Monday, 30 September 2013

Viking Invasion

This weekend we were invaded by Vikings.

I noticed some signs down town a couple of weeks ago announcing that there would be an invasion on the 28th of September. Vikings, or Norse invaders/traders/settlers, played a huge part in shaping this part of Scotland, if you ever go to Largs it's well worth a trip to Vikingar to learn more about what happened all those years ago.

It's now been 750 years since the Vikings showed up in this area, hence the big display.

We'd been planning on heading down town at some point during the day to see what was going on, then came the phone call to ask if we could attend as First Aiders. At the time I couldn't help but think that this was a bit of bad luck because it meant I'd be giving up the Saturday that my OU course started and I was hoping to use some of the day to get well and truly stuck in. As it turned out, I couldn't have had a more enjoyable day (and I'm already a week ahead of the course materials so I could spare a little bit of time).

The invasion began with a Viking Longboat landing on the beach in town, which was followed by a procession of Vikings up to the Castle. I was one of the First Aiders on patrol at this time and I'd never seen so many people in town. It was crazy! At first we just saw odd groups of people wandering along to the front, then we climbed up a slope overlooking the promenade and there was just a sea of people as far as you could see.

Once the procession passed we joined the general throng of people and slowly made our way back up to the Castle. It was very slow going and I wasn't expecting everyone to fit into the Castle. In the end we managed to make it back to our First Aid tent where I spent the better part of the afternoon.

The view outside the tent
We'd seen these Vikings in Largs a few years ago; they were all in authentic dress and were cooking, demonstrating crafts, mock fighting. There were things going on with the kids from the local schools where they were doing battle with the Vikings, all within the grounds of the Castle.

I had to leave a little bit early to head back to my in-laws' where we'd left Tara. I walked her and hung out there for a while until it was time to go back on duty for the evening event, then it was back down town again.

By this time it was getting dark and at 7:30pm there was a procession down to the front. The Vikings led the way carrying flaming torches, followed close behind by the kids from the schools in their Viking costumes. Us First Aiders tagged along at the end and made our way behind, hoping that no one had any nasty torch accidents; they all made it back safely.

There was a hog roast on the front (the queue was about forty-five minutes long!) and then a big firework display. And again there were more people than I've ever seen out on the island in one go!

I'm really glad that I was able to go as a First Aider because had I just gone with Mr Click we probably would've stayed for the early part of the afternoon, watched the first procession and seen the things at the Castle and then gone home. Because we've not got kids we would've missed lots of the stuff at the Castle and we wouldn't have gone to the firework display if we'd had the dog with us (luckily she was looked after by Grandma and Granddad and wasn't too disturbed by the flashes and bangs).

I would've liked to have taken my camera and taken lots of photos, but other than that I really, really enjoyed myself and I think it must have been a very good day for lots of the businesses down town as well.

Plus we got Chinese takeaway on the way home which is enough to make any Saturday perfect!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Project 52: Week 38 - Upside Down & Week 39 - Motoring

As I mentioned last week, I'd intended to use my silly Upside Down Dog for my photo of the week for the theme Upside Down, but she stubbornly refused to cooperate for the whole week. With the exception of one moment on the Saturday I don't think I saw her particularly wrong-side up at all. So I had to resort to desperate measures.

I posted a filler blog post to explain the lack of photo post last week and kept on waiting for Tara to hop up onto one of the armchairs at my in-laws' and then I knew I could get a photo to post this week. By bedtime I knew I was going to have to go with a Plan B, except I didn't actually have one. So I forgot to take a picture until the very last minute when I snapped the one below.

Week 38: Upside Down
See, that's Mr Click's feet on his pillow... because he's upside down on the bed... geddit?

Yeah, like I said, I was desperate.

For this week's theme of Motoring I had a much better idea of what I wanted to photograph. I knew it was going to be a car, and although I would've loved to have played around with photos of car headlights in the dark or motion blur where we live doesn't really afford much of a chance of those kinds of photos (unless I'd send Mr Click out to make several circuits of the estate and tried to catch a decent photo as he passed).

So I used our car and focused on (what is to a layman like myself) a fairly important part of the car.

Week 39: Motoring
I'm quite pleased with how this photo turned out, considering how basic it is and what I quick job I made of it (dodging out first thing this morning and kneeling in the car park to snap a photo of our car's wheel).

I wanted it to look sort of cold and metallic, because that's what I think of when I think of cars. It helps that our car is silver, the gravel is grey and the wall in the background is white. It all combined to make the photo feel quite hard. I fiddled around with the contrast, highlights and shadows to emphasise that, then adjusted the tone and saturation down a little bit. The yellow and orange leaves on the right are a bit distracting, if I'd noticed them I'd have tidied them up before I started snapping, the trees on the estate have decided it's autumn now and it's impossible to avoid them.

I like that the wheel is turned slightly because it meant I could focus on that, rather than on the edges of the wheel arch. I also cropped it slightly closer than I might normally do, just to see what it looked like, and I think I like it.

Next week's theme is Lines and I've not got any ideas for that at the moment. Hopefully something will come to me in the next few days.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Film Review: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

One New Year’s Eve a few years ago there' wasn’t much on TV in the run up to Jules Holland’s Hootenanny so we ended up watching a couple of films instead. One of which was the original The Italian Job, the other was the most recent version of Alice in Wonderland. We enjoyed the latter of these two films so much that we rewatched it again a few days later, and when we went on our HMV shopping spree in Glasgow it was one of the films that we picked up.

I think that this version of Alice in Wonderland kind of goes hand in hand with Oz The Great And Powerful. They’ve got the same sort of fantastic visuals and quirky characters, so having watched Oz, it seemed fitting that we should watch Alice in Wonderland as well.

Whereas Oz is a prequel to the famous film, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is kind of a sequel to the existing Disney cartoon. This version sees Alice all grown-up and being proposed to in what is believed to be an ideal match (i.e. one which will give the family a bit of money). Alice isn’t at all happy with this arrangement and follows a white rabbit down a hole, winding up in ‘Underland’. It turns out that she’s been here before as a child, believing she had been visiting ‘Wonderland’.

It’s been foretold that an Alice will come to Underland to save them from the Red Queen, though when Alice shows up it’s not entirely clear whether she is the right Alice. Along the way we’re introduced to the Mad Hatter and the White Queen along with a host of other familiar characters from the book, as they prepare to do battle with the Jabberwocky and wait to see whether Alice will be the one who can defeat it as was foretold.

Being a Tim Burton film you can kind of count on a few things. Helena Bonham-Carter crops up (as the Red Queen), as does Johnny Depp (the Mad Hatter), there’s also black and white stripes and curly trees. I’m a bit of a Tim Burton fan and I like knowing that I can rely on these familiar things. It also features newcomer (at the time) Mia Wasikowsi as Alice. There’s something about her that kind of reminds me of my cousin, which I find slightly distracting, but as now everyone will see a similarity between Alice and their cousin I doubt this is as distracting to anyone else.

I know that some people don’t like the meddling with the plot that Burton did. Basically he wasn’t satisfied that in all other adaptations Alice just seems to go from one bizarre event to another (despite this kind of being the point of the story), so he wanted to give it more of a backstory and a reason for the characters doing what they do. I’m all for keeping adaptations true to the source material, but I also don’t have any problem with keeping the book and the film separate from each other and appreciating them both in their own ways.

To look at the posters for the movie you’d think it was a film about the Mad Hatter (who does have an important role in the film, but it is pretty much all about Alice as should be expected). He kind of channels Captain Jack Sparrow being somewhat insane. Whereas Jack Sparrow’s behaviour is probably caused by syphilis, the Mad Hatter is probably suffering the effects of mercury poisoning as a result of the materials he would’ve worked with while making hats. They seem to have taken this to heart by giving him actual traits of people suffering from mercury poisoning, not to mention one pupil is slightly more dilated than the other which suggests that maybe he’s been bopped on the head.

