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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Picnic

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It seemed a wonderful idea. My three friends and I ( known as the badger bitches, or The Coven’ to Andy) had decided that as we were unable to meet for our usual get together featuring gastronomic delights and fine wine  in my home as usual due to covid regulations , we would need to meet to exchange gifts and recharge ourselves in the way only a night with friends can do by meeting outside at a mutually convenient time. 

So we chose my special place which they have kindly adopted as ours at the Rollright stones. There we have plenty of space , we can pick a time when there are no tourists and sit and chat socially distant but together. But it is December, and cold. And wet. And very very cold ( Did I mention that?). Deciding it would be a bit of a lark to meet at sunset and take lanterns and candles .We had images of a night time picnic with us being central in the stones portraying a slightly mystical ,ethereal spectacle should anyone come by. 

I packed my picnic bag with hot chocolate in a flask ,  enough goodies to feed a small army( we each do this…its good to have choice!) and grabbed a picnic rug, candles and made up a bag of essential items for such a gathering. Lengths of ribbon, for doing witches ladders, pendulum and dowsing mat and a few other bits we might need depending on what candle magic we fancied . 

Away I went…this is going to be such fun i thought to my silly , naive self. Cosy in the car the drizzle was just a little nuisance, the heating and warm seats were comfy and cosy and the wind rocking the car was just adding to the excitement. I got out of the car. Ok. It’s a bit chillier than I thought but that’s ok…put on my coat…now I do not wear a coat. EVER. I don’t walk anywhere and driving in a coat is really uncomfy so my coat although kept in my car is usually neglected. This was testament as to how cold I was in the first few minutes! I was the first to arrive so determined to bagsy the only bench at the site  ( because who knew how many countless others might decide to have a wander around the stones in a gale in the dark ) I loaded up with picnic bag, camping chairs and bag of magic goodies. Stumbling and squelching through the quagmire I reached the stones…this is going to be ok I thought.

It’s an adventure! We are making memories! I set out the things and wait for the other girls to arrive, the wind is whispering through the trees, the rain a light mist, for about three minutes! Then it pours and the trees are no longer whispering. They are screaming and I’ve lost feeling in my toes.I check the time, they are late, but that’s ok, I am having fun. I tell myself sternly. At last the first two girls arrive, they have been waiting for me in their respective cars, of course why would anyone wait in the middle of a field in this weather? I greet them with a smile( it is actually a grimace but let’s not split hairs) and suggest we retire to the copse as it might be a little more sheltered.

Lugging all the bags again we stumble splodge squelch to the relative shade of the trees and find an area to sit. Pleasantries are exchanged, manic laughing ensues and hot drinks poured.into mugs Lynds has produced as gifts to demonstrate how much she cares for us each. Mine has a Robin saying Tosser and Jennys says Arsehole.  ( We know that Maries says Pisshead and I think that might be more apt for me at this stage of my life ). At this point Lynds shows us her hand with its white dead finger.

‘Its ok this happens lots it my raynauds,’,,and proceeds to swing her arm around like a windmill to force some sort of life back into it. The rain cascades, the wind howls the cold…permeates and we are still determined to have fun. The darkness falls and Marie arrives…with umbrellas and fully functioning toes and fingers unlike the rest of us at this point. She hands us each a candle and pulls out a box of matches and tries to light one…I glance at Jenny and we giggle childishly  as I hold a lighter…watching Marie struggle . except the match lights in the end and my fingers are so cold I can’t make the lighter work. 

The food is consumed greedily as usual and the darkness becomes thick. We sat huddled into ourselves and whilst  we would have so enjoyed making knot spells and lighting lanterns then frolicking in the middle of the stones in the night we are bloody freezing and after two hours of laughing and being stoic I suggest we go home. The girls are amazing, I know they are trying to keep my spirits up although we have made another ( very strange yet beautifully odd) memory we need a hot bath and to thaw out. We make our way back to the cars and exchange gifts. I will open Christmas morning and think about how lucky I am to have such unique and true friends. 

