Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Weight Loss While You Work!

Another two pounds lost with the home of the free myfitnesspal  food and exercise log!   This method really does work for me.  Remember when I talked about tallying up my calorie count to see if I could have a pudding?  Well, there was another day where I'd blown out a bit at work and had to exercise hard before I had enough calories left for rather a meagre supper!

There's another upside to this diet business.  My house is looking more spick and span than usual because, instead of forking out on gym membership, I'm counting exercise as housework alongside the cycling,swimming and walking.  Oh, there was a rather half hearted jog too rendered less vigourous than intended as I'd forgotten to wear my new sports bra!

So back to the chores and how much energy is burned whilst doing them.  It depends on your weight and, of course the effort expended but a swift reccie around the web suggests that cleaning uses about 200 calories an hour, using my manual lawnmower burns up a whopping 325 calories every sixty minutes  and even something relative namby pamby like ironing uses about 100 calories hourly.  Further evidence comes from our forebears. The good old fashioned man tending housewife 50 years ago was much more trim than her counterpart today and she didn't go to the gym or attempt to knock her eyes out whilst breaking sweat in unsuitable underwear!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Just a Quickie...

...as I've been sorting out boring stuff like insurance this morning. It needs to be done for tomorrow I'll be a homeowner again!  But just so you lot out there don't feel neglected I'm sharing this rather wonderful chandelier that I stumbled upon.  It's made out of test tubes and the clever thing is that it can be customised and each glass container filled to satisfy a myriad of tastes! And I'm not normally a chandelier kind of gal.  Check out the Etsy shop of Pani Jurek if you are in the market for a new lighting source or fancy knocking up something similiar for yourself.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Definitely Dangerous Toy of the 1950s

Photo: ORAU.org
In researching my rather good (though I say so myself!) post about the everyday dangers confronting a child in the 1970s, I came across this 'must have' toy from the 1950s. I have to say, at this point, that I was not a girlie little girl.  Yes, I had dollies but used them for dark purposes beyond what their manufacturers might have .  My sweet baby with her blond hair and long lashes was not cuddled, swaddled and mothered in a conventional sense. No, I drew a flower around her 'weeing hole' and she made a rather good water pistol. What would an educational psychologist thought of that?  And the dolls house was not lovingly furnished with tiny items made of matchboxes.  I got bored with that in twenty minutes flat.  Instead it was the storehouse for all my potions, made from common household chemicals.

So, it will not come as a surprise  if I say my tomboy younger self would have loved one of this kits and probably have found novel uses for the 'real' radioactive material that it contained.  Miniature atomic bombs for use when my siblings hacked me off perhaps.  Sadly they were only available from 1951-52.  The reason is not explained.  Perhaps the rather angelic boy on the box developed a third eye!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Clean As A Whistle

In these modern times decluttering doesn't just apply to objects in the physical realm.  We have a virtual realm too.  Wow!  Imagine if you'd have said that thirty years ago.  The listener would have thought a) you were highly spiritual or b) darn right potty with knobs on.

I might have mentioned in the past that, by assessing the level of chaos and disorder around me, even a casual observed can gain a pretty good idea of what's going on in my head.  Spin and span?  All is well in the Lovelygrey noggin whereas when the opposite applies it's a good predictor that I'm more troubled.  Interestingly this is a chicken and egg scenario.  Mess makes me muddled and muddle makes me messy.

With that here's some techniques that I use when compos mentis that are useful in retaining inward and outward order.  I try and catch up on these after I've gone through a spell when my mind is less sound!

  • Observe how clean, shiny and uncluttered my inbox is.  I keep it that way so I can easily see new stuff that I have to act on.
  • I've amalgamated my email so that all the stuff from my different accounts goes into one box....except that is NHS mail.
  • I unsubscribe from stuff I've picked up accidentally on the way, try to act on important stuff immediately and transfer other bits and pieces to the files I've set up on the right of my mail screen.
  • The current file is for stuff that I can't act on immediately or for things where I need to check that something that I think is going to happen will happen.  It's where I keep invoices for things that I've bought until the postie's delivered them to Lovelygrey Cottage.  I'll delete this stuff after I've acted upon it or save it somewhere else.
  • I try to remember to label photos that I download from my camera so that I can find them by subject again.
  • I set up files for documents and am in the process of moving them to Google Drive so that they can be accessed from anywhere.
  • My desktop isn't cluttered up with icons, the hi-tech equivalent of dirty coffee cups and piles of paper on a traditional workspace.
  • I keep a check on those Facebook Apps that I've somehow subscribed to which camouflage more interesting posts from my friends and delete those I don't want or need anymore. 
  • I label my blog posts so that I can refer to my earlier ones when I need to.
There! That's my virtual world sorted out.  Now let's come back to reality and sort out that very real pile of ironing in the corner of the room!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Oh! I Forgot To Tell You.....

