Wednesday, 30 July 2014

making a birth plan

When you're pregnant you're advised to make a birth plan. It's to go in your hand held notes, and taken with you to wherever it is you're going to have the baby (as well as all the appointments you go to along the way).

This is really important because sadly, at the moment, there are not enough midwives for women to have one to one relationships with a dedicated midwife (although, that might be for the best in some cases).  Your birth plan gives your health professionals something to look at to get an idea of the kind of birth you want.

If you remember to take it out of your bag...  And IF your health professionals read it.  You could of course tell them what you want, but you might be a bit busy.  It's always good to get your birthing partner trained up in advance so that they know what you want too.

I am the kind of person who likes lists.  I have a to-do list, a to-read list, and mountains of notes in Evernote of things I intend to do one day, maybe.

However, I don't mind going off list a little bit.  For me, it's a starting point. A mission statement of sorts.  For all of my births I wanted an active natural birth, with little or no pain medication. I got this once (on my second). For my first birth, my wishes were ignored by the health professionals, who induced me without informing me that that would mean I could no longer be active. Grr. For my third birth, I started off natural, with minimal pain relief, and ended up with a spinal and a section, because it was necessary, and I was fine with that.

Claire seems to have had a very similar experience to my own:
I had a birth plan, and didn't get anywhere close to it due to being 2 weeks overdue and high blood pressure. I ended up having to have an epidural, which I vowed never to have. After a very slow induced labour the consultant decided enough was enough and used forceps. I felt like i could have carried on pushing and begged the consultant not to intervene but they said I was running out of time (even though the baby's heart rate was steady). All in all I was left feeling like I'd lost control and saddened by the whole experience. My second pregnancy was a different matter entirely. It was a home birth with a wonderful midwife that I had throughout. I felt in complete control. All in all it was a wonderful experience (even managed without pain relief).
Other people aren't like Claire and I.  Many people say 'what will be will be', they trust the health professionals will know a lot more about birth than they do, and they follow their lead.  

Some people don't want to make a birthing plan because they know that once they've planned something, they don't want to go to plan B.  Others, like Sally, don't feel there is a plan B. Sally was expecting twins, and was given one option: caesarian section.

And lots of people don't make a birthing plan because they don't see the point.  Carol had a birthing plan for her first birth, but not for her second:
I had a plan with [my first] really didn't with [my second]... purely as with [my first] I couldn't have her the way I wanted to so with [my second] I kinda went with it.
Cate was the same:
I didn't bother 2nd time around as with [my first] it all got taken out of my hands as he got stuck!! 
 As was Sarah:
I know now that I'm working on making baby no 3 to trust my instincts more, to go with the flow and not try to plan or expect anything in particular as every pregnancy is different. I was told some horror stories when I was first pregnant so planned all the pain relief and everything only to go overdue and needed to be induced, which put paid to all my plans...
Sally (with the twins) didn't make a plan for her second birth (a singleton this time) either.  She really doesn't like birth plans:
I am glad I never bothered with a birthing plan as I would have hated to get my hopes up and have them dashed when things didn't go to plan...I think they lull you into a false sense of security.
I can see what people mean about going with the flow and not raising your hopes, but I'm still glad I made a birth plan each time. It was good to think everything through beforehand, and it really helped to crystallise what I wanted in my head.

What are your thoughts on birth plans?  Would you or did you make them?  Do you usually plan for difficult situations? 

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 29/7/14 - 110,500. I'm over 110,000!
71,000 words done since the challenge began. 1,500 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 44.
What I did last - The heroine 'rescuing' another character.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

having a crush on Heathcliff

Daft enough to do psychology for a pretty face
To be quite honest with you, I cannot remember how many A levels I signed up to do in the first place.  I think I may have switched streams a little at some point. Certainly I started off doing three different maths A levels (Maths, Further Maths, Maths and Statistics), but the teachers left before Christmas, so I didn't end up doing any.

