Monday, 30 July 2012

My five day challenge

This weekend was so much fun, I caught up with friends, let my hair down and gave myself a break from the healthy eating. Big time.

To give you an idea I indulged in the likes of five bottles of wine over the two days (shared with another girl both times) and I munched my way through stir fry, prawn crackers, spring rolls and chocolates one night and Turkish feta parcels, a super oily cheesy, tomatoey lamb dish, rice and fresh bread on another.

I went to spinning last week - Tuesday, Thursday and then on Sunday with a hangover. Of course as we know alcohol is not too great when you're on a health kick - it impacts on your metabolism and stops you performing as well when exercising.

Unsurprisingly when I stepped on the scales this morning I'd put on weight. Granted this was only one pound, but still, it put me further away from my goal weight for Thailand.

Like the spinaholic I am, I had already been looking at the studio timetable and wondering what I could fit in before my holiday.

On weighing myself today, my initial ideas of potentially spending most of this week spinning started to seem a strong and sensible option.

So I've decided to try and set myself the challenge of completing five days in a row of spinning. I did an hour yesterday and then 45 minutes tonight.

Now I plan to go again tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

I won't lie, tonight was tough after getting up at 445 this morning for an early start at work. To make myself go back out after getting home was a struggle. As always though I felt better for it.

Even yesterday on forcing myself to go to a 1030am class after going to bed at 3am on Friday and 2am on Saturday (and with a bit of a hangover), I was pleased I went by the end.

Now I've put it on here I'm also more accountable in sticking to my challenge. I'm hoping by knowing I've bleated on about it on here, on Twitter and Facebook it will help me stay strong and attend all the classes, we shall see.

All I know is I've got to get in a bikini in less than a week and if that means I need to move my legs non stop, cause my quads to throb and my abs and arms to ache, so be it!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Packing panic

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to move on and accept the fact that their Mum can’t pack their holiday suitcase for them anymore.

Unfortunately for me this happened many many years back now. In fact you’d think I’d have become quite a pro at packing myself by now right? Wrong. Panicking makes me panic.

Having a conversation at work recently I realised I haven’t really left myself that much time to get my packing done before we go away (busy week at work, obsessing over spinning classes in the evenings). Bearing in mind I was uber keen to ‘pack light’ since we’ll be moving around quite a bit, I’m not giving myself a very good chance.

As Little Miss Organised I always put together a list (another trait handed down my Mum!) and do think long and hard about what I’m going to take. After many a holiday returning with a load of clothes I’ve never worn, I also do try and group things together in outfits so I don’t take as much of a surplus of clothes (hey I’m female I’m always going to take more than I need!)

When I finally do get all packed up then comes the next drama – the weight. My parents have this little gadget for weighing your suitcase (meant to be more reliable than trying to balance it on an old set of scales and peering round it to try view the results). I tend to weigh mine numerous times and if I am travelling with my boyfriend many a time he gets asked if he has any spare room to take on some of my load.

However, regardless of how under (or likely dead on) the case weight results are I get petrified when we’re at the airport waiting to check in. I am always convinced my case will be over and we’ll get charged an extortionate amount of cash. To be fair once on a flight back from a holiday in Fuerteventura (why oh why did I go back after a disastrous holiday there before I don’t know) we did both get charged for being overweight. Although I think this was more to do with the dodgy airport staff trying to get some extra cash rather than a legitimate heavy luggage issue (I won’t go into details but people noticed the scales weren’t even on zero when they were empty and far too many people got charged for the same thing).

The main reason for me constantly worrying about this? My case. Moreover the size of it. For years I’ve stared longingly at other people in the check in areas and their compact tidy looking case. I stare in wonder at how these people fit all their belongings in such a small space. Particularly when there is a whole massive family there with one case the same size as mine!

I honestly don’t understand how I do it though. I don’t throw all my things in the suitcase at random; I do fold things and place things in the gaps to make it fit better. No matter what I do, I always end up with a massive suitcase full to the brim. My toiletries alone seem to take up most of the luggage allowance!

And as for the people who turn up with a tiny carry-on bag or small-enough-to-stow-in-the-overhead-compartments-suitcase I just have to assume they belong to midgets with poor hygiene and miniscule clothes. I mean that’s the only logical explanation right?

