*Guest post* Homecoming from the other side.

After a lot of nagging and emailing and threatening to withhold parcels, Popeye has written a blog post!

It’s a subject that I have always been very curious (nosey) about. What is homecoming like for the sailor actually on the gert big honking warship? 

Here at Oyl HQ, that is exactly the kind of burning question we like to answer, so without any further ado, here’s Popeye, giving it a sailors POV:

*pause for drumroll*


I have been asked by my lovely wife olive to write a guest blog post for all of you lovely readers describing homecoming from the other side of the dockside! 

Now my literary prowess is somewhat lacking when it comes to this sort of thing, however I shall endeavour to paint you a “word picture”, here we go…

So, the night before homecoming, affectionately known as channel night, in a bygone era, was an evening (and most part of the morning) celebrating and getting so drunk you can barely stand up.

Nowadays it’s a far more conservative affair, possibly with a few drinks and then early to bed to make the next day come quicker, a bit like Christmas when you were 5 years old. 

Don’t get me wrong there are still some sailors that drink until they shit themselves, but they are few and far between. 

The trouble with this is (and I have witnessed it first hand) the next day you are so hungover you are unable to actually enjoy your homecoming. You are in such a state that you would rather go back to bed than see your family. Or you would rather speak to God on the porcelain telephone than hug your mum.


When I was asked to write this, I got to thinking, these peoples families have travelled for god knows how long to come and see their sailor, who they have missed and worried about and sent parcels and letters to. They stand there all excited, and what they are greeted with is an absolute hungover mess. 

This is a bit of an anticlimax I expect.

That’s why I fall into the 5 year old at Christmas category!

So the morning of the homecoming is here. Normally, you are woken from your lovely sleep by a whistle over the ships broadcast. 

However on homecoming day they wake you up with Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ or Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound’ then it’s a fairly straightforward routine. Get up, shower, brush teeth put on number 1’s.

Realise that number 1’s do not fit, panic, realise you are trying to put on someone else’s, find your own, put them on and marvel at how much weight you have lost.

 Have breakfast, unless you are morning watch chef, in which case you will be cooking breakfast.

After all this it sort of sinks in that you will be seeing your loved ones again after however many moths and you start to get a bit excited.

Everyone is buzzing, people you have never spoken to in 6 to 9 months suddenly become ‘alright’ and you can talk to them, you have common ground. All anyone wants to do is just get home! 

Then there is a sort of time in purgatory. You aren’t going to work that morning but they have yet to muster you for procedure Alpha (that’s where we all stand on the upper deck) so you bimble about drinking tea and trying not to spill it down yourself. 

You pointlessly check your e mails. You think about phoning your family, and then think better of it because it might dilute the joy of homecoming! 

Then they finally muster you for procedure Alpha. Now you would have thought getting a bunch of people to stand along the side of a ship is a pretty easy thing to organise. You would be wrong. You have to be placed in order of height and then marched down the side of the ship and told where to stand. I know it doesn’t sound like much but this can take anywhere up to an hour to sort out! So you stand in your spot looking out at Portsmouth/ Plymouth or wherever you happen to be coming in to and it is cold. It is so fucking cold! Number 1’s are not renowned for their thermal retention properties. All you are thinking is hurry the fuck up because I am fucking freezing! 

So you start to enter your port of choice, lots of people waving from the beach and stuff, obviously you can’t wave back because it’s not very military! Oh and as soon as you start to enter your port of choice it for some reason becomes really windy, so with wind chill it’s about -50 degrees Celsius.

 You start to shiver and your lips turn blue. Your feet hurt because not only are they cold but you have squeezed them into a pair of pussers’ shoes that you have only worn twice and they are extremely uncomfortable!

 Then you see a huge throng of people with banners all shouting and cheering.

Then you allow yourself to be very excited, now in the normal running of things you are not allowed to move or wave back until the first rope has gone from the ship to the dockside. 

So you frantically scan the crowd looking for your family, it’s sort of a silent competition, spot them before they spot you. We do have an advantage in this game by being all dressed the same. Olive described it as the hardest game of ‘Where’s Wally’ ever. 

You finally spot them and for me, the first thing I think is “Thank god she’s turned up and not run away with some bloke she met in her yoga class called Fabian who pronounces Barcelona with a ‘th'”she is waving at me. I can’t wave back. She stops waving and gives me the look of “why aren’t you waving back?” (#sadface) then another look of “oh god have I just been waving at a complete stranger?!?!” You try to telepathically communicate that “you are waving at the right person but I cant wave back, look no one else is waving back!” 