.....in amongst all the other stuff that's been keeping me busy, I'm just one step away from buying a house!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Can I Have Pudding?

Here's my ultimate dessert dream from childhood, an illustration from The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary, a very well thumbed volume from my early years and still available now.  This funny clever book would be an ideal gift for the little peeps in your life.  But enough of the free advertising that will benefit the beneficiaries of the estate of my beloved and dearly departed Dr Seuss, today's subject is puddings!

I'm being remarkably good at recording both my food intake and exercise onto the myfitnesspal website even on the days where my calorie intake goes horrifically over allowance.  On Monday I had a incy wincy blowout and was told, in no uncertain terms, that if I continued eating like this on a day to day basis I'd be four pounds over my starting weight in five weeks!  Sobering stuff that put me back on track.

In order to eat a little more I'm upping the exercise.  Yesterday was a good day. Ninety minutes of exercise and half hour of swimming meant that I could pretty well eat what I liked during the day and keep within target.  There was a piece of lemon drizzle cake at lunchtime and I added a serving of hash browns to last night's tea of pan fried venison and vegetables.   After my culinary blow out I totted up my day's total calories and was surprised to find that there was 209 calories remaining.  Enough for dessert but not on the gargantuan scale of this little bear's ice cream cone!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Give Something Away Today!

I didn't know what to blog about today and contemplated merely commenting about how the weather is at the moment.  Not too hot, not too cold, uncharacteristically dry!  But I can do better than that so I decided to scour the Worldy Widey Web for inspiration.  God bless the power of being able to access nearly unlimited information.  It took just minutes to find some!

Do you fancy releasing some endorphins to bathe your brain in a vat of well-being?  Well, I've found out from the Action for Happiness website that  you're more likely to be perked up by giving money away than spending it on yourselves.   A bit of further delving around and I discovered a TED talk by one of the people who did the original research.  If you have a spare ten minutes, it's well worth a watch.

So the challenge is on.  Go forth and spend, spend, spend today.  For after all you're worth it! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Toasted Linguine with Wild Garlic

Eeeeek!  Something went wrong during my cookery photoshoot last night.  I thought I'd photographed my completed dish but it's disappeared into the ether without trace, ne'er to be seen again.  Never mind!  Instead I'll have to show you somey arty shots of the raw ingredients of yesterday evening's tea.

It's the time of  year when wild garlic abounds and it's one of those ingredients where its addition to a cheffy dish would instantly mean a bigger price tag for its seasonality and  because its name contains the trendy 'W' word.
The wild green stuff was everywhere on our walk around Lydford Gorge  and rather than laying bare an entire patch of a National Trust beauty spot I picked a few leaves here and there.    I also made use of great clumps of the stuff that had been wrenched up by someone else.  Why do people do things like that?

And so onto finding a recipe in which to use my treasured foraging bounty.  I've used it in a risotto before but wanted to find something different.  And then I remembered that a little while back I read a Guardian blog post by Sonya Kidney about livening up everyday cooking.  She suggested roasting spaghetti but didn't give instructions on how to do it.  So, I emailed the Guardian and a nice researcher gave me a sneak preview of  Toasted Linguine with Wild Garlic
I urge you all to go out with your hunter gathering hats on and get some wild garlic yourself.  You eat the leaves rather than the bulb so you don't have to yank it out of the soil.    Then follow the link  in the last paragraph to the recipe to save me duplicating some perfectly good instructions.  It seems like a pfaff and does use rather a lot of pans but the whole dish was prepared in just thirty minutes.

And that roasting,toasting pasta palaver    Ch-chink!  I know how it's done now.  Here's ordinary durum wheat linguine, after it's been coated with olive oil and browned on a baking tray for fifteen minutes, being put onto boil and soften in its second stage of cooking. As the cookery writers say it really does lend a nutty flavour to the pasta that will ring the changes in many other recipes.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Days Out in Devon: Lydford Gorge

I have well and truly failed my bloggy audience in England and Wales!  Had I have been on the ball earlier I would have told you that, for the weekend that's just passed  by, you could have got a voucher from the Internet that allowed free access for four people to the vast majority of the National Trust's properties.  What can I say except that I'm truly sorry and I'll try and be more timely and remind you before the event, which seems to be an annual one, in 2014.

