Saturday, 28 September 2013

Iiiiit's harvest time!

We watched a documentary on food in America. I was lured in by Jeff Bridges but enamoured with the details within this programme. Over 50 million hungry Americans. An abundance of desert areas - places where you can't buy fruit or vegetables without getting on two buses. The fact that since the 80s, fruit and vegetable prices have soared 40% in price, whereas the high calorie aka junk food, has decreased in price by the same equivalent. Obesity and hunger walk side by side and are far more interlinked than you might expect. The fact is, fruit and vegetables are costly - they are not subsidised, small farms don't bring the advantages to the Government that the large global companies do. Money. Greed.

Ironically, in the 70s hunger was nearly eliminated in America - then CORN happened (thanks to Nixon and Earl Butz, an academic). Enormous and addictively 'good' chips, burgers, fries and pop thanks to astonishingly large corn crops, invested in by the Government. For America, corn meant money, money, money. Then high fructose corn syrup was added to the mix and pumped into every food, from pizzas, to coleslaw and meat. HFCS provides that 'just baked' sheen we see as so American, sweetening everything and extending its shelf life to years. Now all that cheap bad food has made people fat, unhealthy and hungry. The cost of greed.. 50 million people. I know, I've said it before and I'll say it again, FIFTY million people.

For such a 'powerful', 'influential' and 'developed' country, how can this figure be so high? Cuts. Greed. Cuts. Greed. Funding for food (stamps and schools) is down, as is the price of trashy food - down. Feed your people trash by not providing enough money for them to buy healthily - and let's not forget the interest the Government has in the sugar world - have more money in the piggy bank. 'The problem is not food shortage, but poverty,' says the doc. People with morals - why would you feed people trash and make them sick? Why would you feed kids for $1 a day at school and subsequently feed them orange, chemically filled food that gives them poor concentration and a terrible attitude to nutrition that will stay with them forever, possibly causing health problems in their future which will not be helped by a lack of insurance to pay for their required healthcare - because their development may have been hindered in class (studies have proven the importance of nutrition in early life for physical and mental development) and insurance is expensive? Where is the CARE? How can such a country be in this position?

On a personal note, it makes me feel very lucky to be in a position to buy the nutritional food we need to be healthy. However, I know that we live in a bubble. I know that many families are unable to get by and struggle to buy food, relying on food banks. The cost of living is so enormous, wages have frozen and it must be impossible to prioritise the necessities. We, as a couple, complain that we are unable to save very much, that we coast along because our rent is enormous, as are our bills - of course we will have less when the baby is here - but we can afford good food. We will teach the kid all about nutrition and looking after yourself. To enjoy the beauty of good food.

It makes me really sad that so many Americans are not able to do this - as well as those in the UK. Food is so basic, we should be able to provide it - as a country. We have a surplus of it! It's so essential. Just imagine going to school and trying to concentrate as a child with a growling belly, then coming home to only junk food for tea. Awful, tiring and miserable. Even not having breakfast sets me back, it's imperative to a productive day, while living off sugar can only ultimately get you down.

I'm not sure what to do, the situation we all know so well - it surrounds us (vending machines and corner shops filled with confectionary, deals on sweet everything). But I know that healthy food should not be a luxury and if we can make little steps here, growing food in our gardens for example and delivering the extra produce to food banks - that's moving in a good direction. As is educating people on nutrition so they can shun the trash. There are ways to solve this, surely?

Sugar giants and the greedy Governments though, are another story.


Friday, 27 September 2013


a family getting it right

I'm still here, waiting for this baby to decide now is the time. It almost seems not real now, the past 12 days have been so incredibly long. The good news is that I have banned Dr Google from my life, he has been culled. Since he suggested that it's because I have unresolved issues that my baby is not coming remotely on time. Who would say a thing like that? Am I supposed to smash in some therapy for these issues and old cervix, old chap, will open up like a flower? Not my analogy. I think not. I have already had a massage and acupuncture (therapy) and he tiger will tell you I'm not one to keep my issues in. And don't we all have issues anyway?

