NAPPIES

The cloth nappy market is expanding but where do you even start? I hope my post gives you a little clarity and you are able to find a system that works for you.

Want to live a little greener but not sure where to start? Well I was the same… I have started making small changes at home and when out shopping but this pregnancy I have been thinking a lot about how I can go green as a mama and nappies are the big thing I want to change for the next arrival.

DISPOSABLE vs REUSABLE

We were so keen to use reusable for our first babe but with so many ‘new’ things happening as a first time parent, we chose to use disposable nappies and then stuck with them to keep our lives a little more simple (not a good enough excuse really but that’s what we did). Having watched War on Plastic last week with the focus on wet wipes it really made me feel sick – I was so pleased I had already been using Cheeky Wipes – they really are more effective and in my view we should all be using them.

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This time around we are determined to make the change and so I’ve been doing some research into the ‘facts and figures’ and ‘pros and cons’ which I hope you find useful and will perhaps allow you to make a more informed decision. I remember being totally bamboozled – it’s a big market!

SOME FACTS

Babies use, on average around 6 to 12 nappies a day in the first few months, and don’t potty train until at least 18 months old (although this does vary greatly), and sometimes not until they are even older.

Having looked into some costings and figures, reusable nappies do work out cheaper than disposable ones, especially if you use traditional terry nappies rather than the modern, fitted equivalent. You might have to pay more initially but the costs will be lower overall and even more so if you possibly plan to have another baby in the following years.

The Go Real nappy information service estimates that it costs around £80 (based on the cheapest brand of reusable nappies) to kit out your baby with a basic set of reusable nappies, and around £1 a week to wash them. So, even if you use a cheap brand of disposable nappies, you’d spend around £38 for just the first few months. This would really add up by the time your child moves to potty training and big boy/girl underwear.

What I have found out too now is that many councils also offer real-nappy incentives in the form of cash back, free samples or vouchers, giving you the opportunity to try a variety of reusable nappies and different brands for a discounted price or perhaps even free of charge. Here in Dorset I know that the council are offering a £30 voucher to spend on real nappies.

Statistics

Disposable nappies can take 200-500 years to decompose and by the time a child is two, they could have used more than 5,000 nappies.

The most recent report published by the Environment Agency was in 2008. It found that reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies – but only when parents take sensible steps to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and drying them.

CLOTH NAPPY USERS CAN REDUCE THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS BY:

  • Line drying outside whenever possible.
  • Tumble drying as little as possible.
  • When replacing appliances, choosing more energy efficient appliances (A+ rated machines are preferred).
  • Not washing above 60°C.
  • Washing fuller loads.
  • Reusing nappies on other children.

BUYING REUSABLE/REAL NAPPIES

This was a minefield at first. I have spent weeks, maybe even months looking into brands, what sizes I might need, what accessories are essential or luxuries, what the best systems are, how people spend time washing them etc. So I feel now I am able to share what I have bought and will let you know how I get on in time once little one has arrived.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Take a questionnaire – My first piece of advice is to complete The Nappy Lady’s Advice Questionnaire. I found this a really useful way to gauge what I might need and once you have answered the questions she will send you 2 options of reusable nappies that might be suitable with different price points and brands.
  2. Shop around – some websites have offers and other smaller businesses may have different offerings as well as items that may have sold out.
  3. Starter packs might be a cost effective way to get going and then you can get used to what you need and order as you go.
  4. Check your local authority  – Dorset offer £30 towards real nappies and many other counties are offering similar offers too.
  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself – Even if you just use one or two nappies a day you will still be saving a heap of nappies going into landfill! I know how overwhelming being a new parent is and how many new things are happening to baby and your body so its much better to do what you can than putting lots of extra pressure on yourself!

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A couple of websites I have used:

The Nappy Lady – A great source with a large variety of stock and brands plus their great advice questionnaire.

Fill Your Pants – A really great customer service with a selection of brands and accessories and a free nappy guide is also available to order. On the phone to answer questions and lots of information on their website.

The Little Green Bee Co. –  A local small business I used near me in Dorset with such great service.

EXTRAS

LINERS – It is also worth thinking about liners as a way to catch poo and make disposing it easier. They are bio-degradable.

BOOSTERS  – these are important for better absorbency at nights.

STORING DIRTY NAPPIES AND WIPES  – I purchased 2 x large wet bags (one to use and one in the wash). These are a great alternative to nappy buckets as they can go straight into the wash, no smells, no toddlers taking off lids, and no extra plastic purchase. genius.

