Down at the plot: July/August/September

This is likely to be my last allotment post of the year; there’s still more to be done, but frankly I’m not capable of any of it. Every now & then I might go down to see how it’s looking, and I do have plans to meet up with the friends I’m sharing with so we can talk about what will happen next year. But I have to say that I’m really disappointed with myself for not contributing more this year. I keep trying to tell myself it’s not my fault; my body’s busy making a baby, and digging, etc are probably not the most important things to be using my energy on. Nonetheless, I have a non-stop guilt complex and feel bad for making my friends do so much.

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Our courgettes and patty pan squash did really well; we’ve had so many! My cauliflower, alas, got demolished. My friend has since cleared this properly and planted some broccoli.

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The Victoria plum tree was incredibly productive this year. This is from our old plot; I am going to miss this tree so much next summer!

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We finally got around to harvesting our potatoes. The Kestrels did really well as always, but unfortunately the Rockets didn’t turn out so well. There were lots of worms and quite a few rotted. To be fair, this may be because we left them in about 6 weeks longer than we really should have.

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I spotted this mint in our new plot; I think it might be apple mint. It’s definitely not peppermint or spearmint, but it smells amazing whatever it is!

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Finally, at home, the tomatoes finally came around. I had quite a few yellow tomatoes, but the others weren’t great. I think I might give up on growing red tomatoes after this year; they never seem to do as well.

Kiftsgate Court: my new favourite English garden

This is a very delayed post, as my friend and I visited Kiftsgate Court on a whim back at the beginning of July. We had a day with no plans, but the beautiful weather meant that a garden visit was the obvious choice. Living in the Cotswolds, we really are spoiled for choice; Kiftsgate is literally right across the road from Hidcote Manor, for example!

I’ve not been to Hidcote yet, but I must say that Kiftsgate, which I’d never heard of (though it is apparently renowned for a variety of rose), shot to the top of my list of favorite country house gardens. Everyone has their own favorite style of garden, and Kiftsgate definitely captured mine. I mean, if you asked me to describe a dream garden, it would probably look like this. There was some structure, but the plants themselves were abundant, spilling out of their containers, effusive. The types of flowers really appealed to me, too, with a lot of large bushes with feathery leaves and light flowers. It’s also on a hill and had the most incredible view of the woods below! For a bit of variety, there were also some more modern aspects to the garden, such as a reflecting pool with lily pad sculptures where the tennis court used to be, and a new walk (not pictured) with modern stonework. There is of course a cafe, and while the mains were a little expensive, the cake was reasonably priced and everything we tried was clearly very fresh. The different areas of the garden aren’t always huge, which proved a challenge at times with two coachloads of German garden tourists there, but it still felt open, quiet and easy to navigate. Kiftsgate also sell some of their plants, so I came away with a meadow rue (a plant) and some angel’s fishing rods (seed) for my own garden. I’ll never have one as nice as this, but I can try!

Right, that’s enough gushing. Hope you enjoy the pictures. I’m looking at them and wishing it was still summer so I could go hang out there for another day. Have you ever visited a garden that summed up your own attitude toward gardening?

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Vienna

At the end of July, R and I jetted off for 4 days in Vienna. I’ve always wanted to go; it seems like such a romantic city, and anywhere that is famous for a cake is an ideal choice as far as I’m concerned.

I had, however, underestimated just how big the city is. Silly of me, given that it’s a capital city. Big cities aren’t a problem for us generally; however, given that we prefer to explore cities on foot and I’m not exactly at maximum capacity it may not have been the best idea. We still had a great time, but I definitely overdid it. On our first day we must have walked about 11 miles! Predictably, that meant I really just was too tired to enjoy things that I had been looking forward to. It was certainly worth visiting, but I think I may have to go back to get a real feel for the spirit of the city.

Nonetheless, I thought it’d be nice to share a few of my favorite pictures.

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The Naschmarkt is an amazing food market & was definitely a highlight for us. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this hilarious spelling mistake, though.
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The Prunksaal, National Library of Austria, was sooooo incredible. I didn’t want to leave!

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Could this be the most elaborate roof ever?
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Apple strudel and Sachertorte on our first day. Mmmm, cake.
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Oberes Belvedere. Another highlight for me. The gardens, fountains, and art collection were all equally impressive.
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The inside of Oberes Belvedere. Such a beautiful stairwell.
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This wasn’t my favorite Klimt painting out of the collection (I really loved his flower paintings, actually), but isn’t this the most amazing frame?
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We loved this memorial fountain, too.