Are you 'supposed' to not only be married, with a purchased home, cash in the bank, a sizeable car and a Stocke pushchair - drowning in Weleda (actually very nice) - but you're also to have all issues unresolved in your life so help you, you are now perfect? Well, we have none of these things. NONE. Does this supposed cavern of emptiness in our lives mean that I have to wait for my baby to arrive? That I will not be the perfect parent? Well, the latter - yes, I know I will not be the perfect parent. But regardless of on time baby, what a frikkin ridiculous world pushing material, financial and psychological 'assets' upon us all. the. time.

However, I CAN see that being relaxed is a good thing. (I AM!)

I will try my best and I will teach the kid everything I can and hope to inspire it to be an adventurer, an explorer, ambitious and a person that doesn't worry about 'should' and want as a prerequisite for happiness.

Simple is good. We are lucky. We are alive. Google is not alive.

Tomorrow I will be talking about nutrition.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

the details

Book circa 2004 - Classy.

I used to keep tat safe. I really did. A pebble? Yes, thanks. An old sparkler from that time we twirled sparklers on the roof with the sea as our background? Go on then. How about an empty sweet packet from the 247 shop purchased while travelling? Yes, please I was pretty much addicted to them. And an autograph from that surfer, Taj? Err, yeh! That cute email? Definitely.

Let's keep it in a notebook that has swelled to such a degree due to its glued in contents, it's exploding, shall we? And a box. A memory box is a good idea. Sellotape round it to secure it and reinforce it, that's right. It's nice to keep these things, isn't it? All the senses triggered through the words and images gaffer taped together.

I consider writing an extension of this, that's why I write a blog. So why do I prefer only people I don't really know so well to be reading this? I guess I have always been pretty private in lots of ways. But depending on who. I know that I love to have those conversations, when you launch straight in with the non-chit chat. Let's get the wine and crank up Bill C. That's what I thought was brilliant about travel - the ones that don't ask what/where/when to brand you up, but swoop in for the jugular. That's the way. I guess this blog is like my mini launching in for the jugular. Not that I write everything here, but it's the bit of me that's always been whimsical. The bit that is private and was my escape growing up and still now.

So essentially, perhaps I should write this in a notebook instead of on the world wide web. Letting this part of myself be open to all doesn't work, but then it's strange that through my writing you can find my - I guess, true self and that frankly, I don't want everyone to know/have/see this. Not just writing about myself (you cackle), but the way I see things. Whether it's on a boat in Thailand (nice holiday), or the way that it's difficult to be crafty in a craft world. Being obsessed with the sea. It's kind of sacred, like the sparkler and the pebble. Blogs are just really odd creations. Though I like the F.R.I.E.N.D.S set up, I guess all this is why I also consider myself a 'frequent flyer'  - ooph, let's just peruse some flights to Cali. Let's go somewhere where no one knows your name.

Regarding the tat - truth be told, I still keep tat. But less so now. It's all in the details though, right? I like to remember the details.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Well there's nothing like waiting around. As much as I assumed the baby would probably be overdue, I thought walking up and down city dale, would instigate a slightly on time baby. Not a very late baby, as is the sitch - where's your watch, rabbit?

I've just come back from the hospital for some monitoring and delightful procedures. The baby fell asleep as I lay on the light blue reclining bed with monitors strapped all over the bump - the laziness of this baby.  So as I lay there, listening to the process of induction I slowly destroyed a melting Snickers bar to encourage lazy to wake up. 'He' likes Snickers turns out and thumped me hard when the chocolate hit the belly, heart rate soaring with excitement.

A couple came in with the same long passed due date as us. She was having contractions however, thick and fast. As I relaxed, polishing off my Snickers, I said to the baby I want that right there. You need your birthday, kid. Turned out with the arrival and general activity, 30 minutes of baby monitoring went quite fast. I didn't need the Hello! magazine he had delivered to me from the waiting room.

The whole process of being overdue is not that great. Most of the time, I've been OK, but sometimes it's enormously emotional. Wondering, waiting, walking... constantly replying to people asking if the baby has arrived yet. 'Ah, I thought your due date was...' Reply: 'It doesn't work like that, I will tell you when it's here. Smiley happy face.' *Read: RAGHH*. It's lovely that people care, but irrationality is a beast and it's hard not to feel like an anti-climax, like you're failing in some way. Disclaimer: I KNOW this is ridiculous.

