Thursday, 11 January 2018

Avoiding The Food Giants

how and why you should avoid the big 10 food companies
So about a year ago Joe and I began to get increasingly pissed off reading about large companies buying up smaller companies and essentially this leading to job losses. We then started to avoid Kraft now Mondelez. A short while after we made this decision I saw an infographic created by Oxfam that started to pop up referring to The Big 10 I chatted with this to Joe that evening and we decided that we were going to avoid the big 10. 

Initially we looked at one another and thought wow well we have decided to do this it is going to be tough and we sat to study the infographic more closely to see what we would be cutting out of our diet - the answer was not very much. One of the most obvious things when you look at this is that most of the food these companies are producing is overly processed crap - and no I am not pulling any punches today. With the odd exception they are feeding you nothing but junk. 

When we really looked we realised the only things we would miss were San Pelligrino, and I know that makes me sound like such a middle class wanker, and Marmite, (that is me not Joe). So there are other carbonated waters we can have and I am switching to Vegemite. With the exception of one Kelloggs product that Sebastian likes we are free of the big 10.

So why the exception with Kelloggs products, we feel that Sebastian only ever asks for the "mini cereal boxes" about 3 times in a year and he is allowed to have something kiddie and cute in his life and as far as the larger companies go we would be happy to pop them on the list of okay by us but we just don't eat their stuff ordinarily.
chickpeas how and why you should avoid the big 10 food companies
We have decided not be 'those' house guests. We have made a choice as consumers but turning up to other peoples homes and refusing half of what they offer you is just rude in our opinion so you can still invite us over. 

So why avoid them?
  • Large companies buy out the competition which is not great for the consumer
  • They promise that there will not be job loses but after a buy out there always is 
  • Huge conglomerates have to line the pockets of many many shareholders and this means that costs have to be cut somewhere often in food quality, job loses and workers rights.
  • Many of these companies have huge human and environmental infractions such as Nestle & Coca Cola, a quick search on Google will highlight these 
  • Most of these companies sell overly processed food and I prefer to know exactly what my family is eating 
  • Cutting out these foods will save you money in the long run
The fact is both Joe and I are not against big companies per sa and there are many industries where "the big boys" are the only ones with the requisite funds to plough into research and development such as energy. We also know that there are other evil if you want to choose a word, companies out there that are not food companies. Well yes we know that and we avoid other companies such as Apple and buy cruelty free everything but again that is our personal choice.
homemade pizza how and why you should avoid the big 10 food companies

How do we avoid them?
  • Buy ingredients and not convenience foods  
  • Buy local produce as much as possible
  • Look at alternative snacks such as keeping popcorn kernels in
  • Snack less, (this is something living in Paris taught me) we snack less so when we do we can afford more expensive crisps and biscuits from smaller local producers 
  • We are all busy so look into batch cooking to combat the loss in pre prepared foods you may have bought
  • Check online to see who the parent company is - you will be really surprised
I am going to update my archive pages to include a freeze ahead section so that you can easily find some great recipes. I will be adding more to this as time goes on also.
green beans how and why you should avoid the big 10 food companies
This is not the normal post from me but this issue is one we both feel strongly about on the grounds of our family's health and our socialist moral compass, we are big on workers rights and job losses in this house!

If you have any comments on this I am eager to hear them and if you agree, disagree or just think we have gone a bit woo woo here I am also eager not to exist in an echo chamber. If you are an independent food producer with a great moral code get in touch as I will be putting together a directory over the coming year. You do not have to be a super healthy organic producer just have ethics we can get behind and not be planning to sell out to one of the big 10.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

My Top 10 Interior Design Pet Peeves

my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
So I write a lot about the things that I love when I pull together a room or indeed when I look at the work others do, but let's cut the crap and talk about all the things that drive me crazy. Crazy might be an overstatement some merely make me raise an eyebrow but for the purposes of this post I will mostly be talking in a hyperbolic manner.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
1. Radiator Covers & Integrated Appliances

