Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Our apple tree

Trees generally just do their own thing don't they?  Hanging around in the garden; blossom in spring; apples in the autumn; they need chopping back from time to time; and you have to rake up their leaves come October, somewhat annoyingly but generally you leave them to their tree thing.

Well, our apple tree has added a new move to its repertoire - it fell over in September!  I went out to hang up some washing a few weeks ago and was confused by the tree leaning against the washing line.  On investigation I noted that the whole tree, weighted down by top heavy branches and LOADS of fruit had fallen over in the soft earth after days of rain.  It is not actually lying down but is definitely leaning dramatically.

So, rather than harvesting the fruit gradually throughout the autumn as I usually do, I decided to get the lot down all in a on'er this afternoon.  It was surprisingly taxing.  Picking up the windfalls, picking the easy fruit and then climbing up a ladder to get the high fruit.  Being poked and prodded by twigs and branches and getting my hair taffled up in twigs - I was lucky not to poke my eyes out to be honest!  Then there is the question of what to do with all the apples??

I distributed a few bags to the neighbours as usual; a few bags to the local pubs; and I put ads on local online forums and free ad sites and several people have dropped round for a bag.  One family (friends of mine from Bamford) popped round with the kids to pick a couple of bags.  Wendy is an awesome cook (used to run a gorgeous cafe and bake dozens of cakes each week) so I know my apples will be going to a great home there.  The kids were lovely too - the lad climbing up the conveniently supine trunk to get to the high fruit and the teenage daughter playing with Minty and Shelagh.  So sweet and somehow old-fashioned (in a good way).

Trouble is, I still have bags and bags to get rid of!  I'm going to freeze several batches of stewed apples myself but that will only account for so much.  I still have several bags to give to other friends and family and will work on giving away the rest.  I hate waste!

Not bad exercise either.  I was stiff as a board by this evening though so our dog walk was somewhat gingerly executed.  (That could be the after effects of spinning though too - I have 2 patches of muscle at the top of my calves which are just solid.)  I cannot stretch them out so just have to take everything sloooowly. But that gave the dogs plenty of time to chase golf balls while I strolled along behind.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Spinning Report, Darts and Dominoes and Frank

I was genuinely dreading it.  I only went because I'm meant to be doing 2 classes with Kerrie per week and have not been fulfilling this requirement. Zumba was at 7 so left very little time to shower and change and get to darts and dominoes so spinning at 6pm had to be done.

I entered the class to find, as I expected, that I was the oldest by at least a decade. Most were in their early 20's. The girl next to me used to be a brownie when I was a leader back in the late 1990s!

I noted that spinning must be very good for the physique as several of the women there had gorgeous figures - slender, toned and just generally fit looking.  More work required for me I think.

Anyway, I was set up with my bike and had the controls explained to me and the dread increased.  Luckily I was not linked into the central display of work rates (heart rate?) as about half the women were but I felt as though I was well into the red pretty much from the start.  I found I could just about stick to the rhythm in or out of the saddle but I couldn't add in the upper body work or only in a very limited sense.

In one track she expected you to cycle standing up and then take your hands off the handlebars to tap across your chest or pump in the air and then alternate that with press up movements bending down onto the handlebars.  All while cycling standing up, fast.  I could just about do some repetitions of 4 but when she speeded it up to 2 or even 1, not a chance.

I was quite good at putting on a large resistance to mimic an uphill ride and then just slogging it out fairly steadily.  It was the fast tracks which really did for me.  Anyway, I kept going in some fashion of the whole class but was very relieved to discover (after 30 minutes) that the class was only 45 minutes long - hoooray!!

Will I go back?  Probably when it is the only class I can make but I don't think it is something I would like to do regularly, at least not until I'm a bit slimmer and fitter.  I don't feel I was getting enough out of it as I couldn't keep up so it was all pretty chaotic.  Also, I was starving when I got home and ended up mainlining carbs so it felt somewhat unhelpful.

I'm going to investigate joining the gym for the winter months so doing some more resistance based exercise and hopefully some more manageable classes as well.  And keeping up with the running too as I'm really enjoying that.

In other news I'm loving the new season of darts and dominoes.  I only play dominoes and I'm unbeaten so far this season.  Last night I beat a woman from the Little John team who has been my nemesis.  I've never beaten her before but I did it twice last night as we had her in the pub game as well as the actual match!

I played one game with Richard's "sort of Grandad", Frank.  He was Richard's gran's second husband and was devoted to her, visiting her every day after she had to go into a residential home when she went blind suddenly late in life and couldn't be cared for at home.  She eventually dies a few years ago.  He used to take 2 buses there and back to visit her every day well into his eighties as well as looking after his allotment and tending her first husband's grave.  A real old school gent.

He's Polish and came over here after the war having had, I think, some pretty tough experiences as a teenager in postwar Europe.  He's worked hard and lived in Bradwell for decades and is one of our proper old characters.  It is a great part of the darts and dominoes league that old chaps and women like him have somewhere to come out to every week and socialise when they might otherwise just stay at home.

He turned 90 a few weeks ago and threw a big party - bought himself a brand new (and very smart) suit, shirt, tie and shoes to wear to his party too.  What a fabulous attitude - none of this "I'll wear my old suit, it'll see me out", for Frank.  The highlight of the party was Frank standing up after the meal - not to give a speech but to sing the old Polish national anthem unaccompanied!  It was awesome.

