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!
Monday, 12 September 2011
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Turn Again To Life
Mary Lee Hall
If I should die and
Leave you here awhile
Be not like others sore undone,
Who keep long vigils
By the silent dust and weep.
For my sake turn again
To life and smile
Nerving thy heart
And trembling hand to do
Something to comfort
Other hearts than thine.
Complete these dear
Unfinished Tasks of mine,
And I, perchance
May therein comfort you.
As with all major events/tragedies, people always ask the question, "where were you when ......happened?" We all have our stories, and as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of that shocking, tragic day, I thought I’d share my own personal story here.
On 11th September 2001, I was heading off to Barcelona with faithful travelling companion for our annual summer holiday. Sitting in a departure lounge in Luton airport, surrounded by a vast majority of Spanish citizens, we were completely unaware that the attacks had taken place. Flights continued to depart and by the time we boarded the flight from Luton airport, the Twin Towers had fallen, and we still didn’t even know.
Our flight was probably one of the last to leave the UK, before airspace was closed and all flights were suspended. We arrived in Barcelona, still completely unaware. September 11th had a different meaning for the Catalans - it was (and remains) Catalunya’s National Day. After checking into our hotel we headed out on that hot, sunny Tuesday evening. The streets, bars and restaurants of Barcelona were buzzing and busier than ever due to the public holiday, and we wanted to be part of it. We joined in the party atmosphere, still unaware of the events which unfolded.
It wasn’t till very, very late that evening that we finally found out. On our way home, people were handing out free newspapers in the street - a Spanish-language equivalent of the Metro newspaper. On the front page, there was a picture of two skyscrapers, on fire, and a headline about the USA. I couldn’t understand a word of Spanish, so couldn’t really make sense of it. Back at the hotel, I got a message to phone home - when my mother finally told me about the terrifying events in New York.
One week later it was time to go home. It was a difficult journey home for many reasons, including missing our connecting flight due to long (but very necessary) delays/security measures. But we got home eventually, back to a changed world when things would never be the same again.
It will never get any easier watching the images of what happened that day, watching them over and over again in the numerous commemorative documentaries which have been screened over the past two weeks. Today many commemorative events are taking place to remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, and who will always be remembered in the hearts of their loved ones. My thoughts are with you.
Thursday, 8 September 2011
I'd like to say that there would be some kind of blogging bonanza, but right now I'm struggling to recover the blogging mojo. I'll try and do a post or two though...
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
SO WHY ARE THERE BOXES OF CHRISTMAS CARDS ON THE SHELVES IN BIRTHDAYS???
Sorry for shouting, but this kind of thing just makes me so grumpy and sends me into despair.
Christmas in August? Bah humbug. Some of us have still to go on our summer holidays.
I'm certainly not stuck for things to do during this blogging break. Work, rest, and play. On Monday I even slotted in a game of Beehive Bedlam at teatime and got to level 13 then decided to quit whilst I was ahead. Not for me the complicated world of modern gaming (although my fondness for The Sims will never die) but give me Bloobs or Beehive Bedlam and I'll be happy for the rest of the day.
Monday, 15 August 2011
So it was a massive surprise today to finally meet the maxi dress of my dreams, perfect in every way. And even better, it was reduced in a sale!! Of course I bought it! Had a very nice day of retail therapy.
Now I'm no fashionista, but I do like clothes. A lot. However, why do the shops persist in trying to sell us such ludicrous "looks"? This year, it's been 'colour blocking'. Whoever thought of putting pink and red together? What were they on?
The other fashion issue which continues to irritate me: if our nation is becoming the obesity capital of Europe, then where are all the big sizes? Why do the more affordable fashion stores persist on overstocking size 8s and 10s which remain unsold? It's time the size-discrimination stopped.
Big girls want fashionable, affordable clothing too!
Unfortunately in recent years there is a generation (of all shapes and sizes) who have grown up with ill-fitting low-cut T-shirts, low-slung tattoo-flashing jeans, tracksuit bottoms and hooded tops, and those people will sadly take a bit more persuading to smarten themselves up if the opportunity ever arose. The chav style is here to stay, it seems, which is very sad indeed.
I've been off work today and tomorrow, for what I call a couple of days' "sanity leave" to (a) clear my head and (b) get things done. So far I haven't been able to achieve either of these objectives :) oh well there's always tomorrow I suppose! Right - off to bed!
Saturday, 23 July 2011
My thoughts and prayers are with you all in that beautiful northern land. May you all stay strong and let no-one destroy your spirit.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
As Madonna might have sung, "mucus makes the people come together" but enough bad puns, because it's no laughing matter. I'm fed up with constantly blowing my nose. I'm fed up going deaf every time I blow my nose. I'm fed up with the face-pain, with the dizziness, with the headaches. And then the hayfever attacks come, and that triggers the recurring sinus infection, and it all starts all over again.
