Double Trouble – Pregnancy and Beyond

“We’re twins, and so we love each other more than other people.”  - Louisa May Alcott

Our eldest son will be 11 next month and our boy/girl twins are now 7 and fully fledged junior school attendees.  It is honestly crazy how quickly the time goes by, it only seems like yesterday that we were trying to get our heads around the news that two babies were heading our way.  Dealing with newborn twins was no mean feat and pretty much eradicated any broodiness I may have felt beforehand.  It was certainly a journey but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I have decided to share with you over the next few posts my twin experiences.

When our eldest son turned 2 we decided that it would be nice to add another sibling to our family unit. It took a while to happen and as often is the case, once we ‘stopped trying’ I fell pregnant. Trouble is, after giving up on baby Number 2 in the November, we had booked our wedding for the following December.  When I found out that a baby was on the way it was too late to cancel the wedding and stupidly thought ‘how hard can a 3 month old baby at a wedding be?’ Perhaps hindsight is a useful tool, but at this point we didn’t realise that two stowaways were growing within!

At my first scan the nurse gave me an excited grin telling me she “had a surprise for me” and promptly turned the screen to show me two alien looking beings sitting back to back. Shock was an understated feeling that I experienced in that moment.  With my now tear-streaked Mum sat holding my 3-year-old son, I tried to reason there must be some mistake, could she scan again as twins are not in my family, must be a computer error?  With a ‘You Mums’ knowing smile she ignored this request, congratulated me and sent me on my way clutching a photograph of the phenomenon that was now occurring inside of me. My little lad was seriously confused after only just getting his head around the fact he was going to have a baby brother or sister and now it seems he was being given a bonus one! I then proceeded to tell random strangers in the hospital that “I have two babies in my belly…TWO!” as if I was some miracle mum having to bear twins for the first time in history.  As hubby was unable to make the appointment due to work commitments (he is a police officer in London) I phoned him with the news saying “They are OK, the babies, we have two of them!”  He decided it must be a wind up as my Mystic Mum had a dream that we were expecting twins and here I was making the dream a reality.  He started babbling about space in the car and about buying a new one. Car? Car! I was going to be growing two human beings in my body and providing them with their airport lounge for departure! I couldn’t think of practicalities at this point!

Being pregnant with twins is a bit like waking up one day and deciding to emulate Demis Roussos’s fashion sense. Goodbye to the funky elasticated panelled maternity jeans I wore with my firstborn and hello to kaftans and non-restrictive garments. At 6 months pregnant, when I had to give up driving as was unable to fit my ever-expanding belly behind the drivers wheel, I was often asked “how many days/weeks I had left” to which I would answer “Still have 3 months to go! There are two in there!” This answer was met with a look of horror and a glare at my stomach. Yes it really will get bigger!

Movement becomes very laboured in the final trimester, the trimester they call the ‘nesting period’ where you fix up the nursery or go shopping for baby clothes.  However, with a twin trimester I needed a cat nap after just managing to get to the top of the stairs to use the loo.  To add insult to my swollen ankles, I had my beloved and oh so energetic 3-year-old son to care for.  Not wanting to make him feel less loved I had to slap on the air hostess smile, strap on my hipflask of Gaviscon and play whatever game he wanted for hours on end. He took to asking me to lay with him at bedtime to help ‘look after the babies’.  Not one to pass up the opportunity of a nap I happily agreed.  One evening, whilst I squashed myself into his tiny bed, my phone rang downstairs, then my mobile in the next room, then the house phone again. I knew it was my Dad checking up on me whilst hubby was on nights. Trouble being I was now like a beetle stuck on my back, unable to roll over the top of my child for fear of crushing him and with no other way to pull my massive stomach into a seated position, I just had to lie there helplessly. Eventually, I heard my Dad’s car screech to a halt outside, his spare key in my lock and me shouting “I’m OK, just stuck!” to his relief. He hauled me out of the bed in a similar fashion to those diet shows where the overeater gets stuck on the sofa and they have to remove the side of the house.

