Midsummer evening

Midsummer evening

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Here are some snowy photos to distract you (and me) from the expanded waistline....


It's been quite a quiet but very pleasant Christmas.  My parents came over on Christmas Day morning for the day and stayed over until Boxing Day. I did ask them to stay for longer but Dad wasn't sure how well Mum would cope in an unfamiliar house.  As it happens I think he was right.  One day and night was fine but she was beginning to fret a bit.


Christmas Eve in our village is always lovely.  This year it was hectic as Rich and I were both working on the day so had to slave for a few hours to get the house ready and last minute food preparation finished but, once that was done, we headed off to our local, The White Hart.  

There have been carols sung there for hundreds of years; it is a local tradition.  Not just the regular carols that everyone would recognise but local carols sung unaccompanied in parts.  They are so local that they differ from village to village.  I know because I went to the Bamford carol singing in The Anglers Rest the previous day and there were notable differences! 


Anyway, the carols on Christmas Eve this year were great fun although marred by our lovely 30 year old landlord being taken to hospital after a funny turn.  It turned out to be some sort of anxiety attack rather than a heart attack which was good news, I suppose.  Not a healthy profession being a pub landlord!


Christmas Day itself was very relaxed and extremely tasty though I say so myself, I'm a big fan of Tom Kerridge's recipes, especially his piggy ones at Christmas time.
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Boxing Day was a trip to the football at home for a change.  We haven't had a home Boxing Day match for 6 years so it was brilliant to wave the Aged Ps off and head into town for a few festive pints and some footie! We won too.  Not well or entertainingly but a win's a win even against bottom of the league Blackpool.



We had plans to work on the house between Christmas and New Year while we were both off work but these plans were scuppered first by the weather and then by Richard succumbing to a vicious, fluey lurgy.

The snow which piled down on Boxing Day night nearly trapped us in Sheffield.  We had planned to have a few drinks after the game and get a taxi home.  Something made me stay off the booze and drive and I'm glad I did.  As soon as reports of heavy snow started filtering through, I manhandled the boys out of the pub and into Rich's rear wheeled drive BMW (the perfect car for snow - not).


We then crawled home over ungritted, hilly roads.  Another 15-20 minutes and I doubt we would have made it.  The journey which usually takes 25 minutes took 1 hours and 10 minutes (stopping twice to allow the boys our to pee).  I lost the back end at least twice but at slow speed and managed to keep her moving through the worst driving conditions I've seen for years.

When we eventually reached home my hands were shaking from the concentration and Facebook was full of stories of trapped cars, friends stranded away from home and local pubs helping stranded motorists.  I was very glad we were not stuck as there were NO pubs anywhere near our route home - disaster!!
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The day after all the drama should have been a quiet day catching up on sleep but then Rich's lurgy took hold.  He has been really poorly; achy, coughing and tired.  Rats!
 

So, as you can see, I've been on dog walking duty by myself.  It has been truly spectacular.  These were taken a couple of days ago but it was just as beautiful yesterday and in parts today.  I was irritated today as I headed out for a 2 hour tramp early when it was cloudy with hints of blue sky frustratingly just "over there".  Within 5 minutes of returning home the sun burst forth and it was gorgeous for the rest of the afternoon.  Grrr


In other news, my good friend texted on Boxing Day to say that she was coming back to Sheffield for good.  That meant that she had split up from her boyfriend as he lives far down south near Brighton. We texted back and forth (I don't think she trusted herself to talk without crying) and the story emerged dimly.  It had been going wrong for a long time but all blew up on Christmas Day night into a huge row which ended with her being chucked out with barely the clothes she was standing up in and her father having to drive her, her cousin and the dog back up to Sheffield overnight.  What a charmer.

I had not liked him at all but am sad to see my pal brought so low.  When we eventually had a good long chat, it came out that he was a controlling manipulator.  Sound familiar?  It did to me.  The sorry tale brought my toxic marriage back to me for the afternoon but I was pleased to be able to share some of what I learned to Kerry and hopefully she will heal faster than I did as a result.  The worst thing is seeing a lovely, confident, able woman beating herself up for letting it happen to her, for not seeing through him.

