Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Another parentless but happy Christmas

Since Alice and Nicola arrived to bless our lives Christmas has been more special than it used to be. In the pre-children era, that, BTW, seems like a lifetime ago, Christmas meant meeting up with other parentless friends rather than any type of family celebration.

Of course for many of our best friends Christmas still seems quite bleak. When you haven't got much spare money or any birth family Christmas can feel rather pointless. It becomes quite easy to slip into the role of an outsider looking with ill-concealed envy at other people having fun. For some the safe familiarity of a small council flat can replace looking for human interaction and for others working extra shifts can seem preferable to a chicken leg eaten on your own.

Which is why Ella and I always make the effort to have an Open House for our friends.

Our 2014 Christmas "Open House" was the best ever. As always our husbands Chris and Mark played a crucial, but unglamorous, role. Chris drove the hired minibus to collect our guests from assorted pick-up points in the morning but even more importantly then drove the same people back to their pick-up points late on Christmas evening. Mark had an identical role but used his car for those who couldn't conveniently access the minibus option. They are both total stars! 

This year we used the minibus to pick up people from three different places. Ludlow Park and Ride was a mistake and the town centre would have been more sensible. 

I think that 2014 was the first time ever that all the folk who said they would be coming actually turned up. What made it even better was that everybody also remembered to bring the food they said they would so there was no duplication and no gaps either! Well done everybody. 

Obviously the most important news that we found out during the gossip sessions was that Magda appears to be back in the UK! Grace T saw her from a distance of not more than 10 yards when both of them were waiting at traffic lights - Magda on foot, Grace T in her car. 

Curiously this didn't come as a total surprise to Didi but the two of them are taking things very slowly and carefully which is why her return had been kept a secret! 

Visitors (20) were – 

AC/DC, now a full time model. 

Alice N, she works full time at the Childrens’ Home where many of us lived at different times. She would like to pass the responsibility for the photo archive on to somebody else. Any offers? 

Angel, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, now a "almost full time" care worker.

Angie D, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, still a minimum wage slave in retail sector.

Belle S, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, working part time in a convenience store.

Carly, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, works in a garden centre.

Didi, live in Gloucester, she is a deputy manager in a hotel.  

Fergie Sings The Blues, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, working for an undertaker.  

Grace T works in patient therapy in a hospital. She is "as sure as she can be" that she saw Magda in Gloucester in December!! 

Helena P works in a stables.

Mad Lad, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, a self employer builder.

Peter From Upstairs, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, works in a hardware shop.

Queen of the World, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, a mature student.

Red Rose, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, works in bar/restaurant.  

Simple Not Simon works in an "upmarket pub".

Tiger Not Tim, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, currently unemployed.

Tom H, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, works in a garden centre.

Tom T, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, works in a petrol station.

Twinkle, lives in Childrens’ Home Ville, currently unemployed.

Zulu, lives near Montgomery, works for an optical supplies company. 


Saturday, 27 December 2014

Light a candle for 2 Motherless girls

At this time of year we always think about Nicola – no, not Ella’s baby Nicola but our friend Nicola from the Children's Home who died so young.

To Ella and I Nicola represents all that was and is wrong with the system. Nicola died after she got infected with MRSA - in hospital. That's right she went in for minor surgery and came out in a coffin. When Nicola realised she was dying she got in touch with her final set of foster parents and they dropped everything visiting her every day from then until she died. Nicola wasn’t stupid – not by any means – and if she had been given just a bit more encouragement to stay on at school or had had a special friend to share her daily life with who knows what might have happened.

It seems such a waste to die at 21, especially when you didn’t have many happy times in your life. It could so easily have been Ella or I buried in the cemetery if things had worked out just a bit differently. We visit her grave quite often and I know some of our friends do the same.

We never met Wendy N but she sounds to have been quite a girl. She died in an accident a month after we started publishing our newsletter. Her closest friend is still a subscriber (waving at Wendys Pal). We happen to know that Wendy was cremated but there wasn’t any money for a proper memorial and I think that 2015 is when her friends should try to put that right.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Romulus and Remus - rest in peace

It is probably a good thing that Ella and I were both at work today. If anybody tells you that the death of a family pet isn't a big issue then they are flat out lying - or horribly insensitive. Even our husbands, normally the sensible ones, are feeling sad.

Nicola and Alice (both 2) have noticed that Romulus and Remus are missing. Ella told the girls that the cats had gone to live with an animal doctor and they seemed to accept this in a rather matter-of-fact way. I think they are too young to understand the concept of death so there wasn't any point even trying to explain the idea to them.

At the moment the cats' bed is still where it has always been. Perhaps at the weekend we will be brave enough to move it down into the cellar because I don't think we want to throw it away just yet.

In life Romulus and Remus were never more than a few feet apart and in a strange way burying them so their limbs were intertwined made perfect sense. Now they are at the Rainbow Bridge they will have been restored to full health so the other cats and dogs better watch out!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Two sad things happened this week

Regular readers will know the story of our two refuge cats Romulus and Remus. They did everything together and it was somehow fitting that fate had brought them into our lives. So it is with great sadness I have to tell your all that Romulus died of old-age last Thursday and that Remus was put to sleep by the vet this morning.

