Category: Be Active

A walk in Warley Woods – The People’s Park.

All this week (December 11the to 17th 2017) my local park, Warley Woods, has been offering free guided walks as part of the National Lottery #ThanksToYou initiative. Warley Woods and Golf Course is run by a Community Trust and has benefitted from Heritage Lottery funding.

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To continue to be able to finance he upkeep, The Trust raises funds from membership donations, green fees from the golfers and also by organising a number of excellent events all year round, including Picnic in the Park, All About Dogs and Open Air Theatre.

The weather has unfortunately caused much disruption to the planned walks. The West Midlands had heavy snow, -10 degrees overnight, rain, more snow and so the paths are still icy. Some walks were understandably cancelled because of this. Today, as the sun was shining, we had a beautiful red sunrise (yes, that warning about red sky in the morning needs to be heeded) so I decided to drag my husband away from the warmth of the log burner for a walk in the woods.

And so it was we were the only two who turned up for the walk, led by Trustee and volunteer Chris Ashford and his daughters, who also volunteer for Warley Woods.

Simon Lea, a local photographer captured the sunrise over my other local park (lucky me, two parks) this morning. Head here to see this photo, and if you like it, pop to The Pavilion shop and buy his calendar capturing Warley Woods at its best throughout the year.  These are what we took today (won’t be on any calendar any day soon).

The sun, long gone and replaced with icy rain, we wrapped up warm. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as the wrong sort of weather, just the wrong sort of clothes. I was wearing the wrong sort of shoes though, which was really rather silly of me. They are rather muddy now.

Chris gave us a potted history of the woods, pointing out things like the new benches that are beginning to replace the older wooden ones, due to age, wear and tear and vandalism. While the original benches were lottery funded, the new ones are paid for via the fundraising of the trust.

Warley Woods Benches

There is also a sculpture trail, an outdoor gym, all blending in the landscape, originally designed by Humphry Repton.

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As a regular visitor to Warley Woods, I was surprised to find a new place to visit, The Wilderness. Today it was too icy and muddy to fully explore but I look forward to seeing it again when the ice has gone and I am wearing boots. It has a wetland boardwalk and home to plant species not found anywhere else in the West Midlands. Which is really rather amazing considering that in 2004 it was a location of an illegal dump.

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I have been visiting Warley Woods since I was a child. This week it was full of families sledging, building snowmen and woman and snow dogs, as well as some skiers. Today, despite the wind and rain, there were many walkers, dogs being exercised and even joggers braving the weather.

What makes this place special is that there is something for every one. An excellent golf course, a newly refurbished playground, wonderful wildlife, a running club and both gentle and challenging walks.

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It has had a chequered history, once home to the Galton family, has been managed/mismanaged by local authorities which led to the loss of The Abbey and The Ice House. Since being taken over by The Trust it truly is now a People’s Park. This was the intention of Alexander Macombe Chance owner of Chance’s glassworks. His investment saved it from being developed for housing in the early 1900’s.

If you are local to Bearwood, and have never visited, why not? But put on your sensible shoes first. Take a camera. Then pop to the cafe for a cuppa and some cake. And put a donation in the box, so we can keep this park for the future generations.



Trade School, slow living, Japanese Pizza and serendipity

I was invited to Trade School

Trade School Dudley is hosted by CoLab at Gather Cafe in Dudley. To learn about Slow Living.

Now I realise that for many readers none of the above will make any sense. Indulge me for a while and all will be clear.

To attend is free as in there is no monetary charge. Instead I was asked to bring a present for the teacher. AKA a small barter item. This is the list of items we could choose to bring.

A cotton hanky
A napkin
A packet of lentils (any kind)
A tasty vegetarian recipe without cheese
An A5 notebook
An offer to teach a Trade School class yourself
Vegetable seeds

I took a recipe for Okonomiyaki or Japanese pizza. The recipe, and the reasons why I chose it are at the end of this post. Trust me, it all comes together in the end.