I dropped out of Physics because the teachers were SO BORING. Which was a shame, because my teacher for GCSE had been brilliant.

I also dropped out of English, but that was because it clashed with Psychology, and I had to go to Psychology because beautiful, raven haired, Heathcliff did Psychology.

Rumour had it that Heathcliff was actually his real name, and that he lived with Goth parents on the Bradford moors in a house called Crows Nest.  I'm assuming that none of this is true. I might be wrong. Apologies if I am.

I don't know much about Heathcliff because despite having an enormous crush on him I never actually managed to meet him. He was touched upon by my circle of friends, and even went out with one lass briefly. Until he found out that she'd been fibbing about her name and was actually called Cathy. Oh well.

I did manage to stick with Sociology until the end, and I got a good A level in General Studies too, as well as a couple of other ones.  Enough to get me in to a degree (with a bit of life experience), and the degree was enough to get me into a Masters. I never again did a course or chose a module because I had a crush on someone.

I've not seen Heathcliff since I gave up on Psychology, but I do think of him whenever I hear the song Wuthering Heights.

Did you ever do something stupid because of having a crush on someone?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 29/7/14 - 109,000.
69,500 words done since the challenge began. 15,500 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 43.
What I did last - The heroine getting ready for a party with her lover.

Monday, 28 July 2014

dealing with perineal trauma

Human's don't seem to be very well designed for giving birth.  Those big brains just use up too much space - babies heads are too big, and it can cause trouble downstairs.

Women are MUCH more likely to need intervention for a first pregnancy than for subsequent pregnancies. This is probably down to a combination of an unstretched pelvic floor and the scariness of going through birth for the first time.

We've all heard that there is a rise in ceasarian rates, and if you look at the statistics it is plain to see that the number of caesarians is rising, while the number of births assisted by forceps is dropping.  With all the caesarians, doctors are getting a lot of practice doing them, and they are safer than they've ever been.

Some types of forceps deliveries - the ones that carry the greatest risk of damage to mothers and babies - using Kielland forceps (sometimes called rotational forceps) high in the birth canal to turn the baby during vaginal delivery are now used so rarely (and with good reason), that in many hospitals they have been phased out altogether.  See this NCT research article for more on this.

The more usual kind of forceps delivery involves inserting two long metal spoon shaped things either side of baby's head. The two are then connected together, and someone who is trained and skilled in using forceps will help to pull baby out while mum pushes. To bring the baby out with forceps the 'birth canal' needs to be widened, by a cut, called an episiotomy.  

They medical professionals use the episiotomy cut to avoid your body tearing along the most easily available line, because nobody wants a tear extending to the back passage.

The trouble is, although a bad tear is really bad, it can be harder for your body to recover from a cut like an episiotomy, than from a minor tear. It took me a lot longer to recover from the episiotomy I had for my first birth (using forceps) than the emergency section I had for my third. And I'm not the only person who has had that experience.

You need to give informed consent to have a forceps assisted delivery, and yet, in the moment, many women feel that this is lacking. And also, befuddled and exhausted, women find themselves agreeing to things they don't really want.

L summed it up nicely: 
I said no forceps ... and [my daughter] was literallty hauled from me with them.
C said:
I ended up having to have an epidural, which I vowed never to have. After a very slow induced labour the consultant decided enough was enough and used forceps. I felt like i could have carried on pushing and begged the consultant not to intervene but they said I was running out of time (even though the baby's heart rate was steady). All in all I was left feeling like I'd lost control and was saddened by the whole experience.
I had said I didn't want forceps as well, but 48 hours after my waters broke, with my baby showing no sign of distress, the health professionals were insistent that I needed to get the baby out. I agreed to being induced, which speeded things up a lot, but meant I had to be strapped to a bed to be monitored. I really wanted to move around, but couldn't, and sitting on the bed was very painful. I felt like baby couldn't get out with me on my back, but I wasn't allowed to move. I felt that I was threatened with a section, and offered forceps as my only other choice.  What should have happened is that I should have been allowed to get up and move about, and properly informed that if I agreed to being induced that wouldn't be allowed. However, that all didn't happen, and I agreed to the forceps, and as a result I had six months of not being able to sit properly, two years and another baby before I lost the discomfort altogether. The baby himself was bruised, but healthy.

