My Foodie Experiences Of London

By | October 19, 2018

When I was a teen, London was the place to be.

I’d already decided that I was going to be a backing singer and marry my favourite pop star and we’d live in Kensington, we can dream, can’t we?

I’d get the coach to London every Saturday with my friend, I realise now that that could potentially sound a bit stalker-ish but it was the whole Kensington vibe that I loved (and still do). 

There were the markets full of wonderfully weird clothes, the shops that sold obscure items you couldn’t find anywhere else, the record shops where I’d spend my hard-earned money from an after school job (because it felt nicer to buy them from there and not the local Smiths) and the museums, not to forget the Spud-U-Like just up the road in Notting Hill where it seemed decadent to buy a baked potato.

So, a few years later, when an opportunity came up during an office relocation to work in London, I jumped at the chance! 

Of course, I saw London from a different side once I was a commuter, my day consisted of get up-catch a coach in the dark-try and snooze and hope there wouldn’t be delays-get to the office-work-catch a coach-get home in the dark-go to bed ….and repeat. I worked opposite the Tower of London which was a really stunning view from the office window.

The second opportunity brought with it rail commuting as the coach service had stopped. I’d pay a huuuuge amount in rail fares with no guarantee of a seat and my view from the window wouldn’t be scenic, just fast.  

Lunch would be a quick sandwich from a sandwich bar as I was invariably too disorganised/tired to bring something from home.

It wasn’t all bad though, if you’ve ever worked in a city, you’ll know that there comes a point in the evening when the atmosphere changes from one of hustle and bustle and the night life starts.

I had some fantastic dining experiences after hours during my two separate working spells in London, a couple that spring to mind are a meal in the Windows bar which had amazing views across the capital, coupled with fantastic cuisine, a piano bar very near to the Bank of England and an excellent Mexican restaurant where I first tried tequila!

  
The beauty of dining within the Square Mile as the City of London is also known by, is that there is a variety of worldwide cuisine experiences, literally on the doorstep as this online guide from squaremeal illustrates. 

Other memories from London dining were trying oysters (just yuck!) and my first encounter with Port after a Christmas meal (really nice at the time but I suffered the next day, big time!) 

I went to London for a bloggers event a couple of years ago and the little surge of excitement I felt as a teen, was still there when I got off the tube at High Street Kensington. 

Some things don’t change, do they?

*This is a collaborative post 

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How @circusstarr promotes inclusivity and positive body imagery 

By | October 16, 2018

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll be aware that we look forward to the annual show that Circus Starr brings to town.

Circus Starr are a not-for-profit organisation, relying on local donations from the towns that they visit so that they can put on a fantastically, inclusive show for disabled and disadvantaged children in the local community.

It’s something that we always look forward to and this year’s visit was much anticipated as, due to those feet operations I keep having (not by choice!) we hadn’t been since November 2015.

So, we took our seats and as you can see, D was very excited!

  

It was absolutely lovely to be back, waiting for the performance to start, looking around and seeing masses of happy, excited faces, all feeling included.  Circus Starr have a Changing Places toilet this year, which is a great addition to their convoy.

Onto the performances and as ever, we were spellbound, transfixed as the artistes performed either high up in the podium on silks, on a trapeze or acrobatics on the floor, interjected as ever with clown performances, very slapstick but very funny.

I only took a couple of photos as I wanted to enjoy the acts:

  
  
The show ended all too soon with a signed sing-a-long to a version of “Reach For The Stars” and the lyrics matched perfectly the very positive atmosphere.

Another positive was the chat D and I had on the way home, I am all too aware that at 14 she is growing up and am grateful that she is comfy in her body.  We were talking about the athleticism of the performers and how much training they must do to enable them to perform their acts.

Then came a question “do you think my bottom is big?”

