Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Spring sprung and summer could be round the corner!

Who let me have a blog? I'm obviously not very good at being in charge of writing one, good job I don't have or hope for massive readership. 

My world has tilted slightly since I last wrote, and things are brighter. In the past 3 weeks our surroundings have come to life; it's amazing how fast things grow when the sun drags itself out of hibernation. All of a sudden the trees are bushy and green, the lanes are beautiful and full of wild flowers, the fields are thigh high with grass and flowers, our gardens are bursting, and it's possible to leave the house without wearing 7 layers under a raincoat. I even shaved my legs in case I progress from rolled up jeans to a skirt (unlikely, given the state of my legs). It all feels sort of symbolic (wanky as that sounds). 

Equally pleased by the slowly improving weather is my fireball child who loves the garden and would happily spend every waking hour outside if her awful mother would let her. She has a new swing in the orchard (hours of entertainment for her but one less excuse to go to the pub for us), and has been "helping" us plant up the pots (the sort of help that leaves plants dead and me exhausted). Her obsession with snails and slugs has evolved from collecting empty shells to poking slugs before making me throw them over the fence - "MAMA DO IT" - and pushing dying (luminous green and foamy) snails back into their shells when the slug pellets get too much for them. Not too much more child endangerment here though, we switched to using wool pellets this weekend!

We've escaped this island a couple more times since our Reykjavik trip; 5 days of early mornings on La Gomera with my mum and a friend, and a long weekend of late nights in Barcelona with no parents and no children. La Gomera was lovely, we stayed in a beautiful Parador, ate good food, drank good booze (wine & amaretto), lazed in the sunshine, and took turns with the toddler. Barcelona was also lovely, but in a very different way. We stayed in a nice apartment in the gothic quarter, ate good food, drank a LOT of good booze (mojitos & cava), hung out with a friend, got tattooed by said friend and forgot we owned a toddler.

Lessons learned?
  • Avoid flying with an overtired toddler at bedtime
  • Avoid flying with a toddler at all if you can help it
  • Always travel with your mum if you can't avoid taking the toddler with you
  • Don't get completely wasted the night before getting a tattoo (every single time so far)
  • Pack more footwear than just your biker boots when you're going to be walking for 3 days straight (even though they look good with absolutely everything)
  • Go back to Gypsy Lou's, the live music was incredible
  • Stay in more Paradors, preferably ones with heated pools
  • You don't have to queue in the insanely long line for the one and only ticket machine for the aerobus if you have cash
  • Eat more pintxos. Drink more mojitos. Get more tattoos.

Other things we have done include, but are not limited to, the following: some friends have come for weekends, we've been to Bristol a few times, seen a couple of things at the theatre, I've been to a funeral and had a lunch with mum and a brother on dad's deathiversary, we've done some stuff in the village (drinks, lunch, pilates), some stuff at ASHA (hobbit party anyone?), some stuff with our friends who live in Cheltenham, had a weekend in Brighton, and a few drinks in our garden. We even managed to eat half a meal outside one night!

Outside of being a mediocre wife and mother, I've been pretty busy these past few weeks and time has flown by. On Mondays the husband and the daughter go to swimming lessons while I go to a printmaking course. It's good but quite frustrating; nothing goes perfectly, there's never enough time to do everything I want to do, and some of the techniques bend my mind a bit (colour layering). I should be able to get a referral for a second term so I'm trying to see this term as a time to learn the techniques and next term as a time to apply them. Less pressure on me = winning. It's already taking quite a lot of self control not to just storm out when my prints don't go exactly as planned... Tuesday and Thursday mornings I've been helping out in the office of the Forest Voluntary Action Forum while F's been at nursery. Not challenging work, but it's helped them and it's helped me to get out of the house.

