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 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Captain America Marvel X Trainers by Clarks

I spotted these rather cool Captain America, Marvel X shoes for kids at Clarks. I do like a Clark’s shoe for primary school age children, call me old fashioned ’cause I am. Available in infant and full sizes, although sadly only in a wide fitting, which is a shame as Erbie has narrow feet.

Captain America Trainers by © Clarks

Captain America Trainers by © Clarks

Star Wars Christmas Advent Calendar 2018

I know, I know, it's too early to think about Christmas, we have Halloween and Fireworks before then. It's just Smyths Toystore have a rather good offer on the Star Wars Advent calendar this half term, (coupled with free delivery on Lego products over £15) which means you can pick up this advent for under £20 without going anywhere. Lazy - moi? Bargain - oui!

© Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2018 with 24 gifts to build.

© Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2018
...and no I'm not on commission or affiliated with Smyths or Lego (I wish) at all.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

A Winter Wander Around Saint-Michel in Paris

My brother and his wife have a 6 month artist's scholarship in Paris so I popped over for a visit on the Eurostar. Our accommodation fell through at the last minute but we found a great place to stay, just around the corner from Saint-Michel metro stop. 

Saint-Michel metro
Saint-Michel is on the left bank, within earshot of Notre Dame. 

Place Saint-Michel on the left bank.
Hotel Albe was a gem, a great chambre with crisp cotton sheets and a pristine wet room. We were there in February, the weekend before Valentine’s so finding a place to stay at très short notice which was superb and not overpriced was a definite bonus.

Albe Hotel, St.Michel, Paris

 The Seine had risen to bursting point and several metro stations next to it were closed. We wandered around the local area past Notre Dame, most all of Paris is accessible on foot.

The Seine, Paris in February 2018

Notre Dame, Paris 2018
The bells, the bells, in Charles Laughton’s like voice.

Brasserie Esmeralda, Notre Dame, Paris
I love to look up at the buildings in Paris there always seems to be a juxtaposition of old and new, the stately buildings wearing their modern graffiti jewellery, the tree shadows on the side below are painted on.

Tree shadows painted on a building's side, Saint-Michel, Paris

I love a bit of Parisian signage.

No entry accept bicycles - Paris

Breastfeeding Advice - updated

I  am re-posting this rather bossy entry on breastfeeding from 2009.

When I started breastfeeding this theory helped me A LOT and has subsequently been linked to helping avoid colic.

Breastmilk changes during a feed, it starts with thirst quenching fore milk and finishes with thicker hind milk. 
Think of each feed as a three course meal, starter, main and a nice rich soporific pudding (no coffee). If you stop after the first or second course, (i.e mid-feed) your baby and breast will start on the first course again at the next sitting. Lots of fore milk = lots of gas = tummy ache. To avoid this, if baby falls asleep on your breast, wake them up gently by stroking their cheek and getting them to feed a little longer; or if they wake hungry after a very short nap continue on the same breast. 
Don’t change breasts during a feeding session. Only when the next feed is due change to the other breast. You’ll get to know when your baby has had their pudding course as they drop into a deep smiley sleep. 

I drank an infusion of raspberry leaf, fennel and cumin which I got from Neal's Yard, religiously every night before bed. My baby didn’t get colic and rarely fussed or cried. (I was very lucky.)

Drink lots of water, eat well, sleep as much as you can, whenever you can.

Having shared stories with many mum's over the past 9 years, here are a couple of things to check for... if your baby is having trouble latching on they may be tongue-tied, this is when the little bit of skin underneath the tongue is tighter than most and prevents them from being able to suck properly. My friend India, did not find out her child was tongue tied until a dentist informed her when he was having a routine checkup - she had been mentally beating herself up for 8 years about not having been able to breastfeed!

Mari and her husband's first baby cried all the time and threw up nearly everything she drank, it turned out she was lactose intolerant, this took nearly a year for them to diagnose, by which time they were two very tired and wretched parents - although they did go on to have another three!

If you want to breastfeed but the milk just isn't coming, don't beat yourself up, get some formula,  go with what works for you, saying that, a newborn baby has a stomach the size of a marble and initially they do not need much from the breast. An interesting fact, breastfeeding for the first six months your baby only needs the same amount from you, whereas if they were on formula they  need to take more as they grow.

If you are able to breastfeed, but are not keen to be tied to it exclusively, you can supplement a bottle at anytime of day, or especially night, this gives you a rest and your partner time to bond. When I say bottle, this can be expressed, but formula is okay too - go with what feels right for you. 

If your baby is crying, a lot, it could be tummy ache, this could be a reaction to the lactose in some formulas (check the ingredients). Or they may not initially be getting to the hind milk in one feed and are never quite sated. Go with the flow and try not to worry too much. 
Love your boobs for their purpose – although I found it quite an alien experience, I'm glad I persevered.

 Another plus pointed bra - it is heaps cheaper, the only thing I bought was a nice pashmina to wear when I was out and needed to feed Erbie. I did not purchase any maternity wear or nursing bras.

Ask for help, watch youtube videos, find a local lactation consultant or breastfeeding clinic and don't forget you are amazing.

