Wednesday, 30 July 2008

17 weeks

Mini panic attack just now. I was on the Blooming Marvellous website and suddenly it all became too much to take in. I have only the vaguest grasp of exactly what we need to get for the baby - nursery stuff, clothes, changing, prams, car seats, all I know is there is loads and I'm sure there are lists out there on the interweb and via friends and family, but it's just - overwhelming. Deep breath. Keep calm and carry on, as the poster says.

Monday, 28 July 2008

16 weeks 5 days

Bought some maternity clothes on Friday. I have to say it was a most unexciting shopping trip. Normally spending £200 on clothes would please me enormously but all the stuff I bought is very dull - the jeans in particular are hideous from the hips up, with lots of fabric panels and extendable buttons on elastic and the like. The fact they come up beyond my waist, Simon Cowell-style, is particulary noisome. Still at least they look OK from the bum down, and I can wear a top to cover the horrid bits. The next dilemma is what to do with the pile of ironing upstairs - it's full of stuff I can't get into any more. Should I pack it all away and forget about it til next March? Or, and sadly this is the likelier option, should I do it so I can stop it niggling away at me? Maybe I should wait til my 'nesting' instinct kicks in at 37 weeks.

Too many t-shirts

Whenever I get a new email from Threadless or howies, or see the new threadless designs on my bloglines feed, it’s oh so tempting to purchase a new one. Threadless is a lot cheaper than howies (being priced in $$ after all) but then there’s the slight eco-guilt of having the t-shirt flown across the world to get to me rather than trucked in a Parcelforce van from Cardigan Bay. But the threadless T’s are brilliant, all unique designs and limited editions and some of them very very cute. The ones I currently own are shown for your delight here, my favourite probably being ‘7.00’ which shows a little girl sitting under a cuckoo clock reading a book, lost in her own imaginary world. As a child I was very, erm, bookish, and whenever we went on visits to family or friends I’d always take my latest read along so I could plonk myself in a corner somewhere on my own, away from the grown ups and the other kids. Introvert, moi?

Howies T's are equally great - all organic cotton so lovely and soft, and also great designs. I remember the first time I bought one for Ali about 6 years ago, attracted by a piece in Marketing magazine about an up and coming Welsh clothing company who had a cool website and were still relatively unknown. The first 2 tees I bought him were 'Le Velo' (I think the Tour de France was on at the time) and a bright grass green one with white text on the chest simply saying 'Bill Hicks'. After the initial 'hhm, not sure about these, he was converted, as was I. In fact I'm wearing a howies sundress as I type.

Anyway I’ll probably continue to buy more t-shirts and stuff my drawers to bursting. Unlike Ali I am quite ruthless when it comes to chucking out clothes that I haven’t worn for 12 months or more but not quite so disciplined when it comes to buying new stuff… I do find it very hard to send a cool tee to the charity shop though.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

16 weeks

So, just had my 16 week midwife appointment with Marie. Everything was fine, but I had no idea she was going to check the fetal heartbeat! It was totally amazing to hear the little one's heart beating away like that, so strongly. That was one of the things I had a little niggly worry about - the 11 week scan was just miraculous, to see the baby move and kick and hear the heartbeat. But as I still can't feel anything inside me (and won't for a good few weeks yet) there's always that wonder 'I hope it's OK in there'. And it seems it is!

The weirdest thing was when Marie asked me if I was going to find out the sex at my 20 week scan. I said no, we'd like it to be a surprise. And then she said she could have an extremely good guess based on the sound of the heartbeat alone, and was very rarely wrong. Woah. That's some talent. It made me want to find out what she thought - but then we would have to find out for sure in four weeks to stop ourselves going mad. Now I'm in two minds again whether or not to find out!

Dutch adventures

So the last topic to post an update on before I get back to normal random journalling, is work. Well, it's been busy busy busy. After New York at the beginning of May it's been pretty much head down, though last week I was in Amsterdam for our annual international planning-session-cum-team-building few days.