On the road to Gather and Slow Living

Yes, I know, for all the people still working for the man, who thinks/has been brainwashed to believe everything has a price, this is possibly getting a tad uncomfortable. Good. I like uncomfortable. Makes you think. Makes you question. We have forgotten how to do that.

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And so it was that I got up and out earlier that usual and on the bus to Dudley. I sat and stared despite the bus having wifi (slow living tick) and once at Gather cafe, found a comfy sofa and got me some coffee. Gather is a CIC or Community Interest Company. It hosts all kinds of things including a repair cafe and #GatherSunday and has a pay it forward board aka Suspended Coffees. This enables them to ensure the homeless and others in times of need get a hot drink. My kind of place.

But back to Slow Living.

Lorna, who was leading the group, got us all to introduce ourselves by telling each other what our favourite cake is (one someone else bakes) and one thing we are grateful for. More of that later. It turns out to be a day of serendipity for me.

cake - Trade School, slow living, Japanese Pizza and serendipity

Lorna had found a book (it found her) called Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary – and wanted to share some of the things she had benefitted from by reading it.

More about Brooke can be found here at Slow your Home.

Of course, us sharing what we were grateful for that day, was all part of the journey to Destination Simple.

The link above takes you to the PDF version of the book, so you can read more there. I guess what I want to reflect on here is what I got from the Trade School class.

The importance of being busy

Is a smokescreen. A badge of honour we bestow on ourselves because busy means important, valued, needed. To keep up with our colleagues who are also ‘busy’.

How often, when you ask how someone is, do they reply ‘busy?  Because unbusy is lazy? What if we don’t need to be busy and still get everything done? What if you only had three THREE things on your To Do list?

Make it a ritual

Brooke is clear about this, and has suggestions on how to change by introducing rituals. What I interpret from this is that it is all about putting your well being first. Doesn’t that sound like a sensible thing to do? With all the other things you have to do, at work at home, we often put our needs last. (Do you sit down last to dinner, once everyone else has been served? If there is only one slice of bread, who gets the morning toast?)

We can single task

Surely multitasking is so much more productive. That what we all have be led to believe. Juggling tasks, get two things done in the space of what one would take. What if you immersed yourself fully into one task for a few minutes each day?

In the book there are a number of examples of this and exercises so I won’t repeat them here. At first it would be easy to say that we are so busy I don’t have time to do this. The thing is you already have to do this task so why not immerse yourself in it? For example the washing up, your hands are wet so you can’t check Whatsapp. Instead, concentrate on the colours in the bubbles, the warm water and the smell of the soap? Which neatly leads to


Yeah, yeah, yeah I know. That old chestnut. So here’s the thing. I felt like that. And I will let you into a little secret, sometimes when I am over thinking my thoughts scroll like a timeline on Facebook. In life as on my laptop I have numerous tabs open. 19 currently on my laptop. More than that in my brain. And I complain that my laptop is running slow. So what is operating like that doing to my brain?


You know when you go to a cafe and there is no wi fi and you say WTF? What if you thought,’ Yay, no wifi’ and people watched? Read a book? Did some knitting? Talked to the person you were with? Strike up a conversation with a stranger. You can have some amazing conversations with strangers in cafes. And you might make a difference to someone’s day.

Why unplug?

The phone thing

Do you ever go out to dinner with friends or family and they all have their phones on the table? Why not suggest phone stacking? First one to use the phone pays the bill.

I often see people on their phone whilst making transactions at the bank, the ATM and the supermarket or getting on the bus. Carrying on their conversation with the person on the other end whilst making no eye contact with the cashier or the bus driver? I see this all the time. How important is that call? Compared to making a cash transaction? IMHO it is not just stupid, but rude too. And they are not in the moment. Mind always elsewhere.

Personal space and security

A few days ago I was in a shop and a young woman was on her phone, while she was browsing items, picking them up and looking at them while chatting away. Both the shop manager and I could hear every word of her conversation. We gathered that this was a contact via a dating site, and we heard some personal details. The manager said to me afterwards that this happens all the time and some of the stuff he hears is what most of us would consider confidential. I overheard another person on the bus give her bank details, address and date of birth over the phone. All the passengers could hear this.