If we hadn’t just been at the performance, I may not have known what to answer, but drawing on what we’d seen, I could reply to D that whilst big (artificially enhanced) bottoms and BBL’s may be fashionable, the muscly, toned performers we’d just seen were a great example of being happy in their bodies and achieving what they did because they trained and ate well.  

So, because of the sports D does, our school walks and the fact she regulates herself by skipping in our garden, she was just right, which she accepted.

Which is how I’d like her to stay, happy in herself and not at all swayed by weekly gossip magazines or social media imagery.

Thanks to Circus Starr for a great evening, fingers crossed, we’ll see you next year! 

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Yesterday 

By | October 13, 2018

This post would have been different yesterday, 12th October.  It wouldn’t have been positive, in fact I doubt I’d have completed it.

Yesterday marks two years since my first both feet operation and it’s fair to say that I’ve lost my way since then, finding that the tools which used to be so handy for my wellbeing diminish (yes, blog, I’m talking about you!)

It’s also been a time when you find out that those who are interested in seeing how we are, stay interested and those who don’t…well don’t.

But, let’s turn things around with some positivity:

I was terrified going into that operation two years ago, absolutely petrified.  Stressed to the eyeballs that transport to and from her SN school hadn’t been sorted out for D and the feeling that I’d let her down.

I was also so scared I wouldn’t wake up, having not had an operation under a general anaesthetic before and cried walking down to the small ante room and cried in there, they were probably glad to put me to sleep!

The positives of having had two operations since then are that the general anaesthetics don’t worry me now!

 I went into the second and third ones smiling and feeling positive and tried counting down to see if I’d still be counting when I came around from operation number 2 (I didn’t) and with operation number 3 I tried having a song in my head, I came around from that one to being told to drink cold water and my blood pressure was too low – no singing there.

There may be another operation next Spring on my left foot as it hasn’t healed and set back as wonderfully as the right one and getting any sort of shoe/boot on is painful and challenging.  The toe which got pinned is floating around like a spare part and doesn’t touch the ground when I walk, which has pain implications and it’s likely that the tendon will need breaking and re-attaching, if another operation goes ahead.

So, operation number 4 will be met with “yes, this will work” and doing as I’m told with regard to resting afterwards and most definitely not running (hahaha) before I can walk, as the saying goes. Once any home-school transport is sorted, that is.

I’ve also learnt that things take time.  I could compare my operations to my little crochet projects, I wasn’t ready to make a full-size complicated throw when I started learning to crochet, I wasn’t ready, I had to learn the basics.  I’m challenging myself with these beautiful but intense patterns now, 2.5 years later, because I feel ready.

  
The cardigan above is a very good example.  I’d watch variations being made at crochet group and think “nope, no way can I ever make that!”, this summer I had a go and that’s the result, I’m so proud of it!

As well as feeling more positive in myself about the prospect of another operation, my family know exactly what the upheaval will be afterwards, we are well practised in it!  I’m so so pleased that D finally has her much-wanted bunnies and that we aren’t saying “well, we’ll have to wait another year because…”, she tucks them in at night and absolutely loves them.

  
They’ve grown a bit!

I’m also grateful that support can be found in unexpected quarters.  I had a cry yesterday morning and Messenger messages kept me going, put things into perspective and stopped that self-pitying post being written.  It could be a lot worse.

Which brings me onto my last positive pojnt, that my surgeon hasn’t discharged me and my foot, that I’m going back in January to talk next steps (good choice of words!), that maybe, just maybe it will be fourth time lucky!

Fingers crossed! Xx 

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Why are manners disappearing from our Society?

By | October 1, 2018

It’s something I’ve been wondering over the last few weeks/months, why some people seem not to have any manners anymore.

I’m talking about basic manners, a “thank you” if a door is held open or a smile always makes someone feel appreciated doesn’t it? 

