Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Friday, 30 March 2012

Hasn't it been gorgeous this week?  Typically, of course, now that the weekend is upon us, the sun has done a disappearing act and we're back to white cloud once more.  I've worked from home a few days and managed several sunny dog walks and a couple of runs too so I've tried to make the most of the unseasonal loveliness.

Even when I have gone to work in Rotherham, I've had the roof down for my drives home and have enjoyed every breezy minute - in March!!

The dogs have been in heaven too, snuffling round the garden, barking at the neighbours and the neighbours' cats.  Even Shelagh has not complained too vociferously about being made to go for a run!  Usually she is extremely mardy about running and hangs back just enough to tug annoyingly on the lead or, if she's off the lead, to cause me to have to wait for her in order to express her irritation!  But, now that the sunshine is here, she has uncomplainingly trotted alongside me!

Doncha just love a running dog with flappy ears?!

And lush spring flowers...aaah...

I've just realised that I haven't reported back on my weigh in on Tuesday.  Firstly the bad news - 0.5 ON.  Grrr.  Secondly the good news - I stayed to class and emerged re-energised and re-motivated.  (And, it could have been worse!!)

I am currently having a good week and on a sneaky midweek WI, the scales have shown a healthy drop.  I just need to keep it up now.  Exercise and drastically cutting back on the booze is the key I think. 

Helpfully, I have 2 viewings of my old house on Saturday morning which will prevent me heading to the pub before the football which has been moved to 12.45 as it is on Sky TV so that is one opportunity for beer off the table.  Also, a night out with the Captain of Rich's golf club and his wife has been cancelled so no meal and pub to negotiate tonight either.  We do, however, have a 40th birthday party to attend tomorrow night which will not be a quiet event!

I don't want to get to the point that I have to avoid social events altogether jsut because I'm dieting but, while my diet is somewhat, shall we say, precarious, it is helpful to have a quiet couple of weeks to allow it to bed in.  I have been managing to choose diet coke or water at the pub recently and only having one drink which is progress.  Baby steps!!

Another helpful factor could be the fact that the Hathersage outdoor swimming pool is opening for the summer season tomorrow!  I'm going to buy a season ticket after a couple of years off.  Last year I wouldn't have been able to make sufficient use of it to justify the season ticket and there is no point in paying on the gate as it gets so busy in the summer.  This year, with more frequent home-working, I should be able to go at least a couple of times a week.  

Check out the website - it looks lovely now the works have been finished and we have proper changing rooms rather than drafty huts!!

So - have a lovely weekend whatever the weather.  If you're dieting, stay strong; if you're missing family, keep busy and enjoy life until you're together again; if you're looking after triplets - good luck!!!; if you're walking in Sussex, have a great time; and the rest of you keep cooking, knitting, crocheting, taking gorgeous photographs and doing all the other great things which will keep me entertained in your fantastic blogs next week and beyond!!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Urban Foxes

Bizarrely, we confirmed countryfolk just spent the nicest weekend of the year so far in East London!! And it wasn't half bad either. We had arranged to visit my old pal from trainee days, Brona and her family months ago and had cunningly planned our visit to coincide with Sheffield Wednesday vs Leyton Orient as she lives only 2 tube stops from Leyton. Well, it's a long trip to London, you may as well kill 2 birds with one stone! I asked Brona if she thought her 2 lads might be interested in going to the football with us (they are aged 7 and 9). She enquired and discovered that they had no interest but, somewhat surprisingly to me, said she fancied a go herself! She has never been to a football match and thought she should complete her education!

As she is a proper high-powered City solicitor (unlike me) I provided full disclosure about the necessity for pre-match drinking, the possibility of heavy-handed policing, the inevitability of bad language, the singing and shouting and awful pies. She remained keen and duly made her way through the full away match experience. She seemed to enjoy it in a sort of "interesting social experiment" kind of way and I'm sure it will feature in her future dining out anecdote repertoire but I doubt she will be rushing to repeat the experience!!

I have provided this "service" for quite a few of my curious mates. Women (mostly) who feel that they wouldn't mind seeing what all the fuss is about but want a guide through the maze. Most enjoy it for what it is but a couple have been petrified!! One found the sheer noise of the crowd scary (I just don't get it!) and cowered in her seat every time we scored because of the roar of celebration. This was particularly problematic for her as, amazingly for Sheffield Wednesday, we won that game 5-nil!! I did try to persuade her to come back as a lucky charm.....

