The Bare Necessities of Life

Typical subscription box

Dear Home Economic teachers

In the 2nd year of the senior school in the 70s, the girls in our school had lessons in cookery and sewing. Boys didn’t do these classes; they did “manly” things like woodwork and metalwork. We did these classes until we were allowed to choose our subjects in year 4 (for all younger than me, that would be your year 10).

My children have found the fact that you, my home economics teachers, thought I was a useless case as far as cooking and sewing quite strange. Dinners for my children were often made from scratch, lunch boxes always had some home baked cakes in and I also cross stitched them an advent calendar which is still in use. So why didn’t I enjoy my lessons at school and did I learn anything?

I have to say that I was looking forward to cookery but Mrs L, I’m afraid you frightened me. Practical things and me don’t seem to get on and your loud shrieking voice did not help whatsoever. I know that we are all different and some people who have teachers speaking in this way helps them but it just gave me butter fingers. It was with great eagerness that I gave up this lesson. When I do bake now, I do find myself remembering something I learned at school: folding the mixture round and cutting through with the metal spoon and also one of my favourites from school, feather icing. I did have teachers later in life though who helped me with my love of cooking: Delia Smith, Mary Berry, Gary Rhodes and Paul Hollywood. I can produce a delicious roast dinner with crunchy but fluffy roast potatoes, lemon drIzzle tray bakes, a quick microwave sponge pudding and when challenged, bake croissants. I hope that I have also taught my children a love of cooking too.

Mrs S, you were my form teacher when I first joined the “big” school and the following year my needlework teacher. You were a very kind teacher and left us to get on with our own devices. I was always good with theory so can still remember the basics of tacking, back stitch and I think I could get by with blanket stitch if the need arose. However, the sewing machine remains a mystery to me and I still can’t cut straight with scissors. I will never be able to make myself a nightie (our first and uncompleted project for me).

So I did take with away some skills, but just like riding a bike or driving a car, these skills are perfected out of the classroom environment. I was able to find what I loved to do and also find that both baking and my cross stitch is my way of relaxing. This weekend it was so satisfying when I piped butter cream onto a whoopie pie, sandwiched it together with another and it looked like the photo of the recipe. It was also satisfying to eat it too!

I’m never going to be a bake-off contestant; perfection is not me! My whoopie pies were not the same size but what does it matter as long as they taste good.

This is the same for my cross stitch although it always looks neat. The most important thing to me in cross stitch is to have the stitches going in the same direction. The back of the cross-stitch isn’t the neatest but who sees the back. I have seen photos of some really neat backs which could actually be the front. I wonder Mrs S, if you would have expected that.

I would like to share the efforts of my weekend with you both. My completed cross stitch kit, a subscription from Cotton and Twine. I treated myself to it in April fully intending to complete it quickly. Four months later, I finally finished it. I don’t tend to frame the completed projects myself but following the instructions carefully, I’m chuffed with the outcome. I even cut it straight.

I can also share the carrot cake whoopie pie photo too; another subscription box from April. I have been too busy to complete.

So whilst I might not have been an ideal student, I am able to cook and sew. For me, the classroom wasn’t the ideal learning place for these skills but I hope that schools do continue to teach these important lessons.

Kind regards

Tina

P.S. I’m glad I didn’t have to do woodwork or metal work

Stitching and baking

Simply the Best

Happy times

Dear family

Thank you for making my birthday so special. I thought it wasn’t going to be a normal birthday; there wasn’t going to be everyone gathered in our bedroom singing happy birthday before I opened presents. This was a lockdown birthday although due to a lift in restrictions, Kathryn was going to be able to sit in the family garden! Little did I know that what you had in store for me.

As is normal in the Terry household at the moment, we were awake at 5.30 in the morning. I did have a happy birthday sang to me through WhatsApp from Jordan at 6 o’clock. The message didn’t strike me as unusual . With you working and living in London, I have had a few birthdays with you not being here on the day but normally you are here the weekend before.

