Going Local

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but a few months ago KM became a committee member for the Wirral Farmers Market near where we live. The market is run by volunteers and takes place in a village hall on the second Saturday of every month with all the proceeds going to support local charity.  Now at the time, I’ll be honest the man was just looking for something to do and possibly something to put on his CV. But it suits him down to the ground. KM, despite his über macho manly thing he has going on, is actually a surprisingly talented manager/people person  I know I’ve worked with…  well technically I’ve worked for him in the past. Ahh college days… Recently KM has become more and more concerned with the food he eats and where it actually comes from, wanting to support local producers as much as possible and I can’t deny its a noble cause as a bit of a turn around going from the guy who thought “vegetable” was a dirty word .To the man who has filled our back yard with pots and now growing his own.

This weekend was the Fourth annual Wirral Food show brining together local producers to showcase their wares over the Bank Holiday weekend. Many demonstrations from local chefs, some live music and entertainment for kids and grown ups alike. Of course we had to go. Well KM did – he had Farmer’s Market promotion duty and well, I decided to tag along for the two days as an extra pair of leaflet handing hands and because well it’s better than sitting at home alone all day feeling bored or miserable.  Let me just take a second here to point out  I was in a large and overwhelming crowd for hours  giving out leaflets to perfect strangers because I actually wanted to without a panic attack in sight,  just so I remember how far I’ve come.

Anyways, back to the festival. It was totally awesome. I picked up a ton of recipe cards to hopefully give me a shove back into the kitchen. I feasted on free samples of some of the best oils /puddings/cheese/cider I have ever tasted and we even managed to bring home a few treats. It was thrilling to discover so much good food being produced right on our doorstep and I myself was very surprised that the prices were more reasonable than if thought they would be (one of my main sticking points with KM’s food plan has been the extra cost involved). I discovered a chocolate shop I NEEED to visit in Liverpool and a local farm that deserves more investigation.  I found out how good the butcher just around the corner from me really is and was suitably impressed. I ate rose veal which is a first for me. I touched a cow, ALSO a first as they have always kind of scared me lol! I went totally gaga over the cute ducklings and a tiny Jack Russell puppy, giggled at the Morris dancers  and  ate possibly the best cheesecake I have ever had. Of course found out where I could get more  of my favorite treat…  mmmm cheesecake!  But I think the highlight for me has got to be the hog roast. Nothing… nothing beats the smell of roasting pig. Pork cooked to perfection and oh so wonderful crispy crackling. I’m licking my lips just thinking about that sandwich. Oh so tasty tasty good.

It’s been a wonderful weekend and a bit of an eye opener for me in terms of quality of food, a reminder of what enjoying and even cooking good food can be like. I think the effort to go local will be more of a joint one from now on.

And there’s still the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival to look forward to. Happy times!

And now for the pictures:

Ducklings !

Ducklings !

Me and the cow !

Me and the cow !

Ali xX

Pulling on my heart strings ..

A while back you might have read about my guilt at eating bunny stew after making friends with gaget guys bunnies, I’d had a bunny myself as a kid but she lived outdoors most of the time and to be honest I was the typical kid who lost interest and mum was left holding the bunny  or not in this case poppy was not up for cuddles. Anyways by now I am older and I’d like to think wiser and for a little while now we’ve been thinking of getting a pet. we’ve in a akward position because the hosue we live in belongs to Kayakman’s mother so any animals need her approval  I’ll be honest with you we’re both dog poeple but thats just not an option till we have a place of our own and possibly not even then depending on working hours ect . Around christmas last year we had decided that our only option was a tank of fish  after research and reading we decided against it i mean lets face it fish are about the leat interactive animal you could share your life with and they take more work that you would think  KM put it best when he said a fish tank is in effect a really really high maitinace ornament and we remained without an animal companion.

