Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Monday, 28 February 2011

Training Walk

Well, we’ve made a decent start on the training now but it has demonstrated how far we have to go. My aching legs and sore feet attest to that! We had a lovely weekend though.

Friday evening we looked at a house to rent (and had a couple of glasses of red wine in the local). It’s pretty good but probably not the one we’d prefer given a free choice. We might have to go for it though as we’re running out of time for the luxury of choices! It’s a spacious 3 bed house which was refurbished to a high standard by the owner….some time ago. So, although it was all very nice a few years ago, the upstairs is definitely rather tired now. All 3 bedrooms would need painting and probably new carpets as well in order to be a pleasant place to be. Having said that, the downstairs is great, lovely big kitchen, wooden floors in living room (great for dogs) and nice conservatory and there’s a heated swimming pool in the back garden which I would like a lot this summer!! I think it’d be interesting to see how many of our friends with children would find reasons to visit en famille once the nice weather comes…

We still have a couple of other irons in the fire but I’m going to have to push the landlords to make a decision on these soon or we risk not having anywhere to live come the end of March!!

Saturday was chores and another house viewing. This place was really nice but probably out of our budget unless the landlord is willing to drop the rent…which they might do, you never know.

An afternoon trip to a Model Railway exhibition (?!). (Rich revealed an interest, which he had hitherto kept very quiet, in model railways! Said it was something he’d always wanted to set up when he has sufficient time and space….hmm….might have to ensure that he doesn’t find sufficient time and space for a while yet!! Let’s just say that the model railway brigade were a tad on the nerdy side and leave it at that…)

Then Tom, the friend who roped us into the Three Peaks Challenge, arrived and we set off into Sheffield by train for a big night out. Not something we do that often but it was really good to be out and about on a Saturday night. Dressed up and drinking, going from pub to pub and ending up in a cheesy nightclub having a dance (not that sort of dancing before you ask – cheesy bopping would be a more accurate description). So a shameful kebab and cab home followed by a spell of racing around the Valley successfully retrieving Tom’s mobile phone which he’d left in the taxi and eventually to bed at 4am!

Possibly not the optimum preparation for a training hike??

We’d decided to up the level of our usual weekend walk from one big hill to 2 so we trekked from Bradwell to Hope and first tackled the steep climb up Win Hill. The weather was extremely changeable and we experienced cold, slicing wind, mist, drizzle, rain, grey skies and sunshine, several times each in rotation. Straight down Win Hill and straight back up Lose Hill. The 2 hills face each other over the valley leading from Hope to Edale and local legend has it that they are named for the winning and losing sides of an ancient Pictish battle.

Lose Hill was hard – just as the ascent was steepest, a driving wind hit us head-on and the terrain was very wet and slippery underfoot so your feet couldn’t get a decent purchase. Still, all good practise. We eventually made it to the top and were rewarded with some lovely sunshine and a stunning rainbow.

Then we slipped and slid our way down the hill into Hope to a pub for a “Sunday Roast”. Tom had been getting excited about his “Sunday Roast” all weekend but I was just fretting about finding a pub which was still serving and would allow us in with the dogs. So, I was very pleased to find that The Old Hall in Hope was accommodating. I was covered in mud from a slip coming down the hill and the others were not much cleaner. The dogs were just balls of mud, excited and desperate to get onto the banquette seating in the pub, and chow down on the roast pork…bit of a nightmare. Eventually we all settled down and could enjoy a roast dinner not cooked by me. I’m not being big-headed when I say that my roast dinner is better but this had the advantage in that it arrived in about 5 minutes flat, I had not had to cook it and someone else would be doing the washing up – bliss!!

I love that feeling once you’ve finished a big walk in rainy weather – all tired and full of fresh air. When a hot shower is the greatest thing in the world. I managed to prise myself from the sofa and go to the pub quiz match in the evening though despite briefly toying with backing out. We had a handy win and I had a nice chat with a friend I haven’t seen for a while who has just had baby. So, all in all, a busy, varied and fun weekend.

As an aside on the baby – she is a week old today but still no name. Is this a record?! A name was announced on Friday (Sissy Florence - eeek) but when I somewhat insincerely congratulated Sammy on this name yesterday he said that both names had been retracted, as has Amber. So she’s currently known as Baby Number 2. (“I am not a Numbeeer!!!”)

Friday, 25 February 2011


Last night I had dinner with a friend. I haven’t seen her since last summer but she sent me a lovely email shortly after I split up with D to say that she knew there was more to the story than Valley gossip was letting on and that I was not to doubt her continued support and friendship. We haven’t seen each other mainly because she’s had family troubles so she had more important matters to deal with.

Despite the fact of her email and that I’ve always liked her, I was nervous. She is someone who I have only known as part of a couple, me and D, her and her partner, X and Y, A and B…. So to rebuild a friendship on a different level is a bit scary. I also have to take into account the gossip that has been circulating and wonder what she’s heard and what she thinks about it. We’d been meant to meet with another friend who kept on cancelling so in the end decided to meet up anyway and I’m so pleased we did.

She didn’t let me settle into the normal bland platitudes about how it’s sad but at least we can move on, blah blah blah but challenged me to open up a bit. Told me about her relationship before her current one – how it had amounted to mental bullying but how it took her a long time to extract herself. How she couldn’t imagine that someone as strong minded and feisty as her could have become so browbeaten and subjugated. It was such a relief to know that someone in my circle of friends REALLY understands what I was going through. We spoke about it. It was pretty balanced and not at all a slagging match but I could be honest because I knew she knew what I was talking about and didn’t judge me or think that I was making it up to justify myself.

She might not have known it at the time but after I left she had put 2 and 2 together and guessed what had been happening.

We only spoke about it for a little while and rest of the evening chatted about all the normal stuff but I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. This morning I found myself crying in the shower and had to wake Rich up for a cuddle. He was understandably bewildered – he’s used to comforting me when required but it’s not normally needed at 6.25am!! I explained that it was the relief of knowing that, other than him, at least one other person “knows”.

It makes me ashamed about the times I may have taken the surface picture at face value and not offered the true hand of friendship to someone in need because now I know how much that hand matters.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lessons learned from Major Pettigrew and Mrs Ali

Me at the top of Bradwell Edge. Slightly sweaty and tired out. You can't see my feet because my not-so-able assistant cut them off but, if you could, you would just see giant balls of mud.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that I've put the photos up in the wrong order so we start at the top and work our way down...this did not happen!

The muddy steep path up Bradwell Edge, oh and Rich....with feet...

The misty view of Bradwell from Bradwell Edge.

I don't know if anyone has read this but I've just finished "The Last Stand of Major Pettigrew" and really enjoyed it. Nicely written but also jolly, thought provoking, humourous, even action packed at the end (slightly incongruously I thought).

I was chuckling away empathising happily with the old duffer of a retired Major and his love interest, the widow, Mrs Ali from the village shop when I realised I was being hypocritical. I was reading about and approving their old-fashioned values yet not applying them in my own life.

So, in my last post I bemoaned my lot in the family and the fact that my father is not quicker to accept my marriage break up. I was being a bit of a demanding spoilt brat to be fair; just expecting my 79 year old father to agree whole-heartedly with everything I do and support me 100% without having a viewpoint of his own.

This isn't fair. He has been very supportive and loving and was shocked and saddened when I told him the true state of my marriage and some of the horrid things which D has done since we split up. But as to my leaping in so quickly into a new relationship, it is right for me but I shouldn't condemn him for having different, more cautious sensitivities. It must seem very quick to him and also be difficult to accept the bald fact which I've thrown at him that I was having an affair while still married.

To a man who has been married and faithful to my mother for nearly 60 years, that can't be easy to swallow.

I've been miffed that he still entertains the thought of meeting with Diarmuid, feeling that it is somehow disloyal to me. But then, when I think again, through the prism of Major Pettigrew, would I prefer my Dad to be so dogmatic and cold-hearted, one-sidedly unreasonable that he could just dismiss the son-in-law who he knew and loved for over 20 years? No I wouldn't. I love the fact that, although he doesn't approve of some of the things D has done, he is still happy to meet him and say goodbye sometime. It seems more civilised somehow. More rounded.

So, thanks Major Pettigrew for giving me a pause and making me step out of my "selfish child" world view and put myself into my Dad's shoes for a while. I'm not saying that Dad (or my sister) is right or that it's not hurtful sometime, but at least I should respect his views and have patience that he'll come round.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Training (and Family Matters!!)

Training is proceeding apace despite far too much social life. This latter also explains the tardy posting of blog entries….I’m struggling with a backlog!

Last week, we were intending to go to the gym on Wednesday evening but Rich had a nasty, streaming cold and wasn’t up to it. I was determined that I wouldn’t be derailed but also didn’t want to spend too much of one of our few evenings at home together out at the gym. As a compromise I decided to go for a run. It would be shorter, 40 minutes instead of an hour and not require driving to and from the gym so saving 20 minutes or so there. It’s always hard leaving a nice cosy house with your other half looking all warm and happy in front of the telly to head out into the cold but I did it and felt pretty positive about it too!! Jogged down the hill, stopped to do my stretches and then started along the long straight to Brough. Got about 10 minutes out and felt a sharp pain in the middle of my right calf! I stopped short – must have looked as though I had been shot to the passing car – no, there was no way I could carry on running – had to limp home. Bah!

Luckily the pulled whatever it is (muscle, ligament…?) has not proved too problematic and is getting better already. I went to personal training on Thursday morning fully intending to nurse it but Huw found several inventive means to continue his weekly torture unabated. In fact, I think I may have worked harder than usual without taxing the calf. Bah!

I went over to my parents’ place on Thursday night as it was my father’s birthday on the Friday. I took the newly shorn dogs who look gorgeous after their haircuts and seem to have turned into lithe puppies as well as losing a sheep-sized fleece of fur each. I had been intending to go for a nice flat run in Lincolnshire but this was out so just managed a brisk walk instead.

It’s good to spend time with my father. It is difficult for him now as he is caring for my mother who has Alzheimers. She is not too bad, being calm and happy for the most part and she is still able to dress and feed herself etc. It’s just the lack of company now. Her short term memory has gone so she can’t really hold a conversation and just repeats questions and comments over and over again. He is not the most patient man although I’m seeing a more caring side to him now as the reality of the situation sets in. I do my daughterly duty re cooking and sorting out her clothes and spending hours going through paperwork with him to assure him that I will be up to the job of being his executor (what a happy afternoon THAT was!!).

I only feel marginally resentful that I seem to draw the crappy end of the stick – my sister (who hardly ever visits due to her large family) was due to arrive that evening after I left with her brood and would no doubt only do fun things – lunch out, walks, going to the pub. As is right, my dad dotes on her and her family (as he does with my brother and his family) and has consistently helped them out financially and with savings funds for the grandkids. As I’ve never needed financial help (or not since I was a student anyway) this has never bothered me) but now, in the midst of an expensive divorce, I do wonder if an offer at least might have been welcome….I’m certain it would have been made to my siblings…

Within the dynamic of our family it seems to be accepted that I will do the work – the boring, nothing happening visits where I cut mum’s toenails and make sure that the house is being cleaned properly, rotating the freezer contents and book things on the internet for him. My sister, of course, with her big family, is far too busy to be bothered with these mundane chores and my brother lives in Canada.

This used to be compensated for by my closeness with my father and how much I love him and enjoy his company. It still is but there has been an “edge” recently, since I split up with Diarmuid. Now, instead of appreciating my visits, the fact that they are not more frequent is deplored. If I leave a bit early or don’t stay an extra day because I’m going to a football match for example this is seen as frivolous. There have been comments about the fact that he hasn’t seen me as often since I’ve been with Richard. He doesn’t seem to recognise the fact that they have not been to visit me once since I split up with D. That they have made no effort to meet Rich and do not often mention his name. Perhaps if they met Rich we would see more of each other??

It is, now that I write it all down, very hurtful. Counselled by my sister and aunt, I try to be understanding of my Dad’s age; the fact that it must be hard for him to accept that I have broken up my marriage (which I never allowed him to see was flawed); that he loved D; that he has been told a pack of lies about Rich by D; that it will take time. But it is bloody hurtful while I wait.

And bloody hurtful to see my sister and brother soaking up all the plaudits while sitting back doing sod all. Maybe all childless siblings feel this basic unfairness. More is expected of me and less appreciation given because I don’t have a family. It’s “easy” for me to drive 2 hours to Lincoln than for them. Well, yes it is and I don’t mind doing it but surely Hilary (being a GP) could research into carers over the internet just as easily as I can; or book his airline flights; or buy his washing machine…etc

Hmmmm. I’d better stop now. I seem to have opened a floodgate of pent-up resentment which I wasn’t entirely aware existed. Perhaps time to talk to my sister and brother and my father too.

The Richard thing must be resolved before too long or this unspoken resentment/suspicion/fear will harden and Rich too will understandably pick up on it. I do not want to be in the middle between a partner who (rightly) feels that he is not accepted and a family which has taken against him without even bothering to meet him. These relationships (both romantic and familial) are just too important to me for that.

