Tag Archives: UK

Don’t let the sun go down on me

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If I’m not a big fan of the cold and these darker days that we are going through, I have now an additional reason to dislike it.

It’s been a while since I’ve noticed that I had bad mood swings, was always tired, in pain, etc. I used to blame pregnancy, then hormones post-pregnancy, then going back to work and having bad nights of sleep, then I just blamed life – it was hard and just not worth it. So I went to the doctors as I thought it could be the post-natal depression again.

The doc looked at me and said: “hmmmmmmmmm, maybe. Not impossible. But your daughter is 18 months, so it’s not like it’s post-natal anymore”. She didn’t say that but this is what was implied.

Thankfully she is not the type of GP that will say “here, have a Paracetamol, send your kids to the grandparents, your husband to a business trip to Antarctica and go to
sleep”. It’s a good plan, don’t get me wrong, but hard to implement. Instead, the plan was: have a blood test, call the health visitor to get help with the girls’ sleep and then go back there to see whether there was a need to go back to medication, counselling, trip to Antarctica or Paracetamol.

Blood test done. Health visitor unreachable. GP appointment due. Blood test results: I’m vitamin D deficient. Not insufficient. Deficient. All the I had for the first 8 months of the year apparently wasn’t enough. All
the milk and cheese and occasional tuna and salmon are not enough.

GP (and leaflet) informed me that vitamin D deficiency can cause tiredness, muscle and bone pain and these combined can cause trouble with sleep and mood swings. She gave me the example of her own sun, who was feeling miserable and thinking that life was a struggle. Lots of vitamin D pills later, he is back to his normal self.

The best solution to this problem is to move to a sunny country. All year round. The easiest solution is to take 5 x 800IU of vitamin D for 10 weeks, check my blood again hoping to go to normal doses of Vitamin D (which apparently is 600IU – I’m having 4000IU) for the rest of my life, or until I retire in a nice sunny country.

Apparently NHS only started offering Vitamin D tests widely 5 years ago. So it was a new thing when I was first diagnosed with depression, which made me wonder if there wasn’t a problem with my Vitamin D levels back then. Back 9 years ago when I moved in to this country and felt miserable since.

Anyway, no point in wondering… no point in even blaming lack on vitamin D for all my problems. The purpose of the post is to start a campaign: let’s move to Australia, husband! I get they overdose on vitamin D there. haha

No, seriously, this post is for you, dear person who reads this blog, friend or anonymous, and feels miserable for no reason and have no clue where to start. Talk to the GP, ask for a blood test, especially if you live in countries where there’s little day light in autumn/winter. Apparently just 15 min (more if you have dark skin) of sun without sun lotion, three times a week, is enough. I thought I had enough but, hey, I was so very wrong.

Note to self: plan holidays one a month to very sunny places. Apparently is good for your health.

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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

10 places I want to go with the kids

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The list has easy to go and affordable destinations (well, at least 7 ou 8 of them) when travelling from Europe. Of course the real list is way longer than that, but these are the places I would like to go NOW and require very little planning. 😉

1) Sardinia: we were there in June 2009, just before I got pregnant. We flew to Olbia in the Northeast and stayed in Cala Gonone (East coast). We had a car for the week we were there and went kayaking one day, which was really fun and I would like to try again. A week is not enough to fully enjoy the island. Italy is such a friendly place to take kids (Italians love their children) that it only makes sense to go there again with the girls (not sure about trekking and kayaking though).

Sardinia

Sardinia

2) Cyprus: we were there with Laura in June 2012, and stayed in Protaras, on the southeast coast. The closest beach to our flat was Fig Tree beach, which was lovely for kids and adults. Since we had a car for the week, we managed to drive around a bit, but we stayed mostly near the apartment. I would try to go in April or May, as I found June very hot (it’s worse in July/August), and I would also like to visit Northern Cyprus.

Fig Tree Beach, Cyprus

Fig Tree Beach, Cyprus

3) Greece: we’ve only been there once, to Athens and Sifnos. There’s so much more to see and do. I would try to avoid the most popular ones and would prefer to go in April/May or September. We went in July/August and it was VERY hot. Nothing against, but the sun wasn’t really appropriate for children.

