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Gosh, I can hardly believe it’s already a month gone since my daughter and her husband had their baby shower and gender reveal party. Finally after what seemed like months, but in reality was only weeks, of waiting, we had the gender reveal.

My daughter and her husband hosted a Baby Shower on Saturday 10th November for close family and friends.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

The happy parents; Cémanthe and Simon

They chose the delightful Helter Skelter Play Nursery in Broadstairs. It had a fantastic play area for the children ( and adults as it turned out), with slides, climbing ropes, plastic ball pool and many other wonderful play areas. Colourful is the name of the game at Helter Skelter…the walls are decorated in bright colourful paintings and children’s drawing adorn the walls.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

Helter Skelter Nursery, Broadstairs

We had a wonderful day with lots of laughter, a gathering of special people to share a special day of fun and good food.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

guests; family and friends

When the guests arrived they had to cast their vote on whether they thought it was a girl or a boy….interestingly it was a tie: 15 for a girl and 15 for a boy 🙂 In the corner the gifts piled up; colourful and interesting bags and packages.baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery

Tea and cake was served, introductions made and soon there was a happy buzz of chatter and conversation…some of the adults had just about as much fun on the slides as the kids.

A fantastic spread of snacks, the food provided by the lovely ladies at Helter Skelter was scrumptious, colourful, varied and mindful of various diets and allergies. We all ate ourselves to satisfaction and no-one went hungry.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

an amazing spread

We had a face-painter which everyone loved, especially the grownups LOL

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

face painting

Teams were selected and given colour markers and plain white baby grows to decorate – a splendid array of colourful pictures onto baby grows.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

baby grow decorating

The cake, a family affair, was baked by Daddy, iced by Granny, decorated by Mummy. The cake was cut by Emily and Matt…baby’s cousins 🙂

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

the cake 🙂

And then it was time for the gender reveal……anddddd IT’S A BOY!!! hoorah….I have a grandson on the way 🙂  Hoorah!! In just a few weeks, approx 3-4 (from today), I shall be the Granny to a wee baby boy!!

How absolutely marvellous is that. I am so excited to meet this baby boy, my Grandson. Daddy looks pleased and Mummy looks gleeful. 🙂

The guests were asked to guess the baby’s name and nursery theme to win a prize.

The theme of the nursery….space!!! 🙂

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

the theme of space was inspired by this baby grow

The name reveal : James Alexander McKenzie-Hoult – forthwith to be known as Jamie……what a fantastic name for a boy, so strong. Of course I shall still call him Peanut….at least until he’s 21 LOL

The expectant parents received some absolutely wonderful gifts with a gorgeous array of wooden toys, cute books, much needed toiletries and nappies, some treats for Mum and some beautiful baby clothes.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

some of the gorgeous gifts they received

We had a videographer, also a Jamie, there to capture the day for posterity and everyone agreed that it was a fantastic day and how delighted they were to share it with the happy Mum and Dad to be….and little Peanut, who will now be known as Jamie 🙂

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery

Jamie ….. he already has my heart in the palm of his hand

 

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Besides all the fantastic information listed in this article…… “social skills:
Turn off your phones until kids are in bed to avoid digital distraction.”

https://faithit.com/silent-tragedy-affecting-todays-children-victoria-prooday/

That one sentence is the most important. So often you see kids driven to distraction /frustration/tears/anger because Mummy and Daddy are more interested in facebook than their kids.

A 100 % increase in suicides for age group 10-14??? That can be directly related to the advent of (not so) smart phones and (not very) social media.

Pay attention to your children. They are young for such a short space of time.

Its NOT the schools responsibility to instil the values needed for healthy children.

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Buying vegan foods and trying to avoid dairy products and palm oil as well as plastic packaging presents something of a challenge, and requires some inventiveness for preparing meals. I’m learning a whole new way of shopping and cooking.

These days shopping takes a bit longer than in the past….I spend a fair amount of time reading food labels. If it contains palm oil I have to look for an alternative…not always available. I recently had to bypass my favourite soups while shopping; Heinz cream of Tomato, cream of Mushroom and peas and lentils (contains dairy). Instead I bought mostly tins of plain ingredients and dried products and will make them myself, sans the ‘cream‘ of course. I made my first dhal for supper with basmati rice recently… Apparently it smelt delicious 😋 😋

Despite it being the first time I had made dhal, it was actually really yummy. I had a look at a few recipes online and in my usual style, tossed in this, that and the next thing… pretty much whatever I could find in the cupboard in terms of spices…I also roasted some sweet potato wedges in olive oil and herbs which made a really interesting contrast to the dhal. My 2nd attempt wasn’t quite as successful and I burned the lentils coz I didn’t have sufficient water in the pot LOL I ate it anyway….waste not, want not and all that!!!

