Archive for May, 2010

>Two little boys…


Another week, another Gallery! This week the theme is friendship. I’d mentioned my friendships a few posts back, so thought I’d take a different tack with this one. O has a friend, a best friend whom he’s known since he was weeks old. They met, along with their mums at post-natal group and have grown to the ripe old age of nearly six together. Although they are chalk and cheese, they are close as close can be and W is a special person in O’s life. Here are some pictures of this fabulous twosome…

These boys are so small they can’t even sit up! O is the chubby cheeked one on the left.

I would love to know what W is saying to O here.

A happy day in the sandpit for the boys

Down at St Ives, swinging and laughing and kicking their wellies high into the air…

Climbing and posing for the camera.

I remember the piercing shrieks emitted from the musical instruments were tormenting the mummies, but the boys loved it…

Two worn out little men in the back of my car…

At a friend’s 4th birthday party, being encouraged by M to pull horrid faces at the camera.

Two slightly less giddy kippers on their first day at Reception. They were both so brave. I was less composed once the door had closed upon them.

This was a joint effort between W, O and me. Our biggest challenge was keeping W’s little brother, my godchild, away from the work of sand art.

The best of friends…

O loves W to bits and I know the feeling is mutual. On Monday, O and I were sat reading his bedtime story with his toy, Puppy, who is also very special and goes everywhere with him. It really said it all when he turned to Puppy and accidentally called him by the name of his very bestest friend.


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>We had the best day yesterday, just me, O and M. An impromptu picnic in the woods just up the road from us, complete with blue skies, a carpet of bluebells and shortbread biscuits. Sheer heaven.

The bluebells were wonderful – I needed to take pictures and made O stand in a patch of them, much to his chagrin. I can see he is slowly but surely changing into a BIG BOY and standing in flowers looking cute is not something that BIG BOYS do. However, the finished results did show that he is still willing to indulge his mummy, as long as there are no observers to witness his shame.

We wandered through the woods, O and M running about like loons and me sauntering along behind. The woods are the most magical place, and perfect for those long, hot days, where you need to be out, but not baking in the heat. Dotted here and there are wooden sculptures, which make for great entertainment, especially if you are five. They include a cobra, a wizard, a spooky little fairy and O’s absolute favourite, the dwarf and his bare arse. I was forced to stand under the dwarf and photograph his insolent cheeks by the boy. Of course, as I stood there with my camera pointing upwards, an old couple walked past, fully appreciating O’s delight at the carved buttocks and my blushing embarrassment…

Some of the other sculptures are a little bit unnerving. I’ve been fiddling with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone lately and the groovy filters made some of the photos look quite atmospheric.

O doesn’t even like to look at this one in daytime…

And this one freaks me out a wee bit. Imagine if you were a local teen, high on life and Strongbow and came across this creature in the deep, dark woods…

However, it wasn’t all spooky sculptures and dwarf arses. Oh no. We did sit down to our picnic in a dappled glade in the midst of the bluebells once more and all was peaceful and full of good vibes.

The picnic disappeared in record time and we settled back to enjoy the surroundings. Then O decided he was going to blow a dandelion clock and I thought I’d capture the moment as a touching scene of innocent childhood, reminiscent of days gone by. It did not go according to plan…

Ah, that’s one for the archives…

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>I wrote the most personal blog post yesterday and posted it to Tara’s Gallery over at Sticky Fingers. I received some wonderful comments, both here on my blog and on Twitter and Facebook. I was going to reply to all the comments one by one, but I am just overwhelmed by the kind and frankly tear-inducing things that have been said and thought I should respond more fully.

I am stunned by the response I have had to my post. I knew that putting up my baldy pics would probably stir feelings and strong emotions, especially as most of you will have friends or family, (or even yourselves) who have been or still are in the same position, but I never expected such an outpouring of support and well-wishing.

I have to say I am really pleased that you think I look good regardless of hair or lack of it. Obviously I took my glasses off for all these pics (so vain) and missed out the hilarious mini-Afro pics that came in between the last two photos. I do have some things I’m not willing for the world to see. I also had one photo where I look like a bald David Baddiel. That did not make the final cut!

I suppose that my post is very personal, but also shows that anyone can face cancer and get through. I am not brave, although as a lifelong sap, it is nice to be told that I am, so please don’t stop. With such a diagnosis, I think your choices are to give up or grit your teeth, cry a bit (a lot) and then just put up with the crap as best you can until it stops. I was bloody unlucky to get cancer at 33 and I just got through the best I could. Friends and family helped me get to where I am today and I admit, I have got a long way to go. The physical aspects are a memory for the most part, but the emotional scars and changes wrought by my experiences are harder to erase. Cancer is more than what it does to your body (and your hair!).