I do wonder too whether my people-pleasing instinct which was so fatal in my marriage arises from my relationship with my father. I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and have loved to please him. I think this was part of why I let D rule the roost and put me down; I fell into the trap of wanting to please him too. Seeking approval all the time. Well, maybe now it’s time to make my needs known and not turn into the resentful Cinderella sister.

I had intended to chat about our trip to the FA Cup game at Birmingham City on Saturday; our muddy, hilly training walk on Sunday and our lovely dancing class last night (new steps in the tango!); what a lovely weekend I’ve spent with Rich who I just seem to be more and more in love with but now don’t have time for that. Ach well, what’s a blog for if not for exploring your innermost feelings and trying to put them in context and work out what you’re going to do next?? Thanks for listening……if you got this far through the whining that is...!!

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I’m just loving the dancing at the moment. We had a ropey couple of weeks at the beginning of January where we hadn’t been since mid-December, the teacher Tony was on holiday and we weren’t greatly enthused by his stand-in. It just felt a little flat, revising old steps over and over again and learning new dances we didn’t particularly like. But the last 3 weeks have been great.

Last week, right at the end of the class, Tony decided to teach us the basic rudiments of the jive but we were a bit too tired to take much in. Well this week we spent 40 minutes learning a whole lot more. It was great. Rich and I took to it straight away and I know we’re going to love it. I’ve always loved seeing people dance like that at parties and weddings over the years. Rock and roll, jive, ceroc - it all looks great. But, although I’ve tried occasionally in a drunken fashion to get the turns and rhythm, I’ve never been any good at it. Well, now I know how the dance is put together, the beat on which to turn and the neat timing of it. It’s brilliant.

I realise to anyone over 60 that you were probably brought up doing this stuff so can’t see what all the fuss is about but I think it’s fab. Because we were just learning the steps and it was quite a long new sequence, once we’d been through it as a class, Tony left us in our pairs practising for quite a long time while he went round making sure that everyone had got it. So we were getting on with it, going faster and faster and just grinning like a pair of loons at each other. Then I noticed a few couples who were struggling with it watching us and murmuring stuff like – “you turn to the left there” or “see, rock back”….felt like a proper teacher’s pet.

And then the illusion of skill was shattered when he turned the music on! The sneaky git picked a really fast beat and we all fell apart!! Still, once he’d given us a slower song to dance to, we could really feel what it’s all about. We’ve "got" the jive, I know we have and we really enjoyed it.

After the jive, a rest with the rumba. Now, you may not know this but it is The Law that All Men Hate The Rumba. It would seem to be a slur on their very masculinity to admit that dancing to a slow, sensual beat and wiggling one’s hips suggestively could in any way be enjoyable to them…. But I suspect this is not the whole picture. While he whinges about not being able to “get the rhythm” and it being “stupid”, I detect a certain pride and pleasure as he lifts his arm up to let me execute a slow turn before arriving neatly back in his arms …I won’t tell him that I’ve seen through him though…because... All Men Hate The Rumba…..

After so long on the jive and rumba we had no time for much else so a quick march round the room doing the tango (which we had apparently totally forgotten…it’s a very strange dance anyway…) and a romantic twirl of a waltz for Valentines Day.

As you can probably tell from my gushing, we well and truly have our dancing mojo back. Yay!!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Scale bothering and social engagement

To steal Peridot’s phrase, I’ve been doing a spot of scale-bothering myself recently. Having been good for a week or so, it was frustrating not to see any real change all of last week so I hopped on and off on the offchance that the scales would relent...yeah right…. I hovered within half a lb of the same weight ALL week. Grr. But, I did manage to stick to my guns, didn’t have a blow-out this weekend and did a fair bit of exercise too and, finally, I’ve been rewarded with a 2 lb drop this morning! This is unusual for me. I have consulted my chart and see that I tend to go up most Monday mornings. So, I’m very pleased but not complacent. The beauty of the chart is that I cannot fool myself with a one-off drop nor should I be too down-hearted if I go up temporarily. Trends are what counts.

I suspect that the fact that we didn’t go out on Saturday evening has something to do with it. We were invited to a wedding reception evening do locally which would probably have been a riotous evening. The couple and their friends tend to party hard. Generally we would be well up for that but Richard wasn’t feeling well and I was feeling tired and lazy. So, we bailed. No guilt as they’re not particularly close friends, it was a big do and only an evening invitation. And no regrets.