I’ve really enjoyed gaget guys tails of chip  and had been drawn towards perhaps considering a bunny as a possibility in the future  and then this weekend I met Fudge.. fudge lives in my adopted parents back garden and dispite being 100% an outdoor bunny  he’s possibly the cutest most intereactive bunny i’ve ever met happily hopping over to see any visitors climbing up his little fence in eger for cuddles ( or more likely to see if you brought food ) despite the rain he seemed perfectly content to sit out on the grass a very happy if soggy little guy he had me giggling the whole time I spend with him I’d not realised before just how curious and expresive bunnies can be (in there own way I guess. )  and ohhh this guy is soo soo soft  how could you not wanna give him fusses. anyways while I’m totally sold on rabbits now realiseing they would make a wonderful pet  I simply can’t have one at this moment we have no outside space for the lil guy and KM’s family is set against them in the house claiming that they will smell….that and to be honest I’m a little scared I’d pester a bunny to much with my need for CUDDLES.

Here’s my dilema ..KM’s sister has a kitten that needs rehomed and we’ve been asked if we would take him .. much excitement as we HAVE wanted a pet for a long while now and the man really wants to give this needy kitten a home  but heres me thinking  in all honesty I’d rather hold out till our situation improves and we can give a home to bunny / puppy which is what we REALLY would like.  It’s not that I don’t like cats I do I’ve had several before and always enjoyed them but I’d kinda got to that point where .. well I guess I hadn’t planned on another kitten.

That and then the family politics on top KM’s sister is not happy we would be allowed the kitten she has to give up..slightly childish in my view given the menagery that currently lives with her in her  rented home   but  I’m trying HARD  not to say anything .. and NOT to get envolved. I worry that us taking on the kitten against her wishes is storing up problems for later when she eventually finds out ….

BUT…when I try to bring all this up  KM points out that I’ve wanted a pet for ages..and that the kitten needs a home  and then he looks at me with theses puppy dog eyes… uugh how does he do that …..

Its looks like we’re preparing for a family storm and a new arrival ..

Ali xX

Adopted one.

I traveled back to Scotland for a very specific reason. You see,  on Saturday, J turns 60 and I have to tell you his commiserating/sulking at now officially being classed as elderly is at least matched by the exciting prospect of his bus pass which is due to arrive in the post any day (free bus travel for the over 60’s FTW). Now J is not one for parties and a big fuss. In fact, I have it on good authority that he turned down the invitation of a big joint do with his twin sister on favor of a quiet family meal… well family plus me that is. You see, I’ve been J’s “adopted one” pretty much since we met after I became very close friends with his daughter 14 years ago now (wow those years creep up on you don’t they).  Truthfully I’m not sure who adopted who, but I know I’ve learned a lot about what happy families can look like from this family. I’d do anything for him and I know this guy has my back. (We’ll call him Adopted Dad,AD from now on ok ? )

Its amazing some of the quiet most unassuming people you meet have the most interesting lives.  AD’s career goes from Royal Air Force through light house keeper to groundsman at the local hospital and now an occupational therapist working with vulnerable adults with learning difficulties. It takes a special person to do that job and an more dedicated person to give it everything the way he does. Just watching him with this group of lads who all jokingly call him Dad is inspirational. He takes everyone as he finds them and never holds a grudge if one of the guys is acting out or having a bad day. I notice him thinking about them even in his off time, making sure to wear the obscene number plate sized birthday badge (complete with flashing red lights)  to work as it was a gift from his boys also ensuring that a second birthday cake was made specifically so he could share with them. I’d say I’m amazed by his willingness to stand up for those in his care and stick his head above the parapet so to speak when its required but really I’m not amazed because that’s just the way he always has been since I’ve known him.   I am determined to learn lessons from this man:  to absorb some of his attitudes;  to give each woman I care for 100 %  effort;  to be non judgmental and do my best for every family even if their circumstances are not what I would expect or they make choices that I may not personally agree with. I want to be open and approachable in the same way that Jim is to listen and try to remember that everyone has something to teach you.  If I achieve it half as well and this man does I’ll be one hell of a midwife that’s for sure.

Now that’s not to say I’m in awe.  Oh no, adopted is just as opinionated as the man she wished she was related to. We butt heads all the time over…well to be honest almost anything.  I still remember the look on his face as we engaged in our first dinner table debate on Scottish independence (kind of  who the hell does this 13 year old think she is anyway !!??). It’s a wonder he didn’t throw me out and we’ve never stopped bickering since lol. It only makes me respect him all the more. A fantastic sparing partner who challenges the way I think, the things I do… I hope he knows just how much I respect him, that I love him deeply and at the end of the day if I live my life the way he has… if I grow old disgracefully following his example caring for people over things at every turn..  I’ll have rocked at life.

