The End

This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.

Thank you for reading.

Of Antenatal Classes and Other Adventures


Christmas was my benchmark. It feels like now that it's over (why does it always pass so quickly anyway?), the floodgates are open and anything can happen when I least expect it - I feel a little bit like a ticking bomb. And strangely, while until a few days ago I was still somewhat terrified of things to come, I am now suddenly excited and (mostly) at peace with it all. Eager, even.

Yesterday saw me get down to business: I've finalised my birth plan (not that anyone will really look at it... I believe it's more for me and David to go into this with a clear mind than for anyone else), and have more or less finished packing my hospital bag.

Emily is very active lately, despite the decreasing amount of space (tell me about it). David and I sometimes just sit and watch her (well, my bump) tumble around, and all I wish for is a little window to be able to peak in and see what she's really up to. I can't wait to be able to hold her and snuggle her.

For the record, our NCT classes proved to be invaluable. We'd heard so many jokes (literally) about the NCT misguiding women, and perhaps this is sometimes true. However we were lucky enough to have a rather unbiased and really lovely group leader called Rachel, who, despite of course having her own opinions about things, didn't force anything upon us and was more than glad to provide us with whatever information we requested. I'd recommend these classes to anyone who's expecting in the UK.

So there it is: As I end this whirlwind of a year bouncing on my gym ball, feeling like a small elephant and running (in the way a penguin would run) to the loo every 20 minutes, I know there'll never be another year quite like 2010!

Here's hoping your year ends positively, dear reader, and that 2011 brings everything you wish for! x

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The Feast

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The feast was a success! The Cranberry Sauce was impressively divine - and we of course have loads left over, which I am later on today going to try to make muffins with - watch this space! (Update: I never did end up making the muffins...) The Brussels Sprouts concoction was also very tasty - David even gave in and tried some, and he really hates Brussels Sprouts! The gravy, bearing in mind I'd never made gravy before nor was even familiar with the concept of how it's made (I was always simply served it until now!!), was also a success. Had I remembered to purchase a gravy boat, I'd have been that little bit happier.

The Turkey was popped into the oven around 09:30 before we sat down for presents and was really tasty, if ever so slightly dry at the core. Ultimately, it was my meat thermometer that let me down - I was sure it was done but the thermometer thought otherwise and I chose to listen to it. In the end, the thermometer and I agreed to disagree - I was so sure it was done that I chose instinct over gadget and wished I had earlier! Still, yummy.

And the Victoria Sponge, despite some mathematical mishaps on my part (of course) while baking, turned out really well and it was all gone by Boxing Day breakfast!

(And we're still alive!)

The day was exactly the way we wanted it to be: quiet and intimate and happy. We dropped by my sister's in the afternoon for a couple of hours and some more great presents. It was a fantastic Christmas Day, and it will only get better from here...

The Christmas Menu

I've a busy couple of days ahead of me. I've never cooked Christmas lunch before - we've always been guests at someone else's. This year we made an active decision to enjoy it as a family of two for the first and last time. And with that comes the responsibility of providing lunch, which if I'm honest, I'm quite excited about. I have some big plans but, assuming I remember to take the turkey out of the freezer tomorrow morning, I'm confident I can pull it off successfully.

Here's the menu:

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I'm feeling very efficient... Wish me (and David) luck!

Recipes: Fruity Mango Chutney Stuffing · Cranberry Sauce · Gravy · Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pine Nuts · Victoria Sponge

10 Days

Just ten days left till Christmas. Is anyone else as excited as I am? There are gifts waiting under the tree - I can't wait for Christmas morning when they can all be ripped open. Our day this year is going to be a quiet one - just the way we wanted it to be. Next year will be so completely different!

It's already been an excellent December so far. My family was over visiting last week, which was lovely. Unfortunately I've now caught a cold which has me feeling pretty miserable and yet very reluctant to miss my last antenatal classes. I'm holed up at home on a diet consisting mostly of chicken soup, and mugs of hot water with honey and lemon, and I've even given in and am now taking paracetamol (I'm terrible about taking medicine on a regular day, let alone pregnant).

Speaking of which, Little Miss Emily seems to be picking up on my excitement for Christmas, rolling around and dancing all day long. That, or she's firmly fighting the ever-decreasing amount of space she now has to move about in ;)

I am loving being able to make out her little body parts as she moves. Her tiny hands actually tickle me sometimes. It's pretty incredible. I'm dying to meet her. (...7 weeks...)

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First Wash

The other day I washed the first load of Emily's clothing.
It felt like I was eight again, playing with dolls' clothes.
Such tiny, tiny things ♥

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Single Digits

31 weeks of pregnancy. Which in turn means 9 weeks officially left until the end of the pregnancy.

Nine.

Give me a minute, won't you? I'm not panicking, it's just that this unsettles me somewhat. Nine weeks is nothing. I remember a time when I was 9 weeks pregnant, and here I am with 9 weeks left. Don't mind me, as excited as I am, I'm just having some trouble wrapping my head around it...