It’s been an interesting exercise to see how much of what I wanted/needed I could buy without buying anything in plastic. I think I was about 70% successful. It’s incredible difficult. Even if you buy something in a cardboard box, when you open it, the contents are usually packaged in plastic. urgh. So annoying.

Buying fresh fruit and vegetables is the aspect that confounds me the most….why on earth do the supermarkets still have to pack bananas, apples, oranges, broccoli, cucumber, cabbages, potatoes, peppers etc etc in plastic bags, trays or wrap. It’s COMPLETELY unnecessary and just adds more and more to the plastic pollution blighting our landfills and oceans. Apparently a number of brands have signed up to a pact to reduce plastic…..by 2025!!!! Why so far in the future? With 8 Million Tonnes Of Plastic Dumped in the Sea every Year, that means an extra 56 million tons in the next 7 years!!!. There are so many alternatives available already that I’m pretty certain they could reduce their unnecessary plastic packaging immediately.

I was delighted to learn about The Clean Kilo, the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket; A Gap in the Market.

I recently tried a different type of milk; Oatly and it’s delicious, even in my early morning tea. I’m trying to avoid soya products due to the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests, as well as palm oil due to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests and the orangutans that live there. These forests are being torn down for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations threatening endangered species such as orangutans with extinction. It’s horrendous. “Without proper safeguards, the soybean industry is causing widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe”. The EU’s hunger for soy is causing destruction in Brazil.

I’m afraid I was largely ignorant of the ecological impact of my lifestyle. It was only after coming to the UK, and particularly more recently, that I’ve become aware. I do agree that the number of people, consumerism and materialism have played a massive role in the destruction of the planet. Sadly, I don’t see that ending any time soon. But, lobbying to make changes, signing petitions and raising awareness by talking about it, as well as taking daily action will make a difference. I’m always reminded of the starfish on the beach. I believe that, although our actions are tiny, they do make a difference and they set an example that other people will follow. There are a number of brilliant initiatives taking place around the world that will collectively have an impact. Even grassroots initiatives like the people in Kenya who are collecting discarded flip-flops and creating beautiful artworks.  I feel for the 3rd world countries who don’t have the same infrastructures we in the western world take for granted. I just fear that the large corporations are not making enough of an effort. I’m going to start writing to every large company in the UK and urge them to take stringent actions now, rather than phase it out by…. Whatever arbitrary date they come up with.

We really do have to take urgent action NOW. On a more personal note…..my first grandchild is on the way and I want to make sure I don’t leave a planet decimated because of my lifestyle. And a major plus is that I’m saving a lot of money, my shopping bill has reduced quite a lot coz I’m not buying as many products as I did before.

In case you missed my previous post on plastic pollution

 

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Day 3

Well what a day it was. The 3rd of 4 days of the Doula Course and turned out to be completely different to what I was anticipating or expecting. It was an emotional roller-coaster. I’d been surrounded by some amazing women and although it was an extraordinary day, I was emotionally shattered….in a good way. I was been surprised by some of the things people have said about me, how they see things I thought were well hidden. The exercises we did, that made us dig really deep and although in a safe space, it’s left us feeling very vulnerable…but safe.

Interestingly some of the women have said how doing this course has made them realise how unprepared they are for working in this field, and how they feel that perhaps its not for them, yet its left me feeling more empowered and ready to go (so to speak).

We also did some role playing (which I’ve always hated, and avoided at all costs), but weirdly I found it really easy to slip into another persona and surprised the group (apparently). It was actually good fun, and the prognosis is that I may appear to be all sweetness and light (uhmm really??) 😂 😂 but that I’m really good at shocking them with my ability to be someone else. Actually our group practically ended up on the floor with laughter (very inappropriate laughter) at some of the stuff that came out of my mouth 😂 😂 I actually threatened to send one client to hospital in an ambulance on a stretcher… In context of course. But it was hilarious. We were laughing so much that the facilitator came to find out what was going on and none of us could speak for laughing. They’re a brilliant group and its been truly enlightening. I love learning new stuff and exploring preconceptions and how our beliefs and values are shaped by society, expectations, outside influences and family dynamics. All good. But boy am I tired 😴 😴 😴 ready to sleep now. I didn’t even have the energy to watch Strictly Come Dancing. 🤔🤔🤔

In case you missed the original blog There’s more to dying than meets the eye

 

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This is a very timely and useful article. It definitely pertains to me in that climate change and the effect that plastic is having on the oceans has  been causing extreme anxiety, especially since I learned that my daughter is expecting a baby…her first child; my first grandchild. Since her and her husband announced the baby’s pending arrival, my stress levels have gone up quite a lot #understatement

I’m doing as much as I can to negate my impact on the climate, but as they say in the article, individually we can only do so much. But if our governments are not taking responsibility or massive action then that in itself will cause more stress, and I can well imagine the scientists must be under extreme stress. Just the very fact that the UK government has allowed fracking to go ahead tells us the story of their interest in their citizens and community. Of course we know that they’re going to make money off it, and not necessarily for the public purse… #justsaying

There are people who will continue to deny it…. “It’s the people who don’t seem bothered by environmental crisis who need therapy the most, to figure out why they are so numb and in denial,’ he tells us.”

