Street Bin Find of the Day


We found this on the way to the park next to some bins.
Lesson of the day, always walk down the posh streets on a sunny bank holiday. They have a classier standard of rubbish.

Although I think someone needs some help with their alphabet. Declining preschool educational standards – definitely blame Tory cuts.

Family Tree

Babies, they’re a lot like trains.

Well for my sister they were more like busses – she waited for ages for one and then 2 came along at once! But anyway that’s beside the point.

In my experience – of a grand total of one baby – babies are like trains and can be a little later than expected. This leads to a length of time spent off work and on maternity leave but with no maternity so to speak. This time can weigh a little heavy especially since increased girth makes it hard to enjoy quiet pleasures such a sleeping and many simple activities become monumentally difficult.

I had naively thought that I would use my pre-baby maternity leave to make lots of clothes and fix up the house but in reality I mostly sat about on a beanbag in the garden practising hypnobirthing.

One thing I did manage to finish was our family tree. An idea I had languishing in the pinterest graveyard for ages.


I found a cute tree image and projected it onto the bedroom wall. I drew round the image with a pencil and realised that this was the easiest craft project ever.

Then I switched off the projector and started painting over my pencil image.




And looked rubbish.

I couldn’t get a sharp line. I couldn’t get the paintbrush into the details. It wasn’t the easiest craft project ever, it was hell.

Eventually I borrowed an artist’s paintbrush from my mum, thanks mum, and finished the painting.

Close up it still looked a bit pants but from a suitable distance it looked pretty good. And any way I had a baby on the way. There wasn’t time for stressing about up close details.

I attached a load of hooks to the tree. (I confess I bought these new because I gave up waiting to find affordable used ones). Painted some second-hand frames and filled them with family photos.


Hung them on the hooks and stepped back to admire the finished object.


I hung the last frame on a Tuesday and went into labour on Thursday. Bar baking a slightly odd pear cake it was the last creative thing I did pre babygeddan.

Since the pear cake got left in a tin for a few days with all the excitement of labour and birth and went a bit boozy, or frankly a bit wrong , I’m kinda glad I managed something a little more permanent than a cake. Don’t worry tho, I totes ate that boozy cake.

Noone Puts Baby in the Corner

Yes Mr Farrage.  I only feed my child for the attention.  Its so rude of me making everyone else feel so uncomfortable.  Next time I get my breasts out I’ll be more considerate and make sure it’s only once I’m dressed in a bikini, posing like I want a bloke to give me one and splashed all over a billboard, newspaper or TV ad.  That way everyone can feel more comfortable.


I have mixed feelings about the recent media storm following the a breastfeeding mum being made to cover up at Clarrdges hotel, the response from everyone’s favorite joke politician Nigel Farrage and the consequent “nurse in” at Claridges.

On the one hand I think its important that people who shame nursing women should be challenged and made to understand the harm their actions have. With that in mind I was totally behind the nurse-in and had hoped to join them.

fr ted

However I’m not sure the media storm that comes with this challenge is helpful. It just gives a platform for a minority of ill-informed muppets to mouth off on radio phone-ins about how they believe nursing mothers should behave and this can only make breastfeeding mothers feel uncomfortable when nursing in public.  I’m not sure Nigel Farage has ever made a sensible comment on any topic so why should we expect him to be sensitive to the needs of a nursing mums and why should any of us care what he thinks any way.

In short, I don’t give a crap what Nigel thinks about breastfeeding and I hate that this story has become platform for UKIP’s uninformed views.

All this publicity given to the views of prats like Nigelle and previously the practices of employees at sports direct just create an impression of an unfriendly world out there ready to attack nursing mums.

This isn’t encouraging for nervous new mums and its not actually that accurate.  Over the past 4 months I’ve had only positive interactions when feeding out and about and I’ve fed in some crazy places from dodgy old man pubs, packed commuter trains and even in the middle of Deptford high street. Yes, actually on the street, well, on a bench on the street but Deptford high street is what an estate agent would probably call a “vibrant” market street.

