Well today is the day that I’ll be reaching my half century, 50 years old and I’m still not sure how that can be possible. Growing up I always thought that 50 was old, perhaps that was right, my knees would certainly concur, but in my head I’m still able to party all night.
50 years ago today was Good Friday, and my birth was heralded by monsoon weather conditions. My parents should have known then that they were in for a bumpy ride with their eldest child. I’d decided to arrive on one of the busiest days of the year for my Papa, who at that time was still a working Vicar. But arrive I did, a forceps delivery just like my own son.
I started life back in 1968 in Maidstone in Kent, with my parents. Their first child, their only daughter.
I clearly liked motorsport from an early age.
By the age of two and half I’d become a big sister to my brother, and years of sibling love and squabbling began. We don’t always see eye to eye, even now ( he doesn’t support Ferrari!!!) but when the chips are down we’ve always been there for each other. Who else could I mountaineer down the stairs with and still find the experience funny over 40 years later.
I must find out how on earth my parents still had Christmas Crackers to pull in April to celebrate my 3rd birthday, or perhaps that was a thing in the 1970’s.
We moved to Farnham in Surrey in the early 1970’s and for me that’s the place that will always hold a bit of my heart, it will always be home. My love affair with cats began in that house along with macaws (yes we really did have 2 of them in our aviary at one point). It’s as well for all concerned that the vast majority of photographic material relating to myself from the 1970’s and 1980’s comes from the pre-digital age and is with Mum in Spain or up in my loft! You won’t have to bear witness to me in a duffle coat, wellies and tartan flared trousers or shirts with very large collars.
It was a time when Sindy was the doll to have, Barbie was very much second best. I can remember queueing at the cinema in Aldershot to watch Grease and Star Wars. Both were epic in their own way. There were only 3 channels on TV, no remote controls and video hadn’t even been invented. Bagpuss, The Wombles, The Clangers and Pipkins made for classic viewing. Pippi Longstocking was my book of choice and the Bay City Rollers and Osmonds ruled the record player.
Aged 8 I met a friend who has stayed with me right until today. She’s my son’s godmother and a constant in my life. A true forever friend.
At the age of 14 we moved to Banbury in Oxfordshire, along with our cat and newly born kittens, the tortoise and an extreme lack of dress sense. It’s a move that hit me hard and was probably at the root of the troublesome teenage years ahead and a lot of friction with my parents. Because all 14 year olds know everything don’t they, and life is so unfair.
Duran Duran ruled my world and their Villa Park concert was the first of many I attended. Front row no less, it was the first of many pop concerts I’d attend over the years.
At the age of 18 I was away from home, had peroxide blonde hair, my ears pieced 3 times and I’d developed a love of Bacardi and Coke. That didn’t last. I met the man I’d spend pretty much the next 20 years with and my very best friend. A chance conversation in a pub (I spent quite a bit of my late teens in pubs and clubs) led to me becoming a house mate with the craziest, funniest friend I could ever ask for. We ending up working together and partying together. We are still inseparable. There is nothing she doesn’t know about me, she is the older sister I never had and she and my son have the most amazing relationship too.
Life was a little more settled in my 20’s. I bought my first house, passed my driving test on the third attempt and developed a love of travel. Oh and I had permed hair, it was the fashion, honest! I even got married, and walked on the bottom of the ocean when I couldn’t swim. Still the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I mixed a love of travel with work when I started working in Export and a career of 20 years began. I have so many fond memories of my first job within an Export Department, it was often far more play than work, and I worked with a great team of people and we had customers who really knew how to lead me astray. Yes that’s me leading the band, at Hannover Messe in front of a few hundred people. I might have had a couple of steiners by that point in the evening.
It was in my 20’s that I became an Auntie, I really had no maternal feelings in those days, but I always loved my nieces and nephews. We also got our cats Monty and Roxy, bless them, they were such a big part of my life for so long.