Home at last, I soak in the bath and think how Andy would have brought me up a coffee laced with whisky then sat and chatted about the nights events laughing at how silly we are whilst I warmed up in the deliciously hot water, instead I have two little dogs crying because they cant get into the bath with me… I am surrounded by love and the thought helps as I realise I’m crying yet again. 

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Grieving

A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Ice cream

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It has been cold , rainy , miserable and days since I have seen a human being in person. I think for the sake of my sanity I need to pop to the shop and buy ice cream. I will get essentials at the same time of course but right now all I can imagine is ice cream. The problem is I don’t keep much in the house anymore, gone are the days visitors would arrive and I’d frantically whip up some scones or brownies. Gone the days Andy would say I fancy a brew , do we have any cake and Id say so what do you fancy and if there was nothing in the tin I’d make him something quickly. 

I don’t do sweet stuff, but just occasionally the human body seems to crave things and science proves this is to do with the state of our emotions. 

So donning clothes suitable to be seen  in public I tug a brush through my hair and decide not to check a mirror in case I decide it’s too much work before I can leave the house. 

Smugly remembering to pick up a shopping bag – seriously I have  a retirement fund’s worth of bags under the sink but I regularly forget to take them – I grab a couple of dog treats to throw for my babies and yell ‘’ bye! See you in a while, be good! ‘’ and head for the car. 

I start my usual routine, bag, check, purse, check, keys, check mask… bloody hell. I dig in my bottomless handbag and pull out a mask that really needs a wash. Ok…that’s not good, i am sure I have some disposable ones in the glove box. No… they are now strewn on the floor in the back from when I entertained my grandchildren while my daughter shopped the other day. They are now drawn on, ripped into animal shapes and screwed up to be pretend birthday presents. 

Ok…do I go back into the house and upset the dogs or try something else first, I’m starting to go off the idea of going out but I really do need milk ,bread and just to see another human so I dig in the boot. Yay! I found one. It’s damp and smells a bit like mildew because its been under a bottle of screen-wash but it will do. ok…I can leave at last. 

Eventually masked up, trolley sanitised and a pound coin found in the depths of my purse I wander into the shop. I weave my way through the few people in the aisles, its odd to think this time last year we thought nothing of slipping past people or bending past them to grab things, now we are shuffling like wary crabs to keep distance and as I allow people past or they stand aside ,  I smile forgetting they cant see my mouth so think I’m probably just staring manically.

I grab the things I need and decide that will be enough, I’m not enjoying being in public, it feels weird and uncomfortable somehow and I am not sure if it is because of the situation we are all in or I am just becoming very antisocial and uneasy, I make my way to the ice cream and look at the array on offer, All I want is pistachio but as I have never found it for sale anywhere I will have to make do with honeycomb. 

Food bought and back in the car, home and unload. I’m so relieved to be back. I can’t imagine why I had been so desperate to get out in the first place.  I grab a spoon and sit with the tub of ice cream and cuddle up with the dogs on the sofa. I turn on some music and can feel myself actually calm down . The sweet frozen yumminess is like a burst of sunshine and a jolt of something akin to actual pleasure goes through me.

This is why I am the size of a whale, I seek comfort in food. Food has probably always been akin to happiness to a certain extent  for me but now I can accept it is what I am turning to for that quick fix, food you can replace easily, You can have without feeling guilty,( unless you are dieting but that’s a problem we won’t go into at this point) and it doesn’t die on you…

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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Knickers

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I think as I drive. Far more than I should and since I have been alone one of my main thoughts as I drive into town is that if I was to just veer into that tree for any reason I wouldn’t have to keep doing ‘this’ whatever ‘this; is. Now I am NOT suicidal or about to do anything silly so please don’t imagine I’m about to ! It just seems to be a thought that is compelling but very scary at the same time. I’d never do anything to cause my children and family pain and apart from that I have my dogs to get back to but still common sense doesn’t seem to come into my brain any more. 