I hope to learn many lessons from Frank as I get older.  Life may change and become somewhat confusing but the important thing is to crack on, keep active, maintain your values and keep giving (and taking) love and friendship right to the end.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Charity starts at home

3 days of mucking out our bedroom wardrobes and the black hole of the storeroom has resulted in 13 bags to be given to charity. But how to do it? Where is the nearest charity shop with handy car parking space right outside? I'm not lugging 13 bags down the High Street, not even for, well, charity.

Well, the Gods of Charitable Giving are with us: we returned from an excursion into Sheffield this afternoon (we had Carolyn with us so couldn't deal with charity bags as well) to find a fresh charity bag on the doorstep. There will be a collection on Tuesday. Our hallway will be emptied without further effort. Praise be!!

We went into Sheffield to have a preliminary chat with the travel agent about flights to Australia next Christmas. It will be expensive but we knew that. We can't book anything until the flights are released next year but it was still exciting to be discussing routes and stopovers. 

We came away with STA brochures full of wildly age - inappropriate tours aimed at backpackering twenty somethings but the pictures were pretty and inspiring!! Sleeping under the stars at Ayers Rock; driving a camper van down the Great Ocean Road; standing at the lookout point in the Blue Mountains; Sydney Harbour Bridge. I just cannot wait.

Gotta go now - I have to go to my first EVER spinning class. Gulp. Wish me luck.  


Lean Queens was pretty good tonight! I dropped 4 lbs taking me (somewhat shamefacedly) to a total drop in 4 weeks of 4.5lbs. So, less than 10lbs to hit one of my targets. And I've made a decent start on the other target of reinstating sweaty exercise as a regular part of my routine.

AND, we went for a run this evening too so that is 3 runs in less than a week! Yee haw!

Frankly I was shattered as we'd had a long tough day working on the house. While Rich spent his third day ripping out a built in wardrobe (horrible but exceedingly solidly built as it turns out), I have been clearing out the store. I have filled 10 throw out bin bags and well over a dozen charity bags as well. So a day of emptying boxes and putting stuff away, breaking up cardboard boxes, tramping up and down stairs, sorting books and lugging stuff around. Doesn't sound like much but I was so tired by 5pm.

Still the weigh in perked me up and the run and a hot bath sorted out my aching muscles. So now I just need to keep the pressure up for this next week and not get all complacent and "ooh, toast" now I've had one good week.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


So this week has been MUCH better than the last 2.  Perhaps I needed to have a bad week and have my ass booted by our (very lovely) Lean Queens (bootcamp) leader Kerrie or perhaps it was just time for me to start taking it more seriously after that decent first week.  Either way, it has been better, easier and quite pleasing.

I have been eating sensibly but not too restrictively; trying to limit bread and cut out alcohol but just go for everything else in moderation.  And, crucially, I'm gradually reinstating sweaty exercise which was my main target at the start of the programme (along with dropping a stone).  Hopefully I will record a drop at the weigh in tomorrow evening.

After my cracking run on Saturday morning with the lovely Beth, I planned another run this lunchtime.  As I set off my chimp was murmuring something about just a short, flat route but, remembering how far we managed on Saturday morning, I swatted that aside and went for the longer loop.  Only 2.5 miles but still not bad, especially as half of that was over damp, long grass so quite tough going. Go me.

Along with an hour of foxtrot this evening desperately trying to revise the old steps as well as learn new steps which we missed over the last 2 weeks, exercise has not been too bad today.  Especially as I spent the rest of the day sorting out the store and chucking or putting away stuff which has been languishing in boxes since we moved into the house nearly 3 years ago!  Strangely satisfying but there's still a way to go.

Below are some pics from our walk with Beth on Sunday.  It was stunning out there on Stanage Edge; a lovely early autumn day.  The photos may seem somewhat lacking in human subjects (apart from my stock model, Richard) as the only photos of me also include my weekend guest who has a no-photo policy.

I managed to persuade Shelagh to pose at the first stile - no smile but eye contact!

Aaah, in't'he sweet??

Minty doing her mountain goat impression - not bad.

North Lees Hall.  I've mentioned this before but Charlotte Bronte modelled Thornfield Hall on this while she stayed in nearby Hathersage when she was writing 'Jane Eyre'.  It's a lot smaller but has a lot of the same attributes and a similar wild location.

It advertised "tea and cakes available at the Hall". They were not!  All was locked up.  Shame.....

Monday, 3 October 2016

Oh my Lord....

I missed ALL of September! How did that happen?

I've just had a weekend visit from a lovely bloggy pal (Beth) and that reminded me how much I love my blog and my bloggy pals and how neglectful I'm being. I've taken loads of sunny walking pics and they have not seen the light of day yet. BAD BLOGGER!

So, I'm tapping this out on my phone before I get up to pledge that I will soon become a reformed and (slightly more) diligent blogger. We're having a week off staying at home doing chores on the shack so that will be the perfect time  to sort out pics and do some catch up posting.

Re bootcamp, it's not actually full on bootcamp and after a great first week I allowed my chimp to lead me astray for the next fortnight and regained my initial drop. I got back on track this week with Beth's encouragement with a fabbie run together along the railway track route. When I say "together" I was aware that she was somewhere on the track ahead of me as she kindly doubled back a few times to check on me!!

I had my revenge however as I'd described the route as "flat-ish" then changed it mid-run to a non flat route....she was somewhat puzzled by the series of inclines but chugged up and down womanfully. I was quite proud of myself to be honest: 40 hilly, steady minutes and I've made a good start to the "getting back on track week". And very nice having a running buddy.

So, I hope you've had a great summer and are looking forward to a fit and healthy autumn. I certainly am.