Friday, February 24, 2017

Picking a restaurant with Will


I actually have deleted what I was just about to write and say in this blog because half way through I started talking about a subject I felt I should write about. I am without a shadow of doubt the most anal person when it comes to picking a restaurant, so much so it drives Joanne around the bend. She only said to me on Monday " Do you fancy going for food this Friday ", my reply as always is " of course! but leave it with me", those words strike fear in to Joanne. Joanne knows she will spend the remainder of the week asking me the same question "have you picked a place yet" to which I will respond "I see a few places but I am still thinking". Now don't get it twisted we don't go for food often, but when we do I have to research and research and research some more before I am happy with my first choice. Then that first choice will most likely get canned and I will have changed my mind soon after. Joanne is cute though ( cute in this sense is Irish slang for sly ) she always leaves the picking of a restaurant to me because she cannot make a decision either. On the odd occasion she will pick a place and invariably it will be somewhere I don't have much love for, i'd swear she does it to get a reaction out of me. There is also the game I play ( I say game it is me being thick ). Joanne will suggest a place, I go "nah" , I spend too long picking and we end up going to Joanne's original suggestion.

I use every single avenue open to me before picking on a restaurant. I will read blogs, newspaper "lifestyle" sections, food based websites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and finally the bastion of all reviews TripAdvisor. I live and die by TripAdvisor, but I do know where to draw the line with the site. For example if a review for a restaurant is bad because e.g." The taps were not clean" or the toilet for floor was covered in urine, I am not going to obviously pay much attention to them. I am looking at 2 things, both are of equal importance to me. Firstly the food, the food must be good, the reviews of such must make me think going here is going to be a gastronomic pleasure. The food review can be very subjective though so there is quite alot you need to wade through in order to make up an opinion on an establishment. Secondly, and I say secondly as it is probably more like joint first, SERVICE. When I was younger I did a chef course and at the same time a hospitality course was run side by side with our course. I will openly admit thinking "Why in the hell would you do a course in hospitality" there is no skill in being a waiter/waitress". Oh my how I was wrong, service is absolutely everything in a restaurant. The people in front of house are there to ensure you are having a great experience. It starts from the very minute you open the door to the restaurant, it has to be always on point without exception. I am looking for good food and great service.

I am not a food snob ( I will now demonstrate this ) either I just want to eat really good food, and it can be as simple as a good stew, just give me good food and I am happy. I am going to end this now in a moment and you are all going to bust yourselves laughing at me. This morning Joanne comes down the stairs, "So Will, have you decided yet" to which I respond "hmmm still thinking". Right about now she is going to stab me! I gave it 10 mins until we hopped in the car "Ok so I think I have come up with my choices, how about a chipper or or or better yet McDonalds". She burst out laughing, I had spent the entire week dangling her on a string to come up with these two absolutely excellent choices I am sure you will agree. Yes yes I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous, well there in lies the rub. We have been both eating healthier since New Years and right now there is nothing I want more than either a dirty chipper or an even dirtier McDonalds. Did she agree? of course she agreed because sometimes all you want is a McDonalds. You can take the piss out of McDonalds until the cows come home, you can say its dire food, and my response : Nope Incorrect. McDonalds is perfection, they have been around 62 years that is why. I have never been one of those people that has McDonalds on a regular basis, but I use it is a place for a treat. When me and my brother were kids, we got McDonalds on a special occasion invariably we would go the day before going on our summer holidays. Flat out some of the best times of my life, there was nothing nicer than dipping chips in to my milkshake. McDonalds is and forever will be good memories with my family.

In conclusion picking a restaurant with me means there is a good chance we will be having a Big Mac for dinner.

Will
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

IVF & Our Story Part 4 - The long goodbye


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

Robert Frost


That title for some reason makes me think of the Paul Brady song, I am not a fan but for some reason that song is stuck in my head this evening. I promised last week I would finish up with this post, I want to tie up some loose ends about the whole fertility thing, between then and now, perception and next steps. I could spend weeks thanking people for their kindness and advice since I started writing about our story. I could have never have dreamed i'd get such a response. It is one of those things that is not spoken about enough, from my perspective a male one or even to a high degree on the female side. There is a stigma out there that it should be something to be ashamed of, well I tell you there is not one bone in my body after these past few weeks that would make me feel ashamed of our story or my blogs. 

I have no reason to be and that's because of you, everyone I have spoken to on Facebook, this blog, in person or on email, there are so many people going through this, been through this or know somebody who has gone through it. There is absolutely nothing to be scared of whatsoever letting people know this is part of your life.  I remember when we first started doing IVF hearing stories that I should be careful who I tell, you never know how they might take it. One person even said to me that they were wary telling family, especially if they were religious they might take exception to interfering with what god had intended stuff. I couldn't believe that someone could be like that or so insensitive. I remember telling my own mum, she is quite religious and goes to church everyday, she couldn't be happier about the whole thing that we were trying our best to make a family, and if this was the road we had to go then fair play. She prayed like there was no tomorrow these past 2.5 years to get some sort of breakthrough and she supported us every step of the way. In fact thus far I have yet to speak with one negative person in regards to undertaking IVF.

I also find it hard when people tell me they are pregnant, as I don't know what to do. Not for the reason that they are pregnant on the contrary I am elated for them, although I end up feeling really bad for them especially if they knew we were doing IVF. On a couple of occasions now people be they friends or family have told me they are pregnant. One such instance is when a very good friend of mine told me she was pregnant got quite upset telling me, as if she was giving me bad news. It was around the time of our first failure in Ireland so I did get where she was coming from and I hate that she had to feel like that. People are awesome and don't want to upset your feelings. I was absolutely delighted she was expecting, what me and Joanne are going through I think is different if you get me. I think at the start of the IVF if I heard someone was pregnant I would immediately think "Shitballs wish that was us", but now we have been through it or I guess to some extent still going through I never think like that anymore. I see us as being on this train, only we have not arrived at the station yet, we might get to our destination eventually just it's gonna take a little more time with a dearer ticket.

The reason I say a dearer ticket, IVF flat out is dear, it is beyond dear. I have no idea how so many people go through more than 3 or 4 rounds. I think now the dust has settled we have spent at least mid 20s on treatment. The thing is though you would try absolutely anything to get that little boy or girl, I am though nearly glad in a way the last clinic said it might not be possible or that embryos would not be feasible. That statement is two fold, the PGS allowed us see in to the future if you will, what it allows you do is see if your embryos are viable. The PGS saved us further heartbreak and pain I believe, especially as they said all 4 would most likely result in a miscarriage. We also know now having done the PGS that maybe it is not possible to have our own kids and had we not known that we could have ploughed more money in to something that may never come to fruition.  



When we finished up at the clinic they said we had the option of donor eggs. Basically with donor eggs, they take an egg from a specified donor that is matched as closely possible to your appearance and try the exact same IVF process all over again. The upside is though the eggs are of high quality which increases your chances. The problem is however it comes with some baggage, firstly there is the mental aspect of it all. Mental in the sense of coming to terms with the process of matching my sperm with a donor. I think we both would have a good level of interest in it, but we would also be apprehensive about it, tell us stories please if you have done it. So many people in recent weeks that I have spoken to suggest counselling as a great outlet for getting to grips with what you would be partaking in. It is not as simple as Phoebe and Frank her brother in Friends. The other aspect of donor programmes is the money, it like IVF costs an arm and a leg, that again could ultimately leave you without an arm and a leg at the end. Programmes in our clinic in Spain range from 6k - 12k. You also have the dread or the real fear that it may go wrong and there would be no success, I guess though if we went that route we would have tried every option. People have suggested other clinics, in the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece but I think if we did do it we may look at our clinic in Spain as we loved them. It is hard to think how we could love a bunch of people like that when the end result was failure. What can I say we trusted them and still do.

Adoption, adoption and more adoption. I have heard this so often but the long and the short is in this country it is not possible. The process is crazy long, and costs a fortune. I think we would be open to adoption but it is just a non runner. Sure we could adopt from a country abroad but again a lot of money is needed and time. Right now I think me and Joanne are in assessment mode, where and what do we do next. Luckily for us we have a busy year ahead, we have a couple of weddings and most importantly are summer holiday booked. Unless something happens naturally, which would be typical, this year we have taken off from fertility. We are though going to gather up all our options, and see where we stand in early 2018. We feel its the best thing to do, we are going to get our heads back on track and hopefully come out the other side with some more clarity. We are open in the interim to ideas, herbs ( the Chinese kind ), vitamin supplements and other suggestions to some how achieve what modern fertility treatment didn't. That in itself would be amazing. 

See it really is like the long goodbye isn't it, I just can't let it go. I want to finish off by saying if you do know someone that would benefit from these blogs tell them about it. If you or your husband /wife need to chat to some big eejit from Limerick about IVF send me an email i'd be glad to chat. These past 4 posts have been my therapy, my counselling, that sick knot in my stomach I had for weeks after Christmas is gone because I have spilt my thoughts on to this blog. 

My emails:


Thanks for the help everyone you have been awesome therapists,

Will

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sporki Macaroni - Croatian Dirty Pasta



You know it is rare I make something myself and think Jesus that was so damn good. I am not a big fan of my own cooking, I don't why but I am never able to appreciate the food I make myself. This past weekend though stumbling through Rick Stein's Venice to Istanbul book I came across this absolutely class recipe for something called Sporki. It was a match made in heaven, the sauce is like some sort of casserole stew coupled with pasta. Sporki roughly translates as "Dirty" in Croatian, damn those Croatians know good food if it is all like this. The recipe is below, I highly recommend Rick Steins Venice to Istanbul book, in fact all his books, they are generally chock full with great interesting recipes. 


Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

15ml Olive oil
200g Lean beef, cut in to small enough cubes ( I used beef medallions )
3 Red onions, roughly chopped
3 Carrots, sliced
1 Bay leaf
Salt & Pepper
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 Tbsp tomato puree
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
150ml Chicken stock ( I used a simple ol Oxo cube)
150ml Decent red wine ( I used a Ripassa, as I was drinking that Saturday night)
400g Penne


Method 

  1. Heat a large pot and add half the olive oil. Cook the meat on a medium heat until all browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Turn up the heat to medium high, sweat the onions and carrots for 5 mins.
  3. Add in the bay leaf, salt ( a good seasoning here , maybe 1.5 teaspoons), and pepper, stir.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree, chilli flakes, and garlic, and fry for 3 minutes. Add in the chicken stock, browned meat and red wine. Simmer with the lid on for 50 mins, the beef should be tender, but that depends on the meat you bought, mine still had a slight give as it was a roast beef cut of medallion.
  5. 15 minutes before the end of the beef's cooking time, boil the pasta in salted water (always add loads of salt, pasta always tastes better in good salted water). Cook the pasta for about 8-9 minutes just as it is turning "al dente". Drain and add to the meat sauce, stir well and cook on low for 10 minutes. This gives the pasta time to soak up the meat sauce. 
  6. Serve!

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Will