Sunday, 10 May 2015

The good life

When we moved into our house almost 8 years ago, I loved that the house backed on to allotments and one of the first things I did was put my name down for one. I did not expect that 7 years would go by without hearing anything about it, until one day in February when I got a phone call asking me if I was still interested in having one.

 It was about the same time that we had decided to adopt so I had to think, will I be taking on too much but how fantastic would it be to be able to teach the children about growing their own food, also I have always wanted chickens and there may be a possibility that we could get some in the future. It would be hard work getting it straight but it would be rewarding. I finally got my keys at Easter and set to work on my plot, plot 2 which consisted of 7 raised beds, a green house with very little glass in it and a huge amount of raspberry canes growing at the end, I'd already spotted rhubarb and strawberries growing in the raised bed and a huge bundle of chives.
      This is what it looked like when I first got it.

I was off for the Easter holidays, so I went on every other day and with the help of my mum, my friend Sandra, Matthew and my nephews Joshua, Thomas and Edward we managed to dig over all 7 beds.

     So by the end of the week it looked like this.

There was still weeding to do but I decided to weed as I go, I put the potatoes in first, then garlic and onions. We moved all the strawberries we had found to next to the rhubarb and I bought two tayberry plants so I put them there too.

The next week I sowed carrots, parsnips, beetroot and Swiss chard seeds. I'm not sure how well these will do I've never been too good at growing anything from seed, but as with everything on the allotment it's going to be trial and error.

The following week I sowed broad beans against the trellis and made two wigwams and sowed peas around it, the lady from the allotment next to mine (who also lives next door but one to me) on the left of the picture has been really nice and helping me with everything gave me 4 baby corn plants to plant, everyone on the allotment has been lovely, offering to lend me tools and wheelbarrows there are only 5 allotments and everyone I've met are so friendly.  

Which brings us to this week and this week I have planted broccoli, cauliflower and Savoy cabbage that I got from b&q for a pound each, I also have sown some turnips and leeks. I have sown some courgettes in between the peas and planted another row of red and white onions. My garlic, onions and potatoes have started to grow and I have spotted a gooseberry bush in between my rasberries and what looks like it maybe an apple tree. I have made two rhubarb crumble with my first harvest from the allotment and have given 5 people some rhubarb stalks and they are still going strong..I might make jam with some next, much to Matthew's disgust! (he doesn't like rhubarb)

    5 of the 7 beds now have things planted in them,
    ignore the nearest one, that's just weeds!

                           Apple tree???
    If you look closely you can spot a Gooseberry! 

It feels really great when I'm over there getting muddy, pulling out massive weeds and planting things and watching them grow although patience never was one of my strong points! So at the moment it's just hoping they will grow. I also have a little robin who keeps visiting me and I like to think its one of the ones from the nest last year.

I will keep you posted on how things progress, thanks for reading! 
Abigail x

Monday, 9 March 2015

Looking forward to the future!

Since my last blog something wonderful has happened -Matthew and I have decided to adopt!

Putting my inner most feelings out there for everyone to see actually meant that people spoke to me more about it and not just in a 'oh I feel so sorry for you' way. I had people contacting me and tell me about how they have suffered with infertility and decided to adopt and how they had felt then and how they now feel and everyone I spoke to about it, adoption seemed to make sense a little more to me.

 I spoke to someone at work who is in the process of adopting at the moment to ask how it had been for her, she was so enthusiastic about it that as soon as I went home I spoke to Matthew about it, we agreed that we should try to find out some more about it, so we emailed the local council adoption service and asked to speak to someone about it. We were there for over an hour talking, hearing about the stages of the adoption process and asking questions when we came away I didn't even need to ask Matthew if he wanted to do it I could tell by the look on his face that he was as excited about it as me. We talked all night about things we had never allowed ourselves to talk about, about what it would be like to have family holidays in Cornwall, about school Matthew would be in charge of helping with Maths and I would help with English, I could teach them to bake and Matthew could teach them to play the cornet. We also just both felt it was the right time we'd done our grieving and had two years enjoying being together and our relationship has gone from strength to strength but now this is what we both want.

It was like a weight had been lifted off us, everyone I've spoke to whose adopted has said that they thought of the process a bit like a pregnancy, this time is to prepare for having a family and I feel exactly the same way. Since deciding to adopt I haven't felt sad for not being able to give birth to my own children just excited for the life I can give to an adopted child or children.

The next day telling family and friends about our decision was a wonderful experience, seeing how happy our family are and how excited everyone is for us was amazing. I also felt quite emotional that I could at last talk about all these feelings I'd be suppressing about being a mummy.
The adoption process could take 6 months or longer, we are eager to get started and we have our first home visit this week. We have worked hard for the past two weeks, the house looked a bit like a bomb site we had dry rot in some of the floorboards downstairs so we had to take them out and replace them. We decided that whilst we were doing this we might as well do some much overdue decorating that needed doing. We are still not completely finished but we have done so much in this time that in the past would've taken us much longer, because it's given us a purpose, a need to get it done and the reward at the end of it all will be a family! 
Thanks for reading, 
Abigail x

Saturday, 24 January 2015

I sometimes wish people could see inside my head at the constant turmoil I have with myself. If I had more money I would do IVF again. It caused me so much pain and anguish but the hope is calling out to me again, I am finding it so hard to give up that we will never have children of my own, I will never know the feeling of a baby growing inside me, I will never go through that life changing experience of holding a new born baby and knowing that it's yours, I will never get to see what our baby would look like or which of our characteristic it would have. People might say it's only money, do it! but we cannot afford it, we would have to go into debt, being childless doesn't make you rich, we have spent money on holidays, experiences things that make us feel better but they were all frugally spent. If we had saved up for the last two years instead of these holidays we actually still wouldn't have enough for IVF and we would probably have gone mad. 
As a childless couple you feel like you don't belong anywhere in society, your on the outside looking in at what life is supposed to be like, for self preservation you distance yourself from people with children so it doesn't hurt so much, you can't join in with conversations about having kids. I have built up a shield I want to travel and try new things, somethings that people with children may find difficult to do and whilst we are travelling and doing all these different things I feel great and I wouldn't trade it for anything but you can't do these things constantly. 
When you're at home in the day to day you realise there is something missing and it hurts, it's like a grief but there is no death, no body to mourn, nobody sees the pain or understands it. I still have not come to terms with it, I try not to think about it or look on the bright side of life but it effects me daily. I'm not looking for sympathy I just want people to understand why I am like I am, why I find it so hard to be around pregnant women or babies or people with children it's not because I don't care it's because I'm sad and yes I'm jealous and it makes me feel like a horrible person.
We could go into debt for a chance to have a baby, We might try and try and try and never have a baby then I would have nothing left at the end but a debt that I have pay back and that stops us getting on with our lives.
On the other hand I could try and try and try and it could work we would still be in debt and struggle having all the extra cost of bringing up a child and paying off a debt.
Not enough is done to help people who go through IVF, the first IVF was funded through the nhs, when we first started trying the funding was for three lots of IVF but by the time it came around to us having it it had been cut to one. This put immense pressure on us hoping that everything would go right the first time. The second we only could do with by doing egg sharing to keep the costs down and Matt's mum and dad paid for it. Egg sharing can halve the cost of IVF but you have to give away half of your eggs that are retrieved at the egg collection -if you get an odd number, say 7 the person you are sharing with will get 4 and you will get 3 this is obviously before insemination and there is a chance that the fertilisation won't work, out of 3 we had two embryos which we had put back. The other thing that is quite hard is that you have to write a letter to the child that could be born from the donated egg explaining a bit about yourself and why you donated the egg, this is because upon their 18th birthday they can legally find out about you. This is awful it feels like you are writing a letter to a child you have given up. Something I'd never want to do. I could, if I wanted find out if my donated egg resulted in a birth, I have not yet done this and I don't know whether I will. So if I decide to do it again I also have to decide whether to go through this. 
You might think 'just adopt a child' but it would still mean coming to terms with not being able to give birth to our own child which is also so hard to think about.
I flit from one idea to another of what to do, all the time I'm getting older and will I at some point look back and regret my decision if I don't try again. Or someday realise I've been thinking about it so much I've missed my opportunity. I wish we didn't have these decisions to make, we are so indecisive at the best of times. I don't know what I hope to gain from telling you all this, no one can help us or tell us what to do we just have to make that decision ourselves. I think I just hope to be understood a little bit better, it's not something that's really spoken about so it can feel very lonely at times. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer holiday

