All posts by Tina Terry

Going Underground, rolling on the river and on top of the world (well Greenwich!)

Challenge number 17 was to visit son in London and I can now tick this one of my list.

Almost 2 years ago, after graduating, Jordan decided to work in London.  As a mum, it was a scary thought.  Kathryn was in university in Cardiff and Jordan was also leaving home.  Even scarier was remembering how on a visit to the ATP World Tour finals at the O2 in 2013, Jordan had looked very scared when we faced a very crowded underground.  He has adapted well to London life and has found what he likes to do.  He does love returning to the peace of our home most weekends though and eating our food!

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I chose to go up on Sunday to complete this challenge and it was a perfect September sunny day.  Armed with Chris’s oyster card (he didn’t realise how much that was going to take a hit!), I caught the national express coach at 8.20am and aimed to be there at 11am.  A bit of miscommunication between myself and Jordan there – he was expecting me at 11.45.  He had been out the night before but I think he was aiming to have quiet time waiting for me in a cafe so I ruined that for him!

The coach journey up was great.  I caught up with some reading.  The coach pulled into Victoria on time and Jordan was waiting to take me on my adventure.

Normally my trips to London have also included a theatre trip which normally entails rushing to get some food before the performance and then rushing to get transport back home.  Whilst London has such a fast pace about it, I also like finding the slower pace around the rivers.   Whilst having many ideas for the trip, we decided that on this day out we would fly Emirates and try Emirates Air Line, the cable car experience over Greenwich.  To get there, Jordan had decided we would go by river so we headed towards Westminster.  There were a few shops trying to tempt me along the way – how can Clarks shoe shop make their shop display so much more enticing than home and House of Fraser taunted me with their discounts with Clarins – I had already ordered directly so didn’t look!  My credit card stayed firmly in my purse.  However the oyster card was used on the Thames Clipper which we boarded to take us to the O2.  On the way we could see lots of the famous London tourist attractions and Jordan was able to point out where he lived and where he worked.  We were able to catch up on his week.  Jordan had stayed in London this weekend and had visited an air museum the day before going out in the evening to what sounded like a fantastic eating experience with lots of friends.

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It was now lunchtime so before boarding the Emirates Air Line, we headed to the O2 to find something to eat.  Unusually the O2 was quiet and we had the pick of restaurants with lots of space.  Each one we said we will come back to this one but in the end opted for a burger in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen.  Jordan does love his burgers but normally goes to Byron’s so this was a different experience for him.  Burgers aren’t normally my first choice as I am not keen on all the relishes but I decided to go for the chicken with camembert and cranberry – very messy but so enjoyable.  The service was quick (they were very quiet – still took my plate away before we had finished everything though.  My pet hate at the moment!) and the food was good.  “Fed” up, we headed for the Air Line where the oyster card took another hit!

I am not known for adventure, and going up high is not appealing to me.  Jordan experienced my terror on the Needles chair lift.  Kathryn, who loves to try all fast and high attractions, was lucky enough to enjoy this experience with her Dad – Jordan was lumbered with me.  The first thing he said was, look mum, someone has dropped a shoe.  I was hysterical at this point!  This was different, it was enclosed so I thought I would be able to handle it.  I had also suggested it too!

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As we headed towards the Royal Docks in our cable car, we were able to see some of London’s heritage.  There is also commentary playing to give you some history of the landmarks.  As you go across, planes come in close to land at the City airport.  Jordan, a keen plane enthusiast, enjoyed that and it was amazing to see them land on what appeared to be a small strip of runway between the docks.

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When arriving at the Royal Docks, you almost have a seaside feel about you.  Wake Up Docklands is situated here where you can take part in cable wakeboarding and stand up paddleboarding amongst other things.  The Oiler Bar was very popular to have a drink in.  Unfortunately there were no tables for us.

We walked down towards Excel and found the Royal Victoria Pedestrian bridge which we were able to access by a lift.  We wandered along and enjoyed the views of London again and were able to watch planes take off from City Airport.