I did the same but pointed out that no-one goes into a relationship expecting the person they've just fallen in love with to hurt them and we, as women, are taught to work at relationships and make them work which is what manipulators love.


Sadly, I was also able to point to several other strong, confident, attractive and able women I know well who have had these similar bullying relationships.  It's not great but it helps to know that you're not alone!! So, hopefully my friend will be able to start next year with a clean slate and put the last couple of years behind her.  I know from experience that things can certainly get better!!




Anyway,on that somewhat sombre note, where was I?  We have spent the last few days walking, eating nice things (not being bad to be honest), watching the darts and films on the box and cuddling the dogs.  It's been truly lovely.



Tonight we're going to brave the pub to see a band which everyone raves about but which we have not been able to see despite 4 years of trying.  Every time they are on, we are either away, poorly or have arranged to do something else.  They had better be good as Rich is not really well enough to venture out!



And tomorrow night we are heading into Sheffield for a big night out.  After 3 years of sitting in the house on New Years Eve we are finally getting off our backsides and going to party like proper 40-somethings.  Oh dear....


So -  I hope you have all had a marvellous Christmas and enjoy a splendid New Year's Eve with your loved ones.  No doubt we will be back exercising and dieting (and blogging regularly) next year!!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Gah!

After 2 weeks:

Week 1

Did alright, lots of runs and being careful.  Had a big Christmas party on the Saturday but still managed to drop 2lbs.

Week 2

Lost all motivation.  No runs, ate and drank a bit too much of everything.  Found those 2lbs again.

Just starting Week 3

Will start again......

Monday, 1 December 2014

3 weeks until Christmas and feeling fat and unfit

But all is not lost. I can still do something about it even in just 3 weeks. To which end I have promised myself to go all out to drop half a stone before Christmas starting today.

I took the dogs out for a run at lunchtime just to demonstrate to myself exactly how unfit I am.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Mini target for tomorrow

I forgot to set a mini target for tomorrow.

I will go for a run first thing tomorrow and not have any biscuits ALL DAY!

Ahem....back again

Little things knock my off my stride so easily. I had a good week before Bruges but then swapped my phone and was temporarily blocked from Blogger. So that's another wasted week passed.

On the plus side, And I can usually find an upside, I've dropped the couple of lbs I gained scoffing chocolate and guzzling beer in Belgium so I'm right back where I started.

And on the downside that is a stone heavier than I was this time last year. Aaaaargh.

I WILL turn this around. I want to be a couple of stone lighter (obviously not before the end of the year sadly). I've looked through my photos and I look much nicer, lighter and fresher when I'm not carrying that extra lard.

I have to make the connection between making the right choices and succeeding,  not just doing it when it's easy and reverting to food and booze in between.
Just. Do. It. Woman.



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Logistics

I was full of good intentions yesterday afternoon about exercising later in the evening but as it wore on, I suddenly developed a cold and cough.  You know how it can arrive out of the blue like a nasty tax demand?  Well arrive it did.  I was still full of good intentions as I drove home but these gradually weakened and ultimately disappeared by the time I slogged through the traffic and got home.  In order to say that I did "something", I knocked out a few crunches and press ups but these were a token effort and I'm well aware of that.

I do feel that I did the right thing to pamper myself a little though (and this is not just my chimp rationalising).  It was chucking it down last night so a run would have been very miserable.  Combine that with a cold/cough and the fact that I'm off for a long weekend abroad tomorrow, looking after myself was definitely in order.

Sadly the best laid plans of womankind do not always (ever??) come to pass.  Today was a bit of a logistical nightmare.

I was meant to be golfing in the morning and working from home in the afternoon and on Thursday morning before being picked up by my pal Jenny and heading for Hull and thence, Bruges with my old school pals.