The Joys of Commuting

Shoulder barging, elbow digging, someone sitting over your side of the seat
Wide newspaper reading, super loud music listening, someone with something very smelly to eat

Rain blows across the platform, soggy umbrellas knock legs, sodden clothes and damp feet
Damp smells fill the carriage, your hair now windswept and wet, where it had been so neat

Treading on toes, knocking bags, rushing to get that seat first
People don’t move down the carriage or across the seats, lack of manners just gets worse

Tannoys announce more delays, service disruptions and cancellations
Trains stop on the tracks, making you late, everyone letting work know in phone conversations

People blocking station entrances, walking super slow along the platform, generally getting in the way
Trying to make that fast train, people bang into you, no apology or checking you’re okay

Huge sighs go out as the driver reveals passengers have set off the alarm, you stop on the track
People leaning into you more and more, it’s not a post to lean on, it’s my back!

Summertime, super sweaty trains, clammy skin touching yours, awful smells whatever the time of day
People feeling faint, the heat is so strong, people push on already-packed trains anyway

Coming home late at night with drunk people, fast food odours and rowdy crowds
Falling asleep, trying not to miss the stop, others shouting and singing so loud

Pleased to make the earlier train and looking forward to getting home early
Then you wait ridiculous amounts of time for a bus and end up later than you are usually

Businessmen selfish with their space and huge papers, workmen covered in dust and paint splattered overalls
Elderly people struggle to balance, pregnant women having to stand, no offers of seats or help at all

A new year approaches and brings with it news of an increase in travel fares
Nobody can understand it, no improvements evident anywhere

Settling down to read your book in peace, you’re joined by oddballs who won’t leave you alone
Nobody ever smiles at one another, all straight-faced or playing on their phone

Distracted Mums ignore the noise as their children scream and shriek
Earphones blare out too loud music and non-muted phones make noisy bleeps

Embarrassed to be seen by those you know, you become so moody on these journeys
Knowing exactly your spot to stand at and being sneaky to nab that seat in front of somebody

Then there’s that day you catch eyes with someone across from you and see a friendly smile
Something funny happens in the carriage and you end up speaking for a while

Someone lets you on in front or helps someone in need near to them
But that’s the odd day and then the moods and rudeness continue all over again

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

London Olympics: 2 days to go

Whether you are overcome with British pride, counting down the days until it’s over or bursting with excitement, you can’t escape the fact that the Olympics are starting in two days. In London.

This morning the Olympic lanes officially came into force and practice opening ceremony run-throughs have already started.

Admittedly it could be said I have been more a member of the moan-about-everything group of Brits for the majority of the build-up to this historic sporting event. I can appreciate the importance of it – the sense of achievement for competitors, the tourism benefits it will bring to the capital, everyone coming together and taking pride in the country.

However, as someone who works in London I also see the nightmare it is going to cause for commuting to and from work, the impact it will have on my clients, even more packed and stuffy trains, tons of tourists everywhere and major delays to get anywhere. I’m also a tad fed up of everywhere I go having something Olympics-related thrust in my face or shouted at me over an announcement system.

Being driven into work this morning for client go lives I also got rather fed up again as I realised how much more traffic there was on the roads coming into London even around 530am (and the Olympic lanes didn’t open until 6am). This annoys me as it’s already early enough to get up without having to get up even earlier to arrive into work for the same time (or potentially later) on these days.

On going home last night I noticed the screens at Liverpool Street kindly letting me know that on Friday (the opening ceremony) we should note that trains will be running with at least 2 hour delays. Great, so I’ll just start my weekend 3-4 hours later then shall I. As for commuting during normal hours Monday onwards (we work 9am-6pm) I dread to think how that is going to go, Greater Anglia can hardly run a good service as it is now. Yesterday the trains were running more slowly due to the hot weather and some trains weren’t stopping at my station.

We have tickets to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in September and also some tickets to grant us access around the Olympic Park and some general information events at the Excel Centre. My boyfriend purchased them whilst I was sulking I wasn’t bothered about the whole thing! The tickets and information packs arrived recently and to be honest I still didn’t feel that excited or interested.

However, on Sunday the Olympic torch came to the area I grew up in and something changed. I think for the Queen’s Jubilee there were one or two parties in the area but not much happened apart from a little bit of bunting going up.

