Sunday, 24 November 2013
Persistent calling about the same thing. "You receive this service from us, but did you know that you could save blah blah blah per cent if you switch your phone/TV etc....".
Now times are hard these days and everyone's out to save money wherever they can, but do we really need reminding 3 or 4 times a day that "if you switch....."? I know from talking to some other people that they've had some negative experiences when they switched phone/internet/TV services.
Even though you tell the caller that you're not interested in changing at this time and you will contact them should you change your mind, that's not enough for them. They will call and call and call until they break you down. But I've got news for them - this is just making me more and more determined not to take what they're offering. I've even made a complaint to the ISP about it. Which is presumably going straight to Deleted Items.
Strangely, since I made that complaint there has been a noticeable drop in my internet connection speed....
Sunday, 6 October 2013
- returning to work after 2 weeks off
- The-Virus-Which-Refuses-To-Die despite antibiotics and every lozenge and decongestant imaginable;
- the impending doom of jury service.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Holidays excepted, the last 11 days have been pretty horrendous thanks to what started as a cold and turned into a horrible throat infection, leaving me with one of the worst, prolonged, forceful, painful coughs and sinus infections ever. Every decongestant, pastille, lozenge and the always-reliable Olbas Oil (pictured above) was tried but only turned out to provide short-term relief. Finally, I admit defeat. I give up. The doctor's appointment is made - bring on the antibiotics and whatever else they want to prescribe!
Hopefully whatever I'm prescribed tomorrow will help to salvage the last days of my fortnight off...
One year from now we will know whether or not Scotland has voted for independence from the UK. The independence referendum takes place on 18th September 2014
The question, of course, is "Should Scotland be an independent country?". Well yes of course in an ideal world it probably should be, but we are a country already. We have our own flag, national education system, justice system, parliament, banknotes, national football team, etc etc.
But it is not an ideal world.
Scotland has not recovered from the destruction brought by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s as a brutal punishment from our traditionally left-wing country not voting for her party. Unemployment, child poverty, declining living standards, lack of housing have all been major issues in this country, even in the 'boom years' before the banking crash hit in 2008. There are particular cultural issues in this country which remain unresolved - sectarianism, anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drug use. Would independence change any of these issues? I very much doubt it. Scotland needs fixed before it can even consider going down the independence route. Slap bang in the middle of a worldwide economic recession is the worst possible time to even think about the financial costs of independence for example.
The SNP's win at the last Scottish parliament elections gave them a mandate to run an independence referendum. After all these years in power, I'm still not sure what the SNP stands for apart from independence, and the cult of personality around its leader Alex Salmond and sidekick Nicola Sturgeon. I'll say one thing for them - their management of the media is fantastic. Not a night goes by without them being on the Scottish news on TV. Do they ever take a day off? Probably not. But they are also supposed to be running this country. Yet they remain a one-issue party, only occasionally throwing out crumbs to all the disillusioned socialists, myself included, but always coming back to "....in an independent Scotland..." and so it goes on.
Salmond has been very smart in his choice of 18th September 2014: coming off the back of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which I guess he's hoping has the same national-pride effect as London 2012 had on the UK as a whole.
My disinterest in the independence cause could probably be traced back to my own non-Scottish ancestry which has always given me a more international outlook. But regardless of our origins and ancestry, apathy is in our blood - just look at the turnout for local/European elections, for example, and most people you speak to are more concerned about trying to find enough money to feed themselves or to pay bills, and couldn't give a hoot about the whole boring political circus. (Contrary to TV anchorman 'I'm John MacKay' on the STV News at Six who seems to think everything revolves around the tedious independence debate).
I'm no patriotic flag-waving Brit either though: the 'English-as-British' dominance of our media and day-to-day life can be a major pain, especially around the time of the football World Cup/European Championships/royal weddings/Queen's various jubilees etc. Those times suddenly make you proud to be Scottish! There's a lot of things wrong with being ruled by a UK government - especially one with David Cameron in charge. Where there is poverty, recession and hopelessness, may we bring more poverty, recession and hopelessness....every blow administered by Cameron is further fuel for the Yes camp to boost their campaign.
It's a shame they didn't give us the option to vote on 'devo max' - a more appealing option which would allow Scotland to remain part of the UK whilst being given extra autonomy on issues like taxes, welfare benefits etc. This option could also be offered to the other countries within the UK, thus keeping everyone happy. That may be a simplistic view, but I'd have voted for it as I'm sure would many others - unlike the straightforward 'yes/no' option - the result of which, regardless of whatever it will be, will only bring an unsatisfactory conclusion. Except, presumably for John MacKay, who will have more newsroom fodder to bang on about for a long time to come. In the immortal words of Avicii: "wake me up when it's all over"!!
So anyway, self-determined digital detox is fine, but not when it's forced on you. Especially the week before our holiday, when the control freak that I am goes into overdrive and needs to research every aspect of a trip.
In these days of smartphones and tablets, people may question the need to have a laptop at all. But there's a lot of tasks which you need a laptop for, apart from the internet. I do a lot of "word processing" as it was once quaintly known back in the day. You can't print to your old-school wired printer, or scan to your old-school scanner, or access that digitised recipe archive. You can't shop and print off that confirmation email. You can't watch obscure telly clips with the hdmi wired up to the telly. So there in so many words this is my digital life, my friends. Which needs a laptop.
