Completing forms in the probate process

funeral flower 4

I thought this was a really useful guest post, and judging from the response on Twitter, one that is worth reading, despite the difficult topic.

Losing a loved one is one of the biggest traumas we’re most likely to face and that trauma is compounded by the fact that you’ll probably have to sort out their practical and financial affairs. This will include making the necessary arrangements to distribute their financial assets if there is no spouse. The right to do this is called probate. Continue reading

Pretty in Pink: Bloggers Race for Life in Nottingham

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With the Race for Life only one sleep away, Annie aka Mammasaurus and I, sneak a gin to numb ourselves before bed. Next morning after a fuzzy awakening, much tea and an hour in make up, with a professional aka Miss L, and we’re good to go.

Cancer we’re coming to get you… Continue reading

Racing for Life

I am doing Cancer Research’s Race for Life Nottingham on Sunday, with a blogging team supported by Brioche Pasquier. It’s not the 5k that worries me though, it’s the emotion of the day. I lost my mum to brain cancer, that’s her above in a canvas I had printed recently.

The last time I did the Race for Life Nottingham, I found being surrounded by people wearing dedications to people they are running for, both comforting and utterly overwhelming.

Mum lost her Dad to cancer, before I was born. When I was small, I remember her taking part in a raft building challenge and collecting money for Cancer Research. So I will be running for the Grandad I never met, and for Mum.

Mum had a grade 4 brain tumour, which we knew from the start was always going to come back. However, cancer treatment meant we had two years and a half with Mum we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I was pregnant when she was diagnosed, so it meant she got to meet Mr G, it also means Miss L can remember her and has been influenced by her in many ways. After the first tumour was removed and her first course or radiotherapy and chemotherapy she was in good shape for a year and we packed in lots of adventures together.

Unfortunately a second tumour appeared and nearly a year after she had surgery to remove it, she lost her incredibly brave fight with cancer. My Grandad died shortly before I was conceived. I will always wonder, how perhaps nowadays, with treatment, if I could have met him.

Here is the link to the fundraising page

There is also a £1 text giving donation facility set up, please donate a pound – text BLOG99 to 70070. 

Brioche Pasquier offered to kickstart our team with £250,  its the company’s first ever UK fundraising campaign to support Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, they have two promotions running to reach their fundraising goal of £15,000.

The ‘Run with Mum’ promotion, now available on the Pitch range, is to encourage you to run with your children by covering a single child’s £10 entry fee for 1,000 pairs of little legs.

 

The second promotion, ‘Raise Some Dough’, available throughout June and July across all products, gives you the opportunity to win donations of up to £100 to send to friends or family taking part in a Race for Life event through their JustGiving page – or alternatively you can simply donate to the Brioche Pasquier Race for Life team.

 

Also keep an eye out for Brioche Pasquier products at the Race for Life events, as every runner will be offered a tasty ‘PITCH’ filled brioche.

 

To find out how you can get involved and take advantage of these fantastic offers, visit www.briochepasquier.co.uk.

 

Here is the link to the fundraising page or text BLOG99 to 70070 to donate a £1.
Thanks for your support

What do the images in your home mean to you?

I read a list of decluttering tips that made me rather sad recently. It suggested going back to the Victorian trend of reserving photo frames in your home only for people who are dead. For me images in my home are about capturing life: adventures, moments, people and feelings you want to remember.

When I was asked to review a next day delivery canvas service from Your Image 2 Canvas, I immediately knew I wanted pictures that would remind me of our outdoor adventures. Pictures that would bring the outdoors inside and encourage us to continue to get out. I haven’t quite decided where to put them up yet as we are in the midst of a huge reorganisation, so I thought it was appropriate to photograph them outdoors. Continue reading

Boosting children’s memory and language using photobooks

At this time of year my head always turns to the exploding files of pictures on my laptop. A while back I decided to embrace being part of the digital generation and to stop worrying about them. My kids as grown ups would only ever want to see so many pictures of themselves as kids, so if I lost a few hundred along the way no problem, representative bits were printed out, framed or on the blog.

