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The area that I’m working in is very near to a designated Dark Sky area….and it lives up to its name. Its DARK at night. So dark that if I’m standing outside I can barely see my hand in front of my face.

Its super cool for a restful sleep (I like it pitch dark when I sleep), but it’s not super cool when you have to drive in this dark, which I had to do last night.

Just after my break yesterday I realised that my face was swelling up again; same place as last time. That pesky parotid gland again ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„ And remembering that I ended up in hospital for 3/4 days the last time because I ignored it, yesterday I went into a bit of a panic.

I still have 10 days of my assignment to complete and I cannot afford to lose that much money. Besides which the agency wouldn’t be able to find a replacement for a few days. So I immediately got onto Google and did a search, found a surgery, cajoled the receptionist to get me an appointment and to her absolute credit she booked me in immediately.

And thus it came about that I had to drive in what can only be described as a black hole. The only benefit is that on the obscured turns, you would see a cars lights for miles. But on unfamiliar roads, with nothing to show landmarks, it was a bit nerve-wracking.

However, I’m glad I did, because the doctor put me onto some kickass antibiotics and that seems to have held the infection at bay…for now. At least it hasn’t gotten worse. As for the dark sky, just maybe before I leave we could have at least one night of clear skies, I might just get to see the stars ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜‰ Do you think the universe might comply with my wish?!!

Meanwhile, the grey skies continue and the forecast is for much the same for the next week

Okay so this post is a bit out of date LOL. I really didn’t get to do much blogging once baby arrived. However, since I am no longer living at ‘home’ I’m working my way through my drafts and updating as I go…..so this particular evening dates back to 23.01.2019….10 months ago LOL…blimey talk about slow….anyhow

At Cadogan Hall for the ‘Evening with Levison Wood’ in aid of Tusk Org. Looking forward to hearing more about the adventures of @levison.wood #WalkingtheNileย &ย #Arabia – disappointing to discover that the books are presigned and there’s no ‘book signing’ at the event as such, as I understood it would be. ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ I brought both mine with. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ah well. Still, I’m sure the event will be interesting. (update: Mr Wood graciously agreed to sign my books after the event, which I thought was super cool) Actually its quite weird to be in #London again, haven’t been for what feels like ages. The last time I was at Cadogan Hall was for the Scarlet and Gold Military Band event a few years ago. Time just flies

A most enjoyable Evening with Levison Wood at Cadogan Hall listening to tales of derring do and adventure. Loved watching the snippets of film and hearing anecdotes of people and places while travelling around Arabia, as well as his work with Tusk. Its shocking how many beautiful animals are being slaughtered for the greed of a few. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’” After my initial disappointment apropos the book signing, after the show, I decided that I would ask once again if it was at all possible for Mr Wood to autograph my books… One of the Tusk ladies asked on my behalf and I’m delighted to say that he very graciously agreed to sign them for me, albeit a bit hush hush. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š I shall treasure these books and one day I will read them to my little cherub Jamie and hopefully awaken a sense of adventure and world travel in his soul.

walking the nile levison wood, books to read, book recommendations

such an interesting albeit scary book at times. a very good read

Travel travel travel… It really does change your perspective and perception of other people’s lives, values and beliefs. I wish more people could/would travel and adventure in other countries, I’m pretty certain the world would be a better place. Meanwhile, I’m back on Granny duty while Mummy and Daddy catch up on sleep, and as I write I have a wee baby boy cuddled up in my arms. I’ve been singing him a lullaby and he’s fast asleep. He’s already changing and I’m pretty sure he’s put on a bit of weight ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ergo my arm is getting tired from holding him up. I’ll have to do some weight lifting to keep up. ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’• Thanks again to @levison.woodย for a most enjoyable evening and for signing my books ๐Ÿ“š

Said goodbye to my Mountain Warehouse backpack tonight. I bought it nearly 2 years ago intending to use it for theย #Camino2017ย pilgrimage from Porto toย #SantiagodeCompostelaย but bought theย #Ospreyย Tempest instead, which was much lighter, and therefore never used this one. I tried to sell it since I paid nearly a day’s pay for it ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜ฏ but no success. I was going to donate it to a local charity shop but the thought of someone who could afford to pay a decent price for a backpack, buying it for next to nothing, I decided instead to donate it to Centrepoint, the homeless people’s charity. They assured me it will go to a person who would get the best use of it. I’m well happy with that ๐Ÿ˜Š I’ve sent it onto its next journey with god-speed and good-luck.

