29 April 2010

A little stroll along Brighton Seafront..for Mussels.

Tuesday afternoon TD and I took a little stroll along Brighton seafront. There was a mission in mind, it wasn't just for a leisurely amble. The aim was for TD to take photos for her A-level Photography Final exam, which starts next week.
The theme the examining board have chosen this year is 'Rhythms and Cycles'. This caused a few groans from the 1st year students, as the 2nd year students were given, what they saw as, the far more exciting subject of  'Passion and Obsession'.  
It can be anything from rhythms of music/heartbeats/life and cycles of life/death/decay/nature/buildings, the list is endless. TD can produce any image/s, any size, as long as it fits the theme and is Black and White Film, not digital.
The idea she's going with at the moment is 'Sealife; from sea to plate' sort of thing and to capture images at various stages, in the sea, on the beach, for sale at a stall, and finally on a plate as food.
This was because she took some stunning shots of mussels (below) on the beach and walls, a while back with a digital camera. She was hoping to get the same again but on film.


Unfortunately for her, that part of the mission was thwarted by the fact they had cleared and were still clearing most of them away while we were there...
So no mussels to be found on the beach.
She did manage to get shots of a couple of the stalls selling seafood though, so maybe all is not lost.

Below are my efforts at the same shots TD was taking.


27 April 2010

The Gallery - Portraits

I'm not going to apologise, I was extremely lazy last week, and if I'm completely honest just couldn't work up any enthusiasm about anything, not just The Gallery, so I didn't post a photo. Actually, I didn't do very much at all last week. Life's just like that sometimes.

The theme for The Gallery at Sticky Fingers this week is Portaits, and if there is one thing I love in photography, with a passion, it's portaits.
Which thankfully gave me a small, but swift kick in the rear...

Above is a photo of my Mum. It's her first school photo, taken sometime in 1950, when she was 5 years old.

And this is my first school photo, at the same age. The interesting fact about both these photos is they were taken at the same school. Mum, Dad and I lived with my Grandparents until I was 7, opposite the same school my Mum and all her siblings attended. As we were living with them, that was my first school too.

Below is my all time favourite photo of my 16 year old daughter.
And I have now, in theory, taken this photo twice, 10 years apart. 
Originally taken on my Minolta SLR film camera in 1999, when TD was six and again (yesterday) with my digital camera. 
Why twice? Because, our all singing, all dancing printer/scanner, which I bought for the specific purpose of scanning, has now decided printing and scanning is NOT in its job description after all! Luckily the first two photos had already been scanned before it decided to p**s me off. So I had to take a photo of the original photo.

Three portaits, three generations...

Generations apart maybe, but all three images portray the very same wonderfully, direct 'The world is my oyster' innocent gaze...

...and just look at those eyes...like butter wouldn't melt...

15 April 2010

Happy Birthday NON-Teen..

Today, at 9.26am, my beautiful 19 year old son will be 20. No longer a Teenager. But always my baby.

He has and hopefully always will be, affectionate and loving.

As a baby and toddler he was always smiling and happy, everyone fell in love with him. He made it easy, he loved cuddling and would hug anyone.  
He was also the most mischievous. I've lost track of the amount of chaos fun he created when younger. Although one does come to mind.  The time he woke from an afternoon nap, by this time sleeping in a bed not a cot, took himself off to the bathroom, stuffed most of a loo roll into the plug and overflow and turned the taps on. The first I knew he was even awake was from the kitchen, when water started flowing down the walls!  
As a youngster he was also the most adventurous. Always first to try something new, always ready to give it a go, just jump in and see what happened. So therefore was the one who spent the most time at A&E, luckily never with anything too serious. So he's had his fair share of glue and stitches.

And he's a Geek. My lovely computer geek. His request for his birthday present this year? All the parts and components to make his own PC, from scratch. No PC world for him. Which is probably what he will spend his day doing, putting it all together.

And now, somehow, it's 2010 and he's twenty. Where has the time gone? It feels like only yesterday I was saying Hello to him.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart...

My kitchen currently looks like this.
One very happy birthday boy...
I told you...he is a geek

14 April 2010

The Gallery - Joy

I should probably put happy, smiley photos of my children to express Joy, the theme this week at Sticky Fingers as, yes, they do make me very joyful. Not going to. I'm going to be selfish and choose something that gave me a feeling of joy when I finished it. And then the fact that someone liked something I'd made, and bought it. So I suppose in reality, the word I should really be using is pride, but hey, it gave me Joy, I'm shallow like that! But I'm going to ignore that for the moment and just share. This is not a completely original idea, I saw something similar a few years ago, on a much bigger, grander more expensive scale. This is just my interpretation.

