Saturday, 30 April 2016

Frabgious Day!!

 In case it hasn't impinged upon your world - Sheffield Wednesday are in the play offs!!  We had to get at least a point today, ironically against the only team who could overtake us - Cardiff.  What a massive game it was! We have all been thinking about it and feeling the nerves all week but it's games like this that make your season - not just the result but the full stadium and the fantastic atmosphere.

We only needed a draw but we thrashed them 3-0.  Cardiff didn't really turn up and our boys were totally focussed and devastating.  What an awesome game.

Here we are walking to the ground.

Being nasty football hooligans on the many steps up to the top of the Kop!

3 packed full stands and the away end with a paltry few from Cardiff.  This was potentially their biggest game of the season and only 900/1000 turn up??  We would have taken thousands!  Poor show.

A pre-match selfie.  The chap behind us was a random - but funny!

The traditional display of inflatables before a big game.

The end of season walk around to thank the fans and show off their latest toddlers.  Usually this is annoying because usually some idiots run onto the pitch thus delaying the players coming out. Everyone gets arsey and starts chanting and it's all a bit of a pain.  Today, no-one went on the pitch, probably because we know we're playing on it for the play offs in a fortnight, and it was great!

Then back to the pub in a haze of happy satisfaction.  What a brilliant day.  This little gang of middle-aged blokes amused me.  They got into a huddle and jumped up and down singing and cheering for ages while the young lads at the table behind them watched bemused or carried on staring at their phones.  For true footballing passion you need a seasoning of bitter experience I suspect.  It clearly meant so much to them to have had a good season.

As to whether we will go up through the playoffs, who knows.  We don't even know who we will be playing in the semi-finals yet - one of Burnley (unlikely IMO), Brighton or Middlesbrough.  I'd take 'Boro but we could beat or lose to any of them.  Yay!!  At the beginning of the season I wanted us to finish in the top ten competing for the play offs right to the end and here we are in them! Our manager is a gorgeous, cheeky Portuguese chap called Carlos and he is a genius!

You may have gathered from this stream of consciousness outpouring that I'm a tad thrilled.  I've also gone off piste diet wise.  I meant to have one pint before the game - a local beer called "In Carlos we Trust" - but I ended up sinking 3.  When we came back I stuck to diet coke as I was driving but snuck in a cheeky bowl of curry and poppadum which the lovely landlady provided to her faithful locals. But I have stopped the rot this evening and stuck to a spagetti bolognaise pack - joy.

Hey ho - I went for a 3 mile run this morning so hopefully that will offset some of the naughtiness.

Days like today do not happen often and I loved every minute.  Well done Sheffield Wednesday!!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

I blame Bill

So, I found myself on the 6.33 train to Leicester this morning to attend a seminar on Development Agreements and Urban Regeneration. Irritatingly, that train left me with over an hour to kill in Leicester before the seminar started but the later train arrived 15 minutes late which I thought would be a bit too rude!

On arriving in Leicester my previous usual option for killing an hour - heading to a cafe or a Wetherspoons for a hearty breakfast - was strangely not terribly attractive.  What to do??

I had been reading Bill Bryson's latest travel book about his recent travels around the UK, "The Road to Little Dribbling" (just finished it - very good despite the title). Now Bill, were he to find himself with a spare hour in a strange city, would head out there and see what he could see.  So that is what I did.  I was wearing comfy trainers and the sun was shining brilliantly - no excuse not to go for a walk.

I was curious as to whether  Leicester City's amazing season in the Premiership and possible victory would be visible in the city centre.  It was but not much.  This wedding hire shop had 2 window displays fully blue and whited up to the eyeballs - good show!

(I know this statue has nothing to do with this season but it does show some civic commitment to sport I suppose.)

And Footlocker managed a flag - well, they do sell trainers although not trainers often used for actual sporting endeavours!  In addition I noticed a solitary and probably unauthorised flag hanging from the window of the Council offices.  And that was it.  

