The Midwinter Pause

It’s here. The bit we didn’t get last year, because, rain. 


These days between Christmas and new year. I used to find them an unbearable waste of time between key nights-out where there was a void filled only by roses chocolates and end of year review shows. 


Now they are blissful days of deep midwinter, and I relish the lack of plan, and the empty days. Days to nest, days to read, days to catch up, days to make plans. To potter and to faff. 

Of course there are people to see, clothes to launder, jobs to do. It can all wait. Just one more cup of tea…

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#BEDN York my hometown

I’m REALLY lucky. I live in a city that people visit on their holidays. I’m not from here, but I’ve been here 12 years. When I first moved here, I loved that had everything a city has to offer, but also a compact, cosy feel. You see familiar faces, you are not oppressed by loads of high rises, and your soul is mellowed by the green spaces and history that’s all around (of which I endlessly promise to learn more about!)

There are loads of sites and travel blogs where you can find out about the tourist trail, so here are my best places…

For tea and cakes: Me & Mrs Fisher, Lords Mayors Walk.

For picnics: Rowntrees Park, Southbank.

For ice cream: the Museum Gardens, Lendal.

For feeding baby / sheltering from the storm: York Explore Library, Lemdal; The Spurriergate Centre, Spurriergate.

For independent shopping and eating: Gillygate, Fossgate.

For top beer and stews: House of Trembling Madness, Stonegate.

For craft: Sunday Nest above Me&Mrs Fisher; Craft Basics, Gillygate.

For Walks: The city walls, along the river Ouse to the Millennium Bridge (take in Rowntrees Park en route – either for picnic or the brilliant Reading cafe run by the local library service.)

20131111-132100.jpgCliffords Towe

20131111-132111.jpgYork Minster

20131111-132150.jpgRowntrees Park

20131111-132221.jpgMonkbar

Bloggers, blogging and all that jazzle.

Well this fits in with today’s theme for #BEDN, and I’m in the middle of roasting a dinner, so rebel blogger strikes again and I’m re blogging it! It’s about why I started, but even just in the last week of BEDN, I’m enjoying it lot more as I’m not over analysing every post. Hope BEDN is going well for all you too!?

A Bee and a Bloom

So, blogging. Bloggers. “Blog-tastic” is a word my friend and I use when we feel pleased with ourselves or something about our life. It’s a bit smug, and bit sarcastic and a bit pokey. After all, we are just normal women with normal lives, not fabulous yummy-mummies with perfect children and homegrown organic vegetables and a sideline business in interiors/craft/baking. Yet every time I read a blog (with nothing but genuine interest and admiration, I might add) I thought ‘I could do this. I could have a go…’ for, like, the last 8 years or something. Yes, blogs have seen me through various stages… planning a holiday, debating a career change, stress and anxiety, going self-employed, starting a business, planning a career break and round the world trip, pregnancy, new motherhood (Thats basically a synopsis of the last 8 years of my life) There’s a blog for everything. There always…

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#BEDN 10 Things…

Okay, so this was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but also I haven’t posted every day – boo hoo, so chuck me out of class. I’m a rebel okay? Find me on the back seat of the bloggy bus smoking fags and doing graffiti with tippex.

So, 10 things I hope to do in life:

1. Learn to speak French.

2. Flamenco.

3. Make a wildlife pond.

4. Walk Wainwrights Coast to Coast.

5. Backpack through South America.

6. Go to the arctic and see the Aurora Borealis.

7. Live in the countryside.

8. Go to Art school.

9. Go on a road trip in a VW camper van.

10. Travel around India.

Near Keld, on the Coast to Coast route
Near Keld, on the Coast to Coast route

Wow – I though that was going to be hard, but I just blasted that off and there are loads more little and large things that I could add to it. I think I will make a list of small things, as most of the things on this list will require a) more money than we currently have b) more planning in the long term and c) our small person to be a bit bigger! But, I do love a list, and as a maker of lists, I find if it’s on the list, it’s gonna get ticked off eventually. Bring it on!

p.s. The fact I used the phrase ‘bloggy bus’ should alert you to the fact that I was more of a front seat rider and preferred chewits to fags. #geek

Hands off my baby please!

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So, people like to touch babies, eh? Recently, a male acquaintance deemed it appropriate to reach in to the pram and stroke my daughter’s cheek. I say acquaintance because this is a person I know, but who I don’t particularly like or feel comfortable around. I jiggled the pram a bit and made some excuses about having some urgent errand to run. When I got home, I got onto babycentre.co.uk community to ask other mums how they deal with this and what diplomatic ways people have found to ask people: “Don’t touch my baby you weirdo!”

