Category Archives: Non

While we devotin’ Full time to floatin’ Under the sea

When Lulu’s dad first left she was still at nursery so he would often take her out for a day to spend time with her (without the fear of a fine) and on those days he would often take her swimming. She was a real water baby, and still is, hence her love of all things mermaid I think. Ariel is her favourite princess of them all, this may also be to do with   the fact that she also has red hair just like Lulu. Anyway, as she got older it was time for her to have formal lessons. Especially as we holiday by the sea in Suffolk each summer, for both safety reasons and to be able to have a full appreciation of the gorgeous sea that surrounds us. So she started lessons at a local pool last year. As a side issue, as you know I am always hot and sweaty but oh my goodness, how hot are childrens pools? Sitting and watching in shorts and a t shirt in the height of winter still doesn’t keep me cool. I am also most cross that I haven’t lost at least a stone from all the sweating.

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Lulu, like most children her age, is a little obsessed with YouTube, and it was while browsing that she came across the mermaid tail swim suit. It is literally a tail, that fits from the tummy down and covers your feet like a sleeve, and you can swim around in the pool with it. It looks fantastic but Lu isn’t a strong enough swimmer yet to merit one. Instead, at Christmas I gave her a gorgeous mermaid tail blanket which I adore but didn’t quite cut the mustard for her. I often find using her pyjama legs as as tail, by shoving both her legs in to one pj leg, like a very tight tube skirt – remember those? I have therfore had my eye out for a mermaid type tail she can actually try out and use in the sea and so when the lovely Leanne at Simply Swim did a shout out for those with children having swimming lessons to try out some of their range I shoved my arm straight in air and starting shouting ‘pick me, pick me, pick me’. And you know what? She did!!!

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She asked to go me to the website and choose some things with Lulu and there it was the holy grail of swimming, THE most perfect pink mermaid tail by Finis, practical and oh so pretty. Into the basket it went immediately, it also comes in blue. To be perfectly honest beyond the obvious joy of the tail, Leanne appeared at a very fortuitous time as all of Lulu’s swimming class friends have googles but she doesn’t, so into the basket went  a beautiful pink pair by Aqua Sphere (currently on sale!), there were lots of pink ones to choose from. It was a hard choice for Lulu. And she needed a new swim suit – I think she is having a growth spurt. Unsurprisingly all the items Lu chose were pink. A super pair of swim shoes by Speedo (also on sale), so useful for our summer hols as the beach we go to in Walberwick is predominately stones. A good old fashioned kick board by Speedo, so she can practice her kicking, a lovely long foam pole, a Zoodle by Zoggs, which I have my eye on for tucking under my arms and floating on my back in the lovely sea but for Lu it can again help with her kicking, on her back or on her tummy. It’s just like the ones they use at her swimming classes.

The swimsuit has been a big hit, she has taken to wearing it in the bath. It is the prettiest  pink with blue shiny metallic hearts on and bright green edging. It also has some extra straps on the back which Lulu and her friends seem to think is the height of sophistication. Finally, she chose a very very pink water bottle by Funkita which she now insists I carry around in my bag for her at all times. I am secretly hoping to sneak it off her at some point as I am rather fond of it. Did I mention that pink is my favourer colour too?

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All the products were true to size and she loves each and everyone, how on earth am I going to get all of them, plus Barbie’s essentials, and the suitcases into my car for the summer hols I do not know.

PS I have tiny feet so I have tried the mermaid tail on which fits (very Cinderella) and I cannot wait for our holiday, I may be more excited than Lulu.

A massive thank you to Leanne and Simply Swim for letting us have such fun with your lovely products.

All opinions are obviously my own.

I’m leaving on a jet plane

Long distance relationships are hard. That is what everyone keeps telling me and I know that they are right. When I first went to uni (in Liverpool) my boyfriend lived in Amsterdam, that was a long way away and despite flights to and fro it came to an end after a few months – his idea, not mine, I was heart broken. Now that I am a fully formed 42 year old I imagined that a long distance relationship would be easier, I am more realistic about what to expect and I know that we can’t have everything we want. My partner of 3 years has taken a job in Switzerland for at least the next 3 months, possibly longer. He leaves on a Sunday night and returns late on a Thursday night so he has 3 nights in the UK. We don’t live together, in fact we live a 45 minute drive apart, but we had a nice routine of spending Saturday night to Wednesday morning together but now we are down to one night a week. And that is usually with a clutch of children, his and mine. I know that he is trying to fit a week’s worth of parenting and love with his children into a short space of time and if he suggested that he didn’t see his children so he could see me instead I would actually love and respect him less but things seem very fractured at the moment. Trying to squash everything in to a quarter of the time that we used to have. He has aways travelled for work but never for this long. He has recently taken the leap from his job of 15 years to starting his own company and this is his first contract. I really couldn’t be prouder but I know that from now on everything will be very different. Thank God for Whats App. I am hoping to visit him soon for a weekend but having consulted my diary my next free whole weekend without Lulu is in June!

On the plus side I can go to bed at 8.30pm when I feel unwell and not feel like the worst inattentive girlfriend ever, yep, thats about it for the plus side I’m afraid. We have booked a holiday for the family in August, our annual jaunt to Suffolk, and a weekend away with 30 members of his family for his 50th Birthday in July, which are things to look forward to and time together. However it still takes some getting used to and damn it I miss being cuddled regularly. In an odd way its like being single again but without spending all my energy on first dates. In fact it feels a little like when my husband left me, everything has changed and I am sleeping alone again. I’m trying not to be too sad about it, it isn’t forever, but I quite like seeing my partner regularly and I miss him. I also understand that his work will take him abroad and he enjoys the travel, so realistically it isn’t a matter of making it through these 3 months, his next contract could literally be anywhere in the world so I am trying to see this as the new norm. If only things were cheaper in Duty Free (bloody Brexit – I need my Clarins Handcream!!!), it may have sweetened such a bitter pill.

 

If I had a little money

No one likes to talk about money, having it or not having it, and I understand that but I read a wonderful post this week by the delightful Sara Tasker who blogs at Me and Orla, Notes on having money (from someone who never did!), and I really wanted to share it because it was so honest and I agreed whole heartedly with the content, particularly No.1. “People who say money isn’t a big deal have never struggled for it.” The idea that having money doesn’t help you out in life is one that is regularly trotted out by those who have never experienced the fear of the knock on the door from the bailiffs, living in a house where the gas and electric have been cut off because you can’t pay bills, a home that has one chair and a mattress with no other furniture because you have no money to buy it, I have experienced these things, as a child, and I tell you, having money would have bloody helped. I am sure my mum would agree when she had to give up meals so I could eat. As an adult I now have enough money to pay my bills, I buy myself clothes I like and indulge in take away coffees and I tell you I sleep better at night knowing that I can afford food.

There is nothing wrong with having money, it is lovely to be able to pay for things, one shouldn’t be ashamed of that. There is a certain amount of independence to be gained from having money and no, it doesn’t stop bad things happening but when my husband walked out on me and I was literally left holding the baby I would have had less sleepless nights if I hadn’t being worrying myself sick about how I was going to pay a mortgage alone.

No one has the right to judge you because of your financial situation, be you wealthy or poor, but please lets stop pretending that having money is not better than not having it.

I’ll be there for you

Ah, friends, as in the people, not the TV show. It was always such a big deal in youth to have lots of them wasn’t it? It was a sign of being popular, which in turn was a sign of being worthy I suppose, in our own twisted adolescent minds. Now, I have spent most of my life feeling painfully shy but as time has gone on people I meet and old friends seem astonished that I feel this way because I am very chatty, able to talk to complete strangers – shout out to the lady on my commute last week who told me her lipstick was Mac Ruby woo when I completed her on it! – and generally able to hold my own so I have started to think that maybe I’m not as shy as I thought, who knew?? But I digress.

Friends. I don’t have loads of them, but I have enough of them, its quality not quantity. I am lucky enough to have friends from my primary school, my secondary school and from university. Each of them a reminder of those periods in my life, people who share my memories. This has become more and more important to me as I have got older. I think it’s because I like myself more and I can look back on my youth with the luxury of hindsight and think , you know what, you did okay out there in the big bag world all alone at 18, and things that used to make me cringe when I recollect them, don’t anymore, I’ve given my younger self a break. So now, instead of comparing myself to others and thinking I don’t measure up to peers I enjoy the catch us, the reminiscing. This train of thought has been sparked by my bestest friend from uni returning to the UK for a few weeks jolly from Australia where she lives with her partner and 2 gorgeous little boys. We were thick as thieves at uni, in Liverpool, where we met as we were on the same corridor in the halls of residence, we got drunk, a lot, danced, a lot, and had loads of fun. We drifted apart a bit, we had long term boyfriends, she got a proper job, I faffed about with my part time MA, then moved back to London when I’d completed. She stayed in Liverpool to do her PhD and then she and her partner emigrated to Aus, where she founded and runs super successful publishing house, is there no stopping this woman??? We’ve kept in touch via Facebook, which is really rather passive isn’t it but still a great way to keep up with peoples news but here she was going to be in the UK in the flesh and she would see me in the flesh, much different to my uni days, not helped by being so sick, and hideously bloated – honestly I could fit 2 of my uni days me into my current body. I realise that I may sound hideously vain but there you go, anyway I warned her I didn’t look great but said meeting would be super.  And you know what? It bloody was, I’ve been on a natural high since our supper together. We compared notes, we discussed our lives, as much as you can with a 6 year old in ear shot – I took Lulu with me as I wanted them to meet. And I remembered how much I loved my wonderful friend and why we had been friends for such a long time. It was a timely reminder that I am incredibly lucky in my life, in so many ways, and that despite being basically a social hermit for the last couple of years I can sill hold a decent conversation. Go me!

