Category Archives: Non

But the last day of summer Never felt so cold

This year summer seems to be over as soon as it began for the school age children. All the good sunny weather happened before they broke up but I am pleasantly surprised that it remains light for so long in the evening still, 9pm last night. I know this specifically because I went to bed for a nice afternoon nap at 3pm having got home from work and a lovely lunch catch up with a friend. I woke up at 8.30pm and was completely confused, I thought it was morning because of the daylight outside, I was in a completely disorientated panic which lasted about half an hour. Horrid adrenal pumping head ache inducing way to wake up.

 

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But I know that soon the evenings will be drawing  in and eventually I will find myself in a subterranean like world of leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark. I am a huge fan of autumn and winter, of Christmas and lamplight (so good on the complexion), of cosy blankets and bed socks but equally I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

The NHS define it as follows:

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter.

The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re typically most severe during December, January and February.

SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern.

Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.”

If I am not mindful then it can end up utterly flooring me. It doesn’t happen over night, it is the slow creeping in of lethargy, equaled to the diminishing of day light. Life starts to feel flat, if I don’t start dragging myself back up he hill at that point then the feeling can remain with me for months.

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I have no magic remedy, though I have found SAD lights to be very effective, 10 mins a day while at work. I have been lucky enough to have at least one exceptionally hot and sunny holiday each year so I feel I stock up on sunshine and energy. But I am also kind to myself, darkness does produce lethargy, that is normal, just as the spring sunshine makes us want to throw on coats and go on long fresh walks.

I’m not trying to wish summer and sunshine away but I know from experience that now is the time to start thinking about where I put my SAD lamp, time to transition into the new season in the healthiest way I can.

Marking the transition of seasons, as ridiculous as it may sound, helps too, so it isn’t just the long stretch towards Christmas (the best time of the year ever) that we are waiting for. And I love an excuse for a celebration. One of my favorites is the Autumn Equinox, Mabon, it happens around 21st-24th September, the The White Goddess tells us the story behind it:

“Mabon marks the middle of harvest, it is a time of equal day and equal night, and for the moment nature is in balance. It is a time to reap what you have sown, of giving thanks for the harvest and the bounty the Earth provides. For finishing up old projects and plans and planting the seeds for new enterprises or a change in lifestyle. Mabon is a time of celebration and balance.

This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chill nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.

The passing of Mabon is inevitable and The Sun God should be mourned. We too, must remember that all things must come to an end. So the Sun God journeys into the lands of winter and into the Goddess’ loving arms, but endings are a good time to celebrate our successes, thank our selves and those who helped us, and take part in the balance of life!”

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Gonna dress you up in my love In my love

Yep, my spending ban went out the window a while ago and I’m not sure why. I have never really been into fashion or shopping but damn the ease of online shopping and all the pretty clothes the people I follow on Instagram wear.

I must admit though that I fear my shopping habit maybe a smidgen out of control and as such I have reigned my self in entirely, I think it has to do with not feeling very well or happy, new clothes cheer me and maybe it allows me to be someone else, just for the first few moments I put a new item on, someone who is capable and wears nice clothes….a proper grown up who is in control.

Realistically aren’t we all just waiting to be “found out” for the “no idea what we are really doing” frauds? Crikey, I digress, this is about clothes not psychoanalysis.

So this is a round-up of what I thought proved  rather popular this summer,

Bardot tops, and dresses – so pretty and feminine but not for me, big busted. But how gorgeous is this.

This was the year of the pom-pom and the tassel for interiors, clothes and accessories. I coveted many colorful pom pom embellished bags and sandals but didn’t succumb, however I did cave in to my desire and bought these tassel earrings on Amazon.

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My partner seems to think look rather odd, admittedly when I wear them I do feel a bit of a fashion fraud, perhaps more of a Pat Butcher than the ever stylish Erica Davies I was going for. So I have ordered a few other sets fron the lovely Alice’s Wonders, see below, for my upcoming holiday. I think I can carry these off.

