Posts filed under ‘Gloucestershire’

foraging wild garlic in Cranham woods (and a tale of a tick bite)

Cranham woods_toddler lifting log - nipitinthebud.co.uk

When Euan was 3 years old we went for a bimble in Cranham Woods and stumbled upon a fabulous patch of wild garlic surrounding an ancient gnarly tree. I vowed to return each year but you’ve probably already guessed that we didn’t! I was reminded of both my love of foraging and the opportunity to recreate special trips with Luca when a friend asked me if I knew of anywhere she could find wild garlic to make pesto. Having sent her my blog link from my visit with Euan it tickled my memory bank and I decided to visit with Luca, albeit a year younger than Euan was first time around. If I visit again next year when Luca is also 3 I’ll have to track down Euan’s coat and really go to town with recreating the trip down memory lane!

Cranham Woods_toddlers running - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Luca and I explored the woods with a new Mum friend and her toddler and I think we found that same gnarly tree. It seemed further away from the road than I remembered and much bigger than it seemed last time but I guess that’s nature for you and 3 years growth (I really don’t trust my baby brain recollections these days). The toddlers were in their element bimbling about picking up leaves, dragging along giant sticks and blowing out dandelion clocks.

Cranham Woods_gnarly tree - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Cranham woods_tree climbing toddler - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Cranham woods with toddlers - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Cranham woods_dandelion clock - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Woods are such a good option on a hot day but the shaded canopy from the trees made for rather yellow photos. As we walked back towards the car we spotted a rape seed field and found a break in the fencing to check it out. I love the sight of swaths of golden yellow flowers.

Cranham Woods - rape seed field - nipitinthebud.co.uk

A few days after visiting Cranham Woods I found an engorged tick on Luca’s neck. During our bimble we’d had a conversation with a couple out on their daily walk in the woods about the deer they often see so it was a fair assumption Luca’s wading through the grass may have been the cause of being nibbled on. And as it was likely to be a deer tick I was a bit concerned about the possibility of infection, most notably the development of Lymes disease.

Cranham Woodstoddler picnic - nipitinthebud.co.uk

George removed the tick with tweezers using this method as soon as we spotted it but it was 3 days after our woods visit . I did some reading about the the symptoms to look for following a tick bite and was relieved to find nothing to be concerned about and no rash around the bite. 3 days passed and then Luca developed a runny nose, napped for 3 hours and come the evening was starting to feel really hot. He was running a fever when I put him to bed. When I spoke to a friend on the phone that evening she mentioned her son had a tick bite and her homeopath had recommended a precautionary dose of Ledum immediately. Only then did it occur to me that Luca’s body might be fighting an infection from the bite he’d received 6 days earlier. I did a little more research and found this article by homeopath Kelley Callahan ,”Ease Lyme anxiety: Homeopathic treatment of acute tick bites” , particularly reassuring.

”The Ledum is stimulating the body to effectively respond to the bite; which may in turn also neutralize the Lyme bacteria and prevent the development of an infection. This is the same principle by which you give someone with a high fever Belladonna; the remedy stimulates the body in its response to whatever infection or stimuli is causing the fever, often enabling the immune system to complete its work, without moving into a full-blown illness be it cough, flu, croup, etc.

I think its important to emphasize that Ledum is treating the *tick bite* not Lyme disease. There is no Lyme disease when you get a tick bite. Yes, it *may* develop. And you *may* get the flu from someone at the grocery store. But, you might not.

This is part of changing your mindset. We need to sever the cord of tick = Lyme always”.

Cranham woods_toddling - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Luca had a high fever all night and kept scratching his neck where the tick bite had been but there was still no rash. He woke to nurse frequently and I gave him some Ledum when I went to bed and in the morning. The next day he still had a low grade fever and I thought it worth getting him checked over by the GP given the possible cause of his infection. I’m not keen on the use of antibiotics but will use them if there is an urgency around treating an infection where slow natural healing may result in complications. As Luca was no longer experiencing any symptoms and his temperature was normal the GP was happy that his immune system had dealt with the infection from the bite and there was nothing more sinister to be concerned about. I was relieved that not only had his body’s fever response done the work of burning off the infection but that the GP hadn’t been quick to prescribe a ”just in case” dose of antibiotics which I’ve known to happen sometimes for other parents. It’s 6 weeks now since our woodland adventure and Luca never did develop any further symptoms. It just shows what the body is capable of when we let it respond naturally and are nourished and rested like children are.

Cranham woods_running toddler - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Photalife

July 6, 2018 at 1:33 pm 12 comments

gardening with kids – sunny Saturday mornings on the plot

We made our Saturday morning visit to the allotment yesterday. The day before I’d received a text from Dave to say our runner beans were coming up so we were excited to go and check their progress and see how the rest of our seeds were doing.

brothers at the allotment
I love how random and unexpected nature is. Out of 15 runner beans planted 2 weeks ago a handful have surfaced but most are still hibernating. Our first sowings 4 weeks ago are showing varying signs of progress – the lettuces are coming along beautifully but there’s no sign of watercress, carrots or kohl rabi yet. I had it in mind that carrots took 3-4 weeks to germinate but when I checked the archives for the first carrots I ever grew it was more like 5 weeks before they appeared.  It’s always a bit of a guessing game as to whether they’re just slower growing from year to year or whether it’s a failed sowing. We’re at a wedding next weekend so if there’s no carrot life signs in 2 weeks time we’ll either sow another row or switch to dwarf beans which always germinate pleasingly quickly.
brothers working at the allotment
This week we arrived mid morning and Luca was awake and was actually quite helpful.  He still can’t grasp not walking across little plants but it was a chance we had to take.  Last week arriving at the plot with a sleeping toddler was useful but it was so much hotter arriving at lunchtime. George was working away and not available for a lift home so we knew we’d need to have enough power for the walk home. Luca spent a happy 10 minutes poking soil around with his trowel while E and I watered and planted shallots.
toddler weeding at the allotment
toddler running at the allotment
Dave gave us some Roma tomato plants the sweet scent of which fills me with such joy (it’s all down to my love of green tomato chutney and needing to grow my own for that).  Dave finds it amusing I think that I love growing tomatoes over and above all else!  As we’re not around next weekend I took a chance on bedding in the tomato plants rather than waiting for them to get bigger in their pots.  We’re so lucky that Dave takes care of our plot when we’re not there otherwise I doubt I’d take such a chance.

