A visit to my grandparents brings new perspective

Posted on Aug 24, 2013 in Family | 0 comments

I’m lucky enough to still have a living grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side. I guess I am rather old-fashioned in this regard, but I really enjoy visiting them from time to time.

I’ve often wondered exactly why I enjoy a visit to my grandparents so much and apart from the fact that we are family, I think it’s because a visit to them forces me to forget about my busy life and concentrate on the things that really matter.

Normally I would rush from one meeting to the next and even at night I often have business dinners or have to study to keep abreast of developments in my field. So when I visit the grandparents it’s like moving to a different era and being forced to stand still for a moment.

They don’t welcome me with a glass of Scotch or wine. For them it’s still tea or coffee. And after enquiring about my health (elderly people love to talk about their health or the lack thereof) they very often start talking about the weather. That’s another subject on which both of them are experts.

If I visit over a weekend, I usually have no option but to stay for lunch. Anything else and they would be highly offended. And I have to be honest, my grandma is a master chef. Her stews in particular are so delicious that I regularly overeat myself when I’m there. I just miss a glass of red wine, but hey, you can’t always have it all can you?

When I drive back I often get a little philosophical and think about what makes sense in life and what not. One day, when I’m their age, how will I feel about the choices I made today?

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Blood is thicker than water

Posted on Apr 27, 2013 in Family | 0 comments

Water tapThey say that friends are better than family, because you can choose your friends, while your family, well you can’t choose them. In my case it’s always been a little different; I believe blood is thicker than water. Even if family members disagree about things now and again, they usually find a way to mend fences and get together again.

To quote just one example, I have a cousin who is highly conservative and those of you that know me will also know that I consider myself to be rather liberal and open-minded. Every now and again, my cousin Andy and I have slight differences of opinion, which might sometimes even get a little out of hand.

About a month ago we were driving back from a visit to an elderly relative when I said something that he considered to be highly obnoxious. I can’t even remember exactly what it was, but Andy must have thought that I had finally revealed myself as an enemy of solid family values, because he stopped the car right there and ordered me to get out. I stared at him in disbelief, but he was deadly serious. ‘Get out!’ he said – twice. So I got out and he sped off.

And there I was standing beside the road without any form of public transport within walking distance.  Fortunately, a burly local farmer took pity on me and gave me a lift. Less fortunately, his wife and teenage son were already sharing the front seat with him, so I had to get on the back with a couple of rather threatening looking pigs that first sniffed me and then made some decidedly disapproving noises.

If Andy had been merely a friend I would probably have broken his nose when I got back and we would never have seen each other again, but Andy is my cousin. A few days later he phoned to apologise and offered me his holiday home for free the next time I have a few days off. So that night we went for a few beers and toasted family ties.

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Time for Sunday lunch

Posted on Nov 10, 2012 in Family | 0 comments

It’s time to get together with the family, and gather around a perfect Sunday lunch.  I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks now; I’m feeling in need of it.  It is great to be able to head home and give the batteries a much-needed recharge in this way.  If chicken soup is supposed to be food for the soul, then a cracking Sunday lunch with the family has pretty much the same effect for me every time.  I love catching up with everyone, hearing their news, slipping back into sibling teasing and enjoying all the familiar childhood comforts of home.

Just walking through the front door and smelling the joint roasting in the oven, and finding my mum overseeing a hive of activity in the kitchen makes the world a much, much better place.  I’ve got so many happy memories of sitting around our big dining room table, arguing over which one of us gets the last bit of crispy crackling, or the flurry of forks stabbing at the roast potatoes the minute the dish appears in the middle of the table.  There is always some friendly teasing, and more than a few squabbles, and someone complaining about not wanting to eat their vegetables.  And when it all calms down a bit, and plates are cleared, it is time to make some room for Mum’s marvellous steamed pudding, or a fantastic fruit crumble with plenty of custard, which has to be Bird’s.  Happy times.  The faces around the table change as the years go by, but it is something that means a lot to me, and I hope there will be old and new faces around my table for many years to come.  Spending time like this does me the world of good, and leaves me ready to crack on and tackle whatever’s next.