Boho dresses were big news, Next did a good line aside Zara, see below, but not really my thing, I am rather small in stature and feel a little mumsy in mid length blousy things though I do love them.

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Zara £59.99

Yellow was a popular colour, remember ‘that’ yellow M&S dress. If it’s good enough for Vogue…I dabbled by buying a long-sleeved blouse but am always so worried about looking jaundiced so that was about as daring as I got.

French market baskets and the round straw hand bags were everywhere, often seen filled with pink peonies casually placed in a beautiful stylish kitchen. Despite being so summery I just couldn’t justify the purchases as I have many bags and a few baskets already.

 

Slogan tees continued their reign with feminist slogans leading the way, as it should be! I got a few from Girl vs Cancer, I went for one saying “Lady Lumps”, Love4Grenfell(see Lu modelling it below) where all profits go to those who are victims of the fire. This is a place very close dear to me as that tower was my first ever home. and Topshop.  The feminist slogan was having a real moment, and not one that will end I hope.

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My only issue being the sizing as a big boobed lady a round neck isn’t very flattering hello mono boob, a v neck is much nicer, but not very available in this genre of t-shirt. And to fit my bobs in I ended up with Large sizes, so the t-shirts ended up as rather short dresses, not the casual wear with jeans number I had envisaged, and as my Instagram told me it should be but i love them none the less.

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Love4Grenfell £10 plus P&P

Turns out good old Marks & Spencer was my go to shop this summer, with a smattering of Next, Topshop and H&M. I also couldn’t resist a few dresses in the Zara sale. I chose Gingham, which also made an appearance this summer.

Now who are these ladies of impeccable fashion taste that I follow, well here they are

The Fashion Lift

The Edited

The Frugality

Chloe Loves to Shop

Little Spree

Violet and Percy  This blog/shop has an emphasis on lifestyle and interiors but occasionally you get a peek at Flora’s outfits and they are always great, so much so that I saw her wearing a pair jeans in a recent post and they looked so amazing that I asked where they were from and immediately bought them all with in a 5 minutes of her photo appearing, isn’t social media super?. In case you were interested they were the High Rise Wide Leg Jeans from Gap which are now on sale, completely out of my comfort zone but I adore them.

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I really looking forward to what Autumn/Winter brings in the world of fashion and am so pleased I have discovered these woman who inspire me. For the first time ever, in all of my 43 years, I am thoroughly enjoying buying new clothes and trying new styles.

 

 

Lucky that my breasts are small and humble So you don’t confuse them with mountains

My name is Miriam and I have rather large breasts, they can make my back ache, my shoulders can hurt from the straps and they cost a small fortune in bras. However, I know that this doesn’t have to be the case all the time and properly fitting bras and undies can make the world of difference to posture, mood and attitude. Added to these reasons is the fact that after 43 years I have learned to love my breasts. I no longer view them negatively, as the cause of great uncomfortableness due excessive male attention and cat calling, non stop bouncing when moving in excess of a fast walk, the need to buy tops 3 sizes larger than my bottom half, they are not horrid appendages that I cover up but are part of me, and right now I really like me. So in celebration I recently cleared out all of my old underwear and repurchased nice new properly fitting bras and knickers, lots of them. Out went the bras that sort of fit but I kept having to heave them up to avoid the 4 boob situation and out went the knickers with holes in as well. My boob size has whizzed up after being on such a large amount of meds, bloating, steroid weight gain etc, but despite having lost some of the gained weight my boobs firmly remain a 36G (see feature pic where my cup size would fit me as a hat). It wasnt cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But I am lucky enough to have a boyfriend who was so fed up of listening to me complain about my uncomfy bras that he gifted it all to me. I shopped online at both Bravissimo and Figleaves, sticking with the brand Freya for sets and some Panache knickers.

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Same as above but in Sand

 

If you are bra buying then I would highly recommend Rigby and Peller, the Regents Street branch, the staff are a delight to encounter and the bras spectacular. You don’t get physically measured they look at your boobs and make their prediction, and they are always right, but I can no longer afford £80 plus for a bra though they are wonderful.

John Lewis are my general go to for measuring and fitting, good array of D+ bras, excellent service and very informative. But when I was pregnant the lady flatly refused to let me have an underwired bra……she clearly did not know the agony of carrying around these puppies and a huge tummy, I am only 5ft 2 (and a half). I ended up with a big mono boob, sweaty and vile, for the whole pregnancy. I should have just bought what I wanted but it was my first (and only that lasted more than 12 weeks) pregnancy. What did I know!!

Bravissimo are also rather good. In fact they were, and remain, the company who are dedicated to larger busted ladies, their clothes range is wonderful too, though a little out of my price range. I particularly like the fact that in each dress size they also specify Curvy, Really Curvy or Super Curvy in order to accommodate boob size. Their motto is “Clothing designed with your boobs in mind.” The fit is excellent, I have a three of their dresses that I bought a few years ago for weddings.

I have had terrible experiences at Marks and Spencer’s when it come to bra fittings, at multiple stores, such a shame. I have also found that their plain cotton knickers just don’t seem to be as well wearing as they used to, the material also seems a little thiner.

As I now live in the sticks and have no desire to schlep into London on the weekend since I do it for work all week, I have taken to measuring myself, and quite sucessfully, though be warned, the same bra size in different brands can come up significantly different. I found this out a few years ago when I was first measured at Rigby and Peller. This is mainly why I stick to Freya, they are true to size, exceptionally comfortable, pretty, not those huge matronly looking things that used to be the only options, and they are reasonably priced. I orderd some Panache bras in the same size and they were simply huge, so back they went.

I also sleep in a bra, yes, an underwired one. It is so uncomfortable for me not too. But I also have a couple of lycra bra tops I sleep in though admittedly the support isn’t as good.

Having spent a small fortune I decided to look after the bras properly, this involves hand washing them every 2 or 3 wears with a liquid for delicates. I’m going to get as much use of these comfy perfect garments as possible.

I must add that it is a mystery to me that, when I already have such a large chest, so many bras in my size are essentially padded. I have no desire to minimise my chest size but neither do I wish to enhance it with an additional bulky layer. But each to their own.

And I wonder if you know How it really feels to be left outside alone

Duvet days

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Baby Lulu helping Mummy out with the guest list at Fabric

A friend of mine from Instagram recently posted the following quote ‘main caption above recently. She is a fellow spoonie, a fellow endurer of autoimmune disease and chronic pain and fatigue. Her post got me thinking a lot about how being so unwell really changes ones relationships in a way that can be really hard to deal with, from both sides. I spend my time either at work or at home, there are no other destinations for me these days. I am too tired, too sick, in too much pain. This is not how it used to be. I have spent half a life time working in clubs, I am a naturally sociable and curious person, I like being out and about, meeting people, talking, eating out. Having fun.

If I thought having baby might curtail these activities (it didn’t really, my ex husband and I just let Lu slot into our lifestyle, with a few less ‘out until at dawn’ scenarios) then it had nothing on that the impact developing fibromyalgia had on my life.

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Pimms in Nottinghill

I understand that at times friends don’t ask me to go places because they know I won’t be able to and I imagine that they don’t want to put pressure on me or make me feel bad when I decline. I cannot cope without rest, lots of rest, so that does put a stop to evening afterwork shenanigans. This has also meant that I don’t make plans anymore, ever because I have had to cancel at the last minute more often than not as my illness varies greatly day to day, I could be fine one day and then barely able to walk the next. I hate hate hate feeling like I have let people down so now I just don’t make any plans. I spend my evenig and weekends with my mum and my daughter. I know it probably isn’t hugely healthy, that I should be with friends, to let off steam, chat, be ‘me’ but we don’t always get to do what we want. I know I am doing my best.

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Lunch at the Oysterage in Orford, Suffolk

I’m not trying to do anyone a disservice, maybe the people who don’t ask me just don’t wat t see me, I can accept that! But for those who do like me, it is really important for me to still be asked to spend time with you, it makes me feel valued and wanted and all those things we are never meant to rely on other people for but we do. Each time a friend invites me to do something, knowing that I will probably say no or cancel at the last minute, it makes me feel really included which is so important when one has an illness that can be so debilitating and isolating.