Romulus had been fading for a while now but wasn't unhappy or in pain so while that was true we didn't think anything needed to be done. Romulus went to bed at the normal time on Wednesday but died during the night. Poor old Remus then stopped eating and drinking and was so distressed that after talking to the vet it was agreed that the kind and merciful thing to do would be to have Remus put to sleep.

The two of them have been buried in our back garden, side by side in death as they were in life. They will be greatly missed.

Ella and I have received a number of homophobic emails this week that could only have come from readers of the Facebook group Motherless Daughters. I had previously complained about the actions of one Sandy Armstrong Angstadt and her small clique of supporters.

Although "the thread" has now been deleted I'm going to have to share the sadness I feel about the venom that some members of the group displayed towards other members. The guidelines for posting are perfectly clear - no personal attacks - but some very, very nasty personal attacks were posted and were allowed to remain on view for 12 hours or more.

Can the administrators confirm that those involved will not be allowed the opportunity to re-offend? The one place I never expected to find the playground bully and her fellow travellers allowed free reign was a bereavement support group.

My current view of Facebook represents so small a change to my previously published view that it would seem emptily repetitious to repeat most of it here. What I would say is that Facebook allows some extremely unpleasant people to bully others and it makes me sick to my stomach to read some of the posts the bullies put into the public domain. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Feedback on our new book

Just as I had expected publishing our book has stirred some people up! I have quite a lot of positive feedback but also some "surprised and disappointed" comments from some of the more fringe people identified in the book who feel that their contribution to the "Eve and Ella story" has been under-played.

I think everybody agrees that the case studies were the best part of the book. All four people, although very different, are inspirational characters and I am pleased that the ghost writer and I have made this section of the project work so well.

Several people felt that Ella and I should have written more about our time in the Children's Home and that I need to include more about my various foster placements. What went right, what went wrong and how transitions between placements were carried out. This can be done in any second edition.

More of a problem are the requests for expanded coverage of my (Eve's) time at university and Ella's parallel time living solo. This was a mega difficult time for both of us and there are some concerns about revealing some secrets that we would prefer didn't make it into the public domain.

Some minor mysteries that were described in the book have now been solved. Wendy C is still alive and living in the Telford area. Somehow I managed to write her new email address down incorrectly so she didn't realise that I had been trying to get in touch.

Of course some of the mysteries we wrote about remain exactly that - mysteries. The Big Boss Lady (BBL) did, as we had predicted, move to New Zealand. I remain just as puzzled as I always have been about exactly what she saw as the attraction of that back-water. Curiously her husband has not moved with her and he is still running the laboratory where Ella and I used to work.

Lara G was granted the "right of reply" to what ended up appearing in the book. She never took up the offer and there is no evidence that the contact address I have for her is being monitored.

Assorted people have also tried to get a statement from Honey about the demise of the on-line forum she ran for several years. None of them have succeeded in getting any reply from her so the decision has been made to let "sleeping dogs" lie.

The biggest regret we have about this project is that we were unable to persuade 38DD to write enough material for a case study. I have called her a combination of a saint and a star and my view hasn't changed!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

How I survived in and out of Care

Many books have been written and many websites have been created that discuss adoption and fostering from an adult perspective. Virtually nothing has been written from the point of view of the clients of this enormously expensive system – that is the young people themselves. Indeed I would go further: the great and good seem to have an overwhelming interest in the financial aspects of the Care System but almost no awareness of the views or experiences of those who feel most failed by the current arrangements.

Ella and I both feel that a sizable proportion of those “timing out” at 18 are grossly ill-prepared for adult life. How many parents would expect their own children to cope with the rigours of post-16 education with little or no emotional or financial support from a loving family? Disruption, poverty and uncertainty are all major barriers to academic achievement and the low educational attainment of children who spent time in a Children’s Home is a national disgrace.

In the absence of a formal support mechanism that meets the requirements of care leavers from 18-25 years old it is crucial that an alternative approach is embraced. Ella and I call this “group self-help”. There are a number of sub-sections to this that all have a part to play in overcoming the twin devils of isolation and a lack of positive role models. By far the most important, at least as far as Ella and I were concerned, was the group newsletter. Sharing triumphs and tragedies with friends who share your childhood experiences can be very therapeutic. Knowing that there is somebody is taking an interest is nice but having somebody else to help, when few others could, is even better! Quite deliberately our book describes some people who have become role models for the two of us. These are people, ranging in age from early 20s to 60+, who between them have made a real difference to Eve and Ella the parents and Eve and Ella the employees.

I (Eve) wrote this book to repay a debt. Not a financial debt, although money does come into the story, but an emotional debt to two groups of people. Those who helped me to survive 18 years of living in foster care or in a Children’s Home and those who subsequently helped me to recover from those difficult times. 