Well, I was pretty gobsmacked that there was such a huge reponse to my original post, and it generated a lot of heated debate. It seems there is a split between those of us who think “great, no problem, [the old folk / random strangers] love it – it makes their day” and those of us who think “No way! Totes inappropriate!” There was a lot of talk about paedophiles and associated paranoia, but for me, it wasn’t really about that. It was more the consideration that my child, if they had been an adult would not have been touched like that, because it is not a social norm to touch other peoples faces (unless you’re all lovey kissy friends and that). No, if somebody – lets say this particular individual – came and touched my cheek lightly or squeezed my leg, I would deem it to be very pervy indeed. And unwanted. And I would have verbalised to that effect. But my daughter can’t talk yet, so shouldn’t I be the one to speak on her behalf? Yet it seems we are all terribly British about it and feel very awkward about telling strangers not to do it.

Since then, I have had another revelation. A friend has recently introduced me to two new girlfriends (one after the other, all legitimate etc. etc.!) It was only after I had met the second one, that I realised how powerful my own instincts had been with the first, with whom I had strongly felt an urge to prevent this woman holding my daughter. There was nothing wrong with the woman, I didn’t think she had dubious intent – it just didn’t feel right, so I didn’t let it happen. When I met the second woman, I was instantly comfortable and happy for her to play with my daughter. I guess this illustrates that it’s not a black and white issue. It also gave me some confidence that as a fledgling mother, I have and act upon strong instincts, which is something that it has taken me a long time to fully recognise within myself.

I still haven’t come up with the magic diplomatic phrase to stop it from happening when it’s not wanted, but I hope I will. I hope that by doing so, I will instill some sense to my daughter that it’s okay to be physical when it feels right, but it’s also okay to say no when it doesn’t, and that for me will be a great outcome. I want her to know that her body belongs to her, and that it’s not okay for her to be paraded or to be touched in order to satisfy the whim of another person.

#BEDN Food Glorious Food

I love food me. I’m still breastfeeding so I do have to remind myself that my ridiculous appetite has a legitimate driving force. Lest I do something stupid like try and “diet”. Pah! Not for me I’m afraid, but remind me of that in a few months time, when the little one off the boob and I’m still eating my third portion of Monday night pasta!

Passing on my love of food to the little one, is one of the great pleasures (and sometimes frustrations) of weaning. She usually eats her tea well before us, but when we do get chance to all sit down together, it’s an absolute joy to share the experience with her, especially when recently we gave her her first roast dinner with Yorkshire pudding and all. Already at 10 months, we’ve gone through various stages: not wanting to be spoon fed so having to slave over little veggie muffins and fritters smothered in cream cheese (thank you mamacook) ; everything being rejected unless being covered in yoghurt; loving being spoon fed, when all the lovingly prepared muffins get thrown on the floor with the rest of the finger food; its a constantly changing challenge, but luckily I enjoy food and cooking so most of the time, it’s just a means to discovering something new (sweetcorn fritters are good with sweet chilli sauce mmmm…)

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Spinach and cheese pancake was a favourite in the “no spoon” phase of weaning

I’ve simply loads of pictures of my baby’s smiling face covered in various coloured mush, but I’m yet to decide how I feel about blogging pictures of her here. So, here’s some food porn. Well, just cakes really. I just take pictures of cake apparently…

IMG_0691Apple Cake

IMG_0075Wedding cheese ‘cake’

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My favourite – Victoria Sponge

 

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Okay – this ones for the squirrels okay? 

 

Light

Autumn is all about light for me. Nature seems to have conspired all year – first the light that puts the colour into the leaves by photosynthesis, and then the way the tilting of the earth lends a dreamy quality to the light and it filters through the leaves in all their technicolour splendour. Here are some of my favourites from the last few weeks. Excuse the quality… iphonography/instagram addict.

20131103-195830.jpgByland Abbey

IMG_0801York Museum Gardens

IMG_0809York Museum Gardens

IMG_0832Rowntrees Park, York

IMG_0829On the floor in the grounds of Castle Howard, near York.

 

Something I made

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I stumbled upon the Blog Every Day in November challenge set by rosalilium.com and it seemed like a good idea to jolt me into actually posting. I have several drafts for posts that are half written, but I feel a bit stunted and want to just put something out there. The list of suggested topics for each day should help get the preverbial rocket up my dark place. So, here’s something I made. It’s the most recent thing I made, and it was a really simple embroidery, but I practiced a couple of new stitches and was really pleased with how the satin stitch came out, as I’ve tried it before and it was a bit blah…

Also, and importantly, I LOVED doing it! Here’s to many more!

Quick! Look busy – somebody’s coming!

I’m in a bit of a career limbo at the moment… I have made the decision to close my therapy business, and will shortly return to teaching a couple of Pilates classes a week. I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of SAHM Vs. working mum here (I may cover that in a separate post – not that I’m polarised either way). Suffice to say that going from being a full-time small business owner, to what currently lies ahead, DOES feel to me a bit like I’ll be a SAHM even though there will be a bit of work in there.

I’ll be hugely relieved when the therapy business is totally finished, and there are no emails to answer, invoices to chase, or people / problems to manage. It already feels like a weight off my shoulders. The question is, how now, do I spend my time. Or rather, how do I feel about how I spend my time? I know I am busy most of the day, but even now, as I sit typing this (and the Chicken starts to stir from her nap…) I feel guilty that I am not cleaning, cooking, doing laundry etc. I feel guilty for doing something for myself. Yesterday, the OH took the Chicken out for a walk for an hour. I immediately put the kettle on and made myself a lovely Yorkshire brew. As it sat there steaming on the counter, the chatterbox started off… “how can you justify the break from the Chicken if not to get some jobs done?” “They’ll think you are exaggerating about how busy you are if you aren’t, well… busy!” etc. So I took the load out of the washer and hung it to dry, hung the pictures on the kitchen wall that have been waiting for eons to go up, got the Chicken’s tea ready. And then, as I sat down to drink my cold cup of tea (Hello motherhood!), the door opened and in they walked. Great, I thought, now it looks like I’ve just been sat here the whole time.

But why does my brain work like that?! SO WHAT if I had been sat there the whole time – Are mothers not allowed? Must we martyr ourselves to the nth degree? Even after a hellish week of teething, colds (me and Chicken), and sleepless nights (and days), had I not earned it? Must I have a week of hell to have earned it? What is this earning thing I keep going on about? Is what I do everyday not justification enough to take a break or accept help? I must emphasise, it isn’t anybody else that is actively telling me this. I’m not sure where it’s coming from – maybe something inside myself, something that is at odds with how I thought it would be. Perhaps I have a sense of judgement from society or other Mum’s or from working people who are at the office doing “real work” (I’d strongly refute this view of things in reality – Matt Walsh recently explained why, more succinctly than I can here). Maybe it’s to do with how I saw my own parents roles as a child (don’t worry I will go no further with the armchair psychology!)

In any case, it’s something I need to work on. I am working on it. Will probably be working on it for years to come, because whatever your situation, your ideals, your values are, one thing is sure – happy mama = happy baba x

Bloggers, blogging and all that jazzle.

So, blogging. Bloggers. “Blog-tastic” is a word my friend and I use when we feel pleased with ourselves or something about our life. It’s a bit smug, and bit sarcastic and a bit pokey. After all, we are just normal women with normal lives, not fabulous yummy-mummies with perfect children and homegrown organic vegetables and a sideline business in interiors/craft/baking. Yet every time I read a blog (with nothing but genuine interest and admiration, I might add) I thought ‘I could do this. I could have a go…’ for, like, the last 8 years or something. Yes, blogs have seen me through various stages… planning a holiday, debating a career change, stress and anxiety, going self-employed, starting a business, planning a career break and round the world trip, pregnancy, new motherhood (Thats basically a synopsis of the last 8 years of my life) There’s a blog for everything. There always somebody who has been there or IS there. I read on Alice Harold’s More Than Toast blog (or was it MAMAUK?) that bloggers are often accused of presenting an unreal image to the world, of posting the picture of the perfect lifestyle, while behind the camera, in the other corner of the room is chaos. Well, I am an adult with an adult brain (most of the time..) so I knid of apply that logic to what I’m reading – of course it’s not like that all the time. And for me, my favourite blogs look a certain way, and ARE aspirational. I’ve looked at the more ‘warts-and-all’ blogs, and I just feel a bit, well, depressed my it’s ordinariness (real word? Anybody?) I have also read the glossies – a love-hate relationship that probably started in the late eighties when I started reading new teen mag “Hi!” (I didn’t understand what my brother was on about when he mocked my saying “I’m going to the post office to get Hi!”. I was only about ten, what was he on about? I found out eventually, thanks to Punky Brewster. Anyway, glossies – the beautiful photography, design… So aspirational. So unattainable. So long expensive shiny book full of adverts that doesn’t burn well on the fire. And so my love affair with blogs started.

Pair that love affair with the fact I have enjoyed writing since my late teens and taking photographs from my twenties, it was only a matter of time before I decided to give it a go. So for real, here I am. And right now, it just for me. To practice writing again. About all sorts. Theres no theme right now. It’s a brain dump… Er, I mean an eclectic collection of mini-essays and commentary, yah? But I warn you, I’m out of practice, and I mainly use my iPhone for photos’s these days. Just sayin’.Image