I know this is a really cheesy opening to a review (and yes, let’s make this clear, this is a review and we were gifted the Wii U in order to write it) but I’m going to do it anyway… When the lovely people at Nintendo (via NetMums) gave us the opportunity to review the Wii U we were absolutely delighted. For the Sealion Keeper and Cheetah Keeper this was delighted excitement – we have a Wii already and enjoy using it in the winter to keep active, the Wii U is just “the best thing ever”.
Both of them wanted to do a video review so I’m going to start off with what the Cheetah Keeper thought, tell you a bit more about it from my point of view and then the Sealion Keeper will do her bit. I haven’t edited these videos – this is real family life!
So, to confirm, the Sealion Keeper is 8 and the Cheetah Keeper is 6. We set up the console for them and it was most definitely ‘plug and play’. Transferring the data from the old Wii to this one did result in my swearing a little, however, if I had read the instructions properly and had been allowed near the Game Pad it would have been a far easier experience (note to self, if ever doing this again, do it while the children are in bed).
The Wii U has so many great interactive features which mean you can take part in games with others who are online at the same time. With the children the age they are, we’re not so keen to allow them free access to the internet so very easily, set them up with strict parental controls on their account whilst having full access ourselves. The feature that allows you to keep playing on the Game Pad has been used, equally, I’ve looked up from the laptop to find ebay on the tv as they Game Pad was being used to browse online.
Other features include being able to register each of the Wii U games online to receive stars – these can be exchanged for Nintendo related goodies. The only downside to this was having to do the massive questionnaire each time – but then again, I understand why Nintendo want to capture the data.
Games wise, I have been well and truly thrashed at Mario Bros U by the Cheetah Keeper – and then taken disproportionate pleasure at beating a visiting child (I will behave better next time, promise) and have been allowed to watch NintenoLand and Wii Party U being played. I’m looking forward to trying out some more of the fitness bits and using the gift card we were sent to download a few retro games. This is definitely going to be a great way to spend some dull winter afternoons – and with the added advantages of being able to catch up with programmes on iPlayer and watch a film we want to watch with Love Film when we want.
If you’re looking for a family orientated games console that will accommodate 5 players this Christmas, we would recommend the Wii U – great fun and many hours entertainment to be had – with the option of fantastic internet content and connectivity that will keep everyone engaged.
So, for fear of repeating ourselves, but in order to keep the peace in this house – a massive thank you to NetMums and Nintendo, the Wii U, I quote, is” EPIC ” and here’s what the Sealion Keeper thought – I had to stop her at the end – I’m not sure an hour long review would have been the best thing!
I haven’t done a recipe on here for ages – most of them are over on Bake Yummy but as the Cheetah Keeper helped me make them, I think their place is much deserved over here. Chocolate Marmite Brownies – I appreciate I am about to divide the nation. For those who are in the “Love It” camp think about the deliciousness of salted caramel, but created with chocolate and Marmite. We are on to a winner.
These are inspired by the ones that Paul A Young makes – and sells for £5.50 a square (like a 3″ square square) and whilst I’m sure he’s using the finest dark chocolate there is, these ones are easy to make with supermarket ingredients.
Ingredients for Chocolate Marmite Brownies
475 g caster sugar
200g dark chocolate >70% cocoa solids
125g plain flour
2 heaped tablespoons of Marmite plus a teaspoon more for drizzling
How to make them
Line a 13×9″ (or 13×10″ if you don’t mind your Brownies thinner – these are very rich). You could use a 12×8″ tin if it is deeper, you will need to add about 5-7 minutes to the cooking time depending on your oven.
Preheat your oven to 180C (160F), Gas 4
Remove from the heat and stir in the Marmite, eggs, cocoa and flour until smooth, glossy and well combined
Bake for around half an hour so the top is slightly crispy but it is still moist underneath.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool – the Brownie will become more dense as it cools.
Cut into pieces and serve. Decorate with a sprinkling of icing sugar or edible glitter should you wish.
