Well, what a marvellous birthday I had! My birthday was last Thursday and I turned 35, we had a lovely chilled out day at home, I wasn’t feeling great and so I didn’t want to go out, but enjoyed hanging out with my family, Timm told me that on Saturday, my mum would be taking me out for a treat and then in the evening we would be going out.
For years, whenever asked what I want for my birthday, I say a surprise party. I say it to make Timm laugh as he says that I would hate a surprise as I wouldnt be in control and that the more I ask, the less likely it is to happen. It has become a running joke for such a long time.
I had a few messages and phone calls from friends in the week before my birthday, asking what I was doing and when we would catch up and so I arranged a couple of meals out later in June and it made me know I wasn’t seeing them this week. I *MAY* have been a little grumpy on the phone with a friend who asked me what I was doing and I replied “Well, obviously not seeing you if you are asking!” (Sorry guys!!!)
So Saturday came and Timm dropped me to my mums house, she then took me to Jamesons tea room in Sheffield for a wonderful surprise afternoon tea. It was so lovely, with proper tea, finger sandwiches, cake, scones, prosecco and even a fella playing piano! Such a lovely surprise, but it wasn’t over!
We then went to see a masseuse and spiritual healer who gave me a wonderful back massage (I sat on a massage chair as I can’t lie face down with my stoma) and also talked to me a little about how I was feeling about myself. I came out feeling so relaxed and calm, it was perfect. Thank you so much to my mum for a brilliant day.
Then we set off home, as we got to our house, there was nowhere to park on the front. Mum stopped and called Timm, which I thought was odd but as she’s a nervous driver I thought she was going to ask him to park for her. Timm came out and said to me “Sam, I got you another birthday present but it’s really big and is in the garden, so when you come in, can you close your eyes?”
We have an inflatable hot tub, and once before the wedding, Timm set it all up with twinkly lights and champagne. I immediately thought he had done this again and so closed my eyes and walked up the side of the house with him, I thought I was being a smart arse and said “I hope it’s the hot tub!”
I walked in the back garden and Timm told me to open my eyes…
My wonderful Timm had thrown me a surprise party! Lots of friends were there to celebrate and I was 100% surprised! I honestly had no idea, I can’t believe how everyone kept it quiet!
Thank you to everyone who made it and who helped Timm out, the house and garden were filled with balloons, banners, food, drink and love. Our lovely friend Daz came and photographed the party along with Steve who did magic for us all, but everyone had pitched in and decorated, cooked and helped Timm out. I am just overwhelmed by the love and brilliance of it all, thank you, thank you, thank you xxxxx
Here are some of the lovely photos from the night courtesy of Rockerline Photography.
Thank you again to everyone, it was amazing! Love you all xxxxx
I have this friend called Caroline and without her, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have coped in the past few years. She will be super embarrassed and probably tell me off for this post, but I’m going for it anyway!
We met 12 years ago when I moved to a new area, I had no friends with kids and didn’t know a soul. We met at playgroup when I saw her toddler son wearing a Stone Roses tshirt and was smitten. I went home and called Timm. “I met someone like me!” I cried. We joke that we then ignored each other for a year. But in 2005, we both had sons within a month of each other and our friendship bloomed.
When we became friends and starting hanging out together, my husband Timm was working away a lot, for months on end and Caroline and her partner Jim took me under their wings. It’s hard when you have a partner who works away, weekends are the worst as you feel you can’t intrude on other peoples family time so it can be very lonely. Caroline always made me feel welcome and helped so much during that time.
Our boys have grown up together and the other children too and Caroline and Jim have become the best of friends with myself and Timm. When we first introduced the men, we were worried they wouldn’t like each other, luckily they quickly became firm friends and from there have had so many adventures in the form of Responsible Fishing, their arts company.
Since I got so ill and started having surgeries, Caroline has been my rock. I just can’t explain quite how much she has made everything better. She was there. Not just physically but emotionally, she was there.