Having practically no sense of smell is bad enough anyway, but I could really do without all of the above as well. And don't even start me on how worn out and tired I'm feeling right now. So I'm too tired to blog at the moment.
Monday, 11 July 2011
But over the last few days we've had, to use that well-used phrase "closure" in a way. So it's a good time to get a grip and get on with it. Even though it's "summer" and I should really be relaxing. But of course September is my "summer", when faithful travelling companion and I hit sunnier climes for a week. So I need to get in shape!
Our 2011 summer destination is, as yet, unannounced but there are a few ideas kicking around. News to follow in a few weeks....
Sunday, 3 July 2011
"Summer" has been a non-event so far, weather-wise; whilst people in some parts of Britain were sweltering, we still had the central heating and were reaching for extra clothing layers, and the most essential item in our summer wardrobe was a waterproof jacket. Summer up here is like wintertime, only with lighter nights. It's been a nice surprise then to have two rain-free days, yesterday and today, with nice warm temperatures to match. And some sun.
In the totally-crap-year sweepstake, 2011 is galloping past previous winner 2008 and already winning by several lengths. (There has been a lot of personal darkness in this year so far, some things I haven't written about on here out of respect to loved ones).
Yet I am always trying to stay upbeat in spite of everything, trying to keep things moving along and being strong for everyone. "Keep calm and carry on" could be my catchphrase. But even glass half full people like me will inevitably crash and burn eventually, before picking themselves up as we do. I had that moment on Friday night, but having got through the weekend I'm feeling better and ready to move on again.
But what happens if you can't?
Friday, 10 June 2011
Oh, and I also learned that it's ok to eat a big Indian meal, a high-points risotto, and a great big Magnum ice-cream lolly, and stay the same weight I was last week.
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
However the exercise element is going very well, so it's not all bad.
And anyway tomorrow night is Indian night! Mushroom pakora, chicken tikka masala, rice and nan. Who said anything about boot camp???
Monday, 6 June 2011
For the next 21 days* I've declared war on the wobbly bits and decided to tone up, get fit, get healthier.
That's the plan anyway.
So day 1 is over, and it's gone well. 20 days to go....
*Needless to say, this plan does not include the fab Indian meal which I'm going to have on Wednesday, or the nice big lunch I'm going to have on Saturday. Well you've got to have something to look forward to, haven't you??!!!
Sunday, 5 June 2011
Friday, 3 June 2011
Anyway, I lost 1lb this week, despite the excesses of the bank holiday weekend....going in the right direction.
Sunday, 29 May 2011
What made it better? Believe it or not, 10 minutes every day on my mini-stepper which seems to be great physiotherapy. And so far, it's working. It may not always work, but I'm enjoying it so far. It's also had a very positive effect on my mood too. Now I just need to shift these extra pounds - lost 1lb this week so heading in the right direction :)
Saturday, 21 May 2011
Quite appropriate in a way...a big chunk of my daily nine-to-five involves producing stats in various shapes and forms, and strangely enough I remain just a little fascinated by stats, even when the working day is over.
This has been a record-breaking and totally amazing week over at EuropeCrazy, mainly thanks to a certain annual song contest :) so thank you all for visiting my blog during that time - and if you like what you saw, don't forget to call back regularly as you will be very welcome!
Now the bad news :(
I gained another pound this week, which is probably more of my holiday weight...oh well I need to work hard, no in fact I need to work much, much harder to lose all the weight I've gained over the last 4 weeks. After all, it's only 4 months till our next holiday. Destination unknown (at the moment).
Monday, 9 May 2011
But what the heck, it was fun while it lasted!!!
Tomorrow the fun ends....back on the diet, however I'm feeling confident that I'm going to succeed. Back to work tomorrow too....oh well.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
I refer of course to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton which took place two days ago. I'm no royalist by any means, and my own view is that the British royal family are an unaffordable luxury, especially all the hangers-on. And why do royal weddings always take place during recessions, when, allegedly "Britain needs a feelgood factor"? When in fact they actually mean "Britain needs a smokescreen to make people forget about how s**t this country is".
Let's 'go compare'.....
1973: Tory government, recession, strikes, 3 day week, Princess Anne marries Captain Mark Phillips, ends in divorce.
1981: Tory government, recession, riots, mass unemployment, Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer, ends in divorce.
1986: Tory government, massive gap between haves and have nots, Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson, ends in divorce.
2011: Tory government, recession, mass unemployment, Prince William marries Kate Middleton....