So please, if you have a friend who is unwell, be it depression or any other illness, please remember, when they say no to an invitation, don’t be hurt, don’t vow to not bother again, it matters that you asked, it matters so so much.

 

Let’s find a cozy nook Beside a babbling brook

I haven’t really wanted to write for the last few weeks. Every day brings more awful news and no words I have can do the events justice, so I have done the sensible thing and remained quiet. However, Lulu and I did have a lovely little mini break a short while ago and I wanted to write about that, particularly now as it brings me very happy memories.

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Huge deck chairs

As a single mum I am the one that makes Lu do all the boring unfun things like homework, and going to bed and brushing her tangled hair. She witnesses the mundanity of domestic life on the weekend , when we can spend time together, as I work full-time the week nights are pretty much, homework, bath, bed. However she recently asked if we could go away to a hotel, just her and me. I have no idea where the thought came from but it sounded like a great plan, a mini break for us both. Away from the distractions of boring home life.

I needed somewhere close by so the drive didn’t exhaust me, also as I won’t drive when I have taken my painkillers so I was limited distance wise. I was originally quite taken with the Cotswolds, about an hour and half from our home. Cute little villages, just right for a stroll,  a place that did good food so we didn’t have to fend for ourselves but as my online search continued I came across the The Great House at Sonning in Berkshire and the plan changed. It was perfect, on the river, beautiful looking rooms, lovely restaurant menu, a bar with loads of sofas for pre dinner cocktails and a luscious looking deck chair strewn lawn leading down to the river. I managed to nab the last room on the Saturday night I wanted and opted for the more expensive river view room (£180) as a treat for us. It is also worth noting that at the moment there is no two night minimum stay at the weekend which makes it a much more affordable option for a jaunt away. I also requested that a bouquet of flowers be left in the room for Lulu as it was our first mini break together and I wanted to spoil her, the lady on the end of the phone was incredibly helpful and indeed the bouquet from Sonning Flowers (£30) that we arrived to was perfect for a 6-year-old girl. I booked dinner for the evening and breakfast the next morning, having discussed my Coeliacs disease requirements (gluten free food). The lady I spoke with was completely unfazed by my food requirements and that is always a good sign, much better than the ‘you’re what?’. An immediate anxiety attack follows that comment.

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Lu was particularly taken the picture of the stag, there were more lining the hallways

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Bathroom of dreams…those tile though

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My favourite part of a hotel room? the air conditioning or fan

I dropped the mini sausage dog off with my partner, dogs are allowed – woohoo – but I wanted to give Lulu my undivided attention, and he gave us a lift to the hotel as I was flagging a bit. We arrived for check it at about 3.30pm, the weather was picture perfect, sunny and blue skies. Check in was painless and we took our bags up to our room which was just as lovely as the website photos and the best bit? A fan in the room. Lu was thrilled, a massive bed, the big tv, a lovely spinning desk chair, a shiny bathroom with a shower so big that lu could lie on the bottom and present to swim. There were also jars of sweets, biscuits and fresh milk in the fridge.

Lu is as impatient as I am and after admiring the room and opening the windows off we went to explore the bar. At this point I must say that out room was over what turned out to be the resultant and outside dining terrace so there wasn’t much of a river view, save a sliver in the distance if you stood up tall, and the noise of the customers kept me awake during the night as it was so hot I kept the windows open, however I was so disturbed that eventually I relented and closed them. I did mention this to reception when I checked out so do be mindful where your room is. The other half of the building over looked a second beautiful lawn leading down to the river that is used for private functions though you may run the risk of being kept awake by the tradition wedding disco.

