Monthly Archives: November 2013

Come rain or come shine

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I’m on my way to central London to meet a friend for lunch. Since I haven’t been to the gym at all this week (reason being: I wasn’t functioning due to lack of sleep), I decided to walk to the station. Of course it had to rain all the way there. Of course the sun decided to shine just as we got on the train. Why not, eh?

It’s amusing to see Beatrice’s eyes moving so fast looking through the window. She doesn’t even want to sleep with so much to be seen. First and last time she was on a train, she was less than a month old, so all is new news for her.

I need to plan another visit, this time to see the colleagues at work. I’m so lazy for these things… sigh.
Below: Beatrice just now. She needs to brush her hair, mummy! Hmm, I’ve just noticed how thick her eyebrows are.
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Graduation

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My little ballerina got her first certificate a couple of weeks ago, as the ballet term has come to an end. It was so cute to see those little girls all so proud of their achievement. All the parents were too (sometimes I think the some mothers enjoy it more then the children).

We are looking forward to the new term, but we will miss the first class, as we are going to the theatre (and as with everything in this country, we bought the tickets a couple of months ago, before Laura joined the ballet).

Receiving her certificate from Miss K

Receiving her certificate from Miss K

Proud of her certificate

Proud of her certificate

*Squeeze* *Kiss* *Hug* My cute ballerina

*Squeeze* *Kiss* *Hug* My cute ballerina

Halloween, before Christmas arrives

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I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner. I’m not ready for this yet. So, before Christmas comes, I will post some photos of Halloween. Mostly for my mum, who isn’t on Facebook or Instagram. 😉

This year we celebrated Halloween because of Laura. She learned about it at the nursery. We had loads of kids trick or treating in our street and we thought Laura would enjoy the whole thing.

She enjoyed dressing up, coloring bas and sticking them on the window, she loved to see the kids coming to our house with the most amazing costumes and she enjoyed the idea of people giving her sweets. But she was very shy when it came to knocking at people’s door and saying “trick or treat”. :/

I can see she liked the idea, as she plays “trick or treat” with her dolls and she says “happy halloween” from time to time, so high hopes for next year’s holiday!

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Sleeping problems – same old

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Last weekend the clocks went back and we are now back to GMT. The days are shorter, still very dark by 7am and it gets dark around 4pm. You would think that it is better to put the kids to bed, right? Well, not sure about yours, but my kids’ sleeping patterns are bit of a mess. I guess they came little defective from factory.

Poor Beatrice is very sleepy around 5pm. But it isn’t a “30 minute nap” kind of tired, it’s a “I’m going to sleep until tomorrow” sleepy. What do you do with a sleepy baby? Tortured her until it is 7pm, her real bedtime?! I managed to stretch her bedtime routine until 6pm, 6.30pm is I’m VERY lucky. And of course she is awake by 5am. But she will wake up at 5am even if she sleeps at 7pm. She continues to wake up every two hours to have milk.

Miss Laura is great to put to bed. Since I started picking her up at the nursery earlier, she hasn’t caused much problems to have a bath and I have been starting her bedtime routine on my own (I used to wait for hubby and he would deal with Laura, while I sorted Bea out), so by 7pm she was in bed, fast asleep. But in the last days, she has been going to sleep around 8pm. It’s always an excuse: she is thirsty, she is hungry, she needs a wee, she wants a different story… at least, my plan with the gro clock seems to be working slowly. Laura was also waking up at 5am, which is not cool. The gro clock was set for 7am, but she wouldn’t take that. So I started setting the clock to 5:15, then 5:30, then 5:45… we are now at 6am, and she woke up at 6:15am on Sunday. She comes to my bed all excited to tell me that the sun was shining and it was time to wake up. I can’t wait to get the clock set to 7am and she actually stays in bed until then.

Wish me luck as I’m not sure how long I’ll last.

Chislehurst caves: a piece of British history

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It’s been a while now that we’ve been wanting to visit the Chislehurst Caves but we always find excuses. I think it was because it is so close to us and we can always go there “another day”.

We finally decided to go, as a last minute thing, and it was a good surprise, I must say. The caves are in fact man made tunnels, 22 mile long and 30 meters below the woodlands. It is divided into three sections: saxon, druids and roman. It is not confirmed that the tunnels were really made by the saxons, the druids and the romans, but it adds a bit more mystery and fun to the whole experience if you truly believe they were.  😉

The coolest bits of the caves history are the earliest days though. It became a popular tourist attraction in early 1900s. During the II World War, they were used as shelter to families who lost their homes when London and other cities were bombarded. It was London’s largest public air aid shelter, with 15,000 people living there. It was a proper community, with a hospital, chapel, cantine…

The caves don’t have electricity in several parts of it and the tours are lit by a torch and several hand lamps given to the visitors. At some point, the guide removes the light and demonstrate the echo in the cave. Most of the children in our group, at this point, covered their ears so they weren’t too scared.

A fun fact: up until 1985, people took challenges to see who could sleep in the cave (12 hours at night). The challenge was set by the owners of the caves, after hearing the story of a woman’s bones found near the pools in the cave. Some say that she haunts the caves, near the area she was found, so as you image, sleeping there (alone, by the way) was quite scary. Apparently only one person won the challenge, a policeman, who carved a horse on the wall a bit farther from the pools. It is said that he could feel someone behind him, as if breathing on his neck, so he spent the whole 12 hours facing the wall. He later said that he would never do this again, for whatever amount of money in the world.

In the 50’s and 60’s, several famous artists performed in the caves. And we are talking here about BIG names, like Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie… not Beatles though.

