Farewell 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, it is time to reflect on all the good and bad of the last 366 days.

Personally, for me, 2016 hasn’t been too bad a year.  I celebrated my 50th birthday with a meal with good friends and a theatre trip for an 80s spectacular night.  Originally I had planned to celebrate my birthday with a party, but this slightly got out of hand with hubby and eldest son having completely different ideas to mine as to what we should include in a party.  Consequently, a friend organised a gathering of good friends to a fine French restaurant where we had a lovely meal.  Hubby did manage to organise a cake, one which was disneyesque in style, with a couple of manuscripts on it from Edward Elgar; Nimrod and Salut D’Amour.   The cake was delicious and made by Sweet Antoinette Cakes, in Enfield , a company that my husband found on his travels round London, whilst working.

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Continuing on with my birthday celebrations, in May hubby and I went to Amsterdam for a few days with friends.  We arrived at Amsterdam airport where we were met by an executive car service to take us to our hotel, Hotel Die Port Van Cleve, right by Dam Square.  We explored a lot of the region, Dam square itself, a canal trip, Van Gogh museum, many churches, Amsterdam museum, the flower market, the red light district as well as lots of shopping – I was quite excited to find a C&A!

Amsterdam is full of culture with lots to see and do. There are so many architectural styles in the city and e-haveryone is friendly and helpful, definitely will be going back there again.

I decided this year that I needed a change in occupations.  I have worked for many years in schools, helping children, but over the last couple of years I have gradually got disillusioned with this.  Children in schools are a statistic.  They are taught a lot of irrelevant things where at the end they have to sit a test and lo and behold if they do not make the grade that they should be at by the end of the year.  Teachers are struggling to keep up to date with the many changes in the curriculum and with the necessary paperwork they have to complete in order to justify their existence.  On top of this there is an increasing pressure to make sure that there is adequate support for those children who are struggling to keep up, yet there are no resources or funding to provide the extra help  needed.   All in all, there are children in the system that if they do not fit under the headings or Pupil Premium, Special Educational Needs, Gifted and Talented or English as an Additional Language, then they get very little extra help.  As a result, they struggle as all the attention is focussed on those children who do fit into one of the above headings.  Not all children are academic yet successive Educational Ministers seem to forget this and try to make these children fit into their ideal of a successful education system.  It is stressful to say the least, and it did get to the point where I dreaded going to work, so a change was needed.  Fortunately I did manage to ‘escape’ and am now working for the local authority in school admissions – a challenge in itself when you are trying to find school places for children when most schools are oversubscribed in the area.

2016 has been a year where we have mourned the passing of various celebrities, authors, actors, singers and politicians.  There has been the usual outpouring of grief for these ‘icons’ of our youth from various quaters, yet I cannot help for ponder on the reasons for this.  So many people seem so hooked on the ideal that you can have your 15 minutes of fame by appearing on Britain’s got Talent, or X Factor.  The general idolisation of celebrities or sportspeople as the ideal.  The media plays on this a lot – there never seems to be a day that doesn’t pass where a celebrity is mentioned in the news or in the papers this is what you should aspire to.  However very little is mentioned of the various wars that continue around the world, about the various protests that happen or how people from other religions help during times of crisis or have helped the homeless over the holiday season, preferring instead to portray them in an evil light or appropriating blame in such a way that the majority of people tend to believe them.  To me this is sad.  Unfortunately I have seen my friend suffer this year as she has watched her father slowly succumb to dementia, an illness that gets very little press, gradually deteriorating until he died at the beginning of the month.  Also we have lost a family member earlier this week as well.  Those that are closest to us are what matter.  Yes it is sad to lose a celebrity.  It is sad for their families, but many people lose so much more and suffer a lot more as a result yet we know  and hear so very little about these things.

2016 has also been a year where families and friends have turned against each other, disagreed with the way they have voted, where tensions have run high over Brexit and the EU vote.  Throughout I have sat back and wondered how people can be so nasty to each other just because they haven’t agreed or respected other people’s opinions.  The same happened in the US with their elections and how Trump was voted in.  Hopefully things will not be as bad as people predict, but if it is as bad as predicted then perhaps we have to just work together to make it better.  Sometimes it is goodmore important to take stock of what you have, what really matters to you and embrace it.

So as 2016 comes to a close, I look forward to what 2017 will bring.  Hopefully for some it will be a better year.  I am not making any resolutions for the year ahead as I rarely keep them, my goal is just to  get through it as best as I can, that my family stays healthy and together no matter what happens.  To you all, if you have managed to read this far, I wish you and your family a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year, may it be a good one to you and yours and remember  everything that happens to you is a step towards achieving something bigger and better.

