Good Bye Old Friend.

I have been lucky. I have lived nearly 35 years without having anyone pass away. Yes, my Grandparents, and I miss them dearly. My granddad with his twinkly blue eyes and my beautiful Grannie who laughed a lot.  But I mean friends, people of my generation. People that are not supposed to die. The People that I am supposed to grow old and grey with. Everyone has them, you know, the friends that you shared amazing moments with but life took you in different directions. The friends that put a big smile on your face when an email pops up and you haven’t spoken to them in a while.

Today I was not feeling so lucky. I woke up this morning to an email that an old friend, Laura, from back in Scotland had left us.

Laura was continually handed the shitty stick with her health but yet that girl never seemed to bat an eyelid. She took all knocks in her stride and stuck the finger up to the reaper. I actually thought that she may be invincible.

Tears have been filling my eyes at the smallest of tasks today. Making porridge and thinking “Laura will never make porridge again”.  Then while out getting a Christmas tree, I couldn’t help but think that if only she could have had one more Christmas…

I have been sitting at this computer for hours now struggling to find the words that fit how I and many others felt for this completely remarkable human being.

Laura, thank you for just being. It really was a joy to have known you, even from a distance you had the ability to make me smile. Your memory, although tainted with sadness just now will ebb and turn back into smiles again.

Sleep well lassie!

 

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Spring Break

School is such a buzzkill. I know that in reality we can’t have an eternal Spring break and that actually I would probably go totally insane having all three kids with me all the time, but this week has been sort of magical. Even though Jacob has been missing for some of it, we totally made up for it at the weekend.

Our Easter week started with a bang. That bang being a friend (Rebecca) and her two kids arriving from London. Summer and Rebecca’s eldest were in the same class in London so they were super excited to see each other and talk about who was a bit naughty back in her old class and who was the funniest person ever.

Our apartment is not really the best for having seven people staying in it but we made it work. I now quite like the idea of having a wife or living in a commune. Seriously things just got done. We worked well around dinner, cleaned up after with such synchronicity that in next to no time we had all the kids in bed asleep and were sitting out on the balcony with a cocktail. Not once did I have to ask for anything to get done, it was just done. Beautiful!

We started the week with a trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is also my first trip to one of the local museums. Summer went here on a school trip a few weeks ago so she was really happy to show us around. In true London style we got on a couple of buses to make our way there. Not really sure why everyone uses their cars all the time here as it was super easy, although I’m sure it would be hell getting out to the beach on a bus…must google that!

The outside of the museum was pretty amazing, lots of room for the kids to run around. Inside the various buildings were photographs, paintings, sculptures…everything you would expect from a Museum of Art. It was not the most child friendly of museums, lots of marshalls around telling off the children for being too loud or fast. One fella said that art was not interactive and also not for children.. Not sure I agree with that one! However, they did have a children’s area where the kids could paint for a while and we could relax a little.

The next day we decided to go to Universal Studios. We had originally said we should go to Disney but it takes 15 min on the bus to Universal compared to a two hour drive to Disney, so it was kind of a no brainer with five kids in tow. We arrived at the park nice and early to make the most of the day. The older children wanted to go on all the rides, while the younger kids either couldn’t or wouldn’t. So Rebecca took the older kids while I took my young ones for a walk around. After a while of walking, Phoenix, Silver and I decided to take the studio tour. It could not be that frightening, right?! Hmm. Turns out that after 15 minutes of sitting on a train looking at various famous street sets you enter a dark tunnel. Then – in 4D – dinosaurs start attacking the train, spraying water and rocking the carriage back and forth. Phoenix and Silver both start screaming and shaking uncontrollably, fighting over who is going to be closest to me. I hung my head in shame for taking them on the tour…I could see the glares from the old biddies!

Next up was the famous animals show. I double checked with a steward that there was nothing remotely scary in this show. Apart from a few pigeons flying over head we were totally safe. Phoenix and Silver loved it, especially when one of the dogs from Beverly Hills Chihuahua came on stage. Oh, what a treat that was!!!

