Fast forward a year and my January is barren. The pages are a wasteland of days and dates and woefully empty pages. My poor, poor moleskin must have been sobbing into its perfectly intact spine at such a pitiful sight..."
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
If someone had said to me a few years ago that I would lose the two men I loved most in the world within 8 months of each other, I’d have laughed in their faces and told them to do one. But, here I am blogging about it, because it did in fact, sadly happen.
In March 2008, my husband left me at six months pregnant after ten years together. I remember the day so clearly, even now. I was cooking cod in our kitchen that we’d just decorated, and he just came out with it… like a huge knife to my heart. I've never felt so many emotions all at once: ‘how am I going to cope’, ‘I can’t do it on my own’ ‘I don’t want to do it on my own’ even, ‘who will want me now!!’
Those following few weeks were a blur of just trying to survive, trying to eat and drink to nourish my kicking baby, feeling terribly guilty that he/she knew nothing of the despair I was feeling on the outside, and yet I was forcing myself to keep her ‘safe’.
But I did, slowly, carry on attending antenatal sessions/hospital visits on my own, and only got through all of this with an overwhelming circle of friends who cared for me, whose help I will never forget.
As the due date grew closer, I received another blow, the biggest probably if I’m honest - my dad was diagnosed with cancer. We knew the outcome wouldn’t be good from the start. We are a very close, strong, traditional family and I was a typical Daddy’s girl. I love my Dad so much - we had the same interests, (except for his train spotting!), the same bad habits. I just wish I had his brains (brother seemed to nab those) so to live with the fact that one day I will loose him... I just tried to keep from entering my mind.
July 18th came and my beautiful daughter arrived - not without difficulties. She was born not breathing and with a broken shoulder. But her spirit and strength got her through and to this day she is my sunshine and my reason for living. My dad sadly passed 5 months later. The pain of losing someone so close to your heart is a pain that only someone who has lost will know. Most of all I miss how much of a wonderful Granddad he would have made and of course I miss him as a doting dad.
So it’s been a whirlwind, and tough to say the least. But one thing that’s kept me going through the dark days is a snippet from a mine and Dad's favourite film, Castaway. At the very end of the film, Tom Hanks says: ‘You have to just keep breathing’. Such a simple line, but so true. The sun will come up every day, and night will fall, and life will go on, whether you want it to or not. You will never forget your loved ones that are not with you, but somehow as time goes on, you learn to live with it slightly better. And with a cheeky, happy, monster toddler that I have now… how could I do anything else but live life?
Monday, 29 March 2010
This year, I am driving my own Maclaren. No, I haven't had a midlife crisis and bought myself a sports car (seriously, where would I put the baby seat?). And no, I'm not doing a red letter day – a couple of hundred quidditch for two laps in the passenger seat? No ta. The Maclaren I speak of is beautifully sleek though. It has a smooth steer and superior red and black bodywork. Its sturdy wheels have traversed many a terrain from Cricklewood Broadway to Hampstead Heath, and pit-stop confusion has been lessened thanks to an easy-on rain cover. When it's not parked in the boot of the car it's full of big, squashy baby, muslin squares and fleecey footmuffs. It's a Maclaren buggy, and a jolly good purchase it was too. Not quite as expensive as a McLaren motor, but infinitely more fun.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Big T The Merciful and Babs (aka Grandpa and Nannie) pop over and are delighted at the antics of La Bambini El Petito. Big Tel informs me that "The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits." (We thanks ye, Hervey Allen).
After a smidgen more of the extreme chocolate cake (approximately one hundred thousand grams of choc, 1g of flour and stuff and a bit of sugar) we head off to The Hollybush in Hampstead.
Friends dribble in, some with their offspring, some with a minging head ache from the night before, all with an appetite for a good Sunday roast.
Nannie takes Bambi for a gander around the shops (as one of my friends so eloquently puts it: "You've invited all the other babies and binned off your own") but it means that I get to mingle with my buddies – some who go as far back as Brownies, some from as recently as the day the dinkydots were born – and engage in actual adult conversation. However, I seem to spend most of my time being far too excited about the fact that I am wearing a dress, heels and make-up for the first time in about a year and don't have any baby-vom in my hair. Binned-off-baby then graces us with her presence post-roast, shouts and dribbles at a few folk and we take her for a walk on the Heath.
