Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sad sometimes

Isn't it weird how you can be trotting along quite nicely and suddenly feel like everything is on top of you?  Well, that's me today.  I've been working hard (am working from home), not over-eaten, been for a run and done some household chores so it's been quite a productive day but the blue feeling has just built and built. 

The trouble is, Shelagh has picked up on it and won't leave me alone...she's pawing at me and wants to be on my lap and stare into my eyes which just makes me feel more emotional.  Minty was the same earlier.

I want to talk to Rich about it but I also want to be sure that I'm not just over-reacting and putting everything on him.  It's one thing to ask for support and a cuddle but it's another if part of the reason you feel sad is because the person you want support from is the one who seems increasingly distant and unromantic and that's what is making you sad.

I feel sort of silly seeking "romance" but it's more than that.  It's wanting to guard the love affair that we have.  Not to let it slide into mediocrity.  And to acknowledge that nothing is perfect and everything can slip once in a while.  Well, I feel that we're slipping now and that makes me sad.  I MUST summon up the bravery to talk about it to him.  I know it sounds silly but after all these years the learned behaviour of avoidance and appeasement is still strong in me.  I MUST not bottle it up and just talk to him - he's not an ogre and would be hurt to kow how hard this is for me.

But also, I must try and see this from his point of view too - not blame and say how everything is about what HE does.  It's mostly a problem of perception I feel.  I don't seriously doubt him but need more reassurance than he seems to want to give.  I suspect that the happier and more secure HE feels, the less reassurance and security he gives me but I don't know and need to just ask him.

I hate feeling sad like this though.

I used to have a friend back in University days - Sandra - we've lost touch I'm afraid.  She used to say - don't be afraid of your feelings, if you feel sad, embrace it, acknowledge it, it's your truth.  I used to think  - rubbish - you can just smile your way through it and jolly well cheer yourself up!  That to "wallow" is self-indulgent twaddle. 

Now I think there is probably a middle way, that sometimes there is value in acknowledging one's feelings and emotional states.  Although someitmes it is better just to get on with things and go for a walk!!

I wish though that I had not asked his brother over fro supper to go through some legal paperwork!  I could really do with a free evening to talk this through and I now I feel I'll have to be sociable and superficial!  Bad timing or what?

Anyway, I'm off to WI shortly - I strongly suspect it'll be another STS or hopefully a minimal drop.  I'm doing well for most of the week and then going out on a big day out (this week was an away coach trip to Blackpool!) which undoes all my efforts.  Hey ho - there are more important things to worry about I feel.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Aaaaargh! Treading water.

A few sunny pics of the dogs in the big field at the end of our road. I love this field - it's massive and full of interesting nooks and crannies.
I was surprised to find this sort of moat on top of a hillock right at the top of the field. I wonder if it is some sort of ancient dwelling/fort or summat. Must look into it.
Shelagh sticking to her grumpy guns.
Another view of the immortal Win Hill
As I suspected, I didn't lose any weight last week; I had a stay the same. So, in one way, I'm pleased with that as I REALLY didn't want to have a gain. A STS is manageable, just. Buut, I felt as though I did enough last week to lose some weight so was a little unhappy.

Hopefully though, as long as I keep faith with what I'm doing, keep tightening up my diet and exercise, the loss will catch up with me soon. Like Seren from WW Foodie this week, having a good loss after a couple of weeks of poor losses. She kept the faith and has been rewarded. I can do the same.

In other news, I've been experiencing a strong burst of spring-cleaning fever! I have at long last ventured down to the huge basement and liberated several assorted bags and boxes, sifted through the contents and either put away or arranged for their disposal. Most satisfying.

The huge basement is both a blessing and a curse. When we moved into this house last spring, Richard had to move out of the flat he had been living in for the last 10 years. It was small but FULL. Because he'd effectively moved out 6 months earlier, his motivation to clear and pack in an orderly fashion was looow. So, although he did chuck out a huge amount of stuff, we also ended up, through inertia and lack of time, bringing far too much to this house. We chucked it all in the basement the week before we moved in properly and there most of it has stayed.

The trouble is, I already had lots of furniture and household stuff from my house and the cottage we rented so we didn't actually need most of his (not as nice) things. I have had a few half-hearted attempts at tackling the basement and unpacked a few boxes of kitchen gear and books but that is it.

But finally, with thought of spring on the distant horizon, I seem to have found the energy required to tackle the bags and boxes with sustained vigour. This mostly involves dragging tatty carrier bags or damp boxes upstairs, sifting through the tat inside and consigning most of it to the recycling/bin. It has, however, yielded a few decents finds. Quantities of useful household stuff - kitchen cleaning products, bathroom stuff, a pair of slippers, spare duvet covers and sheets, towels, tea towels, christmas cards, wrapping paper, birthday cards - all handy stuff.

