Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Pleasant Walk, a Pleasant Talk, would be a Sheer Delight!

Went to Rottingdean to take a walk by the sea. I did test out the water, which was freezing as expected, and managed to get a bit sunburnt as we wandered along with our ice-creams.

Then back for a yummy BBQ lunch before Charlie, Penny and I headed back to London. After a bit of bustling and some house jobs, we went round to Andrew's to see him, Alex and Norris.

Norris was a lady-president after playing 'Run for President' and I came a very firm last with no states, but I brought it back with a win at Dixit afterwards ... yay!

Then Matty came to join us, as he was staying overnight with us.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bright in Brighton

After letting Charlie have a bit of a lie-in, as he was out till 3am, we headed down to Brighton to spend the night with his Mum and Demetris.

Was great to be there in the sunny garden, though Penny had a big crying fit as soon as we arrived. Yet another sign that teeth are on their way, though we will not hold our breath. Once it was all over she was as good as gold, but unnerving that she has these 'episodes' now. But I was pleased to have the run of the house for her to cry in, rather than being on a train or a plane.

Helped Erika and Dan compile their wedding album with 'sticky sticks', then we had a relaxing meal of Moussaka before bed.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Picnic in the Park

Met up with a variety of my colleagues in Regents Park for a picnic with the various babies who mean that we are all on maternity leave, and Zoe who is imminently expecting.

Was lovely to chat and eat and drink together, though the weather did start to get a bit chilly. And the little ones all were very good. And I saw the pushchair that I have now ordered as it looked so brilliant, the Baby Jogger City Mini!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Manchester Bound

P and I spent a lovely day with my old uni friend Tor and her daughter Orla up in Manchester. P slept all the way up, and was pretty chilled out all day.

We sat, ate lots, chatted lots, and strolled around Manchester talking about babies and Tor's impending return to work. Was lovely to see her again, and Orla is ever more advanced, wide eyed and toothy.

A bit delayed on the return home due to a broken train in front, but Penny managed it ok.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Secret Gardening

Left on Thursday with Andrew and Becky to go to our third Secret Garden Party festival in Cambs. Always eclectic and fun, with a variety of music and entertainments, this was always going to be a different experience with a 16 week old baby in tow. But we were determined to give it a go, and we were very pleased we did. There were some challenges when she had a couple of screaming fits, seemingly the beginnings of teething as her cheeks were v red, she wouldn't feed and could not be calmed. But they were fortunately kept to a minimum, and she was generally happy and amused, or asleep and docile.

Highlights included:
- The upside down bicycle (see below).
- Jake Morley in the Living Room tent, whose CD we listened to all the way home.
- Cuddling Penny through the night to make sure she was cosy and warm in our big blue tent.
- Spectacular food as usual, from 'Strumpets with Crumpets' to toffee, cream and spiced apple oatcakes and an enormous mezze platter to name but a few.
- Massages a plenty
- Penny in her Tigger Suit, making friends with all the many grown up tigers

Penny a little out of sorts on our return, she was on our return from Greece too, so perhaps she is just settling back in. And now she is fast asleep, hopefully dreaming of Cambridgeshire fields, our tent of cobalt blue, and fresh clean air!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Granny & Grandad

Met Mum and Dad at Kings Cross, and we went straight to the British Library so they could have a quick cuddle with Penny underneath the auspices of the statue of William Blake's Newton.

Then to the Dirt exhibition at the Wellcome collection, which was interesting, if a little gross (big tablets of compressed poo) and occasionally disturbing (how the German fascination with cleanliness developed into racism and genocide).

Then back to Brixton where we had cake and tea, watched the bizarre and irritating Murdochs explain themselves out of the catalogue of ignorance and morally bankrupt errors that consitute the phone hacking scandal, then briefly fit in some time to look through David and Justina's wedding pics before they headed back up to Lincolnshire.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Camberwell Cream Teas

A morning of writing, making some more progress against my schedule on the book. It would be very satisfying to complete it while I am on maternity leave, but there is still a lot to do. I am on about 30,000 words now, so it needs to be at least double that really. Though at least, after Charlie kindly read through it, we have discussed various ways to interweave new threads.

Met the NCT ladies at Claire's beautiful house in Camberwell. Babies and mums were all on good form, especially due to Claire having baked scones, with clotted cream and jam, and it is great to see how all the babies have all grown into aware, grabby little people.

Charlie came back at 6:30, though yet again I decided not to go swimming and so made courgette fritters instead. Felt out of sorts in the evening, sort of tired, sort of confused, hard to explain. So went to bed and fell fast asleep.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Rainy Wanstead

Norris, Charlie, Penny and I made our way out to see Andrew M who has now returned to Blighty with wife and imminent baby in tow. They seemed on excellent form, with Nina seemingly very prepared for chidbirth, though the machinations of the UK medical system seem to have taken their toll on Andrew.

