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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dates Gone Bad: Camel Mike

As you may remember, I saw Marie Claire magazine tweeted about one of their bloggers, Lucy Robinson, and how she had been on hundreds of disastrous dates and ended up getting a two book deal from Penguin.  So, I set out to document a few my own.  It was quite hard to dwindle down but due to the feedback I’ve received, it looks like I chose well.

You can read week 1, Elbow Boy, here and you can read week 2, Posh Boy, here.  Now lets move on to week 3, Camel Mike.  Enjoy!

Some years ago, again with the friend who made me blog, I packed my backpack and headed off on a trek around Morocco.  It was when it wasn’t cool to go to Morocco and Marrakech hadn’t yet been discovered by hordes of Easy Jet tourists.

We thought we were brave and well-educated but in hindsight we were quite naive. That adds to the enjoyment of the trip in my opinion and I’m sure she would agree.

We got up to no end of debauchery on that trip: picked up on the train from Rabat to Fez by a guy who was our ‘friend’ (he ended up selling us to a madam in the seediest Hammam known to man where someone’s grandmother stripped us of our underwear and an old toothless woman repeatedly shouted “Tony Blair” at my friend, we were proposed marriage at least a million times, we were stalked by a man wearing a wooly blanket who took it upon himself to enter our hotel and find our room (scary!), my friend got married to the man who herded our camels across the Sahara and I snogged him under a camel blanket…which, I hasten to add she then repeated, to everyone, at my wedding!!

So you see, it wasn’t actually an arranged date, more an impromptu act of madness.  Nevertheless, I do feel compelled to set the scene of the hilarity.

A few years previous we visited a psychic woman who told me I would have a relationship with a man called Saíd. No way. There is no way on Gods earth that would happen. Foreign men just weren’t my thing (and now I’m married to one, go figure!).

With the psychic’s prediction well and truly forgotten, off we headed to camel trek the Sahara. It’s worth noting here that having spent a night or two on the edge of it, we were totally awestruck at how handsome (probably mysterious) the men were. We had found ourselves in a sand pit of Omar Sherif’s!

Mike, as he was known to Westerners, greeted us at our Auberge. Donning his white Saharan turban and his blue desert dress, he was a vision of wonder. He was the owner of the Auberge and proudly showed us around before introducing us to our camels.

We spent three days and three nights trekking up and down sand dunes, from one oasis to the next and even got caught in a rather frightening sand storm. Eventually we figured that we hadn’t ventured very far at all and had probably been going round in circles for the past 72 hours!

To end our camel trek on a high, once we got back to the Auberge, we sent a bunch of nomadic teenagers out on their bicycles to the nearest hotel to stock up on beers and vodka.

Considering the Saharan Tuareg are Muslim and supposed to be dry, they did a fair old job of necking the vodka! As did my friend and I. We were soon downing shots, passing around the shisha and causing an untold amount of hysteria in the village.

The Tuaregs were having so much fun that they didn’t want my buddy and I to leave. Camel Mike proposed to my friend and held a defend desert wedding under the stars. She However had her sights set on a cute American who had been part of our camel crew.

Very late into the night, Camel Mike took us on to the roof of the building to show us the stars. Pretty goddamn amazing to see how clear the sky is over the Sahara.

It’s also pretty goddamn amazing how I found myself under a camel blanket, one that we had been sitting on, that the camel had been sweating on, for the last three days, when the sun came up. I had no recollection of what happened in between!! Worse still.. Camel Mike and his Camel riding buddy were also under the camel blanket!! WTF?

As Camel Mike asked me “where’s my turban??”, the surrealism of it freaked me out and I scurried down to what should have been my actual sleeping place.

When I opened the door, I saw my friend that made me blog sprawled across a double bed looking like she had died and unwillingly come back to life.. “I’m so hung over, we are in the desert, with no water, I am seriously about to die!!”. “At least you didn’t sleep all night under a stinking camel blanket with a camel herder!” I retorted. “I know! I can’t believe you snogged Camel Mike!!” she said with every ounce if effort she had left in her body.

WHAAAAT?? I snogged the camel herder, under a stinking camel blanket! This readers, was an all time low.

So the moral to this story is this: never get trollied in the desert!

Oh, and by the way, although Camel Mike lived in the desert, he did have email. I know this because as we were leaving he handed me his business card (and Camel herders need business cards why?)…. Saíd.Camel@hotmail.com.

