Thursday, 31 January 2008

Happy but sad

Another one of those little milestones is passing, and as is so often the case I am both pleased and sad at the same time.

We have always read books to the boys, right from before they could sit up by themselves. First Born had that habit that drives you wild as a parent of obsessing on one particular book at a time and demanding to have it read it over and over and over. 9 years later I reckon I could still recite a fair chunk of "The Lorax" by Dr Seuss from memory and I still want to kill whoever wrote that poem "The clockwork clowns go clickety-clack, you wind them up at the back back back" (Enid Blyton? It kind of sounds like her work.....)

As the boys grew, we instituted the habit of bedtime story which gradually evolved from reading little bits of Roald Dahl poems, or choosing parts of "A Child's Garden of Verses" to reading novels, one chunk per evening. We read all the Lemony Snicket books, all the Spiderwick Chronicles, some Dr Who novels, all the Just William books, all the Harry Potter books (though Husband declined to be involved in those - he hates Harry Potter. The freak.) We dabbled in the Jennings books, read a fair number of Nelly the Monster Sitter, most of Joan Lingard's books and sundry others.

Story time was a nice, quiet full stop to the day. The boys lay in bed (or rolled around, kicking the walls, falling out of bed and fiddling with whatever toys they found down the back of their pillows) listening, tried to plead for just one more page when I finished and then it was lights out. This comfortable routine has begun to change recently. They still like a story at bedtime but now they, off their own bats, have created "quiet reading time". They get ready for bed and then they each lie on their bed reading their own books. To themselves. Without me.

Don't get me wrong, I could not be more delighted that they choose voluntarily to read and want to read to themselves. I love books so much, and reading is such an integral part of me, that the idea of my children choosing to read for pleasure makes me go all warm and squidgy inside. It's just that I don't get to read the stories any more. And I really enjoyed that. I am kind of hoping that this is temporary and that there will still be a place for reading out loud. The book we were reading when quiet reading time showed up is, truth be told, not that great (picked by one of the gruesome twosome because it has a cool cover with a dragon on it, I suspect) and it may be that they just didn't fancy hearing more of that. Come to think of it, quiet reading time also coincided with the monumental visit to Borders Books after Christmas so there are plenty of books lying around that they are keen to read.

Maybe once they have read all the Goosebumps and Astrosaurs books, they will be more inclined to let me read something to them again. Or maybe I'll just have to staple them to their mattresses and give them no choice........

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Oh no, she's off again......

Advance warning: this post is going to be about weight loss and stuff so if you don't want to read me going on at length on this topic close to my heart, click away now. I won't be offended, honest. Off you go, really, it's fine.

Right, now that I am just talking to myself: What the hell is my problem????

A little back story. I have never been skinny (well not since the days when my mum was buying my clothes and they were sized according to my age) but after the boys were born things got a bit out of hand. I like to cook and bake and I love to eat. I didn't exercise enough (by which of course I mean at all) and before I knew it, I was seriously overweight. About a couple of years ago now, the photos and video of me on our family holiday to Canada were just so horrific that I decided I had to do something about it. I did NOT decide to go on a diet. I really don't believe in diets and I knew that what I really needed was to change the way I lived forever, not just for a few weeks or months. That would just be storing up problems for later.

And I did it. I pretty much stopped eating sweets, cakes, biscuits etc (I am incapable of moderation in such things so cold turkey is the only way for me), upped the intake of fruit and veg and started running a bit. I discovered the wonderful website at (I seem to think I heard about this on Shauna's site - would that be right?) which worked out what calories I needed to eat to lose weight, let me record precisely what I was eating and, most importantly, earn calories by exercising. The discipline was good for me. The fact that the site highlighted very clearly the link between calories in and calories burned really helped me. I began to grudge eating very calorific foods on the basis that "That's a half hour run in one snack! Just not worth it!"

I lost almost 4 stone. I dropped gradually from a size 22 to a size 14/16. People told me how well I was looking (and let's face it, there is just nothing nicer to hear than that you have clearly lost weight and are looking good on it!). And then, towards the end of last year, I had the little problem with my bank account going overdrawn- which subsequently of course turned out to be my bank cancelling my standing order and not telling me - and I assumed it was my fault for overspending. So being the fiscally prudent person I am, I trimmed my outgoings and thought "I know what I am doing now, I have been eating well for a year or more, I don't need to pay £8.50 per month to Weight Loss Resources to tell me what I already know" and I cancelled my membership.

Turns out, I do in fact need to be told what I already know. The absence of daily discipline and accountability has led to sloppy habits. Portion sizes have crept up because I am not weighing things. Snacks and things find their way into my mouth almost unnoticed because I am not recording them. Too much olive oil and butter have found their way back into my cooking on a regular basis. The result is that I have put back on one of the stones I lost and I am kicking myself (note to self: check how many calories per hour kicking oneself burns off). I have therefore today re-joined WLR and I cannot begin to describe the relief. I have my daily allotment of calories (1232 plus whatever I can earn with exercise) and I slipped straight back in to the routine of actually thinking about what I am eating before I eat it. Today I have eaten breakfast, a good lunch and an ENORMOUS bowl of bulgur wheat salad for dinner, some black sesame rice cakes as a snack and I plan to have a Del Monte Strawberry and Banana smoothie lolly with a cup of tea shortly. I will still be about 100 calories under my allowance and I will have eaten 11 portions of fruit and veg. I am feeling smug, can you tell? (Not all days are this virtuous obviously!)

I have every intention of sticking with this again. I aim to lose at least 2 stones from what I weigh now and you have me permission to nag me and remind me of this whenever I look like I am about to give in to the siren call of brie. Or pate. Or guacamole. Or sausages. Or pork pies. Or dumplings. Or CHOCOLATE. Or.........or.......or..........

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Was that the weekend?

Well, I took the shoes for a test drive on Friday. Went to the gym and did a wee run to try them out. They seem pretty good although I had been shown a funny way to lace them up to provide more arch support and that felt a bit weird, so I don't think I'll do that again.

Saturday dawned and after I had done the ritual worshipping of Sainsbury's, we gave the boys the joyous tidings that we were all going to PC World. They were delighted. By which I mean of course that they moaned and whinged and whined about how it would be boring and why did they have to go and what was in it for them? We suggested that if they gave us any more grief, they would not get to play with the shiny new laptop so they graciously agreed to come. By which I mean of course they thumped about the house getting ready, took 10 minutes to find their shoes, continued to moan and fought with each other all the way to the car for good measure.

They succumbed of course to the lure of shiny things once we actually got to PC World and scooted off to find the phones, iPods, TVs and Macbooks that THEY JUST CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT PLEASE CAN WE GET THEM TODAY PLEASE? WHY NOT? WHY NOT? BUT CHRIS/MURRAY/LOUIS HAVE THEM!!!!!

So we got our new laptop - a shiny shiny black Toshiba one. With keys, and stuff. (I am not in charge of the technical side, can you tell?) Husband has spent the weekend setting it up and transferring stuff over and growling a bit, but I think it is now ready to go. At least I presume it is as the boys (and by that I mean husband and SB) spent a bit of time this evening working on their face-pulling into the webcam. Important stuff.

I even managed another run this morning whilst FB was at his karate class so I might actually be getting back into the swing of the regular running. I dropped FB off for a birthday party at Laser Quest a.k.a. Small Boy Heaven, where he scampered off to join the other hyped-up 9 year olds. I headed home and was met by SB complaining about being bored. Which turned out in fact to mean "I'm tired of being indoors" so we anorak-ed up (the wind was still pretty gusty here today) and headed up to the park. We played tig (I lost) and SB filled me in on the plotline and scripts of all 5 of the Animaniacs DVDs I got for Christmas. Yes, I got the DVDs for Christmas but have not been able to watch them yet as they have been snaffled by the kids. At least they have good taste - the Animaniacs are cool!

FB came home hyped up on sugar and adrenalin ("My name was Fat Rat and I shot Steven 36 times!") and was mugged at the door by SB who is not daft and knows there will almost certainly be a chunk of birthday cake in the goody bag that his milk-allergic brother can't eat and he can pinch. There was and he did.

After persuading the boys to scrub themselves less stinky in the shower, then persuading them that if they both slept in one single bed with 47 soft toys they probably wouldn't get much sleep, we are now downstairs. There are 4 laptops in this room, 2 of them in use. We have just eaten a huge pile of moussaka, which was yummy even if I do say so myself and the double chocolate chip cookies the boys "made" me bake are calling. Well, I burned off 420 calories in that run this morning you know!

Thursday, 24 January 2008


I have not been running this week because my blisters still have blisters. And they hurt. Here you go: a photo of the guilty parties (as well as the truly horrible but practical carpet in my hall. Grim it may be, but it hides a multitude of sins). These are the first running shoes I ever purchased. That was over a year and about 500 miles ago and they are deceased. They are ex-running shoes. They have ceased to be. I am considering building a pyre in the back garden (it would be one way of getting rid of the mountain of cardboard from Christmas that I still have not managed to put out for recycling) and giving them a Viking funeral. What do you think? Too much?

So, can you guess what I did at lunchtime today? Want a clue?

Yes, a return visit to Run and Become to try out the new shoes. I wandered around a bit whilst I waited to be served, looking at the strange things for sale ("Bodyglide"?) and watching the other two people buying running shoes - a couple who were at least in their mid-fifties, possibly older - having a whale of a time running up and down the shop in the various pairs being brought for them to try. Their enthusiasm was practically tangible.

I remember when I first ventured in to buy my first shoes, convinced that the staff would laugh and then patiently explain that this was a shop for proper runners and I had obviously come in the wrong door. In fact of course, the staff were brilliant, taking ages to watch me stumble up and down the shop, bringing countless boxes until I found the shoes I needed and all the time asking questions about my running and being incredibly encouraging and upbeat. I give the girl who sold me my shoes no small part of the credit for the fact that I embarked upon the training for my first 5k. Hence the fact that I refuse to do my usual trick of identifying the goods I want in a shop and then buying them cheaper online. I feel that Run and Become provide a service and therefore deserve the sale, too.

Anyway, tried both pairs of shoes on and putting the Asics on just felt....right. The Saucony were okay but just not the ones. So, I came home with a straight replacement - the new version of the same shoes I have run in for the last year. Behold the magnificence:

I now have absolutely no excuse for not getting stuck into the running again. Goodness knows my weakness for brie, oatcakes and pasta carbonara (a large plate of which I have just finished) means I could seriously do with the exercise.

And on a last triumphant note, the vouchers arrived from PC World today, so we can go out and buy a shiny new laptop at the weekend.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good? That would be both First Born and Second Born winning their class competitions for reciting Scottish poetry. First Born has a talent for this and has won his Burns Certificate every year he has been participating. He did a spectacular rendition of "The Twa Corbies" that would send shivers up your spine. I may, if I can figure out how the technology works, get him to perform it to camera and see if I can put it up here somehow. Second Born is following hot on his heels, winning his competition too for "The Sair Finger" and he now has to perform this at the school assembly. I'm very proud.

SB also wore his football kit for the first time last night and looked pretty good. He says his coach says that his control and speed are good, but he needs to work on accuracy. Cue lots of kicking footballs at our garden shed, I suspect.

The Bad? Getting a letter from my bank "relationship manager" (I wasn't aware we were in a "relationship", but there you go) asking me to contact her about my personal current account as one of the conditions of a current account is that there are credits to it and there haven't been any for some time. ?????!! I have had a standing order going from our joint account to my personal account for years. It pays my pension contributions and sundry other bits and pieces. Like books. And gym memberships. And books. But apparently this standing order was cancelled last July. Three guesses whether I actually cancelled it. I now have an overdraft of almost £600 (we NEVER have overdrafts, good grief we even pay our credit card off each and every month) made up largely of BANK CHARGES. I await a call back from the Bank to explain who cancelled my standing order. Any ominous rumblings you hear later today may be me, explaining politely to my "relationship manager" what I think of the situation. And at the risk of sounding like Victor Meldrew's crotchety sister, once upon a time, when I had an actual bank manager, if a standing order got cancelled leading to an overdraft, I would have received a wee telephone call asking if everything was ok. Probably within days of the account going overdrawn. I would not have got an impersonal letter 6 months later, after hundreds of pounds of charges had been applied, implying I was not fit to have a current account because I wasn't putting any money in it!! Rant over.

Finally, the ugly. My feet. Sorry. Running shoes pronounced officially dead-ish at Run and Become yesterday. We worked out I have done about 500 miles or so in them and they are therefore due for replacement, hence the blisters. Yuck. So, lots of new shoes tried on and run-about-the-shop-in. Two possible contenders, one of which is the new version of the Asics I have been running in until now, but neither of them were available in my size. Run and Become are of course getting them in for me and I should be re-shod by the weekend in bouncy lovely new shoes which will make me run like a gazelle!. Or like a mildly enthusiastic wildebeest. They're not magic, you know.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Quiet, introspective weekend

Did not manage to get out for a run last week. I really felt like I needed to get new shoes first but couldn't find the time to get to the shop. Excuses, excuses.....

The weekend hit and we spent Saturday morning taking FB to his therapy session. His therapist is really pleased with how he has progressed and reckons the next meeting may be the last one he needs. FB is delighted at this - he always moans about having to do the exercise programme and the prospect of not having to do it any more is very pleasing to him.

After therapy, FB, SB and I hit the big bookshop on the way home and blew most of the Christmas book tokens. Funnily enough, I will happily spend time in bookshops with the boys - I never get to the stage in there that I do in Toys R Us where I am on my knees and weeping "Please just pick something and let us leave!" One substantial pile of books later ("No, you can't have the pop-up Pirates of the Carribean album, that barely counts as a book!") and we headed for a sports shop.