Looked after kids
Held my hand
Listened to me shout and cry
Taken me out
Looked after my family
Looked after my pets
Made me laugh
Allowed me to cry
Watched crap telly in my bed with me
A million other things…
She is the best friend I could ever wish for and I can’t believe my luck that I managed to find someone so bloody wonderful. I am so grateful to have such a beautiful, amazing, sensitive, loving and creative soul to share my life with. She is just the best.
The past 3 years have been the worst of my life. There have been times where I just couldn’t get out of bed, the sadness on my shoulders was so heavy. I felt as though there was a big, dark hole in my heart and it was spreading. It stopped the blood flowing to my limbs so they were heavy and didn’t want to move. It hurt my chest with it’s weight making me catch my breath. It hurt my brain by sending all the anxious thoughts in the world swirling around.
Caroline, I’m sorry if this embarrasses you, but you are wonderful and I love you very, very much. Your support, kindness and love has helped my family and myself more than you’ll ever know and I will never be able to repay you.
I have this friend. Her name is Fenn. (It’s not, she’s known by all manner of names, but to me she is Fenn.)
We ‘met’ online over 10 years ago on a website called The Bad Mothers Club. It was pre Facebook, pre Twitter, pre Facetiming, skyping and instagram. A vine was still something that grapes grew on to make delicious wine. Forums were the thing and my family thought I was opening myself up to being murdered by a stranger.
Fenn was one of the big girls on the forum, thoroughly intimidating but in a cool big sister way, not a mean girls way. (She never told me to wear pink on Tuesdays). So we chatted, we found ourselves on the same threads and we talked shit, made terrible jokes and mainly were honest, struggling mums who could tell it like it is. I met some bloody wonderful people on that forum, many of whom I still speak to today, all in the premise of being bad mums. We weren’t and we aren’t. But we found peace in having the ability to share our parenting woes with like-minded individuals.
I always liked Fenn, we clicked and I knew I would make her mine and call her squishy. Months of forum chat turned into emails and private messages where we would talk about anything and everything. It was a really isolating time for me. I had three kids under 5 and a husband who worked away, Timm had just started working for the Arctic Monkeys and was touring for 9 months a year and I was home alone with the kids. I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 2 years before and during flare ups, I would barely leave home or speak to other human beings.
Our first phone call was nerve wracking, the premise of it was that she was going to help talk me through understanding Paypal. Don’t mock. It was all very new!!! An hour later after her banging her head against the wall in frustration of speaking to a tech-phobic moron, we were laughing and chatting as though we had known each other forever.
We first met in person when I took the train to her home town to stay with her. This goes against all internet safety warnings, but after a year or so of chatting on the phone we made the leap. I remember sitting on the train and thinking ‘fuck, what if we hate each other??, what if we have nothing to say?’. I needn’t have worried, we hugged, went back to hers, drank rosè and talked for hours.
Our friendship over the past ten years has seen us through raising 5 kids, relationships breaking down, new loves, illness, surgeries, heartbreak, new loves, new careers, six years working together at Leeds festival, our lowest lows and our highest highs. We live 100 miles apart and don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we both wished but this girl is my love.
I don’t think I would be here writing this blog if it wasn’t for Fenn and her ever helpful tech and social media advise. She is creative, artistic and ever brilliant and you need to go take a look at her work at Sex, Death, Rock n Roll (yes, that IS the best blog name ever).
Today is her birthday and I think you should all go over to like her Facebook page and wish her a happy birthday for she is bloody wonderful.
Friendship comes in many different ways, often when we least expect it. For years, people would say she was my “internet friend” as if that meant she weren’t real, as if the fact we met online negated from any real life connection. We live in a time where we can connect with other people from all over the world in ways never experienced before, that is a wonderful thing. Of course we need to keep ourselves safe, but the internet opens life up and gives you the ability to make friends that can last a lifetime.
