Holiday; Gardening; Cooking

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

Bit of a relapse on the regular posting front and everything that goes with it – I blame the holidays! Actually, let me be truly honest – we had a short break with MiL in Cambridgeshire followed by a zoo visit and then our week in Scotland. By the time that was over, days were drawing in and I am preparing to enter hibernation mode!

Honestly had a fun time on our short break doing a bit of a make-over on MiL’s front garden. Small  pebbled area to which we added a raised bank planted with Lavenders and some small alpines; some ornamental grasses, a heather and a huechera; a willow trellis with a fledgling euonymus which we hope will grow to full potential of its new support and topped off with 7 beautiful green slate rocks.
The car can now find its own way from her road to the garden centre having gone there and back 4 times over 2 days. We ate, talked, laughed and played games, and topped the visit off with a great evening with SiL and her family.
An absolutely yummy, healthy dinner of lamb casserole and salad – for which I really must beg the recipe!

Day visit to the Zoo with Sis and her grandson involved lots of walking, giggles over our inability to spot an orangutan/jaguar/lion/rhino and delight in watching the antics of the chimps and seeing the spectacled bears!
I’m all for providing a natural habitat for the animals, but when it means it is so natural they can hide … rather defeats the object, in my humble opinion.

And so, to Scotland.
A week in a lovely little cottage in the beautiful fishing village of Crail, in the East Neuk of Fife. Bliss because there is no EE phone coverage – so no internet, no texts, no phone calls. A proper rest.
A trifle worrying that having crossed the Firth of Forth we then watched a programme on the building of the bridge and how, after 50 years, it can’t actually cope with the number of vehicles using it and is deteriorating!
I have to tell you, my delightful husband regaled me with sad tales of our demise as it would be reported when the bridge collapses under us on the way home!! Obviously we made it safely… or is this a ghostly posting?! *mwahahahaha*

The villages along that coastline each have a little harbour, quaint main street and old cottages that have stood the test of time (or been lovingly restored).
Anstruther boasts one of the best fish restaurants ever frequented by either of us, The Waterfront. With humungous portions of carefully prepared fresh ingredients at reasonable prices, it is no wonder it was packed on both visits. We made the mistake the first time of ordering starters and mains .. and struggled. Pete’s mussels were enough to feed a family!
On our second visit we agreed just a main would suffice – seafood linguine – absolutely scrumptious.

Crail Harbour

Crail Harbour from the Harbour Beach

Just 5 minutes walk from the cottage took us to the harbour – and to the lobster lady. A small cottage on the harbourside opened a lean-to from midday till 4pm daily to supply fresh cooked lobster or dressed crab.
I’ve not had lobster before but have to say it was gorgeous, and at just £11 a real treat.
I decided to get a bit adventurous and try to make a lobster bisque – wasn’t going to be enough for a soup, but, reduced down with extra cream the next day it made the most wonderful sauce for our fresh salmon fillets purchased from the green grocers (I know, I know.. but strangely none of the fishing villages actually has a fish shop, except for a chippy).  We’d also had dressed crab from the grocers.
We did ask a local in Pittenweem where the fish could be purchased. He advised coming down to the market the next day, which we did. Only to be told the market only sells to the wholesalers and in fact, the majority of the catch is sold online before the boats actually dock.
Another local in Anstruther advised we follow the main road toward Elie where, shortly after St Monans, we’d find the fisheries on the industrial estate.  Perfect! While I turned the car round, Pete negotiated with one of the Wholesalers for some lovely fresh smoked haddock.

As well as the lovely fresh seafood we were able to purchase in the village, we had home-made chipolata sausages and proper back bacon from the butcher; free range eggs that really were, with almost dark orange yolks mmm; quails eggs, meringues and more sausages from the Ardross Farm Shop at Elie, and, on the evening that Pete was cooking himself fresh lambs kidneys from the butcher, I treated myself to one of Mrs P’s totally scrumptious homemade quiches from a little deli-café in Anstruther.

The week was so relaxing – quiet early morning walk to the harbour; little foray out to one of the other villages or St Andrews; freshly prepared meals with the lovely ingredients we’d obtained that day; games of trivial pursuit – a close fought contest which I believe was an overall draw (but Pete believes he won); an unfinished attempt at a jigsaw of Crail Harbour – which had too many bits of similar colours!

When we got back to Cheshire, not only had our garden survived our absence, but it had outshone itself in beautiful blooms and growing ability.
The side garden was (and still is) a mass of Cosmos in shades of white, pastel pink, bright pink, dark pink, shocking pink… Zinnias in pinks, purples and yellows… annual rudbekias from yellowy orange through rust to chocolate brown… lobelia that has grown from spindly little seedling clumps to big puffy cushions of white, blue, navy and purple. The fuchsia my Sis nurtured from a little plug plant for us last year in honour of “Our Wedding Day” has survived the winter and is a mass of bulging blooms.

