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Summer 2021

Another long overdue blog post! Oh well, I am currently following the motto “Do your best, leave the rest!”. So yes it’s halfway through November and the good news is that I have returned to work on a very slow “phased return”. I am working up to 20 hours by early December, and am up to 12 hours this week. Yup — 12 whole hours — which I spread out over Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. …I’ve got to push all negative thoughts and comparisons to my previous workload out of my mind, so spare me any sarcastic comments. I am literally climbing a huge mountain to return to my old self…! …it’s been such a crazy and awful time.

I’ve got limited energy and time, but I am determined to get through this post today… so where were we? Morgy and I flew to New Jersey in mid-July — it was an administrative nightmare to fly internationally with lots of additional paperwork, Covid tests, changing rules, etc etc. We got there though and I don’t really have the words to describe how it felt to see my family and get hugs from them. I sobbed and sobbed when I saw them in the airport.

The first week was spent getting a fancy blood test from a virologist (Dr. Bruce Patterson) which showed high levels of immune dysregulation characteristic of Long Covid. I then worked with an internist (Dr. Syed Haider) to get the medications prescribed which thankfully seem to be making a difference. It hasn’t been a miracle cure, but since starting them I have been able to go back to work which is a huge step for me.

The trip to the US was like no other because of my condition – I had to rest just as much as when I was in the UK, so my activities and ability to travel very far were really limited. It was really hard not being able to reach out to more old friends to see you in person — I hope you can understand! The trip was pretty low key and I am incredibly grateful to my family for helping to look after me and Morgy, especially while I was napping every damn afternoon. Huge thanks to Mom and Dad.

Here’s some photos, in no particular order.

Gramma Arizona, Uncle Doug and Aunt Elena with the boys in the backyard:

The cousins get together and our first chance to meet Ethan!

As ever there was so much delicious food — none of which I could really eat this time around… sob sob… (berries are fine of course but I really wanted to eat THE CAKE!)

Here is the next generation of cousins. In the old days, we watched movies after dessert but these guys are on various devices. Morgy doesn’t go on the tablet much, but if it wasn’t for Aled downloading Air Attack 2, I never would have survived the plane rides, sitting in the airports, or drives to and from the shore…!

Here we are at Van Saun Park, with Morgy’s favourites, the budgies.

Turns out I have something in common with the little fellas… my naps are just a little bit longer… (Covid I hate you!!)

And then there were some trips down the shore to hang out with Gramma Arizona, who just turned 91 last week! Her memory is going but thankfully she is still physically fit, and still able to drive to and from the hair dressers! Mom and Dad flew her out to Arizona a few weeks ago.

Here we all are – except Uncle Anthony who I don’t even have one picture of!! Sorry Tony!!

Here’s my Uncle Doug who is so good with Morg, Jack and Joey. Thanks for your watchful eye while I rested on the blanket and for all the moral support!

And my Mom — there’s not enough thanks Mom to you (and Dad!) for all your help and support — thanks for helping me make my “go to lamb stew” and getting me all those lamb chops!

Here’s the boys boogie boarding — they loved it!

And another day hanging out with cousins Vivi and Alejandro. It was so nice to hang out with Sonia (my cousin Chris’s wife) at the beach too — usually we only see these guys at cousins day!

Rarely seen — me in a bikini — first time in a bikini since before Morgy was born — hey I have to find the one upside of being so skinny?! Morgy said “Mom you look too naked”. I love this pic — Sonia you always looks so glamorous!

And here we are with Kim and Daniel, recently engaged — congrats guys!

Other highlights included a day at Turtleback Zoo which has changed SO MUCH since I went there as a child. A great experience for the kids with touch tanks…

Butterfly tunnels…

And giraffe-feeding… nice pic of Mom and Dad!

Also the boys did a ropes course first thing… I love these things too!

Here I am with my sister Karen suiting up for this. I haven’t got many great pics of us together from this trip — she and her husband Anthony are always working so hard, driving back and forth to New York City throughout the pandemic so we see don’t always get to hang out with them as much as we would like to when we come home to visit! Thanks K for calling to check up on me over the 2021! (I think she’s added me to her weekly patient call list — I really appreciated it!)

A couple of kayaking excursions and lake visits, first kayaking with me before it got too hot…

And later some fishing instructions from Grampa who is just fantastic at teaching Morgy various skills.

Here they go on a kayaking and fishing expedition! I really treasure the time they get to spend together during our visits.

And one last pic of Morgy at Lisa’s house – Lisa is one of my oldest friends from high school. Here’s Morg with her daughter Grace — what a riot those two were zooming around in this car. Grace was quite the fearless driver!

So that’s a taste for our time in New Jersey — apologies if I’ve missed anything out! Oh I will just post a few pics of wildlife… the deer population in New Jersey is totally out of control… here’s one in my parent’s backyard (which I hasten to add is bound by 6-7 foot high fences!).

It’s like going on a deer safari down in Toms River where my Gramma lives:

And check out this hawk which landed by the pool one morning…

And then it was back home to Wales where we had to isolate for a few days before doing a day 2 PCR covid test. Aled worked for one more week before taking a much needed holiday. We headed up to North Wales to see Uncle Ceri, Auntie Angela, Kate and Rachel.

It’s a lovely part of the world, especially when the weather is good! We had a nice hike up to a hidden campsite in the woods:

Even a short hike is tiring for me… here I am finding ways to nap while the kids played…

There was a very frightening moment here when Morg fell off the rope swing. He seemed to be holding his arm funny so we feared a broken wrist — then he fainted which was terrifying. Aled scooped him up and ran him down the mountain. We monitored him closely that day/evening and the next days and he was luckily totally fine. But it was very scary! Three new grey hairs at least.

Here we are at the pub later — no beer for me but I can eat the ham, egg and chips at British pubs so eating out is at least…possible.

Here’s a beautiful view of the mountains on the way home that evening — beautiful light:

The weather was amazing in North Wales for us — here we are the next day at Caenarfon Castle.

And then off to a beach in the afternoon where I rested while the kids played:

No trip to North Wales is complete without this lovely walk just off the A5:

Here’s Morg with Kate and Rachel in the lake — these guys play so nice together!

And of course a fire pit in the backyard — the next generation of Evan’s pyromaniacs in action:

Thanks Ceri, Ang and girls for such a lovely visit! And then it was off down to Pembrokeshire to visit Nanna and Taidi, with a stop at Cadair Idris on the way. Here is Morgy practicing his climbing skills on an outcropping:

In the old days, Aled and I would have hiked up and around the lake on the peaks above but I had to go so slowly we could really only make it up to the lake. The doctors in the US advised me not to do any exercise that would make me sweaty or get my heart rate over 100BPM and indeed I have noticed that pushing my body even mildly results in more nerve jolts/tingling in my limbs. I have never walked so painfully slowly in all my life — but I was so determined to do SOMETHING (ANYTHING!) I love and enjoy so I just went super slowly as Aled and Morgy zoomed up ahead.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for it, honestly we were so lucky to be there on a day so amazing!

Down in Pembrokeshire we did our best to help out Nanna and Taidi at Glan y Mor. My poor mother in law has been having a heck of a time in 2021, exhibiting signs of a stroke since about April… but no evidence of a stroke was found on the various scans, MRIs, etc. We have our suspicions that she has been impacted by the Covid vaccine. We are not anti-vaxxers but she had her booster a few weeks ago and seems to have seriously relapsed — so it’s hard not to wonder.

In any case, we are devastated to see her in such a state and did our best to help out in any way we could when we visited, as Glan y Mor is in its peak seasonal workload, with honey extraction, fruit picking, and managing the last few weeks of the holiday rentals next door. (read: lots of linen to wash and iron). It’s hard for both Ann and me to sit still as we’re used to doing so much all the time — it’s really not our style!

Here’s Morg learning some honey extraction techniques with Taidi:

And now the spinning:

…Aled and Morgy went for some bigger hikes — I only joined them for one slow walk up Dinas Head:

A pic of me and Aled:

A real highlight of the trip to Pembs was the dolphin boat trip near Cardigan. We’ve been meaning to do this for years but never managed so finally organised it this time around. We were really lucky in spotting two different groups of bottlenose dolphins (some of my favourite marine creatures!).

There’s also some amazing geology on the coast:

Check out this fantastic fold by a beach with lots of grey seals:

And that brings me near the end of this post… thanks for reading, and thanks again for all the messages, calls and general kindness during this challenging and scary time. It’s strange even to me to look back over this post. I look ok in these photos — healthy even! But I’ve never been so unwell in all my life!

I guess I’ve had my own eyes opened to “invisible disease” and frankly, the horror of having a condition that is hard to understand, to define, and to treat. Unbelievable and totally bizarre things have happened to me over the past 18 months – sudden new food intolerances, strange sensations in my abdominal organs, burning nerve pains and jolts in my arms, legs and torso, inability to think straight at times. Yet most of the diagnostics come back with “no abnormalities detected”. The mainstream doctors and consultants have provided little useful advice, and several have been quick to dismiss my symptoms as “anxiety”.

I know it’s very difficult for healthy people to understand this so all I’m asking (or suggesting!) is to be as empathetic as possible towards people with long covid or other similar plights. I have come to learn that there are lots of autoimmune and neurological conditions which may not be immediately apparent in someone’s physical appearance. But lots of people are suffering. Prior to getting long Covid, I literally had no idea what any of this meant in the day to day, or how significantly these conditions could impact a person — or their families who try so hard to help and support them.