I remember visiting Biarritz when Biarritz Olympique rugby club were in the European Cup semi-final (or possibly the final) and every window in the town centre bore a flag or banner in support - Allez B.O!! If you visit a sucessful  town or county in Ireland around cup final time there will be flags, bunting and banners along every road. When did cities stop caring about their local team?  What Leicester CFC is doing is a SERIOUSLY amazing thing and yet you would barely notice it in Leicester city centre.

Maybe it's because every city centre is virtually identical these days so the shops and businesses don't feel connected to where they are sited?  

While the prime zone of Granby Street was horrifically ugly (this building and the Boots took the joint prize for sheer nastiness) there were also loads of great buildings and a good looking market so not all bad.

Like this random clock tower plonked at a junction.  Smart and shiny.

And the Council offices were GORGEOUS! A lovely garden in front complete with ornate fountain just sparkling in the sunshine.  My spirits were lifted as I headed off to be instructed and improved in the ways of commercial development conscious that no British Council will ever again enrich their local area with civic buildings like these.

Before this latest diet I would not have used my hour as well.  I would have sat in a dark pub or cafe and eaten unwisely.  I must remember that this is a much better and more enjoyable use of my time.

As well as the walk, I popped into M&S and tried on some clothes to see where I am sizewise.  The answer is - puzzled.  I tried a selection of 18s - tops, jumpers and cropped trousers.  They all fitted in the sense that they went on and were not overly tight or baggy.  However, none fitted properly or flattered me in any way.  But, even stranger, they all failed to fit in a different way!  One top skimmed my waist and hips nicely but looked weird around the arms and bust.  Another fitted fine on the shoulders and bust but bagged out like a weird, un-guy-roped tent around the middle.  The jumper went on but just looked ridiculous like some sort of hemp sausage casing.  The trousers were probably the best, just about fitting around hips and bum, baggy on waist and tight around the thighs (sigh).

No purchases were made and that may be the end of any shopping trips for me for a while.  I don't care as I don't really give a damn about clothes etc but I seem to have a gap in my wardrobe coming up once my present clothes become tooo loose (which is imminent) so I'll have to do something or I'm going to look very scruffy until I'm into the next size down of which I have loads.

Weigh in result

And it's a good one. Despite eating and drinking on Sunday and Monday I managed to drop 4 lbs last week taking me to 2 stone 2lbs off in total. I am very pleased and happy with that. 2 more weeks to go until I go back to 'normal' dieting. Hopefully I will hit 2 and a half stone off.

I asked the counsellor about coming to class every 4 weeks so that I can buy enough packs for 5:2 or 4:3 and to maintain some accountability and she was fine with that. So that's the plan afterwards.

In fact I am phasing in eating anyway due to the dictates of my golfing schedule. We are playing in the Bank Holiday mixed on Monday and I will be tucking into a tasty post match meal then and am very much looking forward to it already thank you!

Life is exceedingly busy as the moment. Work is very hard and pressured due to chronic understaffing. So much so that I'm considering looking elsewhere. Partly, I admit, for the sheer pleasure of saying "up yours" to certain management who pretend to be understanding while heaping on pressure and expecting more, more and yet more from less.

However, I'm conscious that this would probably be a) cutting my nose off to spite my face - where else will I find such commodious working from home and flexible leave arrangements and b) risking jumping out of the frying pan into the fire  - where else will be any better??

As well as work we have footballing commitments and a huge number of golfing dates. Matches, knockout comps, away days; it's tough!! I'm trying to find dates for a weekend away with my girly pals (so we can catch up with Steph who missed York) and it is proving very tricky. Then another mate has suggested a few days golfing in La Manga - HA!

But better than sitting around doing nothing but eating!!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Food, glorious food (or, a golf break to Breadsall Priory)!

We're not long back from our mini-break to Breadsall Priory near Derby to play golf.  It is a mixed trip organised by a couple of women at my club but we haven't previously been on it.  I agreed to go a few months ago when someone said they were going to have to drop out leaving awkward numbers.  Of course, once it came around, neither of us were really looking forward to it.  We didn't know who else would be going.  Would they all be old fogeys or mega rich/snooty etc??

