2 July 2015

It's a Boy!


 

Eight weeks ago today weighing a whopping 9lbs 1 oz my little boy Hugh entered the world. He was one week overdue and clearly in no great hurry at all as the contractions started on the previous Monday night yet he hung on in there for nearly 3 more days. The last 8 weeks have been a crazy merry-go-round of feeds, nappy changes, frantic googling of all things baby related and sleepless nights. But in between the madness I have to consciously make myself slow down every so often and savour these moments and this beautiful little baby that has swept through my life like a tidal wave because I know they will pass in the blink of an eye - albeit a sleepy one!

The labour was tough but as completely clicheed as it sounds the memory of the pain faded almost completely the second Hugh was handed to me. Though I do recall saying to my husband a few hours into the delivery that this would be an only child as I didn't think I could ever go through such pain again. But what other pain will you ever go through in your life that can end with such joy.

The contractions started on the Monday night and the labour became more of a marathon than a sprint with contractions coming anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes apart for the next 48 hours. They had to be 5 minutes or less apart for a prolonged period before the hospital would admit me. So for two days I pretty much writhed around in pain with gritted teeth while my poor husband held my hand, found mindless films on Netflix for me, ran baths and phoned the hospital repeatedly to implore them to admit me. One of the hardest parts of all this wasn't even the pain but the exhaustion as I couldn't sleep a wink at night.

At midnight on the Wednesday night the contractions suddenly exploded into regularity and a whole new level of itnensity and I was convinced I was going to have the baby at home. But we made it to the hospital though it ended up being another 14 hours before Hugh arrived! Despite wanting to have a natural labour I was so physically exhausted by this point that I had an epidural a few hours after being admitted. The feeling of relief as the pain ebbed away was unreal - and the labour itself was fine and pretty straight forward after that.

I don't think I'll ever forget or quite unravel the emotions that swept over me when the midwife finally laid a bawling, blue tinged Hugh on my chest and I saw him for the first time. It was like I had gone into auto-pilot during the previous few days, just taking one contraction at a time and not able to see beyond to the finishing line. In fact the whole pregnancy was a little like that - just taking one bout of nausea or tummy gymnastics at a time and still a little convinced I was imagining the whole thing as it just seemed so surreal to think there would be a real life little baby at the end of all this.

And 8 weeks later I still find myself doing occasional double takes when I see Hugh. Particularly after he's been asleep for a longer stretch at night or on one of the few occasions I've left him with my husband and gone out for a little while with friends. It's been a very intense learning curve. Starting with me buzzing for a nurse to help me change his nappy that first night in hospital after my husband had been sent home - I remember feeling so out of my depth being left in charge of such a delicate little creature. Yet somehow 8 weeks have whizzed by and I know my husband and I are doing something right when I see this roly poly little baby smiling up at me.

So now that I'm getting a little more sleep at night and making some attempt to get Hugh into a routine I'm hoping to get back into one here on the blog too. So hopefully you'll be seeing more of me around these parts.

3 May 2015

Edinburgh Guide Part 2: Shopping

What Edinburgh lacks in super-sized chain stores it makes up for in small quirky independent shops. It's got loads of cute jewelery stores, homeware shops, vintage and antiques treasure troves and art and stationery stores. So for a big and more general clothes hunt I used to hop on a train to Glasgow but for more unique stores Edinburgh is great. There are so many I loved but only a few I got around to photographing so make sure to check out the extended list at the end of this post.



  
Miss Katie Cupcake - 52 Cockburn Street

This is probably my favourite store in Edinburgh. It's teeny tiny - like a walk-in wardrobe - and absolutely jam packed with cute jewelery (think miniature tea cup and sugar pot earrings), frames and  accessories, art prints and all kinds of other pretty things. It's worth visiting just to admire how beautifully everything is laid out alone. It's like a magpie's nest full of beautiful shiny things.

 
  
 

  
Armstrongs - 81-83 Grassmarket (branches at 64-66 Clerk Street and 14 Teviot Place)

Armstrongs is the largest and probably best known of Edinburgh's vintage clothes shops. Their main store is in the heart of the Grassmarket but they have two other stores dotted arond the outskirts of the city centre which unfortunately I never visited but I heard have better stock as they get less traffic. Armstrongs in the Grassmarket is pretty cool though and definitely worth checking out. The prices run the gauntlet from very good value to a little on the crazier side but generally for the more elaborate vintage pieces. If you're looking for everyday vintage wear though they have a good range. And there's as much to distract above eyelevel as on the rails themselves - the high ceilings are home to lots of swooping figures, frill-tastic dresses and beautiful parasols.

 
 
  
Context Interiors - 40 Victoria Street

This is a really lovely interiors shop with some unusual finds. They have quirky cards and prints, old maps, mobiles, off beat furniture, phrenology heads and more. It's particularly good for finding gifts for guys and it's been my first port of call for pressies for my husband over the last few years.
  


  
The Red Door Gallery - 42 Victoria Street

The bread and butter of this shop is their beautiful art prints but they also have lots of gorgeous jewellery, cards and cute knick knacks. It's also in the Grassmarket and next to Context Interiors so on most Edinburgh visitors' routes. They have lots of Edinburgh prints too if you're looking for a more unique souvenir of the city.


 
  
Godiva Boutique - 9 West Port

Another huge favourite and regular haunt when I lived in Edinburgh, Godiva is divided into new clothes at the front of the store, including local designers and other independent labels, and handpicked vintage beauties in the back. There are also some cute jewellery and other accessories thrown in for good measure. It's at the end of the Grassmarket - just 5 minutes past Armstrongs.



Other Gems...


Studio One - 10 Stafford Street

This basement shop has beautiful and original homeware and gifts plus lots of beautiful retro-inspired toys.


Anthropologie - 39-41 George Street

Not exactly an independent shop I know! But it's one of my favourite chains and Edinburgh lays claim to one of the few branches in the UK so I'm just giving you the heads up. I love all their homeware even if my bank balance doesn't. Over two years ago when I took the train to Edinburgh for the interview for my job I stumbled across this store for the first time. I was so broke at the time but felt the interview had gone well so I celebrated by buying a mug - madness I know - and so an obsession was born.


Unicorn Antiques - 65 Dundas Street

This is my favourite antiques store in Edinburgh. It's maybe a ten-minute walk from Princes Street (the main shopping thoroughfare) and tucked away in a two-storey basement. The upper floor is crammed with smaller antique goodies but beware of any sudden movements or swinging handbags as everything is jammed in and teetering on the edges of shelves. The bottom floor has larger antique pieces and furniture and is definitely worth a look. There's so much to see here but with a bit of patience you'll inevitably spot loads of gems.


Hannah Zakari - 43 Candlemaker Row

Back in the Grassmarket on the other side of the city, Hannah Zakari is a slightly more spacious shop if the likes of Unicorn Antiques has left you feeling a little clausterphobic. This independent store features jewellery, cards and prints by local designers.


Herman Brown - 151 West Port

Another good spot for vintage clothes - and just a little further on again from Armstrongs and Godiva. It's well organised and the quality of the clothes is good. Admittedly I never came away with anything myself but it's definitely worth a browse.


The Frayed Hem - 45 Cockburn Street

And the last but not least of my Edinburgh vintage picks. Another nicely presented store with varied but good quality stock and some cute accessories too. My pet peeve with vintage stores is when the rails are so crammed you can barely pry the clothes apart - which thankfully isn't the case here. My husband also liked their range of men's tweed jackets! And they have a good selection of handbags, scarves and other accessories too.


****

These are just a few of the mainly independent stores I loved to visit and that I miss a lot now that I'm living back in Ireland again. If anyone has any more to add to the list please do - I'm hoping to pop back for a visit in August and am looking forward to revisiting my old haunts.

I still have some sightseeing recommendations to round up by Edinburgh guide so stay tuned in the next week or so - pending the arrival of my by now tardy baby (I'm 3 days overdue but have a feeling this baby isn't in any great hurry!).

27 April 2015

Oh Baby!


It's only 3 days till my due date and my head is swarming with a million and one thoughts. From excitement to labour fears to oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-be-responsible-for-this-teeny-person fears - I’m a little all over the place. You’d think 9 months would be enough of a gestation period to prepare me for my baby’s arrival but as in love as I already am with the little bundle squirming around in my stomach I haven’t fully processed that he/she is going to be stretching  themselves out very soon and lying in my arms.

So in an effort to try and make sense of the half-baked thoughts doing laps in my head I thought I’d try and articulate them here…

23 April 2015

Edinburgh Guide Part 1: Eating and Drinking



I've been wanting to put together a guide to Edinburgh for some time now to gather together all the amazing places I loved to frequent during the two years I lived there. It's quite a small city really but it's jam packed with so much in the way of things to do and places to eat, drink and be merry. Of all the cities I've lived in (and I've clocked up quite a few) it has the most variety in each of these categories.

So if you're planning a visit or may do so in the future then here's a breakdown of some of my favourite eating and drinking spots. I've tried to keep my suggestions to in and around the city centre where visitors are most likely to spend the majority of their time but if you're feeling more adventurous then Stockbridge, Leith and Morningside are all lovely neighbourhoods with lots of mouth-watering options too.