Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Jolly old Ireland....not!

A beautiful spring walk the weekend before last. View from Shatton towards Hathersage.

I love it when the grass starts to green up.

Note Minty to my left and an apparently empty lane.

Aaah, not so empty - what will the former wanabee sheep chaser do when faced with one in a confined area??

Well, nothing actually! They stood nose to nose for ages but neither budged or did anything aggressive and then Minty got bored (or scared) and wandered off and the sheep looked very pleased with itself!

Well, excuse the long gap but we've just returned from an unscheduled long weekend in Ireland. We went back for a funeral, the father of D's closest childhood friend and a very close friend of D's parents. I know him reasonably well in that way you do - he's at all the major events, dancing at weddings, singing at parties etc. A real shame to think that he's gone now and so young (just 70) and so suddenly.

It was a monster funeral. I have never experienced anything like it. In the nearly 20 years I've known D, I've not been to an Irish funeral so had only my cliched ideas to fall back on. Well, it was nothing like that! For a start, there was no booze as Billy (who died) and Ita were Pioneers (ie. lifelong non-drinkers who took the pledge and stuck to it). And it was massive - the wake lasted 2 days and during that time I think half the County must have visited the house to pay their respects. A constant stream of people served by endless women with tea, sandwiches and cakes.

My mother-in-law was one of the troops and she said they had prepared 50 loaves of sandwiches and that doesn't count the endless tray of other stuff brought by everyone else.

Then there were the neighbourhood men standing outside in the biting cold and wind directing traffic and helping people to park. Not just for a hour or so but for a day and an evening. Amazing.

And then there was Billy himself. There, in the house, in a bed in the parlour to be exact with crowds of people around him praying and chatting in equal measures. The tradition of the deceased lying out in the house has died out over here for a long time (I think) but it's going strong in Ireland. It was a bit macabre to me but no-one else seemed to find it so so what do I know. Even the grandkids seemed happy enough with it.

And the sheer numbers! There were between 400 and 500 people to the "Removal" service on the Friday night which is when Billy was taken into the church the night before the funeral. And there must have been heading for 1000 at the funeral itself on the Saturday. Only 400 or so could cram into the church so the rest stood outseide in the yard in the cold wind and then crowded round the graveside and then crammed back into the village hall for a catered lunch.

It was truly awesome to be honest.

The service was beautiful with all his family taking part either in making music (they're very gifted that way) or reading or giving a eulogy. He was a prominent and solid sort of guy who owned a local shoe shop and who was into drama, local Gaelic sports and the church (especially volunteering to help pilgrims to Lourdes) so that is probably why so many came. The Lourdes thing also explains the number of priests! I counted over 20! Including the local Cannon and the Bishop.

Anyway, I don't know what point I'm making apart from getting it all down as it was quite an experience.

It made me think about what I leave behind me and what is important to me (not having 20 priest floating around at my funeral I can tell you!). It also made me think about my parents and vow to talk to them more and enjoy the fact that they're still with me even though they're both heading for 80 now.

I'll do a more coherent post later, I promise but, for now, that's all folks!!!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Beep beep beep, this vehicle is reversing....

More pics from the weir at the bottom of the village. Above is the view from the nice garden. Below is some more Millennium statuary on the bridge.
The nice garden again.

I'm a cow and trying to "encourage" Minty to swim. She has no fear of water but won't go out of her depth. So I pushed her in!. She doesn't panic just turns round and sploshes her way to the edge. I'm hoping she'll take to it soon as Shelagh loves swimming.

She's not very happy with me afterwards though!! "Why did you do it Mum??"

Just a quickie to say that I've managed to stop the rot and get rid of the few extra lbs which had adhered themselves to me in my fortnight of madness.

Actually, although the behaviour wasn't good, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been and I have managed to stop it earlier and undo the damage quicker than I would have done in the past, so even the bad times are better. This is probably the way of it now.

