Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Why is this so hard??

This was a good long walk from the second May Bank Holiday (I's been a while!).  We started at home, went over the hill to Shatton, along the river to Offerton, up the big hill back up to Shatton Moor and Abney then round the moor back to Bradwell.  Stunning and very varied.

We start off near Bradwell admiring the sleek lambs and feeling sorry for their raggedy mothers!

Ey up - what's that in the middle of all those sheep??

Yup, a goat.  Rather strange but better than being a lonely goat I suppose.

Gaining some height with views over the valley towards the Hope Cement Works with Mam Tor in the background.

We're at the top now looking down towards Shatton and Bamford beyond.

Although overcast, it was warm so Minty cooled off by parking herself in a muddy ditch, nice.

We walked down this quiet lane into Shatton and didn't meet a soul.  Just the birds and the flowers to admire.

The leaves were (belatedly) unfurling.

Now we're in that massive meadow you will have seen in so many of my photos of in the past (and there will be more in the future too!).

Little ducklings! I hope their mum is successful in keeping at least most of them safe.

We reach the stepping stones and turn right up the big hill to Offerton Hall.

Halfway up the hill looking towards Hathersage and Carl Wark and Higger Tor in the background.

We watched this handsome hare run down the field.  The dogs were on leads as there were sheep in the field or they would have been off after him!

This little sheepy family posed prettily for us - the composition reminded me a little of a Gainsborough portrait!

Bamford Edge looms distinctively.

Another handsome creature.  This chaffinch chappie wasn't bothered by me at all and just sat on his post until we had passed.

Usually we walk around the contours from here but today we carried on climbing to reach the top of the moor.

It was hot and sticky work and we had to keep calling Minty back in case she set off after swallows and came across sheep ahead of us! 

But the big skies and lovely views were well worth it.

There is a little pool right in the middle of the moor with a tiny bridge.  Do you remember stopping here on our walk with Beth, Peri?

Now we're heading back towards Bradwell staying up above the farming and holiday cottage hamlet of Abney.

It's a bit remote though... imagine it in the dead of winter?!

Just before we headed back down the hill into Bradwell, we came across a mob of mad lambs.  They were just old enough to be away from their ma's and were having a high old time.  They were running up and down the field wall, not being chased by anything, seemingly just for the fun of it!  Youth eh?

I am sticking to my guns on this new push and seeing some success but it is annoying how hard it is to bed good habits back in.  I have lamented this topic before - that it is ludicrously easy to acquire a bad habit but stupidly difficult to bed in a good one. 

Take this morning for example.  I had my mid-morning breakfast of bacon and eggs which were very tasty.  I know that this breakfast is perfectly filling and I don't need anything else but the very first thought I had as I put my plate in the dishwasher was "right, what can I eat now??".  How stupid is that?  Bloody Chimp.

So then  I have to go through the whole internal bargaining process .  I think I'm rusty with my chimp management but I remembered distraction as a tool and this worked to prevent me eating anything bad after my brekkie (although I did have a pear which is permitted).   I mentally said to myself  "yes, you can have a piece of toast.....after you've unloaded and loaded the dishwasher".  This worked as it gave me time to realise that I wasn't hungry and also to get used to the idea that a cup of tea and a pear would be fine.

The other good thing I did was the swimming.  As I enjoyed it so much and it's outdoors (which I adore), both me AND my chimp are keen to go again.  I haven't managed to find a suitable time yet but the act of trying to fit it in is a good sign.  What makes it tricky is the rather fiddley timetable at the pool.  If you have a season ticket you can pretty much go any time apart from staff training and the odd private party but the public sessions are 7.30-9am then 10.30-12.30, 1.30-4.00 and 5.00 to 7.00.  Not bad but there always seem to be reasons why you can't fit it in.

This is why, when I stopped having a season ticket , I got out of the habit (see, habits again) of going.  Next year, I will definitely get a season ticket when it opens for the season in April (this year in the snow!).  As I type this, I'm idly wondering whether it's worth buying one for the rest of the is £135 and the pool closes at the beginning of October.  Each session costs £5.50 so I'd have to go 24 times or twice a week for the rest of the summer to make it worth my while financially....hmmm.  Bit risky.  I'll pay and play this year and then join up next year as I'd intended to do this year.

I've been doing some great evening walks recently.  Went out round Bradwell with Rich's niece on Tuesday and then Rich and I were out for a couple of hours last night round Bamford which was lovely.  Tiring as I'd played golf in the morning so my legs were sore but lovely to go walking togther setting the world to rights. 

We were driven out by a few house viewings but I'm pleased we went out and the dogs got some good quality swallow (well, house martins in this case) chasing in an empty field near Bamford Rec.  It's not quite the right time for it as the birds are not "playing" they're focussed on feeding their chicks so, they don't fly low for long periods, just collect the insects and disappear.  Once the chicks fledge though, there are a few weeks while they're building up their strength and working on their flying skills when they seem to actually tease the dogs.  They fly low in tight circles and swoop up and back round for ages seemingly playing with the dogs until they are exhausted and I have to drag them away.   It's brilliant to watch.

Anyway, in summary, I'm fighting the good fight with my Chimp and so far am winning more than I'm losing.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Day 2 - sunny day in the office (gnashes teeth)

We went for a walk a couple of weeks ago.  Around the route from Bamford to the Ladybower Reservoir.  It doesn't really matter where you walk round here at the moment  as everything is so pretty.  The green just hits you and the wildflowers are stunning. 

Minty eternally scouring the fields for swallows to chase.  Unsucessfully for the most part the poor little bear.

Bamford Edge with the Ladybower dam wall in the foreground.

We want to see - let us see!!

You can see why.  A glowering black sky followed us but turned right just at the right time so we didn't get wet.

Severn Trent are still taking out the conifer plantations and replacing them with deciduous woodland.  This log pile smelt gorgeously piney.

More bluebell woods with slanting sun motes.

The view up towards Derwent.  We often walk along that skyline in the background (you'll have seen the pictures....).

Lockerbrook.  Don't know why but I've never walked on that hillside.  I must do it sometime.

Grumpy Richard - well, not really just facing into the sunshine and the stiff breeze.

So, weighing in this morning was MUCH better.  I know it's early days, of course I do, but the fact that I'm mentally back on track  makes a huge difference (as does a couple of lbs off).

I went into the office this morning which was annoying.  As it was so sunny first thing and I had no meetings I was tempted to work from home again but sucked it up and got on the train.  This was a mistake.  My laptop had been working fine at home but died as soon as I tried to log on in the office.  Cue ringing IT; trying half a dozen different ways to log on; trying to find stuff to do without a laptop and basically wasting a few hours doing not much.  I eventually got it going again (IT never did turn up) so got some work done but my day would have been much nicer (and more productive) if I'd just stayed put. 

And I would have gone swimming again too (my new favourite pastime).

However, I was determined for the day not to be a bust so planned a good long hilly evening walk while Rich was on the golf course.  I dropped into the Co-op on my way home and bumped into Rich's niece on her way home so we ended up going for a walk together.  She's 20 and recently moved in with her boyfriend and it was great chatting with her and, hopefully, giving her a helpful/alternative perspective on a few things.  She seemed to enjoy herself anyway and she loves the dogs. 

We were out for 90 minutes and climbed the big hill behind Bradwell which was deserted and beautiful.  As we reached the top of the hill the sun came out and the orchids on the top road are just starting to bloom.  That along with the smell of fresh mown hay and evening birdsong, well, it was heavenly.

So, I've been pretty good foodwise and I've got a healthy chicken kebab and salad supper planned so that will be 2 good days under my belt.  May they lead to many more.

Monday, 24 June 2013

She swims again!!

Just to report in very quickly - we DID go swimming at lunchtime and we both (Chimpetta and me) really enjoyed it!  I calculated (while swimming) that I haven't been swimming since November 2011 when we moved offices.  It felt smooth but I was tired after 42 lengths compared to the 50 plus I used to do. I'll get back there.

