Saturday, October 31, 2009

AUTUMN


Anna
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I quite like autumn really. From a colour point of view it is the prettiest season... when you are somewhere further south than Glasgow anyway.
Until I lived in France I didn't really notice autumn. In the Glasgow of my childhood autumn had always seemed to last just one weekend. The leaves turned brown and were blown off the trees in a gale within 24 hours, 48 at the most. In France I watched in amazement at 20 as autumn (a fairly warm and sunny season) lasted weeks and weeks.
Since then I have tried to be more aware of Scottish autumn.
You have to start watching out for it the second week in October, with the first weekend in November usually being the optimum photo weekend. This year must have been windier as the trees had already reached week two of November stage when I was in Glasgow today with my camera - bummer. But the colours on the ground were beautiful, even if I had missed the best tree stage. Anna wasn't too sure whether she liked her feet disappearing under the leaves and I think she'd have felt more comfortable kicking them about if she had been wearing boots.
The only unfortunate thing about autumn is the inevitability of winter following it.

POOR SUNFLOWERS


Sad sunflowers
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I think we planted the sunflowers a little too late in the season in our garden. We waited all summer for them to make an appearance and we'd nearly given up when suddenly in September they popped out to say hello. Unfortunately, the last week has seen some rain and gales that they don't seem to be coping with. Weighed down under the constant deluge, they've simply given up the will to live and have gone to sleep, resting their weary heads on our lawn, looking pretty much like the rest of us are feeling. I feel almost like I should rush out and wrap them up in scarves and hats to cheer them up!
I must remember to bring out the seeds earlier next year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HOW HARD CAN IT BE?


Garlic press
Originally uploaded by bercired
I've had a long and stressful day and something was bound to be that final straw that broke the camel's back...
How hard can it be to make a bloody garlic press that you can actually use to press garlic? It isn't exactly building a spacecraft to circumnavigate Jupiter after all!
The one I had been using decided to disintegrate - every time I pressed a garlic clove, the garlic turned greyish blue probably loading the baby with lead poisoning or similar. Despite my meagre budget I decided to invest in a new model yesterday when I was in ASDA. They had one - similar to the one pictured. It didn't break the bank at a couple of pounds. I decided to make spaghetti tonight deliberately to try it. First issue - the little holes were flat - not sharp in any way so the garlic simply squashed against rather than through them causing an M8 at 8-15am type garlic traffic jam. I used my unremarkable strength to push the two handles together to force it through - and the result of course was a lump of garlic still in the press and two bent and touching handles. For crying out loud...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FOOD!

One of the things about pregnancy (and early breastfeeding, for that matter) is the change to your food requirements. I don't mean you like different tastes, I mean when you are late for a meal you feel faint. This isn't a gradual occurrence but an instant one. I have been trying to get up and work before breakfast the last few days. I am fine until about 9-15am, then I have a window of about five minutes to get to the cereal bowl before I fall over. When I am not pregnant, I can skip a meal with little more than a grumbly tum but not now.
So tomorrow's glucose testing is going to be fun. They want me to fast for 12 hours before a blood test. Following that they want to feed me only glasses of lucozade all morning at two hour intervals while taking several blood tests. I have a feeling that I am going to want punch someone by 11am. It is just as well I won't have the energy to!

Friday, October 23, 2009

AN INTERESTING TAKE ON LANGUAGE


Walk along the river Clyde
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Anna has quite a few pinafores. This is a nice, cosy option before we need to drag out the winter jumpers. I have noticed when I dress her that if I get her to step into her pinafore she calls it her trousers, whereas if I put it on over her head, she calls it her T-shirt. So clothing doesn't get its name according to its shape or function, but rather by how you get into it! Sweet!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