Anne Hathaway plays the White Queen and apparently her performance is influenced by Nigella Lawson. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham-Carter’s Red Queen seems to be channelling Queenie from Blackadder. She has temper tantrums, wants to behead anyone who annoys her and behaves in general like a small child, then there’s the hair as well. You can’t help but see the parallels.

Quite a few of the characters are CG; the likes of the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar and the Jabberwocky are all voiced by familiar voices (Michael Sheen, Barbara Windsor, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman and Christopher Lee, respectively). It’s kind of fun picking them all out.

I really enjoyed watching this, and I’ll definitely watch it again now we have it on blu-ray. Plus it inspired me to reread Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which then got a mention in one of my course books, so I think that kind of counts towards study hours!

Friday, 27 September 2013

It's Nearly NaNo Time!

It's heading into that time of year again, National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. The aim of which is to spend the thirty days of November writing your socks off to produce a 50,000 word novel.
It's crazy but so much fun.

There's something about getting my box of goodies from the OU that puts me in the frame of mind for starting my NaNo preparations. I suppose it's because until that point I have all the time in the world to be thinking about planning my NaNo so obviously I can't be bothered, the minute I have to think about doing something else my procrastination gene kicks in and I'm ready to do anything but the thing I should be doing.

Why get down to studying and reading set texts when you could be planning fantastic stories and making new friends on the forums?

This year I've got the germ of a story which I'm trying into tease into something substantial. It's actually a story that came to me one day when I was walking with Mr Click and Tara. I've been kind of playing with it ever since but held off writing it because I thought it might make a good NaNovel.

So far things are a little bit fuzzy but I've decided it's going to be a Children's/Young Adult story which is heavily based on Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet. The setting will probably be the island where I live because, y'know, write what you know. The characters will be aged around twelve and it'll take place during the school summer holidays.

I know that the main character will be a bit of an outcast named Sean Watson who lives in books and is generally uncool. The story begins when Charlotte Holmes moves in next door. She's the complete opposite of Sean, totally zany and brimming with confidence. She's always involved in some sort of 'play' or fantasy so when Sean points out the similarity in their names Charlotte decides to become a detective.

Somewhere along the way the story will follow along bits of A Study in Scarlet, depending on which ones suit my story. I'm hoping it'll be something a little like Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer and Terry Pratchett's Johnny series of books.

I wish I could be a 'pantser' during NaNo but unfortunately I just can't do it, I have to plan. The first thing I need to figure out exactly what is going to happen in this story!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Day Zero Project: Grow Strawberries

This is my third of my garden related challenges for the Day Zero Project, though I'm yet to actually get it started.

My father-in-law is really the expert at growing fruits and veg. He's recently turned a big chunk of the garden over to an allotment with marrows, beans, tomatoes and potatoes (among other things). So when I do finally get my act together he'll probably be the first person I speak to to make sure I continue to not kill my plants (he helped to save the fir trees when they started going brown shortly after we got them).

Another reason for my delay in starting to grow strawberries (aside from not being ready to start at the right time of year) is purely aesthetic. I want to get a pretty container to grow them in.

There's a garden centre on the mainland that does a strawberry planter that looks like a tree stump. It looks cute and that would be ideal for my garden.

At some point I will buy the perfect planter and then I can go ahead and start trying to not kill some nice juicy strawberries.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

And So It Begins - EA300

The course website for my latest OU course opened last Wednesday so I've been spending my down time getting caught up with things on the forum.

Whenever I start a new OU course I like to try and give myself a head start by digging into the course books as soon as they arrive. It usually means that I can start thinking about my first TMA a couple of weeks before it's actually due because once I've submitted a TMA I invariably give myself a week off which means by the second one I'm in danger of falling behind. The Christmas and Easter breaks help me to get caught up again as well. Coming into my final course for this degree I know how I work best and I've learnt these little tricks to help me stay on top of things.

This will be my second literature course, this time focusing on children's literature. I feel like I'm at a slight advantage with this course compared to last year in that I've actually read several of the books covered in it. Even better for my wallet, I already own some of them as well!

I've only just touched the surface of the first chapter of the course but it's already prompted me to read some children's books that I've either not read for a long time or haven't thought about really reading before. I've read The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll recently, both of which have been mentioned in the course materials though neither of which are required reading or studied in the course.

I have to admit that I love children's books and its great to have an excuse to go back and revisit some of these books as well as to find new books I never considered reading before. It's also making me really pleased that I kept hold of so many of my favourite childhood books because I'm sure they'll come in handy too.

The first books to be studied are Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Both of which I've read before, in fact it's come at just the right time for my reread of the Harry Potter series. I'm just hoping I can put aside my immense love and geekery to look at the book objectively.

And no matter how this course goes, there's no exam at the end of it so providing I don't completely cock up my essays I'll be able to graduate after this.

Then I can register to study Latin and maybe pick a few other courses so I can get an Open Degree while I plan how I'm going to go about getting my Masters.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book 36 of 2013: The Shop on Blossom Street

A few years ago my Mum-in-Law leant me a couple of books which she thought might appeal to me. She had promised a friend that she could borrow them but knew I could read them quickly so let me have them for a week before they needed to be sent away. The first of these was set in a little cafe someplace and was your standard sort of chicklit tale; I don’t remember much about it aside from the fact that at the very end of the book was a recipe for one of the cakes sold in the cafe.

The second book was The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber; my Mum-in-Law thought it would appeal to me because it’s set in a wool shop and at the time I was just starting to get into knitting. I read the first few chapters but struggled to get into it and decided to give it back so it could be sent away to my Mum-in-Law’s friend.

And then back in June, as I was getting completely sucked into my knitting obsession, I mentioned that when I tried searching for knitting books on the library system it kept on giving chicklit books featuring knitting, rather than pattern books (which was what I was actually looking for). I mentioned one name that kept on showing up – Debbie Macomber and my Mum-in-Law announced that she had one of her books. So I borrowed it to give it another try and this time really enjoyed it.

The story is told from four different perspectives; Lydia who owns the shop narrates her chapters in a first-person point-of-view; the other three chapters follow Carol, Jacqueline and Alix and are told from a third-person point-of-view. I remembered that this was what threw me out of the story the first time I tried reading it because I just didn’t get on with the switching POVs. This time I adapted to it much better and after the initial switch I got into it much easier.

Lydia has survived brain cancer twice and as a result doesn’t believe in love, she’s decided that if the cancer comes back a third time she won’t fight it and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else by her decision. Her one refuge when she was sick was knitting because even when she was too ill to do more than a single row, that was an achievement for her. The story begins with her deciding to open a wool shop and start a knitting group. The other three women in the story are the first people who join her knitting class.

Jacqueline is a wealthy woman who is annoyed with her husband’s choice of wife, a young woman from the South named Tammie Lee. Jacqueline always dreamed of the sort of girl her son would marry and Tammie Lee is not that. She struggles to disguise her dislike of her daughter-in-law but when she finds out that she is going to be a grandmother she decides to join the knitting class to knit a baby blanket in an attempt to make an effort to get along with her son.

Carol is in the midst of IVF treatment, after having had two failed attempts she and her husband, Doug, are preparing to start their third and final attempt. Desperate to believe that this time it’ll work Carol decides to join the knitting group to make a baby blanket for the baby that she is hoping to conceive.

And finally there’s Alix who has to do community work as part of the conditions of her bail after being caught with her friend’s drugs. She’s impoverished and has had a very tough upbringing but is actually softer than she appears on the outside. She is Jacqueline’s polar opposite but joins the group with the intention of making blankets for Project Linus for her community work.