So I am going to dive straight in with one that I know will rub a lot of people up the wrong way as they are everywhere. Radiator covers and integrated appliances may seem like strange bedfellows but my primary reason for hating them is the same. I don't like disguising things. I believe that if an item serves a purpose in the room then it should be designed well. Okay items we use and put away don't count, like the vacuum, iron, frying pan etc. I am talking about the permanent integral room items. Perhaps it was the obsession with the Arts & Crafts Movement

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris 

I believe if you have a fridge say there is a fridge here, same goes for a microwave, radiator, you name it  have a well designed one. Obviously there are certain items, such as a washing machine that you might think well hey they are all as ugly as one another, that is where you have to make your design flare shine, make it work give yourself a challenge but stop filling your house with bland boxes that make people hunt for an hour just to find milk for their tea. 

I have one more point to raise and that is this, and you can't argue with me my husband is a physicist who works in energy, a radiator cover makes your radiator inefficient and with rising fuel costs that just seems like a silly item to make inefficient.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
2. Curtains That Are Too Short

Growing up, for the most part in the 80s it seemed like everyone had little faffy curtains that brushed the cil. There are many things that were popular in the 80s that we no longer do, throwing batteries into landfills, using teletext, listening to Bon Jovi, and by gum if we can quit Bon Jovi we can quit short curtains. In my opinion the only thing worse that really short curtains are ones that are a strange length bobbing around somewhere near the top of the skirting in no mans land. This is the rule; curtains should touch the floor or pool on the floor this is not up for debate. What about windows where that cannot happen I hear you say, (in fact I am imagining you saying this I can't actually hear you, that would be weird). Those windows above a counter top or a sink where they cannot reach the floor. Those places need to be dressed in a different way. There are many more ways to dress a window than sticking a curtain in front of it.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
3. Rugs That Are Too Small

This is such a common mistake, people buy a rug that floats around in the middle of the room and it looks awful, there is no way to say that in a kind way. There are also some other mistakes that are related to size you should consider. An example of this is the dining table, you have you small rug under the table, the chair are then half on and half off the rug, no no no. If they are on they should be on. The rug in my lounge is way too small, but it came from a smaller house and we have a slate floor and a toddler so there it sits until I save up for the rug I really want but it hurts my eyes and my soul every time I have to look at it.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them

4. Badly Hung Art

This is a two part pet peeve so brace yourself. Badly hung art for me is art that is either at the completely wrong eye line, usually way to high on a wall, or it is floating around in space. You don't have to go all out gallery wall all the time but you do need to think about the composition on the wall. A painting that is way to small for a large expanse of wall floating around on its own is doing more harm than good to the aesthetics of the room. Balance it with furniture, more art, lighting, a plant etc. Think about where your art is in relation to your view, if all of your art is on the same wall as your bed or the seating and all you look at is a blank wall something is wrong.

Part two is this pet peeve is generic nonsense. Posters from Ikea, Keep Calm And 'enter nonsense here', photo canvases, faux vintage signs, anything by Banksy. Try and buy limited edition prints or posters, original art, thrift store vintage, children's drawings or photos framed. You don't want to walk into someone elses home  and have it look just like yours do you?
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
6. Magnolia

Look you don't have to daub your walls with dark blue paint like I have you can go for a neutral pallet but do not under any circumstance put magnolia/cream or any derivative on your walls it looks awful. It is the nothing colour, it says nothing, it makes everything else in your room look bland and dull, it is like a disease turning everything around it boring and uninteresting. The colour of your walls is the base of your room, the backdrop for everything else, if that is wrong nothing else is going to pop no matter how hard you try. 

