Bedroom chic

As you may know, if you follow me on Twitter, Benn and I are back in the hell that is house hunting. However, this time we’re looking to buy, so my brain is going mad with ideas for interior design and general nesting. I took a look at Joules’ website to see what I could find…

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I love the idea of this bedding set from Joules’ pretty range of duvet covers– I love the combination of teal and chintzy florals, with the stripe design on the reverse. However, as Benn is not a fan of colour in general, I think I could maybe compromise with this simple yet elegant design:

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I think it’s rather sweet and reminds me a bit of antique porcelain! The only problem I might  have with an almost white duvet cover is that I might spill tea on it. That would be taking the fine china look a bit TOO far, non? I do rather like that deckchair stripe too. Very fitting for a house in a seaside town, too.

When looking for ideas for D’s rooms, I’d like something that isn’t traditionally ‘masculine’ and this circus cover is perfect- in fact we’ve had something of a circus theme going since he was born and I really like this more grown up take on it:

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Joules have classed this as a ‘boys’ duvet set, but as a little girl, I would have loved this! It’s a really striking design that would look great in any child’s bedroom and the combination of white, blue and red mean that it’s a really versatile set to have in a kid’s bedding arsenal. Love it.

*Written in conjunction with Joules*

27 things I’ve learnt about being a parent

On Wednesday, D will be a year old. I have no idea how that happened so quickly, but there it is. As I have been a mum now for 51 and a half weeks, I thought I would share some ‘interesting’ nuggets of information that I’ve learnt through the School of Hard Knocks (Parenting Department). Feel free to leave any others in the comments.

1. The best bit of advice I was given, pre-baby, was from a colleague. “It’s OK to want to throw the baby out of the window. As long as you don’t throw the baby out of the window.” Oh, how I heard her voice telling me this many, many times during D’s colic stage.

Image: Dadcentric.com

Image: Dadcentric.com

2. I learnt that big babies are a godsend for the baby-inexperienced like Benn and me. I once told my health visitor that I felt that D would bounce if I dropped him.

3. Don’t post a status announcement on Facebook expressing surprise that you’ve got to six months without any major incident. The baby WILL fall off the bed that day. And then again two days later.

4. Oh, God, THE GUILT. About everything. Seriously, now I understand why Catholics encourage people to have children. It heaps MORE guilt on already guilty feeling people.

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5. Children’s programming is actually a lot better than what I remember having as a kid. Except when they tamper with the 80s classics and make them CGI. No. (Also, avoid Milkshake on Channel 5. Way too much makeup and enthusiasm for 6am.)

6. Babies are essentially tiny drunks.

7. As soon as you get used to a lack of sleep/getting enough sleep (sort of), the baby will change its routine JUST TO SPITE YOU.

8. Babies are more effective at helping you make friends than vodka.

9. You never, ever get used to what are euphemistically termed ‘toxic nappies’ in the Pomfrett household. Never. You just invest in better air fresheners.

10. The relationship between cat and baby goes from fear, to love/hate, to a thing to behold.

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11. It is not always necessary to take the entire contents of the baby’s room when popping to the corner shop.

12. I really felt sorry for Prince William when it was revealed that he’d changed Prince George’s first nappy. I remember what that looked like. *Shudder*.

13. People will express surprise if you manage to do anything that’s not involving the baby: reading a book, painting your nails, baking etc.

14. If you say you don’t want another baby, people will tell you you’ll change your mind. But they won’t say that to your (male) other half.

15. Reading aloud anything by Julia Donaldson will make you sound like a master storyteller.

Image: BBC

Image: BBC

16. Libraries with good children’s areas are a complete godsend. Even if you do have to crawl around with your son, apologising to everyone when he tries to eat their food.

17. Weaning is lots of fun and it is OK to occasionally chuckle at the faces your child makes as he tries broccoli for the seventh time.

