Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Oh my God it’s good to get away.

The calmness has arrived today, it is day 5 of Erbie and my annual visitation to Whitstable, a pretty seaside village on the Kent coast, famous for its oyster beds, great little shops, good restaurants and nice pubs. 

Whitstable in the sunshine 2019

Depending on who you speak to it’s referred to as North (or South) London-on-Sea. We house-sit for someone who moved here after starting a family. The price of their North London flat afforded them a large 4 bedroom house with vast garden in Whitstable, which has since seen their 3 children grow and blossom. 

Earbie and I rose at 8am this morning, straight to the huge trampoline in the garden for a bounce, and here I am.

The weather has been pretty meh, but are we bothered? No we are not.

We took a bus to the Wildwood Trust, in Herne Bay, on Monday, to see the wolves. Erbie was a wolf in his end of primary production, ‘Into The Woods’ and he wanted to meet his brethren – I’d say he was a method actor.


The Wildwood Trust is set in ancient woodland and keeps its animals in as natural a habitat as possible, there are wild horses, red squirrels, owls, pine martins, deer, otters, wild boar, a huge bison, a wonderful pair of bears which can be viewed from a giant treetop walkway. It is definitely worth a visit, especially as they are a charity and work on conservation of British mammals, they helped to save the water vole, Britain’s most endangered animal. 

Hello deers. Red deer at Wildwood Trust.
Bonus added - as we got the bus, on showing our ticket, our entry was half price making it even more reasonable than it already was. 

Red deer stag, Wildwood Trust
The red squirrels were hiding but we saw a pole cat and her brood of playful kittens and I glimpsed a pine martin. The larger animals were easier to see. There was an elk, and a bear, deer and horses.

Bear viewed from the walkway at Wildwood Trust
We saw the otters swimming and playing which was lovely.

Up to the bear walkway.
There are plenty of friendly informative staff around to point out animals and offer information. We saw an adder and a very large grass snake, the adder being the UK’s only venomous snake.

The walkway above the bears at Wildwood
Erbie saying hello to a red deer.
The adventure playground is excellent. Lots of climbing towers ans slides plus a drop slide whatever that may be. Erbie found out, it’s a high drop onto a polished surface that curves to catch you and turn your fall into a slide. You literally have to throw yourself off the edge, which Erbie did. Very ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’

Here are some rather bad pics of the rather fabulous playground.

Excellent climbing towers and slides

Wildwood Trust playground
Climbing wall at Wildwood
Wildwood playground interlinking towers and slides.
Erbie enjoying the playground.
I'm not too old to slide yet...
The Wildwood fort
Also for smaller children.
The very hungry slide at Wildwood
All in all it was a rather fantastic day out. There is also a nice cafe and a gift shop, plus you can book unique animal experiences on their website

Meanwhile as I type, here in the kitchen, there is a ginger cat, that Erbie named Smoky on a previous visit. He doesn’t belong to the house but is often in the garden. 

Erbie with Smoky in the garden
Smoky has just come in, walking over my laptop and turning Siri on - as is a cat’s want. 

When Smoky sits, I hear violins
Actually this was his want!

Thirsty cat.
Smoky was looking in an empty vase on the windowsill, so I determined he may be thirsty. He turned his nose up at the bowl of water I offered him, as some cats instinctively know running water is more likely to be fresh…I turned the tap on.

Today looks like being cloudy again, we might check out the local pool later.


Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Menopause. Periods. Mummy’s hormones.

I’m menopausal – there I’ve said it. 

I’ve been menopausal for about 4 years (I think) and probably peri-menopausal for a lot longer than I realised. 

The wrong side of 40

I’m 50. 

When people found out I was going to be fifty they said things like: ‘welcome to the dark side’ or ‘the wrong side of 40’. I don’t think I look 50. People say I don’t look my age but what does looking your age mean? Why do lots of women worry so much about looking over 50? Hell it’s 50 not 90. I know quite a few 90 year olds leading an active life, taking exercise classes and with brains as bright as tacks. Only yesterday I was reading about Anna del Conte - who is still publishing, cooking and agile at 94.

