Monday, 27 June 2011

A weekend of 2 halves

Some pics from our walk on Sunday afternoon. Here Minty is tired out before we have really started due to an early bout of swallow chasing..
The girls enjoying a dip at the halfway point, lucky beggars! The water level at the reservoir is very low at the moment..
The delicious Bamford Edge from the dam wall.The favourite swallow field, this time at the end of our walk. I don't know where they got the energy from, we were certainly flagging by that time.

Saturday was grey, drizzly, downright rainy to be honest and cool. Nothing seems like fun on a day like that. Nonetheless, I headed out for my run with the girls undaunted by the fact that my muscles were still stiff from personal training on Thursday morning. As an aside, I don’t know what Huw did differently last week, but my glutes and inner thighs were ACHING. Sitting down or getting up out of a seated position was torment! Buoyed by this ammunition, my chimp spent a good 30 minutes working on me while I lay in bed - “you’re too sore to run” “you need to rest” “we can go for a run later” etc etc etc but I heeded her not. I eventually swung myself, gingerly, out of bed, dressed in my running gear (I’ve noticed that I’m less likely to bottle out if I’m already wearing the gear) and summoned the dogs.

I’m beginning to love my Saturday morning run now. It is getting easier to motivate myself out of the house and easier to enjoy too. I do not run fast and the route is pleasant but I certainly feel as though I’ve had a work out when I get home after 50/55 minutes. It’s a good route – across the fields so lots of stiles and gates to give me a breather and the dogs like it ‘cos they can do their doggie sniffing business unhindered by the lead. There are some decent hilly stretches but not so steep as to kill me and a nice long gentle downhill on the way home. I reckon it’s about 4.5 miles which is respectable.

Once the run was out of the way, it was chores, shopping and the usual Saturday routine. But sometimes you’re so tired you just can’t make yourself do much. It was a rare quiet weekend so in theory we should have been roaring through chores and tackling the garden. We didn’t. We were just tired and felt heavy and lethargic. We ended up snoozing for most of the afternoon and then finally dragging ourselves out for a nice evening walk culminating in a few early doors drinks with the dogs at the White Hart. So, it ended up being a good day. An uncharacteristically quiet Saturday perhaps but a good one.

With hindsight, I’m pleased we caught up on sleep and rest though ‘cos Sunday was a killer. We both played golf in the morning, separately and then met up for lunch afterwards. Then we headed out for a proper doggie walk in the afternoon. It ended up being longer than intended and warmer too. 3 hours later, the dogs were knackered, we were knackered, legs were achy but I did at least feel as though I’d taken proper advantage of the sunshine and the fresh air.

The dogs were particularly exhausted because it is swallow chasing season once again. We took them on an old walk near our former village for a change and they remembered this particular field as prime swallow territory and hared off after them. They were not disappointed and spent the next 15 minutes running their little doggie legs off, ears flapping like baby Dumbos, yipping and barking like crazed hounds from hell. They hadn’t allowed for the fact that we still had 5 miles to go and spent the next few miles panting like miniature steam engines alongside us; Minty flopping down on cool, grassy verges from time to time and looking up at me like it was all MY fault! It was so strange to have the dogs alongside us or even behind us when we’re so used to them powering on ahead. He he he Luckily, the halfway point of the walk was at a reservoir so they could have a swim and a good slurp to revive themselves. By the time we returned to the “swallow field” they were re-energised and off for another spin. They’re mental wee beasties but it’s so nice to see them running free.

And nice to spend a few hours tramping up and down a shady path with Richard, too. He was brought up near the reservoir as a child and his mum still lives there so was full of those stories which are so fascinating when you first get to know someone. You know the ones - about where he and his pals used to play as children; what it was like back in the day “it was all fields here when I were a lad” etc etc; how they used to trespass up the overflow pipe from the reservoir to stand at the bottom of the giant sink hole below the water level (which frankly sounds terrifying but like something I’d really like to do!) and where he’d pick mushrooms with his dad on early summer mornings. It’s nice hearing all that stuff, filling in the gaps.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Olympic Tickets

Another sunny walk ending up in the pub....
I know it's bit dull but it's a classic dry stone wall and very beautiful in its way.
Nearly there....

Grrrrr I’m grinding my teeth and gnashing a bit. I was sooo excited to discover a couple of weeks ago that £186 had been taken from my Visa account which meant I had been successful in buying at least some tickets. I was hopeful that it might be the Mens’ 100m final, the Mens’ tennis final at Wimbledon but I suspected it would be a selection of lesser tickets coming to that total. I was right – but unfortunately it was not the greatest combination. 2 lots of the same sport on consecutive days. That’s a pain. Worse was finding out that it was boxing.

