Another parkrun…

I went to parkrun again this morning, and shaved two minutes off last week’s time, largely thanks to the pacers that Newcastle parkrun has every second Saturday of the month.  Not bad following a winter slump.

Geth made a huge improvement this week too, following a couple of midweek training sessions.  We spent the rest of the day being deservedly lazy in the house!

2018 Ciders #3: Addlestones

This is another one I had on the 2nd, when I went for pre-birthday drinks with friends in Edinburgh, but as I’m doing Dry January (save the first three days!) I’m spreading these out throughout the month.

Addlestones Cloudy Cider
Addlestones Cloudy Cider.

I usually find Addlestones a bit dry for my taste, but on this particular evening it was quite welcome (especially as I was on the Diet Cokes otherwise, which I’m not madly keen on either).  Typically, though, I only drink it when it’s the only thing a pub has on draught, which is surprisingly often.

Slimming World

I went to my Slimming World group today, as I have every week since the beginning of last February, when I first joined.  It’s sort of become second nature, but at the same time a big part of my life.

Pre-SW I had been trying unsuccessfully for eight years to lose weight.  The thing I’ve found has been most helpful with SW is the weekly group weigh-in – I find I’m so much more motivated to stay on track when I feel like I’m accountable to other people, and having this weekly appointment has really helped me during difficult periods of my weight loss, at times when, during previous efforts, I would take my eye off the ball and end up regaining everything.

Over Christmas/New Year/my birthday, for instance, I put on five pounds over three weeks.  When I went to weigh-in today after a week during which I tried really hard to stick to plan (Dry January is really helping with this), I’d lost four and a half pounds of that weight and am nearly back where I was before Christmas.  Just having a support system to keep track of this kind of thing works so much better for me than trying to do everything myself.

Also, it’s great for magpies like me, ’cause you get shiny stickers with every achievement:

Slimming World members' book
My Slimming World book. You stop reading it once you’ve memorised the Syns in all your favourite foods, and from then on use it solely for sticking shiny things on.

Lost another half stone?  STICKER.  Done enough exercise for a certain number of weeks?  STICKER.  Lost more weight this week than anyone else in the group?  SHINY, SHINY STICKER (not to mention a basket of Slimming World-friendly food).  My SW consultant calls it “bling for your book”, and I love bling.

I’ve lost three and a half stone with Slimming World so far – aiming for four and a half stone in total.  Hopefully, with all the indulgences of autumn and early winter out of the way, that last stone before target shouldn’t take too much longer!

Vintage TV

I’ve always been obsessed with music TV channels, ever since my family first got cable in the mid-’90s and my school friends and I all discovered the wonders of “The Box” channel, where, because it was advertised as “music television you control”, you could waste your parents’ phone bill on requests for videos that were inevitably ignored by whoever was controlling the channel.  I believe the channel still exists, but I don’t know if you can still request videos by dialling up on your landline.  It’s probably all done through social media nowadays.  I bet the requests still get ignored though.

I watched a lot of different music channels as a student and later a semi-employed graduate, because when we lived in Scotland, Geth and I were still able to get Virgin TV with all its delicious, delicious choice.  Since we moved down to England, however, we’ve never been able to get Virgin TV in our area, so for years the only music channels available to me were 4Music and Viva, the former of which I tend to avoid due to too much reality content and the latter of which I only really watch for the chart once a week.  (Except at Christmas, when I traditionally watch music TV all day long.  I’m easily pleased at that time of year.)

About three years ago, however, either Freeview or our BT package decided to grant us access to Vintage TV, first as a streaming channel and then as a normal channel where you could actually set recordings and everything.  I can’t tell you how much I love this channel.  I have it on in the background whenever I’m not watching anything else, and I actually record the ’80s playlists (it typically shows stuff from the ’60s to the ’90s) so that I can watch them later with the adverts fast forwarded.  Geth wants to look into switching from BT to plain Freeview when we move into the new place, so I’ve made sure he knows Vintage TV is non-negotiable (my mother-in-law doesn’t have it on her Freeview package, but I think it depends on location).

For a throwback like me, it’s pretty much the perfect music channel.  They even have interview shows and live performances with all their most featured 20th century artists so you can see how well they’ve aged find out what they’re up to nowadays.  Just a shame it doesn’t have Top 100/50/20 etc. countdowns like the more modern-focused music channels do, but you can’t have everything!

Milestone boots

The first of my online orders from my yearly Christmas/birthday money splurge arrived today: knee high slouch boots from ASOS.  They’re a lot shinier than they look on the website, but if you know me, you know that’s no bad thing.

