Category Archives: Uncategorized

Starfish and coffee Maple syrup and jam

IMG_5959

It’s a 2 coffee kinda morning

Last week I posted a photo of two mugs of coffee I had on the train to work which I captioned “Its a 2 coffee kinda morning” and I got a comment from a friend of mine, Helen, a super solicitor, we worked at the same law firm in London. She suggested the unthinkable ‘Have you thought of giving up coffee?’ as she had done so a few years ago and felt much better for it. She did acknowledge that it may be a step too far for me! Wise woman.

IMG_6239

I wish I could remember where this was??

But I did give it some thought. I know it has caffeine in and is generally believed to be not very good for you to have too much but I just can’t think of not having it. I don’t just down coffee for its energy giving benefits, I genuinely love it. I look forward to having my first cup everyday with great excitement (maybe I need to get out more?). I tweet with some lovely coffee aficionados such as @BrianCoffeeSpot and when I go on holiday I always research the local coffee shops in order to find the good ones and make a point of trying them out. Also, since I no longer drink alcohol, meeting for a coffee is a treat and a lovely way to conduct my social life. I realize that one could order a different drink and on the days that I am feeling a bit coffeed out I have Earl Grey tea. Mainly because I am so ridiculously fussy about the tea I drink. It is aways Yorkshire Gold, milk and two sugars and I never let anyone else make it for me. But Earl Grey is okay when out and about. I despise the taste of green tea and oddly enough fresh mint tea gives me a tummy ache.

IMG_1977

A very cute place in NYC

My ridiculous plethora of illness and diseases have meant that I have had to give up a lot of the things that I enjoyed. I gave up smoking ten years ago in preparation for getting pregnant and I gave up drinking three years ago as even one glass of wine would give me a hangover. Not something on wants when single-handedly dealing with a six-year-old. I was diagnosed with coeliacs disease 20 years ago, so am entirely gluten free. Considering the fact brunch and afternoon tea are my two most favourite meals of the whole day and that they are predominately gluten based feasts. I moderate my intake of the nightshade family; tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes as it exacerbates my arthritis, as does orange juice. I don’t eat take aways or pre prepared food. I cook from scratch because I can and I enjoy it. So taking all of these things in to account as well as the absolute pleasure I derive from each mouthful of coffee I think I shall continue to worship at the altar of caffeine a while longer.

2014-09-23_1411493773

Pat Val, an old fav

P.S. Prince – Your purple reign shall never end in my heart xxx

And I know its gonna be A lovely day

Mornings are my nemesis, always have been. I am a night owl through and through, from writing uni essays at 1am, to all the years I spent working in the club industry and the long night shifts as a criminal defense solicitor attending police stations to see clients. I long to be up and at ’em at 5am, doing my sun salutations and journalling or whatever I would do with all the extra time, maybe taking over the world. Though of course I would be so exhausted by 12noon that I would need a lie down but that sort of stuff is frowned upon at my work place. My mum, on the other hand, literally wakes up singing, it irritates me beyond belief. The mornings are for the radio, coffee and NO talking.

I have read lots of blog posts about how to have a better morning, which in turn leads to a better day, and I have really tried to implement the things that I think would work for me and my lifestyle – single mum, chronic illness, commute to London, full time job.  I read a very amusing post recently titled how to get up when your alarm goes off and not hit the snooze button, I scrolled down and it literally said – alarm goes off, you get up, done! Made me laugh. None of this setting your alarm an hour earlier than necessary to facilitate the endless snooze button pressing. My uni friend Caroline reminded me recently that I used to have to put my alarm clock on the other side of my room as when it was next to my bed I had been known to turn it off in the fog of tiredness and go straight back to sleep missing my lectures.  So I have started just not pressing the snooze button, believe me I want to but compared to the anxiety of rushing around fearing being later for work, resisting the urge is worth it.

IMG_3040

I make sure my coffee machine is good to go the night before, fill it with water, clean the milk frother out, who wants to be scrabbling around washing up at 5.30am before your first cup of coffee? And that even if the kitchen is a bomb site then I have at least one cup available. I also make sure that any containers I need for lunch are clean. This next one is for those of us who take loads of meds, or who takes loads of supplements. Instead of popping out the 26 tablets I take each morning and risk making a mistake or missing some, I prepare a dosset box every Saturday morning that lasts 7 days. Basically I have two boxes, split into seven compartments and labelled Saturday to Friday and I fill each one with the days tablets so in the morning I just flip open the relevant day lid and into my mouth goes my pills.

I usually have a big glass of green juice first thing as food makes me feel nauseous. A green apple, 1/3 cucumber, small head broccoli, half thumb fresh ginger, half peeled lemon, half head fennel, 2 sticks celery. But I am lazy and have no intention of peeling, cutting etc first thing so I make up portioned bags of the veg three days at a time so I just grab a bag out of fridge, shove it into juicer and bang, breakfast.

I have also spent many a morning searching for my f***ing keys, as I fondly refer to them. So, as simple as it sounds, I now leave them in a bowl on my dining room bookcase, it is their home. As soon as I walk in the door there they go to rest until I need them in the morning.

See, nothing earth shattering, nothing new, but things that mean I don’t start my day in a right grump. So even if the rest of the day is not a super success, after all I can’t control everything, then at least I know my morning started as well as it could have.

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.

IMG_5936

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!!!

IMG_5940IMG_5945.JPGIMG_5942

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?

IMG_5954

IMG_5956

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