Hugs to all x

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Ramblings.

There was a decidedly autumnal chill in the air this morning, as I was making my way to work, almost as if Autumn was knocking on the door to remind Summer that she may have decided to arrive at last, but Autumn is just waiting to take over as soon as Summer takes her eyes of the ball.  I know there are some parts of the country that are still waiting for Summer to arrive, being battered by rain and wind that seems relentless, while others complain about how hot it is despite complaining about how cold we were the week before.  We, as a nation, never seem happy about the weather, no matter what it does.  I, however, just love it when it is nice, warm and sunny – it lifts the soul, puts a smile on my face and makes me feel good.

What I am not so keen on, is the fact that we are in August already; how did that happen?  One minute we were putting the Christmas decorations away, the next August has arrived.  I  celebrated my 50th in April, booked my holiday for next year, got a new job after ( 21 years of working with children decided I had had enough of education and now have an office based job ) and am now planning what to do to celebrate my youngest son’s 18th birthday.  18 years have gone so quickly, flown past!

I have to admit, I knew it had been sometime since I last wrote on my blog, but hadn’t expected to find that my last post was in December last year, I felt sure I wrote one more recently than that.  Obviously not though and to be honest, apart from what I have mentioned above, I cannot say what I have done this year at all.  What I can say is I have been concentrating on developing my photography skills as well as doing lots of reading.  I have also had a series of blood tests and a full health examination.  Towards the end of last year, I came down with a cold that ended up on my chest, causing a ‘severe’ chest infection.  I say severe because the doctor was quite concerned about it.  I didn’t get rid of it until April, after several courses of antibiotics and a chest x-ray.  Fortunately it didn’t develop into anything more serious, but it left me completely wiped out for quite some time.  However the blood tests all came back clear and even though I am overweight, everything was good, which not only surprised the doctor but made me more than a little relieved I can tell you.  Of course, being ill ensures that I don’t feel up to exercising, which left me fighting for breath, and I did have a tendency to comfort eat as well – not good as I have quite a bit of weight to shift now; it is a never ending circle!

Right think I have bored you enough now with my ramblings, so I am going to sign off now for this evening and sort out a few bits and pieces that need doing before work tomorrow. but I leave you with this little thought:

The days go by so fast,

so live life to the fullest,

stop regretting and learn from the past.

Good night x.

 

Four Weddings, Two Funerals and a Fantastic Holiday!

So this is my year end post and the most lasting memories from this year is exactly what the title says.

Wedding one – was my niece marrying the man she has known since they both started nursery together.  As they got older, their respected parents split up and her dad eventually married her now husband’s mother, so they hid their feelings from one another, until it became more and more apparent that they couldn’t hide them anymore.  So they admitted their love, got engaged with their parent’s blessing and got married.  A true romance for them both.

Wedding two – A colleague got married to her partner over in Ireland.  Fortunately it was the school holidays, so hubby and I stayed over there for a few days touring the sites.  The place was amazing, so quiet and slow paced.  Definitely enjoyed ourselves!

Wedding three – We attended the evening function of this one, staying overnight.  It was held at Cooling Castle, in Kent, next door to where Jools Holland has his tiny abode, or so everyone who lives in the area kept pointing out to us!

Wedding four – happened a few days ago, a dear friend married the man she has been in a relationship for, for the last eight years.  They have been through a lot together and it was lovely seeing them look so happy as they got married – we all had a wonderful time!  What made it special for her was the fact that I had arranged Daniel O’Donnell to send a message of congratulations to them both – she being a massive fan.  When she saw the video she screamed with excitement!  I love doing surprises like that 🙂

Funeral one – a respected colleague passed away due to cancer.  It wasn’t unexpected, but very sad that he died so young.

Funeral two –  a distant relative, much respected.  The chapel was packed with people paying their respects, and afterwards, when it was dark, we lit sparklers and did the Mexican Wave – it was a good send off!

Holiday – I love Disneyworld, Florida, can’t help it and although we enjoy going with our friends, as we have done previously, this year they couldn’t make it, so it was just us four.  It was a totally different experience, lots of food eaten, lots of drink consummed, lots of rides we went on – some I went on for the first time as I am not a fan of rollercoasters, but am quite happy to people watch.  We also spent time at Universal and Busch Gardens where we made lots of new memories.  Feeding the graffes at Busch Gardens is an experience that is well worth paying for.  The weather was really good as well, raining mostly in the late evening, the rest of the time it was in the 90s, though one day we walked around in temperatures that reached 105!  Hubby and I are heading back with friends in 2017 so, as they say watch this space!

