Slightly odd – and very British – tips for expectant mothers

As you may know, we’ve recently had a baby boy, but before that I was pregnant (funny that…) and the the internet is just full of bat shit insane and down right dangerous / terrifying information for mums to be. In this sea of chaos was an oasis of sense – /r/babybumps – well, sense and an inordinate number of watermelon related posts.

Anyway, 6 weeks post-birth I returned to thank them for their help and to offer my own tips, the lovely people of Reddit agreed with my tips so I’m blogging them for prosperity.

(NB the american redditors were a little baffled by the focus on tea and toast in my post-birth life, but as you know, that’s exactly how a brit copes with everything and anything)

Here we go:

As I have now been a mother for almost 6 whole weeks, I’m fully qualified to pass on some tips 😉 I know you’re all covered on the usual stuff (lip balm – yes!) but here are my top slightly off wall tips.

Full disclosure: I’m a technical project manager and I’ve suffered from a chronic fatigue syndrome so I’m good at being organised whilst being a tired zombie- that training helped, but may explain some of the odder tips below…

But first, advice – nothing will go as planned, it’s bloody hard and you can do it. Make sure you and your birth partner know the options, make it clear to the midwives that yes, you will be asking for the pros and cons of everything but if you’re informed you can make choices there and then and know you’re doing the best in that situation, this gives great peace of mind. Also as we both knew the plan, I could delegate choices to my hubby when I just couldn’t cope – he was amazing, asked all the right questions and made the right things happen 🙂

Anyway, our top tips:

  1. Water bottle. Go and buy a large good one NOW, you will need it during labour, you need it now to keep yourself hydrated and dear god you will need it when breast feeding. You will be soooo dehydrated. Get a decent one!
  2. Get one for your partner too! Put it in their hospital bag and tell them to drink. Labour takes forever, when your sidekick gives you water, they should drink a swing too. The midwives went to get the hubby a cuppa at one point but my bp dropped so there was a flurry and it was about an hour later before we looked over to him and saw him fading! Make sure your man can keep hydrated.
  3. Make sure he eats something. Yes I know you’re the main player here but you’ll need him later – I stuck harribo and chocolate in his bag, he forgot about it and looked very very pale after about 24 hours. Dread to think how I looked! Actually I took a photo, I looked terrible. I couldn’t eat as I was at risk of cesarean – the darling baby wasn’t looking the right way which was…inconvenient! Anyway, once the beloved had had some sugar he looked much better.
  4. 3m long phone charging cables. You may be stuck in hospital for some time, being able to sit in bed on charge was great – you know how long those beds are and how far away from the wall sockets they can be, 3m was awesome. Also get your home set up now, you will be sat for hours all over the place feeding, decent length cables can trail over the backs of sofas etc. I used these, a couple of quid and they are fab. Order now!
  5. You’re going to feed horrid, get some really really nice shower gel and face wash, I know it sounds daft but decent face wash and really nice shower gel will make you feel human. You’ve already spent a small fortune getting ready for the baby, this is a drop in the ocean. You deserve it. Plus middle of the night, washing your face can give you a new burst of energy.
  6. Go to Costco and buy breakfast bars (their own brand are yummy!) and some small chocolate bars or something similar. This is what you will live on the first couple of days, and that’s ok 🙂 we have a rule that if you do a night feed, you totally can have a caramel freddo bar! We also bought a tray of tins of bakes beans, anyone can make beans on toast with one hand whilst calming a screaming baby.
  7. Get a milkman! Do they have those in America? We’ve signed up with Milk and More here in the UK. So once a week we get milk and bread delivered – you can do anything as long as you can make tea and toast.
  8. Get a shopping basket, we have an old fashioned wicker one. Why? You will spend your life going from room to room and floor to floor in your house with one hand carrying the baby, a basket will allow you to move more than one thing. You can also use it to clear out all the mugs that will end up all over your house. Trust me on this one! It’ll save you a lot of effort 🙂
  9. Pyjamas with pockets. You will be doing a lot of walking around with a baby in your arms – you need to be able to put your phone somewhere, or store a bottle etc. Chaps too.
  10. If nights are hell, get a thermos flask, a hot cup of tea or coffee may just recapture your sanity at 4am after an hour of being screamed at. It’s rather civilised!
  11. Remember this – both you and your partner are perfectly capable, no don’t fall for any of that crap about ditsy dads, apart from breast feeding there is nothing the chaps can’t do, do it all together, yes things will change when one or both of you are back at work but that first week is a team effort, you’ll be fantastic.