I guess all I’m asking is to just try and walk a day in our shoes and understand the true impact. It is hard to imagine the suffering we keep to ourselves, or the amount of effort we are putting into stuff you may not even have to consider — like ordering food at a restaurant that won’t result in serious pain or physical damage to body parts. The amount of careful management of these conditions to even function at a basic level is astounding — the amount of joy that it robs from the every day unfathomable. It’s a totally different world and way of life, and it’s really crappy and frustrating to be putting so much effort into trying to just exist like a “normal person”.

The last thing I’ll say is that I’m going to carry on fighting, and putting every spare ounce of my energy and efforts into my recovery. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same person again — in fact, after enduring this for so long, I’m not sure anyone could be the same person they were before this happened. One thing is for sure though, I’m not giving up until I can eat a cinnamon raisin bagel with butter again — or go to ballet without getting nerve jolts the next day. Wish me luck and keep me in your thoughts. XOXOXOXO

Here I am – doing my best to keep smiling! Apparently the body releases all the same feel good chemicals even if you’re faking it.


The blur – spring 2021

I am emerging from the deep, dark cave that is Long Covid — I hope! But I don’t want to jinx it. The past 7 months have been a living hell – a nightmare in real life. No one wants to know all the details so I’ll just give a short summary and move on to the brighter moments.

I last wrote in early February 2021, about 4 weeks after we had “acute Covid”. At that point I felt like I was actually improving, but I didn’t know what was yet to come. In February I started having lots of awful neurological strangeness — burning sensations in arms and legs, overwhelming fatigue and “brain fog”, and one night I even woke up and couldn’t feel my right leg. It was terrifying. I was also combatting an insane sort of insomnia — not your usual “I’m a little anxious so I couldn’t fall back to sleep at 2am”. I was up at 12, 2, 4, and 6 — sort of like the first 8 weeks of motherhood, minus the infant.

Off I went to the neurologist whose initial examination ruled out “serious” neurological problems. The brain and neck MRI thankfully confirmed I didn’t have MS, a stroke, or brain damage — which was great! — but he didn’t know what it actually was. He concluded I had “post viral syndrome” and basically discharged me. By now, I’m used to this Western medicine practice of excluding the bad stuff but not providing any real answers. It’s fun!

Here I am in some waiting room, can’t remember which. I think it’s the Heath Hospital A&E (Emergency room). Yes, those are real tears and that is real pain. Send me virtual hugs even now.

Symptoms lessened in March, but the fatigue, insomnia and food intolerances persisted. I rejoined Facebook just so I could join the Long Covid Facebook group, where over 40,000 of us swapped horror stories and coping strategies. It was through this group that I realised many of us were suffering from a histamine overload — something to do with an overactive immune system. Most of the people were following a low histamine food protocol plus a bunch of natural supplements in an effort to stabilise mast cells which can overproduce histamine.

It all sounds insane (!) — but since cutting out high histamine foods, I can avoid the burning and prickling sensations I’d been experiencing for months which is well, better than nothing. I have to avoid basically everything comforting and delicious — gluten, dairy, processed sugar, alcohol, caffeine — but it’s worth it to avoid the awful burning and prickling pain all over my body.

It’s been a shocking change to my way of life, to say the least. And it’s been really hard on our little family. I wouldn’t have made it without all the hugs from Aled and Morgy, the chats in the park with friends, the calls and messages from family and friends all over the world. A huge thanks to everyone who has reached out to check up on me — I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to me! I am so sorry I wasn’t able to respond more, or chat for longer, I simply didn’t (and kind of still don’t!) have the capacity to do it. Thank you for all your love and well wishes from the bottom of my heart! I am also extremely grateful for the ongoing support from my employer.

So that’s a glimpse of the first few months of 2021 health-wise. School-wise: we were home schooling until about mid-March which was really hard as I felt so bad. The school provided a few worksheets via Seesaw which we often finished by 10am, so I had another 10 hours to fill until bed time. Aled was was working Tues – Fri so on those days I was on Morgy duty, with Aled giving me a nap break over lunch time. Rachael and I were in the park nearly every day, rain or shine, so Ben and Morgy could play outside. I am so grateful for the camaraderie of the other parents in our class, in particular Mat, Rachael, Beth, Lee and Kate. This is Morgy with his good friend Ben at one of their favourite mud holes by the river.

The mud baths continued even when school started up again in mid-March.

Of course it was Morgy’s 7th birthday on the 14th. He requested lemon meringue pie!

And the big present was a fish tank! The sand sediment has since cleared and Morgy loves his fish.

Over the April break, we were mercifully able to travel out to Pembrokeshire for a much needed change of scene. I cried when I saw the sea and I think it was the salt air that helped me sleep through the night for the first time in about 3 months.

The weather was cold but we had a few nice outings. We explored a section of Pembrokeshire which I had never been to, the peninsula with Dale and Marloes beaches. They were both beautiful. This is Dale beach:

And this is Marloes beach:

Easter day itself was lovely and I roasted a leg of lamb from the amazing Newport butcher. Honestly he’s the best butcher in the world I think! The lamb is always super succulent.

This is the best pic we’ve got of the dinner itself – a lovely sun trap at the back of Maen Gwyn there.

The weather was sunny but very cold. We took a really nice walk around the coastal path by Aber Bach which reminded me exactly of the walks and gales in Wellington. This could easily be my old favourite, the Southern Walkway.

Spring continues to be my favourite season in the UK, with a lot of lovely blossoms blooming.

Aled had to work the second week of the Easter break so I took Morgy on a day trip to Tenby. Keeping in mind I hadn’t been awake for a full day since Christmas 2020, this would be a really big day for me. I packed a low-histamine lunch — white rice, two boiled eggs, and cucumbers — and off we went. We had a really nice day down the beach, and then walked around towards the harbour before heading back to Glan y Mor.

Ceri, Angela and the girls also came down nearer the end of the break, and it was so nice to see the cousins playing together. Here they are on Dinas Mountain — it was actually so cold up there it snowed on the way down!

When we got back to Cardiff, we were called for our vaccines, which was kind of exciting. We both got the Pfizer jab at the Splott mass vaccination centre. There we were on these school assembly chairs in a big gymnasium with basketball hoops on the side. It was a bit surreal and I got quite emotional when we finally got the vaccine. When I first went in they steered me towards a chair labelled with the number 13 — I flat out refused to sit in it!

Spring had truly sprung when we got back and we went into town for a walk around a different park. This was the first time we had been to Cardiff City centre for months!

May is a bit of a blur — by then I had been signed off work for about 4 months, and while some symptoms were improving, I was starting to get really bad headaches, brain fog, and constant fatigue. I started taking an anti-histamine which really seemed to help with the sleep and the burning/prickling in my arms and legs, but I basically lost the ability to work on the computer without my eyes and brain seizing up. This was of course absolutely terrifying so I went the eye doctor who did all sorts of tests and told me “it wasn’t an eye problem”. Thankfully, my ability to work on screens without getting a migraine has improved in the past month. But I still have to limit it. I am testing myself right now with this long overdue blog post!

This is a hilarious pic from May — a picnic with Paul and Anurag. We are showcasing two of Nanna’s blanket creations:

Perhaps the major highlight of the first half of 2021 has been the canal boat trip we took over the late May bank holiday (and Aled’s birthday!). We’ve been dying to do a canal boat holiday for years and booked it way back in February 2021 as something to look forward to. We had no idea whether we would be allowed to travel then, or if I would be well enough, so opted for a 4 day taster — boarding on Friday at 4pm, disembarking on Monday at 9am.

As it came nearer, we felt I was up to it, but still had to take it really easy. And of course bring along a lot of chicken, rice and eggs. Here we are on the “Red Finch” on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal.

This is a tiny, picturesque canal only an hour north of Cardiff and it’s absolutely beautiful!

It was a really beautiful place, very tranquil and serene.

We celebrated Aled’s birthday on the boat.

We all had a go steering…

…which at times was quite challenging through the low and narrow bridges…

Despite my previous boating experience, the tendencies of a long boat took a while to get used to and I think we were all grateful for the fenders alongside…!

Morg had a blast jumping on and off occasionally to explore the canal banks. Here he is on a big redwood…

It was a super fun holiday! The only complaint is that the bunks were really, really small, so by morning 4 I was totally exhausted. My bunk was under Morgy’s and had about a foot clearance so it wasn’t the most comfortable. I’m a bad sleeper though!

In June the kids were back at school and we were all on a countdown to school holidays. It felt like everyone — parents, teachers, kids — were ready for another chaotic school year to be DONE.

There were a few nice trips to the beach with friends on the weekends — here is Morgy with Zeke (thanks Mat for this awesome photo).

A fun morning at St. Fagan’s on the high ropes course with Ben and Milo…

A lovely walk in the hills near Cowbridge with Paul and Anurag…

A potential for the xmas card…

And a visit from Charlotte and Pete who live in Arizona. It was lovely to see them albeit very briefly! They are British expats living in the US, so it’s always interesting to swap stories and experiences on immigration, life in each other’s countries, etc. A huge thanks to Pete for his tips on plane travel in the time of coronavirus.