It could have been worse. L is still seeing a consultant about problems caused by forceps 9 years ago. She was not given an episiotomy, and tore badly, although she had no problem recovering from an emergency section for her younger daughter.

Perineal trauma isn't just a problem for forceps delivery. It can happen in 'normal' deliveries too. Minor tears are fairly common, and if it looks like a woman is at risk of a major tear health professionals may give an episiotomy. D didn't have a forceps delivery, but was given an episiotomy during labour. She said:

I didn't have forceps but did have an episiotomy which I was just informed about as it was being done! I was iron deficient and it took a long time to heal.
There's a chat over on Mumsnet about forceps vs caesarian, on which a few people recommend going straight for caesarian, because the risks of other interventions aren't worth it. Personally, I always liked to hope for the best, meaning a vaginal delivery with no intervention. I got it once, and was walking to a friend's house with my new baby the next day.  It is something every pregnant woman should consider for themselves, but with a full understanding of possible outcomes.  

There is a good article on episiotomies and tears here if you'd like more information.

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 29/7/14 - 109,000.
69,500 words done since the challenge began. 15,500 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 43.
What I did last - The heroine getting ready for a party with her lover.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Angioplasty: A guest post from JC Callister

I am chuffed to bits to have JC Callister as my first guest blogger. He's talking about the angioplasty operation he recently went through, and I warn you, it's not for the squeamish, but it is well worth reading.

For more on angioplasty check out the NHS site on it here.

Thanks JC!


The last time I was pregnant I was 36, and I was declared a geriatric mother.

I was so annoyed.  I had been declared obese for my first two pregnancies, and I was really chuffed with myself for losing the weight for this one. Now I was just old. 

Great. Thanks for that.

We are always hearing that people are having babies later, although there seems little evidence of that at my school gates.In fact the Growing up in Scotland study (which has a very impressive dataset and makes me wish I was still a government researcher) shows that births amongst older mums and also teenage mums is going down, while births amongst 20 something mums is going up.

But for some health professionals, even being in your 20s isn't young enough. Even though you're not 'officially' geriatric until you're over 35, some mums have been called 'old' when they're not even over 30! Friends in Scotland had 'older mum' written on their notes at ages 28 & 29!

The problem is that age categories are used as a pretty blunt instrument. If you've filled out a questionnaire you may be familiar with the age groupings. If you're over 35 you are lumped into the 'geriatric' group, although little attention is paid as to what you as an individual are like. By the statistics anyway.

Blunt instruments like this are useful for flagging up potential issues which health professionals should be checking, but they are professionals, you'd think they'd know, and if they really need a tool like that, maybe they could come up with another term. 

Categorising people because of age can actually end up being the cause of problems.  Too much medical intervention is not good for anyone, and that is exactly what Tracey experienced. Having had children earlier in her life, she had two more when she was 39 and 40. She said:
The thing that annoyed me was how different I was treated after I turned 40 with my last one... I was treated like I was stupid. Well that's how I felt. I kept getting told I was a red flag because I had turned 40. I was no different from I was 39. I felt!
When having baby at 39 I was in the labour room bouncing on a ball walking around we went for [a drink]. I had a quick labour and little girl was never at any risk. At 40 I was hooked up to a monitor and told I had to stay on bed. My labour was long and my wee boy got stuck and was stressed and so was I! So my last labour was my worst of them all.
I feel it could have been better if they had treated me the same as I had been treated at 39. Luckily my wee boy was born healthy.
We can't know, of course, what would have happened if Tracey was allowed to use a birthing ball and walk around for the birth of her son, but all the evidence shows that keeping as active as possible through the birth improves outcomes and reduces interventions.  Being strapped to a bed while you're in pain is stressful, and stress makes your body avoid giving birth.