Another curiosity: the entrance to the caves during WWII when they were used as shelter was charged, daily or weekly. 6p/night and children paid half price. All the money was invested back in the caves, so no profit was made during that time.

More information:

This is an interesting but very short attraction (you’re done in an hour). It’s a great thing as part of other activities in the area or when you just need to kill some time. It is also perfect for all type of weather.

Address: Chislehurst Caves, Caveside Close, Old Hill, Chislehurst, Kent. BR7 5NL

Train station: Chislehurst (from London Bridge and London Charing Cross)

Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm

Tickets: £6/adult, £4/children 3-15, under 3 is free, but they don’t recommend the tour for kids under 3 (as they can be afraid of the dark)

The caves can only be visited with a guided tour, which happens every hour. The temperature in the caves are around 10 degrees Celsius. Not recommended to take a pushchair. Don’t bring your own torches, they provide oil lamps.

There is a cafe were they serve breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and coffee.

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The map of the caves

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Reconstruction of the chapel

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Stage where some of the most famous artists in the world performed in the 50’s and 60’s

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Illustration representing how a Druid sacrifice could have looked like

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Sculpture from 1995 in the Druids section. If you have a closer look, at the very bottom there’s a building like the ones in Canary Wharf

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Our guide just before removing all the lights and making some serious noise in the Druids sacrifice altar

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This sign in the wall is everywhere in the caves. It worked as an “address” to the people who used to lived there during the WWII times. It was a type of post code as well, as the mail was delivered in the caves.

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Reconstruction of the sleeping rooms during WWII

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Sign at the entrance of the caves

Things to do while on maternity leave

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I feel very lucky to have had my babies in the UK and be entitled for a full year maternity leave. Although I don’t get a salary through part of it, I think this time I get to spend with them is precious.

Unfortunately pregnancy and motherhood left me a bit slow in the brain and I missed out lots of things I could have done with both since early weeks. I decided to write this post after trying to enroll in several activities just to find out that it is too late for a few of them and having a friend who just gave birth in New Zealand in mind. I wished I had someone to tell me certain things from day 1 I got pregnant.

NCT classes – I heard of it after having Laura and promised myself I was going to attend when I was pregnant again. Then, around March, I decided to look for a group near me just to hear from my boss that it was already too late, that I should have joined NCT just after the 1st trimester. I was very frustrated. NCT is a charity for parenting here in the UK and they run pre-Natal classes as well as other stuff. The best thing about it, in my opinion, is to get to know mothers in your area that will give birth around the same time as you. These mothers then gather to do things together after their babies are born. I just dropped my local NCT a note to ser if there is anything for mothers with young babies that I can join.

Baby massage – another one that I joined a little too late. Although the instructor told me there isn’t a real age limit (as long as baby isn’t walking), I find it quite hard to massage Bea when all she wants is to roll and look at other babies. I can see that the younger babies – 4 to 12 weeks – enjoy the massage more than Bea will ever enjoy. So, in my opinion, best age to start this is when baby is around 6 weeks old. Price for a 5 week course: £55 (I’ve seen more expensive ones but also seen free ones, from the council).

Baby yoga – I was looking at baby yoga classes to replace the baby massage classes once this is finished, in 2 weeks time, and also found out that it is recommended for babies between 6 weeks up to crawling. Well, Bea is very close to start crawling – she is already on her knees and moving back and forth on spot, exactly how Laura was a few days before she started crawling. From £6/session.

Baby sensory classes – this is way more flexible, and there are different age groups: the one I’m looking at the moment is for babies up to one year. There are other activities for older babies, who are walking. Prices vary from free (council – very basic) to £6-£8/session.

Baby music classes – same as above. I’m going to try one on the 5th november. Prices from £8/session.

Baby swimming classes – same as above. But I wasn’t very lucky with Laura. She was 4 months old when we went for a mum and baby class but the club near me was small and the dressing room wasnt very baby friendly – I had to leave her on a bench to get myself dressed, which was very dangerous and stressful. She wasn’t sitting but was rolling. Also, I found the water very cold and so was the dressing room, and Laura seemed to have a constant cold after we started swimming. I’m planning to give it a go with Bea at the new place I go to the gym, but only next year, as I have to pay for 10 classes (weeks) in advance and I’m not sure I want to commit to it just yet. Each class costs around £7.

Baby ballet – starts at 18 months. Laura is really enjoying her ballet class and I will definitely put Bea in as soon as she turns 18 months. We found classes on Saturdays, which is perfect for working parents. Each class costs £6, but you have to pay for a full term (6 classes) in advance.

Playgroups – there are various and for all age groups up to pre-school age, including free ones in libraries and other council buildings. I have only been to one yet with Bea because the ones I found are on Fridays and I had stuff to do. Sessions can be as little as £1 per
child, when charged for (see free options above).

Activities for mums – I mentioned the gym with creche on a previous post – there are other options like bootcamps where mums exercise with their babies and buggies. I’m also attending a “Family Meal” workshop for two hours a week and Bea stays in their creche. This is organized by our council’s Children and Family Centre. When this is finished, I will start a photography for mums with baby workshop for 3 weeks. Prices varies a lot, going from free (council) to £90 (photography). My gym membership costs £30/month (+ £3.5/hour for the creche).

At the moment Bea is at that age where she is too old for certain things and too young for others, but I don’t want to get to the stage I got with Laura, where I wouldn’t leave the house because I had panic attacks and post-natal depression. Forcing myself to do things with Bea has helped me not to go crazy and with winter coming, there are good chances I go mad if I don’t have stuff to do.