When I wrote the book I did so in the sure and certain knowledge that it would upset some people and annoy others. If a reader falls into either category then my defence is that articulate and conscientious adoptive parents or foster carers – the type who would be sufficiently motivated to join an on-line forum or to read any book of mine on their vocation – are the exception rather than the rule. The on-going tragedy is that not all members of this elite group realise that their high standards are far from universal! Some of my friends had a long and happy relationship with their foster parents and a number of examples of entirely positive relationships are included in this book. Other foster parents I know from bitter first-hand experience just “went through the motions” and the degree of nurturing, especially when older teenagers were being fostered, that took place was fairly minimal. It is also my strong impression that the average quality of foster care gradually declines as the age of the child increases.
Of course I am biased because I have invested a great deal of emotional energy in the creation of “How I survived in and out of Care” but I genuinely think that this book could be a life changer to many of the most vulnerable young people in society. If enough people read the book and put into practice the survival skills we have identified then perhaps all my hard work was worthwhile.

“How I survived in and out of Care” is available from and from

Monday, 20 October 2014

Work friends - changing the balance of power!

I (Eve) have been working as a teacher since Easter. I was new to teaching so I didn't expect my new colleagues to fall at my feet in gratitude when I walked into the staffroom for the first time but neither did I expect the degree of social isolation that I experienced.

The first few weeks were distinctly unpleasant. The staffroom was dominated by what I can only describe as a small clique of hard-line snobs. If your clothes, car, address or subject specialism wasn't to their liking then you were a nobody.

What I don’t get is why this adolescent sort of behaviour has to translate into professional ladies teaching in a school. I have no problem issue with women bonding with each other over common interests or experiences and there is much solace and comfort to be gained from sharing. But does this have to come at the expense of the feelings of those that are not part of the sharing? Why does clique membership have to be based on such trivial issue as where a person lives?

Bonding through a mutual dislike for others perhaps less fortunate than the other clique members is anything but positive. Surely the endless sniping and creating barriers and territories is short-sighted and entirely against what teaching should be about?

There is only one person teaching psychology in the school and as she was about my age I though we would have things in common so I made overtures of friendship towards her. When she was on her own she was lovely but as soon as one of the clique came into the staffroom she would get up, even in the middle of a conversation with me, to sit with them. From "moving towards being a friend" to "ignore all outsiders" in a blink of an eye.

It was starting to annoy me and I was seriously thinking about not using the staffroom but this felt like letting the clique "win". Instead last week I managed to persuade some colleagues from the Maths and Science Department to slightly change their routine and we went "mob-handed" at morning break and "occupied" the cliques chosen corner. As our base is slightly nearer to the staffroom than it is for the humanities clique we can always get there first.

It should make for an interesting few days!

Monday, 13 October 2014

16 Blog Reviews


Totally, typically

As I have said N times before – where N is a large number – most first year undergraduate blogs don’t make it to Christmas. I am struggling to think of a single example that has made it all the way from Fresher’s Week to Graduation!

In line with the title of the blog this new entry is fairly typical of the genre so what I suggest that readers should do is to bookmark it, come back in 6 months, and if it is still being published then add it to your regular reading list.

OVERALL – Come back in a few months but don’t be surprised if it isn’t active. 2/10

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Encouraging news, the blog is being updated regularly and both the quality and quantity of the prose is now well above average. 5/10

How I coped (from age 17 - 21) with a double parental bereavement

I have to admit that I have met the author of this blog but only once and only for 15 minutes. The blog started in July 2013 and there have been 54 entries since then so it scores highly on reliability. This is a niche blog, a blog that all of us hope that we would never need to read, but I think it is worth supporting nevertheless.

The author is a post-graduate and in the nicest possible way you can tell she is because of the maturity of her writing.

OVERALL – A well above average blog that deserves to succeed. 8/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I met the author as recently as last Friday. She is battling through her PGCE and the forthcoming court case where she is suing her odious grandparents. Despite everything she remains cheerful. 8/10

What Brigit Did

When I first found this blog I was excited because it was about Cornwall (one of my favourite counties) and as it was being written by a graduate I was more optimistic that she would stick with it long-term. Even the content was interesting.

Sadly it has been a month since the last entry so I’m guessing that the twin devils of lack of readers plus zero comments received has sapped her energy and enthusiasm. It takes a very strong willed author to write what nobody wants to read! 

OVERALL – Worth supporting this blog, at least for a while, so why not read it and give her some feedback? 5/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

University, Life, Thoughts

Another university related blog bites the dust. This one didn’t get as far as the student arriving at university and that must be something of a record. When this type of blog works they can be some of my favourite reading material but, almost invariably, they crash and burn sometime during the first term.

OVERALL – Pop back in a few weeks but don’t hold your breath. 2/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Girl Lost in Transit

I am always rather pessimistic about the survival chances of any blog based on “my life at university”. Life as an undergraduate should be pleasurably busy with both academic work and face-to-face social interactions and writing a regular blog entry seldom survives more than a couple of months.

