Friday, August 22, 2014

Perfect Babies

When I was a kid, I knew a family with a little boy that had Down's Syndrome. His nickname was Wiggy because he wriggled so much, he was hilarious and very fun to be with. When I was an older teen my best mate introduced me to her pub quiz team mate, he had Down's Syndrome, he liked to visit the pub, have a beer and chat with his friends, he liked the pub quiz evenings too, and was better than me at the questions. And life went on, and I forgot about them both.


I got pregnant after 6 months of trying, when I was 34. I was only a year off being officially designated an 'older mum' by the NHS. And my husband, 20 years my senior, was quite obviously an 'older dad'. We were both very excited (actually he was terrified! LOL) about having a baby, a small person, a 'mini-me' joining us.

And then of course there was all the usual stuff, I went to my GP to tell him I was pregnant. I had no idea how all this medical care worked, so I expected being told how the NHS would sort things etc. Instead I saw a locum GP (a woman) who looked at me as if I was crazy and then said "and?"...

"erm" I replied "don't you check I really am? or schedule check ups or something?"

She laughed "not yet, I'll just take your word for it, come back in a few weeks"

So I did. Eventually the old wheels began turning, midwives said hello, blood was taken, blood pressure checked. And then at a routine appointment my (male) GP asked when I was having my nuchal scan and Down's testing.

"I'm not" I replied.

"Why not?" he asked, surprised.

"Because there's no point" I said "I won't have a termination and heart defects will be picked up on my dating scans anyway"

There was silence and then he said "I know if I knew I was having a Down's baby I would have a termination"

Would you, I thought, would you really. Well then it's lucky that a) you're a man and never likely to be pregnant and b) that I'm this baby's mum not you and c) that it's not up to you! I was silent too though, until I eventually, and probably fairly quietly said "well I'm sure, I don't want a test"

"We'll put down 'undecided' on the form" he said "Then the nurses can ask you again when you've had time to think about it"

I had thought about it. A lot. As I was oldish and my husband was older I had had a sort of nervous background mental hum saying "this baby might be disabled you know, it might have Down's syndrome, it will look different, have learning disabilities, have a terrible life...."

I had lain awake at night thinking it. I had gone to the shops thinking it. I had talked to my husband about it and he was really afraid that if this baby wasn't 'perfect' we wouldn't cope. I had thought about almost nothing else since I got pregnant. I hadn't worried that I might lose the baby. A common fear among mothers, but that the baby would be 'faulty', I'd worried about that a lot.

Early on I talked to the baby, calling the tiny thing (as yet un-sexed) the 'peanut' and chatting about day to day things. My husband wanted a girl, he believed that girls were the future and could do everything boys do and then some!(turns out he was right)  I wanted a boy, cute in dungarees, collecting snails and making mud dams in streams...
I didn't want a 'faulty' baby.

And then one day, after we had had a couple of scans, and finally knew that the peanut was a girl, we went to Lewes for a day. We sat in a park, we watched children at a wedding, dressed in cute, smart Sunday best and playing hide and seek around the trees. They jumped and ran, they squealed and laughed and I stroked my new bump and thought of our baby. And then...and then one of the children turned around and she had Down's Syndrome and she was beautiful, and perfect, and funny, and laughing and just like all the other children and in one heartbeat my baby was perfect whatever she turned out to be.

(I got teary eyed typing that - what a wuss)

When DD was born, one week late yet under weight and still covered in downy hair, she was my beautiful baby.

Of course if you've seen and read about DD you'll know she doesn't have Down's Syndrome.

Funny thing though, about genetic diseases. When DD was 2 I was diagnosed with Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy (also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth or CMT). They do genetic testing for that you know...I expect you can get a termination based on it...we haven't had DD tested.

I'd like to thank Hayley at Downssideup for the lovely picture of her famous super model daughter Natty :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


DD gets terrible hay fever. She gets it in the spring and in the autumn usually, and it's been really bad this week so I guess autumn really is here!

When we went to Camp Bestival we took with us a lovely wicker hamper and a prettily coloured picnic blanket thoughtfully supplied by Piriton's PR team. (Thank you - we've been using it all summer!)

They wanted us to know about the Camp Bestival low allergy garden. What a great idea! While it seems DD copes OK in the garden most of the summer (I think she is a tree and grass pollen allergy type) it's nice to see things that kids can enjoy outside while taking allergies into account.

