Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Well, normality has returned. 2 days in to getting up early in the morning and I'm already anti-packed lunch. A lot has happened in 2 days. I've properly, formally, definitely resigned from my job. I've been accepted on an art/design course at college. I've had a go on a ukulele and I've found the most delicious bit of vintage/sixties fabric at Oxfam I've seen for months.

I've been ebay bidding and scouring the net for potential marital 40th birthday presents - I'm thinking handbag, big bling ring or watch. A watch smacks of retirement and I'm not sure about the bling. I like looking at it but I think it would have to be really fabulous and thought about for a long time. I'm veering towards the lovely handbag idea. Practical, beautiful, every day usage. My current favourite is a bespoke Anya Hindmarch Ebury, followed closely by a Mulberry Bayswater. The best handbag shop I've ever been in is Liberty. Just beautiful. I could spend hours in there, sniffing the leather and testing clasps.

I'm a little concerned about the handbag as I do have a tendency to batter my belongings. I've never been a person who can keep things pristine for very long. I don't have that kind of life and I'm worried that if I had a proper, smart bag, I'd have to alter a great many things in my day to day lifestyle to accommodate it. I know, for example, that it could not sit in the well of my punto with one of the kids' football boots. I also know that I would probably be involved in an unfortunate accident with a water bottle or a carton of Ribena. Should I not have such an object just because I risk an encounter with unidentified liquids? Should I risk embracing objets de luxe?

As you may have gathered - I'm not thinking about my main priority very much. I am, however, doing it. Regular exercise has become a part of my daily routine. Boring but essential.

Haircut tomorrow (I hope) and an appointment to be made for feet, eyebrows, lashes and nails.

Monday, 27 August 2007

bank holiday blues...

It feels like the end of the summer holidays. I have no more lazy morning weekdays left. From tomorrow, it's all get up and sandwich boxes and rush, rush, rush.

I love school holidays. I love the feeling of sitting in my dressing gown while the kids munch cereal and grumble about who put their feet where or who's spilt their juice or whatever it is they like to twitter about in the morning. I like at least 2 cups of tea (and sometimes they're NOT herbal!) and a long sit, gently gathering the random thoughts flitting through the gelatinous mass that is my brain.

I know it's a waste of time and I ought to be doing something more constructive but I feel my stillness is not only akin to meditation, it stops me contributing to global warming for at least 20 minutes a day. I am sure that Greenpeace or whoever could work out a statistic that 'if everyone sat and stared for 20 minutes a day, energy requirments would be reduced by almost 2%'. Go on - check my maths.

After my recent chat with a dear friend, I've cranked up the exercise regime and taken a stronger line on my diet. It's too early to say but I definitely feel better having had less bread, bowlfuls of salad at lunchtime and fruit or porridge for breakfast. I've bounced for 30 minutes each morning which nearly kills me and makes me rather rosy and have also introduced some weight exercises, reinforced with the number 40. 40 sit ups, 40 pathetic press ups, 40 bicep curls, 40 tricep twists, 40 thigh raises, 40 lunges etcetera, etcetera.

I find the repetition of 40 focuses my mind.

So - up at the crack tomorrow - got to make packed lunches for kids' footie. I've got an interview for an art & design course (not sure where I'm going with that one really), I need to pick up my party invitations, go to pc world, look at fitted wardrobes in MFI (shudder) and bounce about a lot.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

get up and go

I've started properly. More salad. More exercise. Less sitting about. It better flaming work. If it doesn't, that's it. I'm just going to carry on being less than perfect and stuff the healthy nonsense.

I ate salad twice yesterday, TWICE. I think I had a week's worth of fruit and veg in one day. Not that it stopped me eating the cake E & I had baked for the 3rd picnic we've been on this week. I justified the cake eating as we'd made it ourselves (used calories in its production) AND I used organic eggs. I am sure it's been clinically tested that organice = calorie-free.

By the time evening came along and supper had been dealt with, I was knackered. My daughter informed me that she was 'shattered' yesterday - aged 6. I think she's been listening to my husband too much when he comes in from work.

After having mown the allotment - don't get too excited, my allotment's like project forty, loads of great plans but minimum effort and primarily a source of guilt - I had a shower, scrubbed my hooves and slumped on the sofa to watch Gardener's World. The lovely Sarah Raven told me all about the ills of the UK cut flower industry, how 90% of all flowers bought in the UK are imported at an enormous environmental cost. The industry's worth £2billion, just as much as the music industry. That's a lot of flowers.