The twins grew daily and I had to switch to eating little and often as my stomach (and bladder) were now squashed flat with all the room they were taking up.  One day, as I neared the light at the end of the tunnel, my daughter was on the move, my son’s head had engaged so he was in the cockpit ready for launch, but my daughter had decided to head the other way, perhaps to use my tonsils as a chew toy as she had exhausted my other organs. This, however, meant that she had pushed herself under my ribcage and I couldn’t actually take deep breaths without excruciating pain. I had to spend a whole day in the pre-maternity ward begging passing midwives to “get these babies out please” in an ever-increasing panicked voice.  My Obstetrician, who obviously had to fill her monthly quota, asked me (from a distance) to “hang in there as you are only 35 weeks and we are going to get you to at least 37 weeks”.  We? WE!! I don’t see anyone else enduring this pity party of never-ending months of pregnancy.  Thankfully, she ignored my hormone induced rants and my daughter eventually wiggled herself away from my ribcage and allowed me to breathe again.

The next two weeks went very slowly but I managed to make it to 37 weeks. I developed an amazing knack for doing things with my feet.  It was impossible to try to bend down to pick things up, or get off the floor again if I did, so my toes became very dexterous. My eldest son had become used to the hippo that was formally his Mum who now cried at most things on the television and resembled a narcoleptic most afternoons.  My bag was packed with my birth plan which pretty much read ‘Who the hell knows what will go down?’ and we were off.

I will spare you the gory details of my D-Day, apart from the fact that I pushed those creatures out naturally, pat on the back for me!  I had taken a lot of drugs, along with my hubby who was experimenting with the gas and air between my early contractions. As natural births with twins are quite rare I was asked if I would mind some student midwives observing. Obviously, asking me after drugging me meant I agreed and when it all kicked off I felt a bit like a stand-up comedian with a room full of people willing me on. My son came first and he was so tiny that the hat I brought for him was too big and he looked like a little elf. He was shown to me like a prize and then taken away as I set about getting my daughter out. However, my daughter now sensing the extra room decided to do some back flips and the nurses starting prepping me theatre and I don’t mean the kind that puts on shows. “No way Jose! You made me wait for this natural birth now let’s get her out!” So whilst hubby looked on desperately as I almost bit off my on tongue, our little lady finally arrived naturally. I was finally allowed to hold them both. It really hit me then, I have two babies, oh Jeez, how wonderful, but oh god this is going to be a challenge!

Stay tuned for my next twin instalment!

Upping Sticks

My blog has returned! No longer is it pushed to the depths of my endless to-do list, but back for your (hopeful) enjoyment for the foreseeable future.

See, the reason for my complete lack of blogging of late is because we have moved house. Yes, we have upped sticks, packed up the house, the kids and the dog to move away from the hustle and bustle of living in London, for a quieter life in the countryside. It has been about five years in the planning, three of which were fraught with ‘shall we, shan’t we’ conversations and in the last year it has been the head mash that comes with selling and buying your home.

We lived in our last house for eleven years, our three children have been born there (not literally) and our family of five has acquired ten tonnes of clutter along the way. With our eldest boy about to embark on Year 6 and our twins heading into Year 3 of juniors, we felt that the time was right to make this move.  However, it is no mean feat trying to relocate five lives (plus a dog, although to be fair he really only needed his blanket packed).  Not only did we have to find someone to buy our house, we had to find a house we liked enough to buy, find three school places and work out hubby’s new commute.

Selling our house was an experience I wouldn’t wish to repeat anytime soon.  As a serial renter before me and hubby bought our now former family home, the whole selling house business was something I viewed on TV with the likes of Kirstie and Phil seemingly completing the process in a day. It didn’t look that hard, I just needed to adopt a loud assertive voice and a confident sales patter. Or so I thought. When the droves of buyers (seriously there were a lot) decided to invade our home I found myself acting more Gollam than Kirstie, gathering up my ‘precious things’ and muttering under my breath when prospective purchasers turned their noses up at our choice of décor.  The first few buyers through our door I practically hugged, offered homemade cookies and a spreadsheet of the pros and cons of living in our street. As the numbers went up and no offers were on the table, my sales approach become a little lacklustre.  I no longer felt impelled to gush about my happy home but instead allowed them to show themselves around and have free reign in looking through my cupboards.

