An unremarkable photo, yet it immediately brings it all back…
I have an intense fear of drowning, which goes back to childhood. In August 2012, while the world watched the Olympics on our doorstep in the UK, we took off on a whirlwind round-the-world trip and had at this point reached the Great Barrier Reef. I was desperate not to pass my fear to my daughter, so all three of us were poked on a scuba lesson at the GBR. I was terrified for months in advance
The lesson and dive went well until that familiar panic seized me and I had to be helped up to the surface and brought back to the boat by a lifeguard, devastated that I had failed after so much
Later, as we headed back to the mainland we were lucky enough to see whales breaching, then Baz and C went downstairs to watch the video of our lesson while I stayed alone on deck, unable to think any more about being underwater. I sat alone, wrapped in a towel, and cried tears of total exhaustion yet also gratitude for the opportunities given to me
It was only when I could see land that I started to relax
1995. Boy met girl. Girl was possibly borderline alcoholic but Boy didn’t mind
We made a good team and we knew it. Within a few months we were buying our first flat together. Our lives revolved around work, travel, friends and being in love
Charlotte arrived sixteen years ago and suddenly the well-oiled routine of our lives became chaotic. We hadn’t fully understood the transition from couple to family, and we did not successfully adjust our work-life balance, whatever that actually is. Around this time, vacuuming lost all priority, and we still laugh about the Saturday morning when Baz was cleaning and a 2 year old C came out of her room to ask – ‘Why are you hoovering, Daddy? Is someone coming round?’
And so our lives continued. C adopted the same slovenly habits that we had, and we have bumbled through with only the occasional exhausted freakout from me when I simply cannot cope with the mess, collapse in tears and order a clear up
There are times when our hovel looks very nice: times when we know that people are coming over, and we try to give the impression that we live effortlessly in our little home space. The truth is that I barely even know what is in the fridge most of the time.
Other than the wine in the door, of course
The hoover (it’s actually a skinny sixties-looking-throwback) is where I hang my bra when I bath. All vacuums deserve a bit of a diversion, it’s no fun for them either
People sometimes make ‘good-natured’ jokes about our lifestyle, but I pity them. It’s not that I like mess, but the alternative is to nag constantly. And nagging creates dog’s arse wrinkles, you know. I’ve seen them on the faces of people around me as they berate their spouses. I’ll stick to laughter lines, thank you. And mess
For our Christmas visitors we pulled the place together to look respectable. All of C’s art stuff was cleared away. As always I vowed that it would stay this way, and that we would ‘get on top of it’
But several weeks later I realise that we have rather let things slip. I know this because there’s a home-mummified frog on the dining table again, next to a vase of balletic dead roses, whose petals have shrivelled to linen. Both items are in fact part of C’s current GCSE resources, but they just add to the general impression of slobbery
So, having already spent 21 years together, Boy is now borderline alcoholic as well. Perhaps a little less Boyish than he was. He and Girl are still very much in love, and to their enormous joy and constant surprise there’s a beautiful, partly feral teenager in the house
And a dusty but really very sexy vacuum cleaner in the bathroom
After my recent rant which I removed from blogland on the advice of my more sensible other half I now believe hope that roof work may commence in late March or April. This is SUCH good news and has buoyed me up no end
And plumbing? Well, who cares?
Yes, I am feeling rather upbeat about this French folie, which can only mean one thing: that I have been away from it for too long and have forgotten the reality. There has been rather a lot of rain since my last visit and I sometimes ponder the amount of water going into the plastic barrel on the stairs, wondering if it’s overflowing and cascading over the steps. But then I banish that thought and replace it with the idea of opening the shutters and flooding the house with east-west light. Of course, it’s not as easy as that because the windows and shutters are all swollen and rusted in situ, but it’s a happier thought than rainwater p***ing through the roof, isn’t it
In a strange twist – and there is no seamless way to add this to my post – I need to talk about beetroot. I started to crave the stuff a few years back and now I will happily drink cartons of beetroot juice, eat beetroot soup at lunch, and even dunk my beetroot falafel as well (thank you, Waitrose, for spotting this bizarre gap in the market. I would never normally buy falafel!)
So, what does this mean? I guess either my liver must be in great shape or it’s really struggling. Does anyone else share my beetroot addiction? Or will no-one else admit to its mysterious pink side-effects?!