As is also normal on birthdays and at Christmas, I was spoilt by you, Chris. I couldn’t believe I actually had a brand new, shiny rose gold iPad. One that was not actually second hand! After a few false starts, you even had my games downloaded (my day does not begin until I have completed my daily fix of solitaire, sudoku and wordstacks).

More birthday messages came through from Kathryn before I cycled to the beach with Chris. It was a beautiful morning to enjoy watching the calm sea and views of the Isle of Wight. I was sad that we all wouldn’t be together but I could remember the past birthdays normally enjoying food and the scenery: cream teas in the New Forest, fish and chips in the rain  on Brighton Pier and wave jumping in Fuerteventura. It was certainly going to be different this year with one member of the family missing and family hugs not possible. 

There was a bit of friction at the beach when Chris was trying to make me decide what we were going to eat. Friction and eating are another norm! I was still feeling a bit annoyed that as my birthday was on a Sunday, I couldn’t have my family all here to help me celebrate. I would have willingly made dinner myself with what we had in the fridge. Anyway, so as to not make the day difficult, I followed Chris into the local shops and chose lamb steaks in one shop then a huge steak and merlot pie in another. Should be more than enough for 3 of us and maybe Aaron.

We cycled home and once in, I sent messages to my sister and to Kathryn to let them know that they could come round. At least restrictions had been lifted so I could have them both in the garden.  Within 2 minutes, there was a ring on the doorbell. I was greeted by a happy birthday chorus from you Kathryn and……..

Well I could not believe it; I was expecting to see Aaron but instead it was a sweaty, gorgeous Jordan and bike. He had cycled  for 4 hours 45 minutes from Wimbledon to say Happy Birthday.

Family back together for the afternoon on a hot summer’s day that was simply the best!

Love from a very spoilt wife and mum x 

P.S. Can we do wave jumping next year?

Next time will be about how all intended yearly goals change very unexpectedly 

Flowers from Jordan

Now get to work, work, work

Progression in weights

Dear Jessica

Hope you and your family are well.

I only discovered you in January 2019 and since then you have been an important part of my life. I was trying to lose a stone in weight (again)  and came across your Walk Off the Weight DVD plan. Six DVDs later and after learning how to get YouTube on to the TV, I am hooked.  You are like having a personal trainer: one day I’m doing Hiit cardio and next day I’m doing a fusion walk.  There are so many different routines to try that I can never be fed up plus you never shout at me. Now I know that some people feel that having someone who forces you to work hard works for them. It’s not for me – I would just go and eat cake!

Cake is one of the reasons I do have to exercise and as we are all going through a difficult time at the moment, I’m baking and eating a lot more. Even more this week as it’s been my birthday!  

Normally my day will start early and I will do some exercise before work. It might just be one of your 15 minute walks but I would always try to do something. I would come home and if I wasn’t running (during the winter months I run after work but actually prefer to run in the morning), then I would pop on another routine and exercise again. Silly me thought life would be easier when we made plans to start working from home. Whilst everyone else was scanning the local Sainsbury’s for toilet rolls, I picked up my order of my heavier weights; after all, I was going to have all that time I wasn’t travelling to work (or so I thought).  I was ready to start on a Jessica Smith plan.

On my first day of working from home, our prime minister  announced strict lockdown measures including only going out for one day of exercise. I was going to have to choose wisely but I could work out to lots of your different workouts. My normal lunchtime walk could be replaced by a 15 minute fast fat blast walk.

Did that happen? Well some days it did but not as often as I would like. Well it turns out you do actually have to work very hard from home. You forget to stop for lunch and your 4pm finish stretches to 5.30.  My monthly email would come from you and was so full of encouragement. You understood, as you were also experiencing these uncertain times too, that it sometimes was too hard to do any exercise. I was finding that the beginning of each week even going outside for a walk was an effort. Most weeks I was able to turn it round by Thursday so I did have 4 days of good exercise. 

