I Do Not Like Green Papers Ma’am. @PennyMordauntMP

This article from The Disability News Service is a pretty accurate reflection of the state of the UK right now.

Having openly disregarded out of hand the findings from the UN that they are guilty of “grave or systematic violations” of the human rights of disabled people, our government is looking into making anyone claiming disability benefits meet regularly with an “employment coach” (read careers advisors with powers to take away your money). Now whilst this has been presented as helping people with disabilities get back to work, this will apply to anyone who isn’t in an institution. Read people needing physical care at home, people suffering a mental health crisis, people in constant relentless pain. People who can’t always fight back.

As someone who is negotiating a reduction in hours to hang on to what physical & mental health that’s left, this is scary. The argument behind insisting that people with disabilities work is to give a purpose and improve mental health. Well my dear Tory MPs, let me give you some cold hard facts.
I love my job, but pushing through regardless has directly caused some very dark thoughts. And I am infinitely lucky to have the husband that I do because he listens every time I need to shout my frustrations at the world. Most people wouldn’t have the patience. (You, by the way, don’t deem him to be a carer despite dressing me every morning, helping me bathe, cooking for me, & cleaning. why? Because he does all of this AND holds down a successful job. Sounds fair, yes?)

Despite holding on by my fingernails, I work partially because I’m too scared that the state won’t catch me if let go.

A day of work leaves me with levels of pain that regular strong painkillers & morphine don’t touch. This is not “oh, take a nurofen & have a glass of wine”. This is unbearable pressure on my spine, deep bone pain in my joints to a level where without painkillers I’m physically sick. Now tell me how running your second home paid for out of Government coffers gives you a headache…

A day of work leaves me so exhausted that I can barely hold a conversation with my children. (I am eternally thankful for my husband & our parents who take care of the important kid stuff). 

Physical pain takes a mental toll. I’ve lived my life as a pacifist, but I wish every MP who thinks this is a great idea could live for a month with these daily pain levels. Of course, they’d need to carry on with their current lives because why should we be cut any slack? It does you good to be at work after all.

Since I went downhill 18 months ago, I’ve been asked on 4 separate occasions by government employees (DWP, Social Services, & Occupational health ) “do you think about killing yourself?”. Always matter of fact, like it’s a reasonable conclusion to draw because EDS doesn’t have a cure & no one knows how to effectively manage the pain. 

Putting aside the wholly inappropriate nature of assuming that someone with a disability would consider death preferable to their current situation  being permanent, the answer has always been no. Until I started trying to work through another physical dip this September. So here I am trying to negotiate putting my health & family before my job. Because, dear Tory MP, it’s not a job that gives me a reason for dragging my arse out of bed despite it hurting to breathe a good percentage of my days. It’s my family. I make a difference by bringing up two beautiful & well educated children. By growing old with my husband and reducing my financial burden on the NHS by taking care of my health.

You can try & strip away disabled people’s dignity in the name of austerity whilst you pander to large corporations who pay less tax than I do, but in the end you’ll be seen for exactly what you are. Hopefully by the general populous, but better still, I’d love to be wrong about the whole religion thing and see you meet God at the pearly gates and ask you directly, “DID YOU DO UNTO OTHERS….?”.
Note: I have started my official response to the green paper, but the form is so long and poorly worded that it is testing the limits of my speech to text. It’s almost as if they don’t want responses…

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The Courage of Young People

Much has been made in the news today about the discovery of a body inside a well in London by a pair of gardeners. Interestingly, what has been glossed over is that the young man who discovered the body and raised the alam was just 17.

Look carefully at these young men.

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Picture source: http://bbc.co.uk/news

At first glance, you could put them down as a couple of young people, or ‘hoodies’ as the government so loves to call them. They look and dress like so many young people that are berated and demonised. In a group, you may not want to approach them.

But these two men, raised the alarm upon finding a body. By all accounts they have suffered some serious mental trauma from this experience. The last thing you expect when gardening is to find human remains. But. They may well have instigated the process of putting an entire family’s grief to rest. They may be the catalyst to ending many months, or even years of suffering. They did a good deed that will grow far greater that the initial act itself.

My point here is don’t judge all young people as terrifying hooded youths. These men (and after all, they are young working men) may not be in a uniform, but they have still acted heroicly. In the midst of a personal tragedy for one family, these men have shown on a national platform that young people are, just like the rest of us: mostly, law abiding, good people.

We should make more of young people who undertake positive acts. The more public these people are, the more likely they are to become role models. Who does the majority of media, school and parental attention go to? Is it the positive young role model?

BBC story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24979959

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto….

So, we’re predicted a storm tonight. The Uk’s weather is fairly bland and mild all year round so when something unusual happens, we do like a good panic. (I will of course eat my words should I be blogging in a few days in post apocalyptic Britain).

Despite my gut feeling that panic is not required, we do live right on the South Coast (like less than 10 minutes drive from the sea. Accounting for traffic), so probably ought to take heed of the official warnings like out stuff away, expect power outages, buy some candles & torches, charge your phones etc. I’m not intending to try any last minute kite surfing despite the offering of 80mph winds here, but you just know someone is going to get themselves a Darwin Award later.

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I’m guessing the point at which they give the storm a name it’s worth paying some attention. But the St Jude Storm? Really? The patron saint of depression and lost causes! Why is there even a patron saint of depression??! The UK is already known for it’s miserable weather, so why make it official??

So what have I done to prepare for impending doom? Well…

  • There’s a storm lantern upstairs in case the kids wake up.
  • The garden stuff and bikes are all inside the sheds
  • There’s a torch in each bedroom.
  • We’ve eaten a nice warm dinner.
  • Kids were in bed on time so they get some sleep.
  • Kids have been reassured and given instructions to come into us if scared (I may regret that)
  • Candles are in easy access as are long matches to light them.
  • Electrics will be unplugged just in case of a surge
  • Panic has been dismissed.
  • Knitting has continued.
  • I may even give Breaking Bad another go this evening….

Ooh has knitting ever continued! Last night I reached the much desired 40cm of looooooong boring block colour for my jumper and got to start the sleeve. Ok, this is more block colour, but it requires DPNs which keep me on my toes and it’s growing nicely. I may even finish sleeve one whilst we watch the ‘subtropical storm’ (it’s not a hurricane as it didn’t start in the Atlantic. It’s not a cyclone as it didn’t start in the Pacific. Frankly I feel a bit cheated by the name. They could at least give it a proper name like …. Swirlydeathwind, or Stormnado. We could even go quite British with it and call it The Stoic Storm of Denial. That has a ring, no?)

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So in true stoic fashion….Further preparations for Armageddon this evening are a nice hot bath & washing my hair 🙂

Badger Badger Badger Cull?

There’s a tenuous link between bovine TB and badgers, so our politicians have come up with another vote winner… “I know! Let’s shoot the wildlife! [insert posh noise here]”.

Up to 80 per night. Poor badgers. So, for the record, I’m with Brian May on this one.

Woodies American Diner – Don’t Wait Ten Years to Go There!

Dear Americans, I don’t go too much on your politics, but OMG your food!

I had a total moment earlier after spending the whole day at the beach with the kids. That’s it! I’m not cooking! We’re going out for dinner, and I want to try American food!

I ought to explain that ever since LSH and I started dating ten years ago, we’ve driven countless times past a specific American style diner on the seafront and despite trying to go a couple of times (they were fully booked), we’ve never actually eaten there.

Well now we have.

If you live near Brighton, or actually happen to be in the UK (the hours of driving will all be worth it) Woodies Diner is somewhere you should not wait ten years to visit!

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The kids were mildly shocked that I’d suggested going out to get burgers and milkshakes and couldn’t quite believe their luck when they were given free reign with the kids menu (£5.95 for food, a drink and ice cream. Or £1 extra if they want milkshake).

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The staff were really friendly and we were kept entertained by looking at the various signed surf boards on the ceiling and the big TV with Grease playing on a continuous loop! (Ok, this is a very stereotypical 50s diner, but bear with me just wait til you see the food).

We started off with milkshakes (the kids ones are quite small) which were made without a hint of crusha. These were MILKSHAKES. LSH apparently makes weird faces when he drinks banoffee milkshake!

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The kids were delighted with their choices.

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TinyPants even waited until I’d taken the photo before demolishing the lot! (And some chili fries on the side)

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Then ours arrived.

Oh good god! How am I meant to eat that?! It was an 8oz handmade burger topped with onion rings, bbq sauce, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, and salad. It came with fries and onion rings on the side too!

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LSH had an equally amazing chilli burger which was the same 8oz burger topped with home made chilli. I am pleased (and slightly ashamed) to report that we ate the lot. Well, nearly.

We did also share a bowl of chilli fries between us.

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I was full. Properly need a little nap now full. And BeanPole was staring blankly at the tv while TinyPants looked close to food induced coma. It was clearly time for ice cream!

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It turns put they did indeed have room for ice cream. But then we proclaimed to as well, and shared this. It’s a Fudge Funday (chocolate, fudge & rum raisin ice cream topped with cream, toffee sauce and nuts).

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When we paid the bill, BeanPole announced to the waitress that she had found the place that she wanted to come for her birthday. She’s got good taste! Everything was fresh, well prepared and the place was clean and beautiful.

To top it off, they gave us a car sticker for the car! (Went straight in)

We got back home nearly two hours past the kids bedtime, tired and feeling a teeny bit sick. Suffice to say, the kids went to bed with no fuss at all with very full tummies and Woodies is completely to blame for any lack of special cuddles with LSH later. Far too full for any of that nonsense!

The (not a) Review of Catherine Bulling of @GypsyTreePhoto

This is my friend Catherine. Oh, and her husband. (There is a point to my post, I promise!)

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This is nearly her whole family.

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This is their latest addition (and you know what, I don’t reckon that she’ll be the youngest forever).

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Frankly, the idea of five children scares me, but she does it annoyingly well and is also holding down a creatively demanding job too! She’s the owner of The GypsyTree Photography. And it’s here, that I’m going to shamelessly promote her work. This isn’t a review, I am hugely biased. She is a wonderful friend and she and her husband are Godparents to my tiny people. But I do love (and mildly envy) her work. But I cannot claim to be an objective observer, but you can.

Catherine is “an award winning newborn photographer based in Sussex, UK” and she’s not shabby when it comes to sympathetic portrait work either. I don’t often post promoting stuff, but after an unconnected friend of mine came back from a shoot with Catherine earlier today raving about her, I thought some extra word of mouth was in order. And I’m proud of my friend.

So here’s some stuff I’ve learnt about her since we’ve been friends along with some examples of her work.

1. We’ve decided our kids were destined for each other since birth.

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2. She crotchets the most amazing hats. Then sticks them on babies (her prop cabinet is amazing).

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3. Her ability to recreate the world as we saw it through child’s eyes is baffling.

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4. There is no container that she won’t put a baby in (if it fits… And it’s safe!)
(I knitted those trousers!)

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5. She’s brave enough to work with children AND animals. Some might argue that this is one and the same.

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6. She puts questionable head gear on babies, but they never seem to mind…

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7. Some of the smiles she captures are just unfathomable.

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8. Her house is full of photography props, school photo prints, mounts and a husband who is set to work when he gets home!

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9. She can make some of the most active kids stay still just long enough to capture their perfect little personalities forever.

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10. I love her work. But I don’t need to convince you – it’s all here for you to make your own mind up!

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You can visit her website and read her blog at http://www.thegypsytree.co.uk (although I’m guessing you noticed that from the photos! Or you can view lots more of her work and catch up with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheGypsyTree