Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Monday, 30 May 2011

A curate's egg of a weekend.

Note the slightly unenthusiastic look on Amelie's we have to??

So pretty - we were walking from Bakewell towards Haddon Hall along the Wye valley - gorgeous!

Me, Jen and Amelie.....the girls!

Note Sam trudging stolidly along the lane but at least Amelie had softened up and was having a laugh! Minty always has a laugh....

The glorious English lovely in the afternoon sunshine.

"cows with funny horns.." Galloways??

A tree devastated by full leaf and looks as though it has many a year left in it. \Damaged but unbowed.

It's been a great Bank Holiday weekend. Nothing particularly exciting done but just nice and relaxing although the weather could have cooperated a bit!

Friday I worked from home in the morning and then took the afternoon off. We were meant to playing golf but it rained so we went food shopping instead. Grrr. Called into the local for "a couple" on the way home and ended up having a very swift and tasty 3.5 pints of Abbots Ale! Usually I'm a fairly steady drinker but, once in a while, I get a beer head on which is what happened on Friday evening. Trouble is, we shared a bottle of wine when we got home too so I had a proper (although thankfully shortlived) hangover on Saturday! Doh!! (I can hear Peridot knashing her teeth right now that I had a mild hangover after all that whereas she would have been laid up...soorrreee Peri!)

I had my first house viewing on Saturday morning which was not particularly promising. A couple moving up from London but I don't think the house was quite classy enough for posh southerners! Still, it was gratifying to have a viewing so quickly, before it had even gone in the papers! Since then I've had 2 more and another on the way - 4 viewings on the first weekend - keep those fingers crossed please.

I then raced over to Bakewell to meet up with my pal Jenny and her kids at the Farmers' Market. I haven't been to this market before and was very impressed. I spent a small fortune on nice foodie treats: fish cakes; gorgeous spicy kofte kebabs; rump steaks; rum and raisin fudge; chilli cheese; Lincolnshire Poacher cheddar; a couple of tomato plants; some dry cure bacon..... mmmmmm. I've had the kebabs, the bacon, the fudge and the chilli cheese so far and they have all been delish.

After the market we took the dogs and the kids for a walk. The dogs were extremely keen, the kids less so. Her eldest, Sam, is just hitting teenage years (starts Big School in September!) and does a great line in wearied weight-of-the-world-on-his-shoulders trudging! Amelie was much more enthusiastic and chattered away to me about how grumpy Sam was etc etc. Actually, by the end, they both seemed to forget about being "cool" and enjoyed themselves as you can see in the pics above.

Sunday was the momentous trip to my parents' house in Lincolnshire so that Rich could meet my parents and my brother over from Canada. I found myself being really excited. Partly, I suppose, because I haven't seen much of Mum and Dad recently or my brother for that matter and partly because everyone meeting and getting on is the next step in moving on. It went really well. Dad was on good form and the conversation moved on nicely. We didn't do much, just a nice pub lunch, a pleasant dog walk and watched some golf on the telly en famille. What more can you ask??!

I was so happy that it went well 'cos now I can see more of the parentals and be a better help to Dad in looking after Mum. That side of things will soon be easier too as my brother and his wife are moving back to the UK for a couple of years so that'll be someone else to share the load.

Today was meant to be golf with Richard and Nigel. It WAS golf but, unfortunately, very rainy and wet golf. Rich decided against it as he's playing tomorrow and would need to dry everything out but I trudged round 15 holes with my new golfing buddy Nigel. I would rather have not to be honest but sometimes you have to commit and play when your playing partner wants to. It was especially annoying when I got back and Rich said he thought I wanted to play so he didn't suggest ditching golf and going into town for a spot of shopping and to the cinema! Hey ho - it was good exercise and lovely fresh air. As for the golf - erm, not so much....

The day was slightly ruined by a message from Facebook from a former "friend". It seems that my posts about my sorry marriage have stirred things up a bit. D has asked various friends to read the blog (God knows why - I've never told anyone "in real life" the URL so, although some people know I have a blog, they wouldn't easily find it and are not internet type people anyway). One couple publically "unfriended" me from FB with a rather unpleasant wall post. To be fair, she and her husband have long been firmly in the D camp; have not offered the hand of friendship since we split up and therefore losing their "friendship" is no loss at all but it could have been an unpleasant end to a nice weekend.

