THE garden!

The old garden
The old garden

In March we started fundraising for our garden project to help make life a little easier for us and the children whilst George is undergoing treatment for leukaemia.  I blogged about it back then, about how our old garden was a bit unkempt and swampy, some of the fences were on their way out and the space wasn’t really being made the most of.

The response was amazing, our target was blown out of the water

Looking down onto the old garden
Looking down onto the old garden

enabling us to buy the very best materials and add finishing touches we’d never imagined! All this was possible because of the love and generosity of our/George’s followers and supporters, friends and family.  Whether you took part in an event, a challenge, shared our story, donated time, people power or money, the garden has had a complete overhaul and we love every bit of it.

 

I’ve included as many pictures as I’ve built up over the weeks and will outline what your money and efforts have contributed towards.

Decking and grass all on one level
Decking and grass all on one level

The garden has been raised to the same level as the step from our house so we no longer have an issue with flooding.  Given the recent huge downpours it’s been great to not have to avoid going outside.  George also doesn’t struggle with access either now 🙂

Decking – love it, looks great, easy to clean, no difficult steps for George to negotiate when his medication gives him sore joints.

Some fence panels replaced to match others in places where they were falling through or rotting.

View of the park through the new gate
View of the park through the new gate

Newly installed stable-door-gate allowing easy access to the park behind us.  We now have the ability to watch the older children and make sure they are safe whilst George is in the garden.  It also keeps the local doggies out when the kids remember to close it!! I found a chocolate lab in my kitchen and it’s shitzu mate running circles around the garden last week.

We now have garden furniture! it’s been nice to sit outside in the milder weather whilst the kids have played.  There’s loads of room for the whole gang, comfortable and modular, so we can change the layout as necessary.

Al fresco dining in Woolston!
Al fresco dining in Woolston!

We also have a decent dining set, with cushions that is adjustable to seat 10 people if need be.  Al fresco dining all the way!

Our artificial grass is lush!  No mud, no dirt, no weeds, no mowing! The kids roll around on it and picnic on it… best investment.

Our pots, plants and flowers have come on wonderfully.  The kids enjoyed getting involved planting (as did my friend Kath who seems to be claiming all the glory for their beauty and success) and I’ve found it really therapeutic looking after them… call me Charlie Dimmock.  In fact. Don’t. Damien’s surprised they are still alive of course!

A scrap on the grass
A scrap on the grass

We’ve had lighting installed allowing us to enjoy the garden right into the night if we’re ever hosting or the kids are having a late one.  It looks pretty impressive in the dark, my Nanna would have said “it looks like bloody Blackpool illuminations out here!?”  All LED though so there won’t be a power cut across Woolston every time we switch them on.

Lighting up the tree
Lighting up the tree

I chose a funky grey and yellow awning and love it!  Not only does it protect George from the sun while he’s particularly sensitive during chemotherapy treatment, but it’s also waterproof so we’ve been able to sit out in the rain too.  Very handy since it rains about 80% of the time.  It’s like an extension to the house while it’s mild enough to leave the patio doors open at the moment.

 

We bought a few extras which have helped complete our new living space – a basketball hoop, chalkboard, swing ball (a nostalgic addition!), birdy feeders and we had a tap fitted outside which has mainly been used for water fights!

George under the awning
George under the awning

We’ve had a day at home today while George didn’t have much energy.  It’s likely I would have made do with the old garden and encouraged George outside but wouldn’t have lasted long.  Instead, we  had a nosey out of the gate when the big tractor came to cut the grass, George has watered the plants with the hose while I enjoyed a cup of tea on the outside sofa, then we read stories out there too.  Oliver came home from school and played basketball, then there was a mass “Power Rangers” brawl out on the grass when Daddy got home from work.  We all had tea Al Fresco – sausage,

Noisy tractor viewing
Noisy tractor viewing

mash and veg, not quite Nigella yet…

 

All these positive, wonderful times are possible now, whenever we want.  We’re excited to enjoy the rest of summer with friends who visit and just be able to chill on the tough days.