Anyway, it was out with the old ....
...the seemingly future-proof Acer Aspire. I thought we would grow old together, being parted only for system upgrades as and when. But that was not to happen, as it came to the end of its life just 3½ years after its arrival. For this is 2013 and electrical equipment is not built to last - that's how the manufacturers make their money after all. A computer is almost instantly obsolete the day after you buy it, depreciating in value to zilch with the arrival of faster processors, bigger memory, bigger drives.
In with the new....
Meanwhile, I've started up a savings fund and putting by a couple of quid per week to save up for the next one....! #ohyeoflittlefaith
Friday, 13 September 2013
Sunday, 1 September 2013
The unseasonably hot weather of July gave way to more traditional Scottish summer weather - i.e. lots of rain and four-seasons-in-one-day although it has to be said that the temperatures were still fairly agreeable and all in all, it has probably been one of the best summers in years, weather-wise.
However, this month the stress of the working week which has built up over the last few months crossed over into my personal life and I found myself unable to handle it all - anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and a very noticeable personality change from a usually happy, cheerful person to a sour-faced miserable wreck. Although when you reach that low point there is only one place to go, and that's up. And there are always some sobering things in life which make you realise just how lucky you are.
So I am starting September with a new, blank page and ready to write a much happier story. After all, September is always my main holiday month, with two weeks off work and a lovely city break to look forward to, and I am back blogging again which always makes me happy :)
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Monday, 22 July 2013
It's all in the name: a summery, lightweight scent of cherries, which is one of my favourite smells anyway. I wasn't so keen on "Sexy Graffiti" which I bought last year, as the initial strawberry scent gave way to something more reminiscent of a household cleaner or a washing-up liquid. (!)
Cherry in the Air has been perfect for this lovely warm summer, and as a fan of all fruity/citrus smells I would thoroughly recommend it. The only negative thing I can say is that, as with all summer fragrances, the smell doesn't stay around for very long, I've checked out some online reviews and this perfume doesn't really appeal to everyone, but I like it anyway.
I'd been thinking for a while about trying the Universal Contour Wrap to kick-start my inch loss regime. This is a treatment offered in many beauty salons and involves being smothered in clay and wrapped up in bandages, then when they are unwrapped after an hour or so, you should have lost some inches as all the horrible toxins are removed from your body. So far so good, however it has to be said that in these times of reecession and watching your money, the cost of around £200 for 3 treatments is a bit steep.
Happily, there is another, cheaper way to do this treatment - at home. The Universal Contour Wrap people sell a "Self-Slim Kit" which includes all the equipment you need for approximately three treatments, and it only costs £40. One other thing you need for the treatment is a "sauna suit" which is a top and pair of trousers made of silvery metallic-plastic material, which you put on after wrapping up the bandages. This costs £35 from the Universal Contour Wrap people, however you can get it at the moment from Argos for £6.99.
So, I ordered the Self-Slim Kit and bought the Sauna Suit, and was ready to transform myself yesterday morning into a spacesuit-wearing bandage-wrapped mummy, all in the cause of inch loss. You must measure the areas where the clay is being applied before the treatment, and note the measurements so that you can compare this with the results after the treatment.
The 'Slim Clay' is applied first. This is rather runny, so it's a little bit more difficult to apply than expected. The bandages are soaked in warm water then the water is squeezed out and you proceed to wrap the bandages around the area you are treating. After applying the bandages, it's on with the "spacesuit" and lie down and relax for 60 minutes.
After the 60 minutes, it's off with the spacesuit, unwrap the bandages, wipe off any extra clay and then the moment of truth - measuring time. You need to be very careful that you are measuring the exact same area before the treatment to get the correct result. Over the waist and thigh-to-knee area which I treated yesterday, there was an inch loss of - are you ready? - 8½ inches in various places. The skin is so much smoother and there has been a definite reduction in cellulite.
Of course this treatment is only a quick-fix, and long-term results are only guaranteed with a healthy eating/exercise regime. As it is a detox, it is a good idea to keep the nasty toxins away for a while, so I'm having a few follow-up 'healthy days', drinking lots of water and avoiding coffee and cola. Which is a major challenge as caffeine is my drug of choice. However, it is a small price to pay to get started on what will be a long task ahead. This time there are no goals, no targets, no deadlines. I'm focusing on inch loss rather than weight loss this time round, and not becoming a slave to the scales.
But having a few weeks of sunshine, dry weather and clear skies has completely changes our lives and given us a glimpse into what life could be like if we actually had proper, defined seasons. People are smiling more, they're in a better mood, they're being nicer to each other. We're all happier.
For the first few months of this year I struggled, not just with my usual winter blues/SAD but also with stress and anxiety, and completely lost my confidence. (One particular benefit of this nice summer has been the vast improvement in my mood and getting my confidence back, particularly at work, which has helped me through all the challenges presented by a heavy workload and staff shortages).
However, in the first half of the year, I turned to comfort/binge eating, gaining a stone over a short period, and my physical health plummeted. Where I previously power-walked uphill to work, it became a struggle to even power-crawl.
You will know from previous posts that I did try to get the weight off, but these were only very short-lived with no commitment. Over recent weeks, the realisation about what I've been doing to my body became very apparent, firstly going on holiday and then during the recent hot spell. All those summer clothes hanging in the wardrobe, which can't be worn because they don't fit any more. Going into fitting rooms and not recognising the person staring back at me. How did I allow this to get so bad? It has finally given me the motivation to do something about it.