OUT AND ABOUT – it is also useful to think about how you want to work with your reusable nappies and wipes whilst out for the day. The wet bags are brilliant and there is such a variety on the market today with some being able to hold clean and wet nappies and smaller bags to house your reusable wipes. I purchased a mini bag to hold my wipes and a washable bag that can hold wet and dry nappies and double up for the dirty wipes too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether you are using reusable nappies and which brands you have found to be the best.

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ONE MAMA’S BUMP DIARY (weeks 23-25)

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The bump is big. Yes, yes it is… I am growing a human.

My inner critic has been harassing me a little this week, despite the fact that I am not enormous or about to keel over with obesity but we all have these moments of self-doubt, (don’t we?) and for some reason mine was this week. I’ve not been eating as well as I should have. I’ve had far too many cravings for ludicrous coloured ice creams dipped with hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands and I’ve been eating a LOT of chocolate not to mention drinking a gallon of ribena each day! so all in all I think we can safely say “Mama’s got a sweet tooth!”

Aside from that, I also haven’t been sleeping that well as I can’t seem to get comfy now I’m that little bigger and feeling rather more cumbersome. I’m a little snappy with my husband and have already started to feel a little bit like I am nesting. He is well accustomed to it now it’s round too but I still feel bad. Hope he knows it’s the hormones and not actually ‘me’. I think he does (fingers crossed).

But it has been a good week for self-loving though and this is what we are going to talk about in my “Glow with the Flow” session this week.

Here are my self love activities that I can tick off:

SELF-LOVE

  • given myself about 4 facials in a fortnight. Cleanse, tone and moisturise. I use a bamboo flannel and take 10 minutes to really relax and treat myself.
  • gone to the woods. Freddie and I go pretty much every Friday. He loves it, I love it and being outside in nature does wonders for the soul – fact.
  • looked though old photos of Freddie and reminded myself how far I’ve come as his mama and what I’ve learned along the way.
  • taken a load of naps  – the best being yesterday’s 2 and a half hour one and I still managed bed at normal time! Thank you my man!
  • had a coffee with fellow mama. So good to be able to share this world of motherhood
  • read my book (this is such a rarity but o so good for the soul!)
  • chatted on the phone to bestest friends – nothing better.
  • went swimming in my PJs  – not quite as liberating as skinny dipping but fun all the same!
  • did yoga and balanced with the best of them – gave myself the kudos!
  • cooked, baked, sewed made smoothies and scrapbooked!
  • My little one and I have also crafted together but will be writing about that in a separate post soon. ( Easter crafts)

I hope this inspires you to do a little of all the things you love and see how much better you feel in mind and body.

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ONE MAMA’S BUMP DIARY

An honest insight into my pregnancy journey second time round… sharing my experiences, thoughts and happenings in week 22 of growing my seedling of society.

BENDY ANKLES AND BASHED ELBOWS

Hey ladies,

So here it is….the first installment of my “One Mama’s Pregnancy Diary” for baby number 2 due at the end of June. I wish I started logging this all sooner but I didn’t so we’ll just have to pick up here halfway in with a little look back to the first part of baby growing.

The idea just came to me having spotted something on ‘the Gram’ and whilst in the shower the other morning I suddenly thought…hang on a sec – why not document this journey into motherhood take 2 and share with other mamas-to-be. I hope it kinda acts as a friend along the way and reminds you that you are not alone in all things pregnancy, birth and babies and that we are all in it together.

Obviously, these are just my experiences, thoughts and feelings so would love to hear your take on things and thoughts too.

FIRST TRIMESTER

This time round I was a lot more sick. I mean like pop the tot in the highchair and race to the bathroom each morning sick, which was no fun let me tell you. But hey ho it was what it was and thankfully I am out the other side and since my 12 week scan I’ve started to feel a lot more normal. It took a while though. I know I am lucky to have only just experienced a few weeks of it whilst others really do suffer greatly through their pregnancy so feeling grateful about that.

I also popped waaaay earlier than last time and I had to get out the maternity collection very quickly out the loft as things were a little uncomfortable pretty early on. I say “I” but really it was my husband. Our bodies are amazing and it was like mine shifted into baby making gear and stepped on the accelerator. I’m 22 weeks now but feel and look about 28 weeks!

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Women are amazing.

