Thursday, 6 June 2013

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Moving on - I have a new blog. Please read

Breaking News! I have a new blog.

To all the lovely people who stop by Home Office Mum - or HOM HOM HOM as it's latterly been known, please can I ask you to all redirect your RSS feeds, blog rolls and general visits to my new blog  as that is where my new blogging home will be.

Home Office Mum will probably always be my blogging name, but it's time for me to move on. My new blog - Talk About York - will track our imminent move to the North, life in a northern city, city living vs country living, reviews of places to go and things to do in York. I hope it will be a mix of my normal ramblings coupled with actual useful content for anyone wanting to visit the city.

Starting a new blog is hard and probably stupid as it means building followers from scratch but it was time. So please, please, please can you add my new blog to your blog rolls and come visit my new home on the web. Help me spread the word. I've even created a Facebook page for it (I know, get me) so you can like me on that too if you. I am still tinkering with and tweaking the new blog, so bare with me. But it's up and ready for readers.

Thanks to everyone who has followed HOM and posted comments over these last few years. You have been lovely.

And to my first ever little blog, thanks for all the evenings you kept me and a glass of wine company. You were a thing I could open my heart to. You didn't mind if I spoke nonsense. You didn't judge. You seemed perfectly content being neglected from time to time, always waiting for me when I was ready to return. You've been a friend I could turn to at times I felt alone. I'll come back and visit often. Because you hold so much of my history.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Write to remember

Something has happened to me over the last few days. I've wanted to write again. I went off blogging for a while. I'm not sure why. I just didn't feel like I had anything to say. Or rather I did, but I could compress it all into a Facebook status or Twitter update. I'm a sharer. I have thoughts and I share them. Not everyone is like this I've come to realise. I've also come to realise that just because I am, doesn't make it wrong. But I felt for a while that perhaps blogging was wrong. And it was time consuming. So I stopped.

Anyway I started writing this month. Nothing sexy. Just work stuff. But as I started to write, I felt the dust on the writing cogs start to waft up, spiderwebs softly easing away. 

I began to reread my blog. I realised how incredibly grateful I am that I have this amazingly thorough and emotional diary of such a specific time in my life. I began wishing, as I read it, that I had written down how I felt directly after the birth of my children, their baby years (which I cannot remember any of), pregnancy, life before parenthood (I recently found some old emails written from that time - how different and selfish it was), that period in my life before I met my husband when I was lost, the heartbreak of a first love break up, my first ever travels around the world with the wonder and awe that it brought on, the joy of freedom at leaving school and all the turmoil of teenage years and childhood. How insightful and useful it would be to read now what I was going through then. 

I then went to look at my sailing blog and discovered that it was gone. It was self-hosted rather than a free bloggger site and I'd stopped paying for hosting. I don't know if there's some way to get it back. But I felt heartbroken that it was gone. It captured all I felt at a very specific time of my life. And now it's lost to the ether, leaving me with what I think I felt, rather than what I actually felt.

I realised (belatedly) that I am going through a really big thing right now. We're moving. Again. I'm leaving behind all the friendships and networks that it's taken me six years to build up. I don't know if what we're doing is right but, us being us, we're doing it. I should be capturing how I feel, what I'm doing. My life right now is blog-fodder-tastic. And yet I've shied away from writing any of it. 

I don't even know if I will keep writing as voraciously as I did. But I do know that a blog is something worth cherishing. I want to find the time to write it, even if no-one in the world reads it. I say that, but it's someone else reading it that lead me to write this post. 

I received today an email from a lady who I don't know, but who read a blog post of mine from 2010. She took the time out of her day to email me to thank me for writing the post as it helped her. How awesome is that? She didn't need to do that. She could have read my blog, taking what she needed from it and gone on her way. But she didn't. She stopped to say thank you. And even though I don't know her, nor she me, I felt a connection with a complete stranger on the other side of the world. Perhaps I'm odd, but it's little things like that which fill me with an 'everything is all right with the world' feeling.

There was one other reason for writing this blog post. I have had a glass of wine (that's not the reason although may be the lubricating factor). I had the glass of wine in honour of a man I seldom think of because I never knew him. My grandfather. He would have been 100 years old today. Except he died when he was a lot younger than that. I want to say he was 43 but I'm probably wrong. He died when my father was a young boy. I've always thought about him as my father's father, my poor father who didn't have a father when he needed one. But I've rarely thought about him as my grandfather. Much less my children's great grandfather.  But today I want him remembered. Even if it's just on this tiny corner of the internet.  I want it noted and remembered in writing. Lest we forget. Here's to Arthur Charles Collier the 1st. 