 

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I had the very same ballet bag when I was little

The bar and restaurant is called the Coppa Club and seems to manage to be all thing to all men very well. A lovely chrome bar with stools and an amazing cocktail and wine list. Comfy sofas for lounging and there are beautiful old paper backs scattered around for you to browse. As Lu and I sat at the bar drinking lemonade and drawing in her colouring book the rest of the bar consisted of ladies lunching, people working on laptops, families and couples drinking Pimms. Lu decided we needed to move to the beautiful velvet sofas and I took the opportunity to confirm our dinner booking and my gluten free status. After a while we ventured out onto the lawn with our drinks and relaxed in the deck chairs, listening to the music playing at just the right volume for me, people watching and admiring all the dogs in attendance. There was a bar outside which  had a BBQ going should you be minded. Lu was not a fan of the deck chairs and made us move twice. I add that the place was packed, we were lucky to get seats. There was also a wedding reception taking place on the next lawn, the bride was having photos taken by the river and she looked gorgeous. Lu loves a bride, I think she is quite taken with the ‘princess’ concept. So we admired her for a while and then decided to get dinner early. The restaurant staff were utterly charming. We were seated by the open doors to the terrace with was perfect as it was still so warm. Our waitress talked me though the menu and Lu got her own menu. We both opted for streak and chips. I had a crab linguine to start, Lu went off kids menu and had broad bean and feta humus – not a hit with her. However our mains more than made up for it, they were absolutely delicious. Mine came with huge grilled mushrooms and Lu and I cleared our plates. She drank a coke, which she had been looking forward to since I had made the booking, such treat for her (mean mummy) and I had a Seedlip and Fentimans tonic. Seedlip is a delicious non alcoholic spirit, a bit like gin. It was delicious, icy cold and refreshing. A fantastic substitute for alcohol, I gave up drinking over 3 years ago, but there is only so may elderflower presses that a gal can drink.

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Outstanding food and such good prices

Pudding for Lu was ice cream and for me a butterscotch pot with salted caramel. It was sensational, Lu and I were literally fighting over the empty shot glass it had come in. I shall be asking for the recipe. Then Lu wanted a cuddle so clearly it was time to go to bed. We had a fabulous shower, with the most enormous rain shower head I have ever seen. Then into bed to watch Over the Hedge on the iPad.

After a less than restful sleep – see note above about room location – but  superbly comfortable bed we awoke to the horrible news about the Tower Bridge and Borough Market attacks. I made a few phone calls to ensure that everyone I knew in the area was ok and since it was plastered across the TV and had the great pleasure of explaining to Lu, in language that will not terrify a six-year-old, that again, after the Manchester Area ‘fire’ some people have done some very bad things and some people had been hurt. We then called nanny, who live in Greenwich to make sure she was ok and for Lu to tell her all about the incident.

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Breakfast on the terrace, we felt so sophisticated

The sun was blazing so we had breakfast on the terrace. There was no porridge which Lu had been looking forward to – though she never eats it at home – so being my child she ordered a plate of bacon and a fresh strawberry cocktail. I had a salad of watermelon with yoghurt, lime and coconut which was fantastic, and of course – coffee. The terrace was extremely comfortable, cushions, throws, anything you could want. We had let time get way from us while we were watching the news and so packed up quickly after breakfast and lazed around on the lawn again, this time on bench which Lu much preferred and waited until we were collected and whisked off of a lovely family lunch.

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Lu dressed as Dorothy. She loves a dress up outfit

The other slight disappointment, apart from the noisy room, was that the hotels website picture gallery showed children river swimming and Lu and I were rather excited by this, we even brought our swim suits. However, when I asked at reception they said they hadn’t heard of anyone swimming in the river, I had to bring up their website on my phone to show then the photos but still nothing.

 

As a complete aside, and by a very strange coincidence, I have actually been to that hotel twice before when it was in its old form, both times with my ex husband, for a huge family birthday party and then for a family wake. It had not occurred to me it was the same place until we turned not the car park, small world huh?

The Great House underwent a huge refurbishment last year and looks nothing like it did.