SECOND TRIMESTER

WEEK 22

BODY

So here we are 22 weeks in and I have suddenly gone all clumsy. I’ve dropped glasses, spilled food, tripped over shoes and banged my elbow on a door frame. I am not clumsy by nature so this lack of spatial awareness is causing a little frustration in my day to day life. Anyone else experienced or experiencing something similar? I am hoping my yoga classes will help with this though. By focusing on balances and breathing I hope to get a grip on this wobbliness but if not  – o well I’ll just go with it! Another thing I’ve noticed is that my ligaments are loosening. I learnt about this the first time round. Your body prepares your body for birth by loosening our tendons and ligaments allowing for more freedom of movement and flexibility but when you are not expecting it, it can be rather shocking to hear your hip joint in surround sound and see your ankles gain 360 degree swivel space!

ALL THE FEELS

Seeing baby on the screen at 20 weeks was amazing and gorgeous. We weren’t allowed to bring Freddie so left him with a babysitter for a couple of hours so DaDa could meet baby number 2 too. The sonographer was amazing and very thorough in all her checks. She said the heart was a textbook viewing and she wished she had her student with her to show her – good work little one!

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It is definitely true what they say that in the second trimester you do get a burst of energy and I have certainly felt that! I’m feeling a lot less tired this week having walked 60KM around Rome last week in 3 days!  ha but I think the thing that is keeping me going with my little tot is my gorgeous afternoon nap! A total saviour and so necessary to remain calm and human. So I would totally recommend all pregnant ladies to rest when they can. Easier  said than done  – I appreciate that but the amount of energy your little seedling is sapping from you means you need to recuperate more so than you think so that’s this week’s optional homework: see if you can take an afternoon nap for 20 mins each day. Let me know how you get on.

CRAVINGS

I’ve been eating a lot of S***. Can’t help it  – I’m attracted to the sugary delights of chocolate puddings and mainly doughnuts. O…and chips! Anyone else ever made an emergency craving stop off at McDonalds?! Shameful I know but needs must when growing life! I am trying to be better by drinking fruit juices, taking my vitamins, eating lots of veg in the evening and having a lighter lunch but who am I kidding? Sometimes we just need a fix. I hope I am not alone in this!

It always start so well with the best intentions but sometimes we just have to listen to our bodies.

DOWNTIME

Having started “Glow with the Flow” sessions I have really enjoyed putting some poses to paper and then bring them to the mat to share with other mamas-to-be and I am feeling really good about it all. We seem to have created a lovely group so that has been a highlight. The other highlight has been watching “Workin’ Mums” on NetFlix which has had me laughing and crying. It is a snap shot into many different women’s lives post babies and the honesty and rawness is getting to me on many levels. Life does change and we have to try and accept that and embrace it if we can despite the reality being much harder than we might think.

TODDLER TIME

freddie and baby

This week my little tot and I have been having lots of fun hanging out. We went to the beach, enjoyed the sunshine, been swimming,  seen multiple diggers and tractors (his favourite 2 things at the minute) as well as playtime in the woods, building towers and even looking around nurseries.  Going to elaborate in more detail about those trips in a separate post I think.

What have you been up to?

Lulworth

Thank you so much for reading this far and I’ll check in next week with the next entry. Please find me on Instagram @onemamaskingdom. I love connecting with new people so would love to hear from you.

I hope you have a great weekend

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New Year, New Ideas

This year, a clear vision, a personal plan and a strong intention, will give you a tremendous sense of confidence and empowerment…

What’s your new year’s resolution?…

O the pressure.

My sister-in-law posed this question to me over our new year’s eve dinner and I smiled, whilst silently berating myself for not having a better answer prepared. I haven’t actually decided yet, I meekly responded but deep down I wanted to shout out…

UMMM…WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO THINK ABOUT THE NEW YEAR AND MY PLANS WHEN I AM CONSTANTLY THINKING ABOUT THE HERE AND NOW AND EVERYONE ELSE?

So,  that there was my moment of clarity. If I can’t give myself time to think about my goals and where I want to be, then something is amiss and I’m not being me. I’m someone who likes to have a vision, a reason and often a plan. That’s who I am. I know things don’t always go the way you want (something I am trying to teach my toddler) and circumstances change through no fault of your own and you have to be flexible and make changes but it’s not an excuse to not have something to focus on.

Last year I made myself a vision board after an old friend and yoga teacher suggested it to me and I was amazed by how much it worked for me. I enjoyed creating something tangible that I could bring out and look at. This year I thought – yes and I gave myself a morning, whilst my tot napped, got my scissors, glue stick and magazines out on the table and let my creativity flow. I picked out images that spoke to me, that linked to the things I wanted to change in my life and do differently this year and this was the end result. I hope some of these resolutions resonate with you and you start this year with a spring in your step. Please feel free to get in touch @onemamaskingdom on Instagram I’d love to see yours!

