28 September 2011

Blackpool

Central Pier
I know Blackpool has earned a reputation for obnoxious hen parties & tacky seaside tat, but I have a soft spot for this mocked town. For me Blackpool is full of hidden gems. Where else in the country can you ride historically listed faire rides like the Steeple Chase, the Flying Machines, the Derby Racer & Alice in Wonderland? The historic North Pier let's you step back through time, and the Blackpool Illumination capture that childhood sense of wonder.

Blackpool
We're lucky, for us Blackpool is an easy dayout. Last weekend I was invited to tagged along with my in-laws to see the Illuminations. I was impressed with the new beach front and took some glorious photos from the Centre Pier. I love walking along the beach paths, the still horizon combined with the sound of incoming waves stills something in my heart.

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The only disappointment of the day was on the walk back. We started from the town centre and planned to walk past the tableues on our way back to the car. Half way through they closed the footpath around a new tram stop. Rather than direct us across the road we were detoured BEHIND the display! Once on the detour there was no way to return to the road. We missed many of our favourites like the Four Seasons, Five & Twenty Blackbirds, and the looping motorcycle.

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I understand that construction can't be helped, but surely they could have had us across the road so we'd still see the Illuminations. The current solution just leaves people angry and disappointed.
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25 September 2011

Step Down Sunday

Step Down Sunday
Every year hundreds of Quakers from around the country gather together for business and worship that leads our community forward; this event is called Britain Yearly Meeting.  Held at the end of July, this year's big topic was sustainability.  After the week long event, Yearly Meeting came to a bold conclusion:
We can no longer ignore the fact that our planet is finite. We have not only inherited the earth from our ancestors: we have borrowed it from our children and from their children.

With joy, our Yearly Meeting has made a commitment to becoming a low carbon sustainable community. The time to act is now.  We need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce. We are called to challenge the values of consumer capitalism. Between us we have already made changes with which we are comfortable: now is the time to make uncomfortable changes. Yet through transformative action we have much to gain: a simpler life can be a richer life.
I'm actually excited by this decision, as it's an opportunity to do what we know is right. But I can't say it's not scary, some of the numbers I've seen kicked around are calling for a 70% cut in our carbon emissions! That would be a drastic change in our lifestyle.  Plus many of the quick changes you can make to your life and your home have a significant cost we just can't afford.

My local Quaker meeting in Warrington has come up with a simple plan to help us achieve our goals.  We're calling the program Step Down. It's based off two Chinese Proverbs:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Chinese Proverb
It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness. - Chinese Proverb

So rather than be overwhelmed by the problem we face, we're starting with small steps. Everyday is filled with decisions that impact our environment, and if at each of those junctions we make even a slightly better choice over time we'll change our lives.

So I'm starting Step Down Sunday.  Each week I'll post a step we've taken to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  Big or small each is a commitment to our goal.

Step Down Button

I'd love to see you get involved and join us, but if not that's okay. This isn't about telling other people how to live, it's about giving people hope.  By changing our lives, maybe we can make it easier for others to change theirs.

22 September 2011

Guilty Pleasures

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When it comes to guilty pleasures, there is nothing more lovely than a Starbucks toffeenut soy latte. Unfortunately it's a seasonal product, so until I convince the world it's perpetually Christmas I'll have to make do with Vanilla instead. But really it's not the taste that makes me buy their outrageously priced coffee. I love coming into Starbucks with it's hum of activity and curling up in one of their comfy chairs. In a world where everything causes me to ache, it's the only place I can go and feel normal.

Today was definitely a day for guilty pleasures. It started early, we left the house at 7:00am just to get to my mystery hospital appointment at 9:00. The waiting room was covered in MacMillan Cancer posters, which didn't bode well. I was weighed and measured, gave yet another medical history...to find out nothing.The consultant wasn't in today. While cancer is only a slim possibility, the nurse couldn't really tell us what they were testing for. Instead she sent us for another Ultrasound, a needle biopsy and more blood work.

We sat in the Ultrasound department for two hours! By the time we were called I had tears streaming down my face from the pain in my joints. When I hobbled into the room I didn't even care that it was full of people. There were two people working the ultrasound, and two men slouching by a desk. It was only at the end that I discovered at least two of them were doctors. Apparently while I'd been waiting they'd been debating my treatment. They decided to check with the consultant (who wasn't in this morning) before performing the biopsy. Our two hour wait suddenly felt like a waste of time.

