As 2011 reached it’s end, I decided to write an end of year post which reflected back on the highs and lows of the last 12 months. Since then, it has become a personal tradition to write and publish my “That was the year that was” post on 31 December every year. More than anything, this post is a personal opportunity to look back as a year a draws to a close. 2016 has been another life changing year with my Maternity Leave reaching it’s an end, seeing me become a working mum. Little H has changed beyond belief in the last 12 months and is rapidly approaching the big 2. It’s been a whirlwind of a year but a fantastic one.
Thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my blog. I have loved hearing your thoughts and feedback on what I’ve written. I am extremely grateful that you all spare your valuable time to stop by. I have also enjoyed reading all of the wonderful posts you have written this year! I can’t wait for some more fantastic reads throughout 2017. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
But 2016 isn’t over until it’s over. So let’s dive right in…
Last month it was my birthday. Whilst I was still awake early, Sam got up and went downstairs with H so I could have a lie-in; For breakfast we had some delicious pancakes and H decided to play ball and not throw any of it anywhere; We went out for a nice morning stroll in the sunshine; Then over H’s nap time I had a quiet read and opened a few presents (so they didn’t get pinched by little hands); When H woke-up we had a late long lunch in town where H enjoyed the people watching and ate all her food; A lazy afternoon followed where Sam and I watched a film as H played quietly; Bedtime went smoothly and then we had a delicious dinner before an early bedtime. The ideal birthday! The birthday that is absolutely nothing like what actually happened.
As some of you may have read in my recent post about our holiday to Lisbon, whilst we were away H became unwell. It started with a bit of grumpiness, then it continued on to a low grade fever, poor sleep, refusing to eat and resulted in a teary, hungry and energy-drained mess. We were pretty confident it was her molars cutting coupled with a minor bug from nursery / travelling. But as we were abroad and armed with only a few sachets of calpol, I started to feel worry about her like I have not felt to date. For two days, as my fatigued brain fluctuated back-and-forth between naive optimism and crying, the monologue in my head went something like this:
Inspired by other blogger ideas, I have decide to introduce a new feature to my site – a monthly post on my ‘Five Favourite Finds’ for the month. They can be absolutely anything new that I have come across. The challenge: making sure I find five each month. I’m hoping it will both encourage me to find new things and also share my finds with you all to save you the leg work! So without further ado and in no particular order…
Last Wednesday I left work feeling very chipper. I was off work for over a week, my first holiday since going back to work from Maternity Leave. SO EXCITING! We were all scheduled for a long weekend break with my Dad and Sister in Lisbon – somewhere I had always wanted to go. It was to be H’s first trip abroad. I had planned for most eventualities. But the reality was even more stressful and exhausting than anticipated – H spent the majority of the holiday crying, sleeping on me and refusing to eat. I cannot remember the last time I am felt so anxious about her.
As I write (or at least start to write) this blog post, it’s Saturday night and I am sat in the bathroom of a hotel near Ascot having been to a friends’ wedding. Writing a blog post in a bathroom is a bit unusual but not completely beyond the realms of imagination you might be thinking. So let me expand further. It’s 7:58pm and, to the best of my knowledge the bride and groom are yet to do their first dance. I think you would agree that is a bit odd to come to a wedding and miss the first dance. My final oddity is that, as I sit in the bathroom, the bedroom is in compete darkness save for a small blue night light. That last piece of information should give a hint of why I am doing what I am doing… just outside the door of this small windowless room (which is actually in really nice condition for a standard hotel bathroom, fortunately) H, my 11 week old daughter, is going to sleep.
This is a reality of having a child that I hadn’t really considered. For some people I know they would actually get away with keeping a baby this young with them at the party because it would sleep in it’s pram. Or they would be able to at least put the TV on quietly in the background in the room as the baby slept. However, our wonderful little daughter only sleeps well if we put her to bed in near darkness. Now I don’t resent that at all – I want her to sleep well. But tired as I may be, I can’t go to bed at 8pm. Also, I don’t want to!
So to the bathroom I have retreated. It’s at this point I can see why most parents I know with small children rent cottages for holidays rather than stay in hotels; I don’t think I could do this for more than one consecutive night. Fortunately there is actually a bath so I shall take this small period of quiet time to enjoy a steaming hot soak and catch up on my reading. Which, in actuality, I have not done since I became pregnant as I didn’t want to risk boiling the baby that turned out to be H. Of course, the Law of Sod states this will be the night that she keeps waking up. But I guess if she does, at least I won’t be leaving wet foot prints on my own carpet!
*Sunday evening update – she didn’t wake once whilst I was in the bath so the carpet stayed dry. I enjoyed a good chunk of book and after about 30 mins came over so sleepy I was in bed by just after 9pm!!
Since getting back from Italy, I have been working on a new feature for my website – travel reviews. These are intended to be nothing more than my own experiences in each place both as a point of reference for any places you haven’t been, as well as a record for me so I don’t forget what I liked about a place! At the moment I only have a single review on there, for Rome but I will add more in the coming weeks. It has just taken some time to tweak the page. It still needs some refinement but it’s nice to get something out there! So please take a look and enjoy. If you have any comments or feedback, please leave me a message on twitter.