It’s a good job then that I had no idea what was to come in my 30’s. We moved to a new town, I got a new job and we celebrated Millennium Eve with dear friends and saw a solar eclipse. One of those dear friends was killed in a road accident a month later, I still miss him all these years later. His laugh, I miss that laugh.
My parents emigrated to Spain and I don’t think I had any idea how hard that would be to not have them 15 minutes away from home. Thank god for Skype.
By the end of my 30’s I’d moved jobs again and was divorced, living in a shared house with two work mates. They were good to me and saw me through some challenging times. I discovered a love of gin and tonic and went to college to learn Spanish. If only I could remember it all now.
I started my 40’s in the first house I’d bought totally by myself. Surrounded by friends and family I had a wonderful 40th birthday, a new start and little did I know what was to come. I’d met a new man and within the year I’d moved in with him, got engaged and as we started to plan our wedding, I discovered I was pregnant. We had been trying, I just didn’t expect it to happen.
I stopped work in October 2009 and never went back. If someone had told me that I’d ever be a Mum, and then a stay at home Mum I’d have laughed, loudly. I still can’t imagine what my 20-year-old self would have said to that, or even my 30-year-old self.
Becoming a Mum was life changing, I’m shattered all the time but nothing can prepare you for the love you have for your child. All of a sudden you realise how difficult parenting is and how hard your own parents tried, even when you thought they’d failed. They hadn’t, they’d just had to make choices you didn’t understand at the time.
I thought I had it all under control, second baby due in November 2011, things had been a breeze first time around. What could go wrong? Miscarriage. Devastating, upsetting even now, and I knew I couldn’t go through the pain again. A mum of one. Just my son. Enough.
I also lost both of my saggy old cats, one aged 17, one aged 19. Heartbreaking. They’d been with me through so much, almost half of my life. Brewster came into our lives and made his own space, he’s a very different cat, but much loved.
Then 5 years ago I began this blog, something to keep me sane, something for me, which become so much more that I could ever have imagined over those years. The blog has taken my son and I on some amazing adventures. Precious memories have been made.
Also having my son has brought new friends into both of our lives, friends who have laughed and cried with me over the last 8 years. Friends I’ll have forever now, I’m sure.
So here I am, bad hair day, vari-focal glasses with an 8 year old son and I finally got to meet another childhood hero, Paddington Bear. Life goals I tell you.
This is me, reaching my half century with a smile. It’s been one hell of a journey, a bumpy ride, with plenty of ups and downs. I’ve loved and lost the three grandparents I knew, I’ve watched my nieces and nephews grow up and find their way in the world, with the youngest just turning 16. I’ve become a great auntie. I’ve seen some of the world, enough that I can say I’ve travelled, and be happy.
I may well be over half way through my life now. That’s a bit of a scary thought isn’t it. Although I might just have my Granny’s genes and take after my great-aunt who’s going to hit 97 hopefully this year. I do feel old in the respect of all the changes that have taken place in my lifetime, it makes you wonder what the next 50 years will bring. When will tablets, mobiles and electric cars be old and outdated. When I started work we had massive VDU screens, a telex machine and mobile phones had just been invented. I remember the day our fax machine was installed and the excitement of that first message received. Are they even used now? They were 9 years ago, but then emails have overtaken the need for them I guess. So much from my childhood has been revamped for the 21st century but I’m yet to be convinced that anyone other than Julie Andrews can ever be Mary Poppins.
So this is a rather self-indulgent happy 50th birthday to me. I’ve barely scratched the surface of those 50 years in this post. I may well end the day with a glass or two of Prosecco, it would be rude not to don’t you think.
I guess it begs the question, do I need to change the blog name now? Or shall I forever be, just over 40?
Thank you to all the people in my life that have given me so many memories to treasure. I’m not always the best mother, daughter, wife, niece, sister, auntie, friend. I can spent the next 50 years trying to be better x