I think my lack of enthusiasm came after the many frustrating questions such as ‘its quite small for a box room isn’t it?’ or ‘your stairs are a bit steep aren’t they?’ or ‘why isn’t there a downstairs toilet?’ (which was asked whilst rooting through my understairs cupboard, presumably looking for Harry Potter).  One delightful purchaser asked hubby ‘where the stink pipe was?’ whilst examining our decked patio, not really sure what her intentions were but each to their own! One couple who seemed very interested and who I actually mouthed “its in the bag” to hubby about, said they would have bought it but were put off by the view of houses across the street.  Erm..this is a London Borough and not the rolling hills of Wales!

No turning back now!

No turning back now!

However, our saving grace came one Sunday afternoon whilst I was sitting at the dining table with the children doing homework, a roast dinner emitting delectable smells around the house and I was channelling my inner Mary Poppins, with much less singing involved.  Our Estate Agent had done their usual Crystal Maze style challenge of a 10 minute warning of an impending viewing, meaning we had to ready the house in record time and hide the dog in the neighbour’s garden.  The prospective purchasers arrived whilst I bribed the kids not to talk under any circumstances as they have a tendency to point out flaws. Example, buyer will compliment wallpaper, child will explain Daddy had to cover something up. Buyer will point out fence panels, child will own up to the ‘quick job’ they overheard from their parents. Thankfully, the buyers this day were a very keen young couple embarking on their first home and hubby and I were both on a mission to get our house sold! While hubby bombarded them with information on loft insulation and ‘reliable boiler systems’, I was retelling all the happy memories that had occurred in this home and what a good vibe it has! And despite our dog actually breaking through the fence to say hello, the couple made an offer the following morning!

Many people informed me over the weeks following our sale that moving house was ‘the most stressful thing you can do in life’.  Now, as a mother to twins I reckon I can turn my hand to most pressured situations so I smiled my reply and promised to ‘prepare myself’ all the while feeling smug that I had it in the bag! Yeah right. For anyone who has moved, they will know that it is not a stress free experience. Firstly, even after we had majorly decluttered, had a boot sale and carried out numerous trips to the charity shops with unwanted goods, it dawns on you how much stuff you actually own. I became so intimidated about packing it all up that I literally hid the moving boxes and found a million reasons not to embark on the process. Finally, a good friend of mine couldn’t stand it any longer and came round to get me started.  After a full day of wrapping, boxing and ridiculing my possessions, we had only actually packed up half of my kitchen! It’s then that I realised the enormity of the task in hand.  And if it was going to take me that long to pack up our house, how long would it take to unpack at the new house!

Moving day came around far too quickly and after shipping the kids off to my parents, hubby and I spent our last night in what was now someone else’s home.  I expected to feel sad and a sense of attachment, but without the children at home and our belongings all packed up, plus sleeping on a mattress in a bare room looking much like a squat, it didn’t feel like home anymore. I was ready and excited for our next step. And apart from leaving our family, friends and the best neighbours ever behind, I couldn’t wait to embark on our next chapter.

We have been in our new home for almost three months now which is hard to believe.  The time has flown by. The children have settled into school and made friends. Hubby has become a long haul commuter and is actually reading real books again (so proud) and me and Chester are settling in with the thoroughbred country dogs over our local park as he tries to repress his hooligan side. Lets just say you can take the dog out of the City but you can’t take the City out of the dog!

 

I Am Never Drinking Again….