Erm, not so much.  Golf was called off due to the course being waterlogged.  Excellent I thought, I can do an extra half day working.  I then discovered (after several tortuous phone calls to IT etc) that my work laptop has potentially been attacked by some deadly virus and IT has completely disabled it.  It will not be reactivated until I take it into the office (an hour's drive each way).

I just couldn't fit a visit to Rotherham in today as I was waiting for a delivery; had a lunchtime appointment which was followed by a conference call at 1-2pm.  I managed to find half a day's work I could do without any laptop access (pure luck to be honest) but I really do need to go into Rotherham tomorrow morning.  Bang goes my plan of a leisurely no-stress morning before being whisked off on holiday.

Hey ho - I will take the train into Rotherham tomorrow morning loaded down with laptop and weekend bag.  Hopefully IT will sort out my laptop in time to allow me to actually do some work before dashing to the station and off to Barnsley to meet up with Jenny.  Gotta be flexible Les, plans change....

Today (once I got my revised plans sorted out) was lovely though.  I managed to dodge the rain and take the dogs out for a brisk, scenic but muddy walk as well as fitting an hour or so of leaf raking and sweeping and general winter clearing up in the garden.

There are so many jobs to do in the garden but I can barely keep up with the general maintenance let alone revamping the beds; lopping the overgrown apple trees; re-felting the shed roof; building a small area of decking; herb beds; and a green house....eeeeek.  However, if I don't keep on top of the basic chores, I'll never get round to the bigger stuff. And not bad exercise either.

Now, I'm catching a quick Masterchef - The Professionals before going upstairs  to pack.  It's so weird how easy and casual foreign travel is these days.  I'm sure I used to be much more concerned before I went away and plan much more than you do these days.  I've been so busy I haven't even perused the internet to see what we're going to do when we get to Bruges!!  Any tips anyone??

PS.  The scales showed a small drop this morning.  Yay!!  I know Bruges is going to be hard but at least I'm on my way.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Today's mini target

Obviously to avoid sweets again but that seems more manageable having done one day. The main thing is to do some exercise.

I can't go running at lunchtime today as meetings don't allow the time so it must be after work. In the dark. Grrrr

Nonetheless, I pledge to either go for a run or do a home workout when I get in from work this evening. Hopefully this pledge will make the intention easier to stick to when push comes to shove and the sofa beckons!!

I'm doing better with food but still feeling fat so I hope I see some progress soon.

The timing of this new push is terrible as I'm off to Bruges on Thursday for a long weekend with my old school pals. I'll need to be strong to resist the worst excesses of beer and chocolate which are sure to be on offer!!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Back to the drawing board

It wasn't working with SW but it isn't working without. I KNOW how to drop lard but what has been missing is the commitment to actually DO it.

So this is yet another commitment. I'm going to do what works and make some sacrifices with a view to dropping 10lbs minimum before Christmas. I am going to blog more frequently; set myself mini targets each day; cold shower/black coffee/ waiting to eat; exercise daily; give up beer; and above all, act like I'm ON A DIET! Not just when it suits me but every day.

Today's mini target is no sweets. They are empty calories and reset my tastebuds to want more sugar.

I know I can do this and I HAVE to do it. The negative stuff about being overweight is beginning to affect my everyday life. I'm out of breath walking up hills or stairs. My feet hurt. I feel fat round the middle. My clothes are a size larger (18) and not terribly flattering. My energy levels have dropped.

All this can be turned around pretty quickly but I need to be a grown up about it not a whiney child.

Watch this space.

We went for a walk yesterday afternoon in the gorgeous sunshine. We walked up our local big hill and it was longer than it has ever been. I'm pleased we did it though as that walk was part of my waking up to getting this done.

Going to the Remembrance service at Bradwell church was another. I know I should have been concentrating on remembrance but there was a lot of hanging around and in the lulls all I could think about was my sore feet in only moderately heeled boots.

Then cooking a Sunday roast for us and Rich's mum. I found myself pouting internally when Rich gave me the slightly smaller portion of sticky toffee pudding. I should not have been having any FFS!!

