About Me

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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Fitness - what's improved & what still needs work as I hit 50!

Not long now until we enter 2017 - the year I get to celebrate my 50th birthday.   I'm hoping to be a fitter, slimmer and healthier version so here's some observations on where I am and what needs working on.

When I first started at Boxercise I could barely do a single burpee, in fact because of the shinsplint situation I had to go to the lowest impact I could.   Two years later I can now do about 15 without stopping, proper ones, although by the time we get to 10 it ain't pretty and form goes out the window so I'd like to improve that next year.

Mountain climbers make me want to puke.    I can do about 8 each rep but my stomach starts to talking to my head and then I can't do any more.   Would be nice to get to 10.

Push ups are still a major fail - I'd really hoped I would be off my knees this year but it just isn't happening.  I'll keep trying in the hope that 2017 will see me on my toes for at least 1 full push up.   I've also got to perfect tricep push ups,   They're getting better (on my knees).

Claire introduced us to Turkish Get Ups at Kettlebells last week - that definitely needs work.   I can't even get it right without the weight, let alone adding a kettlebell.

I've started to swing a heavier bell - I started on 4kg but a few weeks ago I picked up a 5kg and used that for some moves.   4kg is too low for some of the presses, although add in lots of repetitions and the muscles are screaming.

More core work, sometimes I struggle with my balance but I'm not sure whether some of that is down to my feet and the overpronation.   Even if my core is engaged I'm still wobbling all over the place and my foot is overworking!!

One the bike hill climbing has improved slightly.   I'm less likely to get off unless I totally miscalculate.   Cycling in the Grampians (Australia) this year taught me quite a lot, although grinding up a mountain is a bit different to some of the short, sharp hills in Sussex.   Visualising the smell of the eucalyptus in the early morning sun helps.  I've just found out this visualisation also helps to reduce my blood pressure - even though the nurse taking it thought a little strange!

Good luck to everyone in 2017 - thanks for reading during the last year.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

2016 - What A Year!

2016 will certainly be one to remember - I wonder whether 2017 will match it.

We kicked off the year with our 3 week trip to the land of Aus which certainly didn't disappoint.  Wish we done it earlier and had Danni with us but circumstances got in the way.  It certainly was a trip of a lifetime and we will certainly be going back to see some more!  Have a look back through the #AussieAdventure to see what we got up.    Everyone asks me what was the one single highlight - I suppose it has to be climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge but honestly each element of the trip was a highlight - cycling in the Grampians, the wildlife, city life, the food, the wine (OMG the wine!), watching the Tour Down Under and seeing Richie Porte win at Willunga Hill.
The Bridge Climb

The Wine

The food

The Grampian Mountain cycling

The wildlife

Richie Porte smashing Willunga Hill, TDU

Spending 2 weeks with these gorgeous people
We've had some lovely Tribby Trips, even the ones with the dire weather.
My favourite view of the year - Canterbury C&C Club site
Tribby is more or less closed up now.  I've removed all the upholstery and soft furnishings and they're now piled up in the empty bedroom!

The Tribby trips have had an impact on the cycling, which is a massive frustration.   The weather has also had a major effect - it's either been too wet or too windy.  I have though increased my furthest distance which was a goal for this year.  My longest ride should've been the Davina Big Sussex Bike Ride but I didn't quite make that because of the weather.   My new distance is 54 miles (88 km) so maybe next year's Davina or another sportive will crack the 60 mile furthest distance I'd have preferred.
Safety talk by Davina herself

I was enjoying it - honest!  It had just started to spit with rain at this point

Had to give in and put on a waterproof jacket

This year saw me gain my cycling battle scars with my first road spill.
One chilly morning riding with Nik & Amanda

Ruined my expensive arm warmers

and ruined my right knee

The next morning

Feeling sorry for myself
Still smiling though - at the top of Bitch (The Dyke) Hill
Luckily not badly damaged but enough to make me wary of going out alone.   I've ridden more solo rides this year, including the 54 miler.  I've ridden up a mountain (in Australia), although you won't find it on Strava as I didn't have my tech with me!  I know if it's not on Strava it never happened, but I have the photo to prove it and the memory.

This year I've finally started to lose some of the 2.5 stone I gained by joining Slimming World.  Todate I've lost 13lb (just under a stone).  It's surprising what a difference those few pounds are making.  Sometimes it's hard to stay on plan, especially when we've been away in Tribby - I do like my treats like a glass or two of wine with dinner and a coffee and cake mid-morning.  Sometimes life has to be about living.   At least with Slimming World I know if I stick to the plan I can lose so I haven't beaten myself up if I've slipped for a couple of days.   The run up to Christmas could be difficult but I just have to be sensible.   Another stone at least to go - I'll be happy at 9 and a half!

2017 is building up to being an exciting year - with my 50th in April and Danni's 21st.  We've already booked a holiday that I've wanted to do many years.  Not as exciting as going to Australia but Crete has sat on the "to do" list for too many years.   Lots of plans coming together - walk the Samaria Gorge, the Palace of Knossos, enjoy the Greek food and we've even upgraded our room with our own swim up pool.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Giving Gousto a Go !

Have you ever looked at the adverts for Hello Fresh! and Gousto and thought "mmmm wonder if they're any good"?   I know I have, so when we were at the Cycle Show in Birmingham last month and there was a Gousto stand offering half price deals it didn't take long for us to say yes.

We set up our account there and then and chose our 3 meals for our first box, paid and walked away having booked our delivery for the following Saturday.   During the next week we planned when to have our various meals - one on the Saturday night, Sunday and then Wednesday.

There's no need to stay in for delivery so long as you have somewhere safe to leave the box, or with a neighbour.  I ended up staying in anyway - I was far too excited to go off out for the day.

Delivery is between 8am and 7pm by courier - mine arrived just before 6pm which was cutting it a bit fine in view of the fact we'd decided to have our first meal on delivery day!   The contents are packed in a sturdy box and inside is a plastic bag which contains sheep's wool together with a couple of large blocks of ice to keep everything cool.   You could re-use the sheep's wool bag but to be honest I didn't bother, and just chucked it in the bin.  The ice blocks went into the freezer for emergency use (replaces the frozen pea ice pack nicely).    A quick unpack and put everything where it needs to go.   I put all the fridge items together on a shelf and left everything else (spices, herbs, stock cubes, garlic and onion) in the cupboard, all together so they wouldn't get used for something else during the week.  Absolutely EVERYTHING is pre-weighed and labelled - if your meals require 3 cloves of garlic that's what you get!

We decided our first meal would be Mexican Pork & Black Bean Rice.  The recipe cards which come in the box are very detailed.  It tells you exactly what you need in picture form, how long it will take, nutrition information and what extras you will need - salt, pepper, cooking oil is not included.

 The step by step guide on the other side of the recipe card takes you through the preparation (very little apart from chopping and slicing) and then cooking, and before you know it you have dished up a delicious meal which looks something like the photo on the recipe card.   Sorry I'm no photographic expert, but it does kind of look something like it.

Portion sizes are generous, and all you need to add is a nice glass of wine and a pudding, although I was so full after I could only manage a small yogurt.

On Sunday we decided rather than having a roast we would have our second meal - Pork Belly, Lentils, Pea Shoots & Eggs.   Again, the recipe card is very detailed and advises you that you require a pestle & mortar, I didn't have one so adapted the end of my rolling pin in a small bowl to crush the fennel seeds.

 This was definitely a good choice for a Sunday lunch.

We left our final meal until mid-week due to Shaun's shifts and he wanted to have a go at cooking the meal by itself whilst I took Danni for her weekly food shop.   Shaun is a "chuck it all in a pan, season as you go, and if it turns out edible it's a bonus" kind of cook.  He usually gets it right, but really struggles with recipes.  He did very well and produced a very tasty Feta Stuffed Courgette & Spicy Yogurt for Wednesday's evening meal.  I made a bit of a mistake and chucked all the spice in the yogurt, even though the recipe card warns you to go easy if you don't like it hot!  Oops!

All in all we really enjoyed our week of alternative meals.  I absolutely love the fact that absolutely EVERYTHING is weighed out and the recipe cards are so detailed you really can't go wrong.  There is no waste - unless you can't finish the meal.  Everything is home grown - so you shouldn't get anything which is "out of season" and the meat, yogurt and cheese all had good use by dates on them so you're not rushing to use the ingredients.  I managed to convert everything to record on Slimming World and you get to keep the recipe cards so you can make the recipes again by buying your own ingredients.

Our Gousto account is currently frozen so we won't get anything else until we subscribe.  You can order as often as you like.   You can order 2, 3 or 4 meals, for 2 people or a family of up to 5 (2 adults & up to 3 children) at what I consider to be a very reasonable cost.   I think we're going to have a box once a month.

Please note no monetary gain has been made from this post.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Our Baby has Flown the Nest & A Tribby Trip

During our recent road trip there were frantic phone calls from Danni who had viewed a flat with her boyfriend.  By the time we'd got home they were signed up and ready to move in as soon as they got back from the Gran Canarian holiday on 20th September.  While they were away I gradually started to pack her stuff up.  When they got back from their holiday they began moving into the flat - a week later they're pretty much settled in, just a few items left to go like a fridge freezer and a washing machine.  In the meantime all the washing is coming home - luckily they're only 10 minutes walk away.  Oh, and they have no internet at the moment so anything web based has to be done at ours too.

It doesn't feel like she's moved out yet, guess that will come when she's only coming back to visit.  The nice thing is that now she's in the flat I don't have to lay awake at night waiting for her to come home, or for a phone call to say she's staying at the boyfriend's.   Obviously we do worry about how they're going to afford it, but they've been doing their sums for what seems like ages so we just have to sit back and hope it all goes ok.   She's back to Uni now for the 2nd year of her Psychology/Criminology degree.

Last weekend Shaun and I headed to the West Midlands for the Cycle Show at the NEC.   We dropped Archie at my parents for the weekend and drove to Halesowen where we'd booked a pitch at the Caravan & Camping Club Site Clent Hills.   A lovely site not far from the M5 surrounded by countryside.  It was very peaceful.   On Saturday morning we drove to the NEC for the cycle show.  No problem parking Tribby in the general car park - I had emailed them to check beforehand!  The car park staff directed us to a special area so we had plenty of space around us.

The bike show was pretty much as expected - a LOT of lovely bikes to drool over, some lovely kit and some non-bike related stuff.  We also got the chance to see the Boardman bikes used by the Brownlee brothers and Chris Boardman's hour record bike from the 90's

We were a bit disappointed that there were no freebies - at the London show a couple of years ago we had loads of trial cleaners, lubes and other stuff.    It was also disappointing that all the cycling heroes were at the show on the Friday, but we later found out that it was Trott /Kenny wedding on the Saturday so may be why!

Shaun signed me up for a bike breakdown insurance - 3 recoveries in a year for a tenner!   Will make me more confident about going out on my own over the next 12 months knowing that if I have any kind of issue and I'm far from home I can ring Green Flag and get taken home.   We didn't really buy very much, a pair of gloves each, a cap for Shaun and arm warmers for me (my nice ones were wrecked during the fall earlier in the year) and some cycling tshirts from Saddle Rags.

We also signed up for Gousto boxes at half the normal price (I'm blogging whilst waiting for the first box to arrive!)  I'll let you know how we got on with it next week when we've had our 3 meals.  It seems quite simple and if we don't like it we don't have to do anything to stop another box arriving.   I quite like the look of the whole scheme - let's face it I'll still have to go shopping for food and it means we get a nice mid-week treat instead of having to go out (although it would be nice to go out out).

 There were a lot of stands offering cycling holidays and cycle hire abroad - food for thought so we bought home loads of brochures.   We left the show at about 4.30pm and headed back to the campsite.   We were both really tired and whilst I was happy to cook dinner Shaun decided we'd stop off at a pub and have dinner there.   We spotted The Swallows Nest, a Vintage Inn pub not far from the campsite.   Highly recommended, the food was delicious.

It was a lovely weekend - and we've already planned to go back to Clent Hills next year for a little road trip.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

AWOL, A Lack of Cycling & Some Tribby Trips

Can't believe I haven't posted for more than 2 months - probably something to do with nothing to say!

We've done a couple of Tribby trips back to Graffham, mainly for a lazy weekend to recharge the batteries and for me to catch up on some reading.  I'm really struggling with the reading challenge I'm doing so some downtime with no distractions is great.

I haven't done much in the way of cycling - a handful of 10/11 mile out and backs to Seaford on Doris and I've tested 3 second hand bikes.  The first one was a Giant Liv commuter which has gone back to it's owner after Shaun did some work on it and she wanted it back.  It didn't fit me properly although it would've been great for going to work on occasionally.

a Fuji MTB (Flossie) which we've kept so I can go out with Shaun on some trails

and a Pendleton Initial road bike (Poppy).  

I really need to go a bit further on the Pendleton to test it properly before I decide if it's staying and it might need some alterations before it's properly comfortable.  I've also done some rides on Dawesy to and from boxercise classes in the summer evenings which has been quite pleasant.  I'm hoping to do the Pedal in Preston Park again next month so that will increase the mileage for the year a bit.

We've just come back from our 2016 Tribby road trip - I used up 4 of my precious annual leave days for a week over the Bank Holiday.

Saturday 27th August - Newhaven to Salisbury

Salisbury Club Site is by far one of our favourites and it was great to return.   We got up early to hopefully miss most of the Bank Holiday traffic.  We knew where we could park up until 1pm so when we arrived mid-morning we were able to take a walk into the City.  There is a lovely market on a Saturday so we headed there to buy some food for the next few days.   We checked in at the site at 1pm and spent the afternoon watching a thunderstorm roll in over the valley.

Sunday 28th August - Salisbury

 Woke up to rubbish weather so had a late breakfast and then walked back into the city.   We stopped at the George & Dragon as they were holding a cider festival, and then decided to stop and have Sunday lunch.   We can thoroughly recommend the George & Dragon - the food is excellent and they are dog friendly, which Archie was very impressed about.   When we got back to the campsite Shaun went out on to Hudsons Field to fly his kite and walked Archie up to Old Sarum.