SB has just started going to football training and I had promised him some proper kit. (My brother approves: the lack of football in our Scottish home has prompted him to accuse us of child abuse in the past.) Unfortunately, the views of SB and myself on what was suitable diverged when I saw the price of the Manchester United shirt he wanted. My unwillingness to cough up well over £30 for one small shirt meant I was clearly a horrible mother who just spent her days thinking up new ways to make her son unhappy. So no joy there.

Sunday dawned and we all piled into the car to take FB to his karate class. He is a brown belt now and is just doing his training for the next grading which, if he passes, will give him his first coloured tag on his belt. Husband, who tries to walk the 4 miles or so into (or back from) work a few times a week, had bought good walking shoes and needed to try them out properly, but could only do so indoors in case he wanted to return them. So I suggested I take him to the gym and he could try them on the treadmill. (Sidenote here: husband went to boarding school for many years and has, as a result, an absolute horror of communal activities and changing rooms that has kept him well away from locker rooms and the like since he was 18. He also occasionally mutters under his breath something about "green fish pie" but I don't press him on that.)

I promised him he didn't have to hit the changing rooms and that the gym would be quiet and I'd show him how to work the tready, so he agreed. FB was set up in his class, SB settled down with his Gameboy in a corner and Husband and I hit the gym. Showed Hubby how the treadmill works and set him going on his 45 minute walk. I took the next door machine and did a 30 minute run, with a 5 minute cool down. Covered about 4.3km then went off and did some stretches and situps while I waited for hubby to finish up. He rather enjoyed the experience and the shoes got the thumbs up, so successful morning all round. I got blisters in exactly the same place AGAIN, so will definitely absolutely promise, go for new shoes next week.

I spent the afternoon hunting down a football top for SB (finally found an Italy one which met with approval) and have spent the evening veg-ing (sp?) out before the week starts all over again.

Note: whole weekend narrated, no mention of housework. Heh.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Isabelle's music meme

Isabelle tagged me to do a music meme which involves listing 5 pieces of music which mean something to me and explaining why. I doubt my list will be as classy as her one was, but here goes:

1. "Away" by The Bolshoi. That's the little known Eighties/Nineties indie band rather than the well-know Russian ballet company. (I don't think the ballet company ever released a single). I loved everything by The Bolshoi and was at a record fair with a male (platonic) friend at University (this would be about 1987-ish) and for some reason I decided to buy the single of this song for another male (platonic) friend of mine who was not with us. Don't know why, it was just an impulse because I loved the song and thought he would like it too. I happen to know that he still does and we now play it in the car for our children.

2. Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn. This was my gloomy angsty turmoil-y music when I was a teenager. The nearest I got to being moody and hormonal - if I was having a less than great day, I would put this on and lie on my bed and think about how unfair life was. Still love it though.

3. "Promises" by.......well, my talented husband. Husband is a keen musician. This is a track from an album he did by himself in the late Eighties. It is actually the words of a poem written by our former flatmate and my bridesmaid which he set to music and sang. Husband's album was playing in the operating theatre on both occasions when our sons were born, and even though First Born was a planned and relatively relaxed c-section during the day and Second Born was a rushed and emergency section in the early hours of the morning, this song was the point on the album that we had reached as our sons were born. Both times.

4. Gorecki - Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Makes me cry. 'Nuff said.

5. The Model by Kraftwerk. Completely and utterly sums up the Eighties for me, the decade when I was a teenager and going out dancing to the Palais in Bathgate and all that. Pure aural nostalgia.

I could actually go on - once I started I kept coming up with other music that means something to me. The piece I walked up the aisle to, for example, and that my sister-in-law kindly dubbed onto the video of our wedding, but I walked up the aisle to just the first movement and she left the piece running on, and on the tape, by the time I arrive, the third movement is playing and it is all scary and sinister (DAH DA-DA , de de de de de de de) and you are expecting Dracula to climb out of that Daimler rather than me in a frock. I will however stop.

Now who can I tag? Hmmm. How about Lynsey and Heather for starters. Anyone else reading who wants to join in is welcome. Go to it!

PS I have added a new blog to my ever-lengthening list over there on the left. Cranky Epistles by Crankyprof - rude, testy, hilarious writing from a college teacher of English in the US. Check her out as long as you don't mind colourful language and threats of garotting students with their own intestines if they can't tell the difference between they're, their and there.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

No longer unclean

Boiler fixed. Hot water! Shower! Central heating! Aaaaaahhhhh.......................

