All posts tagged Family

G is for Gratitude

Published 19/12/2016 by julierkendrick

Most of you know that at the beginning of the year I spent time in hospital after collapsing with heart problems (more about this next time), and the cliche is that it makes you realise that you shouldn’t take things for granted etc etc. Yes that is true, it’s a cliche for a reason but I think for me it has been more than that.

There was a period of time this year when I didn’t actually know if I would survive. I know that sounds dramatic but the doctors initially didn’t think I was taking it seriously enough and told Trevor to make me understand that this is a sudden death condition. It’s a very strange feeling to have your husband sit you down and tell you that you could die. But it did the trick and I became very aware of the severity of the issue.

Anyway, since leaving hospital I have started to look at life in a pretty wonderful way. Ever since my mother became ill and spent the next 20 years plus feeling sorry for herself and saying ‘why me, why me?’, I was determined that if I ever became ill I would be the complete opposite. I had that chance this year and grabbed it with both hands.  Instead of thinking, and saying, ‘why me?’ I have turned it round and said “why NOT me?” I’m no more special than anyone else. My life hasn’t been terrible. Yes I’ve had many difficult times but I got through them to where I am today. My overriding thought about what has happened to me this year is this; it is just my turn.

All of us at some point has had a loved one who has been ill or who has had to face something terrible in their life. If we are good people (and all of you are), we try to help them as much as we can and be there for them and, if you are a person of faith, pray for them. So this year I found myself being on the receiving end of the help, support, love and prayers.

And boy did it make a difference.

I didn’t realise how many wonderful people I have in my life. My husband, who adores me, was my absolute rock. My 4 wonderful sons phoned, visited and generally made me laugh like they always do. Sam, ahhh Sam he was only 14 and obviously scared but he put on a brave face and supported his dad, growing up a little quicker than he should have had to. My remarkable friends, Diane, Glen, Kala, Jimi, Nicky and so many more showed how they care in their own ways by always being at the end of the phone or at the end of my bed. And my church family. What incredible people they are. They prayed for me and supplied Trevor with hugs and unending love and spiritual support.

So, with all of this positivity around me how can I not be grateful? How can I not see the good in this situation. I look at the beautiful area in which I live and breathe in the clear fresh air and I am so happy to be alive. I see my dogs playing and being silly, making us all laugh and I am so glad that they are mine. I think about my 4 boys and feel my heart burst when I think of each one individually. I look at my house and possessions and remember the hard times Trevor and I have had and how far we have come. I think about my friends and smile, feeling blessed that each one of them is in my heart.

I now have my own business and fully intend to make a success of it. I want to spend the rest of my life, however long that is, being surrounded by things that make me happy. Not because I want to be selfish or that I am thinking only about my own wants but because I NEVER want to stop being grateful. I never want to stop getting pleasure from watching butterflies land on flowers, from listening to my dogs snoring, from singing at the top of my voice to a song that touches me, from the smell of Christmas candles, from surrounding myself with beautifully soft balls of wool, from being kissed fully on the lips.

Life is so magnificent and we truly don’t know how long we have ours for so I implore you not to forget the small things, the tiny things that can actually make your day when you focus on them and not the negativity that can obscure the clarity of a beautiful existence.

Gratitude. It’s a powerful thing.



F is for Father

Published 26/10/2016 by julierkendrick

I decided to wait until today to write this blog post for a very special reason. Today is my dad’s birthday. But not just any birthday. If he was still alive today would be his 100th birthday. He would have had his telegram from the Queen’s this morning (or does she text now?) and we would have celebrated in true dad style, but having a nice cup of tea.


This is Roy. He was my dad. A painfully shy man that liked a flutter on the horses and nice roast dinner with his favourite veg, runner beans. There is so much I could tell you about this man but I’ll give you a few bullet point facts.