My least favourite character to read from probably Jacqueline, at first, though as her attitude changed through the book, so did mine. I quite liked the other three and I really felt like I could relate to Carol, though as the story went on I kind of struggled to find her story believable. Following her third IVF attempt she goes out and buys a full nursery worth of furniture, there’s being optimistic and there’s being optimistic and I found it hard to believe that anyone undergoing fertility treatment would do that. This is followed by an adoption thread which while it gives the story a happy ending, I couldn’t believe that would happen either. I do have to admit though the fact that Carol’s husband is called Doug made the ER fan in me smile.

Each of Lydia’s chapters began with a quote about knitting and I really enjoyed that. One of them was “With a little practice and patience, our hands learn to knit, then our minds are free to enjoy the process. – Bev Galeskas, Fiber Trends” which is so true. That’s what I love about knitting, I can just sit back and watch TV or read a book and let my fingers take care of the doll or scarf or hat that I’m making. It was nice to read quotes about knitting and think, ‘hey, that’s so true’.

It was rather a predictable story, but I find that tends to be the case with chick-lit type books. That’s what’s kind of fun about them. You’re not under any illusions about what the outcome is going to be, people will wind up more or less happy by the end of them. I knew what was wrong with Laurel, I knew who Alix and Lydia were going to end up with, I figured out what was going to happen to Doug and Carol (even though I didn’t really like the way it happened, I would’ve preferred a surprise natural pregnancy but then again I suppose that’s just the infertile in me who dreams of that herself), and I guessed what was going to happen with Jacqueline as well. The fact is that on the whole it was pretty well written and I did enjoy the ups and downs of the story. And I really struggled to put it down.

Monday, 23 September 2013

New Bed

Before he moved to Scotland Mr Click bought a new bed for himself. It was a massive sleigh-style bed, in faux-leather and looked really smart. The problem with it was that it had no storage space underneath and took up an awful lot of space in the bedroom.

When we moved into our new home the bed came with us but we had a bit of trouble getting it back together. One corner wouldn't unscrew and another didn't want to tighten up. This coupled with some sticky-out screws which punched a hole in the underside of the mattress kind of suggested that we needed to get a new bed.

The mattress really needed replacing too but it seemed kind of pointless to do that until we'd fixed the problem with the screws in the bed, or better yet, bought a new one.

So when the opportunity presented itself to buy a new bed, we decided it was about time we treated ourselves.

I knew exactly what I wanted; something with legs and space to store some tubs with bedding in underneath, no drawers, a nice headboard, either metal or wood framed. Mr Click pretty much agreed with me and we did a bit of searching online to find something we fancied.

We'd intended to shop at the local store which supplied the rest of our bedroom furniture because he'd be able to dispose of the old bed for us as well, but unfortunately his choice was a wee bit limited. The one bed they had in the style we had hoped for just wasn't what we were looking for.

I went back to looking online and did a bit of searching on Amazon and Ikea, but as is so often the case there were issues about delivering to the island. Then I remembered someone at work mentioning Tesco Direct. And sure enough they would deliver to the island. And they had a bed in almost the exact same style as the one I'd been looking at on Amazon, and they had a £400 mattress marked down to half price!

We were sold.

The bed arrived on the Friday I came out of hospital and almost a week later I came home from work to find the bedroom was looking a little bigger than when I left.

The old bed frame added roughly half a foot to the width of the bed and around a foot and a half to the length. The new bed looked a bit smaller than the old one but just because of the space shaved off the frame.

It's so nice to have extra space in the bedroom. I don't have to squeeze past my chest of drawers to get into bed anymore. You don't need to stand on Tara's bed when you're standing at the end of the bed. And there's no way the head of the bed is going to attract the first the way the old one did.

We've not even got the new mattress on the bed yet either but it's made the old mattress feel brand new. I can't wait for my first night in bed with the new one though, it's already so comfortable I just don't want to get up!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Project 52: Technically Not Week 38 - Upside Down

Today's photo should have been dead easy to do considering Tara is a definite Upside-Down dog, she has been since she was a tiny pup. I decided to wait to take this photo until we were at my in-laws' house because she likes to get up onto their armchairs and lie upside down and twisted round like a pretzel.

But she's been totally uncooperative today and is refusing to hop up onto the chair and lie upside down.

I will get my upside down photo for this week's theme at some point, but for the sakes of getting a blog post actually posted today, here's an old photo of my Upside-Down dog, just about the right way up.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Film Review: When Harry Met Sally...

When Harry Met Sally... is one of those classic romantic comedies that I just can't tire of seeing. It's nearly as old as I am (having been made three years after I was) and it's something I quite like to watch in the run up to Christmas movies, around November time (mainly because it has a couple of Christmas and New Year's Eve scenes).

It's told across about a decade, beginning when Harry and Sally first meet when she agrees to drive him from Chicago to New York. Harry asserts that men and women can't just be friends, because of the whole sex thing. Although they part ways, their paths keep on crossing and gradually they fall into friendship. Of course men and women can't just be friends, and so from here things start to get a little bit complicated for them.

I don't know how many times I've seen this film, but we didn't have it on DVD until recently. We found an unopened copy in the secondhand bookshop at the train station and I insisted to Mr Click that we get it. When the Blu-ray player stopped working we were looking for a DVD we could watch on my laptop, and When Harry Met Sally... won the toss. Mr Click had never actually seen it before then.

Although by rights it could feel dated now, it doesn't really. Sure the hairstyles and outfits are not quite modern, but considering the way that it jumps ahead in five year blocks it just makes the film feel more real. Whereas lots of romantic comedies feel like real products of their time, When Harry Met Sally... is kind of timeless.

The cast is perfect. For Meg Ryan this goes along really well with Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail; she does these sorts of films really well. Billy Crystal's Harry is the perfect contrast to Meg Ryan's Sally, they're really polar opposites. I also think that Carrie Fisher deserves a special mention because one of my really early viewings of this had me sat there puzzling over who she was because she seemed familiar. It wasn't until some time later that I realised that it was Princess Leia!

My favourite scene is probably the bit where they are watching a film in bed together, well, not quite together, but they're watching it at the same time and discussing it over the phone. It's little moments like that which show just how perfect they are together, as long as they can overcome the thing about the sex gets in the way of being friends.

And of course, what review of When Harry Met Sally... would be complete without mention of that scene. I don't think I need to say anything about it, it speaks for itself!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Mystery Scarf

Just over a month ago I posted about a Knitting Mystery I'd been planning. Well, a few weeks ago I actually started work on it (and I've been working on it ever since). Last Sunday I ordered the last two colours (bar one extra colour which I'll need right at the end) and so there's nothing stopping me from firing through it to get it finished.

It's no secret now that it's a scarf. A very stripy scarf. If you click back to the Knitting Mystery post from last month you can get a pretty good idea of what the stripe pattern is going to look like, though the colours aren't one hundred percent correct as there have been some modifications to the colour scheme between planning out the stripe pattern and getting the wool.


Now this number of stripes makes for a lot of weaving in at the end, so I opted to knit it in the round, loosely following the pattern for the House Scarf from the Charmed Knits pattern book. This would've been made somewhat easier had I realised that I was knitting something which was roughly 7" round on 9" circular needles. This makes for some work moving the stitches round the needles and does slow me down somewhat. If I attempt this project again in the future I think I'd throw an extra ten or fifteen stitches onto the cast on row to save this trouble.

By knitting in the round I just have to trim the ends of the loose threads at the end, rather than having to weave them all in which would take a lot of work. Weaving in ends is not one of my favourite pastimes! The double thickness also means that it'll be a lovely and warm scarf.

The three pictures above show the first quarter of the scarf. It's already over a foot and a half long, so it's going to be pretty long. It's quite fun watching the effects that are created as new colours are added. So far I've gone from dark blue and light blue, to less dark blue and introduced light green, now I've added dark green to the mix and before long I'll be using some yellow as well.