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*gulp*

My Pact with the Snow


It's snowing in the UK. And typically, everything has ground to a halt. Trains are majorly delayed, most deliveries have been cancelled, even the postman never turned up today. You'd think that after the amount of snow that fell last winter, and the lack of grit and readiness generally (anyone in Canada, Eastern Europe and other snow-ready countries, you may mock), things would be better this time round. But instead, things have ground to a halt even earlier. My guess is that the powers that be simply woke up, looked out of the window, saw snow, and said "Well, it's all going to fall apart at some point anyway - why bother?" Lovely.

Having said that, no personal plans have yet been cancelled (tomorrow will be a different story, I suspect). And although many people might curse me, I've quietly asked the snow to steer clear of late January/early February. Going into labour and being snowed in are not two things that ideally go together in my book, so if it really must snow, I'd greatly appreciate it getting it all out of its system now.

I know the snow can hear me.

Pictured is Zack, the younger of my neighbours' sons. I wandered over and took some photos while they were out playing in the snow. I so love this shot!

The Time Has Come

Once I get tired of summer (which happens pretty early on), the rest of the year is all about Christmas. I adore Christmas - it is without a doubt the best time of year. So much more than just the 25th December. And the time has come. I have slowly, over the past few days, been decorating the house. It's all so magical, always. The pace is much slower this year, there's a watermelon-sized bump slowing me down, but we're getting there...


I checked out my list of resolutions for 2010 the other day. What a laugh. I've done almost nothing. But for a change, I don't care. I'm not about to spend the next month trying to fix that. There was one hope for 2010 that of course I hadn't listed. And yet it was the one that did happen and it's the reason most of those other resolutions didn't.

David asked me the other day what I thought the best thing about this year was. There's no question in my mind - finding out I was pregnant, as many mixed emotions as it brought with it, turned this year into one that would always represent exactly that. It's barely felt like a year - I was so unwell for over 5 months of it. It feels like 2010 is no more than a few months old, and yet I don't care. It's been exciting and such a journey, and it's brought David and myself so much closer than ever before. And 2011, as daunting as it may seem, is going to be so completely different, I'm not even going to attempt to make any resolutions this year.

I just want to be a good mummy. I want to give this little girl as much love as is humanly possible. I want to see her grow and smile and develop the character already budding within her. I want to watch David melt whenever he looks at her, and she him. I want to hold her and protect her and be everything she needs me to be.

Next year, it's all about the little things.

Sneak Peek

The nursery is coming along nicely. It's always wonderful watching a room take shape, and this one is extra special. There are still a couple pieces of furniture we need to find (or decide on), but plenty of time yet...

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Speaking of plenty of time (!), I started packing a couple of things into my hospital bag last night. It's already looking like I'm going to need a much, much bigger bag than the one I'd initially (optimistically) had in mind.

Whale Watching

28 weeks tomorrow...

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... & starting to feel just a touch whale-like
(but so loving my bump!) ♥

Home Stretch

I've been a bit confused. (Admittedly, this is easily done.) Some books/websites/people say the third trimester starts at week 26, others at 27, 28 or 29. However it seems that 27 is the most widely agreed upon. I am going to go with that, and as today marks 27 full weeks of pregnancy, it also therefore marks the start of my third trimester.

Aptly marked by sheer exhaustion.

I will not be posting any pictures of myself today because I look a fright. I have dark circles under my eyes, my hair looks like a bird's been dutifully turning it into a nest, and ultimately, I just can't be arsed to pick up the camera. Why I picked today to wash our massive quilt cover is beyond me. I'm shattered from just trying to hang the thing up to dry.

In place of pictures, however, I can say that my bump has now shifted from a B-shape to a D-shape (something I'm quite proud of) and, as you may have gathered above, the glow I enjoyed for a total of three weeks is already thing of the past.

Also, Little One is as bad a hiccuper as her mother.

Officially, I am now looking at 13 weeks left of pregnancy. Two things. One: I can't believe I'm already at a point where it's acceptable to be counting down instead of up. And two: despite being uber excited to meet this little growing person, it sounds entirely too close for comfort...

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Changing Rooms - The Nursery

The nursery has started coming together, if just in my head for the time being.

So far, we've taken away the furniture that made up the guest room, leaving just the wardrobe which we decided to use in the nursery after all. The cot will be assembled this weekend and the dresser should arrive any day now - at which point things will start taking real shape.

But in the meantime, I've been working on some ideas for colour, content and style...

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It's getting very exciting, I can't wait to start seeing it come together. The spare room was the first room I did up in this house, and now here I am again, come full circle - this time as Emily's room.

[images/ideas via Ikea, Babies R Us, Mamas & Papas, Amazon, Nimbus Lighting]

A Birthday Thank You

I'm very childlike when it comes to birthdays. I look forward to them like I'm still about to turn 10. I love the cards and presents and it never for a moment occurs to me that the day should be a bad thing because it's making me older. I hope I never lose this childlike wonder of birthdays.

This year has been a particularly good one, and we're still just ten hours in. But this 22nd October is a lot more than just a birthday. It's a reminder of the huge change that's about to come.