Another friend found the surrounding clientele "threatening"! I think it was a large, shaven headed, beer bellied chap sitting in front of her who, when we scored, turned round yelling in excitement and hugged her that did it! But then some people do judge others by their appearance. As Rich is shaven headed and could fall into the football hooligan "look" I suppose I am aware of this but he's not like that - he just made a choice to dispense with his hair when it start to dispense with him!! And I do concede that what to me is fervour, passion and excitement can be construed as aggression and tribalism by others. I don't like the occasional undercurrent of aggression and violence you can encounter but, once you know how to "read" the situation, you generally find that it is pretty good humoured, honest!!

Anyway, back to East London. We had a lovely evening on Friday, first sitting out in the garden and then enjoying a lovely homecooked meal and chat late into the night. It was great to be so relaxed and know that Rich will get on with my mates even though, objectively speaking, they have very little in common. And not to feel pressured to head off to a pub - bliss! Saturday was mostly football and then another evening in which was similarly fun. I found myself noticing the sirens and even occasional gunshot more than I used to when I lived in London years ago. But Brona's house felt like a peaceful haven in the middle of the city rather than a beseiged island.

On Sunday we went up to Canary Wharf on the DLR. When I last lived in London, there were only a few buildings up there - the main tower and Canada Place - a few shops in a large otherwise empty mall and a couple of cafes and restarants. It felt rather empty and pointless and I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. Now, I get it! It has ballooned into a proper place - loads of massive office blocks surrounded by perfectly manicured public realm; a very good (and free!) museum in one of the historic old warehouse buildings (The Museum of London Docklands); a busy shopping centre; a couple of streets of restaurants with lots of outdoor seating facing either the docks or the river itself; quantities of trendy flats; and, of course, loads of actual people enjoying the sunshine!

After an hour or so in the museum we picked a riverside steak restaurant and, ravenous, we all dived into a smart, tasty but horrifically expensive (well, expensive to us country mice anyway) burger. As my friends didn't bat an eye at £16.50 for the burger which DID NOT include chips (another £3.25 for the small bowl of fries!!), I'm presuming that this is not unusual?! Yikes - London is indeed another world.

It was good to see the world and his significant other jogging, walking, roller-blading and cycling along the riverfront path like some sort of uber-yoghurt advert. Very healthy and wholesome. My memories of London are a lot seedier - hungover weekend tramps from grotty flat to the pub along blood-spattered Clapham High Road come to mind. This was MUCH nicer. I was, however, a little freaked out by the cute little Cavalier King Charles spaniel I spotted which was wearing a baseball cap, necklace, pink tee-shirt and denim skirt! (I tried to take a photo for you but wasn't quick enough - rats!!)

And the drive home was super-quick too, only 3 hours including picking the dogs up! All in all, a good weekend in the city for us culchies.

So, here are the pics taken on my mobile phone.  I was cursing because I'd taken my DSLR camera down to London but, not expecting Canary Wharf to be as photogenic, had not brought it with me that morning.  Still, the sunshine meant that even a mobile (Samsung Galaxy with a halfway decent camera) can capture pretty pictures!  It's probably just as well anyway as, post digital camera course, I might have got a bit carried away and annoyed everyone else!

Below is the last remaining original warehouse buildings from West India Docks.  I understand that the bulk of these were destroyed during the incendiary bombing of the Blitz (the Museum had some sobering footage of the inferno).  These buildings now house the Museum and a host of restaurants and flats facing out over the docks.

My lovely boy posing as he does...

Brona's youngest, also posing madly...

A sign of the times -  a giant new building plot right on the riverfront which has been coffered and piled and then mothballed!  Not for long I suspect as London seems to grow whatever the economic climate - not so Rotherham!!

The fascinating and ever-changing London cityscape.  The Shard to the far left.

 Rich and Brona looking wholesome.