Everyone is different, but hopefully some of this will help. Good luck, you’re going to kick arse.

We had a baby

Yes, we had a baby! He’s called Harlyn James and naturally we think he’s adorable.

But that does explain why I’ve been so quiet on the internet front – turns out pregnancy is hard! As is looking after a teeny tiny baby. The less said about labour the better at this stage I think…


There are many aspects of the whole pregnancy, childbirth, newborn life I will probably blog about later on, but for now I’m off to bed – I need to feed the boy shortly and we have a busy day tomorrow, at 11 weeks old we’re going swimming for the first time… he has a more hectic schedule than me.


Fluffy eggs


Yes I know, it’s been 2 years since I last blogged – I’ll get to that. But first, Fluffy Eggs. A new breakfast / brunch / I’m hungry and time no longer has any meaning….dish.

If I can whip these up in my current state, anyone can. I more or less followed this recipe – the only tip I would add was I put each egg yoke into it’s own shot glass so I could then deploy it into it’s fluffy egg white cloud directly.



Happy New Year 2014

Happy new year everyone. It’s 2014, doesn’t time fly.

It’s January, which means only one thing – the great board game play through of 2014.

The rules
– Each board game in the house must be played once
– No repeates
– No new board games must be bought by either player before all games in the house are played.
– All variations of each game must be played

We just created the list – we have 59 board games in the house… this may be a long January!


Board Games

Ham Pasta Recipe


WP_20130806_022A very simple and healthy pasta dish. It was cooked on an advert for I think Waistrose years ago, but I can’t find a reference to it now. Good staple, very easy and very tasty.

The Cast:
– Bow pasta
– Spring onions
– Thin ham
– Creme Fraiche
– Olive oil spray
– Black pepper (not shown)
– Parsley (Optional)
Put the pasta on to cook
Spray a wok generously with the olive oil spray
chop the spring onions and start to gently fry.
Chop the ham – as hard as it may be, do not be neat about this or it will all stick together! WP_20130806_015
Throw into the pan with the spring onions – don’t let them burn. You’re trying to fry the onions and heat the ham, not crisp it. You’ll probiably have to turn it off whilst you wait for the pasta to finish cookingMake sure the Creme Fraiche is out of the fridge! WP_20130806_017
 Drain the cooked pasta and add to the wok WP_20130806_018
 Stir it all together WP_20130806_019
 You want the ham distributed evenly.Turn off the heat, add the Creme Fraiche and stir! WP_20130806_020
Add plenty of ground black pepper and some parsley if you have it. 




May 2012

So what have I been upto this month? A quick recap!
  • It’s play time – memory of water in the village. It looks fantastic, I’m on lighting this time. Luckily a lot of my Noda lighting course in August 2009 is coming back to me.
    • It’s a lot like sound.
  • Currently reading a book – Prince of Thorns, so far it’s good if bleak.
  • The last book I read was the first in a trilogy – The-Traitors-Heir, very good, written by someone from my old school.
  • Booked a trip to Bruges for late June with the beloved, 5 days – beer, chocolate, canals, chips and muscles 🙂
  • Off to dddsw this afternoon, looking forward to another interesting weekend – last year was an eye opener, yes I met the beloved but I also learnt about Kanban for the first time and had my eyes opened to the life changing concept of test driven development.
  • Today my Raspberry pi arrived! Very exciting.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with it. I haven’t even got a hdmi cable… I feel like a terrible hardware-mother, it’s like bringing a baby home without having a pram…
I’m sure it’ll be fine and it won’t resent me, although I’m expecting some hardware failures when it hits its teens…
As I’m busy with rehearsals for the next two weeks I won’t get a chance to have a proper tinker with it for while but I’m still pleased 🙂
Post arrived! Squee

  • my mashed potatoes – mix in a small amount of cheese, dash of milk, possibly butter, plenty of pepper and the secret ingredient – a teaspoon of horseradish – serve with poached eggs, lovely.
  • millionaire shortbread – I followed the recipe on the tin but made my own shortbread
  • lots of variations of my tomato pasta recipe

first attempt at Millionaires Shortbread...poached eggs on onion/cheese/horseradish mash. Rather yummy


  • The Avengers Assembled – assembled as I saw it it the uk where the Avengers is something completely different. Good fun film
  • more game of thrones
  • still ploughin through star trek TNG – really enjoying it now I’m past the first season
  • In the Star Trek theme – watched the documentary Trekkies on netflicks
  • And yet more – saw the documentary The Captains
  • – the Saboteur play list on spotify – see below