12 weeks after our lockdown started, life is slowly starting again to what is being called a ‘new normal’ and I’m able to exercise outdoors as much as I want.  I have managed to complete your core week (persuaded my daughter to take part in that) and am running regularly. This week I set myself a target of reaching 20,000 steps a day by enjoying the fresh air by walking and running. Finally finished my 5k runkeeper plan. Not as fast as it wanted me to be but there is always next time. I also opened your yoga stretch for beginners & beyond DVD to try to encourage me to start enjoying the benefits of yoga. It’s early days but I think it could soon become a regular part of my exercise. 

I’ve also decided that I will exercise Monday to Fridays and use my weekends to ride my bike, take long walks or dance and sing badly in the kitchen whilst making dinner. I’m also going to start your Summer of Strength program on Monday. I’m still taking one day at a time though so hopefully I finish week 1.

Once again, Jessica, thank you for all your wonderful workouts.

Stay safe

Tina x

P.S. Whilst walking back through the store with my weights, one of the wonderful workers came out with a trolley full of toilet rolls so there was a lot of happy shoppers!

Next time I will be sharing my birthday whilst on relaxed lockdown

Pretty leggings make workouts easier!

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday Dad

Dear Dad

I wanted to wish you a happy birthday on the 25th birthday without you. Those years have gone so quickly. When you left us, Jordan was a 3 year old toddler and Kathryn just 3 months old. They are all grown up now and making their way in life.

We are experiencing very strange times at the moment so I haven’t been able to see them in the normal way . Recently I have been able to go for walks with Kathryn and she was even able to sit in the garden on Tuesday. Jordan lives in London so for almost 12 weeks, he hasn’t visited. Technology has moved on a lot since 1996: we all have mobile phones now and also the Internet. Honestly how we survived without Google is beyond me. You just ask a question and the answer will appear. Sometimes it is a bit too much overload! I’ve also got a kindle to read my books; an electronic reader which means I don’t have to have a huge book in my bag. The kids are more old fashioned and love the physical books (don’t tell anyone but they might be slowly coming round to owning one!). Anyway with all this technology, we have been able to video call each other, cook together and also have weekly quizzes. It’s not the same as seeing them in person but it’s certainly better than nothing.

You will be pleased to know that as they were growing up, we liked to bake together. You will remember how much Jordan loved his food, his hands would fly up in the air in excitement as he was being fed. Kathryn is a bit of a foodie; she loves all sorts. Jordan has been cooking roasts whilst he has been away; he has promised that he will make one for me when he is allowed in the house again. Although he has been asked to join us, he hasn’t taken part in baking with me and Kathryn on a Sunday. For ten weeks, we have been baking by video call on our phones. I’m sure you would like to know what we have been baking:

  • Victoria Sandwich – Kathryn is an expert at these and I always made these for the birthday cakes.
  • Munchkin Cakes – a bit like jaffa cakes and one of the favourites when the kids were younger. I made a bit of a disaster here – I didn’t turn the oven down. We both thought they weren’t as good as they used to be. Must look at the recipe again.
  • Scones – we love afternoon teas. We baked on a lovely warm day so I was able to sit in the garden with Chris to enjoy ours; Kathryn enjoyed her scones with her boyfriend, Aaron. The scones were delicious spread with jam and then clotted cream. After eating these, I’m not sure if I will go out for a cream tea again! That’s another family favourite.
  • Cheese Scone round – a recipe by Mary Berry which I know we will enjoy baking lots.
  • Lemon Drizzle bites – these were lovely and easy to make. Who doesn’t like lemon drizzle cake?
  • Raspberry and passion fruit muffins – will make these again. So good.
  • Jam tarts – pastry making this week. I don’t think I made these with the kids before. Mum always made them for us when we were children.
  • Cheese straws – we thought we would try something a bit savoury. Both of ours looked different. Very good though.
  • Bakewell tarts – Mr Kiplings bakewell tarts are a firm favourite of us all and remind us of picnics. We used ready made pastry. I think that these were probably the most fun to do and again become a favourite. When Jordan returns home, we have to make these for him as it wasn’t fair he didn’t have them.
  • Small Victoria sandwich cakes – freshly made today. We have loved making them. We normally bake on a Sunday but as I’m celebrating my birthday tomorrow, we did it today.

