Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

The weather is back to chilly, like it was 8 months ago on that Canadian Sunday night when we discovered that there was a third of us in the making. The full cycle is almost complete and he’s now ready to land on firm ground after months of growing, kicking, hiccupping and moving around with little notion of gravity. We don’t know much about him or when he will be here, and this mystery adds to the excitement of welcoming him to his new world.

Here are a few things we know about him however; he hates the beeps at the supermarket tills, same for Beck, but enjoys reggae a lot, and he’s long and lean according to the midwife.

As I was showing the nursery in progress to Ed the other day, he said that it was like waiting for a very special guest, like David Bowie. I’m still trying to make sense of the comparison, but I think you really need to be an Englishman to understand it fully. Anyway, our own little glam rock star will arrive in a week or so and his new quarters are now ready. The bags are packed and I’ve prepared his very first outfit, with his first woolen hat and his spaceship pyjamas, Petit Bateau evidemment.

The tiny outfit has pockets, I know they are purely for style and cuteness, but what if one wanted to take this feature seriously? What would we put in his pockets? his oyster card? the keys to his crib? who knows… I’ve put his socks in there so they don’t get lost in the bag.

While he was growing, a lot of things happened. We got married on a sunny June day. Despite the Dallas-style drama that surrounded the wedding, we spent a wonderful time with the lovely people who surrounded us with much love, kindness and marvellous attentions. We laughed a lot with our wonderful European friends and family who stayed with us for a few days. In the end, this will be the memory I will cherish most in the years to come.

Ed started his job right after this and our quest for a new nest could finally begin. It started with St Albans, which had a lot to offer but the housing market was rather hectic. We then tried Bath which proved very frustrating on many levels. Finally, Ed suggested Oxford, and after a few twists, we finally settled here, on Osney Island, which consists of three streets hugged by the river on one side and the canal on the other. It makes the place especially quiet and cosy.

Maybe deceitfully so.

We were slightly alarmed by criminality at the beginning -and I had lived in some dodgy areas in Paris, where stabbing happened in broad day light. Posters indicated that the place was not what it seemed, and I instantly felt like in the midst of one of the most terrifying episodes of Wallace and Gromit. One poster exposed the ongoing milk theft on Bridge street, and it deterred the criminal by warning that surveillance was now in place. Another poster with the picture of a grey tabby moggy called Toby, appealed to the residents of the island to call if they saw him.

Now, I’m not a crime expert, but it doesn’t really take much logical thinking to link the two together. Toby wherever you are, next bottle is on me!

We’ve adjusted really well to Oxford now, and what is there not to like? In many respects, it’s just perfect, especially with a little Ziggy Stardust coming soon. It’s a foodies and walkers heaven. Endless walks in the countryside and by the canals and rivers are on offer. Also, there is lots of foraging, pick your own, farmer’s market action going on here. This year is probably the best we’ve eaten in a long time. After much struggle in Canada, with lack of cheese and the price of food, this spring and summer, we ate mostly, seasonal, local, organic, home-grown food. And it keeps on coming as Ed brought 5 kilos of apples yesterday, but he’s come back from work with all kinds of fresh goodies over the last few months; from prize-winning beetroots, to giant marrows, quinces, blackberries, plums, etc. This was great timing as I was eating for two this year: this baby’s developing taste buds have been spoilt.

There will be more good food to come very soon when our little astronaut finishes his trip in space oddity. I already find myself drooling in front of the cheese section at the supermarket. Yesterday, I stared at a Reblochon so intensely that some shoppers seemed a bit spooked. Carla Bruni gave birth a few days ago, not that anyone really cares, it seems. The Guardian pointed out that she must be relieved since in a recent interview she confessed she couldn’t wait to get over pregnancy and be able to drink and smoke again. In my case, it will be all about Serrano ham, blue cheese, raw fish and poached eggs buried in hollandaise sauce.

But I’m in no rush, after more than 8 months, I can wait another week or two for our intergalactic guest to land.

