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!

Ten things I have learnt from having a Toddler

1. Pumpkin may have little legs, but those little toddler legs can run fast, especially when there are clothes to be put on or a nappy to change.

2. Dressing a toddler is like trying to stop the drunk person dancing at the end of a wedding…no matter how many times you try to reason with them, they will continue to wave their arms and legs around like propellers and throwing their head back, as if they are singing along to their favourite wedding disco song!

3. A Toddler will inadvertently use an inappropriate word, as they broaden their vocabulary! Pumpkin is picking up lots of new words, particularly ones from his favourite nursery rhymes; his current favourite is “Hickory Dickory Dock” and whilst we were in the queue at the chemist, he proudly pointed to the clock and at the top of his voice he declared to all that this was a “cock”!, cue pitying looks from other customers and smirks from the sales assistant who was trying not to burst out laughing.

4. What a Toddler may love to eat one day, he will absolutely loathe the next and will behave as if you have poisoned him if you attempt to give it to him again. This will be particularly the case if you try to feed him in public.

5. Whilst on the subject of food, a toddler will start to eat all kinds of lovely home cooked meals at nursery, which you would have tried on numerous occasions to feed him at home, but with no success, however at nursery he will be demanding seconds.

6. When a Toddler learns the word “No”, this will have all sorts of meanings to him and you will need to learn from the tone of his voice to whether he actually means yes. This minuscule difference, will determine whether you will have a “love you forever” smile, tantrum or a riot on your hands!

7. You get to watch the sheer delight on their face as they explore the world around them. As grown ups, we have long forgotten the simple things like how interesting a little stone is on a pavement, or how it feels to just let the rain fall on us and feel the wind blowing around us (and messing up our straightener hair), and do you know what it’s a pleasure to rediscover those things again, who cares about straight hair (ok, maybe I do a bit!!), but just hearing Pumpkins delighted squeals and beaming smile, is absolutely priceless.

8. A Toddler will start putting you through training for when they become bigger children; Pumpkin loves Mega Bloks and I am forever tripping or standing on them and yes it hurts. This is just the training for the big guns…Lego!

9. In a Toddler’s mind, what is yours, belongs to them and what is theirs, belongs to them as they are still mastering the social skill of sharing! A fine example of this was this morning whilst getting dressed, Pumpkin grabbed my bra and toddled off at speed (see point 1), so whilst tying retrieve bra and provide an alternative toy, alternative toy was also taken and Pumpkin was off down the hall waving both arms in the air with bra and toy in each hand…it was too early, not worth the battle, so I gave up and got another not so colour coordinated one!

10. A Toddler will give you an enormous sense of confidence, my fiancé and family never heard me sing before Pumpkin was born and now I spend most of my day singing with him, whether this is indoors or out and about. It makes pumpkin happy and that makes me happy.

The list could go on, but Pumpkin is waking from his nap and I have some serious Megabloks building to do, whilst singing Hickory Dickory Cock, oops I mean Dock!

First Shoes

Since moving to Somerset and having more space for Pumpkin to move about and explore, he has quickly reached the milestone of walking/stumbling around like an extra on the Walking Dead.

This only meant one thing…Shoe shopping! The fleeting thought of taking Pumpkin to the nearest town and letting him choose a pair of Converse, was abruptly pushed aside at the reality of the task ahead. After all, Pumpkin is still learning how to use his feet, they are still developing and growing and we need to give them the best start they can have. So all, thoughts of a lovely bright pair of Converse were pushed aside (incidentally, when Pumpkin was shown pictures of them on the iPad, he chose a pink pair…that’s my boy!).

The next day, off we went as a family, phones in hand to document this milestone, to one of the nearest shoe shop that offered a specialist fitting service for a child’s first shoes. Unfortunately, they didn’t advertise that their staff had a distinct allergy to small children/mini beasts. Pumpkin, picked up on this allergy immediately, the mischievous sparkle in his eyes was on high beam, as he yelled “shoeeeeeys” at the top of his lungs and promptly lunged for the nearest shelf to sample the shoes on sale. The shop assistant put on her best fake smile, whilst looking like she was sucking on a “Sourz” sweet, and came at Pumpkin with the foot measuring device. At this point, I should have called it a day, but the foot measuring device had caught Pumpkin’s eye and miraculously he had calmed down and was taking a keen interest in what was about to happen.