But the highlight of the whole thing is the Morning Glories Pete sowed around the lamppost that stands on the edge of the garden. This is now covered in heart-shaped green leaves and greets us each morning with 20-30 blooms.
To our delight, we discovered the other morning that amongst the dark bluey-purple blooms, we’ve also got some palest blue ones. Not sure if they are on one particular plant, or just a rogue blossom that occurs every now and then.

Cosmos and Morning Glory

Cosmos and Morning Glory

The plants haven’t all wound their way around the post, there are some that have sent out tendrils that intertwine amongst the Cosmos, creating a quite stunning display.

All of the flowers on the lower side garden, with the exception of some French marigolds, Pete has grown from seed and they are amazing!
Cosmos, Zinnias, Rudbekia, Verbena, Pinks, Lobelia, Cupids Dart, Morning Glory, all flowering, all thriving… and considering he knew little about growing plants, he has looked after his “babies” so well and created a magnificent show where once there was weeds, couch grass and saplings.

And so to Cooking – something I always did, after a fashion, but that has taken a new turn in so far as trying new things; sampling new tastes; braving previously not very sure of flavours/ingredients.

This week I have:-

– made a mock paella which included chicken, chorizo, prawns, mussel meat and calamari rings
– cooked up mincemeat with peppers, carrots, onions and mushrooms – and made mini pasties (true, with ready-rolled pastry, but hand crimped!)
– made mille feuille using up puff pastry and with chantilly cream and berry compote
– cooked moules dijonnaise – mussels in a cream, shallot, garlic, white wine and dijon mustard sauce. (Very excited because the fresh mussels Pete bought from Booths were from Shetland, so the same as he’d had at The Waterfront). There were so many mussels we had them for lunch, and those left I have cooked, de-shelled and put in the fridge to go with salmon, smoked salmon and spaghetti for our own version of Seafood Linguine tomorrow night!!

As the days draw in – it’s now dark in the morning when I get up – and Autumn fast approaches, I have lost a bit of impetus on the exercise front.
So fired up before we went away, it is now too dark to cycle first thing unless I get the lights set up on the bike, and by the time we are home, heading towards dusk.
On the plus side, I haven’t GAINED weight whilst away and am trying to keep a healthy outlook on what I eat (I know it doesn’t sound like it from the list up there, but really, it is).
I have booked to attend the TOGs Convention 2015 and will be seeing friends I have had little physical contact with in 4 years. I so do not want to be the little blimp they are used to seeing.  So, being realistic, I have 10 months to make a really good change to my lifestyle and ultimately my body. I freely admit that the Autumn/Winter will be a case of slow changes but hope that this means come the Spring I will be better able to really attack the bigger changes needed. 49 weeks @ 2lb a week = 98lbs = 6 stone plus – sounds good, eh?

 

Good Start – Devastation!

My Motto of the Month

My Motto of the Month

So.. just to update you…

I started off with ALL good intentions – found a fantabulous freebie app for logging food intake / exercise expenditure. There is more scope on the website than the phone app and the two work quite nicely alongside each other.  Eeeky measurements in (not my finest hour!) and we were off! … oh, www.myfitnesspal.com which along with www.mapmyfitness.com for getting a more accurate guide to calories expended works really nicely.

I’m all fired up and ready to pedal off into the sunset… well, ok.. round the block, and what happens? Hurricane bloomin’-Bertha! That ruled out Sunday. Still, I didn’t let that daunt me, oh no… I went out Monday. Bike went like a dream – only a short block ride, but a worthy 1.2 miles – will try again tomorrow.
Tuesday – get me.. did a longer ride in the morning – this saddle is brill… hurts a bit while getting used to sitting on bones I didn’t know were there, but SO much better than the old “cut-you-in-half-as-soon-as-you-sit” one.
Evening.. went out again – got, ooh, 150-170 mtrs from home when BAM!!
My head felt like it was going to explode!
Pain radiated up from eyebrow to top of head and behind eye.  I sat on the bike, foot resting on the kerb (obviously, or I’d fall over!) and literally held my head in my hands. It felt that if I let go, the top would shoot off like some volcanic cartoon.
Deciding this was just down to the wind in my eye, I valiantly set off again managing a few more strides before having to again stop and hold everything in place.  This time when I started out I did somehow get all the way round and back home.  Once there, I took co-codamol and lay down for an hour to let the throbbing subside.

Wednesday was wet and windy and I didn’t get out – besides, I figured I’d do better for a rest.
Thursday dawned albeit a bit dark – had almost decided to walk rather than ride, but by the time I got downstairs the sun had broken through and I gleefully got my bike out. Felt fine cycling out of the close – got almost to the zebra crossing and BAM!! My head felt like it was going to explode!
This time I couldn’t go on; I turned and limped home.

I wouldn’t call myself a hypochondriac (altho’ Pete would say otherwise) but I really don’t make a good “ill” person. I had, of course, convinced myself by now that it was a tumour and life was about to end … “I’m too young, there’s still things I want to do!”
Calming down – hubby is quite good for that, and has been wonderfully supportive – we went off to work with him advising I should phone the doctor and see what it is.  Got through first time (nearly fainted) and was advised I’d get a triage call later.  Result of that was that I was advised to go and see them later that day, just to be sure. It might be high blood-pressure, best to check.

There’s something a bit mean about giving someone  an upstairs appointment when you think their blood-pressure is dodgy, don’t you think?
Anyway, high-end of normal was what she said it was. “It’s where I’d usually advise you to get some exercise ….”
A good look inside my head (well, in my eyes and ears) was ok… and prodpoorly headding my head didn’t hurt, nor did dipping my head down, up, or side to side.
Diagnosis? Apparently I have been experiencing exercise-induced migraines.  I have to say to anyone who has suffered from migraines and not had the understanding of how totally, utterly, bl$$dy awful they are, you now have my heartfelt sympathies!

The treatment, for the time-being, is to avoid the bike!! NEVER have I thought I’d ever be so devastated to be told I couldn’t do exercise!

Well, let’s be honest here, I haven’t been told no exercise.. just to stay off the bike for  a while.  In fact, Doc was quite insistent that I don’t let this stop me from my good intentions; just that I give myself a chance to settle in to the new regime before trying that again.  Having read up on it, a change of eating habits combined with an increase in exercise can result in this icky problem.

So, instead of riding I have been walking.  I am still eating sensibly … altho’ not denying myself anything.  I find writing it down really helps – seeing exactly what I’m eating and what “extras” I can have from exercising. On one site I looked at (NHS Health) it says I can have app 1800 calories a day.  On My Fitness Pal it says app 1200 – but then “gives you some back” for exercise expenditure. I’m aiming somewhere between the two, which I think is pretty healthy / balanced.

I’ve cut out the daily cooked breakfast for instant porridge and fruit reserving the eggs and bacon for weekend treats.
The result is a reasonable loss on the scales for the first week and a half.

Yippee!

I’m a bit scared of getting back on the bike.  I want to… but that pain is so, so horrid… might try tomorrow – or Saturday.
Meantime, it’s striding out in the morning.

A Bit of a Shock… or rather more of a revelation.

soul baringSo… here we go. A bit of soul-baring.

Nearly a year ago two marvellous things happened.

  1. I got married
  2. The day before that I discovered, to my joy, I had managed to lose nearly 2 stone across the year and was at my lowest weight for some time.

Now, this had been achieved with a mix of: –

  • gym membership – altho’ attendance had dwindled in the previous 6 weeks or so and was later cancelled
  • cycling sometimes twice a day – altho’ again, this had eased off
  • gardening – can’t beat a bit of digging and weeding to boost the retoned back.

And because of the above, I was getting away with still eating healthy portions of somewhat unhealthy food choices. My fiancé had a BIG appetite and it was (and still is) all too easy to just think I can do the same.

I hasten to add at this point, altho’ I was lighter than I had been for ages, I was still obese.

The year has had its ups and downs, with some very low points, and I’ve sort of just carried on like nothing was any different. Enjoying cooking, eating, over-indulging – but without anywhere near the same levels of activity as previously.
Oh, and as is quite common amongst foodaholics, getting miserable about nothing fitting me/being so uncomfortable and dumpy, but doing precious little to resolve things.

So… what happened to prompt this outpourring now?
Well.. I got on the scales 3 – 4 weeks back and discovered, not unsurprisingly, I’ve put back on 2 stone since I got married. This prompted me to look into getting my bike serviced and a comfortable saddle installed so I would get back to using it. Prompted, but still didn’t make me act until the end of July, a couple of weeks after I’d first mooted the idea.

Actually – and note this, it explains a lot of things – it was the end of June, which is, of course, 5 – 6 weeks ago. See how quickly time escapes?

Anyway, the bike went in this Friday, picked up this morning. Beautifully serviced, cleaned and spruced up by the guys at www.bikes-n-gear.com, and now sporting a comfy saddle which has been adjusted to the correct height for cycling instead of where I’d set it, at the correct height for junctions!

