Tuesday, 27 March 2012

"We prefer you to use the stairs, unless it's hanging out".

This evening The Wig and I made a trip to the Hospital to view the ward where we will be having the baby. We've been wanting to go for a while and now we can finally cross it off the list of things to do. Thank the Lord, another job done. I want to also thank the Lord for the brilliant midwife who showed us around. I think I'm really going to enjoy my little visit there, especially if she is working when we go in. My favorite remarks of hers (or the ones I can remember at least) being:

"You can bring your own music to play on the sound system, but please, no Rod Stewart. Be reasonable".

"When you come, do your hair, wear a nice nightdress, you're having a day out! If you don't we'll give you one of our nightgowns and you'll feel ill as soon as you look at it".

"Sometimes if a baby is born in the pool it needs stimulation to get going. So we stimulate it by rubbing it up and down with a scratchy NHS towel. That usually does the trick".

So all in all a very enjoyable evening. And I never thought I would say that about a hospital. The birthing Centre there has balls, ropes you can dangle off, a pool, a double bed, a big foamy mattress thing, showers, basically it's like a cross between the Krypton Factor and It's a Knockout. I was erring on the drugs side of things but I had such a nice time this evening I think I'm going to try out the assault course and see how I get on. Things are starting to get VERY exciting.

Monday, 26 March 2012

HaPpY bIrThDaY tO mE!

Yesterday was my birthday. I LOVE birthdays and even though it was very different to most of my previous celebrations ie it did not involve any alcohol/growlers/parties/hangovers/memory loss, I had a really great day. And the sun shone!

It began with a text from an unknown number allegedly from my Mother wishing me a happy day. I did not recognise the number so I replied by asking if it really was from my Mother. "Yes, I changed my number and forgot to tell you" came the reply. Happy Birthday... Nothing surprises me anymore.

Luckily, The dear old Wig soon made up for the bad start to the day by singing a beautiful rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and giving me some lovely gifts. We had decided to not go too mad this year but he still bought me a beautiful silver handmade necklace with a secret message inside by Emily Margaret Hill. I can not deny, this necklace made me very choked up indeed.

Thank you very much Wiggles, you are the best xxx.

He also bought me some new CD's and a box of emergency moustaches, for emergencies. 

So far, I've only listened to the Lana Del Ray and Gotye CD's which are both pretty hit and miss. I think we liked half of the songs on both albums, which seems to be true of most CD's we buy these days. As a special birthday treat I also listened to some Daniel Beddingfield, but this really is a once a yearly event.

Anyway, after some Beddingfield in the Kitchen we trotted off to the wondrous Hackney Picture House for breakfast with my friend Joe. He bought me some beautiful flowers, like I say I LOVE birthdays. (And Hot Chocolates).

Hackney Picture House Hot Chocolate. Very hard to beat.

Thank you Joe for my lovely blooms xxx

Later on in the day, we then went to meet our friend's Ellie + Nick at Bea's of Bloomsbury for Afternoon Tea near St Pauls.

Daffodils outside St Pauls.

Light fittings at Bea's.

CAKES and sandwiches at the bottom.


Other things to buy.

Doggy bag/box.

I've never had proper Afternoon Tea before but will definitely be having it again. Not only did we get to stuff our faces with fancy cakes, we also got to take some home as we couldn't eat them all. I have amazing dreams where this sort of thing happens. I think Bea's is a small chain and although it didn't really feel like it as the cakes were so spectacular, the service did not match up to the food, and did make it feel a bit 'chainy'. The staff were a most peculiar bunch actually. One minute bordering on the offensive with their surlyness, then minutes later almost bending over backwards to be nice. It was most odd and confusing. Anyway, we didn't let them spoil our tea. Nothing could ruin a cake on my birthday. Particularly when I was given this as a gift. Probably one of the most thoughtful gifts ever.