Cute little handmade 'Junk' paper butterflies, mounted and framed. This was the first one, and I loved making it. I still love making them, it's calming and peaceful.
Also a real person liked it enough to buy it. It is now 'Joyfully' sitting on a wall in Spain as we speak, so someone else is enjoying it too. This gives me joy...

10 April 2010

A Birth Story Carnival ...and mention of a Kebab?

It's been a while since I talked about the births of my children in any depth, with the youngest now being 16. I felt the discussions were probably well past their sell by date, no one could be that interested in my birth experiences. Also, until I started this blog, I'd never had a place to write about them, as all my pregnancies and deliveries were back in the Stone Age, i.e, pre-computers and internet. So when I spotted that Amy over at And 1 More Means 4  was holding a Birth Story Carnival I saw it as an opportunity to put at least one of them into words. 
Of all my 5 birth stories I could write about, as all of them were very special, as every birth is, I'm choosing just one. This is the one that caused me to reflect the most on how meeting one person, just one individual, at one point in time, could perhaps change an outcome.

My 37 week check up and I had just been informed my baby had now, finally, turned head down, from what had been a transverse position a week before. Yay! Phew! Slight panic about an immediate C-section over then..

When I'd been told this the week before, and about the very real and serious risk of a prolapsed cord (until then I'd never heard of it), I being the info junkie that I am, I promptly set about reading absolutely everything I could get my hands on about it (this was before the days of  t'internet). 
It made uncomfortable reading. Horror stories of oxygen deprivation which could lead to brain damage, and death in some cases, in fact I scared myself silly, so much so, I'd stopped reading.

Two weeks later...Friday 7th June 1991...
Dull lower back pains, obviously I'd overdone it playing with 3YO and 1YO sons in the garden. About 2pm I put both little ones down for their afternoon naps, still in slight pain. By about 3.30pm, with both still asleep, the pain was worse, and oh..now let me think, sort of rhythmic..duh!...you really would have thought I'd recognise 'contractions' by now? 
I decided a nice warm bath was in order, to help with the back pain, which it did, pure bliss. Hubby, who was already at home, timed the contractions. About 8-10 minutes apart, but regular. Loads of time. The hospital was only a 2 minute drive. I ended up staying in the bath for well over an hour, which also involved the 2 boys waking up and both trying to get in with me, involving lots of giggles and splashing about.
The bath obviously did it's job, as getting out of the bath, I discovered that the gentle rhythmic pains had turned into 4-5 minutes apart, stronger contractions, and I hadn't even realised. Our friends next door came in to mind the children until my mum arrived, as she lived a 2 hours away. 

At the hospital, in between leaning on several of the corridor walls to 'breathe' through contractions, we took the lift one floor up to Admissions, and arrived about 5.15pm. 
After being booked in and put in a room, a scarily young looking, teeny tiny midwife, who spoke with a gentle Irish lilt, came in to do all the checks. Which of course included the dreaded internal. I hate, hate, hate them, they hurt like f***!. But it did show that I was already 7cm. She strapped a moniter on my still very 'lively' bump and there was that wonderfully reassuring loud, strong heartbeat sound. By this point the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart.  During the examinations I'd had several strong contractions, and after one of them the midwife suddenly stopped what she was doing, and closely watched the recovering heartrate on the monitor. My blood froze. I could see it in her face before she'd said a word. And we watched too, as slowly, very, very slowly the heartrate climbed back up. Too slowly. She took an ear trumpet, saying she needed to check something. 2 minutes, lots of re-positioning of the trumpet, and 1 contraction later, she said she needed to do another internal. 
"Why, what's wrong?"
"The baby's heartbeat is a little slow recovering after contractions, which could indicate a problem and as you're 7-8cms dilated I may be able to feel if there's an obstruction" she calmly explained. 
"You mean like a prolapsed cord?" I asked, trying hard not to think about all the information I had read and terrified myself with.
"Let me just check". Another internal, how wonderful.