As it happened our fears were misplaced.  They WERE mostly pretty old and there was a table of folk we wouldn't be bothered about spending a great deal of time with but there were 3 more tables of very nice people and our playing partners yesterday and today were great.   I knew both the women but not well but Rich hadn't previously met the male halves of the 2 couples and now he does and has a couple more contacts to play in Saturday medals with so that is good news.

(The mens' section can be a cliquey sometimes, not because they mean to be but people do just tend to play with the same people all the time.  The ladies' section is a bit more open - we sign up for Wednesday comps so tend to mix it up a bit more and have a lot of drawn competitions too.  So, if Rich's mates can't play he gets a bit stuck for partners.)

Anyway, back to Breadsall.  The weather forecast had been AWFUL but we got away with it.  It was chilly and cloudy and we had a few showers but none long lasting and there was a smattering for sunny spells too.  This hole below is probably the prettiest on the course - a gorgeous view of lakes and woodland.  The sun came out just as we approached the hill which was fortuitous.  The lake was alive with moorhens and their chicks, Canada geese and their goslings and the bluebells were flowering in the woods behind.

We didn't play wonderfully well but not badly either.  Rich held it together yesterday and I played pretty well today though which was gratifying and had 3 birdies too which is never bad!  We picked up a minor prize so another tenner voucher to go onto my account at the pro shop- must spend it soon.

Foodwise, I ate and drank whatever I fancied all day yesterday and today and je ne regret rien!  I didn't go mad but had a few glasses of red wine with dinner and a hearty hotel breakfast this morning.  I toyed with the idea of coming home and going back onto the packs for supper but this time I didn't.  We were hungry after our round having not eaten since breakfast time so we stopped at a pub a few miles from home and enjoyed a delicious early supper to round off our weekend.

Richard is out this evening playing darts (he was knackered and didn't really fancy it but off he went as duty calls) and I knew there would be no food in the house.  Also, we had had such a lovely, even romantic despite all the old folk, weekend together and I was feeling all loved up and cherished so I didn't want to return to real life with a crash.  I thought a nice supper together would ease us home again which it did.

The menu was a challenge.  Full of tasty looking, fattening options.  I so nearly said "hang it" and opted for one of:  pork belly with all the trimmings; big cheeseburger with chips and onion rings; or chicken masala tiffin dish complete with creamy curry, rice, dahl, naan, poppadum etc.  But, in the end, I choose more wisely and picked sea bass with scallops with prawn and pea risotto.  It was not a big portion but it was tasty and perfect; just what I wanted.

I need to remember that when I go back to proper eating again.  I have a tendency always to think that, if I'm having the "treat" of a meal out, I should go for the more indulgent option just because I'm allowed.  When actually the more sensible dish, calorifically speaking, might well be even nicer.

So, it's back on the packs tomorrow and who know what my upcoming weigh in will bring but, whatever the result, it will not be a disaster and we have had a great, sporting weekend.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Another great day out

Well, it was off to Derby bright and early for us today.  A win would have seen us almost certainly into the play-offs but it was not to be.  We took the lead on 70 minutes and held onto it for 10 minutes but an equaliser came and ultimately a draw was all we could manage.  Cardiff were also drawing but were awarded a late penalty in injury time so are now only 4 points behind us, with 6 points to play for and we play them next week!!  While we are in the driving seat, it is NOT assured or comfortable.

The great thing is that we played really well against a tough team who are already in the play-offs so there is every chance that we will beat Cardiff at home next week.  Even a point will do it.

I'm nervous, really nervous.

Anyway, we went to our usual pub in Derby, The Alexandra Hotel and enjoyed our usual good time before the game.  No breakfast today though as it was an early kick-off so we were all starving by the end of the game which probably explained why the boys were extra, erm, giddy drunk and I succumbed to some real food.  I had forgotten my bar which was a rookie mistake and just couldn't last so bought a salmon, pearl barley, spelt and green lentil salad with lemon and dill dressing from WH Smiths of all places.  God - did it taste good!!

Our mate Briggsy.

The ground was pretty full and there was a great atmosphere - lots of singing from both sets of supporters and lots of good action to enjoy.  It was everything a game of football should be a lot more often than it is.

