On an unnatural high

After a lovely Monday off to myself, and a relaxing lunch with relatives on Tuesday, Wednesday was busy at work. BossMan had received more emails over three days than in the previous three weeks; we’re blaming the full moon.

Thursday dawned bright and early with a croak from the croup chorus. Once heard, never forgotten. Hubs was only just back at work after a week off, so I sent off text messages and emails to the Managers in the office and stayed home with the wee man.

Our GP the last time Peanut had croup had given us a prescription for prednisolone, telling us to keep it in the fridge just in case. Getting 4ml of the medicine into him used all my UN Peace Keeping negotiation standards I can tell you. He had a mouthful of breakfast, a bit of medicine, covered his mouth, complained vociferously that it was “dis-gust-ing” – obviously enunciating every syllable makes it get through to your Mama. I got the rest in, and some nurofen (which my phone constantly wants to correct to nitrogen *boom*), he then finished breakfast muttering about the indignity of it all.

He’s definitely my son.

We spent the morning on the couch, me reading the remnants of the papers, him watching DVDs. I’d an osteopath appointment at noon, so he came with me to that and chatted happily to Jo. We then headed to the plaza for some lunch and also to get him out the house, we ran some errands, ate some sushi and I let him lead me around to the shops he wanted to visit. The party shop, toy shop (unsurprisingly) and then the homewares section of K-Mart and Target.

He’s definitely my son.

Anyhoo, at the party shop I brought some Reese’s Pieces and a can of Dr Pepper. I’ve not had caffeine for most of this year, not had a soft drink either (tonic water in gin does not count) so the effects on my system were quick and long lasting.

In the afternoon I was ratty and irritable. It took forever for me to get to sleep, then I was restless all night. I had a headache this morning, despite drinking gallons of water all afternoon. Twenty four hours later, my skin still feels dry and itchy. I also weighed myself this morning. I’m puffy and bloated, my body is really not happy; even so to say ‘one was not amused’ at the figure on the scale is an understatement.

Listening to Late Night Woman’s Hour podcast while pottering around the house this morning, (Late Night so they can discuss slightly more risqué topics), they were covering purity. It’s well worth a listen, not least for the wide ranging definitions of purity, but about how women use terminology about being ‘good and bad’ so easily around food. I am fully aware that the drink did me no favours at all, even if the first mouthful was quite tasty. The film on my teeth and aftereffects are a clear signal that for all that the first mouthful was nice, the past day has been less so on my system as a whole.

On the podcast they discussed how “clean eating” is popular buzz words amongst smug middle-classes who have to Instagram their food to prove how well they’re doing. Not photographing the Reese’s Pieces and Dr Peppers, as they don’t happen *snort* We’re human, punishing ourselves doesn’t help anyone. Rubbing other’s noses in about how well we’re doing compared to them doesn’t help either. That middle road is such a fine line to dance, is it any wonder us mere mortals have a wobble and fall off every so often?

It’s been a funny week, I’ve not been sleeping well anyway, maybe that’s why I reached for the can? Who knows. I do know I’m not going to beat myself up over it, it’s done. I ran on Monday, but not since, so my weight fluctuation may be more than just the empty calories. It’s ParkRun tomorrow morning, I’m going to potter round the route and feel all the better for it.

Standing under the shower after running on Monday, I felt great. I’m also three quarters through Oliver Sacks memoir; at the point of finding sheer joy in a well-written, funny, lovely book, but I don’t want it to end. I had that with the Little Paris Bookshop when I was at 80% and forced myself to put the book (kindle) down, make a cuppa and go back to it. I knew I’d finish the book that night, but the world I was in was so lovely, I didn’t want to leave. To have found two books like that in a week is remarkable, it’s a much rarer and nicer feeling than a caffeine fix.

Lesson learned universe, lesson learned.


Ten on Tuesday – Community edition

Carole has a corker of a list this week, what makes your community interesting? I wasn’t sure how to approach this, then had a flash of inspiration in the shower. Libraries these are the very symbolism of ‘Community’ for me. Before I’d even moved to Australia, (Hubs had left the UK before me and found a house for us), I looked at what was going to be our local library and enrolled online, collecting my ticket and first books two days after I arrived.

Libraries a hub for people for a variety of reasons, and it is maddening to me that governments think they’re only about books and rental figures. Here are some arguments about why they’re so important to me.

