Poetry on painkillers…

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After the slightly deeper entry about taking better care of myself, I thought a couple more codeine induced bursts of poetry were about due! Written around 4am, I’m not sure these will make it into the collection to be published…

The Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bear is a powerful beast,

With a powerful grizzly bear roar,

He growls and he scowls and he raises right up,

To show what he’s made of and more.

But what people don’t know, it’s what’s deep inside,

Just below all the bark and the bite,

A grizzly is just a bear that’s been hurt,

A bear that feels he must fight.

There is a way in, a route past his wall,

A path that’s not easy to see,

A path not well taken, not easy at times,

But the very best place I can be.

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The Dormouse

The dormouse is one that is easily pushed,

Who often gets walked right past,

She squeaks and she creaks and she tries to raise up,

But the strength is not something that lasts.

But what people don’t know, it’s what deep inside, 

When someone takes the time to see,

A dormouse is definitely not small in heart,

A doormats not what she will be.

Not many will try, and tread carefully through,

While watching where they stand,

But for those that do, for those that care,

She’ll never let go of their hand.

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Fuel for the future…

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I’m much better since the recent procedure I had but it’ll be a while before I’m back to best. I was getting frustrated with myself at how long it was taking, my sleeps all over the place, i’m spending a lot of the early hours awake and my energy levels are quite often in the drain. I booked an extra appointment with the Dr because I’m not known for being the best of patients and when I’m told to take it easy I start to get immediately antsy. At my check up it was made clear that three operations within six months is a strain on the body, especially when becoming a new parent. Luckily for me, my Dr knows me well and knows that telling me to rest up and take it easy is just as useful as talking to me in Latin, I don’t really understand! So he took a different tact, he knows I’m a writer, he knows I need to keep myself busy so he suggested I make sure some of my projects can be done from home. The message was altered accordingly, rest my body, sleep when I can (Scarlett allowing!) and then I’m allowed to occupy my mind!

And as I walked out of the GP surgery, it felt like a massive relief, a massive relief for my husband as well who has been an absolute rock but for all his influence on me, hasn’t been able to get me to slow down! The first thing I did when I got home was make a list (you know how I love a list!) of what I was going to do over the next couple of months, most of which I can do from home. A list to stop me going stir crazy.

  1. Watch my beautiful little girl develop – she changes every single day, she is turning into a confident, beautiful, funny and clever child and being her Mother is one of the highest honours I have ever been bestowed.
  2. The Anti Bullying campaign, there’s meetings to be had and that does mean getting out and about but it means a lot to me and I have some fantastic people on my team helping with it, so as much as possible meetings will be in cosy coffee shops and as local as possible and I will *gulp* delegate as much as possible when necessary and understand that that’s ok…!
  3. Work on completing the second children’s story, whilst getting the first published. This can all be done by the comfort of my iPad and computer.
  4. Take care of my own health even half as much as I care about Scarletts. Tests showed I was still quite dehydrated and three days in a row I had coffee for breakfast whilst cooking multiple things to ensure the freezer was stacked with homemade baby meals. The organisation will now include making sure I am also getting all my nutrients and vitamins; this includes my husband, we have a lot of fun cooking together but we’re going to make sure that that doesn’t just involve our evening meal!
  5. Quality time with my husband. We had a surprise date on the weekend and we had such a fabulous time. We laugh together every day and enjoy our time with Scarlett all the time, but we’re parents every day. And when we get childcare, we have time as husband and wife and it’s amazing. When Scarlett goes to sleep there’s always emails to respond to or tidying up to be done, but I’m more in love with my husband every day we’re together so I’m going to make sure we have some time to enjoy being husband and wife even when we’re just at home. 

When I made that list, I instantly felt lighter. All of a sudden, I didn’t need to stress that I wouldn’t be able to get stuff done, I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t have the energy to do things. I had a concrete list of things to concentrate on, priorities to attend to. I’m not being forced to stop, I’m able to heal whilst still moving forward! 

It does put certain plans on hold, I was planning a big 30th birthday bash, not to mention some of the 30 before 30 list items, there was also a play I was going to be part of, I was joining a choir and I had started back at netball. All things I can no longer realistically do at the moment. It pains me to say it but I cannot do it all. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT plan on giving up on those things, they remain on my ‘to do’ list, but they’re now on my ’to do slightly later’ list. I won’t finish my 30 before 30 list by 5th February, it’s a week and I’m ambitious and a dreamer but I’m not a complete idiot! However, I will spend an entire year being 30 and so I’m giving myself some more time. Think it’s a cop out? Think I’m breaking the rules? Yeah I am, but I set the rules, so now I’m changing them. What are you going to do, ring the life plans police?! Don’t get me wrong, I stressed myself out because I wouldn’t be completing it in time, I’m not so good at failing, but it’s only by my own benchmarks that I was doing it in the first place. The only difference between whether I succeed or fail is how I look at it. And why would I look at it as a failure if I had an alternative way of seeing it? 

