Monthly Archives: February 2011

A diary of sorts

Day 11

The sound of bells from the Bristol Cathedral, an ambulance towards Clifton, loud rain on the windows and the baby’s soft breathing. A grey day.

Day 12

Today the baby was restless all morning. Usually there are three things which make her cry: being hungry, needing her nappy changed and needing to be winded. The rest of the time she is pretty much a little zonky all passed out in her Moses basket, bed or couch. Today she will only sleep in my arms and according to her she’s been hungry since 8:00 when we woke up. The time is now 13:29.

Day 13

She wakes up at 4.30 in the morning and we feed, change her nappy, feed again until after six and then go back to sleep. She wakes up again at eight and we go through the same routine until 10. Today, dad comes by with some friends and she gets to be zonked out in his arms for a while.

She’s sleeping and now and then she wails or raises her head. She has some strands of gold through her dark hair.

Unicorns and coffee with the Venue

Did Caffe Nero at the Clifton Triangle ever have a bench and stools looking out the window? I remember looking out, I must have been drinking something and reading an article I had printed out at uni. The guy next to me was waiting for his friend and before she appeared he asked if I had seen the unicorns. I looked at him. I hadn’t seen the unicorns.

They are on top of the council house building, he said. I tried to remember the building but no unicorns came to mind. That was five years ago and I often pass off the question now as mine.

Why are they there? I never knew until Venue magazine published its Plinth Charming feature.

The unicorns were made by David McFall and stand with right hoof raised on top of the Council House on College Green. Apparently, “when the unicorns were delivered in 1950, no one down the Council House knew what they were for or who’d ordered them, causing much mirth in the press”.

The feature is by Eugene Byrne and it’s not entirely about the golden, shiny, mythical creatures. It is about the work ‘Public Sculpture of Bristol’ by Douglas Merritt and Francis Greenacre with Katharine Eustace. Some familiar sculptures are the ‘nails’ on Corn Street, the bust of Samuel Plimsoll opposite the SS Great Britain and the Creation scene by Walter Ritchie outside the Bristol Eye Hospital. There are many more unknown works of course and these could be even more interesting than the familiar ones which now feel local.

The book was produced for the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA) and adds a little more detail and depth to the bits and pieces that make up Bristol. Added layers to the city include these sturdy additions but also some less permanent fixtures such as street art / graffiti which one of the authors, Greenacre, does not find as useful. He says that “It’s marvellous provided it’s seen as ephemeral, and I would imagine most practitioners see it as ephemeral”.

Perhaps. Some things are meant to last and others leave an impression before they move on. The unicorns don’t appear to be going anywhere but the magazine which printed the feature may soon be gone.

Venue magazine is due to cease publication after issue 962, in shops Wednesday 16 March. To save Venue in order to provide further interesting articles as the one by Eugene Byrne please follow this link.



Barcelona and the saints


Literary blog hop results

Dear all,

thank you for taking part in the literary blog hop. I have drawn the winners for the two giveaways and they were both the same person! Congratulations et from Both books will be sent to you as soon as possible.

I hope you enjoy them and thanks for stopping by.

Thanks also to Leeswammes for hosting this very fun event. Hope we can do it all again soon.

Relying on the kindness of the strange and not so strange

10 days old

Baby and I left the hospital eight days ago and hadn’t left the flat since. If it had been up to me I would have waited a few more weeks but I had to get to my post-natal check up and so it began.

I had to figure out how to get the pram to work more like a pram rather than just have it stand in the hallway all folded up ever since it had been delivered a few weeks ago. I was on the verge of looking up a YouTube video of some pram action when papa called along.

The baby was sleeping so instead of getting cuddles he had to make do with helping out. Now I have never had any dealings with prams but I never figured that it would be difficult.

The first link was not exactly helpful as the woman, somehow unbelievably and yet there it was, managed to open it up with the shake of one arm. This did not work. Two arms did no better. More video clips and more searching for instructions and by now the littlest person in the room had woken up.

She wasn’t the happiest of pups and spent a fair amount of time screaming. I had to leave, papa had to go, baby was hungry and pram was a complete mystery. The day was saved with the help of YouTube and dad. I don’t think my walking around with the baby was entirely helpful.

It all helped stave off the stress of leaving the house with the baby for the first time however. I was then off to catch the bus and needed some help there as well. A family with a pram of their own stepped aside so I could get on the bus first but I couldn’t figure out how to bridge the big gap between the pavement and the door. The dad stepped in front and lifted the front of the pram on to the bus for me. I was very thankful. In all my worries, I hadn’t anticipated not being able to get on the bus.

I arrived at the clinic half an hour late but I was treated like a celebrity for just having left the house and I got double sympathy points for navigating the bus system too. The cooing over the baby helped as well. I left feeling very happy with myself.