But there doesn’t seem to be any of that, an “excuse me” if you have to get past somebody would be nice, instead of just shoving through; a “thank you” to the cashier after you’ve finished (that one can be lacking in two way) and if you get told “enjoy your day” or asked “how are you?”, pay it forward and ask back, how someone is.  It’s not difficult.

Here’s a few examples we’ve experienced recently:

In MaccyD’s, someone picked up the chair at our table. No “excuse me, can I take this?” Just took it.

D regularly holds doors open when we leave Costa for others to pass through, she’ll get a smile and a “thank you” half the time.  This is when I feel for her, she’s a lovely, polite young lady and she’s fast growing up in a Society where people don’t seem to acknowledge others, let alone care.

Manners cost nothing.  

And this one really took me aback,  a SN staff member looked right through me today when I smiled and said “hello”.  They taught D for two years! Granted it wasn’t in school and maybe they felt I’d exchange in conversation but…. it is obviously just a job.

      

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Smile – Weds 5th September 2018

By | September 5, 2018

It’s been a day of smiles today.

  
Smiles for D as she headed back to school into a class with her teachers from last year and knowing who her classmates will be  – which is so important when it comes to preparing her for the new school year.

Smiles as she and T headed back to the routine of school after a summer where it’s always so evident that they need and crave that routine.

Smiles also because today was the first time since April 2017 that I’ve done the school walk, due to those pesky foot operations, we picked blackberries for the bunnies on the way home (they didn’t like them!) and I’ve really missed that pointing-out-cats/plants/birds time that our walk brings and smiles that, for the first time in two years, we are not building up to operations and all the upheaval that brings.

  
Smiles from me too as I did the walk after dropping D off and the walk to collect her, with my earworms in, listening to my “walking tunes” playlist.  I really, really miss listening to music during the school holidays and my wellbeing always crashes, music is an immense relaxation tool for me.

And smiles that I’m blogging after a sporadic absence, hopefully more frequently now.

But if I stop and think about it, that smile fades as I realise with T coming up to 16 in a couple of months and with D 18 months behind, that the transition to adult social care will be looming and I don’t think it will be straightforward or without its angst.

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Meet the Bunnies! 

By | August 16, 2018

For as long as we can remember, bunnies have been very important to D.

Her faithful and much-loved companion is Bunny, Bunny spent much of D’s life either held by her ears or tucked under D’s armpit which she ate/drew or needed to concentrate.  Bunny went on school trips, nestled inside a pocket on outings and has always been a non-judgemental, cuddly companion.

  
Bunny looks a tad “warm” in the photo above, this is because Bunny has had numerous operations to plump her up and reinforce her and she’s been stitched into her hat to – fingers crossed – ensure her (very weak) neck doesn’t give way.

Birthdays and Christmas have always seen bunny-related gifts but the one present that D has always wished for are real-life bunnies, a wish which increased as we said goodbye to the last of our guinea pigs two summers ago, but I then headed into foot operation territory and it’s only now, after three of the procedures, that we were able to think that, maybe, 2018 would be the year!

As D’s birthday was only four weeks after my latest foot operation in April, we told her that yes, there would be bunnies but they would be after her birthday and that she should start thinking about names.

The hutch and run arrived in the meantime and they were perfect! D had to give the hutch a try for size and I guess this demonstrates how sturdy it is!
  
  
So, we were all set to head off and see if we could get the bunnies one Sunday and then…by a sheer fluke I was bitten by one of our cats whilst  she was fitting and we instead spent the day in two A&E departments being treated.

So, the weekend came and went and I had to have a bite check-up two days later (all was fine) and we decided – whilst D was at school – to see if we could get the bunnies as a surprise for her at the end of the day, especially as the weekend had been a “bit” disappointing, what with the bite severely changing plans.

  
  
You can see from the top picture, that one was very eager to be chosen!

There they are,below, in their new home, waiting for D.

  
D was absolutely over-the-moon to meet them and it took her a while to name them as she wanted gemstone names but…

  

Meet Jett, a bunny with the biggest ears and a passion for t-shirt nibbling!  He loves cuddles and is very partial to strawberry leaves.