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Compared to the last couple of years, we've actually had quite a decent last few weeks which probably constitutes "summertime". From May into late June, the sun remembered to come out, the rain actually remembered to go off, and the temperatures were just perfect - for us, that would be the 21/22 degrees as stated above.
Then we were plunged into winter again, and even had to resort to central heating. In June!
In recent days however, the real hot summer has arrived, with temperatures heading up to 30 degrees. Now regular readers will know that Scotland is not known for its good weather - a "good spell" is two dry days in a row. So as you can imagine, it doesn't take much for all the "weeds" to come out - and I'm not just talking about my much-neglected back garden here - as the parade of fashion disasters hits the streets. I'm still in a state of trauma from the guy with the 9 months pregnant belly and the dangerously low-slung shorts who was walking in front of me all the way down the road on the way home yesterday.
Being the pale-skinned impersonation of a milk bottle that I am, I take the same precautions at home as I do abroad: cover up and slap on the factor 50+. So please excuse me if I don't want to join in the sun-worshipping. But a few more weeks of dry, reasonably warm weather, would do nicely.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Needless to say, my back "garden" a.k.a. jungle, hasn't seen a lawnmower all year. Until today when we had the annual ritual of the first cut of the year, closely followed by me complaining all night about aches and pains and how flippin' exhausted I feel. In other words, the usual.
The little fitness regime does seem to be paying off though, as I am actually beginning to feel fitter and today I was able to walk uphill and downhill without the aid of the knee support bandages. Getting there slowly but surely!!
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Recent weeks haven't been great. I've been experiencing lots of stress and anxiety, or more to the point I've been struggling to deal with it. Last week was particularly distressing as I was 'nominated' to speak at a work event in front of a very large group of people in a large hall. It was a pretty embarrassing experience all in all, but I'm beginning to laugh about it now. Which is a big change from last week, when I couldn't laugh about anything.
My mood swings are on the up again, and I'm getting back to my usual upbeat cheery self (although still increasingly grumpy about almost everyone and everything in the world). I have so much to be thankful for and that keeps me on the bright side.
I'm heading into one of my favourite times of year, the spring holiday. Although it couldn't be more different this year... Out goes the short break and in comes a week long Eastern Mediterranean cruise! Just a few hours after the credits roll on the Eurovision final, we'll be heading off on our adventure. It's a whole new experience for us and of course I'll be writing my travel journal every step of the way and publishing excerpts from the cruise diaries over at EuropeCrazy.
In the meantime, there's lots of planning and preparation to be getting on with, so that's what I'm concentrating on this weekend!
Monday, 1 April 2013
During one of the coldest spells a couple of weeks ago, the boiler at EuropeCrazy HQ developed a major fault which resulted in us being left with no heating/hot water for various periods of time and a continuous 48 hour spell. No wonder I was comfort eating (more about that later....)
I thought it would be a good opportunity to post a pic of my two little Easter chicks. Aren't they cute? These are knitted by the mum of one of my friends at work, who is shortly due to deliver a little chick of her own in May. There's a massive baby boom in my office at the moment which makes me wonder -was the TV really that bad a few months ago?? :)
So what happened to the fitness regime, I hear you ask? Well, sad to say, it crashed and burned. The snow/bad weather put paid to my long outdoor walks, I've been comfort eating and snacking relentlessly, and some days I'm so mentally and physically exhausted that I have no energy to exercise after work.
But with only 7 weeks to go until my holiday, can it be turned around? I think it can, although not with as significant results as I'd hoped for. If I'd continued the February fitness regime I might have been looking at a dropped dress size by now. Oh well these things happen....as that well-known saying goes, "the diet starts tomorrow" and it'll once again be time to start paying in sweat. And that's no April Fool!
Monday, 4 March 2013
I tried very hard to keep the momentum going and got yet another good result, with another 2lbs off, making it a total of 5lbs lost in 2 weeks.
My fitness levels are on the up, as demonstrated by a 2.5 mile lunchtime walk in town last Wednesday which took 30 minutes and involved some rather steep climbs. However since Friday, my willpower seems to have taken some time out and I've decided to take a break from the scales this week. Next weigh-in will now be on 15th March.
Saturday, 23 February 2013
By Thursday, my body ached all over, but there was no pain when I took to the scales to discover that I had lost no less than 3lbs this week! That's a shock result, as I'm not one of those people who loses a lot of weight very quickly - as all those years on Weight Watchers Online would testify.
Needless to day I'm very happy with the rewarding end to what's been a non-stop week.
I'm not walking today as it's snowing outside and there's lots of housework waiting to be done :( however I'll be back into the exercise routine again today after a couple of days' break from it. Not expecting to lose so much weight next week but will start to focus on inch loss: after all, that's my main goal this time so that I can get back into my holiday clothes for the cruise which is now just 3 months away....
Saturday, 16 February 2013
However I have been galvanised this week for one very good reason: the holiday is booked. As I mentioned the other day over at EuropeCrazy, we're going on a cruise and I'll need to get myself ship-shape (groan).
I've decided to focus on improving my fitness and losing inches over the next three months, and thanks to the offers of the week in Lidl I now have two extra weapons in my war on weight! Ladies and gentlemen: sauna shorts and sauna belt!
Saturday, 26 January 2013
I have had an utterly miserable week, my mood's been at rock bottom and when I feel like that I can't stand being around people (with a couple of notable exceptions). I have also been experiencing nasty headaches and needless to say there has been a whole lot of comfort eating, no exercise and no self-discipline. I hate feeling like this, but I've been there a million times before and know that this feeling will only be temporary.
So I have decided yet again to make another fresh start, as time's getting on, chop chop, we're almost at the end of January!
Next update in 2 weeks.
Monday, 21 January 2013
Today The Local (link) published the list of the most popular baby names in Sweden for 2012. What immediately strikes me is that many of the names in the list don't sound that "Swedish" at all - William is top of the boys' list, where you can also names like Elliot, Kevin, Julian, Colin, Levi, Eddie and - wait for it - Elton (!).
Meanwhile, Alice tops the girls list where there are more conventional Swedish girls' names alongside the likes of Nellie, Tyra, Alicia, Nova and Siri.
On the whole though, some sense has prevailed, unlike in my own country where there is a horrendous fashion for mis-spelling names to make them that bit more original. Why call your daughter Abigail when you can call her...oh...Abbiegayle? Abi-Gale? Abby-Gail? Sounds like an Abi-fail to me.
Or maybe you want to keep it brief. Why give your son a name when you can call him AJ? CJ? DJ? TJ? Tee-Jay? Tea-Jae? Tea-Bag? (right, that's enough!!)
And don't start me on that 2012 crop of Kayden, Jayden, Jaydyn, Cian, Kayleb, Kristofer, Maddisyn, Mirren, Murron, Summer, Storm, Rain, Willow....the list is endless. And I pity those poor schoolteachers having to differentiate between Jaden, Jayden and Jaydyn!
What the hell, maybe I'm just bitter and twisted because Laura is out of fashion :)))
Anyway I'll stop now and direct you to a really funny old website http://www.stupidkidnames.com/ which truly does what it says on the tin.
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Initially I wasn't going to weigh myself but changed my mind and now the weigh-ins will take place fortnightly and I will measure on alternate weeks.
Almost three weeks in and things are going reasonably well, considering that I'm still polishing off the great post-Christmas mountain of sweets! I have lost 2lbs so far, but am particularly delighted that I've lost 4 inches from various places. That's probably thanks to the mini-stepper and the extra walking.
It's only the beginning and there is a long long way to go, I'm not expecting miracles overnight but I'm hoping for some big results by the time of my holiday in May. (I'm very excited about that: expect an announcement within the next four weeks or so, all being well). My plan will have three phases: between now and May, between May and September, and between September and Christmas.
January hasn't really been easy though. Stress, almost daily headaches and a nasty sinus infection so far. I've also been very tired, too tired to blog. Nice things have happened too, though, and on the whole I'm keeping the January blues at bay.
Fortnightly updates to follow....
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
The days of staying up all night after the bells are now long gone: these days, staying power is in very short supply so I retired very early to listen to Radio Five Live for a while and then it was lights out just after 1.00 am. Living life on the edge eh!!!
I finished work on Christmas Eve and have been on holiday since then: it's been a brilliant, relaxing time but all good things have to come to an end. Talking of which, the dismantling of the EuropeCrazy HQ Christmas tree (pictured above) ceremony also took place today. It's like the closing ceremony of the Olympics, only without the flag being lowered, or a speech from Seb Coe, or numerous rotten musical performances. (Although with regard to the latter, we did have a 'top tunes of 2012' show playing on one of the music channels: insert witty remark here...!)
Tomorrow is the last day of my Christmas and New Year leave and then it's back to work on Thursday :( I feel completely unwound, but no doubt that feeling will be short-lived once Thursday morning comes!
As ever, I got my hopes up for the sales but only Boots and Matalan delivered: I'm sorted for bath stuff, perfume and cut-price knitwear for the rest of the year :)
Over the past 6 months I lost my dieting-mojo and the weight-gain went out of control. As usual, the shops are full of fitness DVDs and the newspapers are full of the usual old 'new year, new you'-style rubbish. Yes I absolutely do need to lose weight and get fit, but this year however I'm flying solo on the dieting front and not following any official weight-loss plan: only the EuropeCrazy Frank Sinatra "I Did It My Way" diet and exercise plan between now and the end of April. No crash diets here folks: just a sustained period of healthy eating and sensible exercise, punctuated by the good things in life - this time of the year is dark and depressing enough without denying yourself some treats! I will only weigh myself on the last day of every month, so check back here on 31st January for a progress report.
So what's ahead in 2013? Well, it's an odd-numbered year so there's no Olympics and no summer football tournament to distract us: let's just hope that the weather is better this year so that there will be lots of exciting adventures to write about over the summer months. And then there's the small matter of our spring and summer holidays to plan :)))))
Saturday, 1 December 2012
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Since an illness a few years ago threw my metabolism into chaos, I've been fighting the weight loss war ever since, with mixed results. Of all the weight loss plans around, I would definitely say that Weight Watchers Online is the very best, the easiest to follow, and it does bring definite results. I would always defend it in an argument when those followers of other weight loss plans tried to convince me that their diet was right and mine was wrong. What any weight loss plan requires is constant commitment for it to work, and unfortunately, for whatever reason, I can't manage that level of commitment any more.
