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Training update!

February 20, 2015

So, I’ve had a Personal Trainer twice a week for the last six weeks. All in preparation for the big Coast to Coast walk in June. And i have tried to take on board everything she says. Even when I don’t know the evidence base for it; I’ve decided to simply put my trust in her methods, shut the fuck up and get on with it. So I am drinking only one cup of coffee a day, 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day (but NOT from a plastic bottle at work I hasten to add) and trying to eat more healthily. But her role is not to advise me as a dietician – my main goal is to be fitter and stronger and a nice side effect would be to lose weight but that’s not the focus.  The focus is on being able to do the coast to coast.

And I am feeling much fitter and stronger. And I am fitter and stronger. She’s given me a much more positive outlook on my capabilities. And helped me stop using my trapezius muscles for everything. And to try to find my core. And I particularly enjoy our outdoor sessions in the park. For the last two sessions I have actually looked forward to them. This is a new feeling. And yesterday we did the measurements to see how my body is changing. And I’d lost 6 pounds. Not much considering the fundamental change in eating habits I’ve undertaken (but not when I’m out or when there’s Sunday roast or a special occasion obviously), but she thinks it is fat loss rather than water as I’ve lost 8cm from my waist, 2 cm from each upper arm and 6 cm from each thigh. So hopefully I’m a tiny bit leaner and quite a bit fitter.

The test will come this weekend when hubby and I go away and are walking for a couple of days. He’s told me there’s no crying allowed this time. Let’s hope it’s smiles all the way and no snivelling silently. I’ll make sure I’m not crying aloud whatever happens.

Crab Bucket. Four stars.

February 14, 2015

After the opera a few weeks ago we repaired to the Opera Tavern where we chanced upon a lovely waitress. Easy conversationalist, bright, witty and fun. And sure enough she was a resting actress – but soon to start rehearsing for a play at waterloo east theatre. So we went last night.

i was put off by the blurb telling me the play ‘explores the issues surrounding young women in society today and how their apathy and sexuality can have a profound effect on the recognition of their place in the world around them.” And that the playwright was a man.

But I was really pleasantly surprised – it wasn’t a worthier-than-thou look at women pulling each other down, it was a poignant and funny take on the relationships between two sets of sisters and their friends, interwoven with classic fairytales. Our waitress was the bride to be at the hen weekend where the drama unfolds and she was great  – an ethereal dreamer and one who managed to shed real tears. Her supporting cast were equally believable – with sharp and pithy conversations and plenty of humour thrown in.

7 women, 80 minutes straight through and all for a tenner. I’ve no doubt we will see more of many of the cast so I’m doubly glad we caught them now. Four stars

Bull, the follow up to Cock which we didn’t see, is an uncomfortable hour. I didn’t like it. Found it hard going and fairly relentless. And was pissed off at the audience for laughing. But it’s good. I’m not sure I recognise the workplace politics it describes which seems to hark back to the 80s, but perhaps I am lucky with the people I work with or it’s because I’m freelance so am less encumbered by it all. Or perhaps it’s just that I’m not in a full on sales environment where the three employees are fighting for their jobs and waiting for the boss to come and decide which one of them will be ‘let go’.

As it’s so short, don’t read any more if you might go and see as it might spoil it for you.

It’s basically an extension of playground bullying dressed up as ‘a bit of fun’, ‘don’t take it personally’, and this time done as a two-pronged attack against the same victim. Sometimes direct, sometimes dressed up as caring, these two never let up. And sure enough the victim does himself no favours in front of the boss. The bullies are sharp suited, sharp tongued, confident and attractive. The victim overweight, sweaty, anxious. You expect a twist in the tale; for good to triumph over evil, for the stuffing to be knocked out of these cocksure cunts. I won’t spoil it for you completely.

Trafalgar studios returns  to its Whitehall theatre roots and plays farce. Which is not a genre I enjoy, but this revival of a 1960s play has one huge, mesmerising asset. James McAvoy in the starring role. He is utterly brilliant as the lunatic son now inheriting the family estate and title. One slight problem is he believes he is God and likes to be known as JC. He is wonderfully fey, languid and espousing that love is God. And he loves. He is physically so adept it is wonderful to watch him flit around the stage and jump up effortlessly on to his crucifix, or spend minutes walking on his haunches. Watching him made we want to see him do Shakespeare as he interprets text with such dexterity and ease I was completely bowled over. But of course the family plot to try to get him ousted and these caricatures are fairly dated and predictable, but not unenjoyable. His doctor returns him to ‘sanity’ whereupon he becomes the rabid immigrant-hating, selfish, old-boys-network-loving stereotypical toff looking out only for his own kind. And here too he plays this beautifully, with his previous madness bubbling under the surface and occasionally peeking through the cracks.