On the plus side this blogger comes across as rather more sensible and mature than most first year students so perhaps she will prove me wrong!

OVERALL – Come back after Christmas to see if my prediction was correct. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Stethoscopes, bows and all things in between

When I review a blog that already has 36 entries I admit that I am somewhat predisposed to giving it a favourable review. The percentage of bloggers who reach the milestone of 10 entries is disconcertingly low so 36 entries practically makes the author an old-timer.

I feel that this writer has the potential to write a blog that is a bit different from the usual fare served up to bloggers but to succeed in this aim the postings will need to be rather longer. If you want the occasional reader to become a regular, comment leaving, reader I think a typical posting should be several hundred words.

OVERALL – Worth sticking with one, at least for a while. 6/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Curiously the name of the blog isn’t obvious!

There is something about Wordpress blogs that brings put the worst in me. So does an author who uses such a wide range of font sizes for no obvious reason!

People who know me will know that I write poetry – and have it published. Some of the poetry in this blog is really good and for that reason alone I will give it a trial. A word of advice to the poet, if readers know something about you they tend to enjoy your poetry more. At the moment you are rather “writing in a vacuum”.

OVERALL – If you enjoy poetry you might enjoy this blog, otherwise don’t bother. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Newbie Science

Breathtakingly good! In terms of content this blog is right up there with the best amateur blogs I have ever read. Add to the mixture the fact that the author has been publishing since 2012 and this should be on all sensible peoples’ reading list.  

OVERALL – It really doesn’t get much better than this. 9/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Mega disappointed to have to say that this blog has slowed down to a crawl and seems unlikely to survive. 4/10

Oh my science

Another science blog and another success story! Find a theme, then write about it in a cogent and entertaining way and you are well on the way to blogging success.

One thing that would worry me is the posting frequency. The long gap between February and June with no postings would be long enough for even the most ardent fan to wonder off muttering. If the blogger sticks with the recent improved productivity then this a very promising discovery. 

OVERALL – Raise the quantity to the quality and the blog will fly. 7/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Continues to improve and deserves to succeed. 8/10

Astronomy, geography and more

This is what I call a chatty scientific blog. This is a notoriously difficult genre to succeed in but the author has made a brave, and moderately successful, attempt.

The blog stats seem to show a blog that is getting enough readers and enough feedback to encourage the author to keep going for the long haul.

OVERALL – A well above average science blog that deserves to succeed. 7/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Mega disappointed to have to say that this blog appears to have been abandoned. 0/10

Home and Abroad

I love therapeutic blogs. But of course I’m biased because I wrote a therapeutic blog/newsletter for several years. This guy is a writer, don’t have any doubt about this. I read his entire blog in a single session and that is almost unprecedented for me.

OK so I’m a nosey girl but I would have liked to have known a bit more about what went wrong when he was at university. In my experience writing a “warts and all” blog is more helpful to the author than writing a sanitised version.

OVERALL – The find of the day by the proverbial country mile. 10/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - This is one of my favourite blogs ever. The author has real talent!

Study Abroad - Milano

If I had a pound for every “working abroad” blog that didn’t make it to Christmas I wouldn’t need to work and baby Alice would have a very secure future. It is a shame because the blogger usually has no shortage of material to write about and if they could only persuade themselves to invest an hour or two twice a month a top quality blog would be in reach.

The problem is they don’t. Real life gets in the way and the blog usually doesn’t last long. This member of the club is well written and I would love it to succeed. I just don’t think it will!

OVERALL – Don’t hold your breath. If it survives it will be good – if! 6/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I am starting to think that this blog has been abandoned. 0/10

Tahme at Newman

I like this blog. Wide ranging material presented with a sense of style is always going to attract my attention. And yet? The little voice in my head is wondering if he is going to a “long haul” blogger. I’ve been caught like this before, I found a blog that I looked forward to reading then boom like a supernova it vanished.

But as it stands it is good example of how to write a “what I’m doing in my life” blog and I would like to see it thrive and still be around 12 months from now.

OVERALL – If it survives another 12 months it will be even better 6.5/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - I remain optimistic about the future of this blog. 7/10

I’m going to show my age and education – err, a 25year old graduate – and say that the blog of a third time medicine applicant doesn’t really grab me and say, “read me, read me”. I’m passed that stage of my life and glad to be so!

But I do appreciate the fact that the blogs contains lots of links to other blogs which implies a degree of bloggers solidarity which is both refreshing and unusual.

OVERALL – Like the curate’s egg – good in parts. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - The blog is certainly improving so perhaps my previous comments were too harsh. 6/10

Life as a petite

The good news is that blogger has a proven track record. She has been blogging for about 12 months so clearly takes it seriously. The bad news is that her blog is the all-time, all-star, most boring blog ever. Perhaps parenthood has changed my priorities but I really cannot remember ever being keen on the subjects she covers with such enthusiasm. Fashion, crafts and lifestyle just isn’t my scene – how about nappies, breastfeeding and married life?

