Why ?

Why do I blog ?

It started a few years ago during a quiet spell in work, we were talking about our ages and things we wish we’d done by ‘now’ and it led to the 50 things list.

One of the things on the list was to start a blog, the original idea was that I would write about the challenges and the fun we had along the way, what I never expected was that life would throw some very difficult challenges my way, and that blogging would be one of the hardest things to do.

When I first started out it was easy, lots to write about, lots of ideas, but then life closed in and writing about it was really tough, so I found myself not doing it. However now, I’m in a better place, emotionally, and am enjoying setting myself time and routine to write about ‘me’ again.

Unfortunately the list was put on hold the last year or so, whilst I was looking for regular employment and concentrating on a stable family, and emotional life. Time is passing quite quickly so with only a few years left before the big 50 hits it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the remaining ‘to do’ and have started making plans for some eventful experiences this year, although looking at the list I’m pretty certain some of these will never be done, so do I change the list, or leave them blank and unfinished ? and if I change them, what would I change them to ? Some of the challenges are very singular and I’d like, if possible, to make them a little more family based.

What do you think ? To change or stick ? Do I write a new list based on current circumstances, or wait until after the big birthday and start a new list ? Too many decisions… please help !

 

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A day at the opera

I’ve always loved the ballet, the music, dance, grace and beauty but recently I’ve been seeing adverts and posters for opera performances, so for my birthday last year I was given tickets to see a filmed, live performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly from Glyndebourne.

We arrived at the beautiful Liverpool Philharmonic, and was greeted with a cold glass of Prosecco and  shown to our seats. The performance began, and from the opening of the first act to the interval everyone was mesmerised.

The costumes, stage settings, music and singing were beautiful. It was simply stunning. The performers were perfectly cast, Lieutenant Pinkerton had a very American soldier look, the marriage broker was very slimey, Cio-Cio San, the Geisha (Butterfly) had so much emotion, it was wonderful. Although I’ve never seen either this or Miss Saigon before I was aware of the story, and whilst it was sung in traditional Italian we did have the benefit of English subtitles.

During the interval we had a choice of a staying and having the full Glyndebourne experience with an indoor picnic or could venture out. We chose to pop across the road to an Italian restaurant and had an Italian Antipasto and Arrabbiata prawns with flat bread. It was delicious.

Then back for Acts 2 and 3, again the acting, singing and emotion was breathtaking. The lady next to me didn’t know the story and was very grateful when I handed her a tissue near the end. The experience was something I am looking forward to repeating, and will try at some point this year to see a live performance.

I would say, for anyone unsure about ballet, opera or even classic theatre the live screenings are a great introduction, especially for children. You get a look backstage, some insight into the production, cast, characters and story line.

A little about me …

There are often these lists floating about on social media, and usually I don’t complete them, but love reading people’s answers, you learn surprising facts about people you think you know quite well.

I thought it would be a good way for you to learn a little about me.

  • Who are you named after : I am named after an elderly lady my mum knew. Unfortunately just after I was named the Gilbert O’Sullivan song – Clare was released and it became a hugely popular name. Personally I don’t like it, but not sure what I would prefer to be called. 
  • What is your favourite meal : I enjoy flavoursome food, strange thing to say but let me explain. I love chilli, ginger and garlic. I love Indian, Italian, and Thai food. Well cooked, well seasoned food. I can’t abide coriander, lemongrass and mashed potato. 
  • What is your favourite smell : I love the smell of newly cut grass, of lavender in the garden, lilies and tomatoes in the greenhouse, but my most favourite smell is my freshly showered boy snuggled up next to me watching tv. 
  • What was your favourite holiday : A difficult question to answer, I’ve been very lucky to visit some wonderful places and many I would love to return to for various reasons, but there are so many places still to visit. However there are two places that I will definitely return to again, India and Italy. I love India and have been a few times, the last time I was 6 weeks pregnant. The people, food and country are amazing, so many temples, shrines, cities, and beaches to see. Italy is beautiful, and where I was married. A country of historic cities, Rome, Milan, Venice, Verona, and my favourite Florence.
  • What is your favourite book, author and/or genre : I’ve always loved thrillers and horrors, Stephen King is still a firm favourite but over the last couple of years I’ve discovered Liane Moriarty, I’m not sure what genre these books would fall into but she is a wonderful storyteller with characters full of warmth and life. I have laughed and cried during these books, they leave you feeling like you’ve made some new friends and wanting to know them more. 
  • What is your favourite ice cream flavour : I love a really good vanilla ice cream, a honeycomb, last year I had a gorgeous rhubarb and ginger. 
  • What was the last movie you watched : Aquaman (in the cinema) and all the Spiderman films (not my choice – at home) 
  • What is one thing you like about yourself : I’m a caring person and will try and help anyone, if I’m able, or get help and advice when I can’t help directly. 
  • If you were a crayon what colour would you be : Without doubt I would be purple.
  • What is your hair colour : Light brown, with lots of  hidden grey (with help).
  • What is your eye colour : Brown 
  • Coffee or tea : I discovered a few months ago Moroccan mint tea in a restaurant, they make it themselves, after chatting with the owner she gave me the name of a few brands that have a similar one, my favourite is Tea People Moroccan mint, its a loose leaf tea so you can add as much as you wish to make it weaker or stronger. I’m avoiding coffee, only because I prefer it  with sugar and am trying to be good.