So, I'm back at my starting point (again) and I'm determined to actually lose some weight. Exercise is great but it is diet bootcamp which will do it. No treats, no wavering, no bread. Just sucking it up and going through the Beck motions ALL the time.

One of the Beck chapters spoke to me and has proved quite helpful in defeating the urges to snack: it was talking about adopting a "no choice" mentality. When you want to eat something; instead of bargaining with yourself and trying to work it so that you eat something, even if it's not what you want, just acknowledge that dieting sucks; that you want it but you can't have it; that you're doing it for a good reason and then shrug and say "oh well".

She gave a little story about a boy (her son I think) who was on a very strict diet to control his epilepsy and who couldn't eat all sorts of things for years and years during his childhood and who never wavered. When he wanted to, they would just talk it through and then do the shrug and the "oh well" thing and move on.

That has been really helpful for me. The acknowledging that it's not easy but that you're doing it for a reason. The shrug and the life sucks sort of fatalism of the "oh well". It helps me anyway.

Saturday, 21 March 2009


Spring is definitly in the air, the quality of the light has changed and the grass is greener. I've always liked this garden, sitting overlooking the weir and stepping stones and I think it looks lovely with the spring bulbs just peeking through.

Bamford Mill with dogs impatiently awaiting their swim.

A pretty little barn and tractor scene....getting a bit bucolic here...

View of Bamford from the old railway track, definitely spring like.

Proof positive!

Small progress being noted at the scales. Now I need to keep it going over a challenging weekend...aaargh....as an employee of Local Government, I'm now not meant to use a dizzying array of words, one of which is "challenge". Apparently, we use these words as jargon to confuse and obscure our true meaning!! Personally I don't feel that "challenge" is too tricky to understand and have in the past been encouraged to use it as a more positive alternative to "problem" or "concern", but no longer....sigh...

Sorry for the digression but it made us laugh at the office; there were 200 words or phrases on the list and, without some of them, I doubt we could actually DO our jobs!! (Although I think we could all live without "indicators of beaconicity"!!!) It was a clear case of some overpaid PC researcher having too much time and funding on his or her hands and throwing the baby out with the bathwater (am I still allowed to use phrases such as that I wonder??!).

Anyway, back to my "problematic" weekend. (Which it isn't.) I went out to a posh supper with 2 girlfriends last night. I had deliberately eaten as little as possible during the day to save up for the meal and didn't go mad (although Beef Wellington was had which was gorgeous...). I didn't have dessert or milky coffee but did have several gasses of wine. Anyway, it was a good evening after a very long day at work.

We had been in a tough negotiating meeting from 10am 'til 6pm and managed to save a development project which could just as easily have gone tits up as been saved. It really was our last chance to do the deal before the developer walked away (very tricky to keep them on board at the moment) and the funding disappeared. That would have been awful; on a personal level over 2 years of work for the 3 of us down the drain; and, even worse, a truly deprived area of Rotherham would not have had the chance of being redeveloped and the community would have been left with its monstrous, crumbling 1960's shopping centre and crime magnet still clogging up the high street and dragging the whole place down.

So, it was a good day's work but I could have done without the plate of cakes left over from the sandwich lunch (at which I was very restrained) sitting on the table and distracting me almost all the way through!!

Today, a packed programme of: chores; dog walking; train into Sheffield for the football; race into town from Hillsborough after the game and watch the rugby in a pub with some Valley mates then taxi home at some point. Looking forward to it. I will definitely be drinking but will try to avoid the beer calories and will not go mad on the foodstuffs....NO kebabs will be had!!!

Tomorrow, more temptation in the form of a Mothers' day lunch out but that should be okay. have a good one everyone!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Grinding on

Me in front of an uprooted tree stump. Going round it caused a fair scramble on a steep leafstrewn hillside...we were lucky not to end up in the stream below!

Nadine and Ange in an old Oak wood (Sessile, hillside oaks of which there are not many left in this area gave this valley it's name - "Derwenna" being the Celtic word for oaks, leading to the Derwent river and Derwent valley. Here endeth the lesson...)