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GO GREEN – I brought my husband the book “No. More. Plastic” by Martin Dorey for Christmas and as a family we are really trying hard to cut back on our plastic usage.

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We are now shopping more at Cariad in Blandford where you can fill up your own containers with staples such as rice, cereal, pasta without using any plastic.

cariad

We are cutting down our meat intake from the supermarket but splashing out on quality cuts from the butchers and taking our own bags with us to take our shopping home and we have already purchased a Cheeky Wipes  starter kit so we never to have to use a wet wipe again.

GET ORGANISED  – I stumbled across this amazing series on Netflix this week called “Tidying with Marie Kondo” and it has been an absolute game changer. Her philosophy is to “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

A while ago, a  friend had raved about her book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising’ and said how great it was but my goodness the woman is a dream. I watched the whole series in about 3 days and was lapping up her tips like a cat drinking cream. If you can, watch it. I truly believe it will help you kick start the year with a pre-spring spring clean and not only order your house but give you the space to take ownership of your space and keep on top of the tidying without the stress. Seriously, her process is magic and my goodness I feel so much better for it. It feels like a weight I never knew was there has been lifted and to walk into the kitchen is a dream each morning! Let’s hope I can keep this up.

Here is the  trailer for you to watch.

BE YOU – For me this is so important. When I became a mother I truly thought I might lose my identity and not be able to keep doing the things I love. Infact, it was one of the catalysts that led me to start writing my blog. The art of writing made me see the importance of doing something that was solely for me, as Aimee not as Mama, wife, or teacher but for me and only me. Over Christmas my mother shared with me a Japanese concept called Ikigai that translates as a ‘reason for being’. A reason to enjoy life. One article I read suggested thinking about your perfect Saturday and what you would do if you could do whatever you wanted. This is being you.

ikigaiBeing me varies from month to month; sometimes it might just be a long hot bath with no interruptions, a trip to the supermarket with no company, a night at the movies or dinner with my girlfriends. I might choose to craft one day, write my blog or get my hair done. An hour to practice yoga, work on my blog or read.

This year I want to remember to take care of me.

What would you do on you perfect Saturday?

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and year full of love and light.

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Ice Ice MILK Baby!

Get yourself down to Pamphill Farm shop and visit the milk vending machine. It’s tastes amazing AND you will feel good by reducing your plastic waste! WIN WIN

ladies cows

Today Freddie and I took a drive to Pamphill, Wimborne after a friend of mine mentioned yesterday that there is a milk vending machine there, and not just any old milk….cold, fresh and free range milk. I was intrigued. A milk drive through… Perfect! The little man is moving onto cows’ milk and what better possible introduction than with milk from local cows (that we can actually see in the field) and from a traditional family farm in the heart of Dorset.

The milk is produced in the Allen Valley surrounding Wimborne and Pamphill and the farm is based on the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy estate. The free ranging Friesian herd graze on lush pastures surrounding the farm for as many months of the year as possible and all calves are reared by the family themselves as well as feed for the cattle being grown on the farm too.

What made today even better, not just the fact that the milk tasted AMAZING but the fact that when we arrived the farmer himself was there too! So we had a first hand demonstration on how to use the machine and it was easy peasy!

  1. Make sure you have at least two pound coins with you as the machine only takes pound coins.
  2. Put the first £1 into the slot on the left. Press the button above and the bottle will be dispensed with lid attached. Do not despair though,there are extra lids available in a tub on the top of the machine.
  3. Open the door and place the bottle at a slight angle underneath the dispenser
  4. Put in your pound coin on the right and then press the start button and watch the creamiest milk ever flow into your bottle.
  5. The machine will automatically stop when bottle is full.

And that is it!

The vending machine is open 24 hours a day so there is no excuse to ever run out of milk plus with reusable glass bottles available from the vending machine as well, you will always be able to take your milk home.

This is a great way to avoid using plastic and to really help the environment plus great to know we are helping the community too.

Allen Valley Milk is certainly a hit in our household and I am sure I am not the only one!

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mmmmooo

A Positive Birth Story

A positive birth story full of truth, drama and magic.

 

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It was my first pregnancy and I was too scared to plan a home birth for my first one. I didn’t know what to expect and it being my first time I was frightened. I’m not a lover of hospitals and so we opted for a middle ground and booked us into the midwife led birthing Centre. I felt happy I could use the birthing pool as I had always envisaged a water birth and having looked around it felt like a home away from home.