My very own 'Tales of the March Hare' stamp!!!! Pretty amazing eh? Mark my words, no surface will ever be safe from my stamp from this day forth. 
Thank you very much Ellie and Nick, a truly wondrous gift xxx

PS: Thanks for the flowers too xxx

Also, thank you to Mo for the fancy scrub which I think I will be in desperate need of when I get my body back and can bend over again. Thanks too for the scrapbook, which I love. Anyone that knows me will know how much I love a scrapbook and has probably been bored by my various scrapbooks when paying me a visit. You really can never have too many in my eyes. xxx

Thank you Big Brother in Sydney for the M+S Pamper box. I'm going to save the socks for my little 'holiday' in the hospital, but cant guarantee the fizzy pop will last longer than 24 hours in the fridge xxx

And finally, thanks to me for this face cream. I've never had fancy cream before in my life and thought it was about time I did something about my saggy chops. I'll let you know if it works. If not, I'm stuck looking like Droopy Dawg until I can afford a face lift.

So, on reflection, it was a really lovely birthday and although very different to previous years I had fun none the less. Thank you to my super friends and family for making it such a special day. Only another 364 days until the next one.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Mint Sauce

You simply can not beat London in the sunshine. 

Daffodils outside Liverpool Street Station.

Big Ben.

Houses of Parliament.

Outside Buckingham Palace.

Today has been the hottest day of the year apparently but sadly I wouldn't have known it as we had the 2nd session of our NCT Course. I took all these pictures last summer but I am using them today as  they are far more easy on the eye than anything I have witnessed today.

Today we learnt about:

* Hospital bag + Birth Plan
* Breathing Exercises
* Positions + Massage techniques to help labour
* Practical Early Parenting Tips
* Sleep patterns
* Post Natal Depression

Again, it was another really interesting day but completely knackering. Its pretty exhausting taking in all the information that we learnt about today as well as being on your best behaviour in front of your potential new friends. The Wig is also enjoying the course too, he particularly enjoyed the massage section of the day where we practiced our newly acquired skills on each other. Although it did seem that he had forgotten that it wasn't him that actually has to give birth and that I was the one that may need relaxing. . .

My favorite part of the day however, was when we got our hands on 'our baby'. First of all we got to select our baby from a selection of dolls that were stuffed in a Harvey Nicols bag. If only the actual birth was as simple and pain free as this. It came out of the bag completely clean and dressed. It also had a nappy on which we had to change. I did slightly fall out of love with our baby at this point as when we re-moved the nappy it was full of Merconium (baby's first poo) or Mint Sauce to you and me. To say this was a shock would be a slight understatement, but at least we didn't get the one that had a nappy full of mustard. I have no idea what that was supposed to represent.

We have one more course to go which is next Sunday and all about breast feeding. I don't know what sort of practical excercise's might be involved in that lesson but its a bit too late to be worrying about being shy.

Lunch was again spent trying out a different Cafe in the area, today's establishment was called Farm:Shop, Dalston. It was my first and will be my last visit. The Farm:Shop's website refers to itself as an "urban food hub", I do not have a clue what that means. I do know however, that it had the air of 'Insect House at the Zoo' mixed in with a bit of 'Primary School Nature Corner'. You have no idea how much I wish I had my camera with me today. I am almost tempted to go back just so I can take some photo's to show you. But being almost tempted is not quite enough to make me set foot in there again. When you walk in, your nostrils are hit with the waft of 'Insect House' due to the strange leaves that are being grown around you (like eating in a green house) and the grubby fish tanks on the floor. If the food was any good or if they at least had a good range of options for food, they might just about get away with it. But the tiny kitchen at the rear of the building can only cope with Spring Green Soup or sandwiches containing Cheese + Pickle, Bacon, Egg or Scrambled Egg on Toast. The crisps were nice though unlike my Cheese + Pickle sandwich. I didn't think it was possible to make a bad Cheese + Pickle sandwich but today I discovered that it is. There are chickens on the roof apparently that you can look at and also a poly tunnel out the back, but after my disappointing sarnie and subsequent trip to the grotty lav I just wanted to get out of there and back to my Mint Sauce excreting baby.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Bread Street Kitchen,10 Bread Street London, EC4M 9AJ

I had my cheapest night out ever the other night when I met my good friend Mo who has her second baby due 3 weeks before me. The kind of nights out that Mo and I used to share would involve gallons of pinot Grigio, far too many Marlboro Lights, possibly some Queen Karaoke and no memory of anything after about 8:12pm. How times have changed. On Tuesday night we spent 2.5 hours talking (and me crying a bit) and the princely sum of £17.00. I don't think seventeen quid would even cover a 20 pack of Growlers (fags) these days

This pretty much sums the old us up. 
Mo is back left with the beer bottle and I'm at the front being supported from behind. Happy days.