Me and Rich looking happy.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Word of the Day - Loveliness

I know that "loveliness" is the collective noun for ladybirds and a very beautiful collective noun it is too. But it also sums up my feelings about the night out I had on Wednesday night with Richard's stepmum, Carolyn. Lacking inspiration, we had bought a ticket to the ballet for her for Christmas. She had never been to the ballet before but was looking forward to it and it was a lovely evening. Just me and Carolyn - we had a nice meal beforehand in a slightly trendy but not loud and shouty Mediterranean restaurant/bar. We ordered a spanish tapas sharing platter and a glass of red and nattered our way through until we were nearly late for the performance! I'm glad we weren't though as it was - wait for it - lovely.

We saw a performance of "Beauty and the Beast" by the Northern Ballet Theatre, a company based in Leeds. I have seen several of their productions over the years - Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Carmen - and have always enjoyed their approach to ballet. I have seen other, more formal and more famous, ballet companies and prefer the NBT's lyrical, theatrical and fluid approach. Thankfully they don't stray into the "Modern Dance" spectrum either, which I find a bit tedious and "up itself". They seem to specialise in telling a really good story. They go all out to get the plot and characters across using ingenious sets, stunning costumes, outstanding lighting, fresh choreography and, of course, gorgeous musical arrangements.

I'm not an expert in ballet at all but (adopt northern accent here) "Ah knaw what ah like, tha knaws...". And I like the Northern Ballet with their unpretentious but lush style.

So, it was great to go back after a few years and see that they're still as good. Actually I think the lighting and sets were even better than I remember. And to take a newbie and see it all through her eyes highlighted how special a night at the ballet can be. I glanced across at Carolyn from time to time to see if she was enoying herself and doubt she even noticed. Her gaze didn't waver and she said at the interval (my football training makes me want to call it half-time!) "It's amazing, you can't take your eyes off them!". Which is exactly how I feel about it. Absorbing, gripping, beautiful - just a feast for the senses. The musical score suited my mood too - very romantic and french - Saint-Saens, Bizet, Poulenc. Aaah. Food for the soul. 

I think we both enjoyed spending time together too. We see each other quite often at family meals with Gordon and Rich, at darts and dominos etc or other events but have not previously been out, just the 2 of us. I found it great to be able to have a nice girly chat about all sorts. She's not that much older than me 10, maybe 15 years (about the same as the gap between me and my sister) so I reckon we could be pals more than "inlaws" which is nice. Maybe with the gradual disappearance of my mum, I've been missing that sort of friendship?? I hadn't been aware of it but suspect that it has been a void in my life for a while now. I think she is in the same boat as she doesn't have a daughter and I could tell she is wistful about the former girlfriend but one of her son (although she would have been a lot younger, obviously!).

So, new beginnings and a new friendship. Lovely.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Too busy for the glums!!

Thanks everyone for the nice comments, they are ALWAYS appreciated.

I'm feeling much better this week.  Dad and I have been  in touch and he is coping much better now.  I think just being able to talk absolutely honestly and openly has been a relief for him.  I suppose transitions to any new phase of an illness are always going to be the hardest times.

Weightwise, I couldn't make it to my weigh-in yesterday evening in the end.  I was rushing back from a digital photography course in Bakewell and then straight out to the football.  However, I weighed myself this morning and I think I would have dropped a small amount, maybe a lb or at least 0.5 lb.  I will keep at it and hopefully will see a proper drop next week.

This week has been very busy.  Sunday with our parents and the last quiz of the season.  Monday was dancing - a tough class!  Tuesday I had the photography course I mentioned above and then the footbal.  This morning was golf and tonight I'm taking Richard's stepmum to the ballet in Sheffield for her Christmas present.  I'm looking forward to Thursday night off before we head down to London for the weekend and it all starts again!

The photography course was excellent though.  I had been looking for one but the ones I'd seen seemed not-quite- right - too much about composition of photos or manipulation of images (photoshop etc).  I just wanted someone to tell me what all the buttons on my DSLR camera actually DO and why using them might be a good idea!  Also they had cost quite a bit - £100 to £120 which is a lot for a course which doesn't quite fit the bill.

Anyway, one day while perusing the endless Groupon emails I am sent, this course jumped out at me.  A beginners' guide to the digital camera, in Bakewell which is only 20 minutes away from home and costing only £29!!  Bargain.

It was spot on.  We spent the morning going through the buttons and being taught about apertures, exposure compensation, shutter speed, metering and dozens of other features on our cameras which we'd all hitherto ignored in favour of the Auto button!!  We then had a lovely, although non-SW-complient lunch of pie and peas.....mmmmmm.  The afternoon comprised a photography walk in the sunshine round Bakewell to practise followed by a brief look at what we'd done and a critique of the settings we'd chosen.

I really enjoy learning new stuff so loved it but was exhausted by the time we got back from the footie at 10pm....just dropped into bed and crashed out.

Here is a selection of pics I took during the afternoon walk:


And after golf this morning I'm still fit to drop.  Hope I don't snooze (or snore) through the ballet!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Best laid plans

I had had 2 good weeks and was full of good intentions at the beginning of this week. I couldn't see any reason not to have a good week (and a naughty Saturday at the football) but hopefully see a small loss tonight. Hmmm.....not so much....

It just hasn't come together. It is not as if I've gone mad or anything but I have definitely eaten for comfort and convenience last week and then enjoyed an unrestrained Saturday on top. My "Plan of Attack" just didn't cut it. The root of the problem was that I succumbed to a black mood for most of last week. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all passed in a gloomy haze. I just felt numb, sad and teary for no particular reason. I recognised what was happening and tried to help myself and to ask for help which worked to some extent but not enough to progress a diet.

When the gloom struck, I started to feel overwhelmed by tasks and a low level sense of being a failure. It's not a nice feeling. I texted Rich and he did his best to cheer me up and I went out for lunch with colleagues rather than mope around on my own and I kept busy in the evenings too. The problem with this self-help is that it does tend to involve more eating or drinking and less exercise.

On Wednesday night, I had been intending to go for a run with the dogs but felt sad (Day 1 of the gloom) so when Rich suggested a couple early doors in the local, I went. Generally I would be happy with diet coke but that night I had 2 pints, and no run. Part of my gloom on Thursday was that I had planned to go for a run at lunchtime from work and then forgot my kit (I discovered that I had brought my swimmers but not my running gear!). Cue more gloom and self-flagellation and a trip out to lunch with a colleague for coffee and sandwich!! By Thursday night I was so miserable that I knew I couldn't stay in so that was another 3 pints down the hatch. By Friday I was working from home so more in control. I had training at lunchtime so I managed to stop the rot a little. We had a quiet night in and no booze so not bad.

But then Saturday morning hit. We were due to go out for a full day in Nottingham for the football. I couldn't face it while feeling grotty and, lying awake fretting about it, realised (belatedly) what it was that had been eating at me and making me feel gloomy. I raised it with Rich (at a totally inopportune time for him, poor chap) but got what I needed to say off my chest and was then able to forget it and move on. The tension of the last few days did make itself felt though and I did not really hold back on the drinking front which I had been intending to do as part of my grand plan. More pints, sigh.....

Sunday, being Mothering Sunday, entailed a visit from my parents and Rich's dad and stepmum for Sunday lunch. We had a lovely Sunday morning cleaning, tidying and cooking and I was, by then, totally happy and cheered. The lunch went well, food was nice, parents got on well with each other etc Unfortunately, my mother's Alzheimers has progressed to a new stage which took me and my dad unawares. She is not willing to cooperate in her personal care and is incredibly stubborn so, to put it bluntly, she was stinky. I could see it was mortifying for Dad and I was also embarrassed on her behalf in front of Rich's parents. I didn't seem to have the resources to know what to do to help so we just had to soldier through which took the shine off what would have been a lovely day.

So, when I read back through this catalogue of woes, it appears that I'm depressed, have turned to drink to deal with it, my diet and exercise regime are on the skids and my Mum is heading for a home. Of course that doesn't tell the whole story. Actually a lot of last week wasn't too bad. I was down but I was still trying to be cheery and I didn't binge eat or drink. It was just a combinaiton of events which meant that I didn't make progress.

In the longrun, I think I have learned a lot too, both about myself and how to deal with my occasional glooms and about my mother and how best to help her and Dad.