Hangover
noun: hangover; plural noun: hangovers
  1. 1.
    a severe headache or other after-effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol.
Today, I am suffering with my second day of a hangover and I am definitely feeling the alcohol blues!  I know its self-inflicted and I shouldn’t expect sympathy, but I didn’t intend to end up feeling this way!
On Saturday I had a girls night out to mark the occasion of my leaving do.  You see, me, hubby and the kids are moving to the country in a few weeks time and to celebrate/commiserate my departure I decided to invite my local ladies to come have a glass of something with me.  The danger of this is that a lot of us ladies are Mum’s, who not able to have much of a social life any longer, so tend to unleash hell when we are allowed out to play.
From what started as a few cocktails in the first bar, soon moved onto Rose Tequila shots in the second bar! From my initial plan of sipping a few glasses of vino whilst sitting down and chatting with the gals, ended up with us arms around each other screeching along to the resident band.
This is all fine and dandy.  It does us good to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves every now and then but we always forget about the morning after.  The moment you wake up not quite remembering how you got home, you piece together the night before with the aid of debit card receipts from the bar you ended up in once the cash ran out. You struggle to lift your head from the pillow, realising you are still wearing the top from the night before and your bedroom floor resembles a French noir film with clothes strewn from bathroom to bed, not from passion but from drunken undressing.
For me, my hangover starts in the middle of the night, my dreams are filled with images of people handing me tiny teacups of water that I can never quite reach to my mouth.  From this, I will wake up with an insatiable thirst as if my mouth is full of sand but I still haven’t quite got the energy to reach out to grab the bottle of water beside my bed. My sleep after this is seriously staggered, a term I like to call Winesomnia, when the dehydration and lack of body salts or whatever it is that makes you feel as if you have had your organs removed, will cause you to lay awake feeling completely exhausted.
When I finally drag myself out of my deranged slumber, I find that I’m walking like Mrs Overall, not able to straighten my back, my head is pounding and the nausea is kicking in.  I decide to use the shower as a recovery tool but find myself slumped in the corner almost rocking as if I’m a victim in a thriller having just witnessed a murder.  Post shower, I find myself applying moisturiser about 5 times, to which it instantly disappears as my skin is crying out for dehydration alongside my liver and kidneys.
As the thought of even sipping water makes me feel like I want to hurl, I chastise myself for overindulging the night before. Why couldn’t I switch to soft drinks at the second bar, why did I have to drink shots, what the heck was in those cocktails? I send out my very sympathetic hubby for my not very healthy hangover cure of can of coke and salted crisps. I think it’s the sugar, caffeine and salt that is appealing and I feel that it is my only hope now between me functioning as a normal human being or my children thinking I have been possessed by some alien being with crazy hair (haven’t quite got the nerve up to brush it yet!).
The coke and crisps help a tad. It means I can now talk in two-syllable answers and my shuffle has become a little more upright but beyond having a movie afternoon, I feel like I have the mothering skills of Mrs Hannigan. In fact, I can still only whisper the contents of what I drank the night before as the memory is still turning me green.
As the evening draws near and I finally have to stop wearing my sunglasses in the house, I have an insatiable need to eat stodge.  I am scavenging in my kitchen cupboards for high calorie carbs, I am desperate for melted cheese or chips or a combination of both. At last tea is starting to taste less like vodka and there are glimpses of the old me returning.  As the kids head to bed with promises that ‘Mummy will be better tomorrow’, I am hit hard with the alcohol blues, the last and most dreaded part of my hangover when my mind is racing with feelings of woe. This is the time I need to hit the sack and remember that next time there is an offer of a night out that I will be the sensible one.
So here are my new rules for surviving a hangover:
  1. Make sure you have absolutely no plans for the day after the night before.  It is very important that you keep conversations to a minimum until you learn the ability of speech again.
  2. Try and eat when you come home from the pub. I know this is sometimes tricky when inebriated but believe me if you can negotiate a sandwich making session you could soak up some of that alcohol.
  3. Drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks during the evening out. It really works as proven at boozy dinners when there are jugs of water on the table, much less wine is consumed. If you are a vodka drinker its easy to just have the mixer in between the vodka fuelled version of the drink.
  4. Apparently it is not advisable to start your hangover with painkillers but instead with a multivitamin as this will help replace those nutrients you wiped out with your cocktails last night.
  5. Finally, and most importantly for me, designate a close friend to be in charge of your desire for shots. The minute you suggest a round of shots, she/he is allowed to slap your hand or confiscate your purse for a half hour time out session.
Should be an obligatory test in between rounds to see whether you have had enough to drink!