So, it was heartening to log onto my blog and find a lovely supportive post from Lovecat. It's great to know that many people do understand and don't judge.

It is also somewhat ironic that, in trying to set people against me via my blog (which I have always hoped could be my personal space), D demonstrates neatly my point. He still thinks he is totally in the right and is still trying to control me.

I am in the middle to reading a couple of books on the subject of emotional abuse and bullying. The most coherent is called "Men who hate women and the women who love them". (A rather melodramative, transatlantic type title I think but well written.) I am finding that there are so many "Me too!" moments in the book that I could highlight the whole of some chapters. Which is rather sad. But what I'm also discovering is that what happened to me was not an extreme case by any means. Although not pleasant and very sapping and debilitating, I was not destroyed - it was just low-level, chronic bullying. Very unhealthy and dysfunctional but not nearly as bad as it could have been. Although it was getting worse.

And, although part of the reason for it being bearable was that D worked away so I had time on my own and relief, part too was that I didn't give in. Although he tried to stop me doing stuff (going to the football, playing golf, keeping in touch with certain friends) and sometimes I did give up on some things, I never totally gave in. I did do the TV show despite opposition. I did keep up the blog despite huge tantrums about it. I did keep up with my pastimes and friends and didn't totally subsume my personality to his. Although I was very doormat-like from time to time.

So, I've been hard on myself for allowing this to happen to me. And I did. I definitely did. But not, when I analyse it carefully, as much as I could have. It was bad but bearable and I managed to get out. And that is something to celebrate.

I'm going to finish the books but think that I've probably reached the conclusions I need to reach and done enough "furtling" in my emotions (as Claire would call it) for now. I'll be concentrating on enjoying life for a little while now.... Hope you are too and, thanks everyone.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Getting it...

In my "Detox of the Mind" post a few days ago I mentioned a post I had written months ago but not had the guts to put up. Well, I've since read most of a couple of books ordered from Amazon and I'm shocked by how closely what I said in the post tallied with the examples given in the books. I could have written half the damn things myself!!

So, I'm going to post it and be damned.

Also, thanks for your lovely comments. It's great to know that people care. Really great.

I was listening to a phone-in on radio Five Live as I drove to work a fair while ago. It was asking what makes a person abuse their partner (male or female). Over the course of the show several people gave accounts of being violently abused. Their accounts overlapped, often with the same phrases and explanations cropping up over and over again. How the (mainly) women were made to feel that it was their fault, that they were selfish and greedy, that, if they had behaved properly, the abuse would not have "had to" happen. How the victim came to recognise when it was going to happen. How it happened often when the perpetrator had had a drink and how, when not in the abusive mode, the perpetrator was sweet, gentle and charming and "really loved me".

When asked why they stayed or let it happen, they generally replied: because I started to believe that it was my fault, because it was difficult to leave your whole life behind and because "I loved him". The phrase "Jekyll & Hyde" was mentioned more than once.

It occurred to me that, with one important exception, I could have uttered nearly all of those sentences about my marriage. Apart from the fact that I have never been hit, the rest of it applied to me. Maybe not always in an acute way but I did come to fear the drunken row and the words of abuse that would be heaped on me. The accusations of being selfish, lazy, greedy, a failure, a coward, fat...

Over the years, I have been berated at various times for: being fat, biting my nails, reading romances, wanting to spend time at home on the sofa, going to the gym/for a walk/run/mountain biking rather than spending time with him (in the pub), not exercising and getting fat, letting myself go, failing at every diet I ever did, going to the football, playing golf, spending time on the computer blogging, being obsessed with food (because I was watching food programmes on TV or because I spent too long perusing the stands at the food fair), criticising or contradicting him in public, not having enough or the right sort of food in the house, leaving the house dirty or untidy, booking tickets for a concert or play (in fact several) when I should know he wouldn't want to go, spending time with my family while on holiday in Canada, complaining when asked to pick him up from the pub at 11pm or later (which happened almost every night), asking to go out, say to the cinema or for a meal, rather than going to the pub every night, coming out to the pub late, putting nutmeg in a rice pudding, cooking a lasagna when I should know he doesn't like it, cooking supper late (ie. after 7pm), slightly burning food "because you just don't give a shit", pressing the gate opening button too late so that we had to wait a couple of extra seconds on the road, not indicating early enough when turning into the house, arranging to have friends over when I should know he wouldn't want to; being friends with people he didn't like; organising a birthday party, wanting to organise a Christmas lunch, letting food go beyond its sell-by date in the fridge, mentioning him in my blog, wanting to go on television (on a programme which addressed why I struggled with my weight), talking about myself, talking too loudly, being drunk in the pub or at a party, and many many more.