"No, I can't feel anything past your cervix" she announced, after extracting her hand, it having got slightly stuck mid contraction. 
"But the slow heartrate recovery does indicate a possible prolapsed cord, how did you know?"
I explained some of my reading.
"But I thought as the baby had turned, head down, it would be okay now?" I asked.

And yes, I can remember every bit of conversation this clearly, 18 years on, like it was yesterday. It is seared into my brain.

"Yes it should be, but as this is your fourth pregnancy your muscles are more relaxed (Mmm?) so baby has lots of room and not all babies heads engage, so there's sometimes space for the cord to move down in front of the head, it's a possibility, although I can't feel anything internally, but your babys head is quite high"

I find it difficult to describe the sheer terror I felt, thinking that each contraction could be damaging, or worse, my unborn baby.

The midwife, again very calmly, explained there was still time for me to have an epidural, if that was what I wanted, ready for a C-section. I was only 7-8cm dilated. So with that in mind, they moved us to a bigger room. Meanwhile I kept up an internal mantra of 'Dont panic, stay calm'.

By now my contractions were every 2 minutes or so but there were still gaps between them. Someone shoved a gas and air mask into my hand, which I clung on to and buried my head into the pillow with it. There seemed to be crowds of people in the room, a constant flow. 

I looked up as a midwife came in carrying a bic razor. What?!

"I need you to lay on your back, so I can shave you" she commanded, and I remember replying 'Well you can well shave me from where I am, I can't bloody move!' (ahem...narky or what?) probably not endearing myself to her, give me a break, I was in labour.  Her response was "I need to shave you for a C-section, and I can only shave your bloody arse from this angle, which is completely pointless, so you do need to turn over, now" as at the time I was on all fours (I really should have waxed... yeah, right!). 
This was at the same time as someone was trying to insert a cannula into my right hand, and I was gripping the gas mask in my left. They did, only after huge gulps of gas and air, get me to roll over. Which also involved the doctor who was trying to put the cannula in my hand, running round the bed,  so the midwife could shave me...DRY shave me I might add.
Looking back, she may have been a little pissed off with me...Can't think why?

About 30 seconds into the wonderful DRY shaving experience, with me frantically sucking on gas and air, there was an extremely loud, clearly audible 'pop', and a huge spray and gush of water. My waters had just broken and sprayed themselves over an already pissed off midwife, yielding a razor! Everyone jumped...including me.
I suddenly recalled everything I'd read about prolapsed cords. Somewhere in my brain I knew I had to get back on all fours, head down, bum up. Sod BIC lady.  Because I knew my baby's head was now pushing down directly on my cervix, I could feel it, with the cord being pressed down, trapped. I needed gravity.

SHIT! Shit, shit no!....with a burst of energy, I turned over so fast, the people in the room were alarmed. I could hear murmurs..."What is she doing?" and " Why is she doing that??".
Then over the top of the murmurs came the shouting of the now not so gently spoken midwife who'd admitted me.
"Well done, lovely! she's right, now people don't just stand there gawping, move! Pull that bed out NOW! Get her up to theatre!". They dragged the bed, not bothering to unplug anything, out of the room on its wheels. I could hear plastic and metal dropping and clanging to the floor behind us as we left the room.

As we hurtled down the corridor toward the lift for theatre, she climbed up onto the bed with me. I was practically vertical, head down, bum up. She repeated, over and over, again so calmly..."Don't push". She then apologised "I'm so sorry, but you've lost your gas and air, so this will hurt. I have to put my hand inside, over the cord, onto your baby's head. I need to push back when you push"...as by now I was feeling that familiar, overwhelming, strong, strong urge to push... You know the sensation, it's impossible to fight.

We entered the lift for the operating theatre, one floor up, which of course chose this moment to go down instead of up.
I have a vividly clear memory of turning my head to one side, as the lift doors pinged open. To see a crowd of visitors, children, fathers and grandparents, holding a riot of flowers and bobbing pink and blue balloons, looking back in shock and horror at being confronted by the sight of a half naked woman in the throes of full labour, chanting "Don't push..Moooggrrr...Don't push.." Together with a tiny midwife, kneeling on the bed between her legs, with what must have looked like half an arm disappearing into....'No, children don't ask'...
I can only imagine the awkward conversations that little 'snapshot' started...

We eventually went the right way up in the lift and I was pushed, at high speed, into the operating theatre, still with my midwife pleading with me to not to push.

