Time Flies

I can’t believe that we are already on Wednesday and that I have not got round to writing my blog again this week. I also can’t believe that it is the middle of August already, where does the time go?

This week it will be my eldest daughter’s 21st birthday, the last milestone birthday of the year for us as a family. It has certainly been a year for milestone birthdays, with me being 50, my youngest being 18 and my eldest being 21. That certainly wasn’t planned in any way, but it has made for a very busy, exciting, if not slightly expensive year.

This week also sees the week, where my youngest daughter will receive her A Level results. She is not particularly concerned about this, as she does not wish to go to university and has already found herself a job, but I do feel for all those other students and parents out there, who are anxiously waiting to see what Thursday will bring.

Making Progress

Over the last couple of weeks I have felt really motivated to keep up with my running and also to keep on with the healthy eating. I certainly feel much better for it and feel that I am definitely making progress with my fitness.

On Tuesday I attended at my usual Slimming World class and it was the evening to award the “Woman of the Year”. The people who had been nominated talked about what had been the defining moment that brought them to lose weight and what a difference that it had made to their lives.

It was very inspiring to listen to their stories and very moving too. It certainly got me thinking about the difference losing a couple of stone and increasing my exercise has done for me. Interestingly, some of the women had no photos from when they started losing weight, which said a lot about the lack of confidence that you can have when you are overweight. I certainly felt that I didn’t want to appear on photos. I’m still not the most photogenic person , but don’t completely hate having my photo taken anymore.

Hopefully I’ll keep up the hard work and continue with the progress. I’ll let you know how I get on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on the good things in life

After all the sadness and unsettled feeling about the world in general, I am happy to say that I am feeling much more at peace with things this week.

A new life and new beginnings

I found out in the last couple of weeks that my lovely niece is pregnant with her first baby. She had had her first scan a couple of weeks ago and felt comfortable in sharing her good news with people. I am so happy for her and her partner and hope that everything goes well with the pregnancy.

It was also great earlier in the week when one of my lovely work colleagues brought his brand new baby son into work for everyone to see. He was a beautiful baby with lots of hair. Everyone was really pleased to see him and all the ladies wanted to have a little cuddle with him. It doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in the world, but a pregnancy or a  brand new baby always seems to bring such hope for the future. Who knows what these children will achieve in the future, or what the world may be like by the time they are adults, but for the present time they are safe and cared for by those who love them most.

A different new beginning

I was honoured to be invited to my friend’s retirement party yesterday. When I say retirement, he is only in his very early fifties, but has served with the Police for over 30 years. It was lovely to attend his celebration and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

One of the really great things was that quite a number of the people that were there had not seen me for quite a while and were very complimentary about how I looked. I guess when you see yourself on a day to day basis, you don’t realise how much you have changed over several months. Losing a couple of stones and growing my hair a bit longer certainly surprised some people and have to say that I felt very pleased with myself. Hopefully this will now spur me on to keep up with the healthy eating and exercise.

 

All together again

Another reason to be grateful this week is that we have our eldest daughter home from university for a visit and it is nice to be together again as a whole family. She is only here for a visit and will be returning to live in London to look for work, but it is nice to have her home for even a short time. Our youngest daughter starts her new job this week and has her final exam at school next week, so I guess that it is a new beginning for both of them.

New Challenges

Whilst I was tidying out the spare room I found a notebook with a list of things that I had hoped to achieve this year. Looking through it I was pleased to say that I have completed some of them and am on the way to completing others. I now need to think about new challenges for this year and also for the years to come. My friend wants me to complete a 10k run with her, which will be a challenge as I’m only just managing the whole of Parkrun, which is 5k. In a couple of weeks I am taking part in a 6k run in memory of Jo Cox and will also be singing with Batley Community Choir at the run (obviously not at the same time, I can’t actually speak when I run never mind sing!). We are also singing at a concert on 1st July in aid of Jo’s charities.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s my Blog?

As this was a Bank Holiday weekend, I did think that my blog might be a day late, but for some reason it’s actually two days late. It certainly feels like this will be one of those weeks when I am constantly on the wrong day. It certainly feels like it has been a long week. There was so much going on that it was sometimes hard to believe that it all happened in a week.