There are so many fantastic neutral option out there that do not involve magnolia. 
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
7. Incorrect Scale of Furniture

Here I am again banging on about how size matters and this time I want it just right, not too big, not too small. Too big tends to be the more common mistake when it comes to furniture. You see it in a showroom or you even look at the dimensions on line and go as far as measuring if it will fit in the space. The trouble is measuring if something will fit across the width of your room is not the same as seeing it in full on 3D when it is dominating the room. The fact is you have to work with your room. If your lounge is small it is small you can still get all of the things you want but be smart about it as having to side step around the coffee table to leave the room is not fun and it does not look great either. If your bedroom is small it just is and a king size bed will just have to wait.

You can also go too small but having said that I see this with rugs but not as often with furniture but you should keep in mind scale at all times. Size matters people never forget it.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
8. Being Too Matchy Matchy

For those of you who live in the UK and watch the Great Interior Design Challenge you have probably heard Daniel Hopwood use this phrase at least twice an episode.It is a tricky one to define because it can be misinterpreted as filling your house randomly with things that do not make a cohesive style. The main thing to avoid is buying room sets, walking in and buy a set of things or creating a theme that is very twee like look here is our butterfly room with butterfly curtains and butterfly cushions and butterfly art. The best way to demonstrate is with images.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them
9. Not Enough Cushions

You buy the sofa, they offer you the two cushions to place either end of your sofa that match the sofa you have just  bought. Stop! Don't do it it is a pet hate of most interior stylists to have a home that is too sparse of cushions. Mix patterns and colours and add personality to your sofa. As I am waiting to re upholster my sofa I have decided to go zero cushions until I pick a colour of the sofa rather than going minimal cushions.
my top 10 interior design pet peeves and how to avoid them

10.Poorly Laid Out Rooms

This covers a whole host of mistakes such as; pushing all of the furniture against the walls, arranging all the seating so that it stares at the TV, blocking off alcoves that have nothing in etc. Think about the flow of the room, think about how you need to comfortably move around the space. Don't be afraid to let go of furniture, if it does not fit it has to go this is not time for hording. Also know when you can break the rules, for example in the kiddos playroom, apart from one area most things are against the wall or close to it as I wanted to create a huge playspace that could be used in a variety of ways for the kiddos, space for trains and games to be set up and put away. I made sure that it didn't look awful by creating different  heights, creating zones around the room, playing with lighting and having open displays and storage to create interest.

please note I have added photos of the world and our homes as they should be because who needs ugliness on their blog


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Tray Bake Apple Cake

A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
When it comes to preserving my harvest I am always on the look out for new recipes but I knew I had more than enough jam and chutney so I needed a new way to keep the apples in use. The disclaimer being these are not my apples. My trees had two good years and this year was awful, around a dozen apples collectively from both trees and they were small. In true Facebook style I had a moan about this and my neighbours delivered a huge bag of their apples. I wonder if I post on Facebook that I 'need' a Tuscan villa one will magically appear?
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
I decided to make a cake that could be frozen so I could enjoy warm cake and tea whenever I choose, a vital part of making it through long dark evenings in the winter months. I thrive on sunshine and get likened to a lizard by my husband, who is awful with heat, but I do get quite thrilled by winter preparations and my favourite is Autumn - those colours! A fully stocked cupboard and freezer, candles, blankets and hot drinks. Yes Denmark may have cornered the zeitgeist market with the whole hygge phenomenon but for most of us, well me certainly I read the books and thought oh so what I do every winter then. My house is filled with candles and blankets. Joe is worse than me and neither of us can pass up a new blanket but guests love to be sat around the wood burner swathed in blankets. Do you have any rituals in your home to help you prepare for the winter months?
Keeping children, (and myself), away from eating cake batter is one of the main baking challenges we face in our house.
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from

you will need;

450g apples
220g butter 
1tsp vanilla paste 
juice of 1 lemon 
2tsp masala chai powder
200g golden caster sugar 
350g self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs 
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from

  1. Pre heat the oven to 160C and line a deep baking tray with parchment.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  3. Slowly add your eggs and flour alternately. Once the eggs are combined add the remaining flour, baking powder, milk, vanilla and masala spices.
  4. Peel and slice your apples you want them reasonably thin but not wafer thin. cover the apples with the lemon juice.
  5. Spread a layer of mixture into your tray. It is sticky so it will not be even or precise but that is fine the recipe is forgiving.
  6. Next layer your apples. Then continue to layer apples and mixture until you end on a layer of mixture. Sprinkle with
  7. Bake in the centre of your oven until a dark golden brown colour and all the cake mixture is cooked.
  8. When cooled turn out of the pan and cut into 12 squares. 
  9. If you want to freeze them do so now on an open chopping board. Once they are solid you can transfer to a freezer bag. Simply defrost for a couple of hours or warm through in the oven.
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
A simple freeze ahead tray bake apple cake from
This is a great winter cake and not too sweet. It is so nice to have instant homemade cake to hand in the freezer. I have 4 of these in the freezer now!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Mixed Nut Sourdough Sticks

how to make nutty sourdough at home
I have a distinct memory of when I first left home walking around the supermarket filling the trolley feeling very grown up and then suddenly looking down and realising that 90% of my basket contained bread, bread products and cheese. Not really anything to create meals, and I was way over budget. Well decades later I still find it hard not to just eat bread and cheese, who wouldn't? Well those who are gluten and lactose intolerant but deep down they want to, they just can't. With food costs rising now is the time to start making it yourself and there is something really satisfying about homemade bread. I am not talking about those horrid bricks that come out of bread making machines, they hurt my soul I am talking about good honest bread. If you are a little nervous or have had worries about bread rising then this recipe is perfect as it is very forgiving.
how to make nutty sourdough at home
how to make nutty sourdough at home
how to make nutty sourdough at home
I love how involved with cooking and the blog in general Sebastian has become. He is so engaged and I really like our time together in the kitchen. It is also really educational too. He weighs and measures and asks questions that I either answer or we look up together such as; why does yeast make things rise, why do onions make you cry, how do you make butter? I wonder if little Humphrey will be into cooking? It is exciting and nerve wracking in equal measure wondering what sort of little guy he will become.
how to make nutty sourdough at home
The recipe calls for sourdough starter I learned everything I know about sourdough starter on this site Wild Yeast.

you will need;

75g sourdough starter
250g wholewheat bread flour
170ml of water
150g chopped mixed nuts
6g sea salt
 how to make nutty sourdough at home
  1.  Place all of the ingredients into a mixer with a dough hook and kneed for around 2/3 minutes. Alternatively Mix all of the ingredients together and turn out onto a floured surface and kneed for around 5 minutes. I have adjusted the time due to my assesment of my hands and arms compared to the dough hook on the kitchen aid but it is not an exact science more a black art. The dough should be smooth and elastic regardless of the kneeding method.
  2. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl clean it and lightly oil it. Place the dough back into the bowl to prove. Place a damp tea towel over the bowl. 
  3. Set a timer and kneed the dough for about 15 seconds every 15 minutes an hour.
  4. Tip out your dough onto the baking sheets you plan to use and for 'breadsticks'. Cover lightly with oiled cling film and leave overnight. They will grow so think about the spacing and size of your stick.
  5. Pre heat the oven to 230C and bake for around 30 minutes. Serve warm.
You can try adding other things into the mix, I keep thinking about dark cocoa nibs in with the nuts.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Foodie Friday At Haigh Hall

days out in lancashire

Growing up my mum did not drive but that never stopped us gallivanting all over the country for day trips. Those were the days when bus and train tables meant something and set your watch by them, well almost. One of the trips we made was to Haigh Hall, in fact we went a number of times. I remember the little train, the hall itself and rolling down a big hill, on purpose I hadn't fallen. Well then time moved on and I grew up, grew older and forgot all about it, I forgot about Haigh Hall. Then many years later my good friend moved to a house not far from it and we decided to exploit one of the 5 days of actual summer we got this year and went to explore the woods. I was no longer a little girl running towards the little train I now have a 3 year old and a new baby. We walked through the woods all the way past the Hall to a fantastic new playground and renovated courtyard where we enjoyed a very fine ice cream indeed.