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We headed back on the cable cars and enjoyed more views of London on our back to the O2.  It had become very busy there so we headed for our next mode of transport, the underground.  Jordan is a lot more experienced with this now and quickly got us back through busy stations to one of my favourite places (and every other person in London too), Covent Garden.  Missed having our favourite treat, ice cream, with Kathryn last week, so was determined Jordan and I would have one.  We found the busiest parlour in Covent Garden, Morelli’s Gelatos.  Ice cream was a bit expensive but we still queued.  We decided to have a medium with two scoops of ice-cream as only 70p dearer than a small cone.  We were fascinated by the tap which seemed to produce chocolate!  I chose salted caramel and vanilla whilst Jordan chose chocolate chip and vanilla.  The salted caramel was delicious.  Not so keen on the vanilla – that will serve me right for being greedy!

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Chocolate tap – I need one
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As Covent Garden was so busy we found the Victoria Embankment gardens, one of my favourite places, and enjoyed the peace there.  We then walked back to Victoria for my return journey.

It was a lovely day, weather was beautiful and it was great being in the City where Jordan was working.  There is so much to see and do it London so I look forward to visiting again.

On the third month of the challenge

 I have

8 ticks ✓✓✓✓✓✓✓✓

for completed challenges and

6 ongoing/planning

I am 3 months through the challenge (that means I have only 9 months to go before I reach 51!) and I thought I would write a quick update on what I have achieved. My 50 things to do in my 50th year page has been updated – I have highlighted all that is done – in my favourite colour – purple and all that I have started or are ongoing are highlighted in orange.

Challenges Completed

Challenge No 1 –  Learn how to skip – harder than I remember!  I was allowed a tick when I managed 5 skips.  2 weeks after this I did 10 but by July I managed 19.  Skipping is very good for you so I will try to continue this.

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Challenge No 23 – Day trip with your daughter this summer – a lovely day out to the Isle of Wight.

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Challenge No 25 – Change your running route one day – a lovely run to the beach and beyond.  I love running to the beach now.  It does give a bit of purpose to the run.  I realised by doing this that my usual run of running “round the block” of the estate I live in is like my security blanket.  I knew that home wasn’t far away and that is why I stuck to it.  Since I completed, I have changed my run a few times to include some hills in too!

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Challenge No 27 – Buy yourself some flowers.  A very pretty challenge and one I have continued and even managed to bribe my son into buying me some by picking him up so he didn’t have to pay out for a taxi! Even got him to wash the car so not bad at all.
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Challenge No 37 – Buy a new lipstick – loved this challenge and even wearing it into work now.
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Challenge No 40 – On a perfect summer’s day, make a picnic and eat it down the beach with your daughter.  This was so enjoyable.  I loved making the food and even made jaffa cakes – which I hadn’t realised were the Great British Bake Off’s challenge.  That in turn has lead me to try some of the other challenges.  Will share later.

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Challenge No 46 – In Lanzarote, buy a “Lanzarote” frame and at home print and put picture of you, your son and your daughter in it – I can look at this and remember our lovely holiday.
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Challenge No 47 – Buy and use a nail varnish colour you wouldn’t normally – bright orange it was!

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Ongoing/Planning

Challenge No 5 – Read a book every month of a genre you don’t/don’t often read – I have read three different books so far.  Looking forward to choosing 9 different reads.

Challenge No 6 – Read your daughter’s 10 favourite books – in paperback.  Why don’t the young get down with it and get a kindle!! Nice to read my daughter’s favourite books though. One down, 9 more to read.

Challenge No 8 – Host a MacMillan Tea Party – always wanted to do this and it will be great to hold it for charity. Have signed up for the coffee morning – just got to arrange and bake.

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Challenge No 10 – Sign up and run the Great South Run.  Well, I am signed up but having a problem with the training especially when my alarm doesn’t go off!  It is in just under 7 weeks away so hopefully going to buy myself some new trainers and lose some weight.  I am not sure if I can run the 10 miles but the advert says you can walk if you want.  Hopefully I can do it.

Challenge No 29 – Start and complete a new sewing project – I am sew enjoying this!  I am hoping to have this finished long before my challenge comes to an end. I think that there are certain people who are doubtful I will – I will show them.

Stitching achieved in less than a month
Stitching achieved in less than a month

Challenge No 49 – Make blog – well this is something I am enjoying so much.  I am hoping that as time goes on, I will get better at my blog posts but I am having fun learning!

So at the end of 3 months, I think I am on target.  As the evenings get darker, I will hopefully start to do some of the language challenges and lots of the cooking challenges.

I am loving doing these challenges – not reading so much but finding so much to do that time just whizzes by. It is also helping me be a bit more organised.  I really don’t have time to work though!