  • He was the eldest of 3 and had 2 younger sisters. They all got on exceptionally well their whole lives. I never knew them to argue or fall out.
  • My dad never drank or shouted and I only heard him swear a handful of times. He did however, smoke like a chimney.
  • He was married before he met my mum and had a son and a daughter (neither of whom want to know me).
  • He was in the RAF and took part in WW2, however he never ever set foot in a plane and never flew in his whole life.
  • There was 25 years between him and my mum and when I was born he was 54. He was often mistaken as my grandfather.
  • He was very affectionate and loved to brush my hair when I was little.
  • My dad was a Christian and encouraged my faith but never forced me to go to church. He did take me to Sunday School but I never ever saw him inside a church.
  • He was an absolute stickler for good English and spelling and instilled in me a love of language. On a Sunday afternoon when I was Primary School age he used to set me 10 spellings that I had to get right and those I didn’t I had to write 10 times each. This wasn’t a punishment more like practice of an art form. I never resented this and have passed this on to my boys too. I hope he would be proud.
  • He was terrified of hospitals and throughout my life only had to go in once, in 1985 when he had heart failure. He was in a week and then on meds for the rest of his life but he was to all intents and purposes as fit as a butcher’s dog.
  • I believe he knew he was going to die because in the week leading up to his death he wanted to spend a lot of time with my boys who were 3, 2 and 8 months at the time. He told me they were wonderful boys and would make me proud. He was right. I am sad he never got to meet Trevor or Sam. He would have loved them.
  • My dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly on 10th May 1995 aged 78. He rang me up at midday saying he felt ill and I told him I would take him to the Doctor’s at 6pm. He had his lunch and fell asleep on the sofa, like he did every afternoon, and never woke up. Unbeknownst to him he had a massive stroke and a brain Hemorrhage. He never felt any pain and never had to suffer the indignity of being in hospital.
  • His last words to me were “I love you Julie”.

It’s been 22 years since we lost him and I really do think about him most days but today is definitely dedicated to him. Happy 100th Birthday Daddy. I love you.


D is for Dads

Published 11/06/2013 by julierkendrick

As we are fast approaching Father’s Day here in the UK I thought it would be appropriate to make D for Dads.

Last year I posted a tribute to my own dad which you can read here if you wish so I won’t talk much about him in this post. Over the years dads have had a bad rap. When a relationship breaks down it is usually the man that leaves and the mother that brings up the kids. Now before you all leave comments saying that I am generalising etc please read on. Of course there are dads that leave and never see their kids, or become someone that pops in and out of their lives when it suits but that is by no means the norm now. I have heard of plenty of mothers doing the same.  I have many male friends who are dads and this post is really a tribute to them.

dad 2

One of my friends has been separated from his wife for a few years now and he has willingly brought up his kids. He does everything for them and although he has a full time job he runs his house like clockwork. He spends quality time with them, has instilled good morals and values in them, he is silly with them and strict with them. These two kids are so well rounded and happy that they are a testament to him and he is a testament to dads everywhere. He proves that a single father is as good as a single mother. In fact in his case he may even be better because they are all happy and that is surely preferably to being in an unhappy marriage!

I also have a friend who is a dad and and few years ago came out as being gay. As shocked as his family was, they accepted this. His son, however has been completely unaffected by this revelation. His dad is his dad and they love each other deeply. They are so close and spend as much time together as possible. My friend has a partner now and as often as they can all three go on holidays together. My friend has never felt he has to over-compensate for his sexuality. He is still the boy’s father and he disciplines him and gives him support and advice like any good parent would. Once again another example of a great dad.

dad 3

Of course I know plenty of dads that are still in a relationship with their children’s mother. I love it when I see hands on dads over the park, playing football, doing food shopping, watching ballet lessons and generally spending time with their offspring. It makes my heart go all fuzzy. I don’t know why this is but it may be because I like the fact that old generalisations and opinions of dads are wrong.

My husband, Trevor is an amazing dad. What makes him so fabulous is not only the relationship that he has with our son, Sam but also the one he has built over the years with my other 3 sons. When we met I was already a mother to 3 little boys aged under 6. That must have been a daunting prospect for him to take on 3 children that young. But he did it without question and in the 15 years that we have been together the boys and he have cultivated great relationships. All 3 are very different boys and he has a unique bond with each one. I am very proud to say that over that time, even through teenage turmoils and hormones they have never said the dreaded words “You’re not my dad”. They respect him as their step-dad and one of my boys even told me that he felt lucky in that he had two dads.


I do hope that this post hasn’t come across as patronising, it certainly is not meant that way. I just want to give a all dads a cheer and say

Happy Father’s Day you wonderful men.



Julie 🙂




C is for Children

Published 02/06/2013 by julierkendrick

I imagine you are thinking that this blog post will be about my 4 boys and how wonderful they are and how much I love them etc etc…. WRONG!