2017, it was a hot August and I felt huge, could barely see my toes and  I had been working right up until 38 weeks as a primary school teacher and I was tired, slow and ready for baby. Despite the uncomfortableness I felt awash with love and excitement about meeting this little babe that I had grown inside me for 9 months and I like to think I was “glowing”.  I had the most amazing class of children and I felt so lucky that I could share my pregnancy with them as they watched me grow; to see how my body changed, stretched and nurtured this precious being inside me. It was such a treat for them to witness nature and new life first hand.

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On the morning of 11th August I thought my waters had broken. I couldn’t be sure as it was not a huge amount of fluid, so we went to the birthing centre, just incase,  to be checked over. Nothing was conclusive but I was told,  if I didn’t go into labour that night then I would need to contact the hospital to check my waters and to ensure the baby was ok. Change of plan number 1. I was not allowed to go to the irthing centre anymore as if my waters had broken there could have been risk of infection. This was the first metal test to now being to visualise myself in hospital.  The next morning we went for a walk to see if that would get things moving. Broadwater Warren was laced with purple heather and it was beautiful, Tom and I discussed baby names, took in the views and enjoyed our few hours of being ‘just us’, before I got far too sweaty and could barely walk another few steps without waddling!

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The morning of Freddie’s birth

We went to the hospital that afternoon and baby was monitored, my waters had definitely broken and so we were given until the following morning to go into labour. Change of plan number 2.  I would not be allowed a water birth now, as my waters had broken. All fine with baby and the midwives said that if baby didn’t come that night then we were going to be booked in for an induction the next day.  Change of plan number 3. If I’m totally honest I didn’t want to go for an induction. I had had a near perfect pregnancy, very organic and natural and I just didn’t want to be in hospital. Next test I faced was to really begin to imagine me being in hospital and getting my head around that with the used of labour inducing hormones.

But… that night on the way home we stopped off for pizza. On the way back home I did feel a couple of twinges but nothing serious. It felt a little like a period pain but nothing to rave about but we did get a little excited. We ate,  I bounced on the ball, we played cards and called my mom to let her know what the plan was for the morning. I would call first thing when I knew the time I was given for an induction so she had enough time to get over from France on the shuttle.  I reread my affirmations and focussed on my breathing and we decided to download an app to monitor contractions. According to the app, things were ramping up fast and we were instructed to pack the hospital bag and get the car seat ready. We laughed it off.  I went to have a bath with a couple of drops of clary sage and Tom made me a cup of tea. We carried on playing cards but I felt the contractions getting stronger and so went upstairs again but can’t remember what for.

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From that point on it gets pretty hazy. I threw myself onto the pillows on the bed  (I think because it meant I was in the dark) and breathed through the contractions whilst simultaneously trying to use the app! Tom rang the midwives who told me to take paracetamol… I told Tom very  clearly and probably quite aggressively that I did not want paracetamol…. I may have even screamed it! I took the paracetamol.

I faintly remember Tom telling me he was packing up the car and it between the next contraction I was to make my way downstairs. I did as I was told but as I made it to the bottom step I knew the baby was coming as I could feel him between my legs….at that point I was wrestling with fear and trying to remember all the skills and techniques I had been through on my hypnobirthing course.

Tom tells me he had 2 phones on the go, one to the midvives and the other on the line to 999. He was washing his hands and getting the towels. My hero.

Change of plan number 4 – a home delivery.

I remember being scared because I didn’t know “how to be”, which pose to be in, on my all fours or standing up. This was for me the hardest thing. I tried to listen to my body but we were on our own and the baby was coming so it felt frightening but as soon as someone arrived I remember feeling better; someone to take control of the situation. I was debating having gas and air at one stage until Tom said yes I should definitely use it. Crazy I know, but I didn’t feel like I was in pain. To me, the sensation felt like the biggest ball of energy circling in my pelvis. I carried on breathing and needed total silence to focus on each surge. so much for the calming music and fairy lights I had prepared!

It is hard to recall the timings of that evening but I do remember how it felt. The room was filled with 7 strangers ( 2 ambulance crews and a midwife, who arrived 10 minutes before our boy was born) and in our living room, a shooting star – my beautiful baby boy was born safely and with control under a Perseid meteor shower at 00:31 on 13th August 2017.

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My Hero

So despite not going to plan, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

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Team photo in the front room with the worst lighting EVER!