Then the first rope goes across and you are allowed to wave but by that time you’re arms and legs do not want to move. Your muscles are all stiff and cold but you make the effort and give them a wave. 

I have always found this fairly awkward. You are waving and stuff but you can’t get off the ship until the gangway is down. So what is the waving etiquette? When do you stop?

Obviously I can’t stand there waving like an idiot for half an hour. 

So you stop waving and try to mouth things to your loved ones but because they are to far away to hear you. They have no idea what you are saying. You try to find someone to talk to so as not to look stupid but at the same time keep one eye on the family in case they move! It’s all very complicated! Then the gangway goes down and wait for the captain’s family to come on and then you have to wait for the bloke who won the ships raffle to be first off the gangway. 

You are finally allowed down the gangway. You move through the crowd like a ninja, not brushing against anyone and twisting this way and that, then you see them and suddenly everything is alright again. 

You forget your hypothermia and broken feet and have the best hug ever, then a kiss, and then you become a bit nervous and wonder what to say. 

I always say the same thing ‘alright?’ with that word I reassure them that I am the same person I was when I left. Then the answer I get is ‘Yeah, you?’ and with that I know they are the same person they were when I left and everything is going to be alright. 

Now imagine trying to

do all that with a raging hangover…
“Muchos  Love”

Popeye 


         

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I’m a Finalist! 1 of 2

So I’m now a FINALIST for a MAD blog award. 

(I’m supposed to do clever hashtaggy  things now btw so here goes- #MADblogawards -done). 

I literally don’t believe it!  The timeline from when I found out basically went like this:

0-1 mins:”omgomgomg no WAY!”

2-3mins: Silent screaming, heart thumping and jumping up and down doing  Rocky Balboa arms in my kitchen v quietly so as not to wake the terrible twosome. 

3-4 mins: checked I hadn’t made a mistake by looking at the nomination page a gazillion times.

5 mins- called Popeye. No signal. No answer. Straight to voicemail. Standard, he’s below deck. Be cool Olive, be cool. 

5-30 mins calling my mum (“oh darling I am so proud of you! This is amazing! Is it in London? (Yes) Out of how many blogs?(8 freakin thousand mum) oh wow! Wait hang on *tells everyone on the ward where she works*”.

At some point: – called Popeye. No signal. No answer. Straight to voicemail. Standard, he’s below deck. Be cool Olive, be cool. Seriously BE COOL.

And called my sister “AHHH THAT IS SO COOL! Whaaat are you going to wear???? Will the press be there? You are basically famous now sis- hey wait I get to be your plus one right? RIGHT???”

Tried (again) and called Popeye. No signal. Again. No answer. Again. Straight to voicemail. Again. Standard, he’s below deck. Again. Just breathe, Olive it’s not his fault.

And my little bro: “Wow that’s really cool. I don’t really read your blogs but the ones I’ve seen are quite funny. I’m off out to a Uni Party right now so can’t really talk but yeah totally whatsapp me the link to the nominations page “.

Ok ok, let’s just try again-  called Popeye. No fucking signal. No bloody answer. Straight to twatting voicemail. Standard, he’s below the stupid deck on the bloody arsehole ship. 


So I may have left a slightly shitty, slightly cryptic voicemail for Popeye and then poured myself another glass of Pinot Grigot Blush from Lidl, and posted a HUGE EXCITED post on my Facebook Page to all of my lovely, gorgeous and fantastic followers. 

Then I basically kept pressing refresh on the finalist nominations page in a state of slightly tipsy disbelief, until I realised it was way past bedtime.

Rock and Roll! 

I realised the irony of not being able to contact Popeye as I walked up the stairs with Sproglet on my hip (we have no bedtime routine for her btw- mum fail).

The whole reason I started this blog was because of stupid navy crap like not being able to get in touch with the love of your life when you need to. 

And that’s (maybe) one of the reasons it got nominated in the first place. 

So really I owe Popeye, my dear un-contactable sailor, and by extension, the annoying, heart breaking, heart racing, plan ruining, day making Royal Navy, a bit of a THANK YOU really. 

For messing with my head (and my life) so much I wrote this blog in the first place. 

Tots100
P.s you can totally vote for me as Best Lifestyle Blog by clicking on this link right here 
Muchos love, Olive X 

Jill speak

Hey there lovelies, got an idea for you.

