RUN, MIRIAM, RUN! (Part one)

Just over 10 weeks ago, after an evening that involved too much wine, a lot of emotion and a haircut, I woke up and decided enough was enough! It was time, time for a drastic and life long change!

I have had weight issues for years, which I touched on briefly here, and have been on a hundred different diets with varying success but nothing that I was ever able to maintain.

So, what is different this time? For years I’ve heard the same thing, you have to do it for yourself. I always thought I was but I think a) I was doing it for the approval of others and b) I was doing it because I wanted to look better rather than actually wanting to be fitter and healthier. So this time, it is not about what anyone else thinks or how I look but how I feel – I now really understand about doing it for yourself.

That night ten weeks ago, could have ended very differently. I have struggled with mental health issues since my mid teens. I’ve had very low points before however, that night I really frightened myself. It took every ounce of strength I had not to stop my struggle. I can’t give you details of what I did to stop myself as, due to the alcohol, I only have flashes of memories but the important thing is I didn’t end it all and it turns out that life really begins at 41 and a bit!

I woke up the next day and my new life began. I decided I needed to loose weight and get fitter, not for the approval of others or to look more socially acceptable but to save me from myself.

Morning after the night before

After my self styled hair cut had been sorted out by my very understanding friend and hairdresser, Jane, I started to make plans. First thing on my to do list was to get back to the gym, taking it at my own pace, two days on, one day off, using the treadmill and recumbent (isn’t that a fabulous word?!) cycle.

While all this was going on I was looking for somewhere I could go to give my new, fitter lifestyle a real kick start and to get me really motivated and focused. I didn’t want a Bootcamp – who needs people shouting at you and making you feel even more worthless? I didn’t want to be starved as that is just not something I could maintain when I returned home. I wanted somewhere that looked at all of me, body and soul. After googling ‘fitness health farm NHS‘ the first place that came up after the adverts was FitFarms. Why did I add NHS to my search? Well, my thinking was if a place had links with the NHS then it should be reputable.

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When I saw they had also featured on both the BBC and Channel 4, with links to the videos on their website, I felt even more reassured.

FitFarms provide retreat style breaks with the addition of lots of varied exercise, nutritional food, a range of informative workshops, a mentor and three months after care programme.

I found out all the details and how soon I could go, which was a couple of weeks away at the end of June, and spoke to Mr F – if I went away, it would be big financial commitment as well as an organisational challenge for us.

Although Mr F was very supportive of my new, more energetic lifestyle, he obviously knows me very well and raised a couple of valid concerns. His main concern was that I would return from the course initially full of motivation but that as time passed, that would wain or something would happen that prevented me from going to the gym and I would start to feel guilty, to think I had failed again and wasted everyone’s time and all of that would lead to another big depression.

Initially, I took this on board and agreed it was not for me but in my heart of hearts, I knew this was the life line (literally) that would save me. So, I came up with an plan that would hopefully a) prove to Mr F that I was committed to this new life and b) give me something to focus on and aim towards when I got home. So what was the idea? Run a 10k event for Mind, obviously!

Needless to say, Mr F was duly surprised and impressed and supported me and my new plan 100%. Feeling excited and nervous I booked my five night course with FitFarms, bought my train tickets,  juggled the children between Mr F and some fab friends and signed up for the Kew Gardens 10K*. A new chapter, a new beginning and I was RUNNING towards it with my mind and heart open to all the new possibilities!

*If you would like to sponsor me you can by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=MoreMiriam&faId=624097&isTeam=false

RUNAWAY

Today, aged 41 and a 1/4, I ran away from home! Suitcase carefully packed, lunch made, and with a spring in my step I practically skipped up the road.

The last time I ran away, aged approximately 6 and 1/2, it was a different story! Suitcase stuffed with random, fistfuls of socks and pants, nothing to eat or drink I dripped, yes dripped, my angry little self down The Dip to the bus stop. I can’t remember the exact details but they included me getting up from the Sunday lunch table, hand on hip and telling my Mother “You wouldn’t dare!” as she threatened, initially as a joke, to pour her glass of water over me. Needless to say, even the might of a 6 and a 1/2 year old’s fury cannot match the power of The Mother One!

I had no plan. I was going! Leaving my horrible, smelly family FOREVER!! Luckily for me, my family quite liked their 6 and a 1/2 year old so they gave me ten minutes to calm down, then  came and took me home. Luckily for them, the Sunday bus service was shocking!

Today, I have a plan! My family is not horrible or smelly, well most of the time! I am not, in fact, running away. I am running towards… 

…towards a healthier, happier me!

Let the adventure begin!

I NEED A MATINÉE

According to OxfordDictionaries.com, the definition of a matinée is:

An afternoon performance in a theatre or cinema

However, for me, it has two additional and totally different meanings.