One of the most wonderful things about being part of an allotment community is leaving the plot with freshly picked produce even though your garden isn’t producing anything edible yet.  Dave gifted us asparagus, cabbage and lettuce and you probably don’t need me to tell you that it tasted better than any you’d buy in the shop.
freshly picked allotment grown asparagus
allotment grown lettuce

My favourite photo from our visit yesterday is this last one.  There’s something so wonderful about fresh, vibrant green vegetables – as beautiful as any flower to an allotment grower (if you’re thinking ”that’s a bit weird” don’t worry, my husband thinks so too!) 

I’m going to share our muddy rooted lettuce with Darren at Photalife as part of his #mysundayphoto link up.  It’s our first time joining in and there are some terrific pictures from other families if you find yourself with some browsing time on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Photalife

May 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm 18 comments

gardening with kids – watering, wigwam making and wise words from an old friend

On Saturday morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue and there were whisperings of ”allotment, allotment” in the air. It was already 2 weeks since our last visit to sow our first seeds of 2018. I knew there wouldn’t be many signs of life in our seed beds but I wanted Euan to understand the importance of being habitual with our visits, especially to water on sunny days. It’s a about a 25 minute walk for little legs to the plot and I’ve accepted Euan can only really do it one way on a hot day to remain moan free. Last time we got a lift down with George on his way to work but that meant we were there an hour before our allotment guardian Dave arrived and toddler Luca was full of energy, excitement and mischief. On Saturday I decided it would work better to play at home for a bit and walk to the plot when Luca was ready for his nap. It wouldn’t give us much time to work but on a hot day our visit would be cut short anyway as there’s little shade on the plot. I set my sights on achieving one task of sowing some new seeds and anything else would be a bonus.

6 year old watering at the allotment

Sometimes knowing you are short of time is good for concentrating the mind and in the 30 minutes that Luca napped we managed to water our seed beds, sow a row of beetroot and make a wigwam for our runner beans. As expected there was no sign of our carrots (they usually take about 3 weeks to germinate) but the lettuce was peaking out of the ground and the water cress was showing some signs of surfacing.

handful of runner beans for planting

Euan was excited about making a runner bean wigwam and surprised by how quick and easy it was. We borrowed 6 bean poles from Dave and pushed them into the ground in the shape of a hexagon. We used 2 cable ties to fasten the poles together at the top and then planted a bean either side of each bean pole and a few spares in the centre. Euan was intrigued to see the different varieties of beans Dave had saved from last year and said he felt like Jack in the story of the magic beanstalk as he popped them in his pocket to walk back to our patch to plant them. I’m not quite sure how the 3 varieties of beans we planted (white, purple and black and brown) will differ in appearance and taste but that’s half the fun of gardening using saved seeds isn’t it!

6 year old making a runner bean wigwam

Dave offered us some greens to plant as he always sows more than he needs so he can share plants with other allotment holders. We declined the offer as we only have a small amount of space and I wanted Euan to grow things he enjoys eating. He was quite keen to grow a cabbage, inspired by a photo in Dave’s shed of him holding a giant 36lb cabbage, but he was easily persuaded not to when I pointed out it wouldn’t be ready until summer was long gone. Each year Dave tries to beat his 36lb record and there’s a friendlyand informal giant cabbage growing competition that goes on among other growers on the plot that starts with donations of Dave’s seedling cabbages.


Dave's giant 36lb cabbage - nipitinthebud.co.uk

We’re saving the last bit of space on our patch for some tomato plants Dave is currently bringing along in his shed. Tomatoes are my favourite produce to grow and the reason I took on an allotment in the first place (thanks to my love of green tomato chutney and not being able to source green tomatoes anywhere). I’m really hoping our tomatoes don’t suffer blight again like they did last summer. At least when you only have a small patch the loss of 4 plants doesn’t feel as great as the year blight destroyed over 20 previously strong, healthy, fruit giving tomato plants.

We were delighted to see our friend Henri at the plot on Saturday. He’s a familiar figure during harvest time when he leaves the plot pushing his bike laden with his allotment grown produce. Henri will celebrate his 94th birthday this year which is amazing having undergone a triple heart bypass operation 7 years ago. He’s in pain every day and beginning to struggle with some of the heavier allotment tasks but his plot is still immaculate and abundant. Henri is Italian and grows grapes on his allotment that he nurtured from seeds smuggled insidea hanky in his pocket when he arrived in Gloucester soon after the second world war had ended. His brother had been a prisoner of war in the Forest of Dean and stayed here when he was freed having fallen in love with a local girl. Henri decided to join his brother in Gloucester and he took on his allotment not long after. It’s amazing to think his grape vine is truly one of a kind in England and he makes about 14 litres of wine each year from the grapes he picks.

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

Henri is so knowledgable and we all love to hear his gardening wisdom. When I asked if I could take a picture of him with Euan he said ”Of course” and reached his arm out for a hug. I loved the picture I snapped but there was something missing. I took a second picture and this time got Henri’s bike in the frame. If you know Henri you just can’t picture him down at the allotment without his bike!

6 year old and 93 year old allotment buddies

I think this second picture could be one of my all time favourite allotment photos now. I love what it says about Euan’s delight at simply being on the allotment. I love the ease of these two allotment buddies, born 87 years apart, in front of the camera and with one another. And it reminds me of a picture I shared in another post featuring Henri called ”I is for … inspired by older people”.

Talk to old people, they know cool stuff

Conversation connects and encourages people. We all have cool stuff to share and we need more ways to bring people of different generations and cultures together. All over the country this is happening on allotments and I feel so lucky to have been welcomed back into this beautiful allotment community with my boys.

© ‘‘Talk to old people, they know cool stuff you don’t. Talk to young people, they know cool stuff you don’t” image was from a website called ‘We are what we do’ which is sadly no longer on-line. The brilliant book created by them called Change the world for a fiver’ can still be found pre-loved though.