At 00:1038 on Saturday 19th January I uploaded an instagram post “HOORAH!!! ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ‘ Finally I can say #Peanutisonthewayโฃ๏ธย ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’™ We’ve just arrived at the hospital. My daughter has been having on-off contractions throughout the day and night before, but now they’re coming full on. Hold thumbs all goes well ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•”

Peanut is on the way

And so it came to pass, right on schedule at exactly 40 weeks from conception, in the wee hours on the morning of the 19th January 2019, prospective parents and ready packed suitcase in the car, we set off on what we hoped would be the real deal….the arrival of baby Jamie. We checked in at the QEQM and straight to the labour ward. All week we had been focusing on room 8 since that was the room with the birthing pool as well as which it was large enough to accommodate the 3 of us as well as my daughter’s Doula and the midwives.

lucky number 8

lucky number 8

On the way we contacted her Doula, Maisie, who lives in Deal and she arrived not long after we did.

After a quick check of all mother’s vitals, baby’s vitals and some monitoring they decided, after about 40 minutes that she wasn’t yet far enough along to stay in and suggested we go home, that she have a nice warm bath and come back later. Besides which the cramps/pains had subsided by then.

00:38 on the 19th – Maisie (Doula), Mummy and Daddy waiting for Peanut

Home we went….at about 4am 19th January. We prayed all the way that Room 8 would still be available when we returned. Fortunately home was then only a 10 minute drive away.

Less than 2 hours later I phoned the labour ward once again and advised them – I didn’t ask if it was ok this time…I TOLD them – we are on our way back!! When we arrived, they confirmed that yes, she was now in full-on labour, 5cms dilated with what we had correctly classified as proper contractions, coming thick and fast and PAINFUL!! Taking her breath away. How my heart ached for her.

Thankfully Room 8 was still available and we settled in for the long haul….this was it and finally I could say…..

PEANUT IS ON THE WAY hoorahhh!!!

We set up the room as best we could with the candles and lights she wanted….but frankly she was already so well advanced that she was only aware of it all in the periphery of her mind…..her Mama instincts were in full flow and she could only focus on one thing….breathing through the contractions. As she has said herself, if we had stayed in the first time around earlier that morning, she would probably have enjoyed setting up the room, getting into the pool earlier and just relaxing in that environment. But as it turned out, by the time all that happened, she was too far along to really enjoy it all.

In due course we asked if they would fill the birthing pool, since she was keen to have, if not an actual water birth, then at least her labour in the pool. As baby was breech, it wasn’t really conducive to or safe for a water birth. It was hard going by now as she was having very strong contractions and in a lot of pain. But with careful guidance and assistance from us all, we got her safely settled into the warm water. Her husband stripped down to his swim trunks and settled in beside her to offer support. Maisie and I hovered around and provided support between vitals being checked and by now, gas provided by the midwives….who I might add were amazing.

in the birthing pool

19/01/19 – 08:22 in the birthing pool – beautiful beyond compare

At some point the Consultant that had upset them both so much a week before by insisting that because baby was breech that she HAD to have a c-section, brought in the ‘big boss’; the head Consultant – despite their constant protests and saying that they wanted a natural birth as far as was possible, he insisted that it was God’s will.ย  How I restrained myself from slapping him for making such a stupid comment is beyond me. Seriously??? An induced c-section is NOT safer than a natural birth and mothers have delivered breech babies for centuries…my daughter was herself a breech baby (albeit eventually a c-section due to sudden complications). As far as the pregnant parents were concerned, they were in the right place if there was an absolute necessity to deliver by c-section.

