Thursday, September 30, 2010

A short film about life and death

This film was made by Marie Stopes highlighting the risks that are associated with birth in developing countries. Things that we have choices over or take for granted, such as getting to hospital or having medical help to hand should it be needed and thus surviving to take hold our babies and see them grow.

This particular film was made in Bwindi, the hospital where a friend of mine and his partner have been for the last five years. They have done great work there.

Making the hospital a recognised AIDS testing centre, reducing malaria by selling cheap mosquito nets and teaching the community to use them, building a maternity wing allowing women to come there to safely have their babies are just a couple of the many amazing things they made happen whilst they were there.

Obviously, they are now back here, but life and the work still goes on in Bwindi and the world over to reduce maternal mortality. So, please take a minute to watch the film. It brought tears to my eyes, particularly in the knowledge that, for a midwife such as Elisabeth, death is a real part of birth, whereas for me, I hope I will never come across it with the women I work for.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some more pictures from the weekend.

These are courtesy of Fred and her Nikon d5000, just a few extra pics of the fantabulous weekend we had.
 Removing a wine cork with a broken corkscrew took me back to student days and working in the union bar!

 Apparently a white wall gave Fred that all excited feeling. Perfect for stupid photographs we thought. She had better and more sensible ideas!
What shall I wear? I did give you this top back Soph?

If anyone has any suggestions for a show for next year or wants to recommend a city and something to do - all answers will be gratefully recieved on a postcard or even a beer mat will work!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bloggers Carnival!

Yes, alright, two in one day!

It could be because I've missed you all so much this weekend, or just that, in my absence, my iron gave up the ghost, so the laundry pile that is currently helping to dust the cobwebs off the coving is parked in a very, very far and murky corner of my brain whilst awaiting a new iron. Instead I thought I'd come back to blog about this:

The Blog-O-Sphere, as you know, is full of people from all walks of life, from the diverse to the ridiculous, the beautiful to serene. Bloggers, like "real people", attract other bloggers from similar paths and hobbies as their own and British Mummy Bloggers tends to attract Mummy Bloggers?!

Once a month they host a carnival where bloggers send a particularly funny/thought provoking/profound/or just grammatically correct post from the last four weeks to a host blogger.

25 or so blogs are then chosen from those who submit.

Anyway, as I paid her in chocolate money and masticated banana, the lovely Laura from Little Stuff chose my post on yoga as one of her choices this month (actually, judging by the post, I think she thought if she didn't chose that post, I may well be dead by the following month due to shortfallings in yoga...she may be right!)

Anyway, as I'm sure you'd like more blog reads, here is the Blog Carnival and now I'm off to sort me a hipstamatic, definitely the new blogger/photographer-on-the-go application - awesome!!

However, I may have to sleep with Father Christmas to get an IPhone first!

A Wicked weekend in the Capital.

Well, that was nothing if not amazing and done far too infrequently.

This weekend I took the train on my own (yes, no children) down to London. My girlie weekend away was finally here and excited was an understatement.

Freda, cake decorator and photographer extraordinaire!
Julie, eco queen, mother and teacher of all.
Fred, Julie, Soph, Emma and I were let loose in the sprawl of the capital. We'd rented an appartment for the weekend and had tickets to see Wicked. The rest of the weekend was just ours to do with as we wished and "mooching" was high on everyone's list of priorities.

Soph, the voice of a diva and the sparkle of everyone's life!
My nomadic friend, Emma, about to embark on single motherhood. Awesome!

I never seem to have enough time to soak up the amazingness of my beautiful friends, so this was a very very special treat to have them all to myself, without any interuption from small people who needed things, with no dinners to cook, instead eating when the whim took us, or laundry to take prescedence over an extra hour in bed or a five o'clock glass of wine (or two!)

I had bought each of the girls a book for the weekend that I hoped would sit nicely into their lives and that they'd occasionally find a small window of opportunity when they got home, to curl up in a corner for 20 minutes or so to read.

Friday evening we ate out, but not until after we'd put the world to rights, hence all plans of elaborate eating opportunities gave way to the call of our bellies and the first pizza place we found!

Saturday was spent lazily soaking up the atmosphere (and a little shopping). Most of us had done the sights in our childhood and some people watching was on the cards. We wended our way to Covent Garden, which probably has to be the Queen of People Watching spaces. I spent most of the day with my telephoto in peoples faces or seeking out beautiful things. 

