Sometimes you just need your mum

I’ve written a bunch about my mad, bad family and I hope if I’ve got anything across it’s the idea that they are not exactly “normal” but I’m really rather fond of them. For example, I don’t believe in the Grateful Adoptee trope (for who are we apart from… y’know, individual humans?) but I do also feel a fair amount of gratitude in just being part of my crazy mad lovely family.

Anyway as you know, last week I decided to throw myself a bit of a boo hoo pity party. Usually I give short shrift to these, I mean, they really are a bit self indulgent – but if you can’t be self indulgent on your own blog, where can you? (Answer: stop being so self indulgent and do something nice for someone else… You’re even boring yourself!) So this week, buoyed by all your good wishes, I started as I mean to go on: with a bit of Happy.

I had arranged a while back to take my mum out for her birthday. It was a trip to spend a day together – she doesn’t live in London but now she’s an OAP (hilarious!) she gets cheap train fares so I said I’d take her out for a day in London. She wanted to wait until the schools were back and it was a bit quieter, and also she’s had a couple of ops to recover from. So I took Monday off and we arranged a little day just for her.

Here are some pics from the day.

Buckingham Palace. Once a year it’s open for a couple of months for the public to visit. They do a different exhibition each year and this year it is the state rooms where they hold banquets. You can’t take pictures inside but it really is amazing. If you look online it doesn’t really show the scale of the whole thing. This year we got to see the banqueting hall all laid out for a state banquet. There were gold plates, engraved crystal and huge candelabra. We also got to find out how they set it all up – days in advance! They even have measuring rules to see where to place things! It is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. There is an audio tour where you can listen to the info on headphones, which led to some funny moments when my mum did that speaking very loudly thing… Oh well! If you are ever in London at the right time over summer then you can reserve tickets here. I highly recommend it!

Claridge’s. After the tour of BP we headed off to Claridge’s. For those of you not in the UK, Claridge’s is an institution. It is a very posh hotel. I’m a bit of an afternoon tea fan so I thought I’d have to take my mum for afternoon tea. Unfortunately she couldn’t walk far as has recently had an operation on her foot so we didn’t get to wander round the shops as I had planned… Which meant we went straight there and arrived two hours early! We asked if they had an earlier table and they said they’d let us know if we waited in the bar. So we decamped to the bar for two of the most expensive drinks I’ve ever bought! Total cost for these: £35! And there were even drinks at £80 a glass! We did get free snacks… The cheese straws and nuts were nice (though possibly not worth the money!). We decided we’d stick to one drink rather than bankrupting ourselves but fortunately we managed to get an earlier table for afternoon tea… My wallet was saved! 🙂

We went through to the dining room. This picture doesn’t really do it justice as it’s very nice. There were huge floral arrangements everywhere. Pink hydrangea in huge bunches and smaller bunches of roses. There was also a pianist playing accompanied by a double bass. The lady on the double bass looked topless from where we were sitting as she was obscured by a piano and wearing a strapless dress! (I assume – perhaps she really was naked!) It all felt very decadent. Which is what you want for afternoon tea!

We ordered our tea. I had fresh peppermint tea as I don’t like tea. (Obviously not a true Brit. Maybe it’s the adoption thing…) Then our savouries arrived. Lots of yummy sandwiches, quiche and free refills! I’ve noticed a lot of places do this now. It means you feel duty bound to make the most of it! The quiche was cheese and onion – very dainty and tasty. And the sandwiches were from L-R: Smoked salmon (yuck!), free range egg (v traditional), chicken with a ceps mayonnaise (v tasty), cucumber and cream cheese (also v traditional) and ham and celeriac remoulade. They were all very nice apart from the salmon which I switched with my mum as she doesn’t like the cucumber ones!

Then we had scones. These are a bit like what Americans call biscuits as far as I can tell, but we have them with jam and cream. (And what we call biscuits is what you guys call cookies! Can you imagine the shock when Brits find out you serve scones for breakfast with gravy!) Anyway there’s a whole debate over whether you add the cream Devon style or Cornish (from Cornwall) style. Clotted cream tastes like cream but it’s the consistency of butter. I can’t remember which style I use but I add the cream first, in place of butter, and then the jam on top. They usually serve scones with strawberry jam in England but this jam was something made from tea. Considering I don’t like tea, it was really delicious! We had fruit scones and plain scones. I could only eat one as I was so full already! They were quite small as scones go but quite frankly I couldn’t even manage both of them, so it really wasn’t a problem!


