Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Slimming World III - This Tme it's Serious

I'm sorry if I'm boring you with yet another "fresh start" post.  To be honest I'm boring myself.  I wondered last night how many times I have been through exact same throught process and striven to lose these exact same lbs.  Tiring when you consider it - so I won't.

This last few weeks has been hectic: the fun and excitement of Rome; coming back home with a nasty cold; the weekend at my parents' for Dad's birthday; an away trip to Chesterfield for the football; a big local derby on Sunday.  I have paid lip service only to food restraint and exercise and used all of the above as excuses NOT to get stuck in.

It seems harder to get going and drop lbs because I'm too happy.  What a terrible excuse.  Before, I struggled to get going because I was unhappy, had little self-confidence and was resentful about being made to feel bad.  But, once I got going, I at least had the assistance of a disapproving tut (or full-scale slagging) from D and the fear of failure to keep me at it.  Now, I struggle to get going because I'm happy, my life is full, Richard wants me to take part in everything we do together which includes eating and drinking and he fancies me anyway.  Talk about irony.

I have been mulling though and I know that I DO want to drop this extra weight for me AND for us.  I know that I am happier when I'm slimmer and fitter and I do NOT want to get any fatter.

I had one of Mrs L's "lightbulb moments" which is quite simple really - I will still be happy and enjoy life if I say no to the nice treats which now litter my lifestyle (most of the time).  In fact, thinking back, I'm usually happier when my diet and exercise regime are under control.  So, rather than using events like the big game on Sunday as a reason NOT to diet, diet through them.  Okay, so I won't be able to drink 5 pints of bitter or cider in a day but I can still go to the pub with everyone, have a couple of glasses of wine or a rum & diet coke and probably enjoy it every bit as much.

Likewise, biscuits in the house, toast, the odd half a bottle of wine here and there and all the other extras which have skulked back into my life.  Last summer/autumn when I managed to slowly but surely drop 12lbs without a great deal of difficulty, I did have some of these extras from time to time but only occasionally and only one of them each day.  Since then, the restraint has gradually disappeared and the exercise has declined.  THAT must be the difference.

I went to my SW weigh-in last night and discovered that I've gained 3.5lbs since before Rome which takes me to 1lb OVER where I started last summer.  Sigh.  But I went.  And I'm clinging onto that mantra - you cannot fail until you give up.  I have not given up.  I have not failed.

I came home and chatted it through with Richard.  It was lovely.  No angst or accusations, just love, sympathy and support.  He gave me a cuddle, listened to what I had to say, offered suggestions about what I was doing before when it was working and what I'm not doing now (obviously he can see what I'm eating and drinking now and can be a bit more objective than me).  He offered his support and empathised.  It was no big deal.  I could have cried. 

Then, while watching TV later, he helpfully finished off the last 2 choc chip shortbread cookies (apologising as he did so) and didn't comment when I drooled on his arm like a hungry labrador....

Monday, 27 February 2012

My Blue and White weekend

It was the big Sheffield Derby at our home ground, Hillsborough yesterday.  We assembled in our Sheffield local which you now know from the banner is the New Barrack Tavern on Penistone Road. 

The flag is a new addition which we raised funds for over the last season of away coach trips so now we have something to drape over the railings at big games.  The slight flaw in this plan is, being a pub group, we tend to stay in the pub until the last minute so never get organised enough to get into the ground early to do the draping!!

"Because of Boxing Day" is a line from a big Wednesday song remembering a famous victory over the Blades on Boxing Day 1979.  They were flying high in the league and we were not doing well but we beat them 4-nil and ended the season being promoted while they were relegated (or so the legend goes....).  Richard was there and it is a Big Deal in the blue half of Sheffield!!

 I don't know what I was doing with this photo.  I thought I had a nicely centred shot of Richard (tall chap on the left), my Rich in his new glasses, Squiby, Kerry and other Richard (yes, there are too many Richards!).  Instead I have Richard's torso, Rich with part of his head sliced off, Squib in the dark and no Kerry or Richard!  Early beer and giddiness may be to blame...

Here is a nicer shot of Richard wearing his silly jangley hat!  After the result he now, according to the rules of football superstition, has to wear the hat to every game until we once again lose and its magic wears off.