My 47-year-old friend is training for her first IRONMAN triathlon after a back operation 10 years ago.

I took my first yoga class at 49 and have only now decided to change my career from mouse-monkey to gardener. I’m applying for the training course next month.

I’m thinking about coming off of HRT. 

I’ve been on Hormone Replacement Therapy for two years. I'm perfectly happy with it . 

Periods

I had a baby a week before my 40th followed by a year of no periods (whilst I breast-fed) then a couple of normal years period wise, then things started to get heavier. A lot heavier. I ended up bleeding more often than not, I stopped wearing trousers, I never ever wore white and I used tampons and pads at the same time, which was costing me a small fortune. I had to get up and change in the night. The bed sheets were permanently stained. My underwear was always black. I took to wearing leather skirts all the time. I always sat on the edge of chairs. Sex was embarrassing and messy, more so that normal.  I was always tired. I became anaemic.

I researched the Mirena and eventually succumbed. After a 6 month settling in, which included headaches and weird mood swings my periods eventually stopped all together. After the constant bleeding and anaemia I couldn’t have been happier. 

Peri-Menopause

I started waking in the night in hot sweats and I noticed I was being a bit, shall we say, snappy sometimes at home and occasionally out of the home, which made me feel ashamed. 

I suppose it really came to my attention when one of the playground mums commented on the fact I was wearing Birkenstocks in the Winter, (my feet were SO BLOODY HOT ALL THE TIME).  I enquired about HRT and my local GP surgery and was readily informed that I could quite easily start using oestrogen only patches straight away as I already had progesterone from the Mirena. 

I also started taking anti-depressants. 

I put on weight and I really slowed down physically, it became an effort to walk anywhere and whereas before I had been a marcher I now started to dawdle. 

On Bonfire Night a lump under my jawbone popped up. I considered a full on detox.  

A year later a second scan of the lump under my jaw revealed another much smaller lump on my thyroid, which was cancerous and removed along with my thyroid.

That was October 2017. 

In 2018 my 65-year-old sister who had been on HRT from her 40s for nearly 20 years found a lump in her breast. She is having her last dose of radiotherapy this month after a course of chemo and a mastectomy. Her fingernails have started to fall off and she has no hair left on her body. She drinks – who wouldn’t. The nurses mentioned the drinking, not the fact that she’d been on HRT but then I guess that makes her responsible.

I’m thinking of stopping the HRT. 

I’m thinking me in a bad mood and sweaty but being around until I’m 90 might be better for my 10year old than me in a good mood for the next 9 years. 

I have 6 patches left.

I’m also thinking of doing a survey on The Menopause and why it is still a dirty word.

Do you have any questions you think would be good to ask?

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bathtime Blues and London Zoo

I promised myself I would write this year – so write, write, write I will. 

I’ve just got out of an evening bath after a chilly day at London Zoo with Erbie and friends. 

Bored gorillas, sleeping tigers, lions nowhere to be seen, the aquarium half closed and looking tired and old - much like me. Lovely llamas, a donkey, camels, macaws, the highlight was a beautiful troupe of squirrel monkeys, jumping and playing with one another, grooming, climbing and holding hands, miniature evolutionary bits of ourselves distilled in time. 

The kids asked them questions and watched in anticipation to see whether they nod or shake their tiny heads. 

Are you adorable?’

A ripple of awed laughter bubbles from the children as the monkey nods emphatically behind the glass.

The day ends with the obligatory exit through the gift shop, herding the children past shelves crammed with animal shaped pens, keychains and cuddly toys ranging from a lifelike Emperor penguin with chick to attachable tails. 


Cuddly Emperor penguin with chick - £30.00 London Zoo Shop
Attachable Giraffe Tail - £5 London Zoo Shop
Attachable Lion Tail - £5 London Zoo Shop
Attachable Tiger Tail - £5 London Zoo Shop
From my bath I can hear my boys playing zombies with nerf guns, fighting with the lights off. I can hear screeches of laughter and ‘I got you, I got you’.