I had a day of feeling low that my 30th wouldn’t be extraordinary, I wanted something really landmark, it’s 30, it’s a big one! And for me personally it’s an important one. And then I realised that I have an extraordinary life, a wonderful husband and the most beautiful baby. The two most important people in my life who I will wake up with that day. And by the sounds of things, I certainly won’t be doing nothing, I’ve been told to keep certain days/evenings and afternoons free, my Dad’s coming down so I’ll have all my family around and so it will be landmark. And hey, next year, if I manage to stay out of the operating theatre for longer than a few months, I’ll do something big, we’ll fly to New York, we’ll host a fancy ball, we’ll climb a mountain. I’ve always done life according to my own rules. I was in hospital when my husband turned 30, so next year, maybe we’ll do something ridiculously big together for the big 3-1, or the big 3-2, we have our whole lives ahead of us for multiple landmarks!

I’ve always been in a rush to do lots of things right now, I’ve always wanted to get as much done as possible and if I’m resting then I’m failing; if I’m taking it easy, I’m not pushing forward or succeeding. What I’ve learnt recently though is that I have to learn that if I push and push and push, the only thing I end up doing is setting myself further back. If i’d rested properly after the emergency C-Section and the follow up second operation, maybe I would have avoided the third. I can’t know for sure, but what I do know is that if I carry on pushing, I’ll be getting on for a 4th operation before Scarlett’s first birthday. By pushing so hard, I’ve held myself back. But now I need to take heed of the Dr’s advice, my husbands advice, my family’s advice! it’s time to rest my body! My mind can keep going (there is no off switch for that, I’ve searched!) but even that won’t be able to continue if I don’t sort myself out. I owe that to myself and more importantly, I owe that to Scarlett. So the next couple of months will be at a more sedate pace. there’s time for everything I want to achieve and if I sort myself out I’ll be able to do even more.

We all want to surpass our own expectations, and we all want to dream big. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves. For me, finally sitting down will set me free! You wouldn’t drive a car without putting petrol in it, or expect it to drive without enough air in the tyres, cars can’t take that kind of pressure and carry on successfully. So why do we so often not treat our own bodies with the same courtesy as we treat our cars? If you’re running on empty, put some air in your tyres, make sure you have enough petrol before going on a journey beyond your capabilities. It doesn’t make you a failure, you wouldn’t say the car failed at making the trip, you shake your head at the driver who doesn’t look after it well enough. 

There are so many exciting journeys to go on, some of them are local, some of them don’t need much petrol but it doesn’t mean you’re not adventuring or moving forward. With a healthy car, you can travel miles, and I plan on going on lots of adventures in the future so for now, my car is having a service.

Resolute Resolutions…

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19 days in is slightly late to be posting New Years resolutions but I’ve never played by the rules…! Over the holidays we spoke a lot about our plans for 2015. Having got married, launched a business, had careers take off and having a baby makes 2014 quite the year to beat!