And well that’s all I’ve got energy for. Apologies if I have missed any key pics — my brain is fried and as I say it’s been a strange and awful time. Here’s praying for better days ahead — for me and for everyone, in particular for those who have lost loved ones. If you are reading this, take a moment to be grateful to be alive, and to have your health. Huge hugs to everyone — stay safe amongst the viruses, the hurricanes, the fires, the tornadoes, the terrorists, the earthquakes! As they say in NZ, Kia Kaha. Stay strong. XOXOXO

PS — please keep in mind that the pics I’ve shared show the nicest moments in a dark, dark time. I’ve spent countless hours in my bed feeling really awful, resting to make it possible to partake now and again in the nice things that I’ve posted here. Coronavirus is an evil virus, and Long Covid is very, very real and very, very miserable. You just don’t know who it’s going to impact or how. Please be careful — you don’t want Long Covid. And you don’t want your kids to get Long Covid.

Autumn and Winter 2020

Hello everyone and happy new year! Once again there’s been quite a delay since my last post — apologies but there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day with all the demands of home schooling, working and having an ongoing health issue… on that note apologies in advance that this post will be a little downbeat but I would like to share some of what I have been going through. It will be hard for me to write, and perhaps not the most uplifting post to read, but I keep this blog to document my experiences and I guess I should feel lucky that most of the time I have quite positive things to share.

As you know, the middle six months of 2020 were full of various lockdown restrictions here in Wales and various health scares related to my digestive system. Luckily, most of the tests came back with “nothing serious” and “no abnormalities detected” with the exception of the endoscopy which showed mild gastritis — inflammation in my stomach lining. Despite getting various “all clears” and “you’re fine” sort of advice from GPs and gastroenterologists, by autumn I could no longer eat many of the foods I have enjoyed for, well about 40 years.

On my birthday in late September I was on a lactose free, gluten free and low acid diet, which meant I couldn’t have cake but was instead treated to a selection of melons and a small dollop of oat-based vegan ice cream (Jude’s salted caramel, it’s quite delicious actually). I had been keeping a food diary for several months and while there were clearly some things that bothered my digestive sytem, there was also a lot of randomness with food reactions, and an ongoing prickling sensation in many parts of my abdomen which persisted no matter what foods I ate.

It was quite restrictive and demoralising to avoid so many foods and beverages — in particular wine!! — but I persevered as best as I could in September and October on what Aled and I called “the super bland” protocol which mostly consisted of rice, eggs, chicken, fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables. If I strayed from this diet, a flare up would ensue — this might be too much information — but in these flare ups, nothing comes out the back, it just feels like a migraine of burning sensations in my abdomen which leaves me bed-ridden and exhausted for a few hours. It’s no surprise that I have developed food anxiety — eat the wrong thing and I’m out of action for at least the afternoon, if not a day or two afterwards.

Despite sticking to the ultra-bland routine, various pains persisted. In early October, an intense stinging in my lower right quadrant resulted in my GP sending me urgently to the Surgical Assessment Unit to ensure it wasn’t appendicitis. Bloods taken, consultants seen, discharged with a disheartening “we don’t think it’s your appendix but we don’t know what’s wrong with you”.

By mid-October, nothing was improving and having essentially been given various “all clears” from my GP after umpteen blood tests (read: abandoned!), I engaged the London Clinic of Nutrition to see if they could lend any further insight. They follow a “functional medicine” approach which takes a more holistic approach to health – considering the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a person. They also seemed to do more sophisticated testing which sounded far more comprehensive and insightful than the basic NHS testing.

I was working with a lovely “nutritional therapist” there who studied my whole life story – the questionnaire took ages to fill in but it was very comprehensive. My first consultation was about 1.5 hours (compared with 10-15 min with a GP) and her initial report came back with a very long list of recommendations, ranging from dietary changes, to supplements, to meditation. The list was overwhelming at first but having paid a fair amount for this advice I threw myself into it whole heartedly: elimination protocols, supplements, protein shakes, veggie smoothies, meditation etc. You know me — let’s make a plan and sort this out!

Here’s just some of the(very expensive!) supplements…

And the Dr. K veggie smoothie…. it looks like a swamp but actually tasted ok — apparently to get my “short chain fatty acids” going. Compared to the vegan “creme brulee” protein shake above, the Dr. K swamp shake was actually a delight!

So this regime continued throughout November and early December, with very limited, if any improvement. I was back at the Surgical Assessment Unit in early December with the same stinging – my 10th bloods taken and discharged again with “we don’t know wht’s wrong with you”. By then results had come back from the London Clinic showing I had “dysbiosis” in my intestinal tract, a possible algae parasite, and high levels of some “mycotoxins”.

These were very alarming results however when I showed them to my GP and another private gastroenterologist they basically discounted them on the basis that the tests had not been validated and/or they didn’t really know how to interpret them and/or they didn’t know how to turn them into a clear treatment plan. The London Clinic suggested another expensive list of natural supplements to rid myself of the various toxins, a few of which I tried but found they had little effect. By then I had turned into a serial googler to try and make any sense of the information and frankly tied myself up in knots as well as gave myself lots of additional anxiety. It turns out there’s a huge number of websites, blogs and clinics springing up all over the world to try and address gut issues which gastroenterologists worldwide seem incapable of resolving. And lots of conflicting, irrelevant, and non-scientific advice from a wide range of people — some of whom may be legitimate and some of whom well, who knows what their credentials actually are?

Ultimately, I feel pretty disappointed and unimpressed by these highly paid gastroenterologists — it doesn’t take a genius to shove a camera down my throat and “identify” gastritis does it? The million dollar question is what can we do to FIX IT (other than prescribe the acid-reducing proton pump inhibitors which I am pretty sure caused most of the problems I am now enduring!?)?

I saw another private gastro just before Christmas who came highly recommended and does research on inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s etc). He spoke to me for an hour and then reviewed my NHS case notes in great detail, finally diagnosing me with “centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome” or “visceral hypersensitivity”. Apparently this means that my brain now interprets normal digestion as a painful experience. He recommended a low level antidepressant for pain management and/or hypnotherapy. He then sent me to an immunologist to check for food allergies as an explanation for the flare ups — none of which turned up. …. so 10 months later I am still in a lot of discomfort, have to avoid a large number of foods, and have no real treatment plan other than doing my 15 minute “gut focused hypnotherapy meditation” every morning. I am sticking to the low FODMAP diet for the time being which seems to help me avoid flare ups. And finally, I am refusing any pharmaceuticals at this point as I have tried a few over 2020 and they seem to mess me up completely.

Yoga breathing definitely required.

So that is my long sob story — thanks to everyone who has reached out to me with kind words and emails and emotional support during this incredibly challenging time! I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated it. I’ve also been amazed by how many people have had digestive issues which they shared with me once I told them what I was going through. I’ve learned a lot about the body and the interconnectivity between the brain and the gut. It’s a bit of a buzzword lately so there’s no lack of articles about the brain gut axis, the microbiome, and how it relates to the nervous system all over the internet. There continues to be no straghtforward path to resolution though which is really frustrating… I persevere nonetheless and am off to try acupuncture this afternoon. I don’t really love needles so this will be “interesting”.

I will pause this part of the narrative to share the bigger picture events – and with more pics 🙂 … With Morgy back at school from mid-September, Aled and I continued to work from home. Whilst working from home certainly makes the school pick ups and drop offs really easy, after 7-8 months of it I was really starting to find it monotonous, isolating, and at times really demotivating. Here is one upside of working from home — making my “bone broth, broccoli and carrot soup” whilst listening to an all staff briefing.

The autumn itself was quite lovely, with lots of walks in the local parks — our closest park just 150m down the road pictured here.

And here are the boys at Roath Park Lake which has a really impressive range of different trees.

By mid-October though, with Covid cases rising once again, Wales went back into a “firebreak” lockdown for three weeks and any hopes of getting away for the half term were dashed (whilst England was allowed out and about!!). Halloween was essentially cancelled…

…but we still did some carving…

The Wales firebreak lockdown was lifted on 9 Nov 2020, and we rushed out to see Nanna and Taidi for a long weekend. We had some lovely weather so were out and about near Dinas.

Here we are down at Pwyll Gwaelod in the sun:

And me and Morgy making a mountain chain on the beach.

We also took an outing over to St. David’s — I love the cathedral there.

And given that it was our only excursion for ages, we took Morgy for a horse ride at Havard Stables which he really enjoyed. Sorry photo a bit blurry.

December saw a lot of lights coming out in the neighbourhood to spread the holiday cheer and Penylan really looked lovely.

Another key milestone in early December was finally getting my British citizenship. That will be my third nationality if you can believe it! Here I am at Cardiff City Hall where I attended the ceremony (on my own). Admittedly I got quite emotional at this ceremony as I reflected on what it means to become a citizen of another country, to pledge allegiance to a Queen and a country which my ancestors had wholeheartedly rejected…! Meanwhile when I compare it to my experience in New Zealand, the journey to becoming a British citizen has been expensive, stressful, and really bureaucratic. The tears were a mixture of joy and relief in knowing that I never have to submit another immigration application in the United Kingdom and that I can’t be legally separated from my son who is a British citizen. I am so glad that 6 year ordeal is over!

Just a few weeks later I got my British passport and I must give high praise for how well streamlined that process was! Honestly, what an easy process and well done to my brother-in-law William who manages the team which prints the new British passports!

In the lead up to Christmas, cases were rising fast in Wales and the rest of the UK, with several classes at Morgan’s school being chucked out after any positive case in that class bubble. Morgy’s class made it til the very end (19 Dec 2020) but we took Morgy out from the 11th as we didn’t want to risk it being brought home, especially because we had planned on driving out to Pembrokeshire again on the 19th to see Nanna and Taidi. We have been following the rules more conservatively than the vast majority of parents and families in our area (most of whom were still going to swimming lessons, karate, football, the gym, restaurants, etc), as well as taking Morgy to get tested occasionally as he is prone to colds.