I had not realised what a softy I had become. The weather was not really that cold but I really missed my central heating. What a wuss! When husband and I bought our first flat together, it had no central heating and we couldn't afford to fit any. We also could not afford to run the electric immersion heater. Fortunately our electric shower heated its own water so we had hot showers but cold water for everything else, and one of those Calor gas bottle heaters in the living room for warmth. We were tough in them days!!!

My mother was indeed about to point out the good sense of the Scottish Gas three star plan but then did the arithmetic and worked out that we'd have paid them about £1200 over the years by now and in fact only paid £200 to get the boiler up and running and happy again. She is now grumbling slightly under her breath. Another victory for the lazy-and-willing-to-risk-their-household-appliances-going-phut-brigade!!!!

Our car is in for its MOT as I write, so please keep our little Astra in your thoughts. At least I know the exhaust won't fail.........

And we still don't actually have the PC World vouchers in our sticky hands so I won't be declaring complete victory quite yet in the battle of the melting laptop. Watch this space...

Finally, I am happy this morning because Husband got home safe and well last night, apart from a nasty cold, and because Torchwood is back on TV and I do like some Captain Jack. And Captain John, too, now.

More interesting post next time, promise. I was tagged for a meme by Isabelle which I really want to do so may tackle that shortly.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


My boiler has given up the ghost. This morning's shower was more of an impromptu exhibition of freestyle swearing in a confined space than anything to do with personal hygiene. I did what I could to try to coax it into life (viz. twiddling the knob on and off and looking hopeful) to no avail. Our trusty plumber is coming tomorrow to perform the last rites. And my mother will be on standby with her "I told you so" expression as she (quite rightly) reminds me that she recommended I sign up to the servicing and support programme from British Gas ages ago and I never got round to it.*

Husband is fortunately/unfortunately away on business until tomorrow night so at least there will only be one odouriferous** person floating about the house. The children don't count - they are boys and stinkiness is their natural condition. So husband, if you are reading this in your heated hotel room, make sure you have a shower before you come home. Just in case.

In other news, our car exhaust fell off at the weekend, a mere four days before its properly organised and scheduled service and MOT, which is just about the most annoying thing a car can do.

Our home laptop has also fallen by the wayside in the last week or so. It lost its wireless connectivity and husband managed to find much angry discussion on the forums (fora?) about how Compaq laptops have a design flaw which makes them run too hot and bits basically melt and stop working. Like the wireless thingy. Or the screen. Both of which are kind of important. There is a manufacturer's recall for some models, but not for ours. Customer Services on the phone could only offer us a repair which we didn't want because the repairs clearly don't work, according to the disgruntled masses who had already been down this route.

Undaunted, the two of us, both lawyers, settled down and wrote the kind of carefully crafted letter that is guaranteed to send your average customer services rep running whimpering for cover. The letter included the helpful suggestion that PC World's staff should stop telling people that if their goods don't work, PC World are legally entitled to try to repair them on the fairly reasonable basis that this is NOT TRUE!! We magnanimously offered to accept a replacement rather than demanding hard cash back and lo and behold, we were offered by return enough PC World gift vouchers to replace the laptop with one that works. In fact, we might get something even shinier.

I am now hoping that, three major pieces of crucial equipment having failed in the last 10 days or so, we are out of the woods. These things come in threes, don't they?

* Anyone else remember when tacky seaside gift shops used to sell plain round wooden boards with "A Round Tuit" painted on them? Because now you had got "a round tuit" you would do all those things you had been meaning to do for ages? No? Only me then........

** Husband's favourite ever word, culled from legal correspondence about a malfunctioning septic tank (yes, the law is that glamourous) and one we use in our house a lot.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Second Born's triumph!

First piece of business: Second Born is not happy at being referred to as Second Born or SB. He wishes henceforth to be known as BB (Best Boy). I pointed out this could also stand for Bad Boy, prompting him to make a rude noise which kind of made my point for me. But since this is my blog, SB he remains until he can afford to pay me to change it.

He woke up on Saturday morning in a positive mood for the race - the Tesco Junior Great Winter Run. We had a serious discussion about what he should wear and since it was about minus 2 and the frost was thick and white on the ground, he agreed that a long sleeved top and jogging bottoms were the order of the day. We made it down to Holyrood Park in good time for the 10am start and grabbed ourselves a vantage point near the start/finish line. The course was supposed to be 2.5km over road and grass but due to the weather, this was changed at the last minute to be all on-road and slightly shorter.

I walked SB up to the start area and left him to get ready. I had been slightly worried that he might "freak out" at this point as he has never run without me at the start, but I needn't have been. He cheerily waved me off, though he did say rather grimly when the aerobic warm-up was announced "I am NOT doing aerobics!". That's my boy.

The older kids, 11-13 years, went off first, followed 30 seconds later by the 7-10 year olds. SB was therefore one of the youngest kids running. He was the absolute last person over the start line but he looked fine - he was obviously not going to go haring off too fast and had settled into a rhythm almost straight away:

The leading runners (aka the big kids) started coming back in about 5 minutes flat. SB took a bit longer and I had every single finger crossed that he would be okay. I knew that if he had a bad experience, it could put him off this sort of stuff for good and I really wanted him to enjoy it. Again, I needn't have worried. He appeared round the final bend and absolutely sprinted for the line.

He ran it in 10 minutes 59. Little star. And yes, it was just as cold as it looks in those photos!
After this photo was taken he discovered that his goody bag contained one of those space-age tinfoil blankets you see marathon runners swathed in. Three guesses whether this was immediately opened and worn round Holyrood Park.

We hung around and waited for the senior Great Winter Run so we could wave at the son of a friend who was running and I jumped up and down partly to keep warm and partly because a little bit of me wished I was running too. I made do with a cappucino and the reflected glow from my son instead.

Friday, 11 January 2008


Flying post to say I dropped into the gym at lunchtime today. I almost didn't make it inside. As I pulled into the car park, a whole horde (gaggle? posse? herd? stampede?) of young teenage schoolkids emerged. (My gym, being Cooncil run, is also used as a facility for local schools sometimes). As a mature, grown up sensible woman of 40 with children of her own, my natural reaction of course was to panic - I couldn't possible go in there, into the changing rooms, if there might be teenage girls in there too. They might laugh at me.

Seriously. How pathetic am I? After all the effort I have made to focus on what I can do, and what I am trying to do, instead of how I look and how other people perceive me, my armour is demolished by the possiblity that I might be sneered at by an adolescent. In that instant, I was back at school and terrified to go into the toilets for fear of being picked on (that happened a lot at my school. I developed a very strong bladder.)

I sat for a minute watching the kids pass by the back of my car before mentally shaking myself and deciding this was truly pathetic behaviour. There is a line I use on my children when they are cliping on each other, complaining that "He's saying horrible things to me!" etc. I look carefully at the complainer and say "And where exactly are you bleeding? Do you have bruises? Broken bones? No? Then he can only hurt you if you let him, ignore him." Well then.

I grabbed my bag and went in. Changing rooms, of course, empty. Two out of the three treadmills were occupied (the one on each end, naturally) but having survived trial by teen, I was not to be put off and clambered on to the middle one. 17 minutes in and my legs were ok, my breathing was okay but I could feel I was developing a whopper of a blister on my left instep. I tried carrying on but it was really beginning to hurt so I shifted over to the cross-trainer instead. Being low impact, it didn't bother the blister so much. Did another 15 minutes on there on a hill programme, so managed my target of about 32 minutes one way or another.

I definitely need to get those new shoes looked at, I think. Anyway, tomorrow is the Great Winter Run in Edinburgh, Second Born has been getting slightly cold feet at the prospect of running entirely on his own, so please keep your fingers crossed for him. If he does run (and I seriously hope he does) I might even let him post his own race report here.

P.S. 13 comments! I am ridiculously excited by that! Thanks all for making a sad girl very happy!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Delurking Day!

In response to your question, Old Black: yes, I am signed up for the Great Edinburgh Run in May. Paid my money and everything so I am committed to training for it. My brother and sister-in-law who live in the Lake District are also coming up to Edinburgh to run it. My sister-in-law is apparently already running 6 miles at a time on the treadmill, so obviously I hate her. Well, okay, I don't hate her but I am already thinking up excuses for when I come in half an hour behind her in May.

A few of us at work are also toying with the idea of doing the half marathon version of the Moonwalk this year. Haven't decided for certain yet - the idea of paying £40 or so to walk 13 miles at night wearing a decorated bra still seems a bit odd, even if it is for charity. I'm told it's a great experience though so we may well take the plunge. I gather men can take part in it too (unlike the Race for Life) so I might be able to persuade Husband to participate (though I seriously doubt we would get him into a decorative undergarment!).

Finally, it would appear that today is National Delurking Day. Chris at Rude Cactus says so, so it must be true. I am nothing if not unoriginal....I mean, fashionable, so I'm joining in. If you read this, go on , leave a comment. Just a little tiny one. Even if it just says "Hi!" or "Your blog is rubbish. I'm off!" Humour me. That means you too, husband. I know you're out there.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Return of the slug/slog

The festive period has not been kind. I have put on, oh, about a stone or so from my lowest weight. Sigh. The good thing is I know what I have to do, I know I can do it, I know how to do it. I just need to do it.