How’d you like the put some zing back in your relationship? Become that mysterious lady (or lad) of intrigue and whimsy once more? You would? Well then I have a little game for you! 

 Jill Speak!

Does your Popeye speak to work colleagues in another language? Does he respond to a name that is not his own? Do you sometimes have no idea what on earth he’s on about?

If the answer to any of these is “yes” then Jill Speak is just the game for you! And the great part is that the whole family can get involved too!

   
To play Jill Speak casually start using some of your Popeyes top-secret-navy-life-sailor-code-words into everyday conversation! Then sit back and enjoy the shock, confusion and then (hopefully) amusement on his face. 

I play it with my Popeye all the time and to be honest it annoys him. But who cares when playing it (and the look on his face!) is so much fun. 

P.s another great feature of Jill Speak is that you can modify it for whatever service your partner is in! For example, for my RM readers- don’t walk the dog- say you’re taking the dog on a dog yomp! 

Here are some examples/ideas: 

When asking him if he’s home next weekend- “have you got weekenders?” 

On bin day- “can you take out the gash bag please darling?”

At bedtime- “right I’m off to my pit, nighty night!”

When discussing the shopping list or at mealtimes- “what scran should I get in my love?”

Instead of reading a bedtime story, get your kids to ask their sailor for a “bedtime dit please”. 

When out and about and in need of caffeine, tell your service person to “get the wets in”.

When your sprog does something particularly well, like gets 10/10 on their spellings, make sure to tell them it was “BZ” within earshot of your sailor. 

And finally if he is in need of a compliment, or you’re hoping to get your groove on simply sidle up to him, stare into his eyes lovingly and tell him “hey their gorgeous, looking turbo divs tonight” and watch him glow with amor (or be completely gobsmacked).

  
Another twist on Jill Speak if you truly want to create that Navy Ship feel at home (Kirsty Allsop eat you heart out) is to start calling all family members and friends by a different name!

Base their new Navy Nickname on something they did years ago that no one really remembers, a physical characteristic or (very very) loosely connected to their existing name. So if you have a Great Aunty Audrey she could now and forever be referred to as “Hepburn”, “Hep” or “Burnsy”. 

Remember the more embarrassing the story that inspired the name or the more random and difficult to figure out, the better. For real authenticity dont explain the new name to anyone. Ever.

  
If your Popeye is deployed then you can still play Jill Speak! You can easily sneak phrases into emails or when chatting on the phone. The stunned silence and (usually) string of baffled expletives that follow are well worth the phone card minutes.  It also pretty much guarantees a speedy email reply (unless comms are down of course) along the lines of “how do you know that word? I don’t like you using Jackspeak. You’ve freaked me out Olive!” Good times. 

However you decide to play Jill Speak have fun. Get creative and get the whole family onboard! See how many you can think of and shoehorn into everyday chit chats with your Popeye. 

Do let me know how you get on. 

Lots of love,

Olive X 

Coming clean: my secret NFF shame. 

Today I went down to my local Royal British Legion “Pop In” centre to meet some of the lovely people working with the Naval Families Federation (NFF).

Before I get on with all that- just as a side note- WHEN did the Royal British Legion get all hip and trendy and- dare I say it- cool? The centre in Southampton was all swanky and smart and brightly lit. And modern. And the staff there were young, friendly and normal.

I’m not gonna lie- I went there thinking it would be a run down social club, with years of fag smoke ingrained in the wood chipped walls. Possibly with a well trod dark plum carpet and dimly lit booths hiding old veterans eyeing me in my pink Vans and baby sling with suspicion. 

I was so so wrong. I have been on a reccy and I can report back- the Royal British Legion is NOT just for (grumpy) WWII veterans anymore! It’s for those youthful hipsters who have served or are serving! Spread the word! Their bars have cheap drinks! Oh yes, and they do a bit for charity too, by the by. 

  
Anyway. The actual point is that I have found out what the NFF do and who they are.

Now, admitting this is quite embarrassing considering I have been a navy wife for a good few years now, and that I’ve read their magazine Homeport for a good few years longer. Aaaaand also because I’m now writing in said NFF magazine. But I am putting my ignorance/stupidity out there for the greater good, the bigger picture, the grand scheme; I.e you lot. 