 

For the first time in forever.

I am writing about this because otherwise I may forget it ever happened and then it won’t have existed. Yesterday, for more than a few fleeting moments, I felt like ‘me’ for the first time in nearly two whole years. It is a fucking miracle. Isnt the universe great? Last week I was falling into a pit of despair and hopelessness, I was contemplating that if this is as good as it gets, because the here and now in this  moment is all we can rely on, then how can we judge if it is good enough for us in the long term?

So for just a few moments, a few different ones, probably adding up to about 10 minutes all in all, I was ‘me’. I felt enthusiasm, I felt in control, I felt hopeful and happy as I used to. See the main photo – which was taken a couple of years ago before I got sick, before everything went wrong, before I forget how to feel like ‘me’. Now I am working to getting back to also looking like the old ‘me’, begone steroid bloat and acne, bring on the fresh veg and good old water. The weather is improving so the urge to hibernate is lifting, walking seems more appealing and the sun really helps with my pain, so in the now, today, right now, I see that there is hope, that things can get better, that being sick is not the death sentence is sometimes feels like and that feels amazing.

I wanted to let other spoonies out there know that things can get better, really, don’t give up. xxx

Review – Newburn Gluten free White Sourdough Artisan Cob

I have been a coeliac for a long time, over 20 years now, and I have seen loads of changes on the food option front which is super, but I never write about it and I’m not entirely sure why because I love reading other peoples reviews and finding out about new products so I though I’d better start.

Now, you have to understand that over the years the offerings of gluten free bread mainly consisted of bread that was as heavy as a house brick or so crumbly that merely picking up a slice can cause disintegration. Also the bread would have to be heated or toasted in order to be edible, and it usually tasted horrid. Trust me, this is not an exaggeration but hings have moved on substantially with loads of main steam companies jumping on the gluten free band wagon which is always a good thing for us coeliacs. So I am sure you can imagine that there was much excitement in the gluten free world when Warburtons announced the launch of their own gluten free range, Newburn,  not least because it was the first proper – i.e. gluten filled -bakery that was tuning its hand to gluten free. The thing that  I miss the most about being gluten free is a fresh crusty white load and here is where Warburtons have cornered a bit of supermarket market. Their brand of Sourdough Cob sells out so quickly at my local Sainsburys that it has become a bit of a treat for me, and I always buy two if they are there. It is very thing I want in my fresh bread, crusty and floury on the outside, beautifully soft on the inside and if I choose to toast it there is the most delicious crunch and it tastes amazing.

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Now before you all start shrieking at the screen that I have fallen prey to hipsterism, yes that is avocado on my toast, just as I have been eating my toast for the last 25 years. See, I’m very old and avocados have been around much longer than Instagram. Newburn also do gluten free Crumpets which I haven’t tried yet and yesterday I got hold of a Orange and Sultana Breakfast Cob, at Waitress, it looks like the Sourdough but sis weet. It was also delicious, not too sweet, just right. I must be honest and say that I ate it straight out of the packet at my desk, no need to toast this delicious offering.

As a side note, I was in  Marks and Spencers recently and saw that they had brought out a gluten free Sourdough loaf, it was so beautiful to look at but it tasted absolutely dreadful, the inside was dry and crumbly, I didn’t even finish one slice before I put the whole lot into the food waste bin. What a shame as M&S are doing so well in the gluten free stakes, they make the best cheesecake and the trifle is delicious. Such a treat.

 

It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. (Or – What would you choose – excruciating pain or chronic exhaustion?)