Meanwhile I lay here thinking what if this was it. 

What if my life was nearly over. What would I recall as the most defining moments from zero to 50. It can’t all be tragedy. In fact, I used to have a pretty positive mindset. I used to proudly say I could not afford the luxury of a negative thought.

Maybe I’m just hungover in the aftermath of Christmas. I feel fear, fear of dying, not the joy of living. I keep feeling imaginary or real lumps in my neck, knotty lymph nodes that I try and talk myself out of believing are the cancer returning. 

Geez get a grip woman. They do say most tube jumpers occur around February, and I'm not talking about chunky knits here, rather the poor souls who leap to their deaths under oncoming trains, leaving the splatter crew to clear up and find their shoes afterwards. 

The shoes always come off. 

I guess the general psyche of humans is brought lower with the light levels in Winter, hence the pagan festival that involves lighting up a tree, or am I confusing pagans with Moonins. 

Presents, lights and a feast with family just after the shortest day on 21st December to chide us through the coldest months, magical. 

Just keep something wonderful in mind to look forward to when the days get longer. Or comfort yourself with ridiculously cute things like this cuddly Emperor Penguin chick from the London Zoo Shop. 


Cuddly Emperor Penguin Chick - London Zoo Shop £8.00

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Lego Superstore, Leicester Square, London and BuildToGive

Erbie, likes his Lego, mainly mini-figures which he uses in various epic battles and for making stop-motion animations. In fact TheGR recently announced that if we added up the value of all the Lego Erbie has in various containers, it would probably amount to thousands of pounds. This being the case we thought we had better take him to the (not so), new Lego store in Leicester Square for a visit. 

Strangely you need to queue before entering, although it was only for 5 minutes, and they employ cheery bowler-hatted staff to talk to you while you wait, it seemed a little unnecessary to me. 

Just inside the entrance was a great Lego construction of Big Ben, who seems to be popping up as our Christmas icon this year.

Lego Big Ben, Leicester Square, London
The stairwell has marvellous Lego murals of London landmarks along the Thames, such as the London Eye, the Chard and the Gherkin.

London mural in © Lego, Leicester Square
As well as Tower Bridge. The Houses of Parliment and Westminster Abbey.

Lego London mural, Leicester Square store, London

Lego London Underground Map
What Erbie loves about visiting a Lego store is getting to build his own minifigures. It is a great way to get pieces you want, such as different hairstyles or accessories.

Build your own ©Lego minifigure
There were some fun models to interact with, such as the Harry Potter sorting hat, Erbie declined the wand offered by a staff member for photo opportunities.

Lego Harry Potter Sorting hat
There were also festive baubles for sale containing a make-your-own Lego reindeer, penguin or snowman.

Lego Snowball mini figure ornaments

Lego penguin holiday bauble £6.99
It being the time for giving - LEGO also have an awesome project RIGHT NOW. 

Build your own Lego Christmas ornament and take it to a Lego store between now and 9th December 2018 or simply share an image of it online with the hashtag #BuildToGive and Lego will donate a Lego playset to a child in need for every ornament but and shared.

To find out more visit the LEGO website: www.lego.com/en-gb/campaigns/build-to-give

All images W1mum, not affiliated with Lego at all.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Mood Tree

Erbie is off school today with a nasty cough and sore throat. He’s pale and quiet. Which more or less sums up how I feel too. 

Fancy a different way to chart how you are doing, how about a tree? Each day is represented with a leaf that you can colour in. For example a ‘mood’ tree could have lovely green leaves for good mood days with a few orange ones for neutral and black for bad... 
Mood tree © W1mum


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

I see dead people.

I’m on a train back to my hometown, Salisbury (now infamous for Novichok) to see an old friend and more expressly to talk to dead people. 

My mum and dad are both buried in Salisbury, as are several generations on either side. My mum’s ashes are under a tree in Elizabeth Gardens, (recently reopened after the latest Novichok scare). I bet she enjoyed the peace and quiet. 