Of course the best thing about it was getting an extra day off work, turning this into an extremely fab 4 day weekend. Again, despite my cynicism, I did tune in for curiosity value, to see "the dress" and the important parts of the ceremony. Kate was a stylish and graceful bride in a classic, timeless dress which was a million miles away from the bizarre creations of "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings" or indeed for that matter, Princess Diana's creased taffeta disaster from 30 years ago.
The most annoying thing for me about any royal wedding is the flag-waving lunacy, the street parties, and TV presenters knocking themselves out to see who can suck up to the royal family the most. It's the Last Night of The Proms gone mad, and the kind of "Britishness" which I just can't identify with, even though I'm a British citizen.
Despite my cynicism, I have to say that I wish the couple well and hope that they have a long and happy marriage which will weather the storm of life in the spotlight. The couple's relationship seems to be more 'real' and is built on a stronger foundation than some previous royal couplings, so maybe this one will work out and the fairytale wedding will have a happy ending.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
In something totally unrelated, I'm still loving Yankee Candles and treated myself to some new ones this week, although tonight I'm burning an old familiar aroma: baby powder.
(picture above courtesy of www.yankeecandle.co.uk)
Tomorrow: pre-holiday stuff all day and all the control-freak-military-precision that involves, combined with a curious eye on that big event.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
It's been a very stressful time of late as I've been involved in updating my training course at work, which has been very rewarding but which along with other life/work stuff has mentally and physically taken its toll :( I was involved in delivering the first of the new updated courses yesterday and today, which went well, however I'm going through yet another bout of fatigue where I'm tired all the time, even after a good night's sleep. Therefore I'm welcoming this holiday period as an opportunity to unwind. There are so many outstanding household tasks demanding my attention at the moment but I'll have to prioritise them - after all, you know what they say...'all work and no play' etc.
So there will be time for fun, and retail therapy, and pre-holiday planning, and getting out and enjoying this rare spell of dry warm weather too. And maybe even a little bit of blogging over the weekend :))
Friday, 15 April 2011
Sunday, 10 April 2011
I'm beyond excited....if only for the reason that I'm not exactly the most committed to any weight loss plan as (a) I love my treats and (b) my social life almost exclusively revolves around eating out. The other important point is that, this time, I've lost weight and dropped a size despite months of pretty horrendous ongoing back pain which has prevented me from doing my usual aerobics etc...it's the first time ever that I've managed to lose weight by following a plan alone.
So, let's hear it for the WeightWatchers ProPoints plan. It really works if you stick to it. And if it works for me, it should work for anyone.
Thursday, 31 March 2011
There will be a diet update at the end of April. There is still some motivation as I'd usually be due to be going on holiday at the beginning of May, however due to personal circumstances at the moment this could change and could be delayed or maybe not. Anyway when there is a holiday announcement...it'll be announced!!
Sunday, 27 March 2011
British Summer Time is here. Hooray!! And for once it actually started with bright skies, dry weather and a bit of sunshine. No I'm not hallucinating!!
One thing I particularly love about summer is the summer fragrance: those special editions of perfume which try to capture the feel of the season with light, fruity scents. My favourite summer fragrances are made by Escada, and this year's edition is Taj Sunset which boasts their trademark mango aroma. I bought it yesterday in The Perfume Shop, which is currently doing a special promotion where you also get a free cosmetic bag along with the 30 ml bottle for £19.99. More info here.
Recently it has been a personally difficult time for different reasons. I'm not going to write about that part of my life, if only out of respect to my loved ones, but I only mentioned this to put in context why I maybe haven't had the time, the inclination or the energy to blog so much of late. But I am filled with hope and welcome the change of season.
Even if 'summer' inevitably fails to deliver on the weather front, I love it when the days get longer, the nights get lighter and you suddenly feel like you have all this extra time on your hands. Which will inevitably be devoted to damage limitation in the garden and catching up on all that painting and decorating which I totally neglected in the summer of 2010. My plan for a blog break every three months is going well and I'll be taking another month off in April.
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Had a very drippy nose
She's had the cold for two days
Now she wishes it would go
She's blogging from her sick bed
But her schedule's very tight
Lots on at work tomorrow
So she'll need to get an early night (that's a first ha ha!).
Friday, 11 March 2011
I wasn't thinking about dieting tonight either. Just back from a very nice evening of dining out with some friends....lovely food and lovely company = my perfect kind of night.
And then I'm lunching tomorrow!! So needless to say it's back to "drastic measures" from Sunday onwards, with hopefully some good news to report one week from now.
Friday, 4 March 2011
Definition of this week: focused and hectic. But enjoyable in a strange way. Very tiring though.