Seaside Library

  1. Free or heavily discounted activities for all ages. From baby sing-alongs and story sessions, to showing how use tablets and computers, to language classes, to keeping chickens and researching your family history, there is something to do for everyone. If a session isn’t being run, have a look at the notice board, there will probably be something advertising a group or meeting you may be interested in. Sometimes, getting out the house with Peanut and going to a reading session was all that I achieved that day, but it meant a walk there and back, a reason to shower and some adult conversation, with the possibility of a coffee afterwards!
  2. A place to study. Even before I got to high-school, there were reference books that were permanently onsite that I used to refer to complete homework at the Seaside Library in my hometown, see above picture. I can still smell the room now, parquet floors and wooden floor to picture rail shelving, with moveable shelves, tables and desks in the middle of the room, the librarians had a central desk towards the front of the room, where your books were stamped in and out. I could probably still direct you to my favourite books in my mind.
  3. Access to more books than I could ever afford. Books are not cheap. When you devour them as quickly as I do and with a birthday not long after Christmas, my main book buying binge was usually in the sales in January with book tokens (remember them) and gift cards to WH Smith. I can remember carrying a stack of a mixture of Arthur Ransome and Sweet Valley High (oh my) to the counter, for the lady on the till to say “I think you like reading!” My mum fell about laughing.  Through the library, I was able to borrow books, read them, try them on, if I loved them, I could renew them, then put them on a ‘to-buy’ list. It also widened my sphere of reading, (way over and above Sweet Valley High), I’m still an eclectic reader now.
  4. A thirst for knowledge. If I want to learn about something, I read about it. Despite it being a digital age, (and loving my kindle), I love the tactile feel of paper. Most of my books have pen or pencil marks and notes in the margins. I love following the breadcrumbs of a subject, when a book point to another title or topic for me to lose myself in.
  5. Knowledge of how to research properly. Long before Google, there were microfiche readers and images of newspapers on reels. Standing up in front of a bank of cards, rifling through, taking the number of the tape or sleeve you needed to the librarian, waiting while they dug it out. Hoping a machine would be free. Another smell that is still there as I type this: the hot, dusty, celluloid, chemical tang. Going back and forwards over your tracks, making notes of where you were so your references were complete and correct at the end of your assignment. Kids these days…
  6. A place of refuge. In Eastbourne we also the ‘Central Library’, a concrete and glass monstrosity, but right by the train station. So if it was piddling it down with rain, you could make a made dash across the road and wait for the rain to stop. It also was a place I could spend hours in when my mind was struggling. Finding solace in Dewey, the smells of the books and stacks, people watching, writing endlessly, throwing the notes away and starting again.
  7. Librarians. A font of knowledge, support when you’re struggling to make a decision if you’ve accidently chosen too many books. I heartily miss the clunk-clunk of the stamp and my own little cardboard wallet with the tickets from the books I’d taken out in it. While Peanut loves scanning his books to take them out, it ain’t the same. Plus, we can take out 30 items at a time, so no quandary over what book to leave behind, wondering if I’d left the wrong one there.
  8. Meeting place. I cannot stress this point enough. Libraries are not just about books, they provide a safe, clean and welcoming place to meet. For mother’s groups, for play-dates, for friends, study-groups, you name it, you can meet there. You can also hire rooms out for meetings proper if your group needs somewhere, or for a change of scenery if you need an off-site work meeting.
  9. Resources for use/hire. I saw a picture of a bake pan library yesterday! See, I told you it is more than books. Catalogues now include DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, magazines, reference and text books, knitting patterns, board games. Our library is a networked group across different municipalities, there are nine sites in total. You can browse across the entire catalogue, ask for what you want to be sent to your local site. This arrangement is fantastic as the Councils can pool resources, to provide a truly excellent service.
  10. They help give back to the community. This leads off all the previous points, when you’re new in town, head to your local library. They will be able to help you get settled with lists of activities, doctor and dentist surgeries, more local historic information than you can shake a stick at.

I don’t think I will ever get off my soap-box about libraries. They are a necessity. They are precious and should be cherished, with funding secure. They’re a lifeline for many people, including me. I take Peanut to one of our local three every month, we check out a bag full (or two) of books, each time. He loves it as much as I do.


Monday was a good day

Tuesday, was Australia Day, I had an RDO cancelled over the Christmas break so I asked if I could have this Monday off instead. Granted, said BossMan. One glorious long weekend of four whole days out the office. This turned into four and a half, as I left not long after lunchtime on Friday with a stonking headache, but not sure spending the afternoon in bed sleeping counts?

