*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 


         

Things I do when my husband isn’t here

I just got home without Popeye and strangely instead of crying or shouting or collapsing into the floor I stood in the middle of the room and let rip the biggest fart ever, right there in the living room. 

After the shock and knee jerk reaction blushing, all I thought was “fuck yeah Olive! Now I can do whatever the fuck I want to!”

It was liberating, it was exhilarating, it was a little bit scary.

And as I stood there post fart, hands on hips, chin up in what will now and forever be known as the F U Deployment Fart Pose, I got to thinking. 

What else can I now do that I can’t when Popeye is home?!?! 

This is what I have come up with so far whilst the girls are being raised on Peppa Pig and I curl up on the sofa trying not to cry:

  1. Spend ages looking for spots in the mirror.
  2. Watch such high brow TV as Buffy, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and GBBO.
  3. Let the dog sleep on the bed (shhhh).
  4. Put all of Popeyes clothes in a big pile in the bottom of the wardrobe so I can use his drawers for my stuff.
  5. Buy and eat food he doesn’t like all the time. YES!
  6. Fart as I go. 
  7. Actually talk to and meet up with friends instead of being a super flakey crap friend when he’s home.
  8. Go on social media all evening if I want to. Without feeling guilty im not spending magical romantic time with him. 
  9. Secretly throw out any of his honking Pussers socks that I come across. 
  10. Order whatever bloody dominoes I want (as a side note- there’s nothing wrong with Texas BBQ chicken).
  11. And potentially the most exciting thing- NO MORE STAR TREK OR GODDAMN PLAYSTATION!

What have I missed?

Muchos love,

Olive X 

Pre deployment date night fail

So it’s getting close to the Big D.

We don’t have many nights when Popeye isn’t working the next day left, plus we have a mental two year old and a 7 month old baby who is teething and beginning to resemble Count Dracula or someone from the Volturi. 

We are exhausted but decided to push the boat out (-ha ha ha, punny) and have a date night. 


The plan was to do an early bedtime for the kids, settle down with a naice film and a takeaway, a bottle of fizz and then have some maximum effort, sexy underwear, lights dimmed but on “grown up time”. I had shaved my legs and everything.

What actually happened was a massive fail. Like colossal. 

The Early bedtime- both children decided they are junior insomniacs. One wanted to jump around singing “wind the (effing) bobbin up” at full blast. The other decided that tonight was the night she would develop super duper senses telling her the precise second I put her down she would wake up, eyes bright and alight with happiness, a small smile playing around her mouth. Over. And over. And over again. For three hours.  Three. THREE! I finally got downstairs at about 8.30pm.

The Naice film. Popeye was supposed to choose one and have it ready for when I got downstairs. He was watching Star Trek. Now I don’t have anything against Captain Kirk et al, but it’s not quite what I had in mind. I let him know.

We had a Chinese! Huzzah! As for the booze- I was too exhausted and full of Chinese to even think about having a drink. Plus I realised my super duper 50% off bottle I got from Lidl was probably that price because it was only 7.5%. Not gonna lie, I felt cheated. 

So, in summary, our Big Pre Deployment Date Night consisted of us sitting in opposite areas of the house for a few hours, me with vampire insomniac children, him with the crew of The USS Enterprise. We did have a Chinese, however this rendered us really full and fat.

In the end he put on Die Hard and I went on Mumsnet. 

Jammy fuckers

This.

Who said romance is dead?!?!

The amount of pressure we both felt under for last night to be “amazing” was ridiculous. We are first parents then a couple afterall and even though our date night idea looked pretty fab on paper in reality it’s just not going to work out like that. It just feels like I can almost hear the clock ticking down those final few days and it’s making my adrenaline run, I imagine it’s how John McClaine felt when he realised he had no shoes and had to fight Snape. 

P.s we are aiming for round two tonight, maybe if we spread the content of date night over the whole weekend we will get all the boxes ticked???

The way I miss you.

It hits me in waves.

No pun intended.

The Missing You Tsunami smashes into me out of nowhere, dragging me out to sea.