Monday 29th August - Salisbury

Much better weather wise today.   Shaun walked Archie the long way round to the City and I wandered in on my own to do some shopping.   I was almost at the cathedral when Shaun rang me to say he was almost at the George & Dragon and we should meet for a drink!

 Tuesday 30th August - Salisbury to Corfe Castle

Up and off the site by 11am - we didn't realise how busy it would be as the Dorset Steam Fair was packing up after the weekend.   The traffic through and out of Blandford was horrendous and it took us a couple of hours to get to Corfe.  We did stop to get some shopping as there were no local supermarkets near Corfe Castle.  It also didn't help that Shaun hadn't set up the GPS correctly and it took us the wrong way (read very narrow country lanes).   The hardstanding we were placed on was fairly level but unfortunately it was right by the children's play area.

We'd arranged to meet some friends  at the New Inn, Church Knowle  for dinner.   It was only about a 20 minute walk over the hills to the village from the site.  We had a lovely meal and spent the evening chatting.  It was lovely to see Steve and Christine again, and we've arranged to meet at the Bike Show in Birmingham at the end of September.  When we got back to the site it was a very clear night and looking up into the stars you could see the Milky Way, which I can never recall seeing in the UK before!

Wednesday 31st August - Corfe Castle

Up and off site by 11am for our walk into Corfe which is along a lovely footpath from the site.

We had a walk around the village

and then went into the model village garden and had a cream tea (Shaun had a baguette).
We then walked down to the train station to buy our tickets for Thursday's trip to Swanage.  On the way back Shaun suggested a walk to Knowle Hill to see the view over to Poole

Thursday 1st September - day trip to Swanage

Chuffer train day - walked to Corfe to catch the steam train to Swanage.  Had a wander round the town, including a visit to Hayman's Bakery for a coffee.   Bought some Lardy cake for Shaun on the way back and a sponge & Fruit slice for me for later

Lovely day with some nice warm sunny weather.    Archie wasn't overly impressed with the train rides, especially the one coming in the opposite direction and the train whistle!

Friday 2nd September - Corfe Castle to Chichester

Up and on the road by 10.15am.  Transfer day to Chichester.   We only decided to go to Chichester because we thought it would be too far for Archie to do the whole Corfe back to home in one go.  Wish we hadn't - the weather was awful and the site has no atmosphere.  The only good thing was that we missed ALL the traffic from Chichester to home which according to the radio was awful too.

Saturday 3rd September - Chichester

Rained most of the day - didn't get out for a decent walk as I didn't feel well so stayed at Tribby and napped and read.

Sunday 4th September - Chichester to Home

Come Sunday morning we were pleased to be going home, although we wanted to carry on and have some more holiday.   We do love our Tribby trips, apart from when we pick the wrong site!   We won't be going there again.   Don't get me wrong, it's a very clean site and has all the facilities, just no life!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

What A Difference a Week Makes

Thanks to the ridiculous summer weather we had no choice but to abandon a Tribby weekend away last weekend, that and the fact that, despite the weather forecast, all our favourite local campsites were fully booked.  Instead we had a nice gentle weekend at home.

On Friday during the worst summer thunderstorm I've experienced in a while we went to our local motorhome dealer to look round some upgrades.  We're not thinking of jobbing Tribby in yet, but if the right one comes up then we might consider it.   We know what we want and what we need now - the main thing being a fixed bed.   I can't be doing the daily bed making up and dismantling forever, it's exhausting and takes ages once you've consumed a jug of Pimms or a bottle wine !!!

Saturday we spent being lazy!

Sunday was Father's Day.  We should really have gone up to visit the parents but lets face it Shaun is a dad too and he wanted to go for a ride, to make up for the previous weeks ride in view of the change in the weather!   So glad we did.   I didn't question where we were going, normally he just says "we'll see how we go" or "depends on whether you want a flat ride or a hilly ride".  I just went with the flow.   Turns out he wanted a hilly ride, setting out from home along to Seaford along National Cycling route 2, down the hill at Exceat, a quick left to Friston Forest and then on up (and up, and up, and up) to the Chapel Hill which takes you into Wilmington (yes that's where the Long Man is).  I've never done that route before but wow what a bastard that hill is - but the view reward at the top is just stunning (the photo doesn't actually do it justice - but it brought a lump to my throat).

Here I come!

Trying not to cry!

Our Green & Pleasant Land
Coffee & Quiche reward !

Not the fastest 30 mile ride but sometimes it has to be about enjoyment - and I actually got my new Garmin to track the whole ride!   I've saved it as a route so hopefully I can take myself out and do it alone ...... maybe !

This weekend we've spent visiting the folks making up for last weekend's selfish activities - weather's still atrocious!   Hopefully we'll be out on the bikes tomorrow!