The first has been used in my family since I was a child. It refers to the fact that my lovely Mum (funnily enough pictured with me in front of the Gielgud Theatre about to watch the matinée performance of Blythe Spirit staring the fabulous Angela Lansbury) used to sit down to watch the Sunday matinée after cooking us a yummy, if sometimes ‘interesting’, family lunch and five minutes into the film, would fall fast asleep! To add to our amusement, she would wake up five minutes before the end, give the newspaper she had been ‘reading’ a shake and ask what had happened! This happened with such regularity that, if we feel tired during the day, we say we could do with a matinée!

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The second meaning is one that, I think, only I use. It is directly linked to the very same matinée films mentioned above. I have such fond memories of childhood Sunday lunches – the whole family together around the table, talking and laughing and critiquing Mum’s latest concoction. And these happy family get togethers were always followed by a matinée and, if we were lucky a box of Milk Tray or Dairy Milk chocolates. Sometimes it would be a glorious Technicolor musical, others a more serious black and white drama. Either way there were, more often than not, tears. Sometimes tears from laughing so much at a funny scene or one of us joining in, tunelessly, to one of the big numbers. Sometimes tears triggered by the moving, often war time based, story. Either way, most weekends I’d have a good old cry or, as I now call it, a matinée.

My life today, while in no way hard, is full of pressures and tensions that the little girl of my childhood could never have imagined. I often get to a point when I know that the best way to move forward is to have a big cry and just let it all go. There really isn’t anything like letting all your emotions flood out of you, the relief and release is truly cathartic. It won’t change the situation or the things I have to deal with but releasing all my emotions and tension helps to face my troubles head on, a stronger and more in control woman.

So, should you need a matinée, be it the need for a good film, a nap or a good cry just do it, you will feel better for it!

IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK!

Today was my first day back volunteering at RHS Hyde Hall and it really was great to be back!

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I’ve not been there in my volunteer role since the end of the summer term, although have been a few times (not enough for my liking) in my visitor and parent role during the holidays, and have missed the sense of peace and joy it brings me. Just walking up the hill at the beginning of the day is enough to restore ones equilibrium after a hectic school run!

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And so much has changed during those six weeks! The last day I helped out, the last activity we did was bug hunting in the tall, nearly waist high grass on the hill. Today I found the meadow has had its annual ‘trim’ and it was a totally different atmosphere!

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It was far quieter – no wind whispering through the grasses and only a few birds singing instead of the choir of crickets. The stillness is not better or worse, just different. And with its new, slicker ‘do’ the meandering pathways appear and treasures are revealed.

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Isn’t it a beauty?

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And all of this wonder before I’ve even met up with my fellow volunteers and had a catch up!
When I got to the top if the hill, I headed for the volunteers kitchen/break room to sign in and literally gasped with joy when I saw the amazing ivy on the wall. The colours are stunning!

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Today, after Charlotte’s introductory talk, we took the children out into the garden to look at all the different kids of rock used in the garden – they are learning about geology at school – and, while we were out , it gave me chance to take a few snaps.

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I love the different colours, texture and how the light bounces off the pond…so many things.

So what is my favourite sight this week? It has to be that amazing, ivy clad wall!

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If you would like to visit RHS Hyde Hall, then you can find more details here . Or, if you fancy a more hands on role, you can contact the volunteer coordinator Lara here .

YARNY GOODNESS

I am not one to who usually approves of wishing ones life away, however when it is the name of yarny goodness I believe I can make an exception! So, it is with much joy that I can tell you that it is a mere 100 days until I go to Yarndale!

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And, I’m not the only one who is excited!

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I was gutted that I couldn’t get to Yarndale – a “creative festival celebrating all things woolly and wonderful” – last year, so was overjoyed when my Crafting Guru, Claire from BTHQ, arranged a road trip for this year’s event. A whole, long weekend away with follow (somewhat crazy!) crafty folk from BTHQ, surrounded by yarny loveliness…bliss!

To ensure a truly pleasurable weekend, I have come up with a plan to guarantee some guilt free shopping – oh, yes, there will be shopping! I have decided to try and save up some pennies between now and then.  However, I am rather pants at saving…so many pretties to buy *sigh*…so will need some help. I found a post earlier in the year via Pinterest and it was so simple that it has frequently popped to mind.  I am going to use the theory behind the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge to help me save, save, save so that I can spend, spend, SPEND!

I will write a separate blog about exactly how I plan to use this fabulous savings plan, however, in the mean time I will share a little crafty twist that I am adding to it.  Rather than keep a physical jar of pennies in the house to encourage and motivate me while saving, I found another fabulous idea over on Pinterest – Sea Pennies!

