A Painful End to a Traumatic Year

I joined the social network for A Chronic Voice earlier this year because I needed to find people who understand what life is like with chronic pain. Today I have written a post using the December link-up prompts, to show my experience of living with a chronic pain disorder. Click here to find other blog posts from fellow chronic pain sufferers, or #spoonies as we call ourselves online.

December Link Up Chronic Voice


This month I have travelled home to Stoke-on-Trent for very painful reasons. At the beginning of December, I drove to the city hospital to visit my Grandad, who was admitted just days before my uncle passed away in a hospice nearby. That journey was emotional. Just last week I drove home to attend my uncle’s funeral. I did not want to drive myself, but needs must, and I was alone. My eyes were surprisingly pain free that morning, only dry as usual, until I started crying. It was the light that blinded me that day. In the morning, the winter sun hurt. In the afternoon, at dusk, I drove home with a dirty windscreen (my washers had blown a fuse), blinded by the LED lights of oncoming vehicles, and barely able to see the road in front of me. It was a very difficult journey.

Funeral Flowers SpookyMrsGreen


In the midst of family grief, I made a more exciting journey to collect our new family dog at the beginning of December. Marley is a 2-year-old bundle of chaos. He is a Staffy-Pomeranian crossbreed, and he is just the little mischievous character that we have missed around the house these past three months or so. We will never forget our beloved Baxter, who died in August, but now we will take time over Christmas to bond with Marley, our new boy. He is already becoming my little shadow, and we have been making memories together as we get to know each other.


We will enjoy the warmth of our multi-fuel stove in the living room this Christmas. I made the executive decision in summer that we should do something with the gaping hole in our fireplace where the old back boiler used to be. I am very pleased with my choice, and so is my husband, despite his initial reluctance. The stove has warmed our family during recent frosty weather, and we will enjoy snuggling on the sofa together as we watch Christmas TV shows and eat junk food.

Bonding Chronic Voice December


This is another Christmas where I find myself coping with grief, and our trauma is not yet over. My Grandad is very frail and while he is at home with my Nan (also frail), he is receiving daily care from a team of district nurses, local doctors and professional care workers to try and ease the pain of growing old. He knows he doesn’t have long left in this world, and so do we, his family. We do not know how this will affect our Nan. All we know is that we are grieving for our lost uncle, brother and son, and we wait to see what happens with our elderly family members. We grieve together, as a family. We are strong.


And so, we approach the end of the year. 2019 has been a year for big changes in my family, and of loss. In Spring my youngest daughter grieved for the loss of a school friend who died of complications from a rare chromosome disorder. The little girl was only 4 years old, in the Reception class at school, and she will always be remembered by her siblings and her friends. Then my husband lost his job, although the redundancy had been a long time coming. At around the same time, his beloved car finally gave up and went to the scrap yard. My husband moved almost effortlessly into a much better job that came with a company car, but that brought with it a return to his old ways of anxiety and OCD. Our family dog died in August, and now my uncle in December. I hope that 2020 brings change for the better, and a fresh, happy start for our family. Merry Christmas, fellow Spoonies.


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Winter Sale at English Heritage Shop

Shop our Winter Sale at English Heritage Shop! We have a range of souvenirs, collectibles, ornaments and more! Be quick, as the sale is only on whilst stocks last, so don’t miss out.

Contributions from our sale of gifts also help us to continue our work of safeguarding England’s historic heritage. By purchasing from our shop you’re helping us secure the future of our sites for many generations to come.

Winter Sale Category Image

English Heritage Brave Knight Operation Game

The Brave Knight has fallen off his horse and hurt his toe! Whilst his loyal steed waits patiently, your goal is to collect all of the Funatomy pieces and help the knight get back on his feet! It’s a silly skill game and remember – don’t set off the buzzer. Our Brave Knight Operation game is great fun for all ages.

Was £15.00 Now £12.50Click here.