The National Anthem was sung before the game for St George's Day too which was a nice touch.

Derby County FC may have dropped the ball somewhat in the attention to detail stakes.....this one of 3 such posters seen in the ladies loo

The boys headed off to the chippie for chips and kebabs while I tucked into my virtuous salmon salad.

I suspect it may not be the best of weeks for me this week.  Not only has there been some contraband consumed today but tomorrow we're off back down to Derby (Breadsall Priory) for a golfing break with some couples from the club (think we'll be the youngest and probably the poorest by some margin).  I will be eating real food while we're there.  I'm not paying for a hotel and not eating.  I will be sensible though and hopefully it won't cost me too much.  Not too much to drink and we'll be golfing too.

The scales have seen a further drop taking me to 2 stone off for the last couple of days.  Pleasingly, I feel much thinner in jeans and around my face and neck and the long walk to the ground was a breeze compared to a few weeks ago.    

Thursday, 21 April 2016

It's all relative

I was very excited this morning to see a new stone bracket on my scales.  Combine that with feeling thinner and you have a somewhat dangerous combination.  That sense of achievement and success can sometimes lead to slacking off and picking.  To be fair it did lead to some picking today but only reasonably benign items - a mushroom cut into my spag bol pack; a crust of bread and butter and a slice of ham.  Not going to do much damage and I'll stop it while at work tomorrow.

Anyway, this set me thinking.  Although I have dropped nearly 2 stone and my trousers are falling off me, I'm still nowhere near slim or where I want to be.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking myself or my achievement and I feel great but this is not the end game.

Maybe it's time for some numbers?   I consulted some old posts to see where I was last year and the year before that and noticed something quite interesting (in a masochistic kind of way).

When I last dieted properly in January-April last year, I started at 17.04 stone and over 4 slow, steady, months dropped 16 odd lbs taking me on 27 April to 15.11.8.  Today on 21 April I weighed in at exactly 15.11.8 having dropped 26 lbs.  So, not only had I put on all that I'd dropped, but I'd added an extra 10 lbs to the total!  Gah!

In 2014, I had a go at Slimming World and managed to drop 9 or 10 lbs taking me to around 15.11 before we set off for Malaysia in early May.  By mid summer I was up to 16.7 and heading back to the 17's.

So, while I'm pleased with what I've managed to do in the last 6 weeks, I'm also a little cheesed off with myself that I let this happen in the first place.  Or am I?  Well, I know this is a learning process and I suppose I have learned something:  I knew that I was getting out of hand and I took serious steps to put it right before it was too late so that is good.  It has not been too painful so that means I'm less rebellious child and more adult about my choices.

I feel as though I have reset myself back into diet and exercise and I have the tools to keep it  going when I get back to proper food.  I better had as this is my best chance for ages of regaining the 13's and that is what I want to do in 2016.  I do NOT want to repeat the pattern of recent years of dropping weight in the first few months an then regaining that weight plus more thereafter.

Remind me I said this if I seem to be straying!

Stone the crows!

You know my scales? The surly, begrudging, sticky ones?? Well I stood on them this morning to see a 3 lb drop from yesterday morning. 3lbs!!

All good things come to those who wait, they say.

I'm celebrating by having my shake and coffee outside in the sunshine before I start work. Yay!!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Running further (but not faster)

It's been hectic over the last few days so I'll squeeze a quick update in before I fall asleep on the sofa.

I went for a run in the gorgeous sunshine yesterday.  We went up to Bamford Rec and ran along the old railway route up to the Ladybower reservoir and back.  To be honest, we didn't get all the way to the dam wall as this would have been waaay longer than my current running distance but we hit the gate not far before it.  And the total distance was 5.85km taking me to 15.25km of my marathon target.  I'm getting there.

The glorious Bamford Edge.

A carpet of yellow aconites.

I must admit to stopping for a chat - well, I couldn't not pass the time of day with Rich's mum, Sue could I?

A new footbridge has appeared at Bamford Mill!  All shiny and fresh and not as worryingly "bouncy" as the last one. But retaining its rustic charm.