Ticket to Ryde

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Who would have thought that arranging days out would have been so difficult. Well we finally got there. I have arranged a day off but we are going to do the Brighton challenge that day as it was difficult to reach Brighton by train this weekend.

We decided to take the catamaran to the Isle of Wight. It is just across the water from where we live (quite an expensive piece of water too!) and somewhere which holds many childhood memories for me. We have also taken the children for many days out and a holiday there too. When you are on the ferry, it really does feel like you are going abroad. I had only been on the catamaran with the children once before though and that was a day to Ryde with friends. I could remember clearly Kathryn as a toddler not liking the hot sand on her feet at all. She was a lot different on our holiday in Lanzarote!

Kathryn now enjoys standing on the sand
Kathryn now enjoys standing on the sand

I said that it is an expensive piece of water but thanks to Tesco Clubcard vouchers, it was a cheap journey. We were very ambitious on the time and decided to go for a 9.15 am ferry which meant getting up very early on a Sunday morning. It worked out well though and the catamaran was quiet. My memories of our previous trip on the Isle of Wight was that it had been quite crowded. Mind you we had buggies, changing bags, buckets, spades, fishing nets etc. It certainly is a lot easier with two grown ups!

We were in the Isle of Wight in just over 20 minutes. We decided we would take the train to Shanklin and visit Shanklin Chine. It looked as if it would be quite a pretty walk.

The trains that are used are old underground stock and are quite bumpy but got us to Shanklin quickly. We found a map and managed to successfully walk to the Chine. On the way we looked at all the places we could have a cream tea and found the most amazing place to have ice cream. We had brought chicken sandwiches but planned to have an early cream tea and an ice-cream. So healthy!!

Shanklin Chine is the Island’s oldest tourist attraction which was carved by Mother’s Nature’s own hands over thousands of years. First stop was the cafe for a cup of tea for me and a mango fruit juice for Kathryn. That girl is so healthy now she didn’t even touch my biscuit! We were now ready for exploring.

The scenery is beautiful and I loved the waterfall. Kathryn was impressed with PLUTO, the pipe line under the Ocean, which was created and used during the war. She was able to fill me in on the history. We were able to put Kathryn in the stocks (one of my favourite memories is of a picture taken of me in stocks at Blackgang Chine on a surprise trip with my Granddad) and even managed to work out how to use a telescope. The rescue birds are lovely to look at and we spent a bit of time enjoying them.

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Worried about rotten fruit and veg being thrown
Worried about rotten fruit and veg being thrown

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We ate our sandwiches on the pebbled beach and then hunted out a cream tea. We decided on the Waterfront Bar which looked beautiful. They also had live music, a singer called Ben Barnes. We did enjoy listening to him whilst eating our cream tea. We were a bit greedy and ordered three scones but only managed to eat one each (we had a doggy bag for the remaining scone). We were so full that we had to miss the ice-cream. Such a shame as it had looked amazing.

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We would like to think that we walked our scone off by walking along the coast to Sandown. Well we can dream! The walk was lovely and we did eventually find the railway station. We didn’t know the timetables for the trains but luck was on our side and we arrived just as the train turned up. Another bumpy journey took us back to Ryde where we had a drink before catching the catamaran back to the mainland.

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It wasn’t the hottest day that we have had this summer but it was warm. I had a lovely day spent with my daughter and hopefully, one we can repeat, to explore some more of the Island.

Dream A Little Dream

Since I accepted my 50 challenges, my reading has been a lot slower than normal. That said, I am enjoying taking on the challenges and finding so much I enjoy. I will update in a few days on how I am doing.

Normally I read a book a week but in August I only read two books. The first book I read was for this challenge:

Read your daughter’s 10 favourite books …. in paperback!

As I always read on my kindle, this was like going back to basics. There are some good points as well as bad points though:

Good points
1. The cover – I have an older kindle so I don’t get to see the cover. I haven’t got used to reading from my phone yet but when I do go in to the kindle app, I can see the book covers. I know you shouldn’t judge the book by the cover but a pretty book cover is great.
2. Chapter layout – I did find it easier to see when the chapter was going to end.
3. Page numbers – I do like to know how many pages I have got to read. Sometimes the books on kindle have the page numbers but when they don’t, it is done in percentages. I happen to like percentages though so not too negative for the kindle.
4. Bookmark (this is a double entry though as it will appear in the bad list too) – See the pretty bookmark I received from Kathryn. Makes reading the book worthwhile.