Keeping it real logo - debsrandomwritings.com copy
design3

May 11, 2018 at 8:28 am 15 comments

National Infertility Awareness Week: our infertility journey through PCOS to parenthood

National Infertility Awareness Week logo

I hadn’t realised it was Infertility Awareness Week until I came across another couples NIAW post in my WordPress feed.   There’s no reason for me to be aware of it I guess just as World Allergy Week, MS Awareness Week and Bowel Cancer Awareness month have also slipped past me this week.  As a Mum of two I’m no longer affected by infertility, I don’t know anyone with Bowel cancer or MS thankfully and none of us suffer from allergies. That wasn’t always the case though – I experienced fertility issues long before my husband and I started trying to conceive.  Having now successfully become pregnant and carried babies to full term I wanted to share a little of what that journey has looked like – physically, mentally and emotionally.  I’m typing as I’m thinking to ensure I don’t get too hung up on the story being crafted as carefully as my usual blog posts so please forgive me if I jump about or include photos that might seem a bit random to you (they’re not to me) with the purpose of breaking up big chunks of text a little.  It’s a long read so feel free to go and make a cuppa first before you settle down.  When you reach the end if you know anyone who might feel encouraged by our story please do share the blog link.  I’ll also post on Instagram and Twitter if that’s an easier option for you to pass it on.

3 hour old baby Euan
Our son Euan was born in January 2012, 13 years into our marriage and 10 years after we started trying to conceive. He was a rainbow baby, born 12 days before the first anniversary of the miscarriage of our first baby. I wrote about that experience last year in Writing when you’re lost for words – healing after miscarriage. Both babies were conceived with the help of fertility treatment and Euan was conceived in the first cycle after the miscarriage when our fertility consultant had matter of factly encouraged us to try again as researchers have found that many women are more fertile straight after a miscarriage. The irony of that was not lost on us when my body had taken over a decade to fall pregnant for the first time. We were uncertain where our fertility consultant was unshakeably certain. We’d experienced a deep grief for the baby we’d lost but felt ready to consider the possibility we could fall pregnant again so we out our faith in her when we had no other place for it. We left the fertility clinic with our next supply of Gonal F injections and I clung to the mantra
”When the world says ”Give up”, Hope whispers ”Try one more time”.

Gonal F hormone injection pens for fertility treatment - nipitinthebud.co.ukThe medical treatment we were receiving was to tackle infertility as a result of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).  I had been diagnosed with the condition in 2004 when attempts to fall pregnant naturally had failed because I wasn’t producing any eggs.  The agony of waiting month after month for signs of ovulation when you are trying to conceive is stressful enough but my menstrual cycle ranged from 4 months to 9+ months gaps, and no two periods were ever closer than 8 weeks apart.  I’d always wondered if only one of my ovaries worked as my cycle had been erratic since my first period at 13.  My bleeds were embarrassingly unpredictable but entirely pain free.  I didn’t experience the mood swings or PMS symptoms other girls complained about and as an introverted teenager thought how lucky I was to be getting off so lightly.

It turned out the ease of my menstrual symptoms was due to a hormonal imbalance which affected the frequency with which my body produced eggs.  In 2004 the solution offered by the Gynae consultant we were referred to was a prescription for Clomid, an oral medication that is effective for many women in stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs.  For some women with ovulation issues taking Clomid for a short period of time is enough to get things working and they fall pregnant naturally.  For other women, like me, it has little or no effect at all (I later read in a journal of Chinese Medicine that when egg production ceases as a result of PCOS taking clomid is like flogging a dead horse!).   When I say Clomid had no effect I simply mean on helping me to ovulate – it had an extreme effect on my hormonal balance.  After a couple of months of taking Clomid I started to suffer menopausal like symptoms like hot flushes, headaches, an increase in appetite, weight gain and raging mood swings.  I was effectively suffering an almost constant cycle of PMS without recognising it as that because I’d never had such symptoms before.  To be frank I felt like I was unravelling.  The stress of all these physical symptoms with no signs of an effect on triggering either ovulation or a bleed, alongside daily monitoring of my basal body temperature and mucus changes was exhausting.  Each month when the Clomid failed to work the dose was increased.  Each month the Clomid failed to work I became more anxious, depressed and fearful that I’d never be a Mum.

When the World says ”Give up”, 

Hope whispers ”Try one more time”

Finally after 6 months, and only one period experienced in that time, we were due to have a review appointment at the hospital.  We decided to speak to our kind and supportive GP about our concerns regarding the extreme side effects of Clomid and how it was affecting my mental health.  We were worried about documented research that Clomid assisted pregnancies have a higher risk of birth defects and that it’s use is not recommended beyond 6 months.  Our GP was sympathetic and said he would certainly caution against continuing to take it even if it was the only option at this stage for helping us to fall pregnant.  We left with heavy hearts but encouraged he appreciated the strain treatment was placing on my mental health and recognising that was reason enough to ask further questions.

When we saw the Gynae consultant the following week he suggested another 3 months of Clomid combined with the diabetic drug Metformin as it had been shown to be a successful in many cases where erratic ovulation is a result of PCOS.  This is because weight gain is an issue affecting fertility in many PCOS sufferers and this combination of medication is said to help with weightloss.  I questioned the rationale of me taking it when I had no other symptoms of being a PCOS sufferer like acne or excess facial hair and only weighed 8.5 stone.  The consultant’s reply was ‘‘well you’re lucky then, you’re in the 20% of women who are asymptomatic”.  I didn’t feel lucky.  I felt alarmed and anxious and fearful about what sort of mother I would be if continuing with treatment that left me feeling unhinged was the only way to drag a baby out of me.  We asked the consultant about other options if taking Clomid and Metformin didn’t have the desired effect.

Unless you opt for donor eggs you’ll never fall pregnant.  And you’ll have to pay for it, IVF is not available on the NHS”  he answered so matter of factly that I wanted to slap him and scream ‘‘what do you know about women’s bodies anyway!”.  Instead I could only swallow down a whisper ”Oh” as I tried not to cry. 