18. Derek Jacobi is under no threat from my re-tellings of In the Night Garden stories.

19. Once the baby could crawl, pyjamas became a godsend.

20. You can never have enough of the following: vests, sleepsuits/pyjamas, Sock Ons, plastic spoons, books.

21. Although I have fully accepted that D sees Benn as the cool parent, I quite like the fact that I’m the one he wants when he’s poorly (even if it means being pinned to the sofa all day watching endless CBeebies programmes.)

22. As much as I would like it to be true, I highly doubt D is speaking Russian when he says ‘da’ repeatedly.

23. Babywearing is cool, but impossible when your child is determined to grow into the BFG.

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24. It is very  important to ask for help if you need it.

25. It really is easier to provide grandparents with an Amazon Wishlist for birthdays and Christmas.

26. Even if you’re not a mushy parent, you do feel immense pride whenever your baby does a ‘first’.

27. I am genuinely looking forward to when D is old enough to enjoy the things we do. I need another Doctor Who fan in this house.

‘Tis the season… for Edgar Allan Poe

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Image: Wikipedia

I joked recently that most of my life references come from watching hours of The Simpsons; in Poe’s case, this is true. I only know The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart because they were featured on the programme. I also have a vague recollection of reading The Black Cat as a teenager (it’s really grisly). Anyway, recently, Poe has been creeping into my life: a friend sent me a letter on Poe notepaper, Benn and I watched The Raven (which stars John Cusack as Poe- it’s a brilliant, slightly daft film. I highly recommend it!) and then I stumbled upon a documentary that dealt with his troubled relationships with women. I was hooked. I do love reading the work and biographies of damaged souls.

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As the nights draw in and Halloween moves ever closer, Poe’s tales seem to appeal more and more. That such a troubled person could write such visceral and haunting tales is fitting. So I decided to get the collected works out of the library and I am on the hunt for a great biography of him; let me know if you can recommend one!

Have you read Poe? Where should I start? I’ll let you know how I get on…

Good luck, bad luck

Do you believe in fate, or are you more of a ‘we make our own luck’ type of person?

Image: Fanpop.com

Image: Fanpop.com

I ask this because, quite frankly, I’ve had a sucky couple of weeks when it’s come to luck. I’ve lost my library card twice (and almost lost it a third time), lost my debit card, had some stresses at work that were not necessary, had daft rows with people and D has had a cold. Sometimes it just feels like the world is against you, right?

Naturally, I’m an optimist, but this can be hard when my depression is playing up and I feel like I’m walking through treacle on a daily basis. What I can say is that having D is a good grounder; I can’t stay in bed all day when I have a little chap who’s reliant on me for food, cleaning and entertainment. I have to force myself into a certain manner and that’s a good thing.

I’m also mindful that this too shall pass; we all have periods in our lives when, to varying degrees, we feel like luck is either for or against us. I know that it’s all relative and I live a comfortable life by many standards, but luck is a fickle mistress. I just started thinking about whether we make our own luck. Is it the circle of life (naaaaa, mnemenahhhhhhhhh) or is sheer bloodymindedness? I’m hoping it’s the former, as I’m not sure I have the brain juice for the latter at the moment.

We all know that person who seems to have been smiled on from the very moment of birth and the other person who seems to have constant bad luck. Sometimes you can see what’s caused their situation in life and sometimes it’s a bit more baffling. A bit like this rambling blogpost, in fact!

Ten years on…

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Recently, my friend from college, Bee sent this picture of me and our friend Kerry to me on Twitter. After the initial ‘Oh my god, what was I wearing?!’, it made me think about how much I’ve changed since the photo was taken. It was taken at the Leeds Festival of 2002 (looking at the line up it reminded me of waiting over two hours to see Guns ‘n’ Roses because my then boyfriend was desperate to see them, despite Axl Rose being a bad tempered bugger and also that I saw Pulp give one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.)