But we weren't finished yet! Next we had to dash to the phlebotomy department and join a queue of forty people! In all fairness, phlebotomy my be my favourite department in any hospital. They are always brilliant. They don't fuss about my needle phobia and they are quick, efficient and professional.

Finally after four hours we escaped and made a mad dash to my Optician appointment, which was booked weeks before this strange hospital appointment appeared.

The end result is we still don't know what's going on. There seems little cause to panic just yet, but my case is still being handled behind the scenes, by doctors I've never met, in a hospital that never has my notes, and where one hand never knows what the other is doing. It's hard to feel confident about the situation.

20 September 2011

Unexpected Phone Call

 
This wasn't the post I was planning for today, but I've just received a phone call that's set my world off kilter.

My next thyroid hospital appointment was set for October 3rd.  After my last test in early August I hoped they might act a bit quicker, but after a few weeks of silence I figured they weren't concerned by my results.

I just received a phone call from the Liverpool Royal's Linda McCartney Centre asking me to attend an appointment on Thursday morning.  I was surprised, as it was a different consultant and in a different department but nothing about my treatment has gone smoothly.  I didn't think much of it till I started looking for a hospital map.

The Linda McCartney building is the hospital's cancer centre.

Logically I know that there could be a hundred other reason for the appointment.  They may just want to check it isn't cancer.  It may be that all thyroid surgery is run through the cancer department as they are specialists. It maybe that this doctor is the most experienced thyroid consultant, and I've been referred because I'm awkward.

But I'm still a bit freaked out.

16 September 2011

Closing Down or Opening Up

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It's taken six days, but I finally have an answer: the Clomid hasn't worked this time.

12 September 2011

The Internet is Dangerous

So we’re entering the torturous final week of this cycle.  I’d been doing so well up till now, figuring it would work or it wouldn’t, there was no reason to obsess about it.  But Saturday & Sunday I had spotting, which immediately set me off.  I’ve often had spotting about four days before my period in the past, so it could be a sign that things haven’t worked.  However it was also 9 days after ovulation and a bit different than normal, so it could be implantation. 

I managed to ignore it for a while, but Sunday I also had a sore throat.  Mr.G made the fatal mistake of searching the internet to see if sore throats may be a sign of pregnancy.  There was an awful lot of anecdotal evidence, but that means pretty much nothing.  You can search the internet for virtually any symptom and be told you’re pregnant.  He also noticed people complaining about running noses too, which I’d been irritated by that evening.  (It felt like an allergic reaction to me, so I’d been trying to think of what I may have been exposed to that day.)  I finally told him about the spotting and checked the calendar to see how many days it had been since ovulation.  Of course after that I felt like I had stomach cramps, so by the end of the evening I was convinced it had worked.

I was so angry with myself; I know better than to get my hopes up.  Even with the Clomid, the odds for any one cycle had dropped significantly because I only have one fallopian tube now.  The chances it would work the very first time are slim, but I still woke up this morning convinced.  (Also doesn’t help that I feel completely drained too.)

As the morning has gone on I’ve been slowly coming to my senses.  Realistically I probably have a badly timed cold.  My sore throat is feeling better today, but the irritation has left me with a slight cough.  Though I can breathe clearly I suspect the problem is sloshing around in my sinuses, and the fatigue is just because I’m ill.  Those conveniently timed cramps, they were probably psychosomatic.

Now I just need to wait another four or five days to be sure. Until then I wonder how many more times I’ll go through this roller coaster process. 

4 September 2011

Manchester Baby Show

UPDATE 2012: While I feel the Baby Show should be a brilliant experience for new mothers, I can no longer endorse this event and I won't be attending in future. Unfortunately Clarion Events which organises the Baby Show also owns a portfolio of arms fairs - the largest of which is the DSEI (Defense & Security Expo International) held in London every other year.

Personally I don't buy weapons, so I can't boycott the DSEI arms faire itself, but I can boycott the Baby Show to express my disgust. It's also worth noting that many leading companies are now boycotting the Baby Show including the Royal College of Midwives, Bounty, Mumsnet & UNICEF which seems to have lead to concerns about the show's content - for more information try reading this article at the Huffington Post.
We are called to live 'in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars'. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God.
- Quaker Advices & Queries 31
For me, I've been uncomfortable with the blog post for a few months now. I feel it not only supports those seeds of war, but directly counters the efforts of my fellow Quakers protesting the DSEI Fairs. We each have to make our own choices, and I can no longer stand silent.

