Sunday, 21 May 2017

Our (in)fertility Story

I've thought long and hard about writing this post and I know some people will see this as oversharing. Please know I don't write this for sympathy but I was reminded yesterday of the power of stories. Particularly the power of stories from the in the midst instead of from a place of resolution. 

Rising Strong - Brene Brown
Brene Brown

 Besides, this blog is meant to be my space on the internet and it would be wrong to ignore what is currently a huge part of our lives right now.So this is our story and I'm telling it. I also hope that in sharing this I help somebody. That by sharing, someone won't feel as alone as I have felt at times in this journey. Side note, I'm not going into certain details of my relationship with Andy or anything like that, I do think somethings just don't need to be shared! 

I have always wanted to be a mum, for as long as I can remember. When we got married we decided to enjoy the first year, just us and then try for a baby. But, obviously I was impatient so it was more like 9 months. Most of what I'd heard from people around me was that getting pregnant was easy, so I told myself the voice in the back of my head telling me something was going to go wrong, was just me being a worrier and assumed I'd be pregnant within a month or two (I now know on average it can take between 12-18 months regardless). While I tried to tell myself that I wouldn't be obsessive, this is me, so of course, I tracked things on an app and kept records and honestly, now I'm glad I did. 

In December I was late, that never happens. Several negative tests later I went to the doctors. Where the nurse proceeded to make me cry. She started with "Well, those tests are very accurate so you're obviously not pregnant" (a lovely way to talk to someone who has just said they want to have a baby) then gave a long lecture on being obsessive, worrying too much and how I should relax (one day I might compile a list of things not to say to someone who is trying to conceive, this would be the top!) Then ended with, "aren't you a bit too young to try for a baby?" I left in tears and vowed to change surgeries. 

Six months into trying and my cycles were everywhere. Which for me was the bigger than concern than not yet being pregnant. So having changed surgeries, we went back to the doctors. Andy accompanied me this time because I'm pretty passive and would have accepted a brush off. 

This time, they were fantastic. He suggested it was perfectly normal, that these things can take 12-18 months but they'd send me for initial blood tests to check there wasn't anything "glaring". Well, it turns out there was something.

Three days after my first blood test, the surgery rang to say they needed to discuss my results. Naturally, I freaked out and wasn't placated by being told that there was a 2-week wait for an appointment. There's an ongoing joke at work that I am useless at asserting myself, not this time. I rung the next day and got an on the day appointment. 

The GP we saw that day was absolutely amazing. The blood test had shown abnormally low hormone levels (and coincidentally, Vit D so he suggested I go somewhere sunny, I mean, ok.. can you give me a doctor's note for that??). The plan of action was to send me for another blood test at a later stage that month. But then he asked how long we'd been trying, around 8 months at this point. I held my breath for "well, you'll have to wait until the 12-month mark". But instead, he said, "life is too short. You have better things to do, have these tests and we'll refer you" I could have kissed him.

So last week my second blood tests came back. The same results, unfortunately, we saw a different GP. Who said, "you'll have to wait until 12-months". Again, I think I'm developing some sort of Mumma-bear instincts for my unborn babies because for once, I was assertive and insistent they refer us. 

The 12-month mark is the stage at which we are classed as infertile. Hence the brackets in my post title. 

So, now we wait, they may well push back and make us wait until September. They can also take up to 18-weeks to see us. For me, the patience and the waiting are the worst part. They are definitely not my strong point. Also, it's rare that I don't have a plan so I'm floundering at this point. 

So what do we do now? We wait, and we pray. I'm definitely learning how to pray for this and not run to other people to do all the supporting. While we wait I'm going to keep tracking so I feel like we've got all the facts when we see the specialist. Hilariously, my friend said on Friday if anyone was going to be the perfect patient for this kind of thing it would be me! I'm also looking into what changes I can make to my diet and potentially acupuncture.

How do I feel? Mostly sad, I'm grieving for the life I expected this time last year. I'm sad that my body isn't doing what I hoped it would do and as a result, I feel like I've let Andy down. I feel angry. But I'm also trying to feel hopeful and thankful for Andy, for the unwavering love and support of our family and friends, for proactive, kind doctors and the ability for us to get these test and get these answers.  

I'm sorry for this blabbering, essay of a post. If you've stayed with me this far, thank you for letting me tell our story. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Mayberry Jamberry Picks May 2017

Chloe from Mayberry Jamberry is back this week with her Jamberry picks for May.