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5. Sharing books – You can easily pass on a book to a friend to read. There is a facility to share on kindle but not so easy.

Bad points
1. The size – Proper books are not so good for carrying in your bag. My kindle fits in most of my bags and is light. I am also carrying hundreds of books too.
2. Ease of reading – Reading in bed in the morning whilst trying to drink a cup of tea is very hard with a paperback!
3. Storage – Takes up more space to store your books once read unless you do share or give away your books when you have finished
4. Bookmark – Kathryn would not allow me to turn over the corner of a page in a book so a bookmark was needed or you lose the last page you read. The kindle, (if working correctly!) once turned on opens at the last page read.
5. Waiting for the book – I know that this can be a positive thing too but as long as I have internet connection, I can download a book in a few seconds which is so much quicker than buying a physical book. Okay, so not so good for the bank balance!!

I am enjoying the novelty of reading a “proper” book though and looking forward to reading Kathryn’s 10 favourite books.

As previously mentioned, I choose Giovanna Fletcher’s Dream A Little Dream for my first read of August. Giovanna is the wife of Tom Fletcher – member of McFly, mother of two and a talented writer. I have enjoyed previous books by the author. My favourite book is Billy and Me.

Dream A Little Dream is about Sarah who is single (having to endure a closer than normal relationship with her ex to keep her friends happy) and in a job that she is not entirely fulfilling but she is kind of happy! Sarah starts having dreams about a mutual acquaintance from her student days. What does she do when dreams turn into reality?

Although I can’t say this was my favourite book by the author, I did enjoy reading it. I loved the concept of the dreams because I do believe that are dreams have a message. There is a toilet incident in one of the dreams which I know I have a similar dream to.  I don’t know what that message is though- must be an insecurity!

I did like the way certain topics were dealt with and how the sensitivity around the subjects were handled. The book was able to make me laugh and cry in all the right places. Wasn’t so keen on the bad language as I did find it a bit unnecessary but I did also think that even that was explained too by Sarah herself. The reference to Mark Owen from Take That in the book was brilliant – something most of us felt!

The ending of the book was just as I wanted and I will probably borrow Kathryn’s Dream a Little Christmas Dream in December to catch up with Sarah.

My second read was also one of my challenges – to read a different genre I wouldn’t normally read. Jordan was choosing a book for me this month and I did think that I would get a book about the war to read or his childhood favourite, Biggles. He actually chose one that he was reading – The Sand Men by Christopher Fowler – a thriller writer.

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I bought the book for the kindle then read the description.

Lea, Roy and their daughter had moved to a gated community reserved for foreign workers in Dubai where Roy has been hired to deal with teething problems at Dream World, a futuristic beach complex.

The description seemed to be something I would enjoy and I was looking forward to reading about Dubai. I did get into the book quickly and whilst it appears that everyone is happy, it does seem that there is something that is being hidden.

I did find that for the last half of the book, it jumped a lot. I was convinced that my kindle hadn’t downloaded the book properly but Jordan confirmed that his paperback was the same. I didn’t actually enjoy the ending as I had found it unbelievable and perhaps rushed. Jordan finished the book whilst I was reading it and did think the same as me. Perhaps thrillers aren’t my thing.

I will choose my own book this month. I always download the classics but never read them so I will choose one of them.

It’s got to be perfect

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With the summer days getting shorter and Kathryn’s very long student’s holiday coming to the end, we were running out of time to get this challenge completed. We originally set aside last Sunday but weather forecasts did not look good. We rescheduled for this weekend and decided on the Friday. At least if the day hadn’t been good, we had three more days to choose as it was a long bank holiday weekend.

I kept an eye on the forecast and was very hopeful. The weather has certainly been beautiful all week on the south coast and the weather forecast was showing a big yellow blob for Friday. I now had to think about the food I was going to take. Kathryn is now a very health conscious eater so I wanted to incorporate some of this in too. I did have a desire to make some sausage rolls though which I know weren’t that healthy but would be an achievement for me to make. Updating my shopping order on Thursday evening meant I had to abandon that idea as there wasn’t any sausage meat but went for healthy mustard and honey sausages instead, one of our favourites. In the end, I went with quite a 70’s theme and put everything onto cocktail sticks. Friday morning was spent in the kitchen cooking sausages and balsamic chicken strips (Rosemary Conley recipe so healthy). I also put together my childhood favourite, cheese and pineapple. Does that count as being healthy because it has fruit and I used low fat cheese – I can hope!