So I'm writing this especially to thank those friends and family who have showered me with little bits of beauty and made me feel extraordinarily special. This year more than ever, perhaps, I've needed it. It's not that this birthday I suddenly feel older... it just means something entirely different. I know 28 is going to be big. It's not just a regular year. This one brings a baby and a whole new lifestyle. I'm looking forward to it but it's a little bit scary and my emotions, let's say, are not doing a really great job of dealing with it at the moment!

So here's a special thank you to my friends and family who've sent, in a variety of ways (in person, by mail, Etsy, Moonpig, Amazon, etc!), wonderful little distractions that have made me feel special and loved and supported and all those things that really make a difference.

Thank you for all being so special x

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Bird's Eye View

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24 weeks today. When I look down, this is what I see. Actually, I lie: I leaned forward to take this photo. In truth I can see far less of my feet when looking down. I'm getting used to my growing view, though not enough to not completely forget about it sometimes and then look down and have the fright of my life.

By way of a quick pregnancy update, this week things have suddenly gotten much better. Two weeks short of my third trimester and I seem to have finally gained the energy that supposedly came with the second trimester. Just my luck. But still, I'm enjoying the feeling of having a new lease on life. I'm getting lots of stuff done around the house and I even have more energy to meet friends and actually hold conversations for longer than half an hour. Always a pleasant change!

Strangely, my stomach generally seems to have finally eased up on me too. The heart burn which has plagued me for weeks on end has calmed down (or perhaps I'm just learning how to tackle it better before it gets even worse in the coming months) and I'm managing to eat and enjoy a larger variety of things without worrying that I'll be hugging the toilet bowl as a result.

I am having crazy fruit cravings. Not crazy as in strange fruit. Just insane cravings for regular fruit. Case in point was last night, when come 9pm I suddenly needed mango and I had none to hand. A can of peaches eventually had to do (to stop me going out of my mind) until I could stock up on mango today and I am in fact snacking on some as I write. Nom.

I am quite pleased, also, to report that I seem only to have gained 6-7kg since the beginning of the pregnancy. The last 3kg seem to have come on suddenly over the last couple of weeks (a trip to Malta never helps). Just to clarify, I use the word "pleased" back there very lightly. It was not a pleasant experience to step on those scales yesterday and read the numbers glaring up at me. Had I been able to pay the scales to say something different, I would have.

As for Emily, she is about now developing taste buds (something tells me mango is going to be very high on her list of favourite food). She is also now officially considered viable, which almost feels like a graduation from foetus to baby in my book.

*pats tummy*

Foot Scrub

The time has come. I have had to ask David to give me a pedicure, because I can't reach my feet for longer than a few seconds without entirely losing my breath. Even just putting on a pair of socks can be a very uncomfortable affair.

Last night I asked him, very nicely with a cherry on top, whether he'd be so kind as to help me sort out my feet. My nail polish needed removing, my feet needed exfoliating, and then moisturising. I'd been putting off doing it for a few days because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it myself. It was great to sit back and enjoy a little foot massage. I'm not really the type to run off to the beautician at the slightest excuse, so this was a welcome treat.

He, of course, made manly noises about how unmanly the whole thing was, but the look on his face while he did it told me he secretly enjoyed pampering me. I certainly hope it's the case: it's not going to be the last time! As I see less and less of my feet, there isn't a doubt in my mind that there are going to be other things he's going to need to help out with. For today, I'll attempt to put on some fresh nail polish myself... but by next week, it might be a completely different story.

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It's a Girl!

Last Sunday, we held a BBQ and invited our closest friends and family. As I'd mentioned, the plan was to announce the baby's gender on this day. When everyone had arrived, we unveiled what was in store for dessert (pictured), and at the same time announcing that Bean is in fact a little girl :) (and then went on to have the BBQ!)

More on the fun maybe later, but for now I just want to say a special thank you to the very talented Natalie Gauci over at Snooky Doodle Cakes for her patience in making the pictured cupcakes! For the record, flavours were Lemon Curd and Orange Chai - and they were divine! Thanks again Natalie!

The BIG Scan

Just back from the BIG scan!

Following a few days of constant movement, Baby decided it would choose today to have a niiiiiiice long rest. The sonographer had a pretty hard time getting all the necessary measurements, and after an hour, gave up and sent me off for a walk. Cue ipod headphones carefully positioned on my stomach at full volume, and a bakewell tart. It seemed to do the trick. Back on the table two hours after our original appointment, Baby had regained some of the energy I'm used to feeling. We got all the measurements needed, declared Baby healthy as far as the scan can tell and sent us on our way. Happy faces.

And of course, we also now know what Baby is. I am dying - DYING!!! - to tell you all, but for a few more days it'll remain David's and my little secret. We were having a little get-together this coming week and, pretty much inspired by Maria Fe over at Layers of Meaning, we are going to use that occasion to anounce the gender to our closest friends and family before anyone else. I'll announce it here soon enough :) (Boy do I feel mean!!!)