By now my daughter was in a tremendous amount of pain and focusing only on the contractions and the imminent birth. This woman, who shall remain nameless, marched in like some Nazi surgeon and despite the position my daughter was in, bent down at the side of the pool and insisted that she, my daughter, tell her all the dangers of proceeding with a breech birth. Wtaf???? At which point my son-in-law absolutely lost it…..he rose up out the water like some sort of underwater god, water streaming off his body, and with his hand pointing in her direction, told her to “fuck off out of here right now”. LOL If you knew my son-in-law you’d know that that was so totally out of character as to be like chalk and cheese. He doesn’t ever swear. Long story short…..the two consultants left pretty pronto.

Meanwhile the contractions were now becoming so powerful and so painful that my daughter could no longer keep herself upright and we were becoming fearful she may slip under the water. She struggled to stand and was so weak that she could barely lift her head never mind stand up to get out the pool. So, as she recalls, I put on my Mother voice and with all the Mama power I could muster, I spoke right into her ear and pretty much commanded her to “get up and get out the pool”. Which gave her the strength to actually get up.

From there on things got hazy and crazy with the pain escalating and the midwives in and out. Trying all sorts of different positions that were really not at all ideal, they eventually brought her a birthing stool and finally she was in a comfortable enough position to give birth. It didn’t take long before we saw baby’s wee bottom appear and as he slowly made his was into the world we all did our best to comfort and ease Mummy’s pain. We took turns to hold her hand, mop her brow with a cold cloth, rub her back and shoulders while the midwives provided the gas and medical advice. So far, so good.

Suddenly his legs popped out and then his wee body and arms and shoulders…..very nearly there.ย  A breech birth is really difficult to witness and frankly I was terrified…..but I kept my wits about me and kept taking photos and videos so they could have a record of the birth. They had the absolute best midwife in attendance that you could ever wish for in this world. Although this was her first breech delivery, she was calm and collected and reassuring, offering guidance and a commentary of where he was and how he was progressing. Suddenly and apparently not ideally, his body went white as he prematurely drew breath…but his head was not yet born and now she had seconds to get him out. With the Granny on the sidelines shouting “don’t pull him” she gently slipped her fingers into the birth canal hooked her fingertips above his cheek bones and with a deft sideways twist she slipped his head out. 12:45 on the 19th January 2019 our beloved baby boy was born.

But, now he wasn’t breathing, so she rubbed him down vigorously and gave him a solid thumping. My heart stopped LOL I’d never seen a baby being thumped like that…and you know how fragile we ‘think’ they are. She quickly passed baby over to the midwife on standby who rushed out the room to put him on a ventilator, and returned less than a minute later with baby Jamie lustily yelling… “Hello world, I’m born!!”. Hurrah, he had breathed on his own. What a CHAMPION!!!

Mummy, Jamie and Daddy

19.01.19 at 12:46 Mummy, Jamie and Daddy

It was crazy after that. We were all crying, the midwives were checking vitals, my daughter went into meltdown, and Daddy was sobbing. She simply couldn’t handle all the emotion and was still struggling to deliver the afterbirth and just couldn’t hold the baby, so instead I gave baby Jamie, all 7 lbs of gorgeous newborn to Daddy for some precious skin to skin. To our amusement and Daddy’s intense embarrassment, baby immediately tried to latch onto his nipple hahaha

skin to skin with daddy

19.01.19 13:02 precious skin to skin time with Daddy

We attended to Mummy and got her settled, wrapped up in a towel and then she was able to hold her precious son. It was such an amazing experience and I am so joyful and grateful that I was there to support them, provide reassurance, my boobs to rest on (for Mummy’s head during contractions), and witness the final stages of Jamie’s incredible journey into this world.

Mummy, Daddy, Granny and Jamie

19.01.19 Mummy, Daddy, Granny and Jamie

My precious daughter is now mother to a beautiful precious little boy….and I am finally a Granny ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I’ve been trepanned

As mentioned in an earlier post, since logging off both twitter and facebook I needed something to read in the mornings before work, so I gravitated back to workpress. I also realised that except for the post on toilet paper in June, and barring the odd repost or quick article prior to that, I hadn’t blogged for over 3 months and most particularly since my grandson was born. My posting activity compared to previous years looks quite scarce.