The play itself is too long, but there are plenty of laughs and it is worth seeing for his bravura performance. Three stars over all, but Five for Mr McAvoy.

A toast to absent friends

February 1, 2015

Last night we went to a Silver Wedding anniversary dinner. I still think that kind of thing belongs to my parents generation not ours, despite the fact we are coming up to our 27th. It just sounds so old. So settled. So near death. But then we are old. And I think I am perhaps turning that corner now where actually I see it more as being 25 with thirty years of experience rather than being in my fifties. But I digress.

This party was for friends whose wedding we went to all those years ago at the cricket ground in Canterbury. Although I have to be honest and tell you my memory of events is limited. And not because of alcohol, but because I was breastfeeding our middle one at the time who was four months old and hungry. Not being an ‘out and proud’ breastfeeder, and unable to do it discreetly, I spent most of the wedding locked away in a small room with her clamped to my bosom.

I missed my father’s speech (which will have been a highlight as he was a fabulous speaker and would have gone to lengths to try to make this one particularly good because it was for the daughter of my Mum’s best friend who had died some ten years previously and her husband only a year later.) However I did catch the groom’s speech which was fantastic. And last night he again stood up to say a few words but this time was heckled by his nearest and dearest throughout. It was a tough crowd last night!

We were in a gorgeous hotel in Oxford – the Old Parsonage – all Farrow and Ball, lovely textiles, great service, beautiful paintings everywhere. And we got a free upgrade so even better. Fifteen of us met for champagne and those conversations you have with people you haven’t seen for years and can’t quite remember their children’s names or ages. And the guests of honour were a couple in their eighties – they represented my parents and the brides’ parents as the wife was the final ‘gal’ in the triumvirate of our mothers who had lived together in Chester. And my goodness me they looked so well; nimble in both mind and body. Fantastic. I felt a pang for my parents and wished they were there.

We sat in our allocated seating and chose our meals and the wine and conversation flowed. The men moved round between the starter and the mains and we did a quiz about 1990 in pairs. I mention this for one reason only. Yes, you guessed it – the bride’s brother and I won. Whoop! I think it was getting the fact that Glasgow became the City of Culture is what clinched it for us; everyone else put Liverpool.

The cake!

The cake!

And then after the meal came a fabulous cake and the speeches. I do like the marking of an occasion with a speech or two. To take the opportunity to publicly thank or praise people. The happy couple both spoke as did their elder daughter. And, as my mother always said about my father, because he was forever up on his feet performing a speech or a poem, “There’s no show without Punch.” And in homage to his memory and wedding speech 25 years earlier, I delivered my Ode:

Ode on the Occasion of the Silver Wedding

 My father did the wedding speech

I’m afraid this won’t compare,

But speaking’s in my family

And so I’d like to share…

I’ve known this woman

All my life,

From well before she was

Richard’s wife

Our mothers met at Cambridge

Where hers studied and mine courted,

Became teachers both together

And a flat in Chester sorted.

 

And when they had their children,

Although living far apart,

We knew the Ansteys were like cousins

 Embedded in our hearts

I always loved her mother

The twinkle in her eye

Her warmth, her wit, her kindness

And a smile that lit the sky.

Her father was more serious

As Professor he was able

His favourite month was always May -

New British Rail timetable

But sadly both were snatched so young

When Ros was barely grown

Leaving her and Charles and young Louise

To grow up on their own

And just by then I think she’d met

Young Richard here – the charmer -

Her brother’s mate from College

His smile it did disarm her

They dated for a few years then

We thought they’d make it up the aisle

But no, their loving went on hold

As they thought they’d wait a while

For years it seemed they will – they won’t

Ros sometimes played the field

But then at last good sense prevailed and

Their marriage vows were sealed

And that was years and years ago

Twenty five to be exact

And here we are to celebrate

The survival of that pact

It’s no mean feat to get here

Marriage isn’t always fun

But you stuck it out through thick and thin

And tonight I’d say you’d won

You’ve won by having children

Who are cherished and adored

You’ve won by loving mutually

Who could ask for more?