Whilst putting in my shopping order, I found a recipe for Jaffa Cakes by Mary Berry from the latest Great British Bake Off episode (must catch up with that). I thought they looked quite fun to do so thought they would be perfect for our picnic. I have to say that the recipe lied – it said the only tricky part was getting the chocolate to look perfect – I had trouble getting the jelly to dissolve. As a child, my mum often made us jelly and she didn’t have this problem. Anyway 10 minutes later, I finally put it in the tin for it to set and made the base of the cakes. They were quick and easy to make and putting them together was quite fun and a bit messy but the result was good. I had made jaffa cakes!

Base of cake
Base of cake
With orange jelly on top
With orange jelly on top
The messy bit
The messy bit

I packed up the picnic and walked to the beach to meet Kathryn for our picnic. She added some beautiful ham and juicy sweet strawberries to the haul.

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It was the perfect weather and we found the perfect spot looking over to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the food.

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A very good challenge to tick off.

I Will Survive (If someone leaves the cake in the rain!)

Along with keeping fit, I do like to try to eat healthily too but I do love baking so it is hard to combine the two. I have decided that I will bake once a week as it makes me happy but try to be strict with myself. I will try to find some healthy bakes along the way too.

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I was overjoyed when I got home from work last Friday to find this package waiting for me.

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Kathryn’s boyfriend, Aaron has subscribed to this for me for my birthday and as I had already received three boxes, I had thought the subscription was finished.

I opened up the box and liked what I saw – a recipe and ingredients for white chocolate & cranberry squares. I checked the ingredients that I needed to add – butter, eggs and milk; all items that were coming in my food shop on Saturday so I knew I could make them on Sunday.

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Each card does contain the skill level, preparation time and baking time on. The skill level was two chef’s hat so I was confident this would be easy. I decided that I wouldn’t use my kitchen gadgets but use the good old fashioned kitchen bowl and a wooden spoon. I did actually have it prepared in the 10 minutes that it said and I soon had it baking in the oven. The mixture actually contained melted white chocolate and cranberries. The smell was incredible.

Mixing with a wooden spoon
Mixing with a wooden spoon

Whilst I didn’t use my kitchen gadgets, I did use this nifty container from my food processor to measure the small amount of milk I needed. My normal jug was just too big.

Very useful for small measurements
Very useful for small measurements

I took it out of the oven and whilst it was cooling I made the butter icing and bashed the pistachios with a rolling pin to go over the top (okay it said roughly chop but this worked well) . Once again I was adding melted white chocolate to the butter cream and I have to say I was a little concerned. I thought that all the white chocolate would make it too sweet. With this in mind, I cut the cake into 16 pieces.

Delicious!!
Delicious!!

I could not wait to try it so was very keen to have a cup of tea after my dinner so I could try a piece. I should not have worried about the sweetness at all. It was delicious. I am not ashamed to say I was not strict with myself and enjoyed every piece I ate.

I am enjoying baking with these kits as the ingredients are ready for you to bake with so I plan to keep up the subscription for another year.

I Will Walk Ten Thousand Steps

One of my favourite presents for my birthday (apart from the Pandora ring, bright pink skechers, the Bakedinbaking club subscription, etc) is my fitbit.  I have set up my daily step goal, try to keep active during the hours of 9am and 6pm, set exercise goals for the week and keep track on my sleep.  There is also a facility to keep a count of weight, food I am eating and water I am drinking.  I haven’t used that yet but hopefully will.

Still one of my favourite things
Still one of my favourite things

At the moment I have set up the following per day:

  1. Steps 10,000
  2. Active Minutes 30
  3. Hourly Activity goal – 250 steps each hour between 9am – 6pm
  4. Active Minutes – 30 minutes
  5. Weekly exercise goals – 15 min plus on 5 days
  6. Time Asleep goal – 7 hrs 30 mins – suggested bedtime 10.15pm wake up time 6.00

Even though I am particularly active, I do have a job which involves sitting down so I do have to make sure that I put in extra walks.  I find it very hard to achieve my goals of 250 steps each hour on the days I work as well.

