I love those days where my Dad says “Take your time” when I visit the charity shop. The children are in school, Him Indoors is in work and the wifey type person will play.

I have always enjoyed bargain-hunting and it is even more fun now knowing I can share my quirky finds as part of the Magpie Monday blog hop hosted by the lovely Liz on the Me and My Shadow blog. I use Liz as evidence to Him Indoors that there are other women who can define the most quirky items as “absolutely essential”.

So this week, I have a lovely pair of jugs. Nowt new there I hear you all cry. Well, once I am sorted, I will even show you the pictures but in the meantime words will have to suffice.

One of my jugs is huge and the other is dinky. One jug is real and the other is plastic.

My favourite is the dinky one in glass. It has words as follows etched into it “Allenbury’s Food Meaure – One Ounce is Two Tablespoons”. It has a vintage feel about it. It is one of those items that continues to bring pleasure every time I use it or look at it. I don’t think I have ever had a utensil that measures tablespoons so I like this very much. It was £2.50 but I do seriously love it. The other jug is huge and can hold over 2 litres. It was only 50 pence too.

Other finds this week included a pair of brown leather boots for just £3. These were as new and I am delighted with them although surprised that my feet appear to have grown one size.

Then there is a weird white and purple angel type ornament that cost 50 pence, a wooden lighthouse in bright colours also for 50 pence and a cash box with a lock that works for £3.

The angel is absolutely essential as it consoled me after breaking one of my ghosts from the other week. The lighthouse is absolutely essential because I just have a thing about lighthouses. The cash box is absolutely essential to stop my Mapgie daughter in her tracks and also to hide all manner of things when the need arises.

In other news, I am going to volunteer at the charity shop from 21st October.

In other news for those who know what a fan of the Netmums Nearly New boards I am, I actually saw Robbie Williams for sale on there the other day. I wonder if he might like my jugs.

Lots of great things have come my way since I started blogging.

Blogging has helped me actually do what I want to do which is to write every day. Blogging has helped me deal with the emotions surrounding my mum’s illness and death. Blogging has introduced me to a new network of cyber friends. Blogging has brought a number of freebies my way.

However, the most important thing that blogging has done for me is to make me feel less alone and different.

Before going to school, I was the adopted child so different to those in the local community.

At primary school, I had really old parents so was different to the other kids.

At secondary school, I loved learning and was often top of the class, marking me out as a swot or whatever term of abuse the other children wanted to hurl my way.

At university, I was the one from Yorkshire when everyone else seemed to come from London or Surrey. I was also the obvious working-class kid too. Different again.

When working in charities, I was the one with the degree from a posh university.

In the Maternity Ward, I was different as my husband already had children to other women.

At the school-gates I was the “outsider” and the one who had given her children funny names.

In mummy social groups, I was the one who said what I thought and was ostracised as a result.

The first blogging post that touched a nerve with mums I knew was about a Pampered Chef evening. It appeared I was not the only one who was thinking the products were over-priced. I was also not the only one who was secretly giggling at how some of the words the demonstrator was using could have shown up equally well in an Anne Summers do.

When I spoke about my struggles with motherhood, another mum I knew told me she had thought she was the only person in the world who felt like that. This was the first time that I realised through blogging, I might help others.

I know now that I am not the only woman who hates the way her body looks after children. I am not the only woman who really does not see the point of make-up. I am not the only woman who struggles with her child’s special needs. I am not the only woman who has found step-parenting challenging. I am not the only woman who is shy and struggles with self-esteem. I am not the only woman who has struggled to find her way after post-natal depression. I am not the only woman who still grieves years after loss. I am not the only woman found it hard to bond with one of her children. Knowing there are others like me makes me feel OK about being me.

Blogging or rather those who read and comment on my posts have made me feel less isolated and that actually although I share much with many of you, I remain a unique person who has something to give that matters.

I jumped on the scales this morning which is now my Monday morning routine. Had I lost weight? Nope.

I have had a good week on the whole sticking to the healthy eating plan.

I did have my Friday fish and chips splurge with my Dad. It is difficult to handle this one as there are no low calorie options on the menu and Dad would feel uncomfy eating if I just had a drink.

I have also indulged in a alcoholic drink or two for 3 nights this week. I am stopping that again and felt better without it. What led me to drink was tension after a children’s Magic Show. Seems I am an emotional drinker as well as an emotional eater.

On the really good side, instead of staring at the Wii, I actually did a couple of sessions of Wii Fit. The first one almost killed me and all to “earn” 30 calories. However, once I had stopped shouting about my Wii Fit age and being defined as obese, I did enjoy it especially getting into a rhythm and becoming familiar with the exercises. Another lovely thing is how proud my children are of me for tackling my weight.

I had an argument with Him Indoors about his lack of support. His idea of support is going and buying in lots of my favourite healthy food whereas what I need are the right words of encouragement from him. He does care but he is never particularly great at expressing his feelings. Also, I think he genuninely does not care for himself what weight I am which I guess is a good thing.

So my weight remains at 224 pounds.

Having said that, it is the time of the month and apparently I may be retaining water so we will see what next week brings.

Whatever happens, I am sticking with it.

Thanks again for all the supportive comments which really help me stay on track. The reality is that in 4 weeks, I have lost ten pounds so have every reason to be proud of myself.