With those who are still pregnant, I have tried to be upbeat as much as possible. 'Overdue isn't too bad, just going with the flow, it's all good.' I've just eaten four pineapples, drank two litres of raspberry leaf tea, walked five miles, bounced on my birth ball for the duration of Mad Men series six, had some uncomfortable time with the midwife and soon I am about to get punctured by mini needles in an acupuncture session.

Oh! I said, irrationality and overly emotional is part of this! But actually, it's not bad - I'm filling my days with nice things too, lots of baking, walking in the autumn sunshine, drinking tea, sitting in coffee shops, watching films, reading... the only less favourable/DOMINATING bit is being in limbo. Breathe and relax.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

baby style

The idea of dressing the baby is something that makes me happy. Babies are cute, right? Especially in snowsuits – it hasn't gone unnoticed that the baby will be a winter baby and thus suitable for knitwear and sheepskin garms. Although he and I are summer lovers, knitwear has to be acknowledged as one of the best things created for you and I - and baby - to wear. 

I especially love Tootsa Macginty's knitwear collection and was lucky enough to receive their little aran knit for the baby at my baby shower. It's frankly, amazing. I also love this little knit, above. (No, I can't stop saying little). I would quite like to list all the (many) independent designers I would like to purchase from, but I will save that for now. They are too tempting as I wait for the baby diva to arrive.

In terms of gender specific outfits, obviously it could be a boy or a girl and more to the point I prefer the neutral and so have gone for plain sleepsuits with cute sheepskin booties. That's not to say that I won't (probably will) dress the bebe a bit like he or I when we find out. It's our 'style', right? Just. Can't. Help. It. One thing's for sure, lots of knitwear, dungarees and mini plaid - regardless of girl/boy - this kid's going to be an explorer!

If it's a girl... this! (Karen Walker sunnies, though maybe not the actual KW's) Of course, they will love this.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Wrote this at five weeks

Log 1: Waiting
I thought I would publish this. I wrote it when it was thundering down with snow in January and I was just five weeks pregnant. I could tell no one, it was the best secret in the world. I'd known for barely over a week. Now here I am at nine months, a spring and a summer passed. 

I’m sitting here and I’ve nearly eaten the whole of my snack before writing a single word. Cucumber and humous. I’m trying, with a glint in the eye and a gently charging horse, to fill my body with goodness. As well as the copious chocolate, cravings for biscuits and cakes, there must be balance. This consciousness, has in turn led to some form of mild paranoia. I am concerned that I just bleached the bath and then had a bath. I can’t remember how thoroughly I rinsed the damn bath before I jumped in it. Who does that? I have also had to change the cat litter because he is on his home island, having sailed there in a 20 hour ordeal. I’m not supposed to do this. The only person I can ask is Dr *fear into your bones* Google, with his overzealous search engine of doom.

Do I sound annoyed? I’m not. In fact, I think I am probably happier than I have ever been.

I’ve had a weekend of thorough relaxation. I mean this in the way that I have done absolutely nothing. I am of course, blaming the snow dropping heavily and rendering the pavements unpassable. It’s like some kind of Western film out there. The way everyone is walking with caution, knees bent, legs apart. Apart from maybe friendlier, as unusual events make a person speak to their neighbour.

I chose to spend this weekend alone. I am possibly the biggest fan of alone time. I need the space to grasp my spirit again. I mean that quite literally too. Time alone, thinking of everything, then nothing, putting everything in its place, then thinking of the present and what I have and what utter thrills the future could bring. It’s like a magical feeling that spins around in my belly for a while, before releasing in a big joyful explosion. And even if I begin this time within melancholy’s grasp, the outcome after solitary time is always this life shuddering great big wink from my internal spirit, chugging away in there. And I thank it, because it’s what makes me who I am and I’ve learnt it’s probably a lot easier to like myself than not.

So, the reason why I am being a wannabe health freak and am ardently reading certain blogs, weeping into my iPad’s screen. Baby. That’s correct, a real life baby is sitting in my tummy and listening to the music I am playing, hearing me chat inanely to my cats and eating all that Cadbury’s with me. And cucumber of course. Here we both are, waiting patiently for the next seven weeks to pass by asquicklyasispossible.

I know, C knows, one of my friends accidentally guessed - girl can read my eyes, but no one else knows. Oh and two of the Drs know, because last week I had a scare. Awful. Another reason why I need the next seven weeks to go by fast. And I shouldn’t sit in bleach. I guess when the scare happened, I started to see this baby as a baby. My baby. Our baby.  Baby. Oops, meets overwhelming elation, meets fear, meets vomit.