Fenn is my true friend. She makes me happy, she talks me through my sadness, she is my shoulder to cry on, my partner in crime and my support. I love her very much and truly hope that I have made her cry as she reads this! 😛
A few years ago, I trained as a masseuse and got the opportunity to go to Leeds festival and be their backstage masseuse for artists. As I had a massive panic attack about it, I knew there was one person to talk me down and be by my side. Together we did 6 years, hanging out with rock stars, giving eye liner to American punk boys, feeding lolly pops and cider to indie bands and generally having a fucking amazing time.
The last time we did that was in 2013. I was ill. I had been ill for months and knew I wasn’t well enough to go but didn’t want to let anyone down. When we arrived there was confusion, problems with work space, a back stage manager who was trying to fuck us over (don’t ask!!) and a lot of stress. I managed the first night and then between us, we had had enough and went home. The next day I was admitted to hospital and I didn’t leave for two and a half weeks. When I left, I no longer had my colon.
My wonderful Fenn, I want to thank you for those 6 years. We had a blast didn’t we?! Josh Homme calling you ma’am, Jarvis Cocker, the Axl Rose debacle, the Beth Ditto debacle, nearly taking out Dave Grohl with a swedish wooden throwing game, you getting me to meet Pete Doherty, hanging out on buggies, sleeping behind the main stage with a stage light for warmth, telling Chung “celeb gossip” about Gok Wan to realise it all came from Pop Bitch, the lovely coffee, the dining with stars, the case of the stolen guitar that we solved like punk Miss Marples, Jack Black, the year of the weird yogi and his life in a cave, the shaming of those who thought we should know who they were, the laughs, the tears and the cider. Always the cider.
I should probably mention now our one and only argument. It involved drunkenness, tents, cameras and a bottle being thrown at my head… It was magnificent!
You are a gem, you know. You deal with so much and you are an inspiration to so many. Though times are tough and you have a lot on your plate, you are always there for me and I am truly grateful. You know what else I am grateful for? That fella of yours. Thank you lovely boy for making my girl the happiest I have ever seen her. It is a real joy to see you together.
We keep promising to do more work together, then life, kids, illness, stress gets in the way. I don’t stress about it though, as I know we are going to do something amazing together at some point. We are both so fucking awesome that it would be a travesty for it NOT to happen!
From the humble beginnings of a tiny corner of the internet to where we are now, I am so glad you are part of my life. I hope you have a marvellous birthday, I only wish I were closer so I could come and clink a glass with you. We will be friends to the very bitter end, when we are old punk biddies in amazing costumes with bright pink hair and kick ass shoes.
And that is why, my love, when I renewed my wedding vows to my Timm last year after the worst times of our lives, there was only ever one person who I could have had to perform the ceremony. Thank you for being such an integral part of such an important day. I love you.
Happy Birthday beautiful xxx
Please do go check out my wonderful Fenn…
I ‘speak’ to lots and lots of people online about colitis, crohns, ileostomies, j pouches and alllllll that comes with IBD. I think it’s really important to have the opportunity to talk to other people who have similar experiences to you. There’s nothing worse than feeling totally alone and that no one understands what you are going through.
I’m so lucky, my husband Timm is so understanding, he takes time to listen, he supports me 100%, he loves me unconditionally and makes me feel that my illness has no negative impact on our relationship. I couldn’t ask for a better partner… But he just cannot understand what it’s like exactly.
Last year a friend told me about one of her friends who had IBD and surgeries and said if I wanted to she would hook us up. It was a bit of a hectic time and though I was interested, it just didn’t come off. I emailed him but think I got the address wrong and the moment passed with me focussing on recovering from surgery.