Any ideas what sort of scarf this is going to be?

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Day Zero Project: Keep Pot Plants In The Garden Alive

The second part of my target of getting potted plants for the garden was to succeed in keeping them alive for a year. I had a rather traumatic experience in my youth when I grew pansies; when we went away on holiday they were forgotten about and didn't get watered. They did not survive the experience.

With their dying gasp they seem to have cursed me because since then I seem to have the least green fingers possible. I guess that's why I like cut flowers, they look pretty but you have no expectation of them actually surviving for any period of time.

Things seemed a little bit touch and go with our garden plants for a while. The two trees outside the door went through a period of looking decidedly brown and not very healthy. I panicked, convinced that I was killing them, but Mr Click and his Dad worked some magic with some super duper plant feeder and they were revived.

And they're stilly going strong. Arthur II is as well, though I've not actually got any photos of him on my computer at the moment. The photo above is a little out of date, but it should serve to prove that things are still fairly green at our house.

Perhaps the curse has been broken!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Hospital: An Unexpected Journey, Part 2

When I left off on Monday I was getting ready to settle in for the night at our local hospital. I was settled into my very own room (which was pretty big) with a nice adjustable bed. Unfortunately I barely slept. Quite apart from the regular checks of temperature and blood pressure throughout the night, the room was on the corridor which runs from one end of the hospital to the other so all foot traffic passed my room. Even with the curtain drawn round the door I could still hear everything going on outside and had the light shining in as well.

There was also a large round green light on the ceiling above the door. Kind of like a friendly HAL. The shape of the bulb inside created funny shapes and I kept on looking up at it in my half-asleep state and seeing things like rabbit heads (I'm guessing from reading Watership Down while I was waiting to find out whether I was being sent off by helicopter).

The few times I did start to doze off I woke myself up with a start when I felt like I was falling, or rolled over onto the venflon in my arm, or my leg went to sleep because of the awkward angle I was sleeping at. I'd been put on fluid restriction because of the suspected OHSS so had to make do with a single cup of water all night and I was also very self-conscious about having to use the buzzer to summon someone to help me to the bathroom.

By the time the nurse came in to let me know the ambulance was on its way I was a bit weepy and rather overtired, so I was very pleased when another nurse came in to let me know Mr Click was on his way. They'd decided to transfer me via ambulance rather than by air (which I was pretty pleased about) so Mr Click was able to come with me.

The journey to Paisley Hospital was a bit uncomfortable. I felt every little bump and jolt, but the ambulance staff were very good and warned me of the big bumps in advance. We reached the hospital a lot quicker than I was expecting and I got checked in and assessed at A&E there.

We had a bit of a wait and I managed to convince myself that I wouldn't be admitted. No sooner had I decided this did the doctor come back and inform me that I was going to be admitted. I was taken up to a ward and after staying for a little while Mr Click had to head back.

At first they kept me on the fluid restriction and did funny things like measuring around my belly so they could monitor any growth, but once I had a scan (thankfully not an internal one) they decided that it was more likely to be a ruptured ovarian follicle and I was told that I'd probably be allowed home the next day. This also meant the fluid restriction was lifted and I was able to eat and drink to my heart's content. I was very pleased to get my first bite to eat in roughly twenty-four hours (even if I didn't get the actual meal I had ordered).

That night I slept much better (apart from the venflon, which decided to kick it up a notch by being really itchy as well as tender). And the following morning, Friday the 13th, I was determined I was going home. The doctor came round and suggested I might like to stay another day so they could continue to monitor me, especially as I was so remote at home, but I was determined nothing was going to keep me there.

I called Mr Click to come and get me and refused stronger painkillers in case they decided that I needed to stay in after all. For the first time in two days I got dressed and found that I was exhausted by doing this, but stubbornly sat in the chair beside my bed because I wasn't going to give them any excuse to keep me in. When Mr Click did get to me I shuffled the entire length of the hospital for the same reason, perhaps asking for a porter to take me to the door would make them think twice about discharging me!

So I've spent the weekend recovering. I'm still a wee bit sore; stretching and walking are a bit of a challenge, but I'm sleeping much better at home than I did in the hospital. Everyone has done a really good job of taking care of me and helping me to feel better. I'm just hoping it's not something I repeat at any point in the future!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Book 35 of 2013: The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter

The Silent World Of Nicholas Quinn is the third book in the Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter and follows Morse and Lewis as they attempt to solve the murder of a deaf man who worked for an examination syndicate. Along the way they uncover some underhand dealings within the organisation as well as an affair.

I remembered this one from the TV series. I’ve not watched every episode of the TV series but my family did have them all on DVD and we started watching them all from the beginning twice. Mr Click and I have decided that we will watch them all ourselves at some point in the future but probably not until we’ve finished the books because we don’t want to spoil any of the mysteries.

I did find it a little bit tricky to keep track of who everyone was. There’s the various staff members of the syndicate, the girls in the typing pool plus Quinn’s neighbours. The problem I often find with the Colin Dexter books is that you can’t actually solve the crimes by yourself because not everything is laid out clearly for you (that and Morse makes some massive leaps of deduction which aren’t necessarily that intuitive). This problem was compounded by not being able to remember who had what role within the organisation.

I liked the way that the book was structured; the chapters were divided into sections which were headed ‘How’, ‘Why’, etc. I thought that was quite clever and a nice neat way of managing a murder mystery book. But when I was reading it I didn’t feel that the headings necessarily tied up with what was actually happening or being found out by the detectives. I forget which section it was but in one the only link I could find to the title of the section was that at the end Morse was asking that exact question himself, having spent the rest of the time answering the question asked in the heading of the previous section.

Despite having seen the adaptation of this book twice before I couldn’t actually remember the ending (just that there was bound to be more than one body, because that’s exactly what happens when Morse gets involved; the bodies always start piling up). As I said above, I was disappointed that I couldn’t solve the crime myself but I enjoyed it as a quick and easy read. Because you know that you don’t really stand a chance of figuring it you can just sit back and enjoy the story through to the end.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Hospital: An Unexpected Journey, Part 1

On Friday I posted a rather cryptic message explaining the lack of a proper blog post, owing to a trip to hospital. Here's what happened...

Wednesday morning I woke up and didn't feel totally one hundred percent. I was a little bit annoyed with myself because as far as I was concerned I seemed to be coming down with a UTI. Rather than doing anything about it right away I decided to keep an eye on things and book an appointment if things got worse. As it happened I was fairly okay at work and didn't dwell on it too much. Beyond a couple of twinges in the ovary regions (which I'd been having for the last week or so) I felt fine.

When we were in the car on the way home that evening I noticed that my chest felt a little tight. No pain, just the feeling that I was wearing a jumper that was two sizes too small for me. I mentioned it to Mr Click but didn't think too much of it and felt well enough to walk the dog while he cooked tea.

I'd requested spaghetti and meatballs and he did a good job. Later I would regret not asking for a larger portion. We usually watch two episodes of ER on an evening while we eat tea and so I ate my tea during the first episode and then set to sewing up the sleeve of one of Mr Click's jumpers that's been labradored and was showing signs of fraying.

By the time the second episode started I was aware that I wasn't feeling too good. I thought I was just getting a bad back from being hunched over and sewing but no matter how I moved I just couldn't shift the pain. It was just on the right hand side, but it was all the right hand side. From just to the right of my belly button, in my side like a stich, just to the right of my spine and even sort of inside my middle. The left hand side was fine though. It was a really strange and scary feeling.

It kind of built up in waves until Mr Click convinced me that we should really go to the hospital. I'm really glad that I did because less than a mile down the road it increased to such a degree that I could barely breathe. I was convinced I was going to pass out or throw up. At the hospital, when they asked me how bad the pain was on a scale of one to ten I said 'twelve'.

Thankfully that was as bad as the pain got and from that point onwards there was a definite decrease. The nurse at the hospital said she knew I was an 'abdominal pain' from the moment I walked in, all hunched over and white as a sheet. I got a full work up including being hooked up for a 12-lead ECG, a nice jab in my bum with some painkillers, and an antibiotic for the potential UTI.

The doctor was called in (our A&E is part of a small cottage hospital and so the doctor is called if they're needed). Both doctor and nurse were fantastic and the pain was narrowed down to either OHSS (from the IVF) or appendicitis, though the doctor got in contact with a gynaecologist and they decided it was far more likely to be from the IVF.

Around this time I got a venflon put in, which quickly became the bane of my life for the next two days. Both the doctor and nurse tried to get it into my left wrist without any success (I have very tough skin there it seems). My left elbow had been used for lots of blood draws for the IVF so had reached a point where it bruised really easily and was covered in little scabs, so they went for my right elbow instead. It went in easily enough but it was pretty uncomfortable, especially as I kept on forgetting it was there and trying to bend my elbow. Ouch!

At first they were going to get me helicoptered off the island but low cloud meant they couldn't get the Helimed over, so I was on standby for the Sea King if the pain got worse. Mr Click was despatched to get me an overnight bag, with strict instructions to find me some reading material (his mum came through for me with a book from her collection which helped to see me through). And with that I was settled in for the night in my own private room.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Project 52: Week 37 - Numbers

I'd planned on using this photo theme to reveal how many eggs we'd gotten from retrieval or how many we had fertilised, unfortunately things didn't quite go to plan there so I had to come up with another idea for my Numbers themed photo instead.

Luckily my current knitting project came to my rescue. I'm not going to go into too much detail on this because I want to reveal what I'm knitting later in the week, but suffice to say I spent about a week looking up and writing out numbers to create the pattern.

Since then I've transferred all of this information into a spreadsheet on my computer, colour-coded, and it's a lot easier to follow. But this page of numbers came in handy for photographic purposes.

Week 37: Numbers
I've wanted to fiddle around with effects and things for a while and as this was otherwise just a sheet of paper with a bunch of numbers scrawled on it in pencil, it seemed like the perfect thing to experiment on.

The first thing I did was altered the contrast because some of the pencil marks were really faint. Once I'd made some of my usual modifications I decided that what I really wanted was a bit of a vignette and some blur. So I fired up Picasa and played around with some effects. I'm definitely going to make use of Picasa again in the future.

Next week's theme is Upside Down which shouldn't be too tricky with our upside down dog, Tara.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Film Review: King Kong

It seems like an age ago, but on one of our earliest IVF appointment days we finished up at the hospital a little earlier than we'd anticipated and so took a trip to HMV and took advantage of the Blu-ray offer that they had on. One of those films was King Kong, the 2005 Peter Jackson version.

It's a retelling of the 1933 film version, taking advantage of the massive leaps in technology since then. Jack Black's filmmaker, Carl Denham, books Ann Darrow to play the female lead in his latest film. Along with screenwriter, Jack Driscoll, and actor, Bruce Baxter, the crew of the SS Venture head for Skull Island which turns out to be the last place in the world you'd want to visit.

Not only are Skull Island's natives not particularly welcoming, but the island also turns out to be home to some giant creepy bugs, dinosaurs and the titular King Kong; a gorilla of epic proportions. Rather than escape and head back to New York as quickly as possible, Denham decides that the best course of action is to capture the beast and take him back with him; luckily Kong has become quite enamoured with Ann so this shouldn't be too tricky. Providing they can all stay alive long enough to get back to the boat!

Now I'll say straight off that as far as I'm aware I've never actually seen the original 1933 film. Well, I think I've seen bits of it. I have a vague recollection of being in my childhood living room while a black and white film played on TV with a stop motion ape in it, that may or may not have been King Kong. Suffice to say that if I have seen the original I don't recall enough of it to comment on any similarities between the old and the new.

As for the 2005 version, I saw that in the cinema when it first came out. We were supposed to be seeing Status Quo but the gig got cancelled but we still had the hotel room booked, so we went to a cinema in Glasgow (which has now closed down) and spent the night in the a fancy hotel afterwards. My main recollection of the trip was my dad spilling his diet coke all over the counter when he went to pay for it, and his popcorn all over the cinema floor when we got our seats. Good times.

I remember being a bit unsure about Jack Black being in this when I first saw it, but he really suits the part well. He has this sort of crazy, reckless quality. The cast works well together and I've got to watch some of the special features because I'm sure it must not have been easy acting against a giant ape who may or may not have been in any given scene they were filming.

The ape in question being this guy:

Oops, sorry, wrong picture:

See the similarities? That's because they're one and the same; Andy Serkis plays King Kong in much the same fashion as he played Gollum, giving him a double role in the film. It's really clever because after a while you forget that you're watching a CGI character and just assume that they managed to rustle up a giant ape from somewhere (one who seems to be easily entertained by vaudeville acts).

It's a very long film, clocking in at just over three hours long, making it a slightly less than sensible choice to watch right after a long day with a trip to the mainland. The Blu-ray has the extended edition which included an extra twenty minutes of footage compared with what I'd seen in the past; I couldn't honestly tell you which bits were new bits because it's been so long since I last saw this film.

King Kong is one of those films I'll watch again when I've got plenty of time to enjoy it (and nowhere in particular to be the next day) and I feel in the mood for an action film. It's pure Peter Jackson and you get the impression that he made it because he could. It's just very long so plan bathroom breaks for the slow bits!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Not a proper blog post

The bad news is I couldn't do a proper blog post today because I was rushed into hospital on Wednesday night.

The good news is I'm on my way home after having been discharged.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Day Zero Project: Get Some Pot Plants For The Garden

We share our garden with our next door neighbour. Technically her bit of garden is outside her back door and kitchen window, ours is outside the back door and goes round the side of the house in a sort of L-shape. When we moved in we were given the option to get a fence separating 'our bit' from 'her bit' but we soon realised that this wouldn't really be practical. We don't mind sharing and it seems more neighbourly somehow.

We have flagstones right outside the back door and then the rest of the garden is sort of gravel/large stones, which suits us well because we don't have to worry about cutting grass, it just needs weeding occasionally. But when we moved in I knew that I wanted to have something growing in the garden and we decided that the best way to do this would be to get some potted plants.

The plan is, at some point, to get some pots to go along this fence but at the moment we just make a point of weeding it every once and a while. It's a very low maintenance garden but I don't think that a few pots of flowers or herbs will be too much work.

So far we have a single plant in the back garden. A rather lonely palm-thing which I don't have a photo of at the moment. He's named Arthur II (Arthur I was a rubber plant that we acquired when I was a teenager) and he's been doing very well. This year Mr Click had to weed him because he was growing a thick layer of grass and together he and Tara pulled out all his old yellow leaves. But he does look a wee bit sad sitting by the fence all by himself so I'm planning to slowly pick up pots and plants to keep him company.

We do also have two trees right outside the front door. The two other houses in our row have plants on either side of the door so we didn't want to be the odd ones out. The photo above was taken a year after we moved in, so they've actually filled out a bit since then. They did go through a phase where they looked a little bit brown and sickly but we managed to revive them.

Technically I have achieved this target but I think it's kind of a C+ Could Try Harder kind of thing. Three plants does not a garden make.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

I don't like Mondays

I never once imagined writing this post.

What I thought of be writing about today was how we had our final scan at the Nuffield before finishing stimulation. I thought I'd be writing about all the follicles we saw and how exciting it was. How we rushed home with the trigger shot to get it into the fridge as soon as possible. How we anxiously awaited the phone call to confirm when to administer it and then hurried to book a hotel for the following night and started organising what we needed to take with us.

That's not what happened.