  • My education is gaming is continuing, I’ve been brought The  Saboteur which is really enjoyable, once you get past the rather… stylised Irish accent. It looks and sound good, I’m enjoying the sound track.
  • I brought farm frenzy 3 on the iPad a few months ago when it was on sale and I’ve been powering through that, it’s a lot more addictive than a game that involves gathering milk/eggs/fleece has any right to be


  • couple of upgrades recently
  • couple of new projects
  • one of which involved a significant amount of data manipulation in and out of 3 SQL server databases, it even included a multi-sheeted spreadsheet. This makes a very happy Amy!

Nice reflections today #officeviews

Cat got my tongue?

You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged much recently. Or at all.

(I wonder what percentage of blog posts are of the type “Sorry I have’t blogged much recently but my uber exciting life has got in the way”?)

Why so silent? I have to admit, the cat’s got my tongue. I still have things I want to say but I didn’t know if I should, could or how, then I became rusty and lost my voice. It’s a vicious cycle of over thinking.

we have a cat in a box situation. mandatory images posted to interwebs cc @damejudiofdench
A cat - no tounge

There are many reasons why the blogging stopped, some of which need explaining.

The company I work for has embraced social media, mainly twitter but there are also some spiffing YouTube videos out there with backing tracks that IN NO WAY resemble 1970s porn music.

As you no doubt know I’m rather fond of crafting the odd tweet, but should I interact with the corporate twitter accounts – accounts talking about one of the most important things in my life, our product family? What if a client sees me retweeting something important, looks at my feed and realises that, yes, my guilty secret is occasionally watching XFactor and tweeting about it? Or my amdram obsession? Would YOU let your mission critical software be written by a person who obsessively posts pictures of food?

du pan, du vin, du boursinOo, I can make toad in the hole!Toffee on to set!No idea if this is going to work, scallops wrapped in bacon!Terrible piping. Kettle is on ready to test...

Or, would you rather engage a company who employs faceless drones? Is it better to just not know?

Should we be as professional as we would be in a client meeting at all times, or does that come across as dull and, at worst, fake? That’s certainly an attribute you never want to have in people you employ.

I have always been of the opinion that you should never put anything online that you wouldn’t say to anyone face-to-face. This was a pretty good rule of thumb in the 90s when everyone wasn’t hyper-connected but now, everything feels much more traceable.

As an example, let’s say I post a tweet linking to a photo in my flickr stream, the previous photo was of me out with friends, one of which is tagged, the client follows that tag to the other persons flickr stream, and then there’s a picture of me in their stream doing something not development related like, oh I don’t know, drinking? Dancing? Playing video games? In a church?  Basically doing – well, anything that isn’t development – and potentially something that the viewer finds offensive.

I don’t feel the need to keep my life a secret, or anything I do – if I do it, well, it’s me, take all of me or none of me – even if that means accepting that I’ve sat in classy bars knitting….

But what if this picture of a complete person ever reflects back badly on my employers rather wonderful product?

(Warning: this next paragraph may not be fashionable, it certainly isn’t cool and it may even make you a little nauseous.)

I adore my company’s product. Our main product is spectacularly powerful – (working) life changingly powerful. It can revolutionise oganisations. I truly do not know how people live day to day without it – or something like it. And I never want to reflect badly on it.

When I was employed about in April 2005 employers only needed to worry about their employees during the working day. As long as they turned up, looked smart, worked hard, and didn’t do something so spectacuarly stupid that they end up in the tabloids and brought the company into disrepute everything was peachy. Now employer’s have to consider their people’s online identities. Or do they? And should they?

So, I’ve been quiet, trying not to scare off that most timid of beasts – the new corporate account runners, but enough is enough.

I am not just a developer, I am a whole person.

I live, love, cook, dream – and I’m back.

Tonight involved unpicking... #crochet cc @dtsnSlightly odd Hobby 1
Ambassador - Set Build
Odd hobby 2 - Amdram

Back in the village for a funeral of a genuinely good person, RIPThank you for my Christmas Whisky Rocks @boffbowsh squeeI think @bakerleuk and @james_hodgson know me too well! Best gift ever! Thanks guys x

Three things that might cause offence – Church, Drinking and an unhealthy love of spreadsheets – take it or leave it!


