Days Out: Brighton Toy and Model Museum

Last week, T and I were treated to an outing to the Brighton Toy and Model Museum under Brighton Station. Our friend had won tickets and apparently didn’t take long to think of someone  to invite who would also go banzai for model trains.

I haven’t been to the museum in YEARS and it was a first for T, so we were genuinely very excited to visit. I’ve always had a fascination in vintage toys, and as we know, T loves model steam trains. So this was the perfect outing for us and will no doubt be a repeat visit for when Sharon’s dad comes to visit.

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My Mental Health and Me

I’ve written before, albeit very briefly, about my mental health, but looking back I feel ashamed that I haven’t expanded on it further since or gone into greater detail. Especially as it’s such a huge part of my life. In fact, I’ve contemplated deleting all previous posts and starting again – but no matter how poor my previous posts are, they’re still a piece of my puzzle.

My biggest regret is not talking so openly about it with friends and family. I think not talking about Mental Health has a detrimental effect mentally and physically, and this needs to change. Not just for me, but within society.

Last week, my friend Natasha invited me to take park in her ‘Mental Mutha Meets…’ series and it gave me the kick up the backside that I’ve needed for so long. I need to, no, should talk about this: My Mental Health.

So let’s get started.

I have OCD

When I say OCD, it’s not the type of OCD that mean’s you’re especially clean or tidy, or simply like things in certain places (although I really do). It’s the OCD that means I can sometimes wash my hands raw because I don’t think they’re clean enough. It’s worse in the winter as the cold has already dried my hands out so that they’re already cracked and painful. When T is really sick (think D&V) my personal cleaning regime can sometimes double in time and effort. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to pass it on to others. I feel dirty.

I have the kind of OCD where I can spend a good 20 minutes of the morning, before leaving for nursery drop off, checking that all the plugs and oven knobs are switched off. If I’m already stressed about something, or particularly tired or hormonal, my OCD can worsen to a degree that I’ve driven back whilst on the way to work some days just to triple check everything is locked or turned off – even though I would have checked it several times before allowing myself to leave the house!

If I don’t do all these checks, I worry something bad will happen.

Knowing I do this means that when someone says “they’re a little bit OCD” I can’t help but scream and shout “you’re really not”. I would kill to not feel like this every day or not do these things. I feel like a freak.

On top of this, I also suffer from anxiety.

For me, the two go hand in hand, but if one kicks off first, the next is sure to follow. If you have anxiety, you don’t always have OCD, but I don’t know anyone who has OCD that doesn’t have anxiety as well. The two kinda work together to create this cocktail of hell.

I don’t really know what hurts the most. The anxiety or the OCD? I think the anxiety. As much as OCD exhausts me, my anxiety hits me in places and causes issues that I never knew existed. It causes self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and low energy. It’s caused headaches, eye twitching, and nausea on the worst days.

Of course, you can have all these things without suffering from anxiety, and a high majority of people already suffer from a form of anxiety, but there’s a difference between the anxiety that makes you worry or puts you in a fight of flight situation, and the anxiety that makes you pick at your own skin.

You heard me. I pick my own skin when I get overly anxious. I can show you the scars. It started when I was in my early twenties – maybe even earlier – and at first I would think it was a form of self harm, but when I read into it more and spoke to people about it I understood it was something else. It was a separate thing entirely. I didn’t want to cause harm, hurt, or punish myself, but the instant relief I would get from removing a blemish would sometimes be euphoric.

Ironically, I picked less, if at all, when I was pregnant, but since becoming a parent I’ve started doing it every now and again when I’m overly tired and/or stressed – although oddly, not as much as I used to. But on the bad days. Oh the bad days. It can be a struggle not to disappear by myself and have a little pick.

As I write this, I feel sick. I worry how people will react to me now that they know my secrets.

But then I realise I need to talk about this. That this isn’t my problem, it’s society’s. Why is there this stigma against mental health? Why are we not talking about it?

In a world where we can talk about sex and toilet humour so freely, why can we not still talk about our mental health?

With this in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to write more about this topic every now and again. I need to. I want to be open about Mental Health. My Mental Health.

I want people to know that they’re not alone. That it comes in waves and that you can still be happy whilst maintaining crippling mental health. I want people to know that my smiles are always genuine in photos so that when I’m not smiling in some, people are invited to open that door of conversation.

Hopster: What We’ve Been Viewing and Why You Should Get It!

It’s been quite a few months since we first started using Hopster and I’m pleased to say that I’ve totally embraced the use of apps, although still in moderation. If you had asked me pre-toddler I would have said no way – but with apps becoming more and more educational, it’s easy to see their charm – especially if they allow you a shower and a toilet break.

T now knows how to get around the app confidently – without needing us to get him back to the show he was watching – although it didn’t take long as it’s super easy to use! He happily explores the app and loves coming across new games or TV shows.

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Days Out: Boxhill, Surrey (National Trust)

Last weekend, we took ourselves further a field, leaving Sussex completely, to explore Boxhill in Surrey. For Sharon, this is familiar ground as she grew up in Redhill, and went to school down the road in Dorking, but for me and T it was brand new. For most, Boxhill is another National Trust location, but for others they know it as the location for the cycling events during the 2012 Olympics – which explains the masses of cyclists we saw during our visit!

Even before you arrive at Boxhill you’re presented with stunning 180 degree views in one direction and thick woods in the other.

On went the wellies and parkas, which were needed as it so very cold being so high up. It was a pretty foggy day on the day we went, but it was dry so we were happy.

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The Person Behind the Parent {Sally: Teddy Bears and Cardigans}

Another month, another blogger to chat to as part of my ‘Person Behind the Parent’ feature!
Last year (!) we spoke to Leanne from A Slice of my life in Wales where they told they’d love to be their daughter for the day which I thought was a brilliant idea!
This month, we chat to the lovely Sally from Teddy Bears and Cardigans! A blogger based in Cardiff, but also a grandmother to Bear. They blog about their travels with Bear and what they get up to.

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Finding LGBT and Family Friendly Holidays

*THIS IS A SPONSORED POST*

It’s probably been over five years since Sharon and I got on a plane and went on holiday together. Five years since we felt tropical sun on our skin, or sat by the poolside drinking cocktails at 10am 11am. I remember looking at hotels online and then eagerly waiting to exchange our cash at the post office. It was so exciting.

Of course all of that changed once we started trying for children, and then once they arrived it was no different. Now a days, we enjoy more local holidays, and although it’s nice having the convenience of the UK, I do miss the blue seas and hot sand.

Family LGBT Friendly

As expected, having children can determine where you go on holiday, which is one of the reasons we haven’t been on a ‘proper’ holiday abroad for a long time. It can be expensive, and the thought of taking a toddler on a flight longer than two hours sends a chill through my spine.

But for an LGBT family, there are also other things that we take into consideration when choosing where to holiday, not just expense. Things such as cultural and religious differences, the law, even what rights the other parent has if one were to fall ill. The rights you have in one country may not be reflected in the next country you visit. For us, these factors are more important.

This year, one of our big plans is to get T his very own passport so we can get him on a plane before he goes to school. It would be an added bonus if we can get him out of the UK and somewhere completely different! But when it comes to picking a holiday in a different country, we will definitely be searching for LGBT Holidays for our own peace of mind as a family.

James Villa Holidays have recently released a list of LGBT-friendly destinations, as well as a list of events throughout the year. LGBT-friendly locations and villas include, Cyprus, Crete, Tuscany, Lanzarote, Menorca, and Algarve, and several other locations also boast secluded villas for privacy! The thought of a private pool sounds like heaven, not to mention the thought of exploring new places.

Here are a few of my favourite events from their list of LGBT events:

Carnaval de Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (Jan/Feb)

We’ve actually been to Gran Canaria and cannot say a bad word about it. The hotel we stayed at was friendly to Sharon and I as a couple, but we saw several families there too. The nightlife in the local area is so much fun, what with drag shows and cabaret events throughout the night, and the food in local restaurants caters for all.

Maspalomas Gay Pride, Gran Canaria (May)

Just down the road from Las Palmas, Maspalomas celebrates it’s Gay Pride in May. As part of the 10 day festival, you’ll see carnivals on the street, and hear the sound of music from bars, clubs, and restaurants. There’s a reason Gran Canaria is one of the top Gay-Friendly holiday locations.

Other Prides throughout the year can be found in Cyprus (May), Ibiza (June), Barcelona (July), and Malta (September).

Circuit Festival, Barcelona (Aug)

The circuit festival is a 10 day event full of fun, games, and dancing, but is also one of the biggest LGBT parties in the world – with links dating back to the 70’s and 80’s where the parties were a place for the underground, and once illegal, LGBT community to feel safe and have fun. Now a days, it’s a huge disco and even takes over the main water park during the day.

This one might not be one for the family, but then who says you can’t go on holiday without the kids once in a while?

If you’re a rainbow family, where do you go on holiday? What do you look for when choosing the perfect holiday?