The photo would have been taken a few weeks before I started uni. Here are some things that have changed since this photo was taken:

  • I’m totally not in the job I would have expected to be in at this point.
  • My hair is no longer that red, although I sometimes wish I had a job where I could dye it that colour.
  • I (hope) I dress better.
  • I broke up with that boyfriend, went through a self destructive phase for a while, but discovered The Smiths, so it wasn’t all bad.
  • I would never had believed you if you’d have said that ten years later I’d have been married with a child on the way. I was VERY anti-babies.
  • I have more self confidence, although not a huge amount. Must try harder.
  • At 21, I made the best decision of my life- to move to Brighton. I’ve been here ever since.

Things that I would have thought would happen, but didn’t:

  • I haven’t travelled half as much as I would have expected.
  • I never was brave enough to move to London.
  • I don’t have a dog.
  • I’m not a journalist.

As I’m turning 30 next year, I do think about how life has changed and how it will continue to change. I look at D and marvel at how he has his whole life ahead of him and I wonder what he will become. And then I remember that I am still young (ish) and have plenty of opportunity to do some of the things I’d like to. It’s interesting to look back though- and cringe at my teenage love of huge corduroy flares and velvet smoking jackets.

The inhabitant of a ‘post-baby body’ speaks

This last couple of weeks, I have been RAGING at the popular tabloid media. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the media. I studied it, I teach it, I even contribute to it from time to time. But seriously, Media, you have got to stop this obsession with a post-baby body.

When the Duchess of Cambridge came out of the hospital last Tuesday, the fragrant Kay Burley asked: “Why does she still have a bump?”

Kate Middleton Post-Baby Body

Image: The Hollywood Gossip

Um, because she spent nine months growing a baby? (I didn’t have a bump after D was born, incidentally because he was MASSIVE and my waters had broken earlier than my contractions had started, meaning I lost a load of fluid.)

On Wednesday, I saw that Marie Claire were tweeting triumphantly that Fearne Cotton was showing off her post-baby body that had ‘pinged’ back. Oh, how I loathe this phrase. Also, seriously considering a boycott of Marie Claire for promoting such vapid nonsense.

The thing is, it’s highly unlikely that 99% of mothers ‘ping’ back into shape. I know I haven’t. I did lose some weight after having D, but that’s because I live on a massive hill, walk everywhere and am in possession of a gigantic baby who weighs a ton. Of course I was going to lose weight. But once I went back to work and there was little chance of walking and more access to biscuits, I put some of that weight back on (I do, however, possess the most muscular upper arms this side of Jess Ennis.) It’s not rocket science. Those celebrities who ‘ping’ back into shape have money and access to a plastic surgeon, a personal trainer and/or oodles of time to bore themselves to death on a treadmill for the sake of a string bikini in the Maldives when their interestingly named child is two months old. I have neither the wherewithal, money or interest to go down this route. My flab is probably here for a while. Meh.

I thought Kate looked lovely as she left hospital; I couldn’t have managed to look so composed and be so charming 24 hours after giving birth, even with a personal hair stylist. I was torn between sobbing and pretending that I was compos mentis enough so that the nurse would give me codeine to take away the pain. Also, bravo to Kate to walking out of hospital with grace- I could barely hobble to the loo that was ten feet away from my bed.

Since having D, I am aware that my body has changed. I have loose skin, stretchmarks and during the pregnancy he caused havoc with my teeth. I suffered from postnatal depression. Do I regret any of it? Nope. I grew a human, which is pretty cool and that requires my body to change. I’m less hung up on how I look now, because I know there’s a reason for those changes (i.e. baby and chocolate.)

Thoughts?

George Orwell and the modern tea drinker

I am a massive Orwell fan, particularly of his essays. One of my favourites is ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’, which you can read here.

In the essay, which Orwell wrote in 1946 at the height of rationing, he provides the reader with his eleven tips for the perfect cup of tea. He admits that some will provide agreement and that some will be controversial, which I think they still might be today!