With afternoon tea you also get a selection of cakes – the main event. All the posh places now compete to do the fanciest ones. These were rather fancy but quite traditional (no theme, like some do themes like the Pret a Portea at the Berkeley – where they do cakes inspired by this season’s fashion collections! Or the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea at the Sanderson, which is my favourite). I really was stuffed by this point. I had the hazelnut choux bun on the far right and the chocolate raspberry one. They were both delicious!

Then as I had asked in advance if they could do something for my mum’s birthday, they brought out a birthday plate! This was complimentary and she was really chuffed. It definitely got me Child of the Year award! 🙂

Finally – just in case you’re not stuffed  enough, you get little boxes with fresh chocolate truffles. They really give you a very spoiled experience.

As we couldn’t eat everything, they boxed it up to take home. My mum insisted I take it all as she has my dad on a strict diet! He was always quite skinny when we were younger but now he’s older his metabolism has slowed down but his appetite hasn’t! He’s not really fat or anything but he has a very sweet tooth. I got into trouble for smuggling him some contraband sweeties last time we met (and I sent him a small care package of my favourite cheese and a small fruit cake for his birthday – last year I sent him a giant personalised pork pie!). So I took home the extras to T. He was very pleased! Dog tried to get in on the action but was sadly denied!

Overall we had a really nice day. I think if you’re one of four especially then it’s nice to spend some 1:1 time with your parents. Of course we haven’t always seen eye to eye so don’t get the impression we are the kind of mother daughter who make you want to vomit with their “best friends” schtick. 🙂 My mum is definitely my mum and my dad is my dad! But I think now I’m in my late 30s we can relate on a more adult level and I am a bit less selfish and self absorbed than I was in my 20s! Plus they’ve probably calmed down their expectations a bit as the options of becoming a doctor / lawyer / President of the United States are all no longer open to me!

One thing we did actually get to discuss was the whole forum and adoption thing. We didn’t discuss in any depth but we did touch on my latest experiences (of adopted people who had a bad time of things and now feel upset about having been adopted), not in the context of anyone being right or wrong but more in the way of saying how I don’t feel that way. We discussed how we were always treated as “their children” and the adopted ones weren’t treated differently – I am glad that we were and never felt we might get taken back or anything. I even told my mum about this blog in the knowledge that she’s only just managed to master SMS and Skype and is unlikely to go looking!

Interestingly my mum said that she did feel they had been a bit naive and hadn’t expected there to be such a big deal about race – we were brought up largely in this kind of “colourblind” mentality to which I think there have been pros and cons. Like I truly didn’t grow up thinking there was anything inherently differentiating in personality or needs based on the colour of people’s skins. I didn’t think I was inferior because I had non white skin, but then again, I did learn that people would treat me differently because of it. I know now that the tide has turned on people’s feelings re race and I’ve learned from the forum that in America at least, skin colour is a very big deal. I think the colourblind thing gave us benefits in one sense but also left us quite ill prepared to face racism in the big wide world… but then I guess it depends whether you blame adoption, parents, upbringing etc for that or you blame the world. Personally I blame the world for being racist rather than my parents for being white, but that’s just me!

It’s funny though, my mum even said she didn’t think people of my ethnicity got much trouble in the UK (to which I put her straight! She does know of previous incidents but she forgets!) and also we just talked about how people deal with stuff. Like I’m definitely one of those people who doesn’t really dwell on things – I even said about dad’s saying (“There’s no point worrying about things you can’t change”) and we had a little giggle about it. (We were drinking an early G&T at this point!) We talked about sibling #2 and how happy we are that the earlier problems seem to have gone away (#2 was also adopted and had quite a few issues growing up but is super happy and settled now, engaged to be married, all good!). Plus we talked about how the world is hopefully changing – in the context of my gay sibling and how we don’t expect there to be the level of homophobia in the past. I guess we all have our things. (Apart from #3/RFB who is just the archetypal white hetero one!) What is fundamental to happiness, I think, is our ability to process the unfairnesses and injustices and grievances and make the most of our lives.

For me that means not focusing on the bad stuff. For sure I do have to deal with any number of small irritants and a few big ones, but I find that it’s unproductive for my life to focus on them. I’m just too lazy to go around feeling bad all the time… It takes effort! I think that may be down to my personality or it may be down to my upbringing, or it may be a bit of both.