Like Munich and the Alps last year, this was a really worthwhile trip (for the business side) and great fun (for the team-building element). After 2 and a half days of presentations, planning, and spreadsheets (we did also get to enjoy Amsterdam in the evenings, I didn't make it to the red light district but we did take a canal tour and eat in a few lovely restaurants) we drove to Muiden harbour about half an hour away from the centre of Amsterdam for our 2 day trip on the Pieternella - a 1912 clipper captained by old sea dog Matthieu.

Built in 1912 and hardly modernised since, it gave a very vivid flavour of what life at sea must have been like in the early part of the last century (men must have been a lot shorter for a start to get into the cabins). Matthieu was a mine of knowlege about all kinds of Dutch and European history and the actual sailing of the boat was fantastic, if lashed with rain on the Saturday. We sailed on the IJsselmeer, a massive dammed lake, to Volendam (very touristy) and then onto Edam, a beautiful picturesque little town only 30 minutes drive from Amsterdam. We got there too late to investigate any cheese-making activity but just wandering about the streets made up for that. A number of our crew started investigating house prices and it's safe to say there were future retirement dreams in some people's minds...

Back to Amsterdam on Sunday before finally getting home and crashing out late. It's wonderful to work with such a great bunch of people and get the opportunity to have a total laugh with them in a cool location once a year doing stuff you wouldn't normally be doing. Roll on the 2010 planning next year!

Monday, 21 July 2008

15 weeks 5 days

When these posts go live (when I'm brave enough to publish them that is) hopefully they'll seed themselves into the right order in the calendar. I thought it was time to start blogging my increasing bump though!

First off, pics (the only ones so far, until Ali starts snapping my bump progress that is):

The posts themselves will be short and sweet, but a bit more regular than the mammoth updates I've done recently. So, today was the first day I wore official maternity clothing. Thanks to the generosity of Alison the Isabella Oliver trousers were soooo comfy. I'm tempted never to take them off.

I also had a mild panic and googled whether my stinking cold (acquired in Amsterdam at the weekend) could harm the baby. Apparently as long as I don't take any drugs to mitigate the symptoms it's all fine. So my nose is alternately running and bunged up and I have a hacking cough. Getting lots of sympathy at work, though...

Second midwife appointment on Wednesday so I'll blog more then.

Summer holidays

A rather belated update about our holiday, and life in general over the last month. We've been so busy that I've had no time at weekends, no time in the evenings, and even less time on lunch breaks (what are these, exactly?) to finish updating the random topics I started about a month ago.

So. Holidays - can you tell we've been away? I was annoying everyone at work and most of my Facebook friends I'm sure by doing a daily countdown to holiday time before we went. I hadn't had any time off since last October (had to work over Christmas) and was sooo ready for a break. Ali and I went with Inntravel again after our brilliant holiday to Tuscany last year except this time we were right in the top left corner of Italy, in the Valle d'Aosta region slap next to the Alps. Our hotel was a gorgeous wood panelled antique haven with lots of cheese making implements strewn artfully everywhere and our room had a breathtaking view over wild flower meadows towards the snowy Alpine peaks beyond - truly beautiful. The Michelin starred restaurant was pretty damn delicious too and we managed to treat ourselves to dinner there three times, the other nights making for the Bar a Fromage next door or the local pizza place. On day 3 we took a trip on the cable car from Courmayeur over the top of Mont Blanc and over to Chamonix and I think that has to rank as one of the best things we've done on any holiday we've had together over the last 6 years - it was bloody spectacular. All the mountain walking we did in the region was great, and we saw chamois goats, wild fox, all manner of beautiful alpine flowers and some amazing waterfalls and mountain scenery. That is until Ali stepped the wrong way onto a loose rock on the Saturday afternoon at the end of our first week and ended up in plaster up to the knee for the rest of the trip. After a frankly terrifying journey in the hire car along windy mountain roads to the nearest hospital, during which I was containing my nerves admirably - I am not the most confident driver when driving somewhere I don't know, so add in an unfamiliar car, with the gearbox on the right and having to drive on the wrong side of the road, and you have one very stressed Kathryn - the x-rays luckily showed no break - phew - instead, a possible chip on the bone. As the swelling was so bad the doctors plastered Ali up and then we spent a couple of very slow days, while he rested it as much as possible and I ventured down to the hotel spa to lounge by the pool drinking green tea and reading my books. Lucky I'd brought five with me, eh? By some (un)fortunate twist of fate the weather changed for the worse for our last 2 days anyway so even if Ali had been fit and well we wouldn't have got that much good walking done.

Off to Milan on the Tuesday, another hairy trip down the autostrada for me to drop the hire car off before schlepping into the middle of Milan on the bus. The heavens opened that afternoon and evening so it didn't bode well for the last two days of our holiday but miraculously throughout Wednesday and Thursday we basked in 30 degree sunshine. Lack of mobility meant we couldn't do too much sightseeing but we did go to the Duomo which I found a total let down. Ali called it 'cathedral fatigue' and maybe he's right, but although I could appreciate the beauty of the architecture and the stained glass, and the little chapels and confessionals and the magificent altar were all wonderful, I didn't feel any sense of awe, respect, spirituality, call it what you will. I was almost. Well. BORED. Other than that, we travelled on the Metro to see the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, except when we got there (and not before, you understand, not on any of the posters or directions leading up to it) we found out it was closed for the summer. I mean, what bright spark thought that one up - oh, we'll close one of the most popular tourist attractions in Milan, for the 3 most touristy months of the year.

Then on the Wednesday night we saw Radiohead play the Civica Arena in the middle of the city. We managed to get in via the disabled entrance thanks to Ali's cast, and the gig itself was, as usual for Radiohead, amazing. The light show was spectacular (all done on low voltage LEDs) and the set was lovely - it was great to hear In Rainbows live now that they're a bit more polished in playing it than they were in Blackpool last year before it came out. It has to rank as one of the smokiest gigs I've ever been to though - even though we were outside in an old amphitheatre, the fact that every single Italian person there was chain smoking made it feel like the grubbiest of British pubs before the smoking ban. A mild annoyance to an otherwise fantastic evening and a great way to round off our holiday. Next year I think I'd like to try another different bit of Italy - maybe Amalfi and the coast. God bless Inntravel.

Kind of holiday related in that it wasn't our holiday but Ali's parents' and nephew Liam's, was the weekend a few weeks ago where they came to visit. On the Friday we took a trip to London to see the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum and then have a turn on the London Eye. A visit to Hamleys made it into the itinerary for some Lego purchases and overall it was a great day. We even went to Garfunkel's in the early evening for a meal, bringing back memories of my own trips to London with Mum and Dad when I was only a bit older than Liam, who's 8 very soon. In those days (oh so many years ago...) there weren't many other places you could actually go with kids and guarantee they'd eat anything, I guess. On the Saturday my Mum and Dad drove up to complete the party and we had a relaxing (and chilly) couple of hours on a leisure cruiser up to Oxford along the Thames before wandering round a bit and getting the bus back. The boat trip was nice, but took a looooong time considering you can drive to Oxford along the A34 and park up inside 20 minutes.

Knitting I was going to gloss over, as I've slacked off remarkably here. After finishing the tank top and sheep for Archie I got going on a little coat for him, which is age 3-6 months and going to be way too small at this rate if I don't get a wriggle on. Next free weekend (roll on 2-3 August) I'll get back into it.

Music, has been all about Radiohead really. After Milan we saw them again exactly a week later in Victoria Park in Hackney, having an exceedingly enjoyable catch up with friends Matt and surprise guest Susan who'd flown in from Toronto the previous day. Another great gig, but full of complete arseholes. The weather was great and a lot of people had probably been drinking since before noon, explaining somewhat the abundance of idiotic behaviour and general lariness. At least the Italian fans had all been passionate Radiohead afficionados, singing lustily along to every track - but you were lucky to even hear some of the quieter tracks at Victoria Park due to the crowd's hollering. There was also a Pimm's tent, which struck me as mildly out of place. Other than that, no musical exploits to note. We've got tickets to see the Gutter Twins in Oxford in a few weeks time which should be good and loud.