In a stroke of genius in my opinion Wigan Council decided to invest in Haigh Woodland Park and it has certainly paid off.  It is such a positive move to realise that it is only through investment in our local assets that communities grow and prosper and despite this summer being so wet the number of visitors to the park has substantially risen and it is not hard to see why. 
days out in lancashire
The Hall itself has been renovated and turned into a hotel and although I am only an hours drive away from the park I cannot help thinking how lovely it would be to sleep in an historic building and wake up in such beautiful surroundings. The playground is lovely and suitable for all ages, even non walkers. We did not visit it as Sebastian is too small but they do have a high ropes course, perhaps when he is older and if I can calm down being such a helicopter mum! The little train is still there on weekends and Bank Holidays and is very sweet.
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
Behind the Hall the old stable block has been revamped into a 'Kitchen Courtyard', there is a really nice mix of local owners and producers. A bakery named, wait for it, All You Knead, those who know me know I love a great pun almost as much as I love cheese and I love cheese more than the air I breathe. The courtyard also houses a micro brewery and pub, a chocolate shop, a florist, a farm shop and a very nice cafe.
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
Cook & Forager, the farm shop are quite special. They began life by placing rare breed pigs into woodlands, one of those woodlands is the Haigh Woodland Park, when a space became available in the courtyard they created a farm shop where they not only sell woodland bred pork but a range of meat and produce that is souced from a 25mile radius. The tenants of the Kitchen Courtyard have pioneered Foodie Friday. Foodie Friday invites local street food vendors to join them for an evening of eating and music in the lovely courtyard. On the Friday the we went even the constant rain did not dampen the spirits of the vendors or the foodies who had flocked to the event.
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
It always amazes me that even in the cold and wet Sebastian found it the ideal time to enjoy an ice cream, before settling down to a sausage on a stick. I managed to eat my fill from Ruby's Kitchen whilst Joe sampled a burrito and nachos. I was very tempted by the Poutine a French Canadian dish - for those fellow Yorkshire folk it is cheesy chips and gravy. Pretty fancy cheesy chips and gravy, they did look amazing but my stomach could only take so much, next time!
days out in lancashire
Everyone was so friendly and all of the food vendors were happy to talk about their food and really engaged with the little ones. We left very full and happy despite being a trifle damp, Sebastian said; "I had lots of fun at the party Mummy". He did not fall asleep in the car on the way home as planned but you can only have so many parenting wins I suppose.
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
days out in lancashire
Speaking of next time there are a number of events between now and Christmas so you can go and see for yourself how great the park, grounds and food is for yourselves.

Oktoberfest - Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October
Haigh Artisan Market & Grow Your Own Sunday - Sunday 15 October
Haigh Foodie Friday - Friday 27 October
Haigh Foodie Sunday - Sunday 26 November
Christmas Artisan Market - Sunday 3 December
Festive Foodie Sunday - Sunday 17 December

They also have some other events coming up, including some great family days out.

Halloween Pig Tail Trail - Saturday 28 October - 10.00am and 12.00pm slots (Jack from Cook and Foragers leads a walk down to the pig pen within the woodland to learn all about the Conservation Pigs on site)
Boomin' Family Firework Spectacular - Sunday 5 November (includes Trolls children's show and National Fireworks Champions SM ART Pyro)
Urban Revolution Obstacle Course Race - Saturday 11 November (includes 5km, 10km and kids races)
Haigh Cyclo-Cross Cycling - Saturday 18 November
Children's Christmas Shows - Sunday 10 December
Christmas Family Drive In (Elf) - Friday 22 December How great would this be a drive in!