My dad’s ashes are in a local churchyard in Harnham, he died in a car crash when I was three, meaning I more or less grew up with a single parent. My siblings are all at least ten years older, I guess I always felt slightly isolated without knowing it at the time, that all comes with counselling…

My emotional wheels fell off about three years ago and I’ve been trying to put them back on gradually. Prozac helped and Headspace and eventually weekly visits to my ’talky lady’ (thank-you Erbie).

I’m going to be 50 in a couple of week’s time and it feels like a major transition. Hence the journey homeward to see a lady that can commune with the other side. I have a lot of people on the other side. What if someone I don’t want to hear about turns up? What if no one turns up? Which would be worse, I wonder. 

I’m seeking closure I guess. It would be nice not to carry everything around inside, stuff I have pushed down so deeply that etching away the layers has been consistently hard work. I know there are still a couple more places I need to get to. One is making peace with my dear friend, Fiona, whom I lost too soon. I need to say goodbye, so that I may carry my memories of her fondly, she deserves that. 

I need to be able to mourn.  

Harnham churchyard ©WEM






Sunday, 4 November 2018

A Selection of Christmas Baubles - 2018

Every year since his birth, I have bought a Christmas tree decoration with Erbie. This year we went to Liberty in London’s west end to get Big Ben (as the real one is currently shrouded for refurbishment).


Big Ben Glass Tree Decoration - Liberty £6.95

Regent Street Tree Decoration Liberty £7.95

Peace Hand Decoration Liberty £24.95

All of the big London department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges have a section dedicated to Christmas.

Landrover Glass Decoration Harrods  £25.00

Soft boiled egg glass tree decoration Harrods £18.00

Mexican Skull Christmas Decoration £26.00 Harrods

Selfridges is rocking Christmas this year with glass decorations of his purple highness, Prince and David Bowie for your tree plus stars and thunderbolts a plenty. 
Prince - Glass Tree Ornament Selfridges £26.00

Thunderbolt Tree Decoration Selfridges £13.00

Sadly Selfridges David Bowie was sold out before Halloween, I found one online at Trouva, if you’re quick you may still be able to get your hands on him.


David Bowie Glass Tree Decoration 
Trouva:  £14.99


I also love museum and gallery shops in London for Christmas baubles, such as the British Museum, Tate Britain and the Natural History museum:

Wedgewood China Angel Tree Ornament - The British Museum £25.00
Frida bauble £15.00 The Tate Shop
Charles Darwin embroidered tree decoration £18.00 The Natural History Museum Shop
The Royal Palaces also have great shops for gifts and decorations which you can also find online - click on the links in the captions for each one How about the infamous white tower complete with raven or you could award your tree with the order of the Garter. The order of the Garter is the oldest and most prestigious order to receive, first established in 1348.

The White Tower embroidered decoration - Tower of London £10.99

Order of The Garter Embroidered Tree Decoration Royal Palaces Shop £12.99

How about miniature replicas of Kew’s famous Victorian glasshouses to adorn your tree.

The Palm House at Kew Glass Decoration £7.50

The Temperate House at Kew Glass Decoration £7.50

This is a very small selection of what is on offer, from avocados, glass bees, bananas and rainbows to reindeer, you can choose any theme for Christmas this year.





Sunday, 28 October 2018

Perfect top

I spotted this tiny top, which is perfect, as I was contemplating the latest faux-pas from Belle Mere. When I mentioned TheGR had an editing job, she offered to help, saying: ‘you know I write, I can give him all sorts of advice’. The penny didn't really drop until TheGR told me she'd been bumbling on about writing and how much she could help him. Aha, so the fact your son has been working in film for the past 10 years had passed you by. Editing film not editing words. I feel slightly mean posting that, but perhaps it is better to share. 

Here, I share this find: a mustard yellow sweatshirt by La Redoute available in ages 3 to 12 at £11.00 plus postage.
Perfect cotton sweatshirt by © LaRedoute £11.00  
© LaRedoute 


© LaRedoute 

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”
WEM

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”
Clockwise

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle