Lumpy meets Granny and Grandad

28 10 2013


This weekend marked another important milestone for Lumpy. FFOMC and I made a trip to Northern Ireland to celebrate our baby news with my family. FFOMC went into overdrive, checking the all knowing oracle that is the internet for information about whether or not it is safe for me to travel by plane, to add to his ever growing knowledge about enjoying a healthy pregnancy.

We arrived on Friday evening to a warm reception at Belfast International Airport where Granny and Granddad admired my already visible bump before treating us to pizza and drinks by the fire – for me this meant just under half a glass of red wine (although it was a damn good one) followed by lots of Shloer.

On Saturday my sisters, their partners & my two lovely nephews arrived in my childhood home for a catch up before a Halloween party that evening complete with decorations, supper and fireworks. The fireworks were operated by FFOMC – sure I may not be able to fly but the soon to be father can play with matches and explosive material!

Telling close family friends about Lumpy was great – I explained how I have spent three months working on my Halloween costume before revealing that I came as a Mummy – hugs and congratulations all round 🙂

Sunday meant a visit to a carvery at The Stormont Hotel before a return trip home which was surprisingly stress free despite the storm warnings.

It always surpries me how quick these visits home seem and especially with such big news to share. I mis everyone already and am keen to organise my next visit – although my family may need to come to me next time as I am assured it will be become increasinly unsafe for me to fly myself 🙂

Visiting home

22 10 2013


In 5 days I will be off to good old Norn Iron to visit my family and indulge in my favourite supper of the pastie variety.

This trip will be especially good not only because it coincides with my parent’s annual Halloween party but also because for the first time in a LONG time FFOMC will be joining me.

No matter how long I live in Southern England, Norn Iron will always be the place I call home and I look forward to a few precious days there with good company and great craic.

Northern Irish Time Warp

25 08 2013

Northern Ireland

At the time of writing it is 1am.

Less than 48 hours ago I flew home from the Dominican Republic on an overnight flight.

As the Dominican Republic is 5 hours behind the UK, my brain still currently thinks it is 8pm.

I stayed up from 8am (Dominican time) until till 11pm (UK time) the next day – 23hours in total – then I got up at 8am (UK time).

My parents have booked tickets for me to fly home to Northern Ireland to visit them and my family tomorrow.

The flight is at 10:50am – my brain will think it is 5:50am.

In order to make it to the airport on time I need to catch the train at 7:30am – at the absolute latest! My brain will think it is 2am.

By way of summary regarding my current thoughts on this situation:

  • I am very jet lagged.
  • After my 9 hour flight on Thursday/Friday, I swore blind I was done with planes for the year.
  • I want a lie in tomorrow.
  • I do not want to be on another plane tomorrow – sorry I mean TODAY!
  • I may dislike my parents a little bit right now.
  • I need to call my mother immediately, wake her and continue to call repeatedly throughout the night so she is as tired and irritable as I am on arrival…
  • …but it will be lovely to see them…
  • …and my nephews…
  • …and dearest Granny, Peggy and Arthur…


What Baby?

24 08 2013


We can all be guilty of making poor decisions.

Sometimes the worst kinds are those designed to protect other people.

I found myself making just such a poor decision whilst holidaying in the Dominican Republic.

It was the second day. FFOMC and I were searching for a table in the buffet restaurant for breakfast. It was rammed with people but we tumbled upon a table that had recently been vacated by its previous occupants and was being made up by one of the countless waitresses swarming between the crowds of hungry tourists.

I loitered next to the table to communicate my intention to occupy the table as soon as it was ready whilst FFOMC went in search of coffee, toast and tropical fruit juice.

The waitress (whose name tag read Vanessa), smiled and acknowledged my presence. She politely inquired about my health on that particular morning, cupping her stomach with one hand whilst she skilfully arranged cutlery with the other. I nodded that I was in good health.

The next question came as something of a shock.

“And how is the baby?”

In a heartbeat my mind raced through a number of subsequent thoughts.  What f**king baby? Do I look fat in this outfit? Who do you think I am? Do I have a pregnant doppelganger? Are you mocking me? How embarrassed will you be when you realise I am not in actual fact pregnant?

Having made similar errors in the past of enquiring about pregnancy and due dates with non-pregnant woman, my heart clenched in sympathy for this woman so desperate to please and engage with guests. Despite the multitude of responses competing in my brain, my overwhelming gut reaction was to spare the poor woman’s feelings and save her from embarrassment – after all she does not know me and after a fortnight was never likely to see me again. Even so, the response that issued from my mouth surprised even me;

“The baby’s fine.”

I don’t know what I expected but of course this was not the end of this conversation.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“Err…it’s really much too early to say”

(Gushing) “Oh…you must be so excited – it will be a wonderful surprise”

“More than you can possibly imagine…”

I had a lovely morning breakfast. As a “Mum-to-be” I was treated like royalty by the gushing staff and received approving, knowing nods of approval from the waiters. FFOMC laughed when I explained the reason for these knowing glances and rolled his eyes in merriment. Yes for an hour or so, I enjoyed being “pregnant”.

However, my amusement was short lived.

After a sinfully blissful day of drifting aimlessly between my sun lounger where I caught up on the romantic exploits of Damien Stark and my time in the Jacuzzi FFOMC and I dressed for dinner and made our way to dinner followed by the bar. As I was about to place my order for my usual red wine I met the beaming face of the lovely Vanessa. Despite my earlier reassurance that I would not ever see this woman again after my annual fortnight in the sun; I baulked at the idea of being branded the world’s worst parent as I necked wine by the gallon load putting my “unborn child” at unnecessary risk.

This was the start of a very long fortnight.

We ate at the buffet restaurant and all three of the Al La Carte restaurants in no particular order. At each venue we were greeted with Vanessa’s smiling face.

I abstained from ordering alcohol in her presence. I approached other waiters when her back was turned and took large gulps under the table when she went into the kitchen to collect food orders. I guzzled water and soft drinks when she was in my sight lines and refused to partake of the liqueur trolley when it was wheeled to our table.

It became a standing joke with the holiday friends we made and this farcical routine continued until the day we left.

All in all it was a great holiday but for much of it, I was significantly more lucid than I had intended to be.

On my return to England I have thrown out the offending outfit that resulted in this gross misunderstanding and I am hell bent on catching up on lost units.


Post Holiday Haze

23 08 2013


I have just returned today after a fabulous holiday in the Dominican Republic.

I have been very twitchy about not posting for two weeks but I have always found it difficult to access the internet when I am abroad, irrespective of the strength of my motivation and my commitment to the postaday challenge.

So despite another trip planned in the coming week to catch up with my family in Northern Ireland – I am back with a vengence – totally refreshed and with some news ideas that may or may not be worth pursuing and developing in my writing.

As soon as I can shake off this jet lag, watch this space!

James and the Dragon

5 08 2013


My annual summer holiday is fast approaching and I am very excited.

I was thinking back to my first foreign holiday with FFOMC which seems an eternity ago. This holiday was in many respects rubbish – an 18-30’s holiday in Ibiza is not really the best match for a couples first ever romantic retreat, despite what the travel agent thought – but it did provide us with the best summer holiday story ever.

We were only 21 years old and a bit naive.

At the welcome meeting on day one we bought a great value package that included club tickets for most nights of our holiday, a day at a water park, mini music festival, boat trip and various events with food, drinks and entertainment all included. It was exceptional value for money but it was not cheap.

We ran out of money on day three.

Following a lengthy and panicked conversation with my bank back in the UK, I managed to arrange a temporary extension to my overdraft and we secured sufficient funds to last us the fortnight. A celebration was in order. We had a lovely meal at our hotel and started to feel much more relaxed knowing we had enough money to eat during our stay. This meal was accompanied by several jugs of Sangria. Unfortunately a combination of the stress and A LOT of alcohol in a short space of time left me feeling very fuzzy and FFOMC escorted me back to our room, tucked me up in bed and said he was going to return to the bar to finish the Sangria rather than waste it. This was at about 11pm.

When I woke up in the early hours of the morning – he had not returned.

I panicked.

The main town was about 20mins in one direction but we also had tickets that night for a club at least 20mins in the opposite direction. FFOMC had nothing with him to link him to me or even the hotel where we were staying. There was no point in going out to look for him having no idea where he had gone and I spent an anxious few hours just watching the clock and praying that he got back safely.

It was after 7am when he finally staggered back into our hotel room. He was not steady on his legs and had a large cut across his cheek and ear lobe.

The flood of pure relief coursing through my body evaporated as he collapsed onto the bed, raised his arms towards me and cried out “Snuggles“.

I saw red and proceeded to yell at him for the next 10mins, outlining my outrage at his selfishness, my concern for his well being and my anger at his negligence.

When I eventually ran out of breath with tears streaming from my bloodshot eyes, he looked at me in confusion and quizzically enquired “No Snuggles?”

Needless to say this started the whole process all over again.

When I woke him up to take me shopping in the full glare of the midday sun I discovered that his pockets were weighed down with coins and I gradually started to piece together the events of his evening.

When he had finished the sangria he decided to take a little trip into town stopping at the rodeo bar for some budget vodka and red bulls, as there was a buy one get one free offer available. When he became bored he made his way towards the main town. As he passed the beach he was mesmerised when he saw a collection of sand sculptures. Some of the local guys spent their evenings creating amazing sand dragons and made their money from donations left by tourists when they took photographs. The dragons were extremely detailed and the artists even used lighter fluid and tea lights to create the impression that the dragon’s eyes glowed red and they breathed fire.

FFOMC asked one artist how he went about creating his impressive sand dragon. A little van selling cheap bottled beer, evidently provided some lubrication and FFOMC quickly learnt the tricks of the trade.

