February 23, 2015
The headline says it all. The first walking test weekend went well. The weather was glorious and the walking not too arduous. Yes there were undulating hills over the Seven Sisters but we walked the 12+ miles relatively easily I thought and got back to the pub on the picturesque green in plenty of time for a bath before spending the evening rehydrating with alcohol and refuelling with carbs. The next day, after a fabulous full Sussex breakfast, we set off for a short stroll supposedly with magnificent views after a bit of a climb.
The walk turned out to be longer than planned due mainly to us being unable to decipher the description of where the walk actually started. The book was ambiguous, but eventually we decided to follow the numerous little old ladies who seemed to know where they were going. The going was soft. Squelchy in fact and a good test for the boots. My core didn’t let me down and I didn’t fall over at all, although I may have overbalanced a few times as I slid on the clay. Up to the Iron Age fortification and a panoramic view to the sea in one direction and the Downs in the other.
Then our guidebook again confused us and we ended up crawling over and under barbed wire fences, through crops and in to a heavily fenced area with numerous buildings in it. And huge signs saying it was private property and walkers had no right of way. So we strode through to the main road and had no idea which direction we needed to walk. The compass couldn’t help as we didn’t know where we were. There was no mobile signal. So we flagged a van driver down and asked him where the village was and went on our way. Probably had added a good couple of miles on to our intended four and a half mile expedition, but the torrential rain that was forecast didn’t appear until we were in the car heading home. Perfect timing.
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.
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
February 5, 2015
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.
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.
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
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