My Elective Caesarean - The Surgery

Friday, December 29, 2017

As most of you know thanks to my last post, last week I had my elective caesarean surgery. A full week has passed since the day, and I finally feel coherent enough to put my post together - life with a new born is a whole new experience and while I'm enjoying every second of it.. The lack of sleep is a killer.
 
Obviously this post is way out of my usual comfort zone - but one I want to write and treasure as the years go on. I may have had no makeup on and some serious bed hair by the end of the day, but I also had a little man in my arms and I haven't fully let him go just yet!
 
Waiting to go down for my elective caesarean surgery.

I arrived at the hospital at 7.45am - we had been told to arrive for 8am so that the scheduled caesareans could be put into order. On arrival, we were informed that there would be three planned C-sections that day - as it turned out, I would be the last one and I'd be going down for surgery just before lunchtime.
 
Cot, empty, hospital, c-section, planned caesarean section, elective caesarean

As we waited, it was all a little surreal.

 
I could hear women all around me who were either anxiously awaiting the same as myself, or the women who had just been through the procedure settling their new babies and recovering. None of us made eye contact with one another at first - because we had arrived before 8am, some new Mothers were still sleeping and it was a little awkward sitting in the ward as they came around from the night before when we were all somewhat bright eye'd and bushy tailed compared.

As I mentioned on my last post, I had to take some medication before coming in too - one tablet at 10pm the night before which I openly admit made me trump like crazy.. Then another of the same at 6am. I had a separate one to take at 6am too, but I wasn't allowed to eat or drink at all from 12am the night before so I was enviously watching people drink the coffee that was offered around.
 

After a few hours had passed, I was given my gown and stockings to wear. The stockings were a two-woman job, a friendly midwife helping me get into them as I'd never had stood a chance alone. I was next. This was at around 11am, and she told me I should be in before lunchtime - easing my mind a little as I wanted time after to recover with my son and family who were waiting outside the ward just as anxious as I was.

It didn't go to plan however.

As 3pm rolled round, I was given a drip as I was dehydrating - something was happening in surgery and mine had been pushed back. While I don't begrudge anyone going in for emergency surgery, I remember feeling sick at this point - I'd had so many hours to think about the procedure and I'd seen so many women come onto the ward sore - what happened down there? The fear of the 'unknown' was real and I struggled internally for another hour before I was approached by two orderlies. It was time.

Mike had to go get himself scrubbed up so I nervously wandered to the operating theatre (carrying my drip!) and met the team who would be looking after me. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I remember a female nurse taking off my knickers - I'd left them on! - and gently poking fun at how I really shouldn't be prude. They'd seen a lot. One nurse was explaining what would be happening over the next few moments, as I'd be having a 'spinal' - when Mike reappeared, I held onto him and listened.

The Spinal Block


I was told to lean forward over my bump, and push my back bones out as much as I could. Being pregnant, this wasn't the most comfortable but I did as I was told - I felt a scratch on my back as a general anaesthetic was injected into the area that the spinal block would be inserted, but with Mike taking the brunt of my nerves on his hand and the kind nurse hugging me incredibly hard while talking me through what was happening - I simply felt a pushing on my spine before my legs began to feel like I was getting into a nice warm bath.

It was an incredibly bizarre feeling.

My bum began to warm up and feel the same, and I was told to lie back on the bed - something I couldn't do as my legs weren't working! Thankfully, that had been part of the plan and I was assisted into getting into position as a catheter was inserted. I remember my arms being straight out either side of me - one arm had a blood pressure cuff on, and the other my drip was attached. Mike was over one shoulder, holding my head as the anxiety surrounding the situation kicked in - I was going to be sliced open!

One of the doctors began testing what I could, and what I couldn't feel by using something very cold. He dripped it on my arm and I physically recoiled as it was so cold - then he did the same on my stomach and I felt nothing. That was the green light for things to get underway.