Now I quite like boxing and no doubt there will be a good atmosphere in the Excel arena but I’m hacked off that I got 2 lots and not a sniff of other more attractive sports. I had tried for all sorts – archery, mountain biking, rowing, triathlon, athletics of course, swimming, beach volleyball. And I got 2 lots of boxing.

And now, due to the vagaries of the system, as I have “been successful” I don’t get priority in the second chance ballot which starts tomorrow. I’m gutted as I suspect you will have more chance getting tickets in that than in the first ballot and there are still some good sports left like rowing, athletics, equestrian, beach volleyball etc..

I’m trying to tag along with my mate Jim (the honorary girl pal who I go to the footie with) as he didn’t get anything first time round but not sure how successful he’ll be. Perhaps he’ll delegate the trying to me and I can spend a happy hour or so from 6am tomorrow in frustration at the crashed website which will, no doubt, be the result of this somewhat chaotic system??

As a major sports lover, I really want to be part of this games and will be sad if boxing is all I get. Maybe tickets will start to come available nearer the time – probably on ebay etc but I had hoped that by planning early I would actually be organised for a change. Thwarted. Sigh….

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Some sunny pics to cheer up this grey showery day.
The view from my spare bedroom's what I see when I work from home.

I suspect Week One will be mostly standing still given that my gluttonous weekend caught up with me!! But, in a way, even that doesn't bother me. I'm pleased that I'm still standing on the scales every morning, visualising being slimmer and putting exercise and moderation into practise. I haven't been disillusioned by the slow start. Really, I have all the time in the world as long as I'm heading in the right direction.

This is the difference between now and before. Before I had timetables in my head. I HAD to get somewhere as quickly as possible because I was waiting for my life to start once I lost weight. I was waiting for things between D and me to magically get better once I'd jumped through the weightloss hoop and, therefore, given how unhappy I was, I was in a big hurry.

Now, I'm living my life and just want to make it a fitter, slimmer and healthier life.

So, what am I doing differently? I'm sticking to sensible breakfasts - muesli and fruit. I'm cutting way back on the snacks from the office table of evil. While I do still indulge it's usually the odd strange foreign boiled sweets rather than a handful of choccie biscuits! I'm making myself go running and swimming.

Yesterday I very nearly didn't go swimming but then, when I'd almost given up on it and started my sandwich, got a text from Rich asking me if I'd made it to swimming. This karmic hint was enough to make me put my snadwich down, pick up my gym bag and head off to the pool. I'm so glad I did as I felt great - 50 lengths of very smooth, reasonably quick front crawl.

Today I'm working from home (it's lunchtime before you smirk!!) and I'm planning on dodging the showers and taking the dogs out for a run. In fact I'm looking forward to it! Trouble is, it's sunny now and I really want to go out now!

So,although I don't think Week One will be pulling up any trees, I'm hopeful for the rest of P2P2.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Busy weekend

I like having them once in a while but I wouldn’t want all weekends to be like that! Rich was away golfing from Friday morning through to Saturday evening in Skegness (the Captain’s away day) so I made a point of arranging things with girly pals. It worked out really well – too well to be fair.

Friday evening was a spot of culture. I went with my footballing buddies, Kerry and Jim (honourable girl pal) with his non-footballing girlfriend Kate, for an off-season outing to the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield to see a performance of Taming of The Shrew. Yes, it was outdoors. Yes, it rained. But it was brilliant and extremely English. (Pause for thought – should that be British? Do the Scots, Welsh and Irish also sit out in rainy gardens watching plays and having picnics or is their weather just too unreliable to countenance such weirdness or their people too sensible??)

Anyway, we had a lovely picnic with wine and strawberries and somehow made it work through the showers and general dampness by wearing waterproofs, hats, travel rugs over knees and raising umbrellas during intervals. The actors were lucky as the rain mainly held off during the performance on the entirely uncovered stage, only falling beforehand and during the interval. They were excellent; very professional, very amusing and totally convincing despite there being only 5 of them to play all the characters which involved each one playing at least 2 parts and women having to play mens’ parts as well. But it was done with such aplomb and wit that you hardly noticed. I know little about it, but suspect that they must have been very good actors to carry it off. As proof of the pudding we left with plans to come again to see their performance of Pride and Prejudice later in the summer (Jim was not quite as keen on this option and was pushing for Pinocchio instead!).