Since returning to WW exactly two years ago this month, I worked hard and by the spring of 2011 I'd reached my own preferred target weight and did the impossible - dropped a dress size.
It wasn't long before the good work was undone and I proceeded to comfort-eat my way through the past 18 months. There were brief bursts of effort but for every two steps forward there were three steps back. I'm just not mentally focused on the rules of dieting any more, and the weekly weigh-in has become a thing of dread.
Which is why I've made a big decision: to quit dieting and the weekly weigh-in. I am stressed and anxious enough as it is, without the added tyranny of the scales. Why do we torture ourselves in this way?
That's not to say that I have given up on losing weight and getting fit: the method is just going to be a bit different, that's all, and I know what I need to do to get back into my "thinner" clothes again. I know it may sound trivial but you can become obsessed with what weight you are. What really matters is being fit and healthy. Here goes....
Monday, 19 November 2012
Saturday, 13 October 2012
Where have the last few weeks gone? One week is racing into another and I've been either too busy or just too tired to blog, as it's been quite a busy (and slightly stressful) time.
Inevitably I'll be dragging the SAD lamp out of the cupboard soon - yet another unavoidable symptom of "summer" (although we didn't have one) turning into autumn and winter. However I am tackling it head-on with a diet and fitness regime to take my mind off it all.
Drastic measures had to be taken, so over the past three weeks I've gone back to basics with the combination which works best: doing Weight Watchers Online combined with lots of walking and exercise. There have also been social events, lunches, dinners etc, so it hasn't been easy! I have lost 2lbs in 3 weeks, which maybe doesn't sound much to those people who lose about 5lbs in a week, but I like to go at my own pace and that just suits me fine. Most importantly I've lost 4" from various places (!) in the past 3 weeks. Early days, but so far, so good.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Now, I love music, always have done, always will do. And lots of that music demands to be played loud (although as a long-time flat-dweller that also has to be balanced against respect for your neighbours and avoiding an ASBO).
Then there is the issue of personal music through headphones: when I'm out walking with the iPod on, the volume is only ever at background-music level and I'm always aware of the surrounding street noises. As I sit here typing this post, I am listening to a random set of tunes through a powerful, high-quality pair of headphones but at a lower and more bearable volume which allows me to think at the same time.
So what is all this leading to, I hear you ask? I refer, ladies and gentlemen, to the curse of noise. Specifically, the need for music to be played at as ear-shatteringly loud as possible within the most confined space in any social setting. That was probably one of the main reasons I quit the social scene - my hearing isn't great and I don't have a loud voice, so it's double-difficult to attempt a conversation or hear what someone else is saying as they try to compete with 10 million decibels. Some people seem to manage, but over the years I haven't yet mastered the art of conducting a conversation all night whilst being blissfully unaware of the racket. By the end of the evening your throat is wrecked by shouting and you end up with a voice as deep as Barry White's.
But what if the DJ turns it up even louder, the thumping hum starts to feel as if it's vibrating through your stomach, and unpleasantness turns to distress? Where's the fun in that? Call me a killjoy, but when that happens it stops being fun for me.
It's a shame really, as many a good night in good company is ruined by the volume being turned up to the max :(
Sunday, 23 September 2012
One of the best things about going to Nice for a holiday is, of course, the food. I particularly like the local speciality, Socca, which is a savoury pancake made from chickpea flour.
Needless to say I like it so much that I vowed to recreate the experience at home. After scouring the country and finally getting my hands on the elusive chickpea flour (otherwise known as gram flour if you're looking for it), it was time to put my grand plan into action. My first effort, made about an hour ago, is pictured above. And if I may say so, a fine first effort. It looks like Socca, it tastes like Socca - success!!
(Unfortunately it's quite high in Weight Watchers points so I'll just have to work it into my weekly allowance and cut out a few other things....)
It's been great fun - our few days in Nice was the absolute highlight of course (blog post and pics coming very soon over at EuropeCrazy), as well as a couple of rather good days in Edinburgh and Glasgow, when the weather actually stayed dry and bright for a change.
Time at home was a bit more unsettled due to circumstances outwith our control - work going on inside and outside our home, so there were less opportunities to just laze around and relax. I did get some though, so it wasn't all bad. Even enjoying the simplest of pleasures like having a double espresso and a Danish pastry is a joy.
But as Debbie Allen might have said in 'Fame', "Danish pastries cost, and here's where you start paying - in sweat". I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight over recent months, so I am about to begin yet another dieting journey where I will commit myself to losing 14 lbs over a realistic period of 7 months. All this whilst still enjoying all the good (bad) things in life. But it can be done! It worked for me two years ago and it will work again!!
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Unfortunately things haven't gone so well on the weight watching front. Comfort-eating my way through spring and summer has meant that I am now 16lbs heavier than when I reached my goal weight (and blogged about it on here) back in April 2011. Actually putting this down in black and white is pretty shocking, but then again I need to shock myself into taking action. So after my holiday I'm going to take the same approach which I did from November 2010-April 2011, which involved six months of exercise and very hard work, but which brought rewards = I dropped a dress size, felt fitter, happier and more confident.
But now my BMI is back up to 29, which means that I am officially overweight but teetering on the edge of the obese category. So that's it. Enough is enough. Time for a fresh start after my holiday.