Serve still warm with ice cream, cream or perhaps some sweetened mascarpone. Serve cold on it’s own or with whipped cream.
Dense and gooey in the middle – no strong taste of Marmite – just a hint, combining beautifully the saltiness with the sweetness of the sugar and chocolate. I know I said I’d divide the nation – it’s a “Love It or Hate It” thing. For us, it’s…
Sorry for the radio silence. Things have been a tad, well, meh. The Cheetah Keeper seems to be working for a ‘how many times can you make mummy cry on the school run’ award by refusing to get dressed of a morning and having to be taken, kicking and screaming into school and once again, my sinuses are infected. Sinusitis with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is no fun at all. Sinusitis isn’t fun at the best of times; excruciatingly painful, the feeling overwhelming congestion – your face feeling like it’s as packed as the M25 on a Bank Holiday Friday evening. I have discovered, that with my sort of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, getting sinusitis is far more likely and also far harder to shift.
I have had a level of sinus/chest infection since August 2012. Yep, 15 months of it. Much worsened by my ulnar nerve surgery back in January when lingering infection (probably Strep) tootled down into my chest and refused to move. I had a little respite over the summer but it transpires it never quite went, hence the long term cough and snotty nose, plus the feeling of there being gunk in my throat all the time – a feeling that made me crave acidic fizzy (and probably teeth rotting) fizzy drinks as it was the only thing that cut through it. Sales of Pepsi Max must have increased.
With a bit of research *gross alert* I’ve discovered that the gunk, snot and normal nose related stuff isn’t draining through my sinuses properly because the connective tissue that makes them just isn’t up to the job. Some of the gunk drops into my throat (this is called a post-nasal drip) and then trickles into my chest, making that infected. The rest of it pools in my sinuses – the connective tissue just stretching to accommodate it rather than pushing it through. The bacteria in the snot think ‘wooohooooo’ party place and settle in for the duration and then refuse to go home. Urgh.
So far this autumn I’ve ended up with Staphylococcus Aurea (that’s the SA bit of MRSA, but I didn’t have the MR bit) which, despite 5 weeks of double strength, lab targeted antibiotics went and hid in a corner rather than being blitzed to kingdom come. Within 3 days of coming off those antibiotics, the headaches were back, my face was tender and the pain was beginning to increase. I sounded bunged up – although that seems to be situation normal.
By last week the infection was well and truly set in. I don’t run a temperature, I shiver a bit but that’s normal. What happens is that I lose the plot, badly. I was confused, struggling to string a sentence together, had the shortest fuse possible and was getting lost in conversation. I was ready to burst into tears at any opportunity and the reality of being out with other people around me (normal things like Sainsburys and going to the zoo) was enough to send my pulse racing and my ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline response veering heavily towards the flight. Except you can’t when you’ve got a trolley full of shopping and a small boy in tow. Claustrophobic, agoraphobic, suffering from poor judgement, having almost no spacial awareness and feeling distressingly out of control – but no temperature.
I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep – the pain in my head and face was exacerbated by lying down. Regular doses of Tramadol didn’t touch the sides. Walking hurt – every footstep jarred through my face like skewers. Sinusitis is no fun.
Having researched further, it seems that people with EDS are more prone to sinusitis for the reasons I mentioned above. It also seems that the only way to shift it is to have long doses of strong antibiotics. By long I mean around 20 days, not just the 6 or 7 that would deal with it in people without the syndrome. I’ve also realised I need to catch it early – as far as I’m aware, current NICE prescribing guidelines recommend that people suffer the symptoms of sinusitis for 2-3 weeks before antibiotics are given as the viral infection can take that long to clear, especially after a cold. I’m going to have to be a rebel (thankfully my GP is up for this!) and get the treatment in as soon as I can – because I can’t keep going through the winter like this.
I’m now 3 days into the Clarithromycin (500mg twice a day for 4 weeks – ‘normal’ dose would be 250mg twice daily for 6-10 days so the leaflet tells me) – it gives me a strange metallic taste in my mouth but the pain is easing – it’s not bad enough to bring tears to my eyes or make me feel sick. I so hope it works – there’s a lot of autumn I want to photograph.