With negative Covid tests on the 17th, we headed out to Pembs on the 19th.

Not less than 24 hours after arriving, a national lockdown was called in Wales and we were meant to be back in our house by midnight! Despite the fear of fines, we decided to drive back the next day after lunch (and this lovely walk down to Aber Bach) but the car was making funny clunking noises, so we waited til Monday to call the garage. Turned out it was closed anyways so we drove back to Cardiff in some of the worst weather we have seen for ages on Monday the 20th.

Back at home, we prepared for Christmas:

We were ready for a quiet Christmas but thought of ways to make it fun locally… but then Aled started to feel unwell on the 23rd, and on the 24th seemed to be worse, so we sent him for a Covid test… which came back positive 🙁 Given that we had been so careful, we were flabbergasted — and frustrated. Not to mention a little bit scared as the virus seems to impact everyone so differently and unpredictably. On Christmas, I started to feel cold and shivery and tested positive on the 26th.

We still enjoyed Christmas day, with me abandoning all food restrictions for a couple of days. The chocolate log cake from Marks and Spencers was particularly delicious!

And so began the 10 day self-isolation period which frankly, was torturous. Aled got the coughing version of Covid and luckily did not deteriorate after day 5 or day 6. I didn’t have the “classic” Covid symptoms at first — I had muscle aches, chills, sneezing and overwhelming fatigue for the first few days, then completely lost my sense of taste and smell on day 3 or 4. My taste has mostly returned but it’s a month later and I would estimate I have about 30% of my smelling abilities. (Given I have been blessed with the hypersensitive Morgan nose, this means I probably now have a normal nose’s smelling abilities!)

We were grateful for lots of Christmas Lego (thanks Karen, Anthony, Ceri, Ang, William and Claire!) to get us through this intensely exhausting and worrisome time, when we weren’t even supposed to leave our house for any reason for 10 days of self-isolation. A huge thanks to friends and neighbours for their offers of help, and the fresh milk deliveries from Paul and Anurag!

It took Morgy and me about a week to put together this awesome pirate ship! Loved it!

And then it was back to “school” in the new year… schools are closed again with really high Covid rates so it’s back to the joys of home schooling. Aled went back to work from the 4th — I tried to but was still so tired I took the first week of January off sick. I went back on the 11th and after two weeks basically had a total meltdown as I was still feeling exhausted from Covid, continue to have ongoing abdominal pains, and was juggling work with home schooling.

My organisation is incredibly understanding but ultimately in families where both parents are working from home and have children to home school, it’s an incredibly challenging scenario which is unfair on well, everyone! We attempted to manage it with me blocking out my calendar in the mornings to do schooling with Morg, and then working from about 12 – 5pm solidly, breaking for dinner and then doing a bit more in the evening. Aled would work from 7am – 12pm solidly, break for 2 hours for lunch and home schooling, and then do some more work in the afternoon or in the evening.

This doesn’t really work that well in practice though because I often had immovable meetings in the morning, or health appointments with the NHS which I had to attend. Aled is meanwhile in a development role where he needs to be on call for issue resolution so is often called upon to urgently resolve issues between 9 and 5. So any meetings of mine in the morning would wreck Aled’s block of time and so he would be on late into the evening, as was I to just well, do all the work required! … if I were in tip top health, I think this would have been achievable, but as I’m feeling poorly most of the time, and often not sleeping very well, it was just a nightmare. After two weeks I was utterly shattered and have been signed off work for another 4 weeks now. I must admit I feel utterly demoralised, frustrated and overwhelmed by the situation– but I need to listen to my body as it’s just not up to the task right now. 🙁

… To give you an idea of how our days go now with home schooling — I am on Morgy schooling duties in the morning and then Aled comes down to give me a rest at lunchtime. Irrespective the weather, we try to get Morg out of the house in the afternoon to run around in the park. Right now at Alert level 4 it is illegal to organise to meet up with other households — however it is allowed to go to playgrounds as long as you are not “intentionally” meeting up with other households. I honestly can’t see the difference in terms of virus transmission by playing in the mud by the river so this is what happens on many afternoons…

This is Wales in January — it’s very cold, dark, rainy and muddy! Here is one of friend’s daughters just sitting straight in the puddle as Morgy and her older brother laugh. Hilarious!

The mud gets absolutely everywhere which means we are washing mud trousers and jackets almost daily. But ultimately most of us convening illegally in the park believe it’s so important for them to be getting out, playing, and getting dirty!!

So that is all I have to report for now… will sign off with one last picture of Morgy at the “lake by the tip” which has frozen over a few times in January. It’s a nice place to walk around.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers everyone — and stay safe in these crazy times. Huge hugs XOXOXO

Late summer 2020

Well finally some time to catch up on the last couple of months. 2020 continues to be an absolute roller coaster so we are just hanging on and doing the best we can under adverse circumstances. It’s truly a game of survival right now, both physically and mentally. While it was a relief that kids went back to school in September case numbers have risen again in the UK to more than 20,000 per day so we’re in another lockdown here in Wales for the next 16 days. The plan is that primary school children will go back to school after next week’s half term but older kids are doing virtual learning.

Here are the latest stats for the Welsh counties — Cardiff being one of the highest at about 284 per 100k (thanks BBC).

The news is depressing all over the world — let me move swiftly onto reminiscing about the short trips we took at the end of summer…

We took advantage of remote working and got out of Cardiff for the last two weeks in August. The weather didn’t look too promising so we tried to follow the dry weather — first out to Pembrokeshire to coincide with Hefin, Emma and Elis’ visit to Nanna and Taidi’s. Here are Morgy and Nanna in St. Dogmael’s by the miller’s pond.

Of course we stopped for a coffee at the abbey cafe — Nanna’s favourite!

That’s Morgy with Nanna, Aled and Uncle Hefin with abbey ruins in the background. In the afternoon, we headed down to the beach at Poppit Sands which kept the boys entertained despite the cold wind blowing.

For the last week of the summer, we swapped houses with Hefin and Emma, who live in Norwich. We thought this was a clever idea considering how uncertain the situation was with Covid. (A huge thanks to Hef and Em for letting us stay — it was an awesome way to explore the area – next time hopefully we can do some boating together!!) Some of our friends had had to cancel overseas trips due to changes in quarantine rules with only a few days’ notice 🙁 So we packed up Aled’s computer and set off for the east side of the UK. First stop was Hunstanton Beach, famous for these bright red and white cliffs! Aren’t they amazing?

The weather really turned wet and cold after that day but Morgy and I got out to explore the local area and had a few nice adventures. Here we are at the local mini golf in a lovely park not far from Hefin and Emma’s house.

We had a nice day at Banham Zoo:

The following day we headed over to Happisburgh beach and lighthouse:

The weather turned a bit in the afternoon so we explored the Norfolk Broads, a low-lying area of beautiful waterways, rivers and marshes. It is really reminiscent of the Netherlands and there are some absolutely beautiful villages dotted throughout. Morg and I stopped for an afternoon treat at a pub near this little inlet.

We then went in search of a windmill and found one down by this waterway, where I was also delighted by this thatched boat house — so picturesque!

Equally fortuitously was the discovery of this beautiful garden and thatched house. Morgy is completely obsessed by plants and seeds lately so this was a really good find.

Over the weekend, we visited Cambridge and Ely, to see what most British people consider to be the “touristy sites”. I personally love going to see these areas because they are really incredible places and what I consider to be “the Best of Britain”. I mean look at this building in Cambridge — sorry can’t remember which college it was — just incredible architecture considering it’s probably 800 years old! (We’re starting the university hunt early for Morgy! 😉 )

We knew we couldn’t drag a 6 year old around the town for too long so I had booked some tickets to get into Cambridge’s famous botanical garden. If you are ever in Cambridge I would highly recommend a visit! Here they are in the greenhouses…

And here at a lovely little rockery.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to Ely to see the famous Cathedral:

Quite breathtaking on the inside…

In particular the stained glass windows…

Have I mentioned how much I love the old buildings here?

And for the last touristy stop in the area, the Duxford Imperial War Museum. We had visited this place a couple of years ago but thought Morg would enjoy it again. It’s an absolutely fantastic collection of aircraft from the past century or so. Here are the boys in front of a Sea King helicopter. For those of you unfamiliar with this Evans family story, Aled and a friend were rescued by one of these helicopters when Aled was 15. Much to his parents’ embarrassment, they were reported in the press as “two fool-hardy teenagers”. Aled continues to purport he needed no rescuing!

We also stopped to see our friends Nic and Liz on the way back but I didn’t get a pic of them or the lovely thatched village where they live. We did take a route across the country that took us past another very famous British landmark….

Aled was driving and I hadn’t realised we were going to drive past Stonehenge… hilariously every snap I took had a traffic cone in it! Naturally I could have cropped it out of these photos but somehow I think it’s representative of life in modern day Britain. The old and the new! In New Zealand it was easy to take the amazing vistas for granted because we saw them every day out our front window — in Britain it’s just as easy to drive past sites of archaeological, anthropological and architectural significance at 70 mph. But I think I will always photograph Stonehenge (or “stone hinge” as Morgy calls it) when I pass it.

And then it was time for Morgy to go back to school and for working from home to start again – yack. Embarrassingly I don’t have a pic of Morgy on his first day of Year 2 — whoops! I think I was too pre-occupied with all the new protocols to think of it. I was one of at least 5 mums crying tears of … well every emotion possible when they went into school – relief for not having to home school whilst working, joy that my son could play with his friends again, fear that they will catch and spread the virus, sadness for all that everyone continues to endure, etc etc. Honestly, what an awful time!

