Saturday, 17 December 2011

Twas the week before Christmas...

Okay, nothing from me in 18 months and then two posts in as many days! I was going to try and do a bit of a catch up but actually I don't wish to be responsible for any readers falling into a catatonic state so suffice to say life has gone on, the house is still a tip, the diet needs re-starting and I'm back on anti-depressants. Plus ca change and all that. Mind you, one thing that has changed, and for the better I think, is my photography. I really started to explore it more and get into it and although I have vast amounts still to learn, I'm loving the whole process, so much so that in August I went back to college and I'm now studying for an HNC in Photography. We no longer have a dining room as I've taken it over as a study so that I have somewhere quiet to work (or blog!) and any spare cash going seems to find its way into a Jessops shopping basket.

So, what to do with this blog. Well, one thing's for sure, the diet element of it needs to be re-addressed. It's mortifying to read back through this and see that in the last year alone I have ballooned back up to where I was in 2008. I've been busy blaming my mother's house move and the stress involved in that (and yes, it was very stressful) but she will have been sort-of-happily ensconced in her new house for a year this time next week and it doesn't seem reasonable to keep blaming something that happened a year ago for what I'm insisting on eating and drinking now. I do think that my eating and drinking are directly related to how I'm feeling though and mum's house move coincided with my annual winter blues last year. I don't think they ever really went away and a couple of months ago the doctor put me back on pills for depression. I was adamant that he was wrong and after a few weeks didn't go back to see him. I'm feeling worse again now and so I think it may be time to face facts and accept that actually yes, my head isn't in a good place and I need some help. Perhaps if I can do that I may be able to address the food issues better.

So yes, this can be a diet blog again. But I'd like it to be more than that. I think my photography is improving all the time so perhaps I'll share some of that here. And as a family we're all having adventures that I'd like to keep recording. It was rather wonderful to read back through some of these posts here and recall the things that prompted them. There's nothing to record the last 18 months and that's a shame because it hasn't all been doom and gloom, so my pre-New Year's Resolution is to do a much better blogging job - diet/head/photos/adventures and possibly some more recipes. A bit of a mish mash. Just like me then!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Mmmm - I remember this!

Well, this is embarrassing. It is so long since I added anything to this blog that I almost forgot I had it, and I certainly forgot the password. Still, it's a bit like riding a bike, surely? Once you get back into it you feel like you were never away. Or some other mixed metaphor.

Actually, things have moved on a lot since I last wrote here - probably more than I can cover in one short post, especially as I'm full of cold and had just determined to return to bed with the electric blanket firmly switched to maximum toastiness and kindle at the ready. Suffice to say, there's a lot of catching up to do and I have my new friends at A Kitten Called Betty to thank for giving me a shove back towards blogland. Here's hoping something positive comes of it!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Woo hoo! Now I really have no excuse for not keeping up to date with my blog...The Man I married was one of those keen types to be found outside the Apple Store at O'Dark-Thirty on the day the iPad made it to these shores. So yes, this is my first post using a blogger app on an iPad. Just trying to think how far back in time we'd have to go for that sentence to make no sense to anyone whatsoever!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Unchartered Territory

I made one of those spur of the moment decisions the other day and signed up to join the newly opened Curves gym in town.

I did once join a gym. It was staffed by muscular blokes in too-tight t-shirts and surprisingly small feet. The gentleman who showed me how to use the equipment kept checking himself out in the mirror. Given that I was doing my level best to avoid checking myself out in the mirror at that point, it was all a bit disconcerting. Perhaps I was intended to check him out instead? He'd have liked that. But for all his well-defined pecs he had a problem with nasal hair that couldn't be overlooked.

I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt on three separate occasions before coming to the conclusion that it just wasn't my thang. I wallowed in guilt for a while at the money wasted and that's when I bought the cheap exercise bike that has been so instrumental to my weight loss campaign these last few months. (Oh yes. The exercise bike has been an integral part of the furniture for much longer than I've actually been using it. At one point, The Man I Married suggested that we just put it in the attic, but in much the same way as everything looks somewhat strange once you remove the Christmas decorations, the room looked bare without its brooding presence in the corner.)

So, Curves. I know someone who has used this gym before although I have to be honest I have no idea if she's still using it, but it was her description of a women-only environment that tugged at me. A lack of narcissistic, body-building, disproportionately-footed neanderthals in need of a nose trim had to be appealing!

On the day I signed up it was being staffed by Lynne. Her nose looked just fine. She explained the way that Curves was run and showed me some of the equipment. Then she weighed me, measured me, made me hold a fat monitor and asked a whole bunch of rather personal questions. The net result of all this is that inspite of shifting four stone of extra me I'm still carrying too much fat. Not by much admittedly, but we need more muscle! I agreed to come back the next day for my first full session and the start of my new adventure - not to get thinner, but to become fitter.

When Lynne explained the Curves circuit to me, I had decided that perhaps this was going to be a bit easy. Thirty seconds on each machine and then move on to the next one? Thirty seconds is nothing. How pathetic would you have to be if you couldn't manage thirty seconds? Even the prospect of doing the circuit three times didn't seem that daunting.

We started. Don't ask me what these machines are all called. There's a website that probably explains it. I started with an arm pusher thing. You use the first six machines in the circle to warm up and every so often you're asked to check your pulse rate. I was aiming to maintain mine, according to their chart on the wall, between 20 and 24 over a ten second period. I started out with a resting pulse of 10. After the warm up (arm pushing, leg kicks, stomach yanking, arm-waving, leg-stretching, can-can) this had risen to 19. She decided I wasn't working hard enough and encouraged me to push myself round the rest of the circuit (squats, calf-raises, arm-pumping, jogging on the spot, something that looked like milking a cow, more squats, I don't even remember the half of it now) I was pumping away at 24, sweating like a very hot person and thinking that I'd pay money not to have to do this again.