ANTENATAL


Baby scan
Originally uploaded by viralbus
Yesterday I went into QMH for what I expected to be my usual least favourite ante-natal appointment. At 28 weeks I usually get dragged in for a painful shot of anti-D because of my rhesus negative blood. I know I shouldn't complain given this disease wiped out all my aunts and uncles but it is bloody nippy :-(
Anyway the midwife decided to quickly examine me while I was in and suddenly my 10 minute appointment stretched to a whole morning... Anna was not amused! My 'fundal height', which should have measured 28cm, turned out to be 34cm. I was assured it was probably excess fluid but sent off for an unscheduled scan which revealed 'Baked Bean' was more of a 'Broad Bean' and looking more like a five week older foetus. The woman radiographer said at least three times 'Wow this is a big baby' - too much info thanks!
So I am being dragged in for a morning of glucose testing next week to see if I have developed (for the first time ever) gestational diabetes. My gut feeling, given my urine is clear, is that my morning of fasting and sugar shots is simply going to result in more wide-eyed proclamations of 'Wow, she's big!' but I may stand corrected.
Bemoaning my situation today to a friend who is of the same stature as myself, she tried to reassure me that when her son was born three years ago, she was more than surprised to be told he weighed in at 9lb9 (4.4kg in real money) - hmmmm, I'm not sure that cheered me up, thank you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

PINK!!!!


Pink people
Originally uploaded by PhylB
With my pram (or rather Maree's pram) missing a wheel, I have been trying to find a cheap solution for transporting Anna and Baked Bean when she turns up. The most obvious one was Baked in a papoose and Anna in her buggy till next summer when she's more capable of long walks, but I'm not sure my back fancies that for long trips.
Buying a new pram at nearly 42 seemed a bit crazy too... surely I can't have many more kids after Baked? (only winding you up again dad!)
So onto Ebay I went. I bid on a few double Mclarens and Silver Crosses but they all hit £100 before p&p and I was getting frustrated. Then I saw (or was it heard?) this PINK one. Funnily enough bidding hadn't gone beyond £25 in the final hour and Baked is a girl too so I bought it.
It arrived today in a box so covered in parcel tape I thought both girls would be at school before we managed to break in. Pudge thought it was soooo beautiful and asked to try it despite being way too big and Anna, with her overly girlie tendencies decided it was so nice she refused to get out of it for half an hour. I am dreading my first trip to ASDA this week when she realizes I intend to put her back in the dark blue single buggy until January. She's liable to try killing me!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ALL THE GRANDCHILDREN

It's interesting to think that if those two had never got together, none of the other people in this photo with them would ever have existed, no?

ALWAYS THOUGHTFUL


Cosy pyjamas
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Pudge is such a caring a gentle wee man.
For weeks he's been asking for fleece pyjamas with feet like Anna but they aren't so easy to come by over age 2, and when you do find them, they aren't cheap (£9 in ASDA). Eventually I found a Thomas the Tank Engine all-in-one on Ebay last week and when it arrived, his whole face lit up like he'd been given the best present ever. Ironically, it coincided with the warmest day of weather in a month, but Pudge insisted on wearing it to bed.
The next morning I got up to find him on a chair trying to reach his piggy bank in the TV room (which has all of a fiver in it).
What are you doing? I asked.
I am just getting some money to buy you and Thomas fleece suits too, you must be so cold in bed at night and these are lovely and warm! he replied.
Can you imagine a married couple (especially where one party is nearly 7 months pregnant) getting into bed at night in giant cosy suits like this? I guess that'd be the epitome of sexy, no?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TROPICAL PASSION?


Passion fruit in Scotland
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Thomas planted a passion fruit tree in our garden over a year ago. At first I thought he was mad - this is Scotland after all. I was more than surprised it survived the frost last winter and gobsmacked when he found it had actually grown its first fruit this year. He googled it to see when we should eat it and found out it wasn't just a passion fruit, which would be purple, but in fact a tropical passion fruit! How absurd is that?

Monday, October 12, 2009

WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO KEEP QUIET...

I read this the other day and despite what I consider fairly in-depth economic knowledge and first-hand experience of the recession both at home and in Europe, I was shocked at some of the percentages:

Since the UK banking crisis started in mid-2007, the pounds has fallen by:-

75% versus Japanese yen
50% versus the Czech Koruna
49% versus Swiss Franc
39% versus Singapore Dollar
37% versus Brazilian Real
36% versus Euro
33% versus Australian Dollar
28% versus the Thai Baht
27% versus US Dollar
21% versus South African Rand
21% versus Polish Zloty
4% versus Mexican Peso

It has increased in value versus only the Zimbabwean Dollar ,
Ukrainian Hyrvnia and Icelandic Krona.