Pavilion Hoop Earrings Blue

These Pavilion hoop earrings are inspired by classical sculpture and geometric shapes. They feature a 2.5cm gold plated sterling silver hoop with a hand painted wooden stepped pendant in a beautiful dark blue colour. These very simple yet fun earrings can be worn from day to night and make a great gift for the fashion and jewellery lover in your life.

Was £35.00 Now £20.00 Click here.


English Heritage Top Trumps Match

Challenge your opponent and be the first to match five of your favourite historical characters with this English Heritage edition of Top Trumps Match. Use the crazy cubes to create a line of five matching characters and be the first to win 5 points.

Was £18.00 Now £12.00 Click here.


Stonehenge Fabric Christmas Bauble – Red & Gold

Add some pagan sparkle to your Christmas with one of these sumptuous braided Christmas decorations. Made exclusively for English Heritage to commemorate Stonehenge, the Christmas bauble is decorated on both sides with beaded appliquéd motifs of the ancient monument’s magnificent stone formations.

Was £15.00 Now £10.00Click here.



Medieval Plastic Party Cups

Enjoy some traditional mead in these Medieval Plastic Party Cups. The plastic cups are designed to match our Medieval Partyware. They come in packs of 25, making it easy to cater for a large medieval banquet.

Was £7.00 Now £3.50Click here.


Brother Ted Bear

Dressed in the traditional brown hooded robes tied at the waist with white rope, Brother Ted is adorned with a traditional, medieval cross.

Was £30.00 Now £18.00Click here.



Stonehenge Woolly Jumpers Sheep Tea Pot

Brew your favourite tea in this charming earthenware tea pot. Hand-made by Moorland Pottery in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, the teapot features a charming scraffito design of the colourful Woolly Jumpers sheep on a visit to the iconic Stonehenge. Just the right size for 3 generous cups of tea, it is a fantastic addition to any tea table.

Was £42.00 Now £30.00Click here.


Unicorn Scarf Knitting Kit

Teach your little one how to knit with this unicorn scarf knitting kit. Including wool, instructions, bamboo needles and a plastic needle for making up, the kit includes everything they need to create a scarf with a bright and bold unicorn design. This kit is suitable for children aged 8+ and creates a scarf that is approx. 1m long.

Was £17.00 Now £10.00Click here.


Poppy Washbag

Keep your toiletries with you at home or take them on your travels with this poppy print wash bag. It has a wipe clean lining to prevent damage from spillages and a zip closure so your products are easily accessible. This lovely poppy print is designed exclusively for English Heritage.

Was £15.00 Now £10.50Click here.



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A Not so Blessed Yule

It is the season of Yule, a time of year when I am usually happy and excited for Christmas with my children. Unfortunately this Yule I am feeling emotional, angry and frustrated. This week we buried my uncle, who died at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer. I am blessed to be in a large and loving family, and it was great to spend time with my aunts, my uncle and my cousins again. We celebrated the life of our uncle, brother and son, and we were thankful to be together. We are left to worry about the ill health of our grandparents, who outlived their son and are struggling every day. I know it is nature and they cannot live forever, but the little girl in me cannot face the changes that are to come. I am nostalgic for the good old days, and those childhood family Christmases full of chaos and joy.

A Not so Blessed Yule

Which brings me closer to home. Yule is a festival of change. We are celebrating the end of dark days and welcoming back the light as winter begins the descent. I have learned some big lessons about people and human nature during the past few weeks, and they leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Not everyone has the same attitude towards family that I do, and some that are closer to me have put a wedge between us that I feel will not be easily removed. I feel that I need to move away from something that I have been clinging desperately to. I have to let go for my own sanity. But I don’t know how. For now all I can do is rest during the school Christmas holidays, and be cheerful for my daughters. They deserve a happy Christmas, and I will give it to them. Yule Blessings, my friends. May we all find our way through the dark days and welcome back the light.