Being on speaking terms with my ex is jolly useful.  I managed to tell him about the deal so that he  could take Louis on an exploratory jaunt.  On Saturday, they headed off to  Saltram and spotted fifteen mice hidden around the house.  He loves a good puzzle, does my son.   It was only left to me to decide how I'd use my own voucher on Sunday. I considered Greenway, Agatha Christie's former abode on the banks of the Dart and Coleton Fishacre, an Arts and Craft style pad.  In the end I decided to forsake admiring old chairs, get some fresh air into my lungs and find a place where I could really impact on myfitnesspal calorie and exercise counting regime.  As an aside I'd like to proudly announce that I lost three pounds last week.

So we trooped across to the other side of Dartmoor from where we live with Mini Miss Wannamaker in tow. At this stage my son would like to stress that she is not his girlfriend, just a friend.  Those hormones have thankfully not quite kicked in yet.

The attraction consists of a three mile round walk with the 30m White Lady waterfall at one end and the Devil's Cauldron at t'other.  More on that in a moment.  In between there's an eerie landscape of greenery and slippery slidey rock that assaults the senses.    Kids need to wear waterproof footwear on a visit here.  The temptation to explore on the waterside boundaries is just too much.   Here's Louis at a point where the river seemed to boom. The kids said that it sounded like someone doing a poo.  If you visit perhaps you'd like to pick an alternative metaphor.

And so to the highlight of the visit, the Devil's Cauldron,that are the subject of a Mad Dog McRea song .  This series of wildly bubbling whirlpools is reached along a scary iron platform through dark rocky chasms carved out by water in the rocks.  We visited on a calm day but a picture in the information centre showed how ferociously that cauldron can bubble after rain.  The devil's work indeed!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I Survived the Seventies!

It's a small wonder that I made it through childhood and lived to celebrate my 18th birthday with a slap up meal of scampi and chips.  Here's are some of the life threatening hazards I encountered on the way to this landmark date.

The Cheesecutter:  Anxious modern day mums would immediately notice that there isn't a safe surface in sight.   The loading looks somewhat suspect and there's a distinct lack of parental supervision going on.  Check out the little fellow hanging off one end!  Add into the equation that about 50% of the kids hanging around on this particular piece of playground furniture were the bullies in their respective classes and you'll understand why recreation grounds were a latter day version of combat training.

Itching Powder: It was considered a right laugh in my day to  inflict a bit of contact dermatitis on your mates.  I understand commercial itching powder was made from powdered rosehips.  Resourceful and thrifty even in those days, I made my own budget version from the fibre glass insulation that I pulled through a hole in my classroom wall.

Bendy Toys:  Button eyes abounded in my day.  There wasn't this namby pamby rule banning excessively fluffy toys from the under threes.  In fact excessively hirsute bears were the least of a 1970's toddlers worries.  Once you'd munched your way through the foam body of Rupert, and maybe avoided a bit of toxic paint to boot, you'd have to be careful that you didn't poke out your eye on his exposed wire frame.

Sweet Cigarettes:  Just one way in which lifelong habits were fostered through play in my day!

Plasticraft:  Gifts containing toxic chemicals were gratefully received.  Here was my personal favourite which won the  'Toy of the Year' for 1972.  I remember it fondly but then my judgement is probably affected by the fact that I was so high on the plastic resin's toxic fumes.

Girl Guide Handywoman Badge: To earn this I rewired a plug, a job considered so dangerous these days that it is only the reserve of a qualified electrician.

Clackers:  What's there not to admire about a toy that, when used correctly, could trap fingers, give you a black eye and then shatter into a million pieces of acrylic shrapnel?  War zone training indeed!

Snorkel Parka:  A must have item of clothing for the 1970s lad.  He could lose himself in his thoughts snuggled in that  cosy head encompassing cocoon to the extent that he'd forget to take it off when crossing a road and get squished by a bus because his vision was obscured.

Tic-Tac:   Has the world gone so mad now that we can't see the  character building benefit of a toy set for teeny tinies containing real nails and hammer?  Just the thing that used to be found in every reception classes toy cupboard.

And finally forget that expensive factor 50 suntan lotion that we have to slather on our kids these days to avoid charges of neglect.  Mama Lovelygrey used to make her own out of malt vinegar and olive oil!