As we arrived on the main road where the torch would feature this weekend, the pavements were lined – families and friends I haven’t seen since I lived on the estate were there, neighbours were there, some people had picnics, most had flags. A man was coming out of his house offering everyone cold cans of beer, people on crutches, in wheelchairs and on sticks all hobbled out (including my Mum recovering from her broken leg!) Families sat on picnic blankets, people brought up their own chairs, gardens opened up for parties, flags were waved and cheers called out.

It was fantastic. It was such a lovely lovely atmosphere. I thought how nice it was and how different it was to have everyone come together like that. I was proud of our country and genuinely excited about this historic event happening and my own area featuring in it in some way. I took tons of photos and smiled, cheered and flag-waved my way through the event.

Check out the Olympic torch video courtesy of my boyfriend to see some of it for yourselves.

Of course Monday came; I listened to Boris booming out at the station about the Olympics, the train driver telling me Stratford is home to the Olympic Park, saw the Olympic mascot figures dotted around everywhere and heard fellow commuters discussing delay rumours they’ve heard and my dread for this London 2012 event reappeared. Well, after all, I am British, complaining’s what we do!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Spinners Anonymous

I love spinning. We all know this. In fact I'm probably a little addicted I admit.

However tonight tested me somewhat.

I always have to rush to the gym in order to get to the class in time. What makes it worse is that people 'reserve' a bike for themselves. Often they do this way in advance of the class and what drives me insane is that they then turn up last minute or late to the session!

This annoys me usually, but today after getting hot and bothered on the train it was bound to get to me even more tonight.

What made it worse today is that on the Tuesday class you have to put your name down and reserve your place. Which I always do.

Off I rush to the studio today, thankful for the cold air con in the gym. I get in the studio, it's boiling and every bike has people's towels/bottles etc on them, those that don't have the dreaded blue roll on it.

I've gone regularly to the class the last few weeks and always put my name down and turned up. Apparently this means absolutely nothing.

I could not seem to find one spinning bike that was free and the instructor wasn't in the room yet. Off I went downstairs to reception where a really helpful member of staff told me if my name is down ignore the blue roll and pick a bike. End of.

I returned upstairs happy and swiftly moved over to a bike, noticing the instructor was now there...and he was watching me.

"Er that bikes taken"

I hastily told him about my visit downstairs and what they said (and note this was a few minutes before class starts and said bike 'owner' was still not there). I even mentioned how often I go to the class and always make sure I put my name down.

"But this one's taken. Sorry"

At this point my blood was starting to boil. Believe me the way I feel lately I am not in the mood to have people mess me about.

Thankfully - for my insanity and moreso the safety of the instructor - there was one lone bike spare at the back, which he encouraged me towards.

I shot him a dirty look, huffed a bit and then set myself up on this spinning bicycle.

It took me a good ten minutes into the session to stop shooting him angry looks (its in the dark so this was a tad pointless, but it made me feel better!) Eventually I did calm down and made the most of the session.

I just hope that next week it doesn't happen again.

Yes that's right I'm going back next week, I put my name down and I'm going to grace this instructor with my presence again.

The honest reason being because quite frankly I love this man's class, it's fun and he pushes you hard, but in an enjoyable way. Plus Thailand is coming up and I don't have long left to get in shape, there aren't many classes left.

I truly am a sucker for spinning.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bookworm: The Thread by Victoria Hislop

This lunchtime I finished reading Victoria Hislop’s The Thread. I’ve devoured this book in just under a week, as with all this writer’s books yet again I could not put it down.

Hislop has a way of writing which keeps you gripped, her descriptions are so detailed and authentic you can easily picture the locations and characters and as you read feel yourself sliding into the story, as if you too were there.

I am a big fan of Greek islands – the people, the weather, the food, the cobbled streets and white and blue buildings – and so I knew I would be transported to Thessaloniki upon reading the book description. As with The Island, I was mesmerised by the traditional Greek characters, the history and the mouthwatering descriptions of the local foods.

Whilst the weather has been awful for most of the time I’ve been blazing through this book, it has been a welcome form of escape to pretend I’m instead sitting in the sun eating a Greek pastry, rather than absorbing the words on a packed train with rain pelting the windows.