And I probably did all those things. But even if they are true they are not reasons to viciously attack someone and then use them as examples of why that person is lazy, greedy, worthless, a failure or a coward etc.

Everyone does things that are not great or doesn't do things they should do. There are ways to address these niggles in life without battering someone down and turning them into a doormat who is fearful of what is coming next.

But it's insidious. In between the battering down and criticism and rows are the good times when that person is sweet and loving, when you enjoy your life despite what's going on or when you just want to make the most of life and/or pretend it's all alright.

Even now I've left I'm told that I'm the most unpopular woman in the Valley, in fact that I'm widely hated, that I have no friends, that everyone has always disliked me, that I'll never be invited to anything, that I'm lazy, greedy, selfish, untrustworthy, have no honour, never tried to save our marriage, that I've "put on the beef" (not true!!), that I'll not be able to hold down my job, and that I'll end up in a Council flat, fat and lonely and beaten with no-one and that he is only one of many who will be pleased to see it.

The difference is that now I can see the whole picture, the good and the bad and I know who I am and what I've done and what that makes me. I own up to my mistakes and flaws (as far as anyone can) but I also own up to my good points and my attributes. Maybe one day I'll post a blog about what I think is good about myself because even typing up the accusations has made me feel a bit rubbish. Don't know why this all came out today but I probably needed the catharsis. I hope it doesn't come over as being bitter and twisted. I just want to recognise where life has taken me and correct that course. Not blaming or hating, just seeing clearly for the first time in a while.

Now the task ahead of me is to work out what I did or didn't do to collude in the pattern. How never to do such a thing again (not that I think it will arise, happily).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

P2P Update

I've just realised that I haven't put the pics of our post Easter break. We went to Belmont Lodge near Hereford for golf then on to Bristol. The golf course was lovely, really challenging and very beautiful in a very English sort of way.

It was very slow though - we came up behind a visiting party so have to wait on every tee. Luckily the weaher was great and we met some nice people to chat to.

A gorgeous par 3 - love holes like this - scenic and clever. Oh, and Rich posing nicely...

I was very taken my this vista, popping up over a hill a view of Belmont Abbey in the distance.

Half the course lay alongside the River Wye...I only hit one ball into the water...!

Here it is again...

The lovely Belmont Lodge up on the hill behind us - looked like a french Chateau but is largely unused. Only the ground floor is in use as the golf clubhouse and restaurant. apparently there is a deal struck with English Heritage to restore and use the rest of the building which will save it. the Golf club is getting a planning permission for a bigger hotel in return....the way of the world!

England is so pretty sometimes - I love these beautiful mature Oak trees, just so solid and enduring. I could have done without this one being right in the middle of the fairway though!!

I hit my ball over a hill up towards the green only to discover a pond just next to the green exactly where my ball had gone! I only hope that I didn't hit one of these little ducklings brothers or sisters!! I didn't know you were there, honest!

A well deserved pint in the sunshine afterwards. I won by the way - trounced him!

Now to Bristol - I wish I'd taken some pictures from the football it was a gorgeous day and there was loads of fancy dress and amusing costumes! But after the game we had a smart romantic dinner on the terrace at our hotel - this was the view!! Not bad eh? By the way, it was the day after the Royal wedding hence the flags.

Me looking like the cat that got the cream sitting on the terrace of the Avon Gorge Hotel taking in the view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the sunset and about to enjoy a truly scrummy meal

You'll be pleased to know that you don't have to wade through a weighty tome on grim emotional topics today (not that you ever HAVE to do anything...!). Today it's just a quick update on my P2P challenge.

I'm very, very pleased that I have stuck it out for a whole week and exercised and eaten less mindfully during that time. The chart has been religiously updated and makes pleasant reading:

Weight - I lost 2.8 lbs (my scales are digital so I've decided to go to the decimal point even though I'm aware that they're pretty meaningless!).

