21st April: A beach bunny

Emily’s first trip to the beach was SO MUCH FUN. I was a bit worried that going to Aldeburgh beach on what was supposed to be the hottest Easter Sunday on record might be a bit stupid. It turned out to be a wonderful day, not too hot and as you can see it wasn’t too busy. Excellent.

As it’s a rocky beach my very organised sister brought three massive ikea mats to spread down. She also brought a blow up paddling pool and we put another baby mat in and lots of toys to (theoretically) keep the baby from crawling away / choking on pebbles. The rascal only sat in it alone for a couple of minutes but it was still handy if we went with her to avoid pebble negotiations.

I’ve included some Aldeburgh pictures because it was bloody beautiful. Alongside Bamburgh I think it’s my favourite seaside town. As well as the huge beach and pretty painted houses there were some good shops like Joules, Seasalt and L’Occitaine en Provence. Parking was pretty easy with lots of spots right next to the beach. There were lots of cafes, pubs and a gelato shop.

We just chilled on the beach, tried to read magazines (but Emily also wanted to eat them which made life difficult) and ate loads. I even let Emily eat a chip at the end of the day, she loved it the little potato head.

Love your bump

Have I ever told you about that time I got naked with Clare and nearly did a poo on her floor? If you know me in real life then probably, I tell everyone as it’s a good excuse to show off photos of my near naked body. I feel there aren’t many times in life when it is socially acceptable to take your clothes off and show people photos. Technically in this social media world I could do that daily, but so far haven’t.

Anyway, as you may know from another post I did the Daisy Foundation antenatal classes. Our class leader has created a little community for mums and other businesses which connected us to a maternity and baby photographer Clare at Austhorpe Photography in Garforth. I heard about the maternity shoots and didn’t think it was my thing, I thought I’d look awkward and not know how to pose. It was hot, I was tired and pregnant. Then a few of my friends did the shoots and started sharing the photos, jealous monster that I am I wanted to look gorgeous too.

I got booked in and was told to arrive ‘glam’. I am not glam. I went to the Bobbi Brown counter at Brown’s in York for new lipstick and blusher. The morning of the shoot I was booked in to get my hair cut and put into big bouncy curls. I even painted my nails and I neved do that so I was clearly taking things seriously.

The morning of the shoot I woke up and had horrendous diarrhoea. Being eight months pregnant I thought I’d better eat (you may / may not know that this can be a sign of early labour and I didn’t want to give birth hangry) so I had a banana. It did not stay inside long. Then the hairdresser phoned to cancel and I had to rush around to rebook. I’ll add that it was the hottest summer in 30 something years and I felt like shit.

I somehow arrived on time and ready. But I was all in a fluster. I didn’t want to eat nothing but I was quite worried about doing a poo on Clare’s floor so all I trusted myself with was little sips of lucozade. Anyway with lots of assistance from Clare she managed to get me into all kinds of drapey fabric and long sweepy dresses. My fear of looking awkward wasn’t an issue, I was of course standing like an awkward half naked almost pooing woman would stand but thankfully Clare redirected me.

But after a few outfit changes and poses we were done. I’m unsure how much photoshop it took to get me looking like this (I assume a lot), but I was pretty pleased with the result.

Just to mention that the packages now include all the hair / make up / coffee and pre photography chill time you want so you no longer have to rush around Garforth bribing hair dressers to take you in like a sweating fainty elephant. Excellent. Also you are all allowed to wear underwear under the fabric, I didn’t actually get naked.

I would encourage any pregnant women to get lots of photos while you can. You might feel a but rubbish while you’re pregnant but it’s great to have them to look back on and show off to your children and grand children.

Here is a link to Clare’s site: http://www.austhorpephotography.com she also has a blog on there and is on all the usual social media for all kinds of gorgeous newborn photos 😍

Battle of the (Hot Cross) Buns

Twenty six hot cross buns were purchased in the name of this study, not one bun was wasted in the making of this. The research project was thorough.

I’m not a traditional hot cross bun eater so this is a guide to the alternative Easter buns, however it’s worth noting that Cooplands have hot cross buns that taste like Christmas (4 for £1) so if that’s your thing then go for it.

Aldi Rhubarb & Custard 89p for four

Surprisingly good, I had low hopes as it’s a bit weird. But there are some satisfyingly large chunks of rhubarb. I’m not sure what the ‘custard’ is made out of but I like it.

8 / 10 – could have bumped up to a nine with more rhubarb chunks

Marks and Spencer Blueberry £1.60 for four

*consumed before a photo opportunity was possible*

I was into these, they reminded me of a blueberry muffin. Some of the blueberries hadn’t quite exploded in the baking so popped in your mouth which was a lovely experience. The best hot cross bun breakfast choice.

9 / 10

Aldi Salted Caramel and Chocolate 89p for four

I had such high hopes, I love Aldi, chocolate and caramel. The chocolate has a nice strong flavour which I enjoyed but I wasn’t getting much salted caramel out of it so I’m going to have to mark it down on that basis.

7 / 10

Marks and Spencer Apple £1.60 for four

Not just any apple, but Marks and Spencer Kentish Bramley Apple. In fairness the apple bits are rather tasty. It is nice but doesn’t have the excitement of the others. If you are a traditionalist who wants something a bit different but not too crazy then this is a good option. I however like a more exotic hot cross bun.