From Covent Garden, we meandered up to Hamleys, which I was rather disappointed with. I suppose I have been spoiled with Toys R Us at Time Square - nothing is quite like the ferris wheel in the store, or the moving dinosaurs. The spinning Hamleys drum and equity card seeking sales guys singing and demonstrating the toys, didn't quite hit the mark, still, at least I can now say "I've been to Hamleys".

We then moved onto Liberty's and Carnaby street, where I found some beautiful materials and colours.

Carnaby street is no longer that "place of the sixties".

It no longer sports wacky people with pink or stripy hair and safety pinned clothing, I didn't see a single hippy or anything very outrageous. It's been about 20 years since I last went to Carnaby street and maybe it is my adled over time brain, my "I've seen it all" mentality, or maybe it has just normalised, but gone is the weird bondage shop and the tattoo parlours, the funky Mary Quant shop and places to buy stripy tights, fluorescent wigs or a Jam or Beatles t-shirt or memorabilia.

Today there is Boots.

I think this screams volumes.

It was pleasant enough to walk through, but it has changed and the same designer boutiques that line Regent Street or even Oxford Road, now bedeck the pedestrianised rows that make up Carnaby Street.

And back to the flat.

The highlight of the weekend was the tickets for Wicked at the Apollo Vic theatre. So, scrubbed and made up, we pootled off to watch the show.

Sunday morning arrived way too fast.

Why is this?

It takes forever for something fun to arrive, then it's over in a flash. Still, we were determined to make the most of the remaining time and headed this morning for Canary Wharf.

The weekend together drew to a close in a Turkish cafe overlooking the O2, which, as Sunday mornings go, is a pretty cool way to hang out.

And finally, there were just two.

Emma and I had lunch with a friend of hers, the lovely Justin, at the Eurostar station.

Before the girls and I had parted ways, we'd agreed that we need to do this each year. It doesn't have to necessarily be London, but there's so much to do and see that London would work too. One weekend a year we will all promise to come together to revel in sisterhood for 48 hours.

As Justin, Emma and I chowed down on our lunch and the Eurostars pulled in and away, I dreamed of Paris.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

About a Boy

It would be hypocritical, if it were all about me, but it isn't.

This is about an eight year old boy.

This is about an eight year old boy who happens to go to a school in his catchment area that happens to be a faith school, and a faith school that is not the faith in which he, himself was christened.

This is about a boy whose parents are christian, but do not attend church and perhaps are leaning towards agnostic beliefs rather than following the New Testament. This is because they are aware that the world is a huge place, full of diversity and diversity doesn't lend itself towards the teachings of the Bible in the strictest sense of the word.

This is about whether it is "right" that the boy should attend this school and more so, attend a papal visit, when his parents are "non-believers" and not catholic.

But, this is about the boy.

It is not about the parents.

It is about an eight year old boy who attends a faith school in his catchment as there was a place and it is an excellent school. It is about a boy who loves his school and his friends and was caught up in the hype and excitment of a papal visit and wanted to celebrate this famous person's visit with his friends and this is about the boy who's parents love him and want him to be happy.

When we have kids we sometimes have to make decisions that mean we have to step outside our comfort zone, or make decisions that might be for the good of the child, but not necessarily sit as well with us. These decisions can still be made in full consciousness. They can still be made from the heart. It can be made and explained that, although this might not be the choice or path taken by oneself, it might be the best path for them and that they are themselves and not us.

Their footsteps need to tread slightly outside our own.

Of course, there are decisions that we make as parents that we do enforce. "House rules"-  the amount of media watched in a week, whether Nestle is a presence in the home, whether they may or may not stay out until a certain time on a school night. But many, many decisions we make, have to come with an element of what might be best for them even if it is against our principles.

A one off visit from someone I have issues with, or an education for a time in a faith school, is not an area I care to take the mighty hand to, neither is moving my children from country to country when they were young enough to not be completely affected. However, much as the next career move for Mr Beehive might well be internationally, for the boy and his siblings, it is not. Hence, we have made another decision that might put us in a different plane from the one we would like to pursue ourselves.

To grow into ourselves means looking outside the safety zone. Being a Christian means that too I think. It means taking the less selfish route, of doing something that is not for us, but that which may cause inner conflict and help us learn.

After all, the boy is the future and therefore, for life to be sustained, it must be about the boy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vis a Viz!

Have you noticed how life is beginning to take the shape of a reality Viz magazine these days?