To have 5 disastrous dates, you have to have actually had five dates in the first place. This may be a struggle in my case and even if I can think of 5, it would be a bit of an admission to say that they were all disasters. Bear with me, I may have to talk about events with the opposite sex rather than real dates.

disastrous dates

1. Once upon a time, a group of colleagues used to go out after work once a week. One Wednesday, it became fairly obvious that only 2 of us would be going. I think the bloke involved had persuaded everyone else not to go keen to have his wicked way with me. It was a non-starter as I had got contact lenses that day. All I remember is being in pain and my eyes streaming with tears all night. All he remembers is that I was blind to his “signals”.

2. Once upon a time, a close male friend invited me out to dinner. There was a lot of nudge-nudging going on with our other friends as we set off. He got all dressed up but I had not realised it was anything special so just donned jeans and a jumper. That set us off on the wrong footing really. When the waitress came to ask if we would like a pudding, I was already covetting the cheesecake when he said that we would not be stopping for pudding. I was crushed. Needless to say, he did not get “dessert” either!

3. On another occasion, I went out for Sunday lunch with a fella. Suddenly, I had a major panic attack and had to walk up and down the car park for ages trying to calm down. All I remember is not being able to get my breath and my “date” being pretty unimpressed that his impact on me was blind panic.

4. Perhaps a really impressive disaster is the time that I went out with my landlord. I had adored him for months and we had both being invited to dinner with one of his colleagues. He rushed through the meal and told his colleague that “Kate and I need to go”. On the way home in the taxi, I was convinced that this was the day he would declare his undying love for me. I was even more sure of this when he sat me down and said he had something very important to tell me. What was it? Only that he was gay. I felt so stupid and I think he knew and made me a bacon buttie as a consolation prize.

5. There was the time I was out on a Quiz Night with a colleague. It was becoming pretty clear that we were interested in each other. Things were “progressing” when in walked his girlfriend along with her best friend. I left as it was clear there was unfinished business to be done. That night he told me he had finished with her and wanted me to go round. That would be too easy so I made him wait.

Three of these “events” were with my now husband.

Mummies Waiting

This week, I have decided to take a break from reflecting on memories of my late mum.

Dad was saying a few months ago about how life has changed through social networking. In the old days, you might hear of the passing of a former school peer years after the event. These days, you get to know quickly via Facebook.

This week saw the funeral of a girl from my year at primary and secondary school. I don’t remember much about her except what she looked like and a vague sense that she was kind to me once. I don’t even remember what happened or what she said but I remember kindness presumably around 35 years after the actual event. A tiny legacy but an important one as it shows how we can all impact on people for good or for ill.

Our year has lost so many people far too young. To my shame, the boys who have died I remember little about. The girls were diverse characters and I want to honour them quietly here.

There was the beautiful girl who committed suicide in her twenties or thirties. She was a wonderful girl, gentle and lovely. I remember her always seeing the best in people and trying to facilitate peace when there were girlish arguments. The last time I saw her was in a supermarket car park. I had returned from a nasty relationship breakdown doing the traditional scurrying home to my parents in a crisis. I was so raw emotionally and when she spoke to me in a friendly fashion, I remember being quite off-hand. I felt embarrassed that my dazzling life has collapsed so monumentally. The reality was she was just pleased to see me and not judgemental at all. I don’t know anything of her life once we left school and I wish I had stopped that day for a chat.

Then there was the red-haired beauty whose passing led to me finding a very old friend who I treasure. This girl and I were like chalk and cheese. I was the boring swotty one and she was the party animal or that is how I saw here. I never got to know her properly. Once, she came when I was babysitting for some boys and her brother got injured. We could have talked but we did not do so. At core, I don’t think we understood each other. Now, as a mother, I feel for her so much having heard how she chose her daughter’s prom dress knowing she would not see the actual prom. How poignant and how scary to any of us with young daughters.

There was the girl who you should all know the name of but won’t. She was a child actress who had already appeared in major tv roles and films by the time of her death and was going onto very great things I am sure. We did not get on well at all at school. I think both of us aspired to great things and we were not old or wise enough to allow each other glory without resenting it. Or perhaps it was just me with a big problem. Recently, a student has found out about this girl and set up a Facebook page and website about her. It has troubled many of my former school peers. It is a difficult one as none of us can get in the mind and heart of this person to work out their motives. How many of us have had posters of Marilyn Monroe or James Dean? Perhaps this is just a modern version of someone identifying with or moved by a talent who died too young. It is important to think of the feelings of bereaved though.

I was a university when I heard about this girl’s death. Dad walked in with a newspaper and her photograph was on the front of it. I did not investigate further as to what the story was about assuming that she must be in another tv role or that there was some acting-related story about her. I said something disparaging and within minutes had the biggest wake-up call when I realised that she had died in a car accident. I have never forgotten that moment and still regret my harsh words based on secondary school rubbish. I could run away from exposing this truth but if I do that, I am telling only half a story.

It is only this week that I worked soemthing out. I did French A-Level with this girl and due to shyness was absolutely rubbish at speaking French although I did well with written work. I turned up for the oral part of the A-Level and it was only down to the back-up and sense spoken by this girl and another that I went and did the exam. That actually means that without those girls one of whom is no longer with us, I would not have got into university. For me, that is quite a big legacy as my university experience has contributed so much to the woman I am today.

So here’s to some very special women who were lost way too soon. You all left your mark.

What can I learn from all this?

That life is fragile and to be cherished

That I have the capacity to be nasty

That it is important to stop and acknowledge people properly

That sometimes people change your lives radically and you don’t even realise till many years later

Yes, I was at college with Oscar-winning actress, Rachel Weisz. So what? I was at school with, well I won’t name her, but if you met her, you wouldn’t forget her. I hope she got that Oscar in Heaven.