A big birthday, a huge op and a little moan.

It seems impossible that Dad is 80! Firstly, it’s amazing he’s lived this long – I have seen him electrocuted a fair few times! Happy birthday, Dad! Today, I celebrate you and everything that you mean to me. Thank you for being you and for helping me to always be me. You really are Top of the Pops! There will never be adequate words to let you know just how much you mean to us all. I will keep working you hard to ensure I keep you fit and well. Here’s to the next 20 years!

Following in his footsteps…

My brother Marc is doing well after his double bypass and replacement valves. He is in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Marc’s heart has deteriorated since his heart attack a few years ago, but we hope that’s all behind him now he’s had his op. Get well soon, Marc xx

Rex helping Pop blow out his candles xx

I’m somewhat disappointed at the local council for their lack of support and interest for Beth’s little hub. So much work has gone into this, the hub is a labour of love, not a commercial business. The sensory room is not and was never intended to be a big money-maker – it’s very inexpensive to visit, because Beth wanted everyone to benefit from it. It’s a community space for mums to be, new mums (and Dads) can get help, Baby & Toddler Rockits sing and of course, it’s a wonderful sensory room. The room itself is proving to be essential for children with special needs and we have had no end of ‘thank-you’s’ from grateful parents. We asked to put a banner up in the town to ensure that everyone is aware the little hub is now open (as it’s tucked away), but our request was denied! It seems you can advertise if you’re running a slimming club or travelling circus, but not if you’re an important space for our community to use.

Just one of the countless messages of support.

Goodbye to our Queen.

The Queen has been laid to rest following her state funeral and committal ceremony on Monday. The service was beautiful, incredibly moving and very sad. The entire event was televised; for the first time the world saw our incredible history. The whole day was solemn and dignified and a wonderfully fitting tribute to our greatest Monarch. We will never forget the rich legacy of love, hope and acceptance that she left for all of us and we will remember her for the rest of our lives (always smiling) and we will miss her too. The Queen will now rest in the King George VI memorial chapel. Philip has been moved from the royal vault so that he could be reunited with his wife. Xxxxx

R.I.P. Queen Elizabeth.

We raised a glass to our Queen at Rockits on Monday night. I had a little speech written on my phone, but after reading a few lines I felt very sad and had to stop talking – in that moment, it felt very personal. Sorry about my half a speech, everyone. Then, Jane got us to sing, God Save the King, which we did. I looked around the room and saw how moved many of you were. I felt honoured to be with you all.

“Farewell our Queen, your light will never fade and your legacy will live forever in our hearts and on our tongues as we speak your name.”

Ports and pilgrimages.

Sunday. What a week it has been. It’s the final day for the public to attempt to see the Queen lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. Countless people continue to queue (we are a nation known for queuing) for hours and hours and hours (through a very cold night) to say goodbye, ahead of tomorrows funeral. A very special kind of pilgrimage. Heads of state and foreign dignitaries are flying in from all over the world. Poor King Charles hasn’t stopped and I am sure those involved in tomorrows event will have been working 24/7 to make it perfect. I keep checking my junk folder, but still no invite for us to go and sing Robbie William’s, Angels, at the funeral!

First aid at the hub. ❤️

I was at the SEN room a few nights ago to help out (be nosey) at a first aid course for babies and toddlers. Lots of mums-to-be are doing a little series of weekly info chats. I can now do CPR and know what to do if our little ones start choking etc. It got me feeling so proud! What an important thing to make available to people, it could literally save a life! I feel quite emotional when I read all the good reviews for the little hub. “Absolutely amazing! Went along this morning with my son and he absolutely loved it and had an amazing time. I loved being able to see him enjoying all the calm and sensory things. He can’t wait to come back already. Booking more sessions so he has it as part of his routine, as really was so lovely. Thank you for for our sessions and thank you for finally bringing a sensory room to Tenterden. It will be much used and loved.” A port in a storm.

On safari. Ru and mummy.

Had an impromptu trip to Port Lympne on Saturday. We always forget it’s just over half an hour away. What usually puts us off is the distance you need to walk to see a dozen gazelle and a couple of giraffes in the distance, but they have solved that now with their safari buses which pick everyone up and ferry them around to see the highlights. It reminded us of theme parks in Florida. Carl also came along, but he was under the weather. The Port Lympne staff were brilliant and collected us in their Range Rover and helped us get around too. Top marks to Port Lympne for that. I actually wouldn’t recommend it with very little ones (unless you only want to do the safari ride) as it really is a huge walk with prams and toddlers and we struggled. Despite this, the boys absolutely loved it, especially Dinosaur Forest

Rex and Dins. He fell asleep just after this, haha.