AD (and his wonderful wife , who would be my “Adopted” Mum )  now also have adpoted 2, 3 and 4… having become respite Foster Carers in their fifties. Those are three lucky boys I can tell you!

I have to share one last thing: always making me laugh, AD confessed this weekend that he’s printed out his resignation letter just to have in his briefcase just in case. Looking forward to retirement is an understatement. Of course his boss has warned him she will not be accepting any letters from him in the near future. When he does finally get there I know he will be missed.

The 5 year count down starts now DAD … Happy frikkin’ Birthday !

Ali xX

Journey time

One of the things I’ve promised myself is that when I get back on my feet and actually have one of those job things I will NO longer travel by coach. I’ll pay the extra (even if this sometimes means the fare is doubled) and take the flipping train. This weekend I travelled back home to Scotland for an important occasion and due to the ever present budget issues that come with long term unemployment.  The only way I was going to get up there was buying the budget coach ticket and gritting my teeth for the journey. These are the kinds of things you do for really important people in your life and I don’t regret going one bit, but after this mammoth trip I swear I went to bed that night and I had a dream… a dream of a time when train travel once again became affordable and punctual,  a dream where I had a job and could afford to book a train ticket without agonizing over the cost vs. comfort question. Oh boy it was wonderful. Let me explain: the coach trip from Liverpool to my final Scottish destination takes just under 9 hours. Yes, NINE.  I could fly to from here to Chicago in that time – I know I’ve done it.  Do you know how much it winds me up that what should be a 4-5 hour drive ends up taking up as much of my time as a FLIGHT TO THE USA? Aherm… and I LOVE Scotland and all… I really do… but you know which trip I’d rather be making. Yeah, I love Scotland. NINE HOURS THOUGH!

My train trip fantasies also have the added advantage of more leg room – ability to get up and stretch my legs for even a few minutes because you legally have to be strapped in with a seatbelt the entire time.  The entire time… that is unless of course you need to relieve yourself and you find that you’re starting to wonder if they even have a bathroom on this bus. Push that thought out of your mind for God sakes. Cross your legs. Think of desserts and cream crackers and all things dry. Bite your tongue and hold it because, trust me, you do not want to discover the answer to that “do they have bathroom” question unless you REALLY REALLY have NO OTHER OPTION.  There’s only one thing worse than seeking out the bathroom and that’s being the poor bugger sat near to the thing because – trust me – the smell finds you in a huge waft every time the door is opened and you start to seriously hate those inconsiderate passengers who might need to pee during the course of nine hours… actually shuddering with fear and trying to brace your nose for the tidal wave type assault you know is coming as soon as that little flimsy door is opened.  *gag*

Of course we have to be grateful for small mercies:  the rest stop! A twenty minute break at a service station somewhere in the Lake District to grab some cold food (no hot food allowed on board) and a chance to join the stampede towards the Holy Grail: a proper toilet that flushes and everything!  On this particular occasion, my rest stop was anything but restful. Having left my bits and bobs including my jacket on board, I wandered over to the service station building and casually remarked to a fellow pilgrim… umm… passenger how glorious the sunshine was today. I mean actually short sleeve t-shirt hot.  Big mistake. HUGE MISTAKE. 10 minutes later there I am in the overpriced for a captive audience shop searching for a butter free sandwich (ok butter is a huge phobia of mine. My bad) when I become aware of this noise. It sounds like rain on the roof… but it can’t be. It was sunny not 10 minutes ago… and this is a loud noise deafening. That’s a lot of rain. Yep, I got to the door to discover we’d been lured inside unprotected because of the evil promise of a sunny afternoon and now EVERYONE is crammed into this tiny doorway staring in disbelief at the torrential downpour. I mean, the car park was covered and flooded in minutes.  It was a cruel cruel joke and as the clock ticked down towards the immoveable leaving time. I knew I was going to have to get VERY wet or get left behind… RUUUUUUUN !

I got drenched. Wet right through with 4 hours at least left to sit and stew in my sodden clothes, just to ram the point home. When in the Lake District, ALWAYS take your fu**ing jacket. The coach was back on the road and filled with a stream of 50 drying passengers and 5 minutes later the sun is back out shining bright in the sky and laughing at our naivety for presuming it might stick around for 20 minutes to allow us a “comfort” break. Lesson learned.

