Alli's Place

Where Alli shares her thoughts and feelings…

Goodbye 2014

So it is New Years Eve again and it am thinking back over 2014… Can’t say it has been the most wonderful year, starting it looking at having back surgery for the second time and being in quite a bit of pain, thankfully I escaped the surgery. Saying goodbye to my lovely Flora bunny. Then there was the joy of a close friends pregnancy followed closely by the loss of the baby in the second trimester. I could go on but I have instead decided to look for the good things so I have found one thing to be thankful for in each month of 2014.

January – I didn’t get up to much in January but I was glad to be back in the office and no longer working from home.

February – my birthday month and thankful for lovely friends who dropped round to help me celebrate on the Sunday afternoon with lots of coffee and cake.

March – thankful for a lovely long weekend in Hunstanton at Mum and Dads flat with Tom, Fiona and Eilidh. I feel so lucky to be able to share the flat with friends.

April – thankful for Easter with Mum and Dad at their flat in Hunstanton.

May – thankful for my wonderful God daughter Eilidh and being able to enjoy her 3rd birthday with her and her parents. Love her to bits!

June – thankful to have escape back surgery and to have found a physiotherapist I trust and get on with.

July – thankful for swimming and being able to get back I the pool.

August – thankful for lunchtimes walks (as I could at last manage to walk far enough) and colleagues to walk with.

September – thankful for a fabulous cruise from Genoa to Venice with Mum and Dad, sailing into Venice again was amazing.

October – thankful for a great day at Wembley with the Guides for Big Gig. We didn’t loose any and we all had lots of fun.

November – thankful for all those who gave their lives in World War 1 after visiting the amazing poppies at the Tower of London.

December – thankful for a good Christmas with Mum, Dad, Allan and Laura and Lenny the dog. No arguments, lots of good food and two lovely walks. Also thankful that this year pulling crackers was almost pain free!

It has also been a year filled with baking:

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And craft:

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And I plan to do more of both of these things in 2015!

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People in my thoughts and heart

Is it just me who thinks back about people?

Today I was reminded of someone I met briefly who I occasionally think about. Does anyone else do this and wonder what happened to them?

This man was someone I met for a couple of hours while we were waiting to go to theatre in Southampton General. We we waiting in the day ward in adjacent beds. He was with his wife and I was with my mum. He was called Tony and was from the Isle of Wight. He was having two brain tumours removed, they were secondary cancers from a melanoma and he also had tumours in his lungs if my memory is right. He was terminal so he is almost certainly dead by now. We laughed and joked together while we waiting and he was a lovely guy. He had accepted his diagnosis and saw it as a positive sign that they were bothering to remove the brain tumours. He was keen to enjoy what time he had left. I can remember him joking when he came back from his pre surgery scan that they had found another tumour but they were going to take that out too, ‘three for the price of two’. The last I saw of him he was sitting up in bed, post surgery, having his dinner as I was wheeled past after my surgery. We briefly shared a smile, thumbs up and good luck wish.

I occasionally wonder how he got on and wonder how his wife and children are. I don’t think I will forget him and his amazing attitude to making the most of the situation. I try to think of his attitude when I am having a bad day and think that if someone in that situation can carry on with life and tackle his problems with courage then so can I!

I think of other people too. Some teachers, some youth leaders, people I knew at school or Guides. Some of these people I knew for years others it was just a short meeting. I imagine what they might be doing and wonder if they remember me. I wonder if our paths will ever cross again.

Then I wonder if those people ever think of me and if they do what they might remember. I hope that it is something good and that in some small way I have added something to their life.

So if you have ever met me or known me and we have drifted apart, it doesn’t mean you have been forgotten. People influence us and although they may not realise it they always have a little place in our hearts.

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5 Years in Cambridge

Five years ago I watched a big removal van drive off, shut the front door on my house in Portsmouth for the last time and drove up to my new house in Milton, Cambridge.

Since then I have made lots of wonderful friends and kept in touch with the equally lovely ones in Portsmouth 🙂

I love living in Milton, I love the church I go to and I feel at home here. Life is good!