You use the last six machines to cool down again and then you head for the stretching station. Blessed relief at last! And then that was it. I'd done it. I hadn't felt like cringing, I hadn't fainted, I had actually worked bloody hard and almost, almost enjoyed it in a masochistic manner. At least, I'm resolved to return on Monday and do it all again so it can't have been that bad!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Long Haul

Sometimes it's not the journey, it's the getting there.

Mother apparently needs a new coat. And a "nice top". So, with a familiar sense of fear and loathing I gave her some money for her birthday and promised to take her shopping with me yesterday. We've done this once or twice before and it's fair to say that it is not an experience to relish. I just kept focusing on the fact that it couldn't go on forever. It had to end at some point.

I have heard tell that some people enjoy Mother-Daughter, girly type shopping expeditions. Some mothers actually like the company of their daughters and look on it as an excuse to treat their offspring with some small frippery or other, or indulge in a sneaky lunchtime glass of wine, or perhaps a cake. That's not us. Oh no.

Mother hadn't spent the money that I gave her for Christmas. Lest anyone think I lack imagination in the gift department I should explain that Mother isn't the easiest person to buy for. Sometimes on forums you see posts saying "What can I buy my 65 year old father for his birthday? He likes photography, travel, music and film, going out for dinner and reading magazines." And I think "If only."

Mother is 71, plays bridge (competitive, not social) and wallows in widowhood. She doesn't wear perfume, or makeup beyond a dab of Rimmel lipstick. She doesn't have her ears pierced, wear necklaces, bangles or rings apart from her wedding ring. She loathes the idea of a massage, has never shaved her legs, doesn't paint her nails. Although she worries constantly about the fact that she has lost weight since my Dear Departed Dad did his departing, she doesn't really appreciate the joy to be found in a box of chocolates, preferring instead to ration them out. She eats chocolates as if they were worming tablets - a necessary evil.

She hates travelling anywhere at all, is terrified of driving, panics on trains. Her new bionic hips mean that walking isn't much of an option either. She doesn't like to go to the cinema. She doesn't own a DVD player and wouldn't want one anyway. She only listens to music if it happens to be playing on Radio 4. She reads, but only other people's cast-offs. The very idea of going into a bookshop and browsing fills her with contempt.

So, no toiletries, no food, no music, no books, no films. No weekend breaks, no magazine subscriptions, no jewellery, no spa days. No meals out, no meals in. Cold hard cash on the other hand...

Mother's idea of a shopping day out is to march (or in her case hobble) straight into Marks and Sparks and then go home. The nearest large shopping centre to my house is only a forty minute drive away but yesterday it felt like a very long slog.

We parked close to the entrance and walked directly into the midst of their Classic Range. This is the section designed pretty much with my mother in mind; sensible twin sets, not so much trousers as crease-resistant slacks, raincoats. Within two minutes she had dismissed it all as being "fuddy duddy", with the one exception of a rather pretty blouse that they only had in my size. I did ask the assistant if they had any more but was told it was the last one. I secretively picked it up.

There was a sale rail ahead. Now this is possibly the one uniting factor between us: we do both love a bargain. I quickly snapped up a pink coat and a pair of shoes. Mother found precisely nothing. We ventured to full price items in Per Una, Limited Collection, Portfolio and Autograph. Nothing doing. And the sense of deja vu was immediate and immense. Every time I take her shopping it's the same.

"I need a new jacket. And a nice top. That's not a jacket it's a coat. That's not long enough. Too long. I don't like double breasted. The buttons are dull. It's too tight across the shoulders. It's baggy. I need a higher neckline than this. Not a polo neck. That would be nice if it were green and half the price. Not that kind of green. Too old. Too young. It's a bit casual. I don't want anything that smart. They don't design their clothes with me in mind. Too busy. A bit of pattern would perk it up. Will it wash? I hate linen. I don't like manmade fibres. Cotton is too lightweight. It's not really my style. It's a bit plain. That looks like what I'm wearing. I have four like that already and I never wear them. It's all too young. I'm not being too fussy am I?"

I wouldn't mind this monologue so much if it weren't for the tone in which it is delivered. I fully agree that sometimes it's hard to find just what you're looking for, and there's no point buying something for the sake of it. But I actually enjoy the process of hunting down an elusive item and although it can sometimes be a little frustrating if you have a particular style or colour in mind but can't find it, there is at least the opportunity to ruffle through rails of pretty things and pleasure to be had from the whole shopping experience whether you buy or not. But Mother dispenses her condemnation of the Marks and Spencer Spring/Summer stock in a voice dripping with accusation and I'm left in no shadow of a doubt that it's somehow my fault.

We give up on the idea of Mother parting with any of my hard-earned cash and elect instead for lunch. Only Mother, who was brought up in the aftermath of WW2 doesn't like to be extravagant with lunch. "We'll share a sandwich. I'm not very hungry." She might not have been, but having missed breakfast I was ravenous and one cup of coffee and half an egg and cress wasn't really cutting it to my mind. No wonder she can't put weight on. However, I indulged her parsimony on my behalf (yes, this was supposed to be her birthday lunch so I was paying. I dread to think what we'd have eaten if she'd been flashing the cash) and then drove home. Forty minutes. You wouldn't believe how long that can be.