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Cinderella’s Castle, Magic Kingdom (Copyright Faffajane)

That was my year in a nutshell.  Weight loss didn’t happen but then again I have had health issues that have prevented me doing anything about it – it was two steps forward and taking six back at times, but hopefully, come the new year, I can start looking forward to doing something costructive about it.

All that remains is to wish you all a Happy New Year and may 2016 be a healthy and prosperous one for you all!

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Hugs x

 

Plan, plan, plan

In a couple of weeks, I will be flying out to my happy place – Walt Disney World, Florida.

It will be our fourth time there, the first time as a family without our friends.  So planning has been my domain, where before I have planned with a friend, I am doing it all by myself.

It may seem strange planning your days for your holiday, but Disneyworld is so vast, to see as much as you possibly can in the two weeks you are there, requires some forethought.  Not only do you have to think about the clothes you will take, but dining options, shows, characters you may want to meet – so much needs to be taken into consideration.

Now I am not a light packer.  I pack for all eventualities.  Ok I know the weather will be hot, there will be thunderstorms which is the norm for this time of year.  Clothing is not just the issue though.  I need to take into account do I have enough suncream for the heat?  Do I have insect repellent?  I take my tea tree oil everywhere with me, as I do arnica gel, aloe vera, pain tablets as I know with all the walking I will be doing there will be pain somewhere along the line.  Make up is also an issue.  Ok a small amount of powder and waterproof mascara because I cannot do without those two essential items as I really do look like death warmed up without!

The running joke between hubby and my two sons are ‘we all need one suitcase, mum needs two!’  Yes it is that bad!

Despite the amount of times I have changed my mind over clothing and what to take, in the last few weeks, my pile is still more than hubby and the children put together!  I cannot make a decision and make my pile smaller, I just do not do light!  I wish I knew how other people do it!

Oh and because of body issues, I don’t do the pack a few items and buy when you are out there!  I hate trying anything on, in changing rooms, I know there are larger people than me, but shopping for clothes is not my thing at all – it has taken hubby years to get me to buy any clothes when we are out and about!

On that note, I had better get off here and start sorting through this pile of clothes again and see if I can make it smaller!

Where did you go?

The last couple of months have been hard.  We had the news that a colleague had been given his death sentence, if you like, and to be honest, we have all been down about it, but hopeful, because after all, sometimes doctors do get it wrong don’t they?

The only thing they did get wrong was the fact he would see his 50th birthday.

He didn’t.

Today, on what is one very miserably wet day, I attended his funeral.  Today did not start well.  Three o’clock this morning the bathroom is buzzing with wasps – yes they decided to have a party in our bathroom!  Hubby sprayed them, hoovered them up, shut all the windows, which meant I was hot all night and felt like there was no air, before mumbling about going to check in the loft later today.  10’o’clock this morning I notice our chicken is broody, so evicted her from her nest and shut her out of the coop, only to feel a pain in my leg!  After looking down, find that I have been stung by a wasp!  Brush him off and douse my leg in the closest thing to hand – Vinegar!!  Ouch it really hurts!  Needless to say the wasp is no longer with us!

Then the drive to MK, to go to the funeral of my colleague.  It was lovely, a very humanist service, all very much about him, with music he liked and a poem, written for him, by John Hegley (google him you will know who he is).  Then at the end, because after all it was so him, his coffin goes out to the theme tune of Doctor Who!  Absolutely brilliant and not a dry eye to be seen.

There is nothing I can say apart from there is a great hole that can never be filled in the teaching world.  He was exceptional.  He loved life.  He loved literature.  He loved teaching.  But most of all he adored his wife, would mention her whenever he could and I know she is lost without him.  They were of the same mind, often inseperable.

So Mr. Davis, this is for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlmMumA0CMU

Small steps

Today was  my first walk/jog in quite some time, due to various injuries and other such struggles.  I have been building up to this, over the last few weeks, by going for gentle walks – well mainly taking a walk to the local hostelry, but everyone has to start somewhere 😉

Today I felt like doing something more and so after agreeing a plan with hubby, we bundled the dog into the car and headed out to the local park.  Now the day is overcast here, with a threat of rain in the air, so I didn’t want to hang around, and neither did the dog, which hubby held onto incase he decided he wanted to join in and trip me up!  In the park there are lamposts which are quite good if you want to take things slow, which I did.  So I walked/jogged round the park doing the following:  walk 2 lamposts, jog 2 lamposts, at every park bench I did either 10 press ups or 10 tricep dips, at set of balance beams in the park, 10 tricep dips, 10 press ups total: 70 press ups 100 Triceps. Time taken 28 mins: 26.9 seconds to do all this and walk/jog  1.1 miles/1.9 km.  I didn’t want to do more than that, afterall it is my first go in quite some time, but I was pleased when I look back and think I did jog about half of the park, so although it has been the first time in quite a while, it was good going.