Saturday morning was a 50 minute run in the sunshine and the weekly shop. Somewhat rushed because I had to get to the train at midday to go to Manchester to meet the Velodrome Girls! Yay! I love it when a plan comes together so I was really pleased that my suggestion of meeting up was well met and that we managed to find a suitable date so quickly. These were the women who took part with me in that TV Show in 2009 and 2010. Although we’re all in touch through Facebook, we haven’t met up in real life since last spring and there was much to talk about!

Me leaving D and my new relationship with Rich (not so new now!); Kathryn leaving her husband and her new vocation as a midwife which she adores; Lindsay’s boob job (reduction and repositioning rather than augmentation); and Mandy’s new job, relationship issues and children growing up angst. It seems that meeting Steve Peters has had a fairly major effect on all of us. Our weight was of secondary importance although we have all learned loads about that too. It was wonderful to meet up without cameras staring us in the face and to be able to be honest and unguarded. Although we have not been friends for a long period and are not close in our everyday lives, we do get on well and seem to be able to get right to the heart of matters quickly; I suppose that comes from having met on a TV show exploring one’s innermost psyches!

We had a gorgeous lunch in a trendy restaurant in Manchester – Chichetti’s in Kendals. It’s a Venetian restaurant which is like an Italian version of a Spanish tapas restaurant; lots of small dishes to share. Very convivial and fun and extremely tasty, especially the gnocchi in a parmesan basket…mmmmmm…. Rather too much was eaten and drunk but hey – I’ll get back to losing ways on Monday!!

Then back home and straight back out to Castleton for Lisa’s hen night. Another lovely evening. It wasn’t a wild night with veils or weird dressing up just a group of us enjoying a nice meal and a few drinks and getting home by midnight. Perfect. Nice to spend time with old friends from Bamford who I don’t see so much of now that I’ve moved. I couldn’t do justice to the food so ended up having a seafood starter instead of a main but even then there was far too much delicious bread with olives and stuff floating around. And being full didn’t seem to stop me enjoying the wine and beer…hmmmm

I fear I may be starting P2P2 on the back foot but this doesn’t worry me – I must just commit to it and get going. Any loss is positive.

Sunday was all about golf – playing in the morning with Nigel and then watching all evening with Rich. After walking the dogs in the afternoon sunshine, we collapsed in front of the telly to watch Rory McIlroy play a blinder at the US Open. What a star! 22 years of age and leading the world’s best by 8 shots. And looking cool and happy the whole way round. I love seeing a sportsman or woman with a smile on their face – not keen on the whole grimace of triumph thing espoused by Tiger Woods or even Andy Murray. After all, they are literally PLAYING their sport – why not smile and enjoy their talent rather than make it into a quasi war?

So, all in all, it was a great weekend but I’m looking forward to the resumption of normal life this week. Which started with dancing last night – yay!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

P2P1 - The Final Reckoning

Just some random shots taken from a recent evening walk up Bradwell Edge. Gorgeous poppies - I have "flower envy" due to my rubbish garden this year so am stooping to nicking shots of other peoples' flowers as I walk low can I go?!

Did you notice that I've re-dubbed it P2P1 thus cunningly allowing for a sequel... Yes, I'll be back fighting next month in P2P2.

Yes, yes I can hear you clamouring for the results.... P2P1 was not a total bust. I managed to lose 2.4lbs overall.


I made a start. This is pretty huge as inertia is a big thing for me and i can procrastinate for England.

I lost weight. Reasonable amounts for 3 out of 4 weeks. Not much, admittedly, but I weigh less this month than I did last month. If I were to lose 2.4lbs every month for a year I would lose over 2 stone in that year.

The chart works. It taught me something about myself and my exercise routine. It kept me focussed and accountable.

I had brilliant, busy month and enjoyed life unencumbered by "dieting".

I re-introduced running into my fitness regime and it is slowly getting easier.


I only lost 2.4lbs over the period of a month. I was aiming for 5-6lbs.

I had a spectacularly bad week when I gained 5.6lbs! Yikes.

My food intake was still pretty loose - quite a few unnecessary sweets and pints were consumed. I need to keep on top of this as it is probably mot sustainable longterm.

So, there is lot of good and some not so good and plenty of hope and enthusiasm for next months and P2P2. Wish me luck.

In other news I'm in the middle of a really busy weekend so there is no time for other news. I'll try and get back to you tomorrow....byee

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Collective wisdom

I logged in the check if any comments and find 3 waiting for me. Just what I need right now and all so sensible and helpful.

Yes, keep on going, see what happens and try again. And, snivels reluctantly, a food diary....

I went for a good long run last night and played golf this morning and I'm currently resisting with all my might unauthorised treats (working from home is a bit of a bugger for that). With a fair wind I hope to peel off a couple of lbs by the Saturday deadline and just scrape under for the P2P.... If so, I will count myself lucky and try harder next month. If not, I'll whinge a bit then try harder next month!!