Greece, some beach I would like to go

Greece, some beach I would like to go (I bet this is not the real colour though). Photo credit: http://www.charterworld.com

4) Florida: I went only once, when I was 12. I think it’s the perfect place to enjoy beaches and parks; in the right season the weather can be beautiful and the girls would never get bored (we had a few moments when Laura didn’t want to go to the beach anymore, so having other kids-friendly options around is always good).

Disney is just ONE of the places in Florida to visit. Photo credit: Disney World website

Disney is just ONE of the places in Florida to visit. Photo credit: Disney World website

5) Northeast of Brazil. We will got to Salvador in January and I hope it will be a good experience. I have been to a few places and loved them all, but it will be my first time in Bahia (at least as an experience I can remember).

Porto de Galinhas, PE

Calhetas Beach, PE

6) Italy. Because it’s Italy. I want to go everywhere, anywhere, always!

An afternoon view in Verona, Italy

An afternoon view in Verona, Italy

7) Lapland, northern Finland. At least until they believe in Santa Claus. I think it would be a great trip. Actually, I would say that Scandinavia is a great region to visit with kids. My impression is that, as with Italians, the scandi love their children and there are loads to do with them in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It could be just an impression – we visited Norway and Copenhagen and there was nothing screaming BRING YOUR KIDS, but there was this kids-friendly thing in the air.

Lapland; isn't it beautiful? Photo credit: Nordic Visitor Finland website

Lapland; isn’t it beautiful? Photo credit: Nordic Visitor Finland website

8) Guernsey/Jersey. I’m dying to visit those islands; I’ve seen some pretty great pictures and they are not far, it’s British territory (although next door to France), it’s easy access (we can go either by air or sea) and they are tiny, so in a week should be possible to visit most/all of it. Oh, I mean one week each, not both.

Guernsey. Photo credit: Walking Britain website

Guernsey. Photo credit: Walking Britain website

9) Berlin. Loads of friends say the most amazing things about Berlin. Not sure how interesting it is for a pre-schooler, but I’m sure we can fin something she will enjoy doing.

Berlin. Photo credit: www.trueberlin.com

Berlin. Photo credit: http://www.trueberlin.com

10) Australia. This wouldn’t be my list if Australia wasn’t in it. I couldn’t care less if the girls or Mr. C would enjoy a trip to Australia; this is a totally personal destination. 😉

Owwwnnnn

Owwwnnnn

Snippets

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Since Sunday we have been blessed with gorgeous days. Beautiful warm gorgeous days. May them last until October!

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I’m entering the 9th month and although I’m still one of the smallest nearly-there bump size I know, the muscles around the tummy seem to have reached their maximum in terms of stretch. It’s actually a bit painful.

And since we are talking about body changes: the bones in my hips are also quite painful. If I had to guess, I would say it’s the pain of the bones preparing to give some room for birth. I had forgotten about that.

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Nearly there also with baby name. We are now debating on the spelling. In English is Beatrice, in Portuguese is Beatriz. Hubby swears that in Romanian would spell Beatrice but pronounce Beatris (“z” in Romanian has a proper “z” sound, whilst in Portuguese, in this case, it would be an “s” sound). I’m slightly reluctant to write Beatrice, because I don’t want people calling her Beatriche, which is how “ce” is pronounced in Romanian and Italian.

What do you think, peeps? Am I just being a pain?

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I would like to start calling Baby 2 by her name, so Laura gets used to it instead of just calling her “baby sister”.

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Still on names, it seems that Nina will keep being the 2nd option. We really like the name, but never enough to actually name our daughters. 😦

Does it sound like the name of the youngest of all? Should I name my 4th daughter Nina? I have this recurring dream that we will try for a boy and end up with four daughters (and no sons).

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And since I haven’t been posting Laurinisms lately, here are some of the things we have heard in the past weeks (months?)
– This dog is SO cuuuuuuuute (she closes her eyes to say cute).
– This is A-MA-ZING!
– Oh, my, this is delicious!
– Oh.my.god! (when I showed her the mark left by the whooping cough jab)
– Caca, bleargh, bleargh (when she pooes)
– I need to work to. (then she gets the computer or phone and pretends to type)
– Pay attention, everyone. I’m gonna do the show. (she grabs a stick to be her microphone and either sing or “do the balance/ballet”)
– WELL DONE, mummy, good girl!