But in the meantime, why don't you go ahead and place your bets? What do you think? Boy or Girl? :)
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London, An Elevated View

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When we first arrived in England, back in 2006, we said we'd do one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tours of London, but never got round to it...

Almost five years later, we used our second wedding anniversary as an excuse to finally make it happen. Last weekend, in an early celebration (our anniversary is actually the 4th October), we headed into London. We started with an early lunch at Wagamama, then found a bus and hopped onto it.

It was cold, but the weather cooperated. And it was lovely. I'll leave you with a quick glimpse of London - as seen from the top of a double-decker bus.

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[more...]

Ten...

Very exciting week. But it's not that that I'm writing about here. Ten years ago I was also experiencing an exciting week: I was about to start university. There's no denying it - even just the thought of that makes me feel suddenly old. Ten years? How am I even able to say that? It may as well be yesterday!

Fresher's Week was about to start. There were talks and meetings to go to, stands to see, bank accounts to open, and everywhere we turned, people trying to sell or make us join something. Typically, I avoided most of all that although I did open a new bank account simply because of the freebies that came with it. (I've always been a sucker for a good freebie.)

Soon enough, lectures started. I was all geared up with brand new stationery that always makes me feel fresh and studious. It worked for a few weeks. There were certain subjects I loved. Gender in the Media, Socio- and Psycholinguistics, ironically most Sociology subjects despite the fact that I was actually supposedly reading a degree in Communications with Sociology only as a secondary area. I was very confused throughout university... never really sure whether I was happy with what I was studying.

Don't get me wrong - I went into it determined to end up in advertising. It was as clear as day in my mind. I loved and still love the creative aspect of advertising. I hate marketing. Sure, I love the psychology of it, but numbers? No. Eventually it became clear that somewhere along the way, I'd missed the advertising boat and was somehow on a marketing boat, which I really didn't want to be on.

Still, I have no regrets. I made some great friends in those few years. And by hook or by crook, I got that degree and to this day I don't know what other course I might have chosen had it not been Communications, so I can only conclude that it worked for me.

I wouldn't say that university holds my most cherished memories. I know that many people say that it was the best time of their lives - for me that title is proudly held by my 6th Form years. It was 6th Form that was character-forming, for me, not university. But I can't help but smile when I remember how exciting it all was, looking ahead. Now we were adults, the world at our fingertips. No one and nothing was going to get in our way!

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The Calm Season

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Well it's officially not summer anymore. As I've made very clear before, this isn't a bad thing. I've always had a love affair with autumn. The crisp air, the need for longer sleeves (but not yet jackets), the beautiful colours. My birthday... along with another four family birthdays. Autumn always meant parties, presents, smiles. It also meant getting ready for school, which after a long hot summer was never entirely a bad thing. Fresh books, new stationery - everything made the idea all the more exciting.

Nowadays, school doesn't feature any longer. But it still means birthdays and family and parties. It also starts to mean subtle Christmas preparations - although the shops aren't being so subtle and already have their turkeys and puddings out, and pubs and restaurants are advertising Christmas lunches.

I love autumn because it's a season of anticipation. A season of calm excitement, when the world is toning down and preparing for the long, cold winter ahead. It's a season of spices and apples and cinnamon. It's a season of blankets and books and warm mugs of tea, outdoors. It's a season of loved ones and friendship and second chances. It's perfection, in every way possible.

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To Kindle or Not To Kindle...

I love my bookshelves. I love seeing them stuffed with books. I love the feel of those books, being able to flick through the pages and smell the paper. I've always been very unforgiving of the idea of an electronic reader, have always shot down the thought without a moment's hesitation. As much as I am a gadget person, that's where I draw a line.

Or do I?

Deep in conversation with a good friend of mine just the other day... she was one of my reading buddies when, aged 13, we smuggled Danielle Steel novels into our English Literature school books and, the rebels we were, read them during lessons. Until we were asked to read aloud in class and that caused all sorts of problems. But that's another story.

I thought she was like me. She'd never betray The Book. And yet, she's just ordered a Kindle. I was horrified and I told her so. How could she turn her back on the beloved book?

Yet within minutes, I was asking questions. What made her decide to do it? How was the reading experience? Was it like reading a book off a computer screen? Didn't it make her feel like a traitor? Like she was partly responsible for the eventual collapse of bookshops?

She was very patient with little old-fashioned me. She mentioned things like the speed and ease of buying a book and having it there ready to read within minutes. She mentioned the weight issue - she can carry around several books in something that's lighter than a single paperback. And apparently, it's not like reading off a computer screen.

I have to admit, I'm curious. And tempted. But I don't know if I could ever go through with it. I'm a traditionalist at heart.

My friend has reassured me that she won't be giving up books entirely and still intends to buy them every now and again. I guess that's some consolation. I still think I'd feel very "Brutus" browsing a bookshop, as I love doing so much, with a Kindle guiltily hidden away in my handbag... Wouldn't you?

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[image source unknown]

Kick Thump Thump

Lately, at around 10 o'clock every morning, I get a "good morning" message by kicked morse code. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon, my little tenant gets inexplicably excited over I can't imagine what and jumps around - a lot - for about an hour. I can still feel him/her moving around throughout the day, but these two times of day I can almost set a clock by... and they are the highlights of my day.

