Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Oxburgh House

A couple of months ago now, Him Indoors and I went to Oxborough in Norfolk to visit Oxburgh House, which is the last remaining 15th Century home on a moat!

It's very pretty. Here are some photos from outside.

Oxborough Church - the roof and steeple fell in after the war!
They couldn't fix it and so it serves as a smaller chapel for baptisms and small sermons.

This poor over-wintered peacock butterfly couldn't get out.
Unfortunately it was too high for us to reach it :(

Approaching the house

As gaudy as it is with good lighting, I kinda loved this wallpaper.
Very textured!

Queen Mary of Scots's sewing stuff!

This used to be a toilet but after the ban on Catholicism under Elizabeth, 
it was reinvented as a Priest's Bolt Hole. When Elizabeth and her men 
came to stay or inspect, the priest would hide down there. 
There is room to stand in the tunnel, just. 

For some reason they made this tower's ceilings like this.
Not hollow fan-work, as in Ely Cathedral, but solid brick work. 

One of the towers from the roof.

The house on its moat from the back.

From the side.

From the woodland trail.

My West End Weekend

For my 26th, Him Indoors bought me tickets to see The Lion King at the Lyceum. Massively pleased! :)

We went to see it this weekend and had a fantastic time. He managed to get us seats in the third row, though quite far over to the right. I could see pretty much everything, though he missed one or two parts of scenes when the acting was being done on the right side of the stage. Still, I loved it.

I pretty much blubbed from the first note - I can't help it, I get like that when I am really happy or emotional or whatever and that music drags it out of me!

I managed to get us a good hotel using the Secret Hotel deal thing (worth it!) - right by the Tower of London so we just hopped on and off the tube within zone one for two days. Really great fun.

That evening, after dropping into Forbidden Planet (where I bought another book that qualifies for my reading challenge; Uprooted by Naomi Novik, expect a review later) and wandering about a bit, we went back to the hotel and changed into fancy-pants clothing.

We heard about a roof-top bar via a Facebook friend who had checked in earlier in the evening and it was literally around the corner so we went.

This was our view after dark. I did take other pictures during the day but I thought my phone and my drunkeness coped well with the dark and the window.

It was £12-15 a cocktail but we thought "TO HELL WITH IT" and drank and enjoyed ourselves. I didn't have all three cocktails I was going to, because I didn't want to trigger any Meniere's attacks but it felt good to get drunk and have no responsibilities for once. Really refreshing.


  View of the outdoor bar with sunset backdrop.            Totally drunk by this point.

We then went for our post-Midnight chips-craving walk to the nearest McD's and then walked all the way back to the hotel where we slept on a rock hard bed. (5* hotels should have medium mattresses imo)

                                   The view of the Tower and Shard from hotel door

The next day, we went for breakfast at The Breakfast Club near Liverpool St (5* breakfasts are stupid expensive) and then spent the day wandering around. We walked to the Gherkin cause it was there then to St Paul's and then to The Globe (cause it was across the bridge) and then took the tube to Notting Hill because I'd never been (clearly hadn't missed much) and then we decided we'd worn ourselves out and went home.

It was a great weekend and something we shall begin to do more often - though perhaps on a smaller budget! I'm thinking "Matilda" next!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Urban Decay goes Through the Looking Glass!

As soon as I heard about this, I ordered it. Compulsive? Yes.  Indulgent? Yes.  Do I care? Not this time!  If I don't spend money on myself, what is the point in earning it?

I have so far played around with three looks but I am excited to do more. I had thought I was just getting this for cosplay type things for Book Week or parties or whatever but actually, I am using quite a few of these colours for every day.

So vertically, you have character sets.  From left to right they are: Alice, Mad Hatter, White Queen, Red Queen and Time (new film).  

Of course each individual shade is named after another character or sentiment. 

I LOVE the Red Queen colours. I had great fun playing with that and came up with a style I'll definitely be using on weekends and nights out.