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Family cruise fun

Posted on Oct 5, 2012 in Family | 0 comments

Enjoying the high life in the ocean wave is not just for those who have retired and are having fun travelling their way around different parts of the world. Cruising today encompasses all age groups as more and more people take to sea and all the activities and entertainment that modern cruise liners offer.

I’m thinking about trying out a short ‘taster’ cruise for a couple of nights or so to get a feel for what it’s all about. Chances are I’ll be so impressed that I’ll find it hard to wait for the main event, for a week or two, or even more!

Families are very well catered for on the majority of cruise ships, so if you’ve always thought it’s ‘adults only’ then prepare to think again. If you choose your cruise carefully you’ll find all manner of entertainment activities and sporting fun for the kids. Most ships have their own kids’ club areas, and the young ones are offered games and parties as well as discos. Trained staff are always on hand so your little ones are in a safe place whilst you can potter off for a spot of personal pampering at a spa or just relaxing on deck in the sun.

Some ships even have hangout lounges for teens, and they can also participate in a wide variety of sports and virtual games, such as surfing simulators or Formula One racetracks. I think that’s some stuff I’d definitely go for as well! Swimming pools are also on the menu with fun water slides and sometimes a ship’s own water park.

Kids can also enjoy spectacular shows in comfortable theatres or musical treats in bars or concert rooms, and when it comes to food even the faddiest young eater will be tempted by the magnificent selections at buffets, poolside barbecues or restaurants.

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Expert advice to help with your exam essays

Posted on Sep 28, 2012 in Family | 0 comments

Education can be a tough business, especially when you’re struggling with completing that essay for your course. It doesn’t matter if you’re at an early stage of your educational life and studying for GCSEs, a stage further and taking AS and A Levels, or studying for an International Baccalaureate or a university degree. Sometimes you need some extra help, and that’s where Marked by Teachers can provide you with the assistance you really need.

I’ve discovered that Marked by Teachers offers a range of services to help you get the very best out of your essays. Originally set up by students, it has many thousands of essays on the site that can be accessed instantly when you join. You can examine essays that have been written by students at all levels to find out initially what makes a good essay, and because new essays are added all the time, you can learn all the time from fresh examples. I’ve certainly learnt a lot about subjects I didn’t know much about just by choosing a few at random.

It doesn’t matter what subject or subjects you are studying, you will be able to find something that is relevant to you. Many essays have been reviewed by A* students and you can get an insight from this peer reviewing process into the sort of essays that get good grades.

Essays are also critiqued by experienced teachers, offering helpful comments, summaries and notes. You can download however many essays you like, keeping them for as long as you need them, and the aim is for you to be inspired by the new ideas you encounter and the advice you get to write your own high quality essays.

Don’t worry about that well-known curse of the education world, plagiarism. All essays on the site are registered on the anti-plagiarism body Turnitin, the UK’s largest such body and one used by world-renowned universities and colleges. I found the site very inspiring and think it would be really helpful for students at all levels.

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Ant’s words, my interpretation.

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 in Family | 0 comments

So, this is getting to the crux of the conversation we have been exploring over the last couple of weeks.

Don’t worry – this isn’t all we’ve talked about, we had an amazing, and quite heartfelt digression into his options with his sort of girlfriend and daughter in Ireland, we talked of homosexual friends and our own thoughts on the matter, we talked football, and played games and all sorts of shit.

And smoked like kids on their first holiday alone.

Anyway. You have kids and then you’re thirty something.

And they take up ever more time and money and you are torn between your love for them, your desire for a life for yourself and your other great need – to do a good job at work, get promoted, earn more, help oil the wheels of the whole process.

And then you are in your forties and they go off to university, or leave home and start work (if you’re lucky).

And for the first time since you were born life is suddenly yours to an extent.

Except that now although there is new stuff in the world all the time, and technology is racing forward faster than it ever has, you can’t be bothered to keep up with most of it as long as the telly works OK and you’re not missing out too badly.

You’re a bit knackered, and your job probably isn’t as secure as it once was.

And everything around you needs work. Your house. Your marriage. Your kids still need your money.

And you ask what the fook it’s all about!

And that’s just what men have to contend with, what about women? Fortunately neither of us are too concerned for now about them.


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