Thoughts as I start the 3rd trimester

P1090540First, how has this happened?! It seems impossible that I’m 6 months pregnant and only 3 months away from meeting our little one, who has felt a little abstract up until now, if I’m honest. It’s particularly weird because I don’t feel very different yet. It’s a strange thing to say when at least once a day someone comments on how big I am, and when I look in the mirror and can clearly see my bump and how very different I look. But it still doesn’t feel that heavy; I’ve been very fortunate and not yet had swelling, back pain, or any of the more serious pregnancy complaints. I have been tired and gassy (yup, I know you’re glad I shared that) and that’s about it. I haven’t been able to forget I’m pregnant for months, but it certainly hasn’t felt like it’s played a big part in my daily routines.

But as the 3rd trimester begins, I am starting to worry about when this will change. One of the things that has changed already is allotmenting – I’m not really comfortable digging anymore. What will go next? I’m still cycling. My original plan was to stop at 28 weeks (if I could make it that far), but now that I’m there I still feel well & balanced, and really don’t want to stop. I’m losing enough sleep as it is and am not keen on the thought of getting up an hour earlier to walk or take the bus to the train station. I am finding it interesting to observe people’s reactions to my cycling, though. It seems to evoke strong feelings, with people either looking absolutely horrified or pleased. Generally it leans toward the former, but I was really glad to hear my midwife say that she thought it was brilliant I was still riding my bike. Recently I’ve been reminding myself that it’s perfectly normal in a lot of countries, too.

Other random thoughts:

  • I am loving my body during pregnancy. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed (in a good way) by how perfectly round my belly seems to me; surely that can’t be normal?! It’s like someone’s strapped an adorable bowling ball to my belly. My belly button is looking super weird/disturbing, but what the heck, something was bound to stretch! I am, however, still learning to cope with other people’s comments. My confidence lasts right up until someone tells me I’m huge or big for how far along I am. I generally try to brush it off when they’re there, and have even replied to say, hey, there’s a whole second human in there, but the truth is I am finding it a little hard. I spend days, sometimes up to a week, obsessing about it afterwards. Instead I’m trying to cling to one particularly wonderful person’s comment one day that I looked like a 15th century Italian madonna, minus the pancake hat. I’ll take it!
  • I am not loving the fact that I can’t sleep. This is partly due to physical discomfort, but also partly just overthinking right before I go to bed.
  • The conversations about names are still fun, but I really hope we can make a final shortlist soon!
  • Antenatal classes are next month, and I am feeling pretty apprehensive about them. I did want to do them, because I’ve not really started to think about birth or parenting in detail yet, and I think they will help us prepare for that. While the pregnancy is definitely starting to feel real, and we have now started to buy/be given baby things (the only thing left on our list of essentials is a stroller), I do think the classes will make it real in a totally different way. Mainly this is because so far the pregnancy has been something between me & R; I haven’t thought about other people’s expectations or experiences that much. I’ve deliberately not even read any books, though I’ve been tempted. I just know how natural it is for me to compare myself to others, and I am really worried that the classes will magnify this and that I will now start to second-guess myself about everything.
  • Why is it that I like the expensive strollers best? I am not willing to spend that much money on a stroller! Or am I? Gah. Ideas for Stokke knock-offs gratefully received.
  • I am starting to look forward to my maternity leave, which starts in just under 2 months. Eek! I’m planning to do some nice things for myself if I can; perhaps a day craft workshop or something.
  • It’s hilarious how many people have told me in the past couple of weeks that I seem very laid back and calm. I really don’t feel calm at all; I am just taking the route of not thinking about problems until they’re staring me in the face. Most of the time this seems like a good strategy, though, and I think overall I have been quite relaxed during the second trimester which I’m very pleased about. I was so stressed until a couple of weeks after the anomaly scan in week 20, so it has been really refreshing. I think the truth is that I feel a little fatalistic about all of it. Having lost one pregnancy before, I guess I am aware of just how little control I have over the pregnancy, and am reacting by pretending it’s not happening rather than worrying about things that I can’t control. This feels like a good enough coping mechanism for me, though I admit I do get jealous of women who are getting excited so much earlier than I did (there are a lot of other pregnancies at my workplace at the moment).
  • I still can’t really comprehend how much my life will change after the baby arrives.

5 happy things: an update

It’s been an eventful few weeks, hence my lack of consistent blogging. Last week was particularly stressful, with a cancelled holiday due to R’s dad unexpectedly going into hospital. Thankfully, he is fine! I have now come down with a summer cold or flu & have spent the day trying to nap, with mixed results, and trying to stop my eyes from weeping, with no success at all.

I realized the other day that I’ve not done a 5 happy things post for quite a while. I have a few other drafts waiting to be finished, but this seems a good time to do something nice & easy.

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  • Flowers

I bought some sunflowers the other day, just to cheer up the house. Seeing them as I come home has been lovely.