Hmm, difficult on so many levels and the fact that it isn’t actually a ‘real’ choice, after all who would choose either? But, for me I would take the pain over the exhaustion since I have luxury of having both. The exhaustion is completely debilitating for me. It is “bone-crushingly, walking through treacle, dragging water up a hill, can’t remember my own name” awful. Don’t get me wrong the pain ain’t great either. It hurts when I move, it hurts when I’m still, the touch of my T shirt on my skin hurts, everything hurts, inside and out and I occasionally lose my vision because of it. “Well, get some painkillers” I hear you cry but really none of them work for me and all I’m left with now is morphine but I am already dopey enough with the tiredness thank you, and I have to be able to drive to get to work. Those pesky bills simply won’t pay them selves!

I am in the middle of what I believe is known as a ‘fibro flare’, an exacerbation of my symptoms that happens for no apparent reason what so ever but then again no one has any idea why people develop fibromyalgia in the first place.

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So, if I accept that things hurt and that is just life, how do I deal with the tiredness? It really does not matter how long I sleep for, I will still be tired, there is no ‘catching up’. I already take an array of vitamin and mineral supplements, including turmeric for the joint inflammation, magnesium for my insomnia and now I have added ginseng for energy. I eat well but the fly in the ointment is when I am tired, the time you should really eat all the best things, it is the time that I can barely wash my own hair let alone contemplate making anything to eat. My appetite wavers a bit and I then crave bad sugar and carbs blah blah blah.

I’ve made reference to the Spoon analogy before and at the moment it is so true. I have a limited amount of energy, spoons, each day. So I have to make choices, during my flares particularly, most days. If I walk up the stairs at work will I be able to have a shower when I get home? as walking up stairs uses one spoon as does having a shower. So I mitigate my circumstances as much as possible and no, exercising and pushing on through does not help, it makes it worse. I know that I felt particularly bad on Monday as on Friday I had a half day at work and I went shopping for two hours to buy my mum a birthday gift and have a nice wander by myself. I slept until 5pm the next day. Now, one can ‘borrow’ spoons to use from the following day but then the next day you have to manage with less spoons. More crappy choices. I think what I really need is a PA and a house keeper to look after me.You know, stroke my hair, tell me I’m pretty,  and that I shouldn’t worry as everything will work out just fine.

Over the last few months I have grown to be genuinely grateful for my mum and having her around me now rarely makes me grumpy (I am clearly much sicker than first imagined!!!), but wow the guilt I feel around my 6 year old daughter is over whelming. ‘Mummy, why don’t you ever want to play with my barbie dream house?’ err because mummy is using all her energy to stay upright at the moment! – only joking, I’d never tell her the truth but she is verging on thinking that I really don’t want to play with her so I have now taken to saying ‘you know how mummy sometimes gets a bit tired? well, I’m a bit tired now so we can do either do activity a) or activity b) but not both, which would you like? but if even giving options is exhausting, alternatively we can watch a film on the good old ipad instead which she loves and I can nap. But it is very obvious to me that I am not the same person I used to be. Having less energy also means one has less enthusiasm for things which is hard because I am usually one of those annoying smiley happy excited people, ‘Spring is coming hurrah’, I adore Christmas and start decorating in October. I am tenacious and passionate and interested in so many things, the world is an amazing place, but I feel a bit like a tortoise, crawling slowly through the day, no time for distraction, just concentrating on finding the energy to put one foot in front of the other.

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When I was in hospital recently I met a lady in her 70s, we were both waiting to collect our meds. She was an academic that had lectured in economics, still bright as a button and absolutely fascinating. She told me that she lived alone and relied on her friends to help her as she had had an accident a while back and had been house bound while she was on the long road to recovery. The thing she discovered was that in order to allow your body to heal physically you had to somehow turn off your brain, stop using all your energy thinking so much, no pondering life great questions in bed alone at two in the morning. She said of course it rendered her unable to have very interesting conversations with people but that it was a necessary part of recovery that simply had to be accepted. Just allow yourself to rest and to heal. She is right, she sparked something in me, it was almost a permission to allow myself to concentrate on healing my body without feeling like failure. I saw with great clarity that while my body was poorly I had been busy trying to prove that my brain still worked and I could have interesting  informed conversations and still had lots of jolly clever ideas to share. “See, see, I am more than my failing body”…..I see how desperate I may have seemed. Maybe instead of worrying that other people would judge my abilities now that I was poorly, I should stop judging myself. I’m still me, just a hazier version of me and one that needs to lie down more often than I used to but, as my Irish mammy would say “sure, it could be worse.”