I wish now I'd got a season ticket this year at the Hathersage open air pool (where I was swimming today).  I intended to but, on the opening weekend around Easter we were stuck in the village with snow and somehow I never got around to it after that!  Now I won't get my money's worth this year so will have to pay as I go and rely on the public sessions which aren't as convenient.

Ah well, who cares, it was lovely.

Farewell sweet jargon...

Following the recent situational challenges which I faced and the resulting slippage of output delivery, I thought it would be beneficial to undertake a process of contextual blue sky thinking. I was seeking, though this bottom-up review, to establish a number of joined up outcomes as follows:
  • to set, through a robust scoping programme, a transparent and accountable baseline position

  • to build on these benchmarks and set the parameters for progress going forward

  • once the identified good practice has become embedded, to promulgate a process driven rebaselining thus consolidating and improving upon the early wins and creating sustainable step change.

Having only recently actioned the review, I would cautiously welcome the resulting strategic indicators and feel that it is, although it is still within the dialogue phase, nevertheless worth cascading the preliminary core principles downstream in order to achieve sign-up to the overarching direction of travel. This early engagement, whilst it has not been tested for soundness, delivers on the priority paradigms of proportionality and functionality.

By this I mean that:

I'm starting yet another diet and I'm hopeful of success.  I'll keep you posted as to how I get on!

(Some time ago, I came across an online survey with a long list of favourite public sector jargon words and set myself a challenge to use as many as possible while still broadly making sense....harder than it sounds, you forget where you are and what you're trying to say!!  I just found it in my drafts folder and it fits where I am now so thought I'd post it.)

Day 1 and it's already tough to get Chimpetta under control

I'm pleased to say that I woke up with my determination from yesterday evening intact.  I'm still feeling the love for a renewed push at dieting and keen to get stuck in.  Of course, this is not what my chimp wants to hear.  She has been fighting a canny rearguard action already but I have had a couple of significant early successes which always helps. 

I set a mini-target of going either running or swimming and sticking to SWTOMG.  With hindsight, I probably should not have given myself any wriggle room on the running OR swimming as that gives her room to manoevre.  I meant to go running first thing but, for some reason Richard and I both slept in and by the time I got up I needed to get to my computer to work.  The anti-running internal negotiations commenced but I out-flanked her by checking out swimming times and "we're" going later this lunchtime. 

I also had a struggle over the contents of my lunch.  When I was doing SWTOMG properly, I had no problem at all having a carb free late breakfast of bacon and eggs.  Bread and toast has been my downfall recently and today it was a struggle to stick to the bacon and eggs.  But I managed it and now I feel perfectly satisfied and not at all hungry.

So, it has begun again.  I'm cheesed off that I have undone nearly all the good work of last year but hopeful that I will get back into the swing of it quickly. 

Weightwise, I stood on the scales this moring and saw a horrible sight - 15.3.  Blegh.  That is going to change and change quickly as I'm NOT giving up.  I want to be going to Malaysia in the 13s if not the 12s.  I know in my heart that I'm going to be fighting with my weight and my chimp for the rest of my life but I'm determined to make the battleground more comfortable and at a lower weight as time passes.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Not true

Disclaimer:  The following pictures do not depict the Peak District as it currently appears. 

(In that the pictures show a warm, sunny environment and it is currently grey, chilly and extremely windy.)

These were taken on a walk with Kerry a couple of Saturdays ago.  We met up at Shatton and walked through this beautiful, flowery meadow along the river to Hathersage.  Buttercups and blue  skies were the order of the the day

The grass was a bit long and tangley for the dogs' liking as it prevents them running fast and chasing swallows but at least not many sheep filled fields so they didn't have to be on the lead for too long.

We stopped for a swim in the river (when I say "we" I mean we all stopped but only Shelagh actually swam of course).