The Caesarean Procedure


Another team arrived at this point, introducing themselves in a haze of my own nerves. As they lifted my gown and covered my dignity with a towel, people were being so professional and calm - it helped me center myself a little although it did nothing for the terror I felt in my chest. As they finished painting my baby bump bright orange ("do you like our brand of fake tan?") a screen was lifted and my view obscured.

I could feel people moving around my bump, but I couldn't work out what was happening.. No pain, just the pressure of people moving or leaning over me. At one point, someone asked if we wanted to see our baby arrive and we agreed, the screen then dropping. I couldn't see anything as my bump was still there, but within a few seconds something purple was brought into view and I heard Mike telling me it was our boy.

He was then laid on my chest as we both welcomed him - a tiny little boy, barely bigger than my own head as he shivered against my chest. The screen was back up then, and Mike was told to head to the 'recovery room' so he didn't have to watch me getting sewn back together - my little boy taken to go get weighed.

It all happened so fast, I had done so much reading on what happened in the operating theatre but honestly? Nothing really prepared me for the overwhelming realisation that this was me on the table, and my son was being brought into the world. While it was the scariest moment of my life so far, I'll treasure that moment he was placed on me.



hospital, c-section, planned caesarean section, elective caesarean, baby boy
 
As I was wheeled into recovery, Mike was waiting alongside our little bundle of joy. I can't remember a lot of the recovery room in all honesty as it seems to be a whirlwind of pain relief and complete shock. The feeling of relief was incredible - I had done it. He was here, he was in my arms and perfect - and we were all together.

I did find out the day afterward that a suppository for pain relief had been inserted, so that probably explains my hazy fog post-surgery. We had some time in recovery where I was given a little lesson in breast feeding, before I went back up to the ward.. Time had gone at that point so Mike had barely a few moments with us before he had to go. Then I was alone, with this tiny little being that was dependent on me. He was comfortably curled up on my chest as nurses came to change pads underneath me, give me morphine and some dinner.

It was a really overwhelming feeling, and one I didn't enjoy so much.. I remember it being 2am and I was alone on a ward with my first baby. What did I do? Nobody came to tell me what to do, there was no little handbook that came out with him and I couldn't google things. I was on my own.

As 6am came round, someone came and kindly gave me a bed bath - I was still in my gown from surgery so they redressed me in one of the nighties I had brought and assured me someone would be there to bathe the baby in the morning. Nobody came, so I did my best with some wipes as I knew he would be having visitors that day - with the head of hair he came out with he really needed a bit of a tidy up. My surgery scar was hot and painful - I could drag myself up the bed but it was a slow affair and it just wasn't comfortable. More morphine was given to me at around 10am, and I spent a lot of the day trying to feed baby and get my head around everything.

I was taken for a shower that morning, walking incredibly slowly and feeling every movement around the incision - but I was so desperate to feel a bit more human and less grimy I knew a shower was the only option. The catheter had been removed at that point, so with the help of some massive knickers and a giant maternity pad, I was able to put some clean pyjamas and feel a bit fresher.

Mike came to see us just after lunchtime, and thankfully he was an expert at feeding the little one and I learned a lot from just watching him. After the shock of the previous night it was nice to spend time with my little family without worrying if I had done something wrong or if I would break the baby.. Winding him terrified me previously but I was reassured I was doing as well as I could be. Again, while I was so in love with my little one.. The lack of direction given after birth was really tough. I hadn't done this before, I had no idea what I was doing and I was terrified I was doing something wrong, especially with a lot of confusion surrounding blood sugars and baby being whisked off every hour or two to have his bloods checked.

The rest of that afternoon, family came to see us and my little one stole the show - he didn't have to have his bloods checked nearly as often after that first night which was a relief. I was simply counting the hours down at that point - as much as staff had been friendly, I wanted to go home. The next day rolled around, and as I packed up my things (very slowly) the midwife signing me off approached me and asked if I'd been prescribed any regular painkillers.. No. No wonder my scar had been so painful, I'd been on paracetamol since the morphine had worn off. That was the last straw for me, and I just needed to be out of there - thankfully, at 12pm Mike was pushing baby out in a pushchair and I was gingerly following with a bag of medication.

