Attempting to make it as a writer

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Tiggy Hayes

I have finally launched a web site to accommodate all my various writing tasks and news.

From June 2016  all my new blog posts will be published on the web site.

Tiggy Hayes

Please feel free to move across and continue to follow my progress.


Thanks for all the support so far and keep fingers crossed for a book out in the near future.



Drive Across Britain – Okehampton

DSC_0038I do feel a bit of a fraud, I went on my run this morning – hardly but it was beautiful walking up towards the Ashbury Hotel from my lovely accommodation at Fairway Lodge in Thorndon Cross.  The mist was still in the valleys and I was walking along a quiet country road.

IMG_0372 I was overtaken by a hare running along the grass verge beside me.  He gave me a start as he shot past but didn’t stop long enough to have his photo taken so I concentrated on the cows in the field instead.  This tortoise however did get back to base and was congratulated on going for a run so early in the morning.

I assured them it was hardly running but they had only seen me as I came back,  I pushed the point that I go out early so no one can see me and my pathetic attempts to run.   And there I am following these incredible cyclists!

It’s a beautiful morning the sun is already up and shining over the moors, there are currently  no clouds in the sky,  so for the cyclists they will be riding in good weather.  They hit rain yesterday coming over Bodmin Moor which must have been pretty bleak but today is looking good.

DSC_0051Yesterday I did the touristy thing first and then  having left Land’s End I headed in land to The Poldark Mine just outside Heston, in Cornwall.  This is an incredible set up, it was going to rack and ruin but a new owner is now revamping it.  The history of the whole mining industry is all there and the heritage of not just Cornwall but mining over the whole world.

I was so lucky to be the only person on the tour and rather than cancel they gave me a fantastic tour down deep into the mines, through the wet tunnels and down some very narrow steps which are so advanced from the ladders that were really used.

I was not so lucky that Aiden Turner (the new Ross Poldark) and crew don’t start filming there for another fortnight but a girl can dream cant she.

Here is an interesting fact – In the old days they used to employ children from the age of 8 – No health and safety!

The 8 year old boys – it was considered unlucky to have women or females to be in the mine, they had their own employment at the summit.

These lads would take the mined tin, which was not light in weight, in wheelbarrows to the bottom of a mine shaft.   There was the next aged lad, 12ish, who was tall enough and strong enough to shovel it up to the next level.

The levels were not just a step up, they were certainly higher than the lads and even higher than grown men today.   (Mining men didn’t DSC_0070grow higher than 4ft 6” and the tunnels were never any higher than that.)

The boys needed to be able to stand up and had a long handled shovel which they lifted the rocks up on and threw it over their shoulders up to the level above.  Where an older boy waited to do exactly the same to yet another level.   Till finally it arrived at the top of the shaft….  Where the older men waited to give it over to the women and girls.

The higher up the ladder you were, the safer and the older you must be – hence the expression “working your way up the ladder”

I would recommend a visit to the Poldark mine if you are ever in the area.  It is so important to keep this heritage and history alive.

My story hopes to take in a prison so I moved on to Bodmin Jail, another incredible visit for you if you are in Cornwall.  We may complain about the justice system now but the harsh treatment was horrific and many were hanged for petty crimes or ones that we would certainly offer help for now.

I wandered up and down the old staircase it felt really cold and not sad exactly but you could sense the feeling of past suffering.  It was shocking how young they all were.

I am very proud of Sexy Sporty Dad he came in about 30th out of approximately 900 riders and by the time I got to him he was up and about and looking pretty refreshed and coherent.  I joined him while he ate and then went and found myself an Indian in Okehampton (Rajpoot) where I was very well looked after.  It is amazing how attentive staff are when you are a lady on your own.

Today I have discovered – I  can really feel the history of a place and identify with the people who have passed through a time.



Back to School

The trunk needed packing, it lay open and waiting on the bed.  As normal a variety of new clothes had been bought and waited to go in the case. I knew for certain that I had not grown any taller this year but just possibly I had shed a few unnecessary pounds, hence the reason for so many new items.

The full case was loaded into the car and off we set.  I was going back to school and I was full of a variety of school girl emotion; trepidation, excitement, uncertainty and euphoria, which I now realise, will always accompany my return.  The journey was unbelievably long and hazardous with traffic and holdups at every turn.  Were they there just to frustrate me or to pour more anxiety on the tension in the car.  We shuffled laboriously up the M5 and tried in vain to move forward to the M6.

I knew one friend was not coming back this time so I would be on my own. It was she, who’s glow I usually basked in.  It was she who led us in, but far more importantly pulled us out of mischief.  It was her I was missing already and I had not even arrived.

With relief we approached the school.  The pressure in the car dissipating every inch we moved closer up the drive.  I collected my key and we made our way back to my old familiar room.  It was still the same, just as I had left it, ready and waiting for me to unpack and stamp my own character back onto it.  Having unloaded, I waved off the family.  A moment of sudden missing them as the car vanished round the corner and I was left alone.

Turning my back on the disappearing car, my stomach tightened as I wandered into the lounge. Suddenly I was surrounded by old friends and acquaintances, I had not seen for a year.   Hugs, laughs and memories of previous years as new people arrived and the magic began to embrace us.