I was quite inspired and am now determined not to buy flowers from overseas. There are farms here that supply them and some producers who can deliver them, they just don't seem to get into the shops. If we're all supposed to be buying local food etc, surely it makes sense to buy other local stuff too. So, I've emailed my favourite environmental site, about it. If you want to join the nag, having seen it, use this link: and it will track that you've joined because of me!

Sunshine again this morning - am just about to get trackies on and move about a bit.

Friday, 24 August 2007

reality check

I shouldn't have done it, I've avoided it since I started. I purposefully ignored the golden rule of project management. I guessed at where I was and haven't measured where I've come. Inspired by a conversation with one of my dearest friends, I dug a tape measure out of my sewing box and used to calculate various measurements of how fat I actually am. The fat counter, the BMI counter, the waist/hip counter all confirmed what I've known for quite a long time - I am not slim.

How did I know this without the certainty of mathematics and science you ask? Well - I'm usually the least skinny of the women at parties I go to these days. One of the few places I feel slim is at the massive Asda in Swindon where lots of people's bottoms are wider than their trolleys. I sigh quite a lot. Certain parts of my body move when the rest of it isn't moving in the same direction. Other indicators include a fear of skinny shops where the clothes look tiny and make me feel large just looking at them; I've 'gone off' wearing jeans; I'm overcompensating by trying to be funny all the time. It's not good.

So - thanks, good friend! You know who you are. I was perfectly happy in denial until about 10 minutes ago. In my defence I have indulged in some exercise already today. Half an hour of sweating on my mini-trampoline and some floor work.

Having brought myself to crisis with the rather large numbers that emerged from my scientific experiment this morning, I now need to decide what my body goals actually are for 19th October. In my dreams, I want to be wearing a size 12 dress. I want toned arms that are the same width all the way up, no beefy biceps for me. I want my tummy to do less wobbling and I'd like my legs to skinny up a bit too.

I'm doing much better on the thinking and creative side of my project than the moving and shaking side. In true Libran fashion, it's time time to shift the balance the other way.

Q: Where do Daleks buy their cheese? A: At a dalekatessen!

PS: If you read this, leave me some comments, I'd like to see who's been and I've got plans for projectforty. I need your help. Just click on the comments button. Thank you!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

57 days to go

My nails have dropped off. Until yesterday I had reasonable looking talons, today, I have chopped off stumps having had to take radical action after 3 snapped one morning. Clearing the garden is not a compatible activity alongside projectforty. Never mind – we have a few weeks to go.

The party is booked, the invitations are with the printers, the music is hired and I have a musical playlist as long as my excuses for not eating properly. The hotel next door to the village hall is offering competitive rates for guests and so far all is going well.

I’ve been eating mountains of salad at lunchtime which is a good thing. I’ve even started writing down what I eat – which is a good and bad thing. Instead of mindlessly grazing, I’ve realised that I do mindlessly graze and mindlessly graze quite a lot. What I haven’t quite got round to (apart from the salad) is actually really changing what I’m eating or not eating quite so much!

I have taken the unusual step, however, of using fridge magnets to write ‘40’ on the biscuit tin, the bread bin and both fridge and freezer compartments in an attempt to remind myself that if I don’t get my act together, turning 40 is going to be so much worse. I’m not great at consistent activity – I never have been. I loved the cramming as much as the exams when I was younger. I like a lot of thinking and then a surge of doing and activity when it’s really needed. This strategy is unlikely to work with projectforty and I think that’s why I’m finding it all a little tricky!

Monday, 20 August 2007


Time’s moving on…

I’m definitely mid-project. I had to go to Asda yesterday. Usually I find a little item to tempt me in George, just to take the edge off the fact that I’m in Asda, on a Sunday, food shopping. But, unfortunately it’s sale time so the racks were rammed with unsightly garments and I had to console myself with buying vegetables instead, trying to convince myself that I will eat 5 of them a day and be a better person.

I arrived at the till, re-usable bags at the ready, and was informed by the woman on the till ‘You look shattered, love.’ Well, in her defence, I was. I was struck, however, that the sister on the till had stringy dyed hair, was nearer 60 than 50 and had no teeth. She thought I looked ropey!