I was really lucky for my geriatric pregnancy. I had a truly awesome midwifery team who gave me a LOT of support, helping me stand up to consultants who were so used to dealing with problems that they started their discussions with me by telling me there were limits to when I could have a caesarian, rather than asking what I thought about what was happening to my body (I must admit, I had extra attention from consultants because my baby was BIG, and I did end up having a section, because it was the right thing to do in the circumstances, and not just in case).

It's not just medical professionals who get judgey if you're an older Mum. Family and friends can too.  My Mum reckons that I chose to have fun in my 20s, before settling down a bit older. I don't remember that. I remember taking a while to find a man worth having children with and willing to have them with me.  I'm glad I did. On this subject Jac said:
...if you're an 'older' mum a lot of people think you're selfish & have put your career first! Er no, I just waited till I met the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with & have a family with. And I didn't meet him until I was 29.
At the other end of the spectrum, younger Mums come in for flack too. Sarah is pregnant with her third child. She was lucky enough to meet her ideal man early in life, and didn't waste time in starting a family:

...with my first when I was 18 ... the midwife took me into the wee room and started saying 'don't you worry we'll have you sorted with clothing grants, milk and food vouchers and everything you might possibly need' then when she asked about the dad I think she expected me to say he wasn't around but then after 20 million questions about if we lived together and did he work then she kept asking price brackets of how much he earned. She was flabbergasted when I finally just told her his salary and that we were living together and he was supporting me. She turned round and said 'oh! Well you won't get any of those benefits then!'
Then with my second I'd not long turned 20 when I got pregnant and we went through the 20 million questions again then was asked if it was the same dad (made me feel awful).
But this time I feel like I'm not looked down on and pitied as I was then I'm treated like a person who has made the decision to have a family and no one has questioned me about who the dad is and if I need financial help it's just assumed that I'm normal, which would have been nice in the beginning.
It may well be that there are behind the scenes reasons why the NHS wants to classify mothers according to age, but assuming the worst doesn't help anyone, and indeed, as in Tracey's case, it can harm.

There is an assumption that your 20s are the ideal time to have children, and there's even people ('experts' even) who advise women to go ahead and do it then, even if they don't have the relationships and finances in place.  Surely it's better to wait and do it when you can afford to look after your children in a loving home?  We can't all be as lucky as Sarah.

Yet again, it comes down to the fact that it's the person that needs to be treated, and age is just one facet of the person.  

If you've had babies, how old were you? And did anyone have anything to say about it?

Some names in this post have been changed.  Many thanks to everyone who helped me out with this post.

Other posts you might be interested in:

The book challenge
Words at 24/7/14 - 106,000.
66,500 words done since the challenge began. 12,500 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 41.
What I did last - Everyone is a little bit stressed out about the forthcoming wedding.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

getting to know you

Getting to know you...

22 May 2010 at 23:31
I was just tidying up some things on Facebook, and I found a couple of notes.  Do you remember notes?

I thought I'd reblog them, tumblr style, and maybe update in the process.

This one was originally written in 2010. I've made updated notes in indigo.  I would love to know your answers to this. Please copy and paste, and then give a link to your blog post (or just include what your answers are) in the comments.  Thanks!

Here we go:

1. What time did you get up this morning? 
2010:  6am as every day - woken up by two little children arguing about who gets to have the first cuddle (The boy got in there first this morning)
2014:  Things have got better. The boy is now trained and doesn't get up until 6.30am. Sometimes he sneaks downstairs and plays on the X box and I get to sleep in until 7am! This morning though it was the little girl's birthday, so I was up at 6.30am, and happy to be so.