The frustration comes from the realisation that last April when I was skint I went out and bought 2 sets of bedroom curtains which I didn't need. I found today 2 quite pleasant sets of curtains which with a wash and iron would have been perfect and would have saved me hard cash. Grrr...

There is still much to be done but a good start has been made. Hopefully this home spring-cleaning will lead to gardening when the weather can but dream!

Monday, 23 January 2012

No movement but lots of walking.....

We went for a walk on Sunday afternoon. The weather forecast confidently asserted that it would be sunny and the winds would drop by midday but, I'm sorry to report, this was not the case. It was really windy and raining as we arrived so we adjusted our route from 5.5 miles to 4 miles and I'm quite pleased we did - 4 was just enough! Especially as I had not realised that our route would include a 2 massive hills! I thought it would involve going down the hill into the valley and then walking out and back in a big loop. I didn't realise that the "back" was right back along the top of the top of hill before heading down to the bottom and then back up again!

Anyway, we start at Monsal Head with a nice steady downhill through the woods.

To the River Wye, flowing as fast as I've ever seen it, on the valley floor.

The lovely waterfall.  My map seemed to show us crossing the river at this weir/waterfall so I was pleased to see a little bridge just round the corner!

Everything was mossy and green.  Even though the trees are bare there was still plenty to look at and admire.

Even if its just the first rays of sunshine peeking over the hilltop.

Here we're halfway up the unexpected hill - it  was long and steep - and unexpected....

It didn't seem to faze Minty though - sticks were collected and disposed of the whole way up the hill but this one was the prize....far too big for her!

It was perfect timing - we just hit the top and an oldish woman walking on her own strode up behind us at a formidable pace.  I dared to ask her to break stride to take a photo of us together which she agreed to do "as long as it's idiot-proof!".  She did a pretty good job eh?  Most impromptu photographers tend to leave us hidden in a tiny corner, chop off feet or with our faces shaded.

I took this one - the oldish lady was long gone making us feel very unfit!

I'm glad we did have to climb the unexpected hill - the views werantastic and the wind was, erm, bracing.

Walking on a track running along the edge of the river valley - stunning - felt like we were on top of the world as it was so open and clear.

The boys on their noisy offroad bikes also enjoy the scenery - these ones were quite polite and thanked us for interrupting our walk to gather up the dogs to allow them to pass safely.  Many don't though which irritates me!

And back to the valley bottom, again. (A different bridge though.)

What comes down must go we are back at the top, nearly at the car.  What a view!

It was a lovely weekend as usual.  Football on Saturday (disappointing result  of a draw against Hartlepool).  A great dinner with my old schoolfriend Jenny and her partner Joff.  It was really nice and relaxed - Rich and Joff seemed to get on well and we had a good night.  To be repeated.  Nice to be able to socialise with both Jen and her OH.

I was pretty good foodwise as I chose to drive on Saturday night so healthy food (Jen always good that way) and only one glass of wine.

But the scales are not cooperating - there has been NO movement all week, either up or down!  So, hopefully I can sneak half a lb off tomorrow night - fingers crossed!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Bad timing

It was windy but fine first thing this morning.  It is sunny and clear, although still windy now.  But, for the 50 minutes when I was out running between then and now, it was foul!  Not that cold but raining hard and a swirling,howling gale and very muddy underfoot.  What an idiot I am.

But I had pledged to go for a run this morning last night, having got my usual Saturday shop out of the way yesterday lunchtime, so for a run I went!  Richard just texted me that I was mental and I believe him!

I had to shower both me and Minty afterwards as somewhere along our route, unseen by me, she rolled in something gross.  I couldn't identify exactly where the grossness was situated so had to soak and doggie shampoo every inch of her.  Even I felt sorry for her she looked so miserable!  Still, she is fragrant and fluffy now so all is worth it.

Dietwise, I don't seem to be doing very well - I'm not losing but not gaining either.  Don't know whether it is time of the month isues or whether I'm still eating too much.  Will stick to my guns for now, try and tighten up where I can and see how it goes on Tuesday.

We're going to the football this afternoon - Hartlepool at home.  I hope we can bounce back from our defeat against Charlton last Saturday.  We should do but it's getting nervy now!

After the footie we're going over to Glossop to have dinner with my pal Jenny and her partner Joff.  Rich has met Jen a few times but not Joff so I hope that goes well.

And I think, weather permitting, we're heading out for a good hike tomorrow.  So, with any luck I'll shift a couple of lbs!  Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, 20 January 2012

What a difference a day makes...