Then lunch and a run about in the water fountains and onto the next show, Waterworld. Seriously amazing. I love this stuff. Explosions and water flying everywhere. A crappy plot line. It’s so cheesy and fabulous…next time I’m going on my own and sitting in the splash area!

We caught a couple more shows and then it was time to head home with five tired kids –  and two even more tired Mums.

The rest for the week was filled up with kids arguing, winding each other up, then laughing and chatting. Kids are so amazing, I do wish I could wear my emotions on my sleeve the way they do.
Poor Jacob arrives home, tired and Jetlagged and I get him straight back into family life. Best way to get over the lag I say!

I had the weekend planned. It is Easter and we must find somewhere amazingly American to do an Easter egg hunt. Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark was going to be the place. So with a picnic packed we headed over to the land of oversized egg baskets. We hunted for sweetie filled eggs in a hay covered field and avoided the rather creepy looking Easter bunny. Really, what more could you want. Well, a little less sun, as being deep in the valley it was baking. We were baking. Being the pasty Brits we are (with the exception of Jacob) I was slightly fearful of us looking like “Brits on holiday” – you know, the lobster look. We did manage the whole day, taking a sun break in the hillbilly ranch style cafe and seeking trees to hide under. It was a perfect way to spend a family Saturday.

Easter Sunday arrived and we were going to a friend’s potluck lunch. I baked my Spanish Omelette just in time. The kids were all ready and off we went. Not really knowing what to expect as the friend (Tiffany) who invited us is really a new friend. Jacob and I actually met her the day before we got married in Vegas a couple of years ago. She was a gorgeous maitre d at the Paradise Cove in Malibu. She gave us her email and lots of advice on the different areas in L.A to live with kids. But on an actual day to day friendship level she is pretty new. Turning up at her house in North Hollywood for Easter Sunday was so fun. Her family and friends are just as amazing as she is. All gorgeous and welcoming. I felt like I had known some of them for years!

The Kids played outside. Summer playing catch, Phoenix running around with a boy his age trying out skateboards and Silver became the doorman for the day (or door person – don’t want to be sexist).

The Holidays are always so special, but this is our first one in Los Angeles so maybe that’s why it was extra special. Or maybe it was the friends visiting from the U.K or even the new friends making us feel welcome. What ever the magic factor was I don’t want it to end. Maybe I should home school. Maybe I should try unschooling, maybe I should go set that alarm.

Old Friends, New Friends.

The truth is that when you get to a certain age, making great friends becomes harder. Moving to another country, mid-thirties with three kids is certainly not the best idea for anyone’s social calendar. But then you make friends with someone quite special and you known that it is totally possible.

The past couple of months I have been hanging out with a gorgeous ozzy gal who makes me laugh like I’m a little kid again. This is great…apart from the fact that she is going back to England (where she actually lives) in a couple of days. We have had such fun. Mostly at her house with all our kids running about. Although a couple of times we have managed a night out – one at a 70’s bar which had a roller booting couple dancing on a bar roof. Another in a Greek restaurant, with dancing waiters (who made us dance too). Both nights we drank and talked, and talked and drank some more. It is not often you meet someone you click with instantly. Someone who gets your silly jokes and giggles along with you. I will miss her so much (but will be looking for her replacement!).

So I’m back to thinking about my girlfriends in London…what are they up to? Have they been for tapas lately? Or to Borough Wines? How was that 40th birthday party I missed? I feel both envious of the fun they will be having together and happy that the ones that met through me are still getting together. I wonder if it is like in a film, where they look to an empty chair and sigh saying “oh, we do miss Laura. It’s just not the same around here” The reality is they are super busy ladies with families and jobs. When they find time for a night out they will be sitting laughing and drinking as it should be.

The next glass of wine I have, I shall stop for a moment to think of how lucky I am to know such wonderful, driven and quite frankly adorable women. All of whom are totally mad in their own unique way.

I like that thought that we all have a load of friends out there that we have not yet discovered.

Old friends, even new friends are just that, Friends – no matter what the distance.