With very few after school activities occurring, most afternoons are spent in the parks in Penylan and Roath — here’s Morgy with one of his good friends Zeke by a fallen down tree close to the Rec:

In September, we were still relatively free to travel further afield so had some nice days out with Paul and Anurag, first to a reservoir up by Cwmbran:

As well as a really nice hike up Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. Again a view we probably have a hundred pictures of but it’s so pretty we just take some more!

In mid-September our work offices opened, with lots of work done by our facilities team to make it “covid-safe”. There were only a handful of us in that day, as most people are still feeling nervous about using the office, and most of us can easily work from home. Because I’m leading a project on how we use our workplaces, I felt it was important to get a feel for how the office had changed. And I wanted a change of scene!!

It was a really strange exprience going back into the office again after so long working from home. While it was nice to see some colleagues face to face, I was amazed at how much extra effort was required to get to work in the same way I used to – picking out and ironing work clothes, washing and drying hair, packing lunch, packing laptop, commuting…. that seemed to take an extraordinary amount of effort…! And as a Lean Six Sigma person, I couldn’t help but question the value add… But I can tell you one thing that drastically improved in this process — it was very easy to find a parking spot under the building!!

Since going back into lockdown though, all the offices are closed again now 🙁

Now it’s nearly time to wrap up this post I think… at the end of September, I reached a big milestone… that’s right, I turned 40! Wow. A huge thanks to Aled and Morgy for trying to make my birthday special under the global and personal circumstances – and for all the well wishes and cards from around the world.

Despite all the tests and procedures showing “nothing serious” my digestive system was still not right — so at that point I was on a gluten-free, lactose-free and low-acid diet. So cake was not really an option!! So instead I had some vegan ice cream with a selection of melons and we went for a nice walk around Cosmeston Lake with Paul and Anurag on a lovely sunny day.

We even managed to get in the Medieval Village (not easy — in past its unusual opening hours have really stymied me thus far!).

I will end with a lovely photograph by Anurag which I have titled “Love in the Time of Coronavirus”. Stay safe and sane everyone XOXOXO

Early summer 2020

So where to begin!  It’s been three months since I last posted – (I feel like this is the beginning of a confession!) – and what an awful time it has been!  For me anyways… it’s a long and arduous story so I will spare you the gory details.  Basically I had a really bad stomach ache in early April which was diagnosed as gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining).  Typically it’s cured by acid-reducing medicines in a couple of weeks.  For me it’s gone from bad to worse — those medicines gave me lots of awful side effects so there were lots of phone calls to the local GP, which then turned into blood tests, which led to ultrasounds, CT scans of pancreas and liver etc, and finally the (dreaded) endoscopy and colonoscopy.  YACK.  Here I am at Spire Hospital awaiting the last procedures.


(If anyone is wondering, I had to pay for several of the procedures and scans privately as the NHS outside of corona virus had literally come to a standstill.  My deepest sympathies to anyone suffering a “non-serious” health problem right now.  The NHS waiting lists are terrible even in good times — now it’s just a joke 🙁 )

On the upside “nothing serious” has been found — on the downside I still have quite a few pains in my abdomen which don’t seem to be going away.  We’ve tried everything to reduce acid and inflammation — I’m on a gluten and lactose free diet, as well as avoiding anything acidic.   I currently weigh in the region of 7 stone 11 pounds — Americans will have to google that to make any sense of it!

I was signed off work for most of July as the whole thing was so stressful I wasn’t sleeping very well.  🙁  I’m back at work now which is great news — my employers have been AMAZING in their support, both professionally and personally, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Anyways!  Pray for me please!  It’s taken a real toll on me as a person and on our family — it’s been incredibly frustrating and exhausting and I am thankful for all the hugs and kisses I get from Aled and Morgy who keep me going, and for all the moral support from near and far.  Thank you.

Now onto a cheerier section – all the lovely moments!  Here we are celebrating Aled’s birthday in late May with our neighbours Paul and Anurag.  They can be seen here at the far end of our garden with Anurag demonstrating a new yoga pose “socially-distanced champagne-picnic-sutra”.


I ordered two sets of the same things from M&S which made for a lovely spread:


The garden provided a bumper crop of strawberries and raspberries this year:


And potatoes… half of which Morgan sold to Anurag for $2:


Lockdown dragged on and the hell that is “both-parents-working-whilst-also-home-schooling” became our new reality.  And WOW to everyone who had been doing that from day 1 back in March – what a freaking nightmare!  Exhibit A of what happens to your bedroom/office when you’re on a conference call whilst also the on-duty parent.  God bless Morgan for being able to entertain himself as much as he did during these months and weeks!


Here is Morgan “helping” Aled with his work — as one of my brother-in-laws pointed out, a manager in training!


This picture sums up how much we all loved this situation:


When we heard in late June that “school” would start back up in July for a few weeks, I cried tears of joy and relief… only to receive an email from our head teacher a few days later explaining that, due to social-distancing requirements, they’d only be able to offer 3 hours a week (YES 3 hours once a week!) to each child in Morgan’s class.  And this arrangement would last for the three weeks left of the term in July.  So just to really spell out what that means in real terms — 9 hours of childcare provided during a total of 120 working hours over 3 weeks in July.

So we sent Morgan to his 3 hour slot on Monday that first week of July — what a joy that was to only have to do one job for half of that day!  And then our First Minister Mark Drakeford (who no one knew existed until lockdown) declared that we’d finally be able to travel more than 5 miles from our homes from 6 July 2020.  Hurrah!  (Just going back to Mark Drakeford and how devolution has played out with Corona virus.  Lockdown rules were devolved to the “nations” which means Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could make different rules to England.  This has caused lots of confusion as lockdowns are being lifted.  There have been differences around how far you could travel, how many people you could meet at once, whether you could eat inside at a restaurant, etc.  Even as I write, you have to wear masks in shops in England, but you don’t really have to if you don’t want to in Wales.  At times this is really nonsensical, especially if you live close to a border with England.)

Anyways!  We abandoned the last two weeks of “school” in favour of going to Pembrokeshire to see Nanna and Taidi (and the sea)!  We were able to do this immediately because we could stay in their unoccupied holiday cottage.  By then I had been signed off work and was grateful for Nanna and Taidi to help look after Morgan whilst Aled was working remotely.  A huge thanks to Ann and Steve for having us — it was so nice to see you — we missed you so much!

And what a great summer break Morgan had out in Pembrokeshire!

Body boarding:








Wheel-barrow riding:


Black currant processing:


And lots of reading!  Morgan’s reading has come on by leaps and bounds in the past 6 months (great teachers obviously!).  To think that when he left school he was reading books of about 16 pages with one sentence per page — now he’s reading actual books of 70 pages with normal sized font!  We are currently reading the Famous Five series together.


There we are in the tent, which we set up in the field up by the big pond — we did this when I returned to/from Cardiff after the CT scan in a (rather ridiculous) attempt to social distance.


It had a very nice view:


Aled also managed to get out and enjoy some of his favourite Pembrokeshire spots including Aber Mawr beach (not great surf that day but he managed to catch a few!)


Some sunset walks on Dinas Mountain — without me sob sob!


Then it was back to Cardiff for the first few weeks of Augustfor the procedures…  back to the familiar walk around the parks…


Don’t get me wrong, the parks near us are lovely — but we are so sick of them!!  Well, I definitely am.  Fingers crossed that schools actually are opening next week?!

So 9:30 – nearly my bedtime!  Will write more about our adventures in late August another day. Take care everyone — send me virtual hugs XOXOXO

Lockdown 2020

So it’s a strange time all right!  Lockdown 2020.  Hopefully not something I’ll experience again in my lifetime… although you will see from the photos below that there are some silver linings and perhaps during this time we are all reflecting on what’s important.  I ran a workshop last week at work and the last two questions were: what are the things we want to carry forward from working remotely vs. what aspects do we want to leave behind?  I am sure we all have some thoughts from this experience.

Before I turn to the nitty gritty of lockdown, I’ll mention the major milestone which occurred after returning from Florida and before lockdown commenced… Morgy’s 6th birthday of course!  Here he is with his new electric train set (he had mentioned this was an unfulfilled Christmas request so we made up for Santa’s shortcomings!):


He had his party at Spit and Sawdust, a quirky indoor skate park with all the boys from his class:


They had a blast and the tank cake was a major hit:


That was March 14th and at that point, here in Britain we were still being told just to wash our hands (whilst singing Happy Birthday twice) and to isolate ourselves if we were feeling ill.  By the following Wednesday, I was taking my monitor, keyboard, mouse etc from work and by Friday, March 20th, schools were closing.  Here’s Morgy on his last day of school:


Aled and I decided it would be better for me to have my desk up in the big front bedroom so the boys could take over the dining room for school work and projects.  So we moved our clothes cupboard out of the front room into the middle bedroom and set up this other table.


So I have been working from the front bedroom now for just over two months…


…whilst Aled continues his project from the middle bedroom in between schooling Morgan:


Aled is doing a great job with Morgy.  His reading and writing have really come on, in particular his penmanship:


Now Murphy’s Law has been in full force with regards the weather as it’s been wall-to-wall sunshine here in Cardiff since lockdown started.  This has been simultaneously wonderful and infuriating after one of the wettest winters in British history.  So while I am very grateful it has been sunny, it’s also seems just a teensy-wheensy bit unfair not to be able to go further than our immediate neighbourhood to enjoy the glorious sunshine!