I am looking forward to when we are all together so we can sample all the baking together. It will be sad that Jordan won’t be here tomorrow to help celebrate my birthday.

I always loved the fact that my birthday was the day after yours. Wish you were still here to enjoy the bakes we have been cooking.

Sleep tight Dad.

Love Tina x

P.S. Love to Mum and Tony. I miss them lots too. Wish Auntie Rose a happy birthday for tomorrow xx

As you can see, baking has been a big part of the lock down. Join me next time to see how I’ve tried to keep fit whilst indulging in the foods I love to eat.

Rule Breaker – Are You Happy Now

Mum with Kathryn and Jordan

Dear Dom

You were not someone that I was familiar with until I saw the headlines in the paper on that Saturday morning and then watched as you did story with Dom in 10 Downing Street gardens. It was quite concerning that we had been told we couldn’t have friends and family in the garden and there you were throwing a garden party!

Anyway I made sure my daughter was settled to watch the afternoon story (we were due to watch Breakfast at Tiffanys remotely of course because those are the rules).

Now I’m not going to go into your story too much but wanted to talk about integrity. The dictionary gives the word as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles (I did find a meaning that it is a personal quality of fairness that we all aspire to – unless you’re a dishonest, immoral scoundrel). I will let you make up you mind about where I think you lie.

I always believed that my husband and I tried very hard to teach our children strong moral principles from the start of their lives. These included being respectful of others and following the rules. I am so proud of the adults they have become. To this day, they follow the rules but will question them if they believe they are wrong. We all followed the rules that the government set out on 23rd March.

My husband and I have had to get used to each other’s company without my daughter popping in for dinner or my son visiting for the weekend: my son is around 70 miles away in Wimbledon and my daughter is 3 miles away. By following the rules, we have sacrificed our family gatherings but hope we can make up for this in the future. Planned theatre trips have had to be put on hold and sporting events the ‘kids’ were due to compete in have been postponed. We’ve been working from home. Unfortunately my daughter who loves working, has been furloughed. Unfortunately for me, one of my jobs is in payroll and I have had to deal with learning this new skill which is very stressful.

We have missed Easter and bank holiday gatherings. I have wondered if we have followed the rules a bit too much; VE Day celebrations for both my neighbours seemed to include family from other households in their gardens. Are we missing something?

If I had been a journalist at your garden party, I would have asked this one question. When you made your 260 mile journey to Durham, and you might not have stopped, did you actually think what lives you were putting in danger. It wasn’t just the lives of yourself and your family with you but also if you had an accident, you would have put at risk emergency crews and added extra burden to our NHS service. This was the reason why my daughter would not drive her car so she could run longer than her drive or why my son did not ride his bike for 100 km to keep up his training. They used their integrity; do you really think you used yours?

Well Dom, just like Boris, I am bored with the Dominic Cummings story now. I want, which I would have liked to have seen on Saturday 23rd May, is for someone to say that you have made a mistake and that you and the government were very sorry for what has happened. I know that is all I wanted. Instead all the “ordinary people” like myself wouldn’t have felt that they did wrong in following the rules. My family were okay but other parents had to just watch helplessly as their loved ones had to look after their families whilst being ill – they followed the rules and couldn’t help. Others lost family and weren’t allowed to hold their hands in their final moments. Only a few are allowed to attend funerals so the grieving process of so many are on hold.