With that in mind I went out for a short and horribly rubbish run on Sunday. Had to walk a fair bit in the last half and can't say I enjoyed much of it. I was, however, expecting that so didn't immediately dissolve in a puddle of lardy self-pity*. Just gritted my teeth (and challenged the lovely Cofffeedog to a "get your backside out there!" race.)

Today, I had to drive out to a town a few miles from Edinburgh to do battle with the Sheriff Clerk (the clerk of court wumman who deals with the paperwork) and on my way back I noticed that (a) it was nearly lunchtime and (b) I was virtually passing my gym. So I diverted in there and ran 30 minutes on the treadmill. Ve-e-ery slo-o-o-o-wly (mostly at 7.5kph) but steadily. I lost patience, as usual: by about 8 minutes in, I had to grit my teeth to get to 15 minutes, then promised myself I could stop if I wanted to once I got to 20 minutes, then I counted the minutes from 20 to 25 in 30 second increments, counting backwards from 10, and then once I got to 25 minutes I called myself a wuss for thinking of stopping with only 5 minutes to do. So I did the whole 30 minutes and then 5 minutes cool down. See the psychological intrigues I have to create to stop myself getting fed up and marching back to the showers? Creative genius, I tell you.

I only covered about 4km because of the slow speed but I am ignoring distance in favour of time on my feet for the present. I now have that pleasantly wobbly feeling in the muscles in my legs and a smug expression on my face.

And I weighed myself this morning (and before anyone else points it out, I know that weight fluctuates from day to day and you really should only weigh yourself once a week but I am a scales junkie and like to weigh myself ALL THE TIME. I just watch the overall trend but like checking in regularly.) Anyway as I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself, the scales said I had lost 2 pounds. Which probably isn't a real loss but made me feel good. So there.

* I'm sure this is a trademark Shauna Reid expression - I have just finished reading her book and it is just wonderful. My husband kept looking at me oddly for sniggering in bed whilst reading it. At least, I think it was for sniggering.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Ho hum.

Back to work. Yuck. I was just getting used to that lady of leisure malarkey. Well, as much of a lady of leisure as you can be with 2 small boys in the house. Which is not much, frankly. I came back into the office yesterday and started dealing with the mountain of mail under which, I believe, my desk is hiding.

The horror of the first day back was softened slightly by the fact that I did not have to run straight home at 5 to the children. The boys had been kidnapped by Granny and Grandad and taken to Livingston to stay the night. This benefits everyone: my parents didn't have to get up at the crack of sparrowfart this morning to drive to Edinburgh before we left for work; the boys got to stay with their grandparents and be spoiled rotten and my Dad had the unutterable joy of being dragged outdoors in sub-zero temperatures to build a snowman. Called Snowy, apparently. (Nice to see the kids are maintaining their penchant for descriptive names. Stuffed dog called Woofy. Stuffed rat called Ratty Guy. Stuffed buffalo called Horny. Stop sniggering in the back there).

Anyway, that meant husband and I were let off the leash so we went out for a meal and didn't get home till 8.30!! Then we sat until about 11pm trying to do Second Born's Rubik's cube. By following the instructions in the booklet. Because we are both nerdy and slightly pathetic. We were ridiculously pleased when we managed it - I could never do it when I was in my teens. Well, not without peeling all the wee stickers off and sticking them back on in the right order. Which I gather was considered cheating.

On the bright side, the week has been very short and it is now the weekend. Hopefully the horrible slushy snow will disappear and we will be able to get out and about a bit. And just to set you up for the weekend, a little reminder of summer.

That's our 15 (soon to be 16) year old cat and Second Born hanging out in our garden last summer. Just what I need to look at to remind me that we will get daylight and sunshine back eventually! Hope you all have a good weekend.

P.S. I am eating a chocodoodle as I type this!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Special Request

Okay, Coffeedog, this just proves that I am a sucker for flattery! Seriously, it is nice to know people somewhere are reading and apparently enjoying. What can I say. There are some strange people out there.

I cannot take credit for the creation of chocodoodles. They are a Nigella Lawson recipe. I love Nigella's books and her food. Cannot stand seeing her on television. She seems to be slowly turning into a ghastly hybrid of Jessica Rabbit and Jamie Oliver. If Jamie Oliver had had elocution lessons from Princess Michael of Kent. But reading her books makes my tummy rumble and I have never had a bad result from one of her recipes, so I will cut her some slack.