Witchy Wednesday SpookyMrsGreen

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Solid Wood Flooring makes a Pet Friendly Home

You might remember that I am currently in the process of modernising our home. Our last big job was the installation of a multi-fuel stove and solid oak beam mantel shelf in the living room. We now have half-stripped walls, since I started my redecorating full of vigour, and quickly ran out of steam (literally, I broke the steamer 3 times!). One bugbear for me right now is the grotty old carpet in our living room. It is dated and worn thin, decorated in a lovely brown and orange floral pattern that I believe is what you might call an acquired taste. I hated it when we moved in about eighteen months ago, and now it is sort of growing on me, but what I really want is to reveal the solid wood flooring that lies beneath this late twentieth century monstrosity. I have discovered that we have original parquet flooring underneath the old carpet, and I want it on display, but my husband is refusing. He says it will make the room cold. We have a brand-new log-burning stove and brand-new central heating system, these rooms are not going to be cold!

Solid Wood Flooring makes a Pet Friendly Home

My concern is that the parquet flooring appears to be cracked in places. I cannot fully investigate until we remove the carpet, which I plan to do early next year, but the floor makes odd sounds when you step in certain areas. I wonder if the parquet tiles have simply come loose and can be re-glued, or if we will have to replace sections of the floor. I would love to have wood flooring rather than carpet because I like the effect. It makes the room look cosy, you can put rugs down and change them when you want to, and it is easy to clean when the dog runs in from the garden with muddy paws. Ah yes, the dog! Because our carpet is such a dark, murky colour, we cannot see when he leaves toys lying around, especially his rawhide bone. We regularly trip over the bone, step on soggy remnants, and let’s not mention the occasional toilet accident. He is still settling in, after all. Wood flooring is so much easier to keep clean when you have a pet. You can sweep over it to collect pet hair, you can easily mop it and leave it smelling fresh, and you won’t have to untangle clumps of hair and bits of chew toys from the carpet fibres. Yes, I would far rather have my sold wood flooring on display and remove my grotty, old carpet. Let’s see how we get on in the New Year, shall we? How about you? Do you have plans for home improvements in 2020, or do you already have solid wood flooring and want to tell me how great it is? Let’s compare notes.

Mummy Mondays SpookyMrsGreen

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Keep Calm and Wrap Christmas Gifts

I am starting to panic now. My children finish school in just three days, and I haven’t even written all my Christmas cards, or wrapped all my gifts. Usually I like to be organised and have everything finished before they break up for the Christmas holiday, but time has run away with me, and I’ve been busy with other demands. Christmas is such an emotional drain on mothers! My husband is happily spending 12+ hours per day at work, expecting Christmas to happen as if by magic. Meanwhile I am frantically ordering gifts, trying to be at home for parcel deliveries, trying to settle the new dog in, trying to be present for our daughters’ various festive events, and trying to do all those little things that make Christmas special. And I have a family funeral to attend next week, so you can understand why I am feeling a little overwhelmed. December has been a very strange month so far, and try as I might, I cannot muster the Christmas spirit. But I will, because my children need me to.

Keep Calm and Wrap Christmas Gifts

I am relieved to have the convenience of online shopping for my family’s gifts. I shopped locally for my parents, my in-laws and my sister. My brother requested a shirt from a company called Father Sons that I had never heard of before. Their website looks pretty good, actually, and the order process was efficient. I might go back to them for birthday presents next year. I combined my daughters’ Christmas shopping with a mixture of online and local second-hand shops. My family has agreed that we don’t need extravagant gifts for Christmas, and I have kept within a tight budget. Despite this, I have amassed quite a collection of presents. Now I just need to find time to wrap all these gifts! As for the Christmas cards, I have started writing them, and I will distribute them during the next week or so. When you look at the bigger picture, you see that Christmas really isn’t so stressful as we like to believe. Ultimately, all we need is to spend quality time with family and friends that we are unable to see quite so often due to work and life commitments. Of course, if you find it stressful to be around certain family members or friends, then you should take time for yourself. Christmas should be a time to rest, relax, and refresh before the onslaught of a new year and new life adventures. Merry Christmas!


