Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Right, I've made a start on the photos. I'm going to show them vaguely chronologically. This was our first day in South Africa. We picked the Landrover up in Johannesberg and then had a 3 hour drive up into the hills where were staying in a lovely little lodge near the Botswanan border. There wasn't much there but I think it made sense not to have too much to do on the first day.

The driving was great - mostly tarred roads but a fair bit of gravel stuff too. It was stunning weather too as you can see.

The lodge was remote and very pretty. A sort of green oasis in the bush which seemed to be very popular with weekending Jo'bergers. Lots of quadbiking, swimming, braai'ing and, unfortunately, hunting. The Afrikaaners love it there - we picked up a mag in the local upermarket called "The Bowhunter" which had a lead article about how to kill a leopard with a bow and arrow - blegh!!

Can you make out what I'm reading Mrs??

The gorgeous African weaver bird on a Camelthorn tree. These were males hurriedly putting the finishing touches to their nests in time for spring!

The first of many glasses of red...

Well, I weighed in and have gained 3 lbs, of which I lost one yesterday so am now 2 klbs heavier than when I left!! Not bad considering I couldn't do any real exercise and had limited food options.

I was careful on holiday but didn't go to extremes in limiting my diet. Hardly any snacking between meals, no biscuits, sweets or crisps etc and trying to be sensible in choices. But, that said, I did drink more than I do at home and eat out more including some desserts and several cooked breakfasts. Although I couldn't exercise a lot, it was a very active holiday so we were on the go a lot so that would have helped.

Anyway, I'm chuffed with a 2 lb gain in the circumstances. I'm straight back into exercise too with personal training yesterday which was a killer. After a 2 1/2 week break I could really feel the loss of fitness and my legs have been aching today. I have missed to boat for a bike ride this evening due to having to work a bit later than normal so am going to use my trampoloine for 20 mins or so (I miss my TV exercise bike!!). It's better than nothing and keeps my nose to the grindstone too.

Mrs L had some questions to which I will try and provide answers: The programme is on Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives HD on Tuesday 6th October and Wednesday 7th October (not sure what time). We've been featured in the last 2 Sky Magazines and we're in this week's Womens' Own. We're also going to be featured in the Style section of this week's Sunday Times. Think I caught a glimpse of a trailer for the show yesterday so that'll be fun. Also, we were in the Daily Mail some time last week but think the article was pretty negative, something about the rise of "fatxploitation" TV....who cares!

Monday, 28 September 2009

We're back!!

Me lying in the middle of a vast salt pan called Ntwetwe Pan in the Makghadikghadi National Park. We had ridden out there on quad bikes (me causing the guide some consternation by insisting that I rode my own - apparently women usually sit on the back - yawn!). After some touring on the fringes of the pan and various other side trips we ended up in the middle of the pan with the guide and a cook who prepared us a lovely campfire meal and then retired a little way off into the vastness and left us to our bedroll under the astonishing African stars. What a day!
I can't believe how green it is over here after 2 1/2 weeks of baking southern Africa.

God, it was FANTASTIC!! I'm in love with the country, the animals, the people and even my (only occasionally infuriating) husband. We had a truly magical holiday. I'd like to say "holiday of a lifetime" but that makes it sound as though that's it and we'll never go back and that is NOT going to happen. We will definitely be back in Botswana and elsewhere in Africa.

Anyway, I have taken gazillions of photos so just picked one of my faves at random for this quick post. I promise I will beaver away and get the rest of them in order soon. Trouble is,when you're out in the bush, things like laptops and batteries are not the highest priorty so uploading, recharging and emptying the camery card was done quickly and without my usual system. We had 3 cameras too so the various files are all over the place and need some serious organising and editing!