2. How do you like your steak? 
2010:  Nut cutlet or halloumi for me please :-)
2014:  I haven't had a nut cutlet in ages, and I am no longer vegetarian, but steak is still not on my menu (I really don't like it).

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 
2010:  What was it called? The Road I think - with Aragorn in it.
2014:  Oh! That was a great night, with lovely friends. Now I think the last film I saw was The Lego Movie. Altogether now: 'Everything is awesome!'

4. What is your favorite TV show? 
2010:  True Blood.
I didn't get to watch True Blood for a while, although I still love the series. I really like the way they used the characters Charlaine crafted and then went completely off book. I am very happy that Lafayette is still alive especially, and that Eric is still around.
TV shows I love now are Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, and Scandal (new series starting soon - yay!)

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 
2010:  Somewhere with all of my family and friends nearby, and nice weather - Suffolk with family! 
2014:  I'm kind of sticking with that, but actually, if we could move Suffolk to Scotland (and keep the weather, but drop the accent), that would be better. I prefer the Scottish education system and commitment to the NHS. Although I do think we're better together.

6. What did you have for breakfast? 
2010:  Mini croissants with butter, marmalade, chocolate spread and jam. OJ, and decaf coffee. Yummy
2014:  Honestly, we don't do this every day, but this morning's breakfast was croissants with marmalade, pain au chocolat, OJ, and coffee

7. What is your favourite cuisine? 
2010 & 2014:  Definitely Italian.

9. Favourite Place to Eat? 
2010:  Somewhere with yummy food and someone else cooking and washing up!
2014:  Ditto. See this blog post.

10. Favourite dressing? 
2010:  blue cheese dressing
2014:  this feels like a dirty secret but I love cream of mushroom tinned soup mixed with mature cheddar as a sauce, and cold it is an awesome salad dressing.  Honest.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? 
2010:  Citroen C8
2014:  We needed a new car, but I miss the C8, especially the sliding doors which didn't bump into other cars. Now we have a Ford Galaxy.

12. What are your favourite clothes? 
2010 & 2014: Black ones. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? 
2010:  Turkey, Scandinavia, Canada
2014: I fancy a big long holiday in the US, with a Winnebago (the motor home, not the people).  Anyone fancy giving me one?  I'll write about it, I promise.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full 
2010:  Half empty
2014: Who has spilled the juice?

15. Where would you want to retire? 
2010:  Don't know... somewhere where I have plenty of friends. I'm hoping we'll settle somewhere soon.
2014: Somewhere where we can see the people we love.  But mostly I'm looking forward to gardening and cruises.  Bring it on... in about 25 years.

16. Favourite time of day? 
2010: I like morning snack time
2014: We've grown out of morning snacks, but that is still a good time of day. Everyone has finished faffing and we can get something good done.  I always like getting out of the house. Unless it's cold.

17. Where were you born? 
Yorkshire.  God's own County

18. What is your favourite sport to watch? 
Can't think of anything more tedious than watching sport!

The cat: Practicing
...skipped some Facebook specific questions...

22. Bird watcher? 
2010:  We have so many birds around here that I don't know... I keep thinking I should get a book about them. 
2014:  Back in 2010 we lived in an area with well established gardens and lots of happy birds.  Now we live in a brand spanking new house, and I am totally delighted when we manage to entice anything into the gardens.  We've been working on the garden, and we're getting more bugs, and more birds.  And mice.  Sorry mice.  Our cat will kill you, and crunch up your skulls.

23. Morning or Night Person: 

24. Do you have any pets? 
2010:  2 fish 
2014:  A great big ginger cat.  The fish died.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? 
2010:  I've ordered a new outfit for Ash's wedding :-) 
2014:  It's a shame that Ash's wedding didn't work out.  I wish her all the best.  Exciting news today is that my youngest girl, the girl I was pregnant with last time I did this questionnaire, is 4 today, and she's still life changing!