While my aftercare experience was abysmal, I'm glad that I endured the two days - now we are home we can adjust to family life and I can't wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!

My Elective Caesarean - The Pre-Op Assessment

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Today was my 'pre-op assessment' for my elective caesarean which is happening on Thursday. As I've been pretty open with my pregnancy this far, I've decided that I'll keep up with that endeavour and write about what happened today. I know with my date rumbling towards me (so quickly!) I've been scouting around for various posts and vlogs detailing the whole process and they seem a little thin on the ground - especially for electives.

My Elective Caesarean - The Pre-Op Assessment | She & Life | www.sheandlife.com
 
First things first: today involves yet another blood test. No samples thankfully, but they do want your blood to check things over before your surgery and to make sure they have some samples on file for if you need a transfusion during the procedure. Obviously, if you opted for a planned/elective, you already know all those risks and percentages that your consultant has gone through with you so I won't add those to this entry.
 
I got given two types of medication to take on Wednesday night/Thursday morning: two 150mg Ranitidine tablets (one to be taken at 10pm on the night before going into hospital, one to be taken at 6am on the morning of the surgery) and one Metoclopramide Hydrochloride 10mg tablet (to be taken at 6am on the morning of the surgery). My midwife explained these were an anti-sickness drug, and a drug to neutralise stomach acid - nothing too scary.
 
She went through what to expect on the day, which actually settled my nerves a lot. I thought that I actually wouldn't be able to eat from 8pm on the Wednesday - turns out, I can be a happy little piggy until 12am that night but after that it's nil by mouth saving 250mls of water between 12am and 6am. Bearable as I think about it right now, but I'm guessing by 7am on Thursday I'd be prepared to kill someone for a bowl of cereal!
 
After a brief outline, she advised me that I'd be staying in hospital for two days - aiming for coming home on Saturday which I'm dreading. I don't sleep very well away from 'my' bed, so the thought of being in hospital during that period doesn't really settle my nerves - especially with the strict visiting hours. Thankfully, Mike can be there pretty much when he likes, but family and friends have to abide to two one hour slots so hopefully it won't be too much for me.
 
Obviously, I left the pre-op with lots of information regarding blood clots and the self-administered injection you have to give yourself for up to a week post-surgery.. Not a fan of that, but it has to be done. One thing I did take away from today was that I needed a nightshirt/nightie to wear. I'd originally gone for pyjamas (warm, snug, huge waist-banded ones) but as I'd be having a catheter inserted during the procedure a pant-less alternative was recommended. Cue stopping at Home Bargains on the way home and investing in a flannel night shirt!
 
All in all, I've had all my questions answered and I feel like I know what I'm heading in to - I'm still frightened and feel a bit sick when I think about it all, but that really is a natural anxiety for something I've never been through before. I've had a really supportive group of ladies via various Facebook groups and twitter holding my hand thus far, and I'm sure they'll be there for me when I need them over the next few days too - it isn't weak to ask questions or admit you're scared!
 

Other elective and none-elective caesarean experiences you should read:

 

The Expectant Mothers Gift Guide

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

So, you have a friend who is expecting a little one during or soon after the festive period - I can see you, staring at the new born clothing as you rack your brains as to what to buy this lady with a life growing inside of her.

Stop - I'm here to help!

First thing is first: please, please remember that she is a woman. Not just a Mum-to-be, not just a boiled egg struggling into her maternity pants after eating too many mince pies (...This is a very self reflective post) and she isn't just a baby. You can buy her something and not feel guilty - in fact, she might have her confidence boosted a little - as the due date arrives quickly and those surprise family visits mean baby gets spoiled but Mum?

Lets talk.
 
The Expectant Mothers Gift Guide 2017 | She & Life
 

The Pamper Hamper



Why not head to B&M, Home Bargains or Poundstretcher and buy a container - then set yourself a budget and put anything that a woman might need when she's feeling a little down in your basket. From simple things like deodorant to face cream - although you get extra points if you throw in a packet of Rennie and a menthol candle this time of year. You don't need to break the bank and I promise you, each and every item will be appreciated by the intended recipient.
 

