Oh no, George!

B is really into books at the moment. We have a box of them downstairs and when she wants one she points at the box and goes ‘agggh’ (or something like that) – she can say a lot of words, but not ‘book’! One of her favourite books is Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. It is a most excellent book.

The illustrations are great for babies and toddlers – quite simple and bright, but there are details like the expressions on George’s face that make the book fun for adults to read, too. The story is very sweet  – poor George wants to be good when his owner goes out, but he can’t quite resist the temptations of cake to eat, a cat to ‘play with’ or soil to dig! Can he make amends and turn over a new leaf? Well, you will have to read the book and see…

Also, please check out Chris Haughton’s website for more George-related gems and other cool books and things.

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Something a bit different


This is a post from my other blog about my other blog…

Originally posted on a nice cup of tea:

This post is something a bit different to the usual fare for this blog. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I was moved to write this post when I read Katherine Welby-Roberts’ piece about her fight with depression  in the Telegraph (via Twitter). Please do read her article. This quote is what got me thinking (or continuing to think):

…in a society that so often defines its self-worth according to Facebook likes and Twitter followers, the pressure to present an image of success and strength is greater than ever.

When we share something ‘authentic’ it’s nothing of the sort – having been perfected and airbrushed to fit what society deems worthy.

Even when portraying ourselves as ‘broken’, we still want to look good, successful and powerful.

I’m writing about my problem with sites like this, home decor/lifestyle/home style/whatever-you-like-to-call them, -sites. This is that they present an image…

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Cale St/Royal Brompton Hospital to Victoria Station/Grosvenor Gardens

This is my most frequent London bus journey. Bus number 211 to Waterloo. I took these on the way back from the patient conference.

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Rochester sweeps up!

We had a nice Bank Holiday Monday yesterday. B and I went to the Sweeps Festival in Rochester. It was very busy and full of interesting things, people and dogs for B to look at, so she (fortunately) didn’t mind being in her pushchair for most of the time. We went to the Cathedral Tea Rooms garden so she could get out of the pushchair, but unfortunately she is scared of grass at the moment so that didn’t really work out! Here are a few pictures of the day (none of B, sorry!):

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Two kinds of heart patients? I don’t think so.

I had a very interesting and enjoyable day yesterday at the Royal Brompton Hospital’s ACHD (Adult Congenital Heart Disease) Patient Conference . All the speakers were excellent and I learned lots of new things and met some new people. However, I was slightly disturbed by the attitudes of a few of my fellow patients. One man said he didn’t see why he should try and have a healthy lifestyle because he hadn’t asked to be born with a heart condition, unlike the people with acquired heart disease caused by over-eating and smoking. This is just total nonsense, obviously, but I guess it’s his choice. The opinion that most disturbed me is not, I suspect, a new or even unusual one among the ACHD community; which is that, and I quote:

” there are two kinds of heart patients; the ones that get on with it and the ones that do the self-pity thing.”

How easy it is to divide people up into kinds. I know it was probably an off the cuff remark, but I think it reflects a general attitude among many ACHD people (generally patients, not medics, in my experience) that it is not OK to feel sorry for yourself, or complain, or feel down (or at least not show it if you do), or be embarrassed by your scar, or ask ‘why me?’ or be miserable in any way. Of course it’s good to have a positive attitude if and when we can – it’s better for our hearts, after all. But I think we also need to give ourselves a bit of a break and recognise that the people trying the hardest aren’t always the ones who are running marathons or spieling the fighting talk and the positive thinking clichés. Just because people admit they’re finding things difficult doesn’t mean they’re not ‘getting on with it’ – if they weren’t they wouldn’t be here! On a related point, people who have depression or other mental health issues as well as ACHD are struggling (at least) doubly hard!

I think there is a certain pressure on anyone with a long-term health condition to be ‘a fighter’ or equivalent (see, e.g. the phrase “heart warrior”, often used in relation to children, something I’m particularly uncomfortable with). Even as adults, we can sometimes feel like we’re letting our loved ones down if we don’t cope as well as we might. I remember being in hospital (aged 30) after heart surgery and a little setback caused by a stomach ulcer (caused by the stress of the operation) feeling massively miserable about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to go home as soon as I wanted to and that I wasn’t allowed to eat. I asked the nurse to tell my mum she couldn’t come and see me because I didn’t want her to see me being so miserable and being less well than I had been. I was so angry and sad because (a) I felt sorry for myself and (b) I felt like I was going to disappoint my mum and let her down somehow because I was having to be back on a drip and in bed. It seems like madness when I think about it now, but it was very much the case for me at the time.

I don’t feel like and am not a fighter or a warrior or anything of the kind. I get scared, I worry, I cry, I complain, I think it’s unfair, I get depressed, I get angry, I wish I could do things I can’t do, I go through periods of denial, I feel sorry for myself, I want to be ‘normal’. Yes, still. I do wear my scar with more pride than I used to, if that helps. And I get on with it, because that’s the only choice I have.

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A little side project

We’ve been making a few cosmetic and some slightly more substantial changes around the house since B arrived and I thought I’d share some of these over on a new blog: a nice cup of tea.

It’s a side project to this blog, so I’ll still be posting here as well; I just thought it would be nice to try writing a blog focussed on one particular subject (plus this one is a bit too eclectic already!) so I decided to give my ‘home style’ thoughts a home of their own.

Please do pop over and say hello if you like!

A nice cup of tea

A nice cup of tea in Broadstairs

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Singing makes me happy

I hadn’t been to Other Choir (as opposed to Choir) for absolutely ages. I gave it up for a while because I didn’t enjoy it anymore and then I was on maternity leave, but now I can (thanks to the generosity of my mum and husband who look after B while I’m not there) go to rehearsals again. There is a new (to me) conductor and I’d heard good things from library colleagues who also belong to the choir. They weren’t wrong! We sang two songs I really like, Linden Lea and Down to the River to Pray and they were mostly right in the middle of my range – notes I can actually sing! Hooray! Also, there are lovely harmonies in both pieces. Singing is definitely one of the things that makes me happiest, but I’m glad I didn’t actually cry with joy otherwise it might have been a bit embarrassing…

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