In terms of being pregnant, symptoms include:-
-  Twinges in the baby area, guess my womb is rearranging the furniture for the long term, full time guest.
-  Sitting having a brooding chai tea latte today, I had the sudden feeling that I am going to vomit when an all in black faux glasses vixen next to me got delivered poached eggs. The horror.
-  Having to turn music down to be able to smell and see as whole heartedly as I believe I can, with my new sense superpowers.
-  Becoming thoroughly obsessed with TV shows I used to think were utter crap... and normally snivelling my way through the ‘acts of kindness’.
-  I literally want chocolate all the time, with no moments not desiring its ‘goodness’ (unless there are eggs around... even then, at a push I could).
-  FATTENING up. I am sure I am already.
-  Weird looking at all food (apart from chocolate) like it’s the most vile thing. Even at the silly little fancy looking Waitrose mini lunches I used to adore. I normally have to wait until 2pm and then I could devour an entire chocolate factory fruit and veg store.
-  Worry. I now worry more than I thought possible. I am worried and am trying to stop worrying. I am sending this baby... It's the 12 weeks thing.
-  Beautiful vibes.

When I found out:

He had just confirmed a new job and we’d booked a meal out a while ago, after receiving a voucher from a good friend for our birthdays. I’d taken a quick test before he had come home and saw nothing so (weirdly) popped it in a bag and forgot about it. Just about to get ready, mid gin, I looked at the stick again. Two lines. “Errr” - you can imagine the rest. Another test. Then another test, digital this time - expensive, but needed to see the actual word. It was confirmed. I was in shock, could barely eat a thing. Ecstatic little jumps from the spirit and me. So very excited.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

shake 'n shack

Oh my goodness, when you go to America you get some seriously top rate bad/good foods. I like how there is no class divide when it comes to the stuff everyone sort of, definitely wants in the US. In NYC, you'll find all varieties of cafe rammed with everyone and your neighbour's cat. Pish to the over the top pretentiousness that can permeate every chopping serving board, sometimes it's all about getting down with the thick shakes and the burgers and fries. 

I do not care sometimes about my *ahem veg box principles and I have to embrace. And in NYC, you can still get happy meat in your burger and organic gherkins and things, just as per usual. Same as the UK, no? Basically, this is a round about way of stating that they have SHAKE SHAKE and everything in SHAKE SHACK is efficient and clean and frikkin delicious. Everyone pops along there, whether for a lunch stop, or strolling home through the bright lights and awe-inspiring vertical builds at night. 

I am desperate for a SHAKE SHACK right now. The kid clearly likes this food, it is very demanding of me and has put in a very precise request. I know there is one in Covent Garden now (JOY) and I would genuinely get on a train and go fetch one right now if I wasn't carrying a bowling ball and small knives in my back. 

I will console myself with cleaning. But I really want to dip chips in a concrete custard shake.

That's who I am right now!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Please use black ink to fill in the boxes

Photograph by Norman Parkinson - a creative photographing a creative

I've been thinking about creativity as a commodity. I think that everyone has creativity in them, but it can so easily be quashed with the pressures of conformity and the 'right' and 'wrong's setting us straight. But surely, straight is everything that we should be avoiding to be creative? Is something that has been churned out a million times before - I'm not talking about an inspiration, I'm talking about a structure, a thought process, a new way of seeing something - really enough the set the goosebumps on fire and the stomach churning with the elation of creating something new.

Children hold exactly that when they go about their creating. God, I used to absolutely love making things when I was a kid. When asked what I wanted to do day to day, my answer would always, always be 'make something'. I wanted to use my imagination to look and learn about something and then put my mark on it. My own little take. And boy did my heart and mind soar when I was creating. I had absolutely no fear at six years old, no fear of being wrong. Of people furrowing their brow or questioning my motives behind my creations. Either alone in my own little world or with friends or family, I'd make cakes, patterns, dens, go-carts, models, sheer off Barbie's hair and sew her culottes and a waistcoat, read books and eat peas in the field next door, ride my bike to Texas (because the fields looked like I thought Texas might), wrote to my pen pal, made up dances, sang and wrote and bound mini books and letters.