I was back, back in my own world of fiction, non-fiction, romance, CSI and all things literary.  Surrounded again by friends and new friends I was at Swanwick Writers Summer School and ready to absorb the atmosphere, magic and material that will guide me through the coming year’s projects.Swanwick 2015

This year I had promised myself I was going to stretch myself and learn outside my comfort zone.  Thrown in at the deep end that first evening, I found myself stood up in front of a room of proper writers.  It was as my name was called I realised how hot the room actually was, the door was too far away to run and all these people were so much better than me.

A deep breath and I launched into a speedy resume of what I had already written, forgetting or withholding the additional information that it still needed to be published.  I stumbled my way through my current and future projects  focusing  on this year’s plans;  to learn research, historical plotting and characterisation for my next NANOWRIMO novel.   I then fell back into the welcoming arms of my chair and anonymity.

I’d got away with it. The welcome in the bar was still going on and I joined in with my own celebration at overcoming a personal fear.  Is it the magic that carried me through?  Most definitely!

The first night done already, but I was entrenched back into the enchanted ecosphere of the place I love most; Swanwick.


Spring Cleaning


The sun has got his hat on and is coming out to play.  Have we finally got through all that bad weather and the continual flooding and misery?  Is the sun going to stay with us for a while?  Time to fling open the windows and let the fresh summery air cleanse through the house.

I too am going through the process of spring cleaning, unfortunately for Sexy Sporty Dad this does not necessarily mean he will return from work to a shiny new home.  My deep clean involves a deep reboot of my life.  It will hopefully reset my systems back on the track I started out with.

Those carefree childish days full of sun and aspirations cannot be revisited except through the power of memories.  Experience and emotion railroaded the innocent juvenile ambitions I held then to shape who I have become now.

So with this in mind where do I begin?

I have begun the process to turn my working life around returning back to where I started, relearning skills and techniques I thought were long forgotten.   Technology has developed leaps and bounds over the years but to my surprise the basics I learnt a whole lifetime ago are standing me in great stead now.  Some polishing and digging deep down into the stored memory banks is required to revive and renovate some of those old competencies.

I suspect that nothing I do will take away the years of child bearing and mid-life spread but I have found my way back to the gym if only twice a week and gingerly at the moment. The bike currently remains forlorn if not forgotten propped up against the garage wall.   A step at a time; a slow meandering step at a time is how it needs to be done.

A 5 day reboot on juicing as per Joe Cross’ book Reboot was not as traumatic as I had first anticipated. Although midway through the reboot, I unexpectedly attended a work meal for which I arrived full of good intentions but could not resist the wonderful menu I was confronted with, or the persuasive colleagues I was with.  The rest of the week, maybe boosted by my lapse in starvation or the guilt of having done so left me determined to finish and feeling much better than I had expected.  I have to admit that since then I have not juiced as often as I should but I am managing to maintain my 5 a day intake if not quite coping with the additional advisory 7 a day.

So the only thing still on the list to do is the filing.   That is the metaphysical filing, de-cluttering the  abstract pile of administrative drivel that rolls around my brain each day, tiring me out and leaving me like a horse running the grand national overnight.  My brain I notice mirrors the chaos on my desk so maybe Sexy Sporty Dad will see a change as I throw caution to the wind and throw out some of that clutter.  There is a definite correlation between physically throwing away and mentally de-muddling.

I do own a “to do book” which I write it all down in but I still struggle to curtail the new additions.  For each line I gloriously scribble out I still seem to add two new lines to the important and immediate list.

I still have some capacity for more streamlining with work.  There is still a fair (sounds more achievable than long) way to go to reach the sublime heights of Hollywood model figure.  In the meantime there is plenty to keep me busy de-stressing and re-ordering my mental capacity but isn’t that what they say “little and often”.



Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at  Tea Time Treats 




Stranger Danger

We are so politically correct these days that sometimes I wonder if things have gone too far.  I know historically there have been abuses in all walks of life but as youngsters we lived full and enriched lives. We were blissfully unencumbered by pre-formed prejudices just because we were young.  I am not so sure my children with all their modernities will have the enrichment of that innocent excitement.

I did not have the benefit of black ops 2 Zombies but I would not say this deprived me of my childhood.  Instead I managed to get out into the garden and climb trees, learn to ride, learnt to milk a cow.   I played tennis and swam daily from as early as we could bear the cold in March/April often going on till November if we could manage it.  I paid for my riding lessons by mucking out, tacking up and later breaking in ponies before being allowed to take children out on hacks or teaching them how to jump, round the world and dressage.

Sad to say, unlike my children who will have to protect me, I feel I am unable to kill or seriously deter a marauding Zombie who cannot be shot and continues bits hanging off as the blood spurts and sprays, to approach me.  I do feel though that I could if marooned on a desert island for any length of time, in desperation catch and cook a chicken or rabbit to survive.  I could turn my skills to building a safe waterproof shelter and administer an acceptable degree of make do first aid.

Our lives were very carefree and we didn’t think about the dangers.  If a man approached me asking for directions as I played out on the road my thoughts did not immediately shout danger, danger run.  I would answer his query and point him in the right direction.   I may even lead him if I was going his way.   I remember how my freedom was curtailed dramatically when Genette Tate disappeared very close to where we were living at the time.  My father needed to know my whereabouts all the time, I suddenly had tight time curfews which I could not understand and often forgot leading my poor father to traipse around country lanes looking for me.