Then back to Brixton for a lovely dinner of Fajitas followed by Dixit with Andrew, Sarah, Alex, Norris, Liam, Charlie and Penny (who was very quiet, yay!) Though I was pipped to the finish line by Alex .... curses!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Batik Day

We decided pretty early that the rain and cold was enough to keep us away from the Lambeth Country Show. So we took it easy ...

... Charlie went to the cinema and I tried some paper batik.

Having done a 1 day batik course a few years ago I had always intended to try it again, and so the rainy day gave me a good opportunity. So satisfying to see the ink resist the paper where the wax was. Though my amateur attempt meant getting through a few tealights, when it occurs to me now that a bigger candle would have worked better.

The pics here show the paper with wax still on, should be even better once it is all ironed off. Yay!

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Final Potter

Up early, given we still were 2 hours ahead in our minds. Met Sonia at the Ritzy to watch the last Harry Potter film. A fitting end to the film series, which is not a patch on the books but a fun frolicking flickfest.

Wandered round Brixton and then back home to do some sorting out and jobs before a lazy evening of sorting out bike trip hotels with Charlie and Alex. Penny ate for Britain again, maybe it is also a growth spurt?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Back Home

Up at a reasonable hour to pack up and go. Said goodbye to Roli and Aida, and pretended to leave the baby with them J

Another good flight, though Penny was a bit more awake, talkative and decided to have a little poop which Charlie manfully dealt with. Tired and hungry back in blighty, so grabbed some M&S lunch.

Charlie decided to try and get to his Nomads writing group, so spent the afternoon reading through the content while I put the washing on.

Andrew came round for dinner, where I tried my best at Aida’s meatballs (not bad, though they need more time to become more tender).

Penny was clearly a bit out of sorts as she had 4 big feeds over 3 hours … crazy!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Heat and Visiting Yaya

A very hot night, so hot that Penny woke up needing a feed at 6am (unusual these days, especially in Greece). Also was scratching lots due to the buzzy monsters in the room … eeek! Thank goodness for P’s mosquito net.

We went en masse to the Jewish Cemetery to pay our respects to Erika who died in November. It was sad but I am pleased we went. We also saw the graves of her parents and also Roli’s parents. It is a beautiful place, very still and magical in its own way.

Walked along the promenade in the centre of Thessaloniki in the evening, admiring the view, taking photos and meeting for drinks with Demetris’ niece Christina and her boyfriend Nikos.

Spent the evening playing board games out on the porch with a massive moon shining overhead.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Parsley Meatballs

Stretched out our hotel stay by packing up but then heading to the pool again.

Then back to the house in Panorama where we were treated to the most yummy meatballs ever, courtesy of Aida.

Monday, 11 July 2011

... Keep Relaxing!

Yet another lazy day by the pool. Then in the evening we celebrated Nikki’s 30th birthday by having another fabulous fishy dinner at the tavern next door.

Finished off by all jumping in the pool together. Just the perfect evening!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

And Reeeelax ...

A day by the pool again, with me sneaking out from the shade every now again to go to the pool with Fishy, playing spinny games and generally having fun.

We all went towards the headland for dinner at a great restaurant where we watched the sunset and ate lots of yummy seafood … Greek food is so fresh and tastes fantastic!

Saw various Greek friends and family throughout the day, who all seemed very keen on Penny … so pleased she has done so well on this trip.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Wedding

Packed 3 days worth of stuff and all headed off in a convoy to the hotel by the beach. Spent our first lazy afternoon by the beautiful pool, covering the baby with sunscreen and white fabric, and for me one again enjoying ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ (terrible title, great book, which I found as useful as ‘Help’).

Rather than struggle again without our bath support for Penny, we decided to try taking a proper bath with her. It was just wonderful, a bit like going swimming with her, as there was enough water to splash around a bit and do back floats.

And then the wedding. So sweet, so personal and so glamorous. We were all waiting on the beach in a circle as Justina walked to us in her fabulous dress. She looked perfect, and the ceremony (officiated by Theresa’s friend Rikke) was emotional and touching.

Afterwards was chatty and fun, with amazing food and some heartfelt speeches. Charlie ended up going in the pool in his suit, and Justina’s sister Nikki joined him afterwards in her bridesmaids dress!

Friday, 8 July 2011


Mostly stayed out of the way as everybody was preparing for the wedding, going shopping for bridal lingerie and sorting out what would be said.