It’s Tuesday evening, a whole 3 days have passed since I arrived home from Blogfest tired, dehydrated and somewhat dazed. It was my first full blogging conference, my credit card had leapt out my purse and the numbers had *ahem* magically gone into the ticketing screen when I saw that Lord Robert Winston and Prof Tanya Byron were speaking.
As time went on I saw that Tania from Special Needs Jungle was going to be there (cue much more excitement – Tania and I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in common – not that that’s exciting, but to actually meet was), Mummy Barrow was going to be speaking about changing the world and Mammasaurus was to be getting ‘down and dirty’ *sigh*.
I travelled with a small contingent of the St Albans blogging massive. Penny from BeingMrsC, Kirsty from Damson Lane and Steph from Steph’s Two Girls - there is something about being able to rock up at the station at some hideous time on a Saturday morning and instantly have loads in common – one thing being we were really looking forward to catching up with Renata from Just Bring The Chocolate. Renata has been in Great Ormond Street Hospital with Dominic since the beginning of September – I’d been whistling the theme from The Great Escape in my head for a couple of days, mixed with images of her tunnelling out with a spoon so to see her at St Pancras was wonderful.
Onwards – top conference venue. You could spot the bloggers, marching like ants towards the entrance – despite having our own very unique personalities online, we all seemed to have a remarkably similar taste in conference clothes… Earl grey tea was available (always good) and it was lovely to hug so many bloggers who I speak to so frequently online. The social side of blogging conferences is wonderful – although it does, on reflection, make me question quite why I’m happy to pay so much money to go to what is essentially a big social…?
Into the sessions – the first session, chaired by Richard Bacon was fast moving and interesting. Except I began to feel a bit old – I seem to be losing the ability to listen, understand, engage, form an opinion, read a twitter wall and attempt to tweet at the same time. Maybe I am old, maybe I’m wondering whether actually, if you’re going to attend a panel discussion, that listening and engaging is the most important thing to do. Social media does not enhance this experience – it’s almost like driving and being on your phone – you need your brain to be on one thing or the other. Or maybe it was the painkillers… I don’t think it was.
So, the sessions I went to were great. Not in the ‘oh wow I’ve learned so much’ kind of way, but in that they reassured me that a lot of what I do, both on here and in my professional life are what, at the moment, are deemed as the ‘right’ things to be doing. Prof Tanya Byron – I love you. Please, can you come for tea? I’ll make cake?
I was really disappointed that Robert Winston wasn’t speaking – if he hadn’t been on the list I may not have bought my ticket. I’m not sure I got ‘value’ for money in terms of learning or inspiration but I did have a wonderful time meeting catching up with other bloggers. Obviously, to cover the really important stuff, lunch was indifferent, there wasn’t enough to drink and they ran out of cake where I was. Loos were plentiful, goody bags generous (not that I went for the goody bag AT ALL, that is not what pulls me to a conference) and there was plenty of time to circulate.
The final session, yes, that one, is being much discussed elsewhere. Jo Brand was great but I didn’t leave the auditorium on a high. Move on.
Hayley from Downs Side Up asked me that evening to describe the day in one word. It took a lot of thought and I concluded “Forceful”.
In any community (on or offline) there are forces. If those forces are used for good, the results can be amazing – you can, realistically change your corner of the world. Forces that come together for destruction and misery cause just that.
The best bit though – the social side. The hugs, the kind words, the love and the silliness. Will I go again – not sure. Am I glad I went? – Definitely.
It was a privilege – (photo by Tania who’s on the right, with Renata on the left) to hug these two ladies, I am very proud that I know them.
Back in July, when the sun was shining, we were in our pretty dresses and sandals and enjoying the afternoons after school in the garden, I received an invitation. Please come to the Tesco “Christmas in July” event to see the goodies that will be in store this year. Christmas. July. Christmas, July, London? Yes please. As you may already know, the Cheetah Keeper’s most favourite cuddly giraffe (I quote this evening “my bestest buddy ever”) is called Tesco (it’s what his label said) so that was even more of a reason to go.