This is not a good sign. I should have made some improvements by now. I should not be party to gentle, caring, yet ultimately negative comments from the woman on the checkout at Asda.

I’m not getting it right and I’ve got 2 months to my birthday. That’s 60 days. I feel like I’m revising for my ‘A’ levels and I can’t get my brain to absorb the facts.

It’s time for brutal honesty. I’m going to have to adopt the persona of Gillian McKeith. The gentle approach is too slow. It’s time for unflattering photos on the fridge and a food diary. I wish it hadn’t come to this. I’m nearly 40 – you’d think I’d have got the hang of all this stuff by now. It’s not difficult. Eat a less, move about more. It’s not the stuff of science fiction.

Why is it so difficult? Am I emotional eater? Am I a sugar addict?

It’s got to stop.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

home sweet home

It’s our first day back from visiting a friend in Hull. I have two smallish children in the house who have forgotten how to play, think and move without the constant companion of electronic stimulation. It’s fascinating to watch their brains lurch into gear having spent the last couple of days welded to screens and a variety of handheld controls. My capacity for tolerating whingeing, whining and moaning is being truly tested. Bless...the summer holidays are truly upon us.

I am now at the crisis mid-point of projectforty. The last couple of weeks have been woefully inactive and off-plan.

Pounds lost = 0. Sessions of 30 mins or more physical activity = 0.
Crap food eaten = mountain. Fruit/healthy food eaten = bowlful.

My panic is growing as the village hall is now booked for 20th October. If I don’t get busy I’m going to look like I do. Looking like I do is OK when I only really see people I see most weeks. Looking like I do when I might see people I haven’t seen for a long time is not good at all.

I’ve never been terribly glamorous but, I don’t think I ever look awful. Tired, yes. Shabbier rather than chic but not truly awful. Now though, if I say I need to make the effort, no-one disagrees with me. A sure sign that, yes, I need to get cracking.

I’m well into the final 10 weeks before the big day. No more winey evenings with mates, no more snacky chocolate and no more sitting about watching my hips widen.

I'm almost at the point of keeping a food diary - how low can one woman sink for vanity?

Sunday, 12 August 2007

show and tell

I have been concentrating on the creative aspect of projectforty to compensate for my denial and current ineffectiveness with regard to the health and beauty aspects.

J, E & I entered our local show yesterday. Our competing classes were:
- bookmark - sport-related and mermaid
- drawing or picture - pot plant
- model made of anything – hovercraft and hama bead horsey thing
- decorated hardboiled egg
- highly polished boot or shoe
- knitted scarf
- knitted handbag

We acquitted ourselves presentably with 2 firsts, 2 seconds and a third. Most pleasing and, I realised, strangely compulsive. Now we’ve done it once, we’re going to have to do it again. A woman there won three silver cups. She cleaned up. The problem is, now I want one.

The show also has a funfair with, as mentioned before, the best dodgems in England. They lived up to their reputation and gave us a good 10 minutes of hilarity and silliness.

I then made the fatal error of being enticed by the whirly swirly thing that goes up in the air ride. J & E raced on and left me childless. Eventually a friend’s daughter agreed to go on with me. All was fine at the beginning with lots of whoops and screams. These were, however, swiftly subdued as the ride just went on, and on, and on. I think as well because I probably weigh 3 times as much as H we span and span and span. It was just unpleasant.

Back home for a mountain of barbecue with our friends, the Bs and a bit more wine. All was well.

Off to Hull today so no news until Wednesday.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

back to work..

I had to work today. I met a colleague in Trowbridge. She paid for lunch. Lucky. I forgot to get money from the machine. Trowbridge is a funny town. In fact, if you ask anyone in Wiltshire about any random market town (of which there are several), they'll always say "Mmmm, x? x is a funny town."

Trowbridge is the county town, it plays host to the county council. In the 2 years I've worked in the area, it has acquired a Costa Coffee, a Monsoon and a Marks & Spencer food shop. This, I assume, means that it is aspiring to be a destination town, not just a funny one. It has one of those shopping malls that has the same shops as everywhere else does - a Greggs, a Millets, a New Look and a Clintons Cards. Around the shopping mall are the random assortment of charity shops and what my friend J has christened 'mushroom' shops. Shops with a bizarre optimism, selling dusty boxes containing premium goods that anyone in their right mind would visit John Lewis for and get a proper guarantee. There's also the weirdest shaped shop I've ever seen. It's like a brie wedge, with the till up the fat end and all it sells is flavoured, smelly bath bombs. I've never seen anyone queuing at the till.

projectforty has gone ok today. I had breakfast, I had 2 crumpets for mid-morning snack and a healthy panini for lunch. I have avoided caffeine in all its evil forms. I have not, as yet, succumbed to chocholism although I have had a glass of red wine.

