Sunday, October 19, 2014

Falling Apart

I've been feeling more Skoda than Roller....bring on the Celergen!
I've been a huge fan of supplements for years. It started when I became vegetarian aged 13: my mum didnt' want to take any chances of me missing out on vital nutrients from dead flesh and so I dutifully chowed down on a variety of vitamins each morning. 

It continued from there, even when I switched back to meat eating. I always took a good multi-vitamin, a fish oil, an evening primrose. And a few months ago I got involved with CelergenBilled as "the one and only Swiss Anti-aging Marine Oral Cell Therapy Supplement in the world,' the good people at Celergen asked me to try their product for two months, and report back on how it went. I hadn't heard of the product before, but a quick look online revealed it as "The Anti-Ageing Secret of the Rich and Famous". I was instantly hooked. Shallow, moi?

Well here's a confession: I stopped taking it a few weeks ago. I usually take my vitamins first thing in the morning at my desk. I'd been so busy at work that I was hardly ever at my desk, plus I ran out of tablets and didn't seem to have time to contact the Celergen team to get more. Would you like to know what happened? Honestly, all of this is true:
  • I got an eye infection in my right eye
  • I got an eye infection in my left eye
  • I developed a twitch above my left eye (I only ever ger this when chronically tired, which brings me onto my next point)
  • I became so chronically tired I could barely get out of bed in the morning
  • As a result of this I couldn't face the gym
  • The skin on my face became so dry and flaky I resembled a lizard (last night I resorted to putting oil on my face in desperation.)
  • I developed a sore throat and have been fighting a cold for a week (Note: I haven't had a cold since 2008)

Say what you like, but this list is way too long to be purely coincidental. If there was any small part of me that still needing convinving about Celergen, that small part has been well and truly silenced. I'm practically breaking my fingers logging on to order online

Oh dear Celergen friends, how I've missed you! I shall of  course report back when I'm back to my full, fabulous self.

Hard Graft

PR: It ain't like this, kids
Many years ago, in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I started my career in PR. 

I was fortunate enough to cut my teeth at one of the UK's best agenciesWe romped through awards ceremonies like rumbunctious toddlers, drunk on our own fabulosity and success, collecting awards like sweets, for hundreds of campaigns, for Agency of the Year, hell, we even won Agency of the Decade. 

We were young, we were hungry, we were ambitious, we were the epitome of work hard play hard. We were out every other night of the week, but always in the office first thing the next day. Sometimes we'd go in at the weekend, just to get a steal on the (inevitably) crazy week ahead. We knew that there were hundreds of people who wanted our jobs, and they were good. So we had to be better.

It was a whirl of hard work, hysteria and happiness. 

Let's be clear: it was extremely tough too. It wasn't nicknamed the 'House of Pain' for nothing: there were regular tears in the toilets and throwing up in the car park due to the pressure. But some of my best and most enduring friendships were forged there as we bonded through the grind. And I can honestly say the leadership and the talent that I met, worked with and learned from, was the best in the business. It is no surprise that everyone who worked there has gone on to be successful in their careers, and we all attribute that in part, to the time we spent there.

So when I first arrived in the Middle East I was truly knocked for six by what I encountered. Apparently, it was perfectly acceptable to send a text informing your director that you couldn't make it into work because you suffered period pains, a headache, or (my personal favourite) 'my eyes feel funny'. It was also a normal occurrence to be late for work. Every day. With excuses more weird and wonderful each week.

Six years on and I'm happy to say that standards have improved massively and we've (mostly) moved beyond this. But I'm still gobsmacked by the people that I interview. They frequently come with a list of demands: not just salary and package, but what they will and won't do (mainly won't), whch areas/sectors they want to work on, which clients they want to dedicate their time to....the list is endless.

Sometimes at the end of a hard day I ponder what would happen to these precious little darlings if they were dropped into a UK PR agency. Better still, if I put them in front of some of my ex-employers for interview. I think I know the answer. And it isn't pretty....

Britney's Top Tips for Travelling with a Baby

Snakes on a plane:
marginally less frightening than babies on a plane
It's been a while since I boarded a plane and flew to foreign climes. 18 months to be precise. 