To walk out of a taxi in 25C, climb out of a lift and have the doors open into full scale Christmas was, well, a bit baffling. I was a Christmas in July novice but the minute I saw the lovely houses made out of biscuits I was in foodie heaven. Guided round the toy section, I struggled to find ‘the’ gift that the Cheetah Keeper and his sister would go for this year – they’re at quite an ‘in-between’ stage – not quite ready for the teen and tween toys, too big for the chunky stuff. I suspect Lego will feature very highly on the list.
Then – would I like to look around the food and flowers? Try and hold me back… there were beautiful cakes, stunning deserts, alcoholic cocktail deserts (we tried to drop some hints about Tesco providing some for a Blogger Christmas party), some really delicious chutney and I didn’t get round to the meats! Did I say there were deserts?
The flowers were stunning – I love flowers at home at Christmas and this year the dark reds are just so intense, lilies and roses with dark green foliage never fail to impress. The teams that were on hand to explain everything were clearly passionate about their products and it was very easy to be taken in by their enthusiasm. The Tesco Christmas hub is now live on their website – and I am really looking forward to seeing how they display all these lovely things in their newly designed Watford store. Tesco at Christmas – here’s something to whet your appetite:
Disclosure – I was paid to attend this event by Tesco. Views are completely my own and I thank Tesco for their hospitality.
Every now and again, team Cheetah are asked to review something. Sometimes we say no and sometimes we say yes. When we were asked to review a cereal from Bear the Cheetah Keeper and his sister nearly bit my arm off. We love Bear products – especially their fruit yo-yos.
So I said yes – and a few days later a wonderful box appeared with some of the Multigrain Alphabites, the Chocolate Alphabites and some lovely crafty bits, all personalised with magnetic letters – if there is a sure fire way of pleasing the children, a box with “Cheetahs In My Shoes” on it that can then be transferred to the fridge is high up on the list.
Moving on – cereal. Surely cereal is cereal – something to do battle over in the supermarket as the children want you to buy everything that is packed with added sugar, sugar coated or chocolate. Low sugar cereals are deemed as ‘boooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing’ and sit in the cupboard for weeks.
Bear seem to have go their heads round this concept – I’ll let their box tell you the details
Obviously the most important thing is what they taste like. My household ate 2 packets in 5 days. Think that answers the question!
Disclosure – Team Cheetah were sent these to review, views (and what our tummies thought) are our own. Many thanks to the team at Bear for sending them to us/
Last Friday I had lunch with Michael Gove MP. Well, not lunch in the sitting down at the same table and passing the butter sense, but a big networking lunch where the speaker was the Secretary of State for Education, the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP. I’ve thought long and hard about posting about it, but with time to reflect, here’s my letter to him:
Dear Mr Gove
I attended the St Albans Chamber of Commerce Networking Lunch at which you were speaker. I was there in both a business sense (I have my own business and was representing one of my key clients) and as a parent of two children of primary school age who have additional medical needs.
There were several points that you made that I completely agree with. The culture of ‘instant gratification’ needs to end, employers need employees who can write and spell well, have a good grasp of maths and are prepared to, and want to learn. Having a degree does not mean an automatic entitlement to a job, let alone respect in the workplace. Businesses need resourceful, industrious and flexible candidates applying for jobs – as you said, they need ‘character’ and at the moment, this just isn’t happening.
I agree things need to change and appreciate that changing anything within the education system is incredibly hard because there will always be children in the midst of examinations. There is no point for a really clean break but I do think that being able to give enough notice for a cohort to finish what they’ve started has to be a better plan than changing things mid-way through. Change is important – in business if we were not monitoring our competition, our business strategy and our results and changing things accordingly we would be accused of stagnating.
The Education system seems to find change very difficult. Schools operate at a far slower pace than businesses do – they are bogged down in bureaucracy, paperwork and boxes to tick. Making sweeping changes quickly is not something schools ‘do’ and by implementing them as a Government policy very fast will alienate those who are, as you said, doing such an amazing job on the front line.
