#100happydays.3

This one sat in my draft folder for the whole of drama school term 3, during which I had zero minutes free per day for 100happydays. I’ll pick it up again now I’m on holiday…

Day 27 #100happydays

What Gabi and I did on Sunday morning.

Day 28 #100happydays

Sunny school run and early morning piano practice.

Day 29 #100happydays

Another day off, another sunny walk in South Hampstead.

Day 30 #100happydays

Feeling down so took myself to the Garden Café to cheer myself up.

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Day 31 #100happydays

An impromptu dash to the Garden Café  with these two monkeys to escape the hail shower.

Day 32 #100happydays

With the fabulous Teal Swan at the Mind Body Spirit Festival workshop.

Day 33 #100happydays

Celebrating Orthodox Easter at a wonderful Romanian restaurant, Crystals Of London.

Day 34 #100happydays

Little trip to the London Transport Museum this morning.

Day 35 #100happydays

Not much better than a pile of new books and time to read them. Nailed Oresteia in one sitting in Foyles’ café. ✔️💪🏻

 

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GFCA – Postgraduate Intensive Diploma

It’s time I came out of the closet.

The Actor’s Closet.

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Giles Foreman

I might have mentioned briefly, and rather cagily in the past about my part time acting studies that I started a few years ago when the boys were really small, at the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting. It is a small independent drama school in Soho, well a drama centre really as they train professional actors too, founded by Giles Foreman who studied and taught at Drama Centre. He also has schools in Paris and Luxembourg. It was recommended to me back when I was too shy to tell people I had always really, really dreamed of acting, by my lovely and very kind friend Nick – who is a great actor and who I trusted not to judge me unkindly or laugh at me – and I wanted to be sure of getting a great quality acting class. And that’s exactly what I got, so I’ll always be grateful to him, first of all for being so warmly enthusiastic and encouraging me to go for it and secondly for giving me good advice.

So, here I am three years later having trekked through some highs of success and some tears of frustration and a couple of crash-n-burns, in the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced evening classes at GFCA with the brilliant Dylan Brown and then Giles himself, and still not satiated and not put-off and only wanting more seriously to do it, and realising how much I want and need to be trained.

So – amazingly for such an oversharing facebook queen – I have secretly and quietly prepared for audition for the 4-term intensive postgrad MA-equivalent course which I yearned to do (and nearly auditioned for) last year, when Lucian was still just that bit too small and I was just that bit not ready.

10952303_340903702768733_2298836491052096742_nI kept going to my evening class, crammed in some Othello on the CLS tour to Mexico in May and prepared Emilia’s monologue, “But I do think it is their husbands’ faults if wives do fall…” from Shakespeare’s Othello and Eva’s ‘Kindertransport’ monologue from Jonathan Lichtenstein’s amazing play Memory (which I am now desperate to see/be in a production of at all costs) where she describes to her childhood friend, now an SS-officer how she put her 5 year old son on the train to safety in England.IMG_3083

I studied, I practiced, I felt good about it, then I felt bad about it, I had some coaching, I cried in the bath a LOT, and then I auditioned on 17th June and Remus waited anxiously to take me for dinner afterwards, expecting me to be an emotional wreck (not that he expected me to fail – well, maybe we both did a bit, after-all it was my first acting audition of any kind, but whichever way he expected me to be exhausted and emotional, which I kind of was). And apart from not noticing myself get on the wrong tube line and exiting, to my surprise at Golders Green instead of Finchley Road, I was as surprised as he was to find I was in pretty good shape, kind of elated, kind of terrified, that I thought it might have gone OK!

But I still considered it a massive long shot. I’m 35, with no previous acting degree and two kids, there are only about 16 places on the course and I knew in my heart I was what Giles might call a Wild Card. So I forgot about it.

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And then I got this!

So, I just wanted to warn you all that facebook shares will probably plummet when my decade of immense contribution to Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, with my over-sharing and photo-uploads will most likely come to an end. I am warned I won’t have time. Thank you to a few wonderful people – my friend the fabulous Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca, the inimitable Dylan Brown and the gorgeous Rebecca Wield (who is currently already on the course and will begin her fourth term as I start my first) – for collectively providing all the coaching, tea, biscuits, wine and moral support I could have wished for. I am so grateful. See, it worked!!!

The person I most want to say thank you to is actually my husband Remus. He knows why. I don’t even know how to explain it here. In vague: for how he’s got behind this plan, which must have hit him like a tonne of bricks when I first brought it up; more specifically for the massive unconditional love and support that he poured on me during that Café Rouge converstation where I cried my eyes out about all the presumed judgment I thought would be coming my way from others for this, about all the money my parents and my late Grandad gave me to get me through my violin studies and my crushing sense of guilt about wanting to do something else; for saying to me, “Can I ask you something? Do you feel like a failure?” – “Yeeeees! That’s exactly how I feel!” – and for telling me, “Nothing could be further from the truth,” which I SO needed to hear; for the frequent removal of the kids from my vicinity so I could prepare and for understanding and supporting the fact that, as impractical and ridiculous a plan as this might look from the outside, this is something I really need to do, to be whole and to be me. For all of this I have never felt so loved, and never loved him more.

So, there it is. I am about to be a full-time student once again, both terrified and eager and wondering what kind of “me” I will find waiting in December 2016 when I (hopefully!) graduate. Wish me luck, and see you on the other side.

My 2015: Pre-planned & In Progress

It’s not like me to be organised or to plan ahead at all. In fact as a general rule I like things to be as unscheduled and surprising as possible – I think I’ve always enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity that brings. Some, probably most people prefer the sense of security, order and control that planning ahead gives them and need the sense of knowing (or thinking they know 😉 ) what’s coming. I, on the other hand, always panic if my diary becomes what I deem “too full”, too far in advance (by which I mean a month…) It’s as if I am losing control of my ability to choose my own life and giving my power away to whoever I have promised to meet, visit, work for, etc. I’d say protecting this flexibility and freedom in the life has become my driving force over the last few years, probably to the point of dysfunction!

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I don’t quite know why, but I’ve always felt a deep sense of security in having my life unscripted, unplanned and un-promised and in being free to change, cancel or create something in the moment, according to what’s going on in my world at the time – fitting in with what’s right for me and mine in relation to all those quirks of life that you can’t predict, not what you think will be right for you months before, when we are all, as far as I’m concerned different people to the one we’ll be a few weeks hence. It partly stems from a fear of being trapped and partly, since becoming a mother, from a deep fear of promising to do something that will separate me for too long from my children.

Somehow, however, this year, 2015 is turning out to be my most highly planned-out year yet. For the first time in years my entire life is getting booked up, day by week by month, to the point where I find myself planning a project in 2016 already and getting accidentally ahead of myself all the time, thinking it’s coming up this Spring rather than next.

And you know what?…  I like it!

This is probably because everything that’s going into my diary is awesome and exciting. I feel pretty blessed and grateful that this is my life!

So here it is….

My 2015

January & February

A crazy whirlwind of orchestral work, acting classes, Theo Paphitis’ #SBS Winners’ Event in Birmingham and visits from my parents, my parents-in-law and brother and sister-in-law from Bucharest, one after the other! To say nothing of Remus’ massive televised concert in Romania and all the work involved there, events and concerts here in London.

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March

Classical Babies‘ 5th Birthday Concert is approaching and my acting partner Natalie and I will be writing and filming a scene for our showreel together, needing a DOP, lighting, music, the works. It’s a big project and we’re on a deadline of 31st March.

April

On 2nd April, I fly to Bucharest for a couple of days to see Remus play Paganini 1st Violin Concerto with the Enescu Philharmonic. For those who don’t know, I love Bucharest, it is a home from home for me, full of friends and family, great culture and events and favourite places to eat & drink! A trip there is always a treat. From there, we go straight to Cornwall where our boys, Gabi & Luci will be waiting for us at my parents’, already on their Easter Break. We haven’t been able to visit Gorran Haven (literally my ‘haven’ from the madness and pollution of London) for months much to our collective disappointment and I am practically gagging to breathe the sea air, take walks and chill with my mum and dad. (Though I’m tempted to pop up to London for a few days for an acting intensive at GFCA. We’ll see…)