This obviously wasn’t his actual email address but note that his name was Saíd, not Mike. Our meeting was in fact written in the stars as seen by the psychic woman. I wish she would have told me to his profession, I’d have run a mile!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in London

 

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Save The Children: #BlogitforBabies – The Movie

The Build it for Babies campaign is well and truly underway.  The launch of the virtual clinic was last week and this week we have made it to HollyWood with a #BuilditforBabies movie.

The leading lady, the one and only Annie Spratt, stage name Mammasaurus, tells us below why #BuilditforBabies is so important.  Go on, make yourself a cuppa, sit down and have a look!

You can also check out the #BlogitforBabies website for more ways to get involved.

Related Articles:

Save The Children: I’m building it for Babies, are you?

Save The Children: My Birth Experience #BlogitforBabies

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Street Art: Love it, Don’t Loath it!

It’s not often that I notice graffiti to be honest. Well, yes, of course I notice it if it’s an eye sore but what I mean is I don’t pay much attention to what it actually is.

Today however I spent the afternoon walking around Brick Lane, the famous London street otherwise known as Bangla City, that houses a thousand Indian restaurants, colourful Sari shops and food stores that are an Aladdin’s cave of spice and flavour.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of Bangra sounds, my eyes were constantly drawn to amazing street art of women. Pictures were hidden in doorways, over shop shutters and in parking garages.

Check out some of these very cool images:

 I have walked down this street a thousand times and only noticed yesterday that it’s called Fashion Street! This is we’re the images began. The blue lady is a drawing of Lily Allen.

 How stunning is this?! I found this lipsticked lady on a side wall of a night club entrance. It’s a huge street mural.

This little lady was found on a garage shutter. She is actually really small and very easy to miss. Just look at the size of the lock to imagine it.

Hidden in the apartment doorway od No80 Brick Lane was this sad eyed little girl just waiting to be discovered.

And in the opposite street, in another doorway, hid her sister.

I was quite amazed at how I must walk around with my eyes shut, to have not noticed and appreciated the amount of man hours that goes into this street art. Admittedly I probably wouldn’t be so appreciative if it was on my own doorstep but Brick Lane is a vibrant, buzzing Asian part of town and somehow it just fits.

Next time I go out browsing on a saturday afternoon, I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled because I really enjoyed myself stumbling across these!

Hope you enjoyed them too!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in London

 

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The Versatile Blogger Award

I recently received an email from one of my followers advising that I had been nominated for an award!! I almost hit the ceiling with excitement!! But then I read on and realised it’s not an actual award but a recognition type thing from other bloggers.  Nevertheless I’m pleased that Ellie from Emerald Pie is interested enough to know a bit more about me.  Sweet.

So, the Versatile Blogger Award  goes something like this:

♥Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.

♥Include a link to their blog. That’s also common.

♥Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)

♥Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.

♥Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Without further ado, Grazie Mille to Ellie.  You have regularly left lovely comments on my blog, liked my posts and generally shown your love and support.  Ellie is also a new blogger so do go have a big bite of her Emerald Pie where she muses on all things Ireland, parenting and generally being a fabulous all round multi-tasking superwoman.  Oh, and by the way, she’s a great photographer – I for one, would love to see more of her pics on display *hint*.

My 15 nominations – which I hope you will visit –  for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows (in no particular order):

1.  Little Magic Bean

2. Older Single Mum

3. Sharing My Italy

4. MummyBob

5. Letters From Lady Curd

6. BubbaBabble

7. Making it as a Mum

8. MaPuce BiLingual

9. Mummy Under the Kitchen Table

10. Mushy Pea Sprout et al

11. Being Mum

12. The Jack Chronicles

13. Its a Mummy Look

14. Mummy Glitzer

15. Bibsey Mama

Flipping heck, that was tough going.  I tried to pick blogs that I knew are quite new so as to give them a little platform, blogs that I follow regularly and blogs that have made me laugh now and again. Apologies to any of you who have already had this award. And of course all my nominees are free to ignore my nomination if they don’t do awards.

And not that you’re really interested but here are my seven snippets of random information:

1. I have a guilty crush on Chicco (the Dancing on Ice Chicco, not Chicco the Monkey from 1982!)

2. I hate Liver

3. I’ve put on two, yes 2, dress sizes of weight since having my daughter 10 months ago (gutted!)

4. I can only wear underwear if it’s a matching colour, ie, black knickers white bra…No!

5. I can’t bake.  I’ve tried.  I’m rubbish.  I don’t have patience enough to wait..and wait… and wait.

6. There’s nothing better than a good glass of British PIMMS on a lovely sunny day.

7. I can’t stand having a bath.  Not that I stink.. I just don’t have the patience to “soak”.  I can’t lay in it.  Showers all the way!

