Monday 31 March 2014

March Happiness

Five things which have made me smile this month...
1. A delicious breakfast at Whitehall Garden Centre.

Whitehall Garden Centre breakfast

2. The apparent 'best qualities' which Andrew came up with!
3. The absolutely lovely things Jenny said about this little piece of the internet over on her blog, Sunny Sweet Pea.
Sunny Sweet Pea
4. The reaction on here and on Twitter to what I published about Down's Syndrome Awareness Week - I never realised something I wrote so easily would have such a big impact!
My brother at the fair
5. Being able to start IVF treatment again without having to wait several months.

What little things have made you happy this month?

100 Happy Days #8

The eighth instalment of my attempt to catalogue 100 Happy Days... :-)
Saturday 22nd March

Duck with a new haircut
New haircut!

Sunday 23rd March

99 Ice Cream
Andrew dashed out in a hurry only to return clutching two of these - I can't remember the last time I had a 99!

Monday 24th March

Three little presents
One of the girls in the office finished her maternity cover contract last week and on Monday morning there were three little packages waiting for us all (counting down the number of days she had left to work) - inside the bag were three different types of sweets.

Tuesday 25th March

Dewey by Vicki Myron
My blogger book swap package arrived that day - containing a fab book about a library cat called Dewey.

Wednesday 26th March

Mystery package
A mystery bag was brought home today - click here to see what it contained...

Thursday 27th March

Garden at RUH Bath
Andrew's dad was readmitted to hospital on Wednesday (luckily only temporarily; he was out by Friday afternoon). That wasn't a happy thing but the garden area just down from his ward was very pretty!

Friday 28th March

Ducks at the holiday chalet
On arrival at our holiday camping pod we have a little welcoming commitee :-)

Saturday 29th March

Crockery and vintage dress
Very pleased to have picked up some more Arcopal Scania crockery (and a retro dress) in the charity shops.

Sunday 30th March

West Somerset Railway Steam Trains
More sunshine, more steam trains!

Monday 31st March
Style at Home Magazine
Another month of my fab Christmas present from lovely friend M - it's always exciting when this drops through the letterbox!
Previous instalments can be found here...

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...
Holidaying - in a little 'Camping Pod' (for which, read 'shed') on a campsite at Blue Anchor near Minehead.
We usually head to that area of the country this weekend because the West Somerset Railway (the longest preserved railway line in the UK, don'cha know) has a Spring Steam Gala festival with lots of special engines and stalls.

Ravingham Hall at West Somerset Railway
Almost every other year we've just gone down for the day but last November I decided to buy Andrew a weekend away as his Christmas present and the holiday park we stayed at was somewhere his grandparents used to stay 20-30 years ago.

Camping pods at Blue Anchor

Stumbling - upon some of my favourite crockery (Scania by French manufacturer Arcopal) in a charity shop. Apparently they only arrived in the shop on Saturday morning and we nabbed them Saturday afternoon! I also spotted some vintage (well probably 80s so possibly more retro than vintage) dresses around the shops as well.

Scania crockery and vintage dresses

Enjoying - the sunny weather.
We were actually stood around on the station platforms with no coat - that's pretty amazing!

Sunshine at Blue Anchor towards Minehead

Messing - around with the vintage signs on the station platforms. Whaddya think? :-)
Andrew in front of a vintage Pratt's sign

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Saturday 29 March 2014

What It's Like To Have IVF

{Quick warning - this post contains pictures of needles, so if you're squeamish, you might want to skip this!}

Well, the first thing to say is that the answer to the blog post title is (although it's a terrible cliche), it is exactly like this...

Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The second thing to mention (the bad news part) is that despite everything being 'textbook', my IVF treatment back in February didn't actually work. We found out at the beginning of March; it's funny really that the whole treatment process is full of scans and monitoring but at the end of the two week wait, you find out whether you're pregnant or not the same way as almost every other woman - a little stick with either one or two lines on it.

The third bit of news however (the good news part) is this...

Mystery Bag
If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the pic above which I posted last Wednesday as my 100 Happy Days pic. The big (or possibly not so big really) mystery is that the bag contained a fresh set of drugs and by the time you're all reading this, I'll already be 4 days into my second IVF treatment cycle - yay!
Not that that's something most people would be happy about but we did wonder whether we might have to wait a few months before trying again so being told we could start whenever we were ready (and on the correct day of course) was absolutely fabulous news!

