Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

For fear of this turning into a ‘Monster’ blog I thought I would post about other things for a change. Namely, what happened to my swim watch and the last, final, complete end to the series Reign.

About a month ago I realised that my Swimovate Poolmate watch had gone missing. Normally I am very organised and if I can’t find something then I usually retrace my steps. However, since having Monster (there they are again), I have been experiencing bad memory issues and as I continued to search for my lost watch with no avail, I went from slightly irriated to anxious.

I have owned this watch for over 6 years and it has been there for me helping me train for every event, so I have a sentimental attachment to it.

After checking with my local haunts, Eltham Leisure Centre and Charlton Lido, I had nearly given up hope and so I purchased a new watch because it felt strange swimming without one. I purchased the next model up, but went for the same look as I have skinny wrists and I knew it would fit, only this time it had a black face instead of blue. Luckily as I was part of the Channel swimmers for Heart Research UK last year Swimovate were, opportunly, running a discount for the charity’s swimmers.

Needless to say, the new watch arrived and there was still no sign of the old watch.

Then at the weekend, I was manoeuvring Monster’s trike out of the shed to pack the top section with some snacks for a trip to the park, because when going out with a toddler you can never pack too much, I checked the top storage compartment of the trike and oddly enough (mainly because I don’t remember putting it in there), there was my watch.

I was jumping up and down with joy which surprised‎ me as I didn’t know I could still jump for joy, nor could I be that lively considering I had been up since 5:00am.

So where this blog was supposed to say goodbye swim watch, it now says goodbye and hello. I was convinced it had been thrown out in a plastic bag I use in my swim kit to store wet items.‎ Needless to say, I now need to keep a close watch (excuse the pun) on where I put it.

In additional to swimming technology, I recently purchased a new underwater MP3 player. I have used several over the years and my favourite has been by far the Speedo Aquabeat (first generation), however we now have a very close rival.

It has flexible innovative memory wire on the headphones also they bend to the shape of your ear for a great fit under your swim cap (if you wear one that is). The sound quality is really good, I can’t complain (and I am the type to, trust me), clear large and easy to press buttons (particularly good under water), MP3/WMA/WAVformats, 8GB Memory, built in Rechargeable Battery with up to 12 hours of listening time. It is lightweight as one would expect, the dimensions are 36 x 51 x 19mm and the weight is 20.2g.

The only downfall, I must have missed the section where it says that it does not support Windows 10. Overall though, a nice bit of swimmers kit.

 Those who watch the series Reign on Netflix will have learnt that the ‎final final episode aired last Saturday. I didn’t actually realise it was the last one even though I know the story of the two Queens very well.

We, the audience, were approaching the point where King Darnley was about to meet his maker, but I was unsure where the Reign writers would take the series following Mary Stuart’s arrest. We know other things happened during Mary’s incarceration but the writers decided to end it and it was a very tear-jerking but also happy ending – contradictory I know.

I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it and if you haven’t watched the series at all, I strongly recommend it. If you liked The Tudors then you will like this series too. It is filled with exceptional actors, it keeps to the story we have in records (with a little creative writing in places of course), but if you want to watch an entertaining series that will invoke every emotion and will leave you wanting more then watch Reign. It will not only captivate you, but it will also remind you how far women and society in general have come, both in the British Monarchy and overall.

A few days after Monster turned one, the sun was shining and the wind levels were low so this meant the UK warm weather had begun. There was a high chance that it would be over in 48 hours so I took the opportunity to try Monster in Charlton lido which is my regular swimming haunt.

I have reservations taking a one year old to a lido at any time of year, irrelevant of the weather there are other risks to consider. For example, just because the weather is overcast, one can still get seriously sunburnt.

Like most swimmers, when I see someone enter the lido with a small child I am often prepared for screams, the water is after all much colder than indoor pools, but Monster gets frustrated with the indoor temperatures so I thought I would give it a try with the scope to come out of the water if it was too much.

My usual regime for this time of year (being an outdoor swimmer all year round), is to firstly check the UV rays and the outdoor temperature and I can dress and apply sunscreen accordingly.

I am olive skinned and Monster is blonde, but it looks like they may have the Foxhall skin, even if that is the case any outdoor activity demands the use of a waterproof respectable factor sunscreen. I use Ultrasun but it does contain alcohol, so I splashed out (excuse the pun) on a children’s brand which was non greasy, kind to eyes in case it runs, waterproof and a high factor. Whether you are olive skinned or not, you need to be protected from the sun’s rays, burning is not an option nowadays (especially if you are a Monster) and the water provides double exposure to the sun. By late summer I am always a lovely shade of brown, with swimsuit tan marks, which are hilarious but at least my skin is protected.