Those familiar with the writer will know she also has two other books (on about the Cretan island of Spinalonga and the featuring Spain), this story focusses on Thessaloniki in Greece and how the city changed in the war and how the varied people living there had their lives turned upside down.

The main characters are Katerina and Dimitri and the tale of their lives from children through to adulthood. Throughout many twists and turns we see these characters develop and as is typical with Hislop, the story switches from modern day, back in time and returns to the present.

As a reader you go through a mix of emotions in this fictional tale – there are sad moments, frightening moments, funny times and outright awful events. Even though it is a piece of fiction it all feels so real. The way the writer ties in historical events with fictional tales works so well and I think is a key reason her books always keep you so gripped.

Good points
Strong characters that develop well
Great description which lets you dive into the words on the page and imagine yourself there
Addictive reading, you want to know what happens next

Not so great
Normally Hislop entwines past and present more frequently, but in this book the present is included at the very beginning and then at the end
The end focussing on the present day almost seems a bit rushed/tacked on
The high number of characters can at first leave you a little confused

Overall, yet again I have been impressed by a book by this author and I’d be keen to see what her next offering is. The only downside is now I keep craving Greek food and want to book a holiday to one of the islands!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Deodorant anyone?

As I mentioned on Tuesday, each time I go to a spin class I seem to learn something new. Or specifically, what to avoid.

Today was my Saturday 60 minutes spinning class at the the gym with our roaring instructor (she likes to 'arrgghhh' and 'grrrr' us through the session!)

This class was my third one this week and in fact my twelfth session since I first tried spinning at the end of June.

I've cycled my way through 10 hours and 10 minutes of spinning, with three different instructors. Tomorrow I'm set to try a class with another, fourth, trainer too.

I've realised I prefer the bikes with what I call the 'rough' handles on as they offer more grip when you're a bit slippery from sweating. Today I had to get on one of the smoother ones (hands sliding off the handlebars is pretty inevitable with these).

Once we got started I didn't care. What I love about Saturday's teacher is she plays different tracks each week and today we had a mixture of trance and dance music. As always it was lots of fun but tough.

I was sweaty. Very sweaty.

Also I was proud, we had two or three people drop out part way through the class. This brought a big smile to my face, I was really pleased I was managing to stick it out and carry on.

However this smile was short lived when I started to feel queasy. Now I did feel a tad nauseous on Thursday night's class, but this was down to me finding the moves hard.

Today was thanks to the lady in front of me, who quite frankly absolutely stunk!

Obviously in this sort of class you sweat, we all do. But seriously if you're a generally clean person and use deodorant I don't see why you need to smell.

It was awful every time we had to do 'position three' - off the saddle but leaning forward and low - I was catching a nice big whiff of her B.O.

Not only was I working hard and battling through my tiredness and aching legs. I had to contend with Little Miss Smelly in front. It was disgusting and made me feel ill.

Today's lesson learnt. Do not sit on a bike behind this woman. Ever. Again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bulging bums and sweaty cycling

Tonight as it's Tuesday I headed off to my gym as it's the first of my week's spinning sessions.

It seems each week I am discovering new things about spinning.

Last week I became acquainted with padded cycling trousers. After numerous sessions of suffering with an achey bottom and having to ease myself into chairs like an elderly lady I decided enough was enough.

So after having a nose online and in my local discount sports shop, I purchased my Muddyfox padded capri cycling pants. I figured for just under ten pounds even if they didn't make too much difference it wasn't tons of cash down the drain.

I was so excited when my new purchase arrived and I hastily packed it into my gym bag. In the evening as I got dressed in the changing rooms I pulled my new cyclewear on. Wow.

The best way I can describe how these bottoms feel is like wearing a nappy. Seriously. I waddled my way up to the spin studio and felt like my bum was following two steps behind me! In fact I was pretty sure I looked like Donald Duck!

After getting used to said garments I soon began to feel grateful for this padding, even if it did feel like a sofa cushion strapped underneath me. I managed to pedal faster, stay in position better and it didn't feel like I'd been literally kicked up the backside!

As you'd imagine I've not looked back since, my trusty trousers accompany me to every spin session. It's a shame I can't wear them in the horse riding saddle too...