Oh wow...where did April go?  Completely missed writing my blog post..  sorry guys and girls! 

But I'm here for May. So hiya! Anyone that missed March please feel free to read it here... 

My top pick for May actually isn't a wrap (shock horror) but one of Jamberry's super lovely trushine gels! 

Before we got trushine in the UK I had massive nail envy of anyone wearing this gorgeous, pink and sparkly gel...

Introducing.. Tutus and tiaras!

It's massively versatile

Here's my jamicure wearing it alongside going dotty wrap.

Mayberry Jambery

And my mum wore it with simply plaid... 

Mayberry Jambery

But you can also wear it on its own or use it to add a little sparkle as an accent nail over a more subtle gel such as we're blushing. 

Mayberry Jambery

Shop the full trushine range here. The full kit is an absolute bargain (the same price of 3.5 visits to the salon!) 

For more info on jamberry follow this link or find me on Facebook Mayberry Jamberry!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Review: Lightning Under Their Skirts at Action Transport Theatre

Lightning Under Their Skirts

With the opening of Storyhouse, Chester, tomorrow, it's very easy to get excited about theatre. However, it's also reminded me how many amazing, small theatres we have locally. Last week I visited St Mary's Creative Space and then last night I was back at Action Transport Theatre.

Lightning Under Their Skirts
Credit: David Knight Portraits

After the very serious, heart-wrenching play last week I was looking for something a little bit more whimsical, especially as my best friend is visiting from America and is still a little jetlagged. Lulled by the promise of Babycham and cheese and pineapple on sticks we paid a visit to the first ever showing of Lightning Under Their Skirts. 

Lightning Under Their Skirts is an experimental theatre piece combining drama, poetry and music. Written by former Poet Laureate, Joy Winkler, it's about the dreary, monochrome 1950s making way for a bright, new decade. 

From the outset, Lightning Under Their Skirts is a riot of colour, music, humour and with just enough family drama and grit to keep it relatable. The cast is made up of just three actors, portraying a number of characters, this kind of acting always awes me as each actor easily transitions to a new person, story, background. 

We were whirled from a drab semi, dominated by a secretive mother to the rocking dance halls and the coffee bar, where dreamer Sandy stands and watches, before finally taking a stand and beginning to live for herself. The triumphant conclusion had the audience cheering, as she flounced away in her block coloured mini-dress. 

The play itself is one part. However, after a quick turn-around, we were invited back to "Sounds of the 60s". I won't ruin the surprise of this, but it was an amazing piece of interactive theatre, a chance to mingle and interact with other audience members and enjoy the musical talents of cast members, Josie Cerise and Harvey Robinson. 

An extra credit goes to Joy Winkler, who not only wrote a fantastic, fun play but also took to the stage for her first time. 

With funding from The Arts Council, Lightning Under Their Skirts is a Storm in the North Production. Tickets are still available for dates across the North West and details can be found here.  

As ever, Action Transport Theatre has a lot of great plays coming up. Find out more here

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review: Theatre in the Quarter Presents The Lost Boy

I have just got back from an evening with friends watching The Lost Boy at St Mary's Creative space, Chester. 

Theatre in the quarter: The Lost Boy
Credit: Mark Carline

"The Lost Boy highlights the plight of young refugees in today’s uncertain world. It is a story of innocence, of fear of the unknown and ultimately a magical tale of acceptance."

The play is written by Stephanie Dale with original music from Chester's much loved, Matt Baker and performed by the fantastic Theatre in the Quarter team. 

The Lost Boy entwines the story of a Syrian Refugee with the daily struggles of a former fishing village affected and made bitter by the loss of trade and a feeling of helplessness. Both issues are dealt with sensitively, whilst also highlighting key statistics and challenging major stereotypes regarding refugees and asylum seekers.

Set in a Seaside town, as the preparations for Christmas gear up (yes, Christmas carols feature) the story is led by young Maddie, a girl bought up by a  former fisherman father who's down on his luck and an ever-optimistic mum (teaching assistant and choir director!) The radio news tells us that five men have been spotted on a boat but have escaped from police capture. That is all that is known about them, but we're about to find out a lot more. 

My word is it powerful. I thought I'd made it to the end without crying, but when the lights came up I was still sobbing. Please don't let that put you off. The Lost Boy is essential viewing. It tackles the uncertainty we're still passing as we head towards another election, 

Not only does The Lost Boy tackle the plight of young refugees by using the stage as a literal platform to tell their stories but it also addresses the local political climate, giving voice to those who voted to leave the EU, to those who feel disenfranchised and to those who feel helpless and unsure. 

