The mothership

I’ve developed my own gravitational pull now. I’m kidding of course but it’s no joke – I am officially massive. I have hit the 31 week mark and the bump measures 30 cm, which is pretty much bang on what it should be (thankyouverymuch) – but it feels like it really can’t get any bigger. Can it?

Despite me slowing down physically, the world still appears to be turning. Jamie has really driven forward our to-do list and has decorated, built furniture, replaced door handles, sorted through boxes and boxes of stuff, organised and reorganised cupboards, found space for things, hoovered, washed and tidied like a total champion.

Men at workI have feebly washed a few plates and done the odd trip to the supermarket, and written a lot of lists. I’ve also been in charge of Online Shopping. I was busy reclining yesterday and leaving Jamie to his own devices when he called me in to check out the nursery…

It’s been painted for a few weeks; the carpet arrived a couple of weeks ago and the last of our IKEA order got delivered yesterday. It’s also been home to some ‘misc’ items that were waiting to be rehomed or gumtree’d. I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me when I walked in. Not only had he built the cot, he’d cleared everything out, lit the lamp and put up a few little things to start making it a real person’s room: NurseryI sat in my red chair to take the pic above (which is why you can see my slippers!). You can also see the freaky Cliff Richard calendar hanging on the back of the door. Cliff won’t be watching over Baby Gray, that’s for sure. What a beautiful room.

Its amazing making this sort of progress – it brings us closer to meeting our baby one step at a time; finishing up at work will also be a milestone – I’ve now got less than four weeks to go! Far from feeling guilty or sheepish about stopping work at 35 weeks, I am delighted to be gifting myself some ‘me time’ and some time to rest and prepare for motherhood at my own pace. I will be far from idle – there are loads of baby clothes to wash and sort, bits and bobs to purchase, and lists to make 🙂 I’ll also be practicing my hypnobirthing techniques (laugh if you want – but if you’re pregnant I strongly suggest you buy the book!) and attending late-pregnancy yoga classes just off Broughton Street. I’m expecting a visit from my Mum too.

I’ll also be busy filling our freezer with batch-cooked meals to help feed us when we’re busy/exhausted/bewildered in the first few weeks. As someone who tries hard to eat well and avoid food waste I love the thought of having good nutritional (and tasty) meals in our freezer as a result of forward planning. So far I’ve made extra and bagged some bolognese, two curries, some chilli and some vegetable soup, not to mention some sliced bagels – great for popping straight into the toaster. This will save us a lot of money and energy at a time when cooking and eating are just about fueling your body rather than gastronomy.

On the ‘green’ front, things are going well (despite August’s surrendering to IKEA) and our thrifty low carbon leanings have been well served by the generosity of friends who’ve happily passed on all sorts of things. We’ve hardly bought any baby clothes, having received loads from other parents. We’ve also inherited a baby monitor, bath seat, bumbo chair (wtf is that?), car seat, bike seat, baby sling/carrier and giant bundle of cloth nappies. All without spending a penny! Most other stuff has been bought on eBay or Gumtree, including our beautiful pram (AKA travel system) and cute ‘buggy snuggle‘ – we are saving ourselves plenty of money, and in the process we are keeping our carbon footprint down too. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve got some adorable cloth nappies – the cash saving (between £500 and £1000 per baby!) is one thing, but knowing we’ll be diverting an unbelieveable 120 black bin bags full of dirty nappies away from landfill is a great thought. Working at Changeworks I know that it’s not something to be scared of – we run a real nappy project! I’m lucky to have a fantastic source of support, and intend to use one of their trial packs or lending kits so we can try out various types and see what works best for us. We’ve been given a range by friends – some Bambino Mio, a few Tots Bots, Little Lambs and a load of plain terry squares. I’m also looking forward to going along to the Changeworks ‘Nappuccino‘ coffee mornings once we’re ready.