7 / 10

Sainsburys Chocolate and Caramel (and I can’t remember how much)

Good but the caramel bits were a bit too pasty and not quite as melty as I’d like. As you can see they were irregularly sized which made toasting a pain, I had to slice one into three bits as it was too tall to go in half. Not ideal for a hot cross bun. But still, wouldn’t say no.

6 / 10

Marks and Spencer Salted Caramel and Chocolate £1.60 for four

*consumed before a photo opportunity was possible*

I remember them being the ultimate in hot cross buns. Plenty of chocolate, sufficiently salty caramel and just the right level of stickiness. But the thing is that I now can’t find the little buggers anywhere. The three stores nearest me never have them in stock so they should get full marks but I can only give them 9 / 10 due to difficulty of purchasing. However they are the clear winner.

Feeling like a failure

Some days I own the title single mother with pride. Single mothers do everything and that makes them extremely capable and strong, who can’t be proud of that! When I read other women’s stories of how they became single mothers I think well done, you had a tough situation and you got through it and thrived. Not that I can say I’m thriving yet. Ultimately I just feel like I’m surviving and the real test will come when I go back to work almost full time and have to manage my time very carefully with a house and clingy co-sleeping baby to deal with.

But other days, to be honest I am embarrassed. I feel like I need to justify myself. I feel like I need to tell people I was happily married, as if to justify that this was a carefully planned and wanted baby. Given that my husband left me quite soon after she was born I worry that people think I am some very irresponsible woman who had a baby with a man she didn’t get on with. Maybe they would judge me more if they knew the truth, that I thought the marriage was strong but ultimately my husband didn’t. How stupid am I not to realise that?

The joke is that when I think of the single mothers that I admire, some of them didn’t plan to have the baby at all. It’s the fact they didn’t plan it and life threw a surprise at them and they not only coped but did a great job and didn’t let it stop them pursuing careers and relationships and happiness.

I wouldn’t judge other single mothers so why do I judge myself? Maybe because I am generally a conventional person in what I want out of life. This is so far removed from what I ever wanted or considered possible that I think I judge myself for letting it happen (not that I really had a say in the matter). One of the things I liked about my husband was that he was dependable and loyal and a family man. Obviously I didn’t really know him, people must be thinking that either I was stupid to not realise that having a family wasn’t for him…or that family life is for him but that I’m such a nightmare that he felt he had to get away from me.

At the end of the day I’m wasting time worrying about what people think as the famous saying goes:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do”

– Olin Miller

And ultimately since sharing with people that I am a single mother I basically have had an outpouring of support. So many women from all corners have offered a shoulder to cry on / ear to moan at. People I barely know have been so kind including generosity from friends online sending an amazing care package to people from my past I haven’t seen in years sending their love and sympathy.

I’ve always had the opinion that people are on the whole good so I don’t know why I waste energy thinking they would perceive me badly for being a single mother. And those that do probably aren’t worth having the good opinion of anyway.

I know a brilliant supporter of women who would be telling me to dust off my crown now so I guess I will.

For fucks sake men (a rant on emotional labour)

(slightly edited since publishing, with the intention of not being a dick)

The burden of organising many things is left to women, social commitments, holidays, childcare, appointments… most men even expect their partners to organise everything for their own family’s birthdays. They’ve literally spent every year of their lives celebrating their parent’s / sibling’s birthdays yet somehow expect their spouse to be the one to remember and find the perfect gift?! Seriously, come the fuck on.

I read a good article about this and the ridiculous story behind a woman’s request to have the house cleaned as her mother’s day gift. In summary he left it till last minute, phoned the first cleaner he found, decided it was too expensive and cleaned the bathroom himself whilst leaving the rest of his crap lying around the house. It’s totally stupid but exactly what many wives would expect from their husbands in the same circumstances and it’s fucking annoying. She ends the article saying “Our sons can still learn to carry their own weight. Our daughter can learn to not carry others” but REALLY, do we really have to wait a generation to fix this bullshit?!

And it’s not just the coordinating what happens, women are still doing most of everything! If you want to continue getting irritated then read this from the Guardian stating how in the UK in 2016 women did 60% more unpaid work and the progressive Sweden shockingly had 45 more minutes of housework done by women DAILY. Imagine getting an extra 45 minutes a day, the health benefits of using that to run / do yoga / have a long bath and meditate?! I mean I’d obviously not do that and just eat crisps and watch Netflix…but still it should be my choice and it would be fair to spend that time how I wish!

Yes single mothers end up doing 100% of everything in the house but at least I am doing it for me and my daughter so there is zero resentment. Also it is up to me what needs to be done, maybe we have a lovely hot homemade dinner then talk at the table or maybe it’s a floor picnic listening to Cyndi Lauper 🤷🏼‍♀️. Zero obligation for anything (above the obvious).

Yes my ultimate goal is to have another relationship, I like the companionship (not to mention someone to split the bills with and have sex with me). But the annoying thing is this seems to affect the majority of men and until you cohabit it’s hard to tell who is an expert in ‘outsourcing’ or simply assuming it will get done (and I think quite often having no awareness that it needs to be done). It’s a long time since I’ve done online dating but is there a checklist for ‘is able to book appointments, manage housework and remember dates independently’. It will probably be a while before I consider dating again but if this can be added in as a screening filter I would love that.