The vibrant, low allergen garden was designed for all of the family to enjoy, with a dedicated play area for children. The Sneeze Free Garden was created using low-allergen plants, to be appreciated by all who visited the space.
Visitors to the Sneeze Free Garden were also able to learn more about allergies and what causes them by visiting the allergy advice hut, where there was an expert on hand to
provide allergy advice.

We didn't get the chance to actually go in as it was always so busy! Lots of happy kids playing in sand and mums chatting, it looked lovely!
child sniffing a rose copyright 123rf photo
Copyright: erika8213 / 123RF Stock Photo
Suggestions and advice on planting for those with allergies from the Piri Allergy Website include

"Plants that pollinate using the wind are the worst. These plants send
their pollen out into the world to find other plants. Unfortunately,
they often find allergy sufferers.

Some flowers have a heavier pollen that is not spread by the
wind, but instead is transported by the birds who are attracted to the
flower's bright colour and nectar. These are the flowers that you should
plant if you suffer from allergies because you are less likely to come
into contact with their pollen.

Some perennials that are garden friendly for allergy
sufferers are daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, iris, tulips, columbine,
coral bells, peonies, and the ever popular day lily. Bougainvillea and
azaleas are also on this list.

Annuals which have no history of causing allergies are
impatiens, snapdragons, and petunias, geraniums, verbena, pansies, and

Roses are some of the least offending flowers. Their pollen
is large, and less likely to be spread around in the wind. Hybrid roses
have even less pollen than wild roses and their varieties. When choosing
a rose bush, the rule to obtain the least pollen is to choose the rose
with the least smell. A pale pink Cecile Brunner rose and the Banksia
rose produce no pollen whatsoever."

Our garden is fairly good for allergies and mostly perennial flower free, we plant impatiens, geraniums and pansies in the summer, but we do have a rather large silver birch - one of the worst offenders! Poor DD - thank goodness for antihistamines!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Well would you look at this!

Ladles and JellySpoons,

I come before you, to stand behind you, to tell you something I know nothing about... (I blogged about silly rhymes here)

This silly introduction seemed apt. I am about to alert you to a product that I have not tried! Have not seen in the flesh and haven't tested!

BUT details of it were emailed to me and I'll be honest I think it looks good!  It's not cheap, but it's on offer at the moment.

'What is this awesome thing?' I hear you mutter - well it is a lunch carrier. Not a box and yet not really a bag. Insulated and also doubles as a place mat when opened up and once empty squashes up into a small flat space in your bag. All of those things appealed to me! Oh and it's machine washable! Hooray - not more trying to wipe out crumbs, or rinsing stuff in the sink.

DD being a teen doesn't want some 'naff' lunch box all plastic and character themed, and while for some time she had a solid box, its lack of insulation was a problem. We bought a plain squishy insulated 'bag' type but it has a 'wipe clean' interior, the corners get full of crumbs and it's just a pain to clean. I really like the look of these neoprene lunch carriers. They come in lots of funky colours too.

What do you think? Am I sucked in by clever advertising? Or do they look good to you too? At just under £20 (currently) are they too expensive?

Love to hear your thoughts.

I haven't been paid, I haven't got a free lunch box, I haven't even been sent a kiss from The Nicest Stuff - though they have followed me on twitter :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


A few days ago I saw that the post40bloggers had posted a blog prompt. The remit was to write about fear. Usually I don't latch on to this sort of prompt but it suddenly made me think to something that happened at a festival a week or so ago.

When we go to Wilderness Festival the thing that DD likes to do most there is to roller skate. They have a rink outside (though covered against the British Summer weather!) and they have lights and disco music. The guys that skate as staff there know all the moves and DD enjoys skating sedately round and round for hours at a time (literally! I have to force her to leave!) watching the others skating.

roller disco blurred topless guys

The things she likes to watch most are the hilarious falls of the cocky, often drunk, and usually hot, guys that come onto the rink to show off.

Sometimes they are dressed up like camp disco kings, sometimes topless and boldly showing six packs and shouting to mates to hold their gin while they show the world their disco skating moves. DD has noticed that the bigger the bluster, the louder the banter and the more flamboyant the dress, the more they fall. She finds this terribly amusing.