Yes I had no idea what they were about. I thought they were a bit possibly welfare-y, knew they had good competitions in their magazine, they explained to me a lot about what the Royal Navy actually do (apparently there’s more to it than breaking down again and again and getting drunk-who knew!) and that they talk about  the mysterious “Armed Forces Covenant” a lot. 

  
(You know when you start a new job and your new boss tells you a co workers name- you instantly forget that name. You see them every day at lunch or whatever and have a quick chat. Time goes by and soon it’s been waaaay too long and it would be waaay to embarrassing to ask their name so you just pray to god that someone else at work will ask them something using their name before you get found out? Yeah well basically that’s how it was between me and the NFF. Awkward.)
So what do the NFF do?

Basically we (as in us super duper navy families- or any forces family for that matter) cannot and should not be discriminated against because our loved one is in the Armed Forces. This can be obvious or accidental discrimination.

Like how if you move to a new area because of a draft you shouldn’t have to go to the bottom of a waiting list for a treatment on the NHS, or how mortgages shouldn’t screw us over if we have to rent out our homes because “ooh goody we’re off to live in gib for X years- what fun” or to make sure we’ve all heard of and applied for Pupil Premiums so our kids get what they’re entitled to from their school. It’s anything means you are at an unfair disadvantage because of your Popeyes job. 

The NFF have the welly, clout, guts, moxy and balls to take issues higher and higher up with companys or the actual proper government until such problems are rectified. All because of the Armed Forces Covenant says that we shouldn’t have to encounter stupid unfair crap from the rest of the world when there is enough official unfair crap flung our way courtesy of the Royal Navy. Or Army. Or RAF. 

(Note: The Armed Forces Covenant does not word it like this. This is the gist of it because I can’t remember exactly how Nicola from the NFF explained it.) 

The NFF is just for RN and RM families though. They are totally independent of the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. So they are really really on our side. 

The Army and the RAF have their own equivalent crack teams on the case. Like CSI Las Vegas, CSI NY and CSI Miami. 

I’ve totally gone off on a tangent. 

So yes the NFF are there to sort unfair stuff out, to fight on our behalf if needed and generally be a voice to us families to stop us getting screwed over in a civvy world. 

  
So now you know. Get in touch with them if you’ve got an issue that needs resolving. It will help other families who have come a cropper in the same situation. 

Hope this was interesting for you- I can now officially join in serious grown up conversations about government policies, society, the Covenenant and the NFF and not just nod/shake my head along with everyone else! Huzzah! No more blagging it for Olive! 

http://nff.org.uk

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/

Weird pick ups. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who- after completing a basic level  Navy Wife MOT has driven like a bat out of hell to some isolated lay by, or petrol station, or middle-of-nowhere train station, to await the arrival of the fabled sailor. 

  
Sitting there with the hot air blowers on, checking your phone and trying to look really casual, yet stunning, making sure there’s a cool song on the CD player, and trying (and failing) to not gaze into the headlights of every approaching vehicle like some lip glossed, perfumed rabbit.  

Oh yes, and if it’s early evening, in the summer, on a Friday night, in Somerset, in a lay by at the side of the A303, waving along creepy men in white vans who obviously think you are a dogger. Seriously, this actually happened to me.

Eventually, after a few texts of “where are you?!” With no reply, you give up and start playing candy crush with your mouth hanging open and/or start pulling stupid faces in the mirror whilst inspecting your eyebrows and makeup. You wonder if you’ve got time to do a fart and air the car out before he turns up. If I’m in a risk taking mood, I let rip. If not, it’s lockdown for the foreseeable future. 

Of course this is the time that the passenger door opens, and he appears before me (imagine a choir singing “hallelujah!”). 

I, of course, jump out of my skin, swear, drop my phone down the side of the car seat, blush and (if applicable) release the trapped guff. Great first impression Olive. 

He doesn’t mind of course. And I use my blush as a reason to wind down the windows, or jump out to help him get his stuff in the boot. Further creating air circulation. 

This account is not including the drop off at Official Scary Navy Gates. Where they have giant guns and think it’s absolutely hilarious to wave them around next to my open window and say things like “don’t worry love you wouldn’t get far”. And then stare at you whilst you park up. 

The fear I have felt when pulling into the wrong gate at the Yeovilton Base cannot be underestimated. 

