Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Any tips for pregnancy in France?

I am packed and almost ready to go. I used to be able to speak French - but that was 20 years ago when language revolved around flirtation, fashion and a little feminism for balance. It is two decades later and I am pregnant with a four year old and dodgy hearing.

I am writing a full on pregnancy blog as an excuse to try out loads of new recipes to fulfil my various cravings and on that I was discovering that France may have a slightly alternative approach to pregnancy care and nutrition.

Do they sell de-caffinated skiny lattes? I doubt it, although, to be honest, the Hubster is ashamed to order one in England. In England they notice the bump and you are likely to get steered away from the steak tartar with raw egg - or maybe that is annoying.

I had a quick Google about how to eat while pregnant in France and it seemed a little extreme. Bread and stews seemed to be convenional wisdom. As a consmopolitan girl I am entering this with no fear of 'dodgy foreign' food or anything foolish like that,and I know that in cases of emergency their healthcare is first rate. But all the same, do you have any tips for me?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Planning done - ready for fun!

A few days to go until the adventure begins. Yes, I have been plotting a party for my Mum. It has not been an entirely voluntary thing, the day after she ignored by 40th Birthday she informed me that the plans were up to me. I probably should not open a blog about celebrations with a moan, but I am having a bad day. Pregnancy hormones + lack of sleep + family issues = wobbly moments!

Despite the wobbles I am really looking forward to it. We have about 20 of the Mumster's best friends converging on Paris, the highlight of which will be a soiree at a friends apartment on Saturday. I lived in Paris twenty years ago and have not been back for ten (that makes me feel ancient) and I can't wait to show the Hubster and the Pickle around. I have warned the clan that we may start off in convoy but we will be keeping to a child friendly schedule so will dip in and out of the adult zone.

I have even bought a guide book to Paris giving a child friendly perspective to the city. After all when I lived there I was more likely to be stumbling out of bars to go straight to fashion college in the morning that to be aware of what the under 5s were enjoying.

After a few days of patience in the city we are then indulging the Pickle with princess heaven - and we are whisking her off to Disneyland before returning home.

I think we are all set, I have reconfirmed bookings with hotels, friends and just about everyone and everything. The Mumster is delighted with the plans, her friends are lovely people (not always of my political shade - but genuine and interesting people) and even my big bro has confirmed attendance (under duress, but he has natural charm which will shine when he finally makes his appearance) so all I can do now is mop the floor here ready for the cat sitters to take up residence!

A few more things to sort and a blog entry about my scan and I will be ready to go...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A trip to the consultant - amid cuts and a funding crisis

Heading towards 20 weeks pregnant and the next round of appointments begin. This week it was the consultant and a scan to look forward to. I am quite relaxed about medical matters as I know I will be fine, but please don't let me hear about the medical details.

Seeing the consultant was strange as she read out the highlights of my last pregnancy and birth - there was lots of teeth sucking and tutting and the occasional pitying glance. As the Hubster says,  I am an admin case. After planning a home birth I got pre-eclampsia and ended up by having a C-section (and every step was subject to its own drama) . I remember a consultant coming around to see me a few days after the Pickle was born to see if I was alright, particularly in light of my earlier hopes for a 'natural birth'. I think she was marginally surprised that I was so focused on my view that the birth was a total success, as I had a healthy beautiful baby - so we spent the next twenty minutes giggling at the comic misfortunes that had beset her as a new Mum!

So this time around I am going to be closely monitored. From about 34 weeks I need to have my blood pressure monitored (stern look over the top of the consultant's spectacles) at least weekly. I am not automatically schedules for a C-section, but the consultant assures me that there is nothing natural about a natural birth as we should have been born with zips down our fronts to allow for really easy delivery....make of that what you will.

When I do go into labour I have to go straight to hospital, none of the usual being set away for 12 hours. Then I have to be continuously monitored. That is where the plan may present there are six midwives for twenty Mums in labour and the consultant it concerned about the future. I thought that the government had repeated their commitment to increasing midwife numbers but any hope on that front was very gloomily laid to rest. Best case statistics for successful VBAC births are 70% but at the RBH Hospital it is only 40% and things are unlikely to improve.

Just as I was leaving she noticed that I am over forty. More teeth sucking - and another an earlier appointment is needed. At my great age the risk of still birth is greatly increased if we allow Beanie to go over term. So I'm booked in to see them again at 39 weeks to see where we go from there.

How do I feel? Obviously concerned for Beanie (that is my job) but somehow I know I will be okay. I sincrely wish their were more midwives, and would feel much more comfortable if I thought that the consultant could guarantee me the midwife support that she feels that I need. But, I'm lucky and I'll be okay - what ever obstacles come our way.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


I am so delighted that Tara chose Trees as the theme for this week's gallery. I love trees, they have so much character and offer us so much, beauty, shelter, food and even the air we breathe.