But – I’m getting on with it. For every bad thought or bad day or setback I face, I try a little harder to face it all down. The responses I have had to my post, from people I know and people I don’t, have lifted me up once more. So thanks once again – I really am touched beyond measure.

Mel x

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This is my entry for Tara @ Sticky Fingers’ Gallery Week 12. It’s been a tough one for me but I am so glad I did it. I am sure there will be some fantastic entries this week. Please go and have a look at the other entries, as the Gallery is always full to bursting with wonderful photography.
May 2006. This first photo is a bit of a cheat, as I did not take this picture myself. But this was me, with my finger looking like it’s stuck up my nose and my hair shiny, long and lustrous. I’m allowed to say that, as by November 2007, I’d been diagnosed with Grade 3 breast cancer and facing chemotherapy. The consultant who broke the dreadful news actually said, “Oh, your beautiful hair”. I didn’t think that the loss of my hair would be so hard to bear, but it really was.

16 January 2008. I started my chemo in January. I’d had my surgery in November and had to wait for a wound infection to clear up before I could start the chemo. It was a long, hard wait. My fab Hairdresser Friend gave me this hairstyle, which I really loved, but sadly, I knew that it would not last too long. It was designed to ease the transition from long-haired woman to baldy cancer patient.

31 January 2008. One Thursday morning, during my second chemo cycle my hair started coming out in clumps in my hands. It was everywhere and it was making me cry. An SOS call to Hairdresser Friend was made and she came over. She got the electric razor out and this was my Number 2 cut. It was quite a relief to have the hair tamed and I quite liked the pixie-ish look of it. Again, I knew it wouldn’t last.

4 February 2008. Sure enough, over the weekend, my hair continued to fall out (from everywhere – that was an interesting bathtime!) and I knew I had to bite the bullet and just shave it all off if I was to keep my sanity – and my soft furnishings hair-free. I went round to my Friend from Way Back’s house and Hairdresser Friend came over and did the deed. This is me just after, when I’d got home. I bloody hate this picture – God only knows why I am smiling. I look dreadful.

12 March 2008. I had a couple of wigs. One was long like my old hair, but as I was so pale and thin, I looked too gothic (even for me, the Queen all that is Black). This other wig was kinder on my pallor. I only ever wore my wigs out of the house – they were itchy and annoying and I really could not be arsed to faff about inside. Plus I was scared of setting fire to it whilst cooking. Imagine the scenes…

3 April 2008. These next two pictures are when the chemo was really doing its work and my eyebrows and eyelashes were struggling to survive the onslaught. I look at these pictures and I can’t honestly believe that this is me. During this time, I was very poorly and had to just get through the bad days. However, I note that I have applied a little lipstick. Vain throughout the suffering!

7 June 2008. The first four cycles of chemo were the ones that took my hair. I then switched to chemo tablets and although I was still poorly, my hair started to come back. This next picture is where I can see me peeping out through my eyes once more. I remember taking this picture and feeling hope and happiness and a little bit of hmmmm, still got it going on, girlfriend…

28 August 2008. This one was taken on the same day as the photo of O that I picked for Gallery Week 5. A happy, happy day and a happy, newly curly woman enjoying the sunshine and being out and about. This felt like the start of coming out of treatment and although I still had a long way to go emotionally and mentally, things were getting better.

15 May 2010. And this is me now. Out the other side, a little less carefree and a little more weary, but definitely on the up and sporting a really fulsome head of bouncy curls. It was a really drastic way to get a new hairstyle, but I’m really enjoying my curly hair and feeling more and more like me again and less like the breast cancer girl.  

Writing this post has taken courage. I am actually shaking as I type, as the self portraits I’ve chosen have only ever been seen by a couple of people before today. It feels right though. I took them during the hardest, most soul-stripping time of my life. Looking at them now, I can see what cancer did to me and what it took away.

More importantly though, I can see what I’ve now got back. Cancer did take me to my lowest ebb, but I didn’t stay there. I’ll always be changed by what happened to me, but it doesn’t define me. I’m moving on and hopefully, I’ll keep going and getting further and further away. Thanks, Tara, for giving me the opportunity to get this post out there.

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Good old Laura from AWNTYM tagged me in this award, which I’d had a go at previously. However, this one said I had to pick seven interesting things using only the medium of photos. I felt I had to accept the challenge.