A sad day for Manchester

It was shocking to wake up on Tuesday and hear the news of the terrorist attack at the concert in Manchester. You could not help but be moved and feel great sadness for those involved. As the news unfolded during the day, there were some terribly sad scenes of people who had been injured and terrified when they should have been having a safe journey home after a great night out.

I think what was also extremely important to show, was all the good deeds that came from such a terrible incident. People who helped strangers, protected their own children and other people’s children, those who took drinks and staff for the emergency services and people who gave their time and skills for free.

Whatever is behind these terrible attacks, whether we apportion blame to the individuals, a particular group or whether we blame the government doesn’t really matter. It certainly doesn’t help those involved. However those good deeds, acts of random kindness, people doing the right thing, may help Manchester, the victims and other places, where terrible things have happened, to heal and move on.

The Play That Goes Wrong

On Friday night my husband and I went to the theatre to see “The Play That Goes Wrong”. I originally booked it as I was given theatre tokens as a gift, so I decided that I would book something that I wouldn’t normally go see. I am definitely a musical theatre fan and have only ever been to see a couple of plays. I have usually found them quite interesting, but I am definitely waiting for people to burst into a song and a dance at points.

However, this play was very different. It was so funny all the way through. there were no dull moments, or waiting for something to happen, it was full on from start to finish. It was very old fashioned physical comedy. There was no real swearing or smut involved, just the occasional double entendre. It was a really good night and my sides were aching when we left the theatre, from laughing so much.

A BBQ weekend

It was really nice over the weekend to be invited to a couple of barbeques. The fist was an invite from work and it was really nice to spend the afternoon in the sunshine, with a few of the people from work, having a laugh and chatting about things other than work.

On Sunday we went to my sister in laws for a barbeque. It was a lovely still afternoon and quite warm. We spent the afternoon chatting as a family and also being entertained by my niece’s five year old step son, who was a bundle of energy and kept us all on our toes.

Back on the plan

I started back on the healthy eating this week and felt much better for it. I’ve also carried on walking and doing a bit of running, so certainly feel back in the swing of things. On Saturday I went to park run, but did a different one to the one that I usually do. It was a really lovely run in Oakwell Country Park. We used to go there a lot when the girls were younger. The grounds there are beautiful and it makes me realise how many lovely places there are that are so close to home that we get out of the habit of visiting.

 

 

First week back

Sometimes the first week back after your holidays is really difficult. It can be hard to get motivated, you can feel a bit low, or have the holiday blues. Although I was jet lagged initially when I returned home, it has actually been a good week.

And the winner is

On Friday night I attended an awards ceremony at work as I had been nominated for an award. I’m not really an awards kind of person, as I become quite embarrassed and uncomfortable with being praised. This sound a bit weird, but I am quite happy going along doing what I do.

I did feel quite honoured and proud. The nomination was for my work with vulnerable victims. The evening was quite a splendid affair, with dinner and drinks. It reminded me of the BAFTAS or Oscars, where the nominations are shown on a video clip and then the winner is announced on the opening of an envelope.

I didn’t win the award, but it was lovely to be nominated and to hear positive stories about work, rather than the day to day moaning and griping about things, which I am as guilty of as anyone.

A sense of achievement

Yesterday two of my friends and I attended and took part in the Moonwalk in London, in aid of Breast Cancer Charities. My lovely friend has fought a very courageous and dignified battle with breast cancer and I was honoured when she asked me to take part in the walk.

So last Sunday we set about decorating our bras, as the idea is that you complete the walk in a bra. The decorating took most of Sunday, but our team was called “The blue light brigade”, so we decorated the bras in blue sequins, diamante, blue feathers and flashing blue lights.

The walk last night was amazing. the organisation was unbelievable and to see thousands of like minded people all walking together was inspirational. There were hundreds of volunteers who assisted by giving out water, serving food, selling merchandise, directing people, picking up litter and cheering the walkers along as they continued around the route.

The walk was 26 miles around London, through the night. It felt like a long way (well I guess it was!) and it was hard work on the feet, but we kept going. the weather was generally kind to us, being quite mild with only a few showers of rain.

We managed to complete the walk in 9 hours and 18 minutes, which was well within the target that we had set ourselves of between 8 and 10 hours.