Cast your minds back to the time before social networking, back to the days where you only used your mobiles for calls and texts and the internet was somewhere you built basic HTML websites to provide information or amusing animations. Yes, it is hard remembering that time, but it did once exist. It was, in many ways, a glorious time because, unlike today, people did not have a way (or indeed feel the need) to share every detail of their life with the world!
Now, I am a keen blogger, twitter user and I do indeed have a Facebook profile which I often check. So, in no way am I condemning or compaining about the existence or use of these types of sites. Indeed, there is something nice about knowing that when I am bored at home on my own one night, I can share the fact that "Angela Watling wishes she had some chocolate" with the world. But, this sort of freedom comes at a dangerous price. Imagine a different evening: you have had a sh*t day at work (one of those truely awful ones), the trains are screwed, it’s raining, you are tired and have a tonne of stuff to do at home. These sorts of things put you in a bad state of mind. So, what do people now do…? They get out their phones and log-on to a social networking site. In a few seconds, with no real thought, a rather abusive and irrational post insulting your colleagues and / or train company and / or your life is composed and sent off for everyone to see.
Now, not only are you tired and wet, stuck in a train station after a long day, but now everyone who ever knew you (or possibly never did) thinks you are miserable, a tad unprofessional and a bit of a pity-seeker. Okay, so that is a slightly extreme take on it and often you do get and deserve pity. But, my point is that, at times of stress, we don’t really think through what we are saying. Before, you would just have a verbal outburst at 1or 2 people. But now, those few words are imortalised online for everyone to see. Sure, you can usually delete them, but in the few minutes it takes for you to get that feeling of regret, someone will have read them. For a one off, people see it and then forget, but do it often enough and it starts to reflect on you as a person. Do it enough and you risk writing something which could offend a friend or worse cause you problems at work.
So, should we all take a step back from social networking and re-assess what value it brings us? Should we consider whether it is really the best forum for everything we want to say? Obviously it is a personal choice, but I know that after one or two incidents such as the above, on a bad day, my phone stays safely in my bag. Some opinions and comments are best left unsaid.
So the RMT are to hold tube strikes AGAIN. This time they are holding 4 strikes staggered over a one week period to cause maximum disruption: two mornings and two evenings. The reason: two drivers were fired, one of which was for abusive behaviour. This particular driver is going to tribunal, which won’t have taken place at the time of the strike. This latest stunt by Bob Crow and his band of loons has left me stunned. How can the cause justify the action?!
I have always understood unions to be a means for holding those in charge to account. An example of where it was a just use of the power to strike can be seen in movie form in ‘Made In Dagenham’. The outcome of that real-life strike changed the workplace for all and for the better. What they are doing today seems to make a mockery of this. I cannot recall a single strike over recent years that seems to have a just cause. A year or so ago, at the height of the recession, the RMT took strike action because they did not get a pay rise of somewhere near the 6% they demanded, along with more pension and holiday. Over Christmas they again threatened strike because they were being told to work Boxing Day and want THREE times their daily salary AND a day in leiu. Most people are lucky to get time-and-a-half OR a day back. To now strike because of the case of an individual who is going to tribunal accused of a genuinely sackable offence is just abuse of the system in my mind.
It saddens me to see normal people subjected to such inconvenience and cost as a result of this petty behaviour. I would love to know how many RMT members actually voted for the strike since it rarely exceeds a 30% turnout, without even taking in to account the for/against figures within that. Bob Crow may think they suffer but as a result of his behaviour, the reputation of the RMT is so for beneath the mud you would need a JCB to dig it out. They have absolutely no support from me and I hope that LU do not cave to their demands. On those days, I will be walking and whilst my day will be longer, I will get some extra exercise and save myself the extortionate £3.80 a day I pay for the tube to keep the drivers in a job. They should remember it’s the public that ultimately pay their wages and strike too much and people might find alternative transport they are happy to use day-in-day out. Next it will be a strike about redundancies, just you watch….
I believe that I know myself very well. I don’t mean that in the obvious way, but in the sense that I know how I will react to things, why I react that way (even if I cannot change it) and I am honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses. Of course I will be blind or disillusioned about some things, but I think I acknowledge my traits more than a lot of people acknowledge theirs.
That said, there are still occasions where I surprise myself! The situation which prompted this was in Kings X tube station this morning. I have a moderate tolerance for things. I will confess to getting easily irritated by people walking slowly. So, this morning, everyone was dawdling and taking so long. There was no space to overtake and walking down the stairs to the platform (hearing a train pull in no less), the pace got even slower. As all this was happen, I had a sudden overwhelming urge to just kick the person in front of me and have a mini-strop. I would like to stress here that I a) didn’t and b) wouldn’t – I don’t succumb to random attacks of rage. However, it amused me! So much in fact, I forgot I was annoyed at then walking slowly.