There are three gates at Yeovilton, all along the same road. And all open and shut at seemingly random different times. I’m sure these times make perfect sense in navy land but not to me. I used to shit myself when picking Popeye up from there in our early years because the people on the gate were just plain mean and used to laugh at me freaking out, sweating, stalling the car and stammering when they waved their guns around and told me off for coming to the wrong gate. Again.

(Also why is there a gate that leads no where in both HMS Collingwood and one of the entrances in Portsmouth?! Why do they exist???)

The weirdest place I’ve waited to pick up Popeye is probably at the side of a lake in a country park in Devon (probably prime dogging territory). In the pitch black in the middle of nowhere. I could literally hear crickets. 

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve had to go meet your sailor? 

And how much did it feel like you were doing a drug drop/ were a gangster? (I bet quite a lot). 

Also if anyone else gets the heebie jeebies from picking up by Official Scary Navy Bases please tell me. I feel like a right wimp. 

Muchos love

Olive

Xxxxxxx

 


Boring Snoring Gloring Mummy versus “The Funninator”.

I work hard at home to keep everything ticking over. I have systems, I have routine, I even have flexibility built into the routine. Efficient, no?

 Me and Sweetpea, we have fun. We have sand play, water play, music time, play groups, breast feeding group, messy play, you name it we go to it. Such activities are are on a loose weekly basis, special fun days are planned in advance and carefully packed for the night before so there’s no forgotten sun cream, no lack of spare clothes, no forgotten swimming costume disasters. 

In short I think I provide a stable, varied and fun week for her.

Until Daddy comes home on a Friday. Of course. How can I ever compete with The Funninator?

He usually comes home right in the middle of tea time, meaning that from the second he bounds into the room, arms open, voice booming, Sweetpea will be so star struck that she will eat no more that evening. 

She will stay up late because I want them to have some time together. 

They will get so wired off of playing together that she may as well have had a whole tube of blue smarties. Same goes for Popeye. By time I’ve put her to bed it’s Stupid O’clock and I’m doing my very best impression of a walker from The Walking Dead. With one side of my bra unclipped. Nice.

So that’s the evening routine screwed. The next day Popeye will suggest us all going on a day trip. An expensive, exciting, far away day trip, like to the zoo or aquarium or something. Which is great.

  I will say yes because I want them to have special magical memories of lovely days out together. Just give me 30mins to get everything ready whilst you two play and snuggle. 

I’m fairly sure Popeye is thinking all this time “why this isn’t stressful at all! I’m having a lovely time playing with Sweetpea. What’s the problem, parenting is such fun!” 

(Sweetpea is probably thinking something similar.)

Meanwhile I’m rubbing porridge off of the wall, loading the dishwasher and the washing machine knowing we will be out all day and shit needs to get done.  

Mid domestic whirlwind, I see them cuddling from the kitchen and I feel a pang of jealousy. I want to be the Funninator sometimes. 

But he doesn’t get much time with her and they need this bonding time. 

Plus I’m the only one who knows when bin day is and where the nappy bags are kept. 

So we go for our super mega ultra fun day out. We have super mega ultra fun. Naturally this ends in a HUGE tantrum from Sweetpea and a looooong nap in car on the way back home. Meaning another late night, and she still wakes up at 5am.

Argh! (*breathe Olive breathe- keeping reminding yourself “quality family time, quality family time- oohhhhmmmm” etc).

By the time Popeye leaves on Sunday, me and Sweetpea have no idea which way is up or what’s going on. Night time routine has gone out of the window, daytime routine has gone out of the window, so much crap has gone out of the window I may just get a door installed there instead.

We’ve had a great weekend. I’ve loved  having The Funninator home to help with parenting. I’ve loved seeing him and Sweetpea together. I’ve loved feeling like one half of a whole again.

We’ve all had quality family time. So much quality I could do with a bit of quantity to be honest. 

Instead I feel like every weekend is a holiday, which is great, but makes my head spin! It takes me and Sweetpea about a week to recover, by which time it’s the weekend again! It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

On Sunday’s after weekenders, most of our food has gone off because we’ve had so much dominoes and wagamama, we usually have some random and expensive fudge or cheese from a farm shop and that’s it. We are therefore also skint. We don’t have any clean clothes because I never did take that first lot out of the washing machine on  Saturday  morning, and the house looks like someone has confused it with a magic 8 ball and picked it up and shaken it repeatedly. 

“Thanks for a lovely weekend, I’m going to miss my girls” says Popeye, with a big hug and kiss for us both. He hates leaving us so I put on my best “big girl smile” and wave him off and say something reassuring and positive. Off he sweeps to save the world one cleaning routine at a time.