The sad thing is that the Genette Tates of this world were the highlighted cases and recent history proves that abuses and evil intent came from all sorts of places even the most respected icons of the time.   However I am sure that not every person is inherently evil or covering a demonic past.  Some things may be totally innocent.

It was over tea we were discussing our day when Mini Son mentioned “I was hugged by a man today”

The hairs on my neck prickled, my muscles contracted and I drew a deep breath as I reached for the phone to call 999.

His two brothers began chanting “stranger danger”.

Sexy Sporty Dad quietly asked him “What happened?”

“I was in the shop today when a really old man was trying to work the self-serve machine.  He could not get it to work so I went over and showed him.  I put all his shopping through and showed him where to put the money.  When we had finished he put his arm around me and said thank you.”

I am so proud of mini Son, I did not know he knew how to work the self-serve machines but he showed thoughtful compassion for this old man and helped someone in need.   The man was probably far too old to realize he should not hug or touch a young boy but was trying to say thank you in the only way he knew how.

I told Mini Son he had done the right thing although added that he still must not go in anyone’s car or take sweets from a stranger.

I also added that if he is going to help someone then to do it as he did in full view because there is the other side that depressingly I have to consider.   The man was obviously old and possibly a little confused, what if he suddenly forgot why a young hooded against the weather pre-teen is touching his food or his money.    Would the supermarket believe my boy against an old man that he was helping not stealing?

How sad that we even have to be aware of strangers assuming them to be potential abusers or unable to help in case we are branded wicked.   Where did trust and community values lose their way?


nanowrimo 2013 cert

I am a winner, I cannot believe that I actually managed to complete the challenge and write over 50,000 words in 30 days.   Mini son typed the last word on the laptop as we both watched the word count click up.  I then inserted the whole story into the verification page on the website and he pressed the button.  Enjoying a moment of incredible self-satisfaction, pride and emotion I showed Sexy Sporty Dad who was very complimentary.   He cannot understand the desire to write, but I cannot understand his need to go and cycle 60 odd miles on a cold wet muddy Saturday morning.

It had not been easy.  I had been disciplined about my rising at 5.30 each day and writing till 7pm.  I did not tell anyone locally I was taking part lest I did not rise to the challenge and had to tell them of my failure.   I did join in the forums and had a lot of support from my writing friends who kept me going with encouragement, support and belonging.

The story has a long way to go and the humour is minimal but all that is for the editing.   The original remit to tell the children and grandchildren who I am is beginning to form and hopefully I will complete the rest of the novel as time allows and my story develops.


Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at Tea Time Treats.


People keep pets for many different reasons: for company, to breed, as working pets or in my case to help out.   The kittens that I have now acquired are the biggest time wasters that I find in my daily routine.  A routine, already full to bursting and does not require the dippy distractions that these miniature maniacs display.    The kittens now 7 weeks old are most certainly developing their own personalities.

Zeus is the sandy brown one who despite being smaller than the rest is nosier, noisier and naughtier than all the others put together.   He is the instigator of many of the DSC_0125sibling battles that take place.  It was him that ventured to test out the food his mother was eating and encouraged his brothers to do the same.   He learnt to climb the stairs struggling to reach the top and luckily for him his claws could catch the carpet and he could pull himself up. Then he learnt to fall down the stairs using his claws to break the fall.  He does not like his tail as it bobs up and down independently and chases him round the house, he then bravely stops to face the offending tail and then chases it turning round and round until he is so dizzy he falls spectacularly over or off wherever he has stopped.

DSC_0113Sparta is grey in colour with unusual striping down his back.   He is more aloof than his siblings and learns quicker than the others what hurts when you run into it.   He will run and play and wobble more than the rest and his head still bobs Churchill like (the insurance dog not the politician).  No 1 Son wants to mount him on the back shelf of the car to bobble at people.    He like the rest of them has found his speed although the balance is not quite perfected and he falls over as he runs.

Obama and Nelson are both black kittens with Nelson having a tiny smudge of grey (white) hair under his chin.  Mini Son instantly knows them apart,DSC_0142I have to catch them which is proving more and more impossible, before I can upturn and check the underneath.    They play well together and can often be seen and heard thundering around chasing each other, stopping suddenly at the top of the stairs.  The chaser launches, unaware of the dangerous precipice and they both tumble loudly down in a tangle of jaws, paws and claws. These two egged on by each other are leading the quest to claw their way up my curtains without falling off.

Mum however is giving me the most headaches.   Busy writing in the early hours on my own I glanced out across the garden.   We seem to have had a string of strange cats at our door recently, waiting.  I have shooed them away and many I do not even recognise as being from round here.  As I tried to glean inspiration from the freshly mowed lawn and the late blossom on the tree I noticed a young black cat sneaking through the garden.  Another stranger!  This one turned and saw me, a spark of recognition in her eyes.  I knew Princess to be locked in her room with all her babies but did she have a twin I knew nothing about.

