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I have always been a huge fan of breastfeeding, for health reasons, to bond with the baby and because it is a job only the mummy can do, which makes it so special and lets face it that is what boobs are for!
Unfortunately my experience of breastfeeding has not been a pleasant one so far. My daughter, who is now 3, was born in hospital and I tried to put her to the breast straight away but she fell asleep every time, the midwives just said give it time. After 24 hours she started to latch on which of course I was happy about, the only disadvantage being the excruciating pain! I went home and continued feeding her, sat on the couch, toes curled, moaning in pain, my husband had to leave the room every time I fed her because he couldn't stand seeing me in agony. I tolerated the pain and it seemed to become more bearable as the days went on, then she started screaming after I had been feeding her for about 10 minutes. Of course I didn't know what was wrong, the midwives again said give it time so I did. When my daughter got weighed she had lost a few ounces which is expected, but when she was weighed the week after she had lost weight again and it was the same the week after that. Luckily I had a very understanding midwife on this visit and she advised me to try part bottle feeding for the sake of my daughters physical, and my mental, health. My breast milk lasted until she was 8 weeks old, then dried up which was devastating.
It was almost the same story for my son who is now 7 months old. He was born at home which I thought might make the whole thing more relaxed and he took to the breast straight away which was fantastic. This time the pain was just as bad and it only took 3 days before I wasn't making enough to fill him (he was 9lb 9oz). This time, being a little more experienced I took it upon myself to start bottle feeding, without waiting for well meaning midwives to advise me, I refused to go through the worry of my baby losing weight all over again. My breast milk then dried up within 3 weeks which was no less devastating than the first time, but at least I was prepared.
I am now expecting another baby in April and will again try to breastfeed, you never know it might work for me this time.
I was 30 when my first child was born and was made to feel like a terrible mother when I couldn't feed properly, so I can't imagine how difficult it must be for younger women who are less experienced with children than me.
The pressure from the medical proffession and from other mothers is unbearable, if you can breastfeed your child succsessfully then congratulations, you don't know how lucky you are, but for those of us who can't please be understanding.
I live in a village near Blackpool so we manage to take our children to Blackpool zoo once or twice a year. The zoo has changed beyond all recognition in the last few years and I would never recognise it from when I was a child, the change is definitely for the better. I was a bit of an animal activist in my teens and when a group of us went when I was about 16, I left the place in tears because of the unnatural conditions the animals were living in, so when I had children myself I was a bit wary of going back, but I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The zoo is situated on East Park Drive, 2 or 3 miles away from junction 4 of the M55, just follow the signs, and is set in 32 acres of land.
It opened as a zoo in 1972.
There are more than 1500 animals at the zoo including primates, elephants, lions and tigers as well as birds, reptiles and farm animals.
You can have birthday parties at the zoo and you are provided with food, a birthday present and you get a creepy crawly experience and get to meet an elephant!
Just opened this year is the Dinosaur Safari, learn all about the different time periods and what creatures lived when.
There are also special events at different times of the year such as Halloween and Christmas.
There are talk and feed sessions all through the day for many different animals.
The zoo opens at 10 am every day and the closing times depends on the time of year.
Admission prices are as follows:
Zoo only Dino Safari only Zoo and Dino Safari
Adults £9.00 £6.00 £12.50
Children £6.50 £4.50 £10.00
OAP's £7.50 £5.50 £11.00
Family £27.00 £18.00 £39.00
(2 adults and 2 children over 3)
Children under 3 are free.
Blackpool zoo is a member of the following organisations:
European Association of zoos and aquaria.
European Endangered Species Programme.
The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland.
There are wheelchairs and pushchairs available at the entrance, highly recommended for anyone who cant walk long distances, the wheelchairs are free but the pushchairs are £3 plus a £10 deposit.
There are toilets at the entrance with disabled facilities and more in the café and at the picnic area.
The only baby changing room is at the entrance.
There is a large (expensive) gift shop at the entrance and 2 smaller gift shops on site (equally expensive).
The café is quite close to the main entrance and from what I remember quite expensive, there are small kiosks selling ice creams etc throughout the zoo, but I always find it best to take a picnic.
There is a pay phone near the entrance for those flat battery emergencies.
This only opened next year and it is the only thing about the visit to the zoo that I was disappointed with. You walk through the different time zones and look at and read about the different dinosaurs and plants that were around at that time. There are sound effects coming from the dinosaur models and smells coming from the swampy bits. The whole thing took about 10 minutes to walk round and none of us were too impressed, my 3 year old was more interested in the ducklings on the pond!
If you or your children are particularly interested in dinosaurs or they have a school project to do then this might be a worthwhile experience, otherwise I would give it a miss, far too expensive for what it is.
^^^^Especially for the Children^^^^
The childrens zoo is a mini farm where the children can touch some of the animals. There are rabbits, guinea pigs, hens, goats, donkeys and cows to name but a few (this is my favourite bit!).
The Creepy Crawly Experience is one not to miss (unless you dont like spiders etc). The children can hold and touch all sorts of creatures from spiders and snakes to lizards and stick insects, this is on every day at 4 pm, a nice end to the day.
Wild Learning is the zoo school and does many different sessions including classroom based courses for all ages, craft sessions and guided tours. These must be booked in advance, have a look at the website to look at the many choices. I havent experienced these personally but everyone I have spoken to about it absolutely loved it!
The train is a must to give those little (and not so little) legs a rest, it travels all the way round the zoo and you can get on anywhere. The only draw back is that I have only seen it running about half the times I have been, you are advised on the website to pre book this too.
Obviously the most important part of the zoo, there are many to look at, most are in nice environments, although a few look a bit shabby especially compared to the new parts of the zoo.
The giant tortoises are just inside the entrance and always seem to attract a crowd. They dont do very much really but are absolutely fascinating to watch.
The elephants are amazing but the enclosure seems a bit small for the size of the animal and the elephant house is extremely stinky!
The lions and tigers are beautiful but mostly just lie around in the grass, it is quite exciting though when the male lion starts roaring (and quite scary).
The gorillas and orang utans are fab and beautiful close up and there are loads of other primates too.
The sea lions are hilarious and I highly recommend the talk and feed for them.
Of course there are many other animals but just too many to mention.
Overall Blackpool Zoo is a lovely day out and the good bits more than outweigh the bad bits. It is a little bit expensive and I would definitely give the Dinosaur Safari a miss but if you live near Blackpool or come here on holiday it is definitely worth a visit.
Have a look at the website for loads more information on www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk
I worked for Whittard of Chelsea for 2 years, about a lifetime ago. I applied for the job of assistant manager because I had just been made redundant and the ad in the paper said Are you addicted to coffee?
.I thought yes I am, this is the job for me!
I couldnt even begin to call myself a coffee expert, but as part of the job all Whittards staff have to pass tea and coffee certificates, so I suppose this means I know a little more than the average person on the street about the subject. Also I really do love the stuff and have become a coffee snob since working for Whittards dont even get me started on flavoured, canned and instant coffees.
***A few coffee facts***
*Coffee is grown in many countries, the best climate for coffee growing is warm and humid so the best coffee comes from warm and humid countries (obviously).
*Some coffee growing countries are: Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Columbia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Ethiopia amongst others.
*Coffee is roasted for different lengths of time to suit the individual coffee and to increase/decrease the strength for example Jamaican Blue mountain is a light roast as it is a delicate coffee and any stronger roasting would just spoil it.
*Coffee is ground in different ways for different coffee makers, for example an espresso maker needs the coffee to be fine ground, while a cafetiere will take a more coarse ground coffee.
*Coffee beans will last longer than ground coffee before it starts to lose flavour as the oils evaporate faster once it is ground.
***How to brew coffee***
The easiest way is in a cafetiere.
*Fill your kettle with freshly drawn cold water and boil.
*For an 8 cup cafetiere use 3 scoops/desert spoons of medium coarse ground coffee.
*Once the kettle has boiled leave it to cool for a few moments as boiling water will burn the coffee.
*Pour the water into the cafetiere and leave it to brew for a couple of minutes.
*Stir the coffee and water and press down the plunger.
For the many different types of espresso/cappuccino makers on the market just follow the manufacturers instructions or pop into your local Whittards as they are always willing and able to give good advice.
***A bit about Whittards***
*The company was founded by Walter Whittard in 1886.
*They always strive to buy the best quality coffee that they can find.
*They have a fair to farmers policy (similar to fair trade) so that wherever possible the profit made from selling coffee goes to the growers, not the government.
*Whittards sell 18 different kind of coffee beans which you can buy whole or have it freshly ground in the shop.
*Coffee is sold in 125g, 250g and 500g bags.
*Prices for 125g start at £1.80, then £2.10, £2.50 all the way up to £9.50 for Blue mountain Jamaica!!
*They also sell flavoured and instant coffee(!), loose tea, flavoured tea and tea bags, hot chocolates, coffee and tea makers and a lovely range of china (as well as other things at different times of the year).
*There are over 100 Whittards shops country wide and 21 outlet stores in outlet centres across to country.
***Santos and Java***
*This is a blend of Java, for the rich smoothness and Brazillian for that coffee kick.
*It is a strong roast coffee to give it the darkness that is ideal for espresso and cappuccino.
*It has a thick smooth taste which is rich and dark without being bitter.
In my opinion to have a cappuccino made from Santos and Java coffee from Whittards is the ultimate cappuccino experience. You could almost do away with the chocolate topping as Santos and Java is so rich and smooth it is almost chocolatey on its own.
So make your cappuccino in your favorite way, froth your milk (semi-skimmed warm, not boiled) add a dash of chocolate sprinkles, put your feet up and wallow in the deep dark warmth of Santos and Java.
If, on the other hand you are a latte kind of a person, this is probably not the coffee for you. If you like your coffee sweet and milky, I would probably go for a Columbian or Costa Rican, but if coffee that bites back is your thing than Santos and Java is the one to try!
I started my love affair with Stephen King in Italy when I was 15. I was on a family holiday with my parents and younger brother and sister and, being a particularly stroppy teenager, the best way to cope with the horror of it all (free holiday in Venice!!) was to bury my nose in a book for a fortnight.
I had bought The Rats by James Herbert at Manchester airport on the way out there and having finished that within a couple of days I started looking around for something similar to keep me going. Stephen King's It was one of the few books I could find in English, and so my addiction began.
***The Great Man Himself***
I won't bore you too much with this as you can read most of this in any one of his books, but for those of you who like to skip straight to the story here are a few facts about Stephen King (SK from now on).
SK was born in 1947 in Portland, Maine, USA. His family were quite poor when he was growing up, his father, a budding author himself, left the family when SK was 2 years old. This left his mother to bring up SK and his older adopted brother on her own, forcing her to travel to find work to keep the family going.
Before he became a successful writer SK got a degree in English and became a high school English teacher while his wife Tabitha went to college to get her own degree. During this time the couple lived in a trailer with their 3 children Naomi, Joe and Owen.
SK's first novel Carrie was first published in 1973 and although it wasn't an overnight success it gave SK a foot on the ladder. This book started a rather unpleasant trend for SK where most of his stories end unhappily or at least with a sting in the tail (in fact I can't think of one book that has a completely happy ending..can anyone else?). In this case Carrie gets her revenge on her classmates but then dies herself (or does she?).
There are many stories based around children, possibly because the fear of the subjects of these stories is a very childlike belief in ghosts and monsters, which makes them all the more believable to us as adults. Some examples of those are:
*Firestarter-about a girl with pyrokinetic abilities,
*It-about a group of children battling a supernatural clown/monster,
*Desperation-about a boy with special powers who is up against an aincient evil spirit,
*The Body-a short story about a group of boys who take a trip to look for a dead body (made into the film The Stand).
A few of the many other subjects he writes about are aliens, rabid dogs, possessed cars, vampires, demons, other world gunslingers and many, many more. Most importantly he writes about people, good ones, bad ones, young and old, supernatural and bog standard normal. In my opinion this is what makes his books so appealing to people of all ages and walks of life. You can relate to his characters or at least empathise with them, you get drawn into the story so that you never want to leave and you feel like you have lost a friend when the story has finished.
Being an avid reader I love books, I miss books now that I have 2 young children as there just isn't the time to read anymore (well only Winnie The Pooh), so I can never enjoy the films as much as someone who doesn't read. I'm sure all avid readers feel the same, you disappear into the world of the book for a time, in a way you can never do in a film, and you spend the whole film comparing it to the book. Don't get me wrong there have been some fantastic films based on SK's books, my husband loves loads of them, but then he has never read one of the books so he is free to enjoy the film for what it is.
There are over 70 films based on SK's novels, short stories and interviews, including many sequels, some of them are spectacular and some of them absolutely dire. Some of my personal favorites are:
The Green Mile (possibly the only one I love as much as the book), Firestarter, It, Misery, The Shining and Carrie.
Some of the others are just too painful to watch and some bear only the vaguest resembalance to the book, so much so that I can't stand to watch it and no-one can watch it with me as I drive them mad!
Stephen King is not the best writer in the world even he would not deny that, but try not to be too critical and you could really enjoy some of his work. He has been writng books for over 30 years and he still manages to create a masterpiece every now and then. Not every book is up to a high standard, but people have different tastes and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. You will never know unless you try. To me the man is a genius and he has entertained (and frightend) me for more than half my life. Long live the King.
My mum always said that the only way she could get any peace when I was a baby was to hang me from a door frame all day, she said it kept me entertained for hours, I always thought she was joking until recently...
**Taking it out of the box**
There is nothing worse than opening a box, when you get home from a shopping spree, and a huge bag of nuts and bolts fall out. In the case of this bouncer that doesn't happen, Hallelulah!
It is really simple to assemble, only being in 2 pieces, you just hook the seat onto the frame and you are ready to motor. What a refreshing change.
It is made up of a sturdy plastic "y" frame attached to strong elastic which in turn is attached to a strong spring which you hang on the door frame. The seat is machine washable, has side fastenings and the straps which attach to the frame are height adjustable.
**How well does it work?**
It is relatively simple to put the baby in (depending on how wriggly your baby is). I have managed to secure both my children on many occasions without dropping them on their heads. The fastenings are velcro so easy to do 1 handed and the seat comes quite high up the body so provides good support, especially for younger more wibbly babies! The elastic and spring are so strong that you will never worry about baby bouncing accross the room, apart from the first few nervous moments when your baby discovers their bouncing legs.
*It is a bit fiddly to put your baby in on your own at first, becase you have to negotiate the shoulder straps and the baby tends to fall out sideways. My daughter was a doddle but my son was a lot bigger and more wriggly so much trickier.
*Because there are 2 height adjustable straps it is difficult to get them both at the same height resulting in a very lobsided baby (not that they are bothered) and I recommend you don't try to adjust them when the baby is in the bouncer unless you have Arnie type biceps!
*The spring to attach the bouncer to the door frame is very strong for obvious reasons, but if you are a bit feeble in the bicep area you may end up with scraped paintwork..you have been warned!
*They usually end up with dribble from chin to toes and on the floor too.
The Lindam Baby Bouncer has been an absolute lifesaver at times with both my children and I would highly recommend it to anyone who ever needs 10 minutes to do the washing up/have a cup of tea etc, despite the fiddly parts.