26. What did you want to be when you were little? 

27. What is your best childhood memory? 
Dancing with my brother in the kitchen to Human League . 

28. Are you a cat or dog person? 
Cats, I don't like dogs.

29. Are you married? 
Yes, to Kenny

30. Always wear your seat belt? 
Always. Why wouldn't you?

31. Been in a car accident? 

32. Any pet peeves? 
2010:  Spitting. Not communicating. Ignoring people. Parking on the pavement. Religious leaders who encourage their members to prey on the weak and scared. Swearing in front of children. Violence. Crap research. nonsense news.
2014:  All of the above, and also, not listening to people. Blaming people for the mistakes you make because you didn't listen to them.

33. Favorite pizza topping? 
2010:  Vegetarian
2014:  Lucky's pizza: Celery and blue cheese.  I miss it.

The garden, complete with Marigolds
34. Favorite Flower ? 
2010:  Bleeding hearts
2014:  We got given a load of Marigolds for the garden and they're looking great.

35. Favorite ice cream? 
2010:  Mint chocolate 
2014:  Not sure, but it's from Nardini's.  Today I had butter pecan and Scottish tablet.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? 
2010:  We've only got the Trawlers Catch, and they're not very fast! 
2014:  I'm not a fan of the local fish and chip shops, so I'll go for McDonalds.  Their veggie wraps are tolerable.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? 
Once - drove into the fence at the testing centre!

38. From whom did you get your last email? 
2010:  Becky, about b.a.b.i.e.s stuff.
2014:  I miss b.a.b.i.e.s, although I wouldn't want to start something similar up here. The BfN do a great job. My last email was from Kenny, we're discussing options for a new 'phone as ours is dying.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? 
2010:  Just spent lots at Dorothy Perkins
2014:  I was thinner then.  I would never max out a credit card.  The very thought is stressful, but the last place I bought a few things for me from was Yours.

40. Do anything spontaneous recently? 
2010:  Went for a walk in the woods at Dunwich/Westleton on Thursday. 
2014:  Took the girls for an extra play in the barn at Kelburn today, making us late for tea!

41. Like your job? 
Yes, but I'd like a day off now please!

42. Broccoli or Gai-lain? 
I’ll stick to broccoli. 

43. What was your favourite vacation? 
2010:  Kirkcudbright, or Longtown - can't decide.
2014:  Northumberland.  Can't wait to go back.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? 
2010:  Had lunch out with Kenny, and the two children at Sizewell cafe yesterday.
2014:  To celebrate the third child's fourth birthday today we went out for tea at Nardini's.  With Kenny, the three children, and Kenny's parents.

45. What are you listening to right now? 
2010:  Farscape is on TV - someone wants to eat Creichton.
2014:  Nothing.  It's midnight, and I'm keeping the volume down.  This is the last thing I listened to though.

46. What is your favorite color? 

47. How many tattoos do you have? 


49. What time did you finish this quiz? 

2010:  23.29 - way past bedtime.
2014:  00:04 - way past bedtime

50. Do you believe in God? 
2010:  No. Not even slightly... apart from maybe some demigods, but nothing omnipotent.
2014:  No, but I love a good myth.  Apart from the patriarchal monotheistic ones.  Patriarchy is sooooo over ;-)

Feel like wasting your precious time answering these questions?  Please do.  I would love to know more about you!

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

feeling happy inside: 10 things that bring me joy

What makes you feel happy?  I'm not talking about winning the pools here, but the simple little things that bring a warm glow.
Sunshine! And a wind turbine, which doesn't make me
especially happy, but it's better than a coal fired power
station or some fracking numpty.

Here are ten things that bring me joy:

1. Sunshine 

The warmth in your bones, and the sheer joy of a sunny day.  It might get boring in sunnier climes, but for me, in Scotland, you can't beat a glimpse of that big ball of fire in the sky.