I know, we are all busy. But really, can that call wait? Do you not know that the everyone can hear you? Why share with strangers personal information? Why not engage with people in the present?


And you may sleep better. No phones/gadgets after 9 pm. No phone in the bedroom. But wait I hear you say, my phone is my alarm clock.

Go buy an alarm clock.

Practice the ritual

Brooke gives some suggestions as to how you can make unplugging a ritual in her book, so if you think you could benefit from this, take a look at the exercise on this on page 17. It can be a simple as choosing not to use the wifi on the bus, to going for a walk in the park and leaving your phone at home.

Why not make a list of what you could do instead of checking Facebook and Twitter? Watching TV is not one of them….

Empty your mind

This is something I struggle with. My earlier confession of thinking in timelines…. probably a lot to do with this. I don’t sleep too well. As people who read my 4 am updates know. They too are insomniac and On. Their. Phones. To do this Brooke suggests the Brain Dump. Five to ten minutes of pen to paper, writing in no particular order (this is not a list) letting everything on your mind pour out onto the page. This ritual dovetails with the Three Things Ritual and the Gratitude Exercises she covers later in the book (and what I mentioned in this post earlier) because this brain dump will help you identify these.

Establish rhythms

During the session Lorna talked us through how we might establish a morning rhythm. Depending where we are in our life and how we choose to live it this can be different for us all. I certainly can remember frazzled school run mornings from when I had young children. And we have all overslept at some time (even insomniacs like me do sometimes). I think I have grown better at this as it has been less important to me to worry about being late. I am almost always on time, if not early for appointments, but I am guilty of trying to cram in too much in a small space of time. So for this reason I can see the benefit of this.

Practice rhythms

I think for some it will take more practice than others. what I love about this is that Brooke reminds you that you need to factor in ‘wiggle time’ and this is about how you do things not anyone else. Your best friend who is almost always perfectly made up at the school gates may add a lot more wiggle time than you do.

Again there is a useful exercise in the book on page 34 to work through, which we did in the Trade School Session. All of our lists were different, of course, because we lead different lives.

And I think this is part of the key. We are so conditioned as to what we think we SHOULD be doing that we lose sight of what we need and want to be doing. And this is what this exercise focuses on. Need and want, prioritising and planning.

I found this very useful and I urge you to do the exercise. I worked out for example that the 39 minutes that the washing machine was on was time to practice yoga every day. Something I constantly said I never had time for. Aha, I hear you say, isn’t that multitasking? Yes it is. However, once that washer is on I do not need to mindfully watch my clothes sloshing around. I can, however, practice mindful single tasking whilst pegging out the clothes. After my mindful yoga.

“Instead of starting your day by responding to the
stimulus around you, you’re proactively creating the
day you want to have. When you wake up and do the
most essential things first, you get a good start to your
day. Your mind is better focused on the rest of your
day’s tasks. And you’ll do a better job taking care of
the people you love most.”
Tsh Oxenreider — Simple Mom
Author of ‘One Bite at a Time’

The takeaway

I realised that I was do some of these things already. I have slowed down a lot in the past few years. My life in the last 3 years has changed completely and will continue to change.

Already a follower of The Minimalists and Courtney Carver, who feature in the book, I am way down the line with this. Of course there is a but. My life still does not look like I want it to. I am disatisfied and tired and grumpy. A lot.

What this session at Trade School did for me was give me another piece of the jigsaw. One I had been scrabbling around for in the box and couldn’t find. It was there after all. I just needed help to find it. And like a key, it unlocks another door. To find the life I need and want to live. I have spent too many years comparing my life with others. I only need to be the best I can be.

What changes have I made?

I took up knitting. Again. And I am making great progress this time. Why? Because when I do it it is all I do. I don’t do it while watching TV or reading and nor can I check out Twitter. I have to concentrate and count the stitches and on whether it is a knit or a purl row. I am in flow and meditative. Five to ten minutes a day I knit. All my thoughts are still, my brain can only concentrate on this and this alone.