No doubt though that there will be people around who will read every word so good luck to the blogger. No hard feelings I hope.

OVERALL – Not for lads or most girls. 2/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - Nothing to appeal to me but the author seems reliable enough. 3/10

God I hope I get it

Something of a niche blog but that isn’t always a bad thing as some of the best blogs on this site are quite specialised in their coverage. But the posting frequency – yes that old chestnut – rather lets the author down. I’ve always thought that fortnightly posts is the minimum required to keep the reading audience satisfied.

If you are a budding actor then I imagine you might want to subscribe but I don’t think a wider audience will be enthralled by what is on offer.

OVERALL – Possible too specialised to gather enough readers. 4/10.

UPDATE (NOV 2014) - The blog is certainly improving so perhaps my previous comments were too harsh. 5/10

Monday, 6 October 2014

Update - October 6 2014

News from our friends

Didi and Magda - Regulars will remember that over Christmas it seemed that their relationship was back on again. It was all quite dramatic and romantic with Magda arriving unannounced at the infamous South Wales bash to talk to Didi. There were lots of tears and laughter and what we all hoped was a happy ending. 
But it wasn't to be. Within a few weeks Magda had flown back to Norway. The story that was put out for public consumption was that it was for a holiday with her parents but now we know that she didn't expect to be coming back to England. She certainly hasn't been seen by anybody in our circle of friends since late January so we think she must have left Gloucester then. 

Magda and Didi exchanged regular "just good friends" emails for a few months but in early July 2014 even that stopped.

In late September 2014 I received, a totally unexpected, email from Magda. At the moment she has no plans to return to England. She has a job and she has moved back in with her parents and her brother. She says that she still has a "Didi shaped hole" in her life but that she wasn't and isn't ready to enter into a legal same-sex relationship at the moment and that separation was better than shared disappointment.

So that seems to be it - one good friend gone from our lives, probably for good, and another left emotionally battered.

I have a lovely picture of Didi, Magda and our two babies sitting together in our lounge and I hope that perhaps one day fate will allow us all to meet up again. 
Sparky - Sparky has moved from somebody we knew via the forum, to a friend, to a close, as in inner circle, friend in the last nine months! Sparky is resilient, sensible and fun to be with and her boyfriend and his sister are similarly lovely.

It is fair to say that Sparky can be rather "firm but fair" in her opinions and her views on "Honey" - as in "archive deleting" Honey - are certainly not for sensitive ears!

Old Timer - He has now left his job in a Wolverhampton school and has moved to West Wales to live with his wife-to-be. We are all genuinely excited for him. If anybody deserves to find happiness and security it is him!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Rest in Peace "Boy who not be named"

Most of you will have already heard of the sad death of "Boy who not be named". His funeral was this week and I would like to share something that I wrote and was that read out at his wake.

"If you find friendship or happiness then grab it and hang on to with all your strength. One day it will be snatched away from you by death and then it will be too late. One of the things that's helping me today is my knowledge that death awaits us all. I knew it was waiting and that it would eventually take all that I had ever known or cared about. Every living thing dies. The flowers I purchased for the funeral will soon be dead. I knew they would be when I purchased them, but I did it anyway for their beauty. And this is the way of things. No one alive today lived in the 1870s but life goes on. Cherish every hour, every minute, every second. And when it's over think back to the good times. It's all any of us can do."

Rest in Peace "Boy who not be named"


The "Boy who will not be named" was in foster care in the town where Ella and I lived. He was one of a group of us who used to meet up most Sunday afternoons in the park. The boys would have a kick around and the girls would have a gossip. The burger van always used to arrived at 3:15 and we used to put our money together to buy some hot food. Sometimes it was nearly a burger each but once or twice it went right down to one bite each!

The "Boy who will not be named" was rather strange. He had no social skills or interest in anything except science fiction and I think he had Asperger's Syndrome. But in those early days he was clean and tidy and somebody was obviously looking after him. After Ella and I "timed out" from the Home at 18 we still went to the park most weeks and The "Boy who will not be named" used to turn up every now and again. He had a part-time weekend job in a warehouse so he only came along when he wasn't working. He gradually looked tattier and became smellier so I think his foster placement must have ended around that time.

I then went off to university but Ella still used to see him round the town. One day he claimed to Ella that he had got a new job in Watford (Hertfordshire). He seemed quite excited in his own way and he certainly wasn't seen for ages so I suppose it is possible he really did move away. About 18 months ago he got back in touch with 38DD - the closest he had to a best friend- mainly because she had the patience of a saint. He asked if he could stay the night and things didn't go well. I will say no more! He then moved up to Merseyside and was hoping to do a secondment with a branch of his employers over in Canada. Sadly this will now never happen.

There were zero suspicious circumstances involved in his death. None at all, he simply died in his sleep from natural causes. Since the funeral a few people have sent me memories they had of  him - thank you. These will all be forwarded to Didi and then published in the next issue of the blog.