In the meantime, the "fat clothes" are in the suitcase. It is a holiday after all, so I want to feel comfortable whilst leaving room for all that pasta, pizza and wine consumption in France, where the last time I looked, there were no fat people. But do you know what? I'm going to leave the hang-ups at home this time and relax and have fun.
The real challenge will come at home during the staycation-part of the fortnight, however there will be plenty of time to exercise and hopefully the 'holiday weight' won't stick around too long.
Saturday, 8 September 2012
It's also been one of the most spoofed. Whilst watching the Vuelta a Espana on ITV4 the other night, they showed a spoof video of cyclists lip-synching to that song. However, a few weeks ago I discovered the definitive spoof which my friend at work initially introduced me to, however we were talking about it again the other day so I thought it would be well worth a mention on here. Enjoy!
Monday, 16 July 2012
This evening there has been a slight breakthrough as it managed to remain dry for approximately five hours which was enough for me to go and cut down some hedges. Or "topiary" as I like to call it :)
I am finally beginning to come out of that dark tunnel of depression and fatigue which started in April and hit a rotten low in June. After a sickness bug it felt as if I ceased to function. I lost interest in almost everything, and had no energy for weeks. It has now been a week and a half, early days I know, but it feels like I'm finally getting the old me back again.
Unfortunately I gained a lot of weight during that time, but I'm working on it and lost 2lbs last week. Again, early days but the motivation is back. I'm enjoying getting fit again.
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
I've posted my very brief review of our day at Stirling over at EuropeCrazy, and over the next few days I'm finally going to write something about our recent holiday in Turkey.
Monday, 18 June 2012
Checking out the odd bit of football when I can - from what I've seen so far, Euro 2012 has been an inevitable disappointment so far, with very few outstanding performances. Germany are my hot tip to win the whole thing, which has probably jinxed their chances :)
Since that sickness bug, my energy levels have been shot to pieces, and I've been so down in the dumps over the past week that you wouldn't believe, for one reason or another. On the plus side though, I've got a week off next week which will hopefully be sprinkled with sunshine rather than showers!
Friday, 15 June 2012
A week and a half later, I have lost 3lbs which is a massive achievement. Of course I'm still recovering from that sickness bug, but it's still a good start all in all.
Onwards and down with the weight :)
Thursday, 14 June 2012
The older and more grumpier and intolerant I get, the more it never ceases to amaze me how other people seem to think that they know more than you do about what you'll enjoy. After all, one man/woman's enjoyable experience is another man/woman's idea of hell. It's the strict social code of expectations. It's like North Korea, only with fake tans/false nails/hair extensions.
Everything from "team building" to the dreaded "social event" is a disaster waiting to happen. Don't-be-such-a-killjoy/You need-to-go-to-this-cause-it'll-be-a-great-laugh, they say.
No thank you.
Oh and by the way, we're not killjoys, we know how to have fun too: just don't force it on us.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
This week, I was ill. Very ill, actually, as 48 hours ago I fell victim to one of the worst bouts of sickness I've ever had. I won't go into detail, suffice to say that a full night of projectile vomiting etc resulted in an overnight weight loss of 4lbs and a further 24 hours of extreme nausea where I couldn't even sit up or stand up, not to mention the headache from hell.
Happily, I'm slowly beginning to recover and am beginning to reintroduce my body to food again. Hoping that progress continues tomorrow and that I can return to work on Monday after my first day off sick in 3 years!
If you've had this horrible bug, you have my deepest sympathy....and if you haven't had it yet, then I really, really, really hope you manage to escape it!
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
However, there is so much to be grateful for. Being lucky enough to love (and being loved by) the people who matter. Reasonably good (physical) health. And then the small matter of going on holiday in a couple of weeks. Who knows? I might even learn to relax.
Friday, 27 April 2012
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Regular readers of my Twitter stream (quick plug - www.twitter.com/europecrazy) will already be aware that Saturday night ain't Saturday night without potato wedges. For a long time my favourites were McCain's Salt & Cracked Black Pepper flavour, however these were soon beaten by Morrisons' own brand Southern Fried flavour.
This year however I have set myself a challenge to make some home-made versions of some of my favourite foods - so far the delights include minestrone soup and veggie sausage rolls, and tonight these have been joined by my very own home-made Cajun spice flavoured potato wedges, and very yummy they were too! Even better news is that you can also get more for your WW points by making your own than making the frozen variety :)
Edit 24.04.12: Made them again tonight. The previous batch were made using King Edwards, tonight I used Rooster potatoes and the result was equally as successful!
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Sunday, 8 April 2012
A couple of weeks ago it felt like summer....but now it feels like a long way away. As I type this post it's dull and rainy outside and it's feeling much colder.
In the absence of good weather, let's have something which smells like summer! I have previously posted about how much I look forward to the annual release of the summer fragrances. My favourite summer fragrance is Escada, and this year they've decided to bring out not one but three of their old favourites to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their summer fragrances: Sexy Graffiti, Island Kiss, and Rockin' Rio. All three are variations on the same theme, however the latter is my absolute favourite so I didn't have too tough a decision to make yesterday when I made my purchase!
Friday, 6 April 2012
If all is well I will be heading off with faithful travelling companion for a short break to an as-yet-undecided European destination in just over 6 weeks' time, so if that isn't motivation then I don't know what is!!