Anyhoo, Saturday we all piled down to Queenscliff to go fishing, the boys were going on Friday, but the weather was awful with a massive front moving across Victoria with thunderstorms and rain (probably the cause of the headache). I suggested to Hubs he looked at the radar before they left, I think he was glad he did, and quickly changed plans. Peanut was upset, he’d been looking forward to fishing with his Dadda, but when we showed him the radar images he understood. He was also pleased that I could come with them on the trip the following day.

We packed up a picnic and left early, driving down I had a hankering for a hash brown. We pulled into the next fast food café that sold them, which was in the same town our landlord lives in. I texted him to say hi and he and his dad whizzed over to have an impromptu coffee with us, which was an unexpected and lovely bonus to the day. We carried on driving, parked up and unpacked the car with kit, rods, bait etc. we walked out to the pier and set up. I say ‘we’, I like fishing, but I don’t do anything with hooks, putting bait on, taking fish off, nothing. Bleurgh. Also Hubs had set up Peanut’s rod with the reel on the wrong side for me, I reel in with my left hand. It meant I couldn’t cast for toffee too, I was getting the line in a tangle, but never to mind. Looking over our shoulders the rain was rapidly approaching. The man beside us caught a ray of some description, he also showed Peanut the salmon he’d caught earlier in the day too. As Peanut was getting fidgety I asked if he wanted a walk, he said yes and skipped along the pier. We’d got about half way back to shore when the rain started, so we turned around and high-tailed it back to shelter on the pier.

Hubs stayed out manfully for about three more minutes, then we admitted defeat, the rain was heavy, there was no breaks on the horizon we could see, we walked back to the car. A handy shelter meant we could change Peanut into dry clothes, we then drove off to go to a museum, it was closed. We decided to have lunch, parking on the main street, Hubs hunter-gathered fish and chips, Peanut and I went to buy drinks. We met back at the car and drove to watch the ships on the bay, eating chips and chatting. As we were finishing, the sun broke through, the temperature shot up and an enormous container ship was edged out the heads by a Pilot boat.

We headed to the memorial chair for Hubs’ Mum, Nanna Helen. Her ashes were sprinkled from the pier we’d been fishing from, but this is where the family come to remember her. Every time we come down, we take a picture of the children on the bench. We had a champagne reception there before we got married too, with all our family and friends who’d come to the wedding. We walked down to the beach, made sandcastles, flew a kite, collected seaweed, paddled and squiged our toes into the sand. When Peanut was soaked through, after nearly an hour we stripped him off, and walked back to the car. I snapped this quickly with my phone:

Sunday we had his swimming lesson, then headed to the zoo. We’ve made a decision to not take Hubs there again, unless it is firmly in school time on a random day, he just doesn’t cope with the crowds. When we left he said he’d nearly had a panic attack, so Peanut and I will just go on our own now, I then don’t have to worry about the two of them and chivvying Peanut along because Hubs is getting twitchy.

Monday, blissful Monday. I had breakfast with Peanut, dropped him off at nursery, then went for a run. My legs were sore, so I walked more than I wanted to, but I still did nearly 5km. That evening I played with my foam roller. I have such a love/hate relationship with that blasted thing. I love it, but have to use it when Peanut is asleep or out the house, the language I use is involuntary and very blue. My bad.

Anyhoo, I got back from my run and dyed my hair. I had a list as long as my arm of jobs to do, but I was in the shower I thought, “Stuff it” – technical term. I looked up cinema times, I wanted to see Room, but it’s not out here yet, so thought about going to see either Star Wars again or The Revenant. But after I’d wandered around and finished my chores at the plaza I borrowed Into The Woods on DVD instead. I quite enjoyed it, although unusually for a musical, I didn’t end up singing any of the songs afterwards for days, although I do want the witches blue dress now. Not like Sweeny Todd ‘Ave a bit of priest!’ Or Phantom, Me and My Girl, Joseph, Spamalot or Rocky Horror, (amongst others, I’ve linked to film versions where I can, rather than theatre versions) where I know all the words. We had a family dinner, I made macaroni cheese, throwing the sauce together in the thermomix while the pasta boiled, it was one of those that you do quickly but taste ‘mazin. I finished off George’s Marvellous Medicine with Peanut. Hubs went to see Star Wars again, I sat up in bed and read Oliver Sacks with repeated cups of tea then sacked out.

Monday was great, because I gave myself permission to stop and just ‘be’ for a while. I need to do more of that.

This girl can!

A year ago the UK Government launched This Girl Can. Showing real people doing real exercise and getting hot and sweaty as a result of it. The video is ninety seconds of awesome. Showing women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colours running, swimming, boxing, enjoying Zumba (I think, never done a class, so am guessing) amongst other sports and classes. (I wish some of the women in the video had better sports bras though; you need to look after your puppies ladies!)