Saturday, 20 April 2013


I had planned to tidy my house and then cosy up and write my blog last night.  Yet again, my nineteen old self would have recoiled in horror if she knew that this was to be her destiny on a Friday evening twenty nine years on.  But then, my friend, the Pirate, called.  'Come out with me tonight' he suggested.  And so after grabbing an overnight bag I headed off  and had a great time in his local.  Nothing fancy mind.  Just a proper community pub filled with friendly punters of all ages.  It still would have left Miss Lovelygrey 1984 baulking.

And so I'm now back home with Friday mornings breakfast dishes still to deal with.  But it doesn't pay to be too rigid when there's an opportunity to do something different.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

That's What I Can Do With Them!

I'm on about the bed that collapsed again, a self modified futon that refused to defy the fundamental laws that govern the life, universe and Lovelygrey Cottage.  My new one, thank's very much for asking is very comfortable indeed now it's finally been assembled. So comfy in fact that, at this very moment, it's been used as my early morning home office in defiance of the sleep hygiene rules made up by an archaic sleep specialist.

I'm left though with a set of beautiful turned legs, not my own pins I hasten to add.  Mine are rather, let's say, sturdy.  I'm never been a leg man's girl.  No, these are the ones that survived, and indeed were the cause of, the catastrophic night time chaos that resulted a four month spell of sleeping on the floor.  I've been thinking about how I could  re-use them for a  make that's rather more robust.   I think I've come up with just the thing, found on the 'TwistedSifter' website.  Just the job in a vintage style home.  Mama and Papa Lovelygrey, do you have that old grey suitcase that's been knocking about since my childhood?  I think that I might have a use for it!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Not Rocket Science

My intermittent fasting diet is dead, at least for the time-being.  Though it's worked for others I know I got too hungry through this chilly winter on the restricted calorie days and ended up filling up with stodge at the day's end.  Surprise, surprise I didn't lose any weight and I really need too.  Aside from when I was pregnant I am the heaviest that I've ever been.  That does not bode well if I'm going to be in with a chance to tempt Gerard Butler with my feminine grey allure.  I offer something different to all those super model types who must usually surround him so have got to be in with a chance if my belly isn't dragging along the floor.

I've decided to revisit a dieting technique that's worked in the past, namely recording calories in and out. A no-brainer really.  If I don't eat enough to maintain weigh those hard scientific principles mean that it's certain that I'll lose those pounds of flesh at a  rate that would satisfy Shylock.  

I've used a subscription service in the past who've provided me with a food and exercise diary.  This time I'm using MyFitnessPal .  Check it out. It's free!  I've opted for a very reasonable goal of 1lb a week weight loss and hope to be svelte and seductive before Christmas is upon us once again.

I've adopted a nifty trick to make things easier and keep me on track.  My activity level is pitched at the most sloth-like setting available where even reaching out for the TV remote control looks like a workout.  That way my daily calorie intake is  initially low but with just a little bit of exercise it increases to a level  where treats are allowed or that energy deficit goes towards a little more weight loss for the week.  And where does that intermittent fasting malarkey fit in?  Well, once I've reached my target weight I'll consider using it again as a maintenance diet.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

I Saw Him First!

How do you take stock when everything gets a bit too demanding at the office?  Never fear:  Lovelygrey is here!   I have the perfect solution.  Go and get a nice big cuppa, minimise whatever document you're working on and stare at your Gerard Butler screensaver!  A patchwork of six, yes six!, of the luscious images seen before you adorn my work laptop and I can guarantee that they bring a smile to my face even after I've had to deal with some of the most fraught situations imaginable.  It's the eyes, mouth, broad shoulders and even that little wisp of wet hair appearing from behind his ear that requires taming!

Dr Betty, my lovely friend and eminent clinical psychologist, was rather taken by this sixfold vision of masculine perfection and was 'overcome with the urge to lick the screen'.  What would Freud think of that! I told her sternly to back off because I'd bag-sied him years ago.  If you've just discovered the fine attributes of Gerard as, quite justifiably, he's everywhere at the moment, remember he's mine as I saw first.  Catch up with the great 2004 film 'Dear Frankie' if you need proof that he's been around for yonks! But remember whilst watching.  No doubt the dusky stranger has a penchant for prematurely grey women!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Soda Bread: A Cinch

My breadmaking has been put on hold recently.  No, I haven't been running to the shop and sneaking  Mother's Pride into Lovelygrey Cottage.  That just wouldn't do, although I have to say that I am rather partial to a sneaky slice or two of the pappy stuff toasted and buttered if its available.  Instead I've been rather reliant on shop bought tortillas to make wraps or lightly fried chimichangas instead of a conventional lunchbox sandwich.  They keep well and just as versatile as 'normal bread'.