There you have it.  A little bit of me for a little bit of you.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

My Italy: Liberation Day

Today in Italy it’s Liberation Day, Festa della Liberazione, a day that celebrates the end of World War II.  But lets not concentrate on the boring stuff.  What I want to tell you is that today, it’s also the feast day of Venice’s patron saint, Saint Mark, celebrated with a procession and other celebrations in Saint Mark’s Square.

So I thought I would have a little celebration of my own and share with you a few pics that I have taken over the years of Venice….my second home! Now obviously I think my own photos are pretty lovely, but if you want to see some professional snaps, check out Otts World. Absolutely stunning!

The Grand Canal just under the Rialto bridge -my favourite spot to watch the Gondoliers

St Mark’s Basilica, St Mark’s Square

Venice wouldn’t be Venice without a mask..

My husband is from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and when I first starting visiting, to be honest I was bored stiff.  I didn’t appreciate its beauty but over the years I admit, it has grown on me.  Last summer we picked the hugest fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s field next to our house and made sauce for the pasta.  We picked courgettes and used the lovely yellow courgette flowers to fry – delicious!  And the best thing is this, every morning in summer, I make my breakfast, a hot steaming espresso and I sit outside on the terrace, put my feet up and take in the view.

Not bad waking up to this every day huh?!

And when the day gets a bit too much to bear, I can just wash it all away with a nice chilled glass of white made from the grapes that grow in the vineyard at the bottom of my garden!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Cybher 2012: Meet & Greet

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be going to Cybher!! My head is bursting already with all the stuff im going to learn. My to-do list is getting longer by the day: order business cards, buy spare iPhone plug/charger, go self-hosted (debatable).

But first, here are five things that you probably don’t know about me:

♥ I’m still a bit crazy about George Michael. I hear the first beats of Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go and it’s like I’m a woman possessed.  I lose all control of my arms and legs – it’s not pretty!

♥ I absolutely love Branston Pickle.. Mmmm.  Give me a cracker with a good slab, and I don’t mean Asda’s own English cheddar, I mean a good slab of English vintage mature with a massive dollop of Branston (always chunky, never smooth) and I’m a gonna.

♥ I love love love travelling and I’ve been to some amazing places so far BUT I do admit I get a bit over excited at receiving my little tray of aeroplane food.  I just love it.  I love opening the little cutlery pack, peeling the foil off the hot food and storing it neatly under the tray so that all the wrappers and dishes dont pile up on each other.  I love the little tiny bread roll and the of course, the cheese and cracker at the end washed down with a miniature sized cup of English Breakfast – ooh its worth going on holiday for!

♥ I hate people who snort their phlegm. Its unnecessary and really really disgusting – get a TISSUE!

♥ My husband and I made the newspapers in Italy for having our wedding webcast to Brazil, Singapore, Dubai and the US so that our friends who couldn’t make it in person could attend on-screen.  We were famous for about a week 🙂

And there you have it, a few titillating nondescript facts about moi.

Do come and say Hi at Cybher, Im only new and could really do with a few wings to nestle under!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Save The Children: My Birth Experience #BlogitforBabies

On the launch day of Save the Children’s virtual clinic (Build it for Babies ), I thought it appropriate to share with you my birthing story in support of raising £1m to build essential clinics in rural Bangladesh. Was my birthing experience really so bad? In comparison the answer can only be no.

In 2009, I was told that I probably wouldn’t have children.  Not the best news to hear when in you are in your early 30’s and assuming that the next chapter in your life consists of wedding bells and nappies.  This happens to other women, right? Not so.

My husband said we could get a dog.  He meant well. Today, we don’t have a dog but we do have a baby!! Mother nature decided that she would go against the grain and give us a helping hand.

After a fantastic Italian wedding just outside of Venice and a romantic honeymoon at Lake Garda and Verona, we headed home to London with me feeling a bit, well, ropey.  After telling my husband that my boobs felt like a butcher had hacked them off with a blunt knife he whispered to me from the across the room..”are you pregnant?”. We both just sat and stared at each other.  It was the best wedding present we could ever have wished for in all the world!

Bambina was due on 22nd May 2011.  The mediterranean in her had other plans.  The midwife told me that “it” (we didn’t find out what we were expecting) was going to be on the large side so I should probably leave the place that pays my bills a week earlier than planned.  I did.

With three weeks to go, I walked up to stairs, I ate curry, I had sex (if you could call it that!), I ate pineapple and I drank raspberry leaf tea until it was coming out of my ears! Bambina stayed where she was. The due date came and went and I walked more, up and down stairs, up and down hills.  I watched TV bent over on all fours and bounced on that flipping gym ball so much that I’m surprised I didn’t give myself concussion!