In the mayhem, everyone 'just how many people can you get in one room?' was talking at once, I could hear words floating past me "deliver?"..."could?".

I was confused and scared. 'What??..No? I CANNOT deliver this baby, no, he'll die'...I could hear my midwife shouting at them, as they physically lifted (no easy task!) and turned me from all fours, on to my back. In that instant, and to this day, I have never felt such intense, agonizing pain. I couldn't understand why it hurt so much; all I could do was scream. Then suddenly, no pain, nothing. It was a surreal moment, very quiet, peaceful even. Through all the chaos going on, I just felt calmness and serenity. I thought maybe I was dying. Everything started echoing, tunnel-like, distant, and then black.

I woke 3 hours later, in pain and bewildered. Not understanding where I was. Through the fog my mind cleared slightly. Baby. Where's my baby? Do I have a baby??
The ward was eerily silent. No babies crying, no conversations that I could hear. I thought the worse. I had no baby next to me, something must have gone horribly wrong. I panicked...I looked around and found a button/buzzer, frantically pressing it.

A midwife came, and spoke to me in hushed tones.

Apparently I had already been awake (groggily) an hour before and had been shown my gorgeous baby boy, who was 'perfect', fine and healthy. Born at 6.12pm (less than an hour after arriving at the hospital) weighing 8lb 12oz . Hubby had stayed a while, gone home and would be back tomorrow, after I'd slept.
...and I started to cry.

"Hush..Ssshh sweetie...it really is all okay...are you ready to meet your son now?"

The following day my Tiny Midwife came and found me. I needed to know every little detail. I felt I'd missed my baby's birth. I hadn't been there to say hello, to see him or comfort him when he needed me.

She explained that because I was in full labour, there had been, for a short time, a very loud, very heated argument between her and the surgeons about whether I could still, even then, deliver normally. She shouted them down, lovely brave lady. She still had her arm inside me pushing on my baby's head and she'd had to kneel on the floor while they rotated me, still on her arm, on to my back so they could operate.  And she had stayed there, crouched between my legs, only taking her hand out as they lifted him out through the incision.
She promised she had held him close for me. She had cuddled and whispered lovingly to him. Then wrapped him warmly and carried him out to meet his Daddy.

The pain I had felt, which she explained probably caused me to pass out (obviously I have no pain threshold) before the anaesthetic had a chance to start working, had been because I'd been swiveled on her arm, in her words, with her soft lilt..'Just like a Kebab'.

She'd been a midwife for 7 years, and admitted it was the first case of a prolapsed cord she'd encountered. She had only ever read about them. I was pleased she hadn't shared that little bit of info with me beforehand.

Even now, when I think of her, I feel huge, happy 'waves' of warmth.
Just remembering her makes me smile.
Marie, if by some fluke you're reading this, thank you. I am and will forever be grateful.

Grateful this wonderful midwife knew her stuff. That she spotted it early on and because her quick reactions and stubborn, steadfast refusal to allow me to delivery vaginally, which the surgeons had actually argued over(!), meant I have now had the pleasure of my 6'2", beautiful, healthy, humourous and gentle souled son, for 18 years.

Because I dread to think of the outcome had she not...

First photo...
Taken before we had even met.

'Hello there, beautiful wise one' ...
We had of course, by now, been formally introduced.

8 April 2010

Her very First pair of Big Girl Shoes!

My lovely 16 1/2 YO TD allowed me to go shopping with her today.
Well, I was there in body, I think she only indulged me tagging along in the knowledge that money would be spent...
To be honest, I had said we needed to get her a new Jacket and some make-up.

How well I remember those 'shopping days out' with my own Mum. Heading out together with the intention of only picking up a few essentials...in the knowledge that I could usually manage to wangle a few extra 'non-essential' items along the way*.

We did also enjoy a fun, girly afternoon, with lots of window shopping and 'Oohing and Aahing' and loads of 'Oh WOW come and look at this..

As they say 'What goes around comes around'*...

The photo above shows my beautiful daughter as she usually dresses. She loves her Jeans, Leggings and Jeggings. And so far, only flat boots/shoes. Uggs, Converse etc...

Well, just take a sneaky peek at these little beauties...Woo-hoo!!

These are her very first, ever ever, real grown up, 
pair of high heels!

My oh my! They are glorious..with a towering 5 inch heel...
Which will now make my already 5'9" little girl a staggering 6'2" tall...Way to go baby girl...