Thankfully, we have been permitted to leave our homes during lockdown.  I can’t imagine what life would be like in places like Spain where people weren’t allowed outside for several weeks.  In March and April, we were allowed to go outside for 30 minutes of exercise and the laws were changed so that police could actually fine people if they were out for “non-essentials”.  This meant we’d go out for a walk once a day as a family in the nearby parks with Morgan on his bike.

Spring was absolutely beautiful this year, and we were treated to a lovely blossom display.


At one point, the cherry blossoms even turned the grass pink!


We celebrated Easter with an egg hunt and a roast dinner:


And then, well, there’s been lots of playing at home and in the garden…


Fear not — we have a great method for dealing with lego chaos.  Simply ensure it’s all on the carpet, roll it like a burrito and tip it straght into the box!  E voila!  Tidy living room.

Battleship has become the game of choice, with Captain Morgan (the second) actually starting to beat us fair and square!


I ordered these tiny bead things that you make patterns with and then iron to stick them together (a favourite from my own childhood):


As well as puzzles…


Other highlights from early lockdown include watching some butterflies hatch and then fly away:


And making patterns with flowers:


Lockdown has been a surreal time, where you’re safe and snug making flower patterns in the day, but then hearing the apocolyptic news in the evening once Morgy is in bed.  It’s hard to reconcile the two realities, especially if you are healthy and well-fed at home.  The workers in the ICU all over the world are experiencing the nightmare first hand.

Luckily for us, the major challenges have mostly just consisted of getting our groceries safely, as we haven’t been able to get slots to have our groceries delivered.  Sainsbury’s also put limits on how many people could be in the store at once, making it difficult to know how long it would take to actually get your groceries.  This was stressing me out a little bit as we were also seeing news reports of empty shelves at supermarkets across the country.

So as our supplies were starting to run low in April, I asked my boss if I could pop out after lunch one day and do a shop, thinking I’d avoid the morning rush.  When I got to Sainsbury’s, I was shocked to see about about 35 people queueing so I turned right back around and came back at 7:40pm that night.

Unbeknownst to me, Sainsbury’s had changed their store hours and were closing at 8pm so what ensued was a mad “supermarket sweep” type exercise during which I managed to procure about 180 pounds worth of groceries in less than 15 minutes.  The Corona was going cheap (!).


Luckily we get our organic fruit and veg delivered every Wednesday and have a small corner shop where we go to pick up milk and cheese as required so I have only been to Sainsbury’s twice.  The corner shop only lets two people in the shop at one time.  Right next door is the local post office, which I have only visited once because I ran out of stamps (too many overseas birthdays!!) 😉


I don’t know about you but something that keeps my spirits up in lockdown are the hilarious memes that are going around on social media. These are two of my favourites — apologies I don’t know who to credit these to — thank you very much for keeping us laughing:


And this one…


And so lockdown continues…  like Groundhog Day really… most weekends we get on our bikes and take a longer bike ride than the daily one around the parks… here’s Morgy in Waterloo Gardens:


Look what beautiful flowers:


Then we head up to Roath Park Lake, where they’ve instituted a one-way system clockwise around the lake to reduce people breathing in each other’s faces.  Nine times out of ten we cycle past our good friends and neighbours, Sarah, Ed and the boys who are also out for their daily cycle.


About a month ago, we discovered the “Wild Wood” at the top of the lake.   Hilariously I cycled past this forested section of the park for about 3 years when I worked up at Cardiff Gate business park but never bothered venturing in… it’s quite nice actually and you can’t believe you are in the middle of a city when you are walking around it.


It’s become a weekly tradition to throw those sticky plants at each other whilst in the Wild Wood (I have no idea what they are actually called — they stick to clothes like velcro).  Here’s Morgy running away from an inevitable counter-attack…


Back at the ranch, there’s lots of Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom calls with friends and relatives all over the world.  It’s been lovely to connect with everyone and hear how everyone is coping.


All in all, family and friends are mostly ok but there are some really hard aspects, such as my sister having to leave her kids with my parents while she and Anthony go to work in NYC.  The news coming out of New Jersey and New York is frightening and I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.  When I think about the scale of this situation and how much are lives have been impacted I get emotional — the good old “Coronacoaster” — so I will move swiftly on to some of our other lockdown adventures.

A few weeks ago we put up the tent which Santa brought us last Christmas.  The first test was to see if it would actually fit in our tiny garden…


The answer was “yes just barely”!  Morgy and Aled spent the night out there while I was in in the nice big bed upstairs 🙂 But this doesn’t mean I got off easy.  Morgy came into see me at 5:45am!  We ended up leaving the tent up for a few days just for a change of scenery.

On the early May bank holiday, we had a lockdown lunch in the back lane with our friends and neighbours, Paul, Anurag and Sandra:


It felt like we could get in trouble for this but by week 7 of lockdown, we were dying to speak to friends!  It was lovely to see them and once again reminded me how much life has changed in 2020.  How much I have taken for granted!


In the second or so week of May (sorry can’t remember, the days and weeks are all blurring together!) lockdown in Wales was relaxed somewhat so that we could exercise outside more than once a day as long as we maintained social distancing.  There were rumours that the kids might go back to school in June but that isn’t looking likely.  Last week England relaxed its lockdown and 300,000 people turned up at beaches on the South Coast.  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are watching the experiment…

And so the schooling at home continues… Morgy and Aled are doing some art lessons…


Of course Morgy chooses his favourite subject matter:


I will end with one of my favourite creations from lockdown.  Aled’s creativity really knows no bounds with a loaf of wholemeal bread in the shape of an ammonite!


Next week, he’ll start work back at Hodge Bank, so we’ll be joining those other parents who are both working whilst juggling home-schooling.  Pray for us please!  And please take care everyone in this crazy time.  Huge hugs from sunny Cardiff XOXOX

Early 2020

Well what can I say! It’s an absolutely surreal time! We are at the end of our third week in “lockdown” due to Coronavirus, or Covid-19 as they officially refer to it. Lockdown in the UK means that we are only allowed out of our houses for essentials (food, medicine) and for 30 minutes of exercise each day.  Morgy has also been off school during that time while I have been working from home. By miracle, it’s been absolutely beautiful weather so we’ve been able to potter around in the garden and go for our daily walk/cycle ride in the nearby parks.

I will save my thoughts on “life in lockdown” for another post, preferring to use this post as a way to reminisce about “the good old days”, when we could leave our homes and travel by airplane! It’s mind-boggling to think how much life has changed in a matter of a month, and how much I took my own freedoms for granted!

Anyways back to January 2020 — typically one of my least favourite months of the British year.  As I had committed to starting my new job on the 20th, I spent a lot of time at the gym, taking countless classes, swimming and using the empty studios to do some ballet. Let me tell you — David Lloyd was regretting letting me in the door — and it was great to have the time to get fit again.

In late Jan, we got out on a sunny weekend for a walk with Sarah, Ed and their boys up by Castle Coch — I think this is called Caerphilly Mountain. Here’s Oliver and Morgy near the top where you can see Ollie doing a great mountain climbing pose!


On 31 Jan 2020, Britain left the European Union, after nearly 4 years of frustrating and tedious negotiations.  We voted to remain back in 2016, so this wasn’t a particularly happy moment in our household, but it’s a historical moment so I felt like I should put it on the blog.  This was the countdown projected onto the front of 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives.


A couple of weeks later we made a quick trip out to Pembrokeshire to visit my in-laws who had recently returned from a six week trip to New Zealand to see Gwyn and Nicole and kids in Northland.  Here we are down at Porthgain after a lovely Sunday lunch at the Sloop Inn.


A few days later, Morgy and I were on a plane to Florida, whilst Aled remained at home to work on his software development project and look for a contract in Cardiff.  My parents had rented a house in Naples for three months and we were joined by my sister and family too.  Here’s a pic of the house in a very nice resort/house complex:


There’s always so many pictures to share from our trips to America — I will do my best to post just the highlights!  …starting with lizard catching!  The boys never tired of catching these little creatures out by the pool:


We spent one afternoon on a pirate ship cruise, which was absolutely hilarious and very well-run.


After all my years on tall ships I was expecting quite a rickety boat, with crappy brown paint peeling off the deck planking…. oh no!  This was a fully re-furbished, state of the art pirate ship, equipped with salt water cannons and a comfortable poop deck to keep parents dry.  Not to mention a drinks and snack bar for parents too.  These are truly twenty-first century pirates!

Once out at sea, the dingy was launched and the kids were taunted by this pirate — who subsequently got drenched by the cannons.


It was funny to watch and the boys absolutely loved it!


Back ashore, we had a nice lunch and got the only picture from the whole trip of allof us  together.  Getting all three boys to look simultaneously is just about impossible!

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Another day, there was a trip to the beautiful Tiger Tail beach, which was covered in millions and millions of shells.  This beach can only really be accessed by wading across a river, which was a bit of an adventure with small kids and lots of beach gear.  Luckily the tide wasn’t too high so we easily managed it — and because it was in the 80s (my favourite!), we dried off in no time.   Here’s Grampa and Jack returning from a shell finding mission.


And a crazy flock of white birds called ibises poking in the sand.


Another highlight of the trip was the fan boat ride down in the Everglades.  We did this when we were in Florida last time and it was so awesome we decided to do it again.  Here’s Karen, Anthony, Jack and Joey on their fan boat.


And Gramma and Morgy on our fan boat.