I wrote an article about New Years resolutions and within it I talked about why so many resolutions fail, the writings probably too small in the pictures of it but the message was to keep goals small and achievable instead of setting myself up for a fall by thinking any major changes I want to make can happen within a year. And as I wrote the article in November, I had a whole two months to take my own advice.
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My only downfall with that is that I tend to be an idyllistic dreamer so dreaming small isn’t really my thing. A disclaimer to the piece should really have been that if you do like to set yourself big goals, New Years resolutions should perhaps not have an annual expiration date. A year, in reality is not that long to change some significant (although I’m not at all suggesting that it’s NOT possible). Luckily with my 30th birthday coming up, once operation ’30 before 30′ is completed, I have an excuse to write a ’40 before 40′ list so am appeased enough to make our New Year goals slightly less fantastical (SLIGHTLY less, I’m still a ridiculous dreamer).
So after a glass (or 3) of whisky and champagne respectively one evening in December, my husband and I reflected on the list from 2014 and set five things to achieve in 2015. It was also one of the things on the ‘Activity Advent calendar’ list (see past blog post for more information) so two birds, one stone and all that! We did similar the year before and we’re very lucky to have successfully completed all five. Obviously we had slightly different lists each as we incorporated individual goals (despite there being a few inevitable parallels) and therefore I’m only posting my lists.
2014 goals
1) Get married
2) Have a baby
3) Get some writing published
4) See a completed Carried on the Wind on the stage
5) Officially set up a family business from both self employed threads
2015 goals
1) Publish my children’s story
2) Launch the first stage of Tatterdemalion’s (our theatre company) Anti Bullying campaign
3) Do something significant to mark my 30th birthday
4) Do some work abroad
5) Take Scarlett on a holiday abroad (can’t be combined with goal 4 though, that’s just cheating)
Now admittedly, they may seem quite big goals but most of them only need focus and completion. Putting them on a list hopefully just gives me the kick up the backside to ensure they get done. The children’s story is written, and illustrations have been started, so getting it published is the end of that process. The Anti Bullying campaign has a lot of support already and pieces of work just ready to be launched so, again, it’s at the start of an exciting couple of years but very much the end of the preparatory stage. My 30th is in a couple of weeks and I know my husband has some secret plans and I have some ideas for what could constitute as something significant, it’s just a case of putting the time and effort into sorting something. We have a few pieces of work being discussed which could be abroad so hopefully we can make that a reality in the first half of the year. And as for taking Scarlett abroad? Well, we’re a bit ahead of the game on that front, about a week after we wrote our lists we booked a holiday and in just five months time we’ll be flying off for a week in the sun, we just need to sort out a passport for our baby girl!
New Years Revolutions are something that a lot of people do, and according to a few different surveys, only 8% of us succeed. But I think it’s unfair to make it so black and white, so ‘pass’ and ‘fail’. If you set a goal of ‘losing three stone’ (and I use that as an example because apparently it’s the most common one) and end up only 2lbs lighter by NYE the end of the year in question, it goes down on paper as a fail. It may only be two pounds but it’s progress, it means you’re getting there. If you want to save money, you only really need a few pounds in a piggy bank to have achieved, yet most people want a more ground breaking change. Slow and steady wins the race, every little helps, there’s hundreds of corny phrases for a reason. We all want to make the best out of our lives, and for a lot of us, lists and plans and goals are a good way of getting focused, of staying on the path we want to be on. But they’re OUR lists, OUR goals and OUR decisions, so if you haven’t changed the thing you set out to, it may be because over the year your priority changed.
I found an old diary from when I was 17 and in it I was furious with myself for not losing two stone when another girl in my class had lost weight. As I read on, the fact that at the end of the year I’d achieved all kinds of other things completely skipped my adolescent notice. I considered myself a failure. Which looking back is ridiculous, what I’ve learnt since is that being a healthy size 12 as a teenage girl did not make me ‘a hideously obese minger’ (teenage me’s words not mine!) and that setting goals is great as long as you’re not going to hold yourself up to the unbending opinion of your past self.
In the last couple of years I’ve set goals based on the path I’m on, where I’m planning to go; I’m lucky enough that at the moment, I don’t want any big life changes. Changing big parts of your life are hard. If you find yourself getting frustrated, why not either cut yourself some slack, and while you’re at it, look at the bits of your life that you’re proud of, the bits you like, and concentrate on those. Maybe try to grow the parts of life you love and the bits you don’t like so much will get less attention and perhaps fall away without much effort. Either way, if you’re already finding yourself struggling with your 2015 plan, just adjust it? Feel like that’s cheating? Why? Who are you cheating? It’s your life, your plans, and therefore your rules. Although as a disclaimer, this only applies to your own plans; if your boss gives you a Monday deadline and you get fired after storming into their office screaming about being in charge of your own destiny and they’ll get it by Thursday, PLEASE don’t tell them I told you to!
So please share your own New Years resolutions and how you’re aiming to keep to your resolve, but don’t put your self worth against them. By December 2015, the last thing we all need is to feel like is that we’ve failed. So maybe I’ll add a number 6 to my list, to go for a drink at the end of the year to celebrate a year well spent, whatever we’ve been doing. So if you fancy joining me, meet me at the bar on December 30th, I’ll be sitting with a Kir Royal in hand, excited to hear all about the best things about your year, see you there comrades!

Codeine induced creativity…

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I would like to apologies before you read the below, the rather strange nature of it and the abrupt end. It was written last night at 3am and in the interest of honesty I’m pasting it as written but luckily I had the good sense to at least post it after a bit of a sleep and with time for this little disclaimer at the top of it…! Still comrades, let’s hope my brain picks up the next couple of weeks!

“A few days ago I had a minor operation in hospital, everything is fine and I’m ok and I’ve now got a couple of weeks worth of resting and taking it easy. I’m also pretty heavily stacked with painkillers and antibiotics which means a) I’m not sleeping very well, and b) my writing has taken a turn for the weird..!

With blogging, a slightly weirder tone for a little while is not so much of a problem, but I’m a professional writer. I write scenes for courses, my children’s story is in the process of being illustrated before it’s ready to be published and I have articles in a series of local magazines each month. Luckily, my next contract for scenes is at the end of February and I’ve done next months articles, otherwise; frankly, with some of the pieces of work I’ve written and looked back on, I’m pretty sure I could unravel my writing career within the next couple of weeks.

For prosperity, I thought it would only be right to (as I’m very certain it’s not going to be used for anything professionally!) paste one of the codeine induced fabrications of my already dramatically imaginative mind. Historically, codeine has always sent me a little bit loopy, so the next two or three weeks should at the very least, be entertaining for those around me….

“Malfred Finds Peggy

Malfred the manic depressive bunny goes into town, and keeps his head down to the floor.
He wanders around with his hands by his side, and wonders if he could do more.

To re-find his smile, or let out a laugh, he used to be happy he thinks.
He seems to remember, he was jolly once, and handed out liberally winks.

Then one day our bunny, our Malfred, he meets, a companion to be by his side.
A green frog that’s called Peggy, she’s kind and she’s sweet, she’s Malf’s truth, she’s Malf’s love & Malf’s pride”

I know. I’m aware, it’s odd. It’s…a poem based on my baby daughters favourite soft toys. My husband and I have given them all back story’s, and codeine has now created a poetical love story between a rabbit and a frog…”

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Paving your path…

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When you work in a ‘normal job’ you have annual leave, you have pension funds, you have a certain amount of security and you can take breaks. You even mostly get a designated two days off a week. If you work freelance you have no designated time off so you have to choose the time off, great if you’re not bothered about earning money, but if you’re a hardworking conscientious freelancer, it means you can’t ever really relax; there’ll be emails to respond to, invoices to write, tax returns to muddle through. Want me to be honest? 90% of the time, I LOVE it, I love the unpredictability, I love the variety, I love being in different towns, working with different people. Sometimes we can barely breathe for being so busy, and other times we look at the week ahead and have four days off. As with everything, there are pros and cons to each lifestyle but the one we’ve chosen can be a high maintenance one and therefore it doesn’t appeal to some.

When it comes to parenting, there’s no pension scheme, there’s no annual leave, you get very little sleep and sometimes you can’t think for how busy it is and sometimes you get quieter days and easier weeks. Seeing a slight parallel?! We keep reading articles and books which tell us about the ridiculous shock to the system parenting is, and I’m not disputing that. You’re suddenly given this little creature who is 100% dependant on you, with no handbook, and no real way of knowing what the right way to proceed is. And the self employed life doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the baby life BUT, whilst trying to be a parent there are certain skills you need to develop, certain skills that our lifestyle has already developed. Now please don’t mistake my meaning, I am by NO way insinuating that this means we’re better parents or ahead of the game. However, for example, since being a teenager, I’ve spent many hours up in the middle of the night, admittedly it switched from writing essays to feeding a baby but still, I feel comfortable, I know how this feels. We get jobs through at last minute, and with my husband being a fight director, we’re already used to packing up the car and having lots of bags, only now it’s not swords, it’s a steriliser and a travel cot! It doesn’t put us ahead of the game, it doesn’t make us better parents but certainly it’s given us a sense of calm. We still don’t know what we’re doing but we’re used to living day by day with new things being thrown at us so it at least doesn’t really phase us! 

We often stay with friends and family when we travel around and it often gives us glimpses of what ’normal’ life looks like. Being able to commit to regular events because they know where they’ll be from week to week (and day to day!), having a full fridge instead of shopping day by day because they know they’re going to be at home to eat it; regular things, regular lives! Are we sometimes jealous of that way of life? Yes sometimes, especially when we’re eating a service station sandwich instead of a roast dinner on a Sunday because we’re on our way to or from a job. Or when we’ve finished work at 2am but know we’ll still be up early with Scarlett the next morning. And after a busy time, there is no better feeling than coming home to our own place, and getting into our own bed! And that’s what makes up the remaining 10%; but to be honest, only 10% of slight envy I’d say is pretty good going.