So that’s a little about me. Anything else you’d like to know feel free to ask, however I reserve the right not to answer…

 

The best day of my life.

I was inspired by a friends blog to write about my own experience of the best day of my life. The day my son was born.

It was not an easy pregnancy, from three months the morning sickness began, only it didn’t limit itself to morning, it was morning, noon and night. Some days I left work, went straight to the hospital to be given injections and put on a re-hydration drip. On a good day I would be home in a few hours, others I was kept in overnight.

At twenty weeks I went for my routine scan and discovered two things, first I was having a boy and second I had a low placenta. They said it may move as the pregnancy continued and not to be too concerned. However that changed very quickly. Two weeks later I began to bleed. After a couple of hours of waiting, the bleeding stopped and I got to hear my boy’s heartbeat. Everything was fine but the placenta had pulled further down and this meant a C-section would be needed, eventually.

Things settled down for a few weeks and was progressing as expected, even the sickness stopped.

Then, with two months to go everything went into free fall.

Sitting at home one afternoon watching television I had the strangest sensation, like a rubber band had snapped inside and then the bleeding really started. A quick phone call to the maternity unit and my mum and I made a quick dash to the hospital and was admitted to the delivery suite.

The placenta had started to come away and I was in slow labour, they had to stop this as quickly as possible. Within an hour I was hooked up to numerous drips and machines, on total bed rest and fifteen minute observations. I was given steroid injections to boost babies lungs, and gave me a dead leg. Thankfully the intervention worked and the contractions stopped, as did the bleeding, and through it all my little man was totally fine, oblivious even.

I was moved onto the long term stay ward, with three others in a similar situation. For the next two weeks I wasn’t allowed out of bed, and had to be taken to loo in a wheelchair. After this I was allowed to get up but not off the ward. Every day I got to hear my boy’s heartbeat and every other day I had a growth scan to ensure he was doing well, and he was.

The problem was that I wasn’t doing so well. My white blood cell count had gone through the roof and they couldn’t understand why. This was putting extreme strain on my kidneys and liver, by the end of three weeks in hospital my consultant was really concerned. Although the baby was doing well, if left much longer I was at risk of kidney failure and serious lifelong problems.

On the Monday they came to discuss options and after a bit of negotiation we agreed on Thursday for a planned C-section, however I was to have blood and urine tests twice daily and if things deteriorated further then I would go straightaway.

So twenty-eight days after being admitted I was to have my baby !

On the Thursday morning, I went and had a shower, changed into the lovely backless theatre gown and paper knickers, then mum and I walked down to theatre. First I had a quick scan for them to take further measurements and make the finally decision. It was one I was dreading, epidural or general anaesthetic. I was hoping for the first but it wasn’t to be. Unfortunately the placenta was once again causing issues and stem bleeding and keep control of the situation it was better for me to be under a general anaesthetic.

The short walk to the theatre was going well until the nurse said ‘say bye to your mum’, it was as if she’d told me I’d never see her again, the nerves kicked in and the tears began. The poor anaesthetist spent the next five minutes trying to calm me down enough to take deep breaths without sobs and snot getting in the way. Then off to sleep I went…..