The straplines are great:

  • “I jiggle therefore I am”
  • “Damn right I’m hot”
  • “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox”

Last year passed so quickly, when they were discussing on Woman’s Hour this morning how the initiative was going after a year, I nearly dropped my cup of tea – a year ago? I can remember the discussion on the program last year when everyone was so excited about it. The flurry of tweets with the video going round, the hashtag. The Government were trying to carry on the momentum from the 2012 Olympics, reminding people that getting moving immediately after Christmas is hard work and to keep your resolutions takes hard work and commitment.

At work we’ve a hideous poster that has been put up all over the building, reminding us that only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them. Along with this picture:


I know it’s a staged stock photo, but it is reactions like this that put people off walking into a gym.

  • It is feeling the weight of judgement from others upon your shoulders that make people think ‘It’s too hard, I can’t do it’.
  • It’s worrying about if you have the right clothes, because your outfit has to match to exercise according to the adverts, and you need the snazziest trainers.
  • It’s walking into a shop to buy new clothes or shoes, being confronted by tiny clothes, sold to you by uninterested teenagers, that again can put it into the ‘too hard basket’ to get going.

Continue reading “This girl can!”

Ten on Tuesday – David Bowie remembered

Despite my post last night, I’m still reeling from the news of David Bowie’s passing. I’ve dressed in black today too, on a 36c day, but I needed to do that, for me.

Carole hadn’t sent out our notification for Ten on Tuesday (sign up here), so amended it to our favourite Bowie songs, along with the wall to wall avatar changes on social media, tweets and airplay of his songs, I hope his family are feeling the world wide love towards him and them. If you’ve not found it, his narration of Peter and The Wolf is lovely too.

This is in no particular order:

1. Young Americans

2. Space Oddity

3. Boys Keep Swinging

4. Rebel Rebel

5. Dancing In The Street, with Mick Jagger

6. Fame

7. Ashes to Ashes

8. Fashion

9. Absolute Beginners

10. Starman

11. Under Pressure, with Queen

12. Boys Keep Swinging

13. Rebel Rebel

14. The Next Day

15. Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy

16. Let’s Dance

17. Lazarus

I tried to get it to Ten. Failed, I couldn’t cull it any further. Blackstar is such a soft, gentle album. It really is lovely.

I’m going to have a hangover 

And I don’t care. I had a glass of wine while I was cooking dinner, which was lovely. Butter chicken curry, chosen by Peanut, a really flavoursome, tasty meal.

After dinner, no gadgets at the table, I got up and texted Aged Parents and asked if they were up. They replied, “Just barely”. I got the iPad, went to open it up to FaceTime and in the middle of the screen was a news alert saying David Bowie had passed away.

I’m now finishing the bottle of wine, because I’m broken. Broken like I was when Freddie Mercury passed away. A true musical genius, absolute sponge to ideas, genres, producers – David Bowie changed the world. Genius is often bandied around, too often and not always accurately, but David Bowie was a genius.

I’m struggling for words here, so will close. But I want to leave you with something I don’t know many of you will have seen. An episode of Car Pool, (by another of my favorite humans, Robert Llewellyn, most commonly know as Kryten from Red Dwarf. Robert is a staunch green campaigner, and his gentle education around electric cars made me want to buy one. His Fully Charged episode where he picks up his Telsa is quite lovely, he’s as excited as a little boy).

This is Duncan Jones, talking about making Moon, (if you’ve not seen it, watch it), and his dad – David Bowie.

I’m off to watch Labyrinth, on repeat. Which is where I fell in love with him, when I was eleven years old. Thirty years he’s been a hero of mine. Thirty years. David Bowie’s musical career spans fifty years, with his last album released a few short days ago – only seven songs long, it’s beautiful. 


Smooth Operator

Like many people around the office, I’m making smoothies and guzzling them for breakfast. Although, I’ve been making them long before they became fashionable. I used to get odd looks drinking them on the train up to London when I was commuting, but I guess like most things – if you wait long enough for anything, it will come around again.

I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but in Australia the new-fangled kitchen gadget is a blender that you whizz all your goodies directly into the glass that you’ll drink from. There are hundreds of them in the shops, literally stacked up in their boxes in Target and K-Mart, with more robust versions available in any store they sell electrical goods.

Have we gone that mad, we can’t decant a smoothie from a blender into a pot now? Are we really that time-poor? Continue reading “Smooth Operator”