If you alienate those who are teaching the next generation of business men and women, the next generation of teachers, healthcare professionals and public servants, things cannot improve. Changes need to be made in a consultative way, implemented with support and monitored to see the results. If those results are not as they should be, you should analyse why and change accordingly – not try and ‘fix’ it with another massive set of changes.
Those that are truly affected by all these changes are the children that you are trying to educate. To quote a much used phrase, “every child matters” – as a father yourself, you will, I hope, observed how every child is different. Every child learns in their own unique way – you can prescribe the techniques that should be used for teaching but you must also allow teachers a degree of freedom to adapt that teaching to fit the children in their class.
My daughter, for example, is an auditory learner. She finds visual processing difficult and she also has a medical condition that, amongst other things, affects her speech. Synthetic phonics for her do not work. She cannot say the sounds, she finds it difficult to remember the patterns of the letters and thus her writing and spelling are behind compared to her numeracy levels. She was discharged from the Speech & Language Team saying that more work was needed but with the sub-text that they didn’t have the funding to keep working with her.
My daughter is bright, engaged at school and wants to learn. She knows more about grammar than I was ever taught – that is a good thing. But she doesn’t learn in the way that you want her to. She’s not the only one either – some children are not able to learn and recite dates and times by rote. I also don’t want someone in the workplace who learns like that – flexibility and adaptation are really important – there are few businesses who can teach what they do by rote. Children need to investigate, discuss, understand, experiment with and draw conclusions – learning should be around the needs of the children, not what you believe businesses need.
Some people in business are visual learners, some auditory and some kinaesthetic. Children learn in different ways too – especially those who have additional needs, be they educational, medical or social. As much as you cannot prescribe one drug to cure all ills, you cannot prescribe one way of teaching and assessment to ‘cure’ the education system at the moment.
Please be assured that the NHS, Support Services and the Education System are not working well together to support children with additional needs. Every parent of a child (or children) with additional needs is fighting a daily battle to get their children adequately supported in school. I use the word ‘adequately’ because at the moment, the possibility of “well supported” seems impossible. Teachers are working their hardest but there isn’t any joined up thinking. Instead there is resentment, a “can’t do” attitude and an unending sense of frustration. For some children their experience in school is tortuous – that start in life is not going to bring a positive impact in the work place over time.
I would urge you to bypass your advisers and to actually come and talk to some parents of real children in real schools. Teachers as well – those who are teaching 30 children who all have their own unique needs and ways of being them. Those, like those who teach my son, have to administer medication and have never had any input from the school nursing services to support them. Those who support the children in mainstream school with autism, epilepsy and a myriad of conditions of which I suspect you will have never heard.
Ask them about learning styles, why child centred learning does have a vitally important role and watch as children enjoy hands on, kinaesthetic learning that stays in their memories. Watch as a teacher tries to inspire children to learn and regurgitate dates and facts without understanding the importance of them – if indeed the importance was ever there.
Then, talk to employers about what they want their interns, school leavers, graduates and other staff to have in terms of their skill sets – their motivation, their ability to problem solve, to be flexible, ethical and responsible in the world of work. Build your policies, curriculum and syllabi from there – encouraging every child to flourish in their own way – albeit with a solid grasp of the basics of life, but as them – not as a government formed information storage unit lacking the ability for independent thought.
I’ve written before (sorry, are you yawning? please go with me on this…) about how much we love to pop up to Whipsnade Zoo after school just to check up on things and get a bit of space in our day. Autumn at Whipsnade is beautiful – so many trees, so many leaves and so few visitors during the week! We had to make a visit up there after the news that a baby elephant had been safely delivered on Sunday morning – this was taken that day by the team at Whipsnade – isn’t he just so cute??