The phone is not my alarm clock. If I wake at 4 am I work on emptying my mind and resting if not sleeping. And definitely not checking my phone to see who else is awake then.

What I have noticed

I already did the brain dump but used it as my to do list. I am going to gather them all (I have numerous to do lists) and introduce The Three Thing Ritual.

I am doing one thing at a time. I would watch the TV with my phone in my hand. I don’t now. I went out to dinner with the family and did not check my phone once. I have gone to bed earlier and slept better.

What changes will I make?

I am going to read the book all the way through and work through each exercise. I know that when I practice gratitude my mind is in a much better place. So that is a top priority for me.

Replace the word routine with the word rhythm. And work on establishing some. I am not working currently so it is all too easy for me to let the day drift without achieving something. Of course with slow living that is ok but not if you don’t have any food to make dinner. This way I can work on what I want to happen more (write, read, knit, essentially practice Hygge now winter is here) but do what needs to happen, (cook a meal, write CV, apply for jobs).

Consider offering a Trade School class.

Attend another Trade School class.

The serendipity bit

Because there always is.

Whenever you are with people who contribute more than they take, as is what happens at Gather, things happen.

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Not unexpectedly, as I used to work with Lorna many years ago, I knew someone else in the group that day. She happens to be a friend of someone else I used to work with, also many years ago. Not seen either of them for years, but in touch with one via Facebook, as you do… Anyways, I tell her about the downsizing and the decluttering and the travelling and plans to live in a warm place, and those are her plans too. Except she has already got a house in a warm place, Malta. In Marsaxlokk.

If there was any place I would choose to live in Malta it is here. And she said I could rent it from her anytime. This woman, I have not seen for over 12 years, said that.

Rewind to what I said I was grateful for that day. To see an old and valued work colleague and be able to catch up. Who knew? And because I like her and it was good to see her I will rebuild the contact. And hopefully meet at Gather again.

I will pay for my trade school lesson in another way too. By offering a session on decluttering and downsizing and Project 333. Not everyone wants to tread that path, but if they do, they will be there.

And there is more.

Of course there is. As a devotee of minimalism and Project 333 I have been following Courtney Carver for a while now. What I did not know that she has been a regular guest podcaster on Slow Your Home. I have been a big fan of The Minimalists for a couple of years. Yup, Brooke works with them too. All the stuff I have been babbling about for the last couple of years, Lorna has just stumbled upon. From a different direction. She had not planned to buy the book, but it found her. And you know I don’t believe in coincidence.

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And while I have been in pursuit of my version of minimalism for a few years now, and stopped buying clothes for a year, there is still an element of dissatisfaction in my life. Perhaps what I discovered at Trade School today will address that. I am at a crossroads in my life. I have no direction. Today I felt I belonged at Gather.

The recipe

OKONIYAKI aka Japanese pancake.

3 cups/450g self raising flour

2 cups/50ml water

1 large carrot peeled and grated

1/2 firm whit cabbage, finely chopped

1/2 white onion finely chopped

3tbs olive oil

pinch salt to taste

no egg mayo to serve

sweet chilli sauce to serve

baby spinach leave and tomatoes to garnish

Mix the flour and water to make a smooth batter.

Add the vegetable, 1 tsp of oil and salt.

Combine and add water if necessary to keep mixture smooth.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and pour the batter into the pan. forming an even pancake across the bottom, at least 1cm thick, leaving enough room to flip later. Two or more medium pancakes are easier to cook than one large one.

Cook on low heat on one side till brown around 5 to 8 minutes then flip and cook the other side.

Once cooked, serve on a plate and dribble the mayo and chilli sauce.

Garnish with the spinach and tomato wedges.

From the Lentil as Anything cookbook

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Lentil as Anything

This is one of my favourite foods at Lentil. I order it everytime I go to St Kilda Lentil. I have very happy memories of volunteering there too. Their philosophy is so in step with what is happening at Gather and at CoLab and of course Trade School. And The Real Junk Food Project who I have also volunteered with.

We are Lentil as Anything.

