Pam’s New Year’s Eve Thoughts

In the spirit of New Year’s Eve, and all it means to look back and look forward at the same time, here’s my last post of 2011.

I’ve done a lot of growing this year both spiritually and in terms of my own personal development and I want to share a couple of tips with you on how I did it. I hope it helps you!

1. It’s not all about you. Take your own self out of the equation and suddenly the solution presents itself.

2. Being bored isn’t the end of the world. The gaps boredom creates allow new things to come in.

3. Say “yes” even when you can’t see the “how”. Challenging yourself by saying yes in certain circumstances can lead you on paths that you never knew were there, and the “how” will happen naturally.

4. Everything happens for a reason and you are not necessarily entitled to know the reason at the time it happens. Get over it, and get on with it (see number 1 above).

5. Appreciate the gifts you DO have; don’t spend your time ruing the gifts you DON’T have.

6. You have all the tools and skills necessary to make your life a success already. You might not see it, but they are there underneath and ready for you to pick up when you can; just relax.

7. Don’t hanker after the things you haven’t got a hope of getting – and that includes friends, partners, jobs, answers…

8. Giving up on something isn’t the same as failing at it. Sometimes accepting you are on the wrong track and going back is better than keeping going and getting further bogged down with something.

9. Related to the point above, failure is not a bad thing. Failure is the opportunity to learn something new and develop a new approach to a problem.

10. You don’t have to spend money to make other people happy. Just being you and doing what you do is enough so long as you do it with love and light in your heart.

11. Take time out for prayer and meditation.

12. Give thanks to God for everything.

I’ve learned all this through the year one way or another and I can honestly say that my life has been transformed this year. At this point last year I had literally nothing to live for…or so I thought…and with all these life lessons realised life is so much better I can’t begin to tell you.

No matter how bad things seem, no matter how doubtful or full of despair they are, no matter how much you are hurting or how negative the world seems there are ALWAYS signs of hope and light.

My heart goes out to friends – both online and in person – who have lost loved ones this year and who have just survived the hardest Christmas they will ever survive. Please don’t give up hope on ever being happy again, but please, give yourself time to grieve before you attempt to move on.

My very best wishes to every one of my followers and readers for the coming year. It has been a privilege to walk the path of 2011 with you and I hope we will continue our journey together.

Love and light to you all,



Blogging, Postaday2011

All about … 2011: Year in Review

All about … 2011: Year in Review

What did you do in 2011 that you’ve never done before? I led the intercessions in my church for the first time ever. I have been hovering on the edges up to now but this Christmas was the first time I had ever led prayers in public like that. I wrote them and I spoke them out loud and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I’m looking forward to doing some more if I can.

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?  I did in a way. I began the year with little hope, little aspiration, little faith and little purpose. My “resolutions” as such were to overcome those things and to get myself in a positive frame of mind. Apart from one or two notable setbacks I have achieved that so yes, you could say I kept my resolutions. Will I make more for next year? Yes I will. These ones are more tangible though – I want to start my own business and I want to become more active in church ministry.

Did anyone close to you give birth? There have been several births in my life this year: Steph and Jay had a little girl Maisie; my cousin Hayley and her partner Chris had baby Eva; Leanne at church had baby Eleanor, and Comfort and Fred at church had baby Freida.

Did anyone close to you die? My Auntie Mo died in February.

What countries did you visit? I went to Wales (yay!)

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? “Lack” is such an emotive word! I didn’t lack anything materially at all this year although we were extremely short of cash for most of the year (thank you Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg), but from time to time I lacked the strength of faith to get myself through some really dark days. I also lacked the strength of my own convictions that I should carry on but thankfully those days are behind me.

What date from 2011 will remain etched in your memory and why? 1st July, my 40th birthday.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Amongst a clutch of achievements dotted throughout the year, my longest achievement is successfully maintaining the Post A Day challenge without missing a single day, which I did despite being hospitalised and being away from home a couple of times.

What was your biggest failure? I don’t consider it my own failure, but I have (still) failed to get a diagnosis and therefore any treatment plan.

Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing new, just a continuation of the illness from last year. The only injury I suffered was during one of my four endoscopic examinations and my oesophagus was damaged a little. If you think pregnancy related heartburn is bad, wait until you have pancreatic related heartburn coupled with a damaged oesophagus….!