I have over 100 drafts waiting to be posted, 90% of which are about my delicious grandson and his journey since he was born. I cheated a wee bit and used my (daily) instagram posts as the basis for the drafts, but somehow I just haven’t had the time to actually flesh them out, checking for spelling and grammar (my bugbears), add images and actually get as far as posting them.

But now that I am no longer living at what used to be my home, and since I am working more (to save on accommodation costs), I have more time to blog….and I’m making up for lost time ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, whilst reading the next article on the fantastic blog I discovered under the tag ‘Saxons’ : ‘the traveller’s path” I came across the word ‘trepanned’ on her post ‘Bald’s Leechbook: The Doctor is in‘ – and the word literally jumped off the page at me and I had an epiphany…..I too had been trepanned. LOL

When I was about 15 months of age my mother fell down a flight of stairs with me which resulted in a damaged head and a brain bleed. So the surgeons drilled 3 holes into my skull; 2 on the right hand side of my head and 1 on the left in order to flush out pooled blood and bone fragments. This left 3 small indentations in my head that make for a good story today (and over the decades ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and I get perverse pleasure out of making people feel the bigger hole in my head. They’re usually very squeamish about touching it, but I insist….. hahaha!!

What was weird to me is that I have told that story many times over the years, and I’ve read the word ‘trepanned’ many times whilst reading various books, but I have never associated the word with what had been done to my head. Till today! So there it is, I too have been trepanned. I am however rather glad it was done in the 20th century and not the 8th 9th or 10th, since I think the survival rates of the patients were not as high then as they are today….although to be fair, as the author mentions in her article, many people did survive and this is known due to the fact that when ancient skeletons are dug up at various archaelogical digs, they sometimes find skulls with holes that show signs of having healed. Of course some of said holes are acquired during battles fought and possibly won, but some are of a shape and size to indicate trepanation. Fascinating.

To conclude the story about my trepanned head, the fall down said stairs was as a result of my Mother wearing stiletto heels. One of the heels got stuck in a groove and resulted in the fall. From what I understand my Mother lost a baby as a result of the fall and I had to learn to walk again and ended up wearing support boots for many years. There’s one photograph in particular that I can visualise as I write, and that is one of me at the top of a slide, wearing a little embroidered dress and pair of solid brown leather boots that reached halfway up my tiny little legs, securely buckled. My Mother is standing at the bottom of the stairs and still wearing heels. Interestingly (to me anyway), I don’t recall my Mother ever saying whether or not she suffered any damage to her body beyond the trauma of losing the baby, which apparently was a boy.

Courtesy of wikipediaTrepanning, also known as trepanation, trephination, trephining or making a burr hole (the verb trepan derives from Old French from Medieval Latin trepanum from Greek trypanon, literally “borer, auger”) is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater, to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases or release pressured blood buildup from an injury.

And in case I haven’t whetted your appetite to find out more, or induced shudders of repulsion, here is a nice shudder inducing graphic image to get you going LOL Hopefully I was unconscious when the surgeon drilled the hole in my head!!!

painting by Hieronymus Bosch depicting trepanation (c.1488โ€“1516). courtesy of wikipedia

Painted Ladies

I was watching The One Show on BBC1 a couple of nights ago and they featured a small snippet about the Painted Ladies; our favourite butterfly.

Their arrival in the UK is awaited each year with much anticipation and there is much competition between butterfly lovers as to who will see the first one and where!

a painted lady – borrowed from the butterfly conservation website credited to Iain H Leach

I remember some years ago, quite some years ago, I was working in Suffolk, right next to a farmers field surrounded by hedgerows and trees.

It was Painted Lady season and to my delight it was one of the best years for their numbers and one day, seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly there were thousands of these exquisitely ethereal creatures alighting on every branch, along every hedge and flowers everywhere. A plethora of fantasy as far as the eye could see.