I breastfed Erbie exclusively for 6 months and eventually for a year supplemented with solids, as when I attempted to wean him at six months I discovered he was allergic to casein the protein in dairy but that's another story! 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Save The Bees.

I slipped off my coat in the waiting room after a sunny morning at the allotment and a honey bee flew right out of it. Could have stung me easily but had just been keeping warm, I guess. He flew straight towards the rickety old lead lined windows and started banging against them frantically. I knew my session was about to start but felt compelled to free my bee, I slipped into the chamber and opened a window grabbed a tissue and began swiping my bee towards freedom. Whilst doing this I heard Janis emerge from her chamber to find the waiting room empty. After a couple more provocotive flaps of the tissue my bee found the window and flew off. I closed the window and quick footed it back to the waiting room.

We talked about slipping back into old habits, labelling things, addictive behaviour, and self-hate. Asking why I hate myself is bringing nothing up so how about: ‘What do you hate about yourself?’

Later in the day as I walked the boys back from school I saw a big fat squashed bumblebee on the pavement, next to him another struggled. I put my finger down for him to crawl on and lifted him to the safety of a nearby garden full of Spring bulbs. Erbie's friend screamed in fear, they only sting if they're scared or about to die I say.

I save bees - I don't hate that about myself.

Image: © http://www.lizzieharper.co.uk

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Heart Shaped Stone.

I wake in Erbie’s platform bed, he is next to me, soft with sleep and cuddling bunny. I turn my back to him and curl up putting my head underneath the pillow. I can hear TheGr downstairs getting ready for work - it's 6am. I lie motionless, silently listening, will he acknowledge my existence when he leaves or just lean across me to kiss Erbie goodbye.

I hear him come into the room, feel the bed rock as steps up, he seems cheerful this morning, kissing Erbie and me.

“There are mouse droppings in the bedroom again, can you hoover up today - would you mind?” he asks in his best, polite, morning voice.

“No, I don‘t mind, of course, I will, no problem.” the words tumble out in random order.

He leaves. The house is quiet. a slither of sunshine blasts through under the black-out blind, it’s just before 7am. I groggily manoeuvre myself down the ladder, my is mouth dry, wisps of last night’s argument flickering through my head. The name calling, the tears, insinuations and accusations all seem so futile in the bright morning light.

I make myself a two egg omelette and a pot of coffee and contemplate the condensation on the window. I feel the knot in my chest, like I’ve swallowed a stone, a heart shaped stone, I smile wryly to myself. It’s back.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Art of English Pronunciation

I found this poem today - and adore it.

 THE CHAOS (Study English Pronunciation)

Dearest creature in creation,
  Study English pronunciation.
  I will teach you in my verse
  Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
  I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
  Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
  Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
  So shall I!  Oh hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it! 

  Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
  Dies and diet, lord and word,
  Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
  (Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
  Now I surely will not plague you
  With such words as plaque and ague.
  But be careful how you speak:
  Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
  Cloven, oven, how and low,
  Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

  Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
  Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
  Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
  Exiles, similes, and reviles;
  Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
  Solar, mica, war and far;
  One, anemone, Balmoral,
  Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
  Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
  Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

  Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
  Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
  Blood and flood are not like food,
  Nor is mould like should and would.
  Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
  Toward, to forward, to reward.
  And your pronunciation’s OK
  When you correctly say croquet,
  Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
  Friend and fiend, alive and live.

  Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
  And enamour rhyme with hammer.
  River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
  Doll and roll and some and home.
  Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
  Neither does devour with clangour.
  Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
  Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
  Shoes, goes, does.  Now first say finger,
  And then singer, ginger, linger,
  Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
  Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

  Query does not rhyme with very,
  Nor does fury sound like bury.
  Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
  Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
  Though the differences seem little,
  We say actual but victual.
  Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
  Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
  Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
  Dull, bull, and George ate late.
  Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
  Science, conscience, scientific.

  Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
  Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
  We say hallowed, but allowed,
  People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
  Mark the differences, moreover,
  Between mover, cover, clover;
  Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
  Chalice, but police and lice;
  Camel, constable, unstable,
  Principle, disciple, label.

  Petal, panel, and canal,
  Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
  Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
  Senator, spectator, mayor.
  Tour, but our and succour, four.
  Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
  Sea, idea, Korea, area,
  Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
  Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
  Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

  Compare alien with Italian,
  Dandelion and battalion.
  Sally with ally, yea, ye,
  Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
  Say aver, but ever, fever,
  Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
  Heron, granary, canary.
  Crevice and device and aerie.

  Face, but preface, not efface.
  Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
  Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
  Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
  Ear, but earn and wear and tear
  Do not rhyme with here but ere.
  Seven is right, but so is even,
  Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
  Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
  Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

  Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
  Is a paling stout and spikey?
  Won’t it make you lose your wits,
  Writing groats and saying grits?
  It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
  Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
  Islington and Isle of Wight,
  Housewife, verdict and indict.

  Finally, which rhymes with enough --
  Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
  Hiccough has the sound of cup.
  My advice is to give up!!!

 by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité
(Netherlands, 1870-1946)

My mother would have loved this poem and as it would have been her 82nd birthday today, I am sharing it in her honour. Mum taught me that Cholmondley Featherstonhaugh is pronounced Chummlee Fanshaw (whom I have recently found out was a character created by AJ Carothers) and we all know what a stickler she was!

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

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

“Philately will get you everywhere”

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

“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