Should be an obligatory test in between rounds to see whether you have had too much to drink!

Looking For Jimmy

As I sit here and type, my feet are throbbing, my head is pounding and my stress levels are just starting to calm down from their earlier crazed state.  Along with this feeling of utter exhaustion, I also now have a new-found respect for teachers, teaching assistants and any member of staff that deal with children as a job.  The reason for my current state of mental and physical health is due to the fact I have just returned from a school trip with my 6-year-old twins class to the Tower of London!

As most of you know I have twins, a boy and a girl.  Non-identical, in looks and definitely personalities.  As their class approaches the end of the infants they were treated to a big excursion with the whole of their year.  An educational visit to the Tower of London.  We live in a London Borough, so it’s a fairly manageable journey of around 45 minutes to our destination and with it being the last school trip of their young years before Juniors, I decided to put myself forward as a volunteer.  I have attended a few school trips in my time as a parent but not many ‘big trips’ as my eldest was in infants when the twins were babies so I missed out quite a bit.  However, I still fully expected that today I would mainly be coasting along behind the teachers, able to look at the various exhibitions with my only responsibility being the holder of the coats or something similar.  How wrong I was!

Heading to the Tower!

Heading to the Tower!

Each parent helper were given a team of 6 children and my team included my twins.  I knew the other kids in my team by name but not much more than that. As they eyed me up to see what sort of ‘helper’ I was going to be, I also had a split second decision to see what type of ‘helper’ I would decide to be. Should I allow them to use my Christian name? Was I expected to be authoritarian or more ‘down with the kids’? How much can you raise your voice at a child that isn’t your offspring and how much ‘knowledge of history’ was I expected to impart with them?  First job was to assemble my team into pairs, this was no mean feat despite it appearing an easy task.  Firstly, I had 3 girls and 3 boys so one pair would have to be mixed, this was a no deal situation with my daughter! Secondly, I was hoping to sit my son with the most immaculately behaved child in the year as once he has an audience he will perform his best material be it a dance, a song or a joke to get a laugh.  Finally, I picked the pairs that seemed to work for me and then the children rearranged themselves anyway!

We are very lucky as the children have exceptional teaching staff, they are well organised, sympathetic, have a constant air of control and good humour, perhaps an intravenous drip of Valium as well? There were plenty of teachers and parent helpers amongst the children so we were capable in numbers and headed off up to the big smoke on our local council coach AKA a sauna on wheels.  The journey was fairly pain-free, managed to resist the urge to eat the packed lunch on the way there and avoid vomiting into the seat tidy.  Thankfully, the kids were fine as well!

My hubby is a police officer in the bomb squad and in his 20 year career he has made a wide circle of work mates.  This can be good and bad in equal measures.  A bad example would be when we had our mini-honeymoon in a posh hotel in Kent (as we had 3 month old twins and a 4-year-old so had to put a proper honeymoon on hold).  This night away was the weekend after our wedding, where as parents of twins we hadn’t slept a whole night in 3 months so really really needed it!  So when we entered the hotel restaurant I wasn’t my usual cheery self when greeted with a Policeman’s Ball and lots of hubby’s mates joining us for drinks!  However, a  good perk would be that an ex-copper mate of hubby’s, called Jimmy, is now a Beefeater at the Tower of London, which meant hubby gave him the nod about our visit and we were able to arrange for the children to meet and greet with him.

We arrived at the Tower and it was hot! As usual us Brits constantly moan about the lack of good weather and the minute the sun peeks out of the clouds we all melt. But the Tower was breathtaking and we soon soldiered on.  I found myself trying to engage my group with nuggets of history as they all started to give me the slip with the expanse of the River Thames beside them.  I managed to lead them over to Traitors Gate, which was in the general direction we wanted to be heading towards and explained to them (wrongly probably) how crooks were taken through here by boat to the dungeons. With their interest back in play, I waffled on about some other exaggerated facts and we safely made it inside the castle walls.