Exercise - I've done some every day. Swimming, a run, personal training, a long walk with an old work colleague last weekend (Cocker Central - it was fab!), golf, dancing and swimming again.

Eating - not done anything special, just cut out the extras and cut back a bit on the booze.

So, what next? I'm sure next week will be a bit harder so I will have to keep up the exercise and tighten up the eating side of things a bit more but I have made a start and I'm proud of myself for that. Next week I should step into new territory (well, not new but territory that I haven't been in for a few months) so I'm determined to get a couple more lbs off and see a real change.

I like the fact that my P2P challenge is only short - it helps my chimp (remember her) take it on knowing that it's only a month. Sure, I'll probably do something else after that but I can do anything for a month. Short term effort, real result (hopefully).

I'm so pleased with myself for doing this. It is great knowing that I'm trying to get and stay healthy FOR ME. Not as a ploy or a strategy, not because I have to, not to get a bully off my back, not out of fear or hope for a better tomorrow. Just for the simple reason that I want to be healthier and to fit into smaller clothes. And to know that, while I'm doing this, Rich still loves and fancies me every bit as much and will probably hardly notice the stone once its gone anyway. Last night, I happily snaffled a chocolate off him and he teased me about being on a diet but I knew there was no edge to the teasing, no judging - what a refreshing change.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Detox of the Mind

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started thinking more and more about my marriage and the reasons I left it. I suppose it is inevitable as the date when it will end draws nearer and as I spend significant amounts of time working on my old house with a view to selling it. But it feels like more than that.

You know how, when you go on a strict detox diet or even have a massage or hot sauna, initially you get all spotty and your hair goes lank but then you start to feel better and cleaner inside and out? Well, I feel as though I’ve been on a detox diet of the mind and now, after nearly 10 months, all the poisons and harmful thoughts are working their way to the surface to be expelled, hopefully forever. But that does mean I’m having to really work my way through these thoughts which can be a bit disconcerting and even painful.

Inspired by Claire at Lose to Gain, I’m determined to face my “worst” thoughts and recognise them for what they are, whether true or false, painful or relief-inducing.

The main thought which keeps surfacing in various different contexts is disbelief and shock, even shame really. I can’t believe that I allowed myself to be so bullied; that I became so lacking in self-confidence that I accepted being down-trodden and turned into a fearful appeaser and ultimately changed my whole character as a result. Me, who used to be so strong-minded and confident?! I still am in most other spheres of my life but in my relationship I was not. And that is very difficult to accept.

An analogy leapt into my head as I was driving to work today. That of a dog who is kicked by its master when he’s drunk or frustrated and yet comes crawling back on its belly to that very master for comfort and food over and over again because it has no choice. And then ultimately the master becomes more and more disdainful of the cowering cur and treats it ever worse until eventually he kills the dog or the dog attacks him (or maybe in the happy-ever-after version the dog finds a new home where it is treated with love and affection). Well, that dog was me. I became more fearful and pathetic as time went on. I felt powerless so, instead of facing up to the emotional abuse, I tried to escape. I hid from the realisation of what was happening to me in food, drink, other men, behind make-up, in books and in my ‘cave’ on the sofa. I dreamed of leaving and plotted revenge through spending money and having flings. But I didn’t take action.

I did, however, take action in other areas of my life. I started turning things around when I took up the Lighter Life challenge but even then I was doing it to make things better with D. Partly for me but also buying into what he used to tell me; that “everything would be perfect if I just lost weight”. Well, I lost 9 stone and it was even worse after that!! LL was only a start for me though. Through writing this blog, reading others and through what I learned from the wonderful Dr Steve Peters doing the TV show I slowly started to “see” what had happened to me.

Some moments of clarity stay with me (“lightbulb moments” in the old LL terminology):

I remember a long-ago comment by Isabelle from In This Life to a post when I mentioned (and made excuses for) D having a go at me about my weight. She simply said that he was wrong to do it and that in all her years with Mr Life he had never been anything other than supportive of her. Recently she has posted some lovely posts about her 46 happy years with Mr Life and I often think about what she said. She had the courage to stick her neck out and say that she thought it was wrong and just saying it helped me along the process of beginning to understand that it WAS wrong.

Another point was having supper with a friend a couple of months ago and her letting me know that she understood what had gone on because she had been through the same sort of thing in a previous relationship. That understanding made me feel less alone and be less hard on myself as she is one of the feistiest women I know!

