Wednesday, 22 February 2012

"Life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside" Rita Rudner

Lenny the bump really does wriggle around these days. A lot. (The Wig likes to put his face on my belly and wait for a kick in the face. If I knew he liked that kind of thing I could have done this to him a long time ago). Before I was pregnant, the thought of having someone squirming around inside made me feel a bit queasy, but now its happening, its quite nice. And a bit embarrassing at times particularly if I'm wearing a stripy top and suddenly the stripes start moving around. This is a part of pregnancy that I'm really quite enjoying, along with buying little stripy clothes, Danish Mobiles and thinking about names.

What I'm not really enjoying is the probing that goes along with being a 'host'. I'm not enjoying having my belly touched by people that think its ok to make a lunge for it. I was definitely guilty of this with my pregnant friends but now its happening to me, I can't bear it. I have quite large chops but if someone started stroking my face without prior warning they'd receive a swift kick to the nether regions, so what's the difference?...

I'm also not really enjoying the trips to the hospital, even though it's far more preferable to see the midwives there than to go to the decrepit Dr at my local surgery who made me (and my 2 year old neighbour) cry. I just don't like being inspected and groped, which is odd considering I love being frisked at airports. Its pretty much my main reason for going on holiday. But, its a small price to pay I suppose and I know these visits and check ups are for the best. So, yesterday I had another appointment which began with the indignity of squatting over a plastic funnel while trying to pee into a pot. Then I had to be weighed which caused an 'ERROR' message on the scales. Oh dear . . .

But the most traumatic indignity of the lot was when I had to lay down onto a bed in the corner of the midwives office. I'd just hoiked myself up onto it when the student midwife pulled the curtain around the bed then her and the Midwife put some rubber gloves on and lumbered towards me in unison like a couple of extras from the Thriller video. (They probably didn't at all but its just how my brain has chosen to remember it). And in a split second it hit me. Right in the kisser. I am going to have a baby and its more than likely that, to get it out, strangers are going to have to touch me and also see parts of my anatomy that I can no longer see myself. Sweet Jesus. I don't think until this rubber glove moment, the reality had fully sunk in. Bit late to be worrying about that now though isn't it? Luckily they didn't do anything too grim, all they needed to do was measure the bump not pull down my pants and do anything ghastly. Thank God. However, I was rewarded for being brave by hearing the bumps heart beat for the first time, and it really did just sound like a galloping horse. Although I hope its not actually a horse.

So, I'm slowly getting my head round things and at the moment can only be sure of 2 things:

1. This baby has got to come out somehow.
2. It's going to hurt.

And thats pretty much my birth plan right there, and apart from being a bit scared about the unknown I am now really really excited.

Despite having lots of friends who are having or have had babies, I can't recall being this excited about a baby since my little brother was born.

Me and my little brother. 
Also, another classic haircut a la The Demon Barber of Kelvedon Hatch aka my Dad.

I was about 7 or 8 when one day, my parents told my older brother and I that we were getting a new baby brother or sister. My Dad, who loved taking photos, took pictures of our reactions as they told us.  

My older brother was obviously a lot more relaxed about the news than me. 
I look like I might explode.

What's also quite interesting about these pictures is the amount of brown. Who knew there were so many shades? It's like a pantone chart from your worst nightmare.

So, when my little brother did arrive, as you can imagine, it was the best thing to have happened to me in my short life. I still remember my Dad waking my older brother up at about 2am on a Sunday morning to tell us he was taking mum to the hospital. And I remember the neighbour coming round the next morning saying "Your dad is still at the hospital so I'm keeping my eye on you today. He tried to come home by telling the midwife he needed to cook you a roast dinner but they wouldn't let him leave". I was so excited about his arrival I even did a school project about him.

But now he is in his late 20's, with 2 of his own children, much more sensible than me, he works really hard and I'm very proud of him. I feel very lucky to have not one but two super siblings, neither of whom I have to worry about. But who knew, when he first popped out into the world how he would turn out or what he would become. And thats the exciting thing about a new baby, who knows what the future holds for them? How exciting!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Yoga is fun.