Nadine and Angela and Minty sitting on a pile of old millstones. There are hundreds just lying around this wood which used to be an old quarry. It's weird thinking about the people who used to work there, chipping away, never thinking that all their hard work would just sit there for years and years becoming moss covered and part of the landscape. (Whoops, another lesson, sorree...)

Rock scrambling the wind...

Am I boring Minty do you think??

That's 3, if not 4, good days in a row now and NO positive progress on the scales....grrrumble, moan, whinge...

I'll stick with it but this had better change soon.

Yesterday I was meant to have time to nip out to Boots for my usual low cal Boots lunch of king prawn and noodle salad (232 cals), water and some form of fruit or carrot sticks. But couldn't due to a meeting dragging on and on and on and on (you get the picture). I had about 10 minutes before the next one started and was quite hungry by now and fretting ( I know I shouldn't fret - Beck has proved to me that hunger won't kill me etc, but it was going to be a hard meeting and I could do without a rumbling tum as well). And then my eyes alighted on the emergency pack of LL mushroom soup left over from the last bout of abstinence. It was really nice and just tided me over.

So, having used that one up and got over the "pack fear/revulsion" I might try and introduce the odd pack into my day as a calorie control device. Even one meal replaced by a 125 pack has got to help. To get me over this bump.

I have another couple of things which I am grateful for following on from yesterday's post:
  • My work and work colleagues. I've known for a while how much I enjoy my job. It perfectly suits me (well, there are always aspects you like less than others but on the whole perfectly...). My colleagues are a laugh too and there's little political infighting and much laughing. Soooo much better than any other place I've worked.

  • The ability to learn. I'm loving my french class. I've made another one of those learning steps where you suddnely reach another level and can appreciate that my conversational ability is markedly better than it was even a few months ago. Yesterday my teacher and I managed an unprepared and relatively fluent few minutes chat on the oldest conjoined twins in the world (they had been on a Channel 5 documentary she had watched the night before). You can't plan for needing that sort of vocab!!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The circle of life/diets...

Me, Nadine and Angela on a very breezy day at Millstone Edge.View towards Stanage Edge

Me and Minty at our favourite rocks.

Yes, it was very windy but Nadine had just had her hair done so wouldn't tie it back....girls....

I can feel myself getting back into the swing of it. I have regulated my eating again and started turning down snacks. This morning (after personal training) I actually read my Beck cards and read another chapter of the book. And it sank in.

So, there's hope for me yet. BUT I had to wait until I'd managed to gain a couple of lbs! So, I'm not losing much and when I slip, I gain a little - I think anyone can see that this is not a good combination.

Not much damage done but I MUST actually see the scales go the other way. It is not a case of managing my weight any more it is becoming urgently necessary to lose some.

So, pep talk over. I had better get off to work which is busy busy busy. In other news, the exercise is going well and I've made an effort recently to see friends who I have not seen much of. It's been great and important too to reconnect before busy lives split you apart.

Isabelle of "In this life" fame has posted about what she is grateful for and that has set me thinking. I don't have time for a big post but a snapshot of the top of my list today are my friends; the beauty of nature (especially where I live which I appreciate every single day) and my dogs. What, no husband? I'm grateful for him too...but he's not here at the moment so at this moment in time, those are my primary influences...

It shows in the 2 lovely walks I did over the weekend with 2 different sets of friends and the dogs, combining all 3 aspects and a trip to the cinema with another friend to see "The Young Victoria" on Tuesday which combined good company and a beautiful film; visually stunning, romantic and politically interesting.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Back on the wagon....

Not D, he's on the rig - just one of our mates from the pub - taken with the express intention of sending to D to annoy him!!
I don't like this particular Guinness hat (below) - prefer the model from 2006 which I found in our dressing up case in the garage (above)!!

This is the 2006 one again - much more substantial, less "credit-crunch-y"!

You know the drill: I slacken off on my plan; don't post as frequently; feel bad, maybe even gain a lb or so; do a quick post promising to be more vigilant; and then (touch wood) get back on track and post nearly every day for a few weeks.