Please, picture the scene: Pumpkin is now sat angelically on my lap, beaming his best smile at the shop assistant and there is an eerie silence in the shop…I am putting on my best Mummy voice telling Pumpkin what we are about to do and that he will get a pair of shoes of his own etc etc. When suddenly, he makes a grab for the measuring device, no one is quick enough for this, he is delighted at this moment of glory as he swings it around, narrowly missing the shop assistants fake smiley face. Somehow, in this mayhem she has worked out his foot size, to this day I still do not know how she has done this, for the measuring device did not once go near his foot. Off, skuttles the shop assistant (probably to seek cover in the stock room) and I mouth to my partner to quickly gather our things and go.

However, in this moment, this one moment that we could have done a runner…this one precious moment where we could have avoided the horror of what was to come next…Pumpkin had caught sight of the toy box (let me just edit that, toy box is a very loose term, it was a plastic box, with tired, broken toys, that no child in their right sense of mind would want to play with, apart from our darling child of course!) and he had emptied it’s contents across the floor, grabbed the nearby shoes off the shelves and was sat in the middle of the mayhem looking thoroughly delighted with himself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or still walk out the door leaving the mess behind us. However, before I could make a decision the shop assistant was back (face now looking like it was about to explode) with the most hideous pair of shoes, I have ever seen (cue, horrible flashback childhood memories from me). I sit here writing with my hand on my heart, I can honestly say, they were the most hideous things I had seen, this includes the horrors that I tried on as a kid and had no choice but to wear as I had such wide feet. I did not want Pumpkin to wear those horrible things, to some that may seem petty, but I remember the feeling of wearing horrible shoes as a child, when all my friends had gorgeous dainty shoes and I had big clumpy ugly ones. So, I put my foot down at this point. I declared that Pumpkin was getting grumpy and I felt this should be attempted again another day. We tidied up the toys and the shoes and left as quick as we could, retreating to the nearest coffee shop for a caffeine and sugar fix to recover from what had just happened.

The next day, with Pumpkin in a better mood, we set off to a more well known high street shop, a little bit further away. We were helped to find the perfect pair of first shoes by a brilliant assistant called Megan. Megan became Pumpkins new best friend, she let him wreck her immaculate shoe displays, in fact she helped him do it and they had fun with the shoe measuring device, he wanted her to hold his hand as he walked around the shop to get used to his first pair of shoes. We were able to take photographs to make memories of this precious milestone in Pumpkins life. In the not so distant future, shoe shopping will become a mundane task, but for that moment, it was precious and fun for a little boy who is making his first little steps into a big world.

So, why the name Pumpkin?

Since starting this blog, I have been asked a number of times why I refer to our son as “Pumpkin” and not his real name.  There are a couple of reasons for this, Pumpkin is an affectionate name I often call him and have done since he was born and it seems the most appropriate name to use on my blog to protect his privacy at this time in his life.

The name Pumpkin stems from my labour being brought on early by a Pumpkin Latte (Thank you, Starbucks!*).  I had managed to avoid coffee all the way through my pregnancy and I had just 6 days left until my planned C-Section, when I had the biggest craving ever for a Pumpkin Latte.  Luckily for me, Starbucks had launched their Autumn Menu that week (Thank you, Starbucks!), so I dragged my partner out for a 40 minute drive to our nearest Starbucks to drink Lattes in a September heatwave!  I was feeling all very smug, until a few hours later when I had my first show, this was not supposed to be happening and my Midwife reassured me the following morning that this does not necessarily mean that labour will follow immediately and it will be more than likely that I will still be delivering as planned next week.

With a big sigh of relief, off we went with plans of how we were going to spend our last weekend as a couple before we become a little family.   Our weekend commenced with…yes a Pumpkin Latte.  After we made the 40 minute drive to Starbucks and were walking in, I jokingly said “I bet I go into labour after this” and how we laughed at how ridiculous the notion was.  Roll on 10 hours later, and I wasn’t laughing so smugly then, as labour had well and truely started (Thank you, Starbucks!) and 19 and a half hours later, this is how Pumpkin got his name!

The main reason for not using Pumpkin’s real name is, as parents we both want him to have a say when he is old enough, to whether he wants to have his real name used on this blog after all he is a person in his own right and will he want his childhood exploits easily found by his friends?  This is a conversation to be had will him when he is older, hopefully before the grunts and bedroom door slamming starts.

Additionally, for the same reason, I will not be using any photographs of Pumpkin, as I will leave it up to him to whether he wants his photograph to be used upon my blog at a later date, or not.

For us as parents, we grew up in a world where we are lucky enough not to have all our childhoods, experimental teens, and twenties shared on Social Media (Hooray!!!).  It’s a different world for Pumpkin, so until he is old enough and ready to make his own mind up, as parent’s we are going to protect him for as long as possible.

*This post is not in anyway sponsored by Starbucks

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.