About Me

I thought it best to introduce myself to you properly, after all, I'm doing all of this to ask for your help with raising enough funds for a road trip.

I was born in 1970 (so long ago) to a hairdresser Mother and a steam train fireman Father, both totally amazing people. They worked their arses off to cover the bills and put food on the table; sadly, neither was in the highest paid jobs so we lived day to day. Unlike the kids whose parents earned decent wages, who could afford holidays abroad, I grew up to appreciate everything that I have. I also learned that if I want something I have to be prepared to work for it. They instilled excellent morals in me and my brother when he arrived 8 years after I did. My Mum changed to part-time factory work (it was slightly better paid than hairdressing) then became a support care worker for the NHS working with mental health patients. My Dad went onto being a bus driver once the steam trains were phased out eventually ending up as a coach driver (this meant I have been blessed to travel the length and breadth of this amazing country I get to call home). We didn't have fancy holidays, we didn't have designer clothes but what we had we were grateful for and several times a year they would take some time off work to spend with us - those odd days meant more to me than they could ever know. It's a good job they were both sitting down when I told them I wanted to be a florist; I'd never stepped foot in a flower shop, hated gardening and am not an 'arty' person in any way.

In 1997 a smelly arsed cat chose me as her human (sadly passing away 20 years later in 2017 from the dreaded cancer). In 2007 she was joined by a fat bummed staffie (who devastatingly died from cancer on 22nd December 2017 - I lost both my furbabies in the same year) and in 2016 a noisy, screechy, pain-in-the-arse budgie joined the fold (who is still fighting fit and causing our ears to bleed on a daily basis.

In 1993, 2 days before my 23rd birthday, lung cancer took my Dad's life - I don't care what anyone says, it never gets any easier. I miss him as much today (2017) as I missed him back then. It get's no easier, you just have to learn to live with it. In 1994 my fiance and I split; I learned he had got a schoolgirl pregnant (he was 27). What I didn't learn until long after I had kicked him out, was that he'd also taken out loans in my name I knew nothing about. Back in those days the banks didn't have the security setups they have in place these days. I was unable to prove the signature on the forms wasn't mine so he got to walk away leaving me with a debt that was 8 times my annual wage. I could have taken him to court but that would have cost money I already didn't have, and there was no guarantee I would win because I couldn't prove I'd not signed it. We were just days away from signing the mortgage on our own home. Thankfully my Mum let me stay with her. Less than a year later I met someone else, a better someone. I moved in with him in April 1996; on Xmas eve that same year he told me he was seeing someone else. Because I'd moved in with him, I'd had to leave and therefore found myself homeless for Xmas and penniless because he also screwed me over (you'd have thought I'd have learned the first time). Again (thankfully) my Mum took me back in; at the time of writing this (July 2017) I am still living with her (I'm still paying the debts from the first arsehole - it really was a lot of money, and there is no way I can afford to leave. In 1995 Louis had entered my life, by 1997 he was a semi-permanent fixture and much more than friend he started out as. The last conversation we had we talked about when we get married. On my 32nd birthday I sat in a church, at his funeral. I've not allowed a man in my life since. In 2007 a good friend of mine started up a florist shop, put my name on it and told me "to go for it" (I'll get into all that a bit further down the page). In 2012 my best friend (the person who had been there for me through all of it, who'd given me a bed when I needed one, plied me with vodka on the bad days, shared her children with me (I was unable to have any) who was my right arm, left arm, and everything in between, lost her battle with cervical cancer.

Am I less fortunate? Not really, not by comparison. I have a roof over my head - albeit provided by my elderly mother for I cannot afford a place of my own. I've been on our local council housing list for 27 years but because I was unable to have children and my Mum is willing to put me up, I get overlooked every time a property comes up. Don't think I'm having a pop at single mothers by mentioning not being able to have children because I'm not, it's just that when I went to see the housing people they told me if I was pregnant or went and got myself so, they would be able to help me not just with housing but money to furnish somewhere too. If only I'd not been barren!!  I went to our council at the time I found myself homeless, had been on their housing list for 7 years at that point. They wouldn't help me because they told me I made myself homeless; they said I should have made my ex let me stay there as I'd been paying half the bills. What the ?? It was his place, he wanted me out, yet I made myself homeless? You've got to love an official. If they can't tick the right boxes they're not interested. Even though I had all that going on I still thought of myself as a lucky person - I had a sofa and blanket each night. There were (still are) people on the streets who have just the clothes on their back and a cold alley or doorway as somewhere to sleep. I was truly blessed never to have had to live like that.

When it came to learning I wasn't academic in any way (I wish I had been as I might have been able to get better paying jobs than retail pays). Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do for my job, it's just never been a well paid career (always below average before the minimum wage was brought in) and when my friend offered to set me with up my own business I foolishly thought that would mean unlimited amounts of earnings and time off when I wanted (how wrong I was on that; I am currently earning less than I did as a 16 year old school leaver, but I love coming to work each day. Sometimes it's not always about the money - except for when I want to go on holiday - something I do very rarely, in fact in 10 years I've had just 7 weeks off. Nobody can say I'm not prepared to work for my living).

I could read, write and spell long before I started school at the age of 4 (Mum would spend ages with me in the evenings or on her days off teaching me) but I was useless at (still am) retaining information as such. I loved some of my lessons at school, I was interested in them, enjoyed going to them, yet can't tell you a single thing I really learned in them. I learned more in my life by walking the dog with my Mum who would point out things in nature to me, or going on a coach trip with my Dad who would explain what certain things are that we would pass. That is why going to America has always been such a big thing to me. I was (am) fascinated by American history, and I have a real affinity to Native Americans. I've read every book I could find on it (and them). I've tried to learn as much as I can about the place and people, but no matter how much I enjoy the learning, I struggle to understand it properly and the information doesn't get stored. I know being out there it will be like a living history lesson.