I only managed to get one photo of him today – hiding under his mummy’s legs in the barn and protected by his aunties in the herd, all we could spot was a big eye and a tiny trunk. Nevertheless, we’ve seen him and hope to see him again on our next visit. Apparently Scott who’s been the baby of the herd up until now, is rather unimpressed by the new arrival and was in the process of putting his hay on his head and then sulking in the corner – despite George (who’s now 4) coming to encourage him out. It’s amazing to see such behaviours – and also to think of Scott as the stroppy toddler!
UPDATE – we visited again to see this little chap on Sunday – the pictures are over on my photo blog so click here for some serious cuteness!
The rest of the visit was taken up with just seeing a few favourites. All 5 of the European Lynx were out – the first time we’ve spotted the full family this year.
The squirrels were stocking up on acorns – all the way across the zoo, and there are plenty of them
The rain yesterday provided ample puddle jumping opportunities – thank goodness that school trousers wash really well!
Finally on to see the lemurs – who are much more active when there are fewer people around – and were happy to come up really close to us and squeak.
As the sun started to go down, the light was focussed on the beautiful creeper that grows up the edge of the (not beautiful) toilet block. My pictures of this last year were poor – I think this year they’re better
Once the clocks change, we won’t be able to get up after school as it’ll be too dark. Hopefully we’ll make it up over a weekend to see the trees in their finest reds and golds – probably with our winter coats, wellies and scarves on!
What’s your favourite after school treat now the autumn is upon us?
There are some Saturday afternoons when everyone is a bit tired but you need some fresh air. Yesterday was just one of those days, so we took the Cheetah Keeper, Sealion Keeper, Cheetahs and some Owlies down to one of our very local green spaces here in St Albans. It’s called various things by us locals; “Old Oak”, the “Marlborough Pavilion” (don’t get any grand ideas), the “Marlborough Fields” or the “Sopwell Fields”. Essentially we don’t know what it’s called but we all know where it is.
The Sealion Keeper went down with her dad on their bikes – the area sports a “MUGA” (that’s a Multi Use Games Area – obviously) that’s great for learning to ride your bike well and a few bumpy bits for ‘off roading’. The Cheetah Keeper took down his new golf bag and clubs to hit a few balls around the football pitch (again, obviously) and the Cheetahs wanted the chance for a bit of a run around.
Once we were there, the Cheetahs were off – round the field and up and down the trees. They were particularly taken with the big oak trees (hence the name “Old Oak”) where they could run around. The Owlies liked perching at the top of the trees and swooping around – I think their keeper was a bit distracted by perfecting his swing…
So as he whacked a ball around, his sister practised her biking skills and their father perfected mud slides on the bike, I had a wander around the field with my camera. As the Sealion Keeper would say, obvs.
The Elderberries are ripe and heavy
The Sycamore seeds are ready to come flying down like helicopters in the next breeze
The first sycamore leaves are changing to their beautiful reds and golds and falling to the ground
The view over the Ver Valley is still very green, despite it being mid October. I was expecting more autumn colour by now
And the sheep said to the Magpie…
Then turning in the other direction, we have the most beautiful view of the Cathedral – dominant over the City. I’ve written this before (I think), but I love the fact you can see the Cathedral from so far away – the view is almost better from a distance. Driving home from the zoo we can see it, round the M25 between Junctions 23 and 22 you can see it, majestic on the skyline and it’s there, when I’m coming home from work each day. It means ‘home’ to me. Anyway – enough wittering…
The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban
Things went a bit wrong at that point as the dreaded words “nosebleed” echoed around the fields and we headed off home – the Cheetahs seemed to have made their own way back, the Owlies were back by the time we got there. I suspect without the bleed there’d be some more of their exploits – maybe next time…
On Wednesday, I was 38 years, 3 months and 6 days old. Until that day, I had never made a planned trip to a ‘Spa’ – that’s right, never, not at all. I had not been into a spa with the intention of being pampered, relaxing or being generally looked after. It seems (ok, it’s blazingly obvious) that I have issues with allowing myself ‘me time’. It is an alien concept, one that has never sat easily with me – there is always something to do, something far more important.