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Sarah’s Search for Santa; A New Story with Music for Yule

The enduring popularity of Christmas rests on the deepest magical roots of Yule.  Sarah’s Search for Santa is a fairy tale illustrated with dreamlike music, which explores these magical roots, tracing them all the way back to the Ice Age.  Using spare language, old European Christmas melodies and mesmerizing instrumental music, Sarah’s Search for Santa follows the adventure of a young girl, whose parents recently told her that Santa wasn’t real. Sarah finds a new ornament on her Christmas tree, left for her by a mysterious stranger who visits her home on Christmas Eve. As she follows the stranger outside, she finds herself in an unfamiliar forest where she meets a reindeer who takes her on a magical journey through space and time to find Santa Claus.

Sarah's Search for Santa CD

Sarah’s Search for Santa was created by radio host Amy Gustin and musician John Hardin, who collaborate on The Living Earth Connection, which airs on KMUD in California.  Wanting to explore their European roots, they visited Ice Age art caves in France, hunter-gatherer rock art in Sweden and Norway, and visited north of the arctic circle to learn about Sami culture. This enchanting tale grew out of those experiences and gives magical practitioners a new story to enjoy at Yule, one that appeals to both adults and children.

Sarah’s Search for Santa is available to purchase as a download or CD at:

Sarah’s Search for Santa, by Amy Gustin and John Hardin


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Terrys Fabrics Christmas Store

Christmas Store Is Open!

Terrys Crafts

Accessorize with tableware & cushions from £4.99 and go festive from £8.99 with throws & bedding. Turn your home into a festive wonderland, choose your unique soft furnishings, and add a touch of glamour with some sparkle and bling. Click here to view the Christmas store.

Terrys Bedding

Hurry up with your orders, 17th December is the last day for Christmas delivery!

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#ChristmasGiftGuide English Heritage Christmas Shop

Christmas is approaching fast, so make sure you’re prepared with gifts this year. At English Heritage Shop we’ve handpicked a selection of historically inspired gifts, which will make for a gift to remember. We have options for women, men and kids, so no matter who you’re shopping for you’re bound to find something.

You can also get 10% off all orders over £35 when you use code ’10AFF35′ at checkout. Code expires 5th January 2020. Excludes Barbour range, sale, Outdoor Play & Outdoor Fun lines and Gift of Membership.

Christmas Gifts Category Image 2019 new

The English Heritage Guide to London’s Blue Plaques

The official, illustrated English Heritage guide, with over 950 of London’s most interesting inhabitants and their former homes brought to life.

Our Price £17.99 – Click here.


Santa’s Express Train Set

Bring a touch of Christmas cheer into your home with this Santa’s Express Train Set. Including a wagon full of presents, a closed van full of secret gifts and an oval shaped track, this set is perfect to set up around the base of your Christmas tree. It is powered by a mains plug and has a RM motor so the train can be set to go on its course day after day. This set makes a great Christmas gift for any train lover.

Our Price £55.00 – Click here.


Pillow Fight – Medieval King’s Sword

Become a fearless medieval warrior and have the ultimate pillow fight with this Medieval Kings Sword. This historically accurate sword is a super soft pillow, making it perfect for indoor and outdoor play – with no actual casualties!

Our Price £12.00 – Click here.


English Heritage – Heritage Mead

Celebrate England’s rich history with this award winning 1-star Great Taste 2014 traditional honey-flavoured mead produced exclusively for English Heritage.

Our Price £10.50 – Click here.


Cottontail Wooden Dolls House

Your little ones will love using their imagination to create stories and act out scenarios with this cottontail wooden play cottage. The unique dolls house is home to white bunnies that sit on the design outside of the cottage.

Our Price £95.00 – Click here.


Drinking Horn with Stand

Enjoy your favourite beverage in this drinking horn. The extravagant drinking vessel comes with its own stand, perfect for display. It is crafted from cow horn using traditional methods of manufacture that have remained largely unchanged for more than 250 years.