Only yesterday in the paper is a report on a school in Selby with a threatened noise abatement order hanging over their heads. Why? I hear you cry.
Because three local residents are continually complaining about the noise created by the 300+ children at playtime! WTF? Smatterings of Victorian Dad?

Mrs Brady, Old Lady, was caught, on CCTV, dumping a cat into a refuse bin!

The Fat Slags (yeah, that report is a few years old, but there are plenty more if you search!) are repeatedly in the columns of the tabloids for their binge drinking and loose behaviour once they have done their homework after school on a Friday night.

Mr Beehive lent me a book by Lucy Mangan, a Guardian columnist. She's a cross between Cressida, mother of Tarquin and  Guinevere and another Mrs B. I am struggling to "get into her" and hope her sense of humour really develops by 2010 because in 2007, she's in need of a pick me up!

Oh and don't start me on Fe-wail, a popular tabloid's weekly "chuck-up" who also produces a steady supply of Cressida's venting their wrath on the dumb population and scores of terrible mothers who feed their children the occasional fish finger, rather than spear hunting for sustainable Icelandic Pollock and battering it oneself in gluten free spelt flour.
Mille Tant is also there, sharing the same column space on a frequent basis and screeching her worth over those who dare to leave the house in anything less than full make up and heels whilst holding down a full time job and being a single stay at home parent.

Personally, I think it's sad that our lives revolve so much around what's in the media. We're all guilty of being pulled into their snare I think. The fact that we don't allow our children to walk to the 20m to the bus stop or school may be down to this story and the fear we'll be deemed bad parents, or the fear that something might happen to them.

We've lost the autonomy to raise our children and make decisions. We've lost the connection and safehood of community because we're (generically and hypothetically) scared  that the quiet man at number 37 might be a paedophile or drug pusher.

I know that for some people these are serious and genuine issues, and I'm not belittling it for them, but for most people they are unsubstantiated and irrational fears that are greedily fed by media stories etc.

I have no idea what's brought me to this rant today, other than to say that maybe it's time to throw off the blanket and get to know our community and the people around us. Maybe it's time to be show a united front for parents actually knowing best for their children and knowing the capabilities of their offspring better than anyone else? Maybe it's time to look out for each other and each other's kids, letting them play out on playground without us hovering knowing that they'll be safe because there are other mothers out there who will make sure of it.

I suppose I'm just tired of the stupidity and PC'ness of life in general in the UK and thus The Beehive speaks.

As you were ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

An infinate playlist

Chilling this evening.

Watching a fantastic movie and just eaten sashimi and sushi!! I love this movie! It's dorky and funny and cool and utterly geeky and perfect for a night in!

Not that I have an infinite play list as such, but maybe it'd include:

Amy Seeley ; Kaki King; Florence and the machine; Ingrid Michaelson; Mozart ; Copland; Beats Antique; The Housemartins

I'm sure there's more I could add.

I think I'll work on that!

What's your infinite playlist that you like to listen to?

Next weekend is going to take so long to come. I'm going to the Big Smoke to meet with my bestest girlie buddies and I can't wait. We've got the whole weekend to just soak in the atmosphere, chill out with good food and wine, maybe take in a sight or two, *whispering* or Spittalfields market and...the best bit, we're going to see "Wicked"!

Now I need to go plan my wardrobe and pack ;-))

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Isn't it Ironic?

I love this time of year, I've probably said this before! It's the time of rich colours, reds, browns, yellows; the time of late afternoon sunshine, blue skies and chilly mornings; comfort food and thick sweaters, snoods, scarves and hats; knitting and crocheting and less sewing.

Today has been somewhat of an odd day. To explain this, I need to back track about 18 months.
When we first arrived back in the UK in April 2009, I home educated the children. I'm glad we did. It gave us time to de-America ourselves a little and gave us time to look around schools and decide what would work for the children coming from the wonderful Montessori school that they had been in for the previous 4 and a bit years.
Eventually, in October 2009, one of the state schools called to say they had three places. By then, we'd found a school place for Master Beehive the elder that seemed to fit in with our philosophy of education and suited him, but with the younger two, we were still floundering. I could have continued to home educate them, but, selfishly, I wanted to work. I wanted to study so that I'd get the coveted uni place I now have and finally realise my dream.
Anyway, long story cut relatively short, we were offered a place in the local catholic school.