Ground control to Major Tom…


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Excess Luggage

I feel quite bad that I’ve neglected my poor Budgie lately. Things have been rather busy since our return to the green pastures of La Perfide Albion.
Let me recap a bit as some of you might have missed an installment in our adventures, and this might be because I haven’t written about it yet in these pages. I started my teacher training at the end of January, two weeks after Ed lost his first job in Canada. Things were difficult and tense, not exactly the way we envisaged them. Our undying enthusiasm started wavering at this point of the journey, but we were determined to make it work, maybe so not to see all of our precious efforts there go to waste.

Sabrina (foreground) and Carla

On the 20th of February, I was sitting in the most entertaining anatomy workshop. In between the ankle joint and the metatarsals, I turned to my friend Sabrina and whispered ; ‘I think I’m pregnant’. Sabrina’s face was suddenly illuminated by her unique smile. Sabrina is Swiss German and aside from being a dedicated yogi, she’s a caterer, a surfer, a snowboarder but above all she’s the mother of two beautiful children. She was really excited by the idea and motherhood and pregnancy are among her favourite subjects.

That evening I took the test which immediately confirmed my suspicions. The following week, Ed and I had a lot of thinking to do: fast. His new job situation was precarious, I had no status in Canada, and hence no health insurance. After a couple of days of deliberation, we came to the wise conclusion that we had to head back to England. At the beginning we felt that we had been forced to give up ‘the dream’. Gradually though, as we were planning our return back to the UK, we started realising that the excitement was building: we were going to see our friends and family again, get married, eat good and affordable food, have more sunshine, but most importantly we’d have our first child, and that beat ‘the dream’ everytime.

I finished my teacher training with heavy pregnancy symptoms, helped by the reassuring words of Sabrina. A week after graduating from yoga school, we said goodbye to our friends and the wonderful yogi bunch, and took a plane back to England.

My story and I stand with it, is that Ed paid excess luggage fees because of that can opener that he refused to leave behind. I sneaked in a third passenger in the tiny pouch that had just starting showing. Women just know how to pack and that’s all I’m going to say about this!

England felt incredibly sweet and warm after months in rainy, cold, expensive Vancouver. My first trip to Waitrose could have been produced by Disney, as I walked along the aisles, eyes wide open like Alice in Carroll’s classic. When you’re a foodie in North America, all the bravery in the world won’t make up for all the pleasures lost.

Soon enough, we were able to meet and speak with our friends and this made home feel like home again. Three weeks have passed since we left the shores of British Columbia and we’ve had action packed days. We’ve moved temporarily into Ed’s parents second house in Essex, and we’re planning our wedding, going to doctor’s appointments, and looking for jobs.

Last week I saw the third passenger for the first time, in black and white swimming around his tiny pool. It was possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. He gave us a thumb up, signalling that everything was fine in his little galaxy.

Life otherwise has been weirdly bucolic in this corner of the English countryside. Each night we’re going to sleep to the sound of an owl and each morning Jumbo, the nasty and neurotic cockerel, sings his almost mechanical tune incessantly. The never- ending bird saga in front of our kitchen doors is comical and has replaced TV. We’ve seen new-born chicks, but also Bumble the dog running away with a chicken in her mouth and being chased by Jumbo, we shower the white ducks from time to time with the hose. We go for walks with Bumble to see the foal and his friendly mum in the adjacent field, and we feed them carrots and parsnips.

Also I’m cooking again after weeks of morning sickness and this is probably the most amazing kitchen I’ve cooked in. Next week I’ll spend a week in Normandy by the seaside at a friend’s place and when I return. we’ll finish the wedding preparations and if Jumbo keeps on harassing our duck friends, it will be coq-au-vin on the menu.

Friends here often ask us how it feels to be back. Even if everything is still temporary and we don’t know where we will live next, things seem easier. Our Canadian escape made us appreciate all the good things here, and we’ve come back calmer and more grateful, and for that it was worth going, that and the excess luggage.

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