Theatre in the quarter: The Lost Boy
Credit: Mark Carline

I have come away feeling educated and with the desire to act, to make a difference.

My hope is you will go and see The Lost Boy, it is on at St Mary's Creative Space until 7th May, but I also hope that it will tour, that other cities, towns and communities will be able to enjoy this thought-provoking piece and that it'll bring understanding and compassion.

Tickets can be booked here

Monday, 24 April 2017

Yo! Sushi Chester: New Menu Launch

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Blogging isn't all free dinners and prosecco drinking, but sometimes it is. So I was really excited to be invited to Yo! Sushi to try our their new menu. I LOVE Sushi!

Do you know what I also love? Prosecco, so when I turned up and was greeted by a glass of fizz I knew I was on for a good night. I spotted my gorgeous friend Tori (What's the Stori) and then we were told to tuck in. Well, who am I to argue?

Yo Sushi Chester

Yo Sushi Chester

I feel like this is a beginning to be a list of things I love, so apologies in advance. But I LOVEEEE salmon and I LOVEEEE hot sauce. So the Yo Roll: Salmon rice roll with a drizzle of mayo and siracha hot sauce was always going to be a winner. Honestly, it's been a week and I'm still dreaming of this, I could probably eat it every day and never get bored. 

Yo Sushi Chester

As I was busy eyeing up the rest of the conveyor (and playing my usual game of 'what's veggie, chicken or fish and what should I avoid?) I was joined by the beautiful Sarah (Four for the Road) and Kat so I joined them for more Sushi and prosecco. 

We really went to town. I especially loved:

Yo Sushi Chester

Furikake Fries - I know it sounds odd to have fries with sushi. But these were amazing. Potato fries coated in siracha mayo (there it is again) then sprinkled with yuzu furikake, sesame, aonori and smoky bonito flakes (I've never heard of 3 of those ingredients but I'm a fan!) Basically, they had a bit of a kick to them but they were really good and definitely something I want to recreate in my own kitchen. Partly, because the chefs looked like they were having so much fun throwing bowls of chips around to coat!

Yo Sushi Chester

Osaka Style Squid - Do you know what's quite fun about Yo! Sushi when you haven't ordered from the menu? Not really knowing exactly what you're eating. I had had calamari in the past, but this was next level! Spicy pepper squid topped with bonito flakes, aonori, beni shoka, mayo and tonkatsu. Again, I have no idea what those ingredients are but I can tell you that combined they make for a really fresh, tasty dish that I could eat again and again.

Malt Chocolate pot - In general, I am much more of a savoury girl and rarely buy dessert. But these cute little pots couldn't be ignored. If you grew up eating rolo yogurts you should go get yourself a malt chocolate pot immediately, in fact, even if you didn't, go get one. They're little pots of dreams. 

Yo Sushi Chester

Overall, the whole evening was a real treat. We were plied with prosecco, treated to amazing live music and got to dress up for the photo booth. It made for a really fun, girly night out that I can't wait to repeat.

Yo Sushi Chester

Yo Sushi Chester

Plus, we were lucky enough to come away with the coolest goody bag, including a siracha key ring (yes, I have added hot sauce to everything this week)

Thank you Yo! Sushi, Chester for the invite and to the whole team for treating us so well and for an amazing night.

The new Yo! Sushi menu launches tomorrow (25th April) - do go pay and visit, and feel free to invite me!! 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Wedding Wednesday - Beautiful Wedding Favour Ideas

Hellooo! The gorgeous Roxana is joining us again today to share some beautiful wedding favour ideas. What will you choose? Or what wedding favours did you have?


I don’t know why, but apparently themed weddings and receptions have become extremely popular lately. And there is nothing better to highlight your unique wedding than beautiful and unique wedding favours. It will help you make your special day even more memorable, plus, it will end your celebration on the highest note. Here are some of the best ideas I could find.