When Scarlett turns 4, she will be going to school and that’s when the real shock will come for us, when we are more tied to a more regular lifestyle! She is our priority and so we will have to travel a lot less as a family. We’re lucky really, we’ve already started to bring some of our stuff more local, my husband most regularly at the RSC as he is an Associate Practitioner there which is just 35 minutes down the road, and we’ve set up a more central company to expand the work we do nearby. But it will be an adjustment, that’s the thing about parenting, and life in general; sometimes you’ll be prepared, sometimes your choices will put you slightly ahead of the game, or at least let you be able to understand the game, but in the blink of an eye you’ll be in a situation that’s beyond your strengths; your highs will turn into your lows, your ‘ahead of the game’ will inevitably turn into ‘please can I stop playing..’! The phrase ‘life is a roller coaster’ is such a popular cliche because it’s so true. Apparently things like anxiety and depression have increased since social media has really taken off, and I can totally understand why; we all put our highlights online, a memoir of happiness to look back on. You don’t have a backstage pass to other people’s lives, everyone is fighting their own battles and therefore although obviously some people go through the mill more than is fair, we’re all in this big mixing pot together! So although there are some people who seem to try and feed off how other people are living their lives, it’s because they’re trying to get through their own issues.

I’ve found, when you get married, have a baby and continue working, you don’t really have time to focus on anything else and not comparing my life to anybody else’s has lead me to being the happiest I’ve ever been. Frankly it get’s tiring worrying about if you’ve made the right choices anyway! I think it’s why when you reach your 30’s, you become so much more self assured, in hindsight spending so much of my twenties worried about what type of person I wanted to be, and what type of lifestyle I wanted to live was a waste of time that thousands of people in their twenties do! But once you just start being and doing, you get a lot less headaches and enjoy what you’re doing so much more! This is wisdom that I will try and pass onto Scarlett but that doesn’t mean she won’t still go through the awkward teenage years and the messy twenties! If we’re lucky, she’ll be as confident and independent as possible but no-one gets through that time completely unscathed! The best we can do is continue to live our lives to the fullest, be true to ourselves and prove to Scarlett that whatever she chooses in life and whoever she chooses to be, we will love her unconditionally and be there for her. 

So we don’t have annual leave, we don’t have a pension scheme so we’re putting some money aside to save one up for ourselves, and day by day our schedules are wildly different. There are alternatives, we’re in for a slight lifestyle change when she goes to school, but in the meantime, we’re having a blast. None of us get a handbook for our life choices, and if we’re lucky we have fabulous friends and family who accept us for who we are (in which department, we are extremely lucky). So if Scarlett wants to get covered in tattoos, shave her head and live in a monastery, we won’t necessarily understand her choices but as her mother I will fight to the end for her right to make those choices (and try and ensure she at least chooses a sanitary tattoo parlour!).  

A lot of my fellow bloggers have lives that are slightly sideways of ‘normal’, in that they don’t work 9-5pm Monday to Friday, and I love reading what choices they’ve made. One of my main problems in my twenties is that I wasn’t sure which choice to make, there are hundreds of options and all worth exploring, but at some point you have to have the confidence to say THIS, this is what I’m doing. It’s not to say you can’t look into the other options and keep a few other contenders as hobbies, but decisions do need to be made. Whether you’re in your twenties and struggling, or lucky enough to have already discovered your calling (I always envied those with such a clear idea early on) know that there is no correct answer, and therefore no wrong answer. Life is short (wow I’m full of the cliches today hey!) and nobody else gets to walk your path so if you want to have trees lining the path or high fences up around it, you plant those trees, you build that fence. The path only has to be attractive to you, other people can visit you on it but nobody else will be living there (have I bled the path analogy sufficiently enough yet?) It’s taken me years to decide on my path, and mines filled with cups of tea in ornate tea sets, everyone who visits gets to wear a cape, everyone gets their dream theatre role and there’s an abundance of thai food! So whatever path you choose, forget everything you think you have to worry about (a good piece of advice I had once was to think about whether the ‘disaster’ you were facing would still be a disaster in five years time) and concentrate on making your path as perfect for you as possible. Every flavour of ice-cream has its fans (a little mix up of metaphors there to brighten the post…you’re welcome!) and why would you stop eating coconut if it’s your favourite just because more people think strawberry is the best? It makes no sense, only you lose out. It’s like anger, holding onto it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die (now I’ve started with the analogies, they won’t stop so strap in people!) doing things because you think it’s the most socially acceptable is like putting yourself in solitary confinement and expecting other people to be bored (that one doesn’t work so well but I didn’t get the best nights sleep last night so cut me some slack). 

Anyway, what I’ve spent far too long saying is that the variety of life is what makes it so amazing. Live yours, visit others and enjoy the change and experiences visiting them bring, don’t judge others on their choices just because it’s not necessarily what you’d do. And if you do all that you may just surprise yourself and how much free-er you feel, the time you spend worrying you can swap for time spent enjoying your life! I turn 30 in a  couple of weeks and I have no worries about entering a new decade; getting older is not something that scares me, I enjoy looking back, I reminisce a lot, but these days I’m much more secure in my future and now I’ve decorated my path to my tastes, I’m thoroughly enjoying being here! 

Road to Romance…

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In a few weeks, my husband and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. A whole year has passed since we said, ‘I do’. And WHAT a year! They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and in some ways, it has been incredibly hard, two operations, one kidney infection, one emergency c-section and of course the ridiculous journey of parenting! But it has been the most incredibly amazing first year of marriage! 

The wedding was small, we took our immediate family to the beautiful Well Walk Tea Rooms in Cheltenham for afternoon tea and then we had an amazing stay in the beautiful Hotel Du Vin for two nights. The problem is, I was four months pregnant, and felt really quite ill, and through pregnancy my epilepsy reared it’s head (I refuse to say ugly head because my journey with epilepsy gave me an inherent strength I may never have been capable of without it). These two things mean that to be honest, the whole weekend was a bit of a blur. I have very few memories of it and not in the ‘oh it was such a whirlwind I barely remember the day’, but in a ‘I seriously don’t remember much’, kind of way. A couple of things stick out;

  • Catching my fiances eye as I walked into the room before becoming his wife.
  • Enjoying a glass of non alcoholic champagne whilst sitting in our adjoining baths in the luxury hotel room that night.
  • At a party the next night, dancing to a song sung live by two very close friends who can’t possibly know how cherished that moment was to us.
  • Having a family lunch a couple of days after with everyone who had travelled to come and celebrate with us.

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I don’t wish to sound flippant or dismissive about the day, but I’ve always sort of thought that the legal part of getting married was rather unromantic ‘admin’, the government or the church gets you to promise things to each other that every other couple promise and in my eyes, that makes it a bit robotic. The promises we actually make to each other on deciding on a life together definitely wouldn’t be worded like they are in the government approved handbook. To me, the romance of a life together are the individual things that are only true of the two of you, the reasons you pick that one person to spend the rest of your life with, above all others. 

On February 7th last year, we legally became man and wife, and it was a lovely day (from what I can remember!). HOWEVER, we are a couple who have always done things a bit differently to others and so when we were planning the wedding we always said that perhaps once I wasn’t pregnant, we could arrange something a bit more ‘us’ to symbolically celebrate our decision. Now we’re married, we can’t upset anyone by doing what we want and running off for a secret ceremony, we can’t break any laws by making promises that are truer to us than the ones dictated to us. In summary, we can have a second wedding!

I know I know, it’s usually just really rich people who have a second wedding, and renewals are supposed to be for people celebrating many years of marriage or people who get back together after a separation, we don’t fall under any of the regular categories. But that’s sort of why we’re doing it, we’re not in any regular categories, in anything we do in life! We can ‘get married’ every year of our lives if we want to (we’re not going to!). What we do want to do, now we’ve had a bit of time to breathe from the last whirlwind that was our 2014, is sit back, relax and organise an event that’s a bit more the two of us, make promises to each other and then celebrate without wondering if I’ll have to run to the toilets to throw up at a moments notice (well…unless of course I go a bit overboard on the celebrating! …no no come on now, no-one likes a trashy bride.).

Doing it again can’t take away from that day in February, and we will always raise a glass of champagne and do something together to celebrate the day we became man and wife. But being the dramatic people we are, we’re also going to add a date to the calendar to celebrate when we do it our way!

Out of Office Off…

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Well dear friends, it has been a little while, almost a whole month since my last post. My husband and I ‘closed’ the business for nearly a month to really savour and enjoy our baby’s first Christmas, and so I’ve been away from the computer/iPad and really made the most of time with my family without any work. You’d have thought with less working, we’d be doing less travelling around but we had a lot of friends and family to see, not to mention a family holiday so within the last month we’ve spent a grand total of four nights in our own home! A fantastic first Christmas for Scarlett, but a rather rubbish show of a completed memoir for her! So I thought that now we’re back at work, I would do a little summary for prosperity.

Our 6 month old will not remember a single thing of the season, but for us, it was the most magical Christmas either of us had ever had. A sunny walk along the beach on Christmas Day, our baby’s first taste of solid food around the Christmas Day dinner table, nearly losing the ability to breathe over laughing so much when playing a humming game on Boxing Day, seeing all our immediate family over the three days, eating WAY too much cheese and drinking too much wine and prosecco; there are too many memories and even more photos, as well as a half hour compilation of videos! Scarlett may not remember first hand, but we’ve certainly got enough to make sure we never forget!

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As well as the main few days, we ticked off a fair few of the more expensive and more involved items of our 30 before 30 list over the months holiday. We ticked off numbers 7, 15, 16, 21 and 30. 

Firstly, number 7; we attended a ball. It was time to organise our company’s first annual christmas event, and as such we decided to go all out and bought a table at the Nutcracker Ball, which on the night we attended was in aid of Winstons Wish. We had a fantastic night and not only won a couple of things in the raffle between the eight of us but also won a silent auction item! A rugby ball signed by Matt Dawson along with tickets to a match in London. As well as that, we had lots of wine, dancing, fun in a photobooth and a delicious slap up meal! A huge amount raised for Winstons Wish whilst having a great night with some great colleagues and friends. Definitely something we’ll be doing again!

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Number 15 and 16 go together; a trip to Scotland and to try a deep fried Mars bar. Just before Christmas we headed to Edinburgh by train for four days and did a lot of walking, sightseeing and spent plenty of hours round the amazing Christmas markets drinking gluwein, eating seafood, seeing friends and spending some much appreciated quality time with each other. It turns out Scarlett is a huge fan of trains, she had most of the carriage laughing with her by her pure delight at the changing scenery and a 6 hour train journey turned from something we were dreading to something rather brilliant. We love Scotland, both of us had been in shows at the Edinburgh festival so we did quite a bit of reminiscing and visiting old haunts. Now, the other one – the deep fried Mars bar; I was dreading it, it’s a chocolate bar dipped in batter and deep fried for goodness sake, how could that possibly be remotely tasty, let alone something that won’t immediately clog up your arteries. We went to find a fish and chip shop that sold them and then realised we were in Scotland’s tourist capital and so you can’t really turn around without bumping into another one that provides the chocolatey battered treat! We chose one on the mile and went in to buy it. There it was, pale and crispy, and with more calories than your average weekly intake (well, in all honesty, not my average weekly intake but still pretty high!) we started recording a video, I waited to feel the bile rise in my throat….and then…

…well, crispy on the inside, creamy, warm, chocolatey goodness on the inside, what’s not to like! I’m somewhat ashamed to say that although I couldn’t finish the thing, the half that i had was actually pretty freaking tasty! It doesn’t take away from the fact that the Scots are a little bit out of control and there is literally nothing they won’t deep fry. In the same chippie there was deep fried burger, deep fried haggis, deep fried several different varieties of chocolate bar, they’re unstoppable. All in all, a fantastic trip away and a country we’ll definitely be returning to.

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But Christmas wasn’t over and we still had two more to tick off! Number 21 – watch some live music. So on December 28th, a group of us headed to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to watch the London Concert Orchestra play a few hours worth of all John Williams music. It was AMAZING! Both of us had watched an orchestra live before but not in a proper symphony hall, and not one of the standard we watched that night. Jaws, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Schindlers List and ET amongst others. There’s something about hearing such iconic music played so that you can hear it all around you; the introductions alone filled the room and your whole surroundings with the feelings you got when you first watched the films in question.We spent most of the night squeezing each others hands and letting out little squeals as we recognised each intro. After the concert we grabbed some late night food and made the most of a child free evening. Again, this one is one we’ll definitely be doing again, and we have a list of Symphony Halls or Music Halls to visit!

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Lastly but by no means leastly (is leastly a word? I don’t think so, but I’m sticking with it) is number 30, so named secret number 30 on the list as I was planning it as my husband’s Christmas present. In the end my Dad actually got the tickets for him, with an extra one so he could take a friend and an under 4’s ticket, so he could choose a young child to take along. As luck would have it, he asked Scarlett and I to accompany him and once Scarlett re-arranged some things on her social calendar, the three of us were able to go along to the Harry Potter Studios tour in Watford! As you go in, there’s a sign that welcomes you to the ‘magical world of Harry Potter’, and that’s exactly what it is, absolutely magical! We got to walk around the sets, see most of the props used in the films as well as finding out plenty of exciting little facts and trivia along the way. The lights and colours absolutely fascinated and delighted our little girl and had a very similar effect on us. We also got to try butterbeer which was…wow, sugary! Some hours later and we found ourselves marvelling at the amount they can get away with charging in the shop! Don’t get me wrong, the jumpers are lovely but not £75 worth of lovely.

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There are still a fair few items on our list, but we’re well on our way to completing our challenge and have just over three weeks to do so! And with the finish line in sight, we’ve started creating a ’40 before 40’ list. For this list we had six months to complete which of course limited our options somewhat. With ten years however, we can be much more exotic and expansive with our list. As we started talking about it we realised that by the time we both turn 40, Scarlett will be turning 10. TEN! You hear me? We’ll have a ten year old. By then we may even be starting to know what we’re doing with this parenting lark. And Scarlett may have a sibling, or siblings (gulp!). This realisation prompted a discussion on what we thought an ideal age difference would be and therefore when we might think abut trying for another baby. I know, I know, quite the leap from a discussion that started with  ‘ooh it’s my birthday in three weeks’.

Anyway. As well as ticking off a few on our to do list, and enjoying a family Christmas, we visited as many friends as possible and welcomed in a New Year. We celebrated New Years Eve (and therefore Scarlett’s ‘half birthday’) staying in Burton Upon Trent in a beautiful country house complete with pool table, log fire and another dose of too much cheese and too much wine! Whilst there we visited the National Arboretum, went for a drink in a milkshakes and comic book cafe and stayed up into the early hours playing games. For the first time in years we also participated in ‘first footing’, a tradition which originates in Scotland where the men of the family come into the house after midnight with a log (for warmth), money (for prosperity) and some representation of food or drink (for good cheer and good health), in response the folks at home have a welcome drink for them on entering the house. There were six of us (plus the little one) and we had a glass of whisky waiting for the men, and raised our own glasses of champagne as they came in. I remember my Dad coming into the house with similar (I think we used a lump of coal for the occasion) when I was younger as it was a tradition that my Mum’s Northern roots taught her, so it was nice to recreate it, and considering Tom’s adopted heritage, it was nicely apt! 

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On coming home this weekend, we even managed to sneak in a family meal with those we hadn’t seen whilst away just before real life restarts!

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I usually try and end my entry on something i’ve learnt or try and come up with something profound that Scarlett can nod and get teary eyed with as she finishes each piece (I’m assuming of course she reads it and is filled with an awe inspired adoration for her hero, her Mother…HA, I am of course joking, she will be forced to read it and probably get fed up of me quoting it) but this time, it is in fact, more of a summary. Almost a creative interlude between seasons if you will, “last week on ‘insert latest programme here’”, so from that point of view it’s relatively apt that the season break came at the six month point. We’re halfway through our first year of being parents, we’re nearly at the end of our first year as a married couple (where the time went I have NO idea!) 2014 was a ridiculously filled, wonderful, crazy and important year and we have more landmarks to come in 2015. I learnt many ‘lessons’ over the past month or so, the biggest one of which has probably been just how important it is to sometimes switch off. As both my husband and I work freelance hours, it essentially means we’re always ‘open’ and so although we still see family a lot and catch up with friends; there’s always emails to respond to, we’re often late for things or miss events because we’re away with work. We’re lucky enough that we can often travel around as a three when either of us are working, and therefore we get plenty of family time, but when we officially ‘close’, it means we leave the out of office on, and really close. And in those times, nothing else matters. We’ve enjoyed it so much we’re making sure that every year, Christmas is sacred and we will also ensure that we get one completely ‘closed’ week around Summer time. That’s not to say we won’t go for weekends away when we can or go out and about; but for roughly four weeks of the year, as a family, we are completely closed to the world! We’ve got this Summer already sorted, there’s a private villa in Portugal with our names all over it, flights booked, car hired, and waterpark tickets researched! We won’t always be able to have such a luxurious week in the Summer but I hope that in the future, and perhaps when we’re nearing the end of our 40 before 40 challenge(!) Scarlett will always know how important that time is and that she is the reason we make that time sacred. Our baby was a surprise, but the best surprise either of us could have ever hoped for; she makes us better people, she makes us prioritise our lives and she meant that over the last month, we had the best time either of us has ever had over a Christmas and New Year season. 

Season break over with comrades, i’ve missed you! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year. We’re back in business and ready to see how the second half of the first year turns out! Onwards!