It's so good to see the ground full to bursting.  It is a shame that we can't sell tickets in the far corner section as it does not have a safety certificate but a crowd of over 36,000 made for a brilliant atmosphere.  And there were another 9,000 back at Bramall Lane watching the live beamback on big screens so that's 47,000 plus watching a third division game live in Sheffield!!

You can see that the tension was building on the Kop just before kick-off - balloons at the ready!

And then at the end of the game - the far stand is emptying fast as the Blades fans leave but we stay to celebrate a tight 1-nil victory and applaud our team!

As we were leaving the ground Rich heard a TV presenter say to his cameraman - "get those 2 women".  He turned to see Kerry ducking away at speed leaving me (accomplished media hound that I am!!) standing in front of a camera being interviewed for my reaction to the game!!

We were only a couple of yards outside the ground so I was on a high, had only just finished singing and was giddy in the extreme.  I couldn't hear much of what was asked or what I replied due to the crowds of lads singing in my ear so I was very nervous about what I would look and sound like if my snippet was aired!

Well it was.  Look North have been showing my clip yesterday evening and most of this morning judging by the number of texts, emails and facebook msgs me and Rich have been getting!  I saw it in the pub last night at 7ish but couldn't hear what I said due to the general cheering (and pointing and laughing).  So I was very nervous by the 10.30pm repeat.  My moment of fame only lasted about 5 seconds but was a fulsome message of support for our manager, Gary Megson so I'm really chuffed about that!  I'm also pleased that they picked out the one coherent sentence from my excited babbling!

It topped off a lovely day to be honest.  And I'm also pleased to be able to support Gary Megson who is 100% an Owl and has been subject to nasty sacking rumours despite our being 3rd in the table!! You rarely get to have your say on telly so, however brief it was, I'm happy that I have.

I bet Richard is secretly dead jealous but he was also proud of me - I could tell by the little pats.... in between the sniggering that is....

What of the rest of the weekend?  Well, I was happy that I managed to heave myself out for a run on Saturday.  I had spent ages doing chores and showing someone round my old house and Rich had already started on some gardening - yes, wonders will never cease.  I was about to join him but he suggested I take the dogs out instead as it was getting late.  So I went for a proper run - a good hour of slow jogging including lots of hills.  It was perfect and we then settled down for a nice quiet night in in preparation for the big day on Sunday.

Sunday was a write-off drink wise but not too bad on the food front.   I just have to get back on track and keep up the fledgling exercise routine.  The rot has been stopped but I need to make actual progress now!  A run at lunchtime, dancing this evening and then the big re-start weigh-in tomorrow should help!

Come on Lesley - you can do it!!!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Starting Again, again....

I thought I'd preface my diet talk with my last Rome pics.  Below is the Pantheon a 2000 year old church!  Just wow!  However, aparently Agrippa did NOT "fecit".  He was fibbing - he built the first one on that site but this amazing, huge dome was built by Hadrian (yes, he of wall fame).  It is an outstanding feat of architecture and engineering.  How they managed to construct such a huge and perfect dome in that era boggled my mind.

We had been a tad miffed that it had been closed on Sunday and Monday but, when we went in on Tuesday and realised that the oc ulus (holein the dome, pictured) is open to the elements, we were somewhat mollified.

It's truly a vast space.  Although much of the decorative splendour has been plundered for later marvels over the years, I loved it.  I also loved the tomb of Raphael - so modest and simple.

Then back to the Piazza Navona en route to the Castel Sant Angelo

We walked down this endless street, named after the laurel bushes at every doorway.  It was a street of artisans, dealers and artists - fascinating stuff.

Is there another city in Italy famed for having a bridge on which lovers lock a padlock to symbolise the strength of their union?  Although there were a few padlocks, not so many to justify my having heard of this practice.  I believe that the weight of padlocks on the bridge I had heard of grew so great that the Council had to remove the panels with the padlocks attached to prevent damage to the bridge!!  Maybe it IS this bridge but they haven't been replaced yet??

Views for the lovely terraces of the Castle.

And a final spin back to the Spanish daylight this time.

Well, the cough/cold has been a doozy but is retreating now. I'm still coughing and full of phlegm and my head is fuzzy and I can't always hear properly but I feel more human. Trouble is I have helpfully passed it on to Richard so now he's had a couple of days off work poorly. I didn't end up taking any time off work but did work from home Thursday afternoon, Friday and Monday which is a lot more relaxing than traipsing into the office so less strain overall. He doesn't have that option so I think a couple of days in bed/on the sofa will do him good.