But I would like to say a few "Eve and Ella" specific words. I think the one thing that we agree on is that we didn't know much about his background. Apart from knowing that he was fostered we don't know when or why this came to happen. Perhaps even sadder is that it seems possible that neither his birth parents nor his last set of foster parents will know that he has died. And that sums up the whole sad situation for many of us!

Monday, 14 July 2014

First love - first loss

I know that it is a rather traditional way to start a story but I am telling you the truth when I say that Magda was my first proper girl friend. Sure enough there had been a couple of short lived relationships that lasted a few weeks but to me Magda was the real thing. We were together for almost exactly two years and these were the best two years in what hasn't been a over-happy life.

When you are a foster child happiness can be hard to find. The sense of having no roots and no family history to share with friends and co-workers and the, sometimes overwhelming, sense of loneliness can almost unendurable.

My closest friends Eve and Ella have already described the broad-brush details of what went wrong in an earlier blog entry. It has been a tumultuous six months and not a time that I will ever forget. Indeed early 2014 is right up there in the "Didi nastiness scale" with when I was taken away from my birth parents and placed in foster care. Yes, it has been that bad!

Flying solo having once had a co-pilot isn't much fun. I have felt surrounded by grey clouds for much of the time and I've been aware, all too painfully aware, that I have been a source of much worry to my friends and foster parents alike. Believe me that wasn't through my own choice!

Do I think that Magda and I have a future? Deep, deep down in that little nugget of my brain labelled reality the answer has to be no. Magda's emotional roots and so much of what makes her who she is lie in Norway - the country of her birth. England was never her home, it was the place where she lived which is something rather different. After the break-up and her return to the parental nest we did discuss me moving to Norway to be with her. But it was always just words, not deeds. The hard fact and the one we could never find a way round was that I do not want to leave my friends,  my job and the safe familiarity of England to move overseas.

So that is the end of the story. They say that you never forget your first true love and I hope that I never forget Magda

Didi (Monday 14th July 2014)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Remembering Magda

Ella and I liked Magda and over the last few years we have seen quite a lot of her, usually along with Didi, but sometimes on her own. Our babies Alice and Nicola loved her and when they heard her voice they used to go crawling or running to her.

The relationship between Didi and Magda started going wrong in November 2013. At the time Didi wrote, "Where before it was Didi and Magda it is now just Didi - yes I'm sorry to say that the two of us have split up. Magda has moved out of my flat and now is staying with friends on the other side of town. It was all done in a very civilised and semi-amicable way but I don't think what we once had can ever be resurrected. It's the old story being repeated for the nth time, where n is an exceptionally large number, where two people wanted different things from a relationship.

Magda was always more sensible and more laid back than me but, so it now seems, nothing could have been further from her mind than a civil partnership. When she realised that was the way my mind was starting to work she wanted out! As far as I know there wasn't any third party involved in the break up, certainly not one involving me that's for sure! We were together two years."

Ella and I hoped that things would sort themselves out but as the weeks went past we started to realise that it wasn't just one of those minor rows, soon forgotten.
At the start of December Didi wrote, "I really don't know how I would have got though the last few weeks without the support of my closest friends. I'm still struggling to come to terms with what has happened. I 100% didn't see it coming and I'm cross that I so misjudged the situation. Not for the first time my big mouth has got me into trouble.

In my job you are paid and expected to have a happy smiling face all the time. And that isn't easy when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and not coming out of your flat ever again. So many things in the flat remind me of Magda. Even some of the food in the cupboard are things that she particularly liked and which I will never eat. The problem is that throwing it out is like accepting that the relationship is over and that hurts like crazy!

When you have been a pair for 2 years most of the people you know only think of you in that way. So invitations from my more fringe friends have tended to dry up when they realised that I was single again. They don't seem to want an odd or spare girl at some of their events.

I haven't been out nearly as much as I used to and there is nothing more boring than sitting in your staff flat on your own for your entire day off. I haven't given much thought to Christmas. Most of what I had planned was based on the staff rota at the hotel and when Magda would be free. Now the second of those two doesn't matter any more. One thing that hasn't changed is that I will be going to see some of you lot down in South Wales at the "gathering". Be prepared for me to be in a funny mood!

I don't know how Magda is. It isn't that I don't care because I care so much that she is happy. I just haven't spoken to her or seen her for 2 weeks. That feels like a life-time. I would have her back tomorrow if that is what she wanted. She knows that but she wants time and space to think through where she goes next. I wouldn't be too shocked if she went back to Norway as I imagine she needs some TLC as much as I do."

Christmas came and the two of them were both so sad. They stayed in regular touch with us and Didi's Christmas letter updated all her friends on how things were.
"I had so much hoped that when I posted before Christmas I was going to be able to say that I was back with Magda and that everything in my life was wonderful. Well I'm not and so it isn't.