What was the best thing you bought? A second hand range cooker. It has two ovens and 8 burners and is the mutts nuts.

Where did most of your money go? The usual bills etc and prescriptions – thanks again to Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. I have worked all my adult life and because of that I am not entitled to receive any help whatsoever on prescriptions and have to pay £7.40 per item. With 8 items on my “repeat” list it turns out extremely expensive, especially when a Government appointed doctor tells you that you are fit to work because you can hold a pencil and on the strength of that you have what little support you had been getting is withdrawn making it even more difficult to find the money to spend on medicine. Don’t get me started…

What did you get really, really, really excited about? I didn’t really, REALLY get excited about anything, but I did get a tad excited about going on holiday to Wales and Christmas.

Compared to this time last year are you:

  • Happier or sadder? Much, much happier.
  • Thinner or fatter? Slightly thinner.
  • Richer or poorer? In terms of money we are poorer, but in terms of an enriched life and hopes for the future we are so much more better off.

What do you wish you’d done more of? Getting out of the house. I have spent so much time being ill this year and being stuck in the house it seems like I’ve been in jail for a lot of the time.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Regretting time gone without filling it with something creative. My default setting is that time not spent doing something “proper” is wasted time and I shouldn’t really beat myself up about that, especially when the drugs make me a zombie and my brain doesn’t function properly.

How did you spend Christmas? We played carols in the street for our neighbours, then played in the service at church, then played again at my mother-in-law’s house and then once we got home we cooked dinner and spent the time together as a family at home.

Did you fall in love in 2011? I have been married for 20 years and one of the patterns of (any?) marriage is that you continually fall in love. And out of it. And then back in it again. Isn’t it?

What was your favourite TV show? I don’t really watch much TV but I do enjoy the odd edition of Homes Under The Hammer (strangely…) and I love the Hairy Bikers and Kirstie Allsopp in most things they do.

What was the best book you read? Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. This stood out one of my favourites this year because it was so different to everything else. It mixes the supernatural with a police procedural in such a believable way, and it leads you to want to go and find out more about the Punch and Judy story/history. I really recommend it.

What was your greatest musical discovery of 2011? Mark Revell. You might not have heard of him, but watch out for him next year.

What did you want and get? I wanted a family Christmas full of the true meaning of it, and I got it. It was the best yet.

What did you want and not get? I wanted to get a diagnosis and am still waiting.

What was your favourite film this year? I can’t even remember what I’ve seen this year so you can tell there hasn’t really been a stand-out memorable one.

What did you do on your birthday? Spent the evening on a train station decked out in 1940s style with a group of kids. It wasn’t a themed party or anything, we were there to work at the Severn Valley Railway’s annual 1940s weekends.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Better health.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Ha!! Fashion? ME?? I don’t do fashion, never have. If this question were to be phrased “how you would you describe your personal STYLE concept” then I would have to say COMFORTABLE. I wore things that were comfortable round my stomach mainly.

What kept you sane? Blogging, reading, writing, my family and the unwavering support and love from one particular friend.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? None that I can think of. I’ll get back to you if one pops to mind.

What political issue stirred you the most? The government’s actions with regards to sickness benefit claimants. I was on the receiving end of their “new broom” and it nearly destroyed me. I lost my job, my social life, my confidence and to a certain extent my faith because of a condition that started suddenly in January 2010 and I went onto the Employment Sickness Benefit when I was unemployed. More than 12 months later I was told that I was now suddenly fit for work – even though I had not even had a diagnosis yet and therefore nowhere nearer to being healed – and my sickness benefit was stopped. I was told it had stopped two weeks AFTER they had stopped it by the way, great eh? I fought tooth and nail to get my sickness benefit reinstated, and I now receive 2/3rds of what I was getting previously. I don’t receive any help with prescriptions, as I have already said, but what stirred me the most was that I consider my situation to temporary (ok, 2 years isn’t “temporary” but once I am diagnosed and treated I’m right back there in the job market) but the Government have dealt the same hammer blow to everyone including those who have got other long term, significant illnesses and diseases such as those with MS or Cancer. The government trumpeted loudly about the 93% of “frauds” who were removed from the sickness benefit list, but they didn’t say why those people were no longer counted: for the main part those people were too weak to fight the system and voluntarily went onto Jobseekers Allowance (even though they clearly were not in a fit state to get and hold down a job) or dropped out of the benefits system completely.  It really got to me this summer because not only did thousands of vulnerable and genuine people get damaged by this action but those people who are genuine frauds were largely unaffected  because they were too far into the system to be kicked out of it in one step, as I was. Grrrr it still makes my blood boil!!