I’d always felt something was wrong with me when I noticed my cycle was different to every one elses.  I also knew  from the moment I started babysitting as a teenager my greatest desire was to become a Mum.  When I met George at 19, having a family was not something we talked about straightaway but I fell so hard and fast in love with him that I  knew it would be a conversation one day and I wanted reassurance having children would be possible for us.  Both my anxious mind and logical brain agreed that only ovulating 2 or 3 times a year would make trying to conceive a frustrating, difficult and potentially depressing journey.  We were students in Lancaster and I visited a local GP to express my concerns about my lack of periods.  The reply?  ”Do you want to fall pregnant right now?  Don’t worry about it then, I can prescribe you the pill if you want the reassurance of having a regular period”.  

wedding_confetti pictureGeorge and I married in 1998 at the age of 23 and agreed to wait 3 years so that George could set up a recording studio in the cellar in our house and establish his work as a freelance practitioner.  We started trying to conceive after 2 years when it became apparent my cycle was not predictable enough to need to worry about falling pregnant sooner.  George didn’t feel ready but he was able to deal with his emotions around that better than I was able to manage the depression I was experiencing waiting and watching as other friends became parents so easily.  When we then received the news in 2004 that we weren’t going to be able to fall pregnant naturally without risking both my health and our financial future we walked away from the NHS.  I wasn’t able to accept such a dim prognosis but we also didn’t have the funds for IVF (having reasoned you can’t start one cycle without knowing you have the resources to keep going if it doesn’t work first, second, third time round).  We knew personally of a couple who’d tried numerous IVF cycles over a 10 year period only to be left with a huge debt, a body in constant pain and more damaged than when they started and finally having to accept that they would remain childless. I didn’t feel we’d really received much of a treatment plan at this stage.  IVF felt like a last resort not a first resort and using someone elses eggs was also not part of the plan we’d made for creating children together.   So instead over the next few years I made dietary changes and tried more holistic, alternative therapies like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, reflexology and EFT for the anxiety and depression that had arisen as a result of the challenges we were dealing with.  In that time I had waves of extraordinary optimism and vigour and spells of deep despair.  Mostly I just plodded along trying to make day to day life mean something when really life was on hold until we knew for sure whether becoming parents was even possible.  When my friends little boy asked me why we didn’t have children I explained it was a bit like making a cake and I didn’t have all the ingredients needed to make a baby.  We smiled through the pain of friends announcing their pregnancies and witnessing their family grow by one, two, three children.  I answered questions about whether we wanted kids with a conversation killing ”not yet” and cried in private afterwards at my inability to be honest about how I really felt.  After a while people stopped asking but that made it no easier to bear to be presumed to be a woman who didn’t want to have children when the opposite was true.

Eventually in 2009 after I’d quit a mentally stressful job I took some time out.  My anxiety levels normalised, I started to exercise more regularly and for the first time in my life I was able to look after myself properly with no thought for anyone else.  When I still had no cycle to speak of after 10 months I felt like we’d tried everything we could naturally and spoke again to the GP who had supported us 5 years before.  We admitted it was not an easy decision to return to the NHS but a friend receiving treatment for endometriosis was told she would qualify for free IVF treatment if other interventions didn’t work.  Suddenly we had options again and felt it would be important to have a conversation at least with my friend’s new Consultant and find out how fertility treatments had advanced in the last 5 years.  We were referred to Mrs Reddy at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital who is a Gynae Consultant and specialist in Reproductive Medicine and was just starting up a new fertility unit in Cheltenham.  Mrs Reddy’s response at our first appointment was in complete contrast to our last appointment in 2004.   She simply said

‘I know what the problem is and we can fix it.  I can help you to have a baby, I’ve helped women in much worse situations than you become pregnant.  You’re going to be a Mum’’. 

37 week bump_44 inches - nipitinthebud.co.uk

Mrs Reddy explained to us why having polycystic ovaries meant I didn’t produce eggs:  my ovaries were swollen with hormonal fluid and effectively stuck in the luteal phase of my cycle (the 2 weeks after you ovulate).  The fluid filled cysts on my ovaries meant my hormone balance was completely out of balance – neither producing enough leutenizing hormone to produce a viable egg or enough progesterone to trigger a bleed.  It was as if my body thought it was pregnant and didn’t need to ovulate without realising it wasn’t! Mrs Reddy then explained she would carry out investigative laparoscopic surgery and and ovarian drilling to release the fluid and reset the hormonal balance.  She also said that fertility treatment was now available on the NHS in Gloucestershire and we were eligible for one funded cycle of IVF or 6 cycles of ovulation induction (approximate costs privately of £5,000 and £2,000).  I trusted Mrs Reddy completely and that was as valuable in our attempts to prime my body for pregnancy as the vitamins I was taking, the low carb diet I adopted (PCOS effects insulin levels which is why weight gain is an issue for some women) and the positive and hope filled mindset it was now easier to maintain.  She’d answered all my questions, had helped me understand the condition that was affecting my fertility and gave me a reason to have faith in my body again because I trusted her skill in unlocking it’s potential.  In just one short consultation my faith had been restored in my body, the medical profession and the vision I had always held of being a Mum holding my own baby.

The day after our 12 year wedding anniversary in September 2010 I started the first treatment cycle for ovulation induction.  I’d had the laparoscopy and ovarian drilling 5 months before and had experienced intense feelings of excitement and relief that something concrete was finally happening.  It still seems surreal to me reflecting back on going into an operation with no fear or worry, only tremors of excitement that finally I was going to be out of the starters blocks on this gruelling infertility journey.  It took me 6 weeks to recover fully from the operation and once again we watched and waited for signs of ovulation which never came.  My friend with endometriosis had successfully fallen pregnant after her laparoscopy and although that pregnancy had ended in miscarriage she had a baby girl the month after my operation. I was filled with such joy and hope and it was the first pregnancy news in years that hadn’t hurt my heart.  

If you’ve not heard of ovulation induction treatment before it involves daily injections of Gonadatrophins, in our case Gonal F, to stimulate your ovaries to produce egg follicles.  You need regular scanning of your ovaries once you’ve been injecting for a couple of weeks to see how many egg follicles are growing.  It’s the same stimulation process that is used for IVF but the dose is lower and managed more precisely so that only 1 or 2 eggs are produced (in IVF the ovaries are hyper-stimulated and a great many eggs might be extracted).  The egg producing follicles on your ovaries are monitored so closely in ovulation induction to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancies as once you ovulate no further medical intervention is needed to conceive or support your pregnancy.  When an egg follicle measures 15mm in diameter it is nearly ready to burst so you are given another injection called Ovitrelle to ensure the egg matures and is released.   If scanning your ovaries shows more than two follicles have reached 15mm the cycle is suspended and you have to wait to start over again.   Thankfully the medical staff know what they’re doing and this doesn’t often happen.