It might seem hard to believe from my chubby Gravatar, but I would still call myself a runner. I took it up in my thirties and continued, without any apparent running-related injury, pausing only briefly for a surgery in 2012. Then at the end of 2013 the discomfort I had been ignoring for a couple of years in my left thigh developed into a stronger pain across my groin and left buttock, and I had to take advice. I was advised to take a break, at a time in my life when running was especially beneficial to me
After a number of visits to arrogant consultants who injected me and exhausted my private health cover, I got a chiropractor involved (a runner himself), and after months of seeing him it has actually paid off. He still has to make small corrections, but with this and some yoga I have been pain-free for months now
So it’s time to tackle the two stone I am now carrying with me (in my defence, it’s hard to adjust when you stop running 20+ miles per week). That means it’s time to put a playlist together for my iPod, some tunes to keep me moving and to regulate my pace a little. I’ll never be fast but I have a weight target and a half marathon to run in August. Here we go!
As I am starting from scratch after such long break, a friend who used to run with me kindly created a spreadsheet to build up the miles. It’s not as though it’s difficult to gauge the build up, but it’s surprising how a simple tool can motivate. I also get regular gentle nagging texts from another understanding friend to check up on me
The hardest bit right now is not the run, but going out in running clothes. It hurts my pride. There’s no hiding in these clothes and my bra hurts. I don’t look in the mirror once geared-up because I may just talk myself out of leaving the house, and that won’t help. There must be some kind of mathematical graph or equation covering the degree of effort involved, the embarrassment encountered and the distance covered. At some point the embarrassment will reduce because I’ll be leaner and fitter, while the distance covered will be greater and the overall difficulty will remain somewhere in the same region. I am not good at maths but I can make this equation happen
Already at just three mile runs my lungs are working better and I have runner’s calm all day. Nothing unwinds me like a few miles in the open air, however wet or chilly. I’m still staying off main roads where possible because I am not ready to be judged by passing motorists on my physique or my technique. They don’t realise how hard it is to go out carrying extra weight and be exposed to criticism. I know this because I have judged often enough. Tough karma
Today is Valentines Day, and after the filth that was yesterday’s running weather I woke to golden sunshine and I really looked forward to going out. As I stood at the for of the bed, getting into my tragic spandex, Baz lay in bed in the dark and said ‘Well done. I’m proud of you’
There’s nothing more a girl needs than this. A sunny run and the support of the person who matters. Happy Valentines Day, Fatty x
I am flattered to have been nominated for the quote challenge again, this time by Osyth of Half Baked in Paradise, whose posts I always look forward to. She used wonderful quotes in her own blog, quotes which express the beauty and depth of love and life. I have, as she did, also invented my own ‘rules’ to work with here. Please do take a look at Osyth’s post
The last time I took this challenge I realised what an abundance of witty and insightful quotes we can call upon, and all without paying royalties! I had trouble whittling down the quotes for the three day format, and eventually I chose a few which resonated and had just enough in common to mesh together. So excuse me if I over-indulge again today
An additional quote on Osyth’s post was from A.A. Milne’s ‘A Record Lie’, an essay I had never read, but which I immediately typed into Google. I would suggest that anyone reading this post does the same. It holds a real truth and it decided for me the quotes I would include here:
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing” – Albert Einstein, all-round genius
“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants” – Albert Camus, French Philosopher
and perhaps the most poignant right now….
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barack Obama, President of the US
Of course, one could look at the above quotes and think this a rather grave post so let me provide an antidote in the form of three further quotes, courtesy of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and perfect for an upcoming St Valentine’s Day:
“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart”
“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave”
“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet “You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh
Through no fault of their own, I nominate the following bloggers for this challenge:
In my mind I am still an irresponsible young thing. Sadly, in reality I am an irresponsible middle aged woman, and this is what the rest of the world sees. Sunday was my 50th birthday and Baz says that the house in Quillan was my birthday present (!). It really is the most brilliant timing, purely accidental, to have completed just a week or so ahead of this milestone birthday
The IT people were messing with my computer at work on Friday and there was nothing useful I could do. Some people might book a relaxing birthday facial or manicure, something to make them look great and feel confident for such a grown-up celebration. I went on ebay and found myself a birthday present, this 1930s sunburst cupboard, which I couldn’t resist and which will have a new (and hopefully, exhausting) life as a cocktail cabinet in our snug
So, is this a mid-life crisis? When I buy things that are older than I am – things that need restoration and repair, the equivalent of reconstructive surgery – am I trying to reassure myself that their age (and therefore mine) doesn’t matter and that it is still worth moisturising and dressing up? Of course not. I have liked pretty much the same old things since I was a toddler and I’m just indulging myself. And yes, it cost less than a facial!