Who did you miss? My brother Alan. He lives too far away for regular visits and I have been too unwell to go and visit him and his family this week.

Who was the best new person you met? Leanne at church. We hit it off the first time we had a good chat and we’ve got some great plans to work on next year with some of the young people in the community.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. The only people you can trust to look after you when the chips are down are your family. Friends tend to have other things to do and the state is like a closed book so it’s down to yourself and your family to keep you going.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.  From “Price Tag” by Jessie J: “it’s not about the money…we just wanna make the world dance”



Post A Day – How Did It Go?

1)      Why did you start the Post a Day/Week Challenge?

  • I started the Post A Day Challenge because at the end of the year 2010 I was at an extremely low point in my life and I desperately needed something to give me a purpose. I thought that a daily commitment such as producing a blog post would be challenging enough to make me want to get out of bed without being too taxing and would hurt me (my health was delicate at that point to say the least)

2)      Describe the state of your blog at the time you started the challenge.

  • Threadbare! I had only ever posted on my blog occasionally and it was usually to have a whinge and a moan so it wasn’t particularly audience friendly.

3)      How did your blog evolve over the course of the challenge?

  • When I set out on the challenge I purposely did not turn it into a journal of my own pain so I had a challenge-within-a-challenge of finding material that didn’t include anything of my own health problems. I tried to compose articles that would be entertaining and a bit educational as well as perhaps thought-provoking and occasionally challenging. Over the course of the year my articles have started to include a little bit more personal stuff and I have said a few things about my health problems. More recently, as my life has begun to evolve so too has the content of the personal stuff.

4)      Did you post as often as you had hoped? Why or why not?

  • I certainly did!! I am so proud of myself for not only meeting the postaday challenge EVERY SINGLE DAY this year but also posting two or more articles on some days as well.  When I went away on holiday in the summer I scheduled a series of posts to go (no mean feat getting all those ready!) and I even managed to blog every day the week I was hospitalised in June.

5)      What type of blogging strategy works best for you?

  • I don’t think I have a strategy as such, but the way I do it is to have a hand in a couple of memes – not too many because it gets boring for my readers – and mix it in with the odd “today in history” post and personal things that are going on. I try to blog by teatime each day and you can usually tell at what time of day I produce a post because of the length of it and the detail included in it. The longer it is the earlier in the day I did it.  Transparent much!

6)      If you could go back to the beginning, what would you do differently?

  • Nothing. It has been a journey of discovery and how can you do it differently and still learn the things you have learned?

7)      What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?

  • Never breaking the challenge, and striking up so many online friendships with people all over the world.

8)      Name 3 great blogs you discovered through the challenge.

  • Joyce’s From This Side of the Pond
  • Five Little Halos
  • Simple Woman’s Daybook

9)      What surprised you about the challenge?

  • How much positivity I have gained from it and how much I have learned.

10)  What advice would you give to others who want to blog regularly?

  • Be on the constant lookout for ideas for posts and even though you can’t always write them up straight away, bear ideas in mind for later
  • Set up a timetable – eg, Saturday is going to a personal post, Sunday a religious one, Monday will be a blog-hop, Tuesday will be a comment on something in the news etc.
  • Keep a couple of spares up your sleeve for those days when time is short or when ideas are sparse.
  • Share positive thoughts or a photograph if the words don’t come
  • Read other people’s blogs and leave comments. It will generate interest in your own blog which gives you the encouragement to keep posting
  • Don’t be scared of self-publicising your blog. Feedback is a wonderful drug and you will get ideas for more posts from what people say back to you on Facebook or Twitter.

11)  What are your blogging goals for 2012?

  • I have really enjoyed being involved with a couple of memes this year and I would like to set up my own. Not to rival any of the memes out there already but by finding my own niche and widening my circle of online friends.
  • I want to let the world know more about Great Britain and Manchester in particular. The vast majority of blogs are from the US and there’s a danger of all blogs becoming flavoured with the same stuff – turns of phrases, expressions, language, topics, views, opinions etc – and I want to work on making my own blog more English.
  • Blogging every day has been a wonderful experience – sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes impossible and sometimes it has been the last thing on my mind – but I want to keep the momentum going in 2012.