 It is an absolutely grotty day today.  Grey, cold, constant drizzly rain - not one redeeming feature.  In fact, it is so grotty that I was genuinely happy to be going to personal training this lunchtime as it meant I did not have to wrestle (probably unsucessfully) with my chimp to force us to go for a run!

So I thought I'd cheer myself up by having a look at some photos I took on Monday when I went for a run at lunchtime.  Care to join me for another jog??

As you can see the weather was quite a bit better!  It was one of those stunning but frozen days.  The temperature never went above freezing and the ground, even in the full sunshine, remained frosted all day.  (Great to run on as no slip-sliding in the mud.) 

You have seen pictures of this route before but that was on a grey, wet sort of day - it looks totally different with the pale blue sky and bright sunshine lighting the way.  Below is the beginning of the big Hazelbadge field at the end of our road.

Looking left towards Bradwell Edge and Abney

Looking back (with amateurish shadow in view) towards Win Hill.  We have already climbed a fair way by now so stopping to take a photo makes a pleasant break to pant!

After the big field we have to cross a road and head up this walled path.  It is shaded so dark and totally frozen over.  Crammed full of birdlife though.

My camera too a photo of me!  I had no idea until I uploaded the pics but I quite like it  (apart from the double chin).  At least I look happy to be out running.  Note silly headband to keep ears from falling off in the cold and floppy hair flying everywhere.  My hair is too short to tie back but too long to leave free - most irritating.

Minty disdainfully sniffs at stuff while waiting for me to to catch her up.

But, every now and then, my slow but steady pace fools them and they have to run to catch me up - Go Me!!

 At the end of that path, we emerge into the glorious sunshine again to a view of another dale (which we're not going down, or up).  We turn right along the lane back toward the other half of the village.  More hills.

I love the effect of looking back into the sunshine, and I love to see Minty's ears flapping when she runs!!

Looking right towards the Edge over a frozen water hole.

And left across the fields...

Heavily mossed long have they been there??

As I had stopped a few times for photograph-taking purposes, I decided to make myself run a bit further as penance. So I turned left up this lane to add a small extra loop (and a big extra hill!).

 Which then meant I was running DOWN this hill.  Which was pretty slippery.  I was, for once, pleased that the local farmers deposit great hanks of mud all over the roads as it gave a bit of grip on the road edges.

How's that for a view from this famhouse though??  I know farming is a hard slog and not always well rewarded financially but that view would make up for a fair bit!

Now we're right down at the bottom of the hill, next to the brook running through the middle of village.  It looked as though the brook was steaming but it was really just the vapour rising from the fast flow of water.

Across the brook is the newly refurbished childrens' playground (I didn't do this one - that was Bamford!) and, behind that, the church and the pub, just as it should be!!

All summer the brook was almost dry.  The Bradda Dads had to run water down it with firemens' hoses to be able to stage the Carnival Duck race!  Rumour has it that it was due to cavers diverting a stream but it could have just been choked with weeds.  Anyway, come winter and more rainfall it is back flowing strongly.  The Community Service boys (and girls for all I know) were in a few weeks ago clearing it of weeds and rubbish - so now it is pristine too!  I bet that was cold - I hope it teaches them not to go mugging old ladies or breaking into peoples' houses any more!

Hope you enjoyed our run - I'll try and find a new route for next time!  And - don't go using our run as an excuse for chocolate!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Softly softly, catchee monkey

I'm ALMOST there on this dieting and exercise business.  I went to WI last night (and stayed to class - go me!).  I thought I had lost a little more weight than that but the scales only permitted a miserly half lb.  Hey ho, as I said to a few people who were grumpy about half a lb last week, half a lb is a drop and means that one is heading in the right direction.  If you were to lose half a lb every week you would be nearly 2 stone lighter by the end of the year (which is what I'm aiming for really!!).

I estimate that I was about 2 thirds "good" last week.  My meals were MUCH better and within SW; I'd cut back on a lot of snacks and treats and cut back on a fair bit of booze too; I'd upped my exercise quotient and managed a few runs.  However, there was too little planning which for me inevitably results in too much bread; and too much booze, still.  And not enough counting of syns.

So this week I'm going to keeping going on the exercise; cut back on the unacknowledged syns and the bread; and cut back more on the booze. 

My first test comes today, Wednesday, the day after my weigh-in last night.  I should be going for a run this lunchtime but it is grey, drizzley and cold and I'm not in the mood.  And I forgot to cancel the dogwalker so he is due any minute so I don't even need to take the dogs out.  And my long length warm running tights are not dry yet.  Ooooh, my chimp is going haywire with the excuses!