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Inspired by this simple crochet pattern, my love of sea glass and the lovely Lucy of Attic24’s Coastal Blanket palette, I decided to finally use some of the gorgeous Rico Essentials Cottons that I bought at the Waltham Abbey Wool Show from ever colourful Janie Crow.

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Obviously those three, beautiful balls of loveliness weren’t quite enough, so I had to purchase a few more…

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I may also have even more gorgeous colours saved on my wish list over at Janie Crow’s but we won’t mention that!

I plan to crochet lots of Sea Pennies to represent the actual pennies I am saving in my online Nationwide Savings Account  between now and Yarndale and then join them all together on the train journey up there so that I can show both Janie, who is exhibiting, and Lucy who is one of the key organisers of Yarndale while I am there!

So…would you like to see one? I know you would!! Here you go!

Underwater penny

Isn’t it lovely? So simple yet so beautiful, so like the sea glass that inspired me!

Oh and guess what arrived, rather appropriately, today? Yup, my Yarndale Cotton Bag! Woo hoo!

 

CORNWALL IS NOT CLOSED!

We are just over halfway through our annual  pilgrimage to our heavenly home from home – Penventinue Manor Farm, Fowey – and I feel like shouting to the world…well, the rest of the UK…”Cornwall is NOT closed!”

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We have all seen the dramatic footage over the last few months of this beautiful part of the country being literally ripped apart by the storms. However, what hasn’t been covered as much by the media is the sheer force of determination of the Cornish people to repair and renew their damaged properties and businesses in time for the new season.

Just walking through town which, according to locals, “was not badly hit” compared to other areas, you can see the last bits of reparation being completed, lots of freshly painted white buildings and newly planted window boxes adding bright splashes of Spring colour. The many businesses, whether branches of larger chains like Joules, Seasalt and Boots or smaller independent businesses like Quay Bakery Ltd, Mrs Noahs Gifts, Bookends of Fowey  and The Lifebuoy Cafe have all burst into bloom, like the famous  Cornish hedges surrounding the town, and the welcome is as warm as ever.

So, please support Cornwall and the many other areas of the country hit by the storms by not assuming they are all washed out and come and visit! If you are worried, contact your chosen destination to check they are open, don’t just assume they are not. And if you can’t visit in person, try to support the many small businesses that sell on-line. Here are just a few of my personal favourites: Cornishbirdinthesticks, Lou Tonkin, Welbeck Tiles.

Let’s show these fabulous people that their determination, dedication and sheer hard work has been worth it, Cornwall is OPEN!!

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SUNNY SUNDAY

This morning started bright and breezy and I felt inspired to get out into the garden for the first time this year. In true Miriam style, I faffed around until the sun had returned to the comfort of his blanket of cloud but I was determined to make a start on the front bed.

Before

I am waiting for some wild flower seed tape from Simple Sowing (who I found out about from a letter from the RHS which included a 25% discount code!) and am hoping to turn last year’s attempt at a mini wild flower meadow into an actual mini wild flower meadow!

Friend or foe?Pretty much as soon as I started pulling up all the grass, dead wild flowers and…um…weeds, I found I was not alone! There were loads of both of these little creatures, along with the usual worms, snails, slugs, etc but were they friend or foe? I have a feeling that the brown one is a Leather Jackets but the colouring doesn’t seem to be right.  I posted the above photo on twitter to see if any of my gardening followers could advise and so far, only one reply to say both are foes (thanks Viv). However, as I am not so keen on bumping creatures off,  until I get some more confirmation of their friend or foe status, they shall get a reprieve!

I did, however, have a more welcome companion while I was attempting to clear the ground whilst not slicing any of the juicy worms in half, my neighbours cat.  Isn’t he a beauty?!

My gardening companion

In addition to my gorgeous feline companion, I  am very pleased to say there was another little creature who joined me. I noticed a little ladybird on one of the plants I pulled up and thought it was dead. However, I decided that a) his shell looked quite bright to belong to a dead ladybird and b) felt sad that this little creature was now laying in the mud, so I picked him up and carefully dropped him in the middle of the clump of grass that I had decided not to dig up – it would make a great home or, if he was dead, a peaceful resting place. How happy I was when, five minutes later, I spotted him checking out his new abode!

Ladybird RescueAfter about an hour of clearing and digging, interspersed with nice catch ups with a couple of my neighbours, I felt I had made a reasonable start to the gardening season.  I have left the big clump of grass, aka Ladybird Villas and some self seeded Red Valerian (I’ve been waiting for it to float over from my neighbour’s garden since we moved in in 2007!), aka Bee Central both of which I think will add to the wild/meadow effect I am hoping for.

AfterI didn’t do as much as I had planned when I looked out the window at the sunshine this morning but, as my rather achy, upper arms will confirm, I had done enough to feel pleased.