Two days late, five days late, eight days late. Still no sign.  I remember going to the hairdresser and I was HUGE. The girl asked me when I was due and went pale when I told her “over a week ago”.

If I lived in Bangladesh I would have been working in rice fields until my waters broke, fourteen hours a day.  But what if my waters wouldn’t break? What would I do?  There is no induction, no help nearby, no support or advice.  I would probably go so late that the child would die and be born still birth by the body expelling it.  Or, I may die too.

I went to hospital to be induced when I was ten days late.  The first time I was induced it didn’t work.  I had some pain but nothing worse than a period pain.  I was induced again six hours later.  That kind of worked, enough that I had to put on the tens machine.  Which, my husband decided to play with whilst it was still attached to me, cue electrocution by birthing tool! Six hours later I was induced for the third and last time. Other women had been and gone and I was still there, being electrocuted, as you do.

I remember the sweltering heat as I walked around the hospital car park in my pyjamas.  Could I have done that if it was forty plus degrees? If I was in Bangladesh I would have to. I would have to cope, to work, to continue to raise my other children, mourne the ones I had already lost, take care of my husband, look after my house, well, hut.  And we think that we multi-task!  All of this whilst trying to fight the fear that the child you’re about to deliver may not live in this world for more than an hour.

At 10pm on 3rd June 2012, I was taken to the labour ward to have my waters broke.  The pain started immediately but surprisingly it was fine. Doable. Bearable.  After a few hours I was really feeling it.  After having to forego the luxury of a birthing centre because I was so overdue, I was determined not to have drugs.  However, once six hours had passed I still hadn’t dilated so the registrar suggested that I consider and epidural and santonin drip to bring the labour on faster.

I agreed and as soon as the epidural went in it was like angels came and tickled their tiny gold dust fingers all over my body and with one gracious little poof, the pain was gone.  I slept until 6am when the registrar came back for a check up.  Great! I had detracted one centimeter.  I was going backwards!!

My husband let out a shriek and the registrar lifted my gown.  I had swelled. EVERYWHERE.  I could barely move my hands or feet.  My joints were triple the size.  They almost cut off my wedding ring but I was damned if I was going to give birth without it on!!

I had a choice to make; wait a few more hours or go to surgery.  It was a no-brainer.  My husband looked great in the blue overalls, all dark and mysterious under his little blue hat.  It has been a long long long night, or two nights, and I was having severe convulsions and body shakes from the epidural wearing off.  My legs had to be strapped to the surgery table.

The screens went up.  The tools came out and the nurse told me that I would feel some pulling.  it was totally harmless.  I couldn’t believe we had reached this stage.  Within seconds we would have the baby that mother nature gifted to us and we held on tight for the next few minutes. Then, with one last pull, the doctor announced that the baby was out and all looked fine.  I remember wondering why I didn’t cry straight away.  They held the baby up over the screen but I couldn’t see.

“It looks like me!!” the Italian shouted, excited.  “But what it is it?” I slurred.  “It’s a …It’s a giirrlll….” and with that the tears welled and be both cried.  I was exhausted, drugged, emotional but what I remember the most of those few minutes was how happy my husband was.  I don’t think I will ever forgot the expression on his face.  Its like I’ve bottled that expression and stored it away somewhere very safe.

The doctor wished us congratulations and leaned toward me and said “just so you know, there is no way you would have been able deliver this baby on your own.  She’s not small”.

In the recovery room, she weighed in at 10lb4oz.  At 7.55am on Saturday 4th June 2011.  Healthy, happy and here.  Wanted and needed more than the air that I breathe every day. Loved with every ounce of our souls.  She was ALIVE.  If she was born in Bangladesh, she might not be.

The women in Bangladesh don’t have the luxury of being induced or of having check ups at a local hospital or clinic.  They don’t have the luxury of birthing tools, pools or centres.  Worst, they don’t have the luxury of holding their baby in their arms and knowing, just knowing, that they are all well and safe.  That from that day forward, everything will be ok.  They don’t have that luxury.

Now, with the help of Save The Children Build it for Babies campaign, the clinics will act as a safe heaven.  These clinics are a life line to a next generation of stronger healthier women.

So, you’ve spent the last, what, ten minutes reading this post.  Extend that by a further five minutes to check out the Save the Children website to find out how you can get involved.  Then, get involved… do something to change this situation. NO CHILD WAS BORN TO DIE.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in London

 

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