Tuesday evening was a trip into Sheffield for the football  - Sheffield Wednesday vs MK Dons.  On the face of it MKD are locked at the bottom of the league and should have been easy meat.  But we diehard fans know better.

We knew it would be a tough game and it was.  A sluggish first half left us at nil nil.  We picked up spectacularly in the second but sadly so did the defence of our opponents.  We hit the woodwork 4 times, 2 world beating saves from their rookie keeper and desperate defending from them across the board.  So it ended as a stalemate,  Luckily Cardiff, our nearest rival lost so we ended up clawing our way to a 6 point lead over 7th place.  We fight on.

Today I was, of course, golfing.  I did not follow up my good round from last Wednesday and ended up in 7th place.  Gah! That's all I'm going to say about that!  But it was good exercise in lovely sunshine.

This evening I had to go into Sheffield for my weigh in so arranged to meet up with Kerry for a walk beforehand.  She took me for a magical walk through the heart of the city from Endcliffe Park along Porter Brook out into the countryside.  It was gorgeous.  Very busy with folk running, jogging, walking dogs, cycling and just sitting enjoying the evening but lovely nonetheless.  The dogs were excited to be in the big city (which looked very countrified to be honest) and trotted around sniffing and snuffling.

She tells me that you can walk along this route all the way out to The Fox House pub on the moor between Sheffield and the Hope Valley.  We're going to do it later this summer when I can have a nice meal at the pub at the end of it!

Amazingly I didn't take any photos as Kerry and I were too busy chatting.  Next time.

Anyway, onto the weigh in.  I was very pleased with 5 lbs off taking me to a total of 26 lbs in 6 weeks (well, 5 if you don't count our trip to Dublin).  So close to 2 stone.  I'm planning on another 3 weeks on the strict plan before I go back to at least some eating.  Hopefully I can manage at least another 9 lbs so I make 2 and a half stone off in this strict phase.  That's the aim anyway.

Monday, 18 April 2016

In which Minty is not disappointed

Last Sunday I took the dogs for a quick walk and short changed them somewhat.  At the turning point of our walk Minty asked very nicely if we could head onto the golf course and around the fishing ponds.  I didn't have enough time though so back home we went.

This Sunday, however, after our round of golf, we did not short change them.  We walked up the path which I posted photos of last week and then onto the golf course.  It was late-ish afternoon and no golfers about so we could walk along the fairway rather than the woodland path.  

I realised then why the dogs like the golf course so much.  Richard usually takes them on this walk and has, I now discover, been teaching them the fun game "chasing golf balls".

In this game, Rich waits for the dogs to pay attention...

He then throw one ball as far as he can.  Minty races after it.  Shelagh doesn't stand a chance.  So, as soon as Minty is ahead, he throws a second ball, slightly slower just past Shelagh.  She then diverts off after that one and both are happy with their spoils!

I was happy too - taking pictures of my lovely family.

After the golf course, we walk back around the fishing ponds.  Once again, it was very quiet so dogs off lead but no swimming.  You wouldn't think that there is a 30lb carp mooching around in there would you?  But the son of a friend of ours caught one just last week - a total monster!  I don't understand fishing at all but that must have been a thrill (and thrown back of course).

The scales begrudgingly shifted downwards by a surly half lb this morning.  They must have heard of my frustration and decided to throw me a metaphorical bone.

Work was tough today.  Loads of work and a high profile meeting late on in the afternoon.  I stayed true to the plan though despite temptation.  I didn't have time to go home after work so straight to dancing and that is where I strayed.  I stopped on the way to buy a birthday card and, pouff, bought a packet of chicken breast half of which was eaten in the car and rest of which made it into my vegetarian biryani food pack (improving it greatly BTW).

So, I'm still picking but hopefully not enough to prevent a modest drop tomorrow.

On the plus side, dancing was a dream. The cha cha - we remembered the new steps.  The rumba - we not only remembered the new steps from a month or so ago but we also mastered new ones.  The tango -twice round without an error - we were dancing, stylin' no less!  The waltz - we got the start right; couldn't remember the new steps at the end but it was the end of the class so we totally ignored that and carried on regardless.  It was brilliant, totally uplifting.