May

Classical Babies will feature at Music in the Round, at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield! On the 18th, my youngest, ‘Luci Puci’ will turn four years old (which I can’t believe) and on that very same day, I’ll be jetting off on tour to Mexico with the City of London Sinfonia (including a couple of free days to look around!). This is my first real tour and although I’m gutted at missing Luci’s birthday, we’ll celebrate the day before and he’ll never know the difference. My amazing parents, officially the best people in the World, will look after the boys. ❤

June

In June, Remus’ brother and sister-in-law, Lucian (Snr) and Dana come over with their kids, Eva and Vladi – exactly same ages as Gabs and Luci, minus 3 months! – and we will nail Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park and Thomasland, Drayton Manor in one weekend. (Crazy but has to be done!)

July

After a visit from my parents for my nth birthday and Gabi’s 6th (he’s already requested a minecraft cake), Remus and I leave the kids in Cornwall again (sorry, Mum and Dad!) and jet off to Sinaia, in the mountains in Romania to teach violin at a Summer Masterclass course. Also, to be honest to enjoy a bit of kid-free time together in a beautiful place, even if it is a working holiday.

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A summer holiday with the kids in Cornwall follows and then our lovely, car-crazy Dacia expert, Danuț (who lovingly and perfectly restored our Renault 12) and his family come to us in London. (I say our R12, and she is, but really it’s Remus’ baby.) Then, just one week later we’re into…

September

… when my Luci starts school! From then on really, Autumn is a big mystery, for the following reason… Oh man, this is complicated, it’s really needs a blogpost of it’s own to explain. But to oversimplify it, for this post’s sake, for a year or more now I’ve been really tempted to audition for this four-term Postgrad acting course (MA equivalent) at GFCA, the school where I’ve been studying part time for the last 2-3 years. Both boys will be at school at it’s time I really do something with my life. I really want to be able to get work as an actor and not just fanny-around with it like I have so far, but the course is crazy-intense. I’m on the fence big time. But that’s another post… Suffice to say, I don’t know what I’ll be doing with my Autumn. It could be that, or more classes, auditions, violin work, Classical Babies, being a mum, a bit of everything like I do now… Who knows. Whatever it is, I know it’ll be creative and I know it will be worth it.

Which brings us to…

December

On the 10th December my Classical Babies String Quartet will be part of a big Charity Christmas Carol Concert in Knightsbridge to raise money for my most loved charity The Lullaby Trust (who I did my Violin Marathon for in memory of Matilda Mae). It will be a really beautiful event that I’m so proud to be helping with. I can’t wait for Luci’s first school nativity and  the usual Christmas stuff with the kids and then, for the first time ever for us (me and the boys) and the first time in maybe a decade for Remus, we’re spending Christmas in Romania! I’m very excited, because we get to spend some quality time with Lucian and Dana and our niece and nephew in their new apartment in the centre of Bucharest and the kids will go bonkers together! Then the parents in law will come over for Christmas Day and the big dinner. Sarmale!!! (my favourite Romanian food) Then for a week after, over New Year, we’re going the four adults, four kids, to a cottage/cabin place in the countryside where the kids can play in REAL snow (not the kind of single-layer flakes that close Heathrow airport) and we can sit by the fire and drink wine! PERFECT.

So, not only do I have the most pre-formatted year up my sleeve, I also have great plans for 2016 including a joint Azoitei family ‘Bucharest-London branch’ holiday somewhere hot and kid-friendly in the Summer, but also a brilliant idea for a big Lullaby Trust fundraiser in memory of Matilda Mae, akin to the violin marathon but quite different. I can’t wait! 

Maybe being organised is the way to go after all… Though I really think that after all my years of playing it by ear will stand me in good stead when some of these best-laid plans of mine ‘gang a-gley’.