Off now to freshen up and have some lunch!

That dreaded word.

Cancer.

I have a colleague who has cancer.  Throughout his diagnosis, his treatment, his times in hospital and out of it, he treated it as though it was just something that needed to be dealt with, but not to affect his life.  He carried on throughout, though he had to reluctantly take a leave of absence from his beloved career, he still smiled and joked his way through it all.

He has kept us all informed of his treatment, via social media, and with him we have all been praying for that miracle – well occasionally they happen right?

Not this time.

He has been in hospital for the past month, his wife by his side, only to be sent home today to prepare to die.

How does he announce it?  In his same bubbly, let’s crack a joke and have a laugh self.  He says he is truly blessed, his sense of humour has been unfailing, knowing he has the support of colleagues, family, friends has kept him strong throughout.

I know he will still be fighting, he is not the type to give up without one, but I am sitting here knowing that someone just a few months older than I, does not have much longer in this world, and that makes me sad, very sad indeed.

Cancer is cruel.  It has no prejudice.  Wealthy, poor, black, white, fat or thin, loved, unloved, kind or cruel, it doesn’t care.  A nasty disease that some are fortunate enough to survive while others suffer.

So live each day as if it is your last.  You only have one life, live without regrets, live to the full and enjoy.

February 16th 2015

Seriously, how can it be February already? Slow down world and let me take a breath please!

Well January brought it’s usual problems.  I did complete the 30 days of January task (see previous post) and felt a sense of achievement – I had managed to accomplish something in what is truly a depressing month for me, mainly due to the weather.

Did I lose weight?  Well 2Ibs, but think that was sheer luck rather than conscious anything.  What it did teach me though is that I can take control, I can be me, I can say no, better still I can eat without feeling as though I have to justify it or feel guilty for doing so.

Let me explain.  Throughout January, there have been many birthdays, meeting with friends lots of eating involved.  Now I didn’t always make the right choices here; birthdays mean that someone will inevitably bring in cake, crisps and other goodies into work for us to consume and it would be rude not to partake, or so I keep telling  myself.  I did partake, I had slices of cake when it was offered, then walked away instead of nibbling at the savouries.  Meals out with friends, starter, main, desserts and copious amounts of wine.  Now previously I would beat myself up over the amount I had consummed, sending me into an endless spiral of guilt over my gluttony, which would continue when I got home, after all I had already damaged my resolution so why not keep eating more – tomorrow is another day right?

This time though it didn’t happen.  Yes I consummed cake, yes I ate out and drank too much, but I didn’t let it get to me.  It stopped there.  I didn’t feel guilt, I didn’t feel as if I had broken a vow, instead a drew a line under it and continued on staying focussed on my plan.  We have found two boxes of biscuits and a box of chocolates, all of which remain on the table waiting to be consummed, by now they would have had the fact that they are still there speaks for itself.  I am in control.

On the othe hand, exercise has been sporadic at best.  Busy days at work has seen me collapsing on the sofa channel surfing, while elevating knee and icing it.  Some days are harder than others, depends on the coldness of the weather or how much walking up and down stairs I have done, all of which seem to affect it.  However there are days when all is well and I can manage 30 minutes on the exercise bike, I can do stretches or core and arm work.  I have found some videos on you tube, Jessica Smith, which I have been following.  She has a variety of exercise videos on there, for all levels and abilities and I have been following them.  Sometimes I fit in 10 minutes, at other times I fit in 30, but anything is better than nothing I feel.

Motivation is important.  I still don’t like what I see in the mirror, but I tell myself I am changing.  I have three weddings to go to this year, as well as the holiday to Florida and I don’t want to be presentable for the pictures, although I know I will still have someway to go before I lose what I have to, at least I can go knowing I have tried my best.

So that is me for now.  How are you?

New year, new me.

My quest for fitness did not go well at all, old injuries resurfacing and far too many excuses made instead of just doing!

For a while now, I have been following this blog http://www.fatgirlphd.com

This girl talks a lot of sense when it comes to weight loss and has changed my outlook a little bit on what I need to focus on.  She also has set up a fb page, the 30 days of good stuff, which started on the 1st of January.

