Lockdown recommendation: John Rogers on YouTube

We aren’t really in lockdown in the UK any more, (although more local lockdowns do look likely) and I am guessing that many people reading this blog may be getting out and about much more. However, I wanted make this recommendation anyway because I’m not really venturing out very far at the moment. It feels like Corvid – 19 is lurking close by still, and combined with the effort involved in looking after baby magpie, I haven’t been feeling that confident to go out. My guess is that there may be a few people reading this who are in a similar situation.

I have really been enjoying watching videos made by John Rogers on YouTube. What he does is quite simple, but very effective. He takes long walks in and around London, and takes a camera with him. As someone who used to walk a lot before my pregnant and the lock down, I have really enjoyed ‘going’ on those vicarious walks with him. While out walking he talks about different interesting buildings, and the history and culture of different places on his routes. He has a website here and you can visit is YouTube channel here. 

Regular readers of this blog (hello!) will know that I’ve been working on a novel for some time (provisionally called Feeding Jasmine Valentine – watch this space for more info). Some of that novel is set in East London, and I’ve also found his videos to be particularly helpful from a research point of view while I’m not able to get around most of London myself that much. His videos have been helpful reminders of the feel and texture of the place. I particularly like the video above about searching for Leytonstone’s lost lido. It is particularly interesting to me as someone who loves (and misses very much) swimming out doors.

Walking has been one of the things that really helps me think things through, but towards the end of my pregnancy and in the first few months after Baby Magpie’s birth I wasn’t able to get out so much. I am, joyfully, just beginning to build my legs back up now. But I am thinking about trying out something similar here on Magpie at Midnight, except in South London, with a baby and a pram. As we moved into the area quite recently I think that a little walking project may help me get to know the area a bit better, although I doubt very much that I will be able to replicate the richness of the research the John Rogers does at his channel. Still, I’m going to see if I can kit myself up in the next week or so with some appropriate video/ audio equipment an have an experiment with things. Watch this space for more news.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Seen in South London

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In the UK we’ve been in ‘Lock Down’ for about three months. Although technically we could have been going out and about for a walk for an hour a day as part of our ‘daily exercise’, we decided to stay at home while baby magpie was so small, and my section wound was still healing.

Baby Magpie has put on a substantial amount of weight since then, and I am completely healed up. While CORVID-19 has not gone away, cases do seem to be dropping a bit and the risk of getting it appears to be low when you are outside. For these reasons we’ve been going outside a bit recently to a local wildlife park to get a nice walk in a few times a week.

As we moved to the area not long before Baby Magpie was born, there is a lot about the area that I don’t know. Pretty much every time I go for a walk I see something new in my local area, which probably isn’t new at all to people who have lived here a long time, but which I find rather exciting.

The photo below is from the country park that is quite close to our house, and I rather like the idea that there may be some ancient magical creature living there.

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I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Mother’s Day and difficult times

As I write the I’m sitting in bed with the baby asleep on my chest and I’m managing to sip luke warm tea without dripping it on his little white best. I’m not sure what parental skill level that is but I am grateful for being able to do it at all. Yesterday was my first ever Mother’s Day. It feels a bit strange to me, like I can’t quite own that title yet. I’m not sure if that relates to having an IVF pregnancy, or if it’s because the world feels a bit upside down at the moment.

I have been writing a novel over the last year in which one of the main characters goes through a psychological/ physical change which involves becoming more aware of their physical body. When I became pregnant it didn’t occur to me that this experience would help me get under the skin of that character, but having a baby has turned out to be a profoundly physical, almost animal experience.

I was always a bit suspicious of the pastel coloured, sugary depiction of mother hood that seems to predominate in our culture. So far motherhood for me has not been particularly picturesque. I’ve been strongly reminded that however much I may like to live in my head, I’m very much a biological being. I had a cesarian section and have been limited in what I can do as I recover. I’m only just able to lift things again, and still get very tired when I walk for more than half an hour. My body automatically produces milk to sustain my baby, who decides when he wants to feed whether it is convenient or not.