Another “fun” activity with the Fitbit is the challenges which you can do with your friends.  Every week I take part in the workweek hustle and weekend warrior with my Son, Jordan.  I don’t stand a chance with the workweek hustle as Jordan works in London and he uses public transport.  I work in a village which I can only get to by driving.  Weekends can be better as I do try to include a longer run at the weekends.  One of the weekend wins I had does make me laugh.  Jordan had got back to London and was feeling quite smug as he thought he had won.  He didn’t realise I hadn’t updated my steps.  I did have to get up out of bed and walk downstairs for good measure.  He was so upset the next day when he realised and goes out to beat me now! I did only win by 145 steps so it was a good job I made the extra effort!

A few weeks ago I had a very busy week at work and I didn’t achieve my steps two days. I only went to zumba one day and didn’t go running at all.  By the weekend I was so tired.  I decided that it would be a good idea to have a week of making sure I met my 10,000 steps and to see what activities I need to do to accomplish it.

Day
Running
Walking
Zumba
Work
House/other
Total
Saturday
3 walks – 3,000
5,900 House
1,338 other
10,238
Sunday
12,800
2,350
4,731 House
19,881
Monday
3 walks – 12,350
4,000
5,264 
21,614
Tuesday
2 walks – 
7,400
1,400
2,097 
10,897
Wednesday
2,300
4,400
1,500
3,413
11,613
Thursday
2 walks – 5,000
1,500
1,000 house 
2,731
10,231
Friday
2 walks-6,700
1,900
 1878
10,478
Normally I work Monday to Thursday but this week I swapped to Tuesday to Friday.   The table shows that my count for work is low.  I try to do some exercise in the mornings before going to work but this week I opted to stay in bed.  It did mean that I had to push myself after work to get in the extra steps.  Not too much of a problem on zumba day but Thursday I found that I was 1,000 under and it became dark at 9pm so I thought I would have a little game with myself and see how long it would take to get to 1,000 steps.  I cleared the dinner table (late dinner that night) and took the plates one by one to the kitchen, emptied bins (one by one again), went up and down the stairs around 5 times and swept the bathroom and kitchen.  All in all it took me 40 minutes.  Next day I thought I would walk for the same amount of time.  I did 5,000 steps in that time.

 

A lunch time walk along the beach
A lunch time walk along the beach

Although last week, I didn’t do any DVDs, I had previously found that the Gillian Michaels DVD I do only uses 900 steps for a 20 minute routine.  Walking 10 minutes uses 1,000 steps.  Whilst I could think I would rather walk, the DVD is quite a punishing routine and one that I know if I do regularly, my body shape will improve (well only if I stop baking!).  I do think that I will continue to do everything I can to do the 10,000 steps but I also recognise that it is important to do the exercises that aren’t going to have too much of an impact because they are just as important.

The other lesson is to make sure I get up early to do some of those steps in so that I am not trying to gain the 10,000 in the last hour of the day so I can sit down and make progress on my cross stitch challenge!
Day 2 of my stitching
Day 2 of my stitching

I’m Sew Excited

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Well this is quite a challenge. Why? It is because I am well known for starting a cross stitch project and not finishing it.

I started cross stitch in my 20s when Chris bought me a small kit for a stocking filler. He had to show me what to do as it did look double dutch to me but I soon got the hang of it. I was soon investing in bigger projects and every cross stitch magazine going. I joined round robins and found quite a community of people taking part. If this wasn’t enough, Chris set us up with a cross stitch website selling cross stitch kits from home. That was quite fun for a while too. When I went back to working again we closed the website down. I was now 40 and all of sudden I needed glasses for close work. I was also addicted to the internet so cross stitch was hard to fit in. I have tried to get a project in every now and then but never managed to finish so I am determined that I will complete this.

Now just choosing a project has been so difficult. I have spent 3 evenings over the last two months going through Sew and So’s site and have had so many different sorts in my shopping cart. Should I stitch for someone else? I did have threads so was I being a coward looking at a cross stitch kit.  How about Christmas stitching which is my favourite; look a completed design and one that comes out many years (word is children will not share this with any children they may have!).

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Thinking of Christmas, I started looking at Heritage, DMC and anchor designs. How about Country Companion or Tatty Ted? I have a few uncompleted Country Companions and I don’t know why as they are fantastic but have actually finished this lovely Tatty Ted.