Weightwise, I will weigh in tomorrow to what, if any, damage has been done as I have been away from the scales since Friday 11 September and pretty much been unable to do any formal exercise since then either. I'm fairly confident though that, if I have gained, it won't be more than a couple of lbs. My clothes all still feel the same and tummy not bulging or anything. I was quite careful but didn't cramp my holiday style too badly. If anything, the day travelling back was my worst - all those aeroplane meals eaten out of boredom do not help!!
Back to the routine and exercise straight away though - I'm really looking forward to personal training tomorrow and doing some running and biking again....I've actually missed it!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Bye bye

We're packed and ready, just time for a bit of a breakfast and the taxi is picking us up in an hour. Off to sunny Botswana so will probably not be able to update for a couple of weeks although will try if we hit some wifi.

Wish me luck in my quest NOT to gain weight while on holiday - can it be done?

Peridot - have a great time in Turkey and I wish you luck in the same quest!

The rest of you - have a wonderful, warm and sunny September.....

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

More fame....sigh....

I was papped by Beth when she came up to stay. She took loads of pics of me and the dogs and, as Beth and Peridot have a more private blog code than I, you're stuck with me!! I must say, it was nice to have my own private photographer recording my day....

And a reunion too. I went across to Manchester yesterday afternoon for a photoshoot with the other women from the show. It was for a double page spread in , wait for it..................drum roll..................Womens' Own!! I was initially unimpressed by that publication too but now am informed by the Sky publicist that WO has reinvented itself and is at the upper end of the womens' weeklys. So there!

Anyway, it was a proper laugh. I was first to go so had hair and make-up done and then picked dresses. The stylist had brought a selection but I had also brought my 2 wedding outfits just in case. And she chose the black and red one which I wore last weekend! So the bloggers' choice was vindicated. She liked the black and pink but thought it was too black - the brief from WO was for colour. Personally I thought we would have looked like Smarties if we had all worn block colours so a bit of black and a pattern broke it up a bit!

Compared to the shoot for the Sky mag, this was much much better. Then we had been wearing leggings and vest tops and posing with bikes and helmets. There were loads of serious shots of us grimly not smiling. Yesterday it was all smiles and laughter and glasses of champagne and, somewhat strangely, jumping! The story will appear in WO on 29 September so get out there and check me out! I was interviewed over the phone this lunchtime which was amusing. We had a good hour's chat and I surprised even myself by my positivity about the show!!

Anyway, my 15 minutes of fame are kicking in properly now so it's probably a good thing that we're off on holiday or I would have spent the next few weeks getting more and more excited and nervous about it. This way, I'll be too busy trying to spot animals and capture that perfect photo to worry about what my bum will look like on telly!!

Food and weight wise, I have been a bit on the stagnant side. I've lost that 4 maybe 5 lbs since filming ended but no more. I had wanted a bit more of a cushion for my hols but now I realise that that is just old-school thinking. Why do I need a cushion if I'm not going to be over-eating?? I'm concerned that it will be difficult to exercise out there but I can only do my best and, if I'm not doing much in the way of exercise, well, I'll just have to eat and drink less!!

Several of the places we're staying in have swimming pools and maybe even gyms so I can always grab a workout when it's possible. While I won't be able to go running or even walking when we're camping in the middle of game reserves (for obvious reasons) there's no reason I can't do crunches and squats etc if I'm really struggling. Diarmuid has helpfully offered to drive the car alongside me as I run but I can't quite see that happening!!!

I hope it's going to be a holiday of a lifetime and I'm also hoping that I have changed the habit of a lifetime and don't return from it with an extra half stone!!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Great wedding!

Pics from my friend Angela's wedding. It was a beautiful day and very traditional "English Country Wedding" but not in any way staid or snobby. Classic, I think.

St Oswalds in Collingham. V pretty and the lady vicar was hilarious. Cracked everyone up but sincere and good value too. Top notch singing although we were all a bit worried about the slightly happy clappy hymn at the end - when it started and none of us knew it, it could have been a bit weak but Ange's family produced tambourines to surprise her and then everyone just let go and bellowed it out "Shine, Jesus, Shine". Very funny and heart-warming.

Ange and Richard....obviously!

Nice hotel - most of us were staying there so no faffing around with taxis and residents bar - top marks! Lovely lovely grounds and views, weather not wonderful but it didn't rain so can't complain.