When I travelled I took so many pictures of trees, I fell in love with the eucalyptus trees in central Australia, fascinated by how they clung on seemingly inhospitable ledges on gorges their white bark contrasting with the red earth. Sadly, I can't share any of those images as they are all captured on film (you can just look back at my last entry for more about my exploration with old fashioned film cameras).

I have just got a new camera (a late Christmas present) so when I read the theme I took my new camera for a walk. All I can say is that I need to take some time to get to know it. If you have a Panasonic Lumix and can fathom how to focus close up pics, please let me know! In this shot I almost achieved what I wanted - to offer a shot of spring. Buds bursting against a blue sky with wispy clouds. Heaven!

Another shot from my new camera. My morning walk is my sanity, it enables me to sort out my thoughts and prepare for the day. It is just a small wood in suburban Berkshire, but looking up it is like a cathedral to me.

This is a tree from one of my favourite places in the world - in the Yorkshire moors in a dale adjoining the excellently names 'Fry Up Dale'. The landscape is so rich yet at times desolate with the romance and artistry of the dry stone walls.

The final photo is a surprise entry, it just jumped in when I was looking for the others as it was entitled 'Under the trees'. It returns to another theme of mine about doing things before it is too late. The picture was taken when we visited my parents in law at their winter retreat in Southern Spain. My FiL was a huge man in all but height and everybody adored and respected him and we all thought that he was immortal - sadly this was almost the last time that they made it to Spain. I am eternally grateful that we made it out to see them, where they were so happy and at ease, before it was too late.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A thing from the past

I love Josie's new prompt for the writing workshop - it mirrors about my earlier blog Conversation with a chair! but this time instead of a conversation I am making a connection with the past that highlights how the world we have lived is so remote from that of our children.

When my Dad was 21 his father gave him a camera, a very special rangefinder type of camera. When I first saw the camera it made me gasp  - my photographic heros had all used a camera like that to capture some of the most iconic and beautiful images of the twentieth century. From Brassai to the best of Magnum they had all used the rangefinder.

Just picking up the camera I could feel part of  history -  I could pretend that  I was in some tiny way linked with past geniuses.  I could hardly believe it when a while later my father gave me his beloved camera for Christmas. I was trembling as I held it; tears gave way to a silly grin that I could not shake all day.

Over the next few months I dedicated myself to getting to know the camera...well. To start off with it took me an age to take each shot;  I painstakingly checked the light meter, calculated the apperture and tried to learn the tricks to taking a photo worthy of the camera.

As I got to know the camera it started to become an extension of my own outlook. With time I could almost set up the camera at waist level before bringing it up to my eye to check and shoot. As this happened I felt the link with my Father, my Grandfather and icons of early photography deepen. I am not making any claims for my skills, but for the camera itself - and how rewarding it was to get to know.

So where is the camera now? Poised by the front door, ready for the next photo opportunity? Sadly, it lies gathering dust under my bed. Mt daughter's generation have never known film cameras, if you take a shot you immediately check the screen for your instant photographic gratification.

Back to my chair theme. What would the camera think? Would it be upset to be knocked off its throne? The camera would be able to cope - having been at the avant guarde of engineering it would be excited by the future and step aside gracefully. As for me, I can not help but to feel upset that the Pickle never feel that link to my forebarers and icons.

One word: Comfortable

Another entry to Tara's Gallery. This week the prompt was for one word so I have chosen comfortable. Let me introduce you to Molly the Wondercat. She was a scared little bedraggled cat when we found her at the rescue home. She is now the fluffiest, proudest old lady who ever ruled a household.

Doesn't she look comfortable? A friend describes her cats as boneless when they relax, we just call it flat cat. To me it just epitomises that feeling of giving in to relaxation - a state that sometimes we all aspire to.

Whatever happens over the next week, I hope life affords you a few moments of blissed out relaxation. Enjoy some comfort! xx

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Simple Pleasure: Cooking

I have loved looking at many contributions to the Sticky Fingers Gallery - and so here is my first attempt to join in.

The title 'Simple Pleasures' seems quite an apt description of our life at Chaos Cottage. After all, the moments that I am most nostalgic about from my own childhood are the simple things like cooking, picking carrots from the garden or just having silly fun around the house.

Into adulthood  cooking became important, I started to bond with my 20 something step son as I taught him to cook when he was on placement from University and now I cook with the Pickle.

It is our favourite rainy afternoon pleasure to cook. She runs off, washes her hands, puts on her apron and gets ready to cook. Here she is making a pizza. We start form scratch, flour flying, kneeding the dough, through to the important job of decorating it with toppings. Cheaper than a take out and so, so much more fun!