Vanouver 2011I’m currently in Vancouver, Canada – this city is food obsessed, I love it!

Breakfast, oh yes

Vanouver 2011Vanouver 2011

I am learning Python between times – I’m becoming rather fond of the language I must say, more of that another time.

Gadget update: I love my sony ereader, this holiday is really showing it’s worth from a weight-saving point of view only.

Vanouver 2011But as much as I love my ereader, it’s not a patch on how devoted the parents are to their kindles! Every time we sit down to have a coffee, beer or to look at a view, they wipe them out and start reading. I would recomend them for distracting oldies on long flights!

Vanouver 2011

A PHP developer lost in .net land

Blimey that was fun!

I am back from an extremely interesting weekend at Developer Developer Developer South West – a day long tech conference loosely based about .NET technologies.

Now as you may know, I’m a php developer – so what on earth was I doing there?

I’ve never been snobby about languages, they are means to an end – producing a product that does what it needs to do, and making the world a better place. How you get there isn’t really important to anyone other than the development team, so no, just because I haven’t touched .Net in years didn’t worry me, I was sure I would still get something out of the sessions – and I did.

Another reason was to feed my secret geeky need to revel in the way different people approach things – why do people from one technology stack approach problems in a certain way? And what do they do that I and the world I live in don’t, and is it better? What Can I Pillage?

Also, I thought it would be fun – I ended up at the pre-drinks for DDD Reading a year or so ago and they seemed like a good crowd. The DDDSW people were charming, intelligent individuals happy to have their brains picked by anyone.

It was a remarkably valuable day. We are all working in the same industry, we all have the same goals – to produce solutions that are as good as we can possible make them within the constraints time, money and clients give us – and the knowledge and insights shared will stay with me for a while.

So, thoughts?

I’m about to open my code editor for the first time today – I’m not sure if I’m going to run screaming from the room crying “My eyes! My eyes!” when I see it, or roll around in my beloved php code like a dog in a muddle puddle happy to be home.

Will I be abandoning my first true love of PHP and embracing the .Net goodness? Not this week. But I have a project ‘radiator’ already doodled down and I’m eyeing up that blank wall behind me for potential kanban goodness. I’ve just been on a book buying rampage on O’Reilly and I’m pretty sure I’ll be using jQuery templates within the next few days.

Either way, I know I’ll never look at code in quite the same way again – I’m blaming the Test Driven Development session for that. Thinking about tests before you write the code and hence letting that guide your code design was the biggest Aha! moment of the day.

So I say this to you my friends, go forth and meet your fellow developers, no matter their platform, language or workflow – we need to share our ideas, our philosophies and our passion. And drink beer.

Knitting a Doctor Who Scarf

This weekend I gave my friend Ben his birthday present – a replicate, hand knitted, Doctor Who scarf.

Luckily he liked it!

I made a Tom Baker #doctorwho scarf :-)

When your life is full of social media, keeping a secret is hard – I’ve been knitting this scarf since before Christmas and finished it at 3:20am on 2nd April. 2011. In that time I haven’t been able to mention it online at all incase he heard about it – we’re both active twitter users, we’re both friends on facebook, we subscribe to each other’s blog RSS (don’t you Ben…?).

And of course I had  to instruct all our mutual friends to not say a word online either.

Doctor Who ScarfDoctor Who Scarf

As someone that tells the world what I’m doing, keeping a big project like this under wraps has not been easy! But also quite an interesting experiment. Occatioanlly I would tweet about what percentage I had left – courtesy of my spreadsheet

The scarf itself was made from a pattern on the site – the “original”, which is one of the shorter patterns available – remember when I started this project I could hardly knit! Oh I can now… if you ever want to learn how to knit, this is the project for you!

There was 1042 rows in the scarf, with 60 stitches across – a total of 62,520 stitches.

As I’m a slow knitting this took about 3 minutes a row (that’s 3 seconds a stitch allowing to turning etc), so that means this took just over 52 hours – and that’s without sewing in the ends, blocking and the tassels!

As I had wool left over I made a scaled down version for Darren, he seemed bemused which is exactly the reaction I want when I give someone something, which quite frankly, lets face it – it crazy.

Doctor Who Scarf

My thanks to my mother and Katharine ‘The Sorceress’ for helping me knitting part of it!

I hope that Ben enjoys his scarf and wears it to many-a-geeky event, or just snuggled on the sofa at home watching the latest series.

Am I ever going to make something this large again? Oh yes – well, I want one for myself!