Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Sorry Mum, but it is my birthday!!

Going by the chubby cheeks (which have only got chubbier, despite 'clever' hairstyling) I would punt a guess at me being about 6 months old in this photo (I'm the one front left) I haven't asked my Mum my exact age because I know she'll disown me as soon as she sees that I have put this photo on here. Sorry Mum, it had to be done, but you look brilliant, I particularly love the red dress. (and no I'm not being sarcastic)

Anyway, the point is that the above photo was taken a LONNNNNGGGG time ago, 29.5 years ago if my guess is right. And 30 years ago today my poor Mum had to give birth to me, a rather large baby (some things don't change). She went into hospital after lunch and was home in time for tea.

My Mum and Dad have 2 Gemini children, a fact that we are reminded of every once in a while, as apparently at times we two may as well have been four. (My brother and I were obviously angels and they are making the whole thing up) Although now that I look at the photo more closely, what is my brother doing to my arm? Hmm...I appear to be leaning, as if trying to get away from him...

Yes, that's right. I have only just become used to telling people I was 29, and now all of a sudden the BIG THREE OH has crept up and bitten me on the really quite large bottom. (great card Jane, thankyou)

The lovely husband, who really is quite marvelous at buying presents, surprised me with a Cath bag that has been coveted for quite some time now. I haven't stopped stroking it since I opened it.
I treated myself to some grown up ladies shoes...(a bit smarter than the flip flops that I have been living in of late)

And I became the really quite excited and proud new owner of a 'Persephone book' which Kim was blogging about a few days ago, I seem to recall. I have been through the catalogue which was thoughtfully sent along as well and started earmarking others which take my fancy. The stories I have skimmed through so far in the brochure really are fascinating. The one I have is 'The Shuttle' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The lovely Nancy who sent me the book also made me the most BEAUTIFUL reversible apron. I love it so much. I did have some photos taken of me modelling it, but to be honest the ones taken of it lying on the carpet are slightly more flattering! The pattern and colours are right up my street, and the green matches our living room walls..as I type it is hanging on an armchair in the corner and I keep glancing over at it and smiling.

The reverse photo doesn't do the delicate green sprigged fabric justice, but it really is so beautiful. I may have to take up baking full time just so I can wear it more often. I particularly love that you can tie it in a bow behind your neck as well as behind your waist. So pretty. Thankyou so much, clever girl.

My new Bridgewater teapot, also coveted from afar for a while. It has been christened, and we are rapisly running out of teabags. There is something rather satisfying about pouring tea from a teapot. The lovely husband was also responsible for this purchase, along with other goodies.

We both went to Montys brasserie in Cheltenham for lunch, and afterwards round to see Mum and Dad for tea and birthday cake. Didn't my Mum do a cracking job of the birthday cake? It was delicious, thankyou Mum. I was also given a beautiful pink sequinned patchwork bag full of presents from them. Candles, socks, books...I'm a very lucky girl.

One of my friends who I know reads my blogs regularly has done a fabulous job of late in keeping my spirits up and making me laugh. She knows Ive been down about the baby and being made redundant and sent me an email this morning with my 'next' ten year plan...here are some of her suggestions, slightly edited!!

10 year plan

* Update blog on daily basis so I can look forward to reading it each morning.(I'll try!)

* Tell Lovely husband how lucky you are to have each other on a daily basis.(Obviously)

* Look forward to receiving turqoise boxes with white ribbons on a yearly basis.(Will speak to bank manager first)

* Become a domestic Goddess(does toast and marmite count?)

* Grow lots and lots of lovely fruit and veg with marvellous bloke by your side.(getting there)

* Become scrummy mummy, but DO NOT become part of horrible playground mafia.(will do my best)

* Write best selling novel and buy cottage in Cornwall.(this is my favourite)

* Acquire a 'Featherdown' tent to pack into car for each camping trip.(may have to change the car)

* Buy VW Camper to pack 'Featherdown' tent into that way you can have another 'section' to your 'featherdown' home!(may need VW camper to keep Featherdown tent in, good excuse)

* Obviously VW camper and Featherdown tent will have to be painted in 'Cath Kidston' print to stand out in the crowd and make GREAT blog photo. (Obviously my friend knows me TOO well)

So there you have it, all great suggestions, I'm sure you'll agree. See you back here in 10 years time, we'll see how I've done.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Featherdown Fun

We are lucky enough to live a ten minute drive from the Countryside, but it's rare we come across a sight such as this! These are the cows that live at Featherdown Farm in Dorset, off for their afternoon of milking...

After being met by our host and given a bundle of bedding for our stay, we were pointed in the direction of the carpark and the wheelbarrow park. No cars allowed outside tents at Featherdown (quite right too) but obviously our tent was the furthest away from the car park...at least the sun was shining.

And yes, we did pick the one with the sqeaky wheel...

The first glimpse of our home for the week. Comment of the day from me? "Ooh, it looks just like the one in the brochure". Hmm. It had been a long journey...

If you look closely at the lovely husband you can just about make out the 'God I'm knackered' look. In my defence it was hard work carrying a handbag and a 'Bag for Life' whilst wearing flipflops, let me tell you!

And this was the view that we looked out on from our tent. Not bad at all. The tents have been cleverly staggered at this farm, and no one tent is looking directly onto another. Thus giving privacy when you are hopping about in your knickers trying to put your jeans on.

Vegetarians look away now...bacon sandwiches EVERY morning, what a treat, followed by mugs of tea when we finally got the most enormous kettle in the world to boil. One very clever girl (thanks Kim) gave us the tip of taking a thermos, and filling it with boiling water the night before, thus speeding up the morning cuppa. It worked a treat, thankyou! (as did our supply of hot water bottles)

We couldn't explain to ourselves why we enjoyed washing up by gas lamp when the biggest trauma in our lives LAST year was the dishwasher exploding and it taking a couple of weeks to replace.
The camp wood oven. The one evening it was lit it poured with rain, so we hid in our tent rather than join the hoardes of small children in the wellies (still not quite ready to be surrounded by hoardes of small children in wellies)

The bigest highlight for me was the selection of bright red enamel cookware. So easily pleased! If you look carefully you can just about make out someone hiding in the background. The door to the left is the toilet (most impressive) and the little cupboard doors on the right open up to a cabin bed, which housed my clothes for the week.

The bed was sooo comfy. I don't know how we will survive when we next go camping in our tent.

We did manage to drag ourselves away from the farm for several outings. This was the most gorgeous cottage in Lulworth Cove. Although it was shut the day we went the sign says that they sell sweets fudge and ice cream. It had a beautiful cottage garden that were greatly admired by yours truly.And of course we all know what happens when we plant a bucket in the garden, don't we? You get a bucket tree. Perfect.

If any of you are considering a visit to Featherdown then we would both highly recommend it. It was just what the doctor ordered. Peace and quiet, fresh air, no television, no phone calls. We spent hours sitting in deck chairs, reading our books, drinking cider and beer (not to excess, I hasten to add!) and just chilling out. We went to sleep at night to the sound of a pair of owls hooting, and lovely husband was woken up one morning to the sound of a squirrel dancing on the roof. One evening on the way back from the squeakily clean shower I saw a baby deer in the field opposite, and the next evening the most enormous hare.

Hope you're all having a lovely bank holiday weekend, and thankyou so much to you all for your words, cards letters and gifts of support. It means so much, and will continue to do so for a long long time.x

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Allotment therapy

It's a shame the photo doesn't do the view great justice..this morning I could see for miles.

Dad and I spent a couple of hours this morning, weeding, sowing, planting and watering. The allotment is looking great. It was quite therapeutic to concentrate and think about something else for a change. I hadn't spent any time at the plot for a while, and was surprised to see how well things are coming along.

The rhubarb has been picked ready for rhubarb and ginger jam...

Since I first took an interest in growing vegetables I have taken a bizarre obsession with courgettes. I think it's largely due to the fact that they are so easy to grow. I transplanted these from home this morning. I haven't used this black plastic before but apparently it keeps the weeds at bay! We do suffer hugely with weeds unfortunately, and some of them are monster sized. Apart from the odd one poking through the sheeting though all seemed ok. These are just normal run of the mill courgettes, but I am nurturing some others at home which are quite special...watch this space!

This is one of two new gooseberry bushes, and Dad spotted teeny weeny berries on it today, so hopefully we shall get a fairly decent crop from them so I can make gooseberry jam. Jam is a big business in this household!

I quite like bucking tradition on the allotment, hence the weird courgettes, and this kiwi plant above. I bought it from Lidl a few weeks ago, one lunchtime when I was bored at work, and it really seems to have taken off. It's been planted against the shed as apparently they like to climb. We shall have to wait and see what happens. Maybe kiwi jam? Hmm, maybe not...