Anyway, we met up at Bank in Ye Olde City of London for a spot of supper and soon realised that apart from lots of people in suits rushing around, there really isn't a huge amount of places to go to for food in that part of town. There's no denying The City is a beautiful part of London, its just a bit void of pit stops. Obviously my terrible photos don't do it justice but I think you might be used to my terrible photos by now and its the thought that counts.

Then, rather fortuitously,  I remembered the glorious One New Change by St Paul's Cathederal. Normally the walk from bank to St Pauls wouldn't take very long but for 2 waddlers it seemed to take a rather long time. Due to our lack of mobility we went into the first place that we came to, a place called Bread Street Kitchen, imaginatively named thus as it is situated on Bread Street.

Bread Street Kitchen (On Bread Street, geddit? . . . )  is a fairly new establishment set up by loud and sweary Gordon Ramsey (although he is actually extremely charming in real life as he made me a Nescafe on a shoot for The Times once). I'd never heard of it but was very impressed. Unfortunately, it wasn't until my companion and I popped to the latrine before we left that we realised we had been sitting in the wrong part of the building all night. On arriving at Bread Street we had grabbed the nearest table we could find to the door, but this turned out to be a bit of a mistake. While we spent the evening drinking tap water and sharing a bar snack of a Pizzetta (a small thin pizza) and a chocolate tart, there was a whole nother world going on upstairs. If only we hadn't been so exhausted after our 200 metre walk to go upstairs when we first arrived.

Amazing looking restaurant upstairs (picture from their website, my camera would never take a photo as good as this).

Downstairs bar area where we sat. All night.

Surprisingly delicious pizza type thing.

Chocolate tart with Caramel Ice Cream and Honeycomb.

The upstairs is a huge restaurant with amazing views of St Paul's and beautiful decor. For more pictures of it and the menu, check out their website above. I'm gutted we didn't make it up there, but I'll definitely be back. It also looks like they do a nice line in breakfasts if you are ever in the area which would definitely be worth checking out. If the bar food is anything to go by then the restaurant food will be really good.

Speaking of food, which I often do, I have grown some cress this week. I have no idea why I did it or what I'm going to do with it but it gave me something to do this week after 2 jobs I thought might happen, didn't. At this rate I really don't know if I'll be working again before the baby comes but if it all goes tits up in advertising maybe I could become a cress farmer. It only took 3 days and the seeds were extremely cheap.

But the home projects do not stop there, no siree. Today I finally finished knitting my second blanket. It is absolutely massive and only looks good from one side due to the appalling way I joined all the wool together, but I'm pretty pleased with it. In retrospect I should have bought a lighter coloured wool but I think it will be lovely in the winter. All in all I think I used about 25 balls of wool which cost around £45 (balls are so much cheaper if you buy in bulk) and I don't think I could buy a blanket like this for that price, so it was definitely a worth while exercise. I might get some bright coloured wool next time I'm out to do a blanket stitch around the outside which will make it a bit less Edwardian Workhouse.

The only problem is, that now I have finished it I have no excuse not to tackle that knitted bear I have been challenged to make. Balls indeed!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

To the Jungle, Dalston Lane, E8

Today was the first day of a 3 day intensive Ante Natal Course that we booked ourselves onto in December. We had booked it so long ago I'd sort of forgotten about it but it's come round so quickly that it can only mean one thing. D-Day (Delivery Day, hopefully not Death Day) is getting nearer.

Springfield House, Tyssen Street.