Beautiful Tatty
Beautiful Tatty

Determined I was going to make my purchase on Friday before 1pm so I could have it delivered Saturday, I found my latest Sew and So brochure with a code for free needles, and a Bothy Threads kit from their Sew Dinky range caught my eye. I had stitched a Lowry kit from their range many years ago so thought I would have a look.

A very early stitching
A very early stitching

I found a Christmas kit in the range so put it in my trolley. Still not satisfied I searched for another hour. Time was ticking by but I was still determined I was going to make the purchase by 1pm. Finally after reading reviews and falling in love with Gorjuss range in the Bothy Threads collection, I thought I would actually stitch something for myself. Another big choice as there were so many designs but I wanted to fit it in with something I liked too. In the end I chose Sweet Tea cross stitch kit. Order in and delivered Saturday.

Gorguss
Gorjuss

Cross stitch is like choosing a book and the excitement of opening the package, sorting the threads (some dedicated stitchers will say sorting through the threads for the different colours is fun but not me) and starting it is exactly the same as starting a new book for me. I am pleased to say that the kit came with the material, needles, two thread cards with all numbered threads attached (hooray for me), large charts (I can see them), one for the cross stitch and one for the back stitching plus some beading and one french knot and also a sheet explaining where to start and the strands needed for the cross stitch and back stitch. They have given lots of advice so any beginner could stitch this kit. After reading it, I hope I don’t have too many problems. I have even joined Bothy Thread’s facebook group so I can hopefully get tips and encouragement.

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I plan to put the first stitch in tonight whilst watching Andy Murray win a gold medal! Will keep you posted with updates of how the project is coming along.

Flash, Bang, Wallop – what a picture

I have mentioned before that I love my iPod and on it is stored lots of different music.  Included is music from West End Shows which I love.  As a child, I was lucky to go to some great shows at the local Kings Theatre in Southsea as our teacher was the Conductor with the Portsmouth Players.  I first went to a West End show on 18th October 1991 to see what will probably be my favourite show, Miss Saigon.  I remember seeing it being performed on the Terry Wogan show in 1989 and knew that I had to see it. It was a Friday night and going to see the show in Drury Lane was just magical.  It was an experience that will stay with me forever.

25 years after this and I have seen many musicals.  I say Miss Saigon is my favourite but each time I go to see a show, I love them all for different reasons.  The theatre experience is not the cheapest of night’s out but such an enjoyable one for me.  Even before I hit 50, my daughter insisted my birthday should start early and treated me to see Guys and Dolls.  We both went in not knowing what the musical was about and were treated to a brilliant show with some wonderful talent.  Hearing Richard Fleeshman sing just brought tears to our eyes – what a voice.  This is certainly one of the reasons why I love going to the theatre, and whether it is professionals or amateurs, I can’t help get goosebumps when I hear amazing voices.

I am lucky to live close to many theatres so do have quite a good choice of shows.  One of the theatres is Chichester Festival Theatre in one of our favourite cities which we love to shop in.  The theatre does have a lot of new musicals appearing in the Summer season and I have always said “I wish I had seen that show”.  When I saw that Half A Sixpence was going to be there for the summer season, I was determined to go.  I remembered watching the film many times as a child and loving Tommy Steele’s big grin in it.  Tickets purchased, we made our way to Chichester and I thought it would be a good idea to achieve challenge 37 – buy a new lipstick.

I decided that I would treat myself to a special one and as I haven’t got a clue when it comes to make up, I headed to the Clarin’s counter at House of Fraser and ask for assistance.  A lovely lady called Alicia tried three lipsticks on me.  She got the sale before even trying them on as she told me my lips were beautiful!  I liked all three but decided to go for the in between one called Rosewood.  Not too bold but would be fine for day time to night time.  It was a bit of an expensive purchase for someone who doesn’t spend on make up but it was worth it.

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New make up to put into a birthday present
New make up to put into a birthday present

After a downpour of rain which meant we stayed in House of Fraser for lunch, we made our way to the theatre in sunshine.  The grounds of the theatre are lovely and I did refuse a glass of champagne from the Nyetimber bus.  Reason being I would have probably fallen asleep whilst watching the show.

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Well there wasn’t any chance of me doing that.  I do get so engrossed in musicals.  I did love the singing and the familiar songs but I couldn’t keep my eyes of the lead, Charlie Stemp.  His dancing was fantastic.  I did love the Money to Burn song with the banjo music. The finale was the familiar Flash, Bang, Wallop which is such a joyful end to the show.  I certainly came away loving the show.