The Gadgets

 
If you have a gadget conscious target, why not look into things that she can utilise during the night when she's up feeding? Book lights, power packs for her phones battery or even an electric blanket - think ahead a little. Breast feeding (if she chooses that of course) is often a lonely vigil so something to keep her company a little would go a long way in making it more bearable.
 
Other options are things like gift cards for Audible, Spotify and the like - both Mum and Dad can share those depending on who has the late shift that night.

The Necessities

 
This time why not put together a care package of some things that Mum can wear. These are partially geared towards life with the little one, but I assure you each Mum as she draws closer to that big date craves nothing but these staple items:

- Pyjamas or nightwear. Brushed cotton and warm preferably, in a big size. I usually sit between a twelve and a fourteen, but since growing my bump I'm much more at home in sixteen to eighteen and I don't actually boast a huge bump. They lie better and when you lay in bed, they move better with your body and you don't feel as restricted!
 
- Leggings. Again, a comfort thing. Not just for wearing long tops and throwing on some leggings.. But as winter wraps herself around us, for layering. I wear leggings under trousers for work, and I've been guilty of sleeping in a pair too as we were blessed with the -5 temperatures this week.
 
- Nursing bras. Bringers of boob-related heaven. When expecting, your boobs are on a knife edge swaying between bags of lead (they feel that way) or just plain old hot and painful. You can't get cosy and when you wear your pre-pregnancy bras, you find you have a lot more spillage. Your nipples generally make bids for freedom every few minutes and.. It isn't great fun. Invest in a few bras that will help her feel more in control of her boobs and with the added function of being easy access when the little one does arrive!
 
Obviously these are a few of the things I've been mulling over throughout my pregnancy - feel free to share your own ideas for those Christmas essentials! I've tried to keep the budget of this post fairly modest. As a new parent myself, money needs to stretch this year and I've had to really work on putting some things together for my loved ones - so sharing my cheats and hacks to achieve this only seems fair!

Christmas at Dunham Massey 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017


Back in October when I received an invite to a National Trust gem who were pulling out all of the stops for Christmas - I jumped on the chance. I do love the festive season, even more so that our little one is due this month - so being able to be there on the opening night of such a magical event was a dream come true.


As we made our way through the main gates, the atmosphere was infectiously festive. Faint jingling bells could be heard on the wind, the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts were on the wind and children were excitedly pulling parents into the courtyard. I could soon see why - packed into the yard were a whole host of different stalls, each selling festive favourites: hot chocolate (even a Baileys version for those looking for a little bit of a naughty treat), mulled wine, spiced cider and even the more carnivorous side to Christmas - venison burgers, pork and apple baguettes and many many other treats besides.

The centrepiece was the beautiful carousel however - it really captured the spirit of the evening, and seeing such a gem made you fall even more under Dunham Massey's spell.

As we made our way towards the 'trail entrance' I have to say, I didn't know what to expect. Making our way past one of Dunham Massey's elves (Sprinkles, I believe her name was - and she looked fantastic!) we were greeted by Santa who was introducing himself to the children - building up the excitement for what lay ahead - and boy, was it a treat.



Even though we were visiting on the first night staff were incredibly friendly and attentive, smiling and directing us around the area helpfully. It was an easy to follow route, due to areas being roped off and of course.. Cameras and selfies are 100% promoted. Remember to share yours using the hashtag #ChristmasatDunham!


Tucked away in the heart of the trail was the opportunity to buy a handmade marshmallow, and toast it over an open fire. I opted for a toasted coconut flavoured offering, while Mike opted for blueberry and gin - both were devoured quickly and thankfully on a chilly December night. We had both wrapped up warm for the outing and it made it so much more enjoyable - I recently invested in a duck down jacket from Snowdonia to help stave the frost off of me and bump, and it really did come into its own while we wandered.


Marshmallows eaten, we were free to explore the rest of the trail which wound around the gardens, bringing you back to the entrance gates. The trail is approximately a mile long, although it doesn't feel like a mile when you face such wonderful sights.

You get the chance to wander around the courtyard again, and perhaps pick up a post-trail treat (I fully recommend the spiced apple punch from the same vendors who sell mulled wine - its stunning) before heading home for the evening. We ended up sipping some spiced apple punch, I indulged in some roasted chestnuts and then we took one more wander to the amazing fountains before heading home.. I can't recommend this event enough for anyone, whether in the festive spirit or not. I came home glowing with Christmas cheer and now I can't wait to put our tree up!

Safeguarding The Future Using Stem Cells

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


When I first got an e-mail about 'collecting stem cells to protect me in the future' I admit, I had a futuristic horror movie flowing through my mind. I wouldn't be letting anyone harvest any cells from my baby, thank you very much.

However.

I recently did a little looking into this practice as the thought of  'harvesting cells' perturbed me so much.. Only to realise all isn't what it seems in the rather pushy e-mails advertising various companies and harvesters, baby is completely separate to the said harvesting taking place and it isn't too invasive either. I know when I first had an e-mail about it, my mind immediately painted the medical professional as some leatherface-esque horror villain armed with pointy objects and vials looking to get at my newborn - but that isn't the truth at all.

What does it involve?


After birth, baby still has the cord. The umbilical cord, which he has to absorb various nutrients from you during your pregnancy - after birth, this is often taken and discarded. What the 'harvesting' companies do, is have a specially trained medical professional take the cord blood and store it for future use.
 
Some people decide to store a 4-6cm section of cord for the same reason, although this is taken after the safe delivery of the placenta - again, by a trained medical professional.

What are stem cells used for?


Currently stem cells are being used to combat certain illnesses - such as lymphoma and leukaemia although the research currently being made into this special cell is on-going and progressing each and every day.

If you'd like to know more, please feel free to watch the video below - it gave me a little more clarity about the subject. I have also stored the infographic I was sent on a page here on sheandlife.com so that readers can take it and read it at their leisure - it was a big factor in settling my misgivings about the procedures.


Beating The Winter Blues In Style This Autumn/Winter!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Winter has well and truly wrapped itself around England right now, so when I was invited to get a few pieces of clothing for Mike I knew I had to wrap him up for winter. He's actually quite a difficult person to buy for in all honesty - his go-to pieces are often practical, worn to be utilised not to just look pretty.
 
Together, we went through and picked out an outfit that he could really get to grips with, throughout the autumn/winter season.
 

 
As you can see, its a very multi purpose and versatile ensemble - perfect for winter walks, Sunday snooker practice and going out to the pub for a good old fashioned meal no matter what time of the week it is. With a little one on the way and potentially an early start to next year pushing a pram for the two of us, we knew investing in cosy, weatherproof items would be the best thing for us to do!
 
 
The knit is a Williams & Brown product, which means it doesn't break the bank but doesn't scrimp on the overall quality. It was on sale when we got hold of one, which meant for the very purse-friendly sum of £15.50 Mike has a jumper he can rely on during the winter months.
 
Another good, wearable item are the Mish Mash Ricardo Slim Fit Jeans - I'm a huge fan of dark blue denim, and despite being washed a few times these have held the colour well - usually, it starts to leak and fades really quickly which leaves me reaching for the Dylon. The denim is also quite thick but offers a little bit of stretch, meaning they aren't restrictive which some slim fit jeans invariably are.
 
We did pay £50 for the quality of these, so I'm really glad it paid off - these will be a favourite well into spring and summer, never mind the autumn/winter seasons.


My personal favourite.

The Flintoff range is a new line at Jacamo, and I probably urged Mike to get these more than I should as I'm a bit of a Freddie Fan! These are the Olive Green Chukka Boots, not made for hiking or long distances but perfect for when you need to look smart without going overboard.

I did lean towards the darker coloured pair, but on arrival these did convert me to the olive side. At £35, I'm sure we bagged a bargain as the stitching and materials used for these are incredibly high quality and made to last - even if they do need to be broken in a little to make them comfortable.




We also decided to splurge on a new winter coat. We splurged a few years ago and wore our last ones to death, so having the opportunity to pick a long-lasting, pocket friendly jacket was too good to pass up! We settled on this one, for £18 in the sale.

This Snowdonia 3-in-1 Jacket is windproof and waterproof which means no matter what the season throws at us it will do him well, especially as it has a removable fleece lining. It has a number of pockets for hiding gadgets away (phone, camera, video camera..) which are secure and waterproof, giving me peace of mind that we aren't going to lose anything when we are out and about.

The October 2017 Glossybox - Be A Unicorn In A Field Of Horses!

Monday, November 06, 2017


October is the month of ghouls and nasties... But not at Glossybox HQ. This month was the month of great debate - Unicorn or Mermaid?!
 
I decided to give my pregnant, egg-shaped Mamma self a treat and subscribed to Glossybox this month - at £10.00 a month (with £3.25 of post and packaging) I don't think its too heavy on the purse, and to be honest? I really looked forward to receiving this in the post!
 
If you've never subscribed before, basically makeup and beauty lovers can receive a box of themed goodies in the post - Glossybox boasts 4 full sized products in their boxes at least. This month as you'll see, there are five full sized products, and the overall price of the products contained are more than the subscription price each and every month. What isn't to love, right?


Emblazoned with my offering, it was pretty easy for me to suss I had been chosen to receive one of the coveted Unicorn boxes. I really liked the box, under the lid was a quote: "be a unicorn in a field of horses" and it really did make me smile. Obviously, this box is pink, red and purple toned as opposed to the greenish blue tones of the mermaid box.. But lets go inside shall we?


On opening, the box was presented in the usual Glossybox fashion - sealed with a sticker and a bow. I do like the detailed touch Glossybox do add to boxes - sometimes adding sequins or glitter depending. I was greeted by shredded blue paper this time, to protect my goodies from being mishandled during the shipping process.


First, we have the Lord and Berry Magic Brow Pencil (RRP £14) - pictured is brunette.

I love eyebrow products, I tend not to stray from my Illamasqua Brow Cake very often but I have used the Lord and Berry product a few times now. Conveniently, it is in pencil form and the tones are marbled so you can get a really natural effect.. I prefer a structured look that you can achieve with a brush easily, so the Illamasqua one still wins out for me but I find having this pencil in my bag is perfect for when I need to touch up my brows. Very handy during the winter months!


The next item is the Sleek Crème To Powder Blush in Crimson (RRP £5.99). I love Sleek blush products - I usually stick to the Suede Blush, but I have slowly come to love this new vivid shade. Used sparingly, you can build up a lovely rosy glow, and adding a little gold touch really does make it shine. Obviously, the crème based formula means this is a very vivid, highly pigmented blush that shouldn't be slapped on - take your time, otherwise you might look more like a festive elf!


The Bang Cosmetics Crème Colour in Dolce Pink (RRP $22)  is next on our list - I've used this as a bit of a highlighting accent as it really is very pink, but it prides itself on being 'multi use' as is perfect for eyes, lips and cheeks. I don't usually wear much on my eyes as I don't suit eye shadows, but I can definitely see this being a new go-to highlighter for nights out.


Now, this might not be a cosmetic item - but it's a handy one. The Kawaii Enterprise Egg Brush Cleanser (RRP £7.99) slips onto your fingers and allows you to get to grips with your grimy makeup brushes when it comes to cleaning day. Glossybox have even provided a cute little tutorial to show you how its done - no excuses to have dirty brushes now, people!


The final product, is this Makeup Revolution Redemption Palette Mermaids vs Unicorns (RRP £4). A palette absolutely bursting with colour, the colours are fairly pigmented and easy to blend. I found that some lightened a lot when it came to swatching, so you may need to work these in the pan a little before they transfer completely. Again, I can't really comment too much on these as I'm not one to use eye-shadow - if you've used this palette, what do you think?

You can see that excluding the Bang Cosmetics item (as I can't find a UK supplier!) the box totals at around £32 for the other four items.. And the only one I probably won't use is the £4 palette. I'm really impressed, and can't wait for the November box to turn up - Glossybox has restored my faith in subscription boxes!

A Night In The Company Of Wolves, With Burn The Curtain...

Thursday, November 02, 2017



In a tiny village on the edge of the mountains, a young girl puts on her red shoes and cloak, and heads into the forest alone, watched by unseen eyes.
 
As the shadows lengthen, she begins to run… Now the hunt begins.
 
Angela Carter’s classic tale has been adapted by Burn the Curtain and Shiona Morton to be a promenade theatre adventure for runners and walkers. It also includes elements of the author’s stories ‘Wolf-Alice’, ‘Peter and the Wolf ‘ and ‘The Werewolf’.
 
Join Burn the Curtain in the theatrical re-telling of this dark and mysterious modern classic. We need you to run or walk with us. To help us to sniff out those who have been born feet first, to hunt those who are hairy on the inside…


On Friday the 28th of October, I was lucky enough to have won tickets to see the Burn The Curtain Theatre Company perform at The Dream in Sutton Manor. I strongly urge you to get yourself along to a performance when they visit an area you can reach - it was a completely new experience for me and I'm still gushing about it when I mention it to people.

When myself and Gail arrived at The Dream, I actually had no idea what to expect.. The e-mail (which was completely in character!) urged us to be at the venue for 7pm so that the main event could begin at 7.30. We were actually the first ones there, but we were immediately reassured by the stewards who immediately saw our confused looks in the car park - they took control and pointed us in the right direction.
 
Now, I've been to The Dream before - albeit in the daylight, and even though I was armed with a torch I immediately lost all sense of direction when it came to navigating around the dirt pathways to the registration tent. Thankfully, the team had various people at places where the pathways split so we found ourselves registering with no huge issues. The staff who manned the tents, and those who took the time to register people were so friendly and chatty - putting us at ease even though we were in the pitch black darkness armed with only our torches for company at that point.
 
 
The area had been set up to direct two different groups around the woodland, on two different trails, following two different sections of the same story. Impressive!

At first, we were all guided up and given a brief introduction to the characters - The Priest and The Baron. From then on in, it depended on whether you had signed up to the 'Hunter' group who were running (around 4.5 miles, at a fast pace) or the 'Gatherers' (walking, around 2.5 miles).
 
We were in the Gatherer group naturally, as being 7 months pregnant.. I wasn't going to be running very far. I have to say, this group was still quite a strong pace - as children were excited to see the characters and progress the story, they set the pace and the group soon split into strong walkers and the ones who were always playing catch up. I was the latter, but I enjoyed it none-the-less - I was able to keep up with the plot and still got involved in the character interaction the actors provided.
 
 
The characters, were fantastic.
 
The costuming, the façade they kept up when dealing with 'the villagers' (..us!) and everything about the interaction they provided was done so at an incredibly professional level. I don't actually think they broke character once, which added to the magic of the whole evening.
 
At one point, we were all brought back together for refreshments which was a very welcome hot chocolate underneath the stars. I remember at one point, The Baron was going around to each group encouraging us to share information with one another as we pieced together the mystery behind the plot. Things did take a turn for the sinister then, and we found ourselves on the run!
 
I do want to make a special mention to the gentleman who walked with us, who had two huge speakers attached to his back which played various music and ambient noise when needed. I honestly felt so 'in' the production at times, Gail had to remind me to stop walking so fast! He had a habit of staying by our sides though, so it was hard not to get caught up in the soundtrack he was playing - very well played, Speaker Man!
 

The performance started at 7.30pm, and we found ourselves applauding the actors at around 10.10pm - forty minutes later than anticipated, but very worth while. As we made our way back down to the car park it was thoroughly refreshing to hear everyone buzzing about the event - talking about everything from the characters, to the setting.

I can't recommend the show more. If you get the chance to attend a production by this talented group of people, make sure it sits at the top of your priorities - you won't be disappointed.
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