Me and mine project – June

#TeamBorg

 

 

It’s the beginning of July, and while for some this might mean long lovely summer days with the family, for me it means…the Tour de France!

Not taking part obvs, not even watching, but the grand tour that takes my husband out of the country for nearly a month. He’s a cycling journalist and this is his mecca.

It means for him the challenge of a lifetime, living the career dream, for me it means juggling work, home, a dog and a three-year-old.

(single parents, you have my utmost respect)

Last year, just before the tour, we got married. It was the best week ever. But having your husband leave the country for the best part of a month, less than two weeks after you get married is tough. Really tough.

So this year we decided we’d get some quality family time in the bag before he left. Biarritz in France is our favourite place in the world. It’s our ‘happy place’. We’ve been a good few times, mainly because when we lived in Birmingham flights were SUPER cheap, and we could nip over for a couple of days for £26 a flight and be on the beach within a couple of hours of leaving home.

I fell in love with the place, and fall more in love with it every time we go.

But the last time we went was 2012, two months before I found out I was pregnant, and we’d not managed to get back. So we decided we’d spend our wedding anniversary in our favourite place and we’d take some family to share it with us.

We got cheap flights from Birmingham and booked a nice house we found online.  

Our wedding anniversary was bliss. The house was self-catering and had a little pool so we spent the day bobbing around with our daughter and had lunch at home. And in the evening we popped out on our bikes for a pizza. It was as simple and perfect as I ever could have hoped.

 

This photo for June’s ‘Me and mine project (where you take a photo of your whole family each month) is us out for pizza all together. It’s so important she has these memories – that she was there at our wedding, there at our anniversary. When we got married, it wasn’t two people marrying each other, we were a family declaring our love for each other, promising to love and support each other forever.  We are a team in our ups and our downs. I know she’s too little to remember these moments, so I hope me and mine is something for her to look back on. And it’s so lovely for us all to be on pictures together when there are so many we’ve jus taken of each other.

Three days after our anniversary,  my brother-in-law, mother-in-law and her partner all flew out to join us and we had a perfect couple of  days hanging out, being silly in the pool, cycling around, paddling in the sea, just relaxing and laughing lots.

 

One evening, we even managed to leave our daughter with the in-laws and snook out for a quick drink alone. What a treat!

Biarritz is beautiful, one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been, I can’t wait to go back! 

http://www.biarritz-hotel-ocean.co.uk/

(Flights to Biarritz are available through flybe , we booked our house through Air B&B, but have stayed at a couple of hotels I’d recommend including the Mirano hotel – uniquely decorated, little chic place with amazing owners, the Oxo – small but centrally located, and the ocean – amazing hotel, best location, expensive!)

Thanks to rainbeaubelle for the me and mine project idea – where you take a photograph of you and your family each month.

 

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Hello again, I’m back!

 

My love, my light

 

I’m back! OK, so you probably didn’t notice I was ever gone! That’s fine,

 I’d only just started blogging when a glitch in the matrix set me back a little. Well – a miscarriage to be precise. Don’t feel awkward reading that, It’s a fact, it happened, and I’m learning that for some reason it’s socially unacceptable to talk about. But, I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and 15 years of radio presenting – telling all of my life stories to total strangers – means I’m used to over-sharing.

I had to take a step back from the blog, that I’d actually only just set up, because I set it up when I found out I was pregnant as something to do on my maternity leave, and once I realised that maternity leave wasn’t going to happen, I couldn’t face the blog either.

So what’s changed? Well in all honesty, it’s been a long process. Longer than I expected. Longer than I imagined it took before it happened to me.

I didn’t think about the life admin required after you miscarry a baby – the cancelling of email subscriptions telling you how big your baby is in vegetable terms, the baby yoga class updates you subscribed to, the deleting of the baby apps, the unfollowing of the many million Instagram accounts of perfect, multi-sibling families and beautiful maternity clothing that only seems to pop up in your feed just as you’re having your first ‘good’ day.