I am lost. Swimming along the shore desperately searching for a way back to normal.

I doggy paddle, then front crawl, keeping my head above water until

A rip current rips me. Swirls me around and pushes me back out again.

It draws me out then feeds me back to the shore.

Tumbling and spluttering like some confused octopus I crawl back up the beach

Find my feet and 

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Keep walking.

Until I hear the distant rumble,

And the Missing You Tsunami threatens me again. 

One woman’s homecoming is another’s goodbye

With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home. 

(After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).

I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.

9 month in, 9 months out
But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.

And I am seriously freaking out.

After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another. 

The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.

What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.

It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal. 

But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.

“Did really do that?”

How did I do all those deployments?”

Can I really do it all again?

(in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”

Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.

And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before. 

And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about. 

So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling. 

I need success stories please!

So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.” 

This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster. 

I’d rather be on the dodgems. 

Muchos love,

Olive X 


The truth about deployment.

What deployment is really like. And what it’s really not like.

It’s not all staring off into the horizon in a floaty white dress with a single tear rolling down a polished cheek.

floaty dress? check. staring into middle distance? check. must be a navy wife

It’s not about getting a long awaited dog eared letter in the post, hugging it to your chest in quiet bliss and rushing up to your room to flop down onto the bed to read it in matching pyjamas.

Seriously, who the fuck does this?!

It’s not beaming ear to ear with pride whilst waving a Union Jack (well homecoming is but that’s only a couple of hours out of the whole thing).

Standard navy wife Tuesday activity

It’s not romantic. It’s not magical.

It’s cereal for dinner.

It’s explaining again and again and again where they are and why they couldn’t make it.

It’s wine. Or gin.

It’s weddings and BBQs and Friday nights and Tuesday lunchtimes alone.

It’s having to take both kids with you to your smear test because there’s no one else to help.

It’s suffering the same questions at every family gathering.

“Where is he now then?”

“Heard from Popeye lately?”

“It can’t be much longer now surely?”

Gah.

It’s making coffee for one every morning.

It’s being ill and having to carry on.

It’s dutifully sending one email (at least) a day and hearing nothing back for days.

It’s learning to carry the ache of missing them around with you and realising that it won’t go away until you’re back together again.

It’s checking your email a zillion times a day just incase, and keeping your phone within arms reach for months without fail.

Deployments are not what people think they are. They are marathons not sprints and we are running in a race we’d rather not have to enter.

But we get to cross that finish line eventually and that part of the illusion is true. That moment is indescribably scrummy and romantic and fantastic.

So even if well meaning family and friends don’t have a clue of the reality of a deployment, or even if this is your first deployment and you’ve realised you didn’t have a clue, just trust me, even if the race is a steaming pile of groundhog poop, that finish line will be so worth it. 

Must dash, got me some sea starin’ to do.

*i doubt shes going through the lidl shopping list or what to cook for tea*

Muchos love,

Olive X

Goodbyes and doing “It”.

Let’s talk about sex baby.

More specifically “Goodbye Sex”.

Aka ta ta shagging, au revoir ménage, bon voyage bonking, see you later 69ing, or just farewell fucking. 

Whatever you call it, it sucks (no pun intended). There’s a sense of “shit, time is running out and we won’t be getting to DO IT for ages so we’d better make this round count.”

So there’s a fair amount of pressure to be a super awesome, bendy, fluttery eyelashes, up for anything minx. Even when all you want to do is the standard sideways cuddle position, check your phone for Brexit updates and then fall asleep. 


Then there’s the emotional side of it. Sometimes, just before they deploy you don’t want them near you like that at all. Because even if they don’t mean to, they are hurting you by leaving. It’s not rational. It’s not logical but you hurt at the thought of the impending aloneness and their role in it.

No amount of Barry White or wining and dining will shake that feeling.

But you want to be close to them.

You feel vulnerable and angry and sad and scared and downright unsettled. So the natural reaction, the normal reaction when feeling threatened is to seek reassurance from the one person you feel closest to. Sexy reassurance. 