There are times though when a good old British loaf - or indeed an Irish one - is the only thing for the job. With soup, for example.  You can't really dunk a floppy flatbread successfully.  And so it was that yesterday I found myself  bereft of conventional bread but with a lovely batch of corn chowder made by Louis.  More about that in a later post.

So I decided to knock up some of that soda bread that recipes writers on the Web were assuring  me was a quick and easy make.  There was just the small matter of buttermilk that seemed to be a common ingredient.  Hardly a thing that's kept in the fridge, unless maybe you live on a dairy farm.  Not to fear.  I've scoured the Internet and bodged together the recipe that resulted in this handsome beauty.  I have to say that it tasted as good as it look and took about ten minutes to prepare.  You'll need:

450g/1lb plain bread flour (I reckon the ordinary stuff might do if you haven't got this)
1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 level teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
14 floz of milk
1/2 a lemon

  • Heat oven to 230 degrees F or gas mark 8.  Or as high as it goes if your oven is a bit dodgy like mine.
  • Put dry ingredients in a big bowl and give them a bit of a stir.  Make a well in the centre
  • Add most of the milk with juice from the lemon squirted into it.  Then using one hand held like a poorly cat's paw, bring the ingredients together.  Don't knead.  Apparently this makes for a heavy loaf and we don't want that do we?  Add a bit more or the rest of the milk until the dough comes together.
  • Turn out onto a floured worktop and form into a round about an inch and a half high.
  • Pop onto an oiled baking tray and flour the top of the loaf.
  • Then bake for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down a couple of settings and then cook for another 30 or so minutes until the bread sounds hollow when you tap its beautiful bottom!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Covet Ye Not!

I was earwigging in the charity shop on Friday and overheard the assistant talking to another customer who was outlining her creative endeavours with some relish.  'You might like this then'.  She lifted something off a shelf and showed it to the lady.  Now I know crafting treasure trove when I see it and I kicked myself for not spotting it before it was almost certainly going to be  snapped up by another buyer.  After all how could anyone restrict such a bargain.

'Oh no, dear, that's far too expensive'. I couldn't believe my ears. Before anyone else could pounce I pretty much bowled the poor volunteer over as I  thrust the money at her.

What have I got?  Only eighty six  6 x 5 inch samples of hand loomed dupion silk  in almost every conceivable shade that's what at under five pence a piece!  It's a  sample book produced in 1998 by the Scottish company, Isle Mill Ltd, an old family company who've been weaving up in the Northern reaches for over 200 years.

What am I going to do with this brilliant find?  Well I'm in two minds as to whether to leave it intact as a colour mixing resource or use the individual pieces of fabric for either one great big piece or loads of little projects. I just frightfully glad that I'm the person who's having to solve this mighty dilemma as the booty is in my hands!

Saturday, 13 April 2013


My aim today is for every thriftinista who reads this to use this simple word when they walk into a pharmacy to buy over the counter medication.  It's one I've used today in the context of controlling the sniffles associated with the hayfever that I hope I will be suffering from soon as as is a by-product of the weather warming up!  My tried and tested remedy is a branded inhaler.

'Does Beconase have a generic equivalent?' I asked the assistant in Boots.  I was greeted by an affirmation and given an own brand equivalent that had more 10% more puffs and was a pound cheaper than its 'designer' counterpart.  Yet it contains an equivalent dose of the same active ingredient.  To me it's a no-brainer.

There's even better saving to be had for pill poppers on other drugs.  Staying with Boots, a pack of 16 value ibuprofen 200mg tablets is 40p as compared to the same strength branded Neurofen at £2.10,  Lloyds chemist's Diafix contains  loperamide, the same chemical 'bung' that's in Imodium for £3.89 as opposed to £5.99 the price of its better known counterpart and Boot's mucus cough mixture is  a steal.  Ninety pence cheaper than Benylin and it contains half as much syrup again!

So if a hypochondrial urge strikes you and it's time to stock up the medicine cabinet, remember this top tip.  There's won't be equivalents for everything in your self medicating repetoire but I bet each and every person will find some savings to be had.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Good Hygiene?

Did you know that habits to adopt at bedtime to ensure that we get a good night's kip are called sleep hygiene?  Look them up on the Internet if you're interested.  There's plenty of ideas out there, including advise about light and drink levels, what to eat and drink and what you're allowed to do in bed!