It was quite emotional coming over the finishing line, both because of the reason we were there, but also because of the sense of pride in such a great achievement. After a short rest and a cup of tea, we got back on the tube to Kings Cross, then had something to eat before getting back on the train home. Needless to say we slept quite a bit on the train home, but we all arrived safely barring a few aches and pains and blisters. The really great thing is that we have raised over £1000 too, so thank you to all our friends and family who donated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Dreaming (1)

A long journey but worth it

After many months of planning we arrived safely in San Francisco at about 5pm local time, which was 3am British time. We were all feeling a little weary, but once we’d got to the hotel and checked in we decided to keep going until a “normal” bedtime.

Our first venture out was to Fisherman’s Wharf (all down hill). We had a wander round, then called at Boudin for something to eat. I had soup in a roll (soup and a roll will never be the same again). By this time we had reached our tiredness limit and walked back up to he hotel. Obviously this was all up hill, and boy are they big hills! However we made it all the way back, with a slight detour due to tiredness and poor map reading skills.

We were staying at the Fairmont, which is quite a swanky hotel. It is a bit old-worldly and reminds me of the hotels you see in black and white films. After a lovely warm shower, I got into what felt like the worlds comfiest bed and slept until 6am

Big bus tour, micro climate and lovely food

Our first day started with the sun shining and with a walk in the opposite direction towards Union Square, calling in for breakfast at The Cable Car Cafe. The food was great. I had scrambled eggs, potatoes and toast and a lovely cup of tea.

Our next stop was to pick up The Big Bus Tour at Union Square. The tour took about 2 1/2 hours and covers a large area of San Francisco with a pre recorded commentary. There was so much to see. Of course we sat on the open top of the bus. It was initially warm but going overGolden Gate Bridge the wind picked up and it was decidedly chilly. However we braved it and it was worth it to see all the amazing sites on offer.

There are some very pretty areas and some interesting sites Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge and the hippy area are great to see.

However, here like most major cities there is a massive divide between the rich and poor. The many homeless wander pushing their trollies but not really bothering anyone. It certainly makes you appreciate how lucky you are.

Another hilly walk

After the bus tour we alked along pier 39, which was bustling with people and the sun was out. There are some great quirky shops and eateries and a combination of tempting smells.

The seals that lay in the sun at pier 39 are amusing to watch. I knew that they had seals there, but didn’t appreciate how many there would be.

Our next stop was another walk to the top of Lombard Street which then leads to the curviest steepest street you will ever see. It’s great for a photo opportunity and to watch the drivers making their way down the hill slowly. I for one was glad that I was walking down not driving.

At this point hunger was calling and we stopped at a lovely bar called Jack’s Cannery Bar. Sitting out in the sunshine having a cold drink and a crab salad chatting and a thing the world go by- You can’t beat it!

A chilly evening tour

Our evening took us back on The Big Bus for the evening tour. It was breezy and cold, but we expected that so we’re well prepared. This tour took us over Bay Bridge to Treasure Island and around some of the sites that we had seen during the day.

It was quite good, but as it was still daylight we didn’t get to see the city at night with all the lovely twinkly lights like I thought we would. Perhaps I  underestimated how late it would be when it came dark.

Our day ended in Louie’s Diner near Union Square. We were going to go to The Cheescake Factory but it was packed. The Diner was a 50’s style, like you see in the films and the food was great, so not at all disappointed that we didn’t make the Cheescake Factory.

After a warm bath I got into bed feeling that I’d had a great day. I’d walked 30000 steps and the equivalent of 139 flights of stairs!

Oh and by the way one site I never expected to see on the bay – naked cyclists. A group of middle aged, pale men Apparently it’s legal in California as long as you are wearing one item of clothing. Which explains why one was wearing socks and one was wearing a mask. I didn’t look for long enough to see what the others were wearing!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Fifty

 

So the party was last week, but on Wednesday I finally turned fifty this week. I can’t say that I really feel any different. I don’t look any different. The world is still turning, so I survived pretty well. When I started my blog in January, being fifty in April still seemed a long tome away, but now its here and yes I am 50!

The first Quarter

I feel that I have achieved quite a lot in the first quarter of this year and feel proud of myself. According to my Strava I have walked a total of 183 miles so far. I think that’s pretty good. I have lost almost 2 stones (1 stone 12 1/2 lbs to be precise). I have taken part in several park runs, including one in London, where I turned up on my own to run, without knowing anyone at all. I have completed a training qualification. Most of all, I have managed to write a blog each Sunday and find something interesting to put in it. All in all a pretty good start to the year.