I would have liked to see her dress in the flesh as I’m sure it was spectacular but Facebook will be littered with pics soon. It would have been nice to see my mates and have a dance but that’s generally only fun if you’re in good form anyway and we weren’t.

As it was, we had a lovely evening in – light supper, no booze and a cuddle on the sofa in front of a mildly entertaining rom-com, his suggestion, not mine! (The film was “Valentines Day” in case you’re wondering. It’s a big-cast ensemble piece with a gazillion pretty actors and actresses all chirping away about love and marriage. The “goodies” all fall in love and find each other and the “baddies” slink off to their lonely fate, just as it should be...tee hee. A total rip-off of “Love, Actually” transported to LA with prettier, younger (and less competent) actors but with high smile-factor.) It was perfect.

In the past, the idea of spending a Saturday night in would have been a total and utter non-starter, especially if there was a big Valley function to go to. I would have dressed up, however tired and uninterested and stayed out ‘til the bitter end, probably driving or, if drinking, with the nagging worry about how we were going to get home. I would sometimes have ended up really enjoying myself, got through the tiredness and had a great night. But many times I would have gone through the motions and drunk my way into enjoyment. Who knows, maybe we missed a great night out but I know that I’m happy to have the choice. To be able to have a great night in too.

And our night in meant that we felt energised and rested on Sunday. Hence we went to the gym as I reported in my post yesterday.

We have a busy week coming up. Dancing this evening. An away football match in Tranmere tomorrow night. (I’m not a Wednesday Ultra by the way; wouldn’t usually go to an away match mid-week but this was a re-arranged match from Boxing Day.) Gym on Wednesday night. Across to my parents on Thursday for my Dad’s birthday on Friday. Then back on Friday evening for a surprise birthday party in Bamford. Then away to Birmingham City for Sheffield Wednesday’s big FA Cup tie (and exit from the Cup no doubt…) on Saturday before collapsing in a quivering heap on Sunday! Yikes….

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Gym

Well, the Great Gym Plan, which we have been speaking about but not actually implementing for some time, has finally begun. Rich joined last week and got his programme on Friday so it's all systems go. The idea was that, if I give up one session per week of personal training (very expensive), I will go at least twice a week with Rich instead for a quarter of the price. I generally struggle to go to the gym when there's someone relaxing at home or waiting for supper but it's a lot easier if we go together.

So, a cold rainy Sunday afternoon was a perfect time to test out this theory. It seems to work! We took the dogs out for a rainy hilly walk then left them sleeping it off and headed straight to Hathersage. I really enjoyed it and hopefully we can make it a regular thing. I did a mixture of pilates based free weights and aerobic stuff - treadmill, rower and cross trainer.

Now I can enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon before heading off to the pub for the quiz. I've missed a few weeks of the quiz and they've won handily every week without me so I'm having to justify my spot!! Possibly the fact that I'm driving will help....

So, I'm all fired up for lots of exercise next week followed by a week off to work on my old house to start the job of getting it ready to be put on the market. That'll be a hard week but it's got to be done. In a way it's good to be moving on but I know it'll be a pretty tough time emotionally as well.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

I just keep on runnin'....

A few pics from our walk last weekend up Lose Hill. Views of Mam Tor and the Great Ridge to one side, Win Hill to another and the Hope Valley below us. Lovely but too windy to enjoy!!

Why do certain forms of exercise appeal at different times? I’ve been avoiding running like the plague for months, having no interest in it but suddenly am keen again. Maybe there is a hint-ette of spring in the air (although that could be me being pretty optimistic here) and it is just slightly lighter in the evening so the idea of running does not seem quite so ridiculous. Having said that, I went out on Tuesday night at 6pm into the dark with a head torch wearing a fleece and gloves so it was hardly balmy!!

Whereas the swimming which has been my fave for a month or so now seems more trouble than it is worth. I failed to make myself go on Wednesday – I employed all the chimp trickery I have at my disposal and she still won out. Admittedly I had been thwarted by a last minute meeting which meant that I would have been racing to get to the pool in time for lane swimming and would not have had a full lunch break but even so….

But I’m pleased to report that, in missing my swim, I felt rubbish; fuggy, ratty and in need of exercise. This is progress – I’m actually missing exercise!!