I did an essay on this very subject once and at that time I found that there was very little scientific study behind what was being advised.  Plenty of good sense yes, but concrete evidence behind those handy tips were thin on the ground. It was back of a fag packet stuff by someone who was definitely a man as shown by the rule about limiting activities in bed to sleep and yes, sex.  Funny that any other stimulating activity was banned! It also seemed that he lived in a big house where he could wander at will without waking the whole household when his own passage to the land of Nod was blocked.  Try the tip about getting up after twenty minutes if sleep eludes you in a normal family home and see how much stick you get from the other occupants.

So, at a time when a bout of insomnia has kicked in and knackerness is affecting daytime activity, I was pleased to StumbleUpon an article about the effects that body temperature has on our ability to drop off and stay asleep.  Based on proper research it suggested that a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime could improve sleep by inducing a drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath.

Desperately trying to ignore sizeable impact that this would have on my water bills, I've  tried this for the first time last night.  Apart from getting up for a wee at three (that rhymes!) and dozing off again soon afterwards,  I slept through for the first time in a couple of weeks.  I'm hoping that a couple more nightly soaks may reinstate my usual restorative night time snoozing habit and leave me tickety boo for those busy next days that I'm longing to get back to.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Art: Saying It As It Is

The current exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen  is a collection of jewellery created by British and Australian designers around the theme of transformation.  The organisers of this travelling body of work describe it thus.

Each has their own experience of cultural, familial, and artistic transplantation of one sort or another.  Each has drawn on those experiences to create work which is powerful, engaging and thought-provoking, and which we hope will encourage viewers to reflect seriously on the topic and consider how it relates to themselves.

Blimey! That's a bit deep and furthermore a bit hard to do when you're visiting with a slight accident prone ten year old who keeps disappearing into the shop area, choc a bloc with fragile loveliness.  I'll have to save my navel gazing for another more peaceful day.  However from the perspective of visual impact without investigating their deeper meaning I did greatly admire these multi-media pieces by Jack Cunningham for their visual effect, exquisite workmanship and originality.

But there you have the beauty of art and craft.  It can be appreciated at so many different levels including at my own rather low brow perspective! To be honest I find some of the language explaining artist's ideas a bit bewildering.  Then again they'd probably find my descriptions of the world described, say, in the language of occupational therapy somewhat perplexing too!

So, I've no idea what these gorgeous fishy objects signify but think that they could provide inspiration for my own creative endeavours in the future.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Shoe-bee, Doo-bee, Doo!

The potential of a return to my long distance hiking days looks ever more hopeful.  I'm now into week three of getting used to my customised inserts, made by the good folk at Foot Solutions to overcome the symptoms of Morton's neuroma and correct my dodgy gait that's developed as a consequence of trying to avoid the intense pain that the condition causes.  All arches are properly supported and my first impression was that I was falling outwards.  That's because I've got used to trying to protect myself from that OUCH! feeling by weightbearing on the big toe side of my foot.  I've felt achy muscles in unusual places, presumably because bits and pieces are being worked that had got used to being a little lazy.  A walk on an uneven surface proved a little hairy as my balance was out of kilter. There's a teeny analogy with learning to toddle all over again.

Maria commented on my last post to say that she had inserts from Foot Solutions and even though there were a few 'niggles' she'd seen vast improvements in pain levels since they'd been made. She also mentioned the matter of the price of the shoes sold at their shops.  Unless you have the wealth of a minor shipping magnate you're unlikely to go mad in there!  I've managed to source a pair of Brook's trainers a bit more reasonably.  £95 in the shop but mine for just over £75 online.

So why didn't I just make do with my old running shoes? Well, there's the small matter of being limited in choice to where the customised insole fits.  It's going to make footwear buying a process that's  requires a bit of forethought!  What I'd thought I'd do though is start a list here of brands of shoes that I find where the ranges include styles that might be suitable.  I'll add to this as  I discover others.  Feel free to let me have your suggestions too!

Doc Martens
Earth Spirit
El Naturalista

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Masa Bloody Harina!

Photo: Tim Fields
For two reasons, last week the delectable fellow greyling, Paul Hollywood, nearly got knocked off the imaginery podium that I've built for my favourite male celebrities.  The first is obvious.  Have you seen that lush judge, Patrick Grant, on the Great British Sewing Bee?  I'm not usually the type that goes for sartorially elegant men but even I know perfection when I see it!