Here's hoping eh?

Don't think the damage has been too bad, it's just the irritation factor of not sticking to this thing, again. Grrr...

Anyway, I really am going out very soon so no time to say much apart from....

[Adopt Arnie tone..]

I'll be back....

Oh, and Happy St Patrick's Day! The being married to a Paddy for nearly 15 years has drilled that into me eventually!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Exercise rocks!

When Bobby met Minty!! I was away so didn't witness brother and sister being reunited but apparently it was quite chaotic.

They did sit still for a few seconds...
Bobby hadn't been clipped for a full year so his fur was quite taffled up hence the brutally short haircut he had been given (on his birthday no less!!). I know Minty and Shelagh are ready for a trim but I'm not going to take it that far - he looks like a whippet! It does make Minty look fat though and she's really not...!!
Shelagh shows Bobby a thing or 2 about football - the aim is not (apparently) to play with the ball but rather to manouevre it into a position whereby you can pierce it with your teeth and thus render it useless forever...

I'm accentuating the positive when I say that I'm doing really well at exercise this week!! I am also eating quite well but not doing very well at tracking or recording it. But, hey, if it works, I can get to the tracking later.


  • Monday - wicked Step class at lunchtime. Hard work but not totally knackering. Very smooth and complicated so I spent the whole time concentrating on the routine and not on how tired I was.

  • Tuesday - very busy at work but still managed to force myself out for a short run in the evening.

  • Wednesday - just a walk round town and a dog walk in the evening.

  • Thursday - a killer Body Combat class at lunchtime. It was fab - I feel so buzzed up about it.

  • Friday - I'm playing squash tomorrow with Charlie. It was great last week so I hope I can keep giving him enough of a game to make sure it becomes a regular fixture.

  • Saturday - I have friends coming over and we're going for a proper walk

  • Sunday - don't know yet - gym or run or walk.
That is not half bad.

So, although I'm not doing brilliantly on the writing food down, I'm also not going mad foodwise and I hope I'll drop a lb or so this week. The scales seem to be heading in that direction.

Stick to it everyone - we can conquer this foe!!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A cautious thumbs up

View towards Kinder Scout.

An old stone gate post, now just giving the dogs something to think about. I used to dread those stone "stiles" as I was never sure whether I would get through - obviously even I would have made it through this one!!

Suspicious sheep eyeing Minty ....she was pretty good, I think we've got the urge to chase sheep under control. Just in time too with lambing not far off.
Pretty fungi, about which I know nothing!

I've had a play with the WW online site today and it's definitely better than Spark People. I think the fact that you are set a clear points allowance helps; it is just too easy to exceed your calorie limit whereas points are a bit less "negotiable" shall we say...

I also think the activity tracker is better and like the fact that you can earn extra points by doing exercise. I didn't feel that side of things was very clear with SP. Not knocking SP unduly, it just didn't gel with me.

Anyway, it wasn't a great day points wise but I think that was inevitable on my first day. I know what I'm aiming for tomorrow. It worked in one sense though as I knew I was on the edge points wise so dragged myself out for a short run in the evening. Without that incentive, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gone out as it was quite late. I'm looking forward to the lighter evenings - reckon I'll be a lot happier to get out running then.

I also picked up Beck and actually read the next page this morning!! I've been doing the exercises, reading the cards, menu planning etc but not really pushing forward and not really committing to it over the last fortnight. Well today, I began to get my mojo back. Ironically, the exercise today was about not being too hard on yourself! It was concerned with that feeling one has, when you've gone off plan and think that you may as well have the rest of the day off and start again tomorrow! It pointed out that what you've had might not be as bad as you think and probably won't cause much damage. What will definitely cause damage is going to pot for the rest of the day, eating loads more, weakening your resistance muscle and generally reinforcing failure.

That made a lot of sense to me. I had been knocking myself for offplan eating a while ago (although I do believe I said I wouldn't beat myself up!) and, when I look back at it, what I had really wasn't that bad.

