Thursday, 26 July 2012

School's out for Summer

The school summer holidays are enough to strike the fear into the heart of even the most child-centred parent (and I don’t really count myself as one of those.) Every year I fall into the same trap of thinking “this year it will be different”.  I am by nature a glass half-full kind of person so as soon as the sun comes out I start fantasising about perfect family picnics and Jamie Oliver style barbecues.  I have visions of warm, hazy, golden days where my children are at one with nature and occupy themselves for hours while I lie on a vintage picnic rug (which I will have picked up from a junk shop for 10p – how clever) eating strawberries, reading a book, glass of wine in hand.  Most importantly I will have perfected a boho chic summer wardrobe that looks great with the vintage picnic rug.  I think you get the picture and it should be blindingly obvious that I AIM TOO HIGH!

This is the reality of my summer holidays so far:

It has been raining since March and shows no signs of stopping. I could almost bear this when I felt  (to quote our Prime Minister) like “we were all in this together”. But then the South (and by South, I mean south of Preston) went all hot and sunny.  Cue all Radio 1 DJ’s and BBC newsreaders talking about the glorious weather, when half the country is still under a dirty big cloud.   Anyway, BBC-bias rant aside, what this means is that I have three children cooped up in the house all day and a husband who is working away for the next 19 days.  The blue-skied, golden fantasy of cooperative siblings being at one with nature is, in reality, three bickering kids fighting over who goes on the iPad next.

The obvious response to this predicament (and the path which my sister has decided to take) is to turn to 5 p.m. glasses of red wine (served with copious amounts of cheese and crackers) to help numb the pain.  However this is a slightly problematic approach for someone who is supposed to be on an MS low saturated fat diet plan.

So I need an alternative plan and I have decided that being pro-active is the way forward.  I keep reminding myself that this time last year I had two whopping MS attacks and was basically off my feet and out of action for two months.  The summer holidays were a total wipeout for both me and the kids.  I didn’t even get as far as the fantasy last year – I was too busy concentrating on getting better. This year (touch wood) I am at least fit and healthy so I am determined to make the next few weeks as fun as possible.

With this is mind, on Tuesday I rang my lovely friend in London and asked her if it would be OK if the kids and I came down on the train to stay with her this weekend, with the intention of soaking up some Olympic atmosphere and watching the Men’s Cycling Road Race which passes near to her house. Her response was so enthusiastic I immediately booked the tickets and we are heading down South on Saturday morning. The kids are so excited they can’t sleep. During one conversation with my friend the word “picnic” was mentioned and suddenly the warm, hazy fantasy had become a little bit more of a possibility.  All brilliant, except that I have just checked the forecast and apparently it is raining in London on Sunday!

More pro-active news:

Yesterday my sister and I took the kids to the local agricultural show.  Sounds idyllic doesn’t it?  We travelled on an open top bus (great), got a deal on a family ticket by pretending we were lesbians with kids* (bargain) and then spent the next three hours listening to our children whining about going on fair rides / bouncy castles / donkey rides / harrier jet simulators / bungee ropes(all hideous). The kids weren’t even that interested in the animals.   Thank God my Dad arrived with his bonhomie and more importantly his wallet.

Admittedly not a great start to my new pro-active approach but I am determined to stick with it.  Next week I am determined to go up to Coniston and mess about in the lake whatever the weather.  That’s what waterproofs and flasks of coffee are for.  Just maybe the sun will come out, the countryside will be transformed into a green and pleasant land and I can lie on my picnic rug reading a book and grab a few minutes peace before the bickering starts. I told you, I am a glass half-full person.

* this is not strictly true.  The Rotary Club very kindly offered us a family ticket on the basis of us being sisters not lesbians.


  1. Hi Mel, I've just read all your blogs. Phill Gregg sent me the link. I had what the dr thinks was an MS attack last weekend, It's affected my eyes, hands, legs and balance. Anyway just wanted to say thanks, it's comforting reading your blogs x

    1. Hi Ann

      Phill mentioned that you might get in touch. I am really sorry to hear that you are going through all this - being diagnosed is definitely an emotional roller coaster. Have your symptoms improved at all and are you getting any steroid treatment? Have you had an MRI yet?

      I was diagnosed almost 15 years ago and am still fully mobile and generally fit and healthy but I know I am lucky. I have also started taking High doses of fish oils (6 high conc capsules daily) , and approx 6000 IU of vitamin d3 drops each day. I have also tried to cut down my saturated fat levels as much as possible. There is loads of information on the swank foundation website and overcoming multiple sclerosis website about these lifestyle changes. My attitude is that as all the things they suggest are basically healthy living and therefore good for general health anyway, then even if they don't work for MS then you will be as healthy as possible (the long term evidence seems to show that it does work for MS though).

      There is a dedicated MS nurse here in ulverston but I think she covers the whole area. You may already know about her but if not her name is Judith Brassington and her number is 01229 484038 or 07825114200. She is brilliant and provides you with direct access to the consultant neurologist dr Footit.

      If you ever want to chat feel free to pop round for a coffee or just email me.

      Hope you are feeling better soon.


    2. Hi Mel

      Thank you. I had a week of steriods and the Dr has been brilliant. I'll see the neurologist in 8-10 weeks. The symptoms have got better. My vision is back to normal and i still lose the use of some fingers but sometimes my hands feel normal. My balance is off and my legs feel a bit shaky but i can still walk ok. I'm carrying on with work etc as normal just slower and I'm making sure i get out for more walks. I followed those brilliant links from your website and I'm eating loads of makerel and sardines etc and eating a more healthy low in saturated fat diet. This is hard especially being such a pie and cake lover but saying that I'd rather have the use of my fingers than a vanillia slice. Thanks for the info on the local MS nurse, she sounds great. Thanks for being so lovely. I'm generally upbeat but at low points it's a bit frustrating. It's great feeling so supported. I seem to be feeling better every day so long as I don't get stressed. Thanks again.
      Ann xx