Well it's that time of year again when I get ready to go back to work and return to my normal routine. Before the holidays you plan to do lots, thinking you'll have lots of time to do lots of things when the reality is you don't do half the things you want to do and I always end up at this stage thinking what have I done with the last 7 weeks! 
But I suppose I have done quite a lot. Of course the beginning of the 7 weeks started with my holiday to Kefalonia. 
For my birthday, 2 days after we got back I got very spoilt, with some lovely presents and we went to see 'around the world in 80 days' at the royal exchange theatre which was brilliant, unfortunately I'd been ill after I got back from holiday so I didn't feel up to going out for a meal. I baked a cake for my nephew Joshua's birthday the following weekend, on Saturday went to Joshua's party had a play on the bouncy castle, it was a lovely day and we basically had a picnic party at the park near Susanna's house. The day after we all went back around to Susanna's for Joshua's actually birthday, we went back out to the park to play with the rocket Christiana had bought him and then played rounders with the cricket set Rebekah had got him. It was great fun. 
That week I also went to Manchester for a lovely afternoon tea at 47 King Street West with my friend Kimberley from work, I made up for not having anything to drink on my actual birthday by having a few glasses of prosecco! 
I have done some crafting, I got a felting kit for my birthday so I did that. I decided to try and sell some of my crafts on eBay ( seller name abbiefh) and Etsy (shop name Abigail makes) I'd had a little bit of success with my Facebook page last year but after the holidays, funds were low and we need to start saving for our next holiday in October too so I gave this a try. I had thought that etsy would be better because it is primarilly for handmade items but so far I have only sold two things on there, on eBay I have sold about 4 things, I'm currently making christmas things to sell, so I hope these will sell as it gets closer to christmas and hopefully will help to fund more holidays! 
I have started foraging for this year picking lots of blackberries at 7 acres and me and my mum went to pick winberries at Entwistle reservoir. I also bought a jam pan so I'll be making some jams soon.
I spent sometime with my nephews eating egg butties and watching Lego movie which Josh had got for his birthday. 
I also had some lovely news that my younger sister Susanna, Josh's mum had got engaged, the wedding won't be for a while but I'm going to be a bridesmaid! Yey! I love a good wedding! 
went on a helicopter flight from Kenyon hall farm, Matthew bought it me for my birthday. The flight conditions weren't great it was windy and wet but we were determined to do it and it was really good.
We also did a horse riding lesson and an hours trek at a place called matchmoor riding school in Horwich I bought it ages ago from amazon local, it was £28 for us both and it was really good we learnt the basic and how to trot then we went on a hours trek up to near rivington pike so it was really good value for money. 
I went for another meal in Manchester to Artisan with another friend Sandra from work, they do lovely food there especially the garlic flatbread! We had a lovely afternoon. 
Finally our bank holiday was spent on our (possibly) last camping trip of the year to Staithes, I hadn't even heard of this place before this year but it's a really beautiful place it's near Whitby, we went for 2 nights and stayed at a campsite called trig point 49 and although very basic and in some parts not very clean it was a very handy location just 5mins walk from the harbour (and the pubs!). We had a lovely relaxing weekend, Max loved it on the beach and there was a lovely craft shop and a vintage shop there too. 
We have finally started decorating our bedroom but decorating is never easy in our house, our wardrobe is set into the wall with sliding doors in front so I've had to empty all our clothes out whilst we decorate so they are all in the spare bedroom in boxes, it's taking a while so unfortunately they are still there. Hopefully it will be done soon, decorating is my least favourite thing! 
Oh well back to the work on Monday and it's all change at work too so I'm a little anxious about it. I know I'll be fine and it's just a case of getting back into routine, by Friday the summer holidays will feel like a long time ago! 

Thanks for reading! 
Abigail x 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Kefalonia holiday

This years summer holiday was to Kefalonia a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, we had never been there but we knew people who had and said it was lovely. We were staying in Skala a resort on the southern tip of Kefalonia.


Our hotel was San Giorgio just outside the resort of Skala, it had 3 pools, a restaurant, a bar, a shop and a cafe.  The hotel room was fantastic with a balcony with views across the Ionion sea, the shower was powerful and the king size bed was comfortable, the air conditioning was very effective! Sometimes I would wake up shivering!  
We were on bed and breakfast board. The breakfast was good, not really what I am used to, it was more a continental breakfast, everyday they would have cereals, yoghurt, honey, fruit, toast, ham and cheese, then one hot item either scrambled eggs, boiled eggs or sausage and beans, they also had croissant some days or a honey sponge cake which was delicious. I do usually like a cooked breakfast whilst I'm on holiday but it was so hot I don't think I would've managed it and there enough of a selection to keep me happy. We ate at the cafe for our lunch a few times and was very impressed, the food was lovely we had chicken souvlaki on pittas, salad from the salad bar thiswas a self service and we were given a tub to fill up, we shared one and it was plenty and sandwiches, huge baguettes which was really enough to share, food and the drinks were resonably priced. We went to the restaurant twice it was really lovely and the food was as good as any you would find in the resort, on the first day I had Bekre Meze my husband had pork souvlaki which was lovely too. The second time we went I had another traditional Greek dish, Lamb Kleftiko, my husband had Beef Stifado, again both delicious. The meals cost about 23€ with drinks each time! We got bread the first night 4 big slices which was lovely and it came with garlic butter when we looked on our bill the bread was only 1€! It's also a lovely location you can sit on the balcony to three sides, either looking out to the sea, looking towards skala beach or to the hotel pool. The hotel was immaculate inside and out the gardens were beautiful  and pools were lovely and good sizes. There were beautiful little coves and beaches just a sort walk from the hotel and also a few restaurants within walking distance I can recommend 'Old Times' a lovely family restaurant nearby. There is a free shuttle service to Skala that you could book on but it stops at 9pm and there weren't many shuttles in the afternoon. One afternoon we walked it once it took about 40 mins, hard work in the heat of the sun. There are also taxis from skala that cost 5€ we quite often took the shuttle bus down to town then got the taxi back. There were several themed nights a fun Karaoke on one night and on some nights there was a singer, singing well known mainstream songs earlier on then later, more traditional Greek songs and eventually ending the night with getting everyone up dancing, one of the hotel staff also did some very impressive belly dancing. On the Saturday our last night there were lanterns in the pool and fireworks and even I succumbed to the dancing but it didn't half go on I was shattered by the end! The clientele of the hotel is British people but from all over UK I heard a lot of different accents and a lot were people who had been before. 
The only downsides I would say is the wifi was very weak and hit and miss, I know you don't go on your holidays to use the internet but on this occasion we needed to transfer money and we couldn't because of the wifi. Also I decided not to take my hair dryer because of recent electrical restrictions on the plane but I wished I had brought it because the one in the hotel was so weak. 
All in all the hotel far exceeded our expectations and we had a lovely stay here.


As you've probably guessed from my blog posts I love food so I was excited to see what Greek food was and I wanted to try all the traditional dishes. We had quite a selection some of which I'd tried before some I hadn't. The thing about kefalonia is that because it's an island it produces lots of its own food, everything was amazingly fresh where ever we went and we didn't have a bad meal anywhere.
Here are some of the food we tried:

Bekre Meze- it was delicious it was like a stew made with beef I think it was and garlic and red wine it had pieces of feta and another Greek cheese which I can't remember the name of melted into it.

Lamb Kleftiko - lamb, potatoes, veg, herbs and feta cheese cooked in a parcel 

Beef Stifado - tomato based stew with shallots

Pork souvlaki - a marinated pork kebab served with pitta and tzatziki ( a cucumber yoghurt dip)

Kefalonian meat pie - traditionally made with goat in but in most restaurants it's made with lamb, potatoes and herbs with a very thin pastry.

Calamari - fried squid

Moussaka - mince with aubergines layered on top then topped with a bechamel sauce

Olive tapenade - a olive and garlic paste which you spread on bread.

