31 January 2012

My Weekend & Post Of The Month Club

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Hello, my chickadees!
{Chickadees are called 'tits' here,
but 'Hello, my tits!' just doesn't have the same ring :) }

How are you?

Our weekend was filled with my daughter's birthday celebration
and participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch

Robin in our garden during Big Garden Birdwatch

I grabbed a cup of tea and we played Yahtzee 
but not for long
as we broke into 'Ooh! Did you see that one?! Look!'
and busily made checkmarks on our RSPB birding sheet

Robins, carrion crows, feral pigeons, jackdaw, nuthatch, wren, and ring-necked parakeets
were our counted feathered friends for the day

I was glad we were to count for only an hour, for we could have watched all day!
It really was exciting :)

- plus a nice distraction from my daughter beating the pants off me in Yahtzee -

Photo from recent weekend walk

Although we are in the middle of winter,
it has been mild so far with just a few days of frost

The grass is green, and the daffodils are already coming up!

{ Shhh, don't tell anyone the winters are really mild here
or everyone will move here :) }

Life for me is busy at the moment with school commitments and moving locally in a month(!)

So it is nice to take a little time and journal part of my day here


Okay, now for Post Of The Month Club
Every blogger is welcome to join :)

Jump in with your favorite post from January
and link it in below

If you have a chance, stop by a few others to say 'hello'
Such an excellent opportunity to meet other friendly folks in the blogsphere,
don't you think?


I'll be reading every single one :)

- all photos by me -

27 January 2012

A Woman's Right To Choose

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Birth Announcements by Scriptiva Paper Studio

In October last year, 
it was announced that in the UK 
women will be able to choose whether to deliver their baby
vaginally or by Cesarean section

Through my American eyes, I just could not wrap my head around this one

Generally speaking,
American women would not opt for this surgical procedure unless recommended by an OBGYN -
with its longer recovery and inherent risks as with any surgery

In the US
it would seem irresponsible to completely leave it up to the woman to choose
to have an elective cesarean if it was not medically indicated
(excluding subsequent births after a C-section)

But talking to English women, 
100% of them in my little poll are supportive of the availability of this choice
But why?
I have been chewing on this one for a while...
Having not delivered a baby in the UK, I am no expert on the NHS system. But it appears the only 'known' on your birth plan is your hospital (which may be assigned, but at least known ahead of time). You are unlikely to have met your midwife previously. And naturally the looming unknown of each childbirth can create a fair amount of fear. So I can see having a planned C-Section could bring some comfort and would help organize your life around the birth. I get that.

...a mantra becoming popular among the affluent

A quarter of births here are delivered via Cesarean section (I'm not sure how many of those are elective), so now they are officially creating an option for what doctors have been quietly persuaded to do by patients anyway.

Is it any different from other elective surgery, including a knee replacement or cosmetic surgery? It is the woman's body after all, and she should ultimately make the decision once she knows the facts and risks.

Most births are delivered by midwives. Some mums feel the natural and holistic methods of midwives are forced upon them. (i.e. might not induce until 42 weeks)

Retro Luggage available via This Vintage Girl

As an aside, items listed below always are provided for labor and delivery patients in US hospitals. UK patients are advised to pack the following for their stay in the NHS hospital:

- 2-3 gowns/clothes to wear during labor/delivery
- towels and soap
- 24 super absorbent sanitary napkins
- 5 or 6 pairs of underwear/'pants'
- diapers/nappies
- baby blanket and hat

It is also worth noting that toilets and bathrooms are often down the hall to be shared with other patients. And don't be surprised when your recovery is in a postnatal ward room shared with 5 other moms with newborns.

Another interesting difference is if you have a doctor, he is likely to be referred to as a 'Mister [Last Name]', not 'Doctor'. 'Mr.' is used for highly specialized doctors, so it is a good sign if that is his title. If he is a 'Dr.', he is not as highly trained. Women specialists are referred to as 'Miss [Maiden Name]' even if they are married.

And lastly, the hospital can provide a gas mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide (Entonox) through a mask or nose piece to laboring patients to make pain more bearable. This would have been a great option for me (and for my husband!) during my labor. I think this is similar to 'laughing gas' in the US. Reportedly there are no side effects to the baby, while the mother may feel lightheaded, nauseous, and/or a loss of concentration (in which case discontinue use). Anyone else vote for this during labor in US hospitals? 

