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Back to Basics – Family Time

Sometimes you need to get back to basics.

Our family, despite my best intentions have succumbed to ‘screen time’, but I’m fed up of being ignored, having to settle ridiculous arguments and generally seeing the back of my kids heads as they focus on some gadget or another.

So in an effort to not only reduce screen time but to encourage a bit more ‘family time’ I’ve started a collection of back to basics board games.

The children were initially dubious, when you have a PS4 Jenga hardly seems in the same league!

But their enthusiasm has been pleasantly surprising, with them both opting to put down tablets and turn off the TV to spend time playing a simple, if competitive game of Snakes & Ladders or create an elaborate trail of dominos.

snakes & ladders

It has also given us an opportunity to spend some time together as a family. It may sound ridiculous but I often struggle with ‘family time’, I didn’t grow up in a family which spent much if any time together, participating in the same activity, so I’m rather chuffed that my own little family has found some small way to come together and have a giggle.

With the Summer holidays starting in just over a week and the rain clouds not looking like they will be dispersing any time soon, I’m glad to have found something so simple to keep my little ones entertained when stuck indoors, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.

Happy and Home at A Residence blog

Fading Beauty

I’m always rather fascinated with the decay of a once vibrant flower, the transformation from a bright, open and fragrant bloom to a limp, almost dirty fall of petals is at times a sight to see.

Few flowers make the transition in such a stunning way as the peony.

peony bloom

Until recently the closest I’d gotten to a peony was via Instagram, I was at once enthralled by their unique beauty and was thus ridiculously excited to purchase my first bunch.

The first few days were rather impressive, these tightly bound balls of petals, which I really wanted to bonk on Spencer's head, began to unfurl.

peony bloom 

Never having seen the “inside” of a peony I was amazed at just how many petals there were.

peony bloom

They look rather ridiculous in the most fabulous way.

peony bloom

peony bloom

peony bloom

Over the next week or so I watched with interest as the blooms opened to their full display before gradually beginning their decline.

It’s intriguing to see something once so beautiful quickly fade to nothing more than a shadow of its former self.

faded peony

faded peony blooms

faded peony

faded peony

faded peony petals

Most of us disregard cut flowers as soon as they show any signs wilting, which is a shame as I do believe we miss out on such an extraordinary transformation.

fading peony

Whilst not as aesthetically pleasing as a fresh bouquet, the wilting process itself is something rather magical to see.

Optimistically Lost

I never really appreciated just how terrifying it can be to recover from mental illness.

There was a sense of safety whilst I was trapped in the midst of depression, it’s hard to explain but whilst I was clinically depressed and dosed up on handfuls of drugs I knew what to expect. I knew that my emotions were non existent, I didn’t have to worry about having the right response to a situation because I just didn’t have any response, there was a relief to the numbness.

Whilst recovery brings with it a whole heap of positives and expectations it also creates some rather terrifying realisations. Having to relearn who I am after more than 7 years of numbness is difficult, more so than you’d think. The world and everyone in it has moved on, whilst I was stuck, now that I’m starting to emerge from depression I realise that I no longer know who I am.

I need to figure out what are natural responses and reactions to situations. At the back of every reaction is the fear than I’m having the wrong response, perhaps my sadness is me slipping back in to depression, maybe losing my temper is a sign I’m not getting better or maybe I’m too happy too soon and I’m being manic.

I never realised just how scary ‘getting better’ could be.

Recovery is something I’ve been chasing for years, I’ve had teasing glimpses of what being a happy parent and partner could be, how much better my life could be, and now that I’m on the cusp of it….I’m terrified of fucking it up.

No one tells you how to cope with getting better.

I’ve had my allocation of therapists, counsellors and other medical professionals and now I find myself alone, during what is perhaps the most important stage of depression, trying to navigate what is unchartered territory.

I’m optimistically lost.

tunnel of trees

I hope I’m strong enough, that I’m determined and stubborn enough to push through the  doubts, blips and second guesses that will eventually lead me to an existence in which I’m content, secure in who I am, a parent I can be proud of and partner worthy of sticking with.

Living with depression is hell, the tantalising possibility of recovery….that, that is terrifying.

Papa Tont

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Did anyone actually expect that?


I’m not sure even the leave party thought it would happen, but happen it has and in a historic move, for better or worse the majority who voted want to leave the European Union.

Shock waves were felt almost immediately as the stock markets went in to freefall, David Cameron resigned, Boris and Gove appeared to back track almost instantly and Farage admitted that £350 million wont be going directly to the NHS.

It seems a hollow victory all round.

The division of public opinion has been swift and nasty, I for one am ashamed by the xenophobia that has risen in recent days. I thought we were better than this, the UK has long been a rich meeting point of cultures and traditions, do we really want to be rid of such wonderful things?

What was sold to many as a way to make Britain great and unified, has instead alienated those very people who help make Britain great. There is nothing great about a nation that turns its back on the people who helped build it.

There’s talk of Scotland, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland breaking away, making the United Kingdom not so united after all.

I don’t believe we should have been given the vote. Being asked to make such a momentous decision which will be felt for years to come, on the backs of two parties who fed us lies, half truths, manipulated statistics and propaganda was both irresponsible and negligent. We have all been duped to one degree or another; shady politicians once again putting their careers before the social, political and economic future of millions.

But the damage is done and will continue to unfold for a while to come, we’re on our own now, and we must find a way to thrive if not for ourselves then for our children who most definitely did not choose this as their future.

Can We Still Be Friends?

I’ve not long come in from voting, and already I’m wondering if I made the right choice. I hadn’t actually made a decision until my elbow was perched on the counter and I starred at the ballot paper. It was at that moment that Ethan walked up to me and I made my choice, with his future in mind.

Straight away I wondered if it was the right one.

stay or go

But mostly I just felt relieved, despite my years long interest in politics I’m done with this referendum. From the start I disliked the notion of a stay or go option. I always thought there should have been a third option, one in which we could have opted for a revamp of the European Union, as like with most things there are elements which don’t work and could be improved upon.

The entire referendum has devolved in to a farce, it has become so divisive and vitriolic that relationships not just between the UK and the rest of Europe have been tested but those to of once amiable people have been pushed to the limit.

The accusations of racism or Europhile depending on which way individuals were leaning have done nothing but reduce what should have been an opportunity for us to educate ourselves on what the EU actually is, what it does and what it could do to nothing more than a mockery of what should be the most important vote of a generation.

At this point it seem both sides would argue the toss over whether water is wet.

Just over 4 hours to go before the ballots are counted and our choice announced, and I’m wondering, which ever way it goes, if when we wake up in the morning can we still be friends?

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