Please do the right thing, admit you made a mistake and let’s move forward.

Here’s hoping again

Tina

P.S. I can no longer watch the daily update because I do not have any trust in the politicians or experts at this stage. However, the public are actually a lot smarter than you, Dom and we will do the right thing

As I approach my 54th birthday, I’m excited to know that I can now have my family back in the garden. My next post will be about how we still managed to bake together although apart.

Sunday Baking

Letters from my Daughter

Letters from my Daughter

Dear 2020

You are certainly a very strange year.  Although I’m a firm believer that you can start again on any day or month of the year, I still felt a buzz when January 1st came and it was hello 2020.  I certainly never ever realised how strange it would be.  The whispers of this new “virus” which came from China didn’t seem a problem then. January, a month that can seem to go too slowly, actually whizzed past.  I bought myself a bike, attempted to learn to ride again and enjoyed a very lovely Saturday in the lovely town of Emsworth with Chris.

February came and with it the start of birthday season.  How I felt sorry for Kathryn when Storm Ciara hit us on her birthday and wrecked her evening meal plans.  I’m so pleased that the following weekend, we ignored all weather reports and battled our way to Bath to enjoy an afternoon tea.  Yes it was wet and windy but how we now can rejoice that we did actually did go because it would be one of our last afternoon teas for a while.  Next weekend, the weather looked as if it would dampen a trip to the theatre with Chris. It cleared up to allow us to take public transport, enjoy a glass of wine or three and walk to the lovely Kings Theatre.  The next day was blustery but Wimbledon beckoned for a roast with Jordan and Thais.  Apart from the weather and the talk of China, you had started very well.  I was looking forward to more afternoon teas, theatre trips and booking holidays in the months ahead or so I believed….

January purchase

March arrived and suddenly life came to a halt.  The virus from China had finally become a pandemic around the world.  Mother’s Day was the last day we spent together as a family.  Jordan had been working from home for two weeks but was returning to London to be with his girlfriend, and Kathryn, after having a “sleepover” with us, returned to be with her boyfriend.  Although we suspected we were going to face a lock down situation, I don’t think we understood how much our lives would change when the day after Mother’s Day, we were told to stay indoors and not mix with other households.  Keeping fit outside was limited and working from home was what we were being encouraged to do. Now 11 weeks on, I am able to see my daughter if we keep 2 metres apart.  We have devised different family “virtual meet ups” which have been very good (what did we do before the internet and mobile phones) and I have enjoyed getting letters in the post from Kathryn.  The letters have been fun with a few “Kathryn” challenges added to them.

In the last letter, Kathryn told me how she is enjoying writing her blog again.  As she had previously been busy working now that she is a “grown up”, blogging had been put aside.  She is making the most of being put on furlough (a new word I despise), and is enjoying all the things that will hopefully make her a fully fledged “grown up”!  She asked if I would ever get into blogging again.

Well in the two weeks since being asked that question, I have re-read some of my posts and looked at my life. I announced on Monday to Kathryn that I would like to but didn’t know how I would do it.  I think she had been thinking about this a lot as she reeled off lots of ideas.  As is normal for me, I came up with an idea on a walk listening to a pod cast (another of Kathryn’s challenges).  I thought I would write letters to my family, friends and all the people/things that make me happy or sad.  It will be a great way to expressing thanks or basically getting things off my chest!

Finally 2020, I would like to say the last 5 months has been so different for us. There has been a great loss in the world: lives, livelihood and a certain amount of freedom.  I am hopeful that from 1st June it is going to get better.  We will  be able to start seeing our family again and although there will be a new norm, life will be good again.

Here’s hoping

Tina

P.S. I will write to you again!

Please come back and read about how challenging I am finding the rules, the impact of the furlough scheme and ways we have made sure our family have fun together

The family – back to together soon

In the middle of the year, I go walking in my gear

As June draws to a close, I’m sure everyone is echoing the same as me: where is the year going?I usually love June. Well it is my birthday month so that might be why. This year however, the weather has been dreadful and it made me, and no doubt lots of other people, a bit down. Lovely to see June going out with the highest temperatures of the year.

In the past, June has brought us sadness too with the loss of our loved ones. My mother died 4 years ago on 28th June and I will never forget my last birthday with her. As someone who loved birthdays, I know how sad she was that she wouldn’t make my next birthday, my special 50th. She would have loved that. As life has to go on, I find myself remembering my loved ones when I’m doing something that I think they would have enjoyed or been proud of. Mum would have loved boasting about her granddaughter’s graduation and enjoyed the chocolate honeycomb cake we made to remember what would have been her 75th birthday. This year I did something a bit different to think about her on the 4th anniversary of her falling asleep. I completed my 1,000 mile challenge for the year.

Mum and Dad at my wedding

The 1,000 mile challenge is a group of lovely people on the Rosemary Conley Online site. We record our mileage though the Fitbit or any other device and post a weekly post. There are some serious places where people record just their walks but this includes all daily activities. To complete in a year, you have to do just over 3 miles a day. As we should aim for 10,000 steps a day, this is very achievable. Now that I have finished my 1,000 miles, my next aim is to complete 2,000 miles. Confession time here: I have a spreadsheet dedicated to working out my stats. How sad am I! Current date for completing 2,000 steps is 18th December.

So apart from turning 53 and completing my 1,000 mile challenge, what else have I achieved in June:

  • Completed the lovely Jessica Smith Summer of Strength challenge. Even upgraded my weights to 1.5 kg!
  • Read 4 books making my Goodreads reading challenge total 32. 21 books to go.
  • Ran 38.22 miles. I aim for 30 miles per month.
  • Lost 1.75 lb in weight. Did want to get to goal but a girl has to enjoy her birthday.

Here are my July’s aims:

  1. Complete my cross stitch – I am going to stitch everyday in July to do this
  2. Tidy the larder – how can I bake when it’s so messy
  3. Run a 10k race – I am signed up to do a race at Portchester Castle on 28th July. I can do this!
  4. Change my running route – at the moment I like running round the block as its like my comfort blanket. My house is never far away
  5. Get to goal weight – 2lbs to go
  6. Plan weekly meals
  7. Arrange walk with Chris
  8. Re-introduce meat free Monday
  9. Read 4 books – write reviews
  10. Paint my nails

My biggest aim is to finish my cross stitch that I started in January so this is my 30 (or 31 as it is July) plan this month. I’m going to try to find an hour each day to stitch. Honestly it isn’t that big so it should have been finished a long time ago. Cross stitch helps me relax so I’m hoping if I can organise myself better, I will be able to do this.

My WIP – I aim to finish in July

I will let you know how I’m doing.

Speak soon.

Sugar and Spice and all things nice

When you are trying to lose weight the last thing you want to have is temptations. At work, any goodies go on my desk as I’m the least likely to be tempted. I’m not so good at home; Kathryn can open a large packet of crisps, eat what she wants and put the rest in the cupboard and forget about them. Once I have eyeballed them, I can not forget them. I have to have them. The same with cakes. At the beginning of my action to lose weight, when my baked in subscription box came through, I put them on top of the cupboard to bake at a later date. I love the boxes so did not want to give the subscription up.

June’s box was on its way last week when I was on holiday and I fully intended to bake it. Friday morning weigh in warned me I shouldn’t. Lots of birthday cakes and lovely food when eating out meant I saw a 1.5 lb gain. Not a disaster but should I really put temptation in the way: absolutely! Who could resist cherry crumble muffins.

Sunday morning, after a run (I run to eat cake), I started baking. As with all baking boxes, all dry ingredients were included. All I needed to add was unsalted butter, fresh cherries, milk and eggs. The box with ingredients is post box friendly so 12 greaseproof circles to make your own muffin cases. I am quite an expert with these now; my first attempt for lemon & poppy seed muffins weren’t successful. With the help of glasses, I managed to prepare my muffin cases very well.