But I promised myself I would still make some photo books online. Continue reading

Memory Book – Hobbies and Collections

Memory Book is a monthly slot where I write down some memories for my children, there’s a theme each month, and a linky, more info here. But if you want to choose your own theme, or do an old prompt that’s fine, the idea is just to set aside a time each month to write something down. When I’ve collected a few I am going to turn them into a book. In fact I just won a Blurb photobook, so I’m thinking about experimenting with that?

Some weeks I spend hours writing, sometimes I only have minutes, but having a regular slot means something always gets committed to the memory bank. I’m only on number 5 but I’m finding the ideas are coming thicker, and faster. Today I have 20 minutes before I have a work call, so here goes.

Dear L and G

You’re at the age where you are starting to want to collect things, Moshi Monsters, Lego mini figures, expensive tiny plastic trophies that come in shiny packaging, but pack huge cultural collateral when it comes to the playground.

I remember my Back to the Future sticker album, the football stickers I joined in with collecting only because everyone else in the playground did. I wasn’t even that interested in football, but it seemed to be a good leveller.

Then it was frogs, I had a huge collection of plastic frogs, and pigs for a bit.  They were really vile ornaments. Then I found an old printers block full of little squares and over the years filled it with special bits and pieces.  In Year 9 I had to do a presentation in front of the class, so I did it on my bedroom, I brought in all the things I had collected, from a tiny silver button with a swallow on, that had once belonged to a British Rail conductor, to the tiny sweet and medicine tins I’d found at antique fairs. The whole class was fascinated. Perhaps this is where you both get your love of collecting little things.

Nowadays I am much more wary of small things, a feng shui expert said hoarding small things can suggest you don’t believe you are worthy of bigger things, small things certainly take up a lot of your time and energy as you get older, especially when you have children.

Nowadays my hobby is writing. Writing this blog, writing articles and even writing stories when I get the time. Writing leaves memories, clears my head, but doesn’t leave me cluttered by physical stuff.

What about the rest of the family? My Grandad was an amazing tomato grower and gardener, I wrote all about that in The Majestic Bee Matador. His Dad, Your great great Grandad kept chickens. Grandad A has an amazing stamp collection, cooks, birdwatches and bakes bread. Grandma J can paint icons. There’s an artistic gene in Daddy’s side of the family. Gran loved to sew and made rag dolls and clothes. We both loved to crochet but have bags full of unfinished projects.  The people who aced knitting in this family are my Auntie C, my Grandma, my Gran and Daddy’s Grandma. Our house is full of Great Grandma J’s knitted blankets. I wish I could teach you but I need to reteach myself first.

My Gran E knitted my teddy bears’ coat, I will never forget it arriving from Edinburgh in a parcel, my Mum sewed some pyjamas for him that birthday too, and Grandma knitted cardigans for us, for our dolls, for my first day at secondary school. And she baked, Victoria sponges, cherry cupcakes, although I’m not sure she would have called that a hobby like I call baking a hobby now.  It was her job. Her treacle toffee was a treat.

Daddy and I have hobbies that became work though.  Daddy likes video games, I like writing. I also like making films, that was an old job, teaching film, that became a hobby when I stopped teaching.

So hobbies and collections are such important things. I can’t wait to find out what your hobbies will be, and where they will take you.

Love

Mummy

xx

Feel free to share your memories in the comments or to link up a post, happy memory capturing! Next month’s theme is Christmas, Thursday 27th December.

Mini beasts Memory Book 4

After reading Memory Book 1 at Britmums conference at the weekend I suddenly realised it’s the last Thursday of the month and so the day I promised to do a Memory Book.  Sorry for the lapse last month, I’m really fired up to do this now. Are you joining me this month? Simply write about a memory, something for your children to look back on.  I will sort out some prompts and put them on the Little Legacy page if that would help for future months?

Dear Miss L

You are 5, approaching your last weeks in reception class. We drop off Mr G at pre school, peeling him from my leg. Hot and bothered we step out into a balmy June day and walk round the corner to school. The clouds look ominous and the combination of sticky heat, house-moving woes and your school sports week are making us tired and irritable.

Time is ticking, but you, as always, are on a different time zone.  You stop to pick a flower, to rescue a snail, to follow a lady bird. Nature unfurls for you, pulls you into it’s timeless zone and absorbs you completely.

I go to hurry you and then stop myself, every day I see so much of my Mum in you. The woman who never lost this childish fascination with nature, who always had time to stop and notice a flower, a beetle, a bug or a butterfly.  I remember walking on the South Downs with her when I was 20, her stopping endlessly to identify flowers, whilst I strode on impatiently, wanting to cover more ground.

I remember her digging the weeds from between the Victorian tiles in our garden in Nottingham, yet leaving tiny mosses and flowers, all of which she knew by name.  She told me she learnt all that when she was still breastfeeding me, but desperate to keep her mind ticking. Whenever your great Grandad (Mum’s father-in-law) would put weed killer on the moss in his prize garden, mum would complain bitterly to me.

In 2001 Mum wrote a letter all about her time at primary school for the school’s Fifties Day, she wrote: ‘The huge playing field was wonderful, looking out towards more fields and woods in the distance, I’m afraid I was a bit of a dreamer, I would often be staring out of the windows watching the birds, the view or simply the rain or snow.’ Sometimes I envy you both this ability to day dream so well.

Like you Mum watched Children’s BBC, but it was different in the 1950s, she wrote  ‘Another programme I enjoyed was called Nature, where Mr Collins and a boy called Tony would go into the countryside and watch or talk about whatever was happening…birds, flowers, insects, the weather and so on. Nowadays I think that there would be a girl as well as Tony!’

Your Gran taught you to find bugs, worms and spiders when you were two, by poking gently under leaves and stones with a stick.  Now I see how much that day meant. Last night you pointed out caterpillar eggs to me and knew the green bugs in the garden were shield bugs.  You look everything up in your minibeasts book.  You are full of surprises these days. Your Gran would be proud of you.

So we cut holes in a flora tub and made a nest for the caterpillar eggs, just as I did when I was 5. The memories came flooding back, my Dad watching us from the veg patch in our garden in Stone, as we plucked caterpillars from his cabbages and saved his veg from being munched. Mum calling out ‘ENOUGH caterpillars!’ as we merrily gathered them up and rehomed them.

Now I find myself snapping flowers that have guerrilla gardened themselves into our lives and thinking of you both. (Aresidence on Instagram).

Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by inspiring people. Memory book is my plan to turn these in to a memory book for my kids. Feel free to link up a little legacy or memory you’ve been thinking about this month, or to leave one in the comments. Here’s the code and here’s more on Little Legacy

@AResidence

The time travelling mini metro

It hit me at 2am last year.  Prior to that I’d been singing The Artic Monkeys – Mardy Bum at the top of my lungs out on the decking in our back garden, surrounded by many of my nearest and dearest.  The wind had got up and the last of my guests had started to call taxis, but I could have carried on singing all night.

My brother and his girlfriend helped me load the dishwasher, wished me Happy Birthday and went to bed, and it was just me, the wind and the stars.

There had been a tough moment earlier in the day, when I saw just Dad’s name on my birthday card. That moment was about missing her,  I still wasn’t ‘getting’ the day’s bigger significance. At 2am it hit me. The anniversary of my birth. The day my mum gave birth to me. Being born. Sounds daft, but whenever the wind blows it always makes me think of her, and it was really howling then. It reminded me how she showed me the stars, my first ever little legacy.

Birthdays will never be quite the same without her. This year I’ve found the anniversaries are hitting me ahead of the day, instead of on or after. But I have the best people looking out for me tomorrow, and that makes me feel very lucky to have been born.