The Course unfortunately goes against my thinking so far regarding labour and birth that ignorance is bliss. I'm not reading much about what may or may not happen and definitely not watching 'One Born any Minute'. I have found myself lately living life by the Doris Day school of thought, 'Que Sera Sera', and it seems to be working out pretty well.  But I couldn't hide from the facts forever so today we learnt all about:

* Mechanics of labour
* Onset of labour
* Self Help techniques
* Hormones of labour
* Induction
* Pain Relief options in labour
* Assisted Delivery & Caesarean

We weren't really sure if it would be worth doing the NCT course as it is quite expensive (£240) but I think if we hadn't done it we would have wondered if we were missing out on some useful info. Also, most people who do it seem to think its really good for meeting people in the area who are going through the same experiences. I don't really feel like I need any new friends, I don't see the existing ones enough, but I'm really glad we went along.

After the initial, trauma of having to introduce ourselves to the class and going bright red (group speaking is one of my worst nightmares, along with strangers touching me and Avocados) it actually developed into a really great day. We had to introduce ourselves to everyone and then say why we had decided to come onto the course "Hello, I thought I should come as I'm terrified of new babies and need to learn how to clean their bums". Not exactly my finest introduction to strangers. 

Luckily the course didn't involve anything too gory, everyone else in the class seemed really nice and surprisingly enough, The Wig and I knew a lot more than we thought we did. I really don't know how that happened but maybe its from us talking to our friends who have had babies and maybe reading the odd thing on line, but it's made me feel really positive. I think doing the course will make us feel a lot more confident when D-Day happens which can only be a good thing.  The only downside was that I saw a photo of the placenta. One of The Wigs friends had told us that it looks like a sort of purple, veiny haggis, and to be honest, that was a rather flattering description. There is absolutely no way I even want to see mine let alone bring it home in the form of a milkshake (some people/sickos do this apparently *gag*) or bury it under a rose bush. Just take it away and I'll pretend it was never there.

Our next session is on Saturday where we will learn about how to wipe a baby's bum (yay!) and other early parenting tips I think. As long as we don't spend too long talking about the umbilical stump, it should be another successful day.

Another great thing about the course is that it was 10 minute trot round the corner from home and during the lunch break we were able to sample yet another local cafe. I don't think I can take anymore new cafes, there's almost too much choice now. It really is mind boggling how many options we now have for a hottie and a toastie.

May I present to you, To the Jungle.
Not a great picture of the outside but it was the only one I could get without standing in the bus lane.

Interesting use of a sewing table.

Lovely artwork on the Staff and Toilet doors.

Delicious Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Toastie with a choice of 5 different breads.

Delicious looking cakes.

Carrot Cake. More like a sponge cake than a carrot cake but the icing was delicious.

So, all in all a very good day. The Wig and I got to hang out together, we learnt some interesting stuff, maybe made some new friends and had a lovely lunch. What a lucky old Hare I am.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Borough Wines, L'Entrepot, Dalston Lane, E8

Heart Burn, Hiccuping Bump, constant need for a wee, it must be 4am. Yay!... I know I shouldn't complain as soon, I'll be up every 2 hours, but 4am? Really? I'm now completely wide awake and don't want to be . Today is Midwife day so maybe thats why I'm having trouble sleeping too. Last time we went the Midwife asked me "Did you have a large stomach before you were pregnant". Rude! God knows, what insult I'll get today. "Have you always had a weak chin / big cheeks / a slightly bung right eye?". It seems to be another given, along with people touching your stomach, that people feel they have the right to comment on your bump. Another example, was the man in the suit Hire Shop on Oxford Street last week. I had accompanied my friend to Moss Bros to try on a suit for a function and ended up having the following conversation with the suit measurer (not sure that's his official job title, but that's what he was doing):

Man: When are you due?
Me: May.
Man: Really?
Me: Yes.
Man: Is it twins?
Me: Er . . . no. . .
Man: Really? Are you sure?
Me: Yes. I think so. It only had one head and body on the scans.
Man: Oh, right. . .
Me: *Silence*
Man: But you're massive!
Me: And you're rude!