He advocates using either Indian (which I assume means Assam) or Ceylon tea, and dismisses ‘China tea’; “One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it.” I think, though, that Orwell would be dumbfounded by the range of teas offered to modern consumers. He was clearly a man who liked his tea-and he liked his tea strong. He would have so much more choice now and I think he would probably enjoy some of the stronger blends that are around these days, maybe a nice Lapsang Souchong,which  personally I hate as I think it tastes like ash. But George was a heavy smoker, so maybe it would be up his street…

Secondly, he thinks weak tea is a complete no-no, so I don’t think he would approve of green and white teas with their delicate flavours and notes. But maybe if he were alive today, he would be tempted to try them. After all, he was a man of bravery and adventure, and I’m sure he could find something to like in these varieties? I suppose, though, a generation used to having tea rationed and not really having a choice would see these varieties as new-fangled and unnecessary.

Orwell is a fan of loose leaf tea, as would most of his generation be- teabags had not really become as popular as they are today. However, most people still use teabags or filters, as otherwise it’s a bit of a faff to constantly wash teapots etc. Also, who has time to prepare a teapot EVERY time they want a cuppa? In our faster paced world, Orwell’s guide just isn’t always practical.

Two areas we agree on, though, are milk and sugar. Orwell says that milk should be poured into the tea after the water has been added to the cup. For both Orwell and me, this is practical; how else can you know when the tea is the right strength for your taste? In my house, there’s always milk in my tea (unless green or white) and none in Benn’s, no matter what the variety. I would never get the ratios right for visitors if I couldn’t see the colour of the tea!

I also don’t take sugar in my tea, like Orwell. I haven’t for about ten years. I prefer to taste the flavour of the tea and I can’t understand why someone would have more than one sugar in their tea, if at all. Orwell’s argument is that you might as well make a drink by putting sugar in some hot water. It’s a bit extreme (as you still get some benefits from the tea even if it’s sweetened), but you see his point.

Overall, I think Orwell would enjoy the varieties of strong black teas, but would be a bit suspicious at first… until you produced a teapot for him!

Reasons I’m both for and against summer…

Ah summer. As a girl of Irish/Welsh descent with pale skin, reddish hair and freckles, it is not my favourite time of year. However, rather than writing a rant about how much I loathe summer, I thought I would put forward reasons both why I like AND dislike it. You can’t say I’m not fair. At least I’m not massively pregnant this year, either. Swollen ankles are not fun.

Reasons I like summer:

File:Poppy2004.JPG

Image: Wikipedia

  • Flowers- I’m lucky in that I don’t get hayfever. Usually, I would have been growing flowers in our garden- particularly sweet peas- but this year I haven’t managed to get outside. Next year I’m planning peonies, roses, sunflowers and, of course, sweet peas!
  • Bees- see them before they’re gone and the world ends because of this. Also, they’re cute and furry and a bit daft.
  • Thunder storms- I love thunder storms, particularly those with fork lightning. There’s something so visceral and awesome about the weather deciding to throw what is essentially a meteorological tantrum.
  • Evening barbecues- we haven’t been to any of these this year, but there’s still time! The evening is my favourite time of the summer day; it’s still light, but not too hot. Perfect.
  • Holidays- I am a teacher and, despite what a certain government minister will have you believe, holidays for us aren’t all jollies. I will have to work hard at some point over the six weeks. But I do like the freedom I have as to when I work and I have a stack of things I want to get on with over the break. It will also be lovely to be back with D full time.
  • Wimbledon- I finally feel that after years of watching it with both my mum and Benn that I’m actually starting to understand what the hell is going on. It’s also a good sport to knit to.
  • Ice cream- I don’t have to explain this one.

Reasons I don’t like summer:

