A good place

I think I’d be lying if I said the last few days haven’t been just wonderful.

It all started last week where a change of work plans meant I’d be able to work from home the last 2 days of the week. Ideal as I had a half day on the Thursday and the eldest was doing her class assembly on the Friday morning 🙂

The half day on the Thursday was booked so I could go to the hospital with the wife for the 20 week scan on our 6th child! Scan was great but we then had an appointment booked with the consultant to discuss how we are going to proceed with regards to the birth.

Our previous history in a nutshell as been C/S, followed by 2 natural births in hospital, a natural birth at home and finally a C/S. As usual we are expecting to have a large baby (the smallest so far was the 2nd @ 9lb 6oz, biggest 11lb 7oz) and due to the 2 previous C/S she is classed as a “complicated” birth. I think we where both rather nervous as we waited patiently for the consultant in the side-room. When his assistant came through and we started talking I thought I was dreaming.

She pretty much said they would support us in our decision to try and have a natural birth! This came as a huge shock as with the last 3 they have tried various scare tactics to try and bully us into having a C/S. Thankfully my wife is rather well read on the various risks associated with this so will usually challenge them if they give unusually high statistics but found that none of that was needed this time. Immediately I could sense she had calmed down and I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders as it actually felt as if we had the hospital on our side rather then trying to block our attempts at a natural birth. A strong emphasis was placed on the fact that they couldn’t do anything that the wife didn’t consent to. She knows all to well that she doesn’t labour well if restricted to a bed and hooked up to a monitor. During the homebirth of our 4th daughter she did the whole thing with no pain relief as she was just left to “get on with it” (for want of a better phrase) it was an incredible experience to be able to lay down to sleep early that morning with my wife and our daughter who was about an hour old 😀

On the Friday the work that I was doing was rather repetitive so I took a break in the morning to see the eldest do her assembly and then again in the afternoon to attend the playgroup with the wife and no.5 (I’m a big kid and love a good play so a chance to have a mess around with mine and a couple of other kids is one I’d rarely pass up!) It was then that I realized another advantage of working from home. I could work “late” to make up for the extra time I’d taken out during the day which also worked out well as I was working when the kids had gone to bed so could concerntrate better 🙂

Of course all this goodness couldn’t have gone un-answered as it appears the kids had picked up a vomitting bug……queue 4 of them with Exorcist style vomitting sessions and each one being issued a sick bucket! Despite our best effort pretty much all the soft covers and bedsheets have needed to visit the washing machine over the weekend! It’s amazing how well you develop the ability to breath via your mouth as a parent 🙂

Rain doesn’t stop play

How do you know when your a proper cyclist? When you consider buying a bike that’s worth more then a second hand car? (check) Own one of the aforementioned bikes? (not yet!) or when you’ll happily head out for a ride when all the weather reports are predicting a huge storm heading your way?

That last one sums me up this past Sunday. Despite the weather reports predicting doom and gloom, with 3-4″ rain and 20+mph winds I was getting the waterproof gear on and preparing to go out for a 60 mile ride!

After almost a month of planning I was buggered if I was going to let a little bad weather ruin the day, the original plans before the apocolyptic weather forecast would have seen about 20 people meeting up at Crystal Palace Park in South London for a nice little jaunt around the Kent Hills. Unfortunately due to the inclement weather only 3 of us turned up and I think that was because each of us lived within a reasonable distance from the start point! Except for Sam that is, who’d ridden from North London to do a Dulwich Paragon ride but none of those jessies turned up! She joined us for about 15 miles before turning back due to a niggling knee problem 😦 Most other attendees where looking at 7-10+ mile rides to get to the start and the rain was heaviest in the morning!

We chose to do the 45 mile route and set off for our planned lunch stop, a pub somewhere in in Kent (the Royal Oak I think). It started off all fairly sane as we where on main roads, it wasn’t until we got to the country lanes that the proper fun started! As we climbed some of the lanes we where meet with literally a stream of water heading back down! Whilst it was only drizzling at the time, the rain the previous night that had fallen on already saturated ground, turned the lanes into streams and I felt like a salmon in the mating season!

This in itself was quite amusing but some of the huge puddles we past/had to ride through where just great! It’s never a good sign when you see 4×4’s ahead spray water over the hedgerow, you just have to hope you get past that section before the water returns 🙂 Neither is spotting a water feature in the middle of the road as the drain is overflowing (pic to follow…)

By the time we made it to the pub the 3 of us where thoroughly soaked but the pub landlady was very kind and didn’t mind us hanging our soaking gloves/hats/overshoes/jackets etc on/near the radiator to dry 🙂 The food was excellent, very tasty sausages and mash with a great selection of veg. The coffee and fudge finished it off nicely and prepared us well for the climb up Croakham Hill that started about 0.1 miles from leaving the pub!

After that climb we had an excellent run down towards Westerham and I then got to tackle Croydon Road (I think) for the first time heading north (usually I come down this bit, so knew it was up hill!) – cue more flooded roads except this time the water had a decidely “pungent” smell, really had to think twice about taking a drink from the bottle after that setcion 😦

After a few more miles of lovely country lanes, including a little section that tested out bike handling skills as we picked a line through deposited piles of rocks/stones (not something you want to hit on skinny tyres @ 20mph) we re-joined civilzation and found our way back to the start. One rider peeled off early as, understandably, he didn’t fancy climbing Crystal Palace hill to have to turn back around to get home!

I got back home to find I’d left my keys indoors and the wife was at my parents house so I  add another 5 miles to the daily total once I’d riddent there,  had a shower and hot drink, then headed home with them again!

All in I did about 53 miles for the day and had a right blast! I’d say I’m certainly a certifiable cyclist 😀