The article suggests joining local community based groups who are also environmental activists in order to keep sane. I have already joined a number of community groups on instagram and Facebook and its encouraging to see how much they are doing, it keeps me focused, as well as which I do what I can. But quite honestly, it does keep me awake at night 🌃

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/18/climate-change-is-causing-ecoanxiety-and-damaging-our-mental-health-what-can-we-do-8047167/?ito=cbshare

Actions I already take

Converting to veganism – an ongoing process and I do fall down occasionally when it comes to dairy products, although I have now finally converted to soya milk in my tea. 🙂

Saying no to plastic straws – I took a pledge nearly 2 years ago to never again use a plastic straw and I haven’t. Someone at a local coffee shop put a plastic straw in an avocado drink I was having and as my daughter said to the waitron “take it away before she goes into meltdown”. LOL

Saying no to plastic water bottles – I stopped this a long time ago. It’s bloody ridiculous to sell us water in plastic bottles that take thousands of litres to produce. We have tap water. We live in a 1st word country. We don’t draw water from an infected well. fck!! This is the one thing above all else that irks me the most.

Saying no to plastic bags – yup. makes sense. It’s seriously ironic that 3rd world countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Botswana as well as others have banned them. As usual the UK and USA and EU are WAY BEHIND.

Buying products in glass where available, even if its more expensive.

Buying products in cardboard where possible.

Not buying for fashion, but rather as I need it. Have you seen Stacey Dooley’s documentaries about the fashion industry?

Conserving water 💦 and being mindful of my usage.

Changes made by others due to my persistent requests:

Our local milkshake bar changed from plastic straws to biodegradable.

Our local chip shop changed from polystyrene boxes to compostable.

As individuals there is so much we can do, without experiencing overwhelm. I love the #2minutecleanup campaign on instagram

I share the devastating images of dead seabirds and other sea creatures from @balloonsblow in facebook

I am constantly alert as to what more I can do to make a difference and reduce my carbon footprint, and mindful of what I buy and why I buy it.

I try and set an example by modifying my behaviour

I try to share information for others to be aware of the catastrophic effects our throw-away plastic lifestyle is having on the planet.

I realise that we can’t live a life completely without plastic in the immediate future, but we can drastically reduce our consumption of the product by avoiding it wherever possible. – I used the word consumption, because as you know, microscopic plastic fibres are now in our water supply and our food chain….even in salt.

Regards going vegan, I get mocked by family members who feel comfortable with sending me what they see as humorous images of what is tantamount to cruelty to animals. Friends come up with the old bullshit of vegetables having feelings too and how they feel pain. That is throwback to when people who were going vegan were regarded as nutters or veganism was considered a fad. Its not. Try watching ‘What The Health’ on Netflix then come talk to me again.

The biggest impact you can have on saving this planet for future generations is to cut back on plastic, stop buying bottled water and if you can’t become vegan, at least try being vegetarian or flexitarian.

 

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I am currently attending a course on becoming an End of Life Doula. It fits in with my job and is something I have been interested in for quite a few years. It has been a very interesting journey so far. As part of our homework for the 2nd part of the course this weekend, we had to complete a few exercises relative to what we learned/experienced at the first weekend, so the first place I started was at http://kristiewest.com/aboutkristiewest/

Kristie is a long-standing friend of mine and I have always admired her approach to life and death. We actually met at an event where her path in life changed course, and took her on the journey that was to lead her to where she is now, and to specialising in her field of expertise. I’d like to share this with you because I fully believe that what she shares can have a profound affect on how we view or approach death and grief.

The course I’m doing has so far been very interesting and surprisingly the first section didn’t actually deal with death at all, but rather about our, the participants, beliefs and values. The exercises we did all revolved around us, the potential Doula and about how we think of death and relate to people.

We delved into subjects like confidentiality, communication skills, about our attitudes, ethics and most importantly about our listening skills. We spoke abut the types of listening and then we had to share a story from our lives to one of the group while they practised effective listening as another person observed how they ‘listened’. We explored our ideas and again beliefs on a range of subjects from euthanasia, keeping secrets, involving family, about a dying person’s last wishes, rituals about the role we would take and what we would find acceptable in that role or not.

I’m looking forward to the this weekend where we participate in another 2 days of training.