I’ve said it already: I love Scotland. I’m Scottish. I love Scotland in the unconditional way I love family. Even when the place pisses me off, I still care. Even if we don’t see each other for ages. Even if I have grown up and moved away. I’ll always go back, I have to visit and gawd help you NOBODY gets to dis my Scotland but me and of course the other members of the human race who can proudly claim they come from the land of such culinary icons as haggis, Iron Bru and the deep fried Mars Bar (yes they exist. In my experience only an Englishman  actually eats one!)  I always forget just how much I miss the place until I cross the border on a return journey. The mountains grow and (usually) the black clouds and the rain rolls in. Welcome to Scotland… oh how I miss thee.

I’d move back tomorrow, but sadly KM being as proudly English as I am Scots (uh huh we bicker a lot)  I don’t see it happening anytime soon..

I arrived safely in Perth at the appointed time and as if by magic through the sun and the showers a pretty pretty rainbow to welcome me and I may have just been hallucinating after NINE hours on a bus sat next to a lovely lady dressed head to foot in the brightest pink I have ever seen, but I swear I heard a soundtrack of the Hallelujah Chorus as we pulled in and that bus door opened… Freedom!

Laugh now, but I am determined to see the day when I can afford to take the train is coming… oh yes!

Ali xX

If at first you don’t suceed…

Third time lucky! I have finally had my occupational health check with the hospital and I’m happy to report I got the all clear. It was far less intimidating than I thought it might be, in fact. The department is tiny and staffed by a handful of very friendly nurses and doctors. It was explained to me that they had to call me in due to the amount of further information I had added on their health questionnaire, but that it shouldn’t be a problem because I had disclosed everything. After talking it all over, it was decided that while these things are a pain in the backside for me they shouldn’t actually limit my ability to do the jobs I’ll be given as a volunteer so long as I myself keep an eye on things. And so the letter was signed and another step in this process checked off.  Now I just need to wait for the CRB check to come back. This could take a while given the number of address changes I have had but I’m not anticipating any issues. So today I feel much more confident that the volunteering thing will actually happen. YAY! I was even mature enough to have a blood sample taken without prior warning to psyche myself up for needles and the like. Uh huh… I watched. I did not freak out when the nurse told me I had a really deep vein and spent some time trying to find it.  I did not have a panic attack.  I refused her offer to let me come back and have the blood drawn later (because you knoow how long it would have taken for me to get off my butt and organize that) AND  I DID NOT PASS OUT  afterwards, even though I did feel a tad dizzy and eww … Go me!

I also received the paperwork today for another volunteer opportunity that I’m really excited about because this one offers the possibility that I’ll get some work experience actually on the maternity wards.  I have the first interview session on Monday, so I’ll be form filling again this weekend and hopefully the process will start all over again for a second hospital. At least I’ll be less nervous this time!

I finally gave in and called college to try and find out when my start date will be and ask about my special needs assessment that I thought was part of the conditions of my offer, only to be told I have been made an unconditional offer of a place so I will definitely be going to school in September. I can’t wait, now – so excited! I did also find out that there is no confirmed start date as of yet as the course leader is away on her summer vacation, but it will be sometime at the beginning of September and I’ll hear as soon as they know. Well that puts some of my plans on hold till I have the information, but at least I’m not sitting here freaking out that something has gone amiss. I now know that nobody enrolling on the course has heard and it’s not JUST me … what a relief!

All in all, things are moving along… just slowly…

Been struggling for a couple of days now with awful headaches and a little disturbed vision. In fact, I’ve been in bed resting as much as I can falling in and out of sleep and unable to focus on much. Turns out my blood pressure reading was too high today at the health check and I have to go see my GP for a follow up check. So maybe the headaches are related to that.

Yes, I’ll make sure to book the appointment… soon

Ali xX

Good gone bad.

How long?  That’s my question today. How long after the good stuff goes bad do you give up and walk away? How much time do you give something? How many chances?  How much effort and worry do you expend? How long before saying that’s enough is a conscious and wise decision and not just running away from the problem.