I moved quicker than her as I had less area to cover. I opened the downstairs cloakroom door just in time to see her climbing back in through the window like a naughty teenager.  The window which had always been left slightly ajar for the fresh air had been pushed open; the array of newly acquired cat essentials on the ledge now lay discarded or fallen. Having explained to her in no uncertain terms the dangers out there for a young teenage mother cat, who must not to do that again.  She looked insolently into my eyes and with typical teenage disdain walked away.

Woken in the early hours of the morning by a horrendous haunting hurt crying from just outside the house, I rushed to see which animal was now injured.   I was beaten to the door and nearly knocked down the stairs by the charging Princess crying to the creature beyond in a newly acquired guttural groan.  My concern changed to her as she cried and writhed in skin tingling irritation.  Rolling her uncomfortable body in un-relievable discomfort she moaned and meowed for many hours.

As soon as the shops were open on a bank-holiday Sunday I went to the local rural supplier to acquire flea tablets.   Although no evidence of the evil parasites she was rolling against anything to relieve the agony.  She wanted to lie on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor to help.  She liked being stroked but did not want the babies near her.   Fast acting, safe for babies and feeding mothers I bought the tablets administering one immediately to ease her pain.   For an hour she fussed and fidgeted, only content to be groomed roughly and not leave my side.  I rang the vet as a precaution and she advised that I seem to have done the right thing and she would call in a couple of hours.  Finally the cat calmed down and stopped her crying, she curled up in front of the window and lay soaking the sun’s rays.  The vet called back and reassuringly I told her the cat was sleeping and all pain seemed to have eased.  I launched into the thankless task of where to de-flea the house first.

Minutes before I served our evening meal Princess as if on a timer woke up crying.  She rubbed herself against my leg causing potatoes to plummet over the kitchen floor.  She yowled as if she were walking on shards of piercing glass.  She slunk low to the ground unable even to lift her back legs as she forced her rear and tail into the air.   The babies came running to see their howling mother in such agony and tried to suckle the pain away.  Princess turned away aggressively and pushed them all away.  Her stomach full of milk maybe she had mastitis or the way her rear end was convulsing could it be urinary?    Laying her gently on a cold pack wrapped in a blanket the meal became fast food rather than leisurely repast. The glass of wine untouched adorned the table invitingly, as we realised a visit to the vet may be called for.

We called in neighbours and friends to try and work out what was ailing this poor creature.  Her crying now a moan, her whole back in painful spasms and then she tried to walk.  Her back legs were dragged with tail in air desperate to raise the underside of her body.  Yowling loud enough to wake the neighbourhood dead I rang the vet again and she agreed to see me straight away.  Princess struggled with the pain as we put her in the carry basket, all the way over she moaned and tried to escape the painful captivity I had enforced on her.

I prepared myself for the worse.  How was I going to tell my boys?  The owner who I am still in contact with?  The cat’s protection league who had entrusted me to continue looking after her?   What was I going to do with 4 orphaned kittens for the next fortnight till they can go to homes of their own.   Driving swiftly but carefully over the bumps which seemed to give her a cataclysmic jolt of pain as I bumped over them, I reached the vets who were ready and waiting.

A miracle!

As I opened the travel cage and pulled the half dead cat from there; she leapt out of my arms to the floor and began pacing the room. No sign of pain, legs fully compliant with her body movements, spasms all spent, she appeared as fit as ever a cat could be, sleek, shiny and speedy.  She began crying as a wave of new exciting smells hit her.

“She’s calling”

The vet informed me.   The next ten minutes taught me more about animal behaviour, in particular cats, in particular Siamese cats than weeks and years reading in a book or on the internet.  She was calling for a mate.   She was desperate to escape and get herself pregnant again. The tail in the air, the craving attention, and the guttural growl are all part of her flirting repertoire.  I learnt that Siamese cats are one of the most vocal and dramatic breed and she definitely has Siamese in her.

Relieved beyond the realms of believability, but angry as any parent of teenage girls I returned to the tense household to explain to my boys that rather than breathing her last she was displaying all the feminine wiles in order to catch herself another boy.   Boys beware, she is cat wailing!

“No chase there then” was Sexy Sporty Dad’s words of wisdom to his male offspring.


Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy


So just maybe I went down to the local tattoo parlour and had the words mug or gullible tattooed across my forehead.

I know I should learn to say no but sometimes it is not so easy.

I was on my way to work when someone banged on the door of my home.  Thinking it was a delivery that we had been waiting for, for over a week I rushed to the door and flung it open.  There on the doorstep, no coats and snow fluttering all around was a friend and her children.

The last people I had expected to see following their sudden departure to a safe place.   She was nearly in tears and the children had sombre and strained faces which lit up as I pulled them in, out of sight and into the warmth.

Delighted as I was to see them, I was somewhat surprised.

They had come home briefly to say goodbye to the cat they left behind.  There was nowhere they could keep her and she was to be put down.  It was such a shame, she explained because they were only in temporary accommodation and as soon as she was settled they would be able to have her back.

The children were of course distraught.

I have to confess I am not a cat lover.  Yes I have a wonderful relationship with my friend Natty; I look after her cat when she is away and in return she looks after our rabbits but it a reciprocal arrangement that does not mean I am particularly fond of cats.   Why when you go to someone’s house does the cat always single me out to sit on my lap when I am probably the only person in the room who really does not want it.

