Sunday, 20 May 2012


Late last year my youngest step-daughter came home with a request - "Dad, can we host a Spanish exchange student?" Fist question from my husband was "Why can't your mum?" As it turned out a majority decision in their house had prevented said Spanish child going to their house so we decided that it was be an interesting experience and so agreed. Once the forms had been completed and all was good to go, reality sunk in.

First was the bedroom she would be staying in needed to be decorated. As she would be staying in my eldest step-daughter's bedroom, the choice was hers. Raspberry Blush - somewhere between pink and red. Then the lounge needed to be done which involved new carpet as well. This visit was turning out to be expensive! We weren't the only parents to be doing this. A quick poll among the girls resulted in every set of parents at least decorating. One set of parents wanted new windows!

The school had given us a plan of what was to happen. First evening was family time. Thursday and Friday daytime was school as normal, but the evenings were free to do as they wanted. Saturday was to be a tour of Liverpool on foot (you can imagine the groans) and Sunday was back home in the afternoon.

The excitement level amongst the pupils rose every week until  finally the day arrived. They were asked to meet up at Liverpool John Lennon Airport with at least one parent to greet their student. They had exchanged details and we knew that ours was called Alicia and that she was from Madrid. Naturally the plan was late, but finally on a cold March evening Alicia arrived. Family time was for us to get to know Alicia a little and her us. And she turned out to be a delight. A shy girl, but very polite and friendly but oh so quiet moving around the house!

Those few days seemed to go past so quickly. Like most normal teenagers they spent most of the time out of the house but Alicia seemed to enjoy visiting Liverpool and seeing what our teenagers do. All too soon it seemed she had to return to Madrid and so again the parents and children massed again at the airport to wave them off. This time instead of nerves and excitement, a few tears were shed.

One thing that came of this is that my step-daughter and Alicia have made a lasting friendship and are planning to meet up again during the summer. We have already said that we would happily have her visit again, and I wish we had had the opportunity to do an exchange visit with one of the other children.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Giants In Liverpool

Today I went to see the Giant Girl roam around the streets of Liverpool. This is a flavour of what it was like.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

On the Road to Recovery

Back at the beginning of November I had an annoying cold which consisted of sneezes and a runny nose. No cough or sore throat just a lot of sneezing and nose blowing. I'm one of those people who doesn't like sneezing in public and so tend to hold them in when on the train to or from work. On the Friday I had a bit of back ache which was annoying, but nothing unusual for me. Then I woke up on the Saturday and realised I had sciatica again.

For anyone who doesn't know what sciatica is when a disk in the spine bulges and presses on the sciatic nerve which runs down each leg. As well as being incredibly painful it can make life very difficult. For me it meant I couldn't walk far or stand for long without being in agony. It was also very difficult to lie down so sleep became harder and harder to come by. I could sit but only if I leant forward and sleeping meant sitting on a chair and leaning on a pile of cushions/pillows to get 2-3 hours before my legs went numb and I had to wake up and change position.

This meant that instead of travelling to Sheffield in January to see my beloved Charlton play Sheffield Wednesday I went to the Liverpool Royal Hospital for an MRI scan. I wouldn't want to go through that experience again. I'm not claustrophobic at all, but that is a place that can make anyone claustrophobic. The top of the tube is only a couple of inches from your nose, the sides are close and it is incredibly noisy. I had headphones on listening to the radio but could still hear the very loud clunking noise it makes. Luckily for me it was only 15 minutes, but at the end of it I was pleased to get out as I was now finding it hard to lie down and lie still.

About 10 days later I was off to my GP to get the results of the scan. It was then confirmed that I have a slipped disk and that it is something that will never clear up. I have to strengthen my core muscles, keep my weight under control and keep fit. 

So approximately 12 weeks after the start of this attack I am almost pain free and can start my rehabilitation. Sadly it's going to take some time to get a reasonable level of fitness but I will get there.