True to my promise of not writing timely blogs, there’s been a bit of a delay since my last post. In some ways this is a good thing.. I’ve been able to fill my time with some other things that, before now, I haven’t felt that I have wanted to do.
Last weekend was bittersweet.
Some weeks back I had agreed to help our dear friends The Sharps with a spot of charity baking… the day finally came around and was this past Saturday. Chad Sharp is Matt’s oldest friend.. they met at East Surrey College in 1985 on their Mechanical and Production Engineering Course. Chad is super tall and super lovely and married to the equally lovely Mel. Although originally Matt’s friends, since meeting them 10 years ago they have become very dear friends of mine too. Chad and Mel are go to people. They are the sort of people you go to if you have a practical problem or a worry. They are the sort of people you go to if you just want to have a good laugh. They are the sort of people you go to if you just want a cup of tea and a quick natter. No invitation needed, they are always happy to see you when you knock on the door. I went through a short phase a few years back of accidentally inviting us for dinner, by turning up with a dessert 🙂 Mel is a great cook, and one of the few people I know who can turn the ordinary contents of the fridge into a delicious meal on the fly.
Completing the Family Sharp are their great kids Amélie (12) and Jamie (11). Amélie was the reason for the baking session at the weekend. Amélie and a school friend have started a 2018 fundraising mission in memory of a much loved friend and to raise money for the Children’s Hospice who cared for him during his battle with childhood cancer last year. All ideas are their own and they are showing energy and commitment to their cause. I feel so proud of Amélie for her resilience and for taking something so devastating and turning into something so positive. So Saturday was Vintage Bake Sale Day. Held at the Sharp’s home in Burgess Hill, complete with bunting, vintage teasets, including that belonging to Mel’s late Nanna, and most importantly delicious cake and hungry generous visitors. Saturday morning was spent helping Amélie with a few bakes, then I sat drinking tea whilst her and another friend iced 48 cupcakes and made labels for the display. Around came 3pm, the house filled with friends and neighbours, the tea started flowing and the event was a great success, raising an incredible £225 plus extra online donations from folks who couldn’t make it.
Matt had come down and, happily, so had Soph & Rob. I don’t think I’ve introduced her yet but Soph is Matt’s amazing daughter and Rob, her chap. More on those two later. Chad has known Sophie all her life, and Mel much of it. Although not so much recently, in the past Matt and Sophie spent a lot of time with the Sharps. They both said how lovely it was to see her, and to see what a lovely young woman she had become. Guess it is always strange when your friend’s children grow up into adults, but it is really nice when those relationships grow along with them.
After the cake had been eaten (mostly), the tea drunk and the visitors departed, Mel, Chad, Matt and I hit the sofa. What followed was a great evening of prosecco, curry, limoncello, more cake and an impromptu overnight stay. Whilst lovely and perfect and much needed, it felt strange and a little unsettling. Why?? Why of course… because just “not going home” would have been impossible 6 weeks ago…
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but sitting in warm spot by the kitchen door, through the entire day was Otto. The darling family cat, and very senior boy. Although the Sharps adored Milly, and welcomed her often, after the addition of Otto’s younger siblings, kittens Rusty and Ora a couple of years ago, Milly sadly couldn’t visit the Bungamalow anymore. Before the kittens arrived, Milly always came with us to see the Sharps, and spent numerous evenings making herself very comfortable on the living room sofa.
Whenever she came to visit Otto very graciously gave up the run of his home and slept on Mel and Chad’s bed, with the bedroom door firmly shut. Although she obviously was aware that he was there, somehow she also just knew he was kindly staying out of her way, and rather than terrorise him from the hallway she let her normal guard down and relaxed.
There was one occasion when this canine/feline separation didn’t work out so well. Mel and Chad were hosting a get together when there was a friend over from Australia. There must’ve been a dozen of us sitting round in the living room chatting and laughing, including Milly. Otto must’ve wanted to say hi to the crowd and “escaped” from his bedroom den. Otto was a sturdy fella in his younger days, and very affectionately called Fat Cat by me. Totally unknowingly he strolled into the living room through the kitchen door. Goodness me I have never seen him move so fast, nor me for that matter. Otto clocked Milly, Milly clocked Otto, she went for him and he flew back out of the door and through the catflap. Thankfully, through sheer luck, I was sitting on the floor almost triangulating Milly and Otto, and I managed to see him at the same time she did. Instant adrenaline took over and with ninja reactions I launched myself towards what would have been the point of furry impact, and managed to secure Milly in some sort of body lock. It happened in the blink of an eye and before the rest of the room really knew what had happened. Milly calmed down instantly but it took a good 20minutes for my adrenaline to subside, and poor Otto exiled himself to the garden Wendy House for the rest of the night! Very dramatic.
Milly was looking over us on Saturday, from a spot on Mel’s living room shelf.
Yesterday I had a very sad message from Mel, to say that last night would be Otto’s very last. When we saw him at the weekend he was fairly subdued (although still hovering for milk whenever the fridge was opened) but he took a downhill turn and was in a lot of pain. After an amazing 21 years on this earth, this morning the Sharps said goodbye to their beloved Otto.
I have never been a cat person (too unpredictable!) but Otto was the most gentle soul, and wanted nothing more than a lap to sit on. Never once did I have an angry paw swipe, and he and I spent many an hour on the sofa watching trash TV whilst I was babysitting the, then little, Sharplets. I am so thankful that we all got to spend a little time with him at the weekend.
Otto, like Milly, was SO loved. He had the happiest and most contented life, and was absolutely adored by Chad, Mel, Amélie and Jamie. The gap he will leave in their life is a huge one and tonight my heart goes out to them all.
I promise the pain will become less intense guys. You will never ever forget, and that gap will never be filled, but you will learn to live with it and to cope.
Goodnight darling Otto xx