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Goodbye Flora Bunny

Today has been a sad day.
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I went out to feed Flora this morning and wasn’t greated by her usual “I am starving” breakfast dance. She used to see me come out the patio door and dash up stairs and up to the hutch door in anticipation of food. I would then stroke her for a while as she munched. This morning she just lay there and I thought she was asleep at first but… She was gone.

I got Flora not long after I moved to Cambridge. She was actually born on the day I moved so it feels like she has been with me here all the time. The garden won’t feel the same without her.

She is buried at the back of the garden that she thought was her garden. I am very grateful to Tom for coming round and digging a hole for her and helping to dismantle her hutch.

So it is good bye to my gentle fluff ball, who was supposed to be a dwarf lop but turned out to be a rather large bunny. She was great with children stroking her, poking her, pulling her ears, she just sat there and didn’t mind at all and if they fed her any dandelion leaves or grass that was a bonus. A gentle nature with a beautiful silky fur coat. I will miss her a lot.

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Reflecting…

I have been thinking and reflecting a fair bit this week.  Last Sunday was the anniversary of two years since my operation.  The two year point was always going to be a milestone as I was told that it could take about that long for the nerves to settle down and heal.  It was suggested that things could always improve after that but that as time went on it was more unlikely. 

Two years ago I hoped the surgery would be a total cure from the pain I had before and that I would have no lasting effects, it is now clear that although the pain is much less that before that my dream at that time is unfortunately not reality.  I am still in a fair amount of pain and now find it hard to remember what it is like to not feel pain and I still have numbness in my foot and other sensory loss and a big toe that does not function fully.  I have learnt to accept this and the get on with life.  I have accepted that life is easier with painkillers and now take them regularly rather than trying to cope without.  One of the hardest things has been for me to admit to myself that this is how I am and that I can’t always manage to do things that I used to and that it is OK to admit this and say to people “sorry but no I can’t lift that table” rather than doing it and suffering for my stubbornness.

Last week at the women’s day we were all given a little gift of a bag with beads and sparkles, a magnetic word and a verse.  Each one was individual as they all had different combinations.  My verse was “God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” Ephesians 3:20.  Since then it has been on my mind as I often wonder why God didn’t fully heal me and why I still have constant pain to live with.  Over the last two years I have learnt to accept that God doesn’t always do what we ask for or respond to our prayers as we would like Him to.  He often answers them in a different way to what we want, but he can still do amazing things and works in our lives and in lots of ways He has done more than I could have asked or imagined.

Several people have asked me how I cope and how I stay so strong.  I sometimes wonder how this is as I wouldn’t class myself as a strong person and if someone had told me what my future would be two years ago I would have said I wouldn’t be able to cope.  All I can say is that God gives me the strength and courage to face my problems and carry on.  On a bad day I thank God that I can still walk and that I can still carry on a normal life as I know that it was a real possibility that this wouldn’t be the case.  So many people prayed for me while I was in hospital, friends and people I didn’t know, and I know that God was with me and looked after me at that time.  I felt so at ease when I went down for my operation, I knew that I couldn’t do anything and it was all in His hands.  As someone who hates to stay in bed even when I am ill I knew that having to be lying flat for 4 days was going to be really hard but some how the time flew by and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I even managed to escape from hospital a day earlier than planned so things were pretty good really!  I was so blessed by those around me, my friends were brilliant!  I don’t think I really realised how many amazing people were around me and how much they cared about me and I am so blessed to have them as my friends and I will always be thankful for them and the care that they showed me.  My Mum was amazing too, I know she found it hard not to fuss and she found it really difficult to see me ill but we also had six weeks together where we enjoyed each others company and grew closer to one another and we wouldn’t have had that time if I hadn’t been ill.  What I am trying to say is that although God didn’t heal my pain totally He has helped me is so many ways and I have learnt so much in the last two years and that is some ways he has done more good in my life than I could have imagined so it hasn’t all been bad at all! 