Easter Sunday

Toady was Easter day, which has always been an important day in our family. This year was a bit different, as my eldest daughter did not come home from university and my youngest had been out with friends and stayed over, so we did not see her until lunchtime.

My husband and I went to church. Part of me feels that this is something that I do out of habit these days. I have always gone to church and would have said that I have a strong faith. However these days I find myself questioning quite a lot of things that I have always believed (Maybe that’s a conversation for another day). However, today I enjoyed the service and also socialising with members of the congregation afterwards.

After church we had family at our house for Sunday lunch. This consisted of my mum and dad, in laws, a lovely lady from church who is a really good friend of the family and my sister in laws mum. When our youngest daughter came home for lunch it reduced our average age to about 70! After spending last weekend with all the young people, it was certainly different to have the older generation with us this weekend, but it was really lovely to sit and chat and for them to catch up with each other too.

Looking Forward

So what’s next? Well later this week my husband and I are setting off on holiday with friends. We are driving the Pacific Coast Road, starting in San Francisco and ending in San Diego. Like my party, it has been a long time in planning. As I write I haven’t started packing yet. I’ve bought a new suitcase and a pair of trousers, so tomorrow I definitely need to get organised and start sorting put some clothes and packing.

It is the longest time that we will have been away without our girls. It’s not like we are abandoning them, they are old enough to be left at home, but it will seem strange to have a long holiday without them.

My intention is to write a blog more often over the next couple of weeks, hopefully updating on our travels in California. Again I don’t know whether anyone will read it, but it will be a record for me of what we did each day, the sights that we have seen and any other interesting snippets along the way.

Shortly after I return I will then be taking part in the moonwalk in London, so sitting down on holiday for two weeks is not an option. I will definitely need to keep up walking some distances whilst I am away.

So hopefully I will write later in the week and let you know about my travels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking and Singing

Have a little patience

There were a couple of scary drives to work because of the weather this week. One day it was extremely windy and a few roads were blocked on the route due to fallen trees and flying debris. The second was a snowy morning. It had only just started snowing as I set off to work, but 45 minutes later as I was on the last hill up to work, I found that my car couldn’t quite make it and had to walk the last bit.

I was surprised with the impatience of other drivers on both days. Blasting your horn at someone who has had to change lanes due to the road being blocked (not me by the way), or driving extremely close to the back of the car in front because you think they’re going too slow (me, I hate driving in snow) doesn’t really help.

However it did make me think about the way I react in some situations. Sometimes I am impatient and get irritated at things that don’t quite go my way. I realise that this doesn’t help anything and quite often makes situations worse. So in the coming week my aim is to be a little more tolerant and have a bit more patience.

Walking with a purpose

I have been persuaded to enter the Moon Walk in London in May. this is a 26 mile walk, during the night, in my bra! This is for “walk the walk”, which donates money to breast cancer charities. I am walking with my friend, who is recovering from breast cancer. This has now given a purpose to my walking and an added incentive to keeping fit. Hopefully by May I will feel confident in wearing my bra in front of thousands of people.

Last year my friends and I walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks for a local children’s hospice. It was a horrendously rainy day and I’m not the fittest person, but with the encouragement of my husband and my friends I completed the walk. For some this may seem like a small achievement, but knowing that I had not given in and the fact that we had raised money for such a good cause made me feel great for weeks afterwards.  I proved to myself that if I set my mind to it I can achieve anything.

The joy of singing

I have returned to sing in my local community choir this week in Batley (#batleysings). I had to take a break for a while as my husband had an operation and was immobile for a while. I’m not saying that I’m a great singer (luckily I didn’t have to audition) and I can’t really read music, but I love singing. I have always been someone who sings in the car or when I’m at home on my own. I also love to listen to music if I am out walking on my own. I often sing along in my head, but sometimes find that I am actually singing out loud!

However, singing alongside other people and singing harmonies is a completely different thing. It certainly took me a while to work out how to sing one thing when someone sitting next to you is singing something else.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being able to sing with the choir. If you’ve never done it, I would encourage you to give it a go.