From next Friday onwards, I'll post weekly updates on here about my progress. It won't be all work and no play though, just need to get the balance right :)
Monday, 26 March 2012
What I wasn't expecting was the beautiful, warm sunny weather and temperatures approaching 20 degrees! It was yet another gorgeous day which started off with me doing the annual springtime ritual of becoming "flame haired" again. Then I put on some summery clothing - including sandals!! - for a day out for some retail therapy with mum, rather than the kind of day I expected - sitting indoors, staring out at the rain battering off the window.
Everyone in their summer gear (and some pretty scary sights too - the fashion atrocities must have gone into treble figures today!) Remind me what month it is????
Of course it won't last and it will all be over by the end of this week, because the weathermen told us so. Guess we'd better enjoy our summer whilst we can :))
On the down side, I can't describe how much my legs are still hurting after Saturday's gardening marathon :((
Sunday, 25 March 2012
So it is a very pleasant surprise to be sitting here at the end of March enjoying completely unseasonable summer-type weather. For the past 4 days the temperatures have risen, we can finally switch the heating off, and the sunshine is giving our spirits a much-needed lift.
I guess we will have to make the most of it, as come June/July it will be the usual "summer" weather.
Yesterday I spent four hours out in the garden, cutting grass and doing some intensive weeding work which I'm seriously paying for today, as I can hardly walk :(
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
On the plus side though, I'm feeling much more on the mend after that viral infection in January which left me feeling pretty worn out, then I got a sinus infection which made me sick for a while, and to add to that I'd gained a lot of weight in a very short time.
So now it's time to get back to full fitness and shed those extra pounds. I'm in full get-fit mode, with early nights, lots and lots of walking and exercise and fruit and drinking water, although it's a pretty selfish fitness plan as it still includes crisps and weekend red wine. You need some luxuries don't you :) After just a few days I'm already feeling a difference. If they had an Olympic power walking event, I'd be right in there :)
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Unfortunately the year didn't start too well healthwise: two weeks ago I was floored by a virus infection which started off as a cold and left me feeling extremely fatigued. The very same thing happened to my mum and faithful travelling companion who are both trying to recover from it at the moment.
It's only now that I'm feeling ready to get fit again. Who needs to pay a hefty gym membership fee to join a gym in these times of economic gloom, when you can buy a couple of bits of equipment which you can easily use at home? Over the last couple of years I've particularly found the Reebok Mini Stepper as an effective way to get fit and has also helped to relieve my lower back pain too.
Yesterday I bought a hula hoop. The whole thing started off as a bit of a joke, but then I thought about how this could really help me tone up and get my waist back again :)
I had a hula hoop as a child and loved it, but back then it was possible to achieve more than the 7 or 8 revolutions I struggled to achieve yesterday. It was a good laugh using it though!
(pictures courtesy of www.argos.co.uk)
Thursday, 5 January 2012
Monday, 2 January 2012
I have always loved the Olympics, yet the idea of them coming to this country still leaves me cold. Don't ask me to explain why, as I honestly don't know, but when I look at some of the practical aspects it all becomes a bit clearer.
Competitors and spectators from all over the world will descend on not just London, but also some other British cities too. No doubts they will be made very welcome by the majority of the population, but after the summer's so-called "riots" I would worry that they may be a target for the scum/low-lifes who despite the recession will always find money for drink, drugs and designer goods "by any means necessary". I've visited many countries over the years, but all of them felt safer than this one.
Then there's the poor transport system in this country. Having travelled all over Europe, the one thing I never fail to notice is the impressive transport infrastructure in place in many countries, even those with a lower standard of living to our own. Arrive in some European countries by air and you can take a train directly from the airport into the city, where you are then faced with a choice of buses and trams which run from stops which clearly state when the next bus/tram is coming, and it might even arrive on time. Transport in Britain is a shambles - bus and train companies whose timetables aren't worth the paper they're written on, poor services, rising fares etc. And don't even ask a bus driver why the bus was late or why you've been waiting for about 40 minutes since the last one, when it's allegedly a 10 minute service - you'll only get a grunt at best, or a torrent of abuse.
Finally, there's our climate. The Olympics is a summer showpiece, so why give it to a country where the weather is an obsession, probably because it's so rubbish most of the time?
Then of course there is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Never mind that this country is going to hell, that the government is killing off public services and making us work till we drop, that's if we'll all still have jobs, that is. No, let's wave a flag and be proud to be British, for just one day let's forget how crap this country is. There is one good thing about it though: as with the royal wedding last year we're getting an extra day's bank holiday. Now that is worth celebrating.
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Personally I'll also be glad to say "good riddance" to 2011 for so many reasons, both personal and on a wider scale. However it wasn't all bad - no year is all bad, and good things do happen.
I have so much to be thankful for - good health, a happy home life, a relationship which is stronger than it's ever been, a job which I genuinely enjoy doing, and having just enough money to get by. We had a couple of very good holidays in Pisa and Dublin this year. Earlier in the year I finally reached my target weight and dropped a dress size for the first time in about 20 years. I know that's totally irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but it was a major achievement for me. (I put it all on again in the second half of the year of course, but that's only a temporary blip).