And…

  

Jasper! He’s a very inquisitive bunny, not a t-shirt nibbler like his brother but prone to sudden energetic bounds around his hutch and run, whilst Jett watches!
  
One of the provisos of having the bunnies was that D would help to look after them and she does indeed, choosing the veggies for their snacks and filling their water, hay and food bowls as we tuck them in for the night.

Both have been micro-chipped and we learnt from their records that they were born a few days before D’s birthday in May, which she loved to learn about.

In fact, they’re three months old today and have grown somewhat since we got them six weeks ago.

   
   
Happy quarter-birthday Boys!! 

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Summer Holidays Week One and How Gaming Benefits T Socially

By | August 1, 2018

We’ve been in summer holiday mode a week now, with D finishing school last Tuesday and T’s end of term being the Friday before.

As is the norm with our children, they both much prefer being in the house or garden, individually they rely so much on the school routine that, the changes greatly affect them and “touristy” places are always a bit too crowded for them.

T is also firmly into the nocturnal phase of teen hood too, missing out on the mornings and preferring not to go out unless it’s late afternoon and he knows that the field where he and his friend (a fellow ASD teen) kick a ball around, will be quieter with fewer dog walkers/other ball-playing people around. These outings only happen about once every few days and the rest of the time he’s home.

It’s all very different from when I was a teen, then if you wanted to communicate with friends, it was a cycle to their houses and – as the use of the landline phone was frowned upon – without being aware of whether they’d be in or not.

Now it’s super-easy for T to keep up to date with what his school friends are doing, there’s communication via text/Snapchat/instagram or when he’s gaming online.

We have strict settings on our WiFi, which is a relief as you can never be sure where a quick google of something seemingly innocent can take you and I also use a parental controls setting on tablets for that very same reason.  

Gaming does however have its advantages for an ASD teen who prefers to be home, there are many games that can be played with multiple player settings which allow T to compete (and he is very competitive!) against his mates and hopefully they catch up a bit with what they’ve been doing at the same time.  

Luckily for me and parents in similar situations, there are always the latest deals and bargains in the gaming sector to be found online, sales are no longer confined to post Christmas (it feels too early to mention the C word yet!).

With D, I’ve had slightly more success in getting her out but I have to ensure that we choose our timings carefully and only stick to where I say we are headed, as she holds firmly onto my hand/arm, with no detours into shops where I’m attracted magpie-like to the latest pretty items that my favourite clothes shop might have to offer, I can’t remember the last time I had a good browse/window shop btw, sad eh?

I endeavour to make outings “fun” for D too, for example, last Friday I had a shellac nail and HD brows appointment, booked for when the salon would be quieter and knowing that D would be very interested in choosing a shellac colour for me, the procedure involved in shellac nails and the HD brows, which she absolutely loves to watch, especially when the brown tint goes on to capture and colour my pale blonde brow hairs so that they can be shaped.

She even drew a picture, this is definitely not how my brows are now but the thick tint and its caterpillar effect makes her laugh and laugh!

  
An uncanny likeness don’t you agree? 

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When I Have A Moment To Myself And How #Crochet Helps Me 

By | July 31, 2018

It will of no surprise to anyone who knows me, whether online or in “real life”, that, when I have a moment, I pick up a hook!

Not a hook as in “aaaargh! Where’s Peter Pan?” but a crochet hook.

It amazes me that I can do this for two reasons:

One, because I’m left-handed. I tried teaching myself before and ….got in a mess, I went to a crafting section at a blogging event, someone had a go at teaching me and, due to my left-handedness, gave up and then I went along to a crochet group at our local library in February 2016. Best move ever! 

In two hours, I amazed myself coming out with this:

  
which grew to this within a week:

  
and then this and it could still grow!

