18 September 2014


I was shocked and saddened to hear this morning of the unexpected death of an old acquaintance. For some reason this news has quite shaken me more than I would expect. I've used the word acquaintance rather than friend as we hadn't kept in touch over the years so I guess that doesn't count as friends. We were never 'close' as such, but I saw him almost daily over a fair few years and had always liked him a lot.

I will remember this man as being one of those 'good' folks one meets in life. A dedicated professional who was eminently practical as well as being academically strong, he was a feet-on-the-ground, gently spoken but full of life, caring person with a dry sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye.

One of the things which has shocked me most was the realisation that he was so damn young. He'd not yet reached 50, which makes it somewhat hard to comprehend that he can actually be gone. It seems so very unfair that he'd had so short a time.

This sad news comes on top of a spate of none too positive news in the last week or so about other people (some of whom I do class as friends) who are pretty ill too. I guess this build up of 'bad' means I'm finding today a bit of a challenge and that black dog is sniffing around. So, time to stop and remind myself of what my darling Mum would have advised. That is to count my blessings.

Blessing No.1 - I have my health and I am lucky that I still have many of the people I love (my darling supportive and loving hubby and a super sister who I'll see very soon) around me.

Blessing No.2 - the sun is shining and the birds sang this morning.

Blessings No.3 onwards are manifold. I do know that, but just haven't quite got them straight in my head yet... However I will, because I know those blessings ARE there - I just need to see them properly.

Aristotle may have phrased things slightly differently when he said
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”
but the basic idea is the same.

For Becky at Skinny Dreaming, for me, and for many others too.

11 September 2014

Feeling girly...

Holy moly! At one time, I would not have said, or even thought to myself, that this fat lass was a particularly girly sort of critter. Instead I spent most of my formative years as one of those young 'ladies' who heartily eschewed all thoughts of make-up, 'fancy' clothing, high heels and hair-dos.

Indeed, I grew up as a classic tomboy, fighting my darling Mum every step of the way when she wanted her little girl in sweet little dresses, ribbons in her hair and lacy-topped short white socks. But in my world bruises, dirt, scabby knees and falling out of trees (I was great at climbing, rubbish at getting back down) were a more regular occurence... much to poor Mum's horror.

I dabbled briefly with a marginally more 'feminine' phase in my teens, but didn't really feel comfortable nor that it suited me and I certainly couldn't be fussed with all that hair-do messing about, nor make-up nonsense! So I firmly settled into being more of the rock-chick type, in hippyish bell-bottom jeans (that my darling despairing Dad used to say had been painted onto me!) and a ratty old tee-shirt... er, while I could still fit into such wondrous things, that is.

Then, as a fat lass adult (first fat, then growing steadily fatter), my main priority was to conceal my increasing bulk as far as was practical. I guess it was rather hard for me to begin to feel feminine when I thought that I closely resembled an object capable of sinking the Titanic.

So, sombre colours, shapeless tops and long skirts (well below those chubby knees please) were the norm for me back then. Disguise me please - so should I wear trousers? Nope - that was definitely a case of 'does my bum look big in this', so no fear! Then, let's slide around the perimeter of a room, speak and walk quietly, try to blend in to the wallpaper and don't attract anyone's gaze if you can avoid it. Bare skin? No way, Jose! Yes, 'draw no attention' became my motto and my mantra. And, as I didn't like 'me' and hid whenever possible it really didn't matter what my hair looked like, did it, so I left it long and straggly, and often chopped bits off it myself. You can imagine the result.

Roll forward to the present day, and there's been something of a revolution (and a fair degree of revelation, come to that). I sit here typing away in a flared, pale pinky-beige knee-length skirt, with a fitted short-sleeved tee-shirt (OK, I also have a little cardigan too as it's getting autumnal). My hair is neatly trimmed, and about to be even neater once I've seen my hairdresser. My shoes are neat - in fact, I now actually possess 'pretty' shoes with heels (although wearing them can kill my poor dodgy knee!). My toenails are nicely shaped, and often painted - most recently with a subtly pinky-lilac varnish. What's more, even though I still don't 'do' make-up, I had a manicure as a special treat a while ago... and liked it. Whatever is the world coming to, I ask myself.

So, here I am, not far short of 55 and, for the first time in my life, I find that I am capable of feeling girly and feminine. I'm comfortable enough in my skin that showing some of it (er, maybe not those very saggy bits if you please) doesn't really phase me.

This may sound odd, but the sheer sensory bliss of dabbing on a really nice perfume is something I now understand too - a bottle of scent isn't just something to grab and spray to mask any potential whiff of sweaty bodies. Ah yes, I was almost always, always, ALWAYS too darn hot when I was at my largest, and constantly terrified that I might sweat too badly and smell.

The other day, someone who's known me for ages, in both my larger and smaller days, asked me what I liked most about having shed a lot of weight, and my first reply (without a moment's thought) was the health improvements which it brought. Actually, I still stand by that and it is indeed THE most important thing.

But, d'you know, afterwards when she'd gone and I stopped and thought a bit more about it, I really quite like being able to walk out and about with my head held high as a girly sort of girl these days too.

02 September 2014

Wow, wow and wow a bit more!

Oh my, but our week in marvellous Madrid was just fabulous. To be honest, we both feel really privileged to have had such a great time.

We walked a helluva lot, as expected, and I rather wish we'd somehow kept track of just how much, but we didn't. In fact we barely touched the Metro (except for the trip back and forth to the airport) as the Spanish architecture is too good to miss and every barrio has it's own special character. Especially loved ethnic Lavapiés, and a good many other areas, though we were not quite so keen on slightly snooty Salamanca. But wherever we explored it was just too good not to walk and enjoy it. A shade hard on the feet (and knees), and pretty tiring too, but who cares, eh?

The weather was wonderful too - wall-to-wall blue skies and sunshine! It did get pretty hot (up to 37 degrees on one day) and it was very dry, so we enjoyed the sun but drank a load of water every day and every night... though apparently still nowhere near enough, to judge by the unexpectedly colourful wee!

We met some lovely people (particularly the two very kind and welcoming young men at Cafelito), and saw such a lot. Outstanding was the most amazing and superb works of art, dating from all periods - ancient and modern, in museums and galleries, as well as lots of street art. There's so much - we spent well over five hours in the Prado and still didn't get to see it all properly!

The beautiful parks and gardens and fountains everywhere were a real treat too... especially in the heat of the day when a lovely patch of green shade with the tinkling sound of cool water was most welcome. I was in my element too - lots of people with all sorts of dogs, so lots of doggie cuddles.

The food was mind-blowingly good, and my niggling concerns about staying LCHF while we were away were blown right out of the water. It was actually very simple, especially with so much to offer in the offal line, so we came back still in ketosis and without having gained an ounce - nice eh?

What did we eat? Well, it may not be everyone's cup of chai (or do I mean café con leche?), but we are both now addicted to orejas (glutinously gorgeous grilled pig's ears), callos a la Madrileña (tasty tripe, with scraps of pig's trotter, blood sausage or chorizo, and serrano ham, all in a wonderfully rich tomatoey sauce) and, best of all, crunchy and delicious zarajos (probably best described as 'intestine on a stick').

OK, holiday over so it's back to earth with a bump...now where in the UK can we find these delicacies and how do we learn to cook them at home...? If I find out I'll let you know.


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