Just like my weight, my own health was up and down this past year, but I end the year with the crippling back pain under control - although that right knee is still very dodgy :( Meanwhile my mum, who has had a pretty rubbish year healthwise, ends the year in, touch wood, a reasonable state of health by her standards.
I'm not into all this new year resolution nonsense, as they are doomed to fail, but the new year gives us a blank page to make some new, hopefully happy, memories. I'll be sharing them on this blog of course, and I hope that all the readers of this and my other two blogs get the chance to make lots of happy memories of your own in 2012.
Lots of love and best wishes for the new year ahead!
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
2011 has been particularly horrible for a lot of reasons, some very close to home, others in a wider world context. Meanwhile in blogland, there were several moments over the past year when I seriously considered quitting blogging, one of the reasons being that I felt I wasn't delivering on the promises and (what turned out to be unreasonable) targets which I'd mentally set myself. And that's not what blogging should be about. It should be spontaneous, and fun, and all the things which resulted in me keeping three blogs going, as I still do.
The other problem was that it was impossible to keep EuropeCrazy topical and up to date, due to time constraints. A lot of blogging is about 'the now' and topicality is everything. Writing an album review a year after its release wouldn't exactly go down too well in music blogland, for example. So I had all these little unwritten posts in my head, but when the time came around to publish them, I just felt they weren't relevant anymore.
If you think all this is leading up to an "I've decided to quit blogging" announcement, well....it's not. Let's go back to The Eagles, because I'm going to check out for a while but have no intention of leaving. Because I love blogging, and I want to keep on doing it. I want to celebrate the 5th birthday of my first-born blog EuropeCrazy in March 2012. I want to take Planet Salem (which is 4 years old tomorrow) into its fifth year. And as long as there's food to eat and clothes to buy, there's a lot of life left in good ol' Random Ramblings too.
The big difference is that I'll be blogging a lot less than I used to, and won't be promising anything which I can't deliver. After the 2011-50 ends over at EuropeCrazy, I'm going to step away from the computer for a little while, however will still write the odd blog post. And that time will hopefully come when I've caught up with myself, when all the jobs are done, and I'll be ready to throw myself back into blogland with a vengeance.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Now I like coats, and I like purple coats, and there are probably not enough purple coats in the world so here is another one for my collection. Although it's probably more "grape" than purple I guess.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Made this, just over an hour ago - my first attempt at some speciality Irish cuisine...potato pancakes which are better known as boxty. It was OK, although my mashed potato to grated potato ratio needs some work as the end result was a bit soggy. Nevertheless I'm glad I tried it!
It'll be a while before I try it again though, as I'll need to sustain my good work on the diet front. I worked hard and lost 2lbs last week, which has probably been undone by the boxty :)
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Sunday, 23 October 2011
which was once state of the art back in the day, made way for a 37" LED TV...
It wasn't a spur of the moment decision but it's been researched for ages, and whilst I'm in 'life's too short' mode, now is as good a time as any to take that step.
It's not just a flat screen TV, it's one of these "smart tvs" which you can get BBC iPlayer and YouTube on. And it's got Freeview HD as well.
It is extremely fab and I hope we get as many happy viewing years out of our new TV as our old one gave us. I'll just need to tear myself away from it to write a few blog posts now and then :)
Saturday, 15 October 2011
Today saw part 2 of my Christmas shopping bonanza. In 2011, I have decided to be even more organised than ever and get as much Christmas shopping done as early as possible. Today, like last Saturday, was very productive. A jewellery blitz in Next was followed by a card/gift bag blitz in Card Factory and then it was on to Boots for a 3 for 2 on Champneys spa stuff. Finally. I've moved on from all the Sanctuary goodies to something new :)
It's been a good weekend all in all. Last night, we finally made it to our favourite local Indian restaurant for my birthday meal, 2 week later than planned as I hadn't been too well around that time. Happily the work-stress is finally starting to ease off, but it's still the worst time of year for that....roll on January!
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Anyway being the optimist I am, I'm trying to think of something good about October. Then I remembered that this is probably my favourite time of the year for clothes. I might have said on this blog before now that I love autumn fashion, and that's still the same. You can forget all the trendy designer shops - my favourite clothes shop is the magnificent Matalan. Good quality clothes at reasonable prices, you can't go wrong.
One of my major autumn/winter obsessions is boots. When you live in a country with a climate as utterly dire as this one, you can't have enough boots of course. On Saturday I headed for Matalan with my birthday money and bought not one but two new pairs of boots for the winter. One of them is a knee-high dark grey pair, the other is a mid-calf brown pair (pictured above). Today was like a winter's day, so I wore the brown pair to work, and they passed the test.
Last word on my birthday - I did very well this year...two pairs of boots, a new skirt, a Father Ted DVD box set, a crystal bracelet, two bottles of red wine and still some money left to spend. Result!
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Anyway, I'm impressed that I'm sharing my big day with the likes of Barbara Knox, Johnny Mathis, the late Marc Bolan, Rula Lenska, the fab Basia Trzetrzelewska, Monica Bellucci, Marion Cotillard, Star Academy 2's Georges-Alain Jones, and Ola Jordan.
So happy birthday to all of them, happy birthday to me, and if tomorrow's your big day then happy birthday to you!!
Unfortunately I've decided to postpone my annual birthday dinner at my favourite local Indian restaurant as I'm not in tip top health at the moment...however it shouldn't be too long till our usual annual treat!