With me, I am much more responsive to my moods than I used to be. Previously I hid a lot more. When I was feeling bad about something I just blanked it out, ate and hid from life on the sofa, not acknowledging that there was anything wrong. Now at least I recognise that I'm feling grim and try to take early action to work out what is wrong and sort it out. If the cause is anything to do with me and Rich I'm gradually gaining confidence that I can raise things (and earlier is better) and it will get better. I'm not saying that Rich is some sort of saint, he's not but he listens and just expressing myself is half the battle.

The other thing I've learned is how much I MISS exercise. I was activey annoyed on Thursday when I realised I couldn't go for that run as I knew it would have cheered me up. So it is important to prioritise exercise for both my mood and my diet.
About Mum, after the visit, Dad and I spoke on the phone and I rang my sister and told her what had happened too. With the benefit of hindsight I realised that I could have been more proactive but I know that I was sandbagged on the day and paralysed by being in the middle of a social situation. But my sister and I have been able to talk to Dad about it and we've been able to encourage him to finally get some help with her personal care. We've been trying to persuade him to get this sorted for a while now and now he realises that it has to happen or she will have to go into care. It's brutal but necessary, for both of their sakes. So out of an awkward day something good has come.

It was not a week I'd care to repeat, thank you very much, but I'm feeling hopeful about the week to come. If I haven't lost weight, so be it but I have coped and learned and lived to fight another day!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Plan of Attack

Although I've made a decent if not spectacular start to my latest campaign, I haven't really made a plan for HOW I'm going to reach my goals. Or even set any goals now that I come to think of it. As a result I'm feeling a little at sea, a little too "hanging on by the skin of my teeth" for comfort.

So, first things first, what are my goals?

Well, I'm currently just over 15 (yes, 15!) stone at my SW weigh-in. (I weigh less on my home scales first thing in the morning but I may as well go by SW for now). I want to drop 2 cursed stones of blubber to get to just over 13 stone by the end of the summer and then keep that off by the end of this year. This is not an overly ambitious target and I should be able to achieve it PROVIDED that I stick at it.

Why that weight? I was just over 13 stone when I finished the original TV show, the TV update show and when I left Diarmuid in the summer of 2010. At the time, I thought I needed to drop another 21 lbs and get right back down to the 11 stone range. Maybe I do and maybe, when I get to 13 stone, I will want to continue. But, for now, I know that I look good, feel fit and strong and can fit into a nice range of clothes (mostly 14's and a few slim 16's) at that weight and would be happy to stay there for a while.

The key thing you will have picked up from my yo-yoing over the last few months is the "sticking to it" element. I have been better since I started SW in that I have, at least, managed to keep going to class almost without a break since last August. This is progress. Okay the effort of sticking to the regime wavered but lip-service is better than nothing. That phrase "You cannot fail until you give up" has been my mantra and I do not feel as though I have given up. But how can I improve the stickability? 

Well, one way is to keep blogging and to be a bit more open about my weight and losses/gains. I have got into the habit of being reticent about it for one reason or another. I can't even remember why. I think it was a way of taking the pressure off me but now it doesn't seem to make sense. Now I think my chimp needs the public accountability of "fessing up" to you lot to keep her nose to the grindstone.

Another way is to involve Richard. This is a potentially tricky thing for me to do but I think that, if I can get over my hang-ups, it would be helpful. Steve Peters made it clear that one method of harnessing your chimp's strength was to use her fear of losing face in public to your advantage. He said you should tell everyone that you're not going to partake or that you're dieting so that your chimp will not want to be seen to fail. Telling Richard and involving him in the various choices I have to make (not slavishly, that would be boring, but from time to time) will accomplish this.

My hang-ups are all from my past. I got in the habit of not telling D about my dieting because I couldn't face my honesty being used against me. The "you've failed again; look at you stuffing your face" accusations which came back at me even if I was eating a modest, allowed-for snack (not always but not infrequently). One tends to remember that sort of thing so I have become quite sensitive about weight, food and Richard. Unnecessarily so to be honest. He might tease me (very gently) from time to time but he is just as likely to support me and to understand. He will always offer me a biscuit when he goes to get one and seems just as happy if I take it or not. So involving him makes sense as he can be a second line of defence.

 I will try again on the daily weighing and writing down chart. It worked before and, if I actually do it, might work again. (And would assist with maximising my exercise as well.)