So, I'm getting back on track without really going crazy and gaining weight. That's quite novel for me. Normally I have to do some proper damage before I get back to a regime! Progress?? Baby steps anyway.

Fiddling and flirting

Shelagh waiting for me on the edge of a Roman Road leading down from Hope Brinks to Edale Road near Hope. What were the Romans doing up here?? I know there are lead mines nearby which is why there was a small garrison but honestly, a road, here, in the middle of nowhere - I think they were just showing off to the locals!

View from Win Hill to Edale Valley. Lose Hill on the left and Kinder Scout on the right. Minty paddling below!

Nice wheels man...
I love the concelpt of a jacked up Morris Minor....it didn't have a tax disc but i suspect it was driveable on private land fromthe tyre tracks and the geneal appearance of it....!

Not fiddling or flirting with a man (unfortunately?!) but with a new diet plan. I have found Spark People to be too fiddley and the concept of calorie control is just a bit too wide, not prescriptive enough, for me. As I've said a few times, I'm not gaining weight but I'm hardly losing it either. Beck did anticipate this issue and, in the planning stage, you're meant to nominate a back up plan. Well, one of mine was Weightwatchers Online. I've tried the local class here and it was horrendous. Really busy and I had NO empathy with the class leader, found her rather patronising and the whole atmospere unappealing. But, that doesn't mean that the WW plan is a bad one.

So, I've taken the plunge and signed up for a 2 week free trial with WW Online. I've just spent the last 45 minutes playing with the site. It doesn't look too bad. Like everything, it is fiddley to begin with but I'm sure it will improve. The charts look more user friendly. At least it is telling me my limits which was the basic problem with Spark People for me. I have 22 Points (Omigod - I've fallen into the branding thing already with the capital "P" for "Points!!) per day and can earn more by doing exercise. Lets see how it pans out.

The exercise thing is going well at the moment. I think that, once I admitted to myself that the running was not working for me at the moment, it became a lot easier as I've worked hard at finding other things. I'm not giving up on running just making it a much less frequent part of my exercise plan, maybe once a week rather than 3 or 4 times. I've found a regular squash partner (and hope I'll not be as sore if I play every week), personal training twice a week and the gym, a class, running or swimming twice a week. Add in at least 2 proper dog walks (by which I mean at least an hour in the hills rather than the usual weekday 30 minutes round the block) and that is not too bad!

I've also built in a lot more extra bits and bobs of exercise into my day. I always walk into town at lunchtime, even if I already have a salad. I try and take the stairs (3 flights) twice a day and I walk between meetings more where I might have driven before (unless it's miles away obviously!).
So, all in all, not too bad but I do want to get that first half a stone off sooner rather than later!!!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Living and Learning

Minty rolled in something disgusting - I mean really gross and smelly, way worse than her usual foulness. As a result, I was paranoid about her jumping up on any passing walkers so had to call her to me and hold her collar several times, all the time gagging at the stench. She had a big shower with shampoo and everything when she got home, which served her right!! (You can see what she rolled in in this photo...how gross is that??!)

This was the steeeepest part of our walk - Minty was a bit irritating here - bounding up the hill then sitting down and staring at me as if to say "what's the hold-up Mum??"

Look - it wasn't just me; even the mentalist mountain bikers had to carry their bikes up this particular field!!

We're on the part of Win Hill that overlooks Lose Hill which is the pointy hill in the background of this photo (yes, there really was a battle on the 2 hills, hence the name). It's called Hope Brinks which I think is a great name.

Today has been a pretty good day. I could have done without the incredibly sore and stiff buttocks, back and shoulders from playing squash yesterday but, all in all, a pretty good day.

I slept. And slept some more and really enjoyed my lying in. I needed it. But, even so I was up and about by 9ish and out walking on the hills by 10am. A little later than I wanted to be out but not bad. I chose a 5 mile route which I haven't done before. I've probably walked parts of it before but not that particular route. It was great - really steep to start with, probably a good mile and a half of solid uphill; then level for 2 or 3 miles; and then the final mile was a pleasant downhill.