So, what I decided to do about this dilemma is the following:

I'm not going to force myself to go for a run that I don't fancy.  What's the point?  But I'm also not going to do nothing.  I need an alternative to running anyway.  So I'm going to go round to my old house and pick up my mini trampette thingy.  I'm going to dig out my card of home exercises provided by the lovely (sadistic) Huw aeons ago and I'm going to do a home workout.  Once this has been done, I will have NO excuse in future to not do even a 20-30 minute workout.

This option also has the benefit of allowing me to fit in a couple of shopping type chores which I won't be able to do this evening as we're going to the theatre with Rich's mum for her birthday. We're going to see The King and I at the Lyceum in Sheffield. I have put the makings of a stew into the slow cooker so we can eat before we go so it's all coming together. I do like this working from home business!

And finally - I always like a photo or 2 in a post so here are portraits of my solemn and somewhat unwilling pets!! 

Eye contact is very important to a cocker spaniel - as you can see here!!

Dark, nerdy secrets....

I have a dark's time you knew the truth about me....

As some of you may know, I take part in an inter-pub Quiz League during the winter months. I play for my old local in Bamford and every Sunday night from October to April we compete in tense, hardfought, 1 on 1 quiz battles against other pub quiz teams from all over the Derbyshire Peak District. Our team tends to be the youngest of all the 12 teams in the league with an average age in the 40's rather than 60's and we tend to have a better mix of women to men but I do accept that it's still a very "nerdy geek" type of activity. 

I know a lot of people enjoy pub quizzes - the turn up with a few friends and play on a Wednesday night sort of events. Taken seriously but not TOOO seriously.

This is not like that. In this league there is a question master, scorer and sometimes a separate timer-keeper! The questions are sent (by the mysterious, nay mythical, question-setter from Burton-Upon-Trent) in a sealed envelope to the pub and must be unopened at the start of the evening. All very stringent.

There are 30 team questions and 5 individual questions (one each). The questions are divided into different categories so both teams answer one question in each category so there is much scope for discrepancies between the 2 questions in each category. Before you start each team nominates 3 categories to be "starred" questions which attract double points - your "jokers" if you will. The individual questions also have to be allocated to each team member from the category only at the start of the game - such pressure if you don't know yours and can see the rest of your team staring at you, clearly knowing the answer...

For the first half of the season, we play all the other teams once, either home or away. Then at the halfway point, the league is split into 2 divisions and we play the teams in our division twice more, home and away. (Like the Scottish SPL if that helps!!)

So, last Sunday was the last match in the first half of the season. We were playing the team at the top of the league - the team that ALWAYS wins - the team that we have never, in 9 years of trying, beaten - the team who were on Eggheads! They're a pretty boring bunch to be honest and travel from miles away (out of the official catchment of the league) to a "pub of convenience" just within the catchment area purely to play in yet another pub quiz league. They really ARE nerdy. All the other teams in the league talk about them 'cos they know so much and are so without character. I've seen them work out the answer to a question by working their way through all the Prime Ministers since 1900 in chronological order and party. (I had never heard of this chap!)

You know what's coming now, don't you??

Yes, you're right - we beat them!

What a triumph. It was close but we overhauled them and won 62-66. AND we won the beer round too so got a free pint/glass of wine each as well. The sweet, sweet taste of success.

After they had left, tails between legs, we chattered long into the night about our famous victory. It was mentioned on Facebook (without a hint of irony). No doubt it will be sung about long after we're gone - erm, perhaps not - but it was very, very satisfying.

What gems of knowledge did we have to retrieve to achieve this mighty feat?? My favourite (because of my starring role, obviously) was knowing which book by Charles Dickens starts with the words "Chapter One - I am born"? I had started David Copperfield THAT DAY and was only on page 41 on Sunday night - I could still remember reading those very words - what are the odds??! (Historically we're rubbish on Dickens too,which is a category that the question-setter seems to love.)

So now, as a result of that victory, we have scraped into the top half of the league and have to play all the tough, boring teams from nasty pubs in villages miles away rather than the nice, friendly, easy teams from cosy pubs nearby. It's not the greatest reward for our endeavour! Hey ho.

We have been a very strange team this year - we have beaten the top 6 teams but lost to the bottom 5. How weird, even the new team which lost to everyone else managed a victory over us whereas the top of the table titans succumbed.

I see it as exercise for the brain - perhaps it'll help me stave off the dementia which is destroying my mother, perhaps not, but it can't hurt. I do the physical stuff to keep my body healthy so why not blog and quiz and learn french to keep my brain active?? And it's a laugh, with beer.....