So back to the original title - what is it like to have IVF?

It's heart-wrenching.
It's amazing.
It's completely up and down.
And every other emotion you can imagine along the way.
You'll lose count of the amount of people who've seen your bits.
You'll hang on each and every word the nurses and consultant say.
You'll learn more about the human body and biology than you ever wanted to know.
You'll end up with IVF being almost all you can think about.
You'll swing from huge amounts of optimism to huge amounts of negativity.
And after all that, you still might end up empty handed.

I'll try and summarise the science-y bit...

First of all, there's a few different routes (called protocols) that get you to the same end result and every single fertility clinic seems to operate with their own ideas and methods.

My protocol was called the Long Protocol (designed for women who don't ovulate naturally like myself - 50% of our problem is me, I have PCOS). This protocol involves several stages:

1. Take a tablet once a day to induce a period so your body is completely fresh, so to speak - for me this drug was Provera.
2. At the same time take another drug to switch off the pituary gland in your brain. This is what produces all the hormones in your body so switching that off put you into a menopausal state (called the Down-Regulation Stage) - my drug was Suprecur which involved a delightful nasal spray four times a day.
3. After about 2-3 weeks of sniffing, you get scanned by the nurses at the clinic to make sure everything in your body is quiet and switched off.
4. Then comes the lovely stage called Stimulating where you inject yourself each morning for about 10-14 days with a FSH (follicle stimulating hormome) drug which does exactly what it says on the can. My drug was called Gonal-F and the idea literally is to try and get your ovaries to produce several follicles which hopefully then each contain an egg.

IVF treatment drugs

During the time you're injecting you'll be scanned by the nurses to see how everything's responding and when there's several follicles of a particular size, you inject yourself one last time with what's called a HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) drug - mine was called Ovitrelle. This matures your follicles so they're (hopefully) ready to release an egg and 36 hours later you're on your back, sedated (although I was completely out cold) so the consultant can stick a needle up your chuff and drain each follicle in turn. Oh and while you've got your legs in the air, the other half has to sheepishly 'do his thang' with a few mags and a small container...

Ovitrelle HCG injection

Then while the embryologists are weaving their magic, it's an incredibly tense waiting game to see if: a) any of the follicles actually contained eggs; b) the eggs were actually any good; c) the wrigglies were actually any good; d) the eggs and wrigglies actually got their game on and fertilised overnight; e) they actually start dividing properly; f) they actually keep dividing properly each day and g) there's actually one embryo good enough to stick back up there two, three or five days later.

And if you're still winning the game as far as G (and if you're still reading, give yourself a huge pat on the back) then you're sent on your merry way to try and resist peeing on a stick every day for the next two weeks.

It. Is. Mental.

And I'm doing it all over again.

What the...?
Well, yes there is only a 30-40% chance of it working each time and yes, (in our local authority at least) it does cost a flipping fortune after the first go but for a few fleeting moments you allow yourself to imagine just what it would all be like if it actually worked. And then you realise that all the medication, all the injections, all the undignified legs-in-stirrups-with-three-people-staring-up-there moments; all of that and more will be so worth it in the long run.

PS. I'd like to just say as well, a huge huge thank you to everyone who wished me and Andrew good luck and kind words, it really did (and still does) mean a lot to us. If I could give each one of you a hug, I would!
I hope you'll all join us along the way for another round of treatment; I will keep the amount of IVF chatter to a minimum on here but if you have any questions or want to know more, feel free to ask away.

PPS. I'm sure you all already know this, but I am in no way a medical professional. These are just my own thoughts and opinions relating to the treatment I received on my IVF journey.

Friday 28 March 2014

Another Bloggy Book Swap

A while ago I signed up to take part in The Emerald Dove's Blogger Book Swap. I took part in one last year organised by the lovely Rosie (from A Rosie Outlook) and it was great fun choosing what books to buy so I thought I'd give it a go again.
I was paired with Cat from Through A Cat's Eyes and managed to find a book I really enjoyed based on the life story of 70s child sensation, Lena Zavaroni from the Isle of Bute in Scotland. I remember learning all about her back when I studied A Level Psychology and when I worked in the local library I spotted Andrew O'Hagan's novel based on her life.
Anyway, I packaged the book up and sent it on it's merry way up north to Scotland along with some little chocolates to enjoy. Stupidly I forgot to take any pictures at all of the book I sent but pop over to Cat's blog to see what she received.
My package arrived earlier this week and Cat had chosen the perfect book for me - Dewey by Vicki Myron!