I already knew what was coming; every argument and logical reason was running through my mind.   I work, Sexy Sporty Dad works, the boys are at school all day.  It is bad enough trying to get them to acknowledge the rabbits they begged and pleaded and promised to look after.  We don’t need any more pet commitments.

But somehow the words didn’t quite come out like that.

If we could just take the cat until the family were sorted then at least they would not need to put her down for no reason.  Her children would see their precious cat again and my boys might realise that pets are a commitment and cease their continual nagging to get one.

No, it is such a small word, but it takes such a lot of effort and determination to utter.

The next thing I know I am walking to work having left one cat “princess” locked in my utility room.  I did manage to remove the sausages I had thawing in the sink and hoped she would not chew through the coats and shoes in her distress.  It had been the parting words that struck such a chord;  “her babies are due any day now and she needs looking after”.

How was I ever going to tell Sexy Sporty Dad what I had agreed to or not.  The boys would be ok with the idea.  Staff at work brought me back down to earth.  “they need to exercise, they need the run of the house.  There at least I am adamant I do not want animals in my kitchen, upstairs, in fact inside at all; but she is an inside cat.   They need food and care and vets bills especially if she is going to have babies.   And really what was I thinking, did I really think the family would come back and get her when they were settled.  Past history told me otherwise and by then the cat would be established and probably several offspring to boot.

The best advice I was given by several people was to take the cat to the cat’s protection and let them re-home her.    Every sensible fibre of my being tells me this is what I should do. Every long term plan or that matter short term plan doesn’t involve pet sitting.    We have enough issues with the local cats using our garden and sitting watching our rabbit hutches

I am also the proud owner, albeit temporary owner I am supposed to believe, of one very smelly cat litter box which is enough for me to want to give the animal away instantly.

So my dilemma is do I keep this cat to add to our already chaotic lives with the threat of kittens appearing on the scene very soon.   What about the risk, my boys become attached to the cat and her babies, before the family settle enough to reclaim their pet.   Or do I leave the cat’s protection league to sort the cat and future offspring out and wash my hands of the whole thing.  Then I will have to face her children if and when they next appear and tell them I have given away their beloved pet.


I have written a strong piece about an old home which was well received.   Just this month I had to write a piece about finding a body which opened up all kinds of avenues to explore.  I hope I have given the reader just enough to feel mixed emotions and to leave them wondering who, how, where and when.

Time runs away so quickly month by month that I have little time to work on Memories but I do the odd bit.  I am looking for someone to read through it for accuracy in the professional sense but also someone who can comment on basic editing which no matter how many times I look at it I only read the correct intonation or tense and not what I may actually have written.  Only now do I really understand the importance of an editor.

Update on the cat saga.

I did ring the cat’s protection league and guess what?  They are unable to take her from me at this point in time but I am now on the list.   The better news was that they paid



for a visit to a vet.  We have a young year old cat with about 4 weeks till she gives birth.   She has now been de-flead and wormed courtesy of the cats protection league and I have a new best friend at the league.  But we still have the cat and the boys are now calling her Princess and the cuddles she craves are being given freely and willingly except from me.

And that was just a Monday morning!



Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy


Pin-less and Portable

Sitting looking around a now all too familiar coffee shop; waiting.    Not as you might imagine for a coffee to arrive, I already have that by my side.   I am waiting for No 1 Son to come out of theatre and back to the ward where I may visit him.

This we hope is the final chapter in a long running saga or at least it seems so to him.

It was just over two years ago reaching the end of a particularly successful rugby season for him having come back from injury once before; he had begun to regain confidence and fitness and was playing incredibly intuitive rugby.    He was warming up for a game when he felt a twinge in his hip but being a boy besotted by his sport he carried on; not telling anyone.

The hip continued giving him pain throughout the game and finally he admitted he was suffering later that afternoon.   Eyes rolling to the heavens; I diagnosed and treated his latest pulled muscle, thanking God it was nothing worse.

The following Sunday when the pain had not subsided I vetoed him joining the sevens competition and became the most hated evil mother in the world.  Did I not understand how important it was for him? All season he had worked up to this very day and I was ruining it.

I, of course already knew this, but having been a rugby mum for many years by then, also knew how long a pulled muscle or torn ligament could take to meander its slow journey back to fit.  After all had he not been on crutches for 10 weeks with plantafacialitis; ruining the whole of his previous summer holiday and delaying the start of this season for him.

I stood my ground and he did not play.   As the pain continued without appearing to get better so we booked into to see the doctor who agreed he had pulled a muscle and gave him a cocktail of medicines; Ibuprofen cream to dispel the inflammation together with an anti-sickness tablet to offset the effects of the cream.  He is allergic to brufen and all derivatives thereof.   Not a good allergy for a rugby player.

Three weeks later the pain was increasing rather than decreasing and another visit to the doctor raised concerns of a slipped femoral epiphysis.  Could we have an urgent x-ray done?  As it was a Friday night nothing could be done and we were put on the urgent list.   One week later saw me taking No 1 Son up to the X-Ray department to check out this irritating hip.    As we left I thanked the radiographer and she told me that the results would take a week to get back to the doctor and if I could make an appointment then for them to be discussed.