Thanks chicks!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

P2P Challenge going badly wrong...

Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed that you didn’t receive an update of Week 3 of the P2P Challenge. Being brutally honest with myself (only slightly belatedly), this is because it went very badly indeed. I have been, quietly, in shock trying to work out what has gone on.

To recap:

Week 1 – loss of 2.8 lbs

Week 2 – loss of 1 lb

Week 3 – drumroll please……….. – gain of 5.2 lbs!!!

And I have no idea why!! It’s quite depressing. I had hoped that it was some form of temporary water weight and, indeed, it did seem to be coming off but then reappeared so I must reluctantly discount that theory. While I did have my cousin and sister visiting so had been doing a little more cooking and eating than normal, it was by no means an eating fest. Not much drinking and only a few extra treats. Realistically, I had expected that I wouldn’t lose anything that week and was prepared for that but to pile on 5 lbs! In a week. It doesn’t seem right. We had been very active too – lots of walking and sight-seeing. So, all in all, a puzzle and an annoying one at that.

I have mulled for a few days trying to work out what might have happened. I suspect it is partly time of the month as I do have that bloaty feel so hope that I’ll have a decent week soon. But also, looking back at my wall chart, I note that my almost daily exercise changed from a mixture of golf/walking with swimming, personal training and running as well to mostly walking. So, it appears that I have been kidding myself that walking (other than really strenuous, brisk hill walks) cuts the mustard. Although the walks with my sister and cousin were quite long and we were tired afterwards, looking back I realise that we did walk very slowly and avoid the biggest hills because my sister has a bad knee so they must have been less than useless in the fat-burning stakes.

Also, because I had to take time off I had cancelled personal training that week and couldn’t fit in a lunchtime swim because I was trying to get my work finished off in time.

I therefore conclude that I need to do challenging aerobic exercise in order to lose weight. Sad but true. I therefore went for a run on Saturday morning and I’m going for another one tonight while Rich is at golf.

I’m hoping that, with hard work over the next few days, week 4 will bring a loss of a couple of lbs so that, after the full month of the P2P challenge, I will not have gained but will not have lost much if anything. This does not, however, stop me trying again next month. I will just have to work harder and keep at it until I get it right.

It certainly demonstrates the value of the wall chart; my chimp CANNOT hide the facts from me and it makes analysis of where WE (Chimpetta and I) went wrong easier as well. Perhaps I should add the dreaded food diary for a few weeks too?? I hate them but they do keep you accountable.

I certainly have the motivation. I have seen certain photos of myself taken unawares by my cousin and I’ve definitely strayed into “Fatty Territory” from the former “Pleasantly Plump Zone”. This was confirmed last night in the large studio mirrors at dancing. I was wearing ¾ length jeans and low heels for dancing and my a*s is huge!! It cannot be allowed to go on this way. I want to go on holiday in the autumn back in Pleasantly Plump….. (Hey Peri – your habit of naming the various stages of weight loss must be catching….fancy that!)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

And I thought I was bad....

My Canadian cousin puts me to shame on the taking photographs front. I often find myself lagging behind people while I take yet another shot of a pretty view/flower/detail or forcing people to pose for yet another snap. Then I spend ages touching the shots up, resizing them and uploading them onto Facebook or my blog. I think I must use up hours and hour each month on my camera. But I love it so that’s fine.

Then I spent a few days with my lovely Canadian cousin Sue. And I realised that I was but a rank amateur. She takes hundreds, no, thousands of pictures. She has an eye for detail too. Where I see the sweeping vista, the cute doggie or the laughing friend, she sees the intricate detail in a piece of lace, the beauty in a deepset window casement, the juxtaposition of a bright blue fishing boat against a limestone city, or an ancient climbing rose against an aging wall.

No nook is too humble to excite her interest. I was surprised to discover about 30 pics of my neighbourhood taken on our 20 minute dogwalk round the block before we went out one morning. She had spotted dozens of little visual morsels which I must walk past every week without note. And I'm relatively observant!!

How wonderful then to take Sue around my most loved sights and see them afresh through her camera lens as well as my own. My sister came to visit too so the 3 of us spent Friday morning poking around the pretty market (and tourist) town of Bakewell and then the afternoon going around the gorgeous Haddon Hall.