It’s also been a bit difficult to get ‘back to normal’. We have been hibernating as a little family for almost 3 weeks as the coronovius upends normal life outside. We are just getting to the point where we are ready for little trips out if the house, but everything has closed and all of the little social groups and things like that for new parents are on hold. My body begins to look like it did before I was pregnant, but I can’t swim because the pool is closed, or walk far because we are social distancing. It will probably never quite be the same again.

Even against that background I think we are very lucky. We delivered the baby and came home before the hospital was full of people with the virus. Inside my partner makes me tea and does the washing while I cuddle the baby. We are happy and warm together, and have enough food for a few weeks. I have much to be greatful for.

I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

2019: Thinking about Now or Never Times (Part one)

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Lots of people over the last few days have done a kind of ’round up’ of 2019 in which they talk about highlights and low lights. I didn’t actually blog for the majority of 2019, taking an unplanned break due to personal circumstances which I will explain. For that reason I don’t really have a blogging round up to do, but I do have some thoughts about 2019 I’d like to share.

What I did in 2019

In early 2019 I moved house and started my first round of IFV. Those of you who were (probably quite disappointed by now) followers of this blog will know that I had struggled with treatment for infertility for over a year before this. To be honest I did not expect it to work for me, but I was entering the final few years of my 4th decade and was very aware that it was a ‘now or never time’ for something like IVF to work, so we went for it. In May this year we became pregnant on our first go, and we have stayed pregnant. I am now seven months pregnant, my belly is large and I can feel my baby squirming about inside me through out the day, which is pretty amazing. Having managed to get pregnant, my partner and I decided to move closer to my sister, who has also had a baby this year. So we bought a house and moved again just before Christmas. It has been an eventful year.

What I actually did in 2019, instead of blogging

Since becoming pregnant I have experienced quite severe tiredness. I thought that it would be something like anxiety that got me, but actually I have been in a good place, mental health wise, for most of the year. I was also worried that something would go wrong with the pregnancy, but so far we have been very lucky. However, I have been incredibly tired throughout the whole of my pregnancy, and the IVF beforehand. So tired t that most of the year has passed in a daze. I have managed to keep up the day job, and have taken very little time off sick. However I have struggle to keep up the kind of thinking, and creative stuff I was doing, often losing many extra hours a week to napping. I have managed to write quite a chunk of my novel here and there, but it will need significant re-writes at some point. I have also been watching a lot of crime dramas in a kind of mindless daze.

It has left me feeling rather rubbish, because, apart from the amazing feeling of him moving about inside me, I cannot claim to have enjoyed this much wanted pregnancy that a team of scientists and clinicians helped me and my partner to create. I have a number of friends who have not found IFV successful for them, and so I feel very guilty about actually complaining, but let’s say I have not felt myself. Last year I was swimming 5KM swims, and at times this year I have barely made it up the stairs. I’ve not really been able to help my partner much with the logistics of moving house, again, although I was able to unpack a lot of boxes when they arrived. I don’t know if this level tiredness is normal, but I have to say if it is then frankly I don’t know how women with large families do this over and over again. Still, not long to go now, and hopefully it will all be worth it.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing this year: lying about, watching telly, or sleeping.

I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Taking public transport in East London

A few months ago myself and my partner moved from Kent into East London to be closer to work. The plan was to cut down on our commuting time and take that time back for other things. I thought I would spend more time doing arty things, but actually I seem to spend that time having elaborate conversations with the two cats we adopted almost as soon as we got here.

Moving areas means that we have tried out a range of new tube, train and bus routes. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently watching people, and watching the scenery from the top deck of the bus. Londoners have this reputation for coldness on public transport. Never make eye contact, don’t chat. Try to get a seat alone and absolutely don’t surrender it. I think this often reflects my experience of travelling around London in general. However I’ve been taking the bus in East London quite a bit recently and I have notice quite a different pattern. I have noticed many moments of generosity on the bus amongst people who appear to take the same route everyday and who know each other to look at. The father taking his kid to school who sees another parent and offers to chaperone her child too. The young man getting up from his seat for an elderly lady. The people who move about so a young family can sit together.

I think Londoners have a bit of a reputation for coldness, and East London has a bit of a reputation for worse. But if you look for it there is a lot of good stuff happening here too, like those little moments of kindness on the bus to work or school.