Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday Snippets - 28th November 2015

The past week has been pretty hard going, as we’re all still getting our head around losing my Gran. The house feels very quiet without her. We used to have carers coming in four times a day, along with various nurses and the GP, so it feels very strange to suddenly have none of that. We’ve been trying to focus on arranging her funeral, which is now booked for the 7th December. It would have been her 92nd birthday on the 5th, and with Christmas coming up as well it’s just hard to feel motivated to do happy things. But I’m just trying to get through one day at a time and making sure we all spend family time together.

Last Sunday a friend I met on the pain management course offered to take me out for lunch. If I’m totally honest I was really tempted to cancel, as I’m finding just getting out of the house quite a challenge at the moment. But I pushed myself to do it and it turned out to be a good distraction. We had a good chat and enjoyed a Costa (I had their mulled hot fruit drink and a blueberry muffin if you’re wondering) and then had a little look round a great shop called Outfit, while we waited for our lift. I found this gorgeous coat in Miss Selfridge, which was an amazing half price, but sadly they didn’t have my size.

On Monday I somehow managed to drag myself into Uni, as I knew we were having a preparation lesson for when we go to the Crown Court next week. It was hard work trying to carry on as normal and be sociable, but I know I need to keep pushing myself to do it. My Dad met me at lunchtime and offered to take me out to try and take my mind off things. We found a lovely little cafĂ© in the Lion and Lamb yard, Farnham, called Candy Twist. I had the most amazing soya hot chocolate (with cream, marshmallows and a flake – oops!) and a croissant with Brie and cranberry – very Christmassy. There are so many cute little places to eat in Farnham – I’m looking forward to trying out more of them over the next few years.

Tuesday was relatively quiet, although I had an appointment with my Urology nurse to have my catheter changed, and had an ECG at the doctor’s surgery in the afternoon. But these beautiful flowers arriving in the post, sent by my lovely friend Leanne, brightened my day up. Our house really looks like a florist at the moment, which is nice because my Gran loved flowers.

My Wednesday was fairly busy – a lady came to see me in the morning to do some training with me for the computer equipment I was given through my DSA. I was pretty shattered after doing that all morning, so was pleased to then go and see my friend, Katy, for a relaxing massage. My Mum and I popped into Waitrose on the way home, and she treated me to these adorable Christmas cupcakes (I didn’t eat them both at the same time!) The snowman is a vanilla sponge with coconut icing and the reindeer is a chocolate sponge with salted caramel icing – yummy! They also do a Christmas tree, which is a red velvet sponge, and a Christmas pudding, which I think is a chocolate sponge.

On Thursday I decided to go into Uni for a bit in the morning, but I felt so exhausted that I couldn’t really concentrate. I had to leave mid-morning, as I had an emergency appointment with my mental health care co-ordinator. My mental health has really deteriorated recently, so I’m working with them to try and keep me out of hospital. We had a good chat, and are going to see each other weekly to try and keep me as stable as possible. I was pretty drained after our meeting, so it was nice to come home to find my membership for EDS UK has been renewed. I snuggled on the sofa with a fruity tea and some Percy Pigs.

Friday morning my Dad took me over to the hospital for another session of my pain management course. Unfortunately, there had been a bit of a mix up and neither of the facilitators were there, so myself and the other group members sat and chatted for quite a while until the psychologist arrived. I had decided not to go into university in the afternoon, so my Dad just brought me home after the pain course. I spent the afternoon writing a feature article for a Uni assessment, so I think I made good use of my time. I then chilled out a bit and flicked through some of these Christmas catalogues to try and get myself feeling a little bit Christmassy.

Yesterday I ended up sleeping in until quite late, which definitely wasn’t planned but I obviously needed it. I had a quiet morning; then in the afternoon my Mum took me to the Christmas Market in our town. The weather forecast was meant to be terrible – torrential rain and strong winds, but luckily the rain held off and although it was pretty windy, it didn’t ruin the event. I wrapped myself up in a warm coat, mittens, scarf and gloves and listened to my Mum sing some carols in the choir. The Christmas lights were switched on, and Mum pushed me round some of the stalls to see what was on offer. It’s always such a nice community atmosphere there, and although I still feel very sad, it was nice to see people getting excited about Christmas.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called Unicorns and Floral Crowns and you can find it by clicking here. I haven’t updated it for a while, but I hope to get into a routine soon. I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Goodbye Gran

On a Sunday I usually post my Sunday Snippets – photos of things that have happened throughout my week. But this week things are a bit different, and I’ve decided I don’t feel comfortable carrying on and posting as if nothing has happened. On Wednesday morning I went along to my Gran’s room (she’s lived with us for four and a half years) to wake her up for breakfast. As soon as my Dad and I opened the door we knew something was wrong. I’m not going to go into massive detail because it’s still very raw and there are some things that just don’t need to be shared. But we quickly realised that, very sadly, my darling Granny had passed away during the night. She was just over a week short of her 92nd birthday. 