At our core are our not-for-profit vegan and vegetarian restaurants, where guests contribute what they feel their meal and experience is worth, according to their own financial ability.

Lentil as Anything was established in 2000 and continues to support our community everyday by;

Caring for people: Providing a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern.

Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion

Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice.

Extending and spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised.

Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives

Lentil found me

I discovered Lentil as Anything in November 2011. I had at that time no real knowledge of food and its role in building community. I saw the cook book in a shop in St Kilda and that influenced where we ate that day. After eating I offered to volunteer there. And then once a week, me and the DH would spend a day, waiting tables and washing tables, in return for food. We felt like family. And everytime we go back to Melbourne this is where we eat out at most.

In 2013 I got a job working with a charity who run a foodbank. Angry that their is food poverty and food waste, I also volunteered with The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham. And here is another serendipity bit – the founder of TRJFP used to eat at Lentil as Anything in St Kilda. I always wonder if I once served him his food. Whilst representing foodbank at an event I met a young man who was passionate to fight food poverty and I signposted him to TRJFP Birmingham. He went on to become a co director and with his team grew the project to what it is now.

Why am I telling you this. Because if I had not seen that book, that this recipe comes from, none of this may have happened. And I don’t believe in coincidence. That book was meant to find me, just as the book, Destination Simple, was meant to find Lorna.

Couch to 5k – not fit to run, the new plan is pilates

If I can’t run. I can do pilates.

In July I did day one of the couch to 5k plan. Bolstered up, I was determined to succeed, and then I had a fall.

Which laid me up back on the couch for 4 weeks. Not only could I not run, I could barely move. No walks with the dogs, no stretches, not nothing apart from lying down and reading.

If I was un fit before the fall, I was descending into new levels of unfitness.

More excuses

Also the only ipod we own was stuffed full of Sleeve Notes music collection. Because he downloaded ALL HIS MUSIC. Others cherry pick and have play lists, not he.

I couldn’t work out how to delete them. His lap top died. He couldn’t remember his passwords, and I couldn’t download the couch to 5k podcasts.

Therefore I could not possibly ever complete the programme. Another reason why I can’t run. Or an excuse.


Defeating technology

Fast forward 8 weeks. I worked out how to download itunes and Apple stuff  to the new laptop, reset the passwords and deleted lots of albums. Because he never listens to them. I can see on his play list how many times he has listened to them. Never. And then I uploaded the podcasts.

We are going to do it together, because I don’t want to run around the park alone. What could possibly go wrong? His foot is hurting (gout) and he hit his hand with a hammer. I have sciatica. And neither of us have clothes to run in. In the summer we had shorts. Autrum is rolling in fast so we need trousers we can wear to run in.

My solution has been to start pilates classes.

Slow gentle movements to improve my mobility. Ha! Turns out pilates is hard. How can gentle movements make you sweat so much? I am not at all bendy and my sciatic nerve problem makes some movements difficult. I am hoping that with perseverance pilates will help with that. Other movements, that I have been doing for 20 plus years, I don’t find as challenging. Which goes to show that if you do some stretches every day, your body responds positively. With practice I will improve. This is not a quick fix it is a programme to improve core strength.

And as the evenings draw in and it gets colder an indoor activity seems a better option than a run in the park. I can wear leggings and a t shirt. The instructor is excellent and the other people in the class are fun. When I struggled with a movement, the instructor gave me a different one to counteract the pain from the sciatica. I will be honest, at this point I was close to tears.

If I hadn’t had to climb over everyone to leave the room I would have run away. Or hobbled away. As it was, when we did the next movements my tears had gone, I managed the rolling bit and can make my legs go to the side (I do this one every morning) and I started to feel better about myself. I am not going to give in. And I will start to run. I have a plan, I have a podcast. I have trainers. I just need to find some clothes I can run in.

We need to move to a warmer climate

Sleeve Notes said that we need to move to a warm country. His arthritis, my cracking knees and trapped sciatic nerve don’t do well in the cold. This time last year I was hiking in the Northern Territory. The warm weather and the sunshine make us feel better, for sure. And I would rather run on the beach than the road.

