Hello, you lovely loyal people. And thank you for the emails, messages, tweets and all the other inventive methods of communication that you have used to check on me over the past umpteen months - I am here, and trying to remember how to make this blog creak into life again.
It may be a little basic for a while.
So much has happened. So let me start at the beginning.
In March, I went to visit my daughter in New Zealand. I flew to Sydney for a few days first, and arranged to meet up with old school friends and I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful time I had with them. No time for jet lag - I had 2 days and 2 nights of jam-packed adventure, coupled with so much laughter, reminiscing, and fun. I walked on Bondi Beach. I stood on the steps of the Opera House, I experienced so much, but it was being with the people which made it so incredibly special. I stayed with a friend I have known all my life - Colin is the son of my mother's best friend, and we grew up together - so seeing him and his family and spending time with them was so special.
My whirlwind Aussie time was way too short, and I absolutely intend to return and spend more time discovering that amazing country. (And do some more of the catching up bit with old and fabulous friends, of course!) The latter part of next year is a distinct possibility.
And then I flew on to Wellington, and my girl. And we had the most fantastic 5 weeks together. My great friend, Lindsay, flew down from Auckland and we had 4 days exploring Wellington while Diana worked, and I took her to all my favourite places. I have them now, you see, which is great. I know my way around more of the city. The beaches are so close to where Diana lives, and I spent many an hour next to the sea.
And then we set off to the South Island for our big adventure - we saw the mountains, lakes, pancake rocks, seas, glaciers, snow - the whole beautiful place, Nelson, Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch, and Kaikoura and back. I will write more about the Great Adventure, but this is just a brief overview for now. I loved every moment. It was spectacular. Zillions of photos.
Home and off to the Isle of Arran in Scotland, to celebrate friends' 40th wedding anniversary. I travelled with friends from our village and we had an extra 2 days to explore, because none of us had been to Arran before. We loved it - and staying at a lovely resort with our big group was great too. More about that later.
So, and here we get to the momentous part of the year - you are being so patient.....
In May, after many years of heartbreak, my son and his wife welcomed the birth of their little son, who I will call Lucky. Missy, who will be 8 in February, has her longed for little brother, and he is an absolute delight. Because of multiple miscarriages, the pregnancy was a quiet one, accompanied by many prayers and all preparations delayed until he was almost here - but oh, is he ever gorgeous. Two dimples and a gleam in his eye and he has stolen all our hearts. The absolute best part of our year.
So, once he was safely here, I flew off to collect Mum so she could come home and meet her great-grandson. She had been with Marge while I was away. Oh, the excitement. So much love for the littlest ones in my family!
And, even better, Diana came home on a visit in June to meet her new nephew! That was such a treat for us all.
And then came the referendum.
2016 will go down as a seismic year for most of us - the very essence of everything I believed to be British has changed, and left me, and millions, floundering in a world we never thought we would experience. I cannot tell you how much I despair of the route the country seems to be taking. I am no longer at home here, and I have no idea what the future holds. Xenophobia is beyond evil. Ironically, even though I can trace our family back to the Dark Ages here in Britain, because I sound different and was not born here, I am perceived to be an immigrant. A foreigner. Which technically I am. Compassion, justice, standing up for the weak and defenceless, seem to all have been sacrificed on the altar of greed and power and self aggrandisement. I just do not understand how in a heartbeat, the world cartwheeled away from the values I had been taught all my life to this.
History will hold us all accountable.
The earth quaked in NZ, and Diana and her landlady had to move to higher ground in case of a tsunami - so many places were affected. Kaikoura, which I mentioned in our NZ travels, was a beautiful place. I am sure it still is, but it will be different now. We sat on the rocks there and watched the seals basking in the sun. Whales and dolphins playing off shore. Just beautiful. That was near the epicentre, and the seabed rose 6 metres there. Staggering. It is still cut off, I think.
Diana spearheaded an appeal via her job to create care packages for children in the earthquake zone, and she and her co workers made up 500 parcels, from donations, and each one included a handwritten letter of encouragement from another child in NZ. And then she flew to Nelson to assemble them all, and resource packs for churches and preschools, and helped to deliver the first batch. She was exhausted, but I am so incredibly proud of her.
The earth continues to rumble. They are as prepared as they can be. Buildings in the city centre are being demolished, close to where she works as well. Preparation is vital. Knowing what you have to do and where to go. Remind me to tell you about the lines painted in the roads, telling you which way to go in case of a tsunami.
And so the year tumbled on. My sister finally applied for a visa and came to visit, and two days after she left, I became ill. As in violently ill. 52 hours of vomiting left me in hospital for 4 days on drips and, once home, I lost all control of my limbs and was taken back to A&E by paramedics - not a stroke, as feared, but a complication of the chronic dehydration.
It has taken weeks to regain any energy. And I am not there yet - my hair has been falling out too. Just PEACHY. Not my finest moment.
So, here we are on what is almost the Eve of Christmas. One day early. The grandkiddies and their parents are in the Alps, so it will be quiet around here. I have a new puzzle to conquer. And I need to come and visit you all and see who is still around. I too think of you all so often. You carved a place in my heart years ago.
My own family have asked why I haven't been writing. And the one thing which has been a huge thing for me is simply this. I lost the words.
I lost the ability to string a few words together coherently. It just didn't happen. Even chatting, I found /still find it hard to think of the word I want to use. Part of CRPS? Medication? Who knows. Brain fog has always been an issue, but this was different. And it was so hard to talk about as well.
So, I am going on a seek and find mission. Words, I am on your trail.
Today, after Vee's email, I knew I had to write something. I had forgotten my log in - thank heavens for Dashlane. I can't remember how to do photos. Have they increased the number we can post yet?
I will get there.
Merry Christmas to you and your families
Lots of love from Linds xxx