And rewards. To be honest, I've never really held with the idea of rewarding oneself for success. It seemed somewhat artificial. However, recently it has popped into my mind that setting out a nice event or thing which will come my way, but only once I've lost a specified amount of weight WOULD help me. (Maybe now I have less money and fewer treats, I'm more motivated by them??!) I'm going to set my first treat target relatively low, especially given the slow pace of loss. But also make the actual treat quite small too.

When I have dropped 7 lbs (I've already dropped 2.5 towards this target), Rich and I will go out for dinner together to a new (well, new-ish now) Italian restaurant in Castleton. It's smart and relatively expensive so will be more than the usual run-of-the-mill evening meal out we occasionally enjoy but the difference between that and a takeaway or "normal" meal out is not that great so the treat element is still modest. (I know it might seem counter-productive to reward a drop in weight with a meal but we have to eat....)

There, that's settled then. And now I have something to look forward to and to work towards.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

CIty centre sights

Ok so this is a departure for me but I thought you might be bored of countryside for a while so I took some pics on my phone while I was in Sheffield this morning for a course.  This is probably the nicest part of Sheffield city centre, the Peace Gardens at the back of the Town Hall.

I've always loved it.  It's brilliant public realm.  Beautifully built and finished, useable, much loved and always busy. So much better now that the detested "eggbox", 1960's yellowy concrete council offices have been taken down and replaced by a smart hotel, the Winters Gardens and some posh offices.

This was early, before 8am and already there was a class full of hi-vis-bejacketed primary school kids and this mother and son gazing into the fountain.

This is the back view of the Town Hall....extravagantly gothic.  Looks good against a bright blue sky but can be a tad gloomy in the middle of winter...  We're at lunchtime now hence the greater crowd of people enjoying the spring sunshine.

There are several of these fountains all leading into the centre.  I like the understated sheet of water and the colourful tiles in the steps below.

Even the water channels have been thought through.  I love the aqua colour and the fishy design....or are they meant to be leaves??

So, update time.  It was weigh in tonight and I managed a modest but satisfactory 1.5lbs off.  That is a loss for 2 weeks in a row for the first time in ages!  I'm pleased but need to keep the pressure on.  Small losses are all very well but they don't leave you any wriggle room for bad weeks if you want to make ANY progress in the long run.

I have been doing better at the exercise, several runs and managing longer distances or better speeds.  So a qualified tick there - I still need to find something in addition to the runs and training but I'll get there.

Foodwise, not bad.  I have cut out most of the pointless treats but I had a wobble over the weekend and had one day when I had a series of totally unnecessary and carb-filled extras.  Could have kicked myself.  Well, did kick myself and thankfully was able to leave it at that!

I'll have to be extra good for the rest of the week as we have a big day out on Saturday.  A coach trip to the football in Nottingham for the Sheffield Wednesday vs Notts County.  We are going on a free Brewery tour with the pub we drink in before matches.  It's a Castle Rock pub and they brewery heard about the coach trip and offered the freebie.  What can you do??  I will try and limit the damage but suspect that the best tactic will be restraint in advance....

We have a very busy series of weekends coming up.  We're getting to the business end of the football series and we have 4 away games coming up!  That's all but one. Then there's a trip to London to see my old pal Brona.  The golfing season is about to start.  And family events are rearing their head too.  Dieting is going to be tricky so I'll need to keep focus....really need to....

Friday, 9 March 2012


I was right to be nervous about the weather for my golfing expedition on Wednesday although, to start with, we were pleasantly surprised. Defying the forecast, the showers had lightened and cleared up by the time we set off. Nevertheless, I was fully kitted out in raingear and my trolley was swathed with its waterproof cover as I didn't trust the sky's perfidious face! 

It's a pain playing golf in wet weather gear - you're all swaddled in rustley gear and get too hot, your swing is restricted and you can't find your stuff (tees, balls, pencils, markers, pitch repairers etc) as whatever you need always seem to be in the wrong pocket. I was, however, wearing my new, bargain waterproofs for the first time (although I've owned them for nearly a year!) so perhaps it would be different this time?? I bought this suit in the spring sales because I needed some decent kit and it was a bargain but then didn't really play much golf over winter. The suit is an excellent make (Ping) and was reduced from £160 to £60. All good eh? 