Red Queen set:

Browline - Royal Flush
Outer Corner and lid crease: Bandersnatch
Middle and lower lash line: Heads Will Roll
Inner corner: Salazan Grum

Mascara: Younique    Eyeliner: Barry M 6 Kohl (light blue)

I then added some lippy to the look just to see - it works with and without it, frankly. If I wanted a more glam effect, I'd include the lippy. (From Younique Moodstruck collection)

[Excuse the hoody thing going on here, I appreciate it is not in keeping with the rest of the make up. I was coming down with a horrendous cold (it turns out) and I was rather cold when I was doing the make up and photos]

A more every day sort of look I tried out at work (and got compliments for) was using the Alice Set:

"Eyeliner": I used a hard slanted edged brush, dampened, and pressed Metamorphosis on to mimic the look of eyeliner. It meant I could have a more accurate (first ever) slight cat eye flick thing going on - though this didn't show as well in the photo I took. It's hard to do selfies of eyes.

Brow line and inner corner: Looking Glass

Middle of my lid: Reflection

Outer corner and crease: Dormouse

An aside on durability: It lasts really well! I had first played around with the Red Queen set before I went to Zumba and then liked it so much I didn't take it off, thus becoming one of those girls vilified at the gym for wearing make up.  Now, Zumba, when done whole-heartedly, is a sweat fest! I sweated a LOT. It was like going clubbing. The colours lasted fairly well and I didn't smudge it.

What I do think though is that the colours come out best when they have been applied with a dampened brush - it helps stop the colour dusting off as you apply. So that is what I shall continue to do, particularly when I want the colours to stand out as well as they do in the photos for Red Queen set. (Only photoshopping I did was increase the exposure and contrasting a bit, to mimic what my eye could see.)

I really love this set - I was going to buy some of their lipsticks but I held back because I don't actually need them, even for cosplaying purposes (also the Hatter lipstick was sold out instantly, so why bother?). They do look gorgeous though.

Was this set worth my compulsive money? Yes.

Life Changes 2

I've been on the Betahistines for just over a month now. And I can say they're working. I have had the tinnitus and full ear symptoms a lot but I've not succumbed to vertigo since that Thursday I wrote about last.

So that's good.

The DVLA got back to me though - I've lost my licence for at least 3 months. Which is utterly rubbish. It felt like a monstrous kick in the gut.

I love driving. I love being able to just sit in my car and go. I can go anywhere I want to!  Him Indoors and I have taken quite a few spontaneous trips places. It means I can go and see my grandparents (and Kevin!) after work and be back home at a reasonable time. It means I can be self-reliant. Now I am not even allowed to keep my licence card as ID. So that's a real bummer too. 

I am suddenly an adult relegated back to teenage-hood. I am reliant on the crap and hugely expensive bus services. I have to plan my routes more carefully, with ridiculous allowances for time constraint. I have to plan things more in advance! I shall be less spontaneous now! 

It is also a source of anxiety now, despite my head remaining fairly level and telling that voice "actually, I am sure that you can strike a deal with Panther taxis" - see at the moment, it is not a huge problem. I am literally 15 minutes or less by bicycle away from my current school.  But from September I am a 15 - 20 minute DRIVE away from the school I'll be working at. And there are no buses. It would take me 30 minutes to cycle to the station and then from the end station to the school. I would have to take weather into greater consideration. I would have to get fit! (ok, not a bad thing, but nobody likes being forced into things!)

I've had to cancel my newly taken out car insurance policy because a) not needed for 3 months and b) it would have been null and void because the DVLA had taken away my licence for medical reasons. 

I now have to register my car as SORN because it's not insured and I can't find my registration number thing and I'm having to fill in two forms and send £25 to pay for a replacement of the latter. 

On the plus side, I don't need to worry about getting MOT'd before I go to Japan. So that's cool. 

There are plenty of pros to not being allowed to drive. There are. It's just that there are so many inconveniences too and it does somewhat "clip my wings", to be poetic. 

I have joined a forum devoted to MD which has been a bit of a relief - I shared my diagnosis experience so far and was told that that was pretty much the way it was for other sufferers. I was also informed that I'm covered under the Disabilities Act and that my new place of work would be required to make reasonable adjustments to my work place if necessary. That's what the occupational health advisor woman must want to see me about. 

I have noticed that during stressful times at work I have found it harder to hear my children and the tinnitus has increased a lot. It's just unfortunate that our SEN child is always to my left, which is my good side. I've had to tell the other children to really speak up because otherwise all I can hear is lego being played with!

On the plus side with this whole biking everywhere: I shall be forced to leave work at school, so I guess that means making more time for myself at home. Maybe I could even start doing Body Balance at the gym again! 

Here is a snail I photographed with my phone the other week. 
I like snails. Not in my garden though.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Life Changes

I'm going through quite a few changes at the moment. I'm changing jobs in September - for various reasons I'm now finding myself moving schools at the end of this year, a bitter-sweet experience - and after 8 months of recurring symptoms, I finally got an appointment with an ENT specialist. Can't say I'm thrilled with the diagnosis.

At the moment, it looks as though I either have Meniere's Disease or Meniere's Syndrome. There is one very subtle difference between the two but neither are particularly pleasant.

The difference between it being the Meniere's Disease and Meniere's Syndrome?  The former has an unknown cause and the latter is caused by something else which could in some ways be more serious than having the unknown cause!

Ménière disease is idiopathic by definition, whereas Ménière syndrome can occur secondary to various processes interfering with normal production or resorption of endolymph (eg, endocrine abnormalities, trauma, electrolyte imbalance, autoimmune dysfunction, medications, parasitic infections, hyperlipidemia).

So the doctor has prescribed me some pills to take 3 times a day in an attempt to alleviate symptoms (I thought, sure, easy. 3 times a day, with food. Turns out I'm incredibly forgetful at work (schools are distracting places) and often only take them twice a day.).  So if the symptoms get alleviated, it's probably the disease. If they don't, then it's something more serious than a debilitating disease that results in uni or bi-lateral deafness.

Typically, at the time of seeing the doctor, my symptoms weren't very textbook, in that I only noted one or two symptoms at a time (such as last night where I was SURE I'd have another vertigo attack but it never came, it may have been a migraine instead). Or rather, I wasn't paying full attention to the signs and perhaps didn't describe them well enough.  Now that I'm more informed, I do feel like I've been having definite Meniere's-y attacks.

Since seeing the doctor I've had a pretty bad attack at work. It was the quickest but strongest one I'd had.  See, in June last year, I had to go home early because I couldn't stand properly and the room was spinning. I had had symptoms similar to labrynthitis in the run up, so doctors assumed it was caused by a viral infection.  I have had 5 or more (I think more, but as I didn't see a doctor each time, I can't be sure) cases where I've either experienced vertigo or "tunnel ear" as I like to call it or really loud bursts of tinnitus.

Because they were spaced out roughly once a month (averages) and I didn't always have all three symptoms together, the doctor couldn't say outright that it was Meniere's. I have had an increase in bad headaches and I had my first migraine aura in the last 4 months, which indicates a vestibular problem.

Well, last Sunday I went out with a friend. I had two mildly alcoholic daiquiris (they were worth it!)  which did no more than make me feel a weee bit giddy and was easily walked off and then I had a small but stronger-than-usual Mocha at Cafe Nero.

On Tuesday morning at 4am, I was awoken by deafeningly loud tinnitus. Really horrible. But as I'd had it before and at that time, loudness and pitch, I wasn't too worried. Just unsure of whether to get up and stay awake watching something quietly to distract myself or to try counting myself to sleep.  I went with the latter. I was very tired in the morning, but it was a school trip so I didn't have to be cognitively brilliant - just alert enough to monitor the comings and goings of the children.

Then I had another tinnitus attack at 3am on Wednesday morning. Of course by the staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon, I was proper tired.

I slept through the night on Wednesday night into Thursday. As a result I felt great. I went to work, I was pretty chipper.

I was setting up my laptop in the classroom then got up to collect the children from the playground when, oh-oh, my troublesome ear felt "full".  Sign number one.

I felt light headed. Sign number 2.

I made my way carefully down the corridor, saw that other teachers weren't outside yet and had a sit down. Giddiness only got worse. Sign number 3.

I managed to make myself walk in a straight line, collect my (fortunately) waiting and ready children, smile at them and make eye contact with parents. I took them in and then stood, holding onto the wall a bit, counting down the girls so that they were all in class quickly. (Every second counts!)

I sat down to do the register. I told the children that I had a sort of illness that comes and goes and at the moment I couldn't hear properly out of my right ear - could they all speak up nice and clearly today?
As I got further down the list, I was less and less able to move my head. I could see that one of the girls had noticed I wasn't really moving.  I managed to get the register done. I had a quick word with my TA, telling her she would have to take the children to assembly.  I asked one of my more together children to get the head (I'd seen her walking past) and tell her I had vertigo. By the time the head came, I was unable to move at all and it felt as though my eyeballs were rotating in separate directions, rather like a confused cartoon character.

The whole room was moving, kinda. The tables were warping as well. It was absolutely horrible. The head asked whether I needed to go home, but at that point I couldn't say - I just told her that it could last anywhere between 20 minutes and a few hours. She remained optimistic and said that the assembly was 25 minutes so to stay put. I knew that my TA could cover my class at least for the first hour, so I was willing to move to the table in the corner of the room, to help keep an eye but my ex-nurse colleague decided it would be much better to move me to the staff room and helped me walk there. So embarrassing, since some children and other adults saw me being half carried up the corridor. There may have been crying once I was in the privacy of the staff room.

Anyway, I sat in the staff room, the part where my head joins my neck feeling heavier and heavier and unable to move for about an hour. After 40 minutes of vertigo, I was persuaded to go home. I called my grandparents who collected me and looked after me for the day. By 12pm I was no longer nauseous or dizzy.  And then I slept for two hours after lunch because that attack really took it out of me!

I'm fairly sure it was the caffeine that did it - though the alcohol didn't particularly help. Reading up on it, caffeine is what caused the tinnitus attacks, bare minimum. I'm not massively convinced about alcohol being a trigger as I've had more occasions where I've drunk something alcoholic and been fine than I can think of where I've drunk something and then had an attack.

I'm going to start a food diary today (1st of the month and all that) so that I can try to spot patterns. The problem is, it would seem that everybody with Meniere's has different triggers! The general advice is "low-salt diets, cut out caffeine, cut out alcohol, cut out sugar, avoid chocolate because it's an anti-oxidant!" whilst others say "actually, drink in moderation, you'll be fine" and "I can actually eat peanut butter and go without attacks so don't panic yet".

So I'll just have to monitor what I eat myself.  I already had a fairly low-salt diet, I think. I mean, ok, lately I've had a lot of ready meals or eaten out (which is really hard to monitor, salt-wise) but I dislike buying food that has anything over 23% of the RDA of salt in, because it's just too salty for me. I hate being thirsty all the time and I hate salty foods.  I do love cheese though. So if it turns out that I can't have lots of cheese, I might actually cry. Particularly since my gran's making Cheese Fondue for my birthday!

I do think my last vertigo attack was largely down to the tinnitus and the extreme tiredness. That's something everyone can agree on: tiredness and stress will increase attack frequency.

So yeah. I'm going to have to start making more of an effort with my cooking. Fortunately the winter (temperatures don't match but whatever) is over and there's a lot more daylight, which helps me last longer energy-wise, so I'll try to prepare more lunches for the day before and cook actual bread and whatnot.  It is also salad season, so that cuts out loads of salt and things.

I just worry about going to Japan now. Apparently flying will be pleasant - the pressure goes and I may have 28 hours tinnitus free! So perhaps climbing Fuji won't be too bad.

Japanese food can be rather salty - specially when they soak everything in soy. I love soy sauce but my god, everything in moderation! I guess I'll live on steamed rice for a month!

So my to do list this week is:

  • Make another doctor's appointment to get a referral for a CT scan (I'd rather rule all that out)
  • Get a repeat prescription of prochlorperizine and double check dosage for acute vertigo attacks
  • Start a food and symptom diary (symptoms have been logged on phone calendar) which involves buying new stationary - any excuse, amirite?
  • Make lunch for the week - grated carrot, grated apple and lemon juice salad with a carefully measured amount of mayonnaise for extra flavour
  • Ensure I drink a lot throughout the day - green tea, flavoured water from home, etc.
  • Plan evening meals with partner to ensure I eat properly
  • Ensure I continue to work from 8 - 6pm every day (professional hours), thus keeping on top of marking and stuff that needs doing and allowing me to eat healthily, sleep well and participate in Body Balance classes at least once a week (I'd like to go back to twice a week)
  • Ensure I have ear plugs (for noise-sensitive days. Omg so useful in the cinema this week) at all times

As it's the bank holiday weekend, I think I'll start easy by browsing stationary online and making some bread.