Disclaimer - I was invited to Haigh Hall as their guest to experience Foodie Friday however all of the words and opinions are my own.

Monday, 2 October 2017

My Home Birth Story

birth at home with a 3 year old
I have written extensively about my struggle to get a child so when Sebastian arrived I was the luckiest lady on earth, I finally had my baby after 9 miscarriages. Then when I fell pregnant again I was not holding my breath, why? Well every woman's magazine has that story of how once your body has done it once it can do it again so when we lost that baby I suffered greatly and I wrote about my nervous breakdown here, to this date it is still my most viewed post which shows that there are so many of us out there who suffer similar experiences and we need to keep sharing and talking to one another.

When I became pregnant with Humphrey I was not calm. I was having continual scans in early pregnancy, I had a cyst that became quite painful and I could not allow myself to breath. It was not until I hit 32 weeks that I started to relax a little. All of this is my pregnancy story and really this is a birth story and my birth was a very different tale.
birth at home with a 3 year old
From very early on we decided that a home birth was what would suit us best as a family and my mental state. Sebastian and I prepared ourselves, we watched videos of ladies giving birth, this progressed to animals giving birth, (Sebastian became quite obsessed with the birth process). We made silly noises that he might hear from mummy, we talked about why blood comes out and it is not a bad thing and we spoke about the fact that mummy might poo in the pool, poo is comedy gold dust when you are 3! He even started to sit on one of his balls to help get his baby out.
birth at home with a 3 year old
There I was 41 weeks and still this baby was not here. I had dug the garden, cleaned the house, eaten my body weight in pineapple but all I got was an hour or two of contractions and then stopping. I felt the need to push this along as I was exhausted and not sleeping more than an hour or two a night. So I visited my doula, who is also an acupuncturist for a natural induction, as she put it a strongly worded invitation to baby. The next day I saw my community midwife for a sweep and I had another session of acupuncture. At this point I went home and gave myself a mental tidy, I was ready. I showered, I fed myself my favourite array of carbs and popped some detective shows on whilst I relaxed in bed.

At 9pm I lost my 'show'. At midnight on Thursday my waters broke and I was having contractions every 20 minutes. Nothing to painful but I was excited, I was so ready for labour. Everyone had filled my head with tales of second babies being a lot faster out of the gate than baby number one so I called the birth centre as a heads up so they sent the midwives round. After they arrived everything slowed down, they left and told me that obviously now my waters have broken I was at more risk of infection so I would be advised to transfer to hospital in 24 hours unless things had sped up. Try as you might to make yourself calm it never quite works, so I sent Joe back to bed, popped my hypno birth cd on and tried to get all the right hormones flowing again.

At 6.50am Friday I went for the biggest most disgusting poo of all time at the very same time my three year old woke up and my friend arrived who was about to spend the worlds longest playdate with my son, he is 38 but very good at blocks and silly voices. All of this activity angered my uterus and labour slowed down again. I was like a caged animal, I paced the house, I ate food, I listened to yet more hypnobirth until I felt the need to kill this poor woman on the cd; "if she tells me to relax once more I will kill her", so I swapped to my spotify list and sat on the birth ball. We, (my uterus and I) were back in business.
birth at home with a 3 year old
At this point I became nervous about upsetting the apple cart, I was nervous that if anyone else came over everything would stop again. At 2pm Friday my Doula, Helen arrived, at this point my uterus saw her as a friend so did not stage another protest. By this point contractions were in full swing, I was breathing through them whilst bent over my ball. I was still heavy snacking. It was so wonderful being at home and saying I fancy cheese on toast and a vimto and it would appear! Joe became a towel laundering maniac. Sebastian popped in and out to visit, it was bliss. Listening to music, seeing Sebastian and hearing him playing upstairs kept me focused on the fact that a new little guy was going to be in my life soon.