On the Sunday we went to the rink and she went to skate while I drank Monkey Shoulder cocktails and ate Burger Bear burgers and sat in the sun (and the occasional drizzle) and listened to gospel music at the Juke Joint.

Juke Joint shack and music at wilderness festival

I looked across to the rink occasionally to see her skate by, to check all was ok. Once I couldn't see her on the rink so I popped over to check. It turned out that the staff had cleared the rink for a lot of large 'tipsy' fellows to have a skate - they were afraid the smaller kids would be squashed! DD was happy to watch them crash and fall until they left and she returned to skate.

Time passed, I drank more cocktails. I chatted to the nice cocktail lady. Telling her how awesome DD was (I was drunk remember) I ordered more booze and sat down again. Halfway through my drink I glanced up. An ambulance was coming slowly across the muddy field. At one point it slipped sideways on a slope and some festival goers helped push it straight and back on its way. It came closer and closer and I became paralysed with fear.

It seems so silly now but it was weird at the time. I immediately worried that DD had fallen, that she must be unconscious as all the staff knew us and knew where I was and she would have cried for me. I thought that she would have fallen while I was telling the lady at the bar how awesome she was. That she would be dying even as I sat and sipped my cocktail. I was too terrified to go and look. I sat frozen in my chair watching the ambulance park and the paramedics head for the rink with a stretcher. I sat filled with fear, still sipping my cocktail, imagining how I would tell my husband, how it was my fault not being there, that I was a terrible parent. I sat almost in tears, too scared to move.

And then the paramedics came out, with a middle aged woman on the stretcher, chatting, laughing.

I got up and went to see what DD was up to. It transpired that they had cleared the rink after the woman had fallen badly and twisted her ankle. When it became clear she couldn't bear any weight on that leg they had called the ambulance. While I waited, transfixed with terror, DD had been enjoying the drama. The ambulance left. DD skated for another hour. I had another cocktail to steady my nerves.

Roller disco

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What I did in my holidays - Camp Bestival

I shall rely mainly on the medium of slightly odd drunken photos to share my experiences of Camp Bestival this year.

As you know I was given the amazing privilege of attending on of the 'funnest' festivals of the summer as an Official Camp Bestival Blogger. Sadly this did not enable me to grope any famous beards.(I might have kissed a beard though....shhhh )

We arrived on the Thursday as I know from experience that the fields fill quickly and the best (flattest) spots in the camp site will be taken by Friday. As I was meeting up with my brother and his family it was vital i secured a large enough pitch. We had two young teens with us who shared their own tent. So we were a 3 tent group (though not such pitch hoggers as to bring a gazebo too!).

After setting up (in the Purple campsite) we were too lazy to really explore past the portaloos (the usual functional but grim chemical toilets - which ran out of loo roll and hand gel on day 1, so glad we were prepared!) and the nearby food places, sadly no Grill this year, but a nice coffee stall and a smoothie place.

And then on Friday the fun began. My brother, at his first ever festival, enjoyed the kids field and perfected his circus skills

We chilled to Courtney Pine

Were thrilled by the Insect (and mollusc) Circus

Saturday was fancy dress day, and we dressed in our Circus best, with me as Ringmaster, trying hard to control the big cats (and the bearded lady and the fortune teller)

The jousting was great fun, so much so that we went twice

A little Chap-Hop with  Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer was spiffing!

And the food was so good that I kept forgetting to photograph it!!

The Dingly Dell was filled with excited children getting back to nature and down and dirty...

I fell in love with, and got a bit tipsy on, the jam jar cocktails, specifically the Bloody Mary

The weather was lovely (I managed to sunburn my breasts - don't ask)

The entertainment was second to none as always, a bright splash of colour across a gorgeous landscape

We Met up with Juggle Mum and her family for Sunday Roast with the Surplus Supper Club

Then after comedy, more food, more booze etc there was the fabulous firework display (DD was slightly sad there was no cartoon show this year on the castle, but my brother was extremely pleased that his favourite band Queen provided the soundscape for the incredible light show.)

All in all it was a fantastic weekend.

And then, on Monday, we went home...staggering up the hills to the car park

Very impressed with how clean people left the campsite!

Early bird tickets are already sold out!! But why not join us next year? You can pay in instalments and spread the cost. Check out TicketLine for details.

all these photos and more at Flickr