Generous gifts aside (it has become clear that I'm more Cath Kidston than Topshop, but who gives a schizz? Not I), I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. From Tinseltown to London Town – Merci Marmont, but I'd take this rabble over Loony Li-Lo and Skinny-Briches Richie any day.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
My birthday celebrations last year were strung out over a week. The Kiwi binned me off on my actual B-Day for a stag do. Such was his guilt at this abandonment that I managed to prosper – he treated me to a two night stay at Chateau Marmont in
With Harry Cohn’s words “If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont” ringing in my ears I did my best to channel my inner rock chick. But we actually had a pretty chilled time, sitting opposite Nicole Richie in the lounge bar, chatting to Jerry Stiller and eyeing up Milo Ventimiglia on the patio. We swam in the pool overhung with jasmine blossom and eucalyptus leaves alongside Californian models (never have I felt more like a mozzarella-coloured blimp alongside these long-limbed bronze goddesses) and strolled up Sunset Boulevard to
Imagine my devastation when just two days after we left, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson had a very public break up at the Chateau, screaming at each other out of the hotel windows and the police being called to eject La Lohan. Bah.
So anyhoo, on March 21st as the Kiwi was Go-Karting his way around Stagsville, I was hanging out with my best girls at Champneys in Tring. A blissful time was had by all as we swam in pools, lounged outside by the Jacuzzi in our fluffy white robes and free slippers (yep, still got ‘em), gossiped in the lounge rooms, spotted Eastenders stars over a macrobiotic lunch, water aerobic’d, yoga’d, had facials and drank mint tea.
This year I'm having just one party to rock the party... A Sunday afternoon gathering of my nearest and dearest in a quaint old pub in Hampstead. Babies welcome, of course.
Friday, 19 March 2010
I, on the other hand, despite being ecstatic about the fact that I had had my first 5-hour chunk of blissfully uninterrupted sleep since before she was born, lay awake from 2.45-3.45 boiling hot under the covers but too scared to take off my socks in case the rustling of covers woke up KR and she suddenly realised she was hungry. And between 4.45 and 5.45 I lay awake wondering if I should feed her anyway – Is she ill? Is that why she’s not hungry? Should I wake her up to feed her? Is she even conscious!?!? But again I was too frightened to get up and check in case I woke her up.
Long may this slumber pattern continue.
Things that made me joyful last year – Christian Louboutins, press passes to London Fashion Week and fitting size 8 dresses.
Things that gave me energy last year – Pro Plus, Caramel Macchiatos and power yoga
Things that made me scared last year – Saw IV, C-list celebrities and being seen without eyeliner.
Thursday, 18 March 2010
This time last year I was krumping around the living room to Beyonce’s Put A Ring On It, in the style of Justin Timberlake and Paul Rudd. These days, Bootylicious B’s lyrics of “All the single ladies” have been replaced with “All the yummy mummies” and my prancing around takes the form of actions to correspond with Do-Re-Mi from The Sound Of Music.
I used to rock out to Juliet and the Licks while stuck in traffic on the North Circular, my favourite song (Death Of a Whore) sounding something like “F*** f*** f*** f*** you and f*** you and f*** you some more, F*** you and f*** you and f*** you some more, F*** you and f*** you and f*** you some more, F*** you and f*** you and f*** you some more, F*** you and f*** you and f*** you some more, F*** you, f*** you, f*** you, f*** you, f*** you, f*** you, f*** you some more.”
(Please excuse the explicit nature of this post, but if you have ever been gridlocked on the A406 during rush hour, you will know how easily even a nun could be reduced to such a sing-a-long).
Rather than going out until the wee hours, dancing around to Britney Spears’ Womanizer (“Womanizer woman-womanizer, you’re a womanizer OH womanizer OH you’re a womanizer baby…”) I am awake, in bed, after the 3am feed with the following lyrics whirling through my over-exhausted brain: “The wonderful thing about Tiggers! Is tiggers are wonderful things! Their tops are made out of rubber! Their bottoms are made out of springs!”
The tune is so hyper that I'm buzzing long ofter baby has dropped off. Forget Princess Chubby Thighs - maybe I should be the one listening to lullabies...
You might have heard,
"It's raining cats and dogs",
You might have heard,
Of a plague of frogs.
But in Stoney Bay we became aware,
Of the dreaded curse of the falling pear...
The wind changed direction,
The rain came down,
Pears crashed from branches,
With a hell of a sound.
The hail began pelting,
The wind swirled in rage,
The pears, they kept falling,
For what seemed like an age.