The second is far more serious as  Paul is charged with using an incredibly difficult to find ingredient on his latest BBC series, Bread. I scoured the land for stoneground cornflour, masa harina, an essential shopping list item needed to make the tortilla towers  featured in the second episode. Well okay I exaggerate.  My hunting ground was just vast swathes of Plymouth city centre and beyond, out to Sainsburys at Marsh Mills. I ended up buying a substitute in the shop of a kindly and knowledgeable lady bedecked in a head scarf.  She said that what she was selling me what probably not the right stuff and wouldn't be fine enough to roll out.  Boy, was she right!  Tasty little polenta type cakes yes but not paper thin tortilla.

Paul has just about redeemed himself though and can climb back on his winner's perch.  The chicken and roasted salsa components of the recipe are easy and mouthwateringly delicious. They stand alone as superb dishes in their own right.

Monday, 8 April 2013

That's Cheating!

As I  mentioned it was the 48th birthday I nearly forgot last week.  Time methinks for some jiggerypokery with my 2013 spending rules to get a few treats to mark the occasion.  Rather cunningly I bought my lovely bro' a Grayson Perry coffee table beauty for his special day that falls less than a week before my own.  In return,  Learning Linocut , yes! a forbidden book will be winging its way to Lovelygrey Cottage shortly.   How cunning is that!  All those years of tax planning for the rich, learning to manipulate legislation were not in vain.

There's more naughtiness as some new clothes have slipped into the wardrobe too! Had I been in the garden of Eden with Eve I don't think I would have lasted as long as her before being expelled for shinning up that apple tree and stuffing my face with forbidden fruit!  I spent some of my birthday month on clothes, a temptation that I hadn't previously succumbed to.  I'm rather tenuously justifying this spend on the fact that they've been bought with cash that I didn't earn myself.  I don't think that I'd have a hope in hell of this standing up in court!  Anyway here's my £14 grey marl maxi dress from ASDA.  It's such a simple flattering design that I'll know I'll wear and wear it.  It was purchased with a jumper for a tenner.  This replaces some that have had unfortunate washing accidents recently.  Really, I'm no Mrs Tiggywinkle when it comes to laundry.  Still if forbidden clothes buys for the year stay under the hundred pound mark I'll be dead chuffed!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bed: Day 3 and Still Counting

I didn't post yesterday because I was too blooming busy.  God bless my housewife friend who thought that it should be easy just to conjure up time for exercise and the like out of thin air!  On most days there's barely time to breathe.

Since physics intervened and my futon bed came crashing down in a twisted heap  I've been sleeping on my mattress on the floor.  Comfortable enough but no good for counteracting the snuffles caused by low lying dust particles.  So last week I finally forked out for the ottoman bed that I've been coveting  from a company whose website said that, for an extra thirty five quid, they'd assemble the bed. They omitted to say that they only do this for a few of the products that they sell.  Dishonest yes, but I didn't have the will to cancel the order and go elsewhere.

You know how it is.  Sometimes you have an idea in your mind about how a day is going to pan out.  So on Friday I was going to have the motorhome MOT-ed, assemble the bed in a couple of hours with Louis' help, source a strange ingredient needed for Saturday night's dinner and go to the latest  exhibition at the Devon Guild of Crafts.  Except it didn't turn out that way.  Apart from scurrying to the garage twice to drop off and pick up the van I was confined to the house waiting for a delivery that didn't arrive until 5:30pm.

After two hours of intensive and lone assemblage with no end in sight, I came downstairs to find that Louis had, reconstructed an exact replica of a wintery day  in the Somme in my living room out of the packaging material, snow included that had been improvised from broken up polystyrene.  I fell knackered onto the sofa and there I slept until Saturday morning when I put in another hour of activity peppered with bad language before I had to pop out for an appointment.   Three more hours of work later  in the day, I  finally had a bed that my dinner guests, who stayed over, could christen.  Yay! I can finally  tuck my bulky Quechua 4.2 tent out of sight.

However, the hydraulic bits and bobs that lifts the slatted mattress support still need to be sorted out today.  Whoever invented flatpack needs shooting.  I've decided though it's not too soon to show off my  lovely new bed.  You'll have to make to with the image from the advertising material and not one of my exact bed. There really is no time for impromptu photo shoots!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Don't Take Away Our Toilets!