We are not particularly religious. The children have been christened and we were married in a church, but the older I have become, the more distance I have placed between myself and religion. Odd really considering that we were a very christian family growing up, my parents were active in the church, I went every week from babyhood until I left home at 18. I just find my inner self struggling to contend with a belief system that opposes the very things I feel strongly about - the right to choose, gay rights, women's rights etc. I think these days more along the lines of a spiritual draw, that there may well be something more to life, but I don't think that "God" is it.

So, not agnostic, but not actively churchgoing top this, Anglican, not Catholic.

So, the school has an excellent reputation. So ... longer story even shorter.

Cut to today - I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that the Pope came to Edinburgh today!
He actually gave an audience to the school that my younger two attend.
He then blessed Master Beehive the younger! Yup, the anglican child with the non-believer parents got a blessing from a Catholic Pope!

I think that has to be irony in the truest sense of the word!

My lads at their cub meeting this evening, can you see the Papal glow from the "blessed one" below?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Death of a Pig

Eugh! Today has not been a good one.

I woke up this morning to find that one of the guinea pigs we bought a couple of weeks back had died in the night. Stiff and cold and lying in the "bedroom" in the hutch.

I was mortified. I've never "killed" a pet before - well, I supposeone of  the goldfish died, but nothing fluffy at least!

I guess I should have taken her to the vet last night, but Sunday night at 9pm was when she started showing any signs of being lethargic and having the runs so I wrapped her in a towel and fed her water with a pipette last night in an attempt to hopefully help pass through what it might be.

Sadly guineas, I've since learned from my vet, don't have much reserve and often don't actually show illness until it's pretty much too late, so had we taken her to the out of hours emergency vet, we still may have not had a well guinea pig this morning.
She thinks that she had something before we bought her, which reduces my charge hopefully!

Master Beehive the elder seems to have taken this the hardest. He seemed to have bonded particularly with this guinea, nicknaming her Roxy-moron and spending lots of time cuddling her.

So, in my ignorance I decided to ask about fees for having her cremated and getting the ashes back so that we could take them to our new home and bury them in the garden under a tree - so the kids got a kind of "ceremony".

Holy Pig!

For the full cremation on her own, presumably lying on a bed of pure silk with gold trim, returning of the ashes in a beautiful urn, made of platinum I expect, with her name engraved on the cask - they wanted 50 quid! Fifty bleeding smackeroos!!!!!!!
It'd cost me less to unblock the toilet if she got stuck in the u-bend!*

Now, I love my pets, but it'll be cold day in hell when I'll fork out five times the price I paid for the animal just for a pretty box, Little Miss Beehive could probably make a better job of the urn with her gel glitter pens and a shoebox!

This sentiment was shared by my friend who had recently been quoted 80 euros to neuter her boars, no, not the pair, just one boar! 160 Euros for the pair, that's 40 euros per bollock!
Her deduction was that if they fought, she'd separate them as it'd be cheaper to buy a new hutch than remove their exceedingly small pin head sized nuts - I think they actually have to bring in a vet from Lilliput to perform the procedure!!!

However, for the simple, commoners cremation with others and scattering of the ashes in the local pet cemetery, it's just 18! I seriously don't think Roxy is in any fit state to care whether she's sharing her slab with several others or if she's getting her own choice of readings and hymns, however, Mr Beehive would remain married to me for a lot longer if I went for this option, not to mention my bank manager*

So, having taken the remaining piggie, Hermione, to the vet to ensure she was fit and well and not carrying the same sickness, we have left Roxy and a credit card slip in the capable hands of our vet, we've learned a very harsh lesson about buying guineas from large pet stores and will be treading carefully when we purchase our playmate for Hermione, taking our vet's advice and going to the place she has suggested and getting a piggie that has been properly checked over from the off set.***

RIP Roxy.

* disclaimer  - I do not, have never and will never flush any animal down the loo, I even buried the bloody fish, but the thought did cross my mind I am ashamed to say- with the fish!!! - NOT the piggie!
**disclaimer, I do not engage in polygomy and am not also married to my bank manager, I just have an appalling ability to phrase a sentence correctly!
***I had done the "text book" check myself when I picked her up from the store.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Living in a Material World.

I was listening on the radio yesterday about travellers . The interviewee, Jake Bowers, was talking about the last several years of his life whereupon he's lived with travelling communities from the Northernmost parts of Alaska, to the Bedouin tribes in the Sahara and beyond. One comment he made that stuck in my mind more than anything was about possessions. Travelling communities, Romanies, Tuareg, Masai, whatever name they are called in the part of the world they descend from, all have one thing in common, they must travel light and thus, people, family and each other are of more importance than innanimate objects which take up all important space.
Sedentary groups with fixed homes, tend to gather and collect things, partly because they need to to furnish their home or make it look nice, they can buy that unecessary ornament that will sit on a shelf and gather dust simply because they can, it doesn't all have to fit into a caravan or on the back of a mule in six months time. Material possessions have a greater worth in the sedentary world.