Today I went to my follow up occupational health appointment. The doctor had said last time that she thought I should come back and see her in a month’s time as she was a bit worried about me. But it’s now a month and a bit on from the last time (took a while to get the appointment at a mutually convenient time) and we really seemed to have moved on hugely since then. She asked if I still felt sad about PB and I said yes, but not debilitatingly so. I think my first pregnancy and miscarriage after IVF will always be a big experience in my life, but I am not the kind of person who’s going to be doubled up in grief for the rest of my life… I will always carry that sadness with me, but I’ll be okay. Because I really feel like I will. I feel a lot better, and maybe I’m in denial or something or maybe I’m just pretty quick at moving on. I’d like to think it’s a coping mechanism that I’ve got honed to a fine art!

I think for me it helps to focus on the stuff in the future. Like, I know I can’t see anyone about my fibroid until October, so there’s no point in spending a lot of time thinking about it before then. We can’t restart IVF until that’s sorted out, so I won’t try and get in touch or schedule anything before then. We’re off to the Magic Kingdom / USA next month so that’s what we’re focusing on and looking forward to… booking restaurant reservations, organising fun surprises for T and our schedule for the parks! (Squeal!) And buying cheap Disney clothes! I have a haul of them and I reckon I can get through the entire week with only wearing Disney clothes. 🙂

And before then, this month, I have a large wedding cake commission for a friend’s wedding so that’s exciting too. And after our trip to the US (our favourite place even disregarding WDW!) we will be looking forward to Christmas. I really love autumn (fall!)/winter when everything gets a bit chillier and cosier and we can have hot chocolate and cinnamon and wear awesome winter coats and everyone’s getting excited about Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year. I mean, I do enjoy the sun but autumn’s the best because it’s all about getting ready for Christmas!

And more immediately: We’ve been looking at houses. It’s all very exciting even though we probably won’t do anything about it for months and months but it’s nice to dream.

And I guess that’s the thing: I’ll never stop dreaming, or enjoying the happy stuff. Life’s too short to feel miserable for long. We all have a little wallow once in a while but I don’t want that to define my life. My task is just to keep adding fun things into the schedule to look forward to, and to enjoy the happy things when they happen. Which, when you have a T and a Dog, is pretty much all the time.

I know that a lot of you have been recipients of some pretty crappy news lately and I want to say: I’m thinking of you. I know that discovering this community was a lifeline to me – almost a lifetime ago! back in April I think it was – and I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you. You are all making a difference to people’s lives, people like me who felt completely alone and logged on one day and wrote a little something and put it out there, and got all this love and care back. And when we were going through the dark days you were all there for me (and us) and sharing your own experiences and making me feel like there was someone out there who cared. Some of you have even become my “IRL” friends (okay, we haven’t yet met in real life but we’re a part of each other’s virtual lives and I feel like I know you!). I mean, that’s pretty awesome. If I was going to be Pollyanna about it (I’m not) I’d say that you are making the world a better place, one friend at a time! And that’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?

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26 comments

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    Your day with your mom made me smile! The pictures are amazing and the conversation sounded very real. I appreciate real! And i think you make such a great point about being able to process the unfairness and injustices in life, no matter what they are.
    I also am glad you are doing okay with everything. I think we are a lot alike in that we have had defining moments in our lives (i.e. miscarriage) but we will continue on, hopefully in a positive way most days.
    And congrats on the wedding cake commission!! That’s just awesome!

    Like

    • Nara

      Thanks! It really was a fun day. I’ve decided I need more of those… Why not?!

      I think we are lucky to be able to process these things. I don’t think I’m any more special than other people who don’t – I’m just different in how I think about stuff, and it works for me. I carried a lot of bitterness for a long time and it was unproductive. I am pretty lazy so it’s not a moral thing- more just I don’t want to spend a lot of effort on feeling bad!

      Yeah, happy about the wedding cake although slightly worried! Ha!

      Like

  2. thegreatpuddingclubhunt

    Your post is crazily packed full I am not sure I will remember everything I was thinking when I read it all!!!

    Buckingham palace!! It’s rather awesome??! I applied for a summer job there when I was at school, but clearly wasn’t posh enough to get it. The one interesting thing I discovered about the palace is that in December they don’t switch the heating on. Seriously, no one can accuse the Queen of wasting her pennies!!

    Tea at Claridges – how amazing!!! I am incredibly jealous. They do sell ‘Scones’ here in the US, but they are usually blueberry, raspberry etc flavoured and the texture is not quite the same. SO MUCH glorious food!!! May I ask how much the whole afternoon tea cost?

    I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to race and skin colour comparing US to UK. It is the number one thing that surprised me here – how much racism there is. Especially as I am a Londoner it was an even bigger shock.

    Your Occupational health appt seemed to go v well….it’s great that the doc wanted to check up on you.

    I will toast you to your holiday adventures, new house dreams and random fun filling – I think I am going to be following your lead, so Cheers!!! And before you know it, in no time you will be fixed up ready to start your new cycle. Whoop whoop!! (Sorry my comment is almost as long as your post ;-p)

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    • Nara

      Yes! You should definitely go one time when you’re back over here. It’s open over summer when the royals pop off on their hols! 🙂 I’m not sure how posh you have to be to work there – they seem to have a lot of extra employees for the open days, but perhaps they have full time BP jobs when it’s not open! I’m sure just polishing and vacuuming is several full time jobs!

      Claridge’s was great fun. Although seriously… two drinks for 35 quid! WTF! It’s really nice to be able to treat my mum now I’m a “grown up” though. (Cough!) I think the afternoon tea was something like £55 each. Most of the high end ones are around 50ish and then it’s a bit more if you have a glass of champers – but they do all seem to do free refills now. At Pret a Portea and Sketch we even got extra cakes to take home. I love afternoon tea so if you ever need a recommendation, let me know! (If you want a cheaper one then the Wolseley is good, or the Orangery at Kensington Palace.) We take afternoon tea seriously! 🙂

      I always wonder about race in the US. Like… I know it sounds selfish but I think my race (not black) gets a bit less trouble in the US. I don’t know. All I know is that I always have a great time when I’m there, and even when I’ve been there for work, I’ve still enjoyed it! I suppose it’s different if you live there.

      I’m with you on the fun stuff! We’ve got to concentrate on that! I think the trick is always to put little things in to look forward to. And I know I say it all the time but… get a dog! Seriously, I think Dog is the single most productive source of happiness I’ve had in the past couple of years. (T is awesome too, but Dog is just so… licky!) I’ve just taught Dog the “kiss” command, whereupon he gives me a half-hearted lick on the lips and then looks at me expectantly for a treat. I don’t think I could get much more happy if I tried! 🙂

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  3. ashleykyleanderson

    Sorry to disappoint your mum but I think becoming the POTUS (President of the US) was probably never an option since I’m pretty sure you have to be a “natural born citizen.”But it looks like it’s all turned out well for you anyway. 🙂

    Also re: scones. It is really difficult to find good scones (and clotted cream!! I’m so jealous!) here. Our biscuits with gravy are… maybe flakier? I’m trying to think of how to describe them. They look similar but they are more savory. When you’re in the south next month you will definitely be able to find and try them! You may even get them as a free side with your meal.

    As far as the tea goes, I can’t believe you don’t like it! You really must be American at heart. We don’t drink it too much here (coffee is the beverage of choice) unless it is iced, which I don’t like as I think it tastes wrong cold. Funny enough, Elle is from a southern state where they drink a LOT of iced tea, and she didn’t even know that people drank it hot until she was waitressing as a teenager. Apparently a group of quilters made up of older ladies “came down from the north” (she always makes it sound like the north and south are different countries, haha) and ordered some. She thought it was the weirdest thing.

    Also, I am remembering more British culture questions I want to ask you. Like, why the heck do you guys not use top sheets? Don’t you get hot at night with just a comforter? Or do you sleep without anything covering you at all in the summer?? I could not work up the nerve to ask someone over there!

    Oh! (There are so many things I wanted to say while I was reading this and I just remembered one more). When you said the Palace was set up for a banquet, I immediately wondered if it was to celebrate Queen Elizabeth as the longest reigning English monarch. Almost no one is even mentioning it in American media which makes me sad because HISTORY. It would be so cool if you saw the set-up for the actual celebration!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Darn it! No POTUS for me! I think I’ll be okay… I’d rather just enjoy the US rather than have to run the place! 😉

      Ahhhh clotted cream! I don’t know why you don’t have it! But you know, you have different tastes there… You have Hersheys chocolate which tastes soooo weird to us Brits! I love clotted cream but I think whipped cream also works. Clotted is just a bit easier to spread on a scone. We don’t have flavoured scones really – just plain or fruit (which means raisin, not other fruit). I’ve had biscuits! Never again! Same goes for grits! (24hr Waffle House in Nashville, haha! I love waffles though, but not as much as french toast! We have french toast but it’s not as nice as in the US, for some reason!)