-Kate

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I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I volunteered to go the Manchester Baby Show for Emma’s Diary. I started to get really worried when I registered for the free tickets; they wanted to know if I was pregnant, the partner of someone pregnant, or the friend, mother, grandmother of someone pregnant. In the end I selected ‘Other (ex. Trade)’, but I wondered if this was really an event for me. Let me assure any other people still trying to get pregnant, the Baby Show is certainly worth a look.

Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I started planning for a baby years before we started trying. I knew having a baby would be difficult with my health problems, but the right equipment could make a real difference. The Baby Show is a brilliant opportunity to get expert advice and try products for yourself.

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Our first stop was the MAM stall as I’d pre-registered for a free self-sterilising anti-colic bottle. The MAM Bottle is a really clever product, perfect for while on the go. Rather than lug a big steriliser around with you, the bottle disassembles into a mini steamer.  Measure a bit of water in the lid and then pour it into the base. Place the teat in the base and loosely place the bottle body over the top. Then pop it into the microwave for 3 minutes, that’s it! In addition is has a silky silicone teat that hopefully makes switching between breast and bottle easier and there is a vented base that helps prevent colic. It looks like a great idea, though it will be a long time before we can try it out.

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The next stall to catch our attention belonged to Scottish company Planet Tots. They specialise in eco-friendly baby clothes and toys. We had a long chat about their lovely organic bamboo clothes, which have a lower carbon-foot print than organic cotton. They also had a lovely Oobicoo Doll made from recycled and recyclable materials. The gorgeous plush is the size of a six month old baby, so can be dressed in your old baby clothes. Rather than come in a cardboard box, each doll comes in a green fabric ‘pod’ so there’s no packaging waste either. Now that Quakers have decided we’re going to be a low-carbon community, Planet Tots is a company I’ll keep in mind.

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We finally got down to business at the ItsABaby.co.uk stall. They had a huge number of pushchairs and fantastic friendly assistants. A couple of years ago when I started looking at pushchairs only the Bugaboo Chameleon really fit our requirements. I needed a really tall handle to protect my back, it needed to be really light-weight, both parent and forward facing, and suitable from birth. My problem with the Bugaboo is that you seem to be paying extra to be fashionable. So I was hoping I’d find some pushchair alternatives at the Baby Show.  We were quickly referred to the UPPABaby Vista, which was brilliant! It’s an eco-friendly design that doesn’t feel significantly heavier and is virtually as tall. It comes with a both a carry cot and a seat, so you can quickly switch them back and forth and when the seat is facing forward you can collapse the chair in a beautiful smooth motion! The chassis can even stand up by itself, so I won’t need to bend over to pick it up. So many of the same benefits as the Bugaboo while not costing as much, the UPPAbaby Vista is just what I was looking for.

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My final highlight is the Babymule Baby Changing Bag.  I’m not great at carrying heavy bags, so I need something I can adapt day-to-day. The Babymule’s clever design means you can carry it in several ways. You can clip the bag to your pushchair, you can sling the bag over your shoulder like a messenger bag or you can wear it as a back pack. Specially designed for women, the backpack straps are shaped for a woman’s figure and there is even a hip belt to help carry the weight. When not in use the straps are tucked away in special pockets of the bag. Also included in the bag is a changing mat, a changing pouch, a neoprene insulating bottle cover and a water proof bag for dirty cloths and clothes. Even with all this there’s still room for a packed lunch and more. A versatile bag that’s great when travelling, the Babymule retails for £84.

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We were really impressed with the Manchester Baby Show, even my husband found enough to keep him interested. There were several stalls with innovative products and plenty of seating in Emma's Diary Cafe for when I got tired. If we’d been ready to buy on the day we could easily have made up the ticket price through the special Baby Show discounts. It was a definitely worth the trip out and I’d recommend it to anyone planning for a baby. If you’re sorry you missed out, don’t worry as there are another three shows planned: Earls Court 28-30 October 2011, Excel London 24-26 February 2012 and NEC Birmingham 18-20 May 2012.

*Received free show tickets from Emma’s Diary for review purposes*