 

We both went to hospital to be checked over and to have a little TLC down below (with proper lighting!) and my mom was there waiting at home to welcome us and basically look after us for the next week! (see ‘The Day I became a mother…” blog post)

I hope by sharing this honest account of my labour, it will give you the confidence and strength to know that you can do it and that your body knows exactly what to do, as does your baby in this amazing miracle we call child birth. It is sheer magic and Mother Nature’s greatest work so don’t fear it  –  we were made for this!

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MY BIRTHING TOP TIPS

AFFIRMATIONS– tell yourself daily in the mirror how much you respect your body, how much you trust it and visualise how this baby is going to come into the world.

REST –  listen to your body and take the time you need to save up all your energy.

DRINK –  lots of water – it is the best medicine there is!

READ  -I found reading really gave me lots of knowledge and in turn power. Obviously not everything will match your beliefs or your philosophy but it really gave me confidence knowing that others had been through the same and had experience.

My best reads were:

How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out by Clemmie Hooper

Why love matters:  How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

What to expect when you are expecting by Heidi Murkoff (more of a dip in and out)

BREATHE – practice practice practice. If you already practise yoga then you will know just how important the breath is to your bodies movement and your mind’s clarity. It served me so well and I would encourage all pregnant ladies to try and master their own breath and see the benefits and how it can empower you when you need it most.

Sending you all so much love and courage

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It’s worth every second!

Wood fair fun!

An enchanting country fair exposing a creative and skillful country life.

Sunday 20th May, a beautiful day to be out and about in the countryside and attending my first wood fair up at the Living Classroom where we go to Bush Babies. It was put on by the Dorset Coppice Group who are working hard to promote their love of the woodland, share their skills and passions as well as their services. The Coppice group’s aims are:

  • to promote the coppice industry and its products to the public
  •  provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between members
  •  form a bridge between coppice workers, landowners and other relevant agencies
  •  provide an educational resource for schools and other groups to encourage outdoor learning in The Living Classroom 

And they also provide courses throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill, working with wood or who would like to know more about the preservation of craftsmanship.

We arrived early and wandered around the lovely stalls of handmade wooden crafts; from toadstools, bowls, walking sticks, coat hooks and even magic wands made from wood that had been constricted by wild honeysuckle. I certainly learnt a few tricks or two. There were birds of prey perched in the shade and a beautiful working horse demonstrating his use for coppicing. What a treat.

 

 

My highlight though was being front row watching a sparring competition and as a new member of the country community it felt like an initiation! I had no idea what a spar even was before I sat down. But that was all about to change ….

The thatchers taking part in the competition take 28 inch long straight hazel sticks, known as gads which have been cut from the coppice at Bonsley Wood, during the winter time when the sap is low. This allows them to be strong enough to use on the ridging (the top part of the roof to you and I). To make the spar each gad is riven in half by splitting the wood in-between any knots, split down the middle following the natural grain of the wood. They can be split multiple times (fours, sixes, eights) and usually the more times it can be split the more skilled the spar maker. The points at each end are then created using an exceptionally sharp spar hook.

They are then bundled up with a colour tie and can be sold by the thousands to working thatchers.

The thatcher uses spars by double twisting them to form a U shaped peg as Rod Miller described for me “like a hair pin with a smooth edging which will allow the water to roll of it on the roof.” They have to be skilfully twisted, not just bent in half in order to work effectively.

The competition was to see how many spars the thatchers could make in 15 minutes. It was tense. Blazing sunshine in the middle of the day was probably not the best environment for the thatchers but they stepped up to the challenge and stayed professional to the end, each perched on their stool or chair with hooks, thigh pads at the ready. Many different techniques were used to split the hazel, each competitor using their own long standing knowledge of how to work the hazel and their tools.

The winner was Rod Miller, founder of R.V Miller Ltd who very kindly shared his knowledge with me to enable me to write this post. He is Dorset thatcher and member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. His business celebrated 50 years in 2016 and it seemed to me what he doesn’t know about thatching, you don’t need to know!

It felt like such a privilege to be witnessing first-hand something I was so ignorant about. To learn from experts and locals who had travelled from all around to be apart of this local woodland fair was a joy and an absolute pleasure. It has certainly made me want to look more closely at thatched roof houses.

To be apart of something where skilled craftsmen are demonstrating and sharing their love for their livelihoods with the local people is fantastic. We need these trades to preserve our history so the more we know, the more we can hope to understand and try to make a difference. Weirdly, a part of me wants to make my own spar and I have kept one that Rod twisted for me as a momento! I’ve been inspired!

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wood fair 2018