      That’s SO funny about Elle and the tea. I think it’s because I grew up overseas in a hot country so as a child (which is when most Brits learn to drink tea) it wouldn’t have made sense to drink it. I never even had a fizzy drink till I was much older. I love peppermint tea (the fresh stuff) but I don’t like the taste of tea!

      Top sheets… I don’t know what they are! Do you mean like extra sheets on your bed? In the UK we have duvets (quilts) and most people use them all year round. But you can get a summer duvet and a winter duvet. In summer it usually doesn’t get that hot that you don’t want a duvet, but we tend to sleep half-in-half-out (and have a fan/free standing AC). But sometimes if it’s super hot then we would just use a duvet cover (a double sheet with a hole at the bottom to stick the quilt in). But most of the time we can’t be bothered to change it! I assume everyone in the UK does the duvet thing as that’s all I’ve seen – when we lived in a hot country we just used sheets though. I think in the US you have a sheet and a blanket (like a woolly thing) on top? That’s too many sheets for me! 🙂

      Yes we have the longest reign – this week! There is loads of stuff at BP about it. A whole purple line in the shop! 🙂 And programmes on tv. The banqueting hall was set up for another state banquet as it was illustrative – it was for when the PM of Singapore came to visit I think, 2014. Like all the place names were out and the cutlery and crockery and crystal glasses and so on. Pretty amazing to see! The plates are made of gold!

      Like

    • Nara

      Aww you should! I always find it funny that people come to the UK for a visit as I love going elsewhere… I guess you always kind of take it for granted where you live. London is different from the rest of the UK though. Like people often forget we also have Scotland and Wales and Ireland too – they’re all great to visit!

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      • MrsD

        Someday I hope to go! The only place in Europe I’ve ever visited is Spain (and I was 17 at the time, so I probably didn’t appreciate it like I should have). I probably take the US for granted- like “why would anyone want to visit HERE when they’re already FROM somewhere way cooler!?” 🙂

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      • Nara

        Hahaha that’s hilarious. I’m like Joey in Friends who wants to be a woman so he can sit around and play with boobs all day… That’s how I feel about the USA! I would be there all the time! I guess we always take our own country for granted. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ourgreatestdesire

    Your day with your Mom sounds wonderful. I love being able to have full days with my Mom. It rarely happens even though we’re only 30 minutes away from each other, but I still love it. In regards to your miscarriage, I also felt like I moved on from mine kind of quickly. I know that I have kind of become numb to death and people dying, just because I’ve had so much of it in my life the past 8 years, so I’m guessing that is part of it. I hope you have the best trip to Disney…I’ve never been so I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    Like

    • Nara

      It’s great, isn’t it? Really nice you live so close to your mom! I wish mine lived closer… When I was younger I was quite glad of the distance (so she wouldn’t pop in when my house wasn’t cleaned!) but now I think it would be nice just to be able to pop by on the way home from work or something.

      I’m so sorry you’ve had so much death in your life over the past 8 years. That’s sad. 😦 I hope that it’s all onwards and upwards from here! You should definitely go to the Magic Kingdom (whichever one is closest to you) if you can! I know it sounds strange but it’s nice to go to a place where everyone is happy. x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Aww thanks! It’s lovely to think of you starting your day in the office with a smile. My mum isn’t actually that close (about 2 hours train journey) but she’s retired so she has a bit of time to be able to come and visit!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Yes do! Which ones do you like best? I really wanted to go to Claridge’s. I think my fave is still the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea at the Sanderson. Alice in Wonderland themed!

      Like

  5. stealingnectar

    This is such a great post! From the amazing scenery with your mom, to the deep conversations you shared with her, and then to your amazing positivity that seems to have rubbed off on me a bit this morning! I truly appreciate your outlook on so many things in life. You remind me to calm down (and carry on – haha). But seriously, if I can remember to have a dose of perspective by remembering how you deal with it all, I may be able to really live deeper every day! Thanks for always sharing and thank you for your amazing friendship and support!

    Like

    • Nara

      Aww thank you! I think the deep conversations were helped by our early G&T! 🙂 But I do share quite a lot with her now I’m a bit older. I guess it helps to know that she went through something similar before she had us. And I’m glad that positivity helped you! I don’t want you to think I’m all sweetness and light though… I’m British and we like the dark humour and sarcasm! But I’ve definitely tried in the past couple of years to be less of a misery guts! I am a big fan of the American Dream as you know! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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