I'm curious as to your thoughts on this topic :)
I find it fascinating

Post Script:

- Thank you Meg, for adding husbands can't stay overnight in the hospital with postpartum wives in the UK

- Unlike the US, babies are not granted UK citizenship just for being born in England. A baby will be given American citizenship, not UK citizenship, if born to American parents in the UK.

More medical posts:
The Dentist
More On The NHS

Sources: NHS, The Telegraph 

22 January 2012

Botanics In The Churchyard

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

 'I Spy' in a village churchyard:
A valuable ecosystem

It is common to find old yew trees in old churchyards
in central and southeast England, the Lake District, and Wales
due to well-draining chalk and limestone soils

Slow growing and long lived,
yews have been found to be older than the churches they protect
possibly because they were planted on old religious sites where churches were erected later

The majority of the world's ancient yews is found in Britain,
some still growing after 1000 years

These evergreens were
sacred to the Druids and Celtics,
a common source of myths and legends,
used for making longbows during the Middle Ages,
and always a good food source for birds

One of the curious things about yews is they have an unusually small cone
surrounded by what looks like a red berry (an 'aril' to be exact)
which is the only part of the tree that is not poisonous

Another 'I Spy' is lichens on gravestones

Lichens take water and nourishment not from soil, but from air

As many gravestones are made of limestone,
they create an ideal habitat for these little cutie-pie plants 
as limestone neutralizes acidic pollution

Because headstones are rarely cleaned and graves are rarely disturbed, 
churchyards inadvertently protect some endangered lichens

 So much life in a village churchyard :)

- all photos by me -

Sources: AncientYew.orgWikipedia, Country Living Magazine Dec 2011, The Country Life Book of the Natural History of the British Isles pub 1980


It's Back!
January 31st


Hope to see you there :)

18 January 2012

Big Garden Birdwatch

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Mini Binder for sale by Journal Junky

I'm so excited
I just registered to participate in the next RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
over the weekend of January 28 and 29

I feel just one dot more English :)

I'm instructed to grab a pen, download the bird ID sheet, 
and spend an hour watching the birds in my backyard

And get this - 
They invite me to grab a cup of tea, a favorite biscuit {cookie}, and put my feet up (!)
as I note how many bird species are seen in my garden {not flying over} within an hour

The kids are enthusiastic, getting our bird feeder stocked and ready

With the results, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds {RSPB}
gets a snapshot of bird numbers in each region

Last year over 600,000 people took part in Big Garden Birdwatch in 2011
counting over 10 million birds

Bird Counting Sheet (partial)

House sparrows have been the most counted bird for the last eight years, 
with an average of four seen per garden

In 2011, starlings were number two, and blackbirds took third place in participating gardens

Want to join me? 
Get more information on the RSPB website

Fancy butterflies? 
The public will participate again in the biggest butterfly count in the world this summer
See details of the Big Butterfly Count here

{ tweet, tweet my birdies! }

14 January 2012

BBC Tour

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Sorry to have been away so long, my chickadees ;)

I skipped into London to have coffee with Robynne of Robynne's Nest
We have a lot in common, for she is an Australian expat here,
and she is an absolute delight :)

The following day I went back into London to tour the BBC Television Centre
And let me just say, BBC and Big Ben have been my two favorite tours since living here

I love my BBC media access tag {to keep!}
I wonder if it would work as a backstage pass at a concert?

I didn't expect to enjoy the BBC as much as I did because we hardly watch television,
so I am unfamiliar with their programs
{ I can't figure out how to get my Sky Box to record }

But I admit I was dazzled by the studios and news desk
and our guides were very entertaining

They told us if we saw someone famous we shouldn't take photos or ask for autographs
And I followed that up with a request to tell us when we do see someone famous!