I was lucky enough to visit the USA in the 90's - I went just a few months before the ex dumped me and made me homeless. I'd inherited some money from a maternal great-aunt and while I could have used to it clear some of the debt the previous ex left me with (I've still not cleared it now and we split 23 years ago - it was that big, it was that life changing - it has affected everything I've done since; up until we split I had never had a single debt to my name, after I had so many I didn't know what to do with myself).  I think the ex at the time of the trip though thought I was going to use the money on him and our life together. I did consider it, but to be honest it wasn't enough to make any kind of dent in the debts I had and when I'd first moved in with him he'd been out of work, made no attempt to get a job and so for a year I paid for everything (even after he got a job I still seemed to pay for more, even though he earned far more than I did). Because of all of that, I decided to put it towards a trip Stateside. I figured I was never going to get the opportunity again. I took my Mum with me (it was thanks to her Aunt I had the money in the first place) and we spent 3 weeks on an organised coach tour travelling round 5 western states. I learned more in those 3 weeks about the history of that part of the world than I'd learned in all the books I'd read on it. That's what proved to me how I need to be somewhere to understand it. The same happened a few years ago when I headed to France with a friend. We decided we wanted to visit the battlefields associated with the 1st and 2nd world wars. I'd studied those at school, yet it wasn't until I was out there on those battlefields, reading the names on headstones in the cemeteries, standing on the beaches in Normandy that I really understood what went on during those times. It brought it all to life for me, made it real.

I've only ever had 4 things I really wanted to do in my life. Those were, get married, have kids, visit all 50 US states and see the Norwegian Fjords.  I can't have kids, so that took the list down to 3. Sadly I've never met anyone yet who is wiling to go the distance and marry me and have been very much single for a really long time (apparently it's because I'm too fussy if you listen to those who love me, but I know the truth; it's because nobody is crazy enough to want to take me on with so much baggage and debts), so that takes the list down to 2. The Fjords I could by-pass if I really have to so that leaves just the 1 thing. To visit all the states. Having done a few (the trip in 1996, a long weekend in New York (2000) thanks to a friend who worked for the airline and her sister who worked for a hotel chain that whole weekend cost less than a meal out these days - it really was very very cheap or I'd never have been able to go). I did visit some of the places I am asking for help funding a couple of years ago. That time I went on my own, hopped on a coach with 39 random strangers (some of which are now friends) and literally did a whistle stop tour (I put by every £5 note I got to pay for that trip; it took me almost 15 years to have the money for it). While it stopped at most of the places I want to see, experience, it also stopped at some I didn't want to see which sadly we seemed to spend more time in than the places I wanted to (an hour in a gas station, 45 minutes in a walmart, and hour and a half in a car park that was surrounded by fast food outlets). I'd have happily grabbed a sandwich in the gas station while filling up the tank (10 minutes max) so I could spend more time exploring. We had 35 minutes to spend at Wall in SD which included our lunch stop. No sooner had we got off the coach then we were getting back on it. We were allowed 45 minutes in Deadwood - that's nowhere near enough time. We stopped at the visitors centre in the Badlands for 30 minutes because we had to get to Mouth Rushmore before it closed at 5 - we got to spend just 25 minutes there in the end. So, yes, I got to see these places, got to snap off a few photos, but I never got to learn anything about them, experience them. There were so many spots in the Badlands we could have stopped at, spent hours at. Deadwood is a great little town, with museums that still has a wild west feel to it. The place is steeped in history. I got to see Kevin Costner's casino and bar before being ushered back on the coach. Cody, oh how I would loved to explore that town, yet we got to the hotel at 8pm, left again at 5 the next morning. My whole life I've wanted to see these places and I guess I should be grateful that I did actually get to see them, but it wasn't enough. Maybe I'm being greedy but 90 minutes at the Little Bighorn battlefield was nowhere near enough. I need all day there, possibly 2. That's why I want to go back; that's why I'm asking for help. It took me 15 years to get out there last time, the death of an aunt the time before. I'm not getting any younger and having lost so any important people at young ages in my life, I know just how short it is and how quickly it can be gone (in the blink of an eye). I may never get to visit all 50 states (if I can do the trip I want to and possibly visit Washington and Gettysburg I'd be happy to compromise and not visit the other states if I really to) but I desperately want to get out there and see those national parks of Montana, Wyoming and Rapid City. When my niece said she wanted to road trip the very same places I knew it was "meant to be" and I had to do all I could to make it happen - for us both :) 

I'd give someone my last 20p if I felt they needed it more than I did; I could have paid for myself to be in the States by now if I'd not paid for other people who never bother to pay me back - I've fallen for the "can you book it as I don't get paid until the end of the month, I'll give it back to you then" only they never do, or the "oh shit, now you've booked it I've had a bill come up that I didn't know about. Are you able to cancel or can I pay you when we get back?". Cancelling loses the money already paid, continuing with the trip means going but still never getting paid. It's my own fault; I believe everyone lives by the same principles and rules I do - if someone helps you out, you repay them. Except this time, for I won't know who's helping me out. I can promise you this though. I will help fund others in the future if I have some spare cash; I guess that's like a repayment? It's going back to a different person.

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