Having spent the last 20 years moving from one house, town, county or country to another you'd think this is something that I would be good at . I wish I was able to live with less stuff, but I think I have inherited my mother's knack for hoarding which she inherited from her own parents who hung onto everything (world war syndrome of make do and mend) just in case they might need it or find a use for it or could make something else out of it! I find it incredibly difficult to let things go - the same could be said for my personal life!
I think some of this also comes from my creative side where upon I love to take and frame photographs, read books, make scrapbooks, knit, sew and genuinely, everything I own I use or can say it has a sentimental reason as to why I can't give it away.

But we're downsizing. The days of living in houses far above our station is drawing to a close. The home we've bought and fallen in love with (although not in that order!) has character, which in turn means we've sacrificed enormity (well and we're now paying for it ourselves!!) for age and enchantment.
So Mr Beehive and myself are on a new personal journey -  living with less!

Each weekend that we have free we're working on a different room in the house, removing the stuff we don't need and giving it to charity. So far I've managed to donate a huge bag of baby clothes - I know, she's six in two months time and I'm just managing to get my heart into accepting that era is now over and I'll never be pregnant again or have anymore babies. So, that's been quite an emotionall and heartrending personal journey for me.

Today, however, I decided to start on my wardrobe. Gok would have been proud!

I have piles of jeans - probably around 8 or 9 pairs (that could be lying a little!), but at least three or four pairs are my "hopefuls". Hopeful that one day I will get back into them and hopefully have the body I had before I had my babies. Realistically it's not going to happen. My shape has changed. Even lipo wouldn't give me back my 21 year old body. So these needed to go.

A bin bag later and I was on a roll so started on Mr Beehive's wardrobe:

Hell's Bells!

This man gives Imelda Marcos a run for her shoe allowance!

Mr Beehive travels - a lot! When he travels, he likes to claim what is rightfully his!

This means little bottles of bubble bath, shower gel, lip salve, packets of ear plugs, numerous eye covers and a strange assortment of soap *sigh* He has yet to actually bring me tissues, toilet roll or packets of sugar, but my own mother still takes the milk she doesn't use in her coffee and I currently have a sachet of vinegar in my handbag...but I have a wasp story for that one!!

Then he brings it home and stores it so that when he travels next time, he can forget it and instead use the new one that he gets given.....

We found toothpaste for midgets amongst the out of date ibuprofen (he collects that too - probably to use once he notices how much shit I've removed from his wardrobe!)

He also likes me to buy his clothes for him - then, he doesn't wear what I buy him, in fact, he wears one of about three t-shirts and rotates them, none of which suit him or I even like.

He also goes to the gym once a week - but has four gym outfits- go figure!

He has two golf shirts - I should mention, he probably plays golf once every six months at the most - so either he has very poor expectations of my getting through the laundry in six months, or he needs to wear two for warmth, oh and get this....he has WINTER golf shoes - yes, I've been married to the man for 11 years, known him for over 12 and he has NEVER PLAYED GOLF IN THE WINTER!!!!!!!!

He's done a trip to Oxfam already today and is off to the tip and recycling centre later, oh, and I noticed he's changed his t-shirt *wink*

Happy Sunday!!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wandering Wednesday part two

Wandering today - past these beautiful gates at Merchiston Tennis club.

Underneath the elderberries, which reminds me that I need to get out this weekend to pick some if we're going to attempt wine this year!
Someone has already attempted to make use of surplus fruits here...
I not only find Edinburgh fascinating for amazing signs and quirkiness, but I love the variety of colours that you can discover if  you look. 

Edinburgh is a grey city for much of the year. The sandstone buildings are blackened from years of transport and city dwelling and it would be too difficult to clean the buildings up due to the fragile make up of the stone. We also are the recipients of typical northern hemisphere weather and long nights pretty much from the end of "festival season", to the beginning of April. Thus for a good proportion of the year we are either shrouded in grey rain clouds or wake and go to bed in the dark. For me, to find pockets of vibrant colour makes me want to smile, so enjoy:

"Vibrant Edinburgh"