I went with dress number 2 and managed to stretch it over my head swollen with all the compliments. Thank you for your views. It was the right choice for both the weather and the venue although nearly very wrong- one of the women on my table who I spent a lot of time with over the day said that she had been dithering between this dress and the one she eventually chose. It could have been one of those really awkward "2 identical dresses in the same wedding" moments....close call. I will in future take my spare dress just in case. I felt fab in it and didn't even mind that I had forgotten my "pull in your tummy" big pants!!

Ange and our friend Nadine who introduced us. Nadine is one of those people who pulls people together and creates new groups of friends so loads of the people at the wedding who I think of as my friends, I now realise I met through her.

I think think they were getting bored of the endless photo-taking!

All the tables were themed around pop groups. Our table (Take That) was the clearly the best. We were robbed of the quiz crown by Snow Patrol but we destroyed them on the dance floor and in the late drinking stakes (they had an average age of 60 plus though so maybe not something to brag about!).

The bride's brother took this - I can't wait to see his proper photos as he did a pretty good job with my point and shoot with a dodgy battery!!

I know it sounds a bit soppy but there's something about a really good wedding to make you appreciate life. As you can see from the photos I was at my friend Angela's wedding yesterday up near Wetherby and it was a lovely lovely day and now I feel (despite a slow burning hangover) really full of the joys of life.

I've never met Angela's husband but he seemed like a decent chap and it was great to see her so happy. She is one of those people who is always vibrant, funny and full of energy and never more so than on her wedding day. The planning and painstaking work she and Rchard must have put into the day was so obvious, every little detail perfect but it didn't feel stilted or stage-managed despite being, well, stage-managed to the nth degree. It felt like she had done it because she really cared about all their friends and family and wanted everyone to have a wonderful time and share in her joy, not to show off or anything like that.

I would NOT have had the patience but the little extras really were amazing. As a flavour - on the tables each person had a small box of 6 chocolates, each one with a different photo of themselves and Angela and Richard on the front! That's 6x120 chocs - all those photos to be copied, cut out, stuck on, boxes assembled and labelled and then placed with your name place on each table. It exhausts me just thinking about it!

The food gorgeous and the dancing brilliant. Ange changed into trainers (still in her wedding dress) and I don't think I saw her off the dance floor. I did not change into trainers and probably danced nearly as much as Ange so consequently my poor feet feel very hard done by this morning. After the dancing came the drinking and chatting and I'm pleased to report that for the 4th wedding in a row I have been the last (wo)man standing - this time at a respectable 4.30am Left chatting with Ike, an architect from London and a 60 year old brazilian barman from Sao Paulo who was just fantastic. I really hope that his stories about Pele were true but, if he was making them up, then he did a great job!!

So, not quite sure what the point of this post is other than to mark what a great weekend Angela and her family gave us. I think it's also that, as I get older and a little more contemplative, I want to make sure that I really notice and appreciate the good things that happen and the lovely people you meet. And there are so many of both out there. It's so easy to get stuck in your normal routine and not see the fantastic characters and whole-hearted fun surrounding us and I wanted to make sure that I did not do that today. A bit gushy but you know what I mean....

Anyway, all this mushy stuff is not going to get my lawns mowed, floors cleaned or dogs walked so I had better get my hangover moving .....!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Feeling wary and treading water

More pics from my walk with Beth and Peridot. In no particular order.

I kid you not, one of these Rottweilers is actually called Satan! Minty loves picking fights with them and I dread to think what would happen if the gates ever opened!!

It's frustrating trying to get a decent pic of a butterfly - always something in the way and they flap those wings you know - usually just as you press the shutter.

Heavenly Peaks...

Photo credit to Beth. It's nice having someone take shots of me for a change!!

My girls smiling and both posing perfectly for a change. "Hurry up Two Legs!!"

"Bless you my daughters..."

I hope you all had a good Bank Holiday weekend and were able to manage your eating and exercise without undue stress and angst. My friend Natalie visited from London so it was another weekend of walking and sight-seeing. It felt eerily relaxed though. I didn't worry about food or exercise and didn't really think about it too much either.