I really needed that time in the open air, just me and my dogs. I wasn't analysing or thinking much about anything but I was totally, whole heartedly appreciating the countryside and the exercise and the fun of nature, both the scenic side of things and the damn dogs.

There were so many people out and about enjoying the same thing - walking, mountain biking, running, road cycling, parascending, all sorts. It made feel very lucky to live out here.

Food wise, today has been good. I did have a chip butty before the football, but didn't eat all of it and, apart from that, I've eaten very sparingly. I just wanted a day when food was not uppermost in my thinking.
I went to the pub and had a very pleasant couple of hours out with my mates. I ended the evening with Sammy who has been an inveterate smoker for 20 or more years but has recently given up (9 days and counting). We were talking about the cravings and I was passing on the Beck stuff and the wisdom I have gleaned about resisting cravings over however many years that I have had food issues. It made me laugh (somewhat hollowly) when he asked whether it was the same??! It was like he'd never realised that I was going through basically the same things he is going through now when I dieted and then have worked to keep most of the weight off.

This is a man who I have known really well for 15 years. He's known me fat, thinner, very fat, fat, and then all the way through Lighter Life! How can he not know that food is a big issue for me?? But he genuinely didn't until I pointed it out to him in terms that he could understand (ie. in connection with his smoking...). Hey ho....

Friday, 6 March 2009

I'm struggling this evening

It should have been a good day; it started well and I played squash at lunchtime with a colleague which was a killer, really good fun and great exercise. I didn't have lunch though so grabbed a couple of biscuits to tide me over. Then, a sandwich on the way home (which could have been okay) but then food at home was totally off plan....just eating whatever I fancied with no thought for planning, dieting or limiting. Very disappointing behaviour.

I think I'm just very tired and the distance from Beck over the last fortnight has meant that it's easier to use the tiredness as an excuse than to do the exercises and walk away from the food.

Still, I've stopped now and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

I'm going to get a good night's sleep and then get up early tomorrow and go for a good long walk, just me and the dogs. No chores, no rushing around. I just want to see some hills, take some photos and breathe some air.

I'm going to the footie in the afternoon but no pub beforehand as my pal is at the Killers concert in Newcastle tomorrow. Probably just as well.

Part of me wants to go out and socialise tonight as I know that when I start to "cave" at home by myself, it's not a great sign. But part of me want so much just to stay in and go to bed. When D is home, there's no choice at the weekend and I almost always enjoy going out so I don't understand the resistance to it now.

Nope - sometimes,you just have to look after yourself and take to your bed...the decision is made.

I'm so glad I've got this blog and people out there who understand the weird vagaries of this strange dieting word we live in. Cheers chucks, I feel a bit better already.

Thursday, 5 March 2009


I know I've already posted these but Kerri http://colorsofthegarden.blogspot.com asked about our British goldfinches so I thought I'd post another close up to show the difference.

Limboland really is not too bad. I'm happy to know that I can truly live a full and relaxed life and not gain weight. That is a massive weight off my mind. Buuuut (and you knew there was a but coming didn't you?) I don't want to stay at this weight forever and I really need to know that I can also drop weight as and when I need to.

I'm wrestling with other plans and think that I'm going to give it a few more weeks of calorie counting but in the old fashioned way - with a pen and paper. Basically proper healthy life style stuff. I found the Spark People website didn't work for me - too fiddly, too much faffing and I didn't like the tables. Also, I had trouble accessing a lot of the site from work due to the firewall so couldn't read the articles when I have most time (ie at lunchtime).

This approach should also help me with sticking to Beck as it'll kill 2 birds with one stone with the planning and writing down.

I'm truly pleased to have found Beck as I can recognise several changes in my behaviour which seem to have stuck and which have made a massive difference to me but it is a work in progress and some lessons are taking longer than others to learn. Back to the drawing board on those.....