For the past 8 Wednesdays I've been doing a group 'Emotional Skills' course run by my psychologist (mindfulness mostly). There were supposed to be 8 of us attending the course, but this became 5, and some days we were nearly outnumbered the caregivers - two psychologists and a really fucking annoying CPN. After the first couple of sessions I was ready to sack it off and not waste any more of my time or theirs, but I listened to my CPN and stuck it out and I'm really glad I did. The aim was to come away with a toolbox of strategies and skills to help with strong emotions, and I think that's exactly what I've come away with. Since starting, and learning and practising how to sit with my emotions, I've realised how I'm actually feeling about some things (loss, fear, anxiety, in case anyone was wondering). Just knowing and naming how I feel is way more helpful than only knowing I feel shit in general and shutting down my brain at the first sign of trouble. Things that Katie (my wonderful psych in Perth) tried to teach me are now making sense, perhaps because I'm now in a more receptive place. Some of the vaguely familiar things taught in the course were covered in group therapy while I was in hospital, but I definitely wasn't in a receptive place then.

Now my group has come to an end, and I feel a bit sad about that. It went from filling me with dread to something I almost enjoyed; 2 gentle hours a week for me to work out how to look after myself. I guess it's hard when anything ends, and although this isn't on the same level as saying goodbye to Katie, it has shades of the same sort of feeling.

Back to my busy life... I've been doing some work for ASHA (which somehow resulted in a new friendship with a 71 year old woman and me significantly lowering the average age at a Zumba class) and some work for Artlift (fuck knows how I became a trustee of anything, let alone an arts and health charity), and I finally have some paid work coming up. The paid work is only for a couple of weeks initially and relies on me remembering how to read/write/speak/understand French. No issues there then. Oh, other than not having set eyes or ears on a French person in years or a French book in over a decade. What could possibly go wrong? Technical and legal conversations in a language I don't remember on a subject I know nothing about. Piece. Of. Cake.

A job in the south of France might be nice though, if the Australia thing doesn't work out. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. That's the trouble with leaving it so long between posts; so much happens and so many feelings are felt that it's impossible to separate everything out and write about it in a helpful way. Helpful for me, that is. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh yes. My in-laws are arriving tomorrow. And staying for 6 weeks.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


I need a job. No, I really need a job. Hanging out with a one year old is great and all, but my brain is turning to mush. It's cool being around someone who doesn't care if you shower or get dressed, or judge you if it gets to midday and you haven't brushed your teeth yet. Your morning can consist of nothing more productive than eating breakfast (or throwing it on the floor) and colouring in, and that's totally fine. But I don't think it will be fine enough for me for much longer.

Last weekend was good and productive though. Kane and I left our tiny human with my mum, took a train, a plane and a bus, and spent a few days in Reykjavik. It was gorgeous but man, Iceland is bleak. Freezing and snowy and windy and sunny and rainy and cloudy - in the space of 5 minutes. The real fuckers were the snowy and the cloudy and tragically we didn't get to see the Northern Lights. As luck would have it (or not), they were incredible the night before we arrived and the night we left. Motherfucking weather. Seeing the Aurora is something I will do before I die, so we'll either be returning to Iceland or going to Norway, Sweden or Finland in the not too distant future.

Not hiring a car was an error that meant we were at the mercy of a tour bus company to get everywhere, including from the airport to our B&B at midnight. Changing buses at the bus station was chaotic but we got there in the end and went straight to bed in our 'cosy' room in the eaves. The next morning we were up bright and early for the Golden Circle tour - a tomato greenhouse (hands down the best bloody mary I've ever had, double points for the early hour), Geysir (the original) hotspring area, Gullfoss waterfall (awesome) and Thingvellir National Park where we walked up the rift between the Eurasian and North American plates. Lava fields and geology porn, it was great.

White out conditions = cancelled Northern Lights tour, so we had dinner then went Aurora hunting with some friends. White out conditions = no joy, so we did some drinking instead. Standard. Discovered Opal, an Icelandic drink that tastes like mouthwash mixed with butterscotch, my new fave so not a totally wasted trip.

The next day was FREEZING. We went on a walking tour of Reykjavik and I swear frostbite was imminent when we left the tour and huddled by a radiator at lunch time. In the afternoon we went up hallgr√≠mskirkja (the largest church in Iceland) for an epic view of the city. We had a wander around the flea market, the harbour, a food festival in the gorgeous concert hall, the tourist shops, the Christmas shop (it's a real thing, year round. There are a couple in London too), then headed back to the B&B for a cup of tea and a rest. The Northern Lights tour was, again, cancelled.

Our last morning we had a leisurely breakfast, packed our shit, and went to hang out at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. I'm sure Iceland has billions of hot pools but the tourist buses pretty much exclusively take you to these ones. Possibly the most touristy thing to do in Iceland, but quite lovely nonetheless. The sun came out and the sky was blue the whole time we were in there playing with the silica face masks and having a drink at the in-pool bar. As soon as we left it started bucketing snow! Would have been lush to be in the hot water while it was snowing, but the sun was nice too.  Before entering the water you have to have a naked shower and then get into your togs all wet - there are diagrams on the wall showing you where to wash (everywhere you'd expect). Bizarre.

Friday, 12 February 2016


We're so stuck on firsts that we forget about the lasts. First roll, first tooth, first step, first word... What about the last sleep on my chest, the last time she'll be fed, the last morning cuddle in bed? I know a lot of lasts are a while away, but there are so many and it's starting already.

I love that Freyja isn't a baby any more. Babies are boring and make pretty shit companions day in day out when they are your ONLY companion. Eat, shit, sleep, repeat. I used to love breastfeeding her though, and the last time we did that I didn't know it would be the last. I might have fed a little bit longer, or paid a bit more attention. I might even have taken a fucking selfie, who really knows?

So I'm going to be more mindful (all the rage in the psychiatric world), more present and more patient. I'm going to play on my phone less and read that book for the twentieth time in a row without a grimace. OK, a small grimace when she's not looking. Maybe it will be the last time she wants me to read that story to her. Maybe I'll just be missing the in between; not a first and not a last but everything in the middle.

Before we know it I'll be back to work full time, Freddie will be at nursery and we'll be picking a school. We should probably have put her name down for a school when we first met, and converted to Catholicism while we were at it, but that's a problem for another time - a time a couple of years away. Until then I don't want to miss all the in between, even the stuff that feels shit at the time. I already look back on the past 16 months with my shiny rose tinted glasses firmly on my face. Arguably the worst time of my life but I can find light in all of it. 

Anyway, enough of that crap. Today I went to a pilates in Gloucester in a dingy sweaty room in a dingy sweaty gym, and I went by myself like a grown up motherfucker. It was OK. Made better by the fact that I wasn't the fattest or the worst in the class, but I might have been the youngest by a decade or two. No matter. I got out of the house and did something for me, and I might go back. I might even do some other classes now I've been once and didn't, you know, die or anything.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

In sickness and in health. But there is no health here.

I'm feeling totally un-fucking-inspired.

This week I have mostly been cleaning up sick, courtesy of Freyja who has been a hot mess. I'd never been covered in sick before, and I wasn't missing out - it's not something I'd recommend (let alone 3 times in one night). Now Kane has been struck down with whatever plague Freyja had, or possibly a new plague, but a gross one nonetheless. Since about 4 o clock this morning he's been exploding from both ends and even managed to faint. That was a pretty shit way to wake up - the sound of a tall man falling over in a relatively small bathroom - and then when I couldn't wake him up I did the grown up thing and yelled for my mum. So a pretty rude awakening for all of us I think.

ARGH I came back to this and wrote a sparkling and LONG post and now it's gone. FUCKING GONE.