But the emotions are running so high and you’re trying to get yours whilst making sure it’s a session they won’t forget in a hurry and at the same time you’re trying to make sure your mummy tummy isn’t showing and it’s too much pressure.

Goodbye sex is almost as exhausting emotionally as homecoming sex.

Except you don’t get to have another shot in the foreseeable future.

And no pun intended (again) but that’s hard. Really hard.

The Good Military Wife

I wish I could be a “good military wife”. 

You know, one of those military partners who joins the military wives choir or raises a squillion pounds doing a charity hike or a sexy pin up shoot or sends a gazillion parcels out to the ship at Christmas. Each one with a handwritten note. 


wish I could do those things. But I am SO insanely busy looking after the two girls if I get/were to ever have free time it would be a serious toss up between wine and sleep. (I know, I know it’s obvs- I’d drink wine then sleep).

Plus to be honest with you, it’s just not in my character. I’m just not that *good*.

I wish I could be one of those good wives. One who is happy with her lot in life. I wish I could just accept this is how it has to be. Or as a compromise, I wish I could just stop  constantly moaning about having to limit or give up my career/put it on hold because of his stupid job. 

I wish I could be one of those good wives that actually loses weight whilst they’re away. Or actually starts a project or hobby. Unfortunately I like wine, chocolate and TV too much to ever ever hit this target.

And now to the main (current) guilt trip I’m experiencing (again):

I wish I had the balls to go wave the ship off when they deploy. But I can’t. I haven’t. I won’t. Because I’m just not that good of a wife. I’d rather be in bed hiding from the world or at work acting like I’ve just dropped a tab of speed or bumming around doing motherhood shiz watching a never ending vacuum of Peppa sodding Pig than up at the round tower. 

Tits

look at them. they are blates going to heaven

I wish I could be all supportive of the other wives and girlfriends of the ship and all bestie friendy at the build up and beginning of a deployment. But (and this is another reason there will be no waving “daddies gay boat” bye bye this deployment) I go into some seriously freaky deep denial when they leave. 

I literally don’t think about deployment. I don’t want to talk about it, and I definitely don’t want to hear about it and I sure as hell don’t want to see it actually happening. For me it would be like some early-morning-slow-mo-horror-film with banners where I go shopping at Gunwharf afterwards and grab a “we can do it girlies” latte in a queasy state of shock and a cold sweat coating my newly abandoned body.

“we can do it lattes” are a registered trademark of Olive Oyl 😎

I wish I was more like those good wives but I’m barely holding it together at the best of times. Let alone on the day that marks the longest time I will be apart from the love of my life. 

To those I’m about to do this deployment with: I’m sorry. I will be completely and utterly rubbish and keep to myself for the first few weeks. When I’ve put enough of my heart back together I can come and be a good friend. I can come and be supportive. I can give being a “good military wife” another shot. 

Just bear with me for a few weeks. 

Please? 


Muchos love, Olive X 

No, the time has not flown by, so please kindly STFU.

“Ooh are they coming home already? Wow the last 9 months have really flown by haven’t they?”

The above are probably the two most dangerous sentences you can say to a Navy wife or girlfriend at the final sprint of a deployment countdown. 

To the friend/co-worker or family member with (obviously) good intentions and also a possible death wish:

NO IT HAS FUCKING NOT FLOWN BY.

It has been an almost hysteria inducing, vast stretching of time that has at times has felt swamping and insurmountable.

Time now, at this final push, is threatening to reduce the strong, capable, independent adult from the last few months into a (at times) quivering, adrenaline pumping, vom inducing, panic stricken bag of nerves and self doubt.


The “flying by of time” should be given more appropriate descriptive metaphors such as-

  • Ninja Snail Time- I.e went really fucking slowly then went all stealth ninja-ey and fast right at the end, catching the poor unsuspecting Military WAG off guard.
  • Untrustworthy Time-I.e the homecoming date and subsequent countdown has changed more times than I’ve changed my knickers. Don’t trust it. 
  • Alternative Reality Time I.e time, as a concept, has passed completely differently for you and your sailor. He is expecting home to be some kind of time capsule of half a year ago and you can’t remember what family occasions and days out he has missed because there have been so bloody many he has missed. You are in separate world and separate times.