A trip to the dunny was too risky to take -
Would these pears ever stop? For heaven's sake!
Dodging the pears from bashing our noggins,
(lest they hammer our heads,
'til our brains become scroggin)
Julie arrived in her bright purple tights,
Avoiding the fruit fall (she got a wee fright)
We put on the tea and sat down for dinner,
(saussies and mash - a bloody winner)
Then snug in our sleeping bags,
We curled up to sleep,
The candles burnt down,
The pears seemed to retreat.
But throughout the night,
The storm kept on roaring,
Until a carpet of pears,
Was laid out for the morning.
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
One year ago, we were almost (or were) on the Banks Peninsula Track - fighting storms of falling pears, rain and hail plus much sun.
I was also begining my final year of study - Diploma of Counselling. Today I passed my final assignment!!!!
Nan moved house during the year and I've book my trip to northern hemisphere for Sept/Oct...
But today I am congratulating myself on a major scale. I have achieved so much in such a short space of time. I have:
- Arisen at 7am
- Dressed myself
- Dressed Babysaurus Rex
- Fed Baby
- Fed myself
- Changed three nappies
- Swept the floor
- Done some post-natal Pilates
- Washed my hair
- Baked a mixed berry upside down cake
- Done the washing up
- Put Babysaurus down for two successful naps
- Finished knitting a hat
- and all before 12noon! I might even put my make-up on! I am so proud of myself for all my morning’s accomplishments that I almost update Facebook with a glowing status. I feel like a domestic goddess. However I log on to see a friend’s post that reads: “I now realise that I am middle aged. It's not that I have a house/kid, it's that practically everyone I know does or is going to soon. Going through my news feed, at least half have updates about children or profile pics featuring their offspring. Hence the change of profile pic. Mid-life crisis here I come!!”
I back away from the keyboard, have a word with myself, and try to remember the days when hair washing was an every day occurrence and not a luxury treat…
March last year - the start of Autumn in New Zealand – a time to reflect on a summer passed, an off road marathon complete and another winter in Queenstown. And for the first time in my history of life in New Zealand – no season pass to keep me entertained all winter! Was I not one of those people who had previously mocked other locals for not having a season pass? Those people that don’t make use of the two ski fields right on our door step? Had I not sneered at them? Wondered what they did on those long, dark winter weekends? Yes. That was me. So now, as the last of the summer BBQs came around, I was at a slight loss with myself. Not only having no ski pass, but having completed the marathon that had seemed so impossible the year before, I was at a loose end. I needed a goal! And so it unfolded…
At one of these last summer BBQs I came across a conversation about the famous Wanaka Challenge – the Ironman Triathlon of the South. "Hmmm..." I thought. ABSOLUTE UTTER MAD PEOPLE! I was just about to wander off in search of more chips and dips when I heard mention of the Half Iron Man distance, and how two lovely caring young men had entered their girlfriends as their birthday presents! All of a sudden I was sucked into talk of training sessions, road bikes, new wetsuits, open water swimming and endurance – could I do this? Surely not. That was for OTHER people. But then…. These guys were doing it… Were they not the same age? Same size (ish!)? Same fitness… as me? The thought stayed with me and when they had left to go home I approached my laptop, typed in the web address and found the page on the race site that said ‘Enter Here’. And I did! Then I downloaded a training program and I was away. My weeks became full of training, the winter went by way too quickly and by spring it was time to start open water swimming. This is not as easy as you’d think. I considered myself a total water baby, but leaping into a murky lake gave me a feeling of panic and exposure that I had never experienced! This was supposed to be my best discipline. And it rapidly became my worst fear. Starting at the edge of a lake and swimming straight out into the middle is actually pretty scary.