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One of the many cute dogs we encountered

Lulu and I had a wonderful time, all the staff were simply delightful and made us feel so welcome, we even go smiles and waves as we left the car park. I would go back and stay in a heartbeat. I am very envious of the locals, they get to pop in whoever they want. However, it does seem to be a great place to hold a wedding……

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Saturday night at the movies

Well actually it’s a Friday night and the film is watched at home…

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I am one of those people who can never decide if I like routine in life or if that gets too dull and I need to mix it up a bit. So, I have come to the conclusion that having a few traditions is nice but too many makes life feel prescribed. The beauty of having Lu is that I can now start to invent lovely new family traditions for her and me, probably a reaction to my somewhat flux filled childhood, but whatever the reason one of the things that Lu and I do together is our Friday Film Night.  She chooses the film, but to avoid having to watch the same Barbie film each week I usually preempt it by ordering a film from Amazon that I can bear to watch happily. This means that I can revisit some of my childhood favorites. Recent screenings have included- Labyrinth (when Bowie died), Pinnochio – which neither of us liked, Despicable Me 2 – again, The Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory, Top Dog – a dreadful American childrens film about a sausage dog race which I may be forced to ‘lose’ lest she makes me watch it again. There has also been a variety of Barbie films (I bought a box set, I know!) which aren’t that bad really. My GP told me that Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses was her favorite (most bearable) when her kids were little, I love my doctor.

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I  make popcorn (in the microwave, I’m not that good) and I order those cardboard cinema popcorn boxes online so we have the whole experience but before the popcorn Lu and I have a bubble bath together, get into our pyjamas, light some candles and light the open fire if it is chilly. Then have a little carpet picnic made up of all the things she has requested that I buy from M&S on the way home from work. Usually hummus, carrots, chorizo slices, cherry tomatoes and crisps. As Friday is also Lulu’s Sweetie day (mean mummy, sweets only on the weekend) we usually end up with Percy Pigs too. It is the best time, I relish it, and she is always so excited about Fridays because of it.

If I am having a bad day illness wise and am just too tired and overwhelmed we get into my lovely super king size bed and watch the film on my TV or the IPad, and have our little picnic there. No damn illness is going to spoil my time with my baby.

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A slight caveat; Lulu now does Beavers on a Friday night from 6-7.15pm so we have a Saturday or Sunday Movie Night instead. But never fear, she still gets her sweets on a Friday.

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Sometimes I let my mum join in…

This is it, this time I know it’s the real thing

No, this isnt about love, its about something far more important. My PhD. I wrote a little while ago about having to give it up after many years of planning and one short term at uni. At the beginning of this year my Supervisor sat me down and did some honest talking – my favourite kind. I really wasn’t well enough to get all the required work done and was already behind – arghhh, so she said “Take some time off, get better, come back and start again.” So I listened to her. I wept a bit, but I completely agreed. In fact I was so distraught that I went for a run – I know!!!! Clearly I was out of my mind with sadness and confusuion..

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Just wanted to post cute pics of my puppy

The idea was always to start again this September but I must be honest and say that there have been many times when I felt that it would be impossible, that I wasn’t really improving very much health wise and that I would never be able to do it. I want to be realistic and I feel a little pressurised, all self inflicted. If I started again in September and it doesn’t work out and I have to give up again it will be the absolute end, I just won’t be able to muster the energy to contemplate a third attempt.

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Sleepy puppy

But I am feeling a little improved and being realistic this may be the best I ever get health wise, it could get worse or better but I can only deal with the here and now. So I had a chat with my liver Consultant, who I have been seeing for may years, and he said “just do it, it will be fine”, so I emailed my Supervisor last week and said “please have me back” and she said “of course”.

I have no idea what will happen between  now and September but at the moment I am feeling really really excited about going back to uni. Of course I shall still be working full time, I am still a single mum but that is all fine with me, I’ve taken those things into account, it will be hard, it would be for a completely well and able person, but I am ready. Now, if only I hadn’t spent all my refunded fees money on clothes and expensive candles to cheer myself up!

Ps The images of Livia. my mini sausage, has nothing to do with the content of this post but who doesn’t love a cute puppy picture?