Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Welcome to the final edition of Blog, Brew and Biscuits; over the past couple of months, I opened up my blog to a group of rather lovely bloggers who have been sharing their blogging wisdom with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am taking and also new bloggers, who are also full of questions and who like me are finding their feet. So, for the final time, please make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know from Julz from The Red Head Diaries.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I am married to my soul mate; I have five children; four I parent and one I share just her memory. I am a dinner lady and a volunteer at our local school; as well as attempting to write a novel or two; I am a Committee Member for a Majorette troupe, and finally I set up and run a local infant loss group! Phew!

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?

I actually have two! The first one I have been writing for almost six years and the second almost four – I have no idea where the years have gone! The first is my relationship with grief for our daughter. The other is a place where I can share memories, and pieces of fiction I have lingering about, which aren’t quite long enough to place into books.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Well, I have always loved writing and luckily for me my husband is also a writer and is incredibly supportive. In more recent years, I began jotting down our daughter’s life through NICU, what was meant to be a diary ready for memories, turned into a diary centred on bereavement, when I became pregnant with her younger sister I decided to blog our pregnancy. In time I really fell in love with writing and wanted to include the rest of the family, and the things we do; but felt it was inappropriate to share parenting memories on a place I wanted to give comfort and hope to newly bereaved parents. Although there have been a couple of name changes – The Red Head Diaries was born!

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?

1. Would be to look into self-hosted ASAP. It is reasonably cheap, easy to set up and if you don’t like it. Cancel it.
2. Know your content; I lost my way a little bit, just after I finally turned to self-hosting; I found I was comparing myself, and trying to keep up and do the same as the thousands of other bloggers out there. I hated it. Be yourself.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?

I try to schedule as much as I can; but I spend my weekends working on content as we’re both home. We’re still trying to find our way; but we’ll be sure to get there.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?

I just want my work to be read; I don’t want it to go un-noticed. I love writing for both the blogs; raising awareness with one, and just plain writing for the other. That would be awesome!

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?

Content Planning. Sometimes it can be hard to find the content; when you do you realise wither everyone else has thought of it; or you have forgotten you have already covered it in a different manner. Also I think getting your blogs seen and read is really hard; unless you have time to literally sit on your phone all day on Instagram, sharing, sharing, and sharing (which is amazing if you can – I can’t); then placing yourself on top of all the other great bloggers can be hard and at times really disheartening.

And the easiest?

Writing and planning. When you have found your Niche, and the content you want to put in you blog it can be easy just to sit and go with the flow. Do NOT procrastinate in the middle of that flow – because you will break it!

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?

The one movie would be – Gone In 60 Seconds
The one song would be – Radiohead – Creep
The one book would be Alice in Wonderland

I would like to thank Julz for joining me on my blog – please take the time to visit her Blog too – The Red Head Diaries.

You can also find Julz on:

Facebook Page: Mrs S Writes
Instagram: mrsswrites
Twitter: mrsswrites

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Memories: Reykjavik, Iceland

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant!

So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories!

Should I stay or should I go?

Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant…this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go.

A little panic…

Memories: Iceland This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant! So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories! Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant...this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go. When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice - I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore! I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing! One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!). Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs! Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland! I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice – I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore!

Exploring!

I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing!

One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!).

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs!

Being pregnant and local Icelandic delicacies

Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland!

My thoughts:

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

Pumpkin is One

One year ago, I was in Labour, which wasn’t supposed to happen as I was booked in to have an elective C Section 4 days later, at a set time, with no, I repeat, no labour pains! However, no matter how much I was repeating the mantra “this is not how it is supposed to happen” to myself, I was reminded every 3 minutes for the next 18 hours, that I was well and truly in labour and Pumpkin was going to come out sooner than planned. It was at this point, I wished that I had paid more attention in the ante-natal class about other birth plans/pain relief. In the end, I had an emergency C Section, my surgical team were amazing and all was fine.

Roll on a year, one of the most magical, life changing years of our lives. A year ago, we became parents to the most adventurous, mischievous and comical little boy, who everyday without fail, makes us laugh and feel extremely lucky. I can’t lie, sometimes the realisation of the responsibility of being a parent to Pumpkin can be overwhelming. Frequently wondering if we are doing things right: are we feeding him the right foods, is he warm/cool enough etc. Then, all we have to do, is look at Pumpkin, he is thriving, happy and learning so much, so quickly; and then we fall in love with him even more than we already have.

Tomorrow, Pumpkin will wake up to his family celebrating his birthday, will he understand what is happening? The lovely scrunchy wrapping paper, the new toys and books, the bright birthday banner across the wall and the sugar loaded cake which he will have as a special treat for his pudding? I don’t know how much he will understand, but it’s his special day and we are going to make it as special as the day he arrived screaming into the world and our arms; the day our lives changed for ever.

For us, we are celebrating a year of surviving as parents and a stronger relationship as a result. This year has been amazing and really hard work; there has been laughter, tears, pure exhaustion, some bickering (again, usually down to pure exhaustion) and a love never experienced before for a little person completely dependent upon us. So, think of us tomorrow evening, eating left-over Birthday cake and then wishing we hadn’t, when we are desperately trying to fall asleep, but can’t because we are on a sugar high at 10.00pm (for those without children…that is a late night, when your little one likes to wake up at 5.00am!).
Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Pumpkin xx

I need a little time…for me.

I have toyed with the idea of writing about the adventures of becoming a mummy to our wonderful little pumpkin and living with Lupus; which likes to rear its ugly head when I least expect and want it to.

However, time has flown by for the past 11 and a half months and I have never quite found some time to sit down and write.  As there is always a nappy to change, better still a cuddle to be had, a lullaby to be sung or at its worse a blood test to be arranged. Oh, and now the The Great British Bake Off is on, so let’s throw another challenge into the mix and while we are at it, and I should just admit it, just by watching the GBBO I get serious cake cravings, so therefore, I’m playing my part increasing M&S’ cake sale profits, as I just don’t have time to bake at the moment – the Domestic Goddess is out of the office until further notice!

Despite all these hurdles, I wouldn’t change a single thing, I absolutely love my little family and everyday I am learning to live with Lupus and embrace it as part of my life too.
I have finally realised that I need a bit of ‘me’ time in this busy hectic thing called motherhood and did I mention we are also in the middle of relocating from Kent to Somerset, stressed? Me??!  Therefore, I am regaining some “me” time by writing a blog amongst all this chaos.

I am hoping that by writing about the day to day happenings in our family life, it will be therapeutic to me (taking away some of the stresses of packing/being surrounded by boxes), to perhaps become a journal to share with Pumpkin later on (I may have to be selective at times) and hopefully be a support to others in similar situations to myself.

So, pour a mug of coffee, grab a cake and join me on this blogging adventure. In reality, that should read…So, while you are enjoying a cold sip of coffee and left over Colin the caterpillar cake, enjoy this insight into my life.