Dads' speciality, broad beans. They taste so amazingly good (well they did last year, these ones aren't quite ready yet) we have come to the conclusion that they will be perfect for picking slap bang in the middle of when we are on holiday next week. Excellent.

And good old potatoes. I got so excited when we dug up our first potatoes last summer, I can highly recommend it. One of my friends has grown some in a dustbin in her back garden, which is a brilliant idea if you only have a small area but still want to grow something.

We also planted carrots, parsnips, marigolds peas and various other flower seeds that we found at home this morning, so hopefully in a few weeks time it should be looking pretty.

The Gladioli which you can just about make out below were also a very cheap purchase from Lidl. I bought two huge bags of bulbs from there for a couple of pounds, and they seem to be growing really well. Gladioli and Sweet Peas seem to be the common staple flowers of allotments, so at least we are keping up with the neighbours! Can you see our block paved patio?? (courtesy of Dad)

These are the sweet peas, snug in their fleecy sheet!

So this morning I had sunshine, exercise and fresh air. We also have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to look forward to. And jam making, obviously.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Slowly getting there (I think)

Hopefully nobody went away and sank a bottle of vodka after my last posting- sorry for bringing depression to the blogging world but I did feel better (for all of an hour) for having written it all down.
I have been back at work for a couple of days. I think I probably did come back too soon, but just didn't fancy sitting at home and staring at the wall. Some people are tip toeing around as they don't know what to say to me. One of my bosses cannot do enough, he must have made me 50 cups of tea in the last 48 hours, whilst another keeps making jokes and whistling loudly while sticking his bottom lip out and making 'sad' faces at me whenever I meet his eye. I could quite cheerfully punch him, even though I know it's his way of dealing with a hormonal female.
I am starting to think about new jobs now, to keep my brain from thinking of 'other' things. I have had no luck as yet, sadly Sir Alan Sugar has no need for a new 'Francis' to answer his phone, and Gordon Ramsey isn't crying out for a personal masseuse, so for the time being I shall stick to scouring the job pages.
Thankyou so much to everyone who sent such kind messages, both on the blog and to me personally,it means a lot that you have taken the time to do that and I have read them several times over.
The one thing that has really got to me is the people who have avoided me altogether since this has happened. I know it's an awkward situation and no one knows what to say for the best, but even so. I just find it upsetting.
Time to see if I can wangle cup of tea number 51. Perhaps if I stick my bottom lip out and make a sad face, shouldn't be too difficult...

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Apologies in advance...

I deliberately didn't do a post on here announcing that i was pregnant as I didn't want to 'tempt fate'. I have now decided that fate is a load of old bollocks anyway (excuse the language) because this week we had a scan that told us at 16 weeks our baby no longer had a heart beat.
I know this is going to make uncomfortable reading, and I could write a list of people who will read this and think 'Christ, what is she doing?' but when I'm lying awake at night staring at the bedroom ceiling and trying not to cry, all I can think of is that it may help to write it down. It may also stop you all from wondering why I haven't done a post on the blog for so long.

People have been so kind. We have had a week of cards being delivered that we couldn't open. Within a few hours of knowing our news we had a bouquet of flowers delivered from my boss...the same boss who last week told me would be making me redundant at the end of June.
We have had a fabulous box of homemade chocolate chip cookies sent from London. We have had emails from 2 friends in particular (one of whom I have never met, you know who you are, coaster girl!) who just want to say Hi, and then continue to tell us about their lives as they would normally. That has helped hugely.

When I start laughing at something on the television or something someone says I feel guilty. I feel guilty when someone starts to tell me about their friend/ relative who went through the same thing and then went on to have hundreds of children. I feel guilty because I don't want to know about them. They are happy, I am not.

I have a fabulous husband who has been amazingly supportive and despite feeling grief of his own has looked after me, hugged me and held me. He knows all the right things to say and when to say them.

I still can't understand how this could happen so late in the pregnancy. I know we're just unlucky but just as I was starting to think everything would be ok, the rug was pulled from under us. We got to the 12 week stage where we breathed a sigh of relief. We started to think of names, look at prams and cots. I was looking forward to our first Christmas as a Mummy and Daddy.

And now. And now I have to start caring about myself and brushing my hair. I have to stop counting how many sleeps are left until I have to go back to work and cope with the pitying looks and hand squeezing.

Apparently there are several stages of grief to get through. I am still at the devastated and upset stage.
It will get better in time. Apparently.