I cycled down yesterday morning, just over a mile, totally knackered! Sweating, red-faced, barely able to speak when I got to the shop on jelly-legs. Left for the walk back home – I could hardly put one foot in front of the other for the first half mile and didn’t get a whole lot faster after that.
On the walk into work an hour later (half a mile) I was still wobbly and short of breath. Bit of a worry? Indeedy!

Walked down again this morning, slightly springier in step – mostly ‘coz it’s downhill – still hot and puffy by the time I got there.
Managed to try and pass off the difficulty in getting on the bike to set saddle height as being short and wearing jeans – what a pile of doodah! It is totally due to being unable to lift my leg over the bar because so out of condition and FAT!
Anyway, walked the bike round the corner so they wouldn’t have to witness that again – and set off to ride home. Wahey! Amazing how much easier it is to ride when the saddle isn’t cutting you in half and your knees aren’t up under your chin.
Did have to walk it up the hill on Middle Walk, but honestly, so would anyone else if they’d not been riding for a while. Sailed home (well, you know what I mean) with the wind in my hair and the firm resolve that this was fun… and would be a regular thing.

Will it be?
YES! It has to – no options now.
I stood on the scales, quietly, on my return… To my absolute horror I have gained another 4 lbs and am now at the HEAVIEST I have ever been… and I swear, I will not go over the next number. It is too, too horrific to contemplate.

Is it any wonder nothing fits?
Is it any wonder I found walking/cylcing difficult?
And, just so my lovely husband understands, I realised today why I have for the last few weeks been very “sighy” when preparing meals / washing up.. it is uncomfortable to stand at the worktop for too long. My body aches which then causes the loud sighs.
Also – four weeks ago I got angry with the front lawn – which isn’t, it’s cooch grass, thistles, plantains and dandelions, all of which grow at a rate of knots, all of which provide a haven for families of slugs, *shudders*, – and I vowed I was, at that moment, going to dig the whole bloody thing up!
Well, I started – got 2 trenches dug across the lawn from the front door …. and gave up. I was blistered, weary and (I now realise) in no fit state to bend over and sort out the clumps of turf … let alone kneel down to it.
My legs are so … inflated … I cannot kneel down comfortably – how very shameful to have to admit that?!

So – this is it – my soul-baring is for my benefit, because in writing this down, it is helping me realise I need to do something NOW.
NOW, before I put too much strain on my heart.
NOW, before my knees / hips / ankles finally give in and decide they will no longer support this extra person they are being asked to carry.
NOW, so that I can actually enjoy life as I was only a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I wasn’t fit/healthy then, not really – even then I was clinically obese – but MORBIDLY obese, when you actually examine the words – MORBID.. that means affected by disease or an unhealthy mental state or attitude.
EEEEEEK! Have just worked through a BMI calculator – cannot admit to what it is… altho’ have made a note for myself … just too scary for words.

Surprisingly – despite being wrong side of 50, overweight, genetically predisposed to it, I am NOT suffering with diabetes – in fact have a very healthy blood-sugar level of just 4.6. I suppose something had to be working with me!

It's a start

Slowly but surely!

My dear-departed Dad struggled with his weight – he would always lecture me about mine, and if I queried the pot-kettle-blackness of his statement he would reply – “I’ve had my life, yours is ahead of you!”.
Well, bit late for you to know, Dad, but I’m finally listening… xxx

Time flies…

It has been a while since I’ve been here… in part due to time escaping me; in part due to not being able to log onto wordpress at home – don’t know why it’s let me in now, but let’s not complain, eh?!

Sooo much has happened – we’ve developed our garden… and we’re really rather pleased with it! Mind, grass needs cutting; borders weeding; veggies onplanted.. but the weather let us down today.

We have a beautiful rockery originally started with 3 humungous chunks of rock gleaned from a neighbour and planted up – then extended in our “remodelling” at the end of August.
A trip to the beautiful Isle of Bute provided a much needed break, walks, quiet coves and magical scenery… along with the opportunity to collect some lovely stones.  Individual coves each providing their own speciality.
Scalpsie Bay – quartz; Ettrick Bay – granitey grey stones and slate; Kilchattan Bay – red stones and sea-washed tiles; more slate from right outside our door (well across the road on the shoreline) just along from Rothesay.