Another was my brother saying that he’d known something was wrong from our visit to them in Canada.

Another was the policewoman I’d reluctantly spoken to after having 2 points of Guinness thrown over me in my former local (along with a tirade of hideous verbal abuse) who refused to not take the matter seriously despite my wishes. I’d only reported it because the incidents had been getting more and more serious and I wanted to make sure there was a trail of evidence in case D did anything really bad and also to warn D to stop. She made it clear that what had happened was already serious and was part of a pattern. She took ME seriously.

An email from Peridot saying that she doubted I would have strayed if there hadn’t been something seriously wrong with my relationship – such faith in me!!

But most of my significant moments came from Richard. He showed me that one party being made to be “in the wrong” all the time is not “normal”; how courtesy and respect could be the norm; how sweetness and teasing laughter could be the response to a forgetful mistake not shouting and slagging off; how weight is irrelevant when you love someone. Right back when we were “just a fling” and had only seen each other a couple of times I went to the dentist. I was worried about it as it was a major procedure and, when he found out, he offered to drive all the way into town to pick me up if I didn’t feel up to driving afterwards. Although I was fine to drive I was shaky so he came over just to make sure I was fine with my mouthful of stitches. And I was surprised! Why? I would have done the same, but I didn’t expect anyone to treat me with kindness and consideration. I didn’t think I was worth it unless I had something to “offer”.

I wrote a post (although never put it up) inspired by a radio phone-in months ago about domestic abuse and how what happened to me was just the same as being systematically beaten up but without the violence. So I knew back then but didn’t have the courage to actually put it out there. Now, I’m feeling that clarity AND the necessary courage to face up to my part in it.

So, although I’m sad that I was such a wimp and angry that it happened to me, mostly I’m happy that it's over and the scales have fallen from my eyes and I can start learning who I am all over again. It’s about time at 41!!

PS. As an aside, I’m wondering how common being in a (non-violent) abusive relationship is? Probably way more common than I would guess. I’m wondering if I can do something to help other women who might be in the same boat but without my advantages (education, decent job, resources..)? Some research is needed I suspect - Amazon has been perused and books ordered.

PPS. And, as a final postscript, even now I find it hard to put this post up once I read it through. Mainly because there WERE good times and to say what I’ve said seems to devalue more than half of my life. The dichotomy between something essentially rotten and genuinely good times and the fact that there was real love there once. I do NOT want to become bitter (I’m sincerely not bitter despite how it might sound) and I’ll never regret meeting and marrying D. I just regret what our relationship became and that we didn’t either sort it out or end it sooner.

Is anyone still here?? Well done if you are; thanks for sticking it out.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Garden Woes (a pictoral depiction) and the great Payday to Payday challenge!

I promised "before pictures of the garden and these are pretty grizzly. They certainly show what a big task we have ahead of us. Which may explain why I'm sitting blogging not grubbing up weeds....

The front garden, to be landscaped by the landlord allegedly. I'm not holding my breath.

The "patio"...well, what will be the patio one day.

One bed cleared and sporting the solitary flower in the entire garden, a straggly bluebell. Also sporting one of 2 ash pits thoughtfully created by the builders.

It WILL be a lawn to the side.. See, I've made a start on the weeding...

Nettle corner. I was hopeful that we would have the garage but it had already been snaffled by another of the tenants...hey ho, she's very nice and runs a gardening business so I'm sure her need is greater.

Shelagh kindly poses on the bonfire patch created by the builders...what to do with a mass of ash? There are 2...

Weeds, everywhere. I think this would once have been a nice little terrace, maybe with veggies as it does get the sun but who knows??

Broken down wall and cronky steps nicely accentuated by an abandoned gas canister..

What's this round the corner in the backyard? Rubbles and a fridge which next door apparently pushed through onto our side before they put up the fence!! How nice of them, a moving in present perhaps?

And a nice little outbuilding - erm, not so much - the roof has caved in and it's a mass of ivy now. To be ignored!

I’ve been getting frustrated with carrying around additional weight since December/January/February. It was not so bad back then as it was cold and clothes were heavier and less revealing of flab. Also, I was blithely confident that I would shed the extra poundage relatively quickly so it didn’t offend me as much.