Just to confirm, should there be an doubt in anyones mind, I am terrible at Yoga. I am still attending the classes on a Saturday morning because I feel like I should even though I'm not very good at it. Not only am I hindered by my general lack of fitness but also by the pelvic pain which restricts certain movements. (I'm also not enjoying the personal space issue that seems to arise every week. Each class I arrive unnaturally early so that I can get the space in the very back corner of the room farthest away from the front. And each class as soon as I have set out my mat, bolster, cushion and foam blocks, who knew one needed so much equipment just to relax, someone comes in and sits almost on top of me despite the room being empty. Why would a person do this?)

Anyway, each week, The Wig drops me off in Bethnal Green, I wobble around for a bit, do a bit of dirty phone caller heavy breathing and lay down for 20 minutes under a blanket. Yesterday, I felt like the novelty had worn off though and I really didn't want to go. I only went because The Wig bribed me with a hot chocolate afterwards. But, boy I am SO glad I made the class! It was great! Not only did I spy a man in reception wearing a navy Bandana a la Karate Kid sitting crossed legged, 3/4 length trousered and barefooted reading a book about 'Ashtanga' (not sure he could have squeezed in any more cliches even if he'd got a smouldering jostick protruding from his rectum), but also someone inadvertently had their jogging bottoms pulled down! We had to do an exercise in pairs (Mortificado! This meant I had to touch a stranger and a stranger had to touch me!), which started off with some vigorous slapping of the back of our 'partner' but ended in a swift rub down of their buttocks and legs. My 'partner' and I were in full swing of slapping when I heard a shriek, turned round and saw one of the ladies frantically trying to cover her dignity by pulling her bottoms up, which is not an easy task if you can't bend over. Her 'partner' had been so thorough with the buttock rub down she had managed to pull her trousers compeletely down! I know its not very sisterly to say but thank god it wasn't my arse on show.

Finally, and this really was the piece de resistance, someone let rip in our class after our 20  minute lie down. Having the mental age of a teenage boy, I am amazed that I managed to stifle the snorting laughter which was desperate to explode out of me but lets just say this 2 second expulsion made the trip totally worth while. I can't wait to go next week.

After Yoga we had a surprise birthday to attend at the The Lord Clyde on Essex Road, Islington. I've been going past this pub for a long time on my way into N1, but never actually been in as its a bit out of the way of the main throng of shops and not near a Station. However, it was really rather good!

The Lord Clyde Website

The interior is quite stark and unfussy but I really liked the simplicity of it. You'll have to excuse the terrible pictures, I was a bit scared of the man behind the bar to be honest and didn't want to get told off. Actually the man behind the bar was the only thing that slightly let the place down actually. He was rather curt and not very accommodating when it was asked if he could keep the kitchen open slightly longer for our group to all arrive (after it had been agreed beforehand that it wouldn't be a problem). However, it wasn't really a problem. Anyway, it's a really good place to meet a group of people as there is lots of room and also a spacious area with smaller tables for food. Since it appears that the bump/Leonard Henry has now taken even more of body over and shrunk my stomach a bit, I can't seem to eat much at the moment so I only had a starter but apparently the burgers, fish and chips were very nice indeed. 

Flatbread, houmous, Olives and stuffed Peppers. 

Not content with giving me veins in places I don't want veins, stealing my belly button, creating acid reflux and giving me a ridiculous waddle, the bump is now hindering me from doing one of my favorite things in the world. Eating. It's apparently taking up some of my stomach space which means, relative to what I can normally put away, I can hardly eat anything! Thanks a lot Lenny!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Woman in Black

About 4 years ago, The Wig and I took ourselves off to Theatre land for a Matinee performance of 'The Woman in Black'. I had just sold my BMX on eBay and bought us tickets as a treat. I have no idea why I owned a BMX at the age of 32. Anyway, it was an absolutely brilliant performance, probably the best play I have ever seen and left us completely terrified despite it being only 2pm in the afternoon.

Last night, The Wig and I took ourselves off to the new Hackney Picture House for the screen adaptation of the same story and I can safely say I s**t myself. It is more scary than the 2 scary things on my scary barometer. One being the 'Thriller' Video and the other being the Ghost Train at the end of Brighton Pier. Things touch you on your face, its horrible. 'The Woman in Black' by the newly revived Hammer Film Productions is a gillion times worse than either of these things.

The fact that it is rated a 12 certificate is crazy in my view. Kids these days must be so hard! I actually can't sleep as I'm sill thinking about it and am to scared to go to the toilet. It's very dark in the hallway en route to the bathroom. The Wig and I watched 3/4 of the film with our coats over our heads and I had to make emergency ear plugs out of a Kleenex so I couldn't hear it. Loud noises scare the crap out of me and I have bat like hearing apparently. I don't want to spoil anything as you really must check it out for yourselves but the film has all the right components to scare you to death. Or at least scare you into making emergency earplugs out of Kleenex. The film features:

* An old dilapidated house
* Creepy Children
* Victorian Mechanical toys
* Eerie music
* Screams
* Taxidermy Monkey's

I've never seen that Harry Potter chap in anything before, and I have to say that his acting ability isn't stretched too much in this film as there isn't really much dialogue, but he's not too bad in it. The main thing about the film is that it is so damn frightening, or "f****ing terrifying" as The Wig exclaimed when we left the cinema. So even if you are put off by Radcliffe, give it a chance, I still think you should see it. I'm going to give it 10 Squawking Crows out of a possible 10 and urge you to check it out for yourself. Although I suggest packing earplugs and a clean pair of under crackers for your cinema visit.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Free balls!

Today in the post, I received quite possibly the best card I ever. I don't know why it made me laugh so much. Oh hang on, yes I do. Its because I'm going stir crazy and possibly a bit feral. Anyway, I thought I would share it with you. It was from my friend Phil (not her real name) and is by Sapling Press.

As you may or may not recall last week, work commenced on my 2nd Wooly Rectangle. I wanted to make a a more practical item than the stripey Cath Kidston Kit from the week before. Also, it turned out that the Cath Kidston balls supplied in the kit were acrylic, not wool, which I was a bit annoyed about. So I bought some lovely grey wool but knowing nothing about quantities I only bought 4 balls. Even at my slow speed, I had got through this in under 2 days and made a rectangle roughly 5 inches wide. Not enough for half a leg warmer let alone a blanket. So after realising I needed to up the ball quota I discovered that the shop I bought the wool from didn't have anymore. This was an extremely distressing moment I'm sure you can imagine. So, after a long consultation with my friend google, I ordered some more online and waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. Until yesterday I could take no more. Where were my damn wool balls!

Shaun at Hejhog (the wool website) could not have been more helpful or pleasant. He apologised for the delay and explained that he was waiting for a delivery from the supplier which would be early next week. When I explained the dilemma ie that I am currently going out of my skull with boredom and needed that wool more than I could put into words, he offered to send me what he did have and then sent me a challenge. He sent me 2 balls of free Merino wool and a pattern to make a teddy bear wearing a rabbit costume! What a nice guy! I tried to tell him I only knit rectangles and had only learnt to knit a couple of weeks ago, but he assured me it was an easy pattern. However, I'm not so sure...

The lovely woolly wool! By the time this blanket is finished it will be the most expensive blanket in history with the amount of wool I'm going to need.

The impossible challenge. This does not look easy. At all.

And the moral of this story is 'Beware a stranger offering free balls, it will only lead to confusion, and ultimately, disappointment'. Amen.

* I had hoped to be able to write about a new restaurant we were booked to go to later, but unfortunately our friend is ill and we've had to cancel. So get well soon Timmy and you can blame him for this post about wool. xx

Thursday, 16 February 2012

HaPpY bIrThDaY mAtThEw Xx

Today is my older brother's birthday. Because I am polite I wont divulge his age but I will tell you he is 2 years old than me (although lately he is starting to look younger than me. I don't know how this is possible. Maybe he is having cosmetic assistance. Or maybe he is a vampire). Anyway, it's his birthday so I wanted to say that I hope he has / had a great day and I also wanted to say how proud I am of him and how much I love him. We've been through a lot, my older brother and me, but despite everything we have remained as close as close can be. I know that we have been very lucky to have such a special bond, one which I never ever take for granted. I also know that most siblings want to murder each other on a regular basis and I have never had murderous thoughts towards him, I don't think. Even though he has lived in Sydney for almost 10 years now, he is still one of the most important people in my life. He is kind, funny, supportive, generous, thoughtful and the best big brother in the world. So Happy Birthday Matthew, I can't wait to see you in May xxx

Not quite sure what's happening with the doll in this photo but don't let that draw your attention away from the incredible creases in those slacks. I'm pretty sure you could cut Cheddar with those. If you wanted to. And anyone who thinks socks don't go with sandals, think again my friend.

I love this photo. First of all because you can just about make out the milk bottles to the right of the step and I love milk bottles. So retro! Secondly, I have a vague memory of this photo being taken. We had just had a bath and my Dad wanted to take a photo outside. So he made us stand on a piece of newspaper so our feet didn't get dirty. Ingenious.

For some reason in this photo we look the same age. Either he was too small or I was too big. My Dad used to say that I was bald and didn't smile until the age of 4. This is proof that he lied about the hair situation but he could have been right about the not smiling thing.

Our first family holiday in Cornwall. 

Last week, while taking a break from Pelvic Floor exercises and Perineum Massages (JOKE- this is not happening. Ever. I don't care what they do to me in that hospital) I decided the bump/Leonard Henry would require a mobile above its crib for visual stimulation. Like everything else I am buying in preparation, unfortunately if it doesn't 'look' right, I can't/won't buy it, no matter how good the reviews are. I know this is a bit stupid but I really don't want the flat to turn into a replica of Toys'R'Us. I'm pregnant not blind. So I spent a good hour or 2 googling mobiles, then when I found one I liked, spent another hour finding somewhere that had it in stock. So you can imagine my joy when the mobile was delivered today, and if you can't imagine it, just try again. It was joyous ok? . . .

It's called the Story Mobile and is by Ferm Living although I had to order it from Polly + Joe.

Not only did the mobile arrive today, I also discovered a new row of shops I hadn't seen before. I went to meet some old friends for lunch in Shoreditch when, to kill time, I wandered along Calvert Avenue. This is another road in Shoreditch that was dead when I lived round there but gradually shops and cafes are popping up all over the place.

This is a sort of homewares and accessories shop selling interesting jewelry, clothing and ceramics. I bought this Polly George dish in the Sale. Its actually a lemon squeezer but I'm going to use it as a jewelry dish in the bathroom.

Ally Cappellino bag shop. Very (in my humble opinion) over priced bags. £175 for a linen shopper. Yikes.

Mawi. Quite pricey (again, just my opinion) jewelry shop.
Nice floral window display though.

Leila's Food Shop. I don't know who Leila is, I'm sure she is a very nice person and everything but £10. 60 for a loaf? She definitely wins the prize for the most expensive bread I've seen since last week. 

Leila not only sells fancy breads/cheeses and sausages, she also has a coffee shop on Calvert Avenue. I tried one of her hot chocolates and at first was a bit disappointed by the smallness of its size, but soon realised you didn't need much. It was so choclatey it made my right eyeball twitch. (I think it might have been liquid chocolate as opposed to a powder). I have never experienced a chocolate induced twitch before and whilst it was an unusual sensation it wasn't entirely unpleasant so I would recommend you get yourself down there to experience it for yourself.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Meat Liquor, 74 Welbeck Street.

Valentines Day passed by pretty uneventfully yesterday. I guess it's a sign of things to come.  This year, due to severe cutbacks, the overblown gestures have sadly fallen by the wayside. The surprise trip's to Paris on the Eurostar and the secret weekend's away to the country and the fancy restaurant dates have been replaced by a smallish box of chocolates and heart shaped cucumbers in a lunch box. No work + impending Baby = Harsh Valentines Cutbacks.

A card from a 'Secret Admirer'. 

Prestat 'Fine Chocolates'.

My gift to The Wig. Heart shaped cucumber slices in his lunch box. One must never underestimate the romantic powers of the humble cucumber.

Today was, however, slightly more eventful. It started off pretty much the same as most of my other days lately. I got up, made The Wig a healthy packed lunch to take to work which he managed to leave behind when he left the flat 10 minutes later. Some people might take offence from his constant 'accidentally' forgetting of his lunch but not me. I think he does it for the attention.

However, after The Wig had gone to work 2 occurrences occurred which haven't happened before. Firstly, I found a grey hair (trauma) and secondly I saw a horrid ratty old fox walk across the garden, run up the stairs and brazenly try to get into the back door! Although, the fox is most definitely not a welcome visitor it did give me something to do as I tried to scare it off by lobbing hazelnuts at it from the bedroom window.  Having a pathetic aim I obviously failed to make contact before anyone thinks about reporting me to the Fox Welfare Society, but if it comes back tomorrow I will be ready for it with a bag of walnuts. They have a considerably bigger surface area.

I also tried out a new restaurant today with my friend Theo who had invited me for lunch as a 'Congratulations for being Pregnant' treat. He suggested 'Meat Liquor', a burger restaurant based on Welbeck Street, W1. I'd never heard of it before so was very interested to go there particularly as after a qucik google search spewed out some very favourable online reviews. There seemed to be a lot of hype about this place with some people commenting that they had to queue for  up to 2 hours to get in! (They have a 'No Reservations' policy). There was no way I was going to queue for that long so we met at 12:30pm to ensure we would get in.

However, for me, it really didn't live up to the hype or my expectations. At first I couldn't actually find the place and walked past it twice. I couldn't work out if there was a good reason for it not having a clear sign or wether it's part of its mystique. Maybe it wants to be so mysterious and aloof only certain people know its there. My friend had arrived before me, and while he was allowed to wait inside, they would not give him a table until I arrived. So while I wondered around outside for 10 minutes he was standing inside by the front door. Once I finally located the place and my friend, we were offered bar stools in the seating area in the centre of the restaurant. They do have some proper tables and chairs  but by 12:30pm these were already taken. My friend asked if we could wait for proper chairs as it would be awkward for me to try to clamber on top of a stool and then we were promptly led to a back seating area with loads of empty chairs! Not sure why they didn't want us to sit here in the first place...

Once we were settled I soon noticed it was going to be quite hard to chat. The music was very loud, not ideal for catching up with someone you haven't seen for a year. Also, it was really dark. The section where we were sitting looked a bit like a serial killers basement, red paint splashed partitions and bare bulbs. I suppose it was more like a bar or club than a burger restaurant but still an interesting place to check out. 

Despite my friend being an award winning Cameraman, actually I don't know if he has won any actual awards, but he is a cameraman, it was pretty much impossible to get any good photos inside 'Meat Liquor' due to the lack of light, but here goes...

So, its round here somewhere . . . 

...oh yes, here it is.

The dome in the centre of the restaurant.

Walls papered with the pages of books. Travesty!

Perfect place to come if you don't like looking at the person you are having lunch with.

Drinks served in jars. I had this idea on my wedding wish

My friends Chilli Chips. On reflection there is no amount of light that would have made these bad boys look good, although my friend polished the lot off so they must have tasted ok.

The burgers. Very nice but honestly no better than any other burger I've eaten.

So all in all, a lovely treat to be taken to lunch and try out somewhere new but I think Meat Liquor might have a slight touch of the 'style over substances'. Definitely worth checking out just be aware that  you may not be able to hear or see anything. So all things considered I would give 'Meat Liquor' 6 baps out of a possible 10. I'm knocking a point off for the waitress who gave us our bill. The total came to £25, my friend put £30 on the dish and she asked if he wanted change. AWKWARD. The tip was optional but you certainly shouldn't ask should you? Aren't you supposed to wait and see?  . . .