I’m really looking forward to:

  • Bending at the waist again
  • Being able to put socks and shoes on while breathing at the same time
  • Not caring where I park as I know I’ll be able to get back in the car
  • Getting comfortable in bed, on the sofa, at work, anywhere
  • Going back in the sauna
  • Eating runny cheese and pate
  • Having a few G&Ts
  • Seeing myself in the mirror and recognising my body
  • Wearing REAL CLOTHES and having more than 6 outfits
  • Going for a long walk without a sense of dread

Until that time comes, I am stranded in the body of a giant flump. Here is me at 30 weeks:30 weeksOh, I went to the amazing Lush Spa recently for a treatment called The Spell; it was beyond my wildest dreams! I am usually skeptical and critical of this sort of thing, because I happen to know the best masseur in the business who doesn’t need a spa or any hocus pocus to make you feel good (Hi Yossi). The Spell was incredible though – just enough theatre to make it really interesting, but not too much to overshadow the good solid skill that went into the treatment itself. It’s primarly a foot massage/spa but includes hot stones and a head massage in the frankly stunning surroundings of Edinburgh’s Lush Spa. The spa is set in the basement of the Princes Street store and is like a witch’s kitchen – that’s the best way I can describe it. They gave me a beautiful little affirmation as a keepsake – and I think it’s very apt for my journey at the moment:

Lush Spa


Bridge over the River ‘Aye’

I was up early to get the train to Inverness to see colleagues in our office up there. Four hours is a long trip and I’m delighted to say the 3 people who were sitting around me have all moved or got off. I was worried I’d be uncomfortable and cramped – even more than usual as my bump is getting bigger, and I’m getting clumsier, and grumpier!

Aside from eating about £10 worth of fruit from M&S I’ve not had much to do except enjoy the view – and what views!

This journey has shown me my favourite type of Scottish scenery. From coastal sunshine and craws over brown fields in Fife to high evergreens and fields of skittering fat lambs in Perthshire – it just gets prettier.

My only regret is that I neglected to bring my headphones. I love listening to music when I’m on the train. And although the noisy Aussies got off earlier our carriage is vibrating to the noise of a very deaf old man who shouts ‘Aye!’ Or ‘Thats Right!’ Every time his mumbly companion finishes a sentence, which is roughly every ten seconds. It’s actually driving me so crazy I had to write this to distract myself.

Out the window I’ve seen low rocky rivers, high mountains, sunlit forests and wide, flat, green plains full of coos.

And I’ve got our baby on board of course – now I’ve really started to feel the wee wriggler kicking and moving around. Instead of feel creeped out (as one might reasonably expect) it feels reassuring and cute. But sometimes a little bit violent – as though the ‘Aye’ man is annoying the baby too. Like mother, like bairn I guess.

Anyway, I’m going to get back to the view and hope Mr ‘Aye!’ Gets off at Blair Atholl.

Bullet with butterfly wings


Bullet with butterfly wings

I caught a picture of a swooping seagull in Anstruther in 2011 when we were staying at a cottage in the town. We were there for the Homegame festival. I just found the photo when I was looking for something else, and noticed the little double-exposure around the bird’s wings. They look quite fragile, even though this particular specimen was anything but. He is actually trying to eat my fish ‘n’ chips from the garden table!

Mean machines

Time’s marching on – I only have 3 more weeks to get the dress finished! It’s ok though, I have 8 hours of class in those three weeks, plus I’m at the stage where I can get on with stuff at home. This week class was a disaster. The Grinch was distracting me (“does this look wrong to you? it looks a bit wrong to me, what do you think? I think I’m going to give this skirt to someone else as a gift…” ad nauseum) and I managed to do two of my darts on the WRONG side of my fabric! Argh! The material is very similar on each side to be fair, but I still had to spend a while unpicking the two beautifully sewn darts, then doing them all over again on the other side of the piece.

Back section

Great darts – wrong side of the fabric 😦

I thought that was the only thing that would go wrong, but as I confidently started sewing the centre front seam together (to make the front lower part of the dress) I ran out of thread in the bobbin, meaning my sewing only went half way up the seam! Again, I had to unpick and sew again. I took matters into my own hands by spending two hours at home doing it all again, plus the back centre seam and the darts and centre seams in the lining.

I’m hoping I can put the top (bust and straps) together at the next class, and start putting everything together. If Abi gives me a hand I am confident I can be ready to put the zip in by the week after next.

Our Christmas night out is on the 14th Dec, and I’d really like to be able to wear my creation to that! The thought of it is very exciting – I have a great pair of black wedges and a wee black cardigan that will match really well – and I’m planning to visit my hairdresser after work on the 14th for a 1950s style vintage up-do. The thought of this gives me my dressmaking mojo!

Hair-wise, now that I have a proper fringe going on, I’m liking the Betty Page style do – like this.