Once upon a time there lived a princess

img_5480Tomorrow I am off to Farrow and Ball to seek their invaluable advice about what colour to paint my bedroom and my study. “Oh come on”, I hear you say, “you need advice choosing colours? don’t you just KNOW?” well, no I don’t. I simply can’t choose which is why to a certain extent I only use Farrow and Ball. They have a limited selection which is good for me because too much choice is dazzling but also the quality and finish is second to none and I redecorate maybe once every 10 years so I need to love it and at the price point I literally cannot afford to make a mistake.

I know what I don’t like – isn’t that always the way in life? -but am having difficulty making a final choice.

Lulu’s room is easy – pink. It is already a light pink, Calamine, the same as mine and now she is having Nancy’s Blushes, a true gorgeous brighter pink. She wants a Barbie Boutique bedroom, so out comes the wardrobe, and in goes open copper piping to hang her pretty princess dresses. Also shelves by her bed for her Sylvanian family to live on, more shelves for her pretty shoes to live on and a display cabinet for her crowns etc. I am not entirely sure how this is all going to work but I have two days to do it. I have been promising her that we would re do her room for a few months now, I was the one who suggested it – idiot. But as I remain quite unwell it hasn’t been feasible, also money has been super tight but thanks to my financial whizz of a private banker – no idea why I get this service from my bank – error i think, but I’m not knocking it, I have paid off overdrafts (yes, two) and got a smidgen more to decorate at a lower interest rate that the silly over drafts!!! So now is the time. Also, a while a go a friend of mine was fretting about how best to serve his children in his newly divorced state, phone every day, which they didn’t seem too fussed about, or every few days? From my experience as a child of divorced parent’s I advised that the children won’t remember of what you did do but they will remember what you didn’t, so, parents – please if you can, do what you say you will or it is very disappointing, so here I am about to don an old t shirt and start slapping on the paint.

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The reason decorating my room is so important to me is that I spend a lot of time in bed, and this means that sometimes Lu spends a lot of time in my bed with, watching TV, chatting, eating toast – who cares about crumbs – and I want it to be a really nice place for her to be, I don’t want her to remember mummy bing sick and having to spend time in my room because of that I want her to remember how gorgeous my room was and want to be in it with me. She plays dress up in all my clothes – my expensive cocktail dresses are her favourite, she plays with my make up and I have made sure I have a beautiful dressing table and stool so it is a really nice experience. She favours Mac’s Ruby Woo at present, my six year old has the best taste ever. She has stated dabbling with my Bobbi Brown blusher and is not adverse to donning a pashmina and a statement necklace to finish off the look. I don’t mind at all, she love it and seeing her happy is a joy to me. I’m not an idiot though, the Gina shoes and Mulberry Handbags remain nestled in their protective bags way beyond the hand reaching height of a fashion conscious little girl. But if her feet don’t grow beyond a size 3 she has lots of gorgeous shoes coming her way when she grows up.

If it is of any interest I am torn between painting my room pink, Nancys Blushes, as I bloody love pink, it makes me happy, or so I go for  grey which I also love and means I can accessorise my ass off with pink but also Peignoir appeals. For the study, which is Elephant’s Breathe, I am thinking a darker grey, maybe Pavilion Grey. My friend Kathryn has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting Pigeon, a gorgeous blue grey. Arrgghhhh.

We are living in a material world. And I am a material girl

My spending ban remains firmly in place but my desire to have nice things has not abated. I continue to satisfy myself by gazing at pretty things online and thinking ‘one day….’

I am loving the crockery at H&M at the moment:

    

I really need/want new bed linen and this gorgeous set from La Redoute was top of my list BUT they don’t do the right size for my Super King Duvet cover…..

Image Plain Cotton Duvet Cover In a Range of Mix and Match Colours SCENARIO

I have my eye on this Happiness Planner:

How gorgeous are these pink boots from Office? I bought the black leather version last year – a dupe for Chloe Suzanna’s, and I love them:

Lucky Charm Studded Boots

*Basically anything pink or flamingo themed gets added to my wish list.

My week in pictures

Monday

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First of two hospital visits, with a little bit of work afterwards.

Tuesday

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My phone is full of photos of books I want to read, I loved The Miniaturist.

Wednesday

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An innocent meeting with my PhD supervisor ended with me giving up my PhD as illness and time are not working in my favour. Still hurts.

Thursday

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No heating at work and for some reason I am not sweating like a pig.

Friday

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Post Friday Film night cuddles in mummy’s bed.

Saturday

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My mum and I survived Lulu’s 6th Birthday party.

Sunday

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Fairy lights behind my bed? What more could a girl ask for???