Then finally at the quiz yesterday evening (a handy victory which should see us top of the league) I did not need the round of sandwiches and handful of crisps.

I'm fired up now so just need to keep this enthusiasm going beyond the first few days and lbs.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Weekend in That London

 So, we went down to London for the weekend.  Friday night was excellent, we met up with an old friend of mine from my trainee solicitor days back in 1991-1992.  We haven't met up for 6 years and it was a last minute call on Friday morning which set it up.  I love it when a (half-assed) plan comes together!!

Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful.  Actually, that's a total lie - it was a bit misty but it quickly turned bright and beautiful.  We had planned to meet the Sheffield boys at London Bridge for a few beers before taking the train down to Charlton so we arrived at 11 (natch). After a pint though,I couldn't stay indoors any longer and decided to walk down the river to the Tower of London to see the poppies.  We had planned to see them on Sunday but it was giving rain so off I went.

Across London Bridge and past this interesting office building right on the river.



I love crossing the Thames.  Especially on a gorgeous, sunny day.  It was ridiculously warm for 1 November.  I was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt and no coat and I was sweating by the time I reached the Tower!


The tide seemed to be running pretty fast.


Selfie time!!  (Seeing as I didn't have a photo-taker elf assistant!)



The Thames Walk path was rammed and very slow moving so I had plenty of time to take some summery pics (on 1 November!).


The crowds were intense.  The authorities had been pleading with people to stay away as it was so busy but I didn't have that option.  When I first arrived I felt that that the crowd would detract from the experience but as I inched closer to the rail the crowd got quieter and more hushed. It was very moving and thought provoking.  I didn't take many photos and just stood and soaked it up for a while.  Thought about all those poor young men (and a few women) heading off to God knows where to do God knows what. Hard to fathom what it must have been like for them.






Then it was a brisk march back across the river.  Me and my hair tried for another selfie!


The Shard (looking a bit like an alien spaceship) and Southwark Cathedral.

 

The pub we were meeting the lads in.  One of them, Sean, has always had the nickname "Mudlark" so he was very excited to be drinking in this, the only pub called The Mudlark in Britain.


Me and the 2 Richards. The other Richard is one of my muckers from the pub quiz team, also a staunch Wednesdayite.



After the pub it was off to the match and an unspectacular 1-1.  Our goal and the first half was good but the second half was dreadful so normal service resumed.  I was happy to get down to The Valley though.  Nice to see a new ground and a new part of London (to me anyway).  It's hard to imagine that the ground was once the largest football ground in England, bigger even than Wembley with a capacity of over 115,000.

As expected it was rainy on Sunday so we went to the British Museum with Natalie, it being on the way to St Pancras.  I haven't been for years and hadn't seen the Norman Foster courtyard.  What an awesome idea.  It has transformed  a rather dank courtyard into a stunning space.



We went to see the Elgin Marbles or the "Parthenon Sculptures" as they are known.  I had this image of a British Museum official being harangued by Greek officials saying "No, no Elgin Marbles here, you can check the inventory if you like but that really doesn't ring any bells.  Sorry old chap".

They were stunning and so alive.  I can see why we don't want to give them back.  They didn't photograph well though so sorry, you'll have to go and see them for yourselves.






On our walk from the Museum to St Pancras we walked through Bloomsbury Square Gardens.  We were striding along not really paying attention to the surroundings but my brain must have been taking something in as I suddenly stopped and went back to one park bench.  There I saw a plaque in memory of a friend of mine from Castleton.   I knew he was a teacher in London when he died but had no idea where or that there was a plaque to his memory.  How lovely to see it there in that beautiful garden adding another layer to his special but too short life.


And then on to the splendour of St Pancras.  What a building.  So good to see it scrubbed up too.



They were filming a period drama in front of the facade  but in between time hoodied youngsters nipped in through the main gates while the rest of us gawked and tried to spot any famous actors (unsucessfully).