And now a shameless link to my fundraising page

http://wtwalk.org/moonwalklondon2017/claire-66

 

 

One week down

A good start to the year

So the first week of the new year has gone quite well. I’ve managed to stick to the healthy eating plan. I joined Slimming World as I know that this has worked for me in the past, but my staying power when the chips (or cakes) are down is not so good. I went for an induction at the local gym. My youngest daughter already goes there and she asked me to go with her, so this was a good incentive. I was also persuaded to join a local run together group and surprisingly really enjoyed running in the cold and dark. I’ve been out walking most days, so all in all a good start.

Now all I have to do is keep it up!

Writing the blog is certainly helping as it means that I have to be honest with myself about whether I have kept to my goals or not.

Still planning

Looking to the future, I’ve booked another week away for later in the year and am starting to plan some fundraising events. I’m also making more plans for my birthday party in April. When I first started planning it seemed such a long way away, but now it’s only three months which is pretty scary really.

A great family weekend

My niece had her engagement party this week. It was a really great night spent with friends and family. It was so lovely to see people of all different ages having a great time dancing, karaoke singing and generally laughing and chatting together. Whilst the “older” ones amongst us took a well earned rest from the festivities and sat chatting, we watched the young folks and conversation turned to how lucky we are that our children have grown up to be such pleasant individuals and that we should be really proud of them. Despite us all having our moments of doubt, worry and frustration, they really are a decent bunch of young people. Although my friend did make the point that “that’s us, we did that” and I guess she’s right.

Time moves on

I had a fleeting visit from our eldest daughter who came home overnight to celebrate with the family for my niece’s engagement. It was lovely to have her home, but strangely  it’s quite normal for her not to be there anymore. It’s been over two years since my husband and I left her in the student halls and I went into work the next day and sobbed my heart out. Now I can wave her goodbye on the train and drive home without crying. I guess that’s progress! I may however take a small step backwards when our youngest daughter decides to leave too.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 – The year I am fifty

Just like millions of other people at this time of year, as New Years Eve approached,  I started to think about what resolutions I should make for the New Year. And, just as I have done for many years I know that I will make them and break them within a matter of days, if not sooner. So why should this year be any different?

This year I will be 50!

It’s hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday that I was running around after my two young daughters, then suddenly I turned around and there they were, women in their own right, with their own dreams and aspirations, their lives stretching ahead of them. I must admit that I panicked at first. I love my husband to death, but I did wonder what would happen when we were on our own. I never had any doubts that we have a strong relationship, but could it pass the “empty nest” test? At the moment only one has left and is in third year at University and will probably not return. The other is in the last year of sixth form, making decisions about her future.

My husband and I have already started to enjoy the freedom that grown up children bring. Having holidays and weekends away without children was pretty new to us.  I’m positive that as I head towards 50 our lives will not be the same.  Not worse, not better, just different. He’s already 50, by the way and seems undaunted by the fact.

Reflections on years gone by

I think I am very blessed.  As I have said already I have a lovely husband (almost 26 years married) and two beautiful daughters (no bias there at all). I have had a stable job for almost 27 years and could officially retire in 3 years. I think I’ve been a sensible (some would say boring!) person, but have enjoyed life, not taken too many risks and always tried to do the right thing. Planning the things I was going to do when I retire kept me looking to the future and got me out of bed on a morning.

Things changed over the last year or so. Just after Christmas 2015, very suddenly, I lost a close friend who was a year younger than me. Another close friend was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards. I decided that “when I retire” was no longer the time to do things, but that I should do them now.

Here’s to the future

So as I head towards 50 I started to think about the things that I could do this year to make a difference to my life and possibly to others too. I wanted different resolutions. I still need to lose weight, get fit and all those other things that I promise myself every year, but I wanted this year to be special.

I was chatting to my brother who has recently published two books and I jokingly said “I think I’ll write a book”. He suggested I write a blog and promised me it would be easy.

So this it the first of my resolutions – To write a blog. No one may ever read it, but at least I’ll have a record of what I achieved. It also means I’ll have to make sure that my life is interesting enough to have something to write about.

I already have some holiday and travel plans (watch this space) and am planning a big party for my 50th Birthday, which is in April.

Why “50 the musical”

Well I love musical theatre! I always say that if I won the lottery I would spend the money just going to the theatre. I would see all those musicals that I haven’t had the time or money to see yet.

I like to think that setting my 50th year to music and dance would make it more exciting! I’m not sure who is going to play the part of me as yet, I’ll give it some thought.

Of course I’ll be seeing some musicals this year and no doubt telling you all about them in my blog.