Friday, July 28, 2017

First time flyer? Here's how it works!

Wrote this as a comment to someone in the US who asked for advice before going on a three-plane journey trip. She's a first-time flyer and feeling a bit nervous, especially as no one in her immediate circle have flown either and can talk her through it. No one else had responded, so I thought I would.

My reply turned out to be quite long, so I thought I'd put it here as well. :)

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Brits that broke Britain #tactical2017

I was thinking earlier about the whole "but Polish people come here and they get child benefits (or whatever it's called, money for having kids) even though their kid is back in Poland!" and it's like ... that's not the EU's fault. That is entirely Britain's fault for having a system that ALLOWS exploits like that!

You think the Swedish government would pay you child benefits if you lived and worked in Sweden but the rest of your family lived in the UK, including said child? Uh, not a chance. In fact, as recent posts to a FB group for Swedes returning home have highlighted that Sweden requires you to show proof that you're not claiming benefits in the UK. So it's clearly not an EU thing, it's a Britain thing.

Much like the whole thing where the NHS aren't getting money from visiting tourists. That's not an EU problem, that's a problem with NHS staff aren't taking down details and making sure people have their EHICs or (if not in the EU) getting them to pay there and then or take details of travel insurance. If you need healthcare and you can go to a country and exploit their free public health system because no one bothers to check if you're entitled to use it or ask you to pay ... that's not an EU thing, that's a Britain thing.

But it's so much easier to blame foreigners and/or the EU for your problem than to realise that your perfect nation is broken and it's actually YOUR OWN FAULT. (Liiiike not voting at all, or voting for a party that WANTS the NHS to fail so it can be replaced with something like the American system. Because that's working out great for anyone who basically isn't a millionaire ...)

We have a general election coming up. Rules for playing:
  1. Register to vote if you haven't already.
  2. Go vote on 8 June, or submit a postal vote in good time.

Who should you vote for? Find out using this simple quiz:

Are you a millionaire of some sort?
YES: Conservatives.
NO: Not the Conservatives, but the party most likely to be able to beat them in your constituency.

Are you disabled? Unemployed? Stuck in a zero hour contract? Working poor? Pensioner? Think we should have a fairer society because it benefits EVERYONE? Or simply just want the NHS to survive?
NO: Conservatives.
YES: Not the Conservatives, but the party most likely to be able to beat them in your constituency.

What's your view on Brexit?
LEAVE: Not the Conservatives, but the party most likely to be able to beat them in your constituency. (Labour are saying they'll respect the "will of the people".)
REMAIN: Not the Conservatives, but the party most likely to be able to beat them in your constituency. (LibDems are the only party that seem to be taking a proper stand against at the moment, but the main thing here is damage limitation. A "hard Brexit" will benefit no one.)

Vote tactically to get the Tories out of Downing Street. I don't care if you think Corbyn is "unelectable" - how about if people just go and vote Labour and see what happens when many people come together without relying on right-wing tabloids? (Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party twice, and he's been winning his seat as an MP since 1983, so he's clearly electable to a heck of a lot of people.) And for the love of gods, Labour, team up with whichever party is willing to be in a coalition with you! Yes, even the SNP! The important thing here is to make sure the sinking ship that is currently Britain stops taking on more water, because all the current government is doing is helping it along by filling up buckets from the sea and dumping it into the boat. But it's okay for them because they all have their lifejackets on. The same lifejackets they decided people like you and me didn't need and haven't earned so they sold off the stock to some investment bankers.

But what do I know? I'm just another one of those bloody EU immigrants, who had the nerve to come over here and pay taxes.


Thursday, October 06, 2016

Annual vet visit #4

Closed the café early so we could get home and get the boiler looked at - and take the boys to the vet. When getting nearer the time I got Monkey fairly easily into the travel box. Elbie ... not so much. Got him in the bedroom and wrestled quite a lot to get him in, and he wouldn't have any of it. NONE. After some struggling, we both went downstairs, and lured by the sound of the back door, I picked him up and wrestled him into the box - finally! He complained all the way to the vets, of course.

He went first, and was kind of cuddly, but was very squirmy trying to get him on the scales (4.34 kg eventually). Overall, he's in a good condition, if a bit highly strung (he's used to being outside most of the time, and here's us having a change of industry which means he's inside for nearly all week), and he had some gunk on his teeth. Seeing as how he mainly gets biscuits to eat, it's not too concerning, but might want to consider taking him in to get his teeth cleaned. When it was time for the booster he was growling and hissing and generally being a very angry cat, and very close to biting. The vet decided to let him back in the box to calm down.

Monkey had to be dragged out of his (so what else is new?), but put up with the examination without a fuss. His ears showed a little more wax than is usual, but no mites or anything. Teeth in good order. He was 5.57 kg, so he's dropped a little in weight, but I was advised to give him a little less food, seeing as how they're now fed using the chip feeder and their food is actually weighed.

They were both given a flea treatment/wormer combo, and sent on their merry way.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lipoedema and me

Finding out you have lipoedema can stir up all kinds of emotions. Some people find it extremely upsetting, like a life sentence, because it means there's sod all they can do about their weight. They feel as if they've been doomed to the life of a fatty, instead of clinging on to the false hope of Being Slim Again One Day, as offered by organisations like Weight Watchers and Slimming World.

Others see things differently.

I just found it incredibly liberating.

Now I don't have to go around beating myself up (mentally) for not doing as much as I can to lose weight all day every day, or worry about why I'm not losing weight, or putting my life on hold "until I've lost some weight", or putting up with people using phrases like "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips" or "no I can't possibly have that cookie, it goes straight to my thighs".

Knowing that I have lipoedema, and that THAT'S the cause of my shape and weight from childhood, I just feel like okay, well, now I don't have to angst about my weight so much. Instead I can focus on working on making it strong and healthy. Not to lose weight, although that's a welcome side effect, but in order to feel good about myself and get more energy.

I'm stuck in this body for the rest of this life, so I may as well try to enjoy it instead of wishing it was something else which it never was and is never going to be. Of course the pain is still there, that's not going away (sadly), and the difficulty in finding clothes that fit and so on, but still.

If someone was to call me a fatty now in a derogatory way, instead of being mortified and go home and cry about it, now I feel like if that was to happen, I'd tell the person in question to shove off, I have a medical condition which is at least in part genetic and fuck all I can do anything about, and whether I happen to enjoy an ice cream in the sweltering heat or not isn't going to change things, so STFU.

When I was growing up I was about 10 kg overweight, and that meant I was basically "the fat one" in my class, and my parents were concerned because they had "a fat kid". If I had been diagnosed with lipoedema at the time, how different would my outlook on life have been? (Putting aside the fact that I could've got treatment options to prevent it from progressing past stage one ...) As in, looking back on it, at the time I wasn't actually 10 kg overweight - I was a pretty normal child/teenager weight-wise but who had LIPOEDEMA, which caused that extra weight. Weight that, just like now, was around my thighs and upper arms.

Nowadays, sure, I've gained weight so that I'm now more like 50 kg heavier than I "should" be, and all that can't be blamed on lipoedema. I acknowledge that, and accept that I'm at least partially responsible for my current weight, but instead of focusing on "OMG when I THOUGHT I was fat, I weighed 40 kg less than I do now! o.O" I can focus on taking care of my body, and instead of seeing my body as a constant enemy and reminder of my failures as a person, my body can be an ally and a friend, because we're in this together.

Realising I have lipoedema has probably helped my self-confidence more than seeing a therapist did. Seeing a therapist was good because it helped getting my anxiety in check, but he wasn't necessarily the best when it came to understanding what being fat feels like, because he's never had to worry about whether a chair is going to break if you sit on it, or never had to deal with feeling judged because you happen to be eating (and eating something other than a fruit or a salad) in public, or that you might be more qualified than someone else for a job but be rejected because they don't like your fat body.

But yeah, finding out about lipoedema has been great. It answered so many questions, like "why are my upper arms so fricken pain sensitive?!" which is not something I would go to the doctors with, because c'mon, it's not a medical emergency, and neither is "my legs tend to hurt at night, which I've had for as long as I can remember" (and which was previously dismissed as "growing pains"), and the need to pee when I've been lying down for a few minutes, and so on. Now it would just be nice to have a doctor write down the diagnosis on a piece of paper as well. Shame that it's a condition most of them are unaware of, despite it affecting around 11% of the female population.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

BREXIT: I'm an immigrant

I'm an immigrant.

There, I said it.

Since I moved here in 2004 I have never been made to feel unwelcome in the UK simply based on the fact that I was born and grew up in a different country. Never, until about six months ago.

Six months ago we drove from Nottingham to see my parents in Sweden. As the UK is not part of the Schengen agreement, our passports were checked as we were leaving and re-entering the UK (our borders to the EU aren't as open as ‪#‎Brexit‬ propaganda would lead you to believe). Coming back, my husband's passport was pretty much given a casual glance and handed back. Mine was scrutinised and they asked me what my reason for entering the UK was. My response was that I live here, to which they asked "how long?" Seriously?

Since then the tone and the feel of the country has really changed. People on Facebook (some of whom are family) are sharing propaganda and outright lies left, right and centre about the EU and the UK's place within it. They vilify immigrants, and as an immigrant myself (which people tend to forget, because Scandinavians are generally seen as "good immigrants", whatever that's supposed to mean) ... err, thanks?

Like many other EU immigrants I've not claimed benefits (unless you count about three months in 2010 when the Jobcentre paid my NI contributions because I registered as a jobseeker under the misguided notion that they'd help me actually find a job, and failing that, perhaps offer a course or something to improve my job prospects - umm, nope), I rarely go to the doctors, I pay taxes both as an individual and as two separate (if small) companies.

What will happen to me if the UK leaves the EU? Am I "safe" because I've lived here for over ten years? Am I "safe" because I'm married to a British citizen? Or will the government, at any point, decide to move the goal posts and kick me out, despite being a taxpayer/spouse/long-term resident?

What will happen to our new business if the UK leaves the EU? We're trading with another EU country, which means no customs charges (have you ever ordered something from the USA for about £20 and been charged £13 customs and VAT by Royal Mail? Yeah, imagine that but ordering stuff for about £2k) and you only pay VAT to the country in which your company is registered. We've only just started out, and having to pay astronomical import fees is going to make the import side of our business go down the drain.

So yeah.

I'm an immigrant, and I'm truly scared about how easily misled and wilfully ignorant the British public is. Tabloids (owned by people living in tax havens, which is why the EU wants to go after them for tax evasion ... guess why said tabloids are pro-Brexit?) say "jump!" and the British public say "how high?" It's sad. What makes me even more sad is that when I came to this country for the very first time, as a tourist in July 2000, I felt like I had come home. It's an odd feeling when you're in a place you've never been before. In 2003 I guided some classmates around London as if I knew it a lot better than I actually did. In 2004 when I first visited Nottingham - and the man who was to become my husband - and he drove me down to Stansted, I cried. I cried because it felt so utterly wrong to part with him and I didn't want to go back without him. That's the reason why I'm here. That's the reason why I've stayed for all these years.

The UK is a great place to be, and I would probably feel like a foreigner if I moved back to Sweden, and sure, the UK is far from perfect - but that can be said for any country, most definitely including Sweden. The UK is my home. It's where I live, it's where I work, it's where my life is. My beloved husband is here, and I'm afraid that a Brexit could force me away from him (and our beloved furbabies) - even if that's highly unlikely. There are no guarantees. The UK is my home, so why do I no longer feel welcome here?