In case you are wondering my magnetic word was paradise and I know that one day I will be in paradise with God and then I will no longer be in pain and will be free of my earthy body.

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Well…

..as I haven’t updated my blog since the 4th January I think my Second thing on my list of things I wanted to do this year has failed slightly as it is was to use my blog more :oS 

As for the first one of parking the car in the garage I did for a few weeks but then when I was having the kitchen done it wasn’t so practical so I got out of the habit.

So what have I been up to?

I have got a nice shiny new kitchen and utility which took a lot longer than it was supposed to but I am very happy with the results.

I have been busy at work doing a project which I was really enjoying working with two other people one of them came over from Australia for four weeks and we all worked really hard and were pleased with what we had achieved BUT they have decided to change the product and so the work we have done is now not going to be used – oh joy and how irritating!  Now back to fixing bugs :o(

I have been seeing a Physiotherapist about my back, again.  We were going to try acupuncture but as I have a slight metal allergy that is not a good idea.  I have tried some things in my shoes to try and improve the way I walk and help my ankle, one type made things worse and aggravated my nerve pain but the others seem to be helping so I am going to be referred to get some more permanent versions.  We have tried all the usually things, gentle manipulation, exercises etc for my back but I haven’t had any improvement in the pain so now she is going to refer me to try hydrotherapy and the chronic pain course where they look at coping strategies and management etc.  So we will see what happens with those. I do feel like a bit of a hopeless case but as I said the the physio, I think I have accepted that this is how life is now and that most of the time I just deal with it and get on with life!

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Bumping into an old colleague

I have just come back from my lunch break.  Today I went to Sainsbury’s and while I was there I bumped into Eliz Lickiss who was my “mental” (was supposed to be a mentor but we always referred to her as my mental instead) when I was a “GIT” (I was an Industrial Trainee and they added Girly to the front as we all thought it was funny) at IBM.  We had a bit of a chat and talked about what we were both up to now – I can’t believe her kids are at university and doing A Levels now!  She doesn’t work for IBM any more either.
It has reminded about my time there and the people I worked with… There was Eliz, Pam, Agnes, Ian, Paul and Mike my boss who was based in Horsham so I hardly ever saw him.  At first some of them scared me, Agnes and Ian were kind of scary looking, but were lovely people.  They were all really nice and looked after me for the year or so that I was there.  I shared a desk with Ian for a while and he was like a big brother protecting me from the security guard who used to try and get me to chat to him as I left in the evening. 
 
We used to go on a 3 o’clock “cigarette” break (only Ian and Eliz smoked but most of us went) which involved wandering along the corridor to the area where the operators sat to pick some papers up then we went via the coffee and snack machines to the far outside door, walked around side of the building while Eliz and Ian had a cigarette and then back in through the main doors.  I was there for my 21st birthday and they bought me my big pooh bear and took me to the pub for lunch as well as decorating my desk with balloons and a banner.  The day I left I cried as I had really enjoyed being there and working with them and was touched that they got me my Wallace and Gromit alarm clock which sits on my TV in the lounge.
 
After I left to go back to University for my final year I met up with them again at Christmas when I joined them for their Christmas dinner.  I also emailed them for a while but as things often do it tailed off.  I wonder what the others are doing and whether they are still there…
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CU House party 1996

Every year it was the custom for Portsmouth University Christian Union to organise a weekend away on the Isle of Wight.  In 1996 this happened in October and we went to a Christian ran hotel called St Radigans near Ventnor.  The CU was quite big in 96 and about 90 mad students made their way on the hovercraft and 2 coaches to Ventnor.  On the way the coach I was on happened to break down and cause a bit of chaos at a junction but we made it in time for dinner.  The food at this place was excellent, 3 course dinners, what a treat for students!
 
The next 2 days were spent having meetings with prayer, talks and worship and generally having fun getting to know each other, playing pool, doing practical jokes and being a bit mad.  One of things we did which I still remember vividly was walking down to the beach in the night when it was pitch black, we all held hands with the people in front and behind and guided one another along and down onto the beach.  It was muddy and slippy and having gone back in the day light I wonder how no-one got hurt but it was brilliant fun and completely mad! 
 