Do I have something specific on my mind? Well, yes, but really this question could apply to any number of things:  a failing relationship, a friendship, a job, family ties… whatever. We all have these types of things in our lives. I’m sure something that at one point in time was good SO good. It added to your life made you feel… happy, proud, safe, secure, loved, needed.  If you’re lucky, all of those neatly tied up with a pretty ribbon. Perhaps gave you a reason to get up in the morning. For sure something to smile about…

Change – it happens to us all, and try as you might you can’t avoid it. Some changes are sudden, dramatic, turning points in our lives that we all can recognize as times of distress for the person concerned; times when they may need extra support and understanding.  Moving house, getting married, breaking up, becoming parents, illness, losing a loved one. Society accepts these times of weakness in a person life because we understand them. We’ve been there and it’s HARD. We empathize and we do all we can even if that doesn’t amount to much. Its ok – almost accepted that you will reach out and ask for support.

Other times support is harder to find. Of course I knew that other women were experiencing the same devastating heartbreak as me when I first heard that word infertile. I knew I wasn’t the only one but it sure felt like it. I didn’t know anyone who was in that situation and to be honest even if I had I couldn’t really bring myself to talk to them or admit what felt like MY failure. I wish I had found the online community sooner. I wish someone had been there to show me. Maybe I would have pulled myself together a little faster who knows. Hey, at least I’m here now.

I’m wondering about that slow progressive change: the one that sneaks up on you the one you don’t notice the little changes you let slide because they are no big deal until they all add up to a change that suddenly you don’t like something anymore and you can’t put your finger on when or how. Sometimes even WHAT exactly HAS changed. It’s just a feeling you get that something is missing, something that was so good, tastes bitter. Maybe you feel stuck in a rut at work… or you find that you don’t want to open up to that friend in a way you once did,  your family is no longer a place of support and nurture and instead a place of restraint and little squabbles.  Things are not awful: they are just not… right. Nobody has done anything wrong you’re just not as comfortable as you once were.

Before you know it “not comfortable” has slipped into actually UNcomfortable and what was a source of joy turns to worry and longing, terrible longing for things to be fixed. Confusion “but this used to work so well”   the more you try to make it work. The more you notice how much effort something that was so natural has become… an the downward spiral starts  towards  quitting that job, seeing less of that friend  and putting a little geographical distance between you and family … is this just me ?

What I want to know is how do you stop?  How do you rebuild something when your not sure how it got broken?  Can it even be done?  But most of all:  How long do you let something stay in your life that’s causing you so much aggravation?  How long do you cling to the hope that one day things will be as fantastic as they ever were and you’ll look back on this time as a distant memory?

I’m guessing the more you care, the longer the amount of time. But on the other hand, if its true that the more you care the greater the pain  then where is that breaking point?  When is enough enough? I just don’t know.

As with many things we care about I suspect there are no easy answers.

Ali xX

Delays and Frustrations.

So I should be writing today to tell you all about my occupational health appointment at the hospital which should be the final step in the process before I can start volunteering at the hospital,  having already had to rearrange this appointment once as the first slot I was given was when I was away down in Exeter.  I’m soooooo nervous about this because not only do I need to get the ok to volunteer,  its the same health check I will need to pass to be able to take up a place on the midwifery degree should I be lucky enough to be granted one.  How much would it suck to get to the final hurdle and be denied on health grounds…..?

Like all the volunteers, I was given a health questionnaire.  You know, one of those answer yes or no: if you check yes explain yourself. Suffice to say I had about five or six checks in the yes column and a lot of “further details” so I pretty much knew I was going to get called in for an appointment and I just want to get it over already.

Sadly, that was not to be.  I got a call yesterday they spoke to KM to let me know that the department was moving offices and I would need to call and rearrange my appointment which seems a little short notice to me as the appointment was only made about a week ago. I would have thought they might have known about the planned move but maybe not. To be honest I was getting a little nervous about showing up to the check full of a cold amidst all the concerns people have about Swine Flu around here, so I’d say the postponement worked in my favor.

Still, I can’t help feeling a tad frustrated that I started trying to get relevant voluntary experience back in April and now here we are in August and so far I have nothing that  has given me a glimpse of my intended career or will support my application, It’s starting to really worry me :S

I’m hoping I can get the appointment rearranged soon and praying I will be given the all clear.

Ali xX