Well Flash, Bang Wallop brings me on to another completed challenge.  I had to buy a Lanzarote frame when in Lanzarote.  That was the easy part.

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I then had to print a picture of myself with my son and daughter taken whilst we were in Lanzarote.  Whilst we took lots of pictures, the only photos we had together were when we took the day trip on my 50th to Fuerteventura. Hopefully I will be allowed this one.

Flash, Bang, Wallop
Flash, Bang, Wallop

Now printing it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  It needed cropping and after a few failed attempts, Chris took pity on me and almost fitting some of the lyrics in Flash, Bang, Wallop, it was “stuck in the fam’ly album” – well frame!

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So there are two more challenges completed.  Must get on with a few more now.

Read All About It

Since my post of Amazing, I have now finished reading Summer of 76 and read a further 2 books. Not read as much this month due to a busy work load. Hopefully I will make up for that in August.

Summer of 76 carried on to be a slow pace read but enjoyable too. It never visited Brighton where Luke was going to be going to Brighton Polytechnic. I particularly love the fact they were polytechnics then and do remember them being that. Now of course, they are universities.  As I was only 10, I think I was disappointed when the rain fell after the heatwave of 1976 which is still talked about now. I wonder if I would feel like that now if I had to work in that heat. There was a slight twist in the plot which I had worked out in the middle of the book.

Once finished, I was able to start on After You by Jojo Moyes, the follow up to Me Before You.

Daughter's copy - she read at the same time as me
Daughter’s copy – she read at the same time as me

I was looking forward to catching up with Lou and was so hoping she wasn’t going to let me down. It had been 18 months since we left Lou and we are brought up with what happened in that time in the first few chapters. Considering the subject, I was still surprised with how Lou had been treated by family and friends and that is probably because my opinion is quite open on the subject raised in Me Before You.

The Lou I had loved so much had changed but I was very optimistic she was still there. When a young girl seeks questions from Lou, the question Lou needs to find out is she really who she claims she is. Can she answer all the stranger’s questions and can she start living again.

Reading it brought many tears but also laughter too. This time I found that I was reading the book in the voice of all the characters Me Before You film!

My next book was to continue with challenge number 5 – read a book each month of a different genre that you don’t often read. I had downloaded a few books ready for this but then there was a book on Amazon’s daily deal that caught my eye. It was on a subject I had heard about in the news but I must confess that I was very ignorant about – Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The book is written by Hibo Wardere and tells her story about the procedure forced on her when she was 6 years old whilst she lived in Somalia. Hibo was left bitter towards her mother and didn’t learn the truth about it until a civil war in her country forced her to become a refugee in our Country.

Despite the horrific procedure, Hibo has gone on to have 7 children. She had told her husband that she would not allow her daughters to have this procedure and although they both faced opposition from their families, they made sure their children were kept safe from this.

Hibo was finally able to open up to what she had gone through after being asked to attend a meeting, at the school where she had started working, between parents of one of the students, whereby the headteacher suspected the student was going to be taken out of school and flown to their homeland to be cut. Hibo decided to share her story as part of an assignment for her job and also with her three eldest children. This actually lead to Hibo becoming a FGM campaigner to help prevent girls being taken out of this country for this treatment and also to make people aware of this being a British problem.

I would never have chosen to read this book if I had not been given this challenge and would have remained very ignorant about this barbaric procedure. I can not understand why anybody would put their daughters through this.

I also greatly admire Hibo and also the wonderful people that she talked about who are trying to prevent young girls having to go through this. This book is a must read.

I decided that I needed some lighter reading so thought I would start to  tackle challenge 6 – read 10 of your daughter’s favourite books in paperback.

This is quite frightening as first of all I have to try to keep the book in the same condition as my daughter keeps them – pristine. This means they won’t come out with me in my bag! Also, how do you drink a cup of tea whilst trying to turn the pages of a book. I have the kindle down to a fine art with that. Before the kindle, I read proper books so I’m sure I can do it again.

I have chosen to read a book by Giovanni Fletcher – Dream a Little Dream. I will update how I get on with this task later.

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For the month of August, it is the turn of my son to choose a book for me. I am hoping he doesn’t get me to read his current read.

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War and Peace – Jordan’s light reading

As you can see from the picture, he has trouble travelling on the tube and keeping it pristine. I can’t understand why my children don’t get a kindle!