

Fab Weekend

I have had a fab weekend. On Friday lunchtme I drove to Sheffield to assist with the final clearing out of my Gran's house. Sadly she died about two years ago, and my Mum and her siblings have just managed to sell her house. We discovered all kinds of things lurking in wardrobes and cupboards.....not least the lovely blonde mink coat I'm wearing in this picture. I also bagged a black astrakan coat with white mink collar and cuffs - and before anybody makes any anti-fur comments (I know, I know) I have to tell you that both these garments are older than me - so the animals in question are well past reviving. I shall wear these coats with love for my Nana.

The gentleman in the picture is my lovely uncle Anthony, who is my Godfather. He's the funniest man I know and had us all in stitches the whole day. We had such a laugh, and the, once the house was cleared we all had a wee bevvy and drank a toast to the divine Diva that Rosina was. Gone, but NEVER forgotten :)

On Saturday morning I was up at dawn's crack to drive to Stoney Cove to embark on the first stage of my plans to bcome a diving instructor. Emergency First Response - which involved pseudo-snogging a half-man mannequin (he had no legs) I nearly brought him home as my Valentine - but just managed to stop myself ! Anyway I passed those exams with a 100% score, so am now fully qualified to save lives! Mind you, I shall be picky.

Last night I went to Jacqui's for a lovely curry with her and Melvyn, loads more laughing, and quite a bit of wine. I love Jacqui - she's brill.

Then another 5.30am start today for day one of a three day 'Rescue Diver' course. Today was all theory - so I still haven't braved the very very very very cold water at Stoney Cove, but I did pass all my exams with a very respectable score of 91%. I then took another short course which enables me to administer oxygen (to anybody that may need it!!).

Next weekend I have to do 5 scenario dives, the hardest one will be rescuing an apparently non-breathing body from the bottom, bringing him to the surface, administering mouth to mouth, dragging him to the shore, and then lifting him out of the water. Once on dry land I have to cut open his drysuit, assess him (nearly heart beat...not breathing) and then de-fibrillate (CLEAR) and give him mouth to mouth. I met my guinea pig today and am concerned because he's 6'3" tall and weighs 16 stone. Apparently there's a technique which I can apply  to get him out of the water - but it had better be good because I weigh seven and a half stone and have less strength than a pipe-cleaner. Ho hum!

I'll let you know how I get on x

Friday 12 February 2010

It's raining

Oh fucking hell!! It never rains but it bloody well pours. Just when you think your life is in the toilet, along comes some twat and pulls the bleeding flush!!! This week has got to count amongst one of the worse weeks of my meagre existence so far. Heartache, decisions, disappointments, arguments, bitterness and tears. All in shedloads. I wouldn't want you to think I'm feeling sorry for myself (HA!) but I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself!!!

So today I'm going to do something constructive. I'm heading up north to help my Mum and her siblings clear out my Gran's house which has just been sold. I think the physical work will do me good!

There is a light at the end of the tunnel....honestly....but some bastard has knicked the bulb x

Sunday 7 February 2010

My Path

Life is presenting the odd challenge at the moment - for instance - this afternoon I went out on a date. I tootled along to Chipping Norton (home of Jeremy Clarkson - did I see him pottering about the small twee town centre?....Nah) to meet some random guy for coffee. Needless to say it didn't go well. Those of you who know me, will know that I can chatter and natter for England (and would probably win at least silver or bronze were it an olympic sport) but with this guy today I couldn't get a bloody word in. He was so horrifically dull. Had there been a pencil available I would have stabbed it in my eye. After an hour I wanted to scream at him. No bloody wonder he's single. Now, you could say the same about me.....

Seriously, it was laughable. This weekend has taken on a kind of unreal quality about it - I feel a bit like Alice must have felt when she 'landed' in Wonderland.

I would seriously like to leave limbo land now and get my life back onto some kind of track. Life is likened to a journey - but I have totally mislaid the map, and the bloody satnav has well and truly packed in.

Patience, Tracy dear, patience....eventually your path will be revealed to you.

(Note from me....."Could it hurry up please?")

Thursday 4 February 2010

Names have not been changed to protect the innocent....

Please find below a transcript of a brief e mail conversation. I'm not sure these dating websites are all they're cracked up to be.

His e mail..............

Dear Tracy

My name is Raj. You may recall that we met at Banbury shopping centre for a coffee (by the way I paid for it) on last Saturday. When we left, you told me that you would like to meet again.

I have not heard from you since and I assume that you do not like to see me again. That is fine and it is your choice. But it is common courtesy to say so for several reasons.

You did indicate at the time of leaving that you would like to see me again. You are certainly entitled to change your mind. You told me that as a true Yorkshire woman you tell it as it is.

Lastly I did a round trip of 90 minutes to meet you and I treated with you respect.

Best wishes

My reply.......

Thankyou for your e mail. I am sorry that you're upset because I haven't been in touch - but it's only been two days and I have been rather busy.
I appreciate the fact that you drove some distance to come and meet with me, however, that was your choice, and I also sense that you feel slightly aggrieved that you bought one cup of coffee for me. If you would care to let me know how much it cost, and your address I will pop some money in the post to cover your outlay.
I have made a decision regarding our meeting - especially since reading your e mail - and that is that although I enjoyed our meeting, I don't want to see you again.
I wish you well in your search for a companion.

Best wishes

Tracy Wood

Beautiful New life