I saw Magda briefly when I was in town. She looked so sad I just wanted to rush over and give her a big hug but as I was on the Park-and-Ride bus and she was walking into the town bookshop I couldn't. I did get off the bus at the first rather than the second stop and hurried back to see if I could find her but I couldn't. It was all very upsetting.

The Christmas rota at the hotel is a shambles. When people have a party around Christmas or New Year they don't give a thought to the poor suckers who have be on duty at the venue. Customers have paid their money and they expect decent service. This means plenty of staff around but also means that the staff at the hotel don't get much of the holiday time off.

Somehow I have managed to get the 24th, 25th and 26th off work but the price I have had to pay is working the next 8 days in a row (27th Dec to 3rd January). I am going to Eve and Ella's "Open House" on Christmas Day, staying there until late afternoon and then driving down to near Penarth (west of Cardiff) to attend the South Wales bash on Boxing Day. I will need to set off from there early on the 27th to get back to the hotel to start my shift in the afternoon. So no drinking for me on either day.

The weather forecast is dire for the next couple of days but I reckon I will travel almost regardless. Hopefully I will see quite a few of the readers of this blog at one or other of the events!"

Over Christmas it seemed that the worst was over. It was all quite dramatic and romantic with Magda arriving unannounced at the South Wales bash to talk to Didi. There were lots of tears and laughter and what we hoped was a happy ending. 
But it wasn't to be. Within a few weeks Magda had flown back to Norway. The story that was put out for public consumption was that it was for a holiday with her parents but now we know that she didn't expect to be coming back to England.
Magda and Didi exchanged regular "just good friends" emails for the next few months but in early July 2014 even that stopped. So that is where we are today - one good friend probably gone from our lives for good and another friend left emotionally battered.
I have a lovely picture of Didi, Magda and our two babies sitting together in our lounge and I hope that perhaps one day fate will allow us all to meet up again. 

Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care.

Honey - you need to think about this!

"Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care"
Too often since we left the group you have tested our loyalty. We have defended you publically and privately against people who think you are an "egotistical nob head".
But now it seems that they were right after all?
"The forum is mine, mine, mine and if I want to destroy it I can, so there!"
Your forum friends have stopped accepting your explanations at face value. You have never acknowledged your own responsibility for the decline of the group and maybe it's time to leave the conspiracy theories behind and to stop being paranoid. There will always be people around who disagree with you, criticise you or disrespect you. Don't waste a lot of time and energy proving them right, prove them wrong instead. 
Making up lame excuses is as harmful and stressful as lying. Stop creating problems or exaggerating them to show yourself in a better light. Your defensive attitude makes your forum friends and potential supporters uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that many of them stopped posting and left the group.
Learn to say you're sorry without launching into a long-winded explanation that spreads the blame all over the place. Stop hiding behind fictitious reasons for the lack of posters. Trolls were never the issue, it was always down to the moderators doing too little to see the forum through the quiet spells that all groups have.
If you had invested your energy into finding solutions rather than creating excuses the forum would still be around. I think we all know that!
Eve July 13th 2014
Rest in Peace "Adoption and Fostering in the UK"

Sunday, 18 May 2014

May 2014 - an update

I have been a teacher for a few weeks now and although it is very different world from running an analytical laboratory I seem to be coping. In theory I am supposed to be shadowing the current post holder who will be retiring at the end of the summer term but in practice for about half the time I am the only teacher in the classroom.

As with many working mothers it is the childcare situation that causes more day to day stress than the world of work. Ella works three days a week so for the two days she isn't at the Law Centre she looks after Nicola and Alice. It is the other two days that are more of a problem. It is hard to predict exactly when either of us will finish work for the day so it follows that it is hard to have a fixed time to pick up the girls. But a fixed time is what the nursery wants so it can plan its staffing levels.

Our friend "Old Timer" - he is 60 - has got engaged! Full details were in his latest blog entry and the edited highlights appeared on the forum where we first met him.

Rosemary and I got engaged last night and this group was the reason I did. People I met here made me brave enough to do what I wanted to do. They helped me know it was stupid going through life with people either ignoring you or taking advantage of you.

We are going to live over in west wales at her B&B which we will run together. I will sell my house in England and become a Taff instead. It will be a small wedding because foster children don't have big family events.

Before I proposed I did wonder what my dear Jane would think of what was happening. But as I said to my friends here when you get married you only stay married "until death you do part" so Jane probably doesn't mind me starting again.

It is just before 4AM but I am too excited to sleep. I thought I was too old for excitement!

Didi and 38DD have made a brilliant start with the new "by invitation only" blog. The "hits per week" are around the 200 to 300 mark and the amount of news submitted by our friends is way up on what it used to be. The previous open access blog was something of a mistake and I accept responsibility for the cock-up. It seemed a good idea at the time!

People who were not in a children's home or in foster care generally have little or no interest in people who were forced down this route. Even the specialist groups that exist to support foster carers have nothing on offer for former foster children. It all seems very strange to me!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sorry folks but this is our final blog entry - at least for a while!

All our good resolutions about being in the blogging business for the long haul have counted for nothing in the face of "real life"!