Soon after starting the Gonal F injections I observed in my journal:

”I was apprehensive at first about injecting myself, but unlike George who’s phobic of needles, it’s not any physical worries but simply because it feels like everything hangs on getting this little thing right.  I’m sure you can’t get it wrong but it feels so immense to finally be in this place with options.  And it’s weird, the enormity of it, to be stood in the kitchen on my own, getting my head around how just 10 seconds of my time has the potential to change everything.  George couldn’t even be in the house the first night I injected myself – he texted before returning from badminton to ask if it was all over.  I have to inject at the same time every evening so I opted for 10pm just before bed so there was no danger of forgetting (as if I could!).  He crept like a cat burglar into the house, panic stricken that I might have felt unable to do it and would need him to now.  As it was I had spoken to a friend who’s diabetic and she assured me it was simple and pain free and could be practiced on an orange.  It was actually quite mind blowing to think injecting into my belly fat would be the start of making our dreams come true”.

We didn’t conceive following our first cycle of ovulation induction but it was definitely a success story in terms of showing us it was possible.  Producing viable eggs was more than I could have ever hoped for – tracking the growth of my follicles on the ultrasound was the tangible evidence that helped us remain hopeful.  I felt strangely numb when I got my period after that first cycle, not really disappointed because I’d not allowed myself to imagine we would fall pregnant first time but not really ok about it either.  It had taken over 3 weeks of daily injections and visits to the clinic every few days from day 14 for scanning all carried out in secret and fitted in around work for both of us.  Once I had ovulated the 2 weeks of waiting had been much harder to bear than I had thought it would be.   I’d experienced such intense emotional changes while injecting, was totally fatigued in the latter weeks of the cycle and my boobs had definitely changed!  Menstrual symptoms are so similar to pregnancy symptoms I now know but despite what I read I couldn’t bring myself to believe that painful boobs meant I was pregnant.  I felt sure that I would know if I was and the ‘Am I?/Arent I?’ conversations in my head were so doubtful I felt sure it meant I wasn’t.   You have to let go of any sense of timescale when you’re trying to conceive with help and know that if it takes another month it’s no big deal.  Each month takes you closer to, not away from, the child you are dreaming of and with each bleed you can only momentarily mourn an unsuccessful cycle before rejoicing in the start of a new one.

We fell pregnant with our second ovulation induction cycle.  We didn’t really let ourselves believe it until we were scanned at 7 weeks and saw our baby’s healthy heartbeat on the screen.  We were discharged from the fertility clinic into the care of our local maternity services and one of the first things our Community Midwife arranged for us was our 12 week scan.  After wanting to be pregnant for so long the physical difficulties of acid reflux, morning sickness that lasted all day and headaches from not being able to eat or sleep properly hit hard.  That pregnancy ended in miscarriage when we were told at our 12 week scan our baby had died at 8 weeks.  My body had held on to my baby despite the changes in hormones I’d experienced (only noticeable in my morning sickness suddenly stopping at 10 weeks).  We opted for an ERPC procedure to remove the baby as the most complete way of healing physically and emotionally and to ensure fewer risks for achieving future pregnancies.

5 weeks later on 10th March 2011 I wrote in my journal:

”I’ve got out of the habit of journalling which is not a bad thing – it means nothing too awful has happened to write about!  I’ve picked up my pencil today because we saw Mrs Reddy yesterday.  She gave us her condolences and said how common miscarriage is and that it’s better this way if the pregnancy wasn’t healthy, if there was something not right with the baby.  She said that pregnancy hormones take a few weeks to change in the body when a baby dies so the baby’s heart would have stopped beating soon after our first scan since the baby only measured 8 weeks in size.  It means my body hung on to our baby for 4 weeks and that’s bitter sweet in terms of the faith I now have in my body’s ability to carry a baby.  When I asked if we needed to wait 3 months before commencing treatment (and that George was going away to France for a badminton tournament in  couple of months time) she laughed and said ”there’s no medical reason to wait, babies are more important than badminton!  You will get pregnant again, I’m sure of it”.   

Sure enough in less than 2 months I was pregnant for the second time having successfully matured 2 egg follicles.   It was an exciting but tense time wondering whether we would find we were pregnant with twins and when we were scanned again at 7 weeks it was such a relief to see a tiny heartbeat flickering on the screen.  We nicknamed our miracle babybird as the baby looked like a little bird on the screen.  It was so reassuring to be hearing the news of a healthy baby in a place that had become a second home to us, supported by people we trusted implicitly. 

7 week ultrasound scan after fertility treatmentWhen we returned to the ultrasound department of our local hospital 5 weeks later for our dating scan it was hard not to feel fretful.  George had it worse than me as he had nothing tangible to prove it was going to be ok.  I felt certain it was ok though as I felt so sick still, really struggled to drink the litre of water required before the ultrasound and was already started to experience pelvic pain.  We were both holding our breath as the Sonographer concentrated on the image on her screen and then turned it towards us asking ”do you want to meet your baby?”.    The 20 week scan was an even greater milestone – seeing our baby looking like an image from a pregnancy book was hugely reassuring.  The timing couldn’t have been more blessed falling in the same week as what would have been the due date for our first baby. 

20 week scan_successful fertility treatment - nipitinthebud.co.uk

And that’s where I’m going to stop –  stories of pregnancy, birth, and parenting are for another day and another place.  Thank you so much for reading this far.  I hope that by sharing our experience of a long and painful infertility journey it provides some hope to others that medical professionals do sometimes get it wrong and self-belief and hope is as valuable as practical measures you might take in trying to become parents.  Medical professionals can also get it right, dedicate their lives to helping people have children and be amazing in the support they provide.  When you understand clearly, as a patient, what the issue is and how it can be overcome it’s much easier to maintain the hope of changing it.  (I appreciate for some people fertility issues are unexplained and that brings with it a whole heap of other challenges).  For anyone experiencing the pain of being childless there is support to be found in speaking to others about it.  If you don’t feel comfortable to do that among your own friends and family an on-line support forum can be a useful place to share your difficulties with people in the same situation, in a way you feel more in control of and less vulnerable about.  There is such a silence around difficulties conceiving and the impact it has on living your best life.  It’s hard going through treatment in secret or later sharing the pain of losing a baby know one knew existed.  But it’s all worth it when the world says ”Give Up” and Hope whispers ‘‘Try one more time” and the result is finally holding your own baby in your arms.