As I’m sure you can imagine, it was a huge shock and we are all devastated. She had been fighting dementia for a number of years; slowly deteriorating and losing more and more of her sparkle and personality. But she was still my Granny – the Granny who took us down to the beach when we were little, who baked fairy cakes with us and let me lick the bowl, who gave the best hugs and was always smiling. We couldn’t always see the ‘old her’ but we knew she was still there, underneath the bleakness that dementia brought with it.

Over the last few months she gradually stopped eating and drinking, which was heart breaking to watch. So we knew she was fading away, but we honestly didn’t think it would be this quick (neither did our GP). The house just feels so empty without her and we’re finding it really hard to come to terms with. Before she passed away I had actually started planning a blog post about dementia, as I feel it’s such a misunderstood disease. I’m putting it on the backburner for now – it’s just too raw at the moment – but I will still post it at some point.

I try not to talk too much about my mental and physical health here, as it’s a bit of an escape for me, but at the same time I think it’s important for me to be honest. I struggled with the idea of posting this, but I count you guys as friends and I think you deserve my honesty. My mental health has been gradually deteriorating, and with what’s happened this week it seems to have just pushed me over the edge. So I’m working with my GP and mental health team to keep myself out of hospital, just trying to put one foot in front of the other and get through an hour at a time.

I know this post probably won’t be of great interest to a lot of people, but I couldn’t continue posting without acknowledging what’s happened. Plus I’m sure there are a lot of you who can relate to losing someone you love. The next few weeks and months are going to be a challenge, but I want to keep my blog going if I can. It would have been my Gran’s birthday on the 5th December, then we have Christmas to get through. At the moment it all just feels like a dream and the last thing I want to do is go out, be jolly and do normal things. But my Grandparents loved Christmas, so I want to make it special for them. I know they wouldn’t want me hiding away and putting my life on hold, so I will try my absolute best to push myself to do things, but at the same time I need to focus on my health and put family first. I thought it might be nice if I shared a few of my favourite photos of my Gran with you. Like I said, this may not be of any interest, but I feel I owe it to my Gran to remember the happy times with her and my Grandad.

This was my Gran's 91st Birthday last December. From L-R: Me, Gran, Bekkah (my sister) and my Mum

Gran's 91st Birthday - one of the last times we saw her smile

My Gran before the Dementia hit. She's with my Grandad soon after he had a huge stroke

Gran and Grandad on holiday

This is one of my favourite photos of them, and is how I like to remember them as they look so happy. This was my Gran and Grandad on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. I've never seen two people who loved each other as much as they did

My Gran and Grandad on their wedding day. I remember my Gran showing me their wedding video every time I went to stay with them - I loved watching it so much!

Gran and Grandad out for a meal

My Mum, Gran and I went out for afternoon tea to celebrate my birthday. A couple of days later we sadly lost my Grandad

This is my Gran and my Mum when she was little

Another of my favourite photos - I think it just captures the love between them

I always remember being so happy whenever my Gran and Grandad were around

I was my Grandparents' first grandchild, and from an early age I could see how much they doted on me, and later my siblings

Thank you for your on-going support and kindness. Please bear with me as I try to keep myself going at this difficult time.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday Snippets - 15th November 2015

It’s been all go this week with my blogger meet-up finally happening on Monday. I didn’t realise quite how stressed I’d got myself about it, but I think it was worth it in the end. As much as I enjoyed it though, it’s been nice to be able to relax a bit now and actually start thinking about Christmas a little bit. It also seems to have got a lot colder over the last few days and I’ve definitely been considering getting out the old bobble hat and gloves! I keep looking at my Christmas jumpers as well – not long until I can wear them again!

Last Sunday was mostly spent doing blog related things. I had a pretty long lie-in in the morning, and then did a bit of blogging. I’m really hoping I can get back to putting a few more posts up now that the meet-up is out of the way. I’ve got lots of ideas of things I’d like to do, it’s just a case of finding the time and energy to take photos and write the posts. After lunch my Mum helped me pack all the goodie bags ready for Monday, and then sort out a few last bits and bobs. My brother and his fiancĂ© came over for dinner, which was lovely. We then settled down to watch the final episode in the series of Downton Abbey.