And while I'm making's to writing. 


Friday, 24 February 2012

A rolling stone gathers no moss

I can't promise I'm back in the blogosphere for long but I felt an update was long overdue. If you have followed my blog for some time, you will know that in Home Office Mum world, things seldom stay settled for long.

This time last year we were making a major decision about whether to move to Seattle. We decided against. We decided to bloom where we were planted and make the most of where we lived. So we did. We got stuck into all manner of local initiatives and events and good causes, from being cricket club treasurer to PTA fundraiser to allotment sub-committee member. Then I decided that I needed a new career. So I sold my PR business and went on a (brief) journey to decide what I wanted to do next.

And I chose a new career - buying a franchise covering the area in which we live. If anything was going to keep us rooted, that was. Right?

Then on Boxing Day, my husband and I went for a walk across the fields. We looked at the beautiful countryside and I commented that I absolutely loved it but it would never be home to me, as home is in South Africa. I asked my husband where home was for him. He's from Barnsley. Hardly the most appealing town in Britain. He was quick to reply that it wasn't Barnsley. But after a few more quiet strides over the bumpy tracks, he said: 'But Yorkshire is.'

We continued walking along mulling our own thoughts quietly in our heads.

A few days later we went for another walk. This time my husband announced that he'd been thinking about the idea of Yorkshire again and felt he'd actually really quite like to return there.

Seriously? Further North? Even colder? Not even by the sea? But when my husband gets a bee in his bonnet, he doesn't rest until the problem is sorted. By the second week of January we were visiting schools, strolling around suburbs and walking the city walls of York.

After one flying visit, we agreed, we shall follow in the footsteps of that Grand Old Duke and move to York. Within a month, our eldest son had written entrance exams for his selected school (and been accepted), our house put on the market and moving plans put in place. What I shall do workwise is still a bit of a quandary.

Come summer, we will be swapping the rural countryside of West Berkshire for bustling city living in York. At the time of making the decision it seemed like a good idea. It still does in theory.

But when you have a perfectly lovely life, walking away from it for something which is completely different is terrifying. I have to start from scratch making friends. I won't be able to walk out my door and be in beautiful countryside. My children won't be one of 40 kids in a school, they'll be one of 400. I'll have to start building business contacts from scratch. We'll live in a far smaller house, probably with no garden vs our lovely house we have now. I'll be living in the North where people say ey up and ta luv!

Yet we had a our reasons. We'd be closer to my husband's elderly mum. We get to live in a beautiful city, renowned for its friendly people, a trait many southerners seem to have lost. We can afford private schooling there and the school is great. It's two hours to London, two hours to Edinburgh, 45 minutes to the North Yorkshire Moors, 45 minutes to the sea.

Most importantly, we just couldn't see ourselves growing old where we live. I don't know why, but we've been restless since we got here. Maybe we will always be restless. Maybe we'll never put down roots - which flies in the face of my wanting a sense of belonging. But part of me loves that we have a new adventure, with new places to explore and new people to meet.

I imagine as this year rolls on and the decision becomes more real and we have to say farewell to friends and our home, rich with memories of our children turning from babies to boys, it's going to get tough. Possibly involving tears.

But life for us is not about sitting comfortably in a spectator seat watching as the view very gradually changes over time. It's about taking risks, making our own motion picture, so that by the time the end credits roll up, it's been some fascinating viewing.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Going quiet

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo. Again. I've also noticed that a number of the bloggers I follow have been posting less frequently. I've been reading fewer blogs. I've been getting fewer comments. And I've had less to say.

I've been in this place before. Ironically, almost as soon as I say that I'm taking a break from blogging, I get inspired to blog about something, which is why I'm not saying: 'Farewell forever'. I'm just saying: 'I'm off for a bit'. 

My new business is now getting up and running. You can watch this video to find out more about what I'm going to be doing. I did my first bit of outreach today to a potential (big) customer and got a really positive response - getting to meet them next week! That, together with all the pre-christmas fund-raising I've been doing for the school and local village hall etc etc etc (as blogged about here), is probably what has sapped my blogging energy. 

So I'm going to go quiet for a bit. In the immortal words of that 80s Glass Tiger classic 'Don't forget me when I'm gone...'