I am positive that allowing for and nurturing a style, being creative and enjoying creativity, allows for all round personal development. A confidence that makes the passing of exam papers seem more than inadequate for predicting, or at least aiding, our career choices. We are boxed from a young age and education seems to be heading for more boxing starting younger and younger. I remember my SATs when I was at Primary School. I could feel the pressure, but I wasn't interested in these tests, I wanted to write stories and understand the world. I had no idea how to revise. I remember that I didn't do as well as expected. I was bright, I should have done better. With the results, I had a feeling that I was not intelligent, not clever, not able. But yet I finished tasks ahead of time, enjoyed them and was a diligent student. So, why the disappointing test results? The D word. 'You're creative, darling'.

I feel like I've never shaken this sense overhanging me, that I don't fit the boxes correctly and I should do if I want to succeed. I'll never have success, a longed for house and a feeling that yes, I am clever. But this is total bull. What the hell? I make things everyday. I've achieved great things and I'm going to tell my kid that they are creative AND intelligent, as we take every day as an adventure. Not even necessarily out and about, but just hanging out - creating stories, designing things and having fun with science, geography, literature and maths.

But, as far as creativity as a commodity, this annoys me. While you can try and deliver your enthusiasm and understanding of something, you can't capture creativity or copy it and it's sad when your own style of creativity just isn't in vogue, so it's negated. Look how many people are 'suddenly creative' thanks to the make, do and mend revolution. Where did that come from? Was it hiding in the ready meals of the 90s? What about growing vegetables? That's pretty creative and teaches you about maths and science - why did the grannies and grandpas do this, but mum and dad didn't? Not to mention the entrepreneurs, incredibly creative. Where did this business come from? Eh?

Is it because everyone's massively fed up with the Government, the boom is over, bringing with it wild financial issues, dissatisfaction... lack? To simplify. With this change and new creativity out to be purchased on the shelves, there's a different need for individuality, not just owning something coveted, but maybe putting our mark on it too. Or finding something somewhere you'd never expect. Granny's attic has never looked so good. We were in danger of becoming homogenous before weren't we? Are we now? Or are we just looking for and pining for originality to fill our Instagram feed?

My argument is, all this creativity, pumping through us has always been there. We are humans, who can learn more than box ticking skills. The aforementioned creative boom should go way beyond a trend. These gardening, cooking, discovering and building skills are skills for life, skills to hold and cherish, with a value that surely rivals a 90% pass in another exam. Arguably, the exam results can set you up for life and get you 'where you want to be', but equally what if you don't know and you find yourself excelling at something you have only tried once? What about dance, theatre, carpentry and horticulture? Or even just knowing that there's something beyond law, medicine, English and engineering? More beyond the boxes. If you want to Make It, it's really not about competing with someone else's life. Or even your own.

My absolutely main point is that the tight and tested curriculum needs to be changed in schools. Kids need to know more about nutrition, understanding their neighbours, politics that's relevant to them NOW, law, businesses and trade (local and global) and there should be time set aside for own projects. Where a student can pursue an understanding of a path that they may want to try out, perhaps they could meet some interesting people, expand their horizons and do something that allows their hearts and minds to flourish. Outside of that home/school/social bubble, it's time for them. Surely through just having a meander outside of these oh so importnat boxes and being allowed to expel some energy and be guided in doing so, the kids will benefit. All 'types' of kid. There's so much more to life than fitting neatly into a money churning world.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

so he did...

Last time I was on here, I was desperate for someone to cry, 'Halt! You may stop what you are doing, sit back, stop that whirring mind and rest. I'd just climbed an enormous hill after getting stuck in 30 degree heat right in the middle of town. Tiger man had called mid hill and I essentially just bawled down the phone to him. I was hungry, exhausted and emotional.

'Pack your bags,' he said. We're going away for the night. See you at 6pm. Be ready!'

Just a few hours after the hill of pain, I was sitting outside a quintessentially English pub, hills surrounding, light stone buildings solid with history, a tiny glass of (good) red wine, morris dancers dancing a jingly little fandango before me and lavender scenting the air.

The next morning I awoke at 7am and had the longest soak in the deepest bath before anyone had stirred. I breathed deeply. I did some thinking. And then I just stopped. Stopped all the worry, the anguish and teeny tiny flinches of stress building up and weighing me down.

One night felt like weeks.