Given that Monster is nearly swimming by themselves, they are still not part taking in the level of activity needed to keep themselves warm in a lido, so the next step to consider is insulation.

Being a former Speedo tester, I am very particular as to what constitutes outdoor and indoor swimsuits. It is a personal preference but a normal indoor swimsuit is a one piece for a woman, and shorts or trunks (depending upon what country you are in) for men. For children this is the same.

For outdoor swimwear, you can then add full length sleeves or the zip up the front jobbies which are UV protected. For adults this is similar but we can wear rash vests and it has to be really cold before I will wear one as I like the freedom to move and I like feeling the rain on the back of my neck.

Speaking of the back of the neck, make sure this area as well as the ears are covered in sunscreen.

I dressed Monster in a long sleeved swim top and then a zip up the front long limbed suit over the top for double insulation. It was not insulated to wetsuit standard but it did the job. I am not one to become dependent on thick layers in the pool, if you can’t take the cold, don’t swim in it or gradually build yourself up.

To finish off, the outdoor suit came with a cap which Monster was determined not to keep on, as well as the arm bands which Monster is slowly getting used to.

A picture and link to the outdoor suit can be seen below and purchased from Amazon.

When we were finally dressed, which was a marathon in itself, I took Monster into the water. Normally I am fully kitted up in the lido, but as I was being a guide, I left the swim cap and goggles at home.

Before getting changed we stood at the front of the pool so I could see Monster’s reaction to this big bowl of water. As there were no adverse reactions I thought it was safe to proceed, my theory was correct as Monster was continuously intrigued the closer we got to the water. When we entered the water, the usual pre-dip excitement turned to uncertainty, but there were no tears, and after a few cuddles, Monster became animated and the arms and legs were going in every direction along with giggles and loud noises of excitement – which is the usual reaction to water.

By this time all eyes were on us. I was ‘that’ mother bringing a young child to the lido.

I did my usual temperature checks every few minutes by testing Monster’s back and neck. They are also very good in the sense that Monster cuddles into me if they get cold, which then results in my temperature dropping. When Monster’s temperature became consistently cooler I called an end to the session.

Not bad around 20-25 minutes.

Monster and I both have towelling robes with hoods, they are worth their weight in gold as a parent, child or swimmer. ‎My towel is a DryRobe (a favourite amongst long distance, outdoor swimmers and tri-athletes) and Monster has an over the head towelling poncho with the Marvel characters on (Monster is a fan of Captain America). I often pack additional towels but when we go swimming as soon as we are in the changing rooms I make sure Monster is bundled up I then put my DryRobe on the floor (if there is not a changing bench) and give them something to play with. I quickly get myself dressed and then get Monster dressed. By that point their temperature is nice and stable and so they don’t mind the few second of coldness while getting dressed.

Above are images and linked to the towelling robes Monster and I have which can also be purchased from online outlets such as Amazon.

If there is one thing I have learnt is that when you are wet your temperature can fluctuate in seconds, so after swimming it is always good to have warm clothing. For Monster I made sure the post swimming clothing consisted of an onesie and fleece jacket.

Since then Monster has successfully swum by themselves with arm bands which is great considering they are not even 13 months yet – proving that if you tap into swimming early you will most likely avoid stress further down the line…

…However watch this space!

So the countdown clock to the left of this page has reached zero and the code of “when I can next drink coffee” can be revealed. This does in fact mean that I can now drink coffee again (and include all of the other items mentioned in this post title back into my eating plans), and the reason why I couldn’t eat or drink any of the aforementioned was because I was carrying a little monster.

Monster was due on 2 April, was ready five weeks before the due date but decided to keep us waiting an extra 5 days and was born on 7 April. Now here safe and sound I am relieved to report, and so I have gone from the discoveries of what happens during pregnancy to the discoveries of post pregnancy and what one is supposed to do with a little human.

Our household schedules can be somewhat hectic. My husband and I work long hours, and we are both career people, so it has always been questionable as to whether we would have children, not to mention other biological elements that also needed to be taken into consideration. The decision in the end was made for us and in July last year I found out that the reason I could not swim the Solent was not due to fatigue or a slight bug but nausea – also known as ‘morning sickness’, which any mother will tell you can happen morning, noon or night.