Everything was going so well so I did not want to slow matters by getting the midwives back too soon or indeed getting into the pool. Helen could see me calculating Friday traffic and contraction times and simply said, "stop left side braining, you have got this, go with your gut" - I kinda love this woman by the way. I did and the pool started to be filled, I got in at the exact right time, the midwives arrived exactly when needed. I started to feel a bit pushy, just bearing down but I knew the end game was in sight. Once in the pool I became a little petulant, I cried because I wanted a cup of tea, the midwives said I could have one which just resulted in more tears as I declared "not now on the sofa with my baby!" Only in Yorkshire eh!
birth at home with a 3 year old
Now let me talk a little more about my doula. I have a friend who is a doula so I was aware of it as an occupation but I hand on heart wondered why would anyone need one? Are there not going to bee enough strangers watching you poop and seeing the demise of your lady bottom without inviting another one in? My community midwife team were amazeballs but there was a contrast between their care and the hospital, the team there were determined to medicalise my birth. I am normally quite fiesty but when I am pregnant I am a special kind of vulnerable and so a few people suggested I find myself a doula. As it happens I had met one on an unrelated acupuncture matter and she was also a doula. During the pregnancy it was really helpful for me to talk through the fears with someone who was only there for me and my benefit, no medical agenda. Helen supported me when Humphrey continued to turn and was a traverse lie and a c section was on the cards. This was all fab but I was still unsure as to how the actual birth would play out.

Helen arrived when things were in full swing again and I was happy to use the ball and breathe through the contractions, she actually said she had not seen anyone so excited to be in active labour before. It was important to me at that stage not to focus on the labour apart from during a contraction, she was great at engaging in my random conversations which helped me not obsess about the next one. As they suddenly became stronger she read the situation and advised I rest in between. You see as supportive as your partner may be these women have seen a lot of births so she instantly picked up on the transition where as Joe and I did not.
birth at home with a 3 year old
When in the pool the midwives arrived and there were two pivotal moments for me the first was the request for me to leave the pool for VE. At this point I could not articulate my wants and needs fully so all I could muster was "I don't want to get out", Helen was able to translate this to a rational conversation with the midwives asking if it was essential and processing that for me. The second moment was after I consented to an examination in the pool I bucked and screwed my face in pain and instantly Helen asked if that was a stop, all I had to do was nod. I am an utter control freak, my lists have lists, my water intake is monitored in a journal, I micromanage every and all situations so it was life changing for me to be able to let go, focus on pushing my baby out and know that I was still in charge. Helen read every signal, and instinctively knew when I needed encouragement, a drink and space and she co ordinated my wants and needs so I didn't have to. She also, at my request took care of Joe, who does not take pain or blood lightly and has a tendency to worry, she was able to calm and reassure him when I was in no fit state to. I went from not really understanding a doula to thinking they should run the UN as we would have world peace.

Once I was pushing time went wonky and I was convinced I had been at it for hours and was going to be transferred, (this was not the case). I was so glad I was left to find my own positions in the pool and I could feel the hair on my babies head - he was half a finger away from being in the world, being able to do this was such a motivator. Once his head was out I had a struggle with the shoulders a few pushes in that position was not working, I picked an odd lunge position, (or so I am told), and he was earth side my beautiful perfect little guy. 
birth at home with a 3 year old

After some placenta pushing, and getting out of the pool I was snuggled on the sofa with my baby, at home with a cup of tea - bliss. After the birth, in fact for weeks after the birth I felt like I was a mighty warrior, I felt as though I wanted to shout "I AM XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS HEAR ME ROAR" or "MY VAGINA COULD TOTALLY TAKE YOU IN A FIGHT". The long and the short of it was I was pretty pleased with myself and worry that it is possible to become addicted to birth. Seriously I have had some heady club days but the stuff your body pumps into you is off the ziltch natural high all the way. Two hours later I was reading Star Wars - no rest for the wicked.
birth at home with a 3 year old