Everything was as delicious as it sounds! Of course I also had lots of feta and olives. I am going to research home to make the dishes now I'm back.

We ate out at The Flamingo, The Pines, Old times, Mikelatos Family and Akrogialli Taverna. We also had lunch at Apagio in Fiscardo. Everywhere was lovely and we mainly got two main meals, bread and an alcoholic drink and it was never more than 25€ so it was really good value too.


Kefalonia is by no means a lively island like its neighbour Zante. Skala is a popular and busy resort, with huge pebble beaches with crystal clear water but it's not as traditional and quaint as some resorts in Kefalonia . There are plenty of bars, restaurants and taverns but I wouldn't say it's lively. We especially liked to spend the evenings at Metaxa beach bar, this was right on the beach and as well as serving snacks and desserts, they had really good cocktails and there happy hour(s) was 8 till 10. Most places have happy hours when the cocktails are half price but they are 7 till 9. We tend to eat late so we had only finished our meal at 9, so Metaxa was perfect for us. There is an archeological site of a roman villa with mosaics set into the floor, but after walking to skala in the searing heat we walked down to see it only to find it was closed Mondays, we didn't get a chance to go again.


Kefalonian island tour - we booked this through Panem tours which is on Skala high street 31€ Each( much cheaper than getting it through thomson which was 45€ each) 
Places we visited: 
Assos - a beautiful traditional harbour town with a castle above it. 
Fiscardo - another traditional harbour which buildings have Venetian influence these predate all the other villages as Fiscardo was the only village which remained largely unaffected by the 1953 earthquake which destroyed 90% of Islands building 
A photo stop looking down from a layby to myrtos beach, the beach that was used in the filming of 'Captain Corellis Mandolin' 
Mellisanni lake- a underground lake you go in small rowing boats around it and when the sun shines in it reveals amazing blue colours in the water. This had an additional cost of 6€ each
Dragorati caves-a huge cave with massive stalagmites and stalagtites. Additional cost 4€ each.
Robola wine tour and tasting.
We really enjoyed this trip, the only downside was we got picked up from hotel first at 7.45am and they only started the tour really at 10am after we'd picked up more people from other resorts, this meant we were also the last ones back to our hotel at 7pm. Also Assos is beautiful but we didn't have a lot of time there at all, about 40 mins it's such a beautiful place I would've liked longer here. I think this was because the coastal road was closed due to an earthquake in February which damaged the road so we had to do a detour through the mountains instead.
 It was a long day but it was an enjoyable, the British guide was very knowledgable and the Greek driver drove expertly around some pretty hairy roads. The coach was comfortable with good air conditioning.

Zante cruise -booked through Thomson 35€ each
This was a 1hr cruise across to Zante (also known as Zakynthos) to the shipwreck beach, then to the blue caves for a swim stop then cruise around to Alykanas where we spent 2hrs before heading back to Kefalonia for another swim stop before heading back to Skala beach.
I had wanted to go to the shipwreck beach ever since I had first seen a picture of it years ago so this was a must, unfortunately I sometimes suffer from seasickness and this was no exception I was ok for about 20 mins then but then spent the rest of the time in the loos! By the time we got to the shipwreck beach I was just glad to be on dry land, so I didn't really make the most of the time here, it's a stunningly beautiful place, I have never seen sea as blue as here I wouldn't have missed it for the world I just wish there was another way to get there! The blue caves were equally impressive but because of feeling ill we didn't do the swim stop. Alykanas was really lovely, it had a sandy beach it was ideal for taking a dip because it was quite shallow until quite far out. Despite our illness it was a nice day and the way back on the boat was much better, even so we didn't do the final swim stop either which was a shame, but I just still didn't feel up to it. 

I would like to go back to Kefalonia one day, but maybe to a different part of the island and we would probably hire a car as the roads were quite quiet and we'd be able to visit more small villages on the island. 

Thank you for reading, 
Abigail x

Monday, 30 June 2014

Wild camp

It was Matthew's birthday on 22nd June and he wanted to do a wild camp. He had done it before in May last year with his friend but they had done a rather adventurous one , wild camping beside red tarn then walking complete with huge rucksacks over striding edge ( a scrambling path with sheer drops either side) up to Hellvelyn . To make matters worse it was raining and misty and looked terribly dangerous. I said I would do a wild camp with him but I needed something a little more sedate! I also made it clear that I would only go if it was good weather! 

It's something I really have wanted to do but it also scared me, what if something happened and we were miles away from anywhere or what if someone came and told us off for camping there! So we picked the destination of our wild camp carefully, although neither of us had ever been up to the top of the old man of Coniston we knew it was fairly easy to get to and not too far out of the town for if we did find ourselves in trouble, we also saw on youtube that other people had camped there and what it was like. 

We went on the Saturday 21st which was summer solstice -the longest day of the year and gorgeous weather. We got to Coniston for about 5.30 and set of steadily up to the Old Man, it's a lovely walk there are great views to Lake Coniston below, you walk through a disused slate mine and then eventually get to a low tarn just below the summit, we stopped to fill up our water bottles. Matthew had this nifty bit of kit a filter thar fit on the top of a platypus bottle then as you pour the water through it filters it making the water from rivers, stream, lakes and tarns drinkable. The last bit of the walk was a killer, quite steep with our heavy bags and feeling hungry the only thing that kept me going was knowing that  we had a container full of chilli that I'd made in the morning for our tea.

We got to the summit at about 8 and it was lovely the sun was low in the sky and the views were amazing, we put up our tent facing east so that we could watch the sunrise in the morning, there was already a couple camping on the other side facing the sunset the summit is big enough that neither one of us would be disturbing the other.

We had our tea of chilli con carne and rice which tasted great and filled us up nicely. Max had his tea too, he was behaving really well considering there were sheep roaming about up there too.
After tea we watched the sunset and Matthew used his birthday present, an action camera similar to a GoPro to take a time lapse of the sunset. 

And I have to say it felt magical being up there and watching the sunset and getting in my pyjamas on the top of a mountain, it felt good. I was a convert! We had chocolate and a hot drink and I had a hipflask with Baileys in and Matthew had one with brandy in. It was perfect I even had phone reception so I could post my photos on Instagram! 

We went to bed very content and hoping to get up at about 4 to watch the sunrise. I was woken later by the sound of voices near our tent, loud voices, I assumed they had come to watch the sunrise so I asked Matthew what time it was, but it was only half 2! They walked away and I tried to get back to sleep, I was just about to doze off when they came back, one man in particular was so loud and kept singing and I couldn't get back to sleep so at 4 we got up. But as soon as we got up they left! It was so strange they hadn't even watched the sun come up, it was like they'd just come to annoy us! 
But the sunrise was beautiful and again it felt like such a magical experience.

We had a walk planned for the Sunday which took us along the ridge to another couple of mountains then down to another tarn then back to the path we came up. It was hard going, our bags were very heavy and it was very warm, the paths were also very rocky. We set off at about 8 and only get back to the car at about 12 then went for a drink in Coniston before heading back. 
I would definitely do it again although I wish I'd been able to sleep more and would probably do a shorter walk on the way back. 

Plus it's two more things to tick off my wish list  - Wildcamp ✔️ Watch sunrise✔️

Thanks for reading 

Abigail x

Friday, 30 May 2014

Spring watch in my back garden.

Look what I found in my garden this month...
My mum was helping me tidy my back garden when she noticed this nest in the top of my green recycle bin as she was about to put grass cuttings in. The lid of the bin was propped open slightly from some branches that I'd cut off the trees a few weeks before. I'd seen a robin in the garden picking up bits of moss and twigs from the grass in the garden so I guessed the nest had been by her. A few days later I looked again and there she was...
She had also laid 3 more eggs, I kept watching throughout the week and saw two robins coming and going, about a week later I went to check on them when we were having a bbq and was amazed to see 6 little skinny birds with there beaks open wide!
I continued to watch mummy and daddy robin coming and going with insects and every couple of days I checked on their progress - they changed so quickly , from this...
To this...
To this...
This was the last photo I took last Friday it was looking very cosy and slightly cramped when I went to check on Saturday they had gone.
I must admit to feeling a bit sad when they had gone but I was extremely priviledged to have been able to witness their progress up close. 

Thanks for reading x