I suspect running is what I need to be doing anyway. I don’t think you can beat it for weight loss and fitness. It definitely gives you more bang for your buck compared to swimming or walking although I’m not knocking either of those. I think it’s the weight-bearing element which burns those calories, especially when one is carrying MY weight that is!! From next week, we’ll have the option of the gym to add to running, swimming, hill walks and personal training. Rich has joined now and gets his new programme this afternoon so we’re going to try to go at least twice and hopefully 3 times per week for a short, sharp 3 month trial to see if we get value out of it.

My running distances are not particularly stellar. Compared to what I was achieving while training for my half marathon, they are paltry but at least I’m getting out there and including some hills into the routes. I’ve just plotted Tuesday night’s route on Map My Run and discovered that it is a slightly disappointing 2.8 miles (4.5km). I had hoped to sneak over 3 and ensure that I’m running 5km but not too bad I suppose. I did it in just under 40 minutes so there is considerable room for improvement to be honest….must try harder…..

Hopefully I will go again tonight and maybe add that extra few hundred yards to take me over the magic 5km…wish me luck!!

Update - I typed up this post yesterday (Friday) and I did manage to go running last night. It is getting slowly better. I added a small extra corner to my route so it is now just over 5km and I did it in the same time (although that could have been because it was not as cold or windy as on Tuesday). My back troubled me again this morning though so I'm obviously going to have to watch that.

Anyway, went for a lovely sunny walk with my friend Paula this morning while Rich was at work - muddy as hell, hilly and tiring but very life-affirming!! Lazy afternoon ahead and then a wedding reception locally this evening....what a nice day!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

I’ve bemoaned before the fact that you can acquire a bad habit instantly and without any effort whatsoever but trying to cement a good habit into your lifestyle is like trying to nail down jelly. It remains the same and I remain frustrated by this….

But, I have been slightly better at the good habits, or at least resisting the bad ones.

On the bad habit front, I was hungry one morning last week and didn’t have anything in for breakfast (no milk, no bread, fruit not enough…) so, when I bought my morning cappuccino from McDonalds, I also bought a (low-fat – ha!) blueberry muffin. Not too bad for brekkie, no harm done. Trouble is, having done that once and with justification, my chimp now assumes that I will have a blueberry muffin every time I stop for my coffee or, if I don’t, with lunch instead!! I fell for this crooked thinking twice and thus was born the great “Blueberry Muffin Habit of February 2011” which looked set fair for a good run.

Fortunately I have managed to nip this in the bud. Yesterday I so nearly bought one at lunchtime but walked away and this morning, in McDonalds, the scene of the original crime, I agonised briefly before thinking “resist” and sticking to my capp. It was funny actually; just as I was thinking “resist” the nice lady from McD’s saw my face looking at the muffins and said “resist” to me!! I know she should be selling etc but she’s really friendly and sees me most mornings so helped me out there (although I WAS going to resist without her, honest…).

I also resisted all sweet stuff while walking round town today despite there being a great deal of temptation.

And, on the good habit front, went for a brisk walk around town in the first place and took the stairs too. So, small good habits are creeping in to replace the little bad ones. But I must stay vigilant as those pesky bad habits are out there lurking trying to latch on like a calorofic limpet if I weaken for a moment.

The next one to tackle is the curse of the new couple….drinking at home…. I am trying to cut back on the empty alcohol calories. I don’t mind the “night out” or “good glass of wine with nice meal” booze but could live without the casual bottle of beer/half bottle of wine here and there. Well, that’s the theory anyway. Last night though, despite having no intention of drinking, Rich just said “fancy a beer” and without thinking I said yes! Pathetic. Engage brain when there’s food or drink involved Lesley!!

And the other topic which has been exercising my attention recently is romance. Being a bear of very little brain the fact that Valentines Day is imminent has set me thinking. I’m not a sucker for expensive gifts: 2 dozen roses, chocs, over-priced meals out or other such formulaic rituals. I know some are and good luck to them. I prefer going out when and where we chose to; having romantic meals in from time to time; sending sweet or raunchy texts and all the other day-to-day nice gestures which show attention and love. But, and there’s always a “but” isn’t there, I can’t help but feel wistful about flowers.

I don’t mean big bunches on your birthday or on Valentines Day or the routine “I always buy her flowers on a Friday” bunch (which are great but somewhat lacking in imagination). I mean a pretty bunch of daffs or a mixed bouquet from the supermarket (or even the garage – much maligned these days…) bought for no particular reason other than they were thinking about you and given as a surprise…. In 41 years it’s never happened to me and I know I would love it. (That’s sad isn’t it? I’ll treat this as a public service to make you lucky women out there with romantic other halves feel even happier with your lot!!).