These stones have all been utilised in creating our garden – providing contrast and memories in one. The front border planted with salvia, marigolds, a geranium and dwarf chrysanthemums and edged in quartz; corner border edged in red stones and tiles and holding small white violas surrounding a shocking pink Sedum Spurium (think it might be Fireglow); rockery extended with some beautiful granites that sparkle in the sunlight so now home to lemon thyme, saxifrage, campanula, dianthus,various sedums,  and, in the back garden, a slate “bank” created to house heathers and cyclamen underneath our “feng-shui tree”.

We have lettuces, carrots, baby leeks growing in the back – alongside our now well utilised herb garden. From there we gather fresh herbs as and when required to flavour soups, stews, eggs, roasts. Sage (from my Dad’s garden), Oregano, Tarragon, Chives, Mint courtesy of my dear Friend, Bobs and Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley and Marjoram purchased locally.
I have been

What a day!

Hellooo! There I was, snuggled deep under the duvet having a dream about something or other, vaguely aware that Richard Madeley was burbling away on the radio which meant it was gone 6.30am.  I wasn’t sure quite how far gone  and part of me didn’t want to acknowledge it as I would then have to “show a leg” as dear old Bunty used to say.

When my bladder finally reminded me that I was now conscious and therefore needed to contemplate heading to the bathroom, I rotated my ankles to get them working and shuffled across the landing.  On my return to the cozy delights of the duvet I ventured a look at the clock. Yippee! only 7.10am – not as late as I thought which meant I could indulge in a little more snuggletime and a few pages of  “Chloe” (fab novel by Freya North).

Now, I know what you’re thinking – I’m procrastinating again – trying to avoid the exercise stint I had said I was going to do. Well, you’re wrong, so ner-ner-na-ner-ner!

I was up, dressed in t-shirt, baggy pants and trainers with video in the player and step set up in front of the screen (allowing ample space for leaping about a bit should the need arise), bottle of water on the table within easy reach for rehydration purposes before 8.30am.

So, here we go – *press play* – the woman is a teeny tad annoying (American) but gives clear instructions including “if you’re a beginner, stop after the warm up and beginners’ session and fast-forward your tape to the cool down and toning session”.  The same instruction was given with the aerobics  yesterday – but being me and as I had done the thing before, albeit in the dim and distant past, I decided to ignore it and do the full shebang.  Hmmm – perhaps not this time – “STEP” is far more energetic than the low-impact aerobics of yesterday.

There is something about being 3 inches off the ground for half the time that makes simple moves much more … I was going to say exhausting or tiring but that is not it – they just take way more effort.  Certainly I was sweating and panting much more than yesterday.  Simple moves – really – and yet far more taxing.  I struggled to get to the end of the beginner session…  and will admit to having stopped to just march breathlessly a couple of times where I lost rhythm / balance.
On to the cool down / toning exercises – not so successful either – it would appear I do not have the power in my arms / torso to support my weight in tricep dips, nor the ability (yet) to carry out all the sit-ups / ab crunches.  However, the sense of achievement at having done some of it far outways any feelings of inadequacy – and has only spurred me on to want to do the full session without faltering and then to move on to the intermediate and advanced sessions. My progress will be self-measured by my advancement.

Lowry Centre, Salford Quays

Lowry Centre, Salford Quays (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Torture over for today, freshly showered and breakfasted and I was off to see my lovely Sis for the day.
After a restorative cuppa and quick catch up we were out the door and on our way to The Lowry.  First stop The Vue to take advantage of Orange’s 2-4-1 Wednesday and get our tickets for “The Pirates” – then across the Plaza to The Lowry itself for a delightful perusal of not only LS Lowry’s works but also the V&A touring exhibition –  “The House of Annie Lennox”. I can heartily recommend both – plus the visit to the café downstairs, although I’d suggest avoiding sitting on the slant and try to find a table on a more level plane. (amazing how many buildings at The Quays curve, slope, incline).
Lunch finished we took up a brisk pace to ensure we got in to Screen 7 before the main feature started.  Creeping in in the dark there was no sign of an usher(ette) to light our way so we walked up the centre aisle steps, decided there were no seats together up the way, turned and shuffled slowly back down (no handrail and only dim edge lights to show where the steps were). Unfortunately, despite having traversed those quite successfully, I fell off the edge of the side step and embarrassedly threw myself into the first available seat.  Apparently Sis did exactly the same thing!!

The film was an absolute delight and I look forward to seeing it again very soon as, as with most of Aardman’s films, there is so much to see / take note of, it takes a couple of viewings to get the full effect.

And so to bed, My Lovelies – perchance to dream and get ready for another aerobic session in the morning.

Sleep tight! 🙂

 

One year on!

Goodness, gracious, me!

Doesn’t time fly when you are enjoying yourself?
I will confess there have been times over the last year when I have thought of updating these ramblings; times, indeed, when in the middle of some precarious adventure I have even started writing it in my head. The problem is actually getting it down on the page.

Tempus fugit and all that – but then, as we have previously discovered, I am the QUEEN of procrastination.

Oh, HOW!

So, here we go – a year on and SO much has happened – and, equally, SO much hasn’t!
Suffice to say I am not, yet, the image of health and vitality – I am still decidedly short and round – a point that was brought home to me all too suddenly during one of the precarious adventures mentioned up there.  Luckily I had decided I wouldn’t actually try to climb through the bars of the gate thereby avoiding the “Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s hole” effect.  Mind you, had you but seen me in my endeavours to get over said gate (I should add it was over 8ft high) and you may well have suggested I take the 15 mile return hike up/down the mountain.  Anyway, we made it… somewhat shakily and with a burst of post-success shock/sniffles.

See, some things are achievable if you put your mind to it.
Which brings me rather neatly to today (yes, yes, I know I’ve skipped Summer, Autumn, Christmas and Spring) and my renewed vows to be a shadow of my present self in the – hopefully – not too distant future.
I started in the New Year with an “I’ve started a diary, I’m going to do this” attitude that lasted… oooh about 3 weeks, I think.
I took measurements all round – weighed myself – bmi’d and fat %’d meself – and yet here I am still a lumpy-chunk.

One of the problems is I love food! I love lots of food. However, should I get my act together and increase the exercise quotient of life – then that shouldn’t present TOO much of a hurdle.  I know – I can hear you all shouting “less input, more output” and I know that.  I am figuring, however, that increasing one (output) will get me started and encouraged to reduce the other.

I did try Zumba – good fun if you want to discover how totally unco-ordinated you are… or rather how one-sided your co-ordination is – but my heels/ankles are still taking time to recover from August’s mountaineering so that isn’t perhaps the best option just yet.  I have bought the DVDs so I can bop about at home where no-one can see me which have the added benefit of a Spanish instructor so a quick lingo-lesson as well.

Anyhoo – here’s the thing.  Desperately unhappy with nothing fitting / knees creaking / feeling like a blimp I have been uberly inspired by a friend who blogs here under the title of Gin or Gym – see ginorgym.wordpress.com  She has gone further than me in that she’s signed up to a gym – and all the torture that brings; plus has the motivation to get out and walk regularly.

So, having spent most of yesterday catching up with her postings I was inspired to dig out the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk…… noooo… the CDM purple colour tension band and do some stretches.
Further – I got up this morning, donned sweatpants, sports bra and baggy t-shirt and rifled thru’ the shelf until I found an ancient “Shape Challenge” workout video.  The two victims volunteers on the video each lost between 1 1/2 to 2 stone in 10 weeks. I have calculated this and, if I apply the same enthusiasm, that could mean a significantly good start by 19th June.

  I’d forgotten what bloody hard work it is to

a] move on carpet
b] do some of the moves
c] do squats for 10 minutes! (man my thighs are gonna ache tomorrow – as is my abdomen)

So – the aim is to have a go at the Step video tomorrow – which will be the first time since I bought it in 2000 – and then back to the evil-bitch-bag on the aerobic tape on Thursday.  If I can manage to keep it going, I should at least be able to twist, hand jive and do that sixties style dancing where you sort of squat sideways and pump yer arms up and down between your legs – never could dance to sixties music so it’d be a boon!

Onwards and … err… downwards!

🙂

In the Garden

 I sat in the garden this afternoon enjoying the sunshine, the birdsong, the smell of a bbq in a neighbouring garden.  As I sat there alternating pleasant contemplation with a bit of reading I looked upon this sunshine yellow shrub which never fails to bring a smile to my face. It flowers twice a year – each time for several weeks – so Spring and Autumn are brightened with pom-pom yellow flowers,

I have known this plant all my life!

As a child in South West London, this was growing in our postage stamp garden.
We moved to Midlothian to a brand new house with a much bigger garden which Dad designed from scratch.  In it was a place for this plant – brought to Scotland as a cutting from our garden in London.

When a few years later we headed back south to Berkshire, a cutting came with us. It flourished in the sunny garden there – and again when we moved further south to Hampshire another cutting made the move courtesy of Pickfords (other removal firms are available!).

My sister married in 1980 and moved to Manchester – a cutting travelled north to adorn her garden where it is still growing strong. Ok, taking over she says, but you can’t be cross with it, it’s too happy a plant!

Big bruv married and moved out to set up home with his lovely wife – and a cutting travelled over the hill to Portsmouth.

Kid bruv married and he has (or had) the plant in his garden – altho’ I’m not sure if that was a cutting or just inherited.

Finally, I asked Dad if I could have some sunshine, too. He pulled a sprig from his plant and stuck it in an old ice-cream tub with some compost and handed it to me.
I’m a bit of a reluctant gardener – love the idea of a lush display and make plans for what I could have but lack the motivation to do it.
So it took me a year and a half or so before I planted it – surprisingly it had survived.

Look at it now! From one tiny twig with 7 leaves on it, it has grown to this incredible display.
I can see it from the kitchen window while I’m making a cuppa; washing up; cooking.
I can sit in the garden and admire the sunny yellow flowers.

And along with its brightness, I can reminisce – because that shrub, my Kerria Japonica, has been with me ALL my life.

🙂

Mi Media Naranja

I learned today of a wonderful phrase used in Spanish to describe your “other half”.
Partner, soul-mate, sweetheart – call them what you will, the literal translation from Spanish to English is “My Half Orange”.

Isn’t that just lovely?
Doesn’t it totally convey the idea that together, the two become one whole?

Also, being of a slightly barmy (light-hearted) nature, I quite like the idea that it’s round like me! On the more pensive side, that it has many segments combining to make up the full character.

It won’t surprise you to know, dear reader (I know there is at least one of you out there!!), that there are a whole host of books, websites, blogs, Facebook pages out there dedicated to finding this delectable fruit. Telling you how to go about meeting them: how to behave; react; search for them.
Forget it! Not worth the trouble.

Want to know why?
Because if and when your half orange comes along – it’ll just happen.
Fate is the one who determines this – not some author, blogger, web-guru.  Just good old-fashioned fate. Nature, in fact. Even better, eh?

Just remember, though – if and when you find them – don’t squeeze all the juice out!

🙂

Mi Media Naranja – I really like that phrase!

Spring is Sprung!

Winter slowly ebbs away – we know this as first the snowdrops then the crocuses, catkins, pussy willow, hyacinths all appear. With a burst of sunshine yellow in come the Forsythia, jasmine and daffodils – a certain sign of Spring.

Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers – in so many hues of yellow; from creamy buttermilk with a pastel lemon trumpet to the bright traditional all-yellow flower we hold so dear, to the beautiful narcissus with its pale outerpetals and dazzling orange centre.
The next steps will be the creamy magnolia flowers and then the pastel pink of the cherry blossoms. In fact, I have already seen a couple of early blossom trees – and they make such a pretty picture set against a clear blue sky.

I LOVE Spring.

When asked the question “Summer or Winter?” my answer is always Spring and Autumn!

When I waxed lyrical in the office yesterday morning about the hastening of Spring and how lovely it was outside – and how I’d so much rather be walking! – I was met with the doom and gloom comment of “winter’s returning at the weekend!” I, however, have just checked the 7 day forecast and whilst it is set to be a tad cloudy Saturday, if the pundits have got it right it will still be bright and warmish – returning to full sunshine again on Monday! Well, ain’t that typical, eh?

I should win the lottery – firstly coz it’d be the answer to all my woes (well, quite a few of them) and secondly coz then if it WERE a bright, sunshiny day I could just take off for the hills and walk.

Ah well – not this week.

Another sure sign of spring on the way is the bloomin’ racket the birdies make in the morning! I know they’re happy the sun is rising earlier. I know they’re doing their very best to attract and woo their mate. They’re still bloody loud! 🙂

The hedgerows are starting to come back to life, with little green shoots appearing on the ends of their formerly bare branches and the trees are changing from drab brown skeletons to multi-hued signs of life. That’s not strictly true as any observer of the wonders of nature could confirm – even in their winter garb the trees have different shades of brown-ness. The willows a sunny tan, the ash a smoky grey, and the silver birch that ethereal white.

Oh! and… because we’ve had a bit of sunshine – the weeds are growing in abundance – one cheeky dandelion even produced a flower!
The grass has started to grow again (not that I have any, just weeds and moss) and walking from work in the sunshine last week I was treated to the delightful aroma of fresh mown grass where the council had been out and shorn the green outside their offices.

We are very lucky in this fabulous country of ours that there is such a lot of open space – and that we are treated to the joys of flowers in many varied locations. Not just in the gardens, but on roundabouts, grass verges, alongside the hedges on country roads, on motorway bankings – just as Wordsworth put it: –

“Daffodils” (1804)

 I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

Oops! It would appear it is February!

 I know, you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?
 Well, I hadn’t… I just got a bit waylaid.

I was all set to write a piece for Christmas, had even chosen a lovely, sparkly Christmas tree image – only time ran out and before I knew it I was on the beautiful south coast enjoying a cosy Christmas with a special friend.