Preparing muffin cases

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The next job was to prepare the cherries. This was a bit of a messy and time consuming job. They needed stoning and cutting into quarters.

Preparing cherries – time consuming

Thankfully, the rest of the preparation was reasonably easy. I next made the crumble mixture melting butter before adding bag 1 (light brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon). Once mixed, bag 2 (plain flour) was added by rubbing in to make the crumble.

Crumble mix

The muffin mixture was quickly put together by beating butter with bag 3 (more light brown sugar and granulated sugar). The eggs were whisked before adding to the mixture. The prepared cherries were added in to this along with bag 4 (plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and vanilla). This was spooned into the muffin cases, the crumble mixture added on top and they were finished with flaked almonds (bag 5). They went into the oven and after 25 minutes, they were ready. As you can imagine from the ingredients, the kitchen smelt wonderful and I couldn’t wait to try them.

Muffin mixture

Waiting for them to cool – so tempting

They did not disappoint – these muffins could become one of my favourites.

One of my five a day?

I recommend this subscription because all dry ingredients are in the box and weighed out so it makes baking that bit easier. As I love to bake, my larder does normally have a lot of ingredients stored away so I can make the recipes again as the recipe cards do come with the measurements needed. Sometimes they are easy to make but then the next month, you might get something that is a challenge. Whatever the bake, there is always a bit of a twist.

Speak soon.

I Wanna Runaway

Kathryn doesn’t own a kindle: Kathryn doesn’t want a kindle. My old kindle has been given to my sister Tracy who is putting it to very good use. Whilst Kathryn can now gift me kindle books, she refuses to plus she thinks if she is going to buy me a book, it will be her choice and not something from my ever growing list. I do like most of her choices and if she has read something and given it a glowing review, I will borrow it from her. This year I have read three of her books.

She was particularly enthusiastic about Jog On by Bella Mackie; a book she said she was going to make all her friends read so they could see the benefits of running particularly with mental health. Having been spurred on to up my exercise in January by taking on the RedJanuary challenge, which encourages to support your mental health and exercise every day throughout January (January is a dreary day for most people so having a plan to do something every day gets you out of bed and really does make you feel better), I wanted to read this book. As soon as Kathryn closed the cover on her book, I asked if I could borrow it.

Jog On by Bella Mackie

The author had spent most of her life battling with anxiety and depression. She was known as the sad kid at school. Finding herself alone after a very short marriage, Bella literally picked herself off the floor and dragged herself outside and started running. Her first run was slow, in the dark and lasted a few minutes. Overtime, she was able to do little more. It wasn’t an easy task for Bella; she explains her fears of public places and public transport. Eventually, through running or “jogging”, she was able to face these fears. She was able to experience the city she lived in but hadn’t noticed before. She was also able to take a tube and fly in a plane without having a panic attack.

I normally read a book in a week; this took me two weeks. There is a lot of details about different anxieties and depression. We can all think that we are depressed sometimes when we have a difficult week or anxious when we have to do something new but Bella explains how much more a person with anxiety issues will worry about little things.

I did find this a fascinating read. Bella picked up her running using one of the couch25k podcasts. I started running with this and at the age of 47, I went from someone who couldn’t run for a bus to someone that could run for 30 minutes with out stopping. I had recently lost my younger brother who had been diagonised with schizophrenia in his 20s. As I faced each weekly challenge, I thought of him, imagining that if he had taken up running or any exercise, maybe he would have reached 50 or older. A few years later, my mum died. At the age of 14, my mum had a nervous breakdown. I don’t believe she ever fully recovered from it. The understanding wasn’t available from family or the medical world. I have a song on my running playlist which we played at her funeral; Show me the Way to Amarillo. Whenever it plays on my run, I imagine my mum is with me.