Now, given that I was warned at the end of filming about my sneaky chimp and how she will learn new ways to derail me, being ultra relaxed around food is cause for concern to me. But, then again, I don't want to borrow trouble either and wasn't it the very point of the show that I learn how to be relaxed around food and exercise and maintain my weight without constant battling?? When do I know that it has worked and start trusting myself?? All I know at the moment, is that the worst thing I could do is become complacent.

The answer to the trust question is probably never. I will always have to keep a weather eye out for my chimp and her devious ways but, hopefully, I can do it with a light touch. Today, I'm having a bad day temptation wise and have been constantly questing food. Think my chimp is cheesed off by the endless rain and bad weather which limits time outside playing and is excited by the fact that I'm working from home. But I've managed to limit the damage to an extra bowl of muesli so, so far not too bad!

Objective measurements have got to be the way forward. At the moment I'm trying to drop some lbs but am happy with a very slow rate of loss. Eventually I will hit a level I wish to maintain and will then just need to hover around that level. I've managed to drop 4lbs in the 6 weeks since filming stopped. That is pretty slow but I really don't care. I'm exercising and enjoying life and still losing. That is enough for me.

So, when I got on the scales this morning after my relaxed week and saw the same weight pop up, I was happy, but slightly unnerved. This can't be "it" can it? I feel that it is but don't want to be too confident in case a few lbs of lard suddenly arrive and attach themselves to my ass as punishment for being so presumptuous! But, tentatively, I can see major changes in the way I deal with food and exercise. They main ones are:

  1. Despite the fact that I have had many "excuses" to overeat recently - weddings, guests staying, outings, meals out with friends, stag do, holiday - I haven't taken them all. I have occasionally had a big meal or a drink or an ice-cream but it has been in the context of a generally healthy day and I haven't taken the "holiday" eating to its limit just becuse I have an excuse. I have turned down certain things which I might previously have accepted on the basis of the excuse. For example - over the weekend at an agricultural show with my friend, we had already had a roast pork sandwich and an icecream and later on, Natalie wanted a sausage sandwich too. I got in the queue with her, but when it came to it, just didn't feel hungry enough to justify it or even be interested in it and quite happily turned it down.

  2. I listen to my body more to ascertain whether or not I'm hungry. It's still an imperfect art as I think I've overridden the hunger button so many times It's a bit rusty but it does happen occasionally! Like at the weekend, after Natalie had left and I had been for a bike ride, I still didn't feel hungry so, instead of my planned supper, I had a couple of figs and a banana with some natural yoghurt for my tea.

  3. Food just isn't as much of a big deal to me. I used to have all sorts of pre-conceived notions about how much food I needed to fill me up properly and how important it was for me not to be hungry or this might trigger over-eating. I have found that I'm happier NOT being paranoid about being hungry. That actually I don't need as much food as I think and that a little bit of hunger is no bad thing.

  4. For example, my usual workday lunch used to consist of several components - a sandwich/salad/sushi; fruit; yoghurt and/or bar. I thought that I need it all to stave off hunger and the urge to over-eat. Gradually I have started to eat less at lunch and maybe save the yoghurt for later or the fruit and - taaadaaa - the sky has not fallen in! Sometimes, I just grab a quick, plain sandwich and that'll do. And I find that eating less means I'm less likely to want a biscuit from the tin . Weird. Often the days when I'm too busy to plan and eat sensibly are the days when I feel slimmer and actually see a loss on the scales!

  5. I bargain with myself less often. I used to spend ages negotiating with myself (actually with my chimp) but now I'm more decisive. And it's a lot less stressful. I just say "right, I'm going for a bike ride" and it becomes a non-negotiable, even if it rains or I feel tired and it happens (well, nearly always!)

So, on that note - I'm going for a bike ride now. It's been chucking it down all day so it will probaly not be a nice experience but I'm going anyway! Byee!!

Oh, and thanks for your LOVELY comments about my dresses. So embarrassed in case you think I was fishing for compliments. I'm in danger of not wearing either of the dresses as my head has swollen to such a size I won't be able to fit into them! I'll let you know photographically as usual....