I’m really enjoying getting to grips with my sewing machine – which I really like using. it wasn’t expensive, I think I paid £89 for it (in last year’s January sales – half price) and I really think I’ve got a good quality machine. It isn’t too complicated, and is easy to understand and use, especially the pedal which is really nice and sensitive so you can go slow when you need to!

Mean machine

The mean machine

Anyhoo, in the meantime I’d better get back to making tea for my husband and father-in-law who are doing up our bathroom. I’ll post some pics of that too when it’s done, just for a change from green and black fabric. Oh wait, the new bathroom is white, black and… green!

Market value

This year I’m trying to shop local, avoid supermarkets when I can and buy second hand whenever possible. There’s a new trend sweeping Scotland’s capital and the great thing about it is that it’s the greenest type of shopping you can do – markets. You Londoners have been spoiled for years with all those lush trendy spots like Portobello and Spitalfields while we have been stuck with a so-so farmers market and the occasional ‘world market’ – run by the City Council and featuring French soap, Italian ‘leather’ handbags and paella, every single time. A few years ago I happened to be awake on a Sunday morning and found myself wandering around the Omni Centre weekly car boot sale. It’s not the type of event you’d just stumble upon – it takes place 3 floors underground in a sort of subterranean multi-storey carpark. I was impressed but couldn’t find much good stuff – just grubby kids’ toys and naff LPs that lacked even retro comedy value.

Now though – now it’s transformed, and teeming with trendy types flicking through a much wider selecion of music, books, clothes, bags, shoes, and home-tat every week. And it’s not just the weekly ‘booty’ that’s seen a renaissance in Edinburgh of late. Here are some of the other little gems that will titillate your rummaging genes and tantalise your taste for a bargain…

Out Of The Blue monthly Flea Market: This beautiful venue is host to a number of awesome events, from clothes swaps to art exhibitions. They’ve started running a monthly Fleamarket specially for rummagers like me who love to buy vintage and shabby-chic stuff at a fraction of the price of the local boutiques, yet can’t be arsed rifling through old men’s jammies in charity shops all the time. Rather than dark underground car-boot vibes this place has a light and airy feel, and even a café with superb cakes and sarnies!

Next Fleamarket: Saturday 26th February 2011 10am -2pm free entry

The Forest Café Free Market: Quirky and let’s face it a little bit scruffy, this indie institution has hosted loads of free markets where everything is free and no one pays a penny if they bring something along to get rid of. There’s a good standard of stuff and the swap ethic is impressive in an age when money means everything. The Forest collective is under threat of closure and is trying to raise money to buy its premises so their next event is a jumble sale in aid of the cause. The Forest has been a fantastic example of a volunteer-run arts initiative supporting music, poetry, art and staunch vegetarianism for years now. It’d be a shame not to support it and at least experience the great atmosphere of one of its fun market-style events.

Next Market: see Free Shop every other Sunday

Local Market and Tinker Tailor: The Drill Hall in Leith (home to Out of the Blue, above) holds a thriving local market every Saturday from 10am – 2pm. It’s all ethical so you can feel smug while you tuck into cakes baked by local angels, and you can buy fresh local seasonal fruit and veg, eggs, jam and baking. You can even get your e-cover washing up liquid bottle refilled! It’s the Leith version of the West End’s pricey (but lovely) Farmers Market. What makes the market extra special is that they also run a ‘Tinker Tailor’ service, where you can bring along things that need mending and someone will fix it while you watch and learn how to do it yourself! Different craftspeople are available each week on a rota and can teach you about mending fabric items, small electrical things, bikes, jewellery, bags, leather goods, musical instruments and even furniture! If you live in Leith add this must-have market to your weekly shop.

If it’s antiques that grab you – Kirstie Allsop is probably responsible. You can get your antique fix by heading to the regular Antiques and Collectables Fair at Meadowbank Stadium. Pay £1 to get in and get haggling as there are bargains to be found. This is primarily a trade event where dealers come to buy things to sell on, so do your best impression of Lovejoy and only offer half what you’re willing to pay for anything. If you don’t live in Edinburgh don’t despair – you can check Antques Atlas online to find similar markets in your neck of the woods.

Next Market: see

That lot should keep you busy and don’t forget buying second hand is a great way to cut your carbon footprint – reusing old stuff has never been cooler!