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Sunday walk (and camera frustrations....)

We went for a lovely walk on Sunday. We had planned to go although didn't get out of bed quite as early as planned so were a bit late setting off. But, that apart, we still managed a really good hike.

We started at a layby on the A57 called Cutthroat Bridge! Good start eh? Then headed up onto the moor first crossing a small stream. The sound of the traffic was pretty loud to start but, as we gained height, it gradually receded.

Once we hit the moor proper, the path deteriorated into what look like a peaty quagmire. Luckily, it was frozen sold so we weren't slipping a sliding around. This was, to be honest, one of the reasons I chose this route as I knew it would be a good time to do it! Aren't I clever....tee hee....

Below is the view looking backwards toward the A57.  It is the reverse of my favourite part of my drive home.   I always love coming over the hill and being able to see Derwent Moor and Win Hill in the distance before me and all the colours of the moor - the heathers, bracken and woods.

The first view of Win Hill's distinctive peak to the right behind Rich.

Gorgeous misty blue views.  I bemoaned the lack of my big camera as it might have picked out the weak, milky rays of sunlight flickering through the cloud which you can't see in this shot.

These pics are somewhat frustrating as the conditions were not brilliant; overcast and not bright.  You could see that it was brighter in the distance so we were hopeful of some sunshine later though...

Below is a view over to Bamford Edge and Bamford Moor.

At the end of this section you reach Derwent Edge and can peak over into Derwent valley.  Below is the top section of the Ladybower reservoir.  Lazy Shelagh heads down the hill of course although that is NOT wherre we were going...

So she had to race back up the hill to catch up with us!

We headed out along Derwent Edge and could see the sunshine creeping closer to us from behind.

The Edge stretches out in front of us.

The girls take in the view.  Shelagh HATES having her photo taken.  She has an uncanny knack of knowing exactly when I'm about to press the shutter and turns away a split second beforehand.  So then I have to make her pose for me which she hates, as you can see from her expression.  Minty, on the other hand, is quite relaxed, just taking in the air.

Due to time constraints we turned off the Edge itself and followed a path running below it.  Above us loomed the rocks of Winstanlea Tor

Then we had a choice:  Derwent of course - Moscar is MILES away!

 Me looking tubby - although some of that could have been the sheer number of layers I was wearing in the freezing temperatures!

 Finally the sun came out to play for a brief moment!  Doesn't everything look lovely in the sunshine?

We're heading downhill now, towards the reservoirs.

Eventually you descend below the heather line and into meadows.  This paths seems ancient, carved deeply into the land like a stream.  It's on National Trust land so well cared for and yesterday was littered with various volunteers chopping down saplings and doing various useful jobs. 

We came across a little barn - all set up with a bench and leaflet dispenser - for sheltering or taking one's lunch in I presume.  Then I spotted these little ceramic tiles set into the stone - how pretty.

Hey - they're drawn by the pupils of Bamford Primary school.  Cool.

I couldn't take pictures of them all so just chose a couple but I really liked them.  Anything which encourages kids to think about nature and enjoy it is a good thing in my book.

 Rich and Shelagh in the barn.  She had just turned her back on me once which is why Rich is grinning at me!!  Even here she managed to turn her head at the last minute!

Here we are at lakeside.  I liked the way the milky sunshine was hitting the water looking more like moonlight than sunshine.

And then comes the "frustrating" part of the walk.  It's a new camera and I didn't notice the "re-charge battery" warning light.  It died on me.  Grrr.    ((Although, on the upside, it has spared you from another 10 or so pics to wade through and probably kept this blog post to a manageable length...)

I was really enjoying taking lots of pics because it makes you look with a keener eye than if you're just walking along.  It makes you notice the different landscapes and colours and little signs and pictures.

Even more annoyingly, about 10 minutes later, the sun came out properly and we were bathed in gorgeous setting sunshine.  You know, the sort of golden light you get as the sun gets lower on the horizon and reflects on the bracken and rocks,  and it stayed with us for the rest of our walk back to the car.

Anyway, photos or not, it was heavenly.  3 hours out in the fresh air, a few hills to climb for exercise, some chat, some nature, gorgeous views.  Bliss. 

I wasn't sure whether Rich enjoyed it as much as me as he's not such a chatterbox as me and I don't like to constantly badger him with "are you having a good time??" type enquiries.  He seemed happy but you never know really...  But last night, when talking about next weekend, he said - I'd like to go for another proper walk on Sunday - so I assume he did.   So I'll have some fun this week planning a route, making sure my camera is charged and hoping that the weather is halfway decent!  I have seen some reports that snow is on its way but not sure if it is heading for the Peaks yet.