Image: beautyeditor.ca

  • Sunburn- I haven’t been sunburnt for a few years, but I remember being badly burnt as a kid and my mum applying cold teabags to the afflicted area (yes, it really does help.) The summer is a constant battle for me not to get sunburnt. Some days I just admit defeat and stay indoors.
  • Suncream lotion- I hate it. I hate the smell, I hate the texture, I hate the fact that it’s sticky (even the non-sticky ones) and the fact that I have to wear factor 50 to be able to function in anyway normally, short of covering myself head to toe in fabric.
  • Summer fashion- I don’t like summer fashion. It’s often impractical for our British weather anyway. Who needs neon yellow shorts paired with neon pink sandals and a neon green t-shirt when it’s chucking it down for most of the time? I’m definitely a tights, skirt, boots and cardi girl. Also, at least in the winter, you can LAYER to control your body temperature. You can’t strip your skin off in summer when you get too hot, can you?
  • Heat- just no. I am both of celtic descent and a knitter. Heat is the enemy of both my peoples. Also, it makes my makeup smudge and that is never a good look.
  • Annoying wildlife- seagulls, wasps, other people not controlling their dogs so that the aforementioned canine interrupts your picnic and tries to run off with the Kettle Chips, as happened to us recently. The ‘annoying wildlife’ applies equally to their owners as to the dogs.
  • Children being on holiday at the same time as me- I am aware this is an occupational hazard, but still.
  • Tourists- One day, I am going to do a post on here for ‘Brighton Bingo’: a drinking game based around all the annoying stereotypes we get in this fair city. If you’re a tourist who moves at a reasonable speed, doesn’t hog the pavement and is generally polite, please continue with your sightseeing. If, however, you are a gaggle of language students who have just decided to stop and stand outside Starbucks on the busiest street in Brighton, a hen/stag party dressed up in KERAZY costumes or a hipster taking photos of the same things (graffiti, beach huts) everyone else does with an equally enormous camera, please get out of my way.

I think this was a balanced, rational argument at all points.

Heigh ho, it’s back to work I go…

As you read this, I will probably be ensconsed back behind my desk getting cross about the wi-fi at work. Yep, after eight months that have flown by, I’m back at work.  (It’s actually a bit of a cop-out, as I’m only going for one day and then it’s half-term, but I thought it would be good to get in and get organised.)

If I’m honest, I feel a bit ambivilent about going back to work. On the one hand, I really don’t want to leave D, no matter how annoying he can be when he’s teething/grumpy. I’ll never get this amount of time to just be with him again and I don’t really want to miss anything because I’m at work. On the other hand, it will be nice to see adults other than Benn and the postman on a regular basis. I’m also worried I’ll get CBeebies withdrawal.

Anyway, to soften the blow of going back, I have collected a few lovely things to cheer me up:

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Marvel at how I have used effects and filters like a proper blogger would.

The notebook was bought from Paperchase for £8. I like it because the cover has a massive bird on it (obv) and it’s a soft cover too. This will be my planner and notebook in one; teacher planners are expensive and all my data is stored on my work laptop, so there’s no need for a dedicated ‘special’ planner. Also, this is cheery and more flexible in how I can use it.

The little boxes are SO. CUTE. I bought a pirate one because it says ‘Ahoy Matey!’ on it and I often refer to D as ‘matey’ and the fox one because, well, it’s a fox. I’m planning on making up teabags using tea filters and loose leaf tea and using these boxes to take them to work.

magpie

Finally, a brooch I had to have- I bought it from this seller on eBay. People who know me well know how superstitious I can be, especially when it comes to magpies. This brooch combines that old-fashioned jiggery-pokery with my love of William Morris (it’s a design from one of the Morris and Co. tiles.) I love this and will be wearing it proudly on whichever cardi I chose to wear today.

All I need now is a pencil case and some gel pens and I’m sorted.

Wish me luck!

 

25 facts about me…

These have been doing the rounds and I figured I’d do it and save it for a day when my blogging mojo is low. Today is that day! So here, dear reader, are twenty-five random facts about moi.

1) I have two tattoos- a Tibetan ohm on my arm that I got when I was 18 and three stars at the top of my spine that I got three years later. A lot of people don’t know I have them because I tend to keep them covered (not for any reason, it’s just the way they are!)

2) I’m fascinated by religion. The recent Pope news was brilliant for me, I love all the pomp and circumstance, despite not being religious myself. I was brought up in the Church of England by a Catholic mother. I like to say I got all of the guilt and none of the pageantry.

3) I’m slightly obsessed with nuns and I have a collection of vintage photographs of them.