It is amazing how quickly these boats fly around these narrow waterways!  You’ve got to admire the skills of the drivers, both from a vessel handling and a navigation perspective as all the mangrove passage ways look the same (to the untrained eye)!


In one of the breaks in the open spaces, we spotted this raccoon family out for a morning stroll — so cute!


Afterwards, we went through Everglades National Park to spot some other wildife.  What’s a trip to Florida without seeing a crocodile?  These creatures look so sinister!


And an anhinga spearing his lunch:


The rest of the trip was spent down at Lowdermilk beach, where lots of digging, swimming and relaxing was done.  It’s amazing how long the boys could spend amusing themselves — they loved it and we loved it!


Gramma, Morgy and me


Me and Dad


Karen and Anthony posing in front of an $18 million house in the background – crazy!


There was also a fantastic pool in the complex which we loved:


…where Morgy’s swimming improved a lot despite an ear infection which kept him out of the water for about 3 days near the beginning of the trip.


And then it was off to Orlando for a trip to Sea World.  Here’s Gramma and the boys at the penguins (whilst Mommy and Uncle Anthony were on the Manta Ray rollercoaster — LOVED IT!)


And later at the dolphin enclosure:


Here we are at a fantastic dolphin encounter, where we got to pet and feed a dolphin.  The temperature had plummetted overnight from 80F to 50F, so we had to put on all the layers we had!


What an amazing experience for the boys — thank you Gramma and Grampa!


I’m sorry if some of you feel it’s immoral or unethical to keep these animals in captivity.  I personally come to terms with it by thinking that the number of dolphins at Sea World is a tiny portion of the global dolphin population (several million), and that many dolphins in captivity live longer than their peers in the wild.  I also know that getting close to dolphins at Sea World when I was young was a life-changing experience, and believe that educating people about wildlife is the best way to raise awareness of human impact on the wider ecosystems they inhabit.  However perhaps after enduring our own Coronavirus captivity, you may see me demonstrating outside Sea World once we’re finally released!

So that takes me up to the end of February 2020.  I will leave you with one last photo of the boys at the beach.  I think it’s important to expose Morgy to all things American when we are there — irrespective of the nutritional value.


Stay safe everyone!  Lots of love from Cardiff in these crazy times.

The last of 2019

Happy new year everyone!  Any good plans or resolutions for the new year?  Or the new decade?  I will turn 40 later this year which seems a little bit surreal, but otherwise I haven’t made a 2020 to do list.  I did join a gym in December during my time off and am loving it.  I got pretty unfit with all the commuting in 2019 so I’ve been kicking my own butt to get back into shape – swimming, spinning, pilates, yoga, dance fitness — and I’ve just got an orientation to all the gym machines which I typically avoid because they look like medieval torture devices!  Today my pecs and hamstrings are particularly sore.

I start a new job next Monday at the Wales Audit Office as a project change manager.  I was intending on having a little break but as soon as I turned on my job alerts in December this role came up so I applied.  It seems a really good fit for my skills and is just 2 miles from the house with good flexibility and holiday leave.  I haven’t worked in the public sector here in the UK so am interested to see what it’s like and am excited to embark on another new adventure.

So let me just catch up on some of the happenings in the last couple of months in 2019… I left off in Wiltshire… the following weekend we met Estelle in Bristol at the SS Great Britain, a fantastic museum/exhibit!


According to wiki: “She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York.”  “She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854… and was advanced for her time.”


One of the reasons this was such an awesome exhibit is because you could actually walk under the waterline to see the hull, propeller and dry dock where the ship was built.  If you look at the picture above, it looks like the ship is in the water, but it’s an illusion.  They built a glass shelf around the ship which holds about 6 inches of water and a set of stairs that gives you access to the temperature and humidity-controlled space below!  It was super ingenious… just like Brunel himself apparently.  Until I came to this exhibit, I hadn’t heard of this man but he turns out to be a really famous British engineer, responsible for many civil engineering projects which are still in use today.  You should read about him on Wiki if you are interested in the history of civil engineering (maybe one or two of you?!).


Here’s Morg on deck — annoyingly no sails to set but never mind.  Below decks, they did a great job restoring and depicting life aboard, complete with crew quarters and a galley full of pots, pans and food they were likely to eat.  It was a really fab day out — a great meet up with an old friend and plenty to keep us all entertained and interested!  Thanks Estelle for this suggestion.


A few weeks later we were carving pumpkins with Morgy’s good friend Zeke and his dad Mat.


Mat and Zeke did an awesome Batman pumpkin which I sadly don’t have a photo of.  We went a bit nuts and carved three this year, including one of those tiny pumpkins.  I had never attempted a tiny pumpking carving but Morgy suggested it so we gave it a try.  He was very cute but we couldn’t leave his “hat” on otherwise the tea light would have burnt it – ahh the hazards of Halloween!


And then it was work, work, work until the end of my contract in November — as I mentioned in my previous post I really miss my lovely colleagues at the QAA!


Just before I finished up, we took a weekend trip to London to meet up with Hefin, Emma and Elis (family who lives in Norwich) and to see some of the touristy sites.  First stop was the Tower of London to see the crown jewels.  The boys loved trying on the armour:


…and seeing the guards marching back and forth.


Afterwards we walked across London Bridge:


And enjoyed “bottomless pizza” at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant close to the apartment we rented.  The boys devoured cheesecakes for dessert.


In the morning, we happened upon St. Paul’s just at mass time, which we managed to stay at quietly for a full 15 min 😉  The dome on this cathedral was absolutely amazing, both inside and out.


We walked over the Thames again towards the Tate Modern…


And then hopped onto a river taxi up towards the Houses of Parliament.  Big Ben is currently under scaffolding but the houses themselves are still very impressive buildings.  Dull day though, I know!!  It’s been a very wet and dark autumn and winter.  In any case, great to be in the capital to see some of these historic sites and great to catch up with Hef, Em and Elis!


November ended with a lovely Thanksgiving celebration at our house with neighbours and friends (from left Aled, Ed, Sarah, Paul, Anurag, Beth, Mat).


And of course the children pulling faces – Morgy, Oliver, Zeke and Tom…


…heralding the beginning of this year’s silly season!  In our house this means bringing in the Christmas tree from outside, with all it’s spiders and other small insects 😉  We are proud to share that this tree has been sucking in (a very small amount of) carbon dioxide for three years now.  A good Maori quote to describe this: Ahakoa he iti he pounamu (although it is small it is a treasure).  🙂


After I took that photo, unbeknownst to me a number of other photos were taken which I discovered only when I transferred them all to this laptop…


Yup Morgy got hold of the camera and took 100 pictures in the dining room.


…and showed us the xmas tree from a different perspective!


I am including this last one purely so I can mention the British election on 12 Dec 2019 in which the Liberal Democrats (whom Aled helped campaign for) and the Labour Party got absolutely thrashed by Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party.


For Remainers, this was a dark day.  For me, it marked 3.5 years of ongoing political turmoil here in the UK which is accomplishing nothing productive at all.  In my opinion it’s resulted in the UK being distracted from real issues such as the NHS (the public health service) and climate change.  As this issue is debated over and over, the country is going backwards in global perspective.  A famous quote from Mikail Gorbachov: “If you are not moving forwards you are moving backwards.”

We cheered ourselves up by making our wreath at Roath Park Pleasure Garden — one of my favourite pre-xmas activities:


Onwards to Christmas!  This year we were joined by Aled’s parents and brother Hefin and family.  Here are Nanna and Hefin on Christmas Eve.  Nanna and I enjoyed an afternoon at the theatre — we saw Les Miserable at the Millenium Centre down in Cardiff Bay and it was fantastic.  I absolutely love that production and know every song by heart!

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The boys made out like bandits on Christmas day:


Look at the delight!

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Naturally there was some “present envy” going on — these two photos demonstrate it perfectly:


“What have you got?”  Hilarious!


The weather was beautiful on Christmas Day so the boys were able to try out their new things — a new bike for Morgy and some roller skates for Elis!


Morgy really loves the new bike!


Then it was time to get cooking — we went non-traditional again this year with a lamb leg:


With plenty of help from my father-in-law Steve on the veg chopping, Auntie Emma’s amazing help in the kitchen, Nanna on table setting, and dads on child-distraction-present-trying duties, we turned out some delicious meals!


Here’s a lovely pic of Emma and Elis:


It was a wonderful holiday – thank you everyone for all the lovely presents and cards from around the world!

…and just before new years… the last highlight of the Christmas period… we caught up with an old friend from Wellington who is originally from Birmingham… that’s right folks, Rob and family!  By now he and Naomi have two little sprogs — the oldest one Mabel pictured here with Rob.  It was so nice to see them albeit briefly!  We miss you guys!


So that was 2019!  I wish you all the very best for 2020!  Enjoy it but please also if you could do something to help save the planet, I’d really appreciate it  XOXOXOX


Early autumn 2019

This post is long overdue but what can I say? I’ve been working so hard this year, in particular since returning from America in mid-August.  I was asked to stay on as an interim Programme Manager at the QAA to oversee the delivery of its membership outputs and line manage the Membership, Quality Enhancement and Standards team whilst a new director was recruited.  It was exhausting but a good challenge for me and I’m really proud of what we managed to achieve.  I finished up there in late November after a 5 week handover to the new director.

The QAA is full of lovely people and I really miss my colleagues there, as well as my lovely landlady Claire, whose house I lodged at a few nights a week.  I couldn’t have managed the commute or the time away from the boys without her hospitality, moral support, and delicious Monday night dinners 🙂  Cheers to you Claire!


I will also really miss the Gloucester Cathedral, a building that truly inspired me and which I never tired of photographing.  Here is the cathedral on a beautiful sunny morning.


And here in the early evening… seriously how did they do this a millenia ago…!  Go ancestors!  Thank you for this amazing workmanship.


So now back to late August, to share the happenings since returning from the USA… first stop was the National Museum in central Cardiff to see the snake exhibit.  Snakes literally give me goose bumps but that’s sort of irrelevant when you are the mum of scientist!  Check this crazy snake out — desperate to find a way out!


And here’s Morgy and Aled – note outstretched tongue on small blond snake!  Highly dangerous!


Later we wandered up into the galleries and came across a really cool exhibit by a British artist named David Nash.  He makes all sorts of sculptures out of wood, including this awesome tower made out of cork bark!


We headed out to Pembrokeshire over the August bank holiday weekend and enjoyed some really fantastic weather.  Here we are with Nanna at the pub down in Pwll Gwaelod.


The major triumph of the weekend was getting both my inlaws in our inflatable kayak!  Here’s Nanna in the kayak with Aled at Pwll Gwaelod — Taidi went out the following day from Cwm yr Eglwys beach on the other side of Dinas Head.


Aled and I also enjoyed some rare time to ourselves on a hike up Dinas Mountain at sunset and had some beautiful views of the cliffs:


The following morning we went out for a kayak from Cwm yr Eglwys and I was SO MAD I didn’t have a camera!  The scenery was really spectacular, with emerald green water swirling around some impressive sea stacks and some amazing geological folds in the cliffs.  Really beautiful.

Back in Cardiff the following week, Morgan started Year 1 at Marlborough Primary School.  This is the only pic Aled got of him — annoyingly eyes closed!


Outside of work and school, we went on some adventures in September and October.  First was a short trip up to Symonds Yat for a hike in the Wye Valley, a lovely part of the world.


We hiked down to the river, passing a tree that had thousands of coins in it — just like in the Lake District!  What a strange phenomenon!


And then by the riverside, we had a butterfly photography competition.  Morgan had become fascinated with butterflies over the summer, especially after Taidi gifted him with several caterpillars in August.  They are now in a jar on the bookshelf, safe in their little chrysallises (sp? unsure of plural ha!), awaiting warmer weather.


That weekend we also stumbled upon a Mini convention down in Cardiff Bay!


Next was a local outing led by our neighbours Paul and Anurag – up the tower at St. Margaret’s church on the edge of Waterloo Gardens, one of the parks near our house.  (I will add here how delighted I am to see the flower beds growing after two summers without them whilst the flood defences were being built – humph!)


I don’t actually have a picture of the church from the outside but if you are desperate, you can read about it here.  In any case, the tower is only open once or twice a year and we’ve all been meaning to climb it — so thank you Paul and Anurag for paying attention to when it was open this year!

First a shot of the lovely mosaics at the bottom…


Here we go, up a very small spiral stair case…


Some beautiful light streaming through as we near the last ladder…


Nearly there…


And here we are!


It was cool to see our neighbourhood from above — certainly a different perspective of Penylan.


And then it was my birthday — one more year til 40 yikes!!  Where does the time go?


In October, we headed east to visit Aled’s eldest brother William, Claire, Owen, Alex and Dylan in Wokingham.  The weather was pretty horrible but it did not deter us from getting out and exploring Windsor… by boat!


That’s right folks, when you’ve got torrential downpour, don’t fight it — get on a duck tour!  Fun was had by all!  Here’s William, Claire and Dylan.


…and Dylan, Morgy and Alex.


All the pictures of me, Aled and Owen were blurry 🙁

Here’s a picture of the famous Windsor Castle — look at this miserable weather!  (Why do these people cling so stubbornly to this rainy rock?)  Weather aside, it’s great to connect with our British family here and Morgy loves playing with his cousins.  Thank you William and Claire for a lovely weekend  as always XOXO


On the way back west, we took a small detour south to pop into Nic and Liz who live in a beautiful village in Wiltshire.  Look, their roof is thatched!  Isn’t it awesome!?


Their village is so picturesque!


And they’ve got a new, adorable puppy named Arthur who was just bursting with energy — so cute!!


(Thanks for a lovely meal guys!)

… I am getting a bit tired so will stop here for now and pick up where I left off in the next post… a fantastic outing to Bristol to see the SS Great Britania with Estelle! XOXOX

New Jersey 2019

… a 5 hour flight from Reykjavik later and we were in New Jersey!  I won’t bore you with the details but it took 2 hours to get through customs at Newark Airport — a truly infuriating experience when all you want to do is give your parents a big hug after arriving in one’s home country 🙁

Anyways that trial endured, we were welcomed home in Wyckoff and had a really nice time at Gramma and Grampa’s!  Morgy, Jack and Joey love the pool — and I love this pic.  A very American scene with an inflatable gummy bear making an appearance — fantastic!!


As always, there were lots of wonderful family gatherings and it was great to see you all – thanks everyone for coming to see us! Here we are in the pool at the cousins gathering:


In the next picture you’ll see Josh and Rachel on the left who are expecting their first child (any second now!).  Then Karen, Anthony, Jack, and Joey, Aled and Morgy, my cousin Chris with Vivi and Alejandro, and me.


Here’s my Mom and her sister Aunt Carolyn with their grandkids – we’re teaching them to do our classic “funny face cousins picture”.  So cute!


Here we are with our close family friends, Lou and Andrea:


And here with my parents, Aunt Elena, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Doug and Gramma Arizona celebrating Uncle Charlie’s birthday with an ice cream cake:


Later in the week we also got to hang out with Rosemary and Sam, longtime family friends (no pic of Sammy sorry!).  Here is Rosemary reading Morgy a book about trains– thank you for all the presents!  The water balloons and mini-sloth were a major hit.


No trip to New Jersey is complete without a visit to the Jersey shore where my Mom grew up and where my Gramma and Uncle Doug now live.  We all love being down by the ocean, even though Aled prefers the more varied Pembrokeshire beaches.  I love all beaches, as long as it’s sunny and warm outside and the beach is free from jellyfish, sea weed and trash 🙂


I certainly couldn’t complain about the temperature when we were in New Jersey.  In August it was consistently in the mid to high 80s (30C) with humidity.  That sort of heat is typically too hot for British people but as long as there’s a pool or beach nearby, I absolutely love it!  It’s a heat that gets into the bones and gets me through the colder times of year (that’s my theory anyways!).  I think I’m like my Gramma though — we love the sun.

Here’s Aled and Gramma Arizona, now 88 and still refusing to wear sun tan lotion!


And the boys by the waves with Uncle Doug on life guard duty:


Morgy found plenty of tiny creatures in the sand, including this crab which he shared with Gramma:


Then down to the Boardwalk for some rides!


It’s nearly impossible to get a picture with all the boys looking but I try it every year!


One important aspect of bringing Morgy to the United States is to expose him to all things American.  After a huge piece of pizza at 3 Brother’s on the Boardwalk I also got this delicious funnel cake!  Can’t remember the last time I had one of these…!  Fried dough with powdered sugar on top – yum.  Typically I try and hold back with all the unhealthy treats you can get your hands on in America — not this time!


We had two really interesting outings in New York City on this trip.  Morgy hadn’t been to the Big Apple prior to this trip and I thought it was time to show him a really tall building, as we don’t really have that many in the UK.  (A quick google reveals that the highest building in the UK is the Shard in London, at just over 1000 feet.)

I was stuck between the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower, the sky scraper that was built to replace the Twin Towers.  In the end, we opted for the Freedom Tower because it is the highest building in America at 1776 feet tall — it is also the 7th highest building in the world.


I haven’t considered going down to this site since the disaster in 2001 — mostly because I wasn’t ready to face it — and I certainly wasn’t going to explain to Morgan how this amazing tower came to be.  So I sort of compartmentalized the whole thing (as best as one is able to ignore a generation-defining catatrophe) and just focused on the engineering feat that reached high into the crystal clear sky on this glorious August morning.

The view was spectacular:


And impressed us all:


I kept it together pretty well until we got back down to street level and walked towards the memorial fountains.  The tears welled up as Morgy ran ahead towards it to see the water cascading down into what appears to be an endless abyss. I remember there being lots of discussion and debate about the memorial’s design and I have to say I thought the concept, shape, and form evoked the right response (endless grief and deep contemplation).  Contrasted with the stark white skeleton-like shape in the background, the reflection pool brings a mess of emotions, feelings and thoughts to the fore.  As ever, New York City’s scale and boldness never fails to awe the on-looker and this monument is no exception.


Design ingenuity aside, I coudn’t really bear to read the names chiselled into the sides — it was just too heart wrenching.

Onto less tragic photos… we headed down to South Street Seaport for a look at the boats…


And shared a New York City treat, the giant pretzel, another first for Morgy:


One of the last adventures we went on was to Yankee Stadium.  Thanks to my sister Karen for getting the tickets and to my brother-in-law Anthony for help with the parking!  Here I am with Morgy and Jack with their popcorn.


I think that’s what Morgy mostly remembers from his time at the ball game – munch munch munch!


As always it was a great visit stateside — thanks everyone for such a nice time XOXOXO

PS – I only had time to see one old friend this time around, so sorry if I missed anyone. That was Lisa T from high school and for the third year running, I’ve managed to come back to the UK with no photographic evidence.  Shameful.  😉