Finally, while I was 'Up West' I thought I'd stick my snout into John Lewis for a mooch around and I also needed to use the loo (I was too scared to go in 'Meat Liquor' in case I feel down the stairs into a dungeon), and it was whilst I was in JL that I saw my dream chair. For the last few years I've been keeping scrapbooks of pictures that I like from Interiors magazines so that when we finally move I'll have a good idea of how we can decorate the place. Also, keeping stacks of magazines is not ideal if you don't have the room to store them and they weigh a tonne when you have to take them to your next home. So, I've got lots of pictures stuck in A3 Artpads which include an amazing velvet button back chair from John Lewis. Its quite expensive, its in a colour that's totally impractical and most definitely not to everyones taste but I love it all the same. And today I finally got the chance to sit in it. I was really hoping it would be uncomfortable but I can honestly say it is THE most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. And now you can buy a matching footstool! Damn you John Lewis!

Monday, 13 February 2012

David Shrigley Exhibition at The Hayward Gallery

Well, that didn't really work did it? My attempt at reader interaction was a resounding flop. I can see how many people read the entry but only one person offered an opinion on my 'Free Lunch' dilemma. So Nurse Nicola of Wimbledon, you win the March Hare Secret prize (tbc) and I shall be declining the offer of the complimentary meal at the Restaurant with the chipped crockery. I shall also never attempt to start a reader forum, the silent void was too heart breaking.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. Has Spring Sprung? Its hard to tell with this odd weather we are currently experiencing, but Saturday's sunshine was glorious. After a particularly short Yoga session on Saturday morning (even our teacher couldn't be arsed to face the arctic conditions this week so the class was taken by a replacement teacher who made us chant and swizzed us out of 15 minutes of our relaxation / nap time!), The Wig and I went to the Southbank.

Best Tube line EVER. The 'secret' Waterloo + City Line that goes between Bank and Waterloo as you can see. It takes about 5 mins to get right round to he other side of London! Sweet.

Beautiful Festival Hall.

Not sure what this ship is for, how it got up there or what it's doing.

I love this logo and typeface.

Horrid signs in front of an awesome building.

Parkour Man / Stupid show off.  Not really, I'm just jealous that he can jump and I can't.

My kind and generous friend had bought me some tickets to the David Shrigley Exhibition at the Hayward gallery hence our little jaunt out across the river. I think David Shrigley really is having the last laugh as far as art is concerned because it's so simplistic. For example, if I had presented my Art Teacher any of his painting's for my GCSE Coursework I know I would have been kicked off the course. But his pieces are so 'witty' that he gets away with it. I've never been to an exhibition before and heard so much laughter. It really was a great way to spend an hour and I would definitely recommend everyone / anyone to go. As we had tickets already we were able to walk straight in but the queue for tickets on the door went all the way round the corner of the Gallery. Probably best to book ahead basically but you better do it soon, its only on until 13th May.

Outside the Hayward Gallery.

Shrigley Stickman on roof.

Basically, we loved it. We loved it so much in fact that we spent some of the bump's 'Pram' money on a Shrigley Limited Edition Print which has gone straight into storage as we have no wall space left. Sorry bump but you'll forgive us one day when its worth millions...please be worth millions...

After last week's Lemon Curd experiment I found myself a bit snowed under with the stuff but luckily some friends came round yesterday and we were able to relieve ourselves of some of it. Unlike other home made jars of food it only last 2 weeks so you have to shift it as soon as you can. Not only did they take some home with them, we also made a Lemon Meringue Pie. Lemon Curd really is the gift that keeps on giving, so may I present to you my second Lemon Meringue Pie in a year . I made the first pie when my brother came over from Sydney last February:

(Cheats) Lemon Meringue Pie

Shopping List:

Half a jar of Homemade Lemon Curd (you could probably use shop bought though it wont be as nice).
3 x Large Egg Whites
100g Caster Sugar
Shop Bought pasty case (CHEAT! Sorry, lazy I know)

*Preheat the oven to around 170C.
* Place pastry case on a baking sheet.
* Spoon the Lemon Curd evenly onto the pastry case.

* Whisk up the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously.
*When the egg and sugar mix forms stiff peaks, evenly spoon on top of the Lemon Curd.

* Place the pie in the oven and check after 20 minutes.
* The pie is ready when the meringue is crunchy and has a light brown tinge.
* Serve warm.