These figures represent just 2 years!!!
Still glad we didn't join the Euro when it was brought in???

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OOPS!


me & karen
Originally uploaded by PhylB
About 7 weeks ago Thomas and I found out the sex of Baby Baked Bean as part of the chromosome analysis following our amnio. I asked my close friends if they wanted to know too and Karen jumped in (as she always does when I'm pregnant) with a big NO. Karen always wants to wait for the surprise and with both Léon and Anna that was possible (with the others I didn't know myself). This time was going to be trickier given how much more everyday blogging and facebook have become but I refrained from mentioning the baby on either and left Karen in the dark.
Not telling Karen in person of course was going to be the easy bit, given she currently lives in Lancaster... piece of cake!
Then Karen arranged to meet me for coffee on Saturday morning when she was up in Glasgow for a flying visit. Obviously bribing the two biggies to stay quiet would be easy - there's always something they want, and Anna wouldn't be hard either given that when she is asked if the baby is a girl or boy, she always replies in Danish. So Pudge was going to be the hard one. I tried to explain nicely on Friday night that he'd to keep it secret, he seemed to get it. I took Marcel and Charlotte aside and threatened them with torture and death if they released the cat from its bag. So, fingers crossed, there'd be no problem.
Karen arrived with a lovely cake. I hadn't seen her since I got pregnant. I let her in, put on the coffee machine and she said:
' Wow, you're big, when IS the baby due? I don't think I know how pregnant you are'
, instantly I replied 'This is week 28, I'm due around the first week of January'. She then came back with 'my god you've already got Anna and Lots' birthdays that fortnight, that's not great timing' and I of course jumped in with 'Yeah all my girls will have birthdays within 2 weeks of each other...'
She'd been in the house less than 3 minutes and the foot was in my mouth... D'OH!

Friday, October 09, 2009

BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER

This photo marks a changing point in my life. I know that is hard to believe... it looks somewhat off-centre and insignificant. My parents aren't looking their best - mum looks bored at best and dad is verging on South American terrorist, but it was 1975. This is the first photo I was ever allowed to take. Back in those days you only took one film of 24 a year and that was to take in birthdays, Christmas and your fortnight in Whitley Bay! So this was a great privilege! I knew from the moment I first got to hold our Kodak 126 that I wanted to be a photographer!
Today in the garden Pudge asked if he could take his first ever photo. I was apprehensive. Our Sony DSLR is worth considerably more than the old Kodak and the thought of it being dropped on the patio terrified me! But, what if my Pudgeman wanted to be a photographer too? So I made him sit it on the picnic bench and left him to press the button. He is just four after all and I had been seven before being allowed to touch the camera. He definitely enjoyed his experience, taking more than a dozen (6 months olden days quota) photos in the 2 minutes it took me to cross the garden. He pleaded with me to let him keep snapping so maybe we have a wee clone (time to look out the old fuji digital camera, I think!) And the result? Better than mine by a mile, but then again, so is the equipment!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

MYSTERY SOLVED


Anna
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Across the road from our house is Bradford's bakery. Often I find paper Bradford's bags on our path. At first I thought they'd been blown in in the wind but even on the nicest summer day I often come across one or two. Given the local high school kids often pop into Bradford's for lunch I was beginning to imagine them congregating between our house and the neighbour's to eat their lunches - cheeky wee buggers - but had never encountered any. I was puzzled and have been for over a year... until today. Anna was riding up and down our path, when I finally solved the mystery...

INDIAN COOKERY

Years ago I bought an Indian cookbook. Although I like most of the recipes it offers and am planning to make a nice aromatic fish curry out of it this weekend, I have to say my favourite recipe in the whole book is the (Vegetarian) Cauliflower surprise. This aptly named dish never fails to make me smile!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

TEACHING METHODS


hol
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Readers of my blog will have heard me rant more than once about the standard of language teachers we use in our primary schools.
Today Charlotte came in with a prime example...
Sheepishly she asked me during her homework tonight:
"Cul in French is kinda like a rude word for bum, isn't it? That's how everyone I've heard talking French uses it..."
'Of course it is' - I replied - 'it is the equivalent of arse in English'.
"I knew that",
she said, "but my teacher says it means neck".
Being a native to French Charlotte couldn't even make the obvious Scottish phonetic leap from cul [ky] to cou [ku]. To her, despite her being much more reluctant than Marcel to vocalise her French knowledge, there was just no similarity at all between the two vowels that in Scottish English completely merge.
When are we going to realize that pronunciation actually matters and getting teachers this bad at French phonetics is helping no one?

