Monday, February 15, 2010

On Saturday I finally got the email I'd been waiting for - to tell me that our latest couple are happy with their photos. The feelings of relief and delight that follow are almost overwhelming. The fear that you will let down a couple on their "big day" is so intense - and this couple were SO special. We were also extra nervous as it was a winter wedding in a very dark location so we had to be extra creative with lighting and use new equipment we'd bought specially for this day.

I'm really happy this week for another reason; I'm off work :) Well, my other job, I hope to do some work in the photography line as well as copious amounts of my beloved pottering, maybe with a bit of de-cluttering thrown in for good measure :)

Valentine's Day was lovely: Phil got me the nicest card EVER and a heart-shaped charm for my bracelet which is now, sadly, FULL! I got him 2 series of ER on DVD. We didn't do much (I pottered in the garden, Phil on the computer) and eventually I cooked a romantic Tandoori chicken dinner for 3 (me, Phil & Kate, Sian was out) Then we watched TV and went to bed.

We have been through our share of really bad times but just now things are pretty OK and I love him excessively! not bad after almost 27 years of being together...

No doubt this post will jinx us and soon I'll be writing about how terrible our marriage is! But right now I'm a very happy bunny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I have waited several months before writing this post....

Back in October, we went away for a week's holiday. We went to a place we've stayed at several times before. It's neither excessively expensive nor cheap - middle of the range prices. We had an apartment.

On my arrival, I did what I usually do, check the beds. I'm checking for clean sheets and pillows, no nasty stains on the mattresses, that sort of thing. All was pristine; indeed the apartments had clearly undergone facelifts since our last visit, the kitchen was new and very posh. We unpacked and settled down happily for our first night.

The next morning I noticed one or two tiny spots of blood on the white sheets. This wasn't especially unusual as both P and I have dry skin which we sometimes scratch until we bleed a little.

The following morning P got up early to photograph the dawn. I was dozing in bed in the early light and suddenly noticed a small insect crawling over the pillow. Instinctively i flicked it away, but I was unsettled. I then sat up and threw back the covers.

There were several bright red drops of blood plus some smears of a brownish colour. I checked my self and could see no raw spots, yet several of the blood spots were my side of the bed. Then I noticed another insect and trapped it under a waterglass. A memory stirred - watching a bit of a BBC TV show about bedbugs flashed into my mind - and I KNEW that was what I was seeing.

P returned, called a member of staff and he agreed it was probably a bedbug. He offered to move us to another unit and we agreed. Before we moved we washed every bit of our clothing, dried and ironed it. On the last morning with a horrible sense of deja-vu I saw blood on the sheets and a bloated bug on the headboard. Our drive home was very silent.

We unpacked in the garage, stripped off the clothes we were wearing into binbags and showered/washed our hair. Our luggage was sprayed with bug killer and stored in the garage. We sprayed and Hoovered the car. All clothes were washed and dried and ironed again.

Then I went online. Bedbugs are on the rise all over the world. If you bring them home they can infest your house and are really hard to eradicate. It doesn't matter where you stay - top hotels all over the world have become homes to bedbugs. They can go a year without feeding and breed really fast. Some people have terrible reactions to the bites, others don't.

For several months after returning home, I woke up many times a night, compelled to check the bed. I was a nervous wreck. I cannot describe the horror of fearing YOUR OWN BED, your sanctuary, being infested with biting insects. Those brown smears? Bedbug excrement!

I am writing this to warn you. Most people don't admit to encounters with bedbugs. It fills you with shame and disgust and you feel dirty.You don't want to broadcast it. If you travel, I urge you to check your beds VERY carefully before you sleep in them. Pull off all bedding and examine the mattresses. Check in crevices and behind headboards - the internet has a number of sites with photos telling you what to look out for. Put luggage on stands and DON'T UNPACK until you are sure there are no bugs. I would advise putting clothes in ziplock bags for extra safety. If you find bugs I'd just leave. But make sure you tell the staff.

You DO NOT want to bring these creatures home with you. At the very least you'll face an expensive exterminator's fee - several visits will be necessary. You could find yourself having to replace beds, furniture and carpets/curtains.

You may never encounter a bedbug. I hope to God I never will again. My skin crawls at the thought of them and I'll never settle down in a strange bed again, without wondering if there is something else in there with me besides my husband!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I normally like to post a poem for Phil on Valentine's Day and here is one by Carol Ann Duffy. I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Carol Ann Duffy at our Bookfest in October - she's an amazing person and if you ever get the chance to hear her read, don't miss it!

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Love you so much, Phil!

I'm regressing to my childhood....every morning recently I've woken up very frightened thinking "I want my mum"! How bizarre is THAT? I'm not far off fifty and my mum has been dead for 20 years but ...I guess I still need her. I would really love to have a huge, cleansing, full-throttle CRYING SESSION followed by a great big cuddle from Mum - who wouldn't do anything much, just let me get it all out.

I've been SO down since January; really struggling to hold things together. Just out of interest I've revisited my blog posts for February last year and find that I was anxious and stressed and down then too - re-reading those posts has somehow been very comforting - I find myself able to say (and believe) that "this too will pass".

Anyway, I was going to write a really cathartic post about how bloody miserable and anxious and tearful I am but realising I wrote all that a mere 12 months ago has sort of put me off. Instead I'll try to dredge up some shreds of POSITIVITY (not optimism, I don't do optimism!) The months of January & February are not particularly cheering in any case, are they? I usually try to enjoy each day (yeah, RIGHT, good luck with that, as Sian would say!)but I do feel these gloomy weeks are barely endurable. I hate to look out and see my garden covered in dead foliage and slimy green moss encroaching everywhere. Time to get my vegetable growing book out and start planning for spring plantings I think.

Last week at work was really REALLY horrible but looking back I can (sort of) see there were some good parts. Like how kind some people were, how supportive. I also managed to get through it, although I can tell you that on Friday morning I REALLY didn't want to get out of bed, let alone leave the bedroom, far less the actual house!

I suppose the old cliche about what doesn't kill you making you stronger has some truth in it after all.

Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to comment on my "I quit!" post! I am so grateful for knowing I'm not alone and also for the helpful suggestions. Things have improved a little on the home front since then and family relations are fairly cordial again :)