The way home was downhill so I thought I’d walk it. I passed by the supermarket, and then strolled for the next half an hour. Half way home and baby started crying as she was hungry again. I was feeling woozy and the wind was not fun. By the time we made it back it had been four hours from when I started getting ready. All of this for a 20 minute appointment. It was like the scenes in Beetlejuice where they step outside of the house and have to contend with sand worms and time speeding up.

Then there was nap time and all was right again.

Baby's first outdoor adventure


Mother and child in the garden


The amazing NHS

I talked to my midwife today, well I say ‘my’, and she is, but she was one of a team of midwives who I would see on regular intervals. The one who I talked to today was the one who took my details in my first hour long booking appointment. She handed me the tissues when I told her the father wanted nothing to do with any of it. She told me that the overflow of emotions was a way of connecting with the baby.

In the middle of January I asked if I could bring the father along so he could hear the baby’s heartbeat. He didn’t come along and my sister was there instead. 34 weeks later I caught her up on all the latest news. She asked who my birthing partner was in the end. The last time I’d seen her I’d mentioned it was possibly going to be one of three and we talked about all the recent changes and bitched a fair amount as well.

One of the other midwives who had taken care of me was one of the home visitors who showed up to check me over. I was with familiar faces and when they found out that the baby was so large at birth their shock and concern seemed genuine and sincere. The baby is here but I’m not quite done yet. There is a post-natal session on Thursday and a breast feeding clinic on Monday.

All of this goes to show how amazing the system is and I didn’t have to pay £200 for my baby scans as those who went private did. I glimpsed a headline about David Cameron backing away from his commitment to hire / train more midwives and I will check it out in a bit.

For now I am just very grateful and impressed and wanted to mention it before I started writing my thank you letter.

St. Michael's Hill


Towards Old Market St, Bristol

Looking out to Old Market Street

Drifting in and out on Valentine’s day

Six days old

I’m not quite ready to talk about the labour. At least not in any narrative styled format. There are some fragments which feel a little more accessible so I will pass those on instead.

Light contractions started on Friday 11 February and they were accompanied by a need to drink lots of sweet, earl grey -decaf- and feeling utterly drained as if I had the flu.

I spent Sunday in bed counting the time between contractions. I watched bits and pieces on my ipod playlist including The American and Hot in Cleveland.

We went to the hospital at 11.30 on Sunday night and were sent back. I was confused about the reference of waiting until the pain was unbearable but I began to understand what they meant from 2.30am onwards.

My plan had been to go through the birth alone but between 2.30 and 5 in the morning I wasn’t able to let go of G’s hand and he stayed with me through the whole thing.

St Michael’s hospital has an impressive view of south Bristol which was lovely at night with ‘electricity so fine’. After the epidural kicked in at around five in the morning the sunrise on Valentine’s day was even nicer.

I was fully dilated at 8.15. I could’t push until 9.15. The epidural stopped working around 10. I went into theatre after 11 and the first questions I asked when she was finally delivered were what time was she born? and ‘what colour is her hair?’

I lost a litre and a half of blood. She weighed 10lbs and two and a half ounces.

I had a ‘spinal’ which numbed me from the chest down in case I needed a Caesarean but before that I would have agreed to anything for some pain relief. I remember thinking that the form they got me to sign could not possibly be enforceable in a court of law.

I was quite chatty and complained about the CIA and waterboarding and tried to explain why torture was appalling. The anesthetist said that at least I hadn’t lost my sense of humour. I’m not sure why he thought I was joking.

Her first two nappies were put on by the hospital staff. The first nappy I put on was with the help of G and we put it on backwards. Luckily it was him that got told this after he took her to be examined by the doctors at the hospital.

She cries in hysterics when she is hungry but sings a warbling note of discontent when slightly unhappy that sounds like ‘al-lah’. The volume descends until she’s barely whispering. The sound is quite reverential and sounds like ‘why hast thou forsaken me’.

When she’s upset she pinwheels her arms as if she’s bowling overarm – a cricket analogy that came from papa. Sports references are not the first place I would dip into but this one stuck with me.

Her mood swings are instant and she gets distracted for around 10 seconds before remembering whether she was upset or not.

When she finishes feeding she places her head on both her arms and falls asleep scrunched down on my chest.

The G and I are convinced that she doesn’t come across so well on photographs so we keep taking more and more in order to capture how beautiful she is.

Still not too sure who she looks like but am thinking that she has my eyes.

Mum and baby

Jump in the sack with Comic Relief in Bristol?

A happily timed coincidence of school half term and comic relief mean that there is something to do next Tuesday 22 February.

Jump In The Sack? is part of the event which is taking place between 2-5pm at the following location:

Brunel Old Station
Clock Tower Yard

Be warned though that you may need to interact as it involves family fun sack races and celebrities -kind of- such as Big Brother winner Josie Gibson, actress Georgia Taylor and yachtsmen Tony Bullimore.