Anyway, the recipe:

225g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
100g plus 2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125g butter at room temp (I used dairy free marg because of First Born's allergies and it was fine)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon

Grease a couple of baking sheets and preheat oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4.

Sieve together the flour, cocoa, nutmeg, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a big bowl cream together the butter and 100g of sugar until it is light and creamy (duh!), then beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir all the dry ingredients in and mix till smooth. It will look a bit sticky but don't worry. On a plate, mix together the 2 tbsp of caster sugar and the cinnamon.

Now, pull off little balls of dough about walnut sized. Roll them around between your palms and then roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mix and arrange on the baking sheets. They don't spread out too much but leave them a little room to expand. You should get about 30 or so from the mix. Bake about 15 minutes, then let them sit for a minute on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool. They start off crispy outside and doughnut-y inside and after a day in an airtight tin, go a bit squishier.

Warning: may repel husbands. If you leave out the cocoa and up the flour to 250g, you get the non-chocolate version which Nigella calls Snickerdoodles for reasons I do not understand as they do not contain Snickers. Haven't tried those yet, but I might.

Now, Coffeedog - quid pro quo. You need to tell me in your next comment at least whether you are male or female and where you hail from. So I can imagine you enjoying your chocodoodles, of course. (I am just nosy, not stalkerish, honest!)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Ne'er Day

I am sitting here, having done my blog reading roundup, feeling full and satisfied and just about ready for bed, frankly. It is 9.30pm. I am a party animal.

We saw in the New Year last night in what is now becoming our traditional way. We all (including the children who had stayed up and were running on a potent mixture of sugar and adrenaline) wrapped up, met up with my sister-in-law and her partner (who live over the road) and walked the short distance to a road near our house. It is an unremarkable road but it does offer a great view, from the top of our hill, of the other hills of Edinburgh. The arrival of the New Year here is greeted with fireworks launched from each of Edinburgh's 7 hills and you can see 6 out of those 7 from this road.

First Born was wearing his earplugs, as he doesn't like loud noises, but he was really pretty okay once he got into it and the boys leaped up and down and cheered like mad. Second Born refused to give me a kiss and ran away when I tried to steal one. I thought I had another couple of years before that started, but it would appear not. We then wandered home in the traditional drizzle, husband first-footed our house and we picked up provisions to go over and first foot SIL. We didn't have any coal or black bun handy, so we took champagne and chocodoodles. I had made the chocodoodles myself and although not what you would call strictly traditional, everyone seemed pleased enough. Except husband who does not like chocodoodles. He believes chocolate and cinnamon do not mix. The boys and I beg to differ and it means more for us anyway.

By 1.30am we were ready for bed and off we went.

The first morning of 2008 then started on a lovely note with First Born coming to tell me that Second Born had been sick in the night, he was very sorry but could I come and deal with the aftermath? He was very apologetic, poor soul. That sugar/adrenaline combo is a bit volatile. As you may know, there is no job I hate more than cleaning up someone else's dinner after they have eaten it but he had had the good grace to miss his pillow, himself and all 182 cuddly toys who share his sleeping quarters. So a relatively quick cleanup, all things considered. And the year can only get better from there, right?

The day did indeed get better. For lunch I covered a leg of lamb in obscene amounts of garlic and rosemary and shoved it in the oven. It smelled GLORIOUS. Our house still smells of it. Local cars are navigating by it: "Yeah, just turn left at the house that reeks of garlic and rosemary, the one surrounded by the vague green fug...." You can probably smell it from where you are now. My Mum and Dad arrived from exotic Livingston to spend the day and we had a nice time playing a game Second Born got for Christmas (Rapidough - you have to model stuff and your team has to guess what it is. Ever tried making a credible astronaut out of playdough? Second Born outdid himself making a playdough handkerchief and then sneezing into it. I've never been able to get him to use a real hanky - maybe I need to send him to school with a pot of playdough in his shorts' pocket). My Mum, Second Born and I lost conclusively at that and then we ate chicken liver pate I made yesterday followed by lots of lovely lamb and roast potatoes cooked in the goose fat left over from Christmas. Yumm. My arteries may never forgive me but I don't care.

Mum and Dad went home and to avoid us all just passing out in a stodge-induced stupor, we went out for a quick walk. The children, in response to my constant warnings to watch out for dog poo on the pavements (I am paranoid about that) came up with the suggestion that dog poo should be luminous so you could see it better and avoid stepping in it. They reckon that dog food manufacturers should be made to put a glow-in-the-dark additive in there so we can see where not to step. Not a bad idea that. I think I will patent it and then by this time next year I will have retired on my fluorescent dog poo earnings. Achievable goals, that's the ticket.