 

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Leaving on a jet plane and I don’t know when I’ll be back again……as it turns out…I never did return – not permanently anyway.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

taken on the day I landed after my Spitfire flight on 26 April this year – seems apt for my journey

Today marks the 17th anniversary of my arrival in the Northern Hemisphere and the UK then Ireland for the first time.

All three happened on the same day in the space of a few hours.

I left South Africa on the 8th October 2001 bouncing with excitement and joy. At age 46, although I had travelled extensively throughout RSA and lived in any number of places, I had never left the borders of South Africa except for a brief weekend sojourn to Swaziland in my misspent youth.

I flew from South Africa on the evening of the 8th October landing in Zurich on the 9th. After an hour or so at Zurich airport where I had my first European pastry and hot chocolate and searched for the ‘red’ post box which turned out to be green LOL (a learning curve for sure), from there it was an emotional flight across Europe and the skies in which WW2 was fought. I am fascinated by the history of the 2nd WW and it gave me both the chills and a thrill that I was flying through the same airspace that our pilots flew all those decades ago…as a result I spent nearly the whole flight just crying….I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same airspace.

Soon, as we came in to land at London Airport I had my first view of the city I was to come to love so much; suddenly I was on UK soil. I could hardly believe it.

relocating to the uk, solo travel,

Lovely London – my soul city

A short nerve-wracking bus-ride later I took my first ever tube ride – first on the Jubilee line and then the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. I remember how terrified I was of getting lost, of not finding my way to the airport, and a total wreck with all the stories I had heard of how big Heathrow airport was….wasn’t. It was easy to navigate.

I remember as if it happened yesterday; as we exited the underground near Hounslow I looked out the window and fell in love…..with the chimney pots on the houses around the green. I am a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins and it looked to me just like a scene from the film….the trees and the green surrounded by 3-storey brick houses, their roofs adorned with chimney pots.

“I could live here!” I thought…..

And now I am….I first spent 6 months in Ireland with my darling sister and her husband (her 30th birthday was the reason for my visit),

and then after my visa expired 6 months later I came over to the UK to collate the paperwork I would need in order to apply for and obtain my ancestral visa (my grandfather had the good sense to be born in London (Battersea). After securing letters from agencies to say they could employ me, I flew back to South Africa in March 2002 and by 22nd April 2002 I was back in Ireland; ancestral visa in hand. After a few months of gallivanting in Ireland, I once again flew back to the UK and started working and living first as a resident and then a citizen of the country.

I have never looked back, never had even one second of home-sickness and never longed for the country or yearned to ‘go back’ with all that that signifies. If I have missed anything it would be certain foods like OUMA rusks, or peppermint crisp chocloate LOL

I have grown to love the UK so much, albeit not the politics (or some of the parties), and I have had so many amazing adventures, learned so much, written a couple of books and immersed myself into the very fabric of this country. The history is phenomenal and it’s like peeling back an onion…one layer reveals another.

I used my ancestral visa/SA passport to good effect and and travelled to a number of European countries and a few states in the USA over the next 15 years (and back to Ireland 9 times).

visit ireland, trinity college dublin

Sphere Within Sphere is a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, located at Trinity College, Dublin

I also travelled far and wide throughout the UK and have probably visited more places than many British-born people….certainly I’m sure more Domesday Book places.

I then applied for and obtained my British Citizenship.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

it’s my 17th anniversary!!! this is from the day I got my new passport as a UK citizen 2 years ago

My daughter followed me in 2003 and she too is now a British citizen and married to an amazing man with a baby on the way…..the first baby in our family to be born in the UK since my Grandfather was born in Battersea in 1890. Our little Peanut aka my first grandchild. I’m so in love with this baby already…my heart swells when I see this. 🙂

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, 3d scan of baby in the womb, granny in waiting

my beautiful grandchild. a 3D scan taken yesterday…

It seems perfectly apt, albeit coincidentally, that we got this scan photo on the same date 08/10, as what I left SA 17 years ago. Never did I think on that day back in 2001 that I would be a granny-in-waiting at this time 17 years later.

The UK has always felt like ‘home’ to me and I have felt more at ‘home’ here than I ever did anywhere in RSA….except possibly Cape Town which I’ve always said was my heart city. Well London is my soul city, and my heart has followed me to the UK.

I’ve had an extraordinary journey since arriving here in 2001 and although it hasn’t always been easy, that’s mostly been due to my own bad decisions on various life aspects. But I have never regretted my decision to return and to stay…..

So today is my 17th anniversary and I am still ‘home’.

And Ireland is still my 2nd favourite country in the world.

If you are interested here is a link to some of the place I have visited since my arrival. My goal is to still travel even more extensively and visit as many places as I possibly can – Project 101

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