I didn’t realise I’d suffer flashbacks, and nightmares, that leaving my daughter at nursery would be like having my heart torn out, and I’d need weeks of counselling to deal with these issues.

I didn’t consider that it would take many days – weeks even – before I stopped waking up in the night and instantly reaching for ‘the bump’ before remembering I was no longer pregnant.

I didn’t realise my body would take months to get back to normal, that my boobs would stay massive, my weight wouldn’t ‘drop off’ that once a month I’d turn psycho – but wouldn’t have a clue when, as it would take at least three for my cycle to return.

I didn’t realise that every time I saw a pregnant friend or sibling children, a baby scan, or a new pram my breath would be taken away.

I didn’t realise that some people would put a time limit on your grief, or decide for you how upset you are ‘allowed’ to be upset.

I didn’t realise I’d feel so guilty, so angry, so sad, so bitter, so hollow for so long….

But with good counselling, a good online support network (MOLOs I’m looking at you) great friends (REALLY great friends) a loving supportive husband, and the most beautiful kind amazing daughter I could ever wish for, I feel like I’m getting there.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think ‘what if?’ When I don’t think about my impending due date and how pregnant I ‘should’ be right now. There isn’t a day when I don’t look at my little girl playing by herself and feel guilty, there isn’t a day when I don’t think ‘what did I do wrong’?

But now there also isn’t a day when I don’t feel positive and thankful for those who supported us.

There isn’t a day when I don’t marvel at the strength of my body to repair and recover.

There isn’t a day when I don’t think I’m also really f*cking awesome for recovering from something so physically and emotionally painful, for getting back to the gym, signing up to an online course, holding my hands up when I struggled and asking for professional help, for putting on a brave face and getting back to work, even when inside I was broken.

There isn’t a day when I don’t look at what I DO have and feel extremely privileged.

There isn’t a day when I don’t look at my daughter and feel a bit guilty for not realising earlier that SHE IS ENOUGH, for remembering how goddamn lucky I am to have her in the first place.

There isn’t a day where I don’t laugh and smile with my awesome friends and know that the future is bright

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Holiday wardrobe!

 

One of the loveliest things about going away is getting a few bits for wearing on holiday. Why I am always so keen to get something new for holiday, when I’m so rubbish at shopping at home I’m not sure, but I’m always careful to make sure it’s just one or two things, and they’re versatile. 

This year it’s some amazing high waisted jean shorts from American Apparel that can totally be dressed up or down (or even worn with tights underneath in colder months) The high waist hides a multitude of sins and they’re just long enough for thigh-flattery.

I’ve also recently discovered Joanie clothing – AMAZING vintage/retro inspired clothes in lots of sizes. (8-22) I LOVE their t-shirts and bought two for my holiday. I practically lived in them, so comfy and really cute.

I nicked the idea for the head ties from @mother_of_daughters on Instagram. But somehow she can really carry them off, and I ….can’t! ha ha, I tried, and it kept my sweaty hair off my neck, but I just couldn’t quite make it look cool – it’s from Lush anyway!

And my bag? oh, it’s incredible. It’s a tote, but you can pull one of the straps through and use it as a rucksack, which was amazing for transitioning between walking and cycling. Plus it’s made from durable fabric and has lots of pockets for threenager bits.

They’re expensive but worth it (imo) and it was my treat to myself to replace the bag that was stolen when we were burgled.

It’s from Kanken

 

This dress (that I’m doing an epically cheesy pose in) is from a great online shop I’ve discovered called Olive clothing (which works for me as I do most of my shopping online as I don’t get time to go shopping and I HATE changing rooms!). All their dresses come in one size which I think is generally about 8-14. It can be hit and miss – I’m wide-hipped and a couple of dresses have been tightish. They are also pretty short given I’m only 5 foot 4 – this was on the edge of acceptable for me! But as it was hot, I wanged some shorts underneath and wore it out, I even cycled in it. It’s muted, pretty, chic, comfy and there’s plenty of room for dinner in it!