It all started so well. We went for the scan and saw loads and loads of follicles. I'd been getting a pain in my right side with every step and the scan showed why. I'd got at least twenty-seven on that side including a 19mm one! The nurse gave up counting the left side because there were so many.

I'd been told to stop my jabs because we should be ready for egg collection on Wednesday so it looked like we were going to be all ready to go.

Then we got the first blow. Due to my high number of follicles I was hyper stimulating so we'd probably have to freeze all of (any) embryos we got to give my body a chance to recover before we moved on to a frozen transfer a few months down the line.

Mr Click was a bit more surprised at this than me because he'd forgotten this warning at the beginning. I thought 'that's okay, at least we'll know that we've got embryos to use'. Sure, that would've made things a bit tricky with actually getting them transferred because of the winter weather, but at least we'd know they were there.

Talking about it on the way home we decided that this would be for the best, after all, we wanted me to be healthy and able to produce the best possible environment for our baby-to-be. It was a set back, but not a huge one.

After our scan I had another vial of blood taken and then our nurse, L, went over what we needed to do in preparation for the op. I was elated, even with the strong likelihood of having to do a 'freeze all' I couldn't help but feel excited at the prospect of moving on to the next stage. We went through the fact I couldn't eat or drink from midnight the night before, how I couldn't wear make up or perfume, what Mr Click would need to do. We'd already looked up the hotel we'd stop in so we discussed that too.

All we had to do was wait for the call to let us know when to administer the trigger shot. We got it and then had to dash off for home because it needed to be put in a fridge until I had to take it. I'd planned a leisurely lunch and a spot of shopping for the afternoon but we cancelled that immediately in favour of heading home as quickly as we could.

I spent the whole time freaking out, panicking that Mr Click would warm it up too much by holding the bag it was in on his lap or something.

I needn't have bothered.

We were just getting off the boat when the call came and my heart sank the minute I answered it and heard 'I'm afraid it's not good news'.

Our cycle was cancelled.

Even just typing it out like that makes me feel crushed.

My estrogen levels were too high so my ovaries were hyper stimulated. If we carried on to egg collection and I administered the trigger I could get really really sick with OHSS.

I stood there on the boat taking this call and just felt everything sort of crash down around me. All the trips, all the early starts, all the holidays I used from work, all the pills, all the injections, all the side effects, all the discomfort I'd felt over that last weekend; I told myself it would all be worth it in the end. And this was it, the end, and it didn't feel worth it at all.

The hospital were lovely. Our doctor phoned once we had a chance to get home and L phoned again later in the evening to check we were doing okay. I wanted so badly to be angry with them, but I couldn't. They didn't do anything wrong, it was just my body finding new and unusual ways to disappoint me.

Dr L chatted to me on the phone for a good while, making sure I understood the exact reason why we needed to cancel it. Ironically I can't have unprotected sex until I get a bleed because there could potentially be a lot of eggs floating around and we can't risk anything happening there. All I can say is good luck to them negotiating my twisted, scarred Fallopian tubes!

There's a different, short protocol that we could try next time. I think this mythical 'next time' is probably the worst part of it all. People keep on mentioning it to try and help us feel better, but it just hurts all the more.

We live on a Scottish island which means transport to the hospital requires not only two trains and a taxi, but also a ferry. In the winter months (or rather between around October and March, so part of autumn and spring as well) the ferries can be unpredictable due to windy weather. That basically rules our a huge chunk of the year when we can't plan any sort of treatment.

We need to wait roughly two months before we could try again which would take us into November. I used to commute to university every day and I've done travel in bad weather, I've had to leave early because the boats are being cancelled, I've had to make emergency arrangements to sleep on people's floors. Now I have a job and a labrador, it's not that easy any more. Calling Uni because I can't get off the island is one thing, what if we had to cancel the next cycle because we can't get to a crucial appointment?

Although the earliest we could try again would be November, the earliest we can realistically try again would be March. Come April we'll be two years on the NHS waiting list, what if we start another cycle privately and then get the go ahead to do the NHS one? I doubt whether they would hold our slot on the NHS until we were ready for it.

Right now I'm torn and I really don't know where we go next. I really hate the vibe I got from the other hospital; dirty toilets, staff who don't know where things are, dismissive attitudes when you call for information or support. They might be having a multimillion pound refurb at the moment but they need to make some changes at a really fundamental level too. I love how clean and welcoming the Nuffield was, I like that when Dr L phoned she immediately talked us through what could be done differently to help us get a result in the future; it felt like the staff were sharing in our disappointment with us. If I write out a list of pros and cons, the Nuffield is going to win every time.

But what am I supposed to do in the meantime? It's been a really long four years, another seven months might as well be a lifetime.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Book 34 of 2013: A Dance With Dragons, Part 1: Dreams and Dust by George R.R. Martin

Dreams and Dust is the first volume of George R.R. Martin’s fifth book in the A Song of Ice & Fire series. This one has a bit of an overlap with the previous book as it continues from about the middle of that one and so picks up on events that have already been seen but this time from the other side of the sea.

I think I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last one purely because it had more of my favourite characters in it. I was pleased to see Jon, Tyrion and Daenarys again and there were also fewer new characters being introduced. I felt like the last one got bogged down under the weight of all these new characters who I barely knew and so I didn’t really care too much about what happened to them. I think the sheer quantity of my favourite characters cropping up in this book helped to make this one far more enjoyable.

I felt like the last book dragged a bit, probably because I didn’t feel particularly invested in many of the new characters. It seemed that the chapters in this book were a bit shorter so although the book was shorter (a whopping 704 pages) it felt like a much quicker read.

The way that the events of the book jumped back in time and then gradually caught up with those of the last book was a little bit jarring at times but I got into it eventually. I have to say that I’m not a fan of this style and I would’ve much rather things just continued in a fairly linear fashion. I’m hoping that the future books are a little more straightforward in terms of chronology if nothing else because due to the length of time between them being released might make things confusing if I don’t have time for a reread in between.

I’m glad that things picked up for me a bit with this book, after the last one I’d kind of been losing my enthusiasm for the series but this sucked me back in and I really enjoyed it. More importantly, it got me looking forward to the second volume of the story!

Monday, 9 September 2013

20,000 Pageviews!

About a week ago I noticed that I was rapidly approaching the 20,000 pageviews mark. I thought to myself, 'ooh, I'll have to keep an eye on that' and then promptly forgot about it until yesterday when I realised that I'd hit the 20,300 (and climbing) mark.

Pageviews as of 08/09/13
As you can imagine, I'm pretty chuffed about that. I'm also fast approaching my 500th blog post as well. I'm pretty impressed that I've managed to keep this up for as long as I have (and I don't have any plans to slow down right now).

Unfortunately I've not got any really crazy new search terms to find my blog. People are finding me through googling things like '' which is pretty much guaranteed to bring them here but provides less entertainment for me when I check the search terms thing.

Overview as of 08/09/13
I like how my monthly pageviews keeps growing as well. It's nice to know that people are actually stopping by my blog and that I'm not just shouting into the ether.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Project 52: Weeks 35 & 36 - Holidays & Frames

This is a catch-up post for the last two weeks' worth of photos as we had a family member visiting last week so I didn't get a chance to get my photos organised. I have to admit that they're maybe not quite as interesting as I would've liked; things have been rather busy the last couple of weeks what with hospital appointments so I've had less time to spend with my camera than I would've liked.

After the break for the summer, the BBC News site returned with their photo themes, beginning with Holidays. I really wanted to take a photo of Tara with my sunglasses on. I imagined putting it into black and white or perhaps sepia tones for a sort of vintage look.

That didn't happen. Whenever I went near Tara with my sunglasses she thought that the aim of the game was to eat them. As I only have one pair of sunglasses and I kind of need them for my next eye appointment in November (when sunglasses can be tricky to come by) I gave up and just took a photo of the sunglasses themselves.