Dewey by Vicki Myron

It's all about a cat (called Dewey, fairly obviously) who lives in a small town library in America and gets into all sorts of trouble whilst winning the hearts of all the borrowers. She'd spotted that I used to work in the library and thought that would suit me, and she was right. Not only am I a fan of libraries themselves but I'm also a fan (albeit a very sad one) of the Dewey Decimal System. It's a brilliant way of classifying books!
Books Swaps are great fun - if you ever spot one running on someone's blog, they're well worth signing up for!

Thursday 27 March 2014

52 Lists - Your Spring To-Do List

This week's prompt is to list your spring to-do list...

52 Lists - My Spring To-Do List

I've gone with the idea of spring being March, April and May and seem to have ended up with a to-do list that looks a bit like my weekly lists!

Visit the West Somerset Railway's Spring Steam Gala
Weekend holiday booked in Blue Anchor at the end of the month
Remember Andrew's godson's 4th bithday at the end of the month

 Plant seed potatoes
Sort out flowerbeds and back garden
Sign up for April's #blogclub (12th April)
Tickets booked for Jon Richardson at Weston Super Mare Playhouse on 1st
Remember B's birthday on 9th
Check to see what tickets are on sale for Edinburgh Fringe on 10th
Carnival club meeting on 13th
Remember to send off Selwood Steam Rally entry form by 18th
Holiday in North Wales over Easter
7th Wedding Anniversary on 21st!
Carnival club quiz night on 25th

Sort out hanging baskets for back garden
Barbeque at some point if the weather is warm enough?
Wedding evening do to attend on 3rd
Visitign Carters Steam Fair at Pinkney's Green (near Maidenhead) on 10th
Carnival club meeting on 11th
Check to see what tickets are on sale for Edinburgh Fringe on 13th
Tickets booked for Rich Hall at the Tobacco Factory Bristol on 14th
Andrew's birthday on 19th
Tickets booked for National Theatre Live performance at Frome's Merlin Theatre on 22nd
Selwood Steam Rally on 24th, 25th and 26th

What have you got planned for spring?

This post is part of Ema's (Made in Hunters) 52 Lists Project
For a full list of all the other lovely bloggy people taking part, visit Scarlett's site (WorkRestPlayLove) for a nosy!

Wednesday 26 March 2014

The Midweek Hop - Time Goes By

Three music videos on a theme...
(inspired by Desmond Carrington's 'The Music Goes Round')

'Ami Continental 2' 1962 Jukebox
'Ami Continental 2' 1962 Jukebox
This weeks theme is...Time Goes By
Inspired by the clocks springing forward in the UK on Saturday into Sunday night. Don't forget everyone!

1. Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets

The classic 'clock and time' themed rock and roll song!
'Rock Around The Clock' first entered the chart on 17th January 1955 reaching Number 17 but later re-entered the chart on 14th October reaching Number 1.

2. Good Timin' by Jimmy Jones

Here's hoping you all don't forget to 'spring forward' and have good timing on Sunday :-)
'Good Timin'' entered the chart on 16th June 1960 reaching Number 1.

3. Turn! Turn! Turn! by The Byrds

Just remember, 'spring forward, fall back'...
'Turn! Turn! Turn!' entered the chart on 11th November 1965 reaching Number 26.
Happy listening!

Tuesday 25 March 2014

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 22nd March

The third photo an hour challenge of the year fell on Saturday 22nd March. The lovely Jane (from Is That You Darling) set the date and it's always great fun following everyone else on Instagram using the #photoanhour hashtag. If you haven't done one before, give it a go next month, it's great fun (even if you think your day's mundane) and on the day, it really is the more the merrier.
Saturday 22nd March wasn't quite as exciting as Saturday 22nd February - but we did manage to tick off rather a large amount of jobs in and around the house!

9am - A large amount of sunlight streaming through the windows, even though the forecast was to be rain!
 Sunlight and breakfast
10am - Bacon and onion sizzling away in the pan, ready for a Bacon and Eggs Kedgeree breakfast.

11am - Off down the local high street with a list of little jobs.
 Midsomer Norton High Street and Farringtons Farm Shop Cows
12pm - These cows were happily munching away over at Farringtons Farm Shop.