Daybook Entry – 28th December



Outside my window…the weather is gearing up for a storm. It’s dark, cold, windy, wintry, sleety showers and ever so unwelcoming.

I am thinking…about business plans for next year.

I am thankful…for so much it’s hard to narrow down today. Mainly that there is so much food and drink in the house!

I am praying for…guidance.

In the kitchen…is stacks of leftovers and salad so meals are not a problem for the next few days.

I am wearing…cutoffs and a polo shirt

I am creating…a blanket for my mother in law and so much more that’s in the pipeline (all will be revealed!)

I am going…to sort some food out for the family shortly.

I am wondering…if Freddie Mercury would still be performing now if he was still alive and what sort of direction his music would have taken.

I am reading… “Don’t Look Back” by Scott Frost. It’s a bit of a clichéd and formulaic police procedural with a predictable cop-with-a-back-story as the protagonist, but it’s ok to pass the time with I suppose.

I am hoping…I can earn some money in the next couple of months from my plans.

I am looking forward to…getting back into a routine after New Year

I am hearing…a Queen concert on the TV from 1975.

Around the house…teenagers lolling about, Christmas decorations, candles, blankets, chocolate boxes…yup, it’s HOME!

I am pondering…how best to market my business online.

One of my favourite things…having a bath or a shower just before bedtime and then getting into a nice clean bed, with crisp sheets and plumped up pillows.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Nothing much – we are in hibernation mode so not much venturing out of the house but lots of cooking of soups and stews, games with the kids and films on TV.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing… the view from my chair this afternoon!


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The party’s over: Annual New Year fireworks in Manchester city centre are axed


Fireworks #1
Image by Camera Slayer via Flickr

The party’s over: Annual New Year fireworks in Manchester city centre are axed | Manchester Evening News –

I live in Manchester, and I love my city, but sometimes I have to scratch my head in amazement at what my fellow Mancunians get themselves all worked up about. Take this story for instance.

The council have decided that they don’t have the funds to pay for the “annual” fireworks party to see in the New Year and so have “cancelled” the event this year. Sounds like a sensible economic decision especially in these straitened times doesn’t it? But as with most things these days there seems to be a polarised response to it. On the one hand you get the pubs and clubs wailing that without the fireworks Manchester will be deader than dodo and it won’t be worth their while opening their doors on New Year’s Eve because the crowds simply won’t go into town. On the other hand you get those that applaud the council’s decision because there are millions of other things to spend £20k on and it would be a total waste of money.

The complainers argue that Manchester is Britain’s second city and we should “put ourselves on the map” by having a firework spectacular and without one we would be the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

The supporters argue that fireworks are a menace and keep children awake in the wee small hours

The arguments roll on and on but the way I see it is like this:

1. Manchester’s “annual” fireworks display has only happened in the last three years – hardly a monumental tradition is it?

2. People who go the pubs and clubs in Manchester on New Year’s Eve won’t be taking to the streets on the stroke of midnight to see the fireworks because the cost of getting IN to these places is prohibitive and once in there they are not likely to be leaving again until they have to.

3. The council are quite right in taking into consideration the safety aspect of it and having the fund the policing of any sort of public event.

4. How can an event like a fireworks display be planned then cancelled at the eleventh hour? Surely the fireworks themselves would have been purchased by now, and the security and technical staff booked to run it. There can’t possibly be an “eleventh hour” cancellation – it would have either not been put in place to start with or else it would have been cancelled months ago.

5. Why do we have to have fireworks for everything now?? The beauty of fireworks is that they are special and a treat. If we begin to use them to celebrate everything then the element of specialness is lost.

6. Manchester city centre is hardly a residential area so to have fireworks in the city centre would mean people travelling in especially to see them. At midnight? With kids? No public transport? Taxis charging double fare because it’s New Year’s Eve? Children being kept awake because of the noise…?

7. Why do we feel the need to “compete” with every other major city in the world??

It seems to me to that people love making an argument out of nothing and the City Council are damned if they do and damned if they don’t do the fireworks this year. What happened to common sense these days? Is it really not as common as it used to be??! Well done MCC for having some and having the strength to stand up to the bleeding-heart do-gooders that are starting to poison our city with their reactionary rants and foot stamping episodes.



I love Boxing Day…and today has been great. Today has been a day of comforting cocooning in the Pamster household and it has been wonderful. No phones, no visitors, no get-up time, no get-dressed time, no time-to-eat time just peace and quiet and a couple of films on the telly.


I have started my next crochet project too (it’s too much for me to just sit here and do nothing) and I’m looking forward to another day of being cocooned again tomorrow. I can guarantee that I’ll be fed up of it by tomorrow night, but for now, I’m happy to be struck with cabin fever. It’s what family Christmases are all about and I’m embracing it with all my heart.

Yesterday was absolutely brilliant. I didn’t say too much about it yesterday because 1) I was too tired and 2) it all seemed a bit too surreal and I wanted to let it settle and ferment in my mind before I committed it to the blogsphere!

We got up early-ish to open presents and have a quick brew and then we headed out into the street at about 9.45 to play carols for our neighbours. It was really nice too! We were all a bit apprehensive about it at first because it’s the first time we’ve played for our neighbours, but once we got going we were fine. There were lots of smiling faces at windows and a few people came out to wish us Merry Christmas and to stand and listen for a bit. It was a really lovely feeling. There were all five of us playing – Me, Kevin, Emma, Ethan and Sam – on three cornets and two trombones. We made a pretty good sound and all!

Just after 10, we hopped on down to church to play for people as they were arriving and Eddie asked us would we like to play during the service too.  We were getting into our stride by then so said yes gladly. I had already been asked to lead the intercessions (another first) and the atmosphere in church was so warm and welcoming. It was a privilege to be a component part of it.

After the service, lots of people said how nice it was to have brass music on Christmas Day and how much it had put the cherry on it for them. I was so pleased to have been able to give them a smile and like I said, it was a privilege.

Then we were off to my mother in law’s house to play some more carols for her (she is housebound and suffers terribly from the affects of Parkinson’s Disease) and we spent an hour there before heading home to get our Christmas dinner ready. She was really pleased to see us (if you can call getting teary at having family playing carols at your front door “pleased”) and again, it was a privilege and a pleasure to be able to give someone a smile.

When we got home, the whole family swung into full teamwork mode and it was an absolute DREAM to get things ready for our celebratory meal. We had prepared some of the vegetables before we went out to play in the street, and the turkey had been cooked the evening before but there was still so much to do it was eye-watering! Kevin, Sam and Ethan totally cleared the living room and moved all the furniture round so we could fit in two borrowed fold up tables for the meal. Emma helped me in the kitchen finishing the vegetable prep and was a complete angel when it came to keeping on top of the washing up as we got everything ready. My Mum and Dad arrived with the pork and they too got stuck in with getting it ready – Dad’s a dab hand with the carving knife and Mum supervised everything… I had planned on having our meal ready for about 3pm, and we did well to be only half an hour “late”.

I say “late” because to be honest, the whole day just felt like it ran on rails yesterday and there wasn’t a timetable as such, so being half an hour off schedule wasn’t any sort of hardship at all.

Sat down for lunch was myself, Kevin, Emma, Ethan, Mum, Dad and my brother John. After dinner John went to collect his two children so we added Will and Jess to the party, and then later still Sam came with his brother Josh and we got stuck in on the Wii and the boys got busy talking Army talk and showing off their various bits of Army knowledge acquired between them.

I can honestly say, hand on heart, that this year has been the absolute best Christmas I have ever had. It’s difficult to put into words really, which is a shame because words are what I’m supposed to be good at, but the sense of belonging and sharing has been uppermost in everything that we have done in all the preparation for Christmas, the lead up, the church services, the gift giving and the ultimate Christmas Dinner and then the clan gathering afterwards.

The sense of belonging and sharing has what has made it for me this year. With a very tight budget and not a lot of money to be cash-rich with, we have more than made up for it in other ways.

It’s the future. I recommend it!!

After the events of yesterday and the lead up to it during Advent, I think I’ve earned my right to be cocooned today, don’t you?!


Christianity, Family

Happy Christmas!!

I am just taking a moment in between washing up and settling down for the evening to send a huge HELLO to blog-land.

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas those who celebrate it, and if you don’t I hope you have had a wonderful day anyway.

It has been a great day here for me and I will probably blog more about it tomorrow when I don’t have a house full of guests!

Bless you all,

Pam xx