  • Plums

The plums on our allotment have come in! There are so many this year, and there seem to be fewer worms than usual, too. Yesterday I picked 2.2 kilos. Time to make some Pflaumenkuchen again, I think.

  • Curtains

I have, at long last, finished the first panel of our bedroom curtains. I planned to finish the second one today, but alas that is definitely not happening. It shouldn’t take too long now; it’s just a matter of attaching the lining and header tape. Once I find a curtain rod, I’ll be able to share them on here. I am so excited about getting them up. On a side note, if anyone can recommend a place to buy very sturdy curtain poles, I’d love to hear it. These are so heavy!

  • Baby movement

After starting to worry about whether what I was feeling was really the baby, I am relieved & thrilled that I know I definitely have. And R has now felt it as well, which is extra lovely. Yesterday I played some Fleet Foxes and could feel it wriggling like mad! I’m very excited about feeling it for the next few months.

  • Time with friends

I got to meet my friend’s new baby for the first time yesterday. She didn’t like me & cried every time I tried to hold her, but I’m hoping she’ll eventually grow out of that! It was nice to spent time with her toddler as well, going to the park & the allotment, where he helped me pick some of those plums. P1090521

What have you been up to recently?

Eden Project

It’s been a month since my visit to the Eden Project, but I still wanted to share some of my favorite pictures and a few thoughts on it as it is quite a unique spot. Unfortunately I was only there for about 5 hours rather than a whole day due to travel & lack of a  clear plan. I think that did have a big impact on my experience there, in that we only had time to go around the biomes rather than the whole of the site.

I had high expectations for the Eden Project, perhaps unreasonable ones. I saw Tim Smit speak once & he was so engaging & enthusiastic that I was completely sold & immediately wanted to go visit. The trouble was that I was thinking of it as a garden, whereas actually there is a lot more to it. Having visited it, my impression is that the Eden Project is primarily a sustainability education, with the garden as a vehicle for that mission. And from that  point of view, it’s brilliant! The transformation of landscape is absolutely breath-taking & deserves to be celebrated. But I have to be honest – as a garden, I was a little disappointed. It’s only fair to say that I have been lucky to visit a lot of incredible botanical gardens, though, and that is what I went in expecting. And that’s just not what the Eden Project is. There was still so much that I loved, though! It’s certainly worth a visit, but I think I would only go back with children.

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These amazing statues were at the entrance. One is driftwood; the other bronze.

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My favorite parts were the ones that focused on edible gardens, like this one near the outside dining area. It was so beautiful!
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Mediterranean biome.
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Jacaranda tree – this smelled incredible!
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Kangaroo paw. I’d never seen these before, but they were very cool.
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I loved this way of growing tomatoes.
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Such a lovely climber! Sollya heterophylla. Apparently it won’t grow in normal English climates. 😦
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The smelliest flower in the world (when in bloom).

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The lookout. I was desperate to go up, but it had just closed as it was too hot/humid up there.

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Cashew!

 

Pregnancy FAQs

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Eating cake & ice cream in Vienna at 25 weeks.

I’ve not written too much about the pregnancy yet, and if I’m honest I’m not sure how much I will write. There’s so much already on the internet about pregnancy that I think I may just be boring people, plus as I’m keeping a private pregnancy journal I guess I have less of an urge to write about it here.

That said, it’s definitely not off-limits & there are a few things I’m sure you’ll be wondering about, and that I’m very happy to share. I really liked Sarah’s FAQs format, so I’ve shamelessly stolen tweaked it for my own purposes. Settle in for a long read, sorry! 🙂 Just for perspective, as I write this I’m just about to start my 26th week (so roughly 5 1/2 months in).

Do you know/are you going to find out what you’re having?

Nope. Part of me wanted to know, but R didn’t. Had I known, I wouldn’t have wanted to tell other people, though, and I am not convinced I could have kept it secret, so ultimately I agreed with him! R is convinced it’s a boy, because during the 12-week scan the sonographer once said “he” instead of “it” or “the baby”. I, on the other hand, genuinely have no inkling.

How are you feeling?

Pretty well now. The first trimester was not fun, but more on that below. I have had lots of people tell me I look well, am blooming, etc, recently. This may or may not be true, but is lovely nonetheless. The past week or so, I have felt a bit more tired again – the tiredness had mostly passed at 14 weeks or so, so it’s annoying that it’s back. My main symptom, though, is needing to go to the loo. Like, all the time. It’s terribly irritating. Overall, though, I do feel genuinely well. I’m still able to ride my bike, which I think is helping & which I’m really grateful for. My aim is to be able to carry on for another couple of weeks, up to 28 weeks. But I am paying close attention to my body and definitely won’t push myself if it starts to get uncomfortable or I feel wobbly.

Have you had any weird food cravings/aversions?

Hm. It’s hard to say. I mean, when does it become a craving? I quite fancied melon early on, and other cold foods (and I’ve eaten a ton of ice cream), but it is summer. The one thing that I think qualifies as a craving is Nutty Bars, so if you’re reading this in America, please consider this a plea, as you genuinely can’t get these here, even online! Nutty Bars are chocolate-coated wafers with layers of peanut butter. They’re terrible for you, but I have been thinking about them for ages & would pay quite a lot for them, hence why I think they qualify now.

Aversions have been really pronounced, though. During the first few months, I basically didn’t want to eat anything as I was quite nauseous, though fortunately not to the point of being sick. I’d cook dinner and then I couldn’t eat it. I did manage to eat a bit, but only about half of what I can normally eat. My appetite came back at around 14 weeks. I still can’t stand the thought of spinach, mushrooms (which I normally love), or eggs, though. Eggs are the worst, but to be fair I’ve not been able to eat poached eggs since the miscarriage; it’s just that now I don’t want them in any form!

There’s definitely just one in there, isn’t there?

Ha, aren’t you clever. I hate it when people ask this. Yes, there’s definitely just one, and I am definitely not big enough yet to merit asking this.

Can you feel it move yet?

No, I don’t think so. Most people will have felt it by now, and in the past couple of weeks there have been a couple of moments that might have been the baby, but I’m not sure. I have an anterior placenta, so any movement I do feel will be muffled, and is often later as well. Occasionally I’ve felt something like what you feel on a roller coaster or going quickly down a hill, when your stomach pitches around. There have also been a couple of things that feel like a strong pulse or throb; that could be the baby, but again I’m not really sure.

What sort of birth are you planning to have?

Oh, man, I’m not ready to start thinking about that. Hopefully one with as little pain as possible, I guess? I’m a hippie in a lot of ways, but my approach to health/medicine is pretty modern. Drugs all the way, if I decide I want them, as long as there is no harm to the baby! We’re signed up for antenatal classes in September, so I’m sure I’ll think about it after that. Ultimately, I guess for me the birth is such a small part of having a child that it’s not that important to me how it happens.

How are the cats taking the news?

I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. 🙂 Pippa’s mostly annoyed that she can’t sit on my stomach/chest anymore. She occasionally lies on my hips when I’m on my side, but clearly finds it uncomfortable.

And R?

He’s very excited. We’re currently having endless conversations about names, and making lists of things we need/want.

Can you talk about anything else right now?

Yes, happily! To be honest, I’ve not really been that interested in thinking or talking about the pregnancy. For the first trimester, it was because I was so scared of having another miscarriage. Work has been incredibly busy since then, so I suppose I didn’t have much time to think about it. Oh, and I started driving lessons in June. Things have now calmed down, and I expect the pregnancy/baby will now start to take up more time. Up to now, I’ve been spending lots of time thinking about work, the allotment, the house, what I’m reading, etc, etc. I talk about the pregnancy when other people bring it up, but haven’t raised it myself, apart from with a few people.

What are you making for the baby?

I’ve no grand plans, I’m afraid. I’ve mentioned the baby blanket previously, and I’d like to make a mobile and decorate some onesies. R’s mum has already knitted us 3 cardigans and 2 blankets. My mom also knits, as do a lot of our friends, so I’m going to scale back on what I’d normally do. I’m also trying to think of tactful ways to tell people we don’t want any more blankets – we’re already up to 4! Any tips gratefully received.

Some more thoughts about this pregnancy:

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In Cornwall at 22 weeks. Can’t believe how much my bump has grown in a month!
  • I am relieved to say that my mental health has been well throughout the pregnancy. I know both my mom & sister really enjoyed being pregnant, but I was still nervous. So far, I have had a few crying spells – I’m indecisive at the best of times, but I genuinely can’t cope with them now. This is pretty mild, though; there have been no suicidal thoughts or anything serious.
  • I’m surprised at my lack of interest in baby things so far. Is this normal? Is it because of the miscarriage? I don’t feel any inclination to go to baby sections or look at tiny cute things. Perhaps I am just not ready to accept the reality of becoming a parent yet, in spite of wanting it for some time. We have bought a few picture books, and when we were in Stratford we bought a bib with a Shakespeare quote about puking on it (How could I resist that?!), but that’s been it so far. Every time we visit R’s parents they give us something & I feel instantly overwhelmed. And then I feel guilty, because I should be grateful, right?
  • You may have noticed there are pictures of me in this post! As a rule, I really hate pictures of myself. I know, I’m terrible. Anyway, I have made an effort to make sure we do have pictures of me while pregnant. I do think it’s one time of my life that I’d regret not having photos, though I haven’t done weekly photos as that’s a bit much for me.