But it is now May, the start of summer and I’m still a stone heavier than I was last summer/autumn. Others in the blogging community have been diligently working away at getting rid of their Christmas puddings and most have achieved this already and emerged, if not butterfly like, at least not lumpen, blinking into the early spring sunshine. Not me. Grrrr.

I have looked back over my posts and see that I have started several attempts to actually lose some weight over the last few months but not followed through AT ALL. Worse, I have talked about starting. I have said that I’m “getting round to” starting. But have not done anything in honest reality.

I have, at best, stopped the rot and stopped gaining weight. I have not put on any weight for a few months now and have settled at this level without too much difficulty. But I’m not happy with this level and I’m also mightily a’feared that if I stay here for the summer I’ll gain another stone next winter and thus will start the great slide down the slippery slope. To continue with the analogy, I was last summer residing on a comfortable, sunny ledge near to the top of the mountain. I’ve now descending to a slightly scrubbier slope, less grassy and more shaded but still not bad. I do NOT want to trundle blindly further back down into the dark, dank valley below….

I’m just eating and drinking too many treats and not doing sufficient exercise. It’s as simple as that. The classic curse of a being in a happy, settled new relationship. I remember reading all those Slimming World/WW/LL/CD success stories and loads of them cite moving in with a new partner as a cue for gaining weight. No excuses though, Richard doesn’t seem to have put on any weight (although to be fair he is probably eating more healthily and doing more exercise than before!!)

I have, therefore, prepared a 30 day table on which I am recording my daily weight, food (in general terms) and exercise. I'm calling it P2P (payday to payday as I coincidentally started it on my payday - perhaps I'll treat myself to something nice if I lose some proper weight this month!?) It’s worked before (when I’ve stuck to it) and it’s going to work again. If it does not, I will rethink. I WILL lose this stone THIS summer.

By way of an incentive, we’re going on holiday around September somewhere hot involving a pool, maybe the sea and lots of lovely golf courses (probably Turkey) and I want to be proud of myself during that trip. I want to look and feel good, be fit and active and be able to enjoy it to the full.

As a postscript, it is so refreshing to be able to write about a weight gain without fear. Without excuses and without “side”. With D I would have been scared of the abuse which would inevitably follow and crushed by the sense of failure and shame. I would have been in a world of desperation and my only recourse would have been to hide: in food; in drink; from the world; behind a full face of make up; however I could. God, it was a sad time and a wonder I managed to haul myself out of it at all. Thank God for Lighter Life. And thank God I've found a bloke who loves me for me, unconditionally.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

I'm back baby!

Well, BT is definitely better than Sky. Not brilliant by any means but their customer service seems to be more reliable and there has been less outright lying than with Sky. The telephone line was meant to be active on Monday 9th May but wasn’t. I was pretty full on at work so didn’t report the fault ‘til Thursday and was told it would be this Wednesday before it could be fixed. Sigh but what can you do? So I was pleasantly surprised to receive a text from Richard on Friday afternoon saying that the BT engineer was there and working on the line. We were all fixed by Friday night and got round to sorting the broadband and mobile phone signal booster over the weekend. We’re back in the 21st century! I’m still bewildered as to why it takes over 5 weeks to activate a phone line though….

It was a quiet but pleasant weekend. We had Rich’s dad and stepmum over to watch the FA Cup final on Saturday and for dinner afterwards so Saturday morning was spent cooking and cleaning while Rich was at work. I quite like it to be honest; it is a spur to get on with sorting out the house which is gradually coming into shape. So by lunchtime the house was full of nice flowers and fresh baking….felt very Martha Stewart.

It’s strange, considering how much I like football, that I can’t remember ever sitting down in a group to watch the FA Cup final. I suppose I lived abroad as a child when it was a big event, then boarding school where it was not really on the agenda in the girls’ boarding houses and then Uni chaos and thereafter living with a man who hated football. So, although I have watched various finals over the years, I have never made an event of it. And I really enjoyed it. 4 people who all enjoy football and follow the game, all supporting Stoke (well, you can’t have everything) and 3 dogs intent on ensuring that we couldn’t concentrate on the game at all!!