I have a house full of girls. J has gone for a sleepover with one of his mates, therefore I was press-ganged to have my darling E's mates over at ours. All good stuff.

Our entries have been confirmed for the show. Tomorrow we'll be polishing boots, painting eggs and putting the finishing touches to our models. The excitement builds...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

blue sky thinking

We've been back 3 days. We're still all getting along. No-one has, to my knowledge, cried although there have been intense bouts of teasing, screaching and general mayhem. J, E & I are in the midst of 'show fever'. Our village show takes place every August. There is a fun fair with the best dodgems in England, a shooting gallery, equestrian competitions and the horticultural and industrial competitions in a huge marquee. It's as British and as dibley-esque as can be.

The kids have been poring over the schedule of classes and have been preparing their exhibits with gusto. I've never entered but this year I'm tempted. I'm considering 2 classes - 'knitted bag' and 'knitted scarf'. We have to confirm our intent to enter by tomorrow, 5pm. Watch this space.

My exercise regime has become a little more intense with sit-ups and other bits of flouncing about in the evening, whilst watching tv and first thing in the morning. If nothing else, I am determined to do something about the wobbly bits between my knees and my shoulders. Every time I have a bath, I am confronted by the reflection of my jelly-like torso, headless in our strategically placed bathroom mirror. It's not pretty (yet) but it does remind me to pull in my abdominals and think about my core something or others.

I wonder whether all this really matters to me that much. And does it matter to other people? Will anyone else but me care that I've lost a few pounds and gone to a better colourist? What will be the payoff? Do I care more about what I look like than what I do and who I am? Will I ever be satisfied? I'm never going to look like all those gorgeous creatures in magazines? I'm not going to go down the acryclic/extension route to become a pornclone. I don't depend on my looks for the love of those who love me anyway (thank god). It will be interesting to see what will happen if the outside starts to look a bit more how I want it to look.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Back on track…

The bloggap? We visited my parents in France last week. We saw blue sky every day, swam in their pool and were looked after and generally pampered. It was wonderful and much appreciated.

Back to Blighty on Sunday and more blue sky. I hopped on the scales yesterday – no gain. I hopped on today and it looked as if I’d lost 5lbs overnight. My heart leapt. I got on again – I’ve put on a pound! My heart sank.

I do, though, feel better if not lighter. I swam every day on holiday, did some walking, went tree swinging, ate at mealtimes instead of grazing constantly, exfoliated and moisturised, slept like a log and drank litre after litre of water (as well as a little wine). I think I look better than I left. The skipping rope is still in my suitcase.

Now I’m at home, it’s time to go up a gear. I went swimming last night with S and, after 2 years of doing 20 lengths, we took the plunge (ha ha!) and did 25 (26 in my case - I didn’t want to walk the length of the pool to get back into the changing rooms).

I’m planning a little bounce later on my mini-trampoline or perhaps a little of my ancient workout video featuring Lorraine Kelly when she giggled more and had curlier hair. Dreadful music but weirdly effective if you do it every few days. I know this because I did it in 1999.

I’m also aware that as I’m having a party on the big day, I’ll need to call in the professionals. An effort needs to be made. What are 40th birthday parties for unless to check out the other 40-somethings and make sure you don’t look quite as 40 as them? I will need more than a quick chop at the local hairdressers. I need serious, take no prisoners intervention. Hair, skin, nails, and a proper eyebrow shape.

Cuticles aside, eyebrows are another of my ‘can’t dos’. I can do my right eyebrow but not my left and I am at a loss when presented with the bit in between. I marvel at other's perfectly groomed brows and I do go for regularish shapes at the local salon but these are painful and make my skin neon with irritation. It takes 10 minutes to do and then 3 days to recover. I usually leave the salon with a red welt just above my eyebrows and have to plan my visits so that I don’t have to appear in public. It’s restricting - does that happen to everyone?

So – back on track with projectforty. 2 months and 13 days…..I make that 74 days to go.