Ella started a new job just before Christmas 2013 and I will be starting a new career as a teacher immediately after Easter in 2014. If you add to the mixture Ella' s toddler Nicola (aged 1) and my toddler Alice (also aged 1) plus our long-suffering husbands and pets you can see that something just had to go.

Luckily our close friends Didi and 38DD are keen to take over the leadership roles occupied by Ella and I since October 2009. We have known the two of them for years and they have both been active participants in many of the social events described in such loving detail within the newsletter and, more recently, this blog! They have very clear views on the "way forward" and as the new bosses they will have our absolute support in making some changes.

The open access blog (this blog) will shut down and a new "by invitation only" blog will replace it. Didi, 38DD and all (yes all!) the guest bloggers want to go down this new route and so that is what is going to happen. All the people who already qualify as subscribers to the new blog will be sent full joining details within the next few days. Sadly, at least as far as I'm concerned, this means we will be saying goodbye to a few current readers. The largest group we will be losing will be those who are not known to a qualifying member in good standing but who have also been receiving the newsletter for a minimum of 12 months without ever communicating with the editors. I think just six of you fall into this category. I suspect some of you signed up on a whim and either just skim-read the newsletter or delete it unread.

The "scatter gun" approach to marketing the blog will also cease. This was always going to be a risky strategy and it hasn't worked as well as we had hoped. Promotion of the blog will now be by word of mouth only. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of currently active members we have recruited via on-line groups and it is fair to say that we were not made to feel welcome in some of the places we visited in our hunt for members.

Making the joint decision to step down wasn't easy. But we would rather leave before things started to go wrong - which certainly would have happened if we had spread ourselves any thinner. We will continue to participate in every other aspect of the group just as we have always done in the past so don't panic!

With love to you all.

Eve and Ella (January 2014)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The January 2014 newsletter

It is so hard to know where to start when so many things have gone well!

I’ve got a new job for starters. After Easter I’m going to be teaching A level Chemistry and GCSE Triple Science at a private school about 20 minutes away from home. So I’m not at the FE college after all. My visit to the college didn’t always go smoothly. The strangest part was that at no point in the 2 hours I was there was I asked to prove that I had any aptitude for teaching or even any interest in being a lecturer. They wanted to see my degree certificate and they wanted me to agree to doing teacher training once I had started work but they didn't seem to care at all how I would cope on day 1 having not taught before. It all felt that I was just going to be a cog in some enormous machine and that was rather unpleasant. The interview panel managed to sound desperate that I should take the job but of course all that did was make me wonder what they hadn't managed to appoint somebody via two previous adverts. The interview itself went well - right up to the point when they asked if I had any questions. The numbers of hours I was to be teaching didn't make sense. The total weekly hours and the hours to be spent teaching chemistry didn't match, not even close and they would not tell me what I would be doing the rest of the time. It was bonkers, all that did was make the Head of Department look incompetent and/or sinister, so I withdrew my application straight away. I might be stupid but I'm not that stupid!!

I was walking back towards reception when one of the panel - the member of the College Corporation so basically like a school governor - ran (literally) after me and invited me to attend an interview to teach chemistry at the school where he was Chair of Governors. On Monday, 9th December I attended - they liked me and I liked them and I was offered the job. It will be for an Easter 2014 start date with the summer term shadowing the existing post-holder who retires in July 2014.  Slightly more money but far more holidays and so less childcare to pay for so in real terms a pay rise.

Ella’s new job is going fine. Three days a week at the law practice pays 80% of what she got full time working for BBL so allowing for less childcare and the reduced commuting cost she is on about the same money. She enjoys looking after Nicola and Alice on her own: at least at the moment!

Saving the best for last. Magda and Didi are back together as of December 26th! It was all quite dramatic and romantic with Magda arriving unannounced at the South Wales bash to talk to Didi. There were lots of tears and laughter and a happy ending. I like happy endings!

Our Christmas “open house” went well mainly due to the hard work done by a whole host of people plus the generosity of others. In joint top place must be Chris and Mark who spent ages acting as an unpaid taxi service for those of you without transport. As happened last year hiring a minibus was the right decision and thank you to Colin, our neighbour, who negotiated a special price for us. Chris and Mark added Ludlow to the pick-up points and dropped Kidderminster - which seemed to match what people had said before the event. Then the two from Ludlow got a lift with the Church Stretton group and Ludlow was dropped as well.

All the usual suspects were there. It was especially nice to see Zulu, HelenaP and SimpleNotSimon who had a longish drive to be with us. Just as nice were the phone calls and text messages from our friends scattered all over the place. Two provisional attenders dropped out on the 23rd. Alice N had to work an extra shift at the Childrens’ Home where many of us have lived at different times and GraceT had “projectile vomiting” so stayed away.

I had hoped to have the reports on the Blackpool and Barry events here so I could send them out with this newsletter. But no luck – hint, hint! I will send them out when they arrive.

Love to you all.
Eve and Ella XXX