When the grass was first laid
When the grass was first laid

From the bottom of my heart thank you for helping bring a smile to our whole family’s faces, this garden has literally changed our lives for the better through the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.

Lisa, Damien, Oliver, Harriet and George xxxxx

Swing ball with friends
Swing ball with friends

 

Friendship, fate and the three musketeers

So I thought i’d be updating with how we got on today.  I’d been psyching myself up, friends had given me a “survival kit” for the car should #pukegate happen again (thank you for that! you know who you are x) and I’d organised for my friend Nic to come with us to hospital for moral support.  But, me being a tool and all, I completely misread George’s treatment plan and Day 9 Chemotherapy is actually tomorrow.

The little gnome
The little gnome

Over the last few glorious days Georgie and I managed to start planting up some hanging baskets and his gorgeous “Little Plot” box.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t got a clue what i’m doing, I literally watched a YouTube video to find out what to do with a hanging basket!

I made some plant purchases at one of my favourite places in Warrington, The Walton Lea Project.  It’s based in the pretty walled gardens at Walton Lea and you can find some absolute treasures there.  I love the fact that all their upcycling, crafts and flowers have all been lovingly worked on by adults with learning difficulties, mental health issues, early Alzheimers and mobility issues.  The Walton Lea Project is a charity providing supported employment.  George’s “Little Plot” was one of the gorgeous upcycling projects made from an old drawer, lovingly painted and lined.  It came with a little spade and some wild flower seeds and we even bought some little strawberry plants from them there, that George enjoyed planting in the sun.

Great helper
Great helper

I managed to nip into Homebase to buy the actual hanging basket stuff and to look for some containers for the garden (big unveil of the garden in another week or so!) and gathered I’d just ask a member of staff what I could put where.  There was a lady stood next to me while I was admiring a Jasmine plant that smelt beautiful and she commented on how lovely it was… I said i’d worry it wouldn’t survive in my hands, I don’t even know what to put in a hanging basket!  I told her our garden is going to be a complete blank canvas as we’re having it made over, she mentioned a few names of flowers and carried on with her day.

Further round, as I stressed while trying to get my shopping trolley over a hosepipe that was trailing across the walkway, the lady approached me again to tell me about a plant that would be great in containers in our garden.  I told her about George and the children, and why making the garden safe, easy to maintain and pretty meant so much to us now.  She stopped in her tracks and told me that she completely understood what we were going through, with a little break in her voice, that she had a garden for her son too.

Forget me nots
Forget me nots

Sadly, her son’s garden was full of Forget me Nots and Bleeding Hearts for she had lost her little boy to cancer.

I had a huge lump in my throat and just wanted to hug her, she was looking emotional too… It must have been fate for us both to be stood at the Jasmine plant at the same time.  I told her all about the wonderful people who’d rallied round to help us and to raise money for us as a family.  She said it had restored her faith in humanity.

I don’t know who the lady was, or her little boy’s name but I walked out with the Jasmine plant, Forget me Nots and Bleeding Hearts in my trolley, for our special garden and all the angels that I’ll tell my children about.

I must also add that George has been pretty chipper this week so far and has even been to Playdays!  the thoughtful girls there had organised for George to have his little graduation photo done just in case he isn’t well enough to attend later in the month.  I’ve not seen his photo but the photographer, Michelle Geritas was a cracker by all accounts and managed to take a few snaps of George and his best friends Casey and Seth.  How beautiful are they!?

So we’re off to a wonderful start this week, ready for tomorrow; armed with the survival it, the promise of a beautiful garden and as always the support of our amazing friends.

Lis x

 

 

Just another day in the life…

Ceiling leak
Drip, drip, drip

Today we awoke to a flood in the kitchen, water dripping from the lights and an ant infestation…. but with life being the way it is at the moment, I’m not really arsed!  not that these things aren’t a pain or an inconvenience but what used to send me into a frenzy of dramatic Facebook statuses, now seems irrelevant and petty.