The natural instinct in a mother is to protect and nurture her child and to me this had already gone on too long.   The Doctors fears playing heavily on my mind I trawled the internet to find every possible entry for femoral epithisis that has ever been written, becoming more and more anxious as the moments and information flooded my mind.   I phoned the surgery and unable to speak directly to the doctor left a fairly curt message saying that following his request for an urgent x-ray they had done this finally and if he was happy to wait for the result I would accede to his knowledge and experience.

We heard nothing!

Friday evening arrived and a friend came over for a meal.  We’d opened a bottle of wine, served out the meal and called the children down to the table.  That was when the phone rings.   Often I will actually leave it with the knowledge that they will leave a message or if really important ring my mobile.  Something, niggling deep within that I am unable to explain made me answer it as the others tucked into their meal.

The doctor had got my message and was not in the least happy to wait, he like I, knew that the X-ray results are instantly on the system and he would meet me at the minor injuries unit in 20 minutes to see them.    Grateful that Sexy Sporty Dad had been delayed getting home from work so had not had an opportunity to have a drink yet, and that the poor friend invited to tea now was there to look after the other two, three of us drove up to meet the doctor.

Needless to say the doctors diagnoses was correct and No 1 Son was admitted that night and operated on the following morning to place a pin in his hip joint holding him together.   The next anguished event was to establish what this meant for his rugby career.   The internet had painted a very doomed pictured of him ever playing sport again let alone a contact sport like rugby.  How could I ever tell a 14 year old his playing days were done.

We began a long relationship that night with a very wonderful surgeon.  He sat down with us and explained that he understood the passion and need for No 1 Son to play but; the young man would be out for a whole year, all being well he could go back then.    I could have kissed the man.  My son on the other hand felt like his world had ended.    He hopefully will never understand how close he came to never, meaning never!

What followed was two years of tears, trials and trauma, as 6 weeks in a wheel chair led onto 6 weeks on crutches and then finally onto walking, slowly beginning to jog and a lot of physio.   Just as his confidence to run began ebbing back he began complaining that the other side hurt.  We spoke to the surgeon who had an X-ray done that day and they operated on his other hip that afternoon.  Back to square one.   Another few days for me in the paediatric ward rushing up and down to grab food from the coffee shop.

Is that not enough for any young teenager to go through without mention of his poor parents who have had enough.  Two years on and we were back six weeks ago after they had tried to remove the pins.  One stubborn one would not be moved and they had to send over to America for the specialist equipment to get this tiny tenacious tack out.

This time it has all changed though; he is 16 and classed as an adult which I clearly dispute.  Having been here at the allotted time of 7.15am, he was finally called for and I was dispatched in the opposite direction, none of this motherly holding of hands as they put him to sleep now.

I left him in the hands of two capable nurses who worked in theatre and assured me they would take care of him.  I will not be called as in the past to bring him out of recovery back to the ward, I have been given a ward name, to go and see him on later.   A little stroll via the hospital chapel, a quiet place I also know well having spent a few hours there each time one of my children goes down to theatre before settling with a cappuccino to wait.

Hopefully this will be the end of a chapter and he will be fit and ready for this season’s even more brutal rugby as he moves from youth to colt.  At least in rugby he is not quite regarded as adult.

Several cappuccinos later and I know he is out of theatre and they are talking about discharging him today but I am not allowed access yet to him.   I don’t care when he turns into an adult he will always need his mother particularly in times of stress and operations.  I am going to find him now and probably embarrass him by creating a scene about him needing me.  Underneath the embarrassment I hope he will be happy to see me.


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PS  I found him eventually having been sent on a wild goose chase around the hospital.  He eventually called me and told me he was still in recovery and as no-one could find me, he could not go home.  Almost jogging with excitement; I arrived to see him sitting up, dressed, signs of recently eaten toast at his side and eager to get going.   They had been calling me on one phone at home, despite me leaving my mobile number with them.  I had been calling on the other line, never the two spoke to each other!

The pin came out in minutes and although still rather tired he had come straight out of the anaesthetic without his usual sickness and long drawn out recovery.

Chapter closed.   Hopefully!


Growing Pains

Sometimes you do wonder how much bad luck you are able to take?   How can some people and families sail through life with no real life changing scares, upsets or worries and other families get the worst of all scenarios.

I remember a close friend of mine, we both worked together and ended up job sharing as we both went part time together.  We both had three boys all within days of each other.  Her three were all planned, she thrived in pregnancy and they were born quickly and easily without problem.  Mine may have been planned but came along bringing with them, miscarriages, emergency C-sections and a spell in special care baby unit.

Commenting on my struggles she told me that I was the strong one and that was why things happen to me.  She said she could not have coped with the trauma and that is why all the bad stuff all seemed to happen to me.   


Arrow marks the spot!

No 1 Son had to have an operation yesterday, it was a simple operation would only take a few minutes and he would walk out later in the day.    At the crack of dawn we arrived at the quiet empty hospital at the appointed time to be booked in.   We still endured a two hour wait before the moment arrived.  

There was a marked change in this operation to his previous ones.  At 16 he was deemed an adult, the staff consulted with him; asked if he had questions, told him what they were planning to do and he had to sign the permission form.  To be fair they did include me as I was there with my list of ifs and buts.    As the nurses came to get us, we started to walk down to the prep room; I was gently directed in the opposite direction.   It is not my favourite past-time watching my children be put to sleep but I do feel it is my right as a parent and at 16 he is still my little boy.  I waved him off, guilt ridden at leaving him to be escorted by two albeit friendly motherly nurses promising to take care of him.