I've been feeling a tad stroppy this week and was glad to be going spinning tonight to let off some steam and give me a much needed boost.

Due to the class starting an hour after I finish work and the fact people 'reserve' their bikes a la holiday sunlounger-towel style, I'm often in a rush to get into the studio on time.

I'd been all proud of myself having packed my spinning kit on Sunday ready for tonight's class, I was all set to go.

Then tonight I realised something as I rushed to get ready in the gym changing rooms.

I'd forgotten my towel.

Now when you spin you sweat. A lot. You sweat so much that at times your hands can't grip the handlebars and slide off. Your top changes colour. You leave the studio looking like your head has just been held under a power shower.

To say I was disappointed at forgetting my towel is an understatement. I knew what this meant - the blue roll.

This odd-smelling, scratchy, blue covered toilet-roll-like paper is available in the gym to wipe down machines and for those without a towel. I hate it.

I grabbed a handful of paper and got set up on the bike. I noticed I was next to an 'older' man who had no towel, nor any blue roll.

By the time today's spinning class was over I'd discovered two things.

Don't forget your towel, blue roll is useless and will not effectively mop up your sweaty face. This was backed up as I tried to absorb the sweat and felt the paper disintegrating between my fingers.

Don't sit next to men without a towel, they sweat. A lot. And it flings everywhere, namely onto you. The girl on the other side of him murmuring 'Urgh...' and me struggling to find a dry area on the floor to do my stretches near his bike gives you an idea.

I threw my useless blue towel in the bin, left the studio and on leaving the gym made my way to the bus stop.

Then I learned another discovery - getting the first bus available and walking part of the way home is not a great idea when you're already shattered from spinning.

I wonder what I'll discover at Thursday's class...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Birthday books

There, I think I've done it. I think I've finished selecting my holiday reads for Thailand.

Whatever I'm doing throughout the year I love to read, on my break, when I go to bed at night, on the commute or relaxing on the sofa.

When it comes to holidays, nothing changes, I still want to read - and even better if I'm doing it on a lounger in the sun or lying on a golden beach with the sound of the sea lapping the shore behind me!

I tend to find I want easygoing reads on holiday, you're relaxing and having a break from real life after all. Anything which gives me a chance to escape, doesn't strain my sunbathing brain and has a good feeling to it tends to appeal.

This is going to be a first for me too as for once I'm actually going to take my Kindle away with me. No heavy paperbacks impacting on my luggage allowance, no I will have just my slim ebook reading device to hand instead.

Only thing is I kind of need to conquer my concerns with keeping my Kindle safe and clean. Yes I know the cover is there to protect it, but it's leather and smart and it's going to look such a mess if it has sand stuck to it and suncream greasy smears across it...

Kindle concerns aside, I've been having a think what I want to be reading as I'm flying to my birthday holiday destination, whilst I lie by the pool on Koh Samui and laze on the beach on Koh Phangan.

I've decided to stick with the easy read options and indulging in something perhaps set in a similar climate to where I'll be (a pattern I've also noted when I opt for travel fiction).

My four winners are

The Beach by Alex Garland (of course, how can I have seen the film, but not read the book AND be going to Thailand??)

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (something to get me thinking, laugh and have some banter with my man)

Catching the Sun by Tony Parsons (embarrassingly yes the fact it's set in Thailand has influenced me!)

Winging it: A Tale of Turning Thirty by Elizabeth Lippens (well, I am reaching 30 and want someone to be there to relate to!)

Here's to an amazing holiday and hopefully some enjoyable reading experiences!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Bookworm: The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam

I'd bought this book as part of a two pack offer and so i started to read it straight after finishing the first in the series. I quite enjoyed Anam's A Golden Age and thought it made sense to read the follow up next.

Where I expected there to be an easy flow from one book to the next I was instead faced with a mix of information. At times the story referred to previous characters or events and offered some form of explanation to the new reader. Yet this was inconsistent, with other characters left with no background detail or clarification.

The Good Muslim follows the same Haque family you see in the first book. However this time we visit Rehana, Sohail and Maya over ten years on. After the war has ended, we're now to see what has happened to the surroundings, the people and the relationships.

However, the magic of the first book's detailed descriptions didn't seem as strong in this offering. At times I struggled with the numerous characters in the first story, but this time there seemed to be even more people and past events to remember.