Instead I put a pan under the dripping water, turned the boiler off, text our builder, chucked down some ant poison then headed off to drop the kids at school and get George to his appointment at Alder Hey.

George and his Beads of Courage
George and his Beads of Courage

I feel liberated! Since George’s diagnosis, it’s like I’ve had a virtual smack in the face – I feel like I’ve found out how to appreciate life and not let the little things get me down.  To be fair, I’ve always been fairly mindful and not someone who’d post statuses moaning about minor ailments… and if this is an awakening for anyone out there, you thank me later 😉  I’m finding myself rolling my eyes at people’s melodramatic Facebook statuses even more so – don’t lie that you’ve never done it!

A few days ago George was able to toddle around at Lymm Dam and eat in a quiet restaurant with our family – something we used to take for granted.  Today he’s slept for the majority of the day, when he’s been awake he’s cried and he’s shivered.  It’s been a beautiful day outside and he’s missing it, he’s felt sad and tired.  Some days I’ve questioned whether we’re doing the right thing raising money for our garden but it’s on days like today it feels completely right.

George's Beads of Courage
George’s Beads of Courage so far

Yesterday I cringed through an interview with Wire FM about what our family is going through, but found that when it came to thanking everyone who has supported us I became choked up!  funny how you cope talking through the terrible stuff, but I haven’t pre-programmed myself to keep it together when it comes to people’s generosity.  It’s like when you’re keeping it together and then someone says the dreaded “are you alright?” and receive full on waterworks.  I haven’t listened to myself in the interview and don’t plan to either.  Though I’ve been told I sound like a proper Manc, so it’s can’t be that bad 😉

George asleep
Snoozing George today

Poorly as George has been and potentially will be in the future, I know there are children we’ve met whose battle is tougher today, I’ve seen them in Alder Hey and I’ve met their mummies and daddies.  I know there will be parents who might receive that devastating diagnosis we did 14 weeks ago, bad news about their child’s condition, or will be at their bedside watching their little ones in pain…

We have a little boy who’s doing well considering, a leak that’s getting fixed and a pile of dead ants to vacuum up…. things aren’t so bad.

Happy Facebook posting folks 😉

Fundraising for George’s Garden

Currently feeling very lucky with all our fantastic friends rallying together to help raise funds for making over our back garden.

With summer looming and not many options of places to go with a child with no immune system, we’d been asking for quotes to straighten our garden up.  We wanted to make better use of the space for George to get outside and open it up so that Oliver and Harriet can get onto the park behind within view of the garden.

We also needed to provide easily accessible space for George while his mobility is affected and install some kind of canopy to protect him from the sun (he will be much more sensitive to the sun during chemotherapy).

One of our lovely friends decided to set up a sponsored toddle waddle at Walton Gardens in Warrington for all the babies whose mummies attended my birth classes to raise money for the work on the garden.  This lovely lady has then inspired other friends to get involved with fundraising and donating time and labour to our new project.

Bridge abseil
Bridge abseil

So far we have George’s preschool organising a walk, some of my best friends (who are usually right wimps!) gorge walking and abseiling off a 90ft bridge! our Warrington friends tag-teaming to rip the old garden up and out and donating time and skills to build decking etc.. we’ve got a St George’s Day Toddle, a coffee morning at Warrington Collegiate and our very own children and their friends entering runs, races and more… I have a feeling this list is going to grow!

If you too want to get involved by running for George’s Garden or have your own fundraising idea, do let me know.  If you want to make a small donation directly you can do so via our GoFundMe page here.

Oliver and I will also be joining Team Georgie Roo entering GungHo Manchester – if you want to sponsor us, all donations are gratefully received via our GoFundMe page.

I just want to add that without all my friends behind me, keeping me positive even when things are tough, keeping me sane, I don’t know where i’d be – thank you each and every one of you who have taken the time to help us, contributed to this fund and encouraged me every step of the way.  I love you all very much x