1. Edible wedding favours

This one is number one for a good reason. Nobody can resist food. If your wedding is in April, Easter chocolate goodies would be ideal for you, since you will connect the Easter haul with the happiness of your special day. This gesture will also show your guests that you really care about them. If on the other hand, your wedding is not close to Easter, you can go with something like S’mores kit with a nice note, since they are inexpensive and adored by everyone or maybe heart shaped doughnuts with a mouthwatering glaze no one can resist to. It is all up to you.
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2. Practical wedding favours – a mini “Hangover kit”

If you are not a fan of all those cute and aesthetic favours, and your friends also know you as a practical person, you can always opt for something practical and classy that will remind your guests of your special day every time they see or use it. My personal favourite is definitely a mini “Hangover kit”, probably because it is so funny and encourages them to enjoy the night to the fullest and be wilder than ever. This kit includes Gatorade (the ultimate hangover cure), Ibuprofen and an eye mask which will help them sleep longer. You can have those masks embroidered with your names or the date of your wedding. But, if you want them to really use them, opt for a versatile embroidery such as “Love” or something like that. Trust me, they will thank you in the morning.
If you are not into this idea, here you can find some more ideas you might like.

3. DIY funny favours – vintage candles

If your friends and family members know that you two are a couple that is all about arts and crafts, the best thing you two could do is to roll up your sleeves and create something fabulous for them.
You can transform tea cup from thrift store into fabulous vintage candle by placing a waxed wick at the bottom of it and pouring melted wax into it. Make sure you leave about 1 cm space from the cup lip. Plus, you can make your vintage candles even better by adding scented oils to them such as lavender, vanilla, chocolate etc. – anything you like the most.

4. Cork coasters

This is the classic, but always popular wedding favour idea. Apart they are super practical for the wedding itself, they will always remember your friends and family members of you and your big day. I would recommend you to go with heart shaped coasters that are made out of strong and quality material and finish them off with a nice and meaningful quote for both of you and your names on the other side. Trust me, everyone is going to love them.    
That would be it. How do you like these ideas? Did you find what you were looking for? Do you have any other ideas? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. I hope you two will have a fabulous wedding and a long-lasting marriage. Cheers!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Iceland: Staying at Hotel Ranga

Second to the Blue Lagoon, the other thing on my Iceland dream list was staying at Hotel Ranga. I cannot tell you how much time I have spent on their website looking at all the beautiful rooms, suites and of course.. hot tubs.

As South Iceland's only 4* resort it boasts a certain luxury we didn't get staying in the city centre and the hours drive out into the countryside left me hopeful for some Northern Lights spotting. As well as a 4* stay and fine dining, they offer a Northern Lights wake-up call and an observatory for stargazing, all set within beautiful grounds complete with the winding Ranga River and the shadow Mt. Helka volcano. 

We arrived around 1pm, via Super Jeep transfer, a little early for check in. The lady at reception gave us a whole host of information about our stay, maybe a little too much to take in, and then we were shown to the bar and restaurant. You're given a welcome drink upon arrival, but the bartender encouraged us to pay for our tea and coffee and enjoy a glass of wine on the house later (who am I to argue). 

I'm going to do a whole separate post on dining at Hotel Ranga so I won't talk about it too much here other than to say we had the loveliest lunch before being shown to our room. Because were staying on our honeymoon I'd asked for some special decorations: rose petals, candles and a bouquet of flowers, we were kindly not charged for this and it was a lovely surprise for Andy.

The hotel is built out of wood and has a real log cabin feel. Our room was small but perfect for chilling with a comfortable bed, nice bathroom equipped with fluffy towels and bathrobes and just a matter of steps from the outdoor hot tub. It's got perhaps a bit more a rustic feel than your traditional luxury hotel but that felt very in keeping with the whole stay. 

Staying at Hotel Ranga was the perfect opportunity to just chill. While I would recommend renting your own car so you can explore the local area at your leisure, we just spent the few days we were there treating it like a duvet day. We watched daytime television, I took naps and read, Andy played football manager, we drunk hot chocolate in the day and wine at night. It was bliss.

We explored the grounds as well, walking out towards the road in the face-numbing cold to get better pictures of Mt Hekla and Andy made some friends with the locals. 

On our second day, we were treated to a light smattering of snow and hail which I took as my opportunity to make good use of the hot tub. Sitting there, snowflakes drifting around me, Russian hat and bikini-clad in almost complete darkness was completely magical.  

My only small complaint was our room was right by reception which meant it could be noisy, even at night, with people coming in and out and walking outside our room. I was also on tenterhooks for the Northern Lights wake up call (unfortunately the clouds were against us!) so sleeping at night wasn't quite as relaxing as hoped, thankfully, we had the daytime to nap and relax. I'm also confident that had we been less British about it and mentioned this to the hotel staff they would have been very accommodating. 

Overall, our stay at Hotel Ranga was every bit as wonderful as I had dreamed and as far as I'm concerned, if you're looking for some luxurious relaxation while staying in Iceland this is the only place to stay. 

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