What a strange spring/early summer we are having.  As spring was so very late, the usual order for flowering is all upside down.   Everything is blooming at the same time.  The hawthorn blossom is very late and now coincides with the buttercups and cow parsley.  It is making for a stunning season which (just about) makes up for its late arrival.

Pungent wild garlic on the riverbank.

And bluebells too!  Talk about topsy turvy.

We stopped for a mini picnic near The Plough pub outside Hathersage.

Then climbed the steep hill to head back.  This is the view back towards Hathersage.

And this is looking forward towards Win Hill (on the left) and Bamford Edge (on the right).

We walked through a lovely, shady beech and bluebell wood.

Enjoying the views.

We are watched closely as we pass and mother sheep and her healthy looking offspring.

This one doesn't need shearing, its fleece has just peeled off!

The stunning Offerton Hall.

This week has been tricky.  I have been tightening up on my food and drink but my weight has lagged behind (and, presumably, previous excesses have caught up with me together with water retention) so that, although I have been hoping for good results on the scales, the opposite has been true and my weight has jumped massively.

I'm not going to report the actual number because I KNOW that it is artificially inflated by TOTM issues and I just don't want to say it out loud if you know what I mean.  I felt as though I'd swallowed a football for a couple of days and was horribly uncomfortable.

I managed to keep the faith and stick to my guns however and so I'm hoping that normal service will be resumed soon.  That said, normal service at the moment is pretty woeful.  And it  Is. Going. To. Change.  I have had enough of this crap. What am I waiting for?  Until I've put all the weight I dropped back on and more??  No.  I'm not going to repeat that tired old pattern.  This year is going to be different.

I'm particularly buoyed by the fact that we are talking about next year's holiday.  Given that it doesn't look like we're going to have a holiday away this year due to Richard's captain's year and our upcoming house buying/decorating we're aiming to have our first holiday abroad together next year.  It's not certain yet but we'll probably be going to Malaysia.  My brother and his wife have moved over there and it would be nice to visit them and use their swanky pad in KL as a base for at least part of the time.

I do not want to be a fattie out there in the world of tiny, skinny Asian women.  I want to feel sleek and fit into nice summer clothes.  We'll probably be going this time next year so I have 12 months to drop 3 stone!  It's gonna happen peeps, mark my words.

We were over in Lincolnshire at my parents' for a 60th birthday party.  My niece and nephew Laila and Lachlan were there too en route from Canada to Malaysia for the summer so we had a brilliant catch up on what they've been up to and a good laugh.  They are nice kids. 

Lachlan, the lucky git, has, as I may have mentioned, just spent 2 semesters on a tall ship sailing from Istanbul, through the Med to Lisbon, Morocco, Tenerife, across the Atlantic to Brazil, then back over to the Ascension Islands, Cape Town, Namibia, St Helena, the Caribbean and up the eastern coast of the US and Canada back to its home port of Lunenberg in Nova Scotia.  What an amazing trip!  Receiving the email updates and facebook pictures has been driving me wild with jealousy for the last 10 months and, having spoken to him about it this weekend, it was even better than it sounds!

Laila has finished her degree and, after her summer in Malaysia, will be heading out to Calgary to find work in the oilfields there.  She is missing her boyfriend but excited about the future ahead of her. 

Talking to them was fun but made me feel old and a little staid to be honest.  I have spent the last couple of years hunkering down emotionally, financially and in life terms.  Perhaps I need to stretch my wings a bit and set my sights slightly higher now.  I'm not talking about major life changes or anything, just opening my mind up a bit and setting my targets at a realistic level.  I'm not in crisis mode anymore but after 2 and half years in crisis mode, it is hard to let that mindset go.  It is time to try.

So, that leaves me working towards the positive in both my life and my weight/fitness.  Which is a pretty big statement.  So, rather than leave it at that, which is quite unmanageable, I'm going to close with a mini target like I used to do in days gone by:

Tomorrow, I'm going to go swimming or running and I'm going to follow the SWTOMG plan to the letter. Okay, chimp?!