Max, Madonna & Mrs Santa.

Happy Birthday to Little Max, my namesake. He had a wonderful weekend and a Minecraft themed birthday; this means nothing to me (“ah Vienna”) but lots to Maxon. For the first time I didn’t make the cake, because he had seen one he wanted in the supermarket. I made cookies and cupcakes instead, he has a sweet tooth just like his father. Now Lou has passed her driving test and the family have a little car, they are able to take the kids out to lovely places. Ivy and Maxon are so sweet together, like a little brother and sister. Seems impossible to think he was born five years ago (the first of the Big3) with a little crop of red hair – it is now honey blonde. He still does his cute little pixie dance.

Happy 5th Birthday to our Maxon xxxxx

Back to cake. I’m watching, Bake Off. I’m not being big headed, but I’d win if I entered, haha. The contestants all make such basic errors! Baking is equal parts science (temperatures, times, measures), confidence and intuition. I am always called upon to bake for events. Actually, I am laughing while writing this. Beth is doing a wonderful timetable of activities at the SEN hub for Christmas. It includes “make Christmas cookies with Mrs Santa.” Me, “who is Mrs Santa?” Beth, “you. I’ll get you an outfit.” Me, “oh God.” Beth, “I’m cracking up.” Hahaha. I actually feel slightly excited at the thought of the hub with elves and mulled wine (for the stressed mums and Mrs Santa). Xxxxx

Such a happy boy. Xxxxx

Finally finished, Like a Prayer, by Madonna. It’s all about vibe; a really repetitive song and the original has a fade out – choirs can’t fade out! When I arrange a song, I put it together like a jigsaw and fill in random bits until every bar is complete. I started pre (my recent) Covid and just finished, post Covid. On some bits I have little voice or no air, but I got there! On the couple of days I felt under the weather, I watched, Better Things (BBC), which I just love (and not because it also has a ‘Max’ in it). Series 5, episode 7, says exactly how I feel about many things (especially mobile phones) us mums face. Our generation really were so much better off for not being glued to a screen – for being natural, analogue and writing real words on real paper. It’s bloody hard being a mother and mothering NEVER stops. We go through the teens, the tantrums, the tears; I reckon we’d live to be 200 if it wasn’t for the stresses and strains of a life spent holding things together.

Just call me Mary, Mary Christmas. Haha.

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Like a Prayer (the Covid remix) Arr. Max Wilson

Covid causes chaos!

So much has happened since the Queen passed away. Charles spoke so well, as did Boris. Charles was officially proclaimed King, at the Accession Council ceremony. For the first time we heard the National Anthem sung for a king. That will take a while to get used to. We have lost our lovely Queen and gained a new monarch and a new Prime Minister all in one week! The Queens funeral will be held on Monday 19th.

Maxon in his smart new uniform.

What a week it’s been at home too. The Big3 have now all started school. Poor little lambs. One minute life is endless fun and then they are packed off for 6-7 hours of school every day. The nights will soon be drawing in; the High Street is suddenly littered with leaves, ‘Bake Off’ and ‘Strictly’ are back on TV – my favourite autumnal viewing. None of it will be the same without Nige. It’s hard getting used to not texting him when I know we’re watching the same thing, so we can laugh our socks off. Oh dear. I don’t even want to contemplate Eurovision without his terrible jokes.

Finn is ready for action!

Bloody Covid is back to annoy us. I know it’s just a part of life now and we are told we no longer need to test or isolate if we get it, but for the choirs that’s not the right approach. I have it yet again and will be cancelling sessions next week which is such a shame. Rockits were full of beans and sounding great last week and I so wanted to carry on with our new songs. Beth can’t take over for me as her boys are poorly too. Many Hearties went to see Mamma Mia on Wednesday at the Marlowe in Canterbury and several have reported testing positive since. I’m not sure it’s all related, but it’s just how it is. I ask that singers stay at home if they are feeling unwell (even if testing negative) and if they are unlucky and get the dreaded lurgy, that they wait for the all clear before returning.

Caroline, Sarah & Gwyn at Mamma Mia.