I’m pretty passionate about breastfeeding for many reasons. Of course as you might expect I love the zero waste aspect of feeding without plastic bottles, packets of milk powder and the faff of sterilisation. In addition its free, less crap to lug about in the nappy bag, great for bonding with Bubba and protects against ill health. Even better it stops lining the pockets of greedy corporations like Nestle which can only be a good thing.

The problem is that even when everything goes well breastfeeding can be pretty tough on us mums, especially at first. And my heart goes out to any mum who faces problems such as tongue tie and reflux.

I never realised that we are such a bottlecentric society and how it affects women’s relationship with breastfeeding. For example, before I had Arlo I thought babies fed every 3 hours. Easy, I thought.  It turns out that breastfeeding babes can feed constantly…
for hours at a time….
Especially at the start!
And that’s normal!

Cluster feeding is basically how babies tell your body to make more milk – its their way of putting a note out for the milkman to leave an extra bottle.  Its definitely not a sign that you haven’t enough milk and supplementing with formula or trying to force a baby  into a strict routine can stop that note reaching the milkman and so reduce your milk supply. (Something some heathworkers,  bought up on bottle routines, scarily still don’t understand and so risk misinforming unsuspecting mums.

Its a bit of a shocker to find yourself in cluster feeding prison if you don’t expect it. However once I got my head round feeding on demand and all its challenges I quickly realised that unless I wanted to go stir crazy trapped on my sofa Arlo and I were going to have to get used to feeding out and about.


Judging by the comments floating round the radio phone-ins and internet last week it seems that there are a lot of bottlecentric people out there who still believe breastfeeding mums can time feeds and subsequently can and should do all their feeding out of sight. These people should not be given the chance to soapbox their uninformed views on shows that vulnerable, stressed nursing mums might be listening to.

When a woman gets shamed in one of our poshest hotels for feeding her child in the best way she can then lets shame that hotel back explain why they are wrong and move on. Let’s not start inviting people who don’t have the first idea of the challenges facing nursing mums to debate their crazy views on national media outlets.

And please God don’t ask Nigel Farrage anything at all.

Fearsome Freecycle.

This weekend Chris outdid himself. As usual, my over enthusiasm on eBay had resulted in the purchasing of a large and unwieldy object, in this case a bath, which although lovely and cheap and secondhand would require a lot of upheaval and hard work from Chris to make use of. It’s not really fair of me I know. If Chris doesn’t deal with said object then it sits about in our flat tripping us up or blocking fire exits. It would be fine if I stuck to buying small items or things that I can deal with/ install myself – but I never do. I’m also rubbish at driving so it’s Chris who ends up driving the hire van to collect the item. Added to that I’m now so tubby I can’t even help carry things up and down stairs! Spare a thought for my long suffering husband.


In some ways it’s good – my illadvised purchasing of 50s units and sinks and worktops pushed Chris into fixing up the kitchen – and I think he did a bloody good job!

50s secondhand kitchen put together by Chris

50s secondhand kitchen put together by Chris

But right now it certainly puts the pressure on. When a new baby might make an appearance out at any moment what’s a sensible thing to do?  Rip out your bathroom surely?

Saturday morning bathroom carnage

Saturday morning bathroom carnage

I guess in some ways it does make sense. We’ve got a birthing pool in the spare room all ready to be pressed into action so, if push came to shove we could always get clean using that. However, if I’m honest, I’m not so keen on the idea of giving birth in what is effectively a giant paddling pool in which Chris and I have been scrubbing our feet for the past month!


So, this weekend Chris set himself the challenge of ripping out our bath and installing a new one ready to get clean in on Monday morning. All I had to do, apart from make tea and cheer-lead, was to responsibly dispose of the old bath. Not a problem I thought


I confidently got on Freecycle with the intention of listing the bath plus a couple of doors no longer needed, a heavyweight large changing matt I found on the street and cant find space for and a slightly damaged cat carrier which is useful but unlikely to sell in a charity shop. I was jubilant about clearing yet more crap from my life.