We sit on the floor in the chaos and look at each other. Then Boring Snoring Gloring Mummy starts picking up the pieces again as Sweetpea waves to the shut front door “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” she gurgles.

“Daddy’s gone to sea, Daddy be back soon.” I reply. And stick the washing on a repeat cycle.

  

PARPs in Pompey, sweet goodbyes. 

I’ve just said goodbye to Popeye. Again. Not for a big deployment thank god, but long enough when SweetPea has discovered mobility and seems to have a primary objective to try to trip me up by stealth crawling right  behind me in near silence. Like a small, squidgy, yoghurt covered ninja. . *mental note: ninja baby-possible Halloween costume idea*.

I dropped Popeye off outside M&S in gun wharf quays, the shopping centre in Portsmouth, because he forgot, as he always forgets, that you can’t turn right at the traffic lights to get to the dock gate. *sigh*. So at 6am this merry morn I was stressed, he was stressed. And. We said goodbye. Again.

In hindsight, driving home listening to Mumford and sons, was, probably a bit of an error. But I managed to hold it together for the best part of the first song, until I got to my Pre Approved Rant Point (PARP).

My PARP is silly really, it’s a point fairly near the dockyard but just far enough away that I can’t turn around and hit Popeye over the head and drag him, feet first, into the trunk-cave woman style.

My PARP is the Eberhardt Signs sign shop along the A3. When I see their neon pink sign, I’m allowed to cry. Or scream. Or vom. Whatever seems best. No matter what time of day or night, what weather or what season, there is the neon sign of my undoing. 

Right next to where the A3 turns into the M27 and splits east and west. So, nice  and safe then.

Every time I drop him off I think “get to the neon sign Olive, get to the sign. Then you can rant. Not before. Step on it girl!”

 

That’s the one. The PARP that let’s me know it’s time to lose it, just for a minute, before I have to concentrate on not crashing the tonne of steel I’m in charge of.  

Btw I didn’t, like, decide  on a PARP. I didn’t even want one. But sometimes, I guess the PARP life chooses you. 

Deep man.  

Anyone else have a PARP? Or just me that likes to let rip at certain landmarks around the south coast?

Muchos love

Olive x

Google obsession

Google Obsession. TELL ME WE ALL HAVE IT!

Tell me I’m not the only one who, the second the ship disappears over the horizon, whips out their phone and starts googling “HMS Pinafore” or what ever in the hopes of a news article or, the greatest internet search prize of all, a YouTube video of life onboard. 

If you find a video whilst they’re deployed you watch it repeatedly, pausing on pretty much every sailors face, incase it’s your Popeye. Which it usually isn’t. You almost convince yourself it’s him at 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Then again at 7 minutes 23 seconds. And kiss the screen. Or paw at it like a cat with a new toy. Or stare at it trying to memorise everything you’ve seen in that shot, so you can conjure it up again as and when necessary.  I have done this then realised said trophy video was shot before Popeye joined the ship. Awkward. 

I do this mostly when it’s late at night, I’ve snuggled into bed and, rather than relishing my recently acquired space, I spend a good five minutes rubbing my leg in small half circles on “his side” of the bed whilst willing my phone to bleep with an email. 

If you find a news article whilst they’re deployed you (obviously) repost it on your ships family and friends Facebook page, your Facebook page and tag your sailor in it so it’s on his Facebook page. So everyone knows how awesome your Popeye is, and to make goddamn sure no-one forgets him or where he is and what he is doing. Which, no matter what, is very action man-ey, selfless and uber kuul. Even if it’s just delivering sandbags to help with the flooding in Romsey. 

That done, you get comfy and read and re read anything and everything to do with the ship. I even have been known to read Argentinian news using an online translator thing when Popeye was in the Falklands. It was either that or learn Spanish. Which I seriously considered. The other option, which, to me seemed ludicrous, farcical even, was to not obsess about where the ship was. This was and will always be, such a non-option, I didn’t even consider it. 

The urge to google is at times so strong I will turn on in private browsing so any friends or family who happen to see my search history won’t think I’m a nutter. I’m (apparently) happy for them to assume I have no search history due to porn, but not it seems for them to know my dirty little google obsession. 