To all you who dare utter “the two sentences of time” (outlined above, can’t bring myself to type them again) can I just say this:

Time has NOT flown by for us.

We have walked, limped, crawled, carried and been carried to get here. But we have not flown. (We have not sailed through it either before anyone gets punny on me.) 

So please for the love of God and all that is Holy do not patronise us. Do not comment on it. You don’t get it. Don’t pretend to. It’s like a cat trying to understand why a dog likes walks so much when they can go out through the cat flap at any time. 

Different worlds and different times.

Muchos love,

Olive X 

Same/different. Deal with it.

So Popeye is coming HOME today!!!!!

Yippee! I have officially made it to the end of BOST (Basic Operational Sea Trials) without killing the children or having a nervous breakdown! Go me *proud face*!

I attribute my success in Forces Spouse Parenting to a winning combo of rosé spritzers after the kids bedtime, going out to the park a LOT and lowering my housekeeping standards to just above “slovenly”. 


Popeye phoned last night and because of crap signal we of course got cut off mid conversation (standard). 

I didn’t get to do my usual “Some things are different and some things are the same” potentially slightly patronising debrief. 

Let me elaborate, Popeye, and I suspect many other sailors and service persons out there, find it quite difficult to understand that time has passed here at home.

Some things have (duhn duhn duuuhn!) changed. The house he left does not look exactly the same as when he left. I have (shockingly) kept calm and carried on. Without him.

During the couple of months of BOST par examplé I have-

  • Moved the basket where we keep the towels and swapped it with the laundry bin. (Duhn duhn duuuuhn!)
  • Moved the microwave to under the boiler on the other side of the kitchen. (Omfg I’m a monster)
  • Put black out curtains up in sweet peas room because I was fed of of waiting for him to do it. (Sweet Jesus  the humanity!)
  • In a mad fit of “the good life meet gardeners world” weirdness I dug and planted a veg garden with tomato, courgette and runner beans. (Side note: there is an 80% chance they will all die). 
  • Bought two plants to put next to the front door so we look posher than we are. (They are from lidl. Fucking love lidl and its mystery aisle. )

oh la la its like being at downton here

So stuff has moved around. And there is new stuff in our house.

Popeye does not like this. I can just tell he feels uncomfortable or a bit miffed when he steps in the house and it’s not a photocopy of how it was when he left us.

I swear he thinks the second he departs on that bloody tin can time freezes here. 

Even though I do tell him on the phone that I’ve bought X, Y, Z or I’ve put up a picture or whatnot; he doesn’t really ever seem to register that it has actually happened. What I am telling you on the phone is my real life. Like actually real. 

Im not making it up. I’m not trying to dupe him. I’m not trying to make him feel out of place or confused in his own home. 

I’m running a household. I’m doing exactly what I would have done had he been here.

I won’t put my life on hold, or wait for him to be home in order to get stuff sorted out in Maison de Oyl. 

So I usually have a special “some things are different and some are the same chat”. 

Except I couldn’t this time because we got cut off after talking about the girls.

I guess that’s another different thing. He left me as a blubbering, exhausted, desperate for help mother of two under two asking herself “how am I going to do this with no help?!” 

Instead he will come back to find me a coping, exhausted mother of two under two. Still in need of help but not in that panic zone. Still in love with my Popeye, still hating the navy. 

look at me, freakin coping my ass off here

Because I’ve bloody done it. And it feels amazing. Amazingly different. And amazingly the same. 

Muchos love. 

Olive 

X

P.s if you like reading my blog, or if your wife/partner keeps sending you links to my posts and find yourself lol-ing when reading them onboard how about voting for me in the MAD blog awards? I’m a finalist in the best lifestyle blog category and it would mean SO much to win it. I’m the only forces person in the whole awards (guilt trip guilt trip). It takes 2 mins. Click right here and vote for ME! Ta muchly X