While I was pregnant I kept a log of everything I was feeling, from the changes in my appetite, to my adapted exercise regime, to my general behaviour. I kept a record in the anticipation of publishing a book, which does sound rather pretentious as I have only been a parent for 5 minutes, but it was more for those who are in my position of being in a corporate city job and are wondering whether parenthood is feasible or just right for them. Of course this is not exhaustive to those that work in the city, you can be a career individual in any field, but I thought it might be helpful, as there are many women in my position who are perhaps tentative about going through the process for a number of reasons. Work is a huge driving factor but also it is trying to decipher whether what you are feeling is actual want for a family, or is social convention dictating you should have a child. The truth is every situation is different and no one should be judged for the decisions they make unless of course severe neglect is apparent.

For me, the pregnancy was very comfortable and there are tricks to ensure that is the case, there are also ways to ensure that one does not gain huge amounts of weight.

Coffee

Now being on the ‘other side’ I am surprised I haven’t run into Starbucks like an excited puppy, given that a tall wet Caramel Macchiato is all I have been dreaming about for the last few months, nor have I gravitated towards alcohol (it somehow just feels wrong so soon), and I am not sure I will get used to the added feature of baby monitors in my house any time soon – I keep thinking of the film ‘Signs’ every time the transmitter goes off!

My new book is called “The Perfect Brownie” and will hopefully be released within the next three months so keep a look out, it will be an entertaining read whether you are a parent, looking to become a parent, or just want something funny to read.

PS – the benefit about Monster keeping us waiting for a while longer meant that I would spent some time relaxing and finishing off some of the other books in the pipeline. They are as follows:

  • The Perfect Brownie
  • The Dragon Realm Chronicles “Imogen Clare” – book 4 in the series
  • The Attic

Before we get into the merriment of this next post, the horrific events of the last week in Paris need to be acknowledged. While the terrorist attacks of last week are still on people’s minds, I hope that Paris can soon begin to move on and rebuild. Until then thoughts are with the families of those who lost loved ones last Friday evening.

Over the last week a video did the rounds in the cat lover’s community on Facebook where it was suggested that cats hate cucumbers.

Here is the video:

So naturally I tried it on Noah and Nero. I then found out during the week that several other members also tried it out on their cats. Luckily my husband had been to visit grandma and she always gives us food, and contained in the oversized doggy bag this time was coincidently, a cucumber. My husband said I was more than welcome to take it, which I was going to do anyway, but it is always good to get the go-ahead, and after convincing my mother that since discovering my small passenger on board, and not being able to do a lot of things I could do before, I was not using this experiment as an excuse to alleviate boredom, nor was I going bananas, so she let me have a go.

The result = anti-climatic.

Of course I realised when testing out the theory of this video that my two bruisers don’t get scared by a piece of fruit, they get scared normally by my mother sneezing or dropping something, so like many other cat looking confused in pictures I have seen this week, here is one of my boys sniffing a cucumber and not scared in the slightest.

IMG_20151115_110741

Apparently the trick is to place the cucumber behind them when they are distracted like eating, however I also tried this and it still made no difference. It was somewhat comforting that many of the cat owners on the Facebook forum also experienced the same bewilderment, but this answers the statement that not all cats are scared of cucumbers, just a few with very gifted owners who know how to play a prank on an unsuspecting moggy.

The video that started this is trailing Facebook (courtesy of several members of the Facebook Cats Protection League group, myself included), it is a compilation of the snippets which are also featured in a Metro online article also from this week.

Oh well, maybe next time.

Nero and cucumber

Its been a funny couple of weeks, I’ve started a new job so my posts have been limited, in fact a lot of things will be until I get my rhythm back, so please bear with me please – normal service to resume soon.

The last few weeks I have seen people climbing up the Shard, been ridiculed regarding my thoughts on organ donning,  read about the tragic death of swimmer Susan Taylor and been involved in a few sexism posts (why does this keep happening)….  I have a feeling this is going to be a long post, so grab a drink and get comfortable.

Well first things first, I come out of London Bridge station one morning, and walk over the broadwalk to see a group of people looking up. They were looking towards the Shard, this could only mean one of two things:

1) Someone has hijacked the Shard; or
2) One person has looked up in the air and several others have done the same (the comical side-effect of having so many people in one city).

Well technically it was the first as 6 women from Greenpeace had decided to perform a live climb up the tallest building in western Europe. Rather them than me. This was in protest against Shell, and not so coincidentally the Shard overlooks their offices.

The women surprised many people with their spur of the moment climb, which included not just us, but window cleaners and Shard catering staff.

This was obviously not an authorised climb, and the women were taken away as soon as the police could find someone brave enough to go up the building and arrest them.

If you Google the story I am sure you will be spoilt for choice with the results containing the full story.

Just another day in London!