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Black Tuesday

Pic from  TimesLive
In 2009 the Telegraph newspaper, using investigative journalism, uncovered a huge MP's expenses scandal. The results saw MPs resigning, being investigated, made to pay back money and in at least one case, imprisoned. 

Now let's imagine that instead of having the Freedom of Information Act which we have here in the UK, we have a brand new bill that has just been passed by South African MPs today - the The Protection of State Information Bill.  Under this bill, anyone possessing classified government documents can get up to 25 years in jail, with no defence of 'acting in the public interest'. 259 MPs voted in favour of the bill. Only 32 against.  As one commentator said:  'All those in favour of corruption:259. All those against:32'

Had we had this bill in the UK during the expenses scandal, the journalists uncovering the story would have been facing 25 year sentences instead of receiving journalism awards.

South Africa is the gateway to Africa, the country which, post apartheid, was meant to be a shining example to the rest of the continent on how to thrive. Yet with this single piece of legislation, the country is returning to the dark days of apartheid whereby it was illegal to speak out against the government. 

Wake up world. Wake up journalists. Take note. This is has severe implications for press freedom. Shouldn't more people outside of SA know about it?  As far as I can see, so far just the BBC have reported on this. 

Yes America might be anticipating Black Friday this week (the day after Thanksgiving when Americans begin their Christmas shopping in earnest). But personally, I think a few column inches could be given to South Africa's Black Tuesday instead.

PS - back to light-hearted flippancy shortly.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

It's for charidee mate

It's that time of year. You know, when you spend a fortune on stuff for others. And no, I'm not talking about Christmas gifts for family and friends. I'm talking about cha-ri-dee mate (in the words of Smashy and Nicey).

Charity: (noun) The voluntary giving of help, typically money, to those in need.

Now, I'm not saying that any of the causes are not worthy. In fact I am a supporter of them all. But there comes a point where you think your pockets might just start presenting lint instead of pennies. 

Like this:

It started out slowly: about three weeks ago, we had to donate a pound so that the kids could go to school dressed as a hero. The pound went to Help for Heroes. 

A few days after that we had to empty our homes of old clothes to donate to bags2school.

Then of course it was poppy season so every time we went anywhere we donated again to collect an entire bunch of poppies because obviously I never remembered to wear the poppies I had and so always felt guilty about not having one on.

Then we needed to donate prizes for bingo and the Christmas Fair. In exchange the kids could go to school out of uniform. 

Then it was school bingo - spend your Friday night paying to win a prize which you have donated to the school. 

On Wednesday this week, I should have gone to a quiz night held by a local organisation to raise funds for a campaign against the installation of an incinerator. But I was away. But I'll be donating my time tonight to attend the committee meeting for this organisation, so that counts.

Similarly, on Friday we should be going to the quiz night at the local rugby club as they're trying to raise funds, but instead, we are going to a quiz evening on Saturday night to raise funds for our local village hall. That will cost us £20 for a babysitter, £10 in tickets and god knows what in alcohol.

This morning I drove in my pyjamas to the local shop to buy things for the Christmas Shoe Box appeal because having read the leaflet more closely, our second hand toys weren't going to cut it and they needed to be new. So I bought £14 worth of new tat toys, supplemented with newish looking old tat toys and had to buy gift wrap so that I could wrap the boxes, all done in a mad panic. 

This afternoon I have baked cupcakes for Children in Need activities at school tomorrow, printed off a bunch of pictures for a colouring competition and will be forking out another £1 per child to go to school out of uniform (again) and have to give them each 'some money (?)' to spend on the fundraising activities for Children in Need.

And then of course we have the school Christmas Fair. For this I have made 20 mini Christmas cakes (yet to be decorated), 10 jars of chutney, 10 bags of edible Christmas decorations (to be made still) and have bagged up heaps of our walnuts. All of the ingredients, jars and packaging has been paid for by me (Lakeland - I want a loyalty card). In addition, I will be  rummaging through the house for stuff to sell at the second hand stall, am calling a bunch of local companies to try rustle up some prizes for the raffle and will be spending the day of the fair setting up, manning stalls and spending money, buying back the stuff I donated no doubt.

Goodwill to all men and all that. But good grief it's expensive, not to mention exhausting. 

I fear I have donor fatigue. Come 1 December, I am going on strike. So is my wallet. 

Anyone else tired of all the giving when the season of giving hasn't officially started yet?