Friday, 28 March 2014

Re-connection

Sion and myself have come away for a few days to a little country hotel near Nuneaton. It's come at a perfect time for us. We've fallen in a pattern recently of working, going to the gym and sitting in front of the TV without talking for the rest of the evening. This hasn't caused us any problems but we needed to stop it before this turned into the norm for us.

On the drive up we talked about our career plans, our hopes for the house, plans to start trying for a baby again and completing numerous Facebook quizzes to find out what Greek god/ess we were (Zeus for him, Hera for me), what medieval job we would have (blacksmith for him/furniture maker for me) and what place we should live in (French Polynesia for him, Kenya for me) and just giggling about silly stuff.

We enjoyed ourselves at Cadbury World (post and photos to follow) and we sat in the hotel bar eating our chicken and chips before snuggling in bed with a bottle of wine and Masterchef on.

Today we are going to head into Birmingham to shop and eat sushi, all the while those invisible strings that tie us together will be tightening and strengthening.

CONNECTING

Joining in this week with Jocelyn at The Reading Residence for Word of the Week

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The morning my garden grew...

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that 'she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow'.”  
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

One morning this week I glanced out of the window to check the weather. It had been raining overnight and looked like the incoming rain clouds would soon overthrow the watery morning sunshine that was trying to gain strength.

This combination of rain overnight followed by warmer days is doing something exciting to the garden though. New plants are breaking through the soil, tiny flowers are starting to show themselves. The unidentified tree at the bottom of the garden has suddenly sprouted catkins all along the length of it's branches. The established camellia bush next door has decided to share its heavy blooms with us. The patch of unknown leaves that threatened to take over the whole lawn has started to show us its' purple flowers...not open enough for me to identify it quite yet though. A ladybird quietly goes about her business before the next shower.









All this activity and growth means that I need to tackle the overgrown bottom third as quickly as possible, so that will be my project over the next two weeks. I need to clear it of brambles and stinging nettles, gently prune the lower branches of the trees & ivy and give the primroses and foxgloves enough dappled light to encourage them to flourish.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Our FODMAP path to healthier living

Some of you may remember me mentioning that Sion had been suffering with some digestive problems late last year. He had a whole host of blood tests and even an ultrasound to rule out any nasties, but unfortunately a definite diagnosis was never given. Last month his symptoms flared up again and after a liver function test came back as abnormal we braced ourselves for the "urgent but routine" appointment his doctor had made for him.

Thankfully he now has a diagnosis of IBS, which while uncomfortable at times, is at least a manageable condition with diet and medication as necessary. His doctor gave him a list of foods that follow the FODMAP principle of diet. As a sign of support and to keep our weekly food bill reasonable I am happily now following this principle too.

Here comes the science bit (from this website);

FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol). A diet low in FODMAPs (“a low FODMAP diet”) is scientifically proven and is now used internationally as the most effective dietary therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and symptoms of an irritable bowel, including excessive wind (flatus), abdominal pain, bloating and distension, nausea and changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea and/or constipation). A low FODMAP diet has also been proven with solid scientific research to reduce symptoms of fatigue, lethargy and poor concentration.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for:
Fermentable – meaning they are broken down (fermented) by bacteria in the large bowel
Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. These molecules made up of individual sugars joined together in a chain
Disaccharides – “di” means two. This is a double sugar molecule.
Monosaccharides – “mono” means single. This is a single-sugar molecule.
And
Polyols – these are sugar alcohols (however don’t lead to intoxication!)

You can see a list of the key foods to avoid and enjoy here

The main foods that we now avoid are onions and garlic (except for the green part of spring onions), most green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus & cabbage, stoned fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines), wheat and lactose containing dairy products such as cream and ice cream.

There are lots of foods that Sion can eat; sweet potato and pak choi are fast becoming favourites. We are learning what textures and flavours can substitute the "bad" list and how we can continue to enjoy the meals that were firm favourites before Sion's diagnosis.

Now I have the space to cook and the light to take better pictures, over the coming weeks I will put up recipes of meals that we are able to enjoy. I am by no means an expert and would advise people to check with their GP before significantly changing their diet. However, with a few simple changes we have both noticed a change for the better over the last few weeks.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Wonderful weekend

What a lovely weekend I've had, I hope you've all been enjoying the weekend too?

On Friday night my younger brother flew in for a 2 night stay from China, before jetting off again to Chile. We only see each other a few times a year so it was lovely to be able to have him as our first guest in the house. We invited Sion's sister over and used our Raclette for the first time. This is a Dutch way of entertaining, that involves grilling a variety of bite-sized pieces of meat on a hot indoor grill. You serve them with salads and grilled vegetables and its not unusual to still be cooking morsels two hours after you started!


Image from Amazon
On Saturday while Sion was working we had a leisurely time shopping for Easter treats, having lunch and doing boring, but necessary, business paperwork! We rewarded ourselves with a huge pan of paella, which I was sure would feed the five thousand - instead it only served three!

On Sunday I enjoyed pottering around for the afternoon, tidying and rearranging things. A tired bunch of tulips was about to be added to the compost heap before I noticed that despite the limpness of their stems they still looked beautiful, so I took a few quick snaps...