So, having enjoyed my sojourn down South I returned home in time for New Year and planned to jot something down then… couldn’t decide on the opening image – Father Time, a clock, champagne and fireworks… and soon it was gone.

Ahh.. the New Year and a new start.  I rehearsed in my head various musings – the delights of a new regime of healthy eating and exercise.  I didn’t want to sound preachy, or boringly calorie-obsessed.  I did, however, start parking further away from the office and walking with a bit more effort in each step.  Oh, and I did discover a pretty cool website  www.mapmywalk.com  where you can map out routes, record the distance, time it took, terrain etc. AND I discovered a new taste for salad and good food.

The walk to the office takes in a bridge over the Mancunian Way.  The first day I parked near the steps and took a deep breath prior to following a magpie up them.  He gaily hopped from step to step whilst I held on to both handrails and gingerly climbed.  By the time I reached the top I was all but quaking but I had made it without resorting to clinging tightly to the one rail with both hands in a vice-like grip and taking the steps one at a time.  Having got this far I realised what my legs already had… I was pretty high up!  No sweat! Head held high-ish, I set off across the bridge desperately trying not to notice the rushing traffic below – ha!

Now, I am sooo glad there is no camera atop the steps on the other side (or none that I could see, at least) for I had a bit of a … wobble.
I stood there … and the ground was an awful long way away… with gaps either side that I could see thru’ the railings.  I put my hand on the righthand rail and attempted – three times – to make my right foot reach the first step. Each time it waggled in mid-air and returned to the safety of the bridge.  After the third time I gave in and turned and walked down the slope – the long way.
On the plus side – taking the extra walk adds a quarter-mile to the overall distance – so a bonus, eh?

I don’t know what it is – in the dark I can walk up the steps quite easily – but as soon as I get to the top my legs know they are too far from terra firma and go to jelly!  I have since managed to come down the steps 3 times – but only if

a] there is no-one else attempting to get down them as well
b] I can hold on to the handrails – initially plural but I have progressed to taking a firm grip of just the one
c] I don’t give it too much thought

The next time I thought of putting pudgy little fingers to keyboard was to tell of the extended-family walks.  They have gone out every Sunday for a few months now – posting photos on Facebook of their rambles.  I looked on with interest and, I will confess, a smidgen of envy.  Daft because all I had to do was ask if I could join them and I could (and did).  Better yet – I walk the nearly 2 miles to Big Bruv’s house first.  It was my intention to also walk back but the first week I gave in to the offer of a lift.

The joy of  these outings is the exercise; the camaraderie; the discovery of new places.  I have been in Cheshire for 17 years and still know precious little of the surrounding areas.  Going out with “the family” allows me to find new delights – and judge whether or not I would venture there alone.  Lymm Dam is a definite – and barely 20 minutes away from home (by car).

Just when I was finally ready to catch up with my musings – having composed all night in my head – the hard drive died.  So I am again minus a computer.  (I borrowed a work one for the weekend as I have to knuckle down and put some concerted effort into my Apprenticeship / NVQ  work before Tuesday).

I had planned to tell about my venture into one of those well-known dens of iniquity – the Bookies!
Challenged to place a bet on a set of 4 football matches, having provided what I thought the results would be, meant actually going in to said shop.  The last time I was in one was about 25 years ago – Grand National day – that and Derby day being the only times my Dad placed a bet.  My lasting memory was of thick, cloying smoke that smarted your eyes, and shifty looking blokes in anoraks!

They’re not like that any more.  Bright, clean, well-lit – with pale beech-effect tables and red moulded plastic chairs. I shuffled in silently and attempted to look like I knew what I was doing. *Grins* Yeah, right!
Well, I eventually found the football forms… and squinted at the tiddly writing whilst hopefully putting little black Xs in the necessary boxes to indicate a home win, draw or away win – pretty impressive considering I was expecting to just put win, lose or draw on them.
Clutching my betting form in my hand I approached the glass window protecting the staff from the punters – very reassuring.  Bravely I confessed to not having a clue what I was doing but that I wanted to bet £1.  No problem – and had all my results come in, I’d have been £55 better off.  Alas, whilst Arsenal and Newcastle very kindly drew their game as I predicted, Everton beat Blackpool – inconsiderate wotnots! Still, it was an adventure – and as I was reminded, had better odds of winning than blowing a quid on the lottery! 🙂

No walk last week due to the appalling weather – but instead the joy of the 6 Nations. This week I shall endeavour to do both – I do believe the sun is going to shine – and if England can trounce the Italians all will be right with the world!!

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