I digress…  so today I was driving along the country roads and as usual I imagine the car hitting a patch of ice, a deer running out and I have to veer, the wheel suddenly flying off, a plane hurtling out of the sky towards me and I have to swerve…you get the picture Im sure and then I think, but  what if I survive! I will be taken to hospital and they will have to divest me of clothing and …OMG! I have recently not been mindful of one piece of advice I think we all need to follow, wear decent undies in case you get run over by a bus. My care when dressing has been woeful, I’m not even sure I get dressed some days unless I have to go to the shop which is itself quite rare but worse..

I need new knickers. The ones lurking in my drawers are well past their best and my ‘best ones’ are now my everyday ones. Now please do not think my best knickers are little wisps of silky lace…oh no. I’m not the size or shape for that sort of frippery! I look in admiration at the images of beautiful pert bums partially swayed in gorgeous items of lingerie and then scroll past to granny knickers. My folds of flab need some serious swathing and nothing less than something akin to a sail will do. I was brought up to believe that comfy knickers are the way to cope with life.You can’t concentrate and work well if things are not ‘sitting pretty’. Unfortunately in my case comfy knickers means apple gatherers or as Mum would have said ’harvest festival knickers’ all is safely gathered in! 

I spent the rest of the journey driving  more carefully and with caution as I contemplated the horror of arriving at A and E , horrific injuries ignored as the staff look at each other in horror and whisper about the state of my undies. 

Finally home I waste no time in logging in to my usual clothing sites, and view the offerings with a heavy  heart. I really want to see things in person  as I’ve made many mistakes buying knickers that are just not ‘right’ but with  the way the world is I will make an online purchase and hope for the best.

I look at lingerie , I scan sensible, I peruse pretty and eventually I decide, what the hell…I’ll order a few pairs of ‘nice’ but decently serviceable  and a stupidly priced ( ok there is enough silk here to have keep an entire silkworm factory in business for a year) pair of silky sexy decadent knickers that I will never wear because there won’t be a situation I need such beautiful undies for . But I will know they are there and I make sure my daughters know that should I ever be in a car crash please please make sure you go to my house find the perfect pants and wrestle me into them even if I have a broken spine before the casualty staff are allowed to examine me!

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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Perfume

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I have a scent that I always wear. I have tried others and I have been bought beautiful perfumes in the past but I always go back to the same one. Ghost.But the last bottle is nearing its end. It was bought for me by Andy and I am strangely scared about it being empty. I think I will have to buy another bottle before it runs out and leave a little in this bottle to be kept by my bed. I know he would think it ridiculous if he was here or could talk to me. It’s just a bottle and he didn’t make it. He didn’t blow the glass bottle or make the scent. He didn’t even go to town and pick it out carefully. It was like so many things just an online purchase. I don’t think he even touched the bottle. When it arrived it was gift wrapped and popped under the tree with a printed label. But it was from him and the silly sentimental person I am clings to the fact it was a present from him and so beyond value.

I do wonder if I have a smell ( hopefully not sweaty smelly or stinky!) because of my scent. Does it permeate the skin over time and become part of you? Some people wear a different scent for different occasions but I am not adventurous and so is Ghost part of my DNA now? My grandaughter picked up her tshirt the other day and declared to her mum this smells like Nanny Darling! I had laundered it so maybe it was my washing powder  or was it that she had been cuddling me whatever the reason her little brother grabbed it and declared it was Nanny too… Should I worry?

When I was working in the classroom the  children would often divest themselves of their sweatshirts during the day and we would have a stacker box in the room and at the end of the day  a monitor would give them out before home time. It was common for the children to smell them if there was no name tag and declare oh thats Tims or Katies! They just knew each others ‘smells’ so well. I am sure laundry comes to play in this but not completely.

I know there are certain smells that conjure up  memories of people.  A slightly musky undertone with Chanel number 5 and cigarettes is my mum. Pipe tobacco and suntan oil seemed to be my dad and even my dog has a certain lovely smell that is just his own. Andy was soap and something safe and just him. I often think I can smell him when I am half asleep and close to dreaming.

So now I have the dilemma, do I waste part of my bottle of perfume and leave it so that I can keep it forever and buy and use another bottle now or do I stop being so ridiculously sentimental and just use it up before I buy more. I know what Andy would say, But I know he would also humour me and just buy me another bottle and smile.  

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