1pm - Farringtons Farm Shop also contains a little hair salon (Pigtails) so I popped in for a quick trim and tidy up.
New haircut and storage box clearout
2pm - Back home and carrying on with the last bit of kitchen cleaning - sorting out my mountain of storage boxes (and yep, those are all Chinese takeaway boxes...)

3pm - Andrew's out in the garden pruning an elder tree that's spent far too long growing in the wrong place.
 Elder tree pruning and cake baking
4pm - I baked a few fairy cakes for Andrew and his parents, who'd joined us to help with the tree-chopping.

5pm - This was my music of choice for tidying and sorting (Gwen Stefani, Muse and Glenn Miller). I'm not sure what someone would make of that mixture!
An interesting mix of CD music and fire in the chimenea
6pm - We chucked a load of bits of tree into the chimenea, it's one quick (and warm) way to get rid of it!

7pm - Back inside and finishing off the last bit of a blog post that should have been online about 3pm...
Blogging and TV programmes
8pm - Trying to choose what to watch first on our hard drive over dinner...

9pm - We went with the fantastically funny 'The Last Leg' (I think it's back on TV later in the year, yay!)
The Last Leg and cups of tea and horlicks
10pm - And it's beginning to get slightly worrying that every single month's Photo an Hour challenge ends with the same sort of picture (I'm only 31, not 61!) :-)

If you fancy giving it a go next month, hop on over to Jane's blog to see when the April's date will be. If you think you're likely to forget, let me know and I'll tweet you a reminder the day before!

Monday 24 March 2014

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Ticking - off lots of little jobs around the house and in town. Mundane things like picking up a present for Andrew's 4 year old godson, getting a new watch battery and filling in some entry forms for this summer's steam rally season.

Pruning - an elder tree that's growing too tall and in the wrong place in our back garden.

Elder tree pruning and burning in the chimenea

Ordering - some new bedroom furniture from Ikea. Our house has four bedrooms; the bedroom we use is slightly small but has built in wardrobes, the one we want to use is an en-suite but has absolutely no furniture so we designed our own layout and matched the stuff from Ikea to fit. This doesn't actually mean we'll be living in our lovely new bedroom anytime soon though - what's more likely to happen is that we'll have a pile of boxed-up flatpack furniture stacked up in the bedroom for about 9 months!

Getting - a long overdue haircut. It doesn't seem dramatically different to what I usually have (what can I say, I'm not that adventurous when it comes to hair) but it's certainly a lot tidier and doesn't look quite as much like I've been dragged through the proverbial bush backwards.

New haircut for duck

Participating - in the lovely Jane's (from Is That You Darling) March Photo an Hour challenge.
Full round up to follow tomorrow :-)

Baking - some chocolate chip cookies courtesy of the one of the lovely gifts I was sent as part of the Thrifty Gift Swap last Christmas. I thought it seemed rather appropriate to cook 'bloggy biscuits' to celebrate the blog's first birthday!

Chocolate chip cookies
What did you get up to at the weekend?

Sunday 23 March 2014

Why I'm A Bad Blogger

So...exactly one year ago tomorrow, I sat down with my laptop and tentatively took the first steps into the world of blogging.
I've loved writing, photographing, creating and publishing posts; when I started duck in a dress, I thought it would just be Andrew and my friend M who'd be reading - I never dreamed that so many other people would be interested in my life.
I've learnt a lot in the last year and met some fabulous other bloggers, but I'm also very aware that a lot of the things I do (or don't do) probably make me what would be known as "a bad blogger".

10 Reasons Why I'm A Bad Blogger - Half Eaten Food

This would include...

Munching on my food before photographing it (see above for a perfect example!)

Not tweeting enough

Commenting on other people's blogs about two weeks after everyone else

Scheduling and then rearranging blog posts beacuse I'm too lazy to actually write them

Continuing with a weekly feature which I know only a handful of people actually read

Letting public holidays, celebrations and national awareness weeks slip by without even mentioning them

Never managing to actually be free to take part in the #lbloggers chat on Sunday evenings
(although this week I stumbled on the fact that they have a Wednesday night session as well, yay!)

Not getting around to setting up a Facebook page for absolutely ages
(although as of last weekend that's done and ticked off now!)

Taking photos on my phone in artifical light

Blogging about topics that would probably be seen as quite niche (vintage lorries and IVF anyone?)