I had a travel ban from my consultant when pregnant so was effectively grounded. Then the fear of travelling with a small tiny tyrant rendered me uninterested in any sort of plane situation. I know many some people trill merrily that: "Babies are just so portable" and that child travel is "So easy! Just wait until they are walking!". I didn't subscribe to this.  When you've spent 6 months living on zero sleep the thought of negotiating a busy airport with a baby that eats every hour is not a pleasant one.

For the woman who never spent longer than 8 weeks on Dubai turf, this travel ban was a total killer. Every time I walked past my (spectacular if I do say so myself) framed world map in the hallway, I sighed despondently. So much of the world still left to see! 

Would I ever quaff fizz in the airport bar whilst waiting to board again? 

Would I ever go wild in the Mac Duty Free aisles again? 
Would I ever sachay through the Dubai E-Gates again? Well - that's actually a tricky one with a child as they still need their passports stamped...humph.

I've blogged before about travel and shared my top tips. Here's an amended version for travelling avec Baby Britney (BB).

Divide and Conquer
If you're travelling with someone else, anticipate the worst case scenario. I'm lucky enough to have never lost my luggage....BUT......just in case: When you're packing, split the absolute necessities across cases. Eg one tub of formula in each, a stack of nappies in each, a handful of food pouches in each. Bless my husband for taking this on the chin and accepting his share of BB's frilly bikini bottoms.

Pick Your Airline Wisely
We paid a bit more to fly Emirates. They have bassinet seats which are a godsend. Even if your baby is too big for the bassinet (BB only just fitted), even if they don't sleep in it (ha!) you can use the bassinet for keeping baby stuff in. Or in our case, wine and gin.

Emirates also go a long way to making the flight more bearable. Mini baby packs with toys, wipes. Infant meals. Generous sevings of wine. Oh and my absolute favourite: they come round with a polaroid camera and take a photo of you as a family! Genius.

Fly During the Day
This will vary by child, but for us, it was a no brainer. BB is mainly awake during the day, so if she misses a daytime nap, it's really not the hugest deal. If she just cat naps in your arms for 40 minutes, this will get her through the rest of the flight.

But at night, in her normal life, she sleeps. When 6.30 pm rolls around, she's begging for bed. She practically cheers as she gets lowered into her cot and goes down like a stone. If, at 6.30 pm, you're experiencing mid-air turbulence and holding her, with bright cabin lights in her face, she isn't going to sleep. And she's going to protest, loudly, about this.

Take Your Routine with You
This is where you'll reap the benefits of your routine and rituals. Babies are malleable little individuals, and if you take all your sleep cues with you and crack them out, you stand a better chance of having a rested time. In our case, bath before bed, bottle, grobag, the white noise app, BB is powerless to resist. Whic brings me onto:

Invest in a Snooze Shade
This genius invention velcros over your pram, creating a lovely, snooze-inducing, dark environment. We cracked out the bedtime routine, popped BB inside the pram with the Snooze Shade covering it, blasted the white noise and voila! Sleeping baby. Ready to be wheeled downstairs to snooze next to us whilst we ate dinner. And drank wine. Best buy ever!

Be Relaxed
Ha! Ha ha ha! Have we met? I can't believe I'm even writing this. Honestly, try to relax. Wine massively helped me onthe plane. Also, baby screaming is surprisingly muffled by the sound of the plane. Who knew? You can barely hear it. I promise you. Which brings me onto:

An Extra Pair of Hands
I am extremely lucky and have a very hands on DH. A whining, teething, crying BB does not phase him one jot. One afternoon I handed her over, scampered down to the pool clutching a bonkbuster and enjoyed two hours on a sunlounger, quaffing wine and losing myself in a Hollywood trash bonkbuster. Imagine! 

I obviously reciprocated when he went to the gym every day, so it worked both ways. But it is worth repeating just how invaluable an extra pair of willing, loving and supportive hands are. When turbulence hits at forty thousand feet and you've been trying to placate the tiny tyrant for an hour, it is bliss to be able to take turns.

So there we go. There's no denying it's a dfferent experience travelling with a baby. And I'd definitely like to supplement this with some weekends away with a girlfriend. But there's something very beautiful about spending relaxed time together with the people that you love most in the whole world. You bond in a way that you don't always have time to when in the daily grind of life.

We went away as three separate people. We came back as a family. I recommend it.