After dinner, when we were all just sitting round the table chatting, Freddie decided to jump onto my sister’s knee and put his paws on the table like this. Now, he’s not usually allowed at the table, but I thought he looked so cute that I had to take a quick photo!

Monday was all kinds of crazy, and I’m not quite sure how I managed to get through it if I’m honest! I had Uni in the morning and managed to oversleep, which is becoming a rather regular thing at the moment. At home after lunch, I did some last minute jobs for the meet-up. My Dad and I then drove over to Basingstoke with a car full of boxes and got the room set up. I won’t describe it in much detail because there’s already a post up on my blog about it. But we all had a really lovely time, and despite feeling pretty unwell by the end of the day, I was pleased with how it went.

On Tuesday, as I came downstairs in the morning, the scent of Lush hit me – I’d left my bags in the lounge and the whole house now seems to smell of bath goodies! I had an appointment with my CPN first thing, which I was a bit late for as I overslept yet again. I then had a follow-up meeting with the psychologists from my STEPPS group, which was quite helpful as we came up with a plan of action for what to do next. I spent the afternoon crashed out on the sofa trying to recover from Monday, but managed to finish my article for university.

Wednesday was a lot quieter thankfully. I managed to have a lie-in, so didn’t need to worry about oversleeping, which is always good! I spent my morning editing photos for my blog, then chilled out on the sofa and replied to some messages. We had Family Therapy in the afternoon, which is never much fun, then I opened some post and did some admin on my laptop. In the evening my Dad took me for a drink at our local pub, as the Pain Clinic have set me a goal to do something relaxing that is just for me at least once a week. We sat by the wood-burning stove with a pint and a flavoured cider and just chatted about life in general.

On Wednesday (as well as for the last couple of weeks) I wore my beautiful poppy from Crown and Glory and made sure I really thought about everything it represents.

Thursday was a fairly boring day for news, as I was at university all day. The weather was pretty rubbish – rainy and cold, so it was nice to come home, snuggle up on the sofa and open my post.

I’m always a bit wary when a Friday the 13th comes along – I guess you could say I’m a bit superstitious (won’t walk under ladders, if I see a lone magpie I have to address him etc). However, I don’t want to trivialise the events that happened this Friday in Paris – it wasn’t just bad luck, it was pure terrorism. The very thought of it makes me feel physically sick; to know that there are people who can do such terrible things to other innocent human beings. I do think it’s so important for us to remember though, that these terrorists do not represent a religion. There are millions of Muslims around the world who live a life of peace and do in no way associate with these terrorists. We need to make sure that we don’t allow events like this to cloud our judgement of the majority of the human race. The refugees coming into Europe are not the same as these terrorists – they are fleeing their countries because of the terrorists. As Martin Luther King said:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

With regard to my Friday, I started the day at a family session on my pain course. My Dad came along and I think it was helpful for us both. I then headed to university, but really struggled to concentrate because I felt so tired. This cute little dinosaur outfit arrived for Freddie and he looks so darn cute in it! I spent the evening watching Children in Need.

I finally have a weekend where I have absolutely nothing planned. As much as I love doing things out of the house and seeing other people, I really appreciate having a completely chilled out weekend. Yesterday I had a lie-in and spent the rest of the morning blogging (and doing a little tidying in my bedroom). My afternoon consisted of resting on the sofa infront of the TV, working on my Uni essay. This cute parcel arrived from Jilly Jilly Design and I’m looking forward to opening it up so I can chat to you about it on the blog. When I’d had enough of doing my essay, I put my laptop away and watched Tinkerbell with my sister – can’t beat a bit of Disney!

If you haven’t read my blog before, I just wanted to let you know that I have a second blog, which mainly focuses on my health in more depth than I talk about it here. It’s largely for friends and family to follow and keep up with what’s going on, but if it’s something you would be interested in reading as well, you are more than welcome to follow me over there. It’s called Unicorns and Floral Crowns and you can find it by clicking here. I’m also trying to post on Snapchat a bit more, so if you fancy following me, my username is Jennycole44.

What have you been up to this week? I always enjoy hearing about your news and adventures!

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Saturday, 14 November 2015

South East Bloggers Circle Meet-up

As you’ve probably seen, I’ve been rather quiet on my blog recently. This is partly down to my health not playing ball, but also because the little energy I have has been going towards organising the first meet-up for the South East Bloggers Circle! I’ve been really excited to tell you all about it properly, and now I can!

Just as a bit of a backstory – I set up a Facebook group a couple of years ago, as I was struggling to find bloggers in my local area. I also noticed there were a lot of blogger meet-ups in London, but couldn’t find any a bit closer to home. The group gradually grew (we are now at 130 members on the Facebook group, plus a lot more following our Twitter handle @SEBlogCircle) and we changed our name from Hants/Berks/Surrey Bloggers to the South East Bloggers Circle.

I’d wanted to organise a meet-up for a while (I did help organise one with Festival Place, but was in hospital so couldn’t go!), so at the beginning of this year I started making some enquiries. The lovely people at Festival Place were incredibly supportive, helping me to find a location, contact local companies and finding other local bloggers to attend. Originally the meet-up was planned for the summer, but due to various reasons it kept getting postponed. But last Monday (9th November) it finally happened!

On Monday afternoon, my Dad and I headed over to Festival Place with a car full of goodies. Pizza Express very kindly allowed us to use their upstairs to host the gathering, so Dad and I started setting up the room, with the help of some of their staff.

Soon after we arrived, representatives from Bee Good and Lush Basingstoke turned up with bags full of treats – you could quite literally smell them coming! Seeing them set up all their amazing products was so exciting, and I started to relax a bit (I didn’t realise just how stressful organising a meet-up would be!)

Bloggers then began turning up, greeted at the door by my Dad with a name label (a bit sad, I know, but it helped so much to know who everyone was!) It was so lovely to finally put some faces to names and to meet the people behind the blogs/YouTube channels! Pizza Express very kindly took orders for complimentary drinks for everyone and the room was soon full of excited chatter and squeals of excitement from the Lush and Bee Good tables.

After about an hour, various pizzas, anti-pasti and doughballs began to appear on a long table. As well as offering us complimentary drinks, the manager (Ricardo) of Pizza Express was incredibly generous and put on a buffet for us – I’ve never seen so much amazing food! Numerous photos were taken and we all stood there for a while waiting for the first person to dig in! Unfortunately a few bloggers weren’t able to make it on the night, but this did mean we had a lovely sized group and were able to all sit round a big table and enjoy our meal together.

As if the delicious pizzas weren’t enough, we then indulged in the most amazing salted caramel ice cream, kindly donated to us by Jude’s Ice Cream. I often lust over their tubs of ice cream when I go to the supermarket, but I’d never got round to trying any until Monday. I can definitely say that I will be buying some more!

Now in a bit of a food coma, we got back to chatting and seeing what the visiting brands had to offer. Lush did a few fun demonstrations (which definitely just made me want to buy more!) and told us all about their awesome Christmas range. It was really good being able to see their products out of their store, as you could really take in the individual scents and the two ladies were so knowledgeable and full of great tips and advice. They were also doing complimentary hand and arm massages, which were just divine, especially after the amount of time and energy I put in to organising the event!

It was then time for the obligatory group photo. I handed out the cute goodie bags, given to us by Life Tonics, and we all struck a pose in front of the Lush table. They were such a lovely group of ladies, who really made the evening great.

Me - Isla - Sian - Chloe - Alyssia - Naomi - Dawn - Sophie - Lara

Time was going so quickly and people were starting to talk about getting home (it was a school night after all!) when I remembered we had the charity raffle to do! We were donated some fantastic prizes from some very generous companies, including Bill’s, Paul’sBoutique and Jilly Jilly Design. All the money raised is going to the charity Mind, which is very close to my heart. I’m planning to do a separate post about the prizes in the raffle and what was inside our goodie bags, so keep your eyes peeled! I think the ladies who won prizes were really happy with what they received, even if we did have to keep pulling tickets out because one blogger kept winning!

By the end of the night I was absolutely shattered, but also happy that it had gone so well. Despite all the work and energy it took to organise everything, I think it was worth it. I’ve had some lovely messages from the ladies who attended and they’re already asking when the next meet-up will be! I would definitely like to organise more in the future – they won’t all take on this format, some will be big and some much smaller, but hopefully meeting up can become a regular thing for us, as I had so much fun. We are really grateful to all the generous companies that supported us with this event, and are always looking for other companies to work with in the future.

If you’re a blogger in the South East of England and fancy joining us, you can find our group on Facebook, Twitter (@SEBlogCircle) and Instagram (@SE_Bloggers) – it would be great to see you! If you’d like to be added to our database to hear about future events, please drop me an e-mail on

Have you been to any good blogger meet-ups? Are you in the South East and fancy joining us? What sort of meet-ups would you like to see?

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