But in the year I've been sharing with you, one thing I've learnt is that I don't mind - I might well do all of these things and more, but for every blogger out there, your own blog is your own space to interpret and use however you like.
So what if you forget to photograph your food or to blog one night? As long as blogging in whatever way you like makes you happy, then that's absolutely fine.
And as duck in a dress grows another year older, if other lovely people decide to join me along the way, then that's just flipping grand.

Saturday 22 March 2014

52 Lists - Things Beside My Bed

This weeks theme is all about what's beside your bed.
In our bedroom my dressing table is next to my side of the bed so that area always seems like a right mess and probably not the sort of thing any decent blogger would photograph.

But the one thing that's always beside my bed is my library books 'to be read' pile....

52 Lists - Things Beside My Bed

You might have spotted in my 'A-Z of Books' post a while back, that my worst bookish habit is taking out my quota of library books and then just never getting round to actually reading them for months on end.

To Be Read Pile

So this is what my TBR pile looks like at the moment (complete with when I first took them out from the library)...


The History Room by Eliza Graham
(first borrowed on 16th November 2013 from Street Library)
The blurb on the back says this book is a "gripping mystery" and it involves private schools, war and a girl "determined to discover the culprit".  I think I chose it beacuse I thought it would be a bit like Kate Morton or Diane Setterfield, both authors I quite like.

I Can Make You Hate by Charlie Brooker
(first borrowed on 15th February 2014 from Street Library)
I like Charlie Brooker on TV (my first ever tweet was actually a retweet of his) and a whole book of him ranting seemed like a good idea. Andrew wants to read this one after me as well.

A Year of Doing Good by Judith O'Reilly
(first borrowed on 15th February 2014 from Street Library)
This looked interesting just from the front cover (tea and flowers) and the premise doing one good deed each day for a year sounded like fun, although the back cover does warn that she runs into lots of problems being good!

Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith
(first borrowed on 8th March 2014 from Clevedon Library)
I've read quite a lot of Alexander McCall Smith's stuff (I love his Isabel Dalhousie series) and this is a fairly short story about four strangers meeting on a train from London to Edinburgh, all with their own stories and experiences. The cover looks like the book could be entertaining, although it probably should be on some kind of Valentine's Day themed display.


Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
(first borrowed on 23rd November 2013 from Midsomer Norton Library)
I took this out back in November thinking "ooh that'd be good book to read over the Christmas holiday" - it's still in my TBR pile.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
(first borrowed on 23rd November 2013 from Midsomer Norton Library)
I'd seen this recommended in a few places; the book's written from the point of view of the family's dog, Enzo looking back at his life story. It sounds like such a lovely idea, moving and uplifting all in one.

The Knot by Mark Watson
(first borrowed on 20th October 2012 from Taunton Library)
 I like Mark Watson as a comedian so I thought I'd give one of his books a go, all about a wedding photographer who searching for his own happy ever after.


The Shadow Wife by Diane Chamberlain
(first borrowed on 20th July 2013 from Junction 3 Library, Bristol)
I've read several of Diane Chamberlain's novels, they usually follow some
 kind of moral dilemma and the families involved - this one is all about illicit romances, unborn babies and brain injuries.

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
(first borrowed on 20th July 2013 from Junction 3 Library, Bristol)
Again, another author I've read several books from and enjoyed. The blurb on the back describes a journalist who's lost her way then discovers a list of one hundred stranger's names and sets out to trace all their stories.

Move Along, Please by Mark Mason
(first borrowed on 15th February 2014 from Street Library)
I'm quite a fan of travel books, especially ones around Britain and this one is all about Mark Mason's journey across the nation using local bus services. I like travelling by bus myself (there's nothing better than a long journey where you can stare out of the window) so I thought this book would be really interesting. The author's route also takes him through a few local towns and places I've visited so I'm quite intrigued to see how he gets on!

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
(first borrowed on 23rd November 2013 from Midsomer Norton Library)
I really liked Meg Rosoff's books, 'How I Live Now', 'Just In Case' and 'What I Was' and I've heard lots of good things about this one. It tells the tale of the seven days of creation from the point of view of a hormonal teenage boy just on the brink of falling in love - certainly an interesting idea!

Have you read any of them? Which one should I start with?

This post is part of Ema's (Made in Hunters) 52 Lists Project
For a full list of all the other lovely bloggy people taking part, visit Scarlett's site (WorkRestPlayLove) for a nosy!
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