Another plan.


Living at the pointy end – not growing old gracefully

The Pointy End

“We’re now at the pointy end” –  said my friend. We were chatting about people we knew who had died and about getting older. She has been ill and was aware of how unfit she is. I know how she feels having been forced to lie down for much of the last two weeks. Indeed one of the reasons we were unwell was because we both need to do more exercise. Her commute to the office is all of 3 metres across her yard. Frustrated by the illness she reflected “Being forced to slow down and limp around the world means I have time to ponder about getting fit”

We both knew someone who died this week

People around our age have died and, for me, it has made me reflect on my mortality. After the fall I realised how lucky I was to have caught my back and not my head on the tiled step in the bathroom. And having to ask for help to get out of bed and put on trousers, not be able to wash my hair and being scared of showering when there is no one else in the house in case I fall again, made me stare old age in the face and not like what I saw.

I Googled ‘the pointy end’

(This is where my friends and family will be rolling their eyes) and discovered that this was the name of an episode of Game of Thrones. I am that person who has no clue about GoT and probably never will. I am sticking to the title of the blog because that is what my friend said. I don’t think she watches GoT either.

We are at the pointy end of life now. What pointy end means to 30 somethings and many 50 and 60 somethings is probably not the same – meanings of words change. Jane Austen uses the word gay in a very different context to what we do today. So I am sticking with the pointy end (yes I googled enough to know what Jon Snow said).  The sharp end. Looking down the barrel. Google it – once you get past the pages about Game of Thrones, there are other meanings.

Give it your best

Being forced to slow down

Is not always a bad thing. Many of us need to do this more. Slow down. And on this house sit I have to. Not just because I am injured and finding standing up, sitting down, lying down, getting up and getting dressed painful. But also because I am in the countryside, with two dogs and see no one all day. I don’t have a radio or the TV on. The noise distracts me.

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies

I had so many plans. Couch to 5k was one. Because when you are at the pointy end, being fit helps to dodge the arrows of ageing. But I fell. Running is off the agenda for the time being. Why did that happen? I was feeling positive that this was my time to get fit and not be fat. Everything happens for a reason.

The sound of silence

The silence is occasionally punctuated by horses hooves along the lane, the dogs barking at them and a annoying dripping tap. For a city dweller, this is quiet. No sirens, no hum of traffic and no children playing in the garden or neighbours chatting in the street. The tap of course is all I can hear. Like a clock ticking. One of my major irritations, the ticking of a clock. When the mother in law was alive, she had numerous clocks, all tick tocking away all day and all night. I had to go around the house and stop them all just so that I could sleep.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wystan Hugh Auden

A poem about mourning. Why do I have to stop the clocks? There are no clocks in this silent house. Time stands still here. I like clocks, in every room. Not knowing the time disorientates me, a through time person. I am rarely late. I need to know the time, all the time. I feel naked without a watch. I detest being late. Lateness in others irritates me. On the rare occasions I am late people worry. They phone me to check where I am.

But now like Prufrock I feel that I am measuring out my time with coffee spoons.


And the universe is really messing with my head today because as I reflect on silence, this article – the Most Underated Sound in Our Society pops up on my screen. Because I have time on my hands. With a million other things I need to do and working out what I want to do and being frustrated by not being able to do them, being here and not at home, being injured, and being at a crossroads of my life. Not working, not knowing what I want to do  and wondering what my passion is the universe is swirling. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. When I read The Celestine Prophecy, I had lost my way in life, I have spent many years looking for the path. Yet I wasn’t noticing then. I do now.

So what do you want to do?

I always think of the vultures in The Jungle Book when I hear this question. Google it – it is Disney so it is copyright but it’s on YouTube of course.

The thing is I don’t know. I said the universe was messing with me – hey universe I am noticing. First up I see this blog post about not living yeah, that is me, lying down in a life I don’t love, addicted to Netflix. Going nowhere.

What is my passion?