 

You’ve won by sharing laughter

You’ve won by sharing tears

You’ve won by sharing history

For years and years and years.

 

You should be looking forward

The next innings of your troth

Another quarter century please

And happiness to you both

So charge your glasses – raise them high

Any drink will do-

And toast our love to both of them

Mr and Mrs Drew

Party party party

January 29, 2015

Party people

Party people

I love parties. I love the meeting old friends, meeting new people, eating, drinking, dancing. Love the positivity about parties. People want to have a good time. And if they don’t, they shouldn’t come. Hosts provide the venue, the guestlist, maybe food, maybe drink,maybe music – but partygoers have an obligation to bring their party spirit and get stuck in. And get stuck in we all did. We went to a 125th birthday party. Not one individual’s birthday obviously, but the combined ages of two friends.

And what a lovely party it was; friends and family in their open plan kitchen – mountains of food, fizz and a playlist that had everyone up on their feet. One of their children gave a lovely tribute, and both responded with their usual warmth and generosity. I, of course, churned out an Ode…

 

Ode on the Occasion of the 125th

So here we are all gathered round

To celebrate two dates

The birthdays of these two young pups,

Our fabulous two mates.

There’s Gerald, Mr Stevens,

Half English and half Mick

Brought up in lovely Twickenham,

But born in Hampton (Wick?)

And Julia, lovely Julia,

Half English and half Jock,

She couldn’t wait to leave old Kent

And don a nurse’s frock

Now Gerald loved adventure

‘Over the wall’ to overseas,

An economics graduate

He wandered as he pleased

Returned at last and set to work,

In computing – he adored

His universal knowledge makes

Him Ealing’s motherboard.

Meanwhile our lively Julia,

A student nurse at George’s

Spent most time dating different lads

She could – she’s bloody gorgeous

They were worlds apart but then one night

Nurse Mary thought she would

Take Gerald to a party and it

Changed their lives for good.

They met across a crowded room,

To the booming strains of Wham

He looked long and deep in to her eyes and

Said “I am your man.”

“But we’ve only met this evening,

There’s so much that is unknown”

But Gerald pulled her close and said

  He could fix her pleasure dome.

A whirlwind courtship then ensued

Engagement and a marriage

Bet Julia did the organising and

Gerald arranged a carriage

They moved to leafy Hanwell

In 1987

The same year the birth of Richard,

Their first joyous gift from heaven

Then Edward three years later,

And Bella number three

Their love and pride exemplified

In their perfect family.

They’ve always loved to socialise

Their friends are far and wide

Dinners, picnics, parties

Their arms are open wide

Julia is a stop out

Be it theatre, dance or bars

Whereas Gerald has much expertise

In doing up old cars

They are giving, they are thoughtful,

Their hearts are made of gold

So here’s to birthday 125

Who knew they were so old?

Please raise your glasses, sound a cheer,

Let the trumpets sound a herald,

A toast to two most magnificent folk,

Our Julia and our Gerald.

Line ‘em up barman!

January 22, 2015

Monday night we went to a Wine Society event in Merchant Taylor’s Hall in the City. A quiz – the format of which we were pretty much in the dark about, but assumed it would at least involve some tasting. And we were not let down. As hubby said “It’s not often you sit down with nine glasses of wine in front of each of you.”IMG_1502

ooh! 9 wines to go at!

ooh! 9 wines to go at!

Forty two teams of six (or five in our case due to last minute car crash -no serious injuries) all with these gleaming glasses of wine laid out in a beautiful triangle in front of each of us. And a proper amount in each glass. Not  miserly mouthful you get at tastings. No this was a full on glass of fizz and the others were a good few glugs each. Not that it helped us. We were pitiful in identifying the grapes, the country, the cost. But held our end up on the more random questions like “What’s the longest recorded flight of a champagne cork?” Actually we got that wrong (its 175 feet not the 125 we thought), but you get the idea; there were questions we at least had a chance of answering. And we did OK -17th, so just made it in to the top half of the table and we are all going to study hard and return next year and do better!

Being one member down we had 9 extra glasses of wine to share between the five of us and I bagged the champers somehow :). Old habits die hard. Then on to Jamie’s (much better food than the Westfield one) and home via Uber. A really fun night, well organised, fast paced and shedloads to drink. What’s not to love?

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