8 weeks old - brothers* 4B

4 year old Euan and his brother Luca, born in April 2016, and conceived naturally

Footnote:

Infertility is a puzzle and what works for some people doesn’t work for others.  Who knows what small change is the pivotal moment in completing your picture of becoming a family.  Some of the things I feel made a difference for us were:

a proper diagnosis of the medical condition causing our infertility and ensuring we understood what having PCOS meant not only in terms of our fertility issues but also my long term health.  With or without a baby PCOS put me at greater risk of other health issues in later life and it made making the diet and lifestyle changes I I needed to make to improve my chances of falling pregnant easier to maintain knowing it was about maintaining good health as a parent.

absolute trust in the knowledge and skill of the medical professionals helping us.  When someone says ”You will get pregnant” it’s hard to believe them but if you trust them you can hold faith in them when your own wavers

feeling empowered to do something myself to be as healthy as I could be.  By understanding PCOS more and it’s effect on insulin levels I was able to remain more committed to a low sugar/carb diet.  I didn’t have weight issues but have since observed that a high carb diet causes bloating, fatigue and low mood which was not helpful in any area of my life on top of struggling with infertility

learning to trust my body and not blame myself for our infertility.  This was massive for me having always suffered self-esteem and body confidence issues.  The intuition that I had around struggles to fall pregnant in future was accurate but anxiety turned it into questioning my own worth, not being good enough, not deserving happiness etc.  Only when I was able to confidently say ”I do deserve to be a Mum.  It’s ok to have what I want.  It isn’t selfish to put myself first” did something shift in my ability to believe it was possible.

taking vitamin supplements specifically designed to support conception.  I wanted to give my body the best possible chance so took Vitabiotics Pregnacare conception vitamins from the month before we started our first cycle of fertility treatment.  For the first time in his life George also Pregnacare conception vitamins for men because he also wanted to do everything he could to maximise our chances.  I recall he actually said ‘‘if you suffered a miscarriage and I’d been slack about my role in making a healthy baby I’d always wonder if it might have been preventable.  I don’t really know if it’ll make a difference but you think it will so I’m not doing to doubt that”.  

managing anxiety levels in all areas of my life.  My feelings of anxiety about not being able to fall pregnant or sustain a pregnancy were nothing compared to the constant rumbling anxiety I began to experience in the workplace.  I didn’t realise until I took a break from paid employment just how badly it was effecting my health.  I was underweight because my cortisol levels were so high and I just didn’t have the strategies I needed to manage it because I was wound so tightly.  As a result on the rare occasion I shared our difficulties some people would point to my stress levels and say ”You just need to relax and then it’ll happen naturally”.  This is never helpful for someone trying to conceive but there is a grain of truth in it; in the need to learn to manage a more positive response to difficult situations.   Until I learned to put myself first and respect what my body and mind needed I wonder if  there was a psychological block in my body’s ability to create the environment needed to conceive.

exploring the mind body connection and it’s role in fertility issues.  I read and worked through a book called The Whole Person Fertility Programme by Neravi Payne in the 5 years between NHS treatments.  It was really helpful in unpicking some of the unconscious beliefs I was holding about my ability to fall pregnant, carry a baby and deal with thoughts of coping if we lost a baby.   When I was 14 a friend of my Mum’s had suffered a still birth at full term after the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages and committed suicide.  Even at that young age I recall vividly feeling her pain and understanding her choice.  I think my immature brain converted the idea that miscarriage equals a pain so unbearable you can’t live and wonder if at an emotional level at least my body knew I wasn’t ready to fall pregnant and carry that risk (I’m not saying I would have made that choice of course just acknowledging the connection between body and mind is strong enough to protect us from our own fears sometimes)

having regular acupuncture treatment and using Chinese herbs.  The aim initially was to re-balance my body and normalise my cycle but in the end I realised it was actually supporting me at a deeper level than that.  Mentally and emotionally I was ragged from so many years of disappointment, was completely disconnected from my body which I felt was failing me and I had so many doubts about what sort of Mum I’d be I needed to restore my faith in myself and find some inner peace that with or without a baby I was ok.

practicing relaxation techniques to manage my anxiety thinking.  I’d go for walks to take the lid off my head, had long soaks in the bath and read more books.  I was trying to reconnect mind and body and find the still small voice that believed ‘‘it’ll be alright, we can do this, your children are waiting for you”

journalling through the good, bad and sad days.  Writing is therapy for me I now realise, sometimes it’s the only way I can tune into the still small voice and quieten the anxious liar.

spending time around family and friends with children.  It wasn’t easy, it was painful at times but it was part of the process to learn to be vulnerable with people and let them in.  I really believe that tapping into the love you feel for other people’s children and feeling the physical sensation of hugging them, laughing with them and helping them when they’re struggling stirs up your natural parenting instincts.  Miracles happen when you open up your heart to others and let joy in.

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who might find encouragement in it I would really appreciate you sharing it with them.  Thank you

April 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm 18 comments

gardening with kids – our first allotment sowings of 2018

21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-12.jpgI’m so happy to be returning to the allotment this year thanks to our friend Dave giving us a small patch of ground on his plot, just like he did last year when 5 year old Euan tried allotment growing for the first time.  I was a bit dubious about how productive it would today with a wandering toddler in tow so set my expectations low to avoid any sense of frustration.  If nothing else we’d enjoy some fresh air, sunshine and chats with lovely allotment holders.  We did just that having arrived an hour before Dave with no tools or seeds (our amazing plot guardian Dave he even shares his shed palace with us so we can just rock up without having to bring things with us!).  It was so lovely to chat to our old plot neighbours Pat and Robin.  I had feared I might feel wistful for the days when I was able to spend all day at the plot but I obviously love my kids more than gardening which is good to know! I love being at the allotment but enjoy it in a different way now.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-4

It’s beautiful to see how much Euan loves being there too. Admittedly he loves exploring more than the actual gardening at the moment but he shows interest and diligence with the latter when he does help because he gets to have some free time to play first. Pat and Robin are very gracious about him doing laps of their plot via the secret path behind the shed and zig zagging along the pathways between their vegetable beds. On this occasion, between playing hide and seek and pointing out plants he recognised, Euan assisted Pat with planting her seed potatoes (she didn’t need the help of course, but E was thrilled to be given the responsibility of tucking the potatoes into their trench).  This is what I always loved about the allotment – the sharing of knowledge between generations and the relaxed and easy sharing of time.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-11