I am head over heels for this child and I haven't even met her (him?). But just feeling her little movements throughout the day has made it so much easier to bond, as I knew it would - it's just not possible to imagine to what extent.

When I'm using the heart monitor, she's mostly quiet until I start talking, or singing along to the radio. Suddenly the pace picks up. David even got to hear her jumping around the other day - nothing could ever quite describe that look of pride.

It just seems impossible not to fall in love with this little person who seemingly already knows the sound or feel of my voice. Who will eventually even recognise our touch on my belly. Who will, moments after birth, be able to pick out mine and David's voices over the other sounds in the room. It's not just one big miracle, it's thousands of little ones every day.

Can't wait to meet you, little one x

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By Popular Request

A few people have asked for Bump pictures... and I will gladly oblige :) I haven't been very good with weekly photos, mostly because there hasn't really been that much to photograph until the last couple of weeks - especially the last week, when I seem to have had two very distinct growth spurts. Last Saturday, I'm quite sure that had I sat there watching my tummy all day, I'd actually have seen it grow.

Here, ladies and gents, is Bump today at 19 weeks!

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(Please excuse the very pasty look - I hadn't quite woken up yet...)

My appetite has grown with the bump. Which is a good thing now that the nausea has finally subsided. I've barely put on a kilo since I got pregnant, so it's about time that changed slightly!

Today also marks a very special day as I believe I've just felt the baby move. I've been getting very impatient waiting for this moment and I can't quite believe it may have finally happened! Words can't describe...

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(From Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Lesley Regan)

... 3 weeks till we find out whether it's a girl or a boy!

accidentally, kle: A Brief History

It all started in 1999. I knew little about web design or html but my uncle spotted my enthusiasm and provided me with the tools. The rest, some would say, is history.

The original site was warringtons.net - it no longer exists. It was a collection of family websites, and it was my job to coordinate and actually get it all online. Unfortunately, by 2005 the hosting company closed down and warringtons.net went offline. A while later, electronic kle (e_kle) came into existence. The site is still online and will probably be left there until the internet gods decide its time is up. Feel free to have a look around (but keep in mind that it hasn't been updated since 2006 - a LOT has changed since then).

After the move to England, I felt the need to have something dedicated to keeping friends and family updated, as well as to provide me with a fresh start to the website project. And after much deliberation, accidentallykle.com was born and was mostly a photo album website, with some other information and a link to the blog, then hosted by blogger.com.

Over the next few years, my interest in the website dwindled. I still love the design element, but my heart was no longer in much other than the writing. So in 2009, the entire website became the blog, and here we are today :)


(the original header)

The name 'accidentally kle' only came to be in 2006. Apart from needing a change from the original 'electronic kle' theme, 'accidentally kle' seemed more than a little appropriate. My life has a habit of twisting and turning in ways I could never imagine. The name just fit!

As for the nickname, kle, that came about one night at a bar in Paceville, Malta back in 2001. Giselle, Tonio and I were seated around a table having a very inspiring conversation about phonetics (!!), initiated by Giselle who'd recently been studying phonetics at university. We decided to spell everyone's names in phonetics and personalise our cardboard coasters. And well, it kinda stuck.

The actual pronunciation then (and I've heard a variety of versions over the years!), is the way you see it: kle, like Clare.

The Last Day of August

On the last day of August, I finally got my summer. Do you ever feel that sometimes, one day can be everything? My summer's been rather unfortunate. I've been too unwell to truly enjoy it so it's kind of passed me by. I don't mourn it - I love Autumn. But on the last day of August, I got the one wish that I had for summer.

Four neighbourhood friends (Maria, Zoe, Rachel and Tajana) were due to come over that evening, to catch up. The day had been good - no pregnancy sickness whatsoever in addition to the greatly increased energy levels that I'm (sometimes) finally enjoying. I'd made my favourite soup for lunch, and later prepared some muffins for when the girls came over.

And somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that as it hadn't rained in a few days and wasn't due to for a few more days, I could technically take the opportunity to entertain outside. So I finally took the winter cover off the umbrella, set up the tea lights and lanterns around the garden, and the fairy lights under the umbrella. It looked magical, just as I'd wanted it.

We had an excellent time, wrapped in my little collection of airline blankets, chatting and nibbling away well into the evening.

The evening defined my summer. It was good company, laughter, yummy nibbles, candle light and fresh air - exactly the way I imagined it to be.

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Of course, Nosy Neighbour made a few appearances at the window... but then it wouldn't be an evening in my garden without that ;)

Scotland Lite

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Our trip began with a wedding in Preston. We missed the first train to Manchester due to overcrowding, managed the next one. We got to the hotel in Preston shattered but looking forward to the wedding the next day. Which really was lovely. We knew several people including a cousin of mine and some old school friends from Malta. I conserved enough energy to dance for about 3 minutes before I almost collapsed on my very high heels but was very pleased with the effort.