One of my favourite photos in my collection

4) I also collect Alice in Wonderland memorabilia. I’ll probably do a post about this in future, as I have TONS of stuff.

5) One of my party tricks is being able to wiggle my nose in time to music.

6) Another is the ability to name almost any dog breed, even obscure ones. When I was ten, I devoured dog breed books. One of my ambitions was to become a dog breeder and enter Crufts. I’d still like to do that (probably breeding something random  like Dandie Dinmont terriers), but I would definitely wear a sports bra if I did so. Lesson learnt after watching many Best in Show programmes over the years.

7) I’m scared of horses, although I’m working on it.

See what I mean?
Image: http://www.city-data.com

8) I love watching documentaries and can watch them about almost anything. Ones about royal history and serial killers (sometimes the same thing) are my favourite. But I can’t watch anything about murder if the baby is awake. I did watch lots of serial killer docs when I was pregnant and so I think I’ve got a good handle on a) how to prevent him from becoming one and b) the signs to look for in other people… well, I hope so anyway!

9) I have a hearing impairment called Auditory Processing Disorder. It means that I can ace hearing tests, but the nerves between my brain and my ears are slightly faulty. The audiologist thinks I learnt to lip read from an early age in order to compensate. It basically means I’m on a split second time delay and can struggle to learn languages/play musical instruments/get jokes. You would never know there was anything wrong with me though if you met me.

10) The only hair styling product I own is a brush. Seriously, no hairdryer or products other than shampoo and conditioner. I am so lazy when it comes to my hair, my hairdresser refused to give me a proper fringe, because she thought it would be too annoying for me. This is going to be fun when one of the challenges I’ve set myself is to learn to do a vintage style hair-do.

File:Veronica Lake still.jpg

Veronica Lake
Image: Wikipedia

11) I think the happiest time in my life was when I was at college. Not to say I’m not happy now, but then was a whole new life- I made lots of friends I still have and it was such an exciting time.

12) I have two regrets in life- one that I didn’t study history further than Year 9 and that I didn’t capitalise on my degree after I left university. However, had I done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

13) If D had been a girl, I was desperate to call him Cecily. Benn hated it.

14) I love the smell of coffee being made, but I can’t drink it. It makes me really ill.

15) When I was a kid, I was a total tomboy. Computer games- especially Street Fighter II- were my favourite past-time. It got to the point where the local lads refused to play me. Chun-Li and I could take on the best of them and win!

File:Chun-Li tatsunoko.png

Chun-Li
Image: Wikipedia

16) I became obsessed with the Golden Age of Hollywood after a project I did for GCSE Art. I was appalling at art and got a D. One of my friends had helped me with the Hollywood coursework, I was hopeless.

17) I very often feel like an imposter in my own life. I’m convinced someone is going to come and tell me I’m not grown up enough to be me.

18) I have a signed photo of David Tennant. I’m a big Doctor Who fan and I’m pretty certain he’s my favourite.

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19) If I could live on a diet of pepperoni pizza, Jelly Belly beans and Diet Coke, I would. However, my waist and my teeth wouldn’t thank me for it, so I don’t.

20) I’ve done loads of research about the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War. My uncle was stationed in Northern Ireland in the 80s. We’ve met some of the same people, but in completely different circumstances. It was an interesting evening of swapping stories when I met him after my last trip.

21) Living on my own for six months when I was 21 was probably one of the best decisions I ever made (moving to Brighton was the best decision I ever made, though.)

22) I talk a lot and I come across as quite confident, but I often have massive crises of confidence and have to really psyche myself up to do new things. I would love to be braver!

Image: time.com

23) Although I can eat eggs in quiche and just about tolerate them when served as an omlette, I really don’t like them very much on their own. When I was little, my mum used to have to hide eggs from me when she was baking , otherwise I wouldn’t eat the cakes!

24) My favourite song ever is Mmmbop. I don’t even care that you know that.

25) I hated learning to drive and failed my test quite badly. As a result, I will never get behind the wheel of a car again and so I am keeping the population of the world safer. Seriously, I’m doing you a favour by walking.