Sometimes coming from a large family can have its drawbacks. Having 5 brothers and sisters as well as 10 nephews and nieces means that it is very rare that we are all in the same place at the same time, especially when one of my brothers lives in Malaysia. The children are all getting older now (Miss Hap is the youngest at 11 years old), and have lives of their own, but although we have had some squabbles, and fallings out, we are generally there when it matters.

Today it was lovely to see my sister-in-law, who I have known since I was 11 years old. She is only a couple of years older than me but had a major health scare this year after being diagnosed with bowel cancer. Luckily for her, it was spotted reasonably early, and although she had to go through major surgery, she is now on the road to recovery. She is the type of person who loves to laugh, and is always a pleasure to be around. Even when I visited her in hospital after she had surgery, i was astounded to see her sitting up, bright and breezy chatting with a friend. When I went to say goodbye, I leaned over the bed to give her a kiss (not something I normally do, I am not much of a ‘kissy’ person) and being short, couldn’t reach over the bed rails. so put my hand on the bed to get some leverage only to find it was her tummy! Even though it must have hurt, she laughed at my stupidity,so as not to make me feel bad!

Her three children (well two of them are adults) were very concerned about her, and were brilliant at looking after her, visiting and going to the numerous appointments she had to attend, before and after surgery.They are a credit to her and my brother, and the way they brought them up.

My older sister has just had my daughter staying  for the weekend, taking her Christmas shopping, and spending time with her. She is very thoughtful in that way; whenever the circus or a fair comes by, she always takes her. The same goes for the Pantomime. I remember the one a couple of years ago I went to with them, it was hilarious. We shouted out more than the kids did!

My middle brother is like Peter Pan, in the fact that he looks so young for his age, He loves his smart suits and designer clothes, and is a bit of a fitness fanatic. I remember when I wanted to join the Army, I had to do a basic fitness test in order to get in, but as I hated running would need to get a fair bit of practice in if I had any hope of running a mile in the time specified. My brother not only came with me to the Army Careers Centre when I was first interested in joining  (but too young at 16) but when I did get past the interview and had to pass this fitness test, he came out jogging with me, giving me advice and tips so that I passed when I came to do it.

Two of my nieces (one from each sister) I am very close to, and to me, they are both like my own daughters. The elder one although married and in her 30’s now I still call by the nickname I gave her when she was little (sometimes even on Facebook)! I was 15 years old when she was born and having always loved children used to get up with her at night sometimes and give her bottle. I remember when she was a baby and had this HUGE pram. My mum and sister had gone to town with her but had to walk as the pram was too big to go on the bus. When I finished school it was near town so I would walk in to get my bus from there.. However, on occasion my Mum and sister, having trotted around for a while and had become tired, would get me to walk the pram home whilst they caught the bus!  In those days (early 80’s) I got rather a lot of dirty looks pushing a pram whilst in my school uniform!

My other niece who is now in her late 20’s was a little terror as a young child! She has long blonde hair and blue eyes and looks like a little angel, but can be a little bugger! Her eyes would flash and you knew she was going to do something naughty but not what it was! I remember taking her out when she was about two. She was on her reins but would keep spinning round on them trying to break loose! Anyway, this day we were in town, and she decided to try out a new expression she had learned at the top of her voice,

“F***ing Hell!”she yelled. People glared at us so she said it again. I couldn’t believe it, where the hell had she heard that and why wait till now to try it out? Anyway I told her off and said I would tell her Mum as I was mortified that people would think she was mine (bizarrely when she was very young she did look very much like me)!

Me and my younger sister used to fight like cat and dog when we were little! We could not go anywhere without having a scrap, and I always came off worse as I was so timid! However now we are pretty close. We phone each other most days for a rant, moan or just a chat, and it is really nice.. She only lives down the road as well so from time to time we go down there and have a riotous evening playing silly games and getting out the karaoke.

My other two brothers I don’t get to see much, but the one in Malaysia is pretty handy at DIY, and has helped me out many a time, when he has come over to the UK as he likes to keep himself busy! The other brother lives a couple of hundred miles away in the same town as where my Dad lived, but he comes to major family events, and he very often puts up family members when they want to go down that way as it has a beautiful beach there.

Lastly, there is my Mum. She can be a bit of a cantankerous old thing, and feels that at her age, she has every right to be (it can be a bit hurtful at times though)! However, she has helped every one of us kids out at some point and I think she does mean well, even if she doesn’t always show it!

That is the majority of my family; although we all have our different personalities and lifestyles, we do share a few things in common, a great sense of humour and a big appetite (Thanks to my Dad), There are times when they get on my nerves, as I am sure I do theirs, but I am lucky to have them all.