Call me a bit weird but I have a problem asking the patients/clients/service users - hey let's call them people - that I visit  in my community health role if I can use their loo.  Somewhere along the line I decided that it was unprofessional to 'powder my nose' in their houses.  So it was with dismay that I read on our local BBC news site yesterday that South Hams District Council are considering shutting their public toilets over the winter period.  Eek! Where am I going to go if stuck out at Slapton or Salcombe?  Will it mean that I, like that binman in the news lately who resorted to pooing on someone's drive, will have to find alternative and wholly inappropriate? I really don't think so! Could a She-Wee possibly solve the liquid half of the problem?

When I was discharged from hospital after giving birth to Louis,  I was given, along with written instructions about pelvic floor exercises, a leaflet compiled by the midwives giving me details of where all the baby changing areas were in Central Exeter, the city where I lived then.  It was a godsend and gave me the confidence to go out, knowing that facilities were available to meet a basic need.  I can usually wait cross legged until I get back to base but I know of many others - elderly, disabled or mums where that pelvic floor advice just didn't work - need the reassurance that there will be toilets available.  Otherwise they will just not go out.          That leads to all sorts of physical and mental health deterioration.  My readers are sensible enough for me not to spell out the implications, I'm sure.  You're a savvy bunch.

And while I'm on my soapbox there's another thing.  Why should locals stump up for resources only available in the tourist season.  Shouldn't basic amenities be available to those living in communities all year round?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Using Your L.O.A.F.(E.R.)!

Had my pictures from yesterday's trip to Kingsbury Water Park been any good I would be writing about that today. However they were cack, even though our day out wasn't.  The highlight was a ride on the Echill's Wood miniature railway that runs around the site. It's appears that it's  largely  run by a group of retired chaps who been chased out of the house by their wives.  A man creche perhaps?

So then, let's think then of another topic now we've landed safe and sound back in Devon.  I know; I'll talk about a thoroughly useful acronym that Thrift Deluxe brought to my attention when I angsted about my shopping habits..  It could just be the guidance that I need to make sure that I shop as ethically as possible.

A little bit of research has suggested that the Christian Ecology Link came up with L.O.A.F to guide the choice of food at church gatherings.  It stands for food that is Locally Sourced, Organically Grown, Animal Friendly and Fairtrade  and the organisation suggests that one or more of  these principles might be used to plan communal meals.  Even though I'm not a Christian myself I'm happy to borrow good ideas from others and it seems a pretty sound plan for ethical spending that  individuals of any creed might like to adopt.  And you can  add Ecologically Sound and Reduced, Reused, or Recycled to make L.O.A.F.E.R. and extent those altrustic aims beyond shopping for groceries!  For those who want to take this literally these Fairtrade, Sustain-ably resourced shoes produced by soleRebels  with their recycled car tyre souls could really fit the bill!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

You Know That Bloke They Found Buried in a Car Park?

Well this is the stone on which Richard III was allegedly killed in 1485 before his enemies carted him off to Leicester.  It was in one of the  fields where the Battle of Bosworth took place.  However it was getting in the way of a local farmer who needed to use his land for agricultural purposes so got moved to the nearby heritage centre.  This was the site of a rather enjoyable visit yesterday.

As someone for whom military history is not their bag, I had a pretty good time, especially as, apart from a £2.50 car park charge, our visit to the Country Park was free.  There are exhibits and activities for which there is a charge including a museum and bird of prey experiences but we needed none of these to complement our two hour yomp around the 1.75 mile interactive Battlefield trail.

Here's the Bosworth Boar, King Dickie's personal emblem.  I note in the gift shop that he's been copyrighted!  A brooch was recovered from the battlefield and was presumably worn by own of the knights.  Silver and pewter replicas are available to purchase or you can enjoy seeing the image of the fierce piggy fluttering on a flag in the breeze from a highpoint on the trail.

Here's Louis trying to summit a sundial before I told him to get down!

Here's a glorious view from the trail with some snow!  A novelty for us but our Midlander friends are sick of the stuff.

There's a train station halfway round where you can go all the way to Birmingham.  There are  days when old fashioned  steam locomotives but all we saw was a relative of good old diesel 10.

You can wind up some of the exhibits to hear an commentary about the battle.....

....at others your hands are left free to eat some energy giving remnants of Easter eggs!

Here's King Dick's well.  It was here that the monarch allegedly drank.  I hope he had a sterilising tablet! This could have been the cause of his demise otherwise, rather than being tickled with an enemy sword.

I took  pictures of monochrome signs to provide inspiration for lino cutting.  You never know when you are going to come across ideas.

I'm not sure where we're off to today but will report back tomorrow from an overlooked area of the country that's rather beautiful and steeped in history.