The thing about these sorts of conversations is that I can't forget them. Even though I am a fairly bright person (fairly, not really) and know that everyone is different and all babies are different I can't help but feel a little bit paranoid when people say things like this to me ("You're a bit big" / "Aren't you small?", believe it or not I have also had this said to me too so you can see why I might be a bit confused). Suit measuring man must know what he's talking about otherwise why would he have said that to me? He must be some sort of expert, he does have a tape measure after all and would know all about measurements, even fundal heights. Or maybe he was just a prat.

Anyway, its not all babies, babies, babies over in E8. On Saturday we finally made it into the NEW place that opened up less than 1 minute walk from the flat and the place that brought me to tears last weekend when I was told what it was.

So, may I now present to you 'Borough Wines - L'Entrepot' on Dalston Lane. Hurrah!!

Just to reiterate, this is going to be:

An Off Licence.
A Coffee Shop.
A Bar with food.
And eventually, a florist.

All it needs to add is a bit of Karaoke and this will be my dream place.

As we learnt last week, the man and lady who will run it are extremely friendly (I think they are Australian which is pretty much our favorite type of person) and the hot chocolate was delicious.

They've done a great job transforming, what I'm sure was, a bit of a nasty space and subsequently it feels light, airy and clean.

Not only can you buy wines in their own bottles but you can also buy empty bottles for £2 to get re-filled as and when you run out of booze. They had a really busy night on Friday night apparently and we had hoped to go along but I was asleep by 6:30pm, so to make up for it, and also to support them, I bought a bottle of Viognier.

As I have previously mentioned, I have been virtually tee total since last August. 4 sips of vino blanco on Christmas Day and 1 small glass last week, so I don't know what I was doing buying a whole bottle of the stuff. My wine tolerance has completely dwindled away to nothing. Half a small glass later and I had passed out. The shame!

Anyway, I think it's great. And I think once the food gets going, it could be my new favorite place. I really hope it does well as it deserves too. I'm so happy about this place opening that it's already making me think that maybe we shouldn't move after all. Does the baby really need it's own room or could it sleep in the shed? I practically grew up in a shed (my friend and I took over my Dads shed when we were about 14 and we used to sit and write poetry, talk about boys and smoke B+H in it) and it never did me any harm. . .

Then yesterday, we also tried out a couple of other Cafes nearby which we hadn't been too before. Thank god for all these new Coffee shops to visit as without weekend hangovers to struggle through I really don't know what we would be doing with our time at the moment.

We went to meet our friends who had recently had a baby and they suggested meeting at the E5 Bakehouse in London Fields. The E5 Bakehouse (in E8...?) make bread, its delicious, it's not cheap costing around £3.50 per loaf, but its delicious none the less. They do bakery courses, my friend did one, he said it was great. They do not however, make good hot chocolate. And have VERY chipped mugs. Chipped mugs  are, in my view, unacceptable, along with people that don't give you their seat on public transport, people that throw rubbish on the floor and nuclear weapons.

"Underneath the arches . . . tra la la . . ."

The bakery delivery bike. Great.

The cafe with the bakery behind.

A naked bottom! On a Sunday?! What an outrage!

Bread for sale.

My chipped mug...

 ...The Wigs cracked and stained mug. I've seen Roman mugs that have been excavated in the Jorvik centre in better nick than this thing.

I'm also not sure about this communal jam situation or the red stuff with cling film on, but like I said, delicious bread. To confirm bakery = good, cafe = bad.

So after a watery brown hot drink with lumps of powder in, reminiscent of one I bought from a Sports Centre vending machine in 1986, our friends arrived and we moved off next to door to the Happy Kitchen to start again.

This place was brilliant. It was full of healthy products to buy (Granola, freeze dried fruit, nuts, seeds etc) but also had some delicious looking cakes and breakfast options.

 We all had pancakes and although breakfast for 2 came to about £17 it was definitely worth it and I would highly recommend this place. It even had a toilet, one of The Wig's favorite things in a cafe.

So all in all a good weekend of Cafe recce's. 2 good ones out of 3 isn't bad at all.