Time has a habit of speeding up when you want it to slow down and by the time Christmas rolled around it seemed like we were on fast track to race day. Two weeks later I stood on the start line. The water was 13 degrees (not the 16 – 20 degrees we had been expecting!), there was snow on the mountains and Lake Wanaka glistened mystically in the early morning light. I was going to be half an iron woman by the end of the day! First things first though…. We plunged in to the icy water to warm up and in no time at all it was time to get on the start line. Numb feet, chattering teeth, all the normal signs of pre-race jitters! Then the hooter blared into the sky – we were off. I swam, it was like being in a blender, arms, legs, hands, faces everywhere. Just keep swimming, breathe, swim, breathe, look up for the buoy, swim, breathe… and so it continued. After 37 mins and 1.9kms under my belt I dragged my numb feet out of the water, stripped off my wetsuit, ran over the bridge and onto my bike. 90kms, endless hills, never ending roads and 3.5 hours later and it was back to the transition to dump the bike and start running. The feeling of overwhelming tiredness was unreal – but this was no time to think about that. All I had to do was follow the river, the sun was pounding down, my stomach was churning and my legs were like lead - the aid stations with cheering supporters every 3kms were a life saver – as were the few trees I stopped to have a little lean on once in a while… Finally, I was on the home straight. Hearing the loud speaker at the finish line kept me going that last few hundred metres and having friends cheering me down the finishing chute was magical. It turns out I managed to put on weight on the way round according to the scales at the end. This would only happen to me - typical! A medal was placed around my neck and I was off to the recovery tent to reflect on my day before facing my public – and of course I had to collect the all important 'FINISHER' t-shirt! I was Half an Iron Woman and I had done it in 6.45 hours.
So, that was my big change for the year. Making something that was for ‘other people’ into something that was for me. Who knows what the next year will bring! And no, I don’t think I’ll take on the full Iron Man. I think I’ll definitely leave that to the ‘other people’ for now… :)
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
KIWI: “So, what are we doing on Wednesday?”
ME: “Ummmm… Nothing?”
KIWI: “Really? We’re not doing anything Wednesday?”
ME: “Well, we might be passing the baby back and forth while she cries and we give ourselves indigestion as we scoff a bowl of pasta, then I might try and find a clean muslin to mop up her vom, we’ll argue about whose turn it is to change her nappy, then pray that she has an OK-ish bedtime and we don’t have to pick her up and settle her seven hundred and fifty thousand times…”
KIWI: “You really don’t know what Wednesday is, do you?”
ME: “Oh my gaaaaaawd! I’m sooooo sorry! I’m the worst wife ever! It’s our third wedding anniversary, of coooooouuuurse, yes… no… totally, I forgot.”
KIWI: [Laughs] “So, what do you want to do?”
ME: [SLIGHT PAUSE] “Well, that’s a bit of a ridiculous question, isn’t it?”
KIWI: “Bit harsh.”
ME: “OK, ask me again.”
KIWI: “What do you want to do for our wedding anniversary on Wednesday?”
ME: “Right, well, I though we could start off by having a few martinis at Fifth Floor Harvey Nichs, nip in for a few at the Long Bar, then we can head off to Fabric, double drop with a bottle of Jose Cuervo, throw some shapes on the dance floor, generally enta in de dance, plug it in an we begin, crowd up in de centa, dey watch (be dibidim), climb up a bus stop on our way to Maccy Ds, and then do a runner from a black cab as we roll in around 4am. Sound good?”
KIWI: “That’s just ridiculous.”
ME: “My point exactly.”
According to the doctors, on our second wedding anniversary last year, Kaila-Rose was conceived.
According to the doctors, on our second wedding anniversary last year, Kaila-Rose was conceived.
2 years ago; was working in a job that I was really good at, getting paid some pretty serious cash, living cheap and being able to do pretty much anything I had ever dreamed of. And did. Got up to all sorts of mayhem, with money behind me to back up my foul play.
Something was not right though.
Felt odd, and could never relax.
Started having dreams of when I was young; seemed a hell of a lot happier then, despite having no money.
Well, hilariously, I got fired.
Went from having a very large wage and nothing to spend it on, to having nothing, with nothing to spend it on.
Being quite a resourceful lad, mainly due to being skint as a youth, I decided to make the most of what I had laying around my house, which turned out to be quite a lot.
Built myself a server from spare computer parts, and started hosting a few websites, in a bid to make cash. It worked.
So, I sort of feel a bit better, but in all honesty, I wish I was back there, when I was young, listening to recordings of radio shows on my walkman, walking through the misty fields...
This time last year I was bogged down in the hideousness that was the Diploma in Legal Practice, an academic hoop I had to jump through en route to becoming a solicitor. The group work was done in made up "Firms" and the only thing that kept me going was my excellent Firmees (including honorary Firmee) and endless shared home baking. In the middle of exam revision or coursework deadlines one of my Firmees used to say "Just imagine the day when you can go to the Mustard Seed for lunch..."
So there I was today, at a farewell lunch for my boss, looking out on to the River Ness, blue skies, snow on the hills in the background... We were discussing who was going to drive to Portree to cover the Court next Monday; as if getting paid to drive to the Isle of Skye is somehow drawing the short straw in the office.