2 weeks ago, the gorgeously lovely Lisa Pearson (yes, the Mummy Whisperer) launched Espiritu Spa & Salon in Radlett – just down the road from here. We (that’s the Cheetah Keeper, the Sealion Keeper and I) went to the launch and, after watching the children have chalks in their hair (the Cheetah Keeper loved this) and the Sealion Keeper have her toenails painted, I agreed, for the first time since we got married 10 years ago, to let someone paint my nails. I told you, I have have issues.
Lisa has been an amazing support over the last year, especially post surgery. Knowing that she has hand-picked her team gave me great confidence, so when she invited me back to try out the whole Espiritu ‘experience’ I took at deep breath, and said yes please. A cut & colour and ‘nails’ were agreed – that was about as much as I could cope with the prospect of.
I went for my colour test last Wednesday – in a huge amount of pain having essentially partially dislocated my pelvis which pushed two discs out and locked my neck (sorry, tmi?). Danielle their Technical Specialist was brilliant and talked me through her ideas (I am a hopeless client so I really rely on good advice) – in the meantime, Salon Director Tony had spotted me and asked if he could cut my hair as he had a plan. OK.
Lisa encouraged me to try out an Indian Head Massage from Holistic Therapist Mandy to see if she could alleviate some of my symptoms. I was desperate – the oromorph making me feel MEH, the pain making me sick. It was time to give it a go. Mandy was fantastic – very gentle, understanding my issues about letting people ‘loose’ on my incredibly fragile body. It was money well spent – it didn’t ‘fix’ the problem but it gave me enough relief to get through the next couple of days without sobbing on the school run. Having seen so many conventional medical professionals who have left me in more pain that I went to them in, it is so nice to find someone who can compliment my osteopath. There is no cure for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome so anything that helps me mange it is a blessing.
Fast forward to Wednesday. Hair cut, colour, a reflexology taster and nails. I would have classed myself as ‘anxious’ – I have never booked a day out in my diary just for me. Danielle & Tony made a plan – cut first then colour. I have never had such a meticulous haircut. I have never had such lush hot chocolate at a hairdressers (or free wi-fi for that matter), nor sat in a massage chair whilst they were washing the colour out.
The finished picture of me in the mirror (I’m not keen on mirrors) almost reduced me to tears – in a kind of overwhelmed happy way – Tony had created a new me – a haircut that is easy to manage, looks good and has resulted in so many compliments. The colour is cool – the Cheetah Keeper was lying next to me in bed telling me that I had “gold, silver and shiny sparkles” in my hair – just a single colour had been tailored to suit my natural colour to give that effect. I have had my hair coloured many times, but never as well as this (despite spending a fortune in well known salons).
Then, onto the reflexology with Mandy – with feet that break ridiculously easily I was wary. Mandy ‘got’ this – she was gentle and it meant that I did relax – something that I fully admit I’m not good at – it’s a concept that makes me feel vulnerable – but wrapped up in the big fleece blanket I felt safe. I think knowing that Lisa has chosen her team with such care reassured me – I was sure that she would not leave me in the hands of someone who wouldn’t understand me and my anxieties.
I finished up having my nails turned ‘midnight blue sparkle’ by Kate. Yep, nails again – nothing for 10 years then twice in a fortnight. I keep looking at them to make sure they’re really mine. As you sit and have your nails done, you look out through massive glass windows to a view of constantly changing skies. You don’t feel ‘contained’ in the Salon – it’s spacious, light, airy and individual – the vintage theme is lovely and the music isn’t the choice of whatever iPod happens to be at work that day, it’s been carefully chosen to create a nice ambiance.
*Emotional alert*. I spent 4 and a half hours at Espiritu on Wednesday. I would have happily snuggled up on their comfy chairs by the window with a book for the rest of the day. Lisa and her team have created a haven, a safe space, thought out to the finest detail and a place I suspect I will deal with my issues about allowing myself some time for me. It’s the beginning of a project I wouldn’t have been brave enough to embark on without them - saying ‘thank you’ to them sounds rather lame but I can’t quite find the right words yet.
I’ll keep you posted on the project – in the meantime what do you think of the ‘do’?