Yes, Minty did not cover herself in glory on the hostess front. Poor old Wispa (a lovely natured but slightly wimp-y chocolate lab) could not understand why she hated him so much. Being a dog accustomed to universal love and affection the growling, snapping and barking must have been very painful. Even during a walk in the fields together before the game when she would normally unwind and relax a bit Minty wasn’t having any of his friendly overtures. Hours later you could see him peeking round the corner of the sofa at her with a hopeful smile only to slapped down by a blood curdling growl. Shelagh was gracious but essentially uninterested although she at least participated in the greeting sniffs and administered a couple of wags.

I love cooking for people, especially appreciative eaters. Carolyn was very appreciative in the way that women who generally do all the cooking themselves tend to be. “Yay, a meal I’ve not planned and cooked myself and no washing up!!”. Gordon though is a notoriously picky eater (which probably explains his wiry physique, still the same size as he was in his teens…). Despite that, he went for seconds without being pressed and had dessert which is, apparently, pretty rare. It’s pandering to the male love of comfort foods I think – sausage casserole on a chilly, rainy day with really good quality Lincolnshire sausages from our local Farm Shop and creamy mash followed by spicy apple crumble cake….not exotic but tasty.

No golf on Sunday as my usual playing partners were unavailable so I took the opportunity of finally having a landline and phoned the family for long chats. It is nice to be back in touch from home again. Hopefully I will be seeing more of my parents now that the move is over and I have got the old house under control. A milestone has been reached in that Dad invited Rich over for Sunday lunch in a couple of weekend’s time when my brother will be over from Canada on a flying visit. He has been working up to meeting Rich and I’m glad it’s not been postponed for too much longer. I think he wanted to know that the divorce was all but sorted which has a sort of logic about it. I’m glad I’ve not pushed him although I did find it frustrating a couple of months ago. Rich is thrilled, as you can imagine, to be meeting both my father and brother at the same time!! Ha ha ha I think it’ll be easier though, having more people, less pressure, more conversation.

I also did a couple of hours gardening in the rain (well, very light but persistent misty drizzle). The garden is, as you will see from the “before” photos which I'll get up soon, an absolute wilderness. The landlord has promised to landscape the front, although I’m suspecting he will need some pushing on this front, so I am concentrating on the side garden. We sprayed the weeds but this has only had limited effect and the dead weeds still need to be removed physically. In a 2 hour stint I managed to clear one bed and a strip of what will be the lawn of approximately 3 foot by 10 foot….gulp…. There is a great deal more to do.

So, I’m setting myself small targets – an hour here and there to get the lawn clear; then bring in an expert to lay the turf (too back-breaking for my liking); then the patio to be properly tackled; then some planting of beds. After that little lot there is still the outer wilderness to be thought about (perhaps some veggies?) and the rear yard which is a disgrace. It is going to take ages but I’m going to do it right. I will also be roping Richard into the effort as he has been mostly absent so far…..hmmm. Now that there’s no football on Saturday afternoons for a while I’m earmarking some of those for serious effort…he has been warned. I also need to do some research into suitable planting for shady zones as there are far too many trees for my liking – more nagging of the landlord methinks.

So, all in all, a lovely, loving, home-based weekend. I used to dread a weekend with nothing major planned: if D was home then it would be a weekend spent in the pub; if he was away I would feel lonely and left out. Now I realise that if you’re happy at home you don’t have to be out socialising all the time. I love my big nights out and weekends away but I also love staying at home with Rich, doing stuff during the day then curling up on the sofa watching golf, football, a film or silly comedy and just chilling. Heaven.

And, as this (used to be) a weight loss and fitness blog, I’d better report that, despite my holiday and nights out, I’m still hovering in the same place weight wise. I know I should really get on with actually losing but can’t quite make myself get round to it yet….it’s coming….

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The things you do...

When you have no internet or phone at home! I feel like I'm living in the 19th century. It doesn't bother me that much but I do miss certain conveniences:.

  • Beings able to check stuff online outside of work (bank account, email, phone bills, facebook, blogs). While I check blogs on my phone I do feel out of touch and it's slow. And I can't post as much...I miss it!! Nuff said.

  • Having long chats with my family or friends of a quiet evening. At the moment this entails seizing random opportunites (like being in a hotel with decent mobile signal or lunchtimes at work) or standing very still in the bedroom with 1 bar of signal which wavers in and out and repeatedly being cut off and having to redial.....grrrrr

  • Being able to receive text messages instantly. Now you do get them albeit sporadically if you remember to leave thephone on the windowsill but then have to check the phone from time to time. It can be frustrating.

