Monday, 26 April 2010

Things You May Not Know About Me

Hari at Thank you for the days has tagged me with 'I bet you didn't know..'. I need to write a list of things you may not know about me. OK, brace yourselves. Here goes...

1. I once jumped 10,000 feet out of a perfectly good Cessna with a fifteen stone man strapped to my back

2. One of the things I'm most proud of is that I started my own free festival, Come Together, in my beloved home town of Henley-on-Thames. People said it couldn't be done, so I did it with no prior experience and no cash - just a vision of providing 'fun for free' for all the different types of people in the area (rich, poor, young, old) and a willing bunch of friends who helped get it off the ground.

It ran for 5 years as a self-funded event, we didn't make any money from it (purposely) and attracted thousands of revellers - one year I even spotted
Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in the crowd.

3. I appeared on Blockbusters aged seventeen. I wore my Slayer T-shirt (thrash metal band) and had my nose pierced and my hair was dyed black. I was paired with another girl from my school who wore a jumper with a picture of a sheep on it. I would dearly love to still own a copy of that show. We must have looked a picture ;-)

4. I once saved a little boy's life. I was eight years old and noticed the boy walking down steps into a pool. I looked for his parents as I had a funny feeling that something bad was going to happen. They were canoodling in the shallow end nearby but not paying any attention. In seconds, the boy was floating towards me, unmoving, face down in the water. I picked him up, put him back on the step and patted his mum on the back and pointed at her crying son. I didn't tell anyone exactly what had happened as I was worried they wouldn't believe me and would somehow think it had been my fault.

5. I was chased by a baby giraffe and hid in someone's house to get away from it (they were out, so my mum told me off afterwards. But what was I to do?). It was terrifying. I was living on a small game reserve in Zimbabwe at the time BTW. Oh, and we didn't go to school or have any home schooling for six months. Just played and had adventures all day. It was bliss.

6. I went to boarding school from the age of ten, when I had to fly from Germany to the UK with just my little brother for company (with a bit of help from a volunteer lady who escorted minors onto planes). I LOVED boarding school.

7. When I was thirteen, I got suspended from school for a month. A week after my return, I got expelled. I wasn't sorry. It was a Roman Catholic school and we had to say 'Hail Mary' twice a day by the statue of the Virgin Mary amnd go to a full mass once a week whatever our religious beliefs or lack therof. The school was run by misogynistic jesuits. The headmaster used to be a millionaire and had given it all up to become a priest. He was an alcoholic and used to wander around the school pissed with a harris hawk on his shoulder (yes, a real live one)

8. In my twenties I achieved Size Eight status. It was marvellous and I still had boobs. ..

9. I was once hypnotised in Reading train station against my will. Really.

10. I smoked pot every day for over fifteen years. At one point I was such a pot head that I would have a spliff as soon as I'd woken up - before my morning cup of tea. Even on a working day. Actually, that's a lie - it wasn't a spliff it was a huge bong. After years of trying, I finally kicked the habit thanks to Patrick Holford's fabulous book How to Quit Without Feeling S**t which covers every addiction from sugar through to heroin.

11. I have lived, and loved, in Henley for nearly twenty years. Once, I was in my local pub with a girl friend when she asked 'Is it just me, or is this pub full of your ex-boyfriends?'. On closer inspection of the 12 or so punters, I discovered that I had indeed dated EVERYONE in the pub.

12. I have nice straight teeth. This wasn't always the case. I had years of train track braces and horrendous-looking orthodontic headgear which I only wore at night depsite my dentist's advice to the contrary. No way was I wearing that in front of boys!

13. I used to speak French quite well and could watch French films without subtitles and understand them (sadly this is no longer the case). I also used to study Latin and nearly did it for GCSE.

14. I am a course/workshop junkie. I love trying new things. Workshops/courses I have done include: djembe hand drumming, yoga, tai chi, jewellery making, salsa, ceroc, krump, bellydancing, massage, Reiki, Pranic healing, shiatsu...

15. I used to be a keen chorister at school and achieved Grade 5 RSA singing. I would have gone to Grade 8 but I couldn't get my head around music theory as I didn't play an instrument at the time. I've sung solo in front of hundreds of people.

16. I am a PADI Rescue Diver and have scuba dived with sharks (small reef ones mind you, I'm not that brave) and dived shipwrecks in UK, Wales and the Red Sea.

17. I declined my school's recommendation that I sit the Oxbridge exams (admissions for Oxford and Cambridge universities) when I found out how much work would be involved (lots. I never ended up going to university, instead choosing to be a waitress live a life of hedonism for three years (not much different from going to Uni then).

18. Before I die I would like to: go whale watching, see the Northern Lights, become a better mother, wife and friend, make a difference.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Baby Shower and Water Birth

Photo Credit: rouvelee
I got together with some of my favourite fabulous females yesterday who threw a Baby Shower (my first!) for me. The sun shone, we ate Greek Meze al fresco and spent a relaxing afternoon in each other's company.

I always feel that girlie gatherings are particularly good for the soul. They remind me how lucky I am to have such kind, caring, interesting people in my life.

The impending arrival (only 6 weeks to go!) of Alicia Lily (yes, we have decided on a name. And it's pronounced 'alisseeya' not 'aleesha' BTW) was celebrated in style and both she and I were truly spoiled with lovely gifts including a Wilkinet baby carrier.

Wilkinets supposedly take a bit of getting used to at first as there's a special way to tie them, but they come highly recommended from several friends for their versatility and comfort for mum/dad and baby. Plus they hold the baby in an optimum position for their spine, as well as taking the weight off your own shoulders and back. I'm looking forward to practising my tying technique with El's Baby Annabel!

I start my maternity leave on 10th June - 4 weeks before my due date. I was intending to work till 2 weeks before, but am finding my memory and concentration dwindling and my thoughts turning more and more to babies, stuff I need to by for baby, things I need to do before baby arrives etc.

After a good hour (or more) of idle surfing the other day I'd nearly talked myself into buying one of these instead of a moses basket. As fab as they sound, I figure that I'd be making a rod for my own back though if Alicia has 6-9 months of being able to rock herself to sleep I can't imagine how nightmarish the transition to a cot would be.

My usually eclectic mix of books 'on the go' (I often flit between 3 or 4 fiction and non-fiction books on various subjects in the same month until I've finished them all, then don't read for a week or so and then repeat the process) has now been reduced to Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and Gentle First Year. I love the approach of both, they're quite inspiring.

I'm particularly keen on Gentle First Year's recommendation to get your partner to massage you daily with Rose oil for four weeks post partum (to stave off the 'baby blues' and promote healing), after which you can take over the job yourself. Hmm. As lovely as he is, I am hard pushed to get even a five minute foot rub off J more than once a month.

I'm being a good girl and listening to my natal hypnotherapy CD pretty much every day which is making me feel optimistic that this time my birthing experience can be calm, powerful and within my pain threshold. I was pretty shaken after Ella's birth and felt quite cheated that I had been induced and not supported to 'do it properly' (my feelings at the time, not now).

Thanks to some 'healing past birth trauma' work with my hypnotherapist friend Hari - writer of the hilarious blog Thank you for the Days - a great hypnobirthing course which has also really given J confidence that he can support me in labour and, of course, the CD I just mentioned I'm hopeful that I will have the relaxed water birth at home that I would really love.

Check out these testimonials if you're sceptical that birth can be satisying and not agonising. Oh, and cross your fingers for me please!

Gratuitous Bump Shot: