Thursday, 23 February 2012

#Once upon a time - Riding My Bicycle

Once upon a time .....

I rode my bicycle every where. To work. To college. And down to the local high street. For two whole years, I cycled the length and breadth of West London. Then Little A arrived and I haven't cycled since.

My two wheeled friend transported me on adventures through quiet backstreets and passed homes I could only ever dream of living in.

I loved my blue bike. I named him Malcolm.

I had all the gear; a helmet, waterproofs, gloves, cycling shoes and clothing for all seasons. I even had special anti puncture tyres; who wants to get a flat tyre in the dark unfriendliness of a cold London night?

Malcolm had two pannier bags, affectionately known as the paninis, that attached on a rail at the back, housing my clothes and hurriedly made packed lunches.

The route to work and college was pretty much the same but I loved that forty minute ride.

It took me down Uxbridge Road passed Halal and Polish delicatessens, and commuters bonded unwillingly together on packed, bendy buses. Then into the urban smells of Shepherds Bush, passed the Westfield Centre, and onto the quiet winding streets of Notting Hill. Who lives in these white mansions? I wonder how much THAT one is going for? What are those builders doing?

I once spotted Will Young walking a very tiny toy dog.

Everyday I relished biking up a particularly steep hill. The last few feet, I always had to stand up in the saddle and will my perspiring self to the summit. The top met a junction where I turned left to be rewarded by a peddle free slow descent around a meandering crescent, which, after a few hundred yards, met the rush hour traffic charging up and down Ladbroke Grove. Then through the early morning clanging and buzz of market stalls on Portobello Road, and onto Westbourne Grove, flanked by its designer boutiques and mouth watering eateries. Yotam Ottolenghi has a terrific cake shop there; the passion fruit meringue pies are unbridled bliss.

On to Paddington, where Malcolm and I ducked and dived through grimy car fumes, whilst angrily belling at yawning pedestrians with heads buried in newspapers, and eyes glued to android phones. It's funny how pedestrians can't stand car drivers and car drivers hate pedestrians. Well cyclists loathe all of the above and especially black cabs, who are the most inconsiderate of the lot!

If I was travelling to work, my journey continued onwards over Edgware Road ending in Marlebone. If I was on a mission to college, my journey terminated by the quiet canal side of Little Venice with its moored barges and chatting ducks.   

What I loved about cycling was the freedom to roam and discover. I savoured the muscular strength of my thighs and calves, and the air pressing upon my face, clearing my nostrils, before diving into oxygen hungry lungs. I became very fit and toned; my derriere has never looked so good.

I loved watching life go by; dog walkers struggling with yappy canines on muddled leads, street sweepers brushing away the daily detritus, lovers arguing, children walking hand in hand, buggies laden with shopping, and mothers chaperoning miniature ghouls and witches on Halloween.

But most of all I loved observing the passing of the seasons. There was nothing more exhilarating or life affirming than the sharp iciness of wintry rain splashing against my cheeks. Or the weight of a summers down pour upon my shoulders whilst sloshing through giant puddles. Or cycling through the leafy beauty of orange, red and yellow confetti gently floating in the weakened rays of an autumnal sun. Or watching the first shoots unfold, and blossom dancing in the fizzy atmosphere of a spring evening.

I will never forget one frosty December evening. I was cycling home from college. It was about 10.30 pm. The sky was totally clear. Stars winked and the moons muted light shone on the chilly roof tops of Notting Hill homes. I was about to cycle down that very steep hill but stopped to take in the view. West London quietly sparkled in the distance. Not a sound stirred. No cars or the sing song of alcohol influenced babble to pollute the silence. Nothing. All that could be heard was my breath and a whisper of a breeze that made silhouetted branches timidly creak. It was just me, Malcolm and the world beyond us. There was something so grounding, so solid about the stillness of that winter's night. Pure magic.

And now .... Malcolm is sadly rusting under a plastic sheet outside my flat. All my gear has been stuffed unceremoniously in one of the paninis in the loft.

I think it high time to resurrect my ailing bike.

Time to take to the roads once more.

So once upon a time, what did you enjoy (or dislike) doing, seeing or creating? It could be anything. What were you like many moons ago? Do you have a once upon a time story to tell or picture to share? It could be a happy, sad or humourous tale. The skies the limit. I've decided to turn this into a monthly meme blog hop thing. So do Link up below and grab the badge code ...

Once Upon A Time

Grab the badge code ...

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Mashing Up My Musings - and poo.

Its happened again. I have contracted the fear. The fear of writing. This week I've had the dreaded bloggers block. This happened before Christmas and it was so frustrating. I would just stare at the blank page of a draft post and nothing would come. I would catch a glimpse of a sentence or a vague idea and then poof, it would disappear into a mindless smoke. Gone. Nothing. And I'm having trouble conjuring the aim for this piece. I can't think further than the next sentence. I'm begging the kettle genie to grant me one simple wish; to confer inspiration to get this post written.

So please bear with me. I think the only solution to my problem is to simply get stuck in and tap out something. Anything. Can you hear the desperation in my finger tips?

So after letting my head meander I've decided that this post is going to be a mash up of a whole bundle of thoughts; some about my week and some about my writing.

Week so far .....

At last warmer weather. 10c feels positively balmy. Mid February is having a heatwave. I didn't cocoon myself in my ankle skirting Winter coat today. No, instead I fleetingly braved the outdoors in a jumper and brown fleece on another car trip to the local dump. The recent chill had deterred Little A and I, well actually me, from taking our daily morning sojourn to the local park. Not this week. On Tuesday we felt warmer air on our faces as I cheerily walked and wheeled a chatty Little A in her buggy to the playground.

Wish I hadn't bothered.

The local council had sprayed fertiliser heavily laced with chicken poo over the flower beds. Great for plants but nasty on the nose. For want of a better word, it was minging; my nostrils curled in disgust at the rancid smell permeating my clothes. I promptly covered my pug-nosed pecker with a particularly itchy woollen scarf; I cant remember the last time it was washed. Its funny how the stench went unnoticed by excited toddlers and pre-schoolers. They were too busy swinging, sliding and round-a-bouting.

The mothers though, including myself, kept obsessively checking the undersides of shoes and pram tyres like newly appointed detectives, for clues to the origins of the offending odour. Strangely the park warden appeared to be heartily breathing in the parfume de free range hen shit as if enjoying a nasal colonic. I didn't plan on staying long. I only drew one chalk picture of an abstrakt Makka Pakka which was an artistic feat given I scribbled it with one handed whilst using the other to cover my nose. Little A was only given 10 minutes on the swing and then we swiftly left thankfully leaving the disgusting pong behind us.

In the meantime .....

The super sized sort out continues unabashed. This time I turned my attention to the mess in the kitchen. Drawers were cleared out, surfaces decluttered and corners cleaned of accumulated dust. The living room floor became a museum to old pots and pans, a coffee peculator and a breville sandwich toaster. Younger Dad said under no circumstances was the breville going assertively decreeing, "every household needs a breville!"

Anyway I boxed up a whole bunch of kitchen items which are to be stored at my very helpful mother in laws until after move. I am rather pleased with my efforts. The kitchen is now almost ready as we prepare the anti-tardis for sale. I think the local dump will hire an additional skip just for our household junk since our appearances are becoming that regular.

Part of the kitchen now looking alot tidier.

Writing ..... 

I'm becoming a tad anal about things and embarrassingly admit to the following;
  1. I use an on line thesaurus when I'm writing. I have a mushy brain so ergo its not full of clever descriptive words. I need back up. 
  2. I read and re-read my sentences to the point that they no longer make sense so that I end up rewriting them again. This is rather obsessive behaviour.
  3. I have often re-edited posts after they have been published. Again, obsessive.
I don't know why I am doing this. It takes the fun out of blogging. Its probably the perfectionist in me and maybe because I've started to acknowledge that I am a writer of sorts. Hell, I've even submitted two posts to the writers section on Love All Blogs. That's a statement of intent.

I've also been thinking about my blogging voice. What does that actually mean? Do my posts strike a tuneful chord or do they fall flat, off key? Would I read my posts? I honestly don't know. Now I'm being self depreciating.

So far the conclusion I've drawn is that a strong blogging voice means a degree of consistency in style but most importantly an honesty beneath the writer's words. My favourite reads all have one thing in common; their personalities really shine through and I have a real sense of the person behind the post.

Kate On Thin Ice asked a very pertinent question the other week;

"Do you think you are missed when you don't blog?"

I like to think I might be missed by some of my regular readers in the short term. But there are so many blogs out there and I can't help thinking of that old saying, "todays news, tomorrows fish and chip paper."

At the end of the day blogging is about writing for me and me alone and if I can let go a little more of statistics, who reads my posts and approving comments, then this could evolve into a very fulfilling and enjoyable hobby.

Anyways bah to bloggers block. Next time I get the fear I'll just upload a photo.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bon Voyage Baby Milk - The Memorial

This is not Little A or my booby. It just
 adds a visual aperitif to a long blog post. 

We got lucky. After a 20 hour labour that ended in a c-section, Little A and I managed to breast feed.

Lying in the recovery area, I looked upon the delicate form of the naked infant wriggling in my arms and softly murmured, ''shall we give it a go''.

So I put Little A to my breast and she suckled without any hindrance. This, I felt, was my deserved prize after a challenging birth. I don't know how we did it. I didn't know what I was doing. The breastfeeding consultant at my NCT group had focused more on the cakes and tea than nose to nipple. Maybe intuitive timing had played an influential part and that we'd found our feeding groove without interference from over zealous midwives.

I think it helped that Little A possessed a strong sucking reflex from the moment she arrived. On the second day of her newborn life, a paediatrician pressed his index finger into my daughter's mouth and it promptly and unequivocally vanished. ''She's got a very strong suck on her,'' was his surprised commentary.

I feel very grateful our breastfeeding relationship started so positively. I know others who weren't so lucky. There was a woman in my NCT group who really wanted to breastfeed but her confidence was eroded by midwives determinedly shoving her son onto the nipple. Neither she or her child were ready and consequently the breastfeeding relationship never evolved.

Little A was always a nibbler never a marathon feeder. She adamantly refused the bottle. I knew then that we weren't going to be weaning at the expected six months. I actually didn't want to wean at this point. I always had in mind feeding for at least a year.

One morning when she was seven months old Little A accidentally sank her teeth into me. It was 6.00 am and we were co-sleeping at the time. I screamed in fright and regretfully pushed her away. My message was clear and she never bit me again.

The first birthday came and went and Little A's feeding and comforting showed no signs of abating. So I just continued with the aim of allowing her to self wean. I followed the maxim, 'don't offer, don't refuse', though in hindsight I'm not sure this method actually works, as Little A was persistent in her demands for milk. Still breastfeeding offered such a dependable security in times of teething and illness, and aided the healing of many a day to day hurt and frustration.

I've found breastfeeding my toddler a deliciously sweet experience and one which is surprisingly misunderstood by many. I've been astounded by the narrow mindedness of some at the idea of continuing to feed an older baby. They are called milk teeth for a reason.

One health visitor stared eyes wide in surprise when I disclosed I still fed my fourteen month old. She stoutly responded with, ''well we still encourage mothers in third world countries to feed for two years''. Another launched into a disdainful monologue about having witnessed toddlers climbing onto their mothers laps for a warm respite of milk and comfort. She actually crinkled her nose in disgust. I'd only mentioned in passing that I still breast fed. I was shocked at her attitude and ashamedly sank into my chair. ''If you don't like the offensive sight you can close your eyes love'', is what I wished I'd said.

I had some telephone counselling once for my birth trauma. The therapist seemed to have a rather pious view on the appropriate time line for weaning a toddler. She had weaned her children at around fourteen months. She suggested I should ''pick apart my reasons for continuing to breastfeed''. What? I breastfed out of love and because its quite frankly very convenient. Little A was only thirteen months at the time. Its not an unconscious sexual thing letting a toddler suckle, its simply a mummy thing. Anyway there is plenty of research to show that 'extended breastfeeding', a turn of phrase I thoroughly dislike, creates confident and independent children.

I'm digressing.

So Little A has just turned two and I have to wean her for reasons I can't ignore. In all honesty I don't feel ready. The thought of it makes me readily weep. I feel we are weaning before our time. Maybe its just me. Maybe Little A is more ready than I realise. I am going to miss the snuggling together and exquisite tenderness. I guess I'm mourning another necessary separation in our relationship as Little A flies into her rightful independence.

Still as much as I have treasured this aspect of our relationship I don't fancy the idea of Little A yanking on my jumper the night before her A'levels. A sobering thought. And although cute, I wont particularly miss her blowing raspberry's on my orbs or her current amusement of pushing my breasts together and gleefully plunging her entire face into my cleavage. Nor will I miss my daughter's ironic demands for the 'udder one too', so that I'm forced to sit like a milk churning cow with both my boobs dangling out. And I certainly won't miss nursing bras! Maybe I am more ready than I realise .....

Wish me luck and bon voyage as I set sail on the weaning adventure. I'll let you know how I get on!

I'm linking this post up with Kate On Thin Ice's inspirational Groovy Mums as I am making BIG changes in my life.

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Monday, 6 February 2012

Britmums Live 2012 Meet And Greet

In 2009  I committed to marrying and spending my life with Younger Dad.

In 2010 I made a commitment to a then new born Little A to be her mummy until the day I'm baked in a crematorium oven and my ashes scattered over some unsuspecting shrubbery.

For some bizarre reason I'm now thinking of the Blue Peter garden. Does it still exist? They buried a dog there didn't they? Was it Petra or Shep? I wonder if its spectre haunts the corridors of the BBC in search of a final 'get down' from John Noakes and one last studio canteen doggy dinner? Walk towards the light ghost dog, where an eternity of Pedigree Chum and Blue Peter Gold Badge awaits you ........

That was random.

Anyways in 2011 I started a blog.

Then in 2012 I committed to going to Britmums Live.

I'm rather nervous; this is my first blogging conference EVER.

Please be gentle. I have a nice smile!

Name: Older Mum

Blog: Older Mum (In a Muddle) AND Older Mum - A Supportive Resource for Mothers Over 35

Twitter ID: @older_mum

Height: 5ft nothing - I was the smallest in my class but still reassuringly taller than the Pontipines.

Hair: A shoulder length mess of mousy brown, darker brown, hints of blond interspersed with flecks of silver. The silver is winning. Praise be hair dyes.

Eyes: Blue - no messin!

Likes: Custard, chi lattes, pug dogs, most exports from HBO (Lost, In Treatment, True Blood), hot baths, face creams, earl grey tea, cake, psychology, Mr Pontipine's moustache, fresh air, tai chi and yoga (when I can be bothered).

Dislikes: Intolerance and ignorance of mental illness, rudeness, marmite (meconiam in a jar), bin juice, the Wottingers, and Baby Jake - goggy-gi-ya!

I wont be coming in a swimming costume!

Ps. The Blue Peter Garden does still exist but now resides on top of a television studios roof in Manchester. Cant imagine it'll have an Italian sunken garden. Thankyou Wikipedia.

I’m going to BritMums Live

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Another Sunday morning approaches the vacant streets of Willesden Green.

The first hint of dawn bathes a ground floor bedroom in pale blue light dispelling the sepia tones imprinted by the street lamps the night before.

Outside a pigeon's rhythmic cooing is momentarily muted by the thump, THUmp, THUMP of a car's sound system pounding down the oblivious street.

Only the window panes rattle in protest.

Inside the bedroom, the sun's fingers curl around the curtain gaps and stroke the outdated furnishings and records crammed on flimsy DIY shelves.

Shadows tango on the wall above the queen sized divan.

Yet the couple's slumber remains untouched by the gentle intrusion of this Summer morning.

She briefly stirs feeling secure in the awareness of her partner sleeping beside her.

Then out of the silence a harsh damnation ....

''Fucking Bitch''

She startles; heart beats coalesce in her tightening throat. Regaining her breath she prods her partner in the back. No movement. His sleep continues unshaken. Uninvited thoughts flood her vulnerable mind. Is he talking about me? I thought we were happy? What have I done wrong? He hates women ....

And then ....


Fold? Confused and trying not to laugh she resettles herself under the duvet and dozes in a warm reassurance until the jarring sound of the alarm awakens both of them.

It transpires that Younger Dad had been dreaming about a particularly frustrating poker game. One in which he had been roundly beaten by a female opponent.

The Relief.

Does your partner talk in their sleep?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bon Voyage Baby Milk - The Reason

My boobies are tenacious grafters. 'A' graders no less. They thoroughly deserve an honorary doctorate, ney an OBE,for their valiant and tireless efforts summoning milk for my little girl.

Sat at my humble kitchen table I wistfully picture the queen knighting the hefty contents of my nursing bra for their lactating services to her royal highness' kingdom. This honour would, of course, be duly bestowed upon me at a refined, yet thoroughly indulgent high tea and victoria sponged affair, set amongst the pungent greenery of her back yard, and in the company of her upper, upper class chums, and the Middletons. Elton John and the Beckhams are thank fully nowhere to be seen.

The thing is, as much as my boobies have a penchant for creating unlimited reserves of Gold Top, I need to turn the holy grail of milk OFF.

You see I've been breastfeeding Little A for two years and it's now with very mixed emotions that I need to stop. I say need as I'm very certain that there is a link between my constantly fluctuating emotional state and breastfeeding.

I've always laboured under the illusion that breastfeeding protects against depression. I think by and large this is true, especially during the first six months when levels of the bonding hormone, oxytocin, remain high. But this is not necessarily the case if you possess an intolerance to the other hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

I've recently discovered,  backed up by my GP's opinion, that I've a sensitivity to the hormone, progesterone. After some research I uncovered that a sensitivity to progesterone reduces levels of the feel good hormone, serotonin, and increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is an unwelcome recipe for restless sleep, mood swings, depression, aggression and all manner of unpleasant personality traits. And this has been me, on and off, for that last two years. Sound grand company don't I?

Upon reflection I clearly see that I've suffered from the effects of raised progesterone levels before my period and during pregnancy. I've always experienced PMT, I once became very teary within days of taking a progesterone dominant contraceptive pill and then experienced almost borderline psychotic depression during my first trimester of pregnancy. And according to my informative GP hormone levels remain raised throughout breastfeeding. So I need to stop. I want to see if the effect of milk free breasts helps obliterate the storm clouds I've been toiling under.

So the plan is this .....
  • Wean over the next month (have called in the A-Team)
  • Wait a month to see the effect on my mood
  • Have some homoeopathy and acupuncture to re balance hormone levels 
  • Exercise 
  • If none of the above work I may need a course of anti depressants or St Johns Wort
*HRH and #grooving mums will be proud of my efforts . I'm expecting a knighthood Liz.

So is there anyone else out there at the mercy of their hormones?

*I would like to make it quite clear I am not a royalist but would be partial to a few cakes and cups of earl grey on her majesty's finely trimmed lawn. Beats sweaty Starbucks any day.

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