Anyhoo, in Britain, anyone who owns a television is required annually
to buy a TV License for £145.50 / $220 - Ouch!
All that money goes directly to the BBC to provide commercial-free programming

BBC is the largest broadcaster in the world and
our guide estimated BBC World is in 190 countries { not funded by the TV License }

BBC also publishes books and magazines { Homes And Antiques, a fav }
and recently purchased Lonely Planet Travel Guides

This media empire is moving 50% of their programming up north to Salford, near Manchester

Why? Our guide said the short answer is subscribers complained
it was not fair to pay the licensing fee and have all the programming concentrated in London

Before WWII, the BBC was mostly broadcasting on radio

Only the wealthy could afford televisions
and most TV programming was just a few hours each day of
someone reading a poem or playing the violin
{ my, how programming has changed }

A black-and-white Mickey Mouse film was showing the moment WWII started,
and BBC Television immediately went off air

When it aired again 5 years later, a woman gave her deepest apologies for going off air
and then they continued that Mickey Mouse film right where it left off 5 years before the war

It gives me goosebumps to think how many lives changed
between the two frames of the Mickey Mouse cartoon

The guide speculated the BBC went off air because many of the staff were needed for the war efforts,
however, BBC Radio did broadcast during the war

Furthermore, few owned televisions, so it may have seemed frivolous to have stayed on air

After the war, the children's show Blue Peter was created, catering to 5 to 8 year olds
With London under rubble, it was a breath of fresh air featuring a garden and adventures
It is still the longest running children's program in the world and still airs

The Americans in our group wanted to know
if BBC studio audiences have signs instructing them to 'Laugh' or 'Applause' as in the US

Our guide chuckled and said if you told an English audience when to laugh,
they would stand up and walk right out the door!

- all photos by me -

BBC Tour Information here

08 January 2012

A Few Funnies

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

To kick off the new week
I want to share with you two photos from last month :)

Stickers added to a 'No Entry' sign in Rome

England is really big into recycling, but I mean really...
Have you seen THIS before?!

Have a fantastic week!

- photos by me -

04 January 2012

The Dentist

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

The English have a reputation for having bad teeth, so you can imagine my concern for visiting an English dentist. So let's explore that...

  • First of all, one of the reasons they may not have good teeth is because dentistry (except emergency care) is not covered by the NHS. And a private dental cleaning costs £110 (approx $170) a pop, so with a family of 4 paying out of pocket, preventative cleanings don't happen twice a year for most people. If at all.
  • Fluoride is not in the water.
  • Without hard numbers, I am guessing smoking is more prevalent here than in the US. Also not good for the pearly whites.
  • Although there are orthodontists, I don't see many teenagers wearing braces (another big out of pocket expense).
  • I've never seen a dental practice cater to children only. And *gasp*, there is no toy box with goodies to lure kids in (unheard of in the US). My guess is children don't form early habits of regular check ups that would continue into adulthood.

You can imagine my husband's quizzical look when he heard 'Good Luck!' several times by co-workers as he mentioned he'd be late to work due to a dental visit. 

Then imagine my surprise when the dentist gushed on and on about my teeth - like I was a rock star! He loves American dentistry, he tells me. Let me say, my teeth are super-duper average.

My cleaning was VERY gentle - I think this is because most patients visit only in emergencies with pain. The dental hygienist didn't use the sucky-hose when she cleaned my teeth. Instead, I was told to 'swish' and spit into the basin. She did floss and use 'the pokey thing' I was accustomed to in the US. And when it was time to polish, she gently placed safety glasses over my eyes (the English are very safety conscious, you know). I walked away empty handed - no goody bag with floss or toothbrush. But at least my gums were in tact - not swollen and bleeding like in the US where they scour my teeth and gums.

In a recent magazine, American teeth were described as too perfect, 'like white piano keys'. Supposedly the rich and famous British will have their smiles enhanced in Paris with teeth adjusted but not perfectly straightened or overly-bleached. They go for a more 'natural' look. Interestingly, the level of bleach used in the US for professional teeth whitening is illegal here. 

In case you are wondering, I continue to visit my American dentist for a real bruising and deep clean. Then 6 months later I visit the UK dentist to hear how fabulous I am my teeth are ;) Complementary yin and yang, my friends

(Postscript: Thank you to my wonderful commenters, who steered me when I went astray. The NHS does provide dental care at a fee but known for inconsistent quality of care.)

More medical posts:
Giving Birth in the UK
More on the NHS