6 April 2010

The Gallery - Ugly

This week in The Gallery at Sticky Fingers the theme is Ugly. Oh great, thanks so much Tara! I think this is the hardest one so far. Because I can find beauty in most things. Even if the subject matter of a photo is ugly or unpleasant, I can still find something about it I can appreciate, the composition, the colours, the concept. So erm...a tough one. 
The only thing I could think of was how my house first looked when we moved in 9 years ago. Some of the decor left a great deal to be desired. At the time we must have been able to see through the hideousness, to the beauty within.

So here is the UGLY Bathroom..

...more UGLY in progress.

The UGLY got worse before it got better.

Just how much though?? Eeek..

That's better...it's the same shot, after removal of the UGLY.

2 April 2010

Loo Roll, Toilet Tissue..Whatever you call it, where the hell does it all go?

Seriously people, really, I'm intrigued. It's one of the great mysteries of life.

As one of six members of this household, which consists of fully grown adults all with fully opposable thumbs, at least last time I looked they did, why oh why, do I seem to be the only one capable of putting a new loo roll on the holder??! I can't be the only one who realises that when a roll is finished a new one is required. Kids, come on, you know that tearing sound when the last bit of tissue sticks to the cardboard tube, which then spins round with a life of its own?...Yes, that's a big clue.

I am now officially fed up of reaching out for tissue, only to find nothing there but that sad little cardboard roll. 

And, because I do seem to be the 'Loo Roll Fairy' of the house, I'm very aware that we get through a veritable mountain of the stuff. Where does it all go? What are these people doing with it? Are they wrapping themselves up, mummy-like, for some form of bizarre fancy dress? Stuffing bras or crotches, ala David Beckham in only pants, with it?

Because if 12+ rolls, and on ocassions more a week, is going through our plumbing system then I have major concerns for our sewage system. Also I'm seriously worried that one day it might just all decide to back up and come and bite me on the bum, because you just know it's going to be me sitting there, putting on another sodding roll.

So please, tell me. I can't be the only person wondering where all the loo roll goes?

1 April 2010

A Takeaway Chicken Korma

A little while back, I spotted English Mums yummy recipe for her Chicken dhansak. At the time I commented that I had a really good one for a 'takeaway' tasting Chicken Korma. But that it was always a sort of 'chuck it all in by eye, see what happens' sort of cooking event, with no measuring going on whatsoever. So I've been very good today, and tried to make a note of what I actually put in, and when. I served it with another Potato based veg curry, but I'll save that for another time.
I normally cook for 6, so just reduce or increase the main ingredients depending on how much you need. Some of the spices are approximates, as I use cumin/coriander seeds which I grind.

Chicken Korma:
6 chicken breasts cubed. (Although, today I only used 2, as they were huge and we also had the Potato curry)
2 large onions, sliced. 
Big glug of veg or soya oil in a pan with lid.
Large pinch of salt.
Black pepper.
1/2 tsp chilli, I use 'hot' chilli powder, add more or less to taste, we like it with a kick.
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard powder, or from a jar if thats all you have.
About an inch of finely chopped fresh ginger.
3 large, finely chopped garlic cloves.
1 tsp sugar
200-300ml Creme Fraiche
100g creamed coconut (2 x 50g sachets) I use Pataks 4 x 50g in a box.
1 - 2 tsp of ground almonds, to your taste, depends how 'much' of an almond flavour you want.

Cook the onions in the oil, until transluscent. Add all the spices, plus the ginger, garlic and sugar. Mix together well. Cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, then add the chicken. Cook the chicken through, on a low heat, for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the chicken is cooking, put the 2 unopened sachets of coconut in a deep cup and add boiling water. It takes about 5 mins for them to soften enough to use, but I just leave them in there until I need them.

There should still be some fluid in the pan, from the oil and chicken. If not, add a touch of water, so you have about an inch in the bottom of the pan.
When the chicken is cooked, add the creamed coconut, stirring constantly. It will thicken up quite a lot and get sticky, so keep stirring. 

As soon as the coconut is in, add enough of the creme fraiche to get a sauce consistancy, and mix well. 


Add the ground almonds and simmer, really low with the lid on, for another 10-15 mins, stirring. Then turn the pan off, done. 

The great thing about this is you can make it earlier in the day and just warm through when needed, serve with rice and naan bread. Or in my case today, with the Potato curry as well.