Week 35: Holidays
So, yeah, not the most interesting of snaps. If I'd put a little more thought into it I might have tried to get something reflected in the lens or something, but this was more of an 'oh-crap-I've-not-got-a-photo-for-this-week-yet' sort of photo. Besides, there's something decidedly holiday-ish about wearing sunglasses. Until recently it was the only time I'd ever wear them (because living in Scotland we don't get a huge amount of sun, and even when it does come it, it's not always worth cracking out the sunglasses)!

I vowed to try a little harder with the next theme, Frames. I toyed around with the idea of digging out a bunch of framed pictures and lining them all up but I realised that this would involve messing around with some clutter and again I was in a bit of a rush so I quickly abandoned that idea and looked to the window instead.

Our house has lovely old-fashioned windows downstairs, with the little panes of glass. The actual panes themselves are sometimes quite different in whether they have any sort of colour tint or texture, so I decided to use that as my subject for this photo.

Week 36: Frames
I like that the second pane of glass on the top row in this photo is sort of fuzzy looking. That's because it has a bit of a ripple to it. Sometimes if I glance up quickly and just look through that pane I think it's raining outside when it's not really.

I've taken photos of this window before. At the moment everything is all bushy and green-looking but another few weeks and things will be going yellow and orange. I noticed yesterday when we were watching TV that there were a fair few leaves falling down from the trees so it won't be long before autumn hits us with full force.

Next week's photo theme is Numbers which hopefully should've prove too difficult. Considering I happily wandered down town last Friday to take a photo of a number 16 on a lamppost. Maybe I'll be able to tie it in to my next IVF post!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

IVF Update: My New Favourite Number

After my first scan to check for follicle growth I was pretty nervous about the second. Sure the nurse on the Monday had told us it was a bit early to see any changes, but come Friday I didn't feel any different and I was convinced that we'd go in and there would be nothing to see again.

I needn't have worried.

After stressing about it for a good chunk of the week, Friday morning I had a word with my ovaries and told them I was expecting them to have no fewer than four follicles each. Clearly my pep talk (and possibly the week's worth of Gonal-F) helped because on Friday morning there was definitely something to see!

I've got seven follicles in my right ovary, while the left is currently in the lead with nine (including a whopping 16mm one)! Hence my decision that sixteen is my new favourite number. The smallest were 7mm and there were several at 9mm and 12mm.

So I can heave a huge sigh of relief.

I'm scheduled for another scan on Monday with potential egg collection on Wednesday or next Friday.

Friday, 6 September 2013

IVF Latest: First Scan

On Monday we went to the Nuffield for our first scan to check my progress while I'm having the Gonal-F injections.

Having read other people's experiences online I suspected that I wasn't quite ready yet. Aside from the crazy hormonalness, the slight twinges and the ever-present nausea, I've not had the bloatedness or been able to feel anything under my skin.

The scan confirmed that it's still a wee bit too early to be scheduling a trip to theatre any time soon.

We took the car this time which I was pleased about. I've been incredibly emotional about the smallest things so considering the things that made me cry on Monday, I'm glad I was in the car for this trip. It also enabled us to go to Singapore Express (the all you can eat Chinese buffet) and for me to pick up some new jeans (one of mine has an inexplicable stain which looks creepily like blood although it definitely isn't).

By taking the car but catching the boat we would've caught had we used public transport we arrived at the hospital an hour and a half early. I always feel a bit guilty about getting there early because the poor staff seem to feel bad about us sitting in the waiting room for ages and I'm sure we much up the appointment schedule. It's nice to have time to sit and relax after the journey.

They were obviously quite busy on Monday, it seems like it's a good time of year for fertility treatment. First of all I had my blood taken by S.

We chatted as she did it and I sat with my little bit of gauze for a few minutes waiting for my arm to stop bleeding. S asked if it had, I checked, said yes, tossed the gauze and rolled down my sleeve. Except my poor pin-pricked vein had other ideas and started up again, getting blood all over my sleeve. It was just a tiny bit and barely noticeable but I was kind of annoyed with myself; next time ask for a bit of tape!

We were handed over to L for the scan. It's funny how worked up I was for the first one. Now I've got the routine down perfectly; into the little toilet, strip from the waist down and don sexy hospital gown with patented butt-revealing back, hop onto the bed, put your legs up on the rests, take a deep breath and let the nurse do her thing.

This time I had an extra job to do. I was asked to make some notes of measurements on my chart, Mr Click was asked first but being hard of hearing he suggested he wasn't the best choice if they wanted actual accurate details. So I did it, though as I said above, it was a wee bit too early for anything to have happened so I just had to record the thickness of my womb lining, for anyone keeping score I think it was 6.8 (I'm guessing millimetres).

I did get a quick glimpse at one of my ovaries and it's tiny developing follicles. I think the measurement there was 6mm on the one L measured.

She reassured us that although there wasn't much change yet it was still early days as I'd only been doing the injections since Friday, making Monday morning my fourth day of jabs. Later that evening we got a phone call to confirm our next appointment would be Friday giving us a week of jabs and hopefully something to show for it on the scan.

I was kind of hoping for an increase of medication or something but reading online since then it looks like I'm a bit slow to respond but otherwise on track. Hopefully I'll pick up some momentum and my follicles will really wow them at the next scan.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Day Zero Project: Make something for the house by hand

I've wanted to make something nice for the house for ages, the problem is, I'm not really sure what sort of something I want to make. Part of me would quite like to crack out the sewing machine and learn to use it to make something relatively simple like some cushion covers.

As I mentioned before, I've not quite got to grips with my sewing machine yet. So cushion covers are on the back burner for the time being.

I'm guessing that I'll probably en up knitting something for the house, though I've not decided what that's likely to be either. Top of my list at the moment is a knitted peg bag for hanging the laundry out on the line, but for now most of what I'm knitting are toys.

I guess Santa should could as something for the house. He's a Christmas decoration so he'll only come out for one month a year. I stuff his sack full of treats so I'm looking forward to seeing it again this year.

Unless I post about making cushion covers in the near future, we'll just count Santa as my something for the house!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Things That Make Me Smile

One of my major side effects to the medication that I'm on for the IVF at the moment is the crazy hormonalness that I'm experiencing. I've actually started a list of weird things that have made me tear up at the moment. I'll maybe share that in a future post!

Today I thought I'd share some of the things online that make me smile (aside from my friends' blogs, which you can find the links to in my sidebar). You've probably seen some of these before but they're always worth a look again, especially if you're having a bad day.

This is a website which collects those awful corrections that your phone likes to throw into your texts at the most inappropriate moments. My own autocorrects tend to be fairly innocuous (blu-ray becomes blurry, love is lobe or live, my old phone used to give you nun and circuit before mum and biscuit in the predictive text mode) but Damnyouautocorrect has some real gems, often the responses are even funnier than the original autocorrect!

Hyperbole and a Half
I've mentioned this as one of my favourite blogs to read on here before but Allie's blog is really funny. I love the way she sees the world and writes about her experiences, and her cartoons fit her posts perfectly. Even her post on depression has a unique way of describing things which makes it really easy to relate to. I have my favourite posts there which I'll check back in on every once in a while but occasionally I'll go right back to the beginning and read them all again because they never get old.

Cake Wrecks
Another funny blog which I don't visit nearly as often as I used to, but which can be guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. This is a blog where people submit photos of really bad cake designs and Jen offers commentary on what you can see. Most of the cakes speak for themselves but like Damnyouautocorrect the commentary helps to really highlight the hilarity of what is otherwise a complete disaster.