Our first stop was the darkly lit rooms containing the Crown Jewels.  As we queued to get to the main attraction, again, I treated my team to interesting (hopefully true) facts about how King Charles and fellow gentleman of his time grew their hair as a sign of wealth. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the crowds of tourists and other schools made their way through the corridors so we could feast our eyes on Her Maj’s best bling.  There was lots of oohs and aahs, mainly from the parents, but the children were impressed too and we found a dusty corner to draw some pictures of the crowns for their fact files.  I was feeling fairly confident with my team.  I had raised my voice a few times as they tried to disperse and found my best option was to guide them much like sheep with outstretched arms in order to keep them in check. I swear one of the little girls was wearing an invisibility cloak because as soon as I did my headcount of 6 she was always missing and when I frantically called her name she appeared next to my elbow as if she had been there the whole time!

Hubby’s friend Jimmy became a bit of wild goose chase. Having only his name and the knowledge of his job title, I was left to harass other Beefeaters, asking them if they were Jimmy and they in turn sent me onto the next one.  Eventually, the children were just randomly shouting ‘Jimmy’ at anyone in uniform hoping that he would appear.  I was starting to think that he had got wind of 90 children on his tail and was hiding out in the staff room but thankfully he did find us during our lunchtime on the grass and he was great with the kids.  Especially as they were instructed by their fact files to ask a Beefeater a question, Jimmy was then treated to a Spanish inquisition 10 minutes of random questions fired at him such as, “Where is your gun?”, “What would you do with a sword?” and “Do you eat only beef?”. Reading through one of my teams factfiles she had put down as her question to the Beefeater : Question- Where is Jimmy? Answer-At the West Gate. I asked her about it and she said that was the question she had asked the first Beefeater on the way in!

It was a super informative day and I think although the kids were a bit overwhelmed with history, they enjoyed it too.  My team was great, even though my son does tend to take on a Tasmanian Devil approach to historical places with me removing him from various sculptures and my daughter always gets a bit tearful with loud noise/crowds/not having the partner she feels entitled to and I had to then walk the rest of the way round with her attached to my leg whilst trying to continue my sheep herding technique with my team. I did spend a portion of my day shouting out the 6 names in my group, not that they misbehaved much, but with big crowds there are always opportunities to get lost. I now feel like I have form of Tourette’s and even though I’m at home now, I still feel the impulse to shout their names every 5 minutes and to keep checking for the little invisible girl.  I’m sure this effect will die down eventually.  All in all, it was a very successful day and if you ever find yourself at the Tower for a school trip and the children’s interest is wavering, just bring up Henry VIII, tales of beheaded wives always holds their interest!

Football’s Coming Home….Again…

The long-awaited World Cup is here, direct from Brazil, where the nations of the world assemble their elite footballers and put their super teams on show.  Each team hopes to power through the rounds, fighting off other foreign lands with their fancy football skills, silly haircuts and Oscar-winning performances of falling over.

I’ll admit that I am a half-hearted football fan.  I was raised a Tottenham supporter by lifelong fans (my Dad and older brother) and I have married a Chelsea supporter who is raising two Chelsea supporting sons.  I’m not sure my Dad would have agreed to the wedding had he been an Arsenal fan though! I admit that premiership football does bore me slightly, where top teams are funded by billionaires playing fantasy football with their never-ending cash flows. But the World Cup does appeal to me, as every team has their own unique style. You have the celebrity footballers putting on their best performance as an obvious audition, in order to get poached by a leading club.  Then you have the underdogs, the countries that you have to Google to find out where they are, the teams with that rabbit caught in the headlights look about them, where they just scatter about looking a bit like my 6-year-old sons team on a Saturday.  It really is entertaining.