The next day, I paid for it tenfold. It was possibly the worst day of the pregnancy to date. And what made it even worse was that I had no bed to retreat to as we'd checked out of the hotel by 11am and were headed to the airport by lunchtime for our 5pm flight to Edinburgh. We figured we'd hang out at the airport, if for a rather long while, but at least we'd have access to food.

At 3pm, our flight was cancelled. At that point I think I slightly lost my mind. I was so unwell and was putting so much effort into staying awake and keeping my stomach from lurching every 3 minutes, it was too much to even consider another 3 hours of that until the next flight, at 8pm. So David and I took over a row of four seats in the departure lounge for the rest of the afternoon/evening, me lying down with my head on his lap as a pillow. On the plane, any control I had gained over my stomach seemingly didn't board the flight with me, and that was that.

So an hour later, thanking a very patient flight attendant and my bag stuffed with as many sick bags as I could smuggle out of other seat pockets on the way off the plane, we landed in Scotland.

After that, it wasn't so bad, but as I needed to rest regularly throughout the day, our sightseeing trips around Scotland could never be as long and in depth as we'd have liked. It is for this reason that I refer to our holiday as "Scotland Lite" because we did not see as much as we should and could have had I been feeling "normal."

But what we did see, I loved. It's been a very long while since I've been in a country that struck me as simply beautiful. Even the people were friendly and welcoming. The weather was not as cool as I'd hoped it would be - I was really looking foward to needing to snuggle up in a fleece most of the time, but as it was, a t-shirt generally did the trick! (The picture shows me feeling cold on the Loch, but that was an exception!)

A friend who knows Scotland well told me the other day that Scotland has two seasons: August and Winter... lol, I'm inclined to believe it!

Anyway, to name a few places, we stayed in a lovely little cottage in Callander. We spent half a day in Edinburgh, another stunning city - and another half day in Oban, where we visited the seal colony. So cute! We visited the Blair Drummond Safari Park and Stirling and Doune Castles, and another quaint little place which I will be spotlighting in a few days' time for my September Spotlight...

My final verdict is that it's definitely a place I'll be heading back to, perhaps in a few years, when the little kid can walk and hike, and we can really properly see Scotland in all it's glory.

A Pint of Milk


Sometimes, amidst all the crap that life throws our way, there comes a moment of goodness. Pure, old fashioned goodness.

Like when a young boy bumps into you on a pavement and takes the time to turn around and apologise. How often do you get that anymore?

Or like our taxi driver, who picked us up from the airport after a week away, and thought to bring along a carton of milk in a cooler for us to take home. Paranoid, given-up-on-society me had a discreet panic attack when she asked whether we were going home to an empty house. All sorts of things crossed my mind, why would she be asking? It turned out to be about a pint of milk, handed to us as we got out of the car.

"Have yourselves a cuppa and wind down," she said.

Operation NICE comes to mind. If only these little niceties cropped up more often...

Bump

Well as the days go by, and my mind becomes increasingly foggy, I am becoming more visibly pregnant. For a while there I forgot it would actually happen and then overnight, or so it seemed, I developed a bump. A bump that even strangers now acknowledge. It feels funny.

Yesterday we hit Bluewater for a spot of maternity shopping. It is unbelievable how utterly difficult it is to find a smart dress that allows for a bump and doesn't cost the earth. A very lovely sales assistant at Dorothy Perkins took me under her wing and suggested various options, and in the end I did find something suitable for a wedding I'm off to next week.

But I really am very pleased with all of the pieces I bought yesterday, especially the amazingly comfortable trousers from H&M. Saturday morning brought with it the slightly shocking news that I could no longer close the top button on my jeans and still breathe normally. Something desperately needed to be done.


Three hours of that later, I had used up more than my daily quota of energy and the rest of the day was really quite awful, as most afternoons lately are.

Today I woke up, batteries charged once again (mornings are always the best) and I made us pancakes for breakfast (I woke up literally tasting them), and then set about clearing out my wardrobe of everything I no longer fit into. I put everything away, hoping to see a day when I do fit into it all again. There isn't too much left, it really is quite daunting!

And suddenly, between the adorable Moses Basket I picked up last week, the sudden change of wardrobe, and my startingly distinguishable silhouette, the whole pregnancy thing now seems more real... and I may be sensing some panic coming my way!

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Just One Evening

I had such high hopes for beautiful evenings spent in our garden this summer. I dreamt of evenings sat outside with a glass of wine (though water would have done) with David, lanterns glowing with tea lights and fairy lights draped beneath the umbrella. Maybe one of us sat in the pod on a big cushion that we never ended up buying, swaying slowly. I envisioned having our little patch of brown filled with beautiful flowers and greenery, and music gently flowing out of the open living room window while we chatted easily and enjoyed each other's company.

We still get to enjoy each other's company. Unfortunately it's mostly locked up indoors, windows firmly shut because of my ongoing hayfever and more often than not, there's a bucket at my feet, because of the nausea, just in case.

It saddens me to look out at that garden, (even with nosy neighbour sticking her head out of the window opposite trying to catch any movement of anyone that might be worth gossiping about) and see it left unused. Brown patch still very much brown save for the weeds that have grown back after I painstakingly spent hours trying to get rid of them just a few weeks ago. Umbrella still closed and covered after the long, cold winter. And find myself wishing for cold again because I know it'll calm the hayfever.

Before I know it, the summer I so wished for will be over and I won't have had a chance to enjoy it. I hate watching it go by and not be able to do anything about it, except dream about the way it could have been.

I'm sad today. Disappointed. But tomorrow's a new day and the weather should be cooler. And who knows? Maybe one of these days, it'll ease up, and maybe I'll get even one evening in my garden before the winter's back.

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An Introduction

Well I promised you all an explanation for my recent behaviour and here it is.

For the last few weeks, I've been rather unwell, mostly in the afternoons and evenings. Unfortunately there's not much I or anyone can do about it as it's down to those wonderful things we know as hormones. (And hayfever.)

Lovelies, I'm almost 10 weeks pregnant. David and I are very very excited about it all and yesterday we got a first look at our little Bean, who seems to be doing very well, jumping around in there. We saw a beating heart, little fingers and arms and kicking legs and then Bean got camera shy and gave us his (her?) back.

So, here's introducing my upside-down little Bean :)



(Fingers crossed that my anything-but-morning sickness lifts soon to allow me a smidgeon of normality!)

Lines of Light and Dark

Last year, as summer came to an end here in the UK, I was invited to be a guest blogger on Biscuit in the Basket. This year, to mark the beginning of a brand new summer, I'd like to repost my piece here. Hope you enjoy it!


September 2009

England's not exactly known for it's sunny days, but this summer there've been a good few of them. Sunlight fills me with joy: It reminds me of brilliant summers in Malta when I was young. We lived in an old house which was over a hundred years old and had once been a guesthouse for the posh and pompous. Downstairs, our bedrooms, had been the maids' quarters. There was a little storeroom, which we used as a study. It was always so dark in there; I would run past it like a flash of lightning, day or night. Surely there were ghosts and other terrifying creatures hiding in that little room, ready to eat me alive.

We lived in that house for 12 years. Yet the strongest memories that remain are summer ones. I don't remember looking out of the window and seeing rain. It always seemed happy. Always full of sunshine. Whether the old wooden shutters were open or closed.

The summers were brilliant. Carefree schoolchildren, books forgotten for the three months of summer. We'd be playing in the paddling pool in the huge garden at the back of the house, when we'd hear a van hooting its horn and a man shouting in Maltese. The pastry man was here. We'd get out of the pool, pull off any swimming aids (clearly unnecessary in a few inches of water but made us feel like professional swimmers), and we'd run through the house, leaving a trail of little foot-sized puddles of water, throw open the front door, coins jingling in our clammy hands, and we'd queue up at the pastry man's van eager for pastries. He had the best ones: the long soft pastries with the white cream and the bright red jam. They were always delicious and we could never have enough of them.

Then one summer he never came again. And we never really thought about it either. That paddling pool always got filled with water though, even when we were technically way too big to fit in it, and when there were far too many friends trying to join in. Anything for some respite from that stifling Mediterranean heat.

Summers quickly came to an end (although our parents always found three entire months never ending!) and memories fast-forward to my sister and I sitting at the kitchen table, suspiciously inspecting our brand new schoolbooks. The shutters would be closed in a further attempt to keep out the heat. But rays of light still seeped in. The room would be filled with alternating lines of light and dark, all around. It felt somewhat reassuring: another school year might be around the corner, but the sun hasn’t quite deserted us yet.

23 Hours

In 2000, I got my driving licence. I was a couple of years behind my peers, but I'd been in no rush to drive. But at 18, and with a piece of paper to prove I could do it, my next step was to get my hands on a car. Thanks to my then-boss who helped to get me a sweet deal on a new car, I bought myself a Fiat Punto in light blue - a standard model as I could afford no extras and was already working 3 jobs (fit in around uni) to pay for it all.

The big day came and the car arrived. I went to pick it up with my mum and dad and was too scared to drive it home, so I made my dad drive. The next day, I decided I had to try, so I got behind the wheel.

23 hours after my dad drove the car out of the showroom, the car looked anything but new. It smelt new, it sure as hell was new, but it was dented all along the left-hand side, the mirror broken in 3 places hanging on a thread like a dismembered arm. I had misread the situation, misjudged the space and dragged the side of the car all the way along a (parked) Land Rover, in too much shock at what was happening to even think of stopping before I'd damaged all three side panels of the car.

I had no spare money to fix the car, so it remained... dented, a permanent reminder of that embarrassing day. I eventually started driving again (it took a while to get back into the car and trust myself not to completely wreck the car on a second attempt), and although the story is always a very amusing self-depreciating tale to tell, I've spent ten years driving terrified that it'll happen again, always leaving miles of unnecessary space on the left-hand side of the car.

But lately I've noticed a change. I'm not terrified any longer. I'm barely even scared. I'm cautious, sure, but that's probably a good thing. I can drive through a tight spot and keep breathing. Not missing a heartbeat, or two. It's taken ten years to get to this point (boy does that make me feel old!!!). I can't say I haven't enjoyed driving in the meantime, but it certainly offers the possibility of enjoying it a whole lot more!

I can't promise to drive closer to whatever there is on my left though - I might just have to live with that one!

[The photo was taken - by Cora (right) - in July 2005, after one of our trips to Bugibba for delicious pancakes!]

The Saturdays had the greatest fun...

When my sister, Denise, and I were at school, we learnt poems off by heart. Denise was far better at it than I was. She still remembers most of those poems to this very day. A while back, one particular poem that we really loved popped into my head. But, typically, I could only remember the first line and couldn't for the life of me find it anywhere online.

I emailed it to Denise, and asked her to continue it. Within minutes, I had the entire poem in my inbox (although she claims she's forgotten the fifth paragraph). Whenever I read it, it makes me smile, and I thought I'd share it with you today. I wonder if any of you have ever heard it..?

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The Saturdays' Party in Fairyland
M. C. Davies

All the Saturdays met one day
Each was very polite they say;
They shook each other by the hand
And had a party in fairyland.

They wouldn't let any Mondays in
And not one Tuesday at all could win
Her way past the supercilious crowd.
And Wednesdays - why they weren't allowed!

Thursdays could only stand in the street
And look through the door at the things to eat,
And the Fridays and Sundays pretended they
Didn't like parties anyway.

But the Saturdays had the greatest fun!
They played hopskotch and run-sheep-run,
And frog-in-the-meadow and pull-away,
And all the games they wanted to play.

And after they'd played and played and played
They had pink straws in their lemonade.
And the cookies and tarts were like a dream,
And all the Saturdays had ice cream!

I'd my doubts when I heard and you'll have yours,
But strange things happen on foreign shores,
And they say the best fête ever planned
Was the Saturday's party in fairyland.


Have a wonderful Saturday! x

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No-Bake Sweets

This evening we had an "International Ladies' Neighbours Evening", which I hosted. We didn't all know eachother and thought we should, so five of us met up and it was really lovely. I wanted to prepare some goodies and I thought of my Nanna's Chocolate Coconut balls. These sweets have been present at possibly every special occasion I remember since I was born. They're the simplest things to make, so I thought I'd share. No cooking involved!

What you need is:
- A packet of biscuits (Digestives usually)
- A large can of sweetened condensed milk (less 3 tbsp)
- 125g margarine, melted
- 7 tbsp dessicated coconut + some extra for topping
- 7 tbsp cocoa powder


First,
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Be sure to put the packet of biscuits into a plastic bag securely sealed before attempting this or you'll end up with more biscuit over your floor than anywhere else. Try to make sure there are no solid pieces left, you might need to sift through the crumbs with your hands to get it done.


Then, mix it all together.
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Once it's properly mixed up, pour it onto a sheet of foil (it won't be too hard, it'll generally fall out of the bowl in a blob) and put into the fridge overnight - or for as long as possible - to settle.

The next day, sit yourself down with a pair of clean, jewellery-free hands, a plate of dessicated coconut, and the plate where you plan to present these beauties.

Get rolling (each one approx 1 inch), coat each ball with coconut and place on the plate. Your hands WILL get messy, but it washes off easily.


Result:
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Enjoy!


I'll be taking some in to work tomorrow too... I can't possibly allow myself to eat the amount of chocolate there is currently in the house... or could I?

[Photos are off my phone: apologies for the quality!]

Four

Today is an important day. It is the fourth anniversary of our move from Malta to this beautiful country we now call home. I can't believe it's already been this long, and yet we've come so far and become stronger people, in a stronger relationship. Last year I wrote about the move in detail. I love remembering, it makes me appreciate the enormity of the step we took, and how perfectly we held each other up throughout it. And how much we've experienced since then, and seen, and done.

Despite how very difficult it was, I'd do it all again if I had the chance.

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One Monday Evening in April

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There's something about these peaceful April sunsets that makes me want to
flit and float (and fleetly flee, and fly). And take photos.

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They also make me attempt to eat healthily.
See, healthy:

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Which I then turned into something unhealthy.
Sugar... and whipped cream. Yum.

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(Well it's better than chocolate. Just.)


So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight.

The Secret Garden

"A garden. I've stolen a garden."

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Remember when I first came across my 'secret garden'? I haven't yet spent any time in it since it was unlocked after winter, but it's calling louder every day!

"The secret garden is always open now. Open, and awake, and alive. If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden." [Mary, The Secret Garden]

A Long Time Ago

I love old photographs. I've just managed to get my hands on digital versions of these two photos of my grandparents, taken about ten years after the second world war ended.

Ironically, the photos were also taken in the same place. (Wied Għomor, Malta)

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Maternal Grandparents

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Paternal Grandparents

Weren't they stunning? :)

I love the speed and ease of modern photography, but there was something so magical about photos taken back then. I imagine every photo to have been an event - the sort of thing you got dressed up for. I wonder what was going through their minds as they had their photos taken. I might just ask my Nannas :)