Don’t misunderstand me, all of the above is true but I am feeling the need to have a rant about other peoples kids.  I have heard many times, people say “I really can’t stand other peoples kids”, well I have to say I sympathise with them. Generally I feel the same. Now obviously my friends have kids and they are lovely, for the most part (ha ha ha sorry friends) but there seem to be so many parents that have no idea how to bring up their offspring.

Working in Waterstones brings me into contact with children and their parents on a daily basis and regardless of how they behave I have to be polite and helpful. But believe me some of these kids, and parents push my buttons.

So, here is a list of my pets hates in ranting format:

1. Kids that don’t say “Thank You”. As obvious as this is it still really irks me. A child will come to the till and give me their book and the money and I have a little chat with them about what they have chosen and then when the transaction is complete I hand over the bag. I expect to be thanked for this but 95% of the time the kid takes the bag and walks off. What tends to make this worse is that the parent invariably says nothing to the child. They usually thank me themselves but I don’t want thanks from them. They have send their child up to buy the book and they look on proudly as Johnny/Jenny gives the money over and takes their purchase but they haven’t taught them how to complete the process with a polite ‘Thank you’.  Much to my colleagues amusement I have taken to holding on to the bag whilst the child tries to wrestle it from my grasp as I wait for the thanks I am due. Some kids, cotton on and say it but others just looks dumbly at the parents who look dumbly back at me until I give up and let them have the damn bag.

2. Kids that say “I want”. This one again falls into the category of manners. It’s not just the words ‘I want’ that bother me so much as the demanding nature in which they are expressed. “I want that Gruffalo”, “I want 2 books” and the worst, “I want more money”. Whenever I hear these words I look at the parents and hope that they will firmly but quietly tell their child that these demands will not be tolerated and that “May I have” is a much better way of expressing ones wishes. Yeah, that almost never happens. What does happen is one of two things. Either the parent gives in and the child is presented with said Gruffalo, books, money or the child is completely ignored by the parent and continues to repeat “I want….. I want….” ad infinitum. It takes all of my will not to march up to the child and give them a lesson in manners that hopefully the parent will learn from too.


3. Screaming toddlers. Now I know that toddlers can be a nightmare. I know that they have no sense of spacial awareness. I know that they have no social skills. I can accept all of these things with a sigh and a smile. What I cannot bear, though, are toddlers that just screech for apparently no reason. Kids between the ages of 18 months and 3 years tend to have the highest pitched voices and can scream louder than Janet Lee in Psycho. Why, why, why do they do this? What do they hope to achieve by bursting the ear drums of everyone within a half mile radius? I have taken to glaring at the child to try and encourage them to shut up; and I have a very scary glare. If that doesn’t work then I glare at the parents. But then I realise that these are probably the parents who will end up giving in to the child in a few years once it starts in with the “I want…..” routine.

4. Destructive brats. I don’t know about you, but I taught my children not to touch when they went into shops. Our children’s section is bright and colourful and of course invites kids from 0-17 to explore so I don’t expect the no touching rule to apply here. I do, however, expect the no mindless destruction rule to apply. We have a spinner for Mr Men books so that they can all be easily seen. I have lost count of the times that a destructive brat has spun the display so fast the books fly off. Not the worst of crimes, I grant you, but once again the parent from hell steps in to make the situation just peachy. They pull the child away leaving the books all over the floor, sometimes even treading on them as they leave. (Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little). I have even heard parents say “Don’t worry about putting them back, the lady will do it for you.” What the hell??? I did not clear up after my own kids when they were deliberately messy, I made them do it. I am certainly not going to do it for some spoilt brat who thinks it’s OK to tread on books. My colleague, Della, who runs the kids section has her work cut out for her every day. She spends most of her time putting books back where they belong and straightening bent pages. Don’t even get me started on the problems we have during half term.

5. Nose pickers. Bogies are disgusting I think we are all agreed. Kids pick their noses, we are still agreed. But please please please tell me why they feel the need to wipe them on something that is not a tissue. I’ve seen bogies being wiped on our display tables, chairs and even on a book that the kids was holding at the time. It was this particular child’s parent I told that she was wiping her nose products on our merchandise. The mother smiled and said “Yes, she does it all the time.” Unbelievable. The only saving grace was that she bought the book. Urgh!