Bella believes running saved her life and I certainly can see that running or any form of exercise will help your mental health. I know that baking and cooking always makes me feel good. I love eating it too: that’s why I exercise – I can eat cake!

Happy by Fearne Cotton

Another book I read on my goodreads list was Happy by Fearne Cotton. Again, this was a proper book given to me by Kathryn. Fearne is a lady I admire. She seems so bubbly but she talks about her battle with depression. In this book, she shares ideas to finding joy in every day. Fearne openly talks about her own battle and how she tries to approach things differently to avoid black days. Again this book took me a long time to read: I actually started reading this in 2018 but put it down before finishing it this year. I think it needs another read sometime.

Finally another book I must mention to do with running is Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson. This lady has run in a lot of Marathons. She doesn’t run to get her best time; she aims to finish them whilst meeting lots of interesting people on the way. I started reading this to get some inspiration to pick up my running again in 2018. I don’t have any intention of taking part in a marathon but reading this book, Lisa certainly makes you feel you could. She also made me realise that although my running is probably at the same pace as somebody else’s walking pace, I am still a runner.

Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson

I love reading and one of the reasons I enjoy it is that I get something out of the books I am reading. I think these three books gave me inspiration and each one had parts I could recognise from my life. I am a big fan of fiction books but am trying to read a non-fiction once a month.

Speak soon.

53 Goodreads Challenge

In 2018, I joined Jordan and Kathryn on taking part in the Goodreads challenge for the year. They were aiming to read 52 books in the year whilst I chose 26 books. I soon changed to 52 as I was reading one a week. I actually managed over 60 books that year.

The Goodreads site is a good place to record the books that you want to read and have read. You can add your friends and see what they are reading, write and read reviews (I don’t tend to write reviews) and receive recommendations based on the types of books you like to read. I use it mainly for the challenge. As it was my 53rd birthday this year, I decided to make this year’s challenge 53 books to read.

I tend to read from my kindle but encouraged (or bullied) by my kids, I do sometimes read a “proper” book! On Wednesday, I visited the town of Reigate. We enjoyed a lovely walk through Priory Park. I discovered this box which is a part of the Little Free Library, a place where you can exchange your books. When I opened the box there were books which could be exchanged with a book you’ve read. A brilliant idea which I’m going to look in to more.

Box in Priory Park, Reigate

Little Free Library open box

Here is a list of books I have read so far. I have included my Goodreads ratings which are marked out of 5.  My ratings are very rarely below a 3 because if I really don’t like a book, I won’t waste my time by reading it. I will try to write reviews for the books I have read:

1 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, Stuart Kelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
3 Nice Work by Celia Imrie ⭐⭐⭐
4 Lizzie’s Secret by Rosie Clark ⭐⭐⭐⭐
5 The Island Villa by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
6 I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
7 Still Me by Jojo Moyes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8 Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
9 Maybe Now by Colleen Hoover ⭐⭐⭐⭐
10 The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh ⭐⭐⭐⭐
11 Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom by Lena Bentson⭐⭐⭐⭐
12 The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
13 I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
14 One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
15 The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
16 Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day by Fearne Cotton⭐⭐⭐⭐
17 You Then, Me Now by Nick Alexander⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
18 The Tattooist of Aushwitz by Heather Morris⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
19 Your Pace or Mine by Lisa Jackson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
20 The Little Perfume Shop of Champs Elyees⭐⭐⭐
21 The Promise by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐
22 Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
23 Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause ⭐⭐⭐⭐
24 The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon⭐⭐⭐⭐
25 Summer on the Italian Lake by Lucy Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
26 The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
27 How to Find Love in a Bookshop ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
28 The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M Lane ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
29 Jog On by Bella Mackie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
30 Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon⭐⭐⭐⭐
31 Half a World Away by Mike Gayle ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
32 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently reading:  High Tide by Veronica Henry

Speak soon!