Why do I do this? Do other people do it? It almost becomes a ritual for me, especially during a long deployment. Check emails, check Facebook, check twitter, press refresh on hotmail, press refresh on the google window I’ve got open in safari, play candy crush, go to sleep, press refresh on hotmail, sigh, really go to sleep.



 

Ten better uses for your sailors long-cast.

1. Emergency loo roll.

2. Inventive “arty” wrapping paper.

3. (Summer only) When folded concertina style- a handy fan.

4. Cut into rectangles and put it into your purse or wallet so you look flush at a glance when rummaging for change. 

5. Screw it into a  ball and lob it at your sailors head.

6. Save the planet and get vintage-y by taking it with you when you go down the chippy.

7. Haven’t finished that essay/presentation/stock order? Flash it at your tutor/supervisor/mother in law and start sobbing uncontrollably about “the cruel cruel navy” -it’s an instant get out of trouble free card! 

8. Shopping list fodder.

9. Save them up and make a stunning feature wall.

10. Fun telescope for kids/ serious telescope for zombie survival scenario.

Muchos love

Olive

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Moving goalposts.

“You knew what you signed up for.” One of the many uber helpful, kind and not at all annoying comments I’ve had flung my way as a navy wife. Usually when I’m upset or (dare I say it) moaning about the trials and tribulations of navy-wifedom.

For years I’ve replied with “yes. I know, but it’s still hard” or, “yeah that’s true, fair point”. And as of today have not retaliated verbally or physically, well done me.

BUT a couple of nights ago, about three days before the end of Popeyes leave, I was brushing my teeth before bed (rock and roll) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Indignantly I spat out the Colgate, took a long hard look at myself and realised:

This so is not what I signed up for!!!

Dear readers, let me take you back in time, to when I was fresh faced graduate, without the odd grey hair, without a baby, with more money, and probably with more optimism. I was out in a bar. I met a young sailor. He came over and bought me a raspberry cosmopolitan. Yes readers, my Popeye.

We spent a good few months getting shiters and doing it having good clean fun, keeping it bright and breezy (deffo not me staring at my phone thinking “why doesn’t he call? He hates me. OMG HES SEEING SOMEONE ELSE. Why won’t it ring? Ahhhhh!” ) . Anyway after some super cute “dates” and, “I love you more” “no, I love you more” type convos, Popeye decides it’s time for The Navy Talk. You know the one, “I will have to go away a lot”, “my job will always have to come first”, “are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure you want this type of relationship? This type of life?” blah blah blah.

So, for once in my life I was sensible. I was practical. I put my emotions aside (“oh how I love him, I’d do anything for him, being a forces wife sounds oh-so-romantic” etc. Bleurgh) .

I asked him exactly what is the worst case scenario.

And he told me. He told me that worst case scenario he’d have a six month deployment every 2-3 years. Plus sea trials, plus duty weekends. He told me the truth. Or at least what was true at the time. Popeyes been in the navy since he was 16 and so was basing this worst case scenario on that.

I can handle that, thinks me. A deployment every couple of years? That’s totally manageable. That is what I signed up for.

So, obviously I went for it. And I’m so glad I did.

However.

About a year into our serious grown up relationship, I notice the goalposts have moved. There’s a six month deployment, plus sea trials, plus duty weekends, plus pissing about whilst stuff breaks over and over
Very important maintenance. “Ok” thinks me, it’s just a couple extra months. Next year is our deployment free year, so that’s ok.

Oh no. Oh no no no no. Like it could be that easy! That straightforward! Then follows a good three years each with it’s own glorious six month deployment! Now with added extra crap warship sea trials! And an extra large helping of fleet ready escort buggering off for Christmas fun!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

And now. NOW the goalposts have been moved so far they’d have to strap a football to a freakin rocket to score a goal. Just before he comes home from his seven month deployment, (which I was told was only for six months, after I had moved house and pushed another human out of my hoo hah without him there). Then I am told via bbc freakin news (!) that all deployments will now be for 9 bloody months!!!

Nine! I can make a person in nine months. That is a ridiculous amount of time and NOT what I signed up for!!!

The Royal Navy need to consider the impact this change will have on families and marriages. Not to mention morale and person-power within the fleet.

I’ve got a lot of support for Popeye and have sacrificed for him, for the Royal Navy. I’ve done it because I love him, not his job and I’ve done it with good grace (mostly). I’ve stayed quiet again and again and watched those goalposts recede into the distance with an increasing sense of foreboding. This, quite frankly, is taking the piss.

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