Glittery knee high boots
I may not take these off for a while.

When I told Geth the other day what I’d bought with my Christmas and birthday money (knee high boots! new handbag! nice bracelet! new dressing gown!) he seemed a bit surprised.  ‘You buy such grown-up things now.  Where are the games?’

I still love games, but I feel like I’ve got enough at the moment (not to mention no time to play them).  Not only that, but I don’t really feel like my new fripperies are the least bit grown-up – shiny, sparkly boots are the kind of thing I used to buy back in my teenage years.  However, I’ve not bought knee high boots since probably…2007, and there’s a good reason for that.  I have ridiculously giant calves, so when I’m even the slightest bit overweight (which I was from 2009 until I started losing the weight with Slimming World last year), knee high boots are an impossibility.

As such, with just over a stone to go till target, these boots are an exciting weight loss milestone.  They’re slouchy, so it is kind of cheating – especially as my still-giant-despite-now-being-a-healthy-BMI calves do a very good job of filling the supposed-to-be-slouchy bits – but I’m taking it as a win anyway.  Hopefully, when I reach my goal weight, they’ll fit a bit more like they’re supposed to.  In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy sparkling through the dull second half of winter!

And back to dancing

It wasn’t just running that took a back seat over the last couple of months – it was cardio exercise full stop.  This was mainly due to a ridiculous period at work around October to November when I was pulling 12-hour days every day for six solid weeks.  The joys of self-employment.

Exercise is always the thing that gets neglected by me in these situations, because all I want to do in the two hours I have left in the day after sleeping, eating and working is stare mindlessly at the internet.  The other thing is that the work was interfering with my scheduled exercise – I could no longer go to my Tuesday night Zumba class – so once the ridiculous work period was over, I’d got out of the habit of Zumba and was making alternative commitments for Tuesday nights.

I’ve missed dancing though, so tonight I headed off to another class that my Zumba instructor runs, a ‘Strictly Dance’ class, which is a solo dance exercise class based on ballroom and Latin steps.  I love Strictly so I really enjoyed it, probably even more than Zumba.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the routines over the course of the next few weeks.  Also, it’s earlier in the evening, so a nice bonus is that I can eat after the class rather than before and don’t have to stress about whether Geth will get home from work for tea early enough for me to avoid exercising immediately after eating.  Win-win.

Bloch dance trainers
My awesome dance trainers, which I totally bought for the functionality and not the pretty colours.

I’m definitely feeling better all round for getting my cardio back on, though my calves do hate me at the moment.

So much plastic

I went through my bracelet box this evening.  I have several hundred bracelets that I never wear, largely due to a teenage addiction to Claire’s Accessories.  SO MANY JELLY BRACELETS.  I used to wear them with neon fishnet armwarmers and matching plastic beads, all of which I also still have.  My taste in jewellery has always screamed ‘1980s’, though these days it’s a little less early Madonna and a little more OTT power bling.  Maturity and all.

Bracelets, mostly jelly and plastic bangles.
Plastic, plastic everywhere.

Anyway, I’ve organised them into vague colour groupings in the hope that they might actually get worn more often.  We’ll see.

Back to running

Geth and I dragged ourselves out of bed this morning to go to parkrun for the first time in seven weeks.  Neither of us had run at all during the intervening period; taking this into consideration, I was pretty happy with my time, which was only four minutes slower than my PB.  A few weeks back in training (not to mention non-Christmas eating) and hopefully I’ll be back where I was in the autumn and ready for the 10k races I’ve got lined up for the spring and summer!

My forthcoming ’80s house!

My husband Geth and I are in the process of buying our first house at the moment, which, as with every move, is both exciting and stressful at the same time.  We’re pretty close to completion now, and had a meeting with our solicitor in Whitley Bay today to sign stuff and finalise things.

Whitley Bay red phone box
Gratuitous phone box picture of the phone box near Whitley Bay metro station, probably my favourite phone box in the North East.

I was excited to find out today that the house we’re buying was built in 1988.  I love the ’80s but have never lived in an ’80s build before!  I’m really looking forward to moving in next month, getting settled, and starting to plan all my home improvement projects.

2018 Ciders #2: Magners Original

On Tuesday, I went out with the family to our favourite Italian restaurant in Edinburgh, the Bar Italia, where my mum and dad have been going since the ’70s.  The pizza there is great, but like most Italian restaurants, they don’t offer a huge deal of choice on the cider front, so a Magners it was.

Magners Original
Magners Original.

Magners is pretty ubiquitous so there’s not much to say about this one, other than the fact I expect I’ll be drinking it at lots of restaurants during 2018!