I blame the cynical tide of popular opinion that seems to have made it a “fact” that, if he buys you flowers out of the blue, he feels guilty for something!! Maybe this is true in some cases but surely not all. I also blame the essentially lazy menfolk out there who have seized on this “fact” as an excuse never to buy flowers.

And it’s frustrating ‘cos you can’t TELL him you’d like flowers as then it wouldn’t be spontaneous.

I’m just going to stick to my guns: carry on with the little gestures to show him I appreciate him; try to notice all the little things he does in the same vein; and only be a little wistful about the non-appearance of flowers.

What is your idea of romance??

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Too much food isn't good for you....

A few pics of me and my old school pals from our weekend a couple of weeks ago. We have known each other for 30 years now since we all shared a dorm in that first week!! God, how old does that make us sound....

Thankfully though, it wasn’t me who inspired this realisation!! It was poor little Minty the Thief. I spotted a small patch of doggie sick when I came home on Friday afternoon but was confused to see that it contained mixer biscuits. Neither of them had had biscuits in their food for a few days as they eat mostly raw chicken wings. On deeper investigation we could see Minty looking uncharacteristically hangdog and lying sprawled on her back with her tummy, looking fuller than its usual svelte self, in the air. If she could groan she would have done and if you patted her tummy she was decidedly not impressed…. Ah ha, we had a culprit (big shock it was Minty not the saintly Shelagh…).

But how did she get to the biscuits? They are kept either in a jar in a kitchen cupboard or in a sack under the stairs in the back room, the door to which is kept shut to stop them going upstairs when we’re out. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, she has now mastered the art of opening the door to the back room and creeping under the stairs (no door) and sticking her head into the sack of mixer biscuits and chowing down like a horse with a feedbag!! I think this must have been the first time though, and the last.

I hope so because picking up after her was not a pleasant task for a day or so!!

Anyway, it made me ponder on the topic of over-eating. I, unlike Minty, know full well that eating too much does not make me feel good. Either it makes me feel sicky and bloated or I feel unhappy a day later when I step on the scales. But I still do it from time to time. My pesky chimp still fools me into it when my resistance is low. I suppose the trick is to enjoy the sensation of having a blowout without going too far. To build the odd splurge into your lifestyle but ensure that it doesn’t do any damage by otherwise eating healthily and doing lots of exercise….oh yeah, simples…

I’m trying though. We had a great weekend. A few early door drinks on Friday in our local (which we would ideally like to remain our local so we really hope we can find a new house to rent in the same village....). Then a busy Saturday of hospital appointment, chores and football. Not the greatest match but a draw and a new manager so at least there's hope now. And a quiet night in....yay! Then on Sunday a blustery wet walk up and down Lose Hill, a run (how virtuous) and into town for Madness!!

Such fun (as Miranda's mum might say, although probably not about a night at a Madness gig...). They haven't changed in the 25 years since I first started to like their music. Rich is more of a fan than me and has seen them before but I really enjoyed the whole night. I haven't been in a mosh pit (an old-fashioned one at that) for years....come on Lesley, be honest, decades...and it was FAB! So exhilerating and sweaty. Just being carried around on a tide of jumping, happy humanity. It was not so big a venue that I might have felt a bit scared but big enough that you could have a proper laugh. We emerged into the night, sweaty, tired out, buzzing on adrenalin and with ringing ears....felt 18 again!

Monday was more sedate - it was Rich's birthday so we both had the day off. He seemed to like his present from me (a couple of the designer jumpers that he likes but can't usually justify as so over-priced but which I found on double-discounted sale!!). He said he liked them of course but the acid test was whether he would wear one straight away - and he has - and he looked good in it - phew!! It's such a trial picking out that first birthday present of a new relationship....stressful stuff. We were so tired though from Sunday night that going to dancing was almost a step too far. We went but started to flag about half way through, around about the time the teacher decided we should start learning a new dance - the Jive! High energy or what! I'm going to love it but last night I thought my legs were going to seize up!!

So, dragging myself back to my "splurge but in moderation" analogy, I managed lots of exercise both planned and impromptu, I drank too much on Sunday night but also had some quiet nights and sensible suppers as well. Overall a balance was achieved and no damage has been done on the scales. I'm back to my start of January weight and heading in the right direction again....and we had a good time....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A start (well, another start...)