2013 Review

I remember the 1st January 2013 very well because I spent a lovely, happy day with my boys watching DVDs at home and out in the park in the mild sunshine and I thought at the time it bode well for a good year ahead… which for the most part it was, despite tiredness, some sadness and plenty of challenges. Here’s a quick look back at the highlights of life at Casa Azoitei through my eyes…

January

Gabs had been given planets and planet decals and a globe for Christmas and from the moment they went up in his room, his Space/Astronomy obsession ramped up a notch and hasn’t come down since. The boys played a lot of violin and we had a lot of snow:

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February

On 2nd February, my heart stopped when I read that a fellow blogger’s baby had died of SIDS. The blogging community rallied around her and somehow Matilda Mae’s brave mummy Jennie and I became friends and supporting The Lullaby Trust in Matilda’s memory became a new passion. My obsession with work, and indeed anything else fell away and all I cared for the whole month was spending quality time with my two beautiful boys and counting my very many blessings every day. We spent most of the month in the park, on the swings and painting…

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March

My March started super-well with two nights in Paris with Remus where we got snowed in and did zero sightseeing but had a wonderful time. I worked as a violinist a bit mostly with BBCCO, did a concert in memory of Matilda Mae for Mother’s Day and raised £200 for her Bliss Charity Precious Star Fund and Classical Babies turned 3 years old. Remus found out he was to be decorated Officer of the Order of the Royal Crown (a kind of Romanian MBE) by King Mihai of Romania! But mostly my theme of amazing time with my boys continued, the firsts signs of Spring appeared and Lucian’s terrible twos kicked in.

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April

I spent a week in Cornwall at my parents’ with the boys having fresh air, R&R and some amazing Reiki sessions which put paid to my cluster migraines. April continued trickily for us, with a major errm, I shall call it ‘misunderstanding’ (!) with a family member in Romania whose privacy I’ll respect because it’s not necessary to name them and anyway, said relationship looks to be going forward positively in 2014. But it happened to occur just before we left for a family trip to Bucharest and caused stress and sadness for all of us, not just at the time but subtley in the background for the rest of the year. However, we did have incredible weather over there, the boys had a brilliant time bonding with their cousins and Remus played some great concerts. In the end a trip I had to literally force myself to take ended up being pretty great! This was also the month Remus played an amazing Lalo ‘Symphonie Espagnole’ with the George Enescu Philharmonic and was decorated by the King.

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May

On 2nd May I drove down to Kent to meet Jennie, Matilda Mae’s mummy for the first time at the Matilda Mae Mile in Memory Walk and I played and took little violins. Lucian and I reached an emotional end to our breastfeeding journey when he had his last ever feed the day he turned two years old, 18th May. He also had a wonderful Winnie the Pooh party and got a scooter. Generally the combination of his terrible twos and Gabs’ above average naughtiness just about gave me a nervous breakdown for most of the month, yet somehow we still had a wonderful month.

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June

Nothing much happened in June. We took a lot of sunny walks around my favourite streets in our lovely neighbourhood and enjoyed what we didn’t yet know would be our last month there. We all stayed up late to watch the Super Moon. Gabs enjoyed his last month at the nursery he loved. June was sun, playgrounds, ice creams, lollies and Regent’s Park. The boys ran, and ran. It was just perfect.

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July

July was just NUTSO. The 1st was my birthday. Remus was away but hid my new violin case in the wardrobe, I had my last acting class before  a 6 month break and did this scene from ‘The Graduate’. The 3rd was Gabi’s last ever day at nursery and the day we found out we had to move. The 4th was our Gabi’s 4th birthday, his first morning at primary school and the day we found our new house! We threw Gabi a kick-ass Space Party, went for a holiday in Cornwall with my parents – got detoured to N. Ireland when my Grannie died, then back to Cornwall. Remus and I spent our 5th wedding anniversary apart while he packed up our entire flat in London and I holidayed with the boys on a Cornish beach. I was attuned to Reiki Level I, by an old family friend in the village before travelling home. I took the boys and the violins down to Jennie’s for the twins’ Gruffalo Party and also played at the BBC Proms in the Concert Orchestra. Crazy, crazy month.

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August

August. Moving month. Emotional upheaval. Endings. Gabi’s nursery ‘graduation’ on the day we moved. We explored our new home and garden, Childs Hill and Golders Hill Parks and Gabs and I had a series of “Mummy & Gabi Days” before him starting Holy Trinity Primary in September. I pretty much “love-bombed” him (as I later found out it’s called!) and loved every minute of it. I also played a second Prom with the BBCCO.