In short:
- Freyja is still being sick every night. Lots of laundry. She's also not eating, so we're going to try to get an appointment to see the Dr tomorrow (unless she's not sick tonight).
- Kane is fine
- I've applied for a job in Perth
- If we can find work we'll be moving back there after the "summer" here

Friday, 22 January 2016

Brass Monkeys

It's mid-afternoon and it's freezing and foggy and frosty. The crap winter sun can't penetrate the fog to melt the frost (or warm my bones up). Technically, and I like to be technical, it's below freezing. It has warmed up since this morning though, and now it's a balmy minus 2. This weather makes me want to hibernate! It also makes me want to fly straight back to Western Australia and hit the nearest beach with some classy cans of g&t, some tunes, and some trash crime fiction. In my fantasy I'm not lugging a baby and all associated paraphernalia behind me and I'm not on constant drowning alert.

On Monday we went swimming with Kate and her girls. Freddie is too independent for her own good - she can't swim yet and barely floats in armbands yet pushes me away and won't be held or helped until she's under and inhaling water. I must look like the worst person to be in charge of a child with this half drowned rat I keep having to fish out of the water. She hasn't managed to drown yet, but it's exhausting keeping her alive at the pool. I think we're going to sign up for some swimming lessons if they're not too expensive (we bought a car and now we're broke. But at least we have our own car now, we're not total scroungers).

Tomorrow I'm going to bath with 2 of my bestest girls for the weekend. It's going to be amazing (Kane is also amazing, it was his idea for a belated bday present for the three of us to go away for a whole weekend). Probs some drinks on Friday night, Spa and food on Saturday, then some more drinks, then lunch on Sunday and home. 2 nights of beautiful sleep in a bed without a small human! I also get to hang with the girls which is rad. Obvs. The only downside to the weekend is spending a good part of Saturday in a swimming costume. Eep.  I'm dreading this part but looking forward to the pools and massage and roof soak. 

The Body Coach diet is over for me for now. I submitted my first month and nothing had changed - not the numbers on the scales or the numbers on the tape measure - even though I followed to the letter. Maybe it's just not the diet for me, maybe I'm an idiot for being duped by all the amazeballs transformation pictures, who knows? So this week I went to Slimming World and signed up for 12 weeks. I had my first weigh in and stayed for my first "group" which was quite sweet but I imagine it's the same every week so we'll see how often I actually stay. I quite like the accountability of being weighed every week, even if I don't like to be weighed with any clothes on (I imagine the ladies of Mitcheldean wouldn't take too kindly to me stripping off). Nobody else sees your weight apart from the lady weighing you, but they do go round the room and share the losses and gains. I'm not too hopeful for a loss this week which blows, but there's drinking to be done at the weekend. I'll just have to try to make healthy food choices and maybe even stay away from cocktails. Gasp.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


The kid has stopped eating again, which would be just about bearable had she not given up sleeping too. Apparently it's only at home that she looks into your eyes as she drops her food on the floor or throws it across the room; at nursery she's an angel and eats like a pro. At least she's having 2 meals a week, I suppose. She also now appears to be allergic to her toothbrush which makes brushing her teeth hard - we have to hold her down and brush when she opens her mouth to scream. It's awful and I worry that we're doing something really negative, but I've read that dental issues cause the majority of hospital admissions of under 5's. I know, I've read it so it must be true.

Waking up at 4am is getting old really fast. The latest addition to the way-too-early-mornings is waking up around 1am and spending the rest of the night kicking and tossing and turning and crying in our bed. Until we cave and give her a bottle to chew on (again with the sugar in the milk and the teeth and the not brushing and oh my god they're going to rot and fall out way before her big teeth are ready). She then wakes up at 4 and wants to get up and play. Kill me.