EMBRYO PHOTOGRAPHY

Now here's a job I'd get satisfaction from! Aren't these just stunning?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW!


Spotless!
Originally uploaded by PhylB
The Pudgeman woke up spotless despite the Scottish climate today. For the first time since February 2008, his face is spotfree. Of course I haven't the slightest clue what I have done, so fully expect the next one to start hatching by Friday at the latest but it is such a relief to see the wee guy happy instead of watching him scratching and bleeding and distressed for once. If only the dermatologists could get to the bottom of it all...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

LÅG - A POLYSEMOUS PHENOMENON


Pen Lids Close-Up
Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie
Now here's an interesting thing for those who speak Danish.
A few weeks ago Thomas (in a moment of madness) bought Anna a set of felt tip pens. I have spent every day since picking pens off the floor (with difficulty, given my shape) and putting lids back on.
Anna can't get the lids off herself so has taken to walking over to you, holding out a pen and saying 'låg'. I assumed Thomas had told her 'låg' was Danish for lid. Anna on the other hand has interpreted 'låg' as something used to close something else. Initially, only pen lids were 'låg'. Then last week it became 'bottle top' and 'jar lid'. Next it became 'zip on Anna's fleece jacket' and finally today 'kitchen drawers', 'the roof on a passing bus' and 'hats' became 'låg' too. Of course, the part of speech is also changing simultaneously with 'låg' becoming a verb used to mean 'to close a door', 'to zip up a jacket' etc. Her logic really is quite ingenious and interesting to analyse.
I'll keep listening to see what else becomes a 'låg' over the next few days...

Friday, October 02, 2009

WOWERS!


Wower jammies
Originally uploaded by PhylB
This whole feminine thing is starting to faze me. Having spent nearly ten years with a girl who has a tantrum at the mere mention of a dress, I suddenly have the other extreme. Anna loves shoes and flowers but she's also starting to get opinionated on things that aren't feminine enough.
Two nights ago Thomas tried to put Pudge's old blue puppy babygro on her at bedtime - she sat sobbing the word Wower over and over as if the doggy PJs were offensive (though they were fine till last week).
Also most mornings this week after breakfast when I have said Time to get dressed she has simply replied with a determined tone Wower clothes. It is just as well the obsession is flowers and not something less common!
Yesterday with some negotiating I managed to get her to accept a pinafore with a teddy on it, but I do believe we'd have had a battle if it had been trousers with teddies instead of a dress.
She accompanied me today to pick up Pudge to nursery. Half way there we had another fit of hysterics - when she was finally comforted enough to speak, she managed to tell me she was distraught because she'd come out without her handbag! Bizarre!
As Marcel said last week: Anna's quite a girlie girl - it's weird - I've never really had a sister before!

HOUSING


A teeny wee house
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I'm not an economist but I really don't understand current expectations for the UK housing market.
Journalists are watching to see when the housing market will recover recent levels. This article suggests we are closing in on 2008 levels.
As far as I can see the UK housing bubble was caused in part by banks agreeing to lend up to six times your income on property, unlike the 2.5 times salary I was offered back in 1993 when I bought my first (Glasgow West End) flat for just £45 000 - a price which was not out of reach on a normal couple's joint income then. The same flat in 2008 would have cost more than £200 000 which was out of reach for a young couple just starting on the housing ladder.
I thought the banks collapsed and were advised (or was it threatened?) to go back to more sensible lending. If banks can no longer lend six times your salary, then average houses can no longer remain at six times average salary levels, they need to fall in line with lending or there will be no housing market - just stable prices with no one able to move. So why are journalists still expecting the housing market to return to 2008 levels?
Maybe we'll all need to move into teeny wee houses like this one!