Hubby and I came up to Inverness last year for Valentine's Day, drove up to Cairngorm Mountain en route and said: "Just think, this time next year we could nip down here and go skiing for the day..." And then for Valentine's Day this year, we did just that - criss crossing our way down the mountain over dazzling white snow looking down to the shimmering loch below.
So, the "I think I'll become a lawyer and move to the Highlands", which seemed so completely bonkers to most folk who know me, is taking shape.
Still need to work on the property front - haven't yet got the wee cottage and garden, or the vegetable patch, or a job for hubby (apart from househusband, potter and veg grower - not completely viable in these precarious economic times), but hopefully that will all work itself out somehow.
Got a letter from my Aunt in London recently saying "from here the cold of Scotland seems more glamorous, cleaner and sharper. Is that how you see it? Or is it just grey and miserable too?" I'm afraid to say that it is fabulous up here! And even getting cut off by road and rail hasn't made me hate the snow...
Monday, 15 March 2010
My diary entry for a year ago today says "Bunter Club" and "Zydeco". In an attempt to lose copious amounts of blubber and be cruise-ready, my friend and I started a diet club - usual rules, eat 1200 calories, drink water, e-mail stunning weight loss every morning to envious friend, blah blah blah... Part of the plan was to learn to dance so we dragged our nervous husbands to the Bon Temps Cajun and Zydeco club.
The building itself scared me because in an unguarded moment a few years before I had joined a Morris Dancing Club which met there on summer evenings. It is situated near to the elephant enclosure at our zoo and with the wind in the right direction on a boiling hot night, the hint of pachyderm is overwhelming. Being the newest member, I was a bit of a liability at my first "gig" hardly knowing one bell from another, so they dressed me in a horse costume, held up by thick braces. As my hands were on the reins and not clutching a stick, I was more or less safe to prance about a bit without knowing the dance steps.
The venue was a tourist trap next to the world's oldest seafaring ship and my husband decided to stop by during his Saturday morning bike ride. He was mortified to find his wife dressed as a horse and hanging around the docks, surrounded by puzzled Japanese tourists. He got the hell out and still has trouble talking about it, so to return to the scene of the crime for the Zydeco lessons was pushing it a bit.
The whole thing turned out to be a grope-a-granny night and the "lesson" consisted of "right-left right left-rock step" which we picked up as soon as our eyes adjusted to the gloom. The good thing was, there was cake! And we got free sparkly necklaces so all was not lost.
Did we lose weight? No! Did we dance on the cruise? No again.
The good thing is that my diary entry for today is "clean fridge". When I look back in a year it will be far less traumatic to recall than the whole horse/docks saga.
W/c January 12th 2009 includes the following: Monday - yoga, Tuesday - pub quiz, Wednesday - Seven Pounds Premiere, Thursday - Vicky Christina Barcelona screening, Friday - Mark’s birthday dinner and Marika’s birthday party in town, Saturday - Powerplate, Bodycon class, Sas & Dan to dinner.
The following week sees me popping out to Joaquin Cortes at the Roundhouse, a friend’s show at the The Gate in Notting Hill, Ballet C de la B at Sadler’s Wells, lunch at Isabel’s, Roots Manuva at Koko, Valkyrie premiere & Tom Cruise interview and Eric’s birthday in East London.
In the ‘Notes’ section I have told myself I need to do the following: book a day at Champneys, organise press tickets, file taxes, check my travel insurance and get my guitar re-strung.
Fast forward a year and my January is empty. The pages are a wasteland of days and dates and woefully empty pages. My poor, poor moleskin must have been sobbing into its perfectly intact spine at such a pitiful sight. In January 2010 I am lucky if I’m able to get dressed before midday, and out of the house before 2pm. I eat microwave meals (Innocent Veg Pots in fairness – still desperately trying to get my 5-a-day) and drinking Becks Blue is a real treat. Putting on make up is a seriously big deal, and washing my hair is a rare occurrence. I congratulate myself on getting to Starbucks, abandon shopping baskets in Tescos to flee home as quickly as possible, and am desperate for sleep.
But when I look into the bright blue eyes of little Lady Norks-a-Lot, and she gives me a great big gummybear smile, I could cry with happiness. OK, so the tears might be fuelled by a bit of hormonal bamboozlement and a whole heap of sleep deprivation, but the point is, I’m probably the happiest I have ever been in my whole life, and the most content.