2. Singing

I love to raise my voice and sing. I am happy to sing by myself (I've been singing along with Depeche Mode in the car today), but I really love singing in a choir. There's a Singing event in Glasgow on 27th July.  Want to come with me?

Cuddles. They're awesome
3. Cuddles

I get a lot of cuddles, and they can be annoying, especially when children are tired, and trying to cuddle your legs while you're walking. But I adore the cuddles where you just get stopped in what your doing and spend a few moments just appreciating the people you love.

4. Walking

I don't feel like doing it when I start, but I know that going for a walk will help me feel happier if I'm glum or fed up. Especially if it's a sunny day (#1).  Singing can also be involved.  It's a win all 'round.

5. Yummy food

I was going to put 'cake'. But it's not cake that makes me happy. Not unless it's really good cake. I love to eat a tasty salad too.  Really good cheese makes me very happy indeed. I just finished some Gigha Cheddar, made with milk from Jersey cows.  Beautiful texture, and a nutty, rich taste to die for.  Mmmm. Cheese.

6. Pear cider

While we're on the theme of consuming, I love pear cider. I'm so glad it's trendy at the moment, because I've always loved it, although I'm not so keen on the big success stories (Babycham and Lambrini). Pear cider used to be known as Perry, which is what I used to love, but nowadays, with big cider manufacturers getting in on the action, there is a distinction. CAMRA defines Pear Cider as any cider type drink with a pear flavour.  It can be made with pear concentrate (like Bulmers), or with apple cider, and then pear flavoured. Perry on the other hand is only the drink made with genuine perry pears. Babycham used to be genuine Perry, but it's now made from concentrate. But Lambrini is still genuine.  Shame it's so sweet. Personally I'm a big fan of Koppaberg.

7. Friends

We have moved a lot, and I've made new friends everywhere I've lived. I'm grateful for all of them. But I'm still in touch with the friends I made as a teenager. Back then we were called the Bohemian Romantics of Valhalla. Tee hee. Lots has happened, to all of us. We hardly see each other any more. But if I have something on my mind that I couldn't talk to anyone about, I can talk to them. They will listen. They will question. They will challenge. And they will support. I am profoundly grateful.

8. Family

It seems a bit harsh that they come in at number 8, but perhaps it's because it's so obvious. My family are my everything. I'm so lucky to have my three beautiful, intelligent, creative, stroppy children, and my lovely husband too. My in-laws are so supportive, and it's wonderful to see them so much. And it's such a shame that we live further away from my family than they're willing to travel much, because I would love to see more of them all.  I think we're going to have to register for house swapping or something so we can get there more.

My 'to read' pile, and my big kids, laughing at me.
I've got a lot of books on my Kindle too.
9. Books

I love getting lost in a good book, and by good I don't necessarily mean high quality. I love a well crafted world, I love fairy tales, I love things which are not real, but which contain truths nonetheless. I am a huge fan of George RR Martin, and also Kate Atkinson, Charlaine Harris, and Philippa Gregory.  There are others.

Truth be told I love books so much that I'm writing one. And I adore doing that. I like the way the characters develop and have a life of their own, that characters that weren't even going to get a name because I thought that they were insignificant at first, turn out to be very important. I recently introduced a new character, and although she was a minor (if odd) character in this book, I know she's coming back in future books. It's exciting.  I'm trying to finish the first draft of the first book by the end of the holidays. Wish me luck.

Sleep: The little girl has it sussed... apart from the bit
about doing it in your own bed!
10. Sleep

I do not get enough sleep. Often, when I do get the chance to catch up on sleep (after the kids have gone to bed for instance), I resent the idea, and stay up to write things instead (I'm writing this after my bedtime), but actually, when I get enough sleep I feel a lot happier. I can appreciate good things more, and notice bad things less. Sleep is certainly A GOOD THING.

What are the things that bring you joy?

This post is part of a series of 50 I'm doing. I'd love to see your take on one of the titles.  Find the full list here.