And no matter what your opinion is of this country, when England are in the running, you can’t beat the feeling of national pride, with the St. Georges Cross adorning houses and cars across the country, pubs packed full to the rafters with supporters, all hoping that this year could be the one!

But it never is. We know how bad England are but we never give up on them as we know they could be better.  We still talk about 1966 or Italia 90, try to hang on to that now forgotten greatness, praying that this year we will be our year.  Then it dawns on us that we might not be match fit, that the team was probably assembled by Roy Hodgson using the eeny meeny miny mo technique to choose his elite squad, with the players meeting for the first time on the plane.  Perhaps we can blame it on the weather? I mean it is quite hot in Brazil and our boys just aren’t used to the heat.  Plus the pitch just isn’t up to scratch, I bet there are lots of potholes where Gerard or Sturridge could break an ankle in these sorts of conditions!  With plenty of excuses prepared, we hope that England can surprise us.  We have an easyish group, we are certain to at least go through to the next round.  I mean Spain went out and they were World Cup winners from the last tournament so anything can happen!

So we watched the first game against Italy with bated breath, we shouted at the TV screen, gave random instructions as if we were experts in the game, pleaded with the players to just try that little bit harder in order to actually get the ball in the back of the net. But we lost, 2-1.  We did alright, we tried our best, next match will be better.  Blitz spirit and all that. Italy were a good side, we will have no problem with Uruguay, isn’t that Suarez fellow nursing a knee injury? It’s in the bag!

Oh dear, de ja vu, 2-1 again.  Time to pack your hair net Wayne, home we go.  But hang on, if Italy beat Costa Rica and Uruguay and then we beat Costa Rica, isn’t there a chance for us? Can’t we even get something for trying our best? That’s how it works at my son’s football, couldn’t England could get some sort of free pass for not spitting as much as the other teams?

Whatever happens, we will be the same at the next World Cup. We will hang our flags, sing that Frank Skinner football song clinging on to that hope that the final will one day be in our grasp.  My advice to Roy would be to try to organise a way to have my Mum on an earpiece direct to the players on the pitch.  If they could hear her disappointed tone of ‘For goodness sake, you’re not even trying!’ they would most certainly buck up their ideas!

 

Our discarded dreams of success.

Our discarded dreams of success.

 

 

Happy Fathers Day!

madeinhornchurch:

A dedication for my Dad on Fathers Day.

Originally posted on anounceofmedotcom:

Dear Dad,

I feel very fortunate to have you as my Dad. In the words of Frenchie from Grease, my go-to film for advice as a teenager, she said to Sandy: “The only guy a girl can rely on life is her Daddy”. Many friends of mine have had strained, often absent, relationships with their Fathers and I have always felt fortunate that not only have we always had a solid family unit, but that you have always been a key part in mine and my big bro’s life.

You are the backbone of our family unit, you grew up as the only male amongst your three sisters which provided you with the ability to be a modern man, despite growing up in the 50s. With close relationships with my Aunts you have always treated women as equals and never displayed one iota of male chauvinism. You grew up in a post war Britain with a…

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Facing My Fears

With my 40th birthday hurtling towards me next December (sob) I thought I might look into the concept of *bucket lists. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on expiring next year (hopefully) but more that I’m moving into a new era of my life and giving my 30s a bloody good send off.

Top of my list is overcoming a few of my fears as it seems that they are starting to grow in number and become more irrational in their strength. Having said that, I’m not rushing into it and definitely not planning on boarding a plane (hate flying) with a jar of spiders (arachnophobic) en route to a circus full of people on stilts (honestly, the whole unnatural height of stilt wearers freaks me out). I decided instead to start simply and address my growing fear of heights.