I makes me realise how used to can get to new things. I would never have thought I would miss the internet or my mobile phone even just 5 years ago, they were "optional" extras to my life.

But, on the flip side, there are things I appreciate about being off the radar:

  • Rich and I don't sit on separate sofas surfing on our separate laptops. Admittedly we didn't do a lot of that but it was not something I particularly liked and he does have a tendency to get lost in golf websites searching for the perfect driver/shirt/golfing break which I do not miss. (He'd probably say the same about me blogging though....whoops!)

  • I can definitely do without mindlessly wading through Facebook reading inane statuses and looking at pictures of other peoples' holidays. I like to dip in and out but less is more on the FB front.

  • More dog walks, golf, gardening, cooking, chatting. Less timestealing computer stuff. Go Real Life!!

So, here I am, during my lunchbreak at work, sitting in the darkest, most cavelike Wetherspoon pub you have ever seen....honestly, I thought I was going to rediscover Golm and his precious ring amidst a cavern of stalachtites and stalagmites I have ventured so far from the doorway and any source of natural light. (As an aside, why are so many Wetherspoon pub called such strange names? Why would a pub in central Rotherham be named "The Rhinoserous"? I've serached for a clue among the decor but the pub is stubbornly silent about its name...)

But the wifi is free and reliable and the sandwich and diet coke cheap so not complaining.

The valuer was pleasingly positive about the house, my hard work and possible sale prospects. I still have a couple more to see before it goes on the market but at least it wasn't bad news.

Golf in the morning was excellent too; I won!! To be exact I have picked up the Betty Carson Trophy for winning the Stableford Final. Yay - go me!! My handicap came down too. I'm so pleased to have had a good round finally. It has been threatening as I've been playing well but have always thrown in a bad hole or 2 to scupper my score. This time I managed to keep the whole round tidy (bar the 17th) and came in 3 under par. Really gratifying. And nice to know that I've got some silverware so early in the season and that my name will be going up on a board in the clubhouse for posterity. I'm sure it's been the fact that I'm playing regularly and not just at my home course. Playing at different courses with Rich and his mates has toughened me up a bit and made me more consistent, thoughtful and less risk-taking.

I can't think of a handy analogy in real life though so I won't try and shoe-horn some wisdom into this blog. I'll just crow a bit - I won. I won .I won.

So, home, sporting and romantic life going well and work too. Sorry to be so Pollyanna about this but sometimes I really love my job. Not always obviously. But sometimes I really feel that it is using my skills to their best effect. I'm not a grinder. My legal skills are certainly not the best ("detail/schmetail" is probably not the motto of top quality solicitors). But I am good at negotiating, bargaining, explaining, cajoling, selling, apportioning risk, giving men (it tends to be men) an "out" or face-saving option to allow them to agree to things which they don't want to but have to agree to. In other words I can do a deal. I'm really good in meetings where awkward things have to be said and awkward concepts faced.

So today, I've just come out of a meeting with a certain well known supermarket chain where we the Council did not stick to the pre-ordained script of dim-witted public servants slavishly willing to accept anything in return for a shiny new supermarket beads but stuck to our carefully negotiated guns and came out with everything we wanted. Yes folks, that's everything! So satisfying and so good for Rotherham I hope.

Well I've blathering on for too long now - see what happens when I don''t blog often enough -my back aches from typing at a pub table and I can't see much due to the womblike dimness. I had better go. I hope you're all trundling along nicely and getting some sunshine amid the showers. Adios amigos!! xxx

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Still here just no internet!!

I feel as though I haven't blogged for an age. Still no phone or internet....grinds teeth.

I've had 2 weeks off too. We had a lovely break over Easter and the Bank Holidays. Lots of golf and a romantic trip to Bristol. Well, romantic but it did include a trip to Bristol Rovers for the last away game of the season....

I then worked like stink on my old house for a week and eventually after a back-breaking round of cleaning, clearing, scrubbing, painting and gardening got it looking acceptable. Not perfect but pretty good. It can go on the market very soon! Wish me luck....

So a very mixed holiday and now back to work. Nice to get back in, read all the emails and discover that there have been no disasters....phew!

I'll hopefully get back to regular blogging very soon but wanted to pop in and say hello and that I'm still holding on. Hope you are too!