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September

There’s only one event that stands out for me in September and that’s Gabriel starting school. He was so, SO excited and really loved it. Because of his Aspergers traits we started to have more and more trouble with him as more and more children joined the class until it was full (they stagger the start dates with the youngest first) and he got overwhelmed. It took him a long time to settle but the school were fantastic and proactive about getting him assessed and on the special needs register. The month was full of meetings, form-filling and ‘incidents’ but somehow his enthusiasm hasn’t waned. We threw Remus a 42nd birthday party with the biggest violin-cake you’ve ever seen! and I played solo in the Vivaldi A minor double concerto at St. Martin-in-the-Fields with Remus in the audience watching me for a change!

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October

With Gabs at school I started enjoying some time alone with Lucian which I hadn’t really had… ever! He’s a cheeky little monkey when he’s out of Gabi’s shadow. I was out a lot playing with the BBCCO and working incredibly hard for Classical Babies. The excitement of the month was two days in Reykjavik with Remus seeing his recital and one of my bestest old friends Silla, who I miss so much. I love Iceland, we will go back soon. We celebrated Halloween.. some of us enjoying it more than others. 😉

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November

The 1st was the end of half-term and I took Gabs to Tower Bridge. It was a wet but wonderful day. We got soaked but he absolutely loved it. 2nd November was a special day. I went with the boys and some wonderful friends who agreed to play in a quartet with me at the Matilda Mae Welly Walk at Beale Park in Reading, to honour 9 months since Tilda died and to raise money for The Lullaby Trust. It was a truly fantastic day. We filled most other weekends with trips to our local park and messy play like Leaf Rubbing, painting and playing in the garden. On 28th Nadine and I went, as Classical Babies to the Theo Paphitis #SBS Winners’ Event in Birmingham and met the man himself!

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December

My first school nativity! Gabriel was an angel – “double irony” as Mrs Pillay and I both said … Oh how we laughed!! Despite his struggles to blend in to the class this term, he sat nicely, did all the actions and sang all the songs. I was most proud. I bravely took both boys to the school Christmas Disco and started to really feel part of the school community and felt truly at home and settled in our house for the first time all year. We got a kick-ass Christmas tree and posted a stupid number of photos of it on facebook and ate a hell of a lot of sweets. The Classical Babies Christmas Concert and Party 2013 was a great success with 56 people turning up with kids attached (that’s over a hundred bodies in the room!) … coincidentally the same number of times we watched ‘The Snowman and Snowdog’ on repeat. We had an amazingly quiet and happy Christmas at home just the four of us and I nailed Christmas Dinner. Yeaaahhh! What a fabulous end to the year.

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Happy New Year 2014!

Change is in the air…

… Lots & lots of change!

Maybe the most change that’s happened in one condensed period of time in my life. Life changes appearing like long awaited buses, three, five, six at a time. It’s quite, quite unsettling but also exciting, if I can keep my head!

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A couple of months ago, when I was feeling very emotional about something, I forget what now (and anyway, I’m always emotional so it’s hardly news) Remus said to me that he felt we were coming to the end of a long cycle in our lives but the new one hadn’t started yet so we were in this transition phase, a state of limbo which was making me feel unsettled as if some metaphysical rug had been pulled out from under my feet. (One of the many reasons I adore my husband so much: He totally “gets” me and my unseen emotional phases, like the moon! He’s awesome.) I don’t know where he got that from but little did we know at the time how right he was.

Now, in July the previously unseen is starting to appear in the form of many, many changes all coming at once. Some of them planned and others more surprising. The first week of July was a busy and emotional one, starting with my 33rd Birthday on 1st, which was also my last acting class at GFCA before the summer, where I had to perform part of the seduction scene from ‘The Graduate’ (playing Mrs Robinson felt appropriate somehow as I turned another year older *sigh*). Then the 4th was Gabriel’s 4th birthday and his very first visit into Holy Trinity Primary School to meet his reception class, followed by his last ever day at nursery. He has been at Active Learning West Hampstead on Tuesdays and Fridays for the last three years, he absolutely loved it, was so happy there making good friends who have stayed with him through the years and I kept having flashbacks all day to his first days there when he was just one year old, all the times of picking him up and dropping him off and the ten minute walk along the road having our little chats. It really felt like the end of an era and his teacher and I both cried!! At least little brother Lucian is still there so he can come with me to drop him off and visit.