Then this year through the mighty power of twitter we finally managed to start chatting. And I realised that having a personal friend who “knows” makes a massive difference. We’ve not met in person, but chat privately online quite a bit. He knows what it’s like because he’s been there. We can laugh and make totally inappropriate jokes about arses without the fear of making someone feel uncomfortable. I think he may be my IBDFF…
In the interests of privacy, we decided on aliases, and so he is the CrapBag to my Princess Consuella Banana Hammock… It works on many levels as he has an ileostomy bag and I have a pouch, plus we are Friends geeks and it made me laugh.
I think talking and support is key to getting through living with chronic illness, honesty with your nearest and dearest is a biggie. I’m so bloody lucky to have Timm, I can’t even describe how much easier he makes my life, he fills it with love and joy and makes me so happy (blerkkk… soppy alert) and he’s the one person who makes everything ok.
So I think it’s good for me to have another person to talk to, to share the load and not always be putting my thoughts onto Timm’s shoulders. I’d like to think I help CrapBag out too.
I think it helps that we have a similar sense of humour, things in common apart from the bad asses and a mutual friend so it doesn’t feel too weird.
What do you think? Do you have an IBDFF? Who is your support system?
Would some sort of buddy system help you get through the rubbish times and give you someone to share the good times with?
Let me know about your #IBDFF
Over on Team Honk for International Women’s Day they are celebrating Inspiring Women and asking others to share which woman inspires them. They chose Davina McCall who I think is a great choice, but I would like to talk about the women who inspire me, and they are my two oldest friends Tania and Hannah.
Im so lucky that I had to think long and hard about who to choose, I have so many awesome women in my life and could blog forever if I had to list them all.
I met Tania and Hannah when we were all 11, it was year 7 of secondary school and I sat alone in my classroom and saw these two girls giggling. They were total opposites, Tania is Chilean and dark haired and Hannah is pale with red hair and freckles. I didn’t know it at that point, but they were to become my closest friends.
Can you spot us?
21 years later these women inspire me, they support me, lift my spirits and are just there. Always there, even when they physically aren’t. It doesn’t matter how long it is between the times we see each other, its just easy. The amazing thing about women who have been friends for so long is that we know each other inside and out, these girls have supported me at my worst and celebrated with me at my best.
Tania is a real enigma, if you met her briefly you would say she is confident, beautiful, loud, the boss… But she has so many layers to her, 21 years and she still has the ability to surprise me. She is so intelligent, spiritual and has such a kind heart. She comes up with these crazy ideas and has the ability to get anyone on board, one minute we will be having dinner, the next she will have orchestrated a photo opportunity with us taking on the roles of the 12 disciples.
Hannah is the strongest woman I know. She is this petite, quiet woman but man this girl kicks ass. She is hard working, tough, brave and a truly wonderful mother. She is also loving, caring, thoughtful, hilarious and flipping stunning!
Both of them are amazing and I love them more than I can say, when the shit hits the fan, they are two people who I need, not even want. I need their guidance, their love and their uniquely, wonderfully bizarre friendship in my life.
When I am low I think of them, of Hannah who works 13 hour shifts as a nurse then cares for her two children whilst her husband is working away, all with a smile on her face. Of Tania who astounds me with her drive and passion, her love of her family is unrivalled. Of both of them and their ability to make me howl with laughter and bare my soul within the space of an hour…
My inspiring women are my friends. Tania and Hannah. Here’s to friendship, nurture your relationships with the people who matter, celebrate the amazing women in your life and tell them often how much they matter to you.
Love Sam xx
Just wanted to add another quick post today…
Tonight three friends came to visit me and bring ‘girls night’ to the Hallamshire. I’ve been feeling so low and seeing their smiley faces and bags clinking with non alcoholic wine (real wine glasses and everything!) posh crisps, gossip and homemade flapjack just made everything a little bit better!
I feel so blessed to have such awesome friends. Thank you ladies, you have out a smile on my mardy face tonight!
I know I’ve said it before, but I will say it again, every message, every text, every funny photo or kind word, every night time game of scrabble, every piss take, every bum joke… It means the world. Thank you all so much.