Bakewell is as twee as it is lovely. If you look at it in one light you could overdose on cutesey-ness. It is stuffed full of the usual “fayre” – chintzy tea shops, tourist tat-laden “gifte shoppes”, farm shops, deli’s, shops selling stuff that could only appeal to the visitor – designer clothes, Edinburgh woollen products (Really? In Derbyshire?), fancy cookware, woven baskets, obscure whiskys. If there was ever a world shortage of tea towels a call could be made to Bakewell and a full year’s supply could be found residing there. If you’re seeking a fridge magnet sporting a witty homily, look no further.

My limited spoils comprised a tea towel with a recipe for the eponymous pudding and, as a small (and ironic I’m sure) gift from my sister, 2 drinks coasters bearing a picture of a blue roan cocker spaniel looking remarkably like Shelagh set against a moorland setting. (Actually the coasters came in handy as, when we got home, I discovered that Minty had eaten one in her rage at being left behind!!)

And then there’s the Bakewell Puddings themselves. Not to be mixed up with the terrible Mr Kipling creation of the Bakewell TART, the Bakewell pudding is a wonderfully subtle treat – a pastry base with a layer of jam and a layer of baked almond paste. Not gooey like a custard pie but flakey and light and not-too-sweet. History has it that it was discovered by happy accident. There are not one but 3 different shops all claiming to have the “original” recipe but who cares who is right – I think Bloomers is the best and they’re all delicious!

Despite the twee-ness, I love Bakewell. I love the fact that it is still a real market town with a well used weekly market, a great monthly Farmers’ Market, a huge agricultural market, a decent supermarket and a large variety of “proper” shops and trendy restaurants, bistros, cafes and pubs which don’t just serve the tourists but keep the locals happy too. I like the beauty of it – the ancient packhorse bridge as you drive in (which creates a bottleneck but against which the willow tree looks so fine); the ducks and geese fighting for the tourist crumbs; the fattest rainbow trout you have ever seen fighting with the ducks and geese for the tourist crumbs. It’s a lovely place and I like visiting once every few weeks, even though I wouldn’t like to live there….

The greedy rainbow trout of Bakewell

Canada Geese goslings sunning themselves..

The packhorse bridge

And Haddon Hall was simply brilliant. I’ve been several times with various visitors over the years and everyone I have taken there has loved it. It’s the ancient stately home of the Manners family. They still live there. In fact I saw the Duke rushing somewhere with a file on this visit and his whole family last time decanting from their car with their selection of dogs (tatty terriers and muddy spaniels). The hall had been built by the Vernons back in the year dot (one wall dates from 1195) but they died out so a cousin from a distance branch had to take over, enter the Manners in 1567! The house has melded the 2 coats of arms throughout so, from the topiary sculptures which greet you as you arrive, there are the wildboar heads of the Vernons side by side with the peacocks of the Manners everywhere you look. One of the Manners women (Grace I think) was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick who REALLY gets around. But what a place.

Its beauty comes from the fact that the family abandoned it in 1703 and went to live in the more modern comfort of Belvoir Castle…God some people have all the luck. They just turned the key and left. It was only in the first decade of the last century that the current Duke’s grandfather inherited as a bored and history-obsessed man in his early 20’s. He made saving and preserving Haddon Hall his life’s work but rather than “improving” he merely preserved. Replaced the roof with something close to the original and then stabilised the rest of the place with love and attention. So all the mediaeval and tudor glory of it is untouched. The original tudor (possibly even older) kitchens; the Great Hall; the Solar; the rose gardens; the Long Gallery. They're all there and they’re all lovely. From the intricate silver wall sconces to the tapestries (not really my thing but vibrant even now) to the oak furniture which I could hardly stop myself from stroking down to the bombee leaded glass windows. It is a place full of stunning detail, well-presented and just incredibly OLD.

Signatures of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, King George and his wife Queen Mary!!

My sister, sue and me enjoying the sunshine

There were several clever presentational touches – instead of cards on each (ancient and frail) chair warning against sitting down there was a small bouquet comprising a teasel and a thistle wrapped in a ribbon – pretty but functional too. And there were huge vases and jugs of flowers and branches of greenery everywhere so the rooms looked alive and you started to get excited about visiting the gardens well before you got to them. The guides and wardens were well informed, unobtrusive and interesting too. They added a lot because their obvious love for the house shone out.

We spent hours there and really loved it. And now I have my cousin’s lovely photos to remind me too (I forgot my camera!!).

So, if you’re ever in the Peak District with half a day to fill – think of Haddon Hall. Although I love Chatsworth, I think I love Haddon Hall more. It is smaller, fits effortlessly into its gorgeous Derbyshire setting, is more manageable, more approachable and somehow, more remarkable. The Dukes of Devonshire are one of the “grandest” families in the land but the Manners have stuck to their guns and looked after Haddon for longer and to amazing effect.