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

Friday, 18 July 2014

being cooked for

What's your favourite place to eat?

I'm not fussy (well, OK, so I am), but I really appreciate being cooked for by someone else. At someone else's house, or in a cafe (so long as the salad is acceptable). I used to quite like cooking, but that was when I had time to do it, and I could choose to make things that I liked.

It was before my lunchtime choices revolved around either cheese or ham sandwiches.

Now I cook, and someone will whine. Sometimes I choose to cook something slightly interesting and then more people whine.  It's tedious, and dispiriting, and really I'd rather not be working away in the kitchen (at least three times a day, every day), to produce food that will be whined at.

Eating out with family. The adults are happy!
So hoorah for cafes, hoorah for friends, and a special hoorah for my fabulous mother in law who has got in to the habit of making our tea on a Friday.  Thank you.

Where do you like to eat? And do you get whined at too?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 18/7/14 - 103,500. I've broken the 100,000 barrier!
64,000 words done since the challenge began! 10,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 36.
What I did last - Plotting. My favourite comes to an uncomfortable conclusion. The heroine will not be happy.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

walking up that hill

We're enjoying the summer holidays, but we're also suffering from a severe bout of inertia. The children are clear. They do not want to get washed. They do not want to get dressed. They do not want to leave the house.

It was raining the other day and I gave in to their demands, it resulted in a giddy and grumpy day at home. Although mattress sliding was a big hit.

mutiny #1
I've come to the conclusion that whatever they say, kids, like puppies, need to be exercised. So this morning I packed up a picnic and set out with them for a walk.

The plan was to go from Douglas Park in Largs, up the hill to the viewpoint, back down, to check out the ancient burial site, and then over the incredibly busy road which could seriously use a crossing, to the play park.

When we set off only two of the three children were whining, and I was trying to rise above them. Quite literally. It's really rather enjoyable to walk away from a whining child.

A gorgeous day for a walk

We set off up the hill, and quickly came to the first set of daunting stairs.  The youngest child attempted to stage a mutiny at this point, and we agreed to have a rest. None of the children were talking to me (which was rather pleasant). So we stopped, and enjoyed the sunshine, while eating a snack. That helped give the big kids a bit of energy, and they set off up the hill, while I hauled the little girl up. She was not happy about it, although she did have happy moments.

None shall pass
It gets a bit steep, but it was a lovely day, and the views made up for the climb. The kids though were getting really grumpy when we came to a gate, with a warning on it about cows.

We have had a situation with cattle before, when the boy ran into a field of bull calfs who were at that tricky age. Eek!  He doesn't fancy that happening again.

I couldn't see any cows, and suggested we go on regardless, but we couldn't get the blooming gate to open!  This was all that was needed for mutiny #2, and the children declared it lunch time and ran off down the hill to find a suitable picnic stop.

Mutiny #2
It's important to accept when you're beaten.

So we went down the hill to some benches where we had our picnic. The children decided they needed the toilet so we headed down to the toilets we'd seen signposted in Douglas Park.  Which were closed!  Honestly, why keep the signs up if the toilets are closed?  We were not impressed. Happily the children decided that they could all wait a bit longer, so we went to see the ancient burial site.

I'm glad we saw it, but it's a shame there isn't any information about it.  A little board would be good.

The kids were getting a bit fed up by this point, so we headed to the park across the road from Douglas Park. It took us ages to cross the road that needs a crossing, but then we had fun in the park, which was just the right amount of busy.

Ancient burial site.
The funny thing is that after having this exercise, the children were not only much happier in themselves, but they also volunteered to play out when we got home.  It's ended up being a rather marvellous day!

So what have you been up to?

Other posts you might like:

The book challenge
Words at 15/7/14 - 102,500. 
63,000 words done since the challenge began! 9,000 so far this month.
Where I'm at in First Draft - Chapter 34.
What I did last - Meeting the prodigal son.