 
The best thing of all though is that this is only going to be a three day working week for us. On Thursday we are heading to Warwickshire for a 2 night stay in a country hotel four poster bedroom. While it is tempting to spend the 2 days lounging around, pretending to be lady of the manor, we should probably try to visit a few towns and attractions. We will be staying near Coventry so if you have any suggestions for what we could do, please leave a comment.
 
Joining in this week with;
 


Friday, 21 March 2014

Word of the Week 21st March 2014 - SPACE

How on earth are we already in March? It feels like only last week that we were celebrating the start of the new year, desperate to move from the flat that we had started to outgrow.

We've at last come down a gear or two from the beginning of the month and we are now finally being able to enjoy the space we have moved into, although I think it may take some time before we get used to having room to swing not just a cat, but a whole pride of lions.

While we were sitting in front of the TV watching Line of Duty this week it struck me that despite having a beautiful dining table and six chairs to use, we still pull up a little side table to eat dinner on the sofa. This sofa by the way is a new one, it has a bigger three seater sofa sibling in the same room. We never use the big sofa, preferring instead to sit slightly squished together on the smaller one.

It seems despite having room to be separate, we're so used to living in one space and we're finding ourselves clinging onto the old ways...just knowing there's a whole sofa and a whole conservatory waiting for us is enough right now, we don't need to use them! 

Over the next few months we have family staying with us, Easter egg hunts to organise and lunches to host. Our space will become shared and I'm sure at times it will seem almost too small - until then we'll remain on our two seater, eating our dinner on our laps just enjoying our space!


Take a few minutes to pop over to The Reading Residence to take a look at other people's posts, or link up your own

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Me & You - March 2014


This last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, it's sometimes felt like we haven't had anytime to ourselves! All the boxes now are unpacked, the garden is starting to have a little love and attention and Sion has completed the job interview that has needed so much preparation. In amongst all this we have travelled to Cardiff three times in eight weeks to watch Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament. Saturday was the last one and I'll be honest, around Thursday of last week I was seriously considering not going.

I was shattered, grumpy, coming down with a cold. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my weekend driving to watch a game I could just as easily see in my pjs on the sofa. But I kept quiet, filled the car with diesel, got up at 6.30am on Saturday...and had THE MOST BRILLIANT DAY!!

I love spending time with Sion; we giggle, we hold hands, we sneak a quick smooch when no-ones watching. Life is busy sometimes, things get too much, tempers start to fray. I can see that this can only get worse when we finally are blessed with a baby, but oh my gosh, this excitable, giggling man of mine will always get me smiling!

Pop over to Tigerlilly Quinn to join in with other blogs.
dear beautiful

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Journal - If I had all the resources...

This week Danielle at "Sometimes Sweet" gave the Journal prompt of :

"If you had unlimited resources, what political or social issue, or area of scientific or medical exploration would you fund?"

Both my parents died at too young an age, before their time, in very different circumstances. Both heart wrenching in their finality, despite their inevitability. Both moments of being told forever ingrained in my mind. Both have shaped and scarred me into who I am today. Both could perhaps have been preventable had more focus, more resources, more checks been available. Yet one cause is openly supported and funded until a cure is found. The other seemly is ignored, at the bottom of the pile, save for a few voices. 

As a child I always understood my mum was different. She would wake up some mornings with a racing enthusiasm to take a trip on the train to London, despite living in Cornwall, or want to arrange a picnic after school even though we had other arrangements. These would be followed by crashing lows where the bedroom was a safe haven, lights out, curtains closed. Shopping and bill paying were forgotten until family stepped in to help. My brother and I moved into a more stable family environment and mum returned to her immediate family in London when I was eight. Contact with my mum became lost except of rare occasions by the time I was 11, but she was, and remains to this day my mum.

My parents had been divorced for over 10 years, living at opposite ends of the country when I was eighteen. One morning when I was on a student rotation at a hospital in Maidstone, I received a phone call from my Dad to tell me that my mum had taken her own life. The intimate details of that call do not need to be written down as I'm sure you understand.

Historically she had been given various mental health diagnoses since before my parents married and had been treated as both an inpatient and outpatient at different hospitals and support groups but she always seemed to remain on the outskirts of life, never fully living in the moment. Her treatment in the 1980s and 1990s seemed to always be a medical one; injections, tablets, hospital stays to "get herself together". There never seemed to be much talking, even less listening and support seemed thinly spread. Ultimately her death was at her own will, but perhaps there could have been a different route for her to take.

Yet in over 15 years since her death there seems even less community support. Funding is being continually reduced, services being stretched, people in need being left to fend for themselves. Mental health is still talked about in hushed tones. I don't understand how someone mentally unable to function, to engage, to heal should be deemed as less worthy, less deserving that someone with a physical need of healing and functioning, yet they do. I would give mental wellbeing as much openness, discussion and funding as any physical impairment or disease. People need understanding and support regardless of their weakness. We would not hesitate to donate our time, money or help to someone with a physical impairment; a mental impairment should be no different.

If you would like to join in each week the prompt word is given on a Monday, for you to link up with on a Thursday.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The signs of new beginnings...

I finally did it...I brought my own domain name. Now all I need to do is work out what on earth to do with it!! You may notice that I've changed the layout of my blog. It's nowhere near what I want, still not individual enough, the colours a little too brash, but until I have more idea of the imagery I do like it will do as a start. Let's be honest I haven't got a clue where to go from here, but I'm putting the foundations in place! If anyone has a recommendation for a blog designer who is happy to work with a knowledge-less newbie please feel free to leave a comment!

In other news the absolute best thing about our new house is that...WE HAVE A GARDEN!! A beautiful, blank canvas of a garden. It needs some love and attention, but I can already see areas that we can make a difference too. We are renting this house and while we are limited to what we can do inside the house, the landlord is pretty open to us doing what we want in the garden.

This is what we had on the day we moved in, luckily the fencing is covered by the landlord - as soon as panels are available in Hampshire they will be fixed and replaced.

 
We are planning on turning the area at the top of the steps into a paved area with enough room for a table and chairs. A rhododendron is clinging on to space, fighting the bramble that has taken over the hedge on the left. The bottom section is a little wild with brambles and a thicket, but we are going to clear it enough for little people to use it for an Easter egg hunt!
 
 
This is outside the kitchen door, it's a very shaded area this time of the year, but come May/June time it should get the sun in the morning at least. The mud was really compacted and other than the large bush, nothing was growing in it. There was also no way to get to the top patio, without either walking through the kitchen and conservatory, or walking on the mud...until...
 
 
After a flying visit to the local garden centre on Sunday I was all set, the clock was ticking, people were arriving at our house in 2 hours...
 
 
The bed was dug over, Spirea planted, stepping stones laid...
 
 
Herbs were transferred into their new home on the patio...
 
 
A housewarming gift was given.
 
And then this morning, as I wondered the damp garden in my slippers, tea in hand, I noticed this...
 
 
Little buds of leaves, starting to break free from Winter. About to show what plant you are...I'm going to enjoy the growth of this garden, this garden and me.
 
 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tired of being tired...

Well we did it, we moved onto our house and it's already starting to feel like ours but I'm so pooped, tired, exhausted, spent...and lots of other sleepy adjectives my brain is too whacked to think of.

I'm thinking that I probably should have taken a week off, not to decorate or put furniture together, that was done by the Monday evening; but to just recharge and re-group. For the last 6 weeks every lunch hour, evening and free weekend has been taken up with arranging, ordering, packing, clearing and cleaning our lives into boxes...only to carry on arranging, putting together, unpacking, clearing, and cleaning once we moved.

At the weekend we invited friends over to watch the England v Wales six Nations rugby game. Everyone was due to arrive at 2 o-clock for a 3pm kick off. I had spent most of Saturday cleaning our old flat, so Sunday was my only day of "rest" before going back to work on Monday.

At 7.30am I was frying off mince and chopping veggies to start off a slow cooker full of chilli

At 8.30am I was drinking a cold cup of tea, cleaning the kitchen and writing a shopping list

At 9.30am I was unpacking the last 2 boxes of clothes, squashing down the cardboard and trying to tame my damp hair into some sort of style before it dried completely.

At 10.30am I was one of the first people at the garden centre, buying spirea shrubs, herbs, strawberry plants, compost and pots; before being attacked by a stressed parrot who didn't want to be part of the demonstration I had walked past...this is why I hate flappy birds.

At 11.30am I started digging the bed that the shrubs were going into.

At 12.30pm Sion came home from work, I was laying two stepping stones before potting up herbs and strawberries. Sion made us both a cup of tea, then he went to have a shower.

At 1.30pm I finished sweeping the patio, watered the plants and texted Sion to pick up some dips as well as beer.

At 1.45pm I finally got in the shower.

At 2.30pm I was making nachos for everyone to snack on.

At 2.45pm I was cleaning nachos, cheese and salsa off the carpet where it had landed after I tripped up the step, carrying the dish.

At 2.55pm I was making the next batch of nachos

Then followed the rugby game, trips to the fridge, trips to the pot of chilli and trips to the sink to wash up bowls. Everyone had left by 6.30pm

At 7pm Sion asked, "What's wrong? You've been really quiet the last few days"
At 7.01pm I burst in to hot, snotty sobs, mixed in every so often with mumbles of "I'm tired" and most telling, a whispered "I want to be able to call the spare room a nursery"
At 7.15pm it was mostly snuffles with the occasional sob.

At 7.30pm I was having a nice bath being run...

I need to make sure that I don't get so caught up in creating a perfect house that I forget to make an enjoyable, relaxing home. Over the next few weeks things will slow down, all the jobs will be done, the evenings will be lighter and we can just enjoy. I know it's natural to want to entertain and to enjoy people's company after a year of being in a tiny flat, but this year has been hard going so far. I don't have anything left in the tank, I don't have anything left to give. We need to take some time to strengthen and rebuild each other, before we hopefully, make a start on being able to call the spare room a nursery out loud.