My other memories of this house party are piggy back wars, sitting on the stairs as there weren’t enough chairs, having to share a bed with Ali R (there were a lot of us and not that many beds, we had separate sleeping bags!), hiding alarm clocks in the boys bedroom (one got smashed when it went off at about 4am after they had just fell asleep after the earlier one going off) and a guy called Ruben being hand cuffed (not sure why someone had pink fluffy handcuffs with them) to the pillar at the front of the hotel in his underwear and smeared with marmite!
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Christmas 1996!

The first term at Uni and my first weeks living away from home seemed like a long time but I did enjoy it.  I learnt that Ali and Mel were also Christians and we joined the University Christian Union together, where we met loads of people.  We also started going to a church called Hebron (which later became Kings Church) and although it wasn’t really my style as it was bit charismatic Ali and Mel went there so it was easy to just go with them.  Adel (Del as we called him) and Jo were good housemates too, hearing about other people experiences we were really lucky as we all got on pretty well.  

 
As Christmas approached we decided we would have a house Christmas Day and we would decorate the house, buy each other small pressies and cook Christmas dinner together.  Our house Christmas was great fun and it became something that I have repeated with housemates and later with friends every year.  Not long after that we all went off home for our first holidays from Uni.
 
It was good to be back at home having my washing done and being cooked for.  Christmas day was a bit of a disaster.  At the time my Granddad was in an old peoples home and Grandma went to visit him and Mum and I went to church and then came home to a lovely dinner which Dad had cooked (Dad always does the roast dinners as his are much nicer than Mum’s).  We were part way through dinner when the phone rang and it was the old people’s home saying that Grandma was ill and they had sent her off to the hospital so Mum had to leave her dinner and go and sort that out.  It turned out that Grandma was suffering from alchahol poisoning as she had been drinking whiskey “like it was pop” to quote what Granddad said and with the medication she was on that really wasn’t a good idea.  So Mum had a lovely Christmas day at the hospital sorting out my drunk Grandma!
 
My Christmas break had another event when Mum and I decided to go sale shopping in Northampton.  On the way we had a bit of a car accident when someone decided to plough into the back of Mum’s car while we were stopped at a roundabout.  We decided we were not going to let that ruin our day and went shopping anyway!  The following day we both had rather bad necks and ended up in casualty getting checked out, embarrassingly one of the nurses recognised Mum from being in with drunken Grandma.  I got one of those lovely attractive collars to wear as my neck was rather sore and a few days later was heading back to Portsmouth.
 
Well you would have thought that was an eventful enough Christmas but no there was more to come!  On arriving at the house Mel and her Dad were outside and informed us that there was a bit of a water problem.  It turned out that next door (who were on away) the water tank had burst and flooded our house, right through my bedroom and the lounge.  Before the water was turned off by the water company we had a waterfall down the wall of the lounge!  I spent the next couple of weeks staying with my Aunty in Emsworth while the house dried out a bit and we spent the next few months with the heating on full to dry the walls out, paid for by the landlord – we must have had the warmest student house in Portsmouth!  Eventually everything was sorted and decorated.
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How I became Alli-up

Now living in a house where two people are known as Alli (or Ali) makes for complications.  My first year housemates found it difficult especially as we didn’t know each other at all to start with so they set about finding a way to distinguish between us.  I assumed I would end up being Alli O as I often do because of my surname starting with an O but this time an imaginative house mate had another idea…
 
As one of us had a bedroom upstairs and the other had one downstairs they decided to call me Alli-up (I was upstairs) and Ali R became Ali-down.  This worked really well, so well in-fact that other people started to use these names and people actually thought are surnames were Up and Down and wasn’t that a coincidence!
 
Another name issue occurred with our friends at CU as Mel, Ali and I always seemed to be together and we became Alli, Ali and Mel but after a while it became clear that no-one knew which one was Mel!  Eventually people got it sorted though!
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