Within hours I had collected two more doors. Poor Chris. I should put this in context. I am 8 months pregnant. I am starting to nest and my hormones loom large. On Saturday morning I was raging about the amount of crap lying about the flat getting in the way- hence my freecycle purge. And yet seconds later I am running about the borough to collect more crap.


Very patiently Chris pointed out that I was welcome to go collect two more doors but that he wasn’t sure he had the skills to hang them and wasn’t I already pissed at the doors we were trying to get rid of? I listened carefully to all of this, considered it … and then went and collected the doors.


On the way I got a phone call from a man about the bath. I felt better. I may be collecting more, large, crap for Chris to deal with but my new best friend Steve was going to come take the bath away. Sadly my bezzie mate couldn’t make it until tomorrow morning but I was cheerfully confident. The extra doors were a temporary setback. Tomorrow we would be able to walk our corridor and even open the front door unhindered by an ugly unplumbed bath. Someone else enquired about the bath and I said that it was being collected but if I was let down I would let them know


Of course the next morning Steve did not materialise and ignored all my gently enquiring texts. I offered it to the other enquirer who told me she had no way of collecting it and had changed her mind. I was still tripping over the bloody bath and I was now two doors up on the weekend … disaster.


By this point I was being snowed under by requests for the sodding cat carrier which I had promised to a lady who couldn’t collect until Sunday evening. I got an email from a lady who was convinced that I was giving away a baby bath but cunningly not advertising it as such. She made this deduction from the measurements I had included in the ad. (1700mm obviously being a perfect length for a baby bath!). No one contacted me about the freaking doors.


It’s worth noting that I’ve been having a stop start email relationship with an infuriating lady about the baby mat for over 2 weeks! Having not contacted me for days she sent a horrified email asking why my listing had moved. I managed to not send back an email full of vitriol pointing out that since she had consistently failed to contact me on the mobile number provided to arrange an actual, you know, collection then I had pretty much given up on her. Instead I let her know that she was welcome to come and collect the mat on the date she had mentioned, days in the future and would inform her if anyone collected it before then. She ignored this email and I am still awaiting any contact from her by email or otherwise. I am resigning myself to the walk to the charity shop carrying it.


I had initially advertised on both Freecycle and Gumtree but my infuriating lack of serious interest in anything except the damaged cat carrier led me to researching alternatives. I discovered this article

Fed up with Freecycle.

Yes! Yes! I am totally fed up with Freecycle. This isn’t the first time I’ve found the site clunky and unhelpful. I looked into the alternatives

Don’t Dump That seems to be based only in the North of England – Somehow I didn’t imagine anyone in Grimsby was planning on coming down to London to collect my old bath.

Freegle is based on Yahoo goups. It’s looks suspiciously like Freecycle circa 2001 which from memory was a special sort of hell to be involved with – I’ve totally forgotten my Yahoo password and I didn’t feel I could face the nightmare even to get rid of the bath. I guiltily ignored it

My Skip and V Skip are the same site – so I whacked on an ad for the bath and doors

Myskip-e1376994074540-640x240I also found and uploaded my items to that.


Late on Sunday I had two email enquiries for the bath and one for the babymat via gumtree. I responded to all three with my phone number to discuss collection– my messages were ignored.


The cat carrier was collected at the time discussed with the lovely lady who initially contacted me after she kept in contact over the weekend. I could have kissed her.


While I spent the weekend unable to tear myself away from my email account Chris ripped out the bath, repaired a hideous number of damp damaged floorboards, plumbed in the bath and tidied up. It’s impressive just how much of a driver the promise of a hot bath can be to efficient working.

Sunday evening beautiful bathroom

Sunday evening beautiful bathroom

We ran a celebratory bath while I looked at the even more cluttered corridor filled with 4, yes 4! doors a bath and a baby mat which I dread having to carry to the charity shop. Weirdly what really upset me was the number of enquiries I had from people some of whom sounded desperate to get their hands on my junk but who appeared to be frightened off by the idea that the items might still be available for collection.


There is a happy end to this story apart from a gorgeous bath plumbed in by my clever partner in record time. Yesterday afternoon a man called me up and asked to come and collect the bath within an hour.   Two and a half hours later – when I had added him to the pile of previous contacters who seem to delight in asking for my address and then never contacting me again (probably slightly better than someone who asks for my address and then stalks me I suppose) He turned up grabbed the bath and took it out of my life forever. I loved him.


Is it just me? Is it south London? I remember in Edinburgh and Hackney I feared using freecycle and gumtree mainly because I would be swamped with people trying to collect my junk. We did struggle with no shows but for every time waster there were always another 10 people willing to actually turn up in their absence. Since we’ve moved to Brockley I seem to struggle to give anything away on Freecycle – even the magic cat carrier was advertised with no luck 3 weeks earlier – two people set up collections and then never appeared. Gumtree is marginally better – I usually get one or two people interested in things eventually.


Sadly me and the Lewisham freecycle group seem to be incompatible – unless I want more doors of course!



Behind the times but moving fast… well faster than last month

A few weeks back my mate Jess asked me to look after her seedlings. In hindsight I’m wondering if she ever regretted that decision.
Are you sure that’s a good idea?! replied Chris when she asked him if I would mind a bit of green babysitting. This isn’t Chris being unkind you realise, just reflective of the fact that, barr 2013, for the past 5 years I have single-handedly overseen the slow death and destruction of a hoard sweatpeas. The only reason 2013 was such a roaring success was because I didn’t bother to plant or sow any.

Jess pointed out that her wee progeny would surely do better getting sporadic watering at our flat rather than being abandoned for two weeks with no-one to even ignore them at her flat.

I wasn’t sure. Not only was she ignoring my total absence of green fingers, she also wasn’t appreciating the impact of a hyperactive kitten, basement flat levels of light and worse still my crippling jealousy that she had actually got her shit together and planted something in a timely manner. To say I was daunted was an understatement.

When the precious cargo arrived my unease only increased. Not only had Jess planted an array of seeds from lobelia to tomatoes that were already sprouting brave wee green shoots (just in time for me and the cats to snuff out those little lives I couldn’t help thinking) she had even made sensible and ridiculously cute wee flags to identify each pot of stubby greenery.

After half an hour later the green shoots were still looking pretty alive and my initial fear was subsiding. Perhaps I had more skills than Chris or I appreciated. 30 whole minutes of uninterrupted seedling growing, nay, seedling thriving.  I was surely a pro, in fact I could probably take Alan Titchmarsh’s crown.

It was just as I was contemplating the name for my primetime bbc gardening  show that Herring, our youngest furry addition to the household leapt onto my lap with a ridiculously cute wee flag in his mouth.

Dreams of pairing up with my idol Bob Flowerdew on gardeners question time shattered as I chased the seedling nemises (disguised as an improbably cute kitten) round the flat and wrested the flag from his fearsome jaws. Well to be fair he pretty much dropped it in my lap and leapt off to gather another one. In fairness I was pretty impressed at how well he picked up his prize- it was almost as if he was unhindered by cripling fear about damaging the precious seedlings sheltering beneath their little flag.

I don’t think the damage was as bad as it could have been but I’m not sure that I could still claim the seedlings were exactly thriving under my expert care. Two weeks later, having locked the cats out of the spare bedroom and attempted to remember to water them with mixed success, I think this is still an accurate review of my skills.

The seedlings were returned looking slightly the worse for wear but mostly alive and I relaxed.

That was several weeks ago and I had all but accepted that I was never going to grow anything from seed this year (except the buba in my belly of course) I decided that the stress just didn’t agree with me or the cats
The arrival of the raised bed coupled with a bag of compost found on the street weakened my resolve.