That is now the third week of dancing we've missed though - yikes! I have arranged a private lesson before our next class so that we're not hopelessly behind!

Diet and exercise wise, things have been poor. As I said in my last post, there is really NO POINT in turning up to SW once a week and getting weighed and feeling either happy or sad about the result but not actually following the regime!! This is what I have been doing hence the inexorable rise in my weight back to where I started last August, if not a lb or so higher. This has GOT to stop.

So, on Monday while working from home I forced myself to actually DO THE DIET. And it wasn't bad. The main thing for me is not to rely on bread and cereals. I had a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Lunch of a SW corned beef quiche and salad and supper of pasta and meatball ragu with loads of veggies and SW compliant meatballs (delicious). A snack of a Muller Light yoghurt with a crumbled meringue nest satisfied my desire for sweet without excessive syns. Actually, it was only once I got to bed that I realised I hadn't had my bread/cereals allowance for the day! Whoops. 

Tuesday I had my cereals for brekkie but quiche for lunch again and a relatively sensible supper of homemade burger. I did weaken and make pancakes but only had 1.5 and canderel/OJ toppings so not heinous. Wednesday was fine - WFH again so bacon and egg breakfast, sandwich lunch and pheasant casserole for supper. Pheasant must surely be a good diet meat as so lean. It was tricky to keep it moist but overall it was a sucess. So, getting back on track can be done - next step weighing properly and keeping tabs of progress. It can be done. It will be done.

Wednesday, Thursday and today have not been bad either so I'm hoping that my first re-weigh-in on Tuesday will not be TOO painful.  Today also saw the reinstatement of training after a break of a couple of weeks off.  Huw was uncharacteristically gentle with me due to my still persisting cold.  He could hear the rasping in my chest so kindly left off some weights and cut back on others.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still knackered and achy but I could at least breathe through the workout which would not have been case had he insisted on my usual workout!

I am also reinstating the mini-targets of old. Today, an old favourite - NO BISCUITS!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

New time like the present...

Hey - do you remember when this was a diet and exercise blog?? Well, it is going to become one again. I am getting heartily sick of the woman who fannies around talking about dieting and exercise but doesn't actually commit to it. She is winding me right up!

I have put all the weight I lost last summer back on and, if I don't watch out, will add a bit more to that besides. My exercise regime has dropped off (not stopped but significantly declined) and I'm observing the SW regime ENTIRELY in the breach.

Last summer, when I was losing slowly and steadily, I was actually doing the diet (mostly). I cut back on bread, wine, cereals and cut out sweets and chocolates entirely. This was not difficult and I had the pleasure of seeing a steady drop in my weight. Since then I've had good weeks but more bad ones and have gradually reversed the drop. Now I have sweets from the table at work, bread or cereals for breakfast, wine with Richard a couple of times a week and we have just finished a box of Belgian chocs between us over 4 nights (not a big box but that's 3 chocs each per night). That, coupled with doing less exercise, is the difference.


No more.

And no using this horrendous cold/cough as an excuse. Feeling like death warmed up is no excuse for eating more and indiscriminately. One can always do SOME form of exercise.

If I want to drop 2 or 3 stone this year, I need to start RIGHT now. If I want to have any clothes which fit me come spring and summer, I need to start RIGHT NOW. 

So, my mini-target for today is:

No sweets, biscuits, chocolates or cake from the burgeoning table at work (or anywhere else) and no bread. One day at a time day at a time

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Cheering up

I've decided that feeling rubbish and a few minor things going wrong is no excuse for wallowing. Lots of little things HAVE cheered me up over the last few days so I'm going to focus on those and (cue nausea) "Turn that Frown Upside Down"!!

What has cheered me up then?

Well, posting those Rome pics at the end of my last whinge.  Cold blue skies, smiling faces and timeless beauty can't hurt can it?

Sharing the misery.  Rachel from  Slow Lane Life also posted about her Februaryitis and then commented on my post showing solidarity and thus cheering me up. 

Doing something new.  I've never managed a link to someone else's blog before.  Always assumed it was far too complicated and beyond my nano-tech skills.  But I jsut tried it and it took me about 10 seconds.  Go me.  Perhaps I'm not that old after all?  Perhaps I will one day master my ipod (Christmas gift from the lovely Richard and, shamefully, not used to date!).  There is hope.