One of the rules is that I have to thank my nominator. Many thanks, Laura, esteemed Facebook Wife. I have enjoyed the challenge and will need a full body massage to recover from the epic photo trawl I have just completed. It’s hard going this blogging malarkey…

I’m not sure if the thing are interesting, but as I picked my pics, the people in them seemed to be the ones that sent out a siren call to me…

So, without further wittering, here are my seven photos…

Number One – My uni mates

Just three of us here, me, Lisa and Tam. This is after university and we’re all dolled up, ready to go to Suzy’s wedding. I lived with these girls (and Suzy and Emma) for three years down in Brum. I did struggle with homesickness and light misery for quite a lot of that time, but I also had some glorious fun with my Brum chums and I am so glad we’re all still in touch. I am happy to say that when we get together once in a blue moon, it is like we have only just shut the door on one of our mouse-infested student hovels and the banter and love flies round the room just like it did when we were young and daft.

Number Two – My NCT mates

See them!  Happy mothers out on the lash – although thinking about it, one of them is bound to be pregnant in this pic. Again, one missing (the lovely and glamorous Alison), but four of the NCT gang are pictured – Laura, Mel G, Nem and Rachel. I tapdance when I think of how glad I am to have met these women. Early motherhood is a joyful, scary and exhausting time. It seems to me that every woman needs a girl gang of mothers in the same boat to ponder the mysteries of babies and their strange and special behaviour. Over the past six years (cannot believe it is that long), we have seen each other through the best of times and the worst of times and our friendship seems to be cast in iron. I am a lucky lucky woman…

Number Three – My ‘old’ mates

Once more, not all pictured, but this really did sum it all up for me. Girls I have known since the first year of senior school (excluding Sarah, the little one in the middle). This photo was taken in 2007 – we were at the darts. I have never attended the darts before and never since, but it was a night to remember. Sadly, there is much of the night that is forever shrouded in mystery, as I think may be clear from the photo.

My ‘old’ school friends, Helen, Penny, Track, Janet, Becky, Liz and Rachael (Helen and Track pictured here) are friends I’ve known for 25 years. We went through the whole teenage torment of falling out, bitching and being generally very teenage-girlish, but also formed strong bonds that set our friendship up for life. Off we all went to university and new lives and back we all trogged and came together once more. I think sometimes we know too much about each other – there’s loads of history, some difficult, but mostly comical to do with jam sandwiches and drunken antics. They are like my family and I’d be lost without them.

Number Four – Wainhouse Tower

I grew up under the shadow of an impressive ornate chimney, a mighty brick phallic symbol. This picture is the view from my childhood home. Rising up proudly from the centre of the picture is Wainhouse Tower, a chimney folly built by John Wainhouse in 1875. The Tower has 403 spiral steps leading up to the viewing gallery. You can see for miles up there, if you can stomach the climb and the unfortunate need to brush up against your fellow Halifaxians as you pass each other on the tight stone staircase.

When I was a little girl, my dad used to ‘do’ the voice of the Tower and we played a game whilst in the car where we would try and hide from the Tower, which was pretty difficult as the Tower is 275ft or thereabouts. How I loved that game. And how I loved waving at the people who went up the Tower from my bedroom window on Bank Holidays. 

Tower – I love you!

Number Five – Skinny dipping in Edale

Taken on a camping weekend in Edale, where the sun baked us and the only way to cool off was to jump in this gorgeous pool, complete with built-in waterfall. I don’t know whose idea it was to strip off, but I rose to the challenge and hurled my clothes onto the bank and entered the water. I love this picture as I am normally a very self-conscious person, so to see me laughing like a witch whilst stark naked in a pool surrounded by other people, is a really happy and uplifting memory for me.

Since being ill, I have become even more self-conscious about my appearance. This photo reminds me that nobody gives a stuff and life is for living and throwing caution and garments to the wind…

Number Six – What’s that coming over the hill?

This photo was taken in September 2006, so my litle O would have been 26 months. I know he looks like a very sinister child here. I can explain.

O had a love of the Automatic song ‘Monster’ and would sing the refrain, ‘What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monster?’ accompanied by this quite horrific face. I have so many pictures from this time with this face in many of them, but this is the winner. He looks truly Omen-like. Gawd bless my strange and comical child. He makes me laugh every single day.

(I am having a little mourn about the fact he will never again wear a pair of dungarees – how I loved his dungas).

Number Seven – His father’s son

This photo was taken the same month. I think there is very little I need to say here. 

So, passing it one. The rules are these…

1. You must thank the person who has given you the award 
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog
3. Link the person who has nominated you for the award
4. Post seven photos that people might find interesting
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate
7. Let the nominated bloggers know they have been tagged

Right here goes. I don’t think I’ll manage seven – I have been out of blogging and broadband action for the best part of the month, so I bet most have already done this one…

PippaD at a Mother’s Ramblings 
Mrs Worthington at 2 Teens a Dog and Me
Mummy at New Mummy

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