As the tourists started to leave the nightclubs the artist was totally inebriated and started to wobble home, requesting only that FFOMC kick in the sand dragons head so that photographs taken by any drunken tourists were of no value.

FFOMC protested saying that he could not possibly damage such a fabulous work of art but the drunken artist took no notice.

It was then that FFOMC was approached by tourists who asked “How did you make that?”

He assures me that he protested with the first few passersby explaining that the sand dragon was not his own work. But as the questions kept coming, he removed his shirt, placed it by his side with some loose change on top of it and started to repeat word for word what the artist had told him.

When he eventually decided to return to the hotel as the sun started to rise and his passing trade dried up he fell into a barbed wire fence cutting his cheek and ear.

Judging by the number of coins I discovered in his pockets – he made a lot of money that night but I dread to think what he spent. He became a bit of a holiday legend with all of the reps repeating his story in the coaches on various day trips to entertain our fellow travellers.

We have had much less drama on subsequent holidays and I hope to continue this trend in the Dominican Republic. But the story of James and the Dragon will always be part of our shared history and will no doubt be a witty anecdote to tell at dinner parties for many years to come.

Best shopping trip of the year!

27 07 2013

Shopping bags

Today FFOMC and I went on our annual shopping expedition to purchase the necessities for our summer holiday.

This traditionally starts with a visit to a range of local economy stores to purchase vests and tank tops, skirts, dresses and swimwear.

Then we move on to buy our sun cream, after sun, miscellaneous toiletries and of course sunglasses – which FFOMC loses each year making it necessary to buy replacements every 12 months.

I love this shopping trip. Not only is it one of only two trips that we are guaranteed to make together, but we also have a pub lunch and discuss at length our plans for our two weeks together in the sun and life and its many complexities.

I love the anticipation of a foreign trip. We love our time together and all that entails; for us this means, in no particular order: welcome drinks, travel, the sun, the beach, experiencing other cultures, towel animals, evening entertainment, excursions, cocktails, applying sunscreen and after sun to one another, getting a tan, swimming pools, meeting new people, aqua aerobics, synchronised swimming, BBQ’s and beach grills, sand on our toes, waves crashing, long romantic walks, flip flops, amazing views, swim up pools, reading a dozen books, all inclusive, food, drinks, water sports, amazing waiters, snuggles, air conditioning, balconies, postcards, discos, sunsets, ancient ruins, water polo, traditional dance, museums, hammocks, drinking from a coconut, palm trees.

I cannot wish my summer holiday away but I am really looking forward to our next adventure together in 12 days!

Agent Zehira

25 07 2013

secret agent

Following his attempts yesterday to fill my summer days with housework and chores; FFOMC came up with a more creative way of leaving me today’s task –  although I found this one much less objectionable than yesterday’s list of dull cleaning jobs.

I woke up to find a letter marked TOP SECRET for the Attention of AGENT ZEHIRA.

Marked as classfied it read:

It has come to our attention that today is HDAY.

Your mission should you choose to acept it, is to track down and book a top secret location to secure as our base of operations from 8th August until 22nd August.

The location must be safe from Pygmes and preferable in a Carribean location.

This message will self destruct in 5…4…3…2…1…BOOM!!!

Mission Accepted! Dominican Republic here we come!


Project: Book Summer Holiday

2 07 2013

raising moneyProject “Summer Holiday 2013” is in full swing.

Usually FFOMC and I book our summer holiday in January as a way of beating the Winter Blues. But this year for a host of reasons – I wont bore you them – with we have delayed until now.

Having realised just how close the summer break is, I decided on Saturday that the time had come to book. You may have realised from previous posts that although I take my time to make decisions – once a decision has been made I expect results immediately!

We found the perfect place, just within our budget, adult only, all inclusive for a fortnight. FFOMC then threw a spanner in the works when he revealed that his confidence in his ability to book any time off that he pleased, was just a tad niave.

I waited with baited breath until he got home on Monday evening to make our booking. But as I updated the intrenet booking forms, the little extra costs started to mount up. I started to reconsider just how flexible my plastic wallet friend actually is, especialy this early in the month.

The problem is not lack of funds as such, but more getting access to these funds at a moments notice.

Holiday plans are currently pending and I am growing increasingly frustrated as the desire to book our next great escape mounts.”

Delayed Gratification

29 06 2013


I have never been good at delayed gratification.

When I decide I want something – it has to be NOW.

Spurred on by my sisters departure in the early hours of the morning to a much anticipated family holiday I decided to finally go ahead and book my own summer vacation with FFOMC.

We picked the destination we wanted, found a hotel with terrific reviews, established that we could book the dates we wanted and were lucky enough to get a late booking deal.

Iwas at the point of selecting my seat on the online image of the plane when FFOMC (who had previously assured me that he could pretty much take his leave at any time) chimed in with, “I better just check with my boss”.

I have decided that his boss is a bit of a meanie pants. Despite his confidence that the dates we had selected were fine, he aparently needs to check the calendar on Monday.

I am officially sulking.