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 aΒ  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 thatΒ  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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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.

Cornwall

At the beginning of July, we had a visit from my German aunt and cousin. My aunt had particularly mentioned Cornwall, and as we’d never been (it’s trickier to get there, particularly the coast, when you don’t drive) we did our best to encourage this plan. πŸ™‚ Another friend from Germany also ended up coming, so it was a brilliant bilingual holiday!

We ended up renting a cottage near Tintagel and going for a brief 3 days.Β  It was absolutely fantastic, though. The weather held out, with no rain and a reasonable amount of sunshine. The cottage was just 3 fields away from the coastal path & 15 minutes to a beach on either side, so a lot of our time was spent right on the coast. It was so relaxing.

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I was pretty in love with the gorgeous herringbone stone walls, probably made from local stone as there were a lot of quarries in this area historically.

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Look at me, sitting on a gate at 21 weeks pregnant like a responsible mother-to-be.

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And of course there had to be a cream tea. The scones were still warm – perfect. We also ate a lot of ice cream while we were there. The best was R’s raspberry ripple. I’m still kicking myself for not going back to get some for myself.

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I was incredibly impressed by the water. The color & clarity were stunning. It was quite cloudy when I took this, believe it or not.

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It also happened to be the fourth of July while we were there, so we used the cottage’s grill to have a barbecue. Burgers, hot dogs, and halloumi for the veggie friend who had also come with us.

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Our trip ended with this perfect sunset. As you can imagine, I’m pretty desperate to go back soon.

I also persuaded my aunt to go to the Eden Project, but I’ve decided that deserves its own post.

Have you been to Cornwall? Where should we go next time?

Down at the plot: June

P1080731June seemed like another really busy month at the allotment, yet looking back I’m not sure what I did! There was still plenty of planting to do – we got in about 3 varieties of squash and some cauliflower. We also did quite a lot of weeding. There are a few strawberries, raspberries, and gooseberries coming in, but not much else in the way of harvesting. Our new allotment partner grows cut flowers, though, so we had loads of Sweet Williams!

P1080732P1080835P1080831At home my tomatoes started growing dramatically (and the first fruits appeared), but the rest of the garden is still looking terrible. I’ve got big hopes for next year, though…

P1080828I’m hoping July will be the month for harvest. Everything was looking close to being ready, but wasn’t quite there. I can’t wait for these plums to ripen! I’m also guessing it’ll be a slightly quieter month, apart from watering. P1080725

Pregnancy after miscarriage: how I got through the first trimester

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For me, one of the most upsetting things during/after the miscarriage was people telling me I would probably have another chance to have a baby; I was young, blah, blah, blah. I just didn’t want to hear it. The truth is that there was no way to know whether I could get pregnant again, or whether I could cope with the stress of being pregnant after a miscarriage. I just found it such an insensitive thing to say, even if people did have the best of intentions. And now that I am pregnant? While I am really happy to have another chance to have a child, I will say that the first trimester was absolutely awful. I don’t mean physically, though I may mention that in another post. I mean I basically spent the first few months trying really hard to forget I was pregnant. Last time I rushed out & bought a journal and started thinking about baby names and looking at cute baby things, but I just couldn’t do that again. I made my midwife appointments, etc, but only as a matter of rote, like things you do for a job that you don’t really want. I obligingly took my prenatal vitamins; I stopped eating salami (sob!); I stopped drinking completely, rather than having the occasional G&T. I also obsessively looked at toilet paper every time I went to the bathroom, convinced there was going to be blood on it.

And then, quite early on, at 5ish weeks, there was. And there is no terror like it. We had to wait a week for a scan, because nothing’s really visible that early on. There it was, a tiny little heart beating, floating away in the womb. It should have made me feel better, right? But it didn’t. There was about an hour of relief, then 6 weeks of conviction that it had stopped, and that I would find out at the 12 week scan that I’d had a missed miscarriage. Fortunately that didn’t happen, but honestly, those 6 weeks were absolute hell. I think I cried every day.

So how did I cope in the end? There were a few practical things that helped me. I can’t promise they’ll help you if you end up in the same position, but I thought I would share just in case.

  • Scheduling in treats for myself

For whatever reason, this timeframe ended up coinciding with lots of annual leave. This could really have gone either way, but not thinking about work actually helped in the end. I did make sure no days off were completely empty, though. I tried to go out for lunch, or go for a nice trip somewhere, or go to a gig, etc. I also tried to do a bit of gardening, but as I was at the allotment the day the miscarriage started, that didn’t work out so well. Visiting gardens was good, though.

  • Reading peer-reviewed articles about ultrasounds & miscarriage

What can I say? I like to be informed. Reading Internet forums was awfully anxiety-inducing, but for some reason reading about miscarriage in a factual way was actually calming for me. I think this is very much to do with how I was brought up, and I am aware that this is probably not the case for everyone! Because I work in a hospital library and in an academic library, I was lucky to be able to access this kind of information pretty easily, but I think most public libraries will have at least a couple of textbooks available. Abstracts for journal articles are often available from PubMed, even if the full text isn’t, and there is also the database Free Medical Journals.

  • Joining the Miscarriage Association forum

Having said how anxious Internet forums make me, I would like to point out the exception to the rule. The Miscarriage Association hosts private, moderated forums. We had decided not to share the news about the pregnancy, and I joined this forum in the interest of my mental health. I really needed to share my feelings somewhere, and this forum felt like a safe space. Everyone was very sensitive (perhaps not surprising, given we’d all experienced miscarriage). If you’re considering joining, I would recommend it. You don’t have to share if you don’t want to, but personally, I found even reading other people’s posts made me feel less lonely (which, aside from anxiety, is what I felt the most during the first trimester).

  • Talking to family (and one or two friends)

Eventually, I did tell my mom, sister, and a couple of close friends about the pregnancy as the 12 week scan approached. Telling others and having a chance to talk about what I was feeling definitely helped. I couldn’t bring myself to be excited about the pregnancy, but letting other people be excited for me was definitely a good thing.

  • Setting boundaries – making it clear to others when I didn’t want to talk about it

This was really important, too, both in regard to R and the people I chose to tell early. Because while talking can help sometimes, it can also go too far sometimes. There were a lot of times I really didn’t want to think about it, let alone talk about it. Making sure people understood that was crucial. Everyone was really good about this, and let me bring up the pregnancy rather than asking me about it directly, and I think that’s because I made it fairly clear that’s how I wanted it to be.

  • Telling the midwife about my concerns

I have a lovely midwife, and it was great to know that she was there to support me as and when I needed it. She gave me some practical ideas for local support, too. In the end, I didn’t follow up on that advice, but it was important to know the options, especially with all my family being so far away.

 

Making something new: a baby blanket

p1080848.jpgThis is a project I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Isn’t this the most stunning yarn? I bought it about 3 years ago at Unravel. It’s handspun and hand-dyed Devon wool, in a colorway called Dawn Chorus. There was only one skein of it at the stand, and though I’m usually not an impulse buyer, I spent all day thinking about this yarn and knew I couldn’t leave without it.

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The warm colors reminded me of sunrise, and I originally imagined myself wearing a shawl made from it, drinking a cuppa on my imaginary porch. But the more I admired/stroked/fondled it, the more I realized that actually this was the ideal yarn to use for a baby blanket. It is a little fuzzy, but very soft, and absolutely gorgeous. So not long after buying it, I tucked it away, to wait until I knew I was going to have my own little one to make a blanket for with it.

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And now I’ll finally get to use it. It was a little over a year ago (June 21) that I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and while that ended in a miscarriage just a month later, I am so pleased to share that R & I now have a second chance – we’re due early November and all seems to be going well. I never did get this yarn out last year, and retrospectively I’m glad as thinking about everything that happened last summer still makes me unbearably sad; it would have tainted this project a little. For now, I am happy and relieved and a tad overwhelmed by this pregnancy, which, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, really does feel like a tiny miracle. Sharing the news is a little scary, to be honest, because though I’m well into the pregnancy now, everything still feels precarious. I hope this blanket will give me something to focus my energy on.

I have a few days away in Cornwall coming up, and I’m planning to test a few lace patterns to find the right combination for our little one’s first handknit. There isn’t much of this yarn, as you can see, so I’m going to use some of the undyed yarn I bought at Wonderwool to supplement it. I’ll let you all know what I end up choosing.

Pippa: 15 things

I can’t believe it, but it’s been a year since we adopted Pippa! It feels both like it was just yesterday, and like she’s always been a part of our lives. We both love her so much and love coming home to her every day.

A few months ago, Janet posted some fun facts about her cat, so I thought this was a great excuse to do that about Pippa. Enjoy!

  • R is nervous about having an outdoor cat, so Pippa is basically a housecat (the first one I’ve ever had.) I do let her go out with me when I’m out in the garden, though, and let her wander out when the weather’s warm enough to leave the back door open.
  • That said, she’s pretty determined and will happily jump out our kitchen window. I plan to use this as a long-term bargaining chip for letting her become a full-time indoor/outdoor cat.
  • Pippa is incredibly shy and will go hide under our covers any time someone besides me and R even knocks on our door. She also goes there when we’re vacuuming.
  • She enjoys sitting on R’s lap while he watches action films.
  • Pippa is waiting for us every day when we come home from work. She comes to the front door to see R, then waits by the back door when I get home a little later. Our favorite thing is when she is sitting in the windowsill when we get home, though.
  • Her favorite thing to do, by a mile, is lay on our chest/stomachs. Preferably with her bum in our face, obviously. Every day when he gets home, R goes to lay down so they can have a bit of a cuddle. P1080221
  • She’s scared of fans (we just discovered that this week during that brief spell of summer).
  • She now comes to wake us up in the morning. She just walks in & starts purring really loudly until we wake up, then jumps on the bed and sniffs our faces.
  • After ignoring her cat bed for 6 months, she suddenly decided she loves it and spends most evenings in it.
  • Pippa wouldn’t come out from under her cat bed at all when we visited her in the animal shelter.
  • She doesn’t play with a lot of toys, but we discovered she loved mint when someone spilled some in our living room. She rolled on the spot for days!
  • She also has a yellow ribbon that we play with every day. She loves it. It’s part of our morning routine – I get up, go the bathroom, get her food, get dressed, and then we play for 10-15 minutes before I go to work. It’s the best part of my day! P1070644
  • She’s always adorable, but is easily at her cutest when she lies on her back with her paws tucked up onto her chest.
  • She hates the camera, so it’s really hard to get any good pictures of her. (Hence no picture of the above pose.)
  • Pippa is R’s first cat, and she has totally converted him to a cat lover. He may deny it if asked, but his phone is full of pictures of her (he took the one below) and we now sometimes look at the adoption page on the shelter’s website together. I mean, look at her! How could he not fall for her? πŸ™‚
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