I am at the pointy end and I bloody better work this one out. As a child I wanted to be a clown. I hate clowns now. At school, a writer. I applied for journalism courses. I was rejected. I have little respect for most journalists now and those that work for the majority of newspapers have sold their souls IMHO. So journalist it is not.

I am butterfly like – flitting around to find the passion. And then, I get bored. So they can’t be my passion. Multipotentialite or just plain flaky?

Last week I got so frustrated with my blog. Technical issues, no one reads it. How come really crappy writers make money out of their blog? Seriously truly crappy writers who win awards for the 6 sexiest female travellers type crapola. Because people click them. Advertisers love them.  Perhaps I need to up my game but I could never sellout to get people to like me. In 12 months I have posted 6 times. Not a writer then.

I decided to abandon the blog and become a runner. We know how that turned out.

Last year I said I would use my time house sitting in Melbourne to write a book. Not even an outline. Not a writer then.

Five weeks here in the English countryside, alone most of the time. I will write then. And start running. And give up sugar. I have read three books and cooked once from a cookbook that promotes a sugar free lifestyle. Started a post about the Sydney to Brisbane road trip I made last September with my husband. Ten months after the trip. Not a writer then.

However, sitting at a keyboard is not conducive to my recovery. Nor is lying on a sofa reading helping me find my passion. According to Mark Manson I don’t need to find it – I already know what it is I just haven’t worked it out yet.

It’s right there in front of you, you’re just avoiding it. For whatever reason, you’re avoiding it. You’re telling yourself, “Oh well, yeah, I love comic books but that doesn’t count. You can’t make money with comic books.”

I decided to walk the dogs aka avoiding it

I don’t need to as they have three acres to run around in and horses, rabbits and squirrels to chase. I play football with them and tug of war. After the chat about being at the pointy end I decided that maybe a walk would be good for me – and the dogs. Instead of lying on the sofa reading lollipop books, eating chocolate and popping painkillers. I can’t run. I can walk.

The dogs led me – they know the walk – there is a narrow footpath leading past the neighbour who has horses, a field of cars and status dogs. I was aiming for Bodenham Arboretum. Tea, cake, people. The footpath leads through caravan park – static holiday homes. City dwellers holiday homes recreating city life in the country.

For a moment I thought I had entered the palace of the White Witch in Narnia. Statues everywhere. ET, meerkats, dogs and cats and country maids frozen in stone. And no people. Where was everyone? A dog stared at me silently. Maybe if it barked it too would turn to stone.

This is how some measure out their pointy end. Jigsaws and Sky TV in a caravan park with a clubhouse and Bank’s bitter. And garden ornaments.

Bodenham was closed. I walked back through the silent park, past the angel statues, not blinking.

The war veteran

And as I ponder how to fight the inevitability of old age, I hear of another death. Bunty, a WWII Spitfire pilot, who was a volunteer at The Omaka Aviation Centre. Last year Phil and I were privileged to have spent some time with Bunty when he guided us around the centre. He told me off for using my mobile phone during the tour. He was right of course. I explained that his photo was off around the world on Instagram. Bunty was not impressed. I put my phone away.

Bunty stared the pointy end out for 97 years.

And I have to write.



From #couchto5k update – on the bench already

Fall seven times

After day 1 week 1 of #couchto5k I was raring to go. The 20 minutes of exercise had an instant impact on my mood. I felt good. I was positive that I would stay with the programme. Considered bringing tennis racquets from home to make use of the nets up on the lawn at the house we are looking after.

I zipped off a post about day 1 and how it went. I was no longer feeling sorry for myself. And support for both the running and the tech issues came from a good friend.

And then I went and had a shower.

After the shower, I had a nasty fall. I slipped on the tiles and fell over landing awkwardly on my right side. My right foot slipped forward, I fell backwards. Instinctively I curled up to protect my head from the step behind me (I did) and broke my fall with my right arm.

After the fall, I stayed still for about 30 seconds and then checked that nothing was bleeding or broken. I knew I was winded, so got into the recovery position while I assessed my injuries. Slowly onto all fours and even more slowly, to standing position.

First, I counted my lucky stars – and then went into shock as I realised what a lucky escape I had had. I played through all of the scenarios. I was by myself. If I had cracked my head and been knocked out or had a head wound it would be 7 hours before anyone would be home. My mobile phone doesn’t get a signal and the house phone was down stairs. I had a little cry and slowly got myself dry and dressed.

And then I thought bugger (well lots of the F word in reality) day bloody one of #couchto5k and this. The warnings of aches and pains post exercise, stretching, rest days etc from the web site and others saying don’t rest run through the pain and don’t have a rest day. This fall mean lots of rest days.

The following day I was surprisingly un achey. I thought I had possibly not hurt myself as badly as first thought. The dogs came home with the DH and me and we had a little walk around the park. Keep moving, it will do me good. I genuinely thought that on day 3 I would manage a little run.

As the evening wore on I got less mobile. In the night I could not roll over without screeching in pain and getting out of bed without help was difficult. I managed a shower and had to ask for help getting dressed. I cannot bend to pick anything up. No running then.

We had to come back home from the house sit again today so we planned a short walk in the woods with the dogs. I could not hold the dogs leads. My pace was not brisk. I am however keeping moving and mobile. I can’t get back on the couch as I may not be able to get back off.



From #couchto5k – I can’t do this

A big fat mess

After a disastrous tech day yesterday where there were tears and tantrums, long story for another day, I casually mentioned that to get fit would be easier than to deal with moving this blog to another host. It is not that is is technically challenging, the blog migration that is, but that I have, to coin a phrase, ‘got myself into a big fat mess’.

Well yeah I have. Technically blog wise and physically body  wise .

I can’t fix one but I can bloody well fix the other.

Starting point

Age 58. Rarely exercises. Sleeps poorly. Had custard cakes for lunch yesterday. 170cm. 90kg. Yup that much. You do the BMI math.

I am fat, no, I am obese. I ache. And I don’t sleep. So not just physically in poor shape but mentally too. Clothes don’t fit me so have lost interest in how I look. Skin is terrible so don’t bother with make up.

My hair is good. It is. Too long but good. I like my hair.

So after the tears and tantrums, realising that I had made a ‘massive cock up’ and feeling like shit about myself I had two choices.

Give up.

Get off my ass.

The wake up call

Being called out for being a failure, I did what usually works.

I went to the pub. I drank beer.

The beer did not help, but eating decent food, talking about the day and just taking stock did.

And the eavesdropped conversations (or the can’t help but hear you woman who has to dominate the conversation with her opinion) of the people there were just the boost I needed. To Do Something. The negative Ninnies and Daily Fail readers who won’t go to Greece because of the mozzies and Egypt because it is too dangerous. So they spend their summer in a caravan and a pub. And compare engine size and gush about Primark.

Mr Sleeve Notes and I agreed we had to get out of there. We could end up like them. If we continue this life path of eat, drink, couch, Netflix.

Sleep escapes me

Exhausted I went to bed and read at 9.30pm. At 2.30pm I was wide awake. Every bone and muscle ached. So I read some more.

Maybe a murder/thriller isn’t conducive to sleep.

I get up at 7.30am and decide.

I have two choices.

Give up.

Get off my ass.

And today I chose get off my ass and start #couchto5k

Trainers #couchto5k

I researched the NHS Couch to 5k. A number of people I know started with #couchto5k and have gone on to run half and full marathons. Or take part in Parkrun. For me it seems a logical place to start. It may not be for everyone, I know that. And I will continue to share my journey. The highs and the lows. The success and failure.

There is a podcast so I have to dig out the ipod from home and download it. But I was not going to let that put me off. I can count, I have a second hand on my watch.

I am housesitting in 3 acres of paddock and woodland. I don’t even have to leave the house to do this. The dogs joined me. It drizzled with rain. Perfect running weather, apparently.

This is what I look like after my first 20 minutes on Day 1. #couchto5k is not easy for me.

Day 1 Week 1 #couchto5k

When I was young and fit I could cycle, swim, dance, ice skate, do gymnastics. I could never run. But now.

This Girl Can.