  

And two, as a mum to two autistic teens with – I think – a diagnosis needed for me, my brain finds it very hard to switch off, if at all.

 I’ll remember forms that need to be completed, phone calls that need to be made etc and, even though I’ll have popped them into a “to do” list, they rattle around in my head, on and on some nights.

I get anxious too, more than I should, “what if’s” jump into my mind and multiply very effectively, snowballing almost.

Which is why crochet is so good for me.

The counting of stitches needed banishes the “you haven’t done….” as the calming, gentle crochet hook (unless I’m doing double trebles, I love them, such a flourish needed!) works its magic and relaxes me and I’ve found it very useful in pre-operative assessments!

I’ll go in there calm and then they’ll take my heartbeat and my mind instantly starts saying “keep calm, you don’t want a high reading, KEEP CALM, fgs keep calm!”, which sends it into overdrive!! A few times I’ve had to say “I’m panicking, please can I have a couple of minutes crocheting and it will calm down”…and it does. Silly, but it works for me.

I honestly think that, following my three operations since October 2016, I would be in an even more anxious state than I am now, where it not for crochet and it produces nice results too, which still absolutely amazes me, that left-handed me can finally do this!!!
  
  
  
I’ve set up a Facebook page here if anyone is interested in popping over! 

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InstaLinkLove Week 95 #instalinklove 

By | July 28, 2018

Welcome to Week 95 of InstaLinkLove and a change to the linky during the summer holidays.

The linky will be taking a break for the summer, returning on Saturday 15th September.  Hope to see all the fun you’ve been having over the summer then! 

  

 

Here’s my favourites from last time’s Linky and look at the detail on the dragonfly shot, absolutely stunning!

  

  
  

Enjoy the summer x 


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The pros and cons of re-starting driving lessons 

By | July 26, 2018

I’m currently a non-driver, by (kind of) choice. 

Nerves got the better of me during two driving tests and I was all set to put in for another test but “life” and the autism diagnosis process for our children took precedence, then the matter of schooling, then life events, then 3 feet operations since October 2016 and it’s something I haven’t managed to get back to, yet.

I do feel a pang of “yes, I want and need to do this” whenever I see car adverts on the TV, the feeling that we could pop into a vehicle and head somewhere for the day without waiting at bus stops/train stations would be bliss, not to mention the anxiety aspect that D feels around strangers, yes, it would be great.

As an example, D attends special needs golf sessions every Saturday now, after impressing coaches from a local (ish) golf club in after school sessions. The golf club is half an hour away by car and Hubbie took us to the first two sessions, but last Saturday we had to get there by public transport….oh my!

It was a case of getting a bus into our nearest town, accompanied by fold-down scooters, then waiting for another bus, then being on that for over an hour, then a half mile walk to the golf club entrance, then (what must have been) a half mile scoot to the club house, to register and then head to the driving range.

It was worth it to see this:

  

But oh my word, my feet protested and because D was aware that my post-op feet were screaming, she was noticeably more withdrawn to start with in her golf than she might have been normally. 

  
Plans need to be implemented really, don’t they? Time to put those grown up pants on and have a preliminary lesson, just to see how many I’d potentially need to pass a driving test.

But I’m very aware that driving lessons are pricey and actually running a vehicle isn’t cheap, the initial purchase cost, insurance, fuel and, if we weren’t buying a new vehicle (who am I kidding?!?) with a warranty, then ongoing maintenance costs for keeping that vehicle road-worthy.

When it comes to maintenance too, unless you’re mechanically-minded and have an idea in advance of what could potentially need doing to a vehicle, the costs quoted could be a surprise, the knowledge that any reparatory work needed has not only been diagnosed by sight but also the use of a diagnostics tool by Scan Tool Center could bring some comfort, although maybe not to a bank balance!!

For the time being though, I’ll have my pipe dream (mmmmm Mini Countryman) and we’ll keeeeep scooting!! 

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