Euan correctly guessed the name of the rhubarb plant and happily helped to tug some stalks from it when Pat offered us some.  We also received some forced rhubarb from Dave so we shall have to decide how to use our two kinds of rhubarb.  The beauty of blogging is that there is never a shortage of ideas so a quick look at my post 5 ways with… a ton of rhubarb will be a good place to start!
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-721-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-821-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-9

We wandered over to Dave’s plot to await his arrival and saw that he had prepared the ground for us so we could get straight on to the business of sowing our first seeds (I know!  how lucky are we?)   We rummaged through Dave’s seed tin and Euan chose kohl rabi after his success with growing it last year, Autumn King carrots, watercress and lettuce.
21-4-18- allotment-seeds sown

Luca was actually quite interested in what we were doing but had to be distracted with invitations to dig holes away from where we were working.   He just couldn’t grasp the concept of walking around the seed beds every time he decided to make a beeline for me.  He loved the watering can but found it a bit ‘‘big, big” .  I admired his determination to keep returning to the watering can and check whether it was still to heavy.  A couple of lines of seeds later and it was just the right.  He looked so pleased with himself as he dragged it over to me.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-13

Luca definitely worked up an appetite for his snacks after all that effort.  He’s not a big eater but loves nibble sized fruit and veg and chomping his way through apple slices occupied him for a little while at least.  I can’t wait until our allotment growing starts bearing fruit as I always loved snacking on green beans, peas and berries freshly picked.  I think Luca will too so it was very thoughtful of Dave to give us some space right by the blackberries.
21-4-18- allotment-first sowings 2018 - nipitinthebud.co.uk-14

The allotment provides a sense of community for us that is lacking in the street in which we live (as home owners in a street of tenants and students who come and go). We have history at the allotment and there’s an ease in conversations as we stop to chat with people tending their plot. Although we had a 5 year gap after letting go of the plot when Euan was a year old it feels like we never left. Only now we have the privilege of enjoying the space and growing again with 1/10th of the effort it would normally take.  It makes it a joy to be there with the boys and we are ever grateful to our wonderful allotment friend Dave. Gardening with kids is fab!
allotment gardening with kids_toddler wandering
design3

April 23, 2018 at 10:02 am 12 comments

#myheartylife 15 – gratitude| success| beauty

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.

12-4-18- Slimbridge visit playground

I am grateful for …
Living near to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Centre.  The school holidays have been a bit dreary weather wise and while we’ve loved our indoor time over the Easter weekend we’ve also had to cancel some activities when being out in a downpour would have been a bit miserable or created epic muddy clean up jobs.  When you have a special place you like to visit as a family it’s easier to push through any reluctance and as we only had one day this week with George we made it work for a trip to Slimbridge.  It was cold but dry and we had a lovely time doing the Dusty Duck Easter hunt and then claiming the prize of a delicious Pulsin bar.  Luca was in his element bimbling about saying “Hiya” to the birds and calling every bird variety we saw “wack“.

12-4-18- Slimbridge visit_12-4-18- Slimbridge visit with Dusty Duck12-4-18- Slimbridge visit stepping stones

I succeeded at
Creating our first video review.  I’d not used iMovie before but George has been making trailers for his Spaces music project.  He gave me a few pointers and we put together a short video of the boys bimbling about on Selsley Common with their OXO Tot water bottles.   My initial plan had been for E to talk about why the bottles are so great but that proved tricky to capture and edit as I’ve never used my camera for video before!  I did get some lovely footage and some funny outtakes but quality was poor from shooting indoors and it just didn’t stitch together very well.  So I decided to use the small amount of outdoor footage from our Easter Sunday amble.  The funniest thing about the whole process for me was being named a ‘composer‘ by GarageBand when we used it to create the music for the video.  GarageBand was George’s solution to my question ”how do you put Music on it without having to worry about copyright?’‘.  I wouldn’t have dreamed of making my own track but when you know someone who can their confidence and ease rubs off.  Of course, it wasn’t really like I made my own song as the loops were samples but if matchmaking two country style loops, inspired by Luca’s Benny Hill like bimbling, is successfully writing a theme song I’ll take it.  Anyway here’s an outtake from our first video making attempt when I didn’t even realise you couldn’t shoot in portrait!

I found beauty in ..
Wildlife and seeing how much pleasure our boys (and kids in general) get from being around animals.  First at Slimbridge feeding the birds and seeking out Euan’s favourite otters.  And then during a visit to our local city farm where we saw lambs, cows, pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, ducks and chickens. I loved watching how curious Luca was peering into the guinea pig hutches and E running up to tell him what they were and read their names out. Parenting outside feels easier too, they’re not the only ones who feel lighter for the fresh air!

Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Centre swans
Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Centre
My previous #myheartylife reflections can be found here

If you’re publishing a blog post that fits in with one or all of the #myheartylife prompts why not join the linky? Simply add your blog link at the bottom of Mary’s latest post here. Sharing comments with other #myheartylife bloggers is always lovely and if posting your cheerful moments on social media too please use the tag #myheartylife. Enjoy living and sharing your hearty life.

April 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm 1 comment

5 reasons to love the OXO Tot twist top water bottle (a review with a pair of thirsty explorers)

boy drinking from OXO twist top water bottle on Selsley Common - nipitinthebud.co.ukIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know how much we love OXO kitchen tools and utensils.  If you’re a new visitor here thank you for taking the time to hang out with us – you might like to read our other OXO product reviews after you finish here.  We first reviewed the OXO Tot twist top bottle when Euan was 18 months old.  3 years later when his baby brother Luca was in need of his first drinking cup we returned to the OXO website and reviewed it again.   Luca was 9 months old in our second review but soon got the hang of drinking from the straw (the packaging recommends 18 months + but in our experience there are no safety issues for children younger than that, they just might find it tricky to hold the bottle or drink from the straw).  We wanted to try something a bit different for this review so we took our bottles out for an Easter Sunday bimble on Selsley common and this is the result.