The second story over the last few weeks was a more emotive topic, and one that I think Kirsten is also posting on Lotus Uncovered in due course – it was all about organ donning.

One of my friends posted on Facebook that she had been watching one of the breakfast shows and they were discussing whether organ donning should become automatic, she agreed that it should. I on the other hand didn’t. I said its unfair to take the choice away and that the amount of unsavoury people there are in the world today I didn’t see why my organs should go to one of them – family is different. The world has taken a lot from me, and I have unfortunately been witness to a lot of terrible things over the years, I want to take my organs with me so at least I can pass over feeling complete, but I made it clear that this was only my opinion and that I respect others.

Granted perhaps I could have been a bit more diplomatic, and I will say now that I am not against organ donning at all, far from it, but I feel it should be everyone’s choice.

The rein of nasty digs, and high and mighty posts that followed was actually quite disturbing. I got accused of accepting organs but not giving (even though I had never said that), got called extreme, insinuated that my past problems were not a problem, got accused of never wanting to save a life and so on. This is the problem with people that don’t read anything further than their noses, they show their undisputed ignorance. It is also a classic example of electronic communication being taken the wrong way.

I had not judged anyone yet I was being judged and this didn’t bother me, I expect that from those with the intelligence span the size of a peanut, but it was the fact that they accused me of taking an organ for a child, or from one and not giving one – when I never mentioned that at all. Anyway I don’t have kids so why assume that I do or that I ever will?!?

Even so it was the typical, rural type banding together on Facebook, until one solitary man was brave enough to chip in. He said: “I think it should be everyone’s choice, I wouldn’t want my organs to go to a murderer or pedo after all”.

Surprise surprise, complete silence followed.

Like I said, I will never judge anyone for having an opinion unless it results in detrimental acts that affect me, but please don’t judge me for having a voice.

And for the record, when my time is up, it is up, if I am not willing to give then I am sure as hell not going to ask to receive!

The third story was in my mind the worst. Susan Taylor losing her life attempting to swim the Channel for charity. This one got to me being a swimmer, I know it also got to a lot of others in the swimming community too. So near yet so far, and so tragic at the same time. This is where you have to weigh up accomplishment over practicality.

H2Open Water Swimming magazine writes a very good piece about Susan Taylor and Jonathan Joyce (another swimmer that died recently).

http://www.h2openmagazine.com/editor-s-blog/susan-taylor-and-the-dangers-of-open-water-swimming.html

The fourth story is one that rears its head very often – sexism.

The Evening Standard published the following:

“I’m a success because I work so hard, not because I’m sexy”, says Nicola Benedetti.

An incredibly talented musician making a very inspirational point.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/im-a-success-because-i-work-so-hard-not-because-im-sexy-says-nicola-benedetti-8697130.html

I, and under the cover of Lotus Magma tweeted this article a couple of times, to the point the Evening Standard got in contact with me to ask me my views (this will be posted under a different post).

Not only did this powerful message involve opinions of others in the following day’s newspaper, but it goes to show that a lot of people feel the same, work hard and you get the rewards, only give it half and you will only be half of a success.

Several days later in the same publication, a story of Renault using sexism to sell was featured – I know Kirsten through Lotus Uncovered is going to feature this topic, so for now I shall leave you with this link to do a bit of pre-reading:

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/rosamund-urwin-why-do-admen-still-think-that-sexism-sells-8717089.html

This story annoyed me a lot!

On 7 December 2012 I posted the following as my Facebook status:

Can someone tell me why “Gifts for her” include perfume, shoes and dresses, yet “Gifts for him” include iPad, paint-balling and remote control cars. Seriously, shops when you advertise try and remember that we are in the 21st century!…

Being known for my epic status’ (e.g. they either go really well or horribly wrong and upset people), this post actually got quite a few ‘Likes’ which led me to think, are people thinking the same as I?

Of course in the office, as we often do, we mocked this. My colleague said:

“Yes Kelly, but you can have a pink iPad case…”

To which I replied:

“But I can’t have an iPad, that’s under Gifts for ‘Him’…..”

“Or you can have a glittery cover…”

“But I can’t have an iPad so its pointless…”

I find it somewhat disappointing and archaic that retailers still categorise the consumer based on gender. Granted there still is a definitive line, and not all women are petrolheads or into their gadgets like me, but still I know many women who would rather paintball than have a spa day.

Times have changed and shops should change their strategies so they don’t generalise but perhaps personalise more? After all everyone is different.

NB: This is not the only online store to do this, but the references for the above were triggered by some banners on buyagift.co.uk.

Beer here please! How to survive a beer festival..