A lovely weekend with my family for my father's 80th birthday. Lots of teenagers, dogs and food. Visits to the pub. Richard getting on with everyone. Dad happy with the crowd and his presents. Mum no idea what is going on or who we all are but happy to be at the centre of it all.

Starting again with my diet despite not being well.

Getting loads of work moved despite not being well.

I'll do a proper post soon (this is being finished off on my phone hence is somewhat sketchy) but I just wanted to report that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it's not very far away.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Phases and Sunny Random Rome

Does anyone else have phases in their life when everything seems to go wrong?? Well, I do and I'm in the middle of one now. It's really getting me down.


Since MONDAY I have:


  1. Developed a nasty cough with sore throat and aching shoulders.
  2. The cough/cold resulted in our missing dancing for the second week in a row so we will be woefully behind next week. Worse though, we also missed out on free guest list tickets to see the Kaiserchiefs and aftershow passes and potentially let down the pal who had arranged for the free passes.
  3. This also meant that I ended up sleeping in the spare room last night to spare Richard from the explosive coughing and sneezing and incessant blocked nose, mouth-breathing (ok, snoring!). It's the right thing to do but I hate not waking up beside him.
  4. Lost my Sheffield Wednesday season ticket (which I specifically took out of my purse so as not to take it to Rome) which will cost me a tenner to replace.
  5. Forgotten a golf competition and thus let down not 1 but 3 women which makes me feel terrible but which is also terrible timing. I will be now not be very popular at next week's AGM in which I am being put forward for the Committee (which I don't really care about) but at which I will be speaking out against a serious issue (which does matter to me). I haven't forgotten a comp for years and I hate letting people down, why now!
  6. Lost £20 out of my jeans pocket while walking the dogs on Tuesday lunchtime. This meant not only that I couldn't buy the birthday cards I'd intended to when I got the shop but also that I had to retrace my steps back up the hill in the vain hope of finding the notes and thus tiring my cold-ridden self out.
  7. Discovered that my blood pressure, which had been under control for a year or so, is no longer under control so I have to go through the whole blood tests and monitoring malarkey all over again.
  8. Missed a SW weigh-in Tuesday night for the football and a pre-football Valentines meal (which was lovely actually) but am conscious that I've put on weight since my last weigh-in and feel fat and unequipped to do much about it at the moment.

(Oh, and, Sheffield Wednesday lost at home on Tuesday night and played appallingly. It is the first time they have lost 2 games in a row all season and now our promotion hopes are wobbling alarmingly.)


I'm shattered and feel blue and grumpy and just want to collapse onto the sofa and for Richard to make it all better. But he has also developed the same cold/cough so will probably not be feeling particularly comforting himself. 


So, I'll soldier on and hope that we both feel better soon and that the universe stops having a go at me even sooner.

And, in the meantime, I'll post some random sunny pics from Rome to cheer me up.  These were taken on our walk back from the Vatican on Day 2.  Below is the Ponte Sant'Angelo opposite the Castel Sant'Angelo.  We couldn't go in to the Castle that day as it was shut but managed to go round the following day when it opened at 2pm, having finally cleared the ice from its terraces.

We then walked miles back in the direction of the hotel.  This is in front of the famous Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in the Piazza Navona.  The four statues in the fountain are meant to represent the great rivers of the world - the Nile, the Danube, the Ganges and the Amazon.  Trouble is, we couldn't work out which was which apart from the Nile which is blindfolded as at that time the source of the river was unknown.  Come on guidebooks, get it together!

 Bernini's elephant with an obelisk mounted on top (they do like their obelisks do the Romans!).  It's a rubbish photo as the statue was being maintained so was surrounded by hoardings.  I had to peek through a grill to get this but I love the gentle expression of wisdom on the elephant's face.  That's how I think of elephants having seen so many of them in the wild - it's amazing to me that an Italian artist from that era could capture it so perfectly.

 And finally, true to our form, we hit the Spanish Steps just as it was getting dark!  It was lovely though - a very evocative area.  I could just picture all those rich toffs from England and France hitting Rome on their Grand Tour, ignoring the art and culture and getting stuck into the bars and brothels.  A bit like our 18-30 holidays nowadays!