Another thing getting on my tits at the moment is this stupid Body Coach "diet". I've done a month of low carb, high protein, high fat (compared to my normal diet) and HIIT exercise, and seen ZERO results. Not a kilo or a cm lost from anywhere. I hate that I was taken in by the before and after shots on social media, and that I spent £147 on a plan that essentially told me to drop carbs, cook from scratch (already did), eat my weight in processed quorn (don't get me started on how shit the veggie plan is, or how eggs and dairy are included in EVERY SINGLE RECIPE of my "allergic to eggs and dairy" "PERSONALISED" plan), and follow workouts on youtube. According to the thousands strong 90 day sss FB group I follow, clean eating and cooking from scratch is a massive revelation (and a massive ballache) for the majority of people on the plan. I wonder if this is why it isn't working for me; my body isn't shocked by fresh ingredients and a bit of exercise. People spend hours and hours prepping their meals for the week ahead because they don't know how to do it any other way! It seems ridiculous. 

I've written to my "coach", who will no doubt send me another email full of copy and pasted paragraphs containing none of the answers to my questions and no reassurance whatsoever. The coaches have no nutritional training as far as I can gather, and the only thing that qualifies them to be coaches is that they've done the plan and love it. I did a year of a maths degree, this does not qualify me to be a maths professor. Just sayin'.

Unless I see some dramatic overnight results (and I won't hold my breath) this will be my last week on the plan. The next cycle is all about gaining muscle and I'm not ready to do that until I have lost some fat (and I have a lot to lose). My next port of call might be Slimming World - thanks to another of my FB groups of lovely ladies losing weight, mostly on SW - but it might not. I'm not sure how much I want to pay to be told to eat healthily and be weighed in front of a room full of strangers. I think I can manage to be accountable to myself, thank you very much, and ritual humiliation isn't my bag.

In other news, I have a girls weekend in Bath planned and I'm really looking forward to it. Spa, massage, wine, best friends. All good. My nutribullet and 4 bags of spinach will not be coming with me, nor will any guilt over wanting to eat an apple or a carrot with hummous. I won't be weighing 17 grams of chia seeds or 73 grams of avocado, or forcing myself to eat 0% Greek yoghurt whilst trying not to gag. Stupid fucking diet.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New year, new me. Or not.

This year, 2016, is going to be better than last year. It has to be. I'm going to get even better, get thin, get a job, get some sunshine and get a life. We might go to Iceland (for a weekend), we might not. We might go back to Freo (for good), we might not. We don't need to decide right now, although I think it's on the cards. I'm trying to be objective and manage my rose tinted hindsight, but it's tough. The decision would be so easy if Australia was a bit closer, and if mum wasn't going to be so far away. We'd have to cope on our own, but that shouldn't be a massive problem as long as I don't get unwell again. 

Oof, lots to think about but there's time. Although at the moment it feels like we're in limbo so it would be nice to have a plan... As nice as it is living here, and we all love it, we are really isolated. I am really isolated. I want good friends nearby, I want to have things to do and places to go and people to go with. 

We saw in the new year with good people. Emma, Kristin and Tony (and Jack and bump) came to spend it with us and there was lots of food and fun and drink and a huge amount of fireworks. Freyja woke us up at 5:20 this morning, less than 3 hours after I got to bed. Managed to get her back to sleep in our bed with milk and she woke us up with kisses and 'mama's and 'dada's at about 7:30 - possibly the best way to wake up to a new year. (I got up even though it wasn't my turn because I'm made of tougher stuff than my husband).

Since Christmas Freyja hasn't stopped saying mama, dada, and nana; it's pretty cute. She's learning some new signs too (which means that I need to learn some new signs sharpish), and starting to play on her own a bit more. All up I think things are getting easier. I'm glad Kane has decided to stay part time at work though, we're so lucky to be in a position at the moment where we don't need him to work full time. It's rare I think for both parents to be able to spend so much time with their child, and Freyja loves it. He's an amazing dad. Also, I like having him around. I feel more secure and confident with Kane here so Freyja isn't the only one benefiting. The thought of Kane working full time at the moment scares me a bit - maybe I'm not so tough. 

What I am is tired. Happy New Year people.