If you already love these water bottles you’ll understand why we kept our video short.  It illustrates all you need to know really – that this water bottle is easy to drink from with or without hands, it’s lightweight and easy to carry and it’s strong enough to handle whatever a toddler may throw at it.  If you’re not familiar with the OXO Tot brand and need a little more persuading here are 5 reasons why we love their twist top bottle and think you will too:

1/  the flexible rubber drinking straw

There’s something about straws that just makes drinking easier.  I share Luca’s water bottle during the day and find it much easier for both of us to stay hydrated than drinking from a cup.  Luca likes drinking from it because we share it and he feels so grown up having the same bottle as his big brother.  Euan likes it because when he’s  drawing at the table he doesn’t even have to pick it up (did you spot Luca carrying it by the straw in his teeth in the video?).  It’s a brilliant water bottle for travelling as children can’t tip their head back in their car seat to drink from a normal cup or bottle.  Or when the boys are poorly or need a drink in the night it’s much less disturbing to their sleep to just turn them on their side and put the straw to their mouth for small sips than sitting them up to drink from a cup.  We all agree water just tastes better from a straw! If that’s not been your experience because of plastic mould growing straws the OXO designers have thought of that too.  Their rubber straw is in two sections and comes apart easily for cleaning.  If you do find it starts to deteriorate, gets lost or your toddler bites through it using it as a carry handle (the texture is quite appealling to teethy toddlers) you can buy a replacement (2 for £4) .  It makes good environmental sense to make sure a perfectly good water bottle doesn’t need to be discarded when the straw goes astray.
30-3-18- OXO Tot water bottles for review

2/  It doesn’t leak. 

This is like the holy grail of claims with baby/toddler food and drink storage.  The twist top design of the OXO water bottle means the straw disappears inside when the lid is closed creating an airtight seal.  There will be a few drips if the bottle is opened and shaken about as a little water from the last sip remains in the straw and even OXOs brilliant design can’t defy gravity! (as demonstrated by Luca below).  But I’d take a few drips over less effective designs any day.  Of course the clever design can’t account for user error so we have had leaks on the sofa or carpet when Luca has cast it aside unnoticed with the straw still out (he’s a wanderer afterall).  And I have had a leak in my bag when he helpfully posted the bottle into it upside down and I didn’t notice it was not shut properly.  To be really sure of no leaks you’ll want to take on responsibility of closure with smaller children.  Euan can be trusted to close it properly, Luca cannot and is not physically able to at under 2 years old.

3/  it’s easy to measure your fluid intake

This might sound obvious as it’s a see through bottle but it’s a really important feature for us.  At a glance Euan can see exactly how many fingers worth of water he’s drunk.   If I wanted to be really precise about how much he’s had from a full 300ml bottle there’s a measuring guage on the side.  Between losing his previous twist top bottle and receiving this new one Euan didn’t get on too well with staying hydrated at school.  He was taking in a plastic Lego water bottle which is opaque and every day it was coming home full.  At 6 years old he found it too hard to remember to drink from it when he didn’t have the visual prompt of seeing the water level inside the bottle.  It was such a relief when his replacement OXO bottle arrived!  When he has a cough or a cold I put cooled herbal tea in it as that also encourages him to pick up his bottle more when the drink inside is an interesting colour.  In the summer the nice wide opening at the top of the bottle means ice cubes can be added easily to keep drinks cooler.

4/ it has an easy grip handle for hands big or small

The bottle can hold 300ml so it’s not too heavy for children and is a nice clutchable size even for a toddler like Luca.  It’s easy to hook your finger through the carry handle on the top as shown by Euan running along after Luca in the video.  If you didn’t want to carry it by hand you can use a caribiner to clip it on to almost anything – a bag, on the buggy, through a coat button hole etc.
toddler holding OXO twist top water bottle on Selsley Common

5/ it’s strong, durable and made of BPA free plastic

Our bottle was unscathed by Luca’s ”kick, kick” experiment down the hill.  He’s heading towards 2 years old with throwing arms in full force and so far his bottle has shown no signs of distress being thrown down the stairs and launched down the slide at the park.  We’ve never know any OXO Tot products to break and unlike some other clear plastic items in our cupboard it doesn’t even look scratched or cloudy from daily use.
OXO Tot twist top water bottles on Selsley Common

Disclosure: I requested and was sent a replacement OXO Tot twist top water bottle to review.  I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

The OXO Tot twist top bottle is available to buy from the OXO website and costs £8

April 13, 2018 at 6:58 am 6 comments

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About Nip it in the bud


Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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Cheery uppy post sent with love is always good but especially heartwarming when you know someone has sat down with a pen and paper and given minutes of their time to create something for you
I've always quite liked the "family rules" meme boards but never found one that didn't elicit a "yes, yes, nooooo" from me when I read the list of rules. I was in the right place at the right time today when I saw this one and offered it a home with us.
Tea for three. We're eating cashews and wowing at how they are grown and shelled. Worth a Google if you've never really thought about it!
Regrann from @elluminations - . @musicalgeorgemoorey has released the next Spaces track Illuminations (or should that read Elluminations?!) based on the story of a 9th century monk and his cat Pangur Ban (a favourite childhood tale of mine). Here's the original artwork I made in response to the track. Greetings cards available in my etsy shop! #spacesgloucester #pangurban #monk #blackfriars #originalart #artistsofinstagram #etsy #etsysellersofglos - #regrann
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey. Me - piano. On Monday I'm releasing "Illuminations" - a song based on the story of Pangur Ban, a 9th century monk's cat - recorded @GlosBlackfriars. #spacesgloucester #lookcloserlistendeeper
The labyrinth at @gloucestercathedral
Regrann from @musicalgeorgemoorey - Stunning.
We visited @gloucestercathedral today and happened across the @workofheartgarden (click link to find out more). Claire created the garden after losing her husband Ken. You can download the pattern for a heart to donate and raise funds for @suerydercharity. We made a donation to buy two for the boys to hang while thinking of a loved one. Claire's had over 50k hearts sent to her - that's the power of love for you
This may be the best board game ever invented if you like the silliness of Dr Seuss stories! (Horton hears a who game!)
Luca in his happy place @sandfordparkslido - he just doesn't stop smiling when he's there and sings non-stop in the water. He is so super confident because even at just 2 years old he can stand unaided in the kids pool. So all we have to do is Bob about next to him pretending we're at a spa, perfect :0)
The Hawaiian goose whisperer @musicalgeorgemoorey (or as he said "not really, I've got a bag of seed") at @wwtslimbridge
Euan found treasure in the playground at @wwtslimbridge. Thank you Hannah , he loved rehiding them and secretly watching other children find them. #wwtslimbridge #gloucesterlife #loveontherocksuk

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