When presented with so many characters you can end up a little lost and I don't feel the writer has taken the time to fully explore those she does refer to. The result being a number of characters you are clearly meant to care about, but ultimately don't.

Where A Golden Age focussed on the war as the main topic, this follow up feels like a mish mash of smaller subjects. Constantly jumping from one time to another place to someone else's story.

Just as I'd start to unravel one character's life, another would get mentioned. This meant I didn't feel particularly emotionally tied to the words in front of me. Rather than enjoying the book, it became almost chore-like to read.

I think Anam tries to cover too many sub stories in this book, fitting in as much as she can in the under 300 pages available. I finished not really fully understanding what I had read and learnt and with no strong feeling about any of the characters.

Good parts
There are still some authentic, image inspiring descriptions
Certain twists you weren't expecting

Not so great
Too many side stories
Too much jumping around locations and timeframes
Can't embrace characters or develop a sense of caring about them
Unclear messaging - what is the final story or message you take away meant to be?

Overall, this book is okay. It's not particularly awful, nor is it a huge hit. I'm glad I got it through a book deal. Definitely a poor follow up to the first in the series.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bookworm: A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

After having just read a trilogy of filthy fiction, I was looking forward to returning to reading something a tad more familiar.

I purchased this book as part of a bundle set and was mostly attracted to it by its cover. It made me think of far away places, exotic locations, a different way of life.

This book is set in East Pakistan in 1971 and uses the history of the war and the forming of Bangladesh as the basis of this fictional tale.

The Haque family are the main characters in Anam's story, mother Rehana, daughter Maya and son Sohail.

Ignorantly not knowing much on this historical issue, I felt it would have been beneficial to give a bit of background at the start of the book to help set the scene and explain.

However, in terms of the actual setting for the story, every smell, noise and sight comes alive in your mind as Anam's wonderful descriptions go on and on.

I could get lost in the book, whether reading it in on a cold, rainy day or an (unusual) warm day. The description of the blisteringly hot temperatures or the powerful, strong sheets of the monsoon rain, I imagined it all.

At times I did struggle, unfamiliar with the names of certain items of cuisine or local customs. Although due to other areas being described so well it was easy enough to look past these and just have a rough idea what was being talked about.

For such a short book (296 pages), each main character developed fully and strongly across the course of the story.

The constant emotional events throughout ensured you went from feeling sad to concerned, amused and relieved.

Good bits
Great descriptions
Interesting story
Good development of characters

Not so great
Certain terminology leaves you feeling a little lost
The story is a little slow to start
At times the approach/writing style seemed a little naive/childish

Due to buying the book as a bundle, I already have The Good Muslim to try out next. This is the follow up and revisits the family ten years on.

I'm hoping for some more exotic locations, delicious sounding foods and emotional stories, but hope the sequel is a worthwhile edition and not just an add on for the sake of it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Growing old dis-gracefully

As my amazing holiday to Thailand gets increasingly closer I am a mix of emotions. Super excited of course, but my focus has shifted somewhat from the trip itself to the reason for going – my birthday.

Moreover, the age I will reach on said birthday.

I’ve seen a lot of people get to 30 and get a bit panicky about life and their future in general, making life changing or often rash decisions about their current life. This often boils down to them not matching up with their ‘plan’ or what’s generally expected of you by this point in your life.

For women, of course, there are a number of pressures we particularly face – the rush to get married, have proved ourselves on the career path and overwhelmingly the whole baby debate. I myself have certainly battled with two of the three issues over the recent months.

In fact I almost felt a big neon sign flash up when I caught sight of the main feature in Stylist magazine this week It’s like they know what I’m thinking at times their articles are so relevant!

Before you gasp in shock, no I’m not pregnant or planning a baby at present, but the idea of children and age has most certainly crossed my mind of late. I’ve also become more conscious of my appearance.