Weeeelll, not, so much. It is a very strange shade of purple, kind of a rich, deep aubergine. I FEEL like a giant aubergine while wearing both trousers and jacket together. Although interestingly, as I walked along, I found that I also felt like Barney the Dinosaur from kids' TV and possibly even the purple Teletubby (don't know their names). Suffice to say, I felt far too PURPLE! Apparently, feeling purple does not improve my golf!!

Anyway, we were lightly rained on a couple of times during the early stages of our round but mostly enjoyed intermittent sunshine, blue skies and scudding clouds. Then, in the middle of an epic battle on the 17th hole, the sky turned dark, the wind picked up and the rain started. No worries we said, we only have 2 holes left, how bad can it be?? Soon it was almost dark and the rain had turned to hail; the wind had whipped up into an angry, swirling gale and the temperature plummeted. We could see groups of women swarming in for shelter from all quarters of the course, but our match had reached a crucial stage and we had only the end of the 17th and the 18th to go to finish it. We persevered although we were drenched, our faces stung by the hail and our hands, numb with cold, and had turned an angry, sore, red and white colour. (It's not easy to play golf with sore paws...striking the ball hard hurts and you have no touch for the delicate putts.)

My partner and I had battled back from 3 down with 4 to play to all square on the last - an epic achievement. We went on to lose on the last, in lashing rain/hail with an audience of women peering at us from the clubhouse windows. (To be fair, they were probably wondering what Barney the Dinosaur was doing out in such terrible weather...) Hey ho.

But, on the plus side - I've made a start to the golfing season; I'm signed up for a few more comps; my waterproofs stood up well to the deluge; and hopefully I can hit the ground running this season and take another couple of shots off my handicap this year. And, I may have a new sideline as a childrens' entertainer.....

 I'm not very happy with my approach to food yesterday though. I allowed my chimp to use feeling tired and being cold and wet and the fact that I was eating my lunch later than usual as an excuse for out of control eating. Instead of coming home and preparing something sensible (which would only have taken a little longer) I dived straight into toast (slathered with cheese and pate), still felt hungry so grabbed a bowl of cereal and then snacked through the afternoon. Not good. I reined it in once I'd warmed up and felt human again but it was not helpful. I need to remember this about timing of eating and golf and ensure that next time I have something healthy and sensible ready for my return.

Luckily I was going out for the evening to see my friend Vicky. As she has twins and her husband works away during the week, we couldn't go out so she cooked us supper and we just stayed in and had a good chinwag. Perfect. She cooked a very healthy supper of baked chicken breast with pasta in a tomato-based sauce and we only had a small glass of red wine each so the day ended well even if I did go off the rails for a while in the middle. You live and learn....

That said, I really enjoyed my night IN last night. I've been out every night since last Thursday and was feeling a bit jaded (not drinking each time of course) but sometimes you do just want your sofa don't you? Rich feels the same but he had darts and dominos so will have to wait until tonight. 

A sunny lunchtime run

This is a route I used to take all the time when I lived in my old house.  It was our "normal" dog walk and as such probably under-appreciated.  Anyway, I was casting around for a bit of variety on a beautiful sunny Monday lunchtime and decided to jog down memory lane.

It was rather muddy at the beginning next to the river, lots of slithering through ankle deep mud.

But then we hit the open fields and rhe mud disappears.  It's very peaceful with the river burbling away next to us.

What a stunning blue sky!

The dogs keep a steady trot alongside me.

The view back towards Win Hill and a much-photographed barn for interest.

We had to stop at our official swimming point for Shelagh to go for a dip and collect some sticks.

Minty had rolled in something unspeakable (I think it might have been some form of fish!) so I forceably rolled her in the shallows and tried to get rid of the worst of it.  Here she is running away from me in bewilderment!  She still stank even after I shampooed her!!

And her "Mental Minty" stage running madly round in circles trying to dry off!

Then the fun stops and we have to go UP HILL!

But the views from the top are worth it.  This is looking over towards Hathersage with Carl Wark and Higger Tor in the background.

And the other way towards Bamford and Bamford Edge on the right.

Back homewards along a mercifully flat farm track and no sheep so the dogs can run free.

Minty finds a giant stick ...