We all went out to a restaurant at a nearby nature reserve to celebrate, a lovely dinner and a real sense of occasion. Justina and David did pretty well at their ‘how well do you know each other’ quiz, better than me and Fish!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Day of New Things

Decided to feed Penny after all at 2:30am as we were disrupting her routine. And she stayed pretty awake, bemused by the taxi journey and the airport. Really pleased we booked the taxi with Erika and Dan, so much easier!

Met Marion and Robin there, and very happy to see a tanned and glamorous (yes, even at 5am) David and Justina arrive with Theresa as the plane started boarding.

Penny slept through the whole flight (YEEEAAAAH!), as we all did. Arrived to find Demetris and to sort out hirecars, carseats etc.

Lovely to see Roli and to meet Aida at the house in Panorama. Sad of course not to see Erika senior, but to me the house is still filled with her … and we spoke of her a lot over lunch.

Met Justina’s Mum, Sister and Niece and we all decided to go to the sea. Penny not entirely impressed with our decision to give her a teeny tiny dip in the sea, but she soon recovered. Yet another new thing for her … a busy day!

Exhausted by the time we got back to the house … pleased to get to bed.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Packing and Preparation

Managed to make it to Mum and Baby yoga, but then spent the whole day packing and preparing for the big holiday, Penny’s first, to Greece. So much stuff to pile into a small suitcase and a rucksack, but finally managed it at about 11, in anticipation for a 2:30 alarm … ouch!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Afternoon Tea

Spent a relaxing afternoon with Elle, Eva, Robin and Marion at Marion's in Surrey, where she spoiled us wit a lovely lunch and lots of tea! Then had a v positive meeting in the evening with our fellow freeholders, good to see so much consensus!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Hosting Babies

After a catch up with my boss, which contained some new news and some older news, spent the morning baking as the NCT ladies came round in the afternoon. We decided last week that it made more sense for us to come round to people's houses as we are now coming to the end of our respective maternity pay packages.

So I spruced up the dodgy looking (but lovely tasting) ginger cake with vanilla frosting, and made a batch of chocolate brownies as they never fail.

And it worked very well! We were a little short on space with 5 mums and 5 babies, but it was fun to see them playing on the play mat, and for us all to swap babies to see how different they all are. And they are indeed very different: Big tall strong Leo, delicate elegant Clara, smiley upright Hermione, pretty sweet Sydney and of course cuddly-wuddly sleepy Penny.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Beauty and the Geeks

A swim at 10, followed by a quick cup of tea with Alex at the Hive before setting off on the days adventures with Penny. Hung around to say hi to the Dungeons and Dragons crew (Greg, Kirsten and James F) before aiming for the Old Thameside Inn to meet up with the South America crew. They were getting together to celebrate Mikey's birthday and to give Rob a bit of a send off before he heads of to live and work in San Francisco. Good to see them all, as always, especially Julia who is now married and Lucy with her new baby Eve.

Then to the V&A for the 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition. I especially enjoyed the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations, Whistler portraits and of course the patterned fabrics and wallpapers from Morris and co. Penny needed a break halfway through as she was singing, which swiftly turned into a grizzle, but thankfully they let me back in. So after a big feed she slept for 2 hours by which time I was back in Brixton.

Unfortunately I was in Sainsbury's, so when she was yelling at the strain of being awake I was trying to hastily get through the check out. And of course as soon as we got outside she chilled out, though did not think to go back to explain to all of the shoppers in Sainsbury's that her mother is not a neglectful witch as they would all now be assuming. Sigh, the joy of babies!

Anyway, a relaxing evening at home with pizza as the D&Ders finished off.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Penny's First Swim

A family jaunt to Tooting Bec Leisure Centre for Penny's first swim. She dealt with it all very well, initially with a 'this feels like the bath, but bigger' expression on her face. We did some 'Penny, Ready, Go' splashing of the face, some floating on her back and some playing with a bright yellow boat.

And we did do one dunk ... though I was nervous. So Charlie did the dunking ad I held the little one's eye contact, and she looked a little shellshocked when he pulled her out. With effusive praise and big smiles, she was quickly convinced that she had achieved something fabulous and that she should be very pleased with herself.

Given the lovely sunny day, we took a bus to Balham where we had pizza and looked at kitchen worktops in Magnet. A lazy walk back to Brixton, where we picked up Alex who joined us for a sunny beer and a game of Dixit and Ingenious (which I never win) in the Trinity.

Tried to watch Gremlins in the evening, hoping for a retro eighties frolic. But instead it was pretty mediocre. I maintain it is good until the gremlins are shown to the viewer, at which point it is just ridiculously cartoonish. So Alex left halfway through as he was falling asleep, Charlie actually did fall asleep on the sofa, and I barely watched the end.