I don’t have – well don’t think so – any wrinkles just yet which is a plus point. However, losing weight has become a lot harder and as we can all verify hangovers are a lot worse. I definitely have a few stray grey hairs, the first one annoyingly appeared when I was at University – I can still remember my scream…

I’m also reminded quite regularly of my impending age in day-to-day life. Last weekend I went for a ‘girl’s night’ with some friends, out of the group I was the second youngest. Two of the ladies will be 31 later this year and one, granted, is only young at 25/26. We finished our meal and went to a wine bar (which was full of middle aged people), then strolled across to the more trendy ‘younger’ bar where you have to be over 25 to get in. All three girls got IDed, all three. I even stood patiently waiting, waiting for the security guy to ask for proof of age from me. Oh no, not needed, we all got gestured into the bar (after all three of my friends showed their identification).

At work recently we produced a video pitch for a trendy fashion site shall we say, the video was modern, included fashion snippets and a host of people from our company. We all agreed it was clear that the people included were picked for their good looks, style and young age. Not that I would have got involved since I have enough of a client base and it probably wouldn’t sit with the types of sites I manage, but I couldn’t help thinking hm I wouldn’t have made the cut for that group. I’m definitely at the wrong end of the 20s scale!

They always say you are only as old as you feel and I’ve seen lots of examples of this – even in my own family. My Auntie is 67 and she definitely does not look or act her age. Out of my grandparents, when they were alive, one set were very active, the other more into relaxing and sitting at home. You could see a visible difference in their appearance and mental health as a result.

I think it’s great to act young for your age. However, there is also the danger of taking this too far. We’ve all been on a night out and seen ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ cases. How do you ensure you age well and keep young, but not make a fool of yourself by thinking you’re a lot younger than you are?
In your late twenties/early thirties, as a female, how do you know if you should be getting more settled and focussing on having a little one, rather than planning your next travelling adventure? Nowadays we’re told women are leaving it later and there is more choice, but the fact remains nature still exists and biological limitations still apply.

People say it’s down to you and your choice, which ultimately it is. However, do outside pressures have too big a sway on your decision? I for one, definitely think so. Just from the way I’ve started to feel about my looks, my behaviour, my future, at 29, I can only imagine what I’ll be like post 30.

It’s a fact of life – we all grow old, we change, our faces age, our bodies alter, our hair gets grey, our attitudes differ. However, it’s the dealing with this that I’m finding a tad hard right now – the thought of my parents getting older is not something I’m comfortable with. And as for starting to look older and clearly being seen as someone more mature when socialising I’m not keen at all.

I regularly feel torn between enjoying my young side with people I know who are still in their early to mid twenties, to then feeling a need to 'grow up' and calm down with those around me in their 30s and married and/or with kids.

I’m trying desperately to focus on the excitement and happiness I should be feeling about my holiday in such an exotic location so new and unknown to me – to experiencing new foods, people, customs and sights. When I start to think for a minute about this I get butterflies in my tummy and my age gradually starts to get pushed out the picture, but for how long?

Age they say is nothing but a number. But is that really true? Or something we say as we age to reassure ourselves and stop us from feeling the guilt of missed experiences or not quite making life turn out how we wanted?

I’m sure this is all what one of my friends has described as natural behaviour – women aged 29-33 stay away from – they’re all desperate to marry and make babies apparently. When we first met when I was just a wee 21 year old I used to scoff at his comments and accuse him of being an arrogant sexist pig. Funny now as I’m within that age band my thoughts have taken a different turn…

Riding rant

I think we all know I’ve got just a tad obsessed with spinning lately. This week and the future plan now being to go to spin class every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday! In fact I’m even considering investing in a pain of padded cycling trousers – what with the bike and then the horse riding saddle on a Sunday – it is not comfortable!

Obviously my cycling exploits are limited to that of the stationary bikes downstairs in the gym and specialist spin machines in the studio upstairs, rather than venturing out on a ‘real’ bicycle. In fact the last time I settled my feet onto some actual bike pedals was around seven years ago when I was in Australia and participated in the Wobbly Wine Tour (great fun, really recommend it!)

Given the fact I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager (ah memories of cycling round the local estates with one of my best friends come flooding back), I was impressively wobbly before I’d even consumed any alcohol! Strangely enough that was my first and last return to riding a proper bike since.

What has my sudden love of spinning got to do with anything, you ask? Why am I typing away about this hobby yet again? I’m afraid the reason is I’m preparing to rant, as yet again something happened whilst I was out of the office at work today which is becoming a regular occurrence.

Those who do cycle and are very good at it, I have nothing against them, particularly people who do it for fitness - choosing to cycle rather than tube or bus it to work – or those who cycle miles for charity events.