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A teary Sabina with Gabs!

The next day, Saturday 6th July was Gabs’ 4th Birthday Space Party!! The theme was the solar system so I was up hugely late hanging planets from the ceiling and blowing up balloons. He had a wonderful time but somehow despite having the wonderful Natalie Hope from West End Bubbles doing ALL the entertaining for me I still wound up completely exhausted! It was probably the heat and the prosecco… I’ll blog about the party properly later.

I have completely failed to mention that while all this was going on we were waiting for news that we have to leave our home, the flat we have lived in for the last six years, pre-marriage and babies until now. Due to ongoing damp problems in the building combined with damage caused by a serious leak in one of the other flats, we discovered a huge amount of water inside the walls and under the floors and toxic chemicals building up meaning we have to leave imminently. While not exactly a shock, it had been weeks of surveyors and insurance companies visiting and mixed messages – you can stay, you have to leave, you can stay, etc. etc. – so we didn’t really believe it would happen, until last week we were told the flat is unsafe, needs gutting and we have to be out by September. Well, Remus is on tour in September and Gabs starts school. We have to be settled in a new place before then, so it dawned on us, just a few days before our summer holiday in Cornwall was due to start that we have to get out, like, NOW!

Would you believe it, two days later on Gabi’s birthday, we found a house?! Not too far from where we are now, and a HOUSE! With a garden and everything. It’s been a hell of a stress getting the paperwork sorted so we can legally leave and get into the new place but we have somewhere and Remus has already boxed up most of our life and we are definitely going. So goodbye to Broadhurst Gdns and the place we moved into newly engaged, the place I got dressed for my wedding in, suffered morning sickness and heaved my enormous pregnant belly around in, brought my babies home to and watched them grow, where one big brother met his new little brother for the very first time. It’s all happened so fast and I can hardly believe it but somehow I also feel so ready and convinced we’ll be happy in our new place. The boys will have a play room!! It has a separate kitchen! No more shouting at the boys to shut-up because Daddy’s teaching and putting them to bed late because their room’s next to the teaching room and keeping them cooped-up indoors! This can only be good for us! But it’s the end of an era…

So, the house found we decided we could afford to pack up and come down to Cornwall to my parents’ place as planned and sort the move out when we got back. The plan was that Remus would come for the first week then return to work and pack for the move, without the boys under his feet, and I would stay down here (I’m at my Mum and Dad’s now) for another couple of weeks. But sadly, the next morning we we woke up to the news that my wee Grannie B, my Dad’s mum and last remaining grandparent, had passed away (she’d been really poorly for a while). So we gave the boys a full day on the beach, planned what is a really tricky journey with two small kids, logistically, and set off to N. Ireland. It meant a lot to me that we all go, as none of my family over there had met Remus and the boys yet and I know it was really important for my Dad that we were all there. In fact, we made it like a holiday adventure for the boys and they loved it, but it was two days travelling each way and a hell of a lot of driving for us and time in the car for them and poor Remus’ only week’s holiday all summer was gone. No beach, no resting and no anniversary dinner/drinks by the sea for us! Poor man. He works far too hard and I wish so much he had his holiday, but I’m so glad we were all there to pay our last to my amazing wee Grannie, who had 11 children, 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren and without whom I wouldn’t be here! But yes, another change and another thing to get used to.

But for now, I’m having a lovely holiday in the Cornish sun with my boys while Remus packs our entire life up ready for the removals lorry. There are more changes afoot in my career/what I do with my days now Gabs will be at school and Luci is bigger but right now, I have to go to sleep, as tomorrow another landmark event: I get attuned to Reiki Level I, something I have wanted for years and I am so excited about. It’s a big deal so I need a good night’s sleep. Good night all.

Coco xx