Television Without Pity
This is a site I used to visit regularly in my teens as it provides summaries of TV shows as they air in America. Modern teens can just download the latest episodes of their favourite shows using torrents these days but in my days you had to make do with little clips uploaded to file sharing sites and summaries posted on places like TWoP. Rewatching ER has made me feel nostalgic for those old times so it's cool to relive the anticipation of waiting for your favourite shows to be written up on there, knowing you might have three months or more before you'd get to see them for real.

Angry Alien
This is a really old site but it's so funny that I can't help checking back on it from time to time. Basically it's little animated films showing the important points in films, performed by rabbits. Yup, totally bizarre, but very funny. I especially love Titanic, King Kong and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

TV Tropes
Warning, if you click on the above link prepare to lose several hours of your life. I've taken to looking up whichever films we happen to put on during our Saturday film sessions. From there you find yourself clicking through to find other examples of those tropes and before you know it, it's time for bed! I've put this one last because once you've visited it you won't have time to look at the other sites.

What are some of your favourite time wasting sites?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Book 33 of 2013: Star Warped by A3R Roberts (Adam Roberts)

On our trip to Oban for my birthday, Mr Click spotted Star Warped in the Oxfam shop. Knowing what a geek I am he pointed it out to me and as it’s from the same range as The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Hobbit parody books I decided we should get it. Mr Click got to read it first but after listening to him chuckling through it (and refusing to actually share what was so funny most of the time) I obviously had to read it as soon as I was able.

It’s a parody version of the Star Wars films released to date; first are the longer parodies dealing with the original three films, then at the end are three shorter films which play around with the events of the most recent three films. In these films the dominant force in the universe is the Farce and Luke must go head to head with Dark Father (three guesses to work out what his relationship to Luke is).

It really was laugh out loud funny in places. I was glad to finally get to read it and see whether it really was as funny as my husband had implied. It’s obviously written for people who are fans of the films or who are at least well acquainted with them. I read it not long after watching the three original Star Wars films (for Star Wars Day) so I could kind of follow how the story was taking the mickey out of them.

One of my favourite things was the names. Especially some of the ‘extras’ who had names that were phonetic spellings of things like ‘Another British Actor’ and ‘That Guy From The Bill’. There were also the main characters like Wobbli Bent K’nobbli as well as the rebel force, called Rebelend. So it’s a little bit rude in places, but considering this is coming from the same mould as Bored of the Rings that was kind of to be expected.

I thought that the first three parodies were the best of the six, mainly because they were longer. They had actual chapters whereas everything in the prequels was sort of squished into one. Despite being a bit rushed they did help to tie everything together. I suppose there probably wasn’t enough to work with for the three prequel films, they are kind of funny on their own without even trying.

I’ll revisit this in the future, perhaps when we’ve got all of the films on blu-ray so I can have a little marathon. It’s also made me really look forward to reading the Tolkien parody books. They’re on the bookcase waiting for me, I just need to find a bit of time to actually get to them!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Gonal-F Injections

Yesterday I wrote about my appointment at the Nuffield last Wednesday when we picked up my meds.

I left off yesterday with us leaving the hospital after having had a scan and a blood test. We'd been told to expect a phone call the following day but when we got onto the ferry at about 6pm I noticed that I had a missed call and a message from G with our results from the blood test. I called back and was given the go-ahead to start the jabs on Friday morning.

I was told to give myself 150iu morning and evening for the first two days and then just once a day after that. I need to leave twelve hours (roughly) between the morning and afternoon so I settled on doing it at 8am and 8pm because that gives me time to get up on the weekend when I like to have a lie-in. So come Friday at 8am I was nervously preparing to stab myself in the belly for the first time.

It's not really that difficult. You remove the pen cap, screw on a needle, turn the dial to the right dosage (for me it's 150iu), push the needle into your skin and then press the button on the end for ten long seconds. There's even an iPhone app complete with videos to help you get it right!

I barely felt the needle going in for the first injection but there's a horrible tuggy sensation when you pull it out; kind of like taking out an earring or having stitches removed. I could've cried when I pulled it out after the first dose and saw it still said 25iu, meaning I'd not given myself the full dose. That meant I had to do it all over again!

I think it was because I didn't press the button down far enough. It kind of goes against all your natural instincts to push something sharp into your belly and then press down on the end of it. But I'm getting the hang of it now and even administered my second dose without Mr Click in the room!

I'm fairly confident with it now though and it just takes a couple of minutes to get it all set up. The photo above shows how I organise it all and usually I have Mr Click standing by with his phone to time me to make sure I'm giving myself the full dose.

I've not really noticed any massive side effects. I've had a couple of twinges in the general ovary area (for some reason it seems to happen soon after I do the jab, but in the opposite side to where I've injected and then the side I've injected into catches up after about fifteen or twenty minutes). I have also been rather more emotional; things that have made me cry, or at least well up slightly, have included people offering me sweets at work, forgetting to take a vitamin and watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony on DVD.

Today we have another scan to see how things are going. We were hoping that with my good AMH results that it wouldn't take too many days of stimulation to get me ready for the next stage. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Nuffield Appointment & Preparing For Injections

Normally I'd post my Project 52 photo post right now, but we've got family visiting so I've not really had time to get that organised. Instead I thought I'd use today and tomorrow to get caught up on where we're at with the IVF/ICSI.

At my last Nuffield appointment I was given the instruction to call on the first day of my next period to book an appointment for Cycle Day Three. I duly went away and waited and waited and waited for what seemed like the longest time ever. Of course it wasn't really that long but after dreading every period for almost four years actually looking forward to one was going to feel like a lifetime.

And it was slightly late which did not help matters at all. Though having spoken to people online I've discovered that it's not uncommon for your period to be a little shy after a Prostap injection.

After waiting a while to establish this was indeed what I'd been waiting for I called up and made our Day 3 appointment for last Wednesday.

As it was a little later in the day than previous appointments I made the decision to go into work for a couple of hours first thing; no sense using up holiday hours unnecessarily. This meant I missed a phone call from the hospital asking us about changing our appointment time but I got through when we were on the boat and arranged that if we could get there for 2:30pm we'd go for that but if not we'd go for the original time.

We did actually make it for the earlier appointment and didn't have long to wait before we were called through for our scan. This time we met a new nurse, G, who is pretty familiar with the island where we live so we chatted a while about the best restaurants and places to eat locally.

The scan was slightly more uncomfortable than the last one, which I put down to the time of the month rather than the nurse. Again, it was the scan that I had been most concerned about on this appointment because a Day 3 scan seemed kind of unpleasant.

It's never going to be the highlight of my calendar but it really wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The thickness of my womb lining was checked as well as my ovaries. My right ovary was hiding again but this time I was actually able to make out what G pointed to when she looked at my left ovary. That was pretty cool.

And with that all done it was time to get all cleaned up and get some blood taken before I learned how to give myself injections. I forget exactly what the blood test was for but the results would determine when I would start the injections.

As for the injections, I'd been given the choice between a solution which you had to mix up yourself before injection or one which came in a preloaded pen. As much as I enjoyed science at school, with something as big as this I wanted to leave as little room for error as possible, so I opted for the preloaded pen, known as Gonal-F.

I know plenty of women do just fine with making up the medication and injecting it, but the thought of doing something wrong scares me and I'm really grateful the Nuffield gives you a choice.

Before demonstrating how the pen worked, G asked who would be doing the injections. Without hesitating I said 'me!' I mean, I love Mr Click but if anyone's going to stab me with something sharp and pointy, it's going to be me.

 The pens really do seem to be foolproof and after a demonstration I felt pretty confident about doing it myself. We were given a snazzy bag for the boxes of pens and needles, and the sharps bucket, as well as a big A3 sheet with step-by-step instructions (including coloured blocks showing where to put the sharps bucket and needle). After restocking my metformin, we were good to go and just had to wait for a phone call to tell us when we could start the injections.

And I'll share more about how I got on with those tomorrow.