 

And I just had to include this little beaut who’s rocking a John Lewis dress I just can’t get enough of, especially when she matches her tangle twister!! ha ha

thanks for indulging me x

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‘One in four’

So, I haven’t written here for a while, haven’t updated weekly as I planned to originally because I’ve been a bit poorly. 

 
I’d wanted to start a blog for years and never had the courage, never thought it would ‘cut through’ but on a recent Hendo with a lovely friend (who happens to be a very zen life-coach of sorts) I decided it didn’t matter what the blog achieved, or who read it, I should just do it for me, because I enjoy writing. So I did.
 
It happened that a couple of weeks after that hen do, I discovered I was pregnant. And so I realised writing this blog would be something I could do during my maternity leave. Whether people read it or not, it would be something to keep me busy and keep my brain going.
 
Except it won’t. As there will be no maternity leave. On Thursday 16th February I miscarried the pregnancy at 14 weeks. I found out a week previously – at my 12-week scan – that I had suffered a silent miscarriage at around three weeks. Despite my desire to choose ‘an option’ to bring things to an end, several things stood in my way – medical procedures and ‘protocols not followed’ etc. Things took a natural turn that saw me landed in A&E in the middle of the night.
 
I have debated in my head since then whether or not it is ‘appropriate’ to write about it here, or anywhere, whether it’s something ‘private’ that should be kept that way.
 
I’ve decided to write something though, for a couple of reasons:
 
1) It seems the general consensus is that I shouldn’t. Despite one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it is still seen as taboo, and a ‘dirty secret’ and this makes me angry
 
2) At the moment it’s all so surreal that it feels like it didn’t happen. And I feel like talking about it / writing about it helps me to process it and make it real – I owe it to myself and the ‘baby-that-never-was’ to make it real
 
3) I feel there’s a conversation to be had – one I have been part of on several forums / social media platforms – to change the way miscarriage is perceived, and miscarriage sufferers are treated. I feel that the after care has been non-existent and there is a definite societal expectation that I will now ‘forget about it and move on’. This needs to change.
 
My hospital experience was so brutal and surreal, that when I got home I felt shell-shocked. I wrote it down just to get my head around exactly what had happened. 
 
I haven’t brought myself to let anyone read it yet.
 
I wonder whether publishing it here will help anyone else? Would it help to other sufferers to come to terms with their own experiences? Would it help anyone who’s at the start of the process to understand what might happen? Would it help friends or family of other sufferers to understand what happens and what they’ve been through?
 
Or would people just say I’m doing it for the wrong reasons.
 
Please do comment here to let me know what you think, I’d be very interested to hear.
 
At the moment it’s all still pretty raw. But I do feel incentivised to help action a change. I don’t want other women to experience what I did. I don’t want other women to feel they are keeping a dirty secret. I don’t want other women to sneak back to work in a cloud of secrecy about their absence and thus not receive the support you deserve.
 
Noone wants to be that one in four. But if you are, I’m here for you. 
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Breastfeeding. Why is it STILL causing confusion?

Here’s the story of women who were challenged while travelling without their children, but WITH breast pumps, and breast milk, give it a read:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38809100

 
Breastfeeding. Seems to be a polarising subject. Even I at times have found myself thinking that all the press surrounding women who’ve been chastised for breastfeeding in public places, isn’t actually helping the cause. But it’s SUCH an important topic for us to keep pushing, keep talking about.
 
When I had my daughter I really wanted to do it, really wanted to succeed at it, (naively thought it would be easy).  But I didn’t. She wouldn’t latch on in the hospital, they wouldn’t let me go home, I got more stressed, so did she. Four days they kept me prisoner, and eventually when I could ‘prove to them I could do it’ I was freed. I felt like a naughty school girl failing her exams, and our bond wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I tried and tried and had just about cracked it when my mum was taken ill and I had to visit the hospital several times a day without the baby. It’s amazing how quickly your supply dwindles when you aren’t providing it.
 
And that leads me to be amazed by how difficult it is to express when you are trying to breastfeed but aren’t around your baby.
 
Circumstances meant that I returned to work when my daughter was 16-weeks-old. In hindsight maybe not the best move, but it felt right at the time. I was freelance and it was the odd shift, but I wanted breast-feeding to continue and be successful and this required me to express at work.
 
I had no idea where to begin – in an office? In the toilets? I hunted for an office and apparently in my brand-new high-tech building, all our offices are floor to ceiling glass…NOPE. So the toilets? erm NOPE…where then? It didn’t take long, of whispering to mums in corners at work, to discover there are many of us, hiding this little secret and coming up against the same walls: Noone to ask, nowhere to do it. “When I worked at our London office, I used to run down to John Lewis in my lunch hour and use their changing rooms,” one woman told me. I don’t work for a tiny company. I work for one of the biggest, most liberal, forward- thinking corporations in the world. Not when it comes to new mums though it seems. 
 
I sheepishly mentioned my predicament to my male line manager, who was helpful, but the solution was to provide me with a key to the dressing room of a TV presenter. So, in my tiny gaps at work, I’d run up a flight of stairs, fumble with the lock and try to ignore the huge mirror lined with bulbs, hold my foot against the door ‘just in case’ and get to it. Feeling totally embarrassed and often so flustered it didn’t work anyway.
 
Then the other part. Where to store it? My office is giant. It’s open plan. Hundreds of people work in our space…and share the fridge….So, I’d wrap the bottle in tissue and hide it at the back of the fridge. A fridge that’s probably opened hundreds of times a day.
 
After not too long I realised this was crazy, not working for me, not healthy for the baby. And – I’m slightly ashamed to say – I gave up. Beaten.
 
I was surprised however, once I started digging how many women had suffered the same way I had, and felt they couldn’t speak up about it. Breast-feeding is a fact of life. Infact, it SUSTAINS life, and yet we are constantly derided for it by people who completely misunderstand it. The “why doesn’t she just go home and do it” brigade, who have absolutely no concept of feeding on demand. Of the stress of a mother whose baby is crying and needs feeding RIGHT NOW. Of the emotional strain on new mums who don’t quite have their confidence, and go out and give it a go, only to be crushed by a withering look and retreat to their homes, not to leave for an entire week (yes, been there, more than once)
 
We should be encouraging it. We should be educating EVERYONE about it. 
 
So why am I reading about Heathrow airport questioning a woman with a breast pump? Are you for real? No feeding rooms at HEATHROW airport? Where are we – the middle ages? When are companies going to be brought up-to-date? When are businesses going to make the right provisions and educate their staff, when are mums going to feel comfortable doing what literally comes naturally, when will we stop shaming women? Hopefully soon, and it won’t be soon enough.
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The builder who gave up his time for free

Here’s the amazing story of a man who gave up his time for free to help out an old couple:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-38826371

In a world full that’s currently seemingly full of hatred and division, I find it such a relief when a beautiful story of love and sharing cuts through.

This is the story of a disabled couple who fell victim to a rogue trader who left them without a usable kitchen. The husband – who currently lives in a nursing home – used some money (£13,000) to buy his wife a new kitchen for her birthday. Arnold has to live in a home since having cancer of the spine.

The couple couple, one can assume given Arnold’s age, have been together for a while and were separated by horrible circumstances: Imagine your husband not only having a life-changing illness, but then having to move out of your home and live elsewhere, leaving you alone.

Then as a present Arnold tries to do a lovely thing for the wife he’s left, and buys her a kitchen. Except not everyone’s as lovely as Arthur. Not the guy who left them in the lurch with an unfinished, unusable, unsafe kitchen anyway.

Well this is the part I love. Instead of reading about this story and saying “good grief some people are awful aren’t they?” and returning to work, local builder Ernie Etah heard about their plight on the radio, and fixed their kitchen for them.

The builder has swooped to the rescue, fixing their kitchen and not charging a penny. What a guy. Ernie is, as Arnold says “epic”. Ernie, we salute you. I hope other people can read the story and do the same. Maybe a bit of altruism will make the world a better place.

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As easy as riding a bike

Happy new year!

Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and very happy move into 2017. I can’t help but think that figure sounds so futuristic. Doesn’t help realising that I went to university 20 years ago this year – eek!

Christmas was lovely our end. For once I held back on going overboard with the Christmas presents for our little girl. The other half wanted to get her a bike anyway, so that was her present ‘from Santa’, we got her the Sylvanian Families boutique she’d been asking for for weeks (despite a last minute, “no, I want the treehouse” – yeah thanks Nickleodeon. God bless Ceebeebies)

And we hung a stocking full of lovely stuff.

We knew we’d get presents from so many other people – grandparents, aunties, uncles, friends etc that we really didn’t want to go overboard.

We had a lovely time and managed not to travel. We’re in Manchester and my parents are in Macclesfield while my in laws are in Leicester. Most year’s we’ve been to both and then travelled home on boxing day and gone straight back to work, so this year it was lovely to go to my parents for Christmas dinner, come home, and have the inlaws round at ours on boxing day. It’s njust nice to have your own bed sometimes isn’t it?

Something really amazing happened on Christmas day, that I’m still in awe of, and that’s my little girl learning to ride a bike. She was three in September! And I have to admit, it was a little bit of a case of ‘egg on my face’ with regard to the other half telling me she’d be able to do it, and me arguing to the other.

She had a balance bike a good year ago and has become increasingly brave on it. Getting to the point, as fearless toddler do, where she flies down hills with her feet up.

The other half (a keen cyclist) assured me, that when kids are good on balance bikes ‘the done thing’ is for them to move to a pedal bike WITHOUT stabilisers

On Christmas eve we had a ‘discussion’ about whether or not this was a good idea. My point being – let’s put stabilisers on just for Christmas day, as I couldn’t deal with her falling off, crying, having a mardy and Christmas day being ruined. His point – she’s super single-minded and once the stabilisers are on, we’ll never get them off.

So, we go into the street on Christmas day on her brand new bike, SANS stabilisers and…well…here’s what happened….

Junior Borg Rides a Bike from OJ Borg on Vimeo.

And here’s what she did on her second attempt two day’s later.

When are the CX World Champs? from OJ Borg on Vimeo.

So yeah folks, my three-year-old can ride a bike! it’s almost comical how easy she found it and how proud I am. She loves running and swimming, so maybe we have a triathlete in the making. Maybe….

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Festive visit to Altrincham Market

I love discovering new places, especially when they aren’t that far away,  and on friday night I had the pleasure of visiting Altrincham market house.

http://www.altrinchammarket.co.uk

It’s a wonderful big building not far from the tram stop, and offers some of the tastiest food and drinks you’ll experience.

On the night my friend and I visited, the market house was in full festive mode, and reminded me of something from a Dickensian drama.

According to their website you can’t book a table, but you can bring your dog and it is child friendly. certainly on the night we visited, there were plenty of kids, toddlers and babes in arms.

We were surrounded by handmade ice creams, bagels, hot chocolate and some of the best pizza you’ll ever taste (according to valid sources) and although we opted not to eat (purely based on the fact it’s so popular we couldn’t get a seat!) we had a delicious mulled spiced winter warmer, and hovered while we soaked up the atmosphere.

It’s bonkers to think this wonderful little trove of treasures is here and I’ve been missing out. As a young teen we always paid visits to Altrincham for the birthday parties at the icerink, but since then it’s not somewhere I’ve made the time to visit other than to see friends. This place is brilliant though, and I would definitely recommend a visit. Tucked away in one of the sides is a small play area for little ones with toys, teddies and books, that a couple of little people were making full use of during our visit.

Design, food, vintage and craft markets take place on different days of the month here, and  we were lucky that on our visit the market was open late, selling an abundance of gifts.

I had a delightful little mooch and couldn’t resist a couple of home made treats for the dog (he gets left out a bit since the bab came along) and found a stall selling beautiful wildlife images. It turned out the lady  running the stall is the photographer, and talked us through her world trips where she came face to face with all of the animals. I always think it’s rewarding to buy something from someone who’s made it themselves, and who can talk to you about the piece, and has clearly put a lot of love in to it.

I felt incredibly festive and would love to return to sample the food at a less hectic time of year. Let me know if you’ve been or if you have somewhere similar to investigate near you

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Elf on the Shelf…oh what fun

How’s your Elf on the shelf going? For us, like many things “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. My instagram addiction meant I was armed with ideas of what the little dude (or is it a girl? we’ve still not worked it out) would get up to through December, but have I done them? NOPE

Most nights we’re just dragging ourselves up the stairs when one of us remembers “the bloody elf!”. Actually, let’s be honest, it’s most mornings, when we’re on the way down. 

I nearly got caught red-handed while moving the elf the other day and actually threw it into the fridge so she wouldn’t see me. I swear the elf is actually designed just to wind up parents and make us look like fools, more than for the entertainment of small people. Even the “the elf’s going to report back to santa” threats don’t seem to be working, my three-year-old actually said “but mummy, she’s not real” the other day, once again inducing the thought of “then why am I bothering to sneak around at 6am so you don’t see me move it then”. The elf has been cursed several times, and called names I daren’t publish, but in the spirit of Christmas, we persevere….

like a lot of things we do, it’s ‘for the kids’ and we hope it’ll be a lovely tradition. Though to be honest, when it leaves at Christmas I won’t be sad to see the back of it.

I saw someone recently blog about a kindness elf. Right now that seems like a much better option. So tell me how yours is going, and any simple – QUICK ideas you might have….gotta dash, there’s an elf that needs moving….

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Five under £5: December

Hurray it’s December and that means my five under £5 is festive themed. 

It’s all about stocking fillers, something I absolutely love looking for. When I was little I stayed at my nan’s every Christmas eve, and would lie, pretending to be asleep, while she snook in and hung the stocking at the end of my bed. I’d then spend the rest of the night desperate for it to be morning so I could open those presents. Often the stocking was more exciting that the main act of Christmas, and that excitement and anticipation is something I really want to pass on.

So what have I bought this month?

 

  1. My Little Pony Pez sweets £2 from Next. My husband works away a lot and often brings little presents back from the airport, the last was a little pez dispenser which Norah-may loved. She also has a minor obsession with Rainbow dash, so this is a match made in three-year-old girl heaven
  2. The Secret Life of Pets lip balm tin £5 from Next. This was one of those ‘at the till’ grab purchases. One of our first cinema trips with Norah-May was to see secret life of pets and she loved it. She also loves lip balms and steals mine at every opportunity. Now she’ll have her own. Although they smell so good I might have to ‘borrow’ one!
  3. Hand made ribbon bow hair clips from Our Kid in Chorlton. This little shop is my new happy place, and stocks the loveliest gifts. I’ve bought a few presents from here, including lots of these bows to go with presents for little girls in the family. They’re beautiful and with pink and grey to choose from not too ‘girly’ and at 50p each, how can you not love them? Plus it’s always nice to support little local independents, especially when they’re run for and by mums
  4. Fox socks. (are they foxes?!) These are also from Our Kid in chorlton, and at £4 are a great little gift. They’re knee-high, and I can’t wait to see N-m in them, she’ll look so cute and 70s!
  5. Glittery reindeer £1.99 from my local garden centre near my mum’s in Macclesfield. No Christmas arrangement is complete without one!
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