And a sunny bank holiday on which I felt too fat and tired to move off a rug on the garden led to me finally get my gardening ass in gear

I made some wee pots from some old newspapers


A few years ago my big sis bought me an amazing kind off pot making thigummie





But garden betty has a great tutorial on doing this with just an old can or jam jar. These are a lot more sturdy than they look once filled with compost and are both free and a great reuse of discarded free papers found on the tube. Even better you can plant the seedling without worrying about disturbing its teeny roots – either peel off the paper and compost or plant the whole pot and Let it rot away. Super simple!

I had a load of seeds hanging about the house. Some bought in a fit of enthusiasm back in March, others found in a charity shop (in date but lets face it probably only just) and even packs left from previous years (chances of germination slim but better than waiting another year and surely better than throwing away.

A few varieties such as the winter squash aren’t so late and so might actually produce something but others are probably a waste of time. Either way I’m giving it a go. If only to let the cat know he hasn’t beaten me… yet


So far I have seen no green shoots. This basically means Herring and I are in the clear since there is still nothing for us to kill… yet

Freaky finds

My parents have just insulated their loft and, amidst the dust and dirt, have found a forgotten treasure trove above their heads.

Well not quite, but there’s been some small excitement. From a beautiful travelling trunk that would make a fab toy box for Buba-to-be (only after a serious power clean when I can face such trauma!)


To some sheets my mum made for my own cot 32 years ago and which fit our Moses basket perfectly.

The Moses basket plus stand was found on the street actually on the cycle home from our 12 week scan! I had spent the previous 24 hours struggling to explain, at length, exactly what a Moses basket was to a purplexed and slighty dubius Chris. Consequently I was heartily sick of talking about them and was just a little peeved when I heard him asking “you know Moses baskets?”

“Yes Chris, yes I think we’ve established that I know exactly what they are – although I’m starting to wish I’d never heard of them” I didn’t reply

“Do they look a bit like that?” He questioned.

All ready to sigh patiently and explain, again, what a moses basket might be and why it was nothing like whatever had caught his eye I almost fell off my bike to see him pointing at a near perfect basket sitting happily abandoned on a bin.

Moral of the story, always take the time to describe random items of baby equipment to doubtful partners. It pays dividends in the end.


Cat in a basket

A lot of the boxes in the attic date back to previous owners and my parents have found a few choice items which defenitely won’t be making it into Bub’s new/old toy box. This includes a basket of toys so disturbing I couldn’t bring myself to photograph them so you will have to imagine a one eyed motheaten sooty, a frankly terrifying miniature Punch puppet glove and this delightful blast from the past.


Definitely not one to pull out at a multicultural east London nursery.

A rather more welcome find is a selection of favourite books I remember from my childhood and can imagine reading with my kids.  Especially when it turns out Chris had some of the same books too. And I always thought Wacky Wednesday was just a Wacky thing from my childhood.

Now all we need to do is find a child-sized bookshelf on the cycle home from our next midwife appointment.

Making the most of Easter sunshine

So this afternoon Chris built a raised bed from discarded pallets and a “to let” sign that a lazy estate agent left in our garden for actual ever.


Garden workshop

I filled it up and dug it over – disturbing an ants nest in the process.


And our neighbours had a reggae barbeque.


Super clever handy husband

I think we all know who had the most fun this afternoon. That said, the jury is still out on who is going to get the best night’s sleep. I guess it all depends how late they party and if I ever manage to get these pesky ants out of my knickers.

Its true that we should have done this months ago
That we should already have seedlings ready to transplant into it
That its still only half full of earth
that needs a lot more compost and more digging over. (I’m itching just considering this
That it’s slightly wonky and built under a tree but


stop being picky. It is our first ever raised bed and we think it’s perfect. The only issue is the cats probably agree. I bet they think its a perfect toilet.


Cultured art-admiring cats still love a luxury loo