Sometimes you need a bad spell to show you where you're going wrong and to sharpen your resolve. I feel much more focussed now and have a little time to be focussed too which helps.

On the mini-targets front, I did go for my swim on Friday and managed 50 pretty fast lengths and no biscuits in the office either (they were M&S cookies so the deprivation should give me extra points I think...). But I still felt fat and bloated which is sooo annoying. If you exercise you should get instant gratification in the form of at least feeling thinner??

I didn't manage to fit in any exercise on Saturday. I just had too much to do in the morning and by the time we got back from the football I felt knackered and we both just wanted to slump on the sofa. But food was not bad and no booze in the evening. Not baaad.

I'm glad I rested today because I feel so much more spritely. The extra couple of lbs have turned out to be TOTM water weight and I have lsot that horrible bloated feeling. I'm back baby....thank God.....

We went for a training walk up Lose Hill which was a bit of a bust really. It was sodden with mud after the deluge yesterday and very windy too. So, although we did a 90 minute steep up and down tramp, I wouldn't call it class A training or anything. Still, when we got back I took myself out for a 30 minute run and managed to persuade my chimp not to stick on the flat and to take in a few hills. I feel much better now as the run wasn't as painful as I anticipated.

I reckon combining running with swimming, gym and evermore gruelling hill walks should get me there both in terms of fitness for the Three Peaks and of losing some weight too. It will certainly be a lot easier to climb those mountains if I'm carrying less dead weight...

We're off to see Madness in Sheffield tonight - will probably burn off a few calories there too! Then a day off tomorrow and hopefully some exercise be it golf, walking or a run/gym session. It all depends on the blasted weather....

I'm back, definitely feel like I'm out of the January fog now....

Friday, 4 February 2011


Well, January was not the most successful month ever! I tried to get going but have not lost a single lb. In fact, I have gained, as at this, morning 2! I am NOT happy about this.

Reasons for miserable washout of January push to lose half a stone?

Too busy. Had something on every weekend, usually involving travelling (helloooo triggers!!) and food/drink based socialising. In the summer, socialising is often walks, salads etc. In the winter it’s sitting around chatting, eating and drinking….nightmare.

Not enough exercise. During the week when I could have been going to the gym or for a run, I chose to stay at home in my cave, probably because we have been away at the weekends. So my exercise has stuck at 2, maybe 3 times per week rather than the 5/6 I aim for.

Eating too much rubbish during the day. I haven’t been bad at home although there have been a few too many heavy, comfort food type meals and a few too many bottles of wine. But during the day I have allowed “extras” to become part of my everyday routine again. So a sandwich AND a cake or sausage roll at lunch. An extra piece of toast on top of my usual breakfast. A bar or something when I buy petrol. A snack on the train etc etc. Things which were rare treats have become almost daily occurrences.

This must stop. (Three Peaks Challenge a mere 5 months away – eeeeek!!)

But, true to form, what positives can I find?

The exercise has not been dropped entirely by any means, is coming back in the last couple of weeks and my need and desire to do it is clear. Richard is joining my gym (induction booked for next Tuesday so there is no escape) so that will help.

I have had a fairly stressful time recently. I feel that there is a lot going on in my head (money, divorce, work, health) and, although the weight thing hasn’t helped, I haven’t fallen into the “woe is me” depression of old. It is categorically NOT an issue for Richard so there is no additional pressure on me from that quarter.

I have weighed myself frequently and written my weight on my chart so there has been no hiding or denial. I’m still “on it” just not making any progress. (I sound like a football manager who is explaining that the players are playing good football just not getting the results….even though they’re not really playing good football….).

In conclusion – January was rubbish, always is rubbish and probably always will be. But I’m ready now and things are going to change.

Mini-targets anyone?
  • Swim at lunchtime (Friday)
  • No extras today (Friday)
  • Some form of exercise on Saturday. This will be tricky as I have a hospital appointment first thing, then back home, chores, football. Perhaps no drinking before the football so I can go for a run when I get back? Or maybe time for a run before I go to the footie? Gym shuts at 4pm on Saturdays so no good to me then.
  • We’re going for a long, hilly training walk on Sunday – Hurrah!
  • It’s Richard’s birthday on Monday so we’re off work and hoping to play golf but the weather is not looking good. It might have to be the gym, a short sharp hilly walk in the sleet or a run instead.

That’s enough to be getting on with. But at least I have a plan. Wish me luck.