There would be no call from recovery for me to help him come round but he would be up on the ward in about an hour and I could see him there; he had his mobile and would call when he got there.

After nearly two hours of waiting, wondering and worrying I moved to debating, deliberating and deciding to get another coffee, knowing the minute I did they would call.  I got up and picked up my phone and bag.  Ping, ping, ping went the phone as I moved a fraction; to where I got a fleeting signal.   Two messages from Sexy Sporty Dad and one missed call from a blocked number.   I tore up the stairs, no time to wait for the lift to arrive then dawdle its slow passage upwards.   Finding the ward I looked around for staff or someone to tell me where my son was.   A nurse began checking, no they had not called and definitely no-one had come back from theatre to the ward yet.   But had they not rung me?  No!

Perplexed and anxious I turned to go, maybe I would get my coffee after all.   Another nurse rushed up and asked if I was No 1 Son’s mother?   Yes, at least someone seemed to know he was coming to this ward.   Then the punch;   the surgeon needed to speak to me could I go to theatre.  

Woooo!  Winded!  Why would the surgeon need to speak to me.   Half running, slowing to stop that sick feeling flooding my stomach, I fled through the corridors of the hospital back to the theatre waiting room.  “Are you….?” “Yes yes,” I panted “I know he wants to talk to me where is he?”  Probably, I realise now “he” is not the correct way to refer to this God like character you have entrusted your child to; but etiquette was not uppermost in my mind.

“Take a seat” was the answer.    

The lovely nurse who had looked after him earlier came and found me.  I jumped and turned to her.   She told me he was fine but the surgeon wanted to explain what had happened.    At least he was fine whatever fine was; but that niggling pain in my chest knew things had not gone as we hoped.

The surgeon did appear himself, to explain that only one side had been done and that they could not remove the pin from his other hip.   They were sending away to the US for equipment to remove the second one and could we come in next week.   No we were about to leave for France.  He was happy to do it the following week just before he himself left for a month’s holiday.

I know he was out of the operation because I had been speaking to the surgeon; but not allowed to go and see him in recovery, I returned to the ward to await his arrival.  Nothing in a hospital is quick and I endured yet another wait of an hour and a half, before my son was finally brought up to the ward.  I was going to have to give him the news it hadn’t gone as planned. He was going to be upset and angry and guess who would bear the brunt of this. Choosing my words carefully and re-writing them in my head before I told him, I tentatively asked how he was. 

“Do you know?”  He asked, yes I already knew but how did he know.  He had heard the nurses in recovery talking as he drifted in and out of sleep. 

Unlike his brother Middle Son who comes out of anaesthetic hungry and running, No 1 Son is very sick which he continued to be till late into the night, meaning he was unable to reach the targets to allow him to come home with me.

Children’s wards are great, tea and coffee on tap for stressy parents.  A bed in the cupboard pulls down to allow those same stressy parents somewhere to sleep.    Extra food is snuck onto the child’s plates to feed an additional mouth.  The care of your child is very much your responsibility.   No 1 Son at 16 is an adult on an adult male surgical ward.  There are no facilities for visitors.  In fact visiting is a short timed affair to which I did not adhere in the slightest.    The patient is responsible for his own welfare and asking for his needs.  A suddenly shy suffering sick teenager did not know what he wanted or needed except to be better.

I could not leave my little boy on his own in this alien environment still being sick from the anaesthetic.   I outstayed all the other visitors, and ran around finding things to make him feel better and in control.   He had the nurse call button just in reach, the bed control unit to raise or lower his head.  I placed his bag within reach knowing he had his book and phone in it, and an extra £5 note; just in case!  His table had drinks on which when he felt better he might enjoy and I also managed to pay for him to have 24 hour access to the TV/Radio/Telephone unit which together we managed to get not only the internet but his facebook page.  Reluctantly I did have to take my leave so with heavy heart and dull ache in my stomach, not only from not having eaten all day I wandered alone through the now spookily deserted hospital. 

Sexy Sporty Dad had come in to visit earlier in the afternoon but had been delayed by the car breaking down and having to call out the AA.  The starter motor had gone.    This is the car we are driving to France in today, the same car that had been in for a service all week checking it adheres to all the French regulations.     My tiny little car will not fit three growing boys in the back with any luggage for more than a few miles; we have 5 hours of continent driving.  Sexy Sporty Dad did manage with a bit of co-ercing to persuade the garage to squeeze in the extra job this morning; I have no doubt it will cost us.

I have managed to delay the ferry for a day to allow No 1 Son a little longer to recover, and we will be able to attend a family party en route to the ferry port.   What I could not do was change the booking with Travelodge to stay at the ferry port tonight. 

“I am sorry we can only change like for like and the price is different the night you wish to return.”

“I am willing to pay the extra just to change it”

“No the price is £30 cheaper per night per room.  Sorry we cannot change it for you!”   Where oh where is the logic in that!   So providing No 1 Son is feeling ok we are going and we will use the room.

Are we not entitled to now just enjoy a little good luck to take with us, maybe Harry Potter could spare me a small bottle of Felix Felicis, if I promise not to use it to win all the gold medals at the Olympics!

And in a couple of weeks we will revisit hospital and do it all again………


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Best of British

Best of British

Last weekend, I imagine like a lot of people I stayed up till 11.02 to watch Andy Murray win his nail biting match.  Like the Duchess of Cambridge a few days later each point was a whole array of enhanced emotions.   Before each of his serves I offered a small silent prayer for him to serve an ace.  This of course would have cut the game very short and the pleasure of millions of viewers would have been seriously reduced.  For me however I would not have held my breath so long, my blood pressure would not have risen and my stomach would not have felt the power of every stroke.

As a nation we watch a lot of sport and we often cheer our team on hoping for victory only to be bitterly disappointed and angry when the sports men and women do not deliver our dream.

Roy Hodgson took on a near impossible task accepting the management of an England football squad weeks before the most important tournament they will play this year.  We wanted him to train the team to perfection and bring home a European cup in a fraction of a moment.  To be fair I think we got further in the tournament than many people expected, but one small victory taking us through the qualifying stages got the whole country “what if –ing”.

We may not be the best at everything we enter but we do put up the teams and take the challenge to our hearts.  Each year we attempt to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest knowing that despite all the rules and suggestions of un-bias, Boznia and Herzegovina will vote for Azerbaijan, Spain will vote for Portugal and Finland will always vote for Sweden, Iceland and Denmark.  We take part, the people of this country get behind our act and buy the record, download it and tune in to watch or listen on the night; cheering each time we get a point.

No one can challenge our determination, dedication or discipline when it comes to training, but sometimes maybe we just lack that killer instinct.   We are very dismissive of the German single-mindedness in their bid to beat us at everything.   Even if we were quietly albeit mistakenly confident at beating Italy in the football; we knew the next battle looming would be our old adversary Germany, in a hard fought battle that offered a place in the final as a by-product of winning the match.  Winning is as much a part of the inner psyche of the mind as it is tip-top conditioning and training.  Our upper crust gentlemanly British character is not what winners are made of.

Maybe 2012 is our year.  We have all pulled together to give our monarch a celebration to remember.  All over this country and the Commonwealth street parties brought communities together in joyous festive mood in spite of the weather declining to play fair.  We do pomp and ceremony better than anyone else in the world, drawing on the experience of hundreds of years’ worth of historical celebrations.

We have the Olympics about to kick off in less than 3 weeks, with the torch having been carried round the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  95% of the population have been no further than 10 miles from the path of the torch which is an incredible feat in itself.  Many thousands of people have thronged the way to lend voice to the journey.   We are about to welcome the whole world into our tiny island to produce a competition of the finest athletes and sports people this island has ever seen.  Team GB members have been training, competing and preparing for these two weeks over the last four years, in order to be at their most fittest, most fastest and most focused.

Britain can be great and win major tournaments.  We have won the Rugby World cup in recent years leading to a fabulous interest and take up of the sport.   The England cricket team ping pong with success then failure as the country follows play.  We can claim two world champion formula 1 drivers in two consecutive years who may not play as a country team but I suspect nobody is concerned whether the championship is won by Ferrari, Maclaren, Williams or Lotus as long as one of our guys come in first and hopefully second.  Young Tom Daly took another European title on his 18th birthday and hopefully will give us even more in the coming weeks.  So out there we do have the competitors ready to fly the flag for us all here.

This week in particular we have had a roller coaster ride of emotions at Wimbledon; who can forget the wonderful picture of Heather Watson as she got through to the third round.  The sheer joy in her face was enough for the whole country to erupt with joy.

Today as I write I must give the Tour de France boys a mention.  It is a fine line we tread in this house when it comes to watching TV in the evenings.  Both the cycling and tennis highlights are on, with Sexy Sporty Dad watching and even understanding the complex scoring system of the peloton and sprinting riders.  Our very own Mark Cavendish has done incredibly well winning the green jersey one day then spectacularly crashing out the next.  Thankfully he was not badly injured and was back on his bike shortly after; although his rival completed the sprint finish that day to win back the jersey.   His team mate our own Bradley Wiggins has the end of the race firmly in his sites finishing last night in the lead much to the joy in our household.

I joined in having just watched the most wonderful tennis match which saw the young British wild card entry of Jonathan Marray and his partner Friederik Nielson not only take on the might of the mens’ doubles final but to win the trophy.   A magical journey had just ended with the most fairytale ending possible.  If you wrote this in a book it would be slated as unrealistic and imaginary.

flying the flag

I do realise that as you read this you already know the result of the Federer / Murray battle for the Wimbledon 2012 championship whilst I am waiting for the start of the match.  There is so much hype with Andy Murray holding the weight of millions of people’s expectations on his young shoulders.   Whatever the outcome of the match, Andy Murray is a winner who hopefully will motivate youngsters all over the country to get out and enjoy the game.  Even if they do not aspire to Wimbledon champion, just to get them out in the fresh air running around and enjoying themselves thanks to the inspiration he gives them is a winning result.  And to the Sky team of Wiggins and Cavendish who instigate a passion in the children for bike riding and racing.

So to the Brits at Silverstone this weekend; make us proud, to the Tour de France cyclists; bonne chance,  and to Andy Murray – go Andy go!


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