However, what I don’t like is the seemingly growing number of cyclists who are a law unto themselves. You know the ones I mean, they undertake you in the car, they go storming across red lights and they travel on the road one minute and the pavement the next.

My rant is mostly aimed at those on standard bicycles, although I’ve had my share of moron motorcyclists too believe me. On a drive to the station to get to work my boyfriend and I had a motorbike try and come down the side of the car despite seeing my boyfriend signalling to go right, when they swerved past – and cut him up – the passenger turned round giving us evils and the finger! Nice.

At least I’ve found them to follow the rules of the road to the extent they don’t cut the lights though – or in my experience so far. Cyclists ever-increasingly, particularly in London just do as they please.

I noticed a colleague the other day on social media complain they were walking along and had headphones in and had stopped to look at their phone or something and a cyclist just missed them. Nearly every day when I go to cross Bishopsgate or Commercial Street on the way to or from the office I see a cyclist go speeding through a red light. Quite often they ring their bell continuously and have the cheek to shout out complaints at the pedestrians crossing over at the time too.

What angers me even more is the whole campaign about looking out for cyclists and how drivers should be careful not to run them down or knock them over. Perhaps if more people followed the rules of the road correctly that would help for a start (as a non-driver I acknowledge there are plenty of drivers out there who aren’t so good at this too granted).

Maybe a more realistic campaign would be to warn pedestrians to look out for cyclists as they may well be run down by them. If you’re not a child you need to ride on the road, if you’re going to ride on the road you need to follow the general rules of the road. Simple.

Why is it cyclists think they can create their own rules and do as they please? And as for those that go speeding along the pavement and nearly knock into you as you walk along, to then return to the road when they’re good and ready again? How is that acceptable?

How can people plead for more courtesy on the roads, when they don’t follow that form of behaviour themselves?

I’m going to stick to my bike that is firmly secured to the ground for now and just pedal as fast as I can in the dark to flashing lights and beat-filled music. As for investing in some bottom protecting cycling gear, perhaps I’d be better paying out for some protective equipment to keep me safe travelling to and from work as I cross the roads instead.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Fitness fun

This week I've exercised for six out of the seven days, being active for a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

I've done my workout DVD three times, spinning twice and swimming once.

Although I'm relaxing on my sofa right now, finding it hard to keep my eyes open, I can definitely feel a difference in my fitness levels.

I felt sad about not going to horse riding this Sunday, but I have to say that swimming instead was a refreshing change.

Another surprise this weekend was yesterday's spinning class. My third one so far. I have to say I'm getting pretty addicted to it now, it is really hard work but I love it. I'm hoping to try and do it twice a week from now on.

The reason yesterday was a tad of a shock was the class turned out to be for an hour, rather than 45 minutes. 15 minutes might not sound much, but believe me when you're gradually melting away into a pool of sweat it is.

Also being on a different day the class was led by a different instructor. This woman is like the Energizer bunny! She just doesn't seem to run out of energy and I've never seen someone pedal so fast (or stretch so far!)

On a Thursday our teacher turns the lights off and we do a warm up and pedal away to bassy fast paced tracks. I thought I worked hard then. I knew nothing!

Saturday's class was insane. We cycled to a whole host of tracks, popular chart and club hits, which made you want to move even faster. The lights were off, but not completely, so instead the lights moved in time to the beats of the music.

There was no warm up. It was so loud in there that when we came out I felt like when you come out of a club after a night out and your ears are ringing for ages after.

We had higher resistance, we moved faster and I have never sweat so much in my life. It was great!

The hope now is to try doing the more structured spin on Thursday nights (which incorporates moves which help tone your arms and abs too). Then on a Saturday morning go along to pedal like a maniac and feel like I'm going clubbing at 1030 in the morning!

I'm also known as someone who likes a good drink and when I eat out I love my food and tend to go for the fattier options in the main. Now last night I went out with my friends for a girl's night out and don't get me wrong I was far from a saint, but I could sense a change in myself.

I had wine with my meal and yes we went out drinking and dancing after, but I definitely consumed less than normal. It was so nice to wake up hangover-free today and be able to head out mid morning to go swimming without feeling nauseous.

Now to plan what to try out this week...