The interesting thing about these butterflies is of course that they are a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland. Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, recolonising mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland.

Now, in my ignorance I assumed (mistakenly) that it was the same individual butterfly that started it’s migration, flying hundreds, if not thousands of miles across land and sea and then arrived here, to our delight.

But no. Apparently the butterfly that lands on our hedges and flowers and trees is in fact the 6th generation…..well, now that is to quote; ‘gob-smacking’. LOL I have learned much since arriving across thousands of miles across land and sea myself ๐Ÿ˜‰ although I flew via SA Airways.

It seems that the first butterfly flies as far as it’s going to fly, it then lays it’s eggs and eventually dies, the next butterfly eventually emerges and sets off, the pattern is repeated and in due course (up to) the 6th generation is what we see here, and they are seen as far as northern Scotland, albeit the majority alight in England.

I was amazed. It’s one of those little snippets of information that is so incredible and previously so unknown that it sticks forever in your memory.

For more information about the Painted Lady (always reminds me of Geishas when I read that term) visit the Butterfly Conservation website

the traveller’s path

Since I logged off Twitter (3 months ago) and Facebook (last month) I’ve had time to do some proper reading (as opposed to scrolling) and have rediscovered the joys of WordPress. Whilst searching for interesting blogs to read, I followed the tag ‘Saxons’ and came across this blog, a blog that has turned out to be absolutely fascinating.

The writer transports you back in history to the time of the Saxons with just enough information to keep you interested, written in an easy to read format, you’re left intrigued and wanting to learn more.

After reading about the Mercian king; Penda, I’ve gone right back to the beginning of 2017 and am making my way through history.

The history of England and the UK is nothing if not varied and the allegiances are like the tides that surround our fair isle, they flow back and forth, with waves that violently crash or lap gently on the shore, with whirlpools and hidden depths to trap the unwary.

The problem with the history of this country is that learning one piece of history leaves you wanting more, and I am never satisfied. One of my favourite TV programmes is of course Time Team with Coast a very close second. I can watch them over and over.

http://lasmithwriter.comย  ย Reading this blog is like following a treasure hunt, with links to fascinating people, places and events. I’ve seen many references to places and people I already know, with titles waiting to draw me in. Cuthbert in particular since I’m planning to walk St Cuthbert’s Way in the near future. As well as which there’s a post about my favourite king; Alfred the Great and Winchester. Winchester was the 2nd city I visited after London in 2002 shortly after arriving in England proper. It’s still my 2nd favourite, after London LOL, and I’ve been back many times.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of reading to do ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š but it is all so very interesting…..

If like me, you enjoy the history of the Dark Ages (seriously? Its probably one of the most fascinating periods) and in particular Saxon history, then do yourself a favour and click on the link above, I’m sure you will enjoy her posts.

The Dark Ages according to Britannica.com : Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages, the early medieval period of western European historyโ€”specifically, the time (476โ€“800 CE) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West or, more generally, the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life.ย 

The Middle Ages, or medieval time, is generally believed to have started with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 and to have lasted about 1,000 years until about 1450. The beginning of the Middle Ages is called the Dark Ages because the great civilizations of Rome and Greece had been conquered. Ref https://westernreservepublicmedia.org/middleages/big_intro.htm

Personally I find this to be one of the most intriguing and fascinating periods of history and if the Sutton Hoo treasures and various similar treasure troves discovered over the years are anything to go by, then dark it was not…….

Happy reading.

the saxon monastery

UK Elections 2019

So the UK elections are in full swing and once again we are subjected to loads of promises about how the relevant party will spend our hard earned taxes…..

My question is this: does anyone actually believe anything they say?

Considering past history and how very quickly they change their tune and how often their memory fails after they get into power….is there any use believing one single campaign promise? Of any party?

And since this is being touted as the ‘Brexit’ election….Let’s remember, if you will, just how many lies Boris Johnson told in order to get himself into the position of Prime Minister (and still does). Does anyone in this country still believe any electioneering promises he makes?

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