My new-found feelings of vertigo have come out of nowhere. I cannot recall being bothered about heights as a child, was happy to climb to the top of mountains/buildings in my youth, but over the last few years I am unable to descend beyond four storeys without having wobbly legs. I first noticed it when I took my parents on the London Eye.  I had been looking forward to it, took the afternoon off work and even booked the tickets in advance. We walked into our pod cheerfully chatting and started our ride to the top, at which point I felt a sudden panic, sat on the bench in the middle and stared at my feet. My Dad was trying to point out London sites along the Thames but all I could do was resist the urge to lay on the floor and adopt a foetal position. The last thing I wanted to do was to move to the window and I wasn’t confident my legs would work anyway. As we reached the top, I studied my shoes, feeling waves of nausea, ignoring the odd looks from fellow passengers and assuring my parents that ‘I was fine and they should enjoy the view’. After what felt like an hour, we came to the bottom and I literally burst out of the pod wanting to kiss the pavement outside for being land borne again!

I tried to dismiss this behaviour with the theory that it was because I’ve become a bit of wimp with fairground rides and after all it is essentially a giant ferris wheel. This is another thing with ageing, the fact that I now worry about safety on theme park rides. One of my fondest teenage memories is ‘The Eggs’ ride over my local park when the fair came to town in the summer. A rickety old ride where you could spin your own pod while zooming high up in the air. You couldn’t pay me to go on this ride now unless I could have a look at recent safety test certificates. Even with regard to the slickest rollercoaster at a popular theme park, hubby has to reassure me that it is very unlikely that the seatbelt won’t work and that g-force would also keep me seated. I think I would rather hold the coats and watch then risk it though.

So I decided that my first bucket list objective would be to cure my vertigo before it gets out of hand and I end up not being able to drive up my local multi-storey car park.  To make this happen I booked for me and hubby to climb the O2 in London. If I could climb over the top of a big building, looking out of the window of it in the future would be a breeze in comparison surely?

The ascent!

The ascent!

We arrived at the O2 on quite a grim day and were led through our ‘training’ which left me thinking that I had underestimated this whole climb thing. I thought it would be a set of stairs that we could walk up quite easily.  Not so.  It transpired that we would have to put on their special climbing suits, special climbing shoes and learn to negotiate ropes with metal clip thing’s, as if embarking on a rock climbing expedition. Ignoring the height I would be reaching, I felt quite excited at the prospect as I have always wanted to climb and feel that my last little bit of bravery is dwindling, so needed to do it soon. After we were kitted out, we stood at the bottom of the ascent (as pictured) and were instructed to clip ourselves onto the wire as this would stop us ‘falling off’. I considered that this would be unlikely but there wasn’t anything else to grab onto and it was a bit windy so thought it was wise that I was shackled to something.

The actual climb over the O2 is a lot trickier than it looks, mainly because you have to thread your metal clip through metal compartments all the way up the wire. You get the hang of it after a bit and to be honest its a good distraction from seeing how high you actually are! It doesn’t take long to reach the top and although I wasn’t keen on the shoes we were given initially, I was thankful of their grip as the surface is quite slippery.  I braced myself for the summit as we neared the top of the climb and I actually didn’t feel too bad. I think maybe this is because you are literally climbing over a big tent so it sort of feels safe. At the top you are able to unclip and there is a viewing circle so you can mooch about and look at the sites whilst swinging your metal clips between your legs like a weird sort of Morris Dancer. The view was pretty spectacular and I didn’t once feel the need to cling onto hubby’s leg or the least bit like vomiting so felt like I had really grown as a person/climber/non-vertigo worrier.

A birds eye view of the River Thames.

A birds eye view of the River Thames.

However, the climb down was not as straightforward. The path down seemed a lot steeper and I had to resist the urge to rebel against clipping myself back onto to the wire and to use it as a giant slide instead. But then a gust of wind caught us off guard and I was more than happy to reattach. My family had come along for support, so as we descended the O2, I could see my children, parents and mother-in-law at the bottom cheering us on. My eldest shouted out ‘Are you scared Mum?’ at which I just rolled my eyes to the other climbers in a ‘Kids eh?’ kind of a way as obviously I was now feeling like I had completed my own Everest and not in the least bit scared of heights anymore.  My next challenge? The Shard! Now I just need to Google their safety certificates…..

* Bucket List
noun

informal
noun: bucket list; plural noun: bucket lists
  1. 1.
    a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.