A good few hours later I woke up on the ward, baby-less for the first time for seven months. He decided to cause his own chaos on arrival, he went from being perfectly happy and healthy to his lungs collapsing and being resuscitated within a few minutes. He was transferred to the special care baby unit (SCBU), put on oxygen and into an incubator and being fed via a tube through his nose. I had to wait until the following day to see my beautiful boy. Once I was allowed out of bed there was no stopping me, I would have breakfast then disappear down to SCBU until they threw me out in the evening. I could only touch him for a short time through the port holes in the incubator, it made changing nappies (especially dirty ones) interesting. Feeding was small and often, 2ml of milk pushed slowly down the tube into his stomach every hour. Too fast and he was sick, too slowly and he got gassy. That was when he wasn’t pulling the tube out ! He was naughty from day one….

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By day five, I was at breaking point, all I wanted was to hold my boy. The hormones kicked in and the tears and sobs arrived. The nurse was an angel and knew instantly how to solve the issue. It took around ten minutes of changing tubes, replacing equipment but finally I had my baby. I had my first and the best cuddle ever. The nurse said the first contact should be skin to skin as this helps both mother and baby regulate bodies and bond.

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Boy did it work, within two days he had really improved. His oxygen levels stabilised and he was out of the hot room and breathing independently. After twelve days we was up on the ward with me and exactly 14 days after being born we came home. He was closely monitored for the first year but never looked back, I however deteriorated as the year went on. Blood clots and Graves disease (caused by the pregnancy) meant almost seven years of treatment and operations and finally now, 12 years later I’m healthy again.

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It was the most traumatic time of my life, has given me some of my greatest problems to overcome but I wouldn’t change it or him for anything.

 

 

 

 

The allotment so far…

2018, the year of the sunshine and heat. For us it was the year of the tomato !

The beginning of the year was snowy and cold, which meant digging and getting the plot ready for what we wanted was almost impossible but then the weather changed in quite a dramatic fashion, from frost and snow to tropical temperatures and hose pipe bans.

At the start of the year we had a few very large beds, which I found difficult to manage and wanted to make into smaller, easier to work from all sides without walking over. However with the lack of time it was easier to leave a few covered and just work on half the plot.

A couple of these we sectioned off and two we left and planted rows of potatoes, let them do the hard work for us.

 

The first things to be planted where the garlic, onions and shallots. However we lost 3 patches of garlic to the fox, who very strangely kept digging it up. The sweetcorn vanished, probably mice but then a few months later sweetcorn appeared and grew in a totally different bed on the plot, so maybe they just borrowed it ! I was given some Brussels sprouts and broccoli seedling plants from a neighbouring plot holder, neither of us had ever grown these before, so we just put them in and watered along with everything else and bingo, it worked.

Everything in the greenhouse went bonkers, the tomatoes produced so many that we haven’t bought any over six months and still have a freezer full. The chillies also over produced and even giving bunches away we’ve got enough to last another year. I made a mistake of planting a few too many courgette plants and we had so many that my mum made a few trips to my Auntie’s cafe with them, as well as giving them away to friends and neighbours.

I got a couple of pumpkin plants and a butternut squash, neither of which I had grown before, but thought they would fill a large area easily and anything they produced would be a bonus. And produce they did, we got enough pumpkins for a decent Halloween carving plus one small butternut squash, which feels more like a family member than a food stuff.

We put in two ponds (one preformed plastic one, and one an old bath) and started planting flowers and bushes around to encourage wildlife into the plot. The fencing was rescued from a skip as the church next door was having it replaced. It’s in good condition and just needed attaching.

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I also found two rose bushes that have been planted for sentimental reasons. One for Phil and the other for my family.

Yellow roses symbolise love, joy and friendship. Pink roses symbolise admiration and grace. So the names and colours are very apt. Oscar’s sunflowers were beautiful, they were the small multi-headed variety and they flowered right up until November.

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At the end of September, once the main bulk of the growing was over, we get spent a few weeks of hard work and started separating the beds into smaller patches and wood-chipping the paths. There’s still quite a bit to do, but it’s looking more manageable and the plans for 2019 are coming along well.

Lets hope for another great growing year ahead.