I like the fact that there is an English Tea Room right next to the Spanish Steps.  And also it was fun gazing into the windows of all the posh designer shops on the Via Condotti.  Most seemed to be aiming their goods at miniscule Asian women judging on the sizes and styles which predominated.  maybe they are the only ones buying high-end designer stuff these days??

 Finally we dipped into a church I'd read about - Sant Ignazio di Loloya.  It is the second Jesuit church in Rome (after Il Gesu) and was simply stunning inside.   

Just to the right of the below was the main dome which Rich and I both stared up at and even commented that it was nearly as impressive as St Peter's.  Only to read later than night back in the hotel room that there WAS no main dome - they had run out of money or something so a false perspective, tromp 'oeil, dome had been painted instead.  Well, it fooled us!  I wish now I'd taken a photo of it to see how good it was.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Rome - Day 2 - in which we stuffed ourselves on art and pasta!

I should have posted these 2 pics with my last Rome post as they are from the end of our first day.  We wandered round in circles seeking the Trevi Fountain due to an inaccurate tourist map but, on the plus side, they were lovely circles to be wandering in!

And by the time we found it, it was dark so only grainy pictures to be had.  But very romantic with the flickering lights on the blue water.

We did not throw any coins into the fountain so we are not guaranteed a return visit to the Eternal City.  But I suspect we'll be back anyway.  The area around the fountain was cordoned off due to sheet ice so one's options for coin-throwing were limited to braving the Policia and hopping over the cordon to stand in front a giggling mob of Japanese kids to take one's chances.  This option came with high risks of a) falling over on the ice in the effort of hurling the coin over one's shoulders (to the inevitable hysteria from the Japanese) and b) missing the fountain altogether (even worse...).

We didn't risk it. Wisely.

Day 2 was the Vatican Museum and St Peter's Basilica.  There were no queues - Go February!  We paid the extra for guided tour as we know very little about art or architecture and suspected (rightly) that without a guide we would spend hours wandering around getting increasingly footsore and still miss all the good stuff!

Our guide was well worth every Euro.  She saved us hours of wandering and, more importantly, made the statues and frescos come to life by adding colour and context.  I especially liked the way that she would say before referencing some obscure patron, architect or artist, "As you know, Gianni Pozzo designed this in the school of.....etc etc"  The "as you know" made me feel very clever as I nodded knowingly!!

I particularly loved this statue, not just because of its back story and historical improtance but because of the power of the pain and passion in the man's face and the sheer nastiness of the serpent.

I always find a doggie somewhere.  There was a room full of animals but we were rushed past it in the guide's haste to get somewhere else before a huge gang of Koreans.  We tried but couldn't find our way back to it once the tour was over...

Nero's red porphery marble bowl.  He may have bathed in it - beats the hell out of Wickes!

Oh, the ceilings.  Acre after acre of gilded, colourful, neck-defying beauty.   They were simply stunning.

We loved the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel although the latter was a little overwhelming due to the crush of noisy humanity.  My aunt has just emailed me a detailed fly-by of the Sistine Chapel which is much better in one sense as you can linger over the tiny details and enjoy "looking" at the space with no people inside.  I doubt the fly-by would be as compelling, though, if we had not been there in person.

Even the staircase in and out was a stunning piece of art.

After several hours of glazed-eyed staring at "stuff", however gorgeous, it was a relief to emerge into the brisk (OK, arctic) sunshine of St Peter's Square.

I presume there is a religious reason why the Christmas Tree and Nativity scenes were only being removed on 6 February so will refrain from making a comment about the laidback approach to life exhibited by modern day Romans

The frontage of St Peter's Basilica.

One of the Spanish Guards.  But wearing a tabard against the cold so we could not check out his pantaloon knickers!

What an awesome church it is!  No flash photography permitted so the shots are somewhat grainy but it was awe-inspiring.  Every inch was considered and decorated.  Nothing was without meaning or significance.

And quite a dome to behold.

Bernini's tabernacle.

It was a brilliant day.  I loved the sheer weight of history and beauty and how it fits into everyday life.

We were shattered that evening though and couldn't face heading far from the hotel to find somewhere to eat.  Luckily for us there was a pretty little trattoria mere yards from the hotel which looked nice and seemed popular.  We staggered in and ended up, through sheer lack of brain power, choosing a primo piatti and a secondo piatti (ie. plate of pasta followed by a main course, either of which would have been quite sufficient!).  We were stuffed.  How do the Italians do it?  A learning experience but delicious!