6. Smelly teenagers. It’s not just small kids that drive me insane, teenagers that don’t wash test my patience too. Teenagers are bags of hormones and sweating is a prerequisite to growing up but it is the parents job to inform their young adult that they need to pay attention to their personal hygiene. There now, that wasn’t difficult was it? Apparently that doesn’t generally happen in these kids’ households. The other thing about teenagers is that they tend to hang around in large groups. This at least triples the smell and I am surprised that there is not a grey cloud above their heads like there was over Pig Pen in the Peanuts comics. When these youngsters wander in to the shop I want to formally introduce them to a bar of soap or a roll on deodorant at the very least but instead, when they leave, I spray the shop with polish to restore the lovely book shop smell.

Pig Pen

Pig Pen

I have found compiling this list quite therapeutic. I am sure you all think I’m a grumpy old cow now and yes, at times I am but is it so wrong to expect children to behave when they are in public? And when they don’t is it too much to expect the parents to deal with them effectively?

I, of course invite your comments below but please don’t pick your nose when you type them.

Until next time.

Julie 🙂

The Cemetery Girl – Book Review

Published 27/01/2013 by julierkendrick

I have just finished reading The Cemetery Girl by David Bell and while it is fresh in my mind thought I’d write a quick review of it.

cemetery girl

Briefly the story is about a 12 year old girl who goes missing, believed kidnapped and how the family cope with that over the four years that she is gone and then how they cope when she finally returns, not saying anything about where she has been.

When I read the synopsis I thought that sounded like a promising story, and indeed it was. For the first half of the book. Bell tells the story from the father’s point of view in the first person and initially manages to capture his bewilderment and the constant questioning of himself that we would all do if, God forbid, this happened to any of us. However, once Caitlin, the daughter, returns the pace slows down so much that I found myself willing the characters into conflict. There was quite a bit of pointless dialogue where nothing further was gained and conversations were also repeated, albeit in a slightly different way.

My main problem with this book however was the development, or lack thereof, of the relationships throughout the book.  The whole novel is based around Tom’s relationship with his family and those who try to help during the transition from Caitlin’s disappearance to her subsequent return and integration back into the family.  It is obvious that he doesn’t agree with his wife or her way of coping but that is never fully explored. Abby, the wife, displays some fairly odd behaviour but we never really find out why. Tom’s relationship with his brother, Buster also leaves a lot to be desired descriptively speaking. Tom accuses him of being the kidnapper on more than one occasion and even asks if he slept with Caitlin. Buster, however doesn’t appear to react to these accusations in any way that I believe a reasonable person would.  He still comes round to chat to Caitlin, and Tom and Abby seem quite happy for this to happen. Then in the next chapter Tom and Buster, are together again discussing possible scenarios for what may have happened, before Tom accuses him again of some nefarious act.

Lastly, although I am trying not to give any plot spoilers, we never actually find out completely what happened to Caitlin, or why she behaves the way she does. It was as if Bell got bored of the story and decided to leave us in suspense. The majority of the text was leading up to getting Caitlin to talk and building the tension but the climax never materialised and left me very disappointed as a reader.

What started out as a great story with a very promising plot, fell flat and did not deliver what Bell set out to do, give us a great story about relationships under extreme circumstances. Maybe this was because the characters themselves were underdeveloped. I don’t know but I won’t be in any hurry to buy his next book.




Tales from Costa Rica – Part 7

Published 01/11/2012 by julierkendrick

I am so glad that you are all enjoying my travel journal, I love sharing it with you all. So here is part 7.

Saturday 27th October 2012 dawned a lovely bright morning. I was very glad that I had not come home late because I had a clear head and was ready to enjoy the day. As usual in the mornings Monroe and I sat out on the back porch drinking coffee (Costa Rican of course) and chatting. This was one of my favourite times of the day, when everyone else was still asleep and I listened to Monroe telling tales of his treasure hunting experiences. He is such an interesting guy and someone I would never have met if I hadn’t come on this trip.

A short while later, Annie rose obviously a little worse for wear and after a relatively chilled morning we decided to go up the mountain to see Helene who I later affectionately dubbed ‘crazy dog lady’.

Helene is a lovely warm hearted Austrian lady who has lived in Costa Rica for many years. During her time in this beautiful country she had grown tired of seeing so many dogs just wandering the streets, scavenging for food or getting knocked down by cars and left at the side of the road. So instead of becoming hardened to it she decided to open her house to them, provide the medical care, food and love that they need and ultimately try to get them adopted. She started out small but with so many street dogs this just grew and grew. The locals all came to know Helene and many, who can afford it send her money and food to help with their care. Over time this has become a thriving concern for Helene but she still loves each dog as if it is her own. She names every dog that comes through her door and never forgets which is which. So how many dogs do you think she looks after at one time? 10? 20? 50? Nope. not even close. She currently has 141 dogs. Yes that’s right 141. Of these 40 live in her house with her and the rest live on her land in kennels where they have freedom to roam and play.  The ones that are in her house are the ones that are very sick, very young or old or who have just had surgery (she makes sure every dog is neutered to stop the breeding problems exacerbating).

A dog lover myself with 2 lively labradors, I was really looking forward to meeting Helene and her dogs. It only took us about 20 minutes to get to her land and we knew we were in the right place from all the barking we could hear from about 100 metres away. I commented to Annie that it is a good job that Helene doesn’t have any close neighbours or they would all have been driven mad by now.

We pulled up to a large green metal gate and banged heartily setting off a gazillion barks. After a few minutes Helene pulled open the gate and we walked into canine heaven. When I say there were dogs everywhere I really am not exaggerating. Big ones, small ones, puppies, old dogs, yappy dogs, jumpy dogs, lazy dogs of every breed imaginable ran towards us to have a good sniff and to say hello. I immediately fell in love with about 8 of them and wanted to take them home and I’d only just walked through the gate. Some of the dogs were kept separate from the others for varying reasons, some because they trod on the puppies or just snapped a lot but no dog was alone, they always had a friend.

Just a few of the doggies who greeted us

Helene herself was a mass of bright red hair and big beaming smiles. She still had the tell-tale Austrian accent but her English was impeccable.  She led us into her house all the while talking to the dog and calling them by name. I noticed that the place was spotlessly clean, no poop or pee anywhere to be seen and when one dog did a little parcel Helene immediately scooped it up and disposed of it. Inside the large abode there were dogs on the sofas, lying across doorways and following us around tripping us up all the way to the den. As Helene remarked, you could not be sad in a place like that. Just one look around at all the furry faces eager to love you unconditionally has to lift your spirits and I understood then why she was such a cheerful happy person.

Helene the crazy dog lady

One big furry black dog called Pushy took a liking to me and stayed by my side the whole of our visit. He was so friendly and looked at me with his big brown doggy stare and I fell head over heels in love (I think Pushy would even give Johnny a run for his money). I asked Helene about him and she said that he was one of the dogs that would never be adopted because at 7 he was too old. “People want puppies”, she said. “The trouble with that is that when they get to about 2 or 3 they become less cute and the owners don’t want them any more so they get abandoned all over again”. I could see that Helene is fighting a losing battle but one that she is determined to fight regardless of the outcome.

Me with my beloved Pushy

When we left (without my beloved Pushy) I knew that these dogs were the lucky ones, they would get not only medical attention and food but real genuine one on one love and all from this one Austrian woman who has decided to take on the world. I can only wish her good luck and good health. What a wonderful lady.

Annie and I drove home deep in thought and got ready for our evening with Any and Norman, the fabulous Cuban couple that Annie had taken me to see on my first day.  They had invited us to dinner along with Mike and Earl and I was looking forward to spending my last evening in their company.

When we arrived and I had finished hugging Norman and trying to persuade him to squeeze into my case we followed the gorgeous smells coming from Any’s kitchen. She opened the oven and showed us the most massive shoulder of pork I had ever seen. My mouth immediately started to water so Mike and I laid the table while Norman carved the meat. We sat down and prayers were said and then Oh My Lord!! I began to eat the best meat I had ever eaten, so succulent and tender. My mouth is watering again as I type, remembering such a wonderful meal. We had flan for dessert which we had to almost physically wrestle from Mike, it being his favourite and after coffee we all went and sat in the conservatory nattering about this and that. I looked around at these wonderful people that I had only met a week ago and was amazed that in such a short time they had welcomed me into their lives and homes and made me feel like family. I was going to miss these people so much.

All too soon it was time to leave and we had a bit of a tearful goodbye. I promised to return as soon as I could and we left for our last night at Annie’s home. I never could persuade Norman to stow away with me but he belongs to Any so I will just have to get back there as soon as possible, if only for their amazing food.

Any and Norman, the best Cubans in the world

So my travels had come to and end. Or had they? Oh no, I still have an eventful journey home to tell you all about tomorrow.

Pip pip.

Julie 🙂