Earlier I stepped out the door into sunshine, just as a clapped out primula yellow Mini Metro chundered past.  It was exactly like the one mum used to drive, right down to the eighties hounds tooth pattern interior.  It looked completely out of place on the road, like it had travelled through time, like the Ford Cortina from Life on Mars. I watched it disappear in disbelief, a little blast from the past, and it made me laugh out loud.

@AResidence

The Ansaphone Message. Memory Book/Little Legacy

For weeks our ansaphone has been full, but there’s good reason why I let it get like this. Last night I finally deleted all the messages.  All except one. The one where my Mum called the night before she was coming to visit.  ‘If I need anything just call’ she says.  I listened to it again twice last night and wished so hard I could call, or that she was coming tomorrow.

Every time I drive past Wollaton Park in Nottingham I remember how she would call as she drove past it to let us know she and Dad were 10 minutes away.

Reminds me of an amazing poem, Long Distance II by Tony Harrison.

I love how he nails that idea of feeling connected and disconnected in equal measure.

Just a note to say I plan to do Memory Book on the last Thursday of the month now instead of weekly.  There’s so much going on in my life right now and I want the writing I do for it to be something really special. I will put a little legacy up from time to time.

@AResidence

Memory Book 2 – Will you have a sherry then?

My Memory Book is taking shape, although I see this project as quite a loose collection of memories and ideas, rather than a regimented family history.  I keep going back to the analogy of sewing a patchwork quilt. Perhaps this week you’ll join me, or maybe you’re still mulling, there’s lots to be said for letting the subconscious mind play with ideas on its own for a bit.

I realised I have some bits and pieces of ideas around my blog, and in my notebooks about my paternal Grandma, and so today I am going to stitch those together. She’s the only one of my grandparents to meet a great grandchild, in Grandma’s case it was L. She died just before G was due,  her funeral was two days before he was born.

There is something about seeing these hands I find so moving. So wise, they touched so much, held so much, helped so much, soothed so much.  Made so many flowers grow, baked so many cakes, prepared so many miners’ dinners as manager of the colliery canteen.

Even at 94 Grandma still loved to treat her friends and family with food. No one could escape from her Nursing Home without being offered sherry or chocolate. Grandma normally only drank one glass of sherry herself, but she was always the hostess to guests, keeping not just plates, but glasses full.   She was lucky to be surrounded by a wonderfully supportive group of neighbours and helpers who enabled her to remain in her own home so long, by regularly dropping by to check in on her. By all accounts it was very difficult to refuse a top up from such a gentle but insistent lady in her early nineties.  There were occasions when visitors stepped out of Grandma’s house, into the cool night air of Coronation Avenue, only to realise she had got them somewhat tipsy.

The picture above reminds me of some memories I jotted down in an old notebook after visiting with L.

Grandma eagerly turns the small gold biscuit tin round in her hands, loosening its lid. She eyes her 6 month old great granddaughter, lovingly. She has waited impatiently for this moment.

‘Will she have a little bit of chocolate?’ she smiles.

‘Sorry Grandma she’s not allowed it yet,’ I say.

‘Oh of course!’ Grandma laughs but she looks disappointed, she is desperate to be the first to treat her. Instead she settles for giving her a bottle of milk and laughs as L pulls at her glasses.

‘She’s eating well, that’s good then.’ Grandma seems satisfied for a moment and then she fidgets and looks round, sensing something is not quite right. She turns to me and smiles, ‘Will you have a sherry then?’

It’s three o’ clock on a Wednesday afternoon, but it seems rude to say no.

Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by inspiring people. Feel free to link up a little legacy you’ve been thinking about this week, or to leave one in the comments. Here’s the code and here’s more on Little Legacy.  Memory Book is my plan to make a family book of memories, join up and see where it takes you?

Next week I am either going to post about the joys of staying at my grandparents as a child, write more on food and treats, or document my Gran’s penchant for silly songs. Just in case that gives anyone any inspiration.

@AResidence