Our Price £36.00 – Click here.


Oxhorn Moustache Shaped Beard Brush

This moustache shaped brush is perfect for someone who is passionate about facial hair. The brush is made from natural wild boar bristles and has an oxhorn and beech wood handle. Crafted from ethically sourced and renewable resources, it is a welcome addition into any daily grooming routine.

Our Price £35.00 – Click here.


Stonehenge Sitting Bear Ornament

Take home a lasting memory of your visit to Stonehenge with this sitting bear ornament. The intricately crafted teddy bear sits on a block that is engraved with the word ‘Stonehenge’ to create a very cute souvenir.

Our Price £5.00 – Click here.


Large Handmade Chessboard with Case

Challenge your opponent to a luxurious game of chess with this handmade chess board. It is hand crafted from walnut veneer and synthetic mother of pearl, to create a true collector’s piece that will also look great on display in the home.

Our Price £565.00 – Click here.


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TwoLoveBirds and the Festival of Yule Coloring Book

TwoLoveBirds and the Festival of Yule Coloring book is a charming coloring book that features 25 unique pictures that will enchant both adult and child alike.

Two Love Birds Coloring Book

But what is the TwoLoveBirds project? The TwoLoveBirds is a pagan-run project that aims to create pagan-themed material for parents to use as educational tools. It features the adventures of two little birds, Tcheep and Pit, as they explore their very pagan world together.

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Buy it from Amazon here.

Buy it from Smashwords here.

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Follow the author, Michael Daoust. Click the links below to see more awesome artwork, and musings from the mind of the author!

Follow on Instagram.

Follow on Twitter.

Find Michael on Wattpad here.

Unhinged and Unenlightened – Author blog.

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Please Give me a Dog! #AdoptDontShop

It has been just over three months since our dog died. We had him for eleven years, and he was found on the streets in North Wales, lost, lonely and nervous. It took some time for us to realise how badly he had been treated in his early years. We discovered that he was terrified of loud noises such as smoke alarms and oven timers. He would descend into a full-blown panic attack, and we would have to try and calm him down and reassure him. He was frightened of water, to the point where we ran his first bath and he hid in a corner of the room, trembling and hyperventilating. We eventually coaxed him into the bath and gradually reduced his fear of water. By the time he died he had visited lots of beaches and swam in the sea, and he was a regular visitor to the local river at home.

Please Give me a Dog! #AdoptDontShop

I decided it was time to find another dog for our family. We miss the crazy activity, the noise, the exuberance and the cuddles. Our house is too quiet. So we visited the city dogs’ home where Baxter came from. They had very few dogs in the kennels, and those we did enquire about were deemed not suitable for families with young children. It became a common phrase when we visited other animal charities and another city dogs’ home. Even though we explained that our children have grown up with nervous dogs, not just Baxter but other dogs in our family, the authorities would not take a chance or allow us to prove our worth for rehoming an abandoned dog. I understand their approach, and I want to keep my children safe, but I also want the chance to rehabilitate another dog that needs a loving family. And we were not given that chance. I had no idea that it would become such a hard task.


We were advised to find a puppy or a dog under twelve months old. Well, these dogs are snapped up very quickly by families just like us, and we do not have the time to trek out for twenty or thirty miles to visit other dogs’ homes. All we can do is weekend visits when we are available and keep hoping to find the right dog. But I hate waiting. I need a dog now! We have this wonderful, loving, spacious home, with everything that a dog needs, and we are not allowed to bring one home. Hopefully that will change very soon, as we are currently applying for a dog, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. We must pass a home check, and that might involve additional costs for dog-proofing the garden. There are lots of hoops to jump through before we are even considered for rehoming an abandoned dog. And yet, I could visit a breeder tomorrow and buy a puppy. It is easy for national charities to say #AdoptDontShop and #ADogisforLife. I totally agree. Now let me rehome the dog!


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