So day one was Leave your Resolutions at the Door.  Not really difficult for me as I tend not to really make any, or if I do they are halfhearted.  You are encouraged to think about where you want to be this time next year, how you want your life to look.  So I did this, thought about what was going to happen over the next year and how I wanted it to play out and what changes I can make that will help me achieve my goal to be the person I want to be.

Day two, the year without fear.  We all have a fear and it stops us from achieving the goal we want.  So I thought about this for a while and realised that one of my fears is the mirror.  We have one in our bedroom, a mirror door, part of the fitted wardrobe.  I hate it.  I will avoid looking at it when I get out of bed in the morning, the only time I look at it is when I am fully dressed, hair done, make up on and then it is only a quick glance to make sure I am put together properly!  I decided no more hiding, and stood in front of the mirror in my underwear, Gok Wan style and focused on me.  What was I hiding?  What am I afraid of?  I took some photos of the fat stomach and arms, the tree trunk like legs and then focused on why hubby likes them so much!  My body carried two babies, it gave birth to them, fed and nurtured them.  It is me they turn to for hugs.  It is there for hubby’s cuddles.  He loves my body while I loath it, but more importantly it is part of me and I have to learn to live with it.  Look at my family, no one is stick thin, we all have flabby bits, so perhaps chasing after that perpetual dream is my undoing, instead of celebrating what I have.  I did do what I like, my toes, my hair, my eyes, just to stay on the positive side, I didn’t want to be all negative!

Day three What gets you going? What is your positive motivation for improving your life?  Mine being the ache in my knees and my ankles, knowing that I am heading towards 50 and wanting to make a change so my body doesn’t give up totally!  I see my mother, 69 years old, who struggles to move around, her legs are so bad, who doesn’t go out the front door unless someone is with her as she is so unsteady.  Do I want to be like that?  Hell No!  So I have to change in order avoid it.  What resources are going to use to keep it going?  Variety of resources, moving to music, I love Foo Fighters, Metallica, Green Day, Bon Jovi, all of which are on my playlist, all of which I move to.  I am going to dust down those exercise dvds and make sure I do them, or for variety, look up some exercises on You Tube to keep it interesting.  The exercise bike will no longer be used as a coat rack and will be used for what it is for.

Day four The most important person is? well obviously me, but I rarely put  myself first.  I have to change that, kick people off the xbox so I can have some me time in front of the telly, put what I want to do first instead of bowing to other people.  I think this explains it well: 10006318_730723323618487_1981928016_n

I have to admit, when I started to read 30 days of the good stuff, my initial thought was how is this going to help me?  However I have found that by thinking about her daily tasks, it is helping me to focus on what has held me back in the past.  As a result I have jumped on the scales and weighed myself and taken my measurements.  Truly I didn’t want to do this, afterall we all put on a little after the holiday season, but as it is always something I tend to avoid, I thought I had better start somewhere.  I know I need to lose a lot, but instead of focussing on that, I am setting small little goals instead, the first being to lose 2Ib, which will take me to the next stone.  I am not going to diet, I am going to eat healthily, but not going to deny myself either.  However over the last few days I have done some stretching, core work, pilates, low intensity cardio and 30 minutes on the exercise bike.  I have a wedding to go to in March and a holiday to Florida in August so it would be nice to be able to have toned up a bit for that.  That is my focus, that is my new me.

Feel free to take a look at Katie’s blog for inspiration, she is truly inspirational or join her 30 days of good stuff here.

Wake me up when September’s gone.

It has been a while, I admit, but I just having been feeling much of anything lately and to be honest could not be bothered with it all.

There is nothing wrong, just me not having any idea what to blog about or what to do.

So why now?

Well in all honesty I don’t know, apart from the fact that I need to lose weight, again, and build up on the exercise, like I was doing on my old blog.  So yes that is why I am back, to bore you all senseless with my food diary and exercise.

Aren’t you glad you logged on now?

Ok it isn’t starting today, though I have been out for a walk/run but then I found a packet of crisps, so one outweighed the other really.  Tomorrow is D Day though, hubby is joining me in my efforts, so at least I will have a partner.  The aim is to exercise everyday and eat healthily, we have a wedding to attend in March and we are off to Florida next August, so plenty of time to lose the weight I want.

I am going to do my made up plan, the one I did before I damaged my knee and record everything on here, so if it helps others, great!

As for today’s title, well September is